middle of the Napoleonic era (1805), the French had
captured most of Europe and intended to seize
England, the final piece of the puzzle. In an effort
to protect England from an invading force, the
British Navy was ordered to intercept and destroy
French vessels before they near the shoreline. Among
them, HMS Surprise, received the specific
instructions: "Intercept French Privateer,
Acheron…you will sink, burn, or take her as prize."
Led by Jack Aubrey, the British ship found its
way down to the Brazilian coastline. Ironically,
however, it was the Acheron that took the Brits
by surprise. Outmaneuvered and outgunned,
Surprise suffered significant damage, including
the destruction of her rudder and the loss of
many men. Managed to escape, the courageous
Captain fixed up his battered ship and hunted
down the superior Acheron for a showdown.
The final battle came when Aubrey gambled on
superior seamanship and captured the Acheron.
This achievement of HMS Surprise was unmatched
throughout the world’s naval history.