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'' I HIS book is not intended to be a " history " of the 
A British Nav}" in the generally accepted sense of 
the term. For this reason small space is devoted to 
various strategical and tactical matters of the past which 
generally bulk largely in more regular " naval histories " 
— of which a sufficiency already exist. 

In such histories primary interest naturally attaches 
to what the admirals did with the ships provided for them. 
Here I have sought rather to deal with how the ships 
came to be provided, and how they were developed from 
the crude warships of the past to the intricate and compU- 
cated machines of to-day ; and the strictly " history " 
part of the book is compressed with that idea principally 
in view. The " live end " of naval construction is 
necessarily that which directly or indirectly concerns the 
ships of our own time. The warships of the past are 
of special interest in so far as they were steps to the 
warships of to-day ; but, outside that, practical interest 
seems confined to what led to these " steps " being 
what they were. 

Thus regarded, Trafalgar becomes of somewhat 
secondary interest as regards the tremendous strategical 
questions involved, but of profound importance by reason 
of the side-issue that the Victory's forward bulkhead 


was so slightly built that she sustained an immense 
number of casualties which would never have occurred 
had she been designed for the particular purpose that 
Nelson used her for at Trafalgar. The tactics of Tra- 
falgar have merely a literary and sentimental interest 
now, and even the strategies which led to the battle 
are probably of little utility to the strategists of our 
own times. But the Victory's thin forward bulkhead 
profoundly affected, and to some extent still affects, 
modern British naval construction. Trafalgar, of course, 
sanctified for many a year " end-on approach," and so 
eventually concentrated special attention on bulkheads. 
But previous to Trafalgar, the return of the Victory 
after it for refit, and Seppings' inspection of her, the 
subject of end-on protection had been ignored. The 
cogitations of Seppings helped to make what would have 
very much influenced history had any similar battle 
occurred in the years that followed his constructional 

Again, at an earher period much naval history turned 
upon the ventilation of bilges. Improvements in this 
respect (devised by men never heard of to-day) enabled 
British ships to keep the seas without their crews being 
totally disabled by diseases which often overmastered 
their foes. The skill of the admirals, the courage of the 
crews, both form more exciting reading. Yet there is 
every indication to prove that this commonplace matter 
of bilges Avas the secret of victory more than once ! 

Coming back to more recent times, the loss of the 
Vanguard, which cost no lives, involved greater sub- 
sequent constructional problems than did the infinitely 


more terrible loss of the Captain a few years before. 
Who shall say on how many seeming constructional 
failures of the past, successes of the yet unborn futiu'e 
may not rest ? 

A number of other things might be cited, but these 
suffice to indicate the particular perspective of this book, 
and to show why, if regarded as an orthodox " history " 
of the British Navy, it is occasionally in seemingly dis- 
torted perspective. 

To say that in the scheme of this book the ship- 
builder is put in the limelight instead of the ship-user, 
would in no way be precisely correct, though as a vague 
generaUsation it may serve well enough. In exact fact 
each, of course, is and ever has been dependent on the 
other. Nelson himself was curtailed b}^ the limitations 
of the tools provided for him. Had he had the same 
problems one or two hundred years before he would 
have been still more limited. Had he had them fifty 
or a hundred years later — who shall say ? 

With Seppings' improvements, Trafalgar would have 
been a well-nigh bloodless victory for the British Fleet. 
It took Trafalgar, however, to inspire and teach Seppings. 
Of every great sea-fight something of the same kind may 
be said. The lead had to be given. 

Yet those who best laboured to remove the worst 
disabilities of " the means " of Blake, contributed in that 
measure to Nelson's successes years and years later on. 
Their (efforts may surely be deemed worthy of record, 
for all that between the unknown designer of the Great 
Harry in the sixteenth century and the designers of 
Super-Dreadnoughts of to-day tlien^ may have been 


lapses and defects in details. There was never a lapse 
on account of which the user was unable to defeat any 
hostile user with whom he came into conflict. The 
*' means " provided served. The creators of warships 
consistently improved their creations : but they were not 
improved without care and thought on the part of those 
who produced them. 

To those who provided the means and to the rank 
and file it fell that many an admiral was able to do 
what he did. These admirals " made history." But ever 
there were " those others " who made that " history 
making " possible, and who so made it also. 

In dealing with the warships of other eras, I have 
been fortunate in securing the co-operation of Mr. W. L. 
Wyllie, R.A., who has translated into vivid pictorial 
obviousness a number of details which old prints of an 
architectural nature entirely fail to convey. With a 
view to uniformity, this scheme, though reinforced by 
diagrams and photographs, has been carried right into 
our own times. 

Some things which I might have written I have on 
that account left unrecorded. There are some things that 
cold print and the English language cannot describe. 
These things must be sought for in Mr. Wyllie' s pictures. 

In conclusion, I would leave the dedication page to 
explain the rest of what I have striven for in this book. 

F. T. J. 


THIS book was originally written three years ago. 
Since it was first published the greatest war ever 
knoAvn has broken out. To meet that circumstance this 
particular edition has been revised and brought to date 
in order to present to the reader the exact state of our 
Navy when the fighting began. 

Modern naval warfare differs much from the warfare 
of the past ; at any rate from the warfare of the Nelson 
era. But if men and materiel have altered, the general 
principles of naval war have remained unchanged. 
Indeed, there is some reason to beheve that the wheel of 
fortune has brought us back to some similitude of those 
early days when to kill the enemy was the sole idea that 
obtained, when there were no " rules of civilised war," 
when it was simply kill and go on killing. 

To these principles Germany has reverted. The 
early history of the British Navy indicates that we were 
able to render a good account of ourselves under such 
conditions. For that matter we made our Navy under 
such training. It is hard to imagine that by adopting 
old time methods the Germans will take from us the Sea 
Empire which we thus earned in the past. 

ISth June, 1915. F. T. J. 






NAVY ...... 35 





FALL OF NAPOLEON . . . .165 


FRENCH WARS ..... 194 



XI. THE REED ERA ..... 264 








BATTLE OF SLUYS ...... 25 

PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR, 1912 . . . . 31 

THE " GRACE DE DIEU," 1515 .... 39 

THE SPANISH ARMADA, 1588 .... 51 




BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR, 1805 . . . .173 



THE OLD " INVINCIBLE," 1872 .... 293 






. 217 


" LONDON " .... 

. 221 

" WARRIOR " . . . . 

. 251 


. 259 


. 261 

" bellbrophon " 

. 269 


. 273 


. 277 

" CAPTAIN " . . . . 

. 289 


. 297 


. 309 




. 67 



. 93 



. 155 



. 245 

SIR E. J. REED ..... 


. 265 



OF WAR ....... 167 









THE birth of British naval power is involved in 
considerable obscurity and a good deal of legend. 
The Phoenicians and the Romans have both been 
credited mth introducing nautical ideas to these islands, 
but of the Phoenicians there is nothing but legend so far as 
any " British Navy " is concerned. That the Phoenicians 
voyaged here we know well enough, and a " British fleet " 
of the B.C. era may have existed, a fleet due to possible 
Phoenicians who, having visited these shores, remained in 
the land. Equally well it may be mythical. 

Whatever share the ancient Britons may have 
had in the supposed commercial relations with Gaul, 
it is clear that no fleet as we understand a fleet existed 
in the days of Julius Caesar. Later, while England 
was a Pv,oman province, Roman fleets occasionally 
fought upon British waters against pirates and in 
connection with Roman revolutions, but they were 
ships of the ruling power. 

Roman power passed away. Saxons invaded and 
remained ; but having landed they became people of 
the land — not of the sea. Danes and other seafarers 
pilaged English shores much as they listed till Alfred 
the Great came to the throne. 


Alfred has been called the " Father and Founder 
of the British Fleet." It is customary and dramatic 
to suppose that Alfred was seized with the whole 
modern theory of " Sea Power " as a sudden inspira- 
tion — that " he recognised that invaders could only be 
kept off by defeating them on the sea." 

This is infinitely more pretty than accurate. To 
begin with, even at the beginning of the present 
Twentieth Century it was officially put on record that 
" while the British fleet could prevent invasion, it 
could not guarantee immunity from small raids on our 
great length of coast line." In Alfred's day, one 
mile was more than what twenty are now ; messages 
took as many days to deliver as they now do minutes, 
and the " raid " was the only kind of over-sea war 
to be waged. It is altogether chimerical to imagine 
that Alfred " thought things out " on the lines of a 
modern naval theorist. 

In actual fact,* what happened was that Alfred 
engaged in a naval fight in the year 875, somewhere 
on the South Coast. There is Httle or no evidence to 
show where, though near Wareham is the most likely 

In 877 something perhaps happened to the Danes 
at Swanage, but the account in Asser is an interpolated 
one, and even so suggests shipwreck rather than a 

In 882 (possibly 881) two Danish ships sank : " the 
rest " (number not recorded) surrendered later on. 

In 884 occurred the battle of the Stour. Here 
the Saxon fleet secured a preliminary success, in which 
thirteen Danish ships were captured. This may or 

* All statements as to King Alfred's navy are taken directly from the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Asser, and Florence of Worcester. 



may not have been part of an ambush — at any rate 
the final result was the annihilation of King Alfred's 

In 896 occurred the alleged naval reform so often 
alluded to as the " birth of the British Navy " — those 
ships supposed to have been designed by Alfred, which 
according to Asser* were " full nigh twice as long as 
the others .... shapen neither Uke Frisian nor the 
Danish, but so as it seemed to him that they would be 
most efficient." 

Around these " early Dreadnoughts " much has 
been weaved, but there is no evidence acceptable to the 
best modern historians that Alfred really built any 
such ships — they tend to reject the entire theory. 

The actual facts of that " naval battle of the 
vSolent " in 897 from which the history of our navy 
is popularly alleged to date, appear to be as follows : 

There were nine of King Alfred's ships, manned 
by Frisian pirates, who were practically Danes. These 
nine encountered three Danish vessels in a land-locked 
harbour — probabl}^ Brading — and all of them ran 
aground, the Danish ships being in the middle between 
two Saxon divisions. A land fight ensued, till, the 
tide rising, the Danish ships, which were of lighter 
draught than the Saxon vessels, floated. The Danes 
then sailed away, but in doing so two of them were 

All the rest of the story seems to be purely 
legendary. Our real " island story " — as events during 
the next few hundred years following Alfred clearly 
indicate — is not that of a })eople born to the sea ; but 
the story of a people forced thereto by circumstances 
and the need of self-preservation. 

* An interpolated passage 


It is a very unromantic beginning. There is a 
strange analogy between it and the beginning in later 
days of the Sea Power of the other " Island Empire " 
— Japan. Japan to-day seeks — as we for centuries 
have sought — for an historical sequence of the " sea 
spirit " and all such things as an ideal islander should 
possess. Neither we nor they have ever understood or 
ever properly realised that it was the Continentals who 
long ago first saw that it was necessary to command 
the sea to attack the islanders. The more obvious 
contrary has always been assumed. It has never 
been held, or even suggested, that the Little Englander 
protesting against " bloated naval armaments," so far 
from being a modern anachronism, an ultra-Radical 
or Socialist exotic, may really claim to be the true 
exponent of " the spirit of the Islanders " for all time. 
That is one reason why (excluding the mythical Minos 
of Crete) only two island-groups have ever loomed big 
in the world's history. 

When Wilhelm II of Germany said : " Unsere 
Zukunft liegt auf dem Wasser,'' he uttered a far more 
profound truth than has ever been fully realised. Fleets 
came into being to attack Islanders with. 

The Islanders saw the sea primarily as a protection 
existing between them and the enemy. To the 
Continental the sea was a road to, or obstacle between 
him and the enemy, only if the enemy filled it with 
ships. The Islanders have ever tended to trust to the 
existence of the sea itself as a defence, except in so far 
as they have been taught otherwise by individuals who 
reahsed the value of shipping. Those millions of British 
citizens who to-day are more or less torpid on the 
subject of naval defence are every whit as normal as 


those Germans who, in season and out, preach naval 

The explanation of all this is probably to be found 
in the fact that the earliest warfare known either to 
Continentals or to Islanders was military ivarfare. The 
ship as at first emplo3'ed was used entirely as a means 
of transport for reaching the enemy — first, presumably, 
against outlying islands near the coast, later for more 
over-sea expeditions. 

Ideas of attack are earlier than ideas of defence, 
and the primary idea of defence went no further than 
the passive defensive. King Alfred, merely in reahsing 
the offensive defensive, did a far greater thing than any 
of the legendary exploits associated with his history. 
The idea was submerged many a time in the years 
that followed, but from time to time it appeared and 
found its ultimate fruition in the Royal Navy. 

Yet still, the wonder is not that only two Island 
Empires have ever come into existence, but that any 
should have come into existence at all. The real 
history of King Alfred's times is that the Continental 
Danes did much as they listed against the insular 
Saxons of England, till the need was demonstrated for 
an endeavour to meet the enemy on liis own element. 

In the subsequent reigns of Athelstan and Edmund, 
some naval expeditions took place. Under Edgar, the 
fleet reached its largest. Althougli tlie reputed number 
of 3,600 vessels is, of course, an exaggerated one, there 
was enough naval power at that time to secure peace. 

This " navy " had, however, a very transient exist- 
ence, because in the reign of Ethelred, who succeeded to 
the throne, it had practically ceasc^d to exist, and an 
attemx)t was made to revive it. This attempt was so 


little successful that Danish ships had to be hired for 
naval purposes. 

A charter of the time of Ethelred II exists which 
is considered by many to be the origin of that Ship 
Money which, hundreds of years later, was to cause so 
much trouble to England. Under this, the maintenance 
of the Navy was made a State charge on landowners, 
the whole of whom were assessed at the rate of producing 
one galley for every three hundred and ten hides of 
land that they possessed. 

This view is disputed by some historians, who 
maintain that the charter is possibly a forgery, and that 
it is not very clear in any case. However, it does not 
appear to have produced any useful naval power. 

That naval power was insufficient is abundantly clear 
from the ever increasing number of Danish settlements. 
In the St. Bride's Day massacre, which was an attempt 
to kill off the leading Danes amongst the recent arrivals, 
further trouble arose ; and in the year 1013, Swain, King 
of Denmark, made a large invasion of England, and in 
the year 1017, his son Canute ascended to the throne. 

Under Canute, the need of a navy to protect the 
coast against Danish raids passed away. The bulk of 
the Danish ships were sent back to Denmark, forty 
vessels only being retained. 

Once or twice during the reign of Canute successful 
naval expeditions were undertaken, but at the time of 
the King's death the regular fleet consisted of only 
sixteen ships. Five years later, an establishment was 
fixed at thirty-two, and remained more or less at about 
that figure, till, in the reign of Edward the Confessor 
trouble was caused by Earl Godwin, who had created 
a species of fleet of his own. With a view to suppressing 


these a number of King's ships were fitted out ; but 
as the King and Godwin came to terms the fleet was not 
made use of. 

Close following upon this came the Norman invasion, 
which of all the foolhardy enterprises ever embarked 
on by man was theoretically one of the most foolish. 
William's intentions were perfectly well known. A 
certain " English fleet " existed, and there was nothing 
to prevent its expansion into a force easily able to 
annihilate the heterogeneous Norman flotilla. 

How man}' ships and men William actually got 
together is a matter upon which the old chroniclers 
vary considerably. But he is supposed to have had 
with him some 696 ships* ; and since his largest ships 
were not over twenty tons and most of them a great 
deal smaller, it is clear that they must have been crowded 
to excess and in poor condition to give battle against 
anything of the nature of a determined attack from an 
organised fleet. 

No English fleet put in appearance, however. 
Harold had collected a large fleet at Sandwich, but 
after a while, for some unknown reason, it was dispersed, 
probably owing to the lateness of the season. The 
strength of the fleet collected, or why it was dispersed, 
are, however, immaterial issues : the fact of importance 
is that the fleet was " inadequate " because it failed to 
prevent the invasion. A neglected fleet entailed the 
destruction of the Saxon dominion. 

* Waco. 



WILLIAM the Conqueror's first act on landing was 
to burn all his ships — a proceeding useful enough 
in the way of preventing any of his followers 
retiring with their spoils, but inconvenient to him shortly 
after he became King of England. Fleets from Denmark 
and Norway raided the coasts, and, though the raiders 
were easily defeated on shore, the pressure from them 
was sufficient to cause William to set about recreating 
a navy, of which he made some use in the year 1071. 
In 1078 the Cinque Ports were established, five ports 
being granted certain rights in return for policing the 
Channel and supplying ships to the King as required. 
But the amomit of naval power maintained was very 
small, both in the reign of William the First and his 

Not until the reign of Henry II was any appreciable 
attention paid to nautical matters. Larger ships than 
heretofore were built, as we assume from records of the 
loss of one alleged to carry 300 men. It was Henry II 
who first claimed the " Sovereignty of the British Seas " 
and enacted the Assize of Arms whereby no ship or 
timber for shipbuilding might be sold out of England. 

When Richard I came to the throne in 1189, fired 
with ambition to proceed to the Crusades, he ordered 
all ports in his dominions to supply him with ships 


in proportion to their population. The majority of 
these ships came, however, from Acquitaine. The fleet 
thus collected is said to have consisted of nine large 
ships, 150 small vessels, thirty galleys, and a number 
of transports. The large ships, which have also been 
given as thirteen in number, were known at the time 
as " busses." They appear to have been three-masters. 
The fleet sailed in eight divisions. This expedition to 
the Holy Land was the first important over-sea voyage 
ever participated in by English ships, the greatest 
distance heretofore traversed having been to Norway 
in the time of Canute. This making of a voyage into 
the unknown was, however, not quite so difficult as it 
might at first sight be supposed to be, because there 
is no doubt whatever that the compass was by then 
well-known and used. Records from 1150 and onwards 
exist which describe the compass of that period. A 
contemporary chronicler* wrote of it : — 

" This [polar] star does not move. They [the seainen] have an 
art which cannot deceive, by virtue of the manite, an ill brownish 
stone to which iron spontaneously adheres. They search for the 
right point, and when they have touched a needle on it, and fixed 
it to a bit of straw, they lay it on water, and the straw keeps it 
afloat. Then the point infallibly turns towards the star ; and when 
the night is dark and gloomy, and neither star nor moon is visible, 
they set a light beside the needle, and they can be assured that the 
star is opposite to the point, and thereby the mariner is directed 
in his course. This is an art which cannot deceive." 

The compass would seem to have existed, so far 
as northern nations were concerned, about the time of 
William the Conqueror. Not till early in the Fourteenth 
Century did it assume the form in which we now know 
it, hut its actual antiquity is considerably more. 

* CJuyot (1(1 I'rovirm ex Nicholas. 


In connection with this expedition to the Holy 
Land, Richard issued a Code of Naval Discipline, which 
has been described as the germ of our Articles of War. 
Under this Code if a man killed another on board ship, 
he was to be tied to the corpse and thrown into the sea. 
If the murder took place on shore, he was to be buried 
ahve with the corpse. The penalty for drawing a knife 
on another man, or drawing blood from him in any. 
manner Avas the loss of a hand. For " striking another," 
the offender was plunged three times into the sea. For 
reviling or insulting another man, compensation of an 
ounce of silver to the aggrieved one was awarded. The 
punishment for theft was to shave the head of the 
thief, pour boiling pitch upon it and then feather him. 
This was done as a mark of recognition. The subsequent 
punishment was to maroon a man upon the first land 
touched. Severe penalties were imposed on the mariners 
and servants for gambling. 

Of these punishments the two most interesting are 
those for theft and the punishment of " ducking." 
This last was presumably keel-hauling, a punishment 
which survived weU into the Nelson era. It is to be 
found described in the j)ages of Marrj^at. It consisted 
in drawing the offender by ropes underneath the bottom 
of the ship. As his body was thus scraped along the 
ship's hull, the punishment was at all times severe ; 
but in later days, as ships grew larger and of deeper 
draught, it became infinitely more cruel and heavy than 
in the days when it was first instituted. 

The severe penalty for theft is to be noted on 
account of the fact that, even in the early times, theft, 
as now, was and is recognised as a far more serious 
offence on ship board than it is on shore — the reason 


being the greater facilities that a ship affords for 

On his way to the Holy Land, Richard had a dispute 
at Sicily with the King of France, out of which he 
increased his fleet somewhat. Leaving Sicily, some- 
where between Cyprus and Acre he encountered a very 
large Saracen ship, of the battle with which very 
picturesque and highl}^ coloured accounts exist. There 
is no doubt that the ship was something a great deal 
larger than anything the English had ever seen here- 
tofore, although the crew of 1,500 men with which 
she is credited by the chroniclers is undoubtedly an 

The ship carried an armament of Greek fire and 
" serpents." The exact composition of Greek fire is 
unkno^^'n. It was invented by the Byzantines, who by 
means of it succeeded in keeping their enemies at bay for 
a very long time. It was a mixture of chemicals which, 
upon being squirted at the enemy from tubes, took 
fire, and could onl}^ be put out by sand or vinegar. 
" Serpents " were apparently some variation of Greek 
fire of a minor order, discharged by catapults. 

In the first part of the attack the English fleet 
was able to make no impression upon the enemy, as 
her high sides and the Greek fire rendered boarding 
impossible. Not until King Richard had exhilarated 
his fleet by informing them that if the galley escaped 
they " should be crucified or ])ut to extreme torture," 
was any progress made. After that, according to the 
contemj)orary account, some of the Enghsh jumped 
overboard and succeeded in fastciiint:; ropes to the 
rudder of the Saracen ship, " steering her as they 
pleased." They then obtained a footing on hoard, hut 


were subsequently driven back. As a last resource 
Kjng Richard formed his gaUeys into line and rammed 
the ship, which afterwards sank. 

The relation of Richard's successor, King John, to 
the British Navy, is one of some peculiar interest. 
More than any king before him he appears to have 
apiDreciated the importance of naval power, and naval 
matters received more attention than heretofore. In 
the days of King John the crews of ships appropriated 
for the King's service were properly provisioned with 
wine and food, and there are also records of pensions 
for wounds, one of the earliest being that of Alan le 
Walleis, who received a pension of sixpence a day for 
the loss of his hand.* 

King John is popularly credited with having made 
the first claim to the " Sovereignty of the Seas " and 
of having enacted that all foreign vessels upon sighting 
an English one were to strike their flags to her, and 
that if they did not that it was lawful to destroy them. 
The authenticity of this is, however, very doubtful ; 
and it is more probable that, on account of various 
naval regulations which first appeared in the reign of 
King John, this particular regulation was fathered upon 
him at a later date with the view to giving it an historical 

In the reign of King John the " Laws of Oleron " 
seem to have first appeared, but it is not at all clear 
that they had any specific connection with England. 
They appear rather to have been of a general Euro- 
pean nature. The gist of the forty-seven articles 
of the " Laws of Oleron," of which the precise 
date of promulgation cannot be ascertained, is 
as follows : — * 

* ex Nicolas. 


" By the first article, if a vessel arrived at Bordeaux, Rouen, 
or any other similar place, and was there freighted for Scotland, or 
any other foreign country, and was in want of stores or provisions, 
the master was not permitted to sell the vessel, but he might with 
the advice of his crew raise money by pledging any part of her 
tackle or furniture. 

" If a vessel was wind or weather bound, the master, when a 
change occurred, was to consult his crew, saying to them, "Gentlemen, 
what think you of this wind ? " and to be guided by the majority 
whether he should put to sea. If he did not do this, and any 
misfortune happened, he was to make good the damage. 

" If a seaman sustained any hurt through drunkenness or 
quarrelling, the master was not bound to provide for his cure, 
but might turn him out of his ship ; if, however, the injury occurred 
in the service of his ship, he was to be cured at the cost of the said 
ship. A sick sailor was to be sent on shore, and a lodging, candles, 
and one of the ship's boys, or a nurse provided for him, with the 
same allowance of provisions as he would have received on board. 
In case of danger in a storm, the master might, with the consent 
of the merchants on board, lighten the ship by throwing part of 
the cargo overboard ; and if they did not consent, or objected to 
his doing so, he was not to risk the vessel but to act as he thought 
proper ; on their arrival in port, he and the third part of the crew 
were to make oath that it was done for the preservation of the vessel ; 
and the loss was to be borne equally by the merchants. A similar 
proceeding was to be adopted before the mast or cables were cut 

" Before goods were shipped the master was to satisfy the 
merchants of the strength of his ropes and slings ; but if he did 
not do 80, or they requested him to repair them and a cask were 
stove, the mastei* was to make it good 

" In cases of difference between a master and one of his crow, 
the man was to be denied his mess allowance thrice, before he was 
turned out of the ship, or discharged ; and if the man offered 
reasonable satisfaction in the presence of the crew, and the master 
persisted in discharging him, the sailor might follow the ship to her 
place of destination, and demand the same wages as if he had not 
been sent ashore. 


" In case of a collision by a ship undersail running on board one 
at anchor, owing to bad steering, if the former were damaged, the 
cost was to be equally divided ; the master and crew of the latter 
making oath that the collision was accidental. The reason for this 
law was, it is said, ' that an old decayed vessel might not purposely 
be put in the way of a better.' It was specially provided that all 
anchors ought to be indicated by buoys or ' anchor-marks.' 

" Mariners of Brittany were entitled only to one meal a day, 
because they had beverage going and coming ; but those of 
Normandy were to have two meals, because they had only water 
as the ship's allowance. As soon as the ship arrived in a wine 
country, the master was, however, to procure them wine. 

" Several regulations occur respecting the seamen's wages, which 
show that they were sometimes paid by a share of the freight. On 
arriving at Bordeaux or any other place, two of the crew might go 
on shore and take with them one meal of such victuals as were on 
board, and a proportion of bread, but no drink ; and they were to 
return in sufficient time to prevent their master losing the tide. 
If a pilot from ignorance or otherwise failed to conduct a ship in 
safety, and the merchants sustained any damage, he was to make full 
satisfaction if he had the means to ; if not, he was to lose his head ; 
and, if the master or any one of the mariners cut off his head, they 
were not bound to answer for it ; but, before they had recourse to 
so strong a measure, ' they must be sure he had not wherewith to 
make satisfaction.' 

" Two articles of the code jDrove, that from an ' accursed custom ' 
in some places, by which the third or fourth part of ships that were 
lost belonged to the lord of the place — the pilots, to ingratiate 
themselves with these nobles, ' like faithless and treacherous 
villains,' purposely ran the vessel on the rocks. It was therefore 
enacted that the said lords, and all others assisting in plundering 
the wreck, shall be accursed and excommunicated, and punished as 
robbers and thieves ; that ' all false and treacherous pilots should 
suffer a most rigorous and merciless death,' and be susj)ended to 
high gibbets near the spot, which gibbets were to remain as an 
example in succeeding ages. The barbarous lords were to be tied 
to a post in the middle of their own houses, and, being set on fire 
at the four corners, all were to be burned together ; the walls 


demolished, its site converted into a marketplace for the sale only 
of hogs and swine, and all their goods to be confiscated to the use 
of the aggrieved parties. 

" Such of the cargoes as floated ashore were to be taken care of for 
a year or more ; and, if not then claimed, they were to be sold by the 
lord, and the proceeds distributed among the poor, in marriage por- 
tions to poor maids and other charitable uses. If, as aften happened, 
' people more barbarous, cruel, and inhuman than mad dogs,' 
murdered shipwrecked persons, they were to be plunged into the sea 
till they were half-dead, and then drawn out and stoned to death." 

These laws, unconnected though they appear to be 
^\'ith strictly naval matters, are none the less of extreme 
interest as indicating the estabhshment of " customs of 
the sea," and the consequent segregation of a " sailor 
class." It has ever to be kept very clearly in mind 
that there was no such thing as a " Navy " as we 
understand it in these days. When ships were required 
for war purposes they were hired, just as waggons may 
be hired by the Army to-day ; nor did the mariners count 
for much more than horses. The " Laws of Oleron," 
however, gave them a certain general status which they 
had not possessed before ; and the regulations of John 
as to providing for those engaged upon the King's 
service — though tliey in no way constituted a Royal 
Navy — played their part many years later in making 
a Royal Navy possible, or, perhaps, it may be said, 
" necessary." Necessity has ever been the principal 
driving force in the naval history of England. 

To resume. The limitations of the i)owcrs of the 
master {i.e. captain) in these *' Laws of Oleron " deserve 
special attention. " Gentlemen, what thitik you of this 
wind ? " from the captain to his crew would be; considered 
" democracy " carried to extreme and extravagant 
limits in the present day ; in the days when it was 



promulgated as " the rule " it was surely stranger still f 
Little wonder that seamen at an early stage segregated 
from the ordinary body of citizens and became, as 
described by Clarendon in his " History of the Rebellion " 
a few hundred years later, when he wrote : — 

" The seamen are a nation by themselves, a humorous and 
fantastic people, fierce and rude and resolute in whatsoever they 
resolve or are inclined to, but unsteady and inconstant in pursuing it, 
and jealous of those to-morrow by whom they are governed to-day.* 

To this, to the earlier things that produced it, 
those who will may trace the extreme rigour of naval 
discipline and naval punishments, as compared with 
contemporaneous shore punishments at any given time, 
and the extraordinary difference at present existing 
between the American and European navies. The 
difference is usually explained on the circumstance that 
" Europe is Europe, and America, America." But 
" differences " having their origin in the " Laws of 
Oleron " may play a greater part than is generally 

The year 1213 saw the Battle of Damme. This 
was the first real naval battle between the French and 
English. The King of France had collected a fleet of 
some " seventeen hundred ships " for the invasion of 
England, but having been forbidden to do so by the 
Pope's Legate, he decided to use his force against 
Flanders. This Armada was surprised and totally 
destroyed by King John's fleet. 

After the death of John the nautical element in 
England declared for Henry III, son of John, and 
against Prince Louis of France, who had been invited 
to the throne of England by the barons. Out of this 
came the battle of Sandwich, 1217, where Hubert de 


Burgh put into practice, though in different form, 
those principles first said to have been evolved by 
Alfred the Great — namely, to attack with an assured 
and complete superiority. 

Every English ship took on board a large quantity 
of quick-lime and sailed to meet the French, who were 
commanded by Eustace the Monk. De Burgh man- 
oeuvred for the weather gauge. Having gained it, 
the English ships came down upon the French with 
the wind, the quick-lime blowing before them, and 
so secured a complete victory over the tortured and 
blinded French. This is the first recorded instance 
of anything that may be described as " tactics " in 
Northern waters. 

The long reign of Henry III saw little of interest 
in connection with nautical matters. But towards the 
end of Henry's reign a private quarrel between English 
and Norman ships, both seeking fresh water off the 
Coast of Bayonne, had momentous consequences. The 
Normans, incensed over the quarrel, captured a couple 
of Enghsh ships and hanged the crew on the yards 
interspersed with an equal number of dead dogs. 
Some English retaliated in a similar fashion on such 
Normans as they could lay hands on, and, retaliation 
succeeding retaliation, it came about that in the reign 
of Edward I, though England and France were still 
nominally at peace, the entire mercantile fleets of both 
were engaged in hanging each other, over what was 
originally a private quarrel as to who should be first 
to draw water at a well. 

Ultimately the decision appears to have been come 
by " to fight it out." Irish and Dutch ships assisted 



the English. Flemish and Genoese ships assisted the 
Normans and French. The English to the number of 
60 were under Sir Robert Tiptoft. The number of the 
enemy is placed at 200, though it was probably con- 
siderably less. In the battle that ensued the Norman 
and French fleets were annihilated. 

This battle, even more than others of the period, 
cannot be considered as one of the battles of " the 
British fleet." It is merely a conflict between one 
clique of pirates and traders against another clique. 
But it is important on account of the light that it sheds 
on a good deal of subsequent history ; for the fashion 
thus started lasted in one way and another for two or 
three hundred years. 

Nor were these disputes always international. Four 
years later than the fight recorded above, in 1297, the 
King wished to invade Flanders with an army of 50,000 
men. The Gnque Ports being unable to supply the 
requisite number of ships to transport this army, 
requisitions were also made at Yarmouth. Bad blood 
soon arose between the two divisions, with the result 
that they attacked each other. Thirty of the Yarmouth 
ships with their crews were destroyed and the expedition 
greatly hampered thereby. 

Two events of importance in British naval history 
happened in the reign of Edward I. The first of these, 
which took place about the year 1300, arose out of acts 
of piracy on foreigners, to which English ships were 
greatly addicted at that time. In an appeal made to 
Edward by those Continentals who had suffered most 
from these depredations, the King was addressed as "Lord 
of the Sea." This was a definite recognition of that 


sea claim first formulated by Henry II and which was 
afterwards to lead to so much fighting and bloodshed. 

The second event was the granting of the first 
recorded " Letters of Marque " in the year 1295. These 
were granted to a French merchant who had been taking 
a cargo of fruit from Spain to England and had been 
robbed by the Portuguese. He was granted a five year 
license to attack the Portuguese in order to recoup 
his loss. 

In the reign of Edward II the only naval event of 
interest is, that when the Queen came from abroad and 
joined those who were fighting against the King, the 
nautical element sided with her. 

The reign of Edward III saw some stirring phases 
in English history. With a view to carrying on his 
war against France, Edward bestowed considerable 
■attention on naval matters, and in the year 1338, he 
got together a fleet stated to have consisted of 500 
vessels. These were used as transports to convey the 
Arm}^ to France, and are estimated to have carried on 
the average about eighty men each. 

Meanwhile, the French had also got together a 
fleet of about equal size, and no sooner had the English 
expedition reached the shores of France than the whole 
of the south coast of England was subjected to a scries 
of French raids. Southampton, Plymouth and the 
Oinque Ports were sacked and burned with practical 
impunity. These raids continued during 1338 and 1339 ; 
the bulk of the English fleet still lying idle on transport 
service at Edward's base in Flanders. A certain number 
of ships had been sent back, but most of these had 
been as hastily sent on to Scotland, where their services 


had been urgently needed. Matters in the Channel 
culminated with the capture of the two largest English 
ships of the time. A fleet of small vessels hastily fitted 
out at the Cinque Ports succeeded in destroying Boulogne 
and a number of ships that lay there, but generally 
speaking the French had matters very much their own 
way on the sea. 

Towards the end of 1339, Edward and his expedition 
returned to England to refit, with a view to preparing 
for a fresh invasion of France during the following 

As Edward was about to embark, he learned that 
the French King had got together an enormous fleet 
at Sluys. After collecting some additional vessels, 
bringing the total number of ships up to 250 or there- 
abouts, Edward took command and sailed for Sluys, 
at which port he found the French fleet. He localised 
the French on Friday, July 3rd, but it was not until 
the next day that the battle took place. 

The recorded number of the enemy in all these 
early sea fights requires to be accepted with caution. 
For what it is worth the number of French ships has 
been given at 400 vessels, each carrying 100 men. The 
French, as on a later occasion they did on the Nile, 
lay on the defensive at the mouth of the harbour, the 
ships being lashed together by cables. Their boats, filled 
with stones, had been hoisted to the mast-heads. In 
the van of their fleet lay the Christopher, Edward, and 
various other " King's ships," which they captured in 
the previous year. 

The English took the offensive, and in doing so 
manoeuvred to have the sun behind them. Then, with 
their leading ships crowded with archers they bore 

^M^. ^ 


down upon the main French division and grappled with 
them. The battle, which lasted right throughout the 
night, was fought ^\dth unexampled fury, and for a 
long time remained undecisive, considerable havoc 
being ^\TOught by the French ^vith the then novel idea 
of dropping large stones from aloft. The combatants, 
however, were so mixed up that it is doubtful whether 
the French did not kill as many of their own number 
as of the enemy ; whereas, on the other side, the use 
of English archers who were noted marksmen told 
only against those at whom the arrows were directed. 
Furthermore, the English had the tactical advantage 
of throwing the whole of their force on a portion of 
the enemy, whom they ultimately totally destroyed. 

This Battle of Sluys took place in 1340. In 1346, 
after various truces, the Enghsh again attacked France 
in force, and the result was the Battle of Cressy. A 
side issue of this was the historic siege of Calais, which 
held out for about twelve months. 738 ships and 
14,956 men are said to have been employed in the 
sea blockade. 

Up to this time the principal English ship had 
been a galley, ?".e., essentially a row boat. About the 
year 1350 the galley began to disappear as a capital 
ship, and the galleon, with sail as its main motive power, 
took its place. Also a new enemy appeared ; for at 
that time England first came into serious conflict with 

To a certain extent the galleon was to the fleets 
of the Mid-Fourteenth (^entury much what the iron- 
clad was to the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, 
or " Dread no uglits " at the end of the first decade of 
the Twentieth Century. 


The introduction of this type of vessel came about 
as follows : — 

A fleet of Castillian galleons, bound for Flanders^ 
whiled away the monotony of its trip by acts of piracy 
against all English ships that it met. It reached Sluy& 
without interference. Here it loaded up with rich cargoes 
and prepared to return to Spain. The English mean- 
while collected a fleet to intercept it, this fleet being 
in command of King Edward himself, who selected the 
" cog Thomas " as his flagship. 

The English tactics would seem to have been 
carefully thought out beforehand. The CastiUian ships 
were known to be of relatively vast size and more or 
less unassailable except by boarding. The result was. 
that when at length they appeared, the English charged 
their ships into them, sinking most of their own ship& 
in the impact, sprang aboard and carried the enemy 
by boarding. The leading figure on the English side 
was a German body-servant of the name of Hannekin, 
who distinguished himself just at the crisis of the 
battle by leaping on board a Castillian ship and cutting 
the halyards. Otherwise the result of the battle might 
have been different, because the Castillians, when 
about half only of the English ships were grappled 
with them, hoisted their sails, with the object of 
sailing away and destro3dng the enemy in detail. 
Hannekin' s perception of this intention frustrated the 

The advantages of the galleons (or carracks as they 
were then called), must have been rendered obvious in 
this battle of " I^s Espagnols-sur-Mer," as immediately 
afterwards ships on the models of those captured began 
to be hired for English purposes. 


Concurrent, however, mth this building of a larger 
type of ship, a decline of naval power began ; and ten 
years later, English shipping was in such a parlous 
state that orders were issued to the effect that should 
any of the Cinque Ports be attacked from the sea, any 
ships there were to be hauled up on land, as far away 
from the water as possible, in order to preserve them. 

In the French War of 1369, almost the first act 
of the French fleet was to sack and burn Portsmouth 
without encountering any naval opposition. 

In 1372 some sort of English fleet was collected, 
and under the Earl of Pembroke sent to reheve La 
Rochelle, which was then besieged by the French and 
Spanish. The Spanish ships of that period had improved 
on those of twenty years before, to the extent that 
(according to Froissart), some carried guns. In any 
case they proved completely superior to the English, 
whose entire fleet was captured or sunk. 

This remarkable and startling difference is only to 
be accounted for by the difference in the naval policy 
of the two periods. In the early years of Edward Ill's 
reign, when a fleet was required it was in an efficient 
state, and when it encountered the enemy, it was used 
by those who had obviously thought out the best means 
of making the most of the material available. In the 
latter stage, there was neither efficiency nor purpose. 
The result was annihilation. 

How far the introduction of cannon on shipboard 
contributed to this result it is difficult to say exactly. 
In so far as it may have, the blame rests with the 
English, who wore perfectly familiar with cannon at 
that time. If, therefore, the very crude stone-throwing 
cannon of tlu)Ho days had any particular advantages 


over the stone-throwing catapults previously employed, 
failure to fit them is merely a further proof of the 
inefficiency of those responsible for naval matters in 
the closing years of Edward Ill's reign. Probably, how- 
ever, the cannon contributed little to the result of 
La Rochelle, for, like aU battles of the era, it was a 
matter of boarding — of " land fighting on the water." 

The reign of Richard II saw England practically 
without any naval power at all. The French and 
Spaniards raided the Channel without interference worth 
mention. Once or twice retaliatory private expeditions 
were made upon the French coast ; but speaking 
generally the French and Spaniards had matters entirely 
their own way, and the latter penetrated the Thames 
so far as Gravesend. 

In the year 1380, an English army was sent over 
to France, but this, as Calais was British, was a simple 
operation, and although two years later ships were 
collected for naval purposes, English sea impotence 
remained as conspicuous as ever. In 1385, when a 
French armada was collected at Sluys for the avowed 
purpose of invading England on a large scale, no attempt 
whatever seems to have been made to meet this with 
another fleet. Fortunately for England, delays of one 
kind and another led to the French scheme of invasion 
being abandoned. 

Under Henry IV, matters remained much the same, 
until in the summer of 1407, off the coast of Essex, 
the King, who was voyaging with five ships, was attacked 
by French privateers, which succeeded in capturing all 
except the Royal vessel. 

This led to the organisation of a " fleet " and a 
successful campaign against the privateers. The necessity 








of Sea Power began to be realised again, and this so 
far bore fruit that in the reign of Henry V no less 
than 1,500 ships were (it is said) collected in the Solent, 
for an invasion of France. But since some of these 
were hired from the Dutch and as every English vessel 
of over twenty tons was requisitioned by the King, 
the large number got together does not necessarily 
indicate the existence of any very great amount of 
naval power. This fleet, however, indicated a revival 
of sea usage. 

In 1417, large ships known as " Dromons " were 
built at Southampton, and bought for the Crown, but 
these were more of the nature of " Royal Yachts " than 
warships. The principal British naval base at and 
about this period was at Calais, of which, at the time of 
the War of the Roses, the Earl of Warwick was the 

T^e first act of the Regency of Henry VI was to 
sell by auction such ships as had been bought for the 
Crown under Henry V. The duty of keeping the Channel 
free from pirates was handed over to London merchants, 
who were paid a lump sum to do this, but did not do 
it at all effectively. 

Edward IV made some use of a Fleet to secure his 
accession, or later restoration. Richard HI would seem 
to have realised the utility of a Fleet, and during his 
short reign he did his best to begin a revival of " the 
Navy " by V^uying some ships, which, however, he hired 
out to mcrcliants for trade ])urj)os('s ; and so, at tlie 
critical moment, he Iiad apparently nothing available 
to meet the mild over-sea expedition of Henry of 
Richmond. So — right up to comparatively recent times — 
there was n(;ver any Royal Navy in the })roper meaning 


of the word, nor even any organised attempt to create 
an equivalent, except on the part of those two Kings 
who we are always told were the worst Kings England 
ever had — John and Richard III. Outside these two, 
there is not the remotest evidence that anyone ever 
dreamed of " naval power," " sea power," or anything 
of the sort, till Henry VII became King of England, 
and founded the British Navy on the entirely unromantic 
principle that it was a financial economy. 

Such was the real and prosaic birth of the British 
Navy in relatively recent times. It was made equally 
prosaic in 1910 by Lord Charles Beresford, when he 
said, " Battleships are cheaper than war." 

There is actually no poetry about the British Navy. 
There never has been — it will be all the better for us if 
there never is. It is merely a business-Hke institution 
founded to secure these islands from foreign invasion. 
Dibden in his own day, Kipling in ours, have done their 
best to put in the poetry. It has been pretty and nice 
and splendid. But over and above it all I put the 
words of a stoker whose name I never knew, "It's just 
this — do your blanky job ! " 

That is the real British Navy. Henry VII did not 
create this watchword, nor anyone else, except perhaps. 



THAT Henry VII assimilated the lesson of the utility 
of naval ])owcr is abundantly clear. Henry VII it 
was who first established a regular navy as we now 
understand it. Previous to his reigii, ships were requisi- 
tioned as required for war purposes, and, the war being 
over, reverted to the mercantile service. The liability of 
the Cinque Ports to provide ships when called upon 
constituted a species of navy, and certain ships were 
specially held as " Royal ships " for use as required, 
but under Henry ships primarily designed for fighting 
purposes appeared. The first of these ships was a 
vessel generally spoken of as the " Great Harry,'' though 
her real name seems to have been The Regent, built in 
1485. Incidentally this ship remained afloat till 1553, 
when she was burned by accident. She has been called 
" the first ship of the Royal Navy " ; and though her 
right to the honour has been contested, she appears 
fully entitled to it. The real founder of the Navy as 
we understand a navy to-day was Henry VII. 

Another important event of this reign is that during 
it the first dry dock was built at Portsmouth. Up till 
then there had been no facilitien for the under-water 
repair of ships other than the primitive method of 
running them on to the mud and working on them at 


low tide. While ships were small this was not a matter 
of much moment, but directly larger vessels began to 
be built, it meant that efficient overhauls were extremely 
difficult, if not impossible. 

Yet another step that had far reaching results was 
the granting of a bounty to all who built ships of over 
120 tons. This bounty, which was " per ton " and on a 
sliding scale, made the building of large private ships 
more profitable and less risky than it had been before, 
and so assisted in the creation of an important auxihary 
navy as complement to the Royal Navy. 

The bounty system did more, however, than en- 
courage the building of large private ships. The loose 
method of computing tonnage already referred to, 
became more elastic still when a bounty was at stake ; 
and even looser when questions of the ship being hired 
per ton for State purposes was at issue. Henry VII, 
who was nothing if not economical, felt the pinch ; 
the more so, as just about this time Continentals with 
ships for hire became alarmingly scarce. Something 
very hke a " corner in ships " was created by English 

Henry VII was thus, by circumstances beyond his 
own control, forced into creating a permanent navy 
in self defence. He died with a " navy " of eighteen 
ships, of which, however, only two were genuinely 
entitled to be called " H.M.S." He had to hire the 
others ! 

This foundation of the " regular navy " is not at 
aU romantic. But it is how a regular navy came to 
be founded — by force of circumstances. Henr}^ VII, 
" founder of the Royal Navy," undoubtedly realized 
clearer than any of his predecessors for many a hundred 


years the meaning of naval power. But — his passion 
for economy and the advantage taken by such of his 
subjects as had ships available when hired ships were 
scarce, had probably a deal more to do with the 
institution of a regular navy than any preconceived 
ideas. In two words — *' Circumstances compelled." 
And that is how things stood when Henry VIII came 
to the throne. 

The nominal permanent naval power established by 
Henry VII consisted of fifty-seven ships, and the crew 
of each was twenty-one men and a boy, so that the 
Great Harry, which must have required a considerably 
larger crew, would seem to have been an experimental 
vessel. The actual force, however, was but two fighting 
ships proper. 

Under Henry VIII, however, the policy of monster 
ships was vigorously upheld, and one large ship built in 
the earh" years of his reign — the Sovereign — was reputed 
to be " the largest ship in Europe." In 1512 the King 
reviewed at Portsmouth *' twenty-five ships of great 
burthen," which had been collected in view of hostilities 
with France. These ships having been joined by others, 
and amounting to a fleet of fort3'-four sail, encountered 
a French fleet of thirtN-nine somewhere off the coast 
of Brittany. 

This particular battle is mainly noteworthy o\ving 
to the fact that the two flagships grappled, and while 
in this position one of them caught fire. The flames 
being communicated to the other, both blew up. This 
catastrophe so appalled the two sides that they abandon- 
ed the battle by mutual consent ; from which it is to 
be presumed that the nautical mind of the day had. 


till then, little realised that risks were run by carrying 

The EngHsh, however, were less impressed by the 
catastrophe than the enem}^, since next day they rallied 
and captured or sank most of the still panic-stricken 
French ships. 

Henry replaced the lost flagship by a still larger ship, 
the Grace de Dieu, a two-decker with the lofty poop and 
forecastle of the period. She was about 1,000 tons. 
Tonnage, however, was so loosely calculated in those 
days that measurements are excessively approximate. 

When first cannon were introduced, they were (as 
previously remarked) merely a substitute for the old- 
fashioned catapults, and discharged stones for some 
time till more suitable projectiles were evolved. Like 
the catapults they were placed on the poop or forecastle, 
as portholes had not then been introduced. These 
were invented by a Frenchman, one Descharges, of 
Brest. By means of portholes it was possible to 
mount guns on the main deck and so increase their 

Although the earliest portholes were merely small 
circular holes which did not allow of any training, and 
though the idea of them was probably directly derived 
from the loopholes in castle walls, the influence of the 
porthole on naval architecture was soon very great 
indeed. By means of this device a new relation 
between size and power was established, hence the 
" big displacements " which began to aj)pear at this 
time. The hole for a gun muzzle to protrude through, 
quickly became an aperture allowing of training the 
gun on any ordinary bearing in English built ships. 
The English (for a very long time it was English only) 


realisation of the possibilities of the porthole in Henry 
VIII's reign contributed very materially to the defeat 
of the Spanish Armada some decades later. Indeed, 
it is no exaggeration to say that the porthole was to 
that era what the torpedo has been in the present one. 
Introduced about 1875 as a trivial alternative to the 
gun, in less than forty 3^ears the torpedo came to 
challenge the gun in range to an extent that as early 
as 1905 or thereabouts began profoundly to affect all 
pre\ious ideas of naval tactics, and that by 1915 has 
changed them altogether ! 

Another great change of these Henry VIII days 
was in the form of the ships.* At this era they began 
to be built with " tumble-home " sides, instead of sidfes 
slanting outwards upwards, and inwards downwards as 
heretofore. With the coming of the porthole came the 
decline of the cross-bow as a naval arm. In the pre- 
porthole days every record speaks of " showers of 
arrows," and the gun appears to have been a species of 
accessory. In the early years of the Sixteenth Century 
it became the main armament, and so remained un- 
challenged till the present century and the coming of 
the long-range torpedo. 

Henry VIII's reign is also remarkable for the 
first institution of those " cutting out " expeditions 
which were afterwards to become such a particular 
feature of British methods of warfare. This first 
attempt happened in tin; year 1513, when Sir Edward 
Howard, finding tlie French fleet lying in Brest Harbour 
refusing to come out, " collected boats and barges " 
and attacked them with these craft. The attempt was 

• Henry V'lII intnxliicod u now form of wurnliip in tlio " piiina<'t\s," which 
were, to a wrtain exti-nt, aiiuloguus to the torpedo cnift of to-day. 


not successful, but it profoundly affected subsequent 
naval history. 

Therefrom the French were impressed with the idea 
that if a fleet lay in a harbour awaiting attack it 
acquired an advantage thereby. The idea became 
rooted in the French mind that to make the enemy 
attack under the most disadvantageous circumstances 
was the most wise of policies. That " the defensive 
is compelled to await attack, compelled to allow the 
enemy choice of the moment " was overlooked ! 

From this time onward England was gradually 
trained by France into the role of the attacker, and 
the French more and more sank into the defensive 
attitude. Many an English life was sacrificed between 
the " discovery of the attack " in the days of Henry 
VIII, and its triumphant apotheosis when centuries 
later Nelson won the Battle of the Nile ; but the 
instincts born in Henry's reign, on the one hand to 
fight with any advantage that the defensive might offer, 
on the other hand to attack regardless of these advan- 
tages, are probably the real key to the secret of later 

The Royal ships at this period were manned by 
voluntary enlistment, supplemented by the pressgang 
as vacancies might dictate. The pay of the mariner 
was five shillings a month ; but petty officers, gunners 
and the like received additional pickings out of what 
was known as " dead pay." By this system the names 
of dead men, or occasionally purely fancy names, were 
on the ship's books, and the money drawn for these 
was distributed in a fixed ratio. The most interesting 
feature of Henry VII and Henry VIII' s navies is the 
presence in them of a number of Spaniards, who pre- 


sumably acted as instructors. These received normal 
pay of seven shillings a month plus " dead pay." 

The messing of the crews was by no means indifferent. 
It was as follows per man : — 

Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday : | lb. beef and | lb. 

Monday, Wednesday, Saturday : Four herrings and 
two pounds of cheese. 

Friday : To every mess of four men, half a cod, 
ten herrings, one pound of butter and one 
pound of cheese. 
There was also a daily allowance of one pound of bread 
or biscuit. The liquid allowance was either beer, or a 
species of grog consisting of one part of sack to two of 
water. Taking into account the value of money in 
those days and the scale of living on sliore at the time, 
the conditions of naval Hfe were by no means bad, 
though complaints of the low pay were plentiful enough. 
Probabl}', few received the full measure of what on 
paper they were entitled to. 

Henry VIII died carl}' in 1547. In the subsequent 
reigns of Edward VI and Mary, the Navy declined, and 
little use was made of it except for some raiding 

When Elizabeth came to the throne the regular 
fleet had (hviiullcd to very small ])ro])ortions, and, war 
being in progress, general f)ermission was given for 
privateering as the only means of injuring the enemy. 
It ])resently degenerated into j)iracy and finally had to 
be put down by the Royal shijjs. 

No sooner, liowever, was the war over than the (^iieen 
ordered a special survey to })e made of the Navy. 
New Hhij)s were laid down and arsenals established for 



the supply of guns and gunpowder, which up to that 
time had been imported from Germany. Full advantage 
was taken of the privateering spirit, the erstwhile 
pirates being encouraged to undertake distant voyages. 
In many of these enterprises the Queen herself had a 
personal financial interest. She thus freed the country 
from various turbulent spirits who were inconvenient 
at home, and at one and the same time increased her 
own resources by doing so. 

There is every reason to believe that this action 
of Elizabeth's was part of a well-designed and carefully 
thought out policy. The type of ship suitable for 
distant voyages and enterprises was naturally bound to 
become superior to that which was merely evolved 
from home service. The type of seamen thus bred was 
also necessarily bound to be better than the home-made 
article. Elizabeth can hardly have failed to reaUse 
these points also. 

To the person7iel of the regular Navy considerable 
attention was also given. Pay was raised to 6/8 per 
month for the seamen, and 5/- a month with 4/- a month 
for clothing for soldiers afloat. Messing was also in- 
creased to a daily ration of one pound of biscuit, a gallon 
of beer, with two pounds of beef per man four days out 
of the seven, and a proportionate amount of fish on the 
other three days. Subsequently, and just previous to 
the Armada, the pay of seamen rose to 10/- a month, 
with a view to inducing the better men not to desert. 

The regular navy was thus by no means badly 
provided for as things went in those days ; while service 
with " gentlemen adventurers " offered attractions to a 
very considerable potential reserve, and so England 
contained a large population which, from one cause 


and another, was available for sea service. To these 
circumstances was it due that the Spanish Armada, 
when it came, never had the remotest possibility of 
success. It was doomed to destruction the da}^ that 
EUzabeth first gave favour to the " gentlemen 

Of these adventurers the greatest of all was Francis 
Drake, who in 1577 made his first long vo3^age with five 
ships to the Pacific Ocean. Drake, alone, in the Pelican, 
succeeded in reaching the Pacific and carrying out his 
scheme of operations, which — not to put too fine a point 
on it^ — consisted of acts of piracy pure and simple 
against the Spaniards. He returned to England after 
an absence of nearly three years, during which he 
circumna\dgated the globe. 

There is little doubt that Drake in this voyage, 
and others hke him in similar expeditions, learned a 
great deal about the disadvantages of small size in 
ships. Drake, however, learned another thing also. 
Up to this day the crew of a ship had consisted of 
the captain and a certain military element ; also the 
master, who was responsible for a certain number of 
" mariners." The former were concerned entirely with 
fighting the shij:) — the latter entirely with manoeuvring it. 

This system of specialisation, awkward as it apj)ears 
llius baldly stated, may have worked well enough in 
ordinary practice. It did not differ materially from the 
differentiation between deck hands and the engineering 
de})artmentH, which to a greater or less extent is very 
m. irked in every navy of the present day. 

Drake, liovvever, started out witli none too many 
men, and it was not long before he lost some of those 
he had and foiiiid himself shorthanded. His solution of 


the difficulty is in his famous phrase, " I would have the 
gentlemen haul with the mariners." How far this was a 
matter of expediency, how far the revelation of a new 
poHcy, is a matter of opinion. It must certainly have 
been outside the purview of Elizabeth. But out of it 
gradually came that every English sailor knew how to 
fight his ship and how to sail her too, and this amounted 
to doubling the efficiency of the crew of any ship at one 

Of Drake himself, the following contemporary pen- 
picture, from a letter written by one of his Spanish victims, 
Don Franciso de Zarate,* explains almost everything : — 

" He received me favourably, and took me to his room, where 
he made me seated and said to me : ' I am a friend to those who 
speak the truth, that is what will have the most weight with me. 
What silver or gold does this ship bring ? ' 

"... .We spoke together a great while, until the dinner-hour. 
He told me to sit beside him and treated me from his dishes, bidding 
me have no fear, for my life and goods were safe ; for which I kissed 
his hands. 

" This English General is a cousin of John Hawkins ; he is the 
same who, about five years ago, took the port of Nombre de Dios ; 
he is called Francis Drake ; a man of some five and thirty years, 
small of stature and red-bearded, one of the greatest sailors on the 
sea, both from skill and power of commanding. His ship carried 
about 400 tons, is swift of sail, and of a hundred men, all skilled and 
in their prime, and all as much experienced in warfare as if they 
were old soldiers of Italy. Each one, in particular, takes great pains 
to keep his arms clean ;f he treats them with affection, and they treat 
him with respect. I endeavoured to find out whether the General 
was liked, and everyone told me he was adored." 

Less favourable pictures of Drake have been penned, 
and there is no doubt that some of his virtues have 
been greatly exaggerated. At the present day there is 
perhaps too great a tendency to reverse the process. 

* Records of the Drake family. t The italics are mine. — F.T.J. 


Stripped of romance, many of his actions were petty, 
while those of some of his fellow adventurers merit a 
harsher name. Hawkins, for instance, was hand-in- 
glove with Spanish smugglers and a slave trader. 
Many of the victories of the Elizabethan " Sea-Kings " 
were really trifling little affairs, magnified into an 
importance which they never possessed. 

But, when all is said and done, it is in these men 
that we find the birth of a sea spirit which still fingers 
on, despite that other insular spirit previously referred 
to — the natural tendency of islanders to regard the 
water itself as a bulwark, instead of the medium on 
which to meet and defeat the enemy. 

The Spanish, already considerably incensed by the 
piratical acts of the English " gentlemen adventurers," 
presently found a further cause of grievance in the 
assistance rendered by Elizabeth to their revolting 
provinces in the Netherlands. Drake had not returned 
many ^^ears from his famous voyage when it became 
abundantly clear that the S})aniards no longer intended 
quietly to suffer from English interference. 

Spain at that time was regarded as the premier 
naval jx)wer of Euro})e. Her superiority was more 
mythical than actual, for reasons which will later on be 
referred to : however, her commercial oversea activities 
were very great. The wealth which she wrung from 
the Indies — though probably infinitely less than its 
8up[X)Hed value — was sufficient to enable her to equij) 
considerable naval forces, certainly larger ones numeric- 
ally than any which England alone was able to bring 
against them. 


Knowledge of the fact that Spain was preparing the 
Armada for an attack on England, led to the sailing 
of Drake in April, 1587, with a fleet consisting of four 
large and twenty-six smaller ships, for the hire of which 
the citizens of London were nominally or actually 
responsible. His real instructions are not known, but 
there is Uttle question that, as in all similar expeditions, 
he started out knowing that his success would be 
approved of, although in the event of any ill-success 
or awkward questions, he would be publicly disavowed. 

Reaching Cadiz, he destroyed 100 store ships which 
he found there ; and then proceeding to the Tagus, 
offered battle to the Spanish war fleet. The Spanish 
admiral, however, declined to come out — a fact which 
of itself altogether discredits the popular idea about the 
vast all-powerful ships of Spain, and the little English 
ships, which, in the Armada days, could have done 
nothing against them but for a convenient tempest. 
On account of this expedition of Drake's, the sailing 
of the Armada was put off for a year. So far as 
stopping the enterprise was concerned, Drake's expedition 
was a failure. Armada preparations still went on. 

It is by no means to be supposed that the Armada 
in its conception was the foolhardy enterprise that on 
the face of things it looks to have been. The idea of 
it was first mooted by the Duke of Alva so long ago 
as 1569. In 1583 it became a settled project in the 
able hands of the Marquis of Santa Cruz, who alone 
among the Spaniards was not more or less afraid of 
the English. In the battle of Tercera in 1583, certain 
ships, which if not English were at any rate supposed 
to be, had shown the white feather. Santa Cruz assumed 
therefrom that the English were easily to be overwhelmed 


by a sufficiently superior force, and he designed a scheme 
whereby lie would use 556 sliips and an army of 94,222 

Pliilip of Spain had other ideas. Having a large 
army under the Duke of Parma in the Netherlands, 
he proposed that this force should be transported thence 
to England in flat-bottomed boats, while Santa Cruz 
should take with him merely enough ships to hold the 
Cliannel, and prevent any interference by the English 
ships with the invasion. 

Before the delayed Armada could sail Santa Cruz 
died ; and despite his own protestations Medina Sidonia 
was appointed in Santa Cruz's place to carry out an 
expedition in which he had little faith or confidence. 
His total force at the outset consisted of 130 ships and 
30,493 men. Of these ships not more than sixty-two 
at the outside were warships, and some of these did 
not carry more than half-a-dozen guns. 

The main Enghsh fighting force consisted of forty- 
nine warshi})s, some of which were little inferior to the 
Spanish in tonnage, though all were much smaller to 
the eye, as they were built with a lower freeboard and 
without the vast superstructures with which the 
S})aniards were encumbered. As auxiliaries, the 
English had a very considerable force of small ships ; 
also the Dutch fleet in alHance with them. 

Tin; guns of the iMiglisli ships were, generally 
H])eaking, heavier, all their guiniers were well trained, 
and th(;ir portholes especially designed to give a con- 
siderable arc of fire, whereas the Spanish had very 
indiflerent gunners and narrow portholes. The Spaniards 
thems(!lveH tlioroughly recognised their inferiority in 
the matter of gunnery, and the 8])ecific instructions 


of their admiral were that he was to negative this 
inferiority by engaging at close quarters, and trust to 
destroying the enemy by small-arm fire from his lofty 

The small portholes of the Spanish ships, which 
permitted neither of training, nor elevation, nor 
depression, are not altogether to be put down to 
stupidity or neglect of progress, for all that they were 
mainly the result of ultra-conservatism. The gun — as 
Professor Laughton has made clear — was regarded in 
Spain as a somewhat dishonourable weapon. Ideals 
of " cold steel " held the field. Portholes were kept 
very small, so that enemies relying on musketry should 
not be able to get the advantage that large portholes 
might supply. To close with the enemy and carry by 
boarding was the be-all and end-all of Spanish ideas 
of naval warfare. When able to employ their own 
tactics they were formidable opponents, though to the 
English tactics merely so many helpless haystacks. 

On shore, in England, the coming of the Armada 
provoked a good deal of panic ; though the avmy 
which EHzabeth raised and reviewed at Tilbury was 
probably got together more with a view to allaying 
this panic than from any expectations that it would 
be actually required. The views of the British seamen 
on the matter were entirely summed up in Drake's 
famous jest on Plymouth Hoe, that there was plenty 
of time to finish the game of bowls and settle the 
Spaniards afterwards ! 

Yet this very confidence might have led to the 
undoing of the English. The researches of Professor 
Laughton have made it abundantly clear that had 


Medina Sidoiiia followed the majority opinion of a 
council of war held off the Lizard, he could and would 
have attacked the English fleet in Plymouth Sound 
^^^th every prospect of destroying it, because there, and 
there only, did opportunity offer them that prospect of 
a close action upon which their sole chance of success 
depended. Admiral Colomb has elaborated the point 
still further, with a quotation from Monson to the 
effect that had the Armada had a pilot able to recognise 
the Lizard, which the Spaniards mistook for Ramehead, 
they might have surprised the English fleet at Plymouth. 
This incident covers the whole of what Providence 
or luck really did for England against the Spanish. 

To a certain extent a parallel of our own day 
exists. When Rodjestvensky with the Baltic fleet 
reached Far Eastern waters, there came a day when 
his cruisers discovered the entire Japanese fleet lying 
in Formosan waters. The Russian admiral ignored 
them and went on towards Vladivostok. The parallel 
ends here because the " Japanese fleet " was merely a 
collection of dummies intended to mislead him.* 

The first engagement with the Spanish Armada 
took place on Sunday, June 21st. It was more in the 
nature of a skirmish than anything else. The Spaniards 
made several vain and entirely ineffectual attempts to 
close with the swifter and handier English vessels. 
They took care, however, to preserve their formation, 

• So far HM I om awan- nothing about tJiia appcarH in any oflicial account. 
I havn no Japanoso c<»nfirrnation, l)ut arcount8 glfuiKvi nt the time from the 
RuMHian auxiliarioH — who, l)oinK fori'ijjnorH h»ul no (>l)jc(t in lying — make it 
|XTfr'<;tly cloar to my mind that tho Kuswian udminils hoUt^vo that the 
.Japanr*»*<" w«t'j aHtcrn of thorn till they met them at 'rHU«iiimu. It in tin* only 
iogiral (<xplariation of why KodjoHtvtiiiHky i-wwaycd the narrow piusnago with 
hiM U-Ht nhipH, wh<Mi ho could mjually wc^ll have gono round Japan with th(>n) 
unoppow'd, and ho Hocurod at VladivoRtok that refit of which hi< wan ho much 
in ikmhI. 


and so to that extent defeated the English tactics, 
which were to destroy in detail what could not be 
destroyed without heavy loss in the mass. So the 
Spaniards reached Calais on the 27th with a loss of 
only three large ships. 

They there discovered that Parma's flat-bottomed 
boats were all blockaded by the Dutch, and that any 
invasion of England was therefore entirely out of the 
question. It must have been perfectly obvious to the 
most sanguine of them by this that they could not 
force action with the swifter English ships, while they 
could not relieve the blockaded boats without being 
attacked at the outset. In a word, the Armada was 
an obvious failure. 

On the night of the 28th, fire ships were sent into 
the Spanish fleet by the English. This, though the 
damage done was small, brought the Spanish to sea, 
and the next morning they were attacked off Gravelines 
by the English. The battle was hardly of the nature 
of a fleet action, so much as well-designed tactical 
operations intended to keep the enemy on the move. 
It resulted in the Spaniards losing only seven ships in 
a whole day's fighting. The only really serious loss 
that the Spaniards sustained was that they were driven 
into the North Sea, with no prospect of returning home 
except by way of the North of Scotland. 

Followed for awhile and harried by a portion of the 
English fleet, which fell upon and destroyed stragglers, 
the Spaniards were driven into what to most of them 
were unknown waters and uncharted seas. To the 
last the retreating fleet maintained a show of order. 
Fifty-three ships succeeded in returning to Spain. 








Stripped of romance this is the real prosaic history 
of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The wonder is 
not that so few Spanish sliips returned, but that so 
many did ! The loss in Spanish warships proper appears 
to have been little over a dozen all told, and of these 
not more than three at the outside can be attributed 
to " the wands." 

Havoc was undoubtedly wrought, but the "galleons" 
which " perished by scores " on the Scotch and Irish 
coasts were mainly the auxiliaries, transports, and small 
fry ; the battle fleet proper kept together all the time, 
and with a couple of exceptions the sliips reached home 
together as a fleet.* 

At no time in the advance of the Spanish — probably 
at no time in the retreat either — could the English 
have engaged close action with any certainty of success. 
Victory was attributable solely and entirely to the 
evolution of a type of ship, fast, speedy and handy, 
able to hit hard, and which had been more or less 
specially designed with an eye to offering a very small 
target to the clumsily designed Spanish style of gun 

It was " history repeating itself " in another way. 
As Alfred overcame the Danes by evolving something 
superior to the Danish galleys ; so, in Elizabethan days, 
there was evolved a type of warship meet for the 

From the defeat of the Armada and onwards, 
English naval operations were mainly confined to raid- 
ing expeditions against the Spanish coast, with a view 
to checking the collection of any further Armadas. 

* It woH bofUy weather -boaton, of courao, and in aore straits on account of 
ita lengthy voyage. 


These operations were chiefly carried out by the " gentle- 
men adventurers " ; but the real Navy itself was 
maintained and added to, and at the death of Elizabeth 
in 1603, it consisted of forty-two ships, of which the 
68-gun Triumph of 1,000 tons was the largest. This 
Navy was relied upon as the premier arm in case of 
any serious trouble. 



WITH the accession of James I peace with Spain 
came about, but the Dutch being ignored in the 
transaction, out of this there arose that ill-feehng 
and rivaky which was later on to culminate in the 
Dutch wars. 

In James I's reign no naval operations of great 
importance took place, but considerable interest attaches 
to the despatch of eighteen ships (of which six were 
" King's Ships "), to Algiers in 1520. This was the first 
appearance of an English squadron in the Mediterranean. 

Under James I the numerical force of the Navy 
dechned somewhat. The art of ship-building, however, 
made considerable advance.* A Shipwrights' Company 
was established in 1656, and Phineas Pett, as its first 
master, built and designed a 1,400 ton ship named the 
Prince Royal. Pett introduced a variety of novelties into 
his designs, and the Prince Royal and her successors 
were esteemed superior to anything set afloat elsewhere 
at the time. 

Here it is desirable to turn aside for a moment 
in order to realise the influences at work behind Phineas 
Pett. It has ever been the i)cculiar fortune of the 

• In 1020 tJio fifHt Hiil)MiuriiM< iip|M'an'd. It wtiH inv(<nU'<i l)y a Dutcli 
phyHiciun, C. Vun Drclx-I ; ttiid JaincH 1 w«>nt for a li'ii^tliy iiiKii)rwiit4>r trip 
in a liiTger replicu. — St-o Suhinarine NuiiycUion, \>y Alan H. Hurgoyne. 


Royal Navy — and for that matter of the inchoate 
" Navy " which preceded its estabhshment — to have 
had men capable of " looking ahead " and forcing the 
pace in such a way that new conditions were prepared 
for when they arrived. 

Of such a nature, each in his own way, were 
King Alfred, King John, Richard III, and Henry VII, but 
greater than any of these was Sir Walter Raleigh, 
whose visions in the days of Elizabeth and James I 
ran so clearly and so far that even now we cannot 
be said to have left him behind where " principles " 
are concerned. Drake was the national hero of 
Elizabethan days, but in utility to the future, Raleigh 
was a greater than he, albeit his best service was of 
the " armchair " kind. 

The following extracts from Raleigh's writings, 
except for geographical and political differences, stand 
as true to-day as when he wrote them about 300 years 
ago. The idea of a main fleet, backed up by smaller 
vessels, the idea of meeting the enemy on the water and 
so forth, are commonplaces now, but in Raleigh's time 
they were quite otherwise. The italicised portions in 
particular indicate quite clearly in Elizabethan words 
the naval policy of to-day. 

" Another benefit which we received by this preparation was, 
that our men were now taught suddenly to arm, every man knowing his 
command, and how to be commanded, which before they were ignorant 
of ; and who knows not that sudden and false alarms in any army 
are sometimes necessary ? To say the truth, the expedition which 
was then used in drawing together so great an army by land, and 
rigging so great and royal a navy to sea, in so little a space of 
time, was so admirable in other countries, that they received a 
terror by it ; and many that came from beyond the seas said 
the Queen was never more dreaded abroad for anything she ever did. 


■■ Frenchmen that came aboard our ships did wonder (as at a 
thing incredible) that Her Majesty had rigged, victualled, and 
furnished her royal ships to sea in twelve days' time ; and Spain, 
as an enemy, had reason to fear and grieve to see this sudden 

"It is not the meanest mischief we shall do to the King of 
Spain, if we thus war upon him, to force him to keep his shores 
still armed and guarded, to the infinite vexation, charge and 
discontent of his subjects ; for no time or place can secure them so 
long as they see or know us to be upon that coast. 

" The sequel of all these actions being duly considered, we may 
be confident that whilst we busy the Spaniard at home, they dare not 
think of invading England or Ireland : for by their absence their fleet 
from the Indies may be endangered* and in their attempts they 
have as little hope of prevailing. 

'■ Surely I hold that the best way is to keep our enemies from 
treading upon our ground : wherein, if we fail, then must we seek to 
make him wish that he had stayed at his own home. In such a case, 
if it should happen, our judgments are to weigh many particular 
circumstances, that belong not to this discourse. But making the 
question general, the position, whether England., ivilhout that it is unable 
to do so : and, therefore, I think it most dangerous to make the 
adventure. For the encouragements of a first victory to an enemy, 
and the discouragement of being beaten to the invaded, may draw 
after it a most perilous consequence. 

" Great difference, I know there is. and diverse consideration to 
be had, between such a country as France is, strengthened with 
many fortified places, and this of ours, where our ramparts are but 
the bodies of men. But I say that an army to be transported over 
sea, and to be landed again in an enemy's country, and the place 
left to the choice of the invader cannot be resisted on the coast of 
England vAthout a fleet to impeach it ; no, nor on the coast of France, or 
any other country, except every creek, port, or sandy bay had a powerful 

army in each of them to m,ake opposition For there is no mun 

ignorant that ships, without putting themselves out of breath, vrill easily 
rrutrun the soldiers that coast them.'\ 

* In thiH connection, «ee The First Dutcli Wnv, u few pages further on. 

t It is intfTOHting to noto that this particular argument, Htminiiigly ratlior 
hyp*Tl>oUcal to day on account of railways, is ho only if the hostile tthipn can be 
kept under obtcrvatitm. 


" Whosoever were the inventors, we find that every age hath 
added somewhat to ships, and to all things else. And in mine own 
time the shape of our English ships hath been greatly bettered. It 
is not long since the striking of the topmast (a wonderful ease to 
great ships, both at sea and in harbour) hath been devised, together 
with the chain pump, which takes up twice as much water as the 
ordinary did. We have lately added the Bonnet and the Drabler. 
To the courses we have devised studding-sails, topgallant -masts, 
spritsails, topsails. The weighing of anchors by the capstone is also 
new. We have fallen into consideration of the lengths of cable, and 
by it we resist the malice of the greatest winds that can blow. 
Witness our small Millbroke men of Cornwall, that ride it out at 
anchor half seas over between England and Ireland, all the winter 
quarter. And witness the Hollanders that were wont to ride before 
Dunkirk with the wind at north-west, making a lee-shoar in all 
weathers. For true it is, that the length of the cable is the life of 
the ship, riding at length, is not able to stretch it ; and nothing 
breaks that is not stretched in extremity. We carry our ordnance 
better than we were wont, because our nether over-loops are raised 
commonly from the water, to wit, between the lower part of 
the sea. 

" In King Henry VIII time, and in his presence at Portsmouth, 
the Mary Rose, by a little sway of the ship in tacking about, her 
ports being within sixteen inches of the water, was overset and lost. 

" We have also raised our second decks, and given more vent 
thereby to our ordnance lying on our nether-loop. We have added 
cross pillars* in our royal ships to strengthen them, which be 
fastened from the keels on to the beam of the second deck to keep 
them from setting or from giving way in all distresses. 

" We have given longer floors to our ships than in elder times, 
and better bearing under water, whereby they never fall into the 
sea after the head and shake the whole body, nor sink astern, nor 
stoop upon a wind, by which the breaking loose of our ordnance, 
or of the not use of them, with many other discommodities are 

" And, to say the truth, a miserable shame and dishonour it were 
for our shipAvrights if they did not exceed all others in the setting 

* This practice appears to have been allowed to die out. At anyrate it 
was re-introduced in the time of Queen Anne. 


up of our Royal ships, the errors of other nations being far more excusable 
than ours. For the Kings of England have for many years being at 
the charge to build and furnish a navy of powerful ships for their own 
defence, and for the wars only. Whereas the French, the Spaniards, the 
Portuguese, and the Hollanders (till of late) have had no proper fleet 
belonging to their Princes or States. Only the Venetians for a long 
time have maintained their arsenal of gallies. And the Kings of 
Denmark and Sweden have had good ships for these last fifty years. 

" I say that the aforenamed Kings, especially the Spaniards and 
Portugals, have ships of great bulk, but fitter for the merchant than 
for the man-of-war, for burthen than for battle. But as Popelimire 
well observeth, ' the forces of Princes by sea are marques de 
grandeur d'estate — marks of the greatness of an estate — for whosoever 
commands the sea, commands the trade ; whosoever commands the trade 
of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the 
world itself.' 

" Yet, can I not deny but that the Spaniards, being afraid of 
theii* Indian fleets, have built some few very good ships ; but he hath 
no ships in garrison, as His Majesty hath ; and to say the truth, no 
sure place to keep them in, but in all invasions he is driven to take up 
of all nations which come into his ports for trade 

* * * * 

*' But there's no estate grown in haste but that of the United 

Provinces, and especially in their sea forces, and by a contrary way 

to that of Spain and France ; the latter by invasion, the former by 

oppression. For I myself may remember when one ship of Her 

Majesty's would have made forty Hollanders strike sail and come to an 

anchor. They did not then dispute de Mari Libero, but readily 

acknowledged the English to be Domini Maria Britannici. That we 

are less powerful than we were, I do hardly believe it ; for, although 

we have not at this time 135 ships belonging to the subject of 500 

tons each ship, as it is said we had in the twenty-fourth year of 

Queen Elizabeth ; at which time also, upon a general view and 

muster, there were found in England of able men fit to bear arms, 

1 ,172,(X)0, yet are our merchant ships now far more warlike and better 

appointed than they were, and the Navy royal double as strong as 

it then was. For these were the ships of Her Majesty's Navy at 

that time : 



The Revenge 


The Hope 


The Mary Rose 


The Dreadnought 


The Minion 


The Swiftsure 


The Ayde 


The Achates 


The Falcon 


The Tyger 


The Bull 


1. The Triumph 

2. The Elizabeth Jonas 

3. The White Bear 

4. The Philip and Mary 

5. The Bonadventure 

6. The Golden Lyon 

7. The Victory 
to which there have been added : — 

14. The Antilope 

15. The Foresight 

16. The Swallow 

17. The Handmaid 

18. TheJennett 

19. The Bark of Ballein 

" We have not, therefore, less force than we had, the fashion, and 
furnishing of our ships considered, for there are in England at this 
time 400 sail or merchants, and fit for the wars, which the Spaniards 
would call galleons ; to which we may add 200 sail of crumsters, 
or hoyes of Newcastle, which, each of them, will bear six Demi- 
culverins and four Sakers, needing no other addition of building 
than a slight spar deck fore and aft, as the seamen call it, which is 
a slight deck throughout 

" I say, then, if a vanguard be ordained of those hoyes, who will 
easily recover the wind of any other sort of ships, with a battle of 
400 other warlike ships, and a rear of thirty of His Majesty's ships 
to sustain, relieve, and countenance the rest (if God beat them not) 
I know not what strength can be gathered in all Europe to beat 
them. And if it be objected that the States can furnish a far 
greater number, I answer that His Majesty's forty ships, added to 
the 600 beforenamed, are of incomparable greater force than all that 
Holland and Zealand can furnish for the wars. As also, that a 
greater number would breed the same confusion that was found in 
Xerxes' land army of 1,700,000 soldiers ; jor there is a certain pro- 
portion, both by sea and land, beyond which the excess brings nothing 
but disorder and amazement." 

I have quoted from Raleigh at considerable length — 
a length which may seem to some out of all proportion 
to the general historical scheme of this work. But of 


the three possible " founders of the British Navy," 
King Alfred by legend, King Henry VII by force of 
circumstances, and Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, by his 
reahsation of certain eternal verities of naval warfare, 
the palm goes best to Raleigh, to whose precepts it 
was mainh^ due that England did not succumb to 
Holland in the days of the Dutch wars. Compared to 
the struggle with the Dutch, neither the Spanish wars, 
which preceded them, nor the great French wars which 
followed, were of any like importance as regarded the 
relative risks and dangers. And the interest is the 
greater in that where the United Provinces were, about 
and just after Raleigh's time, Germany stands towards 
the British Navy to-day. 

In 1618 the Duke of Buckingham was appointed 
Lord High Admiral and continued in that position after 
the accession of Charles I. Of the incapacity of the Duke 
much has been written, but wiiatever may be said in 
connection with various unsuccessful oversea enterprises, 
for which he was officially responsible, naval shipbuilding 
under his regime made very considerable progress. 

Things were quite otherwise, however, with the 
'personnel. Abuses of every sort and kind crept in un- 
checked, and the men were the first to feel the pinch. 
The unscrupulous contractor appeared, and with him 
the era of offal foods and all kinds of similar abuses, 
of which many have lasted well into our own time, 
and some exist stiU. The money allotted for the men 
of the fleet became the prey of every human vulture, 
the officers, as a rule, being privy thereunto. Besides 
food, clothing also fell into the hands of contractors 
who suj)plicd shoddy at ridiculously liigh prices, with 
the commission to officers stopped out of the men's pay. 


Pay, nominally, rose a good deal, and in 1653 
reached twenty-four shillings a month for the seaman, 
but the figures (approximately equal in purchasing 
value to the pay of to-day) convey nothing. The men 
were half-starved, or worse, on uneatable food, and 
their clothing was such that they went about in rags 
and died like rats in their misery. 

The first naval event in Charles I's reign is mainly 
of interest because of the pecuhar personal circum- 
stances that attended it. One King's ship and six 
hired ships were despatched, nominally to assist the 
French against the Genoese. On arriving at Dieppe, 
however, the English officers and men discovered that 
they were really to be used against the revolted French 
Protestants of La Rochelle. This being against their 
taste, they returned to the Downs and reported them- 
selves to the King. They were ordered to sail again 
for La Rochelle. One captain, however, point blank 
refused to do so. The other ships went, but the officers 
and men, with a single exception, having handed their 
ships over to the French, returned to England. 

Little or nothing seems to have been done in the 
way of punishment to the mutineers (possibly on account 
of pubhc opinion). But the incident sheds an interesting 
sidelight on the state of the Navy at the time. It is 
hardly to be conceived that the Army at the same 
period could have acted in similar fashion with equal 

The history of the British Navy of this period 
is the history of a navy lacking in discipline, and its 
officers divided against each other. Such expeditions 
as were undertaken against France and Spain signally 
failed. It is usual to attribute these failures to the 

IMIINKAS I'KTT, 1570 H147. 
From the contcmpornry portrait by William Dohsoii in tin- National I'ortrait Gallery. 


mal-admiiiistration of the Duke of Buckingham, an 
unpopular figure. But whether this is just or not is 
another matter. The entire Navy was rotten to the 
core in its personnel. But Buckingham's share in it 
would seem to have been inabiUty to understand rather 
than direct carelessness. 

Under the Duke's regime the building of efficient 
warships continued to progress. The " ship money," 
which was to cause so much trouble inland later, is 
outside the scope of this work, save in so far as its 
direct naval aspect is concerned. This, of course, was 
the principle that inland places benefited from sea 
defence quite as much as seaside districts. A great 
deal of the money was undoubtedly spent on ship- 
building ; indeed, some of the trouble lay over alleged 
(and seemingly obvious) excessive expenditure on the 
" Dreadnought " of the period, Phineas Pett's Royal 
Sovereign, a ship altogether superior to anything before 
built in England, and the first three-decker ever con- 
structed in this country. She was laid down in 1635 
and launched in 1657. An immense amount of gilding 
and carving about her irritated the economically minded, 
but it is questionable whether the objections were well 

Just about this time elaborate ornamentations of 
warships was the " vogue," and it carried moral effect 
accordingly. What to the uninitiated landsmen merely 
spelt " waste of money on unnecessary display " spelt 
something else to those who went across the seas. 
Even in our own present utilitarian days a fresh coat 
of paint to a warsliip has been found to have a ])olitical 
value ; and fireworks and illuminations (seemingly pure 


waste of money) have played their share in helping to 
preserve the peace. 

John Hampden, according to his lights, was a 
patriot, and according to the purely political questions 
with which he was concerned he may also have been ; 
but on the naval issue of Ship Money he was little more 
or less than the First Little Englander, and hampered by 
just that same inability to see beyond his nose which 
characterised the modern Little Englander who protested 
against " bloated naval expenditure." The intentions 
were excellent — the intelligence circumscribed. 

A contemporary account of the Royal Sovereign is 
as follows : — 

" Her length by the keele is 128 foote or thereabout, within 
some few inches ; her mayne breadth or wideness from side to side, 
48 foote ; her utmost length from the fore-end to the stern, a prova 
ad pupin, 232 foote. Shee is in height, from the bottom of her 
keele to the top of her lanthorne, 76 foote ; she beareth five 
lanthornes, the biggest of which will hold ten persons to stand 
upright, and without shouldering or pressing one on the other. 

" Shee hath three flush deckes and a forecastle, an halfe decke, a 
quarter-decke, and a round house. Her lower tyre hath thirty ports, 
which are to be furnished with demi-cannon and whole cannon, 
throughout being able to beare them ; her middle tyre hath also 
thirty ports for demi-culverin and whole culverin ; her third tj^e 
hath twentie sixe ports for other ordnance ; her forecastle hath 
twelve ports, and her halfe decke hath fourteen ports ; she hath 
thirteene or fourteene ports more within board for murdering-pieces, 
besides a great many loope-holes out of the cabins for musket shot. 
Shee carrieth, moreover, ten pieces of chase ordnance in her right 
forward, and ten right off, according to lande service in the front 
and the reare. Shee carrieth eleven anchores, one of them weighing 
foure thousand foure hundred pounds ; and according to these are 
her cables, mastes, sayles, cordage." 

It remains to add that the ship was extraordinarily 
well built. She fought many a battle and survived some 


fifty years, and then only perished because, when laid up 
for refit in 1696, she was accidently burned. And about 
sixty-three years ago (1852) naval architects still alluded 
to her with respect, nor did their designs differ from her 
very materially. 

Wherever and however Charles I and the Duke of 
Buckingham failed, their shipbuilding pohcy cannot but 
command both respect and admiration. It is the curious 
irony of fate that — excepting King Alfred, and also 
Queen EUzabeth — it is the Sovereigns of England with 
black marks against them who ever did most for the 
Navy or miderstood its importance. And understanding 
what the Navy meant, generally secured these marks at 
the hands of some quite well meaning but intellectually 
circumscribed prototype or successor of John Hampden, 
to whom " meeting the enemy on the water " was an 
entirely indigestible theory, and a waste of money into 
the bargain. There is no question whatever that to them 
the sea appeared a natural rampart and ships upon it 
pure superfluity, save in so far as inconvenience to the 
shore counties might result. Later on, Cromwell, of 
course, acted on a different principle — but Cromwell 
was an Imperialist. Hampden was merely the " Insular 
Spirit " personified. 

In 1639, a naval incident occurred which goes to 
discredit the popular idea of the impotence of the British 
Navy under Charles I, whatever its internal condition. 
Naval operations were in progress between Holland and 
France on the one side, and Spain on the other. The 
British fleet was fitted out under Sir .lohn Pennington 
(that same Pennington who had commanded the squadron 
which refused to attack La Ilochollc) with orders to 
maintain British ncutrahty. 


The Spanish fleet took refuge from the Dutch in 
the Downs, whereupon Pennington informed the rival 
admirals that he should attack whichever of them 
violated the neutrality of an English harbour. The 
Spanish having fired upon the Dutch, the Dutch Admiral 
Van Tromp applied to Pennington for permission to 
attack the Downs. This was given, and the bulk of 
the Spanish fleet destroyed. The incident suggests that 
the English fleet was recognised as a neutral able to 
enforce its orders against all and sundry. 

In connection with this, it is interesting to record 
the existence of a naval medal of the period, bearing 
the motto : " Nee meta mihi quae terminus orhi " — a free 
translation of which would be, " Nothing limits me but 
the size of the World." However short practice may 
have fallen, Charles and his advisers had undoubtedly 
grasped the theory of " Sea Power." 


When the Civil war began in 1642, the regular fleet 
consisted of forty-two ships. It was seized by the 
Parliamentarians and put under the Earl of Warwick, 
who held command for six years. With his fleet he 
very effectually patrolled the Channel, rendering abortive 
all over-sea attempts to assist the King with arms and 

On Warwick being superseded in 1648, the fleet 
mutinied, and seventeen ships sailed for Holland to join 
Prince Charles ; but upon Warwick being reinstated 
the bulk of the fleet returned to its allegiance to the 
Parhamentarians. That the Parliamentarians were fully 
ahve to the importance of naval power is evidenced by 
the fact that they seized every opportunity to lay down 
new ships ; and " Parliament " once in power made it 


very clear indeed that the Sovereignty of the Seas 
would be upheld at all costs. 


Some forty years before, Sir Walter Raleigh, dis- 
cussing the rise of the Dutch United Provinces, remarked : 
" But be their estate what it will, let them not deceive 
themselves in beUeving that they can make themselves 
masters of the sea." He advised the Dutch to remember 
that their inward and outward passages were through 
British seas. There were but two courses open to the 
Dutch : amity with England or destruction of English 
naval power. 

Since both nations had large commercial fleets, 
rivalries were inevitable ; and for some long while 
previous to 1652, both sides were ready enough for a 
quarrel. Minor acts of hostility occurred. The Dutch 
failed to pay the annual tax for fishing in British waters. 
In May, 1652, a Dutch squadron refused to pay respect 
to the English flag. It was fired on accordingly, and 
after some negotiations, war was declared two months 

The war is interesting because it saw an end to 
the old ideas of cross-raiding with ships regarded 
primarily as transports in connection with raids or to 
cover such. In this war fighting on the sea for the 
command of the sea first made a distinct appearance. 
Its birth was necessaril}' obscure and involved, both 
sides having the primary idea of attacking the commerce 
of the enemy and defending their own, rather than 
of attacking the enemy's fleet. The earlier battles 
which took j)lace were brought about by the defence 
of merchant fleets. 


None of the battles of 1652 were conclusive, and 
though marked with extraordinary determination on 
both sides the damage done was, relatively speaking, 
small. The general advantage for the year rested 
slightly with the Dutch, mainly owing to Tromp's 
victory over Blake, who was found in considerably 
inferior force in the Downs. 

In February of the following year Tromp, with a 
fleet of seventy warships and a convoy of 250 merchant 
ships, some of which were armed, met Blake with sixty- 
six sail in the famous Three Day's Battle. 

In the course of this fight the Dutch lost at least 
eight warships, and a number of merchant-men variously 
estimated at from twenty-four to forty. The English 
admitted to the loss of only one ship. At the end 
of the third day, however, Blake drew off, and the 
Dutch admiral got what was left of his convoy into 

Oliver Cromwell being now in full power, naval 
preparations were pressed forward with unexampled 
vigour, and on June 2nd an English fleet of ninety-five 
sail under Monk and Deane met Van Tromp and forced 
him to retreat. Reinforced by Blake with eighteen 
more ships the English fleet renewed the battle, 
ultimately driving Van Tromp into harbour with the 
loss of several ships. 

On the 29th July the Dutch ran the blockade 
and came out. On the 31st a battle began in which 
Van Tromp was killed, and the Dutch with the loss 
of many ships driven into the Texel. 

The English fleet, though it lost few ships, appears 
to have been badly mauled in this final battle, on 
account of which the Dutch claimed a victory. 



In the following month the Dutch fleet again came 
out, and mider De Witt took one convoy to the Sound 
and brought another back ^vithout interference. Just 
afterwards, however, their fleet was so severel}'^ injured 
by a tremendous three days' gale that further naval 
operations were out of the question. Overtures for 
peace were therefore made, and concluded. 

The tA^pes of English warships in this flrst Dutch 
war are given in Pepy's MisceUany as follows : — 




of Keel. 


Breadth I Depth, 
ft. in. I ft. in. 


Highest No. of 
Men. Guns. 














46 6 

19 4 


34 9 

17 4J 


32 8 

16 4 


31 6 

15 9 


25 4 

12 8 


20 3 















The principal Dutch vessels were conspicuously 
inferior to the best of these English ones, and the war 
may be said to have been considerably decided by ship 
superiority. In the peace that followed — which was 
really very little better than an armed truce — the Dutch 
set themselves to build warships more on English lines. 
And, as we shaU presently see, they evolved from the 
war,* future strategies based on its lessons. 

* Admiral Colomb {Naval Warfare) traced tlio Dutch defeat — or perhaps 
one should write, " lack of otlvantage " — mainly to tht! fact that thi< Dutch 
had a larger mercantile marine to protect, and merely mentions incitlentally 
the constant complaints of Van Trf)mp and others to tlio inferiority of Dutch 
warshijjs compared to English oii(*h. lint since ho many of the Dutch 
nifrrchaiitrFien carried vtiry fair nrmameiitH, and a.s " tactics ' ])layed n() j)art 
in this war, 1 j)ref(r to acce|)t tlie explanat ion of the Dutch .\dmiral.s, none 
of whom a«sign(!d failures to the more obvious (fxcuse of Iming hampered hy 
convoys. Dutch contem[)orary a<;counts of tiiis and following wars apptuir 
generally to Ik3 nearer tlie tu;tual truth than Kiiglish ones. 


Considering the number of battles and the desperate 
nature of them, it is perhaps curious to note the 
relatively small amount of damage done. With the 
advent of the porthole and the consequent multiplica- 
tion of guns a hundred and fifty years before, it had 
seemed that any naval engagement must result in swift 
mutual destruction. Much the same kind of idea 
obtained as when at the end of 1910 a squadron of 
Dreadnoughts almost instantly obliterated a target five 
miles off. But as in the Armada fights, so in this First 
Dutch War, an immense amount of fighting was done 
with comparatively, and relatively to what might have 
been anticipated, small harm on either side. 

This result is partly to be attributed to the fact that 
defence increased with offence. The warship proper 
was designed to stand hammering, and every increase in 
size, involving increased gun-carrying capacity, involved 
also increased strength of construction. Something may 
also be put down to the very inferior artillery then in 
use, and the great deal of boarding which took place. 

There is some reason to beheve that Cromwell, with 
his complete recognition of the advantages of naval 
power, with his assiduous energy in the creation of a 
strong fleet, recognised — as perhaps both Buckingham 
and Phineas Pett had done before — the advantages of 
the " big ship." Yet under his rule no appreciable 
advance in size took place. Nor, for that matter, did 
it take place any time within a hundred and fifty years 
later on. 

The reason is interesting. It was purely a matter 
of trees. The length of a ship was circumscribed by the 
height of trees ; other dimensions by similar hard facts. 
The beam was dependent on the ship's length ; while 


the draught was governed by the harbours and docking 
facihties. It is doubtful whether any man ever sought 
to solve the problem of an invincible navy ^vith more 
energy than Oliver Cromwell ; yet under his rule nothing 
in the way of improvement was evolved at all compar- 
able with the step taken with the Royal Sovereign under 
the weaker Charles Stuart — Buckingham regime. The 
limitations of the tree proved the limitations of the ship. 

When Cromwell died, his record was left in numbers. 
The Navy at his death consisted of 157 ships. His 
architectural improvements were but a new form of 

Ohver Cromwell had not been long dead when the 
Navy — then under Monk — decided to restore the 
Monarchy. It sailed to Holland, embarked Charles II 
and James, Duke of York, and established Charles on 
the throne without opposition. Monk is popularly 
regarded as a political time-server. But in his change 
of sides he made one very important stipulation : that 
Charles was to pledge himself to the upkeep of the fleet. 
The fleet accomphshed the Restoration. The bulk of 
evidence is that it did so with little regard for any issue 
other than the naval one. 


The second Dutch War broke out in 1665. As usual 
a state of unofficial war had preceded it. Both sides, 
having thought over the first war, had come to the 
conclusion that protecting their own merchant ships and 
attacking those of the enemy at one and the same time 
was an impossible proposition. 

Both ofTicially ordered their merchant ships to keep 
inside harbour ; but in both nations there were traders 

* Charnock, ex Fixichuin. 


who took their own risks at sea and found warships 
handy to protect them. None the less, this war is of 
much importance as the first in which the command of 
the sea, fleet against fleet, received general recognition. 

The battles themselves of this war are of little 
interest. They were marked by that same equality of 
courage and determination which was an outstanding 
feature of the First War. SHght early EngHsh successes 
led to little but attacks on merchant shipping ; then the 
Great Plague paralysed English efforts. The Dutch 
got to the mouth of the Thames, but a sudden sickness 
among their crews scared them off after a sixteen days' 

Following this the French took side with the Dutch ; 
but inconclusive fighting still resulted, till the Dutch, 
imagining that they had done better than they really 
had, found themselves engaged in the battle of the 
North Foreland. 

Defeated in this they retired to Ostend, and the 
English scored on their trade by landing operations and 
harbour attacks, the result of which Admiral Colomb 
has estimated as proportionately equivalent to sixty-six 
million pounds' worth of damage at the present day ! 
But it was conceded on the English side {vide Pepys) 
that it was mainly a matter of luck that this immense 
blow was struck. 

Shortly after this event, the Insular spirit asserted 
itself with what in these days is known as " Economy 
and Efficiency." The Duke of York (afterwards 
James II) opposed it, but it was generally carried that 
the Dutch were defeated, and that a few economical 
fortifications would save the country against any further 
Dutch danger. No one having knowledge of the Dutch 


agreed. Indeed, the situation was precisely the same 
as when a few 3'^ears ago the British Government cut 
do^\^l the Naval Programme. Charles II, peace talk 
being in the air, cut down expenses probably for his own 
ends ; British Governments of the 1906-1907 era cut 
doAvn with a view to expending the saving on " social 
reforms." But the practical results were identical. The 
Dutch in their era did what the Germans did in our 
o^^^l — met the decrease b}' an increase. They omitted 
to consider the ethics involved ; they looked merely after 
their own ends. The result was a great Dutch attack 
on the Thames, which, though not so serious as the 
similar previous English attack on them, produced an 
enormous amount of mischief. 

That the Dutch did not bombard London itself 
was purely a matter of contrary winds and luck. They 
did destroy numerous new warships on the river, 
and Sheerness fell entirely into their hands. " Dutch 
guns were heard in London " — to quote the popular 
histories. Actually luck favoured the English, and 
diplomacy secured a peace which the reduced fleet could 
never have achieved. The pen, for the moment, proved 
mightier than the sword. England obtained thereby a 
peace favourable to her, while the Dutch secured a 
breathing space to enable them to prepare for the Third 
Dutch War, which, had the Second been carried to its 
end against them, would never have occurred. 


This War also began in the usual way — irregular 
attacks on commerce, without any declaration of war, and 
in March, 1672, an Enghsh Squadron wrecked havoc on 
the Dutch Indiamen. As in the Second War, the Dutch 
after this prohibited their merchant ships from proceeding 


to sea. No such prohibition took effect in England, 
where the merchant navy rapidly increased. 

In the Second War the French were the allies of the 
Dutch. In the Third, they joined in with the English. 
In both cases their underlying political motive appears 
to have been to egg Great Britain and the Dutch on to 
mutual destruction. The assistance actually obtained by 
the Dutch from the French in the Second War was a 
minus quantity, and though in the Third, French ships 
actually joined the English fleet, the advantage there- 
from ended there. 

The aUied fleet, under the command of the Duke of 
York, consisted of sixty-five English and thirty-six French 
warships, twenty-two fire ships, and a number of smaU 
craft. This fleet lay at Sole Bay (South wold on the 
Suffolk coast). Here they were surprised by De Ruyter 
with ninety-one men of war, forty-four fire ships, and a 
number of small craft. 

The Royal James, flagship of the Earl of Sandwich, 
who commanded one of the two divisions of the EngHsh 
Fleet, was attacked and destroyed by fire-ships, and the 
Earl was drowned in attempting to escape. The French 
Squadron under D'Estrees fell back and took little 
part in the fight. None the less, however, victory rested 
with the English, and the Dutch retreated to their own 
coasts, and were blockaded in the Texel. On shore the 
Dutch were badly pressed by the French armies, their 
naval energies being restricted accordingly. 

With the approach of winter, the Allied fleet was 
broken up and returned to its harbours. In the early 
part of the following year, the Dutch conceived the 
project of blocking the English fleet in the Thames, and 
prepared eight ships full of stones with that object in 


view. This appears to have been the first instance of a 
device similar to that more recently unsuccessfully 
undertaken by the Americans, at Santiago de Cuba, in 
the Spanish-American War, and by the Japanese, at 
Port Arthur, in the Russo-Japanese War. The Dutch 
attack was never actually made ; presumably circum- 
stances did not admit of it. In the view of Admiral 
Colomb, it was frustrated by the English fleet putting to 
sea at an earlier date than had been expected. 

The Allied fleet formed a junction off Rye, in 
May. It consisted altogether of eighty-four men-of-war, 
twenty-six fire-ships and auxiliaries. The English 
divisions were commanded by Prince Rupert and 
Spragge. The third division was under D'Estrees as 
before, but in order to avoid a repetition of what had 
happened at Sole Bay, the French ships were distributed 
in all three divisions of the fleet, instead of in a single 
division as they previously had been. 

Having embarked a number of troops, the Alhes 
sailed for Zealand, and found the Dutch fleet concen- 
trating at the mouth of the Scheldt. It consisted of 
about seventy men-of-war, under De Ruyter, Tromp and 
Bankert. For some days, o^ving to fog and bad weather, 
no fighting was possible ; but on the 28th of May, the 
Dutch weighed anchor and a battle of the usual sort 
took place, both sides claiming victory. The loss of 
life in the Allied fleet, crowded as it was with troops, 
was very heavy, and no attempt was made to follow 
up the Dutch, who had retired inside the mouth of the 

On the 4th of June, the Dutch fleet again came out. 
The English retired before it. An entirely inconclusive 



action eventually resulted, after which each fleet returned 
to harbour. 

Having embarked a number of fresh troops at 
Sheerness, the Allies again put to sea and appeared on 
the Dutch coast. No landing was, however, attempted ; 
and on the 10th of August the final battle took place. 
The French fleet on this occasion was allowed to act by 
itself, and, as before, drew off and left the Enghsh to 
shift for themselves. Spragge, having had two flagships 
disabled, was drowned in moving to a third, and victory, 
such as it was, went to the Dutch. No further battles 
took place, and in 1664 peace was concluded. 

The net result of these three wars was in favour of 
the English, but mainly on the trade issue. 

At the beginning of the First, the Dutch had by far 
the larger merchant shipping. At the end of the Third, 
the proportion was reversed. 

Although tactics, as we understand them, cannot be 
said to have been employed, certain definite war lessons 
were undoubtedly learned. It came to be thoroughly 
believed that the principal use of a fleet was to attack 
the fleet of the enemy ; and on that account these wars 
are an important feature of English naval history. 

Following the conclusion of peace, the English 
Navy was entirely neglected, and the condition of the 
ships became so bad that in 1679 a Commission was 
appointed and thirty new ships were laid down. But 
the majority of these ships, having been launched, were 
allowed to decay ; Charles II' s early interest in the 
fleet having become a dead letter in his later years. 

When James II came to the throne in 1685, he 
appointed another Special Commission, and the repair of 
the Navy was systematically undertaken. The personnel^ 


however, was neglected. It remained in a very dis- 
satisfied state, and tacitly agreed to his deposition. 

At the abdication of James II, in December, 1688, 
the Navy consisted of 173 ships, manned by 42,003 men, 
and carrpng 6,930 gmis. Of these ships, nine were first- 
rate, 11 second, 39 third, 41 fourth, 3 fifth, and 6 sixth. 
There were 26 fire-ships and 39 small craft. The best of 
the first-rates in those days was the Britannia. She was 
of 1,739 tons, carried 100 guns and a crew of 780 men. 
Her length was 146 feet, her beam 47 feet 4 inches, and 
her draught 20 feet. The second-rate ships were 90 gun- 
vessels, third-rate 70 guns, and fourth-rate 54. 

During James II's reign, bomb vessels were first 
introduced and regular establishments of stores were 
instituted. It is somewhat difficult to assess how far 
naval progress was actually indebted to this, the first 
King of England who was a naval officer, and how far 
to the efforts of a determined few who realised the 
absolute importance of naval power. Probably of 
James I, as of all the Stuarts,* it may be said that 
they reahsed the principle, but required pressing to act 
upon it. To thus acting may be traced the unpopularity 
of at least some of the Stuarts — there are practically no 
signs that the nation generally understood the importance 
of a powerful Navy. All the indications are in a contrary 

• Charlos II alwayH had an eyo for and interest in iraprovemonts in 
detail, and himself invi-nted now forms of fiull, which, however, iVnX not como 
up to his expectations. Both ho and James wore devoted to yacliting 
and steered their own boats. 

A singular defect of all the Stuarts in naval matters was their inability to 
appreciate the importance of the hiunan a.s well as the material element. In 
the Cromwell rc^giine, all the old abuses in conner-tion with food, clothing and 
delaye<i pay, wore done away with ; to re-apjiear, however, almost as l)jul as 
ever soon afU^r the Hest<jration. 



THE accession of William of Orange and the French 
support of James soon brought about a war. 
Early in 1689 James invaded Ireland with French 
ships and men. He did sufficiently well there for a 
considerable English army to be employed against him, 
and in the summer of 1690, William himself went over 
to take command, leaving Queen Mary as Regent with 
httle save the militia as military defence and a more or 
less unprepared fleet. 

A Jacobite rising in England was planned. In 
conjunction with it the French proposed to hold the 
Channel in superior force to cover the landing of troops 
in England, and then, by a blockade in the Irish Channel, 
prevent the return of King William and his army. The 
attitude of the English fleet was uncertain — a strong 
Jacobite element being in it — and the scheme was 
generally a very promising one for the French. 

A personal appeal from Queen Mary is said to have 
secured the allegiance of the English fleet : but in 
everything else the subsequent French failure was due 
only to luck and the wisdom of the British Admiral, 
Lord Torrington. 

It was more or less realised that the French would 
concentrate at Brest. Squadrons were sent out to 


interfere with this, but convoys and the Hke bulked 
largely in their orders. There is not the remotest 
indication that the Home Government appreciated the 
danger, which ended in Torrington finding himself 
opposed by a greatly superior French fleet, which he was 
ordered to fight at all costs. 

Therefrom ensued the battle of Beachy Head, a 
defeat and a " strategical retirement to the rear " for 
which Torrington was subsequently court-martialled and 
acquitted. He alone appears to have realised that his 
defeat would have meant the success of the French plans, 
while so long as he could avoid action the threat of his 
existence must interfere with invasion. 

The French movements throughout were somewhat 
obscure. On the 25th June, according to Torrington, 
they might have attacked him but did not do so. When 
the battle took place on the 30th, it was Torrington who 
attacked. In the subsequent retreat, the French pursued 
for four days, but did so in line of battle and without much 
energy. They captured or destroyed five disabled ships, 
but of real following up of the victory there was none. 

The Anglo-Dutch fleet took shelter at the Nore ; but 
the French drew off at Dover, and sailing west attacked 
Teignmouth and then returned to Brest. Their failure 
to follow up and destroy Torrington has never been 
satisfactorily explained. 

The panic which they had created in England bore 
early fruit. Thirty new ships were laid down. Of these 
seventeen were eighty-gun ships of 1000 tons, tliree were 
1050 tons but carried seventy guns only, the remaining 
ten, sixty-gun ships of 900 tons. 

In 1692 anotlicr Jacobite rising was |)lanned, and a 
French army collected to assist it. Taught by the 


experience of Beachy Head the Anglo-Dutch fleet 
concentrated early. It consisted of no less than 
ninety-eight ships of the line,* besides frigates and 
auxiliaries, the whole being under command of RusseU. 
A descent upon St. Malo was the principal objective 

Neither side appears to have had much conception 
of the intentions of the other. De Tourville, with a fleet 
of only fifty ships of the line, is supposed to have sailed 
under the impression that the Dutch had not joined up 
with the English. 

In the fog of early morning on May 19th, he 
blundered into the entire Anglo-Dutch fleet off Cape La 
Hogue, and sustained a crushing defeat. At least twenty- 
one French ships of the line were lost in the battle itself 
or destroyed in the harbours they had escaped into. 

Following upon this victory came a lull in operations. 
It would seem to have been the English idea that the 
French fleet, having been beaten and dispersed, all that 
remained to do was to get ready to defeat the new fleet 
that France was preparing, and so the year 1693 passed 
uneventfully, except that damage was done to trade on 
either side. 

In July, 1694, the Allies made a move, bombarding 
Dieppe and Havre from a squadron of bombs which had 
been specially prepared. In September, Dunkirk received 
attention from a new war device called " smoak-boats "| 
the invention of one Meerlers, which did not inconvenience 
anyone very much. Meerlers also had " machine ships," 

* English. Dutch. 

Ships . . 62 Ships . . 36 

Men . . . . 27,725 Men . . . . 12,950 

Guns . . . . 4,500 Guns . . . . 2,494 

Frigates, etc. 23 Frigates, etc. 14 

t See Crimean War in a later chapter for a revival of this. 


which likewise did no harm. These appear to have been 
an elementary idea on large scale of the modem torpedo — 
improved fire-ships. 

A fleet was generally busy defending trade in the 
Mediterranean, where for the first time it was permanently 
stationed. Nothing in the way of fleet action was 
attempted by the French, and the next few years were 
spent in privateering on their part, and bombardments 
of ports which sheltered privateers on the part of the 

English naval estimates in 1695 amounted to 
£2,382,172, and the House of Lords, in an address to the 
King, advocated an increase of the fleet on the grounds 
that it was essential to the nation that its fleets should 
always be superior to any possible enemy. A French 
invasion was projected in the winter months ; but 
abandoned on the appearance of a fleet under Russell. 

There is no question that in this war the French did 
more mischief with their privateers than with their fleet. 
English trade suffered very heavily ; and there were 
continual complaints about the inability of the fleet to 
suppress the corsairs, a Parliamentary enquiry being 
eventually made into the matter. 

The French privateers — " corsairs " is the more 
correct term — were in substance a species of naval 
mihtia, of a quite different status from English privateers 
saihng under letters of marque. They hailed principally 
from St. Malo ; trading in peace time and preying on 
commerce in time of war. There were special regulations 
under which they were governed. The owner had to 
deposit a sum of about £()()() with the Admiralty as 
security. He had to pay ten per cent, of the profits to 


the Admiralty and five per cent, to the Church. Two- 
thirds of the balance was his profit, the remaining third 
went to the crew. Often enough the privateer was a 
royal ship, let out for the purpose, and in the years 
following the battle of Cape La Hogue, most of the 
French frigates were on this service, with naval officers 
and men on board very often. 

The privateers carried few guns, their object being 
to capture prizes, not to sink them. They sailed mostly 
in small squadrons, so making a considerable number of 
guns, and were rarely particular about using false colours. 
It was therefore comparatively easy for them successfully 
to attack weak convoys : some dealing with the warships 
and others making prizes ; and the inefficiency laid to 
the blame of the English fleet in trade protection at that 
period was, in some measure, at any rate, due to a failure 
to appreciate the enormous difficulties. Duguay-Trouin 
himself records using the English flag to approach an 
English warship, and firing on her under these colours. 

The unhandy warships of those days, faced with 
light enemies, which they could never overhaul, had a 
tremendous task set them. That the Navy of William III 
era successfully defended anything against men like 
Duguay-Trouin and Jean Bart, is of far more moment 
and more to be wondered at than any failures. In this 
particular war the fast lightly-armed corsair reached its 
apotheosis at the hands of veritable experts to a degree 
impossible to-day, or for that matter, ever hereafter, 
unless aircraft prove able to act as " privateers " of the 
future — a role which, to date, has been entirely forgotten 
in aU discussions as to the value of aircraft. 

In 1697, the peace of Ryswick was signed. According 
to Burchett, the net result of the war was the loss of 



fifty English warships and fifty-nine French ones. The 
historians generally indicate that the French were worn 
out \vith the struggle ; but on the whole the English 
seem to have been well out of the war also. 

It was about this time that Peter the Great appeared 
in England, and engaged John Deane, brother of the 
famous naval architect, Sir Anthony, to go back to 
Russia with him to establish a navy. This is the first 
instance of the foundation or reorganisation of a foreign 
navy by this coimtry. The experiment was by no means 
very successful ; the bulk of the English naval officers 
taken over by Peter being men who, for various reasons, 
had been dismissed from the Ro3^al Navy. Some proved 
incompetent, and all of them were quarrelsome. 


The war of the Spanish Succession synchronised 
with the accession of Queen Anne, in 1702. In the 
interval following the peace of Ryswick the French 
fleet had had considerable attention paid to it. The 
principal innovation consisted in increasing the size 
without (as hitherto) increasing the armament in ratio. 
The French three-deckers were now built of 2,000 tons 
instead of 1,500 as formerly. The superior sailing 
qualities, ever a feature of French ships, were still 
further enhanced. 

In England, though shipbuilding had also been 
vigorously pursued, improvements commensurate with 
those of France were not made. English ships of the 
period were, generally speaking, overgunned. 

At the outbreak of the war of the Succession, the 
fleet consisted of seven first-rate, fourteen second-rate, 
forty-five third, sixty-three fourth, thirty-six fifth, 
twenty-nine sixth, eight fire ships, thirteen bombs, and 


ten yachts — a total tonnage of 158,992 ; an increase of 
about a third in thirteen years. The first-rates were 
a new type of ship ; the second-rates consisted of 
the old type first and second rates — the three deckers 
of ninety guns and special service eighty-gun two 
deckers. The third-rates were the staple battle type — 
two deckers of seventy guns on home service and 
mounting sixty-two guns when sent abroad. The 
fourth-rates carried nominally fifty guns and forty-four 
on foreign service. 

One third of the naval power of Europe was 
English ; France and Holland between them made up 
another third, the balance being represented by the rest 
of the Powers.* Though the phrase, " Two Power 
Standard," was then unknown, the fleet, representing as 
it did the result of agitations in Parliament and else- 
where for suitable naval power, was clearly based on a 
similar general idea, and the Two Power Standard theory 
may be dated from the time of William of Orange. 

The general idea of the campaign on the English 
side was combined naval and military attack on Ferrol — 
the fleet, consisting of fifty English and Dutch ships of 
the line and some frigates and transports to the number 
of 110, being under Sir George Rooke. The military 
element amounted to 12,000 troops under the Duke of 
Ormonde. Nothing came of the attempt owing to 
internal dissentions ; and the expedition was on its way 
back when news was received of Chateau-Renault with 
a French-Spanish fleet of twenty-one warships at Vigo. 
A combined attack was delivered and the entire hostile 
fleet was sunk or captured without much loss, and a 
valuable convoy captured also. 

* Fincham. 


In this year there also happened the greatest 
disgrace that ever befell the Royal Navy. Admiral 
Benbow, who had risen from the " Lower Deck," was 
detached Avith six ships of the Une to the West Indies, 
where he met a French squadron of five, under du-Casse. 
Two of his captains refused to engage the enemy 
altogether, and the others, save one, did so but half- 
heartedly. Benbow was mortally wounded and a French 
victory gained. On their return to England two of the 
captains were executed " for cowardice," but timidity 
had actually nothing whatever to do with the business. 
It was purely and entirely an act of personal hostility. 
It is generally put down to Benbow's lowly origin ; 
but officers of the Benbow class were so plentiful, 
and Benbow had so long been in important positions 
afloat,* that the " obvious reason " played but a minor 
part. Benbow's great defect was a lack of that 
" personality " of which in later years Nelson was the 
prime exponent. Coupled with this was the state of 
much of the Navy generally owing to Jacobite intrigues 
with those who were unable to forget their old allegiance 
to the Stuarts. 

In 1703 very special orders were issued as to cutting 
down expenditure on non-essentials in ship construction. 
In this year the ornamental work so conspicuous in ships 
of the Stuart era was reduced almost to extinction. 

The naval events were inconsiderable, A few French 
prizes were made, and it was found from these that 
the French theory of increasing dimensions without 
increasinj^ the armament had reached such a stage that 
fifty-gun French ships were larger than sixty-gun English 

• He waa Master of tho flcot at, nnm^hy Hoiul and hIho iit Ca|)<' Lu Hoguo. 


ones,* but it was not for some years that practical 
attention was directed to the point. 

In 1704 there took place another of the combined 
naval and military operations peculiar to this war. This 
was to Lisbon and in connection with the Austrian 
Archduke Charles. It is mainly of interest because it 
led to the more or less accidental capture of Gibraltar, 
and in that it otherwise had much to do with the 
prevention of a junction of the French Brest and Toulon 
fleets which was destined to loom so largely in future 
history that to this day " junctions " remain a principal 
" idea " for naval manoeuvres. 

Sir George Rooke, who commanded the main fleet, 
had with him forty-eight ships of the line and details ; 
Sir Cloudesley Shovell was in the channel with some 
twenty-two more. 

The Brest fleet sailed for Toulon under the Count 
de Toulouse. They were chased without effect by 
Rooke, till near Toulon, when on the evening of May 
29th, he gave up the pursuit as too risky, and returned 
to Lagos, where ShoveU joined him on June 16th. 

The combined English fleet being now assumed 
superior to the combined French fleet, attacks on Cadiz 
and Barcelona were contemplated, but as insufiicient 
troops were available it was decided to attack Gibraltar 
instead. The motive for doing so does not appear to 
have been anything greater than that the King of 
Portugal and the Archduke Charles were worrying the fleet 
to "do something." Gibraltar was suggested and settled 
on, apparently, as being as suitable as any other place. 

Gibraltar lies at the end of a narrow peninsula. On 
this peninsula, on July 21st, 1,800 marines from the fleet 

* The Pembroke (sixty-four) captiired by the French in 1710, in this war, 
had her armament reduced to fifty gims by them. 


landed under the Prince of Hesse. As they carried only 
eighteen rounds per man, the presumption is obvious 
that either httle opposition was expected or else that 
the attack was merely dehvered to satisfy those who had 
urged that sometliing should be done. The former is 
generally assumed to be the case, but the latter is by 
no means improbable. In any case, the marines met 
\vith little opposition and demanded the surrender of the 
fortress, while some of the Enghsh ships, mider Byng, 
were warped into bombarding positions under a mild 
fire from the forts. This occupied a whole day. 

Early on the 23rd, fire was opened on both sides, 
and the inhabitants of the town fled to a chapel on the 
hill. The bombardment continued till noon, when the 
" cease fire " was ordered, so that results might be 
ascertained. It was found that some of the batteries 
were disabled, and it was then decided to land in the 
boats and capture them. 

On the cessation of fire, the inhabitants, mostly 
women and priests, who had fled out of the town, began 
to come back. Sir Cloudesley Shovell (who was on board 
Byng's flagship) ordered a gun to be fired across these ; 
whereupon they all ran back to the chapel in which they 
had been sheltered. This gun was taken by the fleet 
generally to be a signal to re-open the bombardment. 
Under cover of this firing, the landing party got ashore, 
and had things much their own way till about a hundred 
of them were killed or wounded by the blowing up of 
the Castle. 

At this they began to retreat, but reinforcements 
arriving, they retrieved the j)osition and captured other 
works without difliculty, establishing themselves between 
the town and the chapel where the women had taken 


refuge. Giving this as his reason, the Governor 
capitulated next day. His entire garrison, according to 
Torrington's Memoirs, consisted of but eighty men. 
The Anglo -Dutch force lost three officers and fifty-seven 
men killed, eight officers and 207 men wounded. 

Thus the capture of Gibraltar, " the impregnable." 
At Toulon, a large French fleet was getting ready for 
sea — a fleet quite large enough to have done to the 
English what Teggethofl, in 1866, did to the bombarding 
Italians at Lissa. 

There seems little doubt that Rooke underestimated 
his fleet. On the other hand, as he had look-outs, and 
the wind was not in the enemy's favour, the risks he 
actually ran were triffing compared to those taken by 
Persano. From which many lessons have been deduced 
and morals drawn. 

In actual fact, however, it is greatly to be doubted 
whether either commander thought round the matter at 
all. The " science " of naval warfare is a thing of quite 
modem origin, and the strategies displayed by most 
admirals in the past — if studied with an unbiassed mind 
— are just as likely to be luck as forethought. Analogous 
to this is Ruskin on the artist Turner. Turner painted 
wonderful pictures : Ruskin found wonderful meanings 
in them. These " meanings " were, however, more news 
to Turner than to anyone else ! 

On August 10th, the French fleet, reported as 
sixty-six sail, was sighted thirty miles off by a look-out 
ship. Rooke' s fleet at that time was short of five Dutch 
ships which he had sent away, twelve other ships were 
watering at Tetuan — miles away from him — and all the 
marines of the fleet were on shore at Gibraltar as garrison. 
The light craft were sent into Gibraltar to bring back 


half the marines as quicldy as possible, while the main 
fleet retreated to pick up the Tetuan division, and later 
got its marines on board. 

The French, meanwhile, either ignorant of the state 
of affairs, or else from general incompetence, made no 
attack at the time, and it was not till the 13th that 
battle was joined by the English bearing down on them. 
The resulting engagement was indecisive, and the fleets 
withdrew to repair damages. The French, however, 
declined to renew action, eventually retreated to Toulon, 
and never attempted a fleet action again during the war. 

Rooke's fleet consisted of fifty- three ships of the line. 
The French had fifty-two, of which they lost five. 

FolloA\dng the battle of Malaga, the marines were 
landed again at Gibraltar, together with some gunners 
and forty-eight guns. The fleet then returned to England, 
leaving at Lisbon a dozen ships under Sir John Leake — 
the only ships which, after survey, were considered not 
to be in urgent need of refit at home. This squadron 
was subsequently reinforced by eight ships of the line. 

The French and Spaniards presently invested 
Gibraltar by land and sea. In the first attempt the 
blockading fleet was short of supphes and had to retire to 
Cadiz. Leake arrived, but finding nothing there returned 
to the Tagus. 

The French then sent a fight squadron to assist the 
siege, and the whole of those were surprised and captured 
by I^ake, on October 29th, 1704. There is reason to 
believe that this action saved the fortress, as a grand 
assault was on the tapis. 

I^ake remained at Gibraltar three months, during 
which time stores and some 2,000 troops were brought 
in from England ; then, tlie garrison being now in no 


straits, the English ships withdrew in January, 1705, to 
Lisbon to refit, leaving the land investment to proceed. 
In March, a squadron of fourteen French ships of the 
line appeared off Gibraltar, but owing to a gale only 
five got into the harbour. Here they were presently 
surprised and captured by the English. The remaining 
ships fled to Toulon and the siege was then raised — 
having lasted five months. 

From these operations it is abundantly clear that 
the English had by now reahsed that Gibraltar was 
perfectly safe so long as its sea communications were 
kept open. De Pointis, the French Admiral, realised the 
same thing, and in the whole of the naval operations he 
appears to have been obeying, under protest, orders 
from the French Government, which at no time appears 
to have reahsed the futility of such operations in face 
of a superior Anglo-Dutch fleet. 

Following the abandonment of the siege of Gibraltar, 
the French became very active with their corsairs, 
inflicting heavy losses on English trade. On the ultimate 
inutility of this guerre de course much has been written; 
but perhaps hardly proper attention has been bestowed 
on the other side of the question. The French had 
small stomach for anything of the nature of a fleet action, 
and there is little or no reason to suppose that had they 
concentrated on line operations any success would have 
attended their efforts. Their personnel was generally 
inferior. Their materiel on the other hand was superior, 
and the problem really before them surely was, not 
which method, " grand battle " or guerre de course, was 
and better, but how best to inflict damage with the 
means available. And here the guerre de course held 
obvious promise. 


In the summer of 1705, a combined land and sea 
attack was delivered on Barcelona, the Earl of Peter- 
borough being in supreme command of both forces. The 
toA\Ti surrendered on October 3rd. The history of 
Gibraltar was then repeated. The fleet withdrew, leaving 
Leake with a few ships to watch. The enemy then 
invested the place, which was relieved just in time by 
Leake so heavily reinforced that the French squadron 
made no attempt to fight him. A variety of other towns 
was then captured by combined attacks, also the 
Balearic Islands, except IVIinorca. 

In 1706, combined operations on the north of 
France were arranged for, but ultimately abandoned 
owing to the weather. Ostend was captured in this year ; 
but a combined attack on Toulon, in 1707, signally failed. 

In 1708, the French attempted combined operations 
on Scotland and reached the Firth of Forth with twenty 
sail, but an English squadron under Byng arriving they 
sailed away again at once. The superior mobility of the 
French was evidenced by the fact that Byng's pursuit 
resulted in nothing but the capture of an ex-English 
ship which could not keep up with her French-built 
consorts. The Anglo-Dutch combined operations of 
the \'ear resulted in the capture of Minorca. Minor 
operations took place in the West Indies. 

1709 passed mostly in the relief of places which 
had been acquired and were now besieged. In 1710, the 
French became more active, capturing one or two 
English warships and making a combined attempt 
against Sardinia. This last was frustrated by Sir John 
Norris. An English attempt on Cette in the same year 
proved a failure ; but consf)icuous success attended 
similar operations in Nova Scotia. 



In the following years the principal of such 
operations as took place were on the American coast. 
Of these, the chief was an abortive attack on Quebec, 
mainly remarkable for an extraordinary escape of the 
entire English fleet one night in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 
A military officer, one Captain Goddard, insisted that he 
saw breakers ahead. As no one would credit him he 
finally dragged the Admiral out of bed and up on deck, 
by which time the fleet was close on to the breakers. As 
things were, seven transports were wrecked and nearly a 
thousand soldiers drowned. The warships very narrowly 

This disaster led to the abandonment of the 
expedition. Peace was declared in 1713. The English 
loss in the war was thirty-eight ships, mounting 1,596 
guns ; the French lost fifty-two ships, mounting 3,094 
guns.f A very large number of English ships became 
unserviceable during the war, because, despite the fact 
that many new ships were built and that the bulk of 
the ships lost by the French entered the English service, 
the entire navy diminished by twenty-five vessels. 

Most of the ships were in poor condition, and in the 
early years of George I's reign, large sums had to be 
expended on refits. Foul bilge water was the main cause 
of internal decay, and in 1715 organised steps were 
taken for the ventilation of the bilges. A certain 
increase in size for ships of all classes was also ordered, 
those of 100 guns being increased by 319 tons, and the 
eighty-gun ships by sixty-seven tons. This increase, 
however, by no means brought the tonnage to gun ratio 

* This extraordinary story of a soldier saving the fleet is made all the 
stranger by the fact that Sir Hovenden Walker, the Admiral, was a teetotaller 
and a vegetarian, an almost unheard of thing in those days. 

t Fincham. 


<lown to the French Hmits, nor m ere the improvements 
in underwater form of much serious moment. The 
French maintained a superiority in this respect which 
they held till the present century. To-day, of course, 
the situation is completely reversed, and for any given 
horsepower any British ship is appreciably faster than 
a French one.* 

Some special attention was also devoted to the 
preparation of timber for immediate use in shipbuilding. 
This subject was first drawn attention to in 1694, and 
the net result of the enquiries in 1715 did not really go 
much fiu-ther. It was not till eleven years later that the 
problem was seriously grappled with. 

In 1715, an EngUsh fleet under Norris was in the 
Baltic, acting against Sweden and allied mth the 
Russians and Danes, Peter the Great himself being in 
chief command. Nothing of moment happened. These 
operations extended to 1719, when sides were changed. 

In 1718, Spain, which had recently made some con- 
siderable efforts towards the creation of naval power, 
used her power for an attack on Sicily. Admiral Byng 
arriving with a superior English fleet, attacked and 
destroyed the greater part of the Spanish squadron in 
the Battle of Cape Passaro. No state of war existed. 
The Spaniards had attacked an English ally, and this 
was Byng's only excuse for action. A few months later 
war was formally declared against Sjjain, and early in 
1719 a curious replica of the Armada took ])lace. Forty 
Spanish transports, escorted by merely five warships, 
sailed from Cadiz for the coast of Scotland ; the idea 
being that the 5,000 troops which they carried shoukl 
co-o])erate in a Jacobite rising. Tliis " Armada " was 

* See later referoncea to Sir William Wluto und Sir l'liili|) \Vatt«. 


dispersed by a severe gale off Cape Finisterre, and only 
a small fraction of it reached the coast of Ross, where a 
landing, easily defeated by the military, was made. It 
is noteworthy that no fleet met the expedition, and it 
was not till a month after its dispersal in a gale that 
Norris sailed to look for it. 

The remainder of this particular war, which lasted 
only three years, was devoted to the re-conquest of 
Sicily and the capture of Vigo. Peace was concluded in 
1721. In the course of this war the usual combined 
attack was made upon Gibraltar in 1720 ; but the arrival 
of an Enghsh fleet easily reheved the garrison. 

At and about this time the Russian fleet, hitherto 
allies, became the enemy, and early in 1720 Admiral 
Norris was despatched to assist the Swedes against them. 
He appears to have done very httle save squabble with 
the Swedish admiral as to precedence. In any case the 
Russians did much as they listed against the Swedish 
coast till Sweden had to sue for peace, and Russia 
became the predominant Baltic naval power. Her 
position as such was the more extraordinary in that the 
Russian fleet was technicaUy very incompetent. The 
situation was mainly brought about by the personal 
genius of Peter the Great. His ships were generally the 
speedier, and he issued the strictest orders that no enemy 
was to be engaged unless at least one-third inferior in 
power. In the presence of an enemy the Swedes con- 
sidered nothing,* the English comparatively little. The 
brain of Peter, was, therefore, an easy match for them, 
despite the technical inferiority of his 'personnel. This 
campaign is a most striking illustration of Alexander the 

* Their recklessness was such that Peter had to give orders that no Swedish 
ship was to be boarded unless the superior officers were killed. Swedish 
captains, attacked by superior forces, made a regular practice of allowing 
themselves to be boarded and then blowing up their ships ! 


Great's maxim " that an army of sheep led by a lion is 
better than an army of lions led by a sheep." 

In 1726, an Anglo-Danish naval demonstration 
against Eiissia took place at Kronstadt, but nothing came 
of the incident, which was repeated equally ineffectually in 
the follo^^dng year, when larger preparations were made. 

In 1726, the preservation of ships' timbers came once 
more on the tapis, when the results of some experiments, 
commenced six years before, were inspected. Up to 
about 1720, woods were prepared for use by a system 
known as " charring." This consisted in building a fire 
one side of the plank and keeping the other side wet till 
the required condition was produced. One, Cumberland, 
invented a system known as " stoving." By this, the 
wood was put into wet sand and then subjected to heat 
till the juices were extracted and the wood in suitable 
condition. A ship was planked with both systems, 
side by side, and on these being examined in 1726, it 
was found that while the " stoved " planks were in good 
condition the " charred " ones were already rotten. 

A grateful country vaguely presented Cumberland 
with one tenth of whatever might be the saving which 
his system would produce. Cumberland, however, was 
equally vague, since he could supply no data as to the 
amount of heat or time of subjection, and experiments 
had to be carried out in the Yards in order to ascertain this. 
The authorities were apparently still ascertaining when 
one Boswell, of Deptford Yard, in 1736, hit ui)on using 
steam, and his system became at once general — though 
a few years later it was replaced by boiling the timber. 

When George II came to the thrones tlie country 
was at peace, but this peace was mainly and entirely 
secured by the pohcy of Walpolc, who kept the Navy on 


a war footing. Feeling against Spain ran so liigh on 
account of the action of the Guarda-Costas in searching 
Enghsh ships in the West Indies, that Walpole's hands 
were forced in 1739. In the House of Commons, Captain 
Vernon announced that with six ships he could capture 
Porto Bello. Promoted to Rear Admiral, he essayed the 
task, and accompHshed it, by coming into close range 
and landing under cover of a bombardment. His loss 
was trifling — nineteen killed and wounded, all told. The 
garrison turned out to have been only 300 strong, of 
whom forty surrendered. The rest had either been killed 
or had fled. It is to be observed that no state of war 
existed at the time. 

War with Spain was declared in October, 1739. The 
English fleet in commission consisted of thirty-eight 
ships of the line, and there was a reserve of twenty-four 
ready for immediate service. There were also thirty-six 
minor vessels in commission and eight in reserve. 

An interesting circumstance of this war was the 
whole-world scale on which naval operations were 
planned. In substance the scheme was as follows : — 
Admiral Vernon was to attack the east coast of Darien. 
Captain Cornwall was to round the Horn, attack the 
west coast of Darien and then go to the Philippines, where 
he was to meet Captain Anson, who was to voyage thither 
via the Cape of Good Hope. The scheme was not carried 
out in its entirety, as the Cape of Good Hope expedition 
never sailed, Anson being substituted for Cornwall. 

Vernon, having been reinforced with a number of 
bombs and fire-ships, proceeded, in March, 1740, to 
attack Cartagena, which he bombarded for four days 
without much material result. Then he proceeded to 


Chagres, which, after a two days' bombardment, surrend- 
ered to him. A considerable Spanish squadron being 
reported on its way out, and a French fleet (suspected of 
hostile designs) also sailing, Vernon withdrew to Jamaica, 
where he lay till reinforced by twenty ships under Ogle. 

Ogle performed his voyage without adventure, 
except that six of his ships encountered a French squadron 
and fought it for some little time under the impression 
that a state of war existed. The error being discovered, 
the squadrons parted with mutual apologies.* 

Ogle arrived in January, 1741. After a short refit 
the fleet sailed to look for the French and observe them. 
They presently learned that the French, short of men and 
provisions, had gone back to Europe. Upon receipt of 
this news it was decided to attack Cartagena. 

Vernon had with him twenty-nine ships of the line, 
twenty-two lesser craft and a number of transports, 
carr>4ng 12,000 troops. The seamen and marines of the 
fleet totalled 15,000. For a time some success was met 
with, but divided councils, mutual recrimination between 
Navy and Army, sickness in the troops, all did their 
share, and eventually the attack was abandoned. f 

Attacks on other places led to no happier results, 
and while efforts were thus being frittered away in 
the West Indies, the commerce was suffering badly. 
Petitions from the commercial world to Parliament were 
of almost daily occurrence. Vernon requested to be 
recalled, and eventually was superseded, but his 
successor fared no better than he. 

Meanwhile, we must turn aside for a moment to 
consider the ojicrations of Anson. The following items 

• Colomb. 

t For a very full urul dotailcd account see Chapter XV. of C'olomh'.s 
Navfil Warfare. 


in connection therewith are summarised from Barrow's 
Voyages and Discoveries, pubHshed in 1765. 

On arriving at Madeira, Anson, who had left England 
on the 13th of September, 1740, learned of a Spanish 
squadron, under Pizarro, lying in wait for him. This 
squadron, attempting to round the Horn ahead of Anson, 
encountered a furious gale, and was eventually driven 
back to Buenos Ayres, with only three ships left, and 
these reduced to the utmost extremities. A second 
attempt to round the Horn fared no better, and event- 
ually Pizarro returned to Spain in his own ship, manned 
chiefly by English prisoners and some pressed Indians. 
These latter mutinied, but not being joined by the 
English prisoners, as they had hoped, were defeated. 

Anson left Madeira on November 3rd, 1740, and 
shortly afterwards his crews fell sick, through lack of 
air, the ships being too deep for the lower ports to be 
opened. Anson had several ventilating holes cut. Then 
fever came, carrying oil many. Just before Christmas he 
arrived at St. Catherine's, Brazil, but his hopes of 
recruiting his men's health were abortive. His own 
flagship, the Centurion, lost twenty-eight men dead and 
had ninety-six others on the sick list. 

On January 18th, 1741, Anson sailed for the Horn. 
A gale scattered his squadron, one ship being separated 
for a month ; eventually, however, all rejoined. There 
followed three months' tempests rounding the Horn. 
Scurvy appeared, and the ships got separated again. 
Finally, on June 9th, the Centurion alone reached 
Juan Fernandez, short of water and only about ten 
men fit for duty in a watch. 

A few days later the Tryal appeared at the island. 


her captain, lieutenant and three men being all who were 
available for service. A third ship, the Gloucester, 
appeared on June 2 1st, but so short-handed was she 
that, though assistance was sent her, it took her an 
entire fortnight to make harbour ! On August 16th, the 
victualler ship, Anna Pink, arrived, all her crew in good 
condition, she having put into some harbour en route. 
Of tlie other three ships, two (the Severn and Pearl), 
failed to round the Horn and returned to Brazil ; the 
third, the Wager, was wrecked. 

In September, a sail was sighted. The Centurion 
put to sea and found her to be a Spanish merchant ship. 
From the prisoners it was learned that a Spanish 
squadron from Chili had been on the look out for Anson, 
that a ship had been lying off Juan Fernandez till just 
before his arrival, but that assuming him lost they had 
now all gone back to Valparaiso. 

Thereafter several prizes were taken, one being fitted 
out to replace the Tryal, which was abandoned. The 
Anna Pink had also had to be abandoned as useless. 

Now began the most extraordinary part of the 
enterprise. Treasure ships were captured, thirty-eight 
men landed, held up and captured Payta, a good half of 
these attired in feminine costume, which they found in 
houses wherein they had sought substitutes for tlieir 
rags — only one man drunk in all the sack of the town — 
the terror of prisoners, who, when released, refused to 
accept liberty till they had thanked Anson for his 
courtesy — Anson's insistence on treasure being divided 
equally between those who attacked and tliose who kept 
ship, while giving his own share to the attackers — the 
night chase of a supi)oso(l galleon which turned out to 
be but a fire on shore — the fearful suiTerings of boats' 


crews sent out to look for the treasure ship* — the release 
of prisoners, and the Spanish reply thereto by the 
despatch of luxuries to the EngUsh — the final loss of the 
Gloucester, worn out by keeping the sea — the arrival at 
Guam of the Centurion with only seventy-one men 
capable of " standing at a gun " under even any 
emergencies — these things belong to special histories. 
Here it suffices to give but a general outline, of which 
the first event is that having reached Macao and refitted, 
Anson went into the Pacific again, and, having given his 
men considerable training in marksmanship and gun- 
handling, finally intercepted and captured the Spanish 
treasure ship that he sought. 

On his subsequent return to China with his prize, 
the experiences of " Mr. Anson " (as he is generally called 
throughout the history from which I quote) were mainly 
of a personal nature. Visited by a mandarin who 
showed a liking for wine, Anson had to plead illness and 
delegate his duties of glass for glass to the most robust 
officer he had. He provisioned by weight with ducks 
(found to be filled with stones to make them heavier) 
and pigs filled with water. Ultimately he had to go up 
to Canton with (so far as I can ascertain) the first 
instance of a crew in regular uniform. To quote from 
the entertaining contemporary narrative : — 

" Towards the end of September, the commodore finding that 
he was deceived by those who had contracted to supply him with 
sea provisions ; and that the viceroy had not, according to his. 

* The treasure ship was well armed and did not hesitate to engage him. 
Anson's success was in some considerable measure attriljutable to the fact that 
not having enough men for the broadside firing of the period, he ordered 
independent firing. It was the Spanish custom to lie down as the enemy fired 
a broadside, then jump up and fire back. Anson's independent firing caused 
much unexpected slaughter on them. This rule of " broadsides " compares 
interestingly with the salvo firing of the present day. 


promise, invited him to an interview, found it impossible to surmount 
the difficulty he was imder, without going to Canton and visiting the 
viceroy. He, therefore, prepared for this expedition : the boat's crew 
were clothed, in a uniform dress, resembling that of the water-men of 
the Thames. There were in number eighteen, and a coxswain ; they 
had scarlet jackets, and blue silk waistcoats, the whole trimmed with 
silver buttons, and had also silver badges on their jackets and caps." 

J^eaving Macao, the Centurion reached the Cape of 
Good Hope on the 11th of March, 1744. From here, 
signing on forty Dutchmen, Anson proceeded home. 

So ended the most prodigious oversea combined 
enterprise ever before attempted. Anson was not the 
first to circumnavigate the world, but few had done so 
before him, and on that account the real purpose of 
his expedition has been generally overlooked in the 
circumnavigation feat. 

As ever in British naval history lack was with him ; 
but something more than " luck " must have been in an 
enterprise where Pizarro, sent to intercept him, gave up, 
while Anson fought through the perils of Cape Horn, 
with his sickly crews and crazy ships. 

To resume the general history of the war. In 
October, 1742, the Victory (100) was lost, presumably 
on the Caskets, though her actual fate was never 
ascertained. France had now entered into the war ; her 
fleet consisted of forty-five ships of the line ; the 
corresponding English fleet totalling ninety ships of the 

In 1742, Ogle succeeded Vernon in the West Indies, 
and a series of small bombardments resulted, usually 
without success. 

Formal hostilities with France (delayed as was the 
custom of the time) were declared in 1744, and outlying 


possessions changed hands. Anson, in command of the 

Channel Fleet in 1747, defeated and captured the Brest 

fleet, and some minor actions took place, mostly in 

connection with convoys. The war ended in 1748 ; its 

net naval results being as follows :— 

English. Spanish. French. 
Warships lost or captured . 49 24 56 

Merchant ships captured . . . 3,238 1,249 2,185 

The economy order referred to on a previous page 
was possibly in part responsible for the bad showing 
made by the English as warships in this war. In any 
case the standardisation of classes had disappeared, and 
no two ships were of the same dimensions. Many ships 
were found so weak at sea that they had to be shored 
up between decks,* and of all the complaint was 
continual that they were very " crank " and unable to 
open their lee ports in weather in which foreign ships 
could do so. The seamanship, however, was of a high 
order compared to that of either the French or 
Spaniards ; possibly the very badness of the English 
ships helped to make the seamanship what it was. 

After the wa,r many constructional improvements 
were suggested and some few of them carried into 
practice. Among the prizes of the war was a Spanish 
ship, the Princessa of seventy guns, which attracted 
general admiration. In 1746, a glorified copy of her, the 
Royal George, was laid down."j* At and about this time 
an era of slow ship-building set in ; for example, this 
Royal George was ten years on the stocks. The slow 
building was part and parcel of the naval policy of the 
period, and in no way to be connected with what any 
such tardiness would mean to-day. 

* See earlier reference to the same thing in Raleigh's time. 

t Is the well-known Royal George, which capsized at Spithead, in 1782. 


A ship on the stocks was more easily preserved 
from decay than one in the water. With precisely the 
same idea the authorities at the end of the war dis- 
banded the bulk of the 'personnel. Upon a war appearing 
likely, the press-gang was always available to supplement 
any deficiency in the rank and file not filled by allowing 
jail-birds to volunteer. 

Officering the fleet was a less easy matter. The 
choice lay between retired officers more or less rusty, 
and the best of the " prime seamen," who had been afloat 
in such warships as were retained in commission. The 
Admiralty selected its officers from both indiscriminately. 
There is this much, but no more, warrant for the idea 
that in the old days the sailor from forward could rise 
to the highest ranks, while to-day he cannot do so. 
The fact is correct enough, but the circumstance had 
nothing to do with inducements and encouragements. 
Once on the quarter deck the tarpaulin seaman, if he 
had it in him, might win his way to high rank and fame, 
as did Benbow, Sir John Balchen, Captain Cook, and 
several others. But he obtained his footing on entirely 
utilitarian grounds which passed away when a more 
regular system of personnel came into custom. 

In the year 1753, a Dr. Hales was instrumental in 
one of the greatest improvements ever effected in the 
navy. To him was due the adoption of a system of 
ventilation with wind-mills and air pumps. The 
immediate result was a very great reduction in the 
sickness and death-rate on ship-board, the Earl of 
Halifax placing it on record that for twelve men who 
died in non-ventilated ships, only one succumbed in the 
ventilated vessels. 

Early in 1755, a war with Franco became probable 


on account of hostile preparations made in North 
America. As a matter of precaution a French squadron 
on its way out was attacked and two ships captured. 
Something hke three hundred French merchant ships 
were also taken during the j^ear. War, however, was not 
declared on either side ! 

Early in 1756, news was received of French designs 
on Minorca, a considerable expedition collecting at 
Toulon. After some delay, Bj^ig left England with ten 
ships of the line, picked up three more at Gibraltar, and 
sailed to relieve Minorca, Avhere Fort St. Philip was 
closely invested by 15,000 troops. Supporting these last 
was a French squadron of twelve ships of the line, 
under La Gallisonniere. 

On Byng arriving, La Gallisonniere embarked 450 
men from the attacking force to reinforce his crews, 
and on May 20th ensued the battle of Minorca, which 
resulted in the defeat and retreat of Byng.* Ten days 
later the British force in the island surrendered. 

Byng was subsequently court-martialled and shot at 
Portsmouth for having failed to do his utmost to destroy 
the French fleet. His ships Avere indifferently manned 
and in none too good condition. He encountered a 
better man than himself, and there is no reason to 
suppose that had he resumed action, anything but his 
total defeat would have resulted. At the same time, the 
execution of Byng, ];)our encourager les autres, probably 
bore utilitarian fruit in the years that were to follow. 
The execution has since been condemned as little better 
than a revengeful judicial murder ; but a realisation of 

* Admiral Mahan {Influence of Sea Power upon History, p. 286) shows how 
Byng's dread of anything unconventional in the way of tactics led to the 
action being indecisive. 


the circumstances of the times suggests that other 
motives than punishment of an individual were 

War was formally declared shortly after the fall of 
Minorca. No events of much moment marked the rest 
of the year 1756, but early in the following year, 
Calcutta, wliich had fallen to the natives, was recaptured 
by Clive, assisted by a naval force. 

In 1758, the Navy consisted of 156 of the line and 
164 lesser vessels. The personnel was 60,000. 

The situation at this time was that in North 
America the French colonies were being hotly pressed, 
Louisbourg being invested. The French had a species 
of double plan — to relieve Louisbourg directly, and also 
the usual invasion of England. 

The relief of Louisbourg came to nought ; a Toulon 
squadron which came out being driven back by Osborne, 
while Hawke destroyed the convoys in the Basque Roads. 
Louisbourg finally fell, four ships of the line that were 
lying there being burned, and one other captured, 
together with some smaller craft. 

Nearer home, combined naval and mihtary attacks 
were pressed upon the French coast, Anson ^vrecking 
havoc on 8t. Malo, while Howe destroyed practically 
everything at Cherbourg. 

The invasion of England project remained, however. 
Iti 1759, the French had somewhere about twenty ships 
of the line, under De Conflans, at Brest, twelve at 
Toulon, under De la Clue, five with a fleet of transports 
at Quiberon, five frigates at Dunkirk with transports, 
a division of small craft and flat-bottomed boats at 
Havre, and a squadron of nine ships of the hue with 
auxiharies in the West Indies. 


These were watched or blockaded by superior British 
squadrons in every case — the maintenance of blockades 
being mainly possible owing to the improved ventilation 
of the ships. Provisions were still bad and scurvy 
plentiful, but the blockade maintained was better and 
closer than anything that the French can have antici- 
pated. This war, indeed, saw the birth of scientific 
blockade in place of the somewhat haphazard methods 
which had previously existed. In part, it arose from a 
better perception of naval warfare, the study of history 
and the growth of definite objectives. But since side 
by side with these improvements tactical ideas were 
nearly non-existent and ships in fighting kept a fine of 
the barrack-ground type regardless of all circumstances,* 
improvements in naval architecture may claim at least 
as big a part as the wit of man. Ideas of blockading 
and watching were as old as the Peloponnesian War, 
but means to carry them into effect had hitherto been 
sadly lacking. 

To resume, the French fleets being cornered by 
superior forces, had no option but to wait for lucky 
opportunity to effect the usual attempted junctions. 
This opportunity was long in coming, and meanwhile 
Rodney made an attack on the invading flotilla at Havre, 
bombarded it for fifty-two hours, and utterly destroyed 
the flat-bottomed boats which had been collected. 

In July, 1759, Boscawen, having run short of water 
and provisions, had to withdraw from Toulon to 
Gibraltar, where he began to refit his ships, and De la 
Clue, learning of this, came out of Toulon in August, 

* Time after time, hostile ships, having had enough of it, passed away 
ahead and escaped, because to have pressed them would have '' disorganised 
the line.'"' 


slipping through the straits at midnight, with the Enghsh 
fleet in pursuit shortly afterwards. 

De la Clue had intended to rendezvous at Cadiz, but 
having altered his mind, made the almost inevitable 
failure of getting all his ships to comprehend it.* So it 
came about that daylight found him near Cape St. 
Vincent, with only six sail, and eight of Boscawen's ships 
(which he at first took to be his own stragglers) coming 
up. In the action that followed, three of the French 
ships were captured, two burned and one escaped. 
The stragglers of the French fleet got into Cadiz as 
originall}' directed, and a few months later escaped back 
to Toulon. 

Thurot, ^vith a small squadron, slipped out from 
Dunkirk, in October, merely to intern himself in a 
Swedish harbour. 

Hawke continued his blockade of Brest, being now 
and then driven off by gales, and during one of these 
absences, Bempart, with his nine West Indian ships, got 
into Brest. The Brest fleet was apparently very short- 
handed, or else the West Indian squadron in a very bad 
way ; in any case the crews of the latter were distributed 
among the former, and De Conflans sailed with only 
twenty-one ships on November 14tli. 

The expeditionary force which he proposed to 
convoy lay at Quiberon, which place owing to weather he 
did not make till the 20th. There he sighted and gave 
chase to the blockading English frigates, and in doing so 
met Hawke's fleet of twenty-three shi])s of the line. 

In the battle of Quiberon which foUowed, the French 
lost six ships of the line. Eleven, by throwing their guns 
overboard, escaped into shallow water, the remainder 

* Our own niiviil muiui-uvn-H in rcci-iit yt<iirH huvo h(>(mi iii(irt> than ono 
disaster from tlio cimm^i^ of u ri;iido/,vouH. 



reached safety at Rochefort. Two English ships ran 
aground, otherwise httle damage was sustained.* 

Out of these happenings the French fleet — which, in 
this year alone, lost thirty-one ships of the line — ceased 
to have any importance ; while to the general naval 
activity of the English must be attributed the capture of 
Quebec, by Wolfe. 

In 1760, the British ships of the line had sunk to 
120 in number, though the personnel rose to 73,000. 
Naval operations were mainly confined to the relief of 
Quebec and the consequent capture of the whole of 
Canada, and the suppression of privateering — over a 
hundred French corsairs being captured in 1760 alone. 

The results of privateering have been put at 2,500 
English merchant vessels being captured in the four 
years ending 1760 ; the French merchant-ship loss being 
little more than one-third. In 1761, when French naval 
power had practically ceased to exist, 812 English 
merchant ships were captured. It must, however, be 
borne in mind that every year saw great increases in 
English shipping. Heavy as the numerical losses were, 
they did not exceed ten per cent., and the bulk of vessels 
captured were coasters. 

French mercantile losses were considerably smaller, 
but simply for the reason that France had fewer and 
fewer ships to lose, for her trade was being swept from 
the sea. English trade on the other hand grew and 
multiplied exceedingly. It may even be argued that so 
far from really injuring our trade, the guerre de course in 
this war actually fostered it b}^ the enhanced profits 
which safe arrival entailed, this attracting the speculative. 
But for the speculative the loss of larger vessels would 

* While this battle of Qvxiberon was in progress, people in England were 
burning Hawke in effigy for having allowed the French fleet to escape ! 


have been smaller than it was. These were they, who, 
on a convoy nearing home waters, sailed on ahead, 
chancing attack in the hopes of the greatly increased 
profits to be made by early arrivals. Ships which 
obeA^ed the orders of the escorting warships were very 
rarely captured. 

The following years saw the capture of Pondicherry, 
Dominica, a successful attack on Belle Isle and also a 
general loss of French colonial possessions. To quote 
Mahan, " At the end of seven years the Kingdom of 
Great Britain has become the British Empire." 

In 1762, Spain declared war. She had a fleet 
consisting nominally of eightj^-nine sail, but joined in 
far too late to be of any assistance to France. No 
naval battle of importance took place. 

Peace was signed early in 1763. B}^ it England 
secured Canada from France, and Spain lost Florida. 

During this war the usual complaints about ships' 
bottoms were made, especially from the West Indian 
Station ; and in October, 1761, the Admiralty ordered 
a frigate to be sheathed with thin sheets of copper as an 
experiment. This was at first found extremely successful, 
but after the lapse of a few years it was noted that 
chemical action had set up between the copper and the 
iron bolts at the ships' bottom — most of these bolts 
being rusted away. 

Experiments were, however, continued, since, though 
the life of a copper bottom was but three to four years, 
its general advantages were very great. Ultimately iron 
bolts were abandoned in favour of copper ones. The 
cost of this came to £2,272 for a ship of the first-rate, 
and was only relatively satisfactory. 

Ever since the Treaty of Paris in 1763, friction had 


been growing between the Home Country and the North 
American Colonies. The causes which led to it concern 
the British Navy only in so far as it was used for the 
harsh enforcement of the regulations entailed by the 
Treaty in question — regulations which bore heavily on 
the Colonists. The rest of the story is merely the tale 
of political incapacity at home. 

The American Colonists, in addition to a few fast 
sailing frigates which they handled with unexpected 
aptitude, possessed a so very considerable mercantile 
fleet that it was estimated that 18,000 of their seamen 
had served in the English ships in the late war with 
France. Consequently, the Colonists were in a position 
to fit our privateers, and with these, in the first eight years 
of the war, they captured nearly 1,000 English merchant 
ships. Their own losses were, however, greater, and it is 
probable that despite all the military blunders which 
characterised English conduct of the war, the Colonists 
would eventually have been worn down but for the active 
intervention of France in 1778, and Spain a little later. 

As regards naval operations against the Americans 
themselves, these were mainly in the nature of sea 
transport. Where they were otherwise, they were of an 
inglorious nature, owing to the total inability of the 
Home Government to appreciate the position. The naval 
story of the war is, in the main, the story of frigates 
attempting difficult channels, and going aground in the 
attempt. It is of interest mainly because in 1776 one 
David Bushnell made the first submarine ever actually 
used in war, and attempted to torpedo the English flag- 
ship. Eagle (64). He reached his quarry unsuspected, 
but the difficulties of attaching his " infernal machine " 
were such that he had to rise to the surface for air and 


abandon the enterprise. His subsequent fate was 
undramatic — he and his boat were captured at sea on 
board a merchant ship, which was carrying him else- 
where for further operations. 

France, which had been rendering considerable 
secret assistance to the revolted Colonists, had, ever 
since the Treaty of Paris, been steadily building up her 
Navy, till she had eighty ships of the line and 67,000 
men. The efficiency of the personnel had been increased 
by the enrolment of a special corps of gunners, who 
practiced weekly. Efforts — which, however, were only 
moderately successful — had also been made to break 
down the serious class rivalries between those officers 
who were of the iiohlesse and those who were tarpaulin 
seamen. But the .majority of officers were skilled 
tacticall}', and special orders were issued that to seek 
out and attack the enemy was an objective.* Here, 
again, another weak point existed : d'Orvilliers, who 
commanded the main fleet, also received orders to be 
cautious — orders very similar in tenor to those b\^ which 
his predecessors in previous wars were hampered. 

The fleet of Great Britain, spread over many quarters 
of the world, including slii})s being fitted, consisted of 
about 150 shi])s of the line, besides auxiliaries ; but the 
actual available force of Home water fleet with which 
Keppel sailed just before the opening of the war was 
twenty ships only ! 

Capturing two French frigates and learning from 
them that thirty-two ships were at Brest, KepjX'l got 
reinforcements of ten ships, and on the 27th of .July, 
1778, met d'Orvilliers, also wilii thirty sliips, off Ushant. 
The battle lasted three hours, when th(^ fleets drew 

• ThiH appears to l»o the Bolitary iiiMtanco in Kri>ii( h history in which a uso 
of the Heot on English lines wa8 over contemplated. 


apart without any material result having been achieved. 
The tactical ability lay with the French, and but for 
the inefficiency of the leader of one French division, the 
Due de Chartres (the future " Phillipe Egalite "), would 
have done so still more. Yet, though Keppel had 
obviously done his best, public opinion in England 
had expected a great naval victory, and Keppel was 
the subject of a most violent controversy, which soon 
developed on political lines. 

At and about the time of the battle of Ushant, 
D'Estaing, with twelve ships of the line and five frigates, 
reached the Delaware. The English fleet under Howe, 
which consisted of only nine inferior ships of the line, 
took refuge inside Sandy Hook. D'Estaing came outside 
and remained ten days in July, but then sailed away. 

His failure to operate has been put down to the 
advice of pilots, but more probably, as pointed out by 
Admiral Mahan, he had secret instructions not to assist 
the Colonists too actively. The destruction of Hood's 
fleet would have meant the capture of New York, 
peace between England and America, and a considerable 
force released for operations against France. Most of 
the subsequent movements of the year seem to have 
been coloured by a similar policy. In 1779, the West 
Indian islands of St. Vincent and Grenada fell into 
the hands of the French. Subsequently D'Estaing 
returned to the North American Coast, but no important 
operations took place there. Finally he returned with 
some ships to France, sending the others to the West 

Spain declared war against England in 1780. Her 
fleet then consisted of nearly sixty ships of the line, 
which — like the French — were in a more efficient state 


than in previous wars. Her prime object was the 
recovery of Gibraltar. 

A combined Franco -Spanish fleet of sixty-four ships 
of the Hne appeared in the Channel, causing an immense 
panic in England. The onl}^ available English fleet con- 
sisted of thirty-seven sail of the line, under Sir Charles 
Hardy, and this wandered away to the westward, leaving 
the Channel quite open to the allies, who, however, also 
wandered about without accomplishing anything. As 
usual with allies, there were divided councils, and in 
addition the French fleet, having had to wait long for 
the unwilling Spaniards, was badly incapacitated from 
sickness. Thus, and thus only, is their failure to invade 
to be explained : they had 40,000 men ready to be 
transported over, also a naval force ample to defeat 
any available English fleet, and able to cover landing 
operations as well. 

When the war first began, there was in France an 
English admiral — that same Rodney who had destroyed 
the invading flotilla at Havre in the previous war — who 
by reason of his debts was unable to return to his own 
country. In private life he was a merry old soul of 
sixty or so, and at a dinner one night boasted that if he 
could j)ay his debts and go back to England, he would 
get a command and easily smash the French fleet. 
Hearing this, a French nobleman promptly paid his 
debts for liim, and sarcastically told Rodney to go back 
and prove his words. 

Rodne}^ who had the reputation of being an able 
officer, l)ut nothing more, got home in 1779. In 1780, 
having secured a command for the West Indies, he left 
Portsmouth with twenty sail of the line and a convoy 
for the relief of Gibraltar. Off Finisterre, he captured 


a Spanish convoy carrying provisions to the besiegers. 
Off Cape St. Vincent he fell in with eleven Spanish ships 
and attacked them at night, in a gale, blowing up one, 
and capturing six. Thence he proceeded to Gibraltar, 
relieved it from all immediate danger, Minorca also ; and 
then sailed for the West Indies. Here, on April 17th, 
some three weeks after arrival, he met the French under 
Guichen, and made the first attempt at that " breaking 
the line " associated with his name. The attempt was 
not a success, as his orders were misunderstood by 
several of his own captains and his intentions realised 
and foiled by his opponents.* 

This action was indecisive ; as also were two more 
that followed. 

In this year (1780), Captain Horatio Nelson, then only 
twenty-two yesus old, made his first appearance in the 
Hinchinhrook (28), in an attack on San Juan, Nicaragua. 
He succeeded, after terrible loss of personnel from disease. 

A Spanish squadron then joined the French, but 
an epidemic — that most fruitful of all sources for the 
upsetting of naval plans — overtook it. The Spaniards 
were incapacitated and the French returned home. 
Rodney went to New York, where his operations delayed 
the cause of the Colonists ; then returning to the West 
Indies, operated against the Dutch, who had by now 
joined the French and Spaniards. 

The general position of Great Britain, in 1781 and 
1782, was well nigh desperate. Gibraltar was only held 
by a remarkable combination of luck and resolution. 
To quote Mahan, " England stood everywhere on the 
defensive." She fought with her back to the wall. In the 

* Admiral Mahan (Influence of Sea Power upon History) has quoted at 
length (p. 380) from French authorities to show that only the action of the 
captain of the Destin (74), in hiurying to block the gap, prevented Rodney 
from getting through the line on this occasion. 

RODNEY. 129 

East Indies, Suffren kept the French flag flying: and things 
were generally at a very low ebb, when in 1782 Rodney 
" broke the line " in the victory of the Battle of the Saints. 

On April 9th, the fleets had come into contact 
without much result on either side. On the 12th, De 
Grasse, being then in some disorder, with thirty-four 
ships, encountered the English with thirty-six in good 
order. Rodney and Hood broke the line in two places. 
Admiral Mahan has been at pains to show us that this 
result was much a matter of luck and change of wind, 
and that the victory was by no means followed up as it 
might have been. One French ship was sunk and five 
were taken, including De Grasse himself, whose losses in 
his flagship, the Ville de Paris, were greater than those 
in the entire Enghsh fleet. 

To the nation at this juncture, however, any tiling 
savouring of \dctory was a thing to be made the utmost 
of, and Rodney has probably received more than his 
meed of merit over what was mainly a matter of luck. 

Two features of special interest in connection with 
this battle are that, though up to it, British ships had 
recently, owing to coppering, proved better sailers than 
the French ; in the sequel to this fight, the French proved 
equal to sail away. The rapid deterioration of coppering, 
already mentioned, may account for some of this, but in 
this battle there is also reason to believe that the French 
fleet instituted firing at the rigging. Contemporary 
statements exist as to the Frencii having made a 
wonderful number of holes in English hulls witliout much 
material result, l>iil these may be dismissed as pardon- 
able temporary bluster. More germane is the fact tiiat 
the English sliips were supplied with carronades* — 

* I draw thiH fnini Muhaii (InJlitr.Tire of Sea Power uf^on HiMtor;/) (pup' 4W4). 
Fincliani Hpfcififiilly rricntionH (p. 107) thr introduction of cHrroiuRlcs tni 
yoanj later. 


harmless at long range and deadly at short — for which 
reason the French tried to keep them at a distance, so 
that altogether superior efficiency with men and weapons 
would seem to have played a greater part than any 
tactical genius on the part of Rodney, in whom a dogged 
insistence to get at the enemy was ever the main 
characteristic rather than " thinking things out." The 
Mahan estimate of him sorts better with known facts 
than the estimate of his accomplishment at the time. 

As regards Rodney himself, it is interesting to record 
that Nav}^ and Party were so synonymous at the time 
that he, being a strong Tory, had already been superseded 
by political influence when he won the battle that 
broke French power in the West Indies. It lies to the 
credit of the Whigs that both he and Hood, his second 
in command, received peerages ; but the most difficult 
thing of all to understand to-day is, that in a life and 
death struggle such as this war was, the personal political 
element should have managed to find expression. 

In 1782, Gibraltar, which had been twice relieved, 
was once more in grievous straits. The French had 
evolved floating batteries for the attack, similar in 
principle to those which, some seventy years later, were 
to figure so prominently in the Crimea. 

Being merely armoured with heavy wood planks, 
however, they were easily set on fire with red-hot shot, 
and the great bombardment failed long before the 
reheving force, under Howe, arrived. The garrison, 
however, were in great straits for supplies, and their real 
relief was Howe's fleet, which the combined Franco- 
Spanish squadrons did not dare to attack. 

The Treaty of Versailles, in 1783, followed soon 
afterv/ards. By it the United States of America were 



recognised, ^Minorca was given up, but most of the 
captured West Indian islands restored to Great Britain. 
Just before the close of the war, the relative naval 
strengths were assessed as follows : — * 

Description of Great 
Vessels. j Britain. 




Ships of the L 

ine . . 1 105 




Fifty -gun Ship 

s ..1 13 



Large Frigates 

..| 63 





Small ditto 




Sloops . . 

..: 217 







Armed Ships 


Bombs . . 












i . . 555 




In this list it is interesting to note the British 
inabilit}^ to maintain even a Two-Power Standard in 
ships of the line, whereas in sloops and such like, an 
enormous preponderance prevailed. For the suppression 
of jirivateering on the coastal trade, these small craft 
proved very useful. Also worthy of note is the decline 
of the fire-ship as a naval arm.f 

The figures as a whole suggest with much clarity 
that had the Allies been able to act together, Great 
Britain would never have emerged from the war so well 
as she did. 

The ten years' peace that followed was little more 

• Fiiicharn er Campl>oll. 

t 'V\i<- fin-Hhip ffTow to bo Iohh and It-ss of a menace owing to th<' improved 
handintmx of warHhips. 


than a breathing space. War was constantly appre- 
hended, and known improvement in French ships were 
such that they had to be carefully watched. The frigates 
built in England were made longer than before, with a 
view to keeping pace with French sailing quahties. 

Considerable interest was taken in how far the 
country was self-supporting in the matter of timber for 
shipbuilding, a certain reliance on foreign supplies having 
previously existed. At, and about 1775, the cost of 
shipbuilding for the East India Company had exactly 
doubled in a few years. The home supply trouble arose, 
partly from the increased size of shipping, partly from 
the tendency of owners to fell trees as early as possible. 
Out of which special oak plantations were set up in the 
New Forest and elsewhere, though oak happened to cease 
to be of value for shipbuilding long before they had 
grown large enough for the larger timbers. 

The question of repairs also came in for consideration, 
an average of twenty-five years' repair totalling the cost 
of a new ship. At and about this time also, the building 
of ships by contract in peace time was first recommended 
on the grounds that thus the private yards would be 
better available in case of war. 

Regular stores for ships in the dockyards were also 
instituted, with a view to the speedy equipment of ships 
in reserve.* It was mainly owing to this last provision, 
introduced by Lord Barham in 1783, that, though when 
the war of the French Revolution broke out in 1793 but 
twelve ships of the line and thirty lesser vessels were in 
commission, a few months later seventy-one ships of the 
hne and 104 smaller craft were in service. The number 
of men voted in 1793 was 45,000. 

* Here again see Raleigh on Elizabethan Customs. 



THE first incident of the war was connected with 
Toulon, which was partly Royahst and partly 
Republican. The story in full is to be found most 
dramatically rendered in Ships and Men, by David 
Hannay. Here it suffices to say that the Royalists 
and Moderates having coalesced at the eleventh hour, 
surrendered the town to Admiral Hood ; that the British 
Government repudiated Hood's arrangements, and that 
eventually in December, 1793, he was compelled to 
evacuate the place after doing such damage as he could 
and bringing away with him a few ships of the French 
navy.* The incident little concerns our naval history^ 
the Navy being but a pawn in the political game of the 
moment. Indeed, it is mostly of some naval interest 
only because two figures, destined to bulk largely in 
future history, loomed up in it — Captain Horatio Nelson, 
of the Agamemnon, who laughed when the Spanish fleet 
excused its inaction by saying that it had been six weeks 
at sea and was disabled accordingly ; and Napoleon, who, 
as much as anyone, served to hurry the English out. 

Early in \~\)\ tlie British fleet had ninety-five ships 
of the line in commission, })('si(lcs 194 lesser vessels. Tlic 
jjerfionnel amounted to 85,000. 

• Hy tho liuriiiiij^ of th<i bulk f>f tlio Hliips in Toulon, tin' Kn-iicli 'I'oulon 
flfft waH rf;riclfn!d riori-oxiHt<'iit ; l»ut, tho nUiU) of afTairH witli lliiit (l(>(<t wow 
Huch thut itM fighting vuluu hud lung l)i*oii a cypher. 


The centre of interest was the French Brest fleet. 
Under Villaret-Joyeuse, a captain of the old Navy, made 
Admiral by the Terrorists, whose cause he had espoused, 
this fleet was b}^ no means inefficient, like the undis- 
ciplined Toulon fleet had been. It carried on board 
the flagship Jean Bon St. Andre, the deputy of the State, 
who, whatever his faults, realised the meaning of 
" efficiency." The bulk of the crew were men who had 
done well in America. Howe, on the other hand, 
commanded a somewhat raw fleet, hastily brought up 
to strength and still by no means " shaken down." 

Howe's orders were threefold — to convoy a British 
merchant fleet ; to destroy the French fleet ; and to 
intercept a convoy of French grain coming from America. 

From the 5th to the 28th May, Howe was keeping 
an eye on Brest and looking for the French convoy, the 
interception of which was more important than anything 
else, as France was dependent on these grain ships for 
the means to live. 

On the 28th, the French fleet was sighted a long 
way out in the Atlantic. Villaret-Joyeuse, who was out 
to protect the grain convoy at all costs, drew still 
further out to sea, Howe following in pursuit.* Towards 
evening, the last French ship Eevolutionnaire (100), was 
come up with and engaged by six British (seventy-four's), 
of which one, the Audacious ^ was badly crippled. The 
Revolutionnaire herself was dismasted, but was towed 
away by a frigate in the night. 

This particular incident is one of the most 
prominent examples of the power of the " monster " ship 

* In order to bring the enemy to action, Howe formed a detached squadron 
of his faster ships. Hannay {Ships and Men) extols him because, in this and 
certain other movements in the battle, he reverted to the tactics of Monk and 
other Commonwealth admirals, and threw aside the conventional practice of 
his own day. 


as compared with the " moderate dimension " ship* of 
the period. The six did not attack her simnUaneously, 
and some were never closely engaged. She was magni- 
ficently fought also ; but even when these elements are 
subtracted, the fact of the extraordinary resisting power 
exhibited remains. As only the Audacious, which 
attacked last, did much harm to the Frenchman, the 
explanation in this particular case probably lies in the 
stouter scantlings required for a ship of 110 guns, 
compared to smaller ships. 

On the following day the action was renewed. 
Villaret-Joyeuse allowed his tail ships to drop into range 
of the leading British vessels with a view to crippling 
them. Howe cut the Une, but being somewhat out- 
manoeuvred by the French admiral, obtained no special 
advantage therefrom. Some of the French ships were, 
however, disabled, and had to be towed in the general 
action that was to follow later. 

Two days' fog now interrupted operations, but on 
Sunday, June 1st, battle was joined. The opposing fleets 
then consisted as follows : — 



3 of 100 guns. 

1 of 120 guns, 

4 „ 98 „ 

2 „ 100 .. 

2 „ 80 „ 

4 „ 80 „ 

IG „ 74 „ 

19 „ 74 „ 



This gives 2,036 British to 2,066 French guns, but 
as, at least, one J^'rcnchman was considerably (Usabled, 
there was probably a slight British superiority. 

• For two opponito viow« of this partioulnr incident, hoo Admiral Miiliiurs 
influence oj .SVi Power on the French Revolution, mid (^hajitor X. of«y, 


Howe, more or less, arranged his heavy ships to 
correspond with the heavy ships of the enemy, and 
having hove-to half-an-hour for breakfast, flung the old 
fighting instructions* to the winds and bore right down 
into the enemy. In the melee that ensued, some of the 
English failed to close, and seven of the French drifted 
to leeward out of action. 

Of the French fleet, two eighty-gun and four 
seventy-four's were badly mauled and eventually struck, 
while a seventh French ship, the Vengeur (seventy- 
four) was sunk.'f Four were badly disabled, but drifted 
to leeward out of the fight. On the British side a 
number of ships were badly damaged. 

The fleets, having drawn apart, Villaret-Joyeuse 
succeeded in getting a portion of his fleet into some sort 
of order again, and threatened the disabled English ships. 
Howe protected these, but did not renew action ; and 
the French, with the disabled ships in tow, made off. 

Such was the battle of " the glorious First of June." 
Howe has been greatly blamed since then for not having 
followed up his victory, but there are not wanting indica- 
tions that the caution of Curtis, his captain of the fleet,who 
pleaded with Howe not to re-engage lest the advantage 
gained should be lost, was justified. Villaret-Joyeuse, the 
captain, hastily placed in command of a large fleet, was 
one of the most, if not the most, capable admirals France 
ever had against us. How badly all the French ships had 
suffered we now know, but the means of telling it were 
absent then. The all-important question of intercepting 
the grain convoy was also possibly present in Howe's mind 

* The preservation of an orderly line throughout the battle. 

■f The story of this ship going down firing, her crew crying Vive la 
Bepublique, is pure fiction. She surrendered after a very gallant fight, and 
sank with an English flag flying. 


Be that as it may, the convoy was not intercepted. 
It reached France in safety, and all question of starving 
the Revolution into surrender was at an end. On that 
account the battle was reckoned as a victory by the 
French as well as in England.* 

Other naval events of this 3^ear(1794)were the capture 
of Corsica, by Hood ; and in the West Indies, the capture 
of ]\Iartinique and St. Lucia. Guadaloupe was also taken, 
but quickl}^ re-captured. Among the prizes of the year 
was the French forty-gun frigate Ponione, which proved 
infinitely faster than anything in the English fleet. This led 
to much discussion in the House of Commons. A consider- 
able party denied that any such superiority existed; others 
alleged that even if so, British ships were better and more 
strongly built. Others again attributed the circumstance 
to the heavy premiums awarded by the French Govern- 
ment to constructors who produced swift sailing ships. 

Nothing of much moment came out of the discussion. 
Orders were issued that ships were to be built a httle 
longer in future, and with the lower deck ports less near 
the water than heretofore, but the general tendency to 
over-gun ships in relation to their size still remained. 

For the year 1795, the personnel of the fleet was 
increased to 100,000, and provision was made for a very 
considerable increase of small craft. The Dutch declared 
war in January, but the year was not marked by any 
operations of much moment so far as they were concerned. 

The principal theatres of naval operations were in 
the Mediterranean and the Channel. This year is marked 
by a curious indecisivcness, which had much to do with 

• S<X!ing that, had Howo HUiik tho grivin ronvoy and thon hcon totally 
drswtroyfd himiW'lf, tho Il<'VoIvitioii would Mtill havn oorn<( to notliiii^^ from 
Htar\Btion, tfuH French view of tlio inatU^r is iiitclligiblu enough and iU«o vory 



the formation of Nelson's (who was serving in the Medi- 
terranean as captain of the Agamemnon, sixty-four), 
subsequent character as an admiral. 

The British fleet consisted of fifteen ships of the line, 
under Hotham. The French had got together fifteen sail 
at Toulon. These made for Corsica, in March, and on the 
way captured one of Hotham' s ships, the Berwick. With 
the remainder, Hotham put to sea, and on the 12th, off 
Genoa, he was sighted by the French. His fleet was in con- 
siderable disorder, and in the view of Professor Laughton, 
the incapacity of the French alone averted a disaster. In 
the desultory operations of the next two days, two prizes 
were taken and two Enghsh ships crippled. Nelson, who 
was mainly responsible for the prizes, urged Hotham to 
pursue and destroy the enemy, but the admiral refused.* 

In July, Nelson, who was on detached service, was 
met and chased back to Genoa by the whole French 
fleet, which, however, drew off when Hotham' s fleet was 
sighted. Hotham, with a greatly superior fleet, came 
out, and eventually found the enemy off Hyeres. Chase 
was ordered and one French ship overhauled and 
captured ; then, on the grounds that the shore was 
too near, Hotham hauled off. 

These operations (or lack of them) on the part of 
Hotham, are important beyond most. In the view of 
Professor Laughton,f Hotham' s indecision was mainly 
responsible for the rise and grandeur of Napoleon's 
career. Vigorous action on his part would have written 

* It was in connection with this engagement that Nelson wrote, " Had I 
commanded our fleet on the 14th, either the whole of the French fleet would 
have graced my triumph, or I should have been in a confounded scrape." 
Also, commenting on Hotham's, '" We must be contented, we have done very 
well " — " Now, had we taken ten sail and allowed the eleventh to escape, 
when it had been possible to have got at her, I could never have called it well 

t Nelson, by J. K. Laughton. 


differently the history of the world. As hke as not, in 
addition to no Napoleon, there would also have been no 
Nelson, to go down as the leading figure in British naval 
history. The survival of the French fleet rendered possible 
that invasion of Italy which "made" Napoleon, and those 
sea battles wliich made Nelson our most famous admiral. 
Villaret-Joyeuse (who had commanded the French 
fleet in the battle of the First of June) displayed con- 
siderable activity in 1795, capturing a frigate and a 
good many merchant ships. The weather, however, was 
against him, and he lost five ships of the line wrecked. 
He, notwithstanding, kept the sea with twelve ships of 
the fine, and with these met CornwaUis with five, off 
Brest, on June I6th. CornwaUis retired, but was over- 
hauled the next day, and his tail ship the 3Iars, 
(seventy-four) badly damaged, the French, as usual, 
firing at the rigging. CornwaUis, in the Royal Sovereign, 
(100) fell back to support the Mars, but was well on the 
way to be defeated when he adopted the clever ruse of 
sending away a frigate to signal to him that the Channel 
fleet was coming up. The code used was one known to 
have been captured by the French, and they, reading the 
signals, hastily abandoned the pursuit and made off. 

Three days lat^r, Villaret-Joyeuse did actually 
encounter the Channel fleet, under Hood (now Lord 
Bridport). He made off south, chased by Bridport, who 
liad fourteen ships, mostly three-deckers, of which the 
French had but one. After a four days' chase, Bridport 
came uj) with the tail of the enemy, off Lorient. A 
partial action ensued, in which three French ships were 
ca})tured, after which Brid[)ort witlidrew. He gave as 
his reason the nearness to the Freucli sliore — exactly the 
reason that Hothara gave for neglecting a j)ossible 


victory. In both cases, the reason was rather trivial. 
The practical assign it to the old age of the admirals 
concerned. To the imaginative, these two almost incom- 
prehensible failures to take advantage of circumstances 
gave some colour to Napoleon's theory of " his destiny." 

In this year, a number of East Indiamen were 
purchased for naval use. One of these, the Glatton, 
(fifty-six) was experimentally armed with sixty-eight 
pounder carronades on her lower deck, and forty-two 
pounders on the upper. On her way to join her 
squadron, she was attacked by six French frigates, of 
which one was a fifty-gun, and two were of thirty-six. 
She easily defeated the lot — another instance of the 
" big ship's " advantage in minor combats. Despite 
this instance of what might be done, the heavy gun idea 
made no headway, and the Glatton remained a unique 
curiosity, till many years later the Americans adopted it 
to our great disadvantage. 

Towards the end of 1795 (December) Hotham was 
replaced in the Mediterranean by Sir John Jervis — an 
admiral of unique personahty, who left upon the Navy a 
mark that easily endures to this day. Somewhat hyper- 
bolically it has been said of him that he was the saviour 
of the Navy in his own day, and the main element 
towards its disruption in these times ! 

Jervis had made his mark in the War of American 
Independence, as captain of the Foudroyant. Discipline 
was his passion ; and by means of it, he had made an 
easy capture of a French ship. Thereafter, he became 
a unique blend of martinet and genius. 

He was the first openly to re-affirm Sir Walter 
Raleigh's theory, quoted in an earlier chapter, that 
fortifications were useless against invasion, and that only 


on the water could an enemy be met successfully, 
combatting Pitt himself on this point. When the Great 
War broke out, his first employment was in the West 
Indies, where he achieved St. Lucia, Martinique and 
Guadaloupe. He went to the Mediterranean, at a time 
when France was numerically superior to us in the 
Channel, and when Spain was daily expected to declare 
war. The fleet to which he went was like all others, 
tending to a mutinous spirit, and finally he had to go out 
in the frigate Lively. In those days, for an admiral to 
take passage in anything less than a ship of the line was 
considered a most undignified thing. It rankled so with 
Jervis that he never forgot it, and years after harped upon 
it as a grievance. Of such character was the man who 
took command in the Mediterranean at the end of 1795. 

In 1796, the personnel of the Navy was increased to 
110,000. Jervis, in the Mediterranean, did little beyond 
blockading Toulon, and training his fleet on his own 
ideas. Spain declared war in October ; but her intentions 
being known beforehand, Corsica was evacuated, and at 
the end of the year the Mediterranean was abandoned 
also, Jervis with his entire fleet lying under the guns of 
Gibraltar. Nothing else was possible. 

Elsewhere invasion ideas were uppermost in France, 
and 18,000 troops, convoyed by seventeen ships of the 
line and thirteen frigates, sailed from Brest for Bantry 
Bay, at the end of the year. Only eight ships of the line 
reached tliere ; a gale dispersed the transports and 
nothing happened in the way of invasion. The only 
other event of the year was the capture of a Dutch 
squadron at the Capo of Good Hoi)e. Matters generally 
were, however, so bad, that attempts were made to 
secure terras of peace from France. These attempts failed. 

3 „ 


1 „ 


8 „ 


1 „ 



The year 1792 saw 108 ships of the Hne and 293 
lesser vessels in commission. Something like sixty ships 
of the line were building or ordered, also 168 lesser craft. 
The first incident was the Battle of Cape St. Vincent 
(14th February, 1797). The Spaniards, having come 
out of Cartagena, were making for Cadiz, when sighted 
by Jervis. 

The rival fleets were : — 

British. Spanish. 

2 of 100 guns. 1 of 130 guns. 

6 „ 112 „ 

2 „ 80 „ 

18 „ 74 „ 

— 27 

15 — 

The battle is mainly of interest on account of Nelson's 
part in it. The Spaniards were sailing in no order 
whatever, the bulk of them being in one irregular mass, 
the remainder in another. Jervis, in hne ahead, 
proposed to pass between the two divisions, and destroy 
the larger before the smaller could beat up to assist 
them. The Spaniards, however inefficient they may have 
been in other ways, saw through this manoeuvre, and 
their main body was preparing to join up astern of the 
British, when Nelson, in the Captain, flung himself across 
them and captured two ships by falling foul of them and 
boarding. Three other ships were captured, the rest 
escaped. In this battle, as in those of the year before, 
the same caution about following up the victory was 
observed, and the age of the admiral concerned has 
again been produced as the reason. But the thoughtful 
— taking the previous career of most of those concerned 
into consideration — may suspect the existence of some 

1 J^^ 

- *> 

;: V^f 



special secret orders about taking no risks, as yet un- 
earthed by any historian. The only really workable 
alternative is Napoleon's " destiny " theory already 
alluded to. Of the two, the secret order hypothesis is 
the more practical. Into the whole of these victories not 
properly followed up, it is also possible, though hardly 
probable, that the mutinous state of the personnel entered. 

In the battle of Cape St. Vincent, the Spaniards 
had an enormous four-decker, the Santissima Trinidad^ 
of 130 guns. She was the first ship engaged by Nelson, 
and was hammered by most of the others closely engaged 
as well, but her size and power saved her from the fate 
of the rest of the ships that were with her. 

It is difficult even now to assess the exact situation 
of the mutineers of 1797. The organised self-restraint 
of the Spithead Mutiny is hard to understand, when we 
remember the heterogeneous origin of the crews. " Jail 
or Navy " was an every-day offer to prisoners. Long- 
shoremen, riff-raff, pressed landsmen, thieves, murderers, 
smugglers, and a few degraded officers, were the raw 
material of which the crews were composed. They were 
stiffened with a proportion of professional seamen, and 
it is these that must have leavened the mass, and kept 
the jail-bird element in check. 

Pay was bad, ship life close akin to prison life, 
discipline and punishments alike brutal, and the food 
disgracefully bad. It was this last that brought about 
the mutiny. There is an old saying to the effect that 
you may ill-treat a sailor as you will, but if you ill-feed 
him, trouble may be looked for ! One or two isolated 
mutinies, Hke that of the Ilermioney were due to a 
captain's brutality ; but mainly and mostly bad food 
and mutiny were closely linked. 


Commander Robinson* draws attention to the fact 
that the pursers themselves were hardly the unscrupulous 
rascals they were supposed to be on shore, and that the 
system and regulations of victualling were recognised by 
the seamen as at the bottom of the mischief. 

The same authority quotes a contemporary : — 

" The reason unto you I now will relate : 
We resolved to refuse the purser's short weight ; 
Our humble petition to Lord Howe we sent, 
That he to the Admiralty write to present 
Our provisions and wages that they might augment." 

Discontent had, of course, long been brewing, but 
the Admiralty seems to have been without any suspicions. 
They dismissed the petition as being in no way represen- 
tative ; later, having received reports to the contrary, 
ordered Lord Bridport's fleet at Spithead to proceed to 
sea. On April 15th, when the signal to weigh anchor 
was made, the crews of every ship manned the rigging 
and cheered. No violence was offered to any officer ; 
the men simply refused to work. Each ship suppUed a 
couple of delegates to explain matters, and after an 
enquiry, their demands were granted and a free pardon 
given. Delays, however, ensued, and on May 7th, the 
fleet again refused to put to sea. 

On this occasion, the officers were disarmed, confined 
to their cabins, and kept there, till a few days later a 
general pardon was proclaimed, when this mutiny ended. 
A similar mutiny at Plymouth was equally mild. 

Of a very different character was the mutiny at the 
Nore, which broke out on May 13th, under the leader- 
ship of the notorious Richard Parker. Parker was a 
man of considerable parts, said to have been an ex-officer 
dismissed the service with disgrace, and to have entered 

* The British Tar in Fact and Fiction. 


as a seaman. He possessed undoubted ability and 
considerable ambition. He very clearly aimed at 
something more than the redress of grievances, since his 
first act was to put a rope round his own neck by 
instigating the crew of the Inflexible to fire into a sister 
ship, on board which a court-martial was being held. 
Subsequently, delegates were sent to the Admiralty with 
extravagant claims, which — as Parker may have antici- 
pated — were ignored. 

Eleven ships of Admiral Duncan's fleet (then block- 
ading the Texel) had joined Parker by the first of June. 
Duncan was left \vith but two ships in face of the enemy. 
By showing himself much and making imaginary signals 
Duncan managed to conceal the facts from the Dutch : 
but he had considerable trouble to keep his two ships 
from joining the mutineers now blockading the Thames. 

There is reason to believe that Parker was in touch 
with the Revolutionists in France and the dissatisfied 
Irish, but the bulk of the mutineers were altogether 
uninfluenced by political ideas. The mutiny began to 
waver. The ships at other home ports were unsym- 
pathetic, and Parker and his friends found men cooling 
off. In order to keep things together it was their custom 
to row round the fleet* and inspect ships suspected of 
being " cool," — the side being piped for them. In one 
case, however, the boatswain's mate refused to do so, 
and flung his call at their heads. On coming on board, 
they sentenced him to thirty-six lashes for " mutinous 
conduct ! " On June lOth, despite this disciplinary 
system, two of the mutineer ships sailed away under lire 
from the others, and on the 14th, Parker's own ship 

• Tho title of " rh^lf^^atos " sooms qnnintly fwiounh to Imvo led Parker and 
hiH friciulH into troiililc Th(( irmii ^ot hold f)f tlu' word a.s " delicatcs," and 
int«rproted it more or lo»8 iit^.Tully a« a eluini to .superiority. 


surrendered and handed him over to the authorities. 
He was hanged on June 29th. 

In the Mediterranean fleet, mutiny broke out in two 
ships off Cadiz, but Jervis (now Earl St. Vincent), com- 
pelled the mutineers to hang their own ringleaders. In 
connection with this, Nelson, who was now rear admiral 
commanding the inshore squadron, wrote to St. Vincent — 
" I congratulate you on the finish, as it ought, of the St. 
George's business, and I (if I may be permitted to say so) very much 
approve of its being so speedily carried into execution, even although 
it is Sunday. The particular situation of the service requires 
extraordinary measures. I hope this will end all the disorders in 
our fleet : had there been the same determined spirit at home, I do 
not believe it would have been half so bad." 

It is noteworthy that in Nelson's own ship there 
was no trouble whatever. The ship had had a reputation 
for insubordination, but shortly after Nelson joined her, 
a paper intimating that no mutiny need be feared was 
dropped on the quarter-deck. Nelson brought with him 
a reputation for taking a personal interest in his men. 
Then, as now, hard work and a dog's life were not 
objected to, provided the personal equation were present. 

St. Vincent proceeded to stamp out the embers 
of mutiny in his own fashion. He set himseH to invest 
his rank with every circumstance of pomp, awe and 
ceremony. Every morning he appeared on the quarter 
deck in full dress uniform, paraded the Marines, and had 
" God save the King " played with all hats off. His 
regulations were catholic enough to embrace lieutenants' 
shoe-laces. In all the pomp that he created the 
mutinous spirit was smothered. 

To him is due the vast abyss between the quarter- 
deck and lower-deck which marks the Navy of to-day. 
Whether this, advantageous as it was a hundred odd 


years ago, is equally advantageous now, is another 
matter. It makes a barrier altogether different from that 
existing between officer and man in the Army — it is 
something closely akin to the racial differences mark in 
India ; and this sorts ill with the democratic ideas of 
to-day, when class distinction is quite a different matter 
from what it was a hundred years ago. 

There are still possible two views of the question. 
One is embodied in a letter I received some few years 
ago from a man from the lower-deck. He wrote, " When 
I was a boy in a training ship, my captain seemed to 
me something as far away and above me as God himself, 
and the impression thus created I have carried with me 
towards all officers ever since. Though in private life I 
might meet his brother with feeling of perfect equality, 
I could never be other than ill at ease meeting an officer 
in the same conditions." 

Here, at any rate, is the psychology of what St. 
Vincent aimed at. To-day, however, one is far more 
Ukely to hear about " the side of officers," or that 
*' officers, when cadets, are taught to regard the men 
with contempt ! " The conditions are such, that despite 
mixed cricket and football teams, mutual sympathy 
between officers and men is well nigh impossible. 

Of " the great God Routine " which St. Vincent set 
up, it is beyond question that it is to-day an irritating 
superfluity to both officers and men alike. 

To resume. As the Spaniards obstinately refused to 
come out from Cadiz, St. Vincent sent Nelson in to 
bombard them with mortar boats ; but this attempt to 
force them out did not succeed. Following upon this, 
Nelson, with three seventy-four's, one fifty, three frigates 
and a cutter, was despatched to Santa Cruz. On the 


night of July 24th, he led a boat attack in person. Most 

of the boats missed the Mole and were stove in. Such 

as reached the Mole were met by a withering fire. 

Nelson was struck on the right elbow by a grape shot, 

and taken back to the Theseus, where his arm was 

amputated. Troubridge took command of the 300 odd 

men who had got ashore, and being surrounded by the 

Spanish, made terms, whereby the Spaniards found 

boats for his party to return to their ships. The 

squadron rejoined St. Vincent, and Nelson sailed for 

England to recover. 

The blockade of the Texel had been vigorously 

maintained till October, when Duncan returned to 

Spithead to refit. He had no sooner done so than the 

Dutch, under De Winter, came out — presumably with a 

view to reaching Brest. Duncan's frigates, however, 

promptly reported them, and sailing at once he met 

them off Camperdown, on October 11th. 

The rival fleets were : — 

British. Dutch. 

7 of 74 guns. 4 of 74 guns. 

7 „ 64 „ 7 „ 64 „ 

2 „ 50 „ 4 „ 50 „ 

16 15 

Duncan's original plan was the old fashioned ship- 
to-ship system, but in the actual event, the Dutch line 
was broken. One of the Dutch fifty-gun ships fell back 
to avoid the Lancaster (sixty-four), five others for some 
reason or other following her ; the remaining nine fought 
desperately, till further resistance was impossible. 

The prizes were : — two seventy-four's, five sixty- 
four's, two fifties, and a couple of frigates. Both the 
captured fifties were lost ; the other ships were with great 


difficulty got to England. All were found to have been 
damaged beyond repair, and some of Duncan's ships 
were in httle better condition. His losses in personnel 
were over 1,000 in killed and wounded. His crews, it 
is interesting to note, consisted mostly of Parker's 
erstwhile mutineers. 

During 1797, a few frigates only were lost. These 
included the Hermione, whose crew mutinied and handed 
her over to the enemy. The brutality of her captain, 
Pigot, whose idea of efficiency was to flog the last two 
men down from aloft, was the cause of this particular 

In 1797, a large ninety-eight gun ship, the Neptune, 
was added to the Navy, also a seventy -four and a sixty- 
four. Private yards launched no less than forty-six 
frigates and smaller craft, and the total number of war- 
ships built, building and projected, was 696. f 

For the year 1798, the personnel voted was 100,000 
seamen and 20,000 marines ; and the total Naval 
Estimates amounted to £13,449,388. 

In France, Buonaparte was forging to the front, and 
he threw himself into those schemes for the invasion of 
England which so appealed to the French mind and so 
terrified the British public. Ireland was selected as the 
most suitable spot, and two expeditions were prepared, 
one at Rochefort, the other at Brest. Of these, one, 
the Rochefort expedition, materialised in August, reached 
Killala Bay, in Ireland, and soon afterwards had to 
surrender to the Enj^lish Army. The Brest ex})edition, 
escorted by a line of battle ship and a number of frigates, 

* For a very intorosting detailed account, see Ship* and Men, by David 
t Fincham. 


was more or less annihilated by Admiral Warren, on 
October 12tli. 

As already stated, the Mediterranean had become 
a species of Franco-Spanish lake. St. Vincent was 
outside Gibraltar, and he was still there when Nelson, in 
the Vanguard, arrived to join him as rear-admiral, at the 
end of April. 

Nelson, with a small squadron, was at once des- 
patched to discover what the French were doing at 
Toulon. Rumours of all kinds were current. He found 
fifteen ships of the line and a great many transports, 
news of which he sent to the Admiral. On the top of 
this came a gale, which dismasted the Vanguard. She 
was, however, towed into San Pietro, Sardinia, and 
hastily re-fitted, and four days later the ships were off 
Toulon again, only to find that the French had sailed. 

Reinforced by ten sail of the hne, under Troubridge, 
Nelson now sailed in search of the French fleet. Reaching 
Alexandria and finding nothing known there of the 
French, he worked back to Syracuse, where he re- 
victualled in cheerful disregard of the neutrality remon- 
strances of the Governor. Thence he returned eastward, 
and having received information of where the French 
had last been seen, eventually found them anchored in 
Aboukir Bay, where he attacked them on the evening of 
August 1st, 1798. 

The rival fleets were : — 

British. French. 

13 of 74 guns. I of 120 guns. 
1 „ 50 „ 9 „ 74 „ 

14 10, also 4 Frigates. 

The French, under Brueys, were drawn across the 


Bay in a " defensive position." They were in no way a 
very efficient force, some of the ships being old and 
short of guns, all of them rather short-handed, and even 
so, manned with many new-raised raw men. On the 
other hand, they were so sure of the safety of their 
position that their inshore guns were not cleared for 
action. By all the naval theory of the day this idea of 
impregnability was justified. 

The battle itself was simple enough. Nelson came 
down with the wind on the French van, approximately 
putting two of his ships one on either side of each of the 
Frenchmen, and so on, the rear being unable to beat up 
to support them. The result was the practical annihila- 
tion of the French fleet. Of the thirteen ships of the 
line, only two escaped in company with two frigates. 

So complete a naval victory had never before been 
known. In all the battles of the previous two or three 
hundred years, the percentage of losses to the vanquished 
had been small. The battle of the Nile, therefore, 
received an attention perhaps beyond its intrinsic worth. 
As Nelson wrote to Howe : — " By attacking the enemy's 
van and centre, the wind blowing directly along their 
line, I was enabled to throw what force I pleased on a 
few ships." The real point of interest is not the result, 
which was foregone, but Nelson's ability to see his 
opportunity and to make the utmost of it. Therein lay 
his superlative greatness. 

Of the prizes, three were found to be new and good 
ships. One of them, the Franklin, was renamed Canopus. 
and as late as 1850 was still on the effective list of the 
British Navy. 

The defeat of the French at the Nile had far reaching 
effects. Russia, Austria, Turkey, Naples and Portugal 


formed with England a great anti-French AUiance. A 
large Russian fleet appeared in the Mediterranean, but 
accomplished no services there. It was under suspicion 
of having private designs on Malta rather than of assisting 
the Alliance. 

From 1762 onward, when Catherine the Great came 
to the throne of Russia, an enormous number of retired 
or unemployed English officers took service in the Russian 
Navy. To one of these, Captain Elphinstone (who 
subsequentl}'^ re-entered the British service), has been 
traced the origin of the idea upon which Nelson acted in 
the battle of the Nile. To another, General Bentham, 
originally a shipwright, who returned to the British service 
in 1795, was due a revolution in dockyard management. 
To him was due the introduction of machinery into 
dockyards : a matter needing much diplomacy and 
caution, as popular feehng against machinery then ran 
high. However, by 1798, Bentham had steam engines 
installed in the dockyards. He also commenced the first 
caisson known in England, using it for the great basin 
at Portsmouth Yard. In the face of considerable 
opposition he also introduced deep docks, basins and 
jetties at Portsmouth, for the speedy fitting out of ships. 

In 1799, the personnel was settled at 120,000, and 
the Naval Estimates were £13,654,000. 

In April of this year, the French, under Bruix, 
with twenty-five ships of the line, came out of Brest, 
which was being cruised off by Bridport with sixteen sail. 
Having warned Keith, who was blockading Cadiz, and 
St. Vincent, who lay at Gibraltar, Bridport fell back on 
Bantry Bay, where he was reinforced with ten ships. 

Bruix ran down south, his orders being to join the 
Spaniards in Cadiz, but the weather was unfavourable and 



his crews so illtrained* that he made no attempt to attack 
Keith's squadron, but ran on into the Mediterranean. 
Keith himself joined St. Vincent at Gibraltar. 

On May 11th, St. Vincent arrived at Minorca with 
twenty sail. Nelson, with sixteen ships (of which four 
were Portuguese) was scattered over the Mediterranean, 
his base being at Palermo. On the 13th, Bruix reached 
Toulon, and a week later seventeen Spaniards from 
Cadiz reached Cartagena. 

To prevent these joining up with Bruix, St. Vincent 
lay betw^een the two bases : but the risk that either fleet 
might suddenly fall on Nelson was such, that he sent four 
of his ships to him. He was, however, presently reinforced 
with five ships, bringing his net total to twenty-one. 

St. Vincent's health having now given out, he handed 
the fleet over to Lord Keith, who learned that Bruix, 
with twenty-two sail, had left Toulon on the 27th May ; 
but for some reason or other made for that place. Bruix 
reached the Spaniards at Cartagena, without interference, 
on June 23rd, and so had thirty-nine ships to oppose 
the British twenty-one. These, falling back upon 
Minorca, were there reinforced by ten ships from home, 
thus bringing the total up to thirty-one. 

Meanwhile, Bruix putting to sea again at once, made 
for Cadiz, wiiich he reached on July 12th, and leaving 
again on the 21st, made for Brest ; Keith, some two 
weeks behind him, in pursuit. 

The net result of Bruix's cruise was that the French 
fleet at Brest rose to the enormous total of ninety 
warships, collected to cover an invasion of Enojland. 
As, however, Napoleon, who was to command, did 

• Troude. 



not reach France until October, nothing was done in 
1799, thus allowing ample time for the concentration of 
English ships. Had the Brest Armada struck at once, 
matters for England had been none too rosy, since the 
only force guarding the Channel was Bridport's fleet of 
twenty-six sail, at Bantry. 

August saw 20,000 Russians landed at the Helder 
from British transports. These captured the Texel 
fortifications, inside of which lay what was left of the 
Dutch fleet. The Dutch admiral declined to surrender, 
but his crews refused to fight, and eventually the ships 
were handed over without firing a shot. The ships were 
found to be antiquated in design and badly built, and 
were never of any use to the English Navy. 

In the latter part of this year, two Spanish frigates 
were captured by four Enghsh. These ships were 
bringing home the year's South American treasure. 
The prize money divided among the four captains 
amounted to £160,000. 

Twenty-one vessels were lost during the year. Only 
three of them, however, were lost by capture, and of 
these the largest was a ten-gun brig ! 

The prizes of the year consisted of eight French 
frigates, five Spanish frigates and twenty-four Dutch 
ships. In this year also the very fast French privateer, 
Bordelais, was taken, being chased and overhauled by the 
Revolutionnaire, an ex-French frigate, and the only 
frigate in the Navy at this time able to catch up with 
French ones. 

The personnel granted for the year 1800, was 110,000, 
with an additional 10,000 for March and April only. 
The ships in commission were 100 ships of the line, 


seventeen small t\^'o-deckers and 351 frigates and lesser 

No naval fighting of much importance took place, 
but the year was otherwise very momentous. Napoleon, 
Avho had made himself First Consul, was busy re- 
organising the French Nav}^ and one of his first acts 
was to offer terms of peace. These, however, were 
refused by the British Government. 

On July 25th, the Danish frigate, Freya, out with a 
convoy, was met by some British ships. She refused to 
allow " the right of search." Firing followed, and the 
Freya was captured. An embassy, to explain matters to 
the Danes, went, accompanied by a fleet of nine ships of 
the line, five frigates and four bombs, under Admiral 

This action — the intentions of which were obvious — 
aroused the resentment of the Russian Emperor Paul. 
Nelson's suspicion that the Russians wished to capture 
Malta for themselves, have already been alluded to. 
These intentions came to light now ; for Paul, having 
got himself declared Grand Master of the Knights of 
»St. John of Malta, seized some 300 British merchant 
ships in Russian ports, and said that he would not let 
them go till Malta (which was then besieged and about 
to fall to the British) was given up to him. 

The British Government ignored the Malta claim, 
and many of the British merchant ships equally ignored 
the Russian orders about remaining in harbour. Quite 
a number sailed away ; the rest, however, were seized 
and burned, by Paul's orders. To reinforce himself 
against very probable reprisals, Paul — presumably in- 
fluenced by Napoleon — formed the " Armed Neutrality." 


Russia and Sweden signed on December 16th, and on the 
19th, Denmark and Prussia. 

Meanwhile, Malta, which had been blockaded and 
besieged by the British ever since the battle of the Nile,, 
was in grievous straits. In February, 1800, the Oenereux^ 
seventy-four (one of the two ships of the line which 
escaped from the Nile), left Toulon, with some frigates, 
intent on relief. She was, however, intercepted and 
captured by Nelson. 

In March, the Guillaume Tell, the other survivor of 
the Nile, which had been lying at Malta, attempted on 
the night of the 30th to run the blockade to procure 
help. In doing so, she encountered the British frigate 
Penelope, which chased her, attacking her rigging. The 
firing brought up two ships of the line, Foudroyant and 
Lion, but the Frenchman made such a defence that both 
these were disabled before she was reduced to submission^ 
and it was to the Penelope frigate that she ultimately 
struck. This particular fight is generally reckoned as 
the finest defence ever made by a French ship. 

Malta was eventually starved into surrender, and 
the final capitulation took place on the 5th September, 
1800, after a siege of practically two years. 

The capture of Malta was perhaps one of the finest 
exhibitions of " Admiralty " in the whole war. No 
waste of life in assaults took place : the fortress was 
systematically starved into surrender by the judicious 
use of Sea Power to prevent any relief. 

In this year (1800), several ships were lost, the 
principal being the Queen Charlotte (100), which was 
accidentally burned and blown up off Capraja, on the 
17th of March. The majority of her crew perished with 


her. Eighteen other ships were wrecked, while two (a 
twenty gun and a fourteen) mutinied and joined the 
enemy. These were the only British ships that actually 
changed hands. Captures amounted to fourteen ships 
of from eighty to twenty-eight guns, and a large number 
of privateers and small craft. 

The 3^ear 1801 saw the Estimates at £16,577,000. 
The personnel voted was 120,000 for the first quarter of 
the year, after which it was to rise to 135,000, with a 
view to deahng with the Armed Neutrahty. The number 
of ships in commission was substantially the same as in 
the previous year. 

The avowed objects of the Armed Neutrality were to 
resist " the right of search," to secure any property 
under a neutral flag, that a blockade to be binding must 
be maintained by an adequate force, and that contraband 
of war must be clearly defined beforehand. In substance, 
they amounted to the free importation into France of 
those naval stores of which she stood most in need. 
Wisely enough the British Government decided to break 
up the coalition by diplomacy, if possible, and faihng 
that, by force. Incidentally, it may be noted that the 
Tsar, who was at the head of the coalition, was more or 
less a madman, in possession of a very considerable fleet. 

In March, 1801, a fleet of twenty ships of the line 
and a large number of auxiliaries, under Sir Hyde Parker, 
with Nelson as second in command, sailed for the Baltic. 
On arrival at Copenhagen, the Danes were found to 
be moored in a strong ])osition under cover of shore 
batteries. Tlie attack was conflded to Nelson with 
twelve ships, wliich fared badly enough for Parker after 
the battle had lasted three lioiirs to make a signal to 


withdraw.* Nelson, however, disregarded this, and 
continued till the Danish fire began to slacken an hour 
later. But as the Danes continually reinforced their 
disabled ships from the shore, and fired into those which 
had surrendered, the slaughter promised to go on 
indefinitely. Things being thus, Nelson, under a flag of 
truce, threatened to set fire to the damaged ships and 
leave their crews to their fate unless firing ceased. It 
has been alleged that this was a clever piece of bluff in 
order to extricate his ships from an awkward position : 
but all the evidence goes to show that he was fully in a 
position to carry out his threat, while as he made no 
attempt to move during the negotiations the bluff story 
is absurd. It appears to have been an act of humanity, 
pure and simple. 

Ultimately, the bulk of the Danish fleet was 
surrendered, and a fourteen weeks' armistice arranged. 
Nelson explaining that he required this amount of time 
to destroy the Russian fleet ! 

Subsequently the Swedish fleet was dealt with, but 
it took refuge under fortifications. About the same time 
news came that the mad Tsar had been assassinated, and 
that his successor had no wish to continue hostilities. 

Nelson (now Commander-in-Chief) appeared off 
Kronstadt, under the guns of which the Russians had 
taken shelter in May. Negotiations followed, f and 
ultimately Russia was granted the right to trade with 
belligerents — probably a diplomatic concession in order 
to detach her sympathy from France. 

* He, at the same time, sent a private message to Nelson that if he wished 
to continue, he was at hberty to do so. The telescope to his blind eye was 
merely a little jest on Nelson's part, and in no way disobedience of orders. 
Parker's whole object in making the signal to withdraw was to intimate to 
Nelson that if he deemed himself defeated, he (Parker) would accept 

f Paul had just been murdered, and Alexander changed his policy. 


In the meantime, Napoleon's invasion schemes were 
shaping. To this day it is unknown whether he was 
serious or not at this, or for that matter, any other 
period. That he intended his preparations to be taken 
seriously (as they were by all save Nelson) is clear enough. 
It is further clear from his vast preparations that he 
would have used his flotilla had the chance occurred ; 
but the mere fact that he never attempted actual 
invasion is of itself sufficient answer to all the liomiHes 
that have been written about Napoleon's inability to 
understand " Sea Power." 

The army at Boulogne, the flat-bottomed boats, all 
served to keep England in a panic, and that was worth 
much. He had experience to guide him. Past experience 
was an English attack on the flotilla like that of Rodney 
many years before. In August, 1801, such an attack 
came, Nelson directing it. It was found fuUy prepared 
for and defeated with ease. 

In the Mediterranean, Ganteaume, who had left 
Brest with seven ships of the line convoying 5,000 troops, 
reached Alexandria, but before he could disembark his 
soldiers, Keith appeared, and he hurried back to Toulon. 

Linois left Toulon with a small squadron, and was 
driven into Algeciras, where he beat off Samaurez and a 
considerably more powerful squadron. Retreating from 
this, Samaurez fell in with a Spanish squadron, the ships 
of which, in the confusion of a night action, attacked each 
other, with the result that the two best ships were 

In October, 1801, the prchminaries of the Peace of 
Amiens were signed and hostilities ceased. 



The total losses to the enemy in the war are given as 
follows by Campbell : — 

French. Dutch. Spanish. Total. 

Ships of the line .45 25 11 81 

Fifties 2 1 3 

Frigates 133 31 20 184 

Sloops, etc 161 32 55 248 

Total . . 516 

The corresponding British loss was only twenty-one 
ships of all classes, and of these only two ships of the 
line were captured. The bulk of British losses was 
accounted for by wrecks. 



WITH the Peace of Amiens the usual reduction of 
the Navy took place. The 104 ships of the line 
in commission the year before sank to thirty- 
two in 1802. The personnel fell to 50,000. 

It may here be remarked that of the ships put out of 
commission a great number were unfit for further service : 
111 ships of various classes being in so bad a way that 
they were sold or broken up. Many others were cut down 
to serve in inferior rates. 

Earl}^ in 1803 it became abundantly clear that 
Napoleon was preparing for a new war, and in May, war 
was declared on him by the British Government. It is 
of interest to note that Napoleon, in dismissing the 
British Ambassador, said to him that he " intended to 
invade England," adding that he considered it might 
be " a very risky undertaking." At the time war was 
declared Napoleon was not quite read}^ and never 
regained the ground thus lost. 

Little or nothing happened to show that a great 
naval struggle was in progress. The French ships lay 
secure in harbour ; the British tossed outside in ceaseless 
blockade work. But these months of seeming inaction 
settled the fate of France. The French crews, never 
very efficient, grew less and less so in harbour, while 


every day outside hardened the British and added to 
their efficiency. Seeing that the British personnel, which 
was but 50,000 at the early part of the year, was 
suddenly expanded to 100,000 in June, the advantages 
of this shaking down of raw crews were obvious enough. 
When eventually battle was joined, the difference between 
the English and the French personnel was such that for 
every round got off by the latter, any British ship could 
fire three ! Victory was won long before a single battle 
shot had been fired. Trafalgar was made a certainty by 
the great blockades. 

When war broke out the general disposition of the 
hostile squadrons was as follows : — (the figures in brackets 
representing frigates and small craft) — 

British. French. 

Outside. Inside. 

Toulon 14 (32) 10 (6) 

Ferroi 7 (4) 5 (2) 

Rochefort 5 (2) 4 (7) 

Brest 20 (11) 18 (7) 

Texel to Dunkirk 9 (21) 5 (11) 

The invasion flotilla was distributed about Boulogne 
to the tune of 1,450 of the flotilla, 120 brigs and a few 
frigates. In the Texel district were 645 more of the 

Reserve squadrons were stationed in home waters 
ample to deal with the small craft defending flotillas. 

So passed away the year 1803. Both sides reinforced 
their squadrons as rapidly as new ships could be 
produced. Beyond this nothing happened. 

The year 1804 opened with the same lack of result. 
Napoleon made himself Emperor in May, and to some 
extent weakened his squadrons by the removal from 
them of officers suspected of Repubhcan views. In July, 


however, things were nearing completion, and Latouche 
Trevillc was put in supreme command of the whole 
expedition against England. He received explicit orders 
to evade Nelson (who watched Toulon) and to rendezvous 
at Brest for invasion purposes. He died, however, in 
August* and the plans fell through. 

After some delay, Villeneuve was appointed in his 
place ; but instead of the invasion idea there came plans 
of oversea enterprises, possibly designed with a view to 
drawing all British forces of the moment away from the 
Channel, thus leaving things clear for an invasion. But 
again there comes the doubt whether Napoleon ever 
expected this to succeed, whether he really thought of 
much else than keeping England perturbed and busy 
while he matured plans for other parts of Europe, and 
whether he did not realise that " Sea Power " had its 
hmitations as well as its advantages, and never really 
sought anything further than to cause Britain to spend 
so much in naval defence that she had little left to 
subsidise his Continental foes with. Better than most men 
he was able to estimate Nelson's limitations. He clearly 
estimated fully enough that Nelson was no particularly 
brilliant strategist, and that he was more likely to 
forecast correctly what Nelson would do, than was Nelson 
to divine his purpose. He under-estimated indeed what 
Nelson really did mean, — the j^articular genius which 
made Nelson invincible as a leader of men, how Nelson 
was a tactician able to gauge exactly the competence of 
the enemy and to win victory by doing seemingly foolish 
things accordingly. 

At least, it would appear that there Napoleon erred. 
But there is no judging Napoleon — the strangest mixture 

• Compare with the Hiiniltir doluy of the Spanish Armada. 


of genius and charlatan that the world has ever seen or 
is ever likely to. It is even unsafe to say that Napoleon 
did not foresee Trafalgar ; unsafe to believe that, in his 
view, French fleets had no purpose other than to keep the 
English occupied. Napoleon is ever the one man in 
history that no one can ever surely know, whether we 
take him as the biggest liar who ever lived, or as the 
greatest genius the world has ever known. 

In January, 1804, the British Fleet in commission 
consisted of seventy-five ships of the line, with forty 
others in reserve ; 281 lesser craft were in commission 
and a few in reserve. 

The intentions of Spain had long been mistrusted 
in England. As a precaution, the Spanish treasure fleet 
was attacked without warning, and over a milhon 
pounds' worth of booty secured. Spain, thereupon, 
made her intentions clear, and declared war. A few 
lesser ships changed hands during the year ; but even 
the minor happenings were of small account. 

In the year 1805, the number of British ships built, 
building and ordered, stood at 181 ships of the line, and 
532 lesser vessels besides troop-ships, store-ships and 
harbour vessels. The personnel was 120,000 and the 
Naval Estimates £15,035,630. 

Napoleon's " Army of Invasion " now amounted to 
a nominal 150,000 men* in the Boulogne district alone, 
men all trained in embarking and disembarking. The 
famous " Let me be master of the Channel but for six 
hours " had been uttered, f If ever invasion were 
seriously contemplated it was so in this year 1805. 

♦ Actually never exceeded 93,000. — Campaign of Trajalgar. — Corbett. 

t Six was sometimes twelve, sometimes longer periods still. The most 
reasonable explanation is that Napoleon's real intentions were to use the 
army to invade England, if luck and chance threw the opportunity in his 
way ; but otherwise to use it only as a threat. 


There followed those well-known operations — the 
" drawing away of Nelson," of which so much had been 

In substance, Napoleon quite understood the 
situation so far as Nelson was concerned. He under- 
stood that Nelson's fleet did not watch Toulon closely. 
He understood that if Villeneuve came out from Toulon 
when Nelson was not close by, Nelson would blindly 
seek him, probably in the wrong direction. 

In this, and up to a certain point beyond. Napoleon 
was entirely correct. But he made one error. He 
regarded Nelson as a fool. In estimating Nelson to be 
easily outwitted he was not perhaps far wrong ; but 
beyond that, he failed to understand the man with 
whom he had to deal. 

It was these qualities of Nelson that rendered any 
invasion hopeless. Nelson had seen enough to know that 
the fighting value of the enemy was small, and that for 
him to attack at all costs and all hazards meant no 
hazard to the result. With one single idea, to find the 
enemy and destroy him, he was just the one enemy for 
whom Napoleon's genius had no answering move. 

Villeneuve got out of Toulon on January 20th. He 
cruised about. Nelson cruising elsewhere looking for him. 
Eventually, Villeneuve, damaged by a gale, returned to 
Toulon, whence he presently emerged again on March 
29th, and sailed for the West Indies. Ten days after he 
had done so. Nelson learned that the French had passed 
Gibraltar on April 8th ; but delayed by contrary winds 
and lack of information, the Britisii fleet was a long way 
behind. As for Villeneuve, he picked up six Spaniards 
at Cadiz, and went to the West Indies with seventeen 


ships of the Hne. Nelson followed far behind with ten. 
He pressed on so hard, however, that he reached 
Barbadoes on June 4th, the same day that Villeneuve, not 
so very far away, left Martinique, where he had been lying. 

Therefrom, Nelson sailed south to Trinidad, off which 
he arrived at the same time as Villeneuve, sailing north, 
came off Antigua. 

On June 11th, Villeneuve (whose crews were already 
sick) set out to return to Europe. Two days later. 
Nelson, who had gone north again, followed suit. 

These hole and corner movements, impossible to-day, 
are not of much interest, save in so far as they indicate 
the certainty of information in these days and the 
uncertainty in those. 

The " decoyed away fleet " idea has nothing in it, 
because in any such scheme Villeneuve could surely either 
have doubled back when half-way, or in any case would 
not have remained in the West Indies. 

Nelson sent ahead fast frigates, with information 
that Villeneuve was returning ; consequently arrange- 
ments for his reception were made. Off Finisterre, 
Villeneuve encountered Calder, and an indecisive action 
resulted. Two Spanish ships were captured. The 
following day, Villeneuve attempted to attack, but wind 
and weather prevented. On the third day the wind 
shifted, but Calder failed to attack. For this he was 
subsequently court-martialled and severely reprimanded. 

Nelson, meanwhile, touched Gibraltar,* then pro- 
ceeded north to join Cornwallis off Brest, and thence 
to England in his flagship Victory. Villeneuve, having 
picked up a few more ships at Ferrol, making his total 

* It was here that he recorded in his diary that he went on shore on 
July 20th — the first time for close on two years ! 


force twenty-nine sail, put into Cadiz,* off which CoUing- 
wood maintained a weary blockade of him. 

Early in September, news reached England that 
Villeneuve ^vas at Cadiz, and Nelson left Southsea Beach 
on September 14th, saihng next day. 

Collingwood, off Cadiz, had been reinforced up to 
twenty-four sail. A martinet officer of the old type, it 
is likely enough that had Villeneuve come out, he might 
have done something against the worn-out blockaders. 
The arrival of Nelson, on September 28th, changed all 
this. CoUingwood's red tape restrictions were counter- 
manded, and the spirit of the entire fleet changed 
accordingly. As usual, Nelson spared no effort to keep 
the men fit and healthy. 

On the 19th October, Villeneuve came out — driven 
thereto b}^ threats from Napoleon. As Napoleon had 
broken up his Boulogne camp on August 26th and by 
now had the greater part of that army in Germany, his 
forcing Villeneuve to sea is one of those mysteries which 
can never be fathomed. He acted in the teeth of naval 
advice, and there are few more pathetic pictures in history 
than the disgraced Villeneuve putting to sea to known 
certain defeat, endeavouring to fire his men with hope.f 

On the 20th October, the Franco-Spanish fleet was 
at sea with thirty-three ships of the fine, the British 
consisting of twenty-seven. Nelson let the enemy get 
clear of the land, and then on October 21st, attacked 
them off Trafalgar. 

• Hi.s onltTH were to j^o to : but liavin^ •if'cn friphfonod hy sorno 
pur»'ly mythical newH of u HritiHli Hc<>t of twciity-livt^ siiil (8<>i»t him ria a 
neutral Hhip), he went to Cfwliz. Ah, had lui ^ot to Hrost, ho would liavo 
found CornwalliH with thirty-fivi^ Hhips of t\ui linf, thirt pioco of pn-caution 
(whifh inf"i<lfiitly led to Trafaij^ar) saved hint for a whijiv 

t Hodji-Mtvi'nnky, w^oking to in.s|iirc ( lir Ualtitr fici't on its way to Tsualiinia, 
JH a close modurn parallel. 


Of this battle so much has been written that any 
detailed description here is superfluous. To this day, 
the historians dispute as to what the exact tactics were, 
and it is doubtful whether anything will ever get beyond 
Professor Laughton's summary in his Nelson. Here the 
most emphasis is laid on the fact that in his memorandum 
of October 9th, Nelson expected to handle forty ships 
against a still larger hostile force. All these matters are, 
however, but for the academicians. The main facts are 
that Nelson correctly gauged the inabihty and gunnery 
inefficiency of the enemy and sailed down on them in 
two hnes ahead, they lying in hne abreast — a position 
which, had they been able to shoot well, promised them 
victory better than any other. 

As an exhibition of tactics, Trafalgar was not even 
original — Rodney in the past had done something very 
similar. On no principle of " theory " was Nelson right. 
Simply and solely his genius lay in ability to calculate 
the human element, to lay his plans accordingly, and to 
achieve certain victory on that ! 

Villeneuve did all that was possible ; and several of 
the French ships fought with remarkable courage. But 
nothing could avail them against Nelson's understanding 
that it was quite safe to take this risk of sailing end-on 
into them and then overwhelming a part of them with 
superior numbers. 

After some four hours' fighting, eighteen of the 
enemy, including Villeneuve' s flagship, the Bucentaure, 
were captured, and the rest drew off. 

Nelson himself, within about twenty minutes of 
falling foul of the enemy, was mortally wounded by a 
musket shot from the tops of the 'Redoubtable. 


The losses to the aUied Franco-Spanish fleet at 
Trafalgar in killed and wounded were extraordinarily 
heavy, averaging something like 300 or more per ship. 
In one, the casualties amounted to five in every six. 
This enormous loss was due to the raking broadsides of 
the English vessels, which wrought terrible destruction. 

Nelson's last order had been to anchor. ColUngwood, 
on whom the command now devolved, saw no object in 
this ; to which is generally attributed the fact that most 
of the prizes were lost in a gale that followed the battle. 
Some were wrecked, some re-captured by the enemy 
off Cadiz, some destroyed to prevent re-capture. All 
told, only four of the eighteen prizes ever reached 
Gibraltar. These were the Swiftsure (an ex-British shiiD), 
and three of the Spaniards, Bahama, San Ildefonso, and 
San Juan Nepomuceno. All were old and worthless. 

From the battle, Dumanoir had escaped with four 
French ships. With these he made for the Mediterranean, 
but being intercepted by Sir R. Strachan, was compelled 
to surrender liis damaged ships after a short action. 
One of the captured ships, the Duguay Trouin, was 
re-named Implacable, and till quite recently was a 
training ship at Devonport. 

Altlioiigh some considerable Franco-Spanish naval 
force still existed, it was now so scattered in different 
parts, and so blockaded, that danger from it was no 
longer to be apprehended. In December, however, two 
divisions of the Brest fleet, the first consisting of five 
ships of the line and three other vessels, under Vicc- 
Adrniral T^issegues, and tlie second of six sliips of the line 
and four other vessels, under Rear- Admiral Willaumez, 
evaded the blockade. They were destined for the West 
Indies and the Cape respectively. On February 6th, 


1806, off San Domingo, Leissegues was met by Sir John 
Duckworth, and seven ships. Three of the French were 
captured and two others were run ashore and destroyed. 
Willaumez eventually reached the West Indies also, but 
did not accomplish anything of moment, and having lost 
four ships, finally returned to France. 

In 1806, the Bntish personnel was 120,000. Estimates 
£18,864,341. Fleet 551 ships, of which 104 were of the 
line. This year was mainly remarkable for the extra- 
ordinary inaction displayed by the French, who lay 
sheltered in creeks and inlets along the coast. However, 
some of their frigates were captured by boat attack. 

For 1807, the personnel was 120,000, afterwards 
increased to 130,000. Estimates £17,400,000. Seven 
hundred and six ships in service, 104 of them being of 
the Une. 

In this year a special system of education for ship- 
wright apprentices and the establishment of a school of 
naval architecture was recommended. It was not, 
however, until some years later that anything was 
actually done in this direction, the old haphazard system 
of construction being still followed. 

In this same year the " 18-gun brig-sloop " appeared, 
no less than twenty-five being ordered. These vessels 
were of about 380 tons, and carried sixteen thirty-two- 
pounder carronades and two long six-pounders. They 
were found to be extremely useful vessels. During this 
year the Turkish and Italian Navies were suspected of 
being likely to pass into the hands of France. Sir John 
Duckworth was, therefore, sent to Turkey with orders to 
force the Dardanelles and demand the surrender of the 
Turkish fleet to the British. Failing this he was to 
capture or destroy it and to bombard Constantinople. 


On the 19th of February, the fleet ran through 
the unprepared Dardanelles without much injury. 
It was fired on by a small Turkish squadron, most 
of the ships of which were destroyed. The neigh- 
bourhood of Constantinople was reached ; but the 
Turks refused to agree to what was demanded and 
busied themselves with strengthening the fortifications 
of the Dardanelles. 

On the 1st of March, Duckworth, having done 
nothing, save realise his awkward situation, came down 
through the Dardanelles, running the gauntlet of guns 
which threw stones weighing nearly half-a-ton, some 
considerable damage being done to such ships as were 
hit. These guns were, in some cases, holes bored in the 
rocks filled \vith powder and stones ; others were genuine 
" monster guns." 

Operations against Copenhagen, under Admiral 
Gambier, were opened on a considerably larger scale. 
He had under him eighteen ships of the line, forty lesser 
vessels and nearly 400 transports. This fleet arrived 
early in August, and demanded the surrender of the 
Danish Navy until such time as peace should come about, 
when it would be returned to its original owners. This 
being refused, troops were landed, and on the 1st of 
September, Copenhagen was bombarded and presently 
surrendered. Fifteen ships of the line and ten other 
vessels were given up, and one ship, which tried to 
escape, was captured. Three ships of the line were found 
building ; two of these were taken to pieces and carried 
away ; the third, being more nearly completed, was 
destroyed. All the naval stores were also brought away 
from the dockyard, necessitating the employment of no 
less than ninety-two of the transports. 


Only five of the prizes were considered worthy of 
taking into the British service. Of these, one was the 
Christian VII (eighty), of 2,131 tons. This ship was so 
good that four copies of her were built for the British 

In the winter of this year, Sir Sydney Smith, with 
nine ships of the fine, blockaded the Tagus and demanded 
the surrender of the Portuguese fleet, or else the 
retirement to South America of the Prince Regent, who 
naturally enough (and as had been expected) accepted 
the latter condition and went to South America with the 
bulk of his fleet. During the year, Curacoa was surprised 
and captured from the Dutch ; St. Thomas and Santa 
Croix were taken from the Danes. The French being 
now in possession of Portugal, Madeira was also taken 
possession of by the British. 

Losses to the extent of thirty-nine British ships 
were sustained during this year, mostly by wreck ; one 
sloop, two brigs and six cutters being the only ships 
captured by the enemy. At the end of 1807, Russia, 
which had hitherto been an ally, declared war, owing to 
the peace of Tilset. England, Austria and Sweden were 
thus at war with the rest of the continent. 

Russia had eleven ships of the line under Senyavin 
in the Mediterranean. Senyavin made a bolt for the 
Baltic with most of them, but having got as far as the 
Tagus found himself blockaded by Sir Sidney Smith. 

A squadron was sent under Samaurez to the Baltic 
in June to co-operate with the Swedes against the 
Russians who were in Rogerswick harbour. An attempt 
was made to destroy the entire Russian fleet, but owing 
to a strong boom the operation failed. The blockade 


was continued for two months, after which the British 
fleet retired. 

For 1808, the personnel was 130,000. Estimates, 
£18,087,500. Ships of the Navy, 842 ; of which 189 were 
of the hne. Of these, seventy-six were 74-gun ships. 

Napoleon had been steadily renovating his Navy 
ever since Trafalgar, and it now consisted of over sixty 
ships of the line, besides at least twenty others com- 

A certain increase of naval activity consequently 
ensued, and early in the year Admiral Ganteaume, with 
five ships of the line, escaped from Rochefort in a gale 
during the absence of the blockading fleet and succeeded 
in reaching Toulon. Here he was joined by five more 
ships of the Une and some frigates and transports. He 
sailed again and effected the rehef of Corfu and thence 
returned to Toulon. 

In August, the Russian Admiral, Senyavin, who all 
this time had been blockaded in the Tagus, offered to 
surrender his ships to the British on condition that they 
should be given back after the war and that he and his 
men should be free to return to Russia. These terms 
were agreed to. 

This year saw the launch of the Caledonia of 120 
guns, the largest ship yet built in England. She was of 
2,616 tons. An interesting item in connection with this 
ship is that she was designed and ordered to be laid 
down as long ago as 1794, but steps to build her were 
not taken until eighteen years later. 

For 1809, the personnel was 130,000. Estimates, 
£19,578,467. Ships of the Navy, 728; of which 113 
were of tlie lino. In tliis year the maintenance allowance 


of the British fleet, which had been £3 15s. Od. per man 
per month, was increased to £4 16s. Od. 

In February, owing to a gale, the British fleet 
blockading Brest had to withdraw ; and Willaumez 
came out with the object of collecting a few ships at 
Rochefort and Lorient, and then sailing to relieve 
Martinique. He was, however, found and blockaded in 
the Basque roads, and attack on him by fire-ships was 

In April, Lord Cochrane was sent out with a squadron 
to attack by fire-ships. Three of these were the special 
invention of Cochrane. The hold of each was filled with 
powder casks and sand, covered in with big booms and 
topped with hand grenades and rockets. 

On the 11th, Cochrane, leading the expedition with 
one of his " explosion vessels," went in to attack ; to 
discover that the enemy had anticipated things and 
built a boom. This, however, was struck by Cochrane' s 
vessel, which was then blown up, shattering the boom to 
pieces. The rest of the fire-ships came down through the 
gap, but were badly handled in the majority of cases, 
and no French ships were fallen on board of. The 
" explosion vessels " had, however, created such a panic 
that the French ships cut their cables and drifted ashore, 
except one ship, which was grappled with, but succeeded 
in disengaging. 

When day broke, the French ships were seen to be 
mostly ashore, and Cochrane urged immediate attack. 
Gambler, however, displayed considerable lack of energy, 
consequent on which many of the French got off. Three 
ships were, however, captured and destroyed, and two 
others were destroyed by the French themselves. 


Cochrane thought that it should have been possible 
to destroy the whole fleet, and made use of his being a 
Member of Parliament publicly to oppose the vote of 
thanks to Lord Gambler. Gambler then demanded a 
courtmartial, which was undoubtedly " packed." He 
was acquitted ; and Cochrane, one of the most brilliant 
officers of the Navy of that day, was compelled to leave 
the Service. Until his re-instatement, many years after- 
wards, he spent his career in the service of the revolting 
Spanish colonies in South America. 

Napoleon had long been fortifying and improving 
the Scheldt, and in 1809 the decision to destroy it was 
come to. The expedition, which left England on the 
28th July, consisted of thirty-seven ships of the hne, 
thirtj^-nine frigates or intermediates, fifty-four sloops or 
brigs, together with 400 transports, carrying 39,000 
troops, under the Earl of Chatham. The fleet was 
commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan. 

The object of the expedition was to destroy all ships 
there and demolish the dockyard and fortifications. 
But, owing to delays, the French had ample warning of 
the impending attack, and put all their ships up the river 
out of reach. It was also found impracticable to attack 
the dockyard or Antwerp. Flushing was therefore 
blockaded, and surrendered on the 15th August. One 
thirt3^-eight gun frigate was captured, and a frigate and 
a brig building in the dockyard were burned, while the 
timbers of a seventy-four gun ship that was building 
were carried away to Woolwich, and a shi[), afterwards 
named the Chatham, built from them. 

Walcheren was also captured. Twelve thousand 
troops were left garrisoning Walcheren. Of these, nearly 


half died of disease in the swamps, after which the place 
was evacuated. 

In October, a French squadron with transports 
sHpped out of Toulon during the absence of CoUingwood, 
who was blockading the port with fifteen ships of the line 
and a number of smaller vessels. On the evening of 
October 24th, three French ships of the line and a frigate 
were sighted and chased. On the following morning two 
of the ships of the hne were driven ashore, where their 
crew set fire to them and abandoned them ; the other 
ship of the Hne and the frigate managed to get into 
Cette, whence they subsequently got safely back to Toulon. 
Of the convoy, the transports and the smaller vessels, 
which had made up the rest of the French squadron, some 
were captured, the others ran into Spanish harbours and 
took shelter under the fortifications. Eleven of these had 
taken shelter at Rosas, and were cut out by boat attack. 

The remaining naval operations of the year were the 
capture of Senegal, Cayenne, and French Guiana. 

In the Baltic, the Russian fleet was blockaded. One 
or two boat actions were the only incidents of the year. 

For the year 1810, the 'personnel rose to 145,000, 
and the total estimates amounted to £18,975,120. The 
number of ships in commission were 108 ships of the hne 
and 556 lesser vessels. 

In the Mediterranean, Colhngwood resigned his 
command on account of ill-health, and died on his way 
back to England. He was succeeded by Sir Charles 
Cotton. There were no incidents of moment, for though 
the French had been busily building ships inside Toulon, 
the only use made of these was one or two small sorties 
when the blockading force happened to be weak. 


In the Channel, French frigates and large privateers 
were very active. Of the privateers, several were 
captured or destroj^ed, but the frigates held their own. 

Abroad, Guadalope was captured by a combined 
naval and military attack in a series of operations in the 

In July, Liie "^ japtured, and 

follo^Wng this an atic..- , then made on Mauritius, 

wliich was the head-quarters of a considerable French 
privateer fleet. The first attack was delivered by 
Captain Pym on Grand Port. He had with him four 
frigates. Two French frigates and two smaller vessels 
lay inside. 

On August 22nd, the first attempt was made, but 
owing to Captain Pym's ship, the Siriu.s, getting aground, 
it was delayed until next day. In the next day's attempt, 
both the Siritis and Magicienne ran aground, almost 
out of range. The other two ships, Iphigenia and 
Nereidey got in and drove the French ships ashore. 
Firing from them, however, still continued, and ultimately 
the Nereide had to surrender. The two British ships 
which had run ashore were blown up by orders of 
Captain Pym. The Iphigenia succeeded in getting out 
of the harbour \vith the crews of these two ships, but 
while warping out was surprised and also captured by 
another French squadron. The entire attack proved a 
failure. The incident is mainly of interest as being the 
only instance in the war in which a British squadron 
sustained defeat. 

Followinj^ upon this, a more serious attack was made 
on Mauritius ; 10,(X)0 troops were embarked, accompanied 
by one ship of the line and twelve frigates. A landing 


was effected at the end of November, and the island 
subsequently surrendered. 

In the Baltic, Sweden, which had hitherto been a 
British ally, joined the French side. The Russian fleet 
was still blockaded by Admiral Samaurez, but as the 
Tsar was known to be wavering in his allegiance to 
Napoleon, no actual hostilities took place against him, 
and during the greater part of the year British merchant 
ships freely traded with Russian ports. 

When peace was declared between England and 
Russia, the ships of Senyavin which had been captured 
in the Tagus were restored, but they contributed nothing 
to naval history. During the year, five frigates were 
captured from the French and two British frigates were 
captured by the enemy. British losses of the year included 
one ship of the Hne and seven 'frigates wrecked or blown 
up to prevent capture, as well as some smaller vessels. 

For the year 1811, the personnel remained at 145,000. 
The Estimates were £19,822,000, and the number of 
ships in commission were 107 of the line, and 513 of 
inferior rates. 

A considerable blockading squadron was still main- 
tained off Toulon, but the French ships there, though 
they occasionally came out into the Road, were extremely 
careful to avoid any engagement. 

On March 13th, a small battle, which took place off 
Lissa between six French frigates, accompanied b}^ five 
smaller vessels, under Dubourdieu, and a British squadron 
consisting of three frigates and a twenty-two gun ship, 
commanded by Captain William Hoste, indicates very 
clearly the inferiority to which the French fleet had 
fallen. One French ship was driven ashore and two 
others surrendered. 


This sort of thing was in no way unique, and a single 
ship action of the same year is an even more starthng 
example. The British sloop Atlanta (eighteen) met and 
engaged the Entrepennant (thirty-two). After an engage- 
ment lasting two-and-a-half hours the French frigate 
struck, having lost thirty men killed and wounded, the 
total loss to the British ship being only five men womided. 

In this year the island of Java was captured from 
the Dutch, and there were a number of small actions in 
the Channel, mostly the attacks of praames on small 
British ships. The total loss to the enemy consisted of 
three French frigates captured, two French frigates 
destroyed and one wrecked. Two Venetian frigates were 
also captured. The losses to the British Navy during the 
same period were much more heavy : three ships of the 
hne, five frigates and an eighteen-gun brig-sloop were 
wrecked. Three small ships were captured and various 
other small vessels became unserviceable, the total loss in 
these amounting to fifty-one. 

In January, 1811, the report of the Commission of 
1806 was first brought mto operation by the introduction 
of apprentices to be trained at the Royal Naval College, 
at Portsmouth. This was known as the School of Naval 
Architecture, and was the first genuine attempt at 
introducing science into naval construction. Students 
were given three days technical work a week and three 
days theoretical in mathematics and theory, under 
Dr. Inman. From the School of Naval Architecture the 
students were sent to the Navy Office, and also to the 
various dock3'ards, for the study of routine. Unfortunate- 
ly, however, the experiment was received with disfavour 
by many of the old-type of dockyard officer, witli the 
result that most of the students were either not proficient 


or else became disgusted and found employment 

For the year 1812, the personnel still remained at 
145,000. The Estimates were £19,305,759. Ships in 
commission amounted to 102 ships of the line and 482 
lesser vessels, with a certain number of ships in reserve. 
At and about this period various experimental ships 
were built, of which the most interesting was the floating 
battery Spanker. She was of somewhat amateur con- 
struction ; intended to carry guns of the largest size and 
mortars for bombardment and harbour defence. The 
main deck had an over-hang fitted with scuttles, down 
through which guns could be fired. The idea of this was, 
that supposing she were attacked by boats, these would 
go under the over-hang and very easily be destroyed. 
In practice, however, there was so much miscalculation 
that the over-hang was only a few inches above the 
water-line. The ship was also found to be so un- 
manageable that she was very shortly relegated to 
harbour service. 

The blockades of Toulon and the Scheldt were 
continued, but nothing of much naval interest took place. 
A small French squadron broke out of Lorient, but after 
cruising about for three weeks and making a few prizes, 
returned to Brest and was blockaded there. 

In the Baltic, peace was made with Sweden, and 
war definitely broke out between France and Russia, 
this being the war which culminated in Napoleon's 
disastrous invasion of Russia. 

In the Channel and in the Mediterranean a number 
of single ship actions took place, and one ship, the Rivoli 
(seventy-four), built at Venice for the French Navy, was 
captured. This particular ship held out for 4 J hours, and 


at the time of her surrender had only two guns left 
available and fifty per cent, of her crew were out of 
action. She was captured b}^ the Victorious (seventy-four). 

The most important naval event of the year was the 
American declaration of war against England. The war 
had been prepared for some time, and the American 
Navy, such as there was of it, was in a very efficient and 
up-to-date state. It contained no ships of the line, but 
a number of very heavily-armed frigates, manned by 
well-trained crews. In the single ship actions that 
ensued the Americans were almost invariably victorious. 

For the year 1813, the persoji7iel was 14,000 ; the 
Estimates £20,096,709. Ships in commission, 102 of the 
hne and 468 inferior vessels. The problem of meeting 
the American frigates was very seriously considered 
and a certain number of large ships were razeed with 
a view to meeting the American frigates on more even 

The most famous event of the year was the fight 
between the Shannon (British) and the C%esapeake 
(American). The former was rated at thirty-eight, but 
actually carried fifty-two guns. The latter was rated at 
thirty-six, but carried fifty. She had done well, but at 
the time of the fight had just been re-commissioned with 
a new crew, of whom a number were British deserters 
and some forty were Portuguese. The Shannon^ on the 
other hand, had been in commission for some years ; 
and Captain l^roke had assiduously trained his men in 
gunner}^ liaving anticipated the " dotter " of to-day. 

Being in this state of efficiency he came off Boston 
and sent in a challenge to the captain of the Chesapeake, 
Whether the challenge was actually received or not, the 
Chesapeake came out accompanied by yachts crowded 


with sightseers and a cargo of handcuffs for the anticipated 
British prisoners. 

Firing was not opened until the two frigates were 
only fifty yards apart. It lasted only about ten minutes, 
when the Chesapeake being almost blown to pieces, the 
Shannon fell aboard her and carried her by boarding in 
another five. 

The rest of the war with America, which lasted well 
on into 1815, is of no great naval interest except for the 
side issues involved. In a series of actions, the American 
big gun theory was triumphantly demonstrated, and 
more than once small British squadrons were wiped out. 
No material result, however, followed in consequence. 
On the other hand, Washington was attacked in 1814, 
and the public buildings burned, again without much 
material result. The real interest of the war hes in side 

The submarine appeared in this war, but the 
American authorities refused to give it any official 
sanction, and attempts made against British ships were 
by private individuals who had ignored the express 
orders of the American authorities. None of the 
experimenters were successful, but this was mainly a 
matter of luck. 

A matter of greater interest was the construction of 
an American war vessel, the Fulton. The Fulton — which 
was driven by a steam paddle in the centre of the vessel, 
and was armoured with wood so thick that none of the 
shot of the period could get through it, was armed with 
two 100-pounder guns on pivot mountings and carried 
a ram shaped bow — can undeniably lay claim to being 
the precursor of the Monitor or Merrimac, and also to 
being the first steam warship. She took too long to 


complete, however, to take any part in the war ; but had 
the war continued, few British ships could have survived 
her attacks, presuming her to have been seaworthy. 

To resume : 1813 as regards the French was not 
productive of much in the way of naval operations. 
The French had by now built so many new ships at 
Toulon that they were actually superior to the blockading 
British squadron. But they made no attempt to use 
this superiority, and nothing resulted except a few small 
skirmishes. A few insignificant captures were made on 
the British side. 

At the beginning of the year 1814, there were 
ninetj^-nine ships of the line in commission and 495 lesser 
vessels. The personnel amounted to 140,000, and the 
estimates £19,312,000. 

A number of single ship actions took place between 
frigates, and in most of these a considerable improvement 
in French efficiency was noted. Nothing, however, was 
done with the larger ships, and the war ultimately ended 
with the deportation of Napoleon to Elba. 

No sooner was peace declared than the fleet was 
greatly reduced and a large number of ships sold or 
broken up. Nineteen ships of the line and ninety-three 
other vessels were thus disposed of. The personnel for 
the year 1815 was reduced to 70,000 for the first three 
months and 90,000 for the remainder of the year. The 
estimates stood at £17,032,700, of which £2,000,000 
was for the payment of debts. 

The re-a])poarance of Napoleon and the events 
which culminated in the battle of Waterloo did not lead 
to any naval operations, and with the final deportation 
of Napoleon to St. Helena, a further reduction of the 
fleet took j)lace. The estimates sank to £10,114,345, and 
considerable reductions of officers and men were made. 



NAVAL uniform, as we understand it, first came into 
use for officers in the days of George II,* who so 
admired a blue and white costume of the Duchess 
of Bedford that he decided then and there to dress his 
naval officers in similar fashion. No very precise 
regulations were, however, followed, and for many years 
uniform was more or less optional or at the fancy of 
the captain. 

The first uniform consisted of a blue coat, with white 
cuffs and gold buttons. The waistcoat, breeches, and 
stockings were white. The hat was the ordinary three- 
cornered black hat of the period with some gold lace 
about it and a cockade. Other officers wore uniforms 
which were slight variants upon this : while as special 
distinguishing marks only the captain (if over three 
years' seniority) wore epaulettes upon both shoulders. 
A lieutenant wore one only. 

From time to time the uniform was altered slightly, 
mostly as regards the cuffs and lapels ; but enormous 
latitude was allowed, and some officers even dressed as 

* The British Tar in Fact and Fiction, Commander Robinson, R.N. 


There was no general uniform whatever for the men ; 
though circumstances led to the bulk of the men in any 
one ship being dressed more or less alike. 

This was the result of the " slop chest." This was 
introduced about tlie year 1650, and amounted to nothing 
more than a species of ready-made tailor ship at which 
men at their own expense could obtain articles of clothing. 
Later on it became compulsory for newly-joined men, 
whose clothes were defective, to purchase clothing on 
joining, to the tune of two months' pay. 

These articles being supplied to a ship wholesale, 
were naturally all alike, and so the men of one ship would 
all be more or less uniformly attired. Men of another ship 
might be dressed quite differently, though also more or 
less like each other. But any idea of uniform as 
" uniform," right up to Trafalgar, was entirel}^ confined 
to one or two dandy captains, and they mainly only 
considered their own boat's crews.* Some fearful and 
wonderful costumes of this kind are recorded. 

Uniform wearing of the " slop chest " variety was, 
however, always regarded as the badge of the pressed man 
and jail bird. The " prime seaman " who joined decently 
clad was allowed to wear his own clothes, and these were 
decided by fashion. There were dudes in the Navy in 
those days, and contemporary art records a good deal of 
variety. In our own day, when exactitude is at a 
premium, it has erred badly enough to depict bluejackets 
with moustachios.l In the old days it was probably 
even more careless still. Consequently everything as to 

• Vide Ahhoii'h boat's crow in HIh trip up to Canton. Somo captiiiiiH 
gpent a gofMl <Joal of inonoy in providing white shirtH for their lujut's crows. 
Others indulgfHl in purely fanciful attires. 

t A year or two a^o a farn(iiiH Koyal Academy pioturo showed a fleet of 
Drfa^liiouf^fits cruisinK at sea witli tijo steam trial water tanks on board ! 



the costume of men in the Nelson era required to be 
accepted with caution. It is, however, clear from the 
more reliable literary and descriptive sources that the 
dandy sailor existed very freely. The " prime seaman " 
loved to hall-mark himself by his costume. 

On board ship in dirty weather he wore anything and 
his best when coming up for punishment.* In a general 
way fashion always worked from the officers' uniform, 
with fancy additions. A natty blue jacket was the 
essential feature, with as many brass buttons as the owner 
could afford. A red or yellow waistcoat seems to have 
been a la mode. Trousers, preferably of white duck, but 
sometimes of blue, were also " the fancy." Sometimes 
these were striped. In all cases they were ample, free, 
and flowing, as they are at the present day. Convenience 
of tucking up on wet decks is the usual explanation ; 
but there is good reason to believe that idle fashion of 
the Nelson days had just as much or more to do with the 
modern bluejacket's trousers. 

The quaint little top hat of the midshipman was 
generally worn by the Lower Deck dandy. A pig tail 
was also a sine qua non during the period of the Second 
Great War. 

The origin of the pigtail is wrapped in some mystery. 
It has been variously ascribed to copying the French 
Navyf and to imitating the Marines, who wore wonder- 
fully greased pigtails at this period. 

To complete the rig the seamen used to decorate 
themselves with coloured ribbons let into their clothes. 

* To wear the smartest possible clothes on coming up for punishment was 
invariable routine. It was hoped that a smart appearance would mitigate 
the captain's wrath. — Vide, Sea Life in Nelson's Tiine, John Masefield. 

t To this day the British bluejacket calls himself a " matlo " — a corruption 
of the French matelot ; so this pigtail introduction theory may be correct 


They lived a hard life, and much has been written upon 
the subject. But the evidence generally tends to prove 
that the " prime seaman " as a rule had a far better time 
than those who (failing to recognise that conditions 
have altered to-day) appear to realise.* The lack of 
liberty, entailed by the presence of so many men who 
would assuredly desert on half a chance, was so general 
and so long-standing that it is doubtful whether it was 
felt to any really great extent. Customs cover most 

To our modern ideas the punishments afloat were 
horribly brutal ; but here again it is necessary to 
remember the difference in era. Floggings and kindred 
punishments were plentiful enough ashore ; and there is 
a good deal of evidence to indicate that they were taken 
as " all in the day's work afloat." The victim was usually 
" doped " by his messmates, who saved up part of their 
rum tots for the purpose, and the horrors of the cat have 
undoubtedly been somewhat exaggerated. It was un- 
deniably brutal and cruel ; but, to select a homely 
simile, so were dental methods a few years ago. Our 
fathers submitted to things in this direction which none 
of us would, or, for that matter, could stand nowadays. 
The bulk of contemporary evidence is that the (to our 
eyes) brutal punishments of the Navy of a hundred odd 
years ago were never regarded as serious grievances by 
those who stood to undergo tliem. 

The actual pjievances revolved entirely around the 
administration of undeserved i)unisliments. A certain 
number of captains misused their powers and prerogatives, 
but only a small percentage did so. At no time does the 
average captain appear to have been a brutal bully. 

* SwJ Food, tt ptigo or ho furtlnT on. 


This is, however, to be qualified by the midshipmen, of 
whom a certain number deUberately buUied men into 
doing things for which they got brutally punished 
afterwards. But outside this the conditions were by no 
means so horrible as generally depicted. The real 
sufferers were the pressed landsmen, who certainly 
learned to be seamen in a very hard school. 

It is necessary, however, even here to remember the 
times and the conditions. This view is borne out by the 
Great Mutiny. The mutineers, even at the Nore, never 
demanded the abolition of the cat. When trouble was 
connected with it in any Avay, it was over its unreasonable 
use, as, for instance, in the insensate flogging of the last 
two men off the rigging, which led to the Mutiny in the 
Hermione. This — which entailed punishing the smartest 
men since these had furthest to go — goaded the " prime 
seamen" to desperation and sympathy with the landsmen 
element afloat, which was ever in a semi-mutinous 
condition. It is impossible to hold that Captain Pigot 
of the Hermione did not deserve his fate. But Pigots 
were comparatively rare, and captains like Nelson by no 
means scarce. Nelson had no hesitation in flogging men, 
but he flogged justly, and no troubles ever occurred in 
any ship commanded by him. For that matter it was 
characteristic of the time that a captain might be a 
Tartar, and yet be quite popular with his crew so long 
as he was just. The " prime seamen " who formed the 
nucleus of the ship's company realised the necessity of 
severe measures and strict disciphne in order to tame 
the human ullage which made up the rest of the crew. 

In this connection it is interesting to note that 
towards the end of the period there began to creep in 


the commencement of a later classification of ratings not 
liable to corporal punishment. 

Had Ufe afloat in the days of the Great War been 
quite as terrible as it is often depicted as having been, 
the volunteer element of trained seamen could hardly 
have existed, nor could the glamour of the sea have 
brought so many raw volunteers as it did. When a ship 
was commissioned, the first step was advertising for men. 
The advertisements were specious and alluring enough ; 
but the captain's character generally had most influence 
on the response ; and all the essential seamen element, 
unless they had spent all their money, were pretty wary 
as to who they shipped with. 

To be sure it did not take the seaman long to lose his 
money. On a ship paj^ing off he received a considerable 
accumulated sum, and every kind of shark and harpy was 
on the lookout to reUeve him of it. He got gloriously 
drunk and so remained while the money lasted, and in 
this condition the press-gang often got him. 

The press-gang was a legalised form of naval 
conscription. In tlieory any seafaring man who could 
be laid hands on might be taken ; in practice all was 
fish that came to the press-gang's net. 

The press-gang, armed with cudgels and cutlasses, 
used to operate at night, generally in the naval towns,* 
but at times also further afield. It laid hands upon all 
and sundry, hitting them over the head if they resisted. 

A cargo secured, the men were taken on board and 
kept between decks under an armed guard pending 
examination by the captain and surgeon. Certain people, 
such as apprentices or some merchant seamen, were 

• Th« curifjuH, who wander into th<» by-lanon off Quoon Strcot, Portsoa, 
will Htill find hwivy iron gaU;H in plaww. Insido these gutca thoHC anxious 
to «8Cupo tho prc;8agangn uwxl to take rofugo. 


exempt and had to be liberated. Badly diseased men 
were also let loose again. Verminous and dirty folk were 
scrubbed with a brutality which created subsequent 
cleanly habits. Their clothes were either fumigated or 
else thrown away altogether, and fresh clothing supplied 
from the *' slop chest " at so much off their pay. 

If witliin a fortnight the pressed man cared to call 
himself a volunteer he received a bounty ; but, whether 
he volunteered* or not, once aboard the ship there he 
remained till death or the paying off of the ship years 
later. It was this confinement to the ship which led to 
so much agitation, and was made one of the principal 
grievances of the mutineers at Spithead. 

On the side of the authorities it has to be remembered 
that had any man been allowed ashore he would certainly 
never have been seen again, at any rate, so long as he 
had any mone}'. In most fleets also, an attempt at a 
substitute was made by allowing ship to ship visiting. 
Such visits invariably resulted in drunken bouts and sub- 
sequent floggings. Nelson went further — he instituted 
theatricals on shipboard. It is generally clear that — very 
crudely, of course — the authorities were not blind to the 
desirability of relieving the tedium of imprisonment on 
board ship. 

The feeding of the men in the days of the Great War 
is generally considered to have been villainous. It was 
one of the causes of the Mutiny ; but there is some reason 
to believe that it was not invariably bad. Rodney's 
fleet is said to have been excellently provisioned, and 
much of what has been written about " thieving pursers " 
in the past is now known to be mythical. It was a 
classical legend that the purser stole and swindled with 

* The " bounty " offered, however, was a decided inducement. Cases of 
bounties as high as £70 can be found. 


bad food. He might do so, and many did. But all did 
not, either from honesty or because they did not get the 
chance. Under Nelson or Rodney an unscrupulous 
purser stood to have a ver}^ bad time indeed, and there 
were others very keenly ahve to the fact that good feeding 
and efficiency went hand in hand. The bad food at the 
time of the mutinies seem to have been a feature of that 
particular time, and even so due rather to mismanagement 
than much else. For the rest, the real culprits were 
economists on shore, who had no connection whatever 
with the Fleet, and were merely interested in husbanding 
the financial resources of the country. 

The provisions as made were almost uniformly good, 
and the stories of unscrupulous contractors who, in league 
with the pursers, foisted inferior food on the Fleet, may 
mostly be dismissed. Such cases occurred now and again, 
but comparatively rarely. " Rogues in authority " were 
mainly mythical. There are yarns by the score. There 
are corresponding yarns to-day, quite as plentiful, which 
the careless historian of the future will no doubt swallow. 
For example, at the present day it is an article of faith 
with every bluejacket that the first lieutenant pockets odd 
sixpences out of the canteen, and nothing ever can or 
ever will remove the impression. 

It is absolutely absurd ; but within the last ten 
years I have had it chapter and verse all about the 
poculation of Is. 4d. by a first lieutenant whose private 
income ran well into five figures ! It is a sea-legend so 
hoary that bluejackets honour it, no matter how 
ridiculously imjjrobable. The purser of the days of the 
Creat War was not ])crliaps entirely clean handed, but 
as Commander Robinson has pointed out,* even at the 

• The Britiah Tar in Fact and Fiction. 


Spithead Mutiny, when the provision question was very 
much to the fore, the mutineers did not complain of the 
purser, but of the system and regulations. It was 
people on shore, not the man afloat, who, when it came 
to the point, mixed up the instrument with the handlers 

The Spithead trouble, which was purely naval (the 
Nore Mutiny was more or less political) arose entirely, so 
far as food was concerned, out of the economists already 
referred to. Vast stores of provisions had been accumu- 
lated, and many were going bad. Pursers received very 
strict orders to use up the old " likely to decay soon " 
before touching the new. The result was the issue of 
decayed pork, stinking cheese, and mildewed biscuits to 
an unprecedented degree. A badness that had hitherto 
been more or less occasional chanced just about the 
Mutiny period to be general. 

The men were by no means starved or badly fed, 
presuming the food to be good. The usual scale was 
somewhat as follows : — A daily issue of a pound of biscuit 
and a gallon of beer or else pint of wine ; and when 
these were exhausted, one gill of Navy rum diluted with 
three of water twice a day. On Tuesdays and Saturdays 
an issue of 21bs. of beef was made ; on Sundays and 
Thursdays lib. of pork. Over the week the issue of 
other articles was 21bs. pease, IJlbs. oatmeal, 6ozs. of 
butter, an equal amount of sugar, and 12ozs. of cheese 
and half-a-pint of vinegar nominally j^er man ; but 
actually every four men took the provisions of six. Nine 
pounds of meat a week could hardly be called starvation 
fare even to-day, and in those times it was an extra- 
ordinarily liberal diet for men who at home would not 


have had anything hke it.* Except in cases with 
admirals hke Colhngwood (who in the matter of under- 
standing the ratio of heahh to efficiency was about the 
most incompetent admiral the British Navy ever had), it 
was generally seen to that, whenever possible, fresh 
provision's could be purchased from traders who regularly 
visited blockading fleets. 

Furthermore, rations were normally varied so far as 
circumstances would permit, and when possible fresh beef 
and mutton were substituted for the salt meat allowance. 
Nelson went to almost extravagant lengths in these 
directions ; but the majority of other officers were not 
far behind. Whatever hell the Lower Deck of the Fleet 
entailed, the blame in hardly any case lay with the 
officers, executive or otherwise, but entirely with civihan 
officials and Members of Parliament with ideas of their 
own about economy. All the reliable evidence is to the 
effect that the responsible authorities desired their 
fighting men to live (relatively speaking) hke fighting 
cocks, that the difference between the ideal and the real 
was due to civilian influence, and that even so it was 
only really thoroughly bad just before the Great Mutiny. 
Had it been a regular thing the Mutinies would probably 
never have happened, the men would have been too used 
to the conditions to find in them a special cause of 

Tlic whole trouble in messing in the old days arose 
out of quality, not quantity. The beef and pork were 
almost invariably bad, owing to the system of using up 
the old i)rovisions first, with a view to economy. Every 
ship carried tons of good provisions going bad, while 

♦ Thero are WcHt Country villap;o(i to-day in whioh, to my own knowledge, 
one jjouiid of nrn-ut u w<*<;k i^ an outflido ostimatu of what in natoii por hoad. 


those already bad and decayed were being consumed. 
Consequently the men starved in the midst of relative 

It remains to add that the officers fared little 
better.* On the whole, taking their general shore food 
into consideration, it may be argued that they fared 
worse. As a rule, they had to eat what the men ate, 
a fact too often forgotten by those who believe that the 
officers of those days generally peculated on provisions 
for the men. 

Both aft and forward there was one consolation. 
Liquor was plentiful enough for anyone who wanted to 
be half seas over by eventime. So was the hard Hfe 
lived, with an occasional battle to break the monotony. 

To both officers and men battle seems to have been 
the " beano " of to-day. Conditions on board were not 
rosy enough to make life worth clinging to, while battle 
meant a good time afterwards to those who got through 
unscathed. There was only one terror — being wounded. 
The horrors of the cockpit are beyond exaggeration. 
The surgeons did their best. They were poorly paid 
menf and expected to find their own instruments : only if 
thej^ could not did they borrow tools from the carpenter. J 

They heated their instruments before use so as 
to lessen the shock of amputation ; they doped their 
patients with wine or spirit so far as might be. They 

* There were those who accepted weevils in ship's biscuits as mites in 
(rorgonzola cheese are accepted to-day ! Unpalatable as ship's biscuit is, 
there is a certain acquired taste about it. In the later nineties I have 
frequently seen it handed round as a species of dessert in the wardroom, 
every senior officer taking some and enjoying it. In the 1890 manoeuvres 
the wardroom officers of " C fleet " did three weeks on " ships " only, in 
quite a casual way, though the quality even then left something to be desired. 

I They began at 4s. a day, working up to lis. a day after six years, and 
188. a day at twenty years' service, which few ever reached. 

i For extremely detailed accounts of surgery in action see Sea Life in 
Nelson' H Times, John Masefield. 





^ v^ w- 




took all as they came in turn, whether officer or man. 
If anyone seemed too badly wounded to be worth 
attention they had him taken above and thrown 
overboard. If, at a hasty glance, taking off an arm or 
a leg, or both, seemed likely to promise a cure, they gave 
the wounded man a tot of rum and a bit of leather to 
chew, and set to work ! The wounded who survived 
were treated with a humanity which makes the " more 
humanity to the wounded " of the Spithead mutineers a 
little difticult to understand at first sight. They were 
fed on delicacies ; and anything out of the ordinary on 
the wardroom table was always sent to them. They 
also got all the officers' wine. 

On the other hand, time in the sick bay was de- 
ducted from their pay,* and the}^ were liable to all kinds 
of infectious diseases caught from the last patient. 

To satisfy the demands of the economists, lint was 
forbidden and sponges restricted, so that a single sponge 
might have to serve for a dozen wounded men. Blood- 
poisoning was thus indiscriminately spread, and a 
wounded man thus infected with the worst form of it, 
was mulcted in his pay for medicines required. When 
the Spithead mutineers demanded " more humanity to 
the wounded " those were the things that probably 
they had in mind. It has further to be remembered that 
a man wounded too badly to be of any further use afloat 
was flung aslioro without })ension or mercy. The 
surgeons were fully as humane as their brethren ashore, 
I)ossibly mucli more so, from the mere fact that any 
community of men flung together to sink or swim together 
compels common sym[)athies. To the men the ])ur8er 

* A form of tliiH rulf oxiMtri today. A riiiin wrmndiMl in action is not now 
mulct<'d ; l)Ut h man who tuinhlcH down a hatcliway and hroakH hin !(>>? haa to 
auiler " hoHjjital HtoppagoH," und " i)ay for Iuh own euro," to u cortuin oxttmt. 


was classically a thief, the surgeon a callous brute, the 
officers generally brutes of another kind. This cheap 
view of the situation has been perpetuated ad lib. But 
all the best evidence is to the effect that, as a rule, and 
save in exceptional cases, most of those on board a war- 
ship pulled together, and that all strove to make the best 
of things. Things to be made the best of were few, 
no doubt, and the grumblers and growlers are the folk 
who have left most records. Allowing for the different 
era, similar growls can be found to-day. To-day the 
contented man says nothing ; the discontented says a 
Httle, and outside sympathisers say a great deal. The 
truth probably lies with the actually discontented's 
version somewhat discounted. In the days of the Great 
War, the same fact probably obtained. Unquestionably 
the seaman proper loved the sea and his duty, despite all 
hardships and drawbacks. To this fact is to be attributed 
the easy victories of the Great Wars, and, relatively to 
corresponding shore hfe, sea life afloat can hardly have 
been quite so black as most people delight to paint it.* 
The pay of the Navy of the period remains to be 
mentioned. It ran as follows : — 

Captain — 6s. to 25s. a day, according to the ship, plus 
a variety of allowances. 

Midshipmen — £2 to £2 15s. 6d. a month. 

Surgeons — lis. to 18s. a day, with half -pay when 

Assistant-Surgeons — 4s. and 5s., with half -pay when 

Chaplains — about 8s. 6d. a day, "with allowances. 

* Commander Robinson, R.N., in The British Tar in Fact arid Fiction, 
seems to have got nearer the true picture than those who have painted 
things in darker and more lurid colours. He is practically the only writer 
upon the subject who has realised that many old yarns are capable of being 


Schoolmasters — £2 to £2 8s. a month, with bounties. 

Boatswains — £3 to £4 16s. a month. 

Boatswain's Mate — £2 5s. 6d. a month. 

Gunner— £1 16s. to £2 2s. a month. 

Carpenter — £3 to £5 16s. a month, according to the 

Quartermaster — £2 5s. 6d. a month. 

Sailmaker — £2 5s. 6d. a month. 

Saihnaker's Assistant — £1 18s. 6d. a month. 

Master-at-Arms— £2 Os. 6d. to £2 15s. 6d. a month. 

Ship's Corporals — £2 2s. 6d. a month. 

Cook — lis. 8d. a month and pickings. 

Able Seaman — lis. a month (33s. a month after 1797). 

Ordinary Seaman — 9s. a month (25s. 6d. a month after 

Landsman — 7s. 6d. a month (23s. a month after 1797). 

Ship's Boy — 13s. to 13s. 6d. a month. 

As a rule the men received their pa}^ in a lump when 
the ship paid off. Hence those extraordinary scenes of 
dissipation with which the story books have made us 
sufficiently familiar. Jews* and women soon fleeced the 
Tar, who was generally too drunk to know what he was 
doing, there being dozens of willing hands ready to see 
to it that he was well phed with liquor. 


In the year 1800 the Union flag was altered to its 
present form by the incor[)oration of the red cross of St. 
Patrick. This flag, the Union Jack, was used for flying 
on the bowsprit,! and at the main masthead by an 
Admiral of the Fleet. To hoist it correctly, i.e., right 

• It is only fair to the Hf^n-w roco to sjiy that "Jew" woh a generic 
term for a Hpocial typo of p<THon who j^row rich on advancing money to 
HailofH and wiling th<>fn hhoddy articles at ridiculously enhanced prices. 
Quit*i a lart'c nutnher cif thi'm were not of the Jcwisli race. 

f To-day this iw flown at tlio how only when a ship is at anchor. 


side up, was a special point of importance in the Fleet 
of Nelson's day, and many a foreigner seeking to use 
British colours got bowled out from hoisting the flag 
incorrectly, i.e., without the greater width of white being 
uppermost in the inner canton nearest the staff. To this 
day many people on shore do the same. 

The ensign was coloured according as to whether the 
Admiral was " of the white," " blue," or " red." It was 
flown, as till quite recently, from the mizzen peak. 

For battle purposes this variety ensign died out after 
Trafalgar, where, in order to avoid confusion, Nelson 
ordered all ships to fly the w^hite ensign — he himself 
being a Vice-Admiral of the white, while Collingwood was 
Vice- Admiral of the blue. Trafalgar was thus the first 
battle to be fought deliberately under the white ensign. 



IN 1816 took place the bombardment of Algiers, 
^^•hereb3^ 1,200 Europeans who were in slavery 
were released. None of these, however, proved 
to be British subjects. A noticeable feature of the 
bombardment was the heavy damage done by the large 
ships engaged. 

For the year 1817 the personnel stood at 21,000 only. 
Ships in commission were fourteen of the line and 100 
lesser craft. Two hundred and sixty-three (of which 
eighty-four were of the line) were laid up " in ordinary " 
and the remaining ships were condemned. 

In this year a new rating of ships was introduced. 
Up till now the carronades had not been included in the 
armament of ships. Under the new rating they were 
included, and so the thirty-eight gun ship actually 
carrying fifty-two guns appeared for the first time with 
her proper armament. 

Althougli the Navy was so reduced, considerable 
attention was paid to shipbuilding and improvement of 
construction. Trussed frames were introduced, and a 
variety of other inventions which had long been in use 
in France. Much attention was [)aid to the strong 
construction of the bow, with a view to resisting raking 
fire.* Sterns were also made circular to enable more 

* At 'JVafulgar, tho Victor;/, iis hIi<> horo down, sulTcrod iiouvily fruui tho 
Hhot that f)fiiftrut<-<J Ii't Uiiii forwiird ImlUhoad. 


guns to bear aft. A curious objection to this was made 
on the grounds that in time of war it was the enemy 
who would be in retreat and most in need of stern fire, 
and that by the introduction of this into the British 
Navy the enemy would copy and so have the advantage 
of being better able to defend himself than heretofore ! 
It was, however, pointed out that perhaps war vessels 
propelled by steam might be met with in blockades, and 
that it would be extremely important to sail away from 
these and be able to destroy them while so doing ! 

The years 1818 and 1819 passed uneventfully. The 
personnel was 20,000, and the estimates averaged 
between six and seven million pounds. They remained 
at about this figure for several years, and beyond some 
slight operations in Burmah, in 1824, the British Navy 
performed no war services till the year 1827. In the 
Burmese operations, the Diana, a small steam paddle 
vessel took part. It is also of some interest to record 
that Captain Marryat, the naval novelist, commanded 
the Lome (twenty) in these operations. 

In 1827, the combined fleets of England, France 
and Russia met those of the Turks and Egyptians at 
Navarino, in connection with the war between Turkey 
and Greece. The allied fleet consisted as follows : — 

j Three ships of the line. 
BRITISH . Four frigates. 

I Several other vessels. 

r Three ships of the line. 
FRENCH I Two lesser vessels. 

( Two schooners. 
RUSSIAN ( Four ships of the line. 

\ i our frigates. 
The combined Turko-Egyptian fleet consisted of 
three ships of the line, fifteen large frigates, eighteen 
corvettes, and a number of gun-boats, etc. 


The Turkish fleet was anchored in the harbour. The 
combined fleet sailed into the harbour and anchored to 
leeward of the Turks. These fired upon some Enghsh 
boats and a general action ensued, in which the greater 
part of the Turko-Eg3'ptian fleet was destroyed with the 
loss of somewhere about 4,000 men. The AUies lost 650, 
and the principal Enghsh ships were so damaged that 
they had to be sent home for repairs. 

At and about this time, and right on for some years, 
an enormous number of experiments were carried out 
between ship and ship with a view to improving the 
saiUng qualities, and side by side with this, the question 
of propulsion other than by sail was first seriously 
considered. A certain number of small steam tugs had 
been added to the Navy, there being no less than twenty- 
two such built in the reign of George IV. Of these the 
largest was built in 1835. Very Httle rehance was placed 
on steam at first for any possibihties outside towing and 
harbour work, and a great deal of energy was expended 
in devices to enable ships to be moved by manual labour. 
In place of the " sweeps " of ancient history, paddles were 
fitted, and in 1829 the Galatea (forty-two) frigate was 
thus moved at a speed of three knots in a dead calm. 

The Galatea was commanded by Captain, afterwards 
Admiral Sir Charles, Napier, who so long ago as 1819 
had been concerned in financing an unsuccessful attempt 
to run iron steamers on the Seine. The first ship in 
which hand i)addles were tried was the Active, frigate. 
No success was met with, but Napier evolved a different 
system for the Galatea. Those of the Active were worked 
by the capstan ; Naj)icT installed a scries of winches 
along eacli side of the main deck. It took about two- 
thirds of the ship's comi)any to work them. 



The earliest known use of steam was as long ago as 
in the year 1543. The account of it was in the original 
records which had been preserved in the Royal Archives 
of Simancas, among the State Papers of the city of 
Catalonia, and those of the Naval Secretary of War, in 
the year 1543, and was extracted on the 27th August, 1825, 
by the keeper, who signed his name " Tomas Gonzalez." 

The inventor, a naval ofHcer named Garay, never 
revealed the secret of his invention, but mention is made 
of a " cauldron of boiling water " and " wheels of 
comphcated movement on each side of the vessel." He 
succeeded in obtaining a speed of " two leagues in three 
hours," also " at least a league an hour " with his device, 
fitted to a 200-ton vessel named Trinidad.'^ Honours 
were bestowed on Garay, but the monarch who had 
patronised him, being busy with other matters, did not 
follow up the invention. Otherwise much naval history 
might have been different from what it is. 

In 1736, Jonathan Hulls took out a patent in 
England for a stern wheel. It should be remembered 
that at this time the question of means of propulsion 
other than by sail was eagerly considered, and that 
paddles came to be tried in the place of oars, mth a view 
to more continuity of action. Steam ideas somewhat 
trended to the idea of sucking water in forward and 
ejecting it aft. The screw propeller also was known 
certainly at as early a date as the paddle. 

In 1789, a sixty-feet boat was driven for nearly seven 
miles an hour with a twelve horse-power engine, but 
for a very long time nothing was expected except canal 
work and towing. Even as steam progressed, it did so 
in the merchant service first. 

* Ex Fincham, where the report is given in full. 


By the year 1818, however, the Americans had built 
a sea-going steamer, Savannah, which crossed the Atlantic 
to Russia. On her return voyage the United States was 
reached twenty-five days after leaving Norway. 

In England, in the year 1821, a steam mail service, 
between Holyhead and Dublin, was established, and in 
1823 a steam mail service between England and India 
was seriously asked for, and in 1829 the subject again 
came upon the tapis. 

In 1839, the steam liner Great Britain, was laid down. 
She was 322 feet long overall and a beam of fifty-one 
feet, and a displacement of 2,984 tons, with 1,000 
horse-power. It was originally intended to make her a 
paddle-vessel. Instead of that, however, she was made a 
screw-steamer, and made her first trip in December, 1844, 
when she succeeded in exceeding her anticipated speed. 
This serious attention to steam in the mercantile 
marine naturally attracted considerable interest in 
the Navy, the more so as two naval officers. Captains 
Chappel and Claxton, were the principal promoters of 
the mercantile enterprises. It was, however, generally 
pointed out that useful as steam might be for such 
purposes, it was unsuitable for warships proper, on 
account of the liability of the machinery to damage, and 
the practical impossibility of combining paddles with 
sailing. It was laid down that the first essential of a 
warship was to be able to sail, that if steam power 
could be usefully applied as an auxihary it might be 
" desirable." 

After considerable experiments and investigations, 
it was found ])osHil)le to j)lace the macliincry under the 
water-line, but the paddle-wheels were still exposed, and 


the armament space available was so slight that steam 
did not gain much favour. 

The first steam vessel actually brought into the 
British service was the Monkey, built about the year 1821. 
She was bought into the service and used as a tug. 

In the following year, the Comet was specially built 
for the packet service,* but none of these were steam 

In 1843, the success of the Great Britain influenced 
the Admiralty, and the Penelope (forty-six) was cut 
apart and lengthened by sixty-five feet, and had engines 
of 650 horse-power fitted to her. 

In 1844, the Earl of Dundonald (Cochrane) submitted 
plans to the Admiralty for a steamer of 760 tons, called 
the Janus. This vessel was built with an engine of his 
own design, but as this was a failure, ordinary engines 
were fitted. 

In all these steamers the gun-fire was chiefly end-on, 
but in 1845 the Odin and the Sidon, especially designed 
for broadside fire, were put in hand. 

So long ago as the year 1825, the paddle was 
recognised as a source of danger for warships, and in 
that year a two-blade propeller, designed by Commander 
Samuel Brown, was accepted. 

In 1836, Ericsson (subsequently to be of Monitor 
fame) patented some propellers in England, but as he 
met with very little sympathy from the authorities, he 
retired to America. The main objections to the propeller 
appears not to have been due to any lack of appreciation 
so much as opposition from those who had invested 
heavily in paddle-propulsion plant. 

*The mail packet service was under the Admiralty in those days. 


In 1842, however, the Admiralty seriously took the 
question up. The Rattler, of 777 tons, and 200-horse- 
power, was lashed stern-to-stern with the paddle-yacht 
Electro of the same displacement and horse-power. Both 
ships were driven away from each other at full speed, 
and the Rattler succeeded in towing the Electro after her. 
After this, in 1844, a screw frigate, the Dauntless, was 
ordered to be constructed ; but as late as the year 1850, 
steam was merely regarded as an auxihary, and received 
little or no consideration outside that. 

The use of iron instead of oak as a material for 
shipbuilding was first seriously considered about the year 
1800. In 1821, an iron steamer was in existence, and 
in 1839 the Dover was ordered to be built for Government 
service as a steam packet. In 1841, the Mohawk was 
ordered by the Admiralty for service on Lake Huron, but 
the first iron warship for the Royal Navy proper was the 
Trident, of 1850 tons and 300 horse-power, built at 
Blackwall, by Admiralty orders, in 1843. 

Iron, as a material for warship construction, was 
looked on \vith considerable suspicion, both in England 
and in France. Experiments were conducted at Woolwich 
with some plates rivetted together like the sides of an 
iron ship, these plates being lined inside with cork and 
india-rubber (the first idea of a cofferdam). It was 
expected that this preparation, which was known as 
" kamptulicon," would close up after shot had passed 
through and prevent ingress of water. This was found 
to be quite correct, but the egress of shot on the other 
side had quite the opposite result. The plates were 
sometimes packed with wood and sometimes cased with 
it, but the general result of tlie experiments was held 


prejudicial to the use of iron, which was supposed to 
spHnter unduly compared to wood. 

The importance of deciding whether warships should 
be built of iron or wood was accentuated by the necessity 
of replacing those heavy warships which had been 
converted to auxiliary steam vessels. All such proved to 
be cramped in stowage and bad sea boats. 

So long ago as 1822 shell-guns had been adopted. 
Consequently, in the experiments as regards iron, shell- 
fire had to be taken into consideration. 

In 1842, experiments were made with iron plates 
three-eighths of an inch thick, rivetted together to make 
a total thickness of six inches. It was, however, reported 
that at 400 yards these were not proof against eight-inch 
guns or heavy thirty-two pounders. These matters were 
taken into consideration by Captain Chads, whose official 
report was as follows : — 

" The shot going through the exposed or near side generally 
makes a clean smooth hole of its own size, which might be readily 
stopped ; and even where it strikes a rib it has much the same 
effect ; but on the opposite side all the mischief occurs ; the shot 
meets with so little resistance that it must inevitably go through 
the vessel, and should it strike on a rib on the opposite side the 
effect is terrific, tearing off the iron sheets to a very considerable 
extent ; and even those shot that go clean through the fracture being 
on the off side, the rough edges are outside the vessel, precluding 
the possibility almost of stopping them. 

" As it is most probable that steam vessels will engage directly 
end-on I have thought it desirable to try to-day what the effect of 
shot would be on this vessel* so placed, and it has been such as 
might be expected, each shot cutting aways the ribs, and tearing 
the iron plates away sufficient to sink the vessel in an instant." 

In 1849 an official report stated that : — 
" Shot of every description in passing through iron makes such 
large holes that the material is improper for the bottom of ships. 
* The seventy-three ton iron steamboat Ruby. 

= C 


" Iron and oak of equal Meiglit offering equal resistance to shot, 
iron for the topsides affords better protection for the men than oak, 
as the splinters from it are not so destructive. 

" Iron offering no lodgment for shells in passing through the side, 
if made with single plates it will be free from the destructive effects 
that would occur by a shell exploding in a side of timber." 

Certain modifications were then introduced and 
tried in the year 1850, and Captain Chad's report was 

that :— 

•' With high charges the splinters from the shot were as numerous 
and as severe as before, with the addition in this, and in the former 
case, of the evils that other vessels are subject to, that of the 
splinters from the timber. 

" From these circumstances I am confirmed in the opinion that 
iron cannot be beneficially employed as a material for the construction 
of vessels of war." 

As a result of this report, seventeen iron ships which 

were building, the largest being the Simoon, of nearly 
2,000 tons, were condemned ; and it was definitely 
decided that ships must be built of wood, and that iron 
in any form was disadvantageous. 

The advantages of the shell were fully understood, 
and at least half of the guns of the ships of the line of 
the period were sixty-five cwt. shell guns. Experiments 
had fully taught what shell-fire might be expected to 
accomplish. General Paixham, the inventor of the 
shell gun, had long ago stated that armour was the only 
antidote to shell, and the fact that armour up to six 
inches had been experimented with indicates that this 
also was understood. Between the appreciation of the 
fact and acting upon it, there was, however, a decided 
gulf. In the British Navy, as in others also, the natural 
conservatism of the sea held its usual sway. 

Matters were at about this stage when, in the year 
1853, the Russian Admiral Nachimoif, with a fleet con- 
sisting of six shi[)H of ll)(> lin<', ciiterrd the harbour of 


Sinope, on the 30th November, 1853, and absolutely 
annihilated, by shell fire, a Turkish squadron of seven 
frigates which were lying there. The damage wrought 
by this shell-fire was terrific. " For God's sake keep out 
the shells ! " is generally believed to have been the cry of 
most naval officers about that period, though there is 
some lack of evidence as to whether this demand was 
ever actually made, except by the Press. The terrible 
effect of shell-fire was, however, obvious enough ; but as 
stated above it was really well-known before the war test 
that so impressed the world. 

Wlien the Crimean War broke out in 1854, the 
British personnel stood at 45,500, and the Estimates 
were £7,197,804. On the 28th March, war was formally 
declared. Naval operations in the Crimean war were 
almost entirely of secondary note. Some frigates 
bombarded Odessa, in April, and a certain amount of 
damage was done along the Caucasian coast. 

In September, the British fleet, consisting of ten ships 
of the line, two frigates and thirteen armed steamers, 
convoyed an enormous fleet of Turkish and French war- 
ships crammed with troops for an attack on Sebastopol. 
The Russian fleet lay inside that harbour and made no 
attempt whatever to destroy the invading flotilla, though 
it might easily have done considerable mischief, if not 
more. Instead of that, the ships were sunk at the 
entrance of the harbour, and the siege of Sebastopol 
presently commenced. On October 17th, the Alhed fleet 
attempted to bombard Fort Constantine, but the ships 
were soon defeated by the shore defences and many of 
them badly injured. 

The French, who had formed somewhat more favour- 
able opinions of iron armour than we had, had, after 


Sinope, already commenced the construction of five 
floating batteries which were to carry armour. They 
were wooden ships of 1,400 tons displacement, with four- 
inch armour over their hulls. They carried eighteen 
fifty-pounder guns and a crew of 320. As originall}'- 
designed they were intended to sail, although the}^ were 
fitted with shght auxiliary steam power. When com- 
pleted they were found unable to sail, so pole masts were 
fitted to them. Artificial ventilation was also supplied 
and their funnels were made telescopic. The designs of 
these vessels were sent to the British Admiralty, who, 
after considerable delay, built four copies, the Glutton, 
Meteor, Thunder, and Trusty. These, however, were not 
completed in time to take any part in the war. 

So soon as the French armoured batteries were ready 
they were sent out to the Crimea, where they joined a 
large fleet which had been ])repared to attack Kinburn, 
which was bombarded in October, 1855. In a very short 
while the forts were totally destroyed, and with very 
small loss to the armoured batteries. The effect created 
by this was so great that four more armoured batteries 
were ordered in England, the Etna, Erebus, Terror, and 

In the Baltic, to which a British fleet, under 
Admiral Napier, had been sent, the Russians kept 
boliind the fortifications at Kronstadt, and nothing was 
accomplished beyond the bombardment of h?vcaborg, 
and the destruction of the town and dockyard. Some 
small bombardments also took place in the Wliite Sea 
and on the Siberian coast, where Petro})avIovsk was 
attacked and the attack was def(^ited, and such other 
actions as took i)lace were generally unsuccessful. It 


had become abundantly clear that against fortifications 
wooden ships had very small chance of success. 

Incidental items of naval interest are that in this 
particular war Captain Cowper Coles mounted a sixty- 
eight-pounder gun upon a raft named the Lady Nancy. 
This attracted so much attention from the small target, 
light draft and steady platform, that Coles was sent 
home to develop his ideas. In this war, also, mines 
appeared, the Russians dropping a good many off 
Kronstadt. Those used by the Russians were filled 
Tvith seventy pounds of powder, and exploded on contact 
by the famihar means of a glass tube of sulphuric acid 
being broken and the acid falling into chlorate of potash. 

No material damage was done to ships by this means, 
but a considerable number of those who had picked them 
up and investigated them were injured. 

The ingenuity and new means of offence were, 
however, by no means confined to the Russians, for a 
Mr. Macintosh, after the failure of the first bombardment 
of Sebastopol, evolved a system of attacking fortifications 
with a long hose supported by floats, through which 
naptha was to be pumped. Being set alight with some 
potassium, the fort attacked would be immediately 
smoked out. 

Experiments at Portsmouth having proved that this 
system was " simple, certain and cheap," Mr. Macintosh 
proceeded to the Crimea with his invention at his own 
expense. He was eventually given £1000 towards his 
expenses, but no attempt was made to employ the system. 
It is by no means clear how the necessary potassium was 
to be got into the water at the requisite spot. 

The same war also produced the fire-shell of the 
British Captain Norton. This appears to have been a 


resurrection of the old idea of Greek fire. It could be 
used from a rifle or from a sliell-gun, and like the previous 
invention " rendered war impossible," and again like the 
previous invention does not appear to have ever 
materialised into practice. 

On the practical side more results were achieved. 
The Lancaster gun which fired an oval shot was actually 
used with success in the war. From it the rifled gun 
presently emerged. There also emerged the then 
amateur invention of one Warry, who invented a new 
type of gun capable of firing sixteen to eighteen rounds 
per minute. The idea of wire womid guns was also 
apparent, and Mr. Armstrong* (as he then was), 
suggested the idea of percussion shell. It is interesting 
to note that these last were received with extreme 
dissatisfaction in the Navy on the grounds that they 
might go off at the \\Tong time. 

Of the Crimean War, however, it may be said that 
though it was not noted for naval actions, it was probably 
the most important war in its indirect results on the Nav}^ 
that ever took ])lace. It brought in the armoured ship, 
the rifled gun, and what was ultimately to develop into 
the torpedo. It saw the crude birth of " blockade 
mines " and rapid fire guns ; everyone of them inventions 
that, judging by the slow progress of steam, would — 
failing war to necessitate swift development — have been 
still in the experimental stage even to-day. 

In our ()\\v\ linu'H war having ever been a nearer 
possibility- than in the 1850 era, peace })rogress has 
always been more rapid, and no invention of practical 
value ever failed to secure full tests. Yet there were not 
wanting those who f)rophesied that the Dreadnoughts 

• Tlic Lnnl ArruHtrong, foijn<l<T of ElHwick, etc. 


of to-day merely reproduced in another form the 120 
screw ships of the Hne of sixty years ago ; and that the 
next great naval war might well bring about changes 
every whit as drastic as any that the Crimean War 
caused to come into being. 

The torpedo had become fully as great a menace 
to the modern ship of the Hne as the shell gun was to the 
big ship of 1853. The submarine was an infinitely greater 
menace to it than the crude Russian mines of the Crimean 
War ever were. Endless potentialities resided in aircraft. 

AVherefrom it was well argued that out of the 
next great naval war (despite whatever lesser wars in 
between may have taught), the battleship was likely to 
be profoundly modified. 

That it will be swept out of existence was improbable. 
The whole lesson of history is that the " capital ship " 
will ever adjust itself to the needs of the hour. It has 
always been the essential rallying point of lesser craft — 
the mobile base to meet the mobile base of the enemy. 

Meanwhile, it is beyond question that at the time 
of the Crimean War the British Navy from one cause 
and another was little better than a paper force. It is 
plain enough that little remained of the fleet of the 
Nelson era. The fleet " worried through," but very 
clearly it had reached the end of its tether. 

The reason why will be found in the next chapter. 

The above paragraphs were originally written in 1912. Since then 
much has happened. In this edition they have only been revised to the 
extent of substituting the past for the present tense. Nothing has 
occurred to alter what then was the obvious. 



THE period immediately following the Crimean War 
saw a gradual change in the relations between 
England and France. In 1858 a panic similar to 
those with which later years have familiarised us began 
to arise, and in December, 1858, and January, 1859, a 
committee sat under the Administration of Lord Derby 
" to consider the very serious increase which had taken 
place of late years in the Navy Estimates, while it 
represented that the naval force of the country was far 
inferior to what it ought to be with reference to that of 
other Powers, and especially France, and that increased 
efforts and increased expenditure were imperatively called 
for to place it on a proper footing." 

This committee found that whereas in 1850 there 
were eighty-six British ships of the line to forty-five 
French ones, this ratio had altogether ceased to exist ; 
and that both Powers had now twenty-nine screw ships 
of the line. Any other large ships had ceased to count. 

In 1859 there also appeared the famous " Leipsic 
Article," commenting on the decline of the British Fleet 
and the rise of the French. Certain extracts from this, 
though dealing with the past for the most part, are here 
given €71 bloc, for they indicate very clearly the circum- 
tttances in which, vnder pr&'isure from (iervian influenceSy 
the modern British Navy came to be founded. It is, to say 


the least of it, questionable whether but for this Teutonic 
agitation public opinion in England would ever have been 
aroused from its lethargy in time. This epoch-making 
article appeared in the Conversations Lexicon, of Leipsic. 
After some prelude the article referred to the appear- 
ance of the French Fleet in the Crimean War : — 

" The late war in the East (Crimean) first opened the eyes of 
Englishmen to the true position of affairs, and it was not without 
some sensation of alarm that they gazed at this vision of the 
unveiled reality. Here and there, indeed, an allusion, having some 
foundation in fact, had been heard, during the Presidency of Louis 
Napoleon, and had drawn attention to the menaced possibility of 
an invasion of the British Isles ; but such notions were soon over- 
whelmed by the derision with which they were jeeringly greeted by 
the national pride. 

" Those expressions of contempt were, however, not doomed to 
be silenced in their turn by the sudden apparition in the autumn of 
1854 of thirty-eight French ships of the line and sixty-six frigates 
and corvettes, fully manned and ready for immediate action. During 
the three preceding years Louis Napoleon had built twenty-four 
line-of -battle ships, and in the course of the year 1854 alone thirteen 
men-of-war were launched, nine of which were ships of the line. In 
addition to these, the keels of fifty-two more, comprising three ships 
of the line and six frigates, were immediately laid down. The 
English had thus the mortification to be obliged not only to cede to 
their allies the principal position in the camp, but also reluctantly to 
acknowledge their equality on that element whereon they had hoped 

to reign supreme. . . . 

* * * * 

" If we carried our investigation no further than this we 
should naturally conclude that, with such a numerical superiority, 
sufficient in itself to form a very respectable armament for a second- 
rate power, England has very little to fear from the marine of 
France. We must not forget, however, that quality as well as 
numbers must be considered in estimating the strength of a Fleet. 
When we take this element into our calculations, we shall find the 
balance very soon turned in favour of France. We perceive, then, 


that while the English list comprises every individual sail the 
country possesses, whether tit for commission or altogether antiquated 
and past service (and some, like the Victory, built towards the close 
of the last or the beginning of this century), the French Navy, as 
we have observed, scarcely contains a single ship built prior to 
the 3"ear 1840 ; so that nearlj' all are less than twenty years old. 
This is a fact of the greatest importance, and indicates an immense 
preponderance in favoiir of France. Though many of England's 
oldest craft figure in the ' Navy List " as seaworthy and fit for active 
service, we have no less an authority than that of Sir Charles Napier 
(in his Letter to the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1849) that some 
are mere lumber, and many others cannot be reckoned upon to add 
any appreciable strength to a Fleet in case of need. Independently, 
too, of the introduction of the screw, such fundamental changes have 
been introduced, within the last fifty years, both into the principles 
of naval architecture and of gunnery, that a modern 120-gun ship, 
built with due regard to recent improvements, and carrying guns of 
the calibre now in ordinary use, would in a very short space of time 
put ten ships like the Victory hors de combat, with, at the same time, 
little chance of injury to herself. 

" It is time, however, to turn our attention to another important 
part of the material, namely, artillery. Under this head we purpose 
designating, not only to the number of guns and their calibre, but 
also the mode in which they are served, for in actual warfare this, of 
course, is a primary consideration. If we take the received history 
of naval warfare for the basis of our investigation, we cannot fail to 
remark one notable circumstance in favour of the English, which 
can only be ascribed to their superiority in the use of this arm. That 
circumstance is the important and uniform advantage they have had 
in the fewer number of casualties they have sustained as compared 
with other nations with whom they may have chanced to have been 
engaged. To prove that our assertions are not made at random, 
we subjoin some statistics in support of this position. In April, 
1798, then, the English ship Mars took the French L'Hercule ; the 
former had ninety killed and wounded, the latter 290. In the 
preceding Fcliruary there had been an engagement between the 
English Sybil and French La Fort^, in which the killed and wounded 
of the former numixred twenty-one, and those of the latter 143. In 
March, 1806, the English ship London took the French Marengo; 


the English with a loss of thirty-two, the latter of 145 men. On 
the 4th November, 1805, two English ships of the line engaged four 
French vessels, and the respective losses were, again, 135 and 730. 
On the 14th February, 1797, in an action between the Fleets of 
England and Spain, the English lost 300 and the Spaniards 800. 
On the 11th of October of the same year, in the engagement off 
Camperdown between the English and Dutch, the respective losses 
were 825 and 1,160. On the 5th July, 1808, the English frigate 
Seahorse took the Turkish frigate Badere Zujfer, and of the Turks 
there fell 370 against fifteen English. Finally, in the same year the 
Russian ship of the line Wsewolod was taken by two English ships of 
the line, with a loss to the latter of 303, and to the former of only 

" This contrast, so favourable to England, has been constantly 
maintained, and can only be attributable to her superior artillery. 
Her seamen not only aimed with greater precision, and fired more 
steadily than those of the French and of other nations, but they had 
the reputation of loading with far greater rapidity. It was remarked, 
in 1805, that the English could fire a round with ball every minute, 
whereas it took the French gunners three minutes to perform the 
same operation. Then, again, the English tactics were superior. 
It was the universal practice of the French to seek to dismast an 
adversary ; they consequently aimed high, while the English 
invariably concentrated their fire upon the hulls of their adver- 
saries ; and clearly the broadside of a vessel presents a much better 
mark to aim at than the mere masts and rigging. British guns were 
also usually of higher calibre, for though they bore the same 
denomination, they were in reality much heavier. Thus, the English 
Lavinia, though nominally a frigate of forty guns, actually carried 
fifty ; and thirty-six and 38-gun frigates nearly always carried 
forty-four and forty-six. The English ship Belleisle, at Trafalgar, 
though said to be a seventy-four, carried ninety pieces of ordnance, 
while the Spanish ship she engaged, though called eighty-four had, 
in fact, only seventy-eight guns. From this disparity in the number 
and calibre of their guns, as well as in the mode in which they were 
served, it resulted that France and her allies lost eighty-five ships 
of the line and 180 frigates, while her antagonist only suffered to the 
extent of thirteen ships of the line and eighty-three frigates. 


" It wavS not until the close of the war that France became fully 
aware to what an extent her inferiority in the above respects had 
contributed to her reverses ; otherwise the unfortunate Admiral 
ViJleneuve would not invariably have ascribed his mishaps to the 
inexperience of his officers and men, and to the incomplete and 
inferior equipment of his vessels. The truth was, that not only was 
the artillerj^ as we have shown, inferior, but the whole system in 
vogue at that period on board French ships was antiquated, having 
continued without reform or improvement for two hundred years ; 
it was deficient, too, in enforcing subordination, that most essential 
condition of the power and efficiency of a ship of war." 

The French inscription maritime is then dealt with at 
great length, after which occur the following passages, 
even more interesting perhaps to-day than when they 
were wTitten : — 

" In considering, then, what perfect seamanship really is, we 
must first adopt a correct standard by which to estimate it. The 
English sailor has been so long assumed as the perfect type of the 
genus seaman, that the worid has neariy acquiesced in that view, and 
even we in Germany have been accustomed to rank our crews below the 
English, though it is an unfair estimate. There are no belter sailors 
in the world than the German seamen, and there is no foreign nation 
that would assert the contrary * On the other hand, it has also been 
the fashion universally to abuse French seamanship, and to speak of 
her sailors as below criticism. None proclaimed this opinion more 
loudly than the English ; but in doing so they recurred to the men 
they had beat<in under the Revolution and Bona])arte. The Crimean 
War, however, opened their eyes, and taught them that the French 
sailors of to-day were no longer the men of 1806, and that, to say the 
least, they are in no resyKJCt inferior to the; British. England had for 
years l>een comficllcd to krcp up a large effective force always ready 
for action, in con.sequence of the nature of her dependencicis, which, 
OH they conHist of remote colonies across distant seas, required such 
a provJKion for their protection. This gav(^ her an imincasurablo 
huperiority in <layM gone by. But Hiiicc I'Vancc in 1840 discovered her 
<leficiency, it has been supplied by the maintenance of a |)ermanent 

• Till- italicH iiri" iiiiiw. — F.T.J. 



experimental Fleet, which, under the command of such Admirals as 
Lalande de Joinville, Ducas, Hamelin, and Bruat, has been the 
nursery of the present most effective body of officers and men ; 
which, since 1853, have not ceased to humble the boasted superiority 
of England, besides causing her many anxious misgivings. 

Anyone who had the opportunity of viewing the two Fleets 
together in the Black Sea or the Baltic, and was in a position to 
draw a comparison, could not fail to be convinced that everj^thing 
connected with manoeuvring, evolutions, and gunnery was, beyond 
comparison, more smartly, quickly, and exactly execvited by the 
French than by the English, and must have observed the brilliant 
prestige which had so long surrounded England's tars pale sensibly 
beside the rising glories of her rival.''* 

That this was not merely captious criticism is borne 
out by the following extracts from " The Life and 
Correspondence of Admiral Sir Charles Napier, K.C.B.": — 

" We have great reason to be afraid of France, because she 
possesses a large disposable army, and our arsenals are comparatively 
undefended — London entirely so — and we have no sufficient naval 
force at home. Of ships (with the exception of steamers) we have 
enough ; but what is the use of them without men ? They are only 
barracks, and are of no more use for defence than if we were to build 
batteries all over the country, without soldiers to put into them. 

* * * * 

" Such were our inadequate resources for defence, had the 
Russians been able to get out of the Baltic, and make an attempt 
on our unprotected shores. 

^ H: H< ^ 

" The great difficulty consisted in the manning of such a fleet. 
Impressment was no longer to be thought of ; but, strange to say, 
the Bill which had passed through Parliament, empowering, in case 
of war, the grant of an ample bounty to seamen, was not acted upon, 
and consequently most of the ships were very inefficiently manned — 
some of them chiefly with the landsmen of the lowest class. Nothing 
had been done towards the training of the men, and no provision was 
* My italics. In the Germany of to-day (May, 1915), exactly the same 
style of argument is being advanced. 


even made to clothe them in a manner required by the climate to 
which they were about to be sent. 

" Our Ambassador likewise warned the British Government 
that the Navy of Russia could not with safety be under-estimated, 
and. moreover, the Russian gunners were all well trained, while those 
of the British Squadron were most deficient in this respect. The 
object of the Russians, in wishing to get their best ships to Sveaborg, 
was the impression that Cronstadt would be first attacked ; in 
which caise, calculating on the strength of the forts to repel an 
assault, they would have fresh ships whereivith to assail our disabled 
and weakened fleet, should they be obliged to retreat * Sir Hamilton 
Seymour warned our Government of the great number of gunboats 
the Russians could bring out, eighty of which were to be manned by 
Finns, fift}' men to each boat. 

* * * * 

" Such," says the author of the biography, " were the reasons, 
no doubt powerful enough, for hurrj^ing off, even without pilots, the 
ill-appointed and under-manned squadron placed under Sir Charles 
Napier's command, at this inclement season of the year, when the 
periodical gales of the vernal equinox might be daily expected. The 
squadron, on leaving Spithead, consisted of four sail-of-the-line, four 
blockships, four frigates, and four steamers (not a single gunboat) ; 
and with this force, hastily got together, for the most part manned 
with the refuse of London and other towns, destitute of even clothing, 
their best seamen consisting of dockyard riggers and a few coastguard 
men — and without the latter, it has been alleged, the squadron could 
not have put to sea — with this inefficient force did Sir Charles 
Napier leave our shores, to offer battle to the Russian Fleet, consist- 
ing of seven-and-twenty well-trained and well-appointed ships of the 
line, eight or ten frigates, seven corvettes and brigs, and nine 
steamers, besides small craft and flotillas of gunlmats, supposed in 
the aggregate to nninbor one hundred and eighty. 

* * * * 

" It is, probaltly, an tmprecodented event in the annals of war, 

or, at least, in those of our history, that a fleet should be sent out, on 

a most momentous service so ill-nianned that the Commander was 

directed to endeavour to ' pick up,' if possible, foreign seamen in 

• c.f. the DardanolleH in May, 191. I. 


foreign ports, and so ill-provided with munitions of war, that he was 
restricted in the use of what he most required, in order to render his 
inexperienced crews as efficient as possible. It is equally worthy of 
record that the Board of Admiralty, throughout the whole campaign, 
never supplied the Fleet with a single Congreve rocket, although it 
was no secret that great numbers had been made in London for the 
Russians, to whom they were of far less use than to the British 
Fleet, which could not well undertake any bombardment without 
them. The Board of Admiralty must have been perfectly aware of 
the conditions, in these respects, of that Fleet on whose efficiency 
so much depended, and from which so much was expected, for, 
in a letter to Sir Charles Napier, from a member of that Board, I 
find it recorded as his opinion, that the Emperor of Russia ought 
either to burn his Fleet, or try his strength with the British Squadron 
whilst he mustered double their numbers, and whilst our crews were 
' so miserably raw ! ' Yet this inefficiency was fully and frankly 
admitted by Sir James Graham, from whom infrequent instructions 
arrived to suppl}^ the deficiency of good men by picking up foreign 
sailors in the Baltic. The anxiety of the First Lord upon this point 
was excessive. He was continually inquiring whether the Admiral 
had been able to ' 'pick up any Swedes or Norwegians, who were good 
sailors and quite trustworthy.' He was told to ' enter them 
quietly.' If he could not get Swedes and Norwegians, ' even Danes 
would strengthen him, for they were hardy seamen and brave. 
There was, it is true, a difficulty with their Governments, but if the 
men enlisted freely, and came over to the Fleet, the First Lord did 
not see why the Admiral should be over-nice, and refuse good seamen 
without much inquiry as to the place from whence they came.' 

" Admiral Berkeley, moreover, instructed the Admiral to the 
same effect. ' Have any of your ships tried for men in a Norwegian 
port ? It is said that you might have any number of good seamen from 
that country.' On the 18th of March the Admiral had been apprised 
that the James Watt, the Prince Regent and Majestic would now 
join him ; ' but men are wanting, and it is impossible to say how long 
it will be before they are completed.' On the 4th of April Admiral 
Berkeley stated : * Notwithstanding the number of landsmen 
entered, we are come nearly to a dead standstill as to seamen ; and 
after the James Watt and Prince Regent reach you, I do not know 


when we shall be able to send you a further reinforcement, for want 
of men ! Something mxist be done, and done speedily, or there will be 
a breakdown in our present rickety system.' " 

The German article produced a great stir in 
England. This was followed up by the publication in 
1859 of The Navies of the World, by Hans Busk, M.A., 
of Trinity College, Cambridge, who, while nominally 
casting cold water on the " Leipsic Article," added fuel 
to the fire. This writer was one of the first to concentrate 
attention upon the fact that the French were building 
" iron-plated ships." 

From this scarce and remarkably interesting work I 
quote the following : — 

" The determination of the French Government to build a 
number of iron or steel-cased ships imperatively obliges us to follow 
their example. The original idea of plating ships in this way, so 
as to render them shot-proof, is due, not, as is generally supposed in 
this country, to the present Emperor, but to a Captain in the French 
Navy, who, about a quarter of a century since, suggested that all 
wooden vessels should be sheathed with composite slabs of iron of 
fourteen or fifteen centimetres in thickness ; that is to say, with 
stout plates of wrought-iron having blocks of cast metal between. 
A similar suggestion was made among others by General Paixhans ; 
but one of the first to reduce it to practice was Mr. Stevens, of New 
York, the well-known steamship builder, who about ten years ago 
communicated to Mr. Scott Russell the results of a long series of 
experiments, instituted by the American Government, for the purpose 
of testing the power of plates of iron and steel to resist cannon-shot. 
Mr. Lloyd, of the Admiralty, proposed the adoption of plates 4ins. 
in thickness, instead of a number of thiimer sheets, as recommended 
by the Emperor. The English and French lioating batteries were, 
as is well known, protected upon Mr. Lloyd's plan. From trials 
recently made, however, it has been pretty well ascertained that 
this iron plunking, on whatever principle? applied, will only repel 
hollow shot or shells ; heavy solid projectiles of wrought iron, or 
those faced with steel, huving bt-en found, on rcp<'at('(l (rials, to 


perforate the thickest covering which has ever been adopted, and 
that, too, even at considerable ranges. 

" Mr. Reed,* already alluded to, proposes to protect only the 
midship portion of the ship, and to separate it from the parts fore 
and aft by strong water-tight compartments, so that, however much 
the extremities might sufEer, the ship would still be safe and the 
crew below protected ; but, as he himself admits, there would 
obviously be no defence against raking shot. 

" The French vessels last alluded to, follow the lines and 
dimensions of the Napoleon (one of the best, if not the finest ship in 
their Navy) ; but they will only carry thirty or thirty-six guns, and 
the metal sheathing will be from ten to eleven centimetres (about 
4Jins.) in thickness. Two similar ships are to be commenced here 
forthwith ; and as the First Lord of the Admiralty has prophetically 
warned us that they will be the most expensive ships ever constructed 
in this country, it is earnestly to be hoped that they may be found 
proportionately valuable, should their powers ever come to be 
tested ; they will each cost from £126,000 to £130,000, or £4,200 per 
gun ; the ordinary expense of a sailing man-of-war being about 
£1,000, and of a steamer from £1,800 to £2,000 per gun." 

After this follow various statistics of the French 
Fleet of no particular interest here except for the 
following passage : — 

" Irrespective of the above are the iour fregates blindees, or iron- 
plated frigates, two of which are now in an advanced state at Toulon. 

" These ships are to be substituted for line-of -battle ships ; 
their timbers are of the scantling of three-deckers ; they will be 
provided with thirty-six heavy guns, twenty-four of them rifled, 
and 50-pounders, calculated to throw an eighty pound percussion 
shell. Such is the opinion of French naval officers respecting the 
tremendous power of these ships, that they fully anticipate the 
complete abolition, within ten or a dozen years, of all line-of-battle 
ships, "t 

Here it is desirable to leave ships for a moment 
and deal with the corresponding stage of gunnery, which 

* Subsequently Sir E. J. Reed, Chief Constructor. 

t c.f. Views expressed about Dreadnoughts, for another reason in the 
present year (1915). 


began to take on its modern form contemporaneously 
with the ironclad ship. In 1858-9 began that contest 
between the gun and armour, which can hardly be said 
to be ended even in our own day, for improved kinds 
of armour are still being sought and experimented 
with. To quote the work of Hans Busk and its con- 
temporary summary : — 

" A number of guns, cast at Woolwich, were sent to Mr. Whit- 
worth's works at Manchester to be bored and rifled. In April, 1856, 
trial was made with a brass 24-pounder of the construction above 
described. The projectiles emploj^ed on that occasion varied from 
two to six diameters in length, and a very rapid rotary motion was 
communicated to them. The gun itself weighed 13cwt. ; the bore, 
instead of being of a calibre fitted to receive a spherical 24-pound 
shot, was only of sufficient capacity to admit one of 9 pounds. 
The hexagonal bore measured 4ins. in diameter, and was rather 
more than 54ins. long. It was entirely finished by machinery, and 
the projectiles were fitted with mathematical precision, the spiral in 
both cases being formed with absolute accuracy. The gun, externally, 
had only the dimensions of a 24-pound howitzer, but it projected 
missiles of 24 pounds, 32 pounds, and 48 pounds each, the additional 
weight having been obtained by increased length. Upon this new 
system, then, it will be seen that guns capable, under the old plan, 
of supporting the strain of a 24-pound ball, may be made with ease 
to throw a 48-pound shot ; the reduction of the calibre allowing of 
a sufficient thickness of metal being left to ensure safety. The 
32-pound and 48-pound projectiles used in the above experiments 
were respectively llfins. and IGJins. in length. They were pointed 
at the foremost extremity, being shaped and rounded somewhat 
like the Kinallcr end of an egg. At the base they were flat, and 
slightly hollowed towards the centre. The gun was mounted for 
the occasion upon an ordinary artillery carriage, which shows no 
symptoms of having been strained, nor of being in any way injured 
by the concussions to which it had been subjected. 

« * * * 

'■ .Sub.secjuently, some further experiments were ma<lo with the 
same gun with reduced elevation, when the i)n)jectiles, striking the 


ground at comparatively short distances, rebounded again and 
again till their momentum was expended. The first shot thus fired 
weighed 32 pounds, the charge of powder being only 3 ounces, and 
the gun having an elevation of 2 degrees. The projectile made its 
first graze at a distance of 92 yards, furrowing the ground for about 
7ft., and leaving distinct indications of its rotary axial motion. It 
rose again to an elevation of about 6ft., grazing, after a further 
flight of 64 yds. The third graze (owing probably to the hard nature 
of the soil at the point struck) was at a distance of 70yds. further ; 
after which it traversed some ploughed land, grazing several times, 
coming finally to rest after having accomplished altogether a distance 
of 492yds. 

" The second shot also weighed 32 pounds ; the charge, as 
before, consisted of 3 ounces of powder ; but this time the elevation 
given to the gun was 3 degrees. The projectile first grazed the ground 
at a point 108yds. from the muzzle ; the second graze was 126yds. 
further ; but happening to touch the lower bar of an iron fence — 
a circumstance which appeared to affect its flight — it dropped 
finally after having accomplished 490yds. Some further experiments 
were then made with shot weighing 48 pounds each. 

" These very reduced charges rendered it necessary to make 
use of wooden wads to fill the cavities in the base of the projectiles. 
This had a tendency to reduce very much the power of the gun. 

" A further trial with the hexagonal gun was made at Liverpool 
on the 7th of May. Several shots, varying from 24 to 48 pounds in 
weight, were fired. The first, weighing 24 pounds, with a charge 
of 11 pounds of powder, attained a distance of 2,800 yards, the 
elevation given having been 8 degrees. These experiments could 
hardly be said to have exhibited the maximum capacity of the gun, 
having been interrupted by the rapid rising of the tide. The average 
range of several 48-pound shots Avas 3,000 yards, but there is little 
doubt that a much greater distance will be achieved when Mr. 
Whitworth has perfected some guns he is now constructing. 

" A good deal of attention having previously been drawn to 
the subject of Armstrong's gun, respecting which few particulars 
had been allowed to transpire, on the 4th of March last the Secretary- 
at-War made an ofiicial statement to the House, and gave some 
details as to its alleged capabilities. Without describing its con- 
struction, he stated that one piece, throwing a projectile of 18 


pounds, weighed but one-third as much as the ordinary gun of that 
calibre. With a charge of 5 pounds of powder, a 32-pounder attained 
a range of 5^ miles ; at 3,000 yards its accuracy, as compared with 
that of a common gun, was stated to be in the proportion of 7 to 1. 
At 1,000 yards it had struck the target 57 times successively, and 
after 13,000 rounds the gun showed symptoms of deterioration. 
In conclusion, it was said that the destructive effects occasioned 
by this new ordnance exceeded anything that had been previously 
witnessed, and that in all probability it was destined to effect a 
complete revolution in warfare." 

Armstrong's own statement was : — 

" Schemers whose invention merely figure upon paper, have 
little idea of the difficulties that are encountered by those who carry 
inventions into practice. For my part, I had my full share of such 
difficulties, and it took me nearly three years of continual application 

to surmount them Early last year a committee was 

appointed to investigate the whole subject of rifled cannon. They 
consisted of officers of great experience in gunnery ; and after having 
given much time for a period of five months to the guns, projectiles, 
and fuses which I submitted to them, they returned a unanimous 
verdict in favour of my system. With respect to the precision and 
range which have been attained with these guns, I may observe that 
at a distance of 600 yards an object no larger than the muzzle of an 
enemy's gun may be struck at almost every shot. At 3,000 yards a 
target of 9ft. square, which at that distance looks like a mere speck, 
has on a calm day been struck five times in ten shots. A ship would 
afford a target large enough to be hit at much longer distances, and 
shells may be thrown into a town or fortress at a range of more than 
five miles. But to do justice to the weapon when used at long 
distances, it will bo necessary that gunners should undergo a more 
scientific training than at present ; and I believe that botli the 
naval and military departments of Government will take the 
necessary measures to afford proper instruction, both to officers and 
men. It is an interesting question to consider what would bo the 
effect of the general introduction of these weaptjns upon tlie various 
conditions of warfare. In the case of ships opposed to ships in the 
ofKjn sea, it appears to nie that they would siin|)ly desf roy each other, 
if both were made of titnf)cr. The day has gone by for putting men 


in armour. Fortunately, however, no nation can play at that game 
like England ; for we have boundless resources, both in the production 
and application of iron, which must be the material for the armour. 
In the case of a battery against a ship, the advantage would be greatly 
in favour of the battery, because it would have a steady platform for 
its guns, and would be made of a less vulnerable material, supposing 
the ship to be made of timber. But, on the other hand, in bombard- 
ing fortresses, arsenals, or dockyards, when the object to be struck 
is very extended, ships would be enabled to operate from a great 
distance, where they could bid defiance to land defences." 

After some observations, the author continued : — 

" Notwithstanding the high estimation in which Sir William 
Armstrong's guns are held, and deservedly so from their great 
intrinsic merit, they have certainly in Mr. Warry's great invention 
a rival that may eventually be found to eclipse them. 

" The Armstrong gun cannot be fired oftener than three times 
a minute, and the bore, it is said, has to be constantly sluiced with 
water ; whereas Warry's admits, as has been affirmed, of being 
discharged 16 or 18 times a minute, or 1,000 an hour, without 
difficulty, though of course not without heating, as some reporters 
have misrepresented. Guns of the former description are expensive, 
and must be made expressly by means of special machinery. Mr. 
Warry, on the other hand, asserts that he can convert every existing 
gun into a breech-loader upon his principle, and at a moderate 
outlay : an advantage of the greatest moment at the present time. 

" This gun is fired by means of a lock. On one side of the breech 
there is a lever, so contrived that by one motion of the hand it is 
made to cock the hammer and to open the chamber. A second 
movement closes the charger again, pierces or cuts the cartridge, 
places a cap on the nipple, and fires the gun almost simultaneously. 

" With a due supply of ammunition, therefore, a destructive 
torrent of shot and shell may be maintained ad libitum. It is not 
difficult to form a conception of the havoc even one such gun would 
occasion if brought to bear upon the head of an advancing column. 

" The inventor has, besides, made application for a patent for 
a new coating he has devised for all kinds of projectiles, in lieu of 
any leaden or metallic covering, which has been found very objection- 


able ill actual practice. The new coating, it is said, reduces the 

■ fouling ' to a minimum. 

" But we cannot turn even from this very brief consideration 
of the improvements in modern cannon without offering a few 
observations relative to an invention of a different kind, but one 
that may possibly prove of greater moment than either of the guns 
that have been described. This is the composition known as 

■ Norton's liquid fire.' In the terrific character of its effect it rivals 
all that has been recorded of the old Greek fire ; at the same time 
it is perfectly manageable, and may be projected from an 
Enfield rifle, from a field-piece, or from heavier ordnance. The 
composition Captain Norton uses consists of a chemical combination 
of sulphur, carbon, and phosphorus. He merely encloses this in a 
metal or even in a wooden shell, and its effect upon striking the 
side or sails of a ship, a wooden building, or indeed any object at 
all combustible, is to cause its instant ignition. This ' liquid fire ' 
has apparently the property of penetrating or of saturating any 
substance against which it may be projected, and such is its affinity 
for oxygen that it even decomposes water and combines with its 
component oxygen. Water, consequently, has no power to quench 
it, and if burning canvas, set on fire in this way, be trodden under 
foot and apparently extinguished it soon bursts again into flames." 

It is not uninteresting to reflect that although 
Norton's hquid fire came to nothing, yet the present 
century has already seen three variations on the idea. 

The first instance is the type of big shell used by the 
Japanese at Tsushima. Little is known as to their 
exact composition, but they were undoubtedly extremely 
inflammable. Captain Semenoff in " The Battle of 
Tsushima " thus describes them : — 

" The Japanese had apparently succeeded in realising what the 
Americans had cndoavourcd to attain in inventing their ' V'cHUviiiin.' 

" In addition to this there wa.s the unusual high temperature 
and liquid flame of the explosion, which seemed to spread over 
everything. I actually watched a steel plate catch fire from a burst. 
Of course, the steel did not burn, but the paint on it did. »Such 


almost non-combustible materials as hammocks, and rows of boxes, 
drenched with water, flared up in a moment. At times it was 
impossible to see anything with glasses, owing to everything being 
so distorted with the quivering, heated air. 

:): :j: H: :{: 

" According to thoroughly trustworthy reports, the Japanese 
in the battle of Tsushima were the first to employ a new kind of 
explosive in their shells, the secret of which they bought during the 
war from the inventor, a colonel in one of the South American 
Republics. It was said that these shells could only be used in guns 
of large calibre in the armoured squadrons, and that is how those 
of our ships engaged with Admiral Kataoka's squadron did not 
suffer the same amount of damage, or have so many fires, as the 
ships engaged with the battleships and armoured cruisers." 

The second instance is the Krupp fire shell designed 
for use against dirigible balloons. The third is the 
" Thermite shell," which, early in 1912, was proposed 
for adoption in France. It was calculated that one 
12-inch A. p. shell exploding would melt half a ton of 

The following passage from Hans Busk is of 
interest : — 

" In 1855 Mr. Longridge, C.E., proposed to construct cannon 
of tubes covered with wire wound round them so tightly as almost 
entirely to relieve the inside from strain. On the 25th of June of 
the same year Mr. Mallet read a paper advocating the construction 
of cannon of successive layers of cylinders, so put together that all 
should be equally strained when the gun is fired ; thus the inside 
would not be subject to fracture, while the outside would be useless 
as in a cast mass. His method of effecting this was, as is well known, 
to have each cylinder slightly too small to go over the one under it 
till expanded by heat, so that when cool it compresses the interior 
and is slightly strained itself. Thirty-six-inch mortars have been 
made on the principle, and if they have failed with 401bs. of powder, 
cast-iron must have failed still less. In 1856 Professor Daniel 
Treadwell, Vice-President of the American Academy, read a paper to 

lollN s, , ,| j 1,:! -,-LlJ,, 


that body recommending the same principle of construction ; and 
Captain Blakely has himself for some years been endeavouring to 
urge its adoption by argument and direct experiments. In December, 
1857, some trials were made with guns constructed by that officer ; 
and the result of a comparative trial of a 9-pounder with a cast-iron 
service gun of similar size and weight gave results proving the 
soundness of his views ; for Captain Blakely's gun bore about double 
the amount of firing the service gun did, and being then uninjured, 
was loaded to the muzzle, and was thus fired 158 times before it 

From these contemporary extracts it will be seen 
that by 1859 the germ of nearly every modern idea in 
connection with gunnery existed, and has since developed 
somewhat on " trial and error " Unes for at any rate the 
greater part of the intervening period. 

The contemporary situation as regards defence is 
also best summed up from the authority from whom the 
above gunnery extracts are taken : — 

" The result of numerous trials appeared to convince those best 
competent to judge of such matters that iron plates, or, rather, slabs, 
eleven centimetres (about 4|ins.) in thickness, would offer adequate 
protection to a ship from the effects of hollow shot. Acting upon this 
impression, four floating batteries, resembling in most respects those 
constructed here, were ordered to be built, and notwithstanding the 
enormous difficulties connected with such an undertaking, these four 
vessels were turned out, complete in all respects, in ten months — an 
astoniwhing instance of the resources of French dockyards and the 
ability of French engineers. 

" From this event may be dated the commencement of a new 
epoch in naval tactics. The next problem was to determine whether 
a form better adapted for progression than that of these batteries 
could not Ik' given to vohhcIs sheathetl in a similar manner. Hence 
originated the iron-plated frigates {fregatci blimldes). The intention 
of their designer is, that they should have a sj)eed and an armament 
at leawt e(pial to that of the Hwift<'st existing frigates, but their 
colossal weight, and consequently their great draught of water, must 


almost preclude the fulfilment of this expectation. Should they 
prove successful, a number of larger ships of the same kind are to be 
commenced forthwith. It is difficult to understand how, in the case 
of these ships being found to answer, it will be possible for us to avert 
a real " reconstruction " of our Navy, or, how any other nation, 
aiming to rank as a maritime Power, can avoid the adoption of a 
similar course. In fact, the necessity has been appreciated, and we 
are already at work. But a good deal has to be accomplished ere the 
use of such vessels become universal. If these iron-plated vessels 
do resist shell, it seems certain, as has been already stated, that solid 
shot will either perforate at short ranges any thickness of metal that 
has yet been tried, or will so indent the sheathing at longer distances 
that the internal lining and rib-work of oak will be riven, shattered, 
loosened, or crushed to an extent that would almost as speedily put 
the ship hors de combat as if she had but been built after the old 
fashion, much, as in days gone by, upon the introduction of gun- 
powder into warfare, the use of armour was found rather to aggravate, 
than to ward ofi^, the injuries infiicted by gunshot. It was the 
result of the operations against Kinburn that more particularly gave 
rise to the high opinion at present entertained in favour of these 
vaisseaux blindees. Unwieldy and cumbersome as they appeared, 
they were certainly a great improvement upon the floating batteries 
used by the French and Spanish against Gibraltar in 1782. Those 
were merely enormous hulks, destitute of masts, sails, or rigging ; 
their sides were composed of solid carpentry, 6ft. Gins, in thickness, 
and they carried from nine to twenty-four guns. When in action, 
streams of water were made to flow constantly over their decks and 
sides, but notwithstanding every precaution, such an overwhelming 
storm of shell and red-hot shot was poured upon them by the English 
garrison that they were all speedily burnt. Not so the Devastation, 
La Lave, and La Tonnante before the Russian fortress above 
mentioned, on the memorable 14th October, 1855. At 9 p.m. they 
opened fire, and in an hour and twenty -five minutes the enemy was 
silenced, nearly all the gunners being killed, their pieces dismounted, 
and all the ramparts themselves being for the most part demolished. 
To accomplish this destruction in so short a space of time, the three 
batteries, each carrying eighteen fifty pounders (supported, of course, 
by the fire of the English vessels), advanced in very shallow water 


within 800 yards of the walls, receiving themselves very little 
damage in comparison with the immense havoc thej' occasioned." 

From the above extract it is clear that the " im- 
penetrable coat of mail " idea, popularly supposed to 
have led to the introduction of ironclads, never existed 
to any appreciable extent. Indeed, when the Com- 
mittee, alluded to on an earlier page, concluded its 
labours in 1859, it merely recommended the conversion 
of nineteen more saihng ships into steamers. It was 
Sir John Pakington who decided to lay down a couple 
of " armoured steam frigates," and to build them of 
iron instead of wood. 

The French fregates blindees were wooden ships, 
armoured. John Scott Russell is said to have been 
Pakington' s chief adviser in this matter of building 
iron armoiu-ed ships and disregarding all the laborious 
conclusions of Captain Chads against iron hulls. 

As regards the general reconmiendations of the 
committee already referred to, these had resulted in 
1861 in there being no less than sixty-seven wooden 
unarmoured sliips of the line building or converting into 
" screw shi])s." 

The two iron-})lated steam frigates were decided on 
without any popular enthusiasm concerning them. Now 
and again retired Admirals paid surre])titious visits to 
the French *' blindees " and returned with alarming 
roports ; but, with the possible exception of Hying 
machines, no epoch-making tiling ever came in quite 
so quietly as the ironclad. The wildest dreamer saw 
nothing in it Ixyond a variation on existing types. The 
ironclad was sonictliing wliich, })y carrying a great deal 
of weight, could kccj) out slicll : l)cyo!i(l that no one 



seems to have had any particular ideals whatever, except 
perhaps Sir Edward Reed. 

Early in 1859 designs for a type of ship to " answer " 
the French frigates hlindees were called for, and fourteen 
private firms submitted designs. All, however, were 

Details of the designs submitted were as follows :* — 


Wt. of 

wt. of 























Thames Co. . . 














Scott Russell . 













Westwood & 




























Henwood .... 








































The Abethell and Peake designs were wooden 
hulled, all the others iron ships. 

The two ships. Warrior and Black Prince, as actually 
laid down, differed from the Admiralty design in certain 
details. The beam was increased slightly, and the 
displacement rose from 8625 to 9210. 

The Warrior was laid down on the 25th May, 1859, 
at the Thames Ironworks, Blackwall ; the Black Prince 
a little later at Glasgow. 

In substances they were ordinary " wooden frigates," 
built of iron instead of wood, with armour to protect 

* From Naval Development of the Century, by Sir N. Barnaby, K.C.B. 


most (but not all) of the guns. This was done by a patch 
of armour amidships, covering about 60% of the side. 
It was deemed advisable to protect the engines ; other- 
wise as hke as not the armour would have been over 
the battery only. Waterline protection was entirely 
unrealised, the steering gear of the Warrior being at 
the mercy of the first lucky shot. 

This, as Sir N. Bamab}'- has pointed out, was due 
to accepting existing conditions : — 

" The tiller was necessarily above the water-line and was outside 
of the cover of the armour. The wooden line-of-battle ships, with 
which the designers of these first iron-cased ships were familiar, had 
required no special water-line protection, and when wheel ropes or 
tiller were shot away the ship did not cease to be able to fight. The 
line-of-battle ships, which they knew so well, had a lower, or gun 
deck about four feet above the water-line, and an orlop deck about 
three feet below the water-line. Between these two decks the ship's 
sides were stouter than in any other part, and shot did not easily 
perforate them. When a shot did enter there, between wind and 
water, as it was called, ample provision was made to prevent the 
serious admission of water. 

" In this between-deck space the sides of the ship were kept free 
from all erecttions or obstructions. The ' wing passages ' on the 
orlop were clear, from end to end of the ship, and they were patrolled 
by the carpenter's crew, who wore provided with shot ])lugs of wood 
and oakum and sail cloth with which to close any shot holes. As 
against disabled steering gear there were spare tillers and tiller ropes, 
and only injury to the rudder head itself was serious." 

It is easy to-day to indicate whore the old-time 
designers erred ; and later on they realised and repaired 
their error with commendable promptitude. The really 
interesting jx)int is that British designers evolved the 
ideal thing for the day, whiles th(; French evolved the 
idea of tlu^ ideal thing for the to-morrow. Unhappily 
for the latter, their evolution was unable to survive its 



birth till the day of its utility. La Oloire, the first 
French ironclad, was broken up more years ago than 
any can remember ; the Warrior and the Black Prince, 
though long ago reduced to hulk service,* still float as 
sound as when in 1861 the Warrior first took the water. 
To the French belongs the honour of reahsing what 
armour protection might mean ; but to England goes the 
credit of reducing the idea to practical application. 

The Warrior was designed by Messrs. Scott Russell 
and Isaac Watts, the Chief Constructor. Her length 
between perpendiculars was 380 feet. She carried 
originally a uniform armament of forty-eight 68-pounders 
smooth bores, weighing 95cwt. each. These fired shell 
and cast-iron spherical shot. The guns were carried as 
follows : — Main deck, thirty-eight, of which twelve were 
not protected by armour. On the upper-deck, ten, also 

This armament was subsequently changed to two 
llO-pounder rifled Armstrongs on pivot mountings, and 
four 40-pounders on the upper-deck ; while the main- 
deck battery was reduced to thirty -four guns. At a later 
date it was again altered to four 8-inch 9-ton M.L.R., 
and twenty-eight 7 -inch 6|-ton M.L.R. 

In addition to her armour the Warrior was divided 
into 92 water-tight compartments, fore and aft. She 
had a double bottom amidships, considerably sub- 
divided (fifty-seven of the compartments), but no double 
bottom in the modern sense. 

The Warrior'' s engines, by Penn, were horizontal 
single expansion. On trial they developed 5,267 I.H.P., 
and the then excellent speed of 14.079 knots. | Her 

* The Warrior now forms part of the Vernoii Estabhshnient at 

t Our Ironclad Ships, by (Sir) E. J. Reed. Sir N. Barnaby in Naval 
Development of the Century gives 5,470:= 14. 36 knots. 




y'V'.y," '■.'■".■ ■7".:'/'. 




,^ ..^...j,,,.^ ,.j^.,,,,..^....^. ^...j^. 




I AKI "I I'.hlllsll r.ko.M'^lhl ri.'iiM I Mis 


six hours' sea speed trial resulted in a mean 5,092 H.P. 
and 13.936 knots. 

Save for her unprotected steering gear, the Warrior 
may be described as a brilliant success for her era. She 
was launched on December 29th, 1860, and completed in 
the follo\ving year. The Black Prince was completed in 

The Warrior and Black Prince, under a system 
which long endured in the British Navy, were followed 
by a certain number of diminutives, of which the first 
were the Defence and Resistance, of 6,150 tons, with 
speeds of just under 12 knots, and an armament of 
16 guns. The armour was the same, but the battery 
protection was extended fore and aft, so that all guns 
were inside it. These ships were completed in 1862. 

Three more ships were projected, of which the 
Hector and Valiant, completed in 1864 and 1865, were of 
jjrecisely the same type as the Resistance, but displaced 
6,710 tons, with about a knot more speed, and carried 
a couple of extra guns. 

A third ship, originally intended to have been of 
the same class, was the Achilles, but, mainly owing to 
the influence of Mr. '\\qq(\ (of whom more anon), who 
pointed out the danger of unprotected steering gear, her 
design was altered and a complete belt of 4J-inch armour 
given to lier instead of a partial one. 

These changes in the design, together with an 
increased horse-power wliich produced on trial 14.32 
knots, advanced tlic displacement of llie Achilles to 
9,820 tons, whik^ the armament was brought uji to 
fourteen 12-ton guns and two 6^-ton. The weiglit of 
armour was 1,200 tons. 


The Achilles, like many another ship that was to 
follow her, was the " last word " of her own day. No 
expense was spared in seeking to secure a maximum of 
efficiency in her. As originally completed she was a 
ship-rigged vessel, but with a view to improving her 
sailing efficiency, this was subsequently altered to a 
four-masted rig, which proved so httle successful that 
eventually she reverted to three masts again. 

In the meantime the authorities were so pleased 
with the Achilles that three improved editions of her 
were designed. They were not completed until a new 
type of ship, which was completed before they were, 
replaced them ; but chronologically they followed close 
upon the Achilles. They were laid down in 1861, and 
designed by Isaac Watts. They were named Agincourt, 
Minotaur, and Northumberland. They differed in minor 
details, but in substance were all about 1,000 tons more 
than the Achilles, and their increased displacement 
mostly went in one inch extra armour protection (5 J-inch 
against 4J-inch). 

As originally designed they were intended to mount 
seven 12- ton and twenty 9-ton guns, but at a very early 
date the first two were given a uniform armament of 
seventeen 12-ton. A small portion of this armament 
of the upper deck was provided with armoured protection 
for right-ahead fire. 

In appearance they were magnificent ships, fitted 
with five masts. Being 400 feet between perpendiculars 
they were the largest ships of their time, and at sea 
always proved very steady under both sail and steam. 

These ships were the subject of violent disputes 
between the Controller of the Navy and their constructor. 
The Controller insisted that they were extravagantly 


large ships, as compared to French ships. The constructor 
insisted that it was essential that for any given power and 
protection a British ship must be larger than a foreign 
one, because of her more extended probable duties, and 
the consequent necessity of a larger coal supply.* 

At and about this period there were a number of 
wooden ships-of-the-line building, which had been laid 
down from the year 1859 onAvards. Following the 
French fashion, they were converted into ironclads. 
These ships, displacing from 6,100 to 6,830 tons, were 
the RepuUe, Royal Alfred, Zealous (laid down 1859), 
Caledonia, Ocean, Prince Consort, Royal Oah (1860)."|" 

The upper-decks of these ships were removed, and 
they were fitted with side armour, which was 4| inches in 
the earhest to be treated, and 5i inches in the latest. 
All of them carried sixteen 9-ton guns and four 6|-ton, 
with provision for ahead fire. 

The experiment, though useful as a temporary 
expedient, was very expensive, and several of the ships 
had to be lengthened before anything could be done to 
them. None of them were very successful, and most of 
them disappeared from the Navy List at an early date. 

This ends the period of " broadside ironclads " ; 
of the best of which it may be said that they were 
nothing but efforts to adapt new ideals to old methods. 

* Apparently tho firHt iiiHtanco of tho putting forwarrl nf a prinriplo wliich 
later on profoundly afTi"ct«xl conHtruction. 

t In IHH.'J, thn.-f; ironclndK, the Lord ('lyde and Lord IVardrn, of 7,840 timn, 
and a Hniall ahip, the FoUoh, 3,660 tonH, wcro (•ouHtDictcd with wooden hullK, 
in order to use iifj tho Htores of timber wliich had been a^'cinnuliitfii.— Sec 
p. 70, Our Ironclad S/tipg, by Sir K. J. It«!ed. 



IN 1862 Mr. (afterwards Sir) E. J. Reed, was appointed 
Chief Constructor, and proceeded at once to produce 
the tyj)e of ship chiefly associated with his name. 
His ideals ran in the direction of short, handy ships of 
medium size, as heavily armed as possible, and with a 
good turn of speed. His arguments in favour of these 
ideals he afterwards described as follows : — * 

" The merits of iron-clad ships do not consist in carrying a large 
proportion of weights to engine-power, or having a high speed in 
proportion to that power ; but rather in possessing great powers 
of offence and defence, being comparatively short, cheap, and 
handy, and steaming at a high speed, not in the most economical 
way possible, but by means of a moderate increase of power on 
account of the moderate proportions adopted in order to decrease 
the weight and cost, and to increase the handiness." 

Generally speaking, his views were very revolu- 
tionary. The greatness of Sir E. J. Reed lay in the fact 
that he was the first man to conceive of the ironclad as 
a separate and distinct entity. Previously to him the 
ironclad was merely an ordinar}^ steamer with some 
armour plating on her. 

His first ship was the Bellerophon, of 7,550 tons 
displacement. She embodied distinct novelties in the 
construction of her hull, described by her designer in the 
following passages : — * 

* Our Ironclad Shipa, by Sir E. J. Reed. 


siu I ). ki-.i I). 
Fruni 4 portr;iil made when he was Chid Conslructoi of the Brltitli Navy. 


" The Warrior and the earlier ironclads are constructed with 
deep frames, or girders, running in a longitudinal direction through 
the greater part of the length of the ship, combined with numerous 
strong transverse frames, formed of plates and angle-irons, crossing 
them at right angles. In fact, up to the height of the armour the 
ship's framing very closely resembles in its character that of the 
platform or roadway of a common girder bridge, in which the 
principal or longitudinal strength is contributed by the continuous 
girders that stretch from pier to pier, and the transverse framing 
connists of short girders fitted between and fastened to the continuous 
girders. If we conceive such a platform to be curved transversely 
to a ship-shape form, and the under side to be covered with iron 
plating, we have a very fair idea of the construction of the lower 
part of the Warrior. If, instead of this arrangement, we conceive 
the continuous longitudinal girders to be considerably deepened > 
and the transverse girders to be replaced by so-called ' bracket - 
frames,' and then, after curving this to a ship-form, add iron-plating 
on both the upper and the under sides, we have a correspondingly 
good idea of the construction of the lower part of the Bellerophon. 
The Bellero2)hon's construction is, therefore, identical in character 
with the cellular system carried out in the Menai and other tubular 
bridges, which system has been proved by the most elaborate and 
careful experiments to be that which best combines lightness and 
strength in wrought-iron structures of tubular cross-section. The 
Warrior's system, wanting, as it does, an inner skin of iron — except 
in a few places, such as under the engines and boilers — is not in 
accordance with the cellular system, and is inferior to it in strength. 
As regards safety, also, no comparison can be made between the 
system of the Warrior and that of the Bellerophon. If the bottom 
yjlating is penetrated, in most places the water must enter the 
Warrior's hold, and she must depend for safety entirely on the 
efficiency of her watertight bulkheads. If the Bellerophon s bottom 
is broken through, no danger of this kind is run. The water cannot 
enter the hold until the inner bottom is broken through, and this 
inner bottom iH not likely to be damaged by an ordinary accident, 
seeing that it is two or three feet distant from the outc^r bottom. 
Should some exceptional accident occur by which the inner bottom 
is pfnetrated, the Bellerophon would still have her watertight 
bulkheads to depend on, being, in fact, under these circumstanccH 


in a position similar to that occupied by the Warrior whenever her 
bottom plating is broken through ; while an accident which would 
prove fatal to the Warrior might leave the Bellerophon free from 
danger so long as the inner bottom remained intact." 

As to be related later, the Vanguard disaster tended 
to contra vert this optimism — but of that further on. 
The point of present interest is the recognition and 
establishment of a principle which, however common- 
place to-day, was in those days a complete novelty and 
a special feature of the iron ship as a peculiar war entity. 

Equally of interest, in some ways more so, are the 
following anticipations of torpedo possibilities. The 
torpedo is such a familiar thing to-day that it is hard 
to throw ourselves back into the point of view necessary 
to appreciate the prophetic instincts of the man who 
created the first vessels which can really be called 
" battleships." 

" It may be proper in this connection to draw attention to the 
fact that the probable employment of torpedoes in a future naval 
war has not been lost sight of in carrying out these structural 
improvements. Up to the present time torpedoes have been used 
almost solely for coast and harbour defence, and have, under those 
circumstances, proved most destructive, as a glance through the 
reports of the operations of the Federal Fleet at Charleston and 
other Confederate ports will show. It is still doubtful, however, 
whether these formidable engines of war can be supplied with 
anything like the same efficiency at sea under the vastly different 
conditions which they will there have to encounter. The Americans 
have, it is true, proposed to fit torpedo-booms to their unarmoured 
ocean-cruisers, such as the Wampanoag, and a naval war would 
doubtless at once bring similar schemes into prominence. Nothing 
less than actual warfare can be expected to set the question at rest ; 
but whatever the result of such a test may be, it is obviously a 
proper policy of construction to provide as much as possible against 
the dangers of torpedoes ; and it must be freely admitted that the 


strongest ironclad yet designed, although practically inpenetrable 
by the heaviest guns yet constructed, would be very liable to damage 
from the explosion of a submerged torpedo. No ship's bottom 
can, in fact, be made strong enough to resist the shock of such an 
explosion ; and the question consequently arises : How best can the 
structure be made to give safety against a mode of attack which 
cannot fail to cause a more or less extensive fracture of the ship's 
bottom, even if it does no more serious damage ? In our recent 
ships, as I have said, attempts have been made to give a practical 
answer to this question. Seeing that the bottom must inevitably be 
broken through by the explosion of a torpedo which exerts its full 
force upon the ship, it obviouslj^ becomes necessar}' to provide, as 
far as possible, against the danger resulting from a great in-flow of 
water. This is the leading idea which has been kept in view in 
arranging the structural details of our ships to meet this danger, 
and the reader cannot fail to perceive that the double bottom and 
watertight subdivisions described above are as available against 
injury from torpedoes as they are against the injuries resulting 
from striking the ground." 

Details of thc^ Belltrophou were as follows : — 
Displacement — 7,550 tons. 
Length — 300 ft. between perpendiculars. 
Beam — 56ft. I in. 
H.P.— (5,520. 

Mean Draught — 26ft. Tins. 
Guns— Ten 12-ton M.L.R., five 6J-ton M.L.R. 

(changed in 1890 to ten 8-in. 14-ton B.L.R., 

four 6-in., si.x 4-iF). ditto.) 
Armour (iron) — Ik*lt 6in., Batt<?ry 6iM., Bulkhead 

5in., Conning tower Sin. 
Speed— 14.17 knots. 
Coal — 650 (oiis. 

Launched — 1865 ; completed, 1866. 
(Jost- Hull ;mfl iiiaclunery— £322,701. 


The 12-ton guns were on the main deck, the 6J-ton 
on the upper deck, two of them being in an armoured bow 
battery. The Bellerophon, completed in 1866, was ship 
rigged, and carried the then novel feature of an armoured 
conning tower, abaft the mainmast.* She proved 
extremely handy, her turning circle being 559yds. as 
against 939yds. for the Minotaur and 1,050yds. for the 
Warrior. A balanced rudder, introduced in her for the 
first time, helped this result to some extent ; but the 
well thought-out design of this, the first real " battle- 
ship," was the main cause. 

The Bellerophon was followed by a series of 
" improved Bellerophons,^^ which will be dealt with later. 
First, however, it is necessary to revert to the coming of 
the turret-ship. 

So long ago as the Crimean War Captain Cowper- 
Coles had introduced the Lady Nancy, " gun-raft," 
previously mentioned in connection with that war. In 
the year 1860 his plans had matured sufficiently for him 
to make public the designs of a proposed turret ship, 
with no less than nine turrets in the centre line, each 
carrying two guns which were to recoil up a slope and 
return automatically to position. 

There has been much discussion in the past as to 
whether Coles or Ericsson, the designer of the Monitor, 
first hit upon the turret-ship idea. As a matter of fact 
neither of them invented it, as the idea was first pro- 
pounded in the 16th century, and " pivot guns " had 
long existed. In so far as adapting the idea to modern 
uses is concerned, Ericsson was first in the field, but his 
turret revolved on a spindle. The merit of the Cowper- 
Coles design was that he evolved the idea of mounting 

* The American monitors all had conning towers ; but British masted 
battleships were without them. 



the turret on a series of rollers, thus making it of real 
practical utility. 

Coles' ideal turret ship was not received officially 
with any great show of enthusiasm ; as a matter of fact it 
was an impracticable sort of ship. The famous fight 
between the Monitor and the Merrimac, early in 1862, in 
the American Civil War, was, however, followed by a 
perfect " turret craze." Turret ships were popularly 
acclaimed as essential to the preservation of British 
naval jxDwer. The idea of a sea-going ship without sail 
power was unthinkable ; but the turret ships for coast 
defence purposes were demanded with such insistence 
that in 1862 Captain Coles, now more or less a popular 
hero, was put to supervise the reconstruction of the old 
steam wooden line-of-battleship Royal Sovereign into a 
turret ironclad. 

This ship was originally a three-decker. Coles cut 
her down to the lower deck, leaving a free])oard of ten 
feet. The sides were covered with 4|-inch iron armour. 
Four turrets were mounted on Coles' roller system, the 
forward turret carrying two and the other three one 12^- 
ton gims. These turrets were generally five inclies thick, 
but at the [XDrtholes were increased up to ten inches. 
They were rotated by hand power. There was one 
funnel, in front of which a thinly armoured conning 
tower was placed. Three pole masts were fitted. This 
ship was completed in 1864, and was fairly successful on 
trials. The cost of conversion was very heavy, and 
being wooden-hulled her weight-carrying ratio was small, 
1837 tons to 3,24.'^ tons, weight of hull. 

Coles was at no time satisfitnl with this old three- 
decker as a proper t(\st of his ideas, and liis agitation 
was so far successful that the Prince Albert was presently 


built to his design. She was an iron turret-ship, 
generally resembling the Royal Sovereign, though carrying 
only one gun in each tm-ret. 
Particulars of her are : — 

Displacement — 3,880 tons. 

Length — 240ft. p.p. 

Beam — 48ft. lin. 

H.R— 2,130. 

Mean Draught — 20ft. 4ins. 

Speed — 11.65 knots. 

Coal— 230 tons. 

Guns— Four 9-in. 12-ton M.L.R. 
To the same era belong three armoured gunboats — 
Viper, Vixen, and Waterwitch — of about 1,230 tons each, 
armed with a couple of 6|-ton M.L.R. guns, armour 
4Jins. The Waterwitch, which was slightly the heavier, 
was fitted with a species of turbine, sucking water in 
ahead and ejecting it astern (a very old idea revived). 
This was moderately successful, as the trial speeds of the 
three were : — 

Viper — 8.89 knots. 

Vixen — 9.59 knots. 

Waterwitch — 9.24 knots. 
In the Vixen twin screws were for the first time 

The Prince Albert was completed in 1866, the same 
year as the Bellerophon. Long before she was completed, 
Coles was agitating for the application of his principles 
to a sea-going masted ship. 

Sir E. J. Reed has left it on record that his attitude 
in the matter was that of an interested observer. He was 
at no time blind to the advantages that the turret system 
conferred ; but, unlike the Coles' party, he was equally 


observant of its disadvantages. At a very early date he 
threw cold water on the masted turret-ship idea, and 
insisted that for a sea-going turret-ship to become 
practicable she must be mastless. He further pointed out 
that for a given weight eight guns could be mounted 
broadside fashion for four carried in turrets. 

He developed his own ideas in the Hercules, laid down 
in 1866. The Hercules, except that recessed ports were 
introduced to supply something like end-on fire to the 
battery, was an amplified Bellerophon. Particulars of the 
Hercules (which was always a very successful ship) are : — 

Displacement — 8,680 tons. 

Length— 325ft. 

Beam — 59ft. Jin. 

Mean Draught — 26ft. 6ins. 

H.P.— ^,750. 

Guns— Eight 18-ton M.L.R., two 12J-ton M.L.R., four 
6J-ton M.L.R. 

Armour (iron) — 9in. 6in. Belt and Battery. 

Speed — 14.00 kts. (14.69 on the measured mile trials). 

Coal— 610 tons. 

Cost^ — Hull and machinery, £361,134. 
The Hercules was completed in 1868, contempor- 
aneously with the completion of the Agincourt and 
Northumberland, which were very slowly finished. 

At and about the same time the Penelope was built. 
She was desiti^ncd for light draught and river service, her 
maximum draught being kei)t down to 17. Ut. Slie 
carried eight 9-ton guns and had a 6-inch belt. Sir E. 
J. Reed being absent from office, his chief assistant, 
afterwards Sir N. Barnaby, was mainly responsible for 
this shij). She was given twin screws. 


Captain Coles meanwhile continued to demand 
turret-ships, and in 1865 submitted a design for a sea- 
going turret-ship, which was referred to a Committee of 
Naval Officers. They declined to approve the design, 
but expressed mush interest in the principle involved, 
and recommended that an Admiralty design on similar 
principles should be worked out, and a ship built to it. 
This eventuated in the Monarch, which in substance was 
an ordinary ironclad of less freeboard than usual (14ft.) 
-with two turrets on the upper deck, carrying each a pair 
of the heaviest guns then in existence (25 tons). 

It is difficult to ascertain what part (if any) Sir 
E. J. Reed had in the design of the Monarch. At a later 
date in the work already referred to (1869) he criticised 
her severely enough.* 

" I have already intimated that the enlarged adoption of the 
turret system has usually been associated in my mind with those 
classes of vessels in which masts and sails are not required. It is 
Avell known that others have taken a wider view of its applicability, 
and have contended that it is, and has all along been, perfectly well 
adapted for rigged vessels. I have never considered it wholly 
inapplicable to such vessels : on the contrary, I have myself projected 
designs of sea-going and rigged turret-ships, which I believe to be 
safe, commodious, and susceptible of perfect handling under canvas. 
But most assuredly the building of such vessels was urged by many 
persons long before satisfactory methods of designing them had 
been devised ; and my clear and strong conviction at the moment 
of writing these lines (March 31, 1869) is that no satisfactorily 
designed turret-ship with rigging has j^et been built, or even laid 

" The most cursory consideration of the subject will, I think, 

result in the feeling that the middle of the upper deck of a full- 

* At a subsequent date, after he had left the Admiralty, he designed the 
Independencia for Brazil. This ship, afterwards bought into the British 
Navy as the Neptune, was simply an enlarged Monarch. Probably, however, 
the general features of the ship were specified by the Brazilians. 





"" '« a ■ 




jr i»a •>•> ^^ 

Hki>\|>s|l.l \\l» ihMIVKI llXITIK'i Mill's "1 1111 KIII> I K \ 


rigged ship is not a very eligible position for lighting large guns. 
Anyone who has stood upon the deck of a frigate, amid the maze 
of ropes of all kinds and sizes that surrounds him, must fee! that to 
bring even guns of moderate size away from the port holes, to 
place them in the midst of these ropes, and discharge them there, 
is utterly out of the question ; and the impracticability of that 
mode of proceeding must increase in proportion as the size and 
power of the guns are increased. But as a central position, or a 
nearly central position, is requisite for the turret, this difficulty 
has had to be met by many devices, some of them tending to reduce 
the number of the ropes, and others to get them stopped short above 
the guns. In the former category come tripod masts ; in the latter, 
flying-decks over the turrets ; the former have proved successful 
in getting rid of shrouds, but they interfere seriously with the fire 
of the turret guns, and are exposed to the danger of being shot 
awaj' by them in the smoke of action ; the latter are under trial, 
but however successful they may prove in some respects, they will 
be very inferior in point of comfort and convenience to the upper 
decks of broadside frigates. In the case of the Monarch, which has 
& lofty upper deck, neither a tripod system nor a fi^'ing deck for 
working the ropes upon has been adopted. A light Hying deck to 
receive a portion of the boats, and to afford a passage for the officers 
above the turrets, has been fitted ; but the ropes will be worked 
upon the upper deck over which the turrets have to fire, and conse- 
quently a thousand contrivances have had to be made for keeping 
both the standing and running rigging tolerably clear of the guns. 
It seems to me out of the question to suppose that such an arrange- 
ment can ever become general in the British Navy, especially when 
one contrasts the Monarch with the Hercules as a rigged man-of-war. 
Nor is the matter at all improved, in my opinion, in the case of 
the Captain and other rigged turret-ships in which th(^ ropes have 
to be worked upon bridges or flying-decks jioised in the air above 
tho turrets. 8uch bridges or decks, even if they withstand for long 
the repeated fire of the ship's own guns, must of necessity bo 
mountod u])on a few supports only ; and I am apprehensive that 
in action an enemy's fire would bring down parts, at least, of these 
cumbrous structures, with their bitts, blocks, ropes, and the thousand 
and one othor fittings with whi -h a rigged ship's dcrk is encumbered, 
with what result I nrxsd not predict. 


" It is well known that both in the Captain and in the Monarch 
the turrets have been deprived of their primary and supreme 
advantage, that of providing an all-round fire for the guns, and 
more especially a head fire. This deprivation is consequent upon 
the adoption of forecastles, which are intended to keep the ships 
dry in steaming against a head sea, and to enable the head-sails to 
be worked. When it first became known that the Monarch was 
designed with a forecastle (by order of the then Board of Admiralty) 
there were not wanting persons who considered the plan extremely 
objectionable, and who took it for granted that as a turret-ship the 
new vessel would be fatally defective. The design of the Captain 
shortly afterwards, under the direction of Captain Coles, with a 
similar but much larger forecastle, was an admission, however, that 
the Board of Admiralty did not stand alone in the belief that this 
feature was a necessity, however objectionable. Both these ships, 
therefore, are without a right-ahead fire from the turrets, the 
Monarch having this deficiency partly compensated by two fore- 
castle (6|-ton) guns protected with armour, while the Captain has 
no protected head-fire at all, but merely one gun (6^-ton) standing 
exposed on the top of the forecastle." 

Time has shown that he was quite correct in his 
views ; but in 1866 and the years that followed he was 
regarded as unduly conservative and non-progressive. 

Captain Coles objected to the Monarch altogether. 
He insisted with vehemence that she did not in the least 
express his ideas. She had a high forecastle, also a 
poop ; these features depriving her of end-on fire, except 
in so far as a couple of 6J-ton guns in an armoured 
forecastle supplied the deficiency. The Admiralty 
replied that a forecastle was essential for sea-worthiness ; 
but Coles was so insistent that eventually he was allowed 
to design a sea-going turret-ship on his own ideas, in 
conjunction with Messrs. Laird, of Birkenhead, who had 
already had considerable experience in producing masted 





Z\*Xt. . !■ 





-. It o t<a 






turret-ships.* Coles was given a free hand. As a naval 
officer his form of turret displays the practical mind ; 
as a ship designer he was simply the raw amateur. The 
Captain, which he produced, accentuated every fault of 
the Monarch, except in the purely technical matter of 
rigging being in the way of the guns. Coles got over this 
by fitting tripod masts (which Laird's had evolved before 
himf) ; but for the hght flying bridges of the Monarch 
he substituted a very considerable superstructure erection. 
For the Monarch's armoured two-gun forecastle, which 
he had so violently condemned, he substituted a much 
larger unarmoured, one-gun structure. Owing to an 
error in design, his intended 8-ft. freeboard was actually 
only 6ft., and his ideal ship resulted in nothing but a 
Monarch of less gun power, and of 8ft. less freeboard. 
Her fate is dealt with later. Details of the two ships 
are : — 

1 Captain. 


Displacement .... 

Length {p.p.) 


6900 tons. 

320 feet. 

53 iei'A. 

25ft. 9Jin. (mean). 

Four 25 ton M.L.R., 

two 6J ton, do. 
500 tonH.*» 

14.25 ktH. (twin screws). 
8-6 incht'H. 
13-8 inches. 

8320 tons. 
330 feet. 
57 i feet. 


26ft. 7in. {max.) 

Four 25 ton M.L.R., 


three 6it ton, do. J 
030 tons. ' 


14.94 (single screw). 

Watorline Belt 


7-6 inchoR. 
10-8 inches. 



It has been said that Captain Coles was tied do^vn 
by Admiralty ideas that a sea-going shij) must have 

• The Scorpion and Wivem, built for the Confederate States and bought 
in 1865. The Peruvian Htumrnr alHO anUvdatod tht> (Captain in design. All 
of thcjHO were low freeboard shipn. C<jlfH had snnjething to do with the 
dcHigriH of all. 

t All the iibovo HhipH htu\ one or more tripod iniistH. 

X For two of thoHo, 12i| ton M.L.K. wore afterwards Hubatitulvd. 

•♦ Cole« had projected 1,000 tons ; but 500 was all that she could take. 



auxiliary sail power. All the evidence is, however, to 
the effect that not only did he recognise this limitation 
from the first, but that he concurred with it and believed 
his design to fill the conditions best. It failed to do so, 
the Monarch under all conditions doing far better than 
the Captain on trial (except occasionally under sail). 

Sir E. J. Reed's objections to the Captain design 
have already been mentioned. He was not the only 
critic, since Laird's, of Birkenhead, who built the ship, 
were so suspicious of the design that they requested the 
Admiralty to submit her to severe tests for stability. 

The ship, however, came through these tests very 
well, and the public were more convinced than ever that 
she was the finest warship ever built. One or two naval 
officers who had criticised her also modified their opinions 
after she had done a couple of very successful cruises 
across the Bay of Biscay. Her crew had the utmost 
confidence in her. She was commanded by Captain 
Burgoyne, and Captain Coles was also on board her 
when she made her third cruise in September, 1871. 

On the 6th September she was off Cape Finisterre in 
compan}^ with the Channel Fleet, consisting of the Lord 
Warde7i, Minotaur, Agincourt, Northumberland, MoTiarch, 
Hercules, Bellerophon, and the unarmoured ships /??- 
constant and Bristol. Admiral Milne came on board her 
from the Lord Warden, and drew attention to the fact 
that she was rolling a great deal,* but nobody on board 
the Captain agreed with him that this was dangerous. 
During the night a heavy gale suddenly arose, and 
in the morning the Captain was missing. Eighteen 
survivors reached the land with the story of what had 

* She was then rolling from 12| to 14 degrees. 

/*-■ S£^ 


From this it appears that about midnight the sliip 
was under her topsails, double reefed. She had steam up, 
but was not using her screw. The ship gave a heavy 
lurch, righted herself, and the captain gave the order, 
*' Let go the topsail halyards," and immediately after- 
wards, " Let go fore and main topsail sheets." The ship, 
however, continued to heel, and " 18 degrees " was 
called out. This increased until 28 degrees was arrived 
at. W^ith the ship lying over on her side some of the 
crew succeeded in walking over her bottom, and these 
were practically the only survivors. Immediately after- 
wards the ship went down stern first. There were at 
this time some five and twenty survivors, including 
Captain Burgoyne and Mr. May, the gunner. Some of 
these were in the launch, others clinging to the pinnace, 
which was floating bottom upwards. Captain Burgoyne 
was amongst those who were clinging to the pinnace, 
and that was the last seen of him. A few of the men in 
the pinnace succeeded in jumping into the launch and 
so escaped. The rest were never seen again. 

The subsequent court-martial placed it on record 
that " the Captain was built in deference to public 
opinion and in opposition to the views and opinions of 
the Controller of the Navy and his Department." The 
instability of the ship and the incompetence of Captain 
<bles to design her were em])hasised. 

After the loss of the Cwplain considerable panic on 
the subject of turret-ships arose. The Moyiarch was 
submitted to a number of tests which, however, generally 
proved satisfactory, and there was never anything to be 
said against her excei>t that tlie forecastle and the poop 
necessitated by her being a rigged ship, negatived one of 
tlic principal advantages of the turret system. 


To the loss of the Captain is to be traced some of 
the extraordinary opposition which the Devastation idea 
subsequently encountered. 

The various writings of Sir E. J. Reed make it 
abundantly clear that just as in the Belter ophon he had 
realised that an ironclad battleship must be something 
more than an old-type vessel with some armour on her, 
so he realised from the first that the ordinary sea-going 
warship with turrets on deck, instead of guns in the 
battery, was no true solution of the turret problem. 
There is ample evidence that he studied the monitors of 
the American Civil War with a balanced intelligence far 
ahead of his day, taking into consideration every pro and 
con with absolute impartiality, and applying the know- 
ledge thus gained to the different conditions required for 
the British Fleet. It is no exaggeration to say that 
he was the only man who really kept his head while the 
turret-ship controversy reigned ; the one man who 
thought while others argued. 

He swiftly recognised the tremendous limitations of 
the American low-freeboard monitors, and at an early 
date evolved his own idea of the " breastwork monitor," 
which began with the Australian Cerberus, and ended with 
the predecessor of the present Dreadnought. The shij^s 
of this type varied considerably from each other in detail ; 
but the general principle of all wa^s identical. All, 
whether coast -defence or sea-going, were " mastless " ; 
all, while of low freeboard fore and aft, carried their 
turrets fairly high up on a heavily armed redoubt amid- 
ships. Side by side with them he developed the central 
battery ironclads of this particular era. He ceased to 
be Chief Constructor before either type reached its 

a m \ 




■ .1 






apotheosis ; but all ma}^ be deemed lineal descendants of 
his original creations. 

First, however, it is desirable to revert to the Reed 
broadside and central battery-ships. 

The Audacious class, which followed closely upon 
the Hercules, and were contemporary in the matter of 
design, were avowedly " second-class ships," intended 
for service in distant seas. The ships of this class, of 
which the first was completed in 1869 and the last 
in 1873, were the Audacious, Itivincible, Iron Duke, 
Vanguard, Siviftsure, and Triumph. As the sketch plan 
illustrations indicate, the main deck battery in them 
was more centralised than in the Hercules, while instead 
of the bow battery they carried on their ujjper decks four 
6|-ton guns capable of firing directly ahead or astern. 

Excluding the converted ships, the Audacious was 
the eleventh British ironclad to be designed in point of 
date of laying down, but in the matter of design she 
followed directly on the eighth ship — Hercules. 

Her weights, as compared with the Bellerophon, 
were : — 


Weight of hull. 

Weight carried. 



.■{(>o2 tons. 
2675 tons. 

3798 tons. 
3234 tons. 

In some of these ships the principle of wood-copper 
sheathing was re-introduced ; the iron ships having 
been found to foul their hulls more quickly than wooden 
liullcd ships. The Siviftsure and Triumph (the two 
latest) were the ones so treated. Sir E. J. Heed was not 
responsible for the experiment, wliich was entirely an 
Admiralty one. It proved successful enough, the loss 
of speed being trifling. 



Details of the Audacious class 
Displacement — 6,010. 
Length— 280ft. 
Beam — 54ft. 
H.P.— 4,830. 

Mean Draught— 23ft. Sins. 
Guns— Ten 12-ton M.L.R. 
Coal— 500 tons. 
Belt Armour — Sins, to 6ins. 



Iron Duke 












Builder of 







Biailder of 







Launched . . 







Campleted . 








& Machin'y. 






The sheathing increased the displacement of the two 
latest ships by about 900 tons in the Swiftsure, and some 
600 tons in the Triumph. These two were single-screw 
ships only, whereas all the others were twin-screw. 

In September, 1875, the Vanguard was rammed and 
sunk by the Iron Duke. 

The finding of the Court Martial was as follows : — 

" The court having heard the evidence which had been adduced 

in this inquiry and trial, is of opinion that the loss of Her Majesty's 

ship Vanguard was occasioned by Her Majesty's ship Iron Duke 

coming into collision with her off the Kisbank, the Irish Channel, 

at about 12-50 on the 1st September, from the effects of which she 

foundered ; that such collision was caused — First, by the high rate 

of speed at which the squadron, of which these vessels formed a 

* The Audacious herself was " modernised " in the later eighties. Her 
sailing rig was removed and a " military rig " substituted. Some minor 
changes in her leaser guns were also made. 


part, was proceeding whilst in a fog ; secondly, by Captain Dawkins, 
when leader of his division, leaving the deck of the ship before the 
evolution which was being performed was completed, as there were 
indications of foggy weather at the time ; thirdly, by the unnecessary 
reduction of speed of H.M.S. Vanguard without a signal from the 
vice-admiral in command of the squadron, and without H.M.S. 
Vanguard making the proper signals to the Iron Duke ; fourthly, 
by the increase of speed of H.M.S. Iron Duke during a dense fog, 
the speed being already high ; fifthly, by H.M.S. Iron Duke 
improperly shearing out of the line ; sixthly, for want of any fog 
signals on the part of H.M.S. Iron Duke. 

" The court is further of opinion that the cause of the loss of 
H.M.S. Vanguard by foundering was a breach being made in her side 
by the prow of H.M.S. Iron Duke in the neighbourhood of the most 
important transverse bulkhead — namely, that between the engine 
and boiler rooms, causing a great of water into the engine-room, 
shaft-alley, and stoke-hole, extinguishing the fires in a few minutes, 
the water eventually finding its way into the provision room flat, 
and provision rooms through imperfectly fastened watertight doors, 
and owing to leakage of 99 bulkhead. The court is of opinion that 
the foundering of H.M.S. Vanguard might have been delayed, if not 
averted, by Captain Dawkins giving instructions for immediate 
action being taken to get all available pumps worked, instead of 
employing his crew in hoisting out boats, and if Captain Dawkins, 
Commander Tandy, Navigating-Lieutenant Thomas, and Mr. David 
Tiddy, carpenter, had shown more resource and energy in endeavour- 
ing to stop the breach from the outside by means at their command, 
such as hammocks and sails — and the court is of opinion that Captain 
Dawkins should have ordered Captain Hicklcy, of H.M.S. Iron Duke, 
to tow H.M.S. Vanguard into shallow water. The court is of opinion 
that blame is imputable to Captain Dawkins for exhibiting want of 
judgment and for neglect of duty in handling his ship, and that he 
showed a want of re«ource, yjromptitude, and decision in the means 
ho adopted for saving H.M.S. Vanguard after the collision. The 
court is further of o))inion that blame is imputable to Navigating- 
Lieutenant Thomas for neglect of duty in not pointing out to his 
captain that there was shallower water within a short distance, and 
in not having offered any suggestion as to the stopping of the leak 
on the outside. The court is further f)f opinion thai Commander 


Tandy showed great want of energy as second in command under 
the circumstances. The court is further of opinion that Mr. Brown, 
the chief engineer, showed want of promptitude in not applying the 
means at his command to relieve the ship of water. The court is 
further of opinion that blame is imputable to Mr, David Tiddy, of 
H.M.S. Vanguard, for not offering any suggestions to his captain 
as to the most efficient mode of stopping the leak, and for not taking 
immediate steps for sounding the compartments and reporting from 
time to time the progress of the water. The court adjudges Captain 
Richard Dawkins to be severely reprimanded and dismissed from 
H.M.S. Vanguard and he is hereby severely reprimanded and so 
sentenced accordingly. The court adjudges Commander Lash wood 
Goldie Tandy and Navigating-Lieutenant James Cambridge Thomas 
to be severely reprimanded, and they hereby are severely reprimanded 
accordingly. The court imputes no blame to the other officers and 
ship's company of H.M.S. Vanguard in reference to the loss of the 
ship, and they are hereby acquitted accordingly." 

This disaster drew attention to the ram, the more 
so when it became known that the Iron Duke was 
uninjured. Ram tactics had, of course, been heard of 
before, and had been discussed at great length by Sir 
Edward Reed in 1868. At that date, although one or 
two special ram-ships had been built. Sir E. J. Reed had 
expressed a certain amount of scepticism as to whether 
the ram could be successfully used in connection with a 
ship in motion, and pointed out that in the historical 
instance of the Be d^ Italia at the battle of Lissa, the ship 
was stationary. He further had written : — * 

" Even if the side were thus broken through, any one of our 
iron-built ships would most probably remain afloat, although her 
efficiency would be considerably impaired, the water which would 
enter being confined to the watertight compartment of the hold, 
enclosed by bulkheads crossing the ship at a moderate distance 
before and abaft the part broken through. In fact, under these 
circumstances the ship struck would be in exactly the same condition 
* Our Ironclad Ships, by Sir E. J. Reed. 


French Ram TAUREAU (I865J 




61. AT TON 


P» 100 T5 SO il 

100 FV 




as an ordinary iron ship which by any accident has had the bottom 
plating broken, and one of the hold-compartments filled with water, 
so that we have good reason to believe that her safetj- need not be 
despaired of, unless, by the blow being delivered at, or very near, 
a bulkhead, more than one compartment should be injured and 
filled. AH iron ships can thus be protected to some extent against 
being sunk by a single blow of a ram, and our own vessels have the 
further and important protection of the watertight wings just 
described ; but wood ships are not similarly safe. One hole in the 
side of the Re d'ltalia sufficed to sink her ; but this would scarcely 
have been possible in an iron ship with properly arranged watertight 
compartments. The French, in their latest ironclads, have become 
alive to this danger, and have fitted transverse iron bulkheads 
in the holds of wood-built ships in order to add to their safety. 
No doubt this is an improvement, but our experience with wood 
ships leads us to have grave doubts whether these bulkheads can be 
made efficient watertight divisions in the hold, on account of the 
working that is sure to take place in a wood hull. This fact adds 
another to the arguments previously advanced in favour of iron 
hulls for armoured ships ; for it appears that an iron-built ship, 
constructed on the system of our recent ironclads, is comparatively 
safe against destruction by a ram, unless she is repeatedly attacked 
when in a disabled state, while a wood-built ship may, and most 
likely will, be totally lost in consequence of one well-delivered 
heavy blow." 

This is in strange contrast to the fate of the Van- 
gitard, but the finding of the court-martial indicates 
that the precautions taken were hardly such as were 
comtemplated by the ship's designer ! Furthermore, she 
appears to have been struck immediately on one of the 
water-tight bulklieads, and so, instead of being left with 
seven of her eight compartments unfilled, she had only 
six unfilled. The shock, also, was such that most of the 
other bulkheads started leaking ; and in addition to this 
the double bottom is said to have been filled with bricks 


and cement,* and so less operative than it might other- 
wise have been, since any shock on the outer bottom 
would thus be immediately communicated to the inner 

The actual successor of the Hercules^ in the matter 
of first-class ships, was the Sultan. She differed from 
the Hercules merely in a somewhat increased draught 
and displacement, and increased provision for end-on 
bow fire — four 12 J- ton guns able to fire ahead being 
substituted for the one smaller gun in the Hercules. 

This end-on fire was given because ram-tactics were 
then coming greatly into favour. Particulars of the 
Sultan,'\ which was the last of the central battery iron- 
clads to be designed and built by Sir E. J. Reed, are as 
follows : — 

Displacements — 9,290 tons. 

Length— 325ft. 

Beam — 59ft. Jin. 

H.P.— 7,720. " 

Mean Draught — 26ft. 5ins. 

Guns— Eight 18-ton M.L.Pv., four 121-ton M.L.R. 

Coal— 810 tons. 

Armour (iron) — 9ins., 8ins., and Gins. 

Speed — 14.13 knots (single screw). 

Builder of Ship — Chatham. 

Builder of Machinery — Penn. 

Cost — Hull and machinery, £357,415. 

Launched — 1870 ; completed for sea in 1871. 

* Ironclads in Action, by H. W. Wilson. 

t The Sultan was built as a ship-rigged ship. In 1894-96 she was " recon- 
structed,'' two military masts being substituted for her original rig. She 
was also re-engined and re-boilered by Messrs. Thompson, of Clydebank. 
Beyond going out for the naval manoeuvres one year she did not. however, 
perform anj' service in her altered condition, and is now used as a hulk. 


i .;: *> :.<fc:, a 






''im»ym»}>^7^ •:•:■:■■:•■ ;■;;.■-.-.■.> ^■~ 


. r.n n f1 

1 1 {^777777777^ 

• ,;— — ' ' F ' ^ ' y 

7S Ml 


SCA. > 







Sir E. J. Reed's " breastwork monitors " have 
already been referred to. They were received with Httle 
enthusiasm by the Admiralty, and the first of them were 
merel}" Colonial coast defence vessels. These were : — 

! Displ'm't. 
Name. | Tons. 





Cerberus ' 3480 







AbyssinUi 2900 

Magdala | 3340 


In general design all were identical, a redoubt amid- 
ships carrying two centre line turrets and a small oval 
superstructure between. Twin screws were employed. 

The belief in the ram already alluded to had by now 
attained such proportions that a ship specially designed 
for ramming was called for, and the Hotspur was the 
result. Nothing written by Sir E. J. Reed (and he wrote 
a great deal) indicates that he was in sympathy with her 
design, though nominally responsible. The Hotspur was 
not even a turret-ship. She carried a fixed armoured 
structure of considerable size,* inside of which a single 
25-ton gun revolved, firing through the most convenient 
of several ports. She was fitted with two masts with 
fore and aft sails. Particulars of her were : — 

Displacement — 4,010 tons. 

Length— 235ft. 

Beam— 50ft. 

H. P.— 3,000. 

Mean Draught— 21ft. lOins. 

Guns— One 25-ton M.L.R., two 6.5-ton. 

Belt Armour -llin. to Sin. ; com[)lote belt. 

Turret /Vrmour — lOin. 

• Latpr on thin was removefl uiid un ordinary revolving turrot, carrying 
two 25 ton gunH, uubHtitutcd. 


Coal— 300 tons. 

Speed — 12.8 knots (twin-screw). 

Builder — Napier, Glasgow. 

Launched — 1870 ; completed, 1871. 

Cost — Hull and machinery, £171,528. 

She was built solely and simply as an " answer " to 
a series of " rams " projected for the French Navy, 
apparently more with an Admiralty idea of not being 
caught napping " in case," than from any belief in her 

Sir E. J. Reed's ideas in the matter of turret-ships 
now found expression in four ships of the Cerberus type 
enlarged. These were the Cyclops^ Gorgon, Hecate, and 
Hydra. Like their prototype, they were of the breast- 
work type, and differed only in having an inch more belt 
armour and a displacement of 3,560 tons. Differing from 
them, and perhaps more on Reed lines, was the -Glatton. 
Her special feature was the introduction of water to 
reduce her freeboard in action. She had a single turret 
only, but her belt was 12ins. thick, and she represented 
the, then, " last word " in coast defence ships, so far as 
the British Navy was concerned. Details of her are as 
follows : — 

Displacement — 4,910 tons. 

Length— 245ft. 

Beam — 54ft. 

H.R— 2,870. 

Mean Draught — 19ft. 5ins. 

Guns— Two 25-ton M.L.R. 

Armour (iron) — 12-lOin. Belt Turret, 14in. 

Coal — 540 tons. 

Speed — 12.11 knots (twin screw). 


Builder of Ship — Chatham Dockyard. 

Builder of Machinery — Laird. 

Floated out of Dock — 1871 ; completed, 1871. 

Cost— Hull and Machinery, £219,529. 
The last ship of this group was the ram Rupert, of 
5.440 tons, laid down at Chatham, in 1870. She was, 
in substance, merely an enlarged Hotspur, carr3dng two 
18-ton guns in a single revolving turret forward and two 
64-pounders behind the bulwarks aft. Her armour was 
shghtly inferior to the Glattoii's : her speed considerably 
higher — 14 knots being aimed at, though it was never 
reached. She was one of the very few ships which had 
their engines built in a Royal Dockyard, hers being 
constructed at Portsmouth Yard. 

About the 3^ear 1890, when re-construction was very 
much to the fore, the Rupert was re-constructed. She 
was given a couple of lOin. breech-loaders instead of her 
old lOin. M.L., a military-top, and a few other improve- 
ments. The net result of this re-construction was that 
when, after it, she first proceeded to coal she began to 
submerge herself almost at once. Her tori)edo tubes 
were awash before she had received her normal quota oi 
coal, and she was, generally, the most futile example of 
re-construction ever experienced. 

The failure was such that thereafter no further 
attempt to modernise old shij)s was ever made ; instead, 
a policy of " scrapping " all such was introduced. This 
is probably the best service that the Rupert ever rendered 
to the Navy. She demonstrated for all time that — so 
far as the British Navy was conceriuid — modernising was 
a hopeless task. It took France and Germany many 
years U) Icam a similar lesson. To-day, it is generally 
recognised that, as a ship is comj)leted, she represents 


the best that can be got out of her ; and that any 
attempt to improve her in any one direction merely 
spells reduced efficiency in some other. Hence the 
apparently early scrapping of many ships of later date 
and the present day proverb, " Re-construction never 

The whole of the series, however, can only be 
regarded as improvements on the old Prince Albert idea. 
Sir E. J. Reed's real answer to the Captain was the 
Devastation, designed in 1868, but not completed till 
1873 ; at which date he had left the Admiralty. The 
Devastation and the Thunderer (completed four years later 
than her sister) cost Sir E. J. Reed his position. In them 
he introduced all his ideas as to what the sea-going 
turret-ship should be. He carried the Admiralty with 
him ; but before ev^er the Devastation was set afloat, it 
was " proved " to the satisfaction of the general public 
that she was an " egregious failure." The date of her 
design is about 1868, though, as mentioned above, she 
was not completed till 1873. The Dreadnought of more 
or less these times was nothing in the way of novelty 
compared to the Devastation of the later sixties. 

Details of the Devastation (laid down Nov., 1869), 
were : — 

Displacement — 9,330 tons. 

Length— 385ft. 

Beam— 62ft. 3ins. 

Mean Draught — 25ft. 6ins. 

H.P.— 6,650. 

Guns— Four 35-ton M.L.R.* 

Belt Armour — 12in. and lOin. (iron). 

Turret Armour — 14in. (iron). 

* About the year 1890-2 Devastation and Thunderer were re-boilered and 
re-armed with 10-inch B.L.R. 


Coal— 1,800 tons. 

Speed — 13.84 knots (twin-screw). 

Where Built — Portsmouth Dockyard. 

Builder of Machinery — Humphrys. 

Launched — 1871 ; completed, 1873. 

Cost— Hull and Machinery, £353,848. 
On her trials the Devastation proved completely 
successful. An interesting and little known item in 
connection with her is that as designed she was to carry 
two signal masts,* one forward of the turrets, one aft. 
For these, on completion, a single mast on the super- 
structure was substituted. 

How the Devastation, even after successful com- 
pletion, was received by the public can be gleaned 
from the following extracts from the contemporary 
press : — j 

'■ It is a weakness with the officers and men of any of Her 
Majesty's ships to ' crack up ' the vessels to which they belong, and 
it is rarely that a bluejacket growls openlj' against his ship. The 
warm confidence expressed in the ill-fated Captain by her unfortunate 
crew is well remembered, and is sufficient to prove that even the 
first of this necessarily uncomfortable class of monitors was not met 
by the seamen of the Bleet in any complaining spirit, but that they 
Hubmitted to the discomforts imposed upon them with characteristio 
cheerfulness. When, therefore, an unmistakable feeling of dis- 
satisfaction prevails throughout a ship, and no hesitation is shown 
in expressing it, we may be certain that there is some valid reason 
for so unusual an occurrence. We hesitated to give cvirrency to 
reports which reached us during the cruise of the Devastation 
around the coast with the Channel Squadron, as we had good 
reason to believe that it was the intention of the Admiralty to 
j)ay her off, and berth her in Portsmf)uth harbour as a lender to 

* r.f. FrontiHpieco to Our Ironrlad Ships, E. J. Reed, 
t Na^-al ami Military Gazette. 


the Excellent, the advantage of so doing being that a very large 
number of men passing through the School of Gunnery would thus 
be enabled to become acquainted with the latest improvements in 
the turret system. . . . But since the arrival at the Admiralty 
of Rear-Admiral Hornby, late in command of the Channel Squadron, 
who certainly should be able to form a correct estimate of the 
Devastation's fitness in every respect for sea service, it has been 
determined that she shall be ordered to Gibraltar, there probably 
to remain during the coming winter as a kind of ' guardo.' A cruise 
across the bay in the month of November is not looked forward to 
bj^ the present crew, who have had a little experience both of being 
stifled by being battened down and of being nearly blown out of 
their hammocks when efforts at ventilation are made by opening 
every hatch. Her qualities as a sea-boat have been fairly tested, 
and the present notion of filling her up with stores for six months' 
further service, and then stowing her away at Gibraltar, leads to 
the conclusion that on this point at least the value of the counsel 
of the First Lord's new Naval adviser is not altogether apparent. 

. . . . It is needless to comment on the facts. Thej'^ speak 
for themselves. The condensers will be repaired, no doubt, and 
strengthened and modified ; but no engineer can guarantee that they 
will not fail again, or, if they turn out a permanent job, that the 
cylinders will not split, or some other of the mishaps to which 
marine engines in the Navy are subject may not happen. If the 
failure takes place in the day of battle it will constitute little short 
of a national calamity. Even as it is, it must be looked on as a most 
fortunate circumstance that the sea was perfectly smooth and the 
vessel near a port. Had the breakdown occurred during the six 
hours' run of the ship — which was to have been made on Wednesday 
— and in a stiff breeze blowing on a lee shore, the ship might have 
been lost before an effort could have been made to save her. Very 
important improvements in marine engines of large size must be 
made before we can reconcile ourselves to the adoption of mastless 
sea-going monitors." 

With such labour and travail was the modern 
British battleship born ! Public opinion decidedly 
modified naval construction — leading, as it did, to a 


considerable delay with the Thunderer,^ the re-designing 
of the Fury, and the building of some old-type ships 
which else had probably never been constructed. 

As already mentioned, Sir E. J. Reed left the 
Admiralty before the Devastation was completed. None 
the less the ships which immediately followed were in 
all essential particulars " Reed Ships," and so are 
included in this chapter. 

The Devastation, owing to the Committee on Designs, 
received certain minor modifications before completion. 
These mainly concerned the hatches. Her sister ship, 
the Thunderer, built at Pembroke and engined by 
Humphrys, was held back, pending the Devastation's 
trials, and not completed till 1877. 

Save that in one turret she carried a couple of 38 
ton (12.5-inch) instead of 35 ton (12-inch) guns, she was 
a replica of the Devastation. 

A third ship of the same type, named the Fury, 
was in hand, but criticisms of the Devastation caused 
her to be re-designed, and she was eventually completed 
as the Dreadnov/jht. In her the very low freeboard 
forward and aft of the Devastation type was done away with 
and freeboard maintained at a uniform medium height. 

The Devastation and Thunderer had their armour- 
plates amidships i^ierced with square port-holes. These 
with some reason were attacked as likely to weaken the 
armour very considerably, and the Dreadnought was 
built entirely wall-sided and so depended on artificial 
ventilation, known in the Navy in those days as " potted 
air," even more than her predecessors. 

Particulars of the Dreadnought : — 
Displacement — 10,820 tons. 
Ix-ngth— 320ft. 

• Hhfi wiiH uhout nin»! ycnrH from layiinj down to complotioii ! Q 


Beam— 63ft. lOin. 

Draught— 26ft. 9in. 

Armament — Four 38-ton M.L.R., two 14in. 

torpedo tubes. 
Armour (iron) — Belt 14-llin., Bulkheads 13in., 

Turrets 14in. 
H.P.— 8,210=12.40 knots. 
In the original design of the Fury provision was 
made for a conning tower with a heavily-armoured 
communication tube. She proved a very successful 
ship. No sisters were ordered, probably because the 
Admiralty wished to see how she did before committing 
themselves to the type. Ere she was finished a 
different fashion in warships had set in. The cost of the 
Dreadnought was about £600,000. 

The Alexandra was designed long after Reed had 
left the Admiralty. That famous constructor had nothing 
whatever to do with her. None the less she was the 
apotheosis of his box-battery ironclad ideas and for that 
reason is included in his era. She was simply an 
" improved Sultan.'''' 

Particulars of her : — 

Displacement — 9,490 tons. 

Length (between perpendiculars) — 325ft. 

Beam— 63|ft. 

Draught— 261ft. 

Armament — Four 25-ton M.L., ten 18-ton M.L., 

four above-water torpedo dischargers (14in.) 
Armour (iron) — 12-6in. belt, flat deck on top of 

it. Bulkheads 8-5in. Batter}^ 12-6in. 
Horse-power — 9,810=15 knots. 
Coal — 680 tons =2,700 knots at 10 knots (nominal). 
She was built at Chatham Dockyard ; engined by 
Humphry s ; completed for sea, 1877. 



Four of the 18-ton guns were carried in an upper 
deck battery, and had end-on training. The other guns 
were carried in the main-deck battery, which was some 
10ft. high. The 25-ton guns had a right-ahead training. 

After completion she served as Mediterranean flag- 
ship, though at the bombardment of Alexandria the flag 
was transferred to the Invincible, which, being of lighter 
draught, was able to enter the inner harbour. At a later 
date (about 1890) she was " partially reconstructed." 
For her original barque rig a three-masted miUtary rig 
was substituted, and six 4-inch Q.F. were mounted on top 
of her upper deck battery. She has been described as the 
apotheosis of Reed broadside ideas, and a very apotheosis 
she was. No broadside or central battery ironclad of 
the British or any other Navy ever equalled her, and she 
dropped out of the first rank only because the big gun 
rendered broadside ships entirely obsolete. 


The principal guns (all M.L.R.) in the Reed Era 
were as follows : — 

Weight 1 
in i 

Bore in 



Weight of 












I at 



































































In the early part of the period Armstrong breech- 
loaders up to 120 pounders had been in use, but the 
elementary breech blocks were so unsatisfactory that 
the Navy quickly discarded them, and adhered to 
muzzle-loaders long after all other Powers had given 
them up. 

The big muzzle loaders tabulated were of a very 
elementary type also. They were made by shrinking 
red hot wrought-iron collars over a steel tube ; and it 
was never quite certain how far the interior would be 
affected. The projectiles never fitted accurately, with 
the result that there was considerable leakage of gas and 
very erratic firing. The rifling consisted of five or six 
grooves into which studs in the projectile fitted. 

In 1872 some experiments were carried out, the 
Hotspur firing at the GlattorCs turret at a range of 200 
yards. The first shot missed altogether, the other two 
struck the turret, but not at the point aimed at. The 
turret was not appreciably damaged, though theoretically 
it should have been completely penetrated. This 
eventually led to the invention of an improved gas 
check — reference to which will be found at the end of 
the Barnaby Era. 


Contemporaneously with the Hercules the Inconstant 
was designed. She was inspired by the United States 
Wampanoag, a type of large, fast, unprotected, heavily- 
gunned frigate, to which the Americans had always been 
partial. The Wampanoag, as a matter of fact, never 
reached expectations, whereas the Inconstant was a 
decided success so far as she went. She marked, so far 
as the British Navy was concerned, the first appearance 
of the theory that speed and gun power — in other words. 


" the offensive " — might be developed advantageously, 
at the cost of defensive arrangements, a theory which 
still survives in the " battle-cruisers " of to-day, though 
of course in a very modified form. None the less, the 
Inconstant represents the germ idea of our present 
battle-cruisers, and is supremely important on that 

Particulars of the Inconstant were : — 
Displacement — 5,780 tons. 
Length (between perpendiculars) — 337 Jft. 
Beam— SOJft. 
Draught (mean) — 25Jft. 

Guns— Ten 12J ton M.L.R., six ^ ton M.L.R. 
H.P.— 7,360-316 knots (trial 16.2). 
Speed — Sixteen knots (trial 16.2). 
Built at Pembroke Dockyard. Completed for 
sea 1868 at a cost of £213,324. She had an 
iron hull, wood-sheathed and coppered. A 
coal supply of 750 tons gave a nominal radius 
of 2780 miles. She was ship-rigged and sailed 
She was followed by a couple of variants on her, 
the Raleigh and Slmh^ the former 5,200 tons and the 
latter 6,250 tons. 

The Shah was originally named the Blonde, but 
rcchristcned out of compliment to the Shah of Persia, 
who was visiting England at the time of her launch. 

At a later stage in her career (1877) the Shah, then 
flagshi]) on the S.W. Coast of America, fought a much- 
criticised action with the Peruvian turret-shi]) Iluascar, 
a Laird-built monitor, carrying a couple of \2\ ton guns, 
launched in 1865, and generally of the same type (though 
smaller) as the British Hotspur and Rupert. 


The Huascar had been seized by the Revolutionists 
and practically turned into a pirate ship. In attacking 
her the British Admiral de Horsey gave hostages to 
fortune, seeing that it was an axiom of those daj^s that 
an unarmoured ship was helpless against an ironclad 
monitor. He had, however, no alternative. 

As things turned out, the Huascar never succeeded 
in hitting either the Shah, or the Amethyst which accom- 
panied her, while the British flagship, having a speed 
advantage, the efforts of the Huascar to ram her were 
futile. The Huascar was hit about thirty times, and one 
man was killed on board her, but the damage done to the 
turret-ship was practically nil. The engagement is of 
further special interest as for the first time a torpedo was 
used from a big ship in action. The range, however, was 
too great and no hit was secured. 

During the night following the action an attempt 
was made to torpedo the Huascar from the Shah's steam 
pinnace, but the enemy could not be found. Yet it is 
probable that the knowledge of the Shah's torpedoes was 
the reason why Pierola surrendered the Huascar next 
morning to the Peruvian fleet. 

It must have been abundantly clear to him that he 
had next to nothing to fear from the British gunfire, 
while a single water-line hit from him would probably 
have put the Shah entirely at his mercy, save in so far 
as her torpedoes might make attempts to ram fatal to 



ABAFT. — Behind or towards the 
stern of the vessel. Thus one would 
say that the aftermost turret gims in 
any ship are " abaft " the mainmast. 

ABEAM. — On the side of a vessel 
amidships. To say an object is abeam 
(or on the beam) means that its 
bearing by compass is at right angles 
to the vessel's course. 


department of State which is re- 
sponsible for the proper constitution, 
maintenance, disposition, and direction 
of the Fleet in its material and personal 
elements, executing the duties formerly 
charged upon the Lord High Admiral ; 
it is presided over by the First Lord (a 
Cabinet Minister) and consists of Naval 
Officers — the Sea Lords — and Civil 

AHEAD. — In advance — an object 
is said to be ahead of the ship when its 
compass bearing is nearly the same ae 
the vessel's course. 

AHEAD FIRE.— The discharge of 
guns nlong the line of the keel directly 
ahead of the vessel. 

AMIDSHIPS. — Generally speaking, 
in the middle portion of a vessel. 
The point of intersection of two lines — 
one drawn from stem to stern, tho 
other aerosH the beam (or widest part)— 
is tho uctijul " midHhips." 

ANCHOR. — A ship carries several 

ilihtinct kiii'in of aru^hor : tho bowers, 
whieli ar<' alwavH UH<-d for aiK-horing 
or mooring the ship ; the Hhect anchor, 
as an auxiliary to the bowers ; tho 
stream and kf<lge anclKjrs, which can 
],<■ u.sfd for Hjiiciiil |)iii|)nH"M. 

'IliOBe guns in a ship which are 
specially mounted for repelling attack 
by torpe<Jo craft 

ARC OF FIRE.— That sector of a 
circle through which a giui can be 
moved or trained for effective practice, 

ARMAMENT.— The weapons of 
offence with which a ship is armed, 
including guns and torpedo tubes. 

ARMOUR. — Any effective covering 
which protects a ship. The following 
specifj^ a few main features of armour 
protection : — 

1. Armour Belt. — The vertical 

belt of armour which forms 
the citadel or fortress of a 
ship, and may extend right 
forward to the bows and 
rigiit aft tho stern. 

2. Side Armour.— Vertical armour 

placed on the exterior of a 
ship, being both the belt 
and additional thereto. 

3. Armoured Deck. — A curved 

steel deck protecting the 
engine room and other 
vital portions of a ship 
inside the citadel. A ship 
may have as many as three 
armoured decks. 

4. Armour Backing. — A thick 

layer of teak which acts as 
a cushion behind the 
armour and to which it is 

5. Bulkhead Armour. — Vertical 

armour in the interior of 
the ship. plac(!d across it 
from side to side. 

ASTERN. -The opposite to ahead. 

ASTERN FIRE.^Tlie discharge of 
guiiH along th(! lim> of the keel directly 
asttTii (if n v(<HSi-l. 

ATHWARTSHIPS.— At right angles 

to Uu- krrl. 

AUXILIARY. — A Hhi|>— not necess- 
arily a fighting sliip — whicli forms a 


component part of a Fleet. These 
include Repair vessels, Hospital ships. 
Depot, Submarine and Destroyer 
Mother-ships, Colliers, etc. 

hinery employed for boat- hoisting, 
pumping, electric lighting, refrigeratincr 
ventilating, and other purposes on 
board ships. 

BACKSTAYS.— Ropes stretched from 
a mast or topmast head to the sides of 
a vessel — some way abaft the mast — 
to give support to the mast and 
prevent it going forward. 

BALLAST. — Weighty material 
placed in the bottom of a ship to give 
her " stiffness " ; that is, to increase 
her tendency to return to the upright 
position when inclined or heeled over 
by the force of the wind or other 

BALLISTICS.— That branch of 
science particularly devoted to the 
theory of gunnery. 

BARBETTE. — The steel platform 
or mounting on which a power-worked 
gun rests and within which it revolves. 

BARGE. — A general term given to 
flat-bottomed boats. The AdmiraVs 
(or Captain's) Barge is usually a 
special steamboat belonging to a 
warship reserved for the use of the 
Admiral or Captain. 

BATTEN.— Long strips of wood 
used for various purposes. 

To batten down.— To cover up and 
fix down, usually spoken of 
hatches when they are covered 
over in rough weather. 

BATTERY.— That portion of a 
ship's armament inside the citadel. 
The entire armament is frequently 
spoken of as a " battery." 

BATTLE CRUISER.— A vessel com- 
bining the speed and other essential 
qualities of a cruiser with an armament 
and protection sufficient to enable her 
to take her place in the fighting-line 
beside the battleships. 

practice carried out in the Navy, to 
test the battle or fighting efficiency of 
the component parts of a ship's 

BATTLESHIP.— A ship specially 
designed to take and give the hard 
knocks of a Fleet action. 

BEAK. — The extreme fore part of a 

BEAM. — The widest measurement 
across a ship. 

BEARINGS. — This word properly 
belongs to the art of navigation, in 
which it signifies the direction (by 
compass) in which an object is seen. 

BEFORE. — Forward or in front of ; 
the opposite to abaft. 

BERTHON BOAT.— A collapsible 
boat used in destroyers and small 

BETWEEN DECKS.— In a vessel of 

more than one deck, to be between the 
upper and the lower. 

BINNACLE.— The fixed case and 
stand in which the compass in any 
vessel is placed. 

BLOCKADE. — So to besiege a port 
that no communication can take place 
from seaward. 

BLUE PETER. — A square blue flag 
with a square white centre, hoisted to 
denote that a vessel is about to sail 
and that all persons concerned must 
repair on board immediately (the letter 
" P " in the international flag signal 

BOOM. — A boom is a pole extending 
outboard — i.e., away from the sides of 
a vessel. 

Lower and Quarter Booms. — 

Booms, conveniently placed, to 
which boats can make fast. 

BORE. — The interior diameter of a 
gun at the muzzle ; also the name 
given to the interior of a gun. Also 
a word used to express a sudden rise 
of the tide in certain esturies, as in the 

To bore. — When down by the 
head a ship is said to " bore." 

BOTTOMRY.— The hull of a ship 
pledged as security for a loan. 

BOWS. — A term indicating those 
portions of a vessel immediately on 
either side of her stem (q.v.). Differ- 
entiated in association with the terms 
" Port " or " Starboard." 


BOWSPRIT.— A pole of "sprit" 
projecting forward from the stem of 
the ship. 

BOX THE COMPASS.— To name the 
points of the compass in regular order, 
i.e., in the direction taken by the hands 
of the clock. 

BREAKWATER.— An artificial wall 
or bank . .'^et up either outside a harbour 
or along the coast, to break the violence 
of the sea and so create a smooth 

BREECH. — The end of the gun into 
which the proiectilo and cartridge are 
inserted when Ioa<ling. 

BREECH-BLOCK.— A heavy steel 
block which seals the breech when the 
gun is loaded. 

BREECH-LOADER (B.L.)— Former- 
ly a gun which was loaded at the 
breech end as opposed to a muzzle- 
loader. Now used to denote a gun 
the cartridge of which is not contained 
in a metal cylinder. 

BROADSIDE. — The number of guns 
which can be brought to bear on one 
side of, or the total weight of metal 
which can be fired at once from either 
side of a ship. 

BULKHEAD. — A structure, trans- 
versi' or iongtitudinal, dividing the 
interior of a ship into compartments. 

BURDEN. — The capacity of a vessel, 
as I'lO toua burdeii, etc. 

BURGEE. — Properly a flag ending 
in a swallow-tail. Yacht clubs' 
burgees ar'- frequently " pennants " 
whieh ar-' Mugs ending in a point. 

CADET, NAVAL.— A youth who is 
under training to become u com- 
miK.sioned officer in the Navy. 

CAISSON. — A hollow, watertight 
veKs<l wfiich can bo raised or sunk by 
CornpreH«e<i air or water, and whieh is 
UMcd when building foundations under 
whU-t ; or, 8j)ecifically a lock gate 
used for cloHing the entrance to dry 

which 'liviTH are Hubj<rct. 

CALIBRE. — The calibre of a gun is 
the diameter of the bore (q.v.). 'I'hiH 
diameter is UH<«i an a unit of meaHure- 

ment. Thus, a 50-calibre 12-in. gun 
is a 12-in. gun which is 50 ft. long, etc. 

CAMEL. — A hollow tank or vessel 
filled with water and placed under the 
hull of a stranded ship. When well 
secured, the water it contains is 
pumped out, and the buoyancy thus 
thus created helps to lift the ship to 
which it is attached. 

CAPITAL-SHIP.— A general term 
for all warships of such high standard 
in fighting capacity as would enable 
them to take part in a Fleet action. 

CAREEN. — To heel a ship or make 
her lie over on one side. 

CASEMATE. — An armoured gun- 
emplacement in the side of a ship. 

CATAMARAN. — Properly a species 
of sailing craft used in the Indies. 
The heavy wooden rafts which are 
used to protect the shio's side when 
she is lying alongside a dockyard walL 

CAULKING. — The operation per- 
formed in making the sides or wooden 
decks of a shij) watertight. 

CLASS. — A ship is said to belong to 
a certain " class " when there are 
others identiced in appearance or 

CLEARING. — The passing of a vessel 
through the Customs after she has 
visited a foreign port. 

COAMING. — A raised edge of iron 
or wood placed round a hatchway to 
prevent water froni washing below. 

torpedo -boat not con.sidered sufficiently 
stroniz structurally to do more than 
coastal work. 

COASTGUARD. — A semi-naval or- 
ganisation of seamen, mostly living 
along the shores of the United Kingdoni 
intended originally for tiie prevention 
of smuggling, but now converted into 
a force for the defence of the coast or 
to assist \\ PfM'ks. 

COMMISSION.— A ship is said to bo 
commiHsioned when slie is inaMtKtd for 
service in the fleet. 

A commission, the length of time 
the enw remain in a siiij) ; the 
order by wliich a person liecoinos 
an officer. 


COMMODORE. — A Naval Captain 
specially appointed to take command 
as such of a squadron of war vessels, 
or perform some special duty not 
assigned to an officer of flag rank. 

COMPLEMENT.— The total number 
of officers and men forming the crew 
of a ship. 

consisting of more than one type of gun. 

CON. — To direct the steering of a 

CONNING-TOWER.— An armoured 
compartment in a ship from which she 
can be steered, or the gun-fire in an 
action controlled if necessary. A ship 
may have more than one conning- 


OF. — The doctrine or principle which 
enables contraband of war to be 
captured when consigned to a neutral 
port, but intended for a belligerent. 

CONTRABAND. — Munitions of war 
or other goods which are prohibited 
entry into a belligerent State. 

(o) Absolute Contraband, material 
which is always contraband. 
{&) Conditional Contraband, ma- 
terial which may be declared 

whence range-finding instruments are 
managed, or from which the gimnery 
officers of a ship control gtm-fire in an 


The right or practice of converting 
merchant vessels into warships on the 
high seas or in neutral ports. 

CONVOY. — A number of merchant 
steamers crossing the ocean under the 
protection of warships. 

CORDITE. — The explosive used in 
guns for discharging projectiles. 

COUNTER. — That portion of a vessel 
which overhangs the keel towards the 
sterm (q.v.), 

COUNTER MINING.— To lay out and 
explode mines in the vicinity of hostile 
ones, in order to destroy them by 

CRANK. — A vessel is said to be 
crank when she lists over easily. 

CRUISER. — A warship of high speed, 
usually employed in scouting, com- 
merce protection, and special service. 
They fall into various categories : — 

(a) Armoured Cruiser, a vessel 
having vertical external 
armour. See also " Battle- 

(6) Light Cruiser, a vessel with 
deck protection only ; or, 
if armoured, of but small 
size and with a thin belt. 

(c) Unprotected Cruiser, a cruis- 
ing vessel having no 
armour ; included in the 
Light Cruiser class. 

CRUISING SPEED.— The most econ- 
omical speed from the point of view of 
fuel consumption at which a ship can 

DEMURRAGE. — Compensation paid 
to the owner of a vessel when she has 
been detained longer than her time for 

DERELICT. — A ship whose crew 
have abandoned her when at sea. 

DESTROYER. — A large type oi 
torpedo-boat originally intended to 
destroy such craft by gim-fire — now, 
with submarines, the chief medium for 


The amount of the variation of a ship's 
compass from the true magnetic 
meridian, caused by the proximity 
of iron. 

DIRECTOR TOWER. — An armoured 
compartment in a ship whence tor- 
pedoes are fired. 

DISPLACEMENT.— The weight of 
water a ship displaces when floating. 

Normal Displacement. — The weight 
of water a ship displaces when 
she has her normal amount of 
stores, etc., on board. 

DOCK. — A place in which a ship may 
be placed for repair or loading and 
unloading. See " Floating Dock " and 
" Graving Dock." 


DOCKYARD— Theworks. etc., where 
ships Hre built or repairs can be oarrietl 
out. In the Government dock-yards 
ships are commissioned and supplied 
witli stores, ammvmition, coal, etc. 

DRAUGHT.— The vertical distance 
between the lowest portion of the keel 
and the water line. 

" DREADNOUGHT." — Battleships 
and cruisers evoked by H.M.S. Dread- 
nought, which was the first ship to be 
armed with one ty^c of big gun. 
" A.B.G. ships " — All-big-gun-ships. 


Cruisers derived from the principle of 
design of H.M.S. Dreadnought, now 
called Battle Cruisers (q.v.). 

ECHELON. — Guns are said to be 
mounted en echelon when they are not 
mounted symmetricallj' but are placed 
diagonally athwart-ship. 

ENGINES. — The reciprocating, tur- 
bine, or internal -combustion machinery 
for propelling vessels. 

ENSIGN . — (Usually pronounced 
" ens'n.") The flag carried by a ship 
as the insignia of her nationalitj'' or the 
nature of her duties. 

ESTIMATES. — The euinual estimatei 
or expenditure on the Royal Navy for 
its aflrninistration, personnel, and for 
the upkff'p or building of new vessels. 


The Cal)inet Minister who presides over 
the Board of Admiralty. See 
" Admiralty." 

FIRST SEA LORD.— The Senior 
Naval Officer swerving on tlje Board of 


FLARE. — The overhang of the upper 
purt of a ship's sides beneath the 
forecastle. The pi'culiar outward and 
ujiwiird curve in the form of a vessel's 
bow. When it hangs ovf-r she is said 
to have a " Flaring Bow." 

FLEET. — A number of ves-ucls in 
oomj)uny, be they war or other vessels. 

FLEET IN BEING.— An inf.rior 
naval force, euj>ablii of action and 
infln<*ncin« or imf>oding the operations 
of an enemy. 

FLEET RESERVE. — Short-service 
men who have left continuous service, 
but are liable to be called upon in case 
of war. 

FLEET-UNIT. — A vessel fit to form 
a unit in a fleet. 

FLOATING DOCK.— An oblong 
floating structure in which a ship may 
1)6 placed, and out of which the water 
may be pumped, bringing her above 
water-level, so that the bottom of the 
ship can be repaired, etc. ; they have 
usually no motive power. 

Nav'y League. 

FLUSH DECK.— A deck having 
neither raised nor sunken part, so that 
it runs continuously from stem to stern. 

FORE AND AFT.— In the direction 
of a line drawn from stem to stern of a 
vessel — at right angles to athwartships. 

FORWARD.— In front of— the fore- 
part, in the vicinity of the bows of a 

GRAVING DOCK.— A dock exca- 
vated out of the land into which entry 
is made from seaward. 

GUN. — A weapon used for firing shot 
or shell. See " Breech-loader " and 
" Q.F. Gun." 

GUNBOAT.— A small type of slow 
cruiser armetl with light guns, specially 
adapted for harbour or river service. 

GUN-COTTON.— A high explosive 
used in torpedoes and submarine mines, 

Wet Gun-Cotton. — Gun-Cotton 
witli a certain percentage of 
moisture in it ; it is useless as 
an explosive unless dry gun- 
cotton is present to detonate it. 

GUNLAYER.— A man specially 
qualilii'd to train (lay) and fire a gun. 

Gunlayers' Test. — An animal 
practice carried out in every 
ship to test the efficiency of tho 
gimliiyerH individually. 

GUN-POWER.— The fighting efli- 
cieney of a shij) oxpressjxl in tho total 
weight of metal capable of being 
dischargod in a singlcf broadsiilo or a 
specifir'd period of time. 


HALYARD. — A rope with which a 
sail, flag, or yard is hoisted. 

HARVEYISED. — Armour made by 
the " Harvey " process. Now obsolete. 

HATCH, HATCHWAY.— An opening 
in the deck of a ship through which 
persons or cargo may descend or be 

HEAVY GUN.— Any gun greater 

than and including a 4-in. Q.F. or B.L. 

HOG. — When a vessel has a tendency 
to droop at her ends she is said to hog. 

HORNPIPE. — The dance once pop- 
ular among the sailors of the British 
Navy and still sometimes performed 
at festive times. 

HOSPITAL SHIP.— An auxihary 
vessel specially designed for the 
reception of sick and wounded men ; 
by nature of her duties and under 
rules of International Law she is 
immune from attack. 

HULL. — The body, framework, and 
plating of a vessel. 

steamships a light upper deck extend- 
ing across the vessel amidships. 


HYDROPLANE.— A type of boat 
the flattened keel of which is so 
constructed that, after a certain speed 
has been attained, the hull rises in the 
water and skims lightly over the surface, 
thus driving forward above rather than 
through the water. The hydroplane 
cannot rise into the air and fly. 

IDLERS. — Those, being liable to 
constant duty by day, who are not 
required to keep the night watches, 
such as carpenters, sail-makers, etc., 
also called " Daymen." 

JACK-STAFF. — A flagpole for flying 
the Union Jack, invariably at the bows 
of the ship. 

KEEL. — That portion of a ship 
rvmning fore and aft in the middle of 
a ship's bottom. 

KEEL-PLATE.— The lowest plate of 
all in the keel ; this plate is the first 
to be laid down when building is 

KNOT. — The unit of speed for ships. 
A ship is said to be going X knots, when 
she is going X sea (or nautical) miles 
in one hour. One sea mile = 6,080 ft. 

N.B. — The word knot should never be 
used to indicate distance. 

KRUPP STEEL.— Steel hardened by 
a special process discovered and 
applied at Essen. 

LABOUR. — When a vessel pitches 
or strains in a heavy sea she is said to 
" labour." 

LANDLOCKED.— Sheltered on all 

sides by the land. 

LARBOARD.— The old term for 
port, (q.v.) 

LATITUDE. — Distance north or 
south of the equator, expressed in 

LAUNCH. — To place a ship in the 
water for the first time. 

LAY DOWN.— To commence build- 
ing a ship. 

LEE. — Or Leeward (pronounced 
Loo'ard). The side of a vessel opposite 
to that upon which the wind blows. 

LIGHTER. — A powerful hull or 

barge with a flat bottom, used for 

transporting heavy goods, such as 
coal, ammunition, etc. 

LIST. — A vessel is said to have a list 
if she heeled temporarily or permanent- 
ly to one side. 

LOG. — The instrument used to 
measure a vessel's speed through the 
water. Also the ship's daily journal. 

LONGTITUDE. — Distance east or 
west of a first meridian, expressed in 

MAGAZINE. — The place on board 
ship or on shore where ammunition is 

MAN. — To place the right comple- 
ment of men in a ship or boat to work her. 

MARINE. — A soldier specially 
trained for soa service. " Soldier and 
sailor too." 

MAST. — The tall structure in a ship 
formerly for the carrying of sail, but 


now earning control stations, lighting 
tops, and wireless telegraphy apparatus. 

MASTER.— The Captain of a 
merchant vessel who holds a master's 
or extra meister's certificate. 

MINE. — A weapon of war which is 
placed in the sea by the enemy, and 
explodes on a ship striking it ; or can 
be fired from the shore or ship by 
raejuis of an electric current. 

MINEFIELD. — A space near a 
harbour specially devoted to mining 

MINE-LAYER.— A ship speciaUy 
fitted to lay mines out. 

MINE-SWEEPER.— A ship whose 
duty it is to discover and destroy the 
enemy's mines in order to leave a clear 
passiige for friendly craft. 

MOLE. — A stone break-water or 

MOOR. — To anchor a ship with two 

MOTHER-SHIP.— A depot ship for 
torpedo craft, submarines, etc., 
victualling and issuing stores to the 
crows of the vessels under her command 

controlled by lier officers. 

MUZZLE ENERGY.— The force 
which is propelling the projectile when 
it leaves the gtin. 

at which a projectilr- is travelling when 
it lr-a\«M till- min. 

NAUTICAL MILE. -One sixtieth of 
a degree of latitude. It varies from 
6,046 ft. at the equator to 6,092 ft. in 
lat. 60° N. or S. The nautical mile 
for Hpeed trials, generally culled the 
Admiralty Measured Mile, .^6,080 ft., 
1,151 Htatuto miles, 1,833 metres. 

NAVIGATION.— That branch of 

Hfictifc wliiih teaches the sailor to 
cundiict Ills hliip from place to place. 

NAVY LEAGUE, THE.-A strictly 
non-party organiHation formed in 
January. 1895, with Admiral of tho 
Fleet, Hir (]. I'liipps Hornby, G.C.H.. 
etc., an it« lirHt ProHidcnt, for tho 
puryjowi of lu-ging upon tho (Jovern- 
ment an<l the electorate tho paramount 

importance of a supreme Fleet as the 
best guarantee of peace. 

Its agencies are employed in all parts 
of the Empire spreading information 
on matters affecting the Roj^al Navy. 

NUCLEUS CREW.— Tho essential 
part of a crew of a ship such as the 
gun-layers, petty officers, etc. Some 
ships are manned by nucleus crews 
only, being completed to full strength 
in case of mobilisation. Such ships 
are sometimes colloguially known as 
" Nucoloid." 

OAKUM. — The substance to which 
old ropes are reduced when unpicked. 


large typo of torpedo boat destroyer, 
specially designed for service in any 
wind or weather. 

ORDNANCE. — A general term 
applied to guns collectively, and to 
the Department concerned with them. 

ORLOP DECK.— Tho lowest deck 
in the ship. 

PAY OFF.— To end a "Commission." 

pointed Hag. 

Paying-ofI Pennant. — A long 
streamer hoisted at the main- 
mast of a war vessel to denote 
she is " paying off." 

POOP. — An extra deck on the after 
part of a vessel. 

PORT.— Tho left-hand side of the 
ship as you stand looking forward. 


Tho largest guns moiiiitiHl in a ship. 

PRIZE.— In war time, any vessel 
taki II at sea from an enemy. 

PROJECTED. — A ship is said to be 
" jjfojictrd " before koel plato is 
actuall\' laid. 

oured Deck." 

PROW. — Tho beak or ]iointed cut- 
water of a ship. 

Q.F. GUN. -Quick-firing gun. A 
gun the cartridge of which is containwi 
in a m^'^tal cylinder, oh op{)<med to tho 
H.L. gun. 


QUARTERS. — A term indicating 
those portions of a vessel immediately 
on either side of her stern (q.v.). 
Differentiated in association with the 
terms " Port " or " Starboard." 
" Quarters " also designates the living 
space for the personnel and the 
stations of the crew when in action. 

RAKE.— The inclination of the mast 
(or funnels) from the perpendicular ; 
the " rake " is very nearly always in 
a direction aft, but when the mast 
slants forward it is said to have a 
" Forward rake." 

RAKISH. — Having a smart or fast 
appearance. (Applied to ships.) 

RANGE. — The distance in yards of the 
object fired at. The extreme range is 
the longest distance to which aprojectile 
can be fired by any particular gun. 

RANGE-FINDER.— An instrvunent 
used for determining ranges. 

RATE. — The classification of a vessel 
for certain purposes. 

RATLINES. — Small fines crossing 
the shrouds of a ship and thus forming 

REFIT. — To place a ship in dockyard 
hands for overhauling her machinery, 

REPAIR SHOP.— A Fleet auxiliary 
(q.v.) which is fitted with a foundry, 
etc. on board, and can carry out minor 
repair work. 

RIBS. — The timbers which form the 
skeleton of a ship or boat. 

RICOCHET. — A leap or bound such 
as a flat piece of stone makes when 
thrown obliquely along the surface of 
the water. Generally spoken of with 
reference to projectiles. A " ricochet 
hit" is made when a projectile hits 
the enemy or target after it has first 
struck the water. 

RIG. — The rig of a vessel is the 
manner in which her masts and sails 
are fitted to her hull, 

RIGGING. — The system of ropes in 
a vessel whereby the masts are 
supported and the sails hoisted. 
There are two kinds of rigging, viz., 
standing rigging and running rigging. 

the latter term including all movable 

ROLL. — The oscillation of a vessel 
in a heavj' sea. 

SAG. — A drooping or depression. A 
ship is said to sag when her centre 
tends to droop below the line joining 
her stem and stern ; the opposite to 

SALVO. — A discharge of fire from 
several guns simultaneously. 

SCOUT. — A light, swift, protected 
cruiser specially adapted for scouting 

separated from the battle fleet to 
deceive the enemy as to the Fleet's 

SEAPLANE.— The official naval 
designation of the Hydro-aeroplane 
which is a man-carrying apparatus 
equally capable of flight in the air and 
navigation on water. Also called 
Navyplane, Waterplane, Flying-Boat, 

SEARCH, RIGHT OF.— The right 
to search neutral vessels for the 
discovery of contraband. 


guns which support the primary 

SHEET. — The rope attached to a 
sail so that it can be " worked " as 
occasion demands. 

SHROUDS. — Strong ropes (generally 
wire) which support the mast laterally. 

SLIP. — The wooden " way " on 
which a ship is built. 

SPEED TRIALS. — Trials carried out 
periodically to test a vessel's speed. 

SQUADRON.— A number of ships 
under command of a single officer. 

STANCHION. — An upright post 
supporting the deck above in a ship. 

STARBOARD. — The right-hand side 
of the ship as you stand looking 

STAYS. — Strong ropes supporting 
spars and masts in a ship. 

STEM. — The " nose " or " cut- 
water " of any ship. 


STERN. — The aftermost part of a 

STRAKE. — A line of planking ex- 
tendin;z tlie length of a vessel. 

STRATEGY. — The disposition and 
handling of Squadrons or Fleets to 
dominate the forces of an enemy or 
control the time or place of an 
engagement. The broad disposition 
of naval forces. 

SUBMARINE. — A war-vessel the 
chiei work of which is to operate below 
the surface. 

at which a .siibmersihle or submarine 
can travi'l under water. 

SUBMERSIBLE.— A vessel which 
can be menie to dive but which 
generally navigates on the surface. 


Barbettes or turrets luouuted behind 
and above other barbettes or turrets 
so that the guns in the first are enabled 
to tire over those in the second. 

SURFACE SPEED.— The speed at 
which a 8ubmer3il)le or submarine can 
travel when navigating on the surface. 

TACTICS. — The handling and con- 
duct of ships or squadrons in actual 
contact with an antagonist, or exercises 
for training for such engagements. 

TENDER. — A vessel attached to 
a parent sliip. 

TOP. — A position or platform on 
the mast of a vessel. A fighting top 
is H toj) iirriK'd with light guns. 

TOPHAMPER.-Tbe upper works 
of the ship, such as masts, funnels, 
bridgen, cowls, etc. 

TORPEDO. — An engine of war which 
is diHcliarged from a tul>e (submerged 
or above water) and which travels 
under water ; it is loaded with a 
charge of gun-cotton which explodes 
on impact. 

TORPEDO-BOAT. -A vessel special- 
\y <|^i]((l for at tuck on larger ships 
by ni'iiiiH of t'>i-[)i-(l(»cs. 

(T.B.D.) — See " Destroyer." 

TORPEDO-NET.— A steel wire net 
which is thrown over the side of a ship 
and held extended by means of booms ; 
it hangs down about 20 to 30 ft. below 
the surface, and acts as a defence 
against torpedoes. 

TORPEDO TUBE.— A tube from 
which torpedoes are ejected either by 
means of a small charge of gunpowder 
or compressed air. 

TRAJECTORY.— The line of flight 
of a projectile after leaving the gun. 

TROUGH. — The hollow between two 

TRUCK.— The cap at the head of 
the mast or a flagstaff. It generally 
contains one or more holes for the 
reception of signal halyards. 

TURRET. — The revolving armoured 
structure in which big guns are 
mounted, including the turn-table, 
ammunition hoists, etc. See 

" Barbette." 

The standard under which the British 
Fleet should be maintained at a 
strength, as against the next strongest 
Power, of two completed capital-ships 
to one. 


standard which indicated that the 
British Fleet was equal in strength to 
the fleets of the two next strongest 
Powers. This standard has been 

WAIST. — That portion of a ship on 
the upper deck between the forecastle 
and quarter deck. 

in which the water is contained in 
tubes round which the hot gases 

WAY (Momentum). — It is important 
to note the difference between this 
and the term " wei<jh," the two being 
very often confounded. A vessel in 
motion is said to have " way " on her ; 
and when she ceases to move to have 
" no way." But a vessel under weigh 
is one not at anclior or secured to the 


which the wind blows. 



WEEPING (or Sweating). — Drops of 

■water oozing through the sides of a 
vessel or caused by condensation on 
the surface of the beams, etc. 

WEIGH.— To Hft the anchor from 
the groimd. 

WIRE-WOUND.— AU big British 
guns are made by winding miles of 

steel wire or ribbon round a tube over 
which the exterior tubes are afterwards 

YARD. — A spar suspended to a mast 
for the purpose of hoisting or extending 
a sail, or to which signal halyards can 
be taken. 

From " The Navy League Annual," by the courtesy of 
Alan H. Burgoyne, Esq., M.P.] 

Netherwood, Dalton & Co., Rashcliffe, Huddersfield. 

University of California 


405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 

Return this material to the library 

from which it was borrowed. 



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