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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1806 British and French Fleets 216

with some loss, the possession of a redoubt ; but, for the, present, they gained no other advantage. The centre division, under General Massena, marched straight to Naples ; and on the 12th and 15th of February Joseph Buonaparte entered successively, by capitulation with the garrisons, Capua and Naples. In, short, before the end of March, the French had placed garrisons in Scylla and Tarento, and were in possession of the whole kingdom of Naples, except Gaeta, and Civitella del Tranto in the further Abruzzo.

On the 21st of April, while matters were in this state, Rear admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, having been detached by Lord Collingwood for the purpose, arrived in the Pompée 74 at Palermo, to take the command of the squadron assembled there for the defence of Sicily. That squadron then consisted, besides the Pompée and Excellent, of the two 64-gun ships Athenien, Captain John Giffard, and Intrepid, Captain the Honourable Philip Wodehouse, a Neapolitan frigate, one or two British frigates, and a few Neapolitan gun and mortar boats. The British army still occupied Messina, but, owing to the retirement of Sir James Crag from ill-health, was now under the command of Sir John Stuart.

The first step taken by Sir Sidney was to throw supplies into Gaeta, which he accomplished, under a heavy fire from the besiegers, landing, with a considerable quantity of ammunition, four of the Excellent's lowerdeck guns. Shortly afterwards, considering that the best means of co-operating with the Prince of Hesse in defending the fort, which he had hitherto with so much gallantry maintained, would be to draw off a part of the attacking force for the defence of Naples, Sir Sidney proceeded hither with the Pompée, Excellent, Athénien, and Intrepid ; leaving in command off Gaeta Captain Henry Richardson, with he 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Juno, Neapolitan frigate Minerva, Captain Vieugna, and 12 Neapolitan gun-boats.

The French having erected a battery of four guns on the point of La Madona della Catterra, the Prince of Hesse ordered 60 men from the garrison to be embarked in four fishing-boats ; and on the night of the 12th Captain Richardson, with the armed boats of the two frigates, landed the troops undiscovered in a small bay in the rear of the enemy's works. The French abandoned the fort as the boats reached the shore ; and the guns were spiked, the carriages destroyed, and the troops re-embarked, without any loss. On the 15th the garrison of Gaeta made another tolerably successful sortie, supported in the attack and retreat by two divisions of gun-boats, one of them under the command of Captain Richardson, and by the armed boats of the Juno under the direction of Lieutenant Thomas Wells, assisted by Lieutenant of marines Robert M. Mant. The only loss on the part of the allies was sustained by the Juno's boats, and consisted of four seamen killed and five wounded.

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