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Chase off Java

4th August 1811 - 12th August 1811
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Action in the Indramayo 31.7.1811
Next action : Action in the Gironde 24.8.1811


Empire Français

French Frigates,
Joseph François RaoulFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1766-1816
Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Nymphe (44) 1810-1873
French 44 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
La Meduse (44) 1810-1816
French 44 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
Joseph François RaoulFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1766-1816
Bucephalus (32) 1808-1834
British 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
Charles PellyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1799-1812
Barracouta (16) 1807-1815
British 16 Gun
Unrated Sloop
Charles RayleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1794-1813

Notes on Action

the French frigates Nymphe, 40, and Meduse, 40, which, under Commodore Francois Raoul, had escaped from Nantes in the previous spring, lay in Sourabaya harbour, where they were watched, from the middle of August onwards, by the Akbar, 44, Lieutenant Henry Drury (actg. captain) Phaeton, 38, Captain Fleetwood Broughton Reynolds Pellew, Bucephalus, 36, Captain Charles Pelly, and Sir Francis Drake, 32, Captain George Harris. On September 3rd, the two French frigates weighed, and began to warp towards the north-west into the outer road. The Bucephalus, observing them, closed, and early on the 4th was joined by the Barracouta, 18, Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen, in company with which she chased as soon as the frigates were clear of the harbour. The Barracouta soon began to fall astern, and, during the whole of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th, was barely in sight of her consort. She then dropped entirely out of view, but the Bucephalus alone continued the pursuit, until, early on the 12th, off Great Pulo Laut, the frigates, having, as they doubtless conceived, their enemy at a disadvantage, turned upon her. In danger of being embayed, she made off, and, for about an hour and a half after 1 P.M., was engaged by the Frenchmen. A little later Pelly endeavoured to decoy his pursuers among some shoals which lay ahead of him; but they, discovering the risk, tacked away, and finally disappeared. The Bucephalus had no one hurt. Commodore Raoul's conduct in the affair is difficult to explain. When near the Java coast, on the 4th and 5th, he may have been justified in fleeing from a single British frigate, owing to the proximity of Stopford's fleet; but, when off Borneo on the 12th, he had no reason to fear any interference. Nevertheless, he abandoned what would have been an almost certain prize had he been Pelly's equal as a navigator. Pelly's behaviour, on the other hand, was admirable throughout. He chased so long as there was a hope that he might separate his foes and find an opportunity of engaging one of them; and he out-manoeuvred them as soon as circumstances put him in a perilous position. The fugitives reached Brest in safety on December 22nd.

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