Page images
PDF
EPUB

afterwards the combined fleet wore and stood to the 1805. north-west. A little before daybreak, on the morning of the Mya. 21st, finding that the British were to-windward in- i.euve stead of to-leeward, and that their force, instead of;..." being only 21 sail of the line, was nearly equal to his der of own, the french admiral abandoned his plan of re-..." stricting his line of battle to 21 ships,” and ordered single the three columns composed of the latter, without line. 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- : selves, beginning at the van, or south-east extremity of the line, was, according to a credible french account, F 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 manoeuvre 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 fleet 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.30m. A.M., while the british fleet was lying to about 16 leagues west-south-west

* See p. 41, t See Précis des Evénemens, tomexiii. p. 187. ~~

1805, from Cadiz, that the Mars, who, with the Defence and o. Agamemnon, then formed the cordon of communicariot tion between the Euryalus and Victory, repeated the intima signal, that the enemy was coming out of port. Lord i. * Nelson immediately made sail in chase to the southNelson east, with light and partial breezes, mostly from the .." south-south-west. At 3 P.M. the Colossus repeated . the signal, that the enemy was at sea. Towards {... evening lord Nelson directed that the fleet should observe the motions of the Victory during the night; that the Britannia, Dreadnought, and Prince, being heavy sailers, should take their stations as most convenient to them; and that the Mars, Orion, Belleisle, Leviathan, Bellerophon, and Polyphemus, should proceed ahead, carry a light, and steer for the Straits' mouth. ... On the 20th, at daybreak, the British found themin selves near the entrance of the Straits, but saw no.* thing of the enemy. The fleet thereupon wore, and gom- made sail to the north-west, with a fresh breeze at }..." south-south-west. At 7 A. M. the Phoebe made the signal that the enemy bore north; and by noon the Victory and fleet were to the south-west of Cadiz, and within eight or nine leagues of it, standing to the west-north-west on the larboard tack. At 2 P. M. the fleet was taken aback by a breeze from the west-northwest, and at 4 P. M. wore and again came to on the larboard tack, steering north. At 5 P.M., just after the Euryalus had telegraphed that the enemy apW. determined to go to the westward, the ictory telegraphed, that lord Nelson relied upon captain Blackwood’s keeping sight of the enemy during the might; and the Naiad, shortly afterwards, made the signal of 31 sail of the enemy, bearing north-north-east. At 8 h. 40 m. P. M. the british fleet wore and stood to the south-west; and at 4 A. M. on the 21st the fleetwore again, and steered, under easy ... sail, north by east. At 6A.M., CapeTrafalgar bearing *::::"east by south distant about seven leagues, the Victory of it, and ships with her obtained a sight of the combined 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, anal, (Nos. 72 and 13,) to form the order of sailing in two fleet columns, and to prepare for battle; and in 10 mi- i. 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 com; action 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 ..." 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, . scarcely going, with studding-sails set, three knots of

an hour. While thus gradually nearing the enemy's o 1805, line, lord Nelson, dressed in the same threadbare 04 frock uniform-coat which was his constant wear, have to ing for its appendages, sewed amidst the folds of the Nei left breast, the same four weather-tarnished and ... lack-lustre stars always to be seen there, visited the to the different decks of the Victory; and, addressing the yo. men at their quarters, cautioned them not to fire a crew, single shot without being sure of their object. onsidering that the Victory, both as being the vanship of a column and as bearing the flag of the commander in chief, would draw upon herself the whole ... weight of the enemy's fire, and thereby doubly en#. danger the life of him to whom all looked up for the

* See p. 33.

[ocr errors]

to success of the day, the principal officers present ex:... pressed among themselves a hope that sord Nelson the van might be persuaded to allow the Téméraire, then close astern, to go ahead. Captain Blackwood undertook the delicate task of broaching the matter to the admiral. He did so; and lord Nelson, smiling significantly at captain Hardy, replied: “Oh! yes, let her go ahead;" meaning, if she could. At about 9h. 40 m. A. M. the Téméraire was accordingly hailed,” to take her station ahead of the Victory. At about

the same time lieutenant Robert Yule, who then

commanded upon the forecastle, observing that the lee or starboard lower studding-sail was improperly set, caused it to be taken in for the purpose of setting it afresh. The instant this was done, lord Nelson ran forward, and rated the lieutenant severely for having, as he supposed, begun to shorten sail without the captain's orders. The studding-sail was quickly replaced; and the Victory, as the gallant chief intended, continued to lead the column. Cap-. Shortly after this fruitless attempt to induce lord #. Nelson to yield the post of danger, the oaptains of *he frigates were ordered back to their ships; and cap* 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 lo, appears to have been but indistinctly heard, the oa. 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 so signal had signified, should fall into the ine between the Téméraire and Victory. From the known zeal 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 column 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 a 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.” the signal, (No. 63, with the preparative,) for the . british fleet to prepare to anchor at the close of day. ... This done, no other signal seemed wanting, when, Lord lord Nelson remarked, that he must give the fleet. something by way of a fillip. After musing awhile, cele. he said: “Suppose we telegraph that ‘Nelson ex-o. pects every man to do his duty.’” The officer, whom phi: he was then addressing, suggested whether it would. not be better, “ England expects &c.” Lord Nelson rapturously exclaimed, “Certainly, certainly;” and,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »