Scarce Set of five aquatint engravings by Hubert & Stadler from drawings by Captain Jahleel Brenton
London, Published January 1, May 13 & 19, 1802 by E. Harding, No. 98 Pall Mall, for the Benefit of the Widows and Orphans of those brave men who fought and fell on that Glorious Occasion. Image size: 17 x 24 ¾ in / 430 x 630 mm, bound in half morocco over cream boards, morocco label.
On June 13 th , 1801 Rear-Admiral Comte de Linois, with a French squadron of three ships of line and a frigate, put to sea from Toulon, bound to Cadiz to join a fleet of six sail of the line. Having learnt that Cadiz was blockaded by a superior British force, Linois bore up for Algeciras and on July 4 th moored off the town. The British squadron stationed off Cadiz at this time consisted of:
Caesar (80 guns)
Rear-Admiral Sir J. Saumarez & Captain J. Brenton Venerable (74)
Captain S. Hood Superb (74)
Captain R.G. Keats Audacious (74)
Captain S. Peard Pompee (74)
Captain C. Stirling Hannibal (74)
Captain S. Ferris Spencer (74)
Captain H. d`E. Darby Thames (32)
Captain A.P. Hollis Carlotta (Portuguese)
Captain C. Duncan Calpe (14)
Commander Hon. G.H. Dundas Louisa (8)
Lieutenant F. Truscott
Informed of the approach of the French ships on the 6th Sir James Saumarez with his squadron waited in anticipation off the Algeciras Roads. Having rounded Cabareta Point, the signal was made to engage and the action was commenced with great fury, the enemy being materially assisted by both the batteries on the shore and fourteen Spanish gunboats. The Hannibal , owing to the strength of the current, swung round on her anchor, was grounded and captured. The partial and failing nature of the breeze, however, prevented the other vessels from entering into full engagement together. Linois thus ordered his ships to run ashore where they were out of range of the guns of the British squadron, which then withdrew and returned to Gibraltar to refit. The British reported losses of 121 killed and 240 wounded, the majority of these being from the crew of the Hannibal . The French casualties amounted to 306 killed and 280 wounded.
After refloating his ships, Admiral Linois was joined on the 8th by Vice-Admiral Don Juan de Moreno with six sail of the line, and together they repaired to the outer road. This movement was observed by Captain Keats of the Superb , who, together with the Thames and Paisley, had continued to watch the port. Back at Gibraltar officers and crew of the British ships had worked day and night to refit their vessels, anxious to share in the expected fight. On the 11th preparations for sailing were observed among the enemy, and on the 12th they began to move. In response at 3 p.m. the flag of Sir John Saumarez was rehoisted in the Caesar , the signal made to weigh and prepare for battle, and the British squadron bore away in chase. The Superb , the fleetest of the British ships , soon overtook and engaged the St. Antoine , which was obliged to surrender. Night having fallen by now, the San Hermenegildo , mistook the Real Carlos for an enemy, fired into her, and set her on fire. The two ships then proceeded to get foul of each other, whereupon both in a short while blew up with nearly all on board. The British squadron continued the chase but were unable to prevent the remaining ships of the combined fleets standing in for Cadiz.
The total casualties suffered by the enemy were not ascertained, but they had lost three ships, two by fire and one by capture, as opposed to one ship ( Hannibal) captured from the British. The action is, nevertheless, always chronicled in French history as a glorious victory for France. Linois`s exaggerated report of the engagement whereby the then smaller French force had driven off the sustained fire of the British ships was accepted by the French government as a creditable event. On the British side, however, Sir James Saumarez for his promptitude in striking at a force largely in excess of his own, for the quickness with which he had refitted his squadron, and for the gallantry which he had displayed in pursuing and in beating a numerically superior squadron, was created a Knight of the Bath and had a pension of £1,200 per annum conferred upon him.
Sir Jahleel Brenton (1770 – 1844) was a British admiral born into a loyalist family on Rhode Island, USA. After suffering the loss of their property in the insurrection of the American colonies the family emigrated back to England where Jahleel and his two brothers joined their father in the navy. Jahleel, the eldest child, went to sea first with his father in 1781 and on the return of peace was sent to the maritime school at Chelsea. Promoted to lieutenant but seeing no chance of employment he first served in the Swedish navy against the Russians. In 1790 he received his commission and returned home. Till 1799 he served as lieutenant, or acting commander, mostly under Earl St Vincent, and was present in the battle from which the admiral received his title. As commander of the brig Speedy he won much distinction in actions with Spanish gunboats in the Straits of Gibraltar. In 1800 he was promoted to post-captain followed by the rank of flag-captain to Sir James Saumarez. After commanding a succession of frigates in 1803 he had the misfortune to be wrecked on the coast of France where he remained imprisoned until released in an exchange. He was created a baronet in 1812 and KCB in 1815 but was unable to bear sea service again following a serious injury sustained during an engagement with a flotilla of Franco Neapolitan vessels off Naples in 1801. He became commissioner of the dockyard at Port Mahon, and then at the Cape. Reaching flag rank in 1830 he became lieutenant governor of Greenwich hospital until retiring in 1840.