||Lord Collingwood's General Order||
||Appendix No. 5||386
See p. 8.
From every account received of the enemy, it is expected they may very soon be met with, in their way from Corfu and Tarentum, and success depends on a prompt and immediate attack on them. In order to which it will be necessary, that the greatest care be taken' to keep the closest order ill the respective columns during the night, that the state of the weather will allow, and that the columns be kept at such a sufficient distance apart, as will leave room for tacking or other movements ; so that, in the event of calm or shift of wind, no embarrassment may be caused.
Should the enemy be found formed in order of battle with his whole force, I shall, notwithstanding that, probably not make the signal to form the line of battle, but, keeping the closest order, with the van squadron attack the van of the enemy, while the commander of the lee division takes the proper measures, and makes to the ships of his division the necessary signals, for commencing the action with the enemy's rear, as nearly as possible at the same time that the van begins : to his signals, therefore, the captains of that division will be particularly watchful.
If the squadron has to run to leeward to close with the enemy, the signal will be made to alter the course altogether; the van division keeping a point or two more away than the lee, the latter carrying less sail, and, when the fleet draws near the enemy, both columns are to preserve a line as nearly parallel to the hostile fleet as they can.
In standing up to the enemy from the leeward upon a contrary tack, the lee line is to press sail, so that the leading ship of that line may be two or three points before the beam of the leading ship of the weather line, which will bring them to action nearly at the same period.
The leading ship of the weather column will endeavour to pass through the enemy's line should the weather be such as to make that practicable, at one-fourth from the van, whatever number of ships their line may be composed of. The lee division will pass through at a ship or two astern of their centre, and. whenever a ship has weathered the enemy, it will be found necessary to shorten sail as much as possible, for her second astern to close with her, and to keep away, steering in a line parallel to the enemy's, and engaging their on their weather side.
A movement of this kind may be necessary, but, considering the difficulty of altering the position of the fleet during the time of combat, every endeavour will be made to commence battle with the enemy on the same tack they are ; and I have only to recommend and direct, that they are fought with at the nearest distance possible, in which getting on board of them may be avoided, which is always disadvantageous to us, except when they are flying.
The enemy will probably have a convoy of ships carrying troops, which must be disabled by the frigates or whatever ships are not engaged, or whose signals may be made to attack the convoy, by cutting their masts away and rendering them incapable of escaping during the contest with their fleet.
In fine weather the watch are to bring their hammocks on deck with them in the night, which are to be stowed in the nettings, so that on any sudden discovery of the enemy, they will have only to attend to the duty on deck, while the watch below clear the ship for action.
If any ship is observed by her second ahead to drop astern during the night to a greater distance than her station is, she is to notify it to her by showing two lights, one over the other, lowered clown the stern, so that it may not be seen by ships ahead ; and, should a ship not be able to keep her station, those astern of her are to pass her and occupy the place she should have been in.
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