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 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 her broadside, which only took effect in the pirate's rigging
The junk then rounded too - 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-hae 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 crew, but one, now a prisoner on board the brig. Through information received from this man, it was ascertained that the pirate fleet was bound ford 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 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. Captnin 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 close blockade. The Canton started from Tai-poong at half-past 11 a.m. and reached Hong Kong at a quarter to 4 p.m. 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. Steamer 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.
Services of H. M. Steamer "Fury" Against Pirates.
Our former Nos. have laid before our readers the o operations of the pirates in the Chinese seas, and shown what rapid strides they have made of late, towards rendering trade even when carried on in European vessels well-armed and manned, extremely hazardous. The Sylph and other vessels have doubtlessly fallen victims to these depredators, the fate of whose crews in the hands of these celestial murderers is far too painful to be dwelt upon ; yet, willing as we are, to give credence to the various rumours current regarding the numerical strength and armament of these pirates, we should have paused ere we admitted to our pages a narrative like that which we are about to lay before our readers, did not the source from which our information has been derived, dispel at once all doubt with regard to its veracity and faithfulness of detail.
We trust also that it will settle at once the imperative necessity of H. E. the naval Commander-in-Chief, who is now once again happily in our waters, taking active measures for their immediate and total annihilation ; should he not determine on so doing, our trade will become, ere many months, so hazardous, that but few will be able to venture capital so certain of destruction.
It would appear that H. M. steamer Fury, which gratified so many on Sunday the 30th ultimo, as she glided rapidly out of our harbour, picturing to the imagination the perfect coup-d'oeil of a man-of-war steamer (having during the night examined several large junks of doubtful character), discovered H. M. brig Columbine at anchor off the entrance of ° Bias Bay," whither she had tracked the pirates on the previous day. The Fury anchored in her immediate vicinity, about 1 a.m. on the morning of the 1st instant, where she lay until daybreak, when she weighed, and having taken the Columbine in tow, proceeded into the bay. At 8.30 the Columbine anchored on account of the water shoaling, and also in order the more effectually to cut off the retreat of the pirates should they have attempted to elude their pursuers by availing themselves of the numerous passages amidst the various islands that studded the bay on either side.
The Fury then proceeded onward, accompanied by the boats of the Columbine, with Commander Hay, who went in advance sounding, and the pinnace of H.M. ship Hastings, under charge of Lieutenant Luard, and forty marines from the latter vessel, and carefully examined the numerous inlets in this beautiful and picturesque spot, and many were the surmises, the while, that Chinese cunning and ingenuity had once again foiled the ardent desires of those emulous to show to these marauders, the punishment ever due to the evildoer.
A small fleet of sampans containing fishermen, soon, however. caused hope to return, by their informing the Chinese pilots on board the Fury, that some piratical junks had put to sea a few days previous ; but that at least ten were in a creek to the entrance of which they pointed. The Fury now proceeded with caution, and after another tedious hour a small inlet gradually opened, which at first only presented to the eye one large junk ; but as the steamer gradually opened it, sixteen junks appeared with colours flying and guns all ready for action, and whilst those on board the Fury were doubtful whether they (the Chinese) would rely on their old system of chicanery and declare themselves merely fishermen armed only for their own protection, and not of course for the destruction of all whom circumstances might throw in their path, weaker than themselves, these surmises were pleasingly dispelled by their opening fire ; thus becoming the attacking party, and commencing a quick and well directed fire on the Fury.
At 10.30 a.m. the steamer returned their fire, and the first shell set one of their nuumber in flames, shot after shot in rapid succession whirred over bead and several struck the ship, one raking and passing through the companion, after wounding in its passage one of the men at the wheel, several also passed through the paddle-casings, but although the direction was good, all fortunately were harmless - in the mean time the 32-pounders from the Fury were telling with fearful effect, some of the shot passing through several of the junks ranged in line, and those from her bow-gun, (a 68-pounder) went ringing through the enemy's craft and ricochetting along the beach afterwards, finally entering, sans ceremonie, their strong and well-built houses.
At 10 45 a.m. the firing opened from the farthermost junks, and another row on the right which also commenced a rapid fire ; matters proceeded in this style until 11.30, when more of the junks took fire from the shell which exploded in-board, and the exertions of the parties became now for the first time sensibly diminished ; within ten minutes from this period two large junks blew up with fearful effect on their neighbours as well as themselves, and these were succeeded by three others in rapid succession ; a shell now entered one of the largest, from the foremost 68-pounder, and she almost immediately followed her predecessors ; another also proved to be on fire and also exploded - their detachment on the right seemed now hors de combat; numbers might be seen jumping from the sterns of the still remaining junks against whom the grape told with fatal effect, - such as escaped, took to the hills.
A harrassing fire was still kept up from those on the left of the creek, (at this period the boats were dispatched under cover of the fire from the Fury, to inspect and see whether any fire-rafts were in preparation, and they returned at 4.30 towing out one of the smaller junks from the detachment on the right, which had been on fire but extinguished, and those on board were presented with a specimen of our would-be fishing friends. She was fitted to row twelve large sweeps on either aide, and mounted no less than seventeen guns mostly of English manufacture, some evidently of s very recent period, the best of those were taken on board, and are now in Hongkong. The vessel was afterwards destroyed. By two p.m. the firing on the part of the Chinese had ceased.
A party of marines were now despatched on shore under cover of the boats, to examine and destroy the various houses, and to prevent the descent of the enemy, who were watching on the summit of the various hills which surround this beautiful and well chosen site, whilst others of the force were busily engaged firing the yet remaining junks : this accomplished they returned on board.
The cool determination with which these delinquents descended the hills and attempted, nay succeeded in several instances, in allaying the ravages of the flames on their devoted craft, had it been exerted in a worthier cause, must have excited feeling, of wonder and admiration - shot after shot warned them away - grape and cannister did their work, yet still they returned to the task apparently undaunted ; their futile attempts even the deadly shell could not render apparent to them, and nothing save the presence of the boats filled with marines and small arm men, and repeated doses of grape from the boats' guns, could drive these men from their rash and foolhardy attempts.
The scene which presented itself, as night closed in was beautiful in the extreme - the small bay appeared one burning mass, the cracking of the burning vessels,, ever and anon interrupted by the low boom that announced the explosion of the separate magazines, (several exploding at distant intervals on board of each junk) combined with the report from the guns on board the devoted craft which kept up a constant fire as in succession they became red-hot, rendered the scene one which far surpasses our poor ideas of the picturesque - yet amidst a scene like this might be seen at intervals, the cunning, overreaching Chinese working stealthily, at the hazard of their lives, for the recovery of those articles most valued by those who make their livelihood by plunder - parties might be seen carrying off guns towards the mountains. The explosions of their vessels brought no fear to them - they knew that on them, and them only, their precarious livelihood depended ; they had ventured on the cast, and they knew full well they must
" Stand the hazard of the die."
What has been the result of this expedition ? One quarter at least of the pirate force, according to the best authorities, is already destroyed ; 23 junks, manned and armed, have been burned, together with four buildings. This, combined with the loss of all their stores and ammunition, and the destruction of at least five hundred of these desperadoes is a heavy blow. Two hundred of their guns have been either taken or effectually destroyed, together with well-stored magazines of powder, which, bearing the English stamp, must have been procured at Hongkong, Macao, or other marts in the East ; or, what is far worse, have been captured, in cases where none have been left to tell to the world the horrible cruelties enacted by these celestial barbarians, the mere retrospect of which causes all well regulated minds to shrink with horror from an abomination that has been, through the supineness of the powers that be, allowed to approach our very thresholds.
This pirate haunt (their naval arsenal in fact) which, be it remembered, is now proved to have been Chui-a-poo's, is situated in Bias Bay, an inlet within forty miles to the eastward of Hongkong, and there can now be no doubt that these crafty and rapacious villains are able singly to capture many of the merchant vessels at present trading to the northward, their daring in attacking one of the finest and best appointed steamers in H.M. Navy, is now beyond doubt, and whilst narrating the result, we can only attribute it to an all beneficent Providence, that so much has been effected with so little loss of life on the side of our gallant countrymen, and in conclusion we sincerely trust that the entire annihilation of these desperadoes will be effected with equal success.
Were the Chinese a race of beings to whom appeals to their senses were possible, the present must read to them a great moral lesson, - here we see a band of men termed by them barbarians, at the risk of their lives, ridding their coast of the destroyers of their commerce. Is it for their own emolument ? facts answer no ! - here thousands and ten thousands of dollars worth of property have been destroyed, nothing gained by the victors - yet nothing is taken - it therefore is not for tbeir own individual gain, but to evince their horror of those who by their nefarious practices outrage all law, and eventually become the victims of their own cupidity and lawless avarice.
We learn that one of the prisoners who floated alongside the Fury, and whose leg was shot away, the other having been much injured and since amputated, states that his name is Loo-sam and that he is a native of the Loochow country, and a carpenter by trade - that he worked at Chui-a-poo's dockyard, whither he went to work on hoard a junk there building on Monday morning.- after the steam boat came, he was at work when shot,- after he was wounded they (the pirates) threw him on board the sampan.- He stated that Chui-a-poo was the head man of the pirates - he, (Chui-a-poo) originally belonged to Checkchoo, - that Hong-maou-kop was his country, his younger brother is named Chee-sum, and is also a pirate chief - they both belonged to Shap ng.tsai's fleet and were implicated in the murders of Da Costa and Dwyer.
The 2nd of October was devoted to the completing of the good work so nobly begun on the day previous.- As the sun rose the picturesque pirate creek of Pinghoi presented a far different aspect to that which it did previous to the vomiting forth those messengers of destruction, which had effected their work of demolition so effectually a few hours before, still much remained to be done ; groups of men might he seen congregated on the hills armed with matchlocks and spears, who on the least relaxation of vigilance on the part of those already fatigued with the exertions of the day previous, descended, and recommenced their efforts for the recovery of their guns, and ere the boats had well reached the Fury at the seamen's dinner hour, small sampans were floated out of the creek and hundreds might be seen busily engaged attempting to recover the yet undestroyed portion of their armament - a party was now despatched under cover of our guns to effect at once their immediate destruction, and all being accomplished at sunset, the Fury gut underweigh and rejoined the Columbine, the pirates again descended from the hills and might be seen prowling over the now useless relics of their former power.
At day-break the succeeding morning the whole force again got underweigh in search of certain junks of which information had been received, but which proved to be either incorrect, or else the loud tongued whelping of the 68-pounder guns on beard the Fury announced her whereabouts too plainly, to be altogether comfortable.
SG & SGTL Vol 7, pp 40-41.
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