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Action of 1805-02-04

4th February 1805
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Diamond vs Infante don Carlos 7.12.1804
Next action : Curieux vs Dame Ernouf 8.2.1805


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Convoy Escort
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Arrow (28) 1796-1805
British 28 Gun
Unrated Sloop
Nathaniel PortlockBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1780-1805
Richard Budd VincentBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1790-1816
Acheron (8) 1803-1805
British 8 Gun
Unrated Bomb Vessel
Arthur FarquharBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1798-1818
Sunk by her captors Captured 3 killed, 8 Wounded

République Française

Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Hortense (40) 1803-1840
French 40 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
1814 Renamed "Flore"
Louis Charles Auguste La Marre la MeillerieFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1755-1855
L'Incorruptible (40) 1795-1815
French 40 Gun
5th Rate Frigate

Notes on Action

Convoy attackE-WIKI

The 2 escorters are destroyed and 3 ships of the convoy captured


E-WIKIWikipediaVarious, Web Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Brian on Friday 20th of June 2014 19:18

The London Gazette Publication date: 19 March 1805
Proceeding's of His Majesty’s Bomb-Vessel Acheron, Sunday Feb 3, 1805
At daylight two strange sail were seen form the mast-head, bearing about E.S.E. of us at eight A.M. the had considerably neared us; we were at this time in the rear of the convoy. About half past ten, the Arrow asked, per telegraph, my opinion of ships to the eastward; I immediately wore ship and stood towards them; observing the head-most ship to shorten sail, by hauling down the studding sails; made signal 642 to the Arrow, then hoisted the private signal and continued upon a wind standing to them; at quarter past eleven, made the signal for them being suspicious (they not having answered the private signal) I was now so near as to be able to observe they were frigates, and at half past eleven to discover that they had their spare anchors in their main chains, which immediately led my to suppose that they were French. At fifty minutes past eleven wore ship, and made all sail towards the Arrow, who had by this time quitted her tow and made signal for convoy to continue the same course, although ships of war acted otherwise. At half past twelve P.M. (Monday per Log) hoisted our colours and fired a gun, which they paid no attention to. Signal 360 and 322 were then made to the Arrow who immediately made signal to the convoy for an enemy, and to make all possible sail to the appointed rendezvous which was repeated. The frigates by this time had made all possible sail in chase of us, but the wind being light and variable from the eastward we rather gained upon them. At half past four P.M. having joined the Arrow, I went on board. Captain Vincent appeared satisfied they were enemy's ships; they were now about five miles from us; it was resolved to make sail, and keep in rear of the convoy, for their protection. It was calm until eleven P.M. , when a breeze sprung up from the W.S.W. , wore ship and stood towards the Arrow. At twelve she hailed, and desired we would keep in her wake in close order. At two A.M. saw two sail upon the lee bow; called the hands to quarters. AT half past, came up with them, and discovered they were two of the convoy. At a quarter past four A.M. saw two other ships standing to us on the opposite tack. At forty five minutes past four the Arrow hailed the head most ship, then passing under her lee; being in close order she soon became abreast of the Acheron. I saw she was a large frigate prepared to engage. I hailed her, asking what ship is that? she answered, what ship are you? and immediately gave us her broadside of round and grape, which did us very considerable damage in rigging and sails beside carrying away the slings of the main yard, and main top-gallant yard in the slings., but did not kill or wound anyone; we returned her fire, then hove about and gave her the guns from the other side and kept up the fire while our shot would reach her. The Arrow bore up and raked her. At about half past five the second frigate past the Arrow (then laying to upon the starboard tack) without firing; a little afterward she appeared as if intending to wear, and having her stern towards the Acheron, we gave her two rounds from the larboard guns. She them hauled her wind and stood towards the other frigate. The people were now employed in splicing the rigging and getting another top gallant yard and sail ready to send aloft. At daylight observed the enemy had French colours flying, and one of the frigates bearing a Commodore's pendant. They then wore and stood to us; answered our signal and repeated the annul to one of the ships of the convoy; bore up to close the Arrow; at seven she hailed us and desired we would keep in her wake, in close order; made sail in the starboard tack, closing with the enemy; at twenty five minutes past seven, the head most frigate being abreast of the Arrow, and within half musket shot fired her broadside at her, which was immediately returned; at thirty minutes past seven she was abreast of us, and gave us a broadside; we then commenced action with her which we continued until the second frigate, which was the Commodore's come up to and fired into us (having engaged the Arrow in passing); we now turned our fire upon the ship until we came close up with the Arrow, who had put her helm-a-weather and was now raking her; we hauled our wind to clear the Arrow, who appeared to be wearing; I hailed, and asked if he meant to again come to the wind on the starboard tack, but could not understand what he said; as soon as clear of the Arrow, we again directed our fire against the Commodore's ship, which we continued until eight., when, with the greatest grief, I saw the Arrow obliged to strike being no longer able to contend with the great superiority of force opposed to her. She had, I conceive, received much damage in the act of wearing; the wind being light, she lay a considerable time with her head to the enemy. The Acheron, being now very much disabled in mast, sails, and rigging, and part of her stern post carried away, I considered farther resistance on my part could answer no good, and, unwilling to sacrifice the lives of men who had given me proof of their courage, I determined to make what sail I could, with little hopes of saving the ship, but with a view of prolonging the time of my ship being captured, to give the convoy the better chance of escaping. The superiority in sailing of the enemy's ship rendered the chase but short; at three quarters past eight , having in chase received one broadside and part of another, and the enemy now very near us, with the greatest mortification and sorrow, I was obliged to surrender to the French frigate L'Hortense, of 44 guns, commanded by De la Marre La Mellerie, who, finding her much disabled, as soon as the officers and ships company were removed, set her on fire.
Arthur Farquhar

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