|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Light Squadrons and Single Ships
the shot-holes. By midnight all was ready ; a kedge anchor had been previously laid out for the purpose of warping the lugger, but the moment the hawser became taut, it was shot away. Every thing now depended upon the boats, which were sent to take the lugger in tow, and succeeded, under a severe fire, in gaining their object, and the anchor was let go in a proper position. At three o'clock in the morning, the wind had entirely subsided, and the captain, almost hopeless of being able to save the ship, contemplated the probable necessity of being obliged to abandon her. With this view he caused the wounded men to be brought up and put into the lugger, destroyed his private signals, and prepared fires in the store-rooms, to be lighted at the last extremity. A fine breeze, however, springing up from the land, as the tide rose, revived the hope of saving the ship, and the wounded men were returned to the cockpit. The lugger's masts were soon after shot away by the guns of the batteries, over the gangway of the Minerve, At four, the capstan was manned, and many of the crew were killed and wounded as they hove at the bars. At five, the ship floated, under the most heartfelt cheers of the crew. It was considered as a certainty, that in the course of two or three minutes they would be out of gun-shot of the batteries, and consequently out of danger; but this pleasing prospect soon vanished. The wind again declined into a perfect calm, and the last drain of the flood tide carried the now helpless ship into the harbour, and laid her upon a broken cone. In this situation she remained until the top of high water, when she surrendered, after sustaining the fire of the enemy for ten hours, and having eleven men killed and sixteen wounded.
" Such was the state of her masts that, had there been a moderate breeze, they must have gone by the board. She was lightened in the course of the day by the French, and got off. The capture of so fine a frigate at the commencement of the war, occasioned great triumph, and was announced in the theatre at Brussels, by Buonaparte in person; who, addressing the audience, stated the circumstance in the following terms: " La guerre vient de commencer sous les plus heureuse auspices, une superbe frégate de l'ennemi vient de se rendre à deux de nos chaloupes canonnières.' The ship was called the ' Canonnière,' in order to support this despicable falsehood.
" Captain Brenton was detained a prisoner in France for two years and a half; many of his officers and men died in captivity. The greater part, suffering a barbarous imprisonment of eleven years, were not released till the tyrant was defeated on the plains of Leipsic, in 1814. A British sailor, who had both his legs shot off while the Minerve lay under the fire of the batteries, was carried to the cockpit. Waiting for his turn to be dressed, he heard the cheers of the crew on deck, and eagerly demanded what they meant. Being told the ship was off the shoal, and
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