1805 - Departure of Lord Nelson from Gibraltar, Anchors in Lagos bay


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and Franco-Spanish Fleets 332

ses dépêches, et, sur le signal qui en a été fait, six vaisseaux de S. M. C., deux frégates et deux bricks de S. M. L, se sont rangés sous son pavilion; nous avons été en vue le reste de la soirée, mais le lendemain je n'en ai plus de connaissance, et j'ai lieu de le croire rendre à sa destination. Le 24, au point du jour, j'ai donné dans le canal de Sainte-Lucie, et dans la journée de mouillai à la Martinique, avec l'escadre que m'a confiée S. M. et deux vaisseaux et une frégate espagnols." The number of French and Spanish ships that entered Martinique, as counted both from the Diamond Rock, and the Triton West-Indiaman which lay in Basse-Terre road, Sainte-Lucie, agrees exactly with the statement as we have given it. But, it being p.m. when the ships passed, the two accounts are dated, according to log-time, on the 14th instead of on the 13th of May. That the last is the correct date appears, not only from the above letter (there being no interest to deceive in that particular), but from an entry in the rôle d'équipage of the French ship Formidable, to which we have had reference.

Even French historians were led into error by the Moniteur's forgeries: " L'Amiral Gravina," says M. Dumas, " ne se sépara point de lui (Villeneuve) pour remplir une mission particulière, et c'est encore un fait que nous devions rétablir ; il mouilla à la Martinique avec le reste de la flotte combinée et ne la quitta point: ceci doit servir d'erratum au premier paragraphe de la page 131, où, trompés par divers rapports officiels, nous avions dit que l'amiral Gravina, après s'etre détaché de la flotte combinée pour porter des secours à Porto-Rico et à la Havane, était venu la rejoindre à sa station aux îles du Vent. " * The object of all this fraud was evidently to induce the British government to weaken still more the force in the Channel, by detaching a greater number of ships to the West Indies ; and that object, we believe, was partly accomplished.

Lord Nelson, whom on the 4th of May we left refitting his fleet in Mazari bay, was enabled, early on the 5th, by the emulation and activity of those he commanded, and by a sudden change of wind to the eastward, to weigh and make sail to the westward. Such, indeed, was Lord Nelson's haste to get away, that the Superb was recalled from Tetuan, just as the cattle and other refreshments for the fleet were being brought down to the beach ; and which, in consequence, the ship was obliged to leave behind. On the 7th, at 2 p.m., a failure of the breeze obliged the Victory and some of the other ships to anchor in Rozia bay, Gibraltar. In the course of the afternoon Rear-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton, who was to be left as the commanding officer in the Mediterranean, shifted his flag from the Royal-Sovereign to the Amfitrite (late Spanish) frigate ; and, a

* Précis des Evènemens, tome xii., p. 417.

See p. 329.

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