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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1798 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 244

utterly worthless, with very few exceptions, as those of the Ambuscade ?

In the midst of the confusion consequent upon this disaster, the Baïonnaise made sail. The Ambuscade followed presently, and recommenced the action to leeward ; but, coming up with a crowd of canvass, shot far ahead. The Baïonnaise, by this time, had sustained considerable damage in her hull, rigging, and spars, as well as a heavy loss in officers and men, including among the wounded her captain and first lieutenant ; when, according to the French accounts, the commandant of the troops suggested to the only sea-officer remaining on deck, the probable success of an attempt to board.

The plan being concurred in, the helm of the French ship was put up, and the Baïonnaise ran foul of her opponent, carrying away, with her bowsprit, the Ambuscade's starboard quarterdeck bulwark, mizen shrouds and mizen mast, and unshipped the wheel. We are left to conjecture in what state the Ambuscade was, to have permitted this : at all events, the ship could not have been under command. The Baïonnaise then dropped under the Ambuscade's stern ; but still remained foul, having, by the fluke of her anchor or a grappling-iron, caught the latter's rudder-chain. The French troops, from the bowsprit, the head of which had fallen with the jib-boom and sprit-sail yard, now commanded, with their powerful musketry, the whole range of the Ambuscade's quarterdeck.

A smart fire, in return, was kept up by the remnant of the British marines. So much, however, to the disadvantage of the Ambuscade, that, in a very short time, her first lieutenant, Dawson Main, received, a musket-shot in his groin, and was handed below, where he almost immediately expired. Directly afterwards Captain Jenkins received a shot that carried away the top of his thigh-bone. He also was necessarily taken below. Almost at the same instant Lieutenant Sinclair, of the marines, received a wound in his thigh, and then another in the shoulder : he, too, was compelled to quit his quarters. Scarcely had he been handed below, when the master, Mr. Brown, was shot through the head, and fell on the deck amidst a heap of killed and wounded. The only surviving lieutenant, Joseph Briggs, had come out of his sick cot to take a part in the action : he was wounded in the head. After this, the command devolved upon Mr. William Bowman Murray, the purser.

The gunner now came on deck, and reported that the ship was on fire abaft ; whereupon the majority of the surviving crew, apprehensive of the magazine, quitted their quarters and went below ; where they remained, in spite of every endeavour of Mr. Murray to rally them. The alarm was occasioned by the explosion of some cartridges, carelessly left upon the rudder-head during the discharge of a gun through the cabin windows

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