Captain Towry's precaution, was the shock, that it drove the Dido nearly athwart the hawse of the Minerve ; and, the latter's jib-boom being carried away by the former's main rigging, the bowsprit of the Minerve became locked in the mizen rigging of the Dido.
From the bowsprit, thus favourably placed, the Frenchmen, under cover of the Minerve's foremost guns and a heavy fire of musketry, attempted to board, but were prevented, as well by the pikemen on the Dido's quarterdeck, as by the violence with which the ships, owing to a great swell and hollow sea, were striking against each other. After about a quarter of an hour's contest in this situation, and when the Dido was literally hanging by her mizen rigging on the Minerve's bowsprit, the latter snapped short in two, carrying overboard with it, besides eight or ten of the French boarders, the Dido's badly wounded mizenmast. The wreck was quickly cleared; and, the colours of the Dido having fallen into the sea with the gaff, the signal-man, Henry Barling, with characteristic bravery, nailed a union jack to the stump of the mast.
As soon as she had thus cleared herself, the Minerve passed along the Dido's larboard beam, rubbing sides the whole way, and the mutual cannonade recommenced with vigour. Presently, however, the lower yards of the Minerve, hooking the leeches of the Dido's two remaining topsails, tore them out of the bolt-ropes; and the French frigate, continuing to range ahead, left the Dido almost a wreck upon her larboard quarter.
Having, owing to the Dido's position ahead of the Minerve, been prevented from firing into the latter's stern as she passed under it to assist her consort, the Lowestoffe now placed herself on the Minerve's larboard bow, about a ship's length from her ; and at 9 a.m. opened her fire, which, in six or eight minutes, brought down by the board the French frigate's unsupported foremast, also her main and mizen topmasts. About this time the Artemise, who, in running past, had fired an ineffectual broadside into each of the British frigates, hauled her wind and made all sail.
At 9 h. 15 m. a.m., the escape of the Minerve being rendered impossible, Captain Towry caused the signal to chase to be spread over the Dido's quarter. The Lowestoffe thereupon quitted the Minerve, and made all sail in pursuit of the Artémise, and the Dido, setting her only serviceable sail, the foresail, stretched ahead to repair her damages. The Artemise and Lowestoffe soon began exchanging their chase-guns ; but the latter, having unfortunately received a shot through her mizenmast, could not carry her mizen topsail. In consequence of this, the Artémise, gained upon the Lowestoffe so much, that Captain Towry, at 10 h. 30 m. a.m., made the latter's signal of recal.
At 11 h. 30 m. the Lowestoffe again closed with the Minerve on the starboard quarter, and soon opened upon her a heavy
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