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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


Light Squadrons and Single Ships


frigates, including the Vertu and Seine, were much cut up in hull, masts, yards, and rigging. That the remaining three frigates also suffered in some degree, will be evident from the following account of the loss incurred in the action. The Vertu had nine officers and men killed, and 15 wounded ; the Seine, 18, including Captain Latour her commander, killed, and 44 wounded ; the Forte, six killed and 17 wounded ; the Cybèle, four killed and 13 wounded ; and the. Prudente, three killed and nine wounded : making a total of 42 killed and 104 wounded.

Of the force opposed in this action it may be sufficient to state, that the two British 74s were of the common or 18-pounder class ; the Forte, a frigate of 1400 tons, mounting 52 guns, including 30 long 24-pounders ; the Seine, Vertu, and Cybèle all large 18-pounder frigates, armed like the Virginie : and the Régénérée and Prudente, frigates of the 12-pounder or 36-gun class. Consequently, the superiority of force, especially in men, the numbers there being about as 10 to 19, was on the side of M. Sercey. Judging, however, from the relative loss of the combatants, we should say that, had the state of the weather, and other circumstances to which we need scarcely advert, permitted the two 74s to manoeuvre and act in concert, they would, in all probability, have captured two, at least, of the six frigates opposed to them. Unless, indeed, the French admiral had put in practice a well-concerted plan of boarding ; in which case, undoubtedly, his decided numerical superiority would have placed the two line-of-battle ships in great jeopardy.

After the action the Arrogant and Victorious, the latter in tow of the former, proceeded straight to Madras, and on the 6th of October anchored in the road. The French squadron steered for Isle-du-Roi, in the Archipelago of Margui, and anchored there on the 15th. Here the frigates got themselves thoroughly stored and refitted, even to the renewal of their damaged lower masts. They sailed thence in the early part of October, steering first towards the coast of Golconda, and afterwards to the eastern coast of Ceylon.

Having, while on this station, been led to believe that he should get all the wants of his squadron supplied at Batavia, Rear-admiral Sercey proceeded thither ; particularly as the Vertu, Seine, and another of the frigates required large repairs in their hulls. The delay occasioned by this step detained M. Sercey in port at a very critical season ; and so far the action between his squadron and the two British 74s contributed to preserve from spoliation much valuable property in the eastern hemisphere.

Plymouth was this year visited by a calamity which will long be remembered by its inhabitants. On the 22d of September, at about 4 h. 30 m. p.m., the 32-gun frigate Amphion, Captain Israel Pellew, while lashed to the sheer-hulk on one side and almost touching the Yarmouth receiving-ship on the other, both of which

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