1800 - Boston and Berceau


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 54

those passengers had been taken from the Queen Indiaman, when she was consumed by fire at St.-Salvador. So long and manful a resistance with such limited means, was very honourable to the officers, crew, and passengers of the Kent. In the following month M. Surcouff arrived with his prize at the Isle of France.

We may remark, in passing, what an advantage the Kent would have derived, had she mounted on her quarterdeck and, forecastle, a tier of 18 or 24 pounder carronades, instead of long sixes. A few discharges of grape from the former would probably have induced the Confiance to keep at long-shot, and then the Kent's 12-pounders, well-plied, would either have captured or repulsed her.

Having already recorded two actions fought between American and French ships of war, we will here give a brief account of the third; the last, indeed, of any consequence, which occurred during the short interruption in the amicable relations of the two countries. On the 12th of October, in latitude 22 50' north, longitude 51 west, the United States, 32-gun frigate Boston (of the same long-gun force, we believe, as D in the table at p. 91 of the first volume, with 12 carronades, 32-pounders, in addition), Captain Little fell in with the French ship-corvette Berceau, of 22 long eights and two English 12-pounder carronades, Lieutenant Louis-André Senes. An action ensued, and continued, with mutual spirit, for two hours; when the Berceau, having had her masts reduced to a tottering state, and being dreadfully shattered in hull, struck her colours to the Boston ; whose masts, rigging, and sails, were also considerably wounded and cut.

Out of a crew of about 320 men and boys, the Boston lost her purser and 11 seamen and marines killed or mortally wounded, and eight others wounded who recovered. The precise loss of the Berceau does not appear in Captain Little's letter. We are only enabled to state, that, out of a crew of about 200, exclusive of 30 passengers, it was very considerable in both killed and wounded; and that, among the former, was her captain. We may add, also, that the fore and main masts of the Berceau fell over the side soon after her surrender.

Who can read of a two hours' resistance under such a disparity of force as, without the aid of a comparative statement, it is clear must have existed between these two ships, without being surprised that no account of this action is to be found in any French publication. Is it, then, French victories only that French ears can listen to, or French patriotism record ? Too true it is. The most insignificant triumph is puffed up to the skies, while an unsuccessful action, no matter how resolutely and ably fought, is passed over in silence. This will never make a navy. Much credit is due to the American captain for his candour (not the less estimable for its rarity on his side of the

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