|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Sir James Saumarez at Algeziras
on the subject, not having the advantage of professional knowledge, have fallen into errors natural enough to them, but which prove their incompetency to the task they had undertaken. It has indeed been the misfortune of our service, that its history has generally been written by men, who, however qualified by classical education, have wanted those indispensable requisites which can only be acquired by professional habit, local knowledge, and constant attention: hence it has arisen that many important events connected with the navy have been improperly stated, &c." *
This writer informs us, that the Venerable " was directed by the admiral to anchor between the batteries of Algeziras and Green Island." † Had the " local knowledge " of Captain Hood been of a par with our contemporary's, the Venerable would have bought experience at a dear rate ; but, according to the letter of Sir James Saumarez, although Captain Hood was to lead the squadron, " it was not intended he should anchor " at all, much less anchor where there was less water than his ship drew ; nor, as far as we can learn, was any signal to anchor made until the Cæsar herself was compelled to bring up. The latter ship is represented to have anchored "immediately" after the Audacious; whereas there was an interval of at least 25 minutes. The French, indeed, describe the attacking force as composed of two divisions of three ships each; and so far they are right.
As to the plate given to illustrate the action, it is so full of mistakes, and, in many parts, so totally at variance with the letter-press, that we shall pass it by as unworthy of any further remark. We cannot, however, leave unnoticed the statement, that, " at about twelve o'clock, Captain Ferris hauled down his colours and surrendered; " nor the charge against the Hannibal's captain, conveyed in these words : " Nothing could exceed the decision and intrepidity of Captain Ferris, although the result of his manœuvre was unfortunate : it is, however, due to Sir James Saumarez to state, that the squadron did not withdraw from action until the Hannibal had surrendered. A contrary assertion is made in the narrative of Captain Ferris ; an unaccountable error, proving that the most correct officers may sometimes be deceived, and the more to be lamented in this instance, as bearing the sanction of an official document." ‡
Our complaint against captain Ferris is that his account of the time, which intervened between the " ships driving out of the bay " and the surrender of the Hannibal, is not very clearly expressed. The captain might with propriety have stated, that the Hannibal did not strike her colours until nearly half an hour after Sir James Saumarez, from unavoidable causes undoubtedly,
* Brenton, vol. i., p. vii.
† Ibid., vol. iii., p. 33.
‡ Ibid., vol. iii., p. 35.
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