1805 - Expedition to retake the Diamond rock, and its recapture


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and Franco-Spanish Fleets 336

to proceed straight to Martinique, and, with the 5100 men on board the combined fleet, capture Sainte-Lucie, if not already taken by the Rochefort squadron ; leave a garrison there, and, if necessary, strengthen the garrisons of Dominique, Martinique, and Guadaloupe, the two latter of which had already, the one 1500, the other 1600 troops. He was then to wait a month in the Antilles, in order to afford Vice-admiral Ganteaume an opportunity of joining with his 21 sail of the line ; and, to make the intervening time pass profitably as well as pleasantly, he was to do all possible injury to the enemy, " faire tout le mal possible à l'ennemi." The governor-generals of Martinique and of Guadaloupe, Vice-admiral Villaret Joyeuse and General Enouf, were to lend their aid, and, if necessary, a portion of their respective garrisons, towards the fulfilment of this object. The want of provisions in the fleet, or of unanimity in the council, or some other unexplained cause, kept M. Villeneuve's ships in the harbour of Fort-Royal until the latter end of May ; when two of the 74s moved out to attack the Diamond Rock, which, with its sloop's company of officers and men, still persisted to fire at and annoy every French vessel that passed within range of its heavy cannon.

The expedition destined to retake this very harassing and not informidable "king's ship," consisting of the Pluton and Berwick 74s, 36-gun frigate Sirène, 16-gun brig-corvette Argus. Fine [this is the vessel's name ie Fine] armed schooner, and 11 gun-boats, under the orders of Commodore Cosmao of the Pluton, having on board from 300 to 400 troops of the line commanded by chef d'escadron Boyer. On the 29th of May, at 5 h. 30 m. P.M., the expedition sailed from Fort-Royal. By the morning of the 30th the ships had not made much progress ; but on the 31st, at daybreak, they were far windward of the rock, and at 7 a.m. bore down towards it. The Diamond had been blockaded ever since the arrival of the combined fleet at Martinique: therefore Captain Maurice, when he saw Commodore Cosmao's squadron sail out, anticipated its destination, and prepared accordingly.

Considering it impossible to defend the lower works against such a force as was approaching, Captain Maurice abandoned them, spiking the two guns, drowning the powder, and cutting away the launch from the landing place. At 8 a.m. the ships opened their fire ; which was returned by Hood's battery and Fort-Diamond, the one being the 24-pounder about midway up the rock, the other the two 18-pounders on its summit. The ships bombarded the rock during the 31st of May and 1st of June, and until 4 h. 30 m. p.m. on the 2d ; when Captain Maurice, having, as he states, " but little powder left, and not sufficient quantity of ball-cartridges to last until dark, " threw out a flag of truce. At 5 p.m. the Fine schooner hoisted similar flag ; and terms honourable to the garrison, which consisted of 107 officers and men, were agreed to the same evening.

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