The second volume of a two volume anniversary history of the early Royal Marines
The Royal Marines can trace their origins back to the formation of ‘The Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot’ in 1664 which means the publication of this Leonaur edition of the history of the Royal Marines arrives appropriately in the 350th anniversary year of the birth of the corps. The Royal Marines as we know them today were formed in 1755 and since that time they have distinguished themselves in many conflicts fought by the British to the present day. Numerous books have been written about the exploits of the Royal Marines, particularly in the 20th century, but this special two volume edition concentrates on the earliest period of their history. The presence of red-coated marines was inseparable from the blue uniform of their naval comrades during the great age of sail and this book covers that period in detail including the American War of Independence. The great contest of the early 19th century was against Revolutionary, Consulate and Napoleon Bonaparte’s First Empire of the French. The Royal Marines fought in every major naval engagement of that long war, all of which are detailed in these pages together with many minor engagements, the War of 1812 and the imperial campaigns including the Chinese Opium Wars.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
At 3 h. 30 m. a.m. of the 19th, the battalion landed about seven miles below the town, and as the column advanced the boats of the squadron moved parallel with it. On the approach of the British the enemy evacuated the place, in which a quantity of stores, provisions, and tobacco were captured. On the following evening the troops re-embarked, having one sergeant and two privates wounded.
On the 20th the battalion proceeded up the River Nominy, and having landed and taken up a strong position in advance of the place, the stores were carried off, and the troops, after re-embarking, moved down the river, near the entrance of which they again landed in the rear of a large building, said to be occupied by a body of militia and some field-pieces. The enemy fled on the approach of the British, who after burning the place returned to their respective ships, accompanied by two valuable schooners which had been captured. In consequence of some poisoned spirits having been found, placed in the way of the men at Nominy, the admiral on his return was induced to order the destruction of the houses on both sides the river.
On the 23rd the battalion entered a small creek in Clement’s Bay, and after some sharp skirmishing brought away four schooners. Having landed on the 26th a few miles from the entrance of Machodic Creek, they halted at a ferry about two miles higher up, while the boats captured six schooners, which with 100 head of cattle were brought off, after some skirmishing with the enemy.
On the 30th they landed, and entered the town of Chaptico, where they found a quantity of forage and tobacco; and after passing two nights in the boats, the battalion returned to their respective ships.
On the 2nd of August the squadron dropped down the Potomac, near to the entrance of the Yocomico River, which the rear-admiral entered on the 3rd. The battalion landed under the fire of two field-pieces, and as the men had to wade a considerable distance to the shore, the guns were withdrawn before the British could reach them; but the Americans were rapidly pursued by skirmishers under Lieutenant Athelstan Stephens, supported by the battalion, and after an advance of nine miles one gun was captured. Several houses, which had been converted into military depots, were burnt; and on the return of the marines to the place of debarkation, three companies were detached to the left, who having entered the town of Kensall, captured four schooners, together with a large quantity of tobacco and other stores. This service was accomplished with the small loss of one killed and one wounded.
On the 7th the rear-admiral proceeded to the Caan River, a few miles below the Yocomico. At daylight the battalion moved towards the shore, and the boats having grounded at a considerable distance from it, the troops had to wade to the attack of a battery mounting three field-pieces; but the enemy soon fled, leaving a quantity of ammunition behind them, which, with the battery, was destroyed, and four schooners were brought off.
Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, with the staff of the late second battalion, having joined from Canada, that officer took the command, and the third henceforward became the second battalion. On the 12th the rear-admiral proceeded up St. Mary’s Creek, and the marines landed in various parts of the country about that extensive inlet.
On the 14th Sir Alexander Cochrane, the commander-in-chief, joined the squadron off the mouth of the Potomac, and on the 17th, Rear-Admiral Malcolm having arrived with a division of the army from France, consisting of the 4th, 21st, 44th, and 85th regiments, under command of Major-General Ross, the whole proceeded to the Patuxent, situated about twenty miles further up the bay. In the meantime Captain J. A. Gordon, in the Seahorse frigate, had been sent up the Potomac to bombard Fort Washington, situated on the left bank of the river, and about fourteen miles below the federal city; whilst the Menelaus, Captain Sir Peter Parker, proceeded up the Chesapeake, above Baltimore, to create a diversion in that quarter.
It being determined that the expedition should proceed up the Patuxent in their attack upon Washington, the ships moved up as high as the water would admit; and on the 19th and 20th the troops, amounting to about 4000 men, landed at Benedict, when the battalion was brigaded with the 21st Fusiliers, and bivouacked for the night near Nottingham.
On the 21st the army marched to Nottingham, and Rear-Admiral Cockburn, taking with him the armed boats of the fleet, having on board the marines from the ships under Captain Robyns, and the marine artillery under Captain James H. Harrison, proceeded up the river to attack Commodore Barney’s flotilla, and at the same time to afford supplies and protection to the army as it moved up the right bank. On opening Pig-point, the flotilla under the American commodore was discovered, and the British boats advanced as rapidly as possible; but on nearing the enemy, the headmost vessel, bearing the commodore’s pendant, was observed to be on fire, and she soon afterwards exploded, as did fifteen out of the sixteen remaining gunboats, and the one which was not burnt was captured.
The destruction of this flotilla having been completed, the army encamped on the 22nd at the town of Marlborough, situated about four miles up the western branch of the Patuxent, and not more than eight from the American Army under General Winder, at Long Old-fields, where they had been joined by Commodore Barney and the men from his flotilla. Rear-Admiral Cockburn, having left Pig-point on the morning of the 23rd, crossed over with the ships’ marines and the divisions of seamen to Mount Calvert, and proceeded by land to the British encampment at Upper Marlborough. The complete success that had attended the expedition thus far, determined Major-General Ross to make an immediate attempt upon the city of Washington, distant about sixteen miles.
Early in the morning of the 23rd, the army moved forward in three brigades; the light consisting of the 85th regiment, the light companies of the 4th, 44th, and of the Royal Marines, a detachment of guns and rockets under Lieutenant John Lawrence with part of the marine artillery: the whole commanded by Colonel Thornton. The right brigade was composed of the 4th and 44th regiments; and the left of the 21st Fusiliers and second battalion of Royal Marines; and 200 seamen, under Captain Wainwright, were attached to the field-guns. According to one account, the enemy’s force amounted to 16,300 men; but an American writer, in giving the details of that army, states that, including 600 seamen, the whole force did not exceed 7600 men, supported by 23 pieces of artillery. At 11 h. 30 m. a.m. the British arrived on the heights of Bladensburg, and found the American Army drawn up in two lines upon a very commanding eminence, on the north side of the turnpike-road leading from Bladensburg to Washington.
The light brigade was exposed to a heavy fire in crossing the bridge, but the enemy immediately retired, and fled towards the capital, leaving 10 pieces of cannon and 120 prisoners in the hands of the British, whose loss amounted to one captain, 2 lieutenants, 6 Sergeants, and 56 rank and file killed; 2 lieutenant-colonels, 1 major, 1 captain, 14 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 10 sergeants, and 156 rank and file wounded. Total: 64 killed, and 185 men wounded. As soon as the troops were refreshed, the major-general moved forward the left brigade; and as the British entered the city, the American Army quitted it on the opposite side. A little musketry from one of the houses in the town, which killed the general’s horse, was the only resistance made by the enemy.