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Author Topic: Report on Sheerness Defences 1778  (Read 3300 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Report on Sheerness Defences 1778
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2012, 18:52:01 »
Unfortunately I did not get to copy any more down due to lack of time and missed the Chatham one but it wasn't as interesting as this one anyway.

Offline busyglen

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Re: Report on Sheerness Defences 1778
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2012, 18:34:40 »
Thanks for these Kyn.  It makes for interesting reading, giving a clearer picture. :)
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline kyn

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Re: Report on Sheerness Defences 1778
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2012, 18:09:14 »
A further report from the the file above.

The good state of this place is certainly of the utmost consequence to this country as the safety at the capital, Dockyards must in a great measure depend on it.  The entrance of the river ought to be so commanded by the works as to render it impossible for an enemy to pass by them or to enter the place that way, their present state does not seem to make such an enterprise here hazardous as the troops destined to defend the batteries could not find the necessary cover, the parapets being only 5 and 6 bricks thick.  It is proposed to make them of the usual thickness of 18 feet wherever the ramparts allow of such addition, to be done with earth and sod only and to raise them to such a height as may be requisite for the safety of the defendants in case of a near approach of the enemy, agreeable to what is marked in the plans.  The part of the rampart rear and composing the Governors house might be so raised as to afford an excellent Cavalier Battery to command the passage into the river and give a good flank to the Dockyard for its protection should ships be able to pass by the Halfmoon Battery.  The section of this work with its situation in the plan will better explain its importance than anything that could be said in favour of it.
Nature has done a great deal for this place on the side leading to the country and it was originally very strong that was the whole front being covered by a wide inundation with a possibility of laying the greatest part of the marsh beyond under water by means of sluices, but as the limits of his majesties Dockyard have of late years greatly increased and a considerable quantity of new ground been made on that side of the fortifications, the inundation is become of little consequence towards the defence of the place as there is a large space for an approach to the garrison without the least stop of that nature and no obstruction to be met with from the fire of the place in front of the flank intended for it is now entirely marked by buildings, piles of timber etc... it is proposed to render this part narrower by the cut and battery to defend it and the Dock, flanked or enfiladed by the intended battery on the covertway.
The place within the garrison being too small for buildings to contain the number of workmen employed in the Dockyard, has been the course of a row of buildings being made for them at some distance from the town are although necessary for the inhabitants, exceedingly against to the defence of the place, affording cover for the enemy to approach and open batteries, which must render our resistance of short duration.  It would be well could these buildings be removed, it is however scarcely to be done as the business of Sheerness Dock is still increasing and probably will continue to do so, it therefore may be requisite to make sure work to protect them and oblige the besiegers (should such ever present themselves) to break ground at a great distance, not only for their particular safety but for that of the Dock which on a near approach must suffer from shells and perhaps be destroyed.  A work to answer this end will be too far from the town to be properly protected, it must therefore be such as may be respectable in itself.  What is here proposed is a star fort, entirely a field work, and otherwise secured with palisading as to render the approach to the buildings extremely dangerous, and a thing that cannot easily be taken, as bomb proofs of a simple nature are proposed in it for the troops intended to defend it, which will in a great measure obviate the objections to such works, complete flanks such as bastions afford ought never to be made in works of this nature, the common break of the line seems to be infinitely better on all accounts.  This work affords a flank for the Dock should any attempt be made upon it from the river which the guns proposed to be placed on the jetty’s it is presumed would render it respectable, and secure at least from anything on this side, but as the entrance between Sheerness and the Isle of Grain is wide, and ships at the time of highwater may keep off at a great distance from the guns at the garrison it has been proposed by many sea officers at experience to moor some old ships fitted as floating batteries on that side which would be of great additional strength.  The ditch towards the sea does not extend for enough there being ground at the end of it that might favour an attack that way, it is proposed to alter it to be as little favourable as possible to the enemy.  The breakwaters of this place are of enormous expense, and, as they are made of lose stones it is conceived they would be found very dangerous to our people on the batteries should shot be fired against them – sascines made use of in a proper manner would answer the end mu7ch better than the stone, and be far less expensive, and not at all dangerous to the garrison.
Nothing further appears wanting at this place, except the common repairs and such things as necessarily depend on the great works.

Offline kyn

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Report on Sheerness Defences 1778
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2012, 14:02:13 »
London June 6, 1778

My Lord and Honourable Gentleman

I beg leave to lay before the Honourable Board the observation I have made at the different places committed to my care, agreeable to the orders I had received to that effect.

I presume that whatever maybe done to put them into a better state of defence ought to be executed with the greatest dispatch I have therefore adopted the alterations to earth, sod, or fascine work only, or as so for the greatest part, and as the troops intended for these places will be sufficient for the carrying them into execution the expense will thereby be greatly lessened.

In general the ramparts are too slight to admit of the proper thickness of parapet to cover the garrison, wherever I have found that they would bear an admission I have marked it, and presume that such work cannot be too soon performed as without such cover the garrison would be worse that without any, for it is certain that batteries on barbet are infinitely more secure than those protected by walls of 5 or 6 bricks thick, as is the case at most of the places herein taken notice of.

The encroachments at Sheerness render the works in their present state extremely weak, I could wish the row of buildings called the Bluehouses might be taken down.  I cannot recommend it as it could not I presume be done, the space of the garrison being too small for the inhabitants without them, I have therefore recommended that they may be protected by an advanced work to oblige an enemy to open ground at a great distance, and thereby prevent their becoming a cover for his approaches against the Town and Dockyard.  I do not recommend the form of what I have shewn in the plan as the only one that will answer the end.  Various ways and shapes of works might do as well.  I submit this to the better judgement of the honourable Board whether or not it may seen to answer the great and expected from it.
The works have been long in a state of neglect, the sodwork everywhere out of repair, and that in a great measure from the grass which in general is only mowed once a year and lawned by different people as a matter of property, whereas I conceive that it ought to be so often cut as to be unworthy the name of property and that the Chief Engineer only should be responsible for the good state of the works.

The water in most of the ditches of fortifications is often suffered to stagnate to preserve the fish they contain, without having cause to complain to the honourable Board at this being the case in my district I beg leave to request such instructions as may enable one to use the sluices of the fortifications agreeable to their intentions as a part of the works under my care, which will not fail to make the places more healthy than they are, and in the end be for the real advantage of the garrisons.

The estimates of what is requisite for the different places, except what I have shewn in the plans is already before the honourable Board, what relates is this part accompanies the observation.

I have the Honour to be
My Lord and Honourable Gentleman
Your most humble servant
Thomas Hyde Page
Sheerness

 

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