1800 - Rover and Santa-Ritta


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Captain Hillyar at Barcelona 51

reload her guns. This was at 9 P.M.; and in a few minutes afterwards, but not without a smart struggle, Captain Hillyar and his party boarded and carried the Esmeralda.

The announcement of this victory, by the cheers of the British, was the signal for the Spaniards in the other ship to cut their cable, and endeavour to run close under the battery at the mole-head ; but the ship canting the wrong way, and the British being alert in their movements, the Paz, before 10 p.m., in spite of a heavy fire from four strong batteries, 10 gun-boats, two schooners, each armed with two long 36-pounders, and a fort upon Mount Ioni which threw shells, shared the fate of her consort. At about 11 P.M. the two prize-ships, and the boats that had taken them, covered as they stood to the offing by two men of war, were brought off in safety; with a loss to the British of only two seamen and one marine killed, the Minotaur's master, Mr. Reid and four seamen wounded. On board the Paz, one seaman was killed and four wounded; and on board the Esmeralda, two seamen were killed, and 17 wounded.

Each of the captured ships is represented to have measured about 400 tons, and to have been laden with provisions and stores supposed for Batavia. Besides which they were to have taken on board between them 300 Batavian troops from the island of Majorca. Admitting the crew (for no number is stated in the gazette letter) to have amounted only to 50 men, we have a ship of 400 tons, carrying, besides a cargo of provisions, 200 men, and mounted with " 22 brass guns, 12 and 9 pounders." We must therefore be permitted to consider, that the guns of the Esmeralda were only 8 and 6 pounders ; and that even the majority of the guns were of the lesser caliber. Still the exploit, performed as it was in the very teeth of a force both afloat and ashore so very superior, reflected the highest Honour upon the victorious party.

It is true that some altercation took place between the courts of Spain and Sweden relative to the alleged seizure of the galliot to surprise the ships ; but it led to nothing except, for a while, to mislead public opinion as to the merits of the case. A contemporary states that the capture of the Paz and Esmeralda, " led to the promotion of Captain Hillyar and Lieutenant Schomberg."* If so, the operation as regards Captain Hillyar at least, was rather a tardy one ; for he was not, we find, made post until February, 1804, rather more than six months after the senior lieutenant who had served under him at Barcelona attained the same rank.

On the 10th of September, as the British privateer-brig, Rover, of Liverpool, Nova-Scotia, armed with 14 long 4-pounders and 54 men and boys, under the command of Captain Godfrey, was cruising near Cape Blanco on the Spanish Main, the

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 24.

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