1804 - Immortalité off Boulogne


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 British and French Fleets - Channel 230

round Cape Grinez, but who kept too close to the shore to be molested. Towards the afternoon a second division of gun-vessels, under Capitaine de vaisseau Etienne Pevrieux, and two sections of Prussian mortar-vessel, got under way, and, when joined to Captain Le Ray's division, which was still manœuvring between Vimereux and Ambleteuse, formed a total of 60 brigs and upwards of 30 luggers. The French emperor himself, it appears, was at this time in the road in his barge, attended by Marshals Soult and Mortier, and Admiral Bruix. At 4 P.M. at. the Immortalité, followed by the Harpy, still commanded by Captain Heywood, gun-brig Adder, Lieutenant George Wood, and hired armed cutter Constitution, commanded by Lieutenant J. S. A. Dennis, made sail towards the flotilla, and in a quarter of an hour afterwards opened her fire; as did the vessels astern of her. The gun-vessels, however, kept near the shore, purposely to draw the British within reach of the batteries. There was no withstanding the temptation, and the Immortalité and her three companions tacked and stood in, within three quarters of a mile of the batteries, which kept up an incessant fire.

As if that were not enough to preserve the gun-vessels from capture, the greater part of those in the road weighed and proceeded to their assistance. " Presque tous les bâtimens qui se trouvaient en rade prirent part à ce combat, selon leur position, et furent soutenus par le feu des batteries de la côte, quand l'ennemi tents de s'en approcher. Les mortiers à grande portée lui firent beaucoup de mal, &c." *

At about 5 p.m., while the Constitution with her 12-pounder carronades was engaging, in the most gallant manner, a heavy gun-brig and two lugger-rigged yachts, painted with white bottoms and green sides, and richly gilt, a 13-inch shell fell on board between the companion and skylight, passed through the deck, stove a skuttle-butt, and went through the cutter's bottom. The hole being too large to be stopped, and the vessel filling fast, a signal of distress was hoisted. In a few minutes the boats of the squadron were alongside, and the whole of the crew were saved. A shell also fell on board the Harpy, and, after killing one of her seamen, lodged in a beam on the main deck, without doing further harm. The reason given for its not exploding is a very extraordinary one. According to several English accounts, the fuse was actually extinguished by the blood of the poor man, through whose body the shell had just passed. The Immortalité was twice struck by shot in the hull, and had four men slightly wounded. This frigate and her division, to which the Bruiser gun-brig, commanded as before, had since joined herself, now hauled off out of gun-shot. Some of the French vessels were compelled to run on shore on account of the shot-holes in their hulls; and such of the remainder, as

* Précis des Evènemens, tome xi., p. 47.

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