The decision by Sir John Jervis, Lord St. Vincent, to send a lowly lieutenant, Charles Cockburn to Sir Horatio Nelson to be available as a russian-speaking envoy to the fleet of Tsar Nicholas; had repercussions that no-one could have anticipated.
To facilitate his mission, Cockburn was given command of a small, fourteen-gun, single-masted cutter; his first independent command.
He caught up with Nelson immediately after the Battle of the NIle and was delegated to represent him in his desire to bring the russian and turkish fleets to help expel Bonaparte and his army from Egypt.
Corfu and the other, French held, Ionian Islands had to be captured before the Russians were free to help. Cockburn resolved to help speed this along and began an aggressive reconnaissance of the islands, being aided by Welbeloved, a turkish-speaking American loyalist adventurer who came aboard at Rhodes.
The Ionian adventure ended with a sea battle and the capture of a French brig-sloop of twenty guns together with his promotion into her as Master and Commander, with Welbeloved as his first lieutenant.
Author: Geoffrey Watson
Title: A Small Bird Of Prey
First Published by:
Date: 13 June 2013