Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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Prince William was serving at the time on board the Prince George, the flagship of Rear-admiral Robert Digby, which formed part of Rodney's fleet. Reports of the courage and good conduct of the Prince during the battle increased the popular en­thusiasm which welcomed Rodney's victory, and inspired the song entitled The Royal Sailor (p. 262). On April 12, 1782, took place Rodney's victory over De Grasse, which brought the naval war to a conclusion. It is the subject of a singu­larly ungrammatical ballad called Rodney's Glory, and of another entitled Hoods Conquest over the Count de Grasse, in which Rodney's name is not even mentioned (p. 263). Rodney captured five line-of-battle ships in the battle. Four of them, with three English 74-gun ships, sailed from Jamaica for England at the end of July 1782, but all save two were lost on the way. Two of the prizes, the Ville de Paris and the Glorieux, foundered with all hands; a third, the Hector, was lost, though 200 of the crew were saved by the privateer Hawke. One of the English seventy-fours, the Ramillies, became unseaworthy, lost all her masts, and was abandoned. Another, the Centaur, went down with all her crew except twelve men on September 23, 1782. The ballad called The Loss of the Centaur (p. 265) com­memorates the escape of Captain Inglefield and the twelve survivors (Laughton, Sea Fights and Ad­ventures, p. 153 ; Clowes, iv. 88).
Several ballads of the period relate to engage­ments between single ships. Captain Farmer (p. 260) describes the hard-fought encounter be­tween the Quebec and Surveillante off Ushant on October 6, 1779. The Quebec took fire and blew up, and Captain George Farmer went down with his ship.