A French fleet under General Hoche with Wolfe Tone, 43 vessels and 14,500 men sails from Brest in December and is scattered by storms; 36 ships arrive at Bantry Bay but do not attempt a landing and return to France, thus preventing what might have been an Irish/French victory over the English.
Wolfe Tone writes in near despair of efforts to land French invasion forces at Bantry Bay. High winds and storms would mean the planned landing would be aborted some days later.
“We are now, nine o’clock, at the rendezvous appointed; stood in for the coast till twelve, when we were near enough to toss a biscuit ashore; at twelve tacked and stood out again, so now we have begun our cruise of five days in all its forms, and shall, in obedience to the letter of our instructions, ruin the expedition, and destroy the remnant of the French navy, with a precision and punctuality which will be truly edifying.”
On 21 December 1796, the main force of the fleet arrived off Bantry Bay. However, the Fraternite, with commander-in-chief Hoche on board, never arrived. General Grouchy did not want to land without Hoche, so he ordered the ships to wait, a wait that led to the expedition being aborted. The weather turned against the French-Irish mission. On 23 December, gale force winds scattered twenty of the ships. The direction and strength of the winds now made it impossible for the ships to land.