Page images
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

1805. a few nines and carronades, to oppose to the whole

united broadsides of the french 74 and frigate. Aug.

Notwithstanding this inferiority, M. Linois did not
remain long within gun-shot, but passed on under all
sail; interchanging broadsides occasionally with the
remaining ships of the convoy, until, at about 6 P. M.,
he had run ahead of them all.

The Blenheim sustained no injury in materiel exdamage

cept a few shot-holes in her topsails; but, unfortuloss. nately, a Mr Cook, a passenger and a fine young

man, was killed by a piece of_langridge, while
standing upon the quarterdeck. The Ganges, also
one of the Marengo's acquaintances of the 15th of
February, 1804, but now commanded by captain
Thomas Talbot Harrington, had one man killed by an
8-pound shot. In the half-hour's action that occurred,
no other ship of the convoy appears to have sus-
tained any damage or loss.

The Marengo received a shot through the fish of
her mainmast. Another shot struck her fore yard;
a third passed through the poop; and several per-
forated her sails. Her loss, according to the french
official account, consisted of only eight men slightly
wounded. The Belle-Poule had her cross-jack yard
carried away in the slings, and her foresail so much
cut that she was obliged to shift it: the frigate was
also twice hulled under the chess-trees, and had two
men wounded.

About midnight the french 74 and frigate crossed the hawse of the Blenheim, and at daylight lay to about four miles on the weather bow of the convoy; the ships of which also lay to, in line of battle, expecting a renewal of the attack. At 7 A. M. the Marengo and frigate filled and bore down to reconnoitre, but, when about two miles off, again hauled to

the wind. At 2 P. M. the Blenheim filled and set Arrival topgallantsails, and the indiamen also made more of con- sail, still preserving their line. This steady front M.-* probably decided the intention of M. Linois, who dras. at 9 P. M. tacked to the southward; while the british




convoy pursued its course in an opposite direction, 1805. and on the 23d of the month arrived in safety at Madras.

On the 2d of August, at 1 h. 30 m. P. M., as the Phaëbritish 38-gun frigate Phaëton, captain John Wood, ton and and 18-gun brig-sloop Harrier, captain Edward Rat- discosey, were entering the Straits of St.-Bernadino, mi Philippine islands, a strange frigate was discovered lante in lying at an anchor in the road of St.-Jacinta. left the french 36-gun frigate Sémillante, captain road. Léonard-Bernard Motard, on her way to apprize the governor-general of these islands of the war between Spain and England. The frigate arrived in time to frustrate any attempt at surprise on the part of the British ; and, as a further benefit to the settlement, captain Motard undertook to proceed to Mexico, and bring back a cargo of specie, the want of which was most severely felt at the Philippines, it being two years since the last galleon had arrived. Scarcely had the Sémillante quitted Manilla on her voyage, than intelligence that two british cruisers were then among the islands induced captain Motard to anchor in the road of St.-Jacinta ; where, he knew, there were batteries to protect him.

Immediately on discovering the british vessels, the Latter Sémillante began warping in-shore, between a bat- merose tery on the south point of St.-Jacinta and a reef of under a

battery rocks; in which operation the french frigate was assisted by several boats, and subsequently by her sails, which she loosed in order to take advantage of a light air that sprang up from the north-east. At 2 h. 40 m. P. M., hoisting french colours and a broad pendant, the Sémillante commenced firing her sternchasers at the Harrier ; from whom the Phaëton was then distant about three miles in the north-west. The battery began firing also; and in two minutes Harrier afterwards the Harrier, being off the north point of in acthe bay, opened her starboard broadside at the frigate. Finding the water to shoal from ten to seven, and then to five and four fathoms, the brig hove to;



1805, but still continued a smart fire, receiving a fire in Aug. return from the battery and frigate.

At a few minutes past 3 P. M. the Phaëton got ton be- up and joined in the cannonade; and a round-tower gins

now added its fire to that of the battery at the ging. south point. The british frigate and sloop, although,

from the difficulty of the navigation and the lightness of the breeze, unable to close as they wished, continued to engage. At 4 P. M. the brig wore and fought her larboard guns, and at 4 h. 30 m. P. M. caught fire in her larboard-waist hammock-cloths, supposed to have been caused by red-hot shot fired from the battery. The fire, however, was soon extinguished. The weather now became nearly calm, and the brig, in consequence, began driving towards the reef. At 5 P. M., finding that the Phaëton could not get alongside of the french frigate without warping, and that his boats would, in such a case, run the risk of being cut to pieces by the shot from the battery, captain Wood ceased firing and hauled off, and signalled captain Ratsey to do the same. The

Harrier, by means of her boats, towed her head Action round; and, in a minute or two afterwards, the action ends. ended.

The Phaëton had her sails, rigging, and some of mage, her masts, particularly her mizen topmast, damaged Phat by the enemy's fire. Three of her boats were also ton and injured, and she received nine shot in her hull; but,

fortunately, the frigate had only two men wounded. The Harrier having, from her nearness to the shore at its commencement, bore the brunt of the action, suffered rather more than her consort. Her rigging and sails were much cut, and all her boats more or less damaged. Her masts were also injured, particularly her mainmast, which she was obliged to fish to prevent it from falling. The fire from the Sémillante and batteries had been aimed chiefly at the rigging of the two british vessels; and that it was which occasioned the Harrier's loss to be no greater than the Phaëton's, two men wounded.




The British stood off for the night, and at day- 1805, light on the 3d, having a fine breeze off shore, tacked and stood in to reconnoitre. They found that, during the night, the Sémillante had warped herself close to the beach ; and that, for her further protection, a six-gun battery had been erected on the north point. The Phaëton and Harrier waited off the road until the morning of the 4th ; when, finding the french frigate still in the same place, they made sail, and ran through the Straits of St.-Berna

What loss the Sémillante sustained, in this two Loss on hours and a half's engagement, is not recorded in any Semifrench account; but it was afterwards understood at lante. Calcutta, that she had 13 men killed and 36 wounded. With respect to the damage done to her hull and masts, all we know is, that she suffered so much as to prevent her from proceeding on her voyage to Mexico. “ La Sémillante avait été très-maltraitée dans ce combat; elle fut forcée de renoncer au voyage du Mexique,”* is an admission that places that fact beyond a doubt.

On the 20th of July, in compliance with the re- July. peated request of vice-admiral sir Robert Calder, Sir cruising off Cape Finisterre, to be furnished with a few additional frigates, admiral Cornwallis, the applies commander in chief of the Channel fleet, detached for

frigates to join the former the 38-gun frigate Niobe, cap-Lord tain Matthew Henry Scott. On the 29th the 18- Cornpounder 38-gun frigate Æolus, captain Lord Wil-Wallis liam Fitz-Roy, parted company from the Channel taches fleet upon the same destination ; and lord William was directed, in his way across the bay of Biscay, Æolus. “ to be very careful to obtain intelligence of the Lord enemy's squadrons, if either of them should have liam's put to sea from Rochefort or Ferrol ;” and, on fall- instrucing in with any such squadron, his lordship was


Niobe and


* Dictionnaire des Batailles, &c, tome iv. p. 5.




with letter

1905.“ to continue, if possible, in sight,” until he had July

ascertained its route, &c.

Scarcely had the Æolus made sail upon her misrecall- sion when the Nile lugger, with despatches from sir

Robert Calder, joined the fleet. These despatches, besides indicating the exact spot at which sir Robert would be found, requiring to have their contents acknowledged, the admiral threw out to the Æolus

the signal of recall. The frigate accordingly put again back.

Having received, along with sir Robert Calder's rendezvous, (38 leagues north-west from from Cape Finisterre,) a letter from admiral Cornwallis Corn- to sir Robert, acknowledging the receipt of the latwallis ter's despatches, apprizing the vice-admiral that they Rob. had been forwarded to England, and that he had, Calder. some days since, sent the Niobe, and was now send

ing the #olus, to join him, Jord William sailed again to the westward.

On the 5th of August, very early in the morning, in with latitude 45° 55' north, longitude 9° 28' west, the

Æolus, standing to the westward with the wind at squa- north by west, discovered and bore up for seven

strange sail in the south-south-east. At 6 h. 15 m. A. M. one of the seven strangers, evidently a frigate and detached from her consorts, boarded a merchant ship in the south-east, and shortly afterward set her on fire. At 8 A. M., perceiving that the strangers were an enemy's squadron of five sail of the line, one frigate, and one brig, the Æolus hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, with her head about northeast by east, for the purpose apparently of watching their movements. These vessels, with a frigate or two not then in company, were really the french squadron from Rochefort, so particularly adverted to by the orders under which lord William had been detached from the Channel fleet. If,” says admiral Cornwallis, you should fall in with a squadron of the enemy's ships, continue, if possible, in sight until

you can ascertain their route, and then push on




« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »