Action in the Gironde

24th August 1811
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Chase off Java 4.8.1811 - 12.8.1811
Next action : Action off Bolougne 3.9.1811


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Diana (38) Charles Grant (1770-1824), William Ferris
Semiramis (36) Charles Richardson (d.1850)

République française

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Pluvier (16)   Captured
Le Teazer (14)   Sunk

Notes on Action

An interesting piece of work was done on August 24th, in the mouth of the Gironde. On that day the Diana, 38, Captain William Ferris, and Semiramis, 36, Captain Charles Richardson, were standing towards Cordouan lighthouse, when they discovered six sail within the shoals. Five of these were small merchantmen, under convoy of the Teazer (ex British), 14; and the convoy had come from Rochefort. As the enemy was well protected amid shallows and batteries, Ferris determined to try to effect his object by stratagem; and, accordingly, he and his consort stood in under French colours, flying the signal for a pilot. A suspicious battery fired a few shot at them, but ceased on being informed by the commander of the Teazer that they were the Pallas and Elbe, from Rochefort. In time, a pilot came alongside the Diana, and was, of course, taken care of, and his boat secured astern. It was then nearly dark, and, shortly afterwards, the British frigates calmly anchored off Pointe de Graves, under the batteries close to which lay not only the Teazer, but also the Pluvier, 16. A little later, Ferris despatched seven boats under Lieutenants Francis Sparrow, George B - Eoper, Thomas Gardner, Percy Grace, and Eobert Nicholson, and Master's Mates William Holmes and Timothy Renou, to cut out the convoy, which lay about four miles further up the river. This business was duly accomplished; but, at daylight on the 25th, the boats and their prizes were still up the river. As they could not well descend while the Teazer and Pluvier remained uncaptured, Ferris ordered the Semiramis to stand towards the latter, while he himself made for the former. The Pluvier was laid on board, and quickly carried by a party under Lieutenant Robert White Parsons and Lieutenant (E.M.) Lewis Pryse Madden. The Teazer hurriedly cut, and ran ashore under the Royan batteries, where she was engaged by the Semiramis, until some of the returning boats, under Gardner, boarded her. As she could not be removed, she was set on fire; and eventually she blew up. This most gallant service cost the loss, on the British side, of only 1 drowned, and 3 wounded. The success of Ferris's ruse was so complete that in the early morning the captain of the Pluvier unsuspectingly visited the Diana, where he was detained.


TRN5The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol VWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book

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