|Naval history of Great Britain
||British and French Fleets
being the avowed intention of M. Leissegues, as soon as that was effected, to set the two ships on fire. On the 8th, when, as it appears by the French accounts, all, or nearly all, of the crew of the three-decker had been saved, and all of the Diomède's, except her captain and his surviving officers, and about 100 of the men, the British frigates advanced towards that part of the coast. The Acasta and consort, by means of their boats brought away Captain Henry and his people, and afterwards set fire to and destroyed both French ships. In his third letter, Sir John states that Captain Dunn, to whom this service had been intrusted, " rescued all the prisoners (number not stated) from perishing through a tremendous sea. " The fact is that, although Captain Henry and about 150 of the surviving officers and men of the Diomède were made prisoners, scarcely half a dozen persons, and none above a forecastle man, were taken, who had belonged to the Impérial.
Considered as a naval combat, the action off the road of Santo-Domingo displays nothing very remarkable. It was simply that seven British two-decked ships, including one 64, after a running fight of two hours with one three, and four two, decked French ships, captured three of the latter, and drove on shore the remainder. It is as true that the Impérial was nearly a match for any two ships in the British, as that the Agamemnon was unable to cope with the weakest ship in the opposite line. But the French were totally unprepared, and, if some accounts dated from the city of Santo-Domingo are to be depended upon, had actually left on shore several of their officers and men, including their very admiral. The latter, however, according to his letter in the Moniteur, was on board his ship before the action became general. One of the private letters from the city of Santo-Domino states that, when the British squadron made its appearance, the French sailors were calking the sides of their ships : a circumstance which explains the half-finished and dirty appearance of the three prizes, of the Jupiter and Brave especially, when they anchored in the harbour of Port-Royal Jamaica.
On the other hand, the British had been, for weeks, anticipating this or a similar encounter ; and, so far from being deficient in general officers, three of the ships displayed admirals' flags at their mast-heads. With the exception of the noble manner in which the Northumberland closed with the three-decker, and the spirited conduct of the Spencer and Donegal, the British ships neither did, nor had the opportunity of doing any thing to distinguish themselves. As to the French they certainly displayed less than their usual gallantry and judgment ; but there is no saying that this falling off may not have arisen, in some degree, from the absence of Rear-admiral Leissegues at the commencement, and his apparently shy conduct at the close of the action. The Alexandre did all that a ship could
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