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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Captain William Marcus Courtenay (brother of Henry Courtenay, of Harrymount, County Down, Esq.) - The Naval Chronicle for 1812

Captain William Marcus Courtenay (brother of Henry Courtenay, of Harrymount, County Down, Esq. and nephew to the gallant officer of that name,
who was killed in the year 1798, while commanding the Boston frigate).

From "The Naval Chronicle for 1812." It displays at once great coolness in battle, uncommon presence of mind, and real nautical wit : "In the action of the 1st of June, 1794, Captain Courtenay was serving as master's mate on board the Thunderer, then commanded by the present Admiral Albemarle Bertie, one of the
ill-fated Captains, excluded from the honourary reward of a medal, because, forsooth, no men were killed or wounded on board his ship, although the Thunderer was in the heart of the action, and nobly did her duty. In the midst of the battle, while the Thunderer was warmly engaged, a spent-shot, 24-pounder, lodged in the fore-yard. A sailor, finding the shot loose, slipped off his neck-handkerchief, placed the shot in it, and brought it to Mr. Courtenay, who was then quite busy lighting some of the main-deck guns, The shot was surveyed for a moment by the surrounding tars, and the question of "Who has any chalk?" was answered by one of the carpenter's crew presenting a piece to the master's mate. The words Post Paid were then made legible on the shot ; and it was placed in a gun, and immediately returned to the enemy. It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm, the joy, and the momentary exultation (to the total
exclusion of every other sentiment), that pervaded the whole ship's crew, at this simple but sudden and singular act, the knowledge of which was conveyed
from gun to gun with talismanic powers; those only who have witnessed the heart-thrilling effects of three cheers in battle, as conveyed from ship to ship
in testimony of each other's prowess or good fortune, can appreciate the value of this kind of stimulus."

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