« ZurückWeiter »
tain of the Phoenix was deserving of great praise, and we trust he was amply rewarded.
In our account of the transactions of India, in 1800,we omitted to mention the blockade of the city and harbour of Batavia, by a squadron under the command of Captain Henry L. Ball, in the Daedalus, of thirty-two guns, having with him the Centurion, Braave, and Sybille. An attack on the island of Java was in contemplation at that time, but the state of affairs in India having prevented it, the squadron was employed in cutting off all the trade of the Dutch settlements: it took the arsenal at Onrust, and compelled the Dutch to burn thirty sail of vessels, to prevent their falling into our hands. A favourable negotiation was entered into with the native princes of Java, and by the Utmost vigilance the squadron was kept from the contagion of the endemic fever of the island. At length the soldiers of the 12th regiment, breaking into a store at Onrust, and obtaining liquor, the disorder commenced with such destructive violence, that the squadron had scarcely strength to weigh their anchors, and the ships were recalled at the request of the Governor-general, who had undertaken the Mahratta war. It was with great reluctance that Admiral Rainier relinquished this enterprise, on which he had been ordered by the admiralty.
It would be an act of injustice to Captain (now Sir G. R.) Collier, of the Victor sloop of war, not to mention his gallant and persevering action with a French corvette, called La Fleche, which he fell in with off the island Diego Garcia, in September, 1801, and like a true British officer brought to close action. The enemy sailed better than the Victor on a wind, but not so well large, and having disabled the rigging of the Victor, obtained a favourable position and escaped. Captain Collier determined not to quit his foe: judging that she must be bound to the Mahe6 islands, he steered for them, and there got sight of her as she lay in a secure and intricate anchorage. The officers of the Victor sounded the channel, under the fire of the French corvette, and Captain Collier having ascertained the depth of water, warped his ship in under a raking fire, until he got so near as to anchor with springs on his cable, when he brought his broadside to bear, and in two hours and a half sunk her at her anchors, without having one of his own men killed or wounded. The corvette had one hundred and seventy-two men and twenty-two guns ; the Victor was a vessel of very inferior force.
In the month of December, the squadron was employed in occupying, or reinforcing, the garrisons of the Portuguese settlements in India, Diu, Goa, and Damaun, in pursuance of orders from government: a squadron also was despatched from Bengal to take possession of Macao, but the Admiral fortunately falling in with it off Prince of Wales's Island, ordered Captain Edward Oliver Osborn, in the Arrogant, to proceed with it to communicate with the supercargoes at Canton, before he landed the troops at Macao. This prudent precaution saved much uneasiness, and perhaps prevented a disturbance between us and the Chinese, who would have seriously resented any affront offered to the Portuguese. This state of things, between us and the latter power, was occasioned by the forcible interference of France with the government of Lisbon; in consequence of which Madeira was occupied by a British garrison, as we have already shewn. On the 29th of February, 1802, the Vice-admiral received an account of the signing of the preliminary treaty of peace with France: from that time till the month of December, nothing material of a public nature occurred in India. On the 1st of the month, the Centurion left Trincomalee for Madras, and contrary to the usual course of the monsoon, when eighty miles east of that place, she met with a gale, or hurricane, of such extreme violence as to carry her lower masts over the side without a stitch of canvass being set: nothing but the most manly exertions saved the ship, which, with great damage in her hull, arrived safe in Madras roads, where Admiral Rainier embarked on board of her, on the 3d of January, 1803.
He had frequently written to be superseded from his command, but the Earl of St. Vincent acquainted him, that his local knowledge and experience were so conducive to the public good, that his services could not be dispensed with. Soon after this, the Vice-admiral sailed in the Centurion for Bombay, where he arrived on the 7th of February, in time to assist in person, with his ship's company, in extinguishing a fire, which broke out on the 17th, and burnt down the greater part of the town, leaving only the dock-yard, arsenal, European buildings, and castle, which were preserved by the intrepidity of the Admiral and his people. For his conduct on this occasion the Admiral received the thanks of the Governor and Council of Bombay, and was desired to communicate the same to his officers and men.
Captain James G. Vashon, of the Fox frigate, with two other vessels, was employed against the Jygate pirates with great success, which was acknowledged in warm terms by the government of Bombay. While Admiral Rainier was at Bombay, the accounts from Europe represented the peace to be not quite secure, and that a garrison for Pondicherry would leave France, at a certain time. The Admiral, in consequence of this intelligence, hastened round to the Coromandel coast, and anchored in Cudalore roads, on the 5th of July, when his force consisted of the—
These were not all the ships of war on the station. In addition to them there were in the Indian seas, and on the passage to India,
About eleven frigates and some sloops and smaller vessels.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to know the exact number of ships on this or any other statidn. The changes were so frequent and so various, as to baffle the most laborious inquiry.
The Admiral had been only one week on the coast, when Admiral Linois, whom our readers will remember at Algeziras in 1801, arrived in the Marengo, of seventy-four guns, with two or three large frigates. He had sailed from Brest very early in March, and anchored in Pondicherry roads, having on board General de Caen, with a garrison for that place; but the Vice-admiral, acting in concert with the government of Madras, would not allow them to land, nor would he deliver up the fortress until farther advices arrived from Europe. Linois affected much indignation at the refusal,
74 E. O. Osborn
74 John Osborn
74 R. Williams
74 Sir A. C. Dickson, Bart.
64 Wm. Hargood
50 Sir Home Popham
* Went out in 1804.