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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Cutting out the Chevrette 149

Ville-de-Paris, purposely sent by the admiral to take the command, proceeded on the enterprise; but, the boats not pulling alike, and the leading ones being too zealous to slacken their efforts, the detachment separated. In consequence of this accident some of the boats returned; while the remainder, having reached the entrance of Camaret bay, where they expected to be joined by their companions, lay upon their oars until daybreak on the 21st. The service being one that required darkness for its success, the boats now pulled back to their ships ; but the mischief was done; they had been discovered from the Chevrette and the shore, and so much of the plan as contemplated a surprise was defeated.

As a proof of this, on the same morning, the Chevrette got under way, and, after running about a mile and a half further up the bay, moored herself close under some heavy batteries, one in particular upon a point of land off her larboard and inner bow. The corvette then took on board a body of soldiers, sufficient to augment her number of men to 339, had the arms and ammunition brought upon deck, and loaded her guns almost up to their muzzles with grape-shot. The batteries, also, prepared themselves; temporary redoubts were thrown up upon the adjacent points, and a gun-vessel, armed with two long 36-pounders, was moored as a guard-boat at the entrance of the bay. Having thus profited by the discovery of the morning, the Chevrette displayed, in defiance a large French ensign above an English one. This was plainly seen by the three frigates, and served but to inspire their crews with increased ardour to engage, and with redoubled determination to reverse the position of the flags.

At about 9 h. 30 m. p.m. the boats of the three frigates, joined by the barge and pinnace of the Robust 74, numbering 15 in the whole, and containing between them about 280 officers and men, still under the command of Lieutenant Losack, proceeded a second time, to attempt the daring service of cutting out the Chevrette. Shortly afterwards Lieutenant Losack, with his own and five other boats, proceeded in chase of a boat from the shore, supposed to be a look-out boat belonging to the Chevrette, and therefore proper to be secured. The remainder of the boats, as they had been ordered, lay upon their oars or pulled gently, awaiting their commanding officer's return. Lieutenant Losack not returning so soon as expected, the next officer in command, Lieutenant Keith Maxwell, of the Beaulieu, considering that the boats had at least six miles to pull, and that the night was already far advanced, resolved, notwithstanding that the force was reduced to more than a third, or to less than 180 men, to proceed without him. He did so; and gave orders that, while one party was engaged in disarming the enemy's crew on deck, the smartest topmen of the Beaulieu should fight their way aloft, and cut loose the sails with their sabres ; and that others, who were named, should cut the cable: and he appointed one of

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