The ''Heart'' and ''Dragon''

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The Heart
and the Dragon


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Article by A C Saunders

In July 1649 Captain Collins commanded the Heart and when cruising off the English coast he captured two prizes and put them in charge of prize crews. Unfortunately a large English vessel recaptured the prize and then went in search of the Heart". They soon came in sight of their prey and made preparations to capture her, first by removing all good sails and replacing them with old sails and tarred canvas ; then they carefully covered up their guns with more canvas, towed warps over the stern to check the speed of the vessel and most of the crew went below to await the arrival of the Heart.

Sea battle

The Heart, seeing what appeared to be a very good prize, probably a collier badly armed, came alongside to board her, but at a signal from the captain, the crew of the Dragon left their hiding places and promptly fired 17 cannon at the Jersey vessel. Collins saw that he had caught a tartar and after firing seven guns, turned about his vessel to get away. The "Dragon" pulled in their warps and hoisted all sail and followed the "Heart", which was then some distance away.

For two hours the two vessels fought without any apparent advantage on either side and the master of the "Dragon", seeing that the "Heart" was manoeuvring to get away, was so angry with his gunners that he took charge of one of the guns, and aiming at the "Heart" struck her mainmast and left her helpless. Even then the Jerseymen were not beaten and they repelled all attempts to board her, but Collins saw that with his broken mainmast, it was only a matter of time and determined to make the prize as valueless as possible. He first divided all the prize money he had on board among the crew, and then threw everything of value overboard, including all arms and ammunition.

So that when the crew of the "Dragon" came on board they found themselves in possession of a battered wreck with splintered bulwarks, broken mast and torn sails and nothing of value on board.

Collins and his crew were taken to London and imprisoned in Newgate. Collins evidently had a wife as brave as himself and she determined to get her husband out of prison. She obtained permission of Sir George to barter the exchange of her husband for one of the Parliamentarian captains, then prisoner in Jersey. With this she decided to go over to England and, chartering a French barque for 18 pounds, plus the provisions for the voyage, she was landed at Southampton and made her way to London, and so persuaded the authorities, that, as Chevalier says "Captain Collins' wife did so much in London that she delivered her husband from Newgate prison where he was he was released under promise of sending over Captain Ashe, a parliamentarian who was a prisoner in Jersey."

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