The Naval history of Great Britain:
from the declaration of war by France in 1793 to the accession of George IV
On the 5th August, of the southern coast of the United States, the British 14-gun-schooner Dominica, (twelve 12-pound carronades and two sixes, with, as an extra gun, a 32-pound carronade upon a traversing carriage,) Lieutenant George Barretté, having under her convoy the king's packet princess Charlotte, bound from St. Thomas's to England, fell in with the French, or rather, the Franco-American privateer-schooner Decatur, (six 12-pound carronades and one long 18-pounder on a traversing carriage, ) commanded by the celebrated Captain Dominique Diron.
Commencing the attack from to-windward, at a distance that best suited her long 18-pounder, the Decatur gradually closed with the Dominica, and made an attempt to board, but was repulsed.
A second attempt met the same fate; but, after the contest had lasted three quarters of an hour, the Decatur ran her jib-boom through the Dominica's main sail, when a third attempt, made by the whole of the French crew, succeeded; that is, the privateer's men gained a footing on the Dominica's deck.
Here a sanguinary conflict ensued; in which lieutenant Barretté, after having been wounded early in the action by two musket-balls in the left arm, fought in the most gallant manner, and, refusing to surrender, was killed.
His officers and men, emulating his example, made a noble resistance against double their numbers. Owing to the crowded state of the Dominica's deck from the presence of the boarders, and the valour of the British crew in persisting to struggle with the latter, fire-arms became useless, and cutlasses and cold shot were the chief weapons used.
At length, the Dominica's brave crew became diminished to fifteen men and boys; and the Decatur's, then six time more numerous, hauled down the British colours.
Of her sixty-seven men and ten boys, the Dominica had her commander, master, purser, two midshipmen, and thirteen seamen and boys killed and mortally wounded, and forty-seven severely and slightly wounded, including every other officer (her sub-lieutenant was absent) except the surgeon and one midshipman.
One of her boys, not eleven years old, was wounded in two places.
The Decatur, out of a crew of at least 120 men, had four killed and fifteen wounded. It appears that Captain Diron, by his masterly manoeuvres, prevented the Dominica from making any effectual use of her guns; relying for success upon the arm in which he knew he was doubly superior.
The Decatur was captured by a privateer, certainly, but under circumstances, that reflected an honour rather than a disgrace upon the British character.