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


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 British and French Fleets - Channel 86

The third division, under Captain Cotgrave displayed the same gallantry, and experienced nearly the same opposition as the two others had done ; and was equally compelled to retire without effecting the object. The loss of this division amounted to one midshipman (Mr. Berry), and four seamen killed, one gunner, 23 seamen, and five marines wounded ; total, five killed and 29 wounded. The fourth division of boats, under Captain Jones, not being able, owing to the rapidity of the tide, to get to the westward of any part of the enemy's line, put back to the squadron.

The French say they captured four of the English boats, and ran down several others ; and that their loss amounted to only 10 men killed and 30 wounded: whereas that of the British amounted altogether to 44 killed, and 126 wounded. Of course the French boasted, and certainly not without reason, of the successful opposition they had made to the persevering assaults of the British.

The appellation of gun-brig, and of flat or raft, convey, without some explanation, a very imperfect idea of the description of vessels of which the Boulogne flotilla was composed. The brigs were vessels of from 200 to 250 tons, armed with from four to eight heavy long guns, generally 24 and 18 pounders, and in some instances, 36-pounders. The account of a comparatively small lugger-flat, taken at Hâvre in the early part of the present year, may suffice for the generality of those at Boulogne. This flat drew but three and a half feet water, had very stout bulwarks, and carried 30 men in crew, besides 150 soldiers; she was armed with one 13-inch mortar, one long 24-pounder, and four swivels, and had also abundance of small-arms.

This was the last affair with the Invasion Flotilla, except a spirited little boat attack performed in the neighbourhood of Etaples. On the 20th of August, in the evening, as the British 24-gun ship Jamaica, Captain Jonas Rose, accompanied by four or five brig-sloops and gun-vessels, lay at anchor off the above named French port, a large fire was seen, and a heavy cannonade heard, in the south-south east. Captain Rose immediately got under way with his little squadron, and at 10 P.M., while running down to the spot, spoke Captain George Sarradine, of the brig-sloop Hound. From the latter, Captain Rose learnt that the light proceeded from a cargo of pitch and tar belonging to a vessel wrecked sometime before, and which the boats of the Hound, and of the Mallard gun-vessel, had set on fire ; that six flat-boats had come out from St.-Valery to attack the British, but had been driven on shore and then lay upon the beach.

Being resolved to attempt the capture or destruction of these French boats, Captain Rose, on the morning of the 21st, despatched upon that service the boats of the Jamaica, Gannet, and Hound sloops, and Tigress and Mallard gun-vessels, under the orders of Lieutenants James Agassiz and Henry Le Vesconte.

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