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1805. her boats under the command of lieutenant Robert June. Pigot, to attack the spanish 'privateer schooner
Maria, of 14 guns and 60 men. Lieutenant Pigot, with the launch as the leading boat, gallantly boarded the privateer; and, assisted by lieutenant the honourable George Alfred Crofton in the bargé, gallantly carried the vessel in spite of a stout resistance. Just as this had been accomplished the other boats succeeded in getting up. The loss sustained by the British, in this very spirited enterprise, amounted to
two seamen killed and two wounded. Cap On the 3d of July, after a chase of 22 hours, the french Cambrian overtook and captured the french privateer prir, schooner Matilda, of, according to captain Beres
ford's public letter, “ 20 guns, 9-pounders;" but, taking this to be a typographical error, (no unfrequent case in the London Gazette, as we have already shown,) we shall say, of 10 long 8-pounders, and 95 men. The schooner surrendered
in very shoal water; and, but for the exertions of lieutenant Pigot with one of the boats, every soul in the privateer would in all probability have been lost.
Having placed lieutenant Pigot and a party of Pigot officers and men on board the prize, captain BeresMary's ford despatched her to St.-Mary's river, forming the river. southern boundary of the United States of America,
in search of a spanish schooner privateer and two captured merchant ships. On the 6th lieutenant Pigot arrived off the harbour of St.-Mary's, and on the 7th proceeded 12 miles up the river, through a continual fire from the militia and riflemen stationed on the bank. On arriving within gun-shot of the three vessels, he found them lashed in a line across the river ; the privateer being armed with six guns and 70 men, the ship, which was the Golden-Grove, late of London, with eight 6-pounders, six swivels,and 50 men, and the brig, which was the Ceres, late of London, with swivels and small-arms. The Matilda immediately opened her fire, and continued it for an hour until she grounded. Lieutenant Pigot then took to his
boats; and, in spite of an obstinate resistance, carried 1805. the ship. With her guns he obliged the enemy to quit July. the brig and schooner; and, after taking possession of them, he turned the fire of all three vessels upon the militia, about 100 in number, drawn up on the bank with a field-piece. These he at length completely routed; but, owing to adverse winds, was not, until the 21st, able to descend the river with his prizes and rejoin the Cambrian.
The loss sustained by the British in this very gallant affair amounted to two men killed and 14 wounded, including among the latter, lieutenant Pigot himself, by musket-balls in three places, two in the head and one in the leg. That brave and enterprising officer would not quit the deck, except to have his wounds dressed, during the whole time this arduous service was performing. The 14 wounded also included master's mate William Lawson (severely) and midshipman Andrew Mitchell. Three other midshipmen, messieurs Thomas Saville Griffinhoofe, Henry Bolman, and George Williamson, are spoken of, in similar terms of approbation, by captain Beresford in his despatch. The loss on the spanish side is represented to have amounted to 25 seamen killed, including five Americans, and 22 seamen wounded. For the gallantry, perseverance, and ability he had displayed, lieutenant Pigot was justly promoted to the rank of commander.
In the early part of July the british 18-pounder Blanche 36-gun frigate Blanche, captain Zachariah Mudge, sils quitted the squadron of commodore Michael de deCourcy cruising off the east end of Jamaica, bound spatchesso to the island of Barbadoes, with despatches for vice-admiral lord Nelson. On the 17th, when about 40 leagues to the westward of the island of Sombrero, the Blanche spoke a british merchant ship from Grenada to Dublin, and learnt that the homewardbound Leeward-island fleet were to sail in three or four days after her departure, under convoy of the 20-gun ship Proselyte.
1805. On the 19th, at 8 A, M., latitude 20° 20' north, and July. longitude 66° 44' west, being close hauled on the
larboard tack, with a fresh breeze at east, the Blanche discovered off the weather cat-head four sail, three ships and a brig, standing on the opposite tack, under easy sail; and which, from the course they steered, and their indistinct appearance through the prevailing haze, were taken for a part of the above-mentioned convoy.
The Blanche therefore continued to stand on, until, baving hoisted
the customary signals without effect, captain Mudge Falls in began to suspect that the strangers were enemies, Topaze; and, making sail, kept more away. At 8h. 30m. A.M.,
when about three miles distant, the french 40-gun sorts. frigate Topaze, captain François-André Baudin,
followed by the ship-corvettes, Département-desLandes, of 20 long 8-pounders on the main deck, and two brass 6-pounders on the poop, or short quarterdeck, lieutenant René-Jacques-Henri Desmontils, and Torche, of 18 long 12-pounders, lieutenant Nicolas-Philippe Dehen, and by the brigcorvette Faune, of 16 long 6-pounders, lieutenant Charles Brunet,* bore down, under english colours.t “ But," says captain Mudge in his public letter, “ from the make of the union and colour of the bunting, with other circumstances, I concluded they
were french.” Topaze At 9 h. 45 m. A. M.,I having advanced still
more ahead of her companions, and, as well as they, substituted french for english colours, the
* Capt. Mudge names this officer as commanding the Torche.
+ The british official account makes the bearing down take place “at ten.” This must be another mistake; for, if the french ships were on the Blanche's “weather cat-head at eight, on the opposite tack" to her, it could scarcely have taken them even as much as half an hour to get " abreast :" whereas, at the end of two hours, namely, till 10 A. M., the two parties, each steering an opposite course, would have been many miles apart. This mistake is important, as it leads to several others in the minutes of the action that ensued.
# Here again occurs a variation, but it will be best explained when we come to the close of the action.
commences the action.
Topaze discharged her larboard broadside into the 1805. starboard quarter of the Blanche ; who, finding that July. she could not escape from her pursuers, (having at the time very little copper upon her bottom,) had shortened sail, and was at the distance of about 500 yards from the Topaze. As soon as the latter arrived within pistol-shot, the Blanche returned the fire, and the action continued with spirit; all the vessels running large under easy sail, " the ships," continues captain Mudge, “never without hail of each other, the Département-des-Landes on the starboard quarter, and the two corvettes close astern." At about 10 h. 15 m. A. M. the Blanche attempted to cross the bows of the Topaze, and would probably have succeeded, had not the latter suddenly brailed up her foresail, and put her helm hard a-starboard. By this manouvre the Topaze grazed with her jib-boom the mizen shrouds of the Blanche, and, in passing under the latter's stern, poured in a heavy, but comparatively harmless, raking fire. The engagement continued until about 11 A. M. ;* when, having her sails totally destroyed, 10 shot in the foremast, several in the mainmast, her rigging cut to pieces, seven of her guns dismounted, and six feet water in the hold, the Blanche Blanche struck lier colours. At this moment, according to renders M. Baudin's account, the Département-des-Landes was in the wake of the Blanche, the Torche within gun-shot on her starboard side, and the Faune farther off, “ en observation.'
The net complement of the Blanche was 261 men Loss and boys; but, having 28 men absent, and being deficient of some others, she commenced the action of the with only 215. Of these the Blanche had seven ants. seamen and one marine killed, her boatswain, (William Hewett,) 12 seamen, (three mortally,) and one lieutenant (Thomas Peebles) and one private of
* At noon, according to captain Mudge's letter; but, as respects the duration of the action, the only important point, the british and the french accounts exactly correspond. See note # in the preceding page,
1805, marines wounded. The Topaze had a crew of 340 July. men and boys, exclusively, captain Mudge says, of 70
officers and privates of the french army as passengers, making a total of 410. Of these, according to captain Baudin's account, (and there is nothing in the british account to contradict the statement,) the Topaze had but one man killed and 11 wounded, two of them mortally. Not a man appears to have been hurt, nor the slightest damage to have happened, on board either of the three remaining french vessels.
The french captain also states, that the Département-des-Landes fired only 18 shot, and the Torche, towards the close of the action, three broadsides. The Faune, upon the same authority, did not fire a shot. Moreover, captain Baudin positively declares, that captain Mudge acknowledged to him, that the Département-des-Landes was the only vessel, except the Topaze, which had done the Blanche any injury, and that that injury was confined to the rigging and sails.
The Blanche, a fine frigate of 951 tons, was armed of the upon her quarterdeck and forecastle with 14 carrongates.
ades, 32-pounders, and four long nines; making her total of guns 44. The Topaze, a remarkably fine frigate of 1132 tons, also mounted 44 guns, including 10 iron carronades, 36-pounders, the first of the kind we have observed in the french navy. The force of the three corvettes has already been given.
Without the aid of a comparative statement, sufmarks ficient appears to show, that the Blanche had, alaction, though not a “three to one,"* a very superior force
to contend with; and that no resistance in her power to offer, without some extraordinary mishap to her principal antagonist, could have absolutely reversed the issue of the battle. By a more close and animated cannonade at the onset, the Blanche might, perhaps, have beaten off the french frigate. In that event, the british frigate, if necessary, could have outrun the corvettes, they, as admitted, being slow sailers; or she might have drawn them apart from
* Brenton, vol. iii. p. 515.