July 11 1815: Napoleon’s Risky Schemes

Tuesday, the 11th.—About noon, a small boat came off from the Island of Oleron, to where the ship was at anchor in Basque Roads, rowed by four men, in which sat two respectable-looking countrymen, who asked for the Captain; and upon my being pointed out to them, requested to speak with me in private. When shown into the cabin, where I went accompanied by Captain Gambier, of the Myrmidon, they acquainted me, that a message had been sent from Isle d’Aix, early that morning, for a man who was considered the best pilot on the island for the Mamusson passage, being the only person that had ever taken a frigate through; that a large sum of money had been offered to him to pilot a vessel to sea from that passage, and that it certainly was Buonaparte’s intention to escape from thence; either in the corvette, which had moved down some days before, or in a Danish brig, which was then lying at anchor near the entrance.

On receiving this information, I immediately got under weigh, and though the flood-tide had just made in, beat the ships out of the Pertuis d’Antioche before it was dark, when I sent the Myrmidon off the Mamusson, with orders to anchor close in with the entrance, when the weather would admit of it; while I remained with the Bellerophon and Slaney, which rejoined me that evening, under weigh between the light-houses.

— Captain Maitland of H.M.S. Bellerophon, in the Atlantic off of Rochefort,  writes on July 11 1815.

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