|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Light Squadrons and Single Ships
Judging, from the course which the brig was steering when first seen, that her destination was the Seychelle islands, Captain Collier pushed for them ; and, at 3 h. 30 m. p.m., the Victor descried her late opponent standing in for the anchorage of Mahé. The Victor proceeded under easy sail till 7 P.M., which was just as it grew dark, and then anchored in 11 fathoms. The ship not having a pilot, and no one on board being acquainted with the channel, the master, Mr. James Crawford, though ill of a fever, volunteered to sound it. Accordingly, in the course of the night, a boat, in which Mr. James Middleton, the master's mate who had been wounded, also embarked as a volunteer, proceeded on the service; and, notwithstanding they were repeatedly fired at by a boat from the French brig, these officers would not desist until they had completely performed the duty upon which they had been detached.
Daylight on the 6th showed the Flêche lying at the mouth of the basin or inner harbour, with springs on her cables, and a red flag at her fore topgallantmast-head, the signal of defiance, as afterwards understood. It was not merely the strength of their position, or the difficulty of approaching it, that had actuated the French officers to hoist this foolish signal: the Flêche now mounted the whole of her guns ; which had not, it appears, been the case in the skirmish of the 2d. Soon after daylight the Victor weighed and made sail towards the channel; the narrowness and intricacy of which, added to the unfavourable state of the wind, compelled her to use warps and her staysails only.
So fine an opportunity was taken due advantage of by the Flêche, and the Victor became exposed to a raking fire, until, shoaling her water, the latter, at about 9 p.m., came to with the best bower. The British sloop soon recommenced warping, and continued it until 11 h. 45 m. p.m.; when, letting go the small bower with two springs, the Victor brought her broadside to bear, and instantly commenced firing. Between the two vessels an incessant cannonade was maintained until 2 h. 20 m. a.m. on the 7th, when the Flêche was discovered to be sinking. In a few minutes afterwards the latter cut her cable, cast round, and grounded at the bow on a coral reef: An officer and party were sent from the Victor to board her; and immediately the French crew commenced setting fire to their vessel. Another party from the sloop quickly followed the first; and the British then took possession and struck the colours of the French brig. Scarcely, however, had they succeeded in extinguishing the flames, than the Flêche fell on her larboard bilge into deeper water, and sank.
Out of her 120 men and boys, the Victor, in this second and, for the present, decisive affair, had not a man hurt. This was rather extraordinary, as several shot had struck her hull, some
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