Henri Paul Hipolito Nicol
was an officer of the French Navy
in the 19th century. Based on the ship Minerva
of the French Oriental Fleet, he deserted when the ship was anchored at Yokohama
harbour, with his friend Eugène Collache
to rally other French officers, led by Jules Brunet
, who had embraced the cause of the Bakufu
in the Boshin War
Nicol was a classmate of Collache as the Ecole Navale
, France's Military Academy, where he had learnt some Japanese.
Nicol participated to the Naval Battle of Miyako
, when three Bakufu warships were dispatched for a surprise attack against Imperial forces. He was on the Kaiten
together with the samurai warriors, the Shinsengumi
. The other ships were the Banryu
and the Takao
. Nicol had been selected for the main attack on the Kaiten
because he was a native of Bordeaux
, and happened to know well about the characteristics and construction of the revolutionary warship Kotetsu
, built in the same city.
To create surprise, the Kaiten
entered Miyako harbour with an American flag, and the Banryu
with a Russian one. They raised the Bakufu flag seconds before boarding the Kotetsu
. The Kotetsu
managed to repel the attack with a Gatling
gun, with huge loss on the attacking side. Nicol was severely wounded in the leg and arm.
The two rebel warships escaped back to Hokkaido however, but the Takao
was pursued and wrecked herself voluntarily.
After the reddition of the Bakufu forces and the end of the conflict, Nicol was sent back to France with the other... Read More