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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5


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Our forces on the Italian coast were met by the active spirit of the new king of Naples, Joachim Murat. This dashing horseman determined to take the island of Capri, twenty-four miles from his capital, which was held nominally by the English for Ferdinand IY. He seized the opportunity, when the English ships of war were absent, to send over a strong force, under general Lamarque, from the neighbouring promontory of Sorrento, and readily compelled the garrison, which consisted of three weak regiments of Corsican and Maltese troops, to surrender. Murat and the French were immensely elated by this victory, as they called it, over a strong English army - the only English on the island being the lieutenant-colonel Hudson Lowe, a few officers, one corporal, and eight artillery-men. Murat had medals struck in commemoration of this glorious conquest, and the French historians have perpetuated the ludicrously false accounts of the affair.

Murat also took the town and castle of Scylla, but there his conquests ended. The Calabrians kept up their résistance in their mountains with unabated fierceness, falling on and destroying the French wherever they had the opportunity. Since the Austrians had recommenced the war, they had assumed fresh activity and hope. They gave no quarter to the French, and the French repaid their vengeance ten- fold. They burnt villages and cottages in their inroads and pursuits of the natives, and massacred the inhabitants without mercy. They crammed the prisons with them, and put them to death with the most cold-blooded tortures. They seized on ail the young men they could lay hands on, and marched them away in chain-gangs, to fight in Upper Italy, Germany, or Spain, against other struggling and oppressed peoples. Sir John Stuart, who had won the splendid victory of Maida, embarked, on the 13th of June, fifteen thousand British troops in Sicily, and proceeded to menace Naples, and create alarm in various quarters, so as to draw the French from Upper Italy, and thus relieve the Austrians there. With part of these forces siege was laid to Scylla; with the other, in person, Sir John anchored off Cape Miseno, close to Baiae and Puzzuoli, and directly across the bay, about a dozen miles from Naples. The greatest alarm was created there, and nothing would have been easier for Sir John than to have battered the town about the ears of the intruder king; but this the interests of the old king did not permit, especially as Ferdinand's second son, Don Leopold, was present as nominal commander, but, in reality, of no use whatever, being a most effeminate incapable. Sir John then sailed to the islands of Procida and Ischia, compelled the garrisons to capitulate, dismantled the fortifications, and then abandoned these islands.

During all this time our warships were scouring the whole of the coasts of Southern Italy, capturing every vessel that ventured out, and keeping the French generals on shore in constant agitation. In the encounters with the enemy's vessels on these coasts many brilliant exploits were performed by our captains, and by none more than by captain Staines, of the Cyane, frigate, who, on the 27th of June, stood a stout but most unequal fight with a Neapolitan frigate and corvette, under the very batteries of Naples. The siege of Scylla was raised by a strong French force, and Sir John Stuart returned to Sicily. Scylla was, however, shortly after abandoned again by the French, and its gung and stores, which appeared to have been left in some panic, fell into the hands of the English.

Sir John Stuart did not long remain idle at Palermo. At the suggestion of lord Collingwood, he sent out an expedition to seize on a number of the Ionian Isles, which had been taken possession of by the French, who were calculating on further conquests in that direction - namely, in continental Greece itself. The Warrior, commanded by captain Spranger, attended by other vessels, carried over one thousand six hundred troops under command of brigadier-general Oswald. The troops were half of them British, and half Corsicans, Sicilians, Calabrians, and other foreigners in British pay. They carried with them signor Foresti and an Ionian Greek as interpreters and agents with their country- men, many of whom, they were aware, had an indignant hatred of the French domination. They arrived off Cephalonia on the 28th of September, and on the 1st of October, being joined by their transports and gunboats, they anchored in the bay of Zante, and the following morning commenced a landing, under the cover of a brisk fire from some of the ships and gunboats. The land-batteries were soon silenced, and before night the French commander had not only surrendered the castle, but the islands of Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Cerigo. Thus England was at once master of the ancient kingdom of Ulysses. Two of the seven islands remained for the time in the hands of the French - Santa Maura and Corfu. But Santa Maura, after a sharp contest, was carried, in the following April, by general Oswald, most brilliantly supported by lieutenant- colonel Hudson Lowe, major Church, and other officers. General Camus, the French commandant, surrendered with his garrison of one thousand men. There remained only Corfu, but this, the most important island of the group, would have required a much stronger force to reduce it; but as it was completely useless to the French, being cut off from ail communication with France by our ships, it remained till 1814, when, at the congress of Paris, it was made over by Louis XVIII., and the whole seven islands were declared a republic, under the protection of Great Britain. Such was the origin of our connection with the Ionian Islands, where, till lately, we maintained a commissioner and a body of troops, much to the discontent of a party in the islands, who desired to join the kingdom of Greece.

At the opening of this year a peace was contracted with Turkey; but not with the sultan Selim, with whom we had been at war, nor with his successor, Mustapha. Mustapha had been deposed by Mustapha Bairactar, the pasha of Rudchuck, who had marched to Constantinople in the May of 1807, with a strong force, and put down Mustapha, intending to restore Selim, and the reforms which he had carried on. But Mustapha immediately put Selim to death, and sought for their younger brother, Mahmoud, to put him to death also. It is a tradition that, whenever the issue of the house of Osman ceases, the Ottoman empire is at an end. Could Mustapha, therefore, destroy Mahmoud, he was certain that his own life was safe, as he would then be the only survivor of his race, and the most excited or fanatical Mussulmans would not dare to kill him. But young Mahmoud was concealed by the servants who attended on him, and had his person put into the hands of Mustapha Bairactar. No sooner was the pasha of Rudchuck secure of Mahmoud, than he sent and had the sultan Mustapha strangled, and Mahmoud proclaimed sultan. As the last of his race, Mahmoud's life was perfectly safe. Bairactar became his grand vizier, and he put to death those who had opposed and helped to murder Selim; and the women of the harem who had rejoiced at Selim's death were sewn up in sacks and thrown into the Bosporus. The savage Cabalechy Oglee, who had occasioned the insurrection against Selim, was also put to death, and ail the officers of the yamacks who could be caught. Bairactar recommenced the reforms which Selim had prosecuted, but the mufti and the oulemas, the janissaries, under their new agha, rose against him, and burnt him alive as he was shut up in his palace. Mahmoud fell into the hands of the mufti and the janissaries, who compelled him to swear that he would never favour the reforms and the customs of the Christians. The new capitan pasha was also murdered, and dragged through the streets; the janissaries fell on the regular troops, or nizam gedittes, and massacred them, and Mahmoud appeared completely in their hands; but he was contemplating inwardly the utter extinction of the janissaries when he should have a more manly power, and this he thoroughly accomplished in 1825.

Whilst the throne of Turkey was thus occupied by a mere boy, in the hands of a terrible military control, and whilst his regular troops were dispersed, Alexander of Russia, famed for his piety, thought it a fine opportunity to seize on his neighbour's lands. His ministers, at the commencement of 1809, at the congress of Yassi, demanded, as a condition of peace, the cession of the Turkish provinces on the left bank of the Danube. The Turks, of course, refused to thus dismember their empire for the aggrandisement of Russia; and Alexander, who was resolved to have those provinces by hook or by crook, immediately declared war on Turkey, on the shameless plea that it had made peace with England. The Russians were supported by the Greeks, and other inhabitants of Moldavia and Wallachia; but, on crossing the Danube, and pushing forward into Bulgaria, they were beaten on every occasion. On the 22nd of October a desperate conflict took place betwixt them under the walls of Silistria, which continued from morning tili night, in which the Russians were driven back, and, in a second engagement, so completely routed, and that with great slaughter, that they retired from Bulgaria, and went into winter-quarters in Moldavia and Wallachia. In this campaign it was found that the guns were served by French officers, though Buonaparte professed to be Willing that Alexander should possess himself of Constantinople. By the peace with Turkey, the trading ports of that empire were again opened to us, and our manufactures, entering there, spread over ail the continent, and were sold and worn in Hamburg, Bremen, and other towns where they were strictly excluded by sea.

The conquest of colonies in various parts of the world continued. In 1808 we had captured the French West India islands of Marie Galante and Deseada, and we added to them the French portion of San Domingo, and the colonies of Cayenne and Martinique. We also once more seized the French possession of Senegal, on the African coast. Many of these acquisitions were of more cost to us in money and life than they were worth; but their capture served to mortify the towering ambition of Buonaparte, who, domineering almost without control on the European continent, yet felt that in every other part of the world there was not a foot of French territory secure from the maritime supremacy of England. Yet, to have retained many of these possessions after a general peace, would have been rather suicidal than beneficial. Their climates were hostile to English constitutions, and, about this time, the labours of major Tulloch and of Mr. Marshall, an army surgeon, afterwards deputy-inspector of hospitals, began to draw the attention of the government and public to the condition of our troops in our various colonies and islands, showing at what cost of human life we held them, and introducing more healthy regulations into all of them. This, however, was the growth of long years, and it was not till 1838 that major Tulloch's statistical report on the sickness, mortality, and invaliding amongst the troops in the West Indies was laid, by her majesty's command, before parliament, and became the foundation of an especial department in the war-office, under major Tulloch, for regular sanitary returns regarding our troops in all our colonies.

The naval transactions of this year were almost wholly confined to watching the French, Spanish, and Italian coasts, to thwart the French, who, on their part, were continually on the watch for any of our blockading ships being driven by the weather, or called to some other station, in order to run out, and convey men and stores into Spain. The last action of lord Collingwood took place in this service. Though his health was fast failing, and he had repeatedly entreated the admiralty to allow him to give up the command and go home to his family - the only chance of his long survival - they always refused. His complaint was declared by the faculty to be owing to his long confinement on board ships, and he had now scarcely set foot on shore for three years. Notwithstanding all this, with a singular selfishness, the admiralty continued to keep him on board, and he was too high-minded to resign his commission whilst he could be of service to his country. In this state of health, he was lying off Toulon, blockading that port, when he was driven to Minorca by a gale of wind. He had regained the coast of Catalonia, when he heard that the French fleet had issued from Toulon, and were making for Barcelona. The whole British fleet were in exultation; but, on sighting this supposed fleet, it was found to consist only of three sail of the line, two frigates, and about twenty other vessels, carrying provisions to the French army at Barcelona. They no sooner caught view of the English fleet, than they made off in all haste, and the English gave chase. Admiral Martin was the first to come up with them, in the gulf of Lyons, where two of the ships of the line ran ashore, and were set fire to by the French admiral, Baudin. Two others ran into the harbour of Cette; and eleven of the store-ships ran into the bay of Rooas, and took refuge under the powerful batteries; but lord Collingwood, in spite of the batteries, sent in the ship's boats, and in the face of the batteries, and of boarding nets, set fire to and destroyed them. Five other store-ships were captured. This was the last exploit of the brave and worthy Collingwood. His health gave way so fast, that, having in vain endeavoured again to induce the admiralty to relieve him of his command, expressly assuring them that he was quite worn out, on the 3rd of March he surrendered his command I to rear-admiral Martin, and set sail in the Ville de Paris for England. But it was too late; he died at sea on the 7th of March, 1810. Very few admirals have done more signal service, or have displayed a more sterling English character than lord Collingwood; and perhaps none were ever more grudgingly rewarded or so unfeelingly treated by the admiralty, who, in fact, killed him by a selfish retention of his services, when they could be continued only at the cost of his life.

Another attempt was to burn a portion of the Brest fleet, which was found lying off Rochelle, in the Basque Roads. Lord Gambier, on the 11th of March, wrote to the admiralty, proposing to send fire-ships amongst them, and destroy them. The admiralty seized on the idea; but, instead of leaving lord Gambier to work out his own plan, they appointed lord Cochrane to that service, under Gambier. This was sure to create jealousies, not only in the mind of Gambier - to whom the admiralty had written on the 19th, approving his design, and ordering him to execute it according to his own ideas - but also in the minds of other officers in Gambier's fleet. Lord Cochrane proceeded to the Basque Roads in a frigate, arriving there on the 3rd of April, and presenting lord Gambier a letter, informing him of the change of plan by the admiralty. Mr. Congreve, with a supply of his rockets, was to accompany the fire- ships from England; and on the 11th, these having arrived, and being joined by several large transports which lord Gambier had converted into fire-ships, the attack was made. The French squadron was lying betwixt the isle of Aix and the town of Rochelle, in a narrow passage, commanded by powerful batteries both on the land and on the isle of Aix. Besides this, numbers of gun-boats were placed so as to defend the approach to the vessels 5 but still more, a very strong boom was stretched across the passage, formed of enormous cables, secured by equally enormous anchors, and supported by buoys. None of the officers, not even Gambier or Cochrane, seem to have been aware of this boom till some of the foremost fire-ships ran against it; and several of the ships, whilst thus detained, exploded, being too far off to do any harm. But captain Woolridge, in the Mediator, burst the boom asunder, and the fire-ships sailed up towards the French ships in the dark, and exploded, one after another, with a terrible uproar - one fire-ship alone containing fifteen hundred barrels of gunpowder, besides three or four hundred shells and three or four thousand hand-grenades. But the only mischief done was to cause the French to cut their cables, and run their ships ashore. There, the next morning, they were seen; and lord Cochrane signalled to lord Gambier to stand in and destroy them before the rising of the tide should float them, and enable them to run up the river Charente. No ships, however, arriving, Cochrane again more urgently signalled that all the fleet was aground, except two vessels, and might easily be destroyed. Lord Gambier paid no attention to these signals, and, as the tide rose, the vessels floated and escaped up the river, except four, which still stuck fast, and were destroyed by Cochrane. Those which escaped were all greatly damaged. Had Gambier stood in with his vessels promptly, no doubt the whole squadron would have been destroyed.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5

The Battle of Talavera
The Battle of Talavera >>>>
Lord Collingwood
Lord Collingwood >>>>
Via Mala
Via Mala >>>>
Execution of Andrew Hofer
Execution of Andrew Hofer >>>>
Campo Vaccino
Campo Vaccino >>>>
Pope Pius VIII
Pope Pius VIII >>>>
Burdett riots
Burdett riots >>>>
Sir Francis Burdett
Sir Francis Burdett >>>>
Marriage of Napoleon
Marriage of Napoleon >>>>
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball >>>>
Scene in the Peninsula
Scene in the Peninsula >>>>
Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam >>>>

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