1805 - Departure for West Indies, Fruitless voyage to Trinidad, Returns to Europe


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1805 British and Franco-Spanish Fleets 334

to engage a force nearly double his own ; but it should be recollected, that he fully expected to be joined, on reaching Barbadoes, by six sail of the line. During his passage to the West Indies, Lord Nelson prepared a plan of attack, to be adopted in case he should overtake the enemy's fleet. The plan met the general approval of his officers ; but we cannot discover by it whether the vice-admiral contemplated a meeting before or aft the expected reinforcement. *

On the 15th of May the British fleet made Madeira ; and on the 29th the Amazon was sent on to Barbadoes, to enable Rear-admiral Cochrane to have his ships ready for the expected junction. On the 3d of June Lord Nelson gained, for the first time, certain intelligence that the combined fleet was in the West Indies ; and on the 4th he anchored with his squadron in Carlisle bay. Here he found Rear-admiral Cochrane, with only the Northumberland and Spartiate 74s, his remaining four ships having been detained by Rear-admiral Dacres at Jamaica. An unfounded report, circulated, no doubt, on purpose to mislead, that the enemy was bound to Tobago and Trinidad, induced the vice-admiral to receive on board his ships 2000 troops under General Myers, and to proceed with them, on the morning of the 5th, towards those two islands. On the 7th, when in the gulf of Paria, the British discovered that they had been misled ; and, although so far to leeward, the fleet arrived on the 9th, off Grenada. Here Lord Nelson received accounts that the enemy passed the island of Dominique on the 6th, steering to the northward. Having, on the morning of the 13th, reached Antigua, the British fleet there disembarked the troops ; and at noon the same day, taking with him the Spartiate, Captain Francis Laforey, but leaving the Northumberland to remain as Rear-admiral Cochrane's flag-ship on the station, Lord Nelson, with 11 sail of the line, stood to the northward ; not absolutely in pursuit of an enemy, whose force he knew to consist of at least 18 sail of the line, but in the hope, by a superior knowledge of tactics, to reach the shores of Europe before him.

In one of those unreserved conversations which he occasionally held with his captains when visiting him on board the Victory, Lord Nelson is represented to have said, in reference to the object which had drawn him so far from his station : " I am thankful that the enemy has been driven from the West-India islands with so little loss to our country " (alluding to the capture of the Antigua convoy) ; " I had made up my mind to great sacrifices, for I had determined, notwithstanding his vast superiority, to stop his career, and to put it out of his power to do any further mischief. Yet do not imagine I am one of those hot-brained

* That plan, being the work of an acknowledged proficient may with propriety be transcribed into these pages. It will therefore be found at No. 36 of the Appendix.

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