1805 - Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and French Fleets 298

combine in their operations with the five French sail of the line in that port ; Cadiz is to supply from 12 to 15, and Carthagena six. By the fifth article the two high contracting parties mutually engage, to augment their fleets by all the ships of the line and frigates that may be subsequently constructed, repaired and fitted in their respective ports. The sixth article contains an engagement on the part of Napoléon to guarantee to his catholic majesty, as well the integrity of his European dominions, as the restitution of all colonies that may be taken from him during the war ; and that, should the fortune of arms, " in accordance with the justice of the cause which their majesties are defending, " grant success to their armies and fleets, the emperor will employ his influence to get Trinidad restored, and also the treasure taken out of the four frigates. The seventh article contains a mutual undertaking not to make a separate peace ; and the eighth provides that the ratifications shall be exchanged within a month. * To the treaty a note is appended, signed by Spanish ambassador, Don Frederico Gravina, in which he presses a doubt as to the possibility of collecting a sufficiency of sailors for the ships, and, above all, of having ready, by the time stated, so many as six millions of rations.

If Napoléon, with his 40 or 45 sail of the line, had calculated to, create such a diversion of the British fleets, as should give him a clear channel for his flotilla to cross, how must his expectations have been raised now that he possessed the disposal of upwards of 70 sail of the line. It is true that the public lists and journals did show and insist, that the number of commissioned line-of-battle ships belonging to England at the time amounted 105 ; but as respects sea-going ships, the fact was not so : the British navy could send forth no more than 83 sail of the line, and scarcely the whole of them. Buonaparte had constantly a Steel's list before him, and, with the aid of the information derived from his numerous spies, knew, better by far than many in England, how to analyze the accounts, and separate the non-combatant from the combatant ships. Let it then be kept in remembrance, that, at the commencement of the year 1805, the British and the Franco-Spanish navies (leaving the Batavian navy out of the question) were, as to number of effective line-battle ships, nearly upon a par. What changes took place in the relative numbers of these navies before the close of this eventful year, we shall now proceed methodically to relate.

The commencement of the year found Admiral Cornwallis at his station off Ushant, with a force not exceeding 11 sail of the line ; while the French fleet that lay in the road of Brest, ready for sea, numbered, as has on more than one occasion been shown, 21 sail. On the 3d of February, when the blockading force,

* They were exchanged on the 18th of January.

For a copy of this important treaty, see vol. xi., p..215, of Précis des Evènemens, &c.

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