John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
Preparations and Plagues

And some in dreams assured werebr
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.


I

THE repairs to the two ships caused more delay, during which further complications developed. It was found that the English prisoners, while at sea, had formed a plot to seize the Bon Homme Richard, and it was suspected that this had been connived at by Landais, who had disregarded Jones's signals, thus causing the collision. A courtmartial placed the blame on two quartermasters. They were staked out on deck and severely flogged, and the navigating officer of the Bon Homme Richard was tried and broken.

Jones then put to sea again and convoyed some merchant ships to Bordeaux. On the return voyage the Alliance and the Pallas lost themselves in a fog, and the Vengeance fled into port from a gale. Thus left alone in the Bon Homme Richard, Jones suddenly encountered two British frigates. He called his officers into council and asked if they were ready for a battle. They answered yes, and Jones then tacked and bore down on the two ships, but to his chagrin, they outsailed and escaped him. This incident proved to Jones that in the Bon Homme Richard he had a very dull ship. I would have taken them both together, he declared doughtily, if I had been able to get between them, a remark which indicates that all his disappointments had not been able to shake his self-confidence.

-137-

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