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French accounts.


1805. the action. Several of the british captains also un

derstood that to be the nature of the message deliJuly

vered to them by lieutenant Nicholson, just as he was quitting the fleet for England.

The french official accounts, really dictated by the french emperor, but purporting to be the statement of the french commander in chief, claimed the victory as theirs, and boasted that the combined fleet had repeatedly chased the_british fleet, and at length compelled it to fly. These accounts, translated into English, and published in all the newspapers of the country, rivetted the effect produced by the admiralty bulletin, and spread far and wide

that spirit of discontent, which finally compelled sir Court- Robert Calder to demand a court-martial upon his uponsir conduct. That court-martial, which sat on board the Robert Prince-of-Wales, in Portsmouth barbour, from the

23d to the 26th of December,“severely reprimanded” the british admiral, for not having done his utmost to renew the engagement on the 23 and 24th of July; but the sentence admitted, that his conduct had not been actuated either by cowardice or disaffection. The preceding details, now for the first time so fully given to the public, will enable even a landman to form some opinion of the justice of the sentence pronounced upon sir Robert Calder.

The following remarks of an eminent french pin?so-writer will show what he thought, as well of that of the sentence, as of the “ victory” which M. Villeneuve,

by his master's arts, had been made to say that he had gained over the British. Admiral' Calder," says M. Dupin, “ with an inferior force, meets the franco-spanish fleet: in the chase of it, he brings on a partial engagement, and captures two ships. He is tried and reprimanded, because it is believed that, had he renewed the action, he would have obtained a more decisive victory. What would they have done with Calder, in England, if he had commanded the superior feet, and had lost two ships, in avoid

M. Du



ing an engagement which presented so favourable 1sos. a chance to skill and valour ? What would they July. have done with the captains ?"*

We stated, a page or two back, that the french official accounts of the meeting between M. Villeneuve and sir Robert Calder were dictated by the french emperor. As this is a very serious charge we shall endeavour to substantiate it. The Moniteur pub

Napolished two letters, as from admiral Villeneuve, leon's giving an account of the action ; one dated July 27, in the paper of August 11; the other dated July 29, in the in the paper of August 14. Both letters, of course, tear. make a good story; and both commend (the last, in set terms) the noble behaviour of admiral Gravina and the spanish ships. And yet a letter from Napoléon to his minister of marine, dated on the 13th of August, contains these sentences : “ De quoi donc se plaint Villeneuve de la part des Espagnols? Ils se sont battus comme des lions.”+ Hence, the commendations in the published letters were not the sentiments of the nominal writer; nor, by a fair inference, could any of the mistatements in those letters be laid to the charge of M. Villeneuve. But the Moniteur of August 13 contained, along with a translation of sir Robert Calder's letter, very copious remarks upon every part of it. And Napoléon, in his letter to M. Decres of August 11, after observing upon the statements in the british official account, proceeds thus: “ L'arrivée de Villeneuve à la Corogne fera tomber ces gasconnades, et, aux yeux de l'Europe, nous donnera l'air de la victoire : cela est beaucoup Faites sur-le-champ une relation, et envoyez-la à M. Maret : voici comme je la conçois.I All that follows M. le comte Dumas has left blank. Enough, however, remains to show who penned the remarks in the Moniteur; and yet these very remarks, without, apparently, their real origin being

For the original see Appendix, No. 4. + Précis des Evénemens, tome xii. p. 251. Ibid. p. 243.

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1805, suspected, were translated into most of the London
July. journals.

On the 31st of July, after having been escorted
Arrival by the fleet beyond the probable reach of the Roche-
prizes fort squadron, the two prizes anchored in Plymouth
at Ply- Sound. The San-Rafaël was built at Hayana in the

year 1771, measured 2130 tons english, and mounted
on her first and second decks the same nominal force
as the french 80, No. 3, in the small table at p. 78 of
the first volume, upon her quarterdeck and fore-
castle 10 long 8-pounders (two of them brass) and
10 carronades, 36-pounders, and upon

24-pounder carronades, total 88 guns ; with a com-
plement, on the morning of the action, of 800 men
and boys, and 104 soldier-passengers. The Firme
was built at Cadiz in the year 1754, and measured
1805 tons. Neither the San Rafaël nor the Firme, as
a proof how little their destruction would have been
felt, was ever employed in the british service except
as a prison-ship.

When, at 8 P. M. on the 26th, he had seen his
prizes to the prescribed latitude, sir Robert Calder,
with his 14 sail of the line, wore and stood back to the
rendezvous off Cape Finisterre, in the expectation
of there being joined by the fleet under lord Nelson.
On the 27th, at a little before noon, the wind changed
to the north-west, and the vice-admiral shortly after-
wards reached the rendezvous. Not finding lord
Nelson there, sir Robert, with the wind at west,
steered for Ferrol; and, arriving off that port on the
29th, sent in the Dragon to reconnoitre. On a

report from the latter, that the combined fleet had Robert not entered Ferrol, sir Robert concluded that M. off Fer- Villeneuve had proceeded to the southward, and he

resumed the blockade of the port.

On the 31st the vice-admiral sent the Malta to England to get refitted. Taking due advantage of this circumstance, one of the french writers gravely asserts, that almost every ship of admiral Calder's fleet was obliged to return to an english port to get

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Calder blown

his station.

repaired ;* and Napoléon, as soon as he learnt that 1805. the Windsor-Castle and Malta had been ordered

July home, directed his minister of marine, in his letter of condolence to the prince of peace on the loss of the San-Rafaël and Firme, to acquaint the latter, " que deux vaisseaux ennemis sont arrivés coulant bas à Plymouth.”+ Respecting these two

“ sinking” ships, the Windsor-Castle did not enter the harbour of Plymouth, but refitted herself in Cawsand bay, and in three weeks was again at sea; and the Malta would have been only half that time in port, bad she not required to be newly coppered.

On the 1st of August, in the forenoon, sir Robert Aug. Calder was driven by a strong south-westerly wind Sir R. far to the north-east of his port. On the 2d, at noon, agreeably to his orders from admiral Córn-from wallis, the vice-admiral detached, to resume the blockade of the now vacant port of Rochefort, rearadmiral Stirling, with four sail of the line ; and, on the same evening, with his remaining nine sail, regained his station off Ferrol. On the 10th, at 3 P. M., the Dragon reconnoitred, in a very gallant and effec- Dratual manner, the neighbouring ports of Ferrol and gondisCorunna, and found lying at the entrance of the lat-comter harbour M. Villeneuve's fleet; making, with the hinged ships at anchor in the harbour of Ferrol, 29 french Ferrol and spanish sail of the line, ready for sea. state of things, sir Robert, with his nine sail of the line, abandoned the blockade, and on the 14th joined admiral Cornwallis off Ushant.

It has already on more than one occasion appeared, that M. Villeneuve's primary destination, after quitting the West Indies, was the harbour of Ferrol; there to effect a junction with the rear-admirals Grandallana and Gourdon and their respective squadrons. Accordingly, after losing sight of the british fleet on the evening of the 24th, the com- July. bined fleet steered as direct a course for Ferrol as

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xvi. p. 144. + Précis des Evénemens, tome xii. p. 246.

In this and Co



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1805. the prevailing north-east wind would permit. M.
July. Villeneuve, no doubt, soon found that the masts

and yards of many of his ships were not in a state to
Ville- withstand a strong head or beating wind and a heavy
anchors sea : moreover, it became necessary that the sick
in Vigo and wounded should be landed as early as possible,

Under these circumstances, the french admiral acted
wisely in bearing up for the bay of Vigo; where, on
the evening of the 26th, he came to an anchor with
his fleet.

In Napoléon's instructions to vice-admiral Ville-
latest neuve, of May 8, was contained an alternative that,

if by events in America, or in the course of his
tionsto homeward voyage, the latter should find himself in
Ville- a situation not immediately to appear before Brest

or enter the Channel, he was to order away upon
a cruise rear-admiral Gourdon's squadron, accom-
panied by three or four of the fastest sailing ships
out of the squadron of vice-admiral Grandallana;
and that then, joining himself to the remainder of the
latter's ships, and to the Rochefort squadron, he was
to proceed off Cadiz, and enable the squadron from
Carthagena to enter that port. With his powerful
fleet, M. Villeneuve was next to occupy the Straits
of Gibraltar, strip the road of its shipping, and a
feasible plan, indeed!) the town of its stores and
provisions. Having effected all this, he was to steer
for the Channel, and endeavour to perform the last,
and in Napoléon's estimation the only important,
article in his instructions. *

The first step taken by M, Villeneuve on reaching
ter's Vigo, was to despatch a courier to Ferrol, as well to
ceed- apprize the two rear-admirals of his arrival, as to be
inges at put in possession of any fresh instructions which

they might have to communicate. Meanwhile the
french admiral proceeded to disembark his sick and
wounded, also the prisoners made on the voyage.
M. Villeneuve then took on board a supply of water,
and, as may be supposed, (for it is not acknow-
* Précis des Evénemens, tome xi. p. 254.


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