Vesey, G. Hoskins,AdmiralSir Anthony, G. Lothian, Marquis of, K. Markham, Vice- Admiral A. Morris, Mowbray. Shippard, Sir Sidney, K. Sinclair, W. Stevens, B. Tanner, J. Trower, H. Wharton, Rear-Admiral Sir W. White, Sir W. Laughton, King's College, London, W. Yorke, C. The Council of the Navy Records Society wish it to be distinctly understood that they are not answer- able for any opinions or observations that may appear in the Society's publications.
For these the responsi- bility rests entirely with the Editors of the several works. The various papers and documents which iill this volume, and those which are to be embodied in its successor, are an essential complement to the ' Letters and Dispatches ' of Nelson of the same period included in the volumes edited by Sir N. Harris Nicolas. Hitherto our understanding of the conditions of the great blockade of 1 has necessarily been partial and imperfect. The character of the operations within the Mediter- ranean is, indeed, well known, but no sort of justice has been done to the achievement of Cornwallis and his captains.
Their work as blockaders was more important and more successful than that of Nelson at the same period. The tenacity of Corn- wallis prepared the way for Trafalgar ; it had already forced upon Napoleon the consciousness of his impotence, and was to drive him to those conti- nental complications which led to the catastrophe of Waterloo.
As Captain Mahan finely says, in a sentence often quoted, ' Those storm-beaten ships, upon which the soldiers of the grande armde never looked, stood between them and the dominion of the world. It was felt that this matter would be but half under- stood if the English side only were considered. Inquiry has therefore been made into the French evidences of the time, so that, when we accom- pany the captains of Cornwallis in their efforts to descry, as best they could, the condition of the enemy at Brest or Rochefort, we are able to discern from time to time important things they could not know.
And if, as is indeed the case, the preparations of our adversaries are shown to have been less formidable than at times they appeared, the historical light is truer, and we better understand the blockade. The title chosen for the book does not fully explain its scope, though it implies its limitation. In effect, it deals mainly with the operations under the command of Cornwallis, not merely with the blockade of Brest, but of Lorient and Rochefort, and of the French at Ferrol also, and with the operations generally in the Bay of Biscay, and of the cruisers stretching to the West.
The letter conveying to Keith the ideas of the Admiralty as to the dispositions he should make and the tactics he should pursue, to resist any attempted descent upon the coast in the winter of , is an instance. Outside the public sources of information I have to express my great obliga- tion to Colonel W. Cornwallis West, who unre- servedly placed in my hands a number of very valuable letters, including the correspondence of Cornwallis with Lord Melville, as well as the letter and order books of the admiral.
All but a few of the most interesting of the letters fall chronolo- gically into the next volume, but the letter and order books have been most valuable to me at every step, and the instructive documents they contain have been freely used. I am also greatly indebted to Mr. Wykeham Martin, who kindly gave me access to a number of interesting papers, some of which I have included in this volume. Secret Letters, Alfred Spont, of the Ecole des Chartes, and I have profited greatly by his inquiry. He did not anticipate a long peace with England.
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Neither did he desire it. He was accustomed to remark that the advantages of peace, and its effect upon trade, the arts, industry, and every branch of public prosperity, were only conditional so long as England could throw the weight of her navy and the influence of her gold into the scale. Sooner or later she would break the peace. Why not anticipate her? Why allow her the advan- tage of the first step. The project of invasion, long meditated, was not ripe.
The flotilla, which was begun as early as the autumn of 1 , was not ready. Spont, which occurred at Amehe-les-Bains Pyrenees-Orientales on May 2, , is recorded with peculiar regret in this place. He was a gentleman of great erudition, a diligent student, and a writer of many attainments, known to the members of the Navy Records Society through the publication, in , of his volume of Letters and Papers Relating to the War with France, 15 Spont undertook the researches of which a part of the fruit is included in this volume.
Unhappily his convalescence was not maintained, and the cutting short of his promising career at the early age of thirty-six is a loss to the cause of historical inquiry both in France and England. The expedition of Hoche to Ireland had ended dis- astrously, though the idea that inspired it was not abandoned. But the coast and arsenals, during the previous war, had fallen into a grievous state, and little had been done during the peace to set them in order or make good their wasted resources. When Caffarelli became Naval Prefect at Brest in he found the port no longer what he had known it.
Men were wanting for the forts, the ships, and the building yards. The batteries had not more than a quarter of their due complement. When the Venteux was taken, according to the Prefect, they did not open fire, and their help could not be greatly counted on. At other points upon the coast the batteries were badly equipped and badly provided, and the men were few. So grievous was the condition, in fact, that Caffarelli could conceive nothing worse.
Navigation and defence were alike impossible. Disastrous epi- sodes were to be feared, and we might land and spike the guns if we would. Never had he seen such complete abandonment of Finistere. The character of the inscrits made their value doubtful, and desertions were many. In the dock- yard, too, men were inadequate for the work, and masts, yards, and timber generally, copper, cordage, and arms were wanting. At Rochefort the con- ditions were no better. The continuous drain upon the resources of the port had depleted it of men, and the strength of the arrondissement was ex- hausted.
Dispatches from Saint-Tropez, Reminiscences of La Vie en Rosé
A large fleet assembled in Torbay, and the greatest effort was made to man the ships rapidly. On May 7 about men were impressed in Portsmouth, Portsea, and Gosport, and at Plymouth the press was the hottest that had been known. There was also a hot press upon the Thames, and in many places where men were accessible. At Portland a serious conflict occurred, and the Devonshire men grew very wary, and retired into the inland country. Rear-Admiral Campbell reported that nothing short of a military force would secure them for the service.
There seems to have been no great difficulty in completing the com- plements of the ships, though not all the men were of the best ; but many were discharged on various grounds, and Cornwallis even discharged several fishermen in Torbay. Not less by his intrepid courage and fearlessness on many occasions than by his sleepless endurance, extraordinary vigilance, and masterful combinations during the great blockade, he rendered most signal service to his country.
It never was his good fortune to be in chief command in any really great engagement, but it is impossible to study his life, or read the papers included in this volume, without feeling that he possessed in a high degree the finest qualities which can belong to a naval officer. It would be unpardonable before going forward to omit in this place some account of his services, the more so because they are comparatively little known ; and in what follows I must express my large in- debtedness to what Professor J.
Laugh ton has written in the ' Dictionary of National Biography. He was present at the reduction of Louisbourg in , and in the Dunkirk at Qui- beron Bay in In April , Rear- Admiral Saunders appointed him lieutenant of the Thunderer in the Mediterranean, and he assisted in the capture of the Achille, 64, off Cadiz on July His first independent command was in the Wasp sloop July , and he was successively in command of the Swift, Prince Edward, Guadeloupe frigate, and Pallas, in which last he was employed on the West Coast of Africa until In September of the same year he sailed from Jamaica with a convoy of merchant ships, but arrived in the Channel with only a few sail in company.
The merchants raised a vehement protest, but the convoy had separated partly owing to bad weather, and partly owing to the great misconduct of the masters, upon whom the blame ultimately fell. He arrived in the West Indies in April , and had a singular part in the battle of Grenada on July 6 in that year. George's Bay, she was cut off, and but for the Frenchman's caution might have been captured.
After refitting at Jamaica the Lion cruised in the Windward Passage, and on March 21, , in company with the Ruby, 64, and two frigates, had a sharp and unequal engage- ment with four French ships of the line and a frigate, which, however, drew off to protect their convoy. Three months later, near Bermuda, he fell in with the squadron of M. At this time Cornwallls formed his lifelong friendship with Nelson, each appreciating the fine qualities of the other, and when Nelson, after the Nicaragua expedition, was invalided from the Janus at the close of the year, Cornwallls brought him home in the Lion.
The high regard which the future victor of Trafalgar had for the gallant officer who kept the long watch in the Channel is expressed in the following letter from Nelson to Cornwallls, hitherto unpublished, of which the original is In the possession of Colonel Cornwallls West, by whose permission I am privi- leged to publish it here. I was then at that time of life to make the impres- sion which has never been shaken. But, on the score of fighting, I believe, my dear friend, that you have had your full share, and in obtaining the greatest victory, if it had been followed up, that our country ever saw.
Whip,' ap- parently from his open, florid countenance, a habit of twiddling his forefinger and thumb, and the character of his wig. The men, it is said, having mutinied, declared they would not fire a shot until they were paid, but Cornwallis brought them to reason by saying : ' My lads, the money cannot be paid till we return to port, and, as to your not fighting, I'll clap you alongside of the first large ship of the enemy I see, when the devil himself can't keep you from it.
Kitts on January 26, , and again in the famous actions of April 9 and 12 to leeward of Dominica between Rodney and De Grasse. The story of the action must not be told here. Hannay for the Navy Records Society, with Hood's strong condem- nation of Rodney for not pursuing and completing the victory. How far Hood's view was entertained by the captains has not hitherto been fully known. That Nelson shared it, though he was not present in the engagement, will be seen from the letter quoted above.
It was from Hood that he had learned what he knew of the affair. Wykeham Martin has kindly placed in my hands a writing which undoubtedly expresses Cornwallis's view. It is a versified account of the action of April 12, written roughly in Cornwallis's own very difficult hand, though we cannot feel quite certain that it was his own composition. Presumably he circulated it among his friends in the fleet. As verse it is of the poorest, but, as expressing the private judgment of one of Rodney's most pro- minent captains — and doubtless of many more — it is extremely valuable.
Although it does not con- cern the special subject of this book, it is significant in the life of Cornwallis, and I shall venture to publish here the halting, but bitingly sarcastic, lines : — On April the twelfth, by the dawn of the day, The French fleet were discovered to have bore away.
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The loss of a foremast to one of their fleet ' Gave cause to us Britons, our prospect to greet. Our tacks, they were different — the French on the lar- board — With a full sail to meet them, we stood on the starboard. Drake commanded the van whose ships were all good , The rear some of whom had suffered the ninth under Hood.
The French suffered most in meeting [? It was now only ten, my brave boys — 'twas no more — Had e'er England a prospect so glorious before? Our Admiral seized the moment a maintopsail to bend, But for masts, sail, and rigging, there seem'd no need to mend. What use did they put it to? Why, laid it aback! The French fleet were beaten and put to the run.
And the English with copper bottoms look'd on the fun. To larboard a sweep did Hood's squadron make. And the Caesar and Ardent did both of them take. Our chief, he lay quiet, with good ships around him — Some willing to move, but the devil confound him! Lay all aback, or by I'll undo ye. Had a chief worthy Britain commanded our fleet, Twenty-five good French ships had been laid at our feet. When intelligence of the outbreak of war arrived he seized much shipping, made himself master of Chandernagore, and, in concert with Colonel Braithwaite, reduced Pondicherry, where much treasure was captured.
Cornwallis came home in as a Rear- Admiral, hoisted his flag on board the Excellent, and in July, being promoted to the rank of Vice- Admiral, he had his flag successively in the Csesar, 80, and the Royal Sovereign, On June 16, , having four seventy-fours and two frigates in company, he fell in with the squadron of Villaret- Joyeuse, numbering about thirty sail, and including twelve ships of the line.
The Bellerophon and Brunswick proving poor sailers, and the wind shifting to the advantage of the French, he was almost enveloped on the 17th, and his rearmost ship, the Mars, in danger of being cut off, when he succeeded in making his memorable retreat. He wore to support the threatened ship, thus putting on a bold front, and the fortunate appearance of some strange sail, with the deceptive signalling of a look-out frigate, caused the timorous French- man to withdraw with his immensely preponder- ating force, under the impression that the English fleet was near.
Cornwallis arrived safely at Ply- mouth with the intelligence that the French were at sea, and his bold and successful operation raised his professional reputation to a very high pitch. Ap- pointed Commander-in-Chief in the West Indies in February , his flag-ship, the Royal Sovereign, having fouled one of the transports in the Channel, he returned to port, and declined to go out in the Astraea frigate on account of the ' very precarious state of his health,' which forbade him to sail in a small vessel without accommodation or comfort.
A court-martial was ordered, and, though he was ac- quitted, he considered himself aggrieved, was given permission to strike his flag, and was no further employed under that administration. He was pro- moted to be an admiral on February 14, , and in the next year succeeded Lord St.
Vincent in command in the Channel, having then his first great experience of the work of blockade. Thus, when he hoisted his flag in the Dreadnought, in May , on the outbreak of the war, he was an officer of long experience, tried service, courage, resolution, and popular character, though perhaps few suspected the qualities of strenuous endurance and fortitude in hardships that he so conspicuously displayed in the great blockade of I shall presently refer to the broader tactical disposi- tions in relation to the purposes of the French, to the essential character of the blockade, and after- wards to some special matters in the development of the hostilities.
The force at his disposal was yet to be increased to twenty-five sail. The inshore squadron, as first formed under command of Rear-Admiral Campbell, consisted of three sail of the line and two frigates, the vessels upon this and other particular service being frequently changed, owing to fresh disposi- tions of forces, and the need of refreshing and refit- ting in Cawsand Bay. Cornwallis also maintained a close watch upon Lorient and Rochefort, varied and strengthened as the need changed. It was intended that Sir Edward Pellew, with three ships of the line and a frigate, should take his station off Rochefort — which became a very active centre ot the French preparations in the following year — but he was first to intercept certain Dutch ships, under the command of Vice-Admiral de Winter, which were about to sail from Ferrol.
Frigates were always cruising to the west for the protection of the homeward-bound trade, and in July , Cornwallis was compelled to employ the Plantagenet and Thunderer, ships of the line, on the same service. It was of far greater import- ance to the First Consul that the ships returning from the West Indies should first reach the home ports in safety. Things went very badly at Cape Frangais, for the ravages of yellow fever, the insurrection of the blacks, and the pressure of the British made the place untenable, and surrender at length necessary.
Meanwhile most of the ships of fighting value had been ordered home. The Duquesne, 74, was captured by the Vanguard and Tartar July 25 in the West Indies, but it is important to note that not one of the line-of-battle ships which crossed the Atlantic fell into our hands at the time, though, as these pages show, a number of smaller vessels were captured. It resulted in part, no doubt, from the difficulty of the operation, but mostly from that want of frigates which so often entailed such unfortunate consequences.
The failure to intercept these six gun ships profoundly affected the subsequent course of operations. It made necessary the maintenance of a strong force off Corunna under Sir Edward Pellew, and afterwards of Rear- Admiral Cochrane, and the presence of the ships in the Spanish ports can scarcely have been without effect in stimulating the enterprise of the Spaniards.
Moreover, all the ships took part against us at Trafalgar, and from the mizen-top of one of them Nelson was shot. It was confidently assumed that Rear-Admiral Bedout would proceed to the Mediterranean, and would approach in the direction of Cape St. Vincent, or, if he should be apprised of hostilities, that he would first make the Barbary coast.
Upon this supposition the orders to Campbell were framed. It was not contem- plated that the French might run for Corunna, which, in effect, happened, and the Rear-Admiral was not given such latitude as would have en- abled him to provide for that particular contin- gency. Moreover, with his squadron, comprising the Canopus, Conqueror, Malta, and Sceptre, he had but one frigate, the Doris, and the Fox cutter, which were fully occupied in the neighbourhood of Gibraltar.
Vincent, and that Rear-Admiral Bedout, hearing of the outbreak of war as he approached 1 No. The implied censure he received from the Ad- miralty as to his employment of ships of the line on such service is noteworthy. The actual purpose of Napoleon was not at this time, nor for long afterwards, clear to anyone in this country, and possibly in his own mind was not well defined. Many papers in this volume throw Hght upon the preparations the First Consul was making, upon the inferences these raised in the minds of British seamen and statesmen, and the measures adopted in consequence.
I have not found any evidence — and, indeed, none might have been ex- pected — that our seamen and statesmen in attached great importance to the building of the invasion flotilla, which they watched, however, very diligently, or to the project of a landing in Surrey and Kent. That project, abandoned for a time under the Directory, was adopted afresh by the First Consul, and on the outbreak of war much enthusiasm was displayed in the ports in providing for the building of flat-bottomed craft.
The Prefect of Finistere called upon the municipal authorities at Brest to undertake the patriotic duty. Archives de la Ville de Brest. In the month of August , if not earlier, he contem- plated an expedition of some magnitude. The fete of the Republic September 23 was to be celebrated by the launch of the Vengeur at Brest, and other vessels were to take the water at Lorient and Rochefort. Archives de Lorient. Archives de Rochefort. A force of 32, men was to be embarked in the twenty ships indicated by name , and in certain frigates and corvettes, as well as in such hired transports as might be necessary, with rations for three months and water for two.
At Rochefort 10, men were to embark, provided in the same way, and, though ships were expected to arrive from Corunna or the French ports, it would still be necessary to hire transport for about 7, These arrangements were shortly afterwards changed, the number of men to be embarked at Brest being reduced to 20, Moreover, no possibility of put- ting to sea occurring at the time indicated, the date of the expedition was postponed until January , which would appear on all accounts to have been a most unpropitious season, and might lend colour to the view that the troops at that time were intended for the Mediterranean.
To meet the contingency the Admiralty contemplated that there should be five sail of the line to blockade the French at Ferrol and Corunna, and that Cornwallis should have twenty more, of which twelve should con- stantly be at sea — six with his flag off Ushant to attack the enemy very shortly after he should leave the port, such ships as might be necessary off Lorient and Rochefort, and the others, with frigates, inshore. The ships off Ferrol were ordered to be recruited with provisions and stores in Bantry Bay, instead of at Plymouth, and it was apparently at one time intended to place them under Lord Gardner's orders.
If the French should elude Cornwallis at Brest, he was to proceed to Cape Clear, and it was thought that the dispositions of Cornwallis and Gardner would prevent any move- ments being made from the western ports undis- covered ; but, as further measures of precaution, a squadron of four line-of-battle ships was stationed between Mizen Head and the Durseys, under the order of Captain Jervis and afterwards of Sir Robert Calder, and a further detachment was to be off Scilly.
From this time forward Cornwallis's orders to his captains containffrequent references as to what ' No. They were to keep sight of them until their destination was ascertained, communicating then with the Admiral off Ushant, or Pellew off Ferrol, and were to proceed to Ireland if the expedition should appear to be intended for a descent upon the coast there. If the French should escape from Brest, the ships inshore were to follow, spreading themselves between the enemy and Cornwallis's squadron, so that the route they took might be communicated to him, thus enabling him to follow with his whole force.
On the other hand, it is exceedingly interesting to read Captain Whitby's remarkable criticisms upon Nelson's blockade of Toulon, which will be found in No. This was in June At the very time when his plans should have been ripening. Admiral Thevenard, naval prefect at Lorient, was haunted by the idea that we should make a descent upon that port, and destroy it, with the ships and the arsenal at Port Liberte. We were secretly forming, he said, a body of 6, men, who could only be intended for such a purpose, which he evidently thought, from want of defenders, might be achieved.
General Boyer shared the view, and had certain proof that English gold was being used to spread sedition in the neighbouring country. A decree of the First Consul Decem- ber 18 ordered the naval authorities at certain of the ports to lay down the conditions on which transports should be chartered for the troops, and owners were to be made to subscribe to it. In February even greater activity was displayed.
The embargo at Bordeaux seemed to have been successful, for thirty or forty gunboats with troops, and twelve sail of merchant ships, with 6, men on board, sailed for Rochefort. Other gunboats were to follow, and on the 13th two line-of-battle ships and two frigates succeeded in reaching the port from Lorient. To meet the new danger, Cornwallis immediately made fresh dispositions, as I shall presently show.
At the same time the squadron was expected immediately to put to sea from Brest. Still nothing happened, and it is curious in the light of this activity to read Admiral Martin's account of the troubles of the flotilla at the very time. In July Napoleon was calling upon Latouche-Treville at Toulon to say on what day he could leave the port, and to meditate upon the great enterprise in hand.
Three sail of the line and four frigates were awaiting his movement at Rochefort, and twenty-one were ready at Brest. Marshal Marmont had his army embarked in three Dutch line-of-battle ships and four frigates, with twenty transports, in the Texel. At Etaples, Boulogne, Vimereux, and Ambleteuse were i,8cxD various flat-bottomed boats with , men and 10, horses. His idea was that, in the summer or autumn of , Latouche-Treville should proceed to Rochefort — leaving Ferrol, where he might be expected — and, with a squadron of sixteen sail of the line and eleven frigates, take instantly a wide course unobserved, and appear before Boulogne ; while the Brest squadron, threaten- ing to come out, should keep Cornwallis on the alert to resist its movement.
All the information at the Admiralty tended to show that the main object was some part of the United Kingdom. Lord Melville, however — of whose administrative wisdom I have conceived a high opinion, after reading the corre- spondence placed in my hands by Colonel Cornwallis West — entertained larger views.
The rumour that a part of the Brest fleet was about to put to sea led him to speculate, in July , whether the Cape of Good Hope or the colonies in the Leeward Islands might not be the object. Napoleon's project might be to gain command of the sea in some important quarter ; and a detachment escaping from Brest might release the ships at Rochefort and Ferrol, and, with the ships at Toulon, gain superiority over Nelson in the Mediterranean.
Lord Melville took the very sound view that such strategy as he attri- buted to the French would probably injure this country more in its essential interests than ' any desperate attempt they may make on any part of the United Kingdom against such a superiority at sea as we possess. Cornwallis regarded the statement as intended to deceive, but he com- municated it to Sir Charles Cotton, to whom he temporarily left the command on returning to England in July , in noteworthy orders which will be found in the last paper included in this volume. Undoubtedly the First Consul, though he did not rightly grasp the main essentials for his enterprise, had a sound understanding of some necessary conditions.
On May 29, , Decres had instructed Caffarelli that Rear-Admiral Dordelin, then in command of the squadron at Brest, was not to suffer the port to be closely blockaded. He was frequently to have his ships under way, both for the training of the ships' companies and to assist the coastwise traders ; but the ships were not to be endangered. The Minister remarked that the Admiral would have need of all his intelligence and his zeal to act with the activity and circumspection intended by the First Consul.
Cornwallis reported the activity in July, for the French were very busy, he said, on board the ships, and there had been a sham fight between a corvette and a brig of war in the roads. Caffarelli had a full sense of the necessary circumspection. His letters to Decres are full of the difficulty of moving in presence of the inshore squadron, and Admirals Thevenard and Martin wrote to a like effect. The division of four vessels then ready for sea at Brest could not appear in the Goulet without attracting the English ships, and the smallest accident to one of them would infallibly lead to her capture.
The orders of Cornwallis, successively to Rear-Admirals Campbell and Collingwood, Captains Sutton and Jervis, and Sir Thomas Graves, which are included in this volume, indicate, not less than the incidents of the blockade, how- vigilant was the watch that was kept. The deplorable condition of the port has been alluded to, and my survey of the situa- tion there may here most conveniently be concluded.
The scarcity of marines for the batteries was almost equalled by that of seamen for the fleet. After the embargo upon shipping, there was a press for men in May Officers, with a body of troops, pro- ceeded to Camfront, and seized many. This opera- tion spread alarm in Brest, where a diligent search was also made for men, the gates being closed. In all were obtained, the maire raising a great protest against the proceeding ; but desertion was rife at the time, and the means of repression were inadequate.
He had continual fear of spies and ap- prehension of the treachery of Chouans, and there seems to have been some justification for his alarm, for the Patriote, 74, was maliciously fired in the dockyard in January Truguet was to exercise the severest discipline on board the ships, to continually exercise the crews, and to allow no officer to sleep ashore. Decres despised him for his vanity, pre- sumption, and weakness. He was jealous of the advancement of Bruix, who had been given command of the flotilla, and felt aggrieved, in July, that he was not promoted to the same rank.
He was appointed, however, as a vice-admiral to the command on September Then began an embittered quarrel with Caflarelli. The letters of Decres to the First Consul in regard to this matter in the 'Archives Nationales' are both instructive and amusing. Caffarelli was working with all his heart and strength, while Truguet treated him with injustice and pretension, and presented a decree for signa- ture which would have annulled the Prefect's position. At length Napoleon had to intervene, and to define rigidly the respective duties of the Prefect and Ad- miral by decree. The Minister could see nothing but wordy inanity and selfish vainglory in Truguet's letters, while his orders, transmitted to the First Consul, were textual copies of those which Decres himself had sent to him.
An active officer was therefore to be appointed, who was accustomed to manoeuvres, who had lately been at sea, and who knew ' that the loss of several months passed in idleness was irreparable. This volume includes two of his reports to Napoleon. In the first, dated June 12, he expressed great satisfaction with the squadron, and declared that most of the vessels left nothing to be desired, and were ready for any service.
He was about to organise a squadron to manoeuvre in the broader waters outside the Goulet. There was need for 2, additional seamen, and for others to replace 1, men who were sick, and or more whose state of unfitness could scarcely be conceived. Their very presence was a reproach. He therefore demanded over 4, hardy, well-built conscripts, who had fallen into no evil military routine, and with these he was prepared to answer for the organisation of the force.
The French were not to be sealed in the port. On the contrary, Cornwallis was constantly prepared for their putting to sea, and his injunction to the officers succes- sively in command of the inshore squadron was that they should not be allowed to come out unobserved and unpursued.
In April , Captain Maitland, in the Boadicea, was instructed to endeavour to decoy some of the enemy's ships out of Rochefort. The idea runs through Cornwallis's orders that the inshore vessels at Brest were to keep the enemy in check until he could himself bring them to action with his squadron.
With this object his dispositions were nothing less than masterly. His own energy, determination, and vigilance inspired his officers, and these pages are evidence of how close was the watch he held upon the French. It will be seen, even in this selection, with what vigilance he was ready for every emergency and prepared for each contingency ; how he kept to his rendezvous in the teeth of tremendous gales until endurance would have been danger, and he then bore up for the shelter of Torbay ; how he varied and strengthened, as the need arose, the watch upon Lorient, Rochefort, and Ferrol ; how he arranged for the safety of the homeward-bound trade ; what was his system of sending in ships to refit and replenish ; how generously he supported his officers and praised them for their exertions and achievements ; and how little he said of himself.
The inshore squadron was instituted under command of Rear-Admiral Campbell on June 9, , Collingwood succeeding him at the end of the month. Ships of the line were advanced to the entrance of Brest harbour, and frigates within them, and the force was gradually strengthened as vessels became available and the enemy's prepara- tions advanced. At the time Cornwallis's informa- tion was that twenty French sail of the line were ordered to be made ready, stored for six months.
The two-deckers were kept inshore, while Corn- wallis had the three-deck ships with him off Ushant or upon other blockading service. Towards the close of October it was observed that the French ships were getting forward, and Cornwallis accordingly deemed it advisable to redouble his precautions. Captain Sutton was then in command inshore with five sail of the line and several frigates, brigs, and cutters.
At the same time the Admiral made his dispositions for the winter. It was questioned later on whether Douarnenez Bay might not answer for the whole squadron to watch the enemy, but upon nautical grounds Cornwallis did not take this view. In November the Admiral became anxious as to the insufficiency of his force for the watching of the ports in the Bay. The weather was growing worse, and a tremendous gale on the 22 nd drove several of the ships to Plymouth.
In December the Channel was swept by storms.
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The last week was exceedingly tempestuous, and the ships suffered terribly, the Impetueux narrowly escaping disaster, and the Atalante becoming almost a wreck. Cornwallis kept the sea as long as he could, having only the San Josef and Dreadnought with him, but, on December 30, the fury of the gale compelled him to seek shelter in Torbay lest he should be driven to the eastward.
The time was not wasted, for lighters were sent round from Plymouth with beer and stores, and killers proceeded to assist the men in Torbay in getting beef on board the ships. It is impossible to read the accounts of the tremendous hurricane of that time without feeling the highest admiration for the endurance and determination of Cornwallis and his officers.
Fortunately the wind had been at S. During the whole of December the average number of ships forming the force off Ushant and Brest was only eight ; at the end of December the ships were reduced to four; and up to January 19 the average was not much more than six. There were great gales again on January 19 and 28, and Corn- wallis was once more compelled to bear up for Torbay.
At this time it was observed that the ships in Brest Roads were much increased in number, and the Admiral urged greater vigilance on the part of all concerned in the watch. Graves was to be con- stantly on his guard, and ships were placed between his squadron and the ships off Ushant, so that intelligence of any movement of the enemy might be transmitted at once by signal. The Admiralty was very anxious to keep the ships together. All through the early months of Cornwallis was kept on the alert, expecting a movement on the enemy's part, and his letters and orders are testi- mony to his constant vigilance.
In March the inshore squadron numbered five sail of the line. Two of the enemy's sail of the line and two frigates having run over from Lorient to Rochefort, the Defiance and Impetueux were ordered to rejoin the flag off Ushant, the Boadicea and Diamond being stationed on that part of the coast to ob- serve the enemy.
Graves therefore received particular instructions in regard to the tactics to pursue. In the event of the French putting to sea he was to be careful not to allow his ships to be separated from the main squadron, and he was to remember that, in the state of the force, it was of the utmost conse- quence that single ships should not be disabled. There was another officer engaged in this great blockade whose service demands our admiration almost as much as that of Cornwallis — Sir Edward Pellew, the future Lord Exmouth — whose corre- spondence is as interesting as anything in the volume.
I have explained how the Dutch ships, which left Ferrol at the outbreak of the war, eluded his search. It had been intended that he should take station off Rochefort, but, upon his return, he discovered the squadron of Rear-Admiral Bedout 1 No. In the blockade of Ferrol and Corunna Pellew showed himself both a fine seaman and a tactful diplomatist.
As a seaman he accomplished the difficult task of maintaining his squadron off a dangerous and stormy coast, with no base nearer than Plymouth or Berehaven. The correspondence included in this volume will place Pellew high among seamen-diplomatists. The Spaniards were giving to the French the hospitality of the arsenal at Ferrol, to which place Bedout ran over from Corunna ; and to discover the attitude of the Spanish Government, as reflected in its naval preparations and the bearing of its officers, was a matter of the greatest importance.
Pellew was vigilance itself, but he never willingly permitted the slightest act that could offend the Spaniards, and his own relations with the Governor of Ferrol were conducted in the highest tone of Castilian courtesy. The result was that Pellew was usually well informed of the proceedings ashore, and, notwithstanding the great influence exercised by the French officers, was generally successful in obtaining supplies. Pellew was convinced that the squadron was destined for a French port, and if the ships escaped him he would push on for Rochefort, Lorient, or Brest. Captains Prowse and Winthrop were censured for adopting a tone of asperity to the Spanish authorities in their communications.
It is probable that Gourdon, who was then in command, saw greater difficulty in getting to Corunna than was at first apparent to his adversary ; and on January 7 Pellew wrote to Cornwallis that, if the attempt were made, his long watching might be ultimately rewarded. A little later he said the move to Betanzos Bay had greatly irritated the French Commodore, whose purpose it checkmated. A letter, however, from Nelson to Mr. Frere, dated on board the Victory on January 23, presently alarmed him by its rumour that the French at Toulon had either put to sea or were on the eve of doing so.
Quite characteristically he wrote to Mr. Frere : ' Although that is my fixed determination, a victory cannot be expected ; yet I think we can and shall prevent their going on any expedition. He had ' No. On December 17, , Mr. At the end of the month the Minister apprised him that it was intended to send out an expedition from Ferrol ; and, though it did not appear that immediate hostilities were contemplated, he was recommended to oppose the intended movement from the port, first by a declaration of his intention to do so by force, and secondly, if necessary, by the exercise of force.
Upon this Pellew remarked that he had been at pains to stand well with the Spaniards, and should be very cautious in acting as Mr. Frere desired, before it became absolutely necessary, which he did not expect would be the case for some time, if at all. The Admiralty in- structions to detain the Spanish ships and troops if they should put to sea will be found in No. He had already procured from Ferrol an anchor for the Malta. Among the other important or interesting matters illustrated by the letters and dispatches in these pages, I may allude to the details of the watch at Lorient, Rochefort, and other ports in the Bay, to the relations which existed between the French royalists and the British fleet, to the operations of spies and informers, and to the measures taken for the repression of privateering, the capture of French merchantmen, and, incidentally, to the system of convoy.
I have also collected many particulars I No. To Mr. Wilson, who has made an exhaustive study of the matter last named, I am indebted for drawing my attention to some important facts, and for notes which he kindly placed at my disposal. In the years and a spirit of great disaffection prevailed in the ships under command of St.
Vincent, and many who belonged to the brotherhood of United Irishmen formed a plot to obtain possession of the fleet. At the same period a mutinous spirit existed in the Brest squadron. The United Irishmen's oath was administered in the Defiance, and a desperate plot was laid to carry the ship into Brest, and to kill every officer and man that would hinder, except the master.
For this mutiny twenty-five seamen were tried, of whom nineteen were sentenced to death, eight being recommended to mercy. The ship was in corre- spondence with others, and there was a mutiny in the Captain before the close of the year. The men seized the deck. Captain Lord Proby was cut over the head when he attempted to come up, and the master escaped below with his life. In this case the mutineers appear to have been mostly English. I have not, how- ever, found any evidences of harsh treatment of the men in Cornwallls's squadron, who appear, besides, to have been of a better class than their prede- cessors.
Later on, off Corunna, several men in- tended desertion, and an oath was administered to one man ' to aid and assist Bonaparte with all his power and might on every occasion. In regard to this mutiny I have made an abstract of the proceedings of the court-martial, which condemned three men to death. There seems to be no evidence that the men had been ill-treated in the ship, but rather the contrary.
This was one of the most brilliant episodes performed by the boats of the inshore squadron. Lieu- tenant Kent in command, and Lieutenant Langston of the Marines, were mortally wounded in the fight. But for a change of wind Captain Brisbane's boats would have destroyed many. As it was, a gale springing up, with a heavy swell when he was close to the land on the night of the 12th, only by good seamanship did he keep the Goliath off the lee shore.
Another brave officer concerned in much of the work of the inshore squadron, very diligent and enterprising therein, to use Cornwallis's words, was Lieutenant Ussher of the Joseph cutter, afterwards Rear- Admiral Sir Thomas Ussher. In January 1 he captured three chasse-mardes coming through the Passage du Raz ; he went into Brest harbour at night and pulled in his boat along the whole French line until he passed the flagship, when he was chased away ; and in March he scuttled and sank two other ' No. But it is unnecessary to pursue further the tale of gallantry, which may be read at length in these pages.
A word may now be said as to the method pursued in this volume. In the early pages the details of the operations occupy much space ; and in this way the system is first made clear to the reader ; later on the routine is brought less pro- minently before him, and his attention is directed to the larger conditions and circumstances of the time. Considerable care has been devoted to the footnotes, which include many cross-references for the better investigation of any particular subject. The arrange- ment of the papers is necessarily arbitrary, being chronological according to the dates of the letters and dispatches, except in certain cases, where I have deemed it expedient to depart from this order.
Inclosures are placed with the dispatches to which they belong. It should be observed, however, that many of the documents here printed were them- selves originally inclosures, though they appear independently in these pages under their own dates. No system of arranging papers like these can be wholly satisfactory, and that adopted may be thought the most convenient.
It should be remembered, 1 Nos. Thus, in No. The fact is, of course, that the reader sees Pellew's letter of July 12 chronologically earlier than it reached either Cornwallis or Nepean ; but an attempt to arrange the papers in the order in which they reached and influenced their recipients would have led to endless difficulties and much uncertainty. The portrait of Cornwallis as a captain, about the year , which forms the frontispiece of the volume, is from an engraving after a full-length pastel drawing by D.
Gardner now in the possession of Colonel Cornwallis West. It is a matter of regret that no satisfactory portrait of the gallant officer as an admiral appears to be extant. In conclusion I have the pleasing duty ot acknowledging my indebtedness to Professor J. Laughton for many excellent suggestions, and for his kindness in reading my proofs, with much advantage to the work. Introduction vii 1. April 25, Admiralty to Cornwallis.
Vincent to Cornwallis. Note on the press for seamen. Campbell to Sir Evan Nepean. May 13 Cornwallis to Sir Evan Nepean. May 16 Cornwallis to Rear-Admiral Campbell and the captains May 16 May Marsden to Cornwallis. May 18 Marsden to Lord Nelson.
In , at the young age of 37, he would pass away, but he packed a lot of living in those 37 years. Comedy was certainly one of them. Years since his death in , movies have been made portraying his life on the big screen as well as the small screen […]. A terrible accident that left him unable to walk in the eyes of the doctor led to a triumph of the human spirit by a man determined to defy the odds.
By Geno McGahee I have been fascinated with teens that murder…the darker side of human nature. Offering tips to the screenwriter, presented in a sarcastic and humorous way, Bennett brings forth important information for anyone planning on writing a screenplay. Below is a sample of the tips that […].
May 31st, Geno. Glad you are enjoying and indulging…. Such wonderful and delicious candies. I wish was there. I cannot wait to be living in Milan for 6 months with a eurail pass at the ready so I can go exploring anytime of anyway well, sort of :P Rhi xx.
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And that presentation on the glass tray—how elegant! I adore pate de fruit, and I have a favorite place for them in Cannes. Those nougats are also heavenly. There is such intense flavor in those small goodies, and pastries that you are satisfied! Ooooo Vicki …….. I, too, am a lover of nougat, especially good nougat!! It sounds as if you are really enjoying the summer down there in the South of France. Enjoy those delicious sweetmeats and have some extra ones for me! No wonder you will fight the traffic and crowds — I would do the same for these lovely treats!
I discovered the wonderful Saint Tropezian tart only last year! Dear Vicki St Tropez looks wonderful. Particularly in the town, or if outside, in a place which provides transport eg a shuttle bus — if there is such a thing into town. Best wishes, Pamela. This is killing me, Vicki. I have a large sweet tooth, and these sweets could cure things. Happy Friday. Teresa xoxo. They look divine!