1801 - Boats of Jamaica &c. at St.-Valery


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 British and French Fleets 84

zèle pour prêcher cette espèce de croisade contre 1'éternelle ennemie de la France."*

The port of Boulogne was to be the central rendezvous of the grand flotilla; and on the 12th of July Buonaparte issued an order for the assemblage there of nine divisions of gun-vessels, and of the same number of battalions of troops, besides several detachments of artillery to serve the guns on board the flotilla. Of which flotilla Rear-admiral René-Madeleine La Touche-Tréville was appointed the commander-in-chief, with directions to exercise the troops in ship-working, in firing the guns, in boarding, and in getting in and out of the vessels.

These preparations, exaggerated as they were by the French journals, spread no slight degree of alarm on the shores of England, and caused corresponding preparations, in the defensive way, to be made by the British government. Among other measures taken to calm the public mind, was the appointment of Vice-admiral Lord Nelson to the chief command of the defence constructing and collecting along the coast from Orfordness to Beachy Head.

On the 30th of July the vice-admiral hoisted his flag on board the 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Medusa, Captain John Gore, at anchor in the Downs; and on the 3d of August, having under his charge about 30 vessels, great and small, Lord Nelson, by orders from the admiralty, of which Earl St.-Vincent was now at the head, stood across to Boulogne; the port whence, as already stated, the main attempt was to be made, and which the French, informed by their secret intelligence that an attack would be made, had recently been fortifying with great care.

On the 4th the English bomb-vessels threw their shells amidst the French flotilla, consisting of 24 brigs, lugger-rigged flats, and a schooner, moored in a line in front of the town. The effect of the bombardment was, by the English account, the sinking of three flats and a brig, and the driving of several others on shore ; but the French declare that only two gun-boats were slightly damaged, and that not a man was hurt on board the flotilla. Nor did the British sustain any greater loss than one captain of artillery and two seamen wounded by the bursting of a French shell.

On the night of the 15th of August, Lord Nelson despatched the armed boats of his squadron, formed into four divisions, under the respective commands of Captains Philip Somerville, Edward Thornborough Parker, Isaac Cotgrave, and Robert Jones, and accompanied by a division of mortar-boats, under Captain John Conn, to attempt to bring off the French flotilla, which had been much strengthened since the last attack. At about 11 h. 30 m. P.M. the boats put off from the Medusa, in the most

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xiv., p.18.

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