1801 - Speedy and Gamo


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 144

the British navy; in which, under her French name, she classed. as a 12-pounder 36.

The British 14-gun brig-sloop Speedy, Captain Lord Cochrane, during one of her cruises in the Mediterranean, had so annoyed the Spaniards by cutting up their coasting trade, that the government despatched armed vessels in pursuit of her from several ports. Early in April one of the seekers of the British brig, the 32-gun xebec Gamo, by means of closed or hanging ports, decoyed the Speedy within hail, and then, drawing them up, discovered her heavy battery. Against a vessel that appeared to mount 36 guns, and to be numerously manned, the Speedy, whose 14 guns were only 4-pounders, resolved not to risk an engagement until she had tried the effect of a ruse. To escape was out of the question, as the xebec sailed two feet to the Speedy's one. The Speedy therefore passed for a Danish brig of war, and, in addition to the colours at her gaff-end, exhibited on the gangway a man dressed in a Danish officer's uniform ; who also, in the short interchange of hailing that ensued, conversed in Danish, or, which was the same thing, in what passed for Danish.

Not quite satisfied as to the national character of the Speedy, the Gamo sent her boat with an officer. The latter, before he well got alongside, was informed, kindly informed, that the brig had lately quitted one of the Barbary ports ; and he was at the same time reminded, of what he well knew, that a visit would undoubtedly subject the Spanish ship of war to a long quarantine. This was enough; and, after a few mutual salutations and wavings of the hand, the two vessels parted company, one glad at having escaped the plague, the other equally glad, one might suppose, at having escaped capture. The truth is, however, that the Speedy's officers and crew were all impatience to combat their superior foe ; and Lord Cochrane promised them, if ever he met her again, as he had no doubt he should, to give full scope to their wishes.

On the 6th of May, at daylight, being close off Barcelona, the Speedy descried a sail standing towards her. Chase was given ; but, owing to light winds, it was nearly 9 a.m. before the two vessels got within mutual gun-shot. The Speedy soon discovered that the armed xebec approaching her was her old friend the Gamo. Being then close under the latter's lee, the former tacked and commenced the action. The Speedy's fire was promptly returned by her opponent, who, in a little while, attempted to board ; but, the instant she heard the command given, the brig sheered off. The attempt was again made, and again frustrated. At length, after a 45 minutes' cannonade, in which the Speedy, with all her manoeuvring, could not evade the heavy broadsides of the Gamo, and had sustained, in consequence, a loss of three seamen killed and five wounded, Lord Cochrane determined to board. With this intent the Speedy

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