George the Third - from A.D. 1760 to A.D. 1782.

On George the Third coming to the throne in 1760 he found the nation still at war with France.

Among the gallant men actively employed at this time, whose names were long as household words both in the navy and on shore, were Lord Anson, Sir Edward Hawke, Admiral Rodney, Captain Alexander Hood, Commodore Keppell, Captain Faulkner, Captain the Honourable Keith Stuart, Captain Richard Howe, afterwards Earl Howe, Captains Shuldham, Sir Hugh Palliser, the Honourable John Byron, Peter Parker, and Samuel Barrington.

The fleets of England were at this time distributed much, as at the present time, under flag-officers. The Nore, the Channel Fleet, the Mediterranean, Lisbon, North America, Newfoundland, the West Indies, the Leeward Islands, Jamaica, the East Indies, and occasionally on the coast of Africa.

We have numerous proofs that British seamen gained their victories as much by their proficiency in gunnery and their activity as by their strength and courage. Of this there are numberless instances, among others the following. In 1761, on the evening of the 13th of August, the Bellona, of 74 guns, and a crew of 550 men, Captain Robert Faulkner, and the Brilliant, a 36-gun frigate, Captain James Logie, on their passage from Lisbon to England, being off Vigo, came in sight of three large ships. The strangers were the French 74-gun ship Courageux, of 700 men, and the 36-gun frigates Hermione and Malicieuse. In consequence of seeing the British ships through the magnifying medium of a hazy atmosphere, they concluded that they were both line of battle ships, and dreading the issue of an engagement, took to flight. Captain Faulkner on this, suspecting them to be enemies, immediately made sail in chase, and kept them in sight all night. At daylight the next morning he and his consort were about five miles from the two ships, when the largest, throwing out a signal, took in her studding-sail, wore round, and stood for the Bellona. The two frigates at the same time closed, and at six brought the Brilliant to action. Captain Logie determined to find so much for them to do that theBellona should have the Courageux to herself. So vigorously did he work his guns that the frigates received such injury in their sails and rigging as to be compelled to sheer off to repair damages. As the water was smooth and a light wind only blowing, the contest become one of simple gunnery. At half-past six the Bellona was closely engaged with the French 74. In nine minutes both their mizen-masts fell overboard, while theBellona’s braces, shrouds, and rigging were much cut up. Captain Faulkner, fearing that the enemy would seize the opportunity to sheer off, gave orders for immediately boarding, but the Courageux, falling athwart the bow of his ship, rendered this impracticable. The Bellona might now have been seriously raked fore and aft, but Captain Faulkner immediately set all his studding-sails to wear the ship round, when the crew flew to their guns on the side now opposed to the enemy, from which they fired away with so much rapidity for twenty minutes as almost to knock theCourageux to pieces, while the two frigates were unable, in consequence of the gallant way in which they were kept at bay by Captain Logie, to render her any assistance. Unable to withstand this unremitting fire, the Courageux hauled down her colours, her crew crying for quarter. The two frigates on this bore away and got off. Considerable as was the damage done to the Bellona in her rigging, she had suffered very little in the hull, and had lost only 6 killed and 25 wounded; while the Courageux had her foremast and bowsprit alone standing, her decks torn up in several places, and large breaches made in her sides; 220 of her men being killed, and half that number wounded, among whom was her captain, Dugué L’Ambert. The Brilliant lost her master and 5 men killed and 16 wounded. The Courageux had on board 8500 pounds in specie. She was carried by her captor into Lisbon to be refitted, and was added to the British Navy under the same name. Proverbially thoughtless as are British seamen, they have ever shown themselves equally kind and generous to those in distress. On this occasion the French crew being found destitute of means for their support when at Lisbon, a subscription was raised on board the Bellona and Brilliant, as well as among the merchants on shore, to enable them to return to France.

Still further improvements being made in Mr Harrison’s timekeeper for finding the longitude at sea, the Deptford, of 50 guns, was sent out with the inventor on board. She made the island of Maderia at the exact time which he pointed out, and from thence proceeded to Jamaica, making that island with equal accuracy. On his return he found that the instrument had lost only 1 minute, 54 and a half seconds.

This year also the experiment for coppering ships’ bottoms as a preservation against worms was introduced into the Royal Navy, and tried on theAlarm frigate, of 32 guns.

Another act of humanity deserves to be recorded. In November, 1762, Captain Clarke, commanding the Sheerness, of 24 guns, being closely pursued by five French ships of war, took refuge in the neutral bay of Villa Franca. One of the enemy’s ships, La Minerva, continued the pursuit, and by way of bravado running in between the Sheerness and the land, attempted to anchor. In doing this she was driven on the rocks, and the sea running high was soon dashed to pieces. On this, although the other four ships were approaching, Captain Clarke, with much humanity, sent in his boats, and saved the greater part of her crew, twenty-five only perishing, although the whole would otherwise have been lost. Struck by this generous act, the French commodore went on board the Sheerness to thank Captain Clarke for the relief he had offered his distressed countrymen.

To the credit of the Spaniards, it must be told how they on another occasion exhibited much good-feeling. Two ships, the Lord Clive andAmbuscade, had been sent out to attack the Spanish settlements on the River Plate in South America. During the action the first blew up; her commander, and the whole crew, excepting seventy-eight, perishing. They, escaping the flames, swam to the shore, when instead of being looked upon as enemies who came to plunder the settlement, the Spaniards treated them with the greatest tenderness, and furnished them with clothes and every necessary refreshment.

On the 6th of June, 1762, Lord Anson died, and was succeeded as First Lord of the Admiralty by the Earl of Halifax.

The king’s ships were especially fortunate in their captures this year. In the Mediterranean a rich Spanish ship from Barcelona, with 100,000 dollars on board, was taken; and the Active frigate, Captain Sawyer, and the Favourite sloop of war, Captain Pownall, while on a cruise off Cadiz, captured the Hermione, a large Spanish register ship from Lima. She was the richest prize made during the war, the net proceeds of her cargo amounting to 519,705 pounds, 10 shillings. The admiral received 64,000 pounds; the captain of the Active, 65,000 pounds; three commissioned officers of that ship, 13,800 pounds each; eight warrant officers, 4000 pounds each; twenty petty officers, 1800 pounds each; and each seaman and marine, 485 pounds. The officers and crew of the Favourite received in the same proportion. On arriving at Portsmouth the treasure was sent up to London in twenty waggons, decorated with the British colours flying over those of Spain, and escorted by a party of seamen. At Hyde Park corner they were joined by a troop of light horse, and proceeded through the city, amidst the acclamations of the people, to the Tower.

The Seven Years’ War with France and Spain was now brought to a conclusion, and peace was signed at Fontainebleau on the 3rd of November. England was now possessed of the most powerful fleet in the world, while her resources were comparatively undiminished. By means chiefly of her navy, she had gained the whole of the provinces of Canada, the islands of Saint John and Cape Breton, the navigation of the river Mississippi, and that part of Louisiana which lies on the east of that river, the town of New Orleans excepted, permission to cut logwood and to build houses in the Bay of Honduras, and the province of Florida—though she had to restore the Havannah and its dependencies to Spain, as well as Martinico, Guadaloupe, Marie Galante, and Saint Lucia to France—while she was to retain the Grenadas and Grenadines, with the neutral islands of Dominica, Saint Vincent, and Tobago. In Europe she regained the island of Minorca and gave up that of Belleisle. In Africa she retained Senegal and restored Gorée. In Asia all her conquests made from France were restored, with the restriction that France was not to erect fortifications in the province of Bengal, and the fortifications of Dunkirk were to be demolished.

Popular as had been the war, Parliament had only voted 70,000 men for the navy, though in order that each ship should have had her full complement, fully 85,000 men would have been required. Many ships, indeed, went to sea imperfectly manned; the proper number of the crews being often made up of men sent from the jails, and landsmen carried off by the press-gangs. The ships themselves were also of a very inferior character.

Up to this time all 80-gun ships were three-deckers, but after 1759 no more were built. The building also of 70 and 60 gun ships was discontinued about the same period. The finest ships were those taken from the French and added to the Royal Navy. The first English 80-gun ship on two decks was the Caesar, launched in 1793.

The Marine Society at the peace came to the resolution of receiving and making provision for all boys under sixteen years of age who had been, or might be, discharged from his majesty’s service, by putting them out apprentices in the merchant-service. 295 boys made application for employment, and were provided for.

A body of sailors presented a petition to the king requesting to have the D’s, placed against their names for deserter, taken off. His majesty granted the request to all who had again entered on board a king’s ship.

It appears that the whole number of seamen and marines employed during the war amounted to 184,893. Of these, only 1512 had been killed in action or by accident, while 133,700 had either died by sickness or were missing—probably, had deserted. Thus, on the books of the Navy Office but 49,673 remained. Of these, all except 16,000 were paid off at the peace. To pay them, Parliament granted 832,000 pounds; to pay the officers, including those on half-pay, 398,000 pounds.

In 1764 Mr Harrison’s chronometer was again tried on board the Tartar frigate, commanded by Captain John Lindsay, who reported most favourably on it.

This year the officers of his majesty’s navy were directed to act as custom-house officers on the coast of America, as well as in the British Channel, but, from the complaints made, the Admiralty released them from a service which they considered as degrading to their situation.

On the 3rd of July his majesty’s ship Dolphin, of 20 guns, commanded by the Honourable John Byron, and the Tamer sloop of war, 14 guns, Captain Mouat, sailed from Plymouth on a voyage of discovery. On her return in 1766 the Dolphin was again despatched, under the command of Captain Samuel Wallis, and the Swallow sloop of war, Captain Carteret, was ordered to accompany her till she should have got through the Straits of Magellan.

In 1768 a pump, invented by Mr Coles in 1764, was tried on board the Seaford frigate in Portsmouth harbour, and it was found that with four men it pumped out a ton of water in 43 and a half seconds; with two men, in 55 seconds; and when choked with shingle ballast, it was cleared in 4 minutes: while the old pump, with seven men, pumped out one ton of water in 76 seconds.

Early this year the Royal Society presented a memorial to his majesty, expressing a wish that proper vessels might be appointed to sail to the southward to observe the transit of Venus over the disc of the sun. The Admiralty accordingly, for this service, purchased the Endeavour barque, and placed her under the command of Lieutenant James Cook. Mr Charles Green was appointed astronomer, and Mr Banks and Dr Solander embarked on board her.

In the month of June, 1769, a French frigate having anchored in the Downs without paying the usual compliment to the British flag, Captain John Hollwell, the senior officer there, in the Apollo frigate, sent on board to demand the customary salute. The French captain refused to comply, upon which Captain Hollwell ordered the Hawke sloop of war to fire two shots over her, when the Frenchman thought proper to salute.

In 1771 Admiral Sir Charles Knowles obtained his majesty’s permission to enter into the service of the Empress of Russia as admiral of her fleet. Though high payments were promised him, it appears that he was very inadequately rewarded. On his return in 1774, he found some difficulty in being reinstated to his rank as admiral.

A machine, invented by Dr Lynn, for making salt water fresh, was tried on board the Resolution at Deptford with great success, in consequence of which the Admiralty directed all ships of war to be fitted with a still and the necessary apparatus.

In 1772 Captain James Cook, who had lately returned, undertook a second voyage of discovery in the Pacific, on board the Resolution, accompanied by Captain Furneaux in the Adventure.

We now come to the first outbreak of hostilities with the revolted provinces of North America. At Rhode Island, his majesty’s schooner Gaspee, commanded by Lieutenant Duddingstone, was attacked in the night by 200 armed men in eight boats, who, notwithstanding the defence made by her commander, seized the vessel, when he and several of his people were wounded, and the rebels taking out the crew, set her on fire.

In 1773 Lord Howe presented a petition to the House of Commons in behalf of the captains in the navy, soliciting an increase of half-pay. It was carried by a great majority, and two shillings a-day were added to the half-pay. The pay of surgeons was also increased, as was that of masters.

It was now evident that the ministry expected to be plunged into war. On the 26th of April the guard-ships were ordered to take on board six months’ provisions, to complete their complement of men, and to prepare for sea. All the ships of war reported fit for service were got ready to be commissioned, rendezvous were opened for the raising of seamen, and a proclamation issued by his majesty offering bounties of 3 pounds to every able seaman who should enter the navy, 2 pounds to an ordinary seaman, and 1 pound to a landsman. On the 22nd of June his majesty reviewed the fleet at Spithead, consisting of 20 sail of the line, 2 frigates, and a few sloops, when he was saluted by 232 guns. It was the first of many visits. He knighted several officers, others received promotion, and sums were distributed among the dockyard artisans, the crews of his yacht, the poor of Portsea and Gosport, and the prisoners confined for debt in Portsmouth jail.

Another voyage was undertaken to the North Pole in the hopes of discovering a passage to the East Indies. The Racehorse and Carcass bombs, commanded by the Honourable Captain Phipps—afterwards Lord Mulgrave—and Captain Lutwidge, were equipped for the enterprise, but, unable to penetrate the ice, returned in the same autumn. On board the Racehorse sailed, in the capacity of captain’s coxswain, one who was ere long to make his name known to fame—Horatio Nelson.

His majesty’s ship Kent, commanded by Captain Fielding, was nearly destroyed while saluting the admiral as she was sailing out of Plymouth Sound, the wadding from the guns having communicated with some powder in the ammunition-chest on the poop. It blew up all the after-part of the ship, when most of the men on the poop were blown overboard, 50 of whom being killed or dreadfully wounded.

On the 29th of June, 1775, the Hibernian Marine Society in Dublin was instituted for maintaining and educating the children of decayed, reduced, or deceased seamen, and apprenticing them to the sea-service.

The news arrived of a conflict between the revolted provinces and a detachment of the king’s troops at Lexington, when the latter were compelled to retire with considerable loss into the town of Boston. This was followed by the attack on Bunker’s Hill on the 17th of June, when the British also lost a number of officers and men, and the flame of war now began to blaze over the whole of the continent. The incidents, however, of the American war of independence cannot but be briefly touched on. A fleet under Lord Shuldham and Commodore Sir Peter Parker was sent to blockade the principal naval ports, and both parties fitted out small vessels on Lake Champlain to carry on the contest. The English squadron was under the command of Captain Pringle, who found the Americans drawn up in an advantageous position to defend the passage between the island of Valicour and the main. As the enemy was to windward, he was unable to work up his large vessels, so that his gunboats and a schooner were alone engaged. He, however, succeeded in sinking the largest American schooner and a smaller vessel. At night, he called off the vessels engaged, and anchored his fleet in line, to be ready for an attack the next morning. General Arnold, who commanded the American squadron, finding it inferior, availed himself of the darkness of the night, and withdrew towards Crown Point. Captain Pringle followed him on the 13th, when another action ensued, and continued for two hours, the Americans being dispersed, leaving the Washington galley, with General Waterburn on board, in the hands of the British; others were run on shore and burnt by their own crews, the remainder effecting their escape to Ticonderoga.

Letters of marque and reprisal were now granted by the Admiralty against the thirteen revolted provinces. On the 18th of March the French king issued an edict to seize all British ships in the ports of France, and on the 13th of April a squadron of French ships of war under the command of the Comte D’Estaing sailed for North America. It was not, however, till the 5th of June that an English fleet under Admiral Byron was sent out in quest of it. The English fleet was dispersed by a heavy gale, when Admiral Byron alone succeeded in reaching the American coast. He found the French squadron already at anchor in the neighbourhood of New York.

Admiral Keppel was now appointed to the command of the Channel Fleet, and soon afterwards the Milford captured the Licorne, a French frigate of 32 guns, which, with three others, had been found reconnoitring the fleet. The Arethusa and Alert cutters pursued the other French vessels, and at night came up with the Belle Poule, when the first action of this war ensued, celebrated in song. Captain Marshall informed her commander that his orders were to conduct him to the British admiral, with which the French captain peremptorily refused to comply. Captain Marshall then fired a shot over her, which was instantly returned by a broadside from the Belle Poule. A desperate engagement took place, and continued with great obstinacy for two hours, by which time they were close in with the French coast. The Belle Poule then stood in to a small bay, from whence a number of boats came out and towed her into a place of safety. The Arethusa’s main-mast fell over the side, and she was otherwise so disabled that it was with the utmost difficulty she could clear the land. The next morning she was towed back to the fleet by the Valiant and Monarch.

“The Arethusa.”
Come, all you jolly sailors bold,
Whose hearts are cast in honour’s mould,
While English glory I unfold,
    Huzza to the Arethusa!
She is a frigate, tight and brave,
As ever stemm’d the dashing wave;
    Her men are staunch
    To their favourite launch;
And when the foe shall meet our fire,
Sooner than strike we’ll all expire
    On board of the Arethusa.
’Twas with the spring fleet she went out
The English Channel to cruise about,
When four French sail in show so stout
    Bore down on the Arethusa.
The famed Belle Poule straight ahead did lie;
The Arethusa seemed to fly—
    Not a sheet, or a tack,
    Or a brace, did she slack,
Tho’ the Frenchmen laugh’d and thought it stuff;
But they knew not the handful of men, how tough
    On board of the Arethusa.
On deck five hundred men did dance,
The stoutest they could find in France;
We with two hundred did advance
    On board of the Arethusa.
Our captain hailed the Frenchmen, Ho!
The Frenchmen they cried out, Hallo!
    “Bear down, d’ye see, To our admiral’s lee.”
    “No, no,” says the Frenchman, “that can’t be;”
“Then I must lug you along with me,”
    Says the saucy Arethusa.
The fight was off the Frenchmen’s land,
We forced them back upon their strand,
For we fought till not a stick would stand
    Of the gallant Arethusa.
And now we’ve driven the foe ashore,
Never to fight with Britons more.
    Let each fill a glass
    To his favourite lass;
A health to our captain and officers true,
And all that belong to the jovial crew
    Of the gallant Arethusa.

On the 23rd of June Admiral Keppel’s fleet came in sight of that of the French under the command of the Comte D’Orvilliers. After an engagement of some hours, the French fleet took to flight during the night, and escaped into Brest.

It is impossible to relate the numberless gallant actions which from this period took place for many years between the ships of Great Britain and her enemies.

In consequence of charges exhibited by Sir Hugh Palliser against Admiral Keppel for his conduct in the engagement just mentioned, a court-martial was held at the governor’s house at Portsmouth to try him, when the following sentence was pronounced:—“That in their opinion the charge against Admiral Keppel is malicious and ill-founded, it having appeared that the said admiral, so far from having, by misconduct or neglect of duty on the days therein alluded to, lost an opportunity of rendering essential service to the State, and thereby tarnished the honour of the British Navy, behaved as became a judicious, brave, and experienced officer.”

On the following day Admiral Keppel received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament.

Not long after this the “gallant Arethusa” was wrecked upon the rocks near Ushant, in pursuit of an enemy. The crew were saved, and treated by the French with great humanity.

On the 15th of June, 1779, his Royal Highness Prince William Henry embarked on board his majesty’s ship Prince George, 90 guns, to serve as a midshipman in the navy. The next day a proclamation was issued to commence hostilities against Spain, in consequence of the hostile attitude that country had assumed. The first Spanish ship captured during the war was taken by the Pearl, of 32 guns, commanded by Captain George Montague, during a cruise off the Western Islands. After an action which lasted from half-past nine till half-past eleven, she struck, and proved to be the Santa Armonica, a Spanish frigate of 32 guns and 271 men, 38 of whom were killed and 45 wounded. The Pearl had 12 killed and 10 wounded.

Admiral Byron, though a gallant officer, appears always to have been unfortunate. In the last engagement which took place while he commanded the British fleet on the American station, Comte D’Estaing managed to pass him and escape after severely mauling his ships, when 103 men were killed and 346 wounded, though the French loss amounted to 1200 men killed and 1500 wounded.

At this time the want of active flag-officers was severely felt. Promotions were exceedingly slow, so that it was not until officers were nearly superannuated that they attained to that rank. The junior captain promoted in 1779 to the rank of rear-admiral was Sir John Lockhart Rose, who had been twenty-three years on the list of post-captains. Others had been a still longer time.

The French ships also had a great advantage in being coppered, besides which, though respectively carrying the same number of guns as the British, they were much larger vessels.

Among the actions fought at this time, one deserves especially to be noticed. It ended disastrously to the English flag; although nothing could exceed the gallantry displayed by British officers and seamen on the occasion. Captain Richard Pearson, commanding the 44-gun ship Serapis, in company of the armed 22-gun ship Countess of Scarborough, Captain Thomas Piercy, was escorting the Baltic Fleet, loaded with naval stores, which were at that time of especial consequence to supply the dockyards, left almost destitute of them. The Serapis was one of a remarkably bad class of ships, worse even than the two-decked 50-gun ships. She measured 886 tons, and her armament consisted of 20 long 18-pounders on the lower-deck, 22 long 12-pounders on the main-deck, and 2 long 6-pounders on the forecastle, making in all 44 guns. These guns she carried on two decks, but the lower-deck ports were so close to the water’s edge that it was dangerous to open them in a seaway, besides which the space between decks was so low that it was with difficulty they could be worked, while the upper-deck had only a light breast-high bulwark. From the length of the lower-deck guns they could not be easily run in, while the 12-pounders on the main-deck were so old and their vents so large that much powder exploded through them.

The convoy had already made the coast of England, and was close in with Scarborough, when information was received from the shore that a flying squadron of the enemy’s ships had been seen the day before standing to the southward. Upon receiving this intelligence, Captain Pearson made the signal for the convoy to bear down under his lee, but they still kept stretching out from the land, till the headmost vessel caught sight of the enemy, when they tacked and stood inshore, letting fly their topgallant sheets and firing guns. Captain Pearson on this made sail to windward to get between the enemy’s ships and the convoy. At one o’clock the strangers were seen from the mast-head of the Serapis, and at four were discovered from the deck to be three large ships and a brig. His consort, Countess of Scarborough, being at this time close inshore, Captain Pearson ordered her by signal to join him. The approaching ships were three fitted out in France, but carrying the American flag, and commanded by Captain Paul Jones. The largest had formerly been an Indiaman, and her name had been changed to that of the Bon Homme Richard. She is supposed to have measured about 946 tons, and to have carried on her main-deck about 28 long 12-pounders, on the lower-deck, 6 or 8 18-pounders, and 2 long 6-pounders on the forecastle. The other ships were the American 36-gun frigate Alliance, the French 32-gun frigatePallas, the Vengeance, a French 14-gun brig, and the French Cerf cutter. As yet, however, the strangers’ colours were not visible.

At about 7:20 the two-decked ship, soon known to be the Bon Homme Richard, brought to on the larboard bow of the Serapis, within musket-shot, when Captain Pearson hailed her, and asked, “What ship’s that?”

“The Princess Royal,” was the answer. Captain Pearson then asked from whence they came, and on an evasive answer being returned, declared that he would fire if his question was not directly answered. The stranger then fired a gun, on which the Serapis gave her her broadsides. Several broadsides were now exchanged, when the American ship hove all aback, and dropped on the quarter of the Serapis, evidently with the intention of raking her. Filling again, she ran the Serapis aboard on the weather or larboard quarter, and an attempt was now made to board her, but was at once repulsed. Captain Pearson now backed his yards to enable him to get square with his antagonist, but gathering too much stern-way, theRichard was able to fill and stand across his bows. Her mizen-shrouds, however, catching the jib-boom of the Serapis, and the spar giving way, the ships dropped alongside each other head and stern. Both ships were kept in this position in consequence of the spare anchor of the Serapishaving entered the gallery of the Richard, when a furious cannonade was carried on, the muzzles of the guns touching each other. While in this position, the Alliance frigate coming up, sailed round the combatants, pouring in a galling fire on the Serapis, to which no return could be made. There could have been little doubt that even thus Captain Pearson would have gained the victory, had not some hand grenades been thrown on his deck, which set the ship on fire several times, one of them igniting a cartridge of powder, the flames of which communicated from cartridge to cartridge all the way off, and blew up the whole of the people and several officers who were quartered abaft the main-mast. By this time all the men on the quarter and main-decks were killed or wounded. Notwithstanding this, so furious had been the fire of the Serapis, that at ten the enemy called for quarter; but on Captain Pearson hailing to inquire if they had struck, and no answer being given, he ordered the boarders away. As, however, they reached the deck of the enemy, they found a superior number of men concealed with pikes in their hands ready to receive them. On this the crew of the Serapis retreated to their own ship, and instantly returned to their guns; but at the same moment the frigate again poured another broadside into her with such effect that the main-mast fell, and Captain Pearson being unable to get a single gun to bear on his antagonist, was compelled to strike his colours. He and his first lieutenant were immediately escorted on board the Bon Homme Richard. He found her condition to be even worse than his own; her quarters and counter were entirely driven in; the whole of her lower-deck guns dismounted, and she was also on fire in two places, with six or seven feet of water in the hold.

In the meantime Captain Piercy had been closely engaged with the Pallas and Vengeance, but perceiving another frigate bearing down on him, he also was compelled to surrender. The next day the Bon Homme Richard sank, and Paul Jones and the French frigate carried their prizes into the Texel. The two English captains had done their duty, and saved their convoy, which all escaped. Of the numerous crew on board the Richard no less a number than 317 were killed or wounded, while the Serapis lost 49 killed and 68 wounded, many others suffering from burns—while, from the ill-treatment the prisoners received, many of the wounded died.

On the return of Captains Pearson and Piercy, the former was knighted and the latter promoted, and both received testimonials from the London Assurance Company, as an acknowledgment of their skill and bravery, which had preserved the valuable fleet from capture. Had ships of sufficient force been sent out to convoy the fleet, the enemy would, in all probability, have been captured.

A considerable change was now about to be introduced in the character of the guns used on board ships of war. On the banks of the River Carron in Scotland, the ironworks of the Carron Company for some time existed. In these works, in the year 1779, a piece of ordnance had been cast, the invention of John Robert Melville, shorter than a 4-pounder, and lighter than a 12-pounder. It carried a shot of 68 pounds, and from its destructive effects, when fired against a mass of timber, its inventor called it the “Smasher.” From the works in which it was cast, it soon obtained the name of “carronade.” Several smaller pieces were shortly afterwards cast, to carry shot of 24, 18, and 12 pounds. These guns were eagerly purchased by the owners of privateers fitted out to cruise against the Americans, and the Lords of the Admiralty approving of them, directed some 18 and 12-pounder carronades to be placed on board a few frigates and smaller vessels of the Royal Navy. It was some time, however, before naval officers approved of them; some complained that the carronade was too short to allow its fire to pass clear of the ship’s side, and that its range was not of sufficient extent to be of use; that one pair of their quarter-deck carronades being in the way of the rigging, endangered the lanyards and shrouds. The Board of Ordnance also asserted that the old gun, from the comparative length of its range, was superior to the carronade, notwithstanding the greater weight of the shot it carried. Thus, curiously enough, although a considerable number of carronades were placed on board ships of war, they were not reckoned for some time as belonging to the armament of the ship, and officers persisted in speaking only of the long guns they carried, and ignoring the carronades, although, in reality, far more destructive in their effects. Especially did they object to exchange any of their long guns for carronades. On board the larger ships, as the quarter-decks carried already as many guns as there was room for ports on each side, no additional pieces could be admitted; but the forecastle in most ships allowed of the opening of a pair of extra ports, and by strengthening the poop, it was found that three pairs of ports could be placed there. A 50-gun ship had room for three pairs of ports on her poop, one pair on her quarter-deck, and a pair on her forecastle. By similar alterations, a 44-gun ship was made to carry ten carronades, while on board the sixth-rates and the quarter-deck ship-sloop class, by building up bulwarks or barricades, they could be made to carry eight carronades.

Notwithstanding the fewer number of men with which carronades were worked, and the powerful effect of their shot at close quarters, it was some time before all British men-of-war were entirely furnished with them. At length it was determined to arm with them the 44-gun ship Rainbow, commanded by Captain Henry Trollope, who, with Lord Keith, then Captain Keith Elphinstone, and Admiral Macbride, were among the first patrons of the new style of gun. About March, 1782, she was equipped with 48 carronades—namely, 20 68-pounders on her main-deck, 22 42-pounders on her upper deck, 4 32-pounders on her quarter-deck, and 2 32-pounders on her forecastle, her broadside weight of metal being thus 1238 pounds, whereas in her former armament of long guns, the broadside weight of metal was only 318 pounds. Thus armed, with the above-mentioned officers and crew, she sailed on a cruise in search of an enemy; for some months, however, she was unable to come within gunshot of a foe, and it was not till the 4th of September of that year, when, being off the Isle du Bas, she came in sight of a large French frigate, to which she at once gave chase. The enemy proved to be the Hébé, mounting 28 18-pounders, and 12 8-pounders, 40 guns in all, and measuring 1063 tons, with 363 men on board, commanded by the Chevalier de Vigney. At 7 a.m. the Rainbow commenced firing her bow-chasers, which were returned by the frigate, and, as it proved, several shot falling on board, the enemy discovered their size. The French captain concluding that if such large shot came from the forecastle of the enemy’s ship, larger ones would follow from her lower batteries, after exchanging a single broadside with theRainbow, for the honour of his flag, wisely surrendered. During this short action the Hébé’s foremast had been disabled by one of the 68-pound shot, her wheel had been knocked away, and her second captain and four men killed. No one was hurt on board the Rainbow. The Hébé, a beautiful ship, was purchased into the British Navy, and long served as a model to English shipwrights. No reflection could be cast upon the courage of the French captain, for had he continued the action, his ship would in a few minutes probably have been sunk, the Rainbow’s broadside weight of metal being nearly four times that of the Hébé, though the number of guns she carried was only four less than that of his antagonist. This action went far to establish the reputation of the carronades.

Towards the end of 1779 information was received that the French had agreed to assist Spain in an attempt to retake Gibraltar, in consequence of which Sir George Rodney, who was about to sail to the West Indies with 20 sail of the line convoying a large fleet of merchantmen, was directed to relieve Gibraltar before he proceeded westward. Another squadron under Rear-Admiral Digby was also sent out, which was to return to England. For several years since 1773 a Spanish army had been kept before Gibraltar, but General Elliot, who commanded the fortress, had completely baffled all its attempts. Rodney on his way out, when off Cape Saint Vincent, caught sight of a Spanish squadron convoying a fleet of merchant-vessels. The enemy on discovering him crowded all sail to escape, on which he made a signal for a general chase. The English ships gained rapidly on the enemy. At about five in the evening the Bienfaisant, Captain John Macbride, got up with the Spanish 70-gun ship the San Domingo, but scarcely had she opened her fire when the latter blew up, and every soul on board, with the exception of one man, perished. The poor fellow was picked up by the Pegasus, but was so much injured that he expired shortly afterwards. The action was continued during the whole night, and at 2 a.m. the following morning Admiral Rodney finding that the enemy’s ships were too much disabled to enable them to escape, hove to. Besides the one which blew up, the Phoenix 80-gun ship and five 70-gun ships were taken. The weather being bad, it was not without great difficulty that the fleet, which had got into shoal water, could work off again. Two of the prizes, on board of which prize-crews had been put, but from which on account of the bad weather it had been impossible to remove the officers and men, were recaptured by the Spaniards and carried into Cadiz. The small-pox raging on board the Bienfaisant, Captain Macbride, who had taken possession of the Phoenix, actuated by principles of humanity worthy of being recorded, to avoid the risk of infection spreading among the prisoners, sent the following proposals to Don Juan de Langara, who accepted them with thanks:—

“Captain Macbride consents that neither officers nor men shall be removed from the Phoenix, Admiral Langara being responsible for their conduct; and in case we shall fall in with any Spanish or French ships of war, he will not suffer Lieutenant Thomas Lewis, the officer now in command of the Phoenix, to be interrupted in conducting and defending the ship to the last extremity. And if, meeting with superior force, the Phoenix should be retaken and the Bienfaisant fight her way clear, the admiral and his officers and men are to hold themselves prisoners of war to Captain Macbride, upon their parole of honour, (which he is confident with Spanish officers is ever sacred). Likewise, if the Bienfaisant should be taken and the Phoenix escape, the admiral and his officers will no longer be prisoners, but freed immediately. In short, they are to follow the fate of theBienfaisant.”

This remarkable agreement was executed with the strictest honour.

Soon afterwards Captain Macbride, after a smart action, captured the Comte d’Arotis, private ship of war, mounting 64 guns, and 644 men, commanded by the Chevalier de Clonard.

Admiral Rodney, who had been joined by Rear-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker at Saint Lucia, gaining intelligence of the French fleet, which consisted of 25 sail of the line and 8 frigates, sailed in search of them. On the 19th of April, having come in sight of the enemy on the previous evening, about noon he threw out a signal for every ship to bear down, steer for them, and engage at close quarters her opposite in the enemy’s line. At 1 the action became general, and continued until 4:15 p.m., when the French took to flight, the crippled state of the British ships rendering pursuit impracticable. Every exertion having now been made to repair damages, on the 20th the George again caught sight of the French, and pursued them without effect for three successive days. The French ran under Guadaloupe, where they had taken shelter. On the 6th, hearing that they had left their anchorage and were approaching to windward of Martinique, Rodney put to sea, and continued turning to windward between it and Saint Lucia until the 10th, when the enemy’s fleet was discovered about three leagues to windward. Still the French studiously avoided coming to a general action. Sir George on this, to deceive them, directed his fleet to make all possible sail on a wind. This manoeuvre led the enemy to think he was retiring, and emboldened him to approach much nearer than usual. Rodney allowed them to indulge in their mistake, until their own ship had approached abreast of his centre, when, by a fortunate shift of wind, being able to weather the enemy, he made the signal to Rear-Admiral Parker, who led the van, to tack and gain the wind of the enemy. The French fleet instantly wore and fled under a crowd of sail, but would have been compelled to fight, had not the wind on a sudden changed. The Albion, Captain Bowyer, late in the evening, reached the centre of the enemy’s line, and commenced a heavy cannonade, supported by the Conqueror and the rest of the van; but as the enemy continued under a press of sail, the remainder of the fleet could not partake in the action. Still, Rodney perseveringly followed up the enemy, and on the 19th the wind again changing gave him hopes of being able to bring on a general action. Before, however, he could close it again shifted; but the French admiral finding that his rear could not escape, suddenly took the resolution of risking a general action. As soon is his van had weathered the British, he bore away along the line to windward, discharging his broadsides, but at such a distance as to do little execution. The Frenchmen, however, could not avoid being closely attacked by the ships of the van, led by Commodore Hotham. After this the enemy continued under a press of sail to the northward, and on the 21st were out of sight.

In these several actions the British loss amounted to 186 killed and 464 wounded, including 7 officers in the former and 14 in the latter list.

On the 10th and 11th of October a dreadful hurricane blew over the West Indian Islands, during which eight ships were lost, with the greater portion of their crews, and six were severely damaged. The French were also great sufferers.

A squadron, under Rear-Admiral Rowley, on the passage to England with a convoy, also suffered dreadfully. The admiral, with five of his ships, returned to Jamaica dismasted. The Berwick, also dismasted, with difficulty arrived in England. The Stirling Castle was totally lost on the Silver Keys, near Hispaniola, and only fifty of her crew saved; while the Thunderer, which had separated from the fleet, foundered, and every soul perished. Several other ships were driven on shore, and eight lost their masts.

Towards the end of 1780 war was declared against the Dutch, who, it was found, were making preparations to attack England. On the 5th of August, 1781, Rear-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker fell in with the Dutch fleet off the Dogger Bank, when an action ensued in which both fleets were dreadfully cut to pieces, the Dutch escaping into the Texel. One of their ships, of 68 guns, the Hollandia, went down in twenty-two fathom water. Her pendant the next morning was seen above the surface, when Captain Patten, of the Belle Poule, struck it, and brought it to Sir Hyde Parker. The English lost 104 men killed and 339 wounded, among whom were 30 officers.

Sir George Rodney at the same time attacked the Dutch island of Saint Eustatia, which, with those of Saint Martin and Saba, at once capitulated, a richly-laden fleet falling into the hands of the English, as well as a vast quantity of merchandise stored up.

One of the most important events of this period must now be described. The hopes of the Spaniards had been raised in consequence of their recapture of the island of Minorca; General Murray, in command of Fort Saint Philip—the greater portion of his troops having died or been struck down with scurvy—after a heroic defence, having been compelled to yield. The Spanish army, which had so long been besieging Gibraltar, was now increased to 40,000 men, including 12,000 French, and, in addition, there were 47 sail of the line, 40 gunboats with heavy cannon, 40 bomb-vessels, each armed with 12-inch mortars, 5 large bomb-ketches, and 300 large boats to be employed in landing the troops as soon as a breach should be made—besides which, there were 10 large floating batteries, the invention of the Chevalier D’Arzon, a French engineer of great repute, on such a principle that they would not, he believed, be sunk or set on fire by shot. It was said that no less than 1200 pieces of heavy ordnance had been accumulated before the place, with 83,000 barrels of gunpowder, and shot, shells, military stores, and provisions in the same proportion. The chief reliance of the besiegers was, however, placed on the floating batteries. They were built of extraordinary thickness, and so fortified that they were proof from all external, as well as internal, violence. To prevent their being set on fire, a strong case was formed of timber and cork, a long time soaked in water, and enclosing a large body of wet sand; the whole being of such thickness and density that no cannon-ball could penetrate within two feet of the inner partition.

For this purpose, ten large ships, from 600 to 1400 tons burden, had been cut-down, and 200,000 cubic feet of timber worked in their construction. To protect them from bombs, and the men at the batteries from grape, or descending shot, a hanging roof was contrived; which was worked up and down by springs. The roof was composed of a strong rope-work netting, laid over with a thick covering of wet hides, while its sloping position was calculated to prevent shells from lodging, and to throw them off into the sea before they could burst. To render the fire of these batteries the more rapid, a kind of match had been contrived, so to be placed that all the guns in the battery could go off at the same instant. To defend them from red-hot shot, with which the fortress was supplied, the newest part of the plan was that by which water could be carried in every direction to neutralise its effect. In imitation of the circulation of the blood, a variety of pipes and canals perforated all the solid workmanship in such a manner that a continued succession of water could be conveyed to every part of the structure, a number of pumps being adapted to afford an unlimited supply. It was thus believed that these terrible machines, capable of inflicting destruction, would themselves be invulnerable. The largest carried 21 guns, and their complement of men was 36 for each gun in use, exclusive of officers and mariners for working the ships.

General Elliot, undaunted by the preparations made by the enemy, determined to try what he and his brave garrison could do to counteract them. Accordingly, at seven o’clock in the morning of the 8th of September, he opened a tremendous fire on their works with red-hot shot, carcasses, and shells. At ten o’clock the Mahon battery, with the one adjoining it, were in flames. By five in the evening both were entirely consumed; a great part of the eastern parallel, and of the trenches and parapet for musketry, were likewise destroyed. A large battery near the bay was so much damaged by having repeatedly been set on fire, that the enemy were compelled to abandon it, while they lost an immense number of men in their endeavour to extinguish the flames. The next day the French and Spaniards opened a new battery of 64 heavy cannon, which, with the artillery from the lines and mortars, continued to play upon the garrison without intermission the whole day. At the same time, seven Spanish ships of the line and two French, with some frigates and small vessels, passing along the works discharged their broadsides, until they had passed Europa Point, and got into the Mediterranean.

In the meantime, the English squadron being too small to compete with them, the seamen had been landed, under the command of Captain Roger Curtis, and had been placed in the batteries at Europa Point. Hence they had attacked the Spanish line-of-battle ships, and compelled them to haul off.

About eight o’clock in the morning of the 13th of September, the battering ships lying at the head of the bay, under the command of Rear-Admiral Don Moreno, got under sail to attack the fort. At ten o’clock the admiral having taken up his station off the king’s bastion, the other ships extended themselves at moderate distances from the old to the new mole, in a line parallel with the rock, at a distance of about one thousand yards, and immediately commenced a heavy cannonade, supported by the cannon and mortars on the enemy’s lines. On seeing this the garrison opened a tremendous fire; the red-hot shot were thrown with such precision that about two o’clock in the afternoon, the smoke was seen to issue from the admiral and another ship, the men in vain endeavouring to extinguish the fire by pouring water into the holes. By one o’clock the two ships were in flames, and seven more took fire in succession. Signals of distress were now seen flying on board the Spanish ships, while the launches came up for the purpose of taking the men out of the burning ships, it being impossible to remove them. When he saw this, Captain Curtis advanced with his gunboats and drew them up so as to flank the enemy’s battering ships, which were annoyed by an incessant, heavy, and well-directed fire from the garrison. The Spanish boats were so assailed by showers of shot and shell that they would not venture on a nearer approach, and were compelled to abandon their ships and friends to the flames. Several of the enemy’s boats were sunk; the crew of one of these were all drowned, with the exception of an officer and twelve men, who floated on the wreck under the walls, and were rescued by the English.

The scene was full of horrors. Numbers of men were observed in the midst of the flames, imploring relief; others were seen floating on pieces of timber; while even those on board the ships not on fire expressed the deepest distress, and were equally urgent in asking for assistance. Captain Curtis and his gallant sailors, though exposed to the greatest possible danger, eagerly boarded the burning ships to rescue the now conquered enemy from destruction. While they were thus engaged, one of the largest of the Spanish ships blew up, spreading its wreck far around. By this accident, one English gunboat was sunk, and another much damaged. A piece of falling timber struck a hole through the bottom of Captain Curtis’ barge, by which his coxswain was killed and two of his crew wounded; the rest were saved from perishing by the seamen stuffing their jackets into the hole, which kept the boat afloat until others came to their assistance. While the ships were burning, numbers of Spaniards were seen floating on pieces of timber, liable every moment to be washed off, or destroyed by the shot from the garrison. As soon, however, as it was discovered that the enemy were defeated, the firing from Gibraltar entirely ceased, and every possible effort was made to save the Spaniards from death. Nine of these formidable batteries were burnt by the red-hot shot, and the tenth was set on fire by her crew, as it was found impracticable to carry her off. Even had the battering ships not taken fire, the Spaniards would have had no chance of success, as the works of the fortress, notwithstanding the tremendous fire directed against them, were scarcely damaged. During the nine weeks the siege had been going on, only 65 of the garrison had been killed, and less than 400 wounded, while the seamen had only lost two or three men.

A heavy gale coming on, several of the French and Spanish ships suffered material damage, and the Saint Michael, a 72-gun ship, carrying 650 men, was driven close under the works, and struck after a few shot had been fired into her. She was got off by Captain Curtis a few days afterwards, with the loss only of her mizen-mast.

On the 11th of October Lord Howe appeared with a large fleet, which the enemy endeavoured to avoid. After seeing the troop-ships which he had convoyed into the harbour, he went in search of the enemy’s fleet, which, after a short engagement, hauled their wind and stood off to the north-west.

In the bomb-proof vessels above described we recognise the idea of our present floating batteries; while the result of their attack on Gibraltar might have shown our naval commanders in the Crimean war the slight hope there was of any advantage being gained by their attack on the batteries of Sebastopol.

The great object of the French was to capture the island of Jamaica. For this purpose, the Comte de Grasse, who commanded their fleet in the West Indies, was using every exertion to equip his fleet and to form a junction with the Spaniards. Sir George Rodney, with Sir Samuel Hood and Admiral Drake and Commodore Affleck under him, were on the look-out to prevent them. At length, on the 8th of April, while the English fleet was at anchor at Saint Lucia, Captain Byron, in the Andromache frigate, communicated to the admiral by signal that the enemy’s fleet, with a large convoy, were seen coming out of Fort Royal Bay, and standing to the north-west. Sir George instantly made the signal to weigh, and on the morning of the 9th the enemy were seen forming a line of battle to windward, and standing over towards Guadaloupe. For some time the British fleet was becalmed, but as the breeze reached the van division, commanded by Sir Samuel Hood, he stood on and closed with the enemy’s centre. At nine o’clock the action commenced, and was maintained with determined bravery for upwards of an hour by this division, the Barfleur having generally three ships firing upon her at once. At length the leading ships of the centre got the breeze, and were enabled to come up to the assistance of the van. These were soon after followed by the Formidable, Bake, and Namur. The action raged it for some time, much gallantry being displayed by the captain of a French 74-gun ship, who, backing his main-topsail, steadily received and returned the fire of these three ships in succession. The Comte de Grasse, seeing the remainder of the British fleet coming up, withdrew out of fire, and by the 11th his fleet was nearly hull down. All hopes of being able to keep up with them appeared to be at an end, when two French ships, which had been much damaged, were perceived about noon to leeward of their fleet. Chase was instantly made by the English, when the Comte de Grasse bore down to their relief. Sir George Rodney on this recalled the ships in chase, and formed a close line of battle, carrying sail to windward all night. At dawn of the 12th, a French ship of the line, the Zélé, 74 guns, was seen much disabled, and towed by a frigate. The Comte de Grasse, on perceiving that she must be taken, bore up with his whole fleet for her protection. He could now no longer avoid an engagement. At half-past seven Rear-Admiral Drake’s division, which led, commenced the action, which soon became general from van to rear. Captain Gardner, in the Duke, having unsuccessfully attempted to force the enemy’s line, in consequence of the loss of his main-topmast, Sir George Rodney, in the Formidable, supported by the Namur and Canada, broke through their line, about three ships from the Ville de Paris, and was followed by the ships in his rear, when he wore and doubled upon the enemy. By this manoeuvre the French line was broken and thrown into the utmost confusion; their van bore away, and endeavoured to re-form to leeward, but this, hardly pressed as they were, they were unable to accomplish. Sir Samuel Hood’s division, which had been becalmed the greater part of the forenoon, now coming up, completed the victory. Several of the French ships struck. Captain Cornwallis, to whom the Hector had yielded, left his prize, and made sail after the French admiral in the Ville de Paris. The well-directed fire of the Canada so much annoyed her, and some other ships approaching, made it impossible for her to escape; but the Comte de Grasse seemed determined to sink rather than yield to anything under a flag. At length Sir Samuel Hood came up in the Barfleur, and poured in a tremendous and destructive fire. The brave Frenchman maintained the action for a quarter-of-an-hour longer, when finding further resistance vain, and that he was deserted by his second, hauled down his flag. The enemy’s fleet continued going off before the wind in small detached squadrons and single ships, pursued by the British. On this, Sir George made the signal to bring to, in order to collect his fleet and secure the prizes. Some of the ships, however, not observing the signal, did not return till the next day. Before the prisoners could be shifted from the Caesar, she caught fire and blew up, an English lieutenant and 50 men belonging to the Centaur, together with 400 Frenchmen, perishing.

The French are supposed to have lost 3000 men killed, and double that number wounded, for, besides the ships’ crews, the fleet had on board 5500 troops. It was said that at the time the Ville de Paris struck there were but three men left alive and unhurt on the upper deck, and that the Comte de Grasse was one of the three.

A story is told of a female sailor who fought in the action. While the battle was raging, one of the crew of a gun being wounded and sent below, a woman took his place. After the action she was brought before the admiral, when it was discovered that she was the sailor’s wife, and had been concealed on board. She declared that she thought it her duty to supply her husband’s place, and fight the French. Rodney threatened her for a breach of the rules, but privately sent her a purse of ten guineas.

A few days afterwards the admiral detached Sir Samuel Hood in chase of the crippled French ships, when two more were captured in the same gallant way by Captain Goodall of the Valiant. A frigate of 32 guns and a sloop of 16 were also taken.

For this action Sir George Rodney was created a peer of Great Britain; Sir Samuel Hood a peer of Ireland; and Admiral Drake and Commodore Affleck were made baronets.

These actions must be taken merely as examples of what the navy was about at that time.

Towards the end of 1782, negotiations for a general peace were set on foot, and it was finally concluded early in the following year.