|Naval history of Great Britain
||Calcutta and Rochefort Squadron
Calcutta and her convoy ; and to what extent he succeeded there we will now proceed to show.
Having taken the steps already noticed for the security of her convoy, the Calcutta made sail to intercept a French frigate, the Armide, of 40 guns, which lay upon her starboard bow, and was drawing up fast with the merchantmen. At 3 P.M., having passed ahead clear of the Calcutta's broadside, the Armide began firing her stern-chasers, and received, in return, the bowguns of the British ship. After a while, however, the French frigate shortened sail and allowed the British 50 to get abreast of her ; when both ships opened their fire, but without any material effect, owing to the distance preserved by the Armide, and to the Calcutta's leading off to the southward, to favour the escape of her convoy, then in the east-north-east. At the end of an hour, the Armide having hauled out of gun-shot, disabled in her rigging, the firing ceased.
This partial cannonade had brought down the whole French squadron, except the Sylphe brig, which had been detached after, and very soon captured, the creeping Brothers. At 5 P.M. the headmost line-of-battle ship, the Magnanime, began firing her bow-chasers at the Calcutta ; who still running under all sail to the southward with a light northerly breeze, discharged her stern guns at the former. Finding that the Magnanime was alone and unsupported upon his starboard quarter, and the 40-gun frigate Thetis at a somewhat greater distance on the larboard quarter, Captain Woodriff resolved, as the only chance, of escape left, to attack and endeavour to disable the 74. With this intent, the Calcutta put her helm a-port, and, as soon as she got within pistol-shot, commenced an action with the Magnanime. The latter promptly returned the fire, and the cannonade continued, without intermission, for three quarters of an hour. By the end of that time, having of necessity begun the engagement with all sail set, the Calcutta found herself completely unrigged and unmanageable. Her escape being rendered impracticable, as well by her disabled state, as by the near approach of the remaining ships of the French squadron, the Calcutta hauled down her colours.
The Calcutta had been an Indiaman, and, ever since her purchase in 1795, had been employed as a transport, until September, 1804, when she was fitted for sea as a cruiser, and armed with 28 long 18-pounders on the lower deck, and 26 cannonades 32-pounders, and two long 9-pounders on the upper deck. The Calcutta was a flush ship, and therefore had no detached quarterdeck. * Her established complement was 343 men and boys : of these she had six killed and the same number wounded. That the loss on board the Calcutta was not greater may be attributed to the high firing of the French ships, whose
* See this explained Vol i, p. 16
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