1803 - Admirals Rainier and Linois


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Colonial Expeditions - East Indies 212

drawn up by Napoléon himself, afford indubitable proofs of his bad faith towards England, particularly as regarded her Indian possessions. *

It was not many hours before the arrival of the Bélier, that Captain Joseph-Marie Vrignaud, of the Marengo, accompanied by the French admiral's nephew, had paid a visit to Vice-admiral Rainier, for the purpose of inviting the latter to breakfast on the following morning with M. Linois. The invitation was accepted, and the 16-gun ship-sloop Rattlesnake, which had just joined the squadron, was ordered to be ready to convey Vice-admiral Rainier to the anchorage of the Marengo and her consorts. But, whether it was owing to the peremptory nature of his orders, or that he feared their warlike tenour might escape, and he and his ships be detained by the British admiral, the French admiral, at midnight, unseen and unheard, slipped his cables, and, with the transport-brig Marie-Françoise, put to sea under all sail.

At daydawn on the 13th, to the surprise of the British, nothing was to be seen of M. Linois and his ships, either in the road, where he had left his anchors, and even the longboats of his ships fast at their grapnels, or as far as the eye could stretch in the offing. In the course of the morning the principal part of the British squadron got under way and set sail for Madras ; but the admiral, with the Centurion and one or two of the smaller ships, remained at the anchorage. On the same evening the French transport ship Côte-d'Or, with 326 troops on board, anchored in Pondicherry road ; and, at noon, the Centurion and Concorde got under way and anchored close to her.

On the 15th, at daybreak, the Belle-Poule, who had separated from her squadron and since been to Madras, appeared of the road, in company with the Terpsichore frigate. The latter cast anchor ; but the Belle-Poule, after making some signals to the transport, stood away to sea. At 11 p.m. the Côte-d'Or weighed and dropped out of the road, and in half an hour the Terpsichore was under all sail in chase of her. On the 16th, at daylight, the Terpsichore hailed the transport, and ordered her to return, but the French ship refused. On this the frigate fired a few shot, when the Côte-d'Or hauled down her colours, and quietly accompanied the Terpsichore back to the anchorage. On the 24th, in the forenoon, the French transport was allowed to sail, attended by the British frigate Dédaigneuse, to see that she went nowhere else but to her alleged destination, the Isle of France. On the same day, at 8 p.m., Vice-admiral Rainier weighed and steered for Madras, where he arrived on the following morning. Shortly afterwards the Dédaigneuse also arrived, having seen the French transport as far on her way to the Isle of France as the latitude of 1 50' north.

* See p. 176, and Appendix, No. 22.

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