Xlf.ca - Samurai and Code of Honor. Visit Xlf.caInformational Site Network Informational
Home - World War Stories - American Heros - Hero Stories - War Stories - British Navy

War Stories

The Loss Of Hms Repulse
BY G. H. WALKER. The Repulse was one of the ships belong...

A Saxon Chronicle
The founders of the English nation were a maritime people. ...

The Bombardment Of Copenhagen
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. In the year 1801, Nelson, who had bee...

The Story Of Lord Rodney
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. George Brydges Rodney was born at Walt...

The Story Of Sir George Rooke

The Story Of Sir Edward Howard
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Sir Edward Howard was the second son o...

The Story Of The Spanish Armada
BY SIR EDWARD CREASY. On the afternoon of July 19th, A.D...

The Worthy Enterprise Of John Fox

The Story Of The Revenge

The Glorious First Of June
On January 21st, 1793, Louis XVI. of France was guillotined...

The Story Of The Glorious Fifty-nine And The Battle Of Quiberon Bay
The year 1759 has been described as one of the most gloriou...

Triumph In Retreat
A STORY OF "BILLY BLUE." After the defeat of the French ...

The Story Of The Cinque Ports

Defeat Of The Spanish Fleet In The Faro Off Messina
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Early in the year 1718 the activity of...

The Story Of Nelson's Boyhood
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. Horatio Nelson, son of Edmund and Cat...

The Mutiny Of The Bounty
The circumstances detailed in the following narrative are a...

The Story Of Admiral Benbow
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Admiral Benbow was descended from the ...

The Voyage Made To Tripolis In Barbary

The Evacuation Of Corsica And The Battle Of Cape St Vincent
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. Sir John Jervis now became commander ...

First Steps Up The Ladder

The Story Of Captain Hornby And The French Privateer

The difficulties under which merchantmen carried on their trade with
foreign countries before the navy had reduced to order the highway of
the seas, is well illustrated in many a narrative of adventure with
pirates and fights with privateers, which equal in the heroism and
daring they display the proudest stories of naval conquest. The
following story taken from Young's "History of Whitby" is a case in

Mr. Richard Hornby, of Stokesley, was master of a merchant ship, the
Isabella, of Sunderland, in which he sailed from the coast of Norfolk
for the Hague, June 1st, 1744, in company with three smaller vessels
recommended to his care. Next day they made Gravesant steeple in the
Hague; but while they were steering for their port, a French privateer,
that lay concealed among the Dutch fishing-boats, suddenly came against
them, singling out the Isabella as the object of attack, while the
rest dispersed and escaped.

The conquest was very unequal, for the Isabella mounted only four
carriage guns and two swivels, and her crew consisted of only five men
and three boys, besides the captain; while the privateer, the Marquis
de Brancas, commanded by Captain Andre, had ten carriage guns and eight
swivels, with seventy-five men and three hundred small arms.

Yet Captain Hornby, after consulting his mate and gaining the consent of
his crew, whom he animated by an appropriate address, hoisted the
British colours, and with his two swivel guns returned the fire of the
enemy's chase guns. The Frenchmen, in abusive terms, commanded him to
strike, to which he returned an answer of defiance. Upon this the
privateer advanced, and poured in such showers of bullets into the
Isabella that Captain Hornby found it prudent to order his brave
fellows into close quarters. While he lay thus sheltered the enemy twice
attempted to board him on the larboard quarter; but by a dexterous turn
of the helm he frustrated both attempts, though the Frenchmen kept
firing upon him both with their guns and small arms, which fire Captain
Hornby returned with his two larboard guns. At two o'clock, when the
action had lasted an hour, the privateer, running furiously in upon the
larboard of the Isabella, entangled her bowsprit among the main
shrouds, and was lashed fast to her; upon which Captain Andre bawled, in
a menacing tone, "You English dog, strike!" but the undaunted Hornby
challenged him to come on board and strike his colours, if he dared. The
enraged Frenchman took him at his word, and threw in twenty men upon
him, who began to hack and hew into his close quarters; but a discharge
of blunderbusses made the invaders retreat as fast as their wounds would
permit them.

The privateer, being then disengaged from the Isabella, turned about,
and made another attempt on the starboard side; when Captain Hornby and
his valiant mate shot each his man as they were again lashing the ships

The Frenchmen once more commanded him to strike, and the brave Briton
returning another refusal, twenty fresh men entered, and made a fierce
attack on the close quarters with hatchets and pole-axes, with which
they had nearly cut their way through in three places, when the constant
fire kept up by Captain Hornby and his brave crew obliged them to
retreat, carrying their wounded with them, and hauling their dead after
them with boat-hooks. The Isabella continued lashed to the enemy; the
latter, with small arms, fired repeated and terrible volleys into the
close quarters, partly from his forecastle and partly from his main
deck, bringing forward fresh men to supply the place of the dead and
wounded: but the fire was returned with such spirit and effect that the
Frenchmen repeatedly gave way. At length Captain Hornby, seeing them
crowding behind their main mast for shelter, aimed a blunderbuss at
them, which being by mistake doubly loaded, containing twice twelve
balls, burst in the firing, and threw him down to the great
consternation of his little crew, who supposed him dead; yet he soon
started up again, though greatly bruised, while the enemy, among whom
the blunderbusses had made dreadful havoc, disengaged themselves from
the Isabella, to which they had been lashed an hour and a quarter, and
sheered off with precipitation, leaving their grapplings, pole-axes,
pistols, and cutlasses behind them.

The gallant Hornby fired his two starboard guns into the enemy's stern;
and the indignant Frenchman soon returning, the conflict was renewed,
and carried on yard-arm and yard-arm with great fury for two hours
together. The Isabella was shot through her hull several times, her
sails and rigging were torn to pieces, her ensign was dismounted, and
every mast and yard wounded; yet she bravely maintained the conflict,
and at last by a fortunate shot which struck the Brancas between wind
and water, obliged her to sheer off and careen. While the enemy were
retiring, Hornby and his brave little crew sallied out from their
fastness, and erecting their fallen ensign gave three cheers.

By this time both vessels had driven so near the shore that immense
crowds, on foot and in coaches, had assembled to be spectators of the

The Frenchman, having stopped his leak, returned to the combat, and
poured a dreadful volley into the stern of the Isabella, when Captain
Hornby was wounded in the temples by a musket shot, and bled profusely.

This somewhat disconcerted his companions in valour; but he called to
them briskly to take courage and stand to their arms, for his wound was
not dangerous; upon which their spirits revived, and again taking post
in their close quarters, sustained the shock of another assault, and
after receiving three tremendous broadsides, repulsed the foe by
another well-aimed shot, which sent the Brancas again to careen. The
huzzas of the Isabella's crew were renewed, and they again set up
their shattered ensign, which was shot through and through into
honourable rags.

Andre, who was not deficient in bravery, soon renewed the fight; and
having disabled the Isabella by five terrible broadsides, once more
summoned Hornby, with dreadful menaces, to strike his colours.

Captain Hornby animated his gallant comrades--"Behold," said he,
pointing to the shore, "the witnesses of your valour this day!" then
finding them determined to stand by him to the last, he hurled his final
defiance upon the enemy. The latter immediately ran upon his starboard
and lashed close alongside; but his crew murmured, and refused to renew
the dangerous task of boarding, and, cutting off the lashings, again
retreated. Captain Hornby resolved to salute the privateer with one
parting gun; and this last shot, fired into the stern of the Brancas,
reached the magazine, which blew up with a tremendous explosion, and the
vessel instantly foundered. Out of seventy-five men, thirty-six were
killed or wounded in the action, and all the rest, together with the
wounded, perished in the deep, except three who were picked up by the
Dutch fishing-boats. The horrible catastrophe excited the commiseration
of Captain Hornby and his brave men, who could render no assistance to
their unfortunate enemies, the Isabella having become unmanageable,
and her boat being shattered to pieces. The engagement lasted seven

For this singular instance of successful bravery Mr. Hornby received
from the king a large gold medal commemorating his heroism. He survived
the action seven years, and dying at sea of a lingering illness, was
buried at Liverpool, being then fifty-two years of age.

Next: Off Cape Finisterre

Previous: Defeat Of The Spanish Fleet In The Faro Off Messina

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 1695

Untitled Document