1801 - Penguin and French corvette


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Bordelais with Curieux and Consorts 137

round, the Bordelais was enabled to bring the Curieux to action, at about 10 yards' distance. Scarcely had the Bordelais opened her heavy metal upon the Curieux, than the latter's two consorts abandoned her. When it is known that the Bordelais was a ship of 625 tons, mounting twenty-two 32-pounder carronades and 2 long nines, with a complement of 195 men, the surprise will be great that the Curieux alone should, for 30 minutes, sustain an action with her; and that, too, at a distance so favourable to a carronade-battery.

On being taken possession of after having hailed that she had struck, the Curieux's deck was found, as might indeed be expected, strewed from end to end with the dying and the dead. The captain had had both his legs shot off, and survived but a few hours ; and the brig's killed and wounded, in the whole, amounted to about 50. The Bordelais, on the other hand, escaped with only one man killed, and seven wounded; including among the latter Lieutenant Robert Barrie, who did not quit his quarters, Master's Mate James Jones, and Midshipman John Lions.

It was not in the killed and wounded only, that the French, brig afforded proofs of the obstinacy of her resistance: her hull had been so pierced with shot, that, in about half an hour after she was taken possession of, the Curieux was found to be sinking. Already had 120 prisoners been received from her; and every exertion was now made to save the wounded. So zealous were Lieutenant Archibald Montgomery and his 20 men in performing this service, that, at 8 p.m. the vessel foundered under them, close alongside of the Bordelais. The floating wreck buoyed up all those brave men except two midshipmen Messieurs Spence and Auckland, and five seamen; who consequently perished, with the whole, if not the greater part, of the brig's wounded.

Nothing could exceed the gallantry of Captain Radelet, unless it was the pusillanimity of his two brother-officers, Captains Raybaun and Haymond; and whose vessels, on account of the three hours' delay which had taken place in endeavouring to save the crew of the prize, in shifting the prisoners, and in repairing the Bordelais' rigging and sails, effected their escape. These two French brigs and schooner had been fitted out by Victor Hugues at Cayenne, principally to intercept the outward-bound West India fleet. It is but fair to mention, that a French " Etat général de la Marine," of 1803, does not contain the names of the two gentlemen represented to have been the commanders of the Mutine and Espérance. The probability therefore is, that they were not officers belonging to the French navy.

On the 18th of February, at about 2 p.m., latitude 28 24' south, and longitude 18 17' west, the British 18-gun brig-sloop Penguin (sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two long-sixes),

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