Contents

Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1812 Destruction of the Arienne & Andromaque 49

Taleet. Meanwhile the Northumberland, eager to close, continued beating to windward between Groix and the continent, exposed to the batteries on each side, when unavoidably standing within their reach. At 2 h. 49 m. p.m., the wind considerably fresher than it had been and blowing about west-north-west, the Arienne, Andromaque, and Mamelouck, formed in close line ahead, bore up, under every sail, with the bold intention, favoured by the wind and covered by the numerous batteries along that part of the coast, to pass between the Northumberland and the shore.

The British 74 immediately stood in as close as she could to Pointe de Pierre-Laye, and there, with her head to the shore and main topsail shivering, took her station, ready to meet the frigates ; but these hauled so very close round the point, following the direction of the coast to the eastward of it, that Captain Hotham, being ignorant of the depth of water so near the shore, did not think it practicable, consistent with the safety of the Northumberland, whose draught of water was nearly 25 feet, to lay the leading frigate aboard, as had been his intention. The Northumberland therefore bore up, and, steering parallel to the French squadron, at the distance of about 400 yards, opened her broadside ; receiving in return, as well from the two frigates, as from three batteries on the coast, a very animated and well directed fire.

Captain Hotham's object now being to prevent the French frigates from hauling outside the dry rock Graul, the Northumberland had not only to steer sufficiently near to that rock, to leave her opponents no room to pass between it and her, but to avoid running on it herself: a most difficult and anxious duty, the clouds of smoke, as they drifted ahead of the ship, totally obscuring the rock from view. However, by the care and attention of Mr. Hugh Stewart, the master, the Northumberland passed the rock, within the distance of her own length, on the south-west side, in a quarter less than seven fathoms' water ; and the two French frigates and brig, as their only alternative, were obliged to steer inside of it. Here there was not water enough to float them ; and at 3 h. 45 m. P. M, the two frigates, and in five minutes afterwards the brig, grounded, under every sail, upon the ridge of rocks extending from the Graul to the shore.

The Arienne lay nearest to the main land ; the Mamelouck in a transverse direction upon that frigate's starboard bow, and the Andromaque ahead of, and considerably without, both her consorts. Having, in the course of a 21 minutes' cannonade, had her sails and rigging considerably damaged, the Northumberland now left the two frigates and brig to the effects of the falling tide, it being then one quarter ebb, and hauled off to repair her rigging and shift her fore topsail, which had been rendered entirely useless.

^ back to top ^