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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


M. Sercey and Two British 74s


but, owing to the smoke and to the flags not blowing out, did not understand it. The signal, which was for the Victorious to come to again on the starboard tack, remained up about ten minutes, and was then hauled down without having been answered.

The two leading frigates had now stationed themselves on the larboard bow of the Victorious ; and the remaining four lay from the beam to the quarter, at the distance of about 900 yards. The 74 sustained and returned the united fire of the six French frigates until 10 h. 15 m. a.m.; when, having received several shot in her hull, upwards of 40 of them between wind and water, had her three lower masts and bowsprit, as well as her yards and topmasts, badly wounded, and her rigging and sails very much cut ; and finding that the Arrogant, whose distance already was nearly a mile and a half, still continued to stand on upon the opposite tack, the Victorious attempted, with a light air of wind, to wear and rejoin her consort.

No sooner was the stern of the Victorious, in wearing, exposed to the enemy, than three of the frigates advanced to rake her, and, it falling a dead calm, continued pouring a destructive fire until 10 b. 45 m. a.m.; when, fortunately for the Victorious, a breeze sprang up from the northward, and enabled the latter to bring her starboard broadside to bear. At this time the Vertu, from the loss of her foretopsail yard, had dropped astern, and lay in the south quarter, and another frigate was observed to be sweeping and towing with boats in that direction. The latter was the Cybèle, proceeding, by signal, to take the crippled Vertu in tow. At 10 h. 55 m. a.m., this service having been executed, the French squadron bore up and steered west by north, under a crowd of sail; and at 11 h. 15 m. a.m. the Victorious ceased firing, the last of the frigates being out of gunshot.

The condition of the two British ships at the close of this long and tedious contest, as far as respects their masts, yards, rigging, and hulls, has already been described. It remains to show, what loss in men they each of them sustained. The Arrogant, out of a crew of 584, or thereabouts, lost one midshipman and six seamen killed, and 27 men wounded. Among this ship's damages should have been noticed, the disabling of one second-deck, and two lowerdeck guns, and the dismounting of one gun on the quarterdeck. The loss of the Victorious, whose established complement was the same as the Arrogant's, but who had sent away in prizes her first lieutenant and 90 seamen, amounted to 15 seamen and two marines killed, her captain, one midshipman, 48 seamen, and seven marines, wounded : making the total of loss on board the two ships 24 killed, and 84 wounded.

With respect to the damage sustained by the squadron of Rear-admiral Sercey, we can only gather, that three of the

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