|Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
||British and Franco-Spanish Fleets
the recovery of his health. On the 30th Sir Robert Calder, last from off Ferrol, where he had learnt that the combined fleet, nine days previous, had made sail for Cadiz, joined with 18 line-of-battle ships.* Some of these were occasionally detached to Gibraltar for water and provisions ; and with the remainder Vice-admiral Collingwood continued to cruise before Cadiz, until the evening of the 28th of September, when Vice-admiral Lord Nelson arrived, to take the chief command of the Mediterranean fleet. His lordship had sailed from Portsmouth, in his old ship the Victory, on the morning of the 15th, accompanied by the Euryalus frigate. On the 18th, when the two ships were off Plymouth, the Ajax and Thunderer joined. On the 26th Lord Nelson despatched the Euryalus ahead, to acquaint Vice-admiral Lord Collingwood with his approach, and to direct that, on his assuming the command, no salute should be fired nor colours hoisted, in order that the enemy might be unapprized of the arrival of a reinforcement.
The force now under Lord Nelson consisted of 27 sail of the line; 22 of which cruised about 15 miles off Cadiz, while the remaining five, under Rear-admiral Louis in the Canopus, were stationed close off the harbour, to watch the motions of the combined fleet. Considering that, if he kept the main body of his fleet out of sight of land, the French admiral, being ignorant of the exact amount of the British force, might feel disposed to put to sea, Lord Nelson retired to a station from 16 to 18 leagues west of Cadiz. The force close off the harbour was now reduced to two frigates, the Euryalus and Hydra ; and it may here be remarked that Lord Nelson was continually complaining, as he had done in the preceding war, of the few frigates attached to his command. Beyond these two frigates, at convenient intervals for distinguishing signals, were three or four sail of the line, the westernmost of which could communicate directly with the easternmost ship of the main body. The new station taken by the fleet possessed the additional advantage, that, in case the usual strong westerly gales should prevail, the danger was lessened of being forced into the Mediterranean; in which event the Franco-Spanish fleet, on the first change of wind, might easily effect its escape.
On the 1st of October the Euryalus frigate, Captain the Honourable Henry Blackwood, reconnoitred the port of Cadiz and plainly discovered, at anchor in the outer harbour, and apparently ready for sea, 18 French and 16 Spanish sail of the line four frigates, and two brigs. On the 2d Lord Nelson detached Rear-admiral Louis, with the Canopus, Queen, Spencer, Tigre and Zealous, of the line, to Gibraltar, for provisions and water. On the same day a Swedish ship from Cadiz, bound to Alicante, informed the Euryalus, that the combined fleet had
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