1805 - Blanche with Topaze and Consorts


 
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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
by
William James
1805 Blanche with Topaze and Consorts 145

était dans sa calle," and accounts for his preferring her immediate and certain destruction by fire, to awaiting her tardy, and perhaps, in his opinion, doubtful destruction by sinking. In a respectable French account, M. Baudin is blamed for having destroyed the Blanche, when, according to the information afforded to the writer, he might so easily have manned and refitted her. *

Now that we have taken the trouble to sift the chaff from the grain, we confess our inability to discover anything calculated to distinguish this case of defence and surrender from others that have occurred ; not, at least, on the score of superior merit. Captain Mudge defended his ship until he thought it useless to waste more blood ; for we are called upon fairly to state, that, after the first half-hour's action, escape was almost impossible, without some very unlikely accident should have happened to his determined opponent.

After having effectually disposed of his prize, Captain Baudin, with his little squadron, made the best of his way home. On the 14th of August, in the evening, when in the latitude of Rochefort, and about 200 leagues from it, the British 20-gun ship Camilla, Captain Bridges Watkinson Taylor, discovered and pursued the Faune, who had rather separated from her companions. On the 15th, at daylight, the 74-gun ship Goliath, Captain Robert Barton, joined in the chase, and at 8 A.M. the Faune, with, not, as Captain Mudge had stated, 123, but with 98 men on board (exclusive of 22 late of the Blanche), was captured. While the Camilla and the prize steered for England, the Goliath continued her course to the southward ; and, in the same afternoon, just as the latter was joined by the 64-gun ship Raisonable, Captain Josias Rowley, the Topaze and the two ship-corvettes were discovered and chased. The corvettes, by signal, separated from the frigate : one, the Département-des-Landes, effected her escape ; but the other, the Torche, at about 8 P.M., was captured by the Goliath, and had on board, not " 213, " but 196, of her own, and 52 of the late Blanche's men.

On the 16th, at daybreak, the Raisonable and Topaze found themselves singly in each other's sight ; the latter about three miles ahead of the former, and both ships steering to the southward, under all sail, with a fresh northerly wind. At 9 A.M., when the wind, having begun to fall, was favouring the weathermost ship, and gradually approximating the two, the Topaze hoisted her colours, and opened from her stern-chasers a steady and well-directed fire of round and grape, evidently for the purpose of crippling the Raisonable. At 9 h. 30 m. A.M., by which time her fore topsail had been completely riddled, and

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xvi., p. 150.

Official letter of Captain Mudge.

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