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HMXMC Curieux (1800)

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 7 months ago

Curieux, 16 Guns



Laid Down1799/10/00B064
ShipyardSt MaloB064
Out Service1804/02/04B064



SourceBritish Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817
Length of Gundeck97' 0"
Length of Keel77' 3"
Breadth28' 6"
Depth in Hold13' 0"



Gun Deck16All Guns
Gun Deck16French 6-Pound



1804/02/0470Crew when capturedW005


Flag Officers

Date FromDate toRank/PositionNameSource



Date FromDate toRankNameSource
18001804/02/04Capitaine de fregateJoseph-Marie-Emmanuel CordierW005



Date FromDate ToRank/PositionNameSource
18001804/02/04Liutenant de fregateLouis-Ange CheminantW005
18001804/02/04Euseigne de vaisseauJean-Joseph-Maurice JolyW005


Service record


Actions & Battles




On the evening of the 3d of February four boats, containing 60 seamen and 12 marines, under the orders of Lieutenant Robert Carthew Reynolds, of the Centaur, then at her old station off the Diamond, were detached to attempt the capture of the French brig-corvette Curieux, Capitaine de frégate Joseph-Marie-Emmanuel Cordier, of 16 long 6-pounders and (supposed to have been about 100, but with only, as admitted) 70 men, lying at anchor close under Fort-Edouard at the entrance of the Carénage, Fort-Royal harbour, Martinique, victualled for three months, and all ready for a start to sea. Although the suspicion that an attack might be made by a part of the blockading force had led to every commendable precaution to prevent surprise ; such as, loading the carriage-guns with grape, and the swivels (of which there were eight) and wall-pieces with musket-balls, spreading on the quarterdeck and in the arm-chest the muskets, sabres, pistols, tomahawks, and pikes, filling the cartouch-boxes, placing as sentries, one marine at each gangway-ladder, one at each bow, and two at the stern, tracing up the boarding-nettings, and directing a sharp look-out to be kept by every officer and man of the watch (28 in number), yet was the Curieux, owing to the vigour of the onset and the hour chosen for making the attack, unapprized of her enemy's approach until too late to offer a successful resistance.


At about three quarters of an hour past midnight, after a hard pull of 20 miles, and just as the moon was peeping from behind a cloud, the Centaur's boats were hailed by the Curieux, and then fired into by the sentries, by two of the starboard 6-pounders, a swivel, and a wall-piece. The 12 marines returned the fire with their muskets, and the boats pulled rapidly on. In the midst of a scuffle alongside, the barge pushed for the brig's stern. Here hung a rope-ladder, to which two boats were fast. Lieutenant Reynolds, and a seaman named Richard Templeton, ascended by it to the taffrail, and, in defiance of the swivels and wall-pieces mounted at this end of the vessel, were quickly followed by the rest of the barge's crew. In his way up the ladder, Lieutenant Reynolds, with admirable coolness, cut away one of the tracing-lines with his sword, whereby the corner of the netting fell, and thus enabled the three remaining boats to board on the brig's quarter.


Since the first alarm had been given all the Curieux's officers and men, headed by their brave commander, had been at their quarters ; and a sanguinary combat now ensued, in which the French officers took a much more active part than a portion of their men. The French, however, were soon overpowered : some were killed or badly wounded ; others thrown down the hatchway; and the remainder, finding themselves abandoned, retreated to the forecastle. Here a line of pikes stood opposed to the British ; but all was unavailable. Handspikes and the butt-ends of muskets became formidable weapons in the hands of the latter, and soon laid the captain and most of the officers near him prostrate on the deck. The majority of the surviving crew having by this time fled below, all further resistance presently ceased. The British were not long in cutting the cables of their prize, nor in unfurling her sails ; and, in a very few minutes, the Curieux, in the hands of her new masters, stood out of Fort-Royal harbour. A smart fire was successively opened from Fort Edouard, a battery on Pointe Negro, and another at Pointe Soloman, but the brig passed clear, and, long before break of day, was at anchor by the side of the Centaur.


It was an additional cause of congratulation to the British, that their loss of men, considering the magnitude of the enterprise, was small, consisting of only nine wounded. Three of the number, it is true, were officers ; Lieutenant Reynolds, the gallant leader of the party, his able second, Lieutenant George Edmund Byron Bettesworth, and Mr. John Tracy, a midshipman. The two latter were not badly wounded; but the first-named officer had received no fewer than five severe, and, as they eventually proved, mortal wounds : one of the seamen, also, died of his wounds. The loss on the part of the French was very serious. The Curieux had one midshipman and nine petty officers, seamen, and marines killed, and 30, including all her commissioned officers but one midshipman, wounded, many of them severely, and some mortally. The French captain had a singular escape : after having been knocked down and stunned, he was thrown overboard, but fell on the fluke of the anchor, whence he dropped into one of the Curieux's boats which was alongside, full of water-casks. The only man in the boat immediately cut her adrift, and pulled for the shore; and Captain Cordelier, on recovering his senses, was as much chagrined as surprised at the novelty of his situation.


The Curieux had long been at sea, and was considered to be one of the best-manned and best-disciplined brigs in the French navy. Some of her crew were undoubtedly panic-struck; but the time, and the suddenness of the attack, coupled with its resistless impetuosity, may serve in part for their excuse. The determined behaviour of the French officers excited the admiration of their opponents ; and Lieutenant Louis-Ange Cheminant, and Enseigne de vaisseau Jean-Joseph-Maurice Joly (both wounded), as likewise was their brave commander, particularly distinguished themselves. The conduct of the British upon the occasion speaks for itself.


Commodore Hood, very considerately, despatched the Curieux to Fort-Royal as a flag of truce with the wounded Frenchmen ; and Vice-admiral Villaret-Joyeuse, the governor-general of the island, with a proper sense of the act, sent back his acknowledgments. Upon her return, the Curieux, under her French name, became a British sloop of war, and was given to the officer who had headed the party that captured her; but Captain Reynolds's wounds were of too severe a nature to admit of his taking the immediate charge of his new command. This gallant young officer, indeed, breathed his last in the early part of the ensuing September.



B064British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817
W005Naval History of Great Britain

Last Updated :2008/07/18 at 23:40:24 by Cy

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