By Gregory Freemont-Barnes

At the evening of August 1, 1798, a British fleet less than the command of Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson met a French fleet below the command of Admiral François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers. through morning the British had received a near-complete victory: purely of the thirteen French ships-of-the-line escaped and the remainder have been both captured or destroyed. It used to be the 1st significant self reliant victory of Nelson's occupation yet extra importantly it crippled the French attempt in Africa by way of denying them entry to the suplies and help from the ocean. This publication makes use of the newest study, new maps and especially commissioned paintings to inform the tale of 1 of the good sea battles of the Napoleonic era.

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The Swiftsure, under Captain Hallowell, determined not to fire until she had furled her sails and anchored at a predetermined station. This proved a sensible decision, for Hallowell nearly fired on a ship that was showing no lights, but decided against it for he was determined to adhere to his original instructions. In the event, the ship in question proved to be the Bellerophon, by that time bearing heavy scars from her exchanges with L'Orient. Amidst the darkness and gloom created by smoke, Hallowell dropped anchor just after 2000hrs and opened fire two minutes later.

National Maritime Museum, PW4695) A quarter of an hour later the Audacious, captained by Davidge Gould, followed, bringing down the Guerrier's mainmast with three broadsides as the British ship passed, though after the battle other captains, especially Miller, claimed credit for the feat. With a gap available between the Guerrier and the next astern, Conquerant, Audacious occupied it and anchored. Next, the Onow, under Saumarez, came round the French position by passing the Zealous and thus getting even closer inshore, though without incident.

As we entered the bay we stripped to our trousers, opened our ports, cleared [for action], and every ship we passed gave them a broadside and three cheers. Any information we got was from the boys and women who carried the powder. They behaved as well as the men. In Brueys' fleet, meanwhile, the day had opened with no expectation of a British attack, partly owing to the admiral's failure to dispatch frigates outside the bay to detect any signs of an enemy approach. Nothing, therefore, seemed to militate against efforts to alleviate the fleet's shortage of water, and hence working parties had been sent ashore to sink holes for a fresh supply.

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