Royal Naval Biography/Guion, Gardiner Henry
GARDINER HENRY GUION, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1811.]
We first find this officer serving under Sir Joseph S. Yorke, as senior lieutenant of the Christian VII. and commanding her boats at the capture and destruction of twelve French merchantmen, laden with wines, brandies, &c. near Rochelle, in Jan. 1810. His spirited conduct in a subsequent affair with the enemy is thus officially described:–
“H.M.S. Christian VII. in Basque Roads, Feb. 13, 1810.
“Three vessels, being part of a convoy of ten sail, laden with brandy, &c. that sailed last night in thick blowing weather, wind W.S.W. from the Charente, bound to the northward, having got on the reef that projects from the point of Chatelaillon, between Aix and Rochelle, I directed the boats of this squadron to destroy them. This was forthwith attempted to be executed, wlien the enemy made a movement to prevent it. Our boats were eight in number, and the enemy’s nine; our’s armed in the usual way, their’s more formidable, all of them being gun-boats, each carrying a 12-pounder carronade and 6 swivels, and rowing from 20 to 30 oars.
“Lieutenant Guion, who directed the operations, made a feint of retreating, to decoy the enemy from their shore defences, when suddenly turning on them, they fled. The barge of this ship, in which he was, being the fleetest boat, advanced most gallantly along the rear of the enemy’s line to their third boat; but finding from circumstances that the rear boat was the only one likely to be successfully attacked, he boarded and carried her sword in hand. Two others were closely pursued to the beach by Lieutenant Roberts, of the Armide, and must, from his steady lire within pistol-shot, have lost men. The gun-boat taken by Lieutenant Guion had 2 killed and 3 wounded; amongst the latter was her commander, severely. The vessels alluded to above were then burnt.
(Signed)“Joseph S. Yorke.”
Lieutenant Guion was made a commander, and appointed to the Philomel brig of 18 guns, on the Mediterranean station. May 17, 1810. On the 31st Aug. following, that vessel was chased by a French squadron, off Toulon, and rescued in the most noble manner by the Repulse 74, Captain John Halliday, now Rear-Admiral Tollemache. This affair not having been noticed as it deserved in our first volume, more from the modesty of that excellent officer than from any indifference on our part, we have much pleasure in now giving a full account of it.
In the early part of August, three French store-ships, bound to Toulon, were chased into the anchorage of Porquerolle, one of the Hieres islands, and were there watched by Captain Guion. On the 26th, at day-light, they pushed out, and one of them succeeded in getting to Toulon, covered by a division of the French fleet from the outer road: the others, however, were obliged to put back to their former place of shelter. On the 30th, they removed to the entrance of the Little Pass, preparatory to a third attempt to reach their destined port. On the next morning, at day-light, the Toulon fleet was seen in motion; and at 8-30 A.M. the two store-ships were again under weigh. At 9-30, the Philomel, still at her post, tacked, the wind blowing a light breeze from the E.S.E., and at 10-30 she exchanged a few distant shot with them as they were rounding Point Escampebarion. In ten minutes afterwards, Captain Halliday, who was lying-to on the larboard tack, at some distance outside the brig, exchanged shot with the enemy’s advanced frigates: meanwhile the store-ships, favored by the wind and protected by their friends, got into Toulon.
Having accomplished this object, the French squadron under Rear-Admiral Baudin, in the Majestueux of 120 guns, continued working out, in the hope, apparently, of capturing the Philomel, whose commander now made all possible sail to get clear of the enemy. At noon their two headmost frigates opened a fire upon the brig, which she returned with her stern-chasers. About half an hour afterwards, the Repulse also commenced firing her stern guns; but finding that the shot of the frigates were passing over the Philomel, Captain Halliday instantly bore up to keep astern of her, and treated them with so heavy and well-directed a fire, that, in the course of a quarter of an hour, they wore, and joined the line-of-battle ships, several of which were also, by this time, far advanced in the chase. By 5 P.M. the whole of Mons. Baudin’s division were again at anchor in the outer road. At the time this daring act was performed by Captain Halliday, the British fleet was out of sight to leeward, except one 74 and a frigate, both of which were about 9 miles distant in the same direction. In a spirit of honorable gratitude. Captain Guion thus appropriately telegraphed the Repulse, “You repulsed the enemy, and nobly saved us; grant me permission to return thanks.”
Captain Guion was posted into the Rainbow of 26 guns, Sept. 26, 1811; and we subsequently find him actively employed in co-operation with the patriots of Catalonia. His last appointment was, Nov. 29, 1822, to the Tribune frigate.
Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.