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1808 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 26

ships. Impétueux, Captain John Lawford, and Saturn, Captain Thomas Boys, the l8-pounder 36-gun frigate Aigle, Captain George Wolfe, 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Narcissus, Captain Charles Malcolm, and two or three smaller vessels. On the 22d of the month this squadron lay at an anchor in an excellent harbour formed by the Glénan islands, receiving provisions out of some transports which had lately arrived there from Plymouth.

At about 3 h. 45 m. p.m. the 4-gun schooner Cuckoo, Lieutenant Silas Hiscutt Paddon, being about midway between the island of Groix and the Glénans, made the signal for an enemy in the south-east. The Aigle, from whose main top the enemy was also visible, got under way and made sail in chase, followed by the Impétueux and Narcissus ; but the Saturn was directed by telegraph to remain at anchor and watch the Vétéran in Concarneau.

The strange vessels were the two 40-gun frigates Italienne and Seine, standing close hauled on the larboard tack, with the wind from the north-north-west, and bound to Lorient. At about 7 h. 30 m. p.m., while passing the Cuckoo, Captain Wolfe directed Lieutenant Paddon to acquaint the commodore, then about two miles astern, that he should run between Groix and the main, in order, if possible, to cut off the two frigates, who were then closing with the island. For this purpose the Aigle made all sail, with the wind on her larboard beam, and, on entering the passage, was fired at by the batteries on both sides. At 8 h. 30 m. p.m. the Aigle got within half gun-shot of the sternmost of the two French frigates, both of which had just then rounded the north-west point of the island. After receiving a fire from the Aigle's starboard guns, this frigate bore up, and anchored under the protection of the batteries on the north-east side of Groix, near Pointe de Billery.

The Aigle immediately stood after the other French frigate, then standing directly in for Lorient. At a few minutes past 9 p.m., in a very dark night, Captain Wolfe got within 50 yards of this frigate to windward ; and after burning a blue light to show her own and the enemy's situation to the Impétueux, then coming up astern, the Aigle opened her starboard broadside. This the French frigate, who had now the dockyard's boats on board, and was standing right into the harbour, returned. As the Aigle was already in four fathoms' water, and, by continuing longer on this course, would soon be in Port-Louis road, Captain Wolfe resolved to board his enemy, and bore up for the purpose. Seeing the Aigle's intention, and being determined to defeat it, the French captain bore round up before the wind. By that manoeuvre the French frigate brought the Aigle astern with the latter's jib-boom abreast of her larboard mizen rigging; thus adroitly avoiding a mode of attack, which experience had shown was generally successful.

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