The boats of the two frigates were immediately despatched, under the orders of Captain Sir Edward Pellew, to destroy the two corvettes. This service, according to Sir John's letter, "was fully performed:" that is, Sir Edward Pellew, finding " there were from 20 to 30 killed and wounded in the Alert, and a greater number in L'Espion, and that it was impossible to remove the wounded to the two frigates," contented himself with bringing away 52 prisoners, and leaving the two corvettes to their fate; which fate, admitting that they were " bilged and scuttled," and that the rocks appeared through their bottoms," was inevitable. So Sir John Warren appears to have reasoned, as he immediately stood to sea with the squadron.
The French ships of war, thus " destroyed," are officially represented as
And this ostensibly important service, notwithstanding the additional fire from three batteries, of what force, however, is not stated, was accomplished with so trifling a loss to the British as six men wounded.
We trust we shall not be charged with hypercriticism, if we examine a little strictly Sir John Warren's despatch, announcing the destruction of these three French ships. The misnomer of the frigate is of little consequence. The correction appears in Steel. But neither the Félicité nor the Volontaire carried 18-pounders : they were French 36-gun frigates, and mounted, like all the others, long 12s, with a crew of 280 or 300 men. It is not even quite clear that any French frigate was lost on this occasion ; the French accounts, at all events, are silent on this subject. Neither of the two corvettes carried " 9-pounders : " their guns were 6-pounders, and their crews were not " 200," but about 140 men each. The Espion was not " destroyed," but was got off, and refitted by the French; and, to place the matter beyond a doubt, this small corvette (she measured only 275 tons), carrying " eighteen 6-pounders and 140 men," on the 2d of March, 1795, was recaptured by the Lively frigate, Captain George Burlton, and afterwards restored to her rank in the British navy. There is also some reason to doubt, whether the asserted loss of the Alert was not equally a mistatement.
On the 24th of August the British 74-gun ship Impètueux, one of Lord Howe's prizes on the 1st of June, and, with the exception of the Sans-Pareil, the finest and most esteemed ship among them, caught fire, while lying moored in Portsmouth harbour. The flames spread with such rapidity as to threaten the destruction of the whole dock-yard ; the inhabitants of the town were so alarmed at the ship's nearness to the powder magazine, that they fled in every direction. The French prisoners at Porchester castle, amounting to nearly 5000, evinced feelings of quite an
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