1796 - Rear-Admiral Sercey in the Indian seas


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


Rear-admiral Sercey in the Indian Seas


where, on the 18th, the four French frigates, with the captured Portuguese and American ships, also cast anchor. A small British squadron, which had been blockading the two French frigates Prudente and Cybèle, Captains (de vais.) Charles Magon and Pierre-Julien Thréouart, had a few days before sailed from the coast ; thus affording to the French admiral the wished for opportunity to enter Port-Louis unobserved, as well as unmolested.

It appears that MM. Baco and Burnel, the agents from the Directory, as soon as the nature of their mission was known, were very ill-received by the colonists of the Isle of France. In short, an insurrection ensued ; and the governor, General Malartic, was obliged to order the two deputies to embark on board the corvette Moineau, whose commander had received instructions to carry them to Manilla. On the day after their departure, however, the two deputies, dressed in full costume, appeared on the deck of the vessel, and, in the presence of the crew, ordered the captain to carry them to Europe. The latter obeyed, and the Moineau, with the two rejected deputies, arrived safe in a port of France.

On the 14th of July, the Seine having remounted her guns and taken on board Captain Latour as her commander, and all the ships having been thoroughly refitted and stored, Rear-admiral Sercey put to sea with his six frigates, accompanied, for an aviso to the squadron, by the privateer-schooner Alerte. On the 18th the Forte and Vertu anchored in the road of St.-Denis, and the four remaining frigates and schooner in the road of St.-Paul, Isle of Bourbon. On the 22d the rear-admiral again got under way, and steered towards the coast of Coromandel. On making the land, the schooner, which from her bad sailing had greatly retarded the squadron, was detached to gain information respecting, as well the state of the British naval force in this quarter, as the number of merchant vessels at anchor in the different ports, their times of departure, and a few other necessary particulars. The captain of the privateer, corsair-like, preferred a cruise on his own account to the mission upon which he had been ordered. He accordingly, on the night of the 19th of August, ran down upon a supposed Indiaman, to carry her by boarding, and was himself taken by the British 28-gun frigate Carysfort, Captain James Alexander ; with such precipitation too, that his papers containing the plan and route of the French admiral's intended cruise, fell into the hands of the captors.

Unacquainted with this disaster, Rear-admiral Sercey, on the 14th of August, made the south-east point of the island of Ceylon. Here he cruised four days and made a few prizes: he then ascended to the northward, and stood along the Coromandel coast between Pondicherry and Madras ; making there and at Tranquebar, whither the Prudente and Régénérée had previously been detached, a few more prizes, but, like the others, of no great

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