1805 - Admiral Cornwallis and M. Ganteaume


Next Page

Previous Page
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 Admiral Cornwallis and M. Ganteaume 301

arrive before Boulogne with 41 sail of the line, or to pass straight up Channel, out of view of the coasts or of the blockading fleet off Brest, and, with 34 sail only, appear off Boulogne, four or five days before the Channel fleet could arrive there ; in which four or five days the flotilla was to cross and the descent be effected. * A fifth plan, left as an alternative to M. Villeneuve, having reference exclusively to a distant service, is deferred to the proper period for introducing it.

It was at about the date of these orders, that some reflections in the English newspapers, cast upon the Brest fleet for not sailing out and engaging a much inferior force, gave disquietude to Napoléon, and caused him to write thus to his minister of marine: " Have inserted in the journals of Holland an article against the system of blockade ; let it be made appear that we sail out of Brest when we choose ; that Bruix sailed out such a day, Morard de Galles such a day, Ganteaume several times ; that in his last trip to Bertheaume, nothing prevented his putting to sea, and that the English squadron did not so much as know of his being under sail : that it is therefore impossible to blockade the port of Brest, especially in the months of September and October. This article will show, that we have no desire to put to sea, but wish merely to keep the enemy in awe. " Many of the London opposition journals, taking all this for truth, became very strenuous coadjutors in Buonaparte's plan of deception.

On the 6th of July accounts reached the Channel fleet of the arrival of the combined fleet at Martinique ; and on the same day Admiral Cornwallis, having recovered his health, arrived in the Ville-de-Paris off Ushant, and relieved Lord Gardner in the command of the former, now consisting of 18 sail of the line, and which, considering the force likely to assail it from different points, was rather critically situated. On the 11th intelligence that the combined fleet was on its return reached Admiral Cornwallis from the admiralty, with orders for Rear admiral Sterling to quit his station off Rochefort, and, with his five sail of the line, join Vice-admiral Calder off Ferrol. The circumstances under which these orders had been despatched are deserving of attention. The British brig-sloop Curieux, Captain George Edmund Byron Bettesworth, with the intelligence, anchored at Plymouth on the 7th, in the morning ; and at about 11 p.m. on the 8th the captain arrived at the admiralty. The first lord having retired to rest, the despatches were not communicated to him until early on the morning of the 9th. At this Lord Barham was very angry, saying, that seven or eight hours had been lost. Without waiting to dress himself, be wrote orders for Admiral Cornwallis to detach Rear-admiral Sterling from off Rochefort to join Vice-admiral Calder, who was to take

* Précis des Evènemens, tome xi., p. 253.

See Appendix, No. 33.

^ back to top ^