A truce was Kutuzov's sole chance of gaining time, giving Bagration's exhausted troops some rest, and letting the transport and heavy convoys (whose movements were concealed from the French) advance if but one stage nearer Znaim.
In the past the mobile columns, of which there were over sixty in the field, had always been bound to the railway for supply; now convoys could be pushed out to them along whatever blockhouse line they touched.
Tromp was also most intent on collecting the homecoming Dutch convoys, and seeing them safe into port.
De Ruyter was sent into the Channel to convoy the outward-bound convoys, and meet the home-coming trade.
On the 18th of February 1653 the Dutch admiral, who had now collected the homeward-bound convoys, was off Plymouth on his way back to Holland, and was attacked by the English fleet.