1798 - Repulsed at Saint-Marcouf


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1798 British and French Fleets 114

great extent of his command, were associated the chefs de division, or commodores, Genteaume, Decrès, Casa-Bianca, and Dumanoir-le-Pelley .

In order that the expense, thus incurring in the ports of Normandy, might not be entirely lost, or perhaps to fix the attention of the British upon the Channel ports, while preparations were going on at Toulon, the French government ordered an attack to be made upon the small islands of Saint-Marcouf ; of which, in July, 1795, Sir Sidney Smith, with the Diamond frigate, had taken unobstructed possession, and which were considered to give to the English great facility in intercepting the communication between the ports of Havre and Cherbourg. The islands of St.-Marcouf are two in number, lying close together ; one named east and the other west, and each not more than 200 yards in length, by about 120 in breadth, exclusive of two large banks, which, at low-water, are seen stretching to a considerable extent from the shore. The islands are situated off the river Isigny on the coast of Normandy, and about four miles distant from the French shore. After being garrisoned with about 500 seamen and marines, including a great proportion of invalids, these small islands were placed under the command of Lieutenant Charles Papps Price, of the Badger, a cruiser-converted Dutch hoy, mounting four, or at most six guns .* To be prepared for an attempt at recapture, several pieces of cannon were also mounted, both on the principal or western, and on the eastern island ; and, as an additional security, some small vessels of war were appointed to cruise near the spot.

Thirty-three flat-bottomed boats upon Chapman's construction having been launched at Havre, a body of troops, under General Point, was embarked on board of them, and Captain Muskein was ordered, with them and a few gun-brigs, to make a combined attack upon the isles of Saint-Marcouf. On the night of the 7th this little expedition set sail from Havre ; but, the next afternoon, when near the entrance of Caen river, Captain Muskein found his progress obstructed by two British frigates, the Diamond, Captain Sir Richard John Strachan, and the Hydra, Captain Sir Francis Laforey. At 4 p.m. the gun-brigs and flats anchored in a line close to the shore ; and at 5 h. 30 m. the Diamond and Hydra, having worked up to them, opened their broadsides, receiving in return a pretty sharp fire from the heavy long guns of the flotilla. Before the Diamond had discharged above two or three broadsides, she grounded in wearing, and lay fast ; still, however, the frigate kept up a fire from such of her guns as would bear. At 8 h. 30 m. the flotilla ceased firing ; not being able, owing to the darkness, to see the position of their opponents. The latter did the same ; and the Hydra, to assist in getting her consort afloat, anchored close to

" See note w *, to Annual Abstract, No. 3

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