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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
by
William James
1807 Sir John Duckworth at the Dardanells 307

provisions of the Greek inhabitants, had been boarded by a party of Turks from the main and carried to Constantinople. A demand to have these lads restored formed the third stage of this protracted correspondence ; and a flat refusal to deliver them up completed the climax of insolence and barbarity on one side, and of humiliation and disgrace on the other.

On the 27th, in the morning, it was discovered that the Turks had landed on the island of Prota, one of the Prince's islands, and the nearest to the anchorage of the British squadron ; and that they were erecting a battery to annoy the latter. The marines of the squadron, under Captain R. Kent belonging to the Canopus, were prepared for disembarking ; and the Repulse and Lucifer, having been ordered to cover the boats, proceeded towards the island. The two ships, on their approach, began to scour the beach, with their grape, when, instantly, a number of Turks quitted the island in their boats ; and one boat, containing 11 men, supposed to comprise the remainder of all those who had landed, was captured. In the afternoon the discovery was made, that some Turks were still on the island of Prota. The marines of the Canopus immediately pushed off for the island, landed ; and, pursuing the Turks to a monastery with loop-holes for musketry, got worsted, with the loss of their brave commander and of several of their party. The signal having been made for assistance, the marines and armed boats' crews of the Royal-George, Windsor-Castle, and Standard, hastened to the rescue of their comrades on shore. A smart skirmish ensued ; and, in the height of it, an officer arrived from the admiral, with orders for the detachments to return on board. The different boats' crews reached their respective ships soon after dark, with the loss of two officers, and five petty officers, seamen, and marines killed, and two officers, and 17 petty officers, seamen, and marines wounded ; total, seven killed and 19 wounded.

Here was an enterprise that, had it succeeded, would have almost atoned for the imbecility and irresolution which had characterized every preceding act of the expedition. On the island of Prota, when attacked by the British, were two very important personages, General Sebastiani and the chief aga of the Janizaries. Had these men been brought on board the squadron, Sir John might at least have obtained, as the price of their ransom, leave to quit, what he so feelingly calls, " a sea environed with enemies," without harm to himself or his ships. A clever negotiator, indeed, might have effected a surprising change in the political views and intentions of the Sublime Porte.

It was not merely that the force, originally detached against the Turks upon the island of Prota, was inadequate to the purpose ; it was, that the small reinforcement afterwards sent had received directions " to bring off the Canopus's people, but to avoid being drawn into danger." These were Sir John Duckworth's positive orders ; and even his permission to Rear-admiral

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