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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I

1795

British and French Fleets

254

Vice-admiral Hotham, was riding at anchor in San-Fiorenzo bay (island of Corsica), in a heavy cross swell, the effect of a recent gale of wind, the 74-gun ship Berwick, Captain William Smith, then under refit, with her lower masts stripped of their rigging, rolled all three over the side. The captain, first lieutenant, and master were immediately tried by a court-martial ; and, it appearing that the proper precaution had not been taken in securing the masts, all three officers were dismissed the ship. Having appointed Captain Adam Littlejohn to command the Berwick, and directed him to follow, as soon as he had rigged his ship with jury-masts, Vice-admiral Hotham made sail for Leghorn road ; a step, we must be permitted to pronounce, not quite so prudent, as if the vice-admiral had deferred his departure until the disabled ship was able to accompany the fleet ; a delay which, considering that it was only necessary to place the Berwick in a state to be taken in tow, could not, with the accustomed alacrity of British seamen, have extended much beyond the period of a day.

By great exertions during the winter in repairing the old ships, and in expediting the new 74, the Barras, left on the stocks by the British at their evacuation of the port in December, 1793, the French in Toulon got ready for sea, by the latter end of February, the following fifteen sail of the line:

Gun-ship.

Gun-ship.

Gun-ship.

120

Sans-Culotte.

74

Barras.

74

Guerrier.

80

Ca-Ira.

Censeur.

Heureux.

Tonnant.

Conquérant.

Mercure.

Victoire

Duquesne.

Peuple-Souverain

74

Alcide.

Généreux.

Timoléon.

Frigates, Minerve, Alceste, Artémise, Courageuse, Friponne, and Vestale, and two brig-corvettes.

With the four first-named frigates, and the two 28-gun frigates Badine and Brune, chef de division Perrée, had on the 7th of January returned from a very successful cruise in the Mediterranean. He is represented to have captured a frigate (not from the British, certainly) and two corvettes, forming a part of those taken from Toulon (untrue: the Scout and Speedy brigs were the only British "corvettes" captured in the Mediterranean in the year 1794) ; also 25 merchant-vessels, richly laden, and to have brought into port as many as 600 prisoners.

As soon as intelligence reached Toulon that the British fleet had quitted the shores of Corsica and retired to the road of Leghorn, the utmost exertions were used to get ready the long-meditated expedition for attempting the recovery of that island. The troops, about 5000 in number, being at length embarked in due proportions on board the different ships. On board the Sans-Culotte there was embarked what, in those days, was considered the necessary appendage to a French fleet, a spy, or deputy from the National Convention, and Rear-admiral Martin,

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