Contents

Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1812 British and French Fleets 42

and two corvettes were discovered by the British 38-gun frigate Diana, Captain William Ferris, but were lost sight of in the evening. On the 10th, however, at 9 a.m., when close hauled on the starboard tack with the wind at north-east, the Diana regained a sight of the French squadron, then on her weather bow, 12 or 13 miles distant, steering the same course as herself, north by west. The frigate continued sailing parallel with the French ships, to watch their manúuvres, until 3 p.m. ; when the 74-gun ship Pompée, Captain Sir James Athol Wood, joined company to leeward. At 4 p.m. Captain Ferris hove to to communicate with his superior officer ; and, at 4 h. 30 m, p.m., the British 74 and frigate filled and made all sail on the starboard tack. Shortly afterwards the Diana, who still kept to windward of the Pompée observed two vessels on her weather beam, to windward of the French squadron ; the ships of which immediately bore up, under all sail, evidently to avoid them.

These two vessels were the British 74-gun ships Tremendous, Captain Robert Campbell, and Poictiers, Captain John Poer Beresford, chasing the French squadron, which they had discovered since daylight, when cruising six or seven leagues west-south-west of Ushant. At 11 a.m. Captain Campbell had detached the Poictiers in chase of a ship to the eastward, which proved to be the British 18-gun ship-sloop Myrtle, Captain Clement Sneyd ; and whom Captain Beresford, on joining him at 1 p.m., sent to warn an English convoy, then seen in the north-east, standing to the westward, of the presence of an enemy's squadron. At 4 p.m., the Poictiers having rejoined the Tremendous, the two 74s resumed the chase of M. Allemand, and were descried by the Diana, in the manner we have just related.

As the French ships, when they bore up to avoid the Tremendous and Poictiers, steered in a direction to cross the bows of the Diana and Pompée, the two latter, at 6 h, 15 m. p.m., tacked to the south-east. Soon afterwards the Diana lost sight of the Pompée in the south-south-east, and about the same time observed and answered the night-signal for an enemy made by her two friends to windward. The Pompée also observed the flashes of guns and rockets, which were the signals made by the Tremendous and Poictiers ; but it does not appear that she answered them. Towards midnight the wind shifted to the north-north-west ; and, at about 30 minutes past midnight, the Pompée suddenly discovered two ships in chase of her in the south-east. The British 74 immediately bore up and made all sail, altering her course frequently to avoid her pursuers ; one of whom got near enough to fire three or four shot at her. On this the Pompée started 80 tons of water, and then gained so rapidly upon the two supposed enemy's ships, that at daylight on the 11th they were no longer to be seen. In the course of the forenoon of that day the Diana, and in the evening the Bulwark and

^ back to top ^