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 The Battle
The Most Arrogant Man
The Revenge
A Waiting Game
Approach to Contact"Advancing with arogancia"
"So Full of Blood and Courage"
"Like a Logge on the Seas"
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"Like a Logge on the Seas"
by John Barratt

As dawn broke, an uneasy quiet had fallen. Surrounded by enemy ships, Revenge lay "like a logge on the sees". Her masts and superstructure largely destroyed, "and in effect, evened as she was with the water, but the very foundation or bottom of a ship, nothing being left overhead either for flight or defence."

As daylight grew, the survivors of Revenge’s crew, perhaps 80-100 of whom remained able to fight, surveyed their desperate situation. Grenville, barely able to stand, remained defiant. Calling his men together, he "persuaded them, because they had like valiant, resolute men, repulsed so many enemies, they should not now shorten the honour of their nation by prolonging their lives for a few hours or a few days." Saying that the Spaniards "should never glory to have taken one ship of Her Majesty" Grenville ordered his Master Gunner to blow up Revenge. Many of the crew, caught up in the heat of the moment, agreed, but Captain Langhorn and the Master argued that it was their "duty to live to fight again and strike another blow." The Spaniards, they said, would agree to reasonable terms, and Revenge was too seriously damaged to stay afloat for long.

A furious argument broke out. In a commander other than Grenville, it might be suspected that he was engaging in a bluff in order to gain better terms, but there seems little doubt that Sir Richard meant what he said. If his daring bid to escape the Spanish trap had worked, as it so nearly did, he could have looked forward to recognition as one of the greatest of Elizabeth’s naval commanders. Instead he faced the prospect of surrendering the pride of her fleet. Probably knowing himself to be mortally wounded, Grenville had no wish to be remembered for such a humiliation.

Whilst the debate raged, by some means Revenge’s Master managed to make his way by boat under flag of truce to Bazan’s flagship, where he informed the Spanish commander of what Grenville intended. Fearing he would lose still more men and ships in the explosion, Bazan (though he did no admit to it in his official report) offered lenient surrender terms. Revenge’s crew were to be given their freedom, the "better sort" paying a reasonable ransom. When the Master returned, his news tipped the balance of the argument. Though Grenville and the Master Gunner remained obdurate, "divers of our men, fearing Sir Richard’s disposition, stole away on boats which took them to the Spanish ships". The furious Master Gunner had to be forcibly restrained from suicide.

Grenville himself was now semi-conscious, and as the triumphant Spaniards took possession of Revenge, he was taken aboard Bazan’s flagship, San Pablo. Despite medical attention, he died two days later, probably cursing his crew to the last. About 150 of Revenge’s men were casualties, compared with 4-500 Spaniards, who had also lost two ships.

The Spaniards kept to the promised terms. Two of Revenge’s gunners actually took service with the enemy, aboard San Felipe, but the remainder , apart from the Master, who died of his wounds, were home within a few months. Met with a heroes’ welcome, partly because of an inflated propaganda account of the action penned by Sir Walter Raleigh, they were awarded six months’ pay.

The Spaniards worked desperately to save their prize. Renamed La Venganza, Grenville’s ship was stripped of her guns, patched up and re-masted. Bazan hoped to take her triumphantly back to Spain. But it was not to be. Forced to wait a fortnight for the arrival of the treasure flotta, on September 15th, as they set sail for Terceria, the combined Spanish fleets were struck by a violent gale, which continued for several days. "Men who have grown old on the sea declare that they have never seen anything like it.", wrote Bazan, and his crews whispered that it was the vengeance of the dead Sir Richard Grenville, "who sunk into the bottom of the sea, and down into Hell, where he raised up all the devils to revenge his death." In all probably seven of the Indies ships and four or five of Bazan’s smaller ships were lost, with many others, including four of the "Apostles", badly damaged.

But the most famous victim was Revenge herself. Flung ashore on the rocks of Terceria, she broke up with the loss of all but one of those aboard. Sir Richard Grenville would have seen it as the Judgement of God on his enemies.
Copyright 2001 by John Barratt.
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