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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I

1796

Light Squadrons and Single Ships

334

pounders and six pieces of smaller caliber), with a crew of 130 men, commanded by Lieutenant de vaisseau François Vega, 14 days from Toulon on a cruise. Captain Macnamara, taking the trumpet, cautioned the French commander not to make a fruitless resistance ; but the latter instantly snapped his pistol at the speaker, and the Utile fired her broadside at the Southampton. The frigate, backing her main topsail, promptly returned the salute. At the end of the third broadside, the Southampton, finding herself very near to the heavy battery of Fort Bregançon, hauled athwart the bows of the Utile, and lashed the corvette's bowsprit to her main rigging. Lieutenant Charles Lydiard, at the head of a party of seamen, then sprang on board, and, after a ten minutes' spirited resistance, during which the French captain gallantly fell at his post, carried the corvette. This dashing service was executed with the trifling loss to the Southampton of only one marine killed by a pistol-shot while standing near the captain upon the quarterdeck ; but the loss sustained by the Utile was of far greater amount, being eight officers and men killed and 17 wounded.

Captain Macnamara's next difficulty was to get clear of the batteries on the coast, particularly of Fort Bregançon, which immediately opened a fire upon the Southampton and her prize. At 10 p.m. the lashings that had held the two ships together were cut away, and they made all sail on a. wind. At 10 h. 30 m. p.m. the Southampton was obliged to take the Utile in tow, and succeeded after a while in getting out of range of the batteries, without any loss, or any greater damage than a shot through the centre of her mizenmast. The state of the wind and intricacy of the navigation, however, made it 1 h. 30 m. a.m. on the 10th, before the two ships could clear the passage and effect their junction with Sir John Jervis's fleet. The Utile was immediately commissioned as a British sloop of war, and Lieutenant Lydiard, with the necessary step in his rank, became her commander.

In the year 1795 the British government purchased nine East India ships, measuring from 1165 to 1434 tons, and armed them with 28 (some of the smaller with 26) long 18-pounders on the first, and 28 carronades, 32-pounders, on the second and only remaining deck. Subsequently the Glatton, of 1256 tons, at the suggestion of Captain Henry Trollope, appointed to command her, was fitted on the lower deck with 28 carronades of his favourite caliber, the 68-pounder ; * making her total of guns 56.

These 56 guns were more, by six at least, than the Glatton, although pierced for that number, could advantageously mount ; her ports, as was the case, more or less, with all the other purchased Indiamen, being too small to allow even a long 18-pounder properly to traverse. With respect, also, to the 68-pounder carronade, its muzzle was almost of equal diameter

* See p. 37.

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