|Naval history of Great Britain
||Cleopatra and Ville-de-Milan
Ville-de-Milan again set her mainsail and staysails, in the hope to gain the wind of her adversary, that being her own best point of sailing. Each ship now hoisted her colours ; and, the Ville-de-Milan seeming to draw rather ahead, the Cleopatra, when at the distance of about half gun-shot, fired her bow-chasers. An occasional well-directed fire in return from the stern-chasers of the Ville-de-Milan obliged the Cleopatra to steer more upon the latter's quarter ; a course which, although it prolonged the chase, became necessary, in order to avoid being raked by what were now discovered to be heavy shot.
At 2 h. 30 m. P.M., latitude at noon 29° 24' north, longitude 64° 20' west, just as the Cleopatra had got within 100 yards of the Ville-de-Milan, the latter luffed close to the wind, and gave her two broadsides. The former, as soon as she had approached to half the distance, returned the compliment, and a warm action ensued ; both ships trimming sails, and steering, sometimes close to the wind, and at other times about three points free, in which latter case the Cleopatra had considerably the advantage. At about 5 P.M., having shot away the Ville-de-Milan's maintopsail yard, the Cleopatra forged ahead, and this although the mizen topsail was squared and both jib-stay and halliards gone. Having neither fore nor main clue-garnets left by which to haul up the courses, her running rigging being cut to pieces so as to render it impossible to shorten or to back her sails, the main and the spring stay being shot away, and the mainmast supported only by the storm stay-sail-stay, the Cleopatra prepared to cross her opponent's bow, so that by luffing up she might rake the Milan, in preference to exposing her stern to the latter's powerful broadside. Just as the Cleopatra was in the act of attempting this manoeuvre, a shot struck the wheel, and the broken spokes, becoming jammed against the deck, rendered the rudder, already choked by splinters, totally immovable.
Availing herself of this ungovernable state of her antagonist, and of her own windward position, the Ville-de-Milan bore up and gave the Cleopatra her stem ; running her head and bowsprit over the latter's quarterdeck, just abaft the main rigging. Covered by a heavy fire of musketry, the French crew now attempted to board, but were repulsed. A continued stream of musketry from the Ville-de-Milan's forecastle and tops soon cleared the Cleopatra's decks; and all the resistance the latter could offer in return was by two maindeck guns, which, as their shot passed in a line with the Milan's lower deck, did very little injury. In this dilemma, with her principal sails shivering, or partly aback, and a ship more than a third larger pressing upon her with all the accumulated force of a strong wind and heavy sea, the Cleopatra attempted to hoist the foretopmast staysail and set the sprit-sail ; but the fire from the French musketry, and from the swivels in the enemy's tops, was too destructive to admit of its being done. At length, at about 5 h. 15 m. P.M.,
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