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The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: The Mauritius Command (Book 4), Chapters 6-7 (pg. 1429-1498)

Your daily dose of off-topic shenanigans.

Ile de la Reunion
Cannons of Saint-Denis, Réunion
Photo by Ariel FUCHS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


The hurricane-battered squadron limps back to the Cape to lick their wounds and repair their ships. They do get some reinforcements in the meantime, though obviously the French can also recover and rebuild a bit in the meantime. One of the reinforcements is a familiar face, ol’ Thomas Pullings, who has his first command of a troop transport.

Pullings’ ship gets sacrificed as part of the landings on Réunion however, with a three-pronged land attack securing the island for good this time, and installing a British governor. Maturin’s propaganda work on the ground helps the new overlords settle in quickly and without any trouble once the French have surrendered.


Taking Mauritius will prove a lot more troublesome however, and here we come to the Battle of Grand Port, which in real life was the biggest defeat that the Royal Navy suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. The Wiki already makes for interesting reading, and the novel version is just as disastrous. Aubrey himself is spared the ignominy since he’s with the flagship on Réunion, and instead it’s Captains Pym and Clonfert who take the initiative and the center stage and thus manage to engineer this defeat — with the latter coming out horribly wounded and the former as a horrible doofus.

After capturing the key fortification at the mouth of the Grand Port, it seems like they have laid the perfect trap. And sure enough, here come the French frigates back from their latest raiding. Clonfert lures them into the channel and opens fire, but a lack of discipline in his men makes them miss their chance at destroying one of the French ships. Captain Pym still orders the squad to chase, but in the tricky local conditions of reefs and shoals, several run aground while others can’t get into position. They’re practically sitting ducks for the now reorganized French. One small British boat escapes (with Maturin onboard, who had been along as the politico), the rest are either blown up or captured.

As Aubrey reflects once the news reaches him, it’s now 7-to-1 in favor of the French in terms of warships. Never tell him the odds!

Rama, based on La fin d’un Empire - Les derniers jours de l’Isle de France et de l’Isle Bonaparte 1809-1810, by Roger Lepelley, ed. Economica, 2000.
Wikimedia Commons





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