The breeze from the west still continued, but it was light, and the fleets made but little headway during the day.
On Tuesday, July 23d, a strong morning breeze sprang up from the east, and the Spaniards found themselves for the first time to the windward. Taking advantage of the situation, they bore down upon the English fleet, and tried to bring on a general engagement. This challenge the English would not accept, and stood out to sea toward the west. The Spaniards thought they were retreating, and gave chase. All the galleons were bad sailers, but some were better than others, and soon the San Marcus outstripped her consorts. When several miles ahead of all her companions the wind shifted to the west, leaving the English to the windward.
Lord Howard immediately bore down in his flag-ship, the Ark, and attacked the San Marcus, but she defended herself with great bravery, and for an hour and a half fought single-handed, delivering eighty shots and receiving five hundred. His powder again giving out, Lord Howard was obliged to withdraw. This action was fought off Plymouth Harbor, so that in the three days' fight the Armada had made no substantial progress toward its destination.
"By this time the news that the Armada was in the Channel had circulated throughout the length and breadth of England, and from every creek and port and harbor came accession of goodly ships, equipped at the cost of leading squires and nobles, and manned by her 'best blood.' From Lyme and Weymouth and Poole and the Isle of Wight, young lords and gentlemen came streaming out in every smack or sloop they could lay hold of, to snatch their share of danger and glory at Howard's side. The strength which they were able to add was little or nothing, but they brought enthusiasm; they brought to the half-starved crews the sense that the heart of all England was with them, and this assurance transformed every seaman into a hero".
"On Tuesday evening, after the fight, Medina Sidonia counted a hundred sail behind him, and he observed, with some uneasiness, that the numbers were continually increasing. On Wednesday, July 24th, the weather was calm, and the English lay idle at a short distance from the Armada waiting for powder".
"Thursday, July 25th, was the feast-day of Spain's patron saint, St. Jago; of him who, mounted on a milk-white steed, had ridden in fore-front of battle in one of the Spanish encounters with the Moors, and had led them to victory. Should nothing on this holy day be done in his honor by those whom he had so greatly favored? It was decided to make an attack. The galleys led the way, and in their van rode three of the four great galliasses, thrashing the sea to foam with three hundred oars apiece. The English met them with such tremendous discharges of chain-shot that, had not the wind risen about noon, enabling the Spanish ships to come up to their assistance, the galleys would surely have been taken. When the lord admiral withdrew his ships, the Spaniards were so cowed that they made no attempt to pursue them."
"Thus," says Canon Kingsley, "the fight had thundered on the live-long afternoon, beneath the virgin cliffs of Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight, while myriad sea fowl rose screaming from every ledge, and with their black wings spotted the snow-white walls of chalk; and the lone shepherd hurried down the slopes above to peer over the dizzy ledge, and forgot the wheat-ear fluttering in his snare, while, trembling, he gazes upon glimpses of tall masts and gorgeous flags, piercing at times the league-broad veil of sulphur-smoke which weltered far below."
Interesting Facts and Information about
the Elizabethan Age and The Spanish Armada