|Naval history of Great Britain
||Light Squadrons and Single Ships
The determined resistance of this corvette, the dangers of the shore, and the crippled condition of the Sirius, owing to the facility with which the smoothness of the water had enabled the French to use their guns, prevented the frigate from pursuing the remainder of the flotilla ; although several of the vessels appeared much disabled, and had been compelled, before the Bergère struck, to cease firing and make off.
The loss sustained by the Sirius amounted to one master's mate (William Adair), five seamen, and three marines killed, and one acting master (James Brett), one master's mate (John Robinson), one midshipman (Meyricke Lloyd), 12 seamen, and five marines wounded, nine of them dangerously. The loss on the part of the Bergère, which must have been severe, has been accidentally omitted in the official account.
Although the execution done to the Sirius shows the advantages under which these heavily-armed small-craft act in smooth water, yet, had it been daylight, the probability is, that more than one would have become prize to the British frigate. The gallantry of Captain Prowse in the affair derives additional merit, from the handsome manner in which he notices the good behaviour of M. Chaunay-Duclos, the commodore of the flotilla.
On the 21st of April, at daybreak, latitude 30° 45' south, and longitude 30° 5' east, as the British 74-gun ship Tremendous ; Captain John Osborn, and 50-gun ship Hindostan, Captain Alexander Fraser, with a light wind at east-north-east, were escorting a homeward-bound fleet of Indiamen, numbering 11 sail, the French 40-gun frigate Canonnière (late British frigate Minerve *), Captain César-Joseph Bourayne, was discovered to leeward steering south-south-west. Ordering the Hindostan by signal to lead the fleet, the Tremendous made sail in chase of the frigate ; who, having hauled her wind on the starboard tack, bore from the former at noon west by south, and the convoy south-east. Favoured by the lightness of the breeze, the Canonnière outsailed the 74, and would have weathered her, had not M. Bourayne, by the appearance of land ahead and to windward, been obliged to bear up. This, with an increase of the breeze at about 2 P.M., enabled the Tremendous to gain so upon the frigate, that at 3 h. 30 m. P.M. the latter, hoisting her colours, opened a fire from her stern-chasers, and received a return fire from the bow-guns of the 74.
At 4 P.M., finding herself closely pressed, the Canonnière gradually hauled up on the larboard tack ; as did also the Tremendous, keeping upon her opponent's larboard quarter, and firing her guns as they could be brought to bear. By occasionally luffing up, the frigate got her whole broadside to bear, and thereby considerably damaged the rigging and sails of the 74. The latter, notwithstanding, rather fore-reached upon the
* See vol. iii., p. 190,
^ back to top ^