|Naval history of Great Britain
||Sir Robert Calder's Action
opposite line ; but, what with the fog and the smoke, no ship could see much beyond her own length.
Owing to the disorder to which this gave rise, some of the ships in both fleets had several opponents upon them at once. On the British side, the Windsor-Castle was a principal sufferer; and the Ajax, Prince-of-Wales, Thunderer, and Malta, the last especially, participated in this unequal warfare. On the part of the combined fleet, the San-RafaŽl, Firme, and Espana, having dropped to leeward, became greatly exposed to the fire of the British. Seeing the situation of the Firme, the latter's second astern, the Pluton, gallantly bore up out of the line, and, for a while, covered the Spanish ship from the destructive effects of their enemy's fire ; but the Firme was too powerfully opposed to profit by the aid afforded her, and the Pluton herself with difficulty regained her station.
The critical situation of the Espana induced Captain Cosmao-Kerjulien, a second time, to interpose himself between one of his Spanish allies and the British line. In this instance, being assisted by the Mont-Blanc and Atlas, the Pluton succeeded, and the Espana was rescued. Amidst the derangement of the Franco-Spanish line, the Atlas suffered most severely, and, but for the support of her friends, among whom the Neptune was foremost, would certainly have been captured.
Soon after 8 P.M. the Firme, with the loss of her main and mizen masts, and subsequently of all her masts, struck ; and the San-RafaŽl, with the loss of her main topmast, and subsequently of all her masts also, did not hold out many minutes longer. At 8 h. 25 m., at which time the British ships were disunited and scattered, the body of the combined fleet barely within gun-shot to windward, and the shades of night combining with the fog and smoke to render objects still more indistinct, Sir Robert made the night private signal to discontinue the action. At about 9 P.M. the Windsor-Castle, with her fore topmast gone, passed close to windward of the Prince-of-Wales, and then bore up and was taken in tow by the Dragon ; who, with all her efforts, had not got up in time to take more than a very slight part in the action : indeed, it was nearly 8 P.M. when the Dragon fell into line ahead of the Barfleur, who herself had been unable to get very close to the enemy. The signal to discontinue the action being seen but by few ships, the general firing did not cease until 9 h. 30 m. P.M. The British ships soon afterwards brought too upon the starboard tack, with their heads about south-west by west, and lay by for the night, repairing their damages, in order to be ready to renew the contest on the morrow.
The loss, in gross, sustained by the British fleet, amounted to 39 officers and men killed and 159 wounded ; and, as Sir Robert Calder, in his official return, has, contrary to what is customary, omitted to specify the names or qualities of the
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