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men in number, and who opened a smart fire upon the boats as they approached.
Seeing this, the Cerberus and the vessels with her anchored with springs on their cables, and commenced a cannonade upon the shore. The islanders soon ceased their fire; and, by 4h. 30 m. p. M., the British were in quiet possession of Desiradc The neutrality of the island being all that was required on the part of Sir Alexander Cochrane, Captain Selby did not retain possession: he merely destroyed the batteries (mounting but seven guns altogether), and, to prevent a garrison arriving from Guadaloupe, stationed a sloop and gun-brig off the coast.
On the 3d of July, while the British 18-gun ship-sloop Wanderer, Captain Edward Crofton, and 4-gun schooners Subtle and Ballahou, Lieutenants George Augustus Spearing and George Mills, were cruising between the islands of Anguille and St.-Martin, some intelligence was received which induced Captain Crofton to expect that he should succeed in an attack upon the French part of the last-named island. For this purpose, soon after midnight, the boats of the ship and two schooners, containing 135 men placed under the orders of Lieutenant Spearing, pulled towards the shore.
With a trifling loss, the British landed and obtained possession of, and spiked, the six guns mounted upon the lower fort. On ascending the rocky heights, covered with the prickly pear, to storm the upper battery, a number of brave fellows fell, and among them Lieutenant Spearing himself, who was shot through the chest within ten yards of the ramparts of the fort he was rushing forward to assault. The remainder of the party now reluctantly retreated to the boats; but, unable to resist the overwhelming force that assailed them, the survivors were obliged to surrender.
The Wanderer, who with the two schooners had been firing at the batteries, to cover the party on shore, now ceased her fire, and hoisted a flag of truce. By a communication with the French commandant it was soon ascertained, that the regular force on the island amounted to 900 men, and that the detachment from the little squadron had lost seven officers and men killed, and nearly 30 wounded. The French commandant behaved in a very honourable manner; not only giving to the remains of the gallant young English officer a funeral with military honours, but himself attending his late enemy to the grave, and permitting a part of the Subtle's crew to pay their last duty to their late commander. The three British vessels, in the mean while, as with their colours at half-mast they lay at anchor in Marigot bay, united with the French batteries in firing minute guns.
BRITISH AND FRENCH FLEETS.
The abstract which now comes under notice is so far remarkable, that several of its principal totals have arrived at their maximum of height.* The number of [cruising line-of-battle ships in commission remains the same as in the preceding abstract; but an increase of one in the "ordinary" column makes 127 as the sea-service total. The increase of five in the line grand-total is of far less consequence.
The number of cruisers, line and under-line, in commission, appears to have been 684; and the numbers that approach the nearest to it are to be found in the abstracts on each side, No. 16 showing 618, and No. 18, 664. The total of seaservice cruisers belonging to the British navy, at the commencement of the year 1809, stands at 728; and the two next highest numbers appear also in abstracts Nos. 16 and 18, one being 673, the other 699. As the difference between the grand and the minor totals at the foot of the columns is made up entirely of vessels that are unseaworthy, or deemed to be so, it will be unnecessary to dwell upon the excess of the grand-total of cruisers in this abstract, over the corresponding total in any other.
The general grand-total, of which the cruising and only effective total forms, in the present abstract, scarcely two thirds, and in some of the others much less, might also be passed over without notice, were it not, in addition to being the highest in amount that occurs throughout the series, the only total usually referred to as indicative of the strength of the British navy. The total that Steel gives, in his February list for the present year, is 1140, including 59 hired vessels. These deducted leave 1081, 20 more than the abstract total; a difference discoverable, almost wholly, among the building ships, those in the abstract being 82,
* See Appendix, Annual Abstract No. 17.
while Steel enumerates 100. Among the latter he includes 50 instead of 47 line-of-battle ships. The three surplus ships were the Akbar, Julius, and Orford; the [first, ordered but countermanded; the two others, not ordered at all. As a further proof of his imperfect information, Steel names 14 only out of his remaining 50 under-line building ships. Nor does the list, as usual, notify the yards or places at which the unnamed vessels are constructing. The abstract for the present year shows the launching of the Caledonia, a ship of very large dimensions, and as a first-rate, of extraordinary qualifications. Some interesting particulars respecting her will be found in the Notes to the Abstracts at the end of the volume.
The 20 captured enemy's national vessels purchased into the service will be found among those in the foreign prize-lists of the year 1808 ;* as will the 34 vessels lost by the British navy during the same period, in the list appropriated to them.-)- The number of the latter still continues to be of serious amount; of which the wrecked cases, with all their attendant calamities, constitute full two thirds.
The number of commissioned officers and masters belonging to the British navy at the commencement of the year 1809, was
Vice-admirals ..... 59
,, superannuated 45
}> » 32
Commanders or sloop-captains . 543
„ superannuated 49
Lieutenants ..... 3036
And the number of seamen and marines voted for the service of the same year, was 130,000.J
We last year left in the road of Brest, waiting an opportunity to put to sea, a squadron of eight sail of the line and some frigates. The continued prevalence of westerly gales, during the latter part of January and the commencement of February, having driven Admiral Lord Gambier from his station offUshant, afforded that opportunity; and accordingly, on the 21st of February, at daylight, Rear-admiral Willaumez weighed and put to sea with the following squadron:
120 Ocean i Rear-ad. Jean-Bapt.-Philibert Willaumez.
* ' 'I Captain Pierre-Nicolas Rolland.
) C Captain Antoine Henri.
80 l Varsovie .... „ Jacques Bergeret.
• See Appendix, Nos. 6 and 7. f See Appendix, No. 8.
% See Appendix, No. 9.
r Tourville . . . Captain Charles-Nicolas Lacaille.
I Jean-Bart ... „ Charles Lebozec.
Tonnerre ... „ Nicolas Clement de la Ronciere.
Aquilon ... „ Jacques-Remy Maingon.
.Regulus .... n Jean-Jacques-Etienne Lucas.
'Indienne.... „ Guillaume-Marcellin Proteau.
Elbe it Jacques-Francois Bellenger.
Brig-corvette Nisus; schooner (late British) Magpie.
At 9 A. M. the rearmost ship doubled the Vendree rock, and the French squadron, in line of battle, stood for the Raz, with a fresh breeze at north-north-east. Just as the headmost ships had cleared the Raz passage, they were descried by the British 74-gun ship Revenge, Captain the Honourable Charles Paget. The latter immediately steered for the Glenans to give information to Captain John Poer Beresford; who, with the Theseus 74, and the Triumph and Valiant, of the same force, Captains Masterman Hardy and Alexander Robert Kerr, was blockading three sail of the line and three frigates in the road of Lorient. At 30 minutes past noon the Revenge lost sight of the French ships, but at 3 h. 15 m. p. M. again discovered them, and a minute or two afterwards exchanged numbers with the Theseus, in the south-west, off Isle Groix.
The instructions to M. Willaumez were to chase from off the port of Lorient the British blockading squadron, stated to be of four sail of the line besides frigates, in order that Commodore Troude, with his three sail of the line and five frigates, might join the former. If, however, the tide should happen not to suit at the moment that he appeared off the port, the rear-admiral was to proceed straight to Basque roads, and dispossess of that anchorage a British squadron, stated also to consist of four sail of the line. M. Willaumez was then to anchor in the road of Isle d'Aix, and there wait for further orders. So far the Moniteur. But those orders had already issued. Adding to his 11 sail of the line the Rochefort squadron of three, and the Calcutta armed en flute and frigates, M. Willaumez was to make the best of his way to Martinique; and, with his fleet and the troops that were on board of it, he was to save that island from falling into the hands of the British, who, by the last accounts, were on the eve of attacking it.
It was at about 4 h. 30 m. p. M. that the squadrons of Rearadmiral Willaumez and Commodore Beresford fully discovered each other. The latter was then steering about east-south-east, with a fresh breeze at north-north-east, and the former was nearly close hauled on the same tack. Rear-admiral Gourdon's division, consisting of four sail of the line, immediately bore up in chase, and the remaining division soon afterwards did the same. Whereupon the British squadron tacked, and steered west-northwest, formed in line of battle, the Theseus leading, followed by the Revenge, Triumph, and Valiant. A short continuance of the British squadron upon this course leaving open the port of Lorient, the French ships, by the time they had approached within four or five miles of the enemy, again hauled their wind. At 6 P. M., neither squadron then in sight of the other, the British ships tacked and shortened sail; and at about the same time the French squadron, which had been partly delayed by the falling of the breeze, arrived off Isle Groix.
A calm during the night kept both squadrons stationary; but at daylight on the 23d a fresh breeze from the north-west enabled M. Willaumez, after sending in the Magpie schooner to apprize Commodore Troude of his arrival off the port, to steer for the Pertuis d'Antioche. At about 9 A. M. the two squadrons regained a view of each other, and continued in sight until late in the afternoon. The French ships then, passing inside of Belle-Isle, steered for Isle d'Yeu, with the wind back to northeast; and at 10 h. 30 m. p. M., just as they had arrived abreast of the Tour de Baleine, were discovered by the 36-gun frigate Amethyst, Captain Michael Seymour, the look-out ship of Rear-admiral Stopford's squadron, at anchor to the north-west of the Chasseron lighthouse, consisting of the 80-gun ship Caesar, Captain Charles Richardson, and 74-gun ships Defiance, Captain Henry Hotham, and Donegal, Captain Peter Heywood, acting for Captain Pulteney Malcolm, who was in England attending a court-martial. A flight of rockets soon conveyed the information to the rear-admiral, and the British squadron got under way and stood to the north-west, the direction in which the Amethyst lay. At about midnight the British rear-admiral gained a sight of M. Willaumez's squadron to the eastward, standing into the Pertuis d'Antioche. The former went in chase, and at daylight on the 24th saw the French in the act of entering Basque roads. Rear-admiral Stopford, rightly considering that the squadron had escaped from Brest, despatched by signal the 38-gun frigate Naiad, Captain Thomas Dundas, to acquaint Lord Gambier with the circumstance. At 7 A. M. the Naiad, having run a few miles to the north-west, made the signal of three suspicious sail coming down from the northward; whereupon, leaving the Amethyst, in company with the 36-gun frigate Emerald, Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland, to watch the squadron of M. Willaumez, Rearadmiral Stopford wore and made sail in the direction pointed
Shortly after Rear-admiral Willaumez had sailed from Isle Groix, the three French 40-gun frigates Italienne, Commodore Pierre-Roch Jurien, and Calypso and Cybele, Captains LouisLeon Jacob and Raymond Cocault, sailed from Lorient, with the wind at about east-north-east. Finding, on clearing the road, that Commodore Troude, owing to the state of the tide, had not a sufficient depth of water to enable him to get under way, Captain