Captains Edward Thornborough and Albemarle Bertie, and the Standard 64, Captain Joseph Ellison, in order that the British fleet might be more upon an equality with the French fleet, according to the account of its numbers, as first represented by the Arethusa, and since communicated to the admiral by the commodore's despatch-vessel.
Lord Bridport, with his 14 sail of the line exclusive of the three in sight in the north-west and endeavouring to join him, kept between the expedition and the French fleet, composed, it will be recollected, of 12 sail of the line ; but he was prevented, by a sudden change in the wind, from gaining a sight of the latter until 3 h. 30 m. a.m. on the 22d, as has already been stated. At this time the British fleet was in latitude 47° 4' north, longitude 4° 16' west, Belle-Isle bearing east by north half-north, distant about 14 leagues, standing upon the starboard tack, with a light air of wind from about south by east.
Finding that the French admiral, by his manoeuvres, had no intention to offer battle, Lord Bridport, at 6 h. 30 m. a.m. directed, by signal, the Sans-Pariel, Orion, Colossus, Irresistible, Valiant, and Russel, as being the best sailing ships, to chase ; and at 6 h. 45 m. p.m. signalled the whole fleet to do the same. Every sail that could be carried on a wind was now set on all the ships ; and at noon the centre of the French fleet, then standing in for the land, bore east-south-east, distant about 12 miles. During the afternoon it became nearly calm, but the little wind there was had drawn rather more aft.
At 7 p.m. the British admiral made the signal to harass the enemy's rear, and at 7 h. 25 m. p.m. to engage as the ships came up, and to take stations for mutual support. By sunset the British fleet, notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, had advanced considerably upon that of the French. At about 10 h. 30 m. p.m. the ships were all taken aback, and soon afterwards it again fell nearly calm. At 3 a.m. on the 23d, however, a fine light breeze sprang up from the south-west by south ; and, with the daylight, appeared the French fleet, right ahead, all in a cluster, except three or four ships, the rearmost of which was a long way astern of her companions, and at no greater distance from the van of the British fleet than three miles.
At this time the British ships were very much scattered, and all astern of the Queen-Charlotte, except the Irresistible, who, was within hail on her larboard bow. The Queen-Charlotte had attained this advanced, and for a three-decker rather extraordinary, station in the chase, by the nicest attention in trimming her sails, so as to meet the light and variable airs of the preceding night, and by constantly keeping her head in the direction of the enemy. The ships which, besides the Irresistible, were the nearest to the Queen-Charlotte, were the Orion, Sans-Pareil, Colossus, and Russel.
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