1804 - Lieutenants Cumpston and King at Trinité Martinique, Lieutenant Furber at St.-Pierre


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 252

seniority of service and absence of convoy, in the chief command of the fleet intrusted to my care, it has been my good fortune to have been enabled, by the firmness of those by whom I was supported, to perform my trust not only with fidelity, but without loss to my employers. Public opinion and public rewards have already far outrun my deserts; and I cannot but be sensible that the liberal spirit of my generous countrymen has measured what they are pleased to term their grateful sense of my conduct, rather by the particular utility of the exploit, than by any individual merit I can claim." Here is an instance of modesty and candour, as exemplary as it is rare; and which sheds an additional lustre upon the character of Sir Nathaniel Dance.

On the 19th of February the British 14-gun brig-sloop Drake, under the temporary command of Lieutenant William King of the Centaur, while cruising off the port of Trinité on the north side of the island of Martinique, discovered in the harbour, taking in cargoes in defiance of the blockade, two American brigs and a schooner, moored within pistol-shot of a fort mounting three French 24-pounders. Being determined to make an attempt to cut out these vessels, Lieutenant King despatched the boats of the Drake, under the orders of Lieutenant William Cumpston, assisted by Mr. William Robson, the master, upon that service. The three American vessels were gallantly boarded and taken possession of, in the face of a heavy fire from the fort, and from two field-pieces ; but having no wind, Lieutenant Cumpston and his party could only succeed in bringing out the schooner, which was accomplished without loss.

On the night of the 24th Lieutenant King himself, with 21 seamen and nine marines, landed and spiked the guns at the fort and the two field-pieces, with the loss of one seaman killed and Lieutenant Cumpston and one seaman slightly wounded.

On the night of the 4th of March the barge and pinnace of the 74-gun ship Blenheim, Captain William Ferris, having on board 50 officers and men under the orders of Lieutenant Thomas Furber, made a most gallant ; but unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French national schooner Curieuse, lying chain-moored close under a fort at the town of St. Pierre. The schooner had made very formidable preparations, having rigged out her sweeps on each side, traced her boarding-nettings to her lower mastheads, and there fastened them in the securest manner. Notwithstanding all this, and a heavy fire of great guns and musketry, as well from the schooner herself, as from a party of soldiers drawn up on the beach, from the neighbouring forts, and from an armed sloop and several smaller vessels, Lieutenant Furber and those under him gallantly boarded and carried the Curieuse ; but, no sooner were her cables cut, than the schooner, held fast by the chain, swang round and grounded upon the beach. The severe loss now sustained obliged Lieutenant Furber to desist from any further attempts ; and the two boats

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