CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNT OF THE "GLORIOUS FIRST OF JUNE" FROM THE "ROYAL SOVEREIGN"
(Charles Maurice, 2nd Lieutenant of HMS Royal Sovereign)
Handwritten list of the "English Lines of Battle" for the actions of 29th May and 1st June 1794
with the accompanying Account of the battle addressed to "My Lords", acquainting them with the "particular occurrences that reflect so much Honour on the Skill of our Naval Commanders & on the Bravery of our Seamen ... if your Lordship shall receive the smallest Gratification in their perusal (for I pledge my word on the truth of them) my intentions will be fulfilled & the honour I shall have in throwing my name into your Lordship's notice, I shall esteem a sufficient reward. On the 28th May ... 200 leagues WBS from Ushant ... the French Fleet were discovered bearing SWBS standing under an easy sail to the Westwards, 31 sail altogether ... we stood on till we brought them abaft our Beam & then tacked in succession (our Fleet were formed in the usual order of sailing in two lines, 11 line of Battle Ships in each, Adml Pasley in the Bellerophon, with the Russell, Marlborough and Thunderer about 4 miles to windward) ... the French Fleet were employed in forming their line, which consequently brought them to Leewards & near enough for us to see the upper part of their Sails. At noon they began to tack in succession, but as the wind freshen'd & the Sea got up several of their Ships were forced to wear, which still made them near us. They range themselves along with 25 sail of the Line, & have 6 Frigates to Windwards of their Fleet, as they tacked they made all possible sail as if they wished to avoid us. Our Fleet under double reef'd Topsails & Courses, as much as they could carry. Adml Pasley's squadron with some of our Frigates about halfway between the French Fleet & the Body of ours. At 2 the Admiral made the signal for them to harass their rear. Their Fleet do not appear in good order ... signal for a general chace[sic] was made & for our ships to engage as they came up ... The Russell & Latona firing occasionally ... at 6 Adml Pasley with his squadron drawing up to their rear began cannonading them ... The Bellerephon most gallantly & almost without intermission ... engaging & harassing them till past 8, when the signal for forming the line of battle .. was made by the Charlotte ... as the Audacious (of Our Fleet) was missing in the morng we have reason to hope the French Ship has fallen to her & that they have parted company together .... (Their Ship we afterwards learnt was the Revolutionnaire of 110 Guns) ... The enemy carried no lights during the first part of the night, at 11 they fired 5 Guns as signals. At daylight on the 29th the 2 fleets were ranged abreast of each other ... At 10 the French Admiral hove too for ten minutes ... he made the signal to engage & their headmost ships began firing on those advanced in our Line, at least a mile distant. As the van of each Fleet closed the action ... cannonade became pretty general ... The 2 Fleets continued closing & firing on each other till 4 o'clock ..." continuing about pursuing a disabled ship "by this last manoeuvre we obtained the weather gage but as the evening was closing fast in, they were not brought to a general action. The Queen ... in passing and repassing the French line was so much cut up in her sails & rigging as to fall so far to Leewards that she was alone ... & threatened to be cut off by the enemy's van, but on some of our ships edging down to her, they gave up their intention ... their disabled ships joining them ... on the morning of the 30th the weather became so very thick that only a few of our own ships could be seen ... on the question being asked this morning what ships were damaged in yesterday's action we found the Queen & Invincible were much, & the R. George, Russel, Valiant, Marlbro', Bellerophon, Orion, Caesar & ourselves were somewhat disabled, the rest of the Fleet not at all. We continued edging down towards them ... We heard the Enemy's Fleet but little during the time we run down for them, as they kept away as much as ourselves as the Fog came on ... the morning of the 31st it became tolerably clear, when we discovered all our Fleet except the Q. Charlotte & 4 Line of Battle ships, this threw us into a state of anxiety very unpleasant (imagining that the 4 Guns we heard yesterday afternoon in the Fog, were as a signal for some change of course which we have misunderstood). After a few hours ... the missing ships were seen ... we all rejoined & formed the order of sailing ... at 5 the Admiral make the Signal for the Van and Centre to prepare to engage the Enemy ... they seemed disposed to avoid us so that when the day closed they were at least 4 miles to Leeward of us. Their crippled ships of which there appear to be 7 they have put in all in the centre of their Fleet & have made their Van and rear as strong as possible. The position of the 2 Fleets .. as follows. The French Fleet formed in a most excellent Line of Battle to Leeward with 26 Sail of the Line about 4 miles off. Our Headmost Ships abreast of their Centre. Our Fleet are formed in a Line of Battle aheads keeping their wind. The Enemy's Fleet going about 2 points from it so that by the morning we must widen from each other. Two of their Frigates ... are placed about midway between the 2 Fleets to watch our motions ... in the morning ... we bore down on them from 4 o'clock of the morning of the 1 June, in a Bow & Quarter Line, they lying to to receive us ... the Admiral made the signal for each ship to bear down on her opponents ... they opened a well directed & very hot fire on us. As we were in a position to be raked by them we made our people lie down at their Quarters, & when at the distance of about 3 cables length & our ships abreast of theirs we began a most severe & hot action which continued unceasingly till ½ past 12. The French Admiral in the Montagne seeing that the Van of his Fleet threatened to be cut up very much, left his situation in the centre & pressed on to give them support ... they collected together and stood from us, keeping in as good a Body as the crippled state of their Ships would allow. Our Fleet ... took possession of 7 of the Enemy's Fleet, that were dismasted & lying as hulks on the water ... The Marlboro' & Defence (the only 2 Ships of our Fleet totally dismasted) were towed away by our Frigates & left in Safety. The scene that now was display'd on the water tho' such as to gladden the heart of every Englishman who survived to see it, was nevertheless such as to make the most unfeeling heart soften at the consequences attending on Battles. Masts (for there was scarce s ship in either Fleet but what lost one or two) Yards, dead men, wrecks, ships demasted & sinking, the British Fleet remaining on the Field, whilst that of the French were running ... exhibited I suppose one of the most awful & at the same time most grand spectacles that the Canvas has ever exhibited or the Imagination ever conceived ... Le Vengeur of 74 Guns ... went down, there was not time to save more than half her Crew ... The French Fleet got out of sight .. we continued lying too for three days (to put our own Ships and our Prizes to rights) ..." ending with some more details about the end of the battle, he has then made lists of the "Lines of Battle", listing the English Ships and their Commanders, describing the condition of the various Ships and another page describes "The French Navy out of the Mediterranean", listing the names of the Ships, their guns, their condition and if they were taken when and where, and also lists ships in other locations and finally he describes "The French Fleet return'd to Brest about the 11th of June. In Condition as under, 19 Sail of Line", in total 8 sides 4to., "Royal Sovereign at Sea". 11th June