Order of battle, signed by Cornwallis, during the blockade of Brest, 6 Feb 1804, addressed to Admiral Sir Thomas Graves of HMS 'Ganges' by William Cornwallis

Order of battle, signed by Cornwallis, during the blockade of Brest, 6 Feb 1804, addressed to Admiral Sir Thomas Graves of HMS 'Ganges'

William Cornwallis

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Order of battle, signed by Cornwallis, during the blockade of Brest, 6 Feb 1804, addressed to Admiral Sir Thomas Graves of HMS 'Ganges' by William Cornwallis zoom

Order of battle, signed by Cornwallis, during the blockade of Brest, 6 Feb 1804, addressed to Admiral Sir Thomas Graves of HMS 'Ganges'

On the resumption of war in 1803, Admiral William Cornwallis arguably held the most important position for British security - command of the Channel Fleet. With rumours rife about Napoleon's preparations for invasion, it was Cornwallis's fleet that was charged with preventing the French landing troops. This order of battle, showing how the fleet would line up in any large engagement, was drawn up for Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Graves, of the 'Foudroyant', who was the junior admiral in the central squadron. Many of the vessels here, including 'TÔòá┬«mÔòá┬«raire', 'Britannia' and 'Mars', would form part of the Mediterranean Fleet that fought at Trafalgar a year later.

The daily reality of naval life for the Channel Fleet was far removed from the impression of battle given here. It spent much of the war involved in the dull, repetitive task of blockading the French Brest fleet in port. Unglamorous as this was, by preventing the French from massing their ships together and thus gaining control of the Channel, Cornwallis and his squadron made a huge contribution towards winning the war against Napoleon.
William Cornwallis

  • Image reference: F3676

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