1800 - Kent and Confiance


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Kent and Confiance 53

shot at her, hoisted French colours and began cannonading in return. During one hour and a half the two vessels continued warmly engaged at close quarters ; when the Gipsy, receiving great annoyance from the musketry of her opponent, hauled a little further off. Here the Gipsy kept up a sharp fire with round and grape shot, and at 10 h. 30 m. A.M. compelled the sloop, which was the Quidproquo, of eight guns, 4 and 8 pounders, and 98 men, commanded by M. Tourpie, represented to have been formerly a capitaine de vaisseau, to strike her colours. Eighty of the 98 men were Guadeloupe chasseurs; and it was to save his people from their powerful musketry that the Gipsy's commander, with so much judgment, had hauled off to a long-gun range.

The Gipsy had three seamen killed, and nine, including Lieutenant Boger, wounded; the Quidproquo, her captain and four seamen killed, and 11 wounded. Although upon a small scale this action was not the less creditable to those who, by their skill and bravery, had brought it to a successful termination.

On the 9th of October the honourable East India company's ship Kent, of 26 guns (20 long 12, and six long 6 pounders), commanded by Captain Robert Rivington, being off the Sandheads, on her way from England to Bengal, fell in with the French ship-privateer Confiance, of 20 or 22 long 8-pounders, commanded by M. Surcouff, a very able and experienced officer. An action immediately ensued, and was maintained with great bravery by the Indiaman, for one hour and 47 minutes; during which the two vessels were frequently foul of each other. At length the Kent was carried by boarding ; her crew, besides their inferior numbers, being very ill-supplied with weapons of defence, while the assailants were all armed with sabres, pikes, and pistols. After having given decided proofs of his bravery, Captain Rivington received, at the moment of boarding, a musket-shot through his head.

Besides the loss of her captain, the Kent had 13 men killed, including four or five of her passengers, and 44 men wounded, including also several passengers. The loss on board the Confiance does not appear to have been recorded. It is, indeed, to be regretted, that on these interesting occasions some capable person does not take the pains to collect and publish the particulars. Many highly creditable actions between merchant ships and enemy's privateers are either given to the public with such marks of doubt, that an historian is fearful of admitting them into his pages ; or they are so summarily stated, that the account, when the most is made of it, amounts to little more than that one vessel was captured by another.

The Confiance was a ship of 490 tons, and had, it is said, a complement of 250 men. The Kent was a new ship, of 820 tons, and had probably about 90 or 100 men in crew, exclusive of 38 male and three female passengers. Seven or eight of

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