Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1799 British and Franco-Spanish Fleets 262

On the 3d, in the afternoon, having arrived close off Toulon, the two advanced ships of the fleet, the Centaur and Montagu, opened a fire upon a brig-corvette and several settees standing into the road, and took possession of four of the latter, which they dismantled and burnt. The French forts fired at the two British 74s, but without effect. From the prisoners intelligence was obtained, that the French fleet, on quitting Toulon, had steered to the eastward ; and to the eastward the British fleet accordingly bent its course. On the 5th, in the afternoon, when the fleet had just crossed the gulf of Fréjus, the British hired armed brig Telegraph, Lieutenant James Alexander Worth, joined company, with intelligence of having, the preceding evening, seen the French fleet at anchor in Vado bay. The British fleet immediately made all sail in that direction. On the 6th the forts on the small islands of Sainte-Marguerète and La-Garoupe, near Antibes, fired at the fleet in passing, particularly at the Espoir brig, who was nearest in shore. The French papers boasted of having dismasted an English ship of the line and frigate ; but it does not appear that any vessel was injured.

On the 8th, Cape Delle-Melle at noon bearing north-north east distant 31 leagues, Lord Keith received three despatch vessels (all within seven or eight hours) from the commander-in-chief at Minorca, containing orders for him, after detaching two 74s as an additional reinforcement to Lord Nelson, to repair to the bay of Rosas, to be ready to intercept the French fleet on its way to join the Spanish fleet in Carthagena. Accordingly, after sending away the Bellerophon and Powerful to Palermo, Lord Keith, with 18 sail of the line, crowded sail to the south-west. It would appear, however, that, instead of steering straight to the bay of Rosas, Lord Keith proceeded towards the south end of Minorca, probably to facilitate a junction with the Ville-de-Paris. On the 12th the British fleet was lying becalmed close off the small island of Ayre. On the 13th, Cape Mola bearing north-east half-east distant five leagues, Lord Keith shifted his flag to the Queen-Charlotte, and Rear-admiral Whitshed to the Barfleur ; and Captains Irwin and Barker followed their respective chiefs. On the 15th, when the fleet was within four miles of Cape Mola, the Ville-de-Paris rejoined, having left Earl St.-Vincent at Port-Mahon, preparing to take his departure for Gibraltar and England.

With his fleet again consisting of 19 sail of the line, Lord Keith, passing round the eastern side of the Minorca, steered to the northward, On the 19th, when about 20 leagues to the southward of Cape Sicie, the advanced division, consisting of the Centaur, Captain, and Bellona 74s, and the Emerald and Santa-Teresa frigates, captured the following French ships, 33 days from Jaffa, bound to Toulon:

^ back to top ^