Spaniards very active
in completing their battering-ships. —The nephew of the celebrated Corsican
general, Pascal Paoli, arrives at
THE Court of Madrid, whose
whole attention seemed bent upon the recovery of
The Duke de Crillon, lately
returned from the conquest of Fort St. Philip, who had formerly commanded at the
Spanish lines before
General Eliott, on the opposite side, unawed by the impending storm, provided for every circumstance which might occur : though surrounded on every hand with enemies, and far distant from any hopes of relief and assistance; yet he reposed such confidence in the vigorous and united exertions of the little army under his command, whom he had already found superior to the greatest hardships, that he was not apprehensive of trusting the event to the decision of that fortune, which had been so often favourable to the interests of the Garrison.
The 24th of June, the Garrison began to practise parapet firing, with ball, at casks placed at different distances in the Bay. Two days following, the enemy's cannon were all under metal; and their advanced sentries and guards were reinforced. At Algeciras they still continued to work on seven ships; and in camp numerous parties were employed in landing great quantities of stores, and in ranging ordnance, &c. in their artillery park. Early on the morning of the 27th the Captain of the Queen's lines guard challenged two persons who had approached to Forbes's barrier; one of whom finding they were observed, cried out in French, w Don't fire!" after which both instantly ran away towards the lines. In their retreat one of them fell; and his cloak coming unfolded, our sentries could distinguish that his uniform was white ; which circumstance, added to that of their speaking French, induced us to believe they were officers of that nation. A person of distinction, supposed to be the Duke de Crillon, on the 30th, visited the lines and advanced works. Our artillery fired a shot over him and his suite, to shew them that they were observed. At night a soldier of the 56th, attempting to desert from the Signal house guard, was dashed to pieces in his descent. The next day his body was exposed as a public spectacle, to intimidate others from provoking a similar fate.
In the beginning of July, the TENTH ship had been in hands two or three days; and the enemy's artificers were at work on the tops of those which were in the greatest forwardness, placing strong timbers, in form of a dos (Tane, to serve as bomb-proofs. At night they raised their parallel several fascines in height, and banked it up in front with sand. Though the enemy's batteries had continued silent since the 22d of June, the Garrison persevered in a brisk discharge, directing their fire to all parts of the lines, as well as the advanced works. The evening of the 2d, a party of the enemy advanced to Bayside barrier ; but several rounds of grape, which were fired from Willis's, soon forced them to retire. The succeeding evening, they again attempted to take post there, and met with a similar reception. Our navy, under the direction of an engineer, about this time repaired the boom of Waterport, and sunk anchors in the shallow water at the back of the Old mole. The enemy, though we expected it, never molested them in this duty: indeed they seemed too intent upon their own operations, to pay attention to any of ours.
The success attending our progress in the gallery above Farringdon's battery, produced the idea of making a communication from the extremity of the King's to the Queen's lines ; and on the 6th, a party of miners began this new subterranean passage. Early the day following, a brig, coming in from the west, was taken by a xebeque, and carried into Algeciras. If the master of this vessel had acted prudently, he might probably have escaped. On his first appearance he coasted under French colours ; but being abreast of the Point, and observing a felucca standing out to speak him, he hoisted British, and fired a shot. This circumstance spread the alarm: four or five gunboats immediately rowed out, and opposed her passage, till a xebeque came up and ran her aboard.
The afternoon of the 18th, an extraordinary instance of gallantry and presence of mind occurred at the laboratory adjoining the South bastion. An artilleryman (named Hartley) was employed in the laboratory, filling shells with carcass composition, and driving fuses into five and a half and sixinch shells: one of them, by some unaccountable accident, took fire in the operation ; and although he was surrounded with unfixed fuses, loaded shells, composition, &c. with the most astonishing coolness he carried out the lighted shell, and threw it where it could do little or no harm ; and two seconds had scarcely elapsed before it disploded. If the shell had burst in the laboratory, it is almost certain the whole would have been blown up ; when the loss in fixed ammunition, fuses, &c. &c. would have been irreparable, exclusive of the damage which the fortifications would have suffered from the explosion, and the lives that might have been lost. He was handsomely rewarded by the Governor. The night of the 10th, a soldier of De la Motte's, who had been missing from the 5th, was discovered by the quarterguard of that regiment stealing bread from the men's tents: he was instantly pursued, but could not be overtaken : the next day however he was found concealed in a cave. Two others had also been retaken within a few preceding days. Such attention had been paid to scarping the back of the rock, that it was little short of madness in these wretches, at this period, to attempt desertion.
Some experiments were made, in the beginning of this month, with large stones, cut to fit the calibre of a thirteeninch mortar. The stones had a small hole drilled in the centre, which being filled with a sufficient quantity of powder, they were fired with a short fuse, to burst over the enemy's works; and the fragments were expected to do some damage, as well as alarm their workmen. It was an unusual mode of annoyance, and for its novelty was used for some time, but was soon laid aside. The 11th in the afternoon, four sailors, under pretence of visiting some fishing pots, deserted to the enemy. Two of them were concerned in the conspiracy to run away with the Speedwell cutter, as mentioned, some months before. The following evening, a serjeant of the 72d regiment, who had absented himself several days from his corps, and who, previous to his absence, had left a letter signifying his intention to desert, was retaken halfway down the rock,, between Charles the Vth's wall and Mount Misery. He was so situated as to be unable to descend or return, and was at length obliged to cry for assistance; which being heard by the guard at the former post, search was made for the unhappy man, and he was afterwards executed.
A deserter from the regiment of Bechart came in on the 14th : he acquainted us, that the Duke de Crillon had assumed the command of the siege, and that General Don Alvarez had quitted the camp ; that the combined army consisted of fortyfive battalions of infantry, including eight French battalions, two battalions of Spanish, and four companies of French artillery, besides cavalry; but, owing to desertion, their numbers was considerably diminished. The battering ships, he said, were to have on board French artillery; and it was reported they would be completed in about six weeks, the time we had calculated ourselves, from observations on their progress. About this period, additional forges for heating shots were established in different parts of the Garrison, with all the proper apparatus. The 15th, the enemy laid a boom of spars from the breakers north of the island at Algeciras towards the northward: some few days afterwards it was considerably lengthened, and the gunboats were ranged in front of it: a boom was also placed between the island and the main land. We concluded these obstructions were intended to defend their battering ships from any attempts we might make (before they were completed) to destroy them. The same day an embrasure was opened in the face of the rock, communicating with the gallery above Farringdon's: the mine was loaded with an unusual quantity of powder, and the explosion was so amazingly loud, that almost the whole of the enemy's camp turned out at the report: but what must their surprise be, when they observed whence the smoke issued!—The original intention of this opening was to communicate air to the workmen, who before were almost suffocated with the smoke which remained after blowing the different mines; but on examining the aperture more closely, an idea was conceived of mounting a gun to bear on all the enemy's batteries, except Fort Barbara: accordingly orders were given to enlarge the inner part of the recoil; and, when finished, a twenty fourpounder was mounted.
The 18th, a soldier of the 56th regiment, who had escaped from the quarterguard some days before, and who, it is imagined, had endeavoured to desert, surrendered himself voluntarily to the main guard. One of the 58th, and another of the 97th regiment, had got off in the former part of the month : the discouragement, however, which had of late attended these deluded wretches, we were in hopes would now deter others from attempting to abandon their colours at this critical juncture.
Our artillery, as the firing was very inconsiderable, were now chiefly engaged in preparing shells and carcasses to be used' against the enemy's ships. The engineers were also equally indefatigable in their department. On the part of the besiegers, multitudes of mules were constantly employed in different duties in their camp, and large parties continued to land military stores and powder at the Orangegrove. The 25th, the St. Philip's Castle and Hector cutter arrived from the eastward, and communicated the agreeable news of the entire defeat of the French fleet in the WestIndies, by Admiral Sir George Rodney, with the capture of the Ville de Paris, and the French Admiral the Count de Grasse. In consequence of this victory, a grand salute was fired at noon ; and in the evening kfewdejoie, by the troops drawn up from the Grand battery to the newmole fort. Signor Leonetti, nephew to Pascal Paoli, the celebrated Corsican General, with two officers, a chaplain, and sixtyeight volunteers, came as passengers in these vessels, to offer their services to the Governor. In the course of the same day, our Engineers began to fix a ch£vauxde~frise from the foot of Landport Glacis, adjoining Waterport, to the sloping palisades on the causeway ; and thence to be continued across the Inundation to the advanced covertway, leading to lower Forbes's barrier. The enemy did not molest the party on this duty; which to us appeared very extraordinary.
A boat arrived, on the
26th, with two packets from Faro, which mentioned that the enemy's preparations
for the attack would be complete by the middle of August, and that all the boats
along the coast in the vicinity of
Towards the conclusion of the month, our attention was engaged for several nights successively by a great noise on the Isthmus, like that of a large body of men at work: a few light balls were thrown in different parts, to discover whence it proceeded; but we could never discern any men, except their patroles : it was therefore imagined these parties were employed within the lines. The 29th, the wooden buildings in the navyyard, at the New mole, were taken down, and removed to Rosia, where they were afterwards re-established on an enlarged plan. As the communications along the linewall, &c. to the northward, were expected to be much exposed to the enemy's fire when the ships were brought before the walls, the engineers, about this time, began a covertway along the rampart, from Orange's bastion to the Grand parade, and thence to be continued to Southport: this was done by clearing away the rubbish from the old houses immediately under the works, and filling others up, which also served as traverses against the Land batteries. Another covertway was likewise made, to communicate from the Princess of Wales's lines with the South barracks. The 31st, upwards of a hundred covered waggons came to the enemy's lines from the camp, supposed to be laden with ammunition and stores for the batteries.
Appearances became daily more important, in the month of August. The enemy's artificers were remarkably diligent at Algeciras, and the cruisers became more attentive to the blockade. They were particularly suspicious of every vessel that came in sight from the west; and the gunboats were stationed out as nightcruisers ; which probably was the reason why we had not been for some time visited by them. In their camp every person seemed employed; and the depots of fas. cines and pickets were very considerable, notwithstanding the quantities continually removed to the lines. Nor were we less active in taking advantage of this interval: large and lofty traverses were raised along the linewall; new communications were made at Willis's ; the flank of the Princess Anne's battery was rebuilt, and heavy metal mounted, to bear over Waterport. The 4th, the Corsican Volunteers were formed into an independent corps, under Signor Leonetti, who was appointed Captain Commandant. The company consisted of a Captain, and Captain Lieutenant, First and Second Lieutenants, one Adjutant, one Chaplain, four Serjeants, four Corporals, two Drummers, and sixtyeight Privates. They were armed with a firelock and bayonet, each a horsepistol slung on the left side, and two cartridge boxes. The Governor quartered them on Windmill Hill, and committed that post to their charge.
As the completing of the subterranean communication from the Kong's to the Queen's lines appeared (from the difficulty at that time attending the reinforcing of the latter, in case of an alarm) to be an object of great importance, the Governor, on the 5th, ordered all the miners in the different regiments into the King's works, to prosecute it with greater diligence, and assist in the gallery above Farringdon's, which now extended a hundred and forty feet in the solid rock. The same day, the enemy removed the old masts out of several of the battering-ships, substituting jurymasts in their places. Three hulls now appeared nearly finished. The evening of the 6th, the Governor thought proper to detach a trusty serjeant, with four men, from Landport, to a recess in the rock under the Queen's lines, near Lower Forbes's, with orders to advance a sentry to the barrier, who was to listen attentively to what was transacting upon the neutral ground; but by no means to fire, except in his own defence. This party was to withdraw at the grey of the morning, that they might not be observed by the enemy.
The 7th, came in a deserter
who had been formerly in our service at
The enemy, on the 13th, got up the masts and yards in several ships, and bent the sails of two : but from the appearance of the whole, we did not think they could be finished by the 25th. Some few days before, they lined the upper portholes of the two-deckers with tin ; to protect, as we imagined, the cheeks of the ports from being burnt by the constant firing of the cannon. In the evening, the 97th regiment furnished, for the first time, a working party of a hundred and twenty men, to remove shiptimbers from the New mole, to Montague's bastion, where the engineers intended to erect a cavalier for two guns.
About this time, a species of influenza made its appearance on board the frigates in the Mole, and soon communicated with the Garrison. Its general symptoms were sudden pains, accompanied with dizziness in the head; though others were affected in a different manner. For several days near a hundred men were daily taken to the hospital; but bleeding, and a night's rest, usually removed it. It was attributed, at that time, to the extraordinary heat of the atmosphere, which was unusually warm, owing to the prodigious fires made by the Spaniards on the neighbouring hills, and the stagnant state of the air: but we have since learned that it was universal over Europe; and we had reason, at that time, to think the enemy were not less affected by it.
A General officer, supposed to be the Duke, visited, on the 15th, the advanced works; which, we afterwards supposed, was to reconnoitre the ground, previous to entering upon the succeeding additions which were made to the parallel; for the subsequent morning at daybreak, to our great astonishment, we discovered that they had raised, daring the preceding night, a very strong and lofty epaulement, in extent about five hundred yards, connecting the parallel to the eastern breach, with a communication, near a thousand three hundred yards long, extending from the principal barrier of the lines to the east end of the epaulement. Their works now embraced each shore of the isthmus, and fully completed the first parallel. The communication, or boyau (as it was distinguished by our engineers), consisted of casks filled with sand, which was also thrown up in front, having traverses at equal distances in the rear, made of casks and fascines : but the epaulement appeared to be raised entirely with sandbags, from ten to twelve feet high, with a thickness proportionable; and altogether was a most stupendous work. Its purpose, however, was not immediately pointed out. To erect these new additions in so short a time, we computed, at a moderate calculation, must have employed ten thousand men; which was afterwards confirmed to us by their officers; and for so numerous a party to be at work within eight hundred yards of the Garrison, and not be discovered, must appear to a person not present, almost incredible. We threw a few light balls whilst they were at work, one of which, we afterwards learned, greatly alarmed them; but, finding they were not discovered, they resumed their occupation, and withdrew in the morning unobserved. The Spanish gazette described this parallel as of two hundred and thirty toises* in length; and added, that a million six hundred thousand sandbags were used in raising it. The communication it mentioned to have been in length six hundred and thirty toises, and formed of fascines and casks. The Governor at night did not order an increase of firing on the new works: a few rounds were discharged, with several carcasses and light balls; but the latter were almost immediately extinguished.
The night of the 17th, the
enemy brought a great number of casks, pickets, and fiiscines, to the rear of
the eastern communication, which was raised some little near the barrier. They
also erected three epaulements with shoulders of sandbags, for mortar batteries
in the parallel. Two were to the westward, and the third to the eastward of the
The morning of the 18th, we
observed one of the battering-ships at anchor off
On the 19th, a small magazine blew up in the enemy's camp, near BuenaVista, which set a hut on fire. About noon, a flag of truce came from the Duke ; the officer appeared to be a person of rank, as the boat had a crimson awning, and the rowers were in uniforms. After passing and repassing several times, our boat returned with a present from the Duke to the Governor, of ice, fruit, vegetables, &c. The officers informed us that the salutes fired the preceding day, were in compliment to the Count d'Artois, &c. The following was handed about as a genuine translation of the Duke's letter on this occasion; therefore, without vouching for its authenticity, it is here inserted, to gratify the curiosity of the reader.
Camp of BuenaVista, 19th of August, 1782. " SIR,
" His Royal Highness Count d'Artois, who has received permission from the King his brother to assist at the siege, as a volunteer in the Combined Army, of which their Most Christian and Catholic Majesties have honoured me with the command, arrived in this camp the 15th instant. This young " Prince has been pleased, in passing through Madrid, to take charge of some letters which had been sent " to that capital from this place, and which are ad dressed to persons belonging to your Garrison : his " royal Highness has desired that I would transmit " them to you, and that to this mark of his goodness and attention, I should add the strongest expressions " of esteem for your person and character. I feel the a greatest pleasure in giving this mark of condescen* " sion in this august Prince, as it furnishes me with a " pretext, which L have been anxiously looking for these two months that I have been in camp, to as" sure you of the highest esteem J have conceived for " your Excellency, of the sincerest desire I feel of de" serving yours, and of the pleasure to which I look forward of becoming your friend, after I shall have u learned to render myself worthy of the honour, by facing you as an enemy. His Highness the Duke de 14 Bourbon, who arrived here twenty four hours after the Count d'Artois, desires also that I should assure you of his particular esteem.
Permit me, Sir, to offer a few trifles for your ta ble, of which I am sure you must stand in need, as I know you live entirely upon vegetables ; I should be glad to know what kind you like best. I shall add a few game for the Gentlemen of your household, and some ice, which I presume will not be disagreeable in the excessive heat of this climate at this season of the year. I hope you will be obliging enough to accept the small portion which I send with this letter.
1 have the honour to be, &c.
B. B. Due DE CRILLON. 41 His Excellency General ELIOTT, 8fc."
The barge which brought the letter and present, ranged at a short distance along the town, from off the Oldmole head to Ragged Staff, where she was stopped by our flag; but being thought rather too near, as they might thence make what observations they chose on our batteries, a shot was fired over her from the Repulse prame: upon which she rowed further out in the Bay, and waited at a considerable distance for the return of our flag. The night of the 19th, the enemy raised the semicircular parapet of the place cTarmes joining the east flank of the St. Carlos's battery, with sandbags eight or nine feet high, apparently for a battery: they also made some considerable additions to the eastern works. The day following, a flag of truce went from the Garrison with an answer to the Duke's polite letter of the preceding day: the Governor's letter was reported to be to the following purport.
I find myself highly
honoured by your obliging Iet ter of yesterday, in which your Excellency was so
kind as to inform me of the arrival in your camp of
his Royal Highness the Count d'Artois, and the Duke
de Bourbon, to serve as volunteers at the siege.
These Princes have shewn their judgment in mak. iC ing choice of a master
in the art of war, whose abi lities cannot fail to form great warriors. I am
over powered with the condescension of his Royal Highness, in suffering some
letters for persons in this town to
be conveyed from
" I return a thousand thanks to your Excellency for " your handsome present of fruits, vegetables, and game. You will excuse me however, I trust, when I assure you, that in accepting your present I have broken through a resolution to which I had faithfully adhered since the beginning of the war: and that was, never to receive or procure, by any means whatever, any provisions or other commodity " for my own private use: so that, without any pre ference, every thing is sold publicly here; and the private soldier, if he have money, can become a pur" chaser, as well as the Governor. I confess, I make it a point of honour to partake both of plenty and scarcity in common with the lowest of my brave fel low soldiers. This furnishes me with an excuse for the liberty I now take, of entreating your Excellency " not to heap on me any more favours of this kind, as in future I cannot convert your presents to my own u private use. Indeed, to be plain with your Excellency, though vegetables at this season are scarce with us, every man has got a quantity proportioned to the labour which he has bestowed in raising them. " The English are naturally fond of gardening and cultivation; and here we find our amusement in it, during the intervals of rest from public duty. The promise which the Duke de Crillon makes, of honouring me in proper time and place with his friendship, lays me under infinite obligations. The interest of our Sovereigns being once solidly settled, 1 shall with eagerness embrace the first opportunity to avail myself of so precious a treasure.
u I have the honour to be, &c.
G. A. ELIOTT.
rt Ms Excellency the DUKE DE CRILLON, §fc"
Our artillery, on the night of the 20th, fired with great vivacity from the upper and lower batteries, in all directions ; for the objects now were so divided, the parallel being upwards of half a mile in extent, that we could not always be certain where they were employed. In the morning we found they had raised the boyau, and made some alterations in the Western works. The enemy's operations were not now carried on in the same slow manner as formerly: the Duke seemed determined to act with vigour, and astonish us by the rapidity with which he raised his batteries. His army was numerous, and his orders (if we may credit report) with respect to materials, unlimited. Every exertion was therefore used to complete them with expedition. Whilst our opponents were so active, we were not on our parts indolent, or inattentive to the defence of the Garrison. The late additions of the enemy made considerable alterations necessary in the works at Willis's, &c. Our parties were therefore augmented, and employed in strengthening the communications, repairing the splinterproofs, and on other important duties of the same nature. Green's lodge and the Royal battery were ordered to be caissoned with shiptimber : the intrenched covertway from the Princess of Wales's lines was continued, and sloping palisades placed under those parts of the linewall, from the Eightgun bastion to the New mole, which were not well flanked from above. A boom of masts was likewise laid from the former to the head of the wateringtank, and anchors sunk in the shallow water between that Bastion and Ragged Staff.
The afternoon of the 21st a carcass from Willis's set fire to some loose fascines in the rear of the Eastern boyau, which soon communicated to the work itself; and the line for a considerable extent was involved in the flames. On the appearance of the smoke our lower batteries immediately opened, and a most animated cannonade was directed from the Garrison. A party of the enemy endeavoured to extinguish the fire; but finding their efforts to stop its progress in vain, they gallantly pulled down the line on each side, to prevent the flames from spreading ; which they at length effected, but not without considerable loss from our artillery. For some time we imagined the enemy would remain silent spectators of the conflagration: but an officer arriving at the lines about six o'clock, their batteries instantly returned the fire, seconded soon after by the new thirteen gun battery near the Tower : the latter, however, after four or five discharges, was silenced by the Oldmolehead howitzers. Our fire was so brisk, and so well served, that it exceeded theirs by four to one. About half past seven the flames burnt out; and our additional ordnance, as well as the enemy's batteries, ceased. In this short firing they returned seven hundred and forty three shot, and thirty eight shells; and we expended in the twenty four hours, including what were discharged on this occasion, ninety barrels of powder. We had three men slightly wounded. In the prior part of the day, thirteen feluccas arrived in the Bay from the east: some imagined they were intended for additional gunboats; others, for debarking troops. The 22d, the enemy had repaired the damage done by the fire the preceding day; but in the afternoon a similar accident had nearly happened: a carcass was thrown into the St. Martin's battery, and took effect; but the guard exerted themselves with such activity and bravery, that it was soon extinguished, although our lower batteries were again open to support it. The enemy were on this day totally silent. The succeeding night, they dressed and raised the new communication, and made some additions to the eastern part of the parallel: they were also at work in their new mortar batteries ; and great quantities of materials were brought down to the lines, and into the advanced works.
The 24th, the inhabitants
in Hardytown began early to remove their bedding, &c. towards Europa: they were
confident, from the information of the last deserters, that the enemy would
again open their batteries, the succeeding day, being the anniversary of
The enemy being heard at work, on the night of the 24th, drew a warm fire from our batteries. In the morning we found they had raised additional traverses to the sandbag epaulement, which now presented a formidable battery of SIXTYFOUR embrasures, divided into four batteries of fourteen embrasures each, and one of eight; leaving a space at the eastern extremity, as we concluded, for mortars. The orignal epaulement remained entire, the additional merlons joining at proper intervals the front work, which served to mask the embrasures till the batteries were finished. Several embrasures of the eightgun battery they had already lined with fascines. Some additions were also made to the St. Carlos's battery, the parapet of which was lengthened towards the west. The following night, the enemy, notwithstanding a warm fire from the Garrison, erected three large magazines, and began a fourth, in the rear of the sixty-four gun battery:. they likewise lined many of the embrasures with fascines, and raised a sandbag traverse to cover the communication from the west flank of the sixty-four gun battery to the parallel.
The 26th, the Queen Charlotte, Leonora, and Charles ordnance ships, with the St. Philip's Castle, were ordered into the Mole to be run ashore till the attack was decided. The seamen belonging to the frigates were employed also, about this time, in carrying sails and yards to erect tents for a camp at Europa, where they were to be stationed when the Governor should think proper to order them on shore. In the evening about ten o'clock came in a deserter, an Irish* man who formerly had been in our service: he swam from the beach beyond Fort St. Philip, and attempted to land at Bayside, but was fired upon by their advanced sentries. He informed us it was reported that the Duke had intended firing on the 25th, but was prevented from finishing his batteries so soon as he expected, by the heavy fire from the Garrison; that in their endeavours to extinguish the flames on the preceding 21st, the party had sustained very considerable loss : a colonel and seventeen men of the regiment to which he belonged were killed. He corroborated the intelligence, by the last deserter, concerning the number of men in camp, and respecting the prevalence of desertion.
We did not discover any material additions the morning of the 27th: a fifth magazine was erected; also several traverses in the rear of the parallel. Another of the battering-ships anchored the same day off Barcelo's battery, apart from the rest: as she swung round with the tide, we had an opportunity of viewing with glasses the starboardside, which we perceived was not finished like the opposite ; the bombproof only extending about three parts over, leaving considerable openings between the strong uprights which supported it from the deck, for the convenient reception of men, provisions, and ammunition. We observed, the same day, a great number of boats ranged along the shore at Algeciras. In the afternoon, the Repulse prame came into the New mole; and the succeeding morning the Fortune and Vanguard were likewise withdrawn from the Bay. At night the enemy erected a number of traverses in rear of their parallel and battery, and finished some interior work, as they had done the preceding night, though we kept up our usual fire.
The enemy's squadron was reinforced on the 28th with six Spanish line of battle ships and a xebeque, under a Commodore, from the west. In the course of the day, two twenty-four pounders, were taken up the hill to the gallery above Farringdon's, for the embrasures already opened; and four hundred additional workmen were ordered into the works. Upwards of six hundred men were at this time daily employed at Willis's, covering and strengthening the flanks; likewise in forming new communications, with splinterproofs, traverses, &c. as the new battery enfiladed most of the old covered ways, and rendered a thorough change necessary in those works, before the artillery could be properly covered. The communications in town and at the south were therefore discontinued, till the above were put in the best state of defence and security. At dusk, three Serjeants were posted upon the NORTH, KING'S and SOUTH bastions, to observe and report the enemy's signals in camp, and along the coast. At night, a deserter from the Walloons came over in the same manner as the last. He reported, that a very strong party was ordered for work that evening ; which induced the Governor to increase the firing from Willis's, the Lines, and lower batteries. He further acquainted us, that we killed numbers of their workmen ; and that the 15th of next month was fixed for opening upon the Garrison; but that all, even the volunteers, were disheartened at the very thoughts of the attack!
Ninety pieces of cannon, he likewise said, were brought into the sixty-four gun battery ; which number was to be increased, to supply the place of those which might be damaged, or overheated. The night of the 28th, the enemy raised more traverses, and began communications to their magazines : a hundred and fiftythree of the former were erected behind the long boyau. They also worked upon the mortar batteries.
It was about this period, that the Spanish twenty-six pounders, with other guns of the same heavy nature, were distributed on the sealine in room of ordnance of smaller calibre, which were mounted in their places against the enemy's batteries. By this disposition, the Duke would not have it in his power to return any of the shot we fired, as his cannon were all twenty-six pounders ; and the Governor was enabled to retaliate on their shipping, those shot which he had received from the land ; annoying them by this means with their own weapons. Towards the conclusion of the month, the influenza had almost disappeared: the workingparties were therefore reinforced, though the heavy duty of the guards would with difficulty permit it: on the 29th, the Engineers paraded upwards of seventeen hundred workmen, including non-commissioned officers. The enemy, on the night of the 29th, raised merlons for four embrasures, joining the semicircular sandbag epaulement, east of St. Carlos's battery. Six battering-ships were at anchor off Barcelo's battery on the 30th. The same day, our seamen were ordered on shore, to encamp at Europa. At night, the Artillery, in addition to their former fire, opened the Grand battery : it did not however prevent the enemy from platforming the sixty-four gun battery, and making further additions to the mortar batteries. They also lined with fascines the embrasures of the semicircular fourgun battery. Many hundred mules were still employed in bringing clay and fascines to the parallel. Our fire was very destructive amongst these animals, as well as their workmen; two, three, and sometimes more of the former, being frequently seen dead on the sands at daybreak.
Our engineers, by the close of the month, "had extended Landport chevauxdefrise to the causeway, and begun the other across the Inundation. Carpenters were also engaged in caissoningthe Royal and Green's lodge batteries, and raising new traverses at those posts. The enemy's squadron in the Bay at this period was as follows: four line of battle ships, and one of fifly guns (on board of which was the flag), two frigates, three cutters, four bomb-ketches, and smaller armed vessels, were at Algeciras: two ships of the line were at anchor off the Orangegrove; and a frigate with an armed brig, was at Cabrita. To these we may add the battering-ships and gunboats. Since two of the men of war had removed nearer the enemy's camp, boats full of soldiers were frequently observed going on board them; and as the guns were seen to be drawn back from the ports, and suddenly run out again, whilst the troops were on board, we suspected that they were practising to work the guns, previous to their embarking on board the battering-ships.
Affairs seemed now drawing
to a crisis: and, as every appearance indicated that the attack would not long
be deferred, the inhabitants, apprehensive of the consequences, were wonderfully
active in securing themselves and their property. The besiegers wrought hard the
night of the 31st: two crosscommunications, lined with fascines, were thrown up
from the long boyau, leading to the parallel; one to the western flank of the
xtyfourgun battery, the other to the westward ot the
The evening of the 1st of
September, a small boat, manned with English sailors, sailed for
We perceived very little alteration in the operations of our opponents on the 3d: they lined the embrasures of the new two gun battery, and added to the cross communications. In the course of the day, their squadron was reinforced with two French men of war from the eastward; which were conducted into the Bay by a Spanish frigate. The 4th, the enemy removed the guns from the two fourteen-gun batteries in the lines, and dismounted most of the ordnance in the mortar batteries; probably to repair the beds and platforms. The removing of the cannon from the former gave us no small pleasure, as we had experienced more fatal effects, during their late wanton bombardment and cannonade from those batteries, than from any other in their lines. The guns, we supposed, were brought forward to the parallel ; for we observed ten in the eastern extremity of the sixty-four gun battery. In the forenoon, 16 boats, with mantlets or barricades in the bow, came from the river Palmones, and anchored off the landing place beyond Point Mala; these, we concluded, were for the sea attack. About sunset, those battering-ships which were finished, removed from Algeciras to the Orangegrove: they sailed rather heavily, and used sweeps, notwithstanding the breeze. About the same time, two grand salutes were fired by the French men of war.
During the night of the
4th, the enemy's parlies masked the six western embrasures of the
Few additions were
perceived on the 6th: some sandbags were placed on the mortar-battery of the
The enemy's works on the land side were now every hour advancing to perfection; but the Duke's attention towards completing them seemed so entirely to engage him, as in a great measure to prevent his taking the prudent precautions necessary for their defence. The advanced batteries in the parallel were either unfinished (though nearly completed), or undergoing such alterations, that the materials in their vicinity greatly obstructed the use of the ordnance which were mounted ; and their batteries in the lines (except the forts) were in a similar situation ; the cannon, to permit the necessary repairs, being totally removed from some, and the mortars drawn back or dismounted in others. The forts, and some few mortar batteries, were therefore the only defences left to protect these immense works from insult and attack. This state of their works presented an opportunity, in some respects not unlike that which General Eliott had embraced in the preceding year, when, by an unexpected sally, he gloriously destroyed the labours of so many months. The honour, however, of causing a second disgrace, was reserved for LieutenantGeneral Boyd, the Lieutenant Governor, who, in the forenoon of the 6th, recommended, by letter to the Governor, the immediate use of redhot shot against the land-batteries of the besiegers. General Eliott acquiesced in the proposal, and immediately ordered Major Lewis, the Commandant of the artillery, to wait on Lieut. General Boyd for his instructions and commands, submitting entirely to him the execution of he attack which he had projected. In consequence of the Governor's assent, preparations were instantly made; and in a short time every thing was properly arranged for the service. In the interval, we must not however omit to take notice of the enemy's operations.
Early the morning of the
7th, several gunboats were discovered off the Oldmole head, retiring from the
Garrison; which we imagined had been sounding under cover of the night. The
Garrison orders of this day contained the following arrangements. " The marine
brigade (which composed a corps of about nine hun dred men) to take rank
on shore according to the King's
regulations; Captain Curtis as colonel with
the rank of brigadier, Captain Gibson as lieutenant colonel, Captain
Bradshaw as major, eight lieutenants
as captains, eighteen midshipmen as ensigns; and the
brigade to mount Europaadvance and Littlebay
guards. A picket of the line to be detached every
evening to the Prince's lines, and an additional sub altern at the same
time to Landport. One captain and
eight privates to be added to Waterport guard,
whence a detachment of a subaltern and thirty men
was to be sent, at sunset, to the Oldmole head;
which at second gunfire was to be joined by one of
the captains. Twelve privates to the main guard.
One serjeant, nine privates, and a gunner, to Ragged staff; detaching a
serjeant and six men, with the
gunner, at retreat beating, to the Wharfhead." The alarmposts were also fixed as
follows: " The 39th flank
companies, to take post on the Northbastion
town: three battalion companies of the same regi ment, the South bastion;
the remaining five, at Ragged Staff; extending towards the eight-gun bastion.
The 72d regiment: right, the Northbastion town:
As the above exhibits the Governor's disposition of the troops, it will not be improper to insert in this place a detail of the guards which mounted in the Garrison at this period, with the strength of the Garrison, and men daily on duty. The strength of the Garrison, with the marine brigade (including the officers), in September, was about seven thousand five hundred men; upwards of four hundred of whom were in the hospital. The number daily upon duty is shown in the following abstract:—
besides many who were constantly employed as orderlies and assistants in the hospital, and in other departments in the Garrison.
In the evening of the 7th, a little before midnight, cwo large lights appeared on the shore west of the Orangegrove, forming a right line with our Grand battery ; and at the same time, two similar fires were *een behind Fort St. Philip ; whence, if a line was produced, it would to appearance have intersected the former, about eight or nine hundred yards to the northwest of the Oldmole head. These unusual signals made many conjecture that the enemy were sounding in that quarter. A few rounds were accordingly fired at intervals in that direction from the North bastion.
By the morning of the 8th,
the preparations, in the department of the artillery, under General Boyd's
directions, were completed ; and the success of the attack in a great measure
depending upon embracing the favourable moment, it was no longer deferred. At
seven o'clopk, the townguards being relieved, the firing commenced from all the
northern batteries which bore upon the western part of the parallel, and was
supported through the day with admirable vivacity. The effect of the redhot shot
and carcasses exceeded our most sanguine expectations. In a few hours, the
The enemy, for near an hour, continued silent spectators of our cannonade. About eight, they fired a few guns from the St. Martin's battery; and between nine and ten, returned our fire from Forts St. Philip and Barbara, with the seven-gun battery in the lines, and soon after from eight new mortar batteries in the parallel. This tardiness in returning our fire, in some degree we attributed to the works being confused with materials, and some of the batteries being deficient in ammunition. It might however be owing to want of discretionary orders, as an officer of rank was observed to enter the lines about the time when their cannonade became general: a reinforcement also marched down from the camp.
The astonishing bravery displayed by the enemy in their repeated attempts to extinguish the flames, could not fail to attract our particular notice. Urged on most probably by emulation, they performed prodigies of valour; so that their loss, under so well directed a fire, must have been very considerable. The French brigade, we afterwards understood, had a hundred and fort killed and wounded. If the Spanish casuals bore an equal proportion, their united loss has greatly exceeded our calculations.
About four o'clock in the
afternoon, the cannonade abated on both sides, and the enemy soon after were
totally silent, though we continued our usual fire. The Garrison had two or
three killed, and several wounded. Lieut. Boag, of the artillery, and Ensign
Gordon, of the 58th regiment, were of the latter number. The former officer had
been wounded before: on this occasion he was pointing a gun from
This unexpected insult,
undoubtedly precipitated the Duke's measures; and by provoking him to the attack
before the preparations in the other departments were ready to combine with him
in a general and powerful effort against the Garrison, served greatly to
frustrate the enterprise. Apprehensive, probably, that, elated by our good
fortune, we might renew our attempts finally to destroy those works which had
escaped, the Duke determined to avoid the blow (which also might be in other
respects fatal in its consequences) by opening his batteries, even in their
unfinished state. Actuated, most probably, by these motives, the embrasures of
the new batteries were unmasked during the night of the 8th ; and the succeeding
morning, at daybreak, we were surprised to find every appearance in their works
for firing upon the Garrison. Two rockets from the forts in the lines were the
signals to begin ; and the cannonade commenced at halfpast five o'clock, with a
volley of about sixty shells from all their mortar batteries in the parallel,
succeeded by a general discharge of their cannon, amounting, in the whole, to
about a hundred and seventy pieces of ordnance, all of large calibre:—a
discharge, I believe, not to be paralleled ! Their firing was powerful, and
entirely directed against our works ; but was not, after the first round,
altogether so tremendous as we had reason to expect from such a train of
artillery. At intervals, from ten to twenty shells were in the air at the same
moment, though their effects were not equal to the numbers expended. The town,
southward of the King's bastion, was little affected; but the northern front,
and linewall leading from the Grandparade to the North bastion, were exceedingly
warm ; and the Lines and Landport were greatly annoyed by the shells from the
howitzers, which were distributed in various parts of their parallel.
Not imagining, from the rough appearance of the enemy's works, that they could possibly retaliate so soon, the guards and pickets at the north end of the Garrison were for some time exposed, and some casuals occurred i but we soon discovered whence we were chiefly annoyed, and consequently became more cautious. Lieut. Wharton, of the 73d regiment, was dangerously wounded at Landport.
Whilst the land-batteries
were thus pouring forth their vengeance upon the northern front, NINE
line of battle ships, including those under the French flag, got under the
Orangegrove, and, passing along the Garrison, discharged several broadsides at
the works, and particularly at a settee which had just arrived under our guns
This mode of annoying us on
all sides exactly corresponded with the accounts which we had received of the
plan of attack dictated by Monsieur d' Arcon, the French engineer, who
superintended the enemy's preparations. They hoped probably to confound and
overwhelm us, by presenting to us destruction under such various forms, and by
the enormous quantity of fire which they poured in upon the Garrison. The
Governor however did not approve of his troops being thus subjected to be
harassed at their pleasure, and resolved therefore, if possible, to put a stop
to their sea attacks. For this purpose the furnaces and grates for heating shot,
at the New mole, were ordered to be lighted; and some arrangements took place in
the ordnance upon Windmill Hill. Towards dusk, the enemy abated in the fire from
their cannon; increasing however in the expenditure of shells, which, being
generally fired with short fuses, broke in the air. This practice seemed well
calculated for the purposes in view. In the day, they could observe with greater
certainty the effect of their shot, and alter as circumstances directed: the
firing at night must unavoidably be less depended upon ; shells were therefore
burst over the heads of our workmen, to prevent them, if possible, from
repairing at night the damage received in the day. It did not nevertheless
obstruct the duties in the department of the engineers; and the artillery were
not hindered from further completing the expense magazines with ammunition. The
97th regiment was now so far recovered, as for some time to assist in the
fatigue and duties of the Garrison ; and this day the officers, with a hundred
men, were added to the general roster. The town guards were also ordered to
The enemy's men of war (as we expected) repeated their attack very early on the morning of the 10th. Each ship carried a light at her mizenpeak; but they did not approach near enough to produce much effect.
We received them with a well supported fire; and the next morning observed one of them at anchor, with her bowsprit unshipped, at Algeciras. The remaining eight renewed their cannonade about nine in the forenoon, and killed two of the marine brigade, and wounded a serjeant of artillery and two others. After they had passed as before, they wore ship, apparently with an intention of continuing their visits, but suddenly put about, and anchored off the Orangegrove. We were afterwards informed, that the discovery of a redhot shot on board one of the ships, was the immediate cause of this hasty manoeuvre.
The enemy continued their firing from the Isthmus, recommencing at morning gunfire on the 10th from their gun-batteries. At seven o'clock, including the expenditure on the 8th, they had discharged five thousand five hundred and twenty-seven shot, and two thousand three hundred and two shells, exclusive of the number fired by the men of war and mortar-boats. The Garrison, on the contrary, took no further notice of them, than to return a few rounds from the terrace batteries at their working parties, who were repairing the damage done on the 8th, and completing the rest of their works. In the course of the day, the Brilliant and Porcupine frigates were scuttled by the navy in the New mole ; and at night the engineers, with a working party, cleared the lines of rubbish, and restored those traverses which had been demolished. At night, the enemy's fire was under the same regulation as the preceding evening.
The next morning, when our guards were relieving, a signal was made at the Tower, near the quarry, under the Queen of Spain's Chair ; and the enemy's cannonade became excessively brisk : fortunately few casuals occurred. Their firing, when this object ceased to amuse them, seemed to be principally directed against the obstructions at Landport, and in that part of the Garrison. Many of the palisades in the covered way were destroyed, and the chevauxdefrise considerably injured: artificers were however constantly detached to repair those breaches ; so that the whole were kept in a better state than might be expected. In the afternoon, we began to conclude, that the attack with the battering-ships was no longer to be deferred. Several detachments of soldiers embarked from the camp, and others were standing on the neighbouring eminences ; which, with the appearance, in the evening, of signals like those which we observed on the night of the 7th, led us to imagine that every preparation was complete ; and the wind at that time blowing gently in the Bay, from the northwest, favoured our conjecture. Landport and Waterport guards were immediately reinforced, the furnaces and grates for heating shot were lighted, and the artillery ordered to man the batteries.
Thus prepared, we waited their appearance (for it seemed to be the general opinion, that the battering-ships would advance, and be moored in the night, that they might be less exposed to annoyance in this duty, and open with greater effect together at daybreak). Our attention was however called off from the Bay to the landside, where the enemy had set fire to the barriers of Bayside and Forbes's: and the whole of those palisades, to the water's edge, were instantly involved in flames. The northern guards and pickets were immediately under arms, and a smart discbarge of musketry was directed upon several parties, which, by the . light of the fire, were discovered in the meadows. The enemy increasing their bombardment, and nothing new happening in consequence of the conflagration, the picket? and guards were remanded under crver j but the artillery continued upon the batteries. We had scarcely recovered from this alarm, before the gun and mortar boats, with the bomb-ketches, began to bombard the northern front, taking their stations off the King's bastion, extending towards Fort St. Philip. They commenced about an hour after midnight; and their fire, added to that of the land-batteries, exceedingly annoyed Waterport and its vicinity. The outpickets were again under arms, but providentially our loss was trifling. We returned a few rounds from the Sealine, but still disregarded the batteries on the Isthmus; excepting when their workmen appeared, or were thought to be employed. Major Lewis, Commandant of the artillery, was unfortunately amongst the wounded. The confinement of this active officer at this critical juncture, might have been highly prejudicial to the service, had not his seconds been of confirmed ability and experience: owing to their united exertions, the several duties in that complicated and important department were conducted with harmony and success.
When the gunboats retired, nothing new occurred till the morning of the 12th: their firing continued to be supported at the average of four thousand rounds in the twenty four hours. About eight o'clock, reports were received from Europa guard, that a large fleet had appeared from the westward. The wind was brisk, and we had scarcely time to form any conjectures concerning them, ere they approached the Bay; and proved to be the COMBINED FLEETS of FRANCE and SPAIN, consisting of seven three deckers, and thirty-one ships of two decks; with three frigates and a number of xebeques, bomb-ketches, and hospital ships ; the whole under the command of ten Admirals, and a broad pen dant. In the afternoon, they were all at anchor between the Orangegrove and Algeciras.
This great accumulation of force could not fail to surprise, if not alarm the Garrison. It appeared as if they meant, previous to their final efforts, to strike, if possible, a terror through their opponents, by displaying before us a more powerful armament, than had probably ever been brought against any fortress. Forty-seven sail of the line, including three inferior two-deckers ; ten battering-ships, deemed perfect in design, and esteemed invincible, carrying 212 guns; innumerable frigates, xebeques, bomb-ketches, cutters, gun and mortar boats, and smaller craft for disembarking men ; these were assembled in the Bay. On the land side were most stupendous and strong batteries and works, mounting 200 pieces of heavy ordnance, and protected by an army of near forty thousand men, commanded by a victorious and active General, of the highest reputation, and animated with the immediate presence of two Princes of the Royal Blood of France, with other dignified personages, and many of their own nobility. Such a naval and military spectacle, most certainly is not to be equalled in the annals of war. From such a combination of power, and favourable concurrent circumstances, it was natural enough that the Nation should anticipate the most glorious consequences. Indeed their confidence in the effect to be produced by the battering-ships, passed all bounds ; and in the .enthusiasm excited by the magnitude of their preparations, it was thought highly criminal even to whisper a doubt of the success.
In drawing these flattering conclusions, the enemy, however, seemed entirely to have overlooked the nature of that force which was opposed to them; for, though the Garrison scarcely consisted of more than seven thousand effective men, including the Marine brigade, they forgot that they were now veterans in this service, had been a long time habituated to the effects of artillery, and were prepared by degrees for the arduous conflict that awaited them. We were, at the same time, commanded by Officers of approved courage, prudence and ability ; eminent for all the accomplishments of their profession, and in whom we had unbounded confidence. Our spirits too were not a little elevated by the success attending the recent practice of firing redhot shot, which in this attack, we' hoped, would enable us to bring our labours to a period, and relieve us from the tedious cruelty of a vexatious blockade.
Before the Garrison had well discovered the force of their new visitors, an occurrence happened, which, though trifling in itself, I trust, I shall be excused for inserting. When the van of the Combined Fleet had entered the Bay, and the soldiers in town were attentively viewing the ships, alleging, amongst other reasons for their arrival, that the British fleet must undoubtedly be in pursuit; on a sudden, a general huzza was given, and all, to a man, cried out, the British Admiral was certainly in their rear, as a flag for a fleet was hoisted upon our signal house pole. For some moments the flattering idea was indulged ; but our hopes were soon damped by the sudden disappearance of the signal. We were afterwards informed by the guard at that post, that what our creative fancies had imagined to be a flag, was nothing more than an Eagle, which, after several evolutions, had perched a few minutes on the westernmost pole, and then flew away towards the east. Though less superstitious than the ancient Romans, many could not help fancying it a favourable omen to the Garrison ; and the event of the succeeding day justified the prognostication.
In the morning of the 12th, the Governor reinforced the pickets of the line ; nine of which, in future, were stationed in town, and distributed as follows ; two at Waterport, two at Landport, two in the Lines, and the remaining three in the picketyard, with the field officer of the town district. The other picket of the line was stationed at the southward. The following return specifies the strength of the pickets at this period.
In the evening, about dusk, a number of men were observed to embark from the Orangegrove, on board the battering-ships; which, with the presence of the fleet, and the wind blowing favourably, induced us to conclude that the important attack was not long to be deferred.
The enemy's cannonade was continued, almost on the same scale as the preceding days, during the night of the 12th. The next morning, we observed the Combined fleet had made some new arrangements in their position or moorings; and that the remaining two battering-ships had joined the others at the Orangegrove, where their whole force seemed to be assembled. About a quarter before seven o'clock, some motions were observed amongst their shipping ; and soon after, the battering-ships got under way, with a gentle breeze from the northwest, standing to the southward, to clear the men of war; and were attended by a number of boats. As our Navy were constantly of opinion that the ships would be brought before the Garrison in the night, few suspected that the present manoeuvres were preparatory to their finally entering on the interesting enterprise: but observing a crowd of spectators on the beach, near Point Mala, and upon the neighbouring eminences, and the ships edging down towards the Garrison, the Governor thought it would be imprudent any longer to doubt it. The Townbatteries were accordingly manned, and the grates and furnaces for heating shot ordered to be lighted.
Thus prepared for their reception, we had leisure to notice the enemy's evolutions. The ten battering-ships, after leaving the men of war, wore to the north; and a little past nine o'clock, bore down in admirable order for their several stations ; the Admiral in a two decker, mooring about nine hundred yards off the King's bastion; the others successively taking their places to the right and left of the nagship, in a masterly manner : the most distant being about eleven or twelve hundred yards from the Garrison. Our Artillery allowed the enemy every reasonable advantage, in permitting them, without molestation, to choose their distance ; but as soon as the first ship dropped her anchors, which was about a quarter before ten o'clock, that instant our firing commenced. The enemy were completely moored in little more than ten minutes. The cannonade than became in a high degree tremendous. The showers of shot and shells which were directed from their land-batteries, the battering-ships, and, on the other hand, from the various works of the Garrison, exhibited a scene, of which perhaps neither the pen nor the pencil can furnish a competent idea. It is sufficient to say, that FOUR HUNDRED PIECES of the heaviest artillery were playing at the same moment: an instance which has scarcely occurred in any siege since the invention of those wonderful engines of destruction.
After some hours cannonade, the battering-ships were found to be no less formidable than they had been represented. Our heaviest shells often rebounded from their tops, whilst the thirty-two pound shot seemed incapable of making any visible impression upon their hulls. Frequently we flattered ourselves they were on fire ; but no sooner did the smoke appear, than, with the most perserving intrepidity, men were observed applying water, from their engines within, to those places whence the smoke issued. These circumstances, with the prodigious cannonade which they maintained, gave us reason to imagine that the attack would not be so soon decided, as, from our recent success against their land-batteries, we had fondly expected. Even the Artillery themselves, at this period, had their doubts of the effect of the redhot shot, which began to be used about twelve, but were not general till between one and two o'clock. The enemy's cannon at the commencement were too much elevated; but about noon their firing was powerful, and well directed. Our casuals then became numerous ; particularly on those batteries north of the King's bastion, which were warmly annoyed by the enemy's flanking and reverie fire from the land. Though so vexatiously annoyed from the Isthmus, our Artillery totally disregarded their opponents in that quarter, directing their sole attention to the battering-ships, the furious and spirited opposition of which served to excite our people to more animated exertions. A fire, more tremendous if possible than ever, was therefore directed from the Garrison. Incessant showers of hot balls, carcasses, and shells of every species, flew from all quarters; and as the masts of several of the ships were shot away, and the rigging of all in great confusion, our hopes of a favourable and speedy decision began to revive.
About noon their mortar-boats and bomb-ketches attempted to second the attack from the ships ; but the wind having changed to the southwest, and blowing a smart breeze, with a heavy swell, they were prevented taking a part in the action. The same reason also hindered our gunboats from flanking the battering-ships from the southward.
For some hours, the attack and defence were so equally well supported, as scarcely to admit any appearance of superiority in the cannonade on either side, The wonderful construction of the ships seemed to bid defiance to the powers of the heaviest ordnance. In the afternoon, however, the face of things began to change considerably. The smoke which had been observed to issue from the upper part of the flagship appeared to prevail, notwithstanding the constant application of water; and the Admiral's Second was perceived to be in the same condition. Confusion was now apparent on board several of the vessels ; and by the evening their cannonade was considerably abated. About seven or eight it almost totally ceased, excepting from one or two ships to the northward, which, from their distance, had suffered little injury.
When their firing began to slacken, various signals were made from the southernmost ships; and as the evening advanced, many rockets were thrown up, to inform their friends (as we afterwards learned) of their extreme danger and distress. These signals were immediately answered, and several boats were seen to row round the disabled ships. Our artillery, at this period, must have caused dreadful havock amongst them. An indistinct clamour, with lamentable cries and groans, proceeded (during the short intervals of cessation) from all quarters; and a little before midnight, a wreck floated in, upon which were twelve men, who only, out of threescore which were on board their launch, had escaped. These circumstances convinced us that we had gained an advantage over the enemy; yet we did not conceive that the victory was so complete as the succeeding morning evinced. Our firing was therefore continued, though with less vivacity : but as the artillery, from such a hard fought day, exposed to the intense heat of a warm sun, in addition to the harassing duties of the preceding night, were much fatigued ; and as it was impossible to foresee what new objects might demand their service the following day; the Governor, about six in the evening, when the enemy's fire abated, permitted the majority of the officers and men to be relieved by a picket of a hundred men from the Marine brigade, under the command of Lieut. Trentham; and officers and non-commissioned officers of the artillery, were stationed on the different batteries, to direct the sailors in the mode of firing the hotshot.
About an hour after midnight, the batteringship which had suffered the greatest injury, and which had been frequently on fire the preceding day, was completely in flames ; and by two o'clock, she appeared as one continued blaze from stem to stern. The ship to the southward was also on fire, but did not burn with so much rapidity. The light thrown out on all sides by the flames, enabled the artillery to point th£ guns with the utmost precision, whilst the Rock and neighbouring objects were highly illuminated; forming, with the constant flashes of our cannon, a mingled scene of sublimity and terror. Between three and four o'clock, six other of the battering-ships indicated the efficacy of redhot shot; and the approaching day now promised us one of the completest defensive victories on record.
Brigadier Curtis, who was encamped with his brigade at Europa, being informed that the enemy's ships were in flames, and that the calmness of the sea would permit his gunboats to act, marched, about three o'clock, with a detachment to the New mole: and drawing up his boats in such manner as to flank the battering-ships, compelled their boats to abandon them. As the day approached, and the Garrison fire abated, the Brigadier advanced, and captured two launches. These boats attempted to escape; but a shot killing and wounding several men on board one of them, they surrendered and were conducted to Ragged Staff. The Brigadier being informed by the prisoners, that many men were, through necessity, left by their friends on board the ships, he generously determined to rescue them from the inevitable death which seemed to impend. Some of these infatuated wretches, nevertheless (it is said) refused at first the deliverance which was tendered to them, preferring the chanco of that death which appeared inevitable, to being put to the sword; which they had been persuaded would be the consequence, if they submitted to the Garrison. Being left however some moments to the horrors of their fate, they beckoned the boats to return, and resigned themselves to the clemency of their conquerors.
Whilst the navy were thus humanely relieving their distressed enemy, the flames reached the magazine of one of the battering-ships to the northward, which blew up, about five o'clock, with a dreadful explosion. In a quarter of an hour following, another in the centre of the line, met with a similar fate. The wreck from the latter spread to a vast extent, and involved our gunboats in the most imminent danger. One was sunk, but the crew were saved. A hole was forced through the bottom of the Brigadier's boat, his coxswain killed, and the strokesman wounded; and for some time they were obscured in the cloud of smoke.
After this very fortunate escape, it was deemed prudent to withdraw towards the Garrison, to avoid the peril arising from the blowing up of the remaining ships. The Brigadier however visited two other ships in his return, and landed nine officers, two priests, and three hundred and thirty-four private soldiers and seamen, all Spaniards; which, with one officer and eleven Frenchmen, who had floated in the preceding evening, made the total number saved amount to three hundred and fifty-seven. Many of the prisoners were severely, and some of them dreadfully wounded. They were instantly, on being brought on shore, conveyed to our hospital, and every remedy administered necessary for their different cases.
During the time that the marine brigade were encountering every danger in their endeavours to save an enemy from perishing, the batteries on the Isthmus (which ceased the preceding evening, most likely for want of ammunition, and which had opened again upon the Garrison on the morning of the 14th) maintained a warm fire upon the town, which killed and wounded several men; and three or four shells burst in the air, over the place where their countrymen were landed. This ungenerous proceeding could not escape the observation of the spectators in their camp ; and orders probably were sent to the Lines for the batteries to cease, as they were silent about ten o'clock. '
Notwithstanding the efforts of the marine brigade, in relieving the terrified victims from the burning ships, several unfortunate men could not be removed. The scene at this time exhibited, was as affecting, as that which had been presented in the act of hostility, had been terrible and tremendous. Men crying from amidst the flames for pity and assistance ; others, on board those ships where the fire had made little progress, imploring and signs of despair; whilst several, equally exposed to the dangers of the opposite element, trusted themselves, on various parts of the wreck, to the chance of paddling to the shore. A felucca belonging to the enemy approached from the Orangegrove, probably with the intention of relieving these unfortunate persons; but, jealous of her motives, the Garrison suspected that she came to set fire to one of the battering-ships which appeared little injured, and obliged her to retire. Of the six ships which were still in flames, three blew up before eleven o'clock; the other three burnt to the water's edge, the magazines being wetted by the enemy before the principal officers quitted the ships. The Admiral's flag was on board one of the latter, and was consumed with the vessel. The remaining two battering-ships, we flattered ourselves, might be saved as glorious trophies of our success; but one of them unexpectedly burst out into flames, and in a short time blew up with a terrible report; and Captain Gibson representing it as impracticable to preserve the other, it was burnt in the afternoon, under his directions. Thus the navy put a finishing hand to this signal defensive victory.
During the hottest period of the enemy's cannonade, the Governor was present on the King's bastion, whilst Lieut. General Boyd* took his station upon the Southbastion, animating the Garrison by then presence, and encouraging them to emulation. The exertions and activity of the brave artillery, in this wellfought contest, deserve the highest commendations. To their skill, perseverance, and courage, with the zealous assistance of the Line, (particularly the corps in town, the 39th and 72d regiments), was Gibraltar indebted for its safety against the combined powers, by sea and land, of France and Spain; and the marine brigade, though they had not so considerable a share in the duties of the batteries, yet merit the warmest praises for their generous intrepidity in rescuing their devoted enemies from amidst the flames.
Whilst the enemy were cool,
and their ships had received little damage, their principal objects were the
King's bastion, and Linewall, north of
" gallantly defended, as I
know it will be ably executed; " and may I live to see it resist THE UNITED
EFFORTS or " FRANCE AND SPAIN iable, when they discovered that we fired them
with the same precision and
vivacity as cold shot. " u Admiral
The distance of the
battering-ships from the Garrison was exactly such as our artillery could have
wished. It required so small an elevation, that almost every shot to ok effect;
and the cannon thus elevated, did not require the shot to be wadded:—a
circumstance not unimportant ; as the time, which at point blank would have been
expended in doubly wadding, was employed in keeping up the cannonade with greater
briskness. The damage done to our works held no proportion with the violence of
the attack, and the excessive cannonade which they had sustained. The merlons of
the different batteries were disordered, and the flank of
The enemy, in this action, had more than three hundred pieces of heavy ordnance in play ; whilst the Garrison had only eighty cannon, seven mortars, and nine howitzers in opposition. Upwards of eight thousand three hundred rounds (more than half of which were hot shot), and seven hundred and sixteen barrels of powder, were expended by our artillery. What quantity of ammunition was used by the enemy could never be ascertained. The following was handed about as an authentic list of the battering-ships.
The afternoon of the 14th, several thousand men marched with colours from the enemy's camp to their lines; and many ships in the Combined Fleet loosed their topsails. These motions, and the circumstance of many of their boats being manned, caused various speculations in the Garrison. Whatever their future operations might be, it was prudent to be on our guard : the artillery were ordered therefore to remain upon the batteries, and the furnaces for heating shot to be continued lighted, lest the enemy should be prompted to put all to the stake, and attempt the Garrison by a general attack. It was indeed afterwards rumoured, that such a design had been in contemplation, but was overruled by the Duke, who was of opinion it would be exposing the fleet and army to inevitable destruction.
Notwithstanding this recent defeat, the enemy recommenced their cannonade from the Isthmus; expending, during the remainder of the month, from one or two thousand rounds in the twenty four hours; diminishing gradually, and confining their shells to the night. Their operations on the land side were still carried on; and if we were able to form any conjectures at this period, from their motions to the northward, their late misfortune did not seem at all to damp their hopes of succeeding against the Garrison. A flag of truce went on the 15th with letters from our prisoners to the camp; and about two o'clock in the afternoon, the Combined Fleet handed in their topsails. Some hours afterwards they manned their yards, and fired a grand salute. We were at a loss to account for these singular rejoicings. Lieut. M'Namara, of the 72d regiment, was wounded the same day at Willis's, where our working parties were employed clearing away the rubbish from the batteries.
The Garrison having experienced the powerful efficacy of redhot shot, and the Governor thinking it expedient to have a continual supply of them, the engineers erected kilns (similar to those used in burning lime, but smaller) in various parts of the Garrison. They were large enough to heat upwards of one hundred in an hour and a quarter ; and by this invention hot shot were, if thought necessary, kept continually ready for use. Our former method of heating the shot, was either in the grates and furnaces made for that purpose, or by piling them in a corner of some old house adjoining the batteries (as was principally the practice on the 13th), and surrounding them with faggots, pieces of timber, and small coal. By those means, the artificers were enabled to supply the artillery with a constant succession for the ordnance. Answers were received, in the afternoon of the 16th, to the prisoners* letters. At night, a great number of signals were made by the Combined Fleet. Shot were therefore again ordered to be heated, and the artillery cautioned to be ready to man the batteries. The 39th and 72d regiments also lay fully accoutred. The same night, the sailors recovered the gunboat which had been sunk on the morning of the 14th. As the prisoners informed us, that intelligence had been received, previous to the attack of the battering-ships, that Lord Howe, with the British fleet, was preparing to sail for the relief of Gibraltar, the Navy began to prepare to raise the Brilliant and Porcupine frigates, which had been scuttled in the New mole; but their efforts, for some time, were not attended with success.
The Spanish officers, prisoners, with the Frenchmen who were taken up from the wreck upon the night of the 13th, were sent to the camp on the evening of the 17th. The remaining Spanish privates were encamped upon Windmill Hill, and given, in charge to the Corsicans. Of the number who had been saved from, the battering-ships, were an officer, a captain of marines, and twenty-nine privates, who were wounded. Most of these recovered in our hospital; but the officer, notwithstanding every assistance and attention, died on the 17th. He was buried, the succeeding day, with all military honours, attended by the grenadiers of the 39th regiment.
When we reflected of what vast importance this grand enterprise was esteemed, and what immense sums had been expended in the ingenious and formidable preparations, it was observed, with no small surprise, by many who were present when the prisoners were landed, that the majority of them seemed to be past that age when the vital powers are supposed to be in their greatest vigour. In an expedition where youth and strength best promised a favourable issue, this impolitic arrangement certainly could not pervade the whole! The Spaniards, from their dark complexion and scanty diet, have naturally, even when young, an aged look i and yet our observations seemed confirmed by other indubitable facts. Several bodies were thrown ashore, all of which seemed advanced in years ; and one in particular appeared, from his grey beard and lean visage, past sixty. This corpse was horribly mutilated, and, with the miserable objects then under the care of our surgeons, convinced us, by ocular proof, of the dreadful havock which our artillery must have made in the latter part of the day.
The westerly wind, which had cast up these unfortunate men, threw also on shore many trifling curiosities, and some things of value, which had floated on the surface of the Bay, after the battering-ships had blown up. Large wax candles, such as are usually soldier of the 73d regiment, removing rubbish from the Prince's lines, fell from the extremity, and was killed. All officer with a small detachment was immediately ordered from Landport, to bring in the body. This was discovered by the enemy's advanced parties, who opposed it by a brisk discharge of musketry in regular platoons. Queen's lines guard protected our party, who returned with the body without any casualties. The steady and animated fire supported by the enemy, convinced us of the strength of their advanced posts. Nothing extraordinary, however, happened during the night after this occurrence.
The Governor still continued the party at Lower Forbes's under the Lines. On the night of the 23d, they discovered two men near the stone sentry box, within the ruins of the old barrier. The Serjeant's orders ("the reader may remember) were, not to fire but in his own defence, or in case of an alarm: but, observing them measuring, with a chain, the distance between the foot of the Rock and the Inundation, and thinking they might be persons of some consequence, and probably possessed of memorandums which might discover the motives of their manoeuvres, he determined in this case to fire: they in return, alarmed at his preparations, suddenly appeared on the defensive; but the serjeant was so lucky as to kill the principal person, and the other ran off. The body was instantly brought in, but no papers of consequence were found about him. He was thought to have been a volunteer. The Serjeant, who was a Cadet in General Reden's regiment, was soon afterwards promoted to a commission ; but whether for this service, or in his tour I cannot inform my reader.
The enemy's firing seemed now to be directed under the following regulations. About five or six in the morning, when the night pickets were retiring from their posts, the cannonade commenced, and continued pretty brisk till noon. From twelve to two o'clock there was the usual intermission; for, as I have remarked before, they would not be deprived of their customary nap, or siesta. In the decline of the day, they discharged more or less, as their caprice dictated. About seven in the evening, their cannon ceased, and their mortars took up the fire, continuing it till daybreak of the succeeding day. The ammunition now expended was generally from four to five and sometimes six hundred shells in the twenty four hours, with from six hundred to a thousand shot. The profusion of the former had greatly diminished the immense piles in their artillery park, and their howitzers were not so lavish of their troublesome shells as they had been.
The 24th the Brilliant frigate was raised after much trouble. The same day about noon, upwards of fifty boats, which had been assembled for the attack, returned to the westward, and the mantletboats retired up the river Palmones. The departure of the former, with others which had left the Bay the two preceding days, reduced their small craft to a very trifling number.