Vice-admiral Duckworth, with eight ships, in quest of the French squadron, and returned to Cawsand bay with the Caledonia. In his way thither Lord Gambier fell with the Naïad, bearing the intelligence of the arrival of the French squadron in Basque roads ; and on the 3d of March, with five ships of the line, sailed for that station.
On joining Rear-admiral Stopford, his lordship's force became increased to 13 sail of the line ; but, the Defiance and Triumph. shortly afterwards parting company, the following 11 sail only remained
[At this stage I am delighted to advise that I have been provided with a transcript for the following 30 or so pages covering "Lord Gambier At Basque Roads" where the knowledgeable transcriber has corrected a few of the geographical names: as Roger states "James' knowledge of this area, was unsurprisingly, rather sketchy". Roger has also included further information, by way of explanation and included further data from his research : [square brackets have been used to reflect this] and with a view to maintaining the nature of the work as a transcript * I've used the original names (per James), but have included the corrected names in the same square brackets. I am very grateful to Roger. * Although I have to admit to changing the ditto marks used by James for the words they replace! Anything that expands our knowledge and makes this work more useful is always welcome - especially to a learner like myself ;-)]
On the 17th of March Lord Gambier anchored his fleet in Basque roads ; stationing his frigates and smaller vessels about a mile in advance, either towards Isle d'Aix or the town of Rochelle [La Rochelle], according to the direction of the wind. As an additional guard against any attempt upon the fleet by fire-vessels, the ships were to be in constant readiness for action, and for slipping their cables, leaving buoys upon them. Two boats from each ship of the line, with fire-grapnels, were also to be sent every night after sunset on board the advanced frigates, to be ready to tow off the French fire-vessels the instant they approached. Although neither M. Willaumez, nor M. Allemand. his successor, had, as far as we can learn, any idea of resorting to such a mode of attack against the British fleet, Lord Gambier, nearly a week before he began his defensive preparations, had himself suggested to the British admiralty the employment of fire-ships against the French fleet. His lordship's letter to Lord Mulgrave is dated on the 11th of March, and the following is the paragraph on the subject: " The enemy's ship lay very much exposed to the operation of fire-ships : it is a horrible mode of warfare, and the attempt very hazardous, if not desperate ; but we should have plenty of volunteers for the service. * "
The admiralty, however, had anticipated Lord Gambier's
* Minutes of a court-martial on the Right Honourable James Lord Gambier, Admiral of the Blue, &c., p. 114.
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