|Hannibal & Hebrus
To the very end of the war with Napoleon, French frigates were sent out in pairs on cruises against British trade. The engagement of HMS Hannibal (74 gun) and the Frigate Hebrus (36 gun) with La Sultane and L'etoile (both with 40 guns) was the last major confrontation at sea. (NB Alex Usborne was on Hannibal.)
On January 23rd 1814 the British ships, Creole & Astraea came on La Sultane and L'Etoile of the Cape Verde Islands. A fierce running fight ensued. The French beat off their pursuers and made for St Malo. Off Roscoff, on March 26th, they almost ran down the Sloop, Sparrow, disabling her rigging. But the frigate Hebrus was close and engaged. Her gunfire attracted the Hannibal which bore down and captured the Sultane and signaled to the Hebrus to pursue Etoile. The chase of fifteen hours and final capture is described in the following report by Captain Palmer:
Aquatint engraving of Hebrus & Etoile after an original painting by Nicholas Pocock.
|"We continued in pursuit the whole day with our canvas spread. About midnight we reached the race of Alderney and with wind scanting, we began to gain on him fast; by the time we had run the length of point Jobourg, heading for the Bay of La Hogue, he was obliged to attempt rounding it almost within the wash of the breakers; and here we were fortunate enough at between one and two in the morning, to bring him to battle; we crossed his stern, our jib boom passing over his taffrail, and shot in betwixt him and the shore in eight fathoms of water, and it falling nearly calm at this time, the ships continued nearly in the same spot until the conclusion of the action. At its commencement we suffered considerably in our rigging, the enemy, firing high, shot away our foretopmast and foreyard and crippled our mainmast and bowsprit and cut away almost every shroud, stay and brace we had. Our fire from the first, and throughout was directed at our opponent's hull, and the ships being as close together as they could be without touching, he suffered most severely, every shot that struck passing through him. About 4 o'clock his mizenmast fell by the board, and his fire ceased, when after an obstinate contest of two hours and a quarter he hailed us to say that he had struck his colours. The moment we could get possession it was necessary to put the heads of both ships offshore to get clear of a battery which had been firing at both of us during the whole action, those on shore not being able, from the darkness, to distinguish one from the other. We anchored soon afterwards in Vauville Bay. I have to report the loss of some brave men, 13 killed and 25 wounded, some of them dangerously. The Etoile had 40 men killed and 70 injured."|