1803 - Boats of Blenheim and Drake at Martinique


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Boats of Blenheim and Drake at Martinique 205

the conduct of young a'Court evinced unparalleled gallantry, a considerable degree of judgment, and certainly both the officer and men in the boat deserved to have their names recorded for the bravery they had displayed.

No public mention was made by Captain Mudge of this affair, which is, we think, entitled to the publicity and the praise which we have endeavoured to render to a young, enterprising, and gallant officer.

On the 14th of November, while the British 74-gun ship Blenheim, Captain Thomas Graves, lay at anchor off the Diamond Rock, island of Martinique, intelligence reached her that the French privateer-schooner Harmonie, a vessel the most destructive to commerce of any in the Caribbean sea, had just put into the harbour of Marin in the bay of Sainte-Anne. The Blenheim immediately weighed, but, having a strong sea-breeze and lee-current to contend with, did not, until the morning of the 16th, arrive abreast of Marin. Having reconnoitred the harbour, the battery on each side of it, and that situated above the town, Captain Graves resolved to detach 60 seamen under Lieutenants Thomas Cole and Thomas Furber, and 60 marines under Lieutenants George Beatty and Walter S. Boyd, to attempt cutting out the privateer. The seamen in their boats were to attack the latter ; while the marines were to endeavour to surprise, or in any event to storm, Fort-Dunkirk, a battery of nine guns, situated on the starboard side of the harbour, and the possession of which was necessary, to prevent the island militia from rendezvousing on Marin point, whence they could have much annoyed the British boats on their return.

Just as the party was about to proceed, the British 14-gun brig-sloop Drake, Captain William Ferris, accompanied by the hired armed cutter Swift, joined the Blenheim. Captain Ferris, having volunteered, was permitted to take the command of the expedition, and to add 14 of the Drake's seamen to the 60 from the Blenheim, making a total of 134 seamen and marines, officers included. All things being prepared, the boats with the seamen, towed by the Drake, and those with the marines, by the Swift, at 11 P.M., proceeded off the mouth of Marin harbour, about three miles from the entrance to which the privateer lay. By judiciously timing their departure from the ship, both parties arrived at the same instant at their respective destinations. The marines surprised the fort, took to prisoners, dismounted and spiked the guns, among which were six 24-pounders, destroyed the carriages, and blew up the magazine ; but Lieutenant Beatty humanely spared the barracks, as, had they been set on fire a large, and ripe field of canes adjoining would inevitably have been destroyed.

The boats with the seamen passed the battery on the larboard side of the harbour undiscovered, but the privateer was upon her guard, and commenced a heavy fire on the British; who,

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