|Naval history of Great Britain
||Light Squadrons and Single Ships
to Barbadoes," he says, " I fell in with M. Baudin's squadron, cruising for our homeward-bound convoy. I fought the ship till she was cut to pieces, and then sunk. I cannot say what our loss is, as there have been no returns, the crew being all divided between the two frigates and two corvettes which engaged us. Twenty-one fell nobly within my own knowledge ; I am afraid many more. I thank God the Blanche never wore French colours. * Lieutenant Thomas Peebles, of the marines, was the only officer materially wounded : his legs were broken by a splinter. During the severe contest, the squadron was never without hail. I have the consolation of knowing they were so much damaged as to spoil their cruise ; they all stood to the northward as soon as repaired, leaving the passage open to the convoy under a 20-gun ship. " †
After what has appeared, this letter will require very few comments. We may, however, just notice the extensive application given to the word " fell," as well as the singular circumstance, that Captain Mudge should have had " no returns " of loss, when the late Blanche's surgeon was a fellow-prisoner with him on board the Topaze ; and when, three days previous to the date of the captain's letter to Major Fletcher, the surgeon had enumerated that loss in a letter to a friend.
One of Captain Mudge's " two frigates," by his own account, mounted 22 guns. Nor was the Département-des-Landes so large, or so well armed a ship as the Constance, which, in the year 1800, gave Captain Mudge his post-rank ; and which, had he fought a battle in her, he would have been very indignant to have heard called a " frigate." M. Baudin was not " on a cruise, " but bound straight from Martinique to France, and, besides being in the direct track to Europe, had made an excellent three days' run. The convoy, which did not sail from Tortola until 12 days after the Blanche's capture, was therefore not the French captain's object ; nor was the Proselyte its only protection, the Illustrious 74 and Barbadoes frigate being in her company.
We will conclude this case with stating, that, although she was " filling fast," at " half past eleven," the Blanche did not sink till late in the evening ; and not then, the wet state of her magazine preventing an explosion, until she had been burnt to the water's edge by her captors ; nor until they had removed every man of her crew, wounded and well, and, no doubt, as many of her stores as they required. Nor, even at this time, had one of her masts fallen. The surgeon says, that the Blanche, when she struck, had six feet water in the hold ; which accords tolerably well with Captain Baudin's expression, " Déjà de l'eau
* Nearly the same words occur in the official letter: " Thank God, she was not destined to bear French colour, or to assist the fleet of the enemy."
† See Naval Chronicle, vol. xiv., p. 186
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