Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Action

ed.

off,

At 6 h. 20 m. A. M., being within half a mile of the 1808. San-Fiorenzo, who had also wore, the Piémontaise Ma

March. fired her broadside, and the action recommenced, the two frigates gradually closing to a quarter of a mile. renewThe fire was constant and well directed on both sides, until 8 h. 5 m. A. M., when that of the french frigate visibly slackened. At 8 h. 15 m., having discharged her whole broadside, the Piémontaise ceased firing, and made şail before the wind, leaving the San-Fiorenzo with her maintopsail yard shot through,* main royal-mast shot away, both main topmast-stays, the spring-stay, and the greater part of the standing and running rigging and sails, cut to pieces, and therefore not in a condition for an immediate chase. Under these circumstances, the fire of the british Piéfrigate could only continue while her retreating taise opponent remained within gun-shot. The San- makes Fiorenzo's loss, by the morning's action, amounted to eight seamen and marines killed and 14 wounded. The remainder of the day was occupied by the San-Fiorenzo in repairing her damages, and in a yain pursuit of the Piémontaise, who crowded sail to the eastward, and at 9 P. m. disappeared.

At midnight the french frigate again showed herself, bearing east, and at daylight on the 8th was about four leagues distant. At 9 A. M., being perfectly refitted, the San-Fiorenzo bore up under all sail. At noon the Piémontaise hoisted a dutch jack, but at 2 h. 15 m. P. M. changed it to an english ensign. The San-Fiorenzo was now fast approaching; nor Third did the Piémontaise avoid the british frigate until action. the latter hauled athwart her stern, in order to gain the weathergage and bring on a close action. Το frustrate this manæuvre, the french frigate, who now appeared with her proper colours, hauled up also, and made all sail. Perceiving, however, that the superior sailing of the San-Fiorenzo rendered a battle unavoidable, the Piémontaise tacked ; and at

* So says lieutenant Dawson's official letter, but the log says: “fore-topsail-yard shot in two."

Death

Pié. montaise

1808. 4 P. M.* the two frigates, when passing each other, on March. opposite tacks, at the distance of not more than 80

yards, reopened their fire.

In the second broadside from the french frigate a of capt. grape-shot killed captain Hardinge; whereupon the dinge. command of the San-Fiorenzo devolved upon lieute

nant William Dawson. As soon as she had got abaft
her opponent's beam, the Piémontaise wore; and at
5 h. 49 m, P. M., after a well-fought action, one hour
and 20 minutes of it close, and during which she had
all her rigging and sails cut to pieces, her three masts
and bowsprit badly wounded, and a great propor-

tion of her numerous crew placed hors de combat, surren- the french frigate hauled down her colours; some of

her people, at the same time, waving their hats for a
boat to be sent to them.

The loss sustained by the San-Fiorenzo in her
third day's action, although numerically less than that
on the second day, was more serious, as it included
among the killed her truly gallant captain :t the re-
maining killed of that day consisted of four seamen
and marines, and the wounded, of one lieutenant
(Henry George Moysey, severely) and seven sea-
men and marines. This made the total british loss,
on the three days, 13 killed and 25 wounded. The
Piémontaise, besides her regular crew of 366 French-
men, had 200 Lascars, (prisoners taken out of some
captured indiamen,) to work the sails. Out of these
566 in crew and supernumeraries, the french frigate
lost 48 officers, seamen, marines, and Lascars killed,
and 112 wounded.
The force of the San-Fiorenzo, in guns

and

men, Fioren has already appeared. In her armament there was

no alteration; but, in respect to crew, the ship was
so greatly deficient, owing to the sickness of some
men and the absence of others in prizes, as to muster
no more than 186 men and boys; a circumstance

Loss on each side.

[ocr errors]

Force of San

zo.

* According to the San-Fiorenzo's log; but the Gazette says
o three.”
+ See vol. iii. p.
380.

See vol. iv. p. 176,

March.

of Piémon.

which, singular enough, the british official account 1808. has omitted to notice.

The force of the Piémontaise has also been fully Force stated at a former page ;* but, instead of 46

guns, as there particularized, lieutenant Dawson, in his taise. letter, says: “She (the Piémontaise) mounts fifty guns, long 18-pounders on the main deck, and 36. pound carronades on her quarterdeck.” No other of the few accounts that have been published is morc precise; and yet, according to the navy-office draught of the Piémontaise, the ship could mount 24 carriage guns only of a side, 14 on the main deck, seven on the quarterdeck, and three on the forecastle. Her two maindeck bow-ports, if filled, would make 50 guns in all, but even this would add nothing to her broadside-force. Under these circumstances, and particularly as it is a french ship whose force is to be stated, we shall consider the Piémontaise, in her action with the San-Fiorenzo, to have mounted the same guns as she did, a year and nine months before, in her action with the WarrenHastings.

We cannot pay a higher compliment to the vic- Retorious party in this case, than to rank the action of the San-Fiorenzo and Piémontaise along with that action. of the Phoenix and Didon.t The odds in each action, except in point of crew, were nearly the same. The Piémontaise was certainly not so manfully fought as the Didon. The former began to run from the first; and it was that constant avoidance of her opponent, which protracted the contest to the third day. The actual engagement, however, did not, as it appears, last altogether more than four hours and five minutes; ten minutes on the first day, two hours and five minutes on the second, and one hour and 50 minutes on the third. The action, on the part of the british frigate, was conducted with as much skill as gallantry; but neither skill nor gallantry would have

marks on the

* See vol. iv. p. 346. VOL. V.

+ Ibid. p. 235.

D

bo.

[ocr errors]

1808, availed, had the San-Fiorenzo not excelled her
March. antagonist in a third quality, swiftness of sailing,

Soon after daylight on the morning of the 9th the

three masts of the Piémontaise fell over her side.
Arrival In this state she was taken in tow by the San-Fio-
ships at renzo; and on the 13th the two frigates cast anchor
Colum- in the road of Columbo, island of Ceylon, where, by

order of the governor, lieutenant-general Maitland,
the highest military honours were paid to the remains
of the San-Fiorenzo's late youthful captain. Her
present commanding officer received, we believe,
the customary promotion, but did not long survive
the reward of his gallantry. The Piémontaise was
afterwards purchased for the british navy, and class,

ed among the large 38s.
Exag-

Aware of the latitude allowed to a “ Biographical
gerated Memoir” in the “Naval Chronicle,” we should not feel
count disposed to find fault with its editor for stating, even
given in the high-flown, and not always intelligible, language
action. of the reverend James Stanier Clarke, one of the

co-authors of the “Life of Nelson,” that “a super-
annuated frigate of thirty-eight guns” had captured
a french frigate armed with “fifty long 18-pound-
ers ;"* but our duty compels us to reprobate the
introduction of so gross a falsehood into a solemn
memorial presented to the king in council. A
document of this kind, presented by Mr. George
Hardinge, uncle to the deceased captain, praying for
an augmentation to the armorial bearings of the
family, contains the following statement : “ Your
memorialist represents to your majesty, that your
ship, the St. Fiorenzo, carried thirty-eight guns, and
mustered 186 men, including officers; that la Piedmon,
taise carried fifty guns, long 18-pounders, and had
on board 566 men.” It is not added, that 200 of these
were Lascars and prisoners. Had this memorial
met the fate of thousands of others, no harm
would have been done; but, unfortunately for the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Naval Chronicle, vol. xx. p. 385.

March.

cause of truth, in the next London Gazette

appears

1808. an order, in which the king himself is made to demora clare, that his frigate carried“ only thirty-eight guns,

On the 13th of March, at 5 P. M., the british 18pounder 36-gun frigate Emerald, captain Frederick Lewis Maitland, being off the harbour of Vivero, in Spain, discovered lying there a large french armed schooner, and immediately stood in with the view of attempting her capture or destruction. At 5. h. 30 m. P. M. the first fort on the right, mounting eight 24-pounders, opened upon the ship; and as soon as the frigate got within range, another fort, situated about a mile further in on the left, and mounting five 24-pounders, also commenced firing. Finding it impossible to place the ship so as to act against both batteries at once, captain Maitland detached a party of seamen and marines, under first lieutenant Charles Bertram, assisted by lieutenants of marines Giles Meech and John Husband, and master's mates Matthew Mildridge and Edward Saurin, to storm the outer fort, while the frigate stood in as near as the depth of water would admit, and opened her fire upon the inner one.

Lieutenant Bertram having, without much difficulty, driven the Spaniards out of the right-hand fort and spiked the guns, lieutenant William Smith, the third lieutenant, with another party of men, proceeded to do the same to the left-hand fort. On landing about a mile from the fort, lieutenant Smith was opposed by a party of soldiers, most of whom, with their leader, are represented to have fallen, and the remainder to have retreated. These the British followed; but, owing to the nature of the ground, the darkness of the night, and a temporary cessation of firing by the battery, missed their way to it and returned. Meanwhile midshipman Daniel Baird had been sent with a party to take possession of the schooner; which, to avoid being captured, had run herself on shore upon the rocks. This party was joined by that under lieutenant Bertram, and the united detach

« AnteriorContinuar »