Abbildungen der Seite

all night; by these means they accomplished what has, probably, never been exceeded. On the 8th, they warped her into the mole, and stripped the lower masts; on the 9th, they got their new mainmast in. On the 11 th, the enemy shewed symptoms of sailing, which only increased, if possible, the energies of the seamen. On Sunday the 12th, at dawn of day, the enemy loosed sails; the Caesar still refitting in the mole, receiving powder, shot, and other stores, and preparing to haul out.

At noon the enemy began to move: the wind was fresh from the eastward, and as they cleared the bay, they took up stations off Cabrita Point, which appeared to be the rendezvous, on which they were to form their line of battle.

At one o'clock, the enemy's squadron was nearly all under way; the Spanish ships Real Carlos and Hermenegildo, of one hundred and twelve guns each, off Cabrita Point: the Caesar was warping out of the mole. The day was clear; the whole population of the rock came out to witness the scene; the line-wall, mole-head, and batteries were crowded from the dock-yard to the ragged staff; the Caesar's band playing, "Come cheer up my lads, 'tis to glory we steer;" the military band of the garrison answering with "Britons strike home." The effect of this scene it is difficult to describe: Englishmen were proud of their country; and foreigners, who beheld the scene, wished to be Englishmen. So general was the enthusiasm amongst our gallant countrymen,

that even the wounded men begged to be taken on board, to share in the honours of the approaching conflict. .

At three o'clock, the Caesar having left the mole, passed under the stern of the Audacious, hoisted the Admiral's flag once more, and made the signal for the squadron to weigh and prepare for battle.

Thus after one of the severest engagements ever known, the British squadron, in the short space of five days, repaired its damages, and again sought the enemy, whose force had become tripled, by the junction of the squadron from Cadiz.

With such men, and in such a cause, victory seemed certain, notwithstanding the great disparity of force ;* and the enemy appeared to have a strong presentiment of a tremendous struggle.

The Spanish and French Admirals had carried their flags into one frigate, that they might arrange * English. Combined.

Ships. Guns.

Hermenegildo • %
Real Carlos • - 1
Neptuno •
San Fernando 1
Arrogante ■ )
* San Antonio
St. Augustine

Th"ef"8"" I

Formidable •

Dessaix ... 84 f French

Indomptable • 74 r

Meuron • • • 40*



* Under French colours.

their plans, and direct the movements of their combined force.

The Caesar brought-to off Europa Point; the British squadron, as they weighed, closed round her.—At five, the Admiral made the interrogatory signal, to know if they were ready for action, which was answered in the negative; but at thirty-five minutes past six, it was notified that all were ready; and the signal was immediately made to observe the Admiral's motions after dark, and keep in close order of sailing. At five minutes after eight, the enemy was seen to bear up to the westward, and the British Admiral, burning a blue light to attract attention to his motions, instantly gave chase. The Superb, from her superior sailing, and the ardent zeal of her commander, was soon abreast of the Caesar, and received the Admiral's direction to bring the northernmost ship of the enemy to action, in order to keep them as much as possible from the Spanish shore, which he most readily obeyed. At five minutes past eleven, he opened his fire upon a Spanish three-decker, which threw that ship, and her second in the line, into such confusion that they fell on board of each other. The fore-topmast of the weathermost going, as she was firing into the one to leeward, supposing her to be an enemy, the sail fell over the guns, and took fire between the two ships, at the moment the Caesar was rounding-to, to open her broadside upon them. The flames, with awful and inconceivable rapidity, flew

to the mast-head of each; and the Caesar had scarcely time to get out of the direction of them, by shifting her helm. Leaving these unfortunate ships to their fate, the Admiral pushed on to support the Superb, then engaged with the San Antonio, a Spanish ship under French colours, which was, however, already beaten, and had surrendered, when the Caesar came abreast of her;—Sir James Saumarez, therefore, followed by the Venerable, went in pursuit of the flying enemy. At midnight the wind increased to a gale, and the Caesar's masts, from the celerity of her refit, began to complain so much, that it was necessary to close reef the main-topsail, and to take in the fore-topsail. A t twelve, one of the three-deckers blew up, and a quarter of an hour afterward the other suffered the same fate. At three, the Venerable came up, and brought-to on the lee-bow of the Caesar. At fortyfive minutes past three, they saw one of the enemy's ships on the lee-bow, and the Venerable in chase of her, the Spencer coming up astern: at five, the Venerable brought the enemy to action. The wind had very nearly failed; there were only light airs, and the Caesar's boats were endeavouring to tow her into action. Shortly after it became entirely calm; and at six, a light breeze coming off the land, and dispersing the smoke from the ships engaged, discovered the Venerable with her main-mast gone, and her opponent making off, firing her sternchase guns. The Venerable's fore-mast went over the side about eight, and she was drifting in upon the Pedro shoals. Every effort was made by the squadron to assist her; but Sir James Saumarez, observing the remainder of the enemy's ships, amounting to five sail of the line, and four frigates, coming down from the westward, despatched his captain in the gig to the Venerable, with discretionary orders to Captain Hood, to withdraw his men from the ship, and destroy her. The Thames was ordered to close for the purpose of receiving the people; but the gallant Hood had still his resources, of which he most nobly availed himself. The mizen-mast fell just as the Caesar's boat reached her; the shot from the Formidable were still flying over her; the ship a wreck, and striking heavily on the rocks. Captain Hood requested the Admiral would depend upon his preventing the enemy getting possession of the Venerable; and kept the Thames by him for the purpose of making use of her in case of necessity. The enemy, observing the Superb and Audacious joining from the southward, hauled up for Cadiz. The Venerable got off the shoals, was taken in tow by the Spencer, and, before sunset, was going round Cape Trafalgar under jury masts, and in such efficient order, as to be Jit for action had an enemy appeared. Need we say more in honour of her captain, officers, and crew?

Thus ended the first battle of Trafalgar, in which the enemy lost three sail of the line; nearly two thousand four hundred men perished in the flames of the ships, besides those that were taken

« ZurückWeiter »