on a cruise. Having received information that two French frigates, stationed at Cherbourg, had made several valuable captures, and that one of them usually quitted the port in the evening, stood across the Channel during the night, and returned the next morning, with what prizes she had picked up, Captain Saumarez, on the night of the 19th, ran close off Cape Barfleur, and there awaited this frigate's return.
Just as the day dawned the Crescent, standing on the larboard tack, with the wind off shore, descried a ship and a large cutter coming in from the seaward: she immediately edged away for the two strangers, and, in a little while, ranged up on the larboard and weather side of the ship, which was the French 36-gun frigate Réunion, Captain François A. Dénian.
A close and spirited action now ensued, in the early part of which the Crescent lost her foretopsail yard, and soon afterwards her fore topmast; but, putting her helm hard a-starboard, she came suddenly round on the opposite tack, and brought her larboard guns to bear. The Réunion, by this time, had lost her fore yard and mizen topmast, and became exposed, in consequence, to several raking fires from the Crescent. After a brave resistance of two hours and ten minutes, by which time she was utterly defenceless, the Réunion struck her colours; a measure the more imperative, as the British 28-gun frigate Circe, Captain Joseph Sydney Yorke, which, during the greater part of the action, had laid becalmed about three leagues off, striving her utmost to get up, was now approaching. The cutter, which was believed to be the Espérance, mounting 12 or 14 guns, had made off as soon as the firing commenced, and escaped into Cherbourg.
Both ships were a good deal damaged in their sails and rigging; and the Réunion, besides losing her fore yard, mizen topmast, and main topgallantmast, had several shots in her lower masts, and a still greater number in her hull. Almost the only shot that entered the Crescent's hull struck the apron, and set fire to the priming, of the forecastle 9-pounder on the opposite, or unengaged side ; which, going off, discharged its contents in the direction of some gun-boats coming out of Cherbourg.
The Crescent's maindeck armament was that of her class, as given at C in the table at p. 91, and her quarterdeck and forecastle guns were not, as we formerly stated, 14, but eight, carronades, 18-pounders, and two long 9-pounders, total 36 guns. Out of her 257 men and boys in crew, the Crescent had not a man hurt by the enemy's shot; but, in the very, first broadside, one of her seamen had his leg broken by the recoil of the gun he was fighting.
The Réunion, in her long guns, was armed the same as the Embuscade,* except in having eight instead of ten 6-pounders:
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