1803 - Loss of the Shannon, Boats of Merlin at Tatihou, Colonial Expeditions West Indies


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 206

nevertheless, in the most prompt and gallant manner, boarded, and in a few minutes carried her. The seamen had one of their number killed and five wounded ; the marines, although fired upon by two sentinels, had no one hurt. The Harmonie, mounting eight carriage-guns, with a complement of 66 men, had two of the latter killed and 14 wounded. The boats, accompanied by their prize, repassed the larboard fort, within musket-shot, but were so fortunate as to escape without further loss. In the conduct of this enterprise, much judgment as well as gallantry was evinced ; without which, from the many obstacles opposed to success, the result might not have been so favourable.

On the night of the 10th of December the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Shannon, Captain Edward Leveson Gower, in company with the 16-gun ship-sloop Merlin, Captain Edward Pelham Brenton, while standing across from Cape La Hève to Cape La Hougue, in a gale of wind from the south-south-west, was taken under the lee bow by the flood-tide, and carried up towards the river Isigny ; " and, when the captain supposed himself to the northward of Cape Barfleur, he had that lighthouse bearing about north." * The night was extremely dark and tempestuous, and the Shannon, about 8 P.M., struck the ground. The Merlin just then got a glimpse of the land in a flash of lightning, and instantly wore from it under her foresail and close-reefed main topsail. The Shannon, a fine new frigate of 881 tons (sister vessel to the Tribune), just launched, was totally wrecked : her officers and crew, fortunately, were all saved, but made prisoners by the French.

On the 16th, at 11 h. 30 m. A.M., Barfleur lighthouse bearing north half-west distant four leagues, the Merlin discovered her late consort the Shannon on shore under the batteries of Tatihou island. At 5 P.M., having approached quite near to the wreck, Captain Brenton despatched two boats manned and armed, under the orders of Lieutenants John Sheridan and Henry Clement Thompson, to endeavour to set fire to and destroy the frigate : a service which these officers effectually executed, without the loss of a man, although exposed to a heavy fire from the French batteries. About three years and three months after the loss of the Shannon, her late captain and officers, having returned to their country, were honourably acquitted of all blame by the sentence of a court-martial.

Colonial Expeditions - West Indies

A renewal of the war brings us again to the round of successful operations against the colonies of the weaker maritime powers. On the 21st of June, at 11 a.m., Commodore Samuel Hood, with the 74-gun ships Centaur and Courageux, Captains

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 302.

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