1804 - Boats of Galatea at the Saintes


Next Page

Previous Page
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Boats of the Galatea at the Saintes 273

having advanced nearly half-way up the channel, she came to an anchor under a reef of rocks.

Finding the Tartar to be in six fathoms' water, without the possibility of anchoring in safety, or of effectually cannonading the schooner, Captain Maxwell despatched three boats, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Mullah, assisted by Lieutenant Nicholas Lockyer and several midshipmen, all volunteers, to endeavour to bring out the privateer. The instant the boats put off, the Hirondelle hoisted her colours, fired a gun, and warped her broadside towards them. As the British advanced, the privateer opened a fire from her great guns, and, as the boats drew nearer, from her small arms also. In spite of this, and of a strong sea-breeze directly on the bows of the boats, Lieutenant Mullah intrepidly pulled up to the privateer ; and, after a short but obstinate resistance, boarded and carried her, with the loss only of one seaman and one marine wounded. The Hirondelle had nine killed and six wounded, besides three missing, supposed to have been drowned in attempting to swim on shore. The number of British in the boats does not appear in the official letter ; but, admitting they amounted to 50, or even to 60 officers and men, and that they had an 18-pounder carronade in the launch, still, against a vessel so well armed and prepared, and under circumstances of weather which, by retarding the progress of the boats, exposed them the longer to the privateer's fire, the capture of the Hirondelle was highly honourable to the parties engaged.

On the 12th of August, at 4 h. 30 m. p.m., the British 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Galatea, Captain Henry Heathcote, cruising in the neighbourhood of Guadaloupe, ran down the channel between that island and the Saintes islands, with the intention of attempting to cut out the late British sloop of war Lilly, which, it was understood, had gone into the Saintes, to repair and refit as a French privateer. At 6 h. 30 m. P.M., observing the Lilly at anchor in the road near the Anse à Mire, the Galatea hove to, hoisted out her boats, and sent them, in the evening, manned and armed, to execute the service. The boats returned soon after daylight on the 13th, without having been able to discover the Lilly ; but the Lilly, and all who were interested in defending her, had discovered them, and were making suitable preparations to resist an attack, should one again be attempted. An officer and 30 soldiers were added to the Lilly's crew, and a privateer schooner, which happened to be in port, was moored athwart the hawse of the ship, in such a manner as completely to enfilade the assailants in their approach. So confident were the French in the means they had taken to repulse the British, that the commanding officer on shore gave orders to the different outposts, and to those in command at the batteries, not to fire or do any thing to excite a suspicion that they were aware of the enemy's approach.

^ back to top ^