A battle at sea, 1810

An account of the start of the action of the 3rd July 1810, between the Ceylon, Windham, and Astell, East Indiamen; and two large French Frigates and a Corvette: copied from the Log by George Chaplin Holroyd, (son of Sarah, née Chaplin), who was a Cadet at the time.

“At daylight three strange sail in sight bearing N.E. close hauled on the larboard tack. Called the hands out, beat to quarters, and cleared ship for action. At four minutes past seven signalled to prepare for battle, shortened sale, Commodore (Ceylon) under top sails;
7.18 Signal to keep in the Commodore wake, bore up to get in the Commodore wake;
7.30 Signal to haul the wind on the starboard tack;
7.35 Land bearing E. half N, the three strangers on the larboard tack bearing N.E by N. distant seven miles;
8.20 Ceylon made the private signal;
8.35 Signal to number strange sail seen;
8.40 Signal to wait the attack of the enemy;
8.45 Signal that the strangers are enemies;
9.16 Two of the strangers were bearing W. by N. distant six or seven miles;
9.30 The third stranger wore and loosed top gallant sails;
9.55 Blowing fresh, took in main top gallant sail, and made signal to Ceylon that we were over-pressed with sail and not able to keep company on that account;
10.15 Signal to continue our course under easy sail;
10.35 Took in main sail;
10.37 The Commodore telegraphed………[set of numbers]
11.15 In third reefs blowing;
11.25 The Windham telegraphed the Commodore, …. [set of numbers]
12.00 Two of the strangers astern on the starboard tack coming up, the smallest a Corvette, about three miles distant, carrying 22 guns, reconnoitering the fleet, the other six or seven astern a very heavy frigate, and the third stranger bearing N. by E., nine or 10 miles, to appearance a frigate of the same description;
12.10 The Ceylon telegraphed in the following numbers….[set of numbers]
12.30 The Ceylon bore up to come near us, at the same time the Corvette about one mile distance wore to join the frigate that was astern, the frigate about five miles off;
12.35 Signal to hoist same covers as the Commodore with a pendant;
1.05 The Corvette, three or four miles astern, wore again;
1.15 The frigate, on the starboard tack, bearing N.E. half N. nine or 10 miles distant, tacked and stood towards us under all sail;
1.30 The Commodore hoisted the red ensign and pendant, which we did also, the largest Frigate and Corvette nearly two miles astern;
1.45 The Ceylon made signal to keep in close order closing towards the leading ship or van;
1.55 The Frigate on the larboard tack bearing N. N. E. hoisted English colours, and when she bore S.S.W. tacked again to join her Consort
2.10 The largest Frigate and Corvette, on our weather quarter, distant half a mile. The Frigate, after firing a gun to leeward, hoisted French colours, and immediately opened fire upon us (the Ceylon and Wyndham ahead), which we returned, and continued in close action. The Commodore and Wyndham firing upon her at the same time……”  (The whole battle is described in the family file under George Chaplin Holroyd)