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Royal Naval Biography/Mounsher, Eyles


EYLES MOUNSHER, Esq.
[Post-Captain of 1813.]

Obtained the rank of lieutenant December 29, 1796, and was first of the Leviathan 74, Captain Henry William Bayntun, at the defeat of the enemies’ combined fleets, off Trafalgar, October 21, 1805.

The first broadside fired by the Leviathan, on that memorable day, was poured into the stern of Mons. Villeneuve’s flag-ship, at the distance of not more than 30 yards. Captain Bayntun then passed astern of the Santissima Trinidada, Spanish 4-decker, and gave her a similar dose; his subsequent proceedings are thus described by Mr. James:–

Leaving the Santissima Trinidada to the care of the English Neptune, the Leviathan stood on towards the French Neptune, then amusing herself in the manner we have related[1]. As the Leviathan approached, and before she was in a position to fire a shot, the Neptune, at whom the Temeraire had just brought some of her foremost guns to bear, wore round and went off before the wind. Disappointed here, Captain Bayntun hauled up on the larboard tack, and presently observed that all the ships of the combined van a-head of the Santissima Trinidada, were tacking, or wearing, as if to double upon the headmost ships of the British weather column, and place them betwixt two fires. Sure of finding an opponent among those, the Leviathan stood on to the N.E.

A Spanish 74, the San-Augustin, who was steering S.E., appeared to be desirous to measure her strength with the British 74, and, when within 100 yards, put her helm hard a-starboard, in order to rake the Leviathan a-head. To frustrate a manoeuvre so likely to be serious in its effects, the Leviathan put her helm hard a-port, and, having fresher way than the San-Augustin, felt its influence more quickly. The consequence was, that the guns of the British ship were brought to bear before those of her antagonist; and, loaded with three shot each, were discharged with admirable precision, and at the distance of less than 50 yards, into the starboard quarter of the San-Augustin. Down went, in an instant, the Spanish ship’s mizen-mast, and with it her colours, and feeble was the return she bestowed.

The probability now was, that as the Leviathan kept forging a-head, and could not, on account of the previously damaged state of her rigging, back her sails, the San-Augustin would be able to wear under her stern. To prevent this, the Leviathan, putting her helm a-starboard, ran on board the San-Augustin in such a way, that the latter’s jib-boom entangled itself in the former’s larboard main-rigging, thereby exposing the San-Augustin’s upper-deck to the poop-carronades and marines of the Leviathan. A smart and well-directed fire soon drove the Spaniards below; and Lieutenant Eyles Mounsher, at the head of a party of seamen and marines, leaped on board the San-Augustin, and carried her without further opposition The British 74, with her stream-cable, then lashed the prize to herself. Scarcely had the Leviathan effected this, ere the Intrepide 74, another fresh ship from the combined van, came crowding up, and after raking the Leviathan ahead, ranged along her starboard side; but waited only to exchange a passing fire, as the Africa and one or two other British ships were fast approaching to the assistance of their friend.

The Leviathan’s loss was but very trifling: it amounted to no more than 4 men killed and 22 wounded. Her damages were:– Eight shot between wind and water; all three lower-masts, the bowsprit, and most of the lower and top-sail-yards crippled; the mizen-top-sail-yard shot away; a great part of the standing and running rigging cut to pieces; three guns disabled; and the main piece of the head shot through. She returned home in Dec. following; and, on the 24th of that month, her first lieutenant was promoted to the rank of commander.

We next find this officer, in the Drake sloop, destroying a large French privateer schooner, near Camperdown, Mar. 7, 1810. On the 9th April following, he captured the Tilsit, of 18 guns and 64 men. His post commission bears date Dec. 4, 1813.

Captain Mounsher’s brother, James, is a Purser, R.N.