1810 - Ceylon and Venus


Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>>

10 Pages <<<

1810 Ceylon and Venus 311

p.m. the Boadicea ran the Vénus alongside ; and, after a 10 minutes' mutual cannonade, in which the Boadicea had her bowsprit badly struck and two men wounded, and the Vénus nine men killed and 15 wounded, the French frigate hauled down her colours. Soon after the Boadicea had taken her prize in tow, the Otter, by signal, rendered the same service to the Ceylon ; and Captain Gordon, having by this time returned on board with his first and third lieutenants, resumed the command of his recovered frigate. The Victor being too far off to be pursued with any chance of overtaking her, Commodore Rowley returned with his prize and recapture to the bay of St.-Paul.

In order to show what an important discrepancy occurs between the French and English official accounts of the capture of the Ceylon, we here subjoin an extract from each. Captain Morice says: " At this moment I discovered that the two vessels had lost their topmasts and one her mizenmast ; each was at quarters, * and ready for action ; the fire at length ceased, and I recognised the Vénus; I passed within pistol-shot of the enemy without being fired at ; I wore round on the other tack, and again passed him at the same distance without receiving any fire. I closed the commodore, who ordered me to demand of this vessel whether or not she had surrendered ; I immediately executed the service, and returned to the commodore with information that she had struck ; I then lay to and sent a boat commanded by M. Ménager; enseigne de vaisseau, to take out the officers of this vessel, and convey them on board the Vénus; that order was executed. Daylight came ; and I perceived that these vessels had fought with all sail set, from seeing a foretopmast studding-sail hanging from the enemy's fore yardarm."

Here follows an extract from the official letter of Captain Gordon: " At 5 a.m., the enemy's fore and main masts standing with the assistance of his foresail, enabled him to wear close under our stern, and take a raking position under our lee quarter. His majesty's ship lying an unmanageable wreck, I directed the mizen topsail to be cut away, and endeavoured to set a fore staysail, in hopes of getting the ship before the wind, but without effect. The second ship having opened her fire with the great advantage the enemy had by having both his ships under command, enabled him to take and keep his raking position, and pour in a heavy and destructive fire, while his majesty's ship could only bring a few quarter guns to bear. In the shattered and disabled state of his majesty's ship, a retreat was impossible. The superiority of the enemy's heavy and destructive fire left me no hopes of success. Reduced to this

* The lights in the ports would discover this.

For the original extract, see Appendix, No. 14.

^ back to top ^