Action of 1805-02-13

13th February 1805
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Curieux vs Dame Ernouf 8th February 1805
Next action : Action of 1805-04-23 23rd April 1805


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
San Fiorenzo 36Henry Lambert12 killed, 36 wounded

République française

Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
La Psyche 36Jacques Bergeret57 killed, 70 wounded Captured
L'Equivoque 4 Ollivier

Notes on Action


On February 13th, the San Fiorenzo, 36, Commander Henry Lambert (actg. Captain), searching for the French frigate Psyche, 32, Captain Jacques Bergeret, discovered three sail off Ganjam, on the Malabar coast, and, approaching, made them out to be the Psyche and two prizes. The three crowded all sail away, but on the evening of the 14th the rearmost of the prizes was overhauled by the San Fiorenzo and secured. At 8 P.M. the Psyche was within range and the first shot was fired. At 8.20 P.M. close action began, broadside to broadside, at half a cable's distance, between the Psyche and San Fiorenzo. The other French prize, the Pigeon, had been armed by the French with 4 guns, manned with 34 men, placed under the command of Lieutenant Ollivier, and renamed the Equivoque; but she held aloof from the action and gave the Psyche, little assistance.

In the close engagement between the Psyche and San Fiorenzo, both ships suffered severely. The French, as was their usual custom, seem, from the damage which they inflicted upon the San Fiorenzo's rigging, to have fired high. The British fire, directed at the enemy's hull, put many of her guns and carronades out of action. At about 9 P.M. the Psyche passed under the San Fiorenzo's stern and raked the British ship, but without causing very serious injury, owing to the damage which had been sustained by the French vessel's guns. The San Fiorenzo speedily recovered her old position and brought her broadside to bear. Bergeret saw that his solitary chance of success lay in boarding. He ran the Psyche upon the San Fiorenzo; but his boarders were received with so furious a fire from the British small-arms' party that their attempt was easily beaten off. At that moment a fire broke out on the Psyche's orlop deck, and diverted the attention of a large part of her crew from the battle. The two ships parted, but the British seamen continued their deadly fire at something outside pistol range. The Psyches main yard was shot away; and she was left, if French accounts can be believed, with only two serviceable guns, the others having been either dismounted or disabled. At about 11.30 P.M. the British ship hauled off to effect repairs to her masts and rigging. Thirty minutes later she bore down again, before the Psyche had cleared her decks or made ready for the renewal of the action. The San Fiorenzo was on the point of re-opening fire, when a boat from the Psyche, with an officer on board, came off to her with a message from Captain Bergeret stating that he was prepared "to surrender. French accounts assert that he stipulated for terms, but the terms were only such as would always be granted to a brave opponent the right of the officers to keep their swords, the seamen to retain their private effects, and Captain Bergeret to remain one night on board his ship to see that the wounded received proper attention. The French say that the Equivoque only fired four or five shots. The Psyche, it should be admitted, was skilfully and bravely defended against a ship of very superior size and force.


TRN5 The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol VWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book
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