Captain George Duff

Born 1764
Died in command of H M S Mars 21st October 1805


To his wife


Mars, at Sea, May 24[, 1805]

On Tuesday morning, after we were under weigh [sic], I finished my letter to my ever dearest Sophia, and sent it on board the Montagu, which was lying in Caswand Bay, to be forwarded to the post office.  The next morning we joined the fleet under Lord Gardner, and stood very close into Brest, that the French should see our force; which consisted of 31 sail of the line, besides frigates: and I suppose we should have left the fleet that night, but a frigate, I believe la Loire, joined us, and made the signal that she had been chased by five line-of-battle ships.  Upon this our Admiral was called on board the Commander in Chief.  Admiral Collingwood, in the Dreadnought, with the Ramillies, Tonnant, Colossus, Achille, Illustrious, Bellerophon, Minotaur, Mars and the Endymion frigate, bore up to the westward.  As there was no communication, unless by signal, I could not write;  but from the course we are steering there is little doubt we are going off Cadiz.   

Sunday evening, May 26[, 1805]

 I went on board our Admiral today, as it was calm, and like a good boy staid there to church, as I have no Parson here.  I find it was la Loire that joined the fleet.  She fell in with the Rochefort squadron on their return from the West Indies, so that I hope we shall now have no chance of going there.   This evening we saw five sail, and I believe one of them is the Royal Sovereign, our good friend Sir Richard Bickerton.   

June 2[, 1805]

On Monday morning I went on board the Admiral, and met our good old friend Sir Richard; and as he had a brig with him, that he was going to send to England, I wrote a few lines by her, which will convince you that our destination is Cadiz; and I have great hopes that we may pick up something after all.  Sir Richard is well, but has not seen his wife since January, 1804.  I was very glad I had a fine piece of roasting beef remaining; which, with some vegetables, and a little nice butter, I sent to the worthy Baronet.   He is gine to join Sir Robert Calder off Ferrol.   

June 9[, 1805]

Yesterday morning we got sight of Cadiz, and are now close in.  We see, I think, only three ships of the line at anchor in the bay.  We were joined yesterday morning by the Acasta, Seahorse, two other frigates, and two brigs, which have been cruising off here.  The Ramillies and Illustrious have parted company with us: and from the course they were steering, when we saw them last, I have little doubt are going to the West Indies.

I have heard that the Spaniards expect a line-of-battle ship and a frigate home with money; so we must keep a good look out for them.  I hope therefore to be able to desire you to look out for a country house, and to order a carriage to be built for us.   



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Updated at  19:11 on 12 March 2008