1804 - Capture of Spanish Treasure Ships


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Capture of the Spanish Treasure Ships 281

of battle ahead, in the following order : Fama, Medea, Mercedes, Clara. At 9 h. 5 m. a.m. the Medusa placed herself within half pistol-shot, on the weather beam of the Fama. Presently the Indefatigable took a similar station by the side of the Medea; and the Amphion and Lively, as they came up, ranged alongside the Mercedes and Clara, the Amphion judiciously running to leeward of her opponent.

After ineffectually hailing the Medea to shorten sail, the Indefatigable fired a shot across her forefoot : on which the Spanish frigate did as she had been requested. Captain Moore then sent Lieutenant Thomas Arscott to inform the Spanish commanding officer, that his orders were to detain the squadron, and that it was his wish to execute those orders without bloodshed, but that the Spanish admiral's determination must be instantly made. The boat not returning so soon as expected, the Indefatigable made a signal for her, and, to enforce it, fired a shot ahead of the Medea. The officer having at length returned with an unsatisfactory answer, the Indefatigable, at about 9 h. 30 m. a.m., fired a second shot ahead of the Medea, and bore down close upon her weather bow. Immediately the Mercedes fired into the Amphion, and in a few seconds afterwards the Medea opened her fire upon the Indefatigable. The latter then made the signal for close battle ; and it instantly commenced with all the animation, on one side at least, which the prospect of such trophies could inspire.

At the end of about nine minutes the Mercedes blew up alongside of the Amphion with a tremendous explosion. In a minute or two afterwards the Fama struck her colours ; but, on the Medusa's ceasing her fire, rehoisted them, and attempted to make off. The Medusa immediately bore up under the Spanish frigate's stern, and poured in a heavy fire, but the Fama continued her course to leeward. Having sustained, during 17 minutes, the Indefatigable's heavy broadsides, and finding a new opponent in the Amphion, who had advanced on her starboard quarter, the Medea surrendered. In another five minutes the Clara did the same, and the Lively was left at liberty to aid the Medusa in the pursuit of the Fama. At about 45 m. past noon the Lively, being an admirable sailer, got near enough to fire her bow-guns at the Fama; and at 1 h. 15 m. p.m. this, the only remaining Spanish frigate, struck to the two British frigates in chase of her.

The force of the Indefatigable has already more than once appeared ; that of the Lively was the full establishment of a 38, numbering 46 guns, and the Amphion and Medusa each mounted 40 guns. The Lively had two men killed and four wounded ; the Amphion, three men wounded, one or two of them by the splinters which fell upon her decks when her unfortunate antagonist blew up. No other loss, and but a very trifling damage, was sustained by the British ships.

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