Sir Robert Calder’s Action

By Nicholas Tracy, published August 1991


Ordered to “cruise for the enemy” west of Cape Finisterre, without strategic advice, Sir Robert Calder’s squadron of ten battleships made contact with Vice Admiral Villeneauve’s Franco-Spanish squadron returning from the West Indies. Signalling for “battle of the closest order” Calder kept between the allied fleet and their port and engaged a superior force from leeward. In a confused encounter in foggy weather both squadrons encountered damage, until Calder signalled to discontinue action for the night. The next day however, Calder, from a position of strength, showed no eagerness to renew the action. At his subsequent court martial it was found that he had not made every effort to re-engage the enemy, but it was accepted that the cause was an error of judgement. Vice Admiral Sir Robert Calder was reprimanded accordingly.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies

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