1803 - Sir Richard Bickerton in the Mediterranean, Lord Nelson Off Toulon, French force there


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 British and French Fleets - Mediterranean 182

of the war, consisted of 10 sail of the line, under the command of Rear-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton, in the Kent 74. The probability that this extensive and important station would soon become the scene of very active operations, led to the appointment of Vice-admiral Lord Nelson to the chief command. His lordship, accordingly, on the 18th of May, hoisted his flag on board his old ship the Victory, in Portsmouth harbour. On the 20th, at 5 p.m., accompanied by the 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Amphion, Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy, the Victory sailed from Spithead, bound, in the first instance, to the fleet off Brest, to ascertain if her assistance would be required by Admiral Cornwallis; in which event she was to remain with the latter, and the vice-admiral was to proceed to his station in the frigate.

On the 22d, at 4 p.m., the two ships arrived off the island of Ushant, the appointed rendezvous ; but a severe gale of wind had blown the British fleet from its station. After a vain search for the admiral, both at the rendezvous and nearer to Brest, Lord Nelson, at 7 h. 30 m. p.m. on the 23d, shifted his flag to the Amphion, and at 8 p.m., made sail, with a fair wind, leaving the Victory to follow, in case her services should be dispensed with by the commander-in-chief of the Channel fleet.

On the 25th, in the morning, the wind shifted from north-west to south-west, and blew fresh. The foul wind, with a heavy sea, continued until the night of the 30th, when a light air sprang up from the northward. With the aid of this, the Amphion, on the morning of the 3d of June, entered the Straits, and at 9 h. 30 m. p.m. anchored in the bay of Gibraltar. On the 4th, at 4 a.m., the Amphion weighed and made sail. On the 15th, the frigate reached Malta; quitted it on the 17th, at 3 a.m., and on the 25th, arrived off Naples, where his lordship expected to find the squadron. Sir Richard had, however, since the 4th, sailed for Toulon ; and thither the Amphion immediately bent her course. A succession of calms and light winds made it the 8th of July ere Lord Nelson could reach his old cruising ground, where he found Sir Richard, with the

Gun Ship  
80 Gibraltar Captain George Frederick Ryves.
74 Kent Rear-admiral (w.) Sir Richard Bickerton, Bart.
Captain Edward O'Bryen.
74 Donegal Captain Sir Richard John Strachan, Bart.
74 Superb Captain Richard Goodwin Keats.
74 Belleisle Captain John Whitby.
74 Renown Captain John Chambers White.
64 Monmouth Captain George Hart.
64 Agincourt Captain Charles Marsh Schomberg.
Frigate Active, Phoebe and (now) Amphion.

The French line-of-battle force in Toulon consisted of seven ships, nearly ready for sea, under Vice-admiral René-Madeleine La Touche-Tréville, two repairing in the arsenal, and five on the stocks. The ships afloat were the 80s Formidable and Indomptable

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