1799 - Spanish squadron at the Isle of Aix


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1799 Action in Basque Roads 269

Gun-ship Rear-Adm. (b.) Hon. G. Cran. Berkeley.
74 Mars Captain John Manley.
Venerable Captain Sir William George Fairfax.
Renown Captain Albemarle Bertie.
Ajax Captain Hon. Alex. Inglis Cochrane.
Ramillies Captain Richard Grindall
Robust Captain Herbert Sawyer.

In a few days afterwards the 80-gun ship Sans-Pareil, Captain William Browell, joined this squadron; and on the 1st of July Rear-admiral Charles Morice Pole, arrived from Cawsand bay, in the Royal George, accompanied by the bomb-vessels Sulphur, Explosion, and Volcano, and their tenders, for the purpose of making an immediate attack upon the Spanish squadron. One admiral being deemed sufficient for this purpose, Rear-admiral Berkeley, with the Mars and Ramillies, parted company from the squadron ; which now consisted, besides the five line-of-battle ships, Royal-George, Sans-Pareil, Venerable, Renown, Ajax, and Robust, and the three bomb-vessels, of the 38-gun frigates Boadicea, Captain Richard Goodwin Keats, and Uranie, Captain George Henry Towry, San-Fiorenzo 36, Captain Sir Harry Neale, Unicorn 32, Captain Philip Wilkinson, and 18-gun brig-sloop Sylph, Captain John Chambers White.

On the 2d of July, early in the morning, Rear-admiral Pole, with his squadron, bore up for the Pertuis-d'Antioche ; and, while the five line-of-battle ships, at about 11 a.m., came to an anchor in Basque roads, the frigates, sloop, bomb-vessels, and some cutters, proceeded on towards the isle of Aix, near to which were the Spanish ships, moored in a line ahead, extending from the isle last named towards the Boyart shoal, which runs nearly parallel to the isle of Oleron. For the better protection of the Spanish ships, a floating mortar-battery had been stationed between this island and the Boyart. At nearly the same time that the line-of-battle ships came to in Basque roads, the frigates, sloop, and bomb-vessels were anchored by Captain Keats under the isle of Aix. At noon a fire was opened upon the British vessels at this anchorage from the isles of Oleron and of Aix, the floating battery, and the Spanish admiral's ship. The British bomb-vessels, having taken their stations, commenced throwing their shells. So superior, however, was the range of the French mortars, that, while the shells from these, as well as several of the shots from the floating battery, were flying over the British frigates and bomb-vessels, the shells from the latter all fell short. At 2 p.m. Captain Keats sent the Sylph to the admiral with this information. In the mean time the wind had fallen to nearly a calm ; thus affording, at 3 p.m., an opportunity for several gun-boats, armed with long 36-pounders, (and one of which gun-boats every Spanish line-of-battle ship, by a paragraph in the Moniteur, appears at this time to have had on board), to advance and open a fire upon the bombarding

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