About sixteen miles to the east, Wilkes had seen a beautiful islet that he judged to be far enough from Malolo that they might bury (Lieutenant) Underwood and (Midshipman) Henry “… with out exhumation …it was a lovely spot”. Wilkes wrote “In a shade so dense that scarce a ray of sun could penetrate it”. The grave had been dug deep into the white sand which was soon stained red with blood. (Prilbrick,N. 2003)
“War was now declared against the
Wars can be peculiar; some are famous but many remain insignificant, forgotten or unknown. The Oxford Dictionary defines wars as hostility between nations and between “persons”, formally declared or otherwise and regardless of dimension. Americans know of the battles of Valley Forge,
During that period, “The Feejees” or “
The 1840 incident on
On the cutter’s arrival at the village there was disagreement over the value of the pigs, their size and a delay by the chief to conclude the transaction. The Fijian hostage escaped which resulted in a warning bullet being fired over his head. Thinking that his son was being killed the chief ordered his warriors, armed with war clubs, to attack the foreign sailors. Lt. George Emmons, writing in his log, was of the opinion the escape of the hostage was the signal for over a 100 warriors to ambush Underwood’s party as they were heavily armed and waiting hidden in the mangroves. In the subsequent mêlée, Underwood and Wilkes were both killed heroically covering the retreat of the sailors to the cutter. Only one unnamed sailor and Clark stood by their officers. Single-handed
Emmons on the USS Fying Fish, observing what was happening headed for the beach with another officer, Lt. Alden. They found the beach now abandoned excepted for the two near-naked bodies of the American officers; both had been stripped. They were shocked to find a white man staggering out of the scrub with “… his face a horrible mess of mangled flesh”; it was
After recovering the two bodies, the American ships sailed to a small uninhabited island named Kadavulailai about 16 miles from Malolo. It was there on the next day, 25th July, 20 sailors of the USN carried the two young men wrapped in the American flag to a secluded part of the islet. In a grove of banyan trees the expedition’s artist, Alfred Agate, read the funeral service. After the sailors fired three volleys of musket shot over the grave as a final salute to the two deceased “… a flock of birds took wing overhead”.
The journal of Emmons recorded “War was now declared against the
After the “Malolo War” the expedition continued surveying the
A decade latter Charles Wilkes became a national hero of the American Civil War when he extradited two Confederate agents from the British vessel
Clark, George W. Journal. Unpublished records relating to The U.S. Exploring Expedition (Mircocopy 75) Roll 25 National Archives, Washington.
Emmons, G. F. Journal. Unpublished records 3 vols. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare and Manuscript Library.
PROPOSED USN GRAVE REHABILITATION – KADAVULAILAI
a) To identify and rehabilitate the two USN graves on Kadavulailai. These two officers have been bye-past by history. They should be recognized to the same public awareness as those interred at
b) Subject to consultation with the people of Malolo, erect a memorial obelisk to all those that died in 1840 four-day war.