Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Renard

claring the captain of the Leander to be a murderer, 1806. and calling upon the citizens to seize him, captain April. Whitby, that he might be proceeded against according to law. By the same proclamation, the Leander, and the two ships in her company at the time the unfortunate occurrence happened, as well as all other vessels commanded by the same three captains, were prohibited from entering the harbours and waters of the United States. At a subsequent He is period captain Whitby, at the instance of the british and dacadmiralty, was tried by a court-martial for the mur- quitted. der of John Pierce, and, there not being a particle of evidence to prove the charge, was acquitted.

On the 25th of May, in the afternoon, the british 18-gun ship-sloop Renard, (sixteen 18-pounder carronades and two sixes,) captain Jeremiah Coghlan, being about 10 miles north-north-east of the island of Mona, standing to the northward, with a light chases wind at east-south-east, saw and chased a strange sail under the island of Zacheo, bearing south-east. The pursuit continued all night; and daylight on the 26th discovered the stranger to be a brig, and apparently a cruiser. All this day and night passed in chase, each vessel still on the starboard tack, the Renard gaining. On the 27th, at 8 A. M., owing to the calm state of the weather, the Renard took to her sweeps, and continued plying them until 8 P. M., when a light breeze sprang up. That night passed, and at noon on the 28th the Renard, being in latitude 20° 30' north, longitude 68° west, and having got almost near enough to the stranger to open her fire, was saved that trouble by the french brig-corvette Diligent, lieutenant Vincent Thevenard, hauling down her colours; and this, notwithstanding the gent brig mounted 14 long 6-pounders and two brass 36- Surrenpounder carronades, and had on board a crew of 125 men. The Diligent had sailed from Pointe-àPitre seven days before, and was bound to Lorient.

What could have possessed M. Thevenard, that he should have so disgraced the flag under which

Diligento

Dili

Re

on her com

con

1806, he served as to haul it down without making the May. slightest resistance ? As the bearer of despatches

from Guadeloupe to France, he was justified in marks speaking no one. That excused his flight, but not

his surrender. The moment he saw that he could mand- not escape, and that the ship approaching him was

of about equal size to his own, (the Renard was of duct. 348, the Diligent of 317 tons,) he should have fought

her. Not a 10-gun schooner-privateer from the island he had quitted, but would have done so. What had he to fear, with the weathergage and a battery of seven french 6-pounders and one 36. pounder carronade, opposed to eight 18-pounder carronades and one 6-pounder ? The only difference in force between the Renard and a common english gun-brig, or one of the large armed schooners, was in number, not in caliber of guns. On coming to close quarters, and beginning to feel the weight of his opponent's heavier shot, what was to hinder the french captain from boarding ?

To call the conduct of M. Thevenard by any softer name than cowardice, would be acting more leniently towards a Frenchman than we are accustomed to act towards an Englishman. To the honour of both navies, cases of the kind are rare, very rare; and if M. Thevenard continued to belong to the french navy, as it appears. he did, until the reduction that took place in the year 1817, it must have been because he misrepresented the circumstances under which he had been captured in 1806. What would Napoléon have done, had he known that the commander of one of his brig-corvettes had struck to a vessel of equal force without firing a shot ?

On the 17th of February, 1805, the honourable Hast- East India company's ship Warren-Hastings, cap

tain Thomas Larkins, mounting 44 guns, with a from complement of 196 men and boys, sailed from PortsEng: mouth on a voyage to China. As extraordinary

pains had been taken in the equipment of this ship,

Warren

ings sails

[ocr errors]

force.

to enable her to defend herself against a french 1806. frigate should she chance to fall in with one, we will give a more particular account of her armament.

The Warren-Hastings mounted 26 medium 18. Her pounders on her main or lower deck, 14 carronades, 18-pounders, on her upper deck, and four carronades, 12-pounders, on her poop. The medium gun was six feet long, and weighed about 26 cwt. ; whereas the common 18-pounder of the british navy is nine feet long, and weighs about 42 cwt. The former, when run out, did not reach above a foot beyond the ship's side, and, in traversing, wooded, or touched the side of the port, at an angle of less than three points from the beam. The 18-pounder carronade was five feet long, and weighed about 154 cwt.; the 12-pounder was three feet and a quarter long, and weighed about 84 cwt. A navy carronade of each caliber is in length and weight as follows: the 18pounder, three feet four inches, and about 104 cwt.; the 12 pounder, two feet eight inches, and about 64 cwt. The carronades of the Warren-Hastings were mounted upon a carriage resembling Gover's in every particular but the only essential one, the having of rollers adapted to a groove in the slide. The consequence of this silly evasion of an ingenious man's patent was, that the whole of the ship's quarterdeck and poop guns became utterly useless, after only a few rounds had been fired from them. The first discovery of any imperfection in the new carriage occurred at exercise; but a plentiful supply of black lead upon the upper surface of the slide lessened the friction, and, with the aid of an additional hand, enabled the gun to be run out. On account, however, of the rain, and the salt water in washing the deck, the application of black lead was obliged to be repeated every time of exercise.

The Warren-Hastings arrived out without meet- Sails on ing any opponent to try her powers upon, and sailed again on her return, but not quite so strongly armed. Four of her maindeck ports had been calked up,

her re

turn,

Falls in with Pié

of lat. ter.

1806, to afford space for a store-room, and the four guns June. transferred to the hold; and, on account of a re

duction in her crew, occasioned by her 40 Chinamen remaining at Canton and a british ship of war pressing 18 of her english seamen, four of the 18pounder carronades were also removed below. Consequently the ship now mounted but 36 guns, with a crew of only 138 men and boys.

On the 21st of June, at 7 h. 30 m. A. M., in latitude

26° 13' south, longitude 56° 45' east, the Warrenmise Hastings, steering west by south under a press of

sail, with a strong breeze from north-east by east, descried in the south-west quarter a strange ship standing to the south-east under treble-reefed topsails

and courses. This was the french 40-gun frigate PiéForce montaise, captain Jacques Epron. As this ship was

armed somewhat differently from her class, we will here state her force. Her maindeck guns were the customary 28 long 18-pounders; and on the quarterdeck and forecastle she mounted 10 iron, and two brass, 36-pounder carronades, two long french 8pounders, and four long english 9-pounders. These had belonged to the british frigate Jason, having been thrown overboard by her when she grounded off Pointe de la Trenche at the capture of the Seine in June, 1798.*

Exclusive of her 46 carriage-guns, the Piémontaise carried swivels and musketoons in her tops and along her gunwales. In other respects, also, this french frigate was equipped in an extraordinary

On each fore and main yard-arm was fixed a tripod, calculated to contain a shell weighing 5 cwt. In the event of the ships getting close alongside each other, the shell, having been previously placed on the tripod, was to have its fusee lighted by a man lying out on the yard with a match in his hand : it was then to be thrown from the tripod, and, falling upon the other ship's deck, would, from its weight,

manner.

* See vol. ii. p. 321

Warren

pass through to the deck below. Here its explosion 1806. would scatter destruction all around; and, in the June. midst of the

confusion, the Frenchmen were to rush on board. These again, were armed more like assassins than men-of-war's men; each having, besides the usual boarding weapons, a poignard stuck through the button-holes of his jacket.

At 9 A. M., having brought the Warren-Hastings Chases. to bear well on her weather quarter, the Piémontaise, shaking the reefs out of her topsails, stood Hasttowards the former, who still continued upon her

ings. course. At 9 h. 30 m., although gaining fast on the indiaman, the frigate set her topgallantsails and fore and main topmast studding-sails, and at 10 A. M. showed an english blue ensign and pendant. Notwithstanding these friendly demonstrations, the Warren-Hastings suspected the character of her pursuer, and, along with her colours, hoisted the private signal. Of this the Piémontaise took no notice, but continued rapidly to approach. At 11 A. M. the indiaman shortened sail, hauled up a point, and cleared for action. At noon the frigate took in her studding-sails and stay-sails, and brailed up

her mainsail ; and soon afterwards, having approached within a mile, hauled down the english and hoisted french colours.

At 10 h. 20 m., choosing a leeward station, on Action account, says captain Epron, of the heel caused by the high wind, the Piémontaise opened her fire upon the larboard quarter of the Warren-Hastings within musket-shot distance; and which fire the latter, as soon as she could bring her guns to bear, returned. The action, thus commenced, continued for about a quarter of an hour, when the frigate filled and passed ahead, having done no other damage to the indiaman than disabling a part of her rigging. On getting about a mile and a half ahead of her antagonist, the Piémontaise tacked, and, passing close toleeward of the Warren-Hastings, gave and received a smart fire, In this the Piémontaise, besides killing

commences

« AnteriorContinuar »