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20 Mile Row to Capture the Curieux, Martinique

The French brig sloop ‘Curieux’ was fitted out at Martinique in order to attack British interests, as she was a threat to British West Indian commerce, the British Commodore Hood gave orders for her capture.

Under the command of Lieutenant Robert Carthew Reynolds four boats with 60 seamen and 12 marines set out on a moonlit night from the British ship ‘Centaur’. This meant a 20-mile row to reach the ‘Curieux’ lying under the protection of the guns of Fort Edward.

When Reynolds’s barge came in under the stern of the ‘Curieux’ he found that, providentially, a rope ladder hung down the side. He scaled it and cut a hole in the anti-boarding nets to enable his men to pour on board. Before she was taken the French lost nearly 40 killed and wounded.

The British had nine wounded including Reynolds.

The British sent Curieux under a flag of truce to Fort Royal to hand the wounded over to their countrymen.

The Royal Navy took her into service as HMS Curieux, a brig-sloop. Reynolds commissioned her but he had been severely wounded in the action and though he lingered for a while, died in September

Painting: The cutting out of the Curieux, Martinique, 4th February 1804, Mark Richard Myers, P.R.S.M.A. (San Mateo, California b.1945)

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