|Naval history of Great Britain
||Light Squadrons and Single Ships
This plan was defeated, at a very early stage of the cruise, by a gale of wind off the coast of Scotland, which caused the separation of the two frigates. One of them, the Libre, on the morning of the 24th of December, when off the port of Rochefort fell in with, and was chased by, the British 44 gun frigate Egyptienne, acting commander (in the absence of Captain the Honourable Charles Elphinstone Fleeming, who was attending Sir Robert Calder's court-martial) Lieutenant Philip Handfield. At noon the 38-gun frigate Loire, Captain Frederic Lewis Maitland, joined in the chase, and at 3 P.M. brought the Libre to action. At 3 h.10 m. the Egyptienne opened her fire, receiving from the French frigate, as did also the Loire, an animated fire in return. In a very short time the Egyptienne ran the Libre on board, carrying away by the shock the latter ship's bowsprit and doing some injury to her own larboard fore-channel. Close quarters with such an antagonist as the Egyptienne, whose maindeck guns were 24-pounders, soon put an end to the contest ; and at 3 h. 30 m. P.M., after a brave defence, the Libre, mounting 24 long 18-pounders on the main deck, and 10 long 8-pounders and six (brass, we believe) 36-pounder carronades on the quarterdeck and forecastle, total 40 guns, with a crew of 280 men and boys, commanded by Captain Henri Descorches, hauled down her colours to the two frigates opposed to her.
The loss on board the Egyptienne, out of a crew of 330 men and boys, amounted to one man killed and nine wounded. The Loire does not appear to have sustained any loss ; and her damages were also very trifling. The Egyptienne, on the contrary, had the head of her main topmast shot away, her mainmast and bowsprit much wounded, and her rigging, and sails injured, particularly her fore topsail, which was entirely destroyed. The Libre, according to the representation of her officers, had 20 men killed and wounded ; and so badly wounded were the French frigate's three masts, that towards midnight, when the sea was high, they all fell over her side. In this state, with her hull a good deal damaged, the prize was taken in tow by the Loire, and arrived on the 4th of January at Plymouth.
The Libre measured 1009 tons, and was pierced to carry 26 guns upon the main deck; but, having been built since the year 1772, the prize was old and worn out, and therefore not purchased for the use of the British navy. The Libre's late consort, the Furieuse, was more fortunate than herself, having succeeded in entering the port of Lorient.
On the 28th of November, at 5 P.M., the British 16-gun ship' sloop Serpent, Captain John Waller, cruising off the island of Bonacca in the bay of Honduras, discovered two suspicious sail in the north-east or windward quarter. Considering it impracticable by chasing to close them before dark, and believing their destination to be the port of Truxillo, Captain Waller
^ back to top ^