| ||Naval history of Great Britain
||LIGHT SQUADRONS AND SINGLE SHIPS || 140
Lieutenant Nicolas-Philippe Dehen, and by the brig-corvette Faune, of 16 long 6-pounders, Lieutenant Charles Brunet,* bore down, under English colours. † But, " says Captain Mudge in his public letter, " from the make of the union and colour of the bunting, with other circumstances, I concluded they were French. "
At 9 h. 45 m. A.M., ‡ having advanced still more ahead of her companions, and, as well as they, substituted French for English colours, the Topaze discharged her larboard broadside into the starboard quarter of the Blanche ; who, finding that she could not escape from her pursuers (having at the time very little copper upon her bottom), had shortened sail, and was at the distance of about 500 yards from the Topaze. As soon as the latter arrived within pistol-shot, the Blanche returned the fire, and the action continued with spirit ; all the vessels running large under easy sail, " the ships, " continues Captain Mudge, " never without hail of each other, the Département-des-Landes on the starboard quarter, and the two corvettes close astern." At about 10 h. 15 m. A.M. the Blanche attempted to cross the bows of the Topaze, and would probably have succeeded, had not the latter suddenly hauled up her foresail, and put her helm hard a-starboard. By this manoeuvre the Topaze grazed with her jib-boom the mizen shrouds of the Blanche, and, in passing under the latter's stern, poured in a heavy, but comparatively harmless, raking fire. The engagement continued until about 11 A.M. ; § when, having her sails totally destroyed, 10 shot in the foremast, several in the mainmast, her rigging cut to pieces, seven of her guns dismounted, and six feet water in the hold, the Blanche struck her colours. At this moment, according to M. Baudin's account, the Département-des-Landes was in the wake of the Blanche, the Torche within gun-shot on her starboard side, and the Faune farther off, " en observation. "
The net complement of the Blanche was 261 men and boys ; but, having 28 men absent, and being deficient of some others, she commenced the action with only 215. Of these the Blanche had seven seamen and one marine killed, her boatswain (William Hewett), 12 seamen (three mortally), and one lieutenant (Thomas
* Captain Mudge names this officer as commanding the Torche.
† The British official account makes the bearing down take place " at ten. " This must be another mistake ; for, if the French ships were on the Blanche's " weather cat-head at eight, on the opposite tack " to her, it could scarcely have taken them even as much as half an hour to get " abreast : " whereas, at the end of two hours, namely, till 10 A.M., the two parties, each steering an opposite course would have been many miles apart. This mistake is important, as it leads to several others in the minutes of the action that ensued.
‡ Here again occurs a variation, but it will be best explained when we come to the close of the action.
§ At noon, according to Captain Mudge's letter ; but as respects the duration of the action, the only important point, the British and the French accounts exactly correspond. See the preceding Note.
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