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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1797 1798 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 248

Captain Jenkins thus raised two parties in his ship ; and it may easily be conceived by which he was abandoned in the hour of trial. The early fall of the principal officers, the explosion in the cabin, and the reported fire in the neighbourhood of the magazine, were turned to advantage by the cowardly and disaffected ; and the Ambuscade was lost, under circumstances discreditable to the ship, and to every one belonging to her. There can be no doubt that Captain Jenkins, and his officers, and several of the Ambuscade's seamen and marines, were brave men : they proved themselves so in the blood they spilt at their quarters. But what excuse can be offered for not having ascertained, by the customary mode of signals, the true character of the strange ship when she first hove in sight ? Had that been done, much confusion would have been avoided, and the Ambuscade might have obtained the weathergage, and thereby kept her adversary from boarding. Another ten minutes' cannonade from her 12-pounders would then, in all probability, owing to the loss which the fire of the first ten had already inflicted on the French ship, have totally reversed the issue of the battle. Why were the hammocks not brought on deck and restowed ? Of what use were they, if not to shelter the men from the enemy's musketry ?

After the action the two ships proceeded to Rochefort ; where, on the 20th, they arrived in safety. The rejoicings of the French were loud and general ; and who can say they were ill founded ? It was literally, that an English frigate had been captured by a French corvette. The executive directory, to express their sense of the merits of the action, decreed that there should be paid to the officers and crew of the Baïonnaise, to be distributed according to the prize-law, 3500 francs (about £146 sterling) for every long gun and carronade on board the Ambuscade ; and the government immediately promoted Captain Richer from "lieutenant," over the next step, to "capitaine de vaisseau." This, it will be admitted, was no more than he merited ; and; had the officer in command of the troops survived the action, he too would undoubtedly have been promoted. The Ambuscade was added to the French navy under the same name translated into French (Embuscade), but she was not, as stated in the Moniteur, "une frégate neuve," having been built as long ago as the year 1773.

Captain Jenkins and his surviving officers and ship's company as soon as they returned to England, were, as a matter of course, brought to a court-martial for the loss of the Ambuscade. "The court sat on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of August, on board the Gladiator, in Portsmouth harbour. At the expiration of three days of the most minute and patient investigation, a sentence of acquittal was pronounced upon the captain and his surviving officers, and the loss of the ship was attributed to many of the circumstances already detailed. Part of the ship's

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