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Ville de Caen, 1812
Type: French lugger ; Armament 16 long 4 or 6 pounders
Propulsion: Complement: 75
21 Jul 1812 Captured French vessel "Ville de Caen" - see below
On the 21st of July, 1812, as the British schooner Sealark, of ten 12-pounder carronades and 60 men and boys, Lieutenant Thomas Warrand, was cruising off the Start, a signal was made from the shore of an enemy in the south-east quarter. The Sealark immediately made all sail in the direction pointed out, and after a three hours' run discovered a large lugger, under English colours, chasing and firing at two ships, apparently West-Indiamen, standing up Channel. As soon as the lugger, which was the Ville-de-Caen, of St.-Maloes, mounting 16 long 4 or 6 pounders, with a crew of 75 men, commanded by M. Cochet, discovered that the schooner approaching her was a cruiser, she quitted the merchantmen and altered her course to starboard, under all possible sail. Finding the Sealark gaining on her, the lugger shortened sail, and wore repeatedly to get to windward of the schooner.
Fearing the lugger might succeed and thereby effect her escape, Lieutenant Warrand gallantly ran the Ville-de-Caen on board, between her fore and main chains. A close and furious engagement now commenced, both with great guns and musketry, the privateer's men using a profusion of hand-grenades to set the schooner on fire : instead of which, however, the lugger set herself on fire. Seeing this, Mr. James Beaver, the Sealark's acting master, at the head of a few men, sprang on board, and almost instantly carried, the Ville-de-Caen, after an action, nearly the whole time sides touching, of one hour and 30 minutes.
The Sealark had her captain's clerk (John Purnel), five seamen, and one marine killed, her commander, one midshipman (Alexander Gunn), 17 seamen, and three marines wounded : a very serious loss, it must be owned, especially as several of the wounds were dangerous. The loss on the part of the Ville-de-Caen amounted to her captain and 14 men found dead on her deck, and 16 wounded, most of them severely. The gallantry of this little action obtained for the Sealark's commander that reward, the prospect of which is a never-failing stimulant to deeds of valour, promotion. The case of Captain Palmer of the Alacrity may seem to militate against this principle ; but, if we are rightly informed, and we see no reason to doubt our authority, he had his post-captain's appointment in his pocket when he began the action with the Abeille.