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1814: British vs French Frigates!

Taken from Volume 5 of 'The Naval History of Great Britain', by William James.

 

"In the latter end of October, 1813, the two French 40-gun frigates Etoile and Sultane, Captains Pierre-Henri Phillibert and Georges Du-Petit-Thouars, sailed from Nantes on a cruise. On the 18th of January, at 4A.M., latitude about 24 north, longitude (from Greenwich) 53 west, these two French frigates discovered in the north-west the British 24-pounder 40-gun frigate Severn, Captain Joseph Nourse, escorting a convoy from England to the island of Bermuda, and steering west by north, with the wind a light air from the south-east. At 7 h. 30 m. A.M. the Severn proceeded in chase; and at 8 h. 40m., finding the strangers did not answer the private signal, the British frigate bore up north by east, and made all possible sail from them, signalling her convoy to take care of themselves. At 10 h. 30m. A.M. the Severn commenced firing her stern- chasers at the leading enemy's frigate, and at noon lost sight of her convoy steering to the westward. At 4 h. 5 m. P.M. the headmost French frigate, the Etoile, hoisting her colours and broad pendant, began firing her bow-guns. A running fight now ensued, which, without doing the slightest injury to the Severn, lasted until 5 h. 30 m. P.M. ; when the Etoile then distant less than two miles (the Sultane astern of her about one), ceased firing. The chase continued all night, rather to the advantage of the Severn. At 8 A.M on the 19th the two French frigates gave up the pursuit, and hauled to the wind on the starboard tack. The Etoile and Sultane afterwards proceeded to the Cape de Yerds, and anchored in the port of English Harbour, island ot Mayo. On the 23rd of January, at about 9 h. 55 m. A.M., the two British 18-pounder 36-gun frigates Creole, Captain George Charles Mackenzie, and Astrea, Captain John Eveleigh rounding the south-east end of Mayo on their way from the neighbouring island of Fort-aventura, with the wind at north-east, 125 blowing fresh, discovered over a point of land the mast-heads of the two French frigates, and of two merchant-ships, one brigan- tine, and one schooner, lying in their company.

 

At 10 h. 15 m. the two British frigates having cleared the point, wore and hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, under their topsails. On a supposition that the strangers, whose hulls were now plainly visible, were Portuguese or Spanish frigates, the Creole hoisted the Portuguese, and the Astrea, by signal from her, the Spanish, private signals. No answer being returned, the strange frigates were considered to be enemies ; and at 11 h. 30 m. A.M. the Creole and Astrea wore and made sail for the anchorage in which they lay. At noon, when the two British frigates were about a mile distant from them, the Etoile and Sultane, having previously hoisted their topsail-yards to the mast-head, cut or slipped, and made sail free on the larboard tack, with a strong wind still from the north-east. The two former now set topgallantsails in chase ; and the Astrea, owing to a gust of wind suddenly striking her, had the misfortune to split all three topsails, the mizen- topsail very badly, to replace which a fresh sail was soon got into the top. At about 30 minutes past noon the south-west end of the island of Mayo bore from the Creole, the leading British frigate, east-north-east distant four miles. In another quarter of an hour the Creole, both British frigates having previously hoisted their colours, fired a shot ahead of the sternmost French ship, the Sultane, then on the former's lee or starboard bow. The two French frigates immediately hoisted their colours. The Creole continued firing her bow-guns occasionally at the Sultane until 1 P.M. : when the former discharged a few of her larboard-guns, and then, as she ranged up on the Sultane's lee beam, received the French ship's first broadside. The Astrea also opened her fire in crossing the stern of the Sultane, and then gallantly passed between the latter and the Creole, just as the two ships had exchanged the fourth broad- side. After giving and receiving two broadsides, within pistol- shot, the Astrea, at 2 h. 15 in. P.M., stood on to engage the Etoile, then about half a mile ahead of her consort, with her mizen topsail aback. Having extinguished a fire that had caught in the foretopmast staysail and mizen chains, the Creole, at 2 h. 30 m., recommenced the action with the Sultane, and presently shot away her mizenraast. About this time the wad- ding from the French ship's guns again set the Creole on fire, in  the forecastle hammocks and on the booms.

 

The flames were again extinguished, and the action continued for nearly half an hour longer ; making about two hours from its commencement. Having now had every brace and bowline, tack, and sheet shot away, her main stay and several of her shrouds cut through, her three masts, particularly her foremast, badly wounded, the Creole put her helm a-lee, and, steering to the north-west in the direction of the island of St. Jago, abandoned the contest. It took the Astrea, when at 2 h. 15 m., she had quitted the Sultane, until 2 h. 30 m. before she got alongside of the Etoile to leeward. After an exchange of broadsides, the Astrea, having, from the great way upon her, ranged too far ahead, luffed up and raked the Etoile on her starboard bow. The Astrea, just at this moment losing her wheel, fell roundoff ; and the Etoile, Avcaring, passed close astern of her, separating her from the boat she was towing, and poured in a most destructive raking fire; which cut the Astrea's lower rigging to pieces, shot away both deck- transoms and four quarter-deck beams, burst a carronade, and ripped up the quarter-deck in all directions. Backing round, the Astrea soon got her starboard guns to bear; and the two frigates, each with a fresh side opposed to the other, recom- menced the action, yard-arm and yard-arm. In a few minutes Captain Eveleigh fell, mortally wounded by a pistol-shot just below the heart, and was carried below. The command now devolved upon Lieutenant John Bulford ; and the engagement between the Astrea and Etoile continued in this close position, with mutual animation, although it was no cheering sight to the Astrea, at about 3 P.M., to observe her consort, on the starboard tack, apparently a beaten ship, and the Etoile's consort approaching to double the force against herself. At 3 h. 5 m. r.M. the .topsail, which lay in the Astrea's mizen top to replace the split one, caught fire, but the flames were soon extinguished. Seeing the near approach of the Sultane, the Astrea would have boarded the Etoile, and endeavoured to decide the contest that way ; but the motion of the ships was too great, and the British frigate could only continue to keep her antagonist under her guns to leeward. At 3 h'. 30 m. the Sultane, as she passed to leeward, raked the Astrea, and did her considerable damage. In five minutes the Sultane wore from the Astrea, and stood before the wind, leaving the latter and the Etoile still in close action. At 3 h. 45 m. the Etoile also wore round on the starboard  tack ; and in five minutes afterwards the Astrea's mizenmagt, with the topsail a second time in flames, went by the board, carrying some of the firemen with it.

 

In a short time after she had wore and ceased firing, the Etoile stood towards her consort, who was waiting for her under easy sail ; and the Astrea, having by this time had the whole of her lower and topsail braces shot away, and being otherwise greatly damaged in rigging and sails, was in too unmanageable a state to follow. At 4 h. 15 m. the Sultane's maintopmast went over the side ; l and the Astrea, having soon afterwards partially refitted herself, wore round on the starboard tack with her head towards San-Jago. At this time the Creole was not visible to the Astrea; and the two French frigates were about four miles distant in the south-west, steering south by west. At 4 h. 30 m. P.M. the Creole was discovered under the land, standing into Porto-Praya bay ; where at 4 h. 45 m. she anchored, and where, in about an hour after- wards, the Astrea joined her. The principal damages of the Creole have already been related : her loss, out of a complement of 284 men and boys, amounted to one master's mate, seven seamen, and two marines, killed, and 26 petty officers, seamen and marines wounded. The Astrea, besides the loss of her mizenmast and the damage done to her rigging and sails, had her fore and main masts wounded, and was a good deal struck about the stern and quarter. Her loss, out of the same complement as the Creole's, consisted of her commander and eight seamen and marines killed, and 37 petty officers, seamen, and marines wounded, four of them dangerously and 11 severely; making the loss on board the two British frigates 19 killed and 63 wounded. The two remaining masts of the Sultane, and all three masts of the Etoile, were badly wounded : and, that their hulls escaped no better is most likely, because the acknowledged loss on board of each, out of a complement of 340 men and boys, was about 20 men killed and 30 wounded, or 40 killed and 60 wounded be- tween them. Here were two pairs of combatants, about as equally matched, considering the character of the opponent parties, as could well be desired ; and who fought so equally, as to make that a drawn battle, which, under other circumstances, might have ended de- cisively. Had the Creole, having already witnessed the fall of the Sultane's mizenmast, been aware of the tottering state of that 1 The logs of the Creole and Astrea concur in stating it to have been the mainmast that fell, but both ships were mistaken. The frigate's maintopmast, Captain Mackenzie would not, we presume, have discontinued the engagement, simply for the pre- servation of his wounded foremast ; especially when the Creole's main and mizen masts were still standing, as well as all three of her topmasts, and when, by his early retirement, he was exposing to almost certain capture a crippled consort. No frigate could have performed her part more gallantly than the Astrea ; but two such opponents, as the one that had so long been en- gaging her, were more than she could withstand. Fortunately for the Astrea, both French frigates had seemingly had enough of fighting ; and the Etoile and Sultane left their sole antagonist in a state not less of surprise than of joy at her extraordinary escape.

 

"On tho 26th of March, at 9 A.M., these two frigates (the Sultane with jury topmasts and mizenmast), when about 12 leagues to the north-west of the Isle de Bas, steering for Saint Malo, in thick weather, with a moderate breeze at south-west, fell in with the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Hebrus, Captain Edmund Palmer, and 16-gun brig-sloop Sparrow, Captain Francis Erskine Loch. The latter was so near to the French frigates that, in crossing them, she received seven or eight shot from each ; which greatly damaged her rigging and sails, killed her master, and wounded one seaman. The brig now tacked towards the Hebrus, who was on her weather-quarter, standing on the larboard tack. The latter, as she passed the French frigates to windward on the opposite tack, exchanged distant broadsides with them, and fired her weather or larboard guns as a signal to her consort, the 74-gun ship Hannibal, Captain Sir Michael Seymour. At 9 h. 30 m. A.M., the Hebrus again tacked, and in 10 minutes afterwards, on the fog clearing, observed the Hannibal coming down under a press of canvas. At 10 A.M., being joined by the 74, the Hebrus crowded sail after the two French frigates, then bearing from her south-east by east distant about four miles. At 11 A.M. the wind suddenly shifted to the north-north-west, and blew very fresh. On this the two French frigates, finding their pursuers rapidly approaching, separated : the Sultane changed her course to east by north, and the Etoile hauled up to south-east. Directing by signal the Hebrus, as the best sailing-ship, to chase, in company with the Sparrow, the most perfect frigate, the Hannibal herself went in pursuit of the other. At 2 P.M. the Hebrus lost sight of the Hannibal and Sultane, and at 5 P.M. of the Sparrow ; and the Etoile then bore from her south-east by east, distant three miles. Soon afterwards the Etoile gradually hauled up to east-north-east, but was still gained upon by the Hebrus. About midnight the French frigate reached the Bace of Alderney ; when, the wind getting more northerly, the Hebrus came up fast, and took in her studding- sails. At Ih. 35m. A.M. on the 27th, having run the length of Point Jobourg, the Etoile was obliged to attempt rounding it almost within the wash of the breakers.

 

At 1 h. 45 m., while, with her courses hauled up, the Hebrus was following close upor. the larboard quarter of the Etoile as the latter wore round the point, the French frigate opened a fire upon the British frigate's starboard bow. This fire the Hebrus quickly returned within pistol-shot distance, running athwart the stern of the Etoile, to get between her and the shore ; and that so closely, that her jib-boom passed over the French ship's taifrail. The Hebrus was now in eight fathoms water, and the land within musket- shot on her starboard beam. At 2h. 20m. A.M., while crossing the bows of the Hebrus to get again inside of her, the Etoile shot away the British frigate's foretopmast and foreyard, and crippled her mainmast and bowsprit, besides doing considerable injury to her rigging, both standing and running. It had been nearly calm since the commencement of the ac- tion, but at 3 A.M. a light breeze sprang up from the land. Taking advantage of this, the Hebrus succeeded in pouring several raking fires into her antagonist, and at 3h. 45m. shot away her mizenmast by the board. At 4 A.M. the Etoile ceased firing ; and, after a close and obstinate combat of two hours and a quarter, hailed to say that she had struck. No sooner was possession taken of the prize, than it became necessary to turn the heads of both ships off the shore, as well to prevent them from grounding as to get beyond the reach of a battery, which, having been unable in the darkness of the morning to distinguish one frigate from another, had been annoying them both with its fire. The tide fortunately set the ships round Pointe Jobourg, and at 7 A.M. they anchored in Vauville bay, about five miles from the shore.

 

Although the principal damages of the Hebrus were in her masts and rigging, her hull had not wholly escaped, as is evident from her loss ; which, out of a crew of about 284 men and boys, amounted to one midshipman (P. A. Crawley) and 12 seamen killed, and 20 seamen, 2 marines, and three boys wounded ; four of the number dangerously, and six severely. The Etoile's principal damages lay in her hull, which was extremely shattered, leaving her at the close of the action with four feet water  in the hold : her loss, in consequence, out of 327 men and boys (including the wounded in the former action), amounted to 40 killed and 73 wounded. The guns of the Hebrus, one of the new yellow-pine frigates, were the same as those of the Belvidera. The Etoile mounted 44 guns, including 14 carronades, 24-pounders, and two 8- pounders on the quarter-deck and forecastle. Of her acknowledged crew of 327, we shall allow 12 for the badly wounded, and not yet recovered, of the action of the 26th of January.  As the crew of the Hebrus was quite a new ship's company, with scarcely a single draught from any other ship, while the crew of the Etoile had been formed out of the united ships' companies of the Arethuse and Eubis, and had even since fought a creditable, if not a victorious action with an equal force, a great share of credit is due to Captain Palmer, his officers, and crew, for the successful result of this action ; con- sidering, especially, how near it was fought to the French shore, and how critically circumstanced the Hebrus was, both during its continuance and at its termination. We formerly concluded, that the stock of ammunition on board the Etoile must have been considerably diminished when she fell in with the Hebrus ; but it has since been proved to us, that, after her capture by the latter, the Etoile had a considerable quantity of powder and shot left: consequently we erred in our supposition, and are extremely gratified that the inaccuracy has been pointed out in time to be corrected in these pages. We must not omit to mention, that Captain William Sargent, of the navy, who was a passenger on board the Hebrus during the action, evinced much skill and intrepidity ; as is very handsomely acknowledged by Captain Palmer in his official letter."

 

Note: HMS Hebrus was a fir-built sister ship to HMS Euryalus, identical except for the square-tuck stern

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Here's another 1814 frigate-fight between the fir-built 24-pounder HMS Eurotas (HMS Shannon sister-ship) and the French 18-pounder Chlorinde. From the same above source:

 

" It is uncertain on what day, previous to the capture of the Ceres, her consort, the Clorinde, parted company ; but we find the latter on the 25th of February, in latitude 47 40' north, longitude (from Greenwich) 9 J 30' west, on her way to Brest, after a tolerably successful cruise. It was at 2 P.M., when standing close hauled on the starboard tack, with the wind at south-west by south, that the Clorinde was descried by the British 24-pounder 38-gun frigate Eurotas, Captain John Philli- more, then on the former's weather-beam steering by the wind on the larboard tack. The Eurotas quickly bore up in chase ; and at 2h. 30 m. P.M. the Clorinde, whose national character and force was by this time ascertained, also bore up, under a press of sail. While the chase is going on, we will proceed to point out some peculiarities in the armament of one of these ships, a knowledge of which will be necessary to render fully intelligible the details we have to give of the action fought between them. At the commencement of the year 1813, under the head of " British and American Navies," we stated that, among the means taken to meet the large American frigates on equal terms, some of the British 38-gun class were mounted with medium 24-pounclcrs, and allowed an increased complement of men. The first two frigates so fitted were the Cydnus and Eurotas, both built of red pine and recently launched. The Cydnus was fitted with the 24-pounder of General Blomefield, measuring 7 ft. 6 in., and weighing about 40 cwt. ; and the Eurotas, after having, by mistake we believe, received on board a set of long or 49 cwt. 24s, was fitted with the 24-pounder of Colonel Congreve, measuring only 7 ft. G in., and intended to weigh 41 cwt. 1 qr. 12 Ibs., but actually weighing only 40 cwt. 2 qrs. 21 Ibs. With 28 of these guns on the main deck, 16 carronades, 32-pounders, two long nines, and the usual 18-pounder launch- earronade, on the quarter-deck an4 forecastle, as her regular  establishment, and with, we are inclined to think, one additional 24-pounder upon General Blomefield's principle, the Eurotas, commanded by Captain John Phillimore (promoted from the Diadem troop-ship, which he had commanded since June, 1810), sailed from the Nore in the middle of the month of August, bound off Brest. On the 30th the Eurotas joined" the blockading squadron, which was under the command of Commodore Pulteney Malcolm, in the 100-gun ship Queen Charlotte, Captain Eobert Jackson. On some day in September (we believe the 14th) Captain Phillimore invited the commodore and all the captains of the squadron on board the Eurotas to witness a trial of her 24-pounders. The guns were tried eight times, with the full allow- ance of powder, and double-shotted ; and they stood remarkably well. Commodore Malcolm said he should like to have Colonel Congreve's 24-pounders on the Queen Charlotte's second and third decks ; and every one of the captains went away pleased with the gun. The following captains, with the exception of one or two, but which we cannot say, Avere present at this successful trial of the guns of the Eurotas : Captains AVilloughby Thomas Lake, Eobert Lambert, Thomas Elphinstone, Sir Michael Sey- mour, Henry Yansittart, George M'Kinley, George Tobin, George Harris, and Eobert Jackson. Captain Phillimore sub- sequently declared that, if well manned, he could light both sides of the Eurotas with ease ; was delighted with the guns in a gale of wind ; and found that, when the Eurotas was carrying a press of sail off Ushant, the guns did not work in the least, nor the ship seem to feel the smallest inconvenience from them. 1 On the 25th of November the Eurotas sent six of her 24-poundcrs on board the Cydnus, and received in exchange the same number of the latter's guns ; but on the 5th of the ensuing February, when the two ships again met, the Eurotas received back her six 24s, and returned to the -Cydnus those belonging to her. We must now show what ensued between the Eurotas and the French frigate Clorinde ; whose force, it may be necessary to state, was 28 long 18-pounders, 14 carronades, 24-pounders, and two long 8-pounders, total 44 guns.

 

At 4 P.M. the wind shifted to the north-west and fell consi- derably ; but the Eurotas, nevertheless, gained in the chase. At about the same time the Clorinde, then not quite four miles distant in the east-north-east, suddenly shortened sail, and endeavoured to cross the hawse of her pursuer. This only 1 For a copy of & Icttei from Captain Phillimore, stating most of these particulars, see Appendix, No. 4.  hastened the junction ; and at 4 h. 45 m. the Eurotas fired a shot and hoisted her colours, as did also the Clorinde. At 5 P.M., having bore up, the Eurotas passed under the stern of the Clorinde and discharged her starboard broadside. Then, luffing up under the Clorinde's quarter, the British frigate received so close and well-directed a fire, that in the course oi 20 minutes, and just as she had reached the larboard bow of her antagonist, her mizenmast fell by the board over the starboard quarter ; and, nearly at the same time, came down the fore-top- mast of the Clorinde. The French frigate now, shooting ahead, endeavoured to cross the bows of the Eurotas, with the intention of raking her. To evade this, and at the same time lay her antagonist on board, the Eurotas put her helm hard a-port and luffed up ; but, being obstructed in her manoeuvre by the wreck of the mizenmast, she could only pass close under the stern of the Clorinde, and pour in her larboard broadside. The two frigates again got side by side, and cannonaded each other with redoubled fury. At 6h. 20m. P.M. the Eurotas, then close on her opponent's starboard beam, had her mainmast shot away ; and which, fortunately for her, fell over the starboard or unengaged quarter. Almost at the same instant the mizenmast of the Clorinde came down. At 6h. 50m., the two ships being nearly in the same relative position, the foremast of the Eurotas fell over the starboard bow .; and in a minute or two afterwards the mainmast of the Clorinde shared the same iate. The Eurotas was now quite, and the Clorinde almost, unmanageable. At 7 h. 10 m. P.M., being then on the larboard bow of the Eurotas, the Clorinde set the remains of her foresail and her fore staysail and stood to the south-east, out of gun-shot. Captain Phillimorc, who since the early part of the action had been dangerously wounded in the shoulder by a grape-shot (the loss of blood from which, according to a published state- ment, 1 had caused him to faint three times on deck), now con- sented to go below ; and the command of the Eurotas devolved upon Lieutenant Eobert Smith. The boats' masts were imme- diately stepped on the booms, and the sails set, to endeavour, with a light westerly breeze, to keep after the enemy, still in the south- east. The wreck of the masts were also cleared away, and preparations made for getting up jury-masts ; and in the mean- while the ship laboured much, owing to her dismasted siate and a heavy swell from the westward I Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi., p. 184.  By great exertions throughout the night, the Eurotas, at 5 A.M. on the 26th, got up a spare maintopmast for a jury mainmast and at 6 h. 15 m., a foretopmast for a jury foremast, and a rough spar for a inizenmast ; the Clorinde still preserving the same line of bearing as on the preceding evening, but having increased her distance to nearly six miles. At 11 h. 30 m. A.M. Lieute- nant Smith spoke the English merchant-schooner Dungarvon, from Lisbon bound to Port Glasgow, and requested her master to keep between the Eurotas and Clorinde, and, in the event of the Eurotas not overtaking the Clorinde before night, to show a light and fire guns.

 

At noon the Eurotas and Clorinde were about eight miles apart ; but in so different a state with respect to ability to renew the action, that while the latter had only partially cleared away the wreck of her main and mizen masts, the former had jury-courses, topsails, staysails, and spanker set, going with a northerly wind, six and a half knots through the water, and evidently gaining in the chase. But at this moment, Captain Phillimore justly observes, "to the great mortification of every one on board " the Eurotas, two sail were descried on the lee bow. The nearest of these was the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Dryad, Captain Edward Galwey ; the other the 16-gun brig-sloop Achates, Captain Isaac Hawkins Morrison. At 1 h. 15 m. P.M. the Clorinde hoisted French colours aft and English forward, and despatched a boat to the Dryad, who then shortened sail and hove to to receive it. The purport of Captain Denis-Lagarde's communi- cation, as it has appeared in print, was to require terms before he would surrender. The doubt expressed by the French officers as to the ship in sight to windward being that which had reduced the Clorinde to such a state, was far from unreasonable ; consi- dering that, not only had a night intervened, but the ship now seen was masted, rigged and under sail, where the ship engaged the evening before had been left as bare as a hulk. The French lieutenant was quickly sent back to the Clorinde. to get ready her " resources," and the Dryad filled and stood towards her, to give her an opportunity of trying the eifect of them. At 1 h. 35 m. P.M., having placed herself on the Clorinde's quarter, the Dryad fired one shot into her ; when the French frigate hauled down her colours, and was taken immediate possession of. At this time the Eurotas was between four and five miles off to windward, and the Achates about the same distance from the Clorinde to leeward. Out of a complement on board of 329 men and boys, the  Eurotas had two midshipmen (Jeremiah Spurking and Charles Greenway), one first-class volunteer (John T. Vaughan), 13 seamen, four marines, and one boy killed, her commander (very severely), one lieutenant of marines (Henry Foord), one midship- man (John R. Brigstock), 30 seamen, and six marines wounded ; total, 21 killed and 39 wounded. Out of a crew on board num- bering, according to the depositions of Captain Denis-Lagarde and his two principal officers, 344 men and boys, the Clorinde had 30 officers and men killed and 40 wounded. From the great proportion of killed, it is probable that the severely wounded only are here reckoned. They may have amounted to 20 more ; making the killed 30, and the wounded 60. In the letter which Captain Galwey, with a proper feeling, permitted Captain Phillimore to write, the latter states, that the Clorinde had "a complement of 360 picked men," and that " M. Gerrard," one of the French officers, calculated their loss at 120 men. With respect to the complement, judging by the number of men usually found on board frigates of the Clorinde's class, and allowing, if necessary, that some may have been absent in prizes, we consider the sworn amount, 344, and that for which the head-money was afterwards paid, as likely to be the most correct. In regard to the alleged declaration of " M. Gerrard," unless the slightly wounded were in a very unusual proportion, the statement extracted from the Dryad's log is more to be depended upon ; especially, as it specifies both killed and wounded, and accords exactly, as we shall proceed to show, with the number and distribution of the prisoners. Owing to there being three British men-of-war in company, it is natural to suppose that all the prisoners would be taken out of the French ship, with the exception of the badly wounded. Accord- ingly, out of the 314 assumed survivors of the French crew, the Dryad received on board 125, the Eurotas 92, and the Achates 57 ; leaving on board the Clorinde, by a singular coincidence, the exact number stated by the French officers as the amount of their wounded. Every one of those officers, not left in the Clorinde, appears to have been on board the Dryad ; among whom we find Captain Denis-Lagarde, M. Joseph Lemaitre, his first, and M. Yincent Moulac, his second lieutenant ; but we do not see in the list the name of " Gerrard," nor any name re- sembling it. This person, therefore, was probably one of the wounded left on board the Clorinde. Although we are by no means satisfied that the Eurotas did not mount one of General Blomefield's 24-pounders in addition to her established armament already particularized, we shall not include that gun, nor, of course, the 18-pounder launch carro- nade, in the following Comparative Force of the Combatants. Broadside-guns .

 

Had the Eurotas been armed the same as the generality of her class, this would have been a remarkably fair match ; but the British ship's 24-pounders destroyed the equilibrium. Yet, with a distance which would even have suited carronades, and with the exclusive advantage of two raking fires, those 24- pounders did not do so much execution, in proportion to the time they were acting, as had been done on many other occa- sions by an equal number of 18s. The ship, it is true, had not been quite 10 months in commission, and had not had her guns on board many days over six months ; but even the shorter of those two periods was long enough for the men to have been taught as much of practical gunnery as should have enabled them, in a close action of nearly two hours with an inferior antagonist, to have done greater execution, in reference to what they themselves suffered, than appears to have been inflicted by the Eurotas upon the Clorinde. But, deficient as the crew of the Eurotas may have been at their guns, they were by no means so at the various other duties of their calling. The quickness with which the seamen refitted their ship was as great a proof of their spirit as it was of their skill ; and, contrasted with the evidently unprepared state of the Clorinde, 18 hours after the battle, showed, in a very clear manner, the superiority of a British over a French crew. It was the capability to go ahead and manoeuvre, thus given, that would again, in a short time, have brought the Eurotas alongside of the Clorinde ; and it was a perfect readi- ness to renew the action, with, owing to the preceding day's two hours' practice at the guns, an actual increase of power, that would have made the Clorinde the prize of the Eurotas, even had the Dryad not interposed her unwelcome presence. The arrival of the Dryad and Achates, although it certainly robbed the Eurotas of her trophy, went a very little way towards dignifying the surrender of the Clorinde ; who, notwithstanding her captain's previous threat, did not fire a shot in return for the one discharged at her by the Dryad. We formerly expressed a belief, that the Achates alone would have produced the same result ; but, much as was to be expected from the tried gallantry of the brig's commander, we now, looking at the number of unwounded prisoners received out of the Clorinde, and the impunity with which her principal officers escaped, think other- wise. Nor do we feel disposed to award so much credit to M. Denis-Lagarde as we formerly did ; not only because of the tarneness of his surrender, but because, with so many officers and men in an effective state, he ought, in the 18 hours that had elapsed, to have cleared away his wreck, and partially refitted his ship. The dismasted state of the Eurotas, and her serious loss in men, prove that the French crew knew in what way to handle their guns; and considering how long the Clorinde had been in commission, and how many months of the time at sea, 1 we must suppose that her men were competent to perform the other duties of men-of-war's men, had their officers issued the proper directions. A\ r ith good management, therefore, the Clo- rinde might have effected her escape before the Dryad and Achates fell in with her ; and, even had 'the prevailing westerly wind begun to blow strong, soon after the close of the action, and lasted through the night, the probability is, that the French frigate, unrefitted as she was, would still have gained a port of France. Taking the prize in tow, the Dryad proceeded with her to Portsmouth ; and the Clorinde was afterwards added to the British navy by the name of Aurora, a Clorinde (also a French frigate) being already in the service.

 

For his gallantry in this action, and his unremitting exertions in getting the ship cleared, masted, and under sail in so short a space of time, Lieutenant Robert Smith, first of the Eurotas, was deservedly promoted to the rank of commander. A litigation afterwards took place on the subject of the head-money for the crew of the Clorinde ; and it was at length decreed to the Dryad, as having been the actual captor. With the exception of the particulars entered into respecting the guns of the Eurotas, and respecting the state of the prisoners received out of the Clorinde, the above account of the action between these frigates is essentially, and almost verbally, the game as that given in the preceding edition of this work. The accuracy of that account having been publicly impugned, we i See vol. v., pp. 48, are bound, either to admit that we are misinformed on the subject, or to bring forward such proofs as will place beyond the reach of further contradiction the validity of our statements. As far as we have been able to glean them, the following are the principal, if not the only objections that were raised: 1. That the Eurotas' 24-pounders were experimental guns, and proved, defective in some (but what, we cannot say) particular, when tried in the action. 2. That the crew of the Eurotas had been taught how to fire with precision ; consequently, that the com- paratively slight execution done by the Eurotas to the Clorinde did not arise from the inexpertness of her men, but from the ineffectiveness of her guns. Unfortunately, the newspapers of the day used their endeavours to circulate a much more import- ant objection than either of these ; no less than that the main- deck guns of the Eurotas were 18, and not 24 pounders. Let us hasten to do Captain Phillimore the justice to state, that he never made, although we do not remember that he contradicted, an assertion which could have been so easily refuted. A con- temporary saw the paragraph, and, putting aside the news- paper, kept it until he could give the statement again to the public, with a post-captain's name as a voucher for its accuracy, in the following words : "A frigate-action, of an interesting nature, was fought in February, 1814, between the Eurotas, a British ship, of 44 guns, 18-pounders, and La Clorinde, of the same force." 1 Taking the two serious objections in the order in which they are stated, we shall begin with the quality of the guns. As far as a trial before the action could speak for the Congreve 24-pounders, we have already shown, that Captain Phillimore himself, Commodore Malcolm, and several experienced post- captains, were "delighted with them." Now for their behaviour in the action. The moment we learnt that Captain Phillimore had a complaint to allege against the guns, for some ill quality or deficiency that discovered itself in the action between the Eurotas and Clorinde, we turned again to the official letter. Finding no complaint there, we once more looked into the ship's log ; knowing that there at least a minute of the circumstance ought to have been noted down. Not a word could we discover on the subject. We then took the pains to ascertain, if any official report, complaining of the guns, had reached the navy board. Except an application, made in March, to have the breeching-bolts of the carronades, and the cat-heads of the i Breaton. vol. v, p.  Eurotas made different from those of any other ship in the service, and a refusal of both requests, we could find no correspondence between Captain Phillimore and the commissioners of the navy.

 

Pursuing our inquiries, we at last discovered that, on the 15th of March, 1814, an examination took place of the officers of the Eurotas on the very subject on which we desired informa- tion ; and the following (all we have been able to procure) is a transcript of what purports to be the testimony of the second- lieutenant of the Eurotas, Eichard Wilcox Graves : ' ' That, when the said guns were tried at Sheerness against the common 24-pounder long gun, they seemed to carry the shot, both double and single, as far as the latter ; that they bounded a little more than the long gun, but not dangerously so ; that they can be worked with two men less than the common long gun, are easier to train, and embrace a larger range or circle; that, in the action, one bolt only was drawn on the main deck, and one seizing broken, the latter of which might have been badly made , that, upon the main deck, two shot were fired from each gun in the first three rounds, and one round and one grape during the remainder of the action; that .the quantit of gunpowder was 8 lb., which was considered 2 Ib. too much, no difference of range being perceived when the guns were fired with only 6 lb. ; that there is only one gim on board the Eurotas, similar to those on board the Cydnus, upon Lieutenant-general Blomefield's principle, on account of there not being a complete set at Wool- wich when the Eurotas was fitted out." From the time of her action, except to land them when docked to have her damages repaired, the Eurotas retained these same guns, until Captain James Lillicrap paid the ship off on the 6th of January, 1816 ; when the Eurotas landed her " 28 Congreve's 24-pounders " at the arsenal at Woolwich. Conse- quently, there could have been no well-grounded complaint against the guns, otherwise the board of admiralty would not have suffered the Eurotas again to go to sea with them onboard. On the contrary, the lords of the admiralty were so pleased with the report made of the 40 cwt. Congreve 24-pounder, after a series of experiments tried at Sutton Heath, that, in the latter end of the year 1813, they ordered 300 more of the same de- scription of gun to be cast ; and, as a proof that the behaviour of the guns in the action of the Eurotas with the Clorinde, rather confirmed than lessened the previous good opinion entertained of them, the board of admiralty, on the 28th of April, 1815, 1814.] ordered that all the first-rate ships in the British navy should thenceforward be established, upon their upper or third decks, with the Congreve 24-pounder. After this full exposition of the perfect adequacy of the Eurotas' 24-pounders to perform, in a close contest especially, quite as well as any guns of the same caliber, we might answer the second objection, by simply pointing to the execution clone by English 24 and 32, against French 18 and 24 pounders, and vice versa, as unfolded in our detailed account of this action ; but we shall not blink the question : we stated, that the ship's company of the Eurotas had not been sufficiently practised at the guns, and we are prepared to prove our assertion. We must premise that, at the time the Eurotas was commissioned and armed with 24-pounders, three American 24-pounder frigates had recently captured three English 18-pounder frigates, and that with such impunity as to indicate that the art of gunnery had been much neglected in the British navy."

 

Again, please forgive the scanning errors

druxey, CaptainSteve, Canute and 1 other like this

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Excellent reading! Here is a wonderful painting by pocock of the fight betweent the Herbrus and l'Etoile. Etoile.jpg

And some of the Clorinde vs Eurotas can be seen here: 

 

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/100913.html 

 

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/109997.html

 

http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/auctions/Robert-Dodd-43103/Close-action-between-HMS-Eurotas-and-the-French-Frigate-Clorinde-1814-2000

 

these battles are also described well in the Caxton pictorial histories series volume "the victory of Seapower" from what I recall, napoleon had started a naval gunnery training program around the time of trafalgar that didn't start to pay dividends much until this time-with the unusual ferociousness of the french gunnery in these battles being a direct result of it.

 

A similarly hard fought duel from 1813  pitted the HMS Amelia vs L'Arethuse. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_of_7_February_1813

interestingly, it saw one of the first JN Sáne designed 18pdr frigates(HMS Amelia was the ex-French Proserpine of 1785)fighting  against what was essentially the ultimate evolution of that class, the brand new arethuse. Did William James write a description of that battle? 

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Yes, James wrote of it extensively! Glad someone is interested! 

 

" On the 25th of November, 1812, the two new French 40-gun frigates Arethuse, Commodore Pierre-Fran^ois-Henry-Etienne Uouvet, and Eubis, Captain Louis- Frangois Ollivier, sailed from Nantes on a cruise. In January these two frigates, accompa- nied by a Portuguese prize-ship, the Serra, steered for the coast of Africa, and on the 27th, when off Tamara, one of the Isles de Los, the Eubis, who was ahead, discovered and chased a brig, which was the British gun-brig Daring, Lieutenant William E. Pascoe. The latter, when at a great distance, taking the Eubis for an English frigate, sent his master in a boat to board her. On approaching near, the boat discovered her mistake and en- deavoured to make off, but was captured. The Daring was now aware of her perilous situation, and crowded sail for Tamara, followed by the Eubis ; whom the lightness of the breeze de- layed so much, that the brig succeeded in running on shore and her crew in setting her on fire. The two French frigates, at 6 P.M., came to an anchor in the road of Isle de Los. Here Captain Bouvet learnt, that Sierra Leone was the rendezvous of two British frigates and several sloops-of-war ; that one of the former had recently quitted the coast, and that the remaining frigate, reported to him as larger and stronger than either of his own, still lay at anchor in the river. In the course of six days, the French commodore refitted his chips, and supplied them with water and provisions for six months. Having also sent to Sierra Leone to exchange the few prisoners in his possession, consisting, besides the boat's crew of the Daring, of the master and crew of a merchantman he had taken, Captain Bouvet, on the 4th, weighed and made sail with his two frigates. At 4 P.M. the Arethuse, who was ahead, struck on a coral bank, but forcing all sail, got off immediately, with no greater damage than the loss of her rudder. The two frigates then re-anchored, but driving in a gale of wind, were obliged, at 3 A.M. on the 5th, to get under sail ; the Arethuse contriving a temporary rudder while her own was repairing. At daylight, when the gale had abated, the Arethuse found herself lying becalmed within four leagues north-east of 'the island of Tamara; and Captain Bouvet was surprised to dis- cover his consort still among the islands, covered with signals, which the distance precluded him from making out, but which were judged to be of melancholy presage. At 8 A.M. the Are- thuse anchored in 12 fathoms. At 11 A.M. the Rubis was ob- served to fire several guns, and at noon to have the signal flying, that the pumps were insufficient to free her. Captain Bouvet immediately sent his longboat with two pumps; but at 2 A.M. on the 6th the officer returned, with information that the Eubis had struck on the rocks, and that her crew were removing to the Portuguese ship. At daylight, by which time she had repaired and reshipped her rudder, the Arethuse discovered a large ship to windward. This was the British 38-gun frigate Amelia, Captain the Hon. Frederick Paul Irby, from Sierra Leone. It was at 3 h. 30 m. P.M. on the 29th of January, that Lieu- tenant Pascoe and a part of his crew joined the Amelia, then moored off Free Town, Sierra Leone, bringing information, that he had left " three French frigates " at anchor in Isle de Los road.

 

The Amelia began immediately to bend sails and clear for action, and in the evening was joined by the Hawk mer- chant-schooner, with some more of the Daring's men. On the morning of the 30th the Amelia's launch-carronade was put on board the Hawk, and Lieutenant Pascoe, having volunteered, was despatched in her to reconnoitre the French ships. On the 2nd of February, at noon, Lieutenant Pascoe returned, with intelligence of the names of the two French frigates and their prize ; and also of Captain Bouvet's intention to proceed immediately to sea, to intercept the British homeward-bound trade. On the 3rd, at 8 A.M., the cartel-cutter, noticed as having been despatched by Captain Bouvet, arrived with prisoners, in- cluding the crew of the Daring's boat : and at 10 h. 30 m. the Amelia, with a debilitated crew, for whose recovery she was about to proceed to England, got under way, and made sail, against a west-south-west wind, for the Isles de Los, in the hope of falling in with some British cruiser that might render the match more equal, and prevent the two French frigates from molesting several merchant-vessels that were daily expected at Sierra Leone. On the 5th, at 8 A.M., the Amelia got a sight of Isle do Los : and at 8 P.M., when standing to the north-east, and then distant three leagues west-north-west of Tamara, she observed a strange sail in the north-east, or right ahead, making night- signals. Supposing this vessel to be one of the French frigates, the Amelia tacked to the westward, the wind now blowing fresh from the north-west. On the 6th, at daylight, the Amelia again tacked to the north-east, and at 9 A.M. spoke the Princess Charlotte government-schooner from Sierra Leone, the vessel that had been making signals the preceding night. At 9 h. 30 m. A.M. the French ships were observed in the north- east, at anchor off the north end of Tamara : one, the Arethuse, considerably to the northward of the other, who appeared to be unloading the prize, but was really removing into the latter her own crew. At 10 A.M. Captain Irby despatched the Princess Charlotte to Sierra Leone, with directions for any British ship-of-war that might arrive there to repair imme- diately to him. The Amelia then bore away to Tamara to re- connoitre the enemy.

 

At 2 h. 30 m. P.M. the two French frigates were observed to interchange signals ; and at 3 h. 20m. the Arethuse weighed and made sail on the starboard tack, with a moderate breeze at south-south-west. The Amelia thereupon shortened sail, and hauled to the wind on the same tack as the Arethuse. In a few minutes the latter tacked to the westward, to avoid a shoal, and the Amelia did the same. At 6 P.M. the Arethuse bore from the Amelia north-north-east distant six miles ; at which time the Eubis, as supposed, but probably the Serra, was observed to have her topsails hoisted. At 6 h. 30 m. P.M. the north end of Tamara bore from the Amelia east- south-east distant five leagues. At 8 P.M. the Amelia lost sight of the Arethuse ; and at 8 h. 30 in., in order to keep oft' shore during the night, Captain Irby tacked to the south-south-west, with the wind from the westward. At 6 h. 45 m. A.M. on the 7th the Amelia discovered the Arethuse about eight miles off in the south-east ; but a calm, which came on at 8 A.M., kept both frigates stationary. At noon a light breeze sprang up from the west-north-west : where- upon the Arethuse stood towards the Amelia, on the larboard tack, under all sail ; the latter making sail also, in the hope to draw the Arethuse from her consort, still supposed to be in a condition to follow and assist her. At 5 P.M., finding the wind beginning to fall, and conceiving that he had drawn the Arethuse to a sufficient distance from her consort, Captain Irby shortened sail, wore round, and, running tmder his three topsails with the wind on the starboard-quarter, steered to pass, and then to cross the stern of, the Arethuse ; who was standing, under the same sail, close hauled on the lar- board tack. To avoid being thus raked, Captain Bouvet. at 7 h. 20 m. P.M., tacked to the south-west, and hoisted his colours ; as the Amelia previously had hers. It was now a fine moonlight night, with the wind very moderate, and the sea nearly as smooth as a millporid. At 7 h. 45 m. P.M., just as the Amelia had arrived within pistol-shot upon her starboard or weather-bow, the Arethuse opened her fire, which was imme- diately returned. After about three broadsides had been ex- changed, the maintopsail of the Amelia, in consequence of the braces having been shot away, fell aback. Owing to this acci- dent, instead of crossing her opponent as she intended, the Amelia fell on board of her ; the jib-boom of the Arethuse carrying away the Amelia's jib and stay, and the French ship's bumpkin or anchor-fluke, part of the British ship's larboard forecastle barricade.

 

The Arethuse now opened a heavy fire of musketry from her tops and mast-heads, and threw several hand-grenades upon the Amelia's decks, hoping, in the confusion caused by such com- bustibles, to succeed in an attempt to board ; for which purpose several of the Arethuse' s men had stationed themselves in her fore-rigging. A man was now seen on the spritsail-yard of the Arethuse, making strenuous efforts to get on board the Amelia. Scarcely had the poor fellow called out, "For God's sake, don't fire, I am not armed !" when a musket-ball from a British marine dropped him in the water. It was afterwards ascertained, that one of the crew of the Arethuse, a Ham- burgher, had formerly belonged to the Amelia, having been taken out of one of her prizes on the coast of Spain, and forced to enter on board the French frigate. It appears that the man was so desirous to get back to his ship, that he requested a settler at the Isle de Los to secrete him till an opportunity offered of his reaching Sierra Leone. The probability therefore is, that the rnan so shot, while upon the spritsail-yard of the Arethuse, was the unfortunate Hamburgher.

 

Finding that, owing in a great degree to the steady and well- directed fire kept up by the Amelia's marines, her object could not be accomplished, the Arethuse threw all aback and dropped clear. In doing this, her spritsail-yard knocked Lieutenant William Eeeve, who had been invalided from the Kangaroo sloop, from the break of the forecastle into the waist. Setting her maintopgallant and middle staysails (her jib for the time being disabled), the Amelia endeavoured again to get her head towards the bow of the Arethuse. The Amelia at length did so, but, in attempting a second time to cross her antagonist, a second time fell on board of her ; and the two ships now swang close alongside, the muzzles of their guns almost touching. This was at about 9 h. 15 m. P.M., and a scene of great mutual slaughter ensued. The two crews snatched the spunges out of each other's hands through the portholes, and cut at one another with the broadsword. The Amelia's men now attempted to lash the two frigates together, but were unable, on account of the heavy fire of musketry kept up from the Arethuse's decks and tops, a fire that soon nearly cleared the Amelia's quarter-deck of both officers and men. Among those who fell on the occasion were the first and second lieutenants (John James Bates and John Pope), and a lieutenant of marines. Captain Irby was also severely wounded, and obliged to leave the deck to the command of the third-lieutenant, George Wells; who, shortly afterwards, was killed at his post, and Mr. Anthony De Mayne, the master, took the command. The mutual concussion of the guns at length forced the two frigates apart ; and, in the almost calm state of the weather, they gradually receded from each other, with, however, their broad- sides still mutually bearing, until 11 h. 20 m. P.M. ; when both combatants, being out of gun-shot, ceased firing. Each cap- tain thus describes this crisis. Captain Irby says: "When she (the Arethuse) bore up, having the advantage of being able to do so, leaving us in an ungovernable state, &c." Captain J5ouvet says : "At eleven o'clock the fire ceased on both sides ; \ve were no longer within fair gun-shot, and the enemy, crowding sail, abandoned to us the field of battle." " A onze lieures, le feu cessa de part et d'autre ; nous n'etions plus a bonne port^e, et 1'ermemi se coiivrit de voiles, nous abandonnant le champ de battaille." 1

 

The damages of the Amelia, although, chiefly on account of the smooth state of the sea, they did not include a single fallen spar, were very serious ; the frigate's masts and yards being all badly wounded, her rigging of every sort cut to pieces, and her hull much shattered. But her loss of men will best show how much the Amelia had suffered. Of her proper crew of 265 men, and 30 (including, as if 18 were not already enough, 12 esta- blished supernumerary) boys, and her 54 supernumerary men and boys, composed chiefly of the Daring's crew, the Amelia and her three lieutenants (already named), second-lieutenant of marines (Robert G. Grainger), Lieutenant Pascoe, late com- mander of the Daring, one midshipman (Charles Kennicott), the purser of the Thais (John Bogue, of his second wound), 29 sea- men, seven marines, and three boys killed, her captain (severely). Lieutenant Reeve, invalided from the Kangaroo sloop, the master (already named), first-lieutenant of marines (John Simpson), purser (John Collman), boatswain (John Parkinson, dangerously), one master's mate (Edward Eobinson), four mid- shipmen (George Albert Rix, Thomas D. Buckle, George Thomas Gooch, and Arthur Beever), 56 seamen (two mortally), 25 marines (three mortally), and three boys wounded ; total, 51 killed and died of their wounds, and 90 wounded, dangerously, severely, and slightly. The Arethuse, as well as her opponent, left off action with her masts standing ; but they were all more or less wounded, and her rigging was much cut. Her hull must also have suf- fered considerably ; as her acknowledged loss, out of a crew, including the boat's crew of the Rubis, of at least 340 men and boys, amounted to 31 killed, including 11 of her officers, and 74 wounded, including nearly the whole of her remaining officers. The guns of the Amelia (late French Proserpine) were the same as those mounted by the Java, with an additional pair of 32-pounder carronades, or 48 guns in all. The guns of the Arethuse were the same, in number and caliber, as the Java mounted when captured as the French Renommee. 2 Although 1 Mon. April 29. An English translator " We were no longer in good condition. ' of Captain Bouvet's letter has rendered See Naval Chronicle, vol. xxfx., p. 385, " Nous nations plus a bonne porte'e " by 2 See vol. v., p. 290. the total of men and boys on board the Amelia would be 349, yet, it" we are to allow for the number of her men that were unable to attend their quarters, and for the feeble state of many of the remainder, among whom, including the Daring's, there were nearly 40 boys, 300 will be an ample allowance. The Arethuse has been represented to have had a crew of 375 or 380 men. but we do not believe she had a man more of her proper crew than 330 ; making, with the boat's crew of the Eubis, 340.

 

The Arethuse was the sister-frigate of the Renommee : consequently the tonnage of the Java will suffice. Here was a long and bloody action between two (taking guns and men together) nearly equal opponents, which gave a victory to neither. Each combatant withdrew exhausted from the fight ; and each, as is usual in the few cases of drawn battles that have occurred, claimed the merit of having forced the other to the measure. But it must now be clear, from the Amelia's damaged state, that Captain Bouvet was mistaken when he said, that she crowded sail to get away ; it is much more probable, as requiring no other effort than shifting the helm, that the Arethuse, as Captain Irby states, bore up. Viewing the relative effectiveness of the two crews, one de- bilitated by sickness, the other, as admitted, in the full vigour of health ; considering that, although both frigates sustained an almost unparalleled loss of officers, the captain of one of them only was obliged to give up the command: considering, also, the difference in the numerical loss, 141 and 105, a difference mainly attributable, no doubt, to the fatigued state of the Amelia's crew at the latter part of the action ; we should say, that the Arethuse, had she persevered, or could she, being to leeward, have done so, would, in all probability, have taken the British frigate. In saying this, we are far from placing every French 40-gun frigate upon a par with the Arethuse ; she was excellently manned, and was commanded by one of the best officers in the French navy. The chief part of the crew of the Arethuse may, it is true, have been conscripts, but then they were conscripts of the year 1807, and were under an officer capable, if any officer was so, of making them good seamen. With respect to Captain Irby, his critical situation, without reference to the state of his crew, must not be overlooked. The Amelia commenced, gallantly commenced, the action, under the impression that another French frigate, also equal in force to herself, was, although out of sight, at no great distance off. If, then, there was a probability of the approach of the Eubis when the action began, how must that probability have been heightened after the action had lasted three hours and a half, both ships remaining nearly stationary the whole time, and the wind, when it afterwards sprang up, drawing from the east- ward, the direction in which the Eubis had been last seen? In addition to all this, the Amelia had on board a considerable quantity of gold dust, belonging to merchants in England. Upon the whole, therefore, both frigates behaved most bravely ; and, although he had no trophy to show, each captain did more to support the character of his nation than many an officer who has been decorated with the chaplet of victory. Previously to quitting the action of the Amelia and Arethuse, we would request the boasters in the United States of America to compare the execution here done by an 18-pounder French frigate, with the best performance of one of their huge 24-pounder frigates : bearing in mind, that it was done against an opponent, not only equal to herself in force, but equally able to manoeuvre by the possession of her masts ; that it was done in a fair side- to-side action, neither frigate, during the three hours and a half's engagement, having had an opportunity to give one raking fire. It will, no doubt, also strike Commodores Decatur and Bainbridge, that, so far from constantly evading the close assaults of his antagonists, Captain Bouvet remained nearly in the same position from the commencement of the battle to its termination. Both frigates found ample employment, during the remainder of the night, in clearing the decks of the dead and wounded, and in securing their damaged masts. At daylight on the Sth they were about five miles apart, the Arethuse to the eastward of the Amelia, and both nearly becalmed. On a light breeze springing up, the Amelia, having bent a new foresail and fore- topsail, made sail before it to the southward, on her way to Madeira and England ; and the Arethuse stood back to Isle de Los, to see what had become of Captain Ollivier and his people On the morning of the 10th the Arethuse was joined by the Serra, with the late crew of the Rubis, stated then to consist of 300 men. Taking half the number on board his frigate, Captain Eouvet, with the Serra in tow, steered for France. On reaching the latitude of Madeira, however, Captain Bouvet removed every man out of the Serra, and destroyed her, as she retarded the Arethuse in her voyage. On the 18th of March, in latitude 33 30* north, longitude 40 west, the French frigate fell in with and boarded the Mercury and another cartel, having on board the surviving officers and crew of the late British frigate Java ; and on the 19th of April, after having made in the whole about 15 prizes, the Arethuse anchored in St. Malo ; as on the 22nd of the preceding month had the Amelia at Spithead. Another pair of French 40-gun frigates had been nearly the same route as the Arethuse and Eubis, but, during a two months and a half s cruise, had not encountered a single hostile vessel-of-war. The Hortense and Elbe, Captains Pierre-Nicolas Lahalle and Jules Desrostours, sailed from Bordeaux on the 7th of December, 1812 ; and steering for the coast of Africa, anchored on the 4th of January between the Bissagot islands, a little to the northward of Sierra Leone. They sailed soon after- wards, cruised a short time off the Azores, and on the 15th of February succeeded in entering Brest.

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I pulled the following quotes out for those interested in HMS Java, the Constitution's second most famous opponent:

 

"The guns of the Amelia (late French Proserpine) were the same as those mounted by the Java, with an additional pair of 32-pounder carronades, or 48 guns in all. The guns of the Arethuse were the same, in number and caliber, as the Java mounted when captured as the French Renommee ... The Arethuse was the sister-frigate of the Renommee : consequently the tonnage of the Java will suffice. "

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11 hours ago, uss frolick said:

Yes, James wrote of it extensively! Glad someone is interested! 

 

I too find these accounts fascinating as they not only give insight as to the battles themselves, but also into the character of the men.

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I always read that the best frigates, other than the Americans built 1799-1804 approx., were French ships, captured and reworked by the British.

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