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Royal Naval Biography/Webb, Edward


EDWARD WEBB, Esq.
[Commander.]

Distinguished himself on several occasions while serving as lieutenant under the late Sir William Hoste, from whose official letters, addressed to Rear-Admiral Fremantle, we make the following selection:–

H.M.S. Bacchante, off Otranto, Jan. 6th. 1813.

“Sir,– At day-break this morning, in company with H.M. sloop Weazle, I discovered a division of the enemy’s flotilla close to us, steering for the coast of Italy; it was nearly a calm. The enemy, on seeing us, separated; and I detached the boats of this ship, under Lieutenant O’Brien, to attack one subdivision, and directed the Weazle’s boats, with one from the Bacchante, to pursue the other, then endeavouring to gain the island of Funo. The Weazle was directed to support her boats, whilst I continued, with what little wind there was, the chase of those my own boats were after; and I have much satisfaction in stating the capture of the whole, without the loss of a man. The enemy waited in line to receive the attack; but the judicious disposition of the commanding lieutenant, and his prompt measures for boarding them, occasioned their surrender. * * * * * * * * The Weazle joined me in the evening, with the two gun-boats she had been sent in pursuit of; and a circumstance occurred in the capture of them, which will, I trust, recommend Mr. Edward Webb to the notice of the commander-in-chief. Notwithstanding the exertions of the Weazle, the boats were enabled to close with the enemy before her, and the then leading boat, commanded by Mr. Webb, of the Bacchante, got up with the sternmost who received him very warmly: he boarded and carried her. She mounted one 14-pounder in the bow, one 6-pounder in the stern, and had forty men on board. He left her to be taken possession of by the boats that were coming up, and pushed on after the headmost, which he boarded and carried in the same gallant manner. This one had a 9-pounder in the bow, a 6-pounder in the stern, and thirty-two men on board. Mr. Webb’s boat mounted an 8-pounder in the bow, and he had eighteen men only with him. He has passed his examination as lieutenant, has been two years acting, and is a very promising, meritorious young man. The enemy had quitted Corfu the evening before. * * * They are very fine vessels, and sail remarkably fast. Their guns are fitted so as to turn on a pivot, and may be fired in any direction without altering the course, which enabled them to keep up a very smart fire as our boats approached. the enemy had two men severely wounded. I am happy to say, we had no casualty whatever.”

June 12th, 1813.

“At day-light this morning we discovered an enemy’s convoy under the town of Gala Nova, on the coast of Abruzza. As I was six or seven miles to leeward of them, with a light breeze, and a current against me, I thought it best to detach the boats, with discretionary orders to the first lieutenant, S. T. Hood, either to attack them, or wait till I arrived. He found the enemy much stronger than was expected, consisting of seven large gun-boats, each mounting one 18-pounder in the bow, three smaller vessels with a 4-pounder in the bow, and fourteen sail of merchantmen under their protection, four of which had guns in the bow also. The shore astern of the vessels was lined with troops, entrenched on the beach with two field-pieces. This was the force opposed to a frigate’s boats; but no disparity of numbers could check the spirit of the brave officers and men employed on this service. The attack was determined on instantly, and executed with all the gallantry and spirit which men accustomed to danger, and to despise it, have so frequently shewn; and never was there a finer display of it than on this occasion. The boats, as they advanced, were exposed to a heavy fire of grape and musketry; and it was not till they were fairly alongside that the enemy slackened their fire, and were driven from their vessels with great loss. * * * * * * Lieutenant Hood speaks in the highest possible terms of acting Lieutenant Webb, who distinguished himself in January last. * * * * * I regret to say we have suffered severely, though not so much as might have been expected. Two seamen and one marine killed, five seamen and one marine wounded. This was a Neapolitan flotilla, from Ancona bound to Barletta, under the direction of French officers. * * * * * * I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed)W. Hoste.”

Other dashing and important services, in which Mr. Webb participated, have been noticed in our memoirs of Sir William Hoste, Captain Donat H. O’Brien, and Commander Silas T. Hood, in Vol. II. Part I., Suppl. Part IV., and Vol IV. Part I.

Mr. Webb was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the 14th June, 1813; appointed to the Cephalus sloop. Captain John Furneaux, Oct. 7th, 1814; to the Queen Charlotte 108, flag-ship of Sir James H. Whitshed, commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, Feb. 8th, 1821; to the Hind 20, Captain the Hon. H. J. Rous, Feb. 14th, 1822; and advanced to his present rank, Sept. 29th, 1827.