|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||British and French Fleets - Mediterranean
morning of the 10th, learnt that the French squadron had, 24 hours before, passed into the Mediterranean. On the 13th Sir John, with his squadron, quitted Gibraltar, and steered for Minorca, having previously despatched two frigates to reconnoitre the ports of Carthagena and Toulon; and on the 20th he anchored in the harbour of Port-Mahon. On the 24th, having thoroughly refitted his squadron, Sir John sailed on a cruise ; but, experiencing during the same night a heavy gale of wind, was obliged to put back with several of his ships damaged, and on the 27th reanchored at Mahon.
On the 4th of March the rear-admiral again set sail, but with only five of his squadron, having left the Généreux behind, as some protection in the event of an expected attack upon Minorca by the Spaniards and French. On the 7th Sir John spoke two vessels, who informed him that the King of Naples had concluded an armistice with General Murat. Upon this intelligence the rear-admiral steered for Palermo, to protect the British interests in Sicily, as well as to effect a junction with the 74-gun ship Alexander, Captain Alexander John Ball, and 64 Athénien, Captain Sir Thomas Livingstone. On the 18th, when off the island of Maritimo, the Athénien joined; as on the 22d, off the small island of Calita, did the Alexander.
With his force thus augmented to seven sail of the line, including two 64s, Sir John stood back towards Toulon, to blockade M. Ganteaume in the road; but on the 25th the brig-sloop Salamine, Captain Thomas Briggs, joined from Captain Dixon at Mahon, bringing information that the French admiral, with seven sail of the line, three frigates, and three merchant vessels, had on the morning of the 19th again put to sea. No sooner, in fact, did the first-consul receive the mortifying account, as well of the arrival of M. Ganteaume at Toulon before his mission had been fulfilled, as of the capture of the frigate Africaine, on her way to the coast of Egypt, than he despatched from Paris his aide-de-camp, Gérard Lacuée, with orders that Rear-admiral Ganteaume should sail immediately for Alexandria; and that, should he find the port blockaded by a superior force, he was to disembark the troops at any practicable spot to the westward of Alexandria, between Tripoli and Cape Rasat. With this object in view, Rear-admiral Ganteaume accordingly sailed, but on the same night experienced so heavy a gale of wind, that one of his line-of-battle ships lost her mainmast and put back, some of the other ships were greatly damaged, and one of the merchant vessels, having also parted company, was fallen in with and captured by the British frigate Minerve.
On the 25th at daybreak, when about 14 leagues south-west of the island of Toro, Sir John Warren obtained a distant sight of M. Ganteaume's weather-beaten squadron, counted by the Mercury at 10 sail, being three short of its original number.
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