1810 - Capture of Amboyna


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1810 Colonial Expeditions - East Indies 318

other particulars, that the force at Banda, according to a return found at the capture of Amboyna, consisted of more than regular troops. On the 25th the ships anchored, for a short time, under the north end of the island of Borneo, chiefly that the Piémontaise might repair her mainmast, which had been much damaged by lightning.

Apprehensive that Daendels, the Dutch captain-general Java and the Moluccas, might succeed in throwing supplies and reinforcements into Banda before the arrival of the expedition, Captain Cole, the more quickly to get into the Soolo sea, entered the dangerous passage between Borneo and the small island of Malwalli. The coral reefs were innumerable ; and most of them just covered with water, and not easily seen until the sun had risen considerably above the horizon. By a good look out and strict attention, the ships, in the course of 48 hours had nearly cleared the shoals called by Dalrymple Felicia Proper, and the pilot had reported all danger as passed, when, right ahead, a ship was seen, wrecked on a coral reef just below the water's edge, and surrounded by piratical proäs, that fled as the frigates approached. Captain Cole went in his boat to examine the shoal and wreck, and found the deck of the ship streaming with fresh blood, and saw locks of human hair in several places; a sufficient indication that there had been a severe contest about the plunder.

The Piémontaise, having in the mean while been ordered to proceed ahead with the Mandarin in tow, now made the signal for shoals in every direction between the north-east and south-east. This and the approach of night prevented any pursuit of the proäs ; and Captain Cole, on his return to the Caroline, found a much more important object to attend to. Indeed, nothing short of the greatest activity and perseverance, on the part of all three captains and their respective officers and crews, could have saved the ships. At 6 p.m. the small islands on the south-west end of Cagayan-Soolo were descried ; and, as the only directions published for the Soolo sea mention the probability of a ship's being to the eastward of the shoals off the ; north-east coast of Borneo when these islands are in sight, Captain Cole decided to run on, instead of anchoring till morning. The ships accordingly placed themselves under easy sail ; and the Barracouta, leading, was followed by the others in her track. The night, which was rainy, dark, and squally, was passed by all the ships in sounding as quickly as the lead could be sent to the bottom, and in momentary expectation of the signal for danger. But the small island of Manbahenawan, close to them in the morning, gave a respite to the anxieties of every person on board ; as it brought the assurance, that the greatest difficulties in the navigation had already been overcome.

On the 5th of July the ships anchored at Soolo ; where they obtained a supply of water, fresh meat, and vegetables. While

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