Come and ask, answer or inform.
WHAT preceded the undermentioned Action, Captain KENNEDY, who transmits this to their Lordships, can best explain : I shall only mention, that when the FLAMBOROUGH and we joined, a little before the Engagement, though, every Body was sensible of the superior Force of the two Ships standing towards us, besides that several other Ships were in View, to whom the Enemy seemed to make Signals, we saluted each other with three Cheers, and stood in a Line for the Enemy, who, upon seeing this, hauled up, and obliged us to make the Attack, which the FLAMBOROUGH began (by our Glasses) a Quarter before Seven P. M. and the BIDDEFORD got close with the Sternmost and Commodore's Ship about Seven, when the Fight began with great Fury and Regularity on both Sides. About Half past Seven, our brave Captain was unfortunately killed by a Cannon Ball.
Lieutenant KNOLLIS then succeeded to the Command, who with great Presence of Mind and Steadiness directed the Action till Eight, when he dropped, after having received a second Shot in the Body : He was carried down, seemingly Dead. Besides these Losses, we were now considerably damaged in our Rigging; the Main-top mast Shot away ; several Men killed, and many wounded. Our People however were in good Spirits, and the Guns well served; but the Enemy's Fire excessive hot.
The Engagement was continued with Obstinacy, and there appeared on each Side a hard Struggle for Conquest. Our People were now more cool and steady ; a Principle of Duty took Place of Rage, and they fought, if possible, better than before : One Post vying with another, Gun with Gun, and Platoon with Platoon ; who should send the quickest and surest Destruction to their Foe : Even Numbers of the wounded Men returned with Chearfulness to their Quarters, as soon as the Surgeon had dressed their Wounds, which was indeed expeditiously performed, Our Enemy going large, under an easy Sail, kept very fair a-breast of us during the whole Action, so we luckily had no Occasion to touch a Brace or Bowline, which were all shot to Pieces. About Ten their Fire slackned a-pace, one Gun became silent after another, till at length they hardly made us any Return, not discharging above four Guns the last Quarter of an Hour, though very near, and receiving all our Fire. We judged, by that, they were going to strike ; but it seems they were preparing for Flight; for at Half past Ten she made off, with every Rag of Sail they could set. We then pour'd a whole Broadside into her, and a Volly of small Arms nearly all at the fame Instant, which were the last Guns we could ever get to bear on her. We attempted to pursue her, but found we had no Command of our Ship, the Running Rigging being all cut, the Masts and Yards quite shatter’d and disabled ; she therefore went ahead very fast, and about Half an Hour after disappeared. What we have chiefly suffered in, is the Rigging, no Part of which escaped. The Hull is very little hurt, and we have only Nine killed, including the Captain ; 26 wounded with the Lieutenant, the Majority of whom, I am told, will soon recover.
I sailed from hence, the 18th ultimo, in Company with the BIDDEFORD, Captain SKINNER, upon a Cruize. Nothing material happened until the 4th Instant, on which Day I discovered four Sail of Ships in the N. E. Quarter, steering S, by W. right before the Wind. The Rock of Lisbon at that Time bore S. S. E. ¼ E. distant 36 Leagues. I stood for them, being to Leeward, and they not making any Alteration in their Course, soon came near, within Gun Shot of the Headmost, who brought too at Five in the Afternoon. I fired several Shot to, invite her to Action, shewing my Colours at the same Time. About Half an Hour afterwards the Stemmost brought too. I perceived them plainly speaking to each other, and to be large Frigates of the Enemy, and one of them making Signals, which I judge was for the Government of the other two Ships, as they immediately made the best of their Way. Soon after, the Frigates hoisted French Colours, and bore down upon me; but the BIDDEFORD then being about three Miles to Leeward, (to whom I had made the Signal before of discovering the Enemy) I edged away, and at Six joined her, when the Enemy instantly hawled their Wind, and stood to the Eastward. We pursued them, and I soon came up with the stemmost Ship, who poured a Broadside into me, which I returned ; and leaving her to the BIDDEFORD, kept after the Headmost, with whom I came up at Half past Six, and engaged, as near as it was possible, without being Aboard each other, until Nine at Night, when we discovered our Masts, Rigging, and Sails, to be very much shattered, and most of the Running Rigging cut to Pieces, not having a Brace or Bowline left to govern the Sails. The Hull did not escape receiving, several Shot, some betwixt Wind and Water which were timely secured. Both Parties ceased firing near Half an Hour, in which Time we reeved new Braces, and impaired all the Damages we had sustained, in the best Manner it was possible, and then renewed the Engagement, which continued till Eleven at Night, when the Enemy made all the Sail they possibly could, and used every Effort to escape. I pursued her till Noon the next Day, but, to my great Concern, she had the Advantage of sailing so much better than the FLAMBOROUGH, that she had almost run us out of Sight, otherwise I flatter myself I should have been able to have given their Lordships a more distinct Account of her. The FLAMBOROUGH being much disabled, and every Course and Topsail rendered useless, it was in vain to pursue the Enemy any longer, and I therefore made the best of my Way for Lisbon, where I arrived the 6th Instant. I am confident by the latter Behaviour of the Ship which engaged me, that she must have received great Damage, the Fury of their Fire being much abated.
I had only Five Men killed and Ten wounded ; amongst the Former is Mr. Thomas PRICE, Lieutenant of Marines, and the Latter Mr. EDWARDS the Boatswain. They behaved extremely well; and I should do great Injustice to all my Officers and Men, was I to omit acquainting their Lordships, that they behaved with Conduct and undaunted Courage. The BIDDEFORD behaved gloriously, keeping a brisk and constant lire against her Antagonist, until some Time before Ten at Night, when I lost Sight of her. Since I wrote the above, I have heard that the Ships we engaged are King's Frigates, and came lately from Brest, One of Thirty-six, and the other of Thirty-two Guns, 250Men each. The largest is called LA MALICIEUSE, commanded by Mons. DE GOIMPY, the other L'OPALE, commanded by Mons. Le Marquis D'ARS. On the 7th Instant, I had the great Satisfaction to see the BIDDEFORD safely arrive here ; but it is with the utmost Regret I acquaint their Lordships, that Captain SKYNNER was slain at the Beginning of the Engagement ; soon after Mr. KNOLLIS, the Lieutenant, was dangerously wounded, and died the 10th Instant. I refer their Lordships to the inclosed Account sent me by the Master of the BIDDEFORD, of the Action between her and the Frigate she was engaged with.