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off Toulon, consisted, in general, of 13 sail of the line, but frequently of less, with, as usual, a very small quota of frigates.
On the 15th of July a continuance of strong gales from the north-west obliged Sir Charles Cotton, with the main body of the fleet, to take shelter under Levant island, the easternmost of the Hyeres; and, while here, the violence of the wind drove the admiral as far to the eastward as Villa-Franca. In the mean time the port of Toulon was watched by a detached squadron, under the orders of Captain the Honourable Henry Blackwood, of the 74-gun ship Warspite, consisting, besides that ship, of the 74s Ajax and Conqueror, Captains Robert Waller Otway and Edward Fellowes, the 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Euryalus, Captain the Honourable George Heneage Lawrence Dundas, and the 10-gun brig-sloop Shearwater, Captain Edward Reynolds Sibly.
On the 17th eight sail of the line and four frigates stood out of Toulon to exercise, and one of the 74s exchanged a few broadsides with the Euryalus, but without doing her any injury. Either on this or the preceding day a convoy of French coasters from the westward, under the protection of a frigate and corvette, was chased by Captain Blackwood's squadron into Bandol, a small harbour 10 or 12 miles to the westward of Toulon. On the 18th the Euryalus reconnoitered the French fleet, and discovered two line-of-battle ships and one frigate at anchor off Cape Sepet, ll line-of-battle ships and seven frigates in the outer, and two line-of-battle ships and one frigate in the inner road; total, 15 sail of the line and nine frigates. Thirteen of these ships comprise all those named at pp. 205 and 206, except the Robuste and Lion: the two remaining ships were the Wagram of 130, and either the Sceptre of 80, or the Trident of 74 guns.
On the 20th, at 7 A. m, while the Shearwater lay close to the tongue of land that forms Cape Sepet, and the Euryalus more to the south-east, fronting the road of Toulon, six sail of the line (one three, and five two deckers) and four frigates, under a Viceadmiral, sailed out, with the apparent intention of releasing the frigate and her convoy at Bandol, as the latter, about the same time, got under way and stood to sea before a fine land wind. Just as Captain Sibly had made the signal of an enemy in the north-north west, in which direction the Shearwater, since daylight, had been ordered to reconnoitre, the brig was recalled by the commodore; whose object, as he could not now prevent the junction of the frigate and convoy in Bandol, was to collect his own ships, and place them without the enemy, in the most eligible posture of defence in his power. Having, before she could reach her squadron, to cross the French van or advanced division, consisting of the 74-gun ship Ajax and 40 gun-frigate Amelie, the Shearwater became rather critically circumstanced; although it is doubtful whether, from her situation to windward, the Shearwater could have been molested by the French ships, had the brig been suffered to remain where she was. The Euryalus, who had also been ordered to close, was exposed to an equal degree of danger.
At 9 h. 15 m. A.m. the Shearwater received a broadside from the French Ajax, and presently two more broadsides, besides some straggling shot. The Amelie also fired two broadsides at the brig ; but not a shot from either the 74 or the frigate struck her. The Euryalus, at whom a part of the fire was directed, came off equally untouched; and both the latter and the Shearwater effected their junction with Captain Blackwood; who, since 8 A. M., had brought to in line of battle, the Warspite leading, followed by the Conquerer and Ajax. The latter, being from her position in the line the nearest to her French namesake and the frigate when they tacked to rejoin their main body, received also a portion of their fire. The Ajax, in the most gallant manner, tacked, and returned the fire with several broadsides. The Conqueror and Warspite, in succession, followed Captain Otway's ship in her manoeuvre, and fired also a few distant shot; but no damage appears to have been done on either side, beyond the loss of the English Ajax's jib-boom by a shot, and some slight inj ury done to her rigging and sails. The French squadron, accompanied by the frigate and her convoy from Bandol, returned about noon to the anchorage of the fleet in Toulon road.
We are doubtful if we should have considered this transaction worthy of any notice, had not two letters on the subject appeared in the London Gazette: one from the British admiral on the station to the secretary of the admiralty; the other, and that a tolerably long letter, from the commodore of the reconnoitring squadron to the commander in chief. A third letter went also the round of the English newspapers; one from Sir Charles Cotton to Captain Blackwood, thanking him and those under his command for the service they had performed. According to these letters, particularly that of Captain Blackwood to his admiral, one French 130-gun ship, five French two-deckers, 80s and 74s, and four 40-gun frigates, were driven back into their port by three British 74s, a 36-gun frigate, and a 10-gun brig. Is there not an absurdity upon the face of this 1 Was no allowance to be made for the state of the wind? The account admits, that " the weather was light and variable," and that the wind "rather failed" the English ships; and the logs of all the latter plainly show, that at daylight the wind blew, even with them in the offing, at west-north-west, and at noon at southwest by west.
The French declare that the wind shifted to opposite points, and was directly against them when their leading ships gave over the chase; and they justly ridicule the idea of three sail of the line silencing the fire of six. An officer belonging to the Toulon fleet, under date of October 22,1810, writes thus on the subject to the editor of the Moniteur: "We have read in Nos. 282 and 288 of the Moniteur, article ' London,' containing extracts from the English papers, the inaccurate report of the English Captain Blackwood. He has raised the indignation of the whole fleet; every person on board of which can attest, that only one 74, the Ajax, and the frigate Amelie, were able to approach the three enemy's ships, owing to the sudden fall of the wind, and its almost immediate change to a point directly ahead. The latter, therefore, had the sole power of attack; and yet, so far from advancing to a second action with the Ajax and Amelie, they retreated. The bravery of the seamen on board our fleet equals that of the English seamen; and the time may come when Captain Blackwood will have to give some other proof of his courage than that of which he has here boasted. It is false that the admiral's ship, of 130 guns, fired a broadside at that captain, or at either of the others. Truly, had she been able to close them, they would soon have made the discovery. It requires, sir, the boastfulness of an Englishman, to wish to inspire a belief, that the fire of three English line-of-battle ships is able to silence the fire of six French, and compel them to fry.''"
The writer, however, is incorrect in accusing Captain Blackwood of having stated, that the French three-decker fired a broadside at any of his ships: that assertion appears in a letter addressed to a newspaper editor by "An officer of the Ajax," and is virtually contradicted by a subsequent paragraph in the same letter. Another extract from the English papers, referred to by the French officer, is a loose paragraph, stating that the Euryalus lost Lieutenant Williams and seven men killed, and 13 wounded. This statement, in which there is not a shadow of truth, is exultingly dwelt upon by the French officer, in a subsequent part of his letter, as a proof of the superiority of the fire of the French, not a man on their side having been hurt, over that of the English.
The most objectionable part of Captain Blackwood's letter is the boast of what his three 74s would have done, had the French three-decker, and the five two-deckers, one or two of which in all probability were 80-gun ships, been " bold" enough to engage him. "From the determined conduct of the squadron you did me the honour to place under my command," says the captain, "I am fully persuaded, had the ambition of the enemy permitted him to make a bolder attack, the result would have been still more honourable to his majesty's arms." Had Commodore Rodgers, or the equally renowned Captain David Porter, or even the French admiral himself, assisted by the Moniteur's embellishing powers, written in this style, no surprise would have been created. But what Englishman does not regret, that such boastful threats, from physical causes almost impossible to be realized, should have emanated from the pen of a British officer;
* See Appendix, No. 4.
and that British officer, one who had already so unequivocally distinguished himself?
It was not many weeks afterwards, ere a more decided display of British valour, although not a sentence respecting it is to be found in the London Gazette, occurred off the port of Toulon. In the early part of August three French store-ships, bound thither, were chased by the British in-shore squadron into the anchorage of Porqueroles, one of the Hyeres, and were there watched by the 18-gun brig-sloop Philomel, Captain Gardiner Henry Guion. On the 26th, at daylight, the three store-ships, each of which was about equal in force to an English 28-gun frigate, weighed and pushed out; and one, covered by a division of the French fleet from the outer road, succeeded in getting round to Toulon. The remaining two, however, were obliged to put back and reanchor. On the 30th these shifted their births to the entrance of the Petite-Passe, preparatory to a second attempt to reach the port of their destination. On the next morning, the 31st, at daylight, the Toulon fleet was seen in motion; and at 8 h. 30 m. A. M. the two store-ships were again under way. At 9 h. 30 m. A. M. the Philomel, still at her post, tacked, the wind a light breeze from the east-south-east, and at 10 h. 30 m. exchanged a few distant shot with the store-ships as they were coming round Pointe Escampebarion. In 10 minutes afterwards the 74-gun ship Repulse, Captain John Halliday, who was lying to on the larboard tack at some distance outside the brig, exchanged shots with the French advanced frigates. Meanwhile the two store-ships, favoured by the wind and protected by their friends, got safe into Toulon.
Having accomplished this object, the French squadron, under Rear-admiral Baudininthe 120-gun ship Majestueux, continued working out, in the hope, apparently, of capturing the Philomel, who now made all possible sail upon a wind to get clear of her foes. At noon the two headmost French frigates opened a fire upon the brig, which she returned with her two 6-pounders out of the stern-ports. At 0 h. 25 m. p. M. the Repulse also commenced firing her stern guns. At Oh. 30m., finding that the shot of the frigates were passing over the Philomel, the British 74 gallantly bore up, and, bringing to astern of the brig, opened so heavy and well-directed a fire upon the three headmost frigates, which were the Pomone, Penelope, and Adrienne, that, in the course of a quarter of an hour, they wore and joined the line-of-battle ships; several of which were also, by this time, far advanced in the chase. These, soon afterwards, wore also; and, by 5 p. in., the whole were again at anchor in the road.
At the time this noble act was performed by the Repulse, the British fleet was out of sight to leeward, off Bandol, except the Warspite 74 and Alceste frigate, who were about nine miles distant in the same direction. Captains Blackwood and Murray Maxwell, and their respective officers and ship's companies, must have felt their hearts bound with delight at such a spectacle. Nor could the feelings of Captain Halliday and his ship's company been other than of the most cheering kind; especially when Captain Guion, in a spirit of honourable gratitude, telegraphed the Repulse,"You Repulsed the enemy,and nobly saved us: grant me permission to return thanks."
LIGHT SQUADRONS AND SINGLE SHIPS.
On the 10th of January the British 10-gun brig-sloop Cherokee (eight 18-pounder carronades and two sixes, with 75 men and boys), Captain Richard Arthur, reconnoitred the harbour of Dieppe, and perceived lying at anchor under the batteries, close together, and within 200 yards of the pier-head, seven French lugger-privateers. Notwithstanding the number and strong defensive position of these vessels, Captain Arthur resolved to attack them; and accordingly, at 1 A.m. on the 11th, the Cherokee, favoured by a southerly wind, stood in, and running between two of the luggers, gallantly laid one on board; which, after a fruitless attempt to board the Cherokee, was carried by the crew of the latter. The vessel proved to be the AimableNelly, a new lugger of 16 guns, 106 tons, and 60 men; of whom two were killed and eight wounded, three of them dangerously. The remaining six privateers kept up a smart fire of musketry; but the Cherokee notwithstanding succeeded in getting out her prize, with the loss of only two wounded, both in the hand, Lieutenant Vere Gabriel, and her boatswain, James Ralph. So daring and successful an act met its due reward, as is evident from the date of Captain Arthur's commission as a post-captain.
• On the 11th of January Captain Volant Vashon Ballard, of the 38-gun frigate Blonde, commanding a British squadron, consisting, besides that frigate, of the sloops Scorpion, Cygnet, and Pultusk, Captains Francis Stanfell, Edward Dix, and John M'George, and gun-brig Attentive, Lieutenant Robert Carr, stationed off Basse-terre bay, island of Guadaloupe, directed the Scorpion to bring out a French brig-corvette at anchor near the shore. At 9 P. M., while standing in to execute this service, the Scorpion discovered the object of her attack, which was the French 16-gun brig-corvette Oreste, Lieutenant Jean-BaptisteAnselme Mousnier, just clearing the north point of the bay. The British brig immediately made all sail in chase, but had very soon to use her sweeps on account of the fall of the wind. At 10 h. 30 m. P.m. the Scorpion began firing her bow-chasers, and at 11 P. M. brought the French brig to action. A sort of running fight, in which the Scorpion had occasionally to keep in check a battery on the shore, was maintained between the two brigs until 1 h. 30 m. A. M. on the 12th; when, being completely