1803 - Light Squadrons and Single Ships, Capture of Affronteur


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Ill-Provided State of Lord Nelson's Ships 185

person on board able to assist him. In May, 1803, Captain Ryves was promoted to the Gibraltar, and Lord Nelson, we believe, named the anchorage Agincourt sound.

On the 9th of November, having obtained a supply of water and fresh beef for the squadron, Lord Nelson got under way and sailed from the Magdalena islands ; but, owing to a continuance of foul weather, he did not arrive off Toulon until the 23d. Here the British admiral found the French squadron in the outer road, to all appearance, just as he had left it a month previous. On the 24th the Excellent 74, Captain Frank Sotheron, joined the squadron from England.

The continuance of gales of wind, with a heavy sea from the north-west to north-east, and a belief that Spain had at length settled her neutrality, induced Lord Nelson to take his winter station off Cape San-Sebastian, keeping frigates off Toulon, to apprize him of the least movement on the part of the French ships. Of the weak and ill-provided state of several of his ships, Lord Nelson, in his letters to the admiralty, complained very bitterly, and, as it appears, not without reason. " The Superb, " says his lordship, " is in a very weak state, but Keats is so superior to any difficulties, that I hear but little from her. The Kent is gone to Malta, fit only for a summer passage. Every bit of twice-laid stuff belonging to the Canopus is condemned, and all the running rigging in the fleet, except the Victory's. We have fitted the Excellent with new main and mizen rigging: it was shameful for the dock-yard (Portsmouth) to send a ship to sea with such rigging. "

The severity of the weather, coupled with the inefficient state of his squadron, compelled the British admiral, about the 12th of December, to enter the bay of Palma ; where the ships remained until the want of water sent them, on the 21st, a second time to Agincourt sound. In this commodious harbour, Lord Nelson and his squadron lay at anchor at the close of the year ; the port of Toulon, and the force within it, being carefully watched by Captain Ross Donnelly, of the Narcissus, with another frigate or two in company.

Light Squadrons and Single Ships.

On the 18th of May the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Doris, Captain Richard Henry Pearson, cruising off Ushant, fell in with and chased the French national lugger Affronteur, of 14 long eights and 92 men, commanded by Lieutenant Morce-André Dutoya. Gaining fast upon the lugger the Doris fired a shot wide of her, to induce her to shorten sail, but without effect. To a second shot, discharged this time at her, the lugger fired a shot in return, and actually maintained a running fight with the frigate, until the latter ran close alongside. Nor

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