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1808 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 22

owing to the high firing of the Piémontaise, amounted to only three seamen slightly wounded, made sail in chase, and by daylight on the 7th had so gained upon the French frigate, that the latter, seeing a renewal of the engagement was unavoidable, hoisted her colours and wore, in order to bring her broadside to bear.

At 6 h. 20 m. a.m., being within half a mile of the San-Fiorenzo, who had also wore, the Piémontaise fired her broadside, and the action recommenced, the two frigates gradually closing to a quarter of a mile. The fire was constant and well-directed on both sides, until 8 h. 5 m. a.m., when that of the French frigate visibly slackened. At 8 h. 15 m., having discharged her whole broadside, the Piémontaise ceased firing, and made sail before the wind, leaving the San-Fiorenzo with her maintopsail yard shot through,* main royal-mast shot away, both main topmast-stays, the spring-stay, and the greater part of the standing and running rigging and sails, cut to pieces, and therefore not in a condition for an immediate chase. Under these circumstances, the fire of the British frigate could only continue while her retreating opponent remained within gun-shot. The San-Fiorenzo's loss, by the morning's action, amounted to eight seamen and marines killed and 14 wounded. The remainder of the day was occupied by the San-Fiorenzo in repairing her damages, and in a vain pursuit of the Piémontaise, who crowded sail to the eastward, and at 9 p.m. disappeared.

At midnight the French frigate again showed herself, bearing east, and at daylight on the 8th was about four leagues distant. At 9 a.m., being perfectly refitted, the San-Fiorenzo bore up under all sail. At noon the Piémontaise hoisted a Dutch jack but at 2 h. 15 m. p.m. changed it to an English ensign. The San-Fiorenzo was now fast approaching ; nor did the Piémontaise avoid the British frigate until the latter hauled athwart her stern, in order to gain the weathergage and bring on a close action. To frustrate this manoeuvre, the French frigate, who now appeared with her proper colours, hauled up also, and made all sail. Perceiving, however, that the superior sailing of the San-Fiorenzo rendered a battle unavoidable, the Piémontaise tacked ; and at 4 p.m. † the two frigates, when passing each other, on opposite tacks, at the distance of not more than 80 yards, reopened their fire.

In the second broadside from the French frigate a grape-shot killed Captain Hardinge; whereupon the command of the San-Fiorenzo devolved upon Lieutenant William Dawson. As soon as she had got abaft her opponent's beam, the Piémontaise wore; and at 5h. 49 m. p.m., after a well-fought action, one hour and one hour and

* So says Lieutenant Dawson's officer letter, but the log says : fore-top-sail-yard shot in two."

† According to the San-Fiorenzo's log ; but the Gazette says " three. "

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