Owing probably to the severity of his wounds, Captain Hamilton, in his official letter, has not given a very explicit account of an achievement that has done him so much honour. He does not name an officer as present in the attack, except the surgeon and gunner ; and yet be disclaims any intention of making an exception by saying, "Every officer and man on this expedition behaved with an uncommon degree of valour and exertion."
" In the month of April, 1800," says Mr. Marshall, " Sir Edward Hamilton, returning home in the Jamaica packet for the cure of his wounds, was captured by a privateer and carried into a French port ; from whence he was sent to Paris, where he was taken particular notice of by Buonaparte, who at length agreed to his being exchanged for six midshipmen." * Previously to his departure from Jamaica, the house of assembly of that island, with its accustomed liberality, voted Captain Hamilton a sword of 300 guineas value ; and, on his arrival in England after his exchange, the common council of London voted him the freedom of their city.
On the 24th of October, at 1 p.m., the British 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Orpheus, Captain William Hills, being on her passage from the island of Ternate, one of the Moluccas, to the Straits of Banca, discovered and chased two sail off Togolanda ; which eventually proved to be the Dutch India-company's ships Zeelast and Zeevraght, each mounting 22 guns of different calibers, and laden with rice, powder, shot, gun-carriages, and other stores ; the first having a crew of 42 men, commanded by Captain Pieter Janson, and the other a crew of 33 men, commanded by Captain Pieter Meuse.
At 3 p.m. it fell calm, and the Orpheus had to hoist out all her boats to tow. At 5 p.m., on a breeze springing up, the frigate cast off the boats, and made all sail, but did not arrive up with the ships until 8 h. 45 m. p.m. ; when, having one on each bow, the Orpheus opened her fire upon the two, and in a quarter of an hour compelled them to surrender ; the Zeelast with the loss of one man killed, and the Zeevraght of six men wounded. The Orpheus herself had also one of her best seamen killed while employed in the main top, and five seamen wounded.
On the 15th of November, at daybreak, the south-west end of Porto-Rico bearing north-east distant 10 or 12 leagues, the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Crescent, Captain William Grenville Lobb, and 16-gun ship-sloop Calypso, Captain Joseph Baker, having in charge a convoy from England and Cork bound to Jamaica, fell in with a Spanish squadron, consisting of the 64-gun ship Asia, Commodore Don Francesco Montes, 40-gun frigate (18-pounder) Anfitrite, Captain Don Diego Villogomez, and 16-gun ship-corvette Galgo, Captain Don Josef de Arias, from Santo-Domingo bound to Havana.
The two former of these ships being directly in the course of
* Marshall, vol. i., p. 827.
^ back to top ^