1800 - Light Squadrons and Single Ships, Constellation and Vengeance


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Constellation and Vengeance 27

Cadiz, and summoned the town to surrender, in order to get possession of the Spanish squadron at anchor in the harbour. The reply of Don Thomas de Morla, the governor of Cadiz, acquainting the two British commanders-in-chief that the plague was raging in the town and environs, put a stop at once to all hostile measures against the miserable inhabitants, and sent the expedition back to Gibraltar, to be employed against a different enemy in the manner we shall hereafter have to relate.

Light Squadrons and Single Ships.

Having given an account of the first engagement fought between an American and a French frigate, we shall offer no apology for inserting in these pages an account of the second. On the 1st of February, at 7 h. 30 m. A.M., the United States' 36-gun frigate Constellation, still commanded by Commodore Thomas Truxton,* being about five leagues to the westward of Basseterre-road, Guadaloupe, working to windward, discovered in the south-east quarter, standing south-west, the French 40-gun frigate Vengeance, Captain Sébastien-Louis-Marie Pichot.

The American commodore immediately went in chase; and M. Pichot ran from him, for the reason, as alleged afterwards by some of the French officers, that the Vengeance had her decks encumbered with hogsheads of sugar, which she had brought from Guadaloupe, and was carrying to Europe. Let that have been as it may, at 8 P.M. the Constellation got within hail of the Vengeance, and received a fire from her stern and quarter guns. In a little time the former, having gained a position on the French frigate's weather quarter, opened a very destructive fire; and to which, from her position, the Constellation received a much less effective return, than if she had run fairly alongside. The mutual cannonade continued, in this manner, until nearly 1 a.m. on the 2d; when the Vengeance, owing to the damaged state of the Constellation's rigging and masts, particularly her mainmast, was enabled to range ahead out of gunshot, and the battle ended.

The force of the Constellation, in guns, men, and size, has already been given. The armament of the Vengeance, with the addition of four brass 36-pounder carronades, was the same as that of her sister-ship, the Resistance, captured in March, 1797 ; and her complement may also be stated the same as the latter's, exclusive of about 60 passengers.

The loss sustained by the American frigate amounted to one officer and 13 seamen and marines killed, and two officers and 23 seamen and marines wounded. That of the Vengeance is represented, in the American accounts, at 150 in killed and

* See vol. ii., p. 323.
Ibid., p. 324.
Ibid., p. 81.

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