1794 - Lord Howe on the 1st of June


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I

1794

British and French Fleets

182

that he had not done his best to pass through the enemy's line on the 29th of May, nor taken a proper station for coming to action with the enemy on the 1st of June, dismissed him from the command of the Cæsar.

It is probable that this, as well as some other courts-martial, would have been spontaneously ordered by the Admiralty, but that such a proceeding was considered likely to detract from the éclat of the victory. In our humble opinion, no consideration of that kind ought to have been allowed to check the course of justice. Every officer virtually complained against should have been tried for his conduct : it is not improbable that, although some might have been found guilty, others would have cleared themselves from every shadow of blame.

We must not omit to add, that the corporation of the Trinity House, the merchants at Lloyd's, and the cities of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, with the usual liberality of Britons on such occasions, opened a subscription for the relief of the wounded as well as of the widows and children of those who had fallen in the action ; whereby a considerable fund was raised.

On the 22d of June Rear-admiral Cornwallis, in the Excellent 74, sailed from Plymouth Sound, with a fleet of 12 sail of the line (all 74s but one, a 64), to cruise in the Bay of Biscay, and escort the East India fleet clear of soundings ; and, on the 7th of September, Lord Howe, in the Queen-Charlotte, with a fleet of 34 ships of the line, including the five Portuguese 74s, Vasco-de-Gama, Maria-Primeira, Rainha-de-Portugul, Condé-de-Henrique, and Princessa-de-Biera, sailed from Torbay, and stood over to the coast of France. On the 9th, having arrived off Ushant, the admiral detached the Leviathan, Russel, and two frigates, to look into Brest road ; but, before the ships could put their orders into execution, Lord Howe recalled them, the wind having come too far to the northward to secure their safe return. The British fleet then took its departure from Ushant, and stood down Channel into the track (latitude 49 to 50 north, and about 25 leagues to the westward of Scilly) of the British, as well as the Dutch and Spanish, merchant-convoys ; a few of which latter passed through and obtained the protection of the fleet. After having cruised eight days with pleasant easterly weather, a fresh breeze sprang up from the south-west, and, veering to north-west, with thick weather, set in to blow a very severe gale. A heavy sea arose in consequence, and the ships of the fleet were soon obliged to lie to, under their storm-staysails and close-reefed main topsails. The veteran admiral, however, persevered in keeping the sea until, on the 20th, the Invincible, Ramillies, Tremendous, and Arrogant, severally made the signal of distress. Lord Howe, on this, bore up ; and, shortly after the fleet had wore, the Maria Primeira, Commodore Marie, carried away her bowsprit and foremast. The fleet was immediately brought to on the larboard tack, and the admiral

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