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Captain Prescott now set the example by pushing off with the Weazle's boats, having under him Lieutenant Thomas John James William Davis, Mr. George Cayme the master, and midshipmen William Holmes and John Golding. The boats of the Thames, under Lieutenants Edward Collier and Francis Molesworth, midshipmen Matthew Liddon, Christopher Wyvill, John Veal, John Murray, the Honourable Trefusis Cornwall, and William Wilkinson, Mr. William Mullins the boatswain, and Mr. James Beckett the carpenter; and those of the Pilot, under Lieutenants Francis Charles Annesley and George Penruddock, Mr. Thomas Herbert the boatswain, and master's mate Thomas Leigh, promptly followed.
The marines of the Thames, under Lieutenant David M'Adam, were also landed, to cover the seamen while they were launching the vessels; the ships all the time firing on the batteries, and on every spot where musketry was collected to oppose the party on shore. The Neapolitans had not only thrown up an embankment outside the vessels, to prevent the British from getting them off, but also one within them, to afford shelter to the numerous troops collected; who, when driven from their intrenchments, still greatly annoyed the British from the walls of the town. At length every difficulty was surmounted! and by 6 P. M. all the vessels were brought off, except one transport laden with bread, too much shattered by shot to float, and one gun-boat, two armed vessels, and two transports, that could not be got off the beach, but all of which were destroyed.
This very gallant and important enterprise was accomplished with so slight a loss on the part of the British, as one marine killed, and six seamen and marines wounded. The loss on the part of the Neapolitans nowhere appears; nor, indeed, can we discover that any account of the affair has been published. The Moniteur of August the 5th contains an article, under the head of" Scylla, le 20 Juillet,'' announcing the departure of Captain Caraccioli, with a division of gun-boats, to meet and protect this convoy; but, although accounts from the Neapolitan coast continued to arrive, no mention is made of the disaster that befel that convoy and those gun-boats.
In his letter to Rear-admiral Martin, giving an account of this affair, Captain Waldegrave, with a liberality and a modesty that do him great credit, thus expresses himself: "Gratified as I feel at an opportunity of testifying the gallantry and zeal of Captains Prescott and Nicolas, and Lieutenant Collier, together with all the officers and crews of the ships (more particularly those in the boats), for their sakes I cannot help regretting it should not have fallen to their lot to have been under the command of one, whose testimony would have greater weight in ensuring them that applause and reward to which such conduct so justly entitles them." For his gallantry in the command of the boats, Captain Prescott was promoted to post-rank, and his
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commission bears date on the day on which the service was executed.
On the night of the 28th of September, Captain Robert Hallr of the 14-gun brig-sloop Rambler, lying in Gibraltar bay, having been detached with some gun-boats in search of enemy's privateers to the westward, landed with 30 officers, seamen, and marines, after a pull of 20 hours at the sweeps, at a spot near the entrance of the river Barbate, or Barbet, about five miles to the north-west of Tarifa. Lieutenant Hall and his party then crossed the sand-hills to get at a French privateer, lying about three miles up the river, protected by two 6-pounders, her own crew, and 30 French dragoons. After some sharp firing, the enemy retreated with the loss of five dragoons, seven horses, and two of the privateer's crew. The British then swam off to the privateer and carried her with no greater loss than one'marine killed and one wounded. Among the officers present in this enterprise, we find the names of Lieutenant James Seagrove and Lieutenant of marines William Halsted.
Of all the official letters which we have had occasion to consult, this of Captain Hall's is the most difficult to understand. He speaks of landing with part of the crew of a gun-boat No. 14, "that of the Rambler and the marines and seamen of the Topaze, in all 30," and dates his letter on board " His majesty's sloop Rambler." We suppose, however, that both the Rambler and the Topaze, mentioned in the body of the letter, were gunboats. A little more explicitness would have enabled us to do justice to what appears to have been a very gallant exploit. Our contemporary seems also to have been led astray by the official letter. He says: "Captain Robert Hall, in the Rambler, a small brig of war, of 10 guns, took out of the river of Barbet, near Malaga, a French privateer, and some small vessels, with a degree of spirit and enterprise seldom exceeded."* No date is given but the year, and that is "1809." On this point the official letter is clear; as well as that one vessel onlyVas taken, and that Barbet was "to the westward," and not as Malaga notoriously is, to the eastward, of the rock of Gibraltar.
On the 4th of November the 18-gun ship-sloop Blossom, Captain William Stewart, cruising off Cape Sicie, observed in the south-east and immediately chased a latteen xebec. At 4 p. M., when the ship had arrived within four miles of the xebec, it fell calm. Captain Stewart despatched the cutter, under master's mate Richard Hambly, to reconnoitre the vessel, strictly charging him not to risk the life of a man, should he find her armed and disposed to make obstinate resistance. Almost immediately afterwards the Blossom's yawl, manned with volunteers, and commanded by the first Lieutenant Samuel Davis, having under him midshipman John Marshall, joined the
* Brenton, vol. iv., p. 858.
cutter; and the two boats pulled with all their strength to overtake the xebec.
At about 7 p. me, just as the boats had arrived within gunshot,, the privateer, which was the Cesar of Barcelona, of four guns and 59 men, opened a fire upon them; killing Lieutenant Davis and three seamen, and badly wounding (by a musketball through the collar-bone) Mr. Hambly and four men. With the 26 seamen and marines remaining, Mr. Marshall sprang on board of, and after a smart contest carried, the privateer; but not without the additional loss of five men woun ded. The privateer had four men killed, and nine wounded; the greater part after boarding, as the seven marines divided between the two boats only fired twice before they and the seamen were on the xebec's decks. This was a very gallant exploit on the part of Mr. Marshall Jr and, had it been properly represented, he certainly would not have had to wait upwards of six years before he received a lieutenant's commission.
On the 13th of December, at 1 P. M., Captain Thomas Rogers, of the 74-gun ship Kent, having under his orders, off the southeast coast of Spain, the Ajax 74, Captain Robert Waller Otway, 40-gun frigate Cambrian, Captain Francis William Fane, and 18-gun sloops Sparrowhawk and Minstrel, Captains James Pringle and Colin Campbell, despatched the boats of the squadron, containing 350 seamen and 250 marines, with two fieldpieces, under the command of Captain Fane, to capture or destroy an enemy's convoy in the mole of Palamos; consisting of one new national ketch mounting 14 guns, with 60 men, two xebecs of three guns and 30 men each, and eight merchant vessels laden with provisions for Barcelona: the whole protected by two 24-pounders, one in a^ battery that stood over the mole, and the other, with a 13-inch mortar, in a battery on a very commanding height; besides, from the best information then received, about 250 soldiers in the town.
The boats, very soon after quitting the Kent, landed their men on the beach in the finest order, under cover of the Sparrowhawk and Minstrel, without harm, the French having posted themselves in the town; from which they also retired on the approach of the British, and the latter forthwith took quiet possession of the batteries and the vessels in the mole. The mortar was spiked, and the cannon thrown down the heights into the sea, the magazine blown up, and the whole of the vessels, except two which were brought out, burnt and destroyed: in short, the object of the enterprise was completely fulfilled, and that with the loss of only four or five men from occasional skirmishing. But, in withdrawing from a hill occupied by a part of the detachment, to keep the enemy in check until the batteries and
* The author of the "Royal Naval Biography," occasionally quoted in these pages.