The 2021 Season*
Its July 1813, several French Transport Ships embarked badly needed reinforcements, at Le Havre, for the French army in Spain. They were to be escorted by the Aréthuse (Captain Pierre Bouvet) a 46-gun Frigate recently returned to St Malo from a successful cruise on the West African Coast. The ships were to make rendezvous off the Cherbourg Peninsular, but a sudden storm swept up the Channel driving the ships northwards.
As they were driven through the Straits and into the North Sea the Transports were sighted. One signalled that she knew of a safe anchorage that she could make, in the Crouch Estuary. She made one more signal before vanishing into the driving rain, the Emperor was on board!
Captain Bouvet ordered the remaining Transports to make for Safe Haven in any Port they could reach. Twelve hours passed before he could set course for the Crouch to rescue his Emperor.
As he approached the Essex Coast he came across HMS Amelia. A furious, 4-hour night battle followed. Aréthuse and Amelia disabled each other by shooting at their sails and rigging. Eventually the ships parted, neither able to gain the upper hand.
Badly damaged the Aréthuse limped into the Crouch where she found that the missing Transport had run aground with great loss of life. The surviving troops had taken the village of Althorne, and the nearby small dockyard (in hope of finding boats they could use to get back to France).
Aréthuse limped into the Dockyard where her Carpenters began furiously to repair her damage so that they could embark the surviving troops and depart before the Royal Navy appeared.
A captured local Militia man had told the French Commander that messages had been sent to the Army Training Camp just outside Chelmsford where a large force was enjoying some well-earned leave whilst their Units recruited and trained before departing for Portugal and Spain.
The French force at Althorne prepares to defend the Dockyard to give time for the Aréthuse to be repaired so that the Emperor can escape back to France.
Will the Emperor escape or will he be captured? To find out come along to an NA re-enactment to be held on the 24th and 25th of July 2021 at Crouch Ridge Vineyard which is at Crouch Ridge Estate, Fambridge Road, Althorne, Essex CM3 6BZ (T: 01245 961615 or 01621 450450; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Tickets can be obtained through the Vineyard website at https://crouchridge.com/