|Naval history of Great Britain
||Sirius and a French Flotilla
have viewed his opponent through a diminishing medium : they were never, in appearance, too ample for his grasp, or too powerful to be subdued by his skill and intrepidity.
We have had occasion, more than once, to complain of the (for such it is) criminality of naval writers, in garbling official accounts, with the view of enhancing the exploits of their countrymen. It is a contemptible practice, and deserves exposure, as well for the cause of truth generally, as in justice to the party whose statements have been misrepresented. M. Allemand, in his letter to the French minister of marine, and without which we should probably never have known who, as Lord Cochrane calls her, " our late opponent the black frigate " was, states, that he ordered the Minerve and the avisos, or brigs, attached to the advanced squadron, to weigh and attack the enemy's frigate ; and that he subsequently sent two other frigates to chase away the latter. " Alors je fis appareiller la Minerve, Capitaine Collet, avec les avisos de l'avant-garde. " " Je fis signal à deux frégates d'appareiller pour la poursuivre : " whereas, according to the account in a voluminous French work of acknowledged respectability, the Minerve alone was ordered out by M. Allemand, and alone, as we are left to infer, compelled the British frigate to seek her safety in flight. " Cet officier-général donna ordre à la frégate la Minerve, de mettre sous voiles en pour aller repousser la frégate ennemie."*
On the 17th of April, at 2 P.M., the British 18-Pounder 36-gun frigate Sirius, Captain William Prowse, while cruising six or seven leagues to the eastward of Civita-Vecchia, gained intelligence that a flotilla of French armed vessels was to have sailed thence that morning, bound to Naples. The Sirius immediately crowded sail in that direction, and at 4 h. 15 m. P.M. discovered the object of her pursuit, near the shore. The flotilla consisted of the ship-corvette Bergère, of 18 long 12-pounders and one brass 36-pounder carronade, with 189 men, Commodore Charles-Jacques-César Chaunay-Duclos, brig-corvettes Abeille, of 18 long 8-pounders and two brass 36-pounder carronades, with 160 men, Legère and Janus, of 12 long 8-pounders each, bombard Victoire, of 12 long 18-pounders and two heavy mortars, cutter Gauloise, and gun-ketches Jalouse, Gentille, and Provençal, each of four long 4-pounders and one brass 36-pounder carronade; making altogether 97 guns.
Soon after sunset the Sirius closed with the flotilla, which, formed in compact order within two leagues of the mouth of the Tiber, and near a dangerous shoal, was lying to, with that confidence which its strength naturally inspired, to await the attack. At 7 P.M., being within pistol-shot, the Sirius opened both her broadsides, and continued closely engaged during two hours, at the end of which the Bergère hailed that she surrendered.
* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xvii., p. 290.
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