|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||British and Franco-Spanish Fleets
had discontinued the action and made sail for Gibraltar. Such was the fact. Not a word is there to contradict it either in the rear-admiral's official letter, or in the Cæsar's log ; but there is ample proof in confirmation of it, as we will now proceed to show. No time whatever, beyond the day of the month, and. that only by inference, appears in the letter of Sir James San Saumarez ; but the log of the Cæsar says: " At 12 h. 30 m. made signal for Hannibal being aground ; " that is, about half an hour, according to our contemporary, after the Hannibal had " surrendered " " At 1 h. 35 m.," says the flag-ship's log, " action ceased; which, be it observed, is even fifteen minutes later than the log of the Audacious dates the same incident: whereas the " Narrative" of Captain Ferris fixes the time of the Hannibal surrender at " nearly two o'clock."
A French account now before us also says: " L'Annibal échoué près du Formidable, essuyant en même temps le feu de la batterie Saint-Jacques et celui du vaisseau françois, amena son pavillon à deux heures du soir." * Of the four logs we have been able to get a sight of, the only one which notices the surrender of the Hannibal is the Venerable's. That says: " At two observed the Hannibal cease firing and hoist the colours reversed." But there is another witness to the truth of Captain Ferris's statement. The Calpé in her log says : " At half-past one, the Hannibal grounded under a very heavy battery, and was much shattered. At 4, she hauled her colours down, which the enemy kept again flying. Sent boats to save the people which were all detained. Standing off and on, ships and forts firing on us. Half-past 6 bore up for the bay, and found the squadron at anchor, and the Cæsar and Pompée in the mole." The mistake in the Calpé's absolute time is of little consequence, provided the relative time corresponds; and that it does tolerably well. It is clear, also, that the squadron had all anchored at Gibraltar when the Calpé returned, and the Cæsar and Pompée, had even gone into the mole. So much, therefore, for the assertion of Captain Brenton, that " the squadron did not withdraw from action until the Hannibal had surrendered ; " as well as for the " unaccountable error " of Captain Ferris in having, in a manner the least offensive that can well be imagined, stated the contrary.
On the following morning, the 7th, Captain Brenton of the Cæsar, was despatched with a flag of truce, to endeavour to negotiate the exchange of Captain Ferris, his officers and men. After some correspondence between Sir James and the French admiral, the latter permitted Captain Ferris, with all his officers and wounded men, to depart on their parole ; and granted the
* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xiv., p. 161.
^ back to top ^