1808 - Redwing and Spanish gun-boats


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1808 British Schooners and French Privateers 47

some, as already mentioned, by falling into the hands of the enemy, and the remainder by foundering in the deep or perishing on the rocks.

Some of the smaller 10-gun class also became the trophies of French privateers ; one case is all we shall relate. On the 17th of September, 1807, the Barbara, Lieutenant Edward A. D'Arcey, after a well-contested action of half an hour ; was boarded and taken by the French privateer General-Ernouf, Captain Grassin, and carried into Guadaloupe. On the 17th of July, 1808, in the Gulf of Florida, the Barbara, then named Pératy, was recaptured by the 38-gun frigate Guerrière, Captain Alexander Skene. The privateer had sailed from Charleston about a week before, and, when fallen in with, was in the track of the Jamaica, homeward-bound fleet; " of which, " says Captain Skene, " she had obtained most correct information, as to their strength, number, and situation, from the master of an American brig, who had himself claimed and received the protection of that convoy, which he betrayed to the enemy in 24 hours after parting company."

On the 7th of May, at daylight, Cape Trafalgar bearing west-north-west distant about six miles, the British 18-gun brig-sloop Redwing, of 16 carronades, 32-pounders, and two long sixes ; Captain Thomas Ussher, discovered a Spanish convoy of seven armed and 12 merchant vessels, coming down alongshore. The wind being very light and variable, the Redwing was not able to close with the enemy until 7 a.m. ; when, the two parties being within point-blank shot of each other, the Spanish gun-vessels, seven in number, handed their sails, formed a close line, and swept towards the Redwing; indicating an intention to board. That the Spaniards had good reason to hope for success, will be seen when the force of their vessels is described. The Diligente and Koreas mounted each two long 24 and two long 8 pounders, with a crew of 60 men ; gun-boats, No. 3, two long 24 and one long 36 pounder and 35 men ; No. 6, one 24 and 40 men, and No. 107, two 6-pounders and 35 men ; a mistico four 6-pounders and 20 men ; and a felucca four long 3-pounders and 20 men ; total 22 guns and 271 men. Nowise daunted, notwithstanding the Redwing endeavoured also to close, in order to decide the business quickly, and, if possible, secure the merchantmen.

As soon as her opponents had advanced within musket-shot, the brig opened upon them a quick and well-directed fire, her guns evidently doing great execution. At 9 a.m. the gun-boats, completely panic-struck and beaten, pushed into the surf, sacrificing their wounded. To save these, if possible, Captain Ussher despatched one of his boats ; but the Redwing's men, notwithstanding all their exertions, were unable to rescue a single Spaniard. Seeing the fate of their protectors, two of whom only remained afloat, the merchant vessels attempted to disperse.

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