1810 - Captain Hall at Barbate, Boats of Blossom off Cape Sicie


Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>>

10 Pages <<<

1810 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 258

commission bears date on the day on which the service was executed.

On the night of the 28th of September, Lieutenant Captain Robert Hall, of the 14-gun brig-sloop Rambler, lying in Gibraltar bay, having been detached with some gun-boats in search of enemy's privateers to the westward, landed with 30 officers, seamen, and marines, after a pull of 20 hours at the sweeps, at a spot near the entrance of the river Barbate, or Barbet, about five miles to the north-west of Tarifa. Lieutenant Captain Hall and his party then crossed the sand-hills to get at a French privateer, lying about three miles up the river, protected by two 6-pounders, her own crew, and 30 French dragoons. After some sharp firing, the enemy retreated with the loss of five dragoons, seven horses, and two of the privateer's crew. The British then swam off to the privateer and carried her with no greater loss than one marine killed and one wounded. Among the officers present in this enterprise, we find the names of Lieutenant James Seagrove and Lieutenant of marines William Halsted.

Of all the official letters which we have had occasion to consult, this of Captain Hall's is the most difficult to understand. He speaks of landing with part of the crew of a gun-boat No. 14, " that of the Rambler and the marines and seamen of the Topaze, in all 30," and dates his letter on board " His majesty's sloop Rambler." We suppose, however, that both the Rambler and the Topaze, mentioned in the body of the letter, were gunboats. A little more explicitness would have enabled us to do justice to what appears to have been a very gallant exploit. Our contemporary seems also to have been led astray by the official letter. He says: " Captain Robert Hall, in the Rambler, a small brig of war, of 10 guns, took out of the river of Barbet, near Malaga, a French privateer, and some small vessels, with a degree of spirit and enterprise seldom exceeded." * No date is given but the year, and that is " 1809." On this point the official letter is clear; as well as that one vessel only was taken ; and that Barbet was " to the westward, " and not as Malaga notoriously is, to the eastward, of the rock of Gibraltar.

On the 4th of November the 18-gun ship-sloop Blossom, Captain William Stewart, cruising off Cape Sicie, observed the south-east and immediately chased a latteen xebec. At p.m., when the ship had arrived within four miles of the xebec, it fell calm. Captain Stewart despatched the cutter, under master's mate Richard Hambly, to reconnoitre the vessel, strictly charging him not to risk the life of a man, should he find her armed and disposed to make obstinate resistance. Almost immediately afterwards the Blossom's yawl, manned with volunteers, and commanded by the first Lieutenant Samuel Davis, having under him midshipman John Marshall, joined the

* Brenton, vol. iv., p. 358.

^ back to top ^