1803 - Racoon and Lodi


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 194

sixes *), Captain Austen Bissell, was working between the islands of Guanda and St.-Domingo, she observed, and immediately bore up for a French brig-corvette, lying at anchor in Leogane roads. The latter, which was our old acquaintance the Lodi, now reduced in force to 10 guns, 6-pounders and 61 men, and commanded by Lieutenant Pierre-Isaac Taupier, placed springs on her cables, and prepared to repel the attack of the British vessel. At 3 h. 15 m. p.m. having anchored, with a spring on her cable, within 30 yards of the Lodi, the Racoon commenced the action. After a mutual cannonade of 30 minutes' duration, the French brig cut her cables, and began to make off; whereupon the Racoon cut also, and, following closely, compelled her opponent, at the end of 10 minutes more, to strike her colours. The Lodi was nearly unrigged by the Racoon's well-directed fire, and sustained a loss of one man killed and 14 wounded. The Racoon had only one person wounded, master's mate Thomas Gill, whose left arm was carried away by a round shot.

On the 17th of August, at 1 p.m., the Racoon, cruising off San-Jago in the island of Cuba, in company with a prize-schooner, observed an armed brig coming alongshore; and who, soon afterwards, hauled her wind to speak a schooner which had been avoiding the Racoon since morning. At 3 P.M. the strange brig and schooner bore up together, under all sail, with a strong breeze. Captain Bissell stood off until certain of fetching them, and then made sail in shore. At 4 h. 15 m. P.M. the brig hoisted French colours, and fired a gun, still keeping within half a mile of the shore, under a press of sail. At 4 h. 20 m. P.M. she fired her broadside at the Racoon, and attempted to cross the latter's hawse; but the Racoon, although going eight knots through the water, put her helm hard a-port, and fired her broadside, which as the two vessels were nearly on board of each other, brought down the French brig's studdingsails, topsails, &c. The latter then luffed up, ran on shore in a small rocky bay, and struck her colours. To avoid a similar fate, the Racoon hove in stays, and, on wearing round, discovered the breakers nearly under her stern. In about half an hour the French brig rehoisted her colours, and was repeatedly fired upon, in passing, by the Racoon. Towards sunset the former's mainmast went overboard, and the vessel fell on her beam-ends. As the French brig had landed boats full of armed men, and lined the shore, and the Racoon was 44 men short of complement, including her two lieutenants, Captain Bissell felt himself obliged to refuse the application of the master, Mr. James John Thompson, to go, with a few picked men, and endeavour to burn the vessel. By morning

* The Racoon's carronades had originally been 32-pounders (see vol. ii., p. 369) ; but on March 3, 1800 these were ordered to be exchanged for 24s ; and. on September 14, 1802, the latter were again exchanged for 18s. On this subject see vol. i., p. 408, note Y *.

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