1804 - Capture of Vincejo


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 British and French Fleets - Channel 220

On the 8th of May, at daybreak, the British 18-gun brig-sloop Vincejo, Captain John Wesley Wright, (18-pounder carronades, with a crew on board of 51 effective men and the extraordinary number of 24 boys), having been becalmed close to the mouth of the river Morbihan, coast of France, was carried by the ebb-tide, in less than an hour, so near to the Teigneuse rock, that she was forced to anchor to avoid running upon it. Having sounded, the brig weighed and warped herself into the fair channel, still baffled in her manoeuvres by a calm and a strong tide directly against her. While in this situation, sweeping with all her strength to get clear of the coast, a flotilla of 17 armed vessels was rowing towards her from the Morbihan ; consisting of six brigs, first-class gun-vessels, with three guns, one 24 and two 18 pounders, and from sixty to 80 men each ; six luggers, second class gun-vessels, two guns, 18-pounders, with from 40 to 50 men each ; five luggers, third class gun-vessels, one brass 36-pounder carronade throwing shells, and from 20 to 30 men each ; total, 35 guns (of which 30 were long 18 and 24 pounders), and from 700 to 800 men, commanded by Lieutenant Laurent Tourneur.

By 8 h. 30 m. A.M., having advanced within extreme range, the gun-vessels began to open their fire. They continued gaining rapidly upon the brig until 9 h. 30 m. ; when they had approached so near, that the Vincejo was obliged to sweep her broadside to and engage, under the additional disadvantage that her few men were fatigued by hard labour at the oar, and divided during the action between the larboard guns and the starboard sweeps. The Vincejo maintained this unequal contest for nearly two hours, and that within grape and hailing distance. The brig's hull, masts, yards, and rigging had at length received great damage: three guns were disabled ; and, owing to the booms having fallen upon the main deck (the brig having a quarterdeck like the Port-Mahon), and the loss, out of her small effective crew, of two men killed and 12 wounded, including Captain Wright himself, in the groin (but who would not quit the deck), the fire was reduced to one gun in about five minutes. Thus situated, the Vincejo had no alternative but to strike her colours.

The loss sustained by the flotilla could never be ascertained ; but, from the marks of blood on board the brig to which the prisoners were first carried, and the evident damage done to several of the vessels, not a doubt was entertained as to its severity. A highly exaggerated account of this action appears in a French work, in which the little Vincejo, described as " une forte corvette, " is associated with " un lougre anglaise, " and the French force is reduced to " quatre canonnières. " *

The subsequent mysterious death of Captain Wright in the Temple at Paris struck all Europe with horror. Although the

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xvi., p. 33.

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