she also had six brass 36-pounder carronades ; making the total of her guns 40. The complement of the Réunion, according to the British official account, amounted to 320 men ; but the number deposed to by the French officers, to entitle the captors to head-money, was 300. * Of these the French frigate, according to the letter of Captain Saumarez, lost 120 in killed and wounded ; but, by another account, the loss on board the Réunion consisted of 33 officers, seamen, and marines killed, and 48 severely wounded.
Neither the Réunion's six heavy carronades, nor the Crescent's eight light ones, were very efficient pieces: hence the difference in the maindeck guns of the two frigates gave a decided advantage to the Crescent. Under all the circumstances, therefore, it must be owned that, if the officers and men of the Réunion lacked skill, they were by no means deficient in courage. Many persons on the French shore witnessed the combat; and the Réunion's concert in Cherbourg, believed to have been the Sémillante, made an attempt to go out to her assistance ; but a contrary tide and the failure of wind, aided perhaps by the knowledge that a second enemy's frigate was in the offing, detained her in port.
As a reward for his services on this occasion, Captain Saumarez, soon after his arrival at Portsmouth, received the honour of knighthood; and, as a further proof how highly, the Crescent's performance was rated, Sir James was presented by the city of London with a handsome piece of plate. In addition to the reward bestowed upon Captain Saumarez, the Crescent's first lieutenant, George Parker, as he justly merited, was promoted to the rank of commander. The second and third lieutenants present in the action were Charles Otter and Peter Rye. The Réunion was purchased by the British government, and added to the navy, under the same name as a cruising 12-pounder 36-gun frigate.
On the 22d of October, at 2 a.m. the British 64-gun ship Agamemnon, Captain Horatio Nelson, while cruising off Sardinia, saw five sail standing across her to the westward, close upon a wind. These were a French squadron commanded by Commodore Perrée, and consisting of the
* This discrepancy commonly arises from an excess of numbers in the French ship's role d d'equipage ; a document to which the English captor naturally refers, in the first instance, for ascertaining the complement of his prize.
^ back to top ^