1799 - Jupiter and Preneuse


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1799 Jupiter and Preneuse, & Hero 349

either the Camel or Rattlesnake, could be speedily despatched after her, Captain Lee sent an express overland to Captain George Losack, the senior British officer in Table bay. On what day the messenger arrived, or whether he arrived at all, we cannot say ; but on the 1st of October the British 50-gun ship Jupiter, Captain William Granger, acting in the absence (through sickness, we presume) of Captain Losack, sailed from Table bay, and on the 8th joined the Camel and Rattlesnake at Algoa bay.

On the next day, the 9th, the Jupiter weighed and made sail in quest of the Preneuse. On the 10th, in the afternoon, latitude 34 4l ' south, longitude 27 54' east, while running before a strong gale from the north-west by west, the Jupiter descried, and immediately stood towards, a ship in the north-east. As the Jupiter approached her, the ship, which was no other than the Preneuse herself, bore away to north-east, and made all sail to escape, followed by the British 50.

At 9 p.m. the Jupiter fired a shot at the Preneuse, which the latter, hoisting French colours, returned by a fire from her stern chasers. As it could not be owing to the Jupiter's good sailing, it was, in all probability, owing to the crippled state of the Preneuse, that the Jupiter soon got near enough to discharge her maindeck guns at the French frigate : her lowerdeck guns, although of double the caliber, it was found impossible to use, the turbulent state of the sea, and the little height allowable to such small-sized two-deckers, not admitting the opening of the ports. A running fight was thus kept up between the British 50 and French frigate during the whole of the night, and until 2 p.m. on the next day ; when the Jupiter succeeded in bringing the Preneuse to close action.

Although the weather was now moderate, the sea was still so high that, on opening the lowerdeck ports to get the 24-pounders into play, the water rushed in in such quantity, that the ports were obliged to be shut again ; and the Jupiter had to continue the action with her 12-pounders only. The consequence was, that, before the British 50 could produce any serious effect upon the French frigate, the latter had shot away the greater part of the former's running rigging, and badly wounded her fore and main masts : some loss, we believe, had also been inflicted, but its amount we are unable to state. In short, the Jupiter found it necessary to bear away to repair her damages ; and the Preneuse, satisfied with having beaten off an antagonist whom it would perhaps have been dangerous to press too closely, hauled to the wind on the starboard tack under all the sail she could carry, and effected her escape. The Preneuse's opponent, as soon as she had spliced her ropes and secured her masts, made sail also, but it was only to return to the port she had quitted on this unfortunate mission ; and on or about the 16th the discomfited Jupiter reanchored in Table bay.

This was a bad business certainly ; and, as no court of inquiry,

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