Indefatigable, from her superior sailing, was enabled to come up with the strange frigate ; whom the wind had prevented from steering for Ushant, otherwise she must have escaped. At a little past midnight the action commenced, and continued, at close quarters, both ships under a crowd of sail, during one hour and 45 minutes, The French frigate, by this time, had lost her mizenmast and main topmast, and was otherwise greatly crippled ; nor was the Indefatigable much less disabled, leaving lost her gaff and mizen topmast, as well as the use of her main topsail, both leech-ropes having been shot away.
Having no after-sail to back, the Indefatigable unavoidably shot past her opponent ; and, owing to the latter's masterly manúuvres, had some difficulty, in this dilemma, to avoid being raked. While the Indefatigable lay ahead, reeving new braces, in order to come to the wind and renew the action, the Concorde (the Amazon not far behind) got up, and took a commanding position under the stern of the French ship. Whereupon the latter, having four feet water in the hold, and being greatly damaged in hull, masts, and rigging, fired a lee-gun and struck her light, as a signal of surrender.
The prize proved to be the French 40-gun frigate Virginie, Captain Jacques Bergeret, a remarkably fine ship, and armed precisely according to the establishment of her class. The Indefatigable was a cut-down 64-gun ship, and mounted 26 long 24-pounders on the main deck, and two long 12-pounders and 18 42-pounder carronades on the quarterdeck and forecastle, total 46 guns, with a complement of 330 men and boys. Of these the Indefatigable, like the Artoise in the last action, did not lose a man. The Virginie, on the contrary, out of her crew of 339 even and boys, as deposed to by her officers, had only one less than is stated in Captain Pellew's letter, lost 14 or 15 men. killed and 27 wounded, 10 of then badly.
This statement shows that the French frigate, except in number of men, was greatly inferior to the ship with which she fought ; yet Captain Bergeret did not surrender until a second frigate was preparing to rake him, and a third approaching under all sail to join in the action. No one was more ready than Sir Edward Pellew himself, to do justice to his enemy on this occasion.
The Virginie, as we have already stated, was a remarkably fine frigate, and became, in consequence, a valuable acquisition to the class of British 38s. Sir Edward, however, had been misinformed when in his official letter he stated, that the Virginie
^ back to top ^