Beatson Extract:
Battle off Spanish River



On the 8th2 of July [1781], the Charlestown of twenty-eight guns, the Allegiance and Vulture sloops of fourteen guns each, commanded by Captains Evans,3 Phipps,4 and George,5 together with the Vernon and Jack armed ships, having sixteen vessels under convoy, sailed for Spanish river in the Island of Cape Breton, to loads coals for the use of the King’s forces.  When near their destination, on the 2d6 of July, they were chased by two large French frigates.*  Captain Evans, finding that the enemy gained ground, formed his little squadron into a line of battle ahead, the Charlestown being in the centre, and kept between the enemy and the convoy, all of which made good their entry into Spanish river.  The French ships got up with the British squadron about eight in the evening, and immediately began to engage.  The Jack (the smallest of the two armed vessels struck, soon after the action commenced: but the other British ships kept up an incessant and well directed fire for two hours, when the enemy sheered off, taking their prize with them.  Captain Evans, who conducted himself with great skill and bravery, was unfortunately killed, together with seven of his crew: twenty-nine men were wounded on board the Charlestown.  The Allegiance had one man killed, and five wounded; the Vulture had one man killed and two wounded; and the Vernon seven killed, and six wounded.  The British ships were much shattered.  The enemy must have sustained considerable loss of men; and their ships must have been greatly disabled.  On the death of Captain Evans, the command devolved to Captain Phipps.  The evening of the day on which the action was fought proving ver dark, he made the signal for the ships to alter their course in the night: and at day-light next morning, the enemy’s ships were not to be seen.

* L’Astrée of forty guns, M. de la Perouse ; and L’Hermione of thirty-six guns, M. de la Touche. [original note]



 Robert Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783 (London, 1804), vol. V, pp. 303-04.



 The engagement was July 21st, the convoy had departed Halifax on July 18th.



 Captain Henry Francis Evans, commanding HMS Charlestown, 6th/28.



 Master & Commander [rank: 1779 May 01] David Phips, commanding HMS Allegiance, Sloop.



 Master & Commander [rank: 1781] Rupert George, commanding HMS Vulture, Sloop



 July 21st.

Transcribed and annotated by R. Brooks. Posted 3 September 2010

Revised 6 August 2014 ©