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though well conceived, was resultless. At 1 P.m.1 he signalled his fleet to wear in succession, and form the line of battle on the starboard tack (Fig. 2, F). This signal was not seen by the leading ship, which should have begun the movement. The junior French admiral, in the fourth ship from the van, at length went about, and spoke the flagship, to know what was the Commander-in-Chief's desire. D'Orvilliers explained that he wished to pass along the enemy's fleet from end to end, to leeward, because in its disordered state there was a fair promise of advantage, and by going to leeward — presenting his weather side to the enemy — he could use the weather lower-deck guns, whereas, in the then state of the sea, the lee lower ports could not be opened. Thus explained, the movement was executed, but the favourable moment had passed. It was not till 2.30 that the manoeuvre was evident to the British.
As soon as Keppel recognised his opponent's intention, he wore the Victory again, (d), a few minutes after 3 P.m., and stood slowly down, on the starboard tack off the wind, towards his crippled ships in the south-south-east, keeping aloft the signal for the line of battle, which commanded every manageable ship to get to her station (Fig. 3, C). As this deliberate movement was away from the enemy, (F), Palliser tried afterwards to fix upon it the stigma of flight, — a preposterous extravagancy. Harland put his division about at once and joined the Admiral. On this tack his station was ahead of the Victory, but in consequence of a message from Keppel he fell in behind her, to cover the rear until Palliser's division could repair damage and take their places. At 4 P.m. Harland's division was in the line. Palliser's ships, as they completed refitting, ranged themselves before or behind his flagship ; their captains considering, as they testified, that they took
1 Chevalier. Probably later by the other times used in this account.
station from their divisional commander, and not from the ship of the Commander-in-Chief. There was formed thus, on the weather quarter of the Victory, and a mile or two distant, a separate line of ships, constituting on this tack the proper rear of the fleet, and dependent for initiative on Palliser's flagship (Fig. 3, R). At 5 P.m. Keppel sent word by a frigate to Palliser to hasten into the line, as he was only waiting for him to renew the action, the French now having completed their manoeuvre. They had not attacked, as they might have done, but had drawn up under the lee of the British, their van abreast the latter's centre. At the same time Harland was directed to move to his proper position in the van, which he at once did (Fig. 3, V). Palliser made no movement, and Keppel with extraordinary — if not culpable — forbearance refrained from summoning the rear ships into line by their individual pennants. This he at last did about 7 P.m., signalling specifically to each of the vessels then grouped with Palliser, (except his own flagship), to leave the latter and take their posts in the line. This was accordingly done, but it was thought then to be too late to renew the action. At daylight the next morning, only three French ships were in sight from the decks; but the main body could be seen in the south-east from some of the mastheads, and was thought to be from fifteen to twenty miles distant.
Though absolutely indecisive, this was a pretty smart skirmish; the British loss being 133 killed and 373 wounded, that of the French 161 killed and 513 wounded. The general result would appear to indicate that the French, in accordance with their usual policy, had fired to cripple their enemy's spars and rigging, the motive-power. This would be consistent with d'Orvilliers' avowed purpose of avoiding action except under favourable circumstances. As the smoke thickened and confusion increased, the fleets had got closer together, and, whatever the intention, many shot found their way to the British hulls. Nevertheless, as the returns show, the number of men hit among the French was to the British nearly as 7 to 5. On the other hand, it is certain that the manoeuvring power of the French after the action was greater than that of the British.
Both sides claimed the advantage. This was simply a point of honour, or of credit, for material advantage accrued to neither. Keppel had succeeded in forcing d'Orvilliers to action against his will; d'Orvilliers, by a well-judged evolution, had retained a superiority of manoeuvring power after the engagement. Had his next signal been promptly obeyed, he might have passed again by the British fleet, in fairly good order, before it re-formed, and concentrated his fire on the more leewardly of its vessels. Even under the delay, it was distinctly in his power to renew the fight; and that he did not do so forfeits all claim to victory. Not to speak of the better condition of the French ships, Keppel, by running off the wind, had given his opponent full opportunity to reach his fleet and to attack. Instead of so doing, d'Orvilliers drew up under the British lee, out of range, and offered battle; a gallant defiance, but to a crippled foe.
Time was thus given to the British to refit their ships sufficiently to bear down again. This the French admiral should not have permitted. He should have attacked promptly, or else have retreated; to windward, or to leeward, as seemed most expedient. Under the conditions, it was not good generalship to give the enemy time, and to await his pleasure. Keppel, on the other hand, being granted this chance, should have renewed the fight; and here arose the controversy which set all England by the ears, and may be said to have immortalised this otherwise trivial incident. Palliser's division was to windward from 4 to 7 P.m., while the signals were flying to form line of battle, and to bear