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Full text of "Fighting instructions, 1530-1816"

Xv. c 







Presented to the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
LIBRARY 

by the 

ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE 
LIBRARY 

1980 



PUBLICATIONS 

OF THE 

NAVY RECORDS SOCIETY 

VOL. XXIX. 



FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS 

15301816 



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15301816 



EDITED 

WITH ELUCIDATIONS FROM CONTEMPORARY AUTHORITIES 

BY 

JULIAN S. CORBETT, LL.M. 



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PRINTED FOR THE NAVY RECORDS SOCIETY 
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THE COUNCIL 

OF THE 

NAVY RECORDS SOCIETY 

1904-1905 



PATRON 
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES, K.G., K.T., K.P. 

PRESIDENT 
EARL SPENCER, K.G. 

VICE PRESIDENTS 



BRIDGE, ADMIRAL SIR CYPRIAN 

A. G., G.C.B. 
HAWKESBURY, LORD. 



PROTHERO, G. W., Litt. D., 

LL.D. 
YORKE, SIR HENRY, K.C.B. 



COUNCILLORS 



ATKINSON, C. T. 
BATTENBERG, PRINCE Louis OK, 
G.C.B. 

BEAUMONT, VICE-ADMIRAL SIR 
LEWIS, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. 

CLARKE, COL. SIR GEORGE S., 
K.C.M.G. 

CORBETT, JULIAN S. 

DESART, THE EARL OF, K.C.B. 

DRURY, VICE-ADMIRAL SIR 

CHARLES, K.C.S.I. 
FIRTH, PROFESSOR C. H., LL.D. 
GINSBURG, B. W., LL.D. 
GODLEY, SIR ARTHUR, K.C.B. 
HAMILTON, ADMIRAL SIR R. 

VESEY, G.C.B. 



KIPLING, RUDYARD. 

LORAINE, REAR-ADMIRAL SIR 
LAMBTON, BART. 

LYALL, SIR ALFRED C., G.C.I. E. 

MARKHAM, SIR CLEMENTS R., 
K.C.B., F.R.S. 

MARSDEN, R. G. 

NEWBOLT, HENRY. 

PARR, REAR-ADMIRAL A. C. 

SLADE, CAPTAIN EDMOND J. W. t 
R.N. 

TANNER, J. R. 
THURSFIELD, J. R. 
TRACEY, ADMIRAL SIR RICHARD, 
K.C.B. 

WATTS, PHILIP, D.Sc., F.R.S. 



SECRETARY 
PROFESSOR J. K. LAUGHTON, D.Litt., King's College, London, W.C 

TREASURER 
W. GRAHAM GREENE, C.B., Admiralty, S.W. 



The COUNCIL of the NAVY RECORDS SOCIETY wish 
it to be distinctly understood that they are not answer- 
able for any opinions or observations that may appear 
in the Society's publications. For these the responsi- 
bility rests entirely with the Editors of the several works. 



PREFACE 



THE inaccessibility of the official Fighting Instruc- 
tions from time to time issued to the fleet has long 
been a recognised stumbling-block to students of 
naval history. Only a few copies of them were 
generally known to exist ; fewer still could readily 
be consulted by the public, and of these the best 
known had been wrongly dated. The discovery 
therefore of a number of seventeenth century Instruc- 
tions amongst the Earl of Dartmouth's papers, 
which he had generously placed at the disposal of the 
Society, seemed to encourage an attempt to make 
something like a complete collection. The result, such 
as it is, is now offered to the Society. It is by no 
means exhaustive. Some sets of Instructions seem 
to be lost beyond recall ; but, on the other hand, a 
good deal of hitherto barren ground has been filled, 
and it is hoped that the collection may be of some 
assistance for a fresh study of the principles which 
underlie the development of naval tactics. 

It is of course as documents in the history of 
tactics that the Fighting Instructions have the 
greatest practical value, and with this aspect of them 
in view I have done my best to illustrate their 
genesis, intention, and significance by extracts from 



viii PREFACE 

contemporary authorities. Without such illustration 
the Instructions would be but barren food, neither 
nutritive nor easily digested. The embodiment of 
this illustrative matter has to some extent involved 
a departure from the ordinary form of the Society's 
publications. Instead of a general introduction, a 
series of introductory notes to each group of In- 
structions has been adopted, which it is feared 
will appear to bear an excessive proportion to the 
Instructions themselves. There seemed, however, 
no other means of dealing with the illustrative 
matter in a consecutive way. The extracts from 
admirals' despatches and contemporary treatises, 
and the remarks of officers and officials concerned 
with the preparation or the execution of the In- 
structions, were for the most part too fragmentary 
to be treated as separate documents, or too long 
or otherwise unsuitable for foot-notes. The only 
adequate way therefore was to embody them in 
Introductory Notes, and this it is hoped will be 
found to justify their bulk. 

A special apology is, however, due for the Intro- 
ductory Note on Nelson's memoranda. For this 
I can only plead their great importance, and the 
amount of illustrative matter that exists from the 
pens of Nelson's officers and opponents. For no 
other naval battle have we so much invaluable com- 
ment from men of the highest capacity who were 
present. The living interest of it all is unsurpassed, 
and I have therefore been tempted to include all 
that came to hand, encouraged by the belief that 
the fullest material for the study of Nelson's tactics 
at the battle of Trafalgar could not be out of place 



PREFACE 



IX 



in a volume issued by the Society in the centenary 
year. 

As to the general results, perhaps the most strik- 
ing feature which the collection brings out is that 
sailing tactics was a purely English art. The idea 
that we borrowed originally from the Dutch is no 
longer tenable. The Dutch themselves do not 
even claim the invention of the line. Indeed in no 
foreign authority, either Dutch, French or Spanish, 
have I been able to discover a claim to the inven- 
tion of any device in sailing tactics that had per- 
manent value. Even the famous tactical school 
which was established in France at the close of the 
Seven Years' War, and by which the French ser- 
vice so brilliantly profited in the War of American 
Independence, was worked on the old lines of 
Hoste's treatise. Morogues' Tactique Navale was 
its text-book, and his own teaching was but a 
scientific and intelligent elaboration of a system 
from which the British service under the impulse of 
Anson, Hawke, and Boscawen was already shaking 
itself free. 

Much of the old learning which the volume con- 
tains is of course of little more than antiquarian 
interest, but the bulk of it in the opinion of those 
best able to judge should be found of living value. 
All systems of tactics must rest ultimately on the 
dominant weapon in use, and throughout the sailing 
period the dominant weapon was, as now, the gun. 
In face of so fundamental a resemblance no tactician 
can afford to ignore the sailing system merely 
because the method of propulsion and the nature of 
the material have changed. It is not the principles 



X 



PREFACE 



of tactics that such changes affect, but merely the 
method of applying them. 

Of even higher present value is the process of 
thought, the line of argument by which the old tac- 
ticians arrived at their conclusions good and bad. 
In studying the long series of Instructions we are 
able to detach certain attitudes of mind which led to 
the atrophy of principles essentially good, and others 
which pushed the system forward on healthy lines 
and flung off obsolete restraints. In an art so shift- 
ing and amorphous as naval tactics, the difference 
between health and disease must always lie in a 
certain vitality of mind with which it must be 
approached and practised. It is only in the history 
of tactics, under all conditions of weapons, movement 
and material, that the conditions of that vitality can 
be studied. 

For a civilian to approach the elucidation of 
such points without professional assistance would be 
the height of temerity, and my thanks therefore 
are particularly due for advice and encouragement 
to Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge, Vice-Admiral Sir 
Reginald Custance, Rear- Admiral H.S.H. Prince 
Louis of Battenberg, and to Captain Slade, Captain 
of the Royal Naval College. To Sir Reginald 
Custance and Professor Laughton I am under a 
special obligation, for not only have they been kind 
enough to read the proofs of the work, but they have 
been indefatigable in offering suggestions, the one 
from his high professional knowledge and the other 
from his unrivalled learning in naval history. Any 
value indeed the work may be found to possess must 
in a large measure be attributed to them. Nor can 



PREFACE 



XI 



I omit to mention the valuable assistance which I 
have received from Mr. Ferdinand Brand and Captain 
Garbett, R.N., in unearthing forgotten material 
in the Libraries of the Admiralty and the United 
Service Institution. 

I have also the pleasure of expressing my 
obligations to the Earl of Dartmouth, the Earl of 
St. Germans, and Vice- Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, 
Bart., for the use of the documents in their posses- 
sion, as well as to many others whose benefits to 
the Society will be found duly noted in the body 
of the work. 



CONTENTS 

PART I. EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

PACK 

1. INTRODUCTORY. ALONSO DE CHAVES ON SAILING 

TACTICS 3 

Espejo de Navegantes, circa 1530 6 

2. INTRODUCTORY. AUDLEY'S FLEET ORDERS, circa 1530 . 14 

Orders to be used by the King's Majesty's Navy by the 
Sea 15 

3. INTRODUCTORY. THE ADOPTION OF SPANISH TACTICS 

BY HENRY VIII 18 

Lord Lisle, 1545, No. i 20 

No. 2 23 

PART II. ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

INTRODUCTORY. THE ELIZABETHAN ORIGIN OF RALEGH'S 

INSTRUCTIONS 27 

Sir Walter Ralegh, 1617 36 

PART III. CAROLINGIAN 
i. INTRODUCTORY. THE ATTEMPT TO APPLY LAND FORMA- 

TIONS TO THE FLEET 49 

Lord Wimbledon, 1625. No. i . 52 

No. 2 . . ... 41 

No. 3 63 



xiv CONTENTS 

PAGB 

2. INTRODUCTORY. THE SHIP-MONEY FLEETS, circa 1635 . 73 

The Earl of Lindsey, 1635 77 

PART IV. THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

1. INTRODUCTORY. ENGLISH AND DUTCH ORDERS ON THE 

EVE OF THE WAR, 1648-53 81 

Parliamentary Orders, 1648 87 

Supplementary Instructions, circa 1650 . ... 88 

Marten Tromp, 1652 . 91 

2. INTRODUCTORY. ORDERS ISSUED DURING THE WAR, 1653 

and 1654 92 

Commonwealth Orders, 1653 99 

PART V. THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

1. INTRODUCTORY. ORDERS OF THE RESTORATION . . . 107 

The Earl of Sandwich, 1665 108 

2. INTRODUCTORY. MONCK, PRINCE RUPERT, AND THE 

DUKE OF YORK no 

The Duke of York, 1665 122 

His Additional Instructions, 1665 126 

His Supplementary Order 128 

Prince Rupert, 1666 129 

PART VI. THE THIRD DUTCH WAR TO 
THE REVOLUTION 

i. INTRODUCTORY. PROGRESS OF TACTICS DURING THE 

WAR 133 

The Duke of York, 1672 146 

His Supplementary Orders, 1672 148 

The Duke of York, 1672-3 149 

Final form of the Duke of York's Orders, 1673, with addi- 
tions and observations subsequently made . . .152 



CONTENTS xv 



2. INTRODUCTORY. MEDITERRANEAN ORDERS, 1678 . . 164 

Sir John Narbrough, 1678 , 165 

3. INTRODUCTORY. THE LAST STUART ORDERS . . . 168 

Lord Dartmouth, 1688 170 



PART VII. WILLIAM III. AND ANNE 

1. INTRODUCTORY. LORD TORRINGTON, TOURVILLE, AND 

HOSTE 175 

Admiral Edward Russell, 1691 188 

2. INTRODUCTORY. THE PERMANENT INSTRUCTIONS, 1703- 

1783 195 

Sir George Rooke, 1703 197 



PART VIII. ADDITIONAL FIGHTING INSTRUC- 
TIONS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

INTRODUCTORY. ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE ADDITIONAL 

INSTRUCTIONS 203 

Admiral Vernon, circa 1740 214 

Lord Anson, circa 1747 216 

Sir Edward Hawke, 1756 217 

Admiral Boscawen, 1759 219 

Sir George Rodney, 1782 225 

Lord Hood's Additions, 1783 228 



PART IX. THE LAST PHASE 

1. INTRODUCTORY. THE NEW SIGNAL BOOK INSTRUCTIONS 233 

Lord Howe, 1782 239 

2. INTRODUCTORY. THE SIGNAL BOOKS OF THE GREAT 

WAR 252 

Lord Howe's Explanatory Instructions, 1799 . . . 268 



xvi CONTENTS 



PAGE 



3. INTRODUCTORY. NELSON'S TACTICAL MEMORANDA . . 280 

The Toulon Memorandum, 1803 . . . . 313 

The Trafalgar Memorandum, 1805 316 

4. INTRODUCTORY. INSTRUCTIONS AFTER TRAFALGAR . 321 

Admiral Gambier, 1807 327 

Lord Collingwood, 1808-1810 328 

Sir Alexander Cochrane, 1805-14 330 

5. INTRODUCTORY. THE SIGNAL BOOK OF 1816 . . . 335 

The Instructions of 1816 342 

APPENDIX. 'FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE TRAFALGAR 

FIGHT' 351 

INDEX . . 359 



PART I 
EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

I. ALONSO DE CRAVES, circa 1530 
II. SIR THOMAS AUDLEY, 1530 
III. LORD LISLE, 1545 



ALONSO DE CHAVES ON SAILING 
TACTICS 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE following extract from the Espejo de Nave- 
gantes, or Seamen 's Glass, of Alonso de Chaves 
serves to show the development which naval tactics 
had reached at the dawn of the sailing epoch. The 
treatise was apparently never pulished. It was 
discovered by Captain Fernandez Duro, the well- 
known historian of the Spanish navy, amongst the 
manuscripts in the library of the Academy of His- 
tory at Madrid. The exact date of its production 
is not known ; but Alonso de Chaves was one of a 
group of naval writers and experts who flourished 
at the court of the Emperor Charles V in the first 
half of the sixteenth century. 1 He was known to 
Hakluyt, who mentions him in connection with his 
own cherished idea of getting a lectureship in navi- 
gation established in London. ' And that it may 
appear,' he writes in dedicating the second edition 
of his Voyages to the lord admiral, 'that this is 
no vain fancy nor device of mine it may please your 
lordship to understand that the late Emperor 
Charles the Fifth . . . established not only a Pilot- 
Major for the examination of such as sought to 

1 Fernandez Duro, De algunas obras desconocidas de Cos- 
mografia y de Nccuegacion, &c. Reprinted from the Revista de 
Navegacion y Comercio. Madrid, 1894-5. 

B 2 



4 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

take charge of ships in that voyage' (i.e. to the 
Indies), 'but also founded a notable lecture of the 
Art of Navigation which is read to this day in the 
Contractation House at Seville. The Readers of 
the Lecture have not only carefully taught and 
instructed the Spanish mariners by word of mouth, 
but also have published sundry exact and worthy 
treatises concerning marine causes for the direction 
and encouragement of posterity. The learned 
works of three of which Readers, namely of Alonso 
de Chaves, of Hieronymus de Chaves, and of 
Roderigo Zamorano, came long ago very happily to 
my hands, together with the straight and severe 
examining of all such Masters as desire to take 
charge for the West Indies.' Since therefore De 
Chaves was an official lecturer to the Contractation 
House, the Admiralty of the Indies, we may take it 
that he speaks with full authority of the current 
naval thought of the time. That he represented a 
somewhat advanced school seems clear from the 
pains he takes in his treatise to defend his opinions 
against the old idea which still prevailed, that only 
galleys and oared craft could be marshalled in regular 
order. ' Some may say,' he writes, ' that at sea it 
is not possible to order ships and tactics in this way, 
nor to arrange beforehand so nicely for coming to 
the attack or bringing succour just when wanted, 
and that therefore there is no need to labour an 
order of battle since order cannot be kept. To such 
I answer that the same objection binds the enemy, 
and that with equal arms he who has taken up the 
best formation and order will be victor, because it 
is not possible so to break up an order with wind 
and sea as that he who is more without order shall 
not be worse broken up and the sooner defeated. 
For ships at sea are as war-horses on land, since 
admitting they are not very nimble at turning at 



ALONSO DE CHAVES 5 

any pace, nevertheless a regular formation increases 
their power. Moreover, at sea, so long as there be 
no storm, there will be nothing to hinder the using 
of any of the orders with which we have dealt, and 
if there be a storm the same terror will strike the 
one side as the other ; for the storm is enough for 
all to war with, and in fighting it they will have peace 
with one another.' 

At first sight it would seem that De Chaves in 
this argument takes no account of superiority of 
seamanship the factor which was destined to turn 
the scale against Spain upon the sea. But the 
following passage with which he concludes shows 
that he regarded seamanship as the controlling 
factor in every case. ' And if," he argues, ' they 
say that the enemy will take the same thought and 
care as I, I answer that when both be equal in 
numbers and arms, then in such case he who shall 
be more dexterous and have more spirit and forti- 
tude he will conquer, the which he will not do, 
although he have more and better arms and as much 
spirit as he will, if he be wanting in good order and 
counsel. Just as happens in fencing, that the weaker 
man if he be more dexterous gives more and better 
hits than the other who does not understand the 
beats nor knows them, although he be the stronger. 
And the same holds good with any army whatsoever 
on land, and it has been seen that the smaller by 
their good order have defeated the stronger.' 

From the work in question Captain Fernandez 
Duro gives four sections or chapters in Appendix 
12 to the first volume of his history, 1 namely, 
i. 'Of war or battle at sea,' relating to single ship 
actions. 2. ' The form of a battle and the method 
of fighting,' relating to armament, fire discipline, 

1 Armada Espafiola desde la union de los Reinos de Castilla 
y de Aragon. 



6 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

boarding and the like. 3. ' Of a battle of one fleet 
against another.' 4. ' Battle.' In the last two 
sections is contained the earliest known attempt to 
formulate a definite fighting formation and tactical 
system for sailing fleets, and it is from these that the 
following extracts have been translated. 

It will be noted that in the root-idea of coming as 
quickly as possible to close quarters, and in relying 
mainly on end-on fire, the proposed system is still 
quite mediaeval and founded mainly upon galley 
tactics. But a new and advanced note is struck in 
the author's insistence on the captain-general's 
keeping out of action as long as possible, instead of 
leading the attack in the time-honoured way. We 
should also remark the differentiation of types, for 
all of which a duty was provided in action. This 
was also a survival of galley warfare, and rapidly 
disappeared with the advance of the sailing man-of- 
war, never to be revived, unless perhaps it be 
returning in the immediate future, and we are to 
see torpedo craft of the latest devising taking the 
place and function of the barcas, with their axes and 
augers, and armoured cruisers those of the naos de 
snccurro. 



ESPEJO DE NA VEG 'ANTES, 

circa 1530. 
[Fernandez Euro, Armada Espanola i. App. 12.] 

Chapter III. Of a Battle between One Fleet 
and Another. 

[Extract.'] 

. . . When the time for battle is at hand the 
captain-general should order the whole fleet to 
come together that he may set them in order> since 



ALONSO DE CHAVES 7 

a regular order is no less necessary in a fleet of ships 
for giving battle to another fleet than it is in an 
army of soldiers for giving battle to another army. 

Thus, as in an army, the men-at-arms form by 
themselves in one quarter to make and meet charges, 
and the light horse in another quarter to support, 
pursue, and harass ; l so in a fleet, the captain- 
general ought to order the strongest and largest 
ships to form in one quarter to attack, grapple, 
board and break-up the enemy, and the lesser and 
weaker ships in another quarter apart, with their 
artillery and munitions to harass, pursue, and give 
chase to the enemy if he flies, and to come to the 
rescue wherever there is most need. 

The captain-general should form a detachment 
of his smaller and lighter vessels, to the extent of one- 
fourth part of his whole fleet, and order them to take 
station on either side of the main body. I mean 
that they should always keep as a separate body 
on the flanks of the main body, so that they can see 
what happens on one side and on the other. 

He should admonish and direct every one of the 
ships that she shall endeavour to grapple with the 
enemy in such a way that she shall not get between 
two of them so as to be boarded and engaged on 
both sides at once. 2 

Having directed and set in order all the afore- 
said matters, the captain-general should then 
marshal the other three-quarters of the fleet that 
remain in the following manner. 

1 Entrar y salir lit. ' to go in and come out,' a technical 
military expression used of light cavalry'. It seems generally to 
signify short sudden attacks on weak points. 

2 Here follow directions for telling off a fourth of the largest 
boats in the fleet for certain duties which are sufficiently explained 
in the section on ' Battle ' below. 



8 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

He should consider his position and the direction 
of the wind, and how to get the advantage of it with 
his fleet. 

Then he should consider the order in which the 
enemy is formed, whether they come in a close 
body or in line ahead, 1 and whether they are disposed 
in square bodies or in a single line, 2 and whether the 
great ships are in the centre or on the flanks, and in 
what station is the flagship ; and all the other con- 
siderations which are essential to the case he should 
take in hand. 

By all means he should do his best that his fleet 
shall have the weather-gage ; for if there was no other 
advantage he will always keep free from being blinded 
by the smoke of the guns, so as to be able to see one 
to another ; and for the enemy it will be the contrary, 
because the smoke and fire of our fleet and of their 
own will keep driving upon them, and blinding 
them in such a manner that they will not be able to 
see one another, and they will fight among them- 
selves from not being able to recognise each other. 

Everything being now ready, if the enemy have 
made squadrons of their fleet we should act in the 
same manner in ours, placing always the greater 
ships in one body as a vanguard to grapple first 
and receive the first shock ; and the captain-general 
should be stationed in the centre squadron, so that 
he may see those which go before and those which 
follow. 

Each of the squadrons ought to sail in line 
abreast, 3 so that all can see the enemy and use 

1 Unos en pos de otros d la hila lit. one behind the other in 
file. 

2 En escuadrones 6 en ala. In military diction these words 
meant ' deep formation ' and ' single line.' Here probably ala 
means line abreast. See next note. 

3 Cado uno de los escuadrones debe ir en ala. Here escuadrone 
must mean ' squadron ' in the modern sense of a division, and 



ALONSO DE CHAVES 9 

their guns without getting in each other's way, and 
they must not sail in file one behind the other, 
because thence would come great trouble, as only 
the leading ships could fight. In any case a ship is 
not so nimble as a man to be able to face about and 
do what is best. 1 

The rearguard should be the ships that I have 
called the supports, which are to be the fourth part 
of the fleet, and the lightest and best sailers ; but 
they must not move in rear of the fleet, because they 
would not see well what is passing so as to give 
timely succour, and therefore they ought always to 
keep an offing on that side or flank of the fleet where 
the flagship is, or on both sides if they are many ; 
and if they are in one body they should work to 
station themselves to windward for the reasons 
aforesaid. 

And if the fleet of the enemy shall come on in 
one body in line abreast, 2 ours should do the same, 
placing the largest and strongest ships in the centre 
and the lightest on the flanks of the battle, seeing 
that those which are in the centre always receive 
greater injury because necessarily they have to fight 
on both sides. 

And if the enemy bring their fleet into the form 
of a lance-head or triangle, then ours ought to form in 
two lines [#/#/], keeping the advanced extremities 
furthest apart and closing in the rear, so as to take 
the enemy between them and engage them on both 
fronts, placing the largest ships in the rear and the 

from the context ala can mean nothing but ' line abreast,' ' line 
ahead ' being strictly forbidden. 

1 This, of course, refers to fire tactics ashore. The meaning 
is that a ship, when she has delivered her fire, cannot retire by 
countermarch and leave her next in file to deliver its fire in turn. 
The whole system, it will be seen, is based on end-on fire, as a 
preparation for boarding and small-arm fighting. 

2 Viniere toda junta puesta in ala. 



io EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

lightest at the advanced points, seeing that they can 
most quickly tack in upon the enemy opposed to 
them. 

And if the enemy approach formed in two lines 
[alas'], ours ought to do the same, placing always the 
greatest ships over against the greatest of the enemy, 
and being always on the look-out to take the enemy 
between them ; and on no account must ours pene- 
trate into the midst of the enemy's formation \batalla~\, 
because arms and smoke will envelope them on 
every side and there will be no way of relieving them. 

The captain-general having now arrayed his 
whole fleet in one of the aforesaid orders according 
as it seems best to him for giving battle, and every- 
thing being ready for battle, all shall bear in mind 
the signals he shall have appointed with flag or shot 
or topsail, that all may know at what time to attack 
or board or come to rescue or retreat, or give 
chase. The which signals all must understand and 
remember what they are to do when such signals 
are made, and likewise the armed boats shall take 
the same care and remember what they ought to do, 
and perform their duty. 1 

Chapter IV. Battle 

Then the flagship shall bid a trumpet sound, and 
at that signal all shall move in their aforesaid order ; 
and as they come into range they shall commence 
to play their most powerful artillery, taking care 
that the first shots do not miss, for, as I have said, 
when the first shots hit, inasmuch as they are the 
largest, they strike great dread and terror into the 
enemy ; for seeing how great hurt they suffer, they 

1 This sentence in the original is incomplete, running on into 
the next chapter. For clearness the construction has been altered 
in the translation. 



ALONSO DE CHAVES n 

think how much greater it will be at close range and 
so mayhap they will not want to fight, but strike and 
surrender or fly, so as not to come to close quarters. 

Having so begun firing, they shall always first 
play the largest guns, which are on the side or board 
towards the enemy, and likewise they shall move over 
from the other side those guns which have wheeled 
carriages to run on the upper part of the deck and 
poop. 1 And then when nearer they should use the 
smaller ones, and by no means should they fire them 
at first, for afar off they will do no hurt, and besides 
the enemy will know there is dearth of good ar- 
tillery and will take better heart to make or abide 
an attack. And after having come to closer quar- 
ters then they ought to play the lighter artillery. 
And so soon as they come to board or grapple 
all the other kinds of arms shall be used, of which 
I have spoken more particularly : first, missiles, 
such as harpoons \dardos\ and stones, hand-guns 
\escopetas\ and cross-bows, and then the fire-balls 
aforesaid, as well from the tops as from the castles, 
and at the same time the calthrops, linstocks, stink- 
balls [pildoras], grenades, and the scorpions for the 
sails and rigging. At this moment they should sound 
all the trumpets, and with a lusty cheer from every 
ship at once they should grapple and fight with every 
kind of weapon, those with staffed scythes or shear- 
hooks cutting the enemy's rigging, and the others 
with the fire instruments \trompas y bocas de fuego\ 
raining fire down on the enemy's rigging and crew. 

The captain-general should encourage all in 
the battle, and because he cannot be heard with his 
voice he should bid the signal for action to be made 
with his trumpet or flag or with his topsail. 

1 This remarkable evolution is a little obscure. The Spanish 
has f y moviendo asimismo los otros del otro bordo, aquellos que 
tienen sus carretones que andan per cima de cubicrta y toldo? 



12 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

And he should keep a look-out in every direction 
in readiness, when he sees any of his ships in danger, 
to order the ships of reserve to give succour, if by 
chance they have not seen it, or else himself to bear 
in with his own ship. 

The flagship should take great care not to 
grapple another, for then he could not see what is 
passing in the battle nor control it. And besides 
his own side in coming to help and support him 
might find themselves out of action ; or peradventure 
if any accident befell him, the rest of the fleet would 
be left without guidance and would not have care to 
succour one another, but so far as they were able 
would fly or take their own course. Accordingly 
the captain-general should never be of the first who 
are to grapple nor should he enter into the press, 
so that he may watch the fighting and bring succour 
where it is most needed. 

The ships of support in like manner should have 
care to keep somewhat apart and not to grapple till 
they see where they should first bring succour. The 
more they keep clear the more will they have oppor- 
tunity of either standing off and using their guns, or 
of coming to close range with their other firearms. 
Moreover, if any ship of the enemy takes to flight, 
they will be able to give chase or get athwart her 
hawse, and will be able to watch and give succour 
wherever the captain-general signals. 

The boats in like manner should not close in till 
they see the ships grappled, and then they should 
come up on the opposite side in the manner stated 
above, and carry out their special duties as occasion 
arises either with their bases, 1 of which each shall 
carry its own, and with their harquebuses, or else by 

1 Versos, breech-loading pieces of the secondary armament of 
ships, and for arming boats. Bases were of the high penetration 
or ' culverin ' type. 



ALONSO DE CHAVES 13 

getting close in and wedging up the rudders, or cut- 
ting them and their gear away, or by leaping in upon 
the enemy, if they can climb in without being seen, 
or from outside by setting fire to them, or scuttling 
them with augers. 1 

1 Dando barrenos. This curious duty of the armed boats he 
has more fully explained in the section on single ship actions, as 
follows : ' The ships being grappled, the boat ready equipped 
should put off to the enemy's ship under her poop, and get fast 
hold of her, and first cut away her rudder, or at least jam it with 
half a dozen wedges in such wise that it cannot steer or move, 
and if there is a chance for more, without being seen, bore 
half a dozen auger holes below the water-line, so that the ship 
founders.' 

The rest of the chapter is concerned with the treatment of the 
dead and wounded, pursuit of the enemy when victory is won, 
and the refitting of the fleet. 



i 4 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 



AUDLEY'S FLEET ORDERS, 

circa 1530 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE instructions drawn up by Thomas Audley by 
order of Henry VIII may be taken as the last word 
in England of the purely mediaeval time, before the 
development of gunnery, and particularly of broad- 
side fire, had sown the seeds of more modern tactics. 
They were almost certainly drafted from long- 
established precedents, for Audley was a lawyer. 
The document is undated, but since Audley is 
mentioned without any rank or title, it was probably 
before November 1531, when he became ser- 
jeant-at-law and king's Serjeant, and certainly before 
May 1632 when he was knighted. It was at this 
time that Henry VIII was plunging into his 
Reformation policy, and had every reason to be 
prepared for complications abroad, and particularly 
with Spain, which was then the leading naval 
Power. 

The last two articles, increasing the authority of 
the council of war, were probably insisted on, as Mr. 
Oppenheim has pointed out in view of Sir Edward 
Howard's attempts on French ports in 1512 and 
1513, the last of which ended in disaster. 1 

1 Administration of the Royal Navy> p. 63. 



SSJZ THOMAS AUDLEY 15 



ORDERS TO BE USED B Y THE KING'S MAJESTY'S 
NAVY BY THE SEA. 

[Brit. Mus. Harleian MSS. 309, fol. 42, et seq. 1 ] 

[Extract.] 

If they meet with the enemy the admiral must 
apply to get the wind of the enemy by all the means 
he can, for that is the advantage. No private 
captain should board the admiral enemy but the 
admiral of the English, except he cannot come to 
the enemy's, as the matter may so fall out without 
they both the one seek the other. And if they 
chase the enemy let them that chase shoot no 
ordnance till he be ready to board him, for that will 
let 2 his ship's way. 

Let every ship match equally as near as they 
can, and leave some pinnaces at liberty to help the 
overmatched. And one small ship when they shall 
join battle [is] to be attending on the admiral to relieve 
him, for the overcoming of the admiral is a great 
discouragement of the rest of the other side. 

In case you board your enemy enter not till you 
see the smoke gone and then shoot off 3 all your pieces, 
your port-pieces, the pieces of hail-shot, [and] cross- 
bow shot to beat his cage deck, and if you see his deck 
well ridden 4 then enter with your best men, but first 

1 A Book of Orders for the War both by Land and Sea, 
written by Tliomas Audley at the command of King Henrv VIII. 
1 I.e. hinder. 

3 MS. ' the shot of.' The whole MS. has evidently been very 
carelessly copied and is full of small blunders, which have been 
corrected in the text above. ' Board ' till comparatively recent 
times meant to close with a ship. ' Enter ' was our modern ' board. ' 

4 ' Ridden ' = ' cleared.' 



1 6 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

win his tops in any wise if it be possible. In case 
you see there come rescue bulge 1 the enemy ship 
[but] first take heed your own men be retired, [and] 
take the captain with certain of the best with him, 
the rest [to be] committed to the sea, for else they 
will turn upon you to your confusion. 

The admiral ought to have this order before 
he joins battle with the enemy, that all his ships 
shall bear a flag in their mizen-tops, and himself 
one in the foremast beside the mainmast, that 
everyone may know his own fleet by that token. 
If he see a hard match with the enemy and be to 
leeward, then to gather his fleet together and seem 
to flee, and flee indeed for this purpose till the enemy 
draw within gunshot. And when the enemy doth 
shoot then [he shall] shoot again, and make all the 
smoke he can to the intent the enemy shall not see the 
ships, and [then] suddenly hale up his tackle aboard, 2 
and have the wind of the enemy. And by this 
policy it is possible to win the weather-gage of the 
enemy, and then he hath a great advantage, and this 
may well be done if it be well foreseen beforehand, 
and every captain and master made privy to it 
beforehand at whatsoever time such disadvantage 
shall happen. 

The admiral shall not take in hand any exploit to 
land or enter into any harbour enemy with the king's 
ships, but 3 he call a council and make the captains 
privy to his device and the best masters in the fleet 
or pilots, known to be skilful men on that coast or 
place where he intendeth to do his exploit, and by 

1 ' Bulge '=' scuttle.' A ship was said to bulge herself when 
she ran aground and filled. 

2 The passage should probably read ' hale or haul his tacks 
aboard.' 

3 I.e. ' without,' ' unless.' 



SIR THOMAS AUDLEY 17 

good advice. Otherwise the fault ought to be laid 
on the admiral if anything should happen but well. 1 
And if he did an exploit without assent of the 
captains and [it] proved well, the king ought to put 
him out of his room for purposing a matter of such 
charge of his own brain, whereby the whole fleet 
might fall into the hands of the enemy to the 
destruction of the king's people. 2 

1 It was under this old rule that Boroughs lodged his protest 
against Drake's entering Cadiz in 1587. 

2 The rest of the articles relate to discipline, internal order 
of ships, and securing prize cargoes. 



1 8 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 



THE ADOPTION OF SPANISH TACTICS 
BY HENRY VIII 

INTRODUCTORY 

THESE two sets of orders were drawn up by the 
lord high admiral in rapid succession in August 
1545, during the second stage of Henry VI IPs last 
war with France. In the previous month D'An- 
nibault, the French admiral, had been compelled 
to abandon his attempt on Portsmouth and the 
Isle of Wight, and retire to recruit upon his own 
coast ; and Lord Lisle was about to go out and 
endeavour to bring him to action. 

The orders, it will be seen, are a distinct 
advance on those of 1530, and betray strongly 
the influence of Spanish ideas as formulated by 
De Chaves. So striking indeed is the resemblance 
in many points, that we perhaps may trace it 
to Henry's recent alliance with Charles V. The 
main difference was that Henry's * wings ' were 
composed of oared craft, and to form them of 
sufficient strength he had had some of the newest 
and smartest 'galliasses,' or 'galleys' that is, his 
vessels specially built for men-of-war fitted with 
oars. The reason for this was that the French fleet 
was a mixed one, the sailing division having been 
reinforced by a squadron of galleys from the Medi- 
terranean. The elaborate attempts to combine the 
two types tactically a problem which the Italian 
admirals had hitherto found insoluble points to 



LORD LISLE, 1545 19 

an advanced study of the naval art that is entirely 
characteristic of Henry VIII. 

The main idea of the first order is of a van- 
guard in three ranks, formed of the most powerful 
hired merchant ships and the king's own galleons and 
great ships, and supported by a strong rearguard of 
smaller armed merchantmen, and by two oared wings 
on either flank composed of royal and private vessels 
combined. The vanguard was to be marshalled 
with its three ranks so adjusted that its general form 
was that of a blunt wedge. In the first rank come 
eight of the large merchantmen, mainly Hanseatic 
vessels ; in the second, ten of the royal navy 
and one private vessel ; in the third, nineteen 
second-rate merchantmen. The tactical aim is 
clearly that the heavy Hanseatic ships should, as 
De Chaves says, receive the first shock and break 
up the enemy's formation for the royal ships, 
while the third rank are in position to support. 
The wings, which were specially told off to keep 
the galleys in check, correspond to the reserve of 
De Chaves, and the importance attached to them is 
seen in the fact that they contained all the king's 
galleons of the latest type. 

In the second set of instructions, issued on 
August 10, this order was considerably modified. 
The fleet had been increased by the arrival of some 
of the west-country ships, and a new order of 
battle was drawn up which is printed in the State 
Papers, Henry F///(Old Series), i. 810. The forma- 
tion, though still retaining the blunt wedge design, 
was simplified. We have now a vanguard of 24 ships, 
a ' battaill ' or main body of 40 ships, and one 'wing ' 
of 40 oared ' galliasses, shallops and boats of war.' 
The 'wing,' however, was still capable of acting in 
two divisions, for, unlike the vanguard and 'battaill,' 
it had a vice-admiral as well as an admiral. 

C2 



20 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

LORD LISLE, No. i, 1545. 
[Le Fleming MSS. No. 2.] 

The Order of Battle? 

THE VANGUARD. 

These be the ships appointed for the first rank 
of the vanguard : 

In primis : 

The Great Argosy. 
The Samson Lubeck. 
The Johannes Lubeck. 
The Trinity of Dantzig. 
The Mary of Hamburg. 
The Pellican. 
The Morion [of Dantzig]. 
The ' Sepiar ' of Dantzig. 
= 8. 

The second rank of the vanguard : 

The Harry Grace a Dieu. 
The Venetian. 
The Peter Pomegranate. 
The Mathew Gonson. 
The Pansy. 
The Great Galley. 
The Sweepstake. 
The Minion. 
The Swallow. 
The New Bark. 
The Saul ' Argaly.' 
= 12 (sic). 

1 A similar list of ships is in a MS. in the Cambridge Uni- 
versity Library. 

2 This paper gives the order of the wings and vanguard 
only. The fifty west-country ships that were presumably to form 
the rearguard had not yet joined. 



LORD LISLE, 1545 21 

The third rank of the vanguard : 

The ' Berste Denar.' 
The Falcon Lively. 
The Harry Bristol. 
The Trinity Smith. 
The Margaret of Bristol. 
The Trinity Reniger. 
The Mary James. 
The Pilgrim of Dartmouth. 
The Mary Gorge of Rye. 
The Thomas Tipkins. 
The Gorges Brigges. 
The Anne Lively. 
= 12. 

The John Evangelist. 
The Thomas Modell. 
The Lartycke for ' Lartigoe '] 

T-L r-i. in & J 

1 he Christopher Bennet. 
The Mary Fortune. 
The Mary Marten. 
The Trinity Bristol. 
= 7- 

THE OARED WINGS. 

Galleys and ships of the right wing : 

The Great Mistress of England. 
The Salamander. 
The Jennet. 
The Lion. 
The Greyhound. 
The Thomas Greenwich. 
The Lesser Pinnace. 
The Hind. 
The Harry. 
The Galley Subtle. 
Two boats of Rye. 
= 12. 



22 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

Galleys and ships of the left wing : 

The Anne Gallant. 
The Unicorn. 
The Falcon. 
The Dragon. 
The Sacre. 
The Merlin. 
The Rae. 

The Reniger pinnace. 
The Foyst. 
Two boats of Rye. 
= 11. 

The Fighting Instructions. 

Item. It is to be considered that the ranks must 
keep such order in sailing that none impeach 
another. Wherefore it is requisite that every of the 
said ranks keep right way with another, and take 
such regard to the observing of the same that no 
ship pass his fellows forward nor backward nor 
slack anything, but [keep] as they were in one line, 
and that there may be half a cable length between 
every of the ships. 

Item. The first rank shall make sail straight to 
the front of the battle and shall pass through them, 
and so shall make a short return to the midwards as 
they may, and they [are] to have a special regard 
to the course of the second rank ; which two ranks is 
appointed to lay aboard the principal ships of the 
enemy, every man choosing l his mate as they may, 
reserving the admiral for my lord admiral. 

Item. That every ship of the first rank shall bear 
a flag of St. George's cross upon the fore topmast 
for the space of the fight, which upon the king's 

1 MS. 'closing.' 



LORD LISLE, 1545 23 

determination shall be on Monday, the loth of 
August, anno I545- 1 

And every ship appointed to the middle rank 
shall for the space of the fight bear a flag of St. 
George's cross upon her mainmast. 

And every ship of the third rank shall bear a 
like flag upon his mizen 2 mast top, and every of the 
said wings shall have in their tops a flag of St. 
George. 

Item. The victuallers shall follow the third rank 
and shall bear in their tops their flags. Also that 
neither of the said wings shall further enter into 
fight ; but, having advantage as near anigh 3 as they 
can of the wind, shall give succour as they shall see 
occasion, and shall not give care to any of the small 
vessels to weaken our force. There be, besides the 
said ships mentioned, to be joined to the foresaid 
battle fifty sail of western ships, and whereof be seven 
great hulks of 888 ton apiece, and there is also the 
number of 1,200 of soldiers beside mariners in all the 
said ships. 

LORD LISLE, No. 2. 
[Record Office, State Papers, Henry VIII.] 

The Order for the said Fleet taken by the Lord 
Admiral the \&th day of August, 1545.* 

i. First, it is to be considered that every of the 
captains with the said ships appointed by this order 

1 The fleets did not get contact till August 15. 
8 MS. ' messel.' 

3 MS. 'a snare a nye.' The passage is clearly corrupt. 
Perhaps it should read ' neither of the said wings shall further 
enter into the fight but as nigh as they can keeping advantage of 
the wind [i.e. without losing the weather-gage of any part of the 
enemy's fleet] but shall give succour, 1 &c. 

4 The articles are preceded, like the first ones, by a list of 
ships or ' battle order,' showing an organisation into a van (van- 



24 EARLY TUDOR PERIOD 

to the vanward, battle and wing shall ride at 
anchor according as they be appointed to sail by 
the said order ; and no ship of any of the said wards 
or wing shall presume to come to an anchor before 
the admiral of the said ward. 

2. Item, that every captain of the said wards or 
wing shall be in everything ordered by the admiral 
of the same. 

3. Item, when we shall see a convenient time to 
fight with the enemies our vanward shall make with 
their vanward if they have any ; and if they be in 
one company, our vanward, taking the advantage of 
the wind, shall set upon their foremost rank, bring- 
ing them out of order ; and our vice-admiral shall 
seek to board their vice-admiral, and every cap- 
tain shall choose his equal as near as he may. 

4. Item, the admiral of the wing shall be always 
in the wind with his whole company; and when we 
shall join with the enemies he shall keep still the 
advantage of the wind, to the intent he with his 
company may the better beat off the galleys from 
the great ships. 1 

ward), main body (battle), and one wing of oared craft. See 
Introductory Note, p. 19. 

1 Of the remaining seven articles, five relate to distinguishing 
squadronal flags and lights as in the earlier instructions, and the 
last one to the watchword of the night. It is to be ' God save 
King Henry,' and the answer, ' And long to reign over us.' 



PART II 
ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

SIR WALTER RALEGH, 1617 



THE ELIZABETHAN ORIGIN OF 
RALEGH'S INSTRUCTIONS 

INTRODUCTORY 

No fighting instructions known to have been issued 
in the reign of Elizabeth have been found, nor is 
there any indication that a regular order of battle 
was ever laid down by the seamen-admirals of her 
time. 1 Even Howard's great fleet of 1588 had 
twice been in action with the Armada before it was 
so much as organised into squadrons. If anything 
of the kind was introduced later in her reign Captain 
Nathaniel Boteler, who had served in the Jacobean 
navy and wrote on the subject early in the reign 
of Charles I, was ignorant of it. In his Dialogues 
about Sea Services, he devotes the sixth to ' Order- 
ing of Fleets in Sailing, Chases, Boardings and 
Battles/ but although he suggests a battle order 
which we know was never put in practice, he is un- 
able to give one that had been used by an English 
fleet. 2 It is not surprising. In the despatches of 

1 Hakluyt printed several sets of instructions issued to armed 
fleets intended for discovery, viz. : i. Those drawn by Sebastian 
Cabota for Sir Hugh Willoughby's voyage in 1553. 2. Those for 
the first voyage of Anthony Jenkinson, 1557, which refers toother 
standing orders. 3. Those issued by the lords of the Council 
for Edward Fenton in 1582, the 2oth article of which directs him 
to draw up orders ' for their better government both at sea and 
land.' But none of these contain any fighting instructions. 

2 Boteler's MS. was not published till 1685, when the 
publisher dedicated it to Samuel Pepys. The date at which it 
was written can only be inferred from internal evidence. At 



28 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

the Elizabethan admirals, though they have much 
to say on strategy, there is not a word of fleet- 
tactics, as we understand the thing. The domina- 
tion of the seamen's idea of naval warfare, the 
increasing handiness of ships, the improved design 
of their batteries, the special progress made by 
Englishmen in guns and gunnery led rapidly to the 
preference of broadside gunfire over boarding, and 
to an exaggeration of the value of individual 
mobility ; and the old semi-military formations based 
on small-arm fighting were abandoned. 

At the same time, although the seamen-ad- 
mirals did not trouble or were not sufficiently 
advanced to devise a battle order to suit their new 
weapon, there are many indications that, consciously 
or unconsciously, they developed a tendency inherent 
in the broadside idea to fall in action into a rough 
line ahead ; that is to say, the practice was usually 
to break up into groups as occasion dictated, and for 
each group to deliver its broadsides in succession on 
an exposed point of the enemy's formation. That 
the armed merchantmen conformed regularly to this 
idea is very improbable. The faint pictures we have 
of their well-meant efforts present them to us attack- 
ing in a loose throng and masking each other's fire. 
But that the queen's ships did not attempt to 
observe any order is not so clear. When the com- 

p. 47 he refers to 'his Majesty's late augmentation of seamen's 
pay in general.' Such an augmentation took place in 1625 and 
1626. He also refers to the 'late king' and to the colony of 
St. Christopher's, which was settled in 1623, but not to that of 
New Providence, settled in 1629. He served in the Cadiz Expe- 
dition of 1625, but does not mention it or any event of the rest 
of the war. The battle order, however, which he recommends 
closely resembles that proposed by Sir E. Cecil (post, p. 65). 
The probability is, then, that his work was begun at the end of 
James I's reign, and was part of the large output of military 
literature to which the imminent prospect of war with Spain gave 
rise at that time. 



SJ7? FRANCIS DRAKE, 1588 29 

bined fleet of Howard and Drake was first sighted 
by the Armada, it is said by two Spanish eye-wit- 
nesses to have been in ala, and 'in very fine order.' 
And the second of Adams's charts, upon which the 
famous House of Lords' tapestries were designed, 
actually represents the queen's ships standing out of 
Plymouth in line ahead, and coming to the attack in 
a similar but already disordered formation. Still 
there can be no doubt that, however far a rudimentary 
form of line ahead was carried by the Elizabethans, 
it was a matter of minor tactics and not of a battle 
order, and was rather instinctive than the perfected 
result of a serious attempt to work out a tactical 
system. The only actual account of a fleet formation 
which we have is still on the old lines, and it was 
for review purposes only. Ubaldino, in his second 
narrative, which he says was inspired by Drake, 1 
relates that when Drake put out of Plymouth to 
receive Howard ' he sallied from port to meet him 
with his thirty ships in equal ranks, three ships deep, 
making honourable display of his masterly and 
diligent handling, with the pinnaces and small craft 
thrown forward as though to reconnoitre the ships that 
were approaching, which is their office.' Nothing, 
however, is more certain in the unhappily vague 
accounts of the 1588 campaign than that no such 
battle order as this was used in action against the 
Armada. 

It is not till the close of the West Indian 
Expedition of 1596, when, after Hawkins and Drake 
were both dead, Colonel-General Sir Thomas 
Baskerville, the commander of the landing force, was 
left in charge of the retreating fleet, that we get any 
trace of a definite battle formation. In his action 
off the Isla de Pinos he seems, so far as we can read 
the obscure description, to have formed his fleet into 
1 See Drake and the Tudor Navy, ii. Appendix B. 



30 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

two divisions abreast, each in line ahead. The 
queen's ships are described at least as engaging in 
succession according to previous directions till all 
had had 'their course.' Henry Savile, whose in- 
temperate and enthusiastic defence of his commander 
was printed by Hakluyt, further says : ' Our general 
was the foremost and so held his place until, by order 
of fight, other ships were to have their turns according 
to his former direction, who wisely and politicly had 
so ordered his vanguard and rearward ; and as the 
manner of it was altogether strange to the Spaniard, 
so might they have been without hope of victory, if 
their general had been a man of judgment in sea- 
fights.' 

Here, then, if we may trust Savile, a definite 
battle order must have been laid down beforehand 
on the new lines, and it is possible that in the years 
which had elapsed since the Armada campaign the 
seamen had been giving serious attention to a tac- 
tical system, which the absence of naval actions 
prevented reaching any degree of development. 
Had the idea been Baskerville's own it is very, 
unlikely that the veteran sea-captains on his council 
of war would have assented to its adoption. At 
any rate we may assert that the idea of ships attack- 
ing in succession so as to support one another with- 
out masking each other's broadside fire (which is the 
essential germ of the true line ahead) was in the air, 
and it is clearly on the principle that underlay Bas- 
kerville's tactics that Ralegh's fighting instructions 
were based twenty years later. 1 

These which are the first instructions known to 
have been issued to an English fleet since Henry 
VIII's time were signed by Sir Walter Ralegh on 
May 3, 1617, at Plymouth, on the eve of his sailing 
for his ill-fated expedition to Guiana. Most of the 

1 See Article i of the Instructions of 1816, post, p. 342. 



WALTER RALEGH, 1617 31 

articles are in the nature of ' Articles of War ' and 
' Sailing Instructions ' rather than ' Fighting Instruc- 
tions,' but the whole are printed below for their 
general interest. A contemporary writer, quoted by 
Edwards in his Life of Ralegh, says of them : 
' There is no precedent of so godly, severe, and 
martial government, fit to be written and engraven 
in every man's soul that covets to do honour to his 
king and country in this or like attempts.' But this 
cannot be taken quite literally. So far at least as 
they relate to discipline, some of Ralegh's articles 
may be traced back in the Black Book of the 
Admiralty to the fourteenth century, while the il- 
logical arrangement of the whole points, as in the 
case of the Additional Fighting Instructions of the 
eighteenth century, to a gradual growth from prece- 
dent to precedent by the accretion of expeditional 
orders added from time to time by individual admirals. 
The process of formation may be well studied in 
Lord Wimbledon's first orders, where Ralegh's special 
expeditional additions will be found absorbed and 
adapted to the conditions of a larger fleet. Moreover, 
there is evidence that, with the exception of those 
articles which were designed in view of the special 
destination of Ralegh's voyage, the whole of them 
were based on an early Elizabethan precedent. 
For the history of English tactics the point is of 
considerable importance, especially in view of his 
twenty-ninth article, which lays down the method 
of attack when the weather-gage has been secured. 
This has hitherto been believed to be new and 
presumably Ralegh's own, in spite of the difficulty 
of believing that a man entirely without experience 
of fleet actions at sea could have hit upon so 
original and effective a tactical design. The evi- 
dence, however, that Ralegh borrowed it from an 
earlier set of orders is fairly clear. 



32 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

Amongst the Stowe MSS. in the British Museum 
there is a small quarto treatise (No. 426) entitled 
' Observations and overtures for a sea fight upon our 
own coasts, and what kind of order and discipline is 
fitted to be used in martialling and directing our 
navies against the preparations of such Spanish 
Armadas or others as shall at any time come to 
assail us.' From internal evidence and directly 
from another copy of it in the Lansdown MSS. 
(No. 213), we know it to be the work of ' William 
Gorges, gentleman.' He is to be identified as a 
son of Sir William Gorges, for he tells us he was 
afloat with his father in the Dreadnought as early 
as 1578, when Sir William was admiral on the 
Irish station with a squadron ordered to intercept 
the filibustering expedition which Sir Thomas 
Stucley was about to attempt under the auspices 
of Pope Gregory XIII. Sir William was a cousin 
of Ralegh's and brother to Sir Arthur Gorges, 
who was Ralegh's captain in the Azores expedition 
of 1597, and who in Ralegh's interest wrote the 
account of the campaign which Purchas printed. 
Though William, the son, freely quotes the expe- 
riences of the Armada campaign of 1588, he is 
not known to have ever held a naval command, and 
he calls himself 'unexperienced.' We may take it 
therefore that his treatise was mainly inspired by 
Ralegh, to whom indeed a large part of it is some- 
times attributed. This question, however, is of small 
importance. The gist of the matter is a set of fleet 
orders which he has appended as a precedent at 
the end of his treatise, and it is on these orders 
that Ralegh's are clearly based. They com- 
mence with fourteen articles, consisting mainly of 
sailing instructions, similar to those which occur 
later in Ralegh's set. The fifteenth deals with 
fighting and bloodshed among the crews, and the 



SIR WILLIAM GORGES, 1578 33 

sixteenth enjoins morning and evening prayer, with 
a psalm at setting the watch, and further provides 
that any man absenting himself from divine service 
without good cause shall suffer the ' bilboes,' with 
bread and water for twelve hours. The whole of 
this drastic provision for improving the seamen's 
morals has been struck out by a hurried and less 
clerkly hand, and in the margin is substituted 
another article practically word for word the same 
as that which Ralegh adopted as his first article. 
The same hand has also erased the whole number- 
ing of the articles up to No. 16, and has noted that 
the new article on prayers is to come first. 1 The 
articles which follow correspond closely both in order 
and expression to Ralegh's, ending with No. 36, 
where Ralegh's special articles relating to landing 
in Guiana begin. Ralegh's important twenty-ninth 
article dealing with the method of attack is practically 
identical with that of Gorges. Ralegh, however, 
has several articles which are not in Gorges's set, and 
wherever the two sets are not word for word the 
same, Ralegh's is the fuller, having been to all ap- 
pearances expanded from Gorges's precedent. This, 
coupled with the fact that other corrections beside 
those of the prayer article are embodied in Ralegh's 
articles, leaves practically no doubt that Gorges's set 
was the earlier and the precedent upon which Ralegh's 
was based. 

An apparent difficulty in the date of Gorges's 
treatise need not detain us. It was dedicated on 
March 16, 1618-9, to Buckingham, the new lord 
high admiral, but it bears indication of having 
been written earlier, and in any case the date of the 

1 In all previous English instructions the prayer article had 
come towards the end. In the Spanish service it came first, and 
it was thence probably that Ralegh got his idea. 

D 



34 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

dedication is no guide to the date of the orders in 
the Appendix. 

The important question is, how much earlier 
than Ralegh's are these orders of Gorges's treatise ? 
Can we approximately fix their date ? Certainly 
not with any degree of precision, but neverthe- 
less we are not quite without light. To begin 
with there is the harsh punishment for not at- 
tending prayers, which is thoroughly characteristic 
of Tudor times. Then there is an article, which 
Ralegh omits, relating to the use of ' musket-arrows.' 
Gorges's article runs : ' If musket-arrows be used, to 
have great regard that they use not but half the ordi- 
nary charge of powder, otherwise more powder will 
make the arrow fly double.' Now these arrows we 
know to have been in high favour for their power of 
penetrating musket-proof defences about the time of 
the Armada. They were a purely English device, 
and were taken by Richard Hawkins upon his 
voyage to the South Sea in 1593. He highly 
commends them, but nevertheless they appear to 
have fallen out of fashion, and no trace of their use 
in Jacobean times has been found. 1 

A still more suggestive indication exists in the 
heading which is prefixed to Gorges's Appendix. It 
runs as follows : ' A form of orders and directions 
to be given by an admiral in conducting a fleet 
through the Narrow Seas for the better keeping 
together or relieving one another upon any occasion 
of distress or separation by weather or by giving 
chase. For the understanding whereof suppose 
that a fleet of his majesty's consisting of twenty or 
thirty sail were bound for serving on the west part 
of Ireland, as Kinsale haven for example.' The 

1 Laughton, Defeat of the Armada, i. 126; Account, &c. 
(Exchequer, Queen's Remembrancer}, Ixiv. 9, April 9, 1588 ; 
Hawkins's Observations (Hakl. Soc.), Ixvi. 



WILLIAM GORGES, 1578 35 

words ' his majesty ' show the Appendix was 
penned under James I ; but why did Gorges 
select this curious example for explaining his 
orders ? We can only remember that it was exactly 
upon such an occasion that he had served with his 
father in 1578. There is therefore at least a possi- 
bility that the orders in question may be a copy or 
an adaptation of some which Sir William Gorges 
had issued ten years before the Armada. Certainly 
no situation had arisen since Elizabeth's death 
to put such an idea into the writer's head, and the 
points of rendezvous mentioned in Gorges's first 
article are exactly those which Sir William would 
naturally have given. 

On evidence so inconclusive no certainty can be 
attained. All we can say is that Gorges's Appendix 
points to a possibility that Ralegh's remarkable 
twenty- ninth article may have been as old as the 
middle of Elizabeth's reign, and that the reason 
why it has not survived in the writings of any 
of the great Elizabethan admirals is either that 
the tactics it enjoins were regarded as a secret of 
the seamen's ' mystery ' or were too trite or com- 
monplace to need enunciation. At any rate in the 
face of the Gorges precedent it cannot be said, 
without reservation, that this rudimentary form of 
line ahead or attack in succession was invented by 
Ralegh, or that it was not known to the men who 
fought the Armada. 

Amongst other articles of special interest, as 
showing how firmly the English naval tradition was 
already fixed, should be noticed the twenty-fifth, re- 
lating to seamen gunners, the twenty-sixth, forbid- 
ding action at more than point-blank range, and 
above all the fifth and sixth, aimed at obliterating all 
distinction between soldiers and sailors aboard ship, 
and at securing that unity of service between the 



36 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

land and sea forces which has been the peculiar dis- 
tinction of the national instinct for war. 

As to the tactical principle upon which the 
Elizabethan form of attack was based, it must be 
noted that was to demoralise the enemy to drive 
him into ' utter confusion.' The point is important, 
for this conception of tactics held its place till it 
was ultimately supplanted by the idea of concen- 
trating on part of his fleet. 

SIR WALTER RALEGH, 1617. l 
[State Papers Domestic xcii. f. 9.] 

Orders to be observed by the commanders of the fleet 
and land companies under the charge and conduct 
of Sir Walter Ralegh, Knight, bound for the 
south parts of America or elsewhere. 

Given at Plymouth in Devon, the ^rd of May, 1617. 

First. Because no action nor enterprise can 
prosper, be it by sea or by land, without the favour 
and assistance of Almighty God, the Lord and 
strength of hosts and armies, you shall not fail to 
cause divine service to be read in your ship morn- 
ing and evening, in the morning before dinner, 
and in the evening before supper, or at least (if 
there be interruption by foul weather) once in the 
day, praising God every night with the singing of a 
psalm at the setting of the watch. 

2. You shall take especial care that God be not 
blasphemed in your ship, but that after admonition 
given, if the offenders do not reform themselves, you 
shall cause them of the meaner sort to be ducked at 
yard-arm ; and the better sort to be fined out of 

1 The articles marked with an asterisk do not appear in the 
Gorges set, and were presumably those which Ralegh added to 
suit the conditions of his expedition or which he borrowed from 
other precedents. 



SSR WALTER RALEGH, 1617 37 

their adventure. By which course if no amend- 
ment be found, you shall acquaint me withal, deliver- 
ing me the names of the offenders. For if it be 
threatened in the Scriptures that the curse shall not 
depart from the house of the swearer, much less 
shall it depart from the ship of the swearer. 

3. Thirdly, no man shall refuse to obey his 
officer in all that he is commanded for the benefit of 
the journey. No man being in health shall refuse 
to watch his turn as he shall be directed, the sailors 
by the master and boatswain, the landsmen by their 
captain, lieutenant, or other officers. 

4. You shall make in every ship two captains of 
the watch, who shall make choice of two soldiers 
every night to search between the decks that no fire 
or candlelight be carried about the ship after the 
watch be set, nor that any candle be burning in any 
cabin without a lantern ; and that neither, but 
whilst they are to make themselves unready. For 
there is no danger so inevitable as the ship firing, 
which may also as well happen by taking of tobacco 
between the decks, and therefore [it is] forbidden 
to all men but aloft the upper deck. 

5. You shall cause all your landsmen to learn 
the names and places of the ropes, that they may 
assist the sailors in their labour upon the decks, 
though they cannot go up to the tops and yards. 

*6. You shall train and instruct your sailors, so 
many as shall be found fit, as you do your lands- 
men, and register their names in the list of your 
companies, making no difference of professions, but 
that all be esteemed sailors and all soldiers, for 
your troops will be very weak when you come to 
land without the assistance of your seafaring men. 

7. You shall not give chase nor send abroad any 
ship but by order from the general, and if you come 
near any ship in your course, if she be belonging to 



38 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

any prince or state in league or amity with his 
majesty, you shall not take anything from them by 
force, upon pain to be punished as pirates ; although 
in manifest extremity you may (agreeing for the 
price) relieve yourselves with things necessary, 
giving bonds for the same. Provided that it be not 
to the disfurnishing of any such ship, whereby the 
owner or merchant be endangered for the ship or 
goods. 

*8. You shall every night fall astern the general's 
ship, and follow his light, receiving instructions in 
the morning what course to hold. And if you 
shall at any time be separated by foul weather, you 
shall receive billets sealed up, the first to be opened 
on this side the North Cape, 1 if there be cause, the 
second to be opened beyond the South Cape, 2 the 
third after you shall pass 23 degrees, and the fourth 
from the height of Cape Verd. 3 

9. If you discover any sail at sea, either to 
windward or to leeward of the admiral, or if any 
two or three of our fleet shall discover any such like 
sail which the admiral cannot discern, if she be a 
great ship and but one, you shall strike your main 
topsail and hoist it again so often as you judge the 
ship to be hundred tons of burthen ; or if you judge 
her to be 200 tons to strike and hoist twice ; if 
300 tons thrice, and answerable to your opinion of 
her greatness. 

*io. If you discover a small ship, you shall do 
the like with your fore topsail ; but if you discover 
many great ships you shall not only strike your 
main topsail often, but put out your ensign in the 
maintop. And if such fleet or ship go large before 
the wind, you shall also after your sign given go 
large and stand as any of the fleet doth : I mean 

1 Cape Finisterre. 2 Cape St. Vincent. 

3 MS. Cape Devert 



SIR WALTER RALEGH, 1617 39 

no longer than that you may judge that the admiral 
and the rest have seen your sign and you so 
standing. And if you went large at the time of the 
discovery you shall hale of your sheets for a little 
time, and then go large again that the rest may 
know that you go large to show us that the ship or 
fleet discovered keeps that course. 

*n. So shall you do if the ship or fleet dis- 
covered have her tacks aboard, namely, if you had 
also your tacks aboard at the time of the discovery, 
you shall bear up for a little time, and after hale 
your sheets again to show us what course the ship 
or fleet holds. 

*I2. If you discover any ship or fleet by night, 
if the ship or fleet be to windward of you, and you 
to windward of the admiral, you shall presently 
bear up to give us knowledge. But if you think 
that (did you not bear up) you might speak with 
her, then you shall keep your luff, 1 and shoot off a 
piece of ordnance to give us knowledge thereby. 

1 3. For a general rule : Let none presume to 
shoot off a piece of ordnance but in discovery of 
a ship or fleet by night, or by being in danger of 
an enemy, or in danger of fire, or in danger of 
sinking, that it may be unto us all a most certain 
intelligence of some matter of importance. 

*i4. And you shall make us know the differ- 
ence by this : if you give chase and being near a 
ship you shall shoot to make her strike, we shall all 
see and know that you shoot to that end if it be by 
day ; if by night, we shall then know that you have 
seen a ship or fleet none of our company ; and if you 
suspect we do not hear the first piece then you may 
shoot a second, but not otherwise, and you must 
take almost a quarter of an hour between your two 
pieces. 

1 MS. ' loofe. 1 



40 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

*i5- If you be in danger of a leak I mean in 
present danger you shall shoot off two pieces pre- 
sently one after another, and if in danger of fire, 
three pieces presently one after another ; but if 
there be time between we will know by your second 
piece that you doubt that we do not hear your first 
piece, and therefore you shoot a second, to wit by 
night, and give time between. 

1 6. There is no man that shall strike any officer 
be he captain, lieutenant, ensign, sergeant, corporal 
of the field, 1 quartermaster, &c. 

17. Nor the master of any ship, master's mate, 
or boatswain, or quartermaster. I say no man shall 
strike or offer violence to any of these but the 
supreme officer to the inferior, in time of service, 
upon pain of death. 

1 8. No private man shall strike another, upon 
pain of receiving such punishment as a martial 
court 2 shall think him worthy of. 

19. If any man steal any victuals, either by 
breaking into the hold or otherwise, he shall receive 
the punishment as of athief or murderer of his fellows. 

20. No man shall keep any feasting or drinking 
between meals, nor drink any healths upon your 
ship's provisions. 

21. Every captain by his purser, stewards, or 
other officers shall take a weekly account how his 
victuals waste. 

22. The steward shall not deliver any candle to 
any private man nor for any private use. 

23. Whosoever shall steal from his fellows either 
apparel or anything else shall be punished as a 
thief. 

1 Corporal of the field meant the equivalent of an A.D.C. 
or orderly. 

2 This appears to be the first known mention of a court- 
martial being provided for officially at sea. 



SSX WALTER RALEGH, 1617 41 

24. In foul weather every man shall fit his sails 
to keep company with the fleet, and not run so far 
ahead by day but that he may fall astern the admiral 
by night. 

25. In case we shall be set upon by sea, the cap- 
tain shall appoint sufficient company to assist the 
gunners ; after which, if the fight require it, in the 
cabins between the decks shall be taken down [and] 
all beds and sacks employed for bulwarks. 1 

*The musketeers of every ship shall be divided 
under captains or other officers, some for the fore- 
castle, others for the waist, and others for the poop, 
where they shall abide if they be not otherwise 
directed. 2 

26. The gunners shall not shoot any great 
ordnance at other distance than point blank. 

27. An officer or two shall be appointed to take 
care that no loose powder be carried between the 
decks, or near any linstock or match in hand. You 
shall saw divers hogsheads in two parts, and filling 
them with water set them aloft the decks. You shall 
divide your carpenters, some in hold if any shot 
come between wind and water, and the rest between 
the decks, with plates of leads, plugs, and all things 
necessary laid by them. You shall also lay by your 
tubs of water certain wet blankets to cast upon and 
choke any fire. 3 

28. The master and boatswain shall appoint a 
certain number of sailors to every sail, and to every 
such company a master's mate, a boatswain's mate 
or quartermaster ; so as when every man knows his 
charge and his place things may be done without 

1 This passage is corrupt in the MS. and is restored from 
Wimbledon's Article 32, post, p. 58. 

2 This was the Spanish practice. There is no known mention 
of it earlier in the English service. 

3 Gorges's article about ' Musket-arrows ' is here omitted by 
Ralegh. 



42 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

noise or confusion, and no man [is] to speak but the 
officers. As, for example, if the master or his mate 
bid heave out the main topsail, the master's mate, 
boatswain's mate or quartermaster which hath 
charge of that sail shall with his company perform 
it, without calling out to others and without rumour, 1 
and so for the foresail, fore topsail, spritsail and 
the rest ; the boatswain himself taking no parti- 
cular charge of any sail, but overlooking all and see- 
ing every man to do his duty. 

29. No man shall board his enemy's ship with- 
out order, because the loss of a ship to us is of more 
importance than the loss of ten ships to the enemy, 
as also by one man's boarding all our fleet may be 
engaged ; it being too great a dishonour to lose the 
least of our fleet. But every ship, if we be under 
the lee of an enemy, shall labour to recover the wind 
if the admiral endeavours it. But if we find an 
enemy to be leewards of us, the whole fleet shall 
follow the admiral, vice-admiral, or other leading 
ship within musket shot of the enemy ; giving so 
much liberty to the leading ship as after her broad- 
side delivered she may stay and trim her sails. Then 
is the second ship to tack as the first ship and give 
the other side, keeping the enemy under a perpetual 
shot. This you must do upon the windermost ship 
or ships of an enemy, which you shall either batter 
in pieces, or force him or them to bear up and so 
entangle them, and drive them foul one of another 
to their utter confusion. 2 

1 I.e. ' noisy confusion.' Shakspeare has ' I heard a bustling 
rumour like a fray.' 

2 The corresponding article in Gorges's set (Stowe MSS. 426) 
is as follows : 

' No man shall board any enemy's ship but by order from 
a principal commander, as the admiral, vice-admiral or rear- 
admiral, for that by one ship's boarding all the fleet may be en- 
gaged to their dishonour or loss. But every ship that is under 



WALTER RALEGH, 1617 43 

30. The musketeers, divided into quarters of the 
ship, shall not deliver their shot but at such distance 
as their commanders shall direct them. 

31. If the admiral give chase and be headmost 
man, the next ship shall take up his boat, if other 
order be not given. Or if any other ship be ap- 
pointed to give chase, the next ship (if the chasing 
ship have a boat at her stern) shall take it. 

32. If any make a ship to strike, he shall not 
enter her until the admiral come up. 

33. You shall take especial care for the keeping 
of your ships clean between the decks, [and] to have 
your ordnance ready in order, and not cloyed with 
chests and trunks. 

34. Let those that have provision of victual 
deliver it to the steward, and every man put his 
apparel in canvas cloak bags, except some few 
chests which do not pester the ship. 

35. Everyone that useth any weapon of fire, be 
it musket or other piece, shall keep it clean, and if 
he be not able to amend it being out of order, he 
shall presently acquaint his officer therewith, who 
shall command the armourer to mend it. 

36. No man shall play at cards or dice either 

the lee of an enemy shall labour to recover the wind if the 
admiral endeavour it. But if we find an enemy to leeward of 
us the whole fleet shall follow the admiral, vice-admiral or other 
leading ship within musket-shot of the enemy, giving so much 
liberty to the leading ship, as after her broadside is delivered she 
may stay and trim her sails. Then is the second ship to give her 
side and the third, fourth, and rest, which done they shall all tack 
as the first ship and give the other side, keeping the enemy under 
a perpetual volley. This you must do upon the windermost 
ship or ships of the enemy, which you shall either batter in 
pieces, or force him or them to bear up and so entangle them, and 
drive them foul one of another to their utter confusion.' For the 
evidence that this may have been drawn up and used as early as 
1578, and consequently in the Armada campaign, see Introductory 
Note, supra, pp. 34-5. 



44 ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN 

for his apparel or arms upon pain of being disarmed 
and made a swabber of the ship. 

*37- Whosoever shall show himself a coward 
upon any landing or otherwise, he shall be disarmed 
and made a labourer or carrier of victuals for the 
rest. 

*38. No man shall land any man in any foreign 
ports without order from the general, by the 
sergeant-major l or other officer, upon pain of death. 

*39. You shall take especial care when God shall 
send us to land in the Indies, not to eat of any fruit 
unknown, which fruit you do not find eaten with 
worms or beasts under the tree. 

*4O. You shall avoid sleeping on the ground, and 
eating of new fish until it be salted two or three 
hours, which will otherwise breed a most dangerous 
flux ; so will the eating of over-fat hogs or fat 
turtles. 

*4i. You shall take care that you swim not in 
any rivers but where you see the Indians swim, 
because most rivers are full of alligators. 

*42. You shall not take anything from any 
Indian by force, for if you do it we shall never from 
thenceforth be relieved by them, but you must use 
them with all courtesy. But for trading and ex- 
changing with them, it must be done by one or two 
of every ship for all the rest, and those to be directed 

1 ' Sergeant-major ' at this time was the equivalent to our 
'chief of the staff' or 'adjutant-general.' In the fleet orders 
issued by the Earl of Essex for the Azores expedition in 1597 
there was a similar article, which Ralegh was accused of violating 
by landing at Fayal without authority ; it ran as follows : ' No 
captain of any ship nor captain of any company if he be severed 
from the fleet shall land without direction from the general or 
some other principal commander upon pain of death,' &c. 
Ralegh met the charge by pleading he was himself a ' principal 
commander.' Purchas, iv. 1941. 



SIX WALTER RALEGH, 1617 45 

by the cape merchant 1 of the ship, otherwise all our 
commodities will become of vile price, greatly to our 
hindrance. 

*43- For other orders on the land we will 
establish them (when God shall send us thither) by 
general consent. In the meantime I shall value every 
man, honour the better sort, and reward the meaner 
according to their sobriety and taking care for the 
service of God and prosperity of our enterprise. 

*44. When the admiral shall hang out a flag in 
the main shrouds, you shall know it to be a flag of 
council. Then come aboard him. 

*45. And wheresoever we shall find cause to 
land, no man shall force any woman be she Christian 
or heathen, upon pain of death. 

1 This expression has not been found elsewhere. It may stand 
for ' chap merchant,' i.e. ' barter-merchant.' 






PART III 
CAROLINGIAN 

I. VISCOUNT WIMBLEDON, 1625 
II. THE EARL OF LINDSEY, 1635 



I 

THE ATTEMPT TO APPLY LAND 
FORMATIONS TO THE FLEET, 1625 

INTRODUCTORY 

FROM the point of view of command perhaps the 
most extraordinary naval expedition that ever left 
our shores was that of Sir Edward Cecil, Viscount 
Wimbledon, against Cadiz in 1625. Every flag 
officer both of the fleet and of the squadrons was a 
soldier. Cecil himself and the Earl of Essex, 
his vice-admiral, were Low Country colonels of 
no great experience in command even ashore, and 
Lord Denbigh, the rear-admiral, was a nobleman 
of next to none at all. Even Cecil's captain, who 
was in effect 'captain of the fleet,' was Sir Thomas 
Love, a sailor of whose service nothing is recorded, 
and the only seaman of tried capacity who held 
a staff appointment was Essex's captain, Sir Samuel 
Argall. It was probably due to this recrudescence 
of military influence in the navy that we owe the 
first attempt to establish a regular order of battle 
since the days of Henry VIII. 

These remarkable orders appear to have been 
an after-thought, for they were not proposed until 
a day or two after the fleet had sailed. The first 
orders issued were a set of general instructions, 
' for the better government of the fleet ' dated 
October 3, when the fleet was still at Plymouth. 



50 CAROLINGIAN 

They were, it will be seen, on the traditional lines. 
Those used by Ralegh are clearly the precedent 
upon which they were drawn, and in particular the 
article relating to engaging an enemy's fleet follows 
closely that recommended by Gorges, with such 
modifications as the squadronal organisation of a 
large fleet demanded. On October 9, the day the 
fleet got to sea, a second and more condensed set 
of ' Fighting Instructions ' was issued, which is 
remarkable for the modification it contains of the 
method of attack from windward. 1 For instead of 
an attack by squadrons it seems to contemplate 
the whole fleet going into action in succession after 
the leading ship, an order which has the appearance 
of another advance towards the perfected line. 

Two days later however the fleet was becalmed, 
and Cecil took the opportunity of calling a council to 
consider a wholly new set of ' Fighting Instructions ' 
which had been drafted by Sir Thomas Love. 
This step we are told was taken because Cecil con- 
sidered the original articles provided no adequate 
order of battle such as he had been accustomed to 
ashore. The fleet had already been divided into 
three squadrons, the Dutch contingent forming a 
fourth, but beyond this, we are told, nothing had 
been done 'about the form of a sea fight.' Under 
the new system it will be seen each of the English 
squadrons was to be further divided into three 
sub-squadrons of nine ships, and these apparently 
were to sail three deep, as in Drake's parade forma- 
tion of 1588, and were to 'discharge and fall off 
three and three as they were filed in the list,' or 
order of battle. That is, instead of the ships of 
each squadron attacking in succession as the previous 

1 ' Journal of the Vanguard ' (Essex's flagship), and Cecil to 
Essex, S. P. Dom. Car. /, xi. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 51 

orders had enjoined, they were to act in groups of 
three, with a reserve in support. The Dutch, it was 
expressly provided, were not to be bound by these 
orders, but were to be free ' to observe their own 
order and method of fighting.' What this was is 
not stated, but there can be no doubt that the 
reference is to the boarding tactics which the Dutch, 
in common with all continental navies, continued to 
prefer to the English method of first overpowering 
the enemy with the guns. This proviso, in view of 
the question as to what country it was that first per- 
fected a single line ahead, should be borne in mind. 
As appears from the minutes of the council of 
war, printed below, Love's revolutionary orders met 
with strong opposition. Still, so earnest was Cecil 
in pressing them, and so well conceived were many 
of the articles that they were not entirely rejected, 
but were recognised as a counsel of perfection, 
which, though not binding, was to be followed as 
near as might be. Their effect upon the officers, or 
some of them, was that they understood the ' order 
of fight ' to be as follows : ' The several admirals 
to be in square bodies ' (that is, each flag officer 
would command a division or sub-squadron formed 
in three ranks of three files), ' and to give their 
broadsides by threes and so fall off. The rear- 
admiral to stand for a general reserve, and not to 
engage himself without great cause.' 1 The con- 
fusion, however, must have been considerable and 
the difference of opinion great as to how far the 
new orders were binding ; for the ' Journal of the 
Vanguard ' merely notes that a council was called 
on the nth 'wherein some things were debated 
touching the well ordering of the fleet,' and with this 
somewhat contemptuous entry the subject is dis- 
missed. 

1 ' Journal of the Expedition,' 5. P. Dom. Car. /, x. 67. 

K 2 



52 CAROLINGIAN 

Still it must be said that on the whole these 
orders are a great advance over anything we know 
of in Elizabethan times, and particularly in the care- 
ful provisions for mutual support they point to a 
happy reversion to the ideas which De Chaves had 
formulated, and which the Elizabethans had too 
drastically abandoned. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625, No. i, Oct. 3. 
[State Papers Domestic, Car. I, ix.] 

A copy of those instructions which were sent unto the 
Earl of Essex and given by Sir Edward Cecil, 
Knight, admiral of the fleet, lieutenant-general 
and marshal of his majesty's land force now at 
sea, to be duly performed by all commanders, and 
their captains and masters, and other inferior 
officers, both by sea and land, for the better govern- 
ment of his majesty s fleet. Dated in the Sound of 
Plymouth, aboard his majesty s good ship the 
Anne Royal, the third of October, 1625. 

1. First above all things you shall provide that 
God be duly served twice every day by all the land 
and sea companies in your ship, according to the 
usual prayers and liturgy of the Church of England, 
and shall set and discharge every watch with the 
singing of a psalm and prayer usual at sea. 

2. You shall keep the company from swearing, 
blaspheming, drunkenness, dicing, carding, cheating, 
picking and stealing, and the like disorders. 

3. You shall take care to have all your company 
live orderly and peaceable, and shall charge your 
officers faithfully to perform their office and duty of 
his and their places. And if any seaman or soldier 
shall raise tumult, mutiny or conspiracy, or commit 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 53 

murder, quarrel, fight or draw weapon to that end, 
or be a sleeper at his watch, or make noise, or not 
betake himself to his place of rest after his watch 
is out, or shall not keep his cabin cleanly, or be dis- 
contented with the proportion of victuals assigned 
unto him, or shall spoil or waste them or any other 
necessary provisions in the ships, or shall not keep 
clean his arms, or shall go ashore without leave, or 
shall be found guilty of any other 'crime or offence, 
you shall use due severity in the punishment or 
reformation thereof according to the known orders 
of the sea. 

4. For any capital or heinous offence that shall 
be committed in your ship by the land or sea men, 
the land and sea commanders shall join together to 
take a due examination thereof in writing, and shall 
acquaint me therewith, to the end that I may pro- 
ceed in judgment according to the quality of the 
offence. 

5. No sea captain shall meddle with the punish- 
ing of any land soldiers, but shall leave them to their 
commanders ; neither shall the land commanders 
meddle with the punishing of the seamen. 

6. You shall with the master take a particular 
account of the stores of the boatswain and carpenters 
of the ship, examining their receipts, expenses and 
remains, not suffering any unnecessary waste to be 
made of their provisions, or any work to be done 
which shall not be needful for the service. 

7. You shall every week take the like account of 
the purser and steward of the quantity and quality of 
victuals that are spent, and provide for the preserva- 
tion thereof without any superfluous expense. And 
if any person be in that office suspected 1 for the 
wasting and consuming of victuals, you shall remove 
him and acquaint me thereof, and shall give me a 

1 MS. ' if any suspected persons be in that office,' &c. 







54 CAROLINGIAN 

particular account from time to time of the expense, 
goodness, quantity and quality of your victuals. 

8. You shall likewise take a particular account of 
the master gunner for the shot, powder, munition 
and all other manner of stores contained in his 
indenture, and shall not suffer any part thereof to be 
sold, embezzled or wasted, nor any piece of ordnance 
to be shot off without directions, keeping also an 
account of every several piece shot off in your ship, 
to the end I may know how the powder is spent. 

9. You shall suffer no boat to go from your ship 
without special leave and upon necessary causes, to 
fetch water or some other needful thing, and then 
you shall send some of your officers or men of trust, 
for whose good carriage and speedy return you will 
answer. 

10. You shall have a special care to prevent the 
dreadful accident of fire, and let no candles be used 
without lanterns, nor any at all in or about the 
powder room. Let no tobacco be taken between the 
decks, or in the cabins or in any part of the ship, 
but upon the forecastle or upper deck, where shall 
stand tubs of water for them to throw their ashes 
into and empty their pipes. 

11. Let no man give offence to his officer, or 
strike his equal or inferior on board, and let mutinous 
persons be punished in most severe manner. 

1 2. Let no man depart out of his ship in which 
he is first entered without leave of his commander, 
and let no captain give him entertainment after he 
is listed, upon pain of severity of the law in that 
case. 

13. If any fire should happen in your ship, not- 
withstanding your care (which God forbid !), then you 
shall shoot off two pieces of ordnance, one presently 
after the other, and if it be in the night you shall 
hang out four lanterns with lights upon the yards, 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 55 

that the next ships to you may speed to succour 
you. 

14. If the ship should happen to spend a mast, 
or spring a leak, which by increasing upon you may 
grow to present danger, then you shall shoot off two 
pieces of ordnance, the one a good while after the 
other, and hang out two lights on the main shrouds, 
the one a man's height over the other, so as they 
may be discernible. 

15. If the ship should happen to run on ground 
upon any danger (which God forbid !) then you shall 
shoot off four pieces of ordnance distinctly, one 
after the other ; if in the night, hang out as many 
lights as you can, to the end the fleet may take 
notice thereof. 

1 6. You shall favour your topmasts and the 
head of your mainmast by bearing indifferent sail, 
especially in foul weather and in a head sea and 
when your ship goeth by the wind ; lest, by the loss 
of a mast upon a needless adventure, the service is 
deprived of your help when there is greatest cause 
to use it. 

1 7. The whole fleet is to be divided into three 
squadrons : the admiral's squadron to wear red flags 
and red pennants on the main topmast-head ; the 
vice-admiral's squadron to wear blue flags and blue 
pennants on the fore topmast-heads ; the rear- 
admiral's squadron to wear white flags and white 
pennants on the mizen topmast-heads. 1 

1 8. The admirals and officers are to speak with 
me twice a day, morning and evening, to receive my 
directions and commands, which the rest of the ships 
are duly to perform. If I be ahead I will stay for 

1 This is the first known occasion of red, blue and white flags 
being used to distinguish squadrons, though the idea was 
apparently suggested in Elizabeth's time. See Navy Records 
Society, Miscellany, i. p. 30. 



5 6 CAROLINGIAN 

them, if to leeward I will bear up to them. If foul 
weather should happen, you are not to come too near 
me or any other ship to hazard any danger at all. 
And when I have hailed you, you are to fall astern, 
that the rest of the ships in like manner may come 
up to receive my commands. 

19. You shall make in every ship two captains 
of the watch, or more (if need be), who shall make 
choice of soldiers or seamen to them to search every 
watch in the night between the decks, that no fire 
or candle be carried about the ship after the watch is 
set, nor that no candle be burning in any cabin 
without a lantern, nor that neither but whilst they 
are making themselves ready, and to see the fire 
put out in the cook's room, for there is no danger so 
inevitable as the ship's firing. 

20. You shall cause the landmen to learn the 
names and places of the ropes that they may assist 
the sailors in their labours upon the decks, though 
they cannot go up to the tops and yards. 

21. You shall train and instruct such sailors and 
mariners as shall be found fit to the use of the 
musket, as you do your landmen, and register their 
names in a list by themselves, making no difference 
for matter of discipline between the sailors and 
soldiers aboard you. 

22. You shall not give chase nor send aboard 
any ship but by order from me, or my vice-admiral 
or rear-admiral ; and if you come near any ship in 
your course belonging to any prince or state you 
shall only make stay of her, and bring her to me or 
the next officer, without taking anything from them 
or their companies by force, but shall charge all 
your company from pillaging between decks or 
breaking up any hold, or embezzling any goods so 
seized and taken, upon pain of severity of the law in 
that case. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 57 

23. You shall fall astern of me and the admirals 
of your several squadrons unto the places assigned 
unto you, and follow their lights as aforesaid, re- 
ceiving such instructions from me or them in the 
morning what course to hold. And if you shall at 
any time be separated from the fleet by foul weather, 
chase or otherwise, you shall shape your course for 
the southward cape upon the coast of Spain in the 
latitude of 37, one of the places of rendezvous ; if 
you miss me there, then sail directly for the Bay of 
Gales or St. Lucar, which is the other place assigned 
for rendezvous. 

24. You must have a special care in times of 
calms and foggy weather to give such a berth one 
unto the other as to keep your ships clear, and not 
come foul one of another. Especially in fogs and 
mists you shall sound with drum or trumpet, or 
make a noise with your men, or shoot off muskets, 
to give warning to other ships to avoid the danger 
of boarding or coming foul one of another. 

25. If you or any other two or three of the 
fleet discover any sail at sea to the windward or 
leeward of the admiral, which the admiral cannot 
discern, if she be a great ship you shall signify the 
same by striking or hoisting of your main topsail 
so often as you conceive the ship to be hundred 
tons of burthen ; and if you discover a small ship 
you shall give the like signs by striking your fore 
topsail ; but if you discover many ships you shall 
strike your main topsail often and put out your en- 
sign in the maintop ; and if such ship or fleet go 
large before the wind, you shall after your sign 
given do the like, till you perceive that the admiral 
and the rest of the squadrons have seen your sign 
and your so standing ; and if you went large at 
the time of discovery of such ship or fleet, you shall 
for a little time hale aft your sheets and then go 



58 CAROLINGIAN 

large again, that the rest of the fleet and squadrons 
may know that you go large to show that the ship 
or fleet discovered keeps that course. 

26. If the ship or fleet discovered have their 
tacks aboard and stand upon a wind, then if you 
had your tack aboard at the time of the discovery 
you shall bear up for a little time, and after hale 
aft your sheets again to show us what course the 
ship or fleet holdeth, 

27. If you discover any ship or fleet by night, and 
they be [to] windward of you, the general or admirals, 
you shall presently bear up to give us knowledge if 
you can speak with her ; if not, you may keep your 
luff and shoot off a piece of ordnance by which 
we shall know you give chase, to the end that the 
rest may follow accordingly. 

28. For a general rule let no man presume to 
shoot off any pieces of ordnance but in discovery of 
ships or fleet by night, or being in danger of the 
enemy, or of fire, or of sinking, that it may be unto 
us a most certain intelligence of some matter of 
importance. 

29. If any man shall steal any victuals by break- 
ing into the hold or otherwise, he shall receive the 
punishment of a thief and murderer of his fellows. 

30. No man shall keep any feasting or drinking 
between meals, or drink any health upon the ship's 
provisions ; neither shall the steward deliver any 
candle to any private man or for any private use. 

31. In foul weather every man shall set his sail 
to keep company with the rest of the fleet, and not 
run too far ahead by day but that he may fall astern 
the admiral before night. 

32. In case the fleet or any part of us should be 
set upon, the sea-captain shall appoint sufficient com- 
pany to assist the gunners, after which (if the fight 
require it) the cabins between the decks shall be 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 59 

taken down, [and] all beds and sacks employed for 
bulwarks. The musketeers of every ship shall be 
divided under captains or other officers, some for 
the forecastle, some for the waist, and others for the 
poop, where they shall abide if they be not other- 
wise directed. 

33. An officer or two shall be appointed to take 
care that no loose powder be carried between [the 
decks] nor near any linstock or match in hand. You 
shall saw divers hogsheads in two parts, and, filling 
them with water, set them aloft the decks. You shall 
divide your carpenters, some in hold, if any shot 
come between wind and water, and the rest between 
the decks, with plates of lead, plugs and all things 
necessary laid by them. You shall also lay by your 
tubs of water certain wet blankets, to cast upon and 
cloak any fire. 

34. The master and boatswain shall appoint a 
convenient number of sailors to every sail, and to 
every such company a master's mate or a quarter- 
master, so as when every man knows his charge and 
his place, things may be done without noise or con- 
fusion ; and no man [is] to speak but the officers. 

35. No man shall board any enemy's ship, 
especially such as command the king's ships, with- 
out special order from me. The loss of one of our 
ships will be an encouragement to the enemy, and 
by that means our fleet may be engaged, it being a 
great dishonour to lose the least of our fleet. If we 
be under the lee of an enemy, every squadron and 
ship shall labour to recover the wind (if the admiral 
endeavour it). But if we find an enemy to leeward of 
us the whole fleet shall follow in their several places, 
the admirals with the head of the enemy, the vice- 
admirals with the body, and the rear-admirals with the 
sternmost ships of the chase, (or other leading ships 
which shall be appointed) within musket-shot of the 



6o CAROLINGIAN 

enemy, giving so much liberty to the leading ship 
as after her broadside l delivered she may stay and 
trim her sails ; then is the second ship to give her 
side, and the third and fourth, with the rest of that 
division ; which done they shall all tack as the first 
ship and give their other sides, keeping the enemy 
under perpetual volley. This you must do upon the 
windermost ship or ships of an enemy, which you 
shall either batter in pieces, or force him or them to 
bear up, and so entangle them or drive them foul one 
of another to their utter confusion. 

36. Your musketeers, divided into quarters of 
the ship, shall not discharge their shot but at such a 
distance as their commanders shall direct them. 

37. If the admiral or admirals give chase, and be 
the headmost man, the next ship shall take up his 
boat if other order be not given, or if any other ship 
be appointed to give chase, the next ship (if the 2 
chasing ship have 3 a boat at her stern) shall take it. 

38. Whosoever shall show himself a coward upon 
any landing or otherwise, he shall be disarmed and 
made a labourer or carrier of victuals for the army. 

39. No man shall land anywhere in any foreign 
parts without order from me, or by the sergeant- 
major or other officer upon pain of death. 

40. Wheresoever we shall land no man shall 
force any woman upon pain of death. 

41. You shall avoid sleeping upon the ground 
and the drinking of new wines, and eating new 
fruits, and fresh fish until it has been salted three 
hours, and also forbear sleeping upon the deck in 
the night time, for fear of the serene 4 that falls, all 
which will breed dangerous fluxes and diseases. 

42. When the admiral shall hang out the arms 

1 MS. has ' to the leading ships as after their broadside,' &c. 

2 MS, 'a.' 3 MS. 'with.' 
4 Spanish 'serene,' the cold evening air. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 6 i 

of England in the mizen shrouds, then shall the 
council of war come aboard ; and when that shall be 
taken in and the St. George hung in the main 
shrouds, that is for a general council. 1 

For any orders upon the land (if God send us 
thither) we shall establish them. For matter of 
sailing or discipline at sea if there be cause you 
shall receive other directions, to which I refer you. 

Likewise it is ordered between the seamen and the 
landmen that after the captain of the ship is cabined, 
he shall if possible lodge the captain of the foot 
in the same cabin, after the master of the ship is 
cabined the lieutenant, and after the master's mates 
the ensign. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625, No. 2, 
October n. 

[State Papers Domestic, Charles I, xi.] 

Instructions when we come to fight with an enemy, 
sent by the Lieutenant-General unto the Earl of 
Essex. 

1. That you shall see the admiral make way to 
the admiral enemy, so likewise the vice-admiral and 
the rear-admiral, and then every ship [is] to set upon 
the next according to his order, yet to have such a 
care that those that come after may be ready to 
second one another after the manner here following. 

2. If we happen to be encountered by an enemy 

1 The ' council of war ' was composed of the flag officers and 
the colonels of regiments . Sir Thos. Love was also a member of 
it, but probably as treasurer of the expedition and not as flag 
captain. The ' general council ' included besides all captains of 
ships and the masters. 



62 CAROLING/AN 

at sea, you shall then appoint a sufficient company 
to assist the gunners. You shall pull down all the 
cabins betwixt the decks and use the beds and sacks 
for bulwarks, and shall appoint your muskets to 
several officers, some to make good the forecastle, 
some the waist, and others abaft the mast, from 
whence they shall not stir till they be otherwise 
directed, neither shall they or the gunners shoot a 
shot till they be commanded by the captain. 

3. You shall appoint a certain number of 
mariners to stand by sails and maintops, that every 
of them knowing his place and duty there be no 
confusion or disorder in the command ; and shall 
divide carpenters some in hold, some betwixt the 
decks, with plates of lead, plugs and other things 
necessary for stopping up breaches made with great 
shot ; and saw divers hogsheads in halves and set 
them upon the deck full of water, with wet blankets 
by them to cloak and quench any fire that shall 
happen in the fight. 

4. No man shall board any enemy's ships without 
special order, but every ship if we be to leeward 
shall labour to recover the wind. If we be to wind- 
ward of them, then shall the whole fleet, or so many 
of them as shall be appointed, follow the leading 
ship within musket-shot of the enemy, and give 
them first the chase pieces, then the broadside, 
afterwards a volley of small shot ; and when the 
headmost ship hath done, the next ship shall 
observe the same course, and so every ship in order, 
that the headmost may be ready to renew the fight 
against such time as the sternmost hath made an 
end ; by that means keeping the weather of the 
enemy and in continual fight till they be sunk in the 
sea, or forced by bearing up to entangle themselves, 
and to come [foul] one of another to their utter con- 
fusion. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 63 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625, No. 3. 
[The Earl of St. Germans's MS. Extract. 1 ] 

At a Council of War holden aboard the Anne 
Royal, Tuesday, tke \\th of October, 1625. 

The council, being assembled, entered into con- 
sultation touching the form of a sea-fight performed 
against any fleet or ships of the King of Spain or 
other enemy, and touching some directions to be 
observed for better preparation to be made for such 
a fight and the better managing thereof when we 
should come to action. 

The particulars for this purpose considerable 
were many ; insomuch that no pertinent consultation 
could well be had concerning the same without some 
principles in writing, whereby to direct and bound 
the discourse. And therefore, by the special com- 
mand of my lord lieutenant-general, a form of 
articles for this service (drawn originally by Sir 
Thomas Love, Kt. , treasurer for this action, captain 
of the Anne Royal and one of the council of war) 
was presented to the assembly, and several times 
read over to them. 

After the reading, all the parts thereof were well 
weighed and examined, whereby it was observed 
that it intended to enjoin our fleet to advance and 
fight at sea, much after the manner of an army at 
land, assigning every ship to a particular division, 
rank, file, and station ; which order and regularity 

1 A Relation Touching the Fleet and Army of the Kings 
most excellent majesty King Charles, set forth in the first year of 
his highnesses reign, and touching the order, proceedings, and 
actions of the same fleet and army, by Sir John Glanville, the 
younger, serjeant-at-law, and secretary to the council of war. 
[Printed for the Camden Society, 1883, N.S. vol. xxxii.] 



64 CAROLINGIAN 

was not only improbable but almost impossible to 
be observed by so great a fleet in so uncertain a 
place as the sea. Hereupon some little doubt arose 
whether or no this form of articles should be 
confirmed ; but then it was alleged that the same 
articles had in them many other points of direc- 
tion, preparation, and caution for a sea-fight, which 
were agreed by all men to be most reasonable 
and necessary. And if so strict a form of pro- 
ceeding to fight were not or could not be punctually 
observed, yet might these articles beget in our 
commanders and officers a right understanding of 
the conception and intent thereof; which with an 
endeavour to come as near as could be to perform, 
the particulars might be of great use to keep us 
from confusion in the general. Neither could the 
limiting of every several ship to such a rank or file 
[and] to such certain place in the same, bring upon 
the fleet intricacy and difficulty of proceeding, so [long] 
as (if the proper ships were absent or not ready) 
those in the next place were left at liberty, or rather 
commanded, to supply their rooms and maintain the 
instructions, if not absolutely, yet as near as they 
could. In conclusion therefore the form of articles 
which was so presented, read, and considered of, 
was with some few alterations and additions ratified 
by my lord lieutenant-general and by the whole 
council as act of theirs passed and confirmed, and 
to be duly observed and put in execution by all 
captains, mariners, gunners, and officers in every 
ship, and all others to whom it might appertain, at 
their perils, leaving only to my lord lieutenant the 
naming and ranking of the ships of every division in 
order as they should proceed for the execution of 
the same articles ; which in conclusion were these, 
touching the whole fleet in general and the admiral's 
squadron in particular, namely : 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 65 

i. That when the fleet or ships of the enemy 
should be discovered the admiral of our fleet with 
the ships of his squadron should put themselves 
into the form undermentioned and described, namely, 
that the same squadron should be separated into 
three divisions of nine ships in a division, and so 
should advance, set forward, and charge upon the 
enemy as hereafter more particularly is directed. 

That these nine ships should discharge and fall 
off three and three, as they are filed in this list. 

Anne Royal . . . Admiral 
Prudence . . . Captain Vaughan 
Royal Defence . . Captain Ellis. 

Barbara Constance . Captain Hatch 
Talbot .... Captain Burdon 
Abraham . . . Captain Downes. 

Golden Cock . . . Captain Beaumont 
Amity .... Captain Malyn 
Anthony . . . Captain Blague. 

That these nine ships should second the admiral 
of this squadron three and three, as they are filed in 
this list. 

St. George . . . Vice-admiral 
Lesser Sapphire . . Captain Bond 
Sea Venture . . . Captain KneveL 
Assurance . . . Captain Osborne 
Camelion . . . Captain Seymour 
Return . . . Captain Bonithon. 

Jonathan . . . Captain Butler l 
William .... Captain White 
Hopewell . . . Captain 

1 Elsewhere in the MS. spelt ' Boteler.' Probably Nathaniel 
Boteler, author of the Dialogues about Sea Services. 

F 



66 



CAROLINGIAN 



That these nine ships should second the vice- 
admiral of this squadron three and three, as they are 
filed in this list. 



Convertine 

Globe 

Assurance of Dover 

Great Sapphire 

Anne 

Jacob 

George . 
Hermit . 
Mary Magdalen 



Rear-admiral 
Captain Stokes 
Captain Bargey. 

Captain Raymond 
Captain Wollaston 
Captain Gosse. 

Captain Stevens 
Captain Turner 
Captain Cooper. 



These three ships should fall into the rear of 
the three former divisions, to charge where and when 
there should be occasion, or to help the engaged, or 
supply the place of any that should be unservice- 
able. 



Hellen . 
Amity of Hull 
Anne Speedwell 



Captain Mason 
Captain Frisby 
Captain Polkenhorne. 



2. That the admiral of the Dutch and his 
squadron should take place on the starboard side of 
our admiral, and observe their own order and 
method in fighting. 

3. That the vice-admiral of our fleet and his 
squadron should make the like division, and observe 
the same order and form as the admiral's squadron 
was to observe, and so should keep themselves in 
their several divisions on the larboard side of the 
admiral, and there advance and charge if occasion 
were when the admiral did. 

4. That the rear-admiral of the fleet and his 
squadron should also put themselves into the like 
order of the admiral's squadron as near as it might 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 67 

be, and in that form should attend for a reserve or 
supply. And if any squadron, ship or ships of ours 
should happen to be engaged by over-charge of 
the enemies, loss of masts or yards, or other main 
distress needing special succour, that then the rear- 
admiral with all his force, or one of his divisions 
proportionable to the occasion, should come to their 
rescue ; which being accomplished they should 
return to their first order and place assigned. 

5. That the distance between ship and ship in 
every squadron should be such as none might 
hinder one another in advancing or falling off. 

6. That the distance between squadron and 
squadron should be more or less as the order of the 
enemy's fleet or ships should require, whereof the 
captains and commanders of our fleet were to be 
very considerate. 

7. That if the enemy's approach happened to be 
in such sort as the admiral of the Dutch and his 
squadron, or the vice-admiral of our fleet [and] his 
squadron, might have opportunity to begin the fight, 
it should be lawful for them to do so until the 
admiral could come up, using the form, method, and 
care prescribed. 

8. That if the enemy should be forced to bear 
up, or to be entangled among themselves, whereby 
an advantage might be had, then our rear-admiral 
and his squadron with all his divisions should lay 
hold thereof and prosecute it to effect. 

9. That the rear-admiral's squadron should keep 
most strict and special watch to see what squadrons 
or ships distressed of our fleet should need extra- 
ordinary relief, and what advantage might be had 
upon the enemy, that a speedy and present course 
might be taken to perform the service enjoined. 

10. That if any ship or ships of the enemy 
should break out or fly, the admiral of any squadron 

F 2 



68 CAROLINGIAN 

which should happen to be in the next and most 
convenient place for that purpose should send 
out a competent number of the fittest ships of his 
squadron to chase, assault, or take such ship or 
ships so breaking out ; but no ship should undertake 
such a chase without the command of the admiral, or 
at leastwise the admiral of his squadron. 

1 1. That no man should shoot any small or great 
shot at the enemy till he came at the distance of 
caliver or pistol shot, whereby no shot might be 
made fruitless or in vain ; whereof the captains and 
officers in every ship should have an especial care. 

12. That no man should presume or attempt to 
board any ship of the enemy without special order 
and direction from the admiral, or at leastwise the 
admiral of his squadron. 

1 3. That if any of our fleet happened to be [to] 
leeward of the enemy, every of our ships should 
labour and endeavour what they might to take all 
opportunity to get to windward of them, and to hold 
that advantage having once obtained it. 

14. That the captains and officers of every ship 
should have an especial care as much as in them 
lay to keep the enemies in continual fight without 
any respite or intermission to be offered them ; 
which, with the advantage of the wind if it might be 
had, was thought the likeliest way to enforce them 
to bear up and entangle themselves, or fall foul 
one of another in disorder and confusion. 

1 5. That an especial care should be had in every 
ship that the gunners should load some of their 
pieces with case shot, handspikes, nails, bars of iron, 
or with what else might do most mischief to the 
enemy's men, upon every fit opportunity, and to 
come near and lay the ordnance well to pass for 
that purpose, which would be apt to do great spoil 
to the enemy. 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 69 

1 6. That the cabins in every ship should be 
broken down so far as was requisite to clear the 
way of the ordnance. 

1 7. That all beds and sacks in every ship should 
be disposed and used as bulwarks for defence against 
the shot of the enemy. 

1 8. That there should be ten, eight, six, or four 
men to attend every piece of ordnance as the 
master gunner should choose out and assign them 
to their several places of service, that every one 
of them might know what belonged properly to him 
to do. And that this choice and assignation should 
be made with speed so as we might not be taken 
unprovided. 

1 9. That there should be one, two, or three men 
of good understanding and diligence, according to 
the burden of every ship, forthwith appointed to fill 
cartouches l of powder, and to carry them in cases or 
barrels covered to their places assigned. 

20. That the hold in every ship should be 
rummaged and made predy, 2 especially by the 
ship's sides, and a carpenter with some man of 
trust appointed to go fore and after in hold to seek 
for shot that may come in under water ; and that 
there should be provided in readiness plugs, pieces 
of sheet lead, and pieces of elm board to stop all 
leaks that might be found within board or without 

21. That in every ship where any soldiers were 
aboard the men should be divided into two or three 
parts, whereof only one part should fight at once and 
the rest should be in hold, to be drawn up upon 
occasion to relieve and rescue the former. 

22. That the men in every ship should be kept 
1 MS. ' carthouses.' 

MS. ' pridie '= Boteler's ' predy.' ' To make the ship predy,' 
he says, is to clear for action. ' And likewise to make the hold 
predy is to bestow everything handsomely there and to remove 
anything that may be troublesome.' Dialogues, 283. 



70 CAROL1NGIAN 

as close as reasonably might be till the enemy's 
first volley of small shot should be past. 

23. That the mariners in every ship should be 
divided and separated into three or four parts or 
divisions, so as every one might know the place 
where he was to perform his duty for the avoiding 
of confusion. 

24. That the master or boatswain of every ship, 
by command of the captain, should appoint a suffi- 
cient and select number of seamen to stand by and 
attend the sails. 

25. That more especially they should by like 
command appoint sufficient helmsmen to steer the 
ship. 

26. That the sailors and helmsmen should in no 
sort presume to depart or stir from their charge. 

27. That the mainyard, foreyard, and topsail 
sheets in every ship should be slung, and the top- 
sail yards if the wind were not too high ; hereby to 
avoid the shooting down of sails. 

28. That there should be butts or hogsheads 
sawn into two parts filled with salt water, set upon 
the upper and lower decks in several places con- 
venient in every ship, with buckets, gowns, and 
blankets to quench and put out wild-fire or other 
fire if need be. 

29. That if a fight began by day and continued 
till night, every ship should be careful to observe 
the admiral of her squadron ; that if the admiral fell 
off" and forbore the fight for the present every other 
ship might do the like, repairing under her own 
squadron to amend anything amiss, and be ready to 
charge again when the admiral should begin. 

30. That if any of the ships belonging to any 
squadron or division happened to be absent or not 
ready in convenient time and place to keep and make 
good the order herein prescribed, then every squad- 



LORD WIMBLEDON, 1625 



ron and division should maintain these directions as 
near as they could, although the number of ships in 
every division were the less, without attending the 
coming in of all the ships of every division. 

31. And that these ten ships, in regard of the 
munition and materials for the army and the horses 
which were carried in them, should attend the rear- 
admiral and not engage themselves without order, 
but should remain and expect such directions as 
might come from our admiral or rear-admiral. 



Peter Bonaventure . 

Sarah Bonaventure. 

Christian 

Susan and Ellen 

William of London . 

Hope 

Chestnut 

Fortune 

Fox 

Truelove 



Captain Johnson 
Captain Carew 
Captain Wharey 
Captain Levett 
Captain Amadas 
Sir Thomas Pigott, 
[Km. 



There was no difference between the articles for 
the admiral's squadron and those for the vice-admiral's 
and rear-admiral's, save in the names of the ships 
of every division, and that their squadrons had not 
any particular reserve, nor above five or six ships 
apiece in the third division, for want of ships to make 
up the number of nine ; the munition and horse 
ships which belonged to their squadrons being unapt 
to fight, and therefore disposed into a special division 
of ten ships by themselves to attend the general 



reserve. 



At the rising of the council a motion was made 
to have some of the best sailers of our fleet chosen 
out and assigned to lie off from the main body of the 
fleet, some to sea and some to shoreward, the better 



72 CAROLINGIAN 

to discover, chase, and take some ships or boats of 
the enemy's ; which might give us intelligence 
touching the Plate Fleet, whether it were come home 
or no, or when it would be expected and in what 
place, and touching such other matters whereof we 
might make our best advantage. But nothing 
herein was now resolved, it being conceived, as 
it seemed, that we might soon enough and more 
opportunely consider of this proposition and settle 
an order therein when we came nearer to the 
enemy's coasts ; so the council was dissolved. 



II 

THE SHIP-MONEY FLEETS, 
circa 1635 

INTRODUCTORY 

THAT Cecil's unconfirmed orders produced some 
impression beyond the circle of the military flag- 
officers is clear. Captain Nathaniel Boteler, in the 
work already cited, 1 quotes the system they enjoined 
as the one he would himself adopt if he were to 
command a large fleet in action. In his sixth 
dialogue on the ' Ordering of Fleets,' after recom- 
mending the division of all fleets of eighty sail 
and upwards into five squadrons, an organisation that 
was subsequently adopted by the Dutch, he pro- 
ceeds to explain his system of signals, and the 
advantages of scout vessels being attached to every 
squadron, especially, he says, the ' van and wings,' 
which looks as though the ideas of De Chaves were 
still alive. Boteler's work is cast in the form of a 
conversation between a landsman admiral and an 
experienced sea captain, who is supposed to be in- 
structing him. In reply to the admiral's query about 
battle formations, the captain says that 'neither 
the whole present age [i.e. century] with the half of 
the last have afforded any one thorough example of 
this kind.' In the few actions between sailing fleets 
that had taken place in the previous seventy-five 

1 Ante, p. 27. 



74 CAROLINGIAN 

years he says ' we find little or nothing as touching 
the form of these fights.' Being pressed for his own 
ideas on the subject, he consents to give them as 
follows : ' I say, then, that wheresoever a fleet is 
either to give or take a battle with another every 
way equal with it, every squadron of such fleet, 
whether they be three in number as generally they 
are, or five (as we prescribed in the beginning of 
the dialogue) shall do well to order and subdivide 
itself into three equal divisions, with a reserve of 
certain ships out of every squadron to bring up 
their rears, the which may amount in number to the 
third part of every one of those divisions. And 
every one of these (observing a due berth and 
distance) are in the fight to second one another, and 
(the better to avoid confusion, and the falling foul 
one upon another) to charge, discharge and fall off 
by threes or fives, more or less, as the fleet in gross 
is greater or smaller ; the ships of reserve being 
to be instructed either to succour and relieve any 
that shall be anyway engaged and in danger, or to 
supply and put themselves in the place of those that 
shall be made unserviceable ; and this order and 
course to be constantly kept and observed during 
the whole time. of the battle.' 

Asked if there are no other forms he says : ' Some 
forms besides, and different from this (I know well), 
have been found prescribed and practised ; as for a 
fleet which consisteth but of a few ships and being in 
fight in an open sea, that it should be brought up to 
the battle in one only front, with the chief admiral in 
the midst of them, and on each side of him the 
strongest and best provided ships of the fleet, who, 
keeping themselves in as convenient a distance as 
they shall be able, are to have a eye and regard in 
the fight to all the weaker and worser ships of the 
party, and to relieve and succour them upon all 



BOTELER 'S TREATISE, 1625 75 

occasions, and withal being near the admiral may 
both guard him and aptly receive his instructions. 
And for a numerous fleet they propound that it 
should be ordered also (when there is sea-room 
sufficient) into one only front, but that the ablest 
arid most warlike ships should be so stationed 
as that the agility of the smaller ships and the 
strength of the other may be communicated l to a 
mutual relief, and for the better serving in all 
occasions either of chase or charge ; to which end 
they order that all the files of the front that are to 
the windwards should be made up of the strongest 
and best ships, that so they may the surer and 
speedier relieve all such of the weaker ships, being to 
leewards of them, as shall be endangered or any 
way oppressed by any of the enemy.' All this is a 
clear echo of De Chaves and the system which still 
obtained in all continental navies. For a large fleet 
at least Boteler evidently disapproved all tactics 
based on the line abreast, and preferred a system of 
small groups attacking in line ahead, on Cecil's pro- 
posed system. Asked about the campaign of 1588, 
he has nothing to tell of any English formation. Of 
the crescent order of the Armada he says and 
modern research has fully confirmed his statement 
that it was not a battle order at all, but only 
a defensive sailing formation 'to keep them- 
selves together and in company until they might 
get up to be athwart Gravelines, which was the 
rendezvous for their meeting with the Prince of 
Parma; and in this regard this their order was 
commendable.' 

How far these ideas really represented current 
naval opinion we 'cannot precisely tell, but we know 
that Boteler was an officer held in high enough esteem 

1 The obsolete meaning of 'communicate' is to 'share' or 
' participate,' to ' enjoy in common.' 



;6 CAROLINGIAN 

to receive the command of the landing flotilla at Cadiz, 
and to be described as ' an able and experienced 
sea captain.' But whatever tendency there may 
have been to tactical progress under Buckingham's 
inspiring personality, it must have been smothered 
by the lamentable conduct of his war. Later on in 
the reign, in the period of the ' Ship-money ' fleets, 
when Charles was endeavouring to establish a real 
standing navy on modern lines, we find in the Earl 
of Lindsey's orders of 1635, which Monson selected 
for publication in his Tracts, no sign of anything 
but tactical stagnation. The early Tudor tradition 
seems to have completely re-established itself, and 
Monson, who represents that tradition better than 
anyone, though he approved the threefold sub- 
division of squadrons, thought all battle formations 
for sailing ships a mistake. Writing not long after 
Boteler, he says : ' Ships which must be carried by 
wind and sails, and the sea affording no firm or stead- 
fast footing, cannot be commanded to take their ranks 
like soldiers in a battle by land. The weather at 
sea is never certain, the winds variable, ships 
unequal in sailing ; and when they strictly keep 
their order, commonly they fall foul one of another, 
and in such cases they are more careful to observe 
their directions than to offend the enemy, whereby 
they will be brought into disorder amongst them- 
selves.' 

Of Lindsey's orders only Article 1 8 is given here 
out of the thirty-four which Monson prints in full. It 
is the only one relating to tactics. The rest, which 
follow the old pattern, are the usual medley of articles 
of war, sailing instructions, and general directions 
for the conduct of the fleet at sea. We cannot 
therefore safely assume that Article 18 fairly re- 
presents the tactical thought of the time. It may 
be that Lindsey's orders were merely in the nature 



EARL OF LINDSEY, 1635 77 

of 'General Instructions,' to be supplemented by 
more particular ' Fighting Instructions,' as was the 
practice later. 



THE EARL OF LINDSEY, 1635. 

Suck instructions as were given in the Voyage in 
1635 by the Right Honourable Robert, Earl of 
Lino's ey. 1 

| Monson's Naval Tracts, Book III. Extract.] 

Art. 1 8. If we happen to descry any fleet at 
sea which we may probably know or conjecture 
designs to oppose, encounter or affront us, I will 
first strive to get the wind (if I be to leeward), and 
so shall the whole fleet in due order do the like. And 
when we shall join battle no ship shall presume to 
assault the admiral, vice-admiral or rear-admiral, 
but only myself, my vice-admiral or rear-admiral, 
if we be able to reach them ; and the other ships 
are to match themselves accordingly as they can, 
and to secure one another as cause shall require, 
not wasting their powder at small vessels or vic- 
tuallers, nor firing till they come side to side. 

1 This was a fleet of forty sail, designed, under colour of 
securing the sovereignty of the Seas and protecting commerce 
against pirates, to assist Spain as far as possible against the French 
and Dutch. It never fought. 



PART IV 
THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 



I. ENGLISH AND DUTCH ORDERS ON THE 
EVE OF THE WAR, 1648-52 

II. ORDERS ISSUED DURING THE WAR, 1653-54 



I 

ENGLISH AND DUTCH ORDERS ON 
THE EVE OF THE WAR, 1648-53 

INTRODUCTORY 

FROM the foregoing examples it will be seen that at 
the advent of the Commonwealth, which was to set 
on foot so sweeping a revolution in the naval art, all 
attempts to formulate a tactical system had been 
abandoned. This is confirmed by the following 
extract from the orders issued by the Long Parlia- 
ment in 1648. It was the time when the revolt of 
a part of the fleet and a rising in the South East- 
ern counties led the government to apprehend a 
naval coalition of certain foreign powers in favour 
of Charles. It is printed by Granville Penn in his 
Memorials of Sir William Penn as having been 
issued in 1647, but the original copy of the orders 
amongst the Penn Tracts (Sloane MSS. 1709, f. 55) 
is marked as having been delivered on May 2, 
1648, to 'Captain William Penn, captain of the 
Assurance frigate and rear-admiral of the Irish 
Squadron.' They are clearly based on the later 
precedents of Charles I, but it must be noted that 
Penn is told ' to expect more particular instructions ' 
in regard to the fighting article. We may assume 
therefore that the admiralty authorities already re- 
cognised the inadequacy of the established fighting 



82 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

instructions, and so soon as the pressure of that 
critical time permitted intended to amplify them. 

Amongst those responsible for the orders how- 
ever there is no name that can be credited with 
advanced views. They were signed by five 
members of the Navy Committee, and at their head 
is Colonel Edward Mountagu, afterwards Earl of 
Sandwich, but then only twenty-two years old. 1 
Whether anything further was done is uncertain. 
No supplementary orders have been found bear- 
ing date previous to the outbreak of the Dutch 
war. But there exists an undated set which 
it seems impossible not to attribute to this period. 
It exists in the Harleian MSS. (1247, ff. 43b), 
amongst a number of others which appear to have 
been used by the Duke of York as precedents in 
drawing up his famous instructions of 1665. To 
begin with it is clearly later than the orders of 1648, 
upon which it is an obvious advance. Then the use 
of the word ' general ' for admiral, and of the word 
' sign ' for ' signal ' fixes it to the Commonwealth or 
very early Restoration. Finally, internal evidence 
shows it is previous to the orders of 1653, for those 
orders will be seen to be an expansion of the 
undated set so far as they go, and further, while these 
undated orders have no mention of the line, those of 
1653 enjoin it. They must therefore lie between 
1648 and 1653, and it seems worth while to give 
them here conjecturally as being possibly the 
supplementary, or ' more particular instructions,' 
which the government contemplated ; particularly 

1 The others were John Rolle, member for Truro, a merchant 
and politician, who died in November 1648, and who as early as 
1645 had been proposed, though unsuccessfully, for the Navy 
Committee ; and three less conspicuous members of Parliament : 
Sir Walter Earle (of the Presbyterian party), Giles Greene, and 
Alexander Bence. They were all superseded the following year 
by the new Admiralty Committee of the Council of State. 



ORIGIN OF LINE AHEAD 83 

as this hypothesis gains colour from the unusual 
form of the heading ' Instructions for the better 
ordering.' Though this form became fixed from 
this time forward, there is, so far as is known, no 
previous example of it except in the orders which 
Lord Wimbledon propounded to his council of 
war in 1625, and those were also supplementary 
articles. 1 

Be this as it may, the orders in question do not 
affect the position that up to the outbreak of the 
First Dutch War we have no orders enjoining the 
line ahead as a battle formation. Still we cannot 
entirely ignore the fact that, in spite of the lack 
of orders on the subject, traces of a line ahead 
are to be detected in the earliest action of the 
war. Gibson, for instance, in his Reminiscences 
has the following passage relating to Blake's brush 
with Tromp over the honour of the flag on May 9, 
1652, before the outbreak of the war :~ ' When the 
general had got half Channel over he could see the 
Dutch fleet with their starboard tacks aboard stand- 
ing towards him, having the weather-gage. Upon 
which the general made a sign for the fleet to tack. 
After which, having their starboard tacks aboard 
(the general's ship, the Old James, being the 
southernmost and sternmost ship in the fleet), the 
rest of his fleet tacking, first placed themselves in a 
line ahead of the general, who after tacking hauled 
up his mainsail in the brails, fitted his ship to fight, 
slung his yards, and run out his lower tier of guns and 
clapt his fore topsail upon the mast.' If Gibson could 
be implicitly trusted this passage would be conclusive 

1 Supra, p. 63. It may also be noted that these articles are 
intended for a fleet not large enough to be divided into squadrons 
just such a fleet in fact as that in which Penn was flying his flag. 
The units contemplated, e.g. in Articles 2-4, are ' ships,' whereas in 
the corresponding articles of 1653 the units are 'squadrons.' 

- Gardiner, Dutch War, i. 9. 

C 2 



84 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

on the existence of the line formation earlier than any 
of the known Fighting Instructions which enjoined it ; 
but unfortunately, as Dr. Gardiner pointed out, Gibson 
did not write his account till 1702, when he was 67. 
He is however to some extent corroborated by Blake 
himself, who in his official despatch of May 20, 
relating the incident, says that on seeing Tromp 
bearing down on him ' we lay by and put ourselves 
into a fighting posture ' i.e. battle order but what 
the ' posture ' was he does not say. If however this 
posture was actually the one Gibson describes, we 
have the important fact that in the first recorded 
instance of the complete line, it was taken as a 
defensive formation to await an attack from wind- 
ward. 

The only other description we have of Eng- 
lish tactics at this time occurs in a despatch of the 
Dutch commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, 
Van Galen, in which he describes how Captain 
Richard Badiley, then commanding a squadron on 
the station, engaged him with an inferior force and 
covered his convoy off Monte Christo in August 
1652. When the fleets were in contact, he says, as 
though he were speaking of something that was 
quite unfamiliar to him, ' then every captain bore up 
from leeward close to us to get into range, and so all 
gave their broadsides first of the one side and then 
again of the other, and then bore away with their 
ships before the wind till they were ready again ; and 
then as before with the guns of the whole broadside 
they fired into my flagship, one after the other, 
meaning to shoot my masts overboard.' 1 From this 

1 This at least is what Van Galen's crabbed old Dutch seems 
to mean. ' Alsoo naer bij quam dat se couden toe schieter dragen, 
de elcken heer onder den windt, gaven so elck hare laghe dan 
vinjt d' eene sijde, dan veer van d' anden sijde, hielden alsdan met 
haer schepen voor den vindt tal dat se weer claer waren, dan wast 
alsvooren met cannoneren van de heele lagh en in sonderheijt op 



ORIGIN OF LINE AHEAD 85 

it would seem that Badiley attacked in succession in 
the time-honoured way, and that the old rudimentary 
form of the line ahead was still the ordinary practice. 
The evidence however is far from strong, but really 
little is needed. Experience teaches us that the 
line ahead formation would never have been adopted 
as a standing order unless there had been some 
previous practice in the service to justify it or unless 
the idea was borrowed from abroad. But, as we 
shall see, the oft-repeated assertion that it was 
imitated from the Dutch is contrary to all the 
evidence and quite untenable. The only experi- 
ence the framers of the order of 1653 can have had 
of a line ahead formation must have been in our own 
service. 

The clearest proof of this lies in the annexed 
orders which Tromp issued on June 20, 1652, 
immediately before the declaration of war, and after 
he had had his brush with Blake, in which, if Gibson 
is to be trusted, Tromp had seen Blake's line. 
From these orders it is clear that the Dutch concep- 
tion of a naval action was still practically identical 
with that of Lindsey's instructions of 1635, that is, 
mutual support of squadrons or groups, with no trace 
of a regular battle formation. In the detailed 'or- 
ganisation ' of the fleet each of the three squadrons 
has its own three flag officers that is to say, it was 
organised, like that of Lord Wimbledon in 1625, in 
three squadrons and nine sub-squadrons, and was 
therefore clearly designed for group tactics. It is 
on this point alone, if at all, that it can be. said to 
show any advance on the tactics which had obtained 
throughout the century, or on those which Tromp 
himself had adopted against Oquendo in 1639. 

mijn onderhebbende schip vier gaven van meeninge masten aft 
stengen overboort to schieten.' A copy of Van Galen's despatch 
is amongst Dr. Gardiner's Dutch War transcripts. 



- 



86 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

Yet further proof is to be found in the orders 
issued by Witte Corneliszoon de With to his 
captains in October 1652, as commander-in-chief of 
the Dutch fleet. In these he very strictly enjoins, 
as a matter of real importance, ' that they shall all 
keep close up by the others and as near together as 
possible, to the end that thereby they may act with 
united force . . . and prevent any isolation or 
cutting off of ships occurring in time of fight ; ' 
adding 'that it behoved them to stand by and 
relieve one another loyally, and rescue such as might 
be hotly attacked.' This is clearly no more than an 
amplification of Tromp's order of the previous June. 
It introduces no new principle, and is obviously 
based on the time-honoured idea of group tactics 
and mutual support. It is true that De Jonghe, the 
learned historian of the Dutch navy, regards it as 
conclusive that the line was then in use by the 
Dutch, because, as he says, several Dutch captains, 
after the next action, were found guilty and con- 
demned for not having observed their instructions. 
But really there is nothing in it from which a line 
can be inferred. It is all explained on the theory of 
groups. And in spite of De Jonghe's deep research 
and his anxiety to show that the line was practised 
by his countrymen as well as by the English in the 
first Dutch War, he is quite unable to produce 
any orders like the English instructions of 1653, in 
which a line formation is clearly laid down. 

But whether or not we can accept De Jonghe's 
conclusions as to the time the line was introduced 
into the Dutch service, one thing is clear enough 
that he never ventured to suggest that the English 
copied the idea from his own countrymen. It is 
evident that he found nothing either in the Dutch 
archives or elsewhere even to raise such an idea in 
his mind. But, on the other hand, his conspicuous 



LONG PARLIAMENT, 1648 87 

impartiality leads him to give abundant testimony 
that throughout these wars thoughtful Dutch officers 
were continually praising the order and precision of 
the English tactics, and lamenting the blundering 
and confusion of their own. It may be added that 
Dr. Gardiner's recent researches in the same field 
equally failed to produce any document upon which 
we can credit the Dutch admirals with serious 
tactical reforms. Even De Ruyter's improvements 
in squadronal organisation consisted mainly in super- 
seding a multiplicity of small squadrons by a system 
of two or three large squadrons, divided into sub- 
squadrons, a system which was already in use with 
the English, and was presumably imitated by De 
Ruyter, if it was indeed he who introduced it and not 
Tromp, from the well-established Commonwealth 
practice. 1 

PARLIAMENTARY ORDERS, 1648. 
[Sloane MSS. 1709, f. 55. Extract] 

Instructions given by the Right Honourable the 
Committee of the Lords and Commons for the 
Admiralty and Cinque Ports, to be duly observed 
by all captains and officers whatsoever and 
common men respectively in their fleet, provided 
to the glory of God, the honour and service of 
Parliament, and the safety of the Kingdom of 
England. [Fol. 59.] 
If any fleet shall be discovered at sea which 

may probably be conjectured to have a purpose to 

1 See De Jonghe's introduction to his Third Book on ' The 
Condition of the British and Dutch Navies at the outbreak of and 
during the Second English War,' Geschiedenis van het Neder- 
landsche Zeauesen, vol. ii. part ii. pp. 132-141, and his digression 
on Tactics, pp. 290 et seq., and p. 182 note. De Witte's order is 
p. 311. 



88 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

encounter, oppose, or affront the fleet in the Parlia- 
ment's service, you may in that case expect more 
particular directions. But for the present you are 
to take notice, that in case of joining battle you are 
to leave it to the vice-admiral to assail the enemy's 
admiral, and to match yourself as equally as you can, 
to succour the rest of the fleet as cause shall require, 
not wasting your powder nor shooting afar off, nor 
till you come side to side. 



SUPPLEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS, 
circa 1650. 

[Harleian MSS. 1247, 43b. Draft unsigned.] 

Instructions for the better ordering and managing 
the fleet in fighting. 

1. Upon discovery of a fleet, receiving a sign 
from the general's ship, which is putting abroad the 
sign made for each ship or frigate, they are to make 
sail and stand with them so nigh as to gain know- 
ledge what they are and of what quality, how many 
fireships and others, and what order the fleet is in ; 
which being done the frigates or vessels are to speak 
together and conclude on the report they are to give, 
and accordingly report to the general or commander- 
in-chief of the squadron, and not to engage if the 
enemy's ships exceed them in number except it 
shall appear to them on the place that they have the 
advantage. 

2. At sight of the said fleet the vice-admiral or 
he that commands in the second place, and the rear- 
admiral or he that commands in the third place, are 
to make what sail they can to come up with the 
admiral on each wing, as also each ship according to 
her quality, giving a competent distance from each 
other if there be sea-room enough. 



COMMONWEALTH, CIRCA 1650 89 

3. As soon as they shall [see] the general engage, 
or [he] shall make a sign by shooting off two guns 
and putting a red flag on the fore topmast-head, 
that each ship shall take the best advantage they 
can to engage with the enemy next unto him. 

4. If any ship shall happen to be over-charged 
and distressed the next ship or ships are immediately 
to make towards their relief and assistance upon 
signal given ; which signal shall be, if the admiral, 
then a pennant in the fore topmast-head ; the vice- 
admiral or commander in the second place, a pen- 
nant in the main topmast-head ; and the rear-admiral 
the like. 

5. In case any ship shall be distressed or dis- 
abled by loss of masts, shot under water, or other- 
wise so as she is in danger of sinking or taking, he 
or they are to give a signal thereof so as, the fleet 
having knowledge, they may be ready to be relieved. 
Therefore the flagships are to have a special care to 
them, that such provisions may be made that they 
may not be left in distress to the mercy of the 
enemy ; and the signal is to be a weft T of the ensign 
of the ship so distressed. 

6. That it is the duty of the commanders and 
masters of all the small frigates, ketches and smacks 
belonging to the fleet to know the fireships that 
belong to the enemy, and accordingly by observing 
their motion to do their utmost to cut off their boats 
(if possible), or if opportunity serve that they lay 
them on board, fire and destroy them ; and to this 
purpose they are to keep to windward of the fleet 
in time of service. But in case they cannot prevent 
the fireships from coming on board us by coming 
between us and them, which by all means possible 
they are to endeavour, that then, in such a case, 

1 See note, p. 99. 



90 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

they show themselves men in such an exigent, 1 and 
shear aboard them, and with their boats, grapnels, 
and other means clear them from us and destroy 
them ; which service, if honourably done, according 
to its merit shall be rewarded, and the neglect 
thereof strictly and severely called to account. 

7. That the fireships belonging to the fleet endea- 
vour to keep the wind, and they with the small 
frigates to be as near the great ships as they can, 
and to attend the signal from the commander-in- 
chief and to act accordingly. 

8. If any engagement shall happen to continue 
until night and the general please to anchor, that 
upon signal given they all anchor in as good order as 
may be, the signal being as in the instructions for 
sailing ; and if the general please to retreat without 
anchoring, then the signal to be firing two guns so 
nigh one the other as the report may be distinguished, 
and within three minutes after to do the like with two 
guns more. And the commander of this ship is to 
sign copies of these instructions to all ships and 
other vessels of this fleet. Given on board the 

1 ' Exigent '=exigence, emergency. Shakespeare has ' Why 
do you cross me in this exigent ? ' Jut. Cces. v. i. 



TROMP, 1652 91 



MARTEN TROMP, June 20, 1652. 
[Dr. Gardiner's First Dutch War, vol. i. p. 321. Extract.] 

June f, 1652. The resolution of Admiral Tromp 
on the distribution of the fleet in case of its being 
attacked. 

Each captain is expressly ordered, on penalty of 
300 guilders, to keep near 1 the flag officer under 
whom he serves. Also he is to have his guns in a 
serviceable condition. The squadron under Vice- 
Admiral Jan Evertsen is to lie or sail immediately 
ahead of the admiral. Further Captain Pieter Floris- 
zoon (who provisionally carries the flag at the mizen 
as rear-admiral) is always to remain with his squad- 
ron close astern of the admiral ; and the Admiral 
Tromp is to take his station between both with his 
squadron. The said superior officers and captains 
are to stand by one another with all fidelity ; and 
each squadron when another is vigorously attacked 
shall second and free the other, using therein all 
the qualities of a soldier and seaman. 

1 The Dutch has ' troppen ' = to gather round (cf. our 
' trooping the colour '). De With's corresponding order has 
'dat zij alien bij den anderen . . . gesloten zou den blijven.' 
Supra, p. 86. 



92 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 



II 
ORDERS ISSUED DURING THE WAR 

1653 AND 1654 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE earliest known ' Fighting Instructions' in any 
language which aimed at a single line ahead as a 
battle formation, were issued by the Commonwealth's 
' generals-at-sea ' on March 29, 1653, in the midst of 
the Dutch War. This is placed beyond doubt by an 
office copy amongst the Duke of Portland's MSS. at 
Welbeck Abbey. 1 It is of high importance for the 
history of naval tactics that we are at last able to fix 
the date of these memorable orders. Endless misap- 
prehension on the subject of our battle formations 
during the First Dutch War has been caused by a 
chronological error into which Mr. Granville Penn 
was led in his Memorials of Penn (Appendix L). 
Sir William Penn's copy of these Instructions 
is merely dated ' March 1653, ' 2 and his biographer 
hazarded the very natural conjecture that, as 
this is an ' old style ' date, it meant ' March 
1654 ' This would have been true of any day 

1 Hist. MSS. Com. XIII. ii. 85. It is from a transcript of 
this copy made for Dr. Gardiner that I have been permitted to 
take the text below. A set of ' Instructions for the better order- 
ing of the fleet in Sailing ' accompanies them. 

2 ^British Museum^ Sloane MSS. 3232, f. 81. 



THE GENERALS AT SEA 93 

in March before the 25th, but as we now can 
fix the date as the 29th, we know the year is really 
1653 and not i654. 1 There was perhaps some 
anxiety on Mr. Penn's part to get his hero some 
share in the orders, and as William Penn was not 
appointed one of the ' generals-at-sea ' till December 
2, 1653, he could not officially have had the credit of 
orders issued in the previous March. This point 
however is also set at rest by the Welbeck copy, 
which besides the date has the signatures of the 
generals, and they are those of Blake, Deane and 
Monck. Penn did not sign them at all, but this 
really in no way affects his claim as a tactical re- 
former. For as he was vice-admiral of the fleet 
and an officer of high reputation, his share in the 
orders was probably as great as that of anyone else. 
The winter of 1652-3 was the turning point of 
the war. The summer campaign had shown how 
serious the struggle was to be, and no terms for 
ending it could be arranged. Large reinforcements 
consequently had been ordered, and Monck and 
Deane nominated to assist Blake as joint generals- 
at-sea for the next campaign. Four days later, on 
November 30, 1652, Blake had been defeated by 
Tromp off Dungeness, and several of his captains 
were reported to have behaved badly. An inquiry 
was ordered, and the famous ' Laws of War and Ordi- 
nances of the Sea/ prepared by Sir Harry Vane by 
order of Parliament for the better enforcement of 
discipline, were put in force. Notwithstanding these 
vigorous efforts to increase the strength and effi- 
ciency of the sea service, it was not till after the first 
action of the new campaign that an attempt was 

1 The Sloane copy is not quite identical with that in the 
Portland MSS. The variations, however, are merely verbal and 
in a few signals, and are of such a nature as to be accounted for 
by careless transcription. 



94 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

made to improve the fleet tactics. The action off 
Portland on February 18, 1653, and the ensuing 
chase of Tromp, marked the first real success of the 
war ; but though the generals succeeded in delivering 
a severe blow to the Dutch admiral and his convoy, 
it must have been clear to everyone that they 
narrowly escaped defeat through a want of cohesion 
between their squadrons. On the iQth and 2oth 
Tromp executed a masterly retreat, with his fleet in 
a crescent or obtuse-angle formation and his convoy 
in its arms, but nowhere is there any hint that either 
side fought in line ahead. 1 On the 25th the fleet 
had put into Stokes Bay to refit, and between this 
time and March 29 the new orders were produced. 2 
The first two articles it will be seen are practi- 

1 Hoste, the author of the first great treatise on Naval Tactics, 
quotes Tromp's formation as a typical method of retreat ; but his 
account is vitiated by what seems a curious mistake. He says : 
' II rangea son armee en demi-lune et il mit son convoi au milieu : 
c'est a dire que son vaisseau faisait au vent Tangle obtus de la 
demi-lune, et les autres s'etendoient de part (sic) et d'autre sur 
les deux lignes du plus-pres pour former les faces de la demi-lune 
qui couvroient le convoi. Ce fut en cet ordre qu'il fit vent, 
arriere, foudroiant a droite et a gauche tous les anglois qui 
s'approchent.' But if with the wind aft his two quarter lines bore 
from the flagship seven points from the wind, the formation would 
have been concave to the enemy and the convoy could not have 
been au milieu. (Evolutions Navales, pp. 90, 95, and plate 29, 
p. 91.) The passage is in any case interesting, as showing that what 
was then called the crescent or half-moon formation was nothing 
but our own ' order of retreat,' or ' order of retreat reverted,' of 
Rodney's time. As defined by Sir Charles Knowles in 1780, the 
order of retreat reverted was formed on two lines of bearing, i.e. 
by the seconds of the centre ship keeping two points abaft her 
starboard and larboard beams respectively. In the simple order 
of retreat they kept two points before the beam. 

2 No reference to these orders appears in the correspondence 
of the generals at this time, unless it be in a letter of John Poort- 
mans, deputy-treasurer of the fleet, to Robert Blackbourne, in 
which he writes on March 9 : ' The generals want 500 copies of 
the instructions for commanders of the state's ships printed and 
sent down.' (S. P. Dom. 48, f. 65.) 



ADOPTION OF THE LINE 95 

cally the same as the ' Supplementary Instructions ' 
on p. 99, but in the third, relating to ' general 
action,' instead of the ships engaging ' according to 
the order presented,' as was enjoined in the previous 
set, ' they are to endeavour to keep in a line with 
the chief,' as the order which will enable them 'to 
take the best advantage they can to engage with 
the enemy.' Article 6 directs that where a flagship 
is distressed captains are to endeavour to form line 
between it and the enemy. Article 7 however goes 
still further, and enjoins that where the windward 
station has been gained the line ahead is to be 
formed ' upon severest punishment,' and a special 
signal is given for the manoeuvre. Article 9 
provides a similar signal for flagships. 

Compared with preceding orders, these new 
ones appear nothing less than revolutionary. But 
it is by no means certain that they were so. Here 
again it must be remarked that it is beyond all 
experience for such sweeping reforms to be so 
rigorously adopted, and particularly in the middle 
of a war, without their having been in the air for 
some time previously, and without their supporters 
having some evidence to cite of their having been 
tried and tried successfully, at least on a small scale. 
The natural presumption therefore is that the new 
orders only crystallised into a definite system, and 
perhaps somewhat extended, a practice which had 
long been familiar though not universal in the 
service. A consideration of the men who were 
responsible for the change points to the same con- 
clusion. Blake, the only one of the three generals 
who had had experience of naval actions, was ashore 
disabled by a severe wound, but still able to take 
part, at least formally, in the business of the fleet. 
Deane, another soldier like Blake, though he had 
commanded fleets, had never before seen an action, 



96 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

but had done much to improve the organisation of 
the service, and at this time, as his letters show, was 
more active and ardent in the work than ever. 
Monck before the late cruise had never been to sea 
at all, since as a boy he sailed in the disastrous 
Cadiz expedition of 1625 ; but he was the typical 
and leading scientific soldier of his time, with an 
unmatched power of organisation and an infallible 
eye for both tactics and strategy, at least so far as it 
had then been tried. Penn, the vice-admiral of 
the fleet, was a professional naval officer of consider- 
able experience, and it was he who by a bold and 
skilful movement had saved the action off Portland 
from being a severe defeat for Blake and Deane. 
Monck's therefore was the only new mind that was 
brought to bear on the subject. Yet it is impossible 
to credit him with introducing a revolution in naval 
tactics. All that can be said is that possibly his 
genius for war and his scientific and well-drilled 
spirit revealed to him in the traditional minor tactics 
of the seamen the germ of a true tactical system, and 
caused him to urge its reduction into a definite set of 
fighting instructions which would be binding on all; 
and would co-ordinate the fleet into the same kind of 
homogeneous and handy fighting machine that he 
and the rest of the Low Country officers had made of 
the New Model Army. In any case he could not 
have carried the thing through unless it had com- 
mended itself to the experience of such men as 
Penn and the majority of the naval officers of the 
council of war. And they would hardly have been 
induced to agree had they not felt that the new 
instructions were calculated to bring out the best of 
the methods which they had empirically practised. 

How far the new orders were carried out during 
the rest of the war is difficult to say. In both 
official and unofficial reports of the actions of this 



FOREIGN CRITICS 97 

time an almost superstitious reverence is shown in 
avoiding tactical details. Nevertheless that a sub- 
stantial improvement was the result seems clear, 
and further the new tactics appear to have made a 
marked impression upon the Dutch. Of the very 
next action, that off the Gabbard on June 2, when 
Monck was left in sole command, we have a report 
from the Hague that the English ' having the wind, 
they stayed on a tack for half an hour until they put 
themselves into the order in which they meant to 
fight, which was in file at half cannon-shot,' and the 
suggestion is that this was something new to the 
Dutch. ' Our fleet,' says an English report by an 
eye-witness, ' did work together in better order than 
before and seconded one another.' Then there is 
the important testimony of a Royalist intelligencer 
who got his information at the Hague on June 9, 
from the man who had brought ashore the des- 
patches from the defeated Dutch fleet. After 
relating the consternation which the English caused 
in the Dutch ranks as well by their gunnery as their 
refusal to board, he goes on to say, ' It is certain 
that the Dutch in this fight (by the relation and 
acknowledgment of Tromp's own express sent 
hither, with whom I spoke) showed very great fear 
and were in very great confusion, and the English 
he says fought in excellent order.' l 

Again, for the next battle that of the Texel 
fought on July 31 in the same year, we have the 
statement of Hoste's informant, who was present as 
a spectator, that at the opening of the action the 
English, but not the Dutch, were formed in a single 
line close-hauled. ' Le 7 Aoust ' [i.e. N.S.], the 
French gentleman says, 'je decouvris 1'armee de 
I'amiral composed de plus de cent vaisseaux de 
guerre. Elle 6tait rangee en trois escadrons et elle 
1 Clarendon MSS. 45, f. 470. 

H 



98 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

faisoit vent-arriere pour aller tomber sur les Anglois, 
qu'elle rencontra le meme jour a peu pres en pareil 
nombre rangez \sic\ sur une ligne qui tenoit plus de 
quatre lieues Nord-Nord-Est et Sud-Sud-Ouest, le 
vent 6tant Nord-Ouest. Le 8 et le 9 se passerent 
en des escarmouches, mais le 10 on en [sic] vint a 
une bataille decisive. Les Anglois avoient essaie 
de gagner le vent : mais 1'amiral Tromp en aiant 
toujours conserv6 1'avantage, et 1'etant range sur 
une ligne parallele a celle des Anglois arriva sur 
eux,' &c. This is the first known instance of a 
Dutch fleet forming in single line, and, so far as it 
goes, would tend to show they adopted it in imita- 
tion of the English formation. 1 At any rate, so far 
as we have gone, the evidence tends to show that 
the English finally adopted the regular line-ahead 
formation in consequence of the orders of March 
29, 1653, and there is no indication of the current 
belief that they borrowed it from the Dutch. 

By the English admirals the new system must 
have been regarded as a success. For the Fighting 
Instructions of 1653 were reissued with nothing but 
a few alterations of signals and verbal changes 
by Blake, Monck, Disbrowe, and Penn, the new 
' admirals and generals of the fleet of the Common- 
wealth of England,' appointed in December 1653, 
when the war was practically over. They are 
printed by Granville Penn (Memorials of Penn, ii. 
76), under date March 31, 1655, Dut tnat cannot be 
the actual date of their issue, for Blake was then in 
the Mediterranean, Penn in the West Indies, and 

1 Hoste, Evolutions Navales, p. 78. Dr. Gardiner declared 
himself sceptical as to the genuineness of the French gentle- 
man's narrative, mainly on the ground of certain inaccuracies 
of date and detail ; but, as Hoste certainly believed in it, it 
cannot well be rejected as evidence of the main features of the 
action for which he used it. 



COMMONWEALTH, 1653 99 

Monck busy with his pacification of the Highlands. 
We must suspect here then another confusion 
between old and new styles, and conjecture the true 
date to be March 31, 1654, that is just before Monck 
left for Scotland, and a few days before the peace 
was signed. So that these would be the orders 
under which Blake conducted his famous campaign 
in the Mediterranean, Penn and Venables captured 
Jamaica, and the whole of Cromwell's Spanish war 
was fought. 



COMMONWEALTH ORDERS, 1653.' 
[Duke of Portland's MSS.] 

By the Right Honourable the Generals and Admirals 

of the Fleet. 

Instructions for the better ordering of the fleet in 
fighting. 

First. Upon the discovery of a fleet, receiving 
a sign from the general, which is to be striking the 
general's ensign, and making a weft, 2 two frigates 3 
appointed out of each squadron are to make sail, 
and stand with them so nigh as they may conveni- 
ently, the better to gain a knowledge of them what 
they are, and of what quality, and how many fire- 

1 Re-issued in March 1654, by Blake, Monck, Disbrowe, 
and Penn, with some amendments and verbal alterations. As re- 
issued they are in Sloane MSS. 3232, f. 81, and printed in Gran- 
ville Penn's Memorials of Sir William Penn, ii. 76. All the 
important amendments in the new edition, apart from mere verbal 
alterations, are given below in notes to the articles in which they 
occur. 

2 ' Waft (more correctly written wheft}. It is any flag or 
ensign stopped together at the head and middle portion, slightly 
rolled up lengthwise, and hoisted at different positions at the after- 
part of a ship.' Admiral Smyth (Sailors' Word-Book). 

3 The orders of 1654 have 'one frigate.' 

H 2 



ioo THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

ships and others, and in what posture l the fleet is ; 
which being done the frigates are to speak together 
and conclude in that report they are to give, and 
accordingly repair to their respective squadrons 
and commanders-in-chief, and not to engage if 
the enemy 2 exceed them in number, except it shall 
appear to them on the place they have the advan- 
tage. 

Ins. 2nd. At sight of the said fleet the vice- 
admiral, or he that commands in chief in the 2nd 
place, and his squadron, as also the rear-admiral, or 
he that commandeth in chief in the 3rd place, and 
his squadron, are to make what sail they can to come 
up with the admiral on each wing, the vice-admiral 
on the right wing, and the rear-admiral on the left 
wing, leaving a competent distance for the admiral's 
squadron if the wind will permit and there be sea- 
room enough. 

Ins. 3rd. As soon as they shall see the general 
engage, or make a signal by shooting off two guns 
and putting a red flag over the fore topmast-head, 
that then each squadron shall take the best advantage 
they can to engage with the enemy next unto them ; 
and in order thereunto all the ships of every 
squadron shall endeavour to keep in a line with the 
chief unless the chief be maimed or otherwise 
disabled (which God forbid !), whereby the said ship 
that wears the flag should not come in to do the 
service which is requisite. Then every ship of the 
said squadron shall endeavour to keep 3 in a line 
with the admiral, or he that commands in chief ^ next 
unto him, and nearest the enemy. 

Inst. 4th. If any squadron shall happen to be 
overcharged or distressed, the next squadron or ships 

1 I.e. 'formation.' 2 1654, ' enemy's ships.' 

3 1654, 'get.' 4 1654, 'or the commander-in-chief.' 



COMMONWEALTH, 1653 101 

are speedily^ to make towards their relief and 
assistance upon a signal given them ; which signal 
shall be, in the admiral's squadron a pennant on 
the fore topmast-head, the vice-admiral or he that 
commands in chief in the second place a pennant on 
the main topmast-head, [and] the rear-admiral's 
squadron the like. 

Inst. 5th. If in case any ship shall be distressed 
or disabled for lack of masts, shot under water, or 
otherwise in danger of sinking or taking, he or they? 
thus distressed shall make a sign by the weft of 
his jack or ensign, and those next him are strictly 
required to relieve him. 

Inst. 6th. That if any ship shall be necessitated 
to bear away from the enemy to stop a leak or mend 
what else is amiss, which cannot be otherwise 
repaired, he is to put out a pennant on the mizen 
yard-arm or ensign staff, whereby the rest of the 
ships may have notice what it is for ; and if it should 
be that the admiral or any flagship should do so, the 
ships of the fleet or the respective squadrons are to 
endeavour to keep up in a line as close 2 ' as they can 
betwixt him and the enemy, having always one eye 
to defend him in case the enemy should come to 
annoy him in that condition. 

Inst. 7th. In case the admiral should have the 
wind of the enemy, and that other ships of the fleet 
are to windward of the admiral, then upon hoisting 
up a blue flag at the mizen yard, or the mizen top- 
mast, 4 every such ship then is to bear up into his 
wake, and grain upon severest punishment? In 

1 1654, 'immediately.' 

2 1654, 'so as she is in danger of being sunk or taken, then 
they.' 

3 1654, 'to keep on close in a line.' 

4 1654, 'mizen topmast-head.' 

5 1654, 'or grain upon pain of severe punishment.' Nothing 
is more curious in naval phraseology than the loss of this 



102 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

case the admiral be to leeward of the enemy, and 
his fleet or any part thereof to leeward of him, to the 
end such ships to leeward may come up into the 
line with their admiral, if he shall put abroad a flag 
as before and bear up, none that are to leeward are 
to bear up, but to keep his or their luff to gain the 
wake or grain. 

Inst. 8th. If the admiral will have any of the 
ships to endeavour 1 by tacking or otherwise to gain 
the wind of the enemy, he will put abroad a red flag 
at his spritsail, topmast shrouds, forestay or main 
topmast 2 stay. He that first discovers the signal 
shall make sail and hoist and lower his sail 3 or 
ensign, that the rest of the ships may take notice 
of it and follow. 

Inst. 9th. If we put out a red flag on the mizen 
shrouds, or mizen yard-arm, we will have all the 
flagships to come up in the grain and wake 4 of us. 

excellent word 'grain,' or 'grayne,' to express the opposite ot 
' wake.' To come into a ship's grain meant to take station ahead 
of her. There is nothing now which exactly supplies its place, 
and yet it has long fallen into oblivion, so long, indeed, that its 
existence was unknown to the learned editors of the new Oxford 
Dictionary. This is to be the more regretted as its etymology is 
very obscure. It may, however, be traced with little doubt to the 
old Norse 'grein,' a branch or prong, surviving in the word 
' grains,' a pronged harpoon or fish spear. From its meaning, 
' branch,' it might seem to be akin to ' stem ' and to ' bow,' which 
is only another spelling of ' bough.' But this is not likely. The 
older meaning of ' bows ' was ' shoulders,' and this, it is agreed, 
is how it became applied to the head of a ship. There is, how- 
ever, a secondary and more widely used sense of ' grain,' which 
means the space between forking boughs, and so almost any 
angular space, like a meadow where two rivers converge. Thus 
' grain,' in the naval sense, might easily mean the space en- 
closed by the planks of a ship where they spring from the stem, 
or if it is not actually the equivalent of ' bows,' it may mean the 
diverging waves thrown up by a ship advancing through the water, 
and thus be the exact analogue of ' wake.' 

1 1654, 'to make sail and endeavour.' 

2 1654, ' Fore topmast.' 3 1654, 'jack.' 
4 1654, 'wake or grain.' 



COMMONWEALTH, 1653 103 

Inst. loth. If in time of fight God shall deliver 
any of the enemy's ships into our hands, special care 
is to be taken to save their men as the present state 
of our condition will permit in such a case, but that 
the ships be immediately destroyed, by sinking or 
burning the same, so that our own ships be not 
disabled or any work interrupted by the departing 
of men or boats from the ships ; and this we require 
all commanders to be more than mindful of. 1 

Inst. nth. None shall fire upon any ship of the 
enemy that is laid aboard by any of our own ships, 
but so that he may be sure he endamage not his 
friend. 

Inst. 1 2th. That it is the duty of commanders 
and masters of all small frigates, 2 ketches, and smacks 
belonging to the several squadrons to know the 
fireships belonging to the enemy, and accordingly 
by observing their motions to do their utmost to cut 
off their boats if possible, or, if opportunity be, that 
they lay them aboard, seize or destroy them. And 
to this purpose they are to keep to windward of 
their squadrons in time of service. But in case they 
cannot prevent the fireships [coming] 3 on board by 
clapping between us and them (which by all means 
possible they are to endeavour), that then in such 
cases they show themselves men in such an exigent 
and steer on board them, and with their boats, 
grapnels, and other means clear them from us and 
destroy them ; which service (if honourably done) 
according to its merit shall be rewarded, but the 
neglect severely to be called to accompt. 

Inst. 1 3th. That the fireships in the several 

1 1654, ' more than ordinarily careful of.' 

2 It should be remembered that ' frigate ' at this time meant 
a 'frigate-built ship.' The larger ones were 'capital ships 'and 
lay in the line, while the smaller ones were used as cruisers. 

3 Inserted from 1654 copy. 



104 THE FIRST DUTCH WAR 

squadrons endeavour to keep the wind ; and they 
with the small frigates to be as near the great 
ships as they can, to attend the signal from the 
general or commander-in-chief, and to act accord- 
ingly. If the general hoist up a white flag on the 
mizen yard-arm or topmast-head, all small frigates 
in his squadron are to come under his stern for 
orders. 

Inst. 1 4th. That if any engagement by day shall 
continue till night and the general shall please to 
anchor, then upon signal given they all anchor in as 
good order as may be, the signal being as in the 
'Instructions for Sailing'; and if the general 
please to retreat without anchoring, the signal to 
be firing two guns, the one so nigh the other as 
the report may be distinguished, and within three 
minutes after to do the like with two guns more. 

Given under our hands at Portsmouth, this 
March 29th, 1653. 

ROBERT BLAKE. 
RICHARD DEANE. 
GEORGE MONCK. 



PART V 
THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

I. THE EARL OF SANDWICH, 1665 

II. THE DUKE OF YORK AND PRINCE RUPERT, 

1665-6 



ORDERS OF THE RESTORATION 

INTRODUCTORY 

THOUGH several fleets were fitted out in the first 
years of the Restoration, the earliest orders of 
Charles II 's reign that have come down to us are 
those which the Earl of Sandwich issued on the eve 
of the Second Dutch War. Early in the year 1665, 
when hostilities were known to be inevitable, he had 
sailed from Portsmouth with a squadron of fifteen 
sail for the North Sea. On January 27th he arrived 
in the Downs, and on February gth sailed for the 
coast of Holland. 1 War was declared on March 4th 
following. The orders in question are only known by 
a copy given to one of his frigate captains, which 
has survived amongst the manuscripts of the Duke 
of Somerset. So far as is known no fresh complete 
set of Fighting Instructions was issued before the 
outbreak of the war, and as Monck and Sandwich 
were still among the leading figures at the admiralty 
it is probable that those used in the last Dutch and 
Spanish Wars were continued. The four orders 
here given are supplementary to them, providing 
for the formation of line abreast, and for forming from 
that order a line ahead to port or starboard. It is 

1 Domestic Calendar ; 1664-5, PP- J 8i, 183. 



io8 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

possible however that no other orders had yet been 
officially issued, and that these simple directions 
were regarded by Sandwich as all that were neces- 
sary for so small a squadron. 



THE EARL OF SANDWICH, Feb. z, 1665. 

[Duke of Somerset's MSS., printed by the Historical MSS. 
Commission. Rep. XV. part vii. p. 100.] 

Orders given by direction of the Earl of Sandwich 
to Captain Hugh Seymour^ of the Pearl frigate. 

1665, February i. On board the London in the 
Downs. 

If we shall bear up, putting abroad the standard 
on the ancient 2 staff, every ship of this squadron is 
to draw up abreast with the flag, on either side, in 
such berth as opportunity shall present most con- 
venient, but if there be time they are to 'sail in the 
foresaid posture. 3 

If the admiral put up a jack 4 -flag on the flagstaff 

1 Son of Colonel Sir Edward Seymour, 3rd baronet, Governor 
of Dartmouth. 

2 I.e. ensign. 

3 I.e. in the ' order of battle ' already given. 

4 The earliest known use of the word ' jack ' for a flag in an 
official document occurs in an order issued by Sir John Penning- 
ton to his pinnace captains in 1633. He was in command of the 
Channel guard in search of pirates, particularly 'The Seahorse 
lately commanded by Captain Quaile ' and ' Christopher Megges, 
who had lately committed some outrage upon the Isle of Lundy, 
and other places.' The pinnaces were to work inshore of the 
admiral and to endeavour to entrap the piratical ships, and to this 
end he said, 'You are also for this present service to keep in 
your Jack at your boultsprit end and your pendant and your 
ordnance.' (Sloane MSS. 2682, f. 51.) The object of the order 
evidently was that they should conceal their character from the 
pirates, and at this time therefore the ' jack ' carried at the end of 
the bowsprit and the pennant must have been the sign of a navy 



LORD SANDWICH, 1665 109 

on the mizen topmast-head and fire a gun, then the 
outwardmost ship on the starboard side is to clap 
upon a wind with his starboard tacks aboard, and 
all the squadron as they lie above or as they have 
ranked themselves are presently to clap upon a wind 
and stand after him in a line. 

And if the admiral make a weft with his jack- 
flag upon the flagstaff on the mizen topmast-head 
and fire a gun, then the outwardmost ship on the 
larboard side is to clap upon a wind with his larboard 
tacks aboard, and all the squadrons as they have 
ranked themselves are presently to clap upon a wind 
and stand after him in a line. 

All the fifth and sixth rates l are to lie on that 
broadside of the admiral which is away from the 
enemy, looking out well when any sign is made for 
them. Then they are to endeavour to come up 
under the admiral's stern for to receive orders. 

If we shall give the signal of hanging a pennant 
under the flag at the main topmast-head, then all 
the ships of this squadron are, with what speed they 
can, to fall into this posture, every ship in the place 
and order here assigned, and sail and anchor so that 
they may with the most readiness fall into the above 
said posture. 2 

ship. Boteler however, who wrote his Sea Dialogues about 1625, 
does not mention the jack in his remarks about flags (pp. 327- 
334). The etymology is uncertain. The new Oxford Dictionary 
inclines to the simple explanation that 'jack' was used in this 
case in its common diminutive sense, and that ' jack-flag ' was 
merely a small flag. 

1 I.e. his cruisers. 

2 In the Report of the Historical MSS. Commission it is stated 
that the position of the ships is shown in a diagram, but I have 
been unable to obtain access to the document. 



i io THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 



II 

MONCK, PRINCE RUPERT AND THE 
DUKE OF YORK 

INTRODUCTORY 

IT has hitherto been universally supposed that the 
Dutch Wars of the Restoration were fought under 
the set of orders printed as an appendix to 
Granville Penn's Memorials of Penn. Mr. Penn 
believed them to belong to the year 1665, but recent 
research shows conclusively that these often-quoted 
orders, which have been the source of so much mis- 
apprehension, are really much later and represent 
not the ideas under which those wars were fought, 
but the experience that was gained from them. 

This new light is mainly derived from a hitherto 
unknown collection of naval manuscripts belonging 
to the Earl of Dartmouth, which he has generously 
placed at the disposal of the Society. The invalu- 
able material they contain enables us to say with 
certainty that the orders which the Duke of York 
issued as lord high admiral and commander-in-chief 
at the outbreak of the war were nothing but a slight 
modification of those of 1654, with a few but not 
unimportant additions. Amongst the manuscripts, 
most of which relate to the first Lord Dartmouth's 
cousin and first commander, Sir Edward Spragge, 
is a ' Sea Book ' that must have once belonged to 
that admiral. It is a kind of commonplace book, the 



SPRAGGE'S SEA BOOK in 

greater part unused, in which Spragge appears to 
have begun to enter various important orders and 
other matter of naval interest with which he had 
been officially concerned, by way of forming a 
collection of precedents. 1 Amongst these is a copy 
of the orders set out below, dated from the Royal 
Charles, the Duke of York's flagship, 'the loth of 
April, 1665,' by command of his royal highness, and 
signed ' Wm. Coventry.' This was the well-known 
politician Sir William Coventry, the model, if not 
the author, of the Character of a Trimmer, who 
had been made private secretary to the duke on the 
eve of the Restoration, and was now a commissioner 
of the navy and acting as secretary on the duke's 
staff. So closely it will be seen do they follow the 
Commonwealth orders of 1653, as modified in the 
following year, that it would be scarcely worth 
while setting them out in full, but for the importance 
of finally establishing their true origin. The 
scarcely concealed doubts which many writers have 
felt as to whether the new system of tactics can have 
been due to the Duke of York may now be laid at 
rest, and henceforth the great reform must be 
credited not to him, but to Cromwell's ' generals-at- 
sea.' 

Nevertheless the credit of certain developments 
which were introduced at this time must still remain 
with the duke and his advisers : Rupert, Sandwich, 

1 It is a folio parchment-bound volume, labelled c Royal 
Charles Sea Book,' but this is clearly an error, due to the fact 
that the first order copied into it is dated from the Royal Charles, 
April 24, 1666. The first entry, however, is the list of a ship's 
company which Spragge commanded in 1661-2, as appears from 
his noting the deaths and desertions which took place amongst 
the crew in those years. At this time he is known to have com- 
f manded the Portland. For some years the book was evidently 
laid aside, and apparently resumed when in 1665 he commissioned 
the Triumph for the Dutch War. 



ii2 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

Lawson, and probably above all Penn, his flag 
captain. For instance, differences will be found in 
Articles 2 and 3, where, instead of merely enjoining 
the line, the duke refers to a regular ' order of 
battle,' which has not come down to us, but which 
no doubt gave every ship her station in the line, like 
those which Sandwich had prepared for his squadron 
a few months earlier, and which Monck and Rupert 
certainly drew up in- the following year. 1 Then 
again the truculent Article 10 of 1653 and 1654 
ordering the immediate destruction of disabled ships 
of the enemy after saving the crews if possible, 
which contemporary authorities put down to Monck, 
is reversed. At the end, moreover, two articles are 
added; one, numbered 15, embodying numbers 2 and 
3 of Sandwich's orders of the previous year, with such 
modifications as were necessary to adapt them to a 
large fleet, and another numbered 1 6 enjoining l close 
action.' Nor is this all. Spragge's 'Sea Book' con- 
tains also a set of ten ' additional instructions ' all of 
which are new. They are undated, but from another 
copy in Capt. Robert Moulton's 'Sea Book' we can 
fix them to April i8th, i66$. 2 Their whole tenour 
suggests that they were the outcome of prolonged . 

1 See notes supra, pp. 108-9, an d in the Dartmouth MSS., 
Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. XI. v. 15. 

2 Harkian MSS. 1247. It contains orders addressed to 
Moulton and returns for the Centurion, Vanguard and Anne, the 
ships he commanded in 1664-6. At p. 52 it has a copy of the 
above 'Additional Instructions,' but numbered i to 6, articles 
i to 5 of the Dartmouth copy being in one long article. At p. 50 
it has the original articles as far as No. 6. Then come two articles 
numbered as 7 and 8, giving signals for a squadron ' to draw up 
in line' and to come near the admiral. They are subscribed 
' Royal James, Admiral.' The Royal James was Rupert's flag- 
ship in 1665, and the two articles may be squadronal orders of 
his. Then, numbered 9 to 12, come four 'additional instructions for 
sailing ' by the Duke of York, relating to chasing, and dated 
April 24, 1665. 



ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS, 1665 113 

discussions in the council of war ; and in the variously 
dated copies which exist of sections of the orders we 
have evidence that between the last week in March, 
when the duke hoisted his flag, and April 2ist, when 
he put to sea, much time must have been spent 
upon the consideration of the tactical problem. 1 

The result was a marked advance. In these ten 
1 additional instructions,' for instance, we have for 
the first time a clear distinction drawn between 
attacks from windward and attacks from leeward. 
We have also the first appearance of the close- 
hauled line ahead, and it is enjoined as a defensive 
formation when the enemy attacks from windward. 
A method of attack from windward is also provided 
for the case where the enemy stays to receive it. 
Amongst less important developments we have an 
article making the half-cable's length, originally 
enjoined under the Commonwealth, the regular 
interval between ships, and others to prevent the 
line being broken for the sake of chasing or taking 
possession of beaten ships. Finally there are sig- 
nals for tacking in succession either from the van or 
the rear, which must have given the fleet a quite 
unprecedented increase of tactical mobility. Nor 
are we without evidence that increased mobility 
was actually exhibited when the new instructions 
were put to a practical test. 

It was under the old Commonwealth orders 
as supplemented and modified by these noteworthy 
articles of April 1665, that was fought the 
memorable action of June 3rd, variously known 
as the battle of Lowestoft or the Second Battle 
of the Texel. It is this action that Hoste 
cites as the first in which two fleets engaged in 
close hauled line ahead, and kept their formation 

1 Some of these articles are dated even as late as April 27. 
See in the Penn Tracts, Shane MSS. 3232, f. 33, infra, p. 128. 

I 



T i 4 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

throughout the day. After two days' manoeuvring 
the English gained the wind, and kept it in spite of 
all their enemy could do, and the various accounts 
of the action certainly give the impression that the 
evolutions of the English were smarter and more 
complex than those of the Dutch. It is true that 
about the middle of the action one of the new 
signals, that for the rear to tack first, threw the 
fleet into some confusion, and that later the van and 
centre changed places ; still, till almost the end, the 
duke, or rather Penn, his flag captain, kept at least 
some control of the fleet. Granville Penn indeed 
claims that the duke finally routed the Dutch by 
breaking their line, and that he did it intentionally. 
But this movement is only mentioned in a hasty 
letter to the press written immediately after the 
battle. If the enemy's line was actually cut, it must 
have been an accident or a mere instance of the 
time-honoured practice of trying to concentrate on or 
' overcharge ' a part of the enemy's fleet. Coventry 
in his official despatch to Monck, who was ashore in 
charge of the admiralty, says nothing of it, nor does 
Hoste, while the duke himself tells us the object of 
his movement was merely to have ' a bout with 
Opdam.' Granville Penn was naturally inclined to 
credit the statement in the Newsletter because he 
believed the action was fought under Fighting 
Instructions which contained an article about divid- 
ing the enemy's fleet. But even if this article had 
been in force at the time and we now know that 
it was not it would still have been inapplicable, 
for it was only designed in view of an attack from 
leeward, a most important point which modern 
writers appear unaccountably to have overlooked. 1 

1 See post, p. 177. For the despatches, &c., see G. Penn, 
Memorials of Penn, II. 322-333, 344-350. He also quotes a 
work published at Amsterdam in 1668 which says : ' Le Comte 



THE REACTION OF 1666 115 

But although we can no longer receive this 
questionable movement of the Duke of York as an 
instance of ' breaking the line ' in the modern sense, 
it is certain that the English manoeuvres in this 
action were more scientific and elaborate than ever 
before so much so indeed that a reaction set in, 
and it is this reaction which gave rise to the idea in 
later times that the order in line ahead had not been 
used in Commonwealth or Restoration times. We 
gather that in spite of the victory there was a wide- 
spread conviction that it ought to have been more 
decisive. It was felt that there had been perhaps 
too much manoeuvring and not enough hard fight- 
ing. In the end the Duke of York and Sandwich 
were both tenderly relieved of their command, and 
superseded by Monck. He and Rupert then became 
joint admirals for the ensuing campaign. They had 
the reputation of being two of the hardest fighters 
alive, and both were convinced of their power of 
sweeping the Dutch from the sea by sheer hard 
hitting, a belief which so far at least as Monck was 
concerned the country enthusiastically shared. The 
spirit in which the two soldier-admirals put to sea in 
May 1666 we see reflected in the hitherto unknown 
'Additional Instructions for Fighting' given below. 
For the knowledge of these remarkable orders, 
which go far to solve the mystery that has clouded 
the subject, we are again indebted to Lord Dart- 
mouth. They are entered like the others in Sir 
Edward Spragge's ' Sea Book.' They bear no date, 
but as they are signed ' Rupert ' and addressed to 

de Sandwich separa la flotte Hollandaise en deux vers 1'une heure 
du midi.' He explains that by the order for the rear to tack first, 
Sandwich was leading, forgetting Coventry's despatch (ibid. p. 328), 
which tells how by that time the duke had taken Sandwich's 
place and was leading the line himself, and that it was he, not 
Sandwich, who led the movement upon Opdam's ship in the 
centre of the Dutch line. 

I 2 



n6 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

1 Sir Edward Spragge, Knt, Vice-Admiral of the 
Blue,' we can with certainty fix them to this time. 
For we know that Spragge sailed in Rupert's 
squadron, and on the fourth day of the famous June 
battle was raised to the rank here given him in 
place of Sir William Berkley, who had been killed 
in the first day's action. 1 What share Monck had 
in the orders we cannot tell, but Rupert, being only 
joint admiral with him, could hardly have taken the 
step without his concurrence, and the probability 
is that Rupert, who had been detached on special 
service, was issuing a general fleet order to his own 
squadron which may have been communicated to 
the rest of the fleet before he rejoined. It must at 
any rate have been after he rejoined, for it was not 
till then that Spragge received his promotion. Both 
Monck and Rupert must therefore receive the credit 
of foreseeing the danger that lay in the new system, 
the danger of tactical pedantry that was destined to 
hamper the action of our fleets for the next half cen- 
tury, and of being the first to declare, long before 
Anson or Hawke, and longer still before Nelson, 
that line or no line, signals or no signals, ' the 
destruction of the enemy is always to be made the 
chiefest care.' 

In the light of this discovery we can at last 
explain the curious conversation recorded by Pepys, 
which, wrongly interpreted, has done so much to 
distort the early history of tactics. The circum- 
stances of Monck's great action must first be 
recalled. At the end of May, he and Rupert, with 
a fleet of about eighty sail, had put to sea to seek 
the Dutch, when a sudden order reached them from 
the court that the French Mediterranean fleet was 
coming up channel to join hands with the enemy, 
and that Rupert with his squadron of twenty sail 
1 Charnock, Biographia Navalis, i. 65. 



THE FOUR DAYS' BATTLE 117 

was to go westward to stop it. The result of this 
foolish order was that on June i Monck found him- 
self in presence of the whole Dutch fleet of nearly a 
hundred sail, with no more than fifty-nine of his own. 1 
Seeing an advantage, however, he attacked them 
furiously, throwing his whole weight upon their van. 
Though at first successful shoals forced him to tack, 
and his rear fell foul of the Dutch centre and rear, 
so that he came off severely handled. The next 
day he renewed the fight with forty-four sail against 
about eighty, and with so much skill that he was 
able that night to make an orderly retreat, covering 
his disabled ships with those least injured ' in a line 
abreadth.'- On the 3rd the retreat was continued. 
So well was it managed that the Dutch could not 
touch him, and towards evening he was able near 
the Galloper Sand to form a junction with Rupert, 
who had been recalled. Together on the 4th day 
they returned to the fight with as fierce a determina- 
tion as ever. Though to leeward, they succeeded 
in breaking through the enemy's line, such as it 
was. Being in too great an inferiority of numbers, 
however, they could not reap the advantage of their 
manoeuvre. 3 It only resulted in their being doubled 

1 Pepys, it must be said, persuaded himself that this order 
was suggested and approved by the admirals. He traced it to 
Spragge's desire to get away with his chief on a separate command. 
Pepys however was clearly not sure about it, and he almost 
certainly would have been if the Duke of York was really inno- 
cent of the blunder. The truth probably can never be known. 

2 Vice-Admiral Jordan to Penn, June 5, Memorials of Penn, 
II. 389. This is the first known instance of the use of the term 
' line abreast.' In the published account a different term is used. 
' By 3 or 4 in the morning,' it says, ' a small breeze sprang up 
at N.E. and at a council of flag officers, his grace the lord 
general resolved to draw the fleet into a " rear line of battle " 
and make a fair retreat of it.' (Brit. Museum, 816, m. 23(13), 
p. 5, and S.P. Dom. Car. 77, vol. 158.) The French and Dutch 
called it the ' crescent ' formation. See note, p. 94. 

/, pp. 136-7. 







n8 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

on, and the two fleets were soon mingled in a 
raging mass without order or control ; and when in 
the end they parted after a four days' fight, without 
example for endurance and carnage in naval history, 
the English had suffered a reverse at least as great 
as that they had inflicted on the Dutch in the last 
year's action. 

Such a terrific object lesson could not be with- 
out its effects on the great tactical question. But let 
us see how it looked in the eyes of a French eye- 
witness, who was naturally inclined to a favourable 
view of his Dutch allies. Of the second day's 
fight he says : ' Sur les six heures du matin nous 
apper9umes la flotte des Anglais qui revenoit dans 
une ordre admirable. Car ils marchent par le front 
comme seroit une armee de terre, et quand ils 
approchent ils s'etendent et tournent leurs bords 
pour combattre : parce que le front a la mer se fait 
par le bord des vaisseaux ' : that is, of course, 
the English bore down on the Dutch all together in 
line abreast, and then hauled their wind into line 
ahead to engage. Again, in describing the danger 
Tromp was in by having weathered the English 
fleet with his own squadron, while the rest 
of the Dutch were to leeward, he says : ' J'ai deja 
dit que rien n'egale le bel ordre et la discipline des 
Anglais, que jamais ligne n'a etc" tiree plus droite que 
celle que leurs vaisseaux forment, qu'on peut etre 
certain que lorsqu'on en approche il les faux \sic\ tous 
essuier.' The very precision of the English formation 
however, as he points out, was what saved Tromp 
from destruction, because having weathered their 
van-ship, he had the wind of them all and could not 
be enveloped. On the other hand, he says, when- 
ever an English ship penetrated the Dutch forma- 
tion it fared badly because the Dutch kept them- 
selves ' redoublez ' that is, not in a single line. As 



DE GUI CHE'S CRITICISM 119 

a general principle, then, he declares that it is safer 
to ' entrer dans une flotte d'Angleterre que de passer 
aupres ' (i.e. stand along it), ' et bien mieux de passer 
aupres d'une flotte Hollandaise que se meler au 
travers, si elle combat toujours comme elle fit pour 
lors.' But on the whole he condemns the loose 
formation of the Dutch, and says it is really due not 
to a tactical idea, but to individual captains shirking 
their duty. It is clear, then, that whatever was 
De Ruyter's intention, the Dutch did not fight in a 
true line. Later on in the same action he says : 
' Ruyter de son cote* appliqua toute son industrie 
pour donner une meilleure forme a sa ligne . . . 
enfin par ce moyen nous nous remismes sur une ligne 
parallele a celle des Anglais.' Finally, in summing 
up the tactical lesson of the stupendous battle, he 
concludes : ' A la ve'rite' 1'ordre admirable de leur [the 
English] armee doit toujours etre imite', et pour moi 
je sais bien que si j'e"tais dans le service de mer, et 
que je commandasse des vaisseaux du Roi je 
songerois a battre les Anglois par leur propre 
maniere et non par ceile des Hollandoises, et de 
nous autres, qui est de vouloir aborder' In 
defence of his view he cites a military analogy, 
instancing a line of cavalry, which being controlled 
' avec regie ' devotes itself solely to making the 
opposing force give way, and keeps as close an eye 
on itself as on the enemy. Supposing such a line 
engaged against another body of horse in which the 
squadrons break their ranks and advance unevenly 
to the charge, such a condition, he says, would not 
promise success to the latter, and the parallel he 
contends is exact. 1 

From this account by an accomplished student 

1 Mlmoires d'Armand de Gramont, Comte de Guichc, concer- 
nant les Provinces Unis des Pays-Bas servant de supplement et de 
confirmation a ceux d' Aubrey du Maurier et du Comte d'Estrades. 



120 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

of tactics we may deduce three indisputable con- 
clusions, i. That the formation in line ahead 
was aimed at the development of gun power as 
opposed to boarding. 2. That it was purely 
English, and that, however far Dutch tacticians had 
sought to imitate it, they had not yet succeeded in 
forcing it on their seamen. 3. That the English 
certainly fought in line, and had reached a perfection 
in handling the formation which could only have 
been the result of constant practice in fleet tactics. 

It remains to consider the precisely opposite 
impression we get from English authority. To 
begin with, we find on close examination that the 
whole of it, or nearly so, is to be traced to Pepys or 
Penn. The locus classicus is as follows from 
Pepys's Diary of July 4th. ' In the evening Sir W. 
Penn came to me, and we walked together and 
talked of the late fight. I find him very plain, that 
the whole conduct of the late fight was ill. . . He 
says three things must be remedied, or else we 
shall be undone by their fleet, i. That we must 
fight in line, whereas we fight promiscuously, to our 
utter demonstrable ruin : the Dutch fighting other- 
wise, and we whenever we beat them. 2. We 
must not desert ships of our own in distress, as we 
did, for that makes a captain desperate, and he will 
fling away his ship when there are no hopes left him 
of succour. 3. That ships when they are a little 
shattered must not take the liberty to come in of 
themselves, but refit themselves the best they can and 
stay out, many of our ships coming in with very 
little disableness. He told me that our very com- 
manders, nay, our very flag officers, do stand in need 
of exercising amongst themselves and discoursing 

Londres, chez Philippe Changuion, 1 744. (The italics are not in 
the original.) Cf. the similar French account quoted by Mahan, 
Sea Power, 1 1 7 et seq. 



PEPYS AND PENN 121 

the business of commanding a fleet, he telling me 
that even one of our flag men in the fleet did not 
know which tack lost the wind or kept it in the 
last engagement. ... He did talk very rationally 
to me, insomuch that I took more pleasure this 
night in hearing him discourse than I ever did in 
my life in anything that he said.' 

Pepys's enjoyment is easily understood. He 
disliked Penn thought him a ' mean rogue/ a 
' coxcomb,' and a ' false rascal,' but he was very sore 
over the supersession of his patron, Sandwich, and 
so long as Penn abused Monck, Pepys was glad 
enough to listen to him, and ready to believe any- 
thing he said in disparagement of the late battle. 
Penn was no less bitter against Monck, and when 
his chief, the Duke of York, was retired he had 
sulkily refused to serve under the new commander- 
in-chief. For this reason Penn had not been present 
at the action, but he was as ready as Pepys to 
believe anything he was told against Monck, and we 
may be sure the stories of grumbling officers lost 
nothing when he repeated them into willing ears. 
That Penn really told Pepys the English had not 
fought in line is quite incredible, even if he was, as 
Sir George Carteret, treasurer of the navy, called 
him, ' the falsest rascal that ever was in the world.' 
The fleet orders and the French testimony make 
this practically impossible. But he may well have ex- 
pressed himself very hotly about the new instruction 
issued by Monck and Rupert which modified his 
own, and placed the destruction of the enemy 
above a pedantic adherence to the line. Pepys 
must clearly have forgotten or misunderstood what 
Penn said on this point, and in any case both 
men were far too much prejudiced for the passage 
to have any historical value. Abuse of Monck by 
Penn can have little weight enough, but the same 



122 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

abuse filtered through Pepys's acrid and irresponsible 
pen can have no weight at all. 1 



THE DUKE OF YORK, April 10, 1665. 
[Sir Edward Spragge's Sea Eook. The Earl of Dartmouth MSS. ] 

James, Duke of York and Albany, Earl of Ulster, 
Lord High Admiral of England and Ireland, 
&c., Constable of Dover Castle, Lord Warden of 
the Cinque Ports, and Governor of Portsmouth. 

Instructions for the better ordering his majesty s fleet 
in time of fighting. 

Upon discovery of a fleet receiving a sign from 
the admiral, which is to be striking of the admiral's 
ensign, and making a weft, one frigate appointed out 
of each squadron are to make sail and stand in with 
them so nigh as conveniently they may, the better 
to gain a knowledge of what they are and what 
quality, how many fireships and others, and in what 
posture the fleet is ; which being done the frigates 
are to meet together and conclude on the report 
they are to give, and accordingly to repair to their 
respective squadrons and commanders-in-chief, and 
not engage if the enemy's ships exceed them in 

1 Cf. a similar conversation that Pepys had on October 28 
with a certain Captain Guy, who had been in command of a 
small fourth-rate of thirty- eight guns in Holmes's attack on the 
shipping at Vlie and Shelling after the ' St. James's Fight ' and 
of a company of the force that landed to destroy Bandaris. The 
prejudice of both Pepys and Penn comes out still more strongly 
in their remarks on Monck's and Rupert's great victory of July 25, 
and their efforts to make out it was no victory at all. The some- 
what meagre accounts we have of this action all point as before 
to the superiority of the English manoeuvring, and to the inability 
or unwillingness of the Dutch, and especially of Tromp, to pre- 
serve the line. 



DUKE OF YORK, 1665 123 

number, except it shall appear to them on the place 
that they have an advantage. 

2. At the sight of the said fleet the vice-admiral, 
or he that commands in chief in the second place, 
and his squadron, and the rear-admiral, or he that 
commands in chief in the third place, and his 
squadron are to make what sail they can to come up 
and put themselves into the place and order which 
shall have been directed them before in the order of 
battle. 

3. As soon as they shall see the admiral engage 
or shall make a signal by shooting off two guns and 
putting out a red flag on the fore topmast-head, that 
then each squadron shall take the best advantage 
they can to engage with the enemy according to the 
order prescribed. 

4. If any squadron shall happen to be over- 
charged and distressed, the next squadron or ships 
are immediately to make towards their relief and 
assistance upon a signal given them : which signal 
shall be in the admiral's squadron a pennant on the 
fore topmast-head ; if any ship in the vice-admiral's 
squadron, or he that commands in chief in the 
second place, a pennant on the main topmast-head ; 
and the rear-admiral's squadron the like. 1 

5. If any ship shall be disabled or distressed by 
loss of masts, shot under water or the like, so as she 
is in danger of sinking or taking, he or the [ship] 
thus distressed shall make a sign by the weft of his 
jack and ensign, and those next to them are strictly 
required to relieve them. 1 

6. That if any ship shall be necessitated to bear 
away from the enemy to stop a leak or mend what 
else is amiss, which cannot otherwise be repaired, he 
is to put out a pennant on the mizen yard-arm or on 

1 Modified by Article 8 of the 'Additional Instructions, 'post, 
p. 127. 



124 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

the ensign staff, whereby the rest of the ship's 
squadron may have notice what it is for and if it 
should be that the admiral or any flagships should 
do so, the ships of the fleet or of the respective 
squadrons are to endeavour to get up as close in a 
line between him and the enemy as they can, having 
always an eye to defend him in case the enemy 
should come to annoy him in that condition. 

7. If the admiral should have the wind of the 
enemy and that other ships of the fleet are in the 
wind of the admiral, then upon hoisting up a blue 
flag at the mizen yard or mizen topmast, every such 
ship is then to bear up into his wake or grain upon 
pain of severe punishment. If the admiral be to 
leeward of the enemy, and his fleet or any part there- 
of to leeward of him, to the end such ships may come 
up into a line with the admiral, if he shall put 
abroad a flag as before and bear up, none that are to 
leeward are to bear up, but to keep his or their ship 
or ships luff, thereby to gain his wake or grain. 

8. If the admiral would have any of the ships to 
make sail or endeavour by tacking or otherwise to 
gain the wind of the enemy, he will put up a red flag 
upon the spritsail, topmast shrouds, forestay, or 
fore topmast-stay. He that first discovers this signal 
shall make sail, and hoist and lower his jack and 
ensign, that the rest of the ships may take notice 
thereof and follow. 

9. If we put a red flag on the mizen shrouds or 
the mizen yard-arm, we would have all the flagships 
to come up in the wake or grain of us. 

10. If in time of fight God shall deliver any of 
the enemy's ships into our power by their being 
disabled, the commanders of his majesty's ships in 
condition of pursuing the enemy are not during 
fight to stay, take, possess, or burn any of them, 
lest by so doing the opportunity of more important 



DUKE OF YORK, 1665 125 

service be lost, but shall expect command from the 
flag officers for doing thereof when they shall see fit 
to command it. 

11. None shall fire upon ships of the enemy 
that is laid on board by any of our own ships but so 
as he may be sure he doth not endamage his friends. 

12. That it is the duty of all commanders and 
masters of the small frigates, ketches and smacks 
belonging to the several squadrons to know the 
fireships belonging to the enemy, and accordingly 
by observing their motion do their utmost to cut off 
their boats if possible, or if opportunity be that they 
lay them on board, seize and destroy them, and for 
this purpose they are to keep to wind[ward] of the 
squadron in time of service. But in case they cannot 
prevent the fireships from coming aboard of us by 
clapping between them and us, which by all means 
possible they are to endeavour, that then in such case 
they show themselves men in such an exigent and 
steer on board them, and with their boats, grapnels, 
and other means clear them from us, and destroy 
them ; which service if honourably done to its merit 
shall be rewarded, and the neglect thereof strictly 
and severely called to an account. 

13. That the fireships in every squadron endea- 
vour to keep the wind, and they, with the small 
frigates, to be as near the great ships as they can, to 
attend the signal from the admiral and to act ac- 
cordingly. If the admiral hoist up a white flag at 
the mizen yard-arm or topmast-head all the small 
frigates of his squadron are to come under his stern 
for orders. 

14. If an engagement by day shall continue 
till night, and the admiral shall please to anchor, 
that upon signal given they all anchor in as good 
order as may be, the signal being as in the Instruc- 
tions for Sailing ; and if the admiral please to retreat 



126 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

without anchoring, then the sign to be by firing of two 
guns, so near one to the other as the report may be 
distinguished, and within three minutes after to do 
the like with two guns more. 

15. If, the fleet going before the wind, the 
admiral would have the vice-admiral and the ships 
of the starboard quarter to clap by the wind and 
come to their starboard tack, then he will hoist 
upon the mizen topmast-head a red flag, and in case 
he would have the rear-admiral and the ships on 
the larboard quarter to come to their larboard tack 
then he will hoist up a blue flag in the same place. 

1 6. That the commander of any of his 
majesty's ships suffer not his guns to be fired until 
the ship be within distance to [do] good execution ; 
the contrary to be examined and severely punished 
by the court-martial. 

THE DUKE OF YORK, April 10 or 18, 1665. 
[Sir Edward Spragge's Sea Book. 1 ] 

Additional Instructions for Fighting. 

1. In all cases of fight with the enemy the 
commanders of his majesty's ships are to en- 
deavour to keep the fleet in one line, and as much 
as may be to preserve the order of battle which shall 
have been directed before the time of fight. 2 

2. If the enemy stay to fight us, we having the 
wind, the headmost squadron of his majesty's fleets 
shall steer for the headmost of the enemy's ships. 

3. If the enemy have the wind of us and come 
to fight us, the commanders of his majesty's fleet 

1 Also in Moulton's Sea Book, Han. MSS. 1247, f- 5 2 > but are 
there dated April 18, differently numbered, and signed 'James.' 

2 This is Article 17 of the complete set, which was modified 
by Rupert's subsequent order of 1666. See p. 130. 



ADDITIONAL, 1665 127 

shall endeavour to put themselves in one line close 
upon a wind, 

4. In the time of fight in reasonable weather, 
the commanders of his majesty's fleet shall endea- 
vour to keep about the distance of half a cable's 
length one from the other, 1 but so as that accord- 
ing to the discretion of the commanders they vary 
that distance according as the weather shall be, 
and the occasion of succouring our own or assaulting 
the enemy's ships shall require. 

5. The flag officers shall place themselves ac- 
cording to such order of battle as shall be given. 

6. None of the ships of his majesty's fleet 
shall pursue any small number of ships of the 
enemy before the main [body] of the enemy's fleet 
shall be disabled or shall run. 

7. In case of chase none of his majesty's fleet 
or ships shall chase beyond sight of the flag, and at 
night all chasing ships are to return to the flag. 

8. In case it shall please God that any of his 
majesty's ships be lamed in fight, not being in pro- 
bability of sinking nor encompassed by the enemy, 
the following ships shall not stay under pretence of 
securing them, but shall follow their leaders and 
endeavour to do what service they can upon the 
enemy, leaving the securing of the lame ships to the 
sternmost of our ships, being [assured] that nothing 
but beating the body of the enemy's fleet can 
effectually secure the lame ships. This article is to 
be observed notwithstanding any seeming contradic- 
tion in the fourth or fifth articles of the [fighting] 
instructions formerly given. 

9. When the admiral would have the van of his 
fleet to tack first, the admiral will put abroad the 

1 It is interesting to note that the distance adopted by 
D'Estre"es and Tourville for the French service was a full cable. 
See Hoste, p. 65. 



128 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

union flag at the staff of the fore topmast-head if the 
red flag be not abroad ; but if the red flag be abroad 
then the fore topsail shall be lowered a little, and the 
union flag shall be spread from the cap of the fore 
topmast downwards. 

10. When the admiral would have the rear of 
the fleet to tack first, the union flag shall be put 
abroad on the flagstaff of the mizen topmast-head ; 
and for the better notice of these signals through the 
fleet, each flagship is upon sight of either of the 
said signals to make the said signals, that so every 
ship may know what they are to do, and they are to 
continue out the said signals until they be answered. 
Given under my hand the loth of April, 1665, from 
on board the Royal Charles. 

By command of his royal highness. 

WM. COVENTRY. 



THE DUKE OF YORK'S SUPPLEMENTARY 
ORDER, April 27, 1665. 

[Penn's Tracts, Sloane MSS. 3232, f. 83.] 

Additional Instructions for Fighting 1 

[i.] When the admiral would have all the ships 
to fall into the order of 'Battailia' prescribed, the 
union flag shall be put into the mizen peak of 
the admiral ship ; at sight whereof the admirals 
of [the] other squadrons are to answer it by doing 
the like. 

[2.] When the admiral would have the other 
squadrons to make more sail, though he himself 
shorten sail, a white ensign shall be put on the 
ensign staff of the admiral ship. 

1 This is preceded by an additional ' Sailing Instruction,' with 
signals for cutting and slipping by day or night. 



PRINCE RUPERT, 1666 129 

For Chasing \ l 

[i.] When the admiral shall put a flag striped 
with white and red upon the fore topmast-head, the 
admiral of the white squadron shall send out ships 
to chase ; when on the mizen topmast-head the 
admiral of the blue squadron shall send out ships 
to chase. 

[2.] If the admiral shall put out a flag striped 
with white and red upon any other place, that ship 
of the admiral's own division whose signal for call 
is a pennant in that place shall chase, excepting 
the vice-admiral and rear-admiral of the admiral's 
squadron. 

[3.] If a flag striped red and white upon the 
main topmast shrouds under the standard, the vice- 
admiral of the red is to send ships to chase. 

If the flag striped red and white be hoisted on 
the ensign staff the rear-admiral of the red is to 
send ships to chase. 

On board the Royal Charles, 27 April, 1665. 

PRINCE RUPERT, 1666. 
[Sir Edward Spragge's Sea Book.] 

Additional Instructions for Fighting. 

i st. In case of an engagement the commander 
of every ship is to have a special regard to the 
common good, and if any flagship shall, by any 
accident whatsoever, stay behind or [be] likely to 
lose company, or be out of his place, then all and 
every ship or ships belonging to such flag is to 

1 Also in Capt. Moulton's Sea Book (Hart. MSS. 1 247, p. 5 1^), 
headed 'James Duke of York &c. Additional Instructions for 
Sailing.' At foot it has 'given under my hand on board the 
Royal Charles this 24 of April, 1665. James,' and the articles are 
numbered 9 to 12, No. 3 above forming n and 12. 

K 



1 30 THE SECOND DUTCH WAR 

make all the way possible to keep up with the 
admiral of the fleet and to endeavour the utmost 
that may be the destruction of the enemy, which is 
always to be made the chiefest care. 

This instruction is strictly to be observed, not- 
withstanding the seventeenth article in the Fighting 
Instructions formerly given out. 1 

2ndly. When the admiral of the fleet makes a 
weft with his flag, the rest of the flag officers are to 
do the like, and then all the best sailing ships are to 
make what way they can to engage the enemy, that 
so the rear of our fleet may the better come up ; 
and so soon as the enemy makes a stand then they 
are to endeavour to fall into the best order they 
can. 2 

3rdly. If any flagship shall be so disabled as not 
to be fit for service, the flag officer or commander of 
such ship shall remove himself into any other ship 
of his division at his discretion, and shall there 
command and wear the flag as he did in his own. 

RUPERT. 

For Sir Edward Spragge, Knt., vice-admiral of 
the blue squadron. 

1 Meaning, of course, Article i of the ' Additional Instructions' 
of April 18, 1665, which would be No. 17 when the orders were 
collected and reissued as a complete set. No copy of the com- 
plete set to which Rupert refers is known to be extant. 

2 It should be noted that this instruction anticipates by a 
century the favourite English signals of the Nelson period for 
bringing an unwilling enemy to action, i.e. for general chase, and 
for ships to take suitable station for neutral support and engage 
as they get up. 



PART VI 

THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 
TO THE REVOLUTION 

I. THE DUKE OF YORK, 1672-3 
II. SIR JOHN NARBROUGH, 1678 
III. THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH, 1688 



K 2 



I 

PROGRESS OF TACTICS DURING THE 
THIRD DUTCH WAR 

INTRODUCTORY 

FOR the articles issued by the Duke of York at the 
outbreak of the Third Dutch War in March 1672 
we are again indebted to Lord Dartmouth's naval 
manuscripts. They exist there, copied into the 
beginning of an ' Order Book ' which by internal 
evidence is shown to have belonged to Sir Edward 
Spragge. It is similar to the so-called ' Royal 
Charles Sea Book,' and is nearly all blank, but con- 
tains two orders addressed by Rupert to Spragge, 
April 29 and May 22, 1673, an d a resolution of the 
council of war held on board the Royal Charles on 
May 27, deciding to attack the Dutch fleet in the 
Schoonveldt and to take their anchorage if they 
retired into Flushing. 

The orders are not dated, but, as they are 
signed ' James ' and countersigned ' M. Wren,' their 
date can be fixed to a time not later than the 
spring of 1672, for Dr. Matthew Wren, F.R.S., 
died on June 14 in that year, having served as the 
lord admiral's secretary since 1667, when Coventry 
resigned his commissionership of the navy. They 
consist of twenty-six articles, which follow those ot 
the late war so closely that it has not been thought 
worth while to print them except in the few cases 
where they vary from the older ones. 



1 34 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

They are accompanied however in the ' Sea 
Book ' by three ' Further Instructions,' which do 
not appear in any previous set. They are of the 
highest importance and mark a great stride in naval 
tactics, a stride which owing to Granville Penn's 
error is usually supposed to have been taken in the 
previous war. For the first time they introduced 
rules for engaging when the two fleets get contact on 
opposite tacks, and establish the much-abused system 
of stretching the length of the enemy's line and then 
bearing down together. But it must be noted that 
this rule only applies to the case where the fleets are 
approaching on opposite tacks and the enemy is to 
leeward. There is also a peremptory re-enunciation 
of the duty of keeping the line and the order enforced 
by the penalty of death for firing ' over any of our 
own ships.' Here then we have apparently a return 
to the Duke of York's belief in formal tactics, and 
it is highly significant that, although the twenty-six 
original articles incorporate and codify all the other 
scattered additional orders of the last war, they 
entirely ignore those issued by Monck and Rupert 
during the Four Days' Battle. 

We have pretty clear evidence of the existence 
at this period of two schools of tactical opinion, 
which after all is no more than experience would 
lead us to suspect, and which Pepys's remarks have 
already indicated. As usual there was the school, 
represented by the Duke of York and Penn, which 
inclined to formality, and by pedantic insistence on 
well-meant principles tended inevitably to confuse 
the means with the end. On the other hand we 
have the school of Monck and Rupert, which was 
inclined anarchically to submit all rules to the 
solvent of hard fighting, and to take tactical risks and 
unfetter individual initiative to almost any extent 
rather than miss a chance of overpowering the 



THE TWO SCHOOLS 135 

enemy by a sudden well-timed blow. Knowing as 
we do the extent to which the principles of the Duke 
of York's school hampered the development of 
fleet tactics till men like Hawke and Nelson broke 
them down, we cannot but sympathise with their 
opponents. Nor can we help noting as curiously 
significant that whereas it was the soldier-admirals 
who first introduced formal tactics, it was a sea- 
man's school that forced them to pedantry in the 
face of the last of the soldier-school, who tried to 
preserve their flexibility, and keep the end clear in 
view above the means they had invented. 

Still it would be wrong to claim that either 
school was right. In almost every department of 
life two such schools must always exist, and nowhere 
is such conflict less inevitable than in the art of 
war, whether by sea or land. Yet just as our com- 
paratively high degree of success in politics is the 
outcome of the perpetual conflict of the two great 
parties in the state, so it is probably only by the 
conflict of the two normal schools of naval thought 
that we can hope to work out the best adjusted 
compromise between free initiative and concentrated 
order. 

It was the school of Penn and the Duke of 
York that triumphed at the close of these great 
naval wars. The attempt of Monck and Rupert to 
preserve individual initiative and freedom to seize 
opportunities was discarded, and for nearly a century- 
formality had the upper hand. Yet the Duke of 
York must not be regarded as wholly hostile to ini- 
tiative or unwilling to learn from his rivals. The 
second and most remarkable of the new instructions 
acquits him. This is the famous article in which was 
first laid down the principle of cutting off a part of 
the enemy's fleet and ' containing' the rest. 

Though always attributed to the Duke of York 



136 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

it seems almost certainly to have been suggested 
by the tactics of Monck and Rupert on the last day 
of the Four Days' Battle, June 4, 1666. According 
to the official account, they sighted the Dutch early 
in the morning about five leagues on their weather- 
bow, with the wind at SSW. ' At eight o'clock,' it con- 
tinues, ' we came up with them, and they having the 
weather-gage put themselves in a line to windward 
of us. Our ships then which were ahead of Sir 
Christopher Myngs [who was to lead the fleet] 
made an easy sail, and when they came within a 
convenient distance lay by ; and the Dutch fleet 
having put themselves in order we did the like. 
Sir Christopher Myngs, vice-admiral of the prince's 
fleet, with his division led the van. Next his 
highness with his own division followed, and then 
Sir Edward Spragge, his rear-admiral ; and so 
stayed for the rest of the fleet, which came up in 
very good order. By such time as our whole fleet 
was come up we held close upon a wind, our star- 
board tacks aboard, the wind SW and the enemy 
bearing up to fall into the middle of our line with 
part of their fleet. At which, as soon as Sir Chris- 
topher Myngs had their wake, he tacked and stood 
in, and then the whole line tacked in the wake of 
him and stood in. But Sir C. Myngs in fighting 
being put to the leeward, the prince thought fit to 
keep the wind, and so led the whole line through 
the middle of the enemy, the general [Monck] with 
the rest of the fleet following in good order.' 

The account then relates how brilliantly Rupert 
fought his way through, and proceeds, ' After this 
pass, the prince being come to the other side and 
standing out, so that he could weather the end of 
their fleet, part of the enemy bearing up and the 
rest tacking, he tacked also, and his grace [Monck] 
tacking at the same time bore up to the ships to the 



DIVIDING MANOEUVRE 137 

leeward, the prince following him ; and so we 
stood along backward and forward, the enemy 
being some to windward and some to leeward of us ; 
which course we four times repeated, the enemy 
always keeping the greatest part of their fleet to 
windward, but still at so much distance as to be 
able to reach our sails and rigging with their shot 
and to keep themselves out of reach of our guns, the 
only advantage they thought fit to take upon us 
at this time. But the fourth time we plying them 
very sharply with our leeward guns in passing, their 
windward ships bore up to relieve their leeward 
party ; upon which his highness tacked a fifth time 
and with eight or ten frigates got to the windward 
of the enemy's whole fleet, and thinking to bear in 
upon them, his mainstay and main topmast being 
terribly shaken, came all by the board.' Monck 
not being able to tack for wounded masts ' made up 
to the prince,' and then the Dutch, after a threat to 
get between the two admirals, suddenly bore away 
before the wind for Flushing. 1 

The manoeuvre by which Myngs attempted 
from to windward to divide the enemy's fleet and 
so gain the wind of part of it seems to be exactly 
what the new instruction contemplated, while its 
remarkable provision for a containing movement 
seems designed to prevent the disastrous confusion 
that ensued after the Dutch line had been broken. 
This undoubtedly is the great merit of the new in- 
struction, and it is the first time, so far as is known, 
that the principle of containing was ever enunciated. 
In this it compares favourably with everything we 
know of until Nelson's famous memorandum. Its 
relations to Rodney's and Howe's manoeuvres for 
breaking the line must be considered later. For 

1 The original draft corrected by Lord Addington, principal 
secretary of state, is in S.P. Domestic, Car. II, 158. 



138 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

the present it will suffice to note that it seems 
designed rather as a method of gaining the wind 
than as a method of concentration, and that the 
initiation of the manoeuvre is left to the discretion 
of the leading flag officer, and cannot be signalled 
by the commander-in-chief. 

As to the date at which these three ' Further 
Instructions ' were first drawn up there is some 
difficulty. It is possible that they were not entirely 
new in 1672, but that their origin, at least in design, 
went back to the close of the Second War. In 
Spragge's first ' Sea Book ' there is another copy of 
them identical except for a few verbal differences 
with those in the second ' Sea Book.' In the first 
' Sea Book ' they appear on the back of a leaf con- 
taining some ' Sailing Instructions by the Duke of 
York,' which are dated November 16, 1666, and this 
is the latest date in the book. Moreover in this 
copy they are headed 'Additional Instructions to be 
observed in the next engagement,' as though they 
were the outcome of a previous action. Now, as 
Wren died on June 10 (o.s.), and the battle of Sole- 
bay, the first action of the Third War, was fought 
on May 28 (o.s.), it is pretty clear that it must have 
been the Second War and not the Third that was 
in Spragge's mind at the time. Still if we have to 
put them as early as November 1666 it leaves the 
question much where it was. Besides the idea of 
containing the main body of the enemy after cutting 
off part of his fleet, the death penalty for firing 
over the line is obviously designed to meet certain 
regrettable incidents known to have occurred in the 
Four Days' Battle. Nor is there any evidence that 
they were used in the St. James's fight of July 25, 
and as this was the last action in the war fought, 
the ' next engagement ' did not take place till 
the Third War. It is fairly clear therefore that we 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 '39 

must regard these remarkable orders as resulting 
from the experience of the Second War, and as 
having been first put in force during the Third one. 

After the battle of Solebay these supplementary 
articles were incorporated into the regular instruc- 
tions as Articles 27 to 29. This appears from a 
MS. book belonging to Lord Dartmouth entitled 
' Copies of instructions and other papers relating to 
the fleets. Anno 1672.' It contains a complete copy 
of both Sailing and Fighting Instructions, with a 
detailed ' order of sailing ' for the combined Anglo- 
French fleet, dated July 2, 1672, and a correspond- 
ing ' order of battle ' dated August 1672. It also 
contains the flag officers' reports made to the Duke 
of York after the battle. 

Instructions for the ' Encouragement for the cap- 
tains and companies of fireships, small frigates, and 
ketches,' now appear for the first time, and were 
repeated in some form or other in all subsequent 
orders. 

Finally, it has been thought well to reprint from 
Granville Penn's Memorials of Penn the complete 
set of articles which he gives in Appendix L. No 
date is attached to them ; Granville Penn merely says 
they were subsequent to 1665, and has thereby left 
an unfortunate impression, adopted by himself and 
almost every naval historian, both British and 
foreign, that followed him, that they were used in 
the campaign of 1666, that is, in the Second Dutch 
War. From the fact however that they incorporate 
the 'Further Instructions for Fighting' counter- 
signed by Wren, we know that they cannot have 
been earlier than 1667, while the newly discovered 
MS. of Lord Dartmouth makes it practically certain 
they must have been later than August 1672. We 
may even go further. 

For curiously enough there is no evidence that 



140 

these orders, on which so much doubtful reasoning 
has been based, were ever in force at all as they 
stand. No signed copy of them is known to exist. 
The copy amongst the Penn papers in the British 
Museum which Granville Penn followed is a draft 
with no signature whatever. It is possible therefore 
that they were never signed. In all probability they 
were completed by James early in 1673 for the coming 
campaign, but had not actually been issued when, 
in March of that year, the Test Act deprived him 
of his office of lord high admiral, and brought his 
career as a seaman to an end. What orders were 
used by his successor and rival Rupert is unknown. 
Of even higher interest than this last known set 
of the Duke of York's orders are certain additions 
and observations which were subsequently appended 
to them by an unknown hand. As it has been 
found impossible to fix with certainty either their 
date or author, I have given them by way of notes 
to the text. They are to be found in a beautifully 
written and richly bound manuscript in the Admiralty 
Library. At the end of the volume, following the 
Instructions, are diagrammatic representations of 
certain actions in the Third Dutch War, finely 
executed in water-colour to illustrate the formation 
for attack, and to every plan are appended tactical 
notes relating to the actions represented, and to others 
which were fought in the same way. The first 
one dealt with is the ' St. James's Fight,' fought 
on July 25, 1666, and the dates in the tactical notes, 
as well as in the ' Observations ' appended to the 
articles, range as far as the last action fought in 
1673. The whole manuscript is clearly intended as 
a commentary on the latest form of the duke's orders, 
and it may safely be taken as an expression of some 
tactician's view of the lessons that were to be drawn 
from his experience of the Dutch Wars. 



THE ADMIRALTY MS. 141 

As to the authorship, the princely form in which 
the manuscript has been preserved might suggest 
they were James's own meditations after the war ; 
but the tone of the ' Observations,' and the curious 
revival of the word ' general ' for ' commander-in- 
chief,' are enough to negative such an attribution. 
Other indications that exist would point to George 
Legge, Lord Dartmouth. His first experience of 
naval warfare was as a volunteer and lieutenant 
under his cousin, Sir Edward Spragge, in 1665. 
Spragge was in fact his ' sea-daddy,' and with one 
exception all the examples in the ' Observations ' are 
taken from incidents and movements in which 
Spragge was the chief actor. One long observation 
is directed to precautions to be taken by flag officers 
in shifting their flags in action, so as to prevent a 
recurrence of the catastrophe which cost Spragge 
his life. Indeed, with the exception of Jordan, 
Spragge is the only English admiral mentioned. 
Dartmouth was present at all the actions quoted, 
and succeeded in constituting himself a sufficient 
authority on naval affairs to be appointed in 1683 
to command the first important fleet that was sent 
out after the termination of the war. These indi- 
cations however are far too slight to fix him with 
the authorship, and his own orders issued in 1688 
go far to rebut the presumption. 1 

Another possible author is Arthur Herbert, 
afterwards Lord Torrington. He too had served 
a good deal under Spragge, and had been present 
at all the battles named. This conjecture would 
explain the curious expression used in the observa- 
tion to the seventh instruction, ' The battle fought in 
1666.' There was of course more than one battle 
fought in 1666, but Herbert was only present in 
that of July 25th, the ' St. James's Fight,' represented 
1 See/ew/, p. 170. 



142 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

in the manuscript and it was his first action. But 
here again all is too vague for more than a mere 
guess. 

But whoever was the author, the manuscript is 
certainly inspired by someone of position who had 
served in the last two Dutch Wars, and its unde- 
niable importance is that it gives us clearly the 
development of tactical thought which led to the 
final form of Fighting Instructions adopted under 
William III, and continued till the end of the 
eighteenth century. The developments which it 
foreshadows will therefore be best dealt with when 
we come to consider those instructions. For the 
present it will be sufficient to note the changes 
suggested. In the first place we have a desire to 
simplify signals and to establish repeating ships. 
Secondly, for the sake of clearness the numbering of 
the articles is changed, every paragraph to which a 
separate signal is attached being made a separate 
instruction, so that with new instructions we have 
thirty-three articles instead of James's twenty -four. 
Thirdly, we have three new instructions proposed : 
viz., No. 5, removing from flag officers the right 
to divide the enemy's fleet at their discretion 
without, signal from the admiral ; No. 8, giving a 
signal for any squadron that has weathered part of 
the enemy by dividing or otherwise to bear down 
and come to close action ; and No. 17, for such a 
squadron to bear down through the enemy's line 
and rejoin the admiral. All of these rules are 
obviouslv the outcome of known incidents in the 

j 

late war. There are also suggested additions or 
alterations to the old articles to the following 
effect : ( i ) When commanders are in doubt or 
out of sight of the admiral, they are to press the 
headmost ships of the enemy all they can ; (2) 
When the enemy ' stays to fight ' they are to con- 



CONCENTRATION ON THE VAN 143 

centrate on his weathermost ships, instead of his 
headmost, as under the old rule ; (3) Finally, while 
preserving the line, they are to remember that their 
first duty is ' to press the weathermost ships and 
relieve such as are in distress.' 

It is this last addition to the Duke of York's 
sixteenth article that contains the pith of the author's 
ideas. All his examples are chosen to show that 
the system of bearing down together from wind- 
ward in a line parallel to that of the enemy is 
radically defective, even if all the advantages of 
position and superior force are with you, and for this 
reason that if you succeed in defeating part of the 
enemy's line you cannot follow up your success with 
the victorious part of your own without sacrificing 
your advantage of position, and giving the enemy 
a chance of turning the tables on you. Thus, if your 
rear defeats the enemy's rear and follows it up, 
your own line will be broken, and as your rear in 
pressing its beaten opponents falls to leeward of the 
enemy's centre and van it will expose itself to a fatal 
concentration. His own view of the proper form of 
attack from windward is to bear down upon the van 
or weathermost ships of the enemy in line ahead on 
a course oblique to the enemy's line. In this way, he 
points out, you can concentrate on the ships attacked, 
and as they are beaten you can deal with the next 
in order. For so long as you keep your own line 
intact and in good order, regardless of your rear being 
at first too distant to engage, you will always have 
fresh ships coming into action at the vital point, and 
will thus be able gradually to roll up the enemy's 
line without ever disturbing your own order. 
Fortifying himself with the reflection that ' there 
can be no greater justification than matter of fact,' 
he proceeds to instance various battles in the late 
wars to show that this oblique form of attack always 



i 4 4 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

led to a real victory, whereas whenever the parallel 
form was adopted, though in some cases we had 
everything in our favour and had fairly beaten the 
Dutch, yet no decisive result was obtained. 

From several points of view these observations 
are of high interest. Not only do they contain the 
earliest known attempt to get away from the un- 
satisfactory method of engaging in parallel lines 
ship to ship, but in seeking a substitute for it they 
seem to foreshadow the transition from the Eliza- 
bethan idea of throwing the enemy into confusion 
to the eighteenth century idea of concentration on 
his most vulnerable part. In so far as the author 
recommends a concentration on the weathermost 
ships his idea is sound, as they were the most 
difficult for the enemy to support ; but since the 
close-hauled line had come in, they were also the 
van, and a concentration on the van is theoretically 
unsound, owing to the fact that the centre and rear 
came up naturally to its relief. To this objection he 
appears to attach no weight, partly because no 
doubt he was still influenced by the old intention of 
throwing the enemy into confusion. 1 For since the 
line ahead had taken the place of the old close for- 
mations it seemed that to disable the leading ships 
came to the same thing as disabling the weather- 
most. The solution eventually arrived at was of 
course a concentration on the rear, but to this at 
the time there were insuperable objections. The 
rear was normally the most leewardly end of the 
line, and an oblique attack on it could be parried by 
wearing together. The rear then became the van, 
and the attack if persisted in would fall on the lead- 
ing squadron with the rest of the fleet to windward 
the worst of all forms of attack. The only possible 
way therefore of concentrating on the rear was to 
1 Cf. Hoste's second Remark, post., p. 180. 



CONCENTRATION ON THE VAN 145 

isolate it and contain the van by cutting the line. 
But in the eyes of our author and his school cutting 
the line stood condemned by the experience of 
war. 1 

In his ' Observations ' he clearly indicates the 
reasons. He would indeed forbid the manoeuvre 
altogether except when your own line outstretches 
that of the enemy, or when you are forced to pass 
through the enemy's fleet to save yourself from 
being pressed on a lee shore. The reasons given 
are the disorder it generally causes, the ease with 
which it is parried, and the danger of your own 
ships firing on each other when as the natural con- 
sequence of the manoeuvre they proceed to double 
on the enemy. The fact is that fleet evolutions 
were still in too immature a condition for so diffi- 
cult a manoeuvre to be admissible. Presumably 
therefore our author chose the attack on the 
weathermost ships, although they were also the 
van, as the lesser evil in spite of its serious draw- 
backs. 

The whole question of the principles involved in 
his suggestion is worthy of the closest consideration. 
For the difficulty it reveals of effecting a sound form 
of concentration without breaking the line as well as 
of adopting any form that involved breaking the line 
gives us the key of that alleged reaction of tactics 
in the eighteenth century which has been so widely 
ridiculed. 

1 In the Instructions which Sir Chas. H. Knowles drew up 
about 1780, for submission to the Admiralty he has at p. 16 a 
remark upon rear concentration which helps us to see what was 
in the author's mind. It is as follows : ' N.B. In open sea the 
enemy (if of equal force) will never suffer you to attack their rear, 
but will pass you on opposite tacks to prevent your doing it : there- 
for the attempt is useless and only losing time.' 



146 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

THE DUKE OF YORK, 1672. l 
[Spragge's Second Sea Book. Dartmouth MSS.] 

Instructions for the better ordering of his majesty's 
fleet in fighting. 

1. Discovery of a fleet, striking the admiral's 
flag and making a weft. 2 

2. To come into the order of battle. 2 

3. A red flag on the fore topmast-head, to 
engage. 2 

4. If overcharged or distressed, a pennant. 2 

5. Ditto, a weft with his jack and ensign. 2 

6. A pennant on the mizen peak or ensign staff 
if any ship bear away from the enemy to stop a leak. 

If any ship shall be necessitated to bear away 
from the enemy to stop a leak or mend what is 
amiss which cannot otherwise be repaired, he is to 
put out a pennant on the mizen peak or ensign 
staff, whereby the rest of that ship's squadron may 
have notice what it is for ; and if the admiral or any 
flagship should be so, the ships of the fleet or of the 
respective squadrons are to endeavour to get up as 
close in line between him and the enemy as they 
can, having always an eye to defend him in case the 
enemy should come to annoy him in that condition ; 
and in case any flagship or any other ship in the 
fleet shall be forced to go out of the line for stopping 
of leaks or repairing any other defects in the ships, 
then the next immediate ships are forthwith to 
endeavour to close the line either by making or 
shortening sail, or by such other ways and means 

1 This set of orders has marginal rubrics indicating the con- 
tents of each article, and where the article does not differ from 
the orders of 1665 I have given the rubric only in the text. 

2 Identical with corresponding article of April 10, 1665. 



DUKE OF YORK, 1672 147 

as they shall find most convenient for doing of it ; 
and if any ship, be it flagship or other that shall 
happen to be disabled and go out of the line, then 
all the small craft shall come in to that ship's assist- 
ance, upon signal made of her being disabled. If 
any of the chief flagships or other flagships shall 
happen to be so much disabled as that thereby they 
shall be rendered unable for present service, in such 
case any chief flag officer may get on board any 
other ship which he may judge most convenient in 
his own squadron, and any other flag officer in that 
case may go on board any ship in his division. 

7. A blue flag on the mizen yard or topmast. 1 

8. To make sail, a red flag on the spritsail, 
topmast shrouds, &C. 1 

9. A red flag on the mizen shrouds, to come into 
the wake or grain of us. 1 

10. Not to endanger one another. 2 

11. The small craft to attend the motion of the 
enemy's fireships. 2 

12. A white flag on the mizen yard-arm or 
topmast-head, all the small frigates of the admiral's 
squadron. 2 

13. To retreat, four guns. 2 

14. None to fire guns till within distance. 3 

15. For the larboard and starboard tacks. 4 

1 6. To keep the line. 5 

17. If we have the wind of the enemy. 5 

1 8. If the enemy have the wind of us. 5 

1 Same as corresponding article of April 10, 1665. Article 10 
of those instructions relating to ' not staying to take possession 
of disabled ships ' is here omitted. 

2 These four articles are identical with n, 12, 13 and 14 of 
April 10, 1665. 

3 Same as Article 16 of April 10, 1665. 

4 Same as Article 15 of April 10, 1665. 

5 These three articles are the same as i, 2, and 3, of ' Ad- 
ditional Instructions' of April 18, 1665. The complete set used 

L 2 



148 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

19. The distance of each ship in time of fight. 1 

20. Not to pursue any small number of the 
enemy's ships. 2 

21. For leaving chase. 2 

22. If any ship be disabled in fight. 2 

23. The van of the fleet to tack first. 2 

24. The rear of the fleet to tack first. 2 

25. To fall into the order of battle. 3 

26. To make sail. 3 

JAMES. 
By command of his royal highness. 

M. WREN. 



THE DUKE OF YORK'S SUPPLEMENTARY 
ORDERS, 1672. 

[Spragge's Second Sea Book. Dartmouth MSS.j 

Further Instructions for Fighting. 

i. To keep the enemy to leeward. 

In case we have the wind of the enemy, and that 
the enemy stands towards us and we towards them, 
then the van of our fleet shall keep the wind, and 
when the rear comes 4 " to a convenient distance of the 
enemy's rear shall stay until our whole line is come 
up within the same distance of the enemy's van, 
and then our whole line is to stand along with them 
the same tacks on board, still keeping the enemy to 
leeward, and not suffering them to tack in the van, 

by Monck and Rupert in 1666 must have been numbered as 
above. 

1 Same as 4 and 5 of ' Additional Instructions,' April 18, 1665. 

2 These five articles are the same as 6 to 10 of the 'Additional 
Instructions,' April 18, 1665. 

3 These two articles are the same as the two ' Additional 
Instructions' of April 27, 1665. 

4 This must be a copyist's error. In Lord Dartmouth's MS. 
book (see ante, p. 139) it reads ' when they are come.' 



DUKE OF YORK, 1672 149 

and in case the enemy tack in the rear first, then he 
that leads the van of our fleet is to tack first, and 
the whole line is to follow, standing all along with 
the same tacks on board as the enemy does. 

2. To divide the enemy's fleet. 

In case the enemy have the wind of us and we 
have sea-room enough, then we are to keep the 
wind as close as we can lie until such time as we 
see an opportunity by gaining their wakes to divide 
their fleet ; and if the van of our fleet find that they 
have the wake of any part of them, they are to tack 
and to stand in, and strive to divide the enemy's 
body, and that squadron which shall pass first being 
come to the other side is to tack again, and the 
middle squadron is to bear up upon that part of the 
enemy so divided, which the last is to second, either 
by bearing down to the enemy or by endeavouring 
to keep off those that are to windward, as shall be 
best for service. 

3. To keep the line. 

The several commanders of the fleet are to take 
special care that they keep their line, and upon pain 
of death that they fire not over any of our own 
ships. 

(Signed) JAMES. 
By command of his royal highness. 

(Signed) M. WREN. 



THE DUKE OF YORK, 1672-3. 
[Spragge's Second Sea Book. Dartmouth MSS.] 

Encouragement for the captains and companies 
of fireships, small frigates and ketches. 

Although it is the duty of all persons employed 
in his majesty's fleet even to the utmost hazard of 



ISO THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

their lives to endeavour as well the destroying 
of his majesty's enemies, as the succouring of his 
majesty's subjects, and in most especial manner to 
preserve and defend his majesty's ships of war (the 
neglect whereof shall be at all times strictly and 
severely punished), nevertheless, that no inducement 
may be wanting which may oblige all persons 
serving in his majesty's service valiantly and honour- 
ably to acquit themselves in their several stations, 
we have thought fit to publish and declare, and do 
hereby promise on his majesty's behalf: 

That if any of his majesty's fireships perform the 
service expected of them in such manner that any 
of the enemy's ships of war of forty guns or more 
shall be burnt by them, every person remaining in 
the fireship till the service be performed shall 
receive on board the admiral, immediately after the 
service done, ten pounds as a reward for that 
service over and above his pay due to him ; and in 
case any of them shall be killed in that service it 
shall be paid to his executors or next relation over 
and above the ordinary provision made for the. 
relations of such as are slain in his majesty's service ; 
and the captains of such fireships shall receive a 
medal of gold to remain as a token of honour to 
him and his posterity, and shall receive such other 
encouragement by preferment and command as 
shall be fit to reward him, and induce others to 
perform the like service. The inferior officers shall 
receive each ten pounds in money and be taken care 
of, and placed in other ships before any persons 
whatsoever. 

In case any of the enemy's flagships shall be 
so fired, the recompense shall be double to each 
man performing it, and the medal to the com- 
mander shall be such as shall particularly express 
the eminence of the service, and his and the other 



DUKE OF YORK, 1672-3 151 

officers' preferments shall be suitable to the merit 
of it. 

If any of his majesty's fifth or sixth rate frigates, or 
any ketches, smacks or hoys in his majesty's service, 
shall board or destroy any fireships of the enemy, 
and so prevent any of them from going on board 
any of his majesty's ships, above the fifth rate, 
besides the preferment which shall be given to the 
commanders and officers of such ships performing 
such service answerable to the merit, the companies 
of such ships or vessels, or in case they shall be 
killed in that service, their executors or nearest 
relations, shall receive to every man forty shillings 
as a reward, and such persons who shall by the 
testimony of the commanders appear to have been 
eminently instrumental in such service shall receive 
a further reward according to their merit. 

If the masters of any ketches, hoys, smacks, and 
other vessels hired for his majesty's service shall 
endeavour to perform any of the services aforesaid, 
and shall by such his attempt lose his vessel or 
ship, the full reward thereof shall be paid by the 
treasurer of his majesty's navy, upon certificate of 
the service done by the council of war, and the said 
commanders and men serving in her shall receive the 
same recompense with those serving in his majesty's 
ships or vessels. 

JAMES. 1 

By command of his royal highness. 

1 In Capt. Moulton's Sea Book (Harkian MSS. 1247, f. 53) 
is another copy of these articles which concludes, 'given on 
board the Royal Charles the 2oth of April 1665. James.' And at 
foot is written ' a copy of His Royal Highness's command received 
from his Excellency the Earl of Sandwich.' They probably there- 
fore originated in the Second War and were reissued in the 
Third. 



152 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 



FINAL FORM OF THE DUKE OF YORK'S 
ORDERS, 1673. 

With the additions and observations subsequently made. 1 
[G. Penn, Memorials of Penn.] 

James, Duke of York and Albany, Earl of Ulster, 
Lord High Admiral of England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, Constable of Dover Castle, Lord War- 
den of the Cinque Ports, and Governor of Ports- 
mouth, &c. 

Instructions for the better ordering his majesty s 
fleet in fighting. 

Instruction I. Upon discovery of a fleet, and 
receiving of a signal from the admiral (which is to 
be the striking of the admiral's ensign, and making 
a weft), such frigates as are appointed (that is to 
say, one out of each squadron) are to make sail, 
and to stand with them, so nigh as they can con- 
veniently, the better to gain knowledge what they 
are, and of what quality ; how many fireships, and 
others ; and what posture their fleet is in ; which 
being done, the frigates are to speak together, 

1 The later Admiralty MS. is prefaced by the following 
Observation : ' There have happened several misfortunes and dis- 
putes for want of a sufficient number of signals to explain the 
general's pleasure, without which it is not to be avoided ; and 
whereas it hath often happened for want of a ready putting forth 
and apprehending to what intent the signals are made, they are 
contracted into a shorter method so that no time might be lost. 
It is most certain that in all sea battles the flags or admiral- 
generals are equally concerned in any conflict, and no manner of 
knowledge can be gained how the rest of the battle goes till such 
time as it is past recovery. To prevent this let a person fitly 
qualified command the reserve, who shall by signals make known 
to the general in what condition or posture the other parts of the 
fleet are in, he having his station where the whole can best be 
discovered, and his signals, answering the general's, may also be 
discerned by the rest of the fleet.' 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 153 

and conclude on the report they are to give ; and, 
accordingly, to repair to their respective squadrons 
and commanders-in-chief ; and not to engage (if the 
enemy's ships exceed them in number), unless it 
shall appear to them on the place that they have an 
advantage. 

Instruction II. At sight of the said fleet, the 
vice-admiral (or he who commands in chief in the 
second place), with his squadron ; and the rear- 
admiral (or he who commands in chief in the third 
squadron), with his squadron ; are to make what 
sail they can to come up, and to put themselves into 
that order of battle which shall be given them ; for 
which the signal shall be the union flag put on the 
mizen peak of the admiral's ship ; at sight whereof, 
as well the vice- and rear-admirals of the red 
squadron, as the admirals, vice-admirals, and rear- 
admirals of the other squadrons, are to answer it by 
doing the like. 

Instruction III. In case the enemy have the 
wind of the admiral and fleet, and they have sea- 
room enough, then they are to keep the wind as 
close as they can lie, until such time as they see an 
opportunity by gaining their wakes to divide the 
enemy's fleet ; and if the van of his majesty's fleet 
find that they have the wake of any considerable 
part of them, they are to tack and stand in, and 
strive to divide the enemy's body ; and that squadron 
that shall pass first, being got to windward, is to 
bear down on those ships to leeward of them ; and 
the middle squadron is to keep her wind, and to 
observe the motion of the enemy's van, which the 
last squadron is to second ; and both of these 
squadrons are to do their utmost to assist or relieve 
the first squadron that divided the enemy's fleet. 1 

1 The Admiralty MS. has this Observation : ' Unless you can 
outstretch their headmost ships there is hazard in breaking 



154 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

Instruction IV. If the enemy have the wind of 
his majesty's fleet, and come to fight them, the 
commanders of his majesty's ships shall endeavour 
to put themselves in one line, close upon a wind, 
according to the order of battle. 1 

Instruction V. If the admiral would have any of 
the fleet to make sail, or endeavour, by tacking or 
otherwise, to gain the wind of the enemy, he will put 
a red flag upon the spritsail [sic], topmast shrouds, 
fore-stay, fore topmast-stay ; and he who first dis- 
covers this signal shall make sail, and hoist and 
lower his jack and ensign, that the rest of the fleet 
may take notice thereof and follow. 2 

through the enemy's line, and [it] commonly brings such dis- 
orders in the line of battle that it may be rather omitted unless 
an enemy press you near a lee shore. For if, according to this 
instruction, when you have got the wind you are to press the 
enemy, then those ships which are on each side of them shall 
receive more than equal damages from each other's shot if near, 
and in case the enemy but observed the seventh instruction that 
is, to tack with equal numbers with you then is your fleet divided 
and not the enemy's. 

1 The Admiralty MS. here inserts an additional instruction, 
numbered 5, as follows : ' If in time of fight any flagship or 
squadron ahead of the fleet hath an opportunity of weathering 
any of the enemy's ships, they shall put abroad the same signal 
the general makes them for tacking, which, if the general would 
have them go about, he will answer by giving the same again, 
otherwise they are to continue on the same line or station.' 

Observation. ' For it may prove not convenient in some cases 
to break the line.' 

2 The Admiralty MS. adds, c And as soon as they have the 
wind to observe what other signals the general makes ; and in case 
they lose sight of the general, they are to endeavour to press the 
headmost ships of the enemy all they can, or assist any of ours 
that are annoyed by them.' The whole makes Instruction VI. 
of the Admiralty MS. An Observation is attached to the old 
instruction as follows: 'This signal was wanting in the battle 
fought irth August, 1673. The fourth squadron followed this 
instruction and got the wind of the enemy about four in the after- 
noon, and kept the wind for want of another signal to bear down 
upon the enemy, as Monsieur d'Estrees alleged at the council of 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 155 

Instruction VI. 1 If the admiral should have the 
wind of the enemy when other ships of the fleet are 
in the wind of the admiral, then, upon hoisting up 
a blue flag at the mizen yard, or mizen topmast, 
every ship is to bear up into his wake or grain, 
upon pain of severe punishment. 

If the admiral be to leeward of the enemy, and 
his fleet or any part thereof be to leeward of him, to 
the end such ships that are to leeward may come up 
in a line with the admiral (if he shall put a flag as 
before and bear up) ; none that are to leeward are 
to bear up, but to keep his or their ship's luff, 
thereby to give his ship wake or grain. 

If it shall please God that the enemy shall be 
put to run, all the frigates are to make all the sail 
that possibly they can after them, and to run 
directly up their broadsides, and to take the best 
opportunity they can of laying them on board ; and 
some ships which are the heavy sailers (with some 
persons appointed to command them) are to keep 
in a body in the rear of the fleet, that so they may 

war the next day. For want of this the enemy left only five or 
six ships to attend their motion, and pressed the other squadrons 
of ours to such a degree they were forced to give way.' Cf. note, 
p. 181. 

1 The Admiralty MS. makes of the three paragraphs of this 
instruction three separate instructions, numbered 7, 9, and 10, 
and inserts after the first paragraph a new instruction numbered 
8, with an Observation appended. It is as follows : Additional 
Instruction, No. VIII. : ' When any of his majesty's ships that 
have gained the wind of the enemy, and that the general or 
admiral would have them bear down and come to a close fight, 
he will put abroad the same signal as for their tacking, and hoist 
and lower the same till it be discerned ; at which, they that are 
to windward shall answer by bearing down upon the enemy. 
Observation. The same in the battle of Solebay, Sir Joseph 
Jordan got the wind and kept it for want of a signal or fireships.' 
This Observation appears to be intended as a continuation of the 
previous one, the new inscruction supplies the missing signal there 
referred to. 



156 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

take care of the enemy's ships which have yielded, 
and look after the manning of the prizes. 1 

Instruction VII. 2 In case his majesty's fleet 
have the wind of the enemy, and that the enemy 
stand towards them, and they towards the enemy, 
then the van of his majesty's fleet shall keep the 
wind ; and when they are come within a convenient 
distance from the enemy's rear, they shall stay until 
their whole line is come up within the same distance 
from the enemy's van ; and then their whole line is 
to tack (every ship in his own place), and to bear 
down upon them so nigh as they can (without endan- 
gering their loss of wind) ; and to stand along with 
them, the same tacks aboard, still keeping the enemy 
to leeward, and not suffering them to tack in their 
van ; and in case the enemy tack in the rear first, he 
who is in the rear of his majesty's is to tack first, with 
as many ships, divisions, or squadrons as are those 
of the enemy's ; and if all the enemy's ships tack, 



1 The Admiralty MS. has this Observation : The 2 8th May, 
'73, the battle fought in the Schooneveld, the rear-admiral of 
their fleet commanded by Bankart (? Adriaen Banckers) upon a 
signal from De Ruyter gave way for some time, and being 
immediately followed by Spragge and his division, it proved only 
a design to draw us to leeward, and that De Ruyter might have 
the advantage of weathering us. So that for any small number 
giving way it is not safe for the like number to go after them, but 
to press the others which still maintain the fight according to the 
article following.' 

2 No. 1 1 in the Admiralty MS. with the following Observation : 
' In bearing down upon an enemy when you have the wind, or 
standing towards them .and they towards you, if it is in your 
power to fall upon any part of their ships, those to windward will 
be the most exposed; therefore you must use your utmost 
endeavour to ruin that part. The battle fought in 1666, the 
headmost or winderly ships were beaten in three hours and put to 
run before half the rest of the fleet were engaged. We suffered 
the like on the 4th of June, for Tromp and De Ruyter never bore 
down to engage the body of our fleet, but pressed the leading ships 
where Spragge and his squadron had like to have been ruined.' 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 157 

their whole line is to follow, standing along with the 
same tacks aboard as the enemy doth. 

Instruction VIII. 1 If the enemy stay to fight 
(his majesty's fleet having the wind), the head- 
most squadron of his majesty's fleet shall steer for 
the headmost of the enemy's ships. 2 

Instruction IX. 3 If, when his majesty's fleet is 
going before the wind, the admiral would have the 
vice-admiral and the ships of the starboard quarter 
to clap by the wind and come to their starboard 
tack, then he will hoist upon the mizen topmast-head 
a red flag. 

And in case he would have the rear-admiral and 
the ships of the larboard quarter to come to their 
larboard tack, then he will hoist up a blue flag in 
the same place. 

Instruction X. 4 If the admiral would have the van 
of the fleet to tack first, he will put abroad the union 
flag at the staff on the fore topmast-head, if the red 
flag be not abroad ; but if the red flag be abroad, then 
the fore topsail shall be lowered a little, and the 
union flag shall be spread from the cap of the fore 
topmast downwards. 

1 Admiralty MS. No. 12. 

2 For ' headmost of the enemy's ships ' the Admiralty MS. 
has ' windmost ships of the enemy's fleet, and endeavour all that 
can be to force them to leeward.' Also this Observation : ' It 
may happen that the headmost of their fleet may be the most 
leewardly, then in such case you are to follow this instruction, 
whereas before it was said to stand with the headmost ships of the 
enemy.' 

3 Admiralty MS. Nos. 13 and 14. It has the Observation : 
' This ought to be for each squadron apart.' 

4 Admiralty MS. Nos. 15 and 16. To the first paragraph, or 
No. 1 5, it has the Observation : ' It may happen that by the 
winds shifting there may be neither van nor rear; then in 
that case a signal for each squadron would be better understood, 
so that you are to follow the i4th and i5th of the "Sailing 
Instructions." For in the battle of August '73 the wind shifted 
and put the whole line out of order.' 



158 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

When the admiral would have the rear of the 
fleet to tack first, the union flag shall be put abroad 
on the flagstaff of the mizen topmast-head ; and for 
the better notice of these two signals through the 
fleet, each flagship is, upon sight of either of the said 
signals, to make the same signals, that so every ship 
may know what they are to do ; and they are to con- 
tinue out the same signals until they be answered. 1 

Instruction XL 2 If the admiral put a red flag 
on the mizen shrouds, or the mizen peak, all the 
flagships are to come up into his wake or grain. 

Instruction XII. 2 When the admiral would have 
the other squadrons to make more sail, though him- 
self shorten sail, a white ensign shall be put on the 
ensign staff of the admiral's ships. 

Instruction XIII. 2 As soon as the fleet shall see 
the admiral engage, or make a signal, by putting 
out a red flag on the fore topmast-head, each 
squadron shall take the best advantage to engage 
the enemy, according to such order of battle as shall 
be given them. 

Instruction XIV. 2 In time of fight, if the weather 
be reasonable, the commanders of his majesty's 
fleet shall endeavour to keep about the distance of 
half a cable one from another ; but so as they may 
also (according to the direction of their commanders) 
vary that distance, as the weather shall prove, and 
as the occasion of succouring any of his majesty's 
ships or of assaulting those of the enemy shall 
require. 

And as for the flag officers, they shall place 

1 The Admiralty MS. here inserts a new article, No. 17: 'If the 
general would have those ships to windward of the enemy to bear 
down through their line to join the body of the fleet, he will put 
abroad a white flag with a cross from corner to corner where it 
can best be discovered.' 

2 Admiralty MS. Nos. 1 8 to 23. 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 159 

themselves according to such order of battle as 
shall be given. 

Instruction XV. 1 No commander of any of his 
majesty's ships shall suffer his guns to be fired until 
the ship be within distance to do good execution ; 
and whoever shall do the contrary shall be strictly 
examined, and severely punished, by a court-martial. 

Instruction XVI. 1 In all cases of fight with the 
enemy, the commanders of his majesty's ships are 
to keep the fleet in one line, and (as much as may be) 
to preserve the order of battle which they have 
been directed to keep before the time of fight. 2 

Instruction XVII. 3 None of the ships of his 
majesty's fleet shall pursue any small number of the 
enemy's ships before the main body of their fleet 
shall be disabled, or run. 

Instruction XVIII. 3 None shall fire upon the 
ships of the enemy's that are laid on board by any 
of his majesty's ships, but so as he may be sure he 
do not endamage his friend. 

Instruction XIX. 3 The several commanders in 
the fleet are to take special care, upon pain of 
death, that they fire not over any of their own 
ships. 

Instruction XX. 4 It is the duty of all com- 
manders of the small frigates, ketches, and smacks, 



1 Admiralty MS. Nos. 18 to 23. 

2 Admiralty MS. adds : ' having regard to press the weather- 
most ships and relieve such as are in distress.' It is worth 
noting that this important relaxation of strict line tactics practi- 
cally embodies the idea of Rupert's Additional Instruction of 1666. 
Supra, p. 129. 

3 Admiralty MS. Nos. 24 to 26. 

4 Admiralty MS. No. 27. It adds this Observation: 'When 
the fleet is to leeward of the enemy you to take care to put 
yourself in such a station as that you may (when any signal is 
given) without loss of time tack and stand in to the line. And 
when any part of the fleet or ships wherein you are concerned are 



160 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

belonging to the several squadrons (who are not 
otherwise appointed by the admiral), to know the 
fireships belonging to the enemies, and accordingly 
observing their motion, to do their utmost to cut 
off their boats (if possible) ; or, if they have 
an opportunity, to lay them on board, seize, and 
destroy them ; and, to this purpose, they are to 
keep to windward of their squadron, in time of 
service. But in case they cannot prevent the fire- 
ships from coming on board of his majesty's ships, 
by clapping between them (which by all possible 
means they are to endeavour), they are in such an 
exigent to show themselves men, by steering on 
board them with their boats, and, with grapnels and 
other means, to clear his majesty's ships from them, 
and to destroy them. Which service, if honourably 
performed, shall be rewarded according to its merit ; 
but if neglected, shall be strictly examined, and 
severely punished. 1 

Instruction XXI. 2 The fireships in the several 
squadrons are to endeavour to keep the wind ; and 
they (with their small frigates) to be as near the 
great ships as they can, attending the signal from 
the admiral, and acting accordingly. 

If the admiral hoist up a white flag at the mizen 
yard-arm or topmast-head, all the small frigates in 
his squadron are to come under his stern for orders. 

Instruction XXII. 3 In case it should please 
God that any ships of his majesty's fleet be lamed 
in fight, and yet be in no danger of sinking, nor 
encompassed by the enemy, the following ships 

ordered to tack and gain the wind of the enemy, you are to make 
all the sail you can and keep up with the headmost ships that 
first tack.' 

1 Admiralty MS. ' Observation : The reward of saving a friend 
to be equal to that of destroying an enemy.' 

2 Admiralty MS. Nos. 28 and 29. 

3 Admiralty MS. No. 30. 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 161 

shall not stay, under pretence of succouring them, 
but shall follow their leaders, and endeavour to do 
what service they can against the enemy ; leaving 
the succouring of the lame ships to the sternmost of 
the fleet ; being assured that nothing but beating 
the body of the enemy's fleet can effectually secure 
the lame ships. 

Nevertheless, if any ship or ships shall be dis- 
tressed or disabled, by loss of mast, shot under 
water, or the like, so that it is really in danger of 
sinking or taking ; that or those ship or ships thus 
distressed shall make a sign by the weft of his or 
their jack or ensign, and those next to them are 
strictly required to relieve them. 

And if any ships or squadron shall happen to 
be overcharged or distressed, the next squadron, or 
ships, are immediately to make towards their relief 
and assistance. 

And if any ship shall be necessitated to bear 
away from the enemy, to stop a leak, or mend what 
is amiss (which cannot otherwise be repaired), he 
is to put a pennant on the mizen peak, or ensign 
staff, whereby the rest of that ship's squadron may 
have notice what it is for. 

If the admiral or any flagship should be so, 
then the ships of the fleet, or of the respective 
squadrons, are to endeavour to get up as close into 
a line between him and the enemy as they can ; 
having always an eye to defend him in case the 
enemy should come to annoy him in that con- 
dition. 

And in case any flagship, or any other ship in 
the fleet, shall be forced to go out of the line, for 
stopping of leaks, or repairing of any other defect, 
then the next immediate ships are forthwith to 
endeavour to close the line again, either by making 
or shortening sail, or by such other ways and means 

M 



1 62 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

as they shall find most convenient for doing of it ; 
and all the small craft shall come in to that ship's 
assistance, upon a signal made of her being dis- 
abled. 

And if any of the chief flagships, or other flag- 
ships shall happen to be so much disabled as that 
they shall be unfit for present service, in such a 
case any chief flag officer may go on board any 
other ship of his own squadron, as he shall judge 
most convenient ; and any other flag officer, in 
that case, may go on board any ship in his divi- 
sion. 1 

Instruction XXIII. 2 In case of fight, none of 
his majesty's ships shall chase beyond sight of the 
admiral ; and at night all chasing ships are to return 
to the fleet. 

Instruction XXIV. 3 If any engagement by day 
shall continue till night, and the admiral shall please 
to anchor, all the fleet are, upon a signal, to anchor, 
in as good order as may be, which signal will be the 
same as in the ' Instructions for Sailing' (vid. Instr. 
XVIII.) ; that is to say, the admiral fires two guns, 
a small distance one from another, &c. 

1 The Admiralty MS. has the Observation : ' In changing 
ships be as careful as you can not to give the enemy any 
advantage or knowledge thereof by striking the flag. In case of 
the death of any flag officer, the flag to be continued aloft till the 
fight be over, notice to be given to the next commander-in-chief, 
and not to bear out of the line unless in very great danger. It 
hath been observed what very great encouragement the bare 
shooting of an admiral's flag gives the enemy, but this may be 
prevented by taking in all the flags before going to engage. It 
was the ruin of Spragge in the battle of August '73 by taking his 
flag in his boat, which gave the enemy an opportunity to discover 
his motion, when at the same [time] we saw three flags flying on 
board the main topmast-head of three ships which Tromp had 
quitted.' 

z Admiralty MS. No. 31. 

3 Admiralty MS. Nos. 32 and 33. 



DUKE OF YORK, 1673 163 

And if the admiral please to retreat without 
anchoring, then he will fire four guns, one after 
another, so as the report may only be distinguished ; 
and about three minutes after he will do the like 
with four guns more. 1 

1 The Admiralty MS. has the Observation : f By reason that 
guns are not so well to be distinguished at the latter end of a 
battle from those of the enemy, sky-rockets would be proper 
signals.' This appears to be the earliest recorded suggestion for 
the use of rockets for naval signalling. 



M 2 



1 64 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 



II 
MEDITERRANEAN ORDERS, 1678 

INTRODUCTORY 

IN 1677 Narbrough had been sent for the 
second time as commander-in-chief to the Medi- 
terranean, to deal with the Barbary corsairs. To 
enable him to operate more effectively against 
Tripoli, arrangements were on foot to establish a 
base for him at Malta, and meanwhile he had been 
using the Venetian port of Zante. It was at this 
time that Charles II, in a last effort to throw off the 
yoke of Louis XIV, had married his eldest niece, the 
Princess Mary, to the French king's arch-enemy 
William of Orange, and relations between France 
and England were at the highest tension. Pre- 
parations were set on foot in the British dockyards 
for equipping a ' grand fleet ' of eighty sail ; on 
February 15 was issued a new and enlarged com- 
mission to Narbrough making him ' admiral of his 
majesty's fleet in the Straits ' ; Sicily, which the 
French had occupied, was hurriedly evacuated ; 
Duquesne, who commanded the Toulon squadron, 
was expecting to be attacked at any moment, and 
Colbert gave him strict orders to keep out of the 
British admiral's way. 1 

1 Corbett, England in the Mediterranean, ii. 97-104. The 
official correspondence will be found in Mr. Tanner's Calendar of 
the Pepys MSS., vol. i., and in the Lettres de Colbert, vol. iii. 



NARBROUGH, 1678 165 

It will be seen that it was in virtue of his new 
commission, and in expectation of encountering a 
superior French force, that Narbrough issued his 
orders, and they may be profitably compared with 
those of Lord Sandwich on the eve of the Second 
Dutch War as the typical Fighting Instructions for 
a small British fleet. No collision however occurred ; 
for Louis could not face the threatened coalition 
between Spain, Holland, and England, and was 
forced to assent to a general peace, which was signed 
at Nymwegen in the following September. 



SIR JOHN NARBROUGH, 1678. 
[Egerton MSS. 2543, f. 239.] 

Sir John Narbrougk, Knight, admiral of his 
majesty's fleet in the Mediterranean seas for 
this expedition. 

Instructions for all commanders to place their ships 
for their better fighting and securing the whole 
fleet if a powerful enemy sets upon us. 

When I hoist my union flag at the mizen peak, 
I would have every commander in this fleet place 
himself in order of sailing and battle as prescribed, 
observing his starboard and larboard ship and leader, 
either sailing before or by the wind, and so continue 
sailing in order so long as the signal is abroad. 

In case a powerful squadron of ships falls with 
our fleet, and will fight us, and we see it most 
convenient to fight before the wind, and the enemy 
follow us, I would have every commander place his 
ships in this order of sailing prescribed as followeth, 
and so continue sailing and fighting, doing his 
utmost to annoy the enemy, so long as shall be 
required for defence of himself and whole fleet. 



- 

o . ^ 

, 



1 66 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

Larboard side. Portsmouth frigate. 
Newcastle frigate. 

Samuel and Henry ... 30 

Advice ...... 20 

Diamond. 

Friendship . . . . . 12 

Lion ...... 20 

Bonaventure . . . . . 1 1 

John and Joseph io 

Pearl frigate. 

Return ...... io 

Benjamin and Elizabeth . . 14 

Concord ..... 26 

Fountain ..... 8 

Leopard .... 20 

Boneto sloop, Baltam'. 1 

Plymouth, Admiral. 

Spragge frigate, Batchelor. 1 

St. Lucar Merchant ... 20 

Prosperous ..... 30 

Sapphire frigate. 

Mary and Martha .... 30 

Delight ..... 9 

Olive Branch . . . . io 

Italian Merchant .... 30 

Tiger 30 

James galley. 

Dragon . . . . . 18 

Samuel and Mary .... 24 

Mediterranean . . . . 16 

James Merchant .... 20 
King-fisher frigate. 

Starboard side. Portland frigate. 

1 Neither Baltimore nor Batchelor nor any similar names of 
commissioned officers occur in Pepys's Navy List, 1660-88. 
Tanner, op. cit. 



NARBROUGH, 1678 167 

In case the enemy be to leeward of us, and 
force us to fight by the wind, then I would have 
each ship in this fleet to follow each other in a line 
as afore prescribed, either wing leading the van as 
the occasion shall require. 

In case I would have the van to tack first (in 
time of service) I will spread the union flag at the 
flagstaff at the fore topmast-head, and if I would 
have the rear of the fleet to tack first I will spread 
the union flag at the flagstaff at the mizen topmast- 
head, each commander being [ready] to take notice 
of the said signals, and to act accordingly, following 
each other as prescribed, and be careful to assist 
and relieve any that is in necessity. 

In case of separation by foul weather, or by 
any inevitable accident, and the wind blows hard 
westerly, then Zante Road is the place appointed for 
rendezvous. 

Given under my hand and on board his 
majesty's ship Plymouth, at an anchor in Zante 
Road. 

This 4th of May, 1678. 

JOHN NARBROUGH. 



1 68 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 



III 
THE LAST STUART ORDERS 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE next set of orders we have are those drawn 
up by George Legge, first Lord Dartmouth, for 
the fleet with which he was entrusted by James II, 
to prevent the landing of William of Orange in 
1688. The only known copy of them is in the 
Sloane MSS. 3650. It is unfortunately not com- 
plete, the last few articles with the date and signa- 
ture being missing, so that there is no direct 
evidence that it related to this fleet. There can 
however be no doubt about the matter. For it is 
followed by the battle order of a fleet in which both 
ships and captains correspond exactly with that 
which Dartmouth commanded in 1688. The only 
other fleet which he commanded was that which in 
1683 proceeded to the Straits to carry out the 
evacuation of Tangier, and it was not large enough 
to require such a set of instructions. 

We know moreover that in this year he did 
actually draw up some Fighting Instructions, shortly 
after September 24, the day his commission was 
signed, and that he submitted them to King James 
for approval. On October 14 Pepys, in the course 
of a long official letter to him from the admiralty, 
writes : ' His majesty, upon a very deliberate perusal 
of your two papers, one of the divisions of your fleet 
and the other touching your line of battle, does 



LORD DARTMOUTH, 1688 169 

extremely approve the same, commanding me to 
tell you so.' 1 

Lord Dartmouth's articles follow those which 
James had last drawn up in 1673 almost word for 
word, and the only alterations of any importance all 
refer to the handling of the line in action. There 
can be practically no doubt therefore that we here 
have the instructions which Pepys refers to, and 
that the new matter relating to the line of battle 
originated with Dartmouth, as the result of a 
considerable experience of naval warfare. After 
leaving Cambridge he joined, at the age of 17, the 
ship of his cousin, Sir Edward Spragge, and served 
with him as a volunteer and lieutenant throughout 
the Second Dutch War. In 1667, before he was 20, 
he commanded the Pembroke, and in 1671 the Fair- 
fax, in Sir Robert Holmes's action with the Dutch 
Smyrna fleet, and in the battle of Solebay. In 
1673 he commanded the Royal Catherine (84), and 
served throughout Rupert's campaign with distinc- 
tion. Since then, as has been said, he had success- 
fully conducted the evacuation of Tangier. If on 
this occasion he needed advice he had at hand some 
of the best, in the person of his flag officers, Sir 
Roger Strickland and Sir John Berry, two of the 
most seasoned old ' tarpaulins ' in the service, and 
both in high estimation as naval experts with 
James. 

The amendments introduced into these instruc- 
tions, although not extensive, point to a continued 
development. We note first that James's Articles 
3 and 4 are combined in Dartmouth's Article 3, 
so as to ensure the close-hauled line being formed 
before any attempt is made to divide the enemy's 
fleet. No such provision existed in the previous 

1 Dartmouth MSS. (Historical MSS. Commission, XI. v. 
1 60.) 



1 70 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

instructions. Another noteworthy change under 
the new article is that, whether by intention or not, 
any commander of a ship is given the initiative in 
weathering a part of the enemy's fleet if he sees 
an opportunity. If this was seriously intended it 
seems to point to a reaction to the school of Monck 
and Rupert, perhaps under Spragge's influence. 
Dartmouth's next new article, No. 5, for reforming 
line of battle as convenient, regardless of the 
prescribed order of battle, points in the same 
direction. 

The only other change of importance is the note 
inserted in the sixth article, in which Dartmouth lays 
his finger on one of the weak points in James's 
method of attack from windward by bearing down 
all together, and suggests a means by which the 
danger of being raked as the ships come down may 
be minimised. 



LORD DARTMOUTH, Oct. 1688. 
[Sloane MSS. 3650, ff. 7-11.] 

George, Lord Dartmouth, admiral of his majesty's 
fleet for the present expedition. 

Instructions for the better ordering his majesty s fleet 
in flghting. 

i and 2. [Same as in Duke of York's, 1673.] 
3. If the enemy have the wind of his majesty's 
fleet, and come to fight them, the commanders of 
his majesty's ships shall endeavour to put them- 
selves into one line as close upon a wind as they 
can lie, according to the order of battle given, until 
such time as they shall see an opportunity by gain- 
ing their wakes to divide the enemy's fleet, &c. 
\rest as in Article 3 of 1673]. 



LORD DARTMOUTH, 1688 171 

4. [Same as 5 of 1673.] l 

5. If the admiral should have the wind of the 
enemy, when other ships of the fleet are in the wind 
of the admiral, then upon hoisting up a blue flag at 
the mizen yard or mizen topmast, every such ship is 
to bear up into his wake or grain upon pain of 
severe punishment. In this case, whether the line 
hath been broke or disordered by the shifting of the 
wind, or otherwise, each ship or division are not 
unreasonably to strive for their proper places in the 
first line of battle given, but they are to form a line, 
the best that may be with the admiral, and with all 
the expedition that can be, not regarding what 
place or division they fall into or between. 

. If the admiral be to leeward of the enemy, &c. 
[rest as in 6 of 1673]. 

6. In case his majesty's fleet have the wind of 
the enemy, and that the enemy stands towards them 
and they towards the enemy, then the van of his 
majesty's fleet shall keep the wind, and when they are 
come at a convenient distance from the enemy's rear 
they shall stay until their own whole line is come up 
within the same distance from the enemy's van ; and 
then the whole line is to tack, every ship in his own 
place, and to bear down upon them so nigh as they 
can without endangering the loss of the wind [Note 
that they are not to bear down all at once, but to 
observe the working of the admiral and to bring to 
as often as he thinks fit, the better to bring his fleet 
to fight in good order ; and at last only to lask 
away 2 when they come near within shot towards the 
enemy as much as may be, and not bringing their 
heads to bear against the enemy's broadsides] and 
to stand along with them the same tacks on board, 

1 Article 4 of 1673 is omitted, being included in Article 3 above. 

2 To sail with a quartering wind. Morogues urged this pre- 
caution a century later (Tactique Navale, p. 209). 



172 THE THIRD DUTCH WAR 

still keeping the enemy to leeward, and not suffering 
them to tack in their van. And in case the enemy 
tack in the rear first, he who is in the rear of his 
majesty's fleet is to tack first with as many ships or 
divisions as are those of the enemy's, and if all the 
enemy's ships tack, their whole line is to follow, 
standing along with the same tacks aboard as the 
enemy doth. 

7 to 9. [Same as 8 to 10 of 1673.] 

10. [Same as n of 1673, but with yellow flag 
instead of red.~\ 

11. When the admiral would have the other 
divisions to make more sail, though himself shorten 
sail, a white ensign shall be put on the ensign staff 
for the vice-admiral, a blue for the rear, and for both 
a striped. 

12. As soon as the fleet shall see the admiral 
engage or make a signal by putting out a red flag 
on the fore topmast-head, each division shall take 
the best advantage they can to engage the enemy, 
according to such order of battle as shall be given 
them, and no ship or division whatsoever is upon 
any pretence to lie by to fight or engage the enem'y 
whereby to endanger parting the main body of the 
fleet till such time as the whole line be brought to 
fight by this signal. 

13 to 18. [Same as 14 to 19 of 1673.] 

1 8. The several commanders in the fleet are to 
take special care, upon pain of severe punishment, 
that they fire not over any of their own ships. 

19. [Same as 20 0/1673.] 

20. The fireships in their several divisions are 
to endeavour to keep the wind, and they with the 
small frigates to be as near the great ships as they 
can, attending the signal and acting accordingly. 

21. [_Same as 22 of 1673. J 1 

1 The MS. ends abruptly in the middle of this article. 



PART VII 
WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

I. RUSSELL, 1691 
II. ROOKE, 1703 



LORD TORRINGTON, TOURVILLE 
AND HOSTE 

INTRODUCTORY 

No one document probably possesses so much 
importance for the history of naval tactics as the 
instructions issued by Admiral Russell in 1691. 
Yet it is a remarkable thing that their tenour was 
unknown indeed their existence was wholly unsus- 
pected until a copy of them was happily discovered 
in Holland by Sir William Laird Clowes. By him 
it was presented to the United Service Institution, 
and the thanks of the Society are due to him and the 
Institution that these instructions are now at last 
available for publication. 

They form part of a complete printed set of 
Fleet Instructions, entitled ' Instructions made by the 
Right Honourable Edward Russell, admiral, in the 
year 1691, for the better ordering of the fleet in 
sailing by day and night, and in fighting.' Besides 
the Fighting Instructions we have a full set of signals 
both for day and night properly indexed, instructions 
for sailing in a fog, instructions to be observed by 
younger captains to the elder, instructions for 
masters, pilots, ketches, hoys, and smacks attend- 
ing the fleet, and the usual instructions for the 
encouragement of captains and companies of fire- 
ships, small frigates and ketches. Now this is the 
precise form in which all fleet instructions were 
issued, with scarcely any alteration, up to the con- 
clusion of the War of American Independence, 1 and 
1 See Introductory Note to Rooke's Instructions of 1703, p. 197. 



176 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

the peculiar importance of this set of articles there- 
fore is, that in them we have the first known 
example of those stereotyped Fighting Instructions 
to which, as all modern writers seem agreed, was 
due the alleged decadence of naval tactics in the 
eighteenth century. 

This being so, they clearly demand the most 
careful consideration. ' The English,' says Captain 
Mahan in his latest discussion of the subject, ' in 
the period of reaction which succeeded the Dutch 
Wars produced their own caricature of systematised 
tactics,' l and this may be taken as well representing 
the current judgment. But when we come to study 
minutely these orders of Russell, and to study them 
in the light of the last of the Duke of York's and the 
observations thereon in the Admiralty Manuscript, 
as well as of the views of the great French admirals 
of the time, we may well doubt whether the judg- 
ment does not require modification. We may doubt, 
that is, whether Russell's orders, so far from being 
a caricature of what had gone before, were not 
rather a sagacious attempt to secure that increase 
of manoeuvring power and squadronal control 
which had been found essential to any real advance 
in tactics. 

In the first place, after noting that these 
instructions begin logically with two articles for the 
formation of line ahead and abreast, we are struck 
by this disappearance of the Duke of York's article 
relating to 'dividing the enemy's fleet.' It is 
certainly to this disappearance that is mainly due the 
belief that the new instructions were retrograde. 
The somewhat hasty conclusion is generally drawn 
that the manoeuvre of ' breaking the line ' had been 
introduced during the Dutch Wars, and forgotten 
immediately afterwards. But, as we have already 
1 Types of Naval Officer s> p. 15. 



CAUSE OF THE REACTION 177 

seen, the Duke of York's article can hardly be con- 
strued as embodying the principle of concentration 
by ' breaking the line,' and ' containing.' As we 
know, it only applied to an attack from the leeward 
which the English, and indeed every power up to 
that time, did all they knew to avoid, and it cannot 
safely be assumed to mean anything more than a 
device for gaining the wind of part of the enemy 
when you cannot weather his whole fleet ; while the 
4 containing ' was intended to prevent the enemy's 
concentrating on the squadron that performed the 
manoeuvre. Now, although Russell's instructions 
lay down no rule for isolating and containing, they 
do provide three new and distinct articles by which 
the admiral can do so if he sees fit. Under the 
Duke of York's instructions, it will be remembered, 
it was left to the van commander to execute the 
manoeuvre of dividing the enemy's fleet as he saw 
his opportunity, and under those of Lord Dart- 
mouth it was left apparently to ' any commander.' 
With all that can be said for leaving the greatest 
possible amount of initiative to individual officers, 
such a system can hardly be called satisfactory, and 
in any case so important a movement ought cer- 
tainly to be as far as possible under the control of 
the commander-in-chief. But under the previous 
instructions he could not even initiate it by signal. 
The defect had already been seen, and it will be 
remembered that the additions and observations 
to this and the following articles which the 
Admiralty Manuscript contains are all directed to 
remedying the omission. It is to exactly the same 
end that Russell's orders seem designed, and if, as 
we shall see to be most probable, they were really 
drawn up by Lord Torrington, we know that they 
were used in this way at Beachy Head. Whether 
the idea of concentration and containing was in the 

N 



1 78 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

mind of their author we cannot tell for certain, but 
at any rate the new instructions provide signals by 
which the admiral can order such movements not 
only by any squadron, but even by any subdivision 
he pleases. The freedom of individual initiative it 
is true is gone, but this, as the Admiralty MS. 
indicates, was done deliberately, not as a piece of 
reactionary pedantry, but as the result of experience 
in battle. I nail other respects the tactical flexibility 
that was gained is obvious, and was fully displayed 
in the first engagements in which the instructions 
were used. 

So far as we can judge, the current view at this 
time was that where fleets were equal, every known 
form of concentration was unadvisable upon an 
unshaken enemy. The methods of the Duke of 
York's school were regarded as having failed, and 
the result appears to have been to convince 
tacticians that with the means at their disposal a 
strict preservation of the line gave a sure advantage 
against an enemy who attempted an attack by con- 
centration. Tactics, in fact, in accordance with a 
sound and inevitable law, having tended to become 
too recklessly offensive, were exhibiting a reaction 
to the defensive. If the enemy had succeeded in 
forming his line, it had come to be regarded as too 
hazardous to attempt to divide his fleet unless you 
had first forced a gap by driving ships out of the line. 
This idea we see reflected in the 6th paragraph of the 
Duke of York's twenty-second article (1673) and in 
Russell's new twenty-third article, enjoining ships 
to close up any gap that may have been caused by the 
next ahead or astern having been forced out of the 
line Briefly stated, it may be said that the pre- 
occupation of naval tactics was now not so much to 
break the enemy's line, as to prevent your own being 
broken. 



HOSTE'S TREATISE 179 

But the matter did not end here. It was seen 
that when your own fleet was superior, concentra- 
tion was still practicable in various ways, and 
particularly by doubling. Tacticians were now 
mainly absorbed in working out this form of attack 
and the methods of meeting it, and Russell's 
elaborate articles for handling squadrons and sub- 
divisions independently may well have had this 
intention. 

The new phase of tactical opinion is that which 
we find expounded in Pere Hoste's famous work, 
U Art des armies navales, ou Traitt des Evolutions 
navales, published in 1697 at the instigation of the 
Comte de Tourville. The author was a Jesuit, but 
claims that he is merely giving the result of his 
experience while serving with the great French 
admirals of that time, who had learned all they 
knew either as allies or enemies of the English. 
1 For twelve years,' he says in his apology for 
touching naval subjects, ' I have had the honour of 
serving with Monsieur le Marechal d'Estrees, Mon- 
sieur le Due de Mortemart, and Monsieur le 
Marechal de Tourville in all the expeditions they 
made in command of naval fleets ; and Monsieur le 
Marechal de Tourville has been kind enough to 
communicate to me his lights, bidding me write on 
a matter which I think has never before been the 
subject of a treatise.' 

The whole system of tactics that he develops is 
based, like Russell's, on the single line ahead and 
the independent action of squadrons. The passages 
in which he elaborates the central battle idea of 
concentration by doubling are as follows : ' The 
fleet which is the more numerous will try to extend 
on the enemy in such a manner as to leave its 
rearmost ships astern, which will immediately turn 
[se repliera] upon the enemy to double him, and 



180 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

put him between two fires. Remark L If the 
more numerous fleet has the wind it will be able 
more easily to turn its rear upon that of the enemy, 
and put him between two fires. But if the more 
numerous fleet is to leeward it ought none the less 
to leave its rear astern, because the wind may shift 
in the fight. Besides, the fleet that is to leeward 
can edge away insensibly in fighting to give its 
rearmost ships a chance of doubling on the enemy 
by hugging the wind. Remark II. I know that 
many skilful people are persuaded that you ought 
to double the enemy ahead ; because, if the van of 
the enemy is once in disorder it falls on the rest of 
the fleet and throws it infallibly into confusion.' 
And by the aid of diagrams he proceeds to show 
that this view is unsound, because the van can 
easily avoid the danger while the rear cannot To 
support his view he instances the entire success 
with which at the battle of La Hogue, Russell, 
having the superior fleet, doubled on Tourville's rear. 
' To prevent being doubled,' he proceeds, ' you 
must absolutely prevent the enemy from leaving 
ships astern of you, and to that end you may adopt 
several devices when you are much inferior in 
number. 

'I. If we have the wind we may leave some of 
the enemy's leading ships alone, and cause our van 
to fall on their second division. In this manner 
their first division will be practically useless, and if 
it forces sail to tack upon us it will lose much time, 
and will put itself in danger of being isolated by the 
calm which generally befalls in this sort of action by 
reason of the great noise of the guns. We may 
also leave a great gap in the centre of our fleet, 
provided the necessary precautions be taken to 
prevent our van being cut off. By these means, 
however inferior we be in numbers, we may prevent 



HOSTRS TREATISE 181 

the enemy leaving ships astern of us. Example. 
Everyone did not disapprove the manner in which 
Admiral Herbert disposed his fleet when he engaged 
the French in the action of Bevesier [i.e. Beachy 
Head] in the year 1690. He had some ships fewer 
than ours, and he had determined to make his chief 
effort against our rear. That is why he ordered the 
Dutch leading division to fall on our second division. 
Then he opened his fleet in the centre, leaving a 
great gap opposite our centre. After which, having 
closed up the English to very short intervals, he 
opposed them to our rear, and held off somewhat 
with his own division so as to prevent the French 
profiting by the gap which he had left in his fleet to 
double the Dutch. This order rendered our first 
division nearly useless, because it had to make a very 
long board to tack on the enemy's van, and the 
wind having fallen, it was put to it to be in time to 
share the glory of the action. 1 

4 II. If the less numerous fleet is to leeward, the 
gap may be left more in the centre and less in the 
van, but it is necessary to have a small detach- 
ment of men-of-war and fireships so as to prevent 
the enemy profiting by the gaps in the fleet to 
divide it. 

'III. Others prefer to give as a general rule, 
that the flag officers of the less numerous fleet 
attack the flag officers of the enemy's fleet ; 2 for 

1 This plan of attack bears a strong resemblance to that which 
Nelson intended to adopt at Trafalgar. ' Nelson,' says Captain 
Mahan, ' doubtless had in mind the dispositions of Tourville and 
De Ruyter.' Life of Nelson, ii. 351. Hoste, however, it would 
seem, though a devout admirer of both Tourville and De Ruyter, 
gives the credit to Lord Torrington. It was not introduced 
officially into the British tactical system until Lord Howe adopted 
it in 1792. It was retained in the subsequent Signal Books and 
Instructions. 

2 This proviso was added to the signal in the edition of 1799, 



1 82 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

by this means several of the enemy's ships remain 
useless in the intervals, and the enemy cannot 
double you. 

' IV. Others prefer that the three squadrons of 
the less numerous fleet each attack a squadron 
of the more numerous fleet, taking care that each 
squadron ranges up to the enemy in such a manner 
as not to leave any of his ships astern, but rather 
leaving several vessels ahead. 

' V. Finally, there are those who would have the 
less numerous fleet put so great an interval between 
the ships as to equalise their line with that of the 
enemy. But this last method is, without doubt, the 
least good, because it permits the enemy to employ 
the whole of its strength against the less numerous 
fleet. I agree, however, that this method might be 
preferred to others in certain circumstances ; as 
when the enemy's ships are considerably less power- 
ful than those of the less numerous fleet." 

Having thus explained the system of doubling, 
he proceeds to give the latest ideas of his chief on 
breaking the enemy's line, or, as it was then called, 
passing through his fleet. ' We find,' he says, ' that 
in the relations of the fights in the Channel between 
the English and the Dutch that their fleets passed 
through one another. ... In this manner the two 
fleets passed through one another several times, 
which exposed them to be cut off, taken, and mutu- 
ally to lose several ships. Remark. This manoeuvre 
is as bold as it is delicate, and consummate technical 
skill is necessary for it to succeed as happily as it 
did with the Comte d'Estrees ... in the battle 
of the Texel, in the year 1673, for he passed 
through the Zealand squadron, weathered it, broke 



and a corresponding explanatory instruction (No. 24) was provided. 
/, p. 262. 



HOSTES TREATISE 183 

it up, and put the enemy into so great a disorder 
that it settled the victory which was still in the 
balance.' l 

After pointing out by diagrams various methods 
of parrying the manoeuvre, he proceeds : ' I do not 
see, then, that we need greatly fear the enemy's 
passing through us ; and I do not even think that 
this manoeuvre ought ever to be performed except 
under one of the three following conditions : (i) If 
you are compelled to do it in order to avoid a 
greater evil ; (2) If the enemy by leaving a great 
gap in the midst of his squadrons renders a part of 
his fleet useless ; (3) If several of his ships are 
disabled. . . . 

' Sometimes you are compelled to pass through 
the enemy's fleet to rescue ships that the enemy has 
cut off, and in this case you must risk something, 
but you should observe several precautions : ( i ) You 
should close up to the utmost ; (2) You should carry 
a press of sail without troubling to fight in passing 
through the enemy ; (3) The ships that have passed 
ought to tack the moment they can to prevent the 
enemy standing off on the same tack as the fleet 
that passes through them.' 

It is clear, then, that in the eyes of perhaps the 
finest fleet leader of his time, and one of the finest 
France ever had, a man who thoroughly understood 
the value of concentration, the method of securing 
it by breaking the line was dangerous and unsound. 
In this he thoroughly endorses the views contained 
in the 4 Observations ' of the Admiralty MS. and 
the modifications of the standing order which they 
suggest. Indeed, Hoste's remarks on breaking the 

1 It should be remembered that neither the Dutch nor the 
English accounts of the action at all endorse this view of 
D'Estre'es's behaviour. See also the Admiralty MS., p. 153, 
note i. 



1 84 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

line are, in effect, little more than a logical elabora- 
tion of those ideas and suggestions. In the ' Obser- 
vations ' we have the monition not to attempt the 
manoeuvre 'unless an enemy press you on a lee 
shore.' We have the signal for a squadron breaking 
the enemy's line, but only in order to rejoin the 
main body, and we have the simple method of 
parrying the move by tacking with an equal number 
of ships. The fundamental principles of the pro- 
blem in both the English and the French author are 
the same, and a comparison of the two enables us 
to assert, with no hesitation, that the manoeuvre of 
breaking the line was abandoned by the tacticians 
of that era, not from ignorance nor from lack of 
enterprise, but from a deliberate tactical convic- 
tion gained by experience in war. In judging the 
apparent want of enterprise which our own ad- 
mirals began to display in action at this time, we 
should probably be careful to refrain from joining in 
the unmitigated contempt with which modern his- 
torians have so freely covered them. In the typical 
battle of Malaga, for instance, Rooke did nothing 
but carry out the principles which were the last 
word of Tourville's brilliant career. Nor must it be 
forgotten that, although Rodney executed the man- 
oeuvre in 1782, and Hood provided a signal for its 
revival which Howe at first adopted, it was never 
in much favour in the British service, seeing that 
it was only adapted for an attack from to leeward. 
The manoeuvre of breaking the line which Howe 
eventually introduced was something wholly dif- 
ferent both in form and intention from what Rodney 
executed and from what was understood by 
' dividing the fleet ' in the seventeenth century. 1 

How far the system of doubling was approved 
by English admirals is doubtful. We have seen 
1 Seeflosf, pp. 245-9. 



DOUBLING 185 

that an ' Observation ' in the Admiralty Manuscript 
distrusts it, 1 but I have been able to find no other 
expression of opinion on the point earlier than 1780, 
and that entirely condemns it. It occurs in a 
set of fleet instructions drawn up for submission to 
the admiralty by Admiral Sir Charles H. Knowles, 
Bart. As Knowles was a pupil and protegt of 
Rodney's, we may assume he was in possession of 
the great tactician's ideas on the point ; and in these 
Fighting and Sailing Instructions the following 
article occurs : ' To double the enemy's line that 
is, to send a few unengaged ships on one side to 
engage, while the rest are fighting on the other 
is rendering those ships useless. Every ship which 
is between two, has not only her two broadsides 
opposed to theirs, but has likewise their shot which 
cross in her favour.' 2 No signal was provided for 
'doubling' in Lord Howe's or the later signal 
books, though Nelson certainly executed the man- 
oeuvre at the Nile. It survived however in the 
French service, and the English books provided 
a signal for preventing its execution by a numeri- 
cally superior enemy. Sir Alexander Cochrane also 
revived it after Trafalgar. 

Knowles's objection to the manoeuvre makes it 
easy to understand that, however well it suited the 
French tactics of long bowls or boarding, it was not 
well adapted to the English method of close action 
with the guns. With the French service it cer- 
tainly continued in favour, and the whole of Hoste's 
rules were reproduced by the famous naval expert 
S^bastien-Frangois Bigot, Vicomte de Morogues 
in his elaborate Tactique navale, ou traitt des 

1 Ante, p. 152, note i. 

2 Printed in 1798. A MS. note says 'These instructions were 
written in 1780 and afterwards very much curtailed, though the 
general plan is the same.' 



1 86 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

Evolutions et des signaux, which appeared in 1763, 
and was republished at Amsterdam in 1779. Not 
only was he the highest French authority on naval 
science of his time, but a fine seaman as well, as he 
proved when in command of the Magnifique on the 
disastrous day at Quiberon. 1 

The remainder of the new instructions, though 
less important than the expansion of the Duke of 
York's third article, all tend in the same direction. 
So far from insisting on a rigid observance of the 
single line ahead in all circumstances, the new system 
seems to aim at securing flexibility, and the power of 
concentration by independent action of squadrons. 
This is to be specially noted in the new article, 
No. 30, in which signals are provided for particular 
squadrons and particular divisions forming line of 
battle abreast. It is true that the old rigid form 
of an attack from windward is retained, but, in- 
effective as the system proved, it was certainly not 
inspired, as is so often said, by a mediaeval concep- 
tion of naval battle as a series of single ship actions. 
From what has been already said, the well-consi- 
dered tactical idea that underlay it is obvious. The 
injunction to range the length of the enemy's line 
van to van, and rear to rear, or vice versa, was aimed 
at avoiding being doubled at either end of the line ; 
while the injunction to bear down together was 
obviously the quickest mode of bringing the whole 
fleet into action without giving the enemy a chance 
of weathering any part of it by ' gaining its wake.' 
That it was inadequate for this purpose is well 
known. It would only work when the two fleets 
were exactly parallel at the moment of bearing 
down as was made apparent at the battle of 
Malaga, where the French from leeward almost 

1 Lacour Gayet, La marine ntilitaire de la France sous Louis 
XV, 1902, pp. 214-5. 



AUTHOR OF THE INSTRUCTIONS 187 

succeeded in dividing Rooke's fleet as it bore down. 
Still the idea was sound enough. The trouble was 
that it did not make sufficient allowance for the un- 
handiness of ships of the line in those days, and 
their difficulty in taking up or preserving exact 
formations. 

As to the authorship of the articles, it must be 
remembered that the mere fact that they were 
issued by Russell is not enough to attribute them 
to him. He had had practically no previous ex- 
perience as a flag officer, and in all probability they 
followed more or less closely those used by Lord 
Torrington in the previous year. Torrington was 
first lord of the admiralty in 1689, and commander- 
in-chief of the main fleet in 1690. It was not till 
after his acquittal in December of that year that 
he was superseded by Russell. The instructions 
moreover seem generally to be designed in close 
accordance with all we know of Torrington's tactical 
practice, and it is scarcely doubtful that they are 
due to his ripe experience and not to Russell. 

That the point cannot be settled with absolute 
certainty is to be the more lamented because hence- 
forth this set of Fighting Instructions, and not those 
of Rooke in 1 703, must be taken as the dominat- 
ing factor of eighteenth-century tactics. Rooke's 
instructions, except for the modification of a few 
articles, are the same as Russell's, and consequently 
it has not been thought necessary to print them in 
full. For a similar reason it has been found con- 
venient to print such slight changes as are known 
to have been made in the standing form after 1703 
as notes to the corresponding articles of Russell's 
instructions. 



1 88 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 



ADMIRAL EDWARD RUSSELL, 1691. 

[From a printed copy in the Library of the United Service 
Institution.] 

Fighting Instructions. 

I. When the admiral would have the fleet draw 
into a line of battle, one ship ahead of another 
(according to the method given to each captain), he 
will hoist a union flag at the mizen peak, and fire a 
gun ; and every flagship in the fleet is to make the 
same signal. 1 

II. When the admiral would have the fleet draw 
into a line of battle, one ship abreast of another 
(according to the method given to each captain), 
he will hoist a union flag and a pennant at the 
mizen-peak, and fire a gun ; and every flagship in 
the fleet is to do the same. 

III. When the admiral would have the admiral 
of the white and his whole squadron to tack, and 
endeavour to gain the wind of the enemy, he will 
spread a white flag under the flag at the main top- 
mast-head, and fire a gun, which is to be answered 
by the flagships in the fleet ; and when he would 
have the admiral of the blue do the same, he will 
spread a blue flag on that place. 

1 The instructions under which Mathews fought his action off 
Toulon in 1744 add here the words ' and every ship is to observe 
and keep the same distance those ships do which are next the 
admiral, always taking it from the centre.' They were a MS. 

addition made by Mathews himself. See 'V. A 1 L k's 

Rejoinder to A 1 M ws's Replies ' in a pamphlet entitled 

Original Letters and Papers between Adm / M ws and V. 

Adm IL k. London, 1744, p. 31. From an undated copy 

of Fighting Instructions in the Admiralty Library we know that 
this addition was subsequently incorporated into the standing 
form. 



RUSSELL, 1691 189 

IV. When the admiral would have the vice- 
admiral of the red, and his division, tack and 
endeavour to gain the wind of the enemy, he will 
spread a red flag from the cap at the fore topmast- 
head downward on the backstay. If he would have 
the vice-admiral of the white do the same, a white 
flag ; if the vice-admiral of the blue, a blue flag at 
the same place. 

V. When the admiral would have the rear- 
admiral of the red and his division tack and endea- 
vour to gain the wind of the enemy, he will hoist 
a red flag at the flagstaff at the mizen topmast- 
head ; if the rear-admiral of the white, a white 
flag ; if the rear-admiral of the blue, a blue flag at 
the same place, and under the flag a pennant of the 
same colour. 

VI. If the admiral be to leeward of the fleet, or 
any part of the fleet, and he would have them bear 
down into his wake or grain, he will hoist a blue 
flag at the mizen peak. 

VII. If the admiral be to leeward of the enemy, 
and his fleet, or any part of them, to leeward of him, 
that he may bring those ships into a line, he will 
bear up with a blue flag at the mizen peak under the 
union flag, which is the signal for the line of battle ; 
and then those ships to leeward are to use their 
utmost endeavour to get into his wake or grain, 
according to their stations in the line of battle. 

VIII. If the fleet be sailing before the wind, and 
the admiral would have the vice-admiral and the 
ships of the starboard quarter to clap by the wind, 
and come to the starboard tack, then he will hoist 
upon the mizen topmast-head a red flag. And in 
case he would have the rear-admiral and the ships 
of the larboard quarter to come to their larboard tack, 
then he will hoist up a blue flag at the same place. 

IX. When the admiral would have the van of the 



1 90 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

fleet to tack first, he will put abroad the union flag 
at the flagstaff on the fore topmast-head, and fire a 
gun, if the red flag be not abroad ; but if the red 
flag be abroad, then the fore topsails shall be lowered 
a little, and the union flag shall be spread from the 
cap of the fore topmast downwards, and every flag- 
ship in the fleet is to do the same. 

X. When the admiral would have the rear- 
admiral of the fleet tack first, he will hoist the union 
flag on the flagstaff at the mizen topmast-head, and 
fire a gun, which is to be answered by every flag- 
ship in the fleet. 

XI. When the admiral would have all the flag- 
ships in the fleet come into his wake or grain, he 
will hoist a red flag at the mizen peak, and fire a 
gun ; and the flagships in the fleet are to make the 
same signal. 

XII. When the admiral would have the admiral 
of the white and his squadron make more sail, 
though himself shorten sail, he will hoist a white 
flag on the ensign staff ; if the admiral of the blue, 
or he that commands in the third post, a blue flag 
at the same place ; and every flagship in the fleet 
is to make the same signal. 

XIII. As soon as the admiral shall hoist a red 
flag on the flagstaff at the fore topmast-head, every 
ship in the fleet is to use their utmost endeavour 
to engage the enemy, in the order the admiral has 
prescribed unto them. 1 

XIV. When the admiral hoisteth a white flag at 

1 The instructions of 1744, as quoted in the Mathews-Lestock 
controversy, add here the words ' and strictly to take care not to 
fire before the signal be given by the admiral.' This appears also 
to have been an addition made by Mathews in 1744. It was 
clumsily incorporated in the subsequent standing form thus : ' to 
engage the enemy and on no account to fire before the admiral 
shall make the signal, in the order the admiral has prescribed 
unto them.' See note to Article I., supra. 



RUSSELL, 1691 191 

the mizen peak, then all the small frigates of his 
squadron that are not in the line of battle are to 
come under his stern. 

XV. If the fleet is sailing by a wind in a line 
of battle, and the admiral would have them brace 
their headsails to the mast, he will hoist a yellow 
flag on the flagstaff at the mizen topmast-head, and 
fire a gun ; which the flagships in the fleet are to 
answer. Then the ships in the rear are to brace to 
first. 

XVI. The fleet lying in aline of battle, with their 
headsails to the mast, and if the admiral would have 
them fill and stand on, he will hoist a yellow flag on 
the flagstaff at the fore topmast-head, and fire a 
gun ; which the flagships in the fleet are to answer. 
Then the ships in the van are to fill first, and to 
stand on. If it happen, when this signal is to be 
made, that the red flag is abroad on the flagstaff at 
the fore topmast-head, the admiral will spread the 
yellow flag under the red. 

XVI I, If the admiral see the enemy's fleet stand- 
ing towards him, and he has the wind of them, the van 
of the fleet is make sail till they come the length of 
the enemy's rear, and our rear abreast of the enemy's 
van ; then he that is in the rear of our fleet is to 
tack first, and every ship one after another, as fast 
as they can, throughout the line, that they may 
engage on the same tack with the enemy. But in 
case the enemy's fleet should tack in their rear, our 
fleet is to do the same with an equal number of 
ships ; and whilst they are in fight with the enemy, 
to keep within half a cable's length one of another, 
or if the weather be bad, according to the direction 
of the commanders. 

When the admiral would have the ship that 
leads the van of the fleet (or the headmost ship in 
the fleet) when they are in a line of battle, hoist, 



1 92 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

lower, set or haul up any of his sails, the admiral 
will spread a yellow flag under that at the main top- 
mast-head, and fire a gun ; which the flagships that 
have flags at the main topmast-head are to answer ; 
and those flagships that have not, are to hoist the 
yellow flag on the flagstaff at the main topmast- 
head, and fire a gun. Then the admiral will hoist, 
lower, set or haul up the sail he would have the 
ship that leads the van do. 

XVIII. If the admiral and his fleet have the wind 
of the enemy, and they have stretched themselves in 
a line of battle, the van of the admiral's fleet is to 
steer with the van of the enemy's and there to 
engage them. 

XIX. Every commander is to take care that his 
guns are not fired till he is sure he can reach the 
enemy upon a point-blank ; and by no means to 
suffer his guns to be fired over by any of our own 
ships. 

XX. None of the ships in the fleet shall pursue 
any small number of the enemy's ships till the main 
body be disabled or run. 

XXI. If any of the ships in the fleet are in 
distress, and make the signal, which is a weft with the 
jack or ensign, the next ship to them is strictly 
required to relieve them. 

XXII. If the admiral, or any flagship, should be 
in distress, and make the usual signal, the ships in the 
fleet are to endeavour to get up as close into a line, 
between him and the enemy, as they can ; having 
always an eye to defend him, if the enemy should 
come to annoy him in that condition. 

XXIII. In case any ship in the fleet should be 
forced to go out of the line to repair damages she has 
received in battle the next ships are to close up the 
line. 

XXIV. If any flagship be disabled, the flag may 



RUSSELL, 1691 193 

go on board any ship of his own squadron or 
division. 

XXV. If the enemy be put to the run, and the 
admiral thinks it convenient the whole fleet shall 
follow them, he will make all the sail he can himself 
after the enemy, and fire two guns out of his fore- 
chase ; then every ship in the fleet is to use his 
best endeavour to come up with the enemy, and 
lay them on board. 

XXVI. If the admiral would have any particular 
flagship, and his squadron, or division, give chase 
to the enemy, he will make the same signal that is 
appointed for that flagship's tacking with his 
squadron or division, and weathering the enemy. 

XXVII. When the admiral would have them 
give over chase, he will hoist a white flag at the fore 
topmast-head and fire a gun. 

XXVIII. In case any ship in the line of battle 
should be disabled in her masts, rigging or hull, the 
ship that leads ahead of her shall take her a-tow and 
the division she is in shall make good the line with her. 
But the commander of the ship so disabled is not on 
any pretence whatever to leave his station till he has 
acquainted his flag or the next flag officer with 
the condition of his ship, and received his directions 
therein. And in case any commander shall be want- 
ing in his duty, his flag or the next flag officer to him 
is immediately to send for the said commander from 
his ship and appoint another in his room. 

XXIX. If the admiral would have any flag in his 
division or squadron cut or slip in the daytime, he 
will make the same signals that are appointed for 
those flagships, and their division or squadron, to 
tack and weather the enemy, as is expressed in the 
third, fourth, fifth, and sixth articles before going. 

XXX. When the admiral would have the red 
squadron draw into a line of battle, abreast of one 

o 



194 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

another, he will put abroad a flag striped red and 
white on the flagstaff at the main topmast-head, 
with a pennant under it, and fire a gun. If he 
would have the white squadron, or those that have 
the second post in the fleet, to do the like, the signal 
shall be a flag striped red, white, and blue, with a 
pennant under it, at the aforesaid place. And if he 
would have the blue squadron to do the like he will 
put on the said place a Genoese ensign, together 
with a pennant. But when he would have either of 
the said squadrons to draw into a line of battle, 
ahead of one another, he will make the aforesaid 
signals, without a pennant ; which signals are to be 
answered by the flagships only of the said squadrons, 
and to be kept out till I take in mine. And if the 
admiral would have any vice-admiral of the fleet 
and his division draw into a line of battle as afore- 
said, he will make the same signals at the fore top- 
mast-head that he makes for that squadron at the 
main topmast-head. And for any rear-admiral in 
the fleet and his division, the same signals at the 
mizen topmast-head ; which signals are to be 
answered by the vice- or rear-admiral. 



THE PERMANENT INSTRUCTIONS, 

1703-1783 

INTRODUCTORY 

THESE like Russell's are extracted from a complete 
printed set, also presented to the United Service 
Institution by Sir W. Laird Clowes, and entitled, 
' Instructions for the directing and governing her 
majesty's fleet in sailing and fighting, by the Right 
Honourable Sir George Rooke, Knight, Vice- 
Admiral of England, and admiral and commander- 
in-chief of her majesty's fleet. In the year 1703.' 
They also contain all the other matter as in 
Russell's, while another copy has bound with it all 
the fleet articles of war under the hand of Prince 
George of Denmark, then lord high admiral. 

As they were not issued till 1703, the second 
year of the war, in which Rooke did nothing but 
carry out a barren cruise in the Bay of Biscay, we 
may assume that the Cadiz expedition of 1702 
proceeded under Russell's old instructions of the 
previous war. It was under Rooke's new instruc- 
tions, however, that the battle of Malaga was 
fought in 1704. They were certainly in force in 
1705, for a copy of them exists in the log book of 
the Britannia for that year {British Museum, Add. 
MSS. 28126, ff. 21-27). They were also used by 
Sir Clowdisley Shovell during his last command ; as 

02 



i 9 6 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

we know by a printed copy with certain manuscript 
additions of his own, relating ,to chasing and 
armed boats, which he issued to his junior flag 
officer, Sir John Norris, in the Mediterranean, on 
April 25, 1707 (British Museum, Add. MSS. 
28140). Nor is there any trace of their having 
been changed during the remainder of the war. 
At the battle of Malaga they were very strictly 
observed, and in the opinion of the time with an 
entirely satisfactory result ; that is to say that, 
although Rooke's ships were foul and very short of 
ammunition, he was able to prevent Toulouse break- 
ing his line and so to fight a defensive action, which 
saved Gibraltar from recapture, and discredited the 
French navy to such an extent that thenceforth it 
was entirely neglected by Louis XIV's government, 
and gave little more trouble to our fleets. 

Though no copy of these Fighting Instructions 
has been found with a later date than 1707, we 
know that with very slight modifications they 
continued in use down to the peace of 1783. The 
evidence is to be found scattered in proceedings of 
courts-martial, in chance references in admirals 
despatches, and in signal books. For instance, in 
the ' Mathews and Lestock Tracts' (British Museum, 
518, g), which deal with the courts-martial that 
followed the ill-fought action off Toulon in 1744, 
eight of the articles then in force are printed. All 
of them have the same numbering as the corre- 
sponding articles of 1703, six are identical in word- 
ing, and two, Numbers I. and XIII., have only the 
slight modifications which Admiral Mathews made, 
and which have been given above in notes to the 
similar articles in Russell's set. These modifica- 
tions, as we have seen, were subsequently incor- 
porated into the standing form, and appear in the 
undated copy of the complete Fighting Instructions 



ROOKE, 1703 197 

in the Admiralty Library. Again, Article XIV. of 
1703 is referred to in the Additional Fighting 
Instructions issued by Boscawen in 1759.* Accord- 
ing to a MS. note by Sir C. H. Knowles they were 
re-issued in 1772 and 1778, and Keppel in 1778 was 
charged under Article XXXI. of 1703. Finally, 
there is in the Admiralty Library a manuscript 
signal book prepared by an officer, who was present 
at Rodney's great action of April 12, 1782. In this 
book, in which 1783 is the last date mentioned, 
there is inserted beside each signal the number of 
the article in the printed Fighting Instructions to 
which it related. In this way we are able to fix the 
purport of some twenty articles, and all of these 
correspond exactly both in intention and number 
with those of 1703. 



SIR GEORGE ROOKE, 1703. 

[From a printed copy in the Library of the United Service 
Institution.] 

Articles I. to XVI. \The same as Russell's of 
1691, except for slight modifications of wording and 
signals^ 2 

Art. XVII. If the admiral see the enemy's 
fleet standing towards him and he has the wind of 
them, the van of the fleet is to make sail till they 
come the length of the enemy's rear and our rear 
abreast of the enemy's van ; then he that is in the 
rear of our fleet is to tack first, every ship one after 
another as fast as they can, throughout the line. 
And if the admiral would have the whole fleet tack 
together, the sooner to put them in a posture of 

1 See below, p. 224. 

* The modifications consist mainly in adding a gun to several 
of the flag signals, and enjoining the flagships to repeat them. 



198 WILLIAM III AND ANNE 

engaging the enemy, then he will hoist the union 
flag on the flagstaffs 1 at the fore and mizen mast- 
heads and fire a gun ; and all the flagships in the 
fleet are to do the same. But in case the enemy's 
fleet should tack in their rear, our fleet is to do the 
same with an equal number of ships, and whilst they 
are in fight with the enemy to keep within half a 
cable's length one of another, or if the weather be 
bad, according to the direction of the commander. 

Art. XVIII. [Same as the remainder of 
Russell's XVIIJ] When the admiral would have 
the ship that leads the van .... by the flagships 
of the fleet. 

Arts. XIX. to XXIII. [Same as Russell's 
XV II 7. to XXI I ^ 

Art. XXIV. {Replacing Russell's XXIII. and 
XXVIII.'} No ship in the fleet shall leave his 
station upon any pretence whatsoever till he has 
acquainted his flag or the next flag officer to him 
with the condition of his ship and received his 
direction herein. But in case any ship shall do so, 
the next ships are to close up the line. 2 And if any 
commander shall be wanting in doing his duty, his 
flag or the next flag officer to him is immediately to 
send for the said commander from his ship and 
appoint another in his room. 3 

Arts. XXV. to XXVI I., XXIX. and XXX. 
[Same as Russell's.] 

Art. XXXI. When the admiral would have 
the fleet draw into a line of battle one astern of the 
other with a large wind, and if he would have those 

1 The undated admiralty copy (post 1744) has 'flagstaves.' 

2 This manoeuvre was finely executed by Sir Clowdisley Shovell 
with the van squadron at the battle of Malaga. 

3 Burchett, the secretary of the navy, in his Naval History 
censures Benbow for not having acted on this instruction in 1702 
or rather on No. 28 of 1691. 



ROOKE, 1703 199 

lead who are to lead with their starboard tacks 
aboard by a wind, he will hoist a red and white flag 
at the mizen peak and fire a gun ; and if he would 
have those lead who are to lead with their larboard 
tacks aboard by a wind, he will hoist a Genoese flag 
at the same place and fire a gun ; which is to be 
answered by the flagships of the fleet. 

Art. XXXII. When the fleet is in the line of 
battle, the signals that are made by the admiral 
for any squadron or particular division are to be 
repeated by all the flags that are between the 
admiral and that squadron or division to whom the 
signal is made. 



PART VIII 

ADDITIONAL FIGHTING INSTRUCTIONS 
OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

I. ADMIRAL VERNON, circa 1740 

II. LORD ANSON, circa 1747 

III. SIR EDWARD HAWKE, 1756 

IV. ADMIRAL BOSCAWEN, 1759 
V. SIR GEORGE RODNEY, 1782 

VI. LORD HOOD, 1783 



ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE 
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

INTRODUCTORY 

ALTHOUGH, as we have seen, the ' Fighting Instruc- 
tions 'of 1 69 1 continued in force with no material 
alteration till the end of the next century, it must 
not be assumed that no advance in tactics was 
made. From time to time important changes were 
introduced, but instead of a fresh set of ' Fighting 
Instructions ' being drawn up according to the 
earlier practice, the new ideas were embodied in 
what were called 'Additional Fighting Instructions. 1 
They did not supersede the old standing form, but 
were intended to be read with and be subsidiary to 
it. It is to these ' Additional Instructions,' there- 
fore, that we have to look for the progress of tactics 
during the eighteenth century. By one of those 
strange chances, however, which are the despair of 
historians in almost every branch and period of 
their subject, these Additional Instructions have 
almost entirely disappeared. Although it is known 
in the usual way that is, from chance references in 
despatches and at courts-martial that many such 
sets of Additional Instructions were issued, only 
one complete set actually in force is known to exist. 
They are those signed by Admiral Boscawen on 
April 27, 1759, in Gibraltar Bay, and are printed 
below. 

After his capture of Louisbourg in the previous 



204 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

year, Boscawen had 'been chosen for the command 
of the Mediterranean fleet, charged with the im- 
portant duty of preventing the Toulon squadron 
getting round to Brest, and so effecting the concen- 
tration which the French had planned as the essential 
feature of their desperate plan of invasion. He 
sailed with the reinforcement he was taking out on 
April 14, and must therefore have issued these 
orders so soon as he reached his station. There 
is every reason to believe, however, that he was 
not their author ; that they were, in fact, a common 
form which had been settled by Lord Anson at 
the admiralty. In the shape in which they have 
come down to us they are a set of eighteen printed 
articles, to which have been added in manuscript 
two comparatively unimportant articles relating to 
captured chases and the call for lieutenants. These 
may have been either mere ' expeditional ' orders, 
as they were called, issued by Boscawen in virtue of 
his general authority as commander-in-chief on the 
station, or possibly recent official additions. More 
probably they were Boscawen's own, for, strictly 
speaking, they should not appear as ' Additional 
Fighting Instructions' at all. From the series of 
signal books and other sources we know there 
already existed a special set of ' Chasing Instruc- 
tions,' and yet another set in which officers' calls 
and the like were dealt with, and both of Boscawen's 
articles were subsequently incorporated into these 
sets. The printed articles to which Boscawen 
attached them were certainly not new. Either 
wholly or in part they had been used by Byng in 
1756, for at his court-martial he referred to the 
' First article of the Additional Fighting Instruc- 
tions as given to the fleet by me at the beginning 
of the expedition,' and this article is identical with 
No. i of Boscawen's set. 



THEIR ORIGIN 205 

How much older the articles were, or, indeed, 
whether any were issued before the Seven Years' 
War, has never yet been determined. From the 
illogical order in which they succeed one another it 
would appear that they were the result of a gradual 
development, during which one or more orders were 
added from time to time by the incorporation of 
1 expeditional ' orders of various admirals, as expe- 
rience suggested their desirability. Thus Article I. 
provides, in the case of the enemy being inferior in 
number, for our superfluous ships to fall out of the 
line and form a reserve, but it is not till Article VII I. 
that we have a scientific rule laid down for the 
method in which the reserve is to employ itself. 
Still, whatever may have been the exact process by 
which these Additional Instructions grew up, evi- 
dence is in existence which enables us to trace the 
system to its source with exactitude, and there is no 
room for doubt that it originated in certain expe- 
ditional orders issued by Admiral Vernon when he 
was in command of the expedition against the 
Spanish Main in 1739-40. Amongst the 'Mathews 
and Lestock ' pamphlets is one sometimes attributed 
to Lestock himself, but perhaps more probably 
inspired by him. It is dedicated to the first lord 
of the admiralty, and entitled A Narrative of the 
Proceedings of his majesty s fleet in the Mediter- 
ranean, 1741-4, including, amongst other matter 
relating to Mathews's action, ' some signals greatly 
wanted on the late occasion.' At p. 108 are some 
1 Additional signals made use of by our fleet in the 
West Indies,' meaning that of Admiral Vernon, 
which Lestock had recently left. These signals 
relate to sailing directions by day and by night, to 
' seeing ships in the night ' and to ' engaging an 
enemy in the night,' and immediately following them 
are two 'Additional Instructions to be added to the 



206 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

Fighting Instructions.' The inference is that these 
two ' Additional Instructions' were something quite 
new and local, since they were used by Vernon and 
not by Mathews. They are given below, and will 
be found to correspond closely to Articles I. and III. 
of the set used by Boscawen in the next war. Since, 
therefore, in all the literature and proceedings relat- 
ing to Mathews and Lestock there is no reference 
to any 'Additional Instructions,' we may conclude 
with fair safety that these two articles used by 
Vernon in the West Indies were the origin and germ 
of the new system. 

Nor is it a mere matter of inference only, for 
it is confirmed by a direct statement by the author 
of the pamphlet. At p. 74 he has this interesting 
passage which practically clears up the history of the 
whole matter. 'Men in the highest stations at sea 
will not deny but what our sailing and fighting 
instructions might be amended, and many added to 
them, which by every day's experience are found to 
be absolutely necessary. Though this truth is 
universally acknowledged and the necessity of the 
royal navy very urgent, yet since the institution of 
these signals nothing has been added to them 
excepting the chasing signals, excellent in their kind, 

by the Right Honourable Sir J N - 1 Not 

but that every admiral has authority to make any 
additions or give such signals to the captains under 
his command as he shall judge proper, which are 
only expeditional. Upon many emergencies our 
signals at this juncture \i.e. in the action before 

1 Admiral Sir John Norris had been commander-in-chief in 
the Mediterranean 1710-1, in the Baltic 1715-21 and 1727, in 
the Downs in 1734, and the Channel 1739 and following years. 
Professor Laughton tells me that Norris's papers and orders 
for 1720-1 contain no such signals. He must therefore have 
issued them later. 



ADMIRAL VERNON 207 

Toulon] proved to be very barren. There was no 
such signal in the book, expressing an order when 
the admiral would have the ships to come to a 
closer engagement than when they begun. After 
what has been observed, it is unnecessary now to 
repeat the great necessity and occasion there was 
for it ; and boats in many cases, besides their delay 
and hindrance, could not always perform that duty. 

' Mr. V[ernon], that provident, great admiral, 
who never suffered any useful precaution to escape 
him, concerted some signals for so good a purpose, 
wisely foreseeing their use and necessity, giving 
them to the captains of the squadron under his 
command. And lest his vigilance should be some 
time or other surprised by an enemy, or the exigencies 
of his master's service should require him to attack 
or repulse by night, he appointed signals for the 
line of battle, engaging, chasing, leaving off chase, 
with many others altogether new, excellent and 
serviceable, which show his judgment, abilities, and 
zeal. The author takes the liberty to print them 
for the improvement of his brethren, who, if they 
take the pains to peruse them, will receive benefit 
and instruction.' 

Here, then, we have indisputable evidence that 
the system which gave elasticity to the old rigid 
Fighting Instructions began with Admiral Vernon, 
who as a naval reformer is now only remembered 
as the inventor of grog. The high reputation he 
justly held as a seaman and commander amongst 
his contemporaries has long been buried under his 
undeserved failure at Cartagena ; but trained in the 
flagships of Rooke and Shovell, and afterwards as a 
captain under Sir John Norris in the Baltic, there 
was no one till the day of his death in 1757, at the 
age of 73, who held so high a place as a naval 
authority, and from no one was a pregnant tactical 



208 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

reform more likely to come. The Lestock pam- 
phlet, moreover, makes it clear that through all 
the time of his service the dead time of tactics as 
we regard it now tacticians so far from slumbering 
had been striving to release themselves from the 
bonds in which the old instructions tied them. 

This is confirmed by two manuscript authorities 
which have fortunately survived, and which give us 
a clear insight into the new system as it was actually 
set on foot. The first is a MS. copy of some Addi- 
tional Instructions in the Admiralty Library, They 
are less full and clearly earlier than those used by 
Boscawen in 1759, and are bound up with a printed 
copy of the regular Fighting Instructions already- 
referred to, which contain in manuscript the addi- 
tions made by Mathews during his Mediterranean 
command. 1 In so far as they differ from Boscawen's 
they will be found below as notes to his set. 

The second is a highly interesting MS. copy 
of a signal book dated 1756, in which the above 
instructions are referred to. It is in the United 
Service Institution {Register No. 234). At the end 
it contains a memorandum of a new article by which 
Hawke modified the established method of attack, 
and for the first time introduced the principle of 
each ship steering for her opposite in the enemy's 
line. It is printed below, and as will be seen was 
to be substituted for 'Articles V. and VI. of the 
Additional Fighting Instructions by Day ' then in 
force, which correspond to Articles XV. and XVI. 
of Boscawen's set. It does not appear in the 
Boscawen set, and how soon it was regularly 

1 Catalogue, 252/24. The reason this interesting set has been 
overlooked is that the volume in which they are bound bears by 
error the label 'Sailing and Fighting Instructions for H.M. Fleet, 
1670. Record Office Copy.' The Instructions of 1670 were of 
course quite different. 



THEIR GROWTH 209 

incorporated we do not know. No reference has 
been found to it till that by Rodney, in his despatch 
of April 1780 referred to below. 

Of even higher interest for our purpose is another 
entry in the same place of an article also issued by 
Hawke for forming ' line of bearing.' Here again 
the older form of the Additional Fighting Instructions 
is referred to, and the new article is to be inserted 
after Article IV., which was for forming the line 
ahead or abreast. The important point however is 
that the new article is expressly attributed to Lord 
Anson. Now it is known that when Anson in 
April 1747 was cruising off Finisterre for De la 
Jonquiere he kept his fleet continually exercising 
' in forming line and in manoeuvres of battle till 
then absolutely unknown.' l 

The ' line of bearing ' or ' quarter line ' must 
have been one of these, and we therefore reach two 
important conclusions : (i) that this great tactical 
advance was introduced by Anson during the War 
of the Austrian Succession, and (2) that the older 
set of Additional Fighting Instructions was then in 
existence. Another improvement probably assign- 
able to this time was Article IV. (of Boscawen's set) 
for battle order in two separate lines. Articles V., 
VI., VII., for extended cruising formations cer- 
tainly were then issued, for in his despatch after 
his defeat of De la Jonquiere Anson says : ' At 
daybreak I made the signal for the fleet to spread in 
a line abreast, each ship keeping at the distance 
of a mile from the other [Article V.] that there 
might not remain the least probability for the enemy 
to pass by us undiscovered.' 2 

Then we have the notable Article XVIII., not 
in the earlier sets, enjoining captains to pursue any 

1 Diet. Nat. Biog. vol. ii. p. 33. 

2 Barrow, Life of Anson, p. 162 



2io ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

ship they force out of the line, regardless of the 
contrary order contained in Article XXI. of the 
regular Fighting Instructions. We have seen the 
point discussed already in the anonymous commen- 
tary on the Duke of York's final instructions, and it 
remained a bone of contention till the end. Men 
like Sir Charles H. Knowles were as strongly in 
favour of immediately following a beaten adversary 
as the anonymous commentator was in favour of 
maintaining the line. Knowles's idea was that it 
was folly to check the ardour of a ship's company at 
the moment of victory, and he tells us he tried to 
persuade Howe to discard the old instruction when 
he was drawing up his new ones. 1 

As to the further tactical progress which the 
Boscawen instructions disclose, and which nearly all 
appear closely related to the events of the War of the 
Austrian Succession, when Anson was supreme, we 
may particularly note Article I., for equalising the 
lines and using superfluous ships to form a reserve ; 
Article III. for closer action ; Article VIII. for the 
reserve to endeavour to ' Cross the T,' instead of 
doubling ; and Articles IX. and X. for bringing - a 
flying enemy to action. 

With these internal inferences to corroborate the 
direct evidence of our documents the conclusion is 
clear that during the War of the Austrian Suc- 
cession the new system initiated by Vernon was 
developed by Anson as a consequence of Mathews's 
miserable action off Toulon in 1 744, and that its first 
fruits were gathered in the brilliant successes of 
Hawke and Anson himself in 1747. 

Though no complete set later than those used 

by Boscawen is known to exist, we may be certain 

from various indications that they continued to be 

issued as affording a means of giving elasticity to 

1 Observations on Naval Tactics, &., p. 27. 



LATER FORMS 211 

tactics, and that they were constantly issued in 
changing form. Thus Rodney, in his report after 
the action off Martinique in April 1780, says, 'I 
made the signal for every ship to bear down and 
steer for her opposite in the enemy's line, agreeable 
to the twenty-first article of the Additional Instruc- 
tions.' Again in a MS. signal book in the Admi- 
ralty Library, which was used in Rodney's great 
action of April 12, 1782, and drawn up by an offi- 
cer who was present, a similar article is referred to. 
But there it appears as No. XVII. of the Additional 
Instructions, and its effect is given in a form which 
closely resembles the original article of Hawke : 
' When in a line of battle ahead and to windward 
of the enemy, to alter the course to lead down to 
them ; whereupon every ship is to steer for the ship 
of the enemy, which from the disposition of the two 
squadrons it may be her lot to engage, notwith- 
standing the signal for the line ahead will be kept 
flying.' It is clear, therefore, that between 1780 
and 1782 Rodney or the admiralty had issued a 
new set of 'Additional Instructions.' The amended 
article was obviously designed to prevent a recur- 
rence of the mistake that spoiled the action of 1780. 
In the same volume is a signal which carries the idea 
further. It has been entered subsequently to the 
rest, having been issued by Lord Hood for the 
detached squadron he commanded in March 1783. 
There is no reference to a corresponding instruction, 
but it is ' for ships to steer for (independent of each 
other) and engage respectively the ships opposed to 
them.' In Lord Howe's second signal book, issued 
in I79O, 1 the signal reappears in MS. as 'each 

1 In the Admiralty Library. It is undated, but assigned to 
1792-3. For the reasons for identifying it as Howe's second code 
see post t pp. 234-7. In his first code Howe adopted Hood's 
wording almost exactly; see post, p. 236. 

p 2 



212 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

ship of the fleet to steer for, independently of each 
other, and engage respectively the ship opposed in 
situation to them in the enemy's line.' And in this 
case there is a reference to an ' Additional Instruc- 
tion, No. 8,' indicating that Hood, who had mean- 
while become first sea lord, had incorporated his 
idea into the regular 'Additional Fighting Instruc- 
tions.' 

Take, again, the case of the manoeuvre of 
' breaking the line ' in line ahead. This was first 
practised after its long abandonment by a sudden 
inspiration in Rodney's action of April 12, 1782. In 
the MS. signal book as used by Rodney in that year 
there is no corresponding signal or instruction. 
But it does contain one by Hood which he must have 
added soon after the battle. It is as follows : 
' When fetching up with the enemy to leeward and 
on the contrary tack to break through their line and 
endeavour to cut off part of their van or rear.' It 
also contains another attributed to Admiral Pigot 
which he probably added at Hood's suggestion when 
he succeeded to the command in July 1782. It. is 
for a particular ship ' to cut through the enemy's line 
of battle, and for all the other ships to follow her in 
close order to support each other.' But in both cases 
there is no corresponding instruction, so that the 
new signals must have been based on ' expeditional ' 
orders issued by Pigot and Hood. The same book 
has yet another additional signal ' for the leading 
ship to cut through the enemy's line of battle,' ap- 
parently the latest of the three, but not specifically 
attributed either to Pigot or Hood. 

With the Additional Instructions used by Rodney 
the system culminated. For officers with any real 
feeling for tactics its work was adequate. The 
criticisms of Hood and Rodney on Graves's heart- 
breaking action off the Chesapeake in 1781 show 



CONCENTRATION 213 

this clearly enough. ' When the enemy's van was 
out,' wrote Hood, ' it was greatly extended beyond 
the centre and rear, and might have been attacked 
with the whole force of the British fleet.' And again, 
' Had the centre gone to the support of the van and 
the signal for the line been hauled down . . . the 
van of the enemy must have been cut to pieces and 
the rear division of the British fleet would have been 
opposed to . . . the centre division.' Here, besides 
the vital principle of concentration, we have a germ 
even of the idea of containing, and Rodney is 
equally emphatic. ' His mode of fighting I will 
never follow. He tells me that his line did not 
extend so far as the enemy's rear. I should have 
been sorry if it had, and a general battle ensued. 
It would have given the advantage they wished and 
brought their whole twenty-four ships of the line 
against the English nineteen, whereas by watching 
his opportunity ... by contracting his own line he 
might have brought his nineteen against the enemy's 
fourteen or fifteen, and by a close action have dis- 
abled them before they could have received succour 
from the remainder.' l 

Read with such remarks as these the latest 
Additional Fighting Instructions will reveal to us 
how ripe and sound a system of tactics had been 
reached. The idea of crushing part of the enemy 
by concentration had replaced the primitive intention 
of crowding him into a confusion ; a swift and 
vigorous attack had replaced the watchful defensive, 
and above all the true method of concentration had 
been established ; for although a concentration on 
the van was still permissible in exceptional circum- 
stances, the chief of the new articles are devoted to 
concentrating on the rear. Thus our tacticians had 
worked out the fundamental principles on which 
1 Letters of Sir Samuel Hood, p. 46 ; and cf. post, p. 228 n. 



2i 4 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

<q 

Nelson's system rested, even to breaking up the 
line into two divisions. ' Containing ' alone was 
not yet clearly enunciated, but by Hood's signals 
for breaking the line, the best method of effecting 
it was made possible. Everything indeed lay ready 
for the hands of Howe and Nelson to strike into 
life. 



ADMIRAL VERNON, circa 1740. 
[Mathews-Lestock Pamphlets. 1 ] 

An Additional Instruction to be added to the 
Fighting Instructions. 

In case of meeting any squadron of the enemy's 
ships, whose number may be less than those of the 
squadron of his majesty's ships under my command, 
and that I would have any of the smaller ships quit 
the line, I will in such case make the signal for 
speaking with the captain of that ship I would have 
quit the line ; and at the same time I will put a flag, 
striped yellow and white, at the flagstaff at the main 
topmast-head, upon which the said ship or ships 
are to quit the line and the next ships are to close 
the line, for having our ships of greatest force to 
form a line just equal to the enemy's. And as, 
upon the squadrons engaging, it is not to be ex- 
pected that the ships withdrawn out of the line can 
see or distinguish signals at such a juncture, it is 
therefore strictly enjoined and required of such 
captain or captains, who, shall have their signal 
or signals made to withdraw out of the line, to 
demean themselves as a corps de reserve to the 
main squadron, and to place themselves in the best 

1 ' A Narrative of the Proceedings of his Majesty's Fleet 
in the Mediterranean, &c. By a Sea Officer ' London, 1744, pp. 



1 1 1-2. 



VERNON, 1740 215 

situation for giving relief to any ship of the 
squadron that may be disabled or hardest pressed by 
the enemy, having in the first place regard to the 
ship I shall have my flag on board, as where the 
honour of his majesty's flag is principally concerned. 
And as it is morally impossible to fix any general 
rule to occurrences that must be regulated from the 
weather and the enemy's disposition, this is left 
to the respective captain's judgment that shall be 
ordered out of the line to govern himself by as 
becomes an officer of prudence, and as he will 
answer the contrary at his peril. 

Memorandum* That whereas all signals for the 
respective captains of the squadron are at some one 
of the mast-heads, and as when we are in line of 
battle or in other situations it may be difficult for the 
ships to distinguish their signal, in such case you are 
to take notice that your signal will be made by fixing 
the pennant higher upon the topgallant shrouds, so 
as it may be most conspicuous to be seen by the 
respective ship it is made for. 

A second Additional Instruction to the Fighting 
Instructions. 

If, at any time after our ships being engaged 
with any squadron of the enemy's ships, the admiral 
shall judge it proper to come to a closer engage- 
ment with the enemy than at the distance we first 
began to engage, the admiral will hoist a union flag at 
the main topmast-head and fire a gun on the opposite 
side to which he is engaged with the enemy, when 
every ship is to obey the signal, taking the dis- 
tance from the centre ; and if the admiral would 
have any particular ship do so he will make the 
same signal with the signal for the captain of that 
ship. 



216 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

And in case of being to leeward of the enemy, 
the admiral will at the same time he makes this 
signal hoist the yellow flag at the fore topmast-head 
for filling and making sail to windward. 

And during the time of engagement, every ship 
is to appoint a proper person to keep an eye upon 
the admiral and to observe signals. 



LORD AN SON, circa 1747. 
[MS. Signal Book, 1756, United Service Institution.] 

Lord Ansoris Additional Fighting Instruction, to 
be inserted after Article the ^th in the Additional 
Fighting Instructions by Day. 

Whereas it may often be necessary for ships 
in line of battle to regulate themselves by bearing 
on some particular point of the compass from each 
other without having any regard to their bearing 
abreast or ahead of one another ; 

You are therefore hereby required and directed 
to strictly observe the following instructions : 

When the signal is made for the squadron to 
draw into a line of battle at any particular distance, 
and I would have them keep north and south of 
each other, I will hoist a red flag with a white 
cross in the mizen topmast shrouds to show the 
quarter of the compass, and for the intermediate 
points I will hoist on the flagstaff at the mizen top- 
mast-head, when they are to bear 

N by E and S by W, one common pennant 

NNE SSW, two common pennants 

NEbyN,, SW by S, three 

NE SW, a Dutch jack. 



ANSON, 1747 217 

And I will hoist under the Dutch jack when I would 
have them bear 

NE by E and SW by W, one common pennant 
ENE ,, WSW, two common pennants 

E by N W by S, three 
and fire a gun with each signal. 

When I would have them bear from each other 
on any of the points on the NW and SE quarters 
I will hoist a blue and white flag on the mizen 
topmast shrouds, to show the quarter of the com- 
pass and distinguish the intermediate points they 
are to form on from the N and S in the same 
manner as in the NE and SW quarter. 1 

ED. HAWKE. 



SIR ED WARD HA WKE, 1756. 
[MS. Signal Book, United Service Institution.] 

Memorandum. 

In room of Articles V. and VI. of the 'Addi- 
tional Fighting Instructions by Day' 2 it is in my 
discretion that this be observed, viz. : 

When sailing in a line of battle, one ship ahead 
of another, and I would have the ship that leads 
with either the starboard or larboard tacks aboard 
to alter her course in order to lead down to the 
enemy, I will hoist a Dutch jack under my flag at 

1 From this article it would appear that the correct expression 
for ' line of bearing ' is ' quarter line ' i.e. a line formed in a quarter 
of the compass, and that ' bow and quarter line ' is due to false 
etymology. Though Hawke approved the formation, it does not 
appear in the Additional Instructions used by Boscawen in 1759. 
It was however regularly incorporated in those used in the War of 
American Independence. See/<?^, p. 225, Art. III. 

2 I.e. the older set. They were Articles XV. and XVI. of the 
remodelled set used by Boscawen in 1759. 



218 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

the mizen topmast-head and fire two guns. Then 
every ship of the squadron is to steer for the ship 
of the enemy that from the disposition of the two 
squadrons must be her lot to engage, notwith- 
standing I shall keep the signal for the line ahead 
flying, making or shortening sail in such proportion 
as to preserve the distance assigned by the signal 
for the line, in order that the whole squadron as 
soon as possible may come to action at the same 
time. 1 

ED. HAWKE. 

Additional Signals. 

If upon seeing an enemy I should think it 
necessary to alter the disposition of the ships in the 
line of battle, and would have any ships change 
station with each other, I will make the signal to 
speak with the captains of such ships, and hoist the 
flag chequered red and blue on the flagstaff at the 
mizen topmast-head. 2 

1 This article was presumably issued by Hawke when in July 
1756 he superseded Byng in the Mediterranean. It seems' 
designed to prevent a recurrence of the errors which lost the 
battle of Minorca, where the British van was crushed by coming 
into action long before the centre and rear. It is not in the 
Additional Instructions of 1759, but reappears in a modified form 
in those of 1780. 

2 This article is entered in the same signal book, but has no 
signature. It may therefore have been one of Anson's innova- 
tions. 



BOSCAWEN, 1759 219 



ADMIRAL BOSCAWEN, 1759. l 
[From the original in the Admiralty Library, 252/29.] 

I. In case of meeting with a squadron of the 
enemy's ships that may be less in number than the 
squadron under my command, if I would have any 
of the smaller ships quit the line, that those of the 
greatest force may be opposed to the enemy, I will 
put abroad the signal for speaking with the captains 
of such ships as I would have leave the line, and 
hoist a flag, striped yellow and white, at the flag- 
staff at the main topmast-head ; then the next ships 
are to close the line, and those that have quitted it 
are to hold themselves in readiness to assist any 
ship that may be disabled, or hard pressed, or to take 
her station, if she is obliged to go out of the line : 
in which case, the strongest ship that is withdrawn 
from the line is strictly enjoined to supply her place, 
and fill up the vacancy. 

II. And in case of meeting with any squadron, 
or ships of war of the enemy that have merchant- 
men under their convoy, though the signal for the 
line of battle should be out, if I would have any of 
the frigates that are out of the line, or any ship of 
the line fall upon the convoy, whilst the others are 
engaged, I will put abroad the pennant for speaking 
with the captain of such ship or ships, and hoist the 
flag above mentioned for quitting the line, with a 
pennant under it ; upon which signal, such ship or 
ships are to use their utmost endeavours to take or 
destroy the enemy. 

III. If at any time while we are engaged with 

1 The articles marked with an asterisk are additions subsequent 
to and not appearing in the earlier Admiralty MS. 252/24, 'Addi- 
tional Fighting Instructions by Day ' (see p. 108). 



220 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

the enemy, the admiral shall judge it proper to come 
to a closer engagement than at the distance we 
then are, he will hoist a red and white flag on the 
flagstaff at the main topmast-head, and fire a gun. 
Then every ship is to engage the enemy at the same 
distance the admiral does ; and if the admiral would 
have any particular ship do so, he will make the same 
signal, and the signal for speaking with the captain. 
IV. 1 When I would have the two divisions of 
the fleet form themselves into a separate line of 
battle, one ship ahead of another at the distance of 
a cable's length asunder, and each division to be 
abreast of the other, when formed at the distance of 
one cable's length and a half, I will hoist a flag 
chequered blue and yellow at the mizen peak, and 
fire a gun, and then every ship is to get into her 
station accordingly, 

*V. 2 When I would have the fleet spread in a line 
abreast, each ship keeping at the distance of one 
mile from the other, I will hoist a flag chequered 
blue and yellow, on the flagstaff at the mizen top- 
mast-head, and fire a gun. 

*VI. When I would have the ships spread in a 
line directly ahead of each other, and keep at the 
distance of a mile asunder, I will hoist a flag 
chequered red and white at the mizen peak, and fire 
a gun. 

*VII. And when the signal is made for the 
ships to spread either abreast or ahead of one 
another, and I would have them keep at the dis- 
tance of two miles asunder, I will hoist a pennant 
under the fore-mentioned flags : then every ship is 
to make sail, and get into her station accordingly. 

1 In the earlier Admiralty MS. this article is numbered VII. 
and begins ' If the fleet should happen to be in two divisions 
and I would have them form,' &c. 

3 Used by Lord Anson in 1747. See stipra, p. 209. 



BOSCAWEN, 1759 221 

VIII. If I should meet with a squadron of the 
enemy's ships of war inferior in number to the ships 
under my command, those ships of my squadron 
(above the number of the enemy) that happen to 
fall in either ahead of the enemy's van or astern of 
his rear, while the rest of the ships are engaged, are 
hereby required, and directed to quit the line 
without waiting for the signal, and to distress the 
enemy by raking the ships in the van and rear, 
notwithstanding the first part of the twenty-fourth 
article of the Fighting Instructions to the con- 
trary. 

IX. And if I should chase with the whole squa- 
dron, and would have a certain number of the ships 
that are nearest the enemy draw into a line of battle 
ahead of me, in order to engage till the rest of the 
ships of the squadron can come up with them, I will 
hoist a white flag with a red cross on the flagstaff 
at the main topmast-head, and fire the number of 
guns as follows : 

/five ships \ draw into a line /one gun. 
When I I of battle, ahead ] 

would have 1 of each other, I j 

(seven ships! will fire \ three guns. 

X. Then those ships are immediately to form 
the line without any regard to seniority or the 
general form delivered, but according to their 
distances from the enemy, viz., The headmost and 
nearest ship to the enemy is to lead, and the stern- 
most to bring up the rear, that no time may be lost 
in the pursuit ; and all the rest of the ships are to 
form and strengthen that line, as soon as they can 
come up with them, without any regard to my 
general form of the order of battle. 

XI. Whereas every ship is directed (when 
sailing in a line of battle) to keep the same distances 
those ships do who are nearest the admiral, always 



222 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 



taking it from the centre : if at any time I think the 
ship ahead of me is [at] too great a distance, I will 
make it known to him by putting abroad a pennant 
at the jib-boom end, and keep it flying till he is in 
his proper station : and if he finds the ship ahead of 
him is at a greater distance from him than he is 

from the l - (or such ship as my flag shall be 

flying on board of), he shall make the same signal at 
his jib-boom end, and keep it flying till he thinks 
that ship is at a proper distance, and so on to the 
van of the line. 

XII. And when I think the ship astern of me 
is at too great a distance, I will make it known to 
him by putting abroad a pennant at the cross-jack 
yard-arm, and keep it flying till he is in his station : 
and if he finds the ship astern of him is at a greater 

-distance than he is from the (or such ship 

as my flag shall be flying aboard of) he shall make 
the same signal at the cross-jack yard-arm, and keep 
it flying till he thinks that the ship is at a proper 
distance, and so on to the rear of the line. 

XIII. And if at any time the captain of any 
particular ship in the line thinks the ship without 
him is at a greater distance than those ships who 
are next the centre, he shall make the above signal : 
and then that ship is immediately to close, and get 
into his proper station. 

XIV. 2 When the signal is made for the squa- 
dron to draw into a line of battle, one ship ahead of 
another, by hoisting a union flag at the mizen peak 
and firing a gun, every ship is to make all the sail 
he can into his station, and keep at the distance of 

1 The earlier Admiralty MS. has simply 'the ship my flag 
shall be aboard of.' 

2 Article IV. in the earlier Admiralty MS. It is practically 
identical except that it has ' she ' and ' her ' throughout where ships 
are spoken of, and a few other verbal differences. 



BOSCAWEN, 1759 223 

half a cable's length from each other : If I would 
have them to be a cable's length asunder, I will 
hoist a blue flag, with a red cross under the union 
flag at the mizen peak and fire a gun : and if two 
cables' length asunder, a white and blue flag under 
the union flag at the mizen peak, and fire a gun : 
but when I would have the squadron draw into a 
line of battle, one ship abreast of another, and 
keep at those distances as above directed, I will 
hoist a pennant under the said flags at the mizen 
peak. 

XV. 1 When sailing in a line of battle, one ship 
ahead of another, and I would have the ship who 
leads to alter her course and lead more to star- 
board, I will hoist a flag striped white and blue at 
the fore topmast-head, and fire a gun for every 
point of the compass I would have the course 
altered. 

XVI. 1 And if I would have the ship that leads 
to alter her course and lead more to port, I will 
hoist a flag striped blue and white on the flagstaff 
at the mizen topmast-head, and fire a gun for every 
point of the compass I would have the course 
altered, and every ship in the squadron is to get 
into her wake as fast as possible. 

XVII. 2 When I would have all the fireships to 

1 Articles V. and VI. in the earlier Admiralty MS. 

' 2 The equivalent of Article XIV. in the earlier Admiralty MS. 
which reads thus, ' When I would have the fireships to prime I will 
hoist a pennant striped red and white on the flagstaff at the fore 
topmast-head and fire a gun, but in case we are at any time in 
chase of the enemy's fleet, the fireships are to prime as fast as 
possible whether the signal be made or not.' The Admiralty ATS. 
ends here with another article relating to fireships (No. XV.) : 'You 
are to hold his majesty's ship under your command in a constant 
readiness for action, and in case of coming to an engagement with 
the enemy, if they have the wind of us, to keep your barge 
manned and armed with hand and fire-chain grapnels on the 



224 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

* 

prime, I will hoist a chequered blue and yellow 
pennant at the mizen topmast-head. 

*XVIII. 1 Notwithstanding the general printed 
Fighting Instructions, if at any time, when engaged 
with an equal number of the enemy's ships, and the 
ship opposed to any of his majesty's ships is forced 
out of the line, you are hereby required and 
directed to pursue her, and endeavour to take and 
destroy her. 

Memorandum. When the squadron is in a line 
of battle ahead, and the signal is made for the 
headmost and weathermost to tack, the ship that 
leads on the former tack is to continue to lead after 
tacking. 2 

*XIX. 3 When I would have the ship or ships 
that chase bring down their chase to me, I will 
hoist a blue flag pierced with white on the fore top- 
gallant mast, not on the flagstaff. 

*XX. 3 When I find it necessary to have the 
state and condition of the ships in the squadron 
sent on board me, I will make the signal for all 
lieutenants, and hoist a blue and white flag at the 
mizen peak and fire a gun. If for the state and con- 
dition of a particular ship, I make the signal for the 
lieutenant of that ship, with the flag at the mizen peak. 

offside from them, to be ready to assist as well any ship that may- 
be attempted by the fireships of the enemy, as our own fireships 
when they shall be ordered upon service.' This article disappears 
from subsequent sets, and was perhaps incorporated into the 
' General Instructions to Captains ' to which it more properly 
belongs. The MS. also contains ' Night Signals ' and private 
signals for knowing detached ships rejoining at night. 

1 Whoever was the author of this article, it was generally 
regarded as too risky and subsequently disappeared. The article 
of the ' printed Fighting Instructions ' referred to is No. XXI. 

2 This memorandum, which concludes the printed portion, 
must have been added in view of the misconception which 
occurred in Knowles's action of 1 748. 

3 MS. additions by Boscawen. 



RODNEY, 1782 225 

Given under my hand on board his majesty's 
ship Namur, in Gibraltar Bay, this 27 April, 1759. 

E. BOSCAWEN 

To Capt. Medows, (autograph), 

of his majesty's ship Shannon. 
By command of the admiral 

ALEX. MACPHERSON 
(autograph). 



SIR GEORGE RODNEY, 1782.' 
[MS. Signal Book in the Admiralty Library.] 

1. Line ahead at one cable. 

2. Line abreast at one cable. 

3. Quarter lines on various compass bearings. 

4. When in line ahead to alter course to star- 
board or port together one gun for every point. 2 

5. The same when in line abreast. 2 

6. To form order of sailing. 3 

' The actual Additional Fighting Instructions used by 
Rodney for his famous campaign of 1782 are lost ; what follows 
are merely the drift of those instructions so far as they can be 
determined from the references to them in his signal book. It 
should be noted that by this time those used in the Seven Years' 
War had been entirely recast in a more logical form. 

2 Cf. Boscawen's Nos. 15 and 16. 

3 According to Sir Chas. H. Knowles the regular sailing forma- 
tion at this time for a large fleet was in three squadrons abreast, 
each formed in bow and quarter line to starboard and port of its 
flag. He says it was his father's treatise on Tactics which induced 
Howe to revert to Hoste's method, and adopt the formation of 
squadrons abreast in line ahead. This, he adds, Howe used for 
the first time when sailing to relieve Gibraltar in 1782. Thence- 
forth it became the rule of the service, and the subsequent signal 
books contain signals for forming line of battle from two, three, and 
six columns of sailing respectively. This Knowles regards as the 
great reform on which modern tactics were founded. See his 
Observations on Tactics, 1830. 

Q 



226 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

* 

7. When in line of battle for the whole fleet to 
tack together. 

8. When in line of battle for the next ship 
ahead or on the starboard beam, which is at too 
great a distance, to close. 

9. The same for the next astern or on the 
larboard beam. 

10. (Undetermined.) 

11. The fleet to form in two separate lines 
ahead at one cable's distance, each division abreast 
of the other at two cables' distance. 1 

12. (?) Particular ships to come under the 
admiral's stern without hail. 2 

1 3. Ships to change stations in the line of battle. 

14. When in chase for the headmost ship to 
engage the sternmost of the enemy, and the next 
ship to pass, under cover of her fire, and take the 
ship next ahead, and so on in succession, without 
respect to seniority or the prescribed order of battle. 
To engage to windward or leeward as directed by 
signal.^ 

15. The whole fleet being in chase, for some 
of the headmost ships to draw into line of battle 
and engage the enemy's rear, at the same time 
endeavouring to get up with their van. Note. 
These ships to form without any regard to seniority 
or the order of battle. The ship nearest the 
enemy is to lead and the sternmost to bring up the 
rear. Signal. Red flag with white cross at main 
topmast-head with one gun for five ships, and three 
for seven. 4 

1 Cf. Boscawen's No. 4. 

2 This may be an Additional Sailing Instruction, the various 
sets of Additional Instructions not being distinguished in the 
signal book. 

3 This article may well have been the outcome of Hawke's 
defeat of L'Etenduere in 1747, when he chased and engaged 
practically as the instruction directs, and with complete success. 

4 Cf. Boscawen's Nos. 9 and 10. 



RODNEY, 1782 227 

1 6. When turning to windward in line of battle 
for the leading ship to make known when she 
can weather the enemy. To be repeated from 
ship to ship to the commander-in-chief. If he 
should stand on till the sternmost ship can weather 
them, she is to make it known by hoisting a 
common pennant at the fore topgallant mast-head ; 
to be repeated as before. The sternmost ship is 
likewise to do so whenever the squadron shall be to 
windward of the enemy, and her commander shall 
judge himself far enough astern of their rear to lead 
down out of their line of fire. 

17. When in line of battle ahead and to wind- 
ward of the enemy, to alter course to lead down to 
them : whereupon every ship is to steer for the 
ship of the enemy which from the disposition of the 
two squadrons it may be her lot to engage, not- 
withstanding the signal for the line ahead will be 
kept flying. 1 

1 8. When to windward of the enemy or in any 
other position that will admit, for the headmost ship 
to lead down out of their line of fire and attack their 
rear, the second from the leader to pass under her 
fire, and take the second ship of the enemy, and so 
on in succession. To engage to starboard or lar- 
board according to signal. 

19. To come to a closer engagement. 2 

20. For particular ships to quit the line. 

21. For particular ships to attack the enemy's 
convoy. 3 

22. For all fireships to prime. 4 

23. On discovering a superior force. 

1 This appears to correspond to Article XXI. of the Additional 
Fighting Instructions in use in 1780, to which Rodney referred in 
his report on the action of April 1 7 in that year. 

2 Cf. Boscawen's No. 3. 3 Cf. Boscawen's No. 2. 
4 Cf. Boscawen's No. 17. 

Q2 



228 ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 

24. For three-decked and heavy ships to draw 
out of their places in the line of battle, and form in 
the van or rear of the fleet. 

25. To attack the enemy's centre. 1 

26. To attack the enemy's rear. 1 

27. To attack the enemy's van. 1 

28. To make sail ahead on a bearing from the 
admiral. 2 

29. In cruising to form line ahead or abreast at 
one or two miles' distance. 3 

LORD HOOUS ADDITIONS, 1783.* 
[MS. Signal Book in the Admiralty Library.] 

1. For the ships to steer for (independent of 
each other) and engage respectively the ships 
opposed to them. 

2. When in line of battle, for the leading ship to 
carry as much sail as her commander judges the 
worst sailing ship can preserve her station with all 
her plain sail set. 

3. To prepare to reef topsails together. 

1 In connection with these three articles the following dictum 
attributed to Rodney should be recalled : ' During all the 
commands Lord Rodney has been entrusted with he made it a 
rule to bring his whole force against a part of the enemy's, and 
never was so absurd as to bring ship to ship when the enemy 
gave him an opportunity of acting otherwise.' And cf. supra^ p. 213. 

2 This may be an Additional Sailing Instruction. 

3 Cf. Boscawen's Nos. 5, 6 and 7. A number of other 
Additional Instructions are referred to, but they seem to relate 
to Sailing, Chasing or General Instructions. No more Fighting 
Instructions can be identified. 

4 See pp. 2 1 1-2. These additional signals are all added in 
paler ink, with those made by Admiral Pigot. In the original 
they occur on various pages without numbers. In the text above 
they have merely been numbered consecutively for convenience 
of reference. Hood was made a viscount September 12, 1782, 
and began to issue these orders on March u, 1783, when he had 
a squadron placed under his command. 



HOOD, 1783 229 

4. When in line of battle or otherwise for the 
men to go to dinner. 

5. After an action for the ships to signify 
whether they are in a condition to renew it. 1 

6. For ships in chase or looking out to alter 
course to port or starboard. 

7. To stay by or repair to the protection of 
prizes or ships under convoy. 

8. When fetching up with the enemy and to 
leeward, or on a contrary tack, to break through 
their line, and to endeavour to cut off part of their 
van or rear. 

9. For the leading ship to cut through the 
enemy's line of battle. 

10. To signify that the admiral will carry 
neither top nor stern lights. Note. The fleet imme- 
diately to close. 

1 1. For particular ships to reconnoitre the 
enemy in view, and to return to make known their 
number and force. 

12. For a particular ship to keep between the 
fleet and that of the enemy during the night, to 
communicate intelligence. 2 

13. To signify to a ship that she mistakes the 
signal that was made to her. 

14. To prepare to hoist French or Spanish 
colours. 

15. For a particular ship to open her fire on the 
ship opposed to her. 

1 6. When a ship is in distress in battle. 

17. Signal to call attention of larboard or star- 
board line of the division only. 3 

1 Ascribed also to Pigot. 

2 Also ascribed to Pigot. 

3 The MS. has also an additional signal ascribed to Pigot for 
a particular ship to cut through the enemy's line of battle, and for 
the other ships to follow her in close order to support each other. 



PART IX 
THE LAST PHASE 

I. LORD HOWE'S FIRST SIGNAL BOOK 

II. SIGNAL BOOKS OF THE GREAT WAR 

III. NELSON'S TACTICAL MEMORANDA 

IV. ADMIRAL GAMBIER, 1807 

V. LORD COLLINGWOOD, 1808-1810 

VI. SIR ALEXANDER COCHRANE'S INSTRUC- 
TIONS 

VII. THE SIGNAL BOOK OF 1816 



THE NEW SIGNAL BOOK 
INSTRUCTIONS 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE time-worn Fighting Instructions of Russell 
and Rooke with their accretion of Additional 
Instructions did not survive the American War. 
Some time in that fruitful decade of naval reform 
which elapsed between the peace of 1783 and the 
outbreak of the Great War they were superseded. 
It was the indefatigable hand of Lord Howe that 
dealt them the long-needed blow, and when the 
change came it was sweeping. It was no mere 
substitution of a new set of Instructions, but a 
complete revolution of method. The basis of the 
new tactical code was no longer the Fighting 
Instructions, but the Signal Book. Signals were no 
longer included in the Instructions, and the Instruc- 
tions sank to the secondary place of being ' explana- 
tory ' to the Signal Book. 1 

1 The first attempt to provide a convenient Signal Book 
separate from the Instructions was made privately by one 
Jonathan Greenwood about 1715. He produced a small 12 mo. 
volume dedicated to Admiral Edward Russell, Earl of Orford, 
and the other lords of the admiralty who were then serving with 
him. It consists of a whole series of well-engraved plates of 
ships flying the various signals contained in the Sailing and Fight- 
ing Instructions, each properly coloured with its signification 



234 THE LAST PHASE 



The earliest form in which these new ' Explana- 
tory Instructions' are known is a printed volume in 
the Admiralty Library containing a complete set of 
Fleet Instructions, and entitled ' Instructions for the 
conduct of ships of war explanatory of and relative 
to the Signals contained in the Signal Book here- 
with delivered.' The Signal Book is with it. 1 
Neither volume bears any date, but both are in the 
old folio form which had been traditional since the 
seventeenth century. They are therefore presum- 
ably earlier than 1790 when the well-known quarto 
form first came into use, and as we shall see from 
internal evidence they cannot have been earlier 
than 1782. Nor is there any direct evidence that 
they are the work of Lord Howe, but the 'signifi- 
cations ' of the signals bear unmistakable marks of 
his involved and cumbrous style, and the code itself 
closely resembles that he used during the Great 
War. With these indications to guide us there is 
little difficulty in fixing with practical certainty both 
date and authorship from external sources. 2 

added beneath. The author says he designed the work as a 
pocket companion to the Printed Instructions and for the use of 
inferior officers who had not access to them. Copies are in the 
British Museum and the R.U.S.I. Library. 

1 Catalogue, Nos. 252/27 and 252/26. 

2 A still earlier Signal Book attributed to Lord Howe is in 
the United Service Institution, but it is no more than a condensed 
and amended form of the established one. Its nature and intention 
are explained by No. 10 of the ' explanatory observations ' which he 
attached to it. It is as follows : ' All the signals contained in 
the general printed Signal Book which are likely to be needful on 
the present occasion being provided for in this Signal Book, 
the signals as appointed in the general Signal Book will only be 
made either in conformity to the practice of some senior officer 
present, or when in company for the time being with other ships 
not of the fleet under the admiral's command, and unprovided 
with these particular signals.' It was therefore probably issued 
experimentally, but what the ' present occasion ' was is not indi- 
cated. It contains none of the additional signals of 1782-3. 



CHARLES H. KNOWLES 235 

In a pamphlet published by Admiral Sir Charles 
Henry Knowles in 1830, when he was a very old 
man, he claims to have invented the new code of 
numerical signals which Howe adopted. The pam- 
phlet is entitled ' Observations on Naval Tactics 
and on the Claims of Clerk of Eldin,' and in the 
course of it he says that about 1777 he devised this 
new system of signals, and gave it to Howe on his 
arrival in the summer of that year at Newport, in 
Rhode Island, 'and his lordship,' he says, 'after- 
wards introduced them into the Channel Fleet.' 
Further, he says, he soon after invented the tabular 
system of flags suggested by the chess-board, and 
published them in the summer of 1778. To this 
work he prefixed as a preface the observations of 
his father, Sir Charles Knowles, condemning the 
existing form of sailing order, and recommending 
Pere Hoste's old form in three columns, and this 
order, he says, Howe adopted for the relief of 
Gibraltar in September 1782. He also infers that 
the alleged adoption of his signals in the Channel 
Fleet was when Lord Howe commanded it before 
he became first lord of the admiralty for the 
second time that is, before he succeeded Keppel in 
December 1 783. For during the peace Knowles tells 
us he made a second communication to Howe on 
tactics, of which more must be said later on. The 
inference therefore is that when Knowles says that 
Howe adopted his code in the Channel Fleet it 
must have been the first time he took command of 
it that is, on April 2, 1782^ 

1 Knowles was of course too old in 1830 for his memory to be 
trusted as to details. A note in his handwriting upon a copy 
of his code in possession of the present baronet gives its story 
simply as follows: 'These signals were written in 1778, as an 
idea altered and published then altered again in 1 780 after- 
wards arranged differently in 1787, and finally in 1794; but not 
printed at Sir C. H. Knowles's expense until 1798, when they 



236 THE LAST PHASE 

Now if, as Knowles relates and there is no 
reason to doubt this part of his story Howe did 
issue a new code of signals some time before sailing 
for Gibraltar in 1782, and if at the time, as Knowles 
also says, he had been studying Hoste, internal evi- 
dence shows almost conclusively that these folios 
must be the Signal Book in question. From end 
to end the influence of Hoste's Treatise and of 
Rodney's tactics in 1782 is unmistakable. 1 

From Hoste it takes not only the sailing forma- 
tion in three columns, but re-introduces into the 
British service the long-discarded manoeuvre of 
'doubling.' For this there are three signals, Nos. 
222-4, f r doubling the van, doubling the rear, 
and for the rear to double the rear. From Hoste 
also it borrows the method of giving battle to a 
superior force, which the French writer apparently 
borrowed from Torrington. The signification of 
the signal is as follows : ' No. 232. When inferior 
in number to the enemy, and to prevent being 
doubled upon in the van or rear, for the van 
squadron to engage the headmost ships of the 
enemy's line, the rear their sternmost, and the 
centre that of the enemy, whose surplus ships will 
then be left out of action in the vacant spaces 
between our squadrons.' 

The author's obligations to the recent campaigns 
of Rodney and Hood are equally clear. Signal 236 
is, * For ships to steer for independent of each other 
and engage respectively the ships opposed to them in 
the enemy's line,' and this was a new form of the signal, 
which, according to the MS. Signal Book of 1782, 

were sent to the admiralty, but they were not published, although 
copies have been given to sea officers.' 

1 A partial translation of Hoste had been published by Lieu- 
tenant Christopher O'Bryen, R.N., in 1762. Captain BoswalPs 
complete translation was not issued till 1834. 



HOWE'S FIRST CODE 237 

was introduced by Hood. 1 Still more significant is 
Signal 235, ' when fetching up with the enemy to 
leeward, and on the contrary tack, to break through 
their line and endeavour to cut off part of their 
van or rear.' This is clearly the outcome of 
Rodney's famous manoeuvre, and is adopted word 
for word from the signification of the signal that 
Hood added. Pigot, it will be remembered, on 
succeeding Rodney, added two more on the same 
subject, viz. ( i ) ' For the leading ship to cut through 
the enemy's line of battle,' and (2) ' For a parti- 
cular ship specified to cut through the enemy's 
line of battle, and for all the other ships to follow 
her in close order to support each other.' Neither 
of these later signals is in the code we are con- 
sidering, and the presumption is that it was drawn 
up very soon after Rodney's victory and before 
Pigot's signals were known at home. 

Finally there is a MS. note added by Sir Charles 
H. Knowles to his ' Fighting and Sailing Instruc- 
tions,' to the effect that in the instructions issued 
by Howe in 1782 he modified Article XXI. of the 
old Fighting Instructions (i.e. Article XX. of Rus- 
sell's). ' His lordship in 1782,' it says, 'directed by 
his instructions that the line [i.e. his own line] 
should not be broken until all the enemy's ships 
gave way and were beaten.' And this is practically 
the effect of Article XIV. of the set we are consi- 
dering. In the absence of contrary evidence, there- 
fore, there seems good ground for calling these folio 
volumes 'Howe's First Signal Book, 1782,' and 
with this tentative attribution the Explanatory 
Instructions are printed below. 

1 Note that the signal differs from that which Rodney made 
under Article 17 of the Additional Fighting Instructions in his 
action of April 17, 1780, and which being misunderstood spoilt his 
whole attack. 



238 THE LAST PHASE 

As has been already said, these instructions, 
divorced as they now were from the signals, give 
but a very inadequate idea of the tactics in vogue. 
For this we must go to the tactical signals themselves. 
In the present case the more important ones (besides 
those given above) are as follows : 

'No. 218. To attack the enemy's rear in suc- 
cession by ranging up with and opening upon the 
sternmost of their ships ; then to tack or veer, as 
being to windward or to leeward of the enemy, and 
form again in the rear.' This signal, which at first 
sight looks like a curious reversion to the primitive 
Elizabethan method of attack, immediately follows 
the signals for engaging at anchor, and may have 
been the outcome of Hood's experience with De 
Grasse in 1782. 

' No. 232. In working to gain the wind of the 
enemy, for the headmost and sternmost ships to 
signify when they can weather them by Signal 17, 
p. 66 ; or if to windward of the enemy and on the 
contrary tack, for the sternmost ship to signify when 
she is far enough astern of their rear to be able to 
lead down out of their line of fire.' 

' No. 234. When coming up astern and to 
windward of the enemy to engage by inverting the 
line ' that is, for the ship leading the van to engage 
the sternmost of the enemy, the next ship to pass 
on under cover of her fire and engage the second 
from the enemy's rear, and so on. 



HOWE'S FIRST CODE 239 



LORD HOWE, 1782. 
[Admiralty Library 252/27.] 

Instructions respecting the Order of Battle and con- 
duct of the fleet, preparative to and in action 
with the enemy. 

Article I. When the signal is made for the fleet 
to form in order of battle, each captain or commander 
is to get most speedily into his station, and keep 
the prescribed distance from his seconds ahead and 
astern upon the course steered, and under a propor- 
tion of sail suited to that carried by the admiral. 

But when the signal is made for tacking, or on 
any similar occasion, care is to be taken to open, in 
succession, to a sufficient distance for performing the 
intended evolution. And the ships are to close back 
to their former distance respectively as soon as it 
has been executed. 

II. In line of battle, the flag of the admiral com- 
manding in chief is always to be considered as the 
point of direction to the whole fleet, for forming and 
preserving the line. 

III. The squadron of the second in command is 
to lead when forming the line ahead, and to take 
the starboard side of the centre when forming the 
line abreast, unless signal is made to the contrary ; 
these positions however are only restrained to the 
first forming of the lines from the order of sailing. 

For when the fleet is formed upon a line, then in 
all subsequent evolutions the squadrons are not to 
change their places, but preserve the same situation 
in the line whatever position it may bring them into 
with the centre, with respect to being in the van or 
the rear, on the starboard or larboard side, unless 
directed so to do by signal. 



2 4 o THE LAST PHASE 

Suppose the fleet sailing in line ahead on the 
larboard tack, the second in command leading, and 
signal is made to form a line abreast to sail large or 
before the wind, the second squadron in that case is 
to form on the larboard side of the centre. 

Again, suppose in this last situation signal is 
made to haul to the wind, and form a line ahead on 
the starboard tack, in this case the squadron of the 
third in command is to lead, that of the second in 
command forming the rear. 

And when from a line ahead, the squadron of the 
second in command leading, the admiral would 
immediately form the line on the contrary tack by 
tacking or veering together, the squadron of the 
third in command will then become the van. 

These evolutions could not otherwise be per- 
formed with regularity and expedition. 

When forming the line from the order of sailing, 
the ships of each squadron are to be ranged with 
respect to each other in the line in the same manner 
as when in order of sailing each squadron in one 
line ; and, as when the second in command is in the 
van, the headmost ship of his squadron (in sailing 
order) becomes the leading ship of the line, so like- 
wise the headmost ship of the third squadron (in 
sailing order) becomes the leading ship of the line, 
when the third in command takes the van, except 
when the signal is made to form the line reversed. 

Ships happening to have been previously de- 
tached on any service, separate from the body of 
the fleet, when the signal for forming in order of 
battle is made, are not meant to be comprehended 
in the intention of it, until they shall first have been 
called back to the fleet by the proper signal. 

IV. When the fleet is sailing in line of battle 
ahead, the course is to be taken from the ship 
leading the van upon that occasion ; the others in 



HOWE, 1782 241 

succession being to steer with their seconds ahead 
respectively, whilst they continue to be regulated by 
the example of the leading ship. 1 

V. The ships, which from the inequality of their 
rates of sailing cannot readily keep their stations in 
the line, are not to obstruct the compliance with the 
intent of the signal in others ; nor to hazard throwing 
the fleet into disorder by persisting too long in their 
endeavours to preserve their stations under such 
circumstances ; but they are to fall astern and form 
in succession in the rear of the line. 

The captains of such ships will not be thereby 
left in a situation less at liberty to distinguish them- 
selves ; as they will have an opportunity to render 
essential service, by placing their ships to advantage 
when arrived up with the enemy already engaged 
with the other part of the fleet. 

The ships next in succession in order of battle 
are to occupy in turn, on this and every other 
similar occasion, the vacant spaces that would be 
otherwise left in the line ; so that it may be always 
kept perfect at the appointed intervals of distance. 

And when the fleet is sailing large, or before 
the wind, in order of battle, and the admiral makes 
the signal for coming to the wind on either tack, the 
ship stationed to lead the line on that tack, first, and 
the others in succession, as they arrive in the wake 
of that ship and of their seconds ahead respectively, 
are to haul to the wind without loss of time accord- 
ing 1 ^. 

And all the signals for regulating the course and 

motions of the fleet by day or night, after the signal 
for forming in order of battle has been made, are to 
be understood with reference to the continuance of 
the fleet in such order, until the general signal to 

1 This and Article II. appear to be the first mention of work- 
ing the fleet by ' guides.' 



242 THE LAST PHASE 

chase, or to form again in order of sailing, is put 
abroad. 

VI. When the fleet is formed on any line 
pointed out by the compass signal, the relative 
bearing of the ships from each other is to be pre- 
served through every change of course made, as 
often as any alteration thereof together shall be by 
signal directed. 1 

When, on the contrary, the signal to alter the 
course in succession has been put abroad, the 
relative bearing of the ships from each other will 
be then consequently changed ; and any alteration 
of the course subsequently directed to be made by 
the ships together will thereafter have reference to 
the relative bearing last established. The same 
distinction will take place so often as the altera- 
tion of course in succession, as aforesaid, shall in 
future recur. 

VII. If the admiral should observe that the 
enemy has altered his course, and the disposition of 
his order of battle, one, two, three, or any greater 
number of points (in which case it will be necessary 
to make a suitable change in the bearing of the 
ships from each other in the British fleet, supposed 
to be formed in such respects correspondently to the 
first position of the enemy), he will make the signal 
for altering course in succession, according to the 
nature of the occasion. The leading ship of the 
line is thereupon immediately to alter to the course 
pointed out ; and (the others taking their places 
astern of her in succession, as they arrive in the 
wake of that ship and of their seconds ahead 
respectively) she is to lead the fleet in line of battle 

1 The original has here the following erasure : ' The same is 
to be understood of the bearing indicated, though the admiral 
should shape his course from the wind originally when the signal 
for forming upon a line of bearing is made.' 



HOWE, 1782 243 

ahead on the course so denoted, until farther 
order. 

VIII. When it is necessary to shorten or make 
more sail whilst the fleet is in order of battle, and 
the proper signal in either case has been made, the 
fleet is to be regulated by the example of the frigate 
appointed to repeat signals ; which frigate is to set 
or take in the sail the admiral is observed to do. 

The ship referred to is thereupon to suit her sail 
to the known comparative rate of sailing between 
her and the admiral's ship. 

Hence it will be necessary that the captains of 
the fleet be very attentive to acquire a perfect 
knowledge of the comparative rate of sailing 
between their own and the admiral's ship, so as 
under whatever sail the admiral may be, they may 
know what proportion to carry, to go at an equal 
rate with him. 

IX. When, the ships of the fleet being more in 
number than the enemy, the admiral sees proper to 
order any particular ships to withdraw from the line, 
they are to be placed in a proper situation, in 
readiness to be employed occasionally as circum- 
stances may thereafter require to windward of the 
fleet, if then having the weather-gage of the enemy, 
or towards the van and ahead, if the contrary to 
relieve, or go to the assistance of any disabled ship, 
or otherwise act, as by signal directed. 

The captains of ships, stationed next astern of 
those so withdrawn, are directly to close to the van, 
and fill up the vacant spaces thereby made in the 
line. 

When, in presence of an enemy, the admiral 
or commander of any division of the fleet finds it 
necessary to change his station in the line, in order 
to oppose himself against the admiral or com- 
mander in a similar part of the enemy's line, he will 

R 2 



244 THE LAST PHASE 

make the signal for that purpose ; and the ships 
referred to on this occasion are to place themselves 
forthwith against the ships of the enemy, that 
would otherwise by such alteration remain unop- 
posed. 

X. When the fleet is sailing in a line of battle 
ahead, or upon any other bearing, and the signal is 
made for the ships to keep in more open order, it 
will be generally meant that they should keep from 
one to two cables' length asunder, according as the 
milder or rougher state of the weather may require ; 
also that they should close to the distance of half a 
cable, or at least a cable's length, in similar circum- 
stances, when the signal for that purpose is put 
abroad. 

But in both cases, the distance pointed out to 
the admiral's second ahead and astern, by the con- 
tinuance of the flag abroad, as intimated in the 
Signal Book, is to be signified from them respec- 
tively to the ships succeeding them on either part, 
by signals. 

These signals are to be continued either way, 
onward, throughout the line if necessary. 

Notice is to be taken, in the same manner, of 
any continued deviation from the limited distance ; 
and to commence between the several commanders 
of private ships respectively, independent of the 
admiral's previous example, when they observe 
their seconds ahead or astern to be at any time 
separated from them, further than the regulated 
distance kept by the ships next to the admiral, or 
that which was last appointed. 

When the admiral, being before withdrawn 
from the line, means to resume his station therein, 
he will make the signal for the particular ships, be- 
tween which he means to place himself, to open to 
a greater distance, whether it be in his former station, 



HOWE, 1782 245 

or in any other part of the line, better suited for his 
future purpose. 

XI. When any number of ships is occasionally 
detached from the fleet for the same purpose, they 
are, during their separation from the body of the 
fleet, to comply with all such signals as shall be 
made at any time, whilst the signal flag appropriated 
for that occasion remains abroad. 

But the signals made to all ships so appointed, 
having the commander of a squadron or division 
with them, will be under the flag descriptive of such 
commander's squadron or division, whose signals 
and instructions they are to obey. 

XII. Great care is to be taken at all times when 
coming to action not to fire upon the enemy either 
over or near any ships of the fleet, liable to be 
injured thereby ; nor, when in order of battle, until 
the proper signal is made, and that the ships are 
properly placed in respect to situation and distance, 
although the signal may have been before put 
abroad. 

And if, when the signal for battle is made, the 
ships are then steering down for the enemy in an 
oblique direction from each other, they are to haul 
to the wind, or to any order parallel with the enemy, 
to engage them as they arrive in a proper situation 
and distance, without waiting for any more particular 
signal or order for that purpose : regard being only 
had by the several commanders in these circum- 
stances to the motions of the ships preceding them 
on the tack whereunto the course more inclines, and 
upon and towards which the enemy is formed for 
action, that they may have convenient space for 
hauling up clear of each other. 

When our fleet is upon the contrary tack to that 
of the enemy, and standing towards them, and the 
admiral makes the signal to engage, the van ship 



246 THE LAST PHASE 

is then to lead close along their line, with a moderate 
sail, and engage ; the rest of the fleet doing the 
same, passing to windward or to leeward of the 
enemy, as the admiral may direct. 

XIII. When weathering the enemy upon the 
contrary tack, and signal is made to engage their 
van, the leading ship is then to bear down to the 
van ship of the enemy, and engage, passing along 
their line to windward to the sternmost ship of their 
van squadron, then to haul off close to the wind, the 
rest of the fleet doing the same in succession. 1 

XIV. No ship is to separate in time of action 
from the body of the fleet, in pursuit of any small 
number of the enemy's ships beaten out of the line ; 
nor until their main body be also disabled or broken : 
but the captains, who have disabled or forced their 
opponents out of the line, are to use their best 
endeavours to assist any ship of the fleet appearing 
to be much pressed, or the ships nearest to them, to 
hasten the defeat of the enemy, unless otherwise by 
signal, or particular instruction, directed. 2 

XV. When any ship in the fleet is so much 
disabled as to be in the utmost danger and hazard 
of being taken by the enemy, or destroyed, and 
makes the signal expressive of such extremity ; the 
Captains of the nearest ships, most at liberty with 
respect to the state of their opponents in the enemy's 
line, are strictly enjoined to give all possible aid 
and protection to such disabled ship, as they are 
best able. And the captain of any frigate (or fire- 
ship) happening to be at that time in a situation 
convenient for the purpose, is equally required to 

1 It was Nelson's improvement on this unscientific method of 
attack that is the conspicuous feature of his Memorandum, 1803, 
but it must be remembered that Howe had not yet devised the 
manreuvre of breaking the line in all parts on which Nelson's 
improvement was founded. 

8 Cf. note i, p. 224. 



HOWE, 1782 247 

use his utmost endeavours for the relief of such 
disabled ship, by joining in the attack of the ship of 
the enemy opposed to the disabled ship, if he sees 
opportunity to place his ship to advantage, by 
favouring the attempt of the fireship to lay the 
enemy on board, or by taking out any of the crew 
of the disabled ship, if practicable and necessary, as 
may be most expedient. 

XVI. No captain, though much pressed by 
the enemy, is to quit his station in time of battle, if 
possible to be avoided, without permission first 
obtained from the commanding officer of his divi- 
sion, or other nearest flag officer, for that purpose ; 
but, when compelled thereto by extreme neces- 
sity before any adequate assistance is furnished, or 
that he is ordered out of the line on that account, 
the nearest ships and those on each part of the 
disabled ship's station are timely to occupy the 
vacant space occasioned by her absence, before the 
enemy can take advantage thereof. 

And if any captain shall be wanting in the due 
performance of his duty in time of battle, the 
commander of the division, or other flag officer 
nearest to him, is immediately to remove such 
deficient captain from his post, and appoint another 
commander to take the charge and conduct of the 
ship on that occasion. 

XVII. When, from the advantage obtained by 
the enemy over the fleet, or from bad weather, 
or otherwise, the admiral hath by signal signified 
his intention to leave the captains and other com- 
manders at liberty to proceed at their discretion ; 
they are then permitted to act as they see best 
under such circumstances, for the good of the 
king's service and the preservation of their ships, 
without regard to his example. But they are, 
nevertheless, to endeavour at all times to gain the 



248 THE LAST PHASE 

appointed rendezvous in preference, if it can be done 
with safety. 

XVIII. The ships are to be kept at all times 
prepared in readiness for action. And in case of 
coming to an engagement with the enemy, their 
boats are to be kept manned and armed, and pre- 
pared with hand and fire-chain grapnels, and other 
requisites, on the off-side from the enemy, for the 
purpose of assisting any ship of the fleet attempted 
by the fireships of the enemy ; or for supporting 
the fireships of the fleet when they are to proceed 
on service. 

The ships appointed to protect and cover these 
last, or which may be otherwise in a situation to 
countenance their operations, are to take on board 
their crews occasionally, and proceed before them 
down, as near as possible, to the ships of the 
enemy they are destined to attempt. 

The captains of such ships are likewise to be 
particularly attentive to employ the boats they are 
provided with, as well to cover the retreat of the 
fireship's boat, as to prevent the endeavours to be 
expected from the boats of the enemy to intercept 
the fireship, or in any other manner to frustrate the 
execution of the proposed undertaking. 1 

XIX. If the ship of any flag officer be dis- 
abled in battle, the flag officer may embark on 
board any private ship that he sees fit, for carry- 
ing on the service : but it is to be of his own 



1 Howe's insistence on these points both here and in Articles 
XXII. -XXV. is curious in view of the fact that the use of fireships 
in action had gone out of fashion. From 1714 to 1763 only one 
English fireship is known to have been ' expended,' and that was 
by Commander Callis when he destroyed the Spanish galleys at 
St. Tropez in 17/12. At the peace of 1783 the Navy List contained 
only 1 7 fireships out of a total of 468 sail. Howe had two fire- 
ships on the First of June, 1794, but did not use them. 



HOWE, 1782 249 

squadron or division in preference when equally 
suitable for his purpose. 

XX. The flag officers, or commanders of divi- 
sions, are on all occasions to repeat generally, as 
well as with reference to their respective divisions, 
the signals from the admiral, that they may be 
thereby more speedily communicated correspondent 
to his intentions. 

And the purpose of all signals for the conduct 
of particular divisions is then only meant to be carried 
into execution when the signal has been repeated, 
or made by the commanders of such particular 
divisions respectively. In which circumstances they 
are to be always regarded and complied with by 
the ships or divisions referred to, in the same 
manner as if such signals had been made by the 
admiral commanding in chief. 

XXI. When ships have been detached to attack 
the enemy's rear, the headmost ship of such detach- 
ment, and the rest in succession, after having ranged 
up their line as far is judged proper, is then to fall 
astern ; and (the ship that next follows passing 
between her and the enemy) is to tack or wear as 
engaged to windward or leeward, and form in the 
rear of the detachment. 

XXII. When the fleet is to tack in succession, 
the ship immediately following the one going in 
stays should observe to bear up a little, to give her 
room ; and the moment for putting in stays is that 
when a ship discovers the weather quarter of her 
second ahead, and which has just tacked before 
her. 

On this and every other occasion, when the fleet 
is in order of battle, it should be the attention of 
each ship strictly to regulate her motions by those 
of the one preceding her ; a due regard to such a 
conduct being the only means of maintaining the 



250 THE LAST PHASE 

prescribed distance between the ships, and of pre- 
serving a regular order throughout the line. 

XXIII. As soon as the signal is made to 
prepare for battle, the fireships are to get their 
boarding grapnels fixed ; and when in presence of 
an enemy, and that they perceive the fleet is likely 
to come to action, they are to prime although the 
signal for that purpose should not have been made ; 
being likewise to signify when they are ready to 
proceed on service, by putting abroad the appointed 
signal. 

They are to place themselves abreast of the 
ships of the line, and not in the openings between 
them, the better to be sheltered from the enemy's 
fire, keeping a watchful eye upon the admiral, 
so as to be prepared to put themselves in motion 
the moment their signal is made, which they are 
to answer as soon as observed. 

A fireship ordered to proceed on service is to 
keep a little ahead and to windward of the ship 
that is to escort her, to be the more ready to bear 
down on the vessel she is to board, and to board 
if possible in the fore shrouds. By proceeding in 
this manner she will not be in the way of prevent- 
ing the ship appointed to escort her from firing 
upon the enemy, and will run less risk of being 
disabled herself; and the ship so appointed and 
the two other nearest ships are to assist her with 
their boats manned and armed. 

She is to keep her yards braced up, that when 
she goes down to board, and has approached the 
ship she is to attempt, she may have nothing to do 
but to spring her luff. 

Captains of fireships are not to quit them till 
they have grappled the enemy, and have set fire to 
the train. 

XXIV. Frigates have it in particular charge to 



HOWE, 1782 251 

frustrate the attempts of the enemy's fireships, and 
to favour those of our own. When a fireship of 
the enemy therefore attempts to board a ship of 
the line, they are to endeavour to cut off the boats 
that attend her, and even to board her, if necessary. 

XXV. The boats of a ship attempted by an 
enemy's fireship, with those of her seconds ahead 
and astern, are to use their utmost efforts to tow 
her off, the ships at the same time firing to sink 
her. 

XXVI. In action, all the ships in the fleet are 
to wear red ensigns. 



252 THE LAST PHASE 



THE SIGNAL BOOKS OF THE GREAT 

WAR 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE second form in which the new Fighting 
Instructions, originated by Lord Howe, have come 
down to us, is that which became fixed in the 
service after 1 790 ; that is, instead of two folio 
volumes with the Signals in one and the Explana- 
tory Instructions in the other, we have, at least after 
1799, one small quarto containing both, and entitled 
' Signal Book for Ships of War.' The earliest 
known example, however, of the new quarto form 
is a Signal Book only, which refers to a set of 
Instructions apparently similar to those of 1799. 
These have not been found, but presumably they, 
were in a separate volume. The Signal Book is 
in the Admiralty Library labelled in manuscript 
' 1792-3 (?),' but, as before, no date or signature 
appears in the body of it. From internal evidence, 
however, as well as from collateral testimony, there 
is little difficulty in identifying it as Lord Howe's 
second code issued in 1790. 

The feature of the book that first strikes us is 
that, though the bulk of it is printed, all the most 
important battle signals, as well as many others, 
have been added in MS., while at the end are the 
words, ' Given on board the Queen Charlotte, to 

Capt. , commander of his majesty's ship the 

, by command of the admiral.' It is thus 



SIGNAL BOOKS, 1790-1816 253 

obvious that the original printed form, which con- 
tains many further unfilled blanks for additional 
signals, was used as a draft for a later edition. 
No such edition is known to exist in print, but 
both the original signals and the additions corre- 
spond exactly with the MS. code which was used by 
Lord Howe in his campaign of 1794. In editing 
this code for the Society in his Logs of the Great Sea 
Fights, Admiral Sturges Jackson hazarded the con- 
jecture that it had not then been printed, but was 
supplied to each ship in the fleet in MS. The 
admiralty volume goes far to support his conjecture, 
and it is quite possible that we have here the final 
draft from which the MS. copies were made. 

As to the actual date at which the code was 
completed there is not much difficulty. The Queen 
Charlotte was Howe's flagship in the Channel fleet 
from 1792-4, but it was also his flagship in 1790 at 
the time of the ' Spanish Armament,' when he put 
to sea in immediate expectation of war with Spain. 
While the tension lasted he is known to have used the 
critical period in exercising his fleet in tactical evolu- 
tions, in order to perfect it in a new code of signals 
which he had been elaborating for several years. 1 It 
is probable therefore that this Signal Book belongs 
to that year, and that it is one of several copies 
which Howe had printed with the battle signals 
blank for his own use while he was elaborating his 
system by practical experiment. This conjecture is 
brought to practical certainty by a rough and much- 
worn copy of it in the United Service Institution. 
It was made by Lieut. John Walsh, of H. M.S. Marl- 
borough, one of Howe's fleet, and inside the cover 
he has written ' Earl Howe's signals by which the 
Grand Fleet was governed 1790, 1791, and 1/94.' 

It was upon the tactical system contained in 
1 Dictionary of National Biography, sub voce 'Howe,' p. 97. 



254 THE LAST PHASE 

this book that all the great actions of the Nelson 
period were fought. The alterations which took 
place during the war were slight. The codes used 
by Howe himself in 1 794, and by Duncan at Cam- 
perdown in 1797, follow it exactly. A slightly 
modified form was issued by Jervis to the Mediter- 
ranean fleet, and was used by him at St. Vincent in 
1797. No copy of this is known to exist, but from 
the logs of the ships there engaged it would appear 
that, though the numbering of the code had been 
changed, the principal battle signals remained the 
same. In 1799 a new edition was printed in the 
small quarto form. In this the Signal Book and the 
Instructions were bound together, and were issued to 
the whole navy, but here again, though the numbers 
were changed, the alterations were of no great im- 
portance. 1 Reprints appeared in 1806 and 1808, 
but the code itself continued in use till 1816. In 
that year an entirely new Signal Book based on Sir 
Home Popham's code was issued with a fresh set 
of Explanatory Instructions, or, as they had come to 
be called, ' Instructions relating to the line of battle 
and the conduct of the fleet preparatory to their 
engaging and when engaged with an enemy.' 2 Both 
these sets of ' Explanatory Instructions' are printed 

1 A copy of this is in the Admiralty Library issued to 
' Thomas Lenox Frederick esq., Rear- Admiral of the Blue,' and 
attested by the autographs of Vice- Admiral James Gambier, Vice- 
Admiral James Young, and another lord of the admiralty, and 
countersigned by William Marsden, the famous numismatist and 
Oriental scholar, who was 'second secretary' from 1795 to 1804. 
Another copy, also in the Admiralty Library, is attested by Gam- 
bier, Sir John Colpoys and Admiral Philip Patton, and counter- 
signed by the new second secretary, John Barrow, all of whom 
came to the admiralty under Lord Melville on Pitt's return to office 
in 1804. Two other copies are in the United Service Institution. 

2 Sir Home Popham's code had been in use for many years 
for ' telegraphing.' It was by this code Nelson's famous signal 
was made at Trafalgar. 



HOWE'S MANCEUVRE 255 

below, but, as we have seen, they throw but little light 
by themselves on the progress of tactical thought 
during the great period they covered. They were 
no longer ' Fighting Instructions ' in the old sense, 
unless read with the principal battle signals, and to 
these we have to go to get at the ideas that under- 
lay the tactics of Nelson and his contemporaries. 

Now the most remarkable feature of Howe's 
Second Signal Book, 1790, is the apparent dis- 
appearance from it of the signal for breaking the 
line which in his first code, 1782, he had borrowed 
from Hood in consequence of Rodney's manoeuvre. 
The other two signals introduced by Hood and 
Pigot for breaking the line on Rodney's plan are 
equally absent. In their stead appears a signal for 
an entirely new manoeuvre, never before practised 
or even suggested, so far as is known, by anyone. 
The ' signification ' runs as follows : 'If, when 
having the weather-gage of the enemy, the 
admiral means to pass between the ships of their 
line for engaging them to leeward or, being to 
leeward, to pass between them for obtaining the 
weather-gage. N.B. The different captains and 
commanders not being able to effect the specified 
intention in either case are at liberty to act as 
circumstances require.' In the Signal Book of 
1 799 the wording is changed. It there runs 'To 
break through the enemy's line in all parts where 
practicable, and engage on the other side,' and 
in the admiralty copy delivered to Rear-Admiral 
Frederick there is added this MS. note, ' If a blue 
pennant is hoisted at the fore topmast-head, to break 
through the van ; if at the main topmast-head, to 
break through the centre ; if at the mizen topmast- 
head, to break through the rear.' l 

1 In one of the United Service Institution copies the signal 
has been added in MS. and the note is on a slip pasted in. In 



256 THE LAST PHASE 

This form of the signification shows that the 
intention of the signal was something different 
from what is usually understood in naval literature 
by ' breaking the line.' By that we generally under- 
stand the manoeuvre practised by Lord Rodney in 
1782, a manoeuvre which was founded on the con- 
ception of ' leading through ' the enemy's line in 
line ahead, and all the ships indicated passing 
through in succession at the same point. Whereas 
in Lord Howe's signal the tactical idea is wholly 
different. In his manoeuvre the conception is of an 
attack by bearing down all together in line abreast 
or line of bearing, and each ship passing through 
the enemy's line at any interval it found practicable ; 
and this was actually the method of attack which he 
adopted on June i, 1794. In intention the two 
signals are as wide as the poles asunder. In 
Rodney's case the idea was to sever the enemy's 
line and cut off part of it from the rest. In 
Howe's case the idea of severing the line is sub- 
ordinate to the intention of securing an advantage 
by engaging on the opposite side from which the 
attack is made. The whole of the attacking fleet 
might in principle pass through the intervals in the 
enemy's line without cutting off any part of it. In 
principle, moreover, the new attack was a parallel 
attack in line abreast or in line of bearing, whereas 
the old attack was a perpendicular or oblique attack 
in line ahead. 

Nothing perhaps in naval literature is more 
remarkable than the fact that this fundamental 
difference is never insisted on, or even, it may be 
said, so much as recognised. Whenever we read 
of a movement for breaking the line in this 
period it is almost always accompanied with remarks 

the other both signal and note are printed with blanks in which 
the distinguishing pennants have been written in. 



HOWES MANCEUVRE 257 

which assume that Rodney's manoeuvre is intended 
and not Howe's. Probably it is Nelson who is to 
blame. At Trafalgar, after carefully elaborating an 
attack based on Howe's method of line abreast, he 
delivered it in line ahead, as though he had in- 
tended to use Rodney's method. His reasons were 
sound enough, as will be seen later. But as a piece 
of scientific tactics it was as though an engineer 
besieging a fortress, instead of drawing his lines of 
approach diagonally, were to make them at right 
angles to the ditch. When the greatest of the 
admirals apparently (but only apparently) confused 
the two antagonistic conceptions of breaking the 
line, there is much excuse for civilian writers being 
confused in fact. 

The real interest of the matter, however, is to 
inquire, firstly, by what process of thought Howe 
in his second code discarded Rodney's manoeuvre 
as the primary meaning of his signal after having 
adopted it in his first, and, secondly, how and to 
what end did he arrive at his own method. 

On the first point there can be little doubt. Sir 
Charles H. Knowles gives us to understand that 
Howe still had Hoste's Treatise at his elbow, and 
with Hoste for his mentor we may be sure that, in 
common with other tactical students of his time, he 
soon convinced himself that Rodney's manoeuvre was 
usually dangerous and always imperfect. Knowles 
himself in his old age, though a devout admirer of 
Rodney, denounced it in language of characteristic 
violence, and maintained to the last that Rodney 
never intended it, as every one now agrees was the 
truth. Nelson presumably also approved Howe's 
cardinal improvement, or even in his most impulsive 
mood he would hardly have called him ' the first and 
greatest sea officer the world has ever produced.' l 

1 Nelson to Howe, January 8, 1799. Nicolas^ Hi. 230. 

S 



258 THE LAST PHASE 

As to the second point the fundamental in- 
tention of the new manoeuvre we get again a 
valuable hint from Knowles. Upon his second 
visit to the admiralty, after Howe had succeeded 
Keppel at the end of 1783, Knowles brought with 
him by request a tactical treatise written by his 
father, as well as certain of his own tactical studies, 
and discussed with Howe a certain manoeuvre 
which he believed the French employed for avoid- 
ing decisive actions. He showed that when 
engaged to leeward they fell off by alternate ships 
as soon as they were hard pressed, and kept reform- 
ing their line to leeward, so that the British had 
continually to bear up, and expose themselves to be 
raked aloft in order to close again. In this way, 
as he pointed out, the French were always able to 
clip the British wings without receiving any deci- 
sive injury themselves. In a MS. note to his 
'Fighting and Sailing Instructions,' he puts the 
matter quite clearly. ' In the battle off Granada,' 
he says, 'in the year 1779 the French ships par- 
tially executed this manoeuvre, and Sir Charles [H.] 
Knowles (then 5th lieutenant of the Prince of Wales 
of 74 guns, the flagship of the Hon. Admiral Bar- 
rington) drew this manoeuvre, and which he showed 
Admiral Lord Howe, when first lord of the ad- 
miralty, during the peace. His lordship established 
a signal to break through the enemy's line and 
engage on the other side to leeward, and which he 
executed himself in the battle of the ist of June, 
1794.' The note adds that before Knowles drew 
Howe's attention to the supposed French manoeuvre 
he had been content with his original Article XIV., 
modifying Article XXI. of the old Fighting In- 
structions as already explained. Whether therefore 
Knowles's account is precisely accurate or not, we 
may take it as certain that it was to baffle the 



BREAKING THE LINE 259 

French practice of avoiding close action by falling 
away to leeward that Howe hit on his brilliant con- 
ception of breaking through their line in all parts. 

No finer manoeuvre was ever designed. In the 
first place it developed the utmost fire-face by bring- 
ing both broadsides into play. Secondly, by break- 
ing up the enemy's line into fragments it deprived 
their admiral of any shadow of control over the 
part attacked. Thirdly, by seizing the leeward 
position (the essential postulate of the French method 
of fighting) it prevented individual captains making 
good their escape independently to leeward and 
ensured a decisive mHe'e, such as Nelson aimed at. 
And, fourthly, it permitted a concentration on any 
part of the enemy's line, since it actually severed 
it at any desired point quite as effectually as did 
Rodney's method. Whether Howe ever appre- 
ciated the importance of concentration to the extent 
it was felt by Nelson, Hood and Rodney is doubt- 
ful. Yet his invention did provide the best pos- 
sible form of concentrated attack. It had over 
Rodney's imperfect manoeuvre this inestimable ad- 
vantage, that by the very act of breaking the line 
you threw upon the severed portion an overwhelm- 
ing attack of the most violent kind, and with the 
utmost development of fire-surface. Finally it 
could not be parried as Rodney's usually could in 
Hoste's orthodox way by the enemy's standing away 
together upon the same tack. By superior gunnery 
Howe's attack might be stopped, but by no possibility 
could it be avoided except by flight. It was no 
wonder then that Howe's invention was received 
with enthusiasm by such men as Nelson. 

Still it is clear that in certain cases, and 
especially in making an attack from the leeward, 
as Clerk of Eldin had pointed out, and where it 
was desirable to preserve your own line intact, 

s 2 



2 6o THE LAST PHASE 

Rodney's manoeuvre might still be the best. Howe's 
manoeuvre moreover supplied its chief imperfec- 
tion, for it provided a method of dealing drastically 
with the portion of the enemy's line that had been 
cut off. Thus, although it is not traceable in the 
Signal Book, it was really reintroduced in Howe's 
third code. This is clear from the last article of 
the Explanatory Instructions of 1799 which distin- 
guishes between the two manoeuvres ; but whether 
or not this article was in the Instructions of 1790 
we cannot tell. The probability is that it was not, 
for in the Signal Book of 1790 there is no reference 
to a modifying instruction. Further, we know that 
in the code proposed by Sir Charles H. Knowles 
the only signal for breaking the line was word for 
word the same as Howe's. This code he drew up 
in its final form in 1794, but it was not printed till 
1798. The presumption is therefore that until the 
code of 1799 was issued -Howe's method of break- 
ing the line was the only one recognised. In that 
code the primary intention of Signal 27 'for break- 
ing through the enemy's line in all parts ' is still for 
Howe's manoeuvre, but the instruction provides 
that it could be modified by a red pennant over, 
and in that case it meant ' that the fleet is to 
preserve the line of battle as it passes through 
the enemy's line, and to preserve it in very close 
order, that such of the enemy's ships as are cut off 
may not find an opportunity of passing through it 
to rejoin their fleet.' This was precisely Rodney's 
manoeuvre with the proviso for close order in- 
troduced by Pigot. The instruction also provided 
for the combining of a numeral to indicate at 
which number in the enemy's line the attempt was 
to be made. No doubt the distinction between 
manoeuvres so essentially different might have been 



DOUBLING 261 

more logically made by entirely different signals. 1 
But in practice it was all that was wanted. It is 
only posterity that suffers, for in studying the 
actions of that time it is generally impossible to tell 
from the signal logs or the tactical memoranda 
which movement the admiral had in mind. Not 
only do we never find it specified whether the 
signal was made simply or with the pennant over, 
but admirals seem to have used the expressions 
' breaking ' and ' cutting ' the line, and ' breaking 
through,' ' cutting through,' ' passing through,' and 
4 leading through,' as well as others, quite indiscri- 
minately of both forms of the manoeuvre. Thus in 
Nelson's first, or Toulon, memorandum he speaks 
of ' passing through the line ' from to-windward, 
meaning presumably Howe's manoeuvre, and of 
1 cutting through ' their fleet from to-leeward when 
presumably he means Rodney's. In the Trafalgar 
memorandum he speaks of ' leading through ' and 
' cutting ' the line from to-leeward, and of ' cutting 
through ' from to-windward, when he certainly 
meant to perform Howe's manoeuvre. Whereas 
Howe, in his Instruction XXXI. of 1799, uses 
1 breaking the line ' and ' passing through it ' in- 
differently of both forms. 

All we can do is generally to assume that when 
the attack was to be made from to-windward Howe's 
manoeuvre was intended, and Rodney's when it was 
made from to-leeward. Yet this is far from being 
safe ground. For the signification of the plain 

1 Sir Charles H. Knowles did modify his code in this way 
some time after 1798. For his original signal he substituted two 
in MS. with the following neatly worded significations : ' No. 32. 
To break through the enemy's line together and engage on the 
opposite side. No. 33. To break through the enemy's line in 
succession and engage on the other side.' Had these two lucid 
significations been adopted by Howe there would have been no 
possible ambiguity as to what was meant. 



262 THE LAST PHASE 

signal without the red pennant over i.e. ' to break 
through . . . and engage on the other side ' seems 
to contemplate Howe's manoeuvre being made both 
from to-leeward and from to-windward. 

The only notable disappearances in Howe's 
second code (1790) are the signals for 'doubling,' 
probably as a corollary of the new manoeuvre. For, 
until this device was hit upon, Rodney's method 
of breaking the line apparently could only be made 
effective as a means of concentration by doubling on 
the part cut off in accordance with Hoste's method. 
This at least is what Clerk of Eldin seems to imply 
in some of his diagrams, in so far as he suggests 
any method of dealing with the part cut off. Yet 
in spite of this disappearance Nelson certainly 
doubled at the Nile, and according to Captain 
Edward Berry, who was captain of his flagship, 
he did it deliberately. 'It is almost unnecessary,' 
he wrote in his narrative, ' to explain his projected 
mode of attack at anchor, as that was minutely and 
precisely executed in the action. . . These plans 
however were formed two months before, . . . and 
the advantage now was that they were familiar to 
the understanding of every captain in the fleet.' 
Nelson probably felt that the dangers attending 
doubling in an action under sail are scarcely 
appreciable in an action at anchor with captains 
whose steadiness he could trust. Still Saumarez, 
his second in command, regarded it as a mistake, 
and there was a good deal of complaint of our ships 
having suffered from each other's fire. 1 

Amongst the more important retentions of 
tactical signals we find that for Hoste's method 
of giving battle to a numerically superior force by 
leaving gaps in your own line between van, centre 

1 Laughton, Nelsoris Letters and Despatches ; p. 151. Ross, 
Memoir of Lord de Saumarez, vol. i. 



ACTION AT ANCHOR 263 

and rear. The wording however is changed. It is 
no longer enjoined as a means of avoiding being 
doubled. As Howe inserted it in MS. the signifi- 
cation now ran ' for the van or particular divisions 
to engage the headmost of the enemy's van, the 
rear the sternmost of the enemy's rear, and the 
centre the centre of the enemy. But with excep- 
tion of the flag officers of the fleet who should 
engage those of the enemy respectively in prefer- 
ence.' l This signification again is considerably 
modified by the Explanatory Instructions. Article 
XXIV., it will be seen, says nothing of engaging 
the centre or of leaving regular gaps. The leading 
ship is to engage the enemy's leading ship, and the 
rearmost the rearmost, while the rest are to select the 
largest ships they can get at, and leave the weaker 
ones alone till the stronger are disabled. It was in 
effect the adoption of Hoste's fifth rule for engaging 
a numerically superior fleet instead of his first, and 
it is a plan which he condemns except in the case 
of your being individually superior to your enemy, 
as indeed the English gunnery usually made them. 

The curious signal No. 218 of 1782 for attack- 
ing the enemy's rear in succession by ' defiling ' on 
the Elizabethan plan was also retained. In the 
Signal Book of 1 799 it ran, ' to fire in succession 
upon the sternmost ships of the enemy, then tack or 
wear and take station in rear of the squadron or 
division specified (if a part of the fleet is so ap- 
pointed) until otherwise directed.' 

It has been already said that the alterations in 
the edition of 1799 were not of great importance, 
but one or two additions must be noticed. The 
most noteworthy is a new signal for carrying out 
the important rule of Article IX. of the Instruc- 

1 This last mediaeval proviso was omitted in the later editions. 
It is not found in Hoste. 












264 THE LAST PHASE 

tions of 1782 (Article X. of 1799), providing for the 
formation of a corps de reserve when you are 
numerically superior to the enemy, as was done by 
Villeneuve on Gravina's advice in 1805, although 
fortunately for Nelson it was not put in practice 
at Trafalgar. 

The other addition appears in MS. at the end 
of the printed signals. It runs as follows : 'When at 
anchor in line of battle to let go a bower anchor 
under foot, and pass a stout hawser from one ship 
to another, beginning at the weathermost ship,' 
an addition which would seem to have been sug- 
gested by what had recently occurred at the Nile. 
Nelson's own order was as follows : ' General Memor- 
andum. As the wind will probably blow along shore, 
when it is deemed necessary to anchor and engage 
the enemy at their anchorage it is recommended to 
each line-of-battle ship of the squadron to prepare 
to anchor with the sheet cable in abaft and springs, 
&c.' V Another copy of the signal book has a similar 
MS. addition to the signal ' Prepare for battle and 
for anchoring with springs, &c.' 2 It runs thus : ' A 
bower is to be unbent, and passed through the stern 
port and bent to the anchor, leaving that anchor 
hanging by the stopper only. Lord Nelson, St. 
George, 26 March, 1801. If with a red pennant 
over with a spring only. Commander-in-ehiefs 
Order Book, 27 March, 1801.' These therefore 
were additions made immediately before the attack 
on the Danish fleet at Copenhagen. 

No other change was made, and it may be said 
that Howe's new method of breaking the line was 
the last word on the form of attack for a sailing 

1 Ross, Memoir of Saumarez, i. 212. Nelson refers to 'Signal 
54, Art. XXXVII. of the Instructions,' which must have been a 
special and amplified set issued by Jervis. There is no Art. 
XXXVII. in Howe's set. 

2 In the United Service Institution. 



ST. VINCENT AND CAMPERDOWN 265 

fleet. How far its full intention and possibilities 
were understood at first is doubtful. The accounts 
of the naval actions that followed show no lively 
appreciation on the part of the bulk of British cap- 
tains. On the First of June the new signal for 
breaking through the line at all points was the first 
Howe made, and it was followed as soon as the 
moment for action arrived by that ' for each ship to 
steer for, independently of each other, and engage 
respectively the ship opposed in situation to them 
in the enemy's line.' The result was an action 
along the whole line, during which Howe himself 
at the earliest opportunity passed through the 
enemy's line and engaged on the other side, though 
as a whole the fleet neglected to follow either his 
signal or his example. 

In the next great action, that of St. Vincent, the 
circumstances were not suitable for the new man- 
oeuvre, seeing that the Spaniards had not formed 
line. Jervis had surprised the enemy in disorder 
on a hazy morning after a change of wind, and this 
was precisely the ' not very probable case ' which 
Clerk of Eldin had instanced as justifying a perpen- 
dicular attack. Whether or not Jervis had Clerk's 
instance in his mind, he certainly did deliver a 
perpendicular attack. The signal with which he 
opened, according to the signification as given in 
the flagship's log, was ' The admiral intends to 
pass through the enemy's line.' l There is nothing 
to show whether this meant Howe's manoeuvre or 
Rodney's, for we do not know whether at this time 
the instruction existed which enabled the two 
movements to be distinguished by a pennant over. 

1 Logs of the Great Sea Fights, i. 210. The log probably only 
gives an abbreviation of the signification. Unless Jervis had 
changed it, its exact wording was ' The admiral means to pass 
between the ships of their line for engaging them to leeward,' &c. 
See supra, p. 255. 



266 THE LAST PHASE 

What followed however was that the fleet passed 
between the two separated Spanish squadrons in 
line ahead as Clerk advised. The next thing to do, 
according to Clerk, was for the British fleet to wear 
or tack together, but instead of doing so Jervis 
signalled to tack in succession, and then repeated 
the signal to pass through the enemy's line although 
it was still unformed. It was at this moment that 
Nelson made his famous independent movement 
that saved the situation, and what he did was in 
effect as though Jervis had made the signal to 
tack together as Clerk enjoined. Thereupon Jervis, 
with the intention apparently of annulling his last 
order to pass through the line, made the signal, 
which seems to have been the only one which the 
captains of those days believed in viz. to take 
suitable stations for mutual support and engage the 
enemy on arriving up with them in succession. In 
practice it was little more than a frank relapse to 
the methods of the early Commonwealth, and it was 
this signal and not that for breaking the line which 
made the action general. 

Again, at the battle of Camperdown, Duncan, 
while trying to form single line from two columns 
of sailing, began with the signal for each ship to 
steer independently for her opponent. This was 
followed the fleet having failed to form line parallel 
to the enemy, and being still in two disordered 
columns by signals for the lee or van division to 
engage the enemy's rear, and as some thought the 
weather division his centre ; and ten minutes later 
came the new signal for passing through the line. 
The result was an action almost exactly like that 
of Nelson at Trafalgar that is, though the leading 
ships duly acted on the combination of the two 
signals for engaging their opposites and for break- 
ing the line, each at its opposite interval, the rest 



THE GOLDEN RULE 267 

was a mlde ; for, since what was fundamentally 
a parallel attack was attempted as a perpendicular 
one, it could be nothing but a scramble for the rear 
ships. 

In none of these actions therefore is there any 
evidence that Howe's attempt to impress the ser- 
vice with a serious scientific view of tactics had 
been successful, and the impression which they 
made upon our enemies suggests that the real spirit 
that inspired British officers at this time was some- 
thing very different from that which Howe had 
tried to instil. Writing of the battle of St. Vincent, 
Don Domingo Perez de Grandallana, whose masterly 
studies of the French and English naval systems 
and tactics raised him to the highest offices of 
state, has the following passage : ' An Englishman 
enters a naval action with the firm conviction that 
his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends 
and allies without looking out for directions in the 
midst of the fight ; and while he thus clears his 
mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in con- 
fidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated 
by the same principles as himself, will be bound 
by the sacred and priceless law of mutual support. 
Accordingly, both he and all his fellows fix their 
minds on acting with zeal and judgment upon the 
spur of the moment, and with the certainty that 
they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on 
the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, 
working under a system which leans to formality 
and strict order being maintained in battle, has 
no feeling for mutual support, and goes into action 
with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of see- 
ing or hearing the commander-in-chief's signals 
for such and such manoeuvres. . . . Thus they can 
never make up their minds to seize any favourable 
opportunity that may present itself. They are 



268 THE LAST PHASE 

fettered by the strict rule to keep station, which is 
enforced upon them in both navies, and the usual 
result is that in one place ten of their ships may 
be firing on four, while in another four of their 
comrades may be receiving the fire of ten of the 
enemy. Worst of all, they are denied the con- 
fidence inspired by mutual support, which is as 
surely maintained by the English as it is neglected 
by us, who will not learn from them. ' : 

This was probably the broad truth of the matter ; 
it is summed up in the golden signal which was the 
panacea of British admirals when in doubt : ' Ships to 
take station for mutual support and engage as they 
come up ; ' and it fully explains why, with all the 
scientific appreciation of tactics that existed in the 
leading admirals of this time, their battles were 
usually so confused and haphazard. The truth is 
that in the British service formal tactics had come 
to be regarded as a means of getting at your enemy, 
and not as a substitute for initiative in fighting him. 



LORD HOWE'S EXPLANATORY INSTRUCTIONS. 
[Signal Book, 1799. 2 ] 

Instructions for the conduct of the fleet preparatory 
to their engaging, and when engaged, with an 
enemy. 

I. When the signal is made for the fleet to form 
the line of battle, each flag officer and captain is to 
get into his station as expeditiously as possible, and 
to keep in close order, if not otherwise directed, and 

1 Fernandez Duro, Armada Espanola, viii. 1 1 1. 

2 Similar but not identical instructions are referred to in the 
Signal Book of 1790. The above were reproduced in all sub- 
sequent editions till the end of the war. 



HOWE, 1799 269 

under a proportion of sail suited to that carried by 
the admiral, or by the senior flag officer remaining 
in the line when the admiral has signified his 
intention to quit it. 

II. The chief purposes for which a fleet is 
formed in line of battle are : that the ships may be 
able to assist and support each other in action ; that 
they may not be exposed to the fire of the enemy's 
ships greater in number than themselves ; and that 
every ship may be able to fire on the enemy with- 
out risk of firing into the ships of her own fleet. 

III. If, after having made a signal to prepare to 
form the line of battle on either line of bearing, the 
admiral, keeping the preparative flag flying, should 
make several signals in succession, to point out the 
manner in which the line is to be formed, those 
signals are to be carefully written down, that they 
may be carried into execution, when the signal for 
the line is hoisted again ; they are to be executed in 
the order in which they were made, excepting such 
as the admiral may annul previously to his hoisting 
again the signal for the line. 

IV. If any part of the fleet should be so far to 
leeward, when the signal is made for the line of 
battle, that the admiral should think it necessary to 
bear up and stand towards them, he will do it with 
the signal No. 105 hoisted. 1 The ships to leeward 
are thereupon to exert themselves to get as ex- 
peditiously as possible into their stations in the line. 

V. Ships which have been detached from the 
body of the fleet, on any separate service, are not 
to obey the signal for forming the line of battle, 
unless they have been previously called back to the 
fleet by signal. 

VI. Ships which cannot keep their stations are 
to quit the line, as directed in Article 9 of the 

1 'Ships to leeward to get in the admiral's wake.' 



270 THE LAST PHASE 

General Instructions, though in the presence of an 
enemy. 1 The captains of such ships will not thereby 
be prevented from distinguishing themselves, as 
they will have opportunities of rendering essential 
service, by placing their ships advantageously when 
they get up with the enemy already engaged with 
the other part of the fleet. 

VII. When the signal to form a line of bearing 
for either tack is made, the ships (whatever course 
they may be directed to steer) are to place them- 
selves in such a manner that if they were to haul 
to the wind together on the tack for which the 
line of bearing is formed, they would immediately 
form a line of battle on that tack. To do this, 
every ship must bring the ship which would be 
her second ahead, if the line of battle were formed, 
to bear on that point of the compass on which 
the line of battle would sail, viz., on that point of 
the compass which is seven points from the direc- 
tion of the wind, or six points if the signal is made 
to keep close to the wind. 

As the intention of a line of bearing is to keep 
the fleet ready to form suddenly a line of battle, 
the position of the division or squadron flags, shown 
with the signal for such a line, will refer to the 
forming of the line of battle ; that division or squa- 
dron whose flag is uppermost (without considering 
whether it do or do not form the van of the line 
of bearing) is to place itself in that station which 

1 The instructions referred to are the 'General Instructions 
for the conduct of the fleet.' They are the first of the various 
sets which the Signal Book contained, and relate to books to be 
kept, boats, keeping station, evolutions and the like. Article IX. 
is ' If from any cause whatever a ship should find it impossible to 
keep her station in any line or order of sailing, she is not to 
break the line or order by persisting too long in endeavouring to 
preserve it ; but she is to quit the line and form in the rear, 
doing everything she can to keep up with the fleet.' 



HOWE, 1799 271 

would become the van if the fleet should haul to 
the wind and form the line of battle ; and the divi- 
sion whose flag is undermost is to place itself in that 
station in which it would become the rear if by 
hauling to the wind the line of battle should be 
formed. 1 

VIII. When a line of bearing has been formed, 
the ships are to preserve that relative bearing from 
each other, whenever they are directed to alter 
the course together ; but if they are directed to 
alter the course in succession, as the line of bear- 
ing will by that be destroyed, it is no longer to 
be attended to. 

IX. If the signal to make more or less sail is 
made when the fleet is in line of battle, the frigate 
appointed to repeat signals will set the same sails 
as are carried by the admiral's ship ; the ships 
are then in succession (from the rear if to shorten, 
or the van if to make more, sail) to put themselves 
under a proportion of sail correspondent to their 
comparative rate of sailing with the admiral's 
ship. 

To enable captains to do this it will be necessary 
that they acquire a perfect knowledge of the pro- 
portion of sail required for suiting their rate of 
sailing to that of the admiral, under the various 
changes in the quantity of sail, and state of the 
weather ; which will enable them, not only to keep 
their stations in the line of battle, but also to keep 
company with the fleet on all other occasions. 
When the signal to make 
more sail is made, if the 
admiral is under his top- 
sails, he will probably set 
the ..... Foresail. 

1 See at p. 235, as to the new sailing formation in three 
columns. 



272 THE LAST PHASE 

If the signal is repeated, or if 
the foresail is set he will 
probably set . . .Jib and staysails. 
If the foresail, jib, and stay- 
sails are set, he will set the Topgallant-sails. 
Or in squally weather . Mainsail. 
When the signal to shorten sail is made, he will 
probably take in sail in a gradation the reverse of 
the preceding. 

X. Ships which are ordered by signal to with- 
draw from the line are to place themselves to wind- 
ward of the fleet if it has the weather-gage of the 
enemy, or to leeward and ahead if the contrary ; 
and are to be ready to assist any ship which may 
want their assistance, or to act in any other manner 
as directed by signal. 

If the ships so withdrawn, or any others which 
may have been detached, should be unable to 
resume their stations in the line when ordered by 
signal to do so, they are to attack the enemy's 
ships in any part of the line on which they may hope 
to make the greatest impression. 1 

XI. If the fleet should engage an enemy inferior 
to it in number, or which, by the flight of some 
of their ships, becomes inferior, the ships which, at 
either extremity of the line, are thereby left without 
opponents may, after the action is begun, quit the 
line without waiting for a signal to do so ; and they 
are to distress the enemy, or assist the ships of 
the fleet, in the best manner that circumstances will 
allow. 

XII. When any number of ships, not having a 
flag officer with them, are detached from the fleet to 

1 It should be noted that this is an important advance on the 
corresponding Article IX. of the previous instructions, and that it 
contains a germ of the organisation of Nelson's Trafalgar memo- 
randum. 



HOWE, 1799 273 

act together, they are to obey all signals which are 
accompanied by the flag appropriated to detach- 
ments, and are not to attend to any made without 
that flag. But if a flag officer, commanding a 
squadron, or division, be with such detachment, all 
the ships of it are to consider themselves, for the 
time, as forming part of the division, or squadron, 
of such flag officer ; and they are to obey those 
signals, and only those, which are accompanied by 
his distinguishing flag. 

XIII. Great care is at all times to be taken not 
to fire at the enemy, either over, or very near to, 
any ships of the fleet ; nor, though the signal for 
battle should be flying, is any ship to fire till she is 
placed in a proper situation, and at a proper distance 
from the enemy. 

XIV. If, when the signal for battle is made, the 
ships are steering down for the enemy, they are to 
haul to the wind, or to any course parallel to the 
enemy, and are to engage them when properly 
placed, without waiting for any particular signal ; 
but every ship must be attentive to the motions of 
that ship which will be her second ahead, when 
formed parallel to the enemy, that she may have 
room to haul up without running on board of her. 
The distance of the ships from each other during 
the action must be governed by that of their re- 
spective opponents on the enemy's line. 

XV. No ship is to separate from the body of the 
fleet, in time of action, to pursue any small number 
of the enemy's ships which have been beaten out of 
the line, unless the commander-in-chief, or some 
other flag officer, be among them ; but the ships 
which have disabled their opponents, or forced them 
to quit the line, are to assist any ship of the fleet 
appearing to be much pressed, and to continue their 
attack till the main body of the enemy be broken 



274 THE LAST PHASE 

or disabled ; unless by signal, or particular instruc- 
tion, they should be directed to act otherwise. 

XVI. If any ship should be so disabled as to be 
in great danger of being destroyed, or taken by the 
enemy, and should make a signal, expressive of 
such extremity, the ships nearest to her, and which 
are the least engaged with the enemy, are strictly 
enjoined to give her immediately all possible aid 
and protection ; and any fireship, in a situation 
which admits of its being done, is to endeavour to 
burn the enemy's ship opposed to her ; and any 
frigate, that may be near, is to use every possible 
exertion for her relief, either by towing her off, or 
by joining in the attack of the enemy, or by covering 
the fireship ; or, if necessity require it, by taking 
out the crew of the disabled ship ; or by any other 
means which circumstances at the time will 
admit. 1 

XVII. Though a ship be disabled, and hard 
pressed by the enemy in battle, she is not to quit 
her station in the line, if it can possibly be avoided, 
till the captain shall have obtained permission so to 
do from the commander of the squadron, or division, 
to which he belongs, or from some other flag officer. 
But if he should be ordered out of the line, or should 
be obliged to quit it, before assistance can be sent 
to him, the nearest ships are immediately to occupy 
the space become vacant, to prevent the enemy 
from taking advantage of it. 

XVIII. If there should be found a captain so 
lost to all sense of honour and the great duty he 
owes his country, as not to exert himself to the 
utmost to get into action with the enemy, or to take 

1 The continued insistence on fireship tactics in this and 
Articles XX. and XXI. should again be noted, although from 1793 
to 1802 the number of fireships on the Navy List averaged under 
four out of a total that increased from 304 to 5 1 7. 



HOWE, 1799 275 

or destroy them when engaged ; the commander 
of the squadron, or division, to which he belongs, 
or the nearest flag officer, is to suspend him from 
his command, and is to appoint some other officer 
to command the ship, till the admiral's pleasure 
shall be known. 

XIX. When, from the advantage obtained by 
the enemy over the fleet, or from bad weather, or 
from any other cause, the admiral makes the signal 
for the fleet to disperse, every captain will be left to 
act as he shall judge most proper for the preserva- 
tion of the ship he commands, and the good of 
the king's service ; but he is to endeavour to go to 
the appointed rendezvous, if it may be done with 
safety. 

XX. The ships are to be kept at all times as 
much prepared for battle as circumstances will 
admit ; and if the fleet come to action with an enemy 
which has the weather-gage, boats, well armed, are 
to be held in readiness, with hand and fire-chain 
grapnels in them ; and if the weather will admit, 
they are to be hoisted out, and kept on the off- 
side from the enemy, for the purpose of assisting 
any ships against which fireships shall be sent ; 
or for supporting the fireships of the fleet, if they 
should be sent against the enemy. 1 

XXI. The ships appointed to protect and cover 
fireships, when ordered on service, or which, with- 
out being appointed, are in a situation to cover and 
protect them, are to receive on board their crews, 
and, keeping between them and the enemy, to go 
with them as near as possible to the ships they are 
directed to destroy. All the boats of those ships are 
to be well armed, and to be employed in covering 
the retreat of the fireship's boats, and in defending 

1 It should be remembered that at this time there were no 
davits and no boats hoisted up. They were all carried in-board. 

T 2 



276 THE LAST PHASE 

the ship from any attempts that may be made on 
her by the boats of the enemy. 

XXII. If the ship of any flag officer be disabled 
in battle, the flag officer may repair on board, and 
hoist his flag in any other ship (not already carrying 
a flag) that he shall think proper ; but he is to 
hoist it in one of his own squadron or division if 
there be one near, and fit for the purpose. 

XXIII. If a squadron or any detachment be 
directed by signal to gain or keep the wind of the 
enemy, the officer commanding it is to act in such 
manner as shall in his judgment be the most effectual 
for the total defeat of the enemy ; either by rein- 
forcing those parts of the fleet which are opposed 
to superior force, or by attacking such parts of the 
enemy's line as, by their weakness, may afford 
reasonable hopes of their being easily broken, 

XXIV. When the signal (30) is made to 
extend the line from one extremity of the enemy's 
line to the other, though the enemy have a greater 
number of ships, the leading ship is to engage the 
leading ship, and the sternmost ship the sternmost 
of the enemy ; and the other ships are, as far as 
their situation will admit, to engage the ships of 
greatest force, leaving the weaker ships unattacked 
till the stronger shall have been disabled. 1 

XXV. If the admiral, or any commander of a 
squadron or division, shall think fit to change his 
station in the line, in order to place himself opposite 
to the admiral or the commander of a similar 
squadron or division in the enemy's line, he will 
make the Signal 47 for quitting the line in his own 
ship, without showing to what other part of the line 
he means to go ; the ships ahead or astern (as 
circumstances may require) of the station opposed 

1 This is a considerable modification of the signification of the 
signal ; see supra, p. 263. 



HOWE, 1799 277 

to the commander in the enemy's line are then to 
close and make room for him to get into it. But if 
the admiral, being withdrawn from the line, should 
think fit to return to any particular place in it, he 
will make the signal No. 269 with the distinguish- 
ing signal of his own ship, and soon after he will 
hoist the distinguishing signal of the ship astern of 
which he means to take his station. And if he should 
direct by signal any other ship to take a station in 
the line, he will also hoist the distinguishing signal 
of the ship astern of which he would have her placed, 
if she is not to take the station assigned her in the 
line of battle given out. 

XXVI. When the Signal 29 is made for each 
ship to steer for her opponent in the enemy's line, 
the ships are to endeavour, by making or shortening 
sail, to close with their opponents and bring them 
to action at the same time ; but they must be 
extremely careful not to pass too near each other, 
nor to do anything which may risk their run- 
ning on board each other : they may engage as 
soon as they are well closed with their opponents, 
and properly placed for that purpose. 

XXVII. When the Signal 28 is made, for ships 
to form as most convenient, and attack the enemy 
as they get up with them ; the ships are to engage to 
windward or to leeward, as from the situation of the 
enemy they shall find most advantageous ; but the 
leading ships must be very cautious not to suffer 
themselves to be drawn away so far from the body 
of the fleet as to risk the being surrounded and 
cut off. 

XXVIII. When Signal 14 is made to prepare 
for battle and for anchoring, the ships are to have 
springs on their bower anchors, and the end of the 
sheet cable taken in at the stern port, with springs 
on the anchor to be prepared for anchoring without 



278 THE LAST PHASE 

winding if they should go to the attack with the 
wind aft. The boats should be hoisted out and 
hawsers coiled in the launches, with the stream 
anchor ready to warp them into their stations, or to 
assist other ships which may be in want of assis- 
tance. Their spare yards and topmasts, if they 
cannot be left in charge of some vessel, should in 
moderate weather be lashed alongside, near the 
water, on the off-side from the battery or ship to be 
attacked. The men should be directed to lie down 
on the off side of the deck from the enemy, when- 
ever they are not wanted, if the ship should be fired 
at as they advance to the attack. 

XXIX. When the line of battle has been 
formed as most convenient, without regard to the 
prescribed form, the ships which happen to be 
ahead of the centre are to be considered, for the time, 
as the starboard division, and those astern of the 
centre as the larboard division of the fleet ; and if 
the triangular flag, white with a red fly, be hoisted, 
the line is to be considered as being divided into the 
same number of squadrons and divisions as in the 
established line of battle. The ship which happens 
at the time to lead the fleet is to be considered as 
the leader of the van squadron, and every other 
ship which happens to be in the station of the 
leader of the squadron or division is to be con- 
sidered as being the leader of that squadron or 
division, and the intermediate ships are to form 
the squadrons or divisions of such leaders, and to 
follow them as long as the triangular flag is flying, 
and every flag officer is to be considered as the 
commander of the squadron or division in which 
he may be accidentally placed. 

XXX. If the wind should come forward when 
the fleet is formed in line of battle, or is sailing by 
the wind in a line of bearing, the leading ship is to 



HOWE, 1799 279 

continue steering seven points from the wind, and 
every other ship is to haul as close to the wind as 
possible, till she has got into the wake of the leading 
ship, or till she shall have brought it on the proper 
point of bearing ; but if the wind should come aft, 
the sternmost ship is to continue steering seven 
points from the wind, and the other ships are to haul 
close to the wind till they have brought the stern- 
most ship into their wake, or on the proper point 
of bearing. 

XXXI. If Signal 27, to break through the 
enemy's line, be made without a ' red pennant ' being 
hoisted, it is evident that to obey it the line of battle 
must be entirely broken ; but if a ' red pennant ' be 
hoisted at either mast-head, that fleet is to preserve 
the line of battle as it passes through the enemy's 
line, and to preserve it in very close order, that such 
of the enemy's ships as are cut off may not find an 
opportunity of passing through it to rejoin their 
fleet. 

If a signal of number be made immediately after 
this signal, it will show the number of ships of the 
enemy's van or rear which the fleet is to endeavour 
to cut off. If the closing of the enemy's line should 
prevent the ships passing through the part pointed 
out, they are to pass through as near to it as they 
can. 

If any of the ships should find it impracticable, 
in either of the above cases, to pass through the 
enemy's line, they are to act in the best manner 
that circumstances will admit of for the destruction 
of the enemy. 



280 THE LAST PHASE 



NELSON'S TACTICAL MEMORANDA 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE first of these often quoted memoranda is the 
* Plan of Attack,' usually assigned to May 1805, when 
Nelson was in pursuit of Villeneuve, and it is gene- 
rally accompanied by two erroneous diagrams based 
on the number of ships which he then had under 
his command. But, as Professor Laughton has inge- 
niously conjectured, it must really belong to a time 
two years earlier, when Nelson was off Toulon in 
constant hope of the French coming out to engage 
him. 1 The strength and organisation of Nelson's 
fleet at that time, as well as the numbers of the 
French fleet,- exactly correspond to the data of the 
memorandum. To Professor Laugh ton's argument 
may be added another, which goes far actually to 
fix the date. The principal signal which Nelson's 
second method of attack required was ' to engage to 
leeward.' Now this signal as it stood in the Signal 
Book of 1799 was to some extent ambiguous. It 
was No. 37, and the signification was ' to engage the 
enemy on their larboard side, or to leeward if by the 
wind,' while No. 36 was ' to engage the enemy on 
their starboard side if going before the wind, or 
to windward if by the wind.' Accordingly we find 
Nelson issuing a general order, with the object 
apparently of removing the ambiguity, and of render- 

1 Nelson's Letters and Despatches, p. 382. 



THE TOULON MEMORANDUM 281 

ing any confusion between starboard and larboard 
and leeward and windward impossible. It is in 
Nelson's order book, under date November 22, 1803, 
and runs as follows : 

' If a pennant is shown over signal No. 36, it 
signifies that ships are to engage on the enemy's 
starboard side, whether going large or upon a wind. 

' If a pennant is shown in like manner over 
No. 37, it signifies that ships are to engage on the 
enemy's larboard side, whether going large or upon 
a wind. 

' These additions to be noted in the Signal Book 
in pencil only.' 1 

The effect of this memorandum was, of course, 
that Nelson had it in his power to let every captain 
know, without a shadqw of doubt, under all condi- 
tions of wind, on which side he meant to engage 
the enemy. 

To the evidence of the Signal Book may be 
added a passage in Nelson's letter to Admiral Sir A. 
Ball from the Magdalena Islands, November 7, 1803. 
He there writes : ' Our last two reconnoiterings : 
Toulon has eight sail of the line apparently ready 
for sea ... a seventy-four repairing. Whether they 
intend waiting for her I can't tell, but I expect them 
every hour to put to sea.' 2 He was thus expecting 
to have to deal with eight or nine of the line, which 
is the precise contingency for which the memoran- 
dum provides. There can be little doubt therefore 
that it was issued while Nelson lay at Magdalena, 
the first week in November 



1 Nicolas, Nelson's Despatches, v. 287, note. It is also given 
in vol. vii. p. ccxvi, apparently from a captain's copy which is 
undated. 

2 Ibid. v. 283. 

3 Professor Laughton pointed out (pp. '/.) that the conditions 
will fit June to August 1804, but that it might have been ' earlier, 
certainly not later.' 



282 THE LAST PHASE 

The second memorandum, which Nelson com- 
municated to his fleet, soon after he joined it off 
Cadiz, is regarded by universal agreement as the 
high-water mark of sailing tactics. Its interpretation 
however, and the dominant ideas that inspired it, 
no less than the degree to which it influenced the 
battle and was in the mind of Nelson and his officers 
at the time, are questions of considerable uncertainty. 
Some of the most capable of his captains, as we 
shall see presently, even disagreed as to whether 
Trafalgar was fought under the memorandum at all. 
From the method in which the attack was actually 
made, so different apparently from the method of 
the memorandum, some thought Nelson had cast 
it aside, while others saw that it still applied. A 
careful consideration of all that was said and done 
at the time gives a fairly clear explanation of the 
divergence of opinion, and it will probably be agreed 
that those officers who had a real feeling for tactics 
saw that Nelson was making his attack on what 
were the essential principles of the memorandum, 
while some on the other hand who were possessed 
of less tactical insight did not distinguish between 
what was essential and what was accidental in 
Nelson's great conception, and, mistaking the shadow 
for the substance, believed that he had abandoned 
his carefully prepared project. 

For those who did not entirely grasp Nelson's 
meaning there is much excuse. We who are able 
to follow step by step the progress of tactical thought 
from the dawn of the sailing period can appreciate 
without much difficulty the radical revolution which 
he was setting on foot. It was a revolution, as we 
can plainly see, that was tending to bring the long- 
drawn curve of tactical development round to the 
point at which the Elizabethans had started. Sur- 
prise is sometimes expressed that, having once 



NELSON AND DRAKE 283 

established the art of warfare under sail in broad- 
side ships, our seamen were so long in finding the 
tactical system it demanded. Should not the 
wonder be the converse : that the Elizabethan 
seamen so quickly came so near the perfected 
method of the greatest master of the art ? The 
attack at Gravelines in 1588 with four mutually 
supporting squadrons in echelon bears strong ele- 
mentary resemblance to that at Trafalgar in 1805. 
It was in dexterity and precision of detail far more 
than in principle that the difference lay. The first 
and the last great victory of the British navy had 
certainly more in common with each other than 
either had with Malaga or the First of June. In the 
zenith of their careers Nelson and Drake came very 
near to joining hands. Little wonder then if many 
of Nelson's captains failed to fathom the full depth 
of his profound idea. Naval officers in those days 
were left entirely without theoretical instruction on 
the higher lines of their profession, and Nelson, if 
we may judge by the style of his memoranda, 
can hardly have been a very lucid expositor. He 
thought they all understood what with pardonable 
pride he called the ' Nelson touch.' The most 
sagacious and best educated of them probably did, 
but there were clearly some and Collingwood, as 
we shall see, was amongst them who only grasped 
some of the complex principles which were com- 
bined in his brilliant conception. 

An analysis of the memorandum will show how 
complex it was. In the first and foremost place 
there is a clear note of denunciation against the 
long-established fallacy of the old order of battle in 
single line. Secondly, there is in its stead the re- 
establishment of the primitive system of mutually 
supporting squadrons in line ahead. Thirdly, there 
is the principle of throwing one squadron in superior 



284 THE LAST PHASE 

force upon one end of the enemy's formation, and 
using the other squadrons to cover the attack or 
support it if need arose. Fourthly, there is the 
principle of concealment that is, disposing the 
squadrons in such a manner that even after the real 
attack has been delivered the enemy cannot tell 
what the containing squadrons mean to do, and in 
consequence are forced to hold their parrying move 
in suspense. The memorandum also included the 
idea of concentration, and this is often spoken of as 
its conspicuous merit. But in the idea of concentra- 
tion there was nothing new, even if we go back no 
further than Rodney. It was only the method of 
concentration, woven out of his four fundamental 
innovations, that was new. Moreover, as Nelson 
delivered the attack, he threw away the simple idea 
of concentration. For a suddenly conceived strate- 
gical object he deliberately exposed the heads of 
his columns to what with almost any other enemy 
would have been an overwhelming superiority. On 
the other hand, by making, as he did, a perpendi- 
cular instead of a parallel attack, as he had intended, 
he accentuated it is true at enormous risk the 
cardinal points of his design ; that is, he departed 
still further from the old order of battle, and he still 
further concealed from the enemy what the real 
attack was to be, and after it was developed what 
the containing squadron was going to do. Concen- 
tration in fact was only the crude and ordinary raw 
material of a design of unmatched subtlety and 
invention. 

The keynote of his conception, then, was his 
revolutionary substitution of the primitive Eliza- 
bethan and early seventeenth century method for 
the fetish of the single line. For some time it is 
true the established battle order had been blown 
upon from various quarters, but no one as yet had 



REACTION AGAINST THE LINE 285 

been able to devise any system convincing enough 
to dethrone it. It will be remembered that at least 
as early as 1759 an Additional Instruction had pro- 
vided for a battle order in two lines, but it does not 
appear ever to have been used. 1 Rodney's manoeuvre 
again had foreshadowed the use of parts of the line 
independently for the purpose of concentration and 
containing. In 1782 Clerk of Eldin had privately 
printed his Essay, which contained suggestions for 
an attack from to-windward, with the line broken 
up into echeloned divisions in close resemblance 
to the disposition laid down in Nelson's memo- 
randum. In 1 790 this part of his work was pub- 
lished. Meanwhile an even more elaborate and 
well-reasoned assault on the whole principle of the 
single line had appeared in France. In 1787 the 
Vicomte de Grenier, a French flag officer, had pro- 
duced his L' Art de la Guerre sur Mer, in which he 
boldly attacked the law laid down by De Grasse, 
that so long as men-of-war carried their main 
armament in broadside batteries there could never 
be any battle order but the single line ahead. In 
Grenier's view the English had already begun to 
discard it, and he insists that, in all the actions he 
had seen in the last two wars, the English, knowing 
the weakness of the single line, had almost always 
concentrated on part of it without regular order. 
The radical defects of the line he points out are : 
that it is easily thrown into disorder and easily 
broken, that it is inflexible, and too extended a 
formation to be readily controlled by signals. He 

1 It is very doubtful whether this formation was ever intended 
for anything but tactical exercises. Morogues has a similar 
signal and instruction (Tactique Navale, p. 294, ed. 1779), ' Partager 
I'arme'e en deux corps, ou mettre 1'armee sur deux colonnes ; et 
representation d'un combat.' Anson certainly used it for man- 
oeuvring one half of his fleet against the other during his tactical 
exercises in 1747. Warren to Anson, Add. MSS. 15957, p. 172. 



286 THE LAST PHASE 

then proceeds to lay down the principle on which a 
sound battle order should be framed, and the funda- 
mental objects at which it should aim. His postu- 
lates are thus stated : 

' i. De rendre nulle une partie des forces de 
1'ennemi arm de reunir toutes les siennes centre 
celles qui Ton attaque, ou qui attaquent ; et de 
vaincre ensuite le reste avec plus de facilite et de 
certitude. 

' 2. De ne presenter a 1'ennemi aucune partie de 
son armee qui ne soit flanquee et ou il ne put com- 
battre et vaincre s'il vouloit se porter sur les parties 
de cette arme'e reconnues faibles jusqu'a present.' 

Never had the fundamental intention of naval 
tactics been stated with so much penetration, sim- 
plicity, and completeness. The order, however, 
which Grenier worked out that of three lines of 
bearing disposed on three sides of a lozenge was 
somewhat fantastic and cumbrous, and it seems to 
have been enough to secure for his clever treatise 
complete neglect. It had even less effect on French 
tactics than had Nelson's memorandum on our own. 
This is all the more curious, for so thoroughly was 
the change that was coming over English tactics 
understood in France that Villeneuve knew quite 
well the kind of attack Nelson would be likely to 
make. In his General Instructions, issued in antici- 
pation of the battle, he says : ' The enemy will not 
confine themselves to forming a line parallel to ours. 
. . . They will try to envelope our rear, to break 
our line, and to throw upon those of our ships that 
they cut off, groups of their own to surround and 
crush them.' Yet he could not get away from the 
dictum of De Grasse, and was able to think of no 
better way of meeting such an attack than awaiting 
it ' in a single line of battle well closed up.' 

1 Mathieu-Dumas, Precis des Evtnements Militaires^ xiii. 193. 



GROWTH OF THE NELSON TOUCH 287 

In England things were little better. In spite 
of the fact that at Camperdown Duncan had actu- 
ally found a sudden advantage by attacking in two 
divisions, no one had been found equal to the task 
of working out a tactical system to meet the inarti- 
culate demands of the tendency which Grenier had 
noticed. The possibilities even of Rodney's man- 
oeuvre had not been followed up, and Howe had 
contented himself with his brilliant invention for in- 
creasing the impact and decision of the single line. 
It was reserved for Nelson's genius to bring a suffi- 
ciently powerful solvent to bear on the crystallised 
opinion of the service, and to find a formula which 
would shed all that was bad and combine all that 
was good in previous systems. 1 

The dominating ideas that were in his mind 
become clearer, if we follow step by step all the 
evidence that has survived as to the genesis and 
history of his memorandum. As early as 1798, 
when he was hoping to intercept Bonaparte's expedi- 
tion to Egypt, he had adopted a system which was 
not based on the single line, and so far as is known 
this was the first tactical order he ever framed as 
a fleet commander. It is contained in a general 
order issued from the Vanguard on June 8 of that 
year, and runs as follows, as though hot from the 
lesson of St. Vincent : ' As it is very probable the 
enemy will not be formed in regular order on the 
approach of the squadron under my command, I 
may in that case deem it most expedient to attack 
them by separate divisions. In which case the com- 
manders of divisions are strictly enjoined to keep 
their ships in the closest possible order, and on no 

1 Captain Boswall, in the preface to his translation of Hoste, 
says Grenier's work was translated in 1790. If this was so Nelson 
may well have read it, but I have not been able to find a copy of 
the translation either in the British Museum or elsewhere. 



288 THE LAST PHASE 

account whatever to risk the separation of one of 
their ships.' l The divisional organisation follows, 
being his own division of six sail and two others 
of four each. ' Had he fallen in with the French 
fleet at sea,' wrote Captain Berry, who was sent 
home with despatches after the Nile, ' that he 
might make the best impression upon any part 
of it that should appear the most vulnerable or 
the most eligible for attack, he divided his force 
into three sub-squadrons [one of six sail and two 
of four each]. Two of these sub-squadrons were to 
attack the ships of war, while the third was to 
pursue the transports and to sink and destroy as 
many as it could.' 2 The exact manner in which he 
intended to use this organisation he had explained 
constantly by word of mouth to his captains, but 
no further record of his design has been found. Still 
there is an alteration which he made in his signal 
book at the same time that gives us the needed 
light. We cannot fail to notice the striking 
resemblance between his method of attack by 
separate divisions on a disordered enemy, and that 
made by the Elizabethan admirals at Gravelines 
upon the Armada after its formation had been 
broken up by the fireships. That attack was made 
intuitively by divisions independently handled as 
occasion should dictate, and Nelson's new signal 
leaves little doubt that this was the plan which he 
too intended. The alteration he ordered was to 
change the signification of Signal 16, so that it 
meant that each of his flag officers, from the moment 
it was made, should have control of his own 
division and make any signals he thought proper. 

But this was not all. By the same general 
order he made two other alterations in the signal 

1 Ross, Memoir of Saumarez, i. 212. 

2 Laughton, Nehoris Letters and Despatches, 150. 



NELSON'S NEW SIGNALS, 1798 289 

book in view of encountering the French in order 
of battle. They too are of the highest interest and 
run as follows : ' To be inserted in pencil in the 
signal book. At No. 182. Being to windward of 
the enemy, to denote I mean to attack the enemy's 
line from the rear towards the van as far as thirteen 
ships, or whatsoever number of the British ships of 
the line may be present, that each ship may know his 
opponent in the enemy's line.' No. 183. 'I mean to 
press hard with the whole force on the enemy's rear.' ] 

Thus we see that at the very first opportunity 
Nelson had of enforcing his own tactical ideas he 
enunciated three of the principles upon which his 
great memorandum was based, viz. breaking up his 
line of battle into three divisional lines, indepen- 
dent control by divisional leaders, and concentration 
on the enemy's rear. All that is wanting are the 
elements of surprise and containing. 

These, however, we see germinating in the 
memorandum he issued five years later off Toulon. 
In that case he expected to meet the French fleet 
on an opposite course, and being mainly concerned 
in stopping it and having a slightly superior force 
he is content to concentrate on the van. But, in 
view of the strategical necessity of making the 
attack in this way, he takes extra precautions which 
are not found in the general order of 1798. He pro- 
vides for preventing the enemy's knowing on which 
side his attack is to fall ; instead of engaging an 
equal number of their ships he provides for break- 
ing their line, and engaging the bulk of their fleet 
with a superior number of his own ; and finally 
he looks to being ready to contain the enemy's rear 
before it can do him any damage. 

1 No. 182 as it stood in the signal book meant, Ships before in 
tow to proceed to port. No. 183. When at anchor to veer to twice 
the length of cable. No. 16. Secret instructions to be opened. 

U 



2 9 o THE LAST PHASE 

Thus, taking together the general order of 1798 
and the Toulon memorandum of 1803, we can see 
all the tactical ideas that were involved at Trafalgar 
already in his mind, and we are in a position to 
appreciate the process of thought by which he 
gradually evolved the sublimely simple attack 
that welded them together, and brought them all 
into play without complication or risk of mistake. 
This process, which crowns Nelson's reputation as 
the greatest naval tactician of all time, we must 
now follow in detail. 

Shortly before he left England for the last time, 
he communicated to Keats, of the Superb, a full 
explanation of his views as they then existed in his 
mind, and Keats has preserved it in the following 
paper which Nicolas printed. 

' Memorandum of a conversation between Lord 
Nelson and Admiral Sir Richard Keats, the last time 
he was in England before the battle of Trafalgar. 1 

' One morning, walking with Lord Nelson in the 
grounds of Merton, talking on naval matters, he said 
to me, "No day can be long enough to arrange a 
couple of fleets and fight a decisive battle according 
to the old system. When we meet them " (I was to 
have been with him), " for meet them we shall, I'll tell 
you how I shall fight them. I shall form the fleet into 
three divisions in three lines ; one division shall be 
composed of twelve or fourteen of the fastest two- 
decked ships, which I shall keep always to windward 
or in a situation of advantage, and I shall put them 
under an officer who, I am sure, will employ them in 
the manner I wish, if possible. I consider it will 
always be in my power to throw them into battle in 

1 It was in the handwriting, Nicolas says, of Edward Hawke 
Locker, Esq., the naval biographer and originator of the naval 
picture gallery at Greenwich. He endorsed it, ' Copy of a paper 
communicated to me by Sir Richard Keats, and allowed by him 
to be transcribed by me, ist October, 1829.' 



I 



NELSONS TALK WITH KEATS 291 

any part I choose ; but if circumstances prevent their 
being carried against the enemy where I desire, I 
shall feel certain he will employ them effectually and 
perhaps in a more advantageous manner than if he 
could have followed my orders " (he never mentioned 
or gave any hint by which I could understand who 
it was he intended for this distinguished service). 1 
He continued, " With the remaining part of the fleet, 
formed in two lines, I shall go at them at once if I 
can, about one third of their line from their leading 
ship." He then said, " What do you think of it ? " Such 
a question I felt required consideration. I paused. 
Seeing it he said, " But I will tell you what / think of 
it. I think it will surprise and confound the enemy. 
They won't know what I am about. It will bring 
forward a pell-mell battle, and that is what I want." 

Here we have something roughly on all-fours 
with the methods of the First Dutch War. There 
are the three squadrons, the headlong ' charge ' and 
the metie. The reserve squadron to windward 
goes even further back, to the treatise of De Chaves 
and the Instructions of Lord Lisle in 1545. It 
was no wonder it took away Keats's breath. The 
return to primitive methods was probably uncon- 
scious, but what was obviously uppermost in 
Nelson's mind was the breaking up of the established 
order in single line, leading by surprise and con- 
cealment to a decisive me tee. He seems to insist 
not so much upon defeating the enemy by concen- 
tration as by throwing him into confusion, upsetting 
his mental equilibrium in accordance with the primi- 
tive idea. The notion of concentration is at any 

1 It was certainly not Keats himself, though afterwards Nelson- 
meant to offer him command of the squadron he intended to detach 
into the Mediterranean. In the expected battle Keats, had he 
arrived in time, was to have been Nelson's ' second ' in the line. 
Nelson to Sir Alexander Ball, October 15, 1805. 

2 Nelson's Despatches, vii. 241, note. 

U 2 



292 THE LAST PHASE 

rate secondary, while the subtle scheme for 'con- 
taining ' as perfected in the memorandum is not yet 
developed. As he explained his plan to Keats, he 
meant to attack at once with both his main divi- 
sions, using the reserve squadron as a general sup- 
port. There is no clear statement that he meant it 
as a ' containing ' force, though possibly it was in his 
mind. 1 

There is one more piece of evidence relating to 
this time when he was still in England. According 
to this story Lord Hill, about 1840, when still Com- 
mander-in-Chief, was paying a visit to Lord Sid- 
mouth. His host, who, better known as Addington, 
had been prime minister till 1804, and was in Pitt's 
new cabinet till July 1 805, showed him a table bearing 
a Nelson inscription. He told him that shortly 
before leaving England to join the fleet Nelson had 
drawn upon it after dinner a plan of his intended 
attack, and had explained it as follows : ' I shall 
attack in two lines, led by myself and Collingwood, 
and I am confident I shall capture their van and 
centre or their centre and rear.' ' Those,' concluded 
Sidmouth, ' were his very words,' and remarked how 
wonderfully they had been fulfilled. 2 Hill and Sid- 
mouth at the time were both old men and the 
authority is not high, but so far as it goes it would 
tend to show that an attack in two lines instead of 
one was still Nelson's dominant idea. It cannot 
however safely be taken as evidence that he ever 
intended a concentration on the van, though in view 
of the memorandum of 1803 tn ^ s ^ s quite possible. 



1 Nelson's ' advance squadron ' must not be confused with the 
idea of a reserve squadron which Gravina pressed on Villeneuve 
at the famous Cadiz council of war before Trafalgar. Gravina's 
idea was nothing but the old one of a reserve of superfluous ships 
after equalising the line, as provided by the old English Fighting 
Instructions and recommended by Morogues. 

3 Sidney, Life of Lord Hill> p. 368. 



THE NELSON TOUCH 293 

Finally, there is the statement of Clarke and 
Me Arthur that Nelson before leaving England 
deposited a copy of his plan with Lord Barham, the 
new first lord of the admiralty. This however is 
very doubtful. The Barham papers have recently 
been placed at the disposal of the Society, in the 
hands of Professor Laughton, and the only copy of 
the memorandum he has been able to find is an 
incomplete one containing several errors of tran- 
scription, and dated the Victory, October n, 1805. 
In the absence of further evidence therefore no 
weight can be attached to the oft-repeated assertion 
that Nelson had actually drawn up his memorandum 
before he left England. 

Coming now to the time when he had joined the 
fleet off Cadiz, the first light we have is the well- 
known letter of October i to Lady Hamilton. In 
this letter, after telling her that he had joined on Sep- 
tember 28, but had not been able to communicate 
with the fleet till the 29th, he says, ' When I came to 
explain to them the Nelson touch it was like an 
electric shock. Some shed tears and all approved. 
It was new it was singular it was simple.' 
What he meant exactly by the ' Nelson touch ' has 
never been clearly explained, but he could not 
possibly have meant either concentration or the 
attack on the enemy's rear, for neither of these ideas 
was either new or singular. 

On October 3 he writes to her again : ' The re- 
ception I met with on joining the fleet caused the 
sweetest sensation of my life. . . As soon as these 
emotions were past I laid before them the plan I 
had previously arranged for attacking the enemy, 
and it was not only my pleasure to find it generally 
approved, but clearly perceived and understood.' 1 

1 Clarke and McArthur say the letter was to Lady Hamilton. 



294 THE LAST PHASE 

The next point to notice is the ' Order of Battle 
and Sailing' given by Nicolas. It is without 
date, but almost certainly must have been drawn 
up before Nelson joined. It does not contain the 
Belleisle, which Nelson knew on October 4 was 
to join him. 1 It also does include the name of 
Sir Robert Calder and his flagship, and on Septem- 
ber 30 Nelson had decided to send both him and 
his ship home. 2 

The order is for a fleet of forty sail, but the names 
of only thirty-three are given, which were all Nelson 
really expected to get in time. The remarkable 
feature of this order is that it contains no trace of 
the triple organisation of the memorandum. The 
' advanced squadron ' is absent, and the order is 
based on two equal divisions only. 

Then on October 9, after Calder had gone, there 
is this entry in Nelson's private diary: ' Sent Admiral 
Collingwood the Nelson touch.' It was enclosed in 
a letter in which Nelson says : ' I send you my Plan 
of Attack, as far as a man dare venture to guess 
at the very uncertain position the enemy may be 
found in. But, my dear friend, it is to place you 
perfectly at your ease respecting my intentions and 
to give full scope to your judgment for carrying 
them into effect.' The same day Collingwood 
replies, ' I have a just sense of your lordship's kind- 
ness to me, and the full confidence you have reposed 
in me inspires me with the most lively gratitude. I 
hope it will not be long before there is an oppor- 
tunity of showing your lordship that it has not been 
misplaced.' On these two letters there can be little 

Nicolas, reprinting from the Naval Chronicle, has the addressee's 
name blank. 

1 Nelson to Captain Duff, October 4. The order to take her 
under his command was despatched on September 20. Same to 
Marsden, October 10. 

2 Same to Lord Barham, September 30. 



ITS FINAL FORM 295 

doubt that the ' Plan of Attack ' which Nelson en- 
closed was that of the memorandum. The draft from 
which Nicolas printed appears to have been dated 
October 9, and originally had in one passage ' you ' 
and ' your ' for the ' second in command,' showing 
that Nelson in his mind was addressing his remarks 
to Collingwood, though subsequently he altered 
the sentence into the third person. Only one 
other copy was known to Nicolas, and that was 
issued in the altered form to Captain Hope, of the 
Defence, a ship which in the order of battle was 
in Ccllingwood's squadron, but Codrington tells us 
it was certainly issued to all the captains. 1 

So far, then, we have the case thus that what- 
ever Nelson may have really told Lord Sidmouth, 
and whatever may have been in his mind when he 
drew up the dual order of battle and sailing, he had 
by October 9 reverted to the triple idea which 
he had explained to Keats. Meanwhile, however, 
his conception had ripened. There are marked 
changes in organisation, method and intention. 
In organisation the reserve squadron is reduced 
from the original twelve or fourteen to eight, or 
one fifth of his hypothetical fleet instead of about 
one third reduced, that is, to a strength at which 
it was much less capable of important independent 
action. In method we have, instead of an attack 
with the two main divisions, an attack with one only, 
with the other covering it. In intention we have 
as the primary function of the reserve squadron, 
its attachment to one or other of the other two main 
divisions as circumstances may dictate. 

The natural inference from these important 
changes is that Nelson's conception was now an 
attack in two divisions of different strength, the 

1 See the note on Trafalgar dictated by him in Memoirs of Sir 
Edward Codrington, edited by Lady Bourchier, 1873. 



296 THE LAST PHASE 

stronger of which, as the memorandum subse- 
quently explains, was to be used as a containing 
force to cover the attack of the other, and except 
that the balance of the two divisions was reversed, 
this is practically just what Clerk of Eldin had re- 
commended and what actually happened in the 
battle. It is a clear advance upon the original idea 
as explained to Keats, in which the third squadron 
was to be used on the primitive and indefinite plan 
of De Chaves and Lord Lisle as a general reserve. 
It also explains Nelson's covering letter to Ceiling- 
wood, in which he seems to convey to his colleague 
that the pith of his plan was an attack in two 
divisions, and, within the general lines of the design, 
complete freedom of action for the second in com- 
mand. How largely this idea of independent control 
entered into the ' Nelson touch ' we may judge from 
the fact that it is emphasised in no less than three 
distinct paragraphs of the memorandum. 

Such, then, is the fundamental principle of the 
memorandum as enunciated in its opening para- 
graphs. He then proceeds to elaborate it in two 
detailed plans of attack one from to-leeward and 
the other from to-windward. It was the latter he 
meant to make if possible. He calls it ' the 
intended attack,' and it accords with the opening 
enunciation. The organisation is triple, but no 
special function is assigned to the reserve squadron. 
The actual attack on the enemy's rear is to be made 
by Collingwood, while Nelson with his own division 
and the reserve is to cover him. In the event of an 
attack having to be made from to-leeward, the idea 
is different. Here the containing movement practi- 
cally disappears. The fleet is still to attack the 
rear and part of the centre of the enemy, but now 
in three independent divisions simultaneously, in 
such a way as to cut his line at three points, and to 



THE TWO PLANS OF ATTACK 297 

concentrate a superior force on each section of the 
severed line. To none of the divisions is assigned 
the duty of containing the rest of the enemy's 
fleet from the outset. It is to be dealt with at a 
second stage of the action by all ships that are still 
capable of renewing the engagement after the first 
stage. ' The whole impression,' as Nelson put it, 
in case he was forced to attack from to-leeward, was 
to overpower the enemy's line from a little ahead of 
the centre to the rearmost ship. He does not say, 
however, that this was to be ' the whole impression ' 
of the intended attack from to-windward. ' The 
whole impression ' there appears to be for Colling- 
wood to overpower the rear while Nelson with the 
other two divisions made play with the enemy's van 
and centre ; but the particular manner in which he 
would carry out this part of the design is left undeter- 
mined. 

The important point, then, in considering the 
relation between the actual battle and the memo- 
randum, is to remember that it provided for two 
different methods of attacking the rear according to 
whether the enemy were encountered to windward 
or to leeward. The somewhat illogical arrangement 
of the memorandum tends to conceal this highly 
important distinction. For Nelson interpolates be- 
tween his explanation of the windward attack and his 
opening enunciation of principle his explanation of 
the leeward attack, to which the enunciation did 
not apply. That some confusion was caused in the 
minds of some even of his best officers is certain, 
but let them speak for themselves. 

After the battle Captain Harvey, of the Tme"- 
raire, whom Nelson had intended to lead his line, 
wrote to his wife, ' It was noon before the action 
commenced, which was done according to the in- 
structions given us by Lord Nelson . . . Lord 



298 THE LAST PHASE 

Nelson had given me leave to lead and break through 
the line about the fourteenth ship/ i.e. two or 
three ships ahead of the centre, as explained in the 
memorandum for the leeward attack but not for the 
windward. 

On the other hand we have Captain Moorsom, of 
the Revenge, who was in Collingwood's division, 
saying exactly the opposite. Writing to his father 
on December 4, he says, ' I have seen several plans 
of the action, but none to answer my ideas of it. 
A regular plan was laid down by Lord Nelson some 
time before the action but not acted on. His great 
anxiety seemed to be to get to leeward of them lest 
they should make off to Cadiz before he could get 
near them.' And on November i, to the same 
correspondent he had written, ' I am not certain 
that our mode of attack was the best : however, it 
succeeded.' Here then we have two of Nelson's 
most able captains entirely disagreeing as to whether 
or not the attack was carried out in accordance 
with any plan which Nelson laid down. 

Captain Moorsom's view may be further followed 
in a tactical study written by his son, Vice-Admiral 
Constantine Moorsom. 1 His remarks on Trafalgar 
were presumably largely inspired by his father, who 
lived till 1835. I* 1 ms view there was ' an entire 
alteration both of the scientific principle and of the 
tactical movements,' both of which he thinks were 
due to what he calls the morale of the enemy's 
attitude that is, that Nelson was afraid they were 
going to slip through his fingers into Cadiz. The 
change of plan meaning presumably the change 
from the triple to the dual organisation he thinks 
was not due to the reduced numbers which Nelson 
actually had under his flag, for the ratio between the 

1 On the Principles of Naval Tactics, 1846. 



VIEWS OF NELSON'S OFFICERS 299 

two fleets remained much about the same as that of 
his hypothesis. 

The interesting testimony of Lieutenant G. L. 
Browne, who, as Admiral Jackson informs us, was 
assistant flag-lieutenant in the Victory and had every 
means of knowing, endorses the view of the Moorsoms. 1 
After explaining to his parents the delay caused by 
the established method of forming the fleets in two 
parallel lines so that each had an opposite number, 
as set forth in the opening words of the memoran- 
dum, he says, ' but by his lordship's mode of attack 
you will clearly perceive not an instant of time could 
be lost. The frequent communications he had with 
his admirals and captains put them in possession of 
all his plans, so that his mode of attack was well 
known to every officer of the fleet. Some will not 
fail to attribute rashness to the conduct of Lord 
Nelson. But he well considered the importance of 
a decisive naval victory at this time, and has fre- 
quently said since we left England that, should he be 
so fortunate as to fall in with the enemy, a total defeat 
should be the result on the one side or the other.' 

Next we have what is probably the most acute 
and illuminating criticism of the battle that exists, 
from the pen of ' an officer who was present.' Sir 
Charles Ekin quotes it anonymously ; but from in- 
ternal evidence there is little difficulty in assigning it 
to an officer of the Conqueror, though clearly not 
her captain, Israel Pellew, in whose justification the 
concluding part was written. Whoever he was 
the writer thoroughly appreciated and understood 
the tactical basis of Nelson's plan, as laid down 
in the memorandum, and he frankly condemns 
his chief for having exposed his fleet unnecessarily 
by permitting himself to be hurried out of deliver- 
ing his attack in line abreast as he intended. It 
1 Great Sea Fights, ii. 196, note. 



300 THE LAST PHASE 

might well have been done, so far as he could 
see, without any more loss of time than actually 
occurred in getting the bulk of the fleet into 
action. Loss of time was the only excuse for at- 
tacking in line ahead, and the only reason he could 
suppose for the change of plan. If they had all 
gone down together in line abreast, he is sure the 
victory would have been more quickly decided and 
the brunt of the fight more equally borne. Nothing, 
he thinks, could have been better than the plan of 
the memorandum if it had only been properly 
executed. An attack in two great divisions with a 
squadron of observation so he summarises the 
' Nelson touch ' seemed to him to combine every 
precaution under all circumstances. It allows of 
concentration and containing. Each ship can use 
her full speed without fear of being isolated. The 
fastest ships will break through the line first, and 
they are just those which from their speed in pass- 
ing are liable to the least damage, while having 
passed through, they cause a diversion for the attack 
of their slower comrades. Finally, if the enemy tries 
to make off and avoid action, the fleet is well col- 
lected for a general chase. But as Nelson actually 
made the attack in his hurry to close, he threw away 
most of these advantages, and against an enemy of 
equal spirit each ship must have been crushed as 
she came into action. Instead of doubling ourselves, 
he says, we were doubled and even trebled on. 
Nelson in fact presented the enemy's fleet with 
precisely the position which the memorandum aimed 
at securing for ourselves that is to say, he suffered a 
portion of his fleet, comprising the Victory, Teme- 
raire, Royal Sovereign, Belleisle, Mars, Colossus, 
and Bellerophon, to be cut off and doubled on. 1 

1 See/^/, p. 357 Appendix, where this interesting paper is set 
out in full. 



THE ADVANCED SQUADRON 301 

The last important witness is Captain Codrington, 
of the Orion. No one seems to have kept his head 
so well in the action, and this fact, coupled with the 
high reputation he subsequently acquired, gives 
peculiar weight to his testimony. It is on the ques- 
tion of the advanced or reserve squadron that he 
is specially interesting. On October 19 at 8 P.M., 
just after they had been surprised and rejoiced by 
Nelson's signal for a general chase, and were steer- 
ing for the enemy, as he says, ' under every stitch of 
sail we can set,' he sat down to write to his wife. 
In the course of the letter he tells her, ' Defence and 
Agamemnon are upon the look out nearest to Cadiz ; 
. . . Colossus and Mars are stationed next. The 
above four and as many more of us are now to form 
an advanced squadron ; and I trust by the morning 
we shall all be united and in sight of the enemy.' 
Clearly then Nelson must have issued some modi- 
fication of the dual ' order of battle and sailing.' 
Many years later in a note upon the battle which 
Codrington dictated to his daughter, Lady Bourchier, 
he says that on the 2Oth, in spite of Collingwood's 
advice to attack at once, Nelson ' continued waiting 
upon them in two columns according to the order 
of sailing and the memorable written instruction 
which was given out to all the captains.' 1 Later 
still, when a veteran of seventy-six years, he gave to 
Sir Harris Nicolas another note which shows how 
in his own mind he reconciled the apparent discre- 
pancy between the dual and the triple organisation. 
It runs as follows : 'In Lord Nelson's memoran- 
dum of October 9, 1805, he refers to "an advanced 
squadron of eight of the fastest sailing two-decked 
ships " to be added to either of the two lines of the 
order of sailing as may be required ; and says that 
this advanced squadron would probably have to cut 
1 Life of Codrington, ii. 57-8. 



302 THE LAST PHASE 

through "two, three or four ships of the enemy's 
centre so as to ensure getting at their commander- 
in-chief, on whom every effort must be made to 
capture " ; * and he afterwards twice speaks of the 
enemy's van coming to succour their rear. Now I 
am under the impression that I was expressly 
instructed by Lord Nelson (referring to the proba- 
bility of the enemy's van coming down upon us), 
being in the Orion, one of the eight ships named, 
that he himself would probably make a feint of 
attacking their van in order to prevent or retard it.' 
Here then would seem to be still further con- 
fusion, due to a failure to distinguish between the 
leeward and windward form of attack. Accord- 
ing to this statement Codrington believed the ad- 
vanced squadron was in either case to attack the 
centre, while Nelson with his division contained 
the van. But curiously enough in a similar note, 
printed by Lady Bourchier on Nicolas's authority, 
there is a difference in the wording which, though 
difficult to account for, seems to give the truer 
version of what Codrington really said. It is there 
stated that Codrington told Nicolas he was strongly 
impressed with the belief ' that Lord Nelson di- 
rected eight of the smaller and handier ships, of 
which the Orion was one, to be ready to haul out 
of the line in case the enemy's van should appear 
to go down to the assistance of the ships engaged 
to meet and resist them : that to prevent this 
manoeuvre on the part of the enemy Lord Nelson 
intimated his intention of making a feint of hauling 
out towards their van,' &c. There is little doubt 
that we have here the true distribution of duties 
which Nelson intended for the windward attack 

1 It should be noted that the memorandum only enjoins this 
for an attack from to-leeward, and not for the ' intended attack ' 
from to-windward. 



THE ADVANCED SQUADRON 303 

that is, the advanced squadron was to be the real 
containing force, but he intended to assist it by 
himself making a feint on the enemy's van before 
delivering his true attack on the centre. 1 

From Codrington's evidence it is at any rate 
clear that some time before the iQth Nelson had 
told off an ' advanced squadron ' as provided for in 
his memorandum, and that the ships that were 
forming the connection between the fleet and the 
frigates before Cadiz formed part of it. Now 
Nelson had begun to tell off these ships as early as 
the 4th. On that day he wrote to Captain Duff, 
of the Mars, ' I have to desire you will keep with 
the Mars, Defence and Colossus from three to four 
leagues between the fleet and Cadiz in order that 
I may get information from the frigates stationed 
off that port as expeditiously as possible.' On the 
nth, writing to Sir Alexander Ball at Malta, he 
speaks of having ' an advanced squadron of fast sail- 
ing ships between me and the frigates.' The Aga- 
memnon (64) was added on the I4th, the day after 
she joined. On that day Nelson entered in his pri- 
vate diary, ' Placed Defence and Agamemnon from 
seven to ten leagues west of Cadiz, and Mars and 
Colossus four leagues east of the fleet,' &c. 2 On 
the 1 5th he wrote to Captain Hope, of the Defence : 
1 You will with the Agamemnon take station west 
from Cadiz from seven to ten leagues, by which 
means if the enemy should move I hope to have 
constant information, as two or three ships will be 
kept as at present between the fleet and your two 
ships.' 3 

On the 1 2th he writes to Collingwood, of the 

1 See Nelson's Despatches, vii. 154 ; Life of Codrington, ii. 77. 

2 Nicolas, vii. 122. Before this Mars and Colossus had 
had the inside station. See Nelson to Collingwood, October 12. 

3 Ibid,, vii. 122. 



304 THE LAST PHASE 

Belleisle, the fastest two-decker in the fleet, as 
though she too were an advanced ship, and on the 
morning of the igth he tells him the Leviathan 
was to relieve the Defence, whose water had got low. 
Later in the day, when Mars and Colossus had passed 
on the signal that the enemy was out, he ordered 
' Mars, Orion, Belleisle, Leviathan, Bellerophon 
and Polyphemus to go ahead during the night. ' l 
On the eve of the battle therefore these six ships, 
with Colossus and Agamemnon, made up the squa- 
dron of eight specified on the memorandum. 

The conclusion then is that, though some of the 
ships destined to form the advanced squadron had 
not arrived by the Qth when the memorandum was 
issued, Nelson had already taken steps to organise 
it, and that on the evening of the i9th, the first 
moment he had active contact with the enemy, it 
was detached from the fleet as a separate unit. Up 
to this moment it would look as though he had 
intended to use it as his memorandum directed. 
Since with the exception of the Agamemnon and 
the Leviathan, which had only temporarily replaced 
the Defence while she watered, the whole of the 
ships named belonged to Collingwood's division, the 
resulting organisation would have been, lee-line 
nine ships, weather-line eight ships, and eight for 
the advanced squadron an organisation which in 
relative proportion was almost exactly that which he 
had explained to Keats. It would therefore still have 
rendered Nelson's original plan of attack possible, 
although it did not preserve the balance of the 
divisions prescribed in the memorandum. 

There can be little doubt, however, that Nelson 

on the morning of the battle did abandon the 

idea of the advanced squadron altogether. Early 

on the 2oth it was broken up again. At 8 o'clock in 

1 Nicolas, vii. 115, 129, 133. 



THE ADVANCED SQUADRON 305 

the morning of that day the captains of the Mars, 
Colossus and Defence (which apparently was by 
this time ready again for service) were called on 
board the Victory and ordered out to form a chain 
as before between the admiral and his frigates. 1 
The rest presumably resumed their stations in the 
fleet. E* i if he had not actually abandoned this 
part of his plan, it is clear that in his hurry to 
attack Nelson would not spend time in reforming 
the squadron as a separate unit, but chose rather to 
carry out his design, so far as was possible, with two 
divisions only. So soon as he sighted the enemy's 
fleet at daylight on the 2ist, he made the signal 
to form the line of battle in two columns, and with 
one exception the whole of the advanced ships took 
station in their respective divisions according to 
the original order of battle and sailing.' 2 The ex- 
ception was Codrington's ship, the Orion. No 
importance however need be attached to this, for 
although he was originally in Collingwood's division 
he may well have been transferred to Nelson's 
some time before. It is only worthy of remark 
because Codrington, of all the advanced squadron 
captains, was the only one, so far as we know, who- 
still considered the squadron a potential factor in 

1 Memorandum and Private Diary, Nicolas, pp. 136-7. 

2 Some doubt has been expressed as to the signals with 
which Nelson opened at daybreak on the 2ist. But their actual 
numbers are recorded in the logs of the Mars, Defiance, Con- 
queror and Bellerophon, and all but the first in the log of the 
Euryalus repeating frigate. They were No. 72: 'To form 
order of sailing in two columns or divisions of the fleet,' which 
by the memorandum was also to be the order of battle ; No. 76, 
with compass signal ENE, ' when lying by or sailing by the wind 1 
to bear up and sail large on the course pointed out ' ; No. 13, 
Prepare for battle. Collingwood has in his journal : 'At 6.30 the 
commander-in-chief made the signal to form order of sailing in 
two columns, and at 7.0 to prepare for battle. At 7.40 to bear 
up east.' 



3 o6 THE LAST PHASE 

the fleet and acted accordingly. While Belleisle, 
Mars, Bellerophon and Colossus rushed into the 
fight in the van of Collingwood's line, Orion in the 
rear of Nelson's held her fire even when she got 
into action, and cruised about the m$tie, carefully 
seeking points where she could do most damage to 
an enemy, or best help an overmatched friend 
a well-judged piece of service, on which he dwells 
in his correspondence over and over again with 
pardonable complacency. He was thus able un- 
doubtedly to do admirable service in the crisis of 
the action. 

That the bulk of his colleagues thought all idea 
of a reserve squadron had been abandoned by 
Nelson is clear, and the resulting change was 
certainly great enough to explain why some of the 
captains thought the plan of the memorandum had 
been abandoned altogether. For not only was the 
attack made in two divisions instead of one, and in 
line ahead instead of line abreast, but its prescribed 
balance was entirely upset. Instead of Nelson 
having the larger portion of the fleet for contain- 
ing the van and centre, Collingwood had the larger 
portion for the attack on the rear. In other words, 
instead of the advanced squadron being under 
Nelson's direction, the bulk of it was attached to 
Collingwood. If some heads even as clear as 
Codrington's were puzzled, it is little wonder. 

As to the way in which this impulsive change 
of plan was brought about, Codrington says, ' They 
[the enemy] suddenly wore round so as to have Cadiz 
under their lee, with every appearance of a deter- 
mination to go into that port. Lord Nelson there- 
fore took advantage of their confusion in wearing, 
and bore down to attack them with the fleet in two 
columns.' This was in the note dictated to Lady 
Bourchier, and in a letter of October 28, 1805, to 



FEINT ON THE VAN 307 

Lord Garlics he says, ' We all scrambled into battle 
as soon as we could.' l 

Codrington's allusion to Nelson's alleged feint 
on the enemy's van brings us to the last point ; the 
question, that is, as to whether, apart from the sub- 
stitution of the perpendicular for the parallel attack, 
and in spite of the change of balance, the two lines 
were actually handled in the action according to 
the principles of the memorandum for the intended 
attack from to-windward. 

Lady Bourchier's note continues, after referring 
to Nelson's intention to make a feint on the van, 
1 The Victory did accordingly haul to port : and 
though she took in her larboard and weather 
studding sails, she kept her starboard studding sails 
set (notwithstanding they had become the lee ones 
and were shaking), thus proving that he proposed 
to resume his course, as those sails would be im- 
mediately wanted to get the Victory into her former 
station.' The note in Nicolas is to the same 
effect, but adds that Codrington had no doubt that 
having taken in his weather studding sails he kept 
the lee ones ' set and shaking in order to make it 
clear to the fleet that his movement was merely a 
feint, and that the Victory would speedily resume 
her course and fulfil his intention of cutting through 
the centre.' And in admiration of the movement 
Codrington called his first lieutenant and said, ' How 
beautifully the admiral is carrying his design into 
effect ! ' Though all this was written long after, when 
his memory perhaps was fading, it is confirmed by a 
contemporary entry in his log : ' The Victory, after 
making a feint as of attacking the enemy's van, 
hauled to starboard so as to reach their centre.' 2 

This is all clear enough so far, but now we have 

1 Life of Codrington, ii. 59, 60. 

2 Great Sea Fights, ii. 278. 

X 2 



3 o8 THE LAST PHASE 

to face a signal mentioned in the log of the Euryalus 
which, as she was Nelson's repeating frigate, can- 
not be ignored. According to this high authority 
Nelson, about a quarter of an hour before making 
his immortal signal, telegraphed ' I intend to push 
or go through the end of the enemy's line to prevent 
them from getting into Cadiz.' It is doubtful how 
far this signal was taken in, but those who saw it 
must have thought that Nelson meant to execute 
Howe's manoeuvre upon the enemy's leading ships. 
At this time, according to the master of the Victory, 
he was standing for the enemy's van. Nelson also 
signalled to certain ships to keep away a point to 
port. The Victory's log has this entry : ' At 4 
minutes past 1 2 opened our fire on the enemy's van, 
in passing down their line.' At 30 minutes past 
12 the Victory got up with Villeneuve's flagship 
and then broke through the line. Now at first 
sight it might appear that Nelson really intended to 
attack the van and not the centre, on the principle 
of Hoste's old manoeuvre which Howe had reintro- 
duced into the Signal Book for attacking a numeri- 
cally superior fleet that is, van to van and rear to 
rear, leaving the enemy's centre unoccupied. 1 For 
the old signal provided that when this was done 
' the flag officers are, if circumstances permit, to 
engage the flag officers of the enemy,' which was 
exactly what Nelson was doing. On this supposi- 
tion his idea would be that his ships should attack 
the enemy ahead of Villeneuve as they came up. 
And this his second, the Temeraire, actually did. 
But, as we have seen by Instruction XXIV. of 1799, 

1 A veteran French officer of the old wars took this view of 
Nelson's threat in a study of the battle which he wrote. ' Nelson,' 
he says, ' a d'abord feint de vouloir attaquer la tete et la queue 
de 1'armee. Ensuite il a rassemble ses forces sur son centre, et a 
abandonne le sort de la bataille a 1'intelligence de sescapitaines.' 
Mathieu-Dumas, Precis des Evtnements Militaires^ xiv. 408. 



FEINT ON THE VAN 309 

the old rule of 1790 had been altered, and if Nelson 
intended to execute Hoste's plan of attack he, as 
'leading ship,' would or should have engaged the 
enemy's 'leading ship,' leaving the rest as they 
could to engage the enemy of 'greatest force.' The 
only explanation is that, if he really intended to 
attack the van, he again changed his mind when he 
fetched up with Villeneuve, and could not resist 
engaging him. More probably, however, the signal 
was wrongly repeated by the Euryalus, and as made 
by Nelson it was really an intimation to Collingwood 
that he meant to cover the attack on the rear and 
centre by a feint on the van. 1 

However this may be, the French appear to 
have regarded Nelson's movement to port as a real 
attack. Their best account (which is also perhaps 
the best account that exists) says that just before 
coming into gun-shot the two British columns 
began to separate. The leading vessels of Nelson's 
column, it says, passed through the same interval 
astern of the Bucentaure, and then it tells how ' les 
vaisseaux de queue de cette colonne, au contraire, 
serrerent un peu le vent, comme pour s'approcher 
des vaisseaux de 1 'avant-garde de la flotte com- 
bine"e : mais apres avoir re9u quelques borders de 
ces vaisseaux ils abandonnerent ce dessein et se 
porterent vers les vaisseaux place's entre le Redou- 
table et la Santa Anna ou vinrent unir leurs efforts 
a ceux des vaisseaux anglais qui combattaient deja le 
Bucentaure et la Santisima Trinidad.' ' This is to 

1 The only trace of notice having been taken by anyone of a 
signal from Nelson at the time stated was Collingwood's impa- 
tient remark when Nelson began to telegraph ' England expects,' 
&c. ' I wish Nelson would stop signalling,' he is reported to have 
said. ' We all know well enough what we have to do,' as though 
Nelson had been signalling something just before. 

2 Monuments des Victoires et Conqtiltes des franfais from 
Nicolas, vii. 271. It was also adopted by Mathieu-Dumas (op. cit. 



310 THE LAST PHASE 

some extent confirmed by Dumanoir himself, who 
commanded the allied van, in his official memoran- 
dum addressed to Decres, December 30, 1809. In de- 
fending his failure to tack sooner to Villeneuve's relief, 
he says, ' Au commencement du combat, la colonne 
du Nord [i.e. Nelson's] se dirigea sur 1' avant-garde 
qui engagea avec elle pendant quarante minutes.' 1 
In partial corroboration of this there is the statement 
in the log of the Temeraire, the ship that was im- 
mediately behind Nelson, that she opened her fire 
on the Santisima Trinidad and the two ships ahead 
of her ; that is, she engaged the ships ahead of 
where Nelson broke the line, so that Captain 
Harvey as well as Dumanoir may have believed 
that Nelson intended his real attack to be on ' the 
end of the line.' 

In the face of these facts it is impossible to say 
categorically that Nelson intended nothing but a 
feint on the van. It is equally impossible to say 
he intended a real attack. The point perhaps can 
never be decided with absolute certainty, but it is 
this very uncertainty that brings out the true merit 
and the real lesson of Nelson's attack. As we now 
may gather from his captains' opinions, its true 
merit was not that he threw his whole fleet on part 
of a superior enemy that was a commonplace in 
tactics. It was not concentration on the rear, for 
that also was old ; and what is more, as the attack 
was delivered, so far from Nelson concentrating, he 
boldly, almost recklessly, exposed himself for a 
strategical object to what should have been an 
overwhelming concentration on the leading ships of 
his two columns. The true merit of it above all 
previous methods of concentration and containing 

xiii. p. 178) as the best and most impartial account. He says it 
was written by a French naval officer called Parisot. 

1 Jurien de la Graviere, Guerres Maritime*, ii. 220, note. 



COLLINGWOODS SIGNAL 311 

was that, whether, as planned or as delivered, it 
prevented the enemy from knowing on which part 
of their line Nelson intended to throw his squadron, 
just as we are prevented from knowing to this day. 
' They won't know what I am about ' were his words 
to Keats. 

The point is clearer still when we compare the 
different ways in which Nelson and Collingwood 
brought their respective columns into action. Col- 
lingwood in his Journal says that shortly before 
1 1 o'clock, that is, an hour before getting into action, 
he signalled ' for the lee division to form the lar- 
board line of bearing.' The effect and intention of 
this would be that each ship in his division would 
head on the shortest course to break the enemy's line 
in all parts. It was the necessary signal for enabling 
him to carry out regularly Howe's manoeuvre upon 
the enemy's rear, and his object was declared for 
all to see. 1 Nelson, on the other hand, made no 
such signal, but held on in line ahead, giving no 
indication of whether he intended to perform the 
manoeuvre on the van or the centre, or whether he 
meant to cut the line in line ahead. Until they 

1 This highly important signal appears to have been generally 
overlooked in accounts of the action. Yet Collingwood's 
journal is so precise about signals that there can be no doubt 
he made it. Agamemnon in Nelson's column answered it under 
the impression it was general. Her log says, ' Answered signal 
No. 50 ' that is, ' To keep on the larboard line of bearing though 
then on the starboard tack. Ditto starboard bearing if on larboard 
tack.' Captain Moorsom also says, ' My station was sixth ship- 
in the rear of the lee column ; but as the Revenge sailed well 
Admiral Collingwood made my signal to keep a line of bearing 
from him which made me one of the leading ships through the 
enemy's line.' No other ship records the signal. Probably few 
saw it, for in the memorandum which Collingwood issued two 
years later he lays stress on the importance of captains being 
particularly watchful for the signals of their divisional commander. 
See /0s/, pp. 324 and 329. 



312 THE LAST PHASE 

knew which it was to be, it was impossible for the 
enemy to take any step to concentrate with either 
division, and thus Nelson held them both immobile 
while Collingwood flung himself on his declared 
objective. 

Nothing could be finer as a piece of subtle 
tactics. Nothing could be more daring as a well- 
judged risk. The risk was indeed enormous, perhaps 
the greatest ever taken at sea. Hawke risked much 
at Quiberon, and much was risked at the Nile. But 
both were sea-risks of the class to which our seamen 
were enured. At Trafalgar it was a pure battle- 
risk a mad, perpendicular attack in which every 
recognised tactical card was in the enemy's hand. 
But Nelson's judgment was right. He knew his 
opponent's lack of decision, he knew the individual 
shortcomings of the allied ships, and he knew he 
had only to throw dust, as he did, in their eyes for 
the wild scheme to succeed. As Jurien de la 
Graviere has most wisely said ' Le g6nie de Nelson 
c'est d'avoir compris notre faiblesse.' 

Yet when all is said, when even full weight is 
given to the strategical pressure of the hour and the 
uncertainty of the weather, there still remains the 
unanswerable criticism of the officer of the Con- 
queror : that by an error of judgment Nelson spoilt 
his attack by unnecessary haste. The moral advan- 
tage of pushing home a bold attack before an 
enemy is formed is of course very great ; but in 
this case the enemy had no intention of avoiding 
him, as they showed, and he acknowledged, when 
they boldly lay-to to accept action. The confusion 
of their line was tactically no weakness : it only 
resulted in a duplication which was so nicely adapted 
for meeting Howe's manoeuvre that there was a 
widespread belief in the British fleet, which Colling- 
wood himself shared, that Villeneuve had adopted 



NELSON, 1803 313 

it deliberately. 1 Seeing what the enemy's acci- 
dental formation was, every ship that pierced it 
must be almost inevitably doubled or trebled on. 
It was, we know, the old Dutch manner of meeting 
the English method of attack in the earliest days 
of the line. 2 Had he given Villeneuve time for 
forming his line properly the enemy's battle order 
would have been only the weaker. Had he taken 
time to form his own order the mass of the attack 
would have been delivered little later than it was, 
its impact would have been intensified, and the 
victory might well have been even more decisive 
than it was, while the sacrifice it cost would cer- 
tainly have been less, incalculably less, if we think 
that the sacrifice included Nelson himself. 



LORD NELSON, 1803. 
[Clarke and McArthur, Life of Nelson, ii. 427. 3 ] 

Plan of Attack. 

The business of a commander-in-chief being 
first to bring an enemy's fleet to battle on the most 
advantageous terms to himself (I mean that of laying 
his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously 

1 Collingwood to Marsden, October 22. Same to Parker, 
November i. Same to Pasley, December 16, 1805. 

2 See supra, p. 119. Villeneuve saw this. In his official des- 
patch from the Euryalus, November 5, he says ' Notre formation 
s'effectuait avec beaucoup de peine ; mais dans le genre d'attaque 
que je prevoyais que 1'ennemi allait nous faire, cette irregularite 
meme dans notre ligne ne me paraissait pas un inconvenient.' 
Jurien de la Graviere, Guerres Maritime*, ii. 384. 

3 From the original in the St. Vincent Papers. Also in Nicolas, 
Despatches and Letters, vi. 443. Obvious mistakes in punctuation 
have been corrected in the text. 



314 THE LAST PHASE 

as possible, and secondly, to continue them there 
without separating until the business is decided), I 
am sensible beyond this object it is not necessary 
that I should say a word, being fully assured that 
the admirals and captains of the fleet I have the 
honour to command will, knowing my precise object, 
that of a close and decisive battle, supply any de- 
ficiency in my not making signals, which may, if 
extended beyond those objects, either be misunder- 
stood, or if waited for very probably from various 
causes be impossible for the commander-in-chief to 
make. Therefore it will only be requisite for me 
to state in as few words as possible the various 
modes in which it may be necessary for me to obtain 
my object ; on which depends not only the honour 
and glory of our country, but possibly its safety, 
and with it that of all Europe, from French tyranny 
and oppression. 

If the two fleets are both willing to fight, but 
little manoeuvring is necessary, the less the better. 
A day is soon lost in that business. Therefore 
I will only suppose that the enemy's fleet being to 
leeward standing close upon a wind, and that I am 
nearly ahead of them standing on the larboard tack. 
Of course I should weather them. The weather must 
be supposed to be moderate ; for if it be a gale of 
wind the manoeuvring of both fleets is but of little 
avail, and probably no decisive action would take 
place with the whole fleet. 1 

Two modes present themselves : one to stand 
on just out of gun-shot, until the van ship of my line 
would be about the centre ship of the enemy ; then 
make the signal to wear together ; then bear up 
[and] engage with all our force the six or five van 
ships of the enemy, passing, certainly if opportunity 
offered, through their line. This would prevent 
1 Cf. the similar remark of Ue Chaves, supra, p. 5. 



NELSON, 1803 315 

their bearing up, and the action, from the known 
bravery and conduct of the admirals and captains, 
would certainly be decisive. The second or third 
rear ships of the enemy would act as they please, 
and our ships would give a good account of them, 
should they persist in mixing with our ships. 

The other mode would be to stand under an 
easy but commanding sail directly for their headmost 
ship, so as to prevent the enemy from knowing 
whether I should pass to leeward or to windward of 
him. In that situation I would make the signal to 
engage the enemy to leeward, and cut through their 
fleet about the sixth ship from the van, passing very 
close. They being on a wind and you going large 
could cut their line when you please. The van 
ships of the enemy would, by the time our rear came 
abreast of the van ship, be severely cut up, and our 
van could not expect to escape damage. I would 
then have our rear ship and every ship in succes- 
sion wear [and] continue the action with either the 
van ship or the second as it might appear most 
eligible from her crippled state ; and this mode 
pursued I see nothing to prevent the capture of the 
five or six ships of the enemy's van. The two or 
three ships of the enemy's rear must either bear up or 
wear ; and in either case, although they would be in a 
better plight probably than our two van ships (now 
the rear), yet they would be separated and at a dis- 
tance to leeward, so as to give our ships time to 
refit. And by that time I believe the battle would, 
from the judgment of the admiral and captains, be 
over with the rest of them. Signals from these 
moments are useless when every man is disposed to 
do his duty. The great object is for us to support 
each other, and to keep close to the enemy and to 
leeward of him. 

If the enemy are running away, then the only 



316 THE LAST PHASE 

signals necessary will be to engage the enemy on 
arriving up with them ; and the other ships to pass 
on for the second, third, &c., giving if possible a 
close fire into the enemy on passing, taking care to 
give our ships engaged notice of your intention. 



LORD NELSON, 1805. 
[Nicolas, Despatches and Letters, vii. 1 ] 

Memorandum. 
Secret. Victory, off Cadiz, gth October, 1805. 

Thinking it almost impossible to bring a fleet of 
forty sail of the line into line of battle in variable 
winds, thick weather, and other circumstances 
which must occur, without such a loss of time that 
the opportunity would probably be lost of bringing 
the enemy to battle in such a manner as to make 
the business decisive ; I have therefore made up 
my mind to keep the fleet in that position of sailing 
(with the exception of the first and second in com- 
mand), that the order of sailing is to be the order of 
battle ; placing the fleet in two lines of sixteen ships 
each, with an advance squadron of eight of the 
fastest sailing two-decked ships, which will always 
make, if wanted, a line of twenty-four sail on which- 
ever line the commander-in-chief may direct. 

The second in command will, 2 after my inten- 

1 Sir Harris Nicolas states that he took his text from an 
' Autograph [he means holograph] draught in the possession of 
Vice- Admiral Sir George Mundy, K.C.B., except the words in 
italics which were added by Mr. Scott, Lord Nelson's secretary : 
and from the original issued to Captain Hope of the Defence, 
now in possession of his son, Captain Hope, R.N.' 

2 Lord Nelson originally wrote here but deleted ' in fact com- 
mand his line and.' Nicolas. 



NELSON, 1805 

tions are made known to him, have the entire 
direction of his line ; to make the attack upon the 
enemy, and to follow up the blow until they are 
captured or destroyed. 

If the enemy's fleet should be seen to wind- 
ward in line of battle, and that the two lines and 
the advanced squadron can fetch them, 1 they will 
probably be so extended that their van could not 
succour their rear. 

I should therefore probably make the second in 
command's 2 signal, to lead through about the twelfth 
ship from the rear (or wherever he 3 could fetch, if 
not able to get as far advanced). My line would 
lead through about their centre ; and the advanced 
squadron to cut two, three, or four ships ahead of 
their centre, so far as to ensure getting at their 
commander-in-chief on whom every effort must be 
made to capture. 

The whole impression of the British fleet must 
be to overpower from two to three ships ahead of 
their commander-in-chief, supposed to be in the 
centre, to the rear of their fleet. I will suppose 
twenty sail of the enemy's line to be untouched ; it 
must be some time before they could perform a 
manoeuvre to bring their force compact to attack 
any part of the British fleet engaged, or to succour 
their own ships ; which indeed would be impossible, 
without mixing with the ships engaged. 4 

1 Lord Nelson originally wrote here but deleted ' I shall sup- 
pose them forty-six sail in the line of battle.' Nicolas. 

2 Originally ' your ' but deleted. Ibid. 

3 Originally 'you' but deleted. Ibid. 

4 In the upper margin of the paper Lord Nelson wrote and 
Mr. Scott added to it a reference, as marked in the text ' the 
enemy's fleet is supposed to consist of 46 sail of the line, British 
fleet 40. If either be less, only a proportionate number of enemy's 
ships are to be cut off: B. to be \ superior to the E. cut off. 
Ibid. 



318 THE LAST PHASE 

Something must be left to chance ; nothing is 
sure in a sea fight beyond all others. Shots will 
carry away the masts 1 and yards of friends as well 
as foes ; but I look with confidence to a victory 
before the van of the enemy could succour their 
rear ; 2 and then the British fleet would most of 
them be ready to receive their twenty sail of the 
line, or to pursue them, should they endeavour to 
make off. 

If the van of the enemy tacks, the captured 
ships must run to leeward of the British fleet ; if 
the enemy wears, the British must place themselves 
between the enemy and the captured and disabled 
British ships ; and should the enemy close, I have 
no fears as to the result. 

The second in command will, in all possible 
things, direct the movements of his line, by keeping 
them as compact as the nature of the circumstances 
will admit. Captains are to look to their particular 
line as their rallying point. But in case signals 
can neither be seen nor perfectly understood, no 
captain can do very wrong if he places his ship 
alongside that of an enemy. 

Of the intended attack from to-windward, the 
enemy in the line of battle ready to attack. 



1 The Barham copy reads ' a mast' 

2 Originally 'friends.' Nicolas. 

3 This is the only diagram found in either of Nelson's memo- 
randa. It is not in the Barham copy. 



NELSON, 1805 319 

The divisions of the British fleet * will be 
brought nearly within gunshot of the enemy's 
centre. The signal will most probably be made 
for the lee line to bear up together, to set all their 
sails, even steering sails " in order to get as quickly 
as possible to the enemy's line and to cut through, 
beginning from the twelfth ship from the enemy's 
rear. 3 Some ships may not get through their exact 
place ; but they will always be at hand to assist 
their friends ; and if any are thrown round the rear 
of the enemy, they will effectually complete the busi- 
ness of twelve sail of the enemy. 4 

Should the enemy wear together, or bear up 
and sail large, still the twelve ships, composing in 
the first position the enemy's rear, are to be the 
object of attack of the lee line, unless otherwise 
directed by the commander-in-chief ; which is 
scarcely to be expected, as the entire management 
of the lee line, after the intention of the com- 
mander-in-chief is signified, is intended to be left 
to the judgment of the admiral commanding that 
line. 

The remainder of the enemy's fleet, thirty-four 

1 Nelson presumably means the two main divisions as distin- 
guished from the 'advanced squadron.' This distinction is 
general in the correspondence of his officers and accords with the 
arrangement as shown in the diagram. The Barham copy has 
1 division ' in the singular, as though Nelson intended to specify 
one division only. It is probably a copyist's error. 

2 In the upper margin of the paper, and referred to by Lord 
Nelson as in the text ' Vide instructions for signal yellow with 
blue fly. Page 1 7, Eighth Flag, Signal Book, with reference to 
Appendix.' Nicolas. Steering-sail, according to Admiral Smyth 
(Sailors' Word- Book, p. 654), was ' an incorrect name for a stud- 
ding sail,' but it seems to have been in common use in Nelson's 
time. 

3 The Barham copy reads 'their rear.' 

4 The Barham copy ends here. The second sheet has not 
been found. 



320 THE LAST PHASE 

sail, are to be left to the management of the com- 
mander-in-chief, who will endeavour K take care 
that the movements of the second in command 
are as little interrupted as possible. 

NELSON AND BRONTE". 1 

1 The signature does not occur to the draught, but was affixed 
to the originals issued to the admirals and captains of the fleet. 
To the copy signed by Lord Nelson, and delivered to Captain 
George Hope, of the Defence, was added : ' N.B. When the 
Defence quits the fleet for England you are to return this secret 
memorandum to the Victory ' Captain Hope wrote on that 
paper : ' It was agreeable to these instructions that Lord Nelson 
attacked the combined fleets of France and Spain off Cape Tra- 
falgar on the aist of October, 1805, they having thirty-three of the 
line and we twenty-seven.' Nicolas. 

The injunction to return the memorandum may well have 
been added to all copies issued, and this may account for their 
general disappearance. 



INSTRUCTIONS AFTER TRAFALGAR 

INTRODUCTORY 

THE various tactical memoranda issued after 
Trafalgar by flag officers in command of fleets are 
amongst the most interesting of the whole series. 
The unsettled state of opinion which they display as 
the result of Nelson's memorandum is very remark- 
able ; for with one exception they seem to show 
that the great tactical principles it contained had 
been generally misunderstood to a surprising extent. 
The failure to fathom its meaning is to be accounted 
for largely by the lack of theoretical training, which 
made the science of tactics, as distinguished from 
its practice, a sealed book to the majority of British 
officers. But the trouble was certainly intensified 
by the fact as contemporary naval literature shows 
that by Nelson's success and death the memo- 
randum became consecrated into a kind of sacred 
document, which it was almost sacrilege to discuss. 
The violent polemics of such men as James, the 
naval chronicler, made it appear profanity so much 
as to consider whether Nelson's attack differed in 
the least from his intended plan, and anyone who 
ventured to examine the question in the light of 
general principles was likely to be shouted down as 
a presumptuous heretic. Venial as was this attitude 
of adulation under all the circumstances, it had a 
most evil influence on the service. The last word 
seemed to have been said on tactics ; and oblivious 



322 THE LAST PHASE 

of the fact that it is a subject on which the last word 
can never be spoken, and that the enemy was certain 
to learn from Nelson's practice as well as ourselves, 
admirals were content to produce a colourable 
imitation of his memorandum, and everyone was 
satisfied not to look ahead any further. To no one 
did it occur to consider how the new method of 
attack was to be applied if the enemy adopted 
Nelson's formation. They simply assumed an end- 
less succession of Trafalgars. 

The first outcome of this attitude of mind is an 
' Order of Battle and Sailing,' accompanied by certain 
instructions, issued by Admiral Gambier from the 
Prince of Wales in Yarmouth Roads, on July 23, 
1807, when he was about to sail to seize the Danish 
fleet. 1 His force consisted of thirty of the line, and 
its organisation and stations of flag officers were as 
follows : 

VAN SQUADRON 

Division i. Commodore Hood (No. i in line). 
Division 2. Vice-Admiral Stanhope (No. 6). 

CENTRE DIVISION 

Division i.) Admiral Gambier (No. 15). 
Division 2.) 

REAR SQUADRON 

Division i. Rear- Admiral Essington (No. 25). 
Division 2. Commodore Keats (No. 30). 

Gambier's fleet was thus organised in three 
equal squadrons (the centre one called ' the centre 
division') and six equal subdivisions. The com- 
mander-in-chief was in the centre and had no other 

1 For this document the Society is indebted to Commander 
G. P. W. Hope, R.N., who has kindly placed it at my disposal. 



BALTIC FLEET, 1807 323 

flag in his division. Similarly each junior flag 
officer was in the centre of his squadron and led 
his subdivision, but he had a commodore to lead 
his other subdivision. These two commodores also 
led the fleet on either tack. So far all is plain, but 
when we endeavour to understand by the appended 
instruction what battle formation Gambier intended 
by his elaborate organisation it is very baffling. 
Possibly we have not got the instruction exactly as 
Gambier wrote it ; but as it stands it is confused 
past all understanding, and no conceivable battle 
formation can be constructed from it. All we can 
say for certain is that he evidently believed he was 
adopting the principles of Trafalgar, and perhaps 
going beyond them. The sailing order is to be also 
the battle order, but whether in two columns or 
three is not clear. Independent control of divisions 
and squadrons is also there, and even the commo- 
dores are to control their own subdivisions ' subject 
to the general direction ' of their squadronal com- 
manders, but whether the formation was intended to 
follow that of Nelson the instruction entirely fails 
to disclose. 

The next is a tactical memorandum or general 
order, issued by Lord Collingwood for the Mediter- 
ranean fleet in 1808, printed in Mr. Newnham 
Collingwood's Correspondence of Lord Collingwood. 
No order of battle is given ; but two years later, in 
issuing an additional instruction, he refers to his 
general order as still in force. In this case we 
have the battle order, and it consists of twenty of 
the line in two equal columns, with the commander- 
in-chief and his second in command, second in their 
respective divisions. There were no other flag 
officers in the fleet. 1 The memorandum which is 

1 For this document the Society is again indebted to Com- 
mander Hope, R.N. 

Y 2 



3 2 4 THE LAST PHASE 

printed below will be seen to be an obvious 
imitation of Nelson's, and nothing can impress us 
more deeply with the merit of Nelson's work than 
to compare it with Collingwood's. Like Nelson, 
Collingwood begins with introductory remarks 
emphasising the importance of ' a prompt and 
immediate attack ' and independent divisional con- 
trol ; and in order to remedy certain errors of 
Trafalgar, he insists in addition on close order being 
kept throughout the night and the strictest attention 
being paid to divisional signals, thinking no doubt 
how slowly the rear ships at Trafalgar had struggled 
into action, and how his signal for line of bearing 
had been practically ignored. Then, after stating 
broadly that he means with the van or weather 
division to attack the van of the enemy, while 
the lee or larboard division simultaneously attacks 
the rear, he differentiates like Nelson between a 
weather and a lee attack. For the attack from to- 
windward he directs the two divisions to run down 
in line abreast in such a way that they will come 
into action together in a line parallel to the enemy ; 
but, whatever he intended, nothing is said about 
concentrating on any part of the enemy, or about 
breaking the line in all parts or otherwise. 

The attack from to-leeward is to be made per- 
pendicularly in line ahead. In this formation his 
own (the weather column) is to break the line, 
so as to cut off the van quarter of the enemy's line 
from the other three quarters, and the lee column is 
to sever this part of the enemy's line a few ships in 
rear of their centre. So soon as the leading ships 
have passed through and so weathered the enemy, 
they are to keep away and lead down his line so 
as to engage the rear three fourths to windward. 
This is of course practically identical with the 
lee attack of Nelson's memorandum. The only 



MEDITERRANEAN FLEET, 1808 325 

addition is the course that is to be taken after 
breaking the line. One cannot help wondering how 
far the leading ships after passing the line would 
have been able to lead down it before they were 
disabled, but the addition is interesting as the first 
known direction as to what was to be done after 
breaking the line in line ahead after Rodney's 
method. Seeing the grave and obvious dangers of 
the movement it is natural that, like Nelson, 
Collingwood hoped not to be forced to make it; 
what he desired was a simple engagement on similar 
tacks. His ' intended attack ' as in Nelson's case 
is clearly that from to-windward. 

Turning then again to the windward attack, we 
see at once its superficial resemblance to Nelson's, 
but so entirely superficial is it that it is impossible to 
believe Collingwood ever penetrated the subtleties 
of his great chiefs design. The dual organisation is 
there and the independent divisional control, but 
nothing else. The advance squadron has gone, and 
with it all trace of a containing movement. There 
is not even the feint the mystification of the van. 
Concentration too has gone, and instead of the sound 
main attack on the rear, he is most concerned with 
attacking the van. True, he may have meant what 
Nelson meant, but if he had really grasped his fine 
intention he surely must have let some hint of it 
escape him in his memorandum. But for the wind- 
ward attack at least there is no trace of these things, 
and Nelson's masterly conception sinks in Col- 
lingwood's hands into a mere device for expediting 
the old parallel attack in single line that is to say, 
the line is to be formed in bearing down instead of 
waiting to bear down till the line was complete. 
We can only conclude, then, that both Collingwood 
and Gambier could see nothing in the ' Nelson 
touch ' but the swift attack, the dual organisation, 
and independent divisional control. 



326 THE LAST PHASE 

There is a third document, however, which con- 
firms us in the impression already formed that there 
were officers who saw more deeply. It is a tactical 
memorandum issued by Admiral the Hon. Sir 
Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane, Bart, G.C.B., 
uncle of the more famous Earl of Dundonald. 
It is printed by Sir Charles Ekin, in his Naval 
Battles, from a paper which he found at the end of 
a book in his possession containing ' Additional 
Signals, Instructions, &c.,' issued by Sir A. I. Coch- 
rane to the squadron under his command upon the 
Leeward Islands station.' He commanded in chief 
on this station from 1 805 to 1814, but appears never 
to have been directly under Nelson's influence 
except for a few weeks, when Nelson came out 
in pursuit of Villeneuve and attached him to his 
squadron. He was rather one of Rodney's men, 
under whom he had served in his last campaigns, 
and this may explain the special note of his tactical 
system. His partiality for Rodney's manoeuvre 
is obvious, and the interesting feature of his plan 
of attack is the manner in which he grafts it on 
Nelson's system of mutually supporting squadrons. 
He does not even shrink from a very free use 
of doubling which his old chiefs system entailed, 
and he provides a special signal of his own for 
directing the execution of the discarded manoeuvre. 
The ' explanation ' of another of his new signals 
for running aboard an enemy ' so as to disable 
her from getting away ' is also worthy of remark, 
as a recognition of Nelson's favourite practice dis- 
approved by Collingwood. 

Yet, although we see throughout the marks of 
the true ' Nelson touch,' Cochrane's memorandum 
bears signs of having been largely founded on an inde- 
pendent study of tactical theory.. His obligations to 
Clerk of Eldin are obvious. There are passages in 



WEST INDIES, 1805-14 327 

the document which seem as though they must have 
been written with the Essay on Naval Tactics at his 
elbow, while his expression ' an attack by forcing 
the fleet from to-leeward ' is directly borrowed from 
Morogues' ' Forcer 1'ennemi au combat e"tant sous 
le vent.' On the other hand certain movements are 
entirely his own, such as his excellent device of 
inverting the line after passing through the enemy's 
fleet, a great improvement on Collingwood's method 
of leading down it in normal order. 

The point is of some interest, for although 
Cochrane's memorandum is over-elaborate and 
smells of the lamp, yet it seems clear that his 
theoretical knowledge made him understand Nelson's 
principles far better than most of the men who had 
actually fought at Trafalgar and had had the ad- 
vantage of Nelson's own explanations. All indeed 
that Cochrane's memorandum seems to lack is that 
rare simplicity and abstraction which only the highest 
genius can achieve. 



ADMIRAL GAMBIER, 1807. 
[MS. of Commander Hope, R.N. Copy.] 

Order q/ Battle and Sailing^ 

The respective flag officers will have the 
immediate direction of the division in which their 
ships are placed, subject to the general direction 
of the admiral commanding the squadron to which 
they belong. 

The ships in order of battle and sailing are to 
keep at the distance of two cables' length from and 

1 For the actual order to which the instructions are appended 
see Introductory Note, supra, p. 322. 



328 THE LAST PHASE 

in the wake of each other, increasing that distance 
according to the state of the weather. 1 

The leading ship of the starboard division is to 
keep the admiral two points on her weather bow. 
The leading ship of the lee division is when sailing 
on a wind to keep the leader of the weather column 
two points before her beam ; when sailing large, 
abreast of her. 

(Signed) J. GAMBIER. 
Prince of Wales, Yarmouth Roads : 
23 July, 1807. 



LORD COLLING WOOD, i8o8-IO. 
[Correspondence of Colling wood, p. 359.] 

From every account received of the enemy it is 
expected they may very soon be met with on their 
way from Corfu and Tarentum, and success depends 
on a prompt and immediate attack upon them. In 
order to which it will be necessary that the greatest 
care be taken to keep the closest order in the respec- 
tive columns during the night which the state of the 
weather will allow, and that the columns be kept at 
such a sufficient distance apart as will leave room 
for tacking or other movements, so that in the 
event of calm or shift of wind no embarrassment 
may be caused. 

Should the enemy be found formed in order of 
battle with his whole force, I shall notwithstanding 
probably not make the signal to form the line of 
battle ; but, keeping in the closest order, with the 
van squadron attack the van of the enemy, while 
the commander of the lee division takes the proper 
measures, and makes to the ships of his division the 

1 The normal distance was then a cable and a half. See post, 
p. 330 note. 



COLLINGWOOD, 1808 329 

necessary signals for commencing the action with 
the enemy's rear, as nearly as possible at the same 
time that the van begins. Of his signals therefore 
the captains of that division will be particularly 
watchful. 

If the squadron has to run to leeward to close 
with the enemy, the signal will be made to alter the 
course together, the van division keeping a point or 
two more away than the lee, the latter carrying less 
sail ; and when the fleet draws near the enemy both 
columns are to preserve a line as nearly parallel to 
the hostile fleet as they can. 

In standing up to the enemy from the leeward 
upon a contrary tack the lee line is to press sail, so 
that the leading ship of that line may be two or 
three points before the beam of the leading ship 
of the weather line, which will bring them to action 
nearly at the same period. 

The leading ship of the weather column will en- 
deavour to pass through the enemy's line, should 
the weather be such as to make that practicable, at 
one fourth from the van, whatever number of ships 
their line may be composed of. The lee division will 
pass through at a ship or two astern of their centre, 
and whenever a ship has weathered the enemy it 
will be found necessary to shorten sail as much as 
possible for her second astern to close with her, and 
to keep away, steering in a line parallel to the 
enemy's and engaging them on their weather side. 

A movement of this kind may be necessary, but, 
considering the difficulty of altering the position 
of the fleet during the time of combat, every en- 
deavour will be made to commence battle with the 
enemy on the same tack they are ; and I have only 
to recommend and direct that they be fought 
with at the nearest distance possible, in which 
getting on board of them may be avoided, which is 



330 THE LAST PHASE 

alway disadvantageous to us, except when they are 
flying. 1 



Additional Instruction? 

When the signal No. 43 or 44 3 is made to form 
the order, the fleet is to form in one line, the rear 
shortening sail to allow the van to take their station 
ahead. If such signal should not be made the cap- 
tains are referred to the general order of 23 March, 
1808. 

COLLINGWOOD. 

Villede Paris, 4th January, 1810. 



SIR ALEXANDER COCHRANE, 1805-1814. 
[Printed in Ekin's Naval Battles, pp. 394 seq. (First edit.)] 

Modes of Attack from the Windward, &c. 

When an attack is intended to be made upon 
the enemy's rear, so as to endeavour to cut off a 
certain number of ships from that part of their fleet, 
the same will be made known by signal No. 27, and 
the numeral signal which accompanies it will point 
out the headmost of the enemy's ships that is to be 
attacked, counting always from the van, as stated in 

1 The remaining clauses of the memorandum do not relate to 
tactics. 

2 From the original in the possession of Commander Hope, 
R.N. It is attached to an order of battle in two columns. See 
supra, p. 323. 

3 Sig. 43 : ' Form line of battle in open order.' Sig. 44 : 
1 Form line of battle in close order at about a cable and a half 
distant' ; with a white pennant, ' form on weather column ' ; with a 
blue pennant, ' form on lee column.' 



A. COCHRANE 331 

page 1 60, Article 31 (Instructions). 1 The signal 
will afterwards be made for the division intended to 
make the attack, or the same will be signified by the 
ship's pennants, and the pennants of the ship in 
that division which is to begin the attack, with 
the number of the ship to be first attacked in the 
enemy's line. Should it be intended that the 
leading ship in the division is to attack the rear ship 
of the enemy, she must bear up, so as to get upon 
the weather quarter of that ship ; the ships following 
her in the line will pass in succession on her weather 
quarter, giving their fire to the ship she is engaged 
with ; and so on in succession until they have closed 
with the headmost ship intended to be attacked. 

The ships in reserve, who have no opponents, 
will break through the enemy's line ahead of this 
ship, so as to cut off the ships engaged from the rest 
of the enemy's fleet. 

When it is intended that the rear ship of the 
division shall attack the rear ship of the enemy's 
line, that ship's pennants will be shown ; the rest of 
the ships in the division will invert their order, 
shortening sail until they can in succession follow 
the rear ship, giving their fire to the enemy's ships 
in like manner as above stated ; and the reserve 
ships will cut through the enemy's line as already 
mentioned. 

When this mode of attack is intended to be put 
in force, the other divisions of the fleet, whether in 
order of sailing or battle, will keep to windward just 
out of gun-shot, so as to be ready to support the 
rear, and prevent the van and centre of the enemy 
from doubling upon them. This manoeuvre, if 
properly executed, may force the enemy to abandon 
the ships on his rear, or submit to be brought to 

1 I.e. the Instructions of 1799, supra, p. 278. For Signal 27 
see p. 255. 



332 THE LAST PHASE 

action on equal terms, which is difficult to be 
obtained when the attack is made from to-wind- 
ward. 

When the fleet is to leeward, and the command- 
ing officer intends to cut through the enemy's line, 
the number of the ship in their line where the 
attempt is to be made will be shown as already 
stated. 

If the ships after passing the enemy's line are 
to tack, and double upon the enemy's ships ahead, 
the same will be made known by a blue pennant 
over the Signal 27 ; if not they are to bear up and 
run to the enemy's line to windward, engaging 
the ship they first meet with ; each succeeding 
ship giving her fire, and passing on to the next 
in the rear. The ships destined to attack the 
enemy's rear will be pointed out by the number 
of the last ship in the line that is to make this 
movement, or the pennants of that ship will be 
shown ; but, should no signal be made, it is to be 
understood that the number of ships to bear up is 
equal in number to the enemy's ships that have 
been cut off; the succeeding ships will attack and 
pursue the van of the enemy, or form, should it be 
necessary to prevent the enemy's van from passing 
round the rear of the fleet to relieve or join their 
cut-off ships. 

If it is intended that the ships following those 
destined to engage the enemy's rear to windward 
shall bear up, and prevent the part of their rear 
which has been cut off from escaping to leeward, 
the same will be made known by a red pennant 
being hoisted over the Signal 2I, 1 and the number 
of ships so ordered will be shown by numeral 
signals or pennants. If from the centre division, 
a white pennant will be hoisted over the signal. 
1 ' To attack, on bearing indicated.' 



SIR A. COCHRANE 333 

If the rear ships are to perform this service by 
bearing up, the same will be made known by a red 
pennant under. The numeral signal or pennants, 
counting always from the van, will show the head- 
most ship to proceed on this service. 1 The ships 
not directed by those signals are to form in close 
order, to cover the ships engaged from the rest of 
the enemy's fleet. 

When the enemy's ships are to be engaged 
by both van and centre, the rear will keep their 
wind, to cover the ships engaged from the enemy 
to windward, as circumstances may require. 

When the signal shall be made to cut through 
the enemy's van from to-leeward, the same will be 
made known by Signal 27, &c. In this case, if the 
headmost ships are to tack and double upon the 
enemy's van, engaging their ships in succession as 
they get up, the blue pennant will be shown as 
already stated, and the numeral signal pointing 
out the last ship from the van which is to tack, 
which in general will be equal in number to the 
enemy's ships cut through. The rest of the ships 
will be prepared to act as the occasion may require, 
either by bearing up and attacking the enemy's 
centre and rear, or tacking or wearing to cut off 
the van of the enemy from passing round the rear 
of the fleet to rejoin their centre. And on this 
service, it is probable, should the enemy's ships bear 
up, that some of the rear ships will be employed 
the signal No. 21 will be made accompanied with 
the number or pennants of the headmost ship 
upon which she, with the ships in her rear, will 
proceed to the attack of the enemy. 

When an attack is likely to be made by an 

1 In Ekin's text the punctuation of this sentence is obviously 
wrong and destroys the sense. It should accord, as I have ven- 
tured to amend it, with that of the previous paragraph. 



334 THE LAST PHASE 

enemy's squadron, by forcing the fleet from to- 
leeward, Signal 109 will be made with a blue pen- 
nant where best seen ; 1 upon which each ship will 
luff up upon the weather quarter of her second 
ahead, so as to leave no opening for the leading 
ship of the enemy to pass through : this movement 
will expose them to the collected fire of all that 
part of the fleet they intended to force. 2 

1 Signal 109, 'To close nearer the ship or ships indicated.' 

2 Sir Charles Ekin adds, ' In the same work he has also a 
signal (No. 785) under the head " Enemy " to " Lay on board," 
with the following observation : 

' " N.B. This signal is not meant that your people should 
board the enemy unless you should find advantage by so doing ; 
but it is that you should run your ship on board the enemy, so 
as to disable her from getting away." ' 



THE SIGNAL BOOK OF 1816 

IT has been often remarked that Nelson founded 
no school of tactics, and the instructions which 
were issued with the new Signal Book immediately 
after the war entirely endorse the remark. They 
can be called nothing else but reactionary. Nelson's 
drastic attempt to break up the old rigid forma- 
tion into active divisions independently commanded 
seems to have come to nothing, and the new 
instructions are based with almost all the old 
pedantry on the single line of battle. Of anything 
like mutually supporting movements there is only a 
single trace. It is in Article XIV., and that is only 
a resurrection of the time-honoured corps de reserve, 
formed of superfluous ships after your line has been 
equalised with that of a numerically inferior enemy. 
The whole document, in fact, is a consecration of 
the fetters which had been forged in the worst days 
of the seventeenth century, and which Nelson had 
so resolutely set himself to break. 

The new Signal Book in which the instructions 
appear was founded on the code elaborated by 
Sir Home Riggs Popham, but there is nothing 
to show whether or not he was the author of the 
instructions. He was an officer of high scientific 
attainments, but although he had won considerable 
distinction during the war, his service had been 
entirely of an amphibious character in connection 
with military operations ashore, and he had never 



336 THE LAST PHASE 

seen a fleet action at sea. He reached flag rank in 
1814, and was one of the men who received a 
K.C.B. on the reconstitution of the order in 1815. 
Of the naval lords serving with Lord Melville at 
the time none can show a career or a reputation 
which would lead us to expect from them anything 
but the colourless instructions they produced. The 
controlling influence was undoubtedly Lord Keith. 
The doyen of the active list, and in command of the 
Channel Fleet till he retired after the peace of 1815, 
he was all-powerful as a naval authority, and his 
flag captain, Sir Graham Moore, had just been given 
a seat on the board. A devout pupil of St. Vincent 
and Howe, correct rather than brilliant, Keith 
represented the old tradition, and notwithstanding 
the patience with which he had borne Nelson's va- 
garies and insubordination, the antipathy between 
the two men was never disguised. However 
generously Keith appreciated Nelson's genius, he 
can only have regarded his methods as an evil 
influence in the service for ordinary men, nor can 
there be much doubt that his apprehensions had a 
good deal to justify them. 

The general failure to grasp the whole of 
Nelson's tactical principles was not the only trouble. 
There are signs that during the later years of the 
war a very dangerous misunderstanding of his 
teaching had been growing up in the service. In 
days when there was practically no higher instruc- 
tion in the theory of tactics, it was easy for officers 
to forget how much prolonged and patient study 
had enabled Nelson to handle his fleets with the 
freedom he did ; and the tendency was to believe 
that his successes could be indefinitely repeated 
by mere daring and vehemence of attack. The 
seed was sown immediately after the battle and 
by Collingwood himself. ' It was a severe action,' 



THE 'GO AT 'EM' HERESY 337 

he wrote to Admiral Parker on November i, 'no 
dodging or manoeuvring.' And again on Decem- 
ber 1 6, to Admiral Pasley, ' Lord Nelson determined 
to substitute for exact order an impetuous attack in 
two distinct bodies.' Collingwood of course with all 
his limitations knew well enough it was not a mere 
absence of manoeuvring that had won the victory. 
In the same letter he had said that although Nelson 
succeeded, as it were, by enchantment, it was all the 
effect of system and nice combination.' Yet such 
phrases as he and others employed to describe the 
headlong attack, taken from their context and re- 
peated from mouth to mouth, would soon have raised 
a false impression that many men were only too 
ready to receive. So the seed must have grown, till 
we find the fruit in Lord Dundonald's oft-quoted 
phrase, ' Never mind manoeuvres : always go at 
them.' So it was that Nelson's teaching had crystal- 
lised in his mind and in the mind perhaps of half the 
service. The phrase is obviously a degradation of 
the opening enunciations in Nelson's memoranda, a 
degradation due to time, to superficial study, and 
the contemptuous confidence of years of undisputed 
mastery at sea. 

The conditions which brought about this attitude 
to tactics are clearly seen in the way others saw us. 
Shortly after Trafalgar a veteran French officer of 
the war of American Independence wrote some 
Reflections on the battle, which contain much to the 
point. ' It is a noteworthy thing,' he says in deal- 
ing with the defects of the single-line formation, ' that 
the English, who formerly used to employ all the 
resources of tactics against our fleets, now hardly use 
them at all, since our scientific tacticians have dis- 
appeared. It may almost be said that they no longer 
have any regular order of sailing or battle ; they 
attack our ships of the line just as they used to 

z 



( 



338 THE LAST PHASE 

attack a convoy.' * But here the old tactician was 
not holding up English methods as an example. 
He was citing them to show to what easy victories 
a navy exposed itself in which, by neglect of scientific 
study and alert observation, tactics had sunk into a 
mere senile formula. 'They know,' he continues, 
' that we are in no state to oppose them with well- 
combined movements so as to profit by the kind of 
disorder which is the natural result of this kind of 
attack. They know if they throw their attack on 
one part of a much extended line, that part is soon 
destroyed.' Thus he arrives at two fundamental 
laws : * I, That our system of a long line of battle is 
worthless in face of an enemy who attacks with his 
ships formed in groups (rtunis en pelotons), and told 
off to engage a small number of ships at different 
points in our line. 2. That the only tactical system 
to oppose to theirs is to have at least a double line, 
with reserve squadrons on the wings stationed in 
such a manner as to bear down most easily upon the 
points too vigorously attacked.' The whole of his 
far-sighted paper is in fact an admirable study of the 
conditions under which impetuous attacks and elabo- 
rate combinations are respectively called for. But 
from both points of view the single line for a large 
fleet is emphatically condemned, while in our instruc- 
tions of 1816 not a hint of its weakness appears. 
They resume practically the same standpoint which 
the Duke of York had reached a century and a half 
before. 

Spanish tacticians seem also to have shared the 
opinion that Trafalgar had really done nothing to 
dethrone the line. One of the highest reputation, on 
December 17, 1805, had sent to his government a 
thoughtful criticism of the action, and his view of 

1 Mathieu-Dumas, Precis des Evtnements Militaires : Pieces 
Justificative*, vol. xiv. p. 408. 



TACTICAL DECADENCE 339 

Nelson's attack was this: 'Nothing/ he says, 'is 
more seamanlike or better tactics than for a fleet 
which is well to windward of another to bear down 
upon it in separate columns, and deploy at gun-shot 
from the enemy into a line which, as it comes into 
action, will inflict at least as much damage upon 
them as it is likely to suffer. But Admiral Nelson 
did not deploy his columns at gun-shot from our 
line, but ran up within pistol-shot and broke through 
it, so as to reduce the battle to a series of single- 
ship actions. It was a manoeuvre in which I do not 
think he will find many imitators. Where two 
fleets are equally well trained, that which attacks 
in this manner must be defeated.' 1 

So it was our enemies rightly read the lesson 
of Trafalgar. The false deductions therefore which 
grew up in our own service are all the more extra- 
ordinary, even as we find them in the new instruc- 
tions and the current talk of the quarter-deck. But 
this is not the worst. It is not till we turn to the 
Signal Book itself that we get a full impression of 
the extent to which tactical thought had degenerated 
and Nelson's seed had been choked. The move- 
ments and formations for which signals are provided 
are stubbornly on the old lines of 1799. The in- 
fluence of Nelson, however, is seen in two places. 
The first is a group of signals for ' attacking the 
enemy at anchor by passing either outside them or 
between them and the land,' and for ' anchoring and 
engaging either within or outside the enemy.' 
Here we have a rational embodiment of the 
experience of the Nile. The second is a similar 
attempt to embody the teaching of Trafalgar, and 
the way it is done finally confirms the failure to 
understand what Nelson meant. So extraordinary 

1 Fernandez Duro, Armada Espanola, viii. 353. 

z 2 



340 THE LAST PHASE 

is the signification of the signal and its explanatory 
note that it must be given in full. 

' Signal. Cut the enemy's line in the order of 
sailing in two columns. 

' Explanatory Note. The admiral will make 
known what number of ships from the van ship of 
the enemy the weather division is to break through 
the enemy's line, and the same from the rear at 
which the lee division is to break through their 
line. 

' To execute this signal the fleet is to form in the 
order of sailing in two columns, should it not be so 
formed already ; the leader of each column steering 
down for the position pointed out where he is to cut 
through the enemy's line. 

' If the admiral wishes any particular conduct to 
be pursued by the leader of the division, in which 
he happens not to be, after the line is broken, he 
will of course point it out. If he does not it is to 
be considered that the lee division after breaking 
through the line is left to its commander. 

' In performing this evolution the second astern 
of the leader in each column is to pass through the 
line astern of the ship next ahead [sic] of where her 
leader broke through, and so on in succession, break- 
ing through all parts of the enemy's line ahead [sic] 
of their leaders as described in the plate.' 

The plate represents the two columns bearing 
down to attack in a strictly formed line ahead, and the 
ships, after the leaders have cut through, altering 
course each for its proper interval in the enemy's 
line, and the whole then engaging from to-leeward. 
The note proceeds : 

' By this arrangement no ship will have to pass 
the whole of the enemy's line. If however, in con- 
sequence of any circumstance, the rear ships should 
not be able to cut through in their assigned places, 



THE TRAFALGAR SIGNAL, 1816 341 

the captains of those ships, as well as of the ships 
that are deprived of opponents in the enemy's line 
by this mode of attack, are to act to the best of their 
judgment for the destruction of the enemy, unless 
a disposition to the contrary has been previously 
made. 

1 It will be seen that by breaking the line in this 
order the enemy's van ships will not be able to assist 
either their centre or rear without tacking or wear- 
ing for that purpose/ 

This from cover to cover of the Signal Book is 
the sole trace to be found of the great principles 
for which Nelson had lived and died. That Lord 
Keith or anyone else could have believed that it 
adequately represented the teaching of Trafalgar is 
almost incredible. 

To begin with, the wording of the note contains 
an inexplicable blunder. The last paragraph shows 
clearly that the idea of the signal is an attack on the 
rear and centre, as at Trafalgar ; yet the ships of each 
column as they come successively into action are 
told to engage the enemy's ship ahead Q{ the point 
where their leaders broke through, a movement 
which would resolve itself into an attack on their 
centre and van, and leave the rear free to come into 
immediate action with an overwhelming concentra- 
tion on the lee division. 

That so grave an error should have been per- 
mitted to pass into the Signal Book is bad enough, 
but that such a signal even if it had been correctly 
worded should stand for Nelson's last word to the 
service is almost beyond belief. The final out- 
come of Nelson's genius for tactics lay of course in 
his memorandum, and not in the form of attack 
he actually adopted. Yet this remarkable signal 
ignores the whole principle of the memorandum. 
The fundamental ideas of concentration and con- 



342 THE LAST PHASE 

taining by independent squadrons are wholly missed ; 
and not only this. It distorts Nelson's lee attack 
into a weather attack, and holds up for imitation 
every vice of the reckless movement in spite of which 
Nelson had triumphed. Not a word is said of its 
dangers, not a word of the exceptional circumstances 
that alone could justify it, not a word of how easily 
the tables could be turned upon a man who a second 
time dared to fling to the winds every principle of 
his art. It is the last word of British sailing tactics, 
and surely nothing in their whole history, not even 
in the worst days of the old Fighting Instructions, 
so staggers us with its lack of tactical sense. 1 



THE INSTRUCTIONS OF 1816. 
[Signal Book, United Service Institution.] 

Instructions relating to the Line of Battle and the 
Conduct of the Fleet preparatory to their engaging 
and when engaged with an enemy. 

I . The chief purposes for which a fleet is formed 
in line of battle are, that the ships may be able to 
assist and support each other in action ; that they 
may not be exposed to the fire of the enemy's ships 
greater in number than themselves, and that every 
ship may be able to fire on the enemy without risk 
of firing into the ships of her own fleet. 

1 The anonymous veteran of the old French navy, cited by 
Mathieu-Dumas, explains exactly how Villeneuve might have 
turned the tables on Nelson by forming two lines himself. ' There 
is,' he concludes, ' no known precedent of a defensive formation 
in two lines ; but I will venture to assert that if Admiral Villeneuve 
had doubled his line at the moment he saw Nelson meant to 
attack him in two lines, that admiral would never have had the 
imprudence of making such an attack.' Evdnements Militaires, 
xiv. 411. 



INSTRUCTIONS OF 1816 343 

II. On whichever tack the fleet may be sailing, 
when the line of battle is formed, the van squadron 
is to form the van, the centre squadron the centre, 
and the rear squadron the rear of the line, unless 
some other arrangement be pointed out by signal. 
But if a change of wind, or tacking, or wearing, or 
any other circumstance, should alter the order in 
which the line of battle was formed, the squadrons 
are to remain in the stations in which they may so 
happen to be placed, till the admiral shall direct 
them to take others. 

III. When the signal is made for the fleet to 
form the line of battle, each flag officer and captain 
is to get into his station as expeditiously as possible ; 
and to keep in close order, if not otherwise directed, 
and under a proportion of sail suited to that carried 
by the admiral, or by the senior flag officer remain- 
ing in the line, when the admiral has signified his 
intention to quit it. 

IV. In forming the line of battle, each ship 
should haul up a little to windward rather than to 
leeward of her second ahead, as a ship a little to 
leeward will find great difficulty in getting into her 
station, if it should be necessary to keep the line 
quite close to the wind ; and it may also be better 
to form at a distance a little greater, rather than 
smaller, than the prescribed distance, as it is easier 
to close the line than to extend it. 

V. If the admiral should haul out of the line, 
the ships astern of him are to close up to fill the 
vacancy he has made, and the line is to continue on 
its course, and to act in the same manner as if the 
admiral had no* left it. All signals made to the 
centre will be addressed to the senior officer remain- 
ing in it, who, during the absence of the admiral, is 
to be considered as the commander of the centre 
squadron. 



344 THE LAST PHASE 

VI. The repeating frigates are to be abreast of 
the commanders of the squadrons to which they 
belong, and the fireships and frigates to windward 
of their squadrons, if no particular station be as- 
signed to them. 

VII. When the signal to form a line of bearing 
for either tack is made, the ships (whatever course 
they may be directed to steer) are to place them- 
selves in such a manner that, if they were to haul to 
the wind together on the tack for which the line of 
bearing is formed, they would immediately form a 
line of battle on that tack. To do this, every ship 
must bring the ship which would be her second 
ahead, if the line of battle were formed, to bear on 
that point of the compass on which the line of battle 
would sail, viz. on that point of the compass which 
is six points from the direction of the wind. 

As the intention of a line of bearing is to keep 
the fleet ready to form suddenly a line of battle, the 
position of the division or squadron flags, shown, 
with the signals for such a line, will refer to the 
forming the line of battle ; that division or squadron 
whose flag is ^lppermosl (without considering whether 
it do or do not form the van of the line of bearing) 
is to place itself in that station which would become 
the van if the fleet should haul to the wind, and 
form the line of battle ; and the division whose flag 
is undermost is to place itself in that station in which 
it would become the rear if by hauling to the wind 
the line of battle should be formed. 

VIII. When a line of bearing has been formed 
the ships are to preserve their relative bearing from 
each other, whenever they are directed to alter their 
course together ; but if they are directed to alter their 
course in succession, as the line of bearing would 
by that circumstance be destroyed, it is to be no 
longer attended to. 



INSTRUCTIONS OF 1816 345 

IX. If after having made the signal to prepare to 
form the line of battle, or either line of bearing, the 
admiral, keeping the preparative flag flying, should 
make several signals in succession to point out the 
manner in which the line is to be formed, those sig- 
nals are to be carefully written down, that they may 
be carried into execution, when the signal for the 
line is hoisted again. They are to be executed in 
the order in which they are made, excepting such 
as the admiral may annul previously to his again 
hoisting the signal for the line. 

X. If the wind should come forward when the 
fleet is formed in line of battle, or is sailing by the 
wind on a line of bearing, the leading ship is to 
steer seven points from the wind, and every ship is 
to haul as close to the wind as possible till she has 
got into the wake of the leading ship, or till she 
shall have brought it on the proper point of bearing ; 
but if the wind should come #/?, the ships are to 
bear up until they get into the wake, or on the 
proper point of bearing from the leading ship. 

XI. Ships which have been detached from the 
body of the fleet on any separate service are not to 
obey the signal for forming the line of battle unless 
they have been previously called back to the fleet 
by signal. 

XII. Ships which cannot keep their stations are 
to quit the line, as directed in Article XIX. in the 
General Instructions, though in the presence of an 
enemy. The captains of such ships will not thereby 
be prevented from distinguishing themselves, as 
they will have the opportunities of rendering essen- 
tial service by placing their ships advantageously 
when they get up with the enemy already engaged 
with the other part of the fleet. 

XIII. If the ship of any flag officer be disabled 
in battle, the flag officer may repair on board, and 



346 THE LAST PHASE 

hoist his flag in any other ship (not already carrying 
a flag) that he shall think proper, but he is to hoist 
it in one of his own squadron or division, if there be 
one near and fit for the purpose. 

XIV. If the fleet should engage an enemy 
inferior to it in number, or which, by the flight of 
some of their ships, becomes inferior, the ships, 
which at either extremity of the line are thereby 
left without opponents, may, after the action is 
begun, quit the line, without waiting for a signal 
to do so ; and they are to distress the enemy, or 
assist the ships of the fleet in the best manner that 
circumstances will allow. 

XV. Great care is at all times to be taken not 
to fire at the enemy either over or very near to any 
ships of the fleet, nor, though the signal for battle 
should be flying, is any ship to fire till she is placed 
in a proper situation, and at a proper distance from 
the enemy. 

XVI. No ship is to separate from the body of 
the fleet in time of action to pursue any small 
number of the enemy's ships which have been 
beaten out of the line, unless the commander-in- 
chief, or some other flag officer, be among them ; 
but the ships which have disabled their opponents, 
or forced them to quit the line, are to assist any 
ship of the fleet appearing to be much pressed, and 
to continue their attack till the main body of the 
enemy be broken or disabled, unless by signal, or 
particular instruction, they should be directed to act 
otherwise. 

XVII. If any ship should be so disabled as to 
be in great danger of being destroyed or taken by 
the enemy, and should make a signal expressive of 
such extremity, the ships nearest to her, and which 
are the least engaged with the enemy, are strictly 
enjoined to give her immediately all possible aid 



INSTRUCTIONS OF 1816 347 

and protection ; and any fireship, in a situation 
which admits of its being done, is to endeavour 
to burn the enemy's ship opposed to her ; and any 
frigate that may be near is to use every possible 
exertion for her relief, either by towing her off, or 
by joining in the attack on the enemy, or by cover- 
ing the fireship, or, if necessity requires it, by taking 
out the crew of the disabled ship, or by any other 
means which circumstances at the time will admit. 

XVIII. Though a ship be disabled and hard 
pressed by the enemy in battle, she is not to quit 
her station in the line if it can possibly be avoided, 
till the captain shall have obtained permission so to 
do from the commander of the division or squadron 
to which he belongs, or from some other flag officer. 
But if he should be ordered out of the line, or should 
be obliged to quit it before assistance can be sent to 
him, the nearest ships are immediately to occupy 
the space become vacant to prevent the enemy from 
taking advantage of it. 

XIX. If there should be a captain so lost to all 
sense of honour and the great duty he owes his 
country as not to exert himself to the utmost to get 
into action with the enemy, or to take or destroy 
them when engaged, the commander of the 
squadron or division to which he belongs, or the 
nearest flag officer, is to suspend him from the 
command, and is to appoint some other officer to 
command the ship till the admiral's pleasure shall 
be known. 



APPENDIX 



FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE 
TRAFALGAR FIGHT 

[Sir Charles Ekin's Naval Battles, pp. 271 et seq. Extract.] 

THE intelligent officer to whom the writer is 
indebted for this important manuscript was an eye- 
witness of what he has so ably related, and upon 
which he has reasoned with so much judgment. 1 

' The combined fleet, after veering from the 
starboard to the larboard tack, gradually fell into 
the form of an irregular crescent ; in which they 
remained to the moment of attack. Many have 
considered that the French admiral intended this 
formation of the line of battle ; but from the 
information I obtained after the action, connected 
with some documents found on board the Bucentaur, 
I believe it was the intention to have formed a line 
ahead, consisting of twenty-one sail the supposed 

1 The concluding part of the MS. is devoted to a detailed 
account of the part played in the action by the Conqueror and 
her two seconds, Neptune and Leviathan, with the special purpose 
of showing that Villeneuve really struck to the Conqueror. In a 
note the author says, ' I have been thus particular, as the capture 
of the French admiral has been unblushingly attributed to others 
without any mention being made of the ship that actually was 
the principal in engaging her, wishing to do justice to a gallant 
officer who on i that day considered his task not complete until 
every ship was either captured or beyond distance of pursuit.' 
The inference is that the author was an officer of the Conqueror, 
defending his captain, Israel Pellew, younger brother of the more 
famous Edward, Lord Exmouth. It is possible therefore, and 
even probable, that this criticism of Trafalgar represents the ideas 
of the Pellews. 



352 APPENDIX 

force of the British fleet and a squadron of 
observation composed of twelve sail of the line, 
under Admiral Gravina, intended to act according 
to circumstances after the British fleet were en- 
gaged. By wearing together, the enemy's line 
became inverted, and the light squadron which had 
been advanced in the van on the starboard tack, 
was left in the rear after wearing ; and the ships 
were subsequently mingled with the rear of the 
main body. The wind being light, with a heavy 
swell, and the fleet lying with their main topsails 
to the mast, it was impossible for the ships to pre- 
serve their exact station in the line ; consequently 
scarce any ship was immediately ahead or astern 
of her second. The fleet had then the appearance, 
generally, of having formed in two lines, thus : 

( o o o ) so that the ship to leeward 

seemed to be opposite the space left between two in 
the weather-line. 

' In the rear, the line was in some places 
trebled ; and this particularly happened where the 
Colossus was, who, after passing the stern of the 
French Swiftsure, and luffing up under the lee of 
the Bahama, supposing herself to leeward of the 
enemy's line, unexpectedly ran alongside of the 
French Achille under cover of the smoke. The 
Colossus was then placed between the Achille 
and the Bahama, being on board of the latter; 
and was also exposed to the fire of the Swift- 
sure's after-guns. All these positions I believe 
to have been merely accidental ; and to accident 
alone I attribute the concave circle of the fleet, or 
crescent line of battle. The wind shifted to the 
westward as the morning advanced ; and of course 
the enemy's ships came up with the wind, forming 
a bow and quarter line. The ships were therefore 



TACTICS AT TRAFALGAR 353 

obliged to edge away, to keep in the wake of their 
leaders ; and this manoeuvre, from the lightness of 
the wind, the unmanageable state of the ships in a 
heavy swell, and, we may add, the inexperience of 
the enemy, not being performed with facility and 
celerity, undesignedly threw the combined fleets 
into a position, perhaps the best that could have 
been planned, had it been supported by the skilful 
manoeuvring of individual ships, and with efficient 
practice in gunnery. 

1 Of the advantages and disadvantages of the 
mode of attack adopted by the British fleet, it may 
be considered presumptuous to speak, as the event 
was so completely successful ; but as the necessity 
of any particular experiment frequently depends upon 
contingent circumstances, not originally calculated 
upon, there can be no impropriety in questioning 
whether the same plan be likely to succeed under 
all circumstances, and on all occasions. 

4 The original plan of attack, directed by the 
comprehensive mind of our great commander, was 
suggested on a supposition that the enemy's fleet 
consisted of forty-six sail of the line and the British 
forty ; and the attack, as designed from to-windward, 
was to be made under the following circumstances : 

' Under a supposition that the hostile fleet would 
be in a line ahead of forty-six sail, the British fleet 
was to be brought within gun-shot of the enemy's 
centre, in two divisions of sixteen sail each, and a 
division of observation consisting of the remaining 
eight. 

' The lee division was by signal to make a rapid 
attack under all possible sail on the twelve rear 
ships of the enemy. The ships were to break 
through the enemy's line ; and such ships as were 
thrown out of their stations were to assist their 
friends that were hard pressed. The remainder of 

A A 



354 APPENDIX 

the enemy's fleet, of thirty-four sail, were to be left 
to the management of the commander-in-chief.' 

This able officer then proceeds to describe, by a 
figure, the plan of attack as originally intended ; 
bearing a very close resemblance to that already 
given in Plate XXVIII. fig. i ; but making the 
enemy's fleet, as arranged in a regular line ahead, 
to extend the distance of five miles ; and the van, 
consisting of sixteen ships, left unoccupied ; the 
whole comprising a fleet of forty-six sail of the line. 
He then observes : 

1 If the regulated plan of attack had been 
adhered to, the English fleet should have borne up 
together, and have sailed in a line abreast in their 
respective divisions until they arrived up with the 
enemy. Thus the plan which consideration had 
matured would have been executed, than which 
perhaps nothing could be better ; the victory would 
have been more speedily decided, and the brunt of 
the action would have been more equally felt, &c. 

' With the exception of the Britannia, Dread- 
nought, and Prince, the body of the fleet sailed very 
equally ; and I have no doubt could have been 
brought into action simultaneously with their leaders. 
This being granted, there was no time gained by 
attacking in a line ahead, the only reason, I could 
suppose, that occasioned the change. 

' The advantages of an attack made in two great 
divisions, with a squadron of observation, seem to 
combine every necessary precaution under all circum- 
stances. 

' The power of bringing an overwhelming force 
against a particular point of an enemy's fleet, so as 
to ensure the certain capture of the ships attacked, 
and the power of condensing such a force afterwards 
[so] as not only to protect the attacking ships from 
any offensive attempt that may be made by the un- 



TACTICS AT TRAFALGAR 355 

occupied vessels of the hostile fleet, but also to secure 
the prizes already made, will most probably lead to 
a victory ; and if followed up according to circum- 
stances, may ultimately tend to the annihilation of 
the whole, or the greater part of the mutilated 
fleet. 

' Each ship may use her superiority of sailing, 
without being so far removed from the inferior 
sailing ships as to lose their support. 

' The swifter ships, passing rapidly through the 
enemy's fire, are less liable to be disabled ; and, after 
closing with their opponents, divert their attention 
from the inferior sailers, who are advancing to com- 
plete what their leaders had begun. The weather 
division, from being more distant, remain spectators 
of the first attack for some little time, according to 
the rate of the sailing ; and may direct their attack 
as they observe the failure or success of the first 
onset, either to support the lee division, if required, 
or to extend the success they may appear to have 
gained, &c. 

' If the enemy bear up to elude the attack, the 
attacking fleet is well collected for the commence- 
ment of a chase, and for mutual support in pursuit. 

* The mode of attack, adopted with such success 
in the Trafalgar action, appears to me to have 
succeeded from the enthusiasm inspired throughout 
the British fleet from their being commanded by 
their beloved Nelson ; from the gallant conduct of 
the leaders of the two divisions ; from the individual 
exertions of each ship after the attack commenced, 
and the superior practice of the guns in the English 
fleet. 

' It was successful also from the consternation 
spread through the combined fleet on finding the 
British so much stronger than was expected ; from 
the astonishing and rapid destruction which followed 

A A 2 



356 APPENDIX 

the attack of the leaders, witnessed by the whole of 
the hostile fleets, inspiring the one and dispiriting 
the other and from the loss of the admiral's ship 
early in the action. 

' The disadvantages of this mode of attack 
appear to consist in bringing forward the attacking 
force in a manner so leisurely and alternately, that 
an enemy of equal spirit and equal ability in 
seamanship and gunnery would have annihilated 
the ships one after another in detail, carried slowly 
on as they were by a heavy swell and light airs. 

' At the distance of one mile five ships, at half a 
cable's length apart, might direct their broadsides 
effectively against the head of the division for seven 
minutes, supposing the rate of sailing to have been 
four miles an hour ; and within the distance of half 
a mile three ships would do the same for seven 
minutes more, before the attacking ship could fire 
a gun in her defence. 

' It is to be observed that, although the hull of 
the headmost ship does certainly in a great measure 
cover the hulls of those astern, yet great injury is 
done to the masts and yards of the whole by the 
fire directed against the leader ; and that, if these 
ships are foiled in their attempt to cut through the 
enemy's line, or to run on board of them, they are 
placed, for the most part, hors de combat for the 
rest of the action. 

' Or should it fall calm, or the wind materially 
decrease about the moment of attack, the van ships 
must be sacrificed before the rear could possibly 
come to their assistance. 

' In proceeding to the attack of October 21, the 
weather was exactly such as might have caused this 
dilemma, as the sternmost ships of the British were 
six or seven miles distant. By the mode of attack- 
ing in detail, and the manner in which the combined 



TACTICS AT TRAFALGAR 357 

fleet was drawn up to receive it, instead of doubling 
on the enemy, the British were, on that day, them- 
selves doubled and trebled on ; and the advantage 
of applying an overwhelming force collectively, it 
would seem, was totally lost. 

1 The Victory, Temeraire, Sovereign, Belleisle, 
Mars, Colossus and Bellerophon were placed in such 
situations in the onset, that nothing but the most 
heroic gallantry and practical skill at their guns 
could have extricated them. If the enemy's vessels 
had closed up as they ought to have done, from 
van to rear, and had possessed a nearer equality 
in active courage, it is my opinion that even British 
skill and British gallantry could not have availed. 
The position of the combined fleet at one time was 
precisely that in which the British were desirous of 
being placed ; namely, to have part of an opposing 
fleet doubled on, and separated from the main 
body. 

' The French admiral, with his fleet, showed the 
greatest passive gallantry ; and certainly the French 
Intrepide, with some others, evinced active courage 
equal to the British ; but there was no nautical 
management, no skilful manoeuvring. 

' It may appear presumptuous thus to have 
questioned the propriety of the Trafalgar attack ; 
but it is only just, to point out the advantages and 
disadvantages of every means that may be used for 
the attainment of great results, that the probabilities 
and existing circumstances may be well weighed 
before such means are applied. A plan, to be 
entirely correct, must be suited to all cases. If its 
infallibility is not thus established, there can be no 
impropriety in pointing out the errors and dangers 
to which it is exposed, for the benefit of others. 

' Our heroic and lamented chief knew his means, 
and the power he had to deal with ; he also knew 



358 APPENDIX 

the means he adopted were sufficient for the 
occasion ; and that sufficed. 

1 The Trafalgar attack might be followed under 
different circumstances, and have a different result : 
it is right, therefore, to discuss its merits and 
demerits. It cannot take one atom from the fame 
of the departed hero, whose life was one continued 
scene of original ability, and of superior action.' 



INDEX 



ADDITIONAL 

ADDITIONAL Instructions, 113, 

115, 126-8, 203-229 
Admiral, station of, in line, 12, 15, 

16, 22, 24,61, 77, 88,91, 100, 

123, 127, 1 66, 243-5, 276, 317. 

See also Flag, and Flagship 
Advanced squadron, Nelson's, 

294, 300-6, 316-7, 319 ., 325 
Ammunition, supply of, 69 
Anchor, engaging at, 264, 277, 

339 

d'Annibault, Admiral, 18 
Anson, Lord, 116, 204, 209-10, 

216, 218 ., 285 n. 
Argall, Sir Samuel, 49 
Armada, 27-9, 32-5, 75, 283, 288 
Attack, from to- wind ward, 31, 
33-5, 42, 59, 95, 113 126, 
153,155-6, 170-1,227,246, 
330-3. See also Line, 
breaking the 
Oblique, 143-5 
Parallel, 143, 148, 155-6, 
170-1, 186, 191-2, 197, 
218 ., ,245, 266, 273, 324-5 
Perpendicular, 265, 307, 324 
On contrary tacks, 245 ; on 
opposite number, 211-2, 
217-8, 227-8, 265, 277 ; in 
coming up, 277 
By defiling, 42-3, 51, 59,65 
On superior fleet, 180-2, 236, 

262-3, 276, 308, 346 
Audley, Sir Thomas, 14-17 
Augers, for scuttling, 13 



BATTLES 

BADILEY, Captain Richard, 84 
Ball, Admiral Sir Alexander, 303 
Banckers, Admiral Adriaen, 

156 n. 

Barham, Admiral Lord, 293 
Barrington, Admiral the Hon. 

Samuel, 258 
Baskerville, Sir Thomas, his battle 

order, 29 
Battle orders, see Order of 

Battle 
Battles. Gravelines (1588), 75, 

283, 288 

Isla de Pinos (1596), 29 
Oquendo and Tromp (1639), 

85 

Monte Christo (1652), 84 
Dungeness (1652), 93 
Portland (Feb. 1653), 94 
The Gabbard (June 1653^97 
Lowestoft or Texel, No. 2 

(1665X113-4 
Four Days' Batt.e (1666), 

116-9, 134, 136-7 
St. James's Fight (1666), 

122 ., 138, I4O-I 

Holmes's action (1672), 169 
Solebay (1672), 138-9, 155 ., 

169 

Schoonveldt (1673) 133, 156 
Texel, No. 3 (1673), 154 ., 

157/7., 162 n., 182 
Beachy Head or Bevesier 

(1690), 177, 181 
La Hogue (1692), 180 



360 



INDEX 



BATTLES 
Battles continued 

Malaga (1704), 184, 186, 

195-6, 198 n. 
Toulon (1744), 1 88 ., 196, 

205, 210 
Finisterre (Anson and De la 

Jonquiere, 1747), 209 
Finisterre (Hawke and 

L'Etenduere, 1747), 226 n. 
Havana (1748), 224 n. 
Minorca (1756), 218 n. 
Quiberon (1759), 186, 312 
Granada (1779), 258 
Martinique (1780), 211, 227 n. 
Chesapeake (1781), 212 
LesSaintes (1782), 211-2, 

237 
First of June (1794), 256, 

265, 283 

St. Vincent (i797), 254, 265, 

267 
Camperdown (1797), 254, 

266, 287 

The Nile (1798), 262, 312 
Copenhagen (1801), 264 
Trafalgar (1805), 257, 264, 
266, 282 etseq., 321-7, 335- 
42,351-8 
Berkley, Admiral Sir William, 

116 

Berry, Sir John, 169 
Berry, Captain Edward, 262, 288 
Bilboes, 33 
Blake, Admiral Robert, 83-5, 

92-9 ; orders of, 99-104 
Boarding, 7, 13, 15, 42, 51, 59, 62, 

68,97, ii9, 326 
Boats in action, 10-13, r 5 89-90, 

248, 275-6 
Boscawen, Admiral Edward, 197, 

203-4, 208, 210 ; his Additional 

Instructions, 219-25 
Boswall, Captain, his translation 

of Hoste, 236 ., 287 n. 
Boteler, Captain Nathaniel, on 

tactics, 27, 73-6 
Breaking the line, see Line 
Browne, Lieutenant G.L., 299 
Buckingham, George Villiers, 

Duke of, 33, 76 
Byng, Admiral Sir George, 204, 

218 n. 



COVENTRY 
CABINS, 61 
Calder, Admiral Sir Robert 

Bart., 294 
Calthrops, n 
Captains, lists of, 65-6, 71 
Captains, removal of, in action, 

247, 274-5, 347 

Carteret, Admiral Sir George, 121 
Cartouches, 69 
Cavalry tactics at sea, 7, 119 
Cecil, Sir Edward, Viscount 

Wimbledon, 31, 49, 51-72,73, 

75, 83, 85 

Changing station, see Station 
Charles V, Emperor, i, 18 
Chasing, 43, 56, 60, 127-9, 155, 

162, 204. See also General 

chase 
Chaves, Alonso de, i et seq. 18-9, 

52, 73, 75, 291, 296 
Chaves, Hieronymus de, 2 
Clearing for action, 41, 58, 62, 

69 
Clerk of Eldin, 235, 262, 265, 285, 

326 
Close action, 41,68, 112, 159, 215, 

220 
Cochrane, Admiral Sir Alexander, 

185, 326-7, 330-4 
Codrington, Admiral Sir Edward, 

295, 301-7 

Collingwood, Admiral Lord, 283, 
292, 295, et seq. ; his memoran- 
dum, 323-30, 336-7 
' Commander-in-chief,' 100 n. 
Concentration, 142-5, 154 n., 177, 
213, 228, and;*., 259, 284, 330-4 
By doubling, see Doubling ; 
On rear, see Rear-concentra- 
tion 

On van, 143-4, 213, 314-5 
Confusing, 36, 144, 213, 284, 291, 

315 
Containing, 135-8, 214, 284, 297, 

318-20, 325 

By feinting, see Feints 
Convoy, method of attacking, 

219, 227, 288 ; of protecting, 94 
Corporal of the field, 40 
Corps de reserve, see Reserve 
Coventry, Sir William, in, 114, 

128, 133 



INDEX 



COWARDICE 

Cowardice, see Captains, removal 

of 

Cross-bows, n 
Crossing the T, 210, 221 
Cruisers, 29, 71-3, 88-90, 99, 103-4, 

109, 122, 125, 152 ; duties of, in 

action, 151, 219, 251 
Cruising formations, 209, 220, 228 



DARTMOUTH, Admiral George 
Legge, first lord, 141 ; his 
instructions, 168-172, 177 

Dartmouth MSS. no, 133, 139 

Deane, Admiral Richard, 93, 95 

Decres, 310 

Defeat, 247 

Denbigh, William Fielding, First 
Earl of, 49 

Detached ships, 240, 244, 249, 
269, 272-3, 276, 345 

Disabled ships, 101, 103, 112-3, 
123-4, 127, 146, 161-2, 192-3, 
246-7, 274, 346-7 ; question 
of following up, 224, 246, 273, 
346 

Disbrowe, Colonel John, general 
at sea, 98 ; orders of, 99-104 

Discipline, 40, 43-5, 52-4, 58, 

93 
Dispersing, instructions for, 247, 

275 
Divisions, independent control 

of, 287-9, 294-6, 316-9, 323, 

327. See also Subsquadrons ; 

Order of battle 
Doubling, 117, 179-85, 210, 236, 

262, 326, 331-3 
Drake, Sir Francis, 17 ., 283 ; 

his sailing order, 29, 50 
Duff, Captain George, 303 
Dumanoir, Vice- Admiral, 310 
Duncan, Admiral Viscount, 254, 

266, 287 
Dundonald, Admiral the Earl of, 

337 
Duquesne, Admiral Abraham, 164 



ENGAGING, see Attack 
Equalising speed, 228, 241, 243, 
269, 271, 273 



GORGES 
Essex, Robert Devereux, Earl of, 

49 

Essington, Rear-Admiral, 322 
d'Estrees, Mare*chal, 154^., 179, 

182 
Etenduere, Admiral des Herbiers 

de P, 226 n. 
Exmouth, Admiral Edward 

Pellew, Lord, 351 n. 
Expeditional orders, 204-6 



FEINTS, 302, 307-12 

Fire discipline, 41-3, 51, 54, 60, 
62, 68, 70, 103, 125, 159, 172, 
.245. 273, 346 

Fire, precautions against, 37, 41, 
54, 5.8-9, 7o 

Fireships, 89, 90, 103-4 ; instruc- 
tions for, 139, 149, 159-60, 172, 
223-4, 227, 248 and /;., 250-1, 

274-5 

Flag, shifting the, 130, 141, 162 ., 
248-9, 276, 345-6 

Flags, squadronal, 16, 22-3, 55 ; 
abolished, 251 

Flagship as objective, 12, 15, 
273, 3 ! 7, 346. See also Ad- 
miral, station of 

Forcing, 227, 334 

Foreign views of British tactics, 
97-8, 118-9,337-9 

Frederick, Rear-Admiral, 254 ., 

255 
Frigates, see Cruisers 



GALEN, Admiral Johann van, 84 
Galleys, tactics of, 6 ; used with 

sailing ships, 18-24 
Gambier, Admiral Lord, 322-3, 

325 ; his instructions, 327-8 
Gambling, 43-4, 52 
General chase, 130, 193, 221, 

226 
' General ' for naval commander- 

in-chief, 82, 93, 99 
General Instructions, 268, 342 
George of Denmark, Prince, 195 
Gibraltar, 196, 225, 235-6 
Glanville, Sir John, 63 n 
Gorges, Sir William, 32-5, 50 



362 



INDEX 



GRAIN 



Grain, 101 and n. 
Grappling, 7, 12, 248, 250 
Grasse, Vice-Admiral Comte de, 

238, 285-6 

Graves, Admiral Lord, 212 
Gravina, Admiral, 264 
Greenwood, Jonathan, his signal 

book, 233 n. 
Grenades, n 
Grenier, Vicomte de, his tactical 

treatise, 285 

Group tactics, 50-1, 74, 85-7, 338 
Guiche, Comte de, on English 

and Dutch tactics, 118-9 
Guides, 239, 240-1, 278-9 
Gunfire as basis of tactics, 120 
Gunners and gun crews, 35, 62, 

69. See also Seamen gunners 
Gunnery, 69, 97, 263. See also 

Close action, and Fire disci- 
pline 



HAND-GUNS, 11 

Harpoons, n 

Harvey, Captain Eliab, 297, 310 

Hawke, Lord, 1 16, 209, 210-1 ; his 
Additional Instructions, 217-8, 
312 

Hawkins, Sir Richard, 34 

Henry VIII, 14, 18 

Herbert, Admiral, Sec Torrington 

Hill, General Lord, 292 

Holmes, Admiral Sir Robert, 
122 n. 

Hood, Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel, 
322 

Hood, Viscount, 211-4 ; his addi- 
tional signals, 228-9, 236-8, 255 

Hope, Captain George, 295, 303, 
320 n. 

Hoste, Pere Paul, his Evolutions 
Navales, 97-8, 113-4, 179-83, 
225 n., 235-6, 257, 262-3, 3o8 

Howard of Effingham, Lord, 27, 29 

Howard, Sir Edward, 14 

Howe, Earl, 184-5, 22 5 n - > as 
first lord, 233-8, 252 et seg., 
262-5, 2 ^7 ; his great manoeuvre, 
255-62, 265, 267,287, 308, 311, 
336 

Hygiene, 44, 60 



LINE 

INITIATIVE, 267-8, 279, 314. See 
also Divisions, independent 
control of 

Intervals, 67, 113, 127, 158, 191, 
220, 222-3, 244, 327-8, 330 

JACK-FLAG, 108 and n. 

James II, 168. See also York, 

Duke of 
Jervis, Admiral Sir John, Earl of 

St. Vincent, 254, 265-6 
Jonquiere, Admiral de la, 209 
Jordan, Admiral Sir Joseph, 141, 

155 . 

KEATS, Admiral Sir Richard 
Goodwin, 290-2, 295-6, 304, 
311, 322 

Keith, Admiral Lord, 336, 341 

Keppel, Admiral Augustus, Vis- 
count, 235, 258 

Knowles, Admiral Sir Charles, 
ist bart. (ot>. 1777), 224 ., 235, 
258 

Knowles, Admiral Sir Charles 
Henry, 2nd bart. (1754-1831), 
185, 210, 225 ., 235-7, 257-8, 
260-1 



LANDING, 16 

Lasking, 171 

Lawson, Admiral Sir John, 112 

Lestock, Admiral, 188 ., 205-8 

Lindsey, Robert Bertie, Earl of, 

76-7, 85 

Line. See also Orders of battle. 
Abreast, 75, 107-9, 165-6, 

220 

Ahead, origin of, 28-36, 42, 
59, 62, 82-7 ; first in- 
structions for, 92, 95-9, 
100-2, 108-9, 124-6; in- 
sistence on, 134-5, 149, 
155, 159, 335-95 close 
hauled, first use of, 113 ; 
invented by English, 118- 
21 

of bearing, see Quarter line 

Breaking the, 114, 136-7, 

142, 149, 153, 158*., 169- 



INDEX 



363 



LINE 

Line continued 

70, 176-8, 182, 212, 229, 

237, 289, 314-5, 324-5 ; 

early objections to, 145, 
153 n., 183-4, 256; the 
two methods of, 255-62, 
264-6, 279, 326-7, 33>-3 5 
synonyms for, 261 
Closing up, 192, 198, 241, 

243 
Equalising, 205, 219, 221, 

227, 346. See also Reserve, 

corps de 
Forming, as convenient, 

170-1, 221, 226, 277 
Inverting, 226-7, 238, 331-2 
Position of squadrons in, 239 

-40 

Principles of, stated, 269, 342 
Quitting the, 161, 193, 198, 

247, 273-4. See also 

Equalising 
Early Spanish use of, 8-10 ; 

early English, 28-36, 42, 

59,62 
Reactions against, 1 1 5-6, 

J59., 1 86, 283-9, 335-9 
Reduplication of, 118-9, 

312-3, 338, 342 ., 352 
Linstocks, n 
Lisle, John Dudley, Lord, 18-24, 

291, 296 
Louisbourg, 203 
Love, Sir Thomas, 49-51, 61 n. 



MACPHERSON, Alexander, 225 

Malta, 164 

Mathews, Admiral, i88w., 190 w., 

196, 205-8, 210 

Medows, Captain Charles, 225 
Mette, 259, 267, 291 
Monck, George, Duke of Albe- 

marle, 93-9 ; orders of, 99- 

104, 107, 1 1 1-5, 134-6 
Monson, Sir William, on tactics, 

76 

Moore, Admiral Sir Graham, 336 
Moorsom, Vice-Admiral Constan- 

tine, 298-9 
Moorsom, Captain Robert, 298-9, 

311 n. 



PELLEW 

Morogues, Bigot de, his Tactique 

na-vale^ 171 ., 185, 285 n., 327 
Mortemart, Due de, 179 
Moulton, Captain Robert, his sea 

book, 112, 126 ., 129 ., 151 n. 
Musket-arrows, 34 
Mutual support, 61, 67,74,85-6, 

89, 91, ico-i, 123, 129, 172, 

266-7, 283 
Myngs, Admiral Sir Christopher, 

136-7 



NARBRQUGH, Admiral Sir John, 

164-7 

Nelson, Admiral Lord, 116, 185, 
214, 257, 259, 261, 266, 
321-7, 335-42 
His general orders (1798- 

1801), 264, 287-9 
His memorandum (1803) 261, 

280-1, 289-90, 313-6 
His memorandum (1805), 272 
., 282-313, 316-20, 353-4 
' Nelson touch,' the, 283, 293, 

296, 299-313, 326 
Norris, Admiral Sir John, 196, 
206-7 



OAR propulsion, 18-24 

O'Bryen, Lieutenant Christopher, 
his translation of Hoste, 236 . 

Order of battle, forming, as con- 
venient, 70-1 

Orders of battle. Early Spanish, 
8-10 ; English, 19-24, 50-1, 
65 et seq., 74-5 ; wedge-shaped, 
9, 19 ; Baskerville's, 30; Boteler 
on, 73-6; crescent, 75, 94, 351 ; 
in two lines, 209, 214, 220, 226, 
229, 285, 294-300, 305, 323 ; in 
three lines, 286, 289-296, 354 

Order of sailing, 29, 50, 225 ., 
235 ; as order of battle, 316, 
322, 327, 340 



PARISOT, his account of Trafalgar, 

310 n. 
Pellew, Captain Israel, 299, 351 . 



364 



INDEX 



PENN 

Penn, Admiral Sir William, 81, 
92, 96, 98, 135 ; orders of, 99- 
104, 114; his talk with Pepys, 

1 20- 1 

Pepys, Samuel, 117 ., 120-1, 

168-9 
Perez de Grandallana, Don 

Domingo, 267 
Pigot, Admiral Hugh, 212, 228-9 

*., 237, 255, 260 
Popham, Admiral Sir Home, 254, 

335-6 

Prayers, 33, 36, 52 
Preparative signals, 269 
Prizes, treatment of, 103, 112 



QUARTER line, 209, 216-7, 225, 
242, 269-71, 344 ; at Trafalgar, 
311-2 

Quarters, 41-2, 58-9, 62, 69-70 



RAKING, 170, 221 

Ralegh, Sir Walter, 27 et seg., 

5 
Rear-concentration, 143-4, 145 #., 

180, 221, 226, 238, 249, 263, 

289, 293, 310, 313-9, 330-3, 

339-41 
Repeating ships, 142, 199, 243, 

271, 305 ., 308, 344 
Reserve, Corps de, 205, 214, 219, 

221, 227, 241, 243, 269, 272, 

2?6, 33 i, 335> 345- See also 

Equalising and Quitting the line 
Reserve squadrons, 7, 12, 50-1, 

67, 71 
Retreat, order of, 94 and ., 

165. See also Dispersing 
Rockets as signals, 163 n. 
Rodney, Lord, 184-5, 209, 211-3 ; 

Additional Instructions used by, 

225, 227 ., 228 ., 236-7, 255- 

62, 284-5, 287 
Rooke, Admiral Sir George, 187, 

195-9, 207 
Rupert, Prince, 111-2, 115-7; 

Instructions of, 129-30, 133-6, 

159;?., 169 



SHIPS 
Russell, Admiral Edward, Earl of 

Orford, 175 etseg., 187-96, 233 n. 
Ruyter, Admiral Michiel de, 87, 

119, 156 n. 



SAILING order, see Order of 

sailing 

Sailors serving ashore, 37, 56 
Sandwich, Edward Mountagu, 

Earl of, 82, 107-9, 1 1 1-2| 165 
Saumarez, Admiral Lord de, 262 
Scouts, see Cruisers 
Sealed orders, 38 
Seamen gunners, 35, 41 
Ship-money fleets, 76-7 
Ships, lists of, 20-2, 65-6, 71, 
166 

Achille, 352 

Agamemnon, 301, 303-4 
311 n. 

Anne Royal, 63, 65 

Assurance, 81 

Bahama, 352 

Belleisle, 294, 300, 304, 357 

Bellerophon, 300, 304, 305 ., 

357 

Britannia, 195, 354 
Bucentaure, 309, 351 
Colossus, 300-1, 303-6, 352, 

357 

Conqueror, 299, 305 ., 35 1 n. 
Defence, 295, 301, 303-4 
Defiance, 305 . 
Dreadnought (1578), 65 ; 

(1805), 354 

Euryalus, 305 n., 308-9 
Leviathan, 304, 351 . , 
Marlborough, 253 
Mars, 300-1, 303-6, 357 
Neptune, 351 n. 
Orion, 301-2, 304-5 
Pembroke, 169 
Polyphemus, 304 
Prince, 354 
Prince of Wales, 322 
Queen Charlotte, 252 
Redoutable, 309 
Revenge, 298, 311 n. 
Royal Catherine, 169 
Royal Charles, in, 128-9 
Royal James, 



INDEX 



365 



SHIPS 
S h ips continued 

Royal Sovereign, 300, 357 

St. George, 264 

Santa Ana, 309 

Santfsima Trinidad, 309-10 

Shannon, 225 

Superb, 290 

Swiftsure, 352 

Te^meraire, 300, 308, 310, 

357 

Vanguard, 287 
Victory, 293, 299, 300, 305, 

307-8, 357 
Shot-holes, 62, 69 
Shovell, Admiral Sir Clowdisley, 

195, 198 n. 

Sidmouth, Lord, 292, 295 
Sign (for signal), 82 
Signal books, introduction of, 

233 and n, 234 and . 
Signal officers, 216, 299 
Signals, early forms of, 10, 38, 
54-8, 73 ; improvements in, 
142, 152 n., 155 ., 163 ., 
233, et seg., 254 n. ; numerical, 

235 

Slinging yards, 70 
Smoke, tactical value of, 8, 10, 15, 

16 
Soldiers at sea, 35, 37, 41, 53, 

56, 59, 69 ; as admirals, 29-30, 

49. 73-6, 96 
Spain, orders adopted from, 18, 

33., 4i- 
Spanish Armament, the (1790), 

253 
Squadronal organisation, 50-1, 

55, 65-7, 73-4, 85-7, 186-9, 

193-4, 322 

Stanhope, Vice-Admiral, 322 
Station, changing, 218, 226, 243, 

276 ; keeping, 222, 224, 228, 

See also Line, quitting the 
Stinkballs, 11 
Strickland, Admiral Sir Roger, 

169 
Sub-squadrons, 50-1, 65-7, 85, 87, 

322-3. See also Divisions 



TACKING in succession, 
signal for, 113, 127-8 



first 



WEATHER- GAGE 

Tactical exercises, 209, 253, 

285 . 

Tactics, principles of, 283-4, 286. 
See also Concentration, 
Confusing, Containing, Mu- 
tual support 
Oscillations in, 178, 213 
Dutch, 50, 66-7, 73, 85-7, 

97-8, 114, 118-20,313 
French, 185, 258-9, 267-8, 

285-6 
Spanish, 267-8. See also 

Chaves, Alonso de 
Treatises on, see Hoste, 
Morogues, Clerk, Grenier, 
Knowles 
Tangier, 168 
Telegraphing, 254 n. 
Tobacco smoking, 37 
Torrington, Admiral Arthur Her- 
bert, Earl of, 141, 177, 181, 
187, 236 

Toulouse, Comte de, 196 
Tourville, Marshal de, 179-181 
Transports, 71 

Tromp, Admiral Marten Har- 
pertszoon, 83-7, 93-4 ; orders 
of, 91 

Tromp, Admiral Cornells Mar- 
ten szoon, 1 1 8, 156 n. 



VAN, concentration on, 142-5, 

154 n. 

Vane, Sir Harry, 93 
Vernon, Admiral, 205-7, 210; his 

Additional Instructions, 214- 

216 
Villeneuve, Admiral, 264, 286, 

308-9, 312-3, 342 . 



WALSH, Lieutenant John, his 

signal book, 253 
Warren, Vice-Admiral Sir Peter, 

285 n. 
Weapons for close quarters, n, 

15 

Weather-gage, 8, 15, 16, 23-4, 62, 
68, 102, 114, 154, 238 



366 



INDEX 



WEFT 

waft or wheft, 



89, 



Weft 

99 

Wimbledon, see Cecil 
Wing squadrons, 18-24, 73 
With, Admiral Witte de, 

86 
Wren, Ur. Mathew, F.R.S., 133, 

138-9 



ZANTE 

YORK, James, Duke of, 82 ; his 
instructions, 110-28, 133-63, 
177 ; his school, 134-5, 178, 
338 ; end of his career, 140 



ZAMORANO, Roderigo, 4 
Zante, 164, 167 



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