1803 - Leda off Calais and Boulogne, Lieutenant Shippard off Boulogne


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 British and French Fleets - Channel 181

the bomb-vessels to the north-east of the town, and the remainder of the squadron abreast of the town and pier-head battery. The French immediately opened a fire from all directions, and the first shell fell within a ship's length of the Autumn and burst under water. The vessels being at this time so close to each other as to be in danger from the enemy's shell, Captain Jackson directed them to weigh and re-anchor in more open order, while he remained with the Autumn in her original station. In this way the bombardment continued for several hours, with some apparent damage to the east end of the town, but with none whatever to the British squadron. At length a gale from the north-east obliged the ships to weigh and stand off ; and thus the action ended.

On the next day, the 28th, a division of gun-boats, taking advantage of the absence of the British squadron, quitted Calais for Boulogne ; and, although chased and fired at by the 36-gun frigate Leda, Captain Robert Honyman, they arrived in safety at their destination. On the 29th a second division, 25 in number, attempted to do the same; and, after a three hours' cannonade by the Leda, the whole, except the two which ran on shore and were bilged upon the rocks, succeeded in reaching the anchorage off the pier of Boulogne; forming, with those already there, a force of 55 sail.

On the 31st of October, at 9 A.M., while the Leda frigate, in company with the Lark and Harpy sloops of war, were off Etaples, working towards the shore against a strong east-south-east wind, a large gun-brig, said to be of 12 long 24-pounders, with six schooners and sloops under her convoy, was observed coming out of the port. Captain Honyman immediately signalled the Harpy and Lark to make sail in chase. About this time, however, the British hired cutter, Admiral-Mitchell, of 12 carronades, 12-pounders, and 35 men and boys, commanded by Lieutenant Alexander Shippard, being close off Boulogne, the port to which the vessels were steering, gallantly stood after them ; and, at 10 A.M., brought the gun-brig to action, close under the batteries of Portet. At the end of a two hours and a half's engagement, the cutter drove the gun-brig and one of the sloops on shore.

The Admiral-Mitchell's mast and cross-jack yard were wounded in several places, by a shell which fell on board, and her sails and rigging were a good deal cut by grape: the cutter had also one carronade dismounted, and was hulled in several places. Fortunately, however, her loss did not amount to more than two men badly, and two slightly wounded. The strong land-wind having entirely prevented the small British squadron in the offing from acting, this affair was highly creditable to Lieutenant Shippard, and the officers and crew of the Admiral-Mitchell. Our attention is now called to the Mediterranean.

The British naval force, upon that station, at the breaking out

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