1803 - Hercule and Poursuivante, Capture and loss of Créole


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 188

letter), and had on board a crew of only 80 men and boys. The prize a remarkably fast-sailing ship,* was afterwards added to the British navy under her French name; but, getting aground soon after she was commissioned, the Mignonne was obliged to be laid in the mud in Port-Royal harbour, Jamaica.

When the Goliath's signal was made to chase the Mignonne, the Cumberland made the Hercule's to endeavour to cut off the Poursuivante. The Hercule made sail in very light and baffling winds, and appears to have brought to to fire her broadside long before there was any occasion. Owing to this the Poursuivante, untouched by a shot, gained considerably in the chase, although the Hercule was evidently the faster sailer. Subsequently the Hercule filled and got within gun-shot, and a smart action ensued ; but the British 74, owing perhaps to a dread of shoal water, managed so badly, that the French frigate effected her escape into Cape Nicholas-Mole.

The Hercule was a good deal damaged in her rigging and sails, and had a few men wounded, but none killed. A French account erroneously states, that the Hercule had 40 men killed and wounded, including among the former her captain. Captain Ferris, in fact, was at Jamaica, and the first lieutenant, as we have stated, was the acting commander. The Poursuivante had her masts, rigging, sails, and hull very much cut up, and lost six men killed and 15 wounded. Great credit was due to Captain Willaumez, his officers and crew, for the skill and spirit which they evinced upon the occasion. The Poursuivante, we believe, eventually reached Rochefort; but, as far as our researches go, this powerful frigate never afterwards went to sea. Having been built in a Dutch port, and that as long ago as the year 1794 or 1795, the Poursuivante, in all probability, was found to be rotten and unserviceable.

On the 30th of June, soon after daylight, as the Cumberland and Vanguard 74s, Captains Henry William Bayntun and James Walker, were cruising between Jean-Rabel and Cape Nicholas-Mole, a large ship was discovered steering down towards the last-named port. The two 74s immediately went in chase, and soon arrived up, the Vanguard on the starboard beam, and the Cumberland on the larboard bow, of the French 40-gun frigate Créole, Captain Jean-Marie-Pierre Lebastard.

After receiving a few shot from the Vanguard, and firing one in return, the Créole hauled down her colours. The frigate had quitted Cape-François the preceding day, and had on board General Morgan, the second in command at the island, and his staff; together with 530 troops, but only 150 seamen. Being a fine large frigate, the Créole was added in her own name to the 38-gun class of the British navy; but, owing in a great degree to the insufficient manner in which she was repaired at Port

* The Jamaica measurement of the Mignonne was 642 tons, but 500 was probably nearer the mark. See vol. iii., p. 49.

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