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BRITISH SINGLE SHIP AND BOAT ACTIONS.
the French colonies. On the 12th of December “La Cygne” was discovered at anchor off the Pearl Rock, by the “Morac-Fortunée " gun-brig, which communicated the fact to Captain Francis Collier, in the Circe," 32. The Commodore immediately called up the “Stork,” 18, Captain Le Geyt, the “ Epervier," 16, Captain Parker, and “Express,” Lieut. Dovers, and made sail towards St. Pierre, when the corvette got up her anchor and ran on shore under a battery. Captain Collier stood in after her, but perceived that the shore was lined with troops and field-pieces, besides batteries. He soon silenced the latter, and drove the soldiers from the beach, when the boats were sent in under Lieut. Crooke, who boarded and carried "La Cygne;" but the casualties from the resumed fire of the batteries were such, that at nightfall the boats of the “Circe” were obliged to be called back without their prize. On the 13th, “La Cygne” got under way again, when the “ Amaranthe," 18, Captain Brenton, tried to close with her, but “ La Cygne" grounded, when the “ Amaranthe,” by her well-directed fire, obliged the crew to abandon her, on which the boats of the squadron carried her, notwithstanding the heavy fire still kept up from the shore. “L'Amphitrite” was again discovered on the 19th, by the “ Ethalion," 38, Captain Thomas Cochrane, with the ship-sloop “ Star,” 18, Captain Patterson, and “ Express," but both she and the “ La Junon ” got safely into port. On the 14th of November the “Polyphemus," 64, Captain Cumly, despatched her boats under Lieut. Daly, who boarded and carried the French schooner “ Colibri,” off the city of San Domingo.
The Turks, after the affair of the Dardanelles, had become open enemies of the British ; and the Porte, having ascertained that there was no British ship, except the frigate “ Seahorse,” 38, Captain John Stewart, cruising in the Archipelago, despatched a squadron to look after her.
A band of Epirots, who had been dismissed from the Russian service after the peace of Tilsit, had taken possession in the name of their former master, the Turks, of the islands of Dromo and Saraquino, in the gulf of Salonica, where they led a lawless life, and made prize of many corn and other vessels navigating the Egean.
This fact coming to the knowledge of Captain Stewart, together with a request from the natives that he would check these pirates, he made sail on the 1st of July, and descried 2 ships and a galley coming out of the Dardanelles, which turned out to be the Turkish ships of war, the “Badere-Zaffer,” 52, Scandril Kichup-Ali, and the “ Alis-Fezan,” 24, Captain Duragardi Ali. Captain Stewart continued his course until he came round the east end of the island Scopolo, when he wore to intercept them, and hailed the Turkish Commodore, who flatly refused to bring to; and, accordingly, the whole of a double-shotted broadside was poured into the “ Badere-Zaffer," which was forthwith returned, and the Ottoman Captain put his helm aport, and endeavoured to run the British frigate on board. This Captain Stewart, with good management, prevented. The “Alis-Fezan ” now interposed, and the “Seahorse” turned towards
BRITISH SINGLE SHIP AND BOAT ACTIONS.
this new antagonist, and pouring in upon her a broadside at 200 yards, made dreadful havoc on board. About an hour afterwards, an explosion took place on board the “ Alis-Fezan,” which partly blew up forward ; but she soon after got away from the fight, and ran back to Constantinople in a very shattered state. The contest between the other two ships continued, broadside to broadside, long after dark, and the Turks twice tried to board the English ship, but ineffectually. At length, at a quarter past 1 in the morning, the “ Badere-Zaffer” was completely silenced, and had lost all her three topmasts. Captain Stewart, however, knowing the treacherous character of the Turks, was unwilling to expose the lives of his men by sending them on board in the dark, to learn whether the “Badere-Zaffer” had surrendered or not, and, accordingly, brought to till daylight, when, seeing her colours displayed on her mizenmast, he poured a broadside into her stern. Scandril Ali was now seen sitting in a chair on deck, giving his orders with all the coolness imaginable, and urging his officers and men not to submit to the infidels ; but his crew had had enough of the contest, and knowing that all further resistance was useless, they seized the person of their stubborn chief, and hauled down the Turkish colours. It was with some difficulty that he was prevented from blowing up the frigate, but his design was bappily frustrated. The first Lieutenant was then sent to bring him on board the “Seahorse," and, at length, succeeded ; but he was very reluctant to deliver up his sword, observing that it was a Damascus blade of great value. The Turks had 70 killed and 200 wounded in this action ; the “Seahorse" had 5 killed and 10 wounded.
In 1805, the French frigate “ La Sémillante,” 36, Captain Motard, having beaten off the British frigate “ Phaeton,” and “Harrier" sloop, ran for the Isle of France, and anchored safely in Port St. Louis, whence she made continual cruises, and captured many valuable prizes. The “Sceptic,” 74, Captain Bingham, the“ Cornwallis,” 40, Captain Johnston, and “Dédaigneuse,” 36, Captain Beauchamp Proctor, stationed off the island, had their eyes upon “ La Sémillante,” who, taking advantage of a clear coast, went to sea on the 21st of November 1807, when she was discovered by the “ Dédaigneuse," who, crowding all sail, came up with her the same night, and poured a broadside into her ; but she escaped through her faster sailing, and succeeded in gaining Rivière noire. Again renewing her cruises, Captain Motard had the good fortune to capture 3 richly-laden China vessels, and many other prizes, and in the following February, while carrying some of her captures into port, encountered, off Ceylon, the “ Terpsichore” frigate, Captain Montagu, who had been obliged from her crank state to leave some of her guns behind at Madras. However, a smart engagement ensued, in the midst of which “ La Sémillante ” threw some combustible materials on the deck of her antagonist, which produced a dreadful explosion, and set fire to the ship, under cover of which Captain Motard made an attempt to board, and, failing in that object, endeavoured to get away. The “ Terpsichore,” however, 1808.7 BRITISH SINGLE SHIP AND BOAT ACTIONS.
followed as well as she could, for 4 or 5 days, and having repaired her damages as she sailed on, was coming up with her, when Captain Motard, to make better way, threw overboard some of his guns, and so lightened the ship that he ran his pursuer out of sight. It afterwards turned out that he had been badly wounded, and, but for this, he could have captured the “ Terpsichore.” “ La Sémillante," nevertheless, must have been severely handled after her return to port, for she was unable to go out to sea again as a cruiser, and “Le Cannonière,” 40, took her place at Port Louis. Sometime in the month of August, the “ Laurel,” 22, Captain Worlecombe, arrived in the Indian seas, and having captured a ship with some French ladies on board, had the gallantry to send in to Governor Decaen, requesting the General to send a vessel to receive them, and the second captain of the frigate came out accordingly with a flag of truce, and passed a night on board the “ Laurel." It is supposed that he brought back such an account to Captain César Bourayne, his superior officer, as induced him to carry out “ Le Cannonière" to capture the “ Laurel ;" for on the 12th, the two ships met at sea, and, notwithstanding the odds, came to blows, when, after an hour and a half's steady fight, the “ Laurel ” becoming disabled, yielded to her superior antagonist. The French ship had 15 men killed and 19 wounded. On the 8th of October, the “ Modeste," 36, Hon. Captain Elliott, captured, off Bengal, after nine hours' chase, the French corvette “ Le Jéna,” Lieut. Morier.
Although, since the capture of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen, almost all their ships had disappeared from the ocean, yet some armed brigs and gun-boats were still sent out on hostile cruises, and did great mischief to British trade. The “Euryalus,” 36, Hon. Captain Dundas, the “ Tickler,” Lieut. Skinner, the “ Thunderer," Captain Caulfield, the gun-brig “ Tigress,” Lieut. Greenwood, the “Cruiser,” Lieut. Wells, captured many of these armed craft, though always stoutly contested by the Danes. On the 18th of October the “ Africa,” 64, Captain Barrett, in company with a bomb-vessel and one or two gun-brigs, sailed from Carlscrona, in Sweden, with a homeward-bound convoy of 137 sail. This convoy reached the channel of Malmo on the 20th, and while the smaller vessels anchored in that roadstead, the “ Africa” watched outside the island of Amag, for their better protection. In the night, a Danish flotilla of gun-boats, mounting among them 80 heavy long guns, and manned with upwards of 1,600 seamen, came across to attack her, and next day about noon an engagement commenced and was continued without intermission till dark, in an animated fire of round and grape-shot, which badly wounded the “ Africa's” lower masts and yards, cutting to pieces her standing and running sails and rigging, and twice during the action shot away her colours, but they were each time quickly replaced. She lost 9 killed and 47 wounded. Captain Barrett, perfectly cool and composed, exhorted his men to persevere, but, had the daylight and calm continued two hours longer, he must have been either sunk, or compelled to surrender. As it was, he was only obliged to go back to Carlscrona to refit.
COLONIAL AND PENINSULAR WARS.
28. COLONIAL WAR. On the 2nd of March, the “ Cerberus," 32, Captain Selby, “ Circe,” 32, Captain Pigot, and “ Camilla," 20, Captain Boven, surprised Grandbourg, the capital of the Fench island of Marie. Galante, which, in consequence, capitulated. On the 30th, Captain Selby was sent to take the island of Desirade, which, after a short cannonade, submitted to him. On the 3rd of July the “ Wanderer," 18, Captain Crofton, and 4-gun-schooners, “Subtle” and “ Ballahou,” commanded by Lieuts. Spearing and Miles, landed and stormed the batteries on the island of St. Martin, with the loss of Lieut. Spearing and a number of brave fellows, when the French Governor submitted. Early in February the little fortress of Scylla, in Calabria, which had been hitherto held by a British garrison, under Lieut.-Colonel Robertson, was safely evacuated in opposition to the French army, under General Regnier, through the able cooperation of Captain Otway, with the “ Montagu,” 74, and “Electra,” 16, in convoy of some transports and launches.
29. PENINSULAR WAR. The departure of the intrusive King from Spain was followed by an excess of joy, which vented itself in every species of intrigue for the supreme power. The Junta at the capital claimed an authority which neither that of Seville nor that of Castile would recognise, and at length a compromise was accepted, under which all the most popular Generals, Castaños, Cuesta, and Gonzalez de Llamas repaired to Madrid, and, with singular moderation in men possessed of military power, they took no advantage of the confusion and discord which reigned amongst the ambitious, but honestly tendered their counsel. The result of the deliberation was the establishment of a Central Junta at Aranjuez, under the presidency of the Count de Florida-Bianca, a man of considerable reputation, but advanced in years, for he had been a minister in the days of Carlos III. After some hesitation, the provincial juntas submitted to this supreme one, which entered upon the government of the distracted nation about the first days of September, and prepared to consolidate their means of defence so as to meet the new aggression of the most powerful monarch that ever reigned. The first consideration was to appoint a Commander-in-Chief, but in this they could arrive at no common agreement, for the north and south and east and west of Spain had all their distinct favourites, and would not concede preeminence to any. The only practicable course, therefore, was to institute a General Council of War which should include them all, and which should act in concert with the Supreme Junta. Nothing could exceed the folly of the measures adopted by this body for the salvation of their country. As fortune had given Spain a victory at Baylen, it was gravely proposed to advance to the Ebro in such a manner as to envelope the whole of the French army 1808.] THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT REFUSE BRITISH TROOPS. 143
cantoned between that river and the French frontier : that is to say, a mere levy of the undisciplined patriots of the Peninsula were expected to entrap 60.000 of the first soldiers of the day, commanded by the greatest Captain of the age!
Four grand corps d'armée were forthwith ordered to be assembled. General Blake was to command one in the North, composed of the regulars of De la Romagna and Taranco, of the maritime militia, and the volunteers of Galicia, Leon, Castile, and the Asturias, which, it was calculated, would form a force of 45,000 men; but it was wholly without cavalry, and very indifferently supplied with artillery. The next corps was placed under the superior direction of Castaños for action in the South: this was composed of the division of Cuesta and Pignatelli, and of the various bodies which had been collected for national defence in Estremadura, Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia : this army was estimated to amount to 30,000 men. To Palafox was given the supreme command of the troops in Arragon and Catalonia, numbering about 18,000 combatants. The fourth was to compose an army of reserve, to be formed around the established miguelets of Catalonia, and the regular troops which had been called in from the Balearic islands and elsewhere: this force was directed to blockade the French General Duhesme in Barcelona. Self-confident as the Castilians are said to be by nature, it creates no surprise, that without organisation, arsenals, or depôts, they were fully convinced that they required no assistance in their course but the arms and ammunition now sent them with a lavish hand from England. In the height of their arrogant folly, they looked with indifference towards the subsidiary force which Great Britain had landed in Portugal, and which was now, to the number of 28,000 disciplined and fighting men, waiting for orders at Lisbon, under the supreme command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore.
The excitement caused in England by the Convention of Cintra, and the consequent Court of Enquiry into the conduct of the Generals who had been in command of the British army in the field, had rendered the presence of Generals Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry Burrard, and Sir Arthur Wellesley necessary at home. Accordingly, the command in chief of the British army in Portugal devolved on Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, who, on the 9th of October, issued a general order directing the officers in subordinate commands to hold themselves in readiness to move on the shortest notice. There was considerable difficulty in ascertaining at Lisbon the condition of the roads leading thence into Spain, and it was rashly and ignorantly asserted that cannon could not be transported by the mountain roads through the north of Portugal. On this information, Sir John determined on the very hazardous expedient of so dividing his army as to send the artillery with a column that should advance through the Alemtejo and by Badajoz to Talavera, while the rest of the army should proceed through the province of Beira to Almeida. Lieutenant-General Hope, with 6,000 men, took the road by Elvas; General Beresford, with two brigades advanced by Coimbra; and three brigades, under General