1805 - Captain Honyman off Ostende


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and French Fleets - Channel 306

he had been driven by the squadron of Sir Sidney Smith, * succeeded, at length, in reaching Dunkerque; where a great portion of the Gallo-Batavian flotilla had now assembled, and lay watching an opportunity to get to the westward, by departing, a division at a time, as the readiest mode to avoid discovery and molestation.

On the 23d of April, at 9 p.m. favoured by the darkness and a fresh wind from north-east, the first division, consisting of 33 gun-vessels and 19 transports, laden with stores from the camp at Ostende, weighed from Dunkerque road : The division passed Gravelines and Calais undiscovered ; when, just before daybreak on the 24th, the wind shifted to south-east, and then to south-south-east. Having a change of tide also against them, the vessels were thrown into disorder. The greater part of them now steered for an anchorage between the capes Blanez and Grinez, while eight schuyts, which had kept too long on the larboard tack, found themselves seven or eight miles from the shore. In this state the division was gained sight of by a British squadron, consisting of the 38-gun frigate Leda, Captain Robert Honyman, sloops Harpy and Railleur, Captains Edmund Heywood and Valentine Collard, bomb-vessel Fury, Captain John Yelland, and eight gun-brigs, the whole, except two of the latter which were sailing guard off Ambleteuse, at anchor off Boulogne.

The two gun-brigs off Ambleteuse, which were the Gallant and Watchful, Lieutenants Thomas Shirly and James Marshall, immediately chased north-east by signal, and the remainder of the squadron weighed and stood in the same direction. At 8 a.m. the above two gun-brigs closed with the eight armed schuyts, and a smart cannonade commenced between the latter, aided by the heavy batteries on shore, and the brigs. In a few minutes four large shot from the batteries struck the Gallant between wind and water, and compelled her to haul on the starboard tack in order to stop the leaks, which were gaining fast. One schuyt struck to the Watchful. The Railleur, and the gun-brigs Locust and Starling, Lieutenants John Lake and Charles Napier, coming up, compelled six others, before 10 a.m., also to surrender, but not until after a spirited resistance on the part of the schuyts.

Early on the morning of the 25th two other schuyts, which had drifted off the land, were captured by the Archer gun-brig, Lieutenant William Price, whose one seaman wounded was all the loss sustained by the British. The eight Gallo-Batavian schuyts averaged about 75 tons, mounted three guns each, chiefly long 24-pounders, and carried, altogether, 142 sailors and soldiers. The remainder of the division, assisted by several armed launches, containing grapnels and hawsers, sent out from

* See p. 224.

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