P. and O. Company's steamer Canton

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Canton, 1849
Type: P. and O. Company's steamer ;
Notes:

29 Oct 1849 Hongkong Register,
THE COLUMBINE AND THE PIRATES.

28-29 Sep 1849 The P. and O. Company's steamer Canton, Captain Jamieson, returned unexpectedly yesterday afternoon about four o'clock, bringing despatches for the Admiral from Captain Hay, of H.M. brig Columbine, with seven seamen of that vessel, badly wounded, and we regret to add, the body of Mr. Goddard, one of the midshipmen, a most promising young officer - who expired about two P.M. on the passage down, from the effect of wounds received in an attack made by the Columbine, on a division of Shap-ng-tsai's pirate fleet, which will appear in its place in the following particulars.

The Canton left this on the morning of the 29th at three A.M., on a cruise northward, after the missing clipper Coquette. She spoke several fishing boats, but obtained no information from them. At 11 A.M. she sighted a fleet of fifteen large junks chased by a square-rigged vessel which turned out to be H. M. brig Columbine. On seeing the steamer, one division of the junks stood out to sea, the other in shore. The Canton observing serving the Columbine hauling in shore with the view of cutting them off, hauled in likewise, determined to render the most effective assistance in her power, to Her Majesty's ship, without in any respect compromising herself by any overt attack upon the enemy When the intention of the steamer (to cut them off from the shore,) was perceived by the junks, the whole fleet put about, and stood out to sea-several of the weaker junks having been previously reinforced by drafts of men from the stronger.

The steamer then took the Columbine in tow, and stood over towards a junk, which appeared from her size and equipment, to be the chief of the fleet. Upon getting within range the brig yawed, and poured in a broadside, which only took effect in the pirate's rigging. The junk then rounded to - returned his starboard broadside without doing any mischief - shifted his helm and gave his port guns with like non-effect.

Upon this the Columbine cast off and made sail in chase, the steamer following, but keeping out of range of the junk's guns. The chase made for a small cove in Hong-hai Bay, the Columbine keeping up a sharp fire upon her from her bow guns, which was returned, shot for shot, by the junk. The latter knowing the channel better, got safely through, into the cove, the Columbine having touched the ground outside was obliged to haul off. The junk having thus got into a land locked position, the brig's guns could not be brought to bear on her, upon which Captain Hay immediately ordered out his boats. While this was being done, two small forts upon the shore opened fire upon the junk, which was immediately returned, apparently without much effect on either side. By this time the launch and pinnace under command of Lieut. Bridges, first officer of the Columbine, were under weigh through the channel, to carry the junk by boarding. On rounding the point, a heavy fire was opened upon them, from the decks of the pirate, while she kept up, at the same time, a brisk cannonade upon the forts on shore. Mr. Goddard, a midshipman, in command of the pinnace, had by this time, in the most gallant manner, boarded the pirate, over her bows, followed by his boat's crew. On seeing one who appeared to be an officer of the junk, going down the fore hatch, he followed with a marine, when, melancholy to relate, the vessel blew up, the magazine having been fired - her own crew, supposed to number over ninety, with the whole of the boarders, being blown into the air together. One marine was killed, Mr. Goddard severely wounded and burnt, as well as the greater part of the boats' crews ; two seamen being missing on the muster being called. Mr. Bridges having boarded immediately after Mr. Goddard, saved himself and one seaman of the Columbine by jumping overboard at the moment of the explosion, pulling the man along with him. The wounded men were immediately picked up by the boats, and taken on board the Columbine - the junk being totally destroyed with all her crow, but one, now a prisoner on board the brig. Through information received from this man, it was ascertained that the pirate fleet was bound for a place called Tai-poon, whither Captain Hay determined to follow them.

Accordingly at 7 A.M. on the 30th, the steamer took the Columbine in tow, and in proceeded towards Tai-poon. On nearing that anchorage, it was ascertained from fishing boats that nine large junks had entered a place, called Byas Bay, and on reaching the entrance the two vessels saw a number of junks working up the inner waters, upon which the Columbine came to anchor in a position which commanded all the entrances. Captain Hay then despatched the Canton, with the wounded (7 in number) to this place, with letters for the Admiral, the Columbine remaining behind, keeping the pirate fleet under a close blockade. The Canton started from Tai-poong at half-past 11 A.M. and reached Hongkong at a quarter to 4 P.M. Mr. Mr. Goddard having died on the passage. The steamer hauled up alongside the Hastings and delivered her despatches, and the wounded men of the Columbine.

H.M. Str. Fury, Capt. Wilcox got under weigh as quickly as possible, and started about 6 P.M. to the assistance of the Brig. The Canton proceeded again this morning before daylight in search of the Coquette.