George the Third - from A.D. 1803 to end of war A.D. 1814.

The “piping times of peace” were not destined to last long. Napoleon, indeed, had never ceased making preparations for war from the time the treaty of Amiens was signed. On the 16th of May the British Government, discovering his aims, issued letters of marque and ordered general reprisals; and at the same time Holland, being in reality a province of France, all ships belonging to the Batavian Republic in English ports were detained. Admiral Cornwallis, in command of the Channel Fleet, of 10 sail of the line and frigates, which was lying in Cawsand Bay, had his flag flying on board the Dreadnought, 98. With these he proceeded the next day to cruise off Ushant, and watch the motions of the French ships in Brest Harbour; other small squadrons being sent, as soon as they were ready, off the other French ports, containing either ships of the line or gunboats, of which Napoleon was collecting vast numbers for the invasion of England. In a short time that war, which was to last ten years, commenced in earnest. The French gunboats were, however, kept pretty close prisoners by the English cruisers, and whenever any of them ventured out from under the protection of their batteries, they were attacked, captured, driven on shore, or compelled to seek shelter in the nearest port under their lee; while many of them were gallantly cut out and carried off in triumph, even when moored in positions where they could receive assistance from the forts on shore.

Out of the numberless gallant deeds performed by the crews of boats and small vessels engaged in this service, one must be instanced for its singularity, and the bravery displayed by the commanding officer and his followers. A hired cutter, the Sheerness, carrying 8 4-pounders and 30 men and boys, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Rowed, while watching Brest Harbour, observed two chasse-marées close inshore. Having sent a boat with seven men and the mate to cut off one of them, the commander proceeded in the cutter in chase of the other, which was about five miles off, under the protection of a battery. A calm coming on, he, with the boatswain, John Marks, and three other men, jumped into a small boat and pulled away for the chase. The latter, after some time, ran on shore under the battery, where thirty soldiers were observed drawn up on the beach. Notwithstanding the heavy fire they at once opened, Lieutenant Rowed dashed alongside. The Frenchmen having deserted their vessel, he began making efforts to get her off; in this, as the tide was rising, he at length succeeded, and going ahead in the boat, towed her away from the shore. He had pulled about a third of a mile, when suddenly a French boat, with an officer and nine men armed with muskets, were seen alongside, having pulled up in the wake of the vessel. Before the French could have time to attack them, John Marks sprang on board the chasse-marée, and seizing a boat-stretcher, stood prepared to prevent any of the enemy from getting up the side. The astonishment of the Frenchmen gave time to the lieutenant and his three men to climb on board and to prepare their firearms and cutlasses. The French, who attempted to get up the side, were driven back, when they sheered off, but discharged their muskets at the English as they pulled away, while the battery also opened fire. Wonderful as it may seem, though forty-nine musket-balls were found sticking in the prize, not a man was hurt; and both chasse-marées were carried off.

For some time the principal fighting was between the English cruisers in the channel and the invasion flotilla, as Napoleon’s gunboats were called; and as their stings might annoy, though they could not inflict serious injury, attempts were made to destroy them by fire-vessels or catamarans—which was the name given to a species of nautical infernal machine—though without much success. The catamaran consisted of a coffer of about 21 feet long and 3 and a half broad, somewhat in shape like a log of mahogany, wedge-shaped at each end. It was covered with thick planking, and lined with lead, thoroughly caulked and tarred, while over all was a coat of canvas, payed over with hot pitch. To give an idea of its size, the vessel weighed about two tons. Inside was a piece of clock-work, the mainspring of which, on withdrawing a peg placed on the outside, would, after going six or ten minutes, draw the trigger of a lock, and explode the vessel. Every other part was filled with about 40 barrels of gunpowder and other inflammable matter. As much ballast was placed in it as would keep the upper surface of the deck even with the water’s edge. It had no mast, and had to be towed towards the scene of its operations. The tow-rope was at one end, and to the other was fixed a rope with a grappling-iron at its extremity, kept afloat by pieces of cork. This grappling-iron, it was intended, should hook itself to the cable of the vessel it was to destroy, and thus swing the catamaran alongside. It was, indeed, on a larger scale, though with less destructive power, something like Harvey’s torpedo of the present day.

Lord Keith, who was with a squadron off Boulogne, first made use of four of the machines, in the hopes of destroying some of a flotilla of 150 vessels moored in a double line outside the pier. Three exploded one after another, doing very little harm; but a heavily armed launch, which had chased one of the boats towing a catamaran, ran foul of it, when the launch and every one on board was blown into the air.

Numerous other engagements took place, and frequently the portions of the flotilla moving from the different ports towards Boulogne were severely handled by the British cruisers. Occasionally, small English vessels, venturing too close inshore for the purpose of attacking them, were captured by the French.

At length Napoleon managed to collect a vast number of prames and gun-vessels, with other craft, the whole flotilla amounting to 2293, of which the larger were armed. These were intended to carry 163,645 men, of whom 16,783 were sailors, besides 9059 horses. This flotilla was organised in six grand divisions. One, denominated the left wing, was stationed at Étaples, to convey the troops under Marshal Ney from the camp of Mottrieux. Two other divisions were in the port of Boulogne, to convey the troops from the two camps on either side of it, under Soult. A fourth was at the port of Vimereux to carry the corps of Marshal Lannes. The Gallo-Batavian flotilla, assembled off Ambleteuse, formed the fifth grand division, destined to transport the troops under Marshal Davoust; while the sixth, at Calais, was to carry the Italian infantry, and various divisions of mounted and dismounted dragoons.

On the 3rd of August, 1805, Napoleon came to Boulogne to inspect the flotilla, and so completely organised was it by this time, that although the extremities of the camps were more than two miles from the point of embarkation, an hour and a-half only was occupied in getting men and horses on board. All he wanted was the arrival of his fleet under Villeneuve, to protect his mighty flotilla during its passage across the channel, and then, as his generals at all events believed, the conquest of England was certain.

Meantime Nelson, who at the breaking out of the war had been appointed to the command of the fleet in the Mediterranean, was watching Villeneuve, resolved to prevent him from appearing on the spot where his fleet was so anxiously looked for by Napoleon. On the 18th of May, 1803, he had hoisted his flag on board his old ship, the Victory, and on the 20th had sailed from Spithead, first bound to Brest, and from thence to the Mediterranean. Here he remained for nearly two years, without once setting foot on shore, watching and waiting for the Toulon fleet, endeavouring to induce them to come out and give him battle. At length, on the 18th of January, 1805, the French fleet did come out, but a heavy gale blowing. Nelson was then at anchor off the coast of Sardinia. Supposing that they had gone to Egypt, he sailed in chase, but found that they had put back into Toulon. Hence again Villeneuve sailed, and escaping through the straits, was joined by the Spanish fleet at Cadiz, which had 4500 troops on board. The combined fleet of the enemy now numbered 20 sail of the line and 10 frigates, while Nelson had but 10 sail of the line and 3 frigates. With these, however, he chased Villeneuve to the West Indies, where, after threatening several of the islands, he fled back to Europe, with Nelson after him. When about twenty leagues west of Finisterre, on the 22nd of July, the French admiral was attacked by Sir Robert Calder, with 15 line-of-battle ships, but escaped into Cadiz, with the loss of two of the Spanish ships. Nelson, meantime, had sought the enemy on the north-west coast of Ireland, and then came back into the channel, where his ships reinforced the fleet under Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant, and he himself, worn out with fatigue and anxiety, went on shore for a short rest.

It was now that Napoleon urged Villeneuve to come into the channel, ending with the words, “England desires us, we are all ready, all is embarked, appear, and within four-and-twenty hours all is finished.” No sooner did Nelson hear that the French and Spanish fleet had entered Cadiz than, again offering his services, he arrived at Portsmouth on the 14th of September, and the next morning, putting off in his barge to theVictory, he bade his last farewell to England. On the 29th of September, his birthday, he was off Cadiz, and joining Collingwood, took command of the British fleet, then amounting to 27 sail of the line. Villeneuve had been waiting till the Spaniards were ready, and till a favourable wind would allow him to sail. On the 9th of October Nelson sent Collingwood his plan of attack, his intention being to advance towards the enemy in two lines, led by eight of his fastest three-deckers, and thus to break through the enemy’s line. Collingwood, having the command of one line, was to break through the enemy about the twelfth  ship from the rear, Nelson intending to lead through the centre, while the advanced squadron was to cut off three or four ships ahead of the centre. He would make few signals: no captain could do wrong who placed his ship close alongside that of an enemy. Not till the 19th did the admiral learn that Villeneuve had put to sea, when he at once concluded that he intended to enter the Mediterranean. Two days afterwards, the ever-memorable 21st of October, 1805, at daylight, when the English fleet was about seven leagues from Cape Trafalgar, Nelson discovered the enemy six or seven miles to the eastward, which had so manoeuvred as to bring the shoals of Trafalgar and San Pedro under the lee of the British fleet, while they kept the port of Cadiz open for themselves.

Nelson now hoisted the signal to bear down on them in two lines. Nelson led one in the Victory, Collingwood  the other in the Royal Sovereign. On going into action he asked Captain Blackwood, who had come on board to receive orders, what he should consider a victory. “The capture of 14 sail of the line,” was the answer. “I shall not be satisfied with less than 20,” said Nelson.

Shortly afterwards up went the signal, “England expects every man to do his duty.”

Notwithstanding the attempts made to induce Lord Nelson to allow the Teméraire to lead his line into action, the Victory carrying all sail, kept her station. Ahead of her was Villeneuve’s flag-ship, the Bucentaur, with the Santissima Trinidad as his second before her; while ahead of the Royal Sovereign, the leader of the lee column, was the Santa Anna, the flag-ship of the Spanish vice-admiral. The sea was smooth, the wind very light; the sun shone brightly on the fresh-painted sides of the long line of French and Spanish ships, when the Fougueux, astern of the Santa Anna, opened her fire on the Royal Sovereign, which, at about ten minutes past noon, delivered her larboard broadside, with guns double-shotted, at the Santa Anna, and with such precision as to disable 14 of her guns, and to kill or wound 400 of her crew; while with her starboard broadside she raked the Fougueux. Just then Collingwood exclaimed to his captain, “Rotherham, what would Nelson give to be here;” and at the same moment Nelson was observing, “See how that noble fellow Collingwood carries his ship into action.”

The wind now falling to almost a calm, the Victory and the ships in her wake advanced so slowly that seven or eight of the rearmost ships of the French van having opened fire upon the Victory before she had fired a single gun, 50 of her men were killed or wounded, and her main-topmast with her studdensail-boom shot away, and every sail, especially on the foremast, had become like a sieve. At about four minutes after twelve she opened with both her broadsides. Captain Hardy now informed Nelson that it was impossible to break the enemy’s line without running on board one of their ships. “Take your choice—go on board which you please,” was the answer.

The Victory, as she approached the Bucentaur, fired a 68-pounder carronade containing a round-shot and a keg with 500 musket-balls, from the larboard side of her forecastle, right into the cabin-windows of that ship; and as she forged slowly ahead, the whole of her 50 broadside guns, all doubly and some trebly shotted, so as completely to rake her, killing or wounding as many men as the Bucentaur had lost, and dismounting 20 of her guns. Receiving the fire of an 80-gun ship, the Neptune, the Victory’s helm being put hard a-port, she ran on board the Redoutable, into which she poured a heavy fire, while with her aftermost starboard guns she engaged the Santissima Trinidad. Besides the heavy fire of great guns and musketry she was enduring from other ships, she received the shot of the Redoutable’s main-deck guns, and also constant discharges of musketry from the three tops of that ship. It was from the mizen-top of the Redoutable, at about 1:25 p.m., that, as Nelson and Captain Hardy were walking the deck together, the admiral was shot by a musket-ball, which entered his left shoulder, and descending lodged in his spine. Hardy, who had just turned, saw him in the act of falling, with his left hand just touching the deck. He was removed by the sergeant of marines and two seamen to the cock-pit.

In the meantime the action raged furiously. Soon after the first four ships of the lee division had cut through between the centre and rear of the enemy’s line. The remainder, as they came up, forced their way into the dense mass and engaged such ships as they could best attack. The weather division was doing the same, rather ahead of the centre, and at about 1:30 p.m. the battle was at its height. At about 3 p.m. the firing began to slacken, and two hours afterwards had wholly ceased, by which time 9 French sail of the line, including one burnt, and 9 Spanish were captured. Nine French and 6 Spaniards escaped, of which 4 French ships made sail to the southward, and 11, 5 of which were French and 6 Spanish, reached Cadiz, most of them much knocked about; while all the frigates and smaller craft also escaped.

Within twenty minutes after the fatal shot had been fired from her, the Redoutable struck her colours, and about three hours after Nelson had received his wound, he breathed his last.

In the whole action the British lost 449 killed and 1241 wounded, while several of the ships lost two of their masts, and five were totally dismasted. Lord Nelson intended to anchor the fleet and prizes, but this Lord Collingwood did not think fit to do, and a gale coming on from the south-west, some of the prizes went down, others were driven ashore, one escaped into Cadiz, some were destroyed, and only four by the greatest exertions were saved. To the credit of the Spaniards it must be recorded that the English prize-crews which landed from the wrecks were treated with the greatest kindness.

Although there were few trophies, the result of the victory was completely to disconcert Napoleon’s plans, and to prevent him from invading England. Four ships which escaped after the action were captured by Sir Richard Strachan on the 4th of November, and not while the war continued did the French and Spanish navies ever recover the tremendous blow they had received off Cape Trafalgar. Thus, of the once formidable French and Spanish fleet of 35 sail of the line, 2 were taken by Sir Robert Calder, 4 of those captured at Trafalgar were carried into Gibraltar, as were the 4 taken by Sir Richard Strachan, 15 were sunk or were burnt or wrecked; 3 only fit for sea escaped into Cadiz; while 7, so severely battered as to be mere wrecks, got into the same port, making up the whole number mentioned. In vain for some time did Napoleon attempt to send another fleet to sea. His ships were either blockaded by the British squadrons, or, when they did manage to escape, were attacked and beaten by our fleets. At the same time small squadrons or single cruisers running out of port committed much havoc on English commerce; not, however, with impunity. Numerous actions between light squadrons and single ships took place. The enemy, indeed, were never safe, even in port; and expeditions to cut out vessels in the harbours or under the protection of forts were much in vogue.

The navy of England was, at the commencement of 1806, larger than it had ever before been, consisting of 551 cruisers in commission, of which 104 were line-of-battle ships; in addition to which 26 were building or being built, and 10 in ordinary, a large proportion of the rest being frigates carrying from 56 to 28 guns.

A new method had been introduced to strengthen ships by diagonal braces or by doubling or sheathing them with plank, and sometimes when they were in bad condition both bracing and doubling them. By this means 22 sail of the line, several frigates, and other smaller vessels had been made fit for active service.

In this year, also, was launched the first British ship of war constructed of teak. Two first-rate ships also were ordered, the Nelson and theCaledonia, of a tonnage and force double that of many of the old ships of the line. To man this large fleet Parliament made a vote of 120,000 seamen and marines.

The four ships captured by Sir Richard Strachan were carried into Plymouth, and were added to the British Navy, the Formidable having the name of Brave given to her, the Duguay-Trouin that of the Implacable, while the Scipion and Mont Blanc were allowed to retain their former names. TheImplacable and Scipion were, however, the only ships considered as fit for service.

Notwithstanding the heavy loss France had sustained, Bonaparte managed to send to sea a fleet of 11 sail of the line, and a number of frigates, in two squadrons. One of these sailed for the West Indies early in 1806, while the other steered for the Cape of Good Hope. Admiral Duckworth, who, with 7 sail of the line, had been blockading Cadiz, came up with the former of these squadrons, consisting of 5 ships, 2 frigates, and a corvette, and after a severe action took or destroyed the whole of the five line-of-battle ships.

Among the gallant actions performed at this time was one which shows that seamen fight as well on shore as afloat. The British 38-gun frigateLoire, Captain Maitland, cruising off the coast of Spain, having chased a privateer into the Bay of Camarinas, situated to the eastward of Cape Finisterre, sent in three of her boats, under the command of Lieutenant James Lucas Yeo, to bring her out. Instead of one, they found two privateers, moored under a battery of 10 guns. Both were captured, in spite of the fire of the battery; but in order to secure the larger of the two, Lieutenant Yeo was compelled to abandon the smallest vessel. To recompense himself for her loss, he captured three merchant-vessels laden with wine on his way out. From his prisoners Captain Maitland learned that a French privateer of 26 guns was fitting out at Muros, and being acquainted with the navigation of the bay, he resolved on her capture or destruction. Accordingly, on the 4th of June, he stood into the bay, with springs on his cables, ready to attack the fort, and towing his boats, with fifty officers and men under the command of Lieutenant Yeo. On passing close to the shore, the Loire was exposed to a fire from two long 18-pounders, which considerably annoyed her. On this Captain Maitland ordered Lieutenant Yeo to land and spike the guns. The gallant lieutenant departing on this service, the Loire stood on, when, as she opened the bay, she discovered at anchor within it a large corvette pierced for 26 guns, and a brig of 10 guns; but as the armament of both vessels was on shore, they were unable to offer any resistance. The Loire, however, was now exposed to a hot fire from a fort of 12 long 18-pounders, from which, as she was less than a quarter-of-a-mile off, nearly every shot struck her hull. Finding that by standing on he should be exposed to a still hotter fire, Captain Maitland ran as close in as he could venture, and anchoring the frigate with a spring on her cable, opened her broadside. So strong, however, was the fort, that the frigate’s shot committed little or no damage, while numbers of her crew were falling, some severely wounded. Lieutenant Yeo had in the meantime landed, and storming the 2-gun battery, put its defenders to flight. Having spiked the guns, Lieutenant Yeo discovered the large fort close to the town of Muros, which was severely annoying the frigate. Without hesitation, he resolved to attack it, and his men were eager to follow him. The garrison were so occupied in firing at the frigate, that not only was the approach of the British unperceived, but the outer gate had actually been left open. On the seamen rushing forward, headed by Lieutenant Yeo, the sentinel who only just then perceived them, fired his musket and retreated, followed closely by the storming party, which on reaching the inner gate was met by the governor, and those he had time to rally round him, sword in hand. With a blow of his cutlass, which was broken in the effort, the lieutenant laid him dead at his feet. A desperate struggle ensued in the narrow passage between the officers of the garrison and the British seamen, who, bearing down all opposition, drove the enemy before them to the farther end of the fort, many of whom in their terror sprang through the embrasures down upon the rocks below, a height of twenty-five feet. The garrison of the fort consisted of upwards of 100 men, composed of the crew of the corvette, 22 Spanish soldiers, and several Spanish volunteers. Of these, the governor, the second captain of the corvette, and a Spanish gentleman, with nine other men, were killed, and thirty wounded, before the survivors, finding all opposition useless, laid down their arms; when the British colours, greatly to the satisfaction of the frigate’s crew, were seen flying on the flagstaff. Directly the fort was in the possession of the British, the seamen and marines did their best to assist the wounded prisoners, and were amply repaid by the gratitude which the unfortunate men’s friends expressed when they came to carry them into the town. The guns being spiked and thrown over the parapet, and part of the fort being blown up, the British embarked, carrying off 40 barrels of powder, 2 small brass cannon, and 50 stand of arms. The corvette and brig, as also the Spanish merchant-vessel, were taken possession of, when Captain Maitland sent a flag of truce to the town, promising that should the stores of the two privateers be delivered up, he would not injure the town; he also refrained from capturing a number of small merchant-vessels which lay in the bay, considering that it was cruel to deprive the poor owners of the means of obtaining a livelihood. His terms were gladly accepted, and the bishop and one of the principal inhabitants of Muros came off to express their gratitude for the kind way in which their victors had treated them, and offering such refreshment as the place could afford to the British captain and his officers. The corvette was named the Confiance, and on his return home Lieutenant Yeo was appointed to her. Shortly afterwards he was raised to post-rank, theConfiance being rated as a post-ship, with an armament of 22 carronades, 18-pounders, and a complement of 140 men and boys, in order that he might still remain her captain.

Among the most remarkable of the gallant actions of this period between single ships was that fought in August, 1805, between the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Phoenix, Captain Thomas Baker, and the French frigate Didon, of 40 guns, Captain Milius. The Didon measured 1091 tons, and had a crew of 330 men, the weight of her metal amounting to 563 pounds; while the Phoenix measured but 884 tons, her crew numbering only 245 men, and the weight of her metal was 444 pounds. The Didon, which had three days before sailed from Corunna with despatches for the Rochefort squadron, and after escaping an action from another English frigate, had been visited by the skipper of an American merchant-vessel, who informed Captain Milius that a ship whose topgallant-sails were just then rising out of the water to windward was an English 20-gun ship, on board of which he had been the previous evening, and from what he had heard he was sure that she would venture to engage the Didon. Captain Milius, though ordered to avoid an action, believing that victory was certain, backed his mizen-topsail and kept his main-topsail shivering to allow the British ship to come up with him. The stranger was the Phoenix, and which was not only a smaller frigate, but Captain Baker had disguised her to resemble at a distance a sloop of war. The mistake into which Captain Milius had been led by his treacherous visitor was therefore not discovered until the Phoenix was close to the Didon, which ship, hoisting her colours, fired a gun to windward, and at 8:45 a.m. opened her broadside. Captain Baker, in order to prevent the Didon from escaping, had resolved to engage to leeward, but, from the manoeuvres of the French ship, unable to do this, he stood down right at her to windward with all sail set. By this bold measure he succeeded in bringing his broadside to bear on the Didon at pistol-shot distance, when a hot fire of round-shot, grape and musketry was exchanged between the combatants. The Phoenix from the press of sails she carried, ranged ahead of the Didon, which lay almost stationary, and before she could haul up, was raked by the latter; but as the crew were ordered to lie down, they escaped without damage. By the rapidity with which the crew of thePhoenix repaired her damaged rigging, they avoided an attempt made by the Didon to rake her with her starboard broadside. In a short time theDidon’s larboard bow ran against the starboard-quarter of the Phoenix, both ships lying nearly in a parallel direction, the former having only one gun which could be brought to bear on her antagonist. At that moment the Frenchmen in vast numbers attempted to board the Phoenix, but were vigorously repulsed; while the marines of both ships exchanged a warm and destructive fire. At this juncture a young midshipman, Edward Phillips, observed a man upon the Didon’s bowsprit end taking deliberate aim at Captain Baker, close to whom he was standing. Being armed with a musket, he, thrusting the captain on one side, fired. At the same moment the Frenchmen fell into the water, while the bullet intended for the captain’s head tore off alone the rim of his hat. Several men who were sick below, leaving their hammocks, employed themselves in bringing up powder, while the acting purser, Mr John Colman, who might with propriety have remained to assist the surgeons in the cock-pit, appeared on deck with a brace of pistols in his belt and a broadsword in his hand, encouraging the crew by every means in his power. Still, the great superiority of the French made it doubtful which ship would gain the victory; when Captain Baker by great exertions brought the aftermost main-deck gun to a port which he had cut by enlarging one of the stern windows. Several of his men were killed by the French marines while the operation was going forward, but at length he succeeded in running it through the port, and, at his first discharge, sweeping the Didon from her larboard bow to her starboard-quarter, laid low twenty-four of her crew. The British marines were, in the meantime, keeping up so spirited a fire on the forecastle of the Didon that they prevented the Frenchmen from discharging the carronade placed on it. This work continued for half-an-hour, when the Didon fore-reached on the Phoenix, which, as she did so, brought her second aftermost gun to bear on her, and at its first discharge cut away the gammoning of her bowsprit and did other damage. Though the guns of the Phoenix were lighter than those of the Didon, they were fired nearly half as quick again. The Didon had by this time, as she passed out of gunshot, lost her main-topmast, while her foremast was in a tottering condition, and her hull severely shattered. The rigging of the Phoenix had also been so much cut about that she was almost unmanageable. Both frigates, which had gone into action with nearly all their sails set, now exhibited a melancholy appearance, their canvas riddled or in tatters, and rope-ends drooping from their masts and yards. Their crews were now employed in repairing their damaged rigging, and so well trained and diligent was that of the Phoenix that in a short time they had knotted and spliced her rigging and rove fresh braces. While so employed, about noon, they were encouraged by seeing the Didon’s foremast fall over the side. Soon afterwards a light air of wind springing up, the Phoenix, trimming her sails, stood down towards the Didon, and having got within gunshot, was about to open her fire, when the French frigate, being utterly helpless, hauled down her colours.

The Phoenix had lost her second lieutenant, 1 master’s mate, and 10 seamen killed, and 3 officers, 13 seamen, and 12 marines wounded; while the Didon had had 27 officers and men killed, and 44 badly wounded out of her crew of 330 men, who were looked upon as one of the most efficient in the French navy, while Captain Milius, who was known for his gallantry and seamanship, had fought his frigate with the greatest bravery.

The crew of the Phoenix had still a difficult duty to perform. Their prisoners greatly outnumbered them, and not only had they to refit the two ships, but to keep a strict watch on their captives. The Didon’s main-mast was so severely wounded that it had immediately to be cut away, when the Phoenix, taking her in tow, steered for a British port. On the evening of the 14th she fell in with the Dragon, 74, which ship accompanying her, the next day they came in sight of M. Villeneuve’s fleet. On this the Phoenix, with her prize in tow, made sail to the southward, pursued by several French ships; but after a time they tacked and left her and her prize to proceed unmolested. Having passed Lisbon, she was steering for Gibraltar, when, during a thick fog, the ringing of bells and firing of guns were heard. Meeting with the Euryalus frigate, Captain Baker learned that the sounds proceeded from the Franco-Spanish fleet. He accordingly again altered his course to the westward. He had a still greater danger to contend with. The French pilot belonging to the Phoenix overheard some of the prisoners talking of a plan for getting possession of thePhoenix. The intended mutiny was speedily crushed. Shortly afterwards the pilot brought aft Captain Milius’ late coxswain, accusing him of being the ringleader. The French captain was very indignant, and demanded of the man whether he had any complaint to offer. On his acknowledging that he had none, Captain Milius besought Captain Baker to put the fellow in irons, declaring him to be a disgrace to the name of Frenchman. After this the prisoners remained quiet, and the Phoenix with her prize, having the advantage of a good wind, at length safely reached Plymouth Sound on the 3rd of September. The Didon, which was a beautiful and fast-sailing frigate, was purchased for the navy, but, without ever having been sent to sea, was unaccountably broken up in 1811.

Humane and brave as British officers have almost always proved themselves, tyrannical captains, who in most instances have been also deficient in courage and seamanlike qualities, have occasionally been found in the service. Among men of this class the Honourable Captain Lake, commanding the sloop of war Recruit, must be ranked. While at Plymouth he had pressed a young seaman, Robert Jeffrey by name, belonging to Polperro in Cornwall, out of a privateer. Shortly afterwards the Recruit sailed for the West Indies. While in those seas, the ship having run short of water, Jeffrey was accused of stealing, on the 10th December, a bottle of rum, and some spruce beer out of a cask. He was accordingly put in the black-list. Two or three days afterwards the Recruit came in sight of the desert island of Sombrero, eighty miles to the south-west of Saint Christopher. Captain Lake on seeing it suddenly took it into his head to maroon Jeffrey on the island. Accordingly, that very evening, he was conveyed on shore in a boat, commanded by the second lieutenant, who had with him a midshipman and four seamen. Even the buccaneers, when they thus treated a culprit, had the humanity to leave him arms, and food, and clothing; but Captain Lake ordered the unfortunate youth to be left on this uninhabited spot with no other clothing than that he wore, without a particle of food. The lieutenant, observing that his bare feet were cut by the sharp stones, obtained a pair of shoes from one of the men, and gave him a knife and a couple of handkerchiefs, contributed by himself and the midshipman. The lieutenant advising him to keep a bright look-out for passing vessels, then, according to his orders, leaving the poor fellow, pulled back to his ship. Soon after the arrival of the Recruit at the Leeward Islands, Sir Alexander Cochrane, the commander-in-chief, hearing what had occurred, sent her back to bring off the man, in case he should have survived. The officers on landing searched the island over, but could discover no traces of the marooned seaman. Jeffrey, however, was not dead. For eight days he had subsisted on such limpets as he could find among the rocks, and the rain water which he discovered in their crevices. He was growing weaker and weaker, for though he had seen several vessels pass, he was unable from weakness to hail them; till, on the morning of the ninth day, an American schooner, the Adams, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, hove in sight, and his signal being seen, the master came on shore and saved him from the death which probably would have soon overtaken him. He was landed at Marblehead, where he remained till 1810, when the English Government hearing of the occurrence, sent for him, and gave him his discharge, taking the big R off his name thus enabling him to receive all arrears of pay. On the whole circumstance being inquired into, Captain Lake, who acknowledged that he had landed Jeffrey upon Sombrero under the belief that it was inhabited, was deservedly sentenced to be dismissed from the British Navy. In 1807, it having become known that Napoleon intended to take possession of the Danish fleet, to recompense himself for the loss of his own, a British fleet of 17 sail of the line and 21 frigates, and smaller vessels, was despatched to the Baltic, under the command of Admiral Gambier. An army of 20,000 men was also sent at the same time, commanded by Lord Cathcart, and they were directed to demand the surrender of the Danish fleet, the English Government undertaking merely to hold it as a deposit, to be restored at a general peace. The fleet reached its destination early in August. After various skirmishes with the Danish gunboats and batteries, it completely surrounded the island of Zealand, when the troops were landed, and the Danish general, Peiman, refusing the terms offered, on the 2nd of September the English fleet and batteries opened fire on Copenhagen, which was ultimately set on fire. The bombardment continued for three days, with a short interval, in the hopes that the Danes would yield; but it was not till a number of the garrison and inhabitants had been killed, and a large portion of the city burnt down, that General Peiman sent out a flag of truce. Lord Cathcart’s reply was, that no capitulation could be listened to unless accompanied by the surrender of the Danish fleet. This was at length agreed to, and the British were put in possession of the citadel and the ships of war, with their stores. In six weeks the whole of the fleet fit for sea was carried off, the remaining few ships being destroyed; while a large amount of naval stores was embarked, as was the army, without a casualty. On going down the sound, the Neptunus, one of the prizes, an 80-gun ship, got on shore, and was destroyed, as were also most of the Danish gunboats, in consequence of bad weather coming on. The fleet, however, without further accident, at the close of October, arrived safely at Yarmouth and the Downs. Whatever opinion may be formed of the legality or expediency of the enterprise, no one can deny that it was carried out with ability and promptitude; and as the Danes would undoubtedly have assisted Napoleon in his designs against England, she was certainly justified in thus summarily preventing Denmark from injuring her.

It was at this time that the Danish island of Heligoland was captured by the Majestic, 74, and the Quebec frigate, but being of no possible use, was recently handed over to Germany.

The next expedition on a large scale in which a British fleet was engaged brought neither advantage to the country nor honour to its leaders. The Turks having been tampered with by the French, Sir John Duckworth, in command of a squadron, had been sent to Constantinople to take possession of or destroy the Turkish fleet should the sultan not give a sufficient guarantee of his friendly intentions. According to his instructions, Sir John proceeded with his squadron up the Dardanelles, his ships being exposed to the fire of the forts on either hand. Altogether, the loss of the squadron amounted to 6 killed and 51 wounded. The Turks, however, were not to escape without punishment. Not far from the Castle of Abydos lay the Turkish squadron, which had the audacity to fire on the British ships as they passed. While four of the latter came to an anchorage to prevent their escape, Sir Sidney Smith, with three frigates, ran in and anchored within musket-shot of them, when, opening his fire, he compelled one of the Turkish sixty-fours and two frigates, and other smaller vessels, to run on shore, the only ones which did not do so being captured, a fort under which they had sought protection being also destroyed. Unhappily, one of the British ships, the Ajax, commanded by Captain Blackwood, caught fire during the night, and so rapidly did the flames extend, that no efforts availed to put them out, and upwards of 250 souls, among whom were two merchants and two women passengers, perished. It was supposed that the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of some coals stowed in the after-cock-pit.

Sir John, on arriving before Constantinople, lost a considerable time in diplomatic negotiations, while the Turks were doing their utmost to fortify their city and the island of Prota, which commanded the anchorage. Instead of attacking the city, Sir John sailed again down the Dardanelles, receiving on his way a hot fire from the Castle of Abydos and other forts on either hand. The Turks fired granite shot, one of which, weighing 800 pounds and measuring 6 feet in circumference, passed through the side of the Active, two feet above the water, and lodged on the orlop-deck, close to the magazine-scuttle, without injuring a man. So large was the aperture made by it, that Captain Mowbray, her commander, saw two of his crew thrusting their heads out of it at the same moment. Another shot of the same weight struck the main-mast of the Windsor Castle, and cut it more than three-quarters through. Other ships were struck by shot of equal dimensions. Four men on board the Standard were killed by one of these shot, which, at the same time striking a salt or ammunition box on deck, caused an explosion by which a lieutenant, 3 petty officers, and 37 men and 6 marines were wounded, and 4 seamen in their alarm leapt overboard—the total loss by this single shot amounting to 8 killed and drowned, and 47 wounded. The story is told of a seaman who thrust his head out of one of the shot-holes, and pertinaciously kept it there. When asked why he did so, he replied that he considered it the safest place, as he was sure no other shot would come in at that hole.

By great exertions the French had in the year 1809 fitted out 9 line-of-battle ships, in addition to the squadrons already at sea, which, under the command of M. Allemand, had arrived in Basque Roads.

Here they were for some time blockaded by the British Channel Squadron under Lord Gambier, whose flag was flying on board the Caledonia, of 120 guns, Captain Sir H. Burrard Neale. Lord Gambier had himself suggested the possibility of destroying the French fleet by means of fire-ships, though he considered, as his letter expresses it, “a horrible mode of warfare, and the attempt very hazardous, if not desperate.” The Admiralty had, however, anticipated him, and had already ordered the construction of several fire-ships, which, on the arrival from the Mediterranean of Lord Cochrane, commanding the 38-gun frigate Impérieuse, were placed under his command. On his reaching the fleet he was coldly received by the other captains, who were jealous of the appointment of a junior officer to conduct so important a service. Lord Cochrane remarks that two only, Rear-Admiral Stafford and Sir Harry Neale, received him in a friendly manner. Lord Cochrane was not a man to be disconcerted by such conduct, and felt thoroughly convinced that the plan he proposed would succeed. The French, aware of the danger of their position, had done their utmost to fortify it. The defences on Ile d’Aix were strengthened, and works were commenced on the Boyart Shoal on the opposite side of the entrance to the roads, while a boom half-a-mile in length, composed of spars and cables, had been laid down and secured by heavy anchors. This boom, forming an obtuse angle, occupied a deep channel between Ile d’Aix and the Boyart Shoal, and it was supposed would prove effectual against the passage of fire-ships. The French fleet was drawn up in two lines inside the boom, with three frigates in line ahead of them. The ships thus placed, aided by the batteries on shore, would have been sufficient to sink the British fleet had it attempted to force a passage. Besides the fire-ships, Lord Cochrane had constructed two explosion vessels. The largest contained 1500 barrels of powder, formed into a solid mass by wedges and wet sand rammed hard between the casks. On the top of this mass of gunpowder were 400 live shells with short fusees, together with as many hundreds of hand grenades and rockets.

The night of the 11th of April was fixed on for the enterprise. The fire-ships were ready, but one mortar-vessel, the Etna, alone had arrived. TheImpérieuse, from whence operations were to be directed, anchored close to the inner end of the Boyart Shoal. The Aigle, Unicorn, and Pallasfrigates, brought up in a line to the northward of her, in order to receive the crews of the fire-ships and support the boats of the fleet, while theEtna anchored off the north-east point of Ile d’Aix, covered by the Emerald frigate and four gun brigs. Two others, with screened lights hoisted, were to act as pointers for the guidance of the fire-ships. They were to pass between the two light vessels, and then shape a course for the boom. A strong wind from the north-west enabled the fire-ships to run about two points free for the boom. At 8:30 p.m. Lord Cochrane, accompanied by Lieutenant Bissell, embarked on board the largest of the explosion vessels, on the perilous undertaking, the other fire-ships followed. He was accompanied by a boat’s crew of four volunteers only, in addition to the lieutenant. Having nearly reached the boom, he ordered the lieutenant and his men to get into the boat while he ignited the port-fires. It was supposed that the fusees would burn fifteen minutes, by the end of which time the boat might be well out of the range of the grenades; but scarcely five minutes had elapsed ere a terrific explosion occurred, throwing up a huge wave which nearly swamped the boat, while grenades and rockets were darting round them on all sides, shells and missiles of every description rising in the air. The escape of Lord Cochrane and his companions was almost miraculous, for not one of them was hit. The fire-ship, too, had performed her destined work, if not as completely as had been desired, sufficiently so to enable the Mediator fire-ship, Commander Woolridge, to force her way. In his eagerness to direct her against the enemy, he remained till the explosion actually occurred, when he, with two lieutenants, a seaman, and the gunner, who was killed, were blown out of the ship. So well directed were the six other fire-ships that two fell on board the Ocean, of 120 guns, and the Regulus, a 74, the former being compelled to cut her cables, and she soon afterwards, narrowly escaping the Pallas Shoal, ran on shore, where she again had a narrow escape from another fire-ship. So panic-stricken were the French crews that every effort to escape was made. The scene was indeed truly terror-inspiring, the darkness rendering the effect of the burning ships, the flight of shells and rockets, and the flashes of the guns awful in the extreme.

The danger in which the French ships were placed will best be understood from an account written by one of the officers of the Ocean, the French admiral’s flag-ship. After the Ocean, narrowly escaping being blown up, had grounded, a burning fire-ship grappled her athwart her stern. Every effort was made to prevent the fire from catching the ship; the engine playing, completely wetted the poop, while spars were used to heave off the fire-ship, and axes to cut the lashings of her grapnels fastened to the end of her yards; but the chevaux-de-frise on her sides held her firm. The flames from the fire-ship covering the whole of the poop, it seemed impossible that the Ocean could escape. At this juncture two other line-of-battle ships, the Tonnerre and Patriote, fell on board her. The first broke her own bowsprit and destroyed the Ocean’s main-channels. As the fire-ship athwart the stern was now about to drive forward along the starboard side, the Tonnerre was got free. Unless this had happened the fire-ship would have fallen into the angle formed by the two ships, and would inevitably have burnt them. The fire-vessel having now drifted under the bowsprit of the Ocean, was there held for some time. In order to afford the Tonnerre and Patriote an opportunity to get out of her reach, an attempt had been made to drown the magazine, but the flow of water was too slow for the purpose. In the efforts to clear the fire-ships upwards of fifty men fell into the sea and were drowned, the boats saving others.

Shortly afterwards another fire-vessel approached on the starboard-quarter, but the Ocean’s guns cut away her main-mast, and wearing, she passed close alongside. For the remainder of the night vessels were seen burning on all sides. Daylight revealed the French fleet in a deplorable condition; the Ocean on the mud at a distance of half-a-mile to the south-east of the anchorage in Aix Road; to the south-east of her, about fifteen hundred yards off, on a rocky bed, lay the Varsovie and Aquilon, and close to them on somewhat better ground the Regulus and Jemappes. The Tonnerre, already bilged, and her main-mast cut away, and most of her guns hove overboard, lay at the entrance of the Charente, and at some distance off the Calcutta, close to the wreck of the Jean Bart. The Patriote and Tourville also lay not far from the channel of the Charente. Four frigates were also on shore in the same direction. All the grounded ships were more or less on the heel—those on the Pallas Shoal in a very desperate condition. Thus, although the fire-vessels had not caused the immediate destruction of any of the French fleet, they had been the means of reducing nearly the whole of them to a comparatively defenceless state. Lord Cochrane, in the Impérieuse, being the nearest English ship, was the first to perceive their condition, and immediately telegraphed, “The fleet can destroy the enemy—seven on shore;” at 6:40, “Eleven on shore;” and at 9:30, “Enemy preparing to heave off.” At first it was hoped that Lord Gambier would immediately stand in and complete the destruction of the helpless enemy; and there can be little doubt, had such men as Sir Sidney Smith or Lord Cochrane himself been in command, such would have been accomplished; but Lord Gambier, afraid of risking the loss of the whole fleet by venturing among the shoals, called his captains on board, held a council of war, and allowed the favourable time to pass by. The tide rising enabled several of the ships to get afloat, and run up the Charente out of the way of danger. The Impérieuse, without waiting for orders, after signalling for assistance, stood towards three of the French ships, the Calcutta, Varsovie, and Aquilon. After some time she was joined by some gun brigs and bomb-vessels, and later by theIndefatigable, and other frigates. She had, in the meantime, compelled the Calcutta to cease firing, and the Frenchmen to abandon her. Lord Cochrane then sent a midshipman and boat’s crew to take possession, when, without orders, the midshipman set her on fire, and in the evening she blew up with a tremendous explosion. The Tonnerre was also set on fire by her own officers and crew, and blew up. The fire from the English ships compelled the Varsovie and Aquilon to submit at 5:30 p.m. Five other French ships lying on shore at the mouth of the Charente might also have been destroyed had there been any reserve of fire-vessels, but these were wanting, and though efforts were made to prepare three more, by the time they were ready the wind had shifted and they could not be used. The French lost the Varsovie, of 84 guns, the Aquilon and Tonnerre, of 74 guns, and the Calcutta, of 50 guns. The Impérieuse during the action had three seamen killed, and Mr Gilbert, an assistant-surgeon, Mr Marsden, purser, seven seamen, and two marines wounded, while the Revenge had three men killed and Lieutenant Garland and fourteen men wounded, she also receiving considerable damage in her hull from the batteries on Ile d’Aix. The French loss was much more considerable; theVarsovie especially, having 100 killed and wounded, while the captain of the Aquilon was killed in a boat of the Impérieuse, when seated by the side of Lord Cochrane, by a shot from the burning Tonnerre. The burning Varsovie and Aquilon, being supposed by the French to be fire-ships, created a further panic among them. The captain and crew of the Tourville, believing that the fire-vessel was bearing down upon them, deserted their ship, and hastened in their boats on shore. A gallant French quartermaster, however, of the name of Bourgeois, managed to get on board again before the boat shoved off, resolved to stand by his ship to the last. To secure his safety should the fire-ships grapple the Tourville, he at once began constructing a raft. He had just completed it when an English boat approached, the crew of which were ignorant that the ship was abandoned. Bourgeois hailed her twice, but receiving no reply, fired a musket which he found at the gangway. This was returned, but the intrepid fellow, hastening to the captain’s cabin, where he found twenty loaded muskets, discharged them in quick succession, when, greatly to his satisfaction, the boat pulled away. After he had been on board an hour, he discovered three of his shipmates insensible from drink on the lower-deck. A short time after this three of the Tourville’s boats, with a young midshipman, who now took the command, returned on board the Ocean, and he and the brave quartermaster prepared to defend their ship to the last. Fortunately for them, the English, not aware of what had happened, did not attack her, or she would undoubtedly have been added to the list of the French ships destroyed on the occasion Lord Cochrane still remained with the gun brigs, and the Pallas, Captain Seymour, her commander, having gallantly decided on rendering him assistance. At 8 a.m. on the 13th of April he despatched the brigs and mortar-vessel to attack the ships still aground. The Etna unfortunately split her mortar, and the other vessels could do the enemy but little harm. A strong wind and tide prevented the Impérieuse and Pallas from taking a part in the attack. At noon five other small vessels were sent in by Lord Gambier, who wrote to Lord Cochrane giving him leave to attack the Ocean, but observing that there was little prospect of success, and desiring to see him as soon as possible. Lord Cochrane replied, “We can destroy the ships which are on shore, which I hope your lordship will approve of.” The Impérieuse, therefore, remained until the next day, when Lord Gambier, finding that Lord Cochrane would not quit his post as long as he had a shadow of discretionary authority, superseded him in the command of the fire-ships by Captain Wolfe, observing, “I wish you to join me as soon as possible, that you may convey Sir Harry Neale to England, who will be charged with my despatches.” The Impérieuse, therefore, proceeded to Basque Roads, where Lord Cochrane had a disagreeable interview with the admiral, who insinuated that he desired to take all the merit of the service to himself. On his arrival in England Lord Cochrane, who had now a seat in Parliament, gave notice that he should oppose the vote of thanks about to be proposed to Lord Gambier. On hearing this Lord Gambier, on his arrival, demanded a court-martial. The evidence of Captain Pulteney Malcolm was much in favour of Lord Cochrane, but the other witnesses supported Lord Gambier, and sentence was pronounced, honourably acquitting him of all blame. From that day Lord Cochrane’s prospect of success in the navy was destroyed. Though attempts were made by Lord Mulgrave to bribe him over, he refused to abandon what he considered his duty to his constituents and the country. The vote of thanks to Lord Gambier was carried by a majority of 161 to 39.

The following year, when Crocker, secretary to the Admiralty, brought forward the navy estimates, Lord Cochrane moved an address for certain returns relating to pensions on the civil list, contrasting them with pensions to naval officers; remarking in the course of his speech, “An admiral, when superannuated, has 410 pounds a-year, a captain 210 pounds, while a clerk of the ticket-office retires on 700 pounds a-year. Four daughters of the gallant Captain Courtenay, who was killed in action with the enemy when commanding the Boston, have 12 pounds, 10 shillings each; the daughters of Admiral Sir A. Mitchel and Admiral Hepworth have each 25 pounds; Admiral Keppel’s daughter, 24 pounds; the daughter of Captain Mann, who was killed in action, 25 pounds; and four children of Admiral Moriarty, 25 pounds each. Thus thirteen daughters of admirals and captains, several of whose fathers fell in the service of their country, receive from the gratitude of the nation a sum in the aggregate less than Dame Mary Sexton, the widow of a commissioner.”

Remarking on the pension list, he observed, “Captain Johnstone receives 45 pounds 12 shillings for the loss of an arm; Lieutenants Harding and Lawson, 91 pounds, 5 shillings each for a similar loss; Lieutenant Campbell, 40 pounds for the loss of a leg; and Lieutenant Chambers, RM, 80 pounds for the loss of both legs—while Sir Andrew Hammond retires on a pension of 1500 pounds per annum.”

Amongst the most renowned exploits of the navy is that of the capture of Curaçoa. It having been reported to Vice-Admiral Dacres, then commander-in-chief on the Jamaica station, that the inhabitants of the island of Curaçoa wished to ally themselves to Great Britain, he despatched the Arethusa, 38-gun frigate, commanded by Captain Charles Brisbane, accompanied by the Latona, also of 38 guns, Captain Wood, and the Anson, 44 guns, Captain Lydiard. These, when close to the island, were joined by the Fisgard, of 38 guns, Captain Bolton. Captain Brisbane, suspecting that the governor and the troops garrisoning the strong forts would not be willing to yield them up as the inhabitants might desire, without waiting to enter into diplomatic negotiations, determined at once to run into the harbour of Saint Anne, the capital of the island, and to invite the authorities to yield under the muzzles of his guns. A favourable wind, which sprang up on the last day of the year 1806, gave him hopes of being able to carry out his project. On New-Year’s Eve it was known that every true Dutchman would indulge in extra potations, and that by getting in at daylight, before the garrison had regained their senses, there would be every probability of catching them unprepared. Excellent arrangements were made; each frigate had her allotted station, and the larger portion of her crew was divided into storming parties, under their respective officers. The master, with the remainder of the hands, being left in charge of the ship. Each was to wear a distinctive badge, so that they might know each other during the fighting. The difficulties to be encountered were of no light description. The harbour, only fifty fathoms wide, was defended by regular fortifications; one, Fort Amsterdam, on the right of the entrance, mounting sixty guns in two tiers. On the opposite side was a chain of forts, and at the farther end an almost impregnable fortress, called Fort République, enfilading it almost within grape-shot distance. Besides these defences, a 36-gun frigate, a 20-gun corvette, and two large armed schooners lay athwart the harbour, which nowhere exceeds a quarter-of-a-mile in width.

At daylight the Arethusa leading, with a flag of truce at the fore, followed by the other three frigates, entered the port, receiving as she did so a warm fire from the Dutch, who, however, only at that instant aroused out of their beds, took but bad aim. In a few minutes the wind beaded the frigates, but shifting again, they stood on, and took up their stations in favourable positions, with their broadsides bearing on the Dutch forts and ships. So close in were the frigates that the Arethusa’s jib-boom was over the wall of the town. Captain Brisbane now sent a summons to the governor, to the effect that the British squadron had come to protect, not to conquer the inhabitants, but that if a shot was fired, he should immediately storm the batteries. He wisely gave the governor but five minutes to make up his mind. Receiving no answer, Captain Brisbane ordered the ships to open their broadside, when each having fired three, he and Captain Lydiard boarded and carried the frigate and corvette. This done, they proceeded to storm Fort Amsterdam, which, though strongly garrisoned, was carried in about ten minutes, one party breaking open the sea-gate with crowbars, while another escaladed the walls. The citadel of the town, and several other forts, were carried with equal celerity. A fire was next opened upon Fort République, and preparations were made to attack it in the rear with a body of 300 seamen and marines, but so completely confounded were the garrison by the suddenness of the assault that, though they might have effectually resisted, and possibly blown the British ships out of the water, they yielded without firing a shot, and a little after 10 a.m. the British flag was hoisted on their walls. Two hours later the island of Curaçoa capitulated, and was taken possession of by the victors.

During this brilliant morning’s work the total loss of the English amounted to only 3 killed and 14 wounded, chiefly in the capture of the ships; and the Dutch lost 5 killed and 8 wounded, besides nearly 200 men killed and wounded on shore.

Many other gallant actions were fought between light squadrons and single ships, and numerous cutting-out expeditions in boats were successfully undertaken. During these years the British line-of-battle ships attained a size far greater than had existed at any preceding period. The Caledonia, though ordered as far back as the year 1794, did not begin building till January, 1805, and was launched on the 25th of June, 1808. Though originally intended to carry only 100 guns, she was altered to a 120-gun ship, her draught being prepared by Sir William Rule, one of the surveyors of the navy. Her length on the lower gun-deck from the rabbet of the stem to the rabbet of the stern-post was 205 feet; her extreme breadth 53 feet 8 inches; her depth of hold 23 feet 2 inches; and she was of 2615 tons burden. Her net complement, including marines and boys, was 891. She was, and continued to be, the finest three-decker in the service. She excelled in all essential qualities, rode easy at her anchors, carried her lee-ports well, rolled and pitched quite easy, steered, worked, and stayed remarkably well, was a weatherly ship, and lay to very close, close-hauled under whole or single reefed top-sails. She went nine knots, and under all large sail eleven knots.

She was followed by the Nelson, of the same size, the Britannia, built at Plymouth, and the Prince Regent at Chatham. Two others of a somewhat similar size were subsequently added, the London, built at Plymouth, and the Princess Charlotte at Portsmouth, in the year 1813.

The prizes captured during the year 1807 nearly doubled that of any other period. At the same time, the losses sustained by the navy were greater than had ever before occurred, amounting to no less than 38 ships. Of these, no fewer than 29 foundered at sea or were wrecked, a large proportion of their crews perishing with them. The navy of England had, however, greatly increased. At the commencement of 1815 she possessed 124 line-of-battle ships, averaging each 1830 tons; whereas at the end of the previous century, they averaged only 1645 tons. If we take a glance back to a still more distant period, we shall judge better of the enormous progress made during the last two centuries. In the year 1641 the navy of England consisted of 42 ships, the aggregate tonnage of which was 22,411 tons. At the period of which we are writing it amounted to 966,000 tons, and within fifty years of that period, Scott Russell launched in the Thames one vessel of 22,500 tons, being in excess by 89 tons of the whole British fleet at the time of Charles the First. At that period about 8000 men were considered sufficient to man the navy, while in 1814, 146,000 men were voted; the navy estimates amounted to 18,786,509 pounds, and the burden of 901 ships amounted to 966,000 tons.

England, taught by the loss of several frigates captured by American ships of the same class, though vastly superior in size, began to construct frigates to compete with her foes. Three small-class seventy-fours, the Majestic, Goliath, and Saturn, were cut-down so as to retain their main-deck batteries, on which they were armed with 28 long 32-pounders, while on their lower-decks they received an equal number of 42-pounder carronades, besides two long 12-pounders as chase-guns; making 58 guns on two flush-decks, with a net complement of 495 men and boys. They thus, though denominated frigates, possessed a slightly increased weight of metal in broadsides to that which they before carried. It was hoped that with the aid of black hammock-cloths thrown over the waist of the barricade, they would be so disguised as to tempt any large American frigates they might fall in with to come down and engage. Such ships would have been more than a match for the heaviest of the American 44-gun frigates. They were in reality two-decked ships, but, as it turned out, they had no opportunity of proving their powers with any of the vessels with which they were intended to cope.

Several other fine 50-gun frigates were built; the Endymion, Glasgow, and Liverpool, Forth, Liffey, and Severn the three latter of fir, and the two before-mentioned of pitch-pine; the chief complaint made of them being that their quarters were rather confined. They had a complement of 350 men and boys. Other smaller frigates were constructed for economy’s sake of yellow pine, most of them carrying medium 24-pounders, with a complement of 330 men and boys. To the British Navy were also added two classes of sloops of war; the largest, of about 430 tons, mounted 18 32-pounder carronades on the main-deck, and 6, 12, or 18-pounder carronades on the quarter-deck and forecastle, with two long sixes, making a total of 26 guns, with 121 men and boys. The second-class was the 18-gun brig-sloop. Another class of ship-sloops or corvettes were fitted out for sea while Sir Joseph Yorke was First Lord of the Admiralty, having a flush-deck, and carrying 18 32-pounder carronades and two long nines. They were fitted with stern chase-ports, but from the narrowness of their sterns there was no room to work the tiller, while the guns were pointed from the ports. They were defective also in having their masts too slight, while they were in other respects heavily rigged. The worst vessels, however, constructed at a later period, were the 10-gun brigs of war, small, narrow craft, so low between decks that the unfortunate commander, if a tall man, had to stand up, with his head through the skylight, and his looking-glass on deck, to shave himself. For many years commanders were appointed to them with a crew of upwards of 100 men, two lieutenants, and other gun-room officers, as well as midshipmen, whose berth measured seven feet by five. Being excessively crank, the greater number foundered, and gained for the class the unenviable title of “sea-coffins.” They and frigates carrying 28 guns, generally known in the service by the name of “jackass-frigates,” were the worst class of vessels belonging of late years to the British Navy. They existed, however, till steam power and the screw propeller caused those that had escaped destruction to be broken up or sold out of the service. For some years previously, however, the 10-gun brigs were commanded by lieutenants, with, of course, reduced crews.