|Naval history of Great Britain
||Sir Robert Calder's Action
officers killed and wounded, we are constrained to do the same. One ship, the Warrior, escaped with entire impunity ; and the Hero, Agamemnon, Repulse, Raisonable, Glory, and Dragon, lost between them but three men killed and 14 wounded ; nor were the Dragon's four men wounded by the enemy's shot, but by an accidental explosion. No ship had a mast shot away but the Windsor-Castle and Agamemnon, nor a yard except the Ajax.* The loss on board the two prizes was stated to consist of about 600 in killed and wounded ; but a careful comparison of the number of wounded and unwounded prisoners, with the number of men deposed to have been on board each ship at the commencement of the action, has reduced the number considerably. In this amended state, the gross loss sustained by the combined fleet amounts to 476 officers and men killed and wounded. † With respect to damages, the French and Spanish ships did not exhibit many marks in their masts and rigging ; but some of them, undoubtedly, were much hit in the hull. One ship, we believe the Atlas, had the head of her bowsprit shot away; another, her fore yard and fore topgallantmast ; and third, a topsailyard. Had a court-martial on the French, as was the case with the British, commander-in-chief, called for a specific statement of each ship's damage, every wounded topgallantmast and spritsail-yard, every cut rope and shot-graze, would have been formally set forth ; and then, and then only, would a fair opportunity have been afforded, of comparing the relative damage on board the two fleets.
It was extremely natural for the French writers to make the most of the minute statement of damages published along with the proceedings of the court-martial which sat upon Sir Robert Calder ; but they evinced very little candour, when they confronted the whole loss on the British side with a part only of the loss on their side, and then drew from it the inference that their fleet had suffered the least in the action. To have acted impartially, they should have struck out of the British returns the two ships that had sustained the heaviest loss, as a set-off against the two prizes, whose united loss, although the French were unable to enumerate it, they knew amounted to much more than that of any other two, or any four ships in the combined fleet. This would have made the numbers stand thus : British loss in killed and wounded, except of Windsor-Castle and Malta, 108 ; Franco-Spanish loss in killed and wounded, except of San-Rafaël and Firme, 171. But, if we add the loss of the two omitted ships on each side, as given (with respect to the Spanish ships for the first time) in the preceding page, the relative quantum of loss will be more than two to one in favor of the British.
Daybreak on the 23d found the two fleets about 17 miles
* See Appendix, No. 1.
† See Appendix, No. 2.
^ back to top ^