1804 - Destruction of Charente and Joie, Lilly and Dame-Ambert


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Lilly and Dame Ambert 271

last from the Gironde, bound to Bayonne, the brig laden with cannon and ordnance stores.

At 5 p.m. the Aigle closed with the French ship and brig ; and, from their not having altered their course, and their now exchanging signals and shortening sail, Captain Wolfe expected that they meant to engage. To the surprise, however, of the British, the Charente and Joie, after firing their starboard broadsides without effect, ran upon the strand about 10 leagues to the southward of Cordouan, and within a stone's throw of each other. The French crews then took to the boats ; but, these becoming swamped in the surf, many of the men were drowned. The Aigle immediately anchored about a mile from the beach, for the purpose of endeavouring to get the two vessels afloat ; but the immense surf thrown up in consequence of a recent westerly gale rendered fruitless every effort, although persevered in for a whole night and part of the next day. Captain Wolfe was therefore obliged to destroy the French ship and brig ; a service which was effectually executed, under the personal directions of Mr. Furlonger the master, and Mr. Steel the gunner.

On the 15th of July, at 2 h. 30 m. A.M., Cape Roman in the United States of America in sight, the French ship-rigged privateer Dame-Ambert, Captain Charles Lamarque (represented as a reduced officer of the French navy), saw and chased a ship to leeward. The latter, which was the British 14-gun ship-sloop Lilly, Captain William Compton, being equally desirous of a meeting, the two ships by 9 h. 30 m. A.M. were near enough for the Dame-Ambert to open her fire. The British ship, however, was compelled to wait until her paltry 12-pounder carronades (not equal in effectiveness to 4-pounder long guns) could reach her antagonist. Having disabled the Lilly in sails and rigging, and considerably weakened her in crew, the Dame-Ambert closed, in order to finish the contest by boarding. To do this effectually, the Dame-Ambert, who from the entire state of her rigging possessed the facility of manúuvring as she pleased, stationed herself in a raking position ; and, having swept the Lilly's deck by her guns, lashed the sloop's bowsprit to her taffrail. In this state the French privateer made eight successive attempts to board, and was gallantly repulsed in all. On the ninth time, having killed the Lilly's captain, first lieutenant, and others of her principal officers, and killed or wounded the greater part of her remaining crew, the Dame-Ambert, just two hours and 10 minutes from the commencement of the action, carried the British vessel.

The Lilly had been a Bermudian trader, and in the year 1795 was purchased for the British navy. She measured 200 tons, was armed with 14 carronades, 12-pounders, and two long fours, and had a complement of 80 men and boys. Her exact loss in the action cannot now he ascertained. Her captain and first

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