Contents

Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1813 Amelia and Aréthuse 189

and men together) nearly equal opponents, which gave a victory to neither. Each combatant withdrew exhausted from the fight ; and each, as is usual in the few cases of drawn battles that have occurred, claimed the merit of having forced the other to the measure. But it must now be clear, from the Amelia's damaged state, that Captain Bouvet was mistaken when he said, that she crowded sail to get away ; it is much more probable, as requiring no other effort than shifting the helm, that the Aréthuse, as Captain Irby states, bore up.

Viewing the relative effectiveness of the two crews, one debilitated by sickness, the other, as admitted, in the full vigour of health ; considering that, although both frigates sustained an almost unparalleled loss of officers, the captain of one of them only was obliged to give up the command ; considering, also, the difference in the numerical loss, 141 and 105, a difference mainly attributable, no doubt, to the fatigued state of the Amelia's crew at the latter part of the action ; we should say, that the Aréthuse, had she persevered, or could she, being to leeward, have done so, would, in all probability, have taken the British frigate. In saying this, we are far from placing every French 40-gun frigate upon a par with the Aréthuse : she was excellently manned, and was commanded by one of the best officers in the French navy. The chief part of the crew of the Aréthuse may, it is true, have been conscripts ; but, then, they were conscripts of the year 1807, and were under an officer capable, if any officer was so, of making them good seamen.

With respect to Captain Irby, his critical situation, without reference to the state of his crew, must not be overlooked. The Amelia commenced, gallantly commenced, the action, under the impression that another French frigate, also equal in force to herself, was, although out of sight, at no great distance off . If, then, there was a probability of the approach of the Rubis when the action began, how must that probability have been heightened after the action had lasted three hours and a half, both ships remaining nearly stationary the whole time, and the wind, when it afterwards sprang up, drawing from the eastward, the direction in which the Rubis had been last seen ? In addition to all this, the Amelia had on board a considerable quantity of gold dust, belonging to merchants in England. Upon the whole, therefore, both frigates behaved most bravely ; and, although he had no trophy to show, each captain did more to support the character of his nation, than many an officer who has been decorated with the chaplet of victory.

Previously to quitting the action of the Amelia and Aréthuse, we would request the boasters in the United States of America to compare the execution here done by an 18-pounder French frigate, with the best performance of one of their huge 24-pounder frigates; bearing in mind, that it was done against an opponent, not only equal to herself in force, but equally able to

^ back to top ^