The first 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.
On the 3rd of January 1801, at 9h. 30 m. p.m., five boats of the 38-gun frigate Melpomene, Captain Sir Charles Hamilton, manned with 55 volunteers from that ship, 5 from a transport in company, and Lieutenant Christie with 35 men from the African corps, under the orders of Lieutenant Thomas Dick, assisted by Lieutenant Wm. Palmer and Lieutenant Wm. Vyvian of the marines, proceeded to the attack of a French 18-gun brig-corvette and an armed schooner, at the entrance of the Senegal River. Having passed the heavy surf on the bar in safety, and without discovery by the battery on the point, the boats at 11 p.m. had arrived within a few yards of the brig; when by a single discharge of her 2 bow guns, two of them were sunk, and Lieutenant Palmer and 7 seamen were killed.
Notwithstanding this loss, the three remaining boats dashed alongside, boarded, and after a severe contest of twenty minutes carried the French brig Sénegal, of 18 long eight and twelve-pounder carronades and 60 men, whilst the schooner cut her cables and took shelter under the battery. The prize was immediately got under sail, but having unfortunately grounded on the bar, after several attempts to get her or! she was abandoned; and the three boats succeeded in reaching the ship across a heavy surf, and exposed to a severe fire of grape and musketry from the adjoining batteries. In this gallant affair Lieutenant Palmer, Lieutenant of Marines Wm. Vyvian, and 9 men were killed, and 18 wounded.
On the 19th of February, at 4 p. m., the 36-gun frigate Phoebe, Captain Robert Barlow, when about two leagues to the eastward of Gibraltar, discovered and chased a strange ship near Ceuta, steering up the Mediterranean under a press of sail. At 7 h. 30 m. p. m., the stranger finding an action unavoidable, shortened sail; and on the Phoebe firing a shot at her, a broadside was returned from the French 40-gun frigate Africaine, Commodore Le Saulnier, having 400 troops on board, bound to Egypt. The Phoebe steering a parallel course with the enemy, continued engaging within pistol-shot until 9 h. 30 m. p.m., when the Africaine being nearly unrigged, having five feet water in the hold, and having sustained a loss of 200 killed and 143 wounded, out of a crew of 715 men, struck her colours. Of the crew of 239 on board the Phoebe, only 1 man was killed; her First-Lieutenant J. W. Holland, her master Thomas Griffiths, and 10 men wounded. Lieutenant Thomas Weaver commanded the detachment of marines on board the Phoebe.
On the 3rd of April the 36-gun frigate Trent, Captain Sir Edward Hamilton, while lying at anchor off the Isle of Bréhat, at daylight discovered a ship with a cutter and lugger, steering towards Plampoul. The boats of the frigate were immediately despatched after the strangers, under the orders of Lieutenant George Chamberlayne, with the other officers of the frigate. Several boats from the shore took the ship in tow, but on the approach of the British they cast her off, and prepared to defend themselves. After a sharp conflict the French lugger and boats were driven on the rocks, and although protected by five batteries, the ship, which was a captured English vessel, was boarded and brought away. Lieutenant Taite of the marines unfortunately lost a leg upon this occasion; which accident, with 2 seamen killed, was the extent of the loss sustained by the British.
After Buonaparte had concluded the treaty of Luneville on the 9th of February with the emperor of Germany, the first consul seemed to entertain serious hopes of landing his victorious legions on the shores of Britain. The port of Boulogne was to be the central rendezvous of the grand flotilla; and in the month of July nine divisions of gun-vessels, with nine battalions of troops, besides artillery, were ordered to assemble. These preparations spread considerable alarm on the coast of England, and caused corresponding preparations for the defensive to be made by the British Government. Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson was appointed to the chief command from Orfordness to Beachy Head; and having his flag on board the 32-gun frigate Medusa, he sailed from the Downs with about thirty other vessels, and on the 4th of August bombarded the port of Boulogne.
On the night of the 15th the boats of the squadron, in four divisions, accompanied by several mortar-boats, made an attack on the French flotilla; but owing to the darkness of the night and the uncertainty of the tide, the attacking party separated. The first division, under Captain Somerville, was carried considerably to the eastward of Boulogne bay; and finding it impracticable to reach the flotilla in the order prescribed, the boats were ordered to cast each other off, and make the best of their way towards the enemy. A little before daybreak on the 16th, some of the leading boats attacked a brig lying close to the pier-head, and after a sharp conflict carried her; but owing to the vessel being secured with a chain, and the heavy fire of grape and musketry from the shore and four armed vessels within pistol-shot, they were compelled to abandon their prize. The boats now retreated with a loss of 18 killed and 55 wounded; among the latter was Captain George Young of the marines. The other three divisions attacked with equal determination, but were alike unsuccessful, and their combined loss amounted to 44 men killed and 71 wounded; making a total in this gallant enterprise of 62 men killed and 126 wounded.
On the 3rd of August the 38-gun frigate Pomone, Captain E. L. Gower, having outsailed the three other frigates with which she was cruising off Elba, at 8h. 10 m. p.m., after the interchange of a few shot from their chase guns, and a resistance of about ten minutes duration, captured the French 40-gun frigate Carrère. The Pomone had 2 men killed; Lieutenant Charles Douglas of the marines lost a leg, and 2 seamen were wounded.
On the 2nd of September the French frigates Bravoure and Succès, which had sailed from Leghorn on the 31st of August, were discovered by the British frigates Minèrve, Pomone, and Phoenix, then lying in the Piombino channel. After a pursuit of some hours, the Succès ran aground on the shore of Vada, and was taken possession of by the Pomone; whilst the Bravoure grounded under the battery of Antignano, and was totally wrecked.