1803 - M. Linois at Pondicherry


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Admirals Rainier and Linois 211

of April, in a violent gale of wind, the Belle-Poule parted company from the squadron : and, although she called at Madagascar, this fast-sailing frigate anchored in Pondicherry road on the 16th of June, being the 102d day from her quitting Brest.

The Belle-Poule brought out a French colonel, appointed lieutenant-governor under M. Decaen ; and who now, in pursuance of his instructions, called upon the commanding officers of the different factories to restore the settlement agreeably to the article in the treaty. Owing to the want of orders, or to the informality of the application, the latter declined giving up their charge ; and thus matters remained, when, on the 5th of July, Vice-admiral Peter Rainier, with the 50-gun ship Centurion, Captain John Sprat Rainier, 74-gun ship Tremendous, Captain John Osborn, 64-gun ships Trident and Lancaster, Captains Thomas Surridge and William Fothergill, 44 en-flûte Sheerness, frigates Concorde, Dédaigneuse, and Fox, and ship-sloop Victor, from Bombay, partly in consequence of information from England representing that the peace was not very secure, anchored in the road of Cuddalore, situated about 20 miles to the south-west of Pondicherry. Consequently, when, on the morning of the 11th of July, Rear-admiral Linois, with the Marengo 74, and Atalante and Sémillante frigates, joined the Belle-Poule, Pondicherry and its dependencies still remained in the hands of the British.

Aware that his own and General Decaen's mission to the East had an object in view covertly inimical to British interests, the French admiral could well have dispensed with the presence of a British squadron ; and yet no sooner had he anchored than he found himself overlooked by one, consisting of three sail of the line, a 50, and four or five smaller vessels. Two of the squadron, the Trident and Victor, at this time lay at anchor in Pondicherry road ; and the remainder, including the flag-ship, in the road of Cuddalore. As soon as he observed the French squadron come to anchor, the British admiral got under way, and advanced nearer ; and, on being joined by the Trident and Victor, who had weighed since noon, reanchored at 7 p.m. about midway between Cuddalore and Pondicherry roads. On the 12th, at 10 a.m., the French transport brig Marie-Françoise joined Admiral Linois, and at 6 P.M. the brig-corvette Bélier, with despatches from France. This vessel had quitted Brest ten days later than the Marengo, and, it was understood, brought out the substance of the king of England's message to his parliament of March 8 ; with directions to M. Linois to repair instantly to the Isle of France, there to get his ships, already armed and manned on a war establishment, refitted and provisioned, and expect every day to receive an order to commence hostilities against the English. This appears to have been the substance of these despatches, but their full contents have not transpired. The instructions put into the hands of M. Decaen when he sailed from France, and which appear to have been

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