1803 - Boats of Naiad at the Saintes


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Capture of the Minerve 191

would soon be clear of the forts; " Then d--n the legs! " exclaimed the poor fellow, and taking his knife from his pocket, he cut the remaining muscles which attached them to him, and joined in the cheers with the rest of his comrades. When the ship was taken, he was placed in the boat to be conveyed to the hospital ; but determined not to outlive the loss of liberty, he slacked his tourniquets, and bled to death." *

To this account we have only to add, that, among the gun-vessels which attacked the Minerve in her defenceless situation, were the two brigs Chiffon and Terrible, each armed with eight or ten heavy long guns. They, in fact, were the " chaloupes canonnières " alluded to in the French accounts. In capturing the Minerve, the French got back one of their own frigates ; and they represent her, truly, we believe, to have mounted, including fourteen 32-pounder carronades and six nines on the quarterdeck and forecastle, 48 guns.

In the month of January, 1806, and not before, Captain Brenton was released from his captivity in exchange for Captain Infernet, of the Intrépide, taken at the Battle of Trafalgar. At a court-martial subsequently held at Portsmouth, Captain Brenton, his officers, and surviving ship's company, were not only most honourably acquitted for the loss of the Minerve, but highly praised for their gallant defence of her.

On the 4th of July, in the evening, the British 38-gun frigate Naiad, Captain James Wallis, sent her boats, under the orders of Lieutenant William Dean, assisted by Lieutenant John Louis, Lieutenant of marines Robert Irwin, and Messieurs Gordon, Glenny, and Stewart, midshipmen, to cut out from among the rocks and shoals of the Saintes near Brest the French national schooner Providence, of two guns and 22 men and boys, Lieutenant Martres Préville, on her way from the foundery near Nantes to Brest, laden with heavy cannon, 36, 24, and 18 pounders, and some choice ship-timber. Notwithstanding, all the difficulties they had to encounter in the rapidity of the tide, and the number of rocks and shoals with which the French schooner was surrounded and protected, the British boats brought her safely off, without the occurrence of the slightest accident.

On the afternoon of the 24th of July a heavy squall from the land induced the two French 74s in Cape François, the Duquesne, Commodore Pierre-Maurice-Julien Querangal, and Duguay-Trouin, Captain Claude Touffet, accompanied by the 40-gun frigate Guerrière, Captain Louis-Alexis Beaudouin, to put to sea, in the hope to be able to effect their escape to Europe. On clearing the harbour, the two 74s hauled to the westward, but not unseen by a part of the British blockading squadron; which then consisted of the four 74-gun ships Bellerophon, Commodore John Loring, and Elephant, Theseus, and Vanguard, Captains George Dundas, John Bligh, and James Walker.

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 213.

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