1804 - Wilhelmina and Psyché


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Wilhelmina and Psyché 265

brought her larboard broadside to bear; and presently the Psyché evinced an intention to board the British frigate upon the quarter ; but on seeing that the latter was prepared to repel the attempt, the Psyché put her helm a-starboard and sheered off. A furious cannonade was now maintained on both sides, the yard-arms nearly locking, until the Psyché, ranging ahead, crossed her opponent's bows. In practising this manoeuvre, the Psyché brought herself in the wind ; but by throwing her headsails aback, and keeping her after yards square or shivering, the French ship paid off : not, however, until the Wilhelmina, with her starboard guns, had poured in a raking fire astern. After this the two ships again got parallel to each other, and again engaged so closely, that the yards were overhanging; when, at 7 A.M. profiting by her more perfect state aloft, and her very superior powers of sailing, the Psyché ceased firing, crowded all the canvass she could spread, and stood away to the south-east.

This being an action during the progress of which the combatants frequently changed positions, the details of it will be better understood by a reference to the following diagram:

Ill calculated, indeed, was the Wilhelmina for a chase, either from or towards an enemy. Her main topmast was down ; her bowsprit wounded in two, and her foremast in 10 places ; her, fore and main yards, and her main and mizen masts were wounded, and her lower rigging and all her boats more or less damaged. Her aftermost forecastle bits were shot away, and her hull was pierced with shot in several places. A Captain Wright, of the India-service, was on board the Psyché during the engagement, and subsequently mentioned, that the Wilhelmina's shot, comparatively small as they were, had reduced the privateer to nearly a sinking state ; the latter, at the close of the action, having seven feet water in her hold, a circumstance that sufficiently explains the manner of its termination.

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