|Naval history of Great Britain
||Sir Robert Calder's Action
leagues off in the east-south-east; but, owing to the distance and to the extreme lightness of the breeze, it was not until 3 h 10 m. P.M. that the advance of the French and Spaniards was noticed by the British. Immediately the ships of the latter hoisted their colours, and hauled closer to the wind, awaiting the expected attack. At 4 P.M., however, the ships of the combined fleet, with colours also hoisted, and then distant about three leagues from their opponents, hauled to the wind on the same tack as the British ships ; thus evidently declining for the present, a renewal of the engagement. For a fact so important, and so utterly at variance with the statement at first given out by the French, some authority may be requisite. "A midi, toute la flotte prit chasse sur 1'ennemi, qu'on estimait à trois lieues et demie : le vent était faible. A quatre heures, on n'avait encore gagné qu'une lieue a l'escadre anglaise; il n'y avait par consequent pas d'espoir de l'atteindre avant la suit, mais on pouvait au moins l'approcher davantage; cependant Villeneuve fit signal a la flotte de serrer le vent, son intention étant de n'attaquer l'ennemi que le lendemain ; ce signal étonna autant qu'il affligea les officiers et les marines ; on previt dès lors qu'on ne parviendrait plus à joindre l'ennemi."*
The British admiral resumed his course to the north-east, but was soon driven from it by a change of wind ; which, commencing about midnight at north, became, by 8 A.M. On the 24th, north-north-east, and occasionally north-west, but it was very moderate, amounting almost to a calm. This brought the combined fleet nearly astern of the British fleet ; which was now to windward, and might, in all probability, have renewed the action. No attempt of the kind was made. Sir Robert, for reasons that will appear presently, continued with his prizes, under easy sail, working towards a British port, steering about south-east by east. The combined fleet had steered the same course as the British fleet until 8 A.M. : the ships then edged away and steered south-east by south. At 4 P.M. one ship only of the Franco-Spanish fleet was in sight of the British fleet, and by 6 P.M. the two fleets had wholly disappeared from each other.
In examining the merits of the affair between Sir Robert Calder and M. Villeneuve, we shall take each day's proceeding by itself. The battle was fought as has already been shown, between 14, or, gratuitously adding the Dragon (for she was not engaged till at the very close), 15 British, and 20 French and Spanish sail of the line. Cases have occurred, where the French have enumerated frigates as a part of the force opposed to them. Here, be it observed there were seven on one side, and two only on the other : those seven frigates had also been ordered, as will hereafter be made manifest, to take a part in the action, and one
* Victoires et Conquetes, tome xvi, p 143
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