Page images
PDF
EPUB

July

Harrier

Pallas and

sorts,

Straits of Salayer. Chase was immediately given; 1806, and at 9 P. M. the strangers hove to, at about seven miles distant from the shore that lies between the

Grey. small dutch ports of Borthean and Balacomba. hound One of the ships was easily made out to be a frigate, in and another a corvette, but a third had so much the with appearance of a line-of-battle ship, that the two british commanders thought it prudent to wait until condaylight before they bore down to examine the strange squadron, The Greyhound and Harrier accordingly lay to during the night, at the distance of about two miles to-windward of the strange squadron.

The break of day discovered that the ship, which had led to the cautionary measures of the preceding evening, was a large two-decked armed merchant vessel, similar in size and appearance to an english indiaman. Shortly afterwards the squadron, which consisted of the dutch 36-gun frigate Pallas, captain N. S. Aalbers, the dutch company's ships Vittoria, (the two-decker above-mentioned,) captain Klaas Kenkin, and Batavia, captain William De Val, both officers in the dutch company's service, and the 14gun ship-corvette William, captain Feteris, drew out in the order named, and formed a line of battle on the larboard tack, under their topsails.

At a few minutes past 5 A. M. the Greyhound bore up under french colours, as if to speak the Pallas, who was then at some distance ahead of her second astern, the Vittoria ; and, when within hail, all further disguise being unnecessary, the british frigate shifted her colours, and commenced Action a cannonade. This was at 5 h. 30 m.; and the mences fire was returned with a smartness and spirit, which evinced that the Dutch were fully prepared for the contest. The Harrier, who had kept close astern of the Greyhound, seeing the latter engaged, bore round up; and, passing between the Pallas and Vittoria, opened a fire of musketry at the latter, and discharged her larboard guns into the starboard quarter of the former, The Vittoria and her second

Surrender

las.

1806, astern, the Batavia, then bore up in succession, to July., return the Harrier's fire.

In the mean time the Greyhound, resolving to lose no time in taking advantage of the confusion thus caused by the Harrier's promptitude, wore close round her opponent's bows, raking her severely in passing. On reaching the starboard bow of the Pallas, the Greyhound, then on the starboard tack, threw her sails aback, and maintained a position which, while it comparatively secured herself, was of destructive effect to her antagonist. The cannonade of the latter, with an equal opponent upon her bow and one by no means to be despised upon her quarter, gradually slackened, and at the end of 40 mi

nutes ceased. On being hailed by the Greyhound, of Pal- the Pallas replied that she had struck, and was soon

in possession of the former.

The Harrier now hauled towards the Vittoria, and, after firing several broadsides at her; compelled this formidable looking ship, at 6 h. 30 m.. A. m., to haul down her colours. Sending an officer to take possession, captain Troubridge hauled towards the Batavia. The Greyhound had by this time made sail for the latter. Being wholly unable to cope with the

new antagonist that was now advancing to the assistVitto- ance of the Harrier, the Batavia, at 6h.40m., followed

the example of the Vittoria. Meanwhile the William, who, from her position in the rear, had taken no part in the action, was making off towards the

The Harrier immediately proceeded in vette. chase; but, the state of her sails and rigging leav

ing her little chance of overtaking the fugitive, captain Elphinstone threw out the signal to join. The Harrier did so, and the William effected her escape.

Out of her complement of 212 men and boys, the Greyhound had one seaman killed and eight wounded ; and the Harrier, out of her 110 men and boys on board, had only three wounded. The Pallas mounted 40 guns, 12 and 6 pounders, with 24

Also of

ria and Batavia.

Escape shore.

of cor

pounder brass carronades, and had a complement 1806. of 250 men, including about 50 Malays. Of these the dutch frigate lost eight killed, her captain, (mor- Mostual tally,) second and fifth lieutenants, three pilots, one midshipman, and 25 seamen wounded, four of them and one of the pilots mortally. The Vittoria and Batavia, represented in captain Elphinstone's letter merely as “armed for the purpose of war," had, the one two men killed, the other the same, besides a lieutenant and six men wounded, the lieutenant and one of the latter mortally.

With such incomplete materials for comparing the force of the parties, it is difficult to do justice to the merits of the case. The affair was undoubtedly conducted with great skill and bravery on the part of the British, and they reaped no inconsiderable advantage from the prizes they made; two of which, the Vittoria, of 800, and the Batavia, of 500 tons, were richly laden with the produce of the Moluccas.

In the month of February, as already has been stated, four of the five french frigates, which after the battle of Trafalgar had got into Cadiz, succeeded in putting to sea, under the command of commodore La Marre-la-Meillerie, and were as follows: gun-frig.

commod. Louis-C.-Aug. La-Marre-la-Meillerie. 40x Rhin ... . captain Michel-Jean-André Chesneau. Hermione..

Jean-Michel Mahé. 36 Thémis....

Nicolas Jugan. These frigates, after the disgraceful loss of the Cruise brig that was in their company,* proceeded to Sé- Lanégal, and thence to Cayenne ; at which latter port they arrived on the 27th of March. Quitting Cay- Meille. enne on the 7th of April, they steered for the West Indies, cruised to-windward of Barbadoes 15 days; then proceeded to Porto-Rico, and, after revictúalling there, set sail on the 18th of May on their return to France. On the 27th of July, at 6 P. M., when in about latitude 47° north, longitude 70

* See p. 307,

Hortense

Marre

rie,

Chased

1806. west, steering south-east by east, which was a direct July. course for Rochefort, the Hortense and her three Falls in companions were discovered by the 74-gun ship with a Mars, captain Robert Dudley Oliver, the look-out squa- ship of a british squadron of five sail of the line, dron. under the command of commodore Richard Goodwin

Keats, in the Superb.

The Mars, making the necessary signals, which the Africa 64 repeated to the commodore, then far

astern, wore, and, with the squadron, crowded sail by

in chase. The french frigates immediately set all Mars. the additional sail they could, and continued their

course to the south-east. Soon after dark the Mars lost sight, as well of them as of all the ships of her own squadron, except the Africa, who was seen on her lee quarter till Il P. M., when she also disappeared. The Mars now shaped her course so as to prevent the enemy from getting to-leeward ; and, as a proof with what judgment she was steered, daylight on the 28th discovered the four frigates on the same bearing as on the preceding evening, but, except one, at a greater distance. Upon that one, which was the Rhin, the Mars evidently gained.

Observing this, and that the british 74 was entirely alone, the french commodore, with what appeared a proper spirit, put about, and, on joining the Rhin, formed his four frigates in line of battle on the larboard tack. Finding, however, that the Mars was not in the least intimidated by the approach of four heavy french frigates, but was hastening on to engage them, M. La--Marre-la-Meillerie failed in his resolution, and at 3 P. M. made off with three of his frigates, leaving the fourth to her fate. Having already run a distance of 150 miles, and the day being far spent, the Mars continued in pursuit of the nearest frigate ; when at 6 P. M., in the midst

of a heavy squall of wind and rain, and just as the Surier Mars, having gained a position on the frigate's lee

quarter, had fired a shot and was preparing to open her broadside, the Rhin hauled down her colours.

of

ing frigates

Good con

Soon after the Mars had taken possession of the 1806. Rhin, the squall cleared up, and the Hortense, July. Hermione, and Thémis were seen standing to the Resouth-east; but the approach of night, the proximity mainof the french coast, and the stormy state of the weather, owing to which not more than a third of the escape. prisoners could be removed, rendered any further pursuit impracticable. Captain Oliver, thereupon, accompanied by his prize, steered in the direction of his squadron; and which, so far had he outrun it in the 24 hours' chase, the Mars did not rejoin until duct of the forenoon of the 31st. Great credit was due to Oliver. captain Oliver for having persevered in the chase so long after he had got out of reach of support from any ship of his squadron; and, had the four frigates been commanded by a Bergeret, a Bourayne, or one of many other french captains whom we could name, an opportunity would doubtless have been afforded to the officers and crew of the Mars, to show what could be effected, under such circumstances, by a well-appointed, well-manned british 74.

The Hortense and Hermione succeeded in reach-French ing Bordeaux, and the Thémis appears to have moentered Rochefort. What account of this transaction M. La Marre-la-Meillerie gave to the french es minister of marine has not transpired. We may conjecture, however, that the force which put the french commodore to flight was described, not as “un seul vaisseau anglais,” but, as“ une escadre de plusieurs vaisseaux anglais.” Who will say, that four french frigates, three, if not all of them, carrying His shy long 18-pounders and 36-pounder carronades, with, dumt. between them, upwards of 1300 men, were not an overmatch for a single british 74? What, then, but a misrepresentation of the facts could have saved this french commodore from being cashiered? And yet according to the “ Etat Général de la Marine," for January, 1822, M. La Marre-la-Meillerie is a peer of France and a chevalier of the order of St.Louis.

com

dore reach

France.

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »