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.

Thus far we may attempt to palliate the conduct of the French, but it might naturally be supposed that upon learning from his papers the errand of mercy upon which Lieutenant Thomas had been engaged, the French officer would have done all in his power to alleviate the sufferings of his prisoner, and have shown him every mark of courtesy and attention.  However this may be, no sooner were all arrangements completed, than the prisoners were marched to the boats, and Lieutenant Thomas was handed over to the care of two grenadiers, with directions that every attention should be paid to him; but the officer’s back was scarcely turned, when these grenadiers, assisted by some of their comrades, stripped poor Thomas of all his clothes, broke open his trunk, which had been restored to him, and appropriated to themselves every article of value that he possessed.  Having secured their plunder, they dragged their unfortunate victim to the beach, regardless of his wound and sufferings, and after gagging him with a pocket-handkerchief, threw him on the deck of one of their boats.

The wind blowing fresh on their passage to Granville, which was three leagues from Chaussey, the greater part of the soldiers were prostrated by sea-sickness, whilst the seamen were in such a state of intoxication, that had Lieutenant Thomas been able to rise, or to communicate with his fellow-prisoners, he might easily have overpowered the French, and gained possession of the vessel.  If such an idea flashed across his mind, it was but for a moment:  he could neither speak nor move, and lay for many hours exposed to the insulting jeers of the French, and the inclemency of the weather.  It was late at night when they landed at Granville, but the naval and military staff waited upon Mr. Thomas the next morning, and told him that it was the intention of the authorities to send him back to England, in consideration of his kindness to the French prisoners.  The expectation raised in the English officer’s breast by these promises were, to the disgrace of the French government of that day, never realized.  He was thrown into prison, and treated with the utmost severity; in vain did he protest against this injustice—­in vain did he represent that he was engaged on no hostile expedition at the time of his capture, which, moreover, was not through the fortune of war, but through the violence of the elements.  He was kept in close confinement at Verdun for ten years, and when he was at last released, liberty was scarcely a boon to him.  The damp of his prison, and the sufferings attendant on his wound, had impaired his eyesight, and otherwise so injured his constitution, that he was no longer fit for active service.  He was, however, promoted to the rank of commander immediately on his return to England:  this rank he still holds, but the best years of his life had been spent in captivity, and his hopes of promotion were not realized till too late for the enjoyment of its honours, or for the service of his country.

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