1801 - Boats of Jamaica &c. at St.-Valery


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Invasion Flotilla 85

perfect order; but the darkness of the night, co-operating with the tide and half-tide, separated the divisions.

The first division, under Captain Somerville, on getting near to the shore, was carried by the current considerably to the eastward of Boulogne bay. Finding it impracticable to reach the French flotilla in the order prescribed, Captain Somerville ordered the boats to cast each other off and make the best of their way. By this means, at a little before the dawn of day on the 16th, some of the leading boats got up to and attacked a brig, lying close to the pier-head ; and, after a sharp contest, carried the vessel, but were prevented from towing her off, owing to her being secured with a chain, and owing to a heavy fire of musketry and grape-shot, opened as well from the shore as from, three luggers and a second brig, lying within half pistol-shot of the first. Thus compelled to abandon their prize, and the daylight putting a stop to further operations, the boats of the first division pushed out of the bay. The persevering efforts of the officers and men of this division had cost them dearly; their loss amounting to one master's mate (Alexander Rutherford), 14 seamen, and three marines killed, four lieutenants (Thomas Oliver, Francis Dickenson, Jeremiah Skelton, and William Basset), one captain of marines (George Young), one master's mate (Francis Burney), one midshipman (Samuel Spratley), 29 seamen, and 19 marines wounded; total, 18 killed and 55 wounded.

The second division, under Captain Parker, was more successful than the first in meeting less obstacles from the current, and at about half an hour past midnight got to the scene of action. One subdivision of the boats, led by the captain, immediately ran alongside of a large brig, the Etna, moored off the Mole head, wearing the broad pendant of Commodore Etienne Pévrieux. Nothing could exceed the impetuosity of the attack ; but a very strong netting, traced up to the brig's lower yards, baffled all the endeavours of the British to board, and an instantaneous discharge of her great guns and small-arms, the latter from about 200 soldiers stationed on the gunwale, knocked back into their boats nearly the whole of the assailants. The second subdivision, under Lieutenant Williams, carried a lugger, but, in attacking a brig, the Volcan, met with a repulse, and was obliged to retire with the other subdivision. The loss sustained by the British, in the two subdivisions, proved with what obstinacy the contest had been maintained. It amounted to two midshipmen (William Gore and William Bristow), 15 seamen, and four marines killed, Captain Parker himself (mortally), two lieutenants (Charles Pelly and Frederick Langford), one master (William Kirby), one midshipman (the Honourable Anthony Maitland), Mr. Richard Wilkinson, commander of the Greyhound revenue cutter, 30 seamen, and six marines wounded total, 21 killed and 42 wounded.

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