1803 - Recapture of Ambuscade


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Lord Nelson Off Toulon 183

and 74s Atlas, Berwick (late British), Intrépide, Mont-Blanc, and Scipion ; the two in dock were the late British ships Hannibal, now Annibal, and Swiftsure ; and those on the stocks were the 80s Bucentaure and Neptune, and 74s Borée, Phaëton, and Pluton, the two 80s, and the last-named 74 nearly ready for launching.

At this time nearly the whole of the Mediterranean coast was subject, more or less, to the sway of France. In Barcelona and other Spanish ports, French cruisers were allowed to carry in and sell their prizes, while to a British vessel admittance was prohibited by an order of the government. Genoa was as much France as Toulon, and in her dock-yard was constructing a French 74, to be named after her, the Génois. Tuscany was gradually becoming French; and so was Sardinia, although under the mask of a rigid neutrality. Except Naples, every state in the two Sicilies was obedient to the nod of Buonaparte; who had set his emissaries at work in the Morea, to excite the Greeks to an insurrection against the Turks, in the hope, by taking part with the latter, to obtain Egypt as the price of, what could not fail to be, a successful interference.

Expecting, probably, that the Victory would not be detained by Admiral Cornwallis, Lord Nelson continued on board the Amphion, in preference to removing to a larger ship. Within forty hours after the Amphion had, as already stated, separated from the Victory, the latter fell in with the Channel fleet, and, after a stay of scarcely two hours, was permitted to proceed on her passage to the Mediterranean. On the 28th of May, in latitude 45 40' north, longitude 6 10' west, Captain Sutton was fortunate enough to fall in with and capture the French 32-gun frigate Embuscade (late British Ambuscade *), Captain Jean-Baptiste-Alexis Fradin, 30 days from Cape-François, bound to Rochefort, with not the whole of her guns mounted, and with a crew of only 187 men.

On the 12th of June, in the evening, the Victory anchored in Gibraltar, and departed thence on the afternoon of the 15th. On the 9th of July, she anchored in the harbour of Valetta, island of Malta, and quitted it on the 11th; and on the 30th, at about 4 p.m. a few leagues to the westward of Cape Sicie, the Victory joined the Mediterranean squadron, then consisting of the Gibraltar, Belleisle, Donegal, Renown, and Monmouth, with the three frigates, Active, Phoebe, and Amphion. On the same evening, Lord Nelson shifted his flag to the Victory, taking Captain George Murray as his first captain, and Captain Hardy, as his second, the latter being succeeded in the command of the Amphion by Captain Sutton, late of the Victory. The station off Cape Sicie had been chosen by the vice-admiral on two accounts;

* See vol ii p. 243. Ambuscade was restored to her rank in the British Navy.

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