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"HMS Transfer: cold-blooded courage, 1799 " Topic

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18th Century
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346 hits since 12 Jun 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2018 9:34 p.m. PST

"Few warships can have sailed under the flags of four different nations and to have seen action each time. This was however the distinction of the French-built privateer Quatre Frères, a 150-foot polacca commissioned in Bordeaux in 1796. The polacca – a type of vessel common in the Mediterranean, and which appears often in the Aubrey-Maturin novels – could be two or three-masted, usually with a lateen hoisted on the foremast (which was slanted forward to accommodate the large lateen yard) and a gaff or lateen on the mizzen mast. The Quatre Frères had only a short career in French service – though she did take two prizes – and she herself was captured in the Mediterranean by HMS Irresistible in March 1797. She was taken into Royal Navy service, renamed as HMS Transfer and apparently re-rigged as a brig – a fact that indicates that she was probably two-masted to start with. Her armament now consisted of twelve 6-pounders.

Lightly armed and most likely a fast sailing vessel, the Transfer was employed in carrying despatches and mail between Britain and the Royal Navy force blockading the Spanish naval base at Cadiz. It was in the course of these duties that her acting commander, a Lieutenant George Miller, was to display remarkable coolness when faced with potentially devastating odds. On 11th February 1799 the Transfer was returning from Britain and heading for the position where the blockading squadron was most likely to be found. Just before daybreak she found herself, in semi-darkness, in close proximity to other vessels and Lieutenant Miller assumed that they were British. As the light grew however, he realised that he was in the middle of a Spanish force which was protecting a number of merchant ships. This squadron had slipped out of Cadiz, when the British blockading force had been driven off by a gale. Before the Transfer could be identified as British, Lieutenant Miller had the presence of mind to run up America colours – thus giving the impression of a neutral ship. The ruse worked, though it must have taken an iron nerve to have carried it off. Miller ran past the Spanish line, as if heading directly for Cadiz, and was not challenged. Trailing the enemy squadron was what proved to be a small French privateer, the Escamoteur, armed with only three 6-pounders. Despite the proximity of the Spanish vessels, Miller attacked, boarded and captured this privateer and escaped, unharmed, to join the British squadron…."
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StarCruiser13 Jun 2018 7:14 a.m. PST

Such a small craft, in an era of nearly constant war? I'm not so surprised that she found herself captured and sold and captured and…etc…

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

His history is interesting….


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