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

Reflections on the 2017 McMullen Naval History Symposium

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This year’s biennial McMullen Naval History Symposium, hosted by the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, was a total success. This world-class conference featured a plethora of fascinating panels on subjects ranging from contemporary Canadian naval policy to Julius Caesar’s appreciation of naval power. As always, with a conference of this scale involving hundreds of historians and participants, any one person is only able to see a fraction of the total panels, so individual experience does matter. The conference was not generally digitized, thus, reflections from the participants provide the only method for intersubjectively preserving the experience itself, and there have already been (David Morgan-Owen) several (Trent Hone) contributions (Matthew Eng) in that regard.

The conference was organized by the vigilant Commander Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, one of the “New Young Turks” relentlessly in pursuit of greater historical appreciation amongst the cadets and midshipmen of the growing United States Navy, not to mention a senior editor with the all-star blog, War on the Rocks. Commander Armstrong also edited the “21st Century” Mahan and Sims volumes for the US Naval Institute Press. The major themes at this years conference were the First World War (naturally enough considering the centenary), global and imperial history, seapower in the Age of Sail, the Asian and the Pacific theatres, the Second World War, naval education, and the evolution of naval technology in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Day One: September 14, 2017

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From left to right: Panel Chair John Beeler, Louis Halewood, Alex Howlett, and David Kohnen (photo credit, Tim Choi)

I was a presenter on one of the first panels, along with Louis Halewood and David Kohnen. My paper on the Royal Naval Air Service and the development of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) 1917-1918, examined the impact of changing administration during wartime, and the organizational learning that took place in an unprecedented and high-technology environment. Louis Halewood described his research on the development of the Anglo-American theory of geostrategy, raising the prospect of the pre-1914 “Imperial Superstate” concept, notably diagnosed by historians such as Carroll Quigley, and Ramsay Muir. Louis Halewood introduced the influential work of luminaries such as Hartford Mackinder, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett, Spencer Wilkinson, and Lord Milner, theorists of naval and military power, strategy and imperial defence, who would all reappear with regularity in the politically charged panels and discussions to follow. Ultimately, the unity of the Wilsonian Anglo-American alliance broke down in the interwar period, in no small measure due to the challenge to British naval supremacy from the United States, in the process destroying the Anglo-Japanese alliance, with profound implications for Britain’s role in the Second World War.

David Kohnen discussed his research on the Knox-Pye-King report, a significant paper published in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings in 1920, bringing to the US Navy (USN) the strategic focus which had been raised in the British school, in particular, by the pre-war historians John Laughton, Julian Corbett, and Captain Herbert Richmond. Captains Ernie King, Dudley Knox and William Pye had been influenced by the irresistible force of Admiral William Sims, one of the significant contributors to the argument in favour of introducing trans-Atlantic convoys, a deciding factor in the victory over the U-boats in 1917-1918. David Kohnen argued that the modern USN had a worrying predilection for defaulting to technological dogma, with the result of the Navy utilizing the acronym saturated language of the Defense Department to stress uncritical “warfighting” instead of historical engagement and peacekeeping as the basis for doctrine.

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Right to left: Panel chair Caitlin Gale, presenters Anna Brinkman, David Morgan-Owen, Paul Ramsey, and commentator Andrew Lambert (photo credit, Tim Choi)

With turn of the century grand strategy on my mind, I moved to the panel specifically examining British foreign policy, with the first paper given by Anna Brinkman (of Imperial Entanglements fame), on Britain’s strategy for managing Spain during the Seven Years War, a complex subject that relied on the interaction between significant stakeholders, Britain and Spain’s differing conceptions of the law of the sea, and the emerging balance of power in Europe. David Morgan-Owen, the brains behind the Defence-in-Depth blog, next brought the discussion into the 19th and 20th centuries by examining Britain’s evolving European and global situation, a subject that hinges on the the sticky topic of imperial and homeland defence, explored further in David’s new book. The expansion of the Committee for Imperial Defence by Prime Minister Arthur Balfour in 1904 was a watershed moment, ultimately leading to the development of conflicting army and naval strategies during the government of Herbert Asquith. Lastly, Paul Ramsey examined Spenser Wilkinson’s debate with historian Julian Corbett about the proper relation of Britain’s foreign and military policy to national strategy, a historically and politically charged sparring played out in the popular press. Professor Andrew Lambert, who was the panel commentator, observed the intricate connections between the papers, with Corbett, a scholar of the Seven Years War and Russo-Japanese War, visualizing Britain’s naval role as a component of an integrated system that only made sense once the land dynamic, with a debt to Clausewitz and Jomini, was integrated.

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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson announces the winners of the CNO’s inaugural Naval History Essay Contest (photo credit, Tim Choi)

With this auspicious start, the conference was on a sound footing. I enjoyed lunch in the beautiful Bo Coppedge Room, at the Alumni Hall, where I had an enjoyable conversation with a young officer and naval scholar on the fascinating subjects of Athens versus Sparta, US Marine Corps culture, and the recent Graham Allison book, The Thucydides Trap, concerning the possibility of American conflict with China in the 21st century. I was impressed with the student’s insight, candor, and breadth of knowledge, all of which I found refreshing (as was the key-lime cheesecake). Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson then presented the awards to the winners of the inaugural Naval History Essay Contest, which promised to raise the bar for scholarly research amongst historians and practitioners alike.

After lunch we headed to the final panel for the first day, again focused on British naval policy in the 19th century. By this point the conference was beginning to resemble a choose your own type of adventure. This was both an advantage and disadvantage of the conference’s scale and international reach. Breaking out of my own area of interest was certainly possible, with simultaneous panels taking place on American, South American, and Second World War naval history, all of which would have been fascinating to attend, if not especially related to my research focus. The conference organizers did the attendees a service by arranging the panels in such a manner that overlap was minimal and it was a fairly straightforward process to figure out which panel was the best choice for my own preferences.

This panel was chaired by John Mitcham, and the first paper was presented by John Beeler, the editor of the Navy Record Society’s Milne papers, on the subject of the Liberal party’s naval policy during the late 19th century. Beeler, who literally wrote the book on the subject, argued that the questionable choices of the Liberal party in terms of naval policy were an indication of a lack of clear strategic thinking, compared to Salisbury’s vision. The nuances of the political situation was emphasized by Peter Keeling, who followed this thread by specifically expanding on the Liberal party’s 1889 Naval Defence Act with original research that examined who voted for and against the Act, and why. Presenting the last paper of the day, Rebecca Matzke, in a fascinating paper reminiscent of the work of Michael Neiberg, discussed the efforts of British propagandists to influence American public perception of the Royal Navy’s war effort, in particular, as it related to the Royal Navy’s blockade and Germany’s counter-blockade (the unrestricted U-boat campaign). Taken together, this panel explored the interrelation of optics, how public support is galvanized by policymakers and NGOs, and the realities of budgetary and geostrategic constraints, firmly recognizing that military policy is never formed in a vacuum, and more often than not, is the result of a complex patchwork of influence.

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James Goldrick delivers the 2017 McMullen Sea Power address in Mahan Hall, (photo credit, Tim Choi)

Thus we adjourned for day one. The next event was the McMullen Sea Power address to be held later that evening in the appropriately named Mahan Hall. Taking advantage of the warm evening air while moving between buildings, I stopped the always approachable James Goldrick for a brief discussion that touched on wide-ranging concepts such as Britain’s anti-submarine defence in the First World War, Germany’s strategic bombing campaigns in two world wars, and the origins of aircraft carrier strike doctrine. I was impressed as always by Professor Goldrick’s erudition. In this spirit of historical reflection, the conference participants made their way over to the fantastic US Naval Academy Museum. After touring amongst the excellent warship models and artifact displays, discussing defence policy with friends, I was stunned into a moment of clarity by news which spread like fire between the attendees that North Korea had launched yet another long-range missile, dramatically bringing home the importance of the subjects we had discussed, in otherwise academic detachment, throughout the day.

Not much more than an hour later I was sitting on the balcony of Mahan Hall watching Rear-Admiral (retired) Goldrick, Royal Australian Navy, deliver the formal 2017 Sea Power address. Professor Goldrick delivered his keynote directly to the young midshipmen sitting across from me on both wings of the balcony, and strove to reconcile the need for thorough professionalism within military education, transcending technological determinism, while also avoiding the other end of the spectrum, ivory tower detachment, a synthesis rare enough amongst long-time scholars yet also essential to the future of service culture: the next generation of young scholar-officers.

Day Two: September 15, 2017

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From left to right: Trent Hone, Wes Hammond, and John Miller, USN.

With three excellent panels on Anglo-American and imperial naval history behind me, I decided to start off day two on a slightly different tact. There would be four panels to see, and I felt it was time to broaden the discussion by revisiting some areas of interest from my previous academic work. Easing into things I visited the panel highlighting some of the winners of the CNO’s essay contest, starting with Trent Hone’s analysis of operational learning by the USN at Guadalcanal in 1942. Hone argued that the Navy, with a strong foundation in historical education and doctrine, derived from the inter-war period and First World War, was well situated to adapt to operational disasters such as the Battle of Savo Island, enabling the Navy to reverse-course and ultimately out think the Imperial Japanese Navy. Lieutenant John Miller then read his case-study analysis of training failure, notably looking at the USS Stark, USS Panay, and USS Chesapeake incidents, concluding that readiness can only be achieved by a thorough understanding of not only ship and crew capability, but also, significantly, environmental awareness, the multifaceted elements of which can only be mastered through carefully cultivated experience and preparation, frequently missing in a high-tempo, rapid deployment situation. Wes Hammond then expanded on this subject by observing the importance of mobile basing, stressing the element of fleet logistics, repair and salvage, upon which all other elements are reliant. An important theme uniting these papers, explored in the panel discussion, was the recognition that contemporary naval affairs are defined by questions with historical antecedents. The notion of having, “been here before” was startling, and a clear reminder of the importance of historical investigation prior to framing naval policy.

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From left to right: Dr. Nicholas Lambert, Alan Anderson, James Smith and G. H. Bennet

The fifth panel was chaired by the Naval Academy’s own Dr. Nicholas Lambert and featured papers by G. H. Bennet, Alan Anderson and James Smith. This panel took a sweeping look at the Admiralty as a political and educational organization in the 20th century. Plymouth University’s Bennet presented on the unique subject of ship and naval station libraries, a critical component in naval education that at first glance might appear parochial, yet, like many of the papers presented, once explored in detail provided rich insight. Bennet’s research explored the organic knowledge networks that developed aboard ships as crew and officers traded and circulated books, while providing a warning evidenced by the decline of these networks during the transformation of the Royal Navy as budgets tightened in the 20th century. Alan Anderson followed up by examining the seemingly bizarre decision of the Admiralty to promulgate the Declaration of London in 1909, and the implications this would have for Britain’s blockade strategy in 1914. Anderson, who has been critical of Nicholas Lambert’s work on British blockade theory, argued that in fact the Admiralty gained significant concessions from the Declaration, notably including affirmations on the illegality of shipping “absolute contraband” in times of war, while simultaneously shoring up neutral shipping rights, essential components of the Royal Navy’s historical mission as safeguard of the seas. James Smith (of the Seapower Thinker blog) built upon these papers with his criticism of the introduction of the Ministry of Defence by the Earl Mountbatten, who was Chief of the Defence staff for six years, starting in July 1959. Smith argued that Mountbatten’s personal ambitions led him to undermine Britain’s traditional maritime focus, relegating the senior service to equality with the RAF and Army, thus stripping the Navy of its institutional power, which had been carefully built up over hundreds of years.

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The Battle of Virginia Capes, 1781

Controversy continued to abound in the two finals panels, both of which I attended out of interest. The first was focused on the Battle of Virginia Capes, 5 September 1781, and second on Japanese naval policy in the 20th century. This was a trip back in time for me, as I had previously written my Masters thesis on the culminating naval battle of the American Revolution, as well as my undergraduate thesis on the only decisive naval battle of the ironclad age, the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905. The first of these panels was known colloquially as the Naval War College panel, featuring papers drawn entirely from that fine institution. Chaired by the College’s John Hattendorf, James Holmes presented the first paper, an insightful strategic analysis of Britain’s naval policy during the Revolutionary War. Holmes argued that Admiralty decision-making ultimately led to the abandonment of the American colonies in favour of protecting the more profitable imperial territories in the Caribbean and India, and seen from the perspective of grand strategy, was reflective of the concept of “antifragility” which helped to explain the Admiralty’s thinking. Holmes provided a broad framework that was then detailed by Jim McIntyre’s paper, examining the egodocuments of Hessian mercenary Johann Ewald, who witnessed the siege of Yorktown. The presentation of Stanley Carpenter flowed naturally from this point, providing a thorough analysis of the Royal Navy’s tactics at the Battle of the Capes itself, with particular attention to the Graves-Hood controversy that emerged. I was pleased to see, eight years after completing my thesis on the subject, Lord Hood receiving the criticism he rightly deserves for failing to bring battle decisively against the Comte de Grasse’s fleet when ordered so by Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves. The discussion after this panel was particularly insightful, with John Hattendorf moderating a lively debate about the vagaries of timing, strategic movements, and the many “mistakes” made, for example, by Lord Cornwallis, who should have known better than to allow his Carolina offensive to become locked up in a position from which the only possible escape was by sea.

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Dr. Alessio Patalano presenting on Japan’s Cold War submarine policy, (photo credit: Tim Choi)

The final panel I attended was presented by Andrew Blackley, covering the lessons of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5, in particular the Battle of the Yalu, followed by presentations from Masashi Kurarni, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, looking at the Japanese contribution to the Mediterranean in 1917, and finally, by Alessio Patalano, who introduced the Self Defense Force’s submarine policy during the early Cold War. Andrew Blackley argued that Japan’s naval doctrine of rapid-fire close attack proved decisive in two major naval wars, indeed, demonstrating significant flexibility when faced with technical faults or warship losses. Flexibility was further indicated by Masashi Kurarni’s paper, showcasing Japan’s significant international alliance contribution to the anti-submarine war in 1917-1918, providing insight into the under-examined U-boat campaign in the Mediterranean. In keeping with these themes, Alessio Patalano presented the final paper, kindly aware of his duty to move quickly prior to the conference’s conclusion. Patalano observed that Japan’s strategy of core-competency paid dividends when the submarine began to take on a more significant role in Japan’s defence planning. The JMSDF was able to retain capability despite political, budgetary, and strategic transformation on an unprecedented scale.

The conference concluded back at the official symposium hotel where the 2017 Knox Awards Banquet was held, during which Dr. Edward J. Marolda, Commander Paul Stillwell and Dr. Jon T. Sumida were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their stellar and dedicated contributions to naval history.

In conclusion, I was struck by the inspiring collegiality of this professional, academic conference. It serves the historians well to leave their monk-like confines to engage with the free-flow of ideas that historical symposiums inculcate. Between the brilliant and inspiring papers it was a real pleasure to be included in debate that frequently involved world-class subject experts and naval practitioners. In short, this was a transformative experience I highly recommend to anyone considering attending the next Symposium in 2019.

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Captain Charles Middleton and the Seven Years’ War

Admiral Sir Charles Middleton, the Seven Years’ War, and Naval Administration

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HMS Barham presentation badge in 1914.

The Royal Navy career of Charles Middleton spanned three wars, from the Seven Years’ War, to the American Revolution, through the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. During the first of these, Captain Middleton was engaged in trade protection and anti-privateering duty in the Leeward Islands. The future Comptroller of the Navy, then a lowly frigate commander, sailing in the 28 gun HMS Emerald, spent four years countering French commerce privateers. Middleton was considered somewhat of a disciplinarian and social climber, but also a promising administrator in a far-flung but crucial colonial posting in the Caribbean during the Seven Years’ War. Middleton’s early career has been described as a typical RN officer’s career.[i]

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The Right Honourable Sir Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham, Admiral of the Red, engraving by Marie Anne Bourlier, 12 October 1809, from a drawing by John Downman.

This post examines Admiral Charles Middleton’s career and achievements during the early phase, primarily concerning Captain Middleton’s role as a frigate commander during the Seven Years’ War, leading up to his appointment as Comptroller of the Navy in August 1778.

After the Seven Years’ War, Middleton seemed to have fulfilled his duty, and was prepared to retire.[ii] Fate, as it would have it, ensured that Middleton would yet return to the centres of power and play an unexpected, but decisive, role in the Royal Navy’s history. After his service in the Caribbean as a frigate commander and station administrator, Middleton went on to become a reformer and modernizer during the American Revolution, as Comptroller of the Navy. Rear-Admiral Middleton, raised to the peerage as Lord Barham, returned to power as Senior Naval Lord and eventually First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of Trafalgar in 1805.

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London in 1751 by Thomas Bowles 

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Career of Charles Middleton until 1778

The Navy

Charles Middleton was born at Leith, Edinburgh, on 14 October 1726, the second son of Robert Middleton and Helen Dundas. Helen was the great-granddaughter of Robert Dundas, Lord Arniston, while Robert, the father, was a descendant of Alexander Middleton, the brother of John, the Earl Middleton, and made his living as a customs official in Bo’ness, West Lothian, Scotland. Charles Middleton joined the Navy at a young age, credited with service aboard the merchantman Loyal June (1738-41), starting when he was eleven- although this could have been a paper assignment only, as was often the case with young officers. Middleton joined his first warship, prophetically, HMS Sandwich (90), in April 1741 at the age of 14, and shortly afterward he followed its Captain, Mead, to the Duke (90), then joined the 20 gun frigate Flamborough under Captain Joseph Hamar on 21 November 1741, for service in North America and the West Indies.

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Cape Corso fortress, Gold Coast, as it appeared in 1745, not long before Lt. Charles Middleton, while serving aboard HMS Chesterfield, was stranded there by mutineers in October 1748,

Just shy of four years of apprenticeship as a captain’s servant, midshipman and master’s mate aboard HMS Flamborough, and only ten days before his 19th birthday, Middleton passed his Lieutenant’s examination on 4 October 1745, and, the following month, was appointed to the 5th rate HMS Chesterfield (40), patrolling the channel and the coast of Sierra Leone.[iii] Middleton, 22 years old, was there in 1748, when on 15 October, at the notorious slave trading site, the Cape Corso fortress in Ghana, Middleton, along with the Chesterfield’s Captain (O’Brien Dudley), Master, 2nd Lieutenant, purser, surgeon, and 11 other men, were stranded by a mutiny amongst the ship’s crew and remaining officers. The mutineers were led by a buccaneering carpenter’s mate named John Place, with help from the supposedly drunken 1st Lieutenant, Samuel Couchman (neither of whom survived the conclusion of the court martial that was to follow). The loyal boatswain retook the ship and arrested the mutineers. The boatswain was able to bring the Chesterfield to English Harbour, in Antiqua, where it was reunited with the stranded officers on 7 March 1749.[iv] Middleton and company aboard, now under Captain James Campbell, Chesterfield returned to England, and arrived at Spithead on 14 June 1749.

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US President Barack Obama visits the former slave trading outpost at Cape Corso castle, Ghana, 11 July 2009, the site where Lt. Middleton first experienced the disreputable connection between Royal Navy seapower and the slave trade.

Middleton was put on half-pay and sent ashore the following month.[v] There he remained until transferred to a dockside assignment aboard HMS Culloden (74), in June 1752. Back on half-pay in November, he was subsequently transferred to what would become a familiar ship, HMS Anson (Captain Charles Holmes), a 4th rate, 60 gun ship of the line built in 1747; In January 1753, Middleton, 26 years old, was thus acting in the capacity of second lieutenant aboard a large ship of the line. Anson’s first lieutenant at this time was one Richard Kempenfelt, later Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt.[vi]

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Aboard HMS Anson, the first lieutenant in 1755 was Richard Kempenfelt, later Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt as painted by Tilly Kettle in 1782, prior to his drowning aboard HMS Royal George on 29 August of that year, tragically, at least partly the result of the Middleton – Sandwich coppering method which produced electrolytic degradation on warship rivets. Middleton and Kempenfelt exchanged letters on the subject of signalling during 1779 – 1782.

Middleton was briefly transferred to the Monarch (74), but was then back again aboard Anson in July 1754. Middleton succeeded Kempenfelt as 1st Lieutenant aboard Anson in January 1755. In March of that year Lt. Middleton was to be found recruiting sailors in the Bristol Channel, while aboard Princess Augusta.[vii] With Britain’s relations with France deteriorating, Middleton, aboard Anson (Captain Robert Man), was dispatched as part of Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen’s fleet of 11 of the line to blockade the St. Lawrence, although, it being the spring of 1755, war had not yet been declared.[viii] Boscawen intercepted a detached French squadron of three and captured two 64 gun ships, Alcide and Lys, but missed a third, Dauphin Royal in fog off the Newfoundland Banks, June 8 – 9.[ix]

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Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen, who commanded the English squadron in which 28 year old Lt. Middleton served as first Lieutenant aboard HMS Anson (60), at the outbreak of the Seven Years War. Joshua Reynolds, 1824.

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Admiral Boscawen’s action against Admiral de le Motte’s separated squadron 8 June 1755. In the foreground, Captain Andrews aboard the Defiance (60), engages Lys (64) while Captain Richard Howe, commanding the Dunkirk (60) attacks Captain de Hocquart’s Alcide (64) in the distance. This is an artistic compression: Defiance, along with Fougueux, were sent to chase Lys which was actaully captured the next day. Lt. Charles Middleton, the XO, under the command of Captain Robert Man, was aboard Anson (60), one of Boscawen’s eleven warships.

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HMS Defiance of 60 guns, 5th rate when built in 1744.

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Admiral Lord Richard Howe, then Captain HMS Dunkirk, who fought together with Lt. Middleton as part of Boscawen’s fleet. Depicted here as C-in-C Channel Fleet, print made by James Whittle and Richard Holmes, 1794

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Royal Navy warships, as of June 1755, showing first Lt. Middleton’s appointment in red. From Jonathan Dull’s The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War.

Anson cruised off Louisbourg and Halifax, then returned to England in October 1755, and was eventually stationed in Portsmouth in March of 1756. Anson, along with Bristol (50) and Harwich (50) were now dispatched to the West Indies as part of the outbound convoy with 17 merchant ships, departing England on 27 April and arriving at St. John’s Road, Antigua on 12 June 1756. That same month, Minorca fell as a result of Admiral Byng’s failed relief attempt resulting from the battle of Port Mahon, 20 May 1756.

Commander RN, & The Seven Years’ War

During 1755-6, relations soured between England’s North American colonists and the French settlers in Canada and their Native American allies. A struggle for control of the Ohio River valley soon revealed the tenuous nature of the status quo peace. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had ended the War of Austrian Succession in 1748, was tested on a number of occasions, such as in 1755 when General Braddock’s force was ambushed. In India, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Clive and the British East India Company continued their swashbuckling campaign of conquest, capturing Calcutta in January 1757, and winning the decisive battle at Plassey on 23 June 1757, further antagonizing French interests. War in Europe was renewed when Prussia invaded Saxony in 1756, prompting Austria to declare war on Frederick II in 1757. Britain declared war against France on 18 May of that year, pushing Prussia into coalition with Britain, for the Austrians, who counted amongst their allies Russia and Sweden, were also allied with Louis XV’s France.[x]

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The World colonial situation prior to the Treaty of Paris, 1763 <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/&gt;

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European political situation 1740 – 1757, maps.

Considering that the British monarchy originated from the electorate of Hannover, England joined Prussia and Portugal against the powerful coalition of France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Poland, and after 1762, Spain. The war began with a series of British reversals, notably at Minorca, where Admiral Byng was unable to win the victory at Port Mahon, 20 May 1756, to the great detriment of his personal fortunes. France’s Louisbourg citadel, in present day Nova Scotia, however, was captured in July 1758. These tremendous events were followed by the capture of Quebec itself, after the victory at the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759. These military victories were accompanied by suitable naval victories, at Lagos, 18 – 19 August (Boscawen), and Quiberon Bay, 20 November (Hawke), during the victorious Annus Mirabilis.

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French siege and capture of Fort St. Philip, Minorca, 29 July 1756. Admiral Byng’s defeat, on 20 May 1756, shortly after the outbreak of war, enabled the Marquis de la Galissonniere’s fleet to support the siege of the Mediterranean fortress.

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Global conflict: The Seven Years’ War.

Frederick the Great won his major maneuver victories against overwhelming enemy coalition forces at Rossbach and Leuthen in November and December 1757, followed by the victory against Russia at Zorndorf in August 1758, dealing a serious repulse to the initial Grand Alliance war effort. As a result, Britain’s funding of the Prussian effort increased between 1757 and 1758 by nearly a factor of ten, to 1,860,000 pounds sterling. Frederick’s reversals against the Russians in 1759 at Kunersdorf led to Berlin’s capture, but Frederick maintained his defence against France and Austria, defeating the Austrians at Liegnitz in August, and again at Torgau in November, 1760. Britain, for its part, eventually abandoned the alliance, seeking a separate peace in 1762 to consolidate its colonial gains, a move that Frederick would not forget when Britain came looking for European allies during the American Revolutionary War.

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First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord George Anson as painted prior to 1748 by Thomas Hudson. The architect of Britain’s naval strategy during the Seven Years’ War, Anson was First Lord from 1751-56 and 1757-62.

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Cartoon celebrating Captain Howe and Vice-Admiral Boscawen’s victories over the French in Canada, including the capture of Louisbourg in the summer of 1758.

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Hawke, painted by Francis Cotes in 1768.

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Admiral Sir Edward Hawke’s victory at Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759, painted by Nicholas Pocock. This decisive battle by the Channel squadron prevented the planned invasion of England and Ireland, thus freeing Royal Navy forces for deployment to other theatres, including the Caribbean.

With the major struggle taking place in Canada and Europe, the Caribbean was at first a sideshow. The Royal Navy’s defence of its Caribbean trade had been arranged as a layered blockade and interdiction operation: the two station commanders, based at Jamaica and Antigua, were provided with small squadrons of 50 or 60 gun ships for blockading the enemy’s naval bases at St. Domingo (Spain) and Martinique (France). Heavy RN frigates of 30 to 40 guns sailed windward of Antigua and Barbados, seeking privateers. Lastly, 20 gun frigates and all lesser sloops, brigs and corvettes covered the inter-island communications, primarily around the Leeward Islands.[xi]

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The Leeward Islands from NASA Terra satellite.

In 1756 the Jamaican station was under the command of Rear-Admiral George Townshend with three of the line and four frigates. The Leeward Island station was commanded by Rear-Admiral Frankland, with an additional three of the line and four or five frigates.[xii] When the Elder Pitt took power during his brief 1756-7 term under the Duke of Devonshire, he re-shuffled the Admiralty, using Boscawen to offset Anson, who at that time was the First Lord of the Admiralty, and doubled the size of the Caribbean fleets while appointing new commanders: Rear-Admiral Thomas Cotes, now with seven of the line and ten or so frigates, to Jamaica; and Commodore John Moore was ordered to the Leeward Islands with three of the line, two 50s, three 40s and five frigates.

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Political situation in the Caribbean, 1756, from Sir Julian Corbett’s The Seven Years War. The islands of St. Lucia, Grenada and Dominica were at this time declared as neutrals under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, although nominally under French control. The major French naval bases were at Guadeloupe and Martinique.

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British Caribbean commands in June 1756, Lt. Middleton’s position in red.

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Control of territory in Caribbean during 1756.

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English Harbour, Antigua today.

It was with Commodore Moore, that Middleton, still aboard the Anson, was ordered to Antigua. Middleton, now thirty years old, continued aboard Anson until 26 February 1757 when he was promoted Commander, appointed to the sloop Speaker (12), to cruise in the Leeward Islands. There is some confusion regarding his command at this point, as he was simultaneously listed as commander of the Blandford, as acting captain (26 February to 28 March), while also having commanded of the sloop Saltash, briefly.[xiii]

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Model of a 200 ton burden, 14 gun sloop, circa the 1740 pattern, similar to HMS Barbados commanded by Captain Middleton in 1758

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Model of a 12 gun sloop on the 1752 pattern, ketch-rigged (note the mizzen mast and absence of a fore mast)

It is clear from the sources, however, that Commander Middleton’s position would involve dockyard work, and appreciating the administrative aspects of running a trade defence operation. In the event, Middleton was promoted Captain in July 1758, and took command of the newly constructed Barbados (12). Middleton’s role during this time was a small but critical part of the Admiralty’s vast world system: based at English Harbour, Antigua, Captain Middleton was left in charge of anti-privateering operations while Commodore Moore conducted amphibious landings against Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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Plan of English Harbour, Antigua, 1782: base of operations for the Leeward Island station in 1758.

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English Harbour in 1800, by Nicholas Pocock

Middleton, a natural administrator, thus oversaw trade as it massed at Antigua in preparation for its biannual convoy across the Atlantic. These large convoys, sailing at the beginning of June and July, of which the first, in June 1757, totalled 170 ships, were valued at least £2,000,000, and although fairly secure from interception, were generally uninsured. Individual merchant ships, however, not to mention the inter-island and coastal trade, indeed, were potential prey for French privateers sortieing from Guadeloupe and Martinique or crossing the Atlantic from the windward: over 1,400 trade ships were captured by French privateers in the West Indies over the course of the war.[xiv]

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Order of battle for Leeward Islands and Jamaican stations, June 1757. Notice the significant increase in ships of the line attached to these two stations at this point. Middleton had been made Commander and appointed to the sloop HMS Speaker in February, a ship too small to be counted amongst the heavier warships, and thus does not appear on this list.

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John Frazer’s painting of a frigate with full sail.

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“Sloop” signed W. Van der velde, with English colours flying.<>

Captain Middleton thus found himself in a similar position to Captain Horatio Nelson, who, 27 years later, would likewise be appointed to Antigua and the Leeward Islands as a frigate commander.[xv] While captain of Barbados, in October 1758, Middleton wrote to a merchant representing the local chamber of commerce at St. Christopher’s (St. Kitt’s), regarding a proposed scheme for the defence of the islands. The plan involved two warships of 40 guns, two of 20 guns, and eight brigs of 16 guns, supported by two sloops of 10 guns each.[xvi] According to Middleton’s recommendations, these warships would be split between Barbados and Antigua, with two frigates stationed at each, and three brigs at the former, five brigs plus two sloops at the latter.

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Nelson boards a captured ship, showing Nelson leaving HMS Lowestoft (32) to board a captured American privateer, 20 November 1777, by Richard Westall, 1806.

Captain Middleton’s detailed summary of the defence scheme identified what he believed to be the optimum arrangement for trade defence, observing that the area around Barbados could be relatively easily protected, although “…Antigua, St. Christopher’s, Nevis, Montserrat, Jamaica, &c.,” were more difficult to protect considering the numerous sailing routes between the islands.[xvii] In December 1759, writing from his new command, Arundel, Middleton believed the entire station could be covered by two ship of the line, four frigates, three brigs and two sloops, with reserves to relieve these forces as needed.[xviii]

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Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, 1758, showing only four heavy warships on station at Commodore Moore’s station.

Middleton was keen to use the heavier frigates to cover the routes to and from Martinique, Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe, so as to interrupt French prize captures there. Middleton was executing a portion of Commodore Moore’s scheme, which, based on his predecessor, Rear-Admiral Frankland, involved the main squadron covering Martinique and the passage to Fort Royal and St. Pierre, capital of the French Lesser Antilles, while the various cruisers and frigates covered the islands and searched for privateers, of which, 25 were taken in the first ten months of Moore’s command, at least one of those by Middleton in the Barbados.[xix]

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Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, June 1759. Note the dramatic expansion in force, from four to 9 ships of the line, with three 60 and three 50 gun cruisers, made possible by the transfer of ships from the Louisbourg operation.

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Rear-Admiral of the Blue, Sir John Moore, who, as Commodore, C-in-C Leeward Islands, oversaw the attack on Guadeloupe in January 1759.

Commodore Moore’s command had now been built up to ten ship of the line and 6,000 troops (under General Hopson) with which he might begin to capture the French island bases and thus solve the privateer problem at source.[xx] An attempt to storm Martinique on 16 January 1759 had been repulsed when it was discovered that the island’s defences were too strong.[xxi] Instead, the combined force mobilized against Guadeloupe, generating a siege that lasted until 1 May. The surrender of the island was accepted by Brigadier John Barrington, who had taken command following General Hopson’s death on 27 February.[xxii] The result of this series of events, which cost the French empire 80,000 hogsheads per anum in Guadeloupe sugar, prompted the dispatch of the Toulon squadron to the West Indies. French Admiral La Clue Sabran’s squadron, however, was intercepted as it left the Mediterranean by Admiral Boscawen (now C-in-C Mediterranean), with the result that five of the French ships were lost (of which, three were captured) at the Battle of Lagos, 18 – 19 August, 1759.[xxiii]

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Battle of Lagos, of the coast of Portugal

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ESA Envisat image of Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique

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View of Guadeloupe, William Wyllie, 1893

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Invasion of Guadeloupe, January & February 1759, carried out by Commodore Moore

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Guadeloupe captured, Peter Benezech’s engraving after Archibald Campbell’s view of Fort Royale, c. 1768

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Detail of the assault on Basseterre, Guadeloupe. The siege lasted until the end of May 1759, the French relief fleet arriving too late to prevent the capitulation of the island.

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Medal commemorating Commodore Moore’s capture of Guadeloupe, May 1759.

Middleton soon made Post-Captain, and in March 1759, while the Guadeloupe operation was under way, he was appointed commander of the 1746 vintage 6th rate frigate, HMS Arundel (24). Middleton, while cruising aboard the Arundel in November 1759, captured the slave transport Swift with more than 100 slaves on board. James Ramsay, Middleton’s assistant surgeon, and Middleton himself, were both appalled by the conditions onboard, confirming Middleton’s faith in abolition as the only just solution to the African slave trade. By December 1759, Captain Middleton had taken another four prizes, two merchants and two privateers, however, Arundel was in poor shape, with a damaged foremast, so Middleton returned to harbour.[xxiv] As Middleton built up the local flotillas, Commodore Moore was critiqued by the Barbados merchant committee for not bothering to intercept the French squadron sent to relieve Guadeloupe during the siege of spring 1759, with the result that “175 or 180 sail” had subsequently been captured and taken to Martinique, to be sold off at Fort Royal or St. Pierre, by the French.[xxv]

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British (1, 5) and French (2, 3, 4) frigates, sloops and corvettes designed and built in the 1740s.

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A heavy frigate, 5th rate

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Captain Nelson’s HMS Boreas (28), built in 1774, with French frigate, by Nicholas Pocock.

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A model of a 24 gun frigate built in 1741, similar to HMS Arundel, of 1746, the ship in which Captain Middleton made Post-Captain, in 1759. Note the hull ports close to the water line- for oars.

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Plan of a 12 gun “Bermudan” pattern brig, the basic Caribbean corvette designed to out-weigh the French schooners and sloops. c. 1762.

Middleton continued to busy himself with flotilla outfitting and defence arrangements, repeatedly emphasizing the need for more “Bermudian” type brigs of 12 guns (such as HMS Speaker, Antigua, and Barbados) which, due to their armament and sailing qualities, he believed especially suited for the Leeward Islands. These heavy brigs were superior to the French sloops and schooners, the English brigs having captured 30 prizes on station by 1759.[xxvi] Middleton built off his predecessor’s layered defence scheme: as was the practice, convoys would handle the major cross-Atlantic trade, while local inter-island routes were best handled by brigs, or convoyed with frigates when available. Middleton argued for a flying detachment of two powerful frigates, or cruisers, stationed off Barbados, for actively hunting enemy privateers. Another group of frigates and sloops would provide a distant blockade of Martinique, thus surrounding the island’s traffic, a critical consideration with the Dutch trade at St. Eustatius effectively circumventing the blockade, if not intercepted.[xxvii]

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In June 1760 there were three 70 gun ships of the line and five 64 gun cruisers on station, with reinforcements en route.

The coronation of George III in 1761 provided an opportunity for a change in strategy, with the Caribbean stations increasing in importance. William Pitt the Elder, who had directed British strategy as Secretary of State for the Southern Department while acting as Leader of the House, under the Duke of Newcastle (between June 1757 – 1761), was now displaced by the Earl of Bute, and resigned in October of that year. In July 1760, Middleton, replacing the gout-stricken Captain Cornwall, was given HMS Emerald (28), a prize taken in 1757, and it was in this ship that he secured his most profitable naval captures.[xxviii]

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View of St. Pierre, Martinique, August 1796, by Cooper Willyams

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Bay of St. Pierre, today.

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June 1760

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June 1761

Leeward Islands and Jamaican commands, June 1760 & 1761. By June 1761, the Leeward Islands station, where Captain Middleton was located, had four ships of the line, and eight heavy 64 & 50 gun cruisers, plus numerous lesser frigates and flotilla craft. Middleton returned to England in October 1761, at the same time, Admiral Rodney was despatched from England to orchestrate the capture of the French leewards.

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Admiral George Rodney, after 1754. In 1761 he became the C-in-C Leeward Islands, and oversaw the capture of Martinique, St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent.

As Middleton’s tour of duty at the Leeward Islands was coming to an end, Rear-Admiral George Rodney had been sent, in October 1761, to accelerate the campaign of seizure and capture of the French islands.[xxix] In January 1762, the year Britain declared war on Spain in response to the Spanish alliance with France, Rear-Admiral Rodney took 16,000 soldiers under Major-General Robert Monckton to Martinique, and captured the island by coup de main.[xxx] Rodney next dispatched Captain Augustus John Hervey in the Dragon (3rd rate) to St. Lucia, which Hervey proceeded to capture on 25 February 1762.

With Spain in the war, the next target was Havana. Rear-Admiral Sir George Pocock, and Lieutenant-General George Keppel, were dispatched from England with a fleet and 15,000 troops to break Spain’s Cuban fortress. Lord Anson, who had administered the Navy during much of the war, died in June 1762 and thus was unable to witness the successful capture of Havana in August of that year.

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http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13315.html

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60 gun two deck ship of the line / cruiser, compared to a 24 gun frigate, at Gravesend, c. 1753-9, by Charles Brooking

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The 66 gun heavy cruiser HMS Buckingham engaging French warships on 3 November 1758.

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Caribbean fleets in June 1762, showing Havana invasion force.

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Commodore Augustus Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, c. 1767 by Thomas Gainsborough. Commodore Hervey captured St. Lucia as part of Rodney’s 1762 offensive.

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Surrender of St. Lucia, February 25 1762, by Dominc Serres, 1772

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Spain joins the coalition against Britain and Prussia. In 1762, Martinique, St. Lucia and Havana fall to the British.

The Capture of Havana:

Admiral Pocock’s fleet and amphibious task force arrived from England, and landed on 7 June 1762 to besiege Havana.

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Rear-Admiral Sir George Pocock, who commanded the naval force at the Havana operation, painted by Thomas Hudson, c. 1761

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Commodore Augustus Keppel, Lt. General George Keppel’s brother, and the second-in-command at Havana. Painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1749

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Lt. General George Keppel, the Earl of Albremarle, who commanded the land forces at the Havana operation

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The landing on 7 June 1762 of Lord Albermarle’s force against the Morro Castle fortress at Havana. Painting by Dominic Serres.

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Capture of Havana, August 1762. This was the largest maritime operation of the war, requiring over 15,000 troops.

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The fleet enters Havana on 21 August 1762, by Dominic Serres. Notice the distinct blue and red colours indicating squadrons and commands.

Middleton, meanwhile, had returned to England. Emerald was paid off in October 1761, to be broken up, its namesake uprated to a new 5th rate completed in 1762.[xxxi] Middleton had captured 16 prizes while captaining HMS Emerald, five of which were enemy privateers. During his four years in the Caribbean, Middleton had demonstrated an aptitude for trade defence, blockade, ship construction and fitting, discipline, and naval administration.

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Full scale replica of the French 32 gun frigateFrench 32 gun frigate, Hermione, a ship similar to the 5th rate HMS Adventure (32), built in 1741 that was captained by Middleton in 1762. Seen here in June 2015 with USS Mitscher, an Arleigh Burke class DDG (guided missile destroyer).

As it turned out, in March of 1762, Middleton was appointed Captain of HMS Adventure (32 – a different ship from the Adventure which became Captain James Cook’s second alongside Resolution in 1771), a fifth rate which had been recut from a fourth rate in 1758. Captain Middleton was sent to patrol along the Channel and Normandy coast.

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Map showing British strategy and territories secured during the Seven Years’ War, from Paul Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery.

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Map showing major colonial empires after the Treaty of Paris.<http://www.worldmapsonline.com/images/Cram/History/colonialempires1763.jpg&gt;

The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War, was signed on 10 February 1763, and as part of the negotiations, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Martinique, the former captured in 1759 and the latter two in 1762 respectively, were returned to France; Canada, however, was ceded to Great Britain. Havana and Manila, both taken from Spain, were likewise returned, in exchange for Florida and Minorca.[xxxii]

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Deptford dockyard, 1763 by John Cleveley the Elder

Middleton went on half-pay until March 1762. In December 1761, at the age of 35, Charles Middleton married Margaret Gambier, a skilled painter and later an advocate for the abolition of slavery. Margaret was the daughter of Captain James Gambier, to whom Middleton was familiar through the connection of Captain Mead, whose sister, Mary, was Margaret’s mother. Middleton had first served with Mead during their time aboard the Sandwich, twenty years prior. Margaret gave birth to their only child, a daughter, Diana, on 18 September 1762.

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Family of Margaret Gambier, who became Mrs. Middleton in December 1761.

Middleton, for his part, retired from the service, declining a sea-going appointment on 2 April 1763, to retreat to the hospitality of his wife, then living with her friend Elizabeth Bouverie, at Teston, in Kent.[xxxiii] Margaret and Elizabeth were joined there after 1777 by Captain Middleton’s former assistant surgeon from the Arundel, now a staunch abolitionist and priest, James Ramsay, who became a close friend of Mrs. Middleton and her circle, as well as private secretary to Charles, drafting many of his letters.[xxxiv] It was the wealthy Elizabeth Bouverie, proprietor of Barham Court, who, upon her death in 1798, left to Charles Middleton the entire Teston estate, the source of his title as Lord Barham.

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Recent photographs of Barham Court, Teston, Kent.

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The Mall at St. James Park, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1782. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough#

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View of the Temple of Comus in Vauxhall Gardens by Canaletto circa 1750s, engraved by Johann Muller

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Warships fitting out at Portsmouth, 1770, by Dominic Serres. 

            Comptroller & the American Revolution

Middleton remained in these pleasant surroundings for twelve years, until, with the American Revolution underway, he joined HMS Ardent (64) in May 1775. Much as his efforts during the Caribbean operations had focused Middleton on administrative duties, he soon found himself running Chatham dockyard as Commodore Mackenzie’s assistant, and by December 1775, was in communication with Lord Sandwich regarding ship fittings, among other dockyard matters.[xxxv] Middleton was writing his own standing orders by this point, his orders for Ardent focusing on proper logistics, discipline, gunnery, and duties.[xxxvi] On 7 November 1776, Middleton was made Captain of HMS Prince George (90), a new but decommissioned second rate built in 1772.

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Prince George, 1772, 90 guns.

Middleton was working this ship up for more than a year- one imagines Middleton regularly visiting the dockyard during 1777- until February 1778 when he was transferred to the 4th rate Jupiter (50), then under construction. Middleton was back on half-pay on 22 July 1778, then, the next month, following the death of Comptroller Captain Maurice Suckling, Middleton was appointed Comptroller of the Navy by his friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.[xxxvii] Middleton would be in this position for twelve years, until he resigned in 1790.

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Jupiter, 1778, 50 guns, 4th rate, plans by John Williams, Navy Surveyor

NPG D4160; John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich by Valentine Green, after  Johan Joseph Zoffany

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1774, by Valentine Green, after Johan Joseph Zoffany.

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View of Leicester Square by Thomas Bowles, circa 1753

The Earl Sandwich was one amongst a powerful circle of Middleton’s friends, including Middleton’s cousin, Henry Dundas, the Lord Melville, then the Lord Advocate of Scotland, and George Germain, Secretary of State for America, who, together with Lord North, would fail to contain the American Revolution in years to come. Middleton kept up a regular correspondence with Admiral Hood and Captains Young and Kempenfelt, who provided the Comptroller with intelligence and a brain-trust to work out signalling tactics or new construction ideas. Middleton’s marriage into the Gambier family further increased the reach of his network, as his brother-in-law was Vice-Admiral James Gambier, C-in-C North America. Lady Middleton herself, highly respected by British society, was friends with Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, amongst other men and women of letters.[xxxviii]

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Admiral Samuel Hood’s victory at St. Kitts, 25 January 1782. Hood kept Middleton informed about developments in the Caribbean via a detailed letter correspondence.

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Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, with whom Middleton kept a regular correspondence during the American Revolutionary War.

The devout and ascendant Middleton, soon Lord Commissioner, then First Lord of the Admiralty, and Baronet Barham after 23 October 1781, was occasionally at odds with his benefactor, Sandwich. As Comptroller, Middleton was responsible for the statistical control of Navy’s dockyards, warships and naval supply, as this information was collected by the Admiralty’s various accountants. Middleton mastered the naval supply accounts and advanced his schemes for improvement, such as roofing all of the dockyards- a difficult task not completed until the following century.[xxxix] Minorca was retaken on his watch on 4 February 1782.[xl] Wartime policy occasionally led to cut corners, however, as demonstrated by Sandwich’s efforts to provide copper sheathing to all the warships of the fleet. It was Middleton’s budget method that produced the electrolytic action that pre-naturally aged the fleet’s warships, which resulted in several significant defects (contributing to the losses of HMS Terrible and Royal George).[xli] The fleet was eventually re-coppered at considerable expense, with specially coated copper nails, effectively the French method of copper construction.[xlii]

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Admiral Rodney’s victory at the Saints, off Dominica, 12 April 1782. George Rodney’s spectacular defeat of the Comte de Grasse was too late to reverse the outcome of the American Revolution, although it evened the naval scales.

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Barham as Comptroller of the Navy in 1788.

As a result of his incessant centralizing drive for reform, Middleton’s later career was not without its antagonists: the Viscount Howe, Admiralty First Lord from 1783 until 1788- who Middleton had worked with under Boscawen in 1755- had opposed Middleton’s reforms. Middleton and Sandwich eventually fell out as well, nevertheless, the Middleton – Sandwich administration, despite its travails and failures, would be remembered as one of those dynamic Admiralty leadership combinations that so infrequently graced the office of state, comparable perhaps only to Sir John Fisher and Winston Churchill in 1914, or Francis Drake and Admiral Sir John Hawkins in 1588.[xliii]

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Portrait of the Earl Richard Howe, commemorating his victory at the Glorious First of June, 1794.

Middleton was elected MP (Tory) for Rochester in 1784 – 1790, and made Rear-Admiral of the Red on 24 September 1787. Together with his old friend James Ramsay, and Lady Middleton’s associate William Wilberforce MP, Middleton advocated for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, of which he had seen the worst of during his naval career. Middleton, during this time, defeated his erstwhile opponent Lord Howe, who was superseded by the brother Pitt, John, the Earl of Chatham, on 16 July 1788. Middleton was long frustrated in his efforts to get himself onto the Admiralty Board, however, and he resigned in March 1790. Margaret, Lady Middleton, died two years later, on 10 October 1792, and Charles was left with Diana and her husband Gerard. Middleton was made Vice-Admiral in February 1793, then, his wish was granted in 1794, and he joined the Admiralty as First Naval Lord, aside Lord Spencer, until November 1795. He made full Admiral of the Blue in 1795.[xliv] Middleton was out of the loop, however, as the Admiralty was under the control of another of Middleton’s antagonists, Admiral Sir John Jervis (presently, after his victory in February 1797, the Earl St. Vincent), First Lord of the Admiralty in 1801.

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Portrait of Admiral Sir  John Jervis, the Earl St. Vincent, by William Beechey, c. 1787-90

The Rhinebeck Panorama composite image:  c.1806-7

Rhineback panorama of London in 1806

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The Admiralty, February 1795 by Thomas Malton, jr.

It was the intervention, at this point, of Middleton’s friend, the leader of the “new Tories”, William Pitt the Younger, who returned him to power. Middleton was appointed chairman of the Commission for Revising, a naval budgetary control organization established in December 1804, not long after the Earl St. Vincent’s departure the preceding year (“that damned Scotch packhorse” Admiral John Jervis called Middleton).[xlv] Henry Dundas, the Viscount Melville, then the First Lord, was out by May 1805 and Pitt asked Middleton to succeed him.[xlvi]

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William Pitt, the Younger, by John Hoppner, 1805

An important consideration was any successor’s ability to work with Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson of the Nile. Middleton had first met Nelson in November 1787, and Nelson had found in Middleton a kindred reformer. Although separated by more than two decades, they had served on the same station as frigate commanders, and had corresponded during the American Revolutionary War.[xlvii]

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Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson of the Nile, 1800, by Friedrich Fuger

Like Nelson, an evangelical man, Middleton was distraught by the heavy-handedness of St. Vincent’s reforms; not to mention his military mistakes. Knowing a sure thing when he saw it, Pitt appointed Middleton as First Lord, his status in the peerage raised to 1st Baron Barham of Barham Court and Teston, Kent, with Admiral James Gambier (Margaret’s nephew), the Baron Gambier, as First Sea Lord.[xlviii]

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Admiral James Gambier, Baron Gambier, sketch by Joseph Slater, 1813

Middleton dispatched Nelson reinforcements, and tightened the Channel blockade in the lead up to Trafalgar,[xlix] and afterward Middleton was made full Admiral of the Red on 9 November 1805. Known for their proficiency with ship design, and defensive mindset, Gambier and Middleton introduced the revised Naval Regulations of 1806.[l] With Nelson deified, and Pitt soon to follow, at eighty years old, Charles Middleton retired for the last time 1806.[li] The Lord Barham, Admiral of the Red Sir Charles Middleton, Comptroller of the Navy during the American Revolutionary War, Senior Naval Lord during the French Revolution, and First Lord of the Admiralty during Trafalgar, frigate commander in the Leeward Islands during the Seven Years War, died on 17 June 1813, at the age of 87.

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Isaac Pocock’s portrait of Admiral Sir Charles Middleton, the Lord Barham.

Middleton’s legacy is as a farsighted reformer and modernizer, at once pragmatic and controversial. As First Lord of the Admiralty, he established the position of First Sea Lord as the chief naval post on the Board, thus setting the pattern for the 19th and 20th centuries.[lii] A relentless modernizer, yet a devout Tory; a disciplinarian who opposed slavery, Middleton’s career certainly possessed its share of conflicts. Details about Middleton’s important administrative career during three wars can be found in a number of sources, although the modern researcher will not find a better one than Sir John Knox Laughton’s three volumes of the Barham papers, published shortly before the First World War, by the Navy Records Society.[liii]

Barham was established as a Royal Navy ship name, starting with the 74 gun 3rd rate in 1811 (modified to 50 guns in 1826).

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HMS Barham (50) at Sheerness, in February 1836, by Francis Byron 

An HMS Barham screw frigate was ordered for 1860, however the order was canceled.

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 The name was next given to an ironclad cruiser in 1889, which was sold off in February 1914, as, on 31 December of that year, the name was recycled into HMS Barham.

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HMS Barham was a 27,500 ton Queen Elizabeth class oil-fuel super-dreadnought built and commissioned between February 1913 and October 1915. Beginning on 1 October 1915, HMS Barham, commanded by Captain Arthur W. Craig, became the flagship of the 5th Battle Squadron, led by Rear-Admiral Evan Thomas, and fought at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. 25 years later Barham was at the Battle of Matapan, in March 1941. The warship was finally torpedoed, with the loss of most of the crew, by U-331, commanded by Kptlt. Hans-Diedrich Freiherr von Tiesenhausen, on 25 November 1941.

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HMS Victory is towed into Portsmouth Harbour in preparation for preservation, December 1921. HMS Thunderer and Barham, docked in line-ahead on the left, by William Wyllie.<http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/15173.html&gt;

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Crest of HMS Barham (1915).

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[i] N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)., p. 373

[ii] N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana Press, 1988)., p. 212-14

[iii] John Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813, Kindle (Frank Cass Publishers, 1998)., chapter 1.

[iv] John Knox Laughton and R. Vesey Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I, digital, vol. 1, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 32, 1906., p. xii-xiii

[v] Roger Morriss, “Middleton, Charles, First Baron Barham (1726-1813),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[vi] Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813., chapter 1.

[vii] Clevland to Hawke, 11 March 1755, #88, Ruddock Mackay, ed., The Hawke Papers, A Selection: 1743 – 1771, Navy Records Society 129 (Aldershot, Hants: Scolar Press, 1990). p. 117 fn

[viii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xiv

[ix] Julian Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy (London: The Folio Society, 2001)., p. 41; Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 263; A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 – 1783 (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1987)., p. 284

[x] John B. Hattendorf, “The Struggle with France, 1689 – 1815,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy, ed. J. R. Hill and Bryan Ranft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 80–119., p. 96-7

[xi] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 268-9

[xii] Ibid., p. 272

[xiii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xvi

[xiv] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 267-8; Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 277

[xv] John Sugden, Nelson: A Dream of Glory, vol. 1, 2 vols. (London: Pimlico, 2005)., p. 244

[xvi] Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 1-2

[xvii] Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Ibid., p. 3

[xviii] Middleton to Pringle, 4 December 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 16

[xix] Corbett, The Seven Years War, A Study in British Combined Strategy., p. 278; Middleton to Mr. Walter Pringle, 21 October 1758, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 7

[xx] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 277

[xxi] Ibid., p. 277

[xxii] Ibid., p. 277

[xxiii] Ibid., p. 277-8

[xxiv] Middleton to Pringle, 4 December 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 17

[xxv] Council and Merchants of Barbados to Joseph Pickering, 1759. Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 21-2

[xxvi] Middleton to Pringle, 1759, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 18

[xxvii] Middleton to Sir James Douglas, 1760, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 32

[xxviii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. x, Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy., p. 103

[xxix] Anson to Rodney, 5 October 1761, #846 in David Syrett, ed., The Rodney Papers, Volume I, 1742 – 1763, Navy Records Society 148 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005)., p. 422

[xxx] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 284

[xxxi] Lieutenant’s Logs, Navy Board, HMS Emerald, 1758 – 1760, ADM/L/E/96, http://collections.rmg.co.uk/archive/objects/526873.html ; T. D. Manning and C. F. Walker, British Warship Names (London: Putnam, 1959).

[xxxii] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 287-8

[xxxiii] Morriss, “Middleton, Charles, First Baron Barham (1726-1813).”

[xxxiv] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 46

[xxxv] Middleton to Lord Sandwich, 1 December 1775, G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen, eds., The Sandwich Papers, Vol. I., August 1770 – March 1778, vol. 1, Navy Records Society 69 (Navy Records Society, 1932). p. 78

[xxxvi] Captain’s Order Book, 1 August 1775, Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. 39

[xxxvii] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. x

[xxxviii] http://www.thepeerage.com/p5349.htm#i53488

[xxxix] Ibid., 376

[xl] Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I., p. xxxv

[xli] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., 375-6

[xlii] Ibid., 374-5

[xliii] Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2004)., p. 316

[xliv] Roger Knight, Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793 – 1815 (St Ives plc: Penguin Books, 2014)., p. xix-xx

[xlv] Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813.

[xlvi] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., p. 480

[xlvii] Sugden, Nelson: A Dream of Glory., p. 370-1

[xlviii] Andrew Lambert, Admirals (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2009)., p. 180-1; Herman, To Rule the Waves. p. 336, 369; John Sugden, Nelson: The Sword of Albion, vol. 2, 2 vols. (London: The Bodley Head, 2012)., p. 761-5

[xlix] Sugden, Nelson: The Sword of Albion., p. 785-6

[l] Richard Blake, “James Gambier, Baron Gambier (1723-1789),” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[li] http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/100697.html

[lii] Rodger, The Command of the Ocean., 480

[liii] Sydney Riddick, “Charles Middleton, Afterward Lord Barham, and Naval Administration, 1778-1805” (MA Thesis, Liverpool University, 1939).; H. C. Fox, “A Discussion of the Problems of Naval Administration Arising from the Period Covered by ‘The Barham Papers.,’” Naval Review, no. 4 (1935): 758. ; Talbott, The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy 1778 – 1813.; Laughton and Hamilton, The Barham Papers, Volume I.; John Knox Laughton, The Barham Papers, Volume II, digital, vol. 2, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 38, 1910.; John Knox Laughton, The Barham Papers, Volume III, digital, vol. 3, 3 vols., Navy Records Society 39, 1911.