Contents

Next Page

Previous Page
 
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and French Fleets 304

p.m. Admiral Cornwallis rejoined the fleet ; and, having made known his intention to attack the French fleet at its anchorage early the next morning, anchored at 7 p.m. for the night, a short distance to the southward of the outer Black Rock ; which then bore from the Ville-de-Paris north half-east, St.-Mathieu's lighthouse east-north-east, and the Bee du Raz south half east.

On the 22d, at 4 h. 30 in. a.m., the British fleet weighed, and, with the weather hazy and the wind still at north by east, stood in on the larboard tack for Camaret bay, in close order of battle ; the Ville-de-Paris leading, and next to her the 80-gun ship Cæsar, Captain Sir Richard John Strachan, and 74-gun ship Montagu, Captain Robert Waller Otway. At 6 h. 30 m. a.m., the Porquelle rock being close ahead, the ships of the fleet tacked in succession. On the haze clearing away a little, the French fleet was seen at anchor ; but at 8 a.m. the ships of the latter began getting under way. In 20 minutes afterwards the British ships tacked in succession, and again stood in under easy sail. At 9 a.m. the Indefatigable, being ahead, stood towards the French 80-gun ship Alexandre, Rear-admiral Willaumez, who was leading the French fleet, then standing out in line of battle. At 9 h. 30 m. the Alexandre fired a broadside at the Indefatigable, but without effect, and was answered by the latter's maindeck guns, the distance being too great for the carronades. On this the Indefatigable tacked, and the Ville-de-Paris and ships in her train made sail towards the French fleet ; but the latter presently tacked for the harbour's mouth, as if to avoid an engagement. At 10 h. 45 m. a.m. the Cæsar and Montagu hauled out of the line to attack the Alexandre, who, with the Foudroyant and Impétueux, formed the rear of the French line. This, at about 11 A.M., brought on a fire from the batteries, which the Ville-de-Paris, Cæsar, and Montagu returned, the three rearmost French ships already named, and the Valeureuse and Volontaire frigates also taking part in it. At 11 h. 30 m., the west point of Bertheaume bearing north half-east distant one mile and a half, the British fleet wore and stood out in order of battle, the batteries keeping up, until a quarter past noon, a constant fire of shot and shells.

The damage done to the British van, principally by the batteries, proved how well the latter were calculated to protect the French fleet at its new anchorage. On board the Ville-de-Paris one shell struck the spare anchor, and burst into innumerable pieces, which flew in all directions. A piece, weighing about a pound and a half, struck Admiral Cornwallis on the breast, but, being entirely spent, did not hurt him. A second piece struck and slightly wounded one of the midshipmen. No other person, it is believed, was hurt ; but the ship had her hull struck in several places, and her rigging and sails a great deal cut. The Cæsar and Montagu both suffered in their rigging and sails; the

^ back to top ^