1808 - Boats of the Heureux at Mahaut


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1808 Remarks on the 4-gun Schooners 45

amounting to about 44 officers and men, had landed and spiked the two 24-pounders upon the nearest battery. Having accomplished this, Lieutenant Lawrence and his party boarded a brig ; but, before either the schooner or the brig could be got off, the shore was lined with musketry, and three field-pieces were brought to bear upon the two captured vessels. In their way out, these unfortunately grounded, and thus became fixed objects for the enemy's fire, which was presently increased by the, remaining 24-pounder.

Finding it impossible to get the vessels afloat, and daylight appearing, Captain Coombe was in the act of giving orders to abandon them, when a 24-pound shot struck him on the left side, and he instantly expired, exclaiming, " I die contented ; I die for my country ! " Lieutenant Lawrence, who was wounded by a musket-ball in the arm, succeeded, by about 6 A.M., without any additional loss of consequence, in getting all three of the boats beyond the reach of shot.

We formerly submitted some remarks upon the ineligibility of a class of British cruisers, which it was thought advisable to build at Bermuda of the pencil cedar ; vessels that were to measure from 75 to 78 tons, and mount four 12-pounder carronades, with a crew of 20 men and boys. * These king's schooners, 12 in number, and named Ballahou, Baracouta, Capelin, Grouper, Haddock, Herring, Kingfish [aka Flying Fish], Mackarel, Pilchard, Pike, Snapper, and Whiting, were all launched and at sea in the course of the year 1804. A foreboding, perhaps, that their terms of service would be short, and the British navy, in consequence, suffer a reduction in its strength, caused 18 more a of these cock-boats to be constructed ; and they were all, before the end of the year 1806, launched, armed, manned, officered, and sent to " take, burn, and destroy" the vessels of war and merchantmen of the enemy. Of these 18 " men-of-war " schooners, six only were built at Bermuda, and, like the others, were named after the piscatory tribe : Bream, Chubb, Cuttle, Mullet, Porgay, and Tang. The remaining 12 were built in English dock-yards, and received the names of birds : Crane, Cuckoo, Jackdaw, Landrail, Magpie, Pigeon, Quail, Rook, Sealark, Wagtail, Wigeon, and Woodcock.

When the flimsy and diminutive frames, four or five in a slip, of these tom-tit cruisers came to be viewed amidst the substantial and towering structures standing near them, many a sailor's joke (and a sailor's joke is proverbially a good one) was cracked at the projector. This opened the eyes of the surveyors of the navy, and a slight enlargement of the class took place. Hence came the Adonis, Alphea, Barbara, Laura, Cassandra, Sylvia, and half a dozen of the like pretty names; schooners (some

* See vol. iii. Appendix, note i to Abstract No. 13

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