Accounts of seven intrepid women sailors of the Age of Sail
There are several notable instances and written accounts of women who have disguised themselves as men and joined the armies of their times to fight for patriotism, adventure or to follow a husband or lover to war. Mother Ross, who fought as a dragoon in Marlborough’s ranks at Blenheim and many other engagements is a well known example, although there have been recorded instances of ‘women-soldiers’ throughout history. This book follows the fortunes of women who followed in the steps of those marching ladies, but who disguised themselves as sailors and took to the seaways. Some fought for the Royal Navy while others—whose names have become infamous—sailed under the ‘black flag’ as pirates. This special Leonaur edition chronicles the exciting careers of seven women who served, sailed and fought disguised as men. Here readers will discover Anne Bonny, a pirate who became as well known as Blackbeard, together with the less well known Mary Ann Talbot, Mary Read, Emma Cole and others.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Three months after my coming on board the Brunswick, our fleet fell in with that of the French, which brought on the ever memorable action of the 1st of June; an event which will ever be remembered with heartfelt satisfaction by the brave fellows who shared the toils of that auspicious day, and indeed by every lover of our glorious constitution and country. I cannot enter into a minute description of the action, being in the first part so busily engaged, and in the latter so much wounded; and shall, in consequence, commit a description of the part our gallant crew took in this exploit by what I afterwards was informed while lying under cure of the wounds I got while employed on board a ship, the glory of everyone who had the felicity of belonging to her, I mean the Brunswick.
This ship sustained a most tremendous conflict, being singly engaged for a considerable time with three seventy-fours. One of these she sent to the bottom; another, conceiving her much weakened from her exertions, determined to board, and manned her yards and shrouds, with a view of running up along-side, and flinging in all her crew at once. She observing this, with the greatest intrepidity and coolness, reserved a whole broadside, and in one discharge the Brunswick brought every mast by the board, and scattered her crew like so many mice upon the ocean. The other seventy-four yet remained, and now attempted to close with the Brunswick, harassed and enfeebled by her amazing efforts.
At this moment the Ramillies, commanded by Captain Hervey’s brother, came up, and running in between the Brunswick and the Frenchman, took the enemy’s fire, and relieved our gallant ship. So closely was she at times engaged, that she was unable to haul up her lower deck port lids, and was therefore obliged to fire through them. Nine were in consequence torn from her side; and the last broadside she gave, every muzzle of her lower deckers touched the copper of the enemy’s bottom. The chief part of this action I was spectator as well as actor in, though strange to add, was not in the least intimidated. Just before the coming up of the Ramillies, I received a severe wound above the ankle of my left leg, by a grapeshot, that struck on the aftermost brace of the gun, which rebounding on the deck, lodged in my leg; notwithstanding which I attempted to rise three times, but without effect, and in the last effort part of the bone projected through the skin, in such a manner as wholly to prevent my standing, if I had been able to rise.
In addition to complete the misfortune, I received another wound by a musket-ball, that went completely through my thigh, a little above the knee of the same leg, and lay in this crippled state till the engagement was over; every person on board not wounded, being too much occupied to yield me the least assistance. I remained in this situation the rest of the action; but at length was conveyed, with many other wounded, to the cock-pit; where the surgeon, after making me suffer the most excruciating pain, could not extract the grape-shot from above my ankle, so completely was it lodged, and surrounded by the swelling which soon took place, and prevented his endeavour, through fear of injuring the tendons, among which he declared that it lay.
Our ship being so much shattered, it was deemed necessary she should be put in port to undergo repairs; in consequence of which we were towed into Spithead soon after the action: but the severity of my wounds obliged me to keep close to my birth, and was thus deprived of the gratifying pleasure of being hailed with those of my gallant messmates, who, on their arrival at Spithead, were greeted with the loudest acclamations of applause, by their grateful countrymen. With the first convenient opportunity, I was conveyed to Haslar hospital, at Gosport, and placed under the care of Surgeon Dodd, as outpatient, there not being sufficient room, from the number of wounded seamen, to admit me into the hospital: during this time I lay under his hands, I lodged at No. 2, Riemes Alley, Gosport, and supported myself with money I had received from Captain Hervey prior to the engagement. After four months attendance, and obtaining a partial cure; as Surgeon Dodd, though the utmost of his skill was exerted, could not extract the ball, it having lodged among the tendons, as before stated; to have cut among which, he said, would make me a cripple for life.
At length, little remaining but the scars which I shall carry to my grave, and having obtained in a great measure the use of my leg, I was discharged from the hospital, and soon after entered on board the Vesuvius bomb, Captain Tomlinson, then belonging to the squadron under the command of Sir Sydney Smith, lying at Spithead, and immediately commenced a cruise, in hopes of making prizes; but after some weeks cruising on the French coast without success, we steered for the Mediterranean, and, on our arrival at Gibraltar, came to an anchor, where we continued for three days. During that time we received an order to join the squadron under Sir Sydney Smith; on which we immediately weighed, and proceeded according to directions received.
Nothing worth notice occurred until we fell in with Sir Sydney and the ships under his command, in company of which we proceeded to Havre-de-Grace, where we were soon after separated in a gale; and continuing on the French coast with intent to rejoin Sir Sydney, fell in with two privateers near Dunkirk; from whom, observing their superior force, Captain Tomlinson endeavoured to make sail. The Frenchman observing his determination, crowded all the sail he could make, in chase; and we instantly commenced a running fire, which continued seven hours; at the end of which their superior weight of metal brought us to, and were in consequence immediately boarded. What became of Captain Tomlinson, the vessel, and part of the crew, I know not, as myself and William Richards, a young midshipman, (in which capacity I also acted on board the Vesuvius) were separated from the rest, and carried on board the other; but I have since reason to think the Vesuvius was recaptured, as she now continues in the British service.