Contents

Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1814 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 264

Sultane's main topmast went over the side ; * and the Astrea, having soon afterwards partially refitted herself, wore round on the starboard tack with her head towards San-Jago. At this time the Creole was not visible to the Astrea ; and the two French frigates were about four miles distant in the south-west, steering south by west. At 4 h. 30 m. p.m. the Creole was discovered under the land, standing into Porto-Praya bay; where at 4 h. 45 m. she anchored, and where, in about an hour afterwards, the Astrea joined her.

The principal damages of the Creole have already been related : her loss, out of a complement of 284 men and boys, amounted to one master's mate, seven seamen, and two marines killed, and 26 petty officers, seamen, and marines wounded. The Astrea, besides the loss of her mizenmast and the damage done to her rigging and sails, had her fore and main masts wounded, and was a good deal struck about the stern and quarter. Her loss, out of the same complement as the Creole's, consisted of her commander and eight seamen and marines killed, and 37 petty officers, seamen, and marines wounded, four of them dangerously and 11 severely; making the loss on board the two British frigates 19 killed and 63 wounded. The two remaining masts of the Sultane, and all three masts of the Etoile, were badly wounded ; and, that their hulls escaped no better is most likely, because the acknowledged loss on board of each, out of a complement of 340 men and boys, was about 20 men killed and 30 wounded, or 40 killed and 60 wounded between them.

Here were two pairs of combatants, about as equally matched, considering the character of the opponent parties, as could well be desired ; and who fought so equally, as to make that a drawn battle, which, under other circumstances, might have ended decisively. Had the Creole, having already witnessed the fall of the Sultane's mizenmast, been aware of the tottering state of that frigate's main topmast, Captain Mackenzie would not, we presume, have discontinued the engagement, simply for the preservation of his wounded foremast ; especially when the Creole's main and mizen masts were still standing, as well as all three of her topmasts, and when, by his early retirement, he was exposing to almost certain capture a crippled consort. No frigate could have performed her part more gallantly than the Astrea ; but two such opponents, as the one that had so long been engaging her, were more than she could withstand. Fortunately for the Astrea, both French frigates had seemingly had enough of fighting ; and the Etoile and Sultane left their sole antagonist, in a state not less of surprise than of joy at her extraordinary escape.

On the 26th of March, at 9 a.m., these two frigates (the

* The logs of the Creole and Astrea concur in stating it to have been the mainmast that fell, but both ships were mistaken.

^ back to top ^