May Rear-admiral Jean-Gaspar Vence, with three 74s and six or seven frigates, was detached to the southward, to escort a convoy of coasters from Bordeaux.
On the 30th of May the following squadron sailed from Spithead on a cruise off Ushant:
On the 8th of June, at 10 a.m., the squadron made the land about the Penmarcks ; and at 10 h. 30 m. a.m. the Triumph threw out the signal for six sail east by north. These, and the other vessels seen about the same time, composed the squadron of Rear-admiral Vence ; who, with a numerous convoy in charge, was on his return to Brest. Having lain to until he discovered that the vessels in chase of him were enemy's cruiser, the French admiral, at about noon, stood away for Belle-Isle, under a press of sail.
At 2 p.m. the Kingfisher, Phaëton, and Triumph, then considerably ahead of their companions, one of whom, the Brunswick, was hull-down astern, commenced firing at the enemy ; but, finding it impossible for the rest of the squadron to arrive up in time to prevent the French from getting under the island, within the south-most point of which the leading British ships then were, the vice-admiral made the signal to close. At 4 p.m. two French frigates were chased in the south-west, one with a large ship in tow, which she abandoned to the British, as they approached : and then the two crowded away to join their admiral, who was about coming to an anchor. Several shots were now interchanged between the batteries of Belle-Isle and the advanced British ships, until the Triumph and Phaëton, shoaling their water, made the signal for danger.
The vice-admiral thereupon recalled his ships from chase, and stood off with eight French vessels, laden with wine and brandy, which the squadron had captured out of a fleet, that was still plying to windward under the land, to gain the anchorage in Palais road. On the next day, the 9th, it was calm until 8 p.m. ; when, a breeze springing up, the British squadron took the prizes in tow, and steered for the Channel. On the 11th, when a few leagues to the southward of Scilly, the vice-admiral ordered the Kingfisher into port with the prizes, and stood back to the southward and eastward, to look after M. Vence and his squadron.
^ back to top ^