1801 - Capture of the Invention, Boats of Atalante in Quiberon bay


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 152

plunging overboard, sometimes even in a gale of wind, at the utmost hazard of his own.*

The Chevrette, when attacked, was bound with a cargo of stores to Sénégal, and thence to the island of Guadeloupe: she was a similar ship to the Bonne-Citoyenne; but, owing we believe, to the probable successful termination of the pending negotiation between the two countries, more than to any thing else, the Chevrette was not purchased for the use of the British navy. Lieutenant Losack, on account of some misunderstanding respecting the actual commanding officer at the cutting out of the corvette, was promoted to the rank of commander. On the 9th of August, however, upon some facts coming to his knowledge, Admiral Cornwallis ordered a court of inquiry to be held on board the Mars. The result was, that Lieutenant Keith Maxwell received from the admiralty immediate promotion to a commander's rank, and from the public at large that share of credit which, had it not been for the official investigation of his claims, he might never have obtained.

On the 27th of July, at 1 A.M., in latitude 43 34' north, and longitude 11 42' west, the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Immortalité, Captain Henry Hotham, fell in with an enemy's cruiser of a very extraordinary appearance, a ship with four masts; which the former immediately chased, and at 7 h. 30 m. A.M., the 38-gun frigate Arethusa, Captain Thomas Wolley, in sight, captured. The prize proved to be the Invention, French privateer, nine days from Bordeaux, on her first cruise, having only been launched since the beginning of the month.

The Invention had been designed by her commander, M. Thibaut, and was peculiar in more respects than her masts, her length being 147 feet, with only 27 feet in breadth of beam. Her force consisted of 24 long 6-pounders on a single deck, and two 12-pounder carronades, either on her poop or topgallant forecastle, with a crew of 210 men and boys. Her four masts were at nearly equal distances apart, the first and third of the same height, the second stouter and higher, and the fourth much smaller. She had, four topgallant yards rigged aloft, and was accounted a good sea-boat and sailer.

On the 10th of August, while the British 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Unicorn, Captain Charles Wemyss, and 16-gun brig sloop Atalante, Captain Anselm John Griffiths, were cruising in Quiberon bay, the six-oared cutter of the latter, with eight men commanded by Mr. Francis Smith, midshipman, in the face of a brisk discharge of grape and canister from the French national lugger Eveillé, mounting two long 4-pounders, and four large swivels, and of a cross-fire from two small batteries on the shore, pulled up towards, boarded, and carried the vessel, the French crew deserting her at the moment and escaping to the shore,

* Naval Chronicle, vol. vii., pp. 216, 217.

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