The ship had been at sea for 17 days. There were over 500 kidnapped Africans onboard. Fifty-five had already been thrown overboard.
The Africans were crowded below the main deck. Each deck was only 3 feet 3 inches high. They were packed so tight that they were sitting up between one another’s legs, everyone completely nude. As Walsh recounted, “there was no possibility of their lying down or at all changing their position by night or day.”
Each had been branded, “burnt with the red-hot iron,” on their breast or arm. Many were children, little girls and little boys.
Not only could light not reach down into the bowels of those ships, neither could fresh air. As Walsh recounted, “The heat of these horrid places was so great and the odor so offensive that it was quite impossible to enter them, even had there been room.”
These people, these human beings, sat in their own vomit, urine and feces, and that of others. If another person sat between your legs, their bowels emptied out on you. These voyages regularly lasted over a month, meaning many women onboard experienced menstruation in these conditions.
Many of the enslaved, sick or driven mad, were thrown overboard. Others simply jumped. In fact, there was so much human flesh going over the side of those ships that sharks learned to trail them.
This voyage was so horrific that I can only surmise that the men, women and children who survived it were superhuman, the toughest and the most resilient our species has to offer.