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NAVAL HISTORY,

&c.

BRITISH AND FRENCH FLEETS.

The number of line-of-battle ships, in commission 1808. as cruisers at the date of the Abstract for the present year,* has attained an amount not previously equalled, nor subsequently exceeded. This abstract also exhibits, in its larger line total, the greatest number of line-of-battle ships to be found in the same compartment of any other abstract of the series; and among the ships are 19 of that fine class, the N or middling sized 74, exclusive of 16 other ships of the same class, that remained unfinished of those which had been ordered in antecedent years. The number of national prizes, purchased into the service during the year 1807, will be found to be nearly double that of any other year within the limits of this work;t and the casualty-column on the Decrease side displays a total, greater by a trifle than has appeared, or than, probably, will again appear. Of the 38 british vessels so lost, no fewer than 29 foundered at sea or were wrecked; and, unhappily, a great proportion of their crews perished with them.

The number of commissioned officers and masters, Officers

of the navy.

* See Appendix, Annual Abstract No. 15.
† See Appendix, Nos. 1, 2, and 3.
VOL. V.

B

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Exertions of

1808. belonging to the british navy at the commencement
of the year 1808, was,
Admirals

48
Vice-admirals

55
Rear-admirals

58
superannuated 31
Post-captains

700

27 Commanders, or sloop-captains 501

superannuated 49 Lieutenants

2912
Masters

549
And the number of seamen and marines, voted for the
service of the same year, was 130000.*

A new era was commencing in the navy of France.
Napo-

Such had been Napoléon's exertions since the fatal léon to affair of Trafalgar, that the spring of this year saw hikive him possessed of upwards of 80 sail of the line, innavy. cluding_20 recently ordered to be laid down at Ant

werp, Brest, Lorient, Toulon, and other ports. In
Brest a squadron of eight sail of the line and four
frigates was, in the course of the summer, got ready
for sea, and only remained in port because unable
to elude the vigilance of the Channel fleet under
admiral lord Gambier, who, since March, had suc-
ceeded to the command of it. Early in the year,
as will be presently more fully noticed, a french
squadron of six saiỉ of the line sailed from the
road of Isle d'Aix, and large and powerful frigates
were occasionally slipping out of other ports along
the french Channel and Atlantic frontier. Of the
minor parts of France, Cherbourg was fast rising
into importance: the basin there constructing, and
nearly finished, would in a year or two, it was
expected, be capable of holding a fleet of line-of-
battle ships. It had long been a celebrated port for
frigates, and several very fine and powerful ones
had sailed from, and were constructing within it.

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* See Appendix, No. 4.

The five french sail of the line and one frigate, so

1808. long shut

up

in the harbour of Cadiz, met a peculiar fate; a fate that was the opening scene of a most interesting era in the annals of freedom, and of which we shall presently give some account.

The french Mediterranean ports were again be- French coming objects of enticement to british squadrons. force in Toulon, Venice, and even Spezzia, were in full acti- Medivity. In the former port a ship of 120 guns, the Com

nean. merce-de-Paris, and another of 80, the Robuste, had recently been launched; and a new 74, the Genois, had arrived there from Genoa. These, with the Bol'ée and Annibal 74s already in the road, made five sail of the line. There were also three or four lineof-battle-ships on the stocks, two of which, one a three-decker, were nearly ready for launching. At Genoa a 74, the Breslaw, was expected to be launched in the autumn, and one or two others were building at Venice; and, in the language of the Exposé, Spezzia would soon be a second Toulon. To the five french sail of the line already at anchor in the lastnamed port, and which were under the command of vice-admiral Ganteaume, five others were added in the course of the spring. Whence these came we will proceed to relate; but how it happened that they escaped the numerous british cruisers scattered over the ocean is not so easily to be explained.

The british squadron, which, towards the end of Sir the year 1807, was stationed off Rochefort to watch Strathe motions of the french squadron at anchor in Aix chan road, was composed of seven sail of the line under the to quit command of rear-admiral sir Richard John Strachan biss tap in the Cæsar. In order the better to enforce the Rocheblockade, sir Richard anchored bis ships in Basque roads. On the 29th of November, being short of provisions, the squadron weighed and stood to the offing, in the hope of falling in with some victuallers, which sir Richard had appointed to meet him at the distance of 10 or 12 leagues south-west of Roche Bonne. Being driven by strong north-east gales

fort.

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1808, rather beyond the rendezvous, and some delay hav-
Jan. ing occurred in the departure of the victuallers from

England, the squadron did not get its wants supplied
before the 12th of January; nor was it until the
18th that the state of the weather would permit
the Mediator to be cleared, and the provisions
which she had brought out to be divided among

the
ships.

In the interim some important occurrences had happened in the port, the entrance to which sir Richard Strachan's squadron had thus been compelled to leave unguarded. On the 4th of January the french 74-gun ship Patriote, captain Joseph-Hyacinthe-Isidore Khrom, from Chesapeake bay, as re

cently as the 16th of December, had anchored in the Escape road of Isle d'Aix; and on the 17th of January, at 8 french A. M., rear-admiral Allemand, observing that only a aqua frigate and brig cruised off the port, took advantage of a

moderate breeze at north-east by north, and put to sea
with the 120 gun-ship Majestueux, 74 gun-ships Ajax,
(newly launched,) Jemmappes, Lion, Magnanime,
and Suffren, one frigate, and one brig-corvette.

The british frigate off the port, which was the
Phænix, captain Zachary Mudge, lay to about 20
minutes to watch the motions of the french ships;
when, finding that the latter were in chase of her,
she signalled the 18-gun brig-sloop Raleigh, captain
Joseph Ore Masefield, to close, and made all sail
west by north. At 11 A. M. the Phænix lost sight
of the french squadron, and at noon despatched the
Raleigh to England with the intelligence. On the
19th, while in search of sir Richard's squadron, the
frigate fell in with the Attack gun-brig, lieutenant
Thomas Swain, and communicated to her the im-
portant information. On the 20th the Phønix re-
connoitred Isle d'Yeu and discovered lying in the
road one line-of-battle ship, partially rigged, and
three brigs, two of which appeared ready for sea:
she then steered for England, and on the 24th
anchored in Cawsand bay.

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Rich.

It was only on the day previous to the arrival of 1808. the Phænix in England, that the Attack succeeded in Jan. finding sir Richard Strachan; who was then about 50. miles south-west of Chasseron lighthouse, striving his utmost against a strong north-east wind to regain his station. Scarcely had the squadron made sail in the direction of Cape Finisterre ere the wind shifted to the westward, from which quarter it blew a tempest during several successive days. The loss of the Cæsar's main yard was, however, the principal damage sustained by the squadron; and on the Sir 29th sir Richard took as a substitute the main yard sails in of the Donegal, who, being leaky and very short of pursuit provisions, had been ordered to proceed to England. This left with the rear-admiral the gun-ship SO Cæsar

Śrear-ad. (b.) sir R. John Strachan, bt. K. B.

captain Charles Richardson. Spartiate

sir Francis Laforey, bt. Colossus

James Nicoll Morris. 74 Cumberland..

hon. Philip Wodehouse.
Renown

Samuel Jackson.
Superb ......

Thomas Alexander, acting. The squadron was unable to clear the bay until the 1st or 2d of February, when sir Richard crowded sail towards the Straits of Gibraltar, rightly judging that to have been the course steered by the french admiral. On the 4th the rear-admiral spoke sir Richard King's squadron off Ferrol, consisting, along with the Achille, of the 74s Audacious, captain Thomas Le Marchant Gosselyn, and Theseus, captain John Poer Beresford; and on the 9th spoke the fleet of rear-admiral Purvis off Cadiz. On the 10th the squadron passed the rock of Gibraltar, and Anon the 21st, anchored in Palermo bay, there joining chors the

lermo

bay. gun-ship

S vice-adm. (b.) Ed. Thornborough. 100 Royal-Sovereign..

captain Henry Garrett. 98 Formidable

Francis Fayerman.
Eagle

Charles Rowley. 74 Kent

Thomas Rogers.
Thunderer

John Talbot.

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