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 Action Report of 20th January, 1720

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PostSubject: Action Report of 20th January, 1720   Action Report of 20th January, 1720 Icon_minitimeMon Jan 21, 2008 9:49 am


To: Officers of the Highland Confederacy
Action Report of Sunday, 20th of January in the year of our Lord 1720
Cpt. A. Campbell commanding the Postillionen Frigate, "Lorne"

Weighing anchor from Grenville harbor at dawn on Sunday, the 20th of January, I instructed the helmsman to set a course of ten degrees north of west and make for the British controlled area of West End; my intent being the disruption and or putting to capture vessels of the East India Company and their escorts. A fresh northwesterly wind assisted our timely arrival to the area and the crossing was made without incident or sighting of sail excepting two small vessels flying the colours of the Brethren and being what I believed to be sloops of the “Jamaica” rating.

At about twenty minutes past noon, sail was spotted off the starboard bow at distance I estimated to be about forty and three miles, bearing on a course for West End; the vessels being one “Dolphin” rate ketch accompanied by two sloops of the “Jamaica” rate and all flying the East India colours. All three vessels were overtaken and boarded in quick succession with little effort, the action meriting no detail other than a description of the cargo they yielded; that being:
Two head of cattle of somewhat sound condition
One bale of Hemp
about One tonne of Maize
Iron bar, solid and chain shot and assorted sundries
Stations and cargo being secured, we set off a bit south of west on a course that would bring us to Riding Rock.

At, or around the hour of four in the afternoon, the watch reported large sail bearing five degrees off the bow and closing on us at a goodly rate. I made the vessel to be that of a frigate of the “Capricieux” line of thirty and eight rating. Following our recent success, the lads were of good heart and high morale; this, and a breeze favorable to us contributed to my decision to engage. I ordered a beat to quarters and the larboard guns to be loaded with chain as I was determined to dismast our opponent with all due haste and at this time, estimated our position to be about seven and ten miles southwest of Riding Rock.

Knowing the British vessel to be superior in both armour, number and weight of gun, I bore the “Lorne” straight into her larboard side to close the range and afford the best opportunity for a crippling shot. At four hundred yards, we took the first of two full broadsides to our bow; and while doing considerable damage to the forward hull, the sail and foremast, by the graces of the Almighty, were spared. Closing to around one hundred and fifty yards and immediately following the second broadside, I ordered a ninety degree turn to starboard and loosed our guns with what appeared to be good effect.

Turning hard a larboard, we then took the British vessel by the stern and were able to fire another broadside of chain along her full length and rake the decks with swivel shot. I must admit however, that I underestimated how nimble a ship she was and as we attempted to come about, my opponent managed to turn and fire with great effect. This maneuver caused severe damage to the larboard hull and stern and loss of life among the crew; so much so, that I considered withdrawing from the action at that point, as we had lost three guns from our larboard battery and or about thirty crew. However, luck was with us and as we completed our turn, the broadside from our starboard battery succeeded in bringing down her foremast and mizzen. At this point, it remained simply a matter of keeping ourselves ahead of our opponent and after five successive broadsides into her bow without answer of return of fire, her Captain and crew struck their colours,abandoning their proud ship in what can only be described as a most cowardly show.

I must stress in summation of this report, that I attribute our victory to the superb construction, skilled gunnery and élan of the crew of the “Lorne”, rather than to any skill or daring on the part of myself. It is indeed an honour to serve with and command such spirited and disciplined lads.

I remain your humble servant,
A. Campbell. Cpt. of the Frigate “Lorne”
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