Sir James Saumarez's squadron preparing to pursue the combined squadron of France and Spain, 12 July 1801
Showing Saumarez's squadron of five two-deckers and two frigates preparing to weigh from Gibraltar to re-engage the Franco-Spanish combined fleet of two of 112 guns, one of 94, three of 80, four of 74, plus frigates etc., 12 July 1801. Some of the ships are named, with other details, along the bottom of the image. Saumarez had taken over the blockade of Cadiz in June, but lifted it when he learnt that Linois had left Toulon to reinforce the Spaniards but had been forced to shelter under the guns of Algeciras, across the bay from Gibraltar. Leaving only Richard Keats in the 'Superb' off Cadiz (probably because Keats failed to see signals) he moved quickly south and boldly but unsuccessfully attacked Linois there on 6 July. Saumarez's ships took serious damage and the 'Hannibal' (74) went aground and had to surrender as he was forced to retreat across the bay to Gibraltar. 'Superb' then arrived there from off Cadiz pursued by nine Spaniards and the captured 'Hannibal' and, after very rapid refitting, Saumarez again weighed against the much superior combined enemy on the 12th. Sending the fresh 'Superb' ahead he re-engaged them in a night action, in which two Spaniards managed to set each other on fire and sink, and Saumarez took one French ship, without British loss. The event, often referred to as 'Saumarez's action in the Straits', earned him a knighthood and was the high point of his fighting career as a fleet commander, though his later command in the Baltic (1808-1812) was of greater diplomatic and political importance.
Original size: 518 x 658 mm
- Image reference: PY7992
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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