Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

We cannot conclude this account without quoting the following passage from the narrative of Captain Bertram:—­’I most justly attribute the preservation of the ship’s company to very great coolness and persevering exertions of both officers and men, in keeping the boats free from the water they shipped, and their great attention in steering before the sea.  I am happy to say that every man behaved with a regularity that is seldom found on similar occasions:  in fact, when the little clothing the people had saved, and the remaining bread and water, were from necessity ordered to be thrown overboard, there was not a murmur,—­they vied with each other who should obey the order first.’

In the year 1808, Captain Bertram, then a lieutenant, was appointed to the Emerald, a 36-gun frigate, commanded by Captain the Honourable Frederick Maitland.  On the 13th of March, they were off the harbour of Vivero, when a large French schooner was discovered at anchor, under the protection of the batteries.  Captain Maitland determined to attempt to capture or destroy her, and accordingly he stood in for the harbour at about five o’clock in the evening.  The first fort, which mounted eight 24-pounders, opened on the ship, as did also another fort about a mile higher up, as soon as the frigate came within range.  As it was impossible to place the ship in a position to act upon both batteries, Captain Maitland ordered Lieutenant Bertram, with a party of marines and seamen, to storm the outer fort, whilst he took the ship as near the inner fort as the water would allow.  Mr. Bertram succeeded in driving the enemy from the battery, and spiking the guns; he then made the best of his way by the shore to take possession of the schooner, which had been run upon the rocks.  He was joined by Mr. Baird, a midshipman, who had been sent with a party for the same purpose.  On the road they were met by a part of the schooner’s crew, consisting of about sixty men.  These were speedily assailed by the two young officers and their men, and put to flight.  Lieutenant Bertram then advanced towards the schooner, which proved to be L’Apropos, of twelve 8-pounder carronades, and he persevered for several hours in his attempts to get her afloat, under a galling fire of musketry from the shore.  All his efforts, however, were of no avail, as she had gone on shore at high water; it therefore became necessary to set her on fire, which was done; and the lieutenant returned with his party to the Emerald.

In this gallant exploit, nine men belonging to the Emerald were killed, and Lieutenant Bertram and several others wounded.

Captain Bertram, has lately accepted the rank of Retired Rear-Admiral.


We have now to relate the painful statement of a wreck, which was not only one of the most disastrous, but the most disgraceful in its consequences, of any that we have had to describe.

Project Gutenberg
Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook