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foremost larboard guns at the Niemen. To this fire, 1809. the french frigate made no return, but hauled down her
April. light, and almost instantaneously raised and lowered Niemen it again as the signal of submission.
The following diagram will assist in explaining the different movements of the combatants.
The guns of the Amethyst were precisely those Guns, which she mounted in her action with the Thétis; but &c. of in complement the frigate was short, having two lieu-Ametenants and 37 men absent ; all, except one of the lieutenants, (who had been appointed, but had not joined,) away in prizes, the prisoners from which, 69 in number, were then on board. Of her 222 men and boys, the Amethyst had six seamen and two marines killed, and her first and second lieutenants of marines, (Henry Waring and Samuel Prytherch,) her boatswain, (Mr. Lacey,) 24 seamen, and 10 marines wounded.
The armament of the Niemen was the same as that Same of the Thétis, except that the former mounted two additional 36-pounder carronades, or 14 in all; making her total number of guns 46, two more than are
1809, stated in captain Seymour's letter.
The french April. frigate, whose hull was much cut up by shot, and
whose remaining mast was in a tottering state, had on board as her complement, when the action commenced, 319 men and boys; of whom she lost 47 in killed, and 73 in wounded. The Arethusa, not having been fired at except by a single gun, sustained no loss or damage whatever. The same statement of comparative force, given in the action between the Amethyst and Thétis, will, without being more particular, suffice to show the relative force of the Amethyst and Niemen.
Every Englishman, who is proud of the martial spirit of his country, must regret that a third party came to interrupt a meeting, which his own, although the numerically weaker side, was so near bringing to a favourable termination. A view of the relative damage and loss sustained by the two frigates, and of their relative means of further annoyance, as displayed by the vigorous fire of the one, and the slackened and still slackening fire of the other, cannot leave a doubt that, at the time the Arethusa made her appearance, the combat between the Amethyst and Niemen was, virtually, if not formally, decided.
On the day succeeding that of the capture, the foremast of the Niemen, as a proof of the damage it had received in the action, fell over the side, and the Arethusa took the prize in tow. Being only nine months old and a remarkably fine frigate, the Niemen became a great acquisition to the british navy; in which, under her french name, she classed the same as the Amethyst's former prize, the Thétis. Captain Seymour, soon after his return to port, was made a baronet of the United Kingdom; and the first lieutenant of the Amethyst, Mr. William Hill, who, from the absence of two lieutenants,'had a double share of duty to perform, was as deservedly promoted to the rank of commander.
That, as captain Seymour in his official letter is
careful to state, “ the french captain defended his 1809. ship with great ability and resolution," the length of April. the action, the execution done to the Amethyst, and the circumstances under which the surrender took acplace, sufficiently testify. And yet the Moniteur of counts. July 13, 1809, contains a letter purporting to be from M. Dupotet, which, if genuine, (and there we have our doubts,) does not speak much for the french captain's veracity. As may be conjectured, the effect produced by the fall of the Amethyst's main and mizen masts is taken due advantage of. “ L'ennemi prit chasse vent arrière, ayant à la traîne ses deux mâts,” says M. Dupotet; and he gravely adds : “ Au bout de quinze minutes mon premier lieutenant Valin me fit prévenir que l'ennemi était rendu, et qu'on criait de son bord de ne plus tirer. Je designai l'enseigne Kerangoué pour aller l'amariner; mais bientôt on vit venir une frégate qui venait au secours de celle-ci."
Knowing that Frenchmen, in many of their actions with the British at sea, have mistaken the cheers of triumph for the screams of despair, we pass over the statement, that the people of the Amethyst called upon those of the Niemen to cease firing; but the assertion, that the mainmast of the Niemen fell after the Arethusa had opened her fire, is a deliberate falsehood, which can admit of no palliation. Fortunately for the cause of truth, it is disproved in an instant; for thus says the log of the Arethusa : “At half past 3, observed both ships going before the wind with only their fore-masts standing. At 3 h. 45 m. commenced firing on the enemy. The assertion, that the foremast of the Amethyst was in a shattered and unsupported state is equally false, although that may have arisen from misinformation. The fact is, that the foremast was only struck by one grape shot, and was not even fished after the action.
We designated the movement, forced upon the Amethyst by the fall of her masts and sails in the water, an unfortunate one. It was very much so.
1809. Less, however, in reference to the easily refuted
mistatements of the captain of the Niemen, than, as we gather from the proceedings which afterwards took place in the admiralty prize-court, to the misconception that seems to have prevailed among the officers of the Arethusa. A little forethought in shortening sail, before the Amethyst bore up athwart the stern of her beaten antagonist, would have given quite a different tone to the letter of captain Dupotet, if indeed any such letter had then been published; and would have left no grounds for a second british ship, by establishing a claim for head-money, to make it appear, that she had any share in producing the surrender of an aiready silenced and defenceless french frigate.
It was formerly stated, that early on the morning of the 22d of February, the day after commodore Beresford was chased from off Lorient by the squa. dron from Brest, the three french frigates, Calypso, Cybèle, and Italienne, sailed from that port, and that they were not immediately followed by the three sail of the line at anchor in the road, because the tide did not suit.* In a few hours the depth of water
became sufficient; and commodore Amable-Gilles Com- Troude, with the three 74-gun ships Courageux, Polonais, and d'Haupoult, having under their
convoy Troude the two armed en flûte frigates Furieuse and Félicité, escapes! laden with troops, flour, and military stores, for the Lorient island of Martinique, escaped from Lorient, unseen,
or at all events unmolested, by any of the british ships cruising off the french coast.
On the 29th of March, having from some prizes he had made on the passage learnt that Martinique had surrendered to the british arms, (an account of which will appear in its proper place, the french
commodore entered the Saintes, to watch for an block opportunity of getting across to Basse-terre, Guadein the loupe. Scarcely, however, had the french ships Saintes anchored, than a superior british force arrived to
* See p. 140;
blockade them. The line-of-battle portion of that 1809. force consisted of the
The Saintes consist of two small islands, each Brief about three leagues in circumference, exclusive of der
scripthree or four still smaller ones, so arranged as to tion of form a commodious road or harbour between the larger islands; the westernmost of which is called Terre d'en Bas, and the other Terre d'en Haut. They lie between Vieux-Fort, near the southern extremity of Basse-terre, Gaudeloupe, and Pointe des Ajoupas on the west side of Marie-Galante, about five leagues distant from the latter and two from the former. The road or harbour of the Saintes, having three entrances in different directions, is not easily blockaded. Under these circumstances, it was thought advisable to land a body of troops, for the double purpose of driving the french ships to sea, and of reducing the Saintes islands, which had at all times afforded to the enemy's ships a capital shelter.
Accordingly, on the 12th of April, a small british Troops' squadron, under the orders of captain Philip Beaver of the 40-gun frigate Acasta, accompanied by a fleet expel of transports, having on board from 2000 to 3000
ships. men commanded by major-general Frederic Maitland, sailed from. Fort-Royal bay, Martinique, and on the next day arrived off the Saintes. On the 14th the troops were landed with a very slight loss; and on the same afternoon possessed themselves, with some difficulty, of a mountain 800 feet high, called Morne-Russel, and which completely overlooked the ships in the harbour. Upon these two 8-inch howitzers were presently brought to bear with such effect, that at 8 P. M. the three line-of-battle ships