« PreviousContinue »
4. Captain Troubridge, in the Culloden, led the van of the leading column, and, passing slowly through the line, poured two tremendous broadsides, double-shotted, into the enemy's three-deckers; the other ships followed, opening a dreadful fire on the right and left as they passed through. No sooner had he crossed the enemy's line, than Troubridge tacked again, and, followed by the Blenheim, Prince George, Orion, and Irresistible, engaged in close combat the weather division of the enemy, which had been separated from the rest of the feet.
5. He thus succeeded in engaging the enemy, who were loosely scattered, and still straggling in disorderly array, in close combat, before they had time to form in regular order of battle. By a vigorous cannonade these ships drove the nine Spanish vessels which had been been cut off to leeward, so as to prevent their taking any part in the engagement which followed.
6. The Spanish admiral upon this endeavoured to regain the lost part of his fleet, and was wearing round the rear of the British line, when Commodore NELSON, who was in the sternmost ship, perceiving his design, disregarded his orders, stood directly towards him, and precipitated himself into the very middle of the hostile squadron. Bravely seconded by Captain Collingwood in the Excellent, Nelson wore and made all sail to aid the Colloden now closely engaged. He ran his ship, the Captain, of 74 guns, between two Spanish three-deckers, the Santissima Trinidada, of 136 guns, commanded by Admiral Cordova, and the San Josef, of 112; and succeeded, by a tremendous fire to the right and left, in compelling the former to strike, although it escaped, in consequence of Nelson not being able, in the confusion of so close a fight, to take possession of his noble prize.
7. The action, on the part of these gallant men, continued
for nearly an hour with the utmost fury against fearful odds, which were more than compensated by the skill of the British sailors and the rapidity of their fire. Though Collingwood had thus, with 74 guns only, already forced two Spanish line-of-battle ships, one of which was a three-decker, to strike to him; yet he was not contented with his achievement; but pushed on yet farther to relieve Nelson, who was now engaged with the San Nicholas and San Josef on one side, and the huge four-decker, Suntissima Trinidada, on the other. So close did he approach the former of these vessels, that, to use his own words, you “could not put a bodkin between them, and the shot from the British passed through both the Spanish vessels, and actually struck Nelson's balls from the other side.
8. After a short engagement the Spaniard's fire ceased on that quarter; and Collingwood, seeing Nelson's ship effectually succoured, moved on, and engaged the Santissima Trinidada, which already had been assailed by several British ships in succession. No sooner was Nelson relieved by Collingwood's fire, than, resuming his wonted energy, he boarded the San Nicholas of 74 guns, which had fallen on board the San Josef, of 112 guns, now entirely disabled by the Captain's fire.
9. Berry, Nelson's first-lieutenant, was the first who got on board, by jumping into the enemy's mizen-chains; he was quickly followed by the soldiers of the 69th, who were on board, and Nelson himself was as quick as lightning on the enemy's deck. Resistance was soon overcome, they speedily hoisted the British colours on the poop; and, finding that the prize was severely galled by a fire from the decks of the San Josef, with which she was entangled, Nelson pushed on across it to its gigantic neighbour, himself leading the way, and exclaiming,
THE GREATEST SAILOR SINCE OUR WORLD BEGAN.”
“Westminster Abbey or victory!" Nothing could resist such enthusiastic courage; the Spanish admiral speedily hauled down his colours, presenting his sword to Nelson on his own quarter-deck, while the British ship lay a perfect wreck beside its two noble prizes.
10. Towards evening, the detached part of the Spanish
fleet rejoined the main body, and thereby formed a force still greatly superior to the British squadron; yet such was the consternation produced by the losses they had experienced, and the imposing aspect of the British fleet, that they made no attempt to regain their lost vessels, but, after a distant cannonade, retreated in the night towards Cadiz, whither they were immediately followed and blockaded by the victors.
11. This important victory, which delivered England from all fears of invasion, by preventing the threatened junction of the hostile fleets, was achieved with the loss of only three hundred men, of whom nearly one-half were on board Nelson's ship, while above five hundred were lost on board the Spanish ships which struck alone-a signal proof how much less bloody sea-fights are than those between land forces, and a striking example of the great effects which sometimes follow an inconsiderable expenditure of human life on that element, compared to the trifling results which attend fields of carnage in military warfare.
12. Admiral Jarvis followed the beaten fleet to Cadiz, whither they had retired in the deepest dejection, and with tarnished honour. The defeat of so great an armament by little more than half their number, and the evident superiority of skill and seamanship which it evinced in the British navy, filled all Europe with astonishment, and demonstrated on what doubtful grounds the Republicans rested their hopes of subduing these islands. The decisive nature of the victory was speedily evinced by the bombardment of Cadiz on three different occasions under the direction of Commodore Nelson; and although these attacks were more insulting than hurtful to the Spanish ships, yet they evinced the magnitude of the disaster which they had sustained, and inflicted a grievous wound on the pride of the Castilians.—Sir Archibald Alison.
Cape St. Vincent, a promontory on the S.W. of Portugal.
The Spanish fleet; the battle was fought on the 14th of February, 1797, at a time when Spain was in alliance with France in opposition to England. The Dutch had by this time been conquered by France.
Brest, the chief naval station of France on the Atlantic. It is in the department of Finisterre (Finistère) in the N.W. of the country. nothing daunted.--"Lord St. Vincent's expressions on this occasion as they neared the combined feet, and the numbers of the enemy were announced, were highly characteristic. He was walking the quarter deck when the successive ships were called out.
"There are eighteen sail of the line, Sir John!'— Very well, sir.' “There are twenty sail of the line, Sir John!'-' Very well, sir.' "There are twenty-five sail of the line, Sir John!'- Very well, sir.' “There are twenty-seven sail of the line, Sir John; near double our own.' 'Enough, sir—no m. re of that, sir: the die is cast: if there were fifty sail of the line, I will go through them.''
Captain Troubridge.-"So delighted was St. Vincent with this movement, that on seeing it he said: 'Look at Troubridge! he tacks his ship to battle as if the eyes of all England were upon him.""
Commodore Nelson.—Nelson's movement was in opposition to orders, though called for by change of circumstances. In the evening, when this was hinted by some one to St. Vincent, he answered, “It certainly was so; and if ever you commit such a breach of your orders, I will forgive you also.”
Cadiz, a great commercial city of Spain on the Isle of Leon in the south. It is strongly fortified and has one of the best harbours in Europe.
Castilians =Spanish. Old and New Castile were former provinces in the centre of Spain. Madrid, the capital of the country, is in a province of the same name, which is one of those into which New Castile was divided.
" THE GREATEST SAILOR SINCE OUR WORLD
PART II. —NELSON'S CAREER.
1. Horatio Nelson, who bore so glorious a part in these engagements, and was destined to leave a name immortal in the rolls of fame, was born at Birnam-Thorpe, in the county of Norfolk, on the 29th of September, 1758. He early evinced so decided a partiality for a sea life that,