1800 - Netley and San-Miguel


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Milbrook and Bellone 57

The carronades of the Milbrook were seemingly fired with as much precision as quickness ; for the Bellone, from broadsides fell to single guns, and showed, by her sails and rigging, how much she had been cut up by the schooner's shot. At about 10 A.M. the ship's colours came down ; and Lieutenant Smith used immediate endeavours to take possession of her. Not having a rope left wherewith to hoist out a boat, he launched one over the gunwale ; but, having been pierced with shot in various directions, the boat soon filled with water. At this time the Milbrook, having had 10 of her guns disabled, her masts, yards, sails, and rigging wounded and shot through, and all her sweeps cut to pieces, lay quite unmanageable, with her broadside to the Bellone's stern. In a little while a light breeze sprang up, and the Bellone, hoisting all the canvass she could set, sought safety in flight.

Out of the 47 men of her crew, the Milbrook had eight seamen and one marine severely, and her master (Thomas Fletcher, but who would not quit the deck), surgeon's mate (I. Parster), and one seaman, slightly wounded. The loss sustained by the Bellone, as rumoured at Vigo, into which port she was compelled to put, amounted, out of a crew probably of 250 or 260 men, to 20 killed, her first and second captains and 45 men wounded.

The guns of the Bellone, as already has been stated, consisted of 24 long French 8-pounders and six or eight brass 36-pounder carronades. The ship, therefore, was almost quadruply superior to the Milbrook ; and Lieutenant Smith, by his gallantry and seamanlike conduct, not only preserved from capture a valuable convoy, but added, in no slight degree, to the naval renown of his country. This became appreciated in the proper quarter, and Lieutenant Smith was promoted to the rank of commander. Also the English factory at Oporto, to evince their sense of the service performed by the Milbrook, voted Lieutenant Smith their thanks, accompanied by a piece of plate of 50l. value.

There was another British schooner, armed much in the same manner as the Milbrook, and cruising on the same station, whose commander, although not afforded an opportunity of repulsing a ship like the Bellone, distinguished himself greatly by his activity in capturing privateers, and in protecting British convoys from their depredations. The serviceable and far from inglorious career of the Netley, Lieutenant Francis Godolphin Bond, began in the months of November and December of the preceding year ; and, on one occasion in particular, Lieutenant Bond captured a Spanish privateer, with more men in her than he had on board as a crew.

We shall pass over several cases in which the Netley captured Spanish privateers and retook their prizes, to relate one instance of decided gallantry on the part of her commander and crew. On the 7th of November in the present year, being off the rock

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