1804 - Commodore Dance and Admiral Linois


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Commodore Dance and Admiral Linois 249

also lying to. M. Linois in his letters says, " If the bold front put on by the enemy in the daytime had been intended as a ruse to conceal his weakness, he would have profited by the darkness of the night to endeavour to conceal his escape ; and in that case I should have taken advantage of his manúuvres. But I soon became convinced that this security was not feigned ; three of his ships constantly kept their lights up, and the fleet continued to lie to, in order of battle, throughout the night. This position facilitated my gaining the wind, and enabled me to observe the enemy closely. " *

Both parties now hoisted their colours. Three of Commodore Dance's principal ships and the armed brig hoisted blue ensigns ; the remainder of the fleet, red ; and the whole of the China ships, having been recently painted, cut rather an imposing figure. This circumstance, coupled with the information that only 23 ships and a brig had quitted Canton, led, as he states, M. Linois to believe, that the three supernumerary ships formed the escort to the fleet. Admitting this to have been the fact, the French admiral was justified in making his advance with caution. At 9 a.m., observing that the enemy's men of war did not come down, the Indiamen formed in order of sailing, and continued their course under an easy sail upon the starboard tack ; whereupon the three French ships and Batavian brig filled on the opposite tack, and edged away towards the merchant fleet.

At 1 p.m., finding that M. Linois intended to cut off his rear, Commodore Dance made the signal to tack in succession, bear down in line ahead, and engage on arriving abreast of the enemy. The manoeuvre was correctly executed, the Royal-George leading, followed successively, in close order, by the Ganges, Earl-Camden, Warley, Alfred, and others. Thus, formed, and carrying topgallantsails, the British ships stood towards the French ships; and these, carrying royals, and some of them topgallant studding-sails, were keeping more away to facilitate the junction.

At about 1 h. 15 m. p.m. the French admiral opened his fire upon the Royal-George and the ships next astern of her. The Royal-George returned the fire in a very spirited manner, and was ably seconded, as they came up, by the Ganges and Earl-Camden. The Warley and Alfred were the next ships that got into action. The Royal-George was engaged about 40 minutes, and fired about eight or nine broadsides ; the Ganges, about 35 minutes, and fired seven or eight ; the Earl-Camden, about 25 minutes, and may have fired five broadsides ; and the Warley and Alfred, who came into action nearly together, were engaged about 15 minutes. After the mutual cannonade had lasted in this way just 43 minutes, the Marengo and her consorts ceased

See Appendix, No, 27

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