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Receiving information, from some of the spanish 1805. prisoners probably, that a french privateer of 26 No. guns was fitting out at Muros, and nearly ready for sea, and being acquainted, by having formerly entered it on service, with the navigation of the bay, captain Maitland resolved to attempt the capture or destruction of the vessel. Accordingly, on the 4th, Loire at 9 A.M., having prepared the Loire for anchoring o with springs and settled the plan of attack, captain boy. Maitland stood into the bay, with the sea breeze, having in tow the boats, containing 50 officers and men, under the command of lieutenant Yeo, assisted by lieutenants of marines Samuel Mallock and Joseph Douglas, and master's mate Charles Clinch. As the Loire hauled round the point of Muros Is fired road, a small battery of two long 18-pounders.” opened a fire upon her. A few shot were returned ; forts. but, perceiving that the battery, from its commanding situation, would considerably annoy the ship, captain Maitland directed lieutenant Yeo to push for the shore and spike the guns. That active officer, with his men, quickly departed, and the Loire stood on. As she opened the bay, the frigate discovered at anchor within it a long corvette, pierced with 13 ports of a side, apparently ready for sea, and a brig pierced with 10, in a state of fitting; but, as neither of them fired, they were considered to be, and were, in fact, without their guns. This circumstance enabled the Loire to bestow the whole of her attention upon a fort of 12 long 18pounders, which now opened to view within less than a quarter of a mile of her, and which immediately commenced as well-directed fire at the frigate, almost every shot striking her hull. Perceiving that, by standing further on, more guns would be brought to bear upon her, and that the Loire would still be at too great a distance to fire her guns with any effect, captain Maitland ordered the helm to be put down; and, as soon as she had run a solo little closer in, the frigate anchored with a spring, hors. WOL. IV, O
1805, and opened her broadside. So completely, how... ever, were the Spaniards in the fort covered by their embrasures, that the frigate's fire, although well directed, was comparatively ineffectual. After a few minutes of this unequal warfare, during which the Loire had nine of her seamen wounded, three of them dangerously, (one having his leg above the knee, and another the calf of his leg, shot off,) the to. fire from the fort ceased; and, as a reason for it, * the british union was just then making its apearance above the walls. Lieut. We will now quit the frigate awhile, and attend ... to the party, on shore. Lieutenant Yeo, whom we the left proceeding to storm the battery on the point, 5. landed under it; but, as he and his men advanced tery. to execute the service, the Spaniards in the battery, amounting to 18, including eight artillerymen, abandoned their guns and fled. Scarcely had the british seamen time to spike the two 18-pounders, when, at the distaffee of about a quarter .# a mile, and close to the entrance of the town of Muros, was descried the fort, whose destructive cannonade upon the frigate has already been related, and which had just then commenced its fire. Notwithstanding that it was a regular ditched fort, and appeared a very strong one, relying upon the bravery of his followers, and, in a case of such imminent danger to the ship, readily incurring the responsibility of exceeding his orders, lieutenant Yeo resolved to attempt its immediate reduction. storms Not suspecting an attack by land, and being ... wholly occupied in firing at the frigate, the garrison *" had left open the outer gate of the fort. Through ... this a french sentinel, having fired his musket, retreated, and was quickly followed by the van of the storming party. At the inner gate the garrison, headed by the governor, stood ready to oppose the British; but lieutenant Yeo, setting a noble example to his men, sprang forward, and, attacking
the governor sword in hand, laid him dead at his feet, breaking his own sabre by the force of the 1805. blow. The contest now became most severe; the jo. greater part of the officers, who had advanced with the governor, shortly experiencing a similar fate from such of the British, as the narrowness of the entrance had permitted to be at hand to second their gallant leader. The boldness and vigour of the assault was irresistible, and the remainder of the garrison, although numbering, at that time, 90 or 100 effective men, fled to the farther end of the fort; from the embrasures of which many of them leaped upon the rocks, a height of about 25 feet. Shortly after this, the survivors within the fort laid down their arms, and the british colours were hoisted on the flagstaff. Considering the force opposed to them, which, at ion the beginning of the attack, consisted of 22 spanish join soldiers, several spanish gentlemen and townsmen, * volunteers, and about 100 of the crew of the french " privateer Confiance, at anchor in the hāfbour, the British were fortunate in escaping with only six slightly wounded; lieutenant Yeo, Mr. Clinch the master's mate, three seamen, and one marine. The loss on the part of the garrison was extremely severe: the governor of the fort, a spanish gentleman who had volunteered, the second captain of the Confiance, and nine others were killed; and 30, including nearly all the officers of the privateer, were wounded. The character of this achievement, as it here has #: been detailed, is too obvious to need elucidation by modes. any remarks that can be offered. Yet we cannot quito. the subject without showing, to what an extent the nity, brave man's attributes, modesty and humanity, were possessed by the officer who had so distinguished himself on the occasion. Not a word is to be found in lieutenant Yeo's letter, respecting the personal conflict between himself and the spanish governor. It is captain Maitland who discloses the fact, and who states that he derived it from the testimony of the prisoners, and of those who accompanied his first lieu
1805, tenant to the attack. As a proof that the tenderest ... sympathy may exist in the boldest heart, we here quote the concluding words of lieutenant Yeo's letter to captain Maitland: “To their credit as Englishmen, as well as (to the credit of) their profession, the instant the fort was in our possession, they (the seamen and marines) seemed to try who could be the first to relieve and assist the poor wounded prisoners, who were lying in numbers in different parts of the fort; and I had the pleasure to see their humanity amply repaid by the gratitude the unfortunate men's friends expressed when they came to take them away.” The twelve 18-pounders being spiked and thrown over the parapet, the carriages broken, and the embrasures, with a part of the fort, blown up, the British, taking with them 40 barrels of powder, two small brass cannon, and 50 stands of arms, retired from the scene of their exploits to their boats on the can beach, and soon pulled back to the Loire. Captain of Maitland, meanwhile, had, by an officer and boat's i., crew, taken quiet possession of the two unarmed * french privateers, also of a spanish merchant brig in ballast. The Confiance was a ship of 490 tons, and had carried 24 guns on a flush deck; probably long 6-pounders, or 18-pounder carronades;* her ports being too close together and too small for any higher caliber of long gun or carronade. The brig was the Bélier, the same probably that, in the spring of 1803, carried out despatches to rear-admiral Linois in the East Indies. F. Her guns, stated to be 18-pounder carronades, were also on shore; and the vessel herself was quite in an unprepared state, having only her"lower rigging overhead. As soon as possession had been taken of these vessels, captain Maitland sent a flag of truce to the
* The guns are called by captain Maitland twelves and nines; but he evidently had not seen them, nor is it clear that those had who made the report.
1 See vol. iii. p. 306.
town, with a message to the effect that, if the inha- 1805. bitants would deliver up such stores of the ship . as were on shore, they should receive no further molestation. This proposal was readily agreed to; and the British brought off all the stores of the Confiance, except her guns; which, as the embarkation of them would have occupied some time, and a large body of troops was in the vicinity, were left behind. A great many small merchant vessels were afloat in the bay and hauled up on the beach; but, having a just sense of the inhumanity of depriving the poorer inhabitants of the means of gaining a livelihood, and knowing that the cargoes of such vessels as had any would be worth little or nothing to the captors, (of which others, besides himself and his ship's company, formed a part,) captain Maitland left them untouched. As if to give the finish to an exploit so gallantly begun, and so handsomely concluded, the bishop and one of the principal inhabitants of Muros ... came off to the Loire, to express their gratitude for ...", the orderly behaviour of the british seamen and ma- bishop rines, who had not, they acknowledged, committed ..." one act of pillage, and to offer to captain Maitland , and his officers every refreshment which the place afforded. Immediately on arriving home, lieutenant Yeo Promo: received his well-earned reward in the commission off." commander, and sailed upon his first cruise in the Yeo. ship which he had been so instrumental in capturing. On the 21st of December, 1807, captain Yeo was promoted to post-rank, but retained the command of the Confiance, by her captain's elevation, now raised in rank from a sloop to a post-ship. It is singular that, although no increase was or could be made in her armament, (22 carronades, 18-pounders, and two sixes,) the Confiance had her complement increased from 121 to 140 men and boys. . On the 13th of June, in latitude 29 north, longi-o, tude 62° west, the british 18-pounder 40-gun frigate o: Cambrian, captain John Poer Beresford, despatched Maria.