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Avas directed by the Admiral to anchor between the batteries of Algeziras and Green Island. At twentyfive minutes past eight, the action began with the headmost ship, and at nine it became general. The Venerable, on approaching the enemy's ships, with an intention of getting as close as possible, unfortunately broke round off by a flaw of wind; and Captain Hood, apprehensive of not being able to obtain a nearer position, let go his anchor at the distance of about two cables' length from the Indomptable, and opened a gallant fire upon her. The Pomp6e, preserving the wind in its original direction, succeeded in obtaining a most admirable situation on the bow of the French Admiral, within pistol-shot, and raked him with great effect. The Audacious, passing under the lee of the Venerable, took up her anchorage in a line a-head of her; as the Caesar immediately did a-head of the Audacious. The Hannibal and Spencer being becalmed to leeward of the Caesar, their signals were made to tow into action. On a breeze springing up, Captain Ferris eagerly availed himself of it, by making sail towards the Orange-grove, tacking in shore, and keeping a close luff, in the hope of being able to lay the French Admiral on board, on
1 Formidable • 80 Rear-admiral Linois.
2 Dessaix • 74
3 Indomptable • 80
4 Meuron (frigate) • • 44
VOL. III. D
the side next the shore.—This daring attempt was frustrated by his ship taking the ground, immediately abreast of the battery of San Jago, and within a short distance of the Formidable, in such a position as to be exposed to a destructive fire from that ship. Until this period, the advantage seemed entirely on the side of the British squadron. But by a flaw of wind the Pompee broke her sheer, and instead of raking the French Admiral's ship, was raked by him with a most destructive fire. She was obliged to cut her cables, and was towed off by the boats of the squadron. A fresh breeze springing up at this time from the N. W. the Caesar cut her cable, and, veering round, attacked the Dessaix and Green Island battery, supported by the Audacious and Venerable; the Hannibal, at the same time, keeping up a galling fire upon the Formidable, and the batteries. The ships were thus engaged for nearly two hours, under every disadvantage of calm, light, and baffling airs, with their heads all round the compass; the boats incessantly employed in towing them, so as to bring their broadsides to bear, until called away to assist the Hannibal, now immoveably fixed upon the shoal, whence no effort could extricate her. Seventy men lying dead on his decks, with a great number wounded, about twelve o'clock, Captain Ferris hauled down his colours and surrendered. The Admiral, however, still continued the action in the Caesar, supported by the Venerable and Audacious, until half-past one, when, finding all prospect of success had entirely vanished, he slowly and reluctantly retired to the mole of Gibraltar, to repair his damages, leaving the Hannibal in possession of the enemy. Such was the issue of a conflict, which, at its commencement, promised the most brilliant success. Every effort was made to overcome the obstacles which presented themselves; every change of wind served only to renew the undaunted exertions, and to stimulate the enterprise, of the gallant Admiral; and it was not till every hope of success had vanished, that the object was abandoned. Nothing could exceed the decision and intrepidity of Captain Ferris, although the result of his manoeuvre was unfortunate: it is, however, due to Sir James Saumarez, to state, that the squadron did not withdraw from action, until the Hannibal had surrendered. A contrary assertion is made in the narrative of Captain Ferris; an unaccountable error, proving that the most correct officers may sometimes be deceived, and the more to be lamented in this instance, as bearing the sanction of an official document.*
* In this action there were some animating examples of valour and patriotism; and viewing the subsequent conduct of the ships' companies composing that squadron, we will venture to say, that history cannot produce any thing surpassing their devotion to the cause of their king and country, and thorough determination to revenge their recent defeat.
When in the hottest part of the action, the Caesar broke her sheer, and could not get her guns to bear on the enemy, the captain ordered a cutter to be lowered down from the stern, to convey a warp to the Audacious, but the boat was found to
During the action, the French Admiral, not confiding in the bravery of his men, or the firmness of his allies, was busily employed warping his ships as close to the shore, as the depth of water would admit.
On the following morning, the ships of the squadron were employed in landing the wounded at the hospital, and repairing their damages, which were very considerable. The Pompee was in such a state as to require new lower masts, and the Caesar's main-mast was rendered unserviceable.
Sir James Saumarez sent his captain over to Algeziras with a flag of truce to the French Admiral, proposing an exchange of prisoners, which M. Linois declined, alleging that it was not in his power to consent to such a measure, without first receiving the sanction of the minister of marine at Paris, to whom he had despatched a courier, immediately after the termination of the action.
On the afternoon of the 9th, the Paisley brig was seen standing into the bay, with the signal flying for an enemy; and shortly after, the Superb and Thames appeared, chased by a Spanish squadron of five sail of the line and three frigates, which, on these
be knocked to pieces by the enemy's shot. Before other means could be resorted to, Michael Collins, a young sailor, belonging to the Caesar's mizen-top, seized the end of a lead-line, and exclaiming, "You shall soon have a warp," darted from the tafrail, and swam with the line to the Audacious, where it was received, and by that means a halser ran out, which answered the intended purpose.
ships reaching their anchorage, hauled round Cabrita Point, and joined the French ships in Algeziras. It appeared evident to Sir James Saumarez, that the design of this junction was to effect the removal of the French ships and their prize to Cadiz, as a port of safety; and that the enemywould use every exertion to effect so important an object with the utmost celerity, under a very natural expectation that the British Admiral would be unable to molest them; but this heroic officer immediately formed the daring resolution of attacking the enemy, even with his very inadequate and crippled force, the moment they moved from under their batteries.
The damages sustained by the Pompee, commanded by the gallant Captain Sterling, were such as precluded the hope of her being ready within any reasonable time to proceed to sea; the hands were therefore turned over to assist in the repairs of the other ships.
The Caesar lay in the mole, in so shattered a state that the Admiral gave her up also; and, hoisting his flag on board the Audacious, expressed his intention of distributing her men to the effective ships. Captain Brenton requested that his people might remain on board as long as possible, and addressing them, stated the Admiral's intentions in case the ship could not be got ready: they answered, with three cheers, "All hands to work day and night, till she is ready." The Captain ordered them to work all day, and watch and watch