|Naval history of Great Britain
||Capture of the Rhin
the same, besides a lieutenant and six men wounded, the lieutenant and one of the latter mortally.
With such incomplete materials for comparing the force of the parties, it is difficult to do justice to the merits of the case. The affair was undoubtedly conducted with great skill and bravery on the part of the British, and they reaped no inconsiderable advantage from the prizes they made ; two of which, the Vittoria, of 800, and the Batavia, of 500 tons, were richly laden with the produce of the Moluccas.
In the month of February, as already has been stated, four of the French frigates, which after the Battle of Trafalgar had got into Cadiz, succeeded in putting to sea, under the command of Commodore La Marre-la-Meillerie, and were as follows
||Commod. Louis C. Aug. La Marre-la-Meillerie
||Captain Michel-Jean-Andre Chesneau
These frigates, after the disgraceful loss of the brig that was in their company, * proceeded to Senegal, and thence to Cayenne ; at which latter port they arrived on the 27th of March. Quitting Cayenne on the 7th of April, they steered for the West Indies, cruised to windward of Barbadoes 15 days ; then proceeded to Porto-Rico, and, after revictualling there, set sail on the 18th of May on their return to France. On the 27th of July, at 6 P.M., when in about latitude 47° north, longitude 7° west, steering south-east by east, which was a direct course for Rochefort, the Hortense and her three companions were discovered by the 74-gun ship Mars, Captain Robert Dudley Oliver, the look-out ship of a British squadron of five sail of the line, under the command of Commodore Richard Goodwin Keats, in the Superb.
The Mars, making the necessary signals, which the Africa 64 repeated to the commodore, then far astern, wore, and, with the squadron, crowded sail in chase. The French frigates immediately set all the additional sail they could, and continued their course to the south-east. Soon after dark the Mars lost sight, as well of them as of all the ships of her own squadron, except the Africa, who was seen on her lee quarter till 11 P.M., when she also disappeared. The Mars now shaped her course so as to prevent the enemy from getting to leeward ; and, as a proof with what judgment she was steered, daylight on the 28th discovered the four frigates on the same bearing as on the preceding evening, but, except one, at a greater distance. Upon that one, which was the Rhin, the Mars evidently gained.
Observing this, and that the British 74 was entirely alone, the French commodore, with what appeared a proper spirit, put about, and, on joining the Rhin, formed his four frigates in line
* See p.214.
^ back to top ^