Action of 1811-11-29

29th November 1811
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Action of 1811-11-01 1.11.1811 - 2.11.1811
Next action : Southampon vs Heureuse Réunion 2.2.1812


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

British Frigates, Murray Maxwell
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Alceste (38) Murray MaxwellFleet Flagship 7 killed, 13 wounded
Active (38) James Alexander Gordon (1782-1869)9 killed, 26 wounded
Unite (38) Edwin Henry Chamberlayne1 wounded
Kingfisher (16) Ewell TrittonNot engaged

Empire Français

French Frigates, François Gilles Montfort (1769-1826)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Pauline (40)  Fleet Flagship
La Pomone (40)  50 killed and wounded Captured
Persanne (24)  2 killed, 4 wounded

Notes on Action


On the morning of November 28th, when the Alceste, 38, Captain Murray Maxwell, Active, 48, Captain James Alexander Gordon, Unite, 36, Captain Edwin Henry Chamberlayne, and Acorn, 20, Captain George Miller Bligh, were lying in Port St. Giorgio, Lissa, they were apprised, from the signal station on the heights, of the presence, to the southward, of three suspicious sail. Maxwell, who believed the strangers to be the vessels which had escaped from the battle of Lissa in the preceding March, unmoored his squadron, in order to go in pursuit; but, as he dared not leave the island without any defence, seeing that a French force was at the time assembled at no great distance on purpose to attack it, he transferred from the Alceste and Active to three prize gunboats which lay in harbour, a Lieutenant, a Midshipman, and about 30 seamen, and, at the same time, landed the whole of the Marines of those frigates and of the Unite to garrison batteries on Hoste Island near the mouth of the harbour. Then, leaving the Acorn, with Captain Bligh, in command of the place, he warped out, and by 7 P.M. was at sea. On the morning of the 29th, the Active signalled three strange sail in the E.N.E. These were presently made out to be, not the remnants of M. Dubourdieu's squadron, but the Pauline, 40, Commodore Frarnois Gilles Montfort, Pomone, 40, Captain C.C.M. Ducamp-Kosamel, and Persanne, 26, Captain J. A. Satie, bound from Corfu to Triest. The wind was fresh from E.S.E., and at first the enemy, formed in line on the port tack, stood towards the British; but soon M. Montfort bore up to N.W., and was chased, all the ships setting every possible stitch of canvas. At 11 A.M. the Persanne, being unable to keep up with her consorts, stood to the N.E. The Unite was sent after her, and the pursuit of the Pauline and Pomone was continued by the Alceste and Active.

The action began at 1.20 P.M., the Alceste, in the first fire, having her main top-gallant mast splintered. Twenty minutes later she had her main topmast carried away just above the cap by a shot from the Pomone, which was then abeam of her. This bred great enthusiasm in the French ships, and caused the Alceste to drop astern a little; but at about 2 P.M. the Active placed herself upon the Pomone's starboard or lee quarter, and brought her to close action. The Pauline tacked, and, taking in sail, stood back to assist her consort, and at about 2.30 was hotly engaged; but, about half an hour afterwards, perceiving that the Pomone was weakening, and that the Kingfisher, 18, Commander Ewell Tritton, was approaching, Montfort set all sail again, and stood to the westward. Some desultory firing ensued between the Active and the Pomone, owing to the former having accidentally shot ahead of her antagonist. The Pomone, however, was beaten, and when, at about 3.40 P.M. the Alceste got up, and opened her starboard broadside, the Pomone struck. Neither the Alceste nor the Active was in a condition to pursue, so that the Pauline escaped without difficulty; but the Persanne was overtaken at about noon by the Unite, and, after a running fight, which lasted till four, struck when Chamberlayne drew near enough to use his broadside. The loss of the Alceste, which had only 218 men and boys on board, was 7 killed, including Midshipman Charles Nourse, and 13 wounded. The Active, which also was short-handed, had 8 killed, including Midshipman George Osborne, and 27 wounded, including Captain Gordon, and Lieutenants William Bateman Dashwood and George Haye, each of whom displayed great gallantry. Out of a crew of 332, the Pomone had 50 killed and wounded. Two of her masts fell during the action, and the third followed them soon afterwards. Captain Bosamel, who was wounded, fought his ship bravely. As much cannot be said of Montfort, who certainly deserted his colleague too hastily. The Unite, in her conflict with the Persanne, had but 1 wounded; the Persanne had 2 killed and 4 wounded. 1 Lieutenant Andrew Wilson, first of the Alceste, was made a Commander on September 17th, 1812. Dashwood and Haye, first and second of the Active, were similarly promoted on May 19th, 1812. But Lieutenant Joseph William Crabb, first of the Unite, remained in that rank until his retirement in 1851.

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