Excerpted from "The Turnleys - A Brief Record", Chapter XIII, pgs 275 - 278, by Parmenas Taylor Turnley
While serving as Commander of the British warship "Mediator" in December 1782. . .
. . .while waiting off Ferral to intercept an American frigate lying there, there unexpectedly hove in sight a considerable squadron of five or more of the enemy's (American) vessels, heavily armed, and manned by an aggregate of over 600 men.
Luttrell suddenly found himself confronted by a formidable fleet, with but a single vessel to meet it, and without the hope of support or assistance of any kind; he set sail, manned his guns, cleared his decks for action, and immediately bore right down upon the whole flotilla.
As soon as they sighted him and saw his ship standing out towards them, they instantly formed themselves into a regular line of naval battle and prepared to give him and the "Mediator" a warm reception. But Luttrell, nothing daunted at their warlike appearance and the fearful odds against him, continued to bear down upon them with all the speed possible. The moment he was within range he began to pour his solid broadsides into them, and to their surprise and consternation, kept it up, till he soon cut the "Alexandre," one of the largest, off from the main body of them, and compelled her to strike and surrender. And while taking possession of her he frightened and stampeded the others and they scattered and fled for safety.
But just as soon as Luttrell could secure and hold the one he had captured, he at once started, full sail, in hot pursuit of those which had run away, and five hours later overtook another, the "Menagere," and after a fierce and unceasing fight of five hours more had made her a prisoner, too. And notwithstanding he was thereafter encumbered with and guarding two of the largest and most powerful, he kept right on after them, promptly following up his victories, until he ultimately partially dismantled and disabled two more of them and put the balance to a helpless and inglorious flight.
While he was thus engaged and engrossed in the chase after battle with a single craft against so many men-of-war at one time, a desperate and almost fatal attempt was made by his captives to set fire to and burn his own and only vessel, the "Mediator".
But Luttrell proved himself to be a master on the sea, equal to any emergency in naval contest, and thwarted their frenzied designs and successfully brought his gallant ship and his proud prizes safely to England, after having, under the unfavorable circumstances and adverse conditions environing and menacing him, manifested the most daring bravery, exhibited the most expert strategy, displayed the most skilful maneuvering and accomplished the most masterful feat, doubtless, ever performed in all the range and history of naval warfare, and that, too, when only a boy not over and even less than thirty years old.
His gallant and marvelous services on the "Mediator" were the subject of great naval paintings by the celebrated Dodd, and three different views of them, by the renowned Serres, all of which have been engraved and preserved, together with a great portrait of Luttrell himself. His name will be found richly emblazoned on navy lists, on the commission and warrant books in the Public Record Office, in the "Gentlemen's Magazine", in Beatson's "Naval and Military Memoirs," in the "Memoirs of Sir Michael Seymour", and all over the naval annals and archives and the histories of England in the latter half of the eighteenth century.