Imágenes de páginas



battery. In returning that fire, the frigate discharged 1809. from her carronades some Shrapnel shells; one of which, bursting near the magazine of the fort, containing 3000 barrels of powder and a great quantity of cartridges, caused an explosion that killed 75

The battery, fired no more, and the Impérieuse passed on.

If we except the peaceable surrender, on the 17th of August, to the combined forces under the earl of Rosslyn and sir Richard Keats, of the islands of Schouwen and Duiveland, situated to the northward of the eastern Scheldt, and far enough from the french fleet at Antwerp, the reduction of Flushing was the virtual termination of the campaign. On Earl of the 21st the earl of Chatham removed his head- Chatquarters from Middleburg to Veer; and, crossing the Veer. Sloe, arrived on the 23d at Goes, the head-quarters of sir John Hope. In consequence of the accumulating force at Cadzand, it had been considered proper to leave as many as 10000 men in possession of Walcheren: consequently there were about 28000 applicable to the remaining objects of the expedition, the reduction, successively, of Lillo, Liefkenshoech, and Antwerp. Each of the two first-named forts mounted, according to the french accounts, 40 pieces of heavy cannon, and were at this time strongly garrisoned.

It was now discovered by the british general, that Inthe french forces at these places and at Berg-op-Zoom strength amounted to upwards of 35000 men. Moreover an ofLillo, alarming sickness, since the 19th, had begun to show itself in the british camp. The principal cause, no doubt, was the inundation of the country, the French having cut the dike to the right of the town. The earl of Chatham learnt also, for the first time, that Antwerp was strongly fortified; that the approaches to it could be completely inundated; that the citadel commanded the arsenal and dock-yard ; that the ships of war, with therr guns and stores in, could retire to a spot within one mile of Ruplemonde, which is five miles above Antwerp; and that, by taking out





de mo fen En anc fert and who the pas: arri TOU Bru


fort Ghe also


1809. their guns and stores, they could go to Dendermonde, Aug. fortified town situated 15 miles higher. These and British other causes led to a council of war on the 26th; holda, and a council of war, as it more commonly does, deof war. termined, that to abandon the enterprise was better

than to run the risk of failing to accomplish it.

The British immediately began the evacuation of don- Zuid-Beveland, and by the 4th of September not a of the sail was to be seen in the road of Saeftingen. tione in Leaving a sufficient force to occupy Walcheren, the conse- earl of Chatham and the bulk of the army reembarked quence at Veer, Rammekens, and Flushing. "Towards the

end of the year, when the healthy season was just
commencing, the british government gave orders to
withdraw the troops from Walcheren. Accordingly,
the embarkation took place in the early part of
December ; the basin, arsenal, and sea-defences of
Flushing having previously been blown


and destroyed, and the place rendered, for a time at least, "utterly useless to the french emperor as a naval depôt. Of the three vessels on the stocks, two, a frigate and brig, were destroyed; but the timbers of the 74 were brought away, and, being put together at Woolwich dock-yard, produced, by the year 1812, the Chatham, of 1860 tons. A fine new frigate of 1104 tons, the Fidelle, also fell into the hands of the British, and was afterwards commissioned as a 38, and named the Laurel.

The far-famed expedition to the Scheldt partaking

less of a naval than of a military character, we shall french not venture many remarks upon the lamentable issue

that attended it. We will first transcribe a few obserplan of vations which a french writer has made upon what he

considers ought to have been the plan of the .cam-
« Blankenberg," he says,

“ is the point of the coast the most conveniently situated for the disparby embarkation of a body of troops destined for the

invasion of Flanders. From this spot a paved road
runs straight to Antwerp. Its length is 26 leagues;
it passes through Bruges and Ghent. These two



apr able OPE ma



far dis

of a

writer on the

be A

attack that ought to have been

[ocr errors][merged small]

the British.


cities, at this time the capitals of rich and populous 1809. departments, which indirect taxation was harassing more than the conscription, would have supplied few recruits; but, in taking up a position there, the English would give to their plans an air of importance, convert to their use the resources of this fertile country, occasion a momentary inquietude and fear, and paralyse the zeal of those Belgians who, from interest, were devoted to France. From the Downs to Blankenberg is 20 leagues; and the passage could be so managed that the fleet should arrive at the break of day. The disembarkation would be accomplished without striking a blow, and Bruges be immediately occupied. The light detachments would then advance upon Sluis, a dismantled fort, and then by Moldeghem and Caprike, upon Ghent. A division of 10000 or 12000 men should also march upon Courtray, with orders to push forward a party and retain a communication with Ghent by the great road of Menin. At length the main body of the army arrives, by forced marches, at the Tête de Flandre and Liefkenshoeck, both of which it carries in a trice. Meanwhile the english fleet appears at the mouth of the Scheldt, and is now able, with some prospect of success, to commence operations in combination with the army. Any one may convince himself,” says the writer, “by referring to the map, that this object may be attained, as far as relates to the journey, in 72 hours after the disembarkation has been effected at Blankenberg.

Could, as the french writer supposes, all this have Weak been accomplished, the dock-yard and arsenal at Ante Antwerp might easily have been destroyed; for, werp

. until the 2d or 3d of August, the garrison consisted inforcof a mere handful of men. The 10 sail of the line, ed. four frigates, and 40 or 50 gun-brigs, must then either have set fire to themselves or have submitted to be captured. No other alternative remained to them.

state of

* For the original, see Appendix, No. 10.

1809. What a contrast this presents to that which really

was done. Nor did the expense, which a million Heavy sterling would not cover, nor the disgrace, which no cost, sophistry could gloss over, comprise all the mischief the ex. caused by this ill-planned, ill-timed, and ill-executed riodi expedition : the official returns show, that upwards

of 14000 officers and men were made sick by the unhealthy climate of Walcheren. And, although, according to the same returns, not many more than composed a fourth part of that number died of the “Polder fever,” scarcely one who is alive at this day but carries in his frame some unsubdued portion of the disease; some rheumatic affection or periodical ague-fit, forcing upon his recollection the share he had in an expedition, which, for the credit of its planners and the honour of their country, it were better, on every account, could be buried in oblivion.

The expedition to the Scheldt was ill-planned, because general the earl of Chatham, as he admitted in his examination before the committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the cause of the failure, did not, at the time of his departure from England, know to what extent Antwerp was fortified; nor whether the citadel commanded the dock-yard; nor, in short, any thing about the place he was going to attack. It was ill-timed, because the sickly season had actually commenced a few days before the expedition sailed from the Downs; and it was ill-executed, as evinced by the manner in which the attack was made, (take the failure to occupy Cadzand as one instance,) and by the notorious tardiness of the military commander in chief. The French say of the earl of Chatham, that he was the most temporizing general in the british army, “ le plus temporiseur des généraux de l'armée britannique ;;* and further, that “his countrymen reproached him with being occupied almost exclu

* Victoires et Conquêtes, &c. tome xix. p. 268.


sively about his health and his turtle-soup, instead 1809. of troubling himself with the details of the expedition Oct. placed under his command.” “Ses compatriotes lui ont fait le reproche de s'être occupé presque exclusivement de sa santé et du soin d'avoir de bon bouillon de tortue, au lieu de se livrer aux détails de l'expédition qui lui était confiée.” We now quit the fogs and damps of the Scheldt, for the more genial climate of the Mediterranean.

The rival commanders in chief on that station French were still, as at the close of the preceding year, dron vice-admirals Ganteaume and lord Collingwood. relieves On or about the 26th of April, during a period of unavoidable absence on the part of the blockading fleet, a french squadron, of five sail of the line, two frigates, one corvette, and 16 brigs and settees, under the command of rear-admiral Baudin in the 80-gun ship Robuste, sailed from Toulon roads with troops and provisions for the relief of Barcelona. It appears that the ships arrived there, landed their succours, and returned to Toulon in the middle of May, followed, at no very great distance, by the fleet of lord Collingwood; who, with 11 sail of the line, resumed the blockade of the port.

By the early part of October the fleet at anchor Strength in Toulon road consisted of the following 15 sail of Toulon the line, exclusive of six russian sail of the line, six fleet. or seven french frigates, and several armed transports and store-ships, either the whole fleet, or a division of it, waiting for a second opportunity to throw supplies into Barcelona. gun-ship

yice-adm. Zac.-J.-Théod, Allemand. 130 Austerlitz..

captain André-Louis Gaultier.

admiral Honoré Ganteaume. Majestueux'. captain Pierre-François Violette. 120

Romain Duranteau.

rear-adm. Ju.-M. Cosmao-Kerjulien. -Commerce-de-Paris

captain Gabriel-Auguste Brouard.

rear-adm. François-André Baudin. Robuste 80

captain François Legras. LDonawerth

Louis-An.-Cyprien Infernet.


« AnteriorContinuar »