Action at Bergen

15th May 1808
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Wizard vs Requin 10.5.1808 - 14.5.1808
Next action : Capture of the Gelderland 19.5.1808


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Tartar (32) George Bettesworth (d.1808) CO Killed 2 killed, 10 wounded

Notes on Action

On May 15th, the Tartar, 32, Captain George Edmund Byron Bettesworth, an officer of the most distinguished gallantry, and famous for having brought the first news to Europe of the return of Villeneuve's fleet from the West Indies in 1805, worked her way through the islands to the town of Bergen, and sent in her boats to bring off the shipping in the harbour. This the boats were unable to do, as the entrance was closed by a chain. They had only just returned to the ship, which was lying becalmed in a narrow rocky inlet, when a Danish schooner and five gunboats, each mounting two long 24-prs., appeared and opened fire. Bettesworth fell at almost the first shot, the command then devolving on Lieutenant Herbert Caiger. The Tartar was end-on to her little enemies; and, manned by a raw crew, few of whom had ever served on ship-board before, she appeared to be in a desperate position. The depth was too great for her to anchor with springs, and then bring her broadside to bear. At last, however, she succeeded in warping round, and then, by her fire, she sank one gunboat and damaged the others. At that point a light breeze sprang up, and she was able to make sail in pursuit of her enemies, and to drive them under the guns of Bergen. Her loss was 2 officers (Bettesworth and Midshipman Henry Fitzburgh) killed, and about 10 men wounded. Her hull was pierced between wind and water in several places, and the sails and rigging were much cut up. Bettesworth, though only twenty-three years of age, had been wounded no fewer than twenty-four times in the course of the war; which is, probably, a record in the British Navy.

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