THE “ROBERT E. LEE.” – This truly handsome steamer, which has been in course of construction, at Fayetteville, for some months past, made her first trip to this city yesterday. She arrived at the wharf of Messrs. Williams & Murchison about 4 ½ o’clock, P. M., having made the trip from Council’s Bluff, about twenty eight miles below Fayetteville, a distance of 92 miles from this city, in ten hours, which is considered very good speed. She was built by Mr. Archibald G. Black, of Fayetteville, and is a handsome specimen of marine architecture. Her length is 115 feet from stem to stern, and 18 feet beam. Her freight capacity is from 500 to 600 bbls., and her passenger accommodations are of a first0class character. The ladies’ cabin contains six comfortable berths, a dressing-room and other conveniences. — Adjoining this apartment is the dining room, fitted up in fine style. On either side of the steamer, between the dining room and gentlemen’s cabin, is a handsome and neatly furnished state-room. — Next, in turn, comes the gentlemen’s cabin. This contains twelve berths. The sitting room for gentlemen is situated near the bow of the boat, the furthest attainable distance from the ladies’ apartment, thus preventing the latter being disturbed by any noise in which the sterner sex may be pleased to indulge. The floors of the different apartments are covered with handsome carpets and oil-cloths. The Robert E. Lee is commanded by Capt. T. J. Green, the former well-known and skillful commander of the North Carolina. — She was constructed for Mr. Thos. S. Lutterloh, the long known enterprising proprietor of the “Lutterloh Line.” Mr. Black has displayed a commendable degree of skill in the construction of the “Bobby Lee,” and in congratulating him on his success, we doubtless reinterate the enconiums of this as well as of the community of Fayetteville.
The painting is a marvel of neatness, and was applied by Mr. J. A. Parker, a youth over whose head the suns of only eighteen summers have passed.
No more appropriate name than the one she bears could have been selected – a name obnoxious to none – a name which commands the respect of all – a name dear to every Southern hear, and a name which will live forever in the annals of heroes, and be engraved in flaming letters upon the pages of History.
(Wilmington Star – December 12, 1868)
A Sad Reminder.
The wrecked boiler of the steamer R. E. Lee, which exploded on the Cape Fear River some months since, is now lying on the wharf near what was formerly known as the “Hole-in-the-Wall,” a sad reminder of the terrible disaster and loss of life and property of which it was the cause.
(Wilmington Star – March 12, 1872)
BURNING OF A STEAMER.
The Steamer R. E. Lee Destroyed by Fire –
She Burns to the Water’s Edge –
Loss About $8,000 – Insured for $5,000.
Yesterday morning, about half past 9 o’clock, smoke was seen issuing from the Steamer R. E. Lee, lying at her wharf opposite the Custom House, which was followed by the bursting forth of flame and the rapid exit from the boat of the Captain and others on her at the time. The flames spread with great rapidity and in an incredible short space of time, probably not exceeding five minutes, the Lee was one mass of seething flame from stem to stern. The alarm of fire was sounded and the engines hastened to the scene, but before their arrival the Front Street Host Company, under command of Col. J. R. Davis, of the Purcell House, had their hose attached to the pump of the Merchants’ Flouring Mills, in the vicinity of the fire, and had a stream upon it. The shed on the wharf of Messrs. Williams & Murchison, caught fire, as also did the wharf in some places, together with a quantity of wood piled on it, but was kept under partial control until the engines got their streams on it. In the meantime the steamer was being rapidly consumed, and fears were entertained that the sheds, &c., would certainly succumb to the heat, which was now intense, when suddenly the beautiful little steamer Wm. Nyce, under command of Capt. Edgar Williams, came gallantly to the rescue, and with a master hand at the helm, who controlled the motions of the little craft with a nicety of precision which won the admiration of all who witnessed the heroic exploit, soon had a hawser attached to the bow of the burning steamer and bore her swiftly into the stream, where the fire could not further extend its ravages.
Captain Williams, of the steamer Nyce, deserves much credit for his action in the matter and the promptness with which his plans were executed. The burning boat was subsequently towed up to the Railroad shoals, opposite Point Peter, where she soon parted in the middle and went down, proving a total loss, as far as her hull is concerned.
Fortunately, the steamer had discharged her freight before the accident occurred, with the exception of a coop of chickens or two, a lot of honey, &c., altogether not amounting to more than $50 or $60 in value, and was preparing to take on her cargo for the return trip.
The R. E. Lee belonged to the Express Company’s line of steamers plying between this city and Fayetteville, and was valued at about $8,000. She was insured in the Aetna, of Hartford, Conn., Mr. T. C. DeRosset agent in this city, for $5,000.
Among the incidents of the fire we may mention the following:
So rapidly did the flames spread, owing to the spirits of turpentine, fine powdered rosin, &c., with which the deck was coated, that Capt. Robeson, who was standing just inside of the cabin door, in his shirt sleeves, did not have time to save his coat. Luckily, he had but a short time previously taken a considerable sum of money from a pocket of the coat.
During the progress of the fire the cry was raised that the boiler of the steamer was about to burst, which caused a great stampede among those in the vicinity, a great many of who did not stop short of Front street. It was just about this time that the Steamer Nyce performed the exploit of hitching on to the wreck and conveying it into the stream.
But for the tin on the roof of the shed on the wharf near the fire, which protected it, it would certainly have been consumed, and as there was a considerable quantity of spirits, rosin, &c., stored under it, the danger of a very destructive conflagration would have been imminent.
A water battle between the “Adrian” and “Cape Fear,” across an intervening wood pile, caused a little excitement and some feeling, but amounted to nothing serious.
(Wilmington Star – July 18, 1874)