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Domingo was discovered, and the enemy at an anchor. Their force was five sail of the line and two frigates; they had one ship of one hundred and twenty guns, and two of eighty-four guns. Our squadron consisted of seven sail of the line, viz. six of seventy-four guns, and one of sixty-four guns, two frigates, and a brig. A recollection of the battle of the Nile, no doubt, determined the French Admiral to weigh, and if he should be unable to effect his retreat without fighting, to give battle under sail.
The action was begun by the Superb (at the head of the weather division) closing on the weather bow of the Alexandre, then leading the French line before the wind, and engaging her till the French ship sheered off"; and the Vice-admiral, closely supported by the Rear-admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, and the Captains Stopford and Sir Edward Berry, who with their respective ships composed the weather line, boldly laid the Superb alongside the Imperial, of one hundred and twenty guns. Rear-admiral Sir Thomas Louis, in the Canopus, with the Donegal and Atlas, nobly seconded this spirited attack; and, soon after ten o'clock, the action became general. Captain Malcolm, after giving his passing broadsides to two of the French ships, ran on board of the Jupiter, receiving her bowsprit over the Donegal's larboard quarter, where she was immediately secured. For two hours the battle raged with great fury. The English fought with skill, the effect of long practice, united to their usual valour ; the French had valour but not equal seamanship. The fire from the French first-rate was well kept up; the main and mizen masts of the Northumberland were shot away as she lay alongside the Imperial, but the Superb, Canopus, Atlas, and Agamemnon, were still engaged with that ship and the Diomede. At noon, the action, which was one of the most splendid for the numbers engaged, had entirely terminated, with the loss or cap'ture of all the enemy's ships of the line; their frigates escaped. The public letter of the Admiral explains some particulars which we have therefore not mentioned; although, in detailing his proceedings, he has not distinctly stated where, and at what time, he received the intelligence, which induced him to steer from St. Kitt's to St. Domingo: this we have shewn was from Captain Cochrane, whom Sir John Duckworth, after the action, thus addressed on board the Superb, "I thank you, Sir, in this public manner, on the quarter-deck, for your having brought us to the French squadron, and enabled us to gain this glorious victory; and I shall despatch you home in consequence."
The following is a copy of the public despatch of the Vice-admiral, which reached the admiralty on the 24th of March, 1806; brought home by Captain N. D. Cochrane, in the Kingsfisher, who was most deservedly made Post, for his incomparable diligence and good fortune.
Superb, to leeward of the town of St. Domingo about twelve leagues, Feb. 7,1806; r- -.•
As I feel it highly momentous for his Majesty's service, that the lords commissioners of the admiralty should have'the earliest information of the movements of the squadron under my command, and as I have no other vessel than the Kingsfisher, that I feel justified in despatching, I hope neither their lordships, or Vice-admiral Lord Collingwood, will deem me defective in my duty towards them or his lordship, by addressing you on the happy event of yesterday ; and as you will receive my letter of the 3d instant herewith, I shall only say, I lest not a moment in getting through the Men a passage; and on the 5th, in the afternoon, was joined by the Magicienne, with a farther corroboration, from various vessels spoken, of the enemy's force, of ten sail of the line, with as many frigates and corvettes, beingTn these seas. I therefore continued under easy sail for the night, in my approach off the town of St. Domingo; having given orders to Captain Dunn of the Acasta, to make sail with the Magicienne, Captain M'Kenzie, two hours before daylight to reconnoitre; when at six o'clock, the Acasta, to our great joy, made the signal for two of the enemy's frigates, and before seven, for nine sail at an anchor; at half-past, that they were getting under way. The squadron under my command, then in close order with all sail set, and the Superb bearing my flag, leading, and approaching fast, so as to discover, before eight o'clock, that the enemy were in compact line, under all sail, going before the wind, for Cape Nisao, to windward of Ocoa-bay. As they consisted of .only five sail of the line, two frigates, and a corvette, I concluded they were endeavouring to form a junction with their remaining force. I shaped my course so as to render such intention abortive, which was completely effected by a little after nine, so as to make an action certain; I therefore telegraphed the squadron, that the principal object of attack would be the Admiral and his seconds, and at three-quarters past nine, for the ships to take station for their mutual support, and engage the enemy as they got up, and a few minutes after, to engage as close as possible; when, at a short period after ten, the Superb closed upon the bow of the Alexandre, the leading ship, and commenced the action, but after three broadsides she sheered off. The signal was now made for closer action, and we were enabled to attack the Admiral in the Imperial (formerly the Vengeur), the fire of which had been heavy on the Northumberland, bearing the Honourable Rear-admiral Cochrane's flag. By this time, the movements of the Alexandre had thrown her among the lee division, which Rear-admiral Louis happily availed himself of, and the action became general, and continued with great severity till half-past eleven, when the French Admiral, much shattered, and completely beat, hauled directly to the land; and not being a mile off, at twenty minutes before noon, ran on shore, his foremast then.only standing fell immediately; at which time the Superb, then only in seventeen fathoms water, was forced to haul off to avoid the same evil; and not long after, theDiomede, of eigHty-four guns, pushed on shore neap her Admiral, when all her masts went; and I think it a duty 1 owe to my character and my country to add (from the information of Sir Edward Berry), after she had struck, and the Agamemnon desisted from firing into her, from the Captain taking off his hat and making every token of surrender, and Captain Dunn assures me, both ensign and pendant were down; to comment on which I leave to the world. About fifty minutes after eleven, the firing ceased; and upon the smoke clearing away, I found Le Brave, bearing a commodore's pendant, the Alexandre, and Le Jupiter, in our possession.
The Vice-admiral pays very just compliments to the Rear-admirals, Cochrane and Louis, and to all the Captains of his squadron, particularly to Captain Keats, whose ship, the Superb, bore the flag on that day. The number of killed and wounded in the British ships were as follow: viz.
Ships. Gum. Commanders. Kilkd.Wounded.
Superb • • • 74 R. G. Keats .... 6 56
« «i_ u i J i** C Rear-adm. the Hon. Sir ) M. Northumberland 74 J A. Cochrane . , \ 21 79
Spencer - • '• 74 Hon. R. Stopford • • • 18 50 Agamemnon- • 64 Sir Edward Berry • 1 13 Lee Division.
Canopus- • • 80 Rear-adm. Sir T. Louis 8 22 Donegal • • • 74 Pulteney Malcolm -12 33 Atlas ... 74 Samuel Pym ... 8 11
Total 74 264
As soon as the prisoners and the wounded men could be removed from the Imperial and the Diomede, the ships were set on fire by Captain Dunn and burnt. This service was the more difficult to perform in the midst of a high surf, in which the boats were exposed to imminent danger of being upset.
The imputation cast by Sir John Duckworth on Captain Henry, of the Diomede, for having run his ship on shore, after he had surrendered, appeared to have been founded in error, and was honourably and satisfactorily explained by the Vice-admiral in a subsequent letter, dated Port-Royal, February 16. It appeared, that when Captain Henry presented his sword to Captain Keats, the latter officer, on account of the reports of Sir Edward Berry and Captain Dunn, indignantly refused it. This excited the keenest sensation in the breast of Captain Henry, who demanded an explanation from the Commander-in-chief. Upon referring to his officers and ship's company, and from other concurring testimony, it was proved, that the ensign was shot away, and that the pendant was flying until the mainmast fell; and consequently that Captain Henry had defended his ship as became a man of