Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1812 Destruction of the Arienne and Andromaque 51

both sides, although a battery on the isle of Groix continued throwing shells. At about 9 p.m. a seaman belonging to a Portuguese vessel, which had been taken by the French squadron, having jumped overboard from the Andromaque just before she blew up, swam on board the Northumberland. At 10 p.m. the Arienne was seen to be on fire ; and at 11 h. 30 m. p.m. the flames burst forth from the ports and other parts of the hull, with unextinguishable fury. The Mamelouck was at this time on her beam ends, with her bottom completely riddled. Nothing further remaining to be done, the Northumberland, at about 30 minutes past midnight, got under way, with a light air from the northward, and accompanied by the Growler, stood out to sea. Being retarded in her progress by the calm state of the weather, the Northumberland, at 2 h. 30 m. a.m. on the 23d, witnessed the explosion of the Arienne ; and, before the day was over, a third fire and explosion announced that the Mamelouck had ended her career in a similar manner.

A fine French two-decker, with sails bent and topgallant yards across, in the harbour of Lorient, lay a mortified spectator of this gallant achievement, by which two French 40-gun frigates and a 16-gun brig were driven on shore and destroyed, under the fire of at least one heavy French battery, by a British 74 and gunbrig. Mortified, indeed ; for, in the state of the wind, the commanding officer of the port could do no more than send boats to assist in removing the crews of the wrecks. With upwards of 900 men including soldiers on board, what was to hinder these two frigates and brig, when all hopes of escape by running had vanished, from boarding a ship having a crew of about 600 men ? Even had the attempt failed, it is not probable that more than one frigate would have been captured : the other, in the confusion, with the brig, might have reached Lorient ; and certainly the loss of men would not have been by any means so great as was sustained by the grounded vessels, both from the fire of the Northumberland and Growler, and from the hurried endeavours of the panic-struck to reach the shore.

The two French frigates and brig, thus effectually destroyed, had themselves destroyed 36 vessels of different nations, and had taken the most valuable part of their cargoes on board. The frigates, in consequence, were very deep ; but, had they drawn no more than their usual water, they still could not have passed clear, as is evident from the brig grounding so close to them. We are happy to be able to state, that Lieutenant Weeks of the Growler, and Lieutenant John Banks, first of the Northumberland, were each promoted to the rank of commander, for the part they had performed in Captain Hotham's exploit.

On the 3d of July, in the afternoon, the British 16-gun brig-sloop Raven, Captain George Gustavus Lennock, while hauling over the Droograan, observed 14 brigs, of the French flotilla

^ back to top ^