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unrigged by her opponent's well-directed fire, the Oreste hauled down her colours. At this moment the barge of the Blon arrived, and assisted in taking possession of the prize; who, could she have protracted the action many minutes longer, would have run herself on shore.
The Scorpion, whose guns were 16 carronades, 32-pounders, and two sixes, with a complement of 120 men and boys, received several shot in her hull, had her main yard wounded in the slings, also her mainmast and gaff, and her sails and rigging much cut; but she escaped with no greater loss than four men wounded. The Oreste, whose guns were fourteen 24-pounder carronades and two sixes, with a complement of 110 men and boys, besides about 20 passengers, including a lieutenant-colonel and two other officers of the army, and the captains and some of the officers of the two French frigates Loire and Seine, recently destroyed at Anse la Barque, was damaged in the manner already stated, and lost two men killed, and her first and second captains and eight men wounded. Twelve officers and 79 men were received from her as prisoners, total, 9 L; but the remaining survivors of the crew and passengers succeeded ,in reaching the shore in one of the brig's boats. Surrounded as the French brig was by an enemy's squadron, not the slightest imputation can attach to her officers and crew for surrendering. The Oreste, a fine brig of 312 tons, was afterwards added to the British navy by the name of Wellington.
On the 17th of January the 18-pounder* 36-gun frigate, Freija, Captain John Hayes, cruising of Englishman's Head, island of Guadaloupe, received intelligence from the log of a schooner captured by her, that there were three or four vessels at anchor in Baie Mahaut, a place of some strength situated on the north side of the neck of land connecting Basse-terre with Grande-terre. Captain Hayes came to the determination of attacking the forts that defended the harbour, with a division of boats from the little squadron then under his orders; and, as a preliminary step, the Freija made sail by herself to reconnoitre the spot. On the 21st, at noon, after a two days' search in a most intricate and dangerous navigation, the frigate discovered three vessels lying at anchor; but, owing to the distance, could only make out that one was a brig with topgallant yards across and sails bent. The evening proving particularly fine, with little wind and smooth water, Captain Hayes resolved to send away the boats of the Freija alone, now quite out of signal-distance from any ship of her squadron.
Accordingly, at 9 h. 15 m. p. M., four boats, containing 50 seamen and 30 marines, under the orders of Lieutenant David Hope, first of the Freija, assisted by Lieutenant of marines John Shillibeer, master's mate A. G. Countess, and Mr. Samuel Bray, the gunner, pushed off from the frigate, and stood to the south
* Of that class, but we believe the frigate carried Gover's 24s.
ward. At a few minutes past 11 P.m., after experiencing great difficulty in finding a passage, and meeting so many shoals that the headmost boat grounded eight or ten times, Lieutenant Hope detained a fisherman; from whom he learnt that a troop of regular cavalry and a company of native infantry had arrived at Baie Mahaut that evening from Pointe-a-Pitre. Undismayed by this information, the British hastened forward to the point of attack.
As soon as the boats arrived within gun-shot, a signal gun was fired, and then a discharge of grape from a battery at the north-east point, and from another at the head of the bay. The guns of the brig, found to be six in number, and all mounted on one side, also opened upon the boats ; and they likewise received a fire of musketry from men concealed in the bushes that lay between one battery and the other. In the face of this very heavy fire, the boats pulled alongside the brig; and, as the British boarded her on one side, the Frenchman fled from her on the other.
Leaving Mr. Bray, with a few hands, in charge of the brig, with directions to turn her guns upon the enemy, and cover the landing of the boats, Lieutenant Hope pushed for the shore; but the boats grounded at so great a distance, that the officers and men had to wade up to their middles to get to the beach. As the British advanced towards the first battery, the French retreated, and took post behind a brick breastwork, from over which they opened a fire of musketry. Pushing forward, the seamen and marines brought their broadswords and bayonets into play, and quickly drove the enemy from his position. The battery was found to consist of one 24-pounder, besides six howitzers which had been dragged to the beach to oppose the landing. The howitzers were now buried in the sand, the 24pounder hove over the cliff, and the battery destroyed, as well as a magazine containing 20 barrels of powder. Lieutenant Hope and his party then pushed on, and stormed and carried the other battery, mounting three 24-pounders. These the British immediately spiked, and set fire to and destroyed the carriages and guard-house. This battery was a very complete work, ditched all round, with a small bridge and a gateway entrance.
Having thus far succeeded in their perilous enterprise, Lieutenant Hope and his party returned to the brig; which they found fast in the mud, the crew, when they quitted her, having cut her cables. After great exertions, the seamen got the prize afloat. Near to the brig lay, fast aground in the mud, a large English-built ship, under repair, and inside of her a fine national schooner, pierced for 16 guns, but having only 12 on board. Finding it impracticable to float either of these vessels, Lieutenant Hope set fire to and destroyed them. This done, the British boats and the captured brig moved out of the bay, and in a very short time were close alongside the Freija.
The whole of this very gallant and far from unimportant service was executed with so slight a loss to the British as two seamen severely wounded; one in going up to loose the brig's foretopsail, and the other in attacking the batteries. The loss on the part of the French could not be ascertained: two officers, one with two epaulets and supposed to be the commandant at the fort, were found dead, and some lay wounded. In his letter to Captain Hayes, giving an account of the service he had performed, Lieutenant Hope speaks in the highest terms of the officers and men under his command; and particularly notices the gallant manner in which Lieutenant Shillibeer led his marines to the charge: as well as the steady discipline of the latter, in keeping possession of the heights while the seamen were destroying the batteries.
Captain Hayes wrote to Vice-admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, the commander-in-chief on the station, enclosing the letter of Lieutenant Hope; and Sir Alexander transmitted both letters to the secretary of the admiralty, with one from himself, in which, after dwelling upon the importance of the service, in reference to the intended attack upon the island at large, he says: "The conduct of Lieutenant Hope and his party, in driving so large a force before him, and surmounting so many difficulties in reaching the enemy's position, stamps their leader as a brave and meritorious officer; and he is deserving the notice of the lords commissioners of the admiralty." Not one of these letters, however, appeared in the London Gazette. Instead of them a sort of abstract was inserted, in the following words: "The viceadmiral has transmitted a letter from Captain Hayes, of his majesty's ship Freija, stating the destruction of the batteries at Bay Mahaut, in the island of Guadaloupe, and of a ship and national schooner at anchor there, and also the capture of an armed brig by the boats of the Freija, under the direction of Lieutenant David Hope, who appears to have displayed much gallantry in the performance of this service."
To epitomize official letters, so as to do justice to the case and to the parties interested, is no easy task; and the admiralty clerk who made this very abstract has left it in some degree doubtful, whether the Freija did not destroy the batteries, ship, and schooner, and her boats capture the brig. At all events the service performed by Lieutenant Hope appeared of so little comparative merit, when thus, we suppose we must call it, "gazetted," that, although at that time not a very young lieutenant, he had to wait four or five years longer before he became a commander.
These abstracts of letters may possibly have originated in a press of official matter; but, then, how happens it that we occasionally see with them, in the columns of the Gazette, entire letters, announcing the capture of half a dozen insignificant chasse-marees, or of some privateer of trifling force, and that perhaps by a frigate? Nay, the space occupied by the letters of Sir Charles Cotton and Captain Blackwood, already adverted to," would have contained at least two of the rejected letters, and have probably led to the promotion of two deserving officers.
To the naval annalist, these brief statements occasion great inconvenience; to him especially who feels bound to give a better excuse for the omission of the details of a well-conducted enterprise, than that the board of admiralty had not deemed them of sufficient importance to appear in the London Gazette. Unfortunately, too, the sources of information, which for their authenticity and minuteness we prefer to all others, fail us in the majority of those daring, and far from uninteresting cases, attacks by boats upon the enemy's armed vessels and shore batteries. The log seldom if ever states more, than that at such an hour the boats quitted the ship, and at such an hour returned: sometimes the loss in killed and wounded is inserted, and more rarely the name of the officer who commanded the party.
On the 10th of February, at 10 h. 30 m. A. m latitude 25° 22' north, longitude 61° 27' west, the British 10-gun schooner Thistle (18-pounder carronades, with 50 men and boys), Lieutenant Peter Procter, steering north-east by north with the wind at south-east, discovered and chased a strange ship in the eastsouth-east. At 4 P. M , having by superiority of sailing neared the stranger considerably, the Thistle fired a gun and hoisted her colours. The example was immediately followed by the ship, which was the Dutch corvette Havik, Lieutenant de vaisseau Jean Steeling; a large India-built ship, pierced for 18 guns and mounting; 10 (six long 4-pounders and four 2-pound swivels), with a complement of 52 men and boys, including the Batavian rear-admiral, Armand-Adrien Buyskes, late lieutenant-governor and commander-in-chief at Batavia, and his suite, bound from that port to New York, and partly laden with spices and indigo. t .
At 5 p. M., which made just seven hours and a half from the commencement of the chase, the Thistle got alongside the Havik, and firing across her bows, hailed her to bring to. The reply to this was a broadside. The action immediately commenced, and was maintained with mutual spirit. At 6 h. 15 m. p. M. the Havik attempted to run the schooner down; but the latter, hauling aft her sheets, adroitly avoided the bows of her huge opponent. The Thistle, three of whose carronades had been dismounted since the early part of the action, continued closely engaging the Havik until 6 h. 45 m. p. M.; when the latter made all sail and endeavoured to escape before the wind. This being
the ship's best point of sailing, it was not until 7 h. 40 m. p. sr.' that the schooner got near enough to open her bow guns. Gradually advancing in the chase, the Thistle, at 8 h. 30 m. p. M., again arrived alongside. A second close engagement ensued, and continued until 9 h. 45 m.; when the Havik hauled down her colours and hailed that she had struck.
In this five hours engagement and running fight, the Thistle had one marine killed, and her commander and six men wounded. On board the Havik one man also was killed, and the Dutch admiral and seven men badly wounded. The conduct of the Thistle in the affair was highly creditable to her commander, his officers, and crew. It was an act of some boldness for a schooner of 150 tons to attack a large warlike enemy's ship; nor was it less a proof of persevering courage for the Thistle, after three of her carronades had been dismounted, to continue the engagement for so long a time, and until she brought it to a successful issue. Lieutenant Procter, who is described by Vice-admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, the commander-in-chief on the Halifax station, as " an old officer of much merit,"in four months afterwards, as we discover by a reference to the navy-list, was promoted to the rank of commander.
On the 12th or 13th of January the French 40-gun frigates, Nereide, Captain Jean-Franc,ois Lemaresquier, and Astree, Captain Francois-Desire Breton, managed to effect their escape from the port of Cherbourg; the one laden with troops and supplies for the island of Guadaloupe, and the other with the same for the Isle of France. On the 9th of February, very early in the morning, the Nereide arrived off Basse-terre, and sent an officer and boat's crew on shore for a pilot. The boat did not return, for the colony had been three days in possession of the British; and the first peep of day discovered to the Nereide her perilous situation. From their anchorage off the west end of the Saintes, the following British vessels slipped their cables, and made all sail in chase:—
Captain Joshua Rowley Watson,
„ Volant Vashon Ballard.
„ George Miller.
„ Edward Hawker.
„ George Paris Monke.
„ Francis Stanfell.
Shortly afterwards the Alfred shaped her course to the northward after a ship at anchor off Anse la Barque, supposed to be a second French frigate, but which proved to be the 18-gun ship-sloop Star, Captain William Paterson, who had also slipped on descrying the Nereide, but lay becalmed under the land. Is the mean while the Blonde, Thetis, Melampus, Castor, and Scorpion, pursued the Nereide; who was under a crowd of canvass