After Trafalgar: The Royal Navy & the Napoleonic Wars, 1806 – 1816

After Trafalgar: The Royal Navy & the Napoleonic Wars, 1806 – 1816

This article examines the operational history of the Royal Navy during the military and geopolitical progress of the Napoleonic Wars, from the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 to 27 August 1816 when Lord Exmouth suppressed the Algiers slave trade. This decade begins after Nelson and Collingwood smashed the invasion threat at Trafalgar, subsequent Franco-Spanish sea power thus reduced to mere squadrons, desperately rebuilding at bases scattered around the globe. The British Cabinet and Admiralty could at last concentrate on capturing France’s overseas naval bases and colonial factories. During these tumultuous years the United Kingdom persistently made war on Napoleonic France and captured the fleets and colonies of those nations which were allied to Bonaparte, such as Spain, Denmark, Russia and Italy. In 1812 the Royal Navy overcame the intervention of the United States, a growing power that had won dramatic naval victories against the United Kingdom. While ministries changed, and with them the prospects for peace, Cabinets tended to adopt the traditional strategy: wield the Royal Navy to blockade the enemy’s ports, land the British Army wherever possible, and supply treasure and resources to what became, after Napoleon’s escape from Elba, a total of seven military coalitions.

First COnsul2

Napoleon as First Consul, by Jean August Dominique Ingres c. 1803

Napoleon I

Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor on December 2nd 1804. He was 35 years old. Painted by the studio of Francois Gerard.

SHIPS

War at Sea during the Georgian period

74 gun

74-gun third rate ship of the line, 1790 pattern

The Royal Navy’s role as strategic implement was to carry out amphibious operations of a vast scale and complexity. The goal was often to influence the situation on the continent by creating military diversions (the Peninsula, Walcheren), capturing the enemy’s naval bases and destroying his fleets (Copenhagen, Mauritius, Basque Roads), or acquiring the enemy’s colonies. Convoying merchants and hunting privateers were vital trade protection responsibilities that regional commanders needed to master.

SLR0509

28-gun frigate c. 1763, 586 tons: 24 9-pdr cannons, four 3-pdrs on the quarterdeck

SLR0497

32 gun fifth rate, c. 1757, 660 tons

When these many global campaigns are considered to have occurred in addition to the nearly round the clock blockadade of European harbours, and by 1813 American ports, not to mention resources dedicated to convoy operations, logistical transportation and anti-privateering, it can be seen what influence an organization manned by not much more than 110,000 men in fact had in terms of executing Britain’s foreign policy and shaping world history.

1803

Part I

1793

The Wooden Walls

Emperor Napoleon

Emperor Napoleon I in his coronation robes, 1804, by Jean Louis Charles Pauquet

braudelmarkets

Late 18th century Western European commercial concentrations, from Fernand Braudel’s Wheels of Commerce. Paris and its environs represent the largest economic concentration

RN1806

Establishment of the Royal Navy in 1806

The Royal Navy expanded exponentially after 1793 when Revolutionary France declared war upon the United Kingdom and Holland, the latter whom the British were obliged to defend by the treaty of 1788. Mobilization increased the navy’s manpower estimate from the peacetime establishment of 20,000 seamen in 1792 to 73,000 the following year, a figure that continued to increase until it reached 100,000 in 1796. This level was maintained until the peak of 114,000 was reached in 1812. Another 165,000 seamen manned the merchant marine in 1812 (up from 118,000 in 1792). Nor do these figure include the Royal Marines: 5,000 in 1793, 30,000 by 1810, when the art of amphibious warfare had been finely honed.[1] At the beginning of 1806 the Royal Navy possessed 128 ships of the line, 15 fifty-gun cruisers, with another 88 and 19 building, respectively, for a total establishment of 250 ships, discounting frigates, etc.[2]

Fleet displacments2

Displacement tonnage of European fleets during 17th and 18th centuries

WarshipsFrigates

Numerical size of fleets during 18th century, ships of the line and frigates

The combined fleets of France and Spain were nearing parity with the Royal Navy when the Revolution broke out.

Chatham Dockyard by Farrington BHC1782

Chatham Dockyard, c. 1780s, by Joseph Farington

London Dockyard

London Docks at Wapping, 1803, by William Daniell

The generation of Royal Navy officers prominent in 1806 emerged from a long tradition of admirals, beginning in the hard school of the Elizabethan age. Prototypical practitioners such as the Earl of Lincoln, the Duke of Northumberland, Howard of Effingham, Sir John Hawkins, Francis Drake, Thomas Seymour, the Earl of Nottingham, the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Cumberland, Walter Raleigh, Richard Grenville, even Martin Frobisher, all illustrious predecessors who set the stage for their 17th century progeny. A new breed of sea generals evolved from the Civil War and Dutch Wars, including William Monson, George Somers, Edward Montagu, William Penn, the Duke of Northumberland, Robert Blake, George Monck, John Chichley, the Duke of York, the Duke of Grafton, and after 1688, Arthur Herbert, John Benbow, George Rooke, Stafford Fairborne, Viscount Torrington, John Leake and Edward Russell, whose 18th century successors were George Anson, George Clinton, Edward Vernon, Edward Hawke, John Byng, Edward Boscawen, John Byron, Samuel Barrington, George Pocock and James Cook, followed by George Rodney, Samuel Hood, John Harvey, Augustus Keppel, Richard Howe, George Darby, Robert Calder, and Charles Middleton.

Masters05

Officer generations of the Royal Navy, from Elizabeth I to George III, 1558-1815

David Syrett, Nicholas Rodger, Roger Knight and Andrew Lambert are in agreement that the generation of officers who had risen to prominence since the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars were the successors of more than a centuries worth of professional experience.[4] The “service elite” who emerged out of the phase 1740-1792,[5] which included the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War and the War of the First Coalition, had now produced the penultimate generation of 18th century officers: Alexander Hood, Adam Duncan, John Jervis, William Cornwallis, Hyde Parker, George Keith, John Duckworth, and Cuthbert Collingwood, whose uncompromising understudies and contemporaries, in particular those born between 1753 and 1775, included Horatio Nelson, James Gambier, Edward Pellew, Alan Hyde Gardner, James Saumarez, Thomas Thornbrough, Alexander Cochrane, Richard Strachan, Home Popham, John Warren, Robert Stopford, George Cockburn, Thomas Fremantle, William Sidney Smith, George Vancouver and Charles Stirling. It was these officers who carried Jervis and Nelson’s work through to completion.

barham2Earl Grey

Charles Middleton, Lord Barham, First Naval Lord, 1805 – 1806, & Charles Grey, Viscount Howick, Barham’s Whig successor. Middleton, a talented frigate commander and dissembling administrator who cut his teeth reducing privateers in the Caribbean during the Seven Years War, spent forty years of a long career modernizing the navy and improving the quality and scale of dockyard works, a passion he shared with Lord Sandwich

houseofcommons

The House of Lords and House of Commons in 1766

commons

The House of Commons in 1793-94, by Karl Anton Hickel

The direction of higher strategy naturally co-mingled with the formulation of government policy. A succession of more or less successful Tory or Whig dominated coalition ministries transitioned in the period after 1805 from the strategic defensive to a global naval offensive, blockading France and intercepting French trade, then conquering Napoleons’ numerous island bases, containing the Americans, and intervening directly on the Continent.

Cabinet

British Cabinet office holders, 1803-1815, from Christopher Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803-15 (1999)

Somerset House

Somersethouse03

Somerset 1809

Somerset House c. 1720. Location of the Navy Board, Victualling and Sick offices after 1789, engraving by Leonard Knyff & Johannes Kip, in 1795 by Joseph Farington & in 1809 by Rudolph Ackermann

London180401London180402

Views of London in 1804, by William Daniell

The Great Fleet Battles

Despite being a force of not much more than a hundred thousand men, and with less than 150 ships of the line, the Royal Navy won a string of victories between 1794-1805 that pulverized French, Spanish and Dutch naval power: the Glorious First of June (1794), Cape St. Vincent (1797), Camperdown (1797), the Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Cape Finisterre (1805) and finally Trafalgar (1805), concluded a spectacular series of fleet battles that shifted the maritime initiative to the United Kingdom.[3]

First of June

Lord Howe’s victory on the Glorious First of June, three hundred miles off Ushant, 1 June 1794, by Nicholas Pocock

Cape Saint Vincent

John Jervis’ victory at Cape St. Vincent, 14 February 1797, by Robert Cleveley

Camperdown

Adam Duncan’s victory against the Dutch at Camperdown, 11 October 1797, by Thomas Whitcombe

Cadiz

Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson was in command of the blockade of Cadiz in 1797, by Thomas Buttersworth

The Nile

Vice Admiral Nelson’s victory at Aboukir Bay, the Nile, 1 August 1798, by Nicholas Pocock

Copenhagen2

Viscount Nelson captures the Danish fleet at Copenhagen, 2 April 1801, by Nicholas Pocock

Cape Finisterre

Admiral Sir Robert Calder engages the Franco-Spanish fleet off Cape Finisterre, 23 July 1805, by William Anderson

Trafalgar

Lord Nelson’s decisive double line approach at Trafalgar, 21 October 1805

Pocock Trafalgar2

Nicholas Pocock’s 1808 painting showing Nelson and Collingwood’s divisions colliding with the Franco-Spanish battle line at Cape Trafalgar

trafalgar2

HMS Victory at Trafalgar by Gerald Maurice Burn

Battle_Of_Trafalgar_By_William_Lionel_Wyllie,_Juno_Tower,_CFB_Halifax_Nova_Scotia

Battle of Trafalgar by William Wyllie

TurnerTrafalgarWest Death of Nelson

The Battle of Trafalgar by Joseph Turner, c. 1822-24, & The Death of Nelson, by Benjamin West, 1806

Nelson1805

1805 poster commemorating Nelson’s death and the victory at Trafalgar

The antagonist of the Royal Navy in this violent struggle was the young Marine Nationale, at a low point after Trafalgar and Ortegal: in possession of only 19 solid ships of the line, but Spain could still marshal 57 and Holland would add another 16.[7] With its opponents so reduced the Royal Navy was therefore the largest navy in the world, indeed, outnumbering all of the European fleets combined (239 ships). As Charles Esdaile wrote, “Trafalgar’s significance is a matter of some dispute. In the short term it mattered little: Britain had already escaped the threat of invasion, and it did nothing to affect events in central Europe. Nor did it permanently establish the fact of British naval predominance, for the French shipyards were over the years able to make up Villeneuve’s losses and force the British to continue to commit immense resources to the naval struggle. All that can be said for certain is that, despite much bluster, Napoleon never again attempted to launch a frontal assault against Britain: henceforth victory would have to be attained by some form of economic warfare. In that sense, then, Trafalgar may be said to have changed the whole course of the war…” Napoleon could only commit to fight on the continent, hoping his privateers and detached squadrons would inflict some damage on Britain’s veritable cornucopia of trade.[8]

Battle Maps

European alliances and battle locations, 1802-1815

For the United Kingdom the challenge was now to take advantage of the destruction of the enemy fleets by leveraging British seapower to attack the French empire at its exposed flanks. As the editors of the Navy Records Society’s British Naval Documents, 1204-1960 described it, for Britain “the obvious alternative [to subsidizing continental coalitions] was to attack the empires of France and Spain, and disrupt their commerce; increasingly this strategy was used. The ‘blue water’ as opposed to ‘continental’ strategy aimed at defeating France by financial attrition.”[9] Napoleon was eager to do the same and after Trafalgar despatched squadrons to intercept British trade, such as the West Indian imports, which in 1803 were valued at £6.1 million and therefore had to be protected by the British from raiders crossing the Atlantic.[10]

kennedy

Britain’s maritime strategy against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, from Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (1983), p. 125

For both Britain and France then, as James Davey put it, “… in late 1805, the focus of the naval war moved away from Europe into the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.”[11] Britain’s essential expeditionary strategy came to the fore, and not only on the colonial front. Herbert Richmond and Roger Knight credit Secretary of War Henry Dundas with first advancing the colonial war policy, described by Knight as a “strategy of pre-emptive strikes against French ports”, exemplified first by the Ostend raid, carried out in May 1798 by Captain Sir Home Riggs Popham, a figure who will appear frequently in the various raids recounted below.[12] The expeditionary strategy that followed, as Julian Corbett recognized it, culminated in the Walcheren expedition of 1809: an attempt to leverage “the army to perfect our command of the sea against a fleet acting stubbornly on the defensive.”[13]

The Battle of Cape Ortegal

The Trafalgar campaign concluded when Captain Sir Richard Strachan’s squadron of five, tasked with blockading Ferrol, intercepted the squadron of Rear Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, whose four of the line had escaped destruction at Trafalgar. On 4/5 November 1805 off Cape Ortegal, Strachan’s small force made quick work of the French squadron, taking all four of Dumanoir’s ships, but in turn missing Captain Zacharie Allemand, who slipped through to Rochefort having captured 43 merchants and three warships during his cruise.[6]

Sir_R._Strachan's_Action_Nov_4_1805Strachan's action

Strachan2

Views of the Battle of Cape Ortegal, 4/5 November 1805, Captain Sir Richard Strachan completes the destruction of Villeneuve’s fleet, by Thomas Whitcombe.

 

Part II

1805-8

Napoleon’s Campaigns against Austria, Prussia and Russia: Ulm and Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland & Royal Navy Operations: San Domingo, South Africa, South America, Copenhagen, The Baltic, The Peninsula

The spectacular defeat of the combined fleet at Trafalgar, although decisive in terms of Britain’s security from invasion, for Napoleon was merely in the background: the military action that season took place on Austrian and German soil, and it was here that the future of the Third Coalition was determined. The Austrian advance into Bavaria at Ulm under Mack was encircled by Ney, who had been despatched by Napoleon to hold what he thought was only a minor flank while the French Emperor executed his counter-march. Mack, however, had been totally surrounded between 15 – 17 October and then forced to surrender on the 20th, the day before Trafalgar.[14] The various French corps had inflicted 10,000 casualties and captured a staggering 50,000 prisoners, leaving the route to Vienna open.[15]

ulm

Napoleon encircles Mack’s Austrian corps at Ulm, 20 October 1805, by Giuseppe-Pietro Bagetti

The violation of Ansbach by the French on 3 October brought Frederick William III of Prussia around to a compromise with Alexander I Czar of Russia who, on 25 October, met with the Prussian king at Potsdam. By 3 November and the signing of the Treaty of Potsdam Frederick William was brought into the war alongside Russia.[16] After capturing the Austrian capital unopposed on 12/13 November, Napoleon turned against the Russians and Austrians as Kutusov and Buxhowden were combining between Brunn and Olmutz with 90,000 men on 19 November.[17] Napoleon arrived with Murat at Brunn the next day with 40,000 men – the Emperor’s forces were at this time precariously divided between the Hungarian, Viennese, and Italian fronts.[18] With both sides short on supplies, and winter lengthening, a decision had to be reached.

Austerlitz01

Napoleon issues his orders the morning of 2 December 1805, by Carle Vernet

Austerlitz02

Views of the Battle of Austerlitz, by Simeon Fort & Giuseppe-Pietro d’apres Bagetti, c. 1834-5

On 2 December, his army now massed at 65,000, Napoleon induced the Allies (commanded jointly by Czar Alexander and Emperor Francis) to attack at Austerlitz, routing both in hard fighting and inflicting 26,000 Allied casualties and taking 180 guns at the cost of only 7,000-8,000 French.[19] Francis II asked Napoleon for a truce on 4 December and on the 26th Austria agreed to the peace settlement known as the Treaty of Pressburg, ceding to Napoleon large portions of Italy and Germany.[20] This series of reversals for the Third Coalition seemed to do in William Pitt, who died on 23 January 1806.[21]

NapoleonFrancois

Napoleon meeting with Holy Roman Emperor Francis II on 4 December 1805, by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

The War in 1806

French foreign minister Talleyrand, meanwhile, employed diplomacy to secure the treaty of Schonbrunn, 15 December 1805, neutralizing Prussia until August 1806.[22] After the New Year the Franco-Prussian alliance was solidified by the Treaty of Berlin, 24 February 1806, as a result of which Prussia annexed Hanover that March. Frederick William was in fact playing both sides and by July had resolved to join with the Russians.[23]

Napoleon at this time, between May and July, was focused on a brief campaign in Dalmatia during which Ragusa was occupied by the French, the Russians landed a force stationed on Corfu to take Cattaro, but Molitor arrived with reinforcements and forced the Russians to withdraw back to the Moldavian frontier.[24]

fox

Terracotta bust of Charles James Fox, by Joseph Nollekens, c. 1791

Republican sympathizer Charles Fox, Foreign Minister in Grenville’s Talents ministry, was attempting to negotiate a way out of the war, as had been arranged previously with Revolutionary France by the Peace of Amiens in 1802. While Fox was willing to accept Napoleon’s suzerainty in Europe he was not willing to suffer French domination of the Mediterranean, where Napoleon was employing Joseph to secure Sicily. This effort was frustrated by Collingwood and Sir Sidney Smith (see below), and even Fox soon exhausted his patience with Napoleon’s machinations. At any rate Fox’s death on 13 September, and subsequent replacement by Lord Howick (Earl Grey), reduced the probability of successful peace negotiations to a small margin.[25]

Pörträt_Kaiser_Franz_I_von_Österreich

In August 1806 Francis dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and became Francis I, Emperor of Austria

Napoleon’s next target was the Holy Roman Empire, towards the control of which Talleyrand concluded the treaty of Saint-Cloud on 19 July, prelude to the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine.[26] The Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, seeing the writing on the wall and worried that Napoleon would soon usurp the title for himself, took the pre-emptive measure on 6 August 1806 of dissolving the Empire and proclaiming that he was now Francis I of Austria.[27]

Napoleon meanwhile consolidated his position by installing his relatives onto the thrones of the conquered territories: Joseph Bonaparte marched to Naples where, by the end of March 1806, he was declared King of the Two Sicilies; Louis Bonaparte was installed as King of Holland on 5 June, and Caroline Bonaparte (Murat’s wife) gained the Grand Duchy of Berg. Napoleon’s sisters, Elise and Pauline, received various parts of Venetia, Istria and Dalmatia.[28] In 1807 Jerome Bonaparte became King of Westphalia.[29]

Herbig, Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich, 1787-1861; Frederick William III (1770-1840), King of Prussia

Frederick William III, King of Prussia, by Wilhelm Herbig, c. 1818

The Prussians soon realized that they would face the same fate as the Austrians and Russians the year before if they did not take action immediately. Napoleon had 160,000 men in six corps, stretched between Baireuth and Coburg, with which he intended to march on Berlin.[30] The Emperor started his advance on October 8th and quickly routed the divisional strength Prussian forces before him. By evening on the 12th Davout’s 3rd Corps was at Naumburg, Lannes’ 5th Corps at Jena and Augereau’s 7th Corps at Kahla, effectively cutting off from Berlin the King’s 50,000 men.[31]

By the 14th Napoleon’s corps were combining at Jena where he now had 95,000 men, with Davout and Bernadotte in position to attack the Prussian left flank at Auerstadt.[32]

Jena 1806

Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, 14 October 1806, by Carle Vernet and Jacques Swebach

Having cleared his lines of communication and smashed the Prussians at Jena, Napoleon continued the advance. Davout took Berlin on 25 October, enabling Napoleon to force the various German princes to surrender one by one, with Frederick William agreeing to Napoleon’s draconian terms on 6 November. This led on the 16th of November to the signing of the convention of Charlottenburg that formally took Prussia out of the war.[33] Napoleon imposed the Continental System as arranged by the Berlin Decree of 21 November.[34]

slavetrade1

Slave trade abolished, 1807

The British cabinet took the extraordinary measure of abolishing the slave trade by the Slave Trade Act of March 1807, hoping thus to further weaken Franco-Spanish legitimacy by encouraging their colonial populations to revolt, as had Haiti in 1791, or join with the British. Napoleon responded with the Milan Decree of December 1807, collectively an attempt to isolate Britain through imperial tariffs – but enforcing this trade bloc necessitated strict repression of the European nationalities that were under Napoleon’s control.[35]

Napoleon berlin

Napoleon enters Berlin, 27 October 1806, by Charles Meynier

The continental system was marginally successful in terms of increasing British deficits by restricting her access to the continental markets of Northern Europe. Exports to that region had been valued at £13.6 million in 1809, but fell to only £5.4 million in 1812, before recovering to £22.9 million in 1814. This decrease in European trade was relative, as total British exports and re-exports in 1800 were valued at £52.4 million, £60.9 million in 1810, £50.8 million in in 1812, and in 1814 at £70.3 million.[36] Thus it can be seen that the Continental System imposed some damage on Britain’s overseas trade in the years before Napoleon’s war with Russia and Britain’s war with America, but ultimately failed to cripple the economy of the United Kingdom.

1807, the Turn of Russia

AlexanderI

Portrait of Alexander I, by Carl August Schwerdgeburth, c. 1813

The Russians meanwhile marshalled their forces in Poland, Bennigsen with 60,000 men by mid-November 1806 occupied Warsaw and Buxhowden’s 40,000 were moving to join him.[37] Napoleon marched to confront them on 25 November, the Russians withdrew, and Murat entered Warsaw on the 28th, where Napoleon joined him on 18 December.

Kamensky

Marshal Kamenskoi (Mikhail Kamensky)

Marshal Kamenskoi (Mikhail Kamensky) assumed command of the united Russian army. Napoleon advanced with his army of 120,000 foot and 25,000 horse, but the Russians withdrew, and on the 26th Lannes engaged Benningsen at Pultusk, while Davout and Augereau drove the Russians from Golymin, with Kamenskoi withdrawing to Novgorod.[38] Campaigning in the winter conditions was arduous and at the beginning of 1807 Napoleon returned to Warsaw while his corps laid siege to Danzig,

Bennigsen

Count Levin August Bennigsen, by George Heitman and Thomas Wright

Bennigsen replaced Kamenskoi as Russian C-in-C, and on 15 January he marshalled his army at Biala. Bennigsen’s intention was to secure Konigsberg, where King Frederick William was then located, and then to march on Danzig and raise the siege. This was an error, as Napoleon quickly realized he could once again cross the Allies’ lines of communication and execute a repeat of his Jena maneuver.

Eylau02

Russian and French deployments before Eylau, from T. A. Dodge, Napoleon, vol. II (1909)

Napoleon’s intention, before taking command of the vanguard, was to have Soult, Ney, Davout, Murat, Augereau, and Bessieres variously surround the Russians before destroying them with a frontal attack.[39] Napoleon marched from Warsaw on 30 January with 75,000, while despatching orders for Ney and Bernadotte to join him with another 34,000.[40] Bennigsen luckily intercepted some of Napoleon’s orders intended for Bernadotte and realized his danger,[41] immediately ordering a concentration at Allenstein, he discovered to his surprise Soult and Murat already there. Benningsen marched north, trying to cross the Alle, but was blocked by the shadowing French. With the French corps closing in Bennigsen now began a series of retreats while Napoleon hastened to turn the Russian flank and attack their rear.

Eylau

Battle of Eylau, Bennigsen check’s Napoleon’s advance, 7 February 1807, by Giuseppe-Pietro Bagetti

The French closed in on February 6th, fighting some small engagements, and at last forced Bennigsen, with 126 battalions and 195 squadrons (75,000-80,000 men) to fight on the 7th at Eylau, where Soult was waiting, having stormed that place with the bayonet while the rest of the French army closed in. Although the Russians outnumbered the French, and possessed far more artillery, Napoleon’s corps were more mobile and their commanders fully understood their roles in the operational plan: while Murat, Augereau, and Soult held the centre at Eylau with 36,000 men, Davout would then march up on the right flank with 18,000, while Ney took the left flank with 15,000.[42] Bennigsen began shelling Eylau on the 8th, but was unaware of his danger as the French flanks arrived, with Davout intending to cut-off the Russian retreat.[43]

Heavy snow fall now obscured the battlefield, and by dawn on the 9th Napoleon had fought Bennigsen only to a draw, the arrival of the Prussians under L’Estocq amidst the poor weather deflecting Davout’s flank attack.[44] What had at first seemed like a another Jena devolved into a terrible attrition battle, Napoleon’s first serious check: there were 40,000 casualties left in the snow, the Grand Armee having suffered between 20,000 and 25,000 killed and wounded to the Russians’ 11,000, with another 2,500 prisoners destined for French prisons – still, Napoleon held the field after the slaughter and so the Russians withdrew to Konigsberg.[45]

Eylau02

Napoleon after Eylau, 9 February 1807, by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse

The carnage at Eylau had been a serious wakeup call for Napoleon, who promptly despatched General Bertrand to meet with Frederick William and try to arrange a peace settlement.[46] Napoleon’s corps required all spring to regain their strength, but then Danzig, which had been under siege since 11 March, surrendered on the 27th of May, and at last this enabled Napoleon time to mass against Bennigsen’s base at Konigsberg.[47]

Davout02Davout

Louis-Nicolas Davout, perhaps Napoleon’s ablest commander, as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1792 by Alexis-Nicolas Perignon, c. 1834, and Marshal Davout by Pierre Gautherot

Bennigsen took the offensive at once, departing Konigsberg on 5 June with his 50,000 men, but was badly outnumbered by Napoleon, who began once again to concentrate his corps against Bennigsen’s lines. Bennigsen brushed aside Ney’s corps, but soon found himself facing Napoleon’s combined army and so withdrew to his entrenchments at Heilsberg.[48] Here Napoleon’s plan of attack for 10 June was to have Murat, Soult and Lannes pin the Russians, while Ney, Davout and Mortier cut off Bennigsen’s retreat.[49]

Napoleon visited Murat and Soult’s headquarters that afternoon, and in the evening began to develop a frontal attack despite this being strictly contrary to the orders he had given his marshals. The result was a strong repulse of both Murat and Soult.[50] Despite this setback the turning movement continued to develop onto the 11th; Bennigsen realized that Davout was about to turn his flank and he withdrew from Heilsberg that night, reaching Friedland on the 13th.[51]

Friedland

Battle of Friedland, showing Bennigsen being squeezed back against the Alle river

Friedland01

Napoleon commanding at Friedland, 14 June 1807, by Carle Vernet

There on the morning of the 14th Lannes’ corps encountered the Russians first, but Napoleon  arrived at noon (having camped the night before at Eylau, site of the bloody winter battle only five months earlier), to support the 35,000 already engaged with another 50,000, pressing his attack before Bennigsen could bring his combined Russo-Prussian force of 90,000 into action.[52] Napoleon stove in Bagration’s corps after which the Russians collapsed, scrambling to get back across the river.[53]

Friedland

Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807, by Simeon Fort

The result was 15,000 Russian casualties to 7,500 French, and Bennigsen’s withdrawal to the Niemen, whither Alexander I asked Napoleon for a truce. The following negotiations culminated on 7 July 1807 with the Treaty of Tilsit.[54] This agreement between French Emperor and Russian Czar took the Russians out of the war, dismantled the Fourth Coalition, and left the British isolated. As Kissinger later phrased it: Napoleon arrived at Tilsit “to complete the division of the world.”[55]

The Treaty of Tilsit

After defeating Count von Bennigsen on 14 June, Napoleon and Czar Alexander I met in the middle of the Neman River to sign the Treaty of Tilsit, 7 July 1807

Neman River

Alexander I and Napoleon meeting on the Neman River, by Francois-Louis Couche

As 1808 dawned the Napoleonic Empire was at its height. Despite Napoleon’s control over the European continent, he did not possess the naval power to confront Britain. The Royal Navy thus continued its long-term naval blockade and began to recapture the various Franco-Spanish overseas colonies.

Europe1807

Europe in July 1807, after the Treaty of Tilsit

The War at Sea Renewed, 1805 – 1808

On 13/14 December 1805, when Admiral Cornwallis’ blockading force withdrew to Torbay for the winter, two French squadrons escaped Brest. The first, under Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez, made for the Cape of Good Hope and the South Atlantic, while the second, under Vice Admiral Corentine de Leissegues, sailed for the West Indies with orders to land 1,000 men at San Domingo and then intercept merchant traffic off Jamaica.[56] At the Admiralty this development was recognized as the transition point: Napoleon’s naval strategy had ceased to revolve around invasion through main action and instead became a prolonged guerre de course.

northwind

Prevailing winds in the North Atlantic

Cornwallis

Rear Admiral of the Blue William Cornwallis, c. February 1802

Brest Squadrons

The Brest squadrons, commanded by Vice Admiral Corentin Leissegues and Rear Admiral Jean Baptiste Willaumez, escaped Cornwallis’ Channel blockade on 13 December 1805

warren

Vice Admiral Sir John Warren, c. August 1800

Warren and Strachan

Vice Admiral Warren and Rear Admiral Strachan’s squadrons

Vice Admiral Sir John Warren, newly promoted on 5 November 1805, and Sir Richard Strachan, likewise promoted to Rear Admiral, were despatched on December 24th with orders to intercept the Brest squadrons and ensure they were not allowed to take prizes amongst Britain’s lucrative West Indian and South American trade.[57] Warren, in his flagship Foudroyant (80, Captain John C. White), with six of the line, sailed south after Willaumez early in January 1806, but could not locate his quarry.

Dianna

38-gun fifth rate (1794), HMS Diana 

Having been joined by Captain Sir Harry Neale in HMS London (98), Warren shifted his flag and on the 13th of March, while they were cruising off the Cape Verde Islands, Foudroyant and the 38-gun frigate Amazon of Captain William Parker, took the 74 or 80-gun Marengo, Rear Admiral Linois’ flagship, along with the frigate Belle Poule (40). Linois had been in the process of returning from the East Indies, where he had been displaced by Rear Admiral Edward Pellew’s efforts.[58]

Battle_of_13_March_1806

Vice Admiral Warren’s London (98, Captain Sir Harry Neale), with Amazon (38, Captain William Parker) and Foudroyant (80, Captain John Chambers White) takes Linois’ Marengo and Belle Poule (40) on 13 March 1806

After returning to Spithead with his prizes Warren was ordered to resume the search for Willaumez’ squadron. Again Warren was unable to locate it in North American waters during 1806. In October 1807 Warren was promoted to C-in-C North America.[59] Strachan, for his part, had no more luck, having arrived at Barbados early in August 1806, but had in fact passed not more than 60 miles from Willaumez on the night of the 18th.[60]

Sir Samuel Hood

Engraving of Sir Samuel Hood, c. November 1806, after losing his right arm in the September action.

On 25 September 1806 Commodore Samuel Hood, flying his flag in the Centaur (74) and with Monarch, Mars, and three other warships, captured a squadron of five French warships, including four French 40-gun frigates, which had been heading from Rochefort to the West Indies.[61] Hood lost his right arm to a musket ball during the action. Lauded as a naval hero, Hood accompanied Lord Gambier in the Copenhagen expedition in 1807.[62] A similar success story was that of Captain Cochrane in the Imperieuse (40) who, between 13 December 1806 and 7 January 1807, captured or destroyed 15 French ships.[63]

735131.a

Hood’s action against the Rochefort Squadron, 25 September 1806, engraving by John Heaviside Clark

bevan

HMS Leopard detains USS Chesapeake, 21 June 1807, by Irwin John Bevan

Here we must briefly mention the Leopard-Chesapeake incident, a significant development in the prelude to the intervention of the United States in 1812: On 21 June 1807 the 50-gun HMS Leopard, captained by Salusbury Humphreys, intercepted the 38-gun USS Chesapeake with orders to recover deserters known to be aboard.[64] Chesapeake refused to allow a search and so Leopard fired broadsides at the American warship until it surrendered. Four sailors were taken off the frigate, but only one proved to be a Briton; this despite there being 2,500 British seamen serving in the American merchant marine: a major diplomatic embarrassment for the British government that dramatically weakened relations between the two nations.[65]

The West Indies and the Battle of San Domingo, 6 February 1806

Duckworth 1809

Admiral Sir John Duckworth, c. 1809-1810 by William Beechey

The other side of the Brest squadron’s story revolved around the command of Admiral Sir John Duckworth who, after Trafalgar, had been ordered by Collingwood to blockade Cadiz. On Christmas Day 1805 Duckworth encountered Leissengues’ squadron and chased him to the West Indies.[66] Duckworth detached Powerful (74) on January 2nd to join Rear Admiral Pellew in the East Indies, and then steered for Barbados where he arrived on the 12th.

sandomingo

Duckworth’s Cadiz blockade squadron in the chase against Leissengues’ six of the line.

The next week Duckworth was joined by Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane in the Northumberland (74) and Captain Pym in the Atlas (74). Duckworth at first had no intelligence regarding Leissengues’ deployments and thus intended to re-cross the Atlantic and return to his blockade station, but on February 1st the carronade sloop Kingfisher informed him of French warships near San Domingo. Acting on this intelligence Duckworth made sail for San Domingo and on February 5th arrived at the eastern end of the island. There he was joined by the 36-gun frigate Magicienne, bearing intelligence that further confirmed the reports of nearby French warships. On the morning of the 6th Duckworth sailed for the harbour of San Domingo where his frigates identified Leissengues’ squadron, in fact anchored and deploying troops ashore since 20 January.[67]

Barbados2

Barbados

John Pitt’s sketchbook of British warships and merchants at Barbados (including the 98-gun Temeraire)

Leissengues immediately realized the danger and at 7:30 am slipped anchors. Duckworth, who had six of the line, mainly cruisers, and two frigates plus his carronade sloops, was outnumbered by Leissengues’ nine warships, including three frigates.

SanDominiogomap

Chart of Battle of San Domingo from J. Davey, In Nelson’s Wake

Battle of Havana by Serres

The Battle of San Domingo, 6 February 1806, by Nicholas Pocock

In the action that followed Duckworth split his squadron into two columns, with a third frigate group cutting off the French escape route, and engaged the French line in two attacks. At the front of the line Duckworth’s flagship Superb engaged the Alexandre at 10:10 am, while the Northumberland (74) engaged the Imperial, the latter mounting 120 or 130 guns, and ultimately held off three RN warships for nearly two hours. Duckworth’s division was sustaining heavy casualties but as planned Rear Admiral Thomas Louis came up leading his division in the Canopus (80) and poured in fire against the French line.[68] This movement swung the battle in Duckworth’s favour, and at 11:30 am Leissengues in Imperial attempted to steer away, only to run aground ten minutes later.

SLR0568

SLR0568

80-gun second rate HMS Canopus, French capture from the Nile

boats2

Loss of the Indiaman Bangalore (1802), by Thoomas Tegg

In the event Duckworth captured one 80, two 74s, and forced the Imperial and the Diomede (72) to wreck themselves ashore, and they were subsequently burned. The French frigates and a corvette escaped. The British suffered 64 (or 74) killed and 264 or 294 wounded, the French suffered between 500-760 killed and wounded.[69] Duckworth for his part had justified his movements, although he likely would have faced recrimination had he returned home empty-handed, having abandoned his station in the pursuit.[70] Vice Admiral de Leissegues, for his part, in fact escaped the destruction of his squadron and later returned to Europe.

Caribbean

Caribbean theatre of operations

Rear Admiral Willaumez continued to evade the RN and sailed for the Cape of Good Hope. There he learned of Commodore Home Popham’s success (see below), preventing him from taking any action and so sailed for South America but eventually concentrating at Martinique on June 24th, before departing on 1 July for Montserrat.[71] Willaumez was then spotted on the 6th off Tortola by Rear Admiral Cochrane, whom Duckworth had detached after San Domingo to observe Martinique, but as he was then preparing to escort a merchant convoy, and as Cochrane’s four of the line were outnumbered by Willaumez’s six, with a convoy of 280 merchants to protect, pursuit was impossible.[72]

F8855 002

HMS Superb (74), built 1760

Willaumez, who had Jerome Bonaparte with him, did not wait around to confront Cochrane and instead made for Jamaica to intercept merchant traffic there, in the process seizing a number of prizes. Jerome in the Veteran (74), for whatever reason, made an ill-advised sortie out of the Caribbean and eventually returned to France. Willaumez was compelled to search north for Napoleon’s youngest brother, failed to locate him, and towards the end of August returned to the Caribbean where he docked at Havana.[73] Willaumez ultimately dispersed his squadron, and his ships variously met their fates along the American seaboard, although the Foudroyant made it back to Brest in February 1807.[74]

James Richard Dacres, Esqr, Vice Admiral of the Red (PAD3166) Artist/Maker R. Page after Robert Bowyer

Vice Admiral James Dacres, C-in-C Jamaica, by Robert Bowyer, R. Page and Joyce Gold, 31 October 1811

Operations in the Caribbean continued late in 1806: St. Thomas was taken from the Danish on 21 December by Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane and General Bowyer, and St. Croix was quietly occupied on Christmas Day.[75] This series of successes was immediately followed up by the capture of the Dutch island of Curacao. On 29 November 1806 Vice Admiral James Dacres at Jamaica despatched Captain Charles Brisbane in the Arethusa (38) with Latona (38, Captain James Wood), and Anson (44, Captain Charles Lydiard), with orders to join with the Fishguard (38) when they located it, then reconnoitre the island of Curacao to determine if the Dutch there were willing to join the Allies.[76] Brisbane’s squadron reached Aruba on 22 December, collecting the Fishguard next day. Brisbane relied on surprise and intended to force the Dutch to concede at cannon-point. Besides Fort Republiek and Fort Amsterdam, the latter with 60 cannon, there was a Dutch 36-gun frigate, a 22-gun corvette, and two armed schooners in the harbour.[77]

brisbane

Captain Sir Charles Brisbane, knighted for the capture of Curacao, engraving by William Greatbach from drawing by James Northcote, c. 1837

Curacoa

The capture of Curacao, 1 January 1807 by Thomas Whitcomb

Arethusa was flying a flag of truce when Brisbane led the squadron into the harbour at 5 am on 1 January 1807. The Dutch wisely ignored the flag and opened fire. The Fishguard at the rear of the line ran ground, and at 6:15 am Brisbane opened fire and moved in alongside the Dutch frigate before Brisbane himself led the boarding action that captured it. Latona and Anson took the Dutch corvette. Brisbane followed up this coup by leading the shore party that stormed Fort Amsterdam at 7:30 am. Afterwards the seaman and officers returned to their ships and engaged Fort Republiek, silencing it by 10 am. At noon the island’s governor, M. Pierre Jean Changuion, surrendered. The British had lost three killed and 14 wounded, while the Dutch suffered nearly 200 casualties, a testament to the value of surprise and swift execution.[78]

The East Indies

Squadrons

Disposition of British squadrons in January 1807, from Christopher Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803-15 (1999)

Rear Admiral Edward Pellew was appointed C-in-C East Indies in April 1804, and thither he departed that July in the Culloden. For political reasons related to Pellew’s defence of Addington’s ministry, Henry Dundas, Lord Melville, who superseded St. Vincent at the Admiralty, decided to split Pellew’s command in half, with Rear Admiral Thomas Troubridge taking the eastern half. Troubridge departed England on 27 April 1805 in the Blenheim (74). This was a situation guaranteed to produce confusion and the results were far from optimal.[79]

French Indiaman

French East Indiaman of 1764, 900 tons, 20-25 guns

Troubridge was escorting a convoy of 11 merchants when, on 6 August 1805, after departing Madagascar, he fell in with Admiral Linois in the Marengo, who however declined to engage, but as we have seen was captured in March the following year by Vice Admiral Warren. Troubridge rendezvoused with Pellew’s squadron at Madras on 22 August and Pellew, ignoring Troubridge’s orders to take half of the East Indies squadron under his command, simply added Troubridge to his existing squadron – to the latter’s outrage.[80]

Dance

PU5677

The BEIC trade from the factory at Canton was exposed to French interception, as Admiral Linois had attempted in the Malacca Strait on 14/15 February 1804. Linois with Marengo (74), Belle Poule (40), and Semillante, plus the corvettes Berceau and Aventurier engaged Captain Nathanial Dance’s convoy of 39 ships, who, with great pluck, turned the tables on Linois and chased him off. Paintings by William Daniell & Thomas Sutherland, September 1804

Indiaman

Large Indiaman, Scaleby Castle (1798), 1,237 tons, 26 18-pdrs

Pellew intended to have Troubridge convoy the China trade, a vital mission given Linois’ presence off Sumatra and the lack of any escort for the BEIC ships in those waters. Indeed, Linois brought five captured BEIC ships into Mauritius between 1804-6, but eventually exhausted his supplies and was thus intercepted and captured on 13 March 1806 by Warren off the Canaries while returning to France.[81] Troubridge, for his part, felt that he was being shuttled off to an unimportant command by Pellew and was so upset that he preferred to stay behind at Penang in the sloop Rattlesnake, presumably sour grapes. The disconnect between Pellew and Troubridge was equalized somewhat on 9 November when Troubridge was promoted to Rear Admiral of the White, the same rank as Pellew, but the situation in London shifted rapidly following the death of Pitt and the return to power of the Whigs under the Talents ministry indicated a change in policy.

02

Edward Pellew as Captain in 1797, painted by Thomas Lawrence, also engraving by Thomas Lawrence

Troubridge

Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge, engraving based on drawing by Sir William Beechey

As such Pellew ultimately came out on top and in April 1806 orders were despatched to make Troubridge C-in-C Cape of Good Hope, following on Commodore Popham’s operation (see below). These orders did not arrive until January 1807 and Troubridge then departed from Madras on 12 January in the aged Blenheim (90) with the Java (36), a Dutch prize, and the brig Harrier (18). Tragically Troubridge’s squadron was caught in a storm early in February off Madagascar, with the Blenheim and Java foundering with all hands.[82] Harrier returned to Madras and informed Pellew, who sent Troubridge’s son in the Greyhound to search, the French at Mauritius even offering assistance, but nothing was ever heard from Troubridge’s lost squadron.

Weyth

Illustration by N. C. Wyeth for the 1911 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Pellew for his part had his eye on the island of Java, and in June 1807 despatched from Madras Captain Peter Rainier in the Caroline (36) with Commander Fleetwood Pellew, Sir Edward’s son, in the Psyche (36), to observe the the harbour of Griessee where he suspected two Dutch 68-gun ships were located.[83]

pellew2

Nicholas Pocock’s drawing of Captain Fleetwood Pellew of the Psyche engaging two Dutch frigates at Samarang roadstead, Java, 31 August 1807

Captain Pellew in fact discovered from a prize secured on 30 August that these Dutch warships were present at the harbour of Samarang, but were not in sailing condition. The next morning Pellew despatched Lt. Lambert Kersteman and acting Lt. Charles Sullivan in Psyche’s boats to enter the roadstead. There they found a number of merchants, including the armed merchantmen Resolutie and Ceres, plus the corvette Scipio (24). Psyche’s boatcrew captured an armed schooner and a merchant brig, both of which they burned, while Psyche chased the other merchants and Scipio to ground, the Dutch frigates then surrendering one by one and were taken as prizes.[84]

PellewSquadronJava

Rear Admiral Pellew’s squadron for the capture of the Dutch ships at Griessee (Surabaya), Java, 5/6 December 1807

Suitably reinforced, Rear Admiral Pellew sailed to Java and on 5 December and demanded the surrender of the warships at Griessee (Surabaya), an ultimatum that was refused. The next day Pellew sailed in with the Culloden (74) and Powerful (74), defeating a small 12-gun fort. The Rear Admiral compelled the local authorities to acquiesce to his terms, although the senior Dutch officer, Captain Cowell, had already scuttled his ships including the Revolutie (68), Pluto (68), the hulk Kortenaar (68), and two transports.[85] Thus, by the beginning of 1808, the Dutch naval presence in the East Indies had been terminated, if not all its various colonies yet captured.

The South African Expedition

southwind

Prevailing winds in the South Atlantic

SouthAfrica

South Africa and Mauritius, control points on merchant routes from India and China

Cape Town belonged to the Dutch but had been taken in 1801 and then returned in the peace of 1803. With the Netherlands now under Napoleonic occupation the capture of Cape Town once again became a priority. Between August – September 1805 an expedition was outfitted to retake Cape Town, commanded by Commodore Sir Home Riggs Popham and carrying 5,000 troops under Major General Sir David Baird.[86] Popham, flying his flag from the 64-gun Diadem, sailed south from San Salvador on 26 November and on 4 January 1806 anchored at Robben Island, Table Bay,  before proceeding to land Baird’s men over the course of the 6th and 7th. The Leda (38), Encounter (14) and Protector (12) carried out a bombardment and landed men to clear the enemy from the area of Blauwberg Bay (Bloubergstrand) while the main landing was underway.[87]

Popham1783

Home Riggs Popham as a 21 year old Lieutenant in 1783

Baird

Lieutenant General Sir David Baird, c. 1814 by Thomas Hodgetts

On January 8th the expeditionary force marched towards Cape Town and defeated a Dutch defensive force under Lt. General J. W. Janssens, inflicting 700 casualties and sustaining 15 KIA and 189 WIA. The capital was quickly secured when the Dutch capitulated on the 10th, with Popham and Baird capturing 113 brass and 343 iron cannon. Added to the spoils was the 40-gun French frigate Volontaire, captured on 4 March when it approached the British squadron thinking them Dutch – although the Dutch had burnt their own 68-gun ship Bato on 13 January to prevent capture.[88] With this singular triumph under his belt, the amphibious enthusiast Popham next prepared an expedition to cross the Atlantic and take Buenos Aires: the ambitious objective was to capture all of Spanish South America.

popham1806

Commodore Popham’s squadron for the Cape of Good Hope operationSLR0534

1,375-ton 64-gun (1774) third rate

F9204 002

 940-ton 38-gun (1780) frigate

The Capture of Buenos Aires: The South American Expedition of 1806

South AmericaSouth America in 1806, organized into conglomerated Spanish and Portuguese Viceroyalties.

Popham 1807

Commodore Sir Home Riggs Popham, c. 1807 by Anthony Cardon, copied from Mather Brown;

beresfordWilliam

Major General Williams Carr Beresford

Popham sailed from South Africa on 14 April 1806 with one of Baird’s regiments, 1,200 men from the 71st Regiment under Major General William Beresford, plus an attached Royal Marine battalion of 435.[89] With his flag in the Narcissus Popham made haste for Flores to gather intelligence, arriving there on 8 June, followed by the rest of the squadron and its transports five days later. While the Diadem blockaded Montevideo and Raisonnable and Diomede held the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, Popham with the transports worked their way up the river, arriving off Point Quilmes, 12 miles from Buenos Aires, on 25 June. The task force was put ashore that night and in the morning General Beresford brushed aside the Spanish garrison of 2,000. A capitulation agreement was negotiated on 28 June and signed on 2 July by the governor Don Josef de La Quintana, Viceroy of the Rio de la Plata: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia had been seized.[90]

Charles_Stirling

montevido

The relief squadron under Rear Admiral Charles Stirling

Popham and Beresford’s triumph was short lived however as 2,000 Argentinians under the command of French general Santiago Liniers retook Buenos Aires between 10-12 August (the British suffering 48 KIA and 107 WIA) and then imprisoned the rest of the garrison, including Major General Beresford.[91] A relief expedition under Rear Admiral Charles Stirling, with Brigadier General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, arrived on 3 December and Popham was sent back to England in disgrace. On 3 February Stirling and Auchmuty captured Montevideo with the loss of 192 killed, 421 wounded and eight missing. Upon returning to England on 20 February Popham was immediately arrested and tried for court martial, although in the event receiving only a sever reprimand and his rank being reduce from Commodore to Captain.[92] A fateful decision as we shall see.

murray

Rear Admiral George Murray

whitelocke

Lieutenant General John Whitelocke, engraving by James Hopwood, based on drawing by Edward Hastings, March 1808

In May Auchmuty was superseded by Brigadier General Crauford who brought 5,000 reinforcements, a figure further reinforced by the arrival of Lt. General John Whitelocke and Rear Admiral George Murray in the Polyphemus (64) on 15 June. The army went ashore at Buenos Aires on 28 June and launched an attack against the city on 5 July. Although they carried the city the cost of 2,500 casualties was excessive. Whitelocke agreed thereafter to evacuate the entire operation and the adventure was terminated as the Talent’s ministry collapsed. Whitelocke was later dismissed from service.[93]

Collingwood in the Mediterranean

Collingwood in 1807

Baron Collingwood in 1807, copy by Henry Howard from painting by Giuseppe Politi

In the spring of 1806 Napoleon moved to consolidate his position in Italy, in particular by reducing Ferdinand of Naples. Sicily provided supplies to Britain’s Mediterranean naval base at Malta, much as Reunion supplied Isle de France at Mauritius, and both islands were needed to assemble and victual expeditions, as was done in Egypt and at the Dardanelles.[94]

Smith

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, by Edward Ball, March 1803

Unable to prevent the loss of Naples, but before the end of March when Napoleon’s forces overran that theatre, the Allies’ mixed Anglo-Russian force of 10,000 was withdrawn to Sicily and Ferdinand himself was evacuated by HMS Excellent.[95] Collingwood, hoping to create some problems for the French, detached Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, an exceptional intelligence officer, to take command of the small squadron of five of the line and two or three frigates then assembling at Messina. Sidney Smith arrived there on 21 April and from then until the middle of May Smith’s squadron was engaged assisting the Neapolitans: operations that included the capture of the island of Capri on 11 May, a successful action that was followed by the landing at Calabria of Major General John Stuart with between 4,800 – 5,200 men on the night of 30 June / 1 July.[96]

Capri

The Island of Capri, by William Wyllie

Calabria

View of Calabria in the Straits of Messina, by William Wyllie

John Stuart

Major General John Stuart, landed with 4,800 at Calabria, 1 July 1806

Stuart’s forces routed 7,000 French troops in a sharp action on 4 July near the village of Maida, suffering only 45 killed and 280 wounded, but capturing or killing the majority of the French forces, perhaps capturing as many as 4,000.[97] Although one biographer considers the action largely the success of his subordinates, General Stuart was  nevertheless promptly knighted and awarded a life pension of £1,000.[98] This minor success however could not change the strategic situation in Naples ,as Gaeta fell to the French on 18 July and the English were at last forced to withdraw to Sicily.[99]

The Naval War in the Baltic & the Capture of Copenhagen, 1807

Duke of POrtland 2

William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, Prime Minister 1807-1809, copy by John Powell of Joshua Reynold, c. 1782

Canning 1806

George Canning, Secretary for War

By the summer of 1806 Napoleon’s naval potential was 45 French and Spanish warships spread across his Atlantic and Mediterranean ports. He expected another six Dutch and eight French warships to be ready soon from Antwerp, Flushing and Texel, plus perhaps another 11 from Sweden and 16 from Denmark, not to mention the 20 Russian warships at Reval and Kronstadt. The Baltic therefore was liable to become a critical theatre of the war, at precisely the time Napoleon would be campaigning in Germany. To pre-empt Napoleon’s movements in this direction Secretary for War George Canning and Foreign Secretary Viscount Castlereagh determined on 19 July to present an ultimatum to the Danes insisting that they hand over their fleet to the British. When this was predictably rejected an expedition was organized to land troops as part of a combined naval bombardment of Copenhagen with the goal of capturing the Danish fleet and stores.[100]

Castlereagh 1809

Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh, the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, Foreign Secretary in Cavendish’s government

The Bombardment of Copenhagen

Baron Gambier

Admiral James Gambier, Baron Gambier, by William Beechey & William Holl, print c. 1833

The Admiralty wasted no time and Admiral James Gambier’s fleet of 22 warships, with 19,000 troops under Lieutenant General Lord Cathcart, sailed from Yarmouth on 26 July.[101] Gambier’s Captain of the Fleet, despite his court martial in March having concluded only the month prior, was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Home Popham.[102] The Dutch capital was defended in the same fashion as it had been during Nelson’s attack in 1801: 174 guns, more than two dozen mortars, plus 5,500 soldiers, another 4,000 sailors and 3,600 militia, the dismasted Mars (64), five mobile frigates, and 30 gunboats.[103] The rest of the Danish fleet, about 30 warships of various sizes, were to be blockaded inside the port of Copenhagen itself.

Copenhagen

Admiral Gambier’s fleet for the Copenhagen expedition

Cathcart

William Cathcart, Earl Cathcart, 1807, by John Hoppner and Henry Meyer

Landings commenced on 16 August, the Danish gunboats offered a token resistance on the 17th, and Gambier established his blockade line on the 18th.[104] A small flotilla of bomb vessels, commanded by Captain Peter Puget in the Goliath (74), prepared to attack the Danish defences, but on the morning of the 23rd the Danes launched a spoiling attack with their gunboats, successfully driving off the British, yet the Danes were in turn driven back by cannon fire from the English beachhead.[105]

D4083_3

Speedwell-type 142 ton sloop of 12 guns, c. 1752

puget

Captain Puget’s bomb flotilla, plus the third-rate Goliath during the attack on 23 August 1807

Trial 1790 fighting vessel

A 1790 pattern 123-ton shallow draft 12 cannon gunboat of the bomb vessel-type

Repeated sorties to disrupt the British siege works on the 25th, 26th and 27th failed, but the effort was renewed on the 31st. On 1 September the British issued a proclamation to General Peyman commanding the Copenhagen garrison to surrender, but he refused and thus Copenhagen was bombarded with a terrific fire the following evening. The cannonade continued for 48 hours, Peyman finally requesting terms on the 5th and then capitulating on the 7th.[106]

Copenhagen2

'Admiral Gambier's Action off Copenhagen, 1807"

PAH8055   Bombardement de Copenhague, du 2 au 5 Septembr 1807. Vue considerable Flotte anglaise commendee par l'Admiral Gambier 

Views of the Bombardment of Copenhagen, by Christian William Eckersberg, c. 1807, Thomas Buttersworth, c. 1813, and 2-5 September 1807 by Jean Laurent Rugendas

The entire Danish fleet at Copenhagen was captured (of which four battleships were eventually added to the Royal Navy), including the various gunboats – as many as 52 smaller vessels and 15 frigates – plus 20,000 tons of naval stores. Gambier returned the fleet to England on October 21st, and was promptly elevated to the peerage as Baron Gambier. The cost for the British was primarily diplomatic, as they had of course attacked what had been a neutral country, thus handing Napoleon a propaganda coup if nothing else. The immediate consequence was to prevent Napoleon from gaining the Danish fleet in the aftermath of Tilsit.[107]

Copenhagen3

List of Danish warships surrendered at Copenhagen

Copenhagen

Breaking up Danish naval stores and ship construction

The Dardanelles and Alexandria, February – March 1807

The Ottoman Empire was also in play during 1806/7, as the Sultan was gravitating towards Napoleon’s sphere. On 2 November 1806 Collingwood despatched Rear Admiral Thomas Louis in Canopus (80), along with Thunderer (74), Standard (64), Active (38) and Nautilus (18) to reconnoitre the Dardanelles, where they arrived and anchored at Tenedos on the 21st. During December Rear Admiral Louis had recourse to collect the British ambassador who had separately departed Constantinople aboard the Endymion, a prudent decision given the deterioration of relations with the Sultan.[108]

Tenedos

Galipoli

Sketch of the site of Troy, looking towards Tenedos, & Pacha’s Point lighthouse at Gallipoli, July-October 1853 by George Mends

On 22 November the British government sent orders to Collingwood to despatch an expeditionary squadron to anchor off Constantinople and pressure the Porte not to intervene against British interests (the Ottoman Empire declared war against Russia in December 1806).[109] Collingwood did not receive these orders until 12 January 1807, but upon receipt immediately determined upon Vice Admiral Duckworth for the mission. Duckworth departed on the 15th aboard the Royal George (100). His orders were to consult with Mr. Arbuthnot, the British ambassador who was then waiting with Rear Admiral Louis at Tenedos and, if the situation called for it, to sail to Constantinople and induce the Turks to hand over their fleet.[110]

Rear Admiral Louis2

Rear Admiral Thomas Louis of the White, d. 17 May 1807

Duckworth3

Vice Admiral Duckworth, by Giovanni Vendramini, December 1809

duckworthdardanlles

The Dardanelles expeditionary force

Ship model of Queen Charlotte (1789) Warship, first rate, 100 guns, made circa 1789 Three quarter bow SLR0555

2,278-ton 100-gun first rate Queen Charlotte (1789), the same generation as HMS Royal George (1788

From the start Duckworth was concerned about the operation and could only have become more worried when at 9 pm on 14 February a fire broke out aboard HMS Ajax, quickly got out of hand, causing the ship to drift ashore at Tenedos where it exploded at 5 am the following morning, with the loss of 252 out of 633 officers and men.[111]

Dardanelles

1811 chart of the Dardanelles, reproduced in William Laird Clowes, History of the Royal Navy, volume V, p. 223

Duckworth2

Duckworth’s anchorage at the entrance of the Dardanelles, 14 February 1807, by Nicholas Pocock

Despite this setback Duckworth was on the move again on the morning of the 19th, his force divided into two divisions, with Rear Admiral Sir Sidney Smith commanding the Pompee, Thunderer, Standard and Active, and carrying orders to defeat the Turkish squadron (one 64, one 40, two 36s, one 32, one 22 corvette, one 18 corvette and two 10 corvettes, two brigs and three gunboats) at Point Pesquies, modern Nara Burnu, if they attempted to intervene.[112]

Sidney Smith

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith

The Turkish positions were largely obsolete medieval fortifications and were little threat so long as the British were able to suppress them with naval cannonade. The Turks started firing as soon as Duckworth entered the peninsula, the British suffering six killed and 51 wounded. At about 10 am the Turkish squadron deployed to engage Duckworth, but they were immediately countered by Sidney Smith, whose division anchored alongside the Turkish line and rapidly reduced them – within thirty minutes all but two of the Turkish warships had surrendered.

Duckworth

Whitecome

Thomas Whitcombe’s paintings of Duckworth’s action on 19 February 1807.

Dardanelles

Sidney Smith reduces the Turkish fleet.

The Turkish vessels were immediately burned, while landing parties of seamen and Royal Marines secured the Point Pesquies redoubt and spiked the guns at the cost of four killed and 26 wounded.[113] Sidney Smith detached Active as a rear guard and at 5 pm his division hauled in their anchors, setting sail to rejoin Duckworth’s division.

The whole fleet was eight miles from Constantinople by 8 pm on 20 February. The next morning the Endymion was despatched to the city to deliver Mr. Arbuthnot’s declaration – including a 36 hour ultimatum demanding the surrender of the remaining Turkish fleet and its stores.[114] The Porte simply ignored the attempt to deliver the ultimatum, and despite expiration of the original timeline no consequences were imposed. Ambassador Arbuthnot fell sick on the 22nd and the Turks continued to ignore Duckworth’s demands. The essential dilemma for Duckworth was that his goal ultimately was to arrange a peace settlement, not bombard Constantinople, and although there can be no doubt that Duckworth was a fighting Admiral he was perhaps deficient as a diplomat and negotiator.

naraburnu

topography

Nara Burnu today, & modern topography of the straits

Lacking a dedicated landing force it was not clear how Duckworth could have convinced the Turks to concede.[115] At any rate, after a series of further shore skirmishes and failed efforts to force negotiations, on 1 March Duckworth gave up. He weighed anchor around 8:30 am and sailed back towards the Mediterranean where he arrived back at Point Pesquies, retrieved the Active at 5 pm on 2 March, and was underway at 7:30 am the next morning. That afternoon Duckworth was engaged by the Turkish redoubt at Point Pesquies, including 800 lb shot from medieval cannons, and it was not until 11:35 pm that the entire fleet had passed the batteries and exited the Dardanelles, the squadron having sustained a further 26 killed and 130 wounded during this withdrawal.[116] It seems evident that the Dardanelles operation, much like the Gallipoli campaign a century later, should have been delayed until a landing force had been assembled – perhaps as little as a month could have made the difference.[117]

Alexandria

Lithograph of Alexandria, c. 1847 by William Delamotte and Charles Chabot

The disjointed planning efforts of the Grenville ministry were demonstrated thoroughly when Duckworth arrived back in the Mediterranean and was shortly thereafter joined by eight Russian battleships under Vice Admiral Seniavine, who was eager to try again, an endeavour Duckworth notably refused to attempt. Worse, the landing force Duckworth actually needed had been arranged and despatched on 6 March in 33 transports, but was not destined for the Dardanelles: escorted by Captain Benjamin Hallowell in the Tigre (74), with the Apollo (38) and the Wizard (16), 5,000 troops under Major General Fraser had departed from Messina bound for Alexandria. The task force arrived off Egypt between the 15th and the 19th, with landings taking place on the 17th and the 18th. Aboukir castle was stormed on the 20th and Alexandria surrendered on the 21st. Duckworth arrived on the 22nd. Major General Fraser attempted to take Rosetta by assault but was repulsed with the loss of 400 men – including the Major General himself.[118]

BHC0589

1 April 1809, HMS Mercury (28), Captain Henry Duncan, cut out the French gunboat Leda from Rovigno harbour, south west of Trieste, by William John Huggins

The operation lingered on until September when the entire force was withdrawn. Duckworth had already departed in the Royal George for England, leaving behind Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis who died aboard the Canopus on 17 May. The Russians, however, captured Lemnos and Tenedos, defeating a Turkish fleet off Lemnos, until peace was settled by the Treaty of Tilsit and Vice Admiral Seniavine sailed for the strait of Gibraltar, destined, he hoped, for the Baltic. Later in 1808 Collingwood was called away to attempt with diplomacy what Duckworth had failed to achieve with battleships, and successfully convinced the Turks to abandon the war. The Ottoman Empire signed a peace treaty in January 1809.[119]

The 1807 operations against Denmark and Turkey created new enemies. Worse, Napoleon knocked Prussia and Russia out of the war at the battles of Jena and Friedland with the result, as we have seen, of the signing of the treaty of Tilsit on 7 July. Proposed Royal Navy operations against the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean did not materialize, in part the result of the revolt against Napoleon in Spain, leaving the 18,000 men and more than 80 warships garrisoning Jamaica, plus the Leeward and Windward Islands, with little to do. In December Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane did however capture the Danish Caribbean colonies of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. Johns (see above).[120]

The Baltic Campaign, 1808

Napoleon’s efforts to diminish Britain’s trade through privateering resulted in the French taking 559 British merchants in 1807.[121]  With the Russian declaration of hostilities on 31 October 1807 the principal theatre of operations for 1808 transitioned to the Baltic, where Britain’s Swedish ally was at risk of attack from the Russians – potentially jeopardizing Britain’s valuable Scandinavian trade.[122]

Phipps

Henry Phipps, Baron Mulgrave, First Lord of the Admiralty in Portland’s ministry, 1807-10, engraving by Charles Turner from 1807 drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence, published November 1808

First Lord of the Admiralty the Baron Mulgrave selected Vice Admiral James Saumarez for the Baltic mission. Saumarez was to take a fleet, 12 or 13 sail of the line, and supported by Rear Admirals Hood and Keats, destroy the Russian fleet at Cronstadt.[123] Saumarez and Lt. General Sir John Moore were in the course of preparing this expedition when the Czar pre-empted them by invading Finland.[124]

Saumarez

Vice Admiral James Saumarez, copy of Thomas Phillips portrait, made by Edwin Williams in 1862

Moore

Lieutenant General Sir John Moore, by Thomas Lawrence, engraving by Charles Turner, drawn c. 1805, published April 1809

Saumarez departed with Hood on 21 March 1808 for Gothenburg where he would rendezvous with Captain George Parker in the Stately (64), the officer on station there, and then confer with the British envoy at Stockholm regarding the best measures for protecting Sweden from further Russian or French incursion.[125] Ultimately a force of 62 ships, including 16 line of battleships, plus frigates and transports, capable of delivering 10,000 men, was built up and employed blockading the Russians in harbour and protecting merchant trade.[126]

Victory

Vice Admiral Saumarez’s flagship during the Baltic campaign of 1808 was HMS Victory, rendered here off Belem Castle, by Thomas Buttersworth in 1797

hms victory

crew

Victory at the Portsmouth historic dockyard in 2020 & Crew composition.

A brief engagement occurred on 22 March when Captain Parker in the Stately with Captain Robert Campbell in the Nassau (64, ex Holstein captured at Copenhagen 1801), having sailed from Gothenburg on the 19th, engaged Denmark’s only remaining ship of the line, the 64 (or 74) gun Prinds Christian Frederik north of Zealand. After a two hour fight the Danish ship surrendered and ran aground. The crew was removed and the ship set afire afterwards.[127]

F9213 003

F9213 004

A merchant brig, 100 tons

Normal trade protection and blockade actions continued until the Russians sortied on 25 August, intent on attacking Stockholm. The Royal Navy in the Baltic was by now divided into several components, and it was Rear Admiral Samuel Hood’s command that spotted the Russian fleet at sea off Hango on the 25th. Hood commanded a combined English and Swedish squadron, although a third of the Swedish seaman were incapacitated with scurvy and therefore of doubtful capacity.[128] Hood made to chase the Russians, who fled, until at 6:45 am on the 26th the Sevolod (or Sewolod, 74), appeared and engaged the British, no doubt hoping to delay them while the rest of the Russians escaped.

BHC2779

Sir Samuel Hood, c. 1808-1812

During this action the Implacable (74, Captain Byam Martin) and the Centaur (74, Captain William Webley; flag of Rear Admiral Hood), engaged the Sevolod at pistol shot, and by 8 am captured that ship, with six killed and 26 wounded on Implacable, and 48 killed and 80 wounded on the Sevolod. The approach of the rest of the Russian fleet convinced Hood to withdraw. The unmanned Sevolod crashed ashore at Roggersvick, and the Russians were attempting to float her when Hood returned with his two 74s and at 8 pm Captain Webley in the Centaur engaged the Sevolod close, the latter striking for the second time forty minutes later. Centaur had three killed and 27 wounded, the Sevolod 180 killed and wounded. The Russian warship was then burnt, all of which was action enough to convince the Russians not to attempt the crossing to Stockholm, and they were confined to their base at Roggersvik.[129]

Eagles

To reduce this place Saumarez, on 30 August, arrived with Victory, Mars, Goliath and Africa and maintained the blockade of Roggersvik until October. Although plans were drawn up to launch a fireship attack against the Russian squadron, as was done at the Basque Roads the following year, it was later determined that the Russian harbour defences prevented any such action. Saumarez was compelled to depart with the arrival of winter, and the Russians returned thence to Cronstadt.[130]

Baltic1808

James Saumarez’s squadron for the 1808 Baltic expedition

The Baltic squadron continued to intercept French and Danish privateers throughout 1809. On 11 May the Melpomene (38), Captain Peter Parker, located a Danish 6-gun cutter ashore at Huilbo, Jutland. Parker anchored, launched his boats, and then fired broadsides at the cutter until his boats arrived and completed the destruction, this handy operation completed at the cost of only six wounded. Four days later the 18-pdr frigate Tartar (32), under Captain Joseph Baker, chased ashore a small 4-gun privateer of 24 crew near Felixberg, Courland. The frigate’s boats were hoisted out and the diminutive Danish warship easily captured

peter parker

Captain Peter Parker, by John Hoppner, c. 1808-10

On 7 July 1809 the Implacable (74, Captain Samuel Warren), Melpomene (38 – Parker), and the sloop Prometheus (18, Captain Thomas Forrest), while cruising off the coast of Finland, located a Russian gunboat flotilla of eight vessels at Porcola Point. Bellerophon (74) presently arrived and together 17 boats were assembled under Lieutenant Joseph Hawkey of Implacable, with 270 officers and men. The boat team waited until 9 pm and then rowed in under heavy fire and boarded the Russian flotilla at which point Lt. Hawkey was killed by grape shot, but Lt. Charles Allen took over command and completed the task of capturing the Russian gunboats, with 17 killed and 27 wounded, to the Russian’s 63 killed. A similar action was carried out on 25 July by 17 boats from the Princess Caroline (74), Minotaur (74),Cerberus (32) and the sloop Prometheus (18), against four Russian gunboats and a brig at Fredericksham, gulf of Finland. Once again the crew waited until the evening and then rowed into the anchorage and captured the Russian vessels, at cost of 9 killed and 46 wounded, the Russians losing 28 killed and 59 wounded (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 38, 40-2).

boats

N. C. Wyeth illustration

Although Sweden was protected for now, ultimately the Baltic campaign failed to prevent the Russians from annexing Finland at the Peace of Frederikshamn, 17 September 1809.[131] Saumarez did however effect the capture of the island of Anholt in May,[132] in addition to his sterling work protecting merchant traffic through the Great Belt strait: between June and December 1809 the Royal Navy escorted 2,210 merchants through those confined Danish waters without loss, however, a Norwegian convoy of 47 was taken by Danish Captain Lorentz Fisker with five brigs during a daring sortie in July 1810.[133] The British position in the Baltic was now tenuous as Sweden was then under Napoleon’s thumb, the Emperor having installed Marshal Bernadotte as monarch in October 1810.[134] He was soon induced to declare war against Britain, and did so in November.

The Peninsular Campaign, 1807 – 1809

Penninsula

The Iberian Campaign

On 18 October 1807 Napoleon despatched General Jean Junot, with 25,000 men, to secure French interests in Spain and prevent British intervention in Portugal. Within a month of crossing the Spanish frontier the French forces  were built up to 75,000 in three corps.[135] Junot was soon ordered to secure Lisbon, lest the British intervene, which they were in fact preparing to do.

PU3508

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith by Henry Heath, February 1808

Smith Tagus

 The Tagus expedition, November 1807

Sidney Smith was despatched early in November 1807 with a squadron to the mouth of the Tagus, his flag after the Dardanelles and Egyptian operations now in the new Hibernia (120), [136]

HMS Hibernia, PY0762

HMS Hibernia (120), Sidney Smith’s flagship in 1807-1808

Lord Strangford, the British representative at Lisbon, departed to join Rear Admiral Smith, who was by mid-November blockading Portuguese merchant traffic. Going aboard the Confiance (20), Strangford sailed back to Lisbon on the 27th, under flag of truce, demanding that the Portuguese navy surrender – and if they did so, the blockade would be lifted. The Prince Regent Dom Joao accepted these terms, and on the 29th embarked aboard the Portuguese fleet with Queen Maria II and the rest of the royal family, not to mention the state treasury, for the voyage to Brazil.

John

Dom Joao, the Prince Regent, later John VI of Portugal, painted in 1803 by Domingos Sequeira

Embarkation

The Embarkation of the Portuguese Royal Family, 29 November 1807

GrahamMoore

Captain Sir Graham Moore, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1792

Rear Admiral Smith detached Captain Graham Moore’s squadron, including the Marlborough, London, Monarch and Bedford, as escort to Rio de Janeiro. The flight of the royal family was not a moment too soon, as General Junot entered Lisbon on 30 November.[137] The Portuguese fleet of eight of the line and its frigates was turned over to the Royal Navy. As Herbert Richmond observed this operation, in conjunction with Copenhagen, put Napoleon’s net warship losses to no less than 25 capital ships.[138]

SLR0457

F9201 003

24 gun sixth rate circa 1740, & 22 gun sixth rate c. 1725

As an addendum to this series of events, it should be mentioned that after the British squadron arrived at Rio de Janeiro Captain James Yeo in the Confiance (22, 18-pdrs) was detached to sail to Paraguay where he had orders to consult with the governor there regarding the possibility of an attack upon Cayenne, capital of French Guiana. Yeo in fact landed a small contingent of 400 at Cayenne on 7 January 1809 and carried that place within five weeks despite it being garrisoned by 1,200 men and 200 guns. As a result Yeo received the favours of the prince regent of Portugal and was then knighted by George III on 21 June 1810.[139]

wythe2

N. C. Wyeth illustration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Cayenne2

Captain Sir James Yeo captures Cayenne, January 1809: View of Constable Rocks off Cayenne, by T. Conder and Joseph Johnson, 1 December 1791

The other purpose of Rear Admiral Smith off the Portuguese coast was to intercept Vice Admiral Seniavine’s squadron that as we have seen was making for the Baltic after the collapse of the Dardanelles and Alexandrian expeditions, and who Britain was now at war with following the Russian declaration of 31 October. Late in 1807 Smith was reinforced by the arrival of Commodore Peter Halkett in the Ganges (74) who had with him also the Defence (74), Alfred (74) the Ruby (64) and the Agamemnon (64), sailing from Portsmouth on 6 December.[140] While Smith was escorting the Portuguese royals Vice Admiral Seniavine slipped into the Tagus and was there when Smith returned to cruise off Lisbon early in 1808.

CayenneMedal

Medal commemorating the capture of Cayenne, 1809

The Spanish however were engaged in diplomacy with their British counterparts and on 4 July arranged a cessation of hostilities. Rear Admiral Smith maintained his blockade off the Tagus while minor operations continued along the Portuguese coast. Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, who replaced Smith in charge of the Tagus blockade, on September 3rd signed a surrender agreement with Vice Admiral Seniavine by which the Russians conceded to hand over their warships to the British until relations could be normalized – the crews were repatriated.[141]

PX9307

Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, c. 1812 by James Ramsay and Henry Meyer

Tagus Squadron

Russian squadron surrendered at the Tagus, 3 September 1808

The situation in Spain had been evolving rapidly since the summer of 1808. In May a Spanish rebellion against French rule broke out in Madrid, and in July 22,000 men of the occupation army were forced to surrender at Baylen. This disaster isolated Junot in Portugal. In June Foreign Secretary Canning stated his intention to support the Portuguese by landing British troops.[142] There were several contingents that could be utilized for this purpose: 9,000 men in Ireland, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, who had been gathering to relieve the South American expedition, and Sir John Moore’s 10,000 with Saumarez in the Baltic, plus another 10,000 Spanish troops who were operating with Rear Admiral Keats against the Danish.[143]

Junot

Jean-Andoche Junot, Napoleon’s general in Portugal during 1807-8, by Vincent-Nicolas Raverat, c. 1834

The first 5,000 of Lt. General Wellesley’s 9,000 strong southern Ireland contingent landed at Corunna on 20 July 1808.[144] On 1 August Lt. General Sir John Moore arrived, having been rerouted from the Baltic, and landed his men to support the Portuguese, bringing the British expeditionary force up to 15,000. With this small army Wellesley defeated General Delaborde’s corps at Rolica on 17 August,[145] and was then engaged by Junot’s 14,000 men at the Battle of Vimeira (Vimeiro) on 21 August, the British having arrived at that place to receive reinforcements in the form of two brigades landed by sea.

Arthur Wellesley

Sir Arthur Wellesley, who made the initial landing in August 1808 and commanded at Vimeiro on the 21st of August, portrait by Robert Holme, c. 1804

1024px-Batalha_do_Vimeiro

Battle of Vimeiro (Vimeira), Wellesley defeats Junot

In the aftermath of Vimeria the Convention of Cintra was signed (30 August 1808) securing Portugal for the Allies. Wellesley returned to Dublin while the expedition in Portugal was built up to the maximum of 40,000, now under the overall command of General Hew Dalrymple who was supported by Lt. Generals Harry Burrard and Sir John Moore, although Burrard and Dalrymple were presently cashiered following popular resentment that Vimeira had not been fully exploited.[146] On 24 December Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, recently arrived from the Baltic, landed Major General Beresford’s troops at Madeira where that naval base was being developed into a staging area in preparation for further operations in Portugal and at the Cape.[147] By Christmas 1808 Napoleon was committing 305,000 men to Spain, and occupying Madrid.[148]

hew

General Sir Hew Whitefoord Dalrymple, by John Jackson, published by Charles Turner, 1829-31

Moore

Lieutenant General Sir John Moore, portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Moore, who had been left in charge while Wellesley, Dalrymple and Burrard were in London answering to government inquiry, marched into Spain and soon found that Madrid had been occupied by the French. His route of retreat was presently cut off by Marshal Soult, and Moore began a punishing withdrawal that terminated at Corunna on 11 January 1809. With French corps converging on his base Moore began preparing for the evacuation by sea during 16/17 January, but was killed on 16 January when he was hit by cannon shot.[149]

Corunna

Battle of Corunna, 16 January 1809. The white dot indicates the location where Sir John Moore was killed

Part III

1810

The Fifth Coalition: Napoleon’s Austrian War, Aspern-Essling, Wagram & Naval Operations: The Basque Roads, Walcheren Expedition, Martinique & Guadeloupe, Dutch East Indies, Capture of Mauritius, the Peninsula Campaign

Europe1809

Napoleon expands into Italy, Spain and defeats the Austrians

With Napoleon’s attention split between Germany and Spain Francis was once again encouraged to challenge the French Emperor and on 8 February 1809 resolved on war. Britain was at first hesitant to provide monetary support for this endeavour, but by April had supplied £250,000 in silver, with promises of a further £1,000,000 to come.[150] With most of the French army in Spain, Napoleon’s Army of the Rhine at first amounted to only 60,000-80,000 men, against the far larger Austrian force of 280,000 with 312,000 reserves and 742 guns, spread across the various frontiers. Napoleon recalled his marshals from Spain and despatched Berthier, Lannes, Lefebvre, Bessieres, Davout and Massena to the German front.[151] By 9/10 April Archduke Charles felt his forces ready, and began the march simultaneously into Bavaria and Italy. By this point however Napoleon’s forces had largely assembled.

Archduke Charles

The Archduke Charles, by Thomas Lawrence, c. 1819

Abensberg

Eckmuhl

Battle of Abensberg & Eggmuhl (Eckmuhl), 20-24 April 1809. Napoleon’s center attack shatters the Austrians, but leaves Davout’s flank open to Charles’ main force.

Charles marched to Ratisbon and Napoleon arrived at Abensberg on the morning of the 20th. Here Napoleon determined upon attack: Davout would hold the northern flank while Lannes, Lefebvre and Vandamme led the main assault. This initial attack on the 20th lasted only an hour and succeeded in dividing the Austrians, costing them 7,000 casualties and many prisoners compared to the French losses of 3,500.[152] The Archduke Charles withdrew to Ratisbon, with Davout in pursuit, and was soon supported by Lefebvre, while Napoleon persecuted his attack against what he assumed was the larger force.[153] As a result it required a further three days to develop the attack against Charles and turn him from his position at Ratisbon. This sharp success Napoleon hailed as a second Jena and put the Austrians to route intending to clear the path to Vienna, which was once again occupied without resistance on 12 May.

Abensberg

Napoleon at Abensberg, 20 April 1809, by Jean -Baptiste Debret, c. 1810

Abensberg02

Battle of Abensberg, by Felix Storelli

Charles reached Bisamberg on 15 May and drew up his remaining force (95,800 and 264 guns) east of Vienna on the 17th. Napoleon crossed the Danube at the Island of Lobau, and was beginning to deploy on the east bank with his smaller force of 82,000. On 20 May Charles realized he had an opportunity to destroy an isolated component of Napoleon’s army and the following afternoon attacked Massena’s corps as it was holding the French left flank at Aspern, the Austrians deploying 80,000 men and 300 guns against a force less than half that size.[154] The Austrians took Aspern, but the village soon changed hands as French reinforcements came up, and at 8 pm Legrand relieved Molitor who commanded Massena’s most hard-pressed division. To the south the Austrians assaulted Essling all day, but likewise the French held.[155] On the 22nd the Austrians renewed the assault, but despite sustained fighting again failed to repulse the French.

Essling

Battle of Essling, Napoleon’s effort to cross the Danube is checked, resulting in a costly attrition battle

Lannes

Marshal Jean Lannes, mortally wounded at Essling on 22 May 1809, painted by Jean Charles Nicaise Perrin

Aspern

Battle of Aspern-Essling, 21-22 May 1809, by Alexis-Pellegrin-Marie-Vincent Pasquieri

Essling

Napoleon at the Island of Lobau after Essling, 23 May 1809, by Charles Meynier

Charles2

Archduke Charles, victorious after Aspern-Essling, by Johann Peter Krafft

Ultimately Charles fought Napoleon to a draw, the Austrians sustaining 22,000 casualties to the French 19,000.[156] With ammunition nearly exhausted Napoleon withdrew to the Island of Lobau to await reinforcements, which upon arrival increased his force level to between 178,000-180,000.[157] Napoleon established pontoon bridges over the Danube in preparation for attacking Charles, whose army had now been reinforced to between 130,000-140,000 men and 414 guns.[158] Here both sides watched each other for the month of June, and on the night of 4/5 July Napoleon shuttled his corps across the Danube.[159]

WagramFrance01

French and Austrian corps strengths before Wagram

Wagram

Wagram. Napoleon halts Archduke Charles’ counteroffensive and claims victory in the Austrian campaign

Wagram03

Opening of Wagram, 5 July 1809, by Alexis-Pellegrin-Marie-Vincent Pasquieri

wagram01

Napoleon contemplating deployments at Wagram, night of 5 July 1809, by Adolphe-Eugene-Gabriel Roehen.

wagram04

Wagram05

Views of Wagram, 6 July 1809, by  Simeon Fort

Wagram02

Napoleon commanding at Wagram, 6 July 1809, by Carle Vernet, c. 1835-6

Napoleon launched his attack about 7 pm the evening of the 5th, with Eugene, Bernadotte and Oudinot leading against Charles’ position at Wagram. This attack was repulsed and Napoleon spent the night planning his next movements.[160] Both sides launched attacks early the following morning and soon a general engagement was underway. By 10 am the Austrians seemed to have the advantage,[161] but Napoleon hurled in his reinforcements and arrested the Austrian advance. Davout and Eugene defeated the Austrian left flank and the Austrians at last withdrew, after both sides had sustained a further 35,000 casualties – the exhausted French were unable to pursue.[162]

Napolon gifts

Napoleon receives gifts from Alexander I, c. 1809 by Charles-Etienne Motte

Napoleon was content to have won the largest battle in history thus far (320,000 men involved), although demonstrating again the transition from his earlier rapid maneuver victories into what clearly resembled the colossal artillery dominated attritional battles he had fought in 1807, and indeed would become the model for the future. The Peace of Schonbrunn was eventually settled on 14 October, with Austria paying an indemnity of 85 million francs and the army being restricted to a maximum of 150,000 men, thus allowing Napoleon to refocus on Spain.[163] Next, Talleyrand and Napoleon solidified the Emperor’s position as the premier European monarch by arranging his marriage into the Habsburg royal family.

parma

Jean Baptiste Guerin and Francois Gerard’s painting of Marie Louise (1791-1847), who was 19 when she married forty-one year old Napoleon Bonaparte.

Wedding

Wedding of Napoleon and Marie Louise, 2 April 1810 at the Louvre, painted by Georges Rouget. Josephine had consented to a divorce earlier that year. On 20 March 1811 the new Empress gave birth to Napoleon II (d. 1832 in Vienna)

Amphibious Expeditions: The Basque Roads, the Walcheren Expedition, War in Spain and Portugal

RN 1809

Establishment of the Royal Navy in 1809

By 1809 the Royal Navy had 127 line of battleships in commission, with another 100 building, the total RN establishment including all seaworthy schooners, sloops, frigates and cruisers was close to 700.[164] As Britain tightened its blockade of war supply to the continent, Napoleon was forced by want of tax revenue and as a result of the high cost of his Austrian campaign, to authorize the issuing of licenses for merchant trade, followed by the institution of a high tariff with the Trianon Decree of 5 August 1810.[165] Combined with opening the Spanish and Portuguese markets to the Allies, these measures resulted in the gradual undermining of the continental system.[166]

F8877 003

The Caesar (80), Rear Admiral Strachan’s flagship in 1805-8

Napoleon had been expanding his naval capacity for several years: at Cherbourg the harbour was being deepened to make it a port accessible not only to frigates but also ships of the line, and the port of Spezzia at Venice was also developing. Allemand’s flight from Rochefort was a successful attempt to unite with the French squadrons being assembled around the Mediterranean. There were other squadrons at Cadiz (five sail and a frigate), Toulon (five sail, with three or four building), one 74 at Genoa, and two 74s building at Venice.[167]

Collingwood

Collingwood remained C-in-C Mediterranean until his death early in 1810, engraving by Charles Turner

The Rochefort Squadron and the Basque Roads

Gambier1813

Baron Gambier is appointed C-in-C Channel Fleet in March 1808, having completed the highly successful Copenhagen operation, portrait drawn here in 1813 by Joseph Slater

Admiral Gambier, newly minted Baron Gambier, was in March 1808 appointed by the once again Tory ministry of William Cavendish, Duke of Portland, to the position of Channel Fleet C-in-C, replacing Rear Admiral Strachan.[168] Gambier’s mission for the spring of 1809 would be to carry off the Brest squadron, eight sail of the line and four frigates. Isle d’Aix was the point of entrance for Rochefort, and from there Rear Admiral Allemand sailed in January with six of the line and additional frigates, eluding Strachan’s blockade.[169]

Allamend

Rear Admiral Zacharia Jacques Theodose Allemand

Rochefort had been blockaded by Rear Admiral Richard Strachan in Caesar (80) since year end 1807. While Strachan was away victualing in January 1808, Admiral Allemand took his squadron, consisting of Majestuenx (120), Ajax (74), Patriote (74), Lion (74), Jemmapes (74), Magnanime (74), Suffren (74), plus a frigate and a brig, out to sea, chasing off the 32-gun frigate and 18-gun brig that Strachan had left behind to observe.[170]

Thornbroughport

Vice Admiral Sir Edward Thornbrough, by Alexander Huey and William Fry, c. 1818 when Admiral Thornbrough was C-in-C Portsmouth

Thornbrough

Vice Admiral Edward Thornbrough and Rear Admiral Richard Strachan’s combined squadron at Palermo, during the chase of Rear Admiral Zacharia Allemand’s Rochefort squadron

On 23 January the 14-gun brig Attack eventually located Strachan with news of the Rochefort squadron’s sailing. Strachan correctly predicted Allemand was heading for the Mediterranean, where in fact Napoleon had sent him as part of a theoretical invasion of Sicily,[171] and so sailed around Gibraltar, arriving at Palermo on 21 February where he joined with Vice Admiral Edward Thornbrough in the Royal Sovereign (100).[172] Allemand for his part had already rounded Gibraltar on 26 January, and then sailed for Toulon to join with Vice Admiral Ganteaume on 6 February.[173] Ganteaume sailed from Toulon the next day with a force destined to reinforce Corfu, where he cruised during the rest of February and March.

Ganteaume

Vice Admiral Honore Joseph Antoine Ganteaume, who eluded Thornbrough and Collingwood in the Mediterranean during February – March 1809

During this time Ganteaume was constantly under observation from British frigates, and Collingwood was being informed at Syracuse. Ganteaume was back at Toulon by 10 April. Collingwood’s reputation was somewhat tarnished by this, although he had narrowly missed being informed of the French maneuvers on several occasions, and had in fact been made aware of developments on 2 March when he joined with Thornbrough and Strachan, but despite sailing around Sicily and into the Adriatic, did not encounter Ganteaume.

Rochefort

The Basque Roads, approach to Rochefort

With Strachan at sea he was replaced as Channel Fleet C-in-C by Baron Gambier. Strachan’s next command was blockading the Dutch coast, where he commanded the Walcheren Expedition (see below).[174] Collingwood was not informed that the French had already sailed back to Toulon until 28 April, and when he reached that place on 3 May Ganteaume no longer had any ideas about leaving harbour.[175] Collingwood detached Thornbrough to maintain the blockade of Toulon, while he sailed to Spain to assist in that theatre, notably employing his diplomatic connections with the pretender government to secure the Spanish fleet at Cadiz for the Allies. RN frigate commanders including Lord Cochrane in the Imperieuse, based at Mahon on the island of Minorca raided the Spanish Mediterranean coast and seized enemy trade. Captain Thomas Lord Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, was the godson of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane and a darling of the Duke of Portland’s government, having been elected MP for Westminster in 1807.

GambierBasque Roads

Lord Gambier’s fleet for the Basque Roads operation

The Basque Roads, April 1809

In February 1809 the Aix Roads anchorage for the Rochefort squadron had been built up to 11 ships of the line by gradually combing the squadrons at Brest and Lorient. Effecting this combination was both dangerous and difficult as each port was variously blockaded by elements of Lord Gambier’s Channel Fleet. Rear Admiral Willaumez, who was at Brest with nine of the line, three frigates, and three corvettes, was to escape from that port, drive off the British blockade squadron at Lorient to free Commodore Troude who had three of the line and five frigates, and together sail for Aix Road where he would unite with the Rochefort squadron, another three of the line, the Calcutta troopship, and several frigates. Once this force was collected he was to sail to Martinique and intercept British forces known to be operating there.[176]

Aix ROads2

Aix Roads anchorage from William Clowes, volume V, p. 260-1

Willaumez, in his flagship Ocean (120) with two 80s and five 74s plus two 40 gun frigates, a brig and a schooner, sailed from Brest early in the morning on 21 February 1809. As his line cleared the Passage du Raz they were spotted by HMS Revenge (74, Captain Charles Paget), who then made sail for Lorient to communicate with the nearest British squadron.[177] Captain John Beresford’s Lorient blockaded squadron included the Theseus (74), Triumph (74), and Valiant (74). At 3 pm Captain Pagent signaled to Captain Beresford aboard Theseus, and Beresford made to intercept Willaumez, spotting the French line at about 4:30 pm.[178]

Willaumez

Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste-Philibert Willaumez

Will's Squad

Rear Admiral Willaumez’ Brest squadron

The next morning Willaumez despatched his schooner to Lorient to inform Commodore Troude that he was now free to sail, while he continued to distract Beresford’s squadron. Beresford chased Willaumez towards Isle d’Yeu, and that night was spotted by the Amethyst (36) a frigate attached to the Rochefort blockade squadron under Rear Admiral Robert Stopford (Caesar, 80, Defiance, 74, Donegal, 74). Amethyst fired a rocket to warn Stopford who then sailed and chased Willaumez until the French squadron entered the Basque Roads on the morning of February 24th.

Stopford

Rear Admiral Robert Stopford, painted by Frederick Say c. 1840

Stopford detached Naiad (38) to inform Lord Gambier, but immediately after this Naiad located three of Commodore Troude’s frigates (Italienne, Calypso, Cybele – all 40 guns, under Commodore Pierre Jurien) from Lorient that had sailed to join Willaumez while Troude himself waited for the tide to come in so he could move out his heavier ships.[179] When Jurien spotted Stopford’s ships he realized he was cut-off from joining Willaumez at Rochefort, and thus put in at the Sables d’Olonne batteries. Stopford chased Jurien under the guns and engaged him at 11 am. Within 50 minutes he had set Italienne and Cybele on fire; the French frigates then cut their cables and ran aground, followed right after by Calypso. Total British casualties for this brief action were three killed and 31 wounded, as against 24 French killed and 51 wounded.[180] Willaumez had essentially achieved his purpose, joining with Commodore Gilbert Faure’s Rochefort squadron, although he lost the Jean Bart (74) as it grounded off Isle Madame.

Cochrane

Captain Lord Cochrane

Lord Gambier arrived on 7 March and took up the blockade, anchoring in the Basque Road on the 17th.[181] Earlier, on March 11th, Gambier proposed in a letter to Lord Mulgrave at the Admiralty that fireships would likely be useful in an attack against the Aix road. First Lord Mulgrave for his part decided as early as the 7th to carry out a fireship attack and on the 19th wrote back to Gambier that twelve fireships and three explosion vessels were being got ready, along with Congreve’s rocket ships, and five bomb vessels.[182] Captain Cochrane meanwhile arrived at Portsmouth on the 19th of March and reached London on the 21st to meet with Mulgrave who immediately appointed him to carry out the fireship attack at Aix road. Mulgrave informed Gambier that he was sending Cochrane for this purpose in a letter of the 25th, Cochrane sailing in the Imperieuse and delivering the letter to Gambier on 3 April.[183] Cochrane and Gambier began to assemble explosion vessels from what materials were on hand, and on 6 April Congreve arrived in the Aetna followed by twelve fireships on the 10th.[184]

Aixroads

The anchorage at Aix Roads, showing positions of French warships on 11/12 April 1809, and Cochrane leading his squadron in the Imperieuse at the upper left.

Meanwhile on 17 March Vice Admiral Allemand superseded Rear Admiral Willaumez as C-in-C of the Rochefort squadron. Allemand’s ships were moored in three parallel lines, two lines of heavy ships and a third of frigates, beyond which lay a long line-boom. The anchorage was covered by 30 guns, mostly on the Isle d’Aix along with 2,000 French conscripts.[185] Allemand had seen the fireships arrive and was under no illusions regarding Gambier’s intentions. Gambier deployed the frigates, bomb and rocket vessels on the 11th, the brigs Redpole and Lyra acted as light vessels, and Gambier kept his heavy ships at anchor about six miles to the north west, behind the fireship screen. At 8:30 pm the fireships and explosion vessels cut their cables and drifted towards the French anchorage. Cochrane himself was aboard one of the explosion vessels containing 1,500 barrels of powder, 350 shells, and some thousands of grenades.[186]

Fireships attack

Fireship attack (the Mediator) on the night of 11 April 1809, by Robert Dodd

Two of the explosion vessels blew up on the line-boom itself, but the explosion vessel Mediator (Commander Wooldridge) broke through and exploded amongst the French warships, although doing no real damage. Wooldridge was badly burned and several of his skeleton crew were killed in the process.[187] The fireships mixed in amongst the French frigates, which now cut their cables to escape, and as result the French line was thrown into confusion; the Regulus collided with the Tourville and the Ocean ran around before in turn being rammed by the Tonnerre and Patriote. Only the Foudroyant and the Cassard remained mobile.

fireships

Cochrane returned to the Imperieuse and at 5:48 am the morning of the 12th signaled Caledonia to engage and exploit the confusion, then repeated this signal until 9:30 am. Gambier did not actually weigh anchor until 10:45 am, sailing to within six miles of the Aix anchorage whither he re-anchored at 11:30 am and called his captains to a meeting. Gambier was clearly in no hurry, but did send in his bomb vessels supported by the Valiant, Bellona and Revenge, plus all his frigates.[188] The Foudroyant and Cassard, seeing this squadron approaching, now cut their cables and sailed for the entrance to the Charente river delta, where they both ran aground, followed by the other French battleships as they were re-floated by the rising tide and then grounded again by the river mud.

Basque Roads

Cochrane engaging the French at the Basque Roads, 12-13 April 1809.

Cochrane, at 1 pm, determined to engage personally and at 2 pm Gambier sent him the Indefatigable with the rest of the frigates and small vessels, then at 2:30 ordered the Valiant and Revenge to follow, although it took until 3:20 pm for these ships to reach Cochrane due to light winds. Cochrane was nevertheless presently joined by the Aigle, Emerald, Unicorn, Valiant, Revenge, Pallas, and Beagle. At 5:30 they were joined by the Theseus, and at about this time the French Varsovie and Aquilon surrendered.[189] Thirty minutes later the Tonnerre’s crew set their ship afire and abandoned it, that warship later exploding at 7:30. The Calcutta troop ship, set aflame by a British boarding party, blew up at 8:30 pm. At this point the Ocean, Cassard, Regulus, Jemmapes, Tourville and Indienne were still engaged but grounded. Rear Admiral Stopford had meanwhile been preparing additional fireships, and at 5:30 pm along with some boats converted into rocket vessels, escorted by the Caesar, maneuvered into position to continue the attack. Stopford’s Caesar however grounded at 7:40 pm – as did the Valiant, Indefatigable and Cochrane’s Imperieuse.[190]

During the early morning of the 13th this confusing situation was somewhat relieved as the Caesar was got free and Captain John Bligh, commanding the fireships, had his men set fire to the captured Varsovie and Aquilon, prompting the French to abandon the Tourville and set it afire in turn, although that warship failed to burn. At 5 am Stopford signaled for Bligh to continue his attack, and the Valiant, Theseus, Revenge, Indefatigable, Unicorn, Aigle and Emerald closed in towards the Little Basque road. Cochrane for his part was intent on attacking the grounded Ocean, having assembled the bombs vessels, the frigate Pallas, the Beagle, and several brigs for this purpose.[191]

Basque Roads Orbat

British and French orders of battle at the Basque Roads, April 1809

At 8 am Cochrane launched his attack on the Charente delta, but his frigates could not close due to the restrictive river draft. His shallow draft flotilla of ten brigs and bomb vessels, soon joined by three more brigs and the two rocket boats, however, began to engage the Ocean, Regulus and Indienne. This went on for ten hours, the gun brigs being unable to seriously damage the grounded ships of the line, while the French were unable to maneuver to respond, until the tide began to fall and the flotilla was forced to withdraw. Gambier meanwhile sent letters to Cochrane commending him on the attack, but ordering him to return to the flagship.[192]

brig

384 ton 18-gun RN brig, c. 1810

Gambier seemed to believe Cochrane’s role in the operation was finished, and on the 15th he sent him back to England with his dispatches. Gambier instead placed Captain George Wolfe of the Aigle in charge of the gunboats, who carried on the attack on the 14th but with little effect. Although the French burnt the Indienne, they eventually worked their other ships up the river and into relative safety, where they were then joined by the Regulus on the 29th after further futile attempts to destroy that ship with bombs.[193] In sum, the British had destroyed five sail and rendered the Rochefort squadron militarily irrelevant.

BHC2751

Rear Admiral Eliab Harvey, a fierce critic of Cochrane and Gambier, painted by Lemuel Francis Abbott c. 1806

Rear Admiral Eliab Harvey, Gambier’s second in command then aboard the Caledonia, was so aggravated by Cochrane’s role in the attack that he later launched a public campaign to denounce Gambier, whom he held responsible, and as a result Harvey was court martialled and dismissed from the navy.[194]

Cochrane likewise turned against Gambier, criticising him for failing to destroy the entire Rochefort squadron. Gambier demanded a court martial, which was duly arranged on 26 July 1809 and convened until August 4th. In the ensuing deliberations the admiral was honourably acquitted.[195] Cochrane presented evidence from captured French charts that suggested Gambier had over-estimated the strength of the French fortifications, while Gambier in turn pointed to the strategic imperative of preserving the Channel Fleet for future operations.[196] The consensus seems to be that Gambier certainly could have done more, although at increased risk and with little to gain.[197] Cochrane, for his part in planning and executing this sterling example of irregular warfare, was later knighted, although his career in the Royal Navy was near its end.[198]

The Walcheren Expedition

Walcheren5

Walcheren3

Middleburg and Walcheren , in 1745, and in the 19th century.

Missiessy

Rear Admiral Edouard-Thomas de Burgues, de Missiessy, painted by Alexandre-Charles Debacq

The other great maritime operation of 1809, and the most complex amphibious operation of the war, was the Walcheren expedition. This operation had the purpose of directly attacking the French fleet in the Scheldt, by the summer of 1809 built up to ten 74s under Rear Admiral Missiessy, with another six 80s and four 74s building at Antwerp and Flushing.[199] The actual threat posed by this fleet was relatively marginal, considering the depletion of French naval stores: it was built with green timbers and even then could not be fully manned, in short, an inviting target for the Royal Navy’s expeditionary warfare.[200] By generating a diversion in Holland furthermore it was hoped by the British government to distract Napoleon from the Austrian campaign then underway.[201]

Pitt2

Lieutenant General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, engraving by Valentine Green, after 1799 drawing by John Hoppner

Illustrated Battles of the Nineteenth Century. [By Archibald Forbes, Major Arthur Griffiths, and others.]

Sir Eyre Coote, second in command to the Earl of Chatham, engraving by Archibald Forbes, Arthur Griffiths and others.

The audacious combined operation was to be led by Rear Admiral Sir Richard Strachan and Lt. General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham. Once again it was Captain Sir Home Popham tasked with drawing up the plan, and who also acted as Rear Admiral Strachan’s flag captain aboard Venerable, 74.[202]

Walcheren

Julian Corbett’s Organization of the Walcheren Expedition

The landing force consisted of approximately 40,000 troops (29,715 infantry, 8,219 cavalry, 5,434 artillerymen) including divisions under Sir John Hope and Sir Eyre Coote, convoyed in as many as 400 transports and escorted by 264 warships of all kinds: including 35 or 37 battleships, two 50s, three 44s, 23 or 24 frigates, 31 sloops, 5 bomb vessels, 23 brigs, and 120 smaller craft, under the 2nd Baron Gardner.[203]

Gardner

Vice Admiral Lord Alan Gardner, C-in-C Channel Fleet, d. 1 January 1809, painting by William Beechey

Gardner2

Henry Edridge and Antoine Cardon’s engraving of Alan Hyde Gardner, Rear Admiral of the Blue, the 2nd Baron Gardner

Alan Hyde Gardner, age 36, had been promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue on 28 April 1808, and in 1809 inherited the title of Baron Gardner from his late father, Vice Admiral Gardner then C-in-C Channel Fleet, who died on Near Years Day. The younger Rear Admiral Gardner flew his flag in the Bellerophon (74) while blockading the Scheldt.[204]

Walcheren chart

Chart of the Walcheren theatre of operations

The plan called for the fleet to land Pitt’s expeditionary force, proceed to destroy the naval arsenal at the Scheldt and capture the French fleet there, and then ultimately seize Antwerp and Flushing. The armada departed the morning of 28 July, marked the shoals and sounded the Roompot channel that night, and the following morning the transports were on station.

Keats

Vice Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats, painted by John Jackson c. 1817

Sir John Hope

Sir John Hope, engraving by Giovanni Vendramini after drawing by William Craig, February 1811

Due to poor weather the landings, covered by Rear Admiral William Otway and Admiral Richard Keats, did not begin until 4:30 pm on the 30th: Sir Eyre Coote’s division was in the event the first ashore, followed by Sir John Hope’s division at Zuid Beveland. Some of the bomb vessels moved into position that evening and on the 31st opened bombardment on Veere, although Dutch counter-fire soon sunk three of the gunboats.[205] A naval brigade landed on the 30th under Captain Charles Richardson of the Caesar added to the bombardment of Veere, and that place surrendered on August 1st. General Coote meanwhile quickly surrounded Middleburg and forced its surrender, thus securing Walcheren.[206]

middleburg

Middleburg and Walcheren in the 17th century

Fort Rammekens was taken on 3 August and Flushing invested, but despite the siege General Rousseau was able to reinforce his garrison up to 7,000 men.[207] Flushing was blockaded on the 6th, and on the 9th Captain Popham took some smaller ships up the West Schelde to sound Baerlandt channel. On the 11th Captain William Stuart took a frigate squadron through the channel between Flushing and Cadzand.[208]

Walcheren Landing

Landing at Walcheren, engraving by A. Lutz after Johannes Jelgerhuis, 1809

Walcheren Expedition

The Bombardment of Flushing during the Walcheren Expedition of 1809

During all of this action Rear Admiral Missiessy, pressured by Admiral Keats, gradually moved his squadron up the channel and for good measure behind a line-boom.  On 13 August a group of bomb vessels commanded by Captain George Cockburn of the Belleisle (74) opened the bombardment of Flushing, to which weight of cannon the following day was added Rear Admiral Strachan and Rear Admiral Gardner’s fire as their heavy ships moved into position. On 15 August, after 31 hours of shelling, the French at Flushing offered to surrender and that place was captured the next day.[209]

The islands of Schouwen and Duijveland surrendered to Admiral Keats and Lieutenant General the Earl of Rosslyn the next day.[210] Chatham left 10,000 men to hold Walcheren, while he prepared for the next phase of operations leading up to the intended capture of Antwerp.

Captain Stuart's squadron

The squadron Captain William Stuart commanded off Flushing

Strachan's squadron

Rear Admiral Strachan and Rear Admiral Gardner’s squadron during the bombardment of Flushing

The French had 35,000 men defending Antwerp. The British however were,  from the 19th of August onwards, as William Clowes puts it, being “daily reduced by malarious sickness” which ultimately incapacitated about 14,000 men, of whom about 3,500 died.[211] Chatham, demoralized at reports of the strength of the Antwerp defences, called a council of war on August 26th, and thereupon determined to abandon the campaign – leaving for England on 14 September – although Walcheren was not finally evacuated until December 23rd.[212]

Walcheren4

British withdrawal from Walcheren, engraving by Francois Anne David after Charles Monnet

Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval, painted here by George Francis Joseph, succeeded the Duke of Portland, who died on 4 October 1809. Lord Spencer was Prime Minister until his assassination on 11 May 1812.

The death of the Duke of Portland on 4 October 1809 ensured that Chatham foisted responsibility for what Hilton describes as “England’s single biggest disaster in the entire war” off on Strachan, a seaman’s admiral considered the equal to, if not superior of, Pellew.[213] The cabinet itself veritably imploded, with Castlereagh challenging Canning to a duel – in which he wounded him with in the thigh – the two antagonists resigning thereafter. The Tory government was thus reconstituted under Spencer Perceval. So much for the Walcheren expedition.

The Relief of Barcelona

Honoré_Joseph_Antoine_Ganteaume

The Toulon squadron was commanded by Vice Admiral Honore Ganteaume

While Collingwood was blockading Vice Admiral Ganteaume at Toulon, the Mediterranean C-in-C was not able to prevent detached elements from escaping. One such sortie in April 1809 saw Rear Admiral Francois Baudin escape with five sail, two frigates and sixteen smaller vessels to make for Barcelona in a resupply effort. Successful, Baudin was back at Toulon in May.[214]

George Martin

Rear Admiral Sir George Martin by Charles Landseer

Martin Squadron

Rear Admiral Martin’s squadron during the chase of Rear Admiral Francois Baudin, 23 October 1809

To prevent a repeat effort, Collingwood moved to blockade Barcelona, although he then had only 15 sail of the line against the 15 French and six Russian built up at Toulon. Baudin put to sea again on 21 October with one 80, two 74s, and two 40 gun frigates plus transports and smaller craft.[215] He was spotted by Captain Robert Barrie in the Pomone (38), who hastened to inform Collingwood. Collingwood closed to intercept Baudin while he despatched Rear Admiral George Martin to chase. Baudin attempted to draw off Martin by separating from the transports, a gambit that paid off as the convoy escaped, minus a few brigs which were captured by Captain Barrie.[216] Baudin’s warships however variously fled or ran aground, the Robuste and Lion near Frontignan, and their crews set them afire.

Hallowell

Captain Hallowell’s detached squadron, 31 October 1809

Meanwhile the convoy itself put in at Rosas Bay, and Collingwood soon detached Captain Benjamin Hallowell to destroy it, done on the night of the 31st using their boats to capture or burn every French vessel at anchor. Although costing them 15 killed and 50 wounded, it was worth the price to completely defeat the effort to resupply Barcelona.[217] Ganteaume was then succeeded by Vice Admiral Allemand.[218] Collingwood tragically had been exhausted by his long effort as Mediterranean commander, and died after being granted leave while returning to Britain on February 1810.

West Indies, 1809-1810, Martinique & Guadeloupe

Alexander Cochrane

Admiral Alexander Cochrane, engraving by Charles Turner after a drawing by Sir William Beechey, c. 1815-19

 Martinique and Guadeloupe were traditional frigate and privateer bases, where French warships were frequently encountered. The former was garrisoned by 2,400 regulars with an additional 2,500 militia, controlling 290 guns.

Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane, with Lieutenant General Beckwith, were selected to command the Martinique reduction force, Guadeloupe to follow.[219] On 30 January 1809 Major General Frederick Maitland was put ashore at Martinique with 3,000 men landing at Pointe Sainte Luce, and another 6,500 men landing under Lt. General Sir George Prevost at Baie Robert, plus  600 ashore at Cape Solomon.[220]

martinique

The Martinique operation force, from William Clowes, volume V

On 22 January the sloop Hazard (18) located the frigate Topaze (40) carrying 1,100 flour barrels bound from Brest for Cayenne, but redirected to the Leeward Islands when Topaze discovered Captain Yeo’s landing at Cayenne underway. Now the frigates Cleopatra (32-gun, 12-pdr, Captain Samuel Pechell) and Jason (38, Captain William Maude) arrived, quickly hounded the Topaze ashore, anchored and then opened a musket-shot cannonade that compelled the French frigate to strike, 12 men were killed and 14 wounded (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 3/4).

In the face of these sustained amphibious assaults the French retreated to Fort Desaix, while the British bombarded Pigeon Island, capturing that place after 12 hours of shelling and a landing of seamen under Commander George Cockburn.[221] The French on Martinique held out until 24 February, by which time the British had suffered 550 casualties.[222] Rear Admiral Cochrane was promoted Vice Admiral.

Miniature, MNT0089

The next target was Guadeloupe. Captain John Shortland, painted here c. 1807/8 by Robert Field, in the Junon (58), engaged in a sharp action the French frigates Renommee (40) and Clorinde (40), which were under false Spanish colours escorting troops ships to Guadeloupe on 13 December 1809: Shortland had no choice but to burn the Junon to prevent capture.

Guadeloupe2a

Coastal view of Guadeloupe, by John Everett, 19th c.

Vice Admiral Cochrane arrived off Guadeloupe on 27 January 1810.[223] Landings quickly reduced the island, the French garrison surrendering on 6 February, a success that was followed up by the capture of the Dutch islands of St. Martin, St. Eustatius and Saba, completed on 22 February.[224] This series of captures, which cost the British 300 casualties, left only the East Indies, Senegal and Mauritius in French hands.[225]

Dutch East Indies, 1809-1810

Drury

Rear Admiral William Drury

The Spice Islands, Moluccas (Maluku Islands, Indonesia), were a source of nutmeg, mace and cloves. The operation to secure this Dutch colony was led by Rear Admiral William O’Brien Drury, C-in-C Madras.

Maluku

Maluku Islands

On 16 February 1810 a force composed of Dover (38, Captain Edward Tucker), Cornwallis (44, Captain William Montagu) and Samarang (18) put 400 men ashore at Amboyna (Ambon) Island in the Moluccas, the Dutch surrendering the island the next day.[226] A series of captures in the Celebes Sea followed, shortly thereafter the Sultan of Gorontale accepted British governance in place of the Dutch.[227]

PY4086Amboyna (Ambon) Island, captured by Captain Sir Edward Tucker, 16/17 February 1810, drawing based on art by Lt. Richard Vidal

Banda Islands map

Map of the Banda Islands

The Banda Islands were next to fall, the expedition destined for that place under the command of Captain Christopher Cole in the Caroline (36), with Piedmontaise (38, Captain Charles Foote), and the brigs Barraconta (18) and Mandarin (12), sailing from Madras on 10 May, loading artillery at Penang before departing on 10 June and passing through the Strait of Singapore on the 15th.[228]

Banda2

Banda Neira in 1821

Fort Belgica

Fort Belgica, Banda Neira, Indonesia.

The Banda Islands were sighted the evening of August 8th, and a landing quickly organized for 11 pm. Poor weather prevented the immediate landing, but 180 men got ashore the next morning and Castle Belgica was taken by storm, after which the Dutch garrison of 1,500 surrendered.[229] Captain Cole was knighted on 29 May 1812 for this fine work.

Banda Neria

Banda Neira under British occupation after its capture on 9 August 1810, painting by Captain Christopher Cole, made by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Browne

Senegal, 1809

Goree

Goree Island off Senegal, by Charles Randle, 15 November 1815

Captain Edward Columbine in the Solebay (32), senior officer at Goree, launched a combined effort with Major Charles Maxwell to reduce Senegal in the summer of 1809.[230] Their small flotilla consisted of the frigate Solebay, two brigs, seven schooners and sloops, plus several transports carrying a mere 166 officers and men for the landing party.[231] They departed on 4 July, arriving off Senegal on the 7th,[232] and the landing took place the following day. Due to the 400 French soldiers defending Senegal it took until the 13th to convince the enemy to surrender.[233]

Capture of Mauritius, 1809-1810

Ilse de France

Isle de France in 1791

Mauritius was a constant source of irritation as it threatened the security of merchant traffic rounding the Cape of Good Hope or sailing in the Indian Ocean. By the fall of 1810 there were five French frigates, a corvette and two brigs at Port Louis. To blockade this force, Vice Admiral Albemarle Bertie, in command at the Cape,[234] had the Boadicea (38), flag of Commodore Josias Rowley, the Nisus (38, Captain Philip Beaver) and the Nereide (38, Commander George Henderson).[235]

Mauritius 2

Mauritius and Reunion relative to  Madagascar

With Bertie engaged in the blockade, Lord Minto, the Governor General of India, and Admiral Drury C-in-C Madras, determined to reduce the islands, encouraged by Castlereagh who was desirous of protecting the British merchant traffic to India and China.[236] Reunion (Bourbon) was the source of food supply for Mauritius (Isle de France), and thus that latter target had to be reduced first. Reunion fell quickly on 8 July.[237]

Battle of the Grand Port

Battle of the Grand Port, 23 August 1809

The main invasion force for Mauritius was assembling at Cape Town, and on August 23rd a small British squadron attempted to penetrate the French anchorage at Grand Port, Mauritius. Captain Nesbit Willoughby led the effort in the Nereide, followed by the frigates Sirius, Magicienne, and Iphigenia. Sirius and Magicienne however ran aground on the local coral reefs, with Nereide and Iphigenia than isolated against four French frigates. During the resulting engagement the British frigates were badly damaged and Sirius and Magicienne had to be burnt to prevent capture, while Nereide was captured, followed by Iphigenia four days later, increasing the French squadron to six frigates.[238] This bloody affair produced 2,000 British casualties, the only significant French naval victory of the Napoleonic War.[239]

whitcombe

September 1809, landing at St. Paul on Reunion, by Thomas Whitcombe

Although the only major French tactical victory of this phase of the war, the result was of little operational significance as the Mauritius invasion force, composed of between 6,800-7,000 troops from India under Vice Admiral Bertie and Major General John Abercromby, departed Cape Town on 22 November 1810 and arrived at its destination six days later.[240] The landing took place on the 29th, with 50 boats carrying 1,555 men under Captain William Montagu of Cornwallis (44) leading the first shore party. General Decaen’s garrison of 3,000 was fought outside Port Louis on 1st December. Having taken heavy casualties Decaen offered terms the next day and then formally surrendered his remaining 1,300 men and 290 guns, not to mention 24 French merchants and several captured British vessels, on the 3rd. British casualties were 28 killed, 94 wounded and 45 missing.[241]

Mauritius invasion force

The Mauritius invasion force

The small French garrison at Tamatave, Madagascar, was captured by the 18-gun sloop Eclipse on 12 February 1811, but was retaken by three French frigates from the Brest squadron on 19 May. This small French force was defeated during an engagement between 20-25 May and Tamatave was quickly recaptured, at last clearing the French from the Cape route.[242]

The events of 1809-1810 at sea demonstrated the Royal Navy’s mastery of amphibious operations, and a growing willingness to take risks to secure major strategic targets, such as at the Basque roads and at Walcheren. The reduction of France’s overseas naval bases at Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Mauritius, dramatically improved Britain’s trade security.

The Peninsula, 1809-1814

wellington-landing-Lx-1809

Sir Arthur Wellesley returns to Portugal, 22 April 1809

Stepping back now to 1809 to examine the situation on the Peninsula: Lt. General Arthur Wellesley returned to Portugal on 22 April 1809, his army at this time numbering 21,000 or 28,000 British and 16,000 Portuguese. He had a daunting task, Soult had 360,000 men in the French Army of Spain and had already won a crushing victory against the Portuguese at Oporto on 28/29 March.[243]

Soult

Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult, by Louis-Henri Rudder & Jean d’apres Broc

Oporto

The First Battle of Oporto, 28 March 1809 by Simeon Fort

Soult

Marshal Soult commanding at Oporto, 28/29 March 1809, by Joseph Beaume

Wellesley reversed Soult’s victory by crossing the Douro on 12 May, then capturing Oporto, thus forcing Soult to retreat with loss of his baggage and guns.[244]

Douro

Wellesley crosses the Douro, 12 May 1809

In June Wellesley advanced into Spain along the Tagus valley, his mission being to locate Victor and bring him to battle while Ney and Soult were distracted in Galicia suppressing partisans.[245]

talavera

Talavera, 27/28 July 1809

Despite short supplies and lack of Spanish support,[246] Wellesley won the two-day defensive battle at Talavera, 27/28 July, with his combined army of 52,000 against 46,000 French under King Joseph supported by Victor and Jourdan, the French sustaining 7,200 casualties and losing 17 guns, the British 5,300 men. Afterwards Wellesley withdrew to Lisbon, avoiding the approach of Soult’s northern flank and began to fortify the countryside [247] On 4 September Wellington was made Viscount.

goya2

Wellington, by Francisco de Goya, c. 1812-14

Wellessley2

Marquess Richard Wellesley,  Tory Foreign Secretary 1809-1812, Wellington’s older brother, painted by John Philip Davis 

Napoleon meanwhile flooded reinforcements into Spain, enabling Joseph, Soult and Victor to crush Spanish opposition during 1810.[248] This was temporarily to Britain’s benefit as the operations in southern Spain gave Wellington some breathing space.

Massena

Andre Massena, who replaced Soult on the Peninsula in 1810

The reprise did not last long however as Massena invaded Portugal that September and forced Wellington, with about 50,000 combined against Massena’s 65,000, to fight a series of defensive battles between 27 September and 10 October.

St._Clair-Battle_of_Bussaco

Battle of Busaco, 27 September 1810, the first of the defensive battles Massena fought against Wellington during the fall of 1810 as the French attempted to eject the British from Portugal

Wellington was under orders from Liverpool and Percival to husband his resources, and evacuate if necessary.[249] Massena, however, could not turn Wellington out from his defensive lines, but was content to pin the British until March 1811, at which point, having sustained 25,000 losses from partisans, guerillas, and hunger, he withdrew.

Massena was reinforced over the course of the spring and between 3-5 May 1811 with 48,000 men fought Wellington’s 37,000 to a stalemate at Fuentes de Onoro. Wellington’s supply lines were tenuous, in fact requiring Admiral George Berkeley to manage imports of grain from the United States and cattle from North Africa, all lubricated by silver that was obtained from South America.[250] Between 1808-1811, furthermore, the Navy transported 336,000 muskets, 100,000 pistols, 60 million cartridges and 348 artillery pieces to the Peninsula to aid the Portuguese and Spanish. The monetary cost of the Peninsula campaign was £3 million in 1809, £6 million in 1810, and £11 million in 1811.[251]

berekely

Admiral George Berkeley, commanding at the Tagus in 1810, engraving by Miss Paye, William Ridley, and Joyce Gold. Incidentally, Berkeley had been responsible for ordering the Leopard to board USS Chesapeake in 1807.

Wellington proceeded to lay siege to Badajoz from 29 May to 19 June, while Napoleon recalled Massena and replaced him with Marmont. At the end of 1811 however Wellington withdrew to Portugal, without capturing Badajoz. He at last succeeded in capturing Badajoz on 6 April 1812.

Marmont

Auguste-Frederic-Louis Viesse de Marmont, by Jean-Baptiste-Paulin Guerin

Wellington now marched into Spain, dividing Soult and Marmont from each other, and entertaining Marmont from June until July when French reinforcements forced Wellington back to Portugal. Marmont attempted to outflank him before he could withdraw, but was instead crushed at Salamanca with the loss of 14,000 men. Joseph, panicking, fled Madrid which Wellington then duly entered on 12 August.[252]

Salamanca

Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812

Clauzel

Bertrand Clausel by Georges Rouget

This was all ill news for Napoleon, engaged in his Russian misadventure, and Marmont was recalled and replaced by Clauzel, the French now beginning a concentration under Soult and Joseph. Wellington laid siege to the fortress of Burgos between 9 September and 18 October but was forced to lift the siege when French relief arrived. Nevertheless, the steady pressure in Spain was bleeding the French occupation force as Wellington’s combined force gradually increased to 96,000.[253]

Vittoria

Battle of Vittoria, 21 June 1813

By 1813 the situation was critical. On 21 June Wellington with 70,000 defeated Joseph’s 50,000 at Vitoria, capturing 143 guns and much treasure, at which point Napoleon, given some breathing space during the armistice of Plaswitz, put Soult in overall command. Wellington captured San Sebastian on 31 August, and by 10 December had penetrated into France proper, first capturing Boudreaux and then at last taking Toulouse on 10 April 1814.[254]

Part IV

1812

Naval Operations 1811-1812: Battles of Lissa, Pirano, Capture of Java, the United States’ War & Napoleon’s 1812 campaign

Dubourdieau

Rear Admiral Bernard (Edouard) Dubourdieau

To return now to the east and the situation in the Adriatic. In the spring of 1811 French and Venetian frigates attempted to disrupt Captain William Hoste’s detachment based at Lissa in the Adriatic, hoping to impact supply lines for the Illyrian campaign. On 13 March Rear Admiral Bernard Dubourdieu was killed with loss of four of his 6 frigates (three French, three Venetian, plus two brigs), fighting Captain Hoste’s three frigates and a 22 gun sloop, with Hoste’s flag in the 32 gun Amphion,.[255] The British suffered 45 killed and 145 wounded in this desperate battle but nevertheless defeated the combined Franco-Venetian squadron.[256]

Captain William Hoste

Captain Sir William Hoste, by William Greatbach c. 1833

Lissa

Battle of Lissa, 13 March 1811

Hoste sailed to Malta for repairs. On 25 March two French 40-gun frigates out of Toulon escorted a 20-gun storeship carrying 15,000 rounds of shot and shells and 90 tons of gunpowder to Corfu. Admiral Sir Charles Cotton detached Ajax (74, Robert Waller Otway) and Unite (36, 18-pdrs, Captain Edwin Henry Chamberlayne) in pursuit. Although the French frigates escaped, the 800-ton ammunition storeship was captured (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 245/6). In July a French grain convoy destined for Ragusa was captured and in November another French frigate and brig were taken. In 1812 the 74-gun Venetian Rivoli was prevented from impacting operations when it was captured by HMS Victorious (74) at the Battle of Pirano, 22 February 1812.[257]

Rivoli

Battle of Pirano, 22 February 1812

Vice Admiral Freemantle

Rear Admiral Thomas Fremantle, commanded in the Adriatic in 1813, engraving by Edmund Bristow and Edward Scriven, c. 1822

Late in 1813 Captain Hoste served under Rear Admiral Thomas Fremantle during the bombardment of Trieste before it was captured by the Austrians on 29 October.[258] On 5 January 1814 Fremantle and Hoste forced Cattaro to surrender and on the 28th they captured Ragusa. By the end of February every French possession in the Adriatic had surrendered.[259] In March they took Spezzia and then Genoa in April before Napoleon abdicated.[260]

Capture of Java

India

Operations in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, from Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power (1946)

Christopher COle

Captain Christopher Cole, C-in-C Madras after the death of Vice Admiral William Drury, painted by Margaret Carpenter, c. 1820-1824

By the end of 1809, with operations in the West Indies complete, focus shifted to the East Indies, where the invasion of Java now became a possibility. Java, as we have seen, was an important spice island and base for Dutch merchants and warships. Rear Admiral Pellew had reconnoitered Batavia in 1809 and considered invasion, but the project penultimately became that of Vice Admiral William Drury, who died however on 6 March 1811. Captain Christopher Cole, tasked with carrying out the operation at last, sailed from Madras aboard the Caroline (36) with a landing force under Colonel Robert Gillespie. They anchored at Penang on 18 May, and on the 21st the second force under Captain Fleetwood Pellew arrived in the Phaeton (38), transporting Major General Wetherall.

Fleetwood Pellew

Captain Fleetwood Pellew, drawing by George Chinnery, May 1807

Broughton

Commodore William Broughton

The expedition sailed on the 24th the two groups aiming for Malacca, and arriving there on June 1st were they were joined by Commodore William Broughton in the Illustrious (74), and Rear Admiral Robert Stopford in the Scipion (74). The invasion force now constituted 11,960 men, of whom 5,344 were European regulars.[261] (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 295/6)

Javainvasion

The Java invasion force

Java1811

Java theatre of operations

After disembarking 1,200 sick cases the invasion force departed Malacca on 11 June. In the meantime several reconnaissance operations and raids were carried out, such as on 23 May when Captain Harris in Sir Francis Drake (32, 12 pdrs) located 14 felucca and prow rigged Dutch gunboats (a 7-inch howitzer and one 24 pdr carronade, 30 oars), 13 miles north east of Rembang, and silenced them with two broadsides, and then dispatching four six oar cutter and a gig as a boat attack, carried out by Lieutenants James Bradley and Edward Addis, Lt. Knowles, Lt. George Loch, Royal Marines, three or four midshipman and 12 privates from the 14th Regiment, who captured all nine remaining gunboats [262]. On 27 July Captain Sayer of the Leda (36, 18 pdrs), who along with Captain Edward Hoare in the Minden (74) carried orders for Batavia (the Batavian Republican having been annexed by Napoleon in July 1810), landed 21 year old Lieutenant Edmund Lyons with a small force including 19 prisoners to gather intelligence on the island.

On the 29th Lt. Lyons, who had with him only 35 officers and men, determined to carry out an attack against the local strongpoint, Fort Marrack, a colonial stone fort with a garrison of 180 soldiers mounting 54 cannon variously 18, 24 and 32 pdrs, that Captain Sayer originally believed would require a battalion worth of soldiers to capture. Amazingly, Lyons waited until midnight in his flat boats and when the moon cleared landed his small contingent, stormed the fortress walls with ladders, carried the gun batteries and baffled the defenders to the extent that when his 34 men charged the assembled defenders the garrison fled at Lyons’ claims that he had 400 men. Lyons’ men spiked the guns and snatched the fort’s flag before they withdrew to collect their laurels. Lyons, whose long career included being Black Sea Fleet commander during the Crimean War, was here promoted to Commander on the spot (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 296-300), see also Andrew Lambert, “Lyons, Edmunds, first Baron Lyons” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Boats Maunsell

Captain Robert Maunsell cutting out the Dutch gunboats, 30/31 July 1811, painting by John Huggins

Likewise on 30/31 July Captain Robert Maunsell of the Procris (18) anchored at the Indramayo river delta, had located six gunboats (two 32 pdr carronades and one long 18 pdr each), which were protecting a Dutch convoy of about 50 sails. On the night of the 31st a boat assault was carried out, led by Lieutenants Henry Heyland and Oliver Brush with forty soldiers from the 14th and 89th regiments. The gunboat crews fired grapeshot and threw spears at the British before leaping overboard; five of the enemy gunboats were captured as the sixth caught fire and exploded, the only casualties being 11 wounded seamen and soldiers. [263] (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 300-1)

Batavia 1780

Batavia

Batavia, c. 1780, & 1796

The Java invasion force, destined for Batavia/Jakarta included the 36 gun frigates Leda, Caroline, Modeste, Bucephalus, plus brigs, sloops and schooners, arrived at Chillingching, 12 miles east of Batavia, on the afternoon of August 4th and began to disembark. Before nightfall 8,000 men were ashore. Batavia’s governor General Jansens had 10,000 men garrisoning Java, mostly encamped at the Meester Cornelis fortification (280 guns) outside Batavia. On the 7th the army advanced, with frigates sailing offshore as Colonel Gillespie’s men crossed the Anjole river. They were outside Batavia at dawn on the 8th, when a request for parlay was received and the port surrendered. The next day Rear Admiral Robert Stopford arrived in the Scipion (74) and took charge of operations, the foremost being to exploit the successful capture of the port by taking the colonial works: Fort Cornelis.[264] 20 long 18s, plus eight howitzers and mortars were brought on shore by 500 seaman during the 10th and a small skirmish was fought, with the Dutch withdrawing into the fort.

Stopford

Rear Admiral Robert Stopford, c. 1840

Java TF 2

Stopford’s Java task force, September 1811 (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 303)

Over the next ten days a detachment of Royal Marines was landed and the naval guns were gradually moved in land, gaining range on the fortifications on the 21st. On the 22nd the Dutch sortied and temporarily captured a British battery, but were then repulsed, and a cannonade was opened from the fort’s 34 18, 24, and 32 pdrs. During the day there was a pause, and on the 24th both sides opened an artillery duel that lasted the all day and expended plenty of ammunition such that at midnight the fort was carried by main assault with 5,000 Dutch prisoners taken, including three generals, 34 field officers, 70 captains and 150 subalterns. During the course of the campaign, 4-27 August, the British suffered 141/156 KIA, 733/788 WIA and 13/16 missing. The Royal Navy’s part was 15 killed, 55 wounded and 3 missing.[265] Robert Stopford was promoted to Vice Admiral almost exactly a year later.

Dutch Fort

rach_-_fort_meester_cornelis

 The Harbour defences on Batavia, & the garrison at Meester Cornelis Fort

While the siege operations were underway Rear Admiral Stopford tasked Lieutenant Henry Drury in Akbar (44), Captain Fleetwood Pellew in Phaeton (38), plus Bucephalus (36), and Captain George Harris in Sir Francis Drake (32) to guard against French Commodore Francois Raoul, with Nymphe (40) and Meduse (40), based at Sourabaya on the eastern end of the island. On the 3rd however the Commodore took aboard several of Governor Jansen’s staff and aides-de-camp and then fled to sea, but was spotted by Captain Charles Pelly in Bucephalus (36) and the brig Barracouta (18, Commander William Owen) who immediately set to chase. Pelly’s frigate out sailed the brig and closed with the French who steered north and west and then escaped on the 12th, arriving eventually at Brest on 22 December 1811.[266]

wythe3

Meanwhile Captains Pellew and Harris landed on the island of Madura, east of Java, and took the fort of Sumenap by coup de main on August 31st. In this operation 190 British induced 2,000 Franco-Dutch to surrender at cost of only three killed and 28 wounded. Although a few additional landings were required, by 18 September Java and all the surrounding islands had been captured.[267]

Napoleon Invades Russia

1812

Europe in 1812

In December 1810 Czar Alexander I determined to abandon the ruinous continental system. For Napoleon the Russians represented the last empire that could challenge his military supremacy, and if the Tilsit agreement no longer stood then the Emperor believed it was necessary to bring Russia back into the Napoleonic fold through force.

Barclay

Portrait of General of the Infantry, Minister of War, Barclay de Tolly, by Louis de Saint-Aubin, 1813

The Czar, realizing Napoleon’s intent, acted quickly to secure peace agreements with Sweden and the Ottomans, freeing up forces to assemble two armies on the Polish frontier totally approximately 220,000 under Minister of War Barclay and Prince Bagration, while a third army of 40,000 under Tormassov assembled to the south.[268] The frontline force thus consisted of at least 175,000 infantry, 18,000 Cossacks and 938 cannon, with reinforcements gradually bringing the total up to 400,000 infantry.[269]

Bagration

Prince Pyotr Bagration by George Dawe

On 19 March 1812 Russia declared war on France and Napoleon departed Paris in May, taking command of an army of 680,000 men including 100,000 cavalry, 1,242 pieces of artillery and 130 siege guns. The frontline force of between 450,000-500,000 soldiers in eleven corps was drawn from across the Empire and assembled in Germany for the Russian campaign.[270]

Neman

Grande Armee crossing the Neiman, 24 June 1812, by Giuseppe-Pietro Bagetti, c. 1814

Napoleon crossed the Russian frontier on 4 June 1812, intending to draw the Russians in and destroy them in a series of envelopments. Not surprisingly Barclay and Bagration refused to be so lured and presently withdrew to Smolensk where they combined on 2 August.[271] Due to the punishing heat and his long supply lines, Napoleon was forced to halt entirely at Vitebsk where he resupplied and rested between 29 July and 12 August.

Smolensk

Napoleon enters Smolensk, 18 August 1812, by Albrecht Adam, c. 1815-25

With Murat and Ney now leading, the French set out for Smolensk on 13 August and approached the Russian armies there on the 16th. Napoleon prepared for battle but Barclay refused to be drawn, and with Bagration arranging a withdrawal corridor the Russians again slipped away to arrive at Borodino not much more than 100 km from Moscow. So far Alexander had evaded every effort by Napoleon, Murat and Davout to force a decisive battle.[272]

Kutuzov2

Portrait of Kutuzov by James Godby, early 19th century

By this point Napoleon’s main force been reduced to not more than 130,000 effective troops. The 67 year old Kutuzov meanwhile was appointed by Alexander to the supreme command, with Tormassov continuing operations against Napoleon’s supply lines.[273] Stchepkin believes that Napoleon should have now established a base at Smolensk and continued the campaign the following spring, but the Emperor’s overriding desire to force a decisive battle that year was “perhaps the gravest error of the whole war.”[274] At any rate the Grand Armee crossed the Dnieper on the 19th, with Ney, Murat, Davout and Junot leading, and Napoleon followed on the 25th – the Emperor believing that if he approached Moscow the Russians would be forced to fight, giving him the opportunity he desperately sought to encircle them.

Borodino

Map of Borodino, 7 September 1812

Kutuzov dropped Barclay (who advocated for an attritional strategy) and prepared for a defensive battle at Borodino. The forces opposed to each other were at this time 103,800 in two Russian armies with 640 guns against 130,000 French infantry with 587 guns.[275]

Borodino2

Battle of Borodino, by Adam Albrecht

At 6 am on 7 September Napoleon ordered a frontal attack, despite Davout’s recommendations for a flanking movement, but ultimately cleared the Russian positions nevertheless after sustaining 28,000-30,000 casualties.[276] On the Russian side Bagration had been badly wounded during the fighting and later died on September 24th. The heavy fighting had exhausted Murat, Ney and Davout’s corps, and Napoleon was unwilling to release their reserves, thus Kutuzov with his remaining 90,000 men retreated, and Napoleon was free to approach Moscow.

Bagration

Pyotr Bagration wounded during fighting at Borodino, 5 September 1812, by Jean Gerin

Borodino

Napoleon at Borodino, by Joseph Louis Hippolyte Bellange, c. 1847

Napoleon entered Moscow on 14 September, after nearly the entire population of 250,000 had been evacuated.[277] The Emperor now had only 95,000 soldiers still combat effective, although the Russians had not much more.[278] Napoleon established himself in the Kremlin on 15 September but was forced to withdraw for several days as fires destroyed much of the city.[279] The Emperor remained in the ruins of Moscow for a month, despatching diplomats to entreat for peace on 5 October – and thereby revealing the weakness of his hand – and when this effort proved futile departed on 19 October for the long march back to the frontier. The next day Tormasov arrived at the Russian lines and assumed command of the united army.

Tormasov

Alexander Tormasov, by George Dawe, before 1825

Snow fell on 4 November and Napoleon arrived at Smolensk on the 9th, where he was able to reform his now decimated army up to 49,000 men.[280] Napoleon continued the withdrawal on the 14th, with Kutuzov close on his heels with 90,000 men. The Russian commander was soon joined by Wittgenstein and Tshitshagov, bringing the combined army up to 144,000 while Napoleon sent his marshals ahead of him so that he could make a demonstration of attack with his remaining corps sized force of 37,000.[281]

Retreat from Moscow

Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow

With encirclement a real possibility Napoleon had to find some way out, and he eventually did on 26 November by crossing the Beresina river,[282] Oudinot first, followed by Ney, Victor, Junot, Davout and Murat after which the wooden pontoons the French had built were blown up to prevent Russian pursuit.

Napoleon departed for Paris on 5 December, arriving there on the 18th to begin reforming his armies, while Murat managed the last of the retreat from Russia, the Grande Armee now little more than rags; on 2 December it numbered only a pitiful total of 8,800 men, further reduced to 4,300 by the 10th.[283] Ney, commanding the final rearguard, crossed back over the Niemen on 14 December.[284] The campaign had cost Napoleon between 500,000 – 570,000 men, 150,000 horses and 1,000 guns, with anther 150,000 men prisoners in Russia.[285] The Russian losses for the campaign numbered perhaps 200,000.[286] Napoleon and his marshals had escaped the trap in Russia, and a complete debacle had been narrowly avoided, although at enormous cost in manpower and treasure.

YorckKonvention-Tauroggen

General Yorck von Wartenburg, painted by Ernst Gebauer, commander of the Prussian forces sent to Russia, signed the Convention of Tauroggen, 30 December 1812, a preliminary to the formation of the Sixth Coalition; in part negotiated by Carl von Clausewitz

By 1812, despite Napoleon’s reversals on land, he had built the fleet back up to 100 ships of the line with another 42 in the fleets of the Baltic countries, including Russia.[287] Of course, following the treaty of Orebro signed 12 July 1812, the Russians and Swedes were now aligned with the British, making these latter warships inaccessible to Napoleon. Napoleon’s hastily constructed ships, built of green unseasoned timber, were of doubtful quality, with perhaps 55 being actually fit for sea, and of these, only 30 of real value in 1811.[288]

Vice Admiral Allemande at Lorient however did succeed in making to sea the night of 8 March with four of the line, Eylau (80), Guilemar (74), Marengo (74), and Veteran (74) with a pair of corvettes.[289] As was the case with previous efforts to elude the Royal Navy’s blockade the French were soon located, this time within 24 hours by the frigate Diana (38), followed shortly by several 74s of Captain John Gore’s squadron, led by Tonnant (80), with Northumberland (Captain Henry Hotham), Colossus (Cpt. Thomas Alexander) and Bulwark (Cpt. Thomas Browne), who reconnoitred Lorient on the evening of 9 March and found that Allemande was gone and was then joined by his outriders, Pompee (74), Tremendous (74) and Poictiers (74), Captain Gore’s squadron now constituting seven warships. In the event, however, Allemande managed to extricate his squadron from the Royal Navy’s effort to intercept by slipping through a fog bank and returning to Brest on the 29th.[290] Likewise Toulon, base of Vice Admiral Emeriau’s squadron, was blockaded by Vice Admiral Pellew, but with equally little effort from the French that year (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 312).

War with the United States

Liverpool

After Spencer Perceval’s assassination on 11 May 1812, in June Robert Jenkinson, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool (painted here by Sir Thomas Lawrence, c. 1820) became Prime Minister. He held the office for the next 15 years, until his succession by George Canning in 1827.

The United States Congress declared war upon Britain on 18 June 1812 but the British scored the first success on 17 July when Major General Isaac Brock ordered the capture of Fort Michilimackinac between the Huron and Michigan Great Lakes.[291]

Frigates

Opening naval actions of the War of 1812, various frigate engagements of the war, from James Bradford, ed., America, Sea Power, and the World (2016), see also, from Andrew Lambert, The Challenge, Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812 (2012)

rose2

HMS Rose replica, 24-guns, 1757 pattern

It was no small concern then that the Royal Navy would be distracted by operations in North America that year. The Americans, however, had chosen war with the United Kingdom precisely when British arms were at their height after a decade of socio-economic mobilization amidst incessant coalition warfare. The small United States Navy (USN) would be hard pressed to prevent the Royal Navy from implementing a punishing blockade: with 92% of federal government income derived from customs revenue, the American coast was particularly susceptible to economic blockade.[294]

Campaign in the North

Campaign in the North, from Tindall & Shi, America, A Narrative History, vol. I (2004)

GenIsaacBrock

Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Major General Sir Isaac Brock, by George Theodore Berthon, c. 1883

US General William Hull’s 2,000 militia initially advanced into Canada but then withdrew to Detroit where Brock attacked him with 350 regulars, 600 Canadian militia, and 400 volunteers, successfully forcing Hull’s surrender on 16/17 August.[292]

Queenstown01

Battle of Queenstown (Queenstown) Heights, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981)

Queenston Heights

Battle of Queenstown Heights, 13 October 1812, Major General Brock is killed. Painting by John David Kelly, c. 1896

When Major General Stephen van Rensselaer brought his 600 militia into Upper Canada Major General Brock stopped the American advance but was killed on 13 October at Queenstown Heights. Major General Henry Dearborn’s effort to advance on Montreal in November likewise stalled when the American militia refused to advance.[293]

gipsy

30 April 1812, 38-gun Belle Poule captures the American privateer Gipsy

Belvidera

23 June 1812, John William Huggins painting of HMS Belvidera being chased by American frigates

The war had only just broken out when on 23 June Commodore John Rodger’s frigate squadron attacked Captain Richard Byron’s 36-gun frigate Belvidera. The three US frigates, USS President (44), USS Congress (36), and USS United States, plus the sloops Hornet and Argus, attempted to intercept the British Jamaican convoy while sailing east from New York found instead Captain Byron, who was engaged searching for the French privateer Marengo 100 miles south west of Nantucket Shoals, offshore of New London, Connecticut. Byron avoided the American cannon fire and led the Americans away from the West Indies convoy route while Belvidera slipped into Halifax.[295]

Portrait of Captain Vere De Broke by Samuel Lake BHC2575

Captain Sir Philip Broke, by Samuel Lane. Captain Broke as Commodore assumed command of the RN forces at Halifax, with the aim of confronting Rodgers’ squadron and destroying it. Broke’s command included HMS Africa (64), and frigates Shannon, Aeolus, Belvidera and Guerriere. Rodgers was still at sea off the Grand Banks seeking the West Indies convoy.

brig Nautilus

Schooner USS Nautilus (14 guns), captured by HMS Shannon on 15 July 1812

On 15 July HMS Shannon captured the schooner USS Nautilus (14) under Lieutenant William Crane, and on 17 July Broke located but was unable to catch USS Constitution (44, Captain Isaac Hull), which managed to escape on 21 July by sticking close to the shoreline in waters too shallow for the Shannon to pursue.[296] Broke meanwhile sailed for the West Indies convoy, 60 merchants being escorted by HMS Thetis, located them on the 29th and informed Captain Byam that they were now at war with the Americans.[297]

USS Constitution

Captain Isaac Hull in USS Constitution, eluded Broke’s squadron between 17-21 July 1812

Constitution Guerrier

19 August 1812, USS Constitution captured HMS Guerriere, engraving by Michaele Corne & Abel Bowen

On 19 August Constitution located HMS Guerriere (38, Captain James Dacres), who Broke had detached from his squadron – still escorting the Jamaica convoy – to return to Halifax to replace a badly damaged mast. Outgunned by Constitution, Captain Dacres surrendered after a two hour fight.[298] This minor naval setback however was more than offset when on 16 August General William Hull, Isaac Hull’s uncle, surrendered to the Canadian militia under Brock at Detroit, as we have seen.[299]

The 'United States' and "Macedonian' in action

HMS Macedonian captured by USS United States, October 1812 engraving by Abel Bowen. On 25 October 1812 Stephen Decatur in the USS United States (44) took HMS Macedonian (38, Captain John Carden),[300] and on 29 December Constitution took HMS Java (38, Captain Henry Lambert), in the latter engagement the Americans suffering 36 casualties to 124 British.[301]

Java Constitution

Java

29 December 1812, Constitution takes the Java, & the same by Patrick O’Brien

This series of dramatic losses caused Lord Melville to pressure Admiral Warren to refocus on the blockade at the expense of engaging the heavy American frigates. Although wary of being micromanaged from London, Warren was relieved when three more battleships, a 50-gun cruiser, and five frigates were sent to his command during the winter of 1812-13.[302]

Miniature, MNT0093

Admiral John Warren, c. 1820. C-in-C North America 1813-1814. Enforced the blockade of mid-Atlantic states, provided escorts to Britain’s merchant convoys, supplied Commodore Yeo on the Great Lakes, and intercepted American privateers during the initial defensive phase of the North American war. By July 1813 Warren was able to deploy 57 vessels on blockade, up from 19 the year before.[303]

convoy

A frigate escorting a convoy off St. John’s Newfoundland

Shannon Do

HMS Shannon captures USS Chesapeake, 1 June 1813, painted by Robert Dodd

The next major duel took place in the summer of 1813 when on 1 June Captain Broke in Shannon, armed with 18-pdr guns, challenged Captain James Lawrence of Chesapeake to fight a singular ship to ship combat. Lawrence agreed and they fought off Boston, with Broke taking Chesapeake although being badly wounded in the process. James Lawrence was killed by a sniper’s ball, along with 70 others KIA and 100 WIA.[304] Although heroic, these frigate actions were hardly significant when compared to the overall blockade effort, in fact expanded in 1813 to include Virginia and New England.[305]

Enterprise_and_Boxer

Brig USS Enterprise captures the 12-gun brig HMS Boxer off the coast of Maine, September 1813, by Frederick Hill

Part V

1815

North American Theatre & The Wars of the Sixth and Seventh Coalitions

Warof1812 Theatre

Lakes

US campaign plan for 1813, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981), & operations on the Great Lakes, from James Bradford, ed., America, Sea Power, and the World (2016)

The Great Lakes

For President Madison the campaign in Upper Canada in 1813 was the decisive theatre of the war, revolved around sea control on the Great Lakes, in particular Lake Ontario.[306] Towards this end the British were building warships at Kingston, York, and Amherstburg, while the Americans were building ships at Sacketts Harbor, Black Rock and Presque Isle. Major General Dearborn moved camp from Plattsburgh to Sackets, where he waited with Commodore Isaac Chauncey for the opportunity to capture Kingston, the gateway to the St. Lawrence and Montreal. Concern that there were overwhelming forces at Kingston, however, waylaid the Americans into attacking the less well protected shipbuilding facilities at York instead, which they captured in April 1813 after the British blew up the fort’s magazine.[307]

PU3283

Captain Sir James Yeo c. 1810, engraving by Adam Buck, Henry R. Cook, & Joyce Gold

In March Commodore Sir James Yeo was appointed C-in-C Great Lakes and given the objective of securing Lake Ontario. While the Americans were engaged looting York, Yeo conducted raids along the coast attempting to burn or capture the enemy’s naval stores and shipbuilding facilities. He raided Sackets Harbor on 29 May,[308] and captured two American schooners near Niagara on 10 August.[309] These operations, in conjunction with the defensive-minded Governor General Prevost, were a drain on the resources of Admiral Warren’s North American command at Bermuda, but were vital to for the defence of Kingston; to prevent the frontier from collapsing into American hands.[310]

RobertHeriotBarclay

Commander Robert Barlcay

Oliver Hazard Perry

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

On Lake Erie USN Commander Oliver Hazard Perry with a squadron of nine small ships, his flag in the 20-gun Lawrence, supported by the 20-gun Niagara, won a victory on 10 September 1813 against Commander Robert Barclay’s squadron of six sloops (the largest being Queen Charlotte, 16, and Detroit, 12), corvettes and schooners, and suffered 123 American casualties to 135 British.[311]

Lakeerie2

lakeerie03

Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981)

This battle secured the lake for the Americans and isolated Britain from reinforcing its Indian allies to the west.[312] As a result the Americans were able to recapture Detroit and Major General William Harrison then advanced into Upper Canada, confronting the British at the Battle of the Thames, 5 October 1813, where Tecumseh was killed.

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison, by Rembrandt Peale, c. 1813

Tecumseh

Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, attributed to Owen Staples, based on Lossing’s engraving

Tecumseh2

Battle of the Thames, 5 October 1813, death of Tecumseh

Operations on the Great Lakes continued in 1814. On 6 May on Lake Ontario Commodore Yeo led a raid against Fort Oswego (Fort Ontario), burning a quantity of naval stores, and then proceeded to blockade Sackett’s Harbor until the end of July at which point the Americans drove him back to Kingston with a superior naval force. On 15 October however Yeo at last launched the 110-gun St Lawrence, while the USN heavy ships were still under construction, and put the Americans back under blockade.[313]

A3914

Commodore Yeo’s raid on Raid at Fort Oswego, 6 May 1814, engraving by I Hewett and Robert Havell

Meanwhile on 11 September on Lake Champlain the USN won a significant victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh in which Commodore Thomas Macdonough destroyed the squadron of Captain George Downie. Captain Downie’s squadron, composed of the frigate Confiance (36 – launched 25 August), plus a brig, two sloops and between 12 and 14 gunboats, was supporting the 8,000-11,000 strong army of Peninsular campaign veterans commanded by Governor General Sir George Prevost who was attempting to seize Plattsburgh and reduce the American naval base there.[314]

Attackon Plattsburgh

Prevost’s advance on Plattsburgh, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981)

Macdonough3

Commodore Thomas Macdonough, USN, engraving by John Wesley Jarvis

Captain Macdonough, acting in the capacity of Commodore for the USN forces at Plattsburgh, had under his command the Saratoga (26), a heavy corvette, a schooner, a sloop and about 10 gunboats, plus the brig Eagle (20) the latter having just been launched on 16 August.[315]

Plattsburgh03

Macdonough’s anchorage at Plattsburgh, and Downie’s failed attack, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981)

As Prevost moved against Plattsburgh, where General Macomb had less than 2,000 Americans, Downie sailed from Isle-aux-Noix on 8 September and entered the Plattsburgh harbor on the 11th, where Captain Macdonough was waiting for him. Downie lined up Confiance to engage Saratoga but was killed early in the battle and the Americans gradually out-gunned the remaining British warships, which were all taken.[316] After this disaster Prevost retreated back into Canada, ending the British land offensive for that year.

Lake Champlain

Battle of Lake Champlain (Battle of Plattsburgh), 11 September 1814, painted by Commander Eric Tufnell, RN.

Prevost2a

Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost, Governor General of Canada, painted by Robert Field 

On 24 December the Treaty of Ghent was signed, ending the war based on the status quo ante bellum, although it took several months for this news to reach the various theatres of operation.[317] On 2 March 1815 Lieutenant General Sir George Murray arrived in Canada and ordered Prevost to return to London to explain the failure of the Plattsburgh campaign, but Prevost died on 5 January 1816 before his court martial took place.[318]

Field, Robert, 1769-1819; Admiral Sir Alexander Inglis Cochrane (1758-1832), Governor of Guadeloupe

Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Alexander Cochrane, C-in-C North American, 1814, painted by Robert Field in 1809

On the Atlantic seaboard meanwhile Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, who had been aboard HMS Northumberland in Duckworth’s squadron at the Battle of San Domingo and then governor of Guadeloupe from 1810-1813, was promoted to Vice Admiral as C-in-C North America, replacing Warren at the beginning of 1814. With Napoleon exiled to Elba, Cochrane was soon supported by 2,500 of Wellington’s troops under Major General Ross for operations in the Chesapeake.

Chesapeake02

The Chesapeake Campaign, August-September 1814, from James Bradford, ed., America, Sea Power, and the World (2016)

4.2-3.-Bladensburg-Final-flat-1

Battle of Bladensburg, 24 August 1814

washington01

Advance on Washington, from Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border (1981)

Cockburn 1817

Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, painting by John Halls c. 1817. Note burning Washington, D.C., in background

Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn (who later escorted Napoleon to St. Helena in 1815), and Major General Ross won the battle of Bladensburg, 24 August, and then seized Washington – almost capturing President Madison in the process – before burning the city.[319] Ross however was killed on 12 September when the army advanced to Baltimore, being replaced by Major General Edward Pakenham, and on the 13th Cochrane shelled Fort McHenry, before withdrawing.[320]

Pakenham

Major General Sir Edward Pakenham, by Thomas Heaphy, c. 1813-1814

The Pacific, 1814 & New Orleans, 1815

Pacific

Map of the Pacific North West, 1818-1846, from Barry Gough’s Britannia’s Navy (2016)

In the Pacific Captain James Hillyar in the frigate Phoebe (36: 26 18-pdr, four 9-pdr and 14 32-pdr carronades), along with the sloop Cherub (28, Captain Thomas Tucker) was despatched to intercept the carronade frigate USS Essex (rated 32 but actually carrying 40 32-pdr carronades and six 12-pdrs), commanded by Captain David Porter, USN. In September 1812 Porter had narrowly avoided being engaged by Broke in the Shannon (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 367-8).

Miniature, MNT0004

Captain James Hillyar of HMS Phoebe (36), despatched to the Pacific in 1813 to intercept USS Essex (40)

Essex, now operating in the Pacific, seized 12 out of the 20 British whalers operating around the Galapagos Islands between April – October 1813.[321] USS Essex was eventually captured, with 58 dead and 66 wounded, on 28 March 1814 at the Battle of Valparaiso Bay.[322]

Phoebe

36-gun frigate HMS Phoebe

1920px-Battle_of_Valparaiso

Capture of the USS Essex by HMS Phoebe & Cherub, 28 March 1814, Battle of Valparaiso, engraving based on Abel Bowen.

pirates

N. C. Wyeth illustration

Vice Admiral Cochrane meanwhile redeployed his forces to the southern United States and in preparation for operations against New Orleans landed 7,500 men under General Pakenham at Lake Borgne, where RN gunboats destroyed a smaller USN gunboat detachment under Lieutenant Thomas ap Catesby Jones.[323]

Campaing in the south

Southern Campaign02

Campaign in the South, from Tindall & Shi, America, A Narrative History, vol. I (2004) & detail of same from James Bradford, ed., America, Sea Power, and the World (2016)

Borgne

USN and RN gunboats engaged on Lake Borgne, 14 December 1814, by Thomas Hornbrook

Major General Andrew Jackson prepared for the defence of New Orleans, that culminated in the battle of the Plains of Chalmette on 8 January 1815, during which the British sustained between 2,000-3,000 casualties, including the death of General Pakenham, thus stalling the offensive until news arrived on 13 February of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.[324]

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson2

Andrew Jackson commanding at New Orleans, by Thomas Sully c. 1845, & by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl, c. 1817

Battle of New Orleans

Battle of New Orleans and Death of Major General Pakenham

By the beginning of 1815 the American privateers operating in the Atlantic, of which there were in total 515 variously commissioned,[325] had done significant damaged to Britain’s mercantile trade, having captured 1,175 ships (of which only 373 were recaptured before the end of the war).[326] In a final embarrassment for the Americans, USS President was captured early in January 1815 by HMS Endymion, Captain Henry Hope, supported by Tenedos and Pomone.[327]

Penguin

Sloop USS Hornet (20) captures brig HMS Penguin (18), 23 March 1815

schooners

Launching of the Great Lakes schooners Newash and Tecumseh, c. August 1815

European Cataclysm: The War of the Sixth Coalition

Napoleon’s 1812 campaign had been an undeniable disaster although, like Stalingrad for the Third Reich 130 years later, not the fatal blow. The strategic initiative now passed to the Allies. Early in 1813 both Austria and Prussia changed sides, joining the new Sixth Coalition with Austria assuming a temporary armed neutrality while Prussia joined with the Russians.  Berlin was liberated on 4 March, and this prompted the Prussians to declare war against France on the 17th.[328]

Kutozov

Kutuzov rejects Napoleon’s peace offer, by Ivan Ivanov, c. 1813

Napoleon wasted no time making preparations to recover his military power, having levied 137,000 in January 1813, and thus in April joined the army on the German frontier with 226,000 men and 457 guns. By August this force had been built up to 400,000, although mainly composed of conscripts with limited if any experience given the demise of most of his veterans in Russia – however one authority considers the infantry and artillery of sound quality with only the cavalry lacking in horses and material.[329] The situation amongst the Allies, luckily for Napoleon, was not much better: the combined Russo-Prussian army accounted for only 110,000, of which 30,000 were cavalry, with Wittgenstein commanding the Russians and Blucher the Prussians under King Frederick William.

Leipzig

First phase of the 1813 campaign, 5 April to 4 June

The King left Potsdam on 22 February, committed to retrieving his kingdom, and was anticipated by his ambassador in Moscow who had been instructed to form a coalition with the Russians, which was quickly done, the Sixth Coalition coming into existence by the treaty of Kalish, 27 February 1813.[330] The Allies would await the Austrians, who were not yet willing to commit as their dynastic interests now tied them to Napoleon’s fortunes: Napoleon had in fact divorced Josephine in January 1810 and in the spring married Emperor Francis’ daughter, the Habsburg princess Marie Louise.[331] The British meanwhile funnelled money to Napoleon’s enemies, providing £2 million for Russia and Prussia with another £1.6 million set aside for Austria, the total British war financing to the alliance between March and November 1813 amounting to £11 million, plus another £2 million in arms and equipment.[332]

Witt

Marshal Peter Wittgenstein, by George Dawe

For the 1813 campaign Napoleon intended a rapid stroke aimed at the Prussians, who had switched sides in the aftermath of 1812, before refocusing on the Russians. Both sides mobilized their forces early in April, with Blucher and Wittgenstien fielding 65,000 as they marched on Magdeburg where they outnumbered Eugene.[333]  On the 16th of April Napoleon left Paris and moved to Mainz where he stayed until the 24th, issuing his orders. Napoleon deployed the Army of the Elbe on the defensive at the Thuringian forest, and took command of the Army of the Main with 105,000 men. The Italians and Bavarians were marching to join him with 40,000 men, the combined army including 10,000 cavalry and 400 guns.[334]

Lutzen

luzen

Views of the Battle of Lützen, 3 May 1813, Napoleon opens the 1813 campaign in Saxony.

Kutuzov, the most senior commander, died in April and the combined Russo-Prussian army constituted only 80,000 men currently at Leipzig. Napoleon was confident he could shatter them before their strength grew, expecting just such a demonstration to swing the Austrians back onto his side.[335] Napoleon crossed the Saale river into Saxony on 1 May and forced the Allies to withdraw from Leipzig, which the French then occupied. On May 3rd  Wittgenstein attacked Napoleon’s wing at Gross-Gorschen (Luetzen), where within a matter of hours Napoleon reinforced 45,000 French up to 110,000, outnumbering the allies’ 75,000.[336] The Allies suffered 10,000 losses and withdrew to Dresden, re-crossing the Elbe, but Napoleon lost 18,000 men and more deserted as he advanced.

Dragoon

French Dragoon, from Theodore Dodge, Napoleon: a History of the Art of War, vol. IV, (1909)

Reinforcements continued to arrive and the French soon took Dresden, when the Allies – paralyzed at first by internal disunity – withdrew to Bautzen. Napoleon reorganized the army at Dresden until 17 May, by which time his force marshalled 150,000-120,000, with 150 guns, with Ney adding two corps, 85,000 men, and Davout another 30,000.[337] Napoleon now marched towards Bautzen and as he began surrounding that place on the 19th, Wittgenstien with his 96,000 launched an evening spoiling attack against Ney before falling back. The Allies now had approximately 122,000 men on the field. Between 20-21 May Napoleon attacked the Allied centre while Ney maneuvered on their flank and forced the Allies again to withdraw, but not until after Napoleon had sustained 20,000 casualties.[338] Wittgenstein resigned in protest and was replaced by Barclay, and together with Blucher the Allies withdrew to Berlin.

Alexander I

Bust of Alexander I by Henri-Joseph Rutxhiel

Bautzen

Map of Bautzen, 20-21 May 1813

By punishing the Russian and Prussian armies Napoleon seemed to be achieving his aim, and after Bautzen Francis I felt concerned enough about the prospects of Frederick William and Alexander I to have Metternich despatch ambassadors to Napoleon as peace feelers.[339]

800px-Metternich_by_Lawrence

Austrian Foreign Minister Klemens von Metternich,

With peace in the offing, and desirous to buy time, Napoleon now proposed an armistice which was duly arranged at Pleiswitz on 4 June, scheduled to last until 20 July, but ultimately lasting until 12 August.[340] The war could have ended during this time, but Bonaparte refused to accept the proffered terms as they would have dismantled most if not all of Napoleon’s system and, since every day he was gaining reinforcements and supplies, he simply delayed until the Austrians turned against him, as Metternich intended, after which there was no going back.[341]

Scharnhorst

George_Dawe,_Field_Marshal_August_Neidhardt,_Count_of_Gneisenau_(1760–1831),_1818

Von Scharnhorst, and Von Gneisenau, Blucher’s Chiefs of Staff. Scharnhorst was wounded during the retreat from Dresden and died at Prague on 28 June 1813. He was succeeded by Gneisenau, who introduced modernized organizational methods in the Prussian army and played a key role developing operational plans for the Battle of Leipzig and the 1814 and 1815 campaigns.

By stopping after Bautzen Napoleon allowed the Russo-Prussian armies to reinforce, when with greater effort they might have been scattered before Austria finished mobilizing.[342] Metternich, since the spring, had been steadily pressuring Francis to expand his army in preparation for intervention and on 14 June took the fateful step of authorizing full mobilization.[343] The Austrians added an army of nearly 200,000 under Schwarzenberg and Radetzky, the former becoming C-in-C, and by the end of August the Austrians had mobilized 479,000 of which 298,000 were frontline troops.[344] The Swedes, meanwhile, lubricated with British financing, also joined the Allies.[345]

Schwarzenberg

Karel Schwarzenberg, Allied C-in-C after the armistice of Plaswitz (4 June – 13 August 1813)

On 19 June Metternich met with Czar Alexander at Opotschna and conveyed his objective to arrange a restorative peace now, followed by a European conference to settle affairs later.[346] The result of this meeting produced the proposed Treaty of Reichenbach that Metternich than personally delivered to Napoleon at Dresden on 26 June: essentially an ultimatum demanding territorial concessions, including the dissolution of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Confederation of the Rhine. Napoleon could now see that the cards were on the table, that his belief that he had been holding a winning hand was mistaken, and that Austria was committed to go to war against France unless he acceded to the Allied terms.[347] On 30 June Napoleon nevertheless agreed to Metternich’s offer for mediation, extending the armistice until 10 August.

NPG D37411; Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (Lord Castlereagh) by William Bond, by  William Bennett, after  James Stephanoff

Lord Castlereagh,

Foreign Secretary Castlereagh clarified Britain’s position on 5 July when he demanded a much harsher peace than Metternich had proposed, including an independent Holland and the dissolution of the Kingdom of Italy.[348] Metternich took the additional time to complete mobilization and convince Emperor Franz that he was now the centre of the coalition that could defeat Napoleon.[349] Of course Metternich’s greatest concern was that Napoleon would accept the Austrian offer and thereby compel Austria to side with France against the Sixth Coalition, indeed, perhaps accepting the terms would have been Napoleon’s best course of action if he desired to remain a component of the European state system. After further posturing, Napoleon did not despatch a plenipotentiary to what would have been the Congress of Prague until 25 July, Austria issued a final ultimatum on 8 August and then duly declared war on the 12th.[350]

Charles_Maurice_de_Talleyrand-Périgord_-_Pierre-Paul_Prud'hon

 Charles Maruice de Talleyrand

By now the Coalition could boast of a substantial reserve of manpower, approximately 800,000 under arms, with Schwarzenberg in unified command. Napoleon, however, had summoned as many as 600,000, representing 570,000 versus 410,000 frontline troops.[351] The actual structure of the Allied armies after the armistice of Plaswitz was as follows: Russia, with 184,000 and 639 guns, Prussia with 162,000 and 362 guns, and the Austrians with 127,000 and 290 guns, with additional contingents supplied by Sweden, England, and the other German states accounting for an additional 39,000 men and 90 guns.[352]

Oudinot

Marshal Nicolas-Charles Oudinot, Napoleon’s field commander during the unsuccessful Berlin operation, painted by Robert Lefevre

Keenly aware of Napoleon’s intention to divide the Allies, Schwarzenberg adopted the Trachenberg or Reichenbach plan, closely aligned with what Von Gneisenau was proposing, by which one army would pin Napoleon, draw him in while retreating, and thus enable the others to close in and develop an encirclement. Napoleon, for his part, intended to march first on Berlin, hoping to defeat the smaller Prussian army, before turning to confront the Austrians. Napoleon placed Oudinot in overall command – a mistake according to Rothenberg who greatly favours Davout.[353]

Dresden

Battle of Dresden, 27/28 August 1813, by Carle Verne

At any rate Oudinot succeeded in pushing Bernadotte out of Berlin, although von Bulow refused to give up the capital and on 23 August won a small victory at Grossbeeren, while Napoleon concentrated against Blucher.[354] Blucher, playing his part, refused to engaged Napoleon, while Schwarzenberg moved against Napoleon’s base of supply at Dresden. Napoleon immediately reversed course and marched against Schwarzenberg, defeating him at Dresden on 27/28 August with 120,000 against 150,000, with the Allies suffering as many as 30,000 losses.[355] Blucher, however, stopped Macdonald in Silesia,[356] while Ney and Oudinot failed against von Bulow at Dennewitz, 6 September, and thus were unable clear the road to Berlin.[357] Likewise, Vandamme was mauled by Kleist at Kulm, these defeats together a series of reversals that largely mitigated Napoleon’s success at Dresden.[358]

Soveriengs

Austrian Emperor Franz I, Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III and Czar Alexander I at Leipzig, by John Scott, after Johann Peter Krafft

Napoleon was now in an unusual situation. He had planned to enter Berlin about the 9th or 10th of September, yet although he had been victorious against the Allies at Dresden, his detached commands had all been defeated individually, and his total losses since the recommencement of hostilities amounted to 150,000 men and 300 guns.[359] Napoleon waited most of September at Dresden, rebuilding his army up to 267,000 men, before marching against Blucher on the 5th of October, while the Allies concentrated at Leipzig. Napoleon was unable to catch Blucher and the Emperor too was forced to march towards Leipzig, arriving there on the 14th, a decisive battle now inevitable as the Allies were completing their concentration.[360]

On 8 October the Bavarians joined the Allies, and Napoleon was faced with a situation in which he could not inflict enough punishment on any one of the Allies to weaken the coalition, while they steadily grew in numbers and tightened their net. The Battle of the Nations thus fought at Leipzig between 16 and 19 October now surpassed Wagram as the largest battle in history.

Leipzig

Map of Leipzig, 16 October 1813

Leipzig

The Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, situation at 3 pm, 16 October 1813, by Theodore Jung

At Leipzig on 16 October Napoleon’s 160,000-190,000 and 734 guns faced between 250,00-300,000 Coalition soldiers with 1335 guns.[361] Schwarzenberg and Blucher opened simultaneous attacks, and although the Coalition attacks lacked coordination and Napoleon succeeded in defeating components of the Coalition armies, he was slowly being surrounded. Napoleon now desperately entreated for peace, but the Allies no longer had any intention of negotiations.

retreat

Napoleon retreats after Leipzig, blowing up the bridges behind him, 19 October 1813, by Carle Vernet

Over the next three days the French suffered 25,000-38,000 casualties as the superior Coalition armies attempted to surround him. Napoleon began withdrawing on the 19th, during which another 30,000 men were either killed of captured. The Allies sustained 40,000-50,000 casualties. One estimate has 120,000 men of all nations killed and wounded over the course of the battle, and if all French losses since the collapse of the Russian campaign of 1812 are counted, Napoleon had by this point in November 1813 lost about a million men in a little over a year.[362]

Allies2

Allies

Allies meeting in Leipzig after the battle, and the same by John Hill

At any rate, Napoleon now retreated, the Emperor pushing through Wrede’s attempt to intercept him at Hanau on 29/31 October, defeating his 40,000 Bavarians and, with 70,000 soldiers left, on 2 November crossed the Rhine at Mainz, the Allies marching up behind him.[363] With Wellington pinning down another 100,000 troops in southern France, Napoleon’s situation was at its most desperate. Still, the Allies were temperamentally slow to move and with winter approaching the Coalition leadership retired to Frankfurt, requiring all of November and most of December to prepare for their next offensive.[364] On 22 December the Allies at last attacked, but Napoleon, as Clausewitz observed, feigned resistance at the Rhine crossing and stalled the Allied armies for another six weeks as he continued to reinforce. The Allies at last crossed the Rhine, in the last week of January 1814, and began the invasion of France, the offensive Napoleon now had to interrupt.[365]

Napoleon’s 1814 Campaign

1814campaign

The 1814 Campaign, by Ernest Meissonier, c. 1864

As 1814 dawned Napoleon was at war with Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the United Netherlands. On 11 January Murat, King of Naples, signed a separate peace with the Allies, adding his name to that of Bernadotte who had also abandoned the Bonapartist system. Napoleon tempestuously assembled yet another army by plumbing Carnot’s 1793 national conscription system. While his paper figures represented an enormous force of 963,000, he had perhaps only 110,000 campaigning troops left.[366] Napoleon deployed 70,000 to hold Paris, hoping to again inflict individual defeats on the Allies despite his effective army at the beginning of 1814 amounting to only 30-40,000, the troops having suffered from typhus over the hard winter.

1814

Map of the Battles during the 1814 campaign, Napoleon defends while the Allies converge on Paris.

The Allies on the other hand possessed a large force of about 620,000 men and 1,310 guns, divided into five armies with a reserve. The largest army was still the Austrians under Schwarzenberg, with 200,000 men and 682 guns.[367] In the final weeks of December the Allies launched two spearheads, one to liberate Holland, the other to cross the Meuse on a broad-front, with Blucher in the lead. By the end of January Blucher was at Brienne, where he and Gneisenau were furiously writing to Schwarzenberg to encourage him to march on Paris.[368] Peace negotiations, led by Metternich, Castlereagh and Talleyrand, were already under way.

brienne

The Battle of Brienne, 29 January 1814, Napoleon heads off Blucher’s vanguard

Brienne

Brienne, by Simeon Fort, c. 1840

Napoleon departed Paris on 25 January with 42,000 men and, expecting another 30,000 to arrive shortly, on the 29th repulsed Blucher after dividing him from Yorck at Brienne.[369] Blucher fell back on Schwarzenberg’s 100,000 men and then on February 1st 1814 at La Rothiere in heavy snow, counter-attacked at La Rothiere and checked Napoleon’s advance at the price of 6,000 men and 70 guns which he could ill afford.[370]

champ

Champaubert, 10 February 1814, by Jean Fort

Mont

1280px-Battle_of_Montmirail_1814

Battle of Montmirail, 11 February 1814, by Simeon Fort & by Louis Stanislas Marine-Lavigne

Napoleon now fought with energetic desperation and shortly gave the Allies pause. He rejected the Allied offer of 7 February – essentially Castlereagh’s harsh 1791 terms – and resolved to defeat Blucher before confronting Schwarzenberg. During the first two weeks of February he countered Blucher at Champaubert 9/10 February, at Montmirail on the 11th, and at Vauchamps on the 14th he dealt the Allies reversals.[371] Napoleon’s best hope at this point was the disintegration of the coalition, something Metternich and Castlereagh were struggling incessantly to prevent, while also acting as agents of delay: Metternich on 8 January had told Schwarzenberg to slow his approach while diplomatic negotiations were ongoing.[372]

601

Battle of Monterau, 17/18 February 1814, by Jean Antoine Simeon Fort

Schwarzenberg was indeed slowly advancing but Napoleon intercepted him with 56,000 men on 17/18 February at Monterau and repulsed the Crown Prince of Wurtemberg, inflicting 5,000 casualties.[373] The Allies were willing even now to accept Napoleon in power, offering terms on the 1792 borders, a proposal that the Emperor again rejected. Schwarzenberg withdrew, but detached Blucher to attack Marmont and draw him from Napoleon’s army.

Laon

Battle of Laon, 9 March 1814, Blucher defeats Napoleon

The Allies at this point signed the Treaty of Chaumont, negotiated 1-9 March, promising not to sign any separate peace with Napoleon.[374] While Napoleon continued to maneuver around Paris Schwarzenberg on the 7th designated the French capital as his objective. Blucher at last caught the Emperor off-guard at Laon on the 9th, Blucher’s 100,000-85,000 defeated Napoleon’s remaining 37,000. Napoleon blamed Marmont for failing to have arrived with reinforcements in time (although Marmont’s corps was badly mauled in the fighting) yet continued to maneuver.

Acris2

Battle of Arcis, 20/21 March 1814, Schwarzenberg defeats Napoleon, from David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon (1973)

On 20 March Napoleon attacked Schwarzenberg’s army with his mere 30,000 remaining forces, and with Napoleon materially exhausted Schwarzenberg detached 10,000 cavalry to watch Bonaparte, who was at Orleans rallying forces, while the Austrian supreme commander took the main army, now 180,000 strong, to Paris, entering on the 31st after the city capitulated.[376]

In the west Wellington continued his offensive against Soult and entered Bordeaux on 12 March.[375]

Toulouse

Toulose2

10 April, Toulouse, Wellington defeats Soult

Characteristically Napoleon refused to accept defeat and intended to continue fighting, but on 3 April Talleyrand, who had been negotiating with the Allies for some time, declared a provisional government. The next day Macdonald, Oudinot, Lefebvre, led by Ney, confronted Napoleon and refused to continue the war.

Napoleon

Napoleon signs the Treaty of Fontainebleau, 11 April 1814, by Francois Bouchot, et al., c. 1840-5

Napoleon at last threw in the towel, agreeing to abdicate on the 6th, and signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau with the Allies between the 11th and the 13th before departing for Elba aboard HMS Undaunted (38).[377] Louis XVIII landed at Calais on 24 April after having been transported to that place from Dover by the Royal Sovereign

fontainebleau

Napoleon bids farewell to the Old Guard at Fontainebleau, 20 April 1814, by Antoine-Alphonse Montfort and Carle Vernet, c. 1834-42

Josephine

Empress Josephine, contemporaneous portrait by Marie-Eleonore Godefroid and Francois Gerrard

Josephine Bonaparte died suddenly of diphtheria 29 May 1814 in company of Alexander I at Malmaison.[378] The Duchess of Parma, with Napoleon’s son, fled Paris on the 29th, before the Allies arrived,[379] and now returned to Schonbrunn palace in Vienna.

Elba

Elba

Arrival at Elba, May 1814; & Napoleon on Elba

With Napoleon confined to Elba, and the Treaty of Ghent having concluded the war with the United States, it seemed at the beginning of 1815 that a new era of peace was at last dawning after 23 years of European war.

Hofburg2

Wien_-_Neue_Hofburg

The Hofburg Palace, Winter Residence,

1920px-Palacio_de_Schönbrunn,_Viena,_Austria,_2020-02-02,_DD_15 (1)

Schonbrunn palace, Vienna, Summer Residence

kaiserappartements-neu-19to1-2

fe76d3c6583b4ccbfb8a9ccbecfb5c46

Inside the Hofburg palace complex today

Pellew’s Blockade, 1813-1814

pellew

Edward Pellew by James Northcote, 1804

While the war in North America and Europe played out, Royal Navy blockade and trade protection operations continued apace during the year leading up to Napoleon’s capitulation. Edward Pellew, now promoted Vice Admiral and given charge of the Mediterranean in 1811, had orders to watch Toulon, where Vice Admiral Maurice Emeriau consolidated his warships.[380] Although Vice Admiral Emeriau sortied on several occasions, he never engaged Pellew and presumably was under order to create distractions only.

Emeriau

Vice Admiral Maurice-Julien Emeriau, commander of the Toulon squadron in 1813

By autumn 1813 the Toulon fleet had been built up to 21 sail and ten 40 gun frigates.[381] Pellew, still blockading Toulon, briefly engaged elements of this fleet on 5 November when Vice Admiral Emeriau sortied with between 12 or 14 sail of the line plus six frigates and a schooner. Pellew’s inshore squadron of four 74s led by Captain Henry Heathcote in Scipion attempted to block their return to port. The French vanguard was commanded by Rear Admiral Cosmao-Kerjulien with five sail of the line, including his flagship the Wagram (130), plus four frigates. Pellew soon arrived in the Caledonia (120), bringing three more heavy ships with him (Pompee, 74, Boyne, 98, and San Josef, 112).

Patrick-OBrien-Big-Sea-12x16

Frigates at sea by Patrick O’Brien

Toulon

Emeriau’s sortie on 5 May (November) 1813, by Auguste-Etienne-Francois Mayer

A brief exchange of gunfire took place before 1 pm, but the French quickly made their way back to port with minimal casualties (not more than 17 French wounded; 1 killed and 14 wounded for the British).[382] Pellew returned to Minorca and Vice Admiral Emeriau made no further efforts to sortie that year, although did so again briefly in February 1814 to allow another 74 from Genoa to slip into Toulon.[383]

Pellew

5 November 1813 while blockading Toulon, Vice Admiral Pellew’s engagement by Thomas Luny, made in 1830

The Hundred Days: War of the Seventh Coalition

Vienna

The Congress of Vienna in 1815, interrupted by the Hundred Days campaign, by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, c. 1819

In 1815, with France recovering after the Treaty of Paris, Napoleon now saw his chance to regain his throne and thus sailed from Elba bound for France on 26 February. He landed near Cannes on 1 March with 1,100 men and four guns. Ney, who had been sent by the King to arrest Napoleon, changed sides on 17 March and soon Louis XVIII fled into exile as Napoleon entered Paris on 20 March.[384] On the 25th the Allies formed the Seventh Coalition to once again expel Napoleon from Europe, quickly building up their combined force to between 650,000-700,000 against which the Emperor could marshal only 224,000, including 50,000 veterans who had returned from Allied POW camps (there had been 27,000 French sailors in British prisons).[385] Furthermore, Britain secured first £5 million, and then £7 million, for the allies to finance the 1815 campaign.[386]

Dawe, George, 1781-1829; Field Marshal Prince von Blucher (1742-1819)

Marshal Prince von Blucher, Napoleon’s most tenacious opponent by George Dawe

With Brune, Davout, Moriter, Ney, Soult, Suchet, and Grouchy once again at his call the Emperor marched against the Anglo-Dutch army that was assembling in Belgium under Wellington, hoping to defeat this weakest Allied force before Blucher, Alexander or Schwarzenberg could intervene. Napoleon installed Carnot as Minister of the Interior and left Davout in Paris as Minister of War,[387] then sent Rapp to take command on the Rhine, Suchet the Alps, Brune the Var, while Clausel took the Spanish front.[388]

Wellington

The Duke of Wellington, c. 1820 by Peter Stroehling

Battle_of_Ligny

Battle of Ligny, 16 June 1815

Rothenberg is extremely critical of Napoleon’s choices for army command, noting that leaving Davout in Paris and Suchet on the Rhine took his two best lieutenants out of the game.[389] Undoubtedly Napoleon had his reasons, presumably that these were men he could trust to hold his flank and rear, allowing the Emperor to keep a closer eye on Ney and Grouchy. Later at St. Helena the Emperor uncharitably mused that “if Murat had been there [at Waterloo] when Grouchy was in command, in all probability the Prussians would have been defeated.”[390]

Accoridng to Dodge, Napoleon’s two options were to repeat the 1814 campaign, which had the advantage of not requiring him to invade anyone, or to march against the nearest Allied concentration, which was in Belgium.[391] In the event Napoleon took 125,000 men in five corps plus the Guard and 358 guns, and marched into Belgium where Blucher had 149,000 men and 296 guns, supported by Wellington with 107,000 men, and 197 guns.[392]

Napoleon crossed the frontier on 15 June, intending to divide Wellington and Blucher and then destroy both in detail, beginning with the stronger partner. The French took Charleroi and then Napoleon, with Ney in the lead, marched against Blucher. Ney detached Wellington from Blucher at Quatre-Bras and Napoleon had a hard fight against the Prussian field marshal, who was in command of a force composed mainly of Russians. Napoleon succeeded in repulsing him at Ligny, at cost to Blucher’s Russians of 16,000-20,000 men and 21 or 24 guns, although Napoelon’s losses, at 11,000 casualties, had also not been light.[393]

Waterloo

Map of Waterloo, 18 June 1815

On the 18th Napoleon with 74,000 then developed the attack against Wellington’s 67,000 (24,000 British) at Waterloo, but was unable to break Wellington’s defensive line and lost most of his cavalry in the desperate struggle before Blucher arrived and turned Napoleon’s flank. In the final effort after 6 pm Napoleon threw in his Guard but their assault failed by 7 pm and Napoleon knew that he was finished – having failed to scatter the English and Dutch, how could he dream of defeating the Prussians, Austrians and the Russians?[394]

Dragoons2

The gambit had failed, Napoleon had lost all his artillery, 250 pieces, not to mentioned having suffered 30,000 casualties, the survivors now harried by Prussian cavalry as the army fled across the Sambre. Napoleon ordered the army to reform at Laon while he hurried to Paris, arriving there on 21 June.[395] Although Davout by now had raised another army of more than 100,000, Napoleon no longer believed victory possible against both his domestic and international opponents, including Lafayette who championed the Republican cause,[396] and on the 22nd as Wellington and Blucher closed in on Paris Bonaparte once again accepted abdication, intending to flee to the United States.[397]

Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler

On 15 July Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon, then at the Basque Road. The Emperor was conveyed to Plymouth, arriving there on the 26th. On 7 August he was transferred to the Northumberland, under the protection of Rear Admiral George Cockburn, who made certain Napoleon was transported to St. Helena where they arrived on 16 October. France was returned to its 1792 borders, minus the overseas possessions of Tobago, St. Lucia, Mauritius, Rodriquez and the Seychelles, and was indemnified to the tune of £28 million.[398]

There were few naval actions during this time, although some did in fact take place: notably, Rear Admiral Philip Durham landed Lt. General Sir James Leith on Martinique to secure it for Louis XVIII, a similar operation taking place in August when another landing was carried out to secure Guadeloupe, then under the control of the Comte de Linois, who had made the unfortunate decision of declaring in favour of Napoleon and on 10 August had no choice but surrender.[399]

Grand Alliance

Meeting of the Monarchs who Defeated Napoleon at the 1818 Congress of Aachen, copy of original by William Heath

Europe_1815_map_en

The new international order: Europe as arranged at the Congress of Vienna

St. Helena

Saint Helena, c. 1785, by Adam Callander

Napoleon Silhouette

Silhouette of Napoleon

Deskchair

1816

Epilogue: Nelson’s Touch, Pellew at Algiers

Pellew

Viscount Pellew, Lord Exmouth in September 1817, drawn by Samuel Drummond and Henry Meyer

The final naval battle of the Napoleonic era took place the year after Waterloo and against a very different kind of enemy. In 1816 Sir Edward Pellew, now Baron Exmouth at 59 years old, was still the C-in-C Mediterranean. Pellew’s mission, since the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, had been primarily the task of suppressing piracy originating from the Dey of Algiers, who had captured a number of Christian slaves including British, Italian and Spanish subjects – a lucrative source of ransom for the North African satrap of the Ottoman Empire.[400] Abolition of the slave trade had been enforced by the Royal Navy since 1807 and was a subject of international discussion at Vienna, championed by Castlereagh. Indeed the treaty of Paris, 30 May 1814, added France to the list of signatories agreeing to the abolition of the slave trade.

Algiers PellewAlgiers Dutch

Pellew’s fleet for the Algerian operation & Dutch contribution

Pellew had already visited Algiers in 1815 to negotiate the liberation of the European slaves, but in 1816 sought clarification from Lord Liverpool regarding his mission. Liverpool was eager to set Pellew loose on the Algerians and on July 28th Pellew sailed from Plymouth with his squadron of five of the line, three frigates and ten brigs and bomb vessels. He was joined by Dutch Vice Admiral Baron Frederik van de Cappellen at Gibraltar with another five frigates and a sloop.[401]

Algerian Forces

Mole and fortifications at the harbour of Algiers

Algiers02

Bombardment of Algiers

Bombardment of Algiers by William Craig (below) & a French illustration of the same, by de Bourville

Arriving off Algiers on 27 August Pellew confronted the defensive works that included more than 1,000 guns: 318 cannon and eight mortars not to mention two 68-pdr guns actually covering the harbour. Therein were nine frigates and corvettes, plus abut 50 gunboats. Pellew immediately sent ashore a party to negotiate the Dey’s surrender, giving only two hours’ grace. When this offer was rejected Pellew closed with the Queen Charlotte, followed by Implacable and Superb. Slightly after 2:30 pm the Algerian defences opened fire and a general cannoned commenced.

Algiers Harbor

Harbour of Algiers defences, showing Pellew’s approach

Algiers

The Bombardment of Algiers, 27 August 1816

Algiers Casaulties

Royal Navy casualties at Algiers

As evening fell Pellew sent in boat crews to torch the Algerian fleet, supported by bomb and rocket attack. After nine hours, and with Algiers being consumed by the conflagration, Pellew moved back out to sea where he anchored at 2 am on the 28th. The operation thus far had cost the expedition 141 dead and 742 wounded.[402]

Pellew03

Painting of Viscount Pellew c. 1817, by William Owen

The next day Pellew’s flag captain, James Brisbane, met with the Dey of Algiers, who this time promptly surrendered and released his 1,200 Christian slaves. Pellew sailed for Britain where he arrived on 3 September 1816 and was promptly made Viscount.

Pellew Algiers coin

Medal commemorating the Algiers operation, c. 1816-20

Conclusion: Pax Britannica

Between 1793 and 1815 the Royal Navy captured 113 ships of the line and 205 frigates, of these they commissioned 83 ships of the line and 162 frigates back into the Royal Navy.[403] Moreover, by the end of the Napoleonic Wars Britain was paying to support 425,000 coalition troops, in addition to fielding an army of 150,000 of its own citizens, having captured every French overseas territory and held onto Canada, the latter despite the best efforts of the Americans.[404] French efforts to interdict Britain’s trade, although lucrative, did not significantly impact Britain’s ability to conduct the war: since the passing of the Convoy Act of 1803 and the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, only 0.6% of merchants sailing in convoy were lost, while the higher but by no means threatening figure of 6.8% represented British merchants sailing outside of convoy.[405]

frigate02

A Frigate Running Before the Wind, by Edward Hoyer

In the years after Trafalgar the Royal Navy demonstrated how a seapower, utilizing amphibious operations in a global maritime war, could not only greatly constrain multiple continental adversaries, but could defeat them by gradual pressure, with the assistance of coalitions. As the forgoing has demonstrated, once the totality of the global effort is laid out, it should be obvious, as Charles Fedorak has put it, that, “to win the war and obtain an acceptable peace, the British had to attack the French on the Continent and help the allies drive them back across their prewar boundaries. Although unreliable, amphibious operations were the only possible means of achieving these ends.”[406]

Grampus

The 50 gun Grampus as a Seaman’s Hospital Society ship in 1821, moored between Greenwich and Deptford

Beyond the many strictly military success and setbacks, by 1816 the Royal Navy had in fact laid the foundation for a new international maritime order led by the United Kingdom, that great enabler of socio-economic modernization over the course of the ensuing long 19th century. It is thus very true that the modern age lies, as historians from Andrew Gordon to Robert Massie have framed it, in the lee of Trafalgar. The officers and seamen of the Royal Navy ensured that the legacy of Nelson’s Touch was not forgotten, and paved the way for the Pax Britannica to come.

Sheldrake

The Post Office packet brig Sheldrake in 1834, painting by Nicolas Matthew Condy,

Models

Models at the Royal Naval Museum, Somerset House on the Strand, early 19th C., by Thomas Shephard, Henry Melville, and J. Mead

PU1392

The Admiralty Boardroom, mid-19th century, by Thomas Rowlandson & Henry Melville

Admiralty

The old Admiralty building built 1786-8, rendered in the 1830s

SomersetHouse

Somerset1847

Somerset House, mid 19th century, by T. Allom, Thomas Prior, J. & W. Robins & in 1847 by Jules Arnout

Whitehall1848

The Treasury Office at Whitehall, looking towards Nelson’s column, by Thomas Prior, 1848

Nelson

Horatio Nelson, by William Beechey, c. 1800

Victory

holland-no3

HMS Victory in 1900, at Portsmouth, & Holland boat No. 3 in front of Victory, c. 1903

Trafalgar2

Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland and Trafalgar-class submarine in 2001

Appendix I: Royal Navy Ship Losses, 1805-1815

AllRNshiplosses

Apenddix II: Maps of Central London

Sommerset HouseSomerset2

londonroger

Maps of London & Somerset House from Roger Knight’s Britain Against Napoleon, and N. A. M. Rodger’s Command of the Ocean

Appendix III: Size of European fleets, 1680-1815

list04tonnageadded

Notes

[1] Herbert Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1946)., p. 173-4, Elie Halevy, England in 1815, trans. E. I. Watkin and D. A. Barker, vol. 1, 6 vols. (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1964)., p. 52

[2] Halevy, England in 1815., p. 46

[3] David Syrett, “The Role of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars after Trafalgar, 1805-1814,” Naval War College Review 32, no. 5 (September 1979): 71–84.

[4] Syrett., p. 71, & Roger Knight, Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793 – 1815 (St Ives plc: Penguin Books, 2014)., p. 93-4, Andrew Lambert, Admirals (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2009)., p. 198-200

[5] N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)., p. 513

[6] John D. Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016)., p. 438, Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 542-3

[7] Halevy, England in 1815., p. 46

[8] Charles Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803-1815 (New York: Viking Penguin, 2007)., p. 214-5

[9] John B. Hattendorf et al., British Naval Documents, 1204-1960, Navy Records Society 131 (London: Scolar Press, 1993)., p. 317

[10] James Davey, In Nelson’s Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars (Greenwich: Royal Museums Greenwich, 2015)., p. 114

[11] Davey., p. 114

[12] Knight, Britain Against Napoleon., p. 88, and Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 175

[13] Julian Corbett, Principles of Maritime Strategy (Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2004)., p. 64-5

[14] E. M. Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, I. 1805-6,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 244–64., p. 254-5

[15] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 225; Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, I.”, p. 254-5

[16] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 222-3

[17] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, I.”, p. 257

[18] Lloyd., p. 258-9

[19] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 226; Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, I.”, p. 260-1

[20] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 227

[21] Esdaile., p. 227

[22] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, I.”, p. 262

[23] E. M. Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II. 1806-7,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 265–93., p. 266, Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 240

[24] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 241, Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 269

[25] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 270-2

[26] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 256

[27] Esdaile., p. 232-3, Hans Kohn, The Habsburg Empire, 1804-1918 (Princeton, New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1961)., p. 14, Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 269

[28] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 267

[29] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 234

[30] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 274-5

[31] Lloyd., p. 275

[32] Gunther E. Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars (London: Smithsonian Books, 2006)., p. 96-9

[33] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 281-2

[34] Lloyd., p. 283

[35] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 100, Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 552

[36] Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (New York: Humanity Books, 1976)., p. 145

[37] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 283

[38] Lloyd., p. 284

[39] T. A. Dodge, Napoleon: A History of the Art of War, Vol. II, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 4 vols. (Pickle Partners Publishing, 2014)., chapter 36, loc. 6290

[40] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 285

[41] Dodge, Napoleon, Vol. II., chapter 36, loc. 6326

[42] Dodge., chapter 36, loc. 6420-36

[43] Dodge., chapter 36, loc. 6459

[44] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 283; Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 286

[45] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 102-3

[46] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 287

[47] Lloyd., p. 289

[48] Dodge, Napoleon, Vol. II., chapter 37, loc. 6832

[49] Dodge., chapter 37, loc. 6970

[50] Dodge., chapter 37, loc. 7001

[51] Dodge., chapter 37, loc. 7050

[52] Dodge., chapter 37, loc. 7097

[53] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 290-1

[54] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 106

[55] Henry Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22, Kindle ebook (Friedland Books, 2017)., chapter 2, sec. 3, loc. 416

[56] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 113-4, William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History From the Earliest Times to the Present, vol. V, 7 vols. (London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1900)., p. 184

[57] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 185

[58] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 271-2

[59] Malcolm Lester, “Warren, Sir John Borlase, Baronet (1753-1822),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[60] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 196

[61] Martin Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars (London: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2014)., Chapter 8, loc. 3030

[62] Robson., Chapter 8, loc. 3030, J. K. Laughton and Michael Duffy, “Hood, Sir Samuel, First Baronet (1762-1814),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007)., Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 302

[63] James Stanier Clarke and John McArthur, eds., The Naval Chronicle, July-December 1809, vol. 22, 40 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)., p. 12

[64] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 265

[65] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 244-5

[66] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 187

[67] Clowes., p. 187-8

[68] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 119

[69] https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/12063.html, Davey., p. 120, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 191-2

[70] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 121

[71] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 193

[72] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 546

[73] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 195

[74] Clowes., p. 197

[75] Clowes., p. 239

[76] Clowes., p. 236

[77] Clowes., p. 237

[78] Clowes., p. 238

[79] Christopher D. Hall, “Pellew, Edward, First Viscount Exmouth (1757-1833),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009)., Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 547

[80] P. K. Crimmin, “Troubridge, Sir Thomas, First Baronet (c. 1758-1807),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009).

[81] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 547, Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 271-2

[82] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 547-8

[83] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 239

[84] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 373, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 239

[85] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 240

[86] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 122

[87] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 202

[88] Hugh Popham, “Popham, Sir Home Riggs (1762-1820),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008). Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 202-3

[89] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 204

[90] Clowes., p. 205, Popham, “Popham, Sir Home Riggs (1762-1820).”

[91] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 205-6

[92] Popham, “Popham, Sir Home Riggs (1762-1820).”, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 206-7

[93] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 548-9, Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., Chapter 8, loc. 3012, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 234-6

[94] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 222

[95] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 198

[96] Desmond Gregory, “Stuart, Sir John (1761-1815),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008). Rodger says 3,000 men, Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 550

[97] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 199-200

[98] Gregory, “Stuart, Sir John (1761-1815).”

[99] Lloyd, “The Third Coalition, II.”, p. 270

[100] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 209. Interestingly, Canning fought a duel against Castlereagh in 1809.

[101] Clowes., p. 209

[102] Popham, “Popham, Sir Home Riggs (1762-1820).”

[103] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 211

[104] Clowes., p. 213

[105] Clowes., p. 213-4

[106] Clowes., p. 214-5

[107] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 549, Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., Chapter 6, loc. 2391

[108] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 218-9

[109] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 231

[110] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 219

[111] Clowes., p. 221

[112] Clowes., p. 222

[113] Clowes., p. 224

[114] Clowes., p. 225

[115] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 550-1, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 226, A. B. Sainsbury, “Duckworth, Sir John Thomas, First Baronet (1748-1817),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009).

[116] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 228

[117] Clowes., p. 230

[118] Clowes., p. 231

[119] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 554

[120] Christopher D. Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803-15, Special Edition (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999)., p. 184-5; Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 8, loc. 3038

[121] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 232

[122] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 235-6

[123] Mulgrave to Saumarez, 20 February 1808, #3 in A. N. Ryan, ed., The Saumarez Papers: Selections from the Baltic Correspondence of Vice-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, 1808-1812, Navy Records Society 110 (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1968)., p. 7

[124] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 553

[125] Admiralty to Saumarez, 21 March 1808, #6 in Ryan, The Saumarez Papers., p. 8-9

[126] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 236

[127] Ryan, The Saumarez Papers., p. 9 fn, Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 436

[128] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 553, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 248

[129] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 235, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 248-50

[130] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 250

[131] Nicholas V. Riasanovsky and Mark D. Steinberg, A History of Russia, 7th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)., p. 288

[132] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 270

[133] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 557-8

[134] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 416

[135] Esdaile., p. 326, 330

[136] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 232

[137] Clowes., p. 232-3, Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 330

[138] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 234

[139] J. K. Laughton and Michael Duffy, “Yeo, Sir James Lucas (1782-1818),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[140] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 233-4

[141] Clowes., p. 247

[142] Charles W. C. Oman, A History of the Peninsular War, vol. I, 7 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902)., p. 222

[143] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 251

[144] Oman, History of the Peninsular War, I., p. 227; Norman Gash, “Wellesley [Formerly Wesley], Arthur, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2011).

[145] Gash, “Wellesley [Formerly Wesley], Arthur, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852).”

[146] Gash., Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 553, Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars.,  p. 140

[147] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 234; Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 234

[148] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 115, 118

[149] John Sweetman, “Moore, Sir John (1761-1809),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2011).

[150] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 391

[151] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 118-9

[152] T. A. Dodge, Napoleon: A History of the Art of War, Vol. III, Kindle ebook, vol. 3, 4 vols. (Pickle Partners Publishing, 2014)., chapter 42, loc., 2684-2713

[153] Dodge., chapter 42, loc., 2791

[154] Dodge., chapter 44, loc., 3609

[155] Dodge., chapter 44, loc., 3644-3667

[156] Dodge., chapter 45, loc., 3829

[157] Dodge., chapter 45, loc., 4197

[158] Dodge., chapter 45, loc., 4215

[159] Dodge., chapter 45, loc., 4153

[160] Dodge., chapter 46, loc., 4265

[161] Dodge., chapter 46, loc., 4320

[162] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 122-32; Dodge, Napoleon, Vol. III., chapter 46, loc., 4415

[163] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 395

[164] William James, The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV, ed. Frederick Chamier, New ed., vol. IV, 6 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)., p. 389-90

[165] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 559

[166] https://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/The-Continental-System-The-continental-system-undermined.html

[167] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 241

[168] Clowes., p. 241

[169] J. K. Laughton and Michael Duffy, “Strachan, Sir Richard John, Fourth Baronet (1760-1828),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[170] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 241

[171] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 554

[172] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 242

[173] Clowes., p. 243

[174] Laughton and Duffy, “Strachan, Sir Richard John, Fourth Baronet (1760-1828).”

[175] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 244-5

[176] Clowes., p. 252

[177] Clowes., p. 252

[178] Clowes., p. 253

[179] Clowes., p. 253-4

[180] Clowes., p. 254

[181] Clowes., p. 255

[182] Andrew Lambert, “Cochrane, Thomas, Tenth Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, January 2012)., Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 256

[183] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 257

[184] Clowes., p. 258

[185] Clowes., p. 259-60

[186] Clowes., p. 261

[187] Clowes., p. 261-2

[188] Clowes., p. 263-4

[189] Clowes., p. 265

[190] Clowes., p. 265

[191] Clowes., p. 266

[192] Clowes., p. 267

[193] Clowes., p. 268

[194] Richard C. Blake, “Gambier, James, Baron Gambier (1756-1833),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008)., see also, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 257 fn

[195] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 269

[196] Blake, “Gambier, James, Baron Gambier (1756-1833).”

[197] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 555-6

[198] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 270, Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 6, loc. 2556

[199] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 271

[200] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 6, loc. 2568

[201] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 240-1

[202] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 272

[203] Julian Corbett, Syllabus of Lecture on “Walcheren Expedition 1809”, 4 November 1913, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives (LHCMA), Box 2. & Laughton and Duffy, “Strachan, Sir Richard John, Fourth Baronet (1760-1828).” See also, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 271

[204] J. K. Laughton and Christopher Doorne, “Gardner, Alan, First Baron Gardner (1742-1808/9),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008). James Stanier Clarke and John McArthur, eds., The Naval Chronicle, January-June 1809, vol. 21, 40 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)., p. 365

[205] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 272

[206] Clowes., p. 272

[207] Clowes., p. 274

[208] Clowes., p. 275

[209] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 6, loc. 2584

[210] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 276-7

[211] Clowes., p. 277

[212] Clowes., p. 277, Christopher Doorne, “Pitt, John, Second Earl of Chatham (1756-1835),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008)., Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 6, loc. 2584

[213] Laughton and Duffy, “Strachan, Sir Richard John, Fourth Baronet (1760-1828).” Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad, & Dangerous People? England 1783-1846, The New Oxford History of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006)., p. 218

[214] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 278

[215] Clowes., p. 278

[216] Clowes., p. 279

[217] Clowes., p. 280

[218] Clowes., p. 288

[219] Clowes., p. 283

[220] Clowes., p. 283-4

[221] Clowes., p. 284

[222] Clowes., p. 284; Hall, British Strategy., p. 185

[223] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 290

[224] Clowes., p. 290

[225] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 556; Hall, British Strategy., p. 185

[226] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 290

[227] Clowes., p. 290

[228] Clowes., p. 292

[229] Clowes., p. 293

[230] Clowes., p. 282

[231] Hall, British Strategy., p. 186

[232] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 282

[233] Clowes., p. 282-3

[234] Clowes., p. 293

[235] Clowes., p. 294

[236] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 242-3

[237] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 8, loc. 3102

[238] Robson., chapter 8, loc. 3110

[239] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 557

[240] Rodger., p. 557

[241] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 294-5

[242] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 8, loc. 3137

[243] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 143; Gash, “Wellesley [Formerly Wesley], Arthur, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852).”

[244] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 145; Charles W. C. Oman, “The Peninsular War, 1808-14,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 428–82., p. 451

[245] Oman, “The Peninsular War.”, p. 452

[246] Gash, “Wellesley [Formerly Wesley], Arthur, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852).”

[247] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 556; Oman, “The Peninsular War.”, p. 452

[248] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 146

[249] Hall, British Strategy., p. 190

[250] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 561

[251] Rodger., p. 564

[252] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 148-50

[253] Rothenberg., p. 152

[254] Rothenberg., p. 152-3

[255] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 562

[256] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 7, loc. 2892

[257] Robson., chapter 7, loc. 2902

[258] Robson., chapter 7, loc. 2912

[259] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 307

[260] Clowes., p. 306

[261] Clowes., p. 297-8

[262] Clowes., p. 298

[263] Clowes., p. 299

[264] Clowes., p. 300

[265] Clowes., p. 300

[266] Clowes., p. 301

[267] Clowes., p. 302

[268] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 161

[269] Eugen Stchepkin, “Russia Under Alexander I, and the Invasion of 1812,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 483–505., p. 489

[270] Stchepkin., p. 488

[271] Stchepkin., p. 492

[272] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 168; Stchepkin, “The Invasion of 1812.”, p. 493

[273] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 162-3

[274] Stchepkin, “The Invasion of 1812.”, p. 493

[275] Stchepkin., p. 494

[276] Stchepkin., p. 496

[277] Stchepkin., p. 496

[278] Stchepkin., p. 497

[279] Stchepkin., p. 496

[280] Stchepkin., p. 500

[281] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 171

[282] Stchepkin, “The Invasion of 1812.”, p. 502-3

[283] Stchepkin., p. 504

[284] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 172-3

[285] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 563

[286] Stchepkin, “The Invasion of 1812.”, p. 505

[287] Halevy, England in 1815., p. 46

[288] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 562

[289] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 303

[290] Clowes., p. 304

[291] Andrew Lambert, The Challenge, Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812 (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2012)., p. 65

[292] John Sweetman, “Brock, Sir Isaac (1769-1812),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).; Gene Allen Smith, “The Naval War of 1812 and the Confirmation of Independence, 1807-1815,” in America, Sea Power, and the World, ed. James C. Bradford (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016), 42–57., p. 46

[293] Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 46

[294] Lambert, The Challenge., p. 62-3

[295] Lambert., p. 67, Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 75

[296] Lambert, The Challenge., p. 71-2

[297] Lambert., p. 73

[298] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 216

[299] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 567

[300] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 275

[301] Grainger., p. 245; Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 48

[302] Lambert, The Challenge., p. 114-5

[303] Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 49

[304] Smith., p. 50

[305] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 252

[306] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 568-9

[307] Pierre Berton, Flames Across the Border, 1813-1814, vol. II, 2 vols. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1981)., p. 28-30 ; Benjamin Armstrong, Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), chapter 4

[308] A. T. Mahan, Sea Power in Its Relations to the War of 1812, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 2 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1905)., p. 23

[309] Laughton and Duffy, “Yeo, Sir James Lucas (1782-1818).”

[310] Lambert, The Challenge., p. 130

[311] Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 50-1

[312] Mahan, Sea Power in Its Relations to the War of 1812, II., p. 55; Berton, Flames Across the Border, II., p. 157 et seq

[313] Laughton and Duffy, “Yeo, Sir James Lucas (1782-1818).”

[314] Theodore Roosevelt, The Naval War of 1812, Kindle ebook (Pantianos Classics, 1882)., p. 231

[315] Roosevelt., p. 232

[316] Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 54

[317] Smith., p. 55

[318] C. A. Harris and F. Murray Greenwood, “Prevost, Sir George, First Baronet (1767-1816),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).

[319] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 572

[320] H. M. Chichester and Roger T. Stearn, “Pakenham, Sir Edward Michael (1778-1815),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2006).; Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 51-2

[321] Barry Gough, Britannia’s Navy on the West Coast of North America, 1812-1914 (Toronto: Heritage House Publishing Company, Ltd., 2016)., p. 44-5; Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 568

[322] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 356

[323] Smith, “The Naval War of 1812.”, p. 55

[324] Smith., p. 56

[325] Richmond, Statesmen and Sea Power., p. 249

[326] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 569

[327] Grainger, Dictionary of British Naval Battles., p. 170

[328] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 174

[329] Rothenberg., p. 176; Julius von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation, 1813-4,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 506–54., p. 508

[330] T. A. Dodge, Napoleon: A History of the Art of War, Vol. IV, Kindle ebook, vol. 4, 4 vols. (Pickle Partners Publishing, 2014)., chapter 57, loc. 192

[331] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 509, 512-13

[332] Hall, British Strategy., p. 200

[333] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 516

[334] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 517

[335] Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 62

[336] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 177; von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 517

[337] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 518

[338] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 518-9

[339] Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 70

[340] Kissinger., p. 72 et seq

[341] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 504 et seq

[342] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 521

[343] Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 64 et seq

[344] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 178

[345] Rothenberg., p. 178

[346] Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 75

[347] Kissinger., p. 75-7

[348] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 508

[349] Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 79

[350] Kissinger., p. 81-2

[351] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 178-9

[352] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 522

[353] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 179

[354] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 524-5

[355] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 181

[356] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 524

[357] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 530

[358] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 528

[359] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 530

[360] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 532-3

[361] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984)., p. 195; Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 514; von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 534

[362] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 514-16; von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 537-41

[363] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 540

[364] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 542

[365] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 184; Clausewitz, On War., p. 443-4

[366] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 184

[367] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 543

[368] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 544-5

[369] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 545

[370] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 545-6

[371] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 185

[372] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 546, Kissinger, A World Restored., p. 112

[373] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 548-9

[374] Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars., p. 530

[375] von Pflugk-Harttung, “The War of Liberation.”, p. 550

[376] von Pflugk-Harttung., p. 552-4

[377] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 191

[378] L. Muhlbach, Empress Josephine: An Historical Sketch of the Days of Napoleon, trans. W. Binet (New York: McClure Co., 1910)., p. 522 et seq ; Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815, kind ebook, vol. 2, 2 vols. (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). Chapter 24, loc. 11722

[379] David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, ebook (Scribner, 1973)., loc. 3471

[380] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 295-6

[381] Clowes., p. 304

[382] Clowes., p. 305

[383] Robson, A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars., chapter 7, loc. 2875, Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 306

[384] Dodge, Napoleon, Vol. IV., chapter 71, loc. 6849-86

[385] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 195; Charles W. C. Oman, “The Hundred Days, 1815,” in The Cambridge Modern History: Napoleon, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathers, vol. IX, 13 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 616–45., p. 618; Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 560

[386] Hall, British Strategy., p. 203

[387] Oman, “The Hundred Days.”, p. 616

[388] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 198

[389] Rothenberg., p. 200

[390] Henri-Gratien Bertrand, Napoleon at St. Helena, trans. Francis Hume (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1952)., p. 32

[391] Dodge, Napoleon, Vol. IV., chapter 71, loc. 6972

[392] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 199; see also, Oman, “The Hundred Days.”, p. 634

[393] Rothenberg, The Napoleonic Wars., p. 206; Oman, “The Hundred Days.”, p. 628

[394] Oman, “The Hundred Days.”, p. 628

[395] Oman., p. 641

[396] Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815., chapter 26, loc. 12778

[397] Oman, “The Hundred Days.”, p. 644

[398] Clowes, The Royal Navy, V., p. 309

[399] Clowes., p. 309

[400] Alexander Howlett, “Nelson’s Touch: Lord Exmouth and the Bombardment of Algiers, 1816,” Airspace Historian (blog), November 2013, https://airspacehistorian.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/nelsons-touch-lord-exmouth-and-the-bombardment-of-algiers-1816/.

[401] Howlett.

[402] Hall, “Pellew, Edward, First Viscount Exmouth (1757-1833).”

[403] Halevy, England in 1815., p. 47-8

[404] Rodger, Command of the Ocean., p. 572

[405] Davey, In Nelson’s Wake., p. 233;

Lt. Edward Bamfylde Eagles sketchbook, c. 1805, Convoy escort and anti-privateering by frigates at sea, island geography, landscapes

[406] Charles John Fedorak, “The Royal Navy and British Amphibious Operations during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars,” Military Affairs 52, no. 3 (July 1988): 141–46., p. 142

Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, 1917 – 1918

 

The day is coming! Unterseeboot before London. Lithograph print.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, 1917 – 1918

Introduction

As Marc Milner recently explained in the context of the Second World War, ‘the first line of defense of trade was always the main battle fleet.’[i] What was true in 1939 was true in 1914. Germany’s High Sea Fleet, able to sortie from its protected anchorages only at significant risk, was reduced to relying on its destroyers, submarines, merchant raiders and naval air service to carry on the naval offensive. Britain’s Grand Fleet, although successful at confining the High Sea Fleet to the North Sea, was in turn unable to protect Britain’s far-flung merchant shipping. The two dreadnought fleets of the great naval antagonists were thus mutually immobilized. Flotilla craft, seaplanes and submarines became the primary instruments in the vast battle over oceanic trade. As British Prime Minister David Lloyd George prosaically described the situation, ‘When the last roving German cruiser had been beached in a mangrove swamp in Africa, in order to escape capture, the German Admiralty put more faith in the little swordfish which had already destroyed more enemy ships in a month than the cruiser had succeeded in sinking during the whole of their glorious but short-lived career. When they realized the power of this invention they set about building submarines on a great scale and constructing much larger types.’[ii]

While the Grand Fleet’s 10th Cruiser Squadron carried out the blockade of Germany, slowly strangling the Central Powers’ access to overseas trade, Germany’s U-boats, seaplanes and destroyers from the High Sea Fleet (HSF) and Flanders Flotillas attempted to circumscribe the blockade and attack Britain’s oceanic supply lines. The U-boats, like the Zeppelins and Gothas in the air, were new technological threats against which Britain’s traditional wooden walls provided no protection. To produce strategic effect with the aerial bomber and submarine, however, it was necessary to violate the laws of civilized warfare as they had been agreed upon by the European powers at the Hague conferences of 1899 and 1907.[iii] For the Zeppelins and Gothas this meant bombing British cities from the air without regard for civilian casualties, and for the U-boats at sea this meant violating the rules for prize capture and indiscriminately sinking enemy and neutral merchant shipping without warning.

The new Admiralty building, from N. A. M. Rodger, The Admiralty (1979)

After a trepidatious start in February 1915, when the ‘War Zone’ was established around Britain, by the spring of 1917 the U-boats were well on their way to wiping out Britain’s merchant fleet. During the months of March, April, May, June, July, and August, British shipping losses were always above 350,000 tons, with losses peaking at 550,000 tons in April, and 498,500 tons in June.[iv] The Admiralty, under the leadership of First Sea Lord Sir John Jellicoe and First Lord Edward Carson, had computed the loss rate and expected that, if no solution were found to the submarine crisis, Britain would soon be reduced by starvation and thus forced to abandon the war long before the yearend of 1918.[v]

London, c. early 20th century, by William Wyllie

The Royal Navy undertook a herculean effort to reduce shipping losses and increase Anti-Submarine (A/S) capabilities. Steadily improved counter-measures, reorganization at the Admiralty and in particular of the Naval Staff, and the gradual implementation of escorted convoys during the summer of 1917, began to alleviate the crisis. Although shipping losses remained high, frequently above 200,000 tons per month until the end of the war, this loss rate was not enough to cripple Britain’s supply lines. Furthermore, U-boats were now forced to attack defended convoys, raising the risk of counter-attack and eventually resulting in the development of wolf pack tactics, as were seen a quarter century later during the Second World War.[vi]

441px-the_eye_at_the_periscope_hm_submarine_art.iwmart923

The Eye at the Periscope aboard a Royal Navy submarine, Francis Dodd collection

Although the implementation of escorted convoys curtailed shipping losses, and forced the otherwise ephemeral U-boats to attack prepared warships, the inability of the Royal Navy to attack and destroy the High Sea Fleet meant that any operation aimed at capturing or destroying the U-boat bases themselves, or attempts to mine the U-boat areas of operations, could potentially prompt a fleet action in the enemy’s thoroughly mined waters: raising the prospect of catastrophic losses for the Royal Navy.

L8376

Convoy in rough seas, 1918, by John Everett

Later in 1918 the famous ZO operation was conducted in an attempt to block the bases at Zeebrugge and Ostend, while a redoubled aerial bombing campaign was additionally carried out. Finally, in October 1918, with the One Hundred Days offensive systematically rolling back the German army and liberating Belgian,[vii] the Royal Navy commissioned HMS Argus, an aircraft carrier system that included the Sopwith T1 ‘cuckoo’ capable or launching aerial torpedoes and thus opening the prospect for a torpedo strike against the High Sea Fleet in harbour – guaranteeing the defeat of Germany’s main fleet. And without the main fleet to protect the bases, the U-boats, minesweepers and flotilla destroyers carrying out the anti-shipping war would quickly find operations extremely difficult under the guns of Grand Fleet warships.

smoking-roomThe Smoking Room, HMS Ambrose, Francis Dodd collection

This blog examines the multidomain nature of the unrestricted U-boat campaign of 1917 – 1918, and demonstrates the unpreparedness of the Royal Navy to combat the submarine threat, but also the extensive reforms undertaken that eventually defeated the U-boats. By November 1918 the Royal Navy had devised a comprehensive and effective A/S and trade defence system, to which Germany’s raiders could not respond with any hope of success.

Various British warships sunk by U-boats and mines, 1914 – 1915, three armoured cruisers, three pre-dreadnought battleships, two light cruisers and HMS Audacious a 28,000 ton super dreadnought, completed in 1913, which struck a mine.

For both the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine), the First World War began with a flurry of surface and submarine activity. After the demise of Admiral von Spee at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, Admiral Souchen’s arrival in Istanbul, and the Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank engagements of August 1914 and January 1915, the surface threat, beyond a few isolated light cruisers and merchant raiders, had been broadly curtailed.[viii]

Germany’s U-boats, for their part, destroyed a series of high-profile targets early in the war, from the seaplane carrier HMS Hermes, to the scout cruiser HMS Pathfinder, and the three armoured cruisers: HMS Crecy, Hogue and Aboukir. The new dreadnought HMS Audacious was lost to a mine on 27 October 1914, and the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Formidable was torpedoed by U24 on New Years Day 1915. To add insult to injury, HMS Majestic and Triumph were both torpedoed at the Dardanelles by U21 during the May crisis of 1915.

The submarine and mine threat had a significant impact on Britain’s strategic position. The Grand Fleet required not only a protected and submarine-proof anchorage from which to operate, but also a large force of destroyers to escort it while at sea. The submarine’s emergent role as a commerce destroyer caught the Allies off guard. The decision in January 1915 by the Kaiser to authorize the designation of a ‘War Zone’ around Britain, in which British merchant shipping would be destroyed as part of a counter-blockade strategy, seemed a barbaric example of German ‘frightfulness’.

The strategic situation in the North Sea, 1917 – 1918, Map 9 from Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (1998), p. 248

Although shipping losses increased, Germany’s U-boats were not yet plentiful enough to seriously impact the war, and the embarrassing sinking of the liners Lusitania in May and Arabic in August 1915, both with loss of life for American and other neutral citizens, encouraged the Kaiser to restrain the anti-shipping war. The new doctrine of surface battle, promulgated by Admiral Reinhardt Scheer, necessitated the withdrawal of the U-boats during 1916 to combine with the Navy’s Zeppelins for fleet operations. The singular result of the Battle of Jutland on 31 May, followed by the aborted August sortie, convinced Scheer that the British blockade could not be cracked by the High Sea Fleet.[ix] The new German war leadership under Ludendorff and Hindenburg, as such, made the decision late in 1916 to gamble on the U-boats sinking enough British, Allied and neutral tonnage to cripple Britain’s war effort and thus tip the war in Germany’s favour.

Various Francis Dodd drawings from 1918, done from Royal Navy submarines, trawlers, launches and merchant ships. The machine world successor to its wooden counterpart a century before.

On the Western Front, meanwhile, the Allied offensive in France was to be renewed under Generalissimo Joffre’s replacement, General Neville. This was to be an offensive the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) would support at Arras, and included the plan to capture Vimy Ridge.[x] The Allies, to supply this offensive, required huge quantities of material. The cross-Channel coal trade in particular was crucial for fuelling the French war effort: 800 coal transports crossed the English Channel in November 1916 alone.[xi] Other seaborne trade, such as food, shells, and especially fodder for the BEF’s horses, likewise required transshipment across the Channel by merchant ships. Critical supplies of metal and ore were delivered across the North Sea from Scandinavia, goods and commodities were imported across the Atlantic from America and out of the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Straits. This cornucopia of merchant shipping was exposed, defenceless, and ready-made prey for the unleashed U-boats.

Merchant shipping tonnage sinking by submarines and other means June 1916 to October 1918, from Duncan Redford and Philip Gove, The Royal Navy, A History Since 1900 (2014)

U-boat Offensive, January – March 1917

From the perspective of the German high command the clear weakness in the Western Allied armies was their exposed seaborne logistics. High Seas Fleet C-in-C Admiral Reinhard Scheer, in his 4 July 1916 report on the Jutland battle to the Kaiser, stated his belief that the only way to defeat Britain would be through economic means, meaning “setting the U-boats against the British trade routes.”[xii]

scheer

Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet & Admiral Henning von Holtzendorff, Chief of the Admiralty Staff (Admiralstab), photograph by Hanse Hermann, Leipzig, 1918

On 22 December Admiral Holtzendorff accepted this view and advocated, in a fateful paper, for the destruction of all shipping approaching Britain.[xiii] Holtzendorff was convinced that if 600,000 tons of merchant shipping could be sunk each month, and sustained for a period of five months, the British would give in.[xiv] The renewed unrestricted submarine campaign commenced at the Kaiser’s order on 1 February 1917.[xv]

Commodore Andreas Michelsen, author of the book Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918, CO North Sea U-boats, Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote, June 1917 – November 1918. He replaced Fregattenkapitan Hermann Bauer.

Early in 1917 there were 111 U-boats available, 49 with the HSF at Wilhelmshaven, 33 at Zeebrugge and Ostend, with another 24 at Pola in the Mediterranean, two at Constantinople and three in the Baltic.[xvi] The Flanders Flotilla (coastal) U-boats alone had managed to sink enough shipping to reduce the cross-Channel coal trade by 39% during the final quarter of 1916.[xvii] This was enough of a threat to the French armaments industry that the Royal Navy’s Auxiliary Patrol, on 10 January 1917, commenced escorting large convoys of 45 ships across the Channel, 800 ships every month.[xviii]

April 1917: the catastrophic increase in Atlantic shipping losses, combined with a spike in Mediterranean losses, seemed to defy all of the Admiralty’s efforts. The potential for disaster seemed overwhelming. By this point, the French coal trade was being escorted across the English Channel, and the Dover barrage was being rebuilt with more effective mines. Despite this, nearly 100,000 tons of shipping had been lost in the Channel by the end of April. From Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. IV, p. 382-3

With the restrictions on neutral shipping lifted, the U-boats began the slaughter. 35 merchant ships were sunk in the Channel and Western approaches the first week of February 1917 alone.[xix] By the end of February the U-boats had accounted for half a million tons, making more than a million cumulative when another 560,000 tons were sunk in March. The campaign high point was reached in April when 860,000 tons of Allied, British and neutral ships were destroyed.

1914-15

1916

Allied shipping losses in Channel and Western Approaches for 1914-15 and 1916

These figures represented the destruction of 1,118 Allied and neutrals in the first four months of 1917: 181 in January, 259 in February, 325 in March and 423 in April.[xx] Between 1 February and the end of April 1917, 781 British merchant ships had been attacked, another 374 torpedoed and sunk, plus 154 sunk specifically by U-boat cannons.[xxi] The United Kingdom exported 122,600,000 tons of goods in January, a value that fell to  93,200,000 in February.[xxii] Only nine U-boats, including accidents, were destroyed between February and April.[xxiii]

The Imperial War Cabinet, Jellicoe is standing at the back, second from left. First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Carson is third.

In Britain the new parliamentary coalition under former Munitions and then War Minister and now Prime Minister David Lloyd George was faced with an unprecedented crisis. In early December 1916 Admiral Sir John Jellicoe had been promoted out of the Grand Fleet and advanced to First Sea Lord (1SL), with the explicit objective of curtailing the submarine threat.[xxiv] There were many ideas about what to do, and it was not initially clear what the correct response was, and opinion in the Royal Navy was split. Captain Herbert Richmond believed convoy escort to be the obvious solution,[xxv] a subject he had studied in his historical work with Julian Corbett on 18th century naval warfare (published after the war as The Navy In The War of 1739-48).[xxvi] Both historians noted the importance of trade interdiction and convoy protection efforts in the Caribbean, and Corbett added the Korean peninsula experience in his staff history of the Russo-Japanese War.[xxvii]

Old Waterloo Bridge from South Bank by William Wyllie

Traditionally, Britain had indeed managed the threat from corsairs and privateers by convoying its merchant shipping. On 29 December Jellicoe, however, expressed his skepticism that convoy was the appropriate solution to the U-boat problem. The First Sea Lord’s position, in general, was that the historical analogy of convoy protection was no longer valid, given the vast increase in oceanic shipping, the supposed delays in loading, offloading, and assembling the convoys, coupled with limitations on available escorts.[xxviii] The reality was that the First Sea Lord perceived convoys as sitting targets, and was unable to transcend the tactical paradigm whereby the escorted convoy not only “reduced the number of targets” and thus increased the number of successful sailings, but also forced the U-boats to carry out attacks from positions where they would be exposed to destroyer counterattack.[xxix]

Furthermore, the figures the Admiralty estimated would be required for Atlantic merchant convoy escort were excessively high: 81 escorts for the homeward-bound Atlantic trade, and another 44 for the outward-bound trade.[xxx] Since the requirements of the western approaches had been minimized to increase destroyer numbers at Dover, Harwich, Rosyth and Scapa Flow, Jellicoe foresaw a situation in which the battle fleet’s escorts would be precariously reduced to endlessly feed requirement for merchant shipping escorts, as did in fact occur during Admiral Sir David Beatty’s second year as Grand Fleet C-in-C.

Jellicoe4

Photograph of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe as C-in-C Grand Fleet

When Jellicoe arrived, and until the April crisis, Britain’s trade defence policy was one of patrolling a series of shipping lanes, combined with aerial patrols over the coasts.[xxxi] The Admiralty had adopted an ‘approach route’ system, by which, rather than using its anti-submarine vessels as convoy escorts (convoys being believed to be large, slow moving, targets), the A/S vessels would patrol various approach ‘cones’ of which there were four, hoping to sweep them clean of enemy submarines.

Approach A: Apex at Falmouth, shipping from South Atlantic and Mediterranean, destined for London, English Channel, and East Coast Ports.

Approach B: Apex at Berehaven, shipping from North and South Atlantic, destined for Bristol Channel, London and English Channel and Mersey.

Approach C: Apex at Inishtrahull, shipping from North Atlantic for Clyde, Belfast, Irish Sea and Liverpool.

Approach D: Apex at Kirkwall, shipping from North Atlantic for North-East ports to the Humber.[xxxii]

The Admiralty’s initial Western Approaches ‘zone’ scheme, as established at the beginning of 1917, and the corresponding locations of sunk merchant ships. The unescorted approach lanes were ideal prey for the patient U-boat commander.

1917

Allied shipping losses in the Channel and Western Approaches for 1917

In practice this system proved disastrous, effectively funnelling in and outbound shipping into dangerously crowded and exposed lanes. Although the actual lane utilized was random, the need for a great number of destroyers to patrol the approach area still made U-boat contact unlikely and trade defence precarious. The approach-lane program, as Henry Jones put it, had the effect of ‘concentrating great numbers of ships along the patrol routes off the south coast of Ireland and in the Bristol Channel.’[xxxiii]

The Western approaches were at first starved for resources: only 14 destroyers stationed at Devonport for use ‘escorting troopships and vessels carrying specially valuable cargoes through the submarine danger zone,’[xxxiv] in addition to 12 sloops at Queenstown.[xxxv] Jellicoe transferred an additional ten destroyers from Admiral Beatty to the Senior Naval Officer (SNO) Devonport, at least partly with the intention of increasing the number of escorts available for providing escort to troop or munitions ships.[xxxvi]  Aircraft and airship bases had not yet been constructed to cover these approaches,[xxxvii] and the Dover Barrage, meant to prevent the Flanders U-boat flotillas from crossing the Channel, proved totally ineffective. Worse, there were only enough depth-charges to equip four per destroyer at the beginning of 1917, and as late as July, only 140 charges were being produced each month. By the end of 1917 this number had increased to 800, sufficient to equip destroyers with 30 to 40 charges.[xxxviii]

Although Jellicoe implemented strong reforms meant to improve all areas of the A/S patrols, from increased depth-charge production, to building new RNAS bases on the coast; the crisis continued to worsen. Shipping losses increased in March and by early April 1917 had reached an apex. The officers responsible for the particularly exposed Scandinavian sea route met at Longshope, in the Orkneys, on 3 April and determined in favour of implementing convoys to protect North Sea sailings.

Motor Launch in the Slipway at Lowestoft, Francis Dodd, April 1918

As we have seen, convoys – or protected sailings – had already been implemented to cover the Channel crossing, and they were far from a novel concept. The War Cabinet secretary, Colonel Maurice Hankey, had in fact prepared a paper for David Lloyd George on the subject of ASW on 11 February 1917.[xxxix] This paper outlined the flaws in the current patrol system and unequivocally advocated the adoption of convoy and escort as the correct solution. Hankey’s observations regarding the benefits of convoys were particularly cogent:

The adoption of the convoy system would appear to offer great opportunities for mutual support by the merchant vessels themselves, apart from the defence provided by their escorts. Instead of meeting one small gun on board one ship the enemy might be under from from, say, ten guns, distributed among twenty ships. Each merchant ship might have depth charges, and explosive charges in addition might be towed between pairs of ships, to be exploded electrically. One or two ships with paravanes might save a line of a dozen ships from the mine danger. Special salvage ships… might accompany the convoy to salve those ships were mined of torpedoed without sinking immediately, and in any event save the crews. Perhaps the best commentary on the convoy [escort] system is that it is invariably adopted by our main fleet, and for our transports.[xl]

Two days later, at an early morning 10 Downing Street meeting, Lloyd George, Carson, Jellicoe and the Director of the Anti-Submarine Division (DASD) of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Alexander Duff, spent several hours during breakfast discussing Hankey’s convoy paper. Jellicoe objected on the grounds that the lightly escorted convoys would make vulnerable targets and that merchant captains would not be capable of the complex station keeping required, or indeed zig-zag maneuvering, objections that did not convince Lloyd George, as Hankey described in his diary.[xli]

“The Pool” view of River Thames, by William Wyllie

The following week Jellicoe prepared a War Cabinet paper describing the progress of A/S measures so far taken by the Admiralty.[xlii] Jellicoe’s primary recommendation was merely to reduce the total maritime traffic, notably by abandoning supply for the Salonika front. This was a dismal situation, as Jellicoe put it, ‘the Admiralty can hold out little hope that there will be any reduction in the rate of loss until the number of patrol vessels is largely increased or unless new methods which have been and are in process of being adopted result in the destruction of enemy submarines at a greater rate than that which they are being constructed…’. At this time, Jellicoe illustrated mechanical thinking in his belief that an additional 60 destroyers, 60 sloops, and 240 trawlers would be needed for a patrol scheme of ultimately unspecified final scale, citing the case of the English Channel where auxiliary patrol vessels formed a complete lane through which traffic passed. His third recommendation was the destruction of the submarine bases themselves.[xliii]

1917admiraltyboard2.5-1

The expansion of A/S measures was above all else the priority for Jellicoe as soon as the new Admiralty administration was settled. The new First Sea Lord immediately set about re-organizing the staff and mobilizing naval logistics to supply new bases, improve torpedoes and mines, and create a host of flotilla and auxiliary craft for A/S purposes. DASD Rear Admiral Duff soon recognized the need for aerial patrol over the western approaches. In December 1916 Duff had requested that Director Air Services Rear Admiral Vaughan Lee implement a patrol schemes at Falmouth, the Scillies, Queenstown, Milford Haven, Salcombe, and Berehaven, to cover the exposed approach lanes.[xliv] In February three H12 flying boats were flown out to the Scillies to patrol the Plymouth approach.[xlv]

The U-boats were not alone in their exertion during February. The Kaiserliche Marine’s Zeebrugge force conducted raids against the Dover straits as the U-boats worked up towards maximum effort. The destroyer situation in the Royal Navy at this time was scattered: there were nominally 99 destroyers available with the Grand Fleet, 28 deployed with the Harwich Force, 37 with the Dover Patrol, 11 attached to the Rosyth, Scapa, Cromarty area, 24 at the Humber and Tyne, 8 at the Nore, 32 at Portsmouth, 44 at Devonport and 8 at Queenstown, although this includes ships refitting or being repaired, and not therefore the true operational strength.[xlvi] This great dispersion of force meant it was possible for Germany’s high-speed torpedo boat destroyers to sortie and conduct night raids with good chances of success.

Map showing the simplified Channel Barrage, the main Folkestone – Gris Nez line and the outer Channel explosive mine net at the end of 1917, Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

To test the Channel defences, Admiral Scheer, early on 25 February, ordered the Zeebrugge destroyers to conduct a raid on the Dover coast with three groups, the first comprised of six boats of the First Half-Flotilla (G95, G96, V67, V68 and V47, Lieutenant Commander Albrecht in G95), the second comprised of four boats of the Sixth Flotilla (Lieutenant Commander Tillessen in S49, with V46, V45, G37, V44 and G86), plus a small diversion force of three boats from the Second Half-Flotilla.[xlvii] Albrecht was to target the Downs while Tillessen attacked the Barrage itself. HMS Laverock, a destroyer armed with three 4-inch guns under the command of Lieutenant Henry Binmore, encountered one of the approaching flotillas around 10:30 pm on the 25th.[xlviii]

SMS V43, 1913-class torpedo boat destroyer & Representations of Zeebrugge flotilla destroyers, V67 & G37

After a brief encounter the two sides slipped into the darkness, contact was lost and Tillessen turned back to base. The diversion force found no targets near the Maas, while the First Half-Flotilla carried out a brief shore bombardment of North Foreland and Margate, with no military consequence. Admiral von Schroder, in command of the naval and marine forces in Flanders, considered the operation a success in so far as it was a worthwhile distraction, drawing RN assets away from submarine hunting.[xlix]

paragon

HMS Paragon

A second raid on the Dover defences was organized for the night of March 17-18, during which 16 Flanders destroyers sortied under Tillessen’s command. On this occasion, the Dover destroyer HMS Paragon was torpedoed and sank, with the loss of 75 members of the crew, by boats from Germany’s Sixth Flotilla.[l] HMS Llewellyn was badly damaged by a torpedo attack when it came to assist the sinking Paragon.[li] The Second Half-Flotilla, for its part, sank the anchored merchant ship Greypoint and damaged a drifter near Ramsgate, which they also shelled without effect. Another raid on 24 March, this time against Dunkirk, destroyed a another pair of merchant ships.[lii] While these surface raids kept pressure on the Dover Strait defences, the shipping crisis itself was spiralling out of control.

U-boat Crisis, April – June 1917

On Saturday 24 March 1917, the London Times reported on Mr. J. M. Henderson’s parliamentary speech. On Friday the MP from Aberdeenshire stated that, due to the hardships suffered by the poor during the harsh winter of 1916, it would be necessary that ‘the Government should issue regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act directing the local authorities throughout the country to establish depots for the sale and delivery of coal, sugar, and other necessaries.’[liii] The creeping realization amongst the commons that the supply situation was deteriorating was not lost on the Lloyd George government. Indeed, the War Cabinet had already recognized, notably in a series of meetings during the second half of February, that food stockpiling and public rationing were both imperative and imminent.[liv]

Loading torpedoes aboard a coastal U-boat (UB-type), maintained at the Bruges base, 1917

By 21 March the situation was so serious that Arthur Balfour, then the Foreign Secretary, had been forced to convey to the Netherlands that the UK was likely going to begin requisitioning their shipping.[lv] On 2 April the War Cabinet considered the situation ‘most serious’.[lvi] The desperate nature of the shipping losses, and the inability of the Admiralty to resolve the crisis, can be seen in the War Cabinet’s consideration that smaller merchant ships should be built, thus compelling ‘the enemy to expend as many torpedoes as possible in his submarine campaign.’ It was also considered at the 2 April meeting that compulsory mercantile service may be required due to the potential collapse of crew morale.[lvii] All this chaos was being caused by roughly 50 U-boats, an unsustainably high figure that dropped to 40 in May as a result of the exhausting operational tempo the preceding month.[lviii]

Jellicoe, as First Sea Lord, could imagine only material solutions: strengthening merchant ships with bulkheads, or building enormous 50,000 ton ‘unsinkable’ ships for transporting wheat – further indications of the desperate situation.[lix] Indeed, some of the measures recommended to reduce losses were so desperate that had they been implemented the result would have ultimately had a negative impact on the anti-submarine war, such as the War Cabinet suggestion that the Admiralty reduce construction of airship sheds to save steel (airships proved to be ideal platforms for escorting convoys).[lx]

UB III type costal submarine, 500 tons displacement, crewed by three officers and 31 men, armed with four bow and one stern firing torpedoes, plus a single 8.8 or 10.5 cm gun

 

By 4 April figures provided by Sir Leo Chiozza Money, the Shipping Controller, indicated that by February 1918 merchant shipping tonnage would increase by 850,000 tons from building in Britain, plus 312,000 tons abroad, to which could be added the 720,000 tons of German shipping then seized in American ports. At this time it was believed that this new construction, combined with other efficiencies, would be enough to see the United Kingdom through only until the end of the year.[lxi]

On 1 January 1917 the British Empire possessed 16,788,000 tons (gross) of shipping. By 1 May this figure had fallen to 15,467,000 tons, despite new construction.[lxii] At the height of the crisis in April it was expected that the total would likely fall to around 12,862,000 by the end of the year, in other words, that 3.9 million tons would be erased during 1917. In fact, a staggering 9,964,500 tons were destroyed, globally, during the year, of which 3,729,000 had been British, almost matching the Admiralty estimate in April 1917.

Merchant shipping losses, British and World, to all causes. Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., Appendix III, section O, p. 381-2

The British Army needed to import 428,000 tons a month. The Ministry of Munitions imported another 1,400,000 tons monthly. For comparison, Britain imported one million tons of cotton, 70,000 tons of tobacco and 400,000 tons of fertilizers on a monthly basis. It was believed that a minimum of 553,000 tons of goods were required every month to sustain the civilian population.[lxiii] According to Jellicoe’s calculations, 8,050,000 tons of shipping were required for the Navy and Army, and on 1 January 1917 there were 8,394,000 tons available for vital imports. By 31 December 1917 the latter figure would therefore have been reduced to 4,812,000 tons, or a loss of 2.78 million tons of civilian imports per month.[lxiv]

The degree of the crisis is told by these statistics, implying a monthly loss rate of between 300,000 and 500,000 tons for the remainder of 1917. The final, and potentially decisive, result was that civilian imports would fall from three million tons in January to 1.6 million tons by the end of the year. Certainly strong economy would be necessitated, in addition to rationing that if continued unchecked would result in the extinguishing of non-military trade by the summer of 1918.[lxv]

Top scoring U-boat ‘aces’ based on proven tonnage destroyed, from Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, p. 218

While the debate carried on at the Admiralty and in the War Cabinet, the district commanders and SNOs were beginning, on their own accord, to form proto-regional commands and implement convoys. As we have seen, the Scandinavian mineral trade and the Channel food and coal trade. had both been placed under convoy with good results.

Some relief occurred on 3 April when the United States joined the war, a momentous event that was welcomed by the War Cabinet three days later. Diplomatic efforts were crucial if the American and Allied war efforts were to be united for maximum impact. Balfour therefore traveled to the United States aboard RMS Olympic while Rear Admiral William Sims, USN, crossed over to Britain in exchange.[lxvi] When Sims, who had traveled across the Atlantic in civilian disguise – in fact, aboard a merchant ship that struck a mine during the voyage – arrived in London and met with Jellicoe, the message Jellicoe had to convey, as Prendergast and Gibson put it, was dire: ‘the German submarines were winning the war.’[lxvii] On Monday, 9 April, Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that Admiral Sims would make the utmost efforts to mobilize American support for the anti-submarine campaign.[lxviii]

US Ninth Battleship Division, showing USS New York & USS Texas off Rosyth by William Wyllie.

Close coordination with the Americans brought immediate returns as it would now be possible for American imports to Britain to be carried in American merchant ships, freeing British vessels for other duties.[lxix] Auxiliary ships in the form of the 10th Cruiser Squadron (25 armed merchant cruisers and 18 armed trawlers), that patrolled the Shetlands and Faeroes line intercepting American contraband, was no longer required and its ships were redirected to more fruitful purposes until the squadron itself was abolished on 29 November 1917, shortly prior to the arrival in European waters of the United States Navy’s Battleship Division Nine under Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman.[lxx]

Francis Dodd artwork from 1918 showing RN submarine L2 engaging aircraft with its deck cannon.

As part of Jellicoe’s material strategy, Royal Navy aircraft were expanded alongside A/S flotilla craft. Flying boats stationed at Yarmouth and Felixstowe were equipped to locate and attack submarines, making possible large-scale A/S patrols supported by surface vessels. As the patrol system evolved the U-boats adjusted their tactics.

By March 1917 Jellicoe could inform Beatty that the Staff believed between 11 and 21 U-boats had been destroyed so far that year.[lxxi] Three German torpedo boat flotillas, between 30 and 40 destroyers were deployed to support U-boat operations.[lxxii] German seaplanes were engaged in a significant battle with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) for control of the North Sea, as well as carrying out anti-shipping missions, occasionally with success. April was a particularly busy month for the east coast air stations, the Felixstowe H12 flying boats being assigned to conduct ‘spider web’ patrols off the Kentish coast.

H-12 type Felixstowe flying boats on patrol, from Theodore Douglas Hallam, The Spider Web (2009) & ‘Spider Web’ style octagonal patrol areas for NAS Felixstowe.

In fact, the situation at Dover, since the raids in February and March, had resolved into an intense destroyer and seaplane conflict in its own right. The War Cabinet was informed on 26 March that 30 German destroyers had been massed at Zeebrugge.[lxxiii] Another destroyer raid was shortly organized, taking place on 20 April. The Fifth Half-Flotilla (V71, V73, V81, S53, G85 and G42) under Korvettenkapitan Gautier was to conduct an attack against Dover, while boats from the Sixth and First Half-Flotilla (Commander Albrecht in V47, with G95, V68, G96, G91 and V70) raided Calais.[lxxiv] Although in the event little damage was caused, the raid alerted Dover forces which sortied to intercept the retiring German destroyers. About 12:45 am the 21st, HMS Swift, commanded by Commander Ambrose Peck, with HMS Broke in support, spotted an unknown torpedo boat to the port bow. Swift attacked the boat, torpedoing G85 and disabling it, while Broke, under Commander Edward ‘Teddy’ Evans, rammed G42 and disabled the torpedo boat in hand-to-hand action.[lxxv] Broke was damaged by S53’s 105 mm cannon, but still managed to sink G85 with a torpedo after the German flotilla retreated. 89 sailors were recovered from G42 and G85.[lxxvi]

HMS Broke, from Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

The temporary defeat of the Flanders raiders, the introduction of the Felixstowe flying boats, and above all else, the introduction of the United States, made a powerful tonic for the Admiralty’s ailing morale. Jellicoe, however, still faced a mounting crisis. He turned to the Naval Staff for answers.

Organization of the Naval Staff, 1905 – 1917 (May), from Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (2011)

In April 1917 the Anti-Submarine Division (ASD) of the staff was composed of 15 officers and two civilians, spread across seven offices located in the Admiralty Building, Block III.[lxxvii] The U-boat threat plot was kept in a Chart Room within the Convoy Section of the Naval Staff. The Chart Room was managed by Commander J. W. Carrington.[lxxviii] this room, known as the ‘X’ room, displayed a 6’ by 9’ map of all of the known information on submarines, convoys and their most recent locations or sightings.[lxxix] The ASD thus controlled a centralized hub for collecting from the Intelligence Division and disseminating to the Operations Division, U-boat data on the approaching Atlantic convoys. U-boat signal intercepts detected by the Direction Finding (D/F) stations along the coast alerted the Director of Intelligence to submarine activity. The cryptanalysts in Room 40 could then triangulate the location of a transmitting U-boat to within 50 or 20 miles and send this information, via pneumatic tube, instantly to the Chart Room.[lxxx]

Naval Staff2.5

It was imperative that Jellicoe be in the closest touch with the Staff, and in May 1917 he was promoted to Chief of the Naval Staff, uniting that position with the office of the First Sea Lord.[lxxxi] These reforms resulted in Admiral Duff’s promotion to Assistant Chief of the Staff, with Henry Oliver becoming the Deputy Chief.[lxxxii] By assigning duties to the assistant and deputy the Chief of Staff was, in Winston Churchill’s words, relieved of ‘a mass of work.’[lxxxiii] The Director of Operations, Captain Thomas Jackson and, after June 1917, Captain George W. Hope, were to prepare a weekly appraisals of the naval situation, with specific attention to submarines, for the First Sea Lord and the War Cabinet.[lxxxiv]

Organization of the Naval Staff and Admiralty Board, c. September 1917, from Jellicoe, Crisis of the Naval War (1920), p. 20

Captain William Fisher, playing a part in Jellicoe’s reforms, replaced Admiral Duff as DASD. Fisher took a direct interest in operational aspects, orchestrating Jellicoe’s broader mission to centralize methods and material; he would communicate directly with the district commanders, such as on 21 July when he wrote a letter to Plymouth commander Admiral Bethell, proposing the use of kite balloons as a screen for convoys in his Area of Responsibility (AOR).[lxxxv]

 

The Decision for Convoys

The First Sea Lord, as we have seen, was initially skeptical of the possibilities of convoys.[lxxxvi] Early interest in convoy formation, not only in the English Channel and across the North Sea, but also in the Mediterranean, was ignored.[lxxxvii] Jellicoe’s initial blindness to convoy adoption hinged primarily on the scale of the endeavour. As he pointed out in 1934, the convoy system as had evolved by November 1917 for the Atlantic and English Channel required 170 escort vessels of all kinds (of which, 37 were USN destroyers), plus another 32 escorts covering the northern crossing with Norway, and a another 30 escorts in the Mediterranean for a total of 232 vessels, with another 217 escorts working with the fleet units.[lxxxviii] In practice, assembling, directing and communicating with the convoys proved a strenuous task, atmospheric conditions, enemy jamming, battle damage to communications equipment, all had an impact on a convoy’s, or squadron’s, ability to communicate. An officer was assigned to each arrival/departure terminus to manage assembly and coordinate with the escorts and merchantmen. In any given convoy the convoy itself was under the command of the convoy Commodore, while supporting warships were under the authority of the Senior Officer, Escort.[lxxxix]

 

Jellicoe as First Sea Lord, attending the Inter-Allied Conference in Paris, 27 July 1917, Rear Admiral Alexander Duff, the Director of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval Staff to his right

In early April the Scandinavian trade began to be convoyed, and with success. This was done at the insistence of the Norwegian government, who urged that the Admiralty do more to protect Norwegian merchant ships in the North Sea, of which 27 were sunk during March, and another 27 in April, plus six Danish and two Swedish neutrals.[xc] Of these ships, as Steve Dunn observes, nine were torpedoed by a single U-boat, U30, over the period 10 to 15 April.[xci]  Losses in the Lerwick – Bergan route, between the Shetland Islands and the Norwegian coast, were running at 25% per month since inception.

Although cross-Channel trade was by now routinely convoyed, the scale of crossing the North Sea, and the importance of the trade, including vitals such as ‘nitrates, carbide, timber, iron and steel,’ now necessitated new tactics.[xcii] Vice Admiral Frederick Brock, in command of the Orkneys and Shetlands, and on his own authority, was sharing destroyers for escort work with the C-in-C East Coast of England, and the C-in-C Rosyth: a plan they initiated on 3 March.[xciii]

Greenwich and the Thames, by William Wyllie

Jellicoe could see that this was the best option, given the dismal results from all other efforts.[xciv] Still, the First Sea Lord was wary about depleting the Grand Fleet’s destroyer flotillas, and was skeptical the convoy system would succeed in the long run.[xcv] In April, however, with the success of the Channel coal trade, where ‘controlled sailings’ had been implemented since 10 February with correspondingly dramatic reduction in losses such that, between then and the end of August, only 16 of the 8,871 ships convoyed across the Channel had been sunk.[xcvi] Jellicoe was just beginning to come around to the implementation of Admiral Duff’s comprehensive recommendation for convoying ‘all vessels – British, Allied and Neutral – bound from North and South Atlantic to United Kingdom’.[xcvii]

The pivot, from the perspective of the War Cabinet, occurred on Monday 23 April, when Lloyd George decided upon an upcoming visit to the Admiralty. The PM’s objective was certainly to put pressure on the Admiralty, but also simply to discover the details of whatever trade protection schemes the Navy was working on. Jellicoe had so far not suggested arranging convoys as the solution, rather relying on a multitude of measures, some more effective than others. In this case, DASD Rear Admiral Duff was in agreement with Grand Fleet C-in-C Admiral Sir David Beatty, as well as Admiral Sims, that convoy should be universally adopted. Jellicoe was still skeptical, having been convinced, in the weeks following the 13 February debate with Hankey, by interviews with a number of merchant ship captains who testified that station-keeping and convoy assembling, in particular, of inbound traffic, would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible.[xcviii] Jellicoe also clung to the dearth of destroyers, as well as an apparently deficient convoy trial that Beatty had conducted as counter-arguments. Under pressure from the PM, however, Jellicoe stated that he would reconsider Duff’s convoy proposal.[xcix]

Merchant convoy maneuvering with air support

Duff produced his report three days later, suggesting a program for convoying all Atlantic trade. The DASD observed that, in fact, contrary to Jellicoe’s perspective that convoys were merely larger targets, ‘it would appear that the larger the convoy passing through any given danger zone, provided it is moderately protected, the less the loss to the Merchant Services; that is, for instance, were it feasible to escort the entire volume of trade which normally enters the United Kingdom per diem in one large group, the submarine as now working would be limited to one attack, which, with a Destroyer escort, would result in negligible losses compared with those new being experienced.’[c] Jellicoe approved the scheme the next day, 27 April 1917, that is, three days before the PM arrived at the Admiralty.[ci]

Under Duff’s scheme, the Atlantic trade would be assembled into convoys at four key depots, where they would be joined by escorts and then shuttled into British harbours. Every four days 18 vessels would depart Gibraltar, escorted by two vessels outward and inward bound (requiring six escorts altogether – the other two being spares). Every five days 18 merchants would depart Dakar, protected by three escorts out and in, (nine escorts total). Every three days between 16-20 vessels would leave Louisburg, escorted by four destroyers both ways (12 total), and lastly, every three days 18 ships would depart Newport News, to be escorted by six destroyers (18 total), for a total program of 45 escorts. A further 45 destroyers would provide protection for the final leg of the inbound convoys, with six destroyers meeting each incoming convoy and escorting it to one of the pre-arranged collection points, either St. Mary’s, the Scillies, Plymouth, Milford Haven or Brest.[cii]

130 ton armed lighter X222, one of the armada of light vessels constructed or converted during PM Asquith’s wartime ministries. Originally designed for amphibious landings, these support craft were in converted to A/S patrol and convoy escort duties in 1917

 

Lloyd George and Hankey did indeed visit the Admiralty on 30 April, and had lunch with Carson, Jellicoe and his family, plus Duff, Captain Webb of the Trade Division and several Assistant Directors from the Naval Staff.[ciii] Jellicoe, the pessimist, considered the Prime Minister ‘a hopeless optimist’ who could not be swayed from his opinions regardless of the 1SL’s cold calculations.[civ] As Hankey phrased it, the meeting ‘set the seal on the decision to adopt the convoy system’.[cv] As significant as the decision in favour of convoys had been, another important decision was made at the next War Cabinet meeting: Lloyd George and Jellicoe agreed that Eric Geddes should be appointed as a civilian naval controller to administer all shipbuilding and supply for naval purposes.[cvi] Geddes strong hand ensured the delivering of the mass of material needed for ASW, with vessels available for A/S duty ballooning from 64 destroyers, 11 sloops and 16 P-boats in July 1917 to 102 destroyers, 24 sloops and 44 P-boats by November, a standard that was maintained well into 1918 when in April there were 115 destroyers, 35 sloops and 45 P-boats available for ASW.[cvii]

Various Francis Dodd artwork detailing shipboard convoy and patrol routine

It was still early in May when in Washington meanwhile, Sims and Balfour had convinced the Americans to supply 36 destroyers for RN use, a welcome development that would fill half of Jellicoe’s destroyer requirements.[cviii] Indeed, on the 22nd Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that the general situation was, ‘for the moment, more reassuring.’[cix] During May the loss rate fell significantly: 106,000 tons of shipping had been destroyed in the Mediterranean, with another 213,000 tons – 78 British ships – lost in all other theatres.[cx] 

Furthermore, the RN and RNAS were conducting more frequent engagements with U-boats, suggesting that the A/S measures were having some impact, although as yet there were few concrete results. Of the seven U-boats destroyed during May, only three were attributable to RN efforts: U81, torpedoed by RN submarine E54, UC26, rammed by the destroyer HMS Milne, and UB39 which blew up on Dover Strait mines.[cxi] Significantly, the nature of the U-boat attacks had changed. In March, only 69 ships approaching Britain from the North or South Atlantic had been attacked, with only 32 ships attacked leaving British ports for the same destinations (this was in addition to 62 fishing vessels that were attacked, and another 60 ships in the Channel). By May the figure for import ships attacked had climbed to 100, while the export number had fallen to 20 (only 38 vessels in the Channel attacked, and only 20 fishing vessels).[cxii] Whereas 100,333 tons had been sunk in the Channel during May, only 32,000 tons were sunk in June 1917, a major success.[cxiii]

HMS Fawn, a 380 ton destroyer armed with one 12 pdr and five 6 pdr guns plus two torpedo tubes, on convoy escort duty & a Japanese destroyer escorting the Alexandria – Tarento convoy, 1918

By the end of May 1917, as Henry Newbolt observed, it was the unescorted import trade that was now at the greatest risk of attack: ‘five times as vulnerable as the export trade’.[cxiv] Experimental Atlantic convoys were tested late in May and, by the end of July 1917, 21 Atlantic convoys had run successfully. Of the 354 ships escorted across that ocean, a mere two were sunk by U-boats. Of all convoys run during this period, of 8,894 ships convoyed, only 27 were destroyed by enemy submarines. The statistics demonstrated that convoys were the best method for protecting merchant shipping. Although ships traveling in convoys were relatively safe, there was still a great mass of unescorted traffic that was easy prey for the U-boats. During the May to July period, 910,133 tons of the total 1,868,555 tons sunk was destroyed by High Sea Fleet U-boats operating in the Atlantic.[cxv]

U-boats operating in 1917, and British tonnage sunk per submarine. Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, 1931, p. 195

Shipping losses were heavy and Jellicoe reported that, up to 20 May, 185 ships had been sunk by U-boats (105 British, 36 Allied and 44 neutrals), for 239,816 tons of British shipping lost: a cumulative total of 362,183 tons destroyed.[cxvi] Jellicoe estimated this number would likely climb to 500,000 tons before the end of the month. In the event, 616,316 tons (or 596,629)[cxvii] were indeed sunk by the end of May, 352,596 tons of which were British.[cxviii] There were 126 U-boats in Germany’s possession that May, with 47 the average number at sea on a daily basis that month. A month later the figure was 55, falling to 41 in July. 15 boats were lost during that three-month period, equating to 53 merchants ships (124,750 tons) sunk on average for each U-boat lost, which was down from the rate of 86 ships (194,524 tons) during the previous period, February to April.

In terms of U-boats lost or destroyed versus new commissions, September was the costliest month for the German submarine force. From Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 278

Unfortunately for the Allies, U-boat losses were more than made up for by the 24 new U-boats constructed during May and July.[cxix] In James Goldrick’s phrase ‘the navy admitted reality’ as more U-boats were urgently required, and an order for 95 boats, mainly UB and UC types but including ten U-cruisers, was placed in early June. At the peak of new construction, after another 220 boats were ordered in June 1918, some 300 U-boats of varying types were on order, 74 were completed in the ten months before the armistice, 1.85 per week.[cxx] Besides the battlecruiser SMS Hindenburg, and three further light cruisers, these would be amongst the last warships completed for the Kaiserliche Marine.[cxxi]

 

Convoy Implementation, July to September 1917

The improvements in air support, war material, American destroyers, the rolling adoption of convoys, combined with fatigue amongst the U-boats and loss of some experienced crews, was having an impact on the spiralling shipping loss rate. Import trade, which was now generally convoyed, was well protected so once again the U-boats concentrated their efforts against outbound shipping, which so far had not been incorporated into the convoy system.[cxxii] Jellicoe was now convinced of the need to implement a total convoy system, and outward-bound ships began to be convoyed on 13 August, the needed escorts being removed from the Grand Fleet. The results were excellent: during August, only three of the 200 ships convoyed in outbound convoys were lost, a figure that increased to 789 ships convoyed with only two losses during September. Likewise, 1,306 ships were convoyed inbound across the Atlantic, with only 18 lost that month.[cxxiii]

When the system was fully operational, as Arthur Marder described, there were ‘on the average, sixteen homeward convoys at sea, of which three were in the Home Submarine Danger Zone (Western Approaches, Irish Sea, of English Channel), under destroyer escort. There was an average of seven outward convoys at sea, of which four to five were in the Home Danger Zone. It is worth emphasizing that the convoy system protected neutral as well as British and Allied shipping’.[cxxiv]

The effectiveness of the U-boats had been crippled by this comprehensive convoy system, although the Mediterranean, where convoys had not yet been implemented, remained fertile hunting grounds, albeit with too few submarines operating there to represent a serious impediment to Allied supplies. Regardless, between October and November 1917 a convoy system was arranged for those waters, and by the end of November 381 ships, or 40% of all the Mediterranean traffic, had been successfully convoyed with the loss of only nine vessels.[cxxv]

Depth charge attack, by William Wyllie.

One of the key material improvements was in the quality and quantity of Britain’s undersea weapons, from torpedoes to depth charges and mines. During 1915 and 1916, 6,177 not very effective mines were laid in the Heligoland Bight. In 1917 the Allies reverse-engineered the more effective German mine, and production numbers increased significantly. Jellicoe was an aggressive advocate of mine operations and he championed the introduction of the German ‘horned’ type over the defective British ‘lever’ mines, specifically for the Dover Barrage,[cxxvi] while also advancing the technical and quantitative refinement of aerial bombs and escort depth-charges.[cxxvii] 12,450 mines were produced between October and December 1917,[cxxviii] with 10,389 laid in the Heligoland Bight and Dover Strait. Marder states that 20,000 mines were laid in the Dover Strait and Bight between July and December 1917, of which 15,686 were laid (in 76 fields) in the Bight during 1917.

hornedmines

‘Horned’ mines carried aboard a minelayer.

British mine counter-measures also improved, with 726 vessels counted in the sweeping force, or paravane equipped, so that only ten British vessels, less than 20,000 tons, were sunk by mines during 1918, compared to more than 250,000 tons lost in the first ten months of 1917.[cxxix]

Six U-boats were in fact destroyed by mines between September and the end of the year.[cxxx] At the beginning of 1918 the increased lethality of the Dover, Bight and Zeebrugge minefields meant that U-boats wishing to reach the Atlantic approaches had to exit the North Sea via the Orkney’s passage, or risk running the Channel nets and minefields. A vast effort was decided upon to mine the North Sea exit (250 miles, requiring 100,000 special ‘antenna’ mines),[cxxxi] and plans were examined to block the U-boats’ bases at Zeebrugge, Ostend, and Kiel. Another 7,500 mines would cut-off the Danish strait.[cxxxii]

A scheme to deploy 21,000 mines from Wangeroog to Heligoland to Pellworm, thus attempting to block the base of operations for the High Sea Fleet’s U-boats, was also considered. Actually executing these plans once again raised problems exposed by the schemes of Winston Churchill (Borkum) and Sir John Fisher (Baltic), that had not been resolved in 1914-15. The operation would require a vast armament, success was not guaranteed, and the potential for a catastrophic defeat was real.[cxxxiii]

 

RNAS Million based Coastal airship C23A escorting a convoy early in 1918 (C23A was wrecked on 10 May near Newbury)

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) had not been neglected in this vast expansion of military hardware. Indeed, the coastal patrol and convoy escort roles supplied by the naval aviators were essential and had been significantly expanded, with 324 seaplanes, flying boats, and airplanes on duty, plus around 100 airships of various types.[cxxxiv]

Felixstowe F3, N4230, IWM photograph.

During 1917 the majority of these aircraft were involved in air patrol missions, in June 1917 only 46 airplane and 46 airship convoy escort missions were flown, but the figure rose to 92 and 86 respectively in September before poor weather curtailed flying.[cxxxv] By April 1918 the figure was 176 and 184, jumping to 402 and 269 in May. Airships provided the convoy with a constant deterrent to submarine attack, except during night, while flying boats and airplanes could fly in advance of the convoy on look-out, or counter-attack any located U-boats with bombs, which increased in potency from 230 lb delayed-fuse bombs introduced in May 1917 to the 520 lb bombs in use by 1918.[cxxxvi]

 

RNAS and RAF coverage of the Atlantic approaches by the SNO Plymouth and Queenstown. The RNAS South West Group under Wing Captain E. L. Gerrard implemented sweeping ‘spider-web’ flying-boat patrols off the coast of England and Wales, while Vice Admiral Bayly at Queenstown worked with Captain Hutch Cone, United States Navy, to develop flying-boat bases in Ireland.

Although convoy escort and improved A/S methods and material reduced the potential for a starvation defeat, shortages were still a serious problem. Oil imports to the UK were falling drastically as tankers were destroyed. On 11 June Jellicoe reported that he intended to form weekly oil convoys to relieve the situation.[cxxxvii] Two days later Jellicoe reported to the War Cabinet that the implementation of the convoy system was ‘nearly complete.’[cxxxviii]

Convoys were highly successful in 1917, as this figure from Marder indicates. Of the 26,404 ships that sailed in convoys during that year, only 147 were lost. The Scandinavian and Atlantic convoys were the most susceptible targets for convoy interdiction missions, while the sparsely escorted Mediterranean had the highest loss rate that year.

Effects of Ocean Convoys, with the losses vs successful convoy sailing ‘cross-over’ point at August – September 1917, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 73

By the end of 1917 26,404 ships had sailed in organized merchant convoys: 4,484 across the Atlantic, 6,155 between Scotland and Scandinavia, and 15,684 in the French coal trade, with a total loss of only 147 vessels.[cxxxix] 32.5% and 42.5%, respectively, of those ships that were lost while being convoyed, were sunk while entering or leaving a convoy, when confusion was at its greatest.[cxl] These results were significant, as compared with June 1917 when 122 British merchant ships were sunk with a loss of 417,925 tons in a single month. Although loss rates dropped significantly by November, 85 ships were still lost to mines (8) and U-boats (76) at loss of 253,087 tons of British merchant shipping in December.[cxli] Allied tonnage losses, that is, non-British shipping losses, plummeted from 72 ships at 111,683 tons in July to only 46 ships at 86,981 tons in December.[cxlii]

By August 1917 the convoy system had been systematically implemented in all three maritime theatres, the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean

The Flanders UB and UC flotillas were, however, continually destroying Channel shipping at an average of 50,000 tons a month for the entire period and the Third Ypres offensive had failed to capture Passchendaele, and critically, the U-boat bases along the Belgian coast. Despite these set-backs there was room for hope. In the Atlantic the tonnage loss rate fell from 550,000 tons in April, to only 165,000 tons in November. 37 U-boats were destroyed during the second half of 1917, 16 by mines, the total equivalent to 7.4 boats a month, nearly matching the commission rate for new U-boats, 8.8 per month.[cxliii]

Counter-blockade submarine U151, 1,500 tons displacement, first of seven initially designed for use as blockade runners and in April 1917 converted to an Atlantic battle submarine, entering service in July 1917.

In September there were 139 submarines operating, the wartime peak, allowing for an increased daily average of 56 U-boats in October, more than the 39 at sea in November or the 48 in December.[cxliv] With nearly fifty U-boats continuously at sea every day, and new long-endurance U-boat cruisers plumbing the Atlantic to the tune of 52,000 tons per three month cruise, as U155 achieved in the fall of 1917 (10 steamers & seven sailing ships), the submarine war was far from over.[cxlv]

Daily average of U-boats at sea & total (Allied, Neutral & British) tonnage sunk on average per boat. The sinking rate was cut almost in half between March and December 1917. Furthermore the average daily number and size of vessels sunk was falling: whereas in March 889 tons of British shipping was on average destroyed each day, by August that number had fallen to 485 tons, & half again to 284 tons by December. In March – June the average size of each ship sunk was 5,084 tons gross, falling to 4,342 tons in July – October. Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 58

 

Convoy Battles, October – December 1917

From Jellicoe’s perspective, the Royal Navy was engaged in an unprecedented destroyer and submarine action with the German Navy, with the possibility for a High Sea Fleet sortie at any time. Early in the morning of October 17, German light cruisers raided a west-bound Scandinavian convoy of 12 (two British, one Belgian, one Danish, five Norwegian, three Swedish) that had departed Marstein in the company of two destroyers, HMS Strongbow and Mary Rose.[cxlvi] Just after 6 am on the 17th, Strongbow spotted two unidentified vessels on a converging course. In fact, these were the 3,800 ton German minelaying cruisers SMS Brummer and Bremse, with orders to mine the Scandinavian convoy routes.

 

SMS Brummer, minelaying cruiser that along with sistership SMS Bremse, attacked a Scandinavian convoy on 17 October 1917 & HMS Strongbowdestroyed by SMS Brummer & Bremse at the action of 17 October 1917

The light cruisers proceeded to make short work of Strongbow and Mary Rose with their 15 cm guns.[cxlvii] The trawlers Elise and P. Fannon, armed with only one 6 pdr gun apiece, along with three unarmed steamers, managed to escape and retrieve Lieutenant Commander Brooke, CO of the Strongbow and others, from the water.[cxlviii] The enemy cruisers destroyed the remaining nine merchants in the convoy.[cxlix]

Locations of major minefields, Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, p. 62 & The chaotic minefield situation in the Heligoland Bight, 17 November 1917, from Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, p. 168-9

On 17 November the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight took place when the First Battle Cruiser Squadron, under Rear Admiral Phillimore, a component of Admiral Pakenham’s Battle Cruiser Force, intercepted a group of High Sea Fleet minesweepers that were attempting to clear the edge of the Bight minefields.[cl] Rear Admiral Phillimore’s HMS Repulse group pursued the minesweepers, but the Germans deployed a large smoke screen that successfully covered their escape.[cli]

HMS Repulse or Renown at steam, by William Weyllie. & Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, 17 November 1917, also by Wyllie

On 11 December Admiral Scheer ordered Commander Heinecke’s Second Flotilla (Torpedo Boat Flotilla II), comprising the largest and fastest destroyers in the fleet,[clii] to raid Britain’s merchant convoys. The Fourth Half-Flotilla was to attack shipping near Newcastle, while the Third Half-Flotilla raided the Scandinavian Bergen-Lerwick line. During the winter darkness early on 12 December, the Fourth Half-Flotilla destroyers (B97, B109, B110 & B112), moving north up the coast, encountered the stragglers from a southbound coastal convoy out of Lerwick, Shetlands, and torpedoed two transports, the Danish Peter Willemoes and the Swedish Nike and sank a third small coastal steamer shortly afterwards.[cliii] The Fourth Half-Flotilla then withdrew for its rendezvous with the light cruiser SMS Emden at 5:15 pm.[cliv]

German destroyers in formation, from Goldrick, After Jutland (2018), photo 9.1

The complexities of night-time communication in crowded sea-lanes meant that no clear indication of what was happening reached the Admiralty. Furthermore, the poor weather conditions and dearth of coastal lighting (suppressed except at specific times at Admiralty orders) resulted in the Third Half-Flotilla becoming lost and eventually approaching the Norwegian coast.[clv]

 

G101-type German destroyer, c. 1916

So it was with complete surprise that the daily convoy from Lerwick to the Marstein lighthouse, escorted by destroyers HMS Pellew and HMS Partridge, plus four armed trawlers, at 11:30 am south-west of Bjorne Fjord, encountered the German destroyers of the Third Half-Flotilla, under the command of Korvettenkapitan (Lieutenant-Commander) Hans Kolbe, a powerful force composed of SMS G101, G103, G104 & V100.[clvi] Lieutenant-Commander J. R. C. Cavendish of the Pellew, when the unknown destroyers approaching the convoy did not answer his signals, transmitted a warning notice to Beatty informing the C-in-C of the expected enemy contact (a signal actually received by the armoured cruiser HMS Shannon and its group, about sixty miles away), and then ordered the convoy to scatter.[clvii]

A RN destroyer and three armed drifters escorting a convoy of merchant ships, c. 1917-18

The 12 December 1917 convoy action, from Scheer’s High Sea Fleet, p. 383

Pellew and Partridge placed themselves between the German destroyers and the convoy hoping to buy time.[clviii] Kolbe’s force destroyed Partridge with gunfire and torpedoes until it sank. Pellew, partially disabled by gunfire, was lost in a storm and LTC Cavendish was able to navigate the destroyer towards the Norwegian coast while Kolbe turned on the convoy (six merchants, four trawlers) and annihilated it.[clix] Although the Partridge distress report was received by HMS Rival and then transmitted to the HMS Birkenhead group (3rd Light Cruiser Squadron) south of Norway, Kolbe’s force managed to slip east past the picket line shortly after sunset.[clx]

Chart of 12 December 1917 destroyer raid on the Scandinavian convoy route, from Marder, FDSF, IV

While this example demonstrated that Germany’s surface assets were very much still a risk to the convoy system, another encounter a week later with U-boats operating near a convoy assembly point highlighted the multidimensional nature of the battle.

A convoy of 17 departed Falmouth in stormy weather at 11 am on 18 December, screened by several trawlers. When the convoy was clear of the Channel and off Prawle point at 1:30 pm, the SS Riversdale was torpedoed. At noon the C-in-C Devonport, receiving reports of sunk merchant ships, ordered all merchant traffic between Plymouth and Portland to be halted, a condition that remained in force until 8 pm, and then again from 5:15 am.[clxi]

The 7,046 ton Cunard liner SS Vinovia was the next to be torpedoed, off Wolf Rock an hour later, with nine lives lost.[clxii] The Rame Head wireless-telegraphy (W/T) station reported a sighting, and the C-in-C Devonport ordered the trawlers in F section to investigate. These were the Mewslade and Coulard Hill. These hydrophone equipped vessels established a hydrophone picket, but did not locate any submarines.[clxiii] Meanwhile, airship C23, which had been despatched to investigate the Rame Head W/T contact, discovered that the French steamer St. Andre had also been torpedoed, sometime around around midnight.[clxiv]

UC100, UCIII-type coastal minelayer submarine, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive (2000)

Lieutenant John Lawris RNR, in the sailing ship Mitchell, encountered a U-boat surfacing in windy weather off the north Devon coast. When, at 10:10 am, a submarine surfaced in front of the Mitchell Lt. Lawris opened fire, multiple shell hits causing the U-boat to dive. Although the trawler Sardius raced to support the Mitchell, the submarine was already gone.[clxv] Mitchell relayed this information to the Trevose Head W/T station at 10:25, and the report was broadcast around the region, where it was received at Penzance, Falmouth, Newlyn and elsewhere.[clxvi] The rush of W/T communication amidst the flurry of sighting reports caused communication delays. One Falmouth flotilla, carrying out hydrophone investigations of sightings, did not receive a sinking report until five and half hours after the event.[clxvii]

UB148 at sea

At 4:00 pm the Prince Charles de Belgique, a Belgian steamer, was attacked by a submarine eight miles from the Lizard. Luckily the torpedo missed, whence the U-boat was spotted by a Newlyn NAS seaplane cruising overhead at 500 ft. The seaplane carried out a bombing attack but was unsuccessful. Simultaneously at 4 pm, the trawler Take Care, while protecting the Brixham fishing fleet, spotted a submarine near Berry Head, although no further sightings were made. Several hours later trawler Lysander was picking up the survivors of the torpedoed Norwegian steamer Ingrid II, which had been enroute to Cardif for repairs.[clxviii] The Alice Marie was sunk next, sometime before midnight, then the Warsaw at 1:20 am, and then at 4 am the Eveline. The trawlers Rinaldo and Ulysses could do nothing to intervene, dashing between reports and unable to make firm detections with their hydrophones.[clxix]

A significant score of ships destroyed, and no submarine caught in the act. The impact of A/S measures continued to be essentially random, thus when UB56 crashed into a mine in the English Channel it became the only German casualty associated with the 18 December action.[clxx] Ten merchant ships of three nations had been lost, but the convoy, reduced to 16, still crossed successfully.

St. Paul’s and Blackfriars Bridge, by William Wyllie.

These battles and others like them demonstrate that as 1917 came to a close the Royal Navy had to strengthen and refine its procedures for convoy escort and ASW. Outside of the Mediterranean, the English Channel, Irish Sea and the Scandinavian corridor were all vulnerable to attack, especially near the as yet unescorted coastal routes.

 

Resolution: Attacks on the Belgian Submarine Bases & the Defeat of the U-boats in 1918

When 1918 opened the convoy system had been widely adopted and plentiful resources were being supplied to the regional commanders. The coastal space, however, had become highly contested. A German surface raid attack near Yarmouth on 14 January involved 50 vessels of various kinds, but was driven off by Commodore Tyrwhitt’s Harwich Force.[clxxi] Despite the ongoing surface and submarine battle, crucially, merchant sinkings were well below crisis levels and falling.[clxxii] In December 1917 the German Admiralty made Vice Admiral Ritter von Mann-Tiechler head of a dedicated U-boat office, recognition of ad hoc nature of the previous year of unrestricted submarine warfare.[clxxiii]

Sir Eric Campbell Geddes as Vice Admiral and First Lord of the Admiralty, 1917, photograph by Walter Stoneman

Naval Staff reforms c. January 1918, from Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (2011)

The Naval Staff as organized in January 1918 for the Geddes – Wemyss administration, from Jellicoe, Crisis of the Naval War (1920), p. 27

1918adboard2.5jpg-1-1

Jellicoe, in a controversial decision by Lloyd George and Geddes, was removed from office in December, and then replaced by his Deputy, Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss.[clxxiv] Vice Admiral Sir Herbert L. Heath became the Second Sea Lord, Rear Admiral Lionel Halsey retained the Third Sea Lord position, and Rear Admiral Hugh H. D. Tothill became the Fourth Sea Lord. Duff stayed on as ACNS, and Rear Admiral Sydney R. Fremantle became Deputy DCNS and Rear Admiral George P. W. Hope of the Naval Staff’s Operations Division the Deputy First Sea Lord.[clxxv] Geddes now reformed the staff again, delegating home operations and air to the DCNS, the ASD and other trade protection elements to the ACNS, while the Deputy 1SL assumed responsibility for foreign operations.[clxxvi]

naval-staff3.3-1918

Next to fall from the famous Geddes axe was Vice Admiral Bacon, the long serving SNO Dover. Wemyss appointed Rear Admiral Roger Keyes in his place on 1 January 1918. Captain Wilfred Tomkinson became Captain of the Dover Destroyers.[clxxvii] The arrangement of the Dover Barrage, as it had been under Bacon, was expanded with a new system of illumination, authored by Wing Commander F. A. Brock (RNAS), son of the Brock of Brock’s firework (and explosive bullet) manufacturer, coinciding with a new patrol scheme, whereby 80 to 100 destroyers and auxiliaries were constantly patrolling the Straits by day and night.[clxxviii]

The positions of the Channel mine net and Folkestone – Gris Nez minefields in 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, 1914-1915 (2000)

Between 19 December 1917 and 8 February 1918 four U-boats were mined in the Channel, and UB35 was depth-charged by HMS Leven.[clxxix] The increased danger was so significant that Commodore Michelsen was forced to prohibit the use of the Channel route and instead endorse the northern route around Scotland, effectively adding five days of transit to the U-boats’ cruise.[clxxx]

Drifter net-mine deployment

The Flanders command launched another anti-shipping sortie on 14 January with 14 destroyers, although in the event no merchant ships were encountered.[clxxxi] A month later, on 13 February, Commander Heinecke’s Second Flotilla was despatched to attack the Dover – Calais barrage, in particular, the lights that since December 1917 had drastically increased the risk to transiting U-boats.[clxxxii] Heinecke’s destroyers departed in thick fog, and anchored overnight north of Norderney.

Dover trawlers and motor-launches, from Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea (2017)

After working around to the English coast the attackers, eight in total, split into two half-flotillas and waited until night, and then, around 12:30 am on the 15th, began their raid against the well lit and heavily defended cross-Channel barrage. Attaining complete surprise, Heinecke’s force (Fourth Half-Flotilla) destroyed, according to Scheer, a searchlight vessel, 13 drifters, a U-boat chaser, a torpedo boat and two motor-boats, while the other half-flotilla (Third Half-Flotilla), working the southern end of the barrage, sank 12 trawlers and two motor-boats. Steve Dunn and James Goldrick give the accurate figure of seven drifters, one trawler sunk, with three drifters one paddle steamer damaged.[clxxxiii]

Zeebrugge raid of 22 April 1918, showing location of harbour assault force and canal blockships, from Cecil Aspinall-Oglander, Roger Keyes (1951)

Dover’s new C-in-C Admiral Roger Keyes now conducted the long-planned Flanders coast raid on 22 April.[clxxxiv] Although the blockships meant to obstruct the Zeebrugge harbour were only effective for a few days, the daring raid was described as a triumph by the press, with eight Victoria Crosses being awarded to the participants.[clxxxv] A further attempt to block the Ostend canal was attempted on 9-10 May, with likewise limited results.[clxxxvi]

On 23 April 1918 the High Sea Fleet launched a planned raid against the Scandinavian convoy route.[clxxxvii] This was a major operation involving the battlecruisers of the Scouting Group under Admiral von Hipper, in addition to light cruisers and destroyers, supported by Scheer’s main force. As the advanced group cleared the Heligoland minefields, however, SMS Moltke threw a propeller and suffered a turbine failure that ultimately damaged the engines and caused a breach in the hull. The battlecruiser had to be taken in tow by SMS Oldenburg.[clxxxviii]

24 April 1918 High Sea Fleet sortie, from James Goldrick, After Jutland (2018), map 13.1

The Grand Fleet was notified by Room 40 that the High Sea Fleet was out of harbour and Beatty prepared the fleet for sea,[clxxxix] although there was no chance the British could catch the Germans before they returned to harbour.[cxc] Later that evening, after being restored to its own power, Moltke was torpedoed by RN submarine E42, but managed to return safety of the Jade.[cxci] The fleet operation had failed to locate any convoys and the High Sea Fleet would not sortie again until it sailed for internment on 24 November 1918.

The bomb-proof U-boat pens at Bruges.

While the U-boats’ areas of operation were slowly being squeezed by increasingly comprehensive convoys and sophisticated hydrophone and aerial sweeps, the bombing campaign by RNAS Dunkirk, and after 1 April 1918, RAF No. 5 Group, against the Flanders U-boat bases was renewed.  Wing Captain Charles Lambe’s 27 May operating orders called for the No. 5 Group (Dunkirk) to bomb the Bruges docks twice a day, both day and night.[cxcii] Indeed, 70 tons of bombs were dropped on Bruges and Zeebrugge during May 1918.[cxciii]

 

Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) naval air, airship, and training establishment map, March 1918, and Royal Air Force (RAF) Home Defence Groups.

From mid-June until the end of August, 86 tons of bombs were dropped on Zeebrugge, Ostend and Bruges by No. 5 Group, with another 49 tons dropped by other RAF squadrons.[cxciv] Between February 1917 and November 1918 the various Allied bombing forces (the US Northern Bombing Group had been forming since June 1918),[cxcv] managed to drop 524 tons of bombs on Zeebrugge, Ostend and Bruges, and, although the Bruges electrical works were destroyed and the Zeebrugge lock gates targeted, only three submarines were damaged by the bombing programme.[cxcvi]

The U-boats, for their part, had been forced once again to change tactics, focusing on the lightly escorted outbound traffic returning across the Atlantic to America. During the summer of 1918 the U-boats, by expanding their area of operations into the western and southern Atlantic, scored a series successful sinkings.

Powerful 2,000 ton U139 – U141 ‘cruiser’ type developed for long-range operations in the Atlantic, armed with two 150 mm cannons and 19 torpedoes for its six torpedo tubes. & U140, double-hulled 12,000 nm range 2,000 ton submarine crewed by six officers and 56 men, armed with 8.8 cm and 10 cm guns and six torpedo tubes, four bow and two stern, from Eberhard Moller and Werner Brack, Encyclopedia of U-boats from 1904 to the Present (2004), p. 39

1918

Allied shipping losses in the Channel and Western Approaches for 1918

However, as the return voyage traffic was empty of supplies or troops the impact on the war was marginal in comparison to the 1.5 million American soldiers that successfully crossed the Atlantic.[cxcvii] Although shipping losses remained in the 300,000 ton/month range for the first eight months of 1918, with a high of 368,750 tons sunk in March, followed by a low of 268,505 tons in June, the sinking rate was not high enough to cripple Allied shipping.[cxcviii]

 

convoy01Convoys in 1918, by John Everett

justicia

32,000 ton White Star liner Justicia, sunk 19 – 20 July 1918, despite escort, by the combined efforts of UB64, U54, with UB124 in support (damaged by escorts and then scuttled).

A notable footnote is the 10 – 25 May 1918 concentration, wherein eight U-boats grouped against the western approaches off the Irish coast. Luckily for the Admiralty, this concentration was known and cleared through careful routing of approaching convoys, thus, as Newbolt phrased it, the Royal Navy had avoided the ‘the most methodical and elaborate attempt that the Germans Staff had as yet made to interfere with the convoy system.’[cxcix]

Meanwhile, the monthly loss rate for U-boats climbed significantly during 1918, from Gibson & Prendergast, German Submarine War

The U-boats certainly needed some change in method, as during 1918 69 U-boats were destroyed, a figure that matched new construction.[cc] As Lawrence Sondhaus concluded, ‘the balance sheet of Allied tonnage sunk versus German submarines lost clearly tipped from favoring the Germans in 1917 (6.15 million tons at a cost of sixty-three U-boats) to favoring the Allies in 1918 (2.75 million tons at a cost of sixty-nine U-boats).’[cci] The implementation of air-escorted coastal convoys for the East Coast of Britain and the Irish Sea – the two remaining areas of highest shipping losses – closed the final weakness in the trade defence system, and, as Tarrant phrased it, ‘all hopes of the U-boats forcing a decision finally evaporated’.[ccii]

Sinking locations, February to October 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive, 1914-1915 (2000)

In August 1918, with the submarine war failing and the Allies preparing for their final Western Front offensive, Admiral von Holtzendorff resigned, being replaced by Admiral Scheer.[cciii] At a meeting between Scheer and senior German industrialists held 1 October 1918 it was determined that every effort should be made to increase submarine construction, first to 16 per month and eventually up to 30 per month.[cciv] This was too little too late, however, as the submarine war was winding down as Germany’s military situation on the continent collapsed.

Decline in global merchant sinking, May – November 1918, from Tarrant, The U-boat Offensive (2000)

The Flanders U-boat bases were liberated during October 1918, a decisive event in the Allied Hundred Days offensive. The Germans evacuated Ostend on 17 October, and then Zeebrugge and Bruges two days later. On 21 October the U-boat command issued the order to cease attacks on passenger ships, followed by the recall of all U-boats to Wilhelmshaven, from which the expected final sortie of the High Sea Fleet was to take place.[ccv] The naval mutiny following the 28 October order for the suicidal final sortie, and resulting capture of the fleet bases at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven and Kiel by revolutionaries on 3 November, at last terminated the submarine threat.[ccvi]

Approximate locations of U-boats destroyed during the First World War, from Gibson & Prendergast

“The Archaeology of First World War U-boat Losses in the English Channel and its Impact on the Historical Record,” Innes McCartney, Mariner’s Mirror, vol. 105, no. 2, May 2019, p. 183-201
UB131 beached near Hastings, 9 January 1921, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 65

The RAF memorial, Victoria Embankment, c. 1923 by William Wyllie

Conclusion

As Stephen Roskill observed of the British experience with ASW during the Second World War, the immediate lesson was the complete failure of hunting groups, and the superior nature of escorted convoys, in particular with destroyer and air support. The old argument of offensive versus defensive measures masked the aggressive naval officer’s distaste for the rigors of convoy duty.[ccvii] The advantages of convoys were undeniable: the total space the convoy occupied was marginal when compared to the visibility of thousands of independently sailing vessels, which in effect acted as a screen for the convoys, until controls were tightened as losses continued into 1918.

First World War Royal Navy officers, by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, 1921.

Fast attack forces able to slip through the Royal Navy’s blockade, such as minelayers and destroyers, produced decisive results against convoys, as they were able to overwhelm the escorts. The U-boats, by concentrating against the coasts and the convoy dispersion points, and attacking the thinly escorted Atlantic and Norwegian convoy routes, were still able to inflict serious losses. The Admiralty did arrive at the essential formula for success – vastly improved A/S escorts, convoys, qualitative and quantitative improvements in material and technology from mines, depth-charges, bombs and shell, plus flying boats, airships, Q-ships, hydrophones, minesweepers and paravanes. So long as as the High Sea Fleet did not escalate the scale of its counter-blockade operations, the crucial merchant supplies would get through, while peripheral attacks, such as by the Zeppelins and Gothas against London and the coastal bases and arsenals, could not decide the outcome of the war.

The German naval command had gambled on an uncertain weapon, and come close to success. As the U-boat war evolved during 1917, both sides were forced to dramatically adjust their operations and tactics. For the Allies, restricting the movement of, and eventually counter-attacking the U-boats became the new paradigm, whereas Germany abandoned main fleet battle to focus completely on submarine construction and flotilla deployment. The historical parallel with 18th century convoy and the guerre de course was proven correct,[ccviii] and by the end of the war the tools to effectively locate and destroy U-boats had been invented, tested and operationalized. For the U-boats the lessons were clear: strength lay in numbers, and safety at night, far away from air patrols. The Second Battle of the Atlantic, twenty years later, would prove which side had truly grappled with the crisis, and mastered it.

After the War: UB77 in Portsmouth harbour with HMS Victory, from Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, p. 55

HMS Renown departs Portsmouth, 16 March 1920, with HMS Victory and UB77 at left, by William Wyllie.
Francis Dodd drawing of the crew cabin aboard Royal Navy ML558 & sketches of U-boats surrendering, 20 November 1918, & Square-rigged sailing ship at sea, by William Wyllie

Notes

[i] Marc Milner, “The Atlantic War, 1939-1945: The Case for a New Paradigm,” in Decision in the Atlantic, ed. Marcus Faulkner and Christopher M. Bell (University of Kentucky: Andarta Books, 2019), 5–19.

[ii] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, Vol. I, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Arcole Publishing, 2017)., chapter 40, loc. 14420

[iii] Hague Convention on Land Warfare, July 1899, https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Treaty.xsp?documentId=CD0F6C83F96FB459C12563CD002D66A1&action=openDocument

 & Hague Convention on Neutral Powers in Naval War, October 1907, https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Treaty.xsp?documentId=06A47A50FE7412AFC12563CD002D6877&action=openDocument

[iv] Henry Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. V, 5 vols., History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1931)., p. 195

[v] V. E. Tarrant, The U-Boat Offensive, 1914-1945 (London: Cassel & Co, 2000)., p. 50

[vi] Donald Macintyre, The Battle of the Atlantic (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military Classics, 2006)., p. 73-7

[vii] Nick lloyd, Hundred Days: The End of the Great War, Kindle ebook (New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013)., Chapter 13, loc 4088

[viii] See for example, Nick Hewitt, The Kaiser’s Pirates, Hunting Germany’s Raiding Cruisers in World War I, Kindle ebook (New York: Pen & Sword Books, Ltd., 2013)., also, Julian Corbett, Naval Operations, vol. I, V vols., History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1920).

[ix] Nicolas Wolz, From Imperial Splendour to Internment: The German Navy in the First World War, trans. Geoffrey Brooks, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2015)., chapter 7, loc. 2730-5

[x] Gary Sheffield, “Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Arras: A British Perspective,” in Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment, ed. Geoffrey Hayes, Andrew Iarocci, and Mike Bechthold (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010), 15–30., p. 15-6

[xi] John Terraine, Business in Great Waters: The U-Boat Wars, 1916-1945, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 2009)., part I, chapter 3, loc. 1297

[xii] Wolz, From Imperial Splendour to Internment: The German Navy in the First World War., chapter 7, loc. 2735

[xiii] Holger Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918, Kindle ebook (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)., p. 308

[xiv] Edwyn A. Gray, The U-Boat War, 1914-1918, Kindle ebook (London: Leo Cooper, 1994)., chapter 10, loc. 2443

[xv] Gray., chapter 10, loc. 2451

[xvi] H. A. Jones, The War In The Air, Antony Rowe Ltd. reprint, vol. IV, VI vols. (Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1934)., p. 47

[xvii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 51

[xviii] Tarrant., p. 51

[xix] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 47

[xx] Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, 1915, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 4 vols. (New York: RosettaBooks, LLC, 1923)., chapter 15, loc. 5209

[xxi] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 48

[xxii] ‘”Blockade” Effect in U.S. Trade,’ 19 March 1917, London Times, p. 7

[xxiii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 49

[xxiv] Gray, The U-Boat War, 1914-1918., chapter 10, loc. 2443

[xxv] Arthur Marder, ed., Portrait of an Admiral, The Life And Papers Of Herbert Richmond. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952)., p. 228

[xxvi] Daniel A. Baugh, “Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond and the Objects of Sea Power,” in Mahan Is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, ed. James Goldrick and John B. Hattendorf, Naval War College Historical Monograph 10 (Newport, Rhode Island: Naval War College Press, 1993), 13–49., p. 18 fn. See also in particular, Herbert Richmond, The Navy In The War of 1739-48, Volume III, vol. 3, 3 vols., Cambridge Naval and Military Series (London: Cambridge University Press, 1920)., p. 52 et seq

[xxvii] Julian Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy (London: The Folio Society, 2001)., p. 267-80; & Julian Corbett, Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume I, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015)., p. 290, 359

[xxviii] Arthur Marder, From The Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Year of Crisis, vol. 4, 5 vols. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969)., p. 120-1

[xxix] Terraine, Business in Great Waters., Part 1, Chapter 3, loc. 1314-21. See also, Winston Churchill, The World Crisis: Volume III, 1916 – 1918, Kindle ebook, vol. 3, 4 vols. (New York: RosettaBooks, LLC, 2013)., Chapter 15, loc. 5253-60

[xxx] Marder, FDSF., p. 122

[xxxi] John J. Abbatiello, “The Myths and Realities of Air Anti-Submarine Warfare during the Great War,” Air Power Review 12, no. 1 (2009): 14–31., p. 14

[xxxii] Norman Leslie, “The System of Convoys for Merchant Shipping in 1917 and 1918,” Naval Review 5, no. 1 (1917): 42–95., p. 43

[xxxiii] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 45

[xxxiv] John Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1934)., p. 16

[xxxv] R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast, The German Submarine War, 1914-1918, Reprint (London: Naval & Military Press, 1931)., p. 160

[xxxvi] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 17-8

[xxxvii] Alexander L. N. Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918” (PhD thesis, King’s College London, 2019)., p. 125-9

[xxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 14

[xxxix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 10-14

[xl] Newbolt., p. 14

[xli] Marder, FDSF., IV p. 156

[xlii] War Cabinet paper by Jellicoe, 21 February 1917, ADM 1/8480, #33 in A. Temple Patterson, ed., The Jellicoe Papers, 1916-1935, vol. 2, 2 vols. (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1968)., p. 144-9

[xliii] War Cabinet paper by Jellicoe, 21 February 1917, ADM 1/8480, #33 in Temple Patterson., p. 146-8

[xliv] Jones, WIA, IV., p. 45-6

[xlv] Jones., IV p. 47

[xlvi] Marder, FDSF., IV p. 123

[xlvii] Henry Newbolt, Naval Operations, vol. IV, 5 vols., The Naval History of the Great War (Antony Rowe Ltd., Eastbourne: The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1928)., p. 353; James Goldrick, After Jutland: The Naval War in North European Waters, June 1916 – November 1918, Kindle ebook (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2018)., chapter 9, loc. 3018. Goldrick says Tilleson.

[xlviii] Steve Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea: The Dover Patrol, 1914-1918 (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2017)., p. 134

[xlix] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3036-45

[l] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 360-68

[li] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 134; Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3126-41

[lii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3149-58

[liii] ‘Distribution of Coal and Sugar,’ 24 March 1917, London Times, p. 8

[liv] Paul Guinn, British Strategy and Politics, 1914 to 1918 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1965)., p. 228; see also, Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, vol. I: 1877-1918, 3 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1970). p. 359-60

[lv] War Cabinet meeting 100, 21 March 1917, CAB 23/2/18, p. 2

[lvi] War Cabinet meeting 110, 2 April 1917, CAB 23/2/28, p. 3

[lvii] War Cabinet meeting 110, 2 April 1917, CAB 23/2/28, p. 3

[lviii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 42

[lix] War Cabinet meeting 117, 11 April 1917, CAB 23/2/35, p. 4; see also, War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 4

[lx] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 4

[lxi] War Cabinet meeting 113, 4 April 1917, CAB 23/2/31, p. 2-3

[lxii] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 2

[lxiii] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 3-5

[lxiv] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, p. 2

[lxv] War Cabinet meeting 125, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/43, Appendix II, p. 8-9

[lxvi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 12 April 1917, #42 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 156

[lxvii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 159

[lxviii] War Cabinet meeting 116, 9 April 1917, CAB 23/2/34, p. 5; War Cabinet meeting 117, 11 April 1917, CAB 23/2/35, p. 2-3; see also Jellicoe to Rear-Admiral W. S. Sims, 7 April 1917, #41 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 155.

[lxix] War Cabinet meeting 115, 6 April 1917, CAB 23/2/33, p. 1

[lxx] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 274-5. See also, William Sims, The Victory at Sea (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2016)., p. 352-3

[lxxi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 17 March 1917, #36 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 153

[lxxii] Jellicoe to Beatty, 24 March 1917, #37 in Temple Patterson., p. 153

[lxxiii] War Cabinet minutes 104, 26 March 1917, CAB 23/2/22, p. 3

[lxxiv] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 135-41. Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 373

[lxxv] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1928., p. 377-8. Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 137-8

[lxxvi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 9, loc. 3221-50

[lxxvii] The Naval Who’s Who, 1917 (Polstead: J. B. Hayward & Son, 1981). p. 273

[lxxviii] Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff In The First World War (Rochester: Boydell & Brewer Inc., 2011), p. 301

[lxxix] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 264. Patrick Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918 (London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1982)., p. 254

[lxxx] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 264. Beesly., p. 254fn

[lxxxi] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, Appendix, p. 5

[lxxxii] Black, British Naval Staff., p. 34

[lxxxiii] Churchill, The World Crisis, 1915., chapter 15, loc. 5231

[lxxxiv] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, Appendix, p. 5; see also, Black, British Naval Staff., p. 248-9

[lxxxv] DASD Fisher to C-in-C Portsmouth, 21 July 1917, Bethell Papers (VII), LHCMA. See also, Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare, p. 113.

[lxxxvi] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. vii

[lxxxvii] Marder, FDSF., p. 118-9

[lxxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. xi

[lxxxix] Marder, FDSF, IV, pp. 268

[xc] Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., Chapter 10, loc. 1977

[xci] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 2002

[xcii] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 1984

[xciii] Temple Patterson., Chapter 10, loc. 1977-93

[xciv] Jellicoe to Beatty, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157 fn

[xcv] Jellicoe to Beatty, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157

[xcvi] Terraine, Business in Great Waters., Part 1, Chapter 3, loc. 1305

[xcvii] Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 157

[xcviii] Report of Admiralty meeting 23 February 1917, #34 in Temple Patterson., p. 149-51 & Jellicoe to Admiral Sir Frederick Hamilton, C-in-C Rosyth, 25 April 1917, #43 in Temple Patterson., p. 157

[xcix] War Cabinet meeting 124, 23 April 1917, CAB 23/2/42, p. 3; see also, Holger H. Herwig and Donald Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918,” The Historian 33, no. 4 (August 1971): 611–36., p. 614

[c] Rear-Admiral Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., vol. 2, p. 158

[ci] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 160

[cii] Rear-Admiral Duff to Jellicoe, 26 April 1917, #44 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., vol. 2, p. 159p.

[ciii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 159, 164

[civ] Jellicoe to Beatty, 12 April 1917, #42 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 156

[cv] Maurice Hankey, The Supreme Command, 1914 – 1918, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 2 vols. (New York: Routledge, 2014)., chapter 62, loc. 4257

[cvi] War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, p. 3

[cvii] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 275

[cviii] War Cabinet meeting 128, 1 May 1917, CAB 23/2/46, p. 2; War Cabinet meeting 130, 2 May 1917, CAB 23/2/48, p. 2

[cix] War Cabinet meeting 142, 22 May 1917, CAB 23/2/60, p. 2

[cx] War Cabinet meeting 156, 6 June 1917, CAB 23/3/3, p. 3

[cxi] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 54

[cxii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 43

[cxiii] Newbolt., V, p. 57-8

[cxiv] Newbolt., p. 43

[cxv] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 52-3

[cxvi] War Cabinet meeting 144, 23 May 1917, CAB 23/2/62, p. 7

[cxvii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 42

[cxviii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 53

[cxix] Tarrant., p. 52

[cxx] Andreas Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918 (Miami: Trident Publishing, 2017)., p. 76, 78; see also, Herwig and Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918.”, p. 635

[cxxi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4190

[cxxii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 259

[cxxiii] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 260-1

[cxxiv] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 263

[cxxv] Marder, FDSF, IV, p. 261-2

[cxxvi] Jellicoe to Beatty, 2 April 1917, #39 in Temple Patterson, Jellicoe Papers, Vol. II., p. 154-5

[cxxvii] John Jellicoe, The Crisis of the Naval War (London: Cassell and Company, Ltd, 1920)., Chapter III, p. 53-101

[cxxviii] Jellicoe, The Submarine Peril., p. 13

[cxxix] Marder, FDSF. IV, p. 286-7

[cxxx] Marder., IV, p. 226

[cxxxi] Marder., IV, p. 227-8

[cxxxii] Marder., IV, p. 233

[cxxxiii] Marder., IV, p. 228-9

[cxxxiv] Marder., IV, p. 271

[cxxxv] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 140; see also, John J. Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare in World War I: British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats (New York: Routledge, 2006)., Appendix I, p. 174

[cxxxvi] Dwight Messimer, Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001)., p. 134; Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 116; see also, H. A. Williamson, “Employment of aeroplanes of Anti-Submarine Work”, 14 August 1918, AIR 1/642, #267 in Stephen Roskill, ed., Documents Relating to the Naval Air Service. Volume I, 1908-1918 (London: Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., 1969)., p. 703-4

[cxxxvii] War Cabinet minute 160, 11 June 1917, CAB 23/3/7, p. 2

[cxxxviii] War Cabinet minute 162, 13 June 1917, CAB 23/3/9, p. 4

[cxxxix] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 282

[cxl] Marder., IV, p. 283,

[cxli] Marder., IV, p. 277

[cxlii] Marder., IV, p. 277

[cxliii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 59

[cxliv] Marder, FDSF., IV, p. 276

[cxlv] Marder., IV, p. 276

[cxlvi] Steve R. Dunn, Southern Thunder: The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One, Kindle ebook (Barnsley,: Seaforth Publishing, 2019). chapter 13, loc. 2882

[cxlvii] Reinhard Scheer, Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, Kindle ebook (Shilka Publishing, 2013)., p. 378-81

[cxlviii] Dunn, Southern Thunder. chapter 13, loc. 2873-968

[cxlix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 153-5

[cl] Newbolt., V, p. 168, et seq

[cli] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4407-27

[clii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 381. Dunn says this is Commodore Heinrich.

[cliii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4499

[cliv] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 383

[clv] Scheer., p. 383

[clvi] Dunn, Southern Thunder. chapter 14, loc. 3199, 3249;  Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 184-8.

[clvii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4518

[clviii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 189.

[clix] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4518; Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 190-2

[clx] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 12, loc. 4525

[clxi] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 198, 200-1

[clxii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 231

[clxiii] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 198

[clxiv] Newbolt., V, p. 198

[clxv] Newbolt., V, p. 199

[clxvi] Newbolt., V, p. 199

[clxvii] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxviii] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxix] Newbolt., V, p. 200

[clxx] Eberhard Moller and Werner Brack, The Encyclopedia of U-Boats From 1904 to the Present Day, trans. Andrea Battson and Roger Chesneau (London: Greenhill Books, 2004)., p. 47

[clxxi] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 208

[clxxii] Newbolt., V, p. 205

[clxxiii] Herwig and Trask, “The Failure of Imperial Germany’s Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917 – October 1918.”, p. 622

[clxxiv] Stephen Roskill, “The Dismissal of Admiral Jellicoe,” Journal of Contemporary History 1, no. 4 (October 1966): 69–93.

[clxxv] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 204

[clxxvi] Figure 7.2 in Black, British Naval Staff., p. 230

[clxxvii] Arthur Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Victory and Aftermath: 1918-1919, vol. 5, 5 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014)., p. 39-50.

[clxxviii] Marder., V, p. 41

[clxxix] Marder., V, p. 41

[clxxx] Marder., V, p. 41-2

[clxxxi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 4822

[clxxxii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 386

[clxxxiii] Scheer., p. 387-8; see also, Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 171-4, Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 4879

[clxxxiv] Cecil Aspinall-Oglander, Roger Keyes (London: The Hogarth Press, 1951)., p. 222-53; see also, Lawrence Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare in World War I: The Onset of Total War at Sea (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2017)., p. 179-80

[clxxxv] Dunn, Securing The Narrow Sea., p. 191

[clxxxvi] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5123; see also Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., p. 241-77

[clxxxvii] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5186

[clxxxviii] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 393

[clxxxix] Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918., p. 284-9

[cxc] Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5232

[cxci] Scheer, High Sea Fleet., p. 396, Goldrick, After Jutland., chapter 13, loc. 5269

[cxcii] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 164

[cxciii] Abbatiello, Anti-Submarine Warfare., p. 75

[cxciv] Abbatiello., p. 76-7

[cxcv] Geoffrey Rossano and Thomas Wildenberg, Striking the Hornets’ Nest (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2015)., p. 140-1

[cxcvi] Howlett, “The Royal Naval Air Service and the Evolution of Naval Aviation in Britain, 1914 – 1918.”, p. 164-5

[cxcvii] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 298. See also, Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 168-9

[cxcviii] Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 173-4

[cxcix] Newbolt, Naval Operations, 1931., V, p. 278-82

[cc] Sondhaus, German Submarine Warfare., p. 174

[cci] Sondhaus., p. 175

[ccii] Tarrant, U-Boat Offensive., p. 69

[cciii] Tim Benbow, Naval Warfare 1914-1918, Kindle ebook, The History of World War I (London: Amber Books Ltd, 2011)., chapter 6, loc. 3344-8

[cciv] Michelsen, Submarine Warfare, 1914-1918., p. 78-9

[ccv] Gibson and Prendergast, German Submarine War., p. 324-5

[ccvi] Gibson and Prendergast., p. 328-9

[ccvii] Stephen Roskill, War at Sea, 1939 – 1945, Volume II: The Period of Balance, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 4 vols., History of the Second World War (London: HMSO, 1956)., chapter IV, loc. 2353-95

[ccviii] Richard Woodman, “The Problems of Convoys, 1914-1917,” in Dreadnought to Daring: 100 Years of Comment, Controversy and Debate in The Naval Review, ed. Peter Hore (Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2012), 53–66., p. 55-6

England and the Closing of the Middle Ages: the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485

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England and the Closing of the Middle Ages: the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485

 

The death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth is the culminating event of the literary cycle, eight plays long, developed by William Shakespeare during the decade 1590-1600. The historical demise of Richard III on 22 August 1485, and the subsequent coronation of Henry Tudor as Henry VII, marked the conclusion of the bitter, century-long, dynastic struggle between Lancaster and York that has since become known as the War of the Roses. The cultural memory of those violent years of civil strife during the middle of the 15th century still haunts our modern imagination. What happened at Bosworth over a half millennium ago? How was it that the feudal contest was finally settled, and why is the outcome still discussed today?

The sequence of events that produced this watershed in English history is, however, shrouded in the fog of war. Tumultuous record keeping and aggressive propaganda during a period of devastating civil war has long obscured the events of the battle. Only in the last decade has modern battlefield archaeology been combined with systematic analysis of the source material to produce a scientific perspective on what happened on that epoch defining day in August more than 530 years ago. This post examines the military events of the battle, the dynastic political background, and the socioeconomic factors, that combined to ultimately bring to a close the Middle Ages in English history.

Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth began in England the process of consolidation and state formation that was already underway in France, Spain, and Central Europe. A cultural revolution was spreading across the continent, the result of more than 400 years of feudal warfare, as European societies were newly energized by the Humanist movement of northern Europe, and the Italian Renaissance in the Mediterranean. At the dawn of the 16th century England had become a unified kingdom, somewhat parochial and backward, but on the frontier of a new Age of Discovery.

The story of how the British Isles arrived at that point requires, first, looking back a thousand years to the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain.

 

Part One: The Sons of Edward III & The Hundred Years War 

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King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, was killed at the Battle of Hastings, 1066, as recorded by the Bayeux Tapestry. The death of Harold is the marker for a period, ultimately longer than 500 years, during which the Kings of England laid claim to a cross-Channel polity that connected the emerging Kingdoms of England and France.

 

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Territorial holdings of the Normans under King William in 1087, & the Angevin Empire inherited by King Henry II, in 1172.

The Kingdom administered by the successors of William the Conqueror slowly declined relative to its continental competitors. The Norman dynasty was soon eclipsed by the rising Plantagenet family, originating from the House of Anjou. In 1153 King Stephen the Norman was forced to recognize Henry of Anjou as his heir designate, formalized by the Treaty of Westminster. When Stephen died the following year, Henry Plantagenet inherited the English crown as Henry II. 88 years had passed since the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

 

reversal

After Henry II’s death in 1189, Philip II Auguste, the Capetian, over the course of his 43 year-long reign, reconquered most of the Angevin territory in France. England retained only Aquitaine (Gascony) when Philip II died in 1223.

 

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Louis IX (r. 1226 – 1270), Philip III (r. 1270 – 1285) and Philip IV (r. 1285 – 1314) consolidated France’s state lands for nearly 90 years. England, meanwhile, was weakened by internal strife, exemplified by the Second Baron’s War (1264 – 1267) during the reign of Henry III (r. 1216 – 1272), followed by the struggles with Scotland and Wales during the reigns of Edward I (r. 1272 – 1307) and Edward II (r. 1307 – 1327).

 

Edward III, painted in the late 16th c.

On 24 May 1337, 271 years after Hastings, King Philip VI declared Aquitaine forfeit, a major blow to Edward III who was also Duke of Aquitaine and thus heir to the Plantagenet family’s claims in France. Edward formally set claim to the French throne on 6 July 1339.

 

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Top: Battle of Crecy, 26 August 1346. Lower: Battle of Poitiers, 19 September 1356, by Eugene Delacroix, 1830.

Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince invaded France and won decisive victories at Crecy, in August 1346, and at Poitiers, in September 1356. Edward eventually settled for the Treaty of Bretigny and recognition of England’s dominion over Gascony.

 

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English holdings in France after Edward III secured the treaties of Bretigny, 8 May 1360, and Calais, 24 October 1360. Charles V (r. 1364 – 1380) of France rolled back the English conquests, and by 1380 the land holdings of Edward’s successor Richard II (r. 1377 – 1399) had been reduced to only the rump of Bordeaux and Calais.

 

Lineage of Henry III Plantagenet and the houses of Lancaster and York.

 

The century long succession struggle that culminated in the Wars of the Roses originated, in its immediate sense, with Edward III’s sons. Edward’s first son, the Prince of Wales, Edward the Black Prince, the Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall, was heir to Edward’s claim as King of both England and France. The Black Prince died before Edward III, however, and upon the King’s death in 1377 the throne passed to the Prince of Wales’ son, Richard II.

Richard II, son of the Black Prince, engraving by George Vertue, 1718

The new King was surrounded by his uncles, although his eldest uncle, Edward’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence, died in 1368 to be succeeded by his only daughter, Phillippa.

John of Gaunt (Ghent) was Edward’s third son, holder of the Duchy of Lancaster, with estates in Derby, Leicester and Lincoln. Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was the youngest son of Edward III, held estates in Buckingham, Northampton and Essex.[i] Edmund of Langley was fourth, the Duke of York, whose descendants would inherit Lionel of Antwerp’s claim (and estates) through the marriage of his son, Richard the Earl of Cambridge, to Anne Mortimer, daughter of Phillippa, the Countess of Ulster. Their son, born in 1411, was Richard Plantagenet, the father of two kings, Edward IV and Richard III.

The struggle for power became apparent in 1388 when Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, with the support of John of Gaunt’s son, the Earl of Derby, assembled with the Earls of Arundel, Nottingham and Warwick, and mobilized against the 23 year-old King’s supporters. Richard II’s circle of power included the archbishop of York, the Duke of Ireland, the Earl of Suffolk, and Sirs Robert Tresilian and Nicholas Brembre.[ii] This force, under the Duke of Ireland, was defeated by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, at Oxfordshire, resulting in the King’s virtual subjugation to his powerful uncle. Richard’s followers, including Lord Beauchamp of Holt, Sir Simon Burley, Sir James Berners and John Salisbury, were all purged, being arbitrarily condemned for high treason.

 

John of Gaunt (Ghent), Duke of Lancaster & Aquitaine, by George Yate, c. early 17th century. Effigy of Edmund of Langley, First Duke of York, at Westminster Abbey. & Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, engraving by Richard Godfrey, 1776.

 

Richard II however succeeded at expelling Gloucester’s various supporters from his Royal Council, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was Chancellor, the Bishop of Hereford, the Treasurer, and the Earl of Arundel, who was High Admiral. The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Gloucester himself were both reduced in power and status.[iii] A general pardon was issued by Parliament and then proclaimed by the King (except for the Duke of Ireland) to normalize government affairs, and soon the powerful Duke of Lancaster, who had been overseas attempting to promote his claim to the throne of Castile, returned to England. In 1396 a 25-year truce was arranged between England and France, and Richard, in a royal arrangement with the French court, married Charles Valois daughter, Isabella, then only seven years old.

By 1397 the Duke of Gloucester was conspiring for war with France, a position that put him at odds with Richard II’s peaceful policy. With the support of the Dukes of Lancaster and York, as well as their sons, the Earls of Derby and Rutland, Gloucester was arrested and conveyed to Calais where he was unceremoniously executed. Parliament was elected along lines more favourable to Richard and the pardons previously issued were annulled. Gloucester’s chief lieutenants, the Earls of Arundel and Warwick were likewise arrested, the former executed afterwards. Warwick was banished to the Isle of Man.[iv]

In 1398, with his power waning, and his former allies turning against him, Richard banished the Duke of Lancaster’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, and when the Duke died in 1399, the King attempted to confiscate all of his Lancastrian property. At this delicate juncture Richard II made the mistake of departing for a campaign in Ireland, enabling Henry Bloingbroke, the Lancastrian, to land at Ravenspur, Yorkshire, with a contingent of 60, including the Earl of Arundel. Within days their force was swollen by reinforcements. Now supported by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland,[v] the Duke of York opened London’s gates to his nephew Lancaster, and when Richard II returned from Ireland he was confronted by Henry’s party, led by Northumberland, and captured.

 

henry-iv

Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV (r. 1399 – 1413), c. late 16th century.

 

On 30 September Henry, claiming descent from Henry III, was crowned Henry IV, King of England. Parliament, with no other realistic options, recognized Henry as the legitimate monarch, disavowing the deposed Richard II, who died a prisoner the following year, possibly starved to death by Henry IV, at the age of 34.

Henry quickly rid himself of Richard’s supporters and in 1400 the Earls of Rutland (Albermarle), Kent (Surrey), Huntingdon (Exeter), Lord Spenser (Gloucester), Salisbury and Lord Lumley, were all executed, save for Rutland, the future Duke of York, who betrayed and murdered Lord Spenser in a demonstration of loyalty to Henry IV.[vi] The Earl of Worcester was despatched to maintain order in Gascony, although the French made little effort to take advantage of the disorder in England.

Battle of Shrewsbury, 21 July 1403, illustrated by Thomas Pennant in 1781.

 

In 1402, Henry Percy (Hotspur), with support from the Earls of Northumberland (his father), Worcester and Douglas, raised an army to oppose Henry IV. Percy and Douglas were met by Henry IV at Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, where in bloody fighting their armies were destroyed and Percy slain. Worcester, after his capture, was executed, although Douglas was given quarter due to his great status and past service. Northumberland, upon hearing of his son’s death, disbanded his army and traveled to York where he met with King Henry, who granted a royal pardon, although Henry Percy’s recantation was not to last long.[vii]

 

Henry Percy, father of Hotspur, the Earl of Northumberland, engraving by R. Clamp, 1792

 

In 1405 the Earl of Nottingham and the Archbishop of York, with the Earl of Northumberland’s support, rebelled against the King. These rebels were captured by the Earl of Westmoreland and their executions ordered by Henry. Northumberland fled to Scotland from where he conducted raids into England. It was on one such adventure into Yorkshire that Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, was slain in 1407.[viii]

Having consolidated his power, Henry IV began to increase his interest in foreign affairs. In 1411 he sent forces to support the Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans against the King of France. When Henry IV died in 1413, his son, Henry the Prince of Wales, carried on his mission.

 

Henry V, engraving, c. 18th century. & Catherine of Valois, engraving by Silvester Harding, 1792. Ascending to the throne in 1413, Henry V attempted to end the war by forcing the outright military conquest of France. His victory at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, decisively weakened France in the struggle against England and Burgundy, and in his second campaign in 1418 succeeded in annexing Normandy.

Henry V’s objectives were multifaceted. First, he sought to reverse the conquests of Phillip Augustus, second, in doing so, to assert his legitimacy through the adoption of Edward III’s mission to acquire for England the Kingdom of France. Third, the best means of securing this arrangement, would be the English King’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine, at cost of 2 million crowns. Another 1.6 million crowns would be paid on the outstanding debt owed for King Jean’s 14th century ransom.[ix] Through these means, military and matrimonial, Henry V sought to secure his claim to the thrones of England and France.

 

Descendants of Edward III

 

Weakness in the French crown made concessions possible. Henry’s diplomatic objective was merely to stall for time while he marshalled his forces. Before he could embark on his campaign of conquest, Henry ordered the executions of the traitorous Lord Scrope of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, and Earl of Cambridge (father of Richard of York), the plotters of the infamous Southampton plot to assassinate Henry before he embarked for France.

 

southamptonfroissart

Modern illustration of southampton in 1415, & Royal army transported across the Channel, from Froissart’s Chroniques, c. 1480.

 

With England secure behind him the King departed on 11 August, landing in Normandy three days later and marching against the port of Harfleur, immediately placed under siege on the 19th of August. A month of bombardment from Henry’s siege artillery forced the port to surrender, but this effort had absorbed most of the fall campaign season.[x] Henry, with his supply lines at Harfleur reduced to only a trickle, now determined to make for Calais. This base was far more secure than Harfleur, nearly impervious to French attack by land or sea, where he could draw on stockpiled supplies over the winter and prepare for further activity the following spring.[xi] Victualing as they raided through the Norman country side en route, Henry was however outmaneuvered by a large French army under the command of the Constable D’Albert who now blocked the approach to Calais.

 

HenryVcampaign

Henry V’s 1415 campaign

 

Henry in effect had attempted to repeat Edward III’s 1346 campaign, with the expected result that the French would confront him near the conclusion. With the French army blocking the road to Calais, Henry had no choice but battle. In the ensuing battle at Agincourt, 25 October 1415, the French were foolish enough to play into Henry’s offensive-defensive tactics, and were cut down by massed longbow arrows amidst confined and muddy ground that rendered the French cavalry useless.[xii] Although the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk were both slain in the battle, the French, a number of whose prisoners Henry had ordered killed during a moment of crisis,[xiii] suffered far greater losses in men and nobles, amongst whom were the Dukes of Alencon, Bar, Brabant, Admiral Jacques de Chatillon, and Counts of Marle, Vaudemont, Blamont, Roucy, Dammartin, Vaucourt, Fauquembergue, Nevers, and others, including the Constable D’Albert and 1,500 knights.[xiv] Captured by Henry were the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon, and the Counts Vendome, Richemont and d’Eu.[xv]

 

Agincourt2

Agincourt

Henry’s position and approach at Agincourt, from Oman, England and the Hundred Years War, Chapter 10, & Keegan, Face of Battle, p. 64.

 

Agincourt2.jpg

Agincourt.jpg

Renderings of the Battle of Agincourt 25 October 1415; from St. Alban’s Chronicle by Thomas Walsingham, c. 15th century. & Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s 15th century miniature.

 

Although this initial campaign had met with the luck of tactical success at Agincourt,[xvi] with long-term implications for the stability of the French crown, Henry was actually faced with operational defeat. His expeditionary army had been reduced by disease and lack of supplies, and then exhausted by a long and difficult march culminating in the slaughter at Agincourt. Henry thus withdrew from the continent on 16 November. Less than a year later, on 15 August 1416, Henry’s eldest brother the Duke of Bedford defeated a Franco-Genoese fleet in the Channel in a battle near Harfleur, capturing three of the enemy’s eight carracks in the process.[xvii] On 25 July 1417 the Earl of Huntingdon won another important naval battle in the Bay of the Seine, capturing a further four Genoese carracks and effectively winning control of the sea for the English, clearing Henry’s supply lines for a second invasion.[xviii] The French nation was soon at its weakest point. Invaded by the Duke of Burgundy, with Charles VI increasingly delusional, the death of his elder sons left only the seventeen year-old Dauphin, Charles, as heir to the throne.

 

The Treaty of Troyes, 21 May 1420, as ratified by the Estates-General, proclaimed Henry V Lancaster, and his heirs, as inheritors of the throne of France.

 

Henry took advantage of this situation to land another army in 1418. Henry maintained negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy to arrange for the return of the territory ceded to Edward III by the Treaty of Bretigny (1360), however, the Duke was himself negotiating with the Dauphin in opposition to Henry, and, although progress was being made, the Duke was assassinated by the Dauphin’s men in 1419. The Duke’s successor, Phillip, Count of Charolais, now changed sides to support Henry’s claim and a treaty between the two was concluded at Arras, with Henry, Gloucester, and Clarence, meeting the Duke at Troyes.[xix] Henry’s marriage to Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine of Valois, soon followed, and upon entering Paris the Estates-General ratified the treaty of Troyes. Henry left Paris under guard of the Duke of Exeter and departed to suppress the Dauphin, whose supporters rejected Henry’s claim.

 

1422.jpg100yearswarphase3.jpg

1422map.jpg

The conquests of Henry V & English holdings and alliances in France after the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, & European political map c. 1422

 

Henry VI, engraving, c. 18th century.

 

Henry V died on 31 August 1422 and hardly two months later Charles VI was dead, leaving the combined Anglo-Franco crown to nine month old Henry VI.[xx] The Kingdom was placed under a regency headed by Henry VI’s oldest uncle, the Duke of Bedford, while responsibility for England went his youngest uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. The Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, would act as Henry VI’s tutor. The English military was led by able generals, including the Earls of Somerset, Warwick, Salisbury, Suffolk, Arundel and knights including Sir John Talbot and Sir John Fastolf.[xxi] Meanwhile Catherine, Henry V’s widow, married Sir Owen Tudor and with him had two sons, Edmund, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper, the Earl of Pembroke.

 

John of Lancaster, the Duke of Bedford, Regent to Henry VI. Humphrey, his brother, Duke of Gloucester, & Henry Beaufort the Bishop of Winchester, son of John of Gaunt, Henry VI’s tutor. Although Henry VI was crowned King of France in Paris on 16 December 1431, the Dauphin, who by then had been crowned Charles VII, continued to fight a determined campaign to oppose the English and their Burgundian allies.

 

Bedford continued the conquest of France, winning the decisive battle at Verneuil, 17 August 1424.

 

Although final victory was within sight, a poorly timed campaign by the Duke of Gloucester against Holland and Brabant diverted forces that should have been sent to support Bedford and he was forced to return to England, where he discovered further disunion. The Bishop of Winchester had consolidated power around himself. As a result of these affairs, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany began to withdraw their support for England. In France in 1426, meanwhile, the Count of Donois succeeded in raising Warwick’s siege of Montargis, signalling the beginning of a series of reversals that within thirty years would lead to England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War.

 

Orleans in 1428-9, by Anatole France. 

 

In 1428 Bedford despatched the Earl of Salisbury to lay siege to Orleans. Realizing that Orleans would become the focal point of resistance to the English invasion (similar in significance to Verdun nearly a half millennium later), the Dauphin rushed in reinforcements. Salisbury was killed by a cannon ball during the siege and replaced by Suffolk. Sir John Fastolf was able to reinforce the English, despite intervention by Dunois.

The Duke of Burgundy, the alliance with England slipping as a result of a disagreement with Bedford, recalled his forces from the siege and thus dramatically weakened the English position. The timely arrival of Joan of Arc invigorated the French forces, and Suffolk was captured in a side-action. The English were successfully expelled from Orleans, an operation that was complete by 8 May 1429. The English forces remaining were under the command of Fastolf, Scales and Talbot who now hastened their retreat, the latter two were captured, and Fastolf was stripped of his knighthood for cowardice.

 

Joan of Arc enters Orleans, by Jean-Jacques Scherrer, 1887.

 

map14a

France in 1430, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

 

The Dauphin Charles now hastened to Rheims, chasing the English as they fled before him, and was there crowned Charles VII on 17 July 1429, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Troyes from the French perspective. Militarily the war was not yet over, and Bedford was able to prevent Charles from regaining the capital. Bedford now invested Henry VI with the crown of France.

 

charlesVII

Phillip III, the Good, Duke of Burgundy. & Charles VII of France, painted by Jean Fouquet, c. 1445 – 1450.

The Burgundian capture and ransom of Joan of Arc to the English was a minor coup, although her witchcraft trial and execution only served to martyr the French heroine. Bedford’s position in France was weakening, his credit reserves nearly exhausted, and with his allies turning against him, he died on 14 September 1435. Eight days later Charles VII, King of France, and Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, signed the Treaty of Arras, sealing the fate of Bedford’s decades long struggle to complete his brother’s conquest of France.

Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester quickly consolidated power, only for the Duke of York to slip through their fingers and emerge as the Protector of the Kingdom. When York returned to France he found that Paris had turned against England, and Burgundy was laying siege to Calais. Gloucester raised the siege of Calais, and Talbot was promoted Earl of Shrewsbury. York’s continuation of Bedford’s policy was noble, but the cause was lost, the nail in the coffin symbolized by the death of Warwick, the Lieutenant of France, in 1439. Richard Duke of York arranged a truce with Burgundy, and in 1443 the Earl of Suffolk began negotiations with Charles VII. These laudable acts of diplomacy resulted in the Treaty of Tours, 28 May 1444, by which Henry VI would marry Margaret of Anjou, a Princess descending from ancient Frankish crusading families whose father was titular King of Naples and of the Templar kingdom of Jerusalem. Henry and Margaret were married on 23 April 1445, ensuring the maintenance of peace until 1446.[xxii]

 

Margaret of Anjou, who, by her marriage to Henry VI (24 years-old) as a result of the Treaty of Tours in May 1445, became Queen of England at the age of 15. Reproduced here in George Goodwin, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011).

 

caen

Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, negotiating his surrender at Rouen, 1449 & the Siege of Caen, 1450, from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Reproduced in George Goodwins, Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 (2011). Cannons notable.

 

With the crown unable to bankroll the cost of maintaining England’s position in France, Somerest, the new Lieutenant of France, had the disappointing duty of overseeing the collapse of the war effort as the half century approached. The French invaded and conquered Normandy, although Somerset was allowed to withdraw to Harfleur after he arranged to pay 56,000 crowns in ransom for his surrender at Rouen.[xxiii] Cherbourg fell in December 1450, and then Dunois led the inevitable invasion of English Gascony. This string of victories reasserted the status quo as established by the conquests of Charles V eighty years prior.

 

Castilon.jpg

The death of John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, at Castillon, 17 July 1453, illustrated manuscript by Martial d’Auvergne (c. 1493). Note presence of cannons. With the English now retaining only Calais, this battle finalized England’s defeat in the Hundred Years War. Constantinople had fallen to the Turks only a month before on 29 May. 387 years had passed since King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings.

 

oldmen

 

france_1453.jpg

Paris 1460.jpg

National consolidation: France in 1453, when only Calais remained in English possession, & cosmopolitan Paris in 1460.

 

Part Two: Wars of the Roses, Lancaster & York, 1453 – 1485 

London2

Illustration of London from Charles d’Orleans poetry, c. 1450 – 1500, looking west from the Tower towards the customs house and London Bridge. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999).

 

France Map2

map10

France, with York & Lancastrian estates in England between 1455 – 85. England during the Wars of the Roses. Map of English Counties, & Landholdings of the principal noble families of England and Wales in c. 1450, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

lecture

readinghernyVIadmin

Book printing, literacy, and the legal system all flourished during Henry VI’s reign. Note the number of clerks processing legal writs. Based on Gutenberg’s movable type press, mass publication spread from Bravia, where it was invented in the 1450s, to Nuremberg, Cologne, Paris, Venice, and Rome, before reaching London around 1470. Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian epic Le Morte D’arthur appeared post-humously on 31 July 1485, published by Claxton’s press. The feudal era in Britain was thawing as Humanism spread from the Renaissance in Italy and Flanders.

 

Cloth exports surpassed wool as pastoral commodities were purchased for textile production. England’s textile craft industry heralded a rise in living standards for the artisanal class and was tightly controlled by the English crown.

 

Stages of medieval cloth production; agrarian decline leads to rise in pastoralism. Sheep rearing, wool shearing, weaving on the loom, dyeing, tailoring, and sale of the finished products at market.

 

markets

Despite frequent markets across Great Britain, Wales in the west and Yorkshire in the north remained relatively sparsely populated. Populations were concentrated in the London area and in coastal townships dotting the English coast; from Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce (2002).

 

street

market

prices2

prices1

Over all currency deflation in this period caused by peak silver conditions in Europe, combined with the introduction of gold as a specie supplement, conspired to keep wages low, despite labour scarcity resulting from the Black Death (1347-51). Wages and prices remained remarkably stable from the reigns of Richard II to Richard III, as the nation slowly grew and its war-debt  was repaid over the course of a century. Note price inflation in the 1431-40 decade, when England was financing distant siege operations and ultimately losing the war in France. Commodities were sold cheaply but in bulk, and merchants were getting rich on export trade. Life expectancy remained low while the wealth and power of the landed nobility increased until the largest land and title holders determined the fate of kings. See, Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: the People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale University Press, 2013), p. 266-8. Diagrams from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century (1993), p. 383 et seq

 

armour

Blacksmithing & armouring in the 14th and 15th centuries

The cost and complexity of warfare continued to increase. The proliferation of gunpowder weapons and increase in cost and sophistication of body-armour was beginning to revolutionize battle. The immense expense of a century of warfare had accumulated to the point that Henry VI, after the loss of Castillion, had no choice but to recognize defeat in France. The national debt had grown to the figure of £372,000, an immense sum, considering that Henry V’s pre-invasion income amounted to only £55,700 per annum.[xxiv]

French, Italian or Gothic-type full-plate men-at-arms and knight’s armour, popular between 1450-1500.

Late 15th c. organ-gun and cannon. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 7.31. Burgundian-type cannons, including organ guns, were popular in Flanders and with Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The Duke had deployed large siege trains during his disastrous Swiss campaign of 1476.

 

Illustration of the Battle of Grandson, made c. 1515

 

Cannons had first been introduced into European arsenals in the middle of the 14th century. Over the following century the European monarchs accumulated a variety of handguns, arquebuses, field guns and siege cannons. At Castillon in July 1453, French artillery had outranged John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and inflicted a disastrous defeat for the English that effectively terminated the Hundred Years War. Seventy-two years later at the battle of Pavia in 1525, pike, field cannon and the arquebus had become the decisive instrument in battle.

 

The Wars of the Roses occurred during a transitional phase in Europe’s military history. New weapons, such as handguns and field cannon, and rediscovered tactics, such as pike and halberd formations, reduced the importance of heavy cavalry and emphasized the renewed importance of mobile infantry. Battle of Pavia tapestry woven in Brussels, c. 1528-31.

 

Wars of the Roses Genealogy, the descendants of the Henry V

 

map11

Castles of England and battles of the Wars of the Roses, from E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century.

 

Richard Plantagenet, the son of Anne Mortimer (great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp) and Richard Earl of Cambridge. As Duke of York, Richard had claim to the throne through Edward III’s line from his second son Lionel, Duke of Clarence. In Ireland, the star of York was rising as Somerset’s was falling in Normandy.

Richard’s father, the Earl of Cambridge, had been executed at the order of Henry V for charge of treason as a member of the Southampton plot of 1415. Richard’s descent from Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, made his claim to the throne more immediate than Henry VI’s, whose grandfather Henry Bolingbroke was descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. Richard’s interests were advanced by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Salisbury and by the Earl of Warwick, both of the family Neville. For its part the Lancastrian claim was generally supported by the Earls of Westmoreland, Shrewsbury and Northumberland, and by the Duke of Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter, and the Duke of Buckingham.[xxv]

 

Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, father of Richard, 6th Earl of Salisbury.

neville

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 6th Earl of Salisbury, the Kingmaker. 16th c.

 

In 1452 Richard, eager to assert his claim and with his power solidified, led an army against London where he was met by the King. Unsupported by Warwick and Salisbury, on this occasion, Richard was dismissed by the King and forced to retreat to Wigmore on the border of Wales. Richard did not have to wait long, as the death of Shrewsbury and the final loss of Gascony in 1453 weakened the crown such that in 1454 Henry was forced to agree to concessions and promote Richard to Lieutenant of the Kingdom, a power soon confirmed by Parliament.[xxvi] Resistance from the Lancastrian faction was crushed by Warwick and Salisbury on 22 May 1455 at the First Battle of St. Albans. Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy the Earl of Northumberland, and the Earl of Stafford were all slain.

 

First Battle of St. Albans, 22 May 1455, York in red, Lancaster in blue.

This was such a disaster for the Lancastrian forces that Henry VI was forced to agree to all of York’s demands, which effectively amount to his promotion to Protector of the Realm, until the coronation of Edward, the Prince of Wales. Although Henry, with Margaret’s support, was able to moderate Richard’s power, the Duke of York’s claim was now too strong to be realistically opposed.

The Queen, established in Cheshire, and supported by the new Duke of Somerset, rallied support to her cause.[xxvii] Warwick, however, with the fleet now unified under his command, landed at Sandwich in Kent with a force led by Sir John Blount and Andrew Trollop. Warwick reached London on 21 September and made his start towards Ludlow where he was to rendezvous with Salisbury and Edward, the Earl of Marche, son of Richard of York.

Margaret summoned Lord Stanley to raise his force and join the King who was at Eccleshall Castle. The Lancastrian army on this occasion was led by James Touchet, Lord Audley, supported by Lord Dudley, although nominally under the authority of the Prince of Wales. This force was to intercept Salisbury before he could join forces with York or Warwick. Salisbury had with him between 3,000 – 4,000 men, mainly spearmen and some cannon, and was outnumbered by Audley with between 6,000 – 12,000, including quality archers but also many conscripts.[xxviii] Salisbury, in a strong defensive position supported by cannon, won a victory over Audley at Blore Heath on 23 September 1459, in which 2,000 Lancastrian soldiers were killed and Audley himself was overtaken and slain.

 

Blore

Battle of Blore Heath, 23 September 1459

 

This was sour news for Margaret, although the sting of defeat was somewhat lessened when Salisbury left his cannon on the field and withdrew, the cannon captured shortly afterwards by Margaret’s main force, as were Salisbury’s sons, Thomas and Sir John Neville.

Salisbury nevertheless made his connection with Warwick at Ludlow, where the Duke of York was scheduled to join them. Already assembled were the Earls Somerset, Northumberland, with Lords Buckingham, Egremont, Exeter, Devon, Arundel, Shrewsbury, Wiltshire and Beaumont.[xxix] The Yorkist force perhaps numbered as many as 25,000 men, about half the size of the Royal army’s 40,000 – 60,000. York was further frustrated by the defection of a number of his Calais veterans, in particular Sir Andrew Trollop.[xxx]

York, Warwick and Salisbury, recognizing the weakness of their position, deserted their army on 13 October and fled, leaving Ludlow Castle, along with Richard’s wife the Duchess Cecily Neville, to be captured by the Royal force. York fled once again to Ireland. Warwick, March and Salisbury had by November retired to Calais where they began a campaign of piracy against the lucrative Channel wool and textile trade. On 20 November Margaret arranged for a Parliament at Coventry, in which all the Yorkist commanders were declared guilty of high treason. Somerset sailed with a small force to harass Warwick and impose an embargo on Calais and succeeded in capturing a castle near Calais, although Warwick captured the new Lord Audley, and Humphrey Stafford, in the process.[xxxi] Over the winter Lord Rivers assembled a fleet to invade Calais, but on 15 January Sir John Dynham raided Sandwich and captured Rivers and his ships, hauling them off to Calais, another demonstration of the importance of sea control during the 15th century.

In March 1460 Warwick sailed to Ireland to join with York, while Somerset made another effort to capture Calais, but was defeated at Newham Bridge. Pressure was maintained on the Yorkist forces when the Duke of Exeter was made Admiral of England and given fifteen ships. On 25 May he sailed to intercept Warwick but was unsure of the loyalty of his men and so put in at Dartmouth, leaving the channel to Warwick, lately returned to Calais. In June Warwick raided Sandwich and captured the entire Lancastrian fleet (see N. A. M. Rodger, Safeguard of the Sea, p. 153). On 26 June Warwick, Salisbury and March, with 2,000 men, landed at Sandwich and on the 27th entered Canterbury. On 2 July London threw open its gates to the Yorkist force.

Warwick marched north with an entourage that included Lord Fauconberg, Edward Earl of March, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishops of Ely, Exeter, Rochester, Lincoln and Salisbury, and the papal legate Coppini – who carried a letter from Pope Pius II urging Henry VI to accept the Yorkist demands.[xxxii] Salisbury, Cobham and Wenlock, with 2,000 men, were left in London to finish the siege of the Tower.

Rome

Rome in the 15th century. Papal intervention attempted to moderate the conflict, evidence of ongoing international diplomacy.

 

Henry VI marshalled his forces under the Duke of Buckingham, and then departed to march on Northampton. The Royal army blocked the road from London with their cannon and prepared other defensive measures in anticipation of Warwick, who promptly arrived at Northampton on 10 July. Warwick attempted to bargain with Henry through the Bishop of Salisbury and papal legate Coppini, but was rebuffed. Warwick’s force was double the size of the King’s, who is said to have marshalled 20,000 men, but did not receive the full reinforcements he expected.

Edward, Earl of March, led Warwick’s vanguard, supported by Lord Scrope, with Fauconberg in the rear. Lord Grey de Ruthin commanded Henry’s vanguard, but had been promised concessions if he were to desert and join Warwick. In the event the Royal cannon were inundated with rain and so rendered useless, although the Lancastrian archers inflicted many casualties.[xxxiii]

 

Battle of Northampton, 10 July 1460

 

Lord Grey’s treachery and the loss of several thousand men in battle was a blow to the Lancastrian war effort. Lord de la Warre and the Earl of Kendal switched sides, joining the Yorkist cause.[xxxiv] The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lords Beaumont and Egremont and Sir William Lucie were all slain, while the Royal Personage, Henry VI himself, was captured. Proceeding to Westminster, Warwick, with Henry VI in tow, entered London on 16 July and soon forced Lord Scales to surrender the Tower, during which that Lancastrian commander was captured and murdered while attempting escape.

Queen Margaret, with her young son Edward, escaped to Wales where they met Jasper Tudor at Harlech Castle. From there Maragret proceeded to Denbigh Castle where she was joined by Exeter and Pembroke. She wrote to Somerset and Devon to raise an army, while she sailed to Scotland to meet with Queen Mary of Gueldres, who was sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause and made arrangements for the Earls Douglas and Angus to support Margaret.

York now returned from Ireland, landing near Chester in Wales on 8 September 1460. He collected his wife, the Duchess Cecily, who had been freed after the Battle of Northampton. Together they marched to London and arrived on 10 October, in time for the meeting of Parliament. Although Parliament approved further concessions they did not completely endorse Richard’s claim to the throne.

By the Act of Settlement (“of Accord”) of 24 October 1460, Henry VI was to remain as King, although power of governance was completely vested in the Duke of York, who, or his sons, it was determined, would inherit the kingdom upon Henry VI’s death. The attainders against York were reversed, he was made Protector of England, while Lord Bourchier was made Treasurer and Warwick’s brother George was made Bishop of Exeter and Chancellor.[xxxv]

Margaret was naturally infuriated by these developments and soon marched south to join with her allies. Her army when it reached Yorkshire numbered 20,000, under the generalship of Somerset, Northumberland, Devon, Exeter and Clifford. Margaret issued a challenge to Richard to settle his claim by force of arms.

York, raiding the Tower Arsenal for cannon to take with him and with about 5,000 – 6,000 men, left Warwick in charge of the capital and hastened out of London on 9 December with his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the Earl of Salisbury, to confront Margaret.

 

Sandal Castle

sandal_castle_plan

Sandal Castle, a traditional holding of the York family, granted from Edward III to Lionel of Antwerp, reputed to be both formidable and luxurious.

Richard’s force is said to have swollen to 12,000 when he arrived at Sandal Castle on 21 December, although this, like most military figures for the period, is likely an exaggeration. York most likely intended to await the arrival of his son Edward with reinforcements. The Lancastrians however deployed a significantly larger force, increased by the desertion of Lord Neville with 8,000 men who joined Margaret.

Outnumbered and with supplies dwindling, Richard, for reasons that have never been completely explained, rode from the castle with his vanguard and was immediately surrounded by the Lancastrians.[xxxvi] The Duke of York, 50 years of age, and 1,000 – 2,000 of his men, including Sir Thomas Neville, Sir Thomas Parr and Sir Edward Bourchier, were therefore destroyed at the Battle of Wakefield, 30 December 1460. Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was handed over to Lord Clifford, who murdered him.[xxxvii] Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, was captured and executed.[xxxviii]

 

Battle of Wakefield, by Graham Turner for Osprey©, where Richard of York met his demise on 30 December 1460.

The death of Salisbury, Warwick’s father, resulted in Warwick inheriting that wealthy Earl’s land, effectively doubling the size of Warwick’s holdings and making him by far the wealthiest man in the Kingdom. Edward, the 18 year-old Earl of March, now inherited his father’s title as Duke of York, making him heir to the throne by the Act of Accord. Edward’s brothers, George and Richard, were sent to Burgundy to live under the protection of Duke Phillip, although the widowed Duchess of York remained in London.[xxxix]

Margaret, who had wintered in Scotland and signed an agreement with Queen Mary by which Edward the Prince of Wales was to be married to Mary’s daughter, Margaret Stewart, now despatched Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, alongside James Butler, Earl of Whiltshire, and Sir Owen Tudor, to defeat Edward while she took the main force to London to confront Warwick.

 

Second Battle of St. Albans, Henry VI is re-captured by the Lancastrian forces in their greatest victory.

 

At the Second Battle of St. Albans, 17 February 1461, Margaret’s force, led by Exeter, Somerset, Devon, Shrewsbury, Northumberland, Clifford, Grey, Roos, and Sir Trollop, defeated Warwick’s army, led by Norfolk, Suffolk, Arundel, Lords Fauconberg, Bourchier and Bonville. Warwick’s army included 500 Burgundian archers, various mercenaries, crossbowman and indeed some handgunners firing ribaudkins in addition to a few cannon.[xl] Prior to the battle Sir Henry Lovelace, who had been Warwick’s steward and in command of his vanguard but had promised his loyalty to Henry VI, deserted the Yorkists. Falling snow negated Warwick’s advantage in gunpowder (although not in archers, who inflicted many casualties on the Lancastrians), and the King was re-captured by Margaret while Warwick was forced to flee. A number of Warwick’s supporters were captured and executed, including Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriell. With Richard of York slain at Wakefield, and Warwick defeated at St. Albans, the Lancastrians were riding on a swell of victory, however, this good fortune was to prove illusionary.

 

Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, 2 February 1461, Edward Duke of York destroys Pembroke and Owen Tudor’s army and clears the route to London.

 

Richard Plantagenet’s eldest son Edward, now the Duke of York, with Lord Audley, Sir William Herbert, Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Grey de Wilton, Lord FitzWalter and Sir William Hastings, with a force of 5,000 had meanwhile, on 2 February, destroyed Pembroke and Whiltshire’s Lancastrian army of between 4,000 – 8,000 at Mortimer’s Cross. Although Pembroke and Whiltshire escaped, Owen Tudor – the old husband of Catherine Valois – was captured and beheaded.[xli] While Pembroke fled to France, Henry Tudor, grandson of Owen Tudor and son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, was deposited at Pembroke Castle and later captured by the Yorkists, being subsequently imprisoned at Raglan Castle.

Edward of York advanced from his victory against Pembroke and collected Warwick at Oxfordshire with his remaining force of 4,000 on the 19th of February. Edward was able to stay ahead of Margaret in the race to the capital. The Lancastrian army was short on money and victuals and therefore withdrew, leaving London open to Edward. This was a decisive mistake for the Lancastrian cause as not yet nineteen year-old Edward Plantagenet entered London with his army on 27 February and shortly thereafter on 3 March, with great enthusiasm and church support (for his claim was considered the legitimate return to Plantagenet rule that had been usurped by Henry IV in 1399), was proclaimed King Edward IV.

 

Edward, son of Richard, Duke of York, became King Edward IV

 

A ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey where Edward was presented with the crown and the sceptre of St. Edward the Confessor.[xlii] Warwick, already the wealthiest man in the Kingdom and not yet 32 years old, was now raised to colossal proportions, being made Great Chamberlain, Captain of Dover, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, that is, controller of the lucrative cloth trade, a situation that was formally recognized in 1465.[xliii]

Queen Margaret led a strategic retreat north, continuing to accumulate her army, still under the command of Somerset, Northumberland, Rivers, and Clifford, a force now estimated to be as large as 30,000 – 60,000.

Edward did not waste time and on 5 March despatched Norfolk to East Anglia to raise men. The King left London on 13 March to lead his force, estimated at 25,000, expecting to be joined by significant detachments under Warwick and Norfolk as he set out to confront the Lancastrians.

The total size of the two forces now approached 100,000 men – as much as 2% of the total population of the Kingdom in 1461.[xliv] The Lancastrian force was commanded by the 24 year-old Duke of Somerset and supported by Exeter, Northumberland, Devon, Trollop, and Lords Fitzhugh, Hungerford, Beaumont, Dacre of Gilsland, Roos, and Grey of Codnor. The Yorkist force was commanded by Warwick, Norfolk, Bourchier, Grey de Wilton, Clinton, Fauconberg, and Lords Scrope and Dacre (Richard Fiennes), and the young king himself, Edward IV.

 

towton4

Graham Turner painting of longbowmen at Towton.

 

In a preliminary engagement on 28 March, while attempting to cross a bridge over the River Aire, Lord Clifford ambushed Lord FitzWalter and Warwick, slaying the former and wounding the latter in the leg, although Warwick was able to escape and rejoin Edward’s army. A melee developed as Edward rushed reinforcements to support the crossing but the Lancastrians destroyed the bridge. Edward moved his army upstream and crossed at Castleford. Clifford marched there to block Fauconberg but was outnumbered and the murderer of Rutland was thus slain by an arrow as he retreated.[xlv]

 

towton5

Towton3

Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461. From A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002). Edward and Warwick annihilate a large Lancastrian army under Somerset and Northumberland, & the field at Towton from Goodwin, Fatal Colours (2011).

With lines established outside of Towton on 29 March, in the midst of a blizzard, the two factions confronted each other. The initial Lancastrian arrow volleys were ineffective as Fauconberg’s archers were masked by the snow while being able to recover the arrows fired at them. In turn they launched back effective volleys. With losses mounting, Somerset urged his men to rush in a general melee, which the Yorkists immediately joined, and the butchery of Towton commenced.[xlvi] The outcome of the battle was hard fought, with Edward IV and Warwick fighting on foot in the thick of the action, joined as evening descended by Norfolk’s detachment. Norfolk had arrived at a timely juncture and flanked the Lancastrian position. Margaret’s army fled and was destroyed in detail, Edward encouraged the Yorkists to give no quarter. Somewhere between 28,000 and 40,000 men were killed, the majority on the side of the Lancastrians.

This was a crushing defeat for Maragert. Among those slain were the Duke of Devonshire, Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, Lords Dacre and Welles, Sir John Neville, and Sir Andrew Trollop. The Duke of Somerset, however, escaped the carnage and re-joined Margaret and Henry, who, learning of the devastation, fled to Scotland. Edward IV, vowing to destroy Henry VI, ordered the deaths of 42 Lancastrian knights, and later the Earl of Oxford and Whiltshire, who were both executed, although the Plantagenet king pardoned others including Northumberland’s brother, Sir Ralph Percy.[xlvii] Lord Rivers surrendered himself and joined Edward.

Edward’s party was now riding a wave of victory, having secured the crown and effectively reversed the outcome of Wakefield and St. Albans. Edward thus entered Yorkshire in triumph, where he removed the skulls of his father, brother, and his uncle Salisbury, which had been displayed on the walls of York as a Lancastrian provocation since Wakefield the year before.[xlviii] Edward, leaving Warwick and his brother, John Neville, Lord Montague, in charge of pacifying the north, returned to London on 2 May, from which he prepared to campaign in Wales and reduce the last areas loyal to the Lancastrians. Edward promoted his brother George to Duke of Clarence (who also received Henry Tudor’s Earldom of Richmond) and in 1462 made young Richard the Duke of Gloucester, sending him to live at Warwick’s Middleham estate.[xlix]

Edward IV was formally crowned in Westminster Abbey on 28 June 1461. His symbols of the triple sun and white rose of York were displayed prominently, and he was lavish with his subjects, yet economical in governance.[l] Noted for his proven warrior virtue, enormous gastronomical and sexual appetites – “voluptuous” was what Winston Churchill called him[li] – the young King’s reign was at first generally mild and peaceful, certainly a welcome change from the preceding years of violence and calamity. Edward enjoyed a royal income of £50,000, late in 1461 increased to £80,000 by confiscation of Henry VI’s estates and other properties including the Duchy of Lancaster, awarded directly to the crown. In 1465 Parliament granted Edward lifetime duties on English ports, which brought in another £25,000 a year.[lii] With Warwick, whose income soon skyrocketed from £3,900 to £15,000 a year,[liii] and Fauconberg, who had been promoted Admiral of England in 1462, Edward was in firm control of the seas and reaping great profit from the wool and cloth trade. Edward used these regal incomes to begin repaying the vast outstanding national debt that had worsened under Henry VI. Upon his death in 1483 Edward had repaid £97,000 to London and Italian bankers.[liv]

 

Campaign in the North, 1464. Map 5 from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485 (2017).

 

Although the dynastic war in England now entered a period of relative calm, political developments on the continent conspired to keep the flame of civil strife alive. Charles VII of France died on 22 July 1461 and was succeeded by Louis XI, from whom the defeated and impoverished Margaret now sought whatever support she could gain. Louis’ main political ambitions were to secure Burgundy and Brittany for France, and he perceived Margaret’s request for support as a chance to destabilize relations between England and Burgundy,[lv] thus opening an avenue for French intervention. In England, after spending the early 1460s quashing Lancastrian rebellion, Edward IV had indeed intended to cultivate closer relations with Burgundy, whose merchants controlled the cloth trade throughout Belgium and Holland. Edward IV was a fan of everything Burgundian and in fact modelled his court and army on the Burgundian pattern.

 

Louis3

Louis XI of France

Granted a small force financed by Louis, in exchange for forfeiting Calais, Margaret now sailed from Normandy and landed, after tribulations caused by the weather, in Northumberland, where she began once again to consolidate her position.

Warwick and Edward IV soon arrived with a large army, and Margaret, with nowhere near enough forces to oppose them, was forced to retreat to Scotland. On 24 December 1462 Somerset changed sides by agreement with Warwick.[lvi] In spring 1463 the Lancastrians sallied forth from Scotland to invest castles in Northumberland, beginning with Bamburgh where Sir Ralph Percy opened the gates, and on 1 May Margaret secured Alnwick Castle, where Sir Ralph Grey turned to her side. Again Warwick marched north with an army and again Margaret was forced to flee, now seeking to make her way, with the Duke of Exeter and Sir John Fortescue, to Burgundy where she intended to plead with Phillip for support.[lvii] Although Phillip warily agreed to meet her, and paid her a gift of gold, he could not endorse her efforts and sent her instead to Bruges to be entertained by his son Charles. Margaret eventually traveled to meet her father, Rene of Anjou, who granted her a small stipend of 6,000 crowns per annum, reducing somewhat her financial straits.[lviii] In December 1463 Somerset again defected, and traveled to the Anjou court at Bar where he rejoined Margaret.

In the north Henry VI was rallying his forces, including Humphrey Neville, Roos, Hungerford, Sir Ralph Grey and Sir Ralph Percy, who were then rejoined by Somerset after his voyage to the continent. Sir Ralph Percy, however, was trapped and killed in battle by Montague’s men on 25 April 1464 at Hedgeley Moor.[lix] Montague then rode to York where he met Scottish envoys and with them secured a 15 year truce, another blow to the Lancastrian cause.[lx]

Montague finally caught up with Somerset and defeated him at Hexham, 15 May 1464. The Duke was beheaded upon capture, amongst others condemned by Montagu and John Tiptoft, the Constable of England, including Roos, Robert Hungerford, Sir Philip Wentworth, Sir Thomas Finderne, Sir Edmund Fish, Sir William Tailboys, and Sir Ralph Grey.[lxi] Warwick captured Alnwick Castle on 23 June and Montague was promoted Earl of Northumberland.[lxii]

 

Harlech Castle today. The last Lancastrian stronghold after the 1464 campaign.

Only Harlech Castle in Wales now remained in Lancastrian hands. Edward IV appointed Lord Herbert constable of Harlech, entrusting him with persecuting and concluding the siege of that place, which finally fell in 1468.[lxiii] In 1465 Henry VI, until then hiding in various rebel settlements in the north, was captured and brought to London for imprisonment in the Tower.[lxiv]

 

Elizabeth Wydville (Woodville), wife of Edward IV and Queen of England. John Faber Sr., early 18th c. & from Queen’s College Cambridge.

 

Edward, with the Lancastrian cause crushed and Henry VI once again his prisoner, returned to the pursuit of his pet-project: an alliance with Burgundy. This was an annoyance for Warwick, still the most powerful man in the country, who supported Louis XI of France. Warwick’s power had been encroached upon by the rising Wydville (Woodville) family, to whom Edward was intimately connected through his marriage to Elizabeth Wydville in May 1464.[lxv] In 1466 Edward dismissed Warwick’s uncle, Lord Mountjoy, who had been Treasurer of England, and replaced him with Richard Wydville, Elizabeth’s father, who Edward also promoted to Earl Rivers. This was a particular insult to Warwick, who had once captured Wydville during the upstart’s career as a Lancastrian.[lxvi]

In October of that year, despite Warwick’s opposition, Edward IV and Philip of Burgundy reached an understanding. A number of trade barriers were cleared between the English and Flanders merchants, and certain protections were granted for Channel shipping. These entirely sensible proposals were certain to alienate Warwick, whose income was always supplemented by tacitly acknowledged Channel piracy.[lxvii] In 1467 Warwick hatched a scheme wherein his two daughters, Isabel and Anne, would marry Edward’s brothers, the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester. Edward, wary of Warwick’s effort to gain royal power for the Neville family, continued to pursue his Burundian alliance, at last concluded in November 1467. Philip of Burgundy had been succeeded by Charles the Bold that June. Another diplomatic success was scored the following spring through alliance with Brittany.

This progress with Burgundy and increase of the Wydvilles was deeply frustrating to Warwick, who was still keen to see England allied with France.[lxviii] In retaliation for Edward IV’s support for Burgundy and Britany, Louis XI agreed to finance the Earl Pembroke, Jasper Tudor, so that he could return to England and assemble a Lancastrian army. After landing in Wales Pembroke began his march towards Harlech Castle, intending to raise Edward’s four year-long marathon siege. Unfortunately for the Lancastrians, Harlech fell on 14 August 1468 and so Pembroke’s rebellion was halted before it could truly get underway.[lxix] With Louis XI now openly supporting the Lancastrians, Parliament granted Edward IV £62,000 in 1469 to finance an invasion of France.[lxx]

By late 1468 Warwick, “bitterly vexed” in Charles Oman’s phrase,[lxxi] had exhausted his patience with Edward, and thus began to turn against the Plantagenet King he had done so much to install.[lxxii] Edward continued to purge potential sources of Lancastrian support, and in January 1469 Henry Courtenay and Thomas Hungerford were both tried as traitors and condemned to death. Sir Richard Roos was able to sneak out a coded message to the Earl of Oxford, entreating the Lancastrians to rally with Warwick against Edward.[lxxiii] Warwick, along with Oxford and Clarence – Edward IV’s brother who Warwick still planned to marry to his daughter Isabel – retired to Calais where they could negotiate with Louis and organize their planned coup against Edward. Warwick clearly intended to reverse his decline under Edward by loading the deck in favour of Lancaster – a weak cause he could control. On 11 July Clarence was married to Isabel, and the following day Warwick issued a manifesto decrying Edward’s supporters.[lxxiv]

Warwick landed in Kent on 16 July 1469 and quickly rallied a sizeable force. He marched on London with ease and entered the city on 20 July. Edward was at this time in the north. The Earl of Pembroke (York: William Herbert, ie, not Jasper Tudor) meanwhile, supported by the Earl of Devon, rallied forces to confront a small rebel group led by Robin of Redesdale while they were enroute to joining Edward at Nottingham. Pembroke forced a bridgehead over the River Cherwell and was then joined by Sir William Parr and Sir Geoffrey Gate. Not long afterwards, however, they spotted the vanguard of Warwick’s force approaching. Devon promptly deserted to join Warwick and a battle ensued that the Yorkists were winning, but the tide turned when Warwick arrived personally with his main force and scattered Pembroke’s remaining forces.[lxxv] William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, was captured as a result, and he and his brother were both condemned to death by the all conquering Warwick.[lxxvi]

 

Infographic near battle-site describing the Battle of Edgecote, 26 July 1469.

Warwick’s army caught up with Edward IV on 2 August and in a major coup the King was captured. With Edward IV in his custody, Warwick now attempted to summon Parliament so as to justify his blatant usurpation, but was forced to cancel this summons not long afterwards. While these arrangements were being made Warwick cleaned house, exacting revenge on the detested Wydville family on 12 August by condemning to death Sir John Wydville, and Lord Rivers, respectively Queen Elizabeth Wydville’s father and brother. Warwick’s raw displays of power caused chaos, a situation that was exploited in the north by Humphrey Neville of Brancepeth, who raised a pro-Lancastrian rebellion. Warwick marched to suppress this revolt but in doing so was forced to agree to liberate Edward IV. Edward was soon joined by his loyalists and Warwick had no choice but to set him free, whence the King returned to London. Although the Lancastrian rebellion was crushed and Humphrey Neville captured and beheaded, Warwick’s power had been exposed for what it was – a flagrant appropriation of the King’s authority driven essentially by the Earl’s lust for power.[lxxvii]

Edward pardoned both Clarence and Warwick, but the action during 1469 had destroyed Warwick’s position as the arbiter of the realm. Edward feigned forgiveness for the Kingmaker but wasted little time isolating him. Warwick now had only one card left to play, namely, to somehow depose Edward IV and promote Clarence as King. In the meantime the King appointed his 17 year-old brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to set out for Wales and suppress any rebellion found there.[lxxviii]

Warwick for his part set about fomenting rebellion while maintaining a façade of loyalty. By March 1470 Warwick had convinced Sir Robert Welles to lead a rebellion with the objective of deposing Edward in favour of Clarence, although the rebels themselves were clearly unaware that they were being used as pawns in Warwick’s game, being led to believe that they were supporting the cause of Henry VI.[lxxix] Edward took this affair seriously – it could have been the prelude to a French invasion – and brought his artillery with him to Stamford, where he ordered the execution of Lord Welles, Sir Robert’s father, to demonstrate his intention to quash the rebellion. In the ensuing battle at Empingham the rebels were decimated by Edward’s artillery, and the rebel leaders, Welles, de la Lande and Dymoke were all captured and executed.[lxxx]

Edward, his position now more secure, on 24 March denounced Warwick and Clarence as traitors. The two conspirators ignored Edward’s royal summons and instead made for the coast. Although Warwick’s ships were soon captured, the two outlaws were nevertheless able to depart from Exeter on 3 April.[lxxxi] Warwick and Clarence arrived off Honfleur on 1 May and on 8 June were given an audience with King Louis. Warwick was convinced by Louis that his best chance of recovering his position was through Margaret and Henry VI, who Warwick now agreed to support.[lxxxii] To sweeten the deal, Anne, Warwick’s younger daughter, would marry Edward Lancaster, Henry VI’s son, and in the interim Warwick would become Regent and Governor of England, a pattern that had played out under York and Bedford before him. On 25 July Edward Lancaster was betrothed to Anne Neville.[lxxxiii]

A Burgundian and English blockade was dispersed by storm and Warwick, Jasper Tudor, with Oxford and Clarence, returned to England. Edward was in Yorkshire suppressing rebellion and marshalling his forces when, on 13 September 1470, Warwick’s fleet landed his army at Dartmouth and Plymouth.[lxxxiv]

Warwick quickly assembled a large force estimated at between 30,000 and 60,000, joined by Lord Stanley and the Earl of Shrewsbury. Edward was at this point betrayed by Lord Montague, and realizing he now no longer possessed any chance of confronting Warwick on even terms, the King fled to Norfolk where, on 30 September, with Gloucester and Hastings, he departed for Burgundian Holland. On 6 October Warwick and his force entered London and promptly restored Henry VI, who had been confined to the Tower since his capture several years prior, and proclaimed him their lawful King.[lxxxv] The Earl of Oxford bore Henry’s Sword of State at the King’s ceremonial restoration on 13 October.[lxxxvi] The hated Tiptoft was captured and executed – a trial overseen by the 13th Earl of Oxford – being replaced as Treasurer by John Langstrother.[lxxxvii] Jasper Tudor arrived at Hereford where he liberated Henry Tudor, 13, who was now brought to London to meet Henry VI before he returned to Wales. With Warwick’s powerful support the Lancastrian cause was once again riding high. Edward’s usurpation was declared invalid, and all of the titles issued by him were revoked, including that of his brother Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.

 

Rogier van der Weyden’s c. 1460 portrait of Charles the Bold. Charles was defeated and killed at the Battle of Nancy, 5 January 1477.

Having toppled the pro-Burgundian Yorkists, Louis XI now took advantage of his position and declared war against Burgundy, hoping to drag England along with him. Warwick had no choice but to support the French alliance, which unfortunately for the Lancastrian cause imperilled London’s business interests. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, immediately agreed to finance Edward IV’s return to the English throne.[lxxxviii]

On 2 March 1471 Edward departed Flushing in his flagship the Anthony, and although  supported by a fleet of 36 Burgundian and Hanseatic ships, was denied a landing on 12 March at Norfolk due to the Earl of Oxford’s presence, and so landed two days later at Ravenspur, Yorkshire.[lxxxix]

Edward entered York on 18 March and was soon at the head of an army significant enough to confront Warwick, who had hastened with an army to Leicester. Edward confronted Warwick at Coventry, but Warwick refused to accept Edward’s challenges. Edward eventually withdrew, despatching a covering force to block Oxford at Leicester, who was marching to join Warwick. Oxford’s force was defeated on 3 April.[xc] Clarence, encouraged by Burgundy and Gloucester, now betrayed Warwick and deserted to Edward with as many as 12,000 men.

Margaret meanwhile prepared her army (Fortescue, Wenlock, Morton, and 3,000 French knights) and sailed from Harfleur on 24 March.[xci]

 

Battle_of_Barnet_lithograph

Death of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, 14 April 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript. & 1885 lithograph of Warwick’s defeat.

 

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Map of Barnet from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)

 

Edward marched to the capital and entered London. Warwick’s brother, the Archbishop Neville of York, facilitated Edward’s entry into the city.[xcii] Edward, after restoring himself to the crown, secured Henry VI and departed London with the army, intending to intercept Warwick. The two forces met at Barnet on 1 April, Warwick with 20,000 – 30,000 men, Edward IV with perhaps 10,000. The King commanded the center, 18 year-old Gloucester the right and Hastings the left.[xciii] Warwick’s center was commanded by Somerset, Oxford and Montagu took the right, while Exeter, supported by Warwick himself, held the left.[xciv] Both sides possessed a number of hand-gunners and cannon, with Warwick holding a slight advantage in artillery. In the ensuing battle, in which both Edward and Warwick fought on foot, a highly confused state of affairs developed due to mist that covered the field. Both Oxford and Gloucester won their respective flank battles, while Montague was killed and the Yorkist forces launched a devastating cavalry charge that broke the Lancastrian lines. Warwick, attempting to flee, was overrun and killed. Nearly 1,000 Lancastrians were killed to 500 Yorkists, including Lord Cromwell, Lord Say, Humphrey Bourchier, Sir John Paston and others.[xcv] Oxford, although he personally fought well, had “pursued recklessly” according to Charles Oman, and failed to tightly control his division, which at least partly contributed to the chaos in the Lancastrian lines that produced the defeat at Barnet.[xcvi] The Earl now fled to Scotland, but was captured several years later. He would yet play an unexpected and decisive role in the rebellion against Richard III.

Unfortunately for Queen Margaret the demise of her principal champion, Warwick, was unbeknownst when she landed with Prince Edward at Weymouth, where they were joined by Jasper Tudor (Pembroke) and the Earls of Devonshire, Courtney and the Duke of Somerset. Edward IV, immediately changing gears following his victory over Warwick, left Windsor Castle on 23 April to seek out Margaret and destroy her. After a long and exhausting chase Edward’s army confronted Margaret at Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. Somerset led the Lancastrian army, and commanded the right wing. Prince Edward under Wenlock took the center, and Devon the left. Edward IV commanded the Yorkist center himself, with Gloucester, now Constable of England, the left, and Hastings the right.

 

tewks

Tewkesbury approach from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002)

 

tewks2

Field sketch from A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (2002) & Battle of Tewkesbury, 4 May 1471, from the Ghent Manuscript.

The two armies were very nearly matched, about 5,000 strong, although Edward, who had captured Warwick’s artillery, by far possessed the larger train of gunpowder weapons. Gloucester led the Yorkists forward, developing a heavy fire with arrows and cannon and then feigned a retreat. Somerest ordered a charge but was soon caught in the trap and surrounded. Wenlock refused to move in support and Somerset’s men were destroyed. Managing to escape and return to the Lancastrian lines, Somerset located Wenlock and, in a fit of anger, killed him.[xcvii] Gloucester and King Edward meanwhile led a devastating charge that routed the Lancastrians, leaving 2,000 of their enemy slain on the field.

The Earl of Devonshire and Lord Wenlock were dead, as was John Beaufort, Sir Walter Courtenay, Sir William Vaux, Sir Robert Wittingham, Sir William Roos and Sir Edmund Hampden.[xcviii] The Duke of Somerset was captured and, under the auspices of the Gloucester, beheaded along with a dozen others on 6 May.[xcix] Prince Edward was either killed on the field, or captured and then murdered by the Dukes of Clarence, Gloucester, Lord Hastings and Sir Thomas Gray.

 

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Beheading of Somerset, 6 May 1471, at King Edward’s orders.

 

Margaret was captured by Lord Stanley,  and when Edward IV returned to London on 21 May, she was confined to the Tower. King Henry VI, 50 years old, son of Henry V, his cause utterly lost, was now murdered at Edward’s behest, possibly by 19 year-old Richard, Duke of Gloucester.[c] Whatever happened, it should be noted that in 1484 Richard, now Richard III, ordered Henry VI’s reburial at Windsor.[ci]

Pembroke and Henry Tudor, the exiled Earl of Richmond, were now the last remaining Lancastrian loyalists alive and at liberty, and for this reason they quickly fled to Brittany. Henry Tudor, upon whom the remainder of the civil war now focused, had a claim that derived initially from two sources: his mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the daughter of John Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, descendant of John of Gaunt, and therefore Tudor’s mother was the great-great granddaughter of Edward III. In 1455 at the age of 12 she was married to Edmund Tudor, son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, the former Queen of England and France. Edmund Tudor died in 1456 and Margaret gave birth on 27 January 1457 (at age 13) to Henry, her only son.[cii]

 

London3

Jean de Waurin presenting his book to Edward IV, c. 1470-80. The figure at the bottom left wearing the Garter is believed to represent Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Reproduced in Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (1999). Edward IV’s was noted for his patronage of printing, a rapidly expanding industry in 1470s England. See John Harvey, The Plantagenets (1972), p. 203

In England Edward IV was, for the moment, again triumphant, all his enemies having been crushed or driven before him. Henry VI and Warwick were dead and Margaret, her son killed and his claim extinguished, was imprisoned in the Tower. Edward, joined in alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, now prepared for his much delayed war with France. In 1475 Edward landed at Calais with an army of 1,500 men-at-arms and 15,000 archers. Burgundy did not uphold his end of the agreement, however, and when Edward marched to confront Louis, the latter agreed to terms that effectively paid off Edward, with the promise of money and marriage of the Dauphin to Edward’s daughter. Louis also agreed to pay Queen Margaret’s ransom, and she was released from the Tower and returned to France where she eventually died in 1482. Charles the Duke of Burgundy, for his part, foolishly struggled against the Swiss and then the French until he was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. Louis promptly invaded and conquered Burgundy, a pivotal event in the national formation of France that likewise pushed the Netherlands towards Austria’s sphere of influence. The rump of Dutch Burgundy was swallowed by Maximillian I.

 

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Portrait_of_Maximilian_I_-_Google_Art_Project

Albrecht Durer’s 1519 portrait of Maximilian I, son of Emperor Frederick III, and husband of Mary, Charles the Bold’s only daughter, inheritor of the Burgundian estates.

 

Edward and Richard meanwhile consolidated their power. The Duke of Clarence was condemned to death by Parliamentary vote and forced to commit suicide in 1478.[ciii] Richard, accompanied by the Duke of Albany, invaded Scotland in 1481 and won a decisive victory at Berwick. The final phase of this century-long drama opens with Edward IV’s death in 1483 at the age of 42, leaving his two young sons, Edward, the Prince of Wales, and Richard Plantagenet. Edward, at age 13, thus became Edward V, although not yet crowned, and within three months he was deposed by his Regent and Protector, Richard of Gloucester.

Edward V was protected by the Earl of Rivers, who, at the time of the King’s death, had been campaigning in Wales. Both parties now set out for London, with Gloucester departing York whence he was joined by the Duke of Buckingham. Edward and Rivers were caught at Stony Stratford and, together with Sir Richard Gray and Sir Thomas Vaughan, were arrested by Richard’s authority.

Edward IV’s wife, the Queen Elizabeth, with her supporters and the young Duke of York, fled to Westminster Abbey when Gloucester entered London. The Queen however was soon compelled to turn over both herself and her son, and once these personages were secured, Gloucester ordered the execution of Rivers, Gray and Vaughan, who were despatched by the authority of Lord Hastings.[civ] Richard than struck the Wydvilles and Warwick’s brother-in-law, Lord Stanley, on 13 June 1483. As the purges accelerated Hastings was brought before Richard and condemned for treason, paying the usual toll for that offense. Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Ely, were all imprisoned in the Tower. Edward IV’s sons were soon murdered.[cv]

In the course of a few weeks what effectively amounted to a dynastic coup was orchestrated and, with the support of the Duke of Buckingham, Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III. The deaths of Edward Lancaster, Henry VI, Edward V and his brother, made it clear that Richard would stop at nothing, including regicide, to achieve power. He was soon known as one of the most infamous tyrants in Europe.[cvi]

Richard III surrounded himself with supporters. Lord Thomas Howard was created Duke of Norfolk, his son Sir Thomas Howard, was made Earl of Surrey. Lord Lovel was made Viscount, and Lord Stanley was made Steward of the Household. Buckingham regained several estates and was promoted to Constable.

 

Henry Stafford, Second Duke of Buckingham, by William Sherlock, 18th C.

 

Buckingham, like so many others in this story of civil strife, soon changed sides and vowed to support the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, who was then living under the custody of the Duke of Brittany. In November 1483 Tudor’s party had attempted a landing, with six ships and 390 Breton soldiers, but was delayed due to bad weather and forced to return to Brittany.

On 24 December 1483 Henry was pledged into marriage with the Princess Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, a marriage that would effectively unite the claims of Lancaster and York under the Tudor name. Thus, in his person, after more than a century, the old dilemma of which of the descendants of Edward III would inherit the crown was solved. All Henry Tudor now had to do was land in Wales, gather up support, defeat Richard, and march on London.

Richard III continued his tyrannical regime, brutally centralizing power through the execution of Buckingham, who was confronted by Richard and charged with treason, on 2 November 1483. Richard summoned parliament in 1484 to formalize his kingship, hoping to appoint his young son Edward as Prince of Wales. Edward did not live long, however, and died at age 10 in April 1484.

In March of that year, to prevent another attempt by Henry, Richard ordered Lord Scrope, with Arundel’s son, to patrol the Channel,[cvii] and Lord Bergavenny was ordered to sea in the spring of 1485, likewise with orders to prevent invasion.[cviii] Richard was also pressuring Brittany to turn over Henry. On 16 May 1485 Anne Neville, the mother of Richard’s son Edward, died. She may have been murdered so that Richard could arrange his marriage to the Princess Elizabeth, his niece, upon whom the legitimacy of the Yorkist claims were focused.[cix] However, it is also possible Richard was attempting to foist off Elizabeth on Portugal in exchange for a royal marriage and that Anne died of natural causes.[cx]

 

AnnaRichard

RichardIII

Stained glass depiction of Richard III and Anne Neville from Cardiff castle, & Late 16th c. painting of Richard III. From Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses, (2017), & Richard III and Queen Anne from St. Stephen’s Hall statues, New Palace of Westminster

 

Nottingham2

Castle Nottingham, the stronghold nearest to Richard’s HQ at Bestwood Lodge, from whence he summoned his retainers, prior to marching to Leicester to intercept Henry Tudor.

In the summer of 1485 Richard was planning to raise a force to support Brittany against France, however, Charles VIII arranged a truce with Brittany on 9 August 1485. Richard, expecting a French landing, had been waiting in Nottingham since 22 June. Henry Tudor was on his way, having set out from Harfleur and/or Honfleur on 31 July – 1 August, to land in Wales at Milford Haven six days later.[cxi]

 

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Tudor, and his small but determined and experienced army, landed at Milford Haven on 7 August 1485.

 

Part Three: Battle at Bosworth, 22 August 1485

battles

Battles of the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, loc. 312

 

Armies

Reconstruction of Richard & Henry’s forces, specifying the various nobility brought by each region and including the Stanley’s, who ultimately sided with Henry, but not including Tudor’s 2,000 French & Scottish mercenaries. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 389 et seq.

 

The Forces of Richard III

Anne&Richard.jpgRous_Roll_Richard_III_detail

19th c. etching of the Rous Roll, also showing Queen Anne & original 1483 illumination of Richard III showing the king in Gothic armour.

 

London granted Richard £2,000 for protection of the realm and raised 3,178 men to guard the capital while the King set out to confront Henry Tudor.[cxii] With action imminent, Richard ordered the Great Seal to be brought to him, and so it was delivered on 1 August in the presence of the Archbishop of York – John the Earl of Lincoln – Lord Scrope, Lord Strange and John Kendall, Richard’s secretary.[cxiii] On 11 August Richard was informed of Henry’s landing and the King now issued summons to his nobles to join him, beginning with Northumberland, and including Sir Robert Brackenbury, Constable of the Tower and keeper of the Royal artillery, and John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, plus Henry Vernon and others.[cxiv]

Oddly, until this point, Richard had waited to assemble his army, and instead of relying on the mass shire-levy, preferred summoning veterans he could trust. As he had learned at Barnet, 14 years before, ill-disciplined conscripts could be as much of a burden as they were a numerical advantage. The late feudal system of pay for English levies relied on small groups raised for only a few weeks.

Richard needed only to send out writs of summons and his lords would arrange themselves. Of these major peers, so critical to his cause, Richard assembled certainly seven or more at Bosworth: Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, commanding the rearguard, his retinue in 1475 had consisted of 9 knights, 51 men-at-arms and 350 archers. John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, whose military capacity in 1484 was between 760 – 1,000 men, commanded the vanguard.[cxv] Also present was Norfolk’s son, the Earl of Surrey, plus Richard’s nephew, the Earl of Lincoln, with Francis the Viscount Lovell, Baron Walter Devereux, John Lord Zouche of Haringworth and Lord Ferres of Chartley, the last who in 1475 had raised 20 men at arms and 200 archers.[cxvi]

 

John NOrfolkpercy4

John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, commanded Richard III’s vanguard, the right wing, while Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, commanded the left, rearguard.

Six others may have been present: the Earl of Westmoreland (Ralph Neville), the Earl of Shrewsbury (George Talbot), Baron John Tuchet (Lord Audley), Lord Grey of Codnor – 20 men-at-arms, 160 archers in 1475, Lord Scrope of Bolton – 20 men-at-arms, 200 archers in 1475, and Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham.[cxvii] Individual knights were accounted as anyone owning a single manor, or £5 per annum, to more than a dozen properties valued at £100 per annum, as was the case amongst small barons.[cxviii] These knights and gentry typically brought with them a collection of men-at-arms and two or three dozen archers. The average man-at-arms was paid 12d a day.[cxix]

 

Konradknight

Knight and squire, 1435 by Konrad Witz.

The Stanleys, who would play a critical role in the battle, can also be accounted based on their contributions to Edward IV’s 1475 expedition to France. At that time Lord Stanley had marshalled 40 men-at-arms and 300 archers while his brother, Sir William Stanley provided 3 men-at-arms and 20 archers. At Bosworth it is likely they marshalled somewhere around 1,000 soldiers, arranged in two battles, or sections, each.[cxx]

 

Richard’s household establishment numbered 600 various servants, significantly including 50 picked knights, 108 esquires, and 138 Royal Yeomen (bowmen and archers).[cxxi] These knights comprised Richard’s bodyguard and headquarters and included Thomas Dalande, in charge of tents and pavilions, Sir Robert Percy, controller of the household, and Sir Ralph Bigod of Yorkshire.[cxxii] Sir Juan Salazar, a Basque knight, was in the service of Maximilian of Hapsburg and accompanied Richard as a foreign ambassador.[cxxiii] Salazar may also have commanded a small contingent of Flemish mercenaries.[cxxiv]

 

footman5

Richard’s derived from Yorkshire, Norfolk, and the North. Richard had little time for his summons to be fulfilled after Henry’s landing, and the support of certain magnates, including the Stanleys, was suspect. Henry’s strongest echelons came from Wales, the Midlands, and Oxfordshire.

 

The Forces of Henry Tudor

Infantry2

Henry was joined by John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, in November 1484 to begin planning for the next invasion. Charles VIII, to make the planned invasion legitimate, on 12 May 1485 promoted Tudor to Princeps Anglie, with rank in the French royalty after the Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon and Lorraine.[cxxv]

Charles VIII was eager to leverage Henry Tudor’s claim to negate Richard III’s scheming in Brittany. Henry was thus financed by a grant of £4,400 (40,000 livres) after Charles’ formal entry into Rouen with Henry on 14 April 1485. In the event Charles, strapped for cash, was only able to pay £1,100 upfront and Henry was forced to loan a further £3,300 (30,000 livres) from Philippe Luilllier, Captain of the Bastille.[cxxvi]

The expedition force was soon assembled, the core being composed of nearly 2,000 soldiers, mainly French and Scottish mercenaries. The French-financed and Lancastrian-backed force included a mix of professionals, trained in the Swiss pike style that Charles VIII was to use in his Italian campaigns a decade hence.[cxxvii] Henry also had his share of freebooters, Channel pirates, and hired swords, such as the rebellious knights, Sir Robert Willoughby, Edmund Hampden, and Sir Richard Edgecumbe [cxxviii] Henry’s retinue was composed of the 300 to 500 elites who supported his claim to the throne.[cxxix]

 

Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly

Charles VIII of France.

The most powerful echelon in Henry’s army was under the command of the Earl of Oxford, who was a kind of 15th century English Odysseus. Described by one historian as a “tactical genius” and “wily and experienced” by another, Oxford’s role at Bosworth was of decisive importance.[cxxxi] [cxxx] Following his imprisonment in the Tower during 1468 for suspected loyalties to the Lancastrians, not surprising since Edward IV had ordered the execution of his father and brother in February 1462,[cxxxii] Oxford had in fact, after a pardon granted for a confession, sided with Warwick and Clarence in 1469.[cxxxiii] John de Vere had married Warwick’s sister Margaret, and so his fortunes were intimately connected with both the Lancastrian and Neville causes.[cxxxiv]

footman2

Oxford commanded a wing at Barnet and, after Warwick’s demise, led pirate raids against Edward IV’s shipping in the Channel.[cxxxv] Wounded in the face by an arrow while besieged at St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, he surrendered to John Fortescue on 15 February 1474 and was shortly thereafter imprisoned at Hammes Castle outside Calais. Although imprisoned in relative comfort, the Earl’s fortune seemed to have reached a nadir. In early October 1484 he escaped with the aid of his gaoler, Sir James Blount, so that both could join Henry the following month. Not a moment too soon in fact as Richard’s agent William Bolton arrived at Hammes on 28 October with orders to collect Oxford for re-imprisonment in England.[cxxxvi] Oxford, free again at the age of 43 and with a powerful vendetta against Richard, was now appointed by a grateful Henry Tudor to command the vanguard.

 

maceman

Shortly before Bosworth, Oxford was joined by Sir Gilbert Talbot, Sir John Savage, “that hardy knight” with Sir Humphrey Stanley, Sir Robert Tunstall, Sir Hugh Persall, “with shield and spear” amongst others.[cxxxvii] These were all actually Lord Thomas Stanley’s retainers, who had joined Tudor the day before the battle when the Stanley’s met with Henry at Atherstone.[cxxxviii] These were key reinforcements as Oxford needed experienced captains to take command of his various contingents. Talbot, with 500 men, was given the right, while Savage took the left.

Other late joiners included Sir Richard Corbet, who brought 800 men, accompanied by Roger Acton.[cxxxix] Thomas Croft arrived with a contingent from Herefordshire, John Hanley one from Worcester, and Robert Pointz led men from Gloucestershire.[cxl] Also present were Lord John Wells, Henry Tudor’s uncle, and Edward Wydville, Elizabeth of York’s brother, “a most valiant knight.” Others named in the Croyland Chronicle are William Berkeley, Thomas Arundel, Edward Poynings and Richard Guilford.[cxli]

A Scottish contingent of perhaps a thousand men, primarily longbowmen, was led by John de Coningham, but also included knights, under Sir Alexander Bruce, and men-at-arms under Captain Henderson, son of Robert Henderson.[cxlii] Henry’s Welsh contingent, more than a thousand strong, included Rhys ap Thomas, “with a goodly bande of Welshmen” according to Holinshed, plus Arnold Butler, Richard ap Gruffydd, Rhys ap Maredudd, John Morgan of Tredegar and others.[cxliii]

footman4

Henry was not interested in simply assuming the mantel of the Lancastrians in their essentially lost-cause struggle with York, but rather in uniting both houses under his personal, Tudor, leadership. As a result the Tudor cause became the haven not only for old Lancastrian defenders but also for anyone displeased with Richard III’s tumultuous rule.[cxliv] John Mortimer, one of Richard’s esquires, defected to join Henry. Likewise, Thomas Bourgchier and Walter Hungerford, hostages held by Sir Robert Brackenbury, escaped imprisonment on 20 August to join with Henry.[cxlv] The night before the battle Brian Sandford, Simon Digby and John Savage “the younger” deserted from Richard’s army, with their fighters, to join the Tudor army.[cxlvi] A number of banished clergy and clerks were also present, including Peter, Bishop of Exeter, Master Robert Morton, Clerk of the Rolls of Chancery, Christopher Urswyk, afterwards Henry’s almoner, and Richard Fox, afterwards Henry’s secretary.[cxlvii] From these high-profile desertions it should be clear that Richard’s support was waning even before he took to the field.

Henry and the Earl of Pembroke, for their part, fought on foot, behind the battle line. Henry’s standards were prominently displayed, both the banner of St. George and the Red Dragon of Cadwallader.[cxlviii] While he was still making preparations in France, Henry ordered William Bret, his merchant in London, to purchase six sets of armour, 12 brigandines (mail coats) and 24 sallets (helmets), to provide Henry and his guard with appropriate English armour upon their landing.[cxlix]

 

longbowmen

Henry’s army could have been supplied with cannon by the French,[cl] although his quick moving amphibious force was reliant on infantry rather than guns or cavalry. At any rate, had he wanted cannon, Henry could have raided the Calais garrison, which included 233 guns then under the command of Sir James Tyrell.[cli] Shortly after Bosworth one Sir Richard Guildford, who had traveled with Henry during the campaign, was made master of ordnance, suggesting his probable role in command of whatever artillery Henry did possess.[clii] A. H. Burne pointed out that the rate of Henry’s march slowed after he reached Lichfield, and this may have been from collecting heavier cannon (and other reinforcements) as the army advanced.[cliii] Whatever the case it is certain that Henry’s artillery was far outnumbered by Richard’s.

 

The Approach

roads2

Roads in England, c. 15th century.

The exact location of the battlefield has been a subject of controversy in the historiography. By 2004 the probable location based on archaeological recoveries and historical analysis, in particular of early modern maps, narrowed the probable battle location to a 6 km survey area.

 

The approach of the Tudor and Yorkist armies in 1485. Henry Tudor’s approach (red) from his Calais – Wales landing, Lord Stanley (green) joining him. Richard marches from Nottingham (blue), his forces assembling in Leicester.

 

advance2

Brackenberry marches from London with Richard’s artillery, Howard comes from Kent, and Percy from the north to join Richard at Leicester. Henry lands near Pembroke and is joined by Welsh supporters before arriving at Shrewbury and marching inland. Richard moves to intercept Henry before he can advance on the capital. From Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388

 

On 19 – 20 August Richard moved to Leicester as his force continued to assemble. It was at this time that Henry Tudor met with Sir William Stanley, no doubt to discuss the Stanley’s potential support in the coming battle. Henry’s army, about 5,000 strong, had been marching 16 miles a day (Henry V averaged 14.5 miles per day between Harfleur and Agincourt), for over 225 miles, in the two weeks since their landing.[cliv] Richard’s scouts soon located Henry’s force and reported back to the King. On 21 August Richard marched his army, about 8,000 or 9,000 men, roughly twice that of Henry’s,[clv] to intercept Tudor as the pretender marched down the Roman road just north of Dadlington.

Both sides camped on the night of 21 August. Richard no doubt camped near or on Ambion Hill with at least part of his force. The Stanleys, in all probability, camped near Crown Hill from where they would be well positioned both to observe the battle and decide upon their moment of intervention. The following morning the Royal artillery and gunners were deployed so that they covered the Fenn Lane and approaches. It would be necessary for Henry to fight if he intended to continue his march towards London.

 

The probable battle locations within Leicestershire by 2005, survey by the Battlefield Trust.

 

Advance, Deployment & Contact

approach4

Approach phase map, Figure 8.1 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry (2013), also showing round shot scatter. See also, Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 388

 

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Townships in battle-area where Henry VII paid compensation incurred by his army’s movement, Figure 3.2 in Bosworth, Foard & Curry

 

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Alternative version of the advance by Michael Jones, Bosworth, 1485: Psychology of a Battle (2014). & map by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.

View west from Sutton Cheney Ridge into Redemore basin, & looking north on Redemore from Crown Hill, Stoke Golding, photographs by Glenn Foard.

 

Field sketch by A. H. Burne, Battlefields of England.

 

This battle near Bosworth Market, although completely decisive, possesses an illusive quality. Tudor supporters suppressed information about Richard III after the battle, while Yorkists no longer had any reason to prove their allegiance to Richard through incriminating written documents. What can be pieced together is done so from various contemporaneous historical chroniclers, county records, and fragments of letters.  Analysis of the battlefield, only in the last quarter decade, has added the crucial archaeological evidence. What is known is that Richard outnumbered Henry, although both sides produced comparable numbers of elites, knights and men-at-arms. Richard possessed a large artillery train including a great number of cannon of various kinds, although how much ammunition he had for these guns is questionable. Henry, although outnumbered and lacking in artillery and horses, had the advantage of possessing a more highly motivated and professional army. Henry’s commanders, crucially, proved to be a caliber above anyone willing to support the King.

 

Lord Stanley and his brother Sir William waited for their moment to intervene. Richard III certainly knew Stanley’s commitment was uncertain, most of all because Thomas, Lord Stanley, was married to Henry Tudor’s mother and was thus Tudor’s stepfather. Born c. 1433, Stanley had been made a squire by the time he was nine. The mercurial Stanley changed allegiance with the weather during the civil war. Although he initially supported Queen Margaret, his close family connections with the Yorkists soon drew him into Warwick’s orbit. Stanley supported Warwick when he turned against Edward IV in 1470, but was forgiven by Edward after the rebellion and even made Steward of the King’s Household later in 1471.[clvii] In 1475 Stanley collected 40 knights and 300 archers for the planned French campaign, and later took part in the re-conquest of Berwick from Scotland with Richard Duke of Gloucester in 1482.[clviii] Richard, to insure the Stanley’s loyalty, was holding Lord Strange, Thomas Stanley’s son, as a hostage. Stanley, as we have seen however, had already met with Henry Tudor and in fact loaned him several of his picked knights.

Richard, after deploying his intimidating yet disunited force, delivered a speech to encourage his men. The King had drawn up his army in a long line, with Norfolk on the right, in the vanguard, supported by the Earl of Shrewsbury, on the left, and Northumberland in the rear. The cannon were deployed along the line in their great variety, “seven scores Serpentines without doubt,” and “many bombards that were stout”.

 

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Bicheno’s version of the approach, from Blood Royal

 

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Richard’s potential deployment positions, Figure 8.2 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

The Cannonade and Melee

Appraoch3

Oxford’s opening charge and Richard’s cannonade. Bicheno suggests that Northumberland’s position was along the Fenn Lane road, from where he could screen the Stanleys.

What happened next is perhaps best described in Molinet’s Chroniques: “The king had the artillery of his army fire on the Earl of Richmond [Henry Tudor], and so the French, knowing by the king’s shot the lie of the land and the order of his battle, resolved, in order to avoid the fire, to mass their troops against the flank rather than the front of the king’s battle.”[clix]

At the critical moment Oxford’s compact vanguard developed its oblique attack against Richard’s flank, quickly closing the distance with Norfolk’s vanguard (Richard’s right wing).[clxii] Oxford, as Captain of Archers, led Henry’s left wing forward, approaching Richard’s lines while avoiding the worst of the King’s firepower.[clxi] Oxford’s concentrated longbow and infantry formation would have broken through the flank of Richard III’s extended defensive line. As Peter Hammond and others have pointed out, Oxford’s arrangement of his battle in close order was a continental technique that took advantage of a combined pike and halberd formation learned in France from the Swiss during their wars with the Burgundians.[clxiii]

 

wheelerbattle

A particularly ‘clean’ version of the battle, showing Richard’s position covering the Fenn Lane (Roman road), Oxford’s decisive flank attack around the King’s guns, and Richard’s desperate charge against Henry’s HQ beside the Fenn Hole marsh. Reproduced in Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (2010), Chapter 6, Map 3.

 

For roughly fifty years (1470-1520) the Swiss pike formations  – like massed longbows a century prior – were the dominant paradigm of battle in central Europe.[clxiv] If Oxford, who had every reason to maintain tight control over his force given his experience at Barnet, had indeed formed his lead echelon into such a pike wedge, or similar formation, the Royalists opposing him would no doubt have been surprised by the dense mass attacking in this audacious manner. Whatever happened next, it is clear that Norfolk’s division was destroyed, his men fleeing. Norfolk was either slain in battle, or captured and killed in the ensuing pursuit, possibly by Sir John Savage near the Dadlington windmill.[clxv] Northumberland, either because of prior arrangement with Henry or because he was engaged screening Sir William Stanley, failed to relieve Norfolk in time.[clxvi]

 

Location of battle related finds: artifacts, bullets and round shot, from all eras. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 5, loc. 4050

 

Metal detectorist Simon Richardson, photographed by Glenn Foard, while scanning the Bosworth survey area for the £154,000 Leicestershire County Council and Heritage Lottery Fund archaeological study.

A systematic metal detector survey, using the same methods as deployed in surveys of Towton (1461), as well as US and UK Civil War battlefields, was carried out between September 2005 – December 2010. The survey produced significant findings that firmly located the battlefield in the region Upton – Shenton – Dadlington – Stoke Golding, covering an area roughly 2 kms in size.

Projectiles recovered from the Bosworth battle site demonstrated a mixture of weapons, including guns and small cannon. Gun bullets are counted as those projectiles below 20 mm in size, and of the 251 lead or lead composite projectiles of all sizes recovered, it was determined that most of the smaller calibres originated from post-Bosworth dates, in particular, from a Civil War era cavalry skirmish that took place in 1644.

 

Distribution of bullets, coins and spurs originating from Civil War era, c. 1644

 

Distribution of medieval artillery shot, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Figure 8.4, calibre in mm.

 

The larger projectiles, however, were found to represent ammunition for late 15th century cannon types. Of the 31 projectiles above 28 mm in size, 52% were of solid lead, 32% were of lead wrapped around a stone ball, and 16% were of lead wrapped around an iron cube or “dice” – all types favoured during the later 15th century but prior to the replacement of lead and stone with iron spheres in the 16th & 17th centuries.

 

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15th c. handgunners, from Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, chapter 5.

 

serpentine

19th century drawing of a 15th c. serpentine-type cannon

 

falconetbreech

3D model of a 15th c. Burgundian muzzle-loading falconet, & diagram of 15th c. breech-loading cannon.

 

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Calibre distribution of medieval era round-shot recovered from the Bosworth battlefield. Note the demi-culverin or saker ball at upper right. Figure 7.26 in Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

Foard & Curry conclude, based on the analysis of the larger projectiles, that a number of unique muzzle and breech loading cannon were used at Bosworth, ranging from small 28.6 mm “base” guns, to 35 mm “robinet” guns, also in 38, 43, & 44 mm varieties, 56-58 mm “falconets“, 63 mm “falcons” (there were 31 in the Tower of London in 1495, and Henry VII ordered a further 28 in 1496-7), and at least one demi-culverin firing a 97 mm ball. English cannon from this period were primarily derived from Burgundian models, manufactured in Flanders and Brabant, Calais, and in England proper. See, Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, Chapter 7: Gunpowder Weapons, loc., 4641, 5408-5448 & Appendix One, Catalogue of Round Shot and Large Calibre Bullets

 

The various medieval artifacts recovered from the battlefield, including pendants, straps, buckles, buttons, spurs, studs and other military implements. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013.

 

The 97mm shot recovered. Bosworth, 1485, Foard & Curry, 2013, various figures.

 

archerline

 

A Warrior’s Death

“Every man’s conscience is a thousand swords,

To fight against that bloody homicide.”

The Earl of Oxford, William Shakespeare’s Richard III

 

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Map of Richard’s desperate charge, from Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, (2017), p. 390

Richard, with his cannon ineffective and Norfolk slain, was at this point desperate to secure the support of the Stanleys, but Lord Stanley made no indication that he was going to side with Richard. The King thus ordered the execution of Stanley’s son, his hostage, Lord Strange, although this was not in fact carried out. There had been a break in the fighting, either caused by a feigned retreat from Oxford or as a result of exhaustion after the action in which Norfolk was killed (pauses in battles were common at this time), and as a result a slight gap had opened on Henry’s right flank. It was now that Richard spotted Henry’s standard. Seizing the moment with the commitment of desperation, Richard led a cavalry charge against Henry’s guard.

At Barnet in 1471 Edward IV had won the day despite early setbacks with an audacious charge that Richard had been an instrumental figure in. No doubt also the memory of his father’s demise against insurmountable odds at Wakefield influenced Richard’s thinking at this moment. Richard and his bodyguard slipped around the right-hand side of Oxford’s battle, the flank covered by Sir Gilbert Talbot’s men. Sir Gilbert saw what was happening and attempted to block Richard’s charge, but his men were overrun, Talbot being injured in the process.[clxvii] Richard plowed into Henry’s guard, unhorsed Sir John Cheyne “a man of surpassing bravery” and killed Henry’s standard bearer, Sir William Brandon.[clxviii] Henry Tudor was out of reach, and behind Richard the trap was closed by Sir William Stanley. Pressed back against the Fenn Hole marsh with no chance of escape Richard’s guard was whittled down.

 

knightdead2

The King was at last unhorsed and then killed by a Welsh halberdier, perhaps one Thomas Woodshawe, later a member of Henry VII’s Yeomen of the Guard, or by Ralph Rudyard of Staffordshire,[clxix] or by someone in the retinue of baron Rhys ap Thomas, whose prominent role in the battle was recognized when Henry knighted him three days later.[clxx] One such individual was Rhys ap Maredudd, subsequently known as Rhys Fawr (the mighty), who was recorded as carrying Henry’s standard following the death of William Brandon.[clxxi] Richard’s retinue, including Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Thomas Pilkington, Thomas Gower, Thomas Markenfield, Alan Fulthorpe, William Conyers, Sir Robert Percy, Sir Robert Brackenbury, and John Kendell, were all slain in the fighting.[clxxii] With Richard slain there was now no longer any cause to fight for, and so the Royal army melted away.

In addition to the King and his guard, the Yorkist losses varied from a few hundred to more than a thousand, including the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Ferrars of Chartley. Sir William Catesby was captured and executed on 25 August while Henry was at Leicester, becoming the only senior Ricardian so condemned.[clxxiii] John, the Earl of Lincoln, along with Thomas, Earl of Surrey (Norfolk’s son), and Francis Viscount Lovell, managed to escape, although Surrey and Lincoln were rounded up when Catesby was captured and Northumberland surrendered to Henry after the battle. Some years later Northumberland was killed by an anti-Tudor mob.[clxxvii]

After the battle, Lord Stanley presented Henry Tudor with King Richard III’s crown, and the new King and his army advanced to Leicester with Richard’s body in tow. Richard was then buried at the Franciscan Greyfriars church after Henry VII departed Leicester three days later.

leicester

Greyfriar’s church (circled) in 15th century Leicester, location of the skeleton exhumed from the church ruins, beneath a modern carpark.

 

Skeleton believed to be that of Richard III.

 

On 4 September 2012 an excavation at the site of the Greyfriar’s church in Leicester exhumed a skeleton that was identified, after a battery of scientific tests, as almost certainly being that of Richard III. The skeleton was determined to be that of a 30 to 34 year-old male, who had been living most likely between 1450 and 1540. The skeleton was described by the team of scientists responsible for the investigation as, “an adult man with a gracile build and sever scoliosis of the thoracic…”[clxxiv] The cranium of the skeleton had received nine blows, with an additional two wounds to the body, these latter both being post-mortem blows to the pelvis. The blows to the skull included a sword blow through the back of the head. The scientists concluded that, due to the lack of defensive wounds, the skeleton had most likely still been armoured at the time of death, with the helmet crucially missing.

 

gr4.jpg

Skull of the skeleton suspected to be that of Richard III, showing fatal sword and halberd blows to the back of the head.

The findings suggest that Richard had been unhorsed, his helmet removed or lost, before he was overwhelmed by his enemies who proceeded to stab him to death, careful to leave his face un-damaged for later identification. Such was the end of the last Plantagenet King, that “child of a violent age” destined to become the last King of England killed in battle.[clxxv] Almost 419 years had passed since Harold Godwinson had been killed at the Battle of Hastings.

 

crown.jpg

Lord Stanley presents Richard III’s crown, retrieved after the battle, to Henry VII, copy of 15th c. Castle Rushen tapestry.

 

The Tudor King

HenryVII

Painting of Henry VII by unknown Dutch artist, made in October 1505 by order of Herman Rink, agent of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Note the Tudor rose, combining both Lancastrian (red) and York (white). See also engraving, drawn by J. Robert.

Henry arrived outside the capital on 28 August and was formally welcomed into London on 3 September. On the 15th he summoned Parliament, to assemble on 7 November. Henry then issued a general pardon, on 24 September, with the exceptions of Sir Richard Radcliff, Sir James Harrington, Sir Robert Harrington, Sir Thomas Pilkington, Sir Thomas Broughton, Sir Robert Middleton, Thomas Metcalf and Miles Metcalfe.[clxxvi] Only 29 individuals, including Richard III, were dispossessed by attainder, a relatively low number that stressed Henry Tudor’s policy of reconciliation rather than revenge.

On 30 October Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Tudor married Elizabeth of York on 18 January 1486.

 

lizofyorks

Elizabeth of York, 16th c. copy of 15th c. painting.

 

Spoils were distributed to the victors. Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, was promoted to Duke of Bedford. Sir William Stanley, whose timely intervention on 22 August had in all probability saved Henry Tudor’s life, was made Chamberlain of the King’s Household.[clxxviii] Thomas, Lord Stanley, was made Earl of Derby, and Edward Courtney the Earl of Devonshire.[clxxix] Chandos of Brittany was made Earl of Bath, Sir Giles Daubeny was made Lord Daubeny and Sir Robert Willoughby was promoted Lord Broke.[clxxx] John Morton was made Bishop of Ely and then Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Fox was promoted Bishop of Exeter and eventually Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester. Edward Stafford, Henry Stafford’s son, was returned to his title as Duke of Buckingham.

 

knight

Oxford, whose “adroit leadership” in the oblique attack at Bosworth had made the Tudor dynasty possible, was promoted to Admiral of England and then Constable of the Tower.[clxxxi] Henry VII would now be protected at the state’s expense, and thus the Yeomen of the Guard were created as 50 picked archers to attend the King’s safety. The demise of Richard III was met with international approval and in 1486 Innocent VIII granted Henry VII a papal bull that verified all of his claims. Richard’s former supporters were denounced and demoted, but pardoned, except for the Earl of Surrey and the son of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV’s nephew, young Edward (Plantagenet), the Earl of Warwick, whose existence was dangerous to the Tudor claim and who was therefore imprisoned in the Tower. On 16 June 1487 the Earl of Oxford and Jasper Tudor led the Royal army that annihilated the Earl of Lincoln’s rebellion in Edward Plantagenet’s name at Stoke Field. Edward, the last Plantagenet, was executed, after being condemned on 21 November 1499, by the Constable of the Tower, Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral, Sir John de Vere.[clxxxii]

 

Johnrous.jpg

John Rous (1420-1492), author of the History of the Kings of England, 18th c. engraving from 15th century illumination

 

Jean_Molinet_presents_his_book_to_Philip_of_Cleveschroniques2

Poet and chronicler Jean Molinet presents his translation of the Roman de la Rose to Philip of Cleves, c. 1500. Molinet wrote an important historical Chronique covering the years 1474 – 1504, as published in Paris in 1828.

 

Polydorvergil2Polydor England2

Polydore Vergil wrote his Anglicae Historiae manuscript in 1512, which was later published in 1534.

 

croyland4

crowland2Crowland3

The Croyland Chronicle & Continuations, record of the Benedictine Abbey of Croyland, Lincolnshire, published in 1908. The Second Continuation covers 1459-1486 and is suspected to have been written by John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln. The ruins of the Abbey church as they appeared prior to reconstruction and restoration in 1860. The church today.

 

Holinshed2Holinshed3

In 1548 Reginald Wolfe began work on a universal history of England. The project was finally completed by Wolfe’s assistant, Raphael Holinshed, and published in 1577, & again in 1587. Holinshed’s Chronicles were immensely influential, not least upon William Shakespeare.

 

holbien2

Holbein

Drawing for painting of Henry VII and Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Henry VIII from the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537-47. The original was destroyed in the Whitehall Palace fire of 1698.

 

holbien4

 

London 1620b.jpglondon2.jpgLondon1559.jpglondontower.jpg

View towards London (left) and Greenwich (right) in 1620. Map of London c.1579, made in Colonge & Detail of London in 1559, print from copper plate engraved in the Netherlands. &  Claes Visscher panorama of London, 1616 compared with 2016 view & The Tower as it appears today.

claes1616

Notes

[i] David Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III, Kindle ebook, vol. 1, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., p. 148. Robert Balmain Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471, Kindle ebook (London, 1914)., Chapter 1, loc. 78

[ii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 156.

[iii] Hume., p. 157.

[iv] Hume., p. 160-1.

[v] Hume., p. 163

[vi] Hume., p. 172-3

[vii] Hume., p. 176

[viii] Hume., p. 177

[ix] Hume., p. 186

[x] E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485, The Oxford History of England 6 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)., p. 150-2.

[xi] Jacob., p. 157.

[xii] John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme, Random House eBooks (London: Pimlico, 2004). p. 64-6.

[xiii] Keegan., p. 66-7

[xiv] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 156.

[xv] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 188

[xvi] Charles W. C. Oman, England and the Hundred Years’ War (1327-1485), Kindle ebook (Uckfield: Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1898)., Chapter 10, loc. 1605-39.

[xvii] N. A. M. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998)., p. 143-4.

[xviii] Rodger., p. 144.

[xix] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 191

[xx] Mowat, The Wars of the Roses, 1377 – 1471., Chapter 3, loc. 240.

[xxi] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 197; Shakespeare’s John Falstaff is based in part on Sir John Oldcastle (1378 – 1417). https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Oldcastle

[xxii] Hume., p. 213

[xxiii] Hume., p. 216

[xxiv] Hume., p. 195 & 219

[xxv] Hume., p. 223

[xxvi] Hume., p. 225

[xxvii] Alison Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses, Kindle ebook (London: Vintage, 2011)., Chapter 15, loc. 4034

[xxviii] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4072

[xxix] Weir., Chapter 15, loc. 4149

[xxx] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 227

[xxxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 15, loc. 4225

[xxxii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4372

[xxxiii] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4409

[xxxiv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4439

[xxxv] Weir., Chapter 16, loc. 4554

[xxxvi] Matthew Lewis, Richard Duke of York: King by Right, Kindle ebook (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2016)., Chapter 25, loc. 5185

[xxxvii] Lewis., Chapter 25, loc. 5209

[xxxviii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 229

[xxxix] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4955

[xl] Weir., Chapter 17, loc. 4832

[xli] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 228-9

[xlii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 17, loc. 4992

[xliii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5013; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 565

[xliv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 18, loc. 5050

[xlv] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5078

[xlvi] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5107

[xlvii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5174 – 84

[xlviii] Weir., Chapter 18, loc. 5194

[xlix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5568

[l] Weir., Chapter 19, loc. 5348 – 77

[li] Winston S. Churchill, The Birth of Britain, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, vol. 1, 4 vols., (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1956)., p. 452

[lii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5415.

[liii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 564

[liv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 19, loc. 5425.

[lv] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5540

[lvi] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5675

[lvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 530

[lviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 20, loc. 5780

[lix] Weir., Chapter 20, loc. 5827

[lx] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531

[lxi] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5898

[lxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 531

[lxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 5918

[lxiv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 6032-43

[lxv] Weir., Chapter 21, loc. 5870

[lxvi] David Grummitt, A Short History of The Wars of the Roses (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013)., p. 87-8

[lxvii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 554-5; see also, Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea. A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649., p. 154

[lxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 21, loc. 6167

[lxix] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6226 – 35.

[lxx] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6245

[lxxi] Charles W. C. Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker, Kindle ebook (Perennial Press, 2015)., Chapter 13, loc. 1890

[lxxii] Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 553

[lxxiii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 22, loc. 6293

[lxxiv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6331-41

[lxxv] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6369

[lxxvi] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6379

[lxxvii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6445

[lxxviii] Weir., Chapter 22, loc. 6454

[lxxix] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6504; see also, Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485., p. 558

[lxxx] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 23, loc. 6533

[lxxxi] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6570

[lxxxii] Weir., Chapter 23, loc. 6608

[lxxxiii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 466

[lxxxiv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6737

[lxxxv] Weir., Chapter 24, loc. 6792

[lxxxvi] S. J. Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[lxxxvii] Cora L. Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford,” The English Historical Review 29, no. 114 (April 1914): 228–45., p. 234

[lxxxviii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 24, loc. 6963

[lxxxix] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 6989.

[xc] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7057

[xci] Weir., Chapter 25, loc. 7048

[xcii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 243-4

[xciii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7155

[xciv] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2511

[xcv] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 25, loc. 7203

[xcvi] Oman, Warwick, The Kingmaker., Chapter 17, loc. 2531

[xcvii] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7334

[xcviii] Weir., Chapter 26, loc. 7353

[xcix] Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower (London: Folio Society, 1999)., p. 27

[c] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 245; Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7469; see also, Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 25-6

[ci] Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses., Chapter 26, loc. 7548

[cii] Michael Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?,” in The English Experience in France c. 1450-1558: War, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange, ed. David Grummitt (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2002), 85–105.

[ciii] Hume, The History of England, Henry III to Richard III., p. 249-50

[civ] Hume., p. 254

[cv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 138-42

[cvi] Keith Dockray and Peter Hammond, Richard III From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters & Records, Kindle ebook (Croydon: Fonthill Media LLC, 2013)., Chapter 9, loc. 2007-164

[cvii] Glenn Foard and Anne Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered, Kindle ebook (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013)., Chapter 2, loc. 1019

[cviii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1031

[cix] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 198-9

[cx] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1041

[cxi] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 496; Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1489, 1554

[cxii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 998 – 1071, 1206

[cxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1113

[cxiv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1227 & 4559

[cxv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1323

[cxvi] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354

[cxvii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1354

[cxviii] Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850-1520 (Yale: Yale University Press, 2013)., p. 148

[cxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1196

[cxx] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Joshua Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.” (MA Thesis, University of Huddersfield, 2014).

[cxxi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1426

[cxxii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1437

[cxxiii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1468

[cxxiv] Ralph A. Griffiths and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, Kindle ebook (Stroud: The History Press, 2005)., Chapter 11, loc. 2624

[cxxv] Jones, “The Myth of 1485: Did France Really Put Henry Tudor on the Throne?”

[cxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554

[cxxvii] Stephen Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War, Kindle ebook (Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2018). Chapter 4, loc. 995

[cxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1554

[cxxix] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1521

[cxxx] James Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513) (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2011)., p. 85

[cxxxi] Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and Hte Rise of the Tudors (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 2014)., Chapter 19, loc. 4986

[cxxxii] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”

[cxxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered.

[cxxxiv] Scofield, “The Early Life of John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford.”, p. 230

[cxxxv] Scofield., p. 238

[cxxxvi] Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 82

[cxxxvii] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”

[cxxxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1385; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2564-72

[cxxxix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709; see also, Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. Chapter 11, loc. 2503

[cxl] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1709

[cxli] Henry T. Riley, trans., Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations (London: George Bell and Sons, 1908)., p. 502

[cxlii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1621

[cxliii] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1676; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327

[cxliv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1447

[cxlv] Griffiths and Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty., Chapter 11, loc. 2555

[cxlvi] Griffiths and Thomas., Chapter 11, loc. 2572; http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/holinshed/texts.php?text1=1577_5327

[cxlvii] Riley, Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, with Continuations., p. 503

[cxlviii] Churchill, The Birth of Britain., p. 497

[cxlix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 2, loc. 1532

[cl] Foard and Curry., loc. 4605

[cli] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1510

[clii] Foard and Curry., loc. 4611

[cliii] A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (London: Penguin Books, 1996)., p. 304

[cliv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., Chapter 3, loc. 1963

[clv] Foard and Curry., Chapter 2, loc. 1815

[clvi] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clvii] Michael J. Bennett, “Stanley, Thomas, First Earl of Derby (c. 1433-1504),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clviii] Bennett.

[clix] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2247

[clx] Peter Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2010)., Chapter 6, loc. 1671

[clxi] The Ballad of Bosworth Field, ed. M. Bennet, Battle of Bosworth (Stroud, 1985), p. 155-7. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”

[clxii] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6

[clxiii] Hammond., Chapter 6; See also, Turnbull, The Art of Renaissance Warfare, From the Fall of Constantinople to the Thirty Years War., Chapter 2, loc. 611.

[clxiv] Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution, Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500 – 1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)., p. 18

[clxv] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2501

[clxvi] Hugh Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485, Kindle ebook (New York: Pegasus Books, 2017)., Chapter 33.

[clxvii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.

[clxviii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2343; see also Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.

[clxix] Hammond, Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign., Chapter 6

[clxx] J. Molinet, Chroniques of Jean de Molinet (1474 – 1506), ed., M. Bennett, Battle of Bosworth, (Stroud, 1985), p. 138. Quoted in Appendix 3, Flint, “A New Reassessment of the Importance of Gunpowder Weapons on the Battlefields of the War of the Roses.”; see also, Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1543, 1697

[clxxi] Bicheno, Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-1485., Chapter 33.

[clxxii] Bicheno., Chapter 33.

[clxxiii] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 3, loc. 2611

[clxxiv] Jo Appleby et al., “Perimortem Trauma in King Richard III: A Skeletal Analysis,” The Lancet 385, no. 9964 (January 17, 2015): 253–59.

[clxxv] Weir, The Princes in the Tower., p. 27

[clxxvi] Foard and Curry, Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered., chapter 2, loc. 1396

[clxxvii] Steven G. Ellis, “Percy, Henry, Fourth Earl of Northumberland (c. 1449-1489),” in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008).

[clxxviii] Bennett, “Stanley, Sir William (c. 1435-1495).”

[clxxix] David Hume, The History of England, Henry VII to Mary, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1901)., loc. 125

[clxxx] Hume., loc. 188

[clxxxi] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).” & Ross, The Foremost Man of the Kingdom: John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513)., p. 86

[clxxxii] Gunn, “Vere, John de, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513).”

 

 

Operation Urgent Fury

URGENT FURY

Operation Urgent Fury: Cold War Crisis in Grenada

Prelude 

C14159-28A

US President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy at Andrew Air Force Base, 23 April 1983, honouring victims of the 18 April Beirut US embassy bombing.

On Friday, 21 October 1983, President Ronald Reagan was in a budget overview meeting. Afterwards, the President met with Henry Kissinger and the Commission on Central America. Communist infiltration into Nicaragua was discussed. Finishing up the week, the President departed the White House for the Eisenhower cottage at the Augusta Country Club in Atlanta. With Reagan went Secretary of State George Shultz and his wife, along with the newly appointed National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane.[i] The President was expecting developments in the Lebanese crisis, bright on the National Security Council’s (NSC) radar after the US embassy bombing in Beirut that April

The President turned in for bed after dinner, but was awoken hastily at four in the morning. It was Bud McFarlane and George Shultz. The President had been requested to authorize the invasion of Grenada, led by the United States, and supported by the Dominican headed Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), formed in 1981 and composed of St. Lucia, Montserrat, St. Christopher-Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.

schultz.jpg

Secretary of State George Shultz being updated by satellite phone while staying at the Augusta Country Club, Atlanta Georgia, 21 October. From Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

The US President spoke to Margaret Thatcher by phone on the 22nd and the British Prime Minister requested calm, emphasizing that no immediate military action should take place. For the British government, the twin crisis in Grenada and Lebanon came too soon on the heels of the 1982 Falkland’s war, itself involving a major amphibious operation requiring carriers and assault ships acting against an island base.

C17822-15telephone.jpg

President Reagan at the Eisenhower cabin in Atlanta, Georgia, consulting with Secretary of State George Shultz and National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane early on the morning of 22 October. & Teleconferencing with NSC staff, 22 October.

Discussion and a 9 am teleconference followed, after which the President approved Operation Urgent Fury – the invasion of Grenada – and then went back to sleep.Since the end of American military involvement in the Vietnam war in 1973 and the subsequent over-running of Saigon in 1975, there was a perception that the United States was reticent to utilize military action in a potential conflict. Jimmy Carter had put his presidency on the line over Operation Eagle Claw – the effort to rescue American Iranian embassy hostages in 1980 – and so the decision to intervene weighed heavily on the mind of his successor.

Reagan spent the rest of Saturday, October 22nd playing golf, a normally mundane event punctuated by the incident at the 16th hole: A gunman held up the golf shop, taking hostages and demanding to speak to the President. While he was being escorted away from the country club, Reagan called the gunman as requested, but the man on the phone hung up every time the President got through.[ii] The man was duly apprehended after his hostages escaped.[iii]

At 2 am the following morning, Sunday 23 October, Reagan was awoken again and informed about the Beirut barracks bombing and the enormous death toll, later reports finalizing at 242 Americans and 58 French dead.[iv] The suspects included the Iranians, Syrians, or the organization that eventually became Hezbollah.[v] The killing of so many American marines and French peacekeepers – one-fourth of the US component of the four nation peacekeeping force – came as a shock. This second major attack followed closely on the heels of other United States Marine Corps (USMC) casualties, resulting from sniper-fire and a car-bombing incident against a convoy on 19 October.[vi]

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The President returning to Washington on 23 October.

The morning of Sunday, 23 October President Reagan, Shultz and MacFarlane returned to Washington D.C. Hurried meetings with the National Security Council followed, and it was decided to continue with the invasion of Grenada. Special Operations Forces (SOF) were going in immediately, flown 1,500 miles by C-130s to investigate landing beaches for the Tuesday morning attack.

Before finishing for the evening, the President briefed congressional leaders Tip O’Neill, Jim Wright, Bob Byrd, Howard Baker, and Bob Michel about the invasion, and then took a phone call from Margaret Thatcher, who, again, warned of the potentially negative international reaction to American military action and advised against rushing the operation.[vii]

In the Caribbean waters around the small Windward Island nation of Grenada, nevertheless, an amphibious assault ship and an aircraft carrier battle group – hundreds of thousands of tons of warships – laden with United States Marines, aircraft, helicopters, artillery and commandos, was assembling under the command of Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf,[viii] and Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf,[ix] to overwhelm Grenada’s small People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), and its Cuban and Soviet bloc fighters. Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 120 was steaming steadily towards Grenada. Operation Urgent Fury was about to begin.

SR-71 TR-1

SR-71 Blackbird and TR-1 (U-2), high altitude reconnaissance aircraft of the type used by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to photograph Grenada between 20 – 24 October 1983

CJTF 120, responsible for carrying out Operation Urgent Fury, led by Vice Admiral Metcalf, has itself become a model for joint operations. Meltcalf’s career and resolute decision-making during the thirty-nine hour planning phase prior to Operation Urgent Fury’s execution are now considered a military case-study in leadership during an international crisis.[xiii] Furthermore, the future commander of Central Command, Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, had been significantly influenced by his role as Metcalf’s deputy during Urgent Fury, and thus the otherwise brief campaign in Grenada is of interest to those studying the Gulf War and the end of the Cold War.

This post examines Urgent Fury and its planning, providing the reader with the essential battle-narrative and conclusions required to understand the nature of the conflict and judge why, in a House Appropriations Committee meeting on 26 February 1986, Secretary of the Army John Marsh and Chief of Staff of the Army General John Wickham testified that Urgent Fury had been a great success and, as General Wickham put it, “…a whale of a good job”.[xiv] Likewise, the seventh edition of the Marine Officer’s Guide describes Urgent Fury as a, “coup de main”. On the other hand, Norman Schwarzkopf would later write that, “the coup de main had failed utterly” and Sean Naylor, in his history of JSOC, described Urgent Fury as, “a fiasco”.[xv]

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Maurice Bishop, Revolutionary Prime Minister of Grenada (1979 – 1983)

Ultimately a successful joint campaign, the brief struggle over the future of Grenada is a watershed moment in the history of the Caribbean during the Cold War.[x] The United States was set to reassert itself through a massive conventional arms buildup and a more aggressive foreign policy.[xi] Utilizing a combined force architecture that included Navy, Marines, Army Rangers, Airborne, and JSOC Special Operations Forces (SOF), components, the planning and execution of Operation Urgent Fury should not lightly be dismissed as a brief example of US imperialism or a distraction in some calculated Machiavellian dry-run for a futuristic cold-war doctrine.[xii]

Far from it, the Caribbean leaders outside of Cuba could see where the political situation in Grenada was heading. The US, with historical interest in the integrity of the Caribbean states, especially those members of the British Commonwealth, including Grenada, had a responsibility to protect the islands from internal conflict and their exploitation by the Soviet Union. The United States was requested to enable what the local Caribbean forces did not have the capacity to implement: the capture of the traitorous members of Bishop’s cabinet, and the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) junta who had overthrown the island’s government and murdered Maurice Bishop.

PART ONE

 A Revolutionary Spark

Grenada in 1983 was a favourite tourist destination, only 133 square miles in size, with a population of 110,000. Grenada’s significant domestic product was nutmeg, of which the island produced a third of the world’s supply. Grenada had been a French colony until captured by Admiral Rodney’s forces in February 1762 and then ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Seven Years War.[xvi] Although briefly captured by France during the American Revolutionary War, the island remained a member of the British Commonwealth into the 20th century. In 1983 Grenada was home to more than 600 medical students at the island’s St. George’s University, comprising the majority of the 800 Americans and 120 other foreign nationals then visiting Grenada.

grenadabishopcastroortega

Daniel Ortega, Maurice Bishop and Fidel Castro.

In March 1979 Maurice Bishop’s New JEWEL (Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education, and Liberation) movement, including Colonel Hudson Austin (chief of the Grenadian armed forces), seized power in a bloodless coup, overthrowing the corrupt Sir Eric Gairy. 1979 was a critical year in the Cold War. That year the Somoza family, led by Anastasio Somiza, was overthrown in Nicaragua, General Romero was ousted by a coup In El Salvador,[xvii] and Ayatollah Khomeini returned to head the revolutionary government in Iran.

Fidel-Castro-and-Maurice-BishopCastroBishop.jpg

Fidel Castro greeting Maurice Bishop; The Grenada Papers by Paul Seabury and Walter McDougall (1984).

In Havana, Castro’s Cuba quickly aligned with Bishop’s Marxist government, agreeing to finance the construction of a modern airport at Point Salines on the southern-most tip Grenada.[xviii] US analysts believed this airfield, scheduled for completed in January 1984,[xix] would enable the operation of MiG-23s from Grenada, while also acting as a staging ground for guerrilla deployments to Central America and West Africa.[xx]

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Letters from the New JEWEL government to Yuri Andropov, then the Chairman of the State Security Committee of the Politburo, and the future General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, requesting counter-intelligence training. Also a letter to the Ministry of Defence of the USSR requesting military training. From The Grenada Papers by Paul Seabury and Walter McDougall (1984).

Bishop, despite his revolutionary Marxism, had recently shown signs of gravitating towards the United States, and had met with US officials in Washington in June 1983. Although Bishop then met with Castro early in October, hardliners in Bishop’s cabinet now decided to remove him from power. Cuban and Soviet backed Marxist revolutionaries, led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard and the Leninist General Hudson Austin, placed Bishop under house arrest during the night of 13 October.[xxi]

Spurred by counter-revolutionary broadcasts supporting Bishop from Radio Free Grenada, a mob began to form outside the government run newspaper office. By 18 October General Hudson’s government was in crisis, with five cabinet members, including foreign minister Unison Whiteman having resigned to join the pro-Bishop mob, now more than 1,000 protester strong.

On Wednesday, 19 October 1983, the mob, led by Whiteman, freed Bishop from his house arrest and proceeded to march towards Fort Rupert, the police headquarters, and the entry point to St. George’s harbor. At this point troops loyal to Bernard Coard and General Austin, including armoured personal carriers (APCs), surrounded the mob and opened fire. Bishop and his cabinet were arrested and marched to Fort Rupert where they were executed. 18 people altogether, including education minister Jacqueline Creft and others, were killed.[xxii] General Austin declared himself head of the new Revolutionary Military Council and imposed a 24-hour curfew, in addition to closing the island’s commercial airport at Pearl, Grenville, on the island’s east coast.[xxiii]

coard.jpgAustin.jpg

Bernard Coard, Deputy Prime Minister & General Hudson Austin, Chief of the People’s Revolutionary Army, from the Associated Press newsreel archive.

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Fort Rupert being stormed by the coup forces. Soviet BMP armoured vehicles lead the charge to capture Maurice Bishop, who was shortly thereafter executed by the junta. From The Grenada Papers by Paul Seabury and Walter McDougall (1984).

On 20 October Tom Adams, the Prime Minister of Barbados, denounced the violence on Grenada, followed shortly by Prime Minister Eugenia Charles of Dominica.[xxiv] On 21 October it became known, at an OECS meeting held on Barbados, that the US was looking for a reason to intervene in Grenada, and would be willing to do so at the OECS’s behest. A written request for intervention was thus drawn up,[xxv] and on 21 October, Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, supported by Jamaica and Barbados, agreed to respond militarily to the overthrow of Bishop.[xxvi]

Prime Minister Adams of Barbados formally appealed to President Reagan for US military intervention in Grenada on 23 October.[xxvii] The OECS’s eight point request for information was also sent to the US State Department.[xxviii]

grenadaGeographical map of Grenada and the Grenadines from 1990

Grenada’s Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, had long before requested American assistance towards countering the rise of Cuban guerrillas on the island. Indeed, fighters from all over the Eastern bloc had been arriving in Grenada, including operatives and technical personal from Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Libya, East Germany and Bulgaria.[xxix] Castro, himself a promoter of Bishop’s government, however, refused to further support Austin,[xxx] no doubt concerned about directly confronting the United States over the crisis.

The Cuban dictator did, however, despatch Colonel Tortolo Comas to organize defensive measures on the island. Colonel Comas’ force included 43 Cuban soldiers and 741 Cuban construction workers, many of whom were also army reservists.[xxxi] Comas organized the Cuban fighters into companies to resist American intervention and deployed Soviet quad 12.7 mm Anti-Aircraft guns around the island, also authorizing the blocking of the runway at Point Salines with heavy equipment.

The People’s Revolutionary Army

PRA.jpgPRA strengh.jpg

From Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010). There were about 40 Cuban guerrillas fighters on Grenada, plus handfuls of fighters from the Soviet Union, North Korea, Syria and other Soviet bloc countries. There were 650 Cuban construction workers on the island, many of whom had military reservist training. The PRA was composed of a large battalion of soldiers, more than 450, supported by a small company sized militia.

19 October – 24 October: The Crisis & Planning

The Americans had become aware of the imminent possibility of action on 12 October. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Langhorne A. “Tony” Motley, convened the Regional Interagency Group of the National Security Council (NSC),[xxxii] and Motley informed the representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Colonel James. W. Connally (USAF) – the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division of the Plans and Policy Directorate – that the Pentagon should begin a planning process in the event a US evacuation were ordered and military support required.[xxxiii]

crisisThe rungs of “Traditional Crises” in Herman Kahn’s On Escalation (1965)

This started the ball rolling, and on 14 October the Latin American desk officer for the NSC, Alphonso Sapia-Bosch, got in touch with Commander Michael K. McQuiston, USN, at the Joint Operations Division (JOD), Operations Directorate (J3), who informed Lieutenant General Richard L. Prillaman, US Army, the Director of Operations, who in turn raised the problem of military intervention with the National Military Command Center. A crisis unit composed of officers from the Western Hemisphere Branch of the JOD, an officer J5, and a member of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) were assembled to consider the possible program of operations.[xxxiv]

Meanwhile, on Barbados, the US Ambassador (also responsible for Grenada) began to receive reports of threats to the US medical students on Grenada. The NSC’s Regional Interagency Group met on 17 October to consider the ambassador’s reports, and, during this meeting, Assistant Secretary of State Motley asked Lt. General Jack N. Merritt (US Army), the Director of the Joint Staff, to prepare plans for a military rescue of the students. On 18 October Lt. General Merritt asked Lt. General Prillaman to contact Admiral Wesley L. McDonald (CINCLANT) to consider options.[xxxv] The group met again on 19 October, with Vice Admiral Arthur S. Moreau Jr., Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in attendance.

The Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Caribbean Affairs, Richard Brown, briefed the group, specifically mentioning that at least 600 Cubans, mainly workers for the Point Salines airfield construction, were on the island, and two Cuban vessels were currently moored in St. George’s Harbor. At this point Vice Admiral Moreau pointed out that the JCS crisis unit was working on the problem, and that Lt. General Prillaman was monitoring the situation and in touch with USCINCLANT. It was decided to brief the Vice President (Special Situation Group) and the President (National Security Planning Group) to get authorization for military action.[xxxvi]

800px-Gen_John_Vessey_Jr.JPGJames Watkins

General John W. Vessey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StaffAdmiral James D. Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, 1982 – 1986

That evening Lt. General Prillaman sent Admiral McDonald the JSC Chairman’s warning order, requiring Admiral McDonald to submit plans covering various evacuation contingencies by the morning of the 20th. Readiness Command (USCINCRED) and Military Airlift Command (USCINCMAC) were to be in close touch with USCINCLANT. This planning group now requested DIA photoreconnaissance coverage of Grenada.[xxxvii]

As it happened, USLANTCOM had carried out rescue operation exercises involving Ranger and Marine landings in the Caribbean back in August 1981, and thus Admiral McDonald was able to reply speedily to the JCS, providing a full briefing to the Chairman later on the 20th. The need for higher resolution photography of Grenada, combined with better information on Grenadian forces (believed to number 1,200 regulars from the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), 2,500 – 5,000 militia, and four torpedo boats) was paramount.[xxxviii] It was known from DIA sources that a Cuban vessel (Vietnam Heroica) had delivered Cuban workers to the Point Salines airfield site, and that on 13 October more Cuban ships had delivered arms caches to the island.

Given the unknown nature of possible resistance on Grenada, the Atlantic Command staff recommended two general positions: first, diplomatic negotiations followed by civilian airlift of the hostages, if possible, or, in the event of opposition, the deployment of Marine Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) 1-84 and the USS Independence battle group, both in the process of transiting from the continental United States to Lebanon, with the possibility of a follow-on attack by multiple airborne forces from USREDCOM.[xxxix]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Vessey, now briefed the Crisis Pre-Planning Group (CPPG) of the National Security Council, in a meeting chaired by Rear Admiral John M. Poindexter (USN), the Military Assistant to the NSC (and Bud McFarlane’s deputy). Also present were John McMahan, the Deputy Director of the CIA, and Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State Langhorne A. Motley, the CIA’s Latin American specialist, Constantine Menges, and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North.[xl] This meeting essentially passed the buck up to the Special Situation Group (SSG),[xli] although the lack of intelligence on Grenadian defences was discussed, with the CIA being requested to provide additional information. The CIA, however, had no agents actually in Grenada. Eventually the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was contacted to provide immediate intelligence and, under this authorization, TR-1 and SR-71 overflights took place.[xlii] Although the results of these high-altitude reconnaissance missions were passed on to JSOC, they did not reach the assault force in time for the invasion.

At 6 pm on the 20th the Special Situation Group of the National Security Council was convened by the Vice President. Present at that meeting were Secretary of State George P. Shultz and General Vessey, who briefed Vice President Bush, the Secretary of Defense (Caspar Weinberger), the Director Central Intelligence (William Joseph Casey), the Counselor to the President (Edwin Meese), the President’s Chief of Staff (James Baker), the Deputy Chief of Staff (Michael Deaver), and the National Security Advisor (Robert McFarlane) on the Grenada situation. The Vice President approved an expanded mission including “neutralization” of the Grenadian forces, although both “forceful extraction” and “surgical strike” plans were also considered.[xliii] Both Casey and Shultz favoured an invasion followed by the restoration of democracy, a plan supported by the CIA’s Menges.[xliv]

The timeframe was an issue, as the forces diverted to Grenada were needed to relieve MARG 2-83 in Lebanon, while the naval forces were required for the CRISEX ’83 exercise to be held with Spain. Nevertheless, as evening fell on 20 October, orders were issued to divert the task force.

Combined Joint Task Force 120

At 3 am on October 21st MARG 1-84 started heading in the direction of Puerto Rico, while the CV-62 (USS Independence) group made for Dominica.[xlv] At 10 pm on 22 October orders were received for the entire force to combine near Grenada.[xlvi]

Urgent Fury org.jpgOrganization Chart for Operation Urgent Fury, reproduced from Edgar Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

General Vessey was in contact with Admiral McDonald the morning of the 21st by which time it had been decided to add the two battalions of US Army Rangers and components of the 82nd Airborne Division to the invasion force. Vessey, due to attend a speaking engagement that evening, was briefly replaced by Admiral James D. Watkins the Chief of Naval Operations, to continue the planning processes. By now it was suspected that as many as 240 Cuban soldiers were on Grenada, plus as many as 50 Soviet citizens.[xlvii]

Vessey, about to depart for Chicago, contacted Atlantic Command, Military Airlift Command, Readiness Command and JSOC, instructing them to manage the deployment of Rangers, airborne and special operations forces to Grenada, in conjunction with the CINCLANT naval force deployments, all while maintaining operational secrecy and security. Grenada’s message traffic, being intercepted at the Pentagon, was, at Lt. General Prillaman’s behest, transferred to SPECAT (Special Category restrictions) channels. This was prudent, and helped to reduce later leaks, however, the story was nevertheless about to break: CBS had gotten wind of the Task Force diversion and ran the story on the 21 October evening news.[xlviii] Staff planners from the Rangers, JSOC, and 82nd Airborne were already aboard flights to Norfolk to meet with planners from the USMC, MAC and Atlantic Command headquarters.

Norfolk.jpg23mcdonald_190.jpg

Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia. From Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010). & Admiral Wesley L. McDonald, CINCLANT, October 1983

Meanwhile, Donald Cruz, the consular officer in Barbados, traveled to Grenada to meet with Major Leon Cornwall, a senior figure in the Revolutionary Military Council. Cruz met with the students at St. George’s university, who expressed concern about their situation. Cruz then departed by plane after it was cleared for Grenadian airspace.[xlix] At Bridgetown, Barbados, the OECS convened, and invoked Article 8 of the 1981 treaty, requesting the intervention of Barbados, Jamaica and the US in a multinational peacekeeping effort aimed at Grenada. Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon requested OECS support to liberate the island. These requests were relayed to the US State Department from Barbados between 21 and 22 October.

On the evening of the 21st Constantine Menges and Lt. Colonel Oliver North drafted an invasion order under the authority of a National Security Decision Directive for Reagan to sign. The order was sent to the President in Augusta, Georgia, but Reagan delayed.[l]

JCS.jpgThe Joint Chiefs of Staff, from Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010). Vessey seated.

At 1:30 in the morning of 22 October, General Vessey returned to Washington, and the SSG was convened. At 4:30 am, as we have seen, the SSG phoned President Reagan, Secretary of State Shultz and National Security Advisor McFarlane, who were staying at the Eisenhower cottage at the Augusta Country Club in Atlanta. A teleconference was arranged for the complete National Security Planning Group at 9 am.[li] In that conference, Bush, Poindexter, McMahon, Motely, Menges and North consulted with Reagan, Shultz and McFarlane. By 11:30 am the NSC had reached a consensus decision on intervention.[lii]

The Joint Chiefs had prepared two force packages, utilizing combinations of Army Rangers and other JSOC elements (Team Delta and Navy SEALs), supported by a Marine Corps landing and 82nd Airborne assault. The primary objectives involved capturing the Port Salines and Pearls airfields, followed by capture of the Grenadian capital at St. George’s (including radio station, government buildings and police HQ), the St. George’s medical school, the Grand Anse beach, and then the Grenadian army barracks at Calivigny. All objectives would be secured within the first four hours. The airborne force would then deploy to consolidate and reinforce. D-Day would be Tuesday, 25 October, requiring an action decision no later than 8pm, 22 October.[liii] In fact, the decision for action and the order to carry out Urgent Fury had been issued at 4:45 pm.[liv]

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President Reagan’s evening meeting with the National Security Council in the White House Situation Room, 23 October. George Shultz to Reagan’s left, Vice President Bush to his right.

When Reagan, Shultz and McFarlane arrived back in Washington on the 23rd, they discussed the Lebanon crisis and the Grenada operation. After discussing Lebanon, Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger briefed Reagan on the Grenada plan. Reagan was wary of the risks, both to the medical students, and to the American forces. The Joint Chiefs assured the President that the the risks were marginal.[lv] Reagan signed the formal invasion order.[lvi] With the President’s approval, operation planning kicked into high gear. Secretary Weinberger authorized General Vessey to take control over of the operation, with the objective of speeding the decision cycle now that the political choice for action had been made.[lvii]

As with any action in the Cold War dynamic, American intervention in one hemisphere could prompt a Soviet response elsewhere. Reagan would brief Congress (under Section 3, War Powers Resolution) or inform Congress within 48 hours of the legality of the mission. The State Department would inform the United Nations Security Council and the Organization of American States regarding the justification for the invasion under UN Charter Article 51 and Rio Treaty Article 5. The United Kingdom would also be informed, considering Grenada’s status as a member of the Commonwealth. Shultz argued that Article 22 of the OAS and Article 52 of the UN charter, in addition to Prime Minister Eugenia Charles’ request for American assistance, provided the legal background for the intervention in Grenada.[lviii] With these issues outlined, new intelligence from the DIA (high-altitude reconnaissance) placed Grenadian and Cuban forces at as many as five thousand with eight Soviet made BTR-60 APCs and 18 ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns, in addition to 81-mm mortars and several 75-mm recoilless rifles located around the island.[lix] Grenada had no radar, ships or air units. The National Security Planning Group decided upon a maximum effort utilizing all available assets, and thus issued the Go order to Admiral McDonald.

After concluding his secure telephone call to Admiral McDonald, General Vessey contacted Strategic Air Command (SAC) and informed them of the operation. SAC immediately prepared KC-135 and KC-10 tanker aircraft to support the operation from Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia and Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Puerto Rico. SAC also approved reconnaissance missions over the Eastern Caribbean.[lx]

Grenada-physical-mapplan2

Grenada and Carriacou.

On 23 October Secretary Shultz despatched Ambassador Francis J. McNeill, supported by Major General George B. Crist, USMC (future CENTCOM commander), the Vice Director of the Joint Staff, to meet the OECS representatives and determine their willingness to join in a peacekeeping force, coordinated by the State Department, the Joint Chiefs and the CIA.[lxi]

Meanwhile, Admiral McDonald’s staff revised the operational plan, now composed of four phases: Transit, Insertion, Stabilization/Evacuation, and finally, Peacekeeping. The US assault force would manage the first three phases, which essentially amounted to maneuver, special operations forces landing, full invasion, including US Marines, and pacification followed lastly by the OECS force being assembled to act in the constabulary role in the fourth phase during which an interim government would be created.[lxii]

Admiral McDonald flew to Washington to brief the JCS on the evening of the 23rd. He proposed placing Vice Admiral Metcalf (CINC Second Fleet) in command of the Combined Joint Task Force 120.

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Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf III, Second Fleet, Atlantic Command, selected to command Combined Joint Task Force 120, photographed here in October 1986. & Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf  (centre, as Lt. General I Corps in 1987) was assigned as the Army – Navy liaison for Atlantic command, and then appointed by Metcalf as the operation Deputy Commander.

The Joint Chiefs were aware that the Navy needed access to consultation from someone with experience commanding combined operations, including Rangers, Airborne and Marines, and decided to appoint an Army-Navy liaison to Metcalf’s staff. On the afternoon of Sunday, 23 October, Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, then the divisional commander of the 24th Mechanized Division, received a phone call from Major General Dick Graves, informing him that he was being considered for the position of Army – Navy liaison. Schwarzkopf soon discovered that this operation was the full-scale plan for the Grenada invasion.[lxxx]

urgentfuryUSN.jpgList of USN warships involved in Operation Urgent Fury

The core of the CJTF was Task Group 20.5: the reinforced USS Independence (CV-62) battle group, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard C. Berry. Captain John Maye Quarterman Jr. in USS Guam (LPH-19) provided the base for amphibious operations and the flagship for Vice Admiral Metcalf. Amphibious Squadron Four itself was commanded by Captain Carl R. Erie (Task Force 124), with Commander Richard A. Butler as his chief of staff (Butler would later prove invaluable as one of the few naval officer in the squadron with knowledge of Grenadian waters).[lxvi] Captain David Bennett was also on hand in USS Saipan (LHA-2), part of Destroyer Squadron 24, in addition to two modern nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) amidst a host of destroyers, frigates and landing craft.

USS_Independence_(CV-62)_underway_in_the_Mediterranean_Sea_on_8_December_1983USS Independence, Air Wing CVW-6 and a Wichita-class refueler operating off Lebanon in December 1983.

The JSOC force element, including Rangers, SEALs, Delta, and 160th Aviation Battalion pilots, was designated Task Force 123. JSOC had received the notice to prepare on 21 October.[lxvii] The MH-60A Black Hawk Helicopters from the newly formed 160th Aviation Battalion,[lxviii] composed of pilots selected from brigades of the 101st Airborne division, would lead the way in their battlefield debut. Delta Force and US Army Rangers, received orders to surge on 23 October, deploying to Barbados in C-5A aircraft before assembling their seven UH-60 helicopters.[lxix]

USS Independence (CV-62), Task Group 20.5, Carrier Group Four

DN-ST-85-08955.jpegTask Group 20.5 CO, Rear Admiral Richard C. Berry, photographed in 1983, to the left of Vice Admiral Edward Briggs (center), Commander US Surface Forces, Atlantic Fleet)

The centrepiece of the USN task force was Carrier Group Four’s fleet carrier, USS Independence (CV-62), a 60,000 – 79,000 ton Forrestel class aircraft carrier.

USSIndependencedougherty_william_a_jr.jpg

CV-62 photographed alongside USS Savannah, (AOR-4), in the early 1980sCV-62 CO, Captain William Adam Dougherty Jr. (seen here as Rear Admiral)

CJTF 120 was created on 23 October with Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf, Second Fleet, appointed as Operation Urgent Fury’s commander. Metcalf’s amphibious force was designated Task Force 124, placed under the command of Captain Carl R. Erie, with attached 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit under Colonel James P. Faulkner.[lxiii] Additional elements included Task Force 121, which was comprised of components of the 82nd Airborne. Major General Edward Trobaugh, commander 82nd Airborne Division, had received the warning order on 22 October. The Division Ready Brigade at the time was 2nd Brigade’s three battalions, 2/325th, 3/325th, 2/508th, plus fire-support from B & C batteries 1/320th AFAB.[lxiv]

82nd Airborne Division, US Army

82nd wait.jpegTrobaugh

82nd Airborne troopers waiting to deploy for Operation Urgent Fury air assault, MSG Dave Goldie colleciton. & Major General Edward Trobaugh, CO 82nd Airborne Division.

airborne4.jpgB Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th, December 1983 in Grenada, reproduced in Stephen Trujilo, Grenada Raiders (2017). Major Edward Trobaugh’s 82nd Airborne Division’s Ready Brigade, three battalions of the 2nd Brigade, 2/325th, 3/325th, 2/508th and B & C batteries 1/320th AFAB.

82nd Org.jpg

taskforce121.jpg

Organization of the 82nd Airborne Division, with units then on readiness selected for Urgent Fury. From Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

In addition to SAC and MAC air support, the USAF would provided Task Force 126: eight F-15s from the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing and four E-3As from the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) detachment, with the explicit objective of preventing Cuban interference around Grenada’s airspace.[lxv] General Vessey roughly determined that Grenada would be split into two areas of operation, with the north designated for the US Marines, and the south for all Army operation

Task Force 123

Joint Special Operations Command, 75th Infantry Regiment (Rangers), Team Delta, US Navy SEALs, 160th Aviation Battalion, 1st Special Operations Wing (USAF)

MGEN_Richard_A_Scholtes.JPEG.jpegJSOC.jpg

Major General Richard Scholtz, CO of JTF 123 and the first commander of JSOC. & Organization of Task Force 123, from Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010). This was the first battlefield test of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), created by Charlie Beckwith following the debacle during Operation Eagle Claw in 1979. The idea was to combine the US military’s elite special operations forces under a single tactical command, supported by specially trained helicopter pilots, enabling rapid insertion and exfiltration during hostage rescue and counter-terrorism missions.

The JSOC Ranger assault (1st Battalion, Lt. Col. Wesley Taylor) would drop or land in five C-130 aircraft, escorted by four helicopter gunships, and secure the airfield at Salines. The Rangers would then secure medical students at the True Blue campus, afterwards moving to support the capture of St. George’s. 2nd Battalion’s Lt. Col. Ralph Hagler would then deploy and lead an attack on the PRA barracks at Calivngy.[lxx] JSOC commander Scholtes notified the Rangers on 22 October, and informed them that due to the limitation in available night-trained C-130 pilots, the Rangers would have to manage the initial deployment with only 50% of their total force.[lxxi]

The Point Salines objectives were given to the Rangers’ 1st Battalion’s A Company, Captain John Abizaid – later CENTCOM commander – and B Company, Captain Clyde Newman. Total strength was 300, plus two 25-man HQ elements. The Calivigny assault, scheduled for dawn on D+1, was given to 2nd Battalion’s A Company, Captain Francis Kearney, B Company, Captain Thomas Sittnik, and C Company, Captain Mark Hanna. Each company captain was to select 50 or 80 Rangers for their portion of the mission.[lxxiii] Once the 1st Ranger Battalion had cleared the Point Salines runway, C-141 Starlifters would arrive with Team Delta’s Little Bird helicopters, deploy them, and then carry out an assault on Fort Rupert.[lxxiv]

Under the guise of a training exercise, the two battalions now mobilized at Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia, at 2 pm, 23 October.[lxxii]

1st SFOD-Delta, A & B Squadrons

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B Squadron. Eric Haney in back with sunglasses, Grenada, October 1983; Eric L. Haney, author of the memoir Inside Delta Force (2002).

JSOC had a number of targets to hit: while the Rangers were capturing Point Salines, Team Delta’s B Squadron, flown in by Major Larry Sloan’s Black Hawk, would secure the Richmond Hill Prison,[xcii] and SEALs from Team 6 would land from Major Bob Johnson’s Black Hawks in St. George’s to capture the Governor’s residence (behind Fort Rupert at the harbour entrance) as well as the Beausejour radio station. Nearby, Fort Frederick would be plastered by USAF aircraft to prevent the PRA from intervening in the Richmond Hill attack.[xciii]

Delta.jpgA Squadron operators on 25 October. Emerson “Mac” Bolen, Tommy Carter, John Turner, unknown, and Danny Pugh. Reproduced in Stephen Trujilo, Grenada Raiders (2017)

After the Rangers had taken Point Salines, Delta’s A Squadron would land its Little Bird helicopters via C-141s and make an airborne assault against Fort Rupert. Although JSOC possessed plenty of detailed maps, most were left behind in the scramble to mobilize: USS Guam had only a 1936 copy of an 1895 British nautical chart of the Island, and Guam’s only Xerox machine printed copies too small to be useful.[xciv] The Delta operators bought Michelin guide maps of the Windward Islands to make do.[xcv]

SEAL Teams 4 & 6

1024px-US_Navy_100107-N-0000X-003_Members_of_Seal_Team_4_pose_for_a_group_photo_before_Operation_Just_Cause.jpgSEAL Team 4 operators in January 1990 during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama. During Urgent Fury, Team 4 would carry out UDT reconnaissance of the Grenville – Pearls area.

US Navy SEALs from Team 6 were scheduled to insert on the morning of the 23rd to provide beach reconnaissance for the planned Marine Corps and Ranger landing sites. Once cleared to land, the Marines would secure the medical school campus at the Grand Anse beach, while simultaneously securing the nearby town of Grenville and the Pearls Airfield – the island’s commercial airfield – [lxxv] SEALs from Team 6 would work with the Delta and Ranger assault force to secure inland objectives, beginning with Sir Paul Scoon, the Governor-General, held captive in his residence at For Rupert. Team 6 was also tasked with capturing Grenada’s radio station, and several other key targets including Fort Frederick, the Richmond Hill Prison, and the PRA training camp at Calivigny.[lxxvi]

1st Special Operations Wing (USAF)

ac-130-dllFive AC-130 gunships (16th Special Operations Squadron) provided close air support for the landings at Salines as well as during the SEAL insertion at St. George’s. The Ranger elements were deployed from 10 C-130s and two MC-130Es flown by this wing. The USAF Combat Control Teams used as pathfinders for the Rangers were also attached.

22nd Marine Amphibious Unit, USMC

On 22 October the Marine officers in MAU-22 – Colonel Faulkner, Lt. Colonel Smith and Lt. Colonel Amos – met aboard Guam to discuss the expected Grenada operation, which they believed at this time would be essentially an evacuation mission, assuming of course that the mission was going to go ahead.[lxxvii] It was decided that Company D would be used for amphibious assault, Company E for air assault, with Company F in reserve, or for a landing at the Pearls airfield.[lxxviii] Intelligence also arrived detailing what information was known about the PRA and its Cuban and Soviet bloc advisers. Liaison officers from CINCLANT, flown out from Antigua in a CH-53s, arrived the following evening, carrying information concerning the mission planning and Vice Admiral Metcalf’s objectives.[lxxix]

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Ray Smith (USMC), the regimental Lt. Colonel who was commander of the 2/8th Battalion Landing Landing team. Smith’s Marine Corps career spanned the Vietnam and Cold War. Lt. Col. Ralph Hagler (left), CO 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry Regiment, Rangers, US Army, photographed on 3 November, reproduced in Stephen Trujilo, Grenada Raiders (2017)

Amphibious Squadron Four, the MAU’s parent naval component, had sailed from the continental US for the Mediterranean on 18 October, with orders to relieve the Marine battalions stationed in Lebanon. Amphibious Squadron Four included the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) embarked under the command of Colonel James P. Faulkner (USMC). The entire force consisted of 43 officers and 779 men. Lt. Colonel Ray L. Smith’s men composed the core Battalion Landing Team 2/8. Lt. Colonel Granville R. Amos commanded the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (HMM-261) and the Service Support Group 22 was commanded by Major Albert E. Shively. The Marine companies were commanded by Captains Henry Donigan (E), Michael Dick (F), Robert Dobson (G).

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Early on 24 October Major General Crist was meeting with the chiefs of staff of the defense forces of Jamaica and Barbados, as well as the OECS Regional Security commander, to iron out the contribution of the Caribbean Peacekeeping Force (CPF). It was determined that the CPF would deploy on the 25th, following the American assault, and would relieve US forces from holding key targets such as the Richmond Hill Prison, government buildings and the radio station in St. George’s. Jamaica was sending 150 troops, including a rifle company, an 81-mm mortar section and a medical team. Barbados contributed a rifle platoon of 50 soldiers, with the OECS unit comprising 100 constabulary personnel.[lxxxi]

Admiral McDonald called a meeting early in the morning on 24 October at Norfolk. In attendance were Vice Admiral Metcalf (CJTF 120), Major General Ed Trobaugh (82nd Airborne – TF 121), Major General Richard Scholtes (JSOC – TF 123) and Major General Schwarzkopf, in addition to representatives from the CIA and State Department. The atmosphere, following the loss of the Navy SEAL team at Salines (see below) was tense.[lxxxii] With less than 24 hours to go before the invasion was to commence, Major General Scholtes recommended a 24 hour delay so further reconnaissance could be carried out. This was denied, and a compromise was agreed instead, with Admiral McDonald pushing back H-hour from 2 to 5 am on the 25th, so that the Navy SEALs could take one more shot at Salines early on the 25th.[lxxxiii]

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The attack plan as represented by Wikipedia, showing Ranger and 82nd Airborne Division drops, JSOC insertion, and USMC assaults; & Detail of the same, showing allocation of US forces and targets. The initial landings were centred around securing three primary objectives: the Point Salines airstrip, the Pearls airport at Greville, and the capital buildings at Saint George’s. There were a series of secondary targets, including colonial fortifications, the university campuses, army barracks, and the surrounding hillside.

Metcalf suggested placing Schwarzkopf in the position of ground commander once the amphibious landings had taken place, but he was overruled by McDonald who pointed out that Major General Trobaugh outranked Schwarzkopf.[lxxxiv] Schwarzkopf, for his part, wasn’t certain how much use his input would be on such short notice. Metcalf made another important decision at this point, designating four members of his staff to send half-hourly status reports back to CINCLANT- the idea being to outflank any media reports while also providing a concise narrative of event for the political and military leadership to follow as the invasion unfolded.[lxxxv]

At 11 am, after concluding this meeting, Vice Admiral Metcalf and Major General Schwarzkopf boarded an aircraft for the flight to Bridgetown, Barbados, to meet Major General Crist and Brigadier General Rudyard Lewis, the commander of the Caribbean Peacekeeping Force. Arriving at the Bridgetown airport amidst a flurry of journalists – expectations of imminent American military action having leaked out – and with Brigadier General Lewis not immediately available, Metcalf met briefly with Major General Crist instead, ordering him to organize the CPF for airlift to Pearls or Salines.[lxxxvi] Next, Metcalf, Schwarzkopf and their staffs transferred to Navy helicopters for the flight out to USS Guam, arriving between 5:30 and 5:45 pm while the Task Force was still several hundred miles from Grenada.[lxxxvii] The last of the task force arrived in Grenadian waters at 2 am on 25 October.[lxxxviii]

In Tampa, Florida, General Wallace Nutting, C-in-C Readiness Command (REDCOM) ordered the XVIII Airborne Corps to prepare the 82nd Airborne for deployment to Grenada, placing the deployed battalions under the command of Admiral McDonald.[lxxxix]

blackhawks.jpegBlack Hawk UH-60 helicopters, 160th Aviation Battalion photographed near Point Salines airfield, where 1st and 2nd battalions, 75th Ranger regiment, deployed on 25 October. SPC Douglas Ide collection.

The Black Hawk helicopters of Colonel Terrence “Terry” M. Henry’s 160th Aviation Battalion, five from Charlie 101 and four from Charlie 158 – both technically 101st Airborne Division components, were being loaded aboard C-5A aircraft on the evening of 23 October. The battalion’s helicopters were being flown to Barbados, along with more than 100 SEALs and Delta operators, 45 pilots and crews for the helicopters, and a handful of CIA and State Department officers.[xc] The Black Hawks would be led by pilots Major Robert Lee Johnson and Major Larry Sloan.[xci] The fully loaded C-5As took off from Pope Air Force Base on the evening of the 24th, and after landing in Barbados early on the 25th were ready to launch an hour before the sun was due to rise.

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Detailed western targets, ie, not including Grenville and the Pearls Airport. During Operation Urgent Fury maps of Grenada were scarce. This was the result of short-timing and lack of local sources in the CIA and State Department. Estimates about force locations were often wrong and enemy skill with machine guns and anti-aircraft guns was underestimated, proving a real threat to Special Operations Forces helicopters and light infantry.

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Forts overlooking St. George. Fort Rupert/Fort George at harbour entrance in green, Fort Frederick & Fort Mathew in red and the ruins of Forts Lucas and Adolphus in blue. Richmond Hill Prison in purple.

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24 October, President Reagan holds a briefing with the National Security Council to discuss Lebanon. Present are: National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter, James Baker, Ed Meese, Michael Deaver, David Gergen, Larry Speakes, Richard Darman, Ken Duberstein, Craig Fuller, and George H. W. Bush.

At noon on 24 October President Reagan met individually with the Joint Chiefs at the White House, who again expressed their belief in the success of the operation. Secretary of Defense Weinberger, General Vessey and the other Joint Chiefs met with Secretary of State Shultz and the President to brief Congressional leaders. After the meeting the President and the rest of the National Security Council met with National Security Advisor McFarlane who had converted the Situation Room into a War Room to receive Metcalf’s staff reports from Grenada. Reagan asked Vessey what he intended to do. General Vessey said he planned to telephone the Pentagon with the final authorization and then go home and go to sleep.[xcvi]

PART TWO

Reconnaissance, 23 – 24 October

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View of St. George’s harbour with Fort Frederick complex overlooking the Richmond Hill Prison, and Fort Rupert at right.

The Navy SEALs of Team 6 carried out the first JSOC mission. 12 SEALs and four members of an Air Force Combat Control Team (CCT) were sent in to reconnoiter the proposed beach landing site at Salines early on the morning of the 24th. The crews and their Boston whaler boats were parachuted into the water south of Grenada, near where USS Clifton Sprague was operating. The mission called for the crews to go ashore at Point Salines and carry out beach reconnaissance while the CCT operators planted radio beacons at the airfield for the C-130s to hone in on during the Ranger drop.[xcvii] This was a dangerous, complex, and untested mission and the results were poor.

The weather and sea conditions were not favourable, with the result that four of the SEALs drowned – either when their boat overturned or as a result of the drop. When the remaining SEALs and CCT men headed towards the shore in their only boat, the boat was swamped by waves and the engine flooded. Dawn was breaking by the time the SEALs were nearing the shore, and, for fear of revealing themselves and thus compromising the mission, the SEALs headed back out to sea, meeting up with Clifton Sprague.[xcviii]

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Cuban construction workers on the Point Salines airfield, from the Grenada Papers (1984). & View of the unfinished terminal buildings at the Salines airport

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Various SOF missions during the Grenada campaign. The failed Team 6 mission for 24 October was the Salines beach reconnaissance. The Paul Scoon rescue mission occurred on 25 October, as did the Beausejour radio tower mission. The first SEAL Team 6 mission to Salines (failed) is not listed. The 1st SOW mission for 25 October was the USAF Combat Control Team pathfinder jump.

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Patrol Boat Light (PBL)-type Boston whaler, improved variant of the single-engine type airdropped with Team 6 crew for the Salines mission.

Second, after meeting with Metcalf aboard USS Guam, a SEAL Team 4 crew attached to Amphibious Squadron Four and commanded by “Wild” Bill Taylor and Lieutenant Michael Walsh, departed USS Fort Snelling at 10 pm on 24 October in the SeaFox patrol-boat. Once near Pearls the SEAL crew took to their Zodiac boats and carried out a traditional frogman UDT mission at the Pearls airport landing site,[xcix] successfully examining Grenville’s beaches. Considering the unfavourable nature of the terrain, the SEALs recommended a helicopter assault rather than a shore landing, and this change in plans was approved by Captain Erie and Vice Admiral Metcalf, only a few hours before the beginning of the invasion.[c] Afterwards, with the invasion underway, the Team 4 crew exfiltrated, eventually making their way to Guam to brief Schwarzkopf on the mission outcome.[ci]

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SeaFox patrol boat used by the SEAL Team 4 crew as part of the Pearls airfield reconnaissance mission. Note Zodiac inflatable boat.

While SEAL Team 4 was beginning their mission, around midnight on the 24th, a second SEAL Team 6/CCT insertion was attempted at Salines, but again the whaler boats were swamped and the engines flooded. The operators, no doubt exhausted, were unable to reconnoitre the Salines beachhead before sunrise.[cii] The failure of the Team 6 insertion, and the loss of four SEALs during the unit’s first wartime operation since its inception, has generated considerable controversy, especially considering the relative success of the more traditional Team 4 mission at Grenville.

Although there was another Team 4 crew available at Puerto Rico, who theoretically could have been inserted by one of the Task Force’s two nuclear attack submarines (SSNs), hindsight is 20/20 and there almost certainly would not have been time for such a diversion.[ciii] Regardless of the exact details, the failure at Point Salines impacted not only mission planning – with Salines being deemed too dangerous for an amphibious landing – but also delayed the entire operation, with the Ranger’s C-130 drop pushed back twice from the planned 3 am launch to 5 am, only a dozen minutes before the sun began rising.[civ]

Helicopter Assault, 25 October

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Guam in October 1983 off Grenada & Dr. Robert Jordan’s photograph of Guam seen from Grenada on 25 October, reproduced in Stephen Trujilo, Grenada Raiders (2017)

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The Marines destined for Grenville were awaken at 1 am.[cv] The first 21 helicopters from Lt. Col. Amos’ HMM-261 element left USS Guam at 3:15 am.[cvi] Rain caused some delays, and thus the first components of Company E, carried in CH-46s with AH-1 Cobra escort, arrived at LZ Buzzard – south of Pearls – 30 minutes behind schedule.[cvii] A TOW equipped jeep was damaged during its deployment from a CH-53, and two marines broke arms or legs while unloading, but otherwise the deployment went off successfully.[cviii] 12.7-mm AA cannons fired on the incoming helicopters waves, but these guns were knocked out by Cobra gunships.[cix]

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Sikorsky R(C)H-53 Sea Stallions, a Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight and Bell UH-1N Iroquois on Guam‘s flight deck during Operation Urgent Fury. & CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters deploying, SGT M. J. Creen’s collection

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CH-46 Sea Knights on 25 October 1983. UH-60 landings at Salines during Operation Urgent Fury. 

The helicopters delivered their Marines ashore at the Pearls airport at 5 am. Captain Henry Donigan, CO of Company E, deployed one platoon to secure the landing zone perimeter while the other two platoons attacked the airfield itself.[cx] Within two hours both the airfield and the Grenville objectives had been secured; the Marines captured two Cuban airplanes and their crews in the process.[cxi]

Lt. Colonel Smith was soon ashore with his HQ group, and he ordered the capture of Hill 275 that overlooked the airfield. The Grenadians had emplaced two 12.7-mm guns on the hill, but the crews fled as the Marines approached.[cxii] Company E now began moving west, encountering scattered 81-mm mortar fire in the process.

pearlsunload.jpgMarines landing at the Pearls airport, Grenville, 25 October, from Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

At 6.30 am the assault on Grenville began, with helicopters landing Company F at a soccer field, identified at LZ Oriole.[cxiii] In the case of both landings the initial landing zones had been less suitable than hoped, requiring quick adaptation by the helicopter pilots. Grenville and the port area were quickly secured without opposition, the population both friendly and excited to see the arriving Marines.

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Black Hawks touching down on 25 October, SGT Michael Bogdanowicz.  & UH-1N hovering 25 October, SPC Gregory Tully collection

On the west coast the Navy SEALs and Team Delta were about to hit their targets. Most of Team 6 was landed outside St. George’s to secure Sir Paul Scoon at the Governor’s residence, while one squad hit Grenada’s public radio station north of the capital. Fifteen SEALs, including Lieutenant Wellington “Duke” Leonard, Lt. Bill Davis, and Lt. Johnny Koenig, fast-roped successfully down to the residence. After deploying its SEALs, the command Black Hawk piloted by Major Robert Johnson and carrying Team 6 CO Captain Robert Gormly as well as the satellite radios, was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The helicopter’s instrument panel was blown to pieces and Johnson was badly wounded, forcing the co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer David “Rosey” Rosengrant to fly back to Guam.[cxiv] Indeed, the Grenadians and Cuban gunners manning the anti-aircraft and machine guns covering the St. George’s approach were putting up a tremendous fire at the approaching helicopters.[cxv]

residence.jpgThe Governor-General’s residence behind Fort Rupert, in St. George’s, from Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

The SEALs persevered and successfully entered the Governor-General’s residence, locating Sir Paul with his family hiding in the building’s basement.[cxvi] The SEALs were shortly surrounded by Grenadian forces, including three BTR-60 APCs.[cxvii] The besieged SEALs were able to communicate to the fleet using their short-range radios, and, through Guam, SEAL Team 6 commander Gormly, who was about to head for Point Salines, was able to call for AC-130 gunship support. Metcalf despatched four Cobra gunships,[cxviii] and the Grenadian APCs were shortly out of commission.[cxix] The other telling is that Lt. Bill Davis used a phone in the Governor’s residence to call, “the airfield where American forces were already in control [Salines], and asked for gunship protection…”.[cxx] At any rate, with gunship and Cobra support, the SEALs held off the Grenadian infantry until the following morning when the Marines reached the Governor-General’s residence (see below).

Two teams of SEALs – 12 operators total – commanded by Lt. Donald K. “Kim” Erskine had also landed by MH-60 Pavehawks in a field next to the radio transmitter at Cape St. George Beausejour.[cxxi] Although the SEALs quickly overwhelmed the local guards at the Soviet built radio transmitter, PRA reinforcements, including a BTR-60, arrived and a firefight commenced.[cxxii] The SEALs lacked communication with the fleet (their cryptographic satellite radios did not work as planned, and their short range sets were too short range), and, worse, did not possess any anti-tank weapons.[cxxiii]

radio.jpgRadio Free Grenada, from Edgar F. Raines, The Rucksack War (2010).

At about 2:30 pm, with ammunition nearly exhausted, Lieutenant Erskine retreated under fire. Although many of his SEALs were wounded, they managed to make it to the waterfront.[cxxiv] As the Navy called in airstrikes and naval gunfire on the transmitter,[cxxv] Erskine’s teams swam along the shoreline until they reached a rocky cliff-face and hid there. Two pairs of swimmers were despatched to commandeer local fishing boats, but the SEALs were unable to free the boats from their fishing lines. Eventually the SEALs all made for the open ocean, where they were luckily spotted by a C-130 aircraft early on the 26th, and thence retrieved by USS Caron.[cxxvi] Lt. Erskine received the Silver Star.

Caron2.jpgUSS Caron firing on the Beausejour radio station after exfiltration by SEAL Team 6

While the SEALs were carrying out these operations, Delta’s B Squadron and components of Ranger C Company (1st Battalion) and their five Black Hawk helicopters were moving to their target. As the Black Hawks neared their objective at Richmond Hill they encountered heavy anti-aircraft and machinegun fire from Fort Frederick. Delta operator Eric Haney recalled his Black Hawk being hit by 23-mm rounds, wounding many of the occupants, including Major Larry Sloan, the commander of this Black Hawk section, who was hit in the shoulder and neck by 23-mm fire.[cxxvii]

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Richmond Hill Prison, atop Mount Cardigan, west of Fort Frederick & Mathew. The tip of Point Salines (end of the airstrip) is visible at the extr