1805 - Battle of Trafalgar


 
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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
by
William James
1805 Battle of Trafalgar 89

the shore clear of the rocks. At length the Algésiras reached Cadiz ; and, to the credit of those whose prisoners they then were, Lieutenant Bennett and his 49 companions were allowed to return to their friends outside in one of the two French frigates which, by Vice-admiral Collingwood's permission gratuitously conveyed to the governor of Andalusia, the Marquess of Solano, went with a flag of truce to receive, upon the usual conditions of not serving again till exchanged, the wounded Spaniards found on board the captured ships. In return for this courtesy, the Spanish governor offered the use of the Cadiz hospitals for the British wounded, and pledged the honour of Spain that they should be carefully attended.

The Bucentaure, another hull, having on board Lieutenant Richard Spear and a party of men from the Conqueror, by whom, amidst the severity of the gale, a vain attempt had been made to take her in tow, drifted towards the shore, and was compelled for safety to anchor near the castle of San-Sebastian. On the following day, the 22d, the Bucentaure was wrecked on the Puerques ; but her crew were all, or the greater part, saved, including the British. These were taken out of the wreck by the boats of one of the French frigates ; and, notwithstanding that the Gibraltar Chronicle, of November 9, in this year, contains a long paragraph, filled with abuse of the " dastardly French, " the " infamous and cowardly crew of the frigate, " for alleged ill-treatment of the British taken out of the Bucentaure, the latter, by their own acknowledgment, were treated with humanity and kindness. Unfortunately, the co-authors of the Life of Nelson, " with reckless haste, have copied into their pages * the atrocious falsehood ; and, to give additional currency to a statement so accordant with their repeatedly expressed sentiments towards the French, Messieurs Clarke and M'Arthur have omitted to add, that they took the paragraph from the columns of a newspaper.

The north-westerly wind, that blew on the morning of the 23d, being fair for quitting his anchorage at the bay or entrance of the outer harbour of Cadiz, Captain Cosmao-Kerjulien, the senior French officer in the port, weighed and made sail, with the Pluton inefficient as she was, Indomptable, Neptune, Rayo, and San-Francisco-de-Asis, the five frigates, and the two brigs, hoping to be able to recapture some of the remaining prize hulls, then driving about the coast. It is doubtful if any of the remaining six French and Spanish ships in Cadiz, unless it was the Héros and Montanez were in a state to put to sea. At all events the Principe-de-Asturias and San-Leandro had each rolled away their main and mizen masts soon after anchoring on the night of the 21st. Nor could Admiral Gravina, as Vice-admiral Collingwood supposed, have commanded the squadron, as he was then suffering the pains of a mortal wound.

Soon after the above five sail of the line, five frigates, and

*  Clarke and M'Arthur, vol. ii., p. 456.

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