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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

The Papal commander on his right and Veniero


Although

the Turks were having their own way, unopposed, and the situation was growing daily more critical, the Christian fleet was slow in assembling. For a whole month Veniero waited in Messina for the arrival of Don Juan and the Spanish squadrons. Philip, apparently, used one pretext after another to delay the prince, and once on his way Don Juan had to tarry at every stage of the journey to witness ceremonial fetes held in his honor. Philip acted in good faith as far as his preparations went, but he wanted to save his galleys for use against the Moors of the Barbary coast, which was nearer the ports of Spain, and was indifferent to the outcome of the quarrel between Venice and the Porte. Undoubtedly Doria and the other Spanish officers were fully informed of their royal master's desires in this expedition as in the one of the year before. They were to avoid battle if they could.

On August 25 Don Juan arrived at Messina and was joyously received by the city and the fleet. Nevertheless, it was the 12th of September before the decision was finally reached to seek out the Turkish fleet and offer battle. Fortunately Don Juan was a high-spirited youth who shared none of his brother's half-heartedness; he went to work to organize the discordant elements under his command into as much of a unit as he could, and to imbue them with the idea of aggressive action. In this spirit he was seconded by thousands of young nobles and soldiers of fortune from Spain and

Italy, who had flocked to his standard like the knight errants of the age of chivalry, burning to distinguish themselves against the infidel. Among these, oddly enough, was a young Spaniard, Cervantes, who was destined in later years to laugh chivalry out of Europe by his immortal "Don Quixote."

In order to knit together the three elements, Spanish, Venetian, and Papal, Don Juan so distributed their forces that no single squadron could claim to belong to any one nation. As the Venetian galleys lacked men, he put aboard them Spanish and Italian infantry. Before leaving Messina, he had given every commander written instructions as to his cruising station and his place in the battle line. The fighting formation was to consist of three squadrons of the line and one of reserve. The left wing was to be commanded by the Venetian Barbarigo; the center, by Don Juan himself, in the flagship _Real_, with Colonna, the Papal commander on his right and Veniero, the Venetian commander, on his left, in their respective flagships. The right wing was intrusted to Doria, and the reserve, amounting to about thirty galleys, was under the Spaniard, Santa Cruz. In front of each squadron of the line two Venetian galleasses were to take station in order to break up the formation of the Turkish advance. The total fighting force consisted of 202 galleys, six galleasses, and 28,000 infantrymen besides sailors and oarsmen.

The Venetian galleasses deserve special mention because they attracted considerable attention by the part they subsequently played in the action. Sometimes the word was applied to any specially large galley, but these represented something different from anything in either Christian or Turkish fleets. They were an attempt to reach a combination of galleon and galley, possessing the bulk, strength, and heavy armament of the former, together with the oar propulsion of the latter to render them independent of the wind. But like most, if not all, compromise types, the galleass was short-lived. It was clumsy and slow, being neither one thing nor the other. Most of the time on the cruise these galleasses had to be towed in order to keep up with the rest of the fleet. It is interesting to note that, despite the example of the _Galleon of Venice_ at Prevesa, there was not a single galleon in the whole force.


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