1804 - Tartar and Hirondelle


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 272

lieutenant were among the killed, which, according to the French accounts, amounted to a great proportion of the crew ; and her badly wounded, on the same authority, were 15 or 16, including all her remaining officers. The Dame-Ambert had been the British packet Marlborough, one of the largest in the service, recently captured. She was afterwards refitted at Guadaloupe, and armed with 16 long French 6-pounders, and a complement of 140 men. The French say, that their crew, when they fell in with the Lilly (but this wants confirmation), was reduced to 75 men, and that the Dame-Ambert lost in the action five men killed and 11 wounded.

Nothing but the accidental circumstance of the Lilly's having three masts instead of two occasioned her not to be classed as a gun-brig ; and truly, if she had been a gun-brig, she would have been one of the least effective in the service. They all carry carronades of an 18-pounder caliber : hers were 12-pounders, and those of the old construction, short and badly formed, the derision of the merest tyro in naval gunnery. Unfortunately, owing to the mortality among the British officers, and the stigma that attaches to the capture of a king's ship by a privateer, no account of this action has been published, except in the French papers. It is only to call things by their right names, and that which seems a disgrace becomes, in reality, an honour. A defeat like the Lilly's is more creditable than many a puffed-up victory, for which chaplets have been worn and rewards bestowed. The fact of her having been a sloop of war was not lost upon the captors ; and " une corvette de l'état " occurs in more than one place in the French account of the action. The prize was afterwards fitted out as a privateer, and named, after the Governor of Guadaloupe, Général-Ernouf.

On the 31st of July, at daybreak, the British 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Tartar, Captain Keith Maxwell, standing in to leeward of the island of Saona, West Indies, discovered from her mast-head a small sail, to which she immediately gave chase ; keeping as close as possible to leeward of the island, in order to prevent the latter's escape that way, and compel her to make the attempt through the passage between Saona and St.-Domingo, a very narrow and intricate channel even for small vessels. At about 7 A.M. the chase was made out to be a schooner, full of men, using her sweeps to escape through the before-mentioned channel. By carrying all possible sail, the Tartar, at 8 A.M., got within range of shot ; but, owing to the short tacks she was obliged to make, could use her guns to very little purpose without losing ground in the chase. The schooner, therefore, which was the French privateer Hirondelle, Captain La Place, of 10 long 4-pounders and 50 men, notwithstanding that several of the frigate's shot passed over her and through her sails, persisted in beating to windward until 10 a.m. ; when

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