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


The hurricane-battered squadron limps back to Cape Town to lick its wounds and repair its ships. They receive reinforcements in the meantime, although of course the French can also recover and rebuild a little in the meantime. One of the reinforcements is a familiar face, old Thomas Pullings, who has his first command of a personnel carrier.

Pullings’ ship is, however, sacrificed as part of the landing at Réunion, with a three-pronged land attack securing the island for good this time and installing a British governor. Maturin’s propaganda work in the field helped new lords settle quickly and smoothly once the French surrendered.


Taking Mauritius will prove far more troublesome, however, and here we come to the Battle of Grand Port, which in real life was the greatest defeat suffered by the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The Wiki is already an interesting read, and the new version is just as disastrous. Aubrey himself is spared ignominy as he is with the Reunion flagship, and instead it is Captains Pym and Clonfert who take the initiative and center stage and thus manage to engineer this defeat – the last coming out horribly injured and the first as a horrible idiot.

After capturing the key fortification at the mouth of Grand Harbour, it seems they have laid the perfect trap. And of course, here are the French frigates back from their last raid. Clonfert lures them into the channel and opens fire, but his men’s lack of discipline causes them to miss their chance to destroy one of the French ships. Captain Pym still orders the team to hunt, but in the tricky local conditions of reefs and shoals, several run aground while others cannot get into position. They are practically sitting ducks for the now revamped French. A small British boat escapes (with Maturin on board, who was the politician), the others are either destroyed or captured.

As Aubrey thinks 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, from The end of an Empire – The last days of Isle de France and Isle Bonaparte 1809-1810, by Roger Lepelley, ed. Economica, 2000.
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