Conditions on board a slave ship

April 3, 1846

With a title Horrors of Slavery, here is a letter from Charles H. Bell, Commander, United States Ship,Yorktown, from Kabinda, Africa, Dec 16, 1845.   The letter, addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, recounts the capture of an American bark, Pons, with eight hundred and ninety-six slaves on board.  “The vessel had no slave deck, and upwards of eight hundred and fifty slaves were piled , almost in bulk, on the water casks below; these were males.  About forty or fifty females were confined in one-half of the round house cabin on deck; the other half of the cabin remaining for the use of the officers……The stench from below was so great that it was impossible to stand more than a few moments near the hatchways.  Our men, who went below from curiosity, were forced up sick in a few minutes….What must have been the sufferings of these poor wretches when the hatches were closed?……”