1801 - Boats of Mercury at Ancona


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Boats of Mercury and Corso at Tremiti 147

The loss of the British, in the attack upon this Spanish convoy, consisted of one midshipman (Thomas Taylor), killed by a musket-shot in one of the boats, and two lieutenants (Thomas Foulerton and Thomas Brown Thompson), seven seamen, and one marine wounded; all belonging to the Kangaroo, although as Captain Pulling handsomely acknowledges, the Speedy, from situation and distance, was equally exposed to the enemy's fire. At the demolition of the tower of Almanara, however, the Speedy did not wholly escape, Lord Cochrane himself having received a bruise, and been a little singed ; as were also two of his men.

The British 28-gun frigate Mercury, Captain Thomas Rogers, having on the 25th of May, while cruising in the Adriatic, captured a small vessel just out of Ancona, received intelligence that the late British bomb-vessel Bulldog, which, about three months before, under the command of Captain Barrington Dacres, had entered the port unapprized of its being in possession of the French, was lying in the mole, laden with supplies for the French army in Egypt, and ready for sea. Captain Rogers immediately made sail for Ancona, with the determination of attempting to cut out the Bulldog; and, soon after dark the same evening, the Mercury anchored off the mole. At 10 h. 30 m. p.m. the boats of the latter, under the orders of Lieutenant William Mather, quitted the frigate ; and, at about midnight, surprised and carried the Bulldog, without even having been hailed by the sentinels on the mole, to which, while the ship was riding with three cables ahead, her stern had been secured by the two ends of a bower cable. The seamen presently cut all the cables, and the boats began to tow away their prize ; but the alarm had now spread, and the British became exposed to a heavy fire of cannon and musketry from the mole.

As there was a favourable light breeze, and the sails were set, the Bulldog, in rather less than an hour, got without the reach of the batteries. Unfortunately, however, the wind died away to a perfect calm, and the current carried the prize along the coast close to the shore ; from which a crowd of boats, some of them gun-boats, came out to attack her. Having the hatchways to guard, to prevent the French crew from rising, and being without a sufficient force to resist the gun-boats, which were fast approaching, and had already several times raked the ship, Lieutenant Mather reluctantly abandoned his prize; but not until he had made three ineffectual attempts to set her on fire.

The loss of the British on this occasion amounted to one seaman and one marine killed, and four seamen wounded. That of the French on board the Bulldog is stated to have been 20 in killed, wounded, and drowned. As soon as she descried the prize standing out of the mole, the Mercury weighed and steered towards her; but the calm so retarded the progress of the

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