ships kept with the commodore until the 7th of October ; when, at about 9 h. 30 m. a.m., Cape St.-Vincent, by account, bearing east half-south distant 48 leagues, a squadron, which proved to be that of Rear-admiral Richery, was descried in the northeast. As soon as the character of the strangers became known, the commodore made the signal for the convoy to disperse, and, with the Bedford, Censeur, and Fortitude, formed the line, determined, if the French meditated an attack, to give them battle, and save as many as possible of the convoy.
At 1 p.m., just as the three ships had formed in line, the Censeur rolled away her fore topmast, and having only a frigate's mainmast, was compelled to drop astern. On observing that the French ships now fast approached, Captain Taylor judged it proper, with the concurrence of his officers and of Captain Montgomery, to bear up. The British immediately did so, the two efficient 74s keeping close together for mutual support.
At 1 h. 50 m. p.m. the leading French ship opened her fire on the Censeur; who, in about five minutes, returned it with spirit, and was assisted occasionally by the stern-chasers of the Fortitude and Bedford : to fire which, they had been obliged to cut down a great part of the stern. Meanwhile the three French frigates, as they came up, brought to the merchant vessels, and the French line-of-battle ships pressed hard upon all five of the English ships of war. At 2 h. 30 m. p.m., having had her two remaining topmasts shot away, and having expended nearly all the small quantity of powder with which she had originally been supplied, the Censeur struck her colours to three of the French 74s. Shortly afterwards the latter commenced firing at the Lutine. The frigate returned their fire smartly, and, in the end, effected her escape ; as did also the Fortitude, Bedford, and Tisiphone.
The 32 merchant vessels, in charge of the Argo and her consort, arrived safe at their destination, but those with Captain Taylor were not so fortunate. Thirty out of 31 sail of them fell into the hands of M. Richery ; who on the 13th, with his squadron, the recaptured Censeur, and his fleet of prizes, entered in triumph the port of Cadiz : where, however, he was compelled to remain longer than suited his wishes, or the interests of his government.
But M. Richery's was not the only squadron which escaped from Toulon in the autumn of 1795. Towards the latter end of September chef de division Honoré Ganteaume, with the Mont-Blanc 74, frigates Junon and Justice of 40, Artémise and Sérieuse of 36, and Badine of 28 guns, and the 16-gun brig-corvette Hasard, sailed from the road on a cruise in the Levant, expressly to intercept, previously to its departure from that sea, the very convoy, which afterwards, by accident as it were, fell into the hands of M. Richery.
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