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Strachan hoisted his flag oh board the St.-Domingo, to be ready to stand into the river the instant the British batteries opened their fire. The force under the rear-admiral, assembled for this purpose, consisted of the
On the 13th, at 1 h. 30 m. P.m., a fire was opened upon Flushing from 52 pieces of heavy ordnance, and in the evening from six additional 24-pounders. A division of bomb and gun vessels, under the command of Captain Cockburn of the Belleisle, who had removed for the purpose on board the 18-gun shipsloop Plover, Captain Philip Browne, was stationed off the south-east, and a similar division, under Captain Owen of the Clyde, off the south-west end of the town; both divisions maintaining an incessant and well directed fire. Owing to the scantiness of the wind, Sir Richard Strachan's squadron could not get under way when the bombardment commenced on the part Of the army; but on the 14th, at 10 A.m., the ships, in the following order, St Domingo, Blake, Repulse, Victorious, Dannemark, Audacious, and Venerable, weighed and stood in. The St. Domingo, soon after she had opened her fire, grounded on the inner edge of the Dog sand; and the Blake, in attempting to pass inside of her leader, of whose grounded state she was not aware was equally unfortunate. The remaining ships, by signal, then hauled off and anchored. In about three hours the St. Domingo and blake got off and anchored with the others. At 4 P.m. the fire of the garrison ceased. A summons was immediately sent in; but, no satisfactory answer being returned, the bombardment recommenced at night, and was kept up, without intermission, until 2 p. M. on the 15th, when the French commandant, General Monnet, offered to surrender. The terms of capitulation were agreed to in the course of the day, and at 3 A.m. on the 16th the ratifications were exchanged.
The loss sustained by the British, in reducing this important place, was, comparatively speaking, of inconsiderable amount. The St. Domingo and Blake, being, from their having grounded, by far the most exposed, were the only ships of the squadron that suffered any loss, and that consisted of only two men killed on board the Blake, and 18 (nine each) wounded between them, The Blake was several times set on fire by hot shot, and was considerably damaged in hull, masts, and rigging. The loss on board the flotilla amounted to one lieutenant (George Rennie) and six men killed, and one lieutenant, one surgeon, (Robert Russell and Robert Burnside), and 20 men wounded; and the loss on the part of the brigade of seamen serving on shore under Captain Richardson, and who greatly distinguished themselves, was one midshipman (Edward Harrick) and six men wounded. This, with the Raven's loss and the loss by Lord William Stuart's frigate-squadron, makes nine killed and 55 wounded as the aggregate loss on the part of the navy. The lieutenants, serving in the above brigade of seamen engaged at the batteries before Flushing, appear to have been, John Wyborn, Richard St.-Loo Nicholson, Eaton Travers, Stephen Hilton, John Allen Meadway, and John Netherton O'Brien Hall. The army appears to have sustained, at the bombardment and at the different skirmishes that had preceded it, a loss of 103 killed, and 443 wounded; making the total loss on the British side, up to the surrender of Flushing, 112 killed and 498 wounded.
Of the French loss no account has been given, except on one extraordinary occasion. On the 16th of August the British 38 gun frigate Imperieuse, Captain Thomas Garth, in ascending the Scheldt after the other frigates, entered by mistake the Terneuse, instead of the Baerlandt channel, and became in consequence exposed to the fire of the Terneuse battery. In returning that fire, the frigate discharged 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 men. The battery fired no more, and the Imperieuse 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 the 21st the Earl of Chatham removed his head-quarters from Middleburg to Veer; and, crossing the Sloe, arrived on the 23d at Goes, the headquarters of Sir John Hope. In consequence of the accumulating force at Cadzand, it had been considered proper to leave as many as 10,000 men in possession of Walcheren; consequently there were 28,000 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 the French forces at these places and at Berg-op-Zoom amounted to upwards of 35,000 men. Moreover an 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 <lock-yard; that the ships of war, with their 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 their guns and stores, they could go to Dendermonde, a fortified town situated 15 miles higher. These and other causes led to a council of war on the 26th; and a council of war, as it more commonly does, determined, that to abandon the enterprise was better than to run the risk of failing to accomplish it.
The British immediately began the evacuation of Zuid-Beveland, and by the 4th of September not a sail was to be seen in the road of Saeftingen. Leaving a sufficient force to occupy Walcheren, the Earl of Chatham and the bulk of the army reembarked 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 up and destroyed, and the place rendered, for a time at least, utterly useless to the French emperor as a naval depot. 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 not venture many remarks upon the lamentable issue that attended it. We will first transcribe a few observations which a French writer has made upon what he considers ought to have been the plan of the campaign. "Blankenberg," he says, "is the point of the coast the most conveniently situated for the disembarkation 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 cities, at this time the capitals of rich and populous 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 paralyze 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 10,000 or 12,000 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 Tete 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 been accomplished, the dock-yard and arsenal at Antwerp might easily have been destroyed; for, until the 2d or 3d of August, the garrison consisted of a mere handful of men. The 10 sail of the line, 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. What a contrast this presents to that which really was done. Nor did the expense, which a million sterling would not cover, nor the disgrace, which no sophistry could gloss over, comprise all the mischief caused by this ill-planned, ill-timed, and ill-executed expedition: the official returns show, that upwards of 14,000 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
* For the original, see Appendix, No. 10.
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 generaux de l'armee Britannique ;* and further, that "his countrymen reproached him with being occupied almost exclusively about his health and his turtle-soup, instead of troubling himself with the details of the expedition placed under his command." "Ses compatriotes lui ont fait le reproche de s'etre occupe presque exclusivement de sa sante et du soin d'avoir de bon bouillon de tortue, au lieu de se livrer aux details de Pexpedition qui lui etait confiee." 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 were still, as at the close of the preceding year, Vice-admirals Ganteaume and Lord Collingwood. 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 in Toulon road consisted of the following 15 sail of the line, exclusive of six Russian sail of the line, six 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.
. . ,., C Vice-adm. Zac.-J.-Theod. Allemand.
130 Austerlitz < . . . , , T . „ ,..
( Captain Andre-Louis Gaultier.
C Admiral Honore Ganteaume.
fMajestueux < Captain Pierre-Francois Violette.
120< L » Romain Duranteau.
Li-, i -d - ^ Rear-adm. Ju.-M. Cosamo-Kerjulien.
Commerce-de-Paris . . . } Captain Gabriel-Auguste Br0UJard.
C T, , i Rear-adm. Francois-Andre Baudin.
80 I noouste \ Captain Francois Legras.
'Donawerth „ Louis-An.-Cyprien Infernet.
"Ajax „ Jean-Nicholas Petit.
Genois „ A nt.-Marie-Fran. Montalan
Breslau „ Joseph Allemand.
Boree „ Gaspard Laignel.
Suffren „ Auguste-Francois Louvel.
Annibal L.-C.-A. La Marre-la-Meillerie.
Magnanime , Nicolas Jugan.
Danube „ Antoine Henri.
Lion ■ „ Eus.-Marie-Joseph Bonami.
Ulm „ C.-J.-Cesar Chaunay Duclos.
* Victoires et Conquetes, &c, tome xix, p. 268.