On 25 March 1890, Archibald boarded the SS City of Paris, the ship that would bring him from New York back to his native land. The transatlantic liner served under the Inman line and later under the International Navigation Company. The ship was built in 1888 and held the speed record for the North Atlantic crossing from 1889 to 1893.
While on board on the 25th of March, 1890, at about eleven, a clock disaster stroke. The starboard propeller shaft broke, causing the engine to race and disintegrate. Fragments pierced the hull and the bulkhead, causing both engine rooms to flood. Fortunately, the ship's extensive subdivision proved successful, and she was not in danger of sinking, but the SS 'City of Paris' was now a helpless log floating on the ocean. Usually, this would not be a significant problem because the transatlantic line was a busy route, so that many ships could come to its aid. The problem was that the steamer was drifting southwards and thus away from the transatlantic way so that no passing ship would spot them. Late in the afternoon, the officers of the steamer decided to put the Second Captain and a crew into a whaleboat to regain the line of traffic so that assistance could be sought. A daring and dangerous mission but their last chance. Archibald and the other passengers remained on the SS 'City of Paris for two days and two nights. On the third morning, white smoke appeared on the horizon. The hopes and joy on the deck were overwhelming when a steamer appeared on the horizon, coming full speed towards them. The Second Captain and his crew had succeeded in their mission, meeting up with the SS Adriatic, which was now coming to the rescue. The SS 'City of Paris' was towed to Queenstown.
On April 1st, 1890, an article was published in The Scotsman newspaper about the incident, and the report gave an account of Major Gordon's diary. On April 4, Major Gordon's letter to the publishers was posted, stating that there were no intentions of publishing any of his diary entries.