Attacks on Pirates.
It is impossible to mention one-tenth part of the services performed by our men-of-war in all parts of the world of late years in capturing slavers, destroying pirates, and punishing outrages committed on British subjects. In 1848 an English merchant-vessel, the Three Sisters, was taken possession of by the notorious Riff pirates, and towed close in to the shore on the coast of the Mediterranean, after her master and the crew had fortunately escaped. Commander McCleverty, of the Polyphemus, was at once despatched to retake the brig. On approaching the shore he found a force of 500 men drawn up to defend their prize. The pirates on this daringly opened a hot fire of musketry upon the steamer, which she returned with doses of grape and canister, and quickly dispersed them. The boats, under the command of Lieutenant Allen Gardner, were then sent to bring off the brig, but as they got up to her a gun opened fire on them, and the pirates returning commenced blazing away from behind the rocks at them and the ship, by which Lieutenant Wasey and seven men were wounded. Lieutenant Gardner, notwithstanding, got hold of the brig, and towed her to the Polyphemus, which steamed off with her to sea.
The punishment inflicted on the Riff pirates was soon forgotten, and they continued their depredations on British commerce. In 1851 they captured the brigantine Violet and the schooner Amelia, killing the masters and several men among their crews, while the survivors were carried into slavery. On information of the outrage being received at Gibraltar the Janus, Captain Powell, started immediately to punish the pirates. Both vessels were found total wrecks on shore. The Janus could therefore only retaliate by firing on the piratical boats, which she did, totally destroying the whole of those seen. She afterwards came in sight of another large pirate fleet. The boats were sent on shore to destroy them, but the Riff people collecting in overwhelming numbers, attacked them so furiously that they were compelled to return to the ship, Captain Powell himself and seven men being wounded. The Violet’s crew were, however, liberated.