Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/328

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[q. v.] to reinforce Sir John Jervis [q. v.] He joined Jervis a few days before the battle of St. Vincent, in which the Orion had a brilliant share. Continuing with Jervis (now Earl of St. Vincent) off Cadiz, in May 1798 Saumarez was detached into the Mediterranean with Sir Horatio Nelson (afterwards Lord Nelson) [q. v.], and was the senior captain in the battle of the Nile, where the Orion had thirteen killed and twenty-nine wounded. Saumarez himself was severely bruised on the side by a splinter.

When the prizes were refitted after the battle, Saumarez, with them and the greater part of the fleet, was ordered back to Gibraltar. Being becalmed off Malta, he was visited by a deputation of the Maltese, who represented to him that the French garrison were in great distress and would almost certainly surrender if summoned. A summons was accordingly sent in, but was scornfully rejected, and Saumarez, contenting himself with supplying the Maltese with arms and ammunition, went on to Gibraltar. Thence he was ordered to Plymouth, where the Orion, being in need of a thorough repair, was paid off. For each of the actions of St. Vincent and the Nile Saumarez received the gold medal, and from the city of London, for the last, a piece of plate of the value of 200l.

He was shortly afterwards appointed to the Cæsar of 84 guns, the first two-decked ship of that force built in England; and in her he joined the fleet off Brest under the command of Lord St. Vincent. On 1 Jan. 1801 he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and, with his flag in the Cæsar, continued till June with the Brest fleet, in command of the inshore squadron. He was then sent home to prepare for foreign service. On 13 June he was created a baronet, and on the 14th sailed for Cadiz, which he was instructed to blockade. On 5 July he received intelligence of a French squadron from Toulon, bound out of the Mediterranean, having been constrained by contrary winds to put into Gibraltar Bay. Leaving the Superb, then newly arrived from England, to keep watch on the Spanish ships at Cadiz, he immediately proceeded to Gibraltar Bay, having with him six ships of the line. On the morning of the 6th he found the French squadron of three ships of the line and a frigate moored close inshore off Algeciras, under the protection of heavy batteries on the mainland and a small islet adjacent. Saumarez determined to attack at once, but unfortunately the wind prevented his ships from getting in so close as to bar the fire of the batteries, from which they suffered severely. In endeavouring to get closer in, the Hannibal took the ground. All efforts to get her off were unavailing; and after being pounded into a wreck, and having eighty-one killed and sixty-two wounded, she was obliged to surrender. The loss in the other ships too was very heavy, and all—especially the Cæsar—sustained much damage. After persevering in the attack for five hours Saumarez withdrew to Gibraltar, leaving the Hannibal in the hands of the enemy.

The ships were employed refitting when they were joined by the Superb, driven before the Spanish squadron from Cadiz, which now joined the French at Algeciras. By great exertions the English ships were got ready, and when the combined squadron, now consisting of nine ships of the line, exclusive of the Hannibal, put to sea on the 12th, Saumarez followed them and inflicted on them a decisive defeat, destroying two Spanish three-deckers, capturing a French two-decker, and driving the rest in headlong rout into Cadiz [see Keats, Sir Richard Goodwin; Hood, Sir Samuel]. For his conduct on this occasion Saumarez was nominated a K.B., with the insignia of which he was invested at Gibraltar by the lieutenant-governor. He also received the freedom of the city of London, together with a sword, a pension of 1,200l., and the thanks of both houses of parliament, moved in the House of Lords by St. Vincent and seconded by Nelson, who, after speaking of the reverse at Algeciras, said: ‘The promptness with which he refitted, the spirit with which he attacked a superior force after his recent disaster, and the masterly conduct of the action, I do not think were ever surpassed.’

On the renewal of the war in 1803, Saumarez was appointed to the command of the Guernsey station, in which he continued, living for the most part on shore in his own house, till 7 Jan. 1807. He was then promoted to be vice-admiral, and appointed second in command of the fleet off Brest. In August he applied to be superseded, and in March 1808 was appointed to the command of a strong squadron sent to the Baltic, which he continued to hold for the next five years, returning to England each winter. This fleet, sent in the first instance to support the Swedes against the Danes and Russians [see Hood, Sir Samuel; Martin, Sir Thomas Byam; Maurice, James Wilkes], afterwards strengthened the attitude of the Baltic powers, and by ensuring to the Russians free communication by sea, which it absolutely denied to the French invaders, had an influence on the result of the