William Sidney Smith; who, about a fortnight previous, had arrived from Smyrna in a small lateen-rigged vessel, which he had purchased and named the Swallow, and had manned with about 40 English seamen thrown out of employment at that port. Accordingly, on the same afternoon, taking with him the Swallow tender, three Spanish, and three English gun-boats, Sir Sidney proceeded to the arsenal, to prepare the combustible matter required for the occasion. The dock-yard gates had been judiciously closed and secured; but the people belonging to them had already substituted the three-coloured, for the white cockade. The galley-slaves, in number 800, were, for the most part, unchained, and seemed to view, with the eyes of freemen, the devastation that was about to be committed on the national property. Upon these men the guns of the tender, and of a gun-boat, were forthwith pointed; and they remained quiet.
During this period, shot and shells, from Malbousquet and the neighbouring hills, were falling around; and, although occasioning no material interruption to Sir Sidney's little party, tended, very happily, to keep in subjection the slaves, as well as in their houses, the republicans belonging to the town. As night approached, the enemy, in great numbers, descended the hill, and opened a fire, both of musketry and cannon upon the British : this was replied to, by discharges of grape-shot from a gun-boat, advantageously moored.
About 8 p.m. the Vulcan fireship, Captain Charles Hare, towed by the boats, entered the basin, and was placed, in a masterly manner, across the tier of men-of-war; her guns, which were all well shotted, being pointed in the direction best calculated to keep the enemy in check. At 10 p.m. the trains leading to the different magazines and storehouses, were, on a preconcerted signal, ignited; as was the fireship, although, by the accidental bursting of the priming, her commander nearly lost his life. '
The flames ascended in terrific grandeur; and the Vulcan's guns, on being heated, discharged their contents, for the last time, against the enemies of their country. The rapid spread of the fire, while it almost overpowered, by its heat, some who knew no danger in their duty, laid open to view, by its light, all who were aiding in the doubly perilous service. The enemy, having now distinct objects to point at, opened his batteries from every quarter; when, suddenly, a tremendous explosion, unexpected by all, awed into silence both the besiegers and the attacked.
Again the heavy firing commenced, and the painful discovery was made that the Spaniards, in their premature retreat from a service which they had omitted to perform, had, instead of scuttling, set fire to, the Iris frigate, which contained several thousand barrels of powder. The explosion tore the Union gun-boat to atoms, and killed three of her crew, including the principal
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