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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


British and French Fleets


officers and 30 privates of artillery, with some ordnance-stores and intrenching tools.

With this force, on the 2d of April, Lord Hood again set sail for, and on the 4th arrived at, the anchorage before Bastia. On the same evening the troops, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Vilettes, with the guns, mortars, and ordnance-stores, and also a detachment of seamen commanded by Captain Horatio Nelson of the Agamemnon, were, under the able superintendence of the latter, disembarked at a spot a little to the northward of the town. The total of the combined forces, when landed, amounted to 1243 officers and men, exclusive of the Corsicans, under General Paoli, in number about the same ; and the number of French and Corsican troops in garrison at Bastia was, as it afterwards appeared, 3000. Lord Hood moored his fleet, in the form of a crescent, just out of reach of the enemy's guns, the Fortitude, Captain Young, being stationed as the centre ship ; while the harbour's mouth was effectually guarded by Captain Benjamin Hallowell, with a flotilla of gun-boats and armed launches. As the enemy had magazines of provisions and stores on the island of Capraïa, the recently captured frigate Impérieuse, Captain William Wolseley, was despatched thither, and prevented the republicans from making any use of them.

On the 11th the British batteries, which had been erected on several commanding heights, being ready to be opened, Lord Hood sent a written summons to the town ; but which the French general, Lacombe-Saint-Michel, would not even read. At the appointed signal, therefore, the batteries, consisting of five 24-pounders, two 13, and two 10-inch mortars, and two heavy carronades, commenced their fire upon the enemy's works, and were promptly answered by the numerous guns with which the latter were crowned. The Proselyte, mounting 12-pounders (a frigate-bomb, brought away from Toulon), and commanded by Captain Walter Serocold, was directed to be placed as a floating-battery against a part of the town ; but, on her coming to anchor, the swell cast her the wrong way, and she became exposed, in consequence, to a dreadful fire from the enemy's forts. The French fired nothing but hot shot at her ; and several of these, lodging among the casks and other inflammable stuff in the hold, set the ship on fire. Captain Serocold, having made the signal of distress, continued firing upon the town, till the boats from the squadron were alongside ; when he and his crew quitted the Proselyte, and the latter, shortly afterwards, was consumed by the flames.

At length, on the 21st of May, after a siege of 37, and a negotiation of four days, the town and citadel of Bastia, with the several posts upon the neighbouring heights, surrendered, on terms highly honourable to the besieged; whose bravery, in holding out so long, excited the admiration of the conquerors.

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