1803 - Boats of Blanche in Mancenille bay, Lieutenant Nicolls and the Albion


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Boats of Blanche in Mancenille Bay 201

and, in the face of a heavy fire opened upon the schooner and the boats by some field-pieces brought down to the beach, the British totally destroyed the French lugger, without incurring any loss, although the Milbrook was several times struck by shot.

On the 3d of November, while the 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Blanche, Captain Zachary Mudge, was lying at an anchor off the entrance of Mancenille bay, island of St.-Domingo, the French cutter Albion, armed with two 4-pounders, six swivels, and 20 muskets, and manned with 43 officers and men, was discovered lying close to the guns of Monte-Christi, waiting to carry her cargo, consisting of 52 bullocks, to the relief of the garrison of Cape-François. As the cutter, notwithstanding her proximity to the fort, which mounted four long 24-pounders and three field-pieces, appeared to be assailable, Captain Mudge, on the same day, despatched the launch, barge, and two cutters, with 63 officers and men, under the command of Lieutenant William Braithwaite, to attempt cutting her out. The boats returned unsuccessful, not owing to any lack of zeal in officer or men, but to their having proceeded to the attack in open day, with the sea-breeze blowing right into the bay. The battery, in consequence, had begun early to fire at the boats, and soon convinced Lieutenant Braithwaite that, should be even succeed in capturing the cutter, it would, in the state of the wind, be impossible to get her from the shore without a great sacrifice of lives.

With more judgment, a night attack was determined upon and Lieutenant Edward Nicolls, of the marines, volunteered with one boat, to attempt cutting out the vessel. His offer was accepted ; and on the evening of the 4th the red cutter, with 13 men, including himself, pushed off from the frigate. A doubt respecting the sufficiency of the force, or some other cause, induced Captain Mudge to order the barge, with 22 men, under the orders of Lieutenant the Honourable Warwick Lake, first of the Blanche, to follow the red cutter and supersede Lieutenant Nicolls in the command. The second boat joined the first, and as soon as the two arrived abreast of the French cutter, Lieutenant Nicolls hailed Lieutenant Lake, and pointed her out to him; but the latter professed to disbelieve that the vessel in sight was the Albion: he considered that she lay on the opposite or north-east side of the bay, and with the barge proceeded in that direction ; leaving the red cutter to watch the motions of the vessel, which Lieutenant Nicolls still maintained was the Albion, the object of their joint search.

It was now 2 h. 30 m. a.m. on the 5th, and the land wind was blowing fresh out of the bay. An hour or two more, and the day would begin to dawn, and the breeze to slacken, perhaps wholly to subside. The men in the boat were few, but their hearts were stout. In short the red cutter commenced pulling,

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