|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Centurion with Marengo and Consorts
promptly answered the signal, cut her cable, and ran on shore ; * but the Princess-Charlotte, Captain John Logan, who lay inshore of the Centurion, kept at her anchors.
The flag-ship was suspected to be what she really was, the Marengo, Rear-admiral Linois; and her two consorts were the 40-gun frigate Atalante, Captain Camille-Charles-Alexis Gaudin-Beauchène, and 36-gun frigate Sémillante, commanded as before by Captain Motard. It is seven months to a day since we left Rear-admiral Linois, with a force a trifle greater than that which he now possessed, running from a fleet of unescorted Indiamen ; a fleet which he had weighed from Pulo-Auro purposely to capture, but which, under the able directions of Commodore Nathaniel Dance, put him and his squadron to flight. † The French admiral afterwards proceeded to Batavia ; where, or on the passage to it, he was joined by the Atalante. Taking in a supply of provisions, he steered for the Isle of France, and arrived there on the 2d of April, followed a day or two afterwards by two of his frigates, with a valuable prize. Here his discomfiture by the India fleet gained him the ill-will of General Decaen, who wrote to his government on the subject, and we believe, sent his despatches to France by the Berceau. After waiting two months and a half at the Isle of France, M. Linois put to sea with the Marengo, Atalante, and Sémillante. He cruised, first, to the southward of Madagascar, anchoring a part of the time, on account of bad weather, in the bay of Saint-Augustin : he then moved to a station near the island of Ceylon, where he took several rich prizes. M. Linois subsequently entered the bay of Bengal, passed Madras at about 20 league distance, and visited the roads of Masulipatam and Cosanguay: thence he swept the coast of Golconda, and arrived on the 15th of September off Vizagapatam ; not without an object, for he had, the day previous, when off Masulipatam, received information from some country-boats, that the British frigate Wilhelmina had recently sailed from that road, with an Indiaman in company, bound to Vizagapatam. It so happened that Vice-admiral Rainier had substituted the Centurion for the Wilhelmina; a difference which the French admiral, to his cost, very soon discovered.
At a few minutes past 10 a.m. the Atalante, which was the headmost ship of the three, was distant from the Centurion about half a mile, and all three ships now hoisted French colours. The Centurion immediately cut her cable, and sheeted home her topsails, which had been previously unfurled. This brought her broadside to bear; and the whole of it was immediately poured into the Atalante, then within the distance of 200 yards: at this time the Marengo and Sémillante were ranging up on the larboard quarter of the Centurion. At 10 h.
* This ship afterwards got into the surf, and was totally lost.
† See p. 252.
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