1800 - Seine and Vengeance


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 46

According to Captain Bulteel's letter in the Gazette, the Médée, with a crew of 315 men, was captured at 7 P.M. by the Bombay-Castle and Exeter; but the following somewhat different, and, we must add, not very consistent account, appears in the work of a contemporary: " The chase was long, and at midnight Captain Meriton, of the Exeter, found himself coming very fast up with the enemy, while the Bombay-Castle, another Indiaman, commanded by Captain Hamilton, was still very far astern. The position was critical, and the British officer, with great presence of mind, formed his determination; running alongside of the Frenchman with all his ports up, he commanded him to surrender to a superior force ; with this order, supposing himself under the guns of a ship of the line, the French captain instantly complied. Meriton gave him no time for deliberation, but sent an officer and brought him on board, and he delivered his sword to the English captain, in due form, on the quarterdeck. The Bombay-Castle was still at a great distance, but on her coming up, the prisoners were quickly taken out and divided. By this time the French captain began to recover from his surprise, and looking very attentively at the little guns on the quarterdeck, asked Captain Meriton what ship it was to which he had surrendered ? Meriton drily answered, To a merchant-ship: the indignant Frenchman begged to be allowed to return with his people to the frigate and fight the battle again.*

The remaining French frigate, the Franchise, by throwing overboard a part of her guns, together with her anchors, boats, and booms, and by the timely approach of night, effected her escape ; as did also the armed schooner. Owing to the late period at which the Concorde and Médée (both of which were armed precisely according to the establishment of their respective classes, already so frequently adverted to) arrived in a port of England, and to the turn which affairs had then taken, neither frigate was purchased for the use of the British navy.

On the 20th of August, at 8 h. 30 m. a.m., the British 38-gun frigate Seine, Captain David Milne, cruising in the Mona passage with the wind easterly and very light, saw, right ahead, standing to the northward on the starboard tack, the French frigate Vengeance, Captain Pichot (the Constellation's late antagonist), not many days from Curaçoa, bound to France. The Seine immediately made all sail in chase. At 10 A.M., the wind having come more northerly, so as to prevent the Vengeance from weathering Cape Raphael on the St.-Domingo shore, the French ship tacked, and steered south-south-east under all sail. At noon, or soon after, the wind shifted back to the eastward, but was still very light; and both ships continued under a crowd of canvass. At 4 P.M. the Vengeance began firing her stern-

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 341.

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