cap, while the air was filled with fragments of wreck in every direction, and the stump of the foremast was seen far above the smoke descending to the water." *
It has never been correctly ascertained how the fire on board the Boyne originated. One account is, that a part of the lighted paper from the cartridges of the marines, who were exercising and firing on the windward side of the poop, flew through the quarter-gallery into the admiral's cabin, and communicated with the papers and other inflammable materials. Captain Brenton thinks, that the overheating of the funnel of the ward-room stove, which passed through the decks, was the cause of the accident.
Among the British light squadrons cruising on the coast of France in the summer of this year, was one commanded by Captain Sir Richard John Strachan of the Melampus, having under him the 38-gun frigates Diamond and Hébé, Captains Sir William Sidney Smith and Paul Minchin, and 32-gun frigates Niger and Syren, Captains Edward James Foote and Graham Moore.
On the 9th of May, at 3 a.m., while these frigates were lying at an anchor in Gourville bay, island of Jersey, 13 sail of French vessels were discovered running along the French shore to the southward. The squadron instantly weighed and gave chase, with the wind off the land. At 6 a.m. the Melampus get near enough to fire upon the headmost vessels; but the whole convoy, except a cutter which escaped round Cape Carteret, ran close in shore, under the protection of two gun-vessels, the Eclair and Crache-Feu, aided by a small battery on the beach. The boats of the frigates, having assembled on board the Melampus, proceeded, under cover of that ship and the other frigates, to attack the convoy ; between whose armed vessels and battery, and the British frigates, as they came up in succession, a smart fire was maintained.
Opposed to so formidable a force, the French soon abandoned their vessels ; and the boats boarded and took possession of the whole convoy, including the two gun-vessels, each of which was armed with three long 18-pounders. One small sloop, on account of the tide having left her, was burnt ; the remaining 10, composed chiefly of ships and brigs, were brought safe off. One of the vessels measured 397 tons, and the average of the whole was about 180 tons. They were laden with ship-timber, powder, cannon, cordage, and other articles of naval stores.
In performing this service, the Melampus lost one petty officer and seven seamen wounded ; the Diamond two seamen wounded ; the Hébé, her surgeon (John Leggatt) and two seamen wounded ; the Niger, her second lieutenant (Charles Long) and one seaman wounded ; and the Syren, one midshipman
* Brenton, vol. i., p, 372.
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