Although privately censuring Palliser’s conduct, the Commander-in-Chief made no official complaint, and it was not until the matter got into the papers, through the talk of the fleet, that the difficulty began which resulted in the trial of both officers, early in the following year. After this, Keppel, being dissatisfied with the Admiralty’s treatment, intimated his wish to give up the command. The order to strike his flag was dated March 18th, 1779. He was not employed afloat again, but upon the change of administration in 1782 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, and so remained, with a brief intermission, until December, 1783.
It is perhaps necessary to mention that both British and French asserted, and assert to this day, that the other party abandoned the field. The point is too trivial, in the author’s opinion, to warrant further discussion of an episode the historical interest of which is very slight, though its professional lessons are valuable. The British case had the advantage—through the courts-martial—of the sworn testimony of twenty to thirty captains, who agreed that the British kept on the same tack under short sail throughout the night, and that in the morning only three French ships were visible. As far as known to the author, the French contention rests only on the usual reports.
[Footnote 38: Ante, pp. 61, 62.]
[Footnote 39: Testimony of Captains Hood, Robinson, and Macbride, and of Rear-Admiral Campbell, captain of the fleet to Keppel.]
[Footnote 40: See note on preceding page.]
[Footnote 41: A vessel is said to be on the port tack when she has the wind blowing on her port, or left side; on the starboard tack, when the wind is on the right side. Thus with an east wind, if she head north, she is on the starboard tack; if south, on the port.]
[Footnote 42: See also note; post, p. 200.]
[Footnote 43: Twenty-two degrees.]
[Footnote 44: Column and line ahead are equivalent terms, each ship steering in the wake of its next ahead.]
[Footnote 45: Forty-five degrees.]
[Footnote 46: Chevalier says, p. 89, “The English passed out of range” of these ships. As these ships had the wind, they had the choice of range, barring signals from their own admiral. In truth, they were obeying his order.]
[Footnote 47: This evidence of the captains of the Ocean and the Elizabeth contradicts Palliser’s charge that his ship was not adequately supported.]
[Footnote 48: It was actually quite equal, but this was due to an accidental explosion on board the Formidable.]
[Footnote 49: Chevalier. Probably later by the other times used in this account.]