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|Gunboat Flotilla, Jørgen Conrad de Falsen (1785-1849)|
18 Danish Gunboats
|British Forces, James Wilkes Maurice|
|Name : Tartar (32)||Joseph Baker (1767-1817)|
|Name : Sheldrake (16)||James Pattison Stewart|
The place was thenceforward garrisoned and held; and, in the early part of 1811, its garrison consisted of 350 Royal Marines and 31 Marine Artillery, under Captain Robert Torrens, R.M., the whole being under Captain James Wilkes Maurice, the defender of the Diamond Rock. For some time the Danes had meditated the reconquest of the island, but circumstances did not appear to be favourable until after the break up of the ice in the spring of 1811. In March, a flotilla of twelve gunboats, each mounting two long guns and four howitzers, and carrying from 60 to 70 men, together with twelve transports carrying about a thousand troops and seamen, was assembled in a convenient bay, which it quitted on the 26th. Early on the following morning, in darkness and a thick fog, the troops were disembarked, unopposed and unseen, on the westward side of the island, four miles from the headquarters at Fort York. When, at about dawn, Maurice was warned of the presence of the enemy's, flotilla on the south side of the island, he found, on advancing, that the Danes had already landed. To avoid being outflanked by them he retreated; but he was pursued, until a battery opened fire and drove back the foe. As daylight increased, it was perceived that the Danish flotilla had taken up a position within point blank shot of the British works on the south side of the island. Before the combined assault was fairly begun, Maurice signalled to the Tartar, 32, Captain Joseph Baker, and Sheldrake, 16, Commander James Pattison Stewart, which had arrived on the previous day from England, and which were on the north side, that the enemy had landed, and that the gunboats were opening. The Sheldrake remained on the north side, while the Tartar, the presence of which was quite unsuspected by the Danes, worked round to the south by the shortest route. In the meantime, a most determined assault was made, and repeated, by the troops, assisted by the gunboats. The fire from the works, however, mowed down the advance, and killed several of the Danish leaders; and, to complete the discomfiture, a small armed schooner, the Anholt, which was attached to the island, and which was manned by volunteers under Lieutenant Henry Loraine Baker, anchored at the critical moment on the flank of one body of the besiegers; the result being that, after some parley, this, and another detachment of the Danes, surrendered unconditionally. They had, indeed, no alternative, for their gunboats, perceiving the approach of the Tartar, had abandoned them, and made sail to the westward. The prisoners thus taken numbered 540, besides 23 wounded men.
The rest of the assailants, having fled to the west end of the island, were there picked up by the gunboats and transports, Maurice and Torrens not being strong enough to prevent their escape. The Danish loss was between 30 and 40 killed, in addition to the wounded and prisoners already mentioned. The British had 2 killed and 30 wounded, including Torrens, slightly. Neither the Sheldrake nor the Tartar was able to molest the re-embarkation, but each pursued a division of the escaping boats. The Sheldrake eventually took No. 9, gunboat, and No. 1, lugger, and, it was believed, sank another gunboat; and the Tartar captured a couple of transports. Maurice was somewhat strangely rewarded for this service by the promotion of his brother, Lieutenant Ferdinand Moore Maurice, to the rank of Commander. Lieutenant Henry Loraine Baker was also promoted.