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morning, the launch, armed with a 12-pounder carronade, and manned with 28 mei, under the command of Mr. Jolin Smith, master's mate, attacked, and after an obstinate conflict of 10 minutes, boarded and carried, as she was coming out of the Caracol passage, a French schooner, mounting one long 8-pounder on a pivot, and manned with 30 men, of whom one was killed and five were wounded. The launch bad one man killed and two wounded. The prize was a beautiful ballahou-schooner, and had on board a considerable quantity of dollars.
In his official letter, announcing the capture of this schooner, captain Mudge says, “ She is one of the finest vessels of her class I ever saw, and is fit for luis majesty's service ;" and, to shew how ready he was, in some cases, to atone for bis apparent neglect of a young officer, captain Mudge in a postscript adds : I have omitted mentioning the honourable Frederick Berkley ; but the only apology I can make is saying, he behaved nobly, and was much to be envied.”
A day or two after the affair of Mr. Smith, midshipinan Edward Henry a'Court, with a marine and seven seamen, was dispatched from the Blanche in the red cutter, to collect sand for the use of the ship. Although it had been ordered that youngsters, sent upon services of this kind, lest their pugnacious spirit should lead them into danger, were not to be allowed arms, the men in the boat, before they pushed off from the frigate, contrived to smuggle fire or six muskets through the ports. It so happened that, in the dusk of the evening, the boat fell in with a schooner, nearly becalmed. The midshipman and his little party of sanders unhesitatingly pulled towards her; and, as she had the appearacce of a privateer, and might open a cannonade upon thein, Mr. a'Court judiciously kept in her wake. Just as the boat had approached the stern of the schooner, a fire of musketry from the latter mortally wounded one man, and badly wounded another, of the boat party. Mr. a'Court, nevertheless, pulled straight up alongside, and, with the assistance of his fire remaining bands, bearded and carried a French schooner, bound to Cape-François, having among her passengers a detachment of between 30 and 40 soldiers, commanded by a colonel, who had fought, bled, and distinguished himself, at the battle of Arcole. His wound was a fractured skull, and, upon a piece of plate that covered the denuded part, and which extended over a great portion of one side of his head, was engraven in large characters, the word * Arcole.'
When asked how he could surrender to so insignificant a force, the French colonel, with a shrug replied, that it was all owing to“ le mal de mer ;" and that, had be been on shore, the case would hare been otherwise. Let that have been as it may, the conduct of young a'Court evinced unparalleled gallantry, and a considerable degree of judgment; and the men in the boat deserved to have their names recorded for the bravery they had displayed. But either because the prize was not like the schooner in the preceding boat attack, such a vessel as captain Nudge thought he could successfully recommend the commander in chief on the station to purchase for the British navy, or that the aspiring lad had in some way or other offended him, (the very capture itself, as having been executed without orders, might have been construed into a ground for censure,) no public mention was made of the circumstance; and had not the midshipman afterwards found patrons who set a higher value upon his zeal and activity, Mr. or captain a'Court as he now is, might still have cause to regret, that the little exploit of bis youthful days las not been achiered under the auspices of a liberalminded captain.
In the earlier part of this volume (iii.) is another example of successful daring against extraordinary disparity of force.
On the 12th of April, captain Joseph Baker, of the 16-gun ship-sloop Calypso, being off Cape Tiberon, despatched the master, Mr. William Buckley, in the six-oared cutter, with 10 men, properly armed and provided, and a swivel in her bow, to cruise for two days under the cape, in order, if possible, to intercept some of the small-craft that usually navigate within a mile of the shore. On the following day, the 13th, at 11 A. M., Mr. Buckley perceived, and immediately pulled towards, a schooner lying becalmed under the land. As the boat approached within hail, the schooner desired her to keep off, and, finding the order not attended to, opened upon her a fire of musketry. Heedless of this, the British in the boat boarded, and after a short but smart conflict on the deck carried, the French privateer-schooner Diligente, of six carriage guns, 30 stands of arms, and 39 men actually on board. In this very gallant boat-attack, the British had only one man wounded; the French, seven, and those dangerously.
Of extracts of another kind, we select an extremely well-reasoned
argument against the probability of the success of Napoleon's projected invasion of England.
Even admitting that the Channel, Mediterranean, and North Sea fleets of England were away, were there no other ships to check the course of the flotilla? Let but a breeze have blown from any point of the compass, and innumerable frigates, heavy frigates too, sloops, bombs, gun-brigs, and cutters, would soon bave been on the spot. No shoals or shore-batteries would then have interposed to prevent the guns of the British from producing their full effect. The more numerous the French troops, the greater would have been the slaughter amongst them, the greater the difficulty for the sailors to maneuvre the vessels. Confusion would have ensued; and the destruction or flight of a part of the flotilla would, in the end, have compromised the safety of the remainder. Every hour's delay would have brought fresh British vessels to assist in the general overthrow. Admitting, however, that a considerable portion of the flotilla overcame all these obstacles, and approached the British shore, was there nothing further to dread? Were there really, as Napoleon fancied, no fortifications, no army"'? The invaders would have made the discovery, to their cost, the instant they arrived within shell and shot range. As they advanced nearer, they would have found the beach already occupied by the van of an army composed of soldiers, who, if they had not fought ai “ Lodi, at Zurich, at Heliopolis, at Hohenlinden, and a: Marengo, were then fighting in England.
But, in the event of a calm, would he not succeed? was a question frequently asked, as well by those who wished, as those who dreaded, the invasion. Calms in the British channel are very uncertain : they seldom continue more than twelve hours, and even then may prevail at one part of the coast and not at another. Admitting that a calm existed at Boulogne and the adjacent ports, some time would elapse ere, under the most favourable circumstances, the flotilla could make a start. It has done so, and the oars begin to move : by this time, a boat from every British ship that witnessed the preparation is half across the channel with the intelligence, and the vessel herself, if less than a frigate, is sweeping with all ber strength in the same direction. A fleet of 1200 or 1300 vessels must be rather awkward to manage ; particularly, when assembled together for the first time, and possessed, as these variously-constructed gun-vessels necessarily were, of different powers of progression. Against the prames sad complaints were raised ; and yet, as there were 17 of these vessels, armed each with 12 long 24-pounders, and carrying altogether about 2000 men and 840 horses, they must be waited for. All this would create confusion. Cross tides and partial currents would increase it. Signals would be necessary: they would, it is more than probable, amidst the many repeaters required to transmit them, be misunderstood. A part of the fleet stops, or pulls into a different direction. Delay ensues. Presently up springs a breeze ; and which, in all likelihood, blows either up or down, and not across the channel. In this case the weather wing of the flotilla begins first to spread its sails, and, without great care, presses upon the centre; and that, iu its tum, upon the lee wing. Meanwhile the breeze has not travelled without company, as is evident from the number of white patches that now skirt the windward horizon, swelling and gathering every moment. Of the operations likely to follow, a slight sketch has already been given.
We have given several examples of unequal contests, where bravery and skill, combined or separate, have succeeded in more than making up for disparity of force. These incidents, interesting in themselves, have also shewed the author's power of infusing spirit into a narrative of details. We will now give the description of an equal match, a noble and well-fought battle, between the British frigate Phævix and the French frigate Didon. It is a fair specimen of Mr. James's narration, as well as of the comments he is accustomed to make on the events of his history.
On the 10th of August, at 5 a. M., latitude 43 degrees 16 minutes north, longitude 12 degrees 14 minutes west, the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Phænix, Captain Thomas Baker, standing on the starboard tack with the wind at north-east by east, discovered a sail in the south-west, and immediately bore up in cbase. The weather being hazy and the wind light, it was not until 7 4. M. that the stranger, then on the larboard tack, with foresail and royals set, but with her mizen topsail aback, and main topsail shivering, was made out to be an enemy's frigate, "with yellow sides, and royal
Fards rigged aloft.” The ship was, in fact, the French frigate Didon ; who, since the
Why the French captain, having so important a service intrusted to him, should wait to engage an enemy's frigate of the apparent force of the one bearing down, may require to be explained. The fact is, that, on the day previous, the Phønix bad fallen in with an American vessel from Bordeaux bound to the United States. The master came on board with his papers, and was evidently not so sober as he might have been. After selling some cases of claret at his own price, (for an American must indeed be drunk when his bargaining faculties fail him,) and emptying a few tumblers of grog, mixed to his own liking, he requested to be allowed to view the quarters of the Phænix. No objection was made ; and he staggered round the ship, saw as much as in his purblind state he could see, and departed on board his vessel. On the next morning early he fell in with the Didon ; and, in return for the hospitable treatment he had received on board the Phænix, told Captain Milius, that the ship whose topgallantsails were then just rising out of the water to-windward was an English 20-gun ship, and that her captain and his officers thought so much of their vessel, that, in all probability, they would venture to engage the Didon. The French frigate then lay to in the manner related, and the American merchant ship pursued her way.
It so happened that the Phænix, a very small frigate at best, had been disguised to resemble, at a distance, a large sloop of war; and the position in which, for a long time, she was viewed by the Didon, coupled with the assertions (roundly sworn to, no doubt) of the American, prevented Captain Milius and his officers from discovering the mistake until the action, which we shall proceed to relate, had actually commenced.
At 8 a. M., being still on the larboard tack waiting for the Phænix to close, the Didon hoisted her colours and fired a gun to-windward, and at 8 h. 45 m. opened a smart fire upon the former ; who, to frustrate any attempt of the Didon to escape, resolved to engage to-leeward. To attain this object, and to avoid as much as possible her opponent's line of fire, already doing damage to her rigging and sails, the Phænix steered a bow and quarter course, and reserved her fire until she could bestow it with effect. On the other hand, having in view to cripple the Phænix that she might not escape, and to maintain a position so destructive to the latter, and safe to herself, the Didon filled, wore, and came to again on the opposite tack, bringing a fresh broadside to bear upon the bows of the Phænix. The manæuvre was repeated three times, to the increased annoyance of the latter ; who, impatient at being so foiled, eager to take an active part in the combat, and hopeless, from her inferior sailing, of being able to pass ahead or astern of the Didon, ran right at her to-windward.
This bold measure succeeded, and at 9h. 15 m. P. M. the two frigates, both standing
This manæuvre brought the Didon, with her larboard bow, or stem rather, pressing
Having, in his zeal for the good of the service, ventured to overstep one of its rules captain Baker bad caused the timber or sill of the cabin-widow on each side next the quarter to be cut down, so as to serve for a port, in case a gun would not bear from the regular stern-port next to the rudder-head. Unfortunately, the gunner had neglected to prepare tackles sufficiently long for transporting the aftermost maindeck gun to the new port. The omission was of serious coosequence; for, during the whole time occupied in substituting other means to place the gun in the port, the Didon, by ber powerful body of marines, stationed along the whole length of the larboard gangway, kept up an incessant fire into the stern-windows of the Phænix, strewing the cabiudeck with killed and wounded. · At length the exertions of captain Baker, and of the few officers and men that remained of those assisting bim in this perilous but necessary duty, were crowned with success. The gun was run out, and the direction in which it pointed showed, at once, that its importance had not been overrated. It was fired, and by its first discharge, as subsequently acknowledged on the part of the enemy, laid low 24 of the Didou's crew; it swept the ship from her larboard bow to her starboard quarter, and was truly awful in its effects. Meanwhile the marines and musketry-men on the quarterdeck were exerting themselves in the most gallant and efficacious manner; one party, posted at the stern, kept up a spirited fire at the Didon's marines on the gangway; while another party, (the men of both parties, on account of their exposed station stooping to load and rising to fire,) directing their fire at the carronade upon the Didon's fore. castle, prevented the French sailors from discharging it.
After the two frigates bad remained on board of each other for upwards of half an hour, the Didon began to fore reach. In an instant the Phænix brought her second aftermost gun to bear, and by its first discharge cut away the head-rails of the Didon, and, what was far more important, the gammoning of her bow-sprit. The Didon, as she continued to forge ahead, also brought her guns successively to bear, and a mutual cannonade recommenced between the frigates, yard-arm and yard-arm, to the evident advantage of the Phæniz, whose crew had been constantly trained at the guns, and that, as much as possible, and far more than the regulation of powder and shot allowed, by practising the real, not the dumb motions of firing. In consequence of that, and of her lighter guns, the Phænix fired nearly half as quick again as the Didon; and the shattered hull and disabled state of the latter, as, with her main topmast gone and foremast tottering, she passed out of gun-shot ahead, proved that quickness of firing was not the only proficiency which the crew of the Phænix had attained.
Although not materially injured in hull or lower masts, the Phænix was so damaged in rigging and sails as to be nearly unmanageable, and had had her main royal-mast, maintopsail yard and her gaff shot away. The gaff had fallen just as the two ships got foul; and the fly of the British white ensign at the gaff-end having dropped upon the Didon's forecastle, the Frenchmen tore it off, and carried the fragment aft as a trophy. As a substitute for their ship's mutilated colours, the seamen of the Phænix immediately lashed a boat's ensign to the 'arboard, and a union jack to the starboard arm of her cross-jack yard.
Taking advantage of the suspension of firing, each frigate now begán repairing her damaged rigging, that she might be ready to renew the engagement the instant a return of the breeze would admit of manæuvring. Although the main topmast of the Didon, and the main royal-mast, topsail yard, and gaff of the Phænix, were the only deficient spars, both frigates exhibited a woful appearance, on account chiefly of the quantity of sail under which they had engaged. Instead of a cloud of canvass swelling proudly to the breeze, rope-ends and riddled sails hung drooping down from every mast and yard.
One of the characteristics of a well-disciplined crew is the promptitude they display in refitting their ship after an action ; and, if any thing could animate the men of the Phenix to additional exertions, it was the sight of their opponent's foremast falling over the side. This happened at about noon, and was caused by the motion of the ship acting upon the mast in its terribly shattered state. Very soon afterwards, such had been the diligence of her crew, the Phænix had knotted and spliced her riggiog, Tove fresh braces, and trimmed her sails, so as to profit by the air of wind which had just sprung up. In this refitted state, the Phænix made sail on the larboard tack towards the Didon, then with her head the same way, upon the former's weather bow. Having arrived within gun-shot, the British frigate was in the act of opening her fire, when, being from the fall of her foremast and other previous damage in a defenceless state, the French frigate, at about 15 minutes past noon, hauled down her colours.
Of her 260 men and boys, the Phenix, when she commenced the action, had on board, including 10 or 12 who were too sick to attend their quarters, only 245. Of these she had her second lieutenant, (John Bounton,) one master's mate, (George
Donalan,) and 10 seamen killed ; her first lieutenant of marines, (Henry Steele, dangerously in the head,) two midshipmen, (Aaron Tozer, dangerously, and Edward B. Curling, *) 13 seamen, and 12 marines wounded, several of them badly; total, 12 killed, and 28 wounded. The loss on board the Didon, according to the report of captain Milius, amounted to 27 officers, (including her secoud captain,) seamen, and marines killed, and 44 badly wounded, out of a crew, as stated in the British official account and sworn to by the French officers, numbering 330.
Until captain Baker's appointment to her, the Phenix had been armed precisely
2 lbs. Crew..
1091 Ilere is a statement which, in every branch of it, exhibits, on the French side, a decided superiority of force. Few cases occur wherein we have not to offer some remarks, tending to increase or diminish the effect which the figures alone are calculated to produce. But, the shorter range of the Phenix's 18-pounders, at the distance at which the action was fought, being compensatrd by the increased facility of working them, the above statement conveys a clear idea of the disparity of force in guns that existed between the parties. So it does in respect to crew; for, though a numerical does not always imply a physical superiority, the Didon's was one of the finest crews ont of France. Her men consisted of healthy, strong, and active fellows, who had been picked for captain Jérôme Buonaparte's frigate, the Pomone, and had been in service since the commencement of the war; and they were commanded by officers remarkable for their professional skill and gallant demeanour. Captain Milius himself possessed these qualities in an eminent degree. His personal valour, during the heat of the battle, excited the admiration of his enemy; and the high sense of honour, of which he subsequently, on an occasion quite unconnected with this action, gave unequivocal proofs, established the greatness of his character.
A contest between two frigates, manned and appointed like the Phænix and Didon, would naturally afford the display of much individual heroism. Our means of information are of course restricted to occurrences on board the former ; and eren there we cannot do more than recite one or two of the more prominent instances. The purser's station in action is in the cockpit; but Mr. Joho Collman, the acting purser of the Phonix, scorned to remain in safety below, while the lives of his brother officers and comrades were exposed to danger on deck. With a brace of pistols in his belt, and a broadsword in his hand, did this young man, in the hottest of the fire, take post on the quarter-deck : there, by his gesture and lauguage, he animated the crew to do their duty as British seamen. “Give it her, my lad: !" was an exhortation, as well understood as it was obeyedl, and the guns of the Phenix dealt increased destruction upon the decks of the Didon. As the action proceeded, the loss by death or wounds of officers from the quarter-deck, and the temporary absence of the captain to assist in fixing the gun in his cabin, gave additional importance to the noble part which the acting purser had chosen. And what could have been the summit of Mr. Collman's expectations, in a professional way, for being thus prodigal of his person ?-A purser's warrant.
There were two or three youngsters among the midshipmen, who also dis:inguished themselves. One, named Edward Phillips, saved the life of Captain Baker. On that occasion, while the ships were foul, a man upon the Didon's bowsprit-end was taking deliberate aim at him, when young Phillips, who, armed with a musket, stood close
This youth, not quite seventeen, was wounded in an extraordinary manner. While with jaws extended he was sucking an orange, a musket-ball, which had passed through the head of a seaman, entered one of his cheeks and escaped from the other, without injuring even a tooth. When the wound in each cheek healed, a pair of not unseemly dimples were all that remained.