Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: After The Battle
Wednesday 23rd October 1805
Early this morning the weather subsided, and in Cadiz, the senior surviving Captain in the French fleet, Cosamo Kerjulien, seeing several drifting hulks, and little evidence of any British ships, decided to lead a sortie to try and recapture the prizes. Kerjulien headed the sortie in his own barely seaworthy ship Pluton, followed by the battleships Indomptable, Neptune, Rayo, and San Francisco de Asis. They were accompanied by five French frigates and two brigs, plus as many men as could be mustered.
When the French and Spaniards were seen coming out, Collingwood ordered the prizes to be detached and for his strongest ships to form line of battle.
However Kerjulien’s small force were able to recover two ships. One was the three-decker Santa Ana, with the wounded Admiral Alava on board. She was drifting inshore, within two miles of Cadiz, in tow of HMS Thunderer. Thunderer, had cast off Santa Ana, after withdrawing the British prize crew. The enemy were then able to retake possession of the Spanish ship and take her back into Cadiz. The second ship retaken was another Spaniard, Neptuno who, as previously mentioned, was adrift near the lighthouse at the entrance to Cadiz harbour. At 4.00 p.m, the French frigate Horteuse intercepted her and took her also successfully into Cadiz Bay, taking the all of the British crew prisoners
When Kerjulien and his ships left Cadiz harbour, a favourable moderate wind was blowing from the north-west. As soon as they left the harbour however, the wind swung so that it was blowing more from the south-west, and was again gaining in strength. It was now also raining, and visibility was poor.
The retaking of Santa Ana and Neptuno was all that Kerjulien was able to effect. Hardly had the Franco-Spanish squadron gained the offing, when down came the gale once more; and at the same time they became aware of the approach of Collingwood with ten sail of the line, formed up by signal to cover the prizes. Daunted by such a show of force, the Franco-Spaniards turned back and made for Cadiz again.
When Collingwood order the British ships to form up, HMS Conqueror, which had been towing Villeneuve’s flagship Bucentaure, let go of her. The ship drifted helplessly towards the shore, and despite attempts by the French and the British to re-take her, she struck the Puercos rocks, at the entrance to Cadiz harbour and within a mile of the ramparts, where she went to pieces. Most of those on board, including the British prize crew, were rescued by boats from two of the French ships. The captured British crew, were treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness at Cadiz, and sent back to Collingwood later on under a flag of truce.
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