1803 - Racoon and Mutine, Racoon and Petite-Fille


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Racoon and Mutine 195

the latter had lost her remaining mast, and lay a perfect wreck, full of water.

On this occasion the Racoon sustained neither loss nor damage. As to the name and force of his opponent, Captain Bissell says, " I have since learned her name is la Mutine, national brig, carrying 18 long 18-pounders, and was full of men from Port-au Paix, bound to St.-Jago. " Such a force for a brig has not been met with. The guns, if 18-pounders, must have been carronades ; or, as is more probable, were long eights or sixes.

On the 13th of October, in the afternoon, the Racoon, still commanded by the same enterprising officer, while cruising off Cumberland harbour in the island of Cuba, observed several vessels to windward coming close alongshore, all of which, before sunset, hauled in towards the harbour. Having heard of the evacuation of Port-au-Prince, Captain Bissell anchored in a small bay, in the expectation of seeing those vessels pass him in the night. Daylight on the 14th discovered eight or nine sail, a few miles to windward, nearly becalmed. The Racoon instantly weighed, with a fine land wind, and proceeded in chase. At 6 h. 30 m. A.M. a brig, a schooner, and a cutter, all apparently full of men, hoisted French colours, and fired guns to windward. The brig attempted to get in-shore of the Racoon, and her two consorts, with the assistance of their sweeps and boats, endeavoured to join her. The land breeze, however, carried the Racoon within gun-shot of the brig ; which, after receiving one or two broadsides, struck, and proved to be the Petite-Fille, French national gun-brig, having onboard 180 troops, including about 50 officers of all ranks.

Scarcely had the Racoon sent an officer and a small party of men to secure her prize, than the schooner and cutter, having got nearly within gun-shot, commenced firing. Calms and baffling winds prevented the Racoon from getting nearer until 10 a.m., when the sea-breeze set in. At 11 A.M. the two vessels bore up together, evidently with a determination to board the Racoon, the cutter steering for her bows, and the schooner hauling out to pass astern. The British brig shortened sail to receive her two opponents, but kept herself under sufficient command to counteract their design. When the assailants had arrived within pistol-shot, the Racoon fired a broadside at the cutter, who speedily returned it with long guns and musketry. The Racoon then wore round and fired her opposite broadside into the schooner; and so, alternately, maintaining a running fight, and preventing either from boarding. This mode of engaging lasted more than an hour, both schooner and cutter keeping up an incessant fire of musketry ; nor was it until she had been literally beaten to a wreck, and had lost many men in killed, that the cutter struck her colours. She proved to be the Amélie a national vessel, carrying four carriage guns, with many swivels, and upwards of 70 troops.

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