Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dressed to the british commanding officer off the Ta- 1805. gus, stating that the combined fleet, of what force not July. mentioned, had passed Antigua on the 8th of June, and was probably on its way to Europe. On the 22d of July, in the forenoon, that same combined fleet, composed of 20 sail of the line, seven frigates, and two brigs,* besides the recaptured galleon Matilda, made its appearance to-windward, in the manner we shall proceed to relate.

On the morning of the 22d, in latitude 43° 34' north, Sir and longitude 16° 13' west, from Paris, the combined Calder fleet, formed in three divisions, and having a light and M. breeze from west-north-west, was steering, in a thick neuve. fog, east-south-east, a direct course for Ferrol, when, at about 11 A. M., on a sudden clearing up of the weather, the french leading ship, the Indomptable, discovered and signalled lo sail in the north-northeast, approaching on the starboard tack. The frigates sent ahead to reconnoitre, presently augmented the number to 21 sail; namely, 17 british ships, the lugger and cutter, and two danish merchant brigs, one brought to by the Dragon, the other by the Egyptienne. In the mean time the Defiance, the british look-out ship, and who then lay about three leagues to-windward of her fleet, discovered and signalled a strange fleet in the south-west.

At noon, latitude 43° 54' north, longitude (from Greenwich) 11° 38' west, Ferrol east-south-east distant 49, and Cape Finisterre south-east distant 39 leagues, the Prince-of-Wales made the signal to prepare for battle, and in a few minutes afterwards to form the order of sailing in two columns. This was followed by a signal to forin the line ; and, at 1 h. 15 m. P. M., to keep in close order. At 2 h. 15 m. P. M. the latter signal was repeated; and at 3 P. M. the Defiance, having stood on until within less than two miles of the enemy, joined and took her station in the line, the ships of which, when in their places, ranked as follows: Hero, Ajax, Triumph, Barfleur, Agamemnon,

* See vol. iii. p. 493,

Forin

british fleet.

[ocr errors]

Same of combined

[ocr errors]

1805. Windsor-Castle, Defiance, Prince-of-Wales, ReJuly. pulse, Raisonable, Dragon, (then under a press of

sail to-leeward, as soon as she should join,) Glory, ation of Warrior, Thunderer, Malta ; most of the ships with

their topgallantsails set, and all, except the Dragon,
with their courses brailed up, standing, as before, on
the starboard tack.

At about the same time the ships of the combined

fleet formed themselves in line of battle, in the folfleet. lowing order: Argonauta, Terrible, America, Espana,

San-Rafaël, Firme, Pluton, Mont-Blanc, Atlas, Ber-
wick, Neptune, Bucentaure, Formidable, Intrépide,
Scipion, Swiftsure, Indomptable, Aigle, Achille, Al-
gésiras.* At 3 h. 30 m. P. M., after having lain to
awhile, the combined fleet filled, and under topsails,
with topgallantsails rolled up, stood on upon the
larboard tack, rather off the wind, in a close well-
formed line; one frigate ahead, another, the Sirène,
who had just taken the galleon in tow, astern, and
the remaining five frigates, in a second line, to-
windward of the centre and rear. The british fleet
was at this time nearly abeam, and about seven
miles distant; but, owing to the fog, neither fleet was
more than partially in sight of the other.

Since 1 P. M. the Egyptienne and Sirius, then a
short distance to-windward of the Defiance, had
been ordered, by signal, to keep sight of the enemy.
The frigates accordingly made sail to get nearer to
the latter; and the Sirius, the weathermost frigate,
as she passed from van to rear of the combined fleet,
made the signal of the exact number of line-of-battle
ships and smaller vessels composing it. At 3h. 20 m.
P. M. sir Robert Calder made the signal to engage
the enemy; and at 3 h. 22 m., to tack together. At
3 h. 26 m. the same signal was repeated and annulled.
At 3 h. 27 m. a signal was made for the starboard
division to make all possible sail, and steer south-
south-west. At 3 h. 30 m. the same signal was made

* For the names of their several commanders see vol. iii. pp. 468, 474, and 479.

to the Hero, who probably had commenced tacking in 1805. obedience to the signal at 3 h. 22 m. At 3 h. 31 m. July. the signal was made to form the line of battle in open order ; at 3h. 53 m., to alter course one point to starboard; and at 4 h. 21 m., to tack in succession.

The signal to tack in succession appears to have been made by each commander in chief about the same time; but, in the foggy state of the weather, neither fleet saw the commencement of the other's manoeuvre. The British tacked, to prevent their opponents escaping them on the opposite tack; but the Franco-Spaniards, who had hauled close to the wind on getting within about three miles of the british fleet, wore, in consequence of the Sirène, which had the galleon in tow, making signals, by guns fired in quick succession, that the rear was in danger of being cut off.

This was occasioned by the bold approach of the Sirius, who, as soon as she had got sufficiently to- Sirius. windward to fetch into the wake of the combined line, had tacked, with the intention of attempting to carry, by boarding, the great object of the enemy's solicitude. While making the necessary preparation to effect his object, captain Prowse discovered, through the haze on his lee bow, the enemy's vanship, the Argonauta, approaching with the wind nearly abeam. The Sirius herself being now in jeopardy, captain Prowse abandoned his design upon the galleon, and bore up to pass to-leeward of the franco-spanish line. With a forbearance highly honourable to admiral Gravina, the Argonauta passed the british frigate without firing; and so did the Terrible and America. By the time, however, that the Sirius had got abreast of the Espana, which was at about 5 h. 15 m. P. M., the Hero, the british van- Hero. ship, then with royals set, hove in stays. Instantly the spanish ships, all of whom had royals and courses Comset, hoisted their colours and commenced the action; ment of the Argonauta firing her larboard guns at the Hero, action. and the Espana hers at the Sirius, who, in consequence, had two men killed and three wounded.

1805.

At4h.30 m.P. M. the Prince-of-Wales had made the
July. signal to engage the enemy's centre; at 4 h. 45 m.,

to keep in close order; and, at 5h. 9m., to engage the
enemy as closely as possible. At5h. 20m. P.M., which
was about five minutes after she had tacked, the
Hero opened a fire from her starboard guns. The
reason of the Hero's having tacked without a signal
was, that her advanced station had enabled her to
see, what the fog concealed from the ships in her
wake, that the enemy had come round on the star-
board tack. Precisely as the Hero tacked to star-
board, the Windsor-Castle, the sixth british ship from
the van, (the majority of the ships now with royals
and courses set,) tacked to port.

We have chosen
this moment for representing in a diagram the posi-
tion of the two fleets; or rather, of the van and rear
of the combined, and of the ten leading ships of
the british fleet.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Ajax.

At 5 h. 45 m. P. M. the Ajax tacked astern of the
Hero; but, unfortunately for the success of captain
Gardner's gallant manouvre, the Ajax put her helm

up, and bore away to speak the

admiral. On passing 1805. within hail of the Prince-of-Wales, captain Brown July. informed sir Robert Calder of the change of position in the two vans. The Ajax then wore, and fell into the line astern of the Glory; thus making herself, instead of the second, the twelfth ship from the van. At 5h.50m. P. M., by which time the five ships in line between the Ajax and Prince-of-Wales had successively tacked, the latter, as she probably would have done, had the Ajax followed her gallant leader into the thick of the enemy's fire, hoisting the signal to tack in succession, tacked also, and, in a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes, joined in the cannonade, now becoming general and furious. By 6 P. M. all the ships in the british line, except the Dragon, who was still to-leeward working up, had got round on the starboard tack, and the greater part had found opponents in the opposite line ; but, what with the fog and the smoke, no ship could see much beyond her own length.

Owing to the disorder to which this gave rise, some of the ships in both fleets had several opponents upon them at once. On the british side, the Windsor-Castle was a principal sufferer; and the WindAjax, Prince-of-Wales, Thunderer, and Malta, the Castle. last especially, participated in this unequal warfare. Malta. On the part of the combined fleet, the San-Rafaël, Firme, and Espana, having dropped to-leeward, became greatly exposed to the fire of the British. Seeing the situation of the Firme, the latter's second astern, the Pluton, gallantly bore up out of the line, Pluton. and, for a while, covered the spanish ship from the destructive effects of the enemy's fire; but the Firme was too powerfully opposed to profit by the aid afforded her, and the Pluton herself with difficulty regained her station.

The critical situation of the Espana induced captain Cosmão-Kerjulien, a second time, to interpose himself between one of his spanish allies and the british line. In this instance, being assisted by the

,

« AnteriorContinuar »