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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 14


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But though we punished the Dutch for their French predilections, the tide of French success was rolling on in various quarters, and presenting a prospect of a single- handed conflict with France. The powers on whose behalf we had armed were fast, one after another, making terms with the republicans. Holland was in their hands, and the king of Prussia, on the 5th of April, concluded a peace with them at Basle, in which he agreed to surrender to France all his possessions on the left bank of the Rhine, on condition of retaining those on the right. There was a mutual exchange of prisoners, including the troops of such other German states as had served with Prussia. Spain hastened to follow the example of Prussia. A peace was concluded at the same place - Basle - on the 22nd of July, by which she gave up all the Spanish part of San Domingo. To purchase the French evacuation, the ministers of Spain itself recognised the Batavian republic - which was become, in reality, a province of France - and promised to intercede with Portugal, Naples, Parma, and Sardinia. The grand duke of Tuscany followed with a proclamation of a treaty of neutrality with France, on the 1st of March. Sweden and the protestant cantons recognised the French republic and the Batavian one, its ally; and the duke of Hesse Cassel, and even George III., as elector of Hanover, were compelled to an agreement to furnish no more troops to the emperor of Germany. Whilst England's allies were thus falling away in rapid succession before the powers of republican France, England, instead of taking warning, and resolving to mind only her own business, went madly into fresh treaties with continental powers. Russia and Austria were received into fresh treaties of mutual defence. Russia we were to assist with ships, and Austria with twenty thousand foot and six thousand horse, or to pay each month ten thousand florins for every thousand infantry, and thirty thousand florins for every thousand of cavalry. To complete the ruinous circle of treaties, Sir Gilbert Elliot, British governor of Corsica, entered into a treaty with the day of Algiers, by which, on payment of a hundred and seventy-nine thousand piastres, he was to restore all the Corsicans captured and enslaved by him, and was to enjoy the strange privilege of carrying all his piratical prizes into the ports of Corsica, and to sell them there - which was, in fact, licensing this chief of sea-robbers to plunder all the other Italian states.

At the moment that this treaty was signing, the French were on their way with a strong fleet to seize and recover Corsica, if possible. On the 2nd of March a strong fleet appeared off Corsica, under command of admiral Martin. On the 8th admiral Hotham sailed out of Leghorn Roads to meet it, and, spite of contrary winds, on the 12th came in sight of it. Hotham had thirteen sail of the line, four frigates, and two sloops, besides a Neapolitan seventy-four gun ship and two frigates, under the command of chevalier Caraccioli. The French admiral had fifteen sail of the line, six frigates, and three corvettes, and, to keep him well to his duty, which was to take Corsica, he had on board with him a convention commissioner, Letourneur. Nelson was on board the Agamemnon, and, on the 13th, they came into action. Nelson, as usual, showed the utmost courage and ability, and the combat being renewed the next day at half-past six in the morning, continued till two in the afternoon, when the French put about and fled. In the course of the action, the Ça Ira of eighty guns, and the Centaur seventy-four, being greatly damaged, struck to Nelson. When the French gave way, Nelson urged that the British fleet should give chase; but Hotham said, " No, we must be content; we have done very well." On this Nelson, in great disgust, observed to his officers, " Had we taken ten sail, and allowed the eleventh to escape, I should not have said we had done very well." The time was coming for his genius to throw all the old school of go-easy and formalist admirals into the background. As it was, the total loss of the English was seventy-four killed and two hundred and eighty-four wounded; two French ships taken, and much damage done to the Sans Culotte of one hundred and twenty guns, and two other vessels. The French did much damage to the Captain, our best ship, and some others, but they lost a great many more men. Had Nelson been in chief command, very few of their ships would have seen Toulon again. The English fleet put into San Fiorenza Bay, in Corsica, to refit.

In this action of the 13th and 14th of March, the French, contrary to all rules of maritime warfare, had fired red-hot balls. The convention, with the rabid cruelty which characterised the French revolutionists, had ordered, through Carnot, the minister of marine, that not only should red-hot balls be used, so as, if possible, to blow up the English ships with all in them, but they had sent aboard certain combustible materials which liquefied as they were discharged, and were supposed, like the Greek fire, to be unquenchable by water. These infernal practices, so in keeping with the rest of the French remorseless doings at this period, however, only enraged the English seamen, and soon became more dangerous to the French themselves than to us.

Both the French and English fleets received reinforcements in the Mediterranean; so that, by the middle of July, Hotham had twenty-one sail of the line; and with this imposing force he came in sight of the French fleet of seventeen sail of the line, six frigates and corvettes, near Cape Roux. The English gave chase, but the French made off as fast as possible, so that only a few of the English vessels were able to come up with them. They managed, however, to capture the Alcide of seventy-four guns, but, before they could take possession of it, a box of their infernal combustibles ignited in the foretop, and, in spite of all their exertions to put it out, the flame spread all over the ship, and before the English could rescue half of the crew, which amounted to nearly seven hundred, the vessel was blown into the air with upwards of three hundred miserable men.

Besides various encounters of detached vessels in different quarters of the globe, the French fleet, under admiral Villaret, had a narrow escape off the French coast, near Port l'Orient, on the 23rd of June. Villaret had twelve ships of the line and eleven frigates, when he was descried by admiral lord Bridport, with a considerably stronger force. Bridport gave chase, and managed to capture three sail of the line before the French could escape into harbour. The least creditable part of our campaign, next to that in Holland, was in the West Indies. We have related the loss of St. Lucia and St. Eustatia after their capture from the French and Dutch; but, besides this, Victor Hugues, the commissioner for the West Indies, who was filled with all the demon fire and unscrupulous energy of the revolutionist, roused all the population, white and black, in many of the British islands, by preaching the Rights of Man. He had his emissaries everywhere, calling on them to massacre the English, and the insurrection was trodden out with the utmost difficulty in Grenada, Dominica, and St. Vincent. In the latter island, the Carib insurgents retired to the mountains, and made a long and desperate stand. The Maroons, in Jamaica, also waged a fierce and desperate war on the planters. Our ministers were too much occupied in assisting the Dutch said such faithless allies as Prussia and Austria to send proper reinforcements to defend our colonial territories.

On the Rhine there was a good deal of sharp fighting betwixt the French and Austrians. General Bender had been compelled to surrender Luxembourg, on the 7tk of July, and allowed to retire with his army of ten thousand men into Germany, on condition of not serving again till exchanged. There then remained little on either bank of the Rhine to restrain the advance of the French, except Mayence on the left bank, and Manheim and Düsseldorf on the right. Pichegru, in August, made himself master of both Düsseldorf and Manheim, and was advancing to the reduction of Mayence when he was met by old general Wurmser, and driven back to Manheim. Jourdan, who was advancing in another direction to co-operate with Pichegru in the reduction of Mayence, was encountered by Clairfayt, and driven back to Düsseldorf. Clairfayt then attacked the French forces already investing Mayence, and the garrison making a sally at the same time, the French were completely dispersed, and part retreated north and part south. Wurmser then invested Manheim, and compelled its surrender on the 22nd of November. Clairfayt, set at liberty by the repulse of the French at Mayence, joined him before the fall of Manheim, and, together, they drove the republicans out of the palatinate and of the country betwixt the Rhine and the Moselle. They then contemplated the recovery of Luxembourg, but Jourdan and Pichegru bad once more united their scattered forces and withstood them, so that no further progress was made in that direction before winter.

In Italy, nothing was done till late in the year. Both parties kept their ground; the French were unable to issue from the passes of the Alps into the plains, through the united forces of Austrians, Sardinians, and other Italians, collected to resist them. Nelson, who was detached with a few ships to co-operate with the Austrian general, Devins, recommended him to push his forces betwixt the different French divisions which occupied the territory of Nice and part of the western Riviera, or coast of Genoa, taking those on the side of Nice in the rear, and blockading the city and port of Nice. But Nelson was equally harassed in his schemes by the Austrians and his own superiors. He declared the German generals so slow, that it was maddening to witness it; that he believed they cared for nothing but to get another four millions of English money. At length, Devins said he would follow Nelson's plan, and send ten thou- sand men to take the town and bay of St. Remo, if admiral Hotham would find the necessary ships to convey the troops. Hotham refused. Nelson was kept watching the port of Genoa, which, since the proclaimed neutrality, was become a regular haunt of French privateers, which infested the Mediterranean. The French, in spite of the pretended neutrality, were allowed to march troops into the state and into the very neighbourhood of Genoa. Nelson implored admiral Sir Hyde Parker to send him a few more ships, and, with these, he engaged to enter the port of Genoa, and destroy the whole fleet of above one hundred sail of transports, store-ships, gun-boats, and other vessels which the French had collected there for their future operations. But Parker contended that it was impossible, as the Corsicans were now driven into insurrection by the maladministration of Sir Gilbert Eliot, and were all on fire to welcome the French again. A commissary of general Devins having been plundered at Voltri by the French, he demanded satisfaction of the Genoese authorities, and pushed forward his troops to the very vicinity of Genoa itself. He entreated Nelson to remain watching the port, to prevent the French vessels getting out and conveying troops to his rear, to cut off his retreat, if necessary, by the Bochetta pass. Devins was soon incapacitated by the gout, and surrendered his command to general Wallis.

Towards the end of November, the French army, under Massena, commenced operations in earnest. Massena was supported by a number of young officers, soon to become famous under the great military genius of France - Laharpe, Charlet, Victor, Suchet, and others. The Austrians and Piedmontese being scattered over a wide extent of country, defending various passes, the French attacked and beat them from different points. The right and centre of the allies was, ere long, completely routed; and the left, posted on the shores of the bay St. Pier d'Arena, near Genoa, was attacked, both from the land and from the water, by gun- boats, which Nelson had no means of coping with, except by letting loose a far greater number of armed vessels, and was also compelled to flight. Nelson managed to keep open the Bochetta pass for them, or from eight thousand to ten thou- sand prisoners would have been made, including general Devins himself, who was laid up at Novi, at the foot of the Appenines. The French were then in possession of all the Rivière de Ponente, and thus in a position to open the campaign against Italy in the spring, with every prospect of success. They had made themselves masters of all the artillery, baggage, and ammunition of the allies, and they now retired to winter in Vado and Savona. All communication was cut off betwixt the allies and the British fleet; and Nelson, now of no further use, withdrew to repair the damages of the Agamemnon, which was almost riddled by shot.

The massacre of Savenay had not settled La Vendée. There was spirit and strength enough left to rise again in fury at the barbarities of Carrier, Rosignol, and the ravages of the infernal columns. In the spring of 1794 armed parties were again on foot. The largest body was that under Charette, posted on the Isle Noirmoutier, to which many of the fugitives who escaped from the massacre of Savenay betook themselves. Amongst these was the wounded general D'Elbée, with his wife, and a brother of Cathelinau. Charette quitted the isle to make an attack on some of the republican troops left in small bodies in the country, consigning the care of the sick and wounded to the protection of a garrison of one thousand eight hundred men. This garrison was soon corrupted by the republican general, Turreau; it surrendered, and D'Elbée and his wife were both shot, and the sick and wounded treated with merciless cruelty. This was about the only place of any strength left the Vendéans; but a worse misfortune was at hand. The young and chivalrous Henri La Roche-Jaquelein, marching, at the head of a body of his own peasantry, betwixt Trementine and Nouaillé, met two republican soldiers. The count generously offered them quarter; but, instead of accepting it, one of them instantly levelled his musket, and shot him through the head. The two soldiers were immediately dispatched by his followers, and, supposing that a republican column must be at hand, they buried the three hastily in one grave, and fled. The young count was only in his twenty-first year, and with him died the hopes and confidence of his peasantry. Stofflet succeeded him in the command of his people, but Charette might be considered the commander-in-chief of the Vendeans.

The fall of Robespierre produced a marked change in the policy of the convention towards the royalists of this district, and they were promised, on laying down their arms, that they should enjoy their country and their religion in peace. On this assurance, Charette signed a treaty of pacification with the agents of the government at Nantes, in February, 1795.

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