1804 - Directions to Lord Nelson regarding Spain


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 242

of Cape San-Sebastian. The French fleet in the outer road of Toulon, now increased to 11 sail of the line and seven or eight frigates, had since the 12th of the month been embarking the troops allotted for the intended expedition, and was ready for a start, the moment a fair wind and a clear offing should afford the opportunity.

By then Swiftsure, or some small vessel that joined on the same day, Lord Nelson received despatches from the admiralty, respecting the conduct he was to pursue towards the Spaniards. The despatches were dated September 19, and directed him to take such measures of precaution only, as might be necessary for opposing or counteracting any hostile attempts of the Spaniards against the British dominions or trade. He was, however, not to suffer any act of hostility or aggression, with the exception of detaining Spanish ships with treasure on board, to be committed. by his fleet until he received further orders, or had obtained positive information from unquestionable authority of hostilities having been committed by the Spaniards against the English. Additional directions, dated September 25, ordered the captains and commanders of the Mediterranean fleet to keep a vigilant look-out, and to detain Spanish ships or vessels laden with military stores. On November 25, lest any misapprehension might arise, further instructions were sent out not to detain, in the first instance, any ship belonging to his catholic majesty, sailing from a port of Spain, but to require the commander to return directly to the port whence he came ; and, only in the event of his refusing to comply with such requisition, was the admiral to detain and send the vessel to Gibraltar or England : he was further directed not to detain any homeward-bound Spanish ship of war, unless she should have treasure on board, nor merchant ships of that nation, however laden, on any account whatever.

Light Squadrons and Single Ships.

At the distance of rather less than a mile from the south-west end of the island of Martinique, or Pointe du Diamant, and about six miles south-east from the entrance to the harbour or bay of Fort-Royal, stands the roche du Diamant, or Diamond rock, in latitude 14 24' north, longitude 61 6' west. In height, as measured by a quadrant, it is 600 feet; in circumference rather less than a mile ; and " in form very much resembling a round haystack. " The south side of the rock is inaccessible, it being a flat steep, like a wall, but sloping a little towards the top. The east and the south-west sides are also inaccessible : the first has an overhanging cave about 300 yards high, and the other several caves of great magnitude. The west side, where breakers run into the sea, affords the only landing. But even this landing is not at all times practicable, on account of the surf ; and a

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