Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tion, we believe, of Captain Dacres, Captain lnglefield's predecessor in the command of the Bacchante.

On the 2d of May, at daybreak, the British 18-pounder 36gun frigate Unite, Captain Patrick Campbell, cruising off Cape Promontoro in the Gulf of Venice, came up with and captured the Italian brig-corvette Ronco, mounting 16 brass carronades, represented as "32-pounders," but, we suppose, French 36pounders, with a crew of 100 men. No loss was sustained on either side, although the brig fired several broadsides at the frigate, and cut her sails and rigging a good deal. Scarcely had the Ronco hauled down her colours, when an Italian frigate and schooner were observed in the north or windward quarter. The Unite immediately made sail in chase; but, owing to the lightness of the wind, the ship and schooner escaped into Pola before Captain Campbell could get within two gun-shots of either.

On the 31st, at about 5 P. me, having just weighed from under the island of Lusin, where she had been sheltering herself from a heavy north-east gale, the Unite discovered, close under Premuda, three brigs on the starboard tack with the wind at east. The frigate proceeded in chase, and presently made out the vessels to be three brigs of war. On observing the Unite, the three brigs, two of which were the Italian corvettes, Nettuno and Teulie, of the same force as the Ronco, and the third a smaller vessel than either, wore, and steered with the apparent intention of gaining the channel of Zara; out of which port, it seems, they had been despatched the day before, upon the very feasible enterprise of capturing the British frigate, on [a supposition that she was too weakly manned to make an effective resistance.

As the night was likely to be clear, and the wind was moderate, Captain Campbell, although the navigation was extremely intricate and unknown to any person on board, determined to follow the three brigs, trusting to the lead and a good look-out. In this way the Unite kept sight of the vessels, nntil 11 h. 30 m. p. M., when they disappeared. By carrying a press of sail, the Unite, at a few minutes past 3 A. M. on the-lst of June, regained a sight of two of the brigs, distant about two miles on her lee beam. The helm was immediately put up; but the sails were hardly trimmed when the third brig was observed on the starboard tack, upon the frigate's larboard and weather bow. The United immediately hauled to the wind, and, passing the brig within musket-shot to leeward, gave her the larboard broadside with such effect, that she hauled down her colours without firing a gun.

While the boats were proceeding to secure this brig, the Unite crowded sail after the remaining two, who were making off through one of the passages in the hope to get to sea. The wind falling, and the brigs making use of their sweeps,, it was not until 7 A. M. that the Unite got within gun-shot of the sternmost; who, after receiving a few of the frigate's broadsides, fired her broadside, struck her colours, and ran on shore. The wind continuing to decrease, and the remaining brig having got among a cluster of small islands, the Unite shortened sail to attend to the two that had struck. Of these, the Nettuno, out of a crew of 115 men and boys, had seven men killed, two drowned, and 13 wounded; and the Teulie, out of a similar crew to her consort's, five killed and 16 wounded. The frigate had not a man hurt. These two brigs, as well as the one captured four weeks before, were transferred to the British navy; the Ronco, of 334 tons, under the name of Tuscan, the Nettuno, of 344 tons, under that of Cretan, and the Teulie, 333 tons, under that of Roman.

On the 12th of May, at 9 h. 50 m. A. m the British 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Amphion, Captain William Hoste, being on her way from the British fleet off Toulon to the island of Majorca, discovered a frigate lying at anchor in the bay of Rosas, and immediately tacked and stood towards her. This was the Baleine, a French frigate-built ship of about 800 tons, constructed purposely as an armed storeship, and mounting from 26 to 30 guns, with a crew of about 150 men. There were four or five of these ships attached to the Toulon fleet. The Baleine was last from Majorca, and had, we believe, accompanied Vice-admiral Ganteaume in his voyage to and from the Adriatic.

At 10 h. 10 m. A. M. the Baleine hoisted French colours, and at 10 h. 30 m., having a spring on her cable, commenced firing at the Amphion; as did also a battery of 16 long 24-pounders to the left of the town of Rosas, a battery of several heavy guns named Fort Bouton, and a low battery of eight 24-pounders at the starboard entrance of the bay. This fire the Amphion returned on different tacks, while working up. At 11 A. M., finding the fire of the British frigate, as she closed, getting too warm, the Baleine slipped her cables, and, with her fore and mizen topsails, staysails, and jib set, ran on shore, close under the protection of Fort Bouton and the battery on the right.

At 11 h. 30 m. A. M. the Amphion shortened sail, and anchored with two springs in seven fathoms, and in-shore of the spot on which the Baleine had been riding. Having veered to a whole cable, the Amphion commenced a smart fire, within point-blank shot, upon the ship, fort, and batteries. This fire they all returned, and presently cut away the Amphion's jibstay. At about 30 minutes past noon the latter's starboard quarter hammocks and main topmast staysail caught fire by the enemy's hot shot; arid at 1 p. M. a small explosion took place in the marine arm-chest, but fortunately injured no one. At lh. 30 m. the Baleine herself caught fire abaft, and a part of her men began leaping overboard and swimming to the rocks. Believing that the crew were abandoning her, Captain Hoste despatched Mr. William Bennett, the first lieutenant, in the jollyboat, to strike i

the ship's colours; but, no sooner had the lieutenant arrived near the frigate's stern, than the French crew opened upon the boat a heavy fire of round, grape, and musketry. The Amphion instantly threw out the signal of recall, and the jollyboat put back. Regardless of the shower of shot pouring around him, Lieutenant Bennett stood up in the stern-sheets; and he and his few hands gave the French three hearty cheers. At 2 h. 20 m. p. in., finding that nothing further could be done, and the wind beginning to fall, whereby she might have a difficulty in getting beyond the reach of the batteries, the Amphion cut her cables and springs and made sail out of the bay.

In this spirited little affair, the Amphion received no material damage, and had only one man killed and a fewwounded. The loss on board, or the eventual fate, of the French ship, we have no means of showing. Her loss must, however, have been serious, to induce her to take the step she did; and that the Baleine had run herself on shore with some effect is clear, because, at 5 v. mt she struck yards and topmasts, and on the third day after the action lay fast aground. It is a little singular that the Amphion had been sent by Lord Collingwood to endeavour to capture this very ship at her anchorage at Majorca; but, under an idea that she was a French frigate of the largest class, Captain Hoste had been directed to take under his orders the 28-gun frigate Hind, Captain Francis William Fane, supposed to be cruising off the Spanish coast.

On the 23d of June, while the British 22-gun ship Porcupine, Captain the Honourable Henry Duncan, was cruising off CivitaVecchia, a vessel under French colours came out of the port, and endeavoured, by crossing the Porcupine, to get to the westward; but, failing in the attempt, and finding no means of escape left, the vessel ran herself on shore under two towers mounting two guns each. Captain Duncan immediately detached the boats of the Porcupine under Lieutenant George Price, who effectually destroyed the vessel, without sustaining any loss, although under a very heavy fire.

On the 9th of July, at daybreak, as the Porcupine lay becalmed off Monte-Circello on the coast of Romania, two French gun-boats, with a merchant vessel under convoy, were observed going alongshore to the westward. The boats of the Porcupine, under the orders of Lieutenant Price, assisted by second Lieutenant Francis Smith, Lieutenant of marines James Renwick, midshipmen Barry John Featherstone, Charles Adam, and John O'Brien Butler, and captain's clerk George Anderson, were immediately despatched in pursuit of the gun-vessels.

After a pull of eight hours in a hot sun, Lieutenant Price and his party drove the merchant vessel on shore, and compelled the two gun-boats, each of which was armed with one long 24-pounder and 30 men, to take shelter under the batteries of Port-Dango. At this moment, three suspicious vessels being seen coming down from the westward before a fresh breeze, the Porcupine recalled her boats, in order to go in chase; but the former, before they could be cut off, succeeded in getting into the harbour along with the gun-boats.

On the morning of the 10th, observing that a large polacreship, one of the three vessels which had last entered, lay further out than the others, Captain Duncan resolved to attempt cutting her out. Accordingly, as soon as it was dark, the Porcupine's boats, commanded as before, pulled towards the harbour; and although the polacre mounted six long 6-pounders, with a crew of between 20 and 30 men, and, expecting to be attacked, had moored herself to a beach lined with French soldiers, and lay within pistol-shot of two batteries and a tower, and three gun-boats, Lieutenant Price and his men boarded and carried her. The next difficulty was to bring the vessel out. Here, although in consequence of baffling winds it was an hour and 20 minutes before the prize got beyond the range of grape, the British also succeeded. In this very gallant exploit, the Porcupine had none of her men killed; but she had eight wounded, including (severely on the head and right leg) Lieutenant Price, also Mr. Butler, midshipman. For his good behaviour in this, and in several similar attacks by the Porcupine's boats, Lieutenant Price was promoted to the rank of commander.

On the 21st the Porcupine drove on shore near Monte-Circello a French polacre ship, which was afterwards completely destroyed by the boats under the command of Lieutenant Francis Smith; and that without any loss, although the boats were under the fire of a tower, mounting two guns, within pistolshot of the grounded vessel.

On the 8th of August the Porcupine chased another polacre ship into a harbour of the island of Planosa, near Elba, which was defended by a tower and a battery. In the evening Captain Duncan sent the Porcupine's two cutters and jollyboat, under the orders of Lieutenant Francis Smith, accompanied by Lieutenant of marines James Renwick, master's mates Henry Parry and Edward Barry, midshipman George Dawkins Lane, and captain's clerk George Anderson, to endeavour to bring out or destroy the vessel. The boats went into the harbour with muffled oars, and boarded the vessel without loss or difficulty.

The ship was now found to be moored within 30 yards of a battery mounting six or eight guns, which immediately opened upon the boats a heavy fire of round and grape. To this was soon added the musketry of several French soldiers drawn up on the beach, and a fire from one of the polacre's guns which had been landed for her defence. In the face of all this, the British brought out the vessel, which proved to be the Concepcion, mounting four guns, from Genoa bound to the island of Cyprus with bale goods.

This gallant exploit was not accomplished without loss: one seaman was killed, another seaman and the lieutenant of marines mortally wounded, the latter with three musket-balls, and seven men wounded, some of them also mortally. If we have not to add that, for this act of gallantry, as well as for his general zeal and ability in the service, Lieutenant Smith received the customary promotion, it is, we have reason to think, because Captain Duncan's letter on the subjct to Vice-admiral Lord Collingwood miscarried, and the duplicate, sent some time afterwards, did not reach his lordship at all, in consequence of his death.

On the 26th of June, at daylight, the British 64-gun ship Standard, Captain Thomas Harvey, cruising off the island of Corfu, discovered and chased an Italian gun-vessel and a French despatch-boat. At 9 A. M., the wind failing, Captain Harvey sent the pinnace, with Lieutenant Richard Cull, and the eight-oared cutter, with Captain Edward Nicolls, of the marines, in chase. After rowing two hours, in very hot weather, the British approached the gun-vessel, and received from her a fire of musketry; which the boats returned with their swivels, and on drawing near, with their musketry. As the two boats were advancing on each quarter the gun-vessel pulled short round and fired her long 4-pounder at the cutter, which happened to be the leading boat. Heedless of this, Captain Nicolls, dashed at, boarded, and carried, the Italian gun-boat Volpe, commanded by Enseigne de vaisseau Micheli Mangin, and mounting one long 4-pounder, with 20 men, well armed.

The pinnace immediately pushed on in chase of the despatchboat, which was the Leger, having a well-armed crew of 14 men. The Standard's yawl, which had been previously sent to cut off this vessel, soon obliged her to run on shore. The French crew, on landing, formed on the rocks, and endeavoured to prevent the yawl's approach, but Lieutenant John Alexander succeeded in getting possession of the vessel, and, assisted by the two other boats, towed her off, under a smart fire of musketry from the shore. This little affair was effected without the slightest casualty on the part of the British, and without any known loss on that of the enemy.

When the news reached England of the failure of Sir John Duckworth's expedition to the Dardanells, the new ministry sent out an embassy under Sir Arthur Paget, to endeavour to restore peace, in concert with a Russian plenipotentiary, the celebrated Corsican chief, Pozzi de Borgo. To give weight to the negotiation, Vice-admiral Lord Collingwood, with a strong squadron, attended the ambassadors as far as the island of Tenedos; where his lordship anchored, in company with the Russian fleet under Vice-admiral Seniavin. Learning, while here, that the Turkish fleet' was outside the Dardanells, Lord Collingwood weighed and stood across to the island of Imbros, as a better station, with the prevailing winds, for getting at his enemy; but, since the moment he had heard of the British

« AnteriorContinuar »