Maritime and Military Package
Tour Participation Requirements
It's easy to forget that Savannah is a port town with all the historic homes piquing your interest and the ghosts running around. But as you'll see at the Maritime Museum, Savannah's port launched a thousand ships including the steamer that would chart a totally new course for trans-Atlantic travel.
The SS Savannah was dubbed a "steam coffin" when the news broke that it was intended for trans-Atlantic travel: The year was 1819, and a ship powered by steam had never crossed the Atlantic. But Scarbrough Isaacs, the steamship's wealthy owners, insisted its voyage would be one for the history books. They hired Captain Moses Rogers, whose reputation would ensure they'd find a few good seamen.
Savannah's owners made every effort to secure passengers and freight for the voyage, but no one was willing to risk lives or property aboard such a novel vessel. So the ship set off for Europe in a purely experimental capacity on May 24, 1819. When it arrived in Liverpool 29 days later, Savannah had made history and launched a new era in travel.
The Savannah had proven that a steamship was capable of crossing the ocean, but it would be almost another 20 years before ships started making regular trips across the Atlantic. Savannah sank off Long Island in 1823; you'll see a miniature version at the museum.
No to Napoleon
Savannah was swarmed by thousands of people when she docked in Liverpool, and not just because she'd made history. Rumors swirled that the ship had been engaged to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from exile on the island of St. Helena. Napoleon's brother had recently offered a large reward for the task. But Savannah headed north instead, becoming the first steamship to enter the Baltic Sea, and Napoleon died two years later.
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