1801 - Victor and FlÍche


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Boats of the Fisgard, &c. at Corunna 153

which was only a musket-shot distant. To add to the value of this very gallant little exploit, it was achieved without a single casualty.

On the night of the 20th of August Captain Thomas Byam Martin, cruising off Corunna with the frigates Fisgard, Diamond and Boadicea, sent Lieutenant Philip Pipon, with the boats of the squadron, to attack the Spanish vessels in the port. The boats immediately pulled for and entered the harbour; and Lieutenant Pipon and his party succeeded in boarding and carrying the Neptuno, a new ship pierced for 20 guns, belonging to his catholic majesty, a gun-boat mounting one long Spanish 24-pounder, and a merchant ship; all moored within the strong batteries that protect the port, and lying so near to them, that the sentinels on the ramparts challenged the boats' crews, and opened upon them a heavy fire. Notwithstanding this opposition, the British officers and men, with their accustomed coolness and perseverance, proceeded to execute the remainder of their task, and brought all three vessels safe out of the harbour without sustaining the slightest loss. For his gallantry and address on this occasion, Lieutenant Pipon, early in the following year, was promoted to the rank of commander.

On the 2d of September, at 11 h. 30 m. a.m., the British 18-gun ship-sloop Victor (sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two sixes), Captain George Ralph Collier, being off the Seychelle islands, discovered and chased a strange man-of-war brig. At 5 h. 30 m. p.m., proving the better sailer going off the wind, the Victor was enabled to bring to close action the French brig-corvette Flêche, of 18 long 8-pounders, commanded by Lieutenant Jean-Baptiste Bonnavie. The latter's 8-pounders being no match for the former's 32-pounder carronades, the Flêche, after receiving and returning two broadsides, hauled her wind and endeavoured to escape. Having had her driver topping-lift, maintopmast-stay, and her principal braces on the starboard side shot away, the Victor was unable to wear quick enough to check the progress of her opponent; who, by the time the two vessels tacked, at 7 p.m., was half a mile to windward : and, even when the Victor had repaired her rigging, the Flêche convinced her that, in sailing by the wind, the advantage was the reverse of what it had been when going before it.

In the little interchange of firing which had ensued, the Victor had a master's mate and one seaman slightly wounded; with, besides damaged rigging and sails, one shot through the foremast, and a few in the hull. The Victor continued to pursue the Flêche, and during the night was frequently within gunshot; but the latter would not allow the British vessel a second time to close. The chase continued all day of the 4th. At sunset the Flêche was four or five miles to windward of the Victor, and, by daylight on the 5th, was no longer to be seen.

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