Bound for Charleston, SC with a cargo of rum, lime, crockery ware and lumber, the Enterprize carried 15 passengers and one horse in addition to her crew. Before dawn, on the morning of October 27, 1822, she struck without warning and bilged. Captain Ephriam Eldridge knew he was somewhere to the north of Cape Hatteras, but had no idea as to which of the sandy coast islands he had struck or how far his vessel was from shore.
The passengers were roused from their berths and immediately took to the rigging. The crew soon followed as waves began breaking over the stranded ship. When it was determined the vessel was neither breaking up or completely filled with water, the men came down from the rigging and attempted to pump her out. In the process, the lime had somehow caught fire, dooming the passengers and crew to the prospect of being drowned or burned to death.
Wrote passenger William Gardiner, “I told them not to despair, that the Lord was a prayer hearing and prayer answering God, and that I still cherished the hope we should escape.”
In the meantime, the horse was led to the side and pushed overboard with the thought that if he could reach land, no doubt the rest of them could! The horse did reach land ... in fact, the vessel was so close that he almost waded ashore followed by everyone on board. In this way all were saved.
Once on the beach, some of the passengers discovered the marks of a cart’s wheels in the sand. “It was like the soft beams of the moon which kindly illumines the path of the benighted traveler, and guides into a place of shelter,” Gardiner wrote. They followed the tracks and soon met three men on horseback who informed them that they were on Chicacomico Banks, some 30 miles north of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
At the time there were about 24 families living on the island. When the survivors reached the village of Chicamacomico, arrangements were made with Captain Edward Scarborough, a prominent resident of Kinnakeet, to hire his schooner, the Thomas A. Blount, for passage across the sound to Ocracoke. When the Blount left Chicacomico the next day, the horse was not on board ... by nightfall, neither was Captain Scarborough. That afternoon the Blount ran into bad weather and the Captain was washed overboard, never to be found.