1795 - Recapture of the Censeur


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I


Recapture of the Censeur


off Cape Sepet on the 8th, saw the French fleet at anchor in Toulon road. The British admiral then stood away to the eastward, having first detached Captain Nelson, in the Agamemnon, with the frigates Inconstant, Meleager, Tartar, and Southampton, 20-gun ship Ariadne, and brig-sloop Speedy, on a cruise along the coast of Italy, for the purpose of co-operating with the Austrian and Sardinian armies in an attempt to expel the republicans from the Genoese territories.

On the 26th, the boats of this squadron, under the personal direction of the commodore, boarded and cut out of the bays of Allassio and Langueglia, in the vicinity of Vado, and then in the possession of a French republican army, two French gun-brigs, the Résolu of ten, and another of six guns, two 5-gun galleys, and five merchant vessels laden with provisions. Captain Nelson also destroyed two other vessels, and performed the whole service without the loss of a man.

After the capture of the Tigre, Formidable, and Alexandre, off Isle Groix, the French government deemed it necessary to restore to the Brest fleet, as many ships from Toulon as had previously been detached thither ; and accordingly, on the 14th of September, Rear-admiral Richery, with the 80-gun ship Victoire, 74s Barras, Jupiter, Berwick, Résolution, and Duquesne, and frigates Embuscade, Félicité and Friponne, put to sea from the road. The orders of M. Richery, it appears, were not to proceed straight to Brest, but to cruise for a few months on the coast of Newfoundland ; and, fortunately for the rear-admiral, no conventional deputy divided with him the command of the squadron.

On the 22d a cartel brought to Admiral Hotham, who two days before had anchored in San-Fiorenzo bay, the first intelligence of the escape of this French squadron from Toulon. On the 5th of October, and not before, Rear-admiral Mann, with a squadron of six sail of the line, composed of the Windsor-Castle 98 (his flag-ship), Cumberland, Defence, Terrible, Audacious, and Saturn, 74s, and frigates Blonde and Castor, was detached in pursuit ; too late, however, to be of any service, as the sequel will show.

On the 25th of September the British 74-gun ships Fortitude, Captain Thomas Taylor, Bedford, Captain Augustus Montgomery, and Censeur (jury-rigged and armed en flute), Captain John Gore, which had been detached from Admiral Hotham's fleet a few weeks before, sailed from Gibraltar for England, with a valuable convoy from the Levant, numbering 63 sail ; and with, for its additional protection, the 44-gun ship Argo, Captain Richard Randell Burgess, 12-pounder 32-gun frigates Juno, Captain Lord Amelius Beauclerk, and Lutine, Captain William Haggitt, and fireship Tisiphone, Captain Joseph Turner.

On the same night, in passing through the gut, the Argo and Juno, with 32 sail of the convoy, parted company. The remaining

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