1804 - Commodore Hood and the Diamond-rock


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
for Cutting Out The Curieux read
Arming the Diamond Rock

person, when he has landed, has to creep through crannies, and over dangerous steeps, until he reaches the north-west side, where the eye is suddenly relieved by a sloping grove of wild fig-trees.

In the latter end of the year 1803 the British 74-gun ship Centaur, Captain Murray Maxwell, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore Samuel Hood, was cruising off Fort-Royal bay, to watch the port and intercept the vessels bound in or out of it. Finding that, as the Diamond had deep water all round, many vessels escaped capture by running inside of it, Captain Hood determined to take possession of and fortify the rock; and make it a sort of dépôt, or stationary ship of war, whence boats could be detached to harass the enemy's trade. A landing was effected ; and in the course of the month of January, 1804, with incredible difficulty, five of the Centaur's guns, three long 24 and two 18 pounders, were mounted in different parts of this stupendous rock. The mode of getting then from the ship to an eminence so much higher than her mast-heads was characteristic and ingenious : a cable was made fast by one end to the ship and by the other to the rock, along which passed a traveller, or running loop ; to this was suspended the cannon, or whatever else it was desirous to remove, and which, by means of suitable tackles, was dragged up the acclivity of the cable to the summit of the rock. " Were you to see, " says a writer, who was on the spot. " how, along a dire, and, I had almost said, a perpendicular acclivity, the sailors are hanging in clusters, hauling up a four-and-twenty pounder by hawsers, you would wonder ; they appear like mice hauling a little sausage : scarcely can we hear the governor on the top of the rock directing them with his trumpet, the Centaur lying close under it, like a cocoa-shell, which the hawsers are affixed. " *

One of the 24-pounders, fitted upon a circular carriage, commanded the landing place, and would reach in an eastern direction nearly across the bay of Marin. Another was mounted upon the north-east side, and the third 24 about midway up the rock. Upon the summit, which commands an immense distance, were mounted the two 18-pounders. As soon as these guns were all mounted, and a sufficient quantity of powder and shot for their use was brought from the Centaur, Lieutenant James Wilkes Maurice, of that ship, with the rank of commander, and a crew of 120 men and boys, for whom a four months' supply of provisions and water had also been landed, hoisted his pendant on board the British " sloop of war " Diamond-rock.

On the evening of the 3d of February four boats, containing 60 seamen and 12 marines, under the orders of Lieutenant Robert Carthew Reynolds, of the Centaur, then at her old

* Naval Chronicle, vol. xxii., p. 206

So registered in the Navy Lists.

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