1801 - Boats of Trent at Brehat, Sibylle and Chiffoune


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 142

Captain Robert Lawrie, were cruising off Punts de Mulas, on the north-east coast of the island of Cuba, a convoy of 25 Spanish vessels known to be richly laden, were seen at an anchor in the bay of Levita, protected by three armed galleys, or gun-vessels, armed with long 24 and 18 pounders. The two captains considering it practicable to capture or destroy this convoy by the aid of their boats, the latter under the command of Captain Lawrie himself, at about 9 h. 30 m. p.m., proceeded to execute the service.

Soon after midnight the boats arrived within gun-shot of the galleys, and were received, quite unexpectedly, with a heavy and destructive fire of grape, langridge, and musketry. In spite of this opposition, the British gallantly pushed on, and boarded several of the vessels ; but from the heavy loss they sustained, could only bring off one of the galleys. That loss consisted of the first lieutenant of the Andromache (Joseph Taylor), one master's mate (William M'Cuin), one midshipman (William Winchester, both of the Cleopatra), and six seamen killed, and 12 seamen wounded. Some of the boats had also been sunk by the enemy's shot. The loss among the Spaniards on board the captured gun-vessel was nine killed and several wounded.

On the 3d of April, at daybreak, the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Trent, Captain Sir Edward Hamilton, while lying at an anchor among the rocks off the Isles of Bréhat, discovered a ship, with French colours flying, under the protection of an armed cutter and lugger, making sail with the flood from the anchorage of Bréhat towards Plampoul. The boats of the frigate, under the orders of Lieutenant George Chamberlayne, assisted by Lieutenants Robert Scallon and John Bellamy, lieutenant of marines Walter Tait, and Mr. Thomas Hoskins the master, instantly proceeded to endeavour to secure the ship.

With the seeming intention of defending what proved to be a prize recently made, the French sent many boats from the shore; and these, assisted by the lugger, took the ship in tow. The intrepid advance of the Trent's boats, however, caused the shore-boats and lugger to cast off the ship, and prepare to defend themselves. A sharp conflict now ensued; at the end of which the French lugger and boats, although protected by five batteries, were subdued and chased upon the rocks. Shortly afterwards the ship was boarded by the first lieutenant and the lieutenant of marines; which latter, however, lost his right leg on the occasion. This, with two seamen killed, appears to have been the extent of the loss on the British side. The ship proved to be an English merchant vessel; but, as the French had all quitted her and taken the crew with them, no particulars could be obtained. Two men were found dead upon her decks, and several are supposed to have been drowned in attempting to escape from the British when they boarded.

On the 19th of April, at 8 h. 30 m. a.m., the British 38-gun

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