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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.
1808. belonging to the british navy at the commencement
27 Commanders, or sloop-captains 501
superannuated 49 Lieutenants
A new era was commencing in the navy of France.
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
* See Appendix, No. 4.
The five french sail of the line and one frigate, so
1808. long shut
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
1808, rather beyond the rendezvous, and some delay hav-
England, the squadron did not get its wants supplied
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
The british frigate off the port, which was the
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.
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
S vice-adm. (b.) Ed. Thornborough. 100 Royal-Sovereign..
captain Henry Garrett. 98 Formidable
Charles Rowley. 74 Kent