Volume one of possibly the most comprehensive account of the Royal Navy in action during the 19th century
For a century, from the close of the Napoleonic Wars to the Battle of Jutland during the First World War, the Royal Navy fought very few major battles. Indeed, as the 19th century progressed and the British Empire inexorably expanded its global holdings and influence the role of the British navy became defined by three principal activities. The first—which is not the subject of these books—concerned exploration and discovery; the second focussed on international maritime policing particularly in the eradication of piracy and the slave trade; and the third concerned the Royal Navy’s engagement in a plethora of small expeditions, campaigns and wars, which either involved short decisive actions afloat or employed naval brigades in shore actions with or without naval guns. In this period there were, of course, some larger conflicts and these are included in these three volumes as the chronology unfolds. The Royal Navy’s military activities are covered in these volumes—edited from a multi-volume history of the Royal Navy—concisely but thoroughly, making them essential resources for all those with an interest in the subject. All volumes include maps and illustrations original to these Leonaur editions.
Volume one comprehensively covers the period 1816 to 1856, when the Royal Navy was in action during the First Anglo-Burmese War, the Greek War of Independence, the First Opium War, the First Maori War, the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the ‘Ti-Ping’ Rebellion and the Crimean War among others, together with a multitude of minor actions.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
In the meantime, the Naval Brigade ashore did excellent service. Up to October 20th, it lost 12 killed and 58 wounded. Among the killed were Lieuts. Cavendish Bradstreet Hore Ruthven (London), and George Herbert Harris Greathed (Britannia); and, among the wounded, Capt. William Moorsom (Firebrand), Lieuts. John Norris Norman (Trafalgar), and Alfred Mitchell (Diamond), and Mate Thomas Bullock (actg.) (Trafalgar). It took part in the bombardment with some naval 32-prs., a few 68’s from the Terrible, a couple of 13-inch mortars, and half a dozen Lancaster guns, (including two from the Beagle), and it also worked some of the 24-prs. of the military siege train, until those guns were disabled.
On October 18th, Captain William Peel seized a live shell which, with burning fuse, fell in his battery, and flung it over the parapet. It burst before it touched the ground outside. At Lord Raglan’s desire, Dundas reinforced the brigade, after the bombardment, with 410 officers and seamen, and placed Commander Lord John Hay (3), of the Wasp, 14, screw, under the orders of Captain Lushington. At Eupatoria, Captain Brock, supported by the Leander, 50, Captain George St. Vincent King, the Megaera, 6, screw. Commander John Ormsby Johnson, and other vessels, held his own, though threatened, and occasionally attacked, by large bodies of cavalry, with guns.
In repelling one of these attacks, Lieut. William Henry Pym (Firebrand), and Mids. Lord Edward Henry Cecil (Leander) distinguished themselves. The Sidon, 22, paddle, Captain George Goldsmith, and Inflexible, 6, paddle, Commander George Otway Popplewell, with the French vessels Cacique and Caton, remained in Odessa Bay, to prevent the Russians there from communicating by sea with the Crimea. (Dundas to Admlty., Oct. 13th, 18th and 23rd.)
The famous cavalry action at Balaclava was fought on October 25th. On the following day the Russians made a determined sortie against the division of General Sir de Lacy Evans. Their advance threatened the right Lancaster Battery, which was held by actg. Mate William Nathan Wrighte Hewett, of the Beagle, and a party of seamen; and at 300 yards they poured a hot musketry fire into the work. Owing to some error, word was passed to spike the gun and to retreat. Hewett, doubting whether the order came from Captain Lushington, commanding the brigade, not only stuck to his post, but also, aided by his men and by some soldiers, slewed his gun round in the direction of the enemy on his flank, blew away the parapet of the battery, and opened a fire which materially assisted in obliging the Russians to retreat. Hewett was at once made actg. lieutenant, and was afterwards officially promoted as from the day of his brave action. Later, he was given the Victoria Cross.
On November 7th, Vice-Admiral Dundas proposed to Vice-Admiral Hamelin to destroy the remaining storehouses and magazines at Odessa; and preparations were being made to that end when a dispatch from England arrived, directing the naval commander-in-chief not to undertake any operations against the enemy without the concurrence of Lord Raglan; while on the same day Raglan and Canrobert decided that:
'The presence of steam war-vessels for the purpose of bombarding Odessa would, under existing circumstances, be much more disadvantageous than useful.' (Parl. Paper, ordered to be printed June 11th, 1855.)
A project of Dundas’s for the occupation of Kertch was put forward at about the same time; but could not be carried out owing to the inability of the generals to spare the necessary troops for the operation. On the other hand, Dundas was urged from home to send some of his steamers to the pastern extremity of the Gulf of Perekop so that their guns, by sweeping the western side of the isthmus of that name, might interfere with the passage of troops and supplies into the Crimea by that route. The vice-admiral knew that this plan was impracticable; but, to satisfy the Admiralty, he detached the Spitfire, 5, paddle, Commander Thomas Abel Bremage Spratt, to take soundings near the head of the Gulf. Spratt, who returned on December 13th, reported that the Spitfire, though only a small sloop, could not approach the shore within twenty miles, and that even her boats could not approach it within four miles. He also reported that thirty miles east of the isthmus there was a bridge across a narrow part of Lake Sivatch; and that across the bridge, not across the isthmus, lay the chief military road between Kherson and Simpheropol.
Towards noon, on December 6th, some excitement was caused by the sudden sortie from Sebastopol of the steam frigate Vladimir, and the steam corvette Chersonese. They came out by the passage which had been left through the line of sunken ships, and headed at great speed to the W.S.W., firing at the batteries on the extreme left of the French attack, and at the French look-out vessel Mégère. The latter was presently reinforced by the French dispatch-vessel Dauphin, and by the Valorous, 16, paddle, Captain Claude Henry Mason Buckle; and, before those craft, the Russians turned and withdrew, after having made what was, no doubt, a useful reconnaissance.