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1806. there, received on board a detachment of troops and
artillery amounting to 286 officers and men; making the whole force of regulars embarked about 1200, including officers of every description. On the 2d of May the expedition quitted St. Helena, and on the 27th, being anxious to obtain the earliest local information, sir Home sailed for Rio de la Plata,
in the Narcissus, leaving the squadron and transArrives ports in charge of captain Rowley of the Raisonable. at is-. On the 8th of June the Narcissus anchored near the Flores. island of Flores, and on the 13th was joined by the
Raisonable and squadron.
It being deemed preferable, after a consultation between the two chiefs, to make the first attempt upon Buenos-Ayres, the marine battalion, consisting, including officers, of 340 marines and 100 seamen, under the command of captain William King, of the Diadem, (who had succeeded captain Downman, sent home with despatches announcing the surrender of the Cape,) was placed on board the Narcissus and Encounter. On the 16th these vessels, with the transports and troops, moved up the river; while the Diadem blockaded the port of Monte-Video, and the Raisonable and Diomede, by way of demonstration, cruised near Maldonado and other assailable
points in that vicinity. Owing to adverse winds and Lands currents, the foggy state of the weather, and the introops tricacy of the navigation, it was not until the afterBuenos noon of the 25th that the Narcissus and transports Ayres. anchored off Point Quelmey à Pouichin, about 12
miles from Buenos-Ayres, and not more than 90 from the spot they had quitted nine days before. No opposition being offered, the british troops, numbering, with the marine battalion, about 1630 men, in the course of the evening and night of the 25th, effected a landing without the slightest casualty.
On the morning of the 26th a body of Spaniards, estimated at 2000 men, were discovered posted on the brow of a hill about two miles from the beach. These were attacked, and after a slight skirmish
driven from their position by, the British, with a loss 1806, to the latter of only one killed, 12 wounded, and one June. missing. The British then hastened on to prevent the destruction of the bridge over the Rio Chuelo, a river about eight miles from the scene of action and three from Buenos-Ayres. The troops arrived too late; but, on the following day, the 27th, succeeded in passing the river by boats and rafts, prepared chiefly by the seamen, under the direction of captain King: Major-general Beresford then Sursummoned Buenos-Ayres to surrender on a capitula- of that tion, and, while the articles were preparing, took quiet
city. possession of that city, the viceroy and his troops having previously fled to Cordova. On the 2d of July the capitulation was signed, and that upon terms highly. favourable to the inhabitants. The quantity of specie captured in the place, and which was afterwards embarked on board the Narcissus frigate to be conveyed to England, amounted to 1086208 dollars.
The marine battalion, whose services were highly and justly extolled by the major-general, having reembarked on board the squadron, the troops alone remained in the town of Buenos-Ayres. For a while all seemed quiet; but at length the Spaniards, recovering from their panic, saw by what a handful of men they had been dispossessed of their town and its treasures. On the 31st of July sir Home became
Recapapprized, by a despatch froin the major-general, that ture of an insurrection was forming in the city. On the
Ayres. 4th of August M. Liniers, a french colonel in the spanish service, crossed the Rio de la Plata in a fog, unobserved by the british cruisers, and landed at Conchas, above Buenos-Ayres, bringing with him about 1000 men from Monte-Video and Lacramento. On the 10th the insurrection burst forth; and on the 12th major-general Beresford and his troops, after British an action in which they lost 48 officers and men taken killed, 107 wounded, and 10 missing, were com- prison. pelled to surrender; but, owing to the firmness of ers. the major-general, on terms highly favourable to the
1806. prisoners, in number about 1300. The loss on the July. part of the Spaniards, who are represented to have
assembled in the city nearly 10000 men, was stated at 700 in killed and wounded.
Commodore sir Home Popham, with the squadron, remained at anchor at the entrance of the river, blockading the port, until, by the arrival of reinforcements on the 5th and 12th of October, he was enabled to recommence offensive operations. Sir Home's first attempt was upon Monte-Video; but, finding the water too shallow to admit the ships to approach near enough to batter the walls with effect, the commodore, on the 28th, retired, with the intention of possessing bimself of the harbour of
Maldonado, formed by the island of Goretti, a strong tures place, defended by a battery of twenty 24-pounders.
On the 29th the frigates of the squadron anchored andGo- in the barbour, and disembarked, without opposition,
a detachment of troops, (including sailors and marines about 1000 strong,) under brigadier-general Backhouse. Having, after a slight skirmish, obtained possession of the village of Maldonado, the commodore, on the 30th, summoned Goretti to surrender, which it immediately did ; and thus matters remained in the Rio de la Plata at the close of the
Sir Home cap
of this expe
In the failure of the expedition to Buenos-Ayres, marke not the slightest imputation attaches to the soldiers failure or seamen engaged in it: they had done full as much
as could be expected from so small a number of men. dition. The error lay in trusting to information, which, be
sides its glaring improbability, was derived from such a source as the master of an american vessel. Stories about disaffected inhabitants, and their readiness to receive foreign aid, ought always to be listened to with suspicion. They are generally traps to catch the credulous, and, when baited with mines of gold and silver, seldom fail in accomplishing their object. This was not the only score upon which sir Home Popham was in fault. The lords of the
admiralty tried him for quitting his station without 1806. orders; and a court-martial, which sat on board the Gladiator at Portsmouth, from the 6th to the 11th Courtof March, 1807, pronounced upon him the following martial sentence : “The court has agreed that the charges sir have been proved against the said captain sir Home Popham. That the withdrawing, without orders so to do, the whole of any naval force from the place where it is directed to be employed, and the employing it in distant operations against the enemy, more especially if the success of such operations should be likely to prevent its speedy return, may be attended with the most serious inconvenience to the public service, as the success of any plan formed by his majesty's ministers for operations against the enemy, in which such naval force might be included, may by such removal be entirely prevented. And the court has further agreed, that the conduct of the said captain sir Home Popham, in the withdrawing the whole of the naval force under his command from the Cape of Good Hope, and the proceeding with it to Rio de la Plata, is highly censurable ; but, in consideration of circumstances, doth adjudge him to be only severely reprimanded, and he is hereby severely reprimanded accordingly.”
1807. The increase of large-sized three-deckers in the
navies of other powers calling for a proportionate increase in the first rates of the navy of Great Britain, two more ships of the size of the Caledonia, and a third, larger than any other except the Hibernia, appear among the ordered ships of the abstract for this year.* The paucity of vessels of the smaller classes in the same column occasions the average tonnage of the 52 vessels, summed up at the foot of it, to be more than double that of the 122 vessels, standing as the total in the corresponding column of the preceding year's abstract. As, among regular ships of war, the armament usually increases with the size, the british navy probably acquired more real strength by the lesser, than by the larger, number of vessels thus added to it.+
No one can doubt that it would greatly simplify
the ordnance-establishment of a navy, if all the guns Advan- were of the same length, weight, and caliber. Simitages larly-sized carriages, utensils, and shot would suffice equali- for all; and the only difference, in point of arma
ment, between any two vessels would be in the number of guns which they respectively mounted. As, however, the law of mechanics will not, where two or more batteries are required to be placed one above another in a ship, usually admit of an equalization in the length and weight of the guns, we must be satisfied to obtain it in the caliber.
The spanish and british navies present a few exceptions to this rule. The 80-gun ship Phonix, taken from the Spaniards in 1780, mounted long 24s, of
zation in gun calibers.
* See Appendix, Annual Abstract No. 15.
† For the different prize and casualty lists attached to this abstract, see Appendix, Nos. 19, 20, and 21.