HMS Belle Poule (1806)
Capture of the 'Gypsy', 30 April 1812: left to right: HMS Belle Poule, Gypsy, and HMS Hermes, by Thomas Buttersworth
|Laid down:||June 1801|
|Launched:||17 April 1802|
|Fate:||Captured by Royal Navy, 13 March 1806|
|Name:||HMS Belle Poule|
|Acquired:||Captured on 13 March 1806|
|Naval General Service Medal with clasp "14 Dec. Boat Service 1814"|
|Fate:||Sold on 11 June 1816|
|General characteristics as built|
|Class and type:||40-gun Virginie-class frigate; re-rated as 36-gun fifth rate after capture|
|Tons burthen:||1076 (bm)|
|Length:||127 ft 8 in (38.9 m) (gundeck)|
|Beam:||39 ft 11 in (12.2 m)|
|Draught:||13 ft 4 in (4.1 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full rigged ship|
|Complement:||284 (later 315)|
HMS Belle Poule was a Royal Navy fifth rate frigate, formerly Belle Poule, a Virginie-class frigate of the French Navy, which was built by the Crucy family's shipyard at Basse-Indre to a design by Jacques-Noël Sané. She was launched on 17 April 1802, and saw active service in the East, but in 1806 a British squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren captured her off La Palma in the Canary Islands. The Admiralty commissioned her into the Royal Navy as HMS Belle Poule. She was sold in 1816.
In March 1803, she joined the fleet of Rear-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand Linois, whose mission was to re-take the colonies of the Indian Ocean, given to English at the peace of Amiens. The fleet included the 74-gun ship of the line Marengo, the frigates Atalante, Belle Poule and Sémillante, troop ships and cargoes with food and ammunition.
At the beginning of November, the division set sail for Batavia to protect the Dutch colonies. En route, Linois destroyed the English counters in Bencoolen, capturing five ships, and sailed for the South China Sea, where the China Fleet of the British East India Company was expected. The fleets met in the Battle of Pulo Aura, but the greater numbers and aggressive action of the British East Indiamen, some of whom flew Royal Navy flags, drove the French away. Linois returned to Batavia. He dispatched Atalante and Belle Poule to the Gulf of Bengal, where Belle Poule captured a few ships before returning to Ile de France.
In 1805 and 1806, Belle Poule and some other ships of the division cruised the African coast between the Red Sea and the Cape of Good Hope, capturing some ships. At the Action of 13 March 1806, Linois met with the division of Vice-Admiral Sir John Warren, with seven ships of the line (including the 108-gun London, the 82-gun Ramilles and Repulse, and the 80-gun Foudroyant), two frigates (including the 48-gun Amazon) and one corvette. After a fierce duel with London, Marengo struck her colours; Belle Poule battled against Amazon and later against Ramillies, and had to surrender as well.
At the time of her capture Belle Poule was armed with forty 18-pounder guns, had a crew of 320 men, and was under the command of Captain Brouillac. Marengo and Belle Poule had lost 65 men killed and 80 wounded. The British on London and Amazon had 13 officers and men killed and 26 officers and men wounded.
She entered service under the same name in 1808 under captain James Brisbane, joining the forces operating in the Adriatic campaign of 1807-1814 off Corfu, successfully blockading the island. In February 1809 Brisbane captured the storeship Var in a raid on the harbour at Valona; the British then used her as a storeship too. Var was anchored under the guns of two fortresses that nevertheless did not fire their guns, leaving Belle Poule free to concentrate her fire on the French vessel. Var was pierced for 32 guns but only had twenty-two 9-pounder guns and four 24-pounder carronades mounted. She had a crew of 200 men and was under the command of Capitaine de Frigate Palin, however Brisbane was unable to ascertain her losses as her crew abandoned her as she struck. She had been sailing from Corfu for any port in Italy that she could reach.
On 10 March 1810 Belle Poule captured the Charlotta.
Then a British force attacked the fortress of Santa Maura, which was a French strongpoint off Greece's west coast. Belle Poule's marines formed part of the assault on the enemy's lines; the fortress surrendered on 16 April 1810. Belle Poule had one man, Lieutenant Morrison, of the Royal Marines, wounded at this time. In all, during the siege of Santa Maura, from 31 March to 10 April, Belle Poule suffered six men wounded.
On 21 August 1810 Belle Poule captured the Saint Nicholo. Then on 11 December, Belle Poule captured the brig Carlotta, pierced for 14 guns but with only 10 mounted. She had a crew of 100 men and when captured was sailing from Venice to Corfu. The Royal Navy took her into service as HMS Carlotta. Montague and Acorn shared in the prize money for the hull. At around the same time Belle Poule also assisted at the capture of a French schooner on the Dalmatian Coast.
On 30 January 1811 Belle Poule, Leonidas, Victorious and Imogen shared in the capture and destruction of the Italian man-of-war schooner Leoben. Leoben was sailing along the Albanian coast from Venice to Corfu with a cargo of ordnance stores when the British caught her. She was armed with ten guns and a crew of 60 men. Her own crew set her on fire and she subsequently blew up.
From 4–5 May 1811, Belle Poule participated with Alceste in an attack on Parenza (Istria). They chased a French 18-gun brig into the harbour but the ships could not close enough to bombard her. Instead, the two vessels landed 200 seamen and all their marines on an island nearby. They then landed two 9-pounders and two howitzers, which they placed in one battery, and a field piece that they placed further away. Eventually, they and the French in Parenza engaged in five hours of mutual bombardment, during which the British were able to sink the brig. They then returned men and cannons to their ships. In the action Belle Poule had one man killed and three wounded and Alceste had two men killed; all casualties occurred onshore.
War of 1812
During 1812 Belle Poule patrolled the Western Approaches, capturing numerous American merchant vessels and privateers. On 27 January she detained and sent in the Spy from New York. Then she captured Prudentia on 31 January and Don Roderick on 16 February. At the capture of Don Roderick, Belle Poule was in company with Achates, Dryad and Lyra.
On 30 April 1812, Belle Poule and Hermes captured the American privateer schooner Gipsy or Gipsey, out of New York, in the middle of the Atlantic and after a three-day chase. Gipsey surrendered twice to Hermes and twice got away again before Belle Poule caught her. Gipsey was of 300 tons and was armed with twelve 18-pounder carronades and an 18-pounder gun on a pivot mount.
In September 1812 George Harris replaced Brisbane and over the next year Belle Poule captured several American vessels, including four privateers. Warspite and Belle Poule captured Mars and her cargo, on 26 February 1813. On 11 March, Belle Poule and the privateer Earl St Vincent captured the American ship John and Francis, of 220 tons, two guns and 16 men. She was sailing from Bordeaux to New York with a cargo of brandy and wine.
On 3 April 1813 Belle Poule took Grand Napoleon after a chase of nine hours. She was 29 days from New York, carrying a valuable cargo to Bordeaux. She was a new vessel of 305 tons, pierced for 22 guns but carrying only four, and had a crew of 43 men. Harris described her as "copper-fastened, and in every respect one of the finest vessels I ever saw." That same day Dispatch captured the Prussian vessel Enigheidt. Briton, Belle Poule and Royalist shared by agreement. Belle Poule also captured the American schooner Napoleon, which may have been a different vessel than the Grand Napoleon. With respect to the Napoleon, Belle Poule was in company with Briton and the hired armed cutter Fancy, with Dispatch and HMS Royalist1807 (2) sharing by agreement.
Belle Poule and Pyramus took the 10-gun letter of marque schooner Zebra and her crew of 38 men on 20 April 1813. Zebra was sailing from Bordeaux to New York. At the time of the capture, Andromache was in sight. The navy took Zebra into service as Pictou
On 11 May Belle Poule took Revenge after a chase that lasted from 5 p.m. the previous evening until 2am. Revenge was a new vessel, sailing from Charleston to Bordeaux. She had a crew of 32 men and was pierced for 16 guns but carried only four long 9-pounders.
On 20 September Belle Poule captured two French chasse marees. the first was Rose, of 32 tons and five men, sailing from Bordeaux to Nantes. The second was Ambition, of 25 tons and three men, sailing from Bordeaux to Rochelle.[Note 1]
Lastly, on 14 December Belle Poule took the brig Squirrel, which was sailing from Arcasson, in the Gironde, to New York. The brig was of 169 tons, armed with two guns and had a crew of 17 men. Belle Poule was in company with Castilian and Tartarus.
In 1814 Belle Poule was under Captain Edward Williams. Then she entered the Gironde in Southern France. Before 9 April, a landing party of seamen and marines from Belle Poule, under Captain George Harris, marched 50 miles, successively entering and destroying the batteries of Pointe Coubre, Pointe Nègre, Royan, Soulac, and Mèche. In all, the landing party destroyed forty-seven 36-pounder guns and seventeen 13" mortars. On his return from this expedition, Harris organized the siege of the fortress at Blaye. Rear Admiral Penrose then had Belle Poule sail up the Gironde, "in advance of the advanced squadron".
Following a request from the Duke of Wellington, Belle Poule was commissioned as a troopship in June under Captain Francis Baker. She was fitted for that role in August and September. On 15 August she was in Plymouth, having come from Portsmouth with the 93d Regiment of Foot. On 17 September she embarked troops before sailing for Bermuda the next day and then on to New Orleans. The 93rd would then serve at the Battle of New Orleans, where they would take heavy casualties.
Belle Poule was part of the flotilla at the battle of New Orleans. In the run-up to that battle her boats participated in the Battle of Lake Borgne on 12–14 December 1814. Her only casualties were two men slightly wounded. Many years later her crew received a distribution of head-money arising from the capture of American gun-boats and sundry bales of cotton at the battle.[Note 2] In 1847, the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "14 Dec. Boat Service 1814" to all surviving claimants from the action.
Belle Poule returned to Portsmouth on 17 May 1815. A week later she sailed for Cork. She was converted to a prison hulk in 1815. She was sold on 11 June 1816 for ₤2,700.
In January 1819, the London Gazette reported that Parliament had voted a grant to all those who had served under the command of Lord Viscount Keith in 1812, between 1812 and 1814, and in the Gironde. Belle Poule was listed among the vessels that had served under Keith in the Gironde.[Note 3]
- A first-class share of the prize money was worth £278 19s 4½d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth £2 8s 10d.
- A first-class share of the prize money was worth £34 12s 9¼d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth 7s 10¾d.
- The sum of the two tranches of payment for that service was £272 8s 5d for a first-class share; the amount for a sixth-class share was £3 3s 5d.
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