her comrades to do the same. According to the French commodore's account, this was, in order that the squadron might repair damages and be able to obtain the weathergage, an excuse, a contradiction in itself, for had his object been that which is stated, he mould have fore-reached upon the disabled Centurion and then tacked ; it certainly is something new in naval tactics, to bear up in order to get to windward.
The Cybèle made sail ahead, and, firing at the Centurion in passing, brought down the latter's mizen topmast and fore topgallantmast ; but, being herself much cut up in sails and rigging, and being also retarded in her flight by the calm that, as usual, had succeeded the heavy firing, was compelled to sustain an action, broadside to broadside, with the British 50. The Diomede, whose signal to carry all possible sail was about this time ordered to be made, but the flags for which " could not be found," lay at some distance to windward, firing occasionally at the Cybèle, as well as at the Jean-Bart and Courier ; but these ships, in obedience to their commodore's signal, soon bore up and joined the Prudente.
The Centurion and Cybèle continued closely engaged ; and at about 5 h. 15 m. p.m., the latter's main topgallantmast was shot away. Just at this moment a light air sprang up, and the Cybèle, taking advantage of it, edged down towards the Prudente ; who, with the corvette and brig, had wore, and was fast approaching to her support. At 5 h. 45 m. p.m., just before she joined the Prudente, the Cybèle's wounded fore topmast fell. Both the Diomede and Centurion had wore in pursuit ; but the latter had suffered so much in her masts, that Captain Osborne was compelled to put her head to the sea, to prevent them from falling overboard.
The Prudente, as soon as the Cybèle joined, took her in tow; and all four vessels, carrying as much sail as they could set, steered to the westward, followed and fired at, until dark, by the Diomede ; whose shot, however, in reference to any visible effect produced by there, appear to have fallen short.
The Centurion lost three seamen killed, or mortally wounded, the gunner and six seamen severely, and 17 seamen slightly wounded. The Diomede does not appear to have sustained any loss. The Prudente lost 15 men killed, and 20 wounded; the commodore among the latter, and his first and second lieutenants among the former. The Cybèle lost her first lieutenant and 21 petty officers and seamen killed, and 62 wounded, 37 of them dangerously. The Jean-Bart had one man killed, and five men wounded. The Courier appears to have shared the good fortune of the Diomede.
In reviewing the conduct of this action, we might be disposed to blame the Prudente for having prudently withdrawn herself so early from the battle, were we not afraid that the French would retort, by referring us to that ship's return of loss ; especially as contrasted with the entire state of impunity with which
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