Action of 1809-10-21
|21st October 1809|
|Canopus||80||Charles Inglis||Fleet Flagship|
|Renown||74||Philip Charles Calderwood Henderson Durham|
|Notes on Action|
On October 21st, Rear-Admiral Baudin, in the Robuste, 80, Captain Franois Legras, with the Boree, 74, Captain Gaspard Laignel, Lion, 74, Captain Eustache Marie Joseph Bonami, the 40-gun frigates Pomone and Pauline, and a number of armed transports and storeships, left Toulon for Barcelona with an easterly wind. Captain Robert Barrie discovered the enemy an hour or two later, and, making sail to the W.S.W., fell in, at 9 P.M. on the following day, with Collingwood, off the Catalonian coast, having previously spoken the Alceste. Barrie was unable to report exactly how many French ships were out; and the Commander-in-Chief, feeling sure that the force, whatever might be its strength, was bound westward, prepared for action, and stationed his frigates as scouts to windward. At 8 A.M. on the 23rd, the Volontaire, 38, Captain Charles Bullen, signalled a fleet to the eastward; and at 10 A.M., Captain Barrie signalled that the strangers had hauled to the wind. Thereupon Rear- Admiral George Martin, with eight of the best sailers in the British fleet, was ordered to chase to the E.N.E. At 3 P.M., Baudin, with his three ships of the line and two frigates, separated from his convoy, which steered in confusion to the N.N.W., while he made for the E.S.E., with a north-easterly wind. That afternoon and evening, Captain Barrie, in the Pomone, 38, picked up and destroyed two brigs, two bombards, and a ketch belonging to the convoy; but the rest got away. The five French men-of-war, chased by Martin, soon disappeared in the other direction.
Martin, at 8 P.M., when the wind was nearly east, tacked to the northward, since he judged that the enemy would make for his own shores. A little later, two of the chasing ships parted company by accident, leaving the following to continue the; Canopus 80, Renown 74, Tigre 74, Sultan 74, Leviathon 74, Cumberland 74
The French were not seen until early in the morning of the 24th, when four of them were sighted in the N.N.E. The Pomone, it afterwards appeared, had left her consorts and proceeded independently for Marseilles. Martin crowded sail as much as possible, but could not come up with the enemy, and, at nightfall, owing to the proximity of the lee-shore and the shallowness of the water, was obliged to haul off. Early on the 25th, however, the French were again seen to the northward, running under the coast with a fresh S.E. breeze. Martin once more crowded sail, and prepared to anchor with springs. At 11.45 A.M. the Robuste and Lion put up their helms and ran ashore near Frontignan, about six miles N.E. of Cette, in the little harbour of which the Boree and Pauline, though closely pressed, succeeded in finding precarious shelter. Martin hauled his wind and stood off, and, on the 26th, having regained sight of the grounded ships, had the satisfaction of finding that their people had set them on fire. That night both the Robuste and the Lion blew up. Having executed this service, the Rear- Admiral rejoined Collingwood, who presently resumed his old station off Cape Sicie.
|TRN5||The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol V||William Laid Clowes||Digital Book|