1801 - Sailing of British squadron from Gibraltar


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Sailing of British Squadron from Gibraltar 125

was in too bad a state to leave any hopes that she could be got ready in time: her men, therefore, were turned over to assist in the repairs of the other ships. " The Cæsar, " says Captain Edward Brenton, " lay in the mole, in so shattered a state, that the admiral gave her up also; and, hoisting his flag on board the Audacious, expressed his intention of distributing her men to the effective ships. Captain (Jahleel) Brenton requested that his people might remain on board as long as possible, and, addressing them, stated the admiral's intentions in case the ship could not be got ready: they answered, with three cheers, 'All hands to work day and night, till she is ready.' The captain ordered them to work all day, and watch and watch all night; by these means they accomplished what has, probably, never been exceeded. On the 8th they warped her into the mole and shipped the lower masts; on the 9th they got their new mainmast in. On the 11th the enemy showed symptoms of sailing, which only increased, if possible, the energies of the seamen. On Sunday the 12th, at dawn of day, the enemy loosed sails; the Cæsar still refitting in the mole, receiving powder, shot, and other stores, and preparing to haul out.

" At noon the enemy began to move: the wind was fresh from the eastward, and as they cleared the bay, they took up stations off Cabrita point, which appeared to be the rendezvous, on which they were to form their line of battle. At one o'clock the enemy's squadron was nearly all under way; the Spanish ships Real-Carlos and Hermenegildo, of 112 guns each, off Cabrita point: the Cæsar was warping out of the mole. The day was clear; the whole population of the rock came out to witness the scene; the line-wall, mole-head, and batteries, were crowded from the dockyard to the ragged staff ; the Cæsar's band playing, " Come cheer up my lads, 'tis to glory we steer;' the military band of the garrison answering with ' Britons strike home.' The effect of this scene it is difficult to describe : Englishmen were proud of their country; and foreigners, who beheld the scene, wished to be Englishmen. So general was the enthusiasm among our gallant countrymen, that even the wounded men begged to be taken on board, to share in the honours of the approaching conflict." *

At 3 p.m., just as, in her way out of the mole she passed under the stern of the Audacious, the Cæsar rehoisted the flag of Sir James Saumarez, and made the signal for the squadron to weigh and prepare for battle. This was promptly done; and the squadron, consisting of the Cæsar, Venerable, Superb, Spencer, and Audacious of the line, 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Thames, Captain Askew Paffard Holles, 14-gun polacre-sloop 'Calpé', Captain the Honourable George Heneage Laurence

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 39.

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