1814 - Avon and Wasp

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1813 Avon and Wasp 297

worth carrying into port, Captain Blakeley set fire to and destroyed her. The Wasp then steered for Lorient, to refit and renovate her crew, and on the 8th of July anchored in that port.

It will appear surprising, that an action so pregnant with circumstances calculated to excite the sympathy of the brave of all nations, an action in the conduct of it from first to last, so highly honourable to the character of the British navy, as that of the Reindeer and Wasp, should be altogether omitted by an English naval historian ; by a writer, especially, who claims the honour to belong to that very profession of which the gallant Manners was a member. But every friend to the memory of the youthful hero, every well-wisher to the cause of the British navy, will rejoice to find, that Captain Brenton has not even glanced at the action of the Reindeer and Wasp, when he discovers that, in the Avon's case (to which we shall come presently), the Wasp is described as a " brig, mounting eighteen 32-pounder carronades and two sixes, with 140 men.* Recollecting the mistake about the force of the Peacock, the Hornet's opponent, we have not a doubt that Captain Brenton would have made a similar mistake respecting the Reindeer ; and then, what with underrating the force on one side, and overrating it on the other, the merits of the action would have been entirely changed.

On the 27th of August the Wasp, thoroughly refitted and manned, sailed from Lorient to resume her cruise ; and on the 1st of September, at 7 p.m., latitude 30 north, longitude 11 west, going free on the starboard tack, with the wind at south-east, Captain Blakeley fell in with the British 18-gun brig-sloop Avon (sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two sixes), Captain the Honourable James Arbuthnot, nearly ahead, steering about south-west. At 7 h. 34 m. p.m. the Avon made night-signals to the Wasp; which the latter at 8 p.m. answered with a blue light on the forecastle. At 8 h. 38 m. the Avon fired a shot from her stern-chase gun ; and still running onto the south-west, fired a second shot from her starboard and lee side. At 9 h. 20 m., being then on the weather quarter of the Avon, the Wasp was hailed by the latter, " What ship is that ? " and answered by the question, " What brig is that ? " The Avon replied with her name, but it was not heard on board the Wasp. The former again asked, " What ship is that ? " and was told to heave to and she would be informed. The question was repeated, and answered to the same effect. An American officer then went forward on the Wasp's forecastle, and ordered the Avon to heave to ; but the latter declined doing so, and at 9h. 25 m. p.m. set her larboard foretopmast studding-sail.

At 9 h. 26 m. p.m. the Wasp fired her 12-pounder carronade whereupon the Avon commenced the action by a discharge from

* Brenton, vol. v., p. 141. See p. 195.

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