The mutiny on the Bounty...
The true story.

Captain Bligh was a good man!

William Bligh             Fletcher Christian.

Two men,
who used to be friends,
became mortal enemies.

In 1789, there was a mutiny on
His Majesty's Armed Vessel, the Bounty...

Movie poster of Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian 
in the 1962 film, Mutiny on the Bounty.

November, 1787

While commonly called the HMS Bounty, (His Majesty's Ship),
the correct name was HMAV Bounty.
There were small cannons on the ship, making it an 'armed vessel'.

The Bounty was the smallest ship
William Bligh would ever command.
It had a very small crew of only 46 men.
painting of Captain William Bligh

He was officially a lieutenant, working for half the pay of a captain.
(And that was the source of some of the problems).
The men could call him Captain out of respect.

William Bligh was 33 years old.

One of the Bounty crewmen had sailed
on an earlier voyage with Bligh.

They both respected the other.
The crewman had spoken highly of Bligh as a commander.
Bligh recommended him for the Bounty and genuinely liked him.

The crewman had visited the Bligh's home and
had 'danced Bligh's children on his knee'.

That crewman's name... was Fletcher Christian.

The physical description of Fletcher Christian sounds
like he really did look like actor Clark Gable.

Here is a scene from the 1935 film with
Charles Laughton as Captain William Bligh.

This is a scene showing Fletcher Christian 
arguing with Captain Bligh.

Some movie trivia:
Marlon Brando was married to an actress named Movita,
who actually played a role in the 1935 'Mutiny on the Bounty' film.
When the film was remade in 1962, he fell in love with his 19 year old co-star,
who played the role of the real life Maimiti (Fletcher Christian's love).
Marlon got a divorce and married his new love.
They divorced in 1972.

October 26, 1788, the Bounty arrived at Tahiti.

Because of frustrating delays and a failure
to get around the tip of South America
(the short way), the Bounty sailed 28,000 miles.
Arriving too late in the season, it was forced
to remain in Tahiti much longer than planned.

April 4, 1789, the Bounty departed Tahiti with 1015 breadfruit trees.

Mutiny! April 28th, 1789

At 5 AM, Bligh is asleep in his small cabin.
His door was open, as it had been throughout the voyage.
Suddenly, Fletcher Christian and other men grab Bligh, tying his hands behind him.
He is led past men with firearms and swords and taken to the deck.

Bligh said, "Mr. Christian. You have danced my children on your knee".

Fletcher Christian repeatedly said,
"I have been in Hell. I have been in Hell."

Captain Bligh did indeed act irrationally when the Bounty left Tahiti.
But they had spent over five months on that Island.
He just wanted to get home to his wife and daughters.

Sailors knew that life on a boat was hard.
They knew that mutiny was punished by hanging.
All they had to do was return to England, pick up their back pay
and be free to do whatever they wished, including returning to Tahiti.

But a number of them chose to let one man do their thinking...

He was the most popular man on the boat,
but Fletcher Christian was mentally unstable.

How many of you knew that Fletcher
seriously considered building a raft and floating away?
He was not thinking clearly; he was actually suicidal.
Months later, many of the mutineers hated him for talking them into a mutiny.

Bligh and 18 other men were forced into a small craft
that was just 8 inches above the water line.
They were given provisions but it must have been assumed...
that they would all die.

They began a 3618 mile journey, which took 49 days.
Somehow, with the loss of only one man, they succeeded.
Bligh would return to England as a hero.

Later, he would see his name and reputation destroyed.

After the mutiny, the Bounty
did not go directly to Tahiti.

The mutineers went to the Island of Tubuai.
There is a major story concerning the mutineers and this Island.
However, because of time constraints and controversy,
the movies have never shown this.

Over 80 natives would die.

When the Bounty returned to Tahiti for the final time,
the truth about the mutiny was discovered...
and the Tahitian people were outraged.

The movies always got it wrong.

The most popular film of 1935 was 'The Mutiny on the Bounty',
starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.

In 1962, Trevor Howard appeared as Captain William Bligh,
opposite Marlon Brando in the Fletcher Christian role,
in the most expensive rendition of the story. The film went millions over budget.

Absolutely the most historically accurate was the 1984 film 'The Bounty',
starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.

Regardless, the story that these films depicted was completely wrong.

Captain Bligh was not a madman.
He treated his crews better than most British Captains.

And Fletcher Christian... was not a hero.

scene showing Fletcher's Tahitian wife 
 talking to her father about leaving Tahiti.

Here's a scene from the Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins film, 'The Bounty'.
It's far and away more accurate than any of the other films.
Also in the cast were a couple of unknown actors
named Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson.

Mel Gibson described Fletcher Christian.
"He was a 24 year old kid, and he was acting like one."

The scene depicted above never happened...

When the Bounty made its final visit to Tahiti,
Fletcher Christian did not get off the boat.

Many of the Tahitians who went to Pitcairn
with the mutineers... were kidnapped!

The Bounty departed Tahiti on September 23, 1789, with 9 mutineers.
(16 others, some who had participated in the mutiny and some who had not,
elected to stay on Tahiti and take their chances).
Along with them were twelve Tahitian women and six Tahitian men.
Do the math; you can see that there will be a problem.
There were more men than women.

After Tahiti and before the Island of Pitcairn was found,
something bad happened...

A woman named Jenny spent 30 years on Pitcairn Island.
She related this account in 1829.
There is no reason to think that she is not telling the truth.

"After many days had elapsed, a small island was discovered,
called by the natives Purutea.
A canoe came off, bringing a pig and cocoa-nuts.
(Natives approached the Bounty with gifts).

One of the natives ventured on board, and was much delighted at beholding
the pearl-shell buttons on the jacket of Capt. Christian (Fletcher),
who, in a very friendly manner, gave the man the jacket.

The latter stood on the ship's gunwale, showing the present to his countrymen,
when one of the mutineers shot him dead. He fell into the sea.

Christian was highly indignant at this; but could do nothing more,
having lost all authority, than reprimand the murderer severely."

The Bounty arrived at Pitcairn Island
on January 15th, 1790.
That's when things went really bad...

cover of my book about the mutiny

I invite you to read my book from Amazon.

Voyage to Hell!
A new look... at the mutiny on the Bounty

Forget about what you've seen in the movies.
This is the true story.

Images of Pitcairn Island

Terrible things have happened on Pitcairn

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