Captain Robert Philpot, cruising off Porto-Rico, chased into Lagnadille bay, at the north-west end of the island, the French letter-of-marque brig Buonaparte, carrying twelve 4-pounders and 30 men, commanded by citizen Pierre Martin, enseigne de vaisseau. Seeing several vessels at anchor in the bay, Captain Philpot, on the 15th, sent the pinnace and jollyboat, under the command of Lieutenants Charles Frederick Napier and John James Rorie to attempt to cut some of them out. The boats arrived too late to effect their purpose, but were fortunate enough to capture a Spanish brig, from Canana, in South America, to Old Spain, laden with cocoa and indigo, and mounting two 4-pounders, with 20 men.
On the 16th, in the evening, the same two boats, now commanded by Lieutenant Napier and Mr. Wood the boatswain, and containing between them 16 men, officers included, pulled into the bay to cut out what they could. On the 17th, at about 2 a.m., the boats arrived at the anchorage ; where they found the brig which they had chased in on the 14th, moored within half a cable's length of the shore, with her broadside presented to the sea, and protected by two field-pieces, and by one 18-pounder and some smaller carriage-guns, placed on the beach.
In spite of this formidable preparation, the British in the boats did not hesitate an instant, but boarded the Buonaparte on the bow, the French and Spaniards, who were all upon deck with matches lighted and guns primed, making the best of their way down the hatchways. By the time the boats' crews had cut the cables of their prize, the guns on the beach opened a fire on them. The third shot sank the pinnace, while she was ahead towing the jollyboat, but not a man in her was hurt. The Buonaparte was several times hulled ; but, a light breeze springing up from the land, her captors soon escaped with her out of gun-shot.
The prize was a fine copper-bottomed American-built brig, and had on board a valuable cargo, which she was carrying to Curaçoa. When the disparity of force is considered, the successful issue of the attack must be pronounced highly creditable to Lieutenant Napier and Mr. Wood, and the few seamen they commanded ; fewer than would have been sent, had Captain Philpot been aware of the force and preparation of the enemy. It is due to justice to state, that M. Martin, at the time his vessel surrendered, was not on board of her : he was on shore, lending his aid at the battery.
On the 15th of October, at 8 p.m., in latitude 44° 1' north; longitude 12° 35' west, the British 38-gun frigate Naiad, Captain William Pierrepont, discovered and chased two frigates ; which at midnight were ascertained to be enemies, and which were, in fact, the Spanish 34-gun frigates Santa-Brigida, Captain Don Antonio Pillon, and Thetis, Captain-Don Juan de Mendoza, from
^ back to top ^