1794 - Capture of the Atalante


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


Capture of the Atalante


miles. At midnight, vainly hoping that the manœuvre would be unseen by her persevering foe, the Atalante chanced her course to the southward. On the 7th, at 2 a.m., the French frigate hauled yet more up, and the Swiftsure promptly did the same. At 2 h. 30 m. a.m. the latter commenced firing her starboard guns forward, and the action continued, at long range, until 3 h. 25 m. ; when the Atalante, being crippled in her rigging and sails, and having sustained, out of her complement of 274 men and boys, the severe loss of 10 killed and 32 wounded, struck her colours. The Swiftsure had her rigging and sails also cut, and lost one man killed.

The endeavours of M. Linois to save his ship from capture, and to disable his enemy from pursuit, were highly meritorious, and prove that, had he met, instead of a British 74, a British 12-pounder frigate, the Atalante, if conquered at all, would have been dearly purchased.

Scarcely had the prisoners been shifted, a prize crew placed on board the Atalante, and the rigging of both ships repaired, when, at 10 a.m., three French 74s, judged to be a part of M. Nielly's squadron, were discovered in chase of the Swiftsure and her prize. The two latter immediately separated, and steered different courses ; but it was not until 10 p.m. that the Swiftsure lost sight of her pursuers. The Atalante, exerting the same powers for which she had been so long celebrated in the French navy, but which had failed to carry her clear of the Swiftsure's long-reached and well-directed shot, ran away from her ci-devant friends, and actually bent a new main topsail while they were in pursuit of her.

The Atalante measured 986 tons, and was armed precisely as the Engageante. On being purchased for the use of the British navy, the prize became classed as a 12-pounder 36, but under the name of Espion, an Atalante sloop of war being already in the service.

On the 29th of May, in latitude 46° 38' north, longitude 9° 40' west, the British 28-gun frigate Carysfort, Captain Francis Laforey, fell in with the French (late British) 32-gun frigate Castor, Captain L'Huillier, having in tow a Dutch merchant brig, in chase of which, five days before, she had parted from M. Nielly's squadron. The brig was cast off, and an action commenced, that lasted, without intermission, one hour and fifteen minutes; at the end of which time the Castor, who had on board her English guns, as specified at H, in the table at p. 91, with four 24-pounder carronades in addition, hauled down the republican colours.

The Carysfort, whose armament was four 18-pounder carronades beyond her establishment at I, in the same table, was very slightly injured in masts, rigging, or hull; and her loss in the

* See p. 128

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