1804 - He is made Emperor of France, Rear-admiral Graves and French squadron, Force in Brest, Plan of operations for Brest Fleet


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Plan of operations for the Brest Fleet 217

the first-consul's attention was too much engrossed by the new dignity he was about to assume, or that he required the presence of the fleet to assist in giving éclat to the imposing ceremony, which, on the 14th of that same month of May, made him Emperor of France.

Even after the bustle of this business was over, the Brest ships remained at their moorings until the 25th of July, when, encouraged by a fine wind at east-north-east and a thick fog, the advanced squadron, of five sail of the line and two or three frigates, got under way, and stood for the passage du Raz. A sudden return of clear weather, however, enabled the British look-out cutter to discover and make a signal of the circumstance. Immediately Rear-admiral Sir Thomas Graves, commanding the in-shore squadron, proceeded in chase; but the French ships, in the mean time, had hauled to the wind, and were working back to Brest road. No second attempt to escape, of which the British outside were aware, was made during the remainder of the year; although, as will presently appear, an expedition of the utmost consequence had been designed to quit Brest before the end of November.

The number of ships of the line, at this time ready for sea in Brest road, was 22 ; exclusive of the Océan three-decker, repairing in the docks, but expected soon to be afloat, the shipwrights having been ordered to work at her by torchlight. This fleet was now under the command of Vice-admiral Ganteaume. A curious circumstance had led to the expulsion of this officer's predecessor. When, in the month of May, the officers of the Brest fleet were called upon to put their signatures to a note for conferring the imperial dignity upon Napoléon, Vice-admiral Truguet, true to his republican principles, refused to sign the paper. He wrote to Buonaparte, assigning his reason ; and, to show his readiness to perform his duty against the enemies of the nation, made use of the following laconic expression: " Un mot et l'armée est à la voile." Napoléon, feeling himself personally offended, removed the admiral from his command, dismissed him from being a member of the council of state, and ordered his name to be struck out of the list of the legion of honour.

The directions given by Napoléon to his minister of marine were, that the Brest fleet of 23 (the Océan included) sail of the line, under Vice-admiral Ganteaume, with from 30,000 to 40,000 troops on board, under General Augereau, should quit port at the first opportunity that might occur in the month of November, proceed to Lough-Swilly bay in the north of Ireland, and there disembark the men. Should any difficulty arise, the coast of Scotland was to receive the troops. Vice-admiral Ganteaume was then to call off the Texel, and, bringing away with him the seven Dutch sail of the line and transports with 2500 troops on board in that harbour, make his appearance before Boulogne. The 30 sail of the line, by this means assembled, added to the

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