HMS Bonne Citoyenne (1796) - British Service - Bonne Citoyenne Captures Furieuse

Bonne Citoyenne Captures Furieuse

Bonne Citoyenne returned to England after delivering the despatches, and on 18 June sailed from Spithead in company with HMS Inflexible. The two were acting as escorts for a convoy bound for Quebec. Whilst she escorted the convoy, on 2 July, lookouts spotted a suspicious sail astern, and Mounsey dropped back to investigate. In doing so he lost sight of the convoy.

As he sailed to rejoin the convoy, on 5 July he came across a French frigate that was in the process of capturing an English merchant. Despite the frigate's substantially larger size, Mounsey immediately gave chase, at which the French ship fled northwards. After a chase lasting 18 hours the Bonne Citoyenne caught up with the French ship on the morning of 6 July and brought her to battle.

The subsequent engagement lasted seven hours, with Bonne Citoyenne at a disadvantage early on, when three of her guns were dismounted. She nevertheless fired 129 broadsides to the enemy's 70. By the end of the battle Bonne Citoyenne had lost her top masts, her lower masts were badly damaged, and her rigging, sails and boats had been shot to pieces. Running out of powder Mounsey decided to force the issue and ordered his men to be prepared to board the French ship. Before he could do so, the French surrendered and Mounsey took possession.

The enemy ship was discovered to be the Furieuse, which had sailed from the Îles des Saintes on 1 April, carrying sugar and coffee to France. She was capable of carrying 48 guns, but she was armed en flute, only carrying 20 at the time. Even so, the weight of her broadside was considerable as she carried twelve 42-pounder carronades, two long 24-pounder guns, and six other guns of smaller caliber. She also had a much larger crew, with 200 sailors, 40 soldiers, and a detachment of troops from the 60th Regiment of the Line. Furieuse had suffered heavy damage; she had lost her masts, had five feet of water in the hold, and her casualties numbered 35 killed and 37 wounded. By contrast, Bonne Citoyenne had lost just one man killed and five wounded. Mounsey attributed the smallness of his losses to "the Lowness of the Bonne Citoyenne's Hull, and being so close under the Enemy's Guns."

Furieuse was patched up, with a great deal of effort, to the point where Bonne Citoyenne could tow her into Halifax, where both underwent repairs. The Royal Navy took HMS Furieuse into service under her existing name. Bonne Citoyenne returned to England in September.

A round of promotions followed the victory. Bonne Citoyenne's first lieutenant received a promotion to commander and Mounsey one to Post captain, effective 6 July, i.e., the date of the battle. Mounsey was promised command of Furieuse once she was repaired. Captain John Simpson commissioned Furieuse in Halifax and sailed her to Britain, arriving in Portsmouth on 20 June 1810. She then underwent repairs. Mounsey then commissioned her in November 1811.

Inflexible sued in Vice-Admiralty Court in Halifax to share in the prize money from the capture. However, the Court ruled that Bonne Citoyenne was the sole captor.

The Admiralty issued Mounsey with a gold medal for the action, one of only 18 that they so honoured. In 1847 the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Bonne Citoyenne Wh. Furieuse" to all surviving claimants from Bonne Cityonne.

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