The cutting out of HMS 'Hermione', 24 October 1799
A scene involving the ex-British frigate 'Hermione' which, two years earlier, was the scene of a terrible mutiny. This took place on the night of 22 September 1799 off Puerto Rico, when part of the crew rose and murdered their captain, Hugh Pigot. They then murdered two lieutenants, the purser, surgeon, captain's clerk, a midshipman, a lieutenant of marines and the boatswain. After this they surrendered the ship to the Spaniards at La Guayra, Venezuela. She was then commissioned into Spanish service and became the most sought after prize for the British in the West Indies. By October she was at Puerto Cabello in Venezuela when British Captain Edward Hamilton in the 'Surprise' found her. She was not an easy target because she was anchored under a battery of 200 guns. Hamilton did not achieve surprise either, because as he led his boats for the attack he was spotted by two Spanish gun-vessels. They gave the alarm so the crew of the 'Hermione' were ready for the British boats as they got along side her. Nevertheless she was boarded and after a desperate fight her cable was cut, her sails loosed, and in spite of the fire from the batteries she was carried out. Astonishingly this almost reckless initiative resulted in not one Briton killed, though twelve including the captain were wounded. Captain Hamilton was knighted for this fearless exploit and demonstration of intense patriotism.
- Image reference: BHC0519
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
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