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ledged,) commenced refitting his ships. The French, 1805. indeed, were sedulous in concealing the state of July, their ships ; but the Spaniards on shore gave out, Visible that the Terrible, America, and Espana, the two damage last especially, were considerably damaged; and a high neutral merchant master, who rowed round the ships ships. in the harbour, declared, that the larboard or engaged side of the Atlas was like a riddle, and that, in the hulls of the two last-named spanish ships, innumerable shot-holes were visible.
On the 29th or 30th the courier returned, if not m. with any additional instructions, with the important intelligence, that on the 28th, the day of his de- deparparture, no british ships were in sight from Ferrol ture or Corunna. No time was to be lost. Accordingly, arrival on the 30th of July, leaving behind him the America, at CoEspana, and Atlas, not because they, or any one of them, had been so battered in the action of the 22d as to render them, for the present, ineffective ships, but simply because they were “slow sailers” and might "delay the progress of the fleet,” M. Villeneuve, with 13 french and two spanish sail of the line, seven frigates, and two brigs, got under way, and steered for Corunna; with a wind, as blowing from west-south-west, so fair, and at the same time so strong, that even a slow sailing merchantman, much more a slow sailing man of war, would have found no difficulty in keeping company.
On the evening of the very day, the 1st of August, on the morning Aug. of which the british fleet, which had so recently arrived off the port, was driven from its station, the combined fleet entered Corunna.
Learning, while at this anchorage, that the Rochefort squadron was at sea in search of him, M. Villeneuve, on the 5th, despatched the Didon frigate to endeavour to find M. Allemand, and enable him to join. On the 9th the combined fleet, the french part of which consisted, besides the whole of the ships His denamed at p.4 except the Atlas, of the 74s Argo- for naute, Duguay-Trouin, Fougueux, Héros, and Re- Cadiz.
1805, doutable, and the spanish part, of the Principe-de
Asturias, three-decker, 80s Argonauta and Neptuno,
With respect to M. Villeneuve's real destination
his 34 sail of the line straight to the British Channel.
quitted her and bore up for the combined fleet. At
About half an hour before the combined fleet lost
ward, the british 74 gun-ship Dragon, accompanied by 1605, the 36-gun frigate Phoenix, captain Thomas Baker, Aug. having in tow her prize the late french frigate Didon, Chase both much disabled, hove in sight to-leeward. One of of the the french advanced frigates was then speaking a danish ship, from Lisbon to the Baltic, which had that Phemorning been boarded by the Dragon, and by the lat- Didon. ter been informed, that 25 british sail of the line were near her. On gaining this important information from the dane, the effect of which the Dragon took care to cessful strengthen by firing guns and hoisting signals, the french frigate made several signals, and then tacked tised by
Dragon towards her fleet; which, when last seen by the Dragon, at about sunset, was steering north-west. Shortly after this, it is believed, M. Villeneuve altered his course and steered to the southward. That M. Villeneuve first steered a north-west, and then a south course, is indeed admitted by a french writer. “Il mit à la voile le 13 par un bon vent d'est, n'ayant en vue aucune force ennemie ; il fit d'abord route au nord-ouest, et changeant tout à coup
de direction, il mit le cap au sud, longea hors de vue la côte de Portugal, attéra six jours après sur le Cap Saint-Vincent, où il s'empara de quelques bâtimens marchands, et entra à Cadix le 21 août, le jour même qu'il était attendu à Brest."* The dates in this account are wrong: those given by us have their correctness proved by the rôles d’équipage of several of the ships belonging to M. Villeneuve's fleet.
Keeping out of sight of the portuguese coast, the combined fleet, on the 18th, arrived off Cape St.Vincent, and there captured and burnt three merchantmen, bound from Gibraltar to Lisbon, under convoy ofthe british 16-gun brig-sloop Halcyon, which vessel, however, managed to effect her escape. On the 20th, at 10 A. M., Cadiz bearing north-east distant about nine leagues, the combined fleet, steering southeast, with the wind at west-south-west, discovered
* Précis des Evénemens, tome xii. p.71.
1805. three british sail of the line right ahead. At 1 P. M.
the latter, which were the 98-gun ship Dreadnought,
Rotheram, and 74s Colossus and Achille, captains Clase James Nicholl Morris and Richard King, tacked to adm.reconnoitre.
On this, the advanced ships of the Colliag combined fleet, which had shortened sail, chased from away the British to the southward; and at 3 P. M. off Ca- M. Villeneuve and his whole fleet bore up for the
harbour of Cadiz. At midnight, having been joined val of by the 74-gun ship Mars, captain George Duff, from leneuve Tangier bay, vice-admiral "Collingwood, with his in that four sail of the line, tacked in-shore, and, before port.
daylight on the 21st, gallantly resumed his station
As soon as he was apprized of the battle between
directed his minister of marine to impress upon the Buona latter, how highly dishonourable it would be to the parte's
imperial fleets, that a three hours' skirmish, and an marks action with 14 (a singular admission for Buonaparte sir Ro- to make) sail of the line, “ qu'une échauffourée de
trois heures et un engagement avec quatorze vaisder's seaux,” should defeat the grand plan. For some
days after M. Villeneuve had sailed from Ferrol,
auf den 1 the fra a previa
directs that, if less than 23 of the latter are 1805. before Ferrol, M. Villeneuve is to sail out and attack them; and that, if Allemand joins with his five, making “35 sail of the line,” he is not to be stopped by less than 29 english sail of the line. M, Villeneuve, in short, is always to attack, when III
compli he is superior in numbers, counting two spanish ment ships for one, ne comptant deux vaisseaux espa- to the gnols que pour un,” and making some allowance for niards. the three-deckers in the british fleet. This was paying a sorry compliment to the Spaniards, and is hardly reconcilable with Napoléon's declaration, made in another letter, of the same date, (August 13,) and equally meant to be private, that the Spaniards had “fought like lions."* Finally, the french admiral is to save the imperial flag from the shame of being blockaded at Ferrol by an inferior force; that is, he is to save 18 french, and “ 12” spanish sail of the line, 30 in all, from the shame of being blockaded by less than 24 british sail of the line, the number which, in Napoléon's estimation, equalizes the two forces.t The same letter authorizes M. Villeneuve, if he should think fit, to man the frigates Guerrière and Revanche, lying at Corunna, with the officers and crew of the Atlas, left at Vigo. He is also at liberty to disembark all his troops, except as many as he thinks will be serviceable on board the fleet.
On some day between the 22d of August and the Napo4th of September, Napoléon first became apprized of the franco-spanish fleet's arrival at Cadiz. If he hearhad previously condemned M. Villeneuve because, Vilein spite of wind and weather, he did not sail from neuve's Ferrol, what must he have thought of the latter, in Canow that, instead of going straight to Brest, he had diz. suddenly changed his route and sailed for Cadiz ? Some of Napoléon's expressions are very severe. “ Villeneuve,” he says,
,” he says, “est un de ces hommes qui ont plutôt besoin d'éperon que de bride.” Again, he
See # Précis des Evénemens, tome xii. pp. 246, 249, 250, 254.