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brig Canonnier, of 10 long 4-pounders, one 24-pounder carronade and four swivels, with 77 men, commanded by Enseigne de vaisBeau Jean-Joseph-Benoit Schilds, having under her protection a convoy of five small vessels, which she had just sailed with from Peros and was conducting to Brest.
At 11 h. 30 m. A. M. the Scylla overtook, and commenced firing at, the Canonnier and her convoy. At 11 h. 45 m., being then within the Triagos and Portgalo rocks, off Morlaix, and finding that it was the intention of the French commander to run his vessel and convoy on shore, Captain Atcheson resolved to lay him on board. The Scylla, going at the time eight knots, accordingly did so; and in about three minutes her officers and crew carried the Canonnier, with a loss on their part of two seamen killed, and one midshipman (Thomas Liven) and one marine slightly wounded. As a pooof that the French brig made a creditable resistance, she lost her commander, one midshipman, the boatswain, and three seamen killed, and one midshipman and 10 seamen wounded, five of them dangerously. One only of the convoy was secured, a sloop laden with grain: the remaining four got within the rocks and ran themselves on shore.
On the 24th of August, at 1 p. M., as the British 38-gun frigate Diana, Captain William Ferris, and 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Semiramis, Captain Charles Richardson, were standing towards the Cordouan lighthouse from Basque roads, five sail were descried inside of the shoals at the mouth of the river Gironde. Four of these were small merchant vessels, which the fifth sail, the French (late British) gun-brig Teazer, mounting twelve 18pounder carronades and two long 18-pounders, with 85 men, commanded by Lieutenant de vaisseau Jean-Alexandre Papineau, had escorted from Rochefort and was now taking to a place of security, on account of not being able, as represented, to weather Maumusson.
Aware that a direct attack upon these vessels, situated as they were amidst shoals and heavy batteries, would be attended with the sacrifice of many lives, Captain Ferris resolved to attempt accomplishing his object by stratagem. Accordingly, at 4 h. 30 m. p. M., having hoisted French colours, and the Diana a commodore's pendant and a French jack at the fore, the signal for a pilot, the two British frigates stood boldly in towards the mouth of the Gironde. The Teazer immediately hoisted her colours, and fired a gun to leeward, the signal for a friend. The two frigates promptly repeated the gun, and at 6 P. M. tacked. The battery at Pomte dela Coubrenow fired a few shot; but Captain Papineau, as the Teazer ran past the battery, hailed the commandant, and informed him that the two frigates were the Pallas and Elbe from Rochefort. The battery, on this, ceased firing; and at 6 h. 30 m. P.m. a pilot-boat came alongside the Diana. The Frenchmen were soon handed out of her, and their boat secured astern. At 7 P.m., which was just as it got dark, the Diana and Semiramis anchored off Pointe de Grave, between the Cordouan and Royan; under the batteries of which latter place and of Verdon lay the Teazer, in company with the brig-corvette Pluvier, of 14 carronades, 24-pounders, and two sixes, commanded by the captain of the port, Capitaine de fregate Michael-Augustin Dubourg, and stationed there for the protection of the different convoys passing along that part of the coast.
The Teazer's convoy having anchored about four miles up the river, Captain Ferris, at 7 h. 30 m. p. M., despatched seven boats, to attempt cutting the vessels out; three from the Diana, under the orders of Lieutenants Francis Sparrow and George B. Roper, and master's mate William Holmes, and four from the Semiramis, under Lieutenants Thomas Gardner, Percy Grace, and Robert Nicholson, and master's mate Timothy Renou. The tide prevented the execution of this service until very late in the night; and at daylight on the 25th the boats and the captured vessels, five in number, were still up the river, at the mouth of which lay the two French men-of-war brigs. Captain Ferris now determined to attack the two brigs with the ships; and accordingly, at 6 A. m, the two frigates, using the same artifices as before, got under way and steered for Verdon road. As a proof that the deception fully succeeded, Captain Dubourg went on board the Diana in his boat, and did not discover his mistake until he had ascended the quarterdeck.
While the Semiramis stood towards the inner brig, the Pluvier, the Diana laid the outer one, the Teazer, close alongside, the frigate's lower yards carrying away the brig's two topgallantmasts. In an instant Lieutenant Robert White Parsons, first of the Diana, attended by Lieutenant Lewis Pryse Madden of the marines, Mr. Mark G. Noble the boatswain, and about 30 seamen and marines, sprang on board, and, without the loss of a man on either side, carried the brig. Lieutenant Parsons then caused the prisoners to be put below without the force of arms and consequent destruction of life; thereby evincing a humanity which did him much honour. One of the Diana's seamen was afterwards accidentally lost overboard.
The moment she discovered what had befallen the Teazer, and saw the Semiramis approaching to put the same plan in practice upon herself, the Pluvier, now commanded by Lieutenant de vaisseau Page St.-Vaast, cut her cables and made sail for the beach; where she grounded near to the battery of Royan. The Semiramis chased until she got into five fathoms' water; then anchored with a spring, so as to bring her broadside to bear upon the brig and her bow guns upon the fort, within grape-shot distance of both. After a few minutes' engagement, and just as the boats were about to pull alongside the Pluvier to carry off her crew, numbering 136 officers and men, Lieutenant Gardner, with the barge, pinnace, and cutter, rejoined his ship from the service of capturing the convoy. These boats were immediately
sent to attack the brig; and, after receiving the broadside of the Pluvier, Lieutenant Gardner boarded and carried her, with no greater loss on the British side, than himself and two seamen wounded.
The prize being fast on shore, the ebb tide running rapidly, and the Semiramis in only 25 feet water, Captain Richardson found it necessary to take out of the Pluvier the remainder of her crew and burn her; a service soon executed. The Semiramis then stood out to join the Diana, who had anchored in the Gironde out of gun-shot, in company with the Teazer and the five vessels late under her charge; one of which, the transport Mulet, mounted eight swivels, with a crew of 42 men, and was laden with ship-timber. At 1 h. 30 m. p. M. the Pluvier exploded; and thus was consummated an enterprise, planned with judgment, and executed with skill and gallantry.
After lying tolerably quiet for several years, the famous Boulogne flotilla began again, this autumn, to be seized with fits of restlessness. It consisted at this time of 16 prames, or ship-rigged gun-vessels, mounting 12 long 24-pounders, with 112 men each; 28 brigs, with false keels, mounting from three to eight long 24s, and occasionally a large mortar, with from 70 to 80 men each; eight schooners of 10 guns and 40 men each, and between 200 and 300 gun-boats, rigged chiefly as luggers, some with one, others with two, long 18 or 24-pounders and 26 men each.
On the 19th of August, at 2 p. m the island of St.-Marcouf bearing west by north distant six leagues, the British 16-gun brig-sloop Hawk, Captain Henry Bourchier, observed from the mast-head a convoy of French vessels steering for Barfleur. All sail was immediately made in chase; and, on her near approach, the Hawk discovered that the convoy was under the protection of three gun-brigs and two large luggers, the latter carrying from eight to 10 guns, and the former from 10 to 16, and apparently well armed. These five armed vessels immediately hauled out from their convoy, with the evident intention of giving battle to the British brig, and the latter hove to in readiness to receive them.
At 3 h. 30 m. p. m Pointe Piercue bearing north-west halfwest distant four miles, the action commenced within half pistolshot, and continued, with great spirit on both sides, until the Hawk succeeded in driving on shore two of the brigs and the two luggers, with 15 sail of their convoy. While in the act of wearing to prevent the third brig from raking her, the Hawk took the ground; whereby that brig and a few of her convoy, although they had previously struck, effected their escape. During an hour and a half that the Hawk was employed in lightening herself of booms, spars, anchors, and a few of her guns, she lay exposed to incessant discharges of artillery and musketry from the shore. Having got again afloat, the Hawk anchored to repair her damaged rigging; and Captain Bourchier took that opportunity of despatching his boats, under the orders of Lieutenant David Price, second of the brig (the first absent in a prize), assisted by John Smith the master, and Thomas Wheeler the gunner, to bring out or destroy as many of the vessels as practicable.
Lieutenant Price, under a galling fire of musketry from the beach, succeeded in bringing out the Heron, national brig, pierced for 16 guns, mounting when the attack commenced only 10 (and of these she had since, to lighten herself, thrown overboard four), together with three large transports, laden with ship-timber. The remainder of the grounded vessels were on their broadsides and completely bilged; but Lieutenant Price was prevented from burning them, owing to the strength of the tide against him. The loss sustained by the Hawk, in this her very gallant enterprise, amounted to one seaman killed and four wounded. Captain Bourchier, in his official letter, speaks very highly of Mr. Henry Campling, purser; "who," he says, "volunteered to command the marines and small-arm men, and from whose continued and well-conducted fire I attribute the loss of so few men." In these instances, where officers step out of their way to serve in posts of danger, we are particularly gratified in being able to record their names. For his gallantry on the occasion, Captain Bourchier was deservedly promoted to post-rank.
On the 6th of September, in consequence of information brought by some deserters from the French admiral's ship in Cherbourg, Captain Pulteney Malcolm, of the 74-gun ship Royal-Oak, cruising off the port, detached the 28-gun frigate Barbadoes, Captain Edward Rushworth, and 16-gun brig-sloop Goshawk, Captain James Lilburn, to the eastward of Barfleur, for the purpose of intercepting some gun-brigs expected at Cherbourg from Boulogne. On the 7th the two British brigs fell in with seven French gun-brigs, mounting three long 24pounders and a mortar each, and manned with 75 men. These the Barbadoes and Goshawk immediately attacked and chased into Calvados, driving one of them on shore.
On the 8th the 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Hotspur, Captain Josceline Percy, arrived off Calvados, to endeavour to destroy the French brigs. Having a pilot on board, who undertook to carry the frigate within pistol-shot of the enemy, Captain Percy stood in to the attack; and at 6 p. M., when within less than half-gun-shot, the Hotspur grounded. Notwithstanding her situation, the frigate succeeded in sinking one gun-brig and driving two on shore, but lay fast for four hours, exposed all the while to a heavy fire from the vessels, a battery, and some fieldpieces. The consequence was, that the Hotspur sustained a very serious loss; having two midshipmen (William Smith and Alexander Hay), two seamen, and one boy killed, and 19 seamen and three marines wounded. The ship also received considerable damage in her hull, masts, and rigging.
On the 3d of September, at 11 A.m., while the two 10-gun
Captain Colin Macdonald, were watching the main body of the French flotilla, moored along the coast of Boulogne bay, under the protection of the heavy batteries in that neighbourhood, four of the 12-gun prames, one bearing a commodore's broad pendant, four 4-gun brigs, and seven lugger-rigged gun-boats, of one gun each, got under way from the west end of the bay, with the flood tide and a strong breeze from the east-north-east, apparently to shift their birth upon the eastern land. Hoping that a chance might offer, should these vessels venture a little way from the shore, of intercepting some of them, Captain Anderson, with his two brigs, hovered about them to windward. Observing, after a while, one of the prames and a brig astern of the others, the Rinaldo and Redpole made all sail, in the expectation to cut one or the other of them off; but, seeing the British captain's intention, the French prame and brig also made sail, and succeeded in joining the others, who were lying to for them within the Basse bank.
At 1 p. M., having followed the prame and brig within the bank, the Rinaldo and Redpole commenced action with them and the rear of the flotilla. Having stood as close in-shore as they could, the games, gun-brigs, and luggers tacked and stood out in two lines, pointing in the direction of the two British brigs, who were lying to receive them. After a little partial firing, the flotilla stood in again, followed and engaged by the Rinaldo and Redpole. This manoeuvre was repeated once or twice; and eventually the flotilla bore round up, and came to at their former anchorage, having done no greater injury to the two British brigs, than cutting away some of their rigging and making a few holes in their sails. Considering that the two British brigsmounted only 18-pounder carronades, and their antagonists long French 24-pounders, although we may wish for some further particulars of this action before we apply a term to the behaviour of the latter, we may safely say of the former, that they conducted themselves in the most gallant manner.
On the 20th of September, at noon, as the British 38-gun frigate Naiad, Captain Philip Carteret, was at anchor off Boulogne road, the French emperor, who was honouring the Boulognese with a visit, embarked in his barge, and, proceeding along the line of games and gun-brigs, went on board the centre prame. The imperial flag immediately waved at the main topgallantmast-head, and remained there for a short time; when, Napoleon departing, it was lowered down, and the flag of Rearadmiral Baste hoisted at the mizen. Several of the other vessels were honoured in a similar manner, and Buonaparte continued rowing about the road. All this was plainly seen from on board
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