Action at Benidorm

10th August 1812 - 12th August 1812
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Action of 1812-08-02 2.8.1812
Next action : Action of 1812-08-31 31.8.1812


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Minstrel (20) John Strutt Peyton (1786-1838)1 killed, 6 wounded
Philomel (16) Charles Shaw

Notes on Action

On August 10th, three small French privateers entered the port of Benidorm, near Alicante, where they lay under the protection of a fort mounting 24 guns. For further safety they were themselves hauled on shore, and a battery was formed near them with six of their guns. In these circumstances, the Minstrel, 20, Captain John Strutt Peyton, and Philomel, 18, Commander Charles Shaw, which had noted their entrance, could only blockade them, and send in a boat nightly to row guard near them, and watch the motions of their people. On August 12th it fell to Lieutenant Michael Dwyer, with seven seamen, to go away in the boat. Dwyer had made private inquiries, and had, as he thought, ascertained that there were but thirty men in the battery and twenty in the fort; and he courageously determined to attempt to carry the former by surprise. At 9.30 P.M. he and his small party landed to the westward of the town, and were almost immediately challenged; but Dwyer was able to reply in Spanish, and to divert suspicion. He then advanced, seized the battery, in which were, not 30, but 80 Genoese; and, ere he could do more, found himself surrounded by 200 French soldiers. Against these the British defended themselves, until one was killed, two, including Dwyer, were wounded, and no ammunition remained. By a rush, in which all the rest of the defenders, except one, were wounded, the French recaptured the work. They were then unable to conceal their admiration for Dwyer and his associates, whom General Goudin treated with exceptional kindness. The General further invited Captain Peyton to dine with him ashore, and to carry back the prisoners with him. Peyton accepted the invitation; and thus closed an affair which was equally to the honour of both sides. Dwyer, though a Lieutenant of March 21st, 1812, had not at the time received his commission, and was still doing duty as a Midshipman. He was wounded in no fewer than eighteen places, and permanently deprived of the use of his right arm. He was, it is true, given a pension for wounds, and was presented with a sword by the Patriotic Society; but, though he served with distinction on many subsequent occasions, he was not promoted to be Commander until 1842, when, having attended Queen Victoria to Scotland, he being then in the Fearless, he seems to have owed his tardy advancement to her Majesty's admiration for his gallantry of thirty years before.

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