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cated their ship from withinside of an enemy's port, filled with armed vessels, and flanked by land-batteries of the most formidable description.
The following is a description of a gallant action between the Blanche, British frigate, 12-pounder 32-gun frigate, Captain. Faulkpor, and the French 36-gun frigate Pique, Captain Conseil. Captain Faulknor was on a cruise off Pointe-à-Pitre, a harbour in GrandeTerre, Guadaloupe, in which lay the Pique ready for sea. (January 1795.)
Thus left alone, the Blanche, at about 6 r. n. steered straight for Pointe-à-Pitre, and, on arriving within four miles of the port, lay to for the night. On the next day, the 4th, at daybreak, the Blanche discovered the Pique lying at anchor just outside of the harbour. At 7 A. M. the French frigate got under weigh, and began working into the ofling under her topsails, backing her mizen topsail occasionally, to keep company with a schooner which had weighed with her. At about 8h. 30m. the Blanche made sail to meet the French ship and schooner, until nearly within gun-shot of fort Fleurd'Epee; when, finding the Pique apparently disinclined to come out from the batteries, the Blanche, who had hove to, made sail to board a schooner running down along Grande-terre. At this time Pointe-à-Pitre bore from the Blanche north-west, distant two leagues, and the French frigate north-north-west, distant three miles.
At half-past noon the lique filled and made sail towards the Blanche. At 1 P. M the latter brought to an American schooner from Bordeaux to Pointe-à-Pitre with wine and brandy, and, taking her in tow, steered towards the Saintes. At 2 P. M. the Pique crossed the Blanche on the opposite tack, and, hoisting French colours, fired four shots at her. This challenge, as it might be corsidered, the British frigate answered, by fring a shot to windward. The battery at Gosier also fired two shots ; but they, like those of the frigate, fell short. At 2 h. 30 m. P. M., finding that the Pique had tacked and was standing towards her, the Blanche shortened sail for the French frigate to come up; but at 3 h. 30 m. P. M. the latter tacked and stood away.
In the hope to induce the Pique to follow her, the Blanche, under topsails and courses, stood towards Marie-Galante. At 7 r. M., observing the Pique still under Grandeterre, Captain Faulknor took out the American crew from the schooner, and sent on board a petty-officer and party of men. The Blanche then wore, and stood towards the island of Dominique, with the schooner in tow. At about 8 P. M. the French frigate was descried astern, about two leagues distant, standing after the Blanche. The latter immediately cast off the schooner, and, tacking, made all sail in clase.
At about a quarter past midnight the Blanche, on the starboard tack, passed under the lee of the Pique on the larboard tack, and returned the distant broadside which the Pique bad fired at her. At half-past midnight, having got nearly in the wake of her opponent, the Blanche tacked ; and, at a few minutes before 1 ai m. on the 5th, just as she had arrived within musket shot upon the starboard quarter of the Pique, the latter wore, with the intention of crossing her opponent's hawse and raking her ahead. To frustrate this manauvre, the Blanche wore also ; and the two frågates became closely engaged, Croa side to broadside.
At about 2 h. 30 m. A. M. the Blanche, having shot alcad, was in the act of luffing up to port to rake the Pique ahead, when the former's wounded mizen and main masts, in succession, fell over the side. Almost immediately after this, the Pique ran foul of the Blanche on her larboard quarter, and made sereral attempts to board. These attempts the British crew successfully resisted ; and the larboard quarter-deck guns, and such of the maindeck ones as would bear, were fired with destructive effect into the Pique's starboard bow ; she returning the fire from her tops, as well as from some of lier quarterdeck guns run in amidships fore and aft. At a few minutes before 3 A.M., while assisting his second lieutenant, Mr David Milne, and one or two others of his crew, in laslıing, with such ropes as were handy, the bowsprit of the Pique to the capstan of the Blanche, preparatory to a more secure fastening by means of a bawser, which was getting up from below, the young and gallant Captain Faulknor fell by a musket-ball through his heart.
At this moment, or very soon afterwards, the lashings broke loose ; and the Pique, crossing the stern of the Blanche, who had now begun to pay off for the want of after. sail, fell on board the latter, a second time, upon the starboard quarter. In au instant the British crew, with the bawser which had just before been got on deck, lashed the bowsprit of the Pique to the stump of their own mainmast. In this manner the Blanche, commanded now by Lieutenant Frederick Watkins, towed before the wind her resolute
opponent; whose repeated attempts to cut away this second lashing were defeated by the quick and well-directed fire of the British marines. In the mean while, the constant stream of musketry poured upon the quarterdeck of the Blanche, from the forecastle and tops of the Pique, and a well-directed fire from the latter's quarterdeck guus pointed forward, gave great annoyance to the former ; particularly, as having, like many other ships in the British pavy at this period, no stern-ports ou the main deck; the cannonade on the part of the Blanche was confined to two quarterdeck 6-pounders. The carpenters having in vain tried to cut down the upper transom beam, no alternative remained but to blow away a part of it on each side. As soon therefore as the firemen with their buckets were assembled in the cabin, the two after guns were pointed against the stern frame. Their discharge made a clear breach on both sides, and the activity of the bucket-men quickly extinguished the fire it liad occasioned in the wood-work. The two 12-pounders of the Blanche, thus brought into use, soon played havoc upun the Pique's decks.
At about 3 h. 15 m. A. m. the mainmast of the French frigate (lier fore and mizen masts having previously come down) fell over the side. In this utterly defenceless state, without a gun wlich, on account of the wreck of her masts, she could now bring to bear, the Pique sustained the raking fire of the Blanche until 5 h. 15 m. A. m.; when some of the French crew, from the bowsprit-end, called aloud for quarter. The Blanche immediately ceased her fire; and, every boat in both vessels having been destroyed by shot, Lieutenant Milne, followed by ten seamen, endeavoured to reach the prize by means of the lawser that still held her; but, their weight bringing the bight of the rope down in the water, they had to swim a part of the distance.
The Blanche, besides her 32 long 12 and 6-pounders, mounted six 18-pounder carrorades, total 33 guns; and, having sent away in prizes two master's mates and 12 seamen, she had on board no more than 198 men and boys. Of these, the Blanche lost her commander, one midshipman, (William Bolton,) five seamen, and one privato marine killed ; one midshipman, (Charles Herbert,) two quarter masters, the arınourer, one sergeant of marines, 12 seamen, and four private marines wounded; total, eight billed and 21 wounded.
The Pique was armed with two carriage-guns, 6-pounders, less than lier establishment, or 38 in all ; but she mounted, along her gunwale on each side, several brass swivels. Respecting the number composing the crew of the Pique, the accounts are very contradictory. Lieutenant Watkins, in liis official letter, states the number at 360 ; and Vice-Admiral Caldwell, at Martinique, when enclosing that letter to the admiralty, says, “ many more than 360.” On the other hand, the three French officers, examined before the surrogate of the colonial vice. admiralty court, subsequently deposed, iwo of them to “ between 260 and 270 men, " and the third to “ about 270 men,” as the total number on board their ship when the action commenced. Upon these certificates, head-money was paid for 265 men; but, according to the documents transmitted along with those certificates, the actual number of men on board was 279.
Among the documents is a letier, with Admiral Caldwell's signature, stating, that
19 Broadside guns....
906 A difference there is, but scarcely sufficient, except perhaps in point of crew, to entitle the action to be considered otherwise than as an equal match. The French officers and crew fought the Pique in a most gallant manner; surrendering only when their ship was a defenceless hulk, and themselves reduced to a third of their original number.
Nor must we omit to do a further act of justice to Captain Conseil, or to his memory rather, for although not stated, he was, we believe, among the mortally wounded in the action; and express it as our conviction, that he evinced a laudable caution in not
19 228 198 710
going out to meet the Blanche, until he was certain that the frigate, so recently seen in her company, had retired to a safe distance. On the part of the British officers and crew, consummate intrepidity was displayed, from the beginning to the end of this long and sanguinary battle. Indeed, a spirit of chivalry seems to have animated both parties; and the action of the Blanche and Pique may be pointed to with credit by either.
We are quite at a loss to understand what Mr James means, by stating the difference between the vessels to be so slight, as to entitle the contest to be considered as an equal match. Is nearly one-fourth in weight of metal, more than one-third in crew, and much more than one-third in tonnage-is all this to be considered as nothing? This is carrying impartiality so far, as indeed to carry it over to the other side. His zeal, an honest and a liberal one we allow, does sometimes lead Mr. James into stretching a point.
The next extract contains an example of extraordinary daring, where little but hard blows were to be got by the enterprise-a chasse mareé worth perhaps fifty pounds. (September 1803.)
On the 9th of September, at daylight, the British hired cutter Sheerness, of eight 4-pounders and 30 men and boys, commanded by lieutenant Henry Rowed, having the look-out on the French fleet in Brest harbour, observed close in-shore, two chassemarées stealing towards the port. Sending a boat, with seven men and the mate, to cut off one, the Sheerness herself proceeded in chase of the other, then nearly five miles (listant, and close under a battery about nine miles eastward of Bec du Raz. At 10 a. M. it fell calm, and the only mode of pursuing the enemy was by a small boat suspended at the stern of the Sheerness, and which with difficulty would contain five med. Lieutenant Rowed acquainted the crew with his determination to proceed in this boat, and called for four volunteers to accompany him. Immediately John Marks the boatswain, and three others, came forward ; and the boat with her tive hands put off from the cutter, in chase of the chasse-marée, then about four miles off, and, by. the aid of her sweeps, nearing the shore very fast.
After the boat had pulled for two hours, the chasse-marée was seen to run on shore under the above-mentioned battery, which stood within a stone's throw of the beach. Notwithstanding this, and tbat there were 30 French soldiers drawn up on the beach to protect the vessel, lieutenant Rowed continued his pursuit ; and, as he and his four followers laid the French chasse-marée on board on one side, her crew deserted her from the other. It was then that the soldiers opened a heavy fire of musketry upon the British, who had just commenced cutting the cable, and were using other means to get the vessel afloat. In order that the French soldiers might not see how to point their pieces, the British seamen, although there was not a breath of wind, hoisted the foresail; but of which the halliards, almost at the same moment, were shot away, Fortunately for the enterprising crew now on board the chasse-maree, the tide was flowing and aided their exertions: the vessel got off, and the boat commenced towing ber from the shore. Fortunately, also, not a man of the five was hurt, although, as afterwards counted, 49 musket balls, intended for them, had lodged in the side and two masts of the chasse-marée.
Scarcely bad the prize been towed a third of a mile, when a French boat, containing an officer and nine men, armed with muskels, and who had pulled up in the wake of the vessel unobserved by the boat ahead of her, suddenly made her appearance alovg. side. In an instant, and without waiting for any orders, John Marks, the boatswain, dropping his oar, and neglecting to take any kind of weapon in his hand, leaped from the boat on board the chasse marée; and, running to the side close off which the French boat lay, stood, in a menacing attitude, unarmed as he was, for at least half a minute, until his four companions, with a supply of muskets and ammunition, and who could only quit their ticklishi boat one at a time, got to his assistance. If not astonishment at i he sight, it must have been a generous impulse, that prevented the Frenchmen from shooting or sabring the brave boatswain ; for they were, it seems, near enough to the vessel's side, to have done even the latter. Seeing that lieutenant Rowed and his four men were determined to defend their prize, the French boat, after a feeble attempt to get possession, sheered off, the soldiers in her keeping up, for a short time as they receded from the vessel, an ineffectual fire of musketry. The battery also opened a fire upon the chasse-marée as she was towing off; but it proved equally harmless with that from the soldiers, both on the beach and in the boat.
The capture of two unarmed chasse-marées (for the mate had taken his prize without any difficulty) would, indeed, be a trifling occurrence, were it not for the circumstances under wbich one of them had been boarded and brought off'; circumstances that ennoble the act, and rank it above many which are blazoned in the Gazette, and yield to the parties both honour and promotion. The navy-list shows, that lieutenant Rowed gained no step in his profession : indeed it was not, as the same document proves, until nearly ten years afterwards, that he was made a commander. As to the boatswain, he, it appears, on account of the very station he filled, and, by every account, so well filled, was, according to the etiquette of the service, excluded from the reward of promotion. It was only, therefore, from the Patriotic Fund at Lloyds, that he could receive some testimony of the high opinion entertained of his services. Lieutenant Rowed himself made the application, founding it on the inability of the admiralty, without violating precedent, to provide for the "
and who,” adds his commander, and where was there a better judge ? "exclusive of his bravery, is a very good character.” The committee, it is believed, presented Mr. Marks with a handsome sum of money. Acts like this of lieutenant Rowed and bis four men (the dames of all of whom we would record, did we know them) deserve to be made public, if only for the example they bold out, pot of adequate reward certainly, but of the impunity which often accompanies the most hazardous attacks. Let bim, therefore, who is disposed to calculate the chances of personal risk that may attend the enterprise in which he is called upon to embark, reflect upon the 49 musket balls which were aimed at, and yet missed, lieutenant Rowed and the four gallant fellows who were on board of this captured French chasse-marée.
The following account of the cutting out a vessel by a gallant Lieutenant of Marines, is remarkable for something more than mere bravery. The stratagem of continuing the fire after the surrender of the Frenchman is very meritorious, and reminds one of Lord Cochrane. The neglect of this Officer is scandalous. (November, 1803.)
With more judgment, a night attack was determined upon, and lieutenant Edward Nicolls, of the marines, volunteered, with one boat, to attempt cutting out the vessel. His offer was accepted ; and on the evening of the 4th the red cutter, with 13 men, including himself, pushed off from the frigate. A doubt respecting the sufficiency of the force, or some other cause, induced captain Mudge to order the barge, with 22 men, under the orders of lieutenant the honourable Warwick Lake, first of the Blanche, to follow the red cutter and supersede lieutenant Nicolls in the command. The second boat joined the first, and, as soon as the two arrived abreast of the French cutter, lieutenant Nicolls hailed lieutenant Lake, and pointed her out to lim ; but the latter professed to disbelieve that the vessel in sight was the Albion : he considered that she lay on the opposite, or north-east side of the bay, and with the barge proceeded in that direction ; leaving the red cutter to watch the motions of the vessel, which lieutenant Nicolls still maintained was the Albion, the object of their joint search.
It was now 2 h. 30 m. A. M. on the 5th, and the land wind was blowing fresh out of the bay. An hour or two more, and the day would begin to dawn, and the breeze to slacken, perhaps wholly to subside. The men in the boat were few, but their hearts were stout. In short, the red cutter commenced pulling, cautiously and silently, towards the French vessel; the crew of which, expecting a second attack, had made preparations to meet it. As soon as the boat arrived within pistol shot, the cutter hailed. Replying to the hail with three hearty cheers, the boat rapidly advanced, receiving in quick succession two volleys of musketry. The first passed over the heads of the British ; but the second severely wounded the coxswain, the man at the bow oar, and a marine. Before the French cutter could fire a third time, lieutenant Nicolls, at the head of his little party, sprang on board of her. The French captain was at his post, and discharged his pistol at lieutenant Nicolls just as the Jaiter was within a yard of him. The ball passed round the rim of the lieutenanant's belly, and, escaping through his side, lodged in the fleshy part of his right arm. Almost at the same moment a ball, either from the pistol of lieutenant Nicolls, or from the musket of a marine standing near him, killed the French captain. After this the resistance was trifling ; and the surviving officers and men of the French cutter were presently driven below and subdued, with the loss, besides their captain, of five men wounded, one of them mortally.
As yet, not a shot had been fired from the battery, although it was distant scarcely 100 yards from the cutter. Judging that the best way to keep the battery quiet would be to maintain the appearance of the Albion's being still in French possession, and able to repulse her assailants, lieutenant Nicolls ordered the marines of his party to continue firing their muskets: the seamen, meanwhile, busied themselves in getting the vessel under sail. A spring having been run out from the cutter's quarter to her cable, and the jib cleared, the cable was cut, and the jib hoisted to cast her. At this moment the barge came alongside, and lieutenant Lake took command of the prize. Scarcely had be done so, and the musketry by his orders been discontinued, when the battery opened a fire of round and grape, which killed two of the Blanche's people, However the breeze being fair, and blowing moderately strong, the captured cutter, with two boats towing her, soon ran out of gun shot, and without incurring any further loss, joined the frigate in the offing.
Cutting out an armed vessel is usually a desperate service, and the prize seldom repays the loss which is sustained in capturing her. The spirit engendered by such acts is, however, of the noblest, and, in a national point of view, of the most useful kind : its emulative influence spreads from man to man, and from ship to ship, until the ardour for engaging in services of danger, services, the repeated success of which has stamped a lasting character upon the British navy, requires more frequently to be checked ihan to be incited. An attack by boats upon an armed sailiny vessel, as respects the first foot-hold upon her deck especially, may be likened to the “ forlorn hope” of a besieging army; great is the peril, and great ought to be the reward. So the reward usually is, if the affair be represented in its true colours to the proper autho. rity. The same officer, who when about to transmit to his government the account of an engagement between his slip and another, fears saying too much, lest he should be chargeable with egotism, when, in the routine of his duty, he has to write about an act performed exclusively by his subordinates, enters minutely into the merits of the case, points out those who distinguished themselves, and separates, as well as lie is able, the actual combatants from such as, by accident or otherwise, did not partake of the danger; well knowing that, without this act of justice on his part, promotion, honours, and other rewards, may light upon the undeserving, while he who fought and bled, he who, perhaps, both planned and achiered the enterprise, finds himself passed over and neglected.
The captain of the Blanche had a fine opportunity, without detracting from the bravery of one party, to state the good fortune (call it nothing else) of the other. Here follows his letter to the Admiralty : “ Having gained intelligence that there was a large coppered cutter full of bullocks for the Cape, laving close under the guns of Monte-Christi, (four 24-pounders and three field pieces,) notwithstanding her situation, I was convinced we could bring her off; and at two this morning she was masterly and gallantly attacked by lieutenant Lake, in the cutter, and lieutenant Nicolls of the marines, in the barge, who cut her out. She is ninety-two tons burthea, cop. pered close-up and fastened, with two 4-pounders, six swivels, and twenty muskeis. This affair cost me two men killed, and two wounded.”
The mistatements in this letter, now that the correct details are confronted with them, discover their importance ; and it cannot be doubted, that captain Mudge bad a favorite whom he was determined to serve, vo matter at whose expense. How came he not to name lieutenant Nicolls among the wounded? It was not a scratch of his finger nor a graze of his shin, but a hole on each side of his body and a ball in his arm, that sent him bleeding to the Blanche's cockpit. Who would expect that, of the “ two men wounded, one was a commissioned officer ? In every case except this, the rank, if not the name, of the officer is stated in the official letter; and, in some letters, the smallest boy in the ship, if he has been wounded ever so slightly, may find bis name in the returns. The name of lieutenant “ Nicolls," however, as the commanding officer of one of the boats, (not of the “ barge,'') entitled bim, in the estimation of the committe at Lloyds, to a second best claim upon their bounty; so that, when the Patriotic fund presented lieutenant Lake, “ for his gallantry," with a sword valued at 501., they gave lieutenant Nicolls one valued at 301. Another quarter, equally deceived, promoted one officer, but, until a subsequent explanation at least, paid no attention to the claims of the other.
In the following extract we have more daring, with nothing to be got by it.
The heroes of the two enterprises belong to the same Blanche, commanded by the same captain Mudge.
Between the two attacks upon the Albion, another boat-party from the Blanche captured, in a very gallant manner, a vessel of superior force. On the 4th, in the