Next Page

Previous Page
Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1806 Tremendous and Canonniére 235

Canonnière, and was meditating to cross her bows and end the contest by a raking fire, when, at about 4 h. 45 m. P.M., a well-directed broadside from the frigate shot away the jib-stay and foretopsail ties and slings of the 74, and brought her foretopsail yard down upon the cap.

In consequence of this accident the Tremendous dropped astern fast, and, having no immediate alternative, bore up and poured a raking fire into her opponent's stern and quarter, but at too great a distance to produce any effect. As soon as she had repaired her damaged rigging, the 74 again hauled up ; but the frigate had now got to windward, and was making so good a use of the advantage, that the few shot afterwards fired by the Tremendous could not reach her. At the time that the latter hauled up, the Charlton Indiaman, Captain George Wood, being ahead of the fleet, hove to and fired her broadside, but at so great a distance, that the Canonnière did not deign a reply. Captain Osborn continued the pursuit until 7 h. 30 m. P.M. when, the frigate having disappeared since sunset, the Tremendous hove to, in order to await the coming up of the Hindostan and convoy.

Except a few shots in her masts, the damages of the Tremendous did not exceed those already mentioned ; and, owing to the high fire of her opponent, she had not a man hurt. The injuries done to the Canonnière were of a more serious description. A shot had penetrated 16 inches into her mainmast, and cut the heart of it ; and her fore yard and mizenmast were also badly wounded. One of her iron 36-pounder carronades (of which the frigate had 14, with six long eights, making her guns the same in number as when recaptured from the British, 48) and two of her anchors were broken by shot ; she likewise received about 21 in the hull. Her loss, out of a crew of 330 men and boys, amounted to seven men killed and 25 wounded, including among the latter two or three officers. It is related of two " enseignes, " or midshipmen, named Prenet and Duplantos that, after being severely wounded, they went below only to get the blood staunched, and then returned to their quarters.

If any thing can add to the credit of M. Bourayne, for the able management of his ship, and his persevering and successful, defence of her against a force so superior, it is the modesty of the account which he transmitted to the minister of marine. No rodomontade ; all is plainly, yet minutely told, and, in every material point, agrees with the entry in the British ship's log. Fortunately for the cause of truth and the character of a brave officer, the imperial supervisor of official correspondence either overlooked Captain Bourayne's letter, or, having no immediate purpose to answer by altering the statements it contained, suffered the Moniteur to insert the letter in its original form. Captain Bourayne's account, however, was too insipid to be

^ back to top ^