Daily Event for January 8

January 8, 1887: The German sailing vessel Elizabeth, while approaching Little Island (now Virginia Beach), Virginia, was wrecked during a blizzard. The ship was heading to Baltimore from Hamburg carrying twenty two crew when she hit the rocks about 1,000 feet from shore around midnight. The ship was noticed by the lifesaving station about 1 a.m. and rescue operations were underway by 5 a.m.

The strong winds prevented rescue attempts for a while but, finally the men from the lifesaving service launched a boat and rowed out to the wreck. The crew were in the process of launching a boat when the lifesavers reached the Elizabeth after daylight. The captain and six of the crew got into the surfboat with the seven men from the lifesaving service while   the remainder of the crew took Elizabeth's lifeboat.

After many hours of effort to save the twenty two man crew the boats began to make the return trip to shore. Sadly a large wave crashed the two boats capsizing them and dumping the occupants into the cold water. All twenty two of the Elizabeth's crew and five of the lifesavers were killed, either by drowning or due to exposure. Only two men managed to get to shore alive.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock