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serably deficient. Many a 10-gun privateer, in a running; fight, has inflicted a greater loss upon a British frigate, than the Virginie sustained in her one hour and a half s conflict with the Guelderland. On the other hand, great credit is due to the Virginie's officers and crew for the skill they exhibited; especially when it is considered, that the 18-pounders of the Virginie, on account of her age and weakness, were of a shorter and lighter description than those usually established upon frigates of her class.
The British captain, in his official letter, calls the defence of his opponent a gallant one, and adds: "If any credit is due to this transaction, I entreat you to bestow it on the officers and men." Here is another instance of that liberal feeling which is ever the characteristic of the truly brave. Captain Brace's recommendation of his officers produced its effect, Lieutenant John Davis, first of the ship, being made a commander, and master's mate Nathaniel Norton, who had passed for one, a lieutenant. Dutch ships of war are seldom any great acquisition to the British navy; but the Guelderland served, for a few years, as a cruising 12-pounder 36.
On the 4th of April, while the British 38-gun frigate Alceste, Captain Murray Maxwell, 28-gun frigate Mercury, Captain James Alexander Gordon, and 18-gun brig-sloop Grasshopper (16 carronades,32-pounders, and two long sixes), Captain Thomas Searle, lay at anchor about three miles to the north-west of the lighthouse of San-Sebastian, near Cadiz, a large convoy, under the protection of about 20 gun-boats and a numerous train of flying artillery on the beach, was observed coming down close along-shore from the northward. At 3 p. M., the Spanish convoy being then abreast of the town of Rota, the Alceste and squadron weighed, with the wind at west-south-west, and stood in for the body of the enemy's vessels.
At 4 p. ml, the shot and shells from the gun-boats and batte ries passing over them, the British ships opened their fire. The Alceste and Mercury devoted their principal attention to the gunboats; while the Grasshopper, drawing much less water, stationed herself upon the shoal to the southward of the town, and so close to the batteries, that by the grape from her carronades she drove the Spaniards from their guns, and at the same time kept in check a division of gun-boats, which had come out from Cadiz to assist those engaged by the two frigates. Captain Maxwell in his official letter, alluding to this gallant conduct on the part of Captain Searle, says: "It was a general cry in both ships, 'Only look how nobly the brig behaves.'" The situation of the Alceste and Mercury was also rather critical, they having, in the state of the wind, to tack every fifteen minutes close to the end of the shoal.
In the heat of the action the first Lieutenant of the Alceste^ Allen Stewart, volunteered to board the convoy with the boats. Accordingly the boats of the Alceste pushed off, under Lieutenant Stewart, accompanied by Lieutenant Philip Pipon, Lieatenant of Marines Richard Hawkey, master's mates James Arscott and Thomas Day, midshipmen J. Stevens Parker, James Adair, Charles Croker, Abraham M'Caul, and Thomas Henry M'Lean; and the boats of the Mercury, under Lieutenant Watkin Owen Pell,* accompanied by Lieutenant Robert James Gordon, Lieutenant of Marines James Whylock, master's mates Charles Du Cane and Maurice Keating Comyn, quickly followed. Dashing in among the convoy, the two divisions of boats, led by Lieutenant Stewart, soon boarded and brought out seven tartans, from under the very muzzles of the enemy's guns, and from under the protection of the barges and pinnaces of the Franco-Spanish, squadron of seven sail of the line; which barges and pinnaces had also by that time effected their junction with the gun-boats.
Exclusive of the seven tartans captured, two of the gun-boats were destroyed, and several compelled to run on shore, by the fire from the two British frigates and brig, which did not entirely cease until 6 h. 30 m. p. M. All this was effected with so slight a loss to the British, as one man mortally and two slightly wounded on board the Grasshopper. The damages of the latter, however, were extremely severe, as well in hull, as in masts, rigging, and sails. With the exception of an anchor shot away from the Mercury, the damages of the two frigates were confined to their sails and rigging, and that not to any material extent.
In the month of April, while the British 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Nymphe, Captain Conway Shipley, and 18-gun shipsloop Blossom, Captain George Pigot, were cruising off the port of Lisbon, information was received, that a large brig-corvette, the Garrota, of 20 guns and 150 men, late belonging to the Portuguese navy, but since fitted out by the French, was lying at anchor in a bight above Belem castle, waiting for an opportunity to escape to sea. Having rowed up the Tagus at night in his gig, and reconnoitred the position of the brig, Captain Shipley resolved to attempt cutting her out. For this purpose the boats of both ships were detached, and upon a principle highly honourable to him, were placed by Captain Shipley under the command of Captain Pigot; the former merely accompanying the expedition to point out the situation of the vessel. Owing to some cause with which we are unacquainted, the boats returned without effecting their object, or even, we believe, getting within gun-shot of the French brig. A second attempt ended much in the same way.
Captain Shipley now resolved to head the boats himself; and accordingly, on the 23d, at 9 P. M., eight boats, containing about
* In mentioning the wound of this officer when a midshipman of the Loire in February 1800 (see vol. iii„ p. 81), we should have stated that he lost his left leg, and was then under 12 years of age.
150 officers and men, quitted the Nymphe, in two divisions, for the Tagus. The larboard division consisted of the Nymphe's gig, Captain Shipley, her large cutter, Lieutenant Richard Standish Haly, launch, Lieutenant Thomas Hodgskins, and yawl, master's mate Michael Raven. The starboard division consisted of the Blossom's gig, Captain George Pigot, her large cutter, Lieutenant John Undrell, launch, Lieutenant William Cecil, and the Nymphe's small cutter, master's mate Thomas Hill. The orders were, for the boats to keep in tow of each other until they were discovered by the brig: then to cast off, and pull alongside as fast as possible; the larboard division to board on the larboard, and the starboard division on the opposite, side of the enemy's vessel. As, in the event of success, the Garotta in coming out might not be able, on account of the darkness, to avoid the shoals off the entrance of the river, Mr, Henry Andrews, the master of the Nymphs, with the jollyboat, was directed to station himself on the northern extremity of the South Cachop; and, upon seeing the brig approach, he was to hoist a light by way of beacon.
The British boats entered the Tagus in the order prescribed, and, ascending with the tide, got near enough, by the time it became slack water, to see the vessels in the harbour. Wishing to have a good tide to carry out his prize, Captain Shipley waited until he saw the vessels swing with the ebb. Unfortunately for the success of the enterprise, there was a fresh in the river, and the tide in consequence, when the ebb had fairly made, ran at the rate of seven knots an hour. Notwithstanding this unexpected difficulty, the boats got tolerably close to the enemy's vessel before they were discovered. Upon being hailed by the Garotta (the French captain saying in good English, "My good fellows, you had better keep off, you will all be killed if you come on board"), who lay within pistol-shot of the guns of Belem castle, and had for her additional protection a floating battery carrying long 24-pounders, the boats of the two divisions cast themselves off and severally made towards her.
The gig soon darted out of sight of the other boats, and at about 2 h. 30 m. A. M. on the 23d, boarded the French brig on the larboard bow. Captain Shipley, having sprung into the Garotta's fore-rigging, was in the act of cutting away the boarding-netting, when he received a musket-ball in his forehead and fell dead into the water. The next in command of the gig was Mr. Charles Shipley, the late captain's brother, but not attached to the Nymphe, nor even, we have heard,' belonging to the naval profession. His fraternal affection overcoming every other consideration, Mr. Shipley ordered the gig's crew to shove off from the enemy's vessel, and endeavour to pick up their captain. As she dropped from the brig's side, the gig fell foul of the oars of the large cutter, just as the latter was about to lay herself
* He is now the Reverend Charles Shipley.
alongside. The large cutter, thus impeded, drifted upon the launch; and all three boats then fell foul of a large calking stage moored astern of the brig, which the French crew instantly cut adrift.
Disengaging the cutter as quickly as possible, Lieutenant Haly again directed his course towards the Garotta; but such was now the rapidity of the tide, that the men, with all their efforts, could not stem it. Having had one seaman killed, and one midshipman (William Moriarty) and a corporal of marines wounded, and seeing no prospect of being supported by the starboard division of the boats under Captain Pigot, which, as well as the yawl belonging to the larboard division, had seemingly been unable to pull up against the tide, Lieutenant Haly abandoned the enterprise, and returned on board the Nymphe. At 4 A. M. the boats of each division reached their ship without any additional loss. The body of Captain Shipley was afterwards washed on shore, with his sword hanging to his hand, and afforded a clear proof that, had he fallen into the boat instead of into the water, he could not have survived his wound. Yet a contemporary represents this gallant young officer to have been "drowned." * Captain Pigot, fortunately for him, was appointed by Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, the commander-in-chief on the coast of Portugal, to be the late Captain Shipley's successor on board the Nymphe; and on the 17 th of the ensuing September, he was confirmed in his post-rank.
On the 23d of April, in the morning, the Grasshopper, still commanded by Captain Searle, and now accompanied by the 14-gun brig Rapid, Lieutenant HenryBaugh, cruising off Faro, on the south coast of Portugal, fell in with and chased two Spanish vessels, valuably laden from South America, under the protection of four gun-boats. In a short time the chased vessels all anchored among the shoals, and under the cover of a battery close in with Faro. The Grasshopper and Rapid immediately anchored within range of grape-shot; and, after a very severe action of two hours and a half, compelled the people on shore to desert their guns, two of the gun-boats to surrender, and the remaining two to run themselves on shore.
The two Spanish vessels, the cargo of each of which was valued at 30,000/. sterling, were immediately taken possession of. The service, thus gallantly performed, was not executed wholly without loss, the Grasshopper having one seaman killed, her captain slightly, and three seamen severely wounded, and the Rapid three seamen also wounded severely. Both brigs likewise suffered much in their hulls, masts, sails, and rigging. The loss of the enemy was very great in the two captured gun-boats, amounting to 40 in killed and wounded.
Captain Searle, in his official letter, speaks very highly of his
* Brenton, vol. v., p. 462.
first lieutenant, William Cutfield; also of his master, Henry Bell, and purser, Thomas Bastin; the first for having taken the brig into so dangerous a navigation, and the last for having, in the absence of the second lieutenant, commanded the after-guns. Mr. Bastin had, it appears, on a former occasion, been severely wounded, and is described as a very deserving officer.
On the 22d of April, at 6 A. M., as the British ship-sloop Goree, of 18 long sixes and eight 12-pounder carronades, with 120 men and boys, Captain Joseph Spear, was lying at an anchor in Grande-Bourg bay, island of Marie-Galante, the two French 16-gun brig - corvettes Palinure, Capitaine de fregate PierreFrancois Jance, and Pilade, Lieutenant de vaisseau Jean-Marie Cocherel, each mounting fourteen 24-pounder carronades and two sixes, with 110 men and boys, then on their way from Martinique to Guadaloupe, made their appearance in the southeast. Having ascertained that they were enemy's vessels, and hoisted a signal to that effect to the brig-sloop Superieure, of twelve 18-pounder carronades and two long twelves, Captain Andrew Hodge, at an anchor a few miles off in the north-west, the Gorge, at 9 A. m slipped and made sail in chase, with a moderate breeze at east-south-east.
Confident in their strength, the two brigs waited for the Gorge, and at 10 A. M. the action commenced within pistol-shot. At the end of an hour's cannonade, observing the approach of the Superieure, and of another vessel or two, the Palinure and Pilade bore up and made all sail; leaving the Gorge with her main yard, and fore and main topsail yards, shot away in the slings, all her masts and topmasts badly wounded, and the ship in other respects so disabled that she could not follow them. Owing, however, to the high filing of her two opponents, the Goree's loss amounted to only one man killed and four wounded. Each French brig had four men killed; the Pilade six, and the Palinure 15, including her captain, wounded: total, eight killed and 21 wounded. With no other sail to set than her foresail and driver, the Goree now hauled her wind for Marie-Galante, and in about half an hour regained the anchorage she had quitted.
By noon the Superieure, who had weighed at 10 h. 15 m. A. M., got within three miles of the two French brigs, then in the west-south-west, steering for the Saintes. At about half past noon a running fight commenced between the Pilade and Superieure, and continued until 3 h. 30 m. p. M., when the latter, being close to the forts at the Saintes, shortened sail and hauled to the wind on the larboard tack; having sustained no loss, and no greater damage than one carronade disabled, and the axle of one of her 12-pounders broken. At 6 p. M. the Palinure and Pilade anchored in the Saintes; and, in justice to those brigs, it must be stated, that, when the Superieure gave up the chase, the 12pounder 32-gun frigate Circe, Captain Hugh Pigot, and 18-gun