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1812 Sir Home Popham on North Coast of Spain 61

she altered the soundings five fathoms. And now, for the first time, I believe, was seen a ship at sea under reefed courses, and close reefed top-sails, with yards and topmasts struck. The sails all stood remarkably well ; and by this novel method, was saved a beautiful ship of the line, and 550 souls. I cannot find any man or officer who ever saw a ship in the state before ; yet all seemed surprized that they should never before have thought of it. Indeed it has ever been the prevailing opinion (perhaps for want of giving the subject proper consideration), that a ship with yards and topmasts struck was completely disabled from making sail, except with staysails." *

The British squadron, stationed off the north coast of Spain, to co-operate with the loyal Spaniards and guerillas in expelling the French from their country, was commanded by Captain Sir Home Popham of the 74-gun ship Venerable ; who had under his orders, among some other vessels whose names do not appear, the 38-gun frigates Surveillante and Rhin, Captains Sir George Ralph Collier and Charles Malcolm, 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Medusa, Captain the Honourable Duncombe Pleydell Bouverie, and 10-gun brig-sloop Lyra, Captain Robert Bloye.

In the middle of the month of June a small body of French troops held possession of a hill-fort at Lequertio, mounting three 18-pounders, and calculated to resist infantry, and another body, of about 200, was posted in a fortified convent within the town, the walls of which were impervious to any thing less than an 18-pounder. The convent might have been destroyed by the ships ; but as the town would have materially suffered, and as the guns of the Venerable made no visible impression on the fort, it was determined to erect a battery on a hill opposite to the latter, which the enemy considered as quite inaccessible to cannon and in that confidence rested his security.

Accordingly, on the forenoon of the 20th, a gun was landed, chiefly by the exertions of Lieutenant James Groves of the Venerable, notwithstanding the sea was breaking with such violence against the rocks at the foot of the hill, that it was doubtful whether a boat could get near enough for that purpose. The gun was then hove up a short distance by a movable capstan ; but this operation was so tedious, that it was at length dragged to the summit of the hill by 36 pair of bullocks, 400 guerillas, and 100 seamen headed by Captain Bouverie. The gun was immediately mounted ; and at 4 p.m. fired its first shot. It was afterwards so admirably served, that at sunset a practicable breach was made in the wall of the fort, and the guerillas volunteered to storm it. The first party was repulsed, but the second party gained possession without any considerable loss : several of the French troops escaped on the opposite side and got into the convent. In the course of the evening, the sea abating a

* See Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix., p-: 21.

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