« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
battle to a
afterwards the combined fleet wore and stood to the 1805. north-west.
Oct. A little before daybreak on the morning of the 21st, finding that the British were to-windward in- leneuve stead of to-leeward, and that their force, instead of changes being only 21 sail of the line, was nearly equal to his der of own, the french admiral abandoned his plan of restricting his line of battle to 21 ships,* and ordered single the three columns composed of the latter, without regard to priority of rank among the ships, to form in close line of battle on the starboard tack, upon the leewardmost division, consisting of the 12 ships in advance under admiral Gravina and rear-admiral Magon, and to steer south-west.
The order, in which the french and spanish ships (the Station latter we have distinguished by italics) ranged them- ships
. selves, beginning at the van, or south-east extremity of the line, was, according to a credible french account,t as follows: Principe-de-Asturias, Achille, San Ildefonso, San-Juan-Nepomuceno, Berwick, Argonauta, Montanez, Argonaute, Swiftsure, Aigle, Bahama, Algésiras, Pluton, Monarca, Fougueux, Santa-Ana, Indomptable, San-Justo, Redoutable, San-Leandro, Neptune, Bucentaure, Santisima-Trinidad, Héros, San-Augustin, San-Francisco-de-Asis, Mont-Blanc, Duguay-Trouin, Formidable, Rayo, Intrépide, Scipion, Neptuno; extending over a space, admitting a cable's length, or 200 yards, to be betwixt each ship, of nearly five miles,
This maneuvre executed, daylight found the two hostile fleets at the distance apart of not more than 10 or 12 miles, and therefore fairly in each other's sight. The centre of the franco-spanish feet at this time bore about east by south of the centre of the british fleet, and the wind was a light breeze from westnorth-west, accompanied by a heavy westerly swell.
It was on the 19th, at 9h.30 m. A.M., while the british fleet was lying to about 16 leagues west-south-west
* See p. 41. † See Précis des Evénemens, tome xiii. p. 187.
tion to lord
1805. from Cadiz, that the Mars, who, with the Defence and Oct. Agamemnon, then formed the cordon of communica
tion between the Euryalus and Victory, repeated the intima- signal, that the enemy was coming out of port. Lord
Nelson immediately made sail in chase to the southNelson east, with light and partial breezes, mostly from the
south-south-west. Åt 3 P. M. the Colossus repeated fleet's the signal, that the enemy was at sea.
evening lord Nelson directed that the fleet should
On the 20th, at daybreak, the British found them
selves near the entrance of the Straits, but saw noquest thing of the enemy. The fleet thereupon wore, and
made sail to the north-west, with a fresh breeze at
east by south distant about seven leagues, the Victory of it. and ships with her obtained a sight of the combined
Obtains a view
fleet, also bearing about east by south, and distant, 1805. as already mentioned, 10 or 12 miles.
At 6 h. 40 m. A. M. the Victory made the signals, British (Nos. 72 and 13,) to form the order of sailing in two fleet columns, and to prepare for battle; and in 10 mi-bears nutes afterwards, the signal No. 76, to bear up. The two cotwo columns of the british fleet accordingly bore up to the eastward under all sail, This prompt mode of attack was that which lord Nelson had previously directed,* in order to avoid the inconvenience and delay of forming a line of battle in the usual manner.
The near approach of the british fleet rendering an Comaction unavoidable, the french admiral, at 8 h. 30 m. A. M., made the signal for his ships to wear together, wears and form the line in close order upon the larboard Balara tack; thereby to bring Cadiz on his lee bow, and tack, to facilitate, if necessary, his escape to that port. It was near 10 A, M. before the manoeuvre was completed; and then, owing to the lightness of the wind, the partial flaws from off the land, the heavy ground swell, and the incapacity or inexperience of some of the captains, the franco-spanish line was very irregularly formed : so much so that, instead of being straight, it was curved or crescent-like; and, instead of the ships being in line ahead, some were to-leeward, others to-windward, of their proper stations. For the most part, indeed, the ships were two, and in a few cases three, deep; thus accidentally presenting more obstacles to the success of the plan of attack decided upon by the british admiral, than if each french and spanish ship had been in the wake of her leader. The ships, generally, were under topsails and topgallantsails, with the main topsail shivering, and lay a point, or rather more, off the wind.
Owing to the lightness of the breeze, the british Slow fleet, after bearing up, made very slow progress, gress scarcely going, with studding-sails set, three knots of an hour. While thus gradually nearing the enemy's feet.
* See p.33,
1805. line, lord Nelson, dressed in the same threadbare
men at their quarters, cautioned them not to fire a
Considering that the Victory, both as being the van-
weight of the enemy's fire, and thereby doubly enfusal to danger the life of him to whom all looked up for the
success of the day, the principal officers present ex: from pressed among themselves a hope that lord Nelson the van. might be persuaded to allow the Téméraire, then
close astern, to go ahead. Captain Blackwood un-
go ahead;" meaning, if she could. At about 9h.
chief intended, continued to lead the column. Cap Shortly after this fruitless attempt to induce lord
Nelson to yield the post of danger, the captains of frigates quit the frigates were ordered back to their ships, and capVictory
tain Blackwood, in his way to the Euryalus, called
* But not, it is believed, as stated in a popular little work," by his lordship.' See Authentic Narrative of the Death of lord Nelson, by William Beatty, M. D. &c. p. 89.
on board the Téméraire, and explained, what 1806, appears to have been but indistinctly heard, the Oct. object of the previous hail. Sometime after quitting the Téméraire, captain Blackwood boarded the Leviathan, then the fifth ship of the weather column, and acquainted her captain, that it was the commander in chief's wish, that the Leviathan, as a previous signal had signified, should fall into the line between the Téméraire and Victory. From the known žeal of captains Harvey and Bayntun no doubt can exist as to the earnestness of their endeavours to reach the honourable stations assigned them; but the Téméraire was unable to do so from the causes already assigned, and the Leviathan did not receive the message by captain Blackwood until the head of the colunin was too near the enemy to render any change proper or even practicable.
The direction in which the combined fleet now lay; with a home-port scarcely seven leagues off on the lee bow, and the evident forging ahead of the ships, whereby that distance was every minute diminishing, induced lord Nelson to steer à trifle more to the northward, and to telegraph his second in command, " I intend to pass through the van of the enemy's line, to prevent him from getting into Cadiz.” The reversed order of that line, in the prevailing state of the wind, had produced another danger to be guarded against : it had brought the shoals of SanPedro and Trafalgar under the lee of both fleets. Signal Accordingly, at 11 h. 30 m. A. m., the Victory made pa prethe signal, (No. 63, with the preparative,) for the for anbritish fleet to prepare to anchor at the close of day. ing.
This done, no other signal seemed wanting, when, Lord lord Nelson remarked, that he must give the fleet Nelsomething by way of a fillip. After musing awhile, celehe said : “ Suppose we telegraph that Nelson ex-telegerapects every man to do his duty.” The officer, whom phic he was then addressing, suggested whether it would mes not be better, “ England expects &c." Lord Nelson rapturously exclaimed, “Certainly, certainly;" and,