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On Sea & Land: Small Wars, Minor Actions and Naval Brigades—A Military History of the Royal Navy Volume 2 1856-1881

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On Sea & Land: Small Wars, Minor Actions and Naval Brigades—A Military History of the Royal Navy Volume 2 1856-1881
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): William Laird Clowes
Date Published: 2018/07
Page Count: 256
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-763-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-762-7

The second volume of a three volume history of the Royal Navy at war in 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 two comprehensively covers the period 1856 to 1881, when the Royal Navy was in action during the Second Opium War, the Indian Mutiny, the Maori Wars of the 1860s, the Abyssinian Expedition, the conflict against Madagascar and the Zanzibar Pirates, the Zulu War, the First Boer War among others, together with many minor expeditions and actions.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

A renewal of the disputes over land-titles produced another native outbreak in the North Island of New Zealand early in 1860, the scene of hostilities being the neighbourhood of Taranaki, and the native leader being William King, the chief of the local tribe. A force, including two companies of the 65th Regiment, was sent to the spot, whither also the Niger, 13, screw, Captain Peter Cracroft, proceeded. A landing was effected at Waitara, on March 5th, no resistance being offered; and, on the following day, the ship was about to proceed to New Plymouth, when signals were made to her to the effect that the enemy, during the darkness, had built a stockade, which threatened to cut off the communication of the troops with their land base.
King, however, eventually abandoned this stockade without fighting. On the 17th he was discovered to have erected another pah, which he resolutely defended, until a bombardment obliged him to quit it also. In the meantime, the Niger had gone to Auckland for supplies, leaving only a few of her people to assist the troops. On the 26th William King murdered three men and two boys, and boasted that he would drive the Europeans into the sea. On the 28th, therefore, by which day the Niger had returned, the naval detachment on shore accompanied the troops into the country to bring into town some settlers who lived in exposed and outlying places; and Cracroft, at the desire of Governor Gore Browne, landed further officers and men to hold the town during the absence of the expedition. He disembarked in person, with sixty seamen and marines.
The rescuing force had not advanced more than four miles when it found itself warmly engaged with a strongly-posted body of the enemy. Word was sent back for reinforcements, and Cracroft went at once to the front with his men and a 24-pr. rocket-tube. King occupied a pah at Omata on the summit of a hill, and had severely handled the British force ere Cracroft’s arrival; and of the small naval contingent, the leader, Lieutenant William Hans Blake, had been dangerously wounded, and a marine killed. Cracroft determined to storm the pah, and, addressing his men, pointed to the rebel flag, and promised £10 to the man who should haul it down.
He then moved to within 800 yards, and opened fire from his rocket-tube, which, however, made no impression. It was then nearly dark, and Colonel Murray, who led the military force, announced his intention of retreating to the town, whither he had been ordered to return by sunset, and advised Cracroft to do the same. “I purpose to take that pah first,” said the captain. The visible withdrawal of the troops from the front of the position probably had the effect of rendering the enemy more careless than he might otherwise have been to what was going on on his flank. The result was that Cracroft managed to get close up to an outlying body of natives before his presence was detected. Within 60 yards of the enemy he gave the word to double. With a volley and a cheer, the men were instantly in the midst of the rebels, who, after a brave resistance, took refuge in the pah behind them, or escaped. The seamen and marines rushed onwards, met tomahawk with bayonet, and soon annihilated all resistance. Cracroft, who had not force enough to hold the position with, returned leisurely with his wounded, who were not numerous, and was not molested. On the following day, the enemy retired to the southward, having lost very heavily. (Corr. of A. and N. Gazette, July 14th, 1860: Fox, War in New Zealand.) It should be added that William Odgers, seaman, who was the first man inside the pah, and who pulled down the enemy’s flag, was awarded the Victoria Cross. (Gazette, Aug. 2nd, 1860.)
Hostilities continued. On June 23rd a reconnoitring party of troops was fired at near Waitara; and, in consequence, an attack, with insufficient force, (347 in all, the natives were thrice as numerous), was made on a strong rebel pah in the immediate neighbourhood on June 26th, in the early morning. Part of the 40th Regiment, some Royal Engineers, and a small Naval Brigade under Commodore Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour, of the Pelorus, 21, screw, were engaged. After a hot fight, lasting for more than four hours, the British were obliged by overwhelming forces to retreat, after having lost 29 killed and 33 wounded, among the latter being Seymour, eight seamen, and one marine. Besides Seymour, the naval officers engaged were Lieutenant Albert Henry William Battiscombe, Midshipmen Ernest Bannister Wadlow, and —— Garnett, and Lieutenant John William Henry Chafyn Grove Morris, R.M.A.
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