1804 - Eclair and Grande-Décidé, Boat of Eclair at Guadaloupe


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 246

gallant young officer, indeed, breathed his last in the early part of the ensuing September.

The following passage occurs in a translated copy (all, we believe, that has been published) of Lieutenant Cheminant's letter to Governor Villaret : " I render justice to the English ; they not only afforded the last military honours to the midshipman Bourgonnière, but they afforded the most particular assistance to the wounded, and not the value of a handkerchief was taken from the crew."

On the 5th of February, at 3 p.m., the British 12-gun schooner Eclair (18-pounder carronades), Lieutenant William Carr, while cruising about 68 leagues to the northward of the island of Tortola, saw and immediately chased a strange sail to the southward. In about half an hour the stranger was discovered to be a ship standing towards the Eclair. At 4 p.m., having by the usual mode of signalling ascertained that the vessel approaching her was an enemy, the schooner shortened sail and cleared for action. At 4 h. 30 m. the ship, which from subsequent information was the celebrated French privateer Grand-Décidé, Captain Mathieu Goy, of 22 long 8-pounders, and a complement including 80 soldiers, of about 220 men, being within musket-shot on the larboard and weather bow of the Eclair, hauled up her courses, hove to, and hoisted French colours. When within pistol-shot, the Grand-Décidé commenced the action, by discharging her larboard broadside and a heavy fire of musketry, and received in return the larboard broadside of the schooner. The Eclair then wore round and fired her starboard broadside. In this manner the action continued, without intermission on either side, until 5 h. 15 m. P.M.; when the French ship slackened her fire, filled, and bore up, as if intending to rake the schooner; but, instead of doing so, the privateer ceased firing, and made all sail to the northward. The Eclair instantly filled, and made sail in chase. At 7 P.M. the Grand-Décidé was getting away fast, and by 8 h. 30 in. had run entirely out of sight.

In this truly gallant exploit, the Eclair, out of her 60 men and boys, lost one marine killed and four seamen wounded, and had her standing and running rigging cut to pieces, and her barricade, masts, and yards much damaged. That a ship so powerful in guns and men as the Grand-Décidé, should, in a 45 minutes' engagement, have done no more execution in personnel, is as extraordinary, as that she should have ultimately fled from a vessel so much her inferior in guns, complement, and size. It was, however, established, to the entire satisfaction of Commodore Hood, that the privateer was the Grand-Décidé from Guadaloupe and that she was so armed and manned. The gallantry of Lieutenant Carr in attacking such a vessel, and the ability and determination displayed by him, his officers, and crew,

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