1795 - Serious casualties to the Brest fleet


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


British and French Fleets


second and a much more tremendous gale overtook them. The Neuf-Thermidor (late Jacobin), Scipion, and Superbe, being old ships, foundered. Nearly the whole of the Neuf-Thermidor's crew perished, many of them on account of the fore and main masts falling on the quarterdeck. The crews of the other two ships, except 21 men in the Superbe, were fortunately saved. The latter ship overset before all her people had quitted her. The Neptune ran on shore and was wrecked at Péros a bay about 12 leagues from Brest, between Bréhet and Morlaix. The Téméraire and Convention reached with great difficulty, the one Port-Malo, the other Lorient. The remainder of the fleet returned to Brest on the 1st and 2d days of February, in a very crippled state. The Majestueux three-decker was so leaky, that she could be hardly kept afloat, even at her moorings.

As some slight compensation for these disasters to his fleet, M. Villaret captured and destroyed, during his 34 days' cruise, about 100 sail of enemy's vessels, great and small, including the British 20-gun ship, or, as from her real mounted force the French were warranted in designating her, 30-gun frigate Daphne.

On the 14th of February, after several days' detention in Torbay by a heavy gale at south-east, in which nine of the 36 sail of the line in company parted their cables, but fortunately brought up again, Admiral Earl Howe, although in a state of health that would have justified retirement from the command, put to sea with the Channel fleet, and on the following day was joined, off Plymouth, by the Raisonable 64, Rear-admiral Parker, and the already named five Portuguese line-of-battle ships under Admiral de Valle; * making his lordship's whole force 42 sail of the line, exclusive of about an equal number of frigates and sloops. Having seen the East and West India and other convoys safe out of the Channel, and parted company with the detachments that had been ordered to attend them to their respective destinations ; and having also gained certain intelligence that the French fleet was again in Brest harbour, Lord Howe, with the remainder of his fleet, re-anchored at Spithead.

The moment the Brest fleet, with so serious a reduction of its numbers, had regained their port, the utmost exertions were used, in the first instance, to requip [sic] and reprovision the six sail of the line and frigates intended for Toulon. By great exertion, and not without some difficulty, that was accomplished, and on the 22d of February Rear-admiral Renaudin sailed for his destination, and, as we shall hereafter show, arrived there in safety.

In a week or two after the departure of M. Renaudin, 12 of the remaining ships of the Brest fleet, with the whole of the frigates, were at anchor in the road ready for sea; and early in

See p. 182.

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