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Colonies in North America broke out in 1775. The disaffection of the Americans to the British Government had been progressively gaining strength since November, 17G8; and, on the 19th of April, in the former year, hostilities at last commenced between the Royalists and Republicans atLexington. In January, 177G, the navy consisted of 131 shiDS of the line, and 209 vessels below fifty guns, a smaller force than the country had possessed for the precedin" twenty years. The war with America, however, infused fresh vigour into the Admiralty, which has never since been relaxed. On the 4th of July, 1776, Congress disclaimed all allegiance to the British crown, and declared the Americans to be a free and independent nation. In February, 1778, France concluded a treaty of alliance against England with her revolted Colonies. In this year the British navy was increased to 450 vessels. A princely present was made, in the following year, by the East India Company to the nation, of three ships, of seventy-four guns.
War was declared against Spain in 1779, and against Holland in 1780. In the former year, a great sensation was produced throughout the country, by the appearance of the united fleets of France and Spain off Plymouth, during a cruise in the channel. In January, 1780, Admiral Rodney took and destroyed twenty-nine sail of Spanish ships, seven of which were of the first class. In August, fifty-five sail of British merchantmen, including five Indiamen, were captured by the united fleets of France and Spain. On the 23rd of September, a gallant action took place between his Majesty's ship Serapis, Captain Pearson, and Paul Jones, the celebrated privateer.
The year 1781, is memorable for the operations of Admiral Rodney in the West Indies, and for the severe, hut undecisive engagement, between the British and Dutch fleets, under Admirals Parker and Zoutman, off the Dogger Bank: one Dutch seventy-four was sunk, but no prizes were made. In January, 1782, such had been the exertions made by the Admiralty, that the British fleet consisted of 600 vessels, 161 of which, were line-ofbattle ships. In April, 1782, Lord Rddney gained a brilliant victory over a French fleet in the West Indies; five ships of the line were taken, and one sunk, amongst which was that of the Admiral de Grasse.
In October, a severe but undecisive action took place, between an English fleet of 34 sail of the line, under Lord Howe, and the combined fleets of France and Spain, of 46 ships of the line, off Gibraltar. On the 3rd of September, 1783, peace was concluded between Britain, France, and the United States. Our navy then consisted
of G17 vessels, of 500,781 tons burden, being an increase of 157,000 tons, since His Majesty's accession. Eightyseven of the enemy's ships, from 110 to 20 guns, besides a large number of smaller vessels, and several American frigates, had been taken or destroyed during the war; our floss was much larger than we had sustained in any previous war, thirty-one ships, from 74 to 20 guns, and about 50 smaller vessels, being lost; but such was the activity of the government, that no less than 100 ships were on the stocks at the conclusion of the war; eighty-three of which were building in merchants' yards.
French Revolutionary War. At the commencement of the French Revolution, in 1789, the navy had never been in a more efficient condition; and in February, 1791, ninety-eight ships of the line alone, were either commissioned or at sea. The threatening aspect assumed by France, the protection required for our extended commerce, of which, in fact, we might be almost said to enjoy a monopoly, and the safety of our immense colonies, rendered such precautions a matter not only of prudence, but of necessity.
On the 1st of February, 1793, the French Convention at last declared war against Great Britain and Holland. The principal naval events in that year, were the surrender of Toulon, with its arsenal and shipping, to a British fleet under Lord Hood; the siege of Dunkirk; and several gallant single actions between British and French ships; the most remarkable of which, was the capture of the Reunion, 38-gun frigate, by the Crescent, 36, Captain Sir James Saumarez; 138 men, out of 310 in the former, were killed and wounded, but not a single British seaman in the Crescent received the slightest injury.
The year 1794, is memorable for the victory gained by Lord Howe, on the glorious first of June, when the naval power of the French republicans was first effectually humbled. Lord Howe was at sea with the Channel fleet, more than three weeks before he fell in with the enemy; during this period, the most intense anxiety prevailed in England, as it was known, that twenty-seven French ships of the line had sailed from Brest, on the 16th of May, under the command of Admiral Villaret, an officer of great merit and experience. The enemy was first discovered on the 28th of May; the British Admiral immediately gave chase, but owing to the stormy state of the weather a partial action only took place; a tog separated the combatants during the two following days, but at length, on Sunday morning, the 1st of June, the sun rose bright and clear, and discovered the hostile fleets within sight of each other. In point of numbers they were nearly equal, twenty-six French ships of the line being opposed to twenty-five British, but the former were greatly superior in size and weight of metal. At fifty-two minutes past nine, the Royal Charlotte opened her fire; the action soon became general, and did not entirely cease until four o'clock. The damage sustained by the British fleet was inconsiderable, for at the conclusion of the engagement, fifteen sail of the line were almost uninjured; seven French ships were taken, one of which sunk, with 420 of her crew, before they could be removed. Lord Howe has been severely censured for allowing the French Admiral to escape with the remainder of his ships, five of which were dismasted; and it has been proved beyond a doubt, that had he burnt his prizes and given chase, nearly the whole of the enemy's force would have been captured. This circumstance was, howeTer, overlooked, in the universal rejoicing which spread over the land, when the glorious tidings of the victory became known.
Amongst the many gallant actions which took place in 1796, was the defeat of a squadron of six French frigates by the Glatton, 64, under the command of Captain Trollop, and the engagement between the Minerve, 36, Commodore Nelson, and two Spanish frigates, one of which was taken, and the other beaten off. In December, a large French fleet, with 20,000 soldiers on board, arrived in Bantry Bay, Ireland; but, as in the case of the Spanish Armada, they were unable to land the troops, and dispersed with great loss by the violence of the weather.
On the 14th of February, 1797, a great victory was gained by Sir John Jervis (afterwards Earl St. Vincent), over the Spanish fleet, off the cape of that name. The British force consisted of fifteen sail of the line, four frigates, and two smaller vessels; whilst the Spaniards had twenty-seven sail of the line, ten frigates, and a brig, all of superior size and weight of metal. This glorious victory may be attributed to the skill and presence of mind of the immortal Nelson, (in the Captain, 74.) who had, for several years previously, been reaping a rich harvest of fame in the Mediterrranean. He disobeyed a signal which was made by the Admiral, to tack in succession, which he perceived would be followed with disastrous consequences: this brought him at once singly into action with the Santissima Trinidad, 136, the San Joseph, and Salvador del Mundo, each 112, and four other first-rate ships; for nearly an hour did Nelson, supported alone by Sir T. Troujiridge in the Culloden, nobly maintain an action with this immense force; two of which, the San Joseph 112, and San Nicholas, 80, he ultimately boarded and captured. The enemy lost four ships, and nearly 6000 men killed, wounded, and prisoners, during the action; our own loss only consisted of 300 men.
On the 14th of April, the country was thrown into a state of consternation by an alarming mutiny in the Channel-fleet off Spithead. Since the reign of Charles the Second, notwithstanding the- great increase which had taken place in the price of every necessary of life, no addition had been made to the pay or allowances of the seamen in the Royal Navy: their urgent remonstrances on the subject had been disregarded, but it was now found to be a measure of absolute necessity, as it certainly was of common justice, to redress these grievances: several lives were, however, sacrificed during the mutiny. A still more dangerous mutiny broke out on the 27th of May, in the North Sea fleet, fifteen sail of which was then under the command of Admiral Duncan in Yarmouth Roads, bound to the Texel. The demands of tbe mutineers were exceedingly preposterous; and they insisted, amongst other things, that seamen should, in future, sit on courts martial, where one of their own class was tried. Most of the ships then deserted the admiral, several joining the fleet then at the Nore, which was also in the highest state of insubordination. Here they placed themselves under the command of a man named Richard Parker, who sent delegates with fresh propositions to the Board of Admiralty, then at Sheerness, which were at once rejected. The mutineers then carried off some gun-boats out of Shoerness-harlwur, after firing at the garrison. On the 29th of May, they blockaded the mouth of the Thames, not permitting a single vessel to pass, except a few fishing-boats and neutrals, who received an order signed by Parker. The consternation in London, and indeed throughout the empire, now became very great, and the 3 per cent consols fell, to 74J. Parker threatened to put to sea, and deliver up, or sell
the fleet to the enemy. This, however, caused great disgust amongst the less violent of the mutineers, and symptoms of insubordination began to appear. The greatest exertions were now made by government; the buoys along the coast were taken up, and the forts at Tilbury, Gravesend, Sheerness, &c, were strongly fortified, and provided with heated shot. On the 9th of June, the fleet refused to obey Parker's signal to put to sea; and on the 13th he was deserted by all the ships, when he surrendered in the Sandwich, was put into irons, and executed on board that vessel, on the 29th of the month. Several others were soon afterwards executed. This mutiny extended to the fleet off Cadiz, under Earl St. Vincent, but it was suppressed by his firmness and decision.
In July, an unsuccessful expedition was undertaken against Teneriffe; Nelson, who commanded, lost his right arm, and 250 men were killed and wounded. On tbe lotli of October, Admiral Duncan gained a splendid and decisive victory over the Dutch fleet, off the coast of Holland, taking nine sail of tbe line.
The year 1798, in many respects one of the most important in our naval history, was distinguished by the Battle Of The Nile, "a victory," says Dr. Southey, "the most complete and glorious in our annals; 'Victory' said Nelson, ' was not a name strong enough for such a scene;' he called it a conquest." Of the enemy's fleet of thirteen sail of the line, and four frigates, nine of the former were taken, and two burnt; Bruyx, the French Admiral, an officer of great ability, was killed, and his ship the I'Orient, of 130 guns, blown up*: two frigates were also destroyed, and of the whole French force, only four ships succeeded in making their escape. "The British loss in killed and wounded, was 875. Westcott was the onlv captain who fell; 3105 of the French, including the wounded, were sent on shore by cartel, and 5225 perished." Nelson was now at the summit of his glory.
In 1799, amongst other splendid naval actions, was the surrender of the Dutch fleet in the Texel, to the English squadron under Admiral Mitchell. In March 1800, tlio Queen Charlotte, 110, blew up at Leghorn, and Captain Todd, with 800 of his crew, lamentably perished. At the latter end of this year, a confederation was entered into in the North, against England, between Russia, Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark. In consequence of this confederacy, it was determined by the British Government, in the following spring, to send an expedition against Denmark, which then possessed a navy of twenty-throe ships of the line, and about thirtv-one frigates and smaller vessels.
On the 2nd of April, the British fleet, under the command of Sir Hyde Parker, with whom was Lord Nelson, entered the Sound. On the 4th, Lord Nelson, who commanded in the action, destroyed nearly the whole of the Danish fleet, after an obstinate engagement, bombarded Copenhagen, and obliged that government to enter into an armistice, which put an end to the armed neutrality of the North. On the 12th of July, Sir James Saumarez, with only five ships under his command, defeated a French squadron of ten ships of the line, two of which blew up, after engaging the Superb, 74, commanded by Captain (now Sir Richard) Keats.
On the 1st of October, the navy consisted of 864 vessels, (including 180 line-of-battle ships,) 763 of which were actually in commission. On the 27th of March, 1S02, a treaty of peace was signed at Amiens. During the war, 570 ships had been taken from the enemy; 86 of which were line-of-battle ships, and 209 frigates: our own loss, during this period, only consisted of 59 ships, forty-one of which were small-class vessels! Upwards of 50,000 seamen were employed during the peace, which only lasted until May, 1803, when war was again declared against France and Holland. In December, 1804, at a period when the naval star of Britain shone out brightly, Spain joined in the contest against this country.
The victory off Trafalgar, and the Death of Nelson, render 1805 the most interesting year in our naval history. In April, the French and Spanish fleets formed a junction at Cadiz; Nelson, who was then in the Mediterranean, immediately engaged in a pursuit across the Atlantic, which, for its "extent, rapidity, and perseverance," has been pronounced unequalled; but the enemy eluded his grasp, and he was obliged reluctantly to return to England,
• This ship had specie on board (the plunder of Malta,) to the amount of £600,000. sterling.
on the 15th of August. Sir Robert Calder, who had, in ihe wean time, been also sent out to intercept the enemy's fleet on their return, was more fortunate; he fell in with them ofT Cape Finisterre, captured two sail of the line, but attempted nothing further. In September, Nelson, on whom this hopes of the nation were once more centred, jailed in the Victory, (now the nag-ship at Portsmouth,) for Cadis, where he assumed the command of the fleet; but did not tall in with the enemy till the 21st of October. "At daybreak, the combined fleets were distinctly seen from, the Victory's deck, formed in a close line of battle a-head, on the starboard tack, about twelve miles to leeward. Our fleet consisted of twenty-seven sail of the line, and four frigates; theirs of thirty-three, and seven large frigates. Their superiority was greater in size and ireisjht of metal than in numbers. They had four thousand troops on board, and the best riflemen that could be procured, were dispersed through the ships."
Our limits will nof permit us even to glance at the details of a victory, which must be familiar to most of our countrymen. Suffice it to say that Nelson's last signal, '•england Expects Every Man To Do His Duty," was faithfully obeyed that day. The defeat of the enemy was complete and decisive: twenty ships of the line struck; and four French line-of-battle ships, which had behaved in a most dastardly manner at the close of the action, were taken a few days afterwards by Sir Richard Strachan. But one event darkened the national rejoicing, our country had lost its greatest naval hero. "The death of Nelson," say3 Dr. Southey, "was felt in England as something more than a public calamity; men started at the intelligence and turned pale; as if they had heard of the loss of a dear friend. So perfectly, indeed, had he performed his part, that the maritime war, after the Battle of Trafalgar, was considered at an end: the fleets of the enemy were not merely defeated, but destroyed; new navies must be built, and a new race of seamen reared for them, before the possibility of their invading our shores could again be contemplated."
Our notices of the numberless naval exploits which distinguished the remaining ten years of the war, must necessarily be brief. A continued career of success contributed to raise the British navy, to a magnitude, to which the accumulated navies of, the whole world, at any period, bore but a small proportion. In September, 1807, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish fleet once more surrendered to British valour; Lord Cathcart and Admiral Gambier captured eighteen sail of the line and fifteen frigates during the expedition. On the 1st of December, Russia declared war against England, at which period, the number of seamen in the British navy, was 130,000! The naval force at the close of the following year, amounted to G27 ships in commission, and 66 building, of an aggregate buiden of nearly 900,000 tons: the larger classes of ships were now greatly increased in burden. In 1810, the country had to deplore the loss of Admiral Lord Colling Wood, who died at sea, off Minorca, on the 6th of March. The period between the years 1806-12, abounds with instances of naval heroism and gallantry. Including ships in ordinary and tenders, there were then seldom less than 1000 pendants floating in the breeze.
On the lsth of June, 1812, war wns declared between England and the United States of America. This event gave rise to some of the most interesting passages which have ever distinguished maritime warfare. Frequently largely manned by British seamen, and greatly superior in size and weight of metal, the American navy, for nearly a vear after the commencement of the war, had an almost uninterrupted career of success over the British. The Guerriere 38, the Frolic brig, the Macedonian 38, the Java 38, and the Peacock 18, we»i8 successively captured by American ships. The British name was, however, at last gloriously retrieved, by the action between the ShanNon And The Chesapeake, an event which we shall detail at length, nearly in the words of one of the most eminent of our naval historians, Captain E. P. Brenton; especially as it conveys a vivid idea of an engagement at tea. We must premise, that the Shannon ami her opponent were equal in the number of their guns, thirty-eight Impounders, but the American was greatly superior in the number of her crew, having 1W men more than the Shannon.
Captain P. B. V. Broke, had, for many days previously to the action, been watching the Chesapeake as she lay in the harbour at Boston, and on the 1st of June, (1813,) seat in
a challenge to Captain Lawrence, her commander, to come out and fight; promising that no other ship should interfere, whatever might be the event of the battle, and requiring the same pledge from Captain Lawrence. Whether it was in compliance with this challenge, or in obedience to his orders, that the American captain put to sea, is uncertain. The day was fine, with a light breeze, when the Shannon, with a blue ensign at her peak, stood in towards Boston. About eleven o'clock, the Chesapeake came out of Boston Roads, accompanied by fifty or sixty pleasure-boats and a privateer schooner, to witness the defeat of the English. Much manoeuvring then took place: at last, about forty-five minutes past five, the enemy hauled up to within 200 yards of the Shannon's weather beam, and gave three cheers. On this, Captain Broke addressed his ship's company, told them that that day would decide the superiority of British seamen, when well trained, over those of other nations, and that the Shannon would show in that day's action, how short a time the Americans had to boast when opposed to equal force. The two ships being now not more than a stone's throw asunder, the action commenced by the Shannon giving her broadside, be ginning with the aftermost guns on the starboard side. The enemy passing too fast ahead to receive more than a second discliargc from the aftermost guns, the boarders were ordered to prepare, when the Chesapeake attempting to haul her foresail up, fell aboard the Shannon, and got entangled with her. Hero a sharp fire of musketry took place between the marines of both ships; when this had lasted" a few minutes, the enemy appeared to flinch, and Captain Broke, at the head of his boarders, mounted the forecastle carronade, and leapt on the quarter-deck of the Chesapeake, followed by Lieutenant Watt and the marines. This division was supported by the main-deck boarders. Captain Broke, followed by about sixty of his people, put to death all that opposed his passage around the gangway, and drove the Americans below, while the how-guns of the Shannon made dreadful havoc on the main-deck of the enemy. Mr. Comahan, a midshipman of the Shannon, placed himself on her main-yard, whence, with musketry, he killed, or wounded, nearly all the men stationed in the main and foretops of the enemy. Captain Broke, in the meantime, with the boarders, had cleared the enemy's quarter-deck, though a little impeded by their fire. Our men gave three cheers, rushed forward, and carrying all before them, united on the forecastle, and drove the crew of the Chesapeake below. It was in making a charge along the larboard-gangway, that Captain Broke nobly saved the life of an American seaman who called for quarter; but the villain, suddenly snatching up a cutlass, gave his deliverer a blow on the back of his head, which had nearly proved fatal at the time, and from the effects of which he has never recovered. The Shannon's people instantly cut the miserable man to pieces. The Americans were rallying on the main-deck, when the English made another desperate rush amongst them; and, in fifteen minutes from the commencement of the action, the British Hag had supplanted that of America, and the Chesapeake was a prize to the Shannon. While the contest was proceeding the two ships had separated, and a small British blue ensign had been hoisted at the gaff-end of the Chesapeake. Lieutenant Watt, first of the Shannon, unfortunately wished toexchange this fit'g for a large white ensign which he had brought with him for that purpose. The people on board the Shannon perceiving that the firing still continued, and that the blue ensign was hauled down, concluded that the enemy had overpowered the small party of Englishmen then on board. Under this natural, but fatal error, they directed their fire at the Chesapeake's quarter-deck, killed Lieut. Watt, three of the Shannon's men, and wounded some others; nor was it till the small blue ensign was re-hoisted that the firing ceased. The crew of the Chesapeake having been driven into the hold of their own ship, a marine sentinel was placed over the main-hatchway, when the Americans treacherously fired up from the hoM and killed him. On this our men poured down a heavy fire on them, until they again called for quarter, and promised to deliver wp the offender. The prisoners of war were then secured and handcuffed on the orlop-deck. Many of them were drunk and riotous, but the others tranquil and well-behaved.
At seven in the evening, the pleasure-boats and the privateer which ,had accompanied the Chesapeake to the scene of action, returned to the afflicted town of Boston, where suppers and balls had been foolishly prepared for the anticipated victors and their British captives. The action was one of the most bloody and determined ever fought between two ships of their class in so snort a time. The loss on ooarci the Shannon, out of 330 men, was three officers and twenty-three men killed; Captain Broke, two officers, and fifty-eight men wounded; eighty-seven total. On mustering the crew of the Chesapeake the following day, "they found she began the action with 440 men, of whom the second lieutenant, master, marine officers, some midshipmen, and ninety seamen and marines were killed; Captain Lawrence mortally wounded, and the first and second lieutenants, some midshipmen, and 110 men also wounded; making a total of killed and wounded between the two ships of nearly 300 men, or twenty men for every minute the ships were in action.
Three American armed vessels were taken by the British during the remainder of this year. In 1814, peace was concluded between the Allied Powers and the French Government. In this and the following year, the American frigates, Essex and President*, were captured by the British frigates, Phoebe and Endymion, and the ports of the United States were put under blockade by Sir A. Cochrane. In September, 1814, the Avon, British eighteen-gun brig was sunk in a desperate action with the American ship-sloop, Wasp (of superior force), off Kinsalo ID Ireland; and shortly after, a small British squadron in Lake Champluin, was captured by an American squadron, after a severe conflict. In 1815, the Battle of Waterloo led to a general peace.
The bombardment of Algiers, and destruction of the Algcrine squadron, on the 7th of August, 1816, by the British fleet under Lord Exmouth, and the splendid victory over the Turkish fleet, in the Bav of Navanno, by Sir Edward Codrington, have been the principal naval events since the peace. During the last twenty years, great improvements have been made in naval architecture, especially by Sir Robert Seppings and Captain Symonds; the plans introduced by the latter, since he has held the office of Surveyor of the Navy, have,"however, occasioned considerable controversy amongst nautical men: by considerably increasing the breadth of beam, he has greatly added to the tonnage of our men-of-war, a striking instance of which is afforded by the Vernon, a frigate launched at Woolwich, in 1832, This splendid vessel, indisputably
* The President, however, only struck on the advance of the romone, another British ship.
the finest frigate in the world, although only pierced for 50 guns, admeasures upwards of 2082 tons burden.
In the event of another war, there is every probability that the incalculably-important invention of steam-navigation will entirely alter the system of naval warfare.
We cannot better conclude this brief notice of the rise and progress of a service, which, under the protection of an all-gracious Providence, has ever been the surest safeguard of our country in the hour of danger, than by an extract from the speech of Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty, in proposing the Navy Estimates, 1833. After comparing the present state of the navy with that of two antecedent periods, 1778 and 1793, the right hon. baronet said,— "Though the number of vessels which we possessed at the present moment was less than at those periods, the proportion of vessels, of a large rate, had been greatly increased, and the number of men necessary to be employed was also much greater. The naval superiority of this country would be best exemplified by referring to the present force of the three other principal naval powers,—France, Russia, and America. France, at the present time, had thirty-one sail of the line and thirty-seven frigates; Russia, thirty-six. sail of the line and twenty-three frigates; and America, eight sail of the line and ten frigates. It would, therefore, be perceived, that this country had nothing to apprehend froni an inferiority in ner maritime force, which then consisted of 348 ships. It was, indeed, upon the maintenance of her naval power, that England depended for her national character, and her national existence. Let but her naval superiority be once lost, and owing to her insular position, and to various other circumstances, she conld no longer maintain her present high rank in the social system, she must necessarily fall into the place of a second-rate power. On the other hand, if we maintain our navy as it ought to be maintained, we have nothing to fear,—England must always be what she is at present, first among the nations of the world.
The estimates for the British navy, for 1833, amounted to 4,658,134/.: and on the 1st of January, 1834, it consisted, according to the official return, of 557 vessels of the various classes, including twelve ships of 120 guns, fourteen from 104 to 112 guns, and twenty-two steam vessels, most of which are armed.
In a future Paper, we purpose giving some account ot the rise and present state of the Commercial Shipping of Great Britain, including a History of the Port of London.
LONDON! Published by JOHN WILLIAM PARKER, West Strand , and sold by all Bookseller*.
L Origin And Description Of The Shield. The year 1814 will ever be marked as one of the most memorable in history, for it is that, in which was happily terminated the fierce and sanguinary war, that, without intermission, had desolated Europe, since the rupture of the transient peace of Amiens, ml 803;—it is that in which Napoleon was driven from the throne he had usurped, and in which France, no longer oppressed by his grievous tyranny, joyfully received back her legitimate sovereign, Louis the Eighteenth.
But these happy events were preceded by other
of a very different character; for, during eleven
long and eventful years before they came to pass,—
that is, from 1803 to 1814,—a state of inveterate
enmity had subsisted constantly between Buonaparte and Great Britain, and at intervals between him and the other great European powers. If to this period of warfare, we add that which elapsed from the commencement of the hostilities that grew out of the French Revolution in 1793, to their ending in 1802, we shall have a melancholy, and almost uninterrupted succession of the miseries of strife and bloodshed for nearly a quarter of a century.
It would be idle to dwell at large upon the ills which afflicted mankind during this period; they are such as good men have always lamented, and none but the wicked have rejoiced in exciting. When, therefore, in 1814, a general Peace came to bless the nations of Europe, it was received with heartfelt eagerness, and the more so, because, being based