1805 - Junction of Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina and departure from Cadiz


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and Franco-Spanish Fleets 330

le secours de six vaisseaux, un ambassadeur, un homme sensé ne se laisse pas dire de pareilles nigauderies. " *

On the evening of the 7th a fresh breeze sprang up from the eastward (and yet at this very time Lord Nelson was plagued with gales from the westward), and the French admiral continued his course towards the Straits. On the 8th, at daylight, Gibraltar appeared in sight ; and at noon the French fleet, formed in two columns, with the frigates ahead, entered the gut, causing alarm-guns to be fired from all points of the rock. At 4 p.m. the French stood into the bay of Cadiz, driving away Vice-admiral Sir John Orde and his five sail of the line. Finding the wind to blow strong off shore, M. Villeneuve anchored his ships, having previously despatched the Hortense frigate into the harbour, to apprize the Spaniards of his arrival and quicken their movements. In consequence of this, the French 74-gun ship Aigle, Captain Pierre-Paul Gourrège, ship-corvette Torche, and brig-corvette Argus, accompanied by five out of the following six Spanish sail of the line and one frigate, having 1600 troops on board, sailed out of the harbour and anchored in company with the Toulon fleet:

Gun Ship  
80 Argonauta Admiral don Frederico Gravina
Rear-Adm. don Antonio Escano
San-Rafaël Commod. don Francisco Montez
74 Firme Captain don Rafael Villavicencio
Terrible Captain don Francisco Mondragon
64 America Captain don -------- Darrac
Espana Captain don -------- Monios

On the 9th, at 2 a.m., the combined French and Spanish fleet, consisting of 17 sail of the line (12 French and five Spanish), one Spanish, and six French frigates, one ship-corvette, and three brig-corvettes, got under way, and steered a westerly course ; leaving the San-Rafael, which had run on shore in coming out, to follow to the rendezvous at Martinique, as soon as she could be got off.

The discreditable practice, adopted by the French emperor's orders, of altering official despatches for the purposes of deception, is nowhere more apparent than in the published correspondence connected with this expedition. M. Villeneuve is made to say that he was joined by eight Spanish sail of the line from Cadiz, thus: " Peu d'instans après, un officier espagnol vint à mon bord, et m'annonça que huit vaisseaux de S. M. C. et une frégate, sous les ordres de S. E. l'amiral Gravina, allaient mettre sous voiles ; et avant minuit je les vis sortir successivement du port, et mouiller en dehors." On the other hand, the

* Précis des Evènemens, tome xi., p. 236.

Mon. July 14, 1805.

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