|Naval history of Great Britain
||Boats of the Alexandria at Rio de la Plata
surrendered until she had made a few shot-holes in her opponent's hull, and had herself become in a considerable degree disabled.
On the 14th of August, at daybreak, the Isle of Wight bearing north eight leagues, the British fire-brig Phosphorus, commanded by Lieutenant William James Hughes, perceived approaching her a large French lugger, pierced for 16, and apparently mounting 12 guns. At 5 h. 10 m. A.M. the Phosphorus hailed the lugger, and was ordered in reply to strike, or that the latter would sink her. At 5 h. 20 m. the lugger laid the Phosphorus alongside, and, with three cheers, attempted to carry her by boarding ; but, notwithstanding about 70 or 80 men advanced to the assault, they were repulsed by the 24 officers, men, and boys, belonging to the British vessel. After lying alongside 45 minutes, and engaging altogether an hour and 10 minutes, the lugger made sail, and sheered off. As soon as the state of her sails and rigging would permit her to wear, the Phosphorus stood after her opponent ; but, losing ground in the chase, and having had her commander (middle finger off and severely wounded in the left hand), acting master (Thomas Esther), and six seamen wounded, one mortally and the remainder severely, with no surgeon or even assistant on board to attend to them, the brig bore up and made sail for the Downs.
Although brig-rigged, the Phosphorus measured only 115 tons, and mounted but four 12-pounder carronades ; one of which, soon after the action commenced, had its breeching and gooseneck broken. To have beaten off a vessel, so decidedly superior, in every respect, was a matter of just triumph on the part of the officers and crew of the Phosphorus ; and, for his very conspicuous gallantry upon the occasion, Lieutenant Hughes was promoted to the rank of commander. He also, we believe, received a handsome sword from the Patriotic Fund.
On the 22d of August, in the evening, the British 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Alexandria, Captain the Honourable Edward King, lying at an anchor off the port of Rio de la Plata on the Spanish main, despatched her boats to cut from under the forts in that harbour a Spanish polacre brig and garda-costa, which had for some time past materially injured the Jamaica trade. The boats were, the barge under Lieutenant Joseph Lewis, first of the frigate, the launch under Lieutenant Edmund Nagle, one of the cutters under master's mate Alfred Smith, and the jollyboat. Unfortunately, owing to the prevailing darkness, the boats rowed all night without being able to discover the place in which the vessels lay, and in the morning returned on board their ship.
Seeing a frigate at anchor off their port, the Spaniards expected an attack and prepared to meet it. The 10-gun schooner Gracieuse, acting Lieutenant William Smith, joining company. Captain King, on the evening of the 23d, again despatched
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