CALDER Sir Robert - Autograph Letter Signed 1812
Sir Robert CALDER (1745-1818)
Autograph Letter Signed (“Robt Calder”) to “My dear Bickerton” [Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton], asking him to allow Captain Smith of the Orestes to visit Southampton for three days.
1 page 4to with integral address leaf, Plymouth, 30 May 1812.
“This will be delivered to you by Captain Smith of the Orestes, one of my Couriers, whose Father lives at Southampton and I will thank you to let him go there for three days when he will return to Plymouth – he is a very steady young man . . .”
Admiral Sir Robert Calder had been present at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, and was well thought of by his colleagues. This changed after his failure to pursue the French Admiral Villeneuve at the indecisive battle of Cape Finisterre in July 1805, and Calder returned to England to face a court martial. He was reprimanded for not pursuing the action, but cleared of cowardice. Calder did not see active service again; in 1810 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief at Plymouth.
In fact, it was the engagement at Cape Finisterre which caused Villeneuve to sail not to Brest, as he should have done had Napoleon’s plan for the invasion of England been put into action, but towards Cadiz. Three months after the battle of Cape Finisterre, Villeneuve confronted Nelson at Trafalgar and French plans for the invasion of England were abandoned. Nelson is reputed to have said, as the battle of Trafalgar commenced, “What would poor Calder give to be with us now.”
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