Naval history of Great Britain by William James - Lord Howe's first cruise


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I

1793

British and French Fleets

56

to be at anchor in the road of Belle-Isle; with permission, however, to weigh occasionally, and stand across to the adjacent island of Groix. This was under an idea that England meant to make a descent upon that part of the French coast, in order to favour the cause of the royalists.

The necessity, on the part of England, of despatching squadrons, in the first instance, to the stations at a distance from home, occasioned some time to elapse ere a British fleet could be got ready, of sufficient strength to cope with the French fleet in Quiberon Bay, reinforced as that fleet was likely to be, by ships from the neighbouring depots of Lorient, Rochefort, and Brest. It was not, therefore, until the 14th of July, that Admiral Lord Howe, with the Channel fleet, consisting of 15 ships of the line, besides a few frigates and sloops, set sail from St. Helen's. On the 18th, at 4 p.m., when about 20 leagues to the westward of Scilly, the fleet was taken aback in a squall from the northward, and the Majestic 74, in wearing, fell on board of her second astern, the Bellerophon: by which accident the last-named 74 had the head of her bowsprit, her foremast, and maintopmast carried away; but fortunately none of her crew were hurt. The Ramillies 74 was immediately ordered, by signal, to take the Bellerophon in tow. The former thereupon conducted her disabled companion to Plymouth, and on the 20th rejoined the fleet. On the 22d Lord Howe was joined by the London 98, sent out to replace .the Bellerophon in the line of battle; and on the next day, the 23d, his lordship anchored with the fleet in Torbay.

On the 25th, having the day previous received intelligence, that an American ship had passed through a French fleet, believed to consist of 17 sail of the line, about ten leagues to the westward of Belle-Isle, Lord Howe again put to sea, with the wind at west, and on the same day fell in with the 24-gun ship Eurydice, Captain Francis Cole; who stated, that he had received a similar account from the master of an English privateer, with the addition, that the French were supposed to have stationed themselves off Belle-Isle, to be ready to protect a convoy daily expected from the West Indies. Lord Howe returned off Plymouth Sound, and was there joined by two ships, which he had requested to be sent to him : his force then consisting of the following 17 sail of the line, nine frigates, and five smaller vessels:

Gun-ship.

     

100

(D)

Queen Charlotte

Admiral (w.) Richard Earl Howe. 1
Captain Sir Roger Curtis.  
Captain Hugh Cloberry Christian.  
Captain John Hunter.  
Royal-George Vice-adm. (r.) Sir Alex. Hood, K,B. 3
Captain William Domett.  
 

(E)

Royal-Sovereign Vice-adm. (r.) Thomas Graves. 2
Captain Henry Nichols.  
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