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Author Topic: Archer Class gun-brigs (1801 and 1804 onwards)  (Read 463 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Archer Class gun-brigs (1801 and 1804 onwards)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2018, 19:45:59 »
This proved to be too big to fit in one post, so I had to split it into two parts. This is Part One, it introduces the class and covers the careers of HMS Mallard, HMS Charger, HMS Constant, HMS Conflict, HMS Teazer, HMS Tigress, HMS Haughty, HMS Manly, HMS Plumper, HMS Pelter and HMS Wrangler

Introduction

The Archer Class was a group of 57 brig-rigged gunboats, built in two batches and designed by Sir William Rule, Co-Surveyor of the Navy. The second batch were built to replace large numbers of Acute and Courser Class gun-brigs which were paid off and sold during the Peace of Amiens (March 1802 - May 1803). As with those vessels, the Navy Board asked the Surveyors of the Navy, Sir William Rule and Sir John Henslow to each produce a design. Sir John Henslow designed the ten-strong Bloodhound Class, of which only one, HMS Monkey, was built in a Kent shipyard. Rule's Archer Class turned out to be the more successful of the two and the first batch was of ten vessels was ordered in 1800, while the second of 47 vessels was ordered in 1804 to replace those vessels sold during the short period of peace. The purpose of this article is to cover the careers of all 21 vessels of both batches which were built in Kent shipyards. They are ordered chronologically by the shipyard which built them..

See here for the story of HMS Monkey:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15234.msg124608#msg124608

The Acute Class gun-brigs:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19108.msg168662#msg168662

and Courser Class gun-brigs:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19117.msg168760#msg168760

A little larger than the previous Courser and Acute Class gun-brigs, but slightly less heavily armed, they were intended as inshore and coastal patrol and shore bombardment vessels. Designed to be more seaworthy, they could and did make voyages as far afield as the Caribbean. They were of a more conventional design than the previous vessels too, being built with a deeper, round bilge rather than the flat bottom and Schank Sliding Keels of their predecessors.

The Archer Class gun-brigs were vessels of 177 tons. They were 80ft long on their main decks and 22ft 6in wide across the beam, were armed with 10 x 18pdr carronades on their broadsides and two 18pdr long guns in their bows with half-a-dozen half-pounder swivel guns fitted to their bulwarks and in their fighting tops. They were manned by a crew of 50 officers, men and boys. The vessel would be commanded by an officer with the rank of Lieutenant in the position of Lieutenant-in-Command and he would be the only commissioned officer aboard. To assist him in the day-to-day sailing and navigation of the vessel, a Warrant Officer with the status of Second Master was appointed by the Navy Board and a Quartermaster was appointed by the commanding officer to oversee the vessel's steering. The roles of Purser and Clerk were combined in the form of the Clerk-in-Charge and the vessel had an Assistant Surgeon appointed to take care of the health of the crew.  A senior Boatswain's Mate was appointed to oversee repairs and maintenance to the vessel's masts, rigging, sails and boats while a Carpenter's Mate was appointed to look after the vessel's hull, frames and decks and a Sailmaker was appointed to maintain and repair the sails. To assist the Lieutenant-in-Command with day-to-day command of the vessel, a senior Midshipman was appointed.

Unlike their predecessors, all 57 vessels of the Archer Class were assigned names from the outset.

Archer Class Plans

Lower and Main Deck Plans, Inboard Profile and Plan:



Sheer Plan and Lines:



A drawing of HMS Piercer, showing the sail and rigging layout:



HMS Mallard

HMS Mallard was a member of the 1800 batch and was built at the shipyard of Mrs Frances Barnard at Deptford. The contract for her construction was signed on 30th December 1800 and her first keel section was laid in January of 1801. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on the 11th April. She was the only vessel of either batch to be contracted from Mrs Barnard. After her launch, HMS Mallard was taken to the Woolwich Dockyard to be fitted with her guns, masts and rigging. She commissioned under Mr Thomas Read and was assigned to the Downs, the area where the North Sea meets the English Channel. Manning and storing his vessel complete, Mr Read took her to Sheerness to await further orders, arriving on the 20th May where she lay until the 13th July. The vessel departed the Nore in company with her sister-brigs HMS Charger, HMS Constant, HMS Minx and HMS Bold bound for the Downs, the great fleet anchorage off Deal. On 15th July 1801, HMS Mallard departed the Downs in company with HMS Bold for a patrol of the Straits of Dover.

On 20th August 1801, HMS Mallard was patrolling off the French port of Etaples in company with the 24pdr carronade-armed ship-sloop HMS Hound when they sighted a French vessel in distress and being blown ashore. Commander George Sarradine of HMS Hound immediately ordered a boat attack from both vessels with the intention of setting fire to the French vessel before her cargo of pitch and tar could be salvaged. This part of the attack was successful, but as they were returning to their vessels, the British boats were attacked by a force of six French flat-boats which had come out of St. Valerie. The French were driven off by fire from HMS Hound and HMS Mallard and beached themselves, but the sound of heavy gunfire had attracted the British 9pdr-armed, 24-gun post-ship HMS Jamaica and her squadron which included the 18pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Gannet and HMS Mallard's sister-brig HMS Tigress. When they arrived on the scene and Captain Jonas Rose of HMS Jamaica had spoken to Commander Sarradine, it was decided to launch a raid to capture or destroy the six French flat-boats now on the beach. In the early morning of the 21st August, the boats departed the British vessels and after a smart action, brought off three of the French vessels. The French, it seems, had scuttled the rest. Each of the flat-boats was about 45ft long and each mounted a brass 8in howitzer.

The rest of 1801 was spent carrying out patrols of the English Channel. In January of 1802, Lieutenant Read faced a Court Martial at Chatham, having been accused by the Surgeon of having refused to provide the necessities for the sick members of the crew. Mr Read was honourably acquitted after the charges were found by the Court Martial Board to have been malicious and unfounded.

HMS Mallard continued with her duties of patrolling the English Channel and the North Sea. The Peace of Amiens came and went. In November of 1804, Mr Read was replaced in command of the vessel by Lieutenant John William Miles. On Christmas Day 1804, HMS Mallard ran aground near Calais and was captured by the French. She was taken into French service as Le Mallard. On the 24th September 1814, Le Mallard was renamed Favouri, and remained in French service until she was broken up in 1827.

HMS Charger

HMS Charger was a member of the 1800 batch, built by John Dudman at his Deptford shipyard. Like all the first batch of Archer Class vessels, the contract for her construction was signed on 30th December 1800. Her first keel section was laid during January of 1801 and she was launched into the River Thames on the 17th April. After her launch, she was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford to be fitted with guns, masts and rigging. She commissioned for the Downs under Lieutenant Edward King in May of 1801 and on the 6th of June was declared complete. After completion at Deptford, HMS Charger sailed for Sheerness, from where she departed in company with sister-brigs HMS Mallard, HMS Bold, HMS Minx and HMS Constant bound for the Downs, the great fleet anchorage off Deal, where she arrived on the 14th July. HMS Charger spent the rest of the French Revolutionary War based in the Downs, engaged in patrols of the English Channel and North Sea. The Peace of Amiens came and went and on the 2nd November 1803, HMS Charger now commanded by Lieutenant Thomas Rede arrived at Spithead in company with a prize, the Pedenton, Pieter Simon Master, bound from Garlo to Bordeaux with a cargo of naval stores, captured the previous day. 

On 28th May 1805, Lieutenant John Aitken Blow, now commanding HMS Charger wrote to Captain Richard Thwait of His Majesty's Armed Ship Dutchess of Bedford thus:

"His Majesty's Brig Charger
Hosely Bay
28th May 1805

Sir,

I beg leave to inform you, for the information of the Commander-in-Chief, Orfordness bearing W.N.W bearing fourteen leagues, I captured the De Zenno, a small cutter privateer, commanded by Lodwick Peffer, out two days from Flushing but had made no captures. She had on board thirteen men and a chest of arms.

I have the honour to be etc

J.A. Blow.


On the 14th August 1805, HMS Charger captured the sloop North Star.

By 1808, Britain was at war with Denmark, in what is known as The Gunboat War. This was because after the Bombardment of Copenhagen, which had resulted in Denmark being forced to hand their entire navy over to the British, the Danes had built large numbers of small, heavily armed, oared gunboats. These had been used to defend Denmark/Norway and to attack the British by overwhelming the Royal Navy's more conventional warships with weight of numbers. On the 9th June, HMS Charger was off Malmo on the southern coast of Sweden in company with the bomb-vessel HMS Thunder, her sister-brig HMS Piercer and the gun-brig HMS Turbulent and was escorting a homeward-bound convoy of 70 vessels. At 14:00, the convoy got under way from the Malmo Road and at 16:30, the wind began to fall away. By 17:00, the wind had died away completely. At 17:20, as the covoy was off the southern end of the island of Saltholm, they sighted a force of some 25 Danish gunboats, which proceeding under oars, immediately attacked the rear of the convoy. They concentrated their attack on HMS Turbulent, which opened fire with her broadside 18pdr carronades. HMS Turbulent was supported by one-pound balls fired from the mortars on HMS Thunder. Unfortunately, HMS Charger and HMS Piercer were too far away to assist and at 17:40, HMS Turbulent's main topmast was shot away. The Danish gunboats surrounded, boarded and captured HMS Turbulent and then set their sights on HMS Thunder. At 18:00, having secured their prize, the Danes formed up on both quarters and the stern of HMS Thunder and opened fire. HMS Thunder's crew moved her 6pdr bow chase guns to her stern gunports and opened fire with them and also her 24pdr broadside carronades as they bore. By 21:30, HMS Thunder's crew cut away the vessel's jolly boat and launch, both boats having been smashed to pieces. At 22:10, faced with the stubborn refusal of the British bomb vessel to surrender, the Danes withdrew, taking with them the dozen or so vessels from the convoy, including HMS Turbulent, which they had managed to capture.

The capture of HMS Turbulent by Danish gunboats:



On the 24th August 1810, Mr Blow was replaced in command of HMS Charger by Lieutenant James Askey, who received orders to take the vessel to the Mediterranean. HMS Charger remained in the Mediterranean until the end of the Napoleonic War in April of 1814. She returned to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford and was sold for £890 on the 9th June 1814.

HMS Constant

HMS Constant was a member of the 1800 batch and was the second of three vessels that batch to be built by John Dudman at Deptford. The contract for her construction was signed on 30th December 1800 along with the rest of the first batch and her first keel section was laid in January of 1801. She was launched into the River Thames on the 20th April.

On the 10th June 1801, HMS Constant was declared complete and commissioned under Lieutenant James Hughes Bremer for the Downs. After arriving at Sheerness from Deptford, the vessel sailed for the Downs in company with sister-brigs HMS Charger, HMS Minx, HMS Bold and HMS Mallard and was immediately set to work patrolling and escorting convoys in the English Channel and the North Sea.

On the 2nd October 1801, the Preliminary Articles of the Treaty of Amiens were signed by the warring parties. On the 11th, HMS Constant was laying at the Nore off Sheerness when she was ordered to be prepared for paying off in anticipation of the apparently imminent peace. Soon after that, these orders were cancelled and the vessel was ordered back to the Downs. Returning to Sheerness on the 6th November, HMS Constant ran aground on Grain Spit. Although undamaged, the vessel was stuck there and wasn't able to be refloated until the 10th. On the 10th January 1802, HMS Constant, in company with the gun-brigs HMS Manly, HMS Pouncer, HMS Conflict and HMS Haughty were ordered to Woolwich in order that their crews could be used to man the brand-new 74-gun ship of the line HMS Plantagenet in order to bring that ship to the Nore.

The Peace of Amiens came and went and with the resumption of war in May of 1803, HMS Constant continued wth her duties as before, patrolling the English Channel and North Sea in addition to escorting convoys to and from the Baltic. Things continued in this vein until September of 1810, by with time HMS Constant was under the command of Lieutenant John Stokes. On the 5th September 1810, HMS Constant was operating in company with the ex-French 18pdr-armed 36-gun frigate HMS Surveillante patrolling off the mouth of the river Loire when they sighted a convoy leaving the mouth of the river and heading south. Captain George Ralph Collier of HMS Surveillante immediately ordered a chase and one division of the convoy headed back into the river, but one brig sought shelter between the rocks under the guns of shore batteries at St. Guildas and St Jacques. Captain Collier ordered a raid in boats to capture or destroy the vessel. The raid was to be commanded by Lieutenant the Honourable James Arbuthnot assisted by Masters Mate Mr John Illingworth, Midshipmen John Kingdom, Digby Marsh, Edwin Francis Stanhope, William Crowder, John Watt and Herbert Ashton. HMS Constant was ordered to close with the shore and provide covering fire. Lieutenant Stokes displayed outstanding seamanship in placing his vessel amongst the rocks and shoals and forced the enemy to take cover with a well directed bombardment, allowing Lieutenant Arbuthnot and his men to take the enemy brig and bring her out. In doing so, HMS Constant was exposed to a hail of grapeshot from the shore batteries and suffered damage in her sails, but sustained no casualties. That night, HMS Constant closed with the shore again, this time to cover a further raid to be carried out under the command of Mr Illingworth to destroy one of the shore batteries. The battery was completely destroyed by Mr Illingworth and his men without loss.

By 1813, the Peninsular War had broken out and British forces were working with Spanish and Portugese irregulars to drive the French out of the Iberian Peninsular. By May, HMS Constant was part of a squadron of sloops of war and gun brigs under the command of Captain Collier in HMS Surveillante. In August, men from the British vessels formed part of a combined allied force laying seige to the fortress at San Sebastien. On the 30th August, British seige artillery had opened a breach in the defences and two divisions of the squadrons boats were sent to the rear of the fortress to create a diversion to distract the French from the assault on the breach which was due to take place the following day. The plan worked and at 11:00 on the 31st, the assault took place and by 13:30, allied forces had taken possession of the town. The citadel held out and on the 8th September, allied heavy seige artillery opened a merciless fire on it. After a very short period, French terms of surrender were sent under a flag of truce and were immediately accepted by the allies.

On the 13th October, the French 24pdr carronade-armed brig-corvette Filibustier of 14 guns was sighted and chased by the 12pdr carronade-armed Schooner HMS Telegraph of 12 guns, the 32pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Challenger of 18 guns and HMS Constant. The French brig became becalmed under the heights at the mouth of the Bayonne River and was approached and fired upon by HMS Telegraph. At 06:45 remaining ahead of the Filibustier, HMS Telegraph exchanged fire with the French brig until about 07:00 when, on seeing the two British brigs approaching them, the French set their vessel on fire and took to their boats. The Filibustier exploded at about 08:10, when the fire reached her magazine.

HMS Constant remained in the English Channel for the rest of the war and when the Treaty of Fontainebleu was signed in 1814, was laid up in the Chatham Ordinary.

On the 15th February 1816, HMS Constant was sold at Chatham for £600.

HMS Conflict

HMS Conflict was a member of the 1800 batch and was the last of a trio contracted from John Dudman's Deptford shipyard. The contract for her construction was signed on the same day as the rest of the class and her first keel section was laid at Deptford during January of 1801. HMS Conflict was launched into the River Thames on the 17th April 1801 and fitting out at Deptford Royal Dockyard commenced the same day. She was declared complete on the 9th May and she commissioned for the Downs under Lieutenant Michael Dod. Mr Dod remained in command until April 1802 when he was appointed Master and Commander in the 24pdr carronade-armed 16-gun ship sloop HMS Galgo. His replacement in HMS Confict was Mr John Sibrell.

The French Revolutionary War was ended by the Treaty of Amiens, signed on the 25th March 1802. Despite this, the work of patrolling the English Channel and the North Sea continued. Although the war was over, the threat posed by pirates preying on packet-boats and fishermen was not and it fell to small vessels such as HMS Conflict to enforce the peace. On the 13th November 1802, HMS Conflict, together with the gun-brigs HMS Basilisk and HMS Minx were sent to the port of Shields in Northumberland. The reason was that the merchant seamen of the port had gone on strike in a dispute over pay and the strike had descended to violence, with men being dragged out of ships to prevent them from sailing. In addition, seamen who had refused to join the strike had been 'Blacked', that is, they were force to submit to having their faces painted black and to march through the town with their jackets turned inside-out. The Mayor of Shields negotiated between the ship-owners and the striking seamen and the dispute was resolved. Once the dispute was resolved on the 1st December, the wind had died awy to a complete calm and those vessels which were ready to depart were unable to and violence broke out again. The presence of the town's magistrates, the mayor and armed seamen from th gun-brigs soon surpressed the violence, but some of the men from the Royal Navy vessels took the opportunity during the rioting to desert. When they were caught, they were also 'blacked' and forced to join the marching strike-breakers. By the 6th January 1803, HMS Conflict had returned to Sheerness to resume her normal duties.

The Napoleonic War broke out on the 18th May 1803 and with the resumption of war, HMS Conflict returned to the Downs and became part of a squadron commanded by Captain Robert Honeyman in the 18pdr-armed 38-gun frigate HMS Leda.

See here for the story of HMS Leda:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14761.msg120516#msg120516

At about 18:00 on the 2nd January 1804, HMS Conflict ran aground on the Gulls Sandbank off Ramsgate. Although she began firing distress guns almost immediately, it was to be midnight before boats from Ramsgate were able to get her off. The vessel was towed into Ramsgate minus her rudder for repairs.

On the 24rd October 1804, HMS Conflict was patrolling off Ostende in company with the 32pdr carronade-armed, 18-gun brig-sloop HMS Cruizer, the gun-brigs HMS Blazer, HMS Tigress and HMS Escort with the hired armed cutters Admiral Mitchell and Griffin when they sighted a French flotilla of two large armed prames with 18 armed schuyts heading out of Ostende heading westward. The British squadron immediately gave chase and engaged the French force. At about 17:20, the British opened fire and the firing continued for just over an hour. By this time, the tide was falling and since nobody aboard the British vessels was familiar with the inshore waters off Ostende, the British hauled off and anchored. Unfortunately, it was too late for HMS Conflict, in her eagerness to close the range against the shallow draughted prames, she had run aground. As soon as the leading prame was out of range, Lieutenant Charles Ormsby ordered that guns and stores be thrown overboard to lighten the vessel, but when this proved fruitless, he ordered that the vessel be abandoned and her crew made their way in the vessels boats to HMS Cruizer. Later that evening, the Griffin, with HMS Conflict's crew and men from HMS Cruizer attempted once more to bring off HMS Conflict, but by the time they got to the scene, the vessel was high and dry and was in the possession of the enemy. On the approach to HMS Conflict's position, the Griffin had come under fire from artillery ashore and had been damaged and had one man killed and several wounded.

After her capture by the enemy, the now ex-HMS Conflict was sold into the privateering trade. The vessel was renamed Lynx on 29th September 1814, presumably after having been sold into merchant service now that the war was over. Her fate beyond that is unknown.

HMS Teazer

HMS Teazer was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven contracted from John Dudman's shipyard at Deptford. The contract for her construction was signed on the 22nd March 1804. Her first keel section was laid at Dudman's shipyard in May of 1804 and she was launched into the River Thames on the 16th July. After her launch, she was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford to be fitted out and commissioned for the Channel Fleet under Lieutenant Thomas Graham the following month.

After arrival at the great fleet anchorage at Spithead, the vessel was employed in the typical duties of a gun-brig, those of patrolling inshore. In October of 1804, Mr Graham was replaced in command by Mr George Lewis Kerr.

On the 15th July 1805, HMS Teazer was patrolling off Granville in company with her sister-brig HMS Plumper when they became becalmed. In danger of being swept by the swift currents onto rocks, both vessels anchored, but were too far apart to be able to offer mutual support should they be attacked. Capitaine de Vasseau Louis-Leon Jacob, commanding a division of French gunboats based in ports between St. Malo and Cherbourg, received intelligence about the plight of the pair of British vessels and immediately ordered seven large gunboats to capture them. The seven gunboats, each armed with three 24pdr long guns and an 8in howitzer engaged HMS Plumper, the nearest of the British brigs at 02:30 the following day. The French gunboats were able to bombard HMS Plumper with their 24pdr guns knowing that they were out of range of the British vessel's carronades and after enduring the bombardment for an hour and suffering casualties of 17 men, including her commander, Lieutenant James Henry Garrety who had an arm shot away, HMS Plumper lowered her colours in surrender. After securing their prize, the French anchored for the rest of the night and at 06:00, weighed anchor and made towards HMS Teazer. At 08:45, the French opened fire on HMS Teazer, once more safely out of range of the British gun-brig's carronades. At 09:00, Mr Kerr ordered that the anchor cable be cut and all sails set in an attempt to escape, but still being becalmed, went nowhere and after being surrounded by the French vessels which were under oars, HMS Teazer also surrendered to the enemy.

HMS Teazer was taken into French service as Le Teazer. By August 1811, Le Teazer was under the command of Lieutenant de Vaisseau Jean-Alexandre Papineau and on being refitted for French service, was armed with 12 French 18pdr carronades and 2 French 18pdr long guns. On the 24th August, Le Teazer and the small convoy of five merchant vessels she was escorting out of Rochefort had taken shelter in the Gironde Estuary, on the Biscay coast of France. At about 13:00, the convoy was sighted by a pair of prowling British frigates, HMS Diana (18pdr, 38) under Captain William Ferris and HMS Semiramis (18pdr, 36) under Captain Charles Richardson. At about 16:30, the pair of British frigates hoisted French colours, HMS Diana hoisted a Commodore's Broad Pendant and a French Tricolour at the fore mast, indicating that she required a pilot. The British frigates continued standing in to the mouth of the Gironde. M. Papineau ordered that his colours be hoisted and ordered that a gun on the downwind side of Le Teazer be fired, indicating that they were friendly. Both the British frigates did the same, but at 18:00, the shore battery on Pointe de la Coubre began firing. As Le Teazer ran past the shore battery, M. Papineau hailed them and informed them that the frigates were La Pallas and L'Elbe, out of Rochefort. At 18:30, the pilot boat came alongside HMS Diana and the Frenchmen in it were immediately seized and taken below, while their boat was secured astern. At 19:00, the British frigates anchored off the Pointe de Grave, close to where Le Teazer had also anchored and near a French brig-corvette, Le Pluvier of 14 24pdr carronades and 2 6pdr long guns. Le Teazer's convoy was anchored about four miles up the river and at 19:30, as it was getting dark, Captain Ferris sent seven boats, three from HMS Diana and four from HMS Semiramis to cut out the convoy. The tides prevented the boats from making much progress until later that night.

The following morning, since the boats hadn't yet returned, Captain Ferris decided to attack the two brigs, but at 06:00, Capitaine de Vaisseau Michel-Augustine Dubourg of Le Pluvier came aboard HMS Diana to pay his respects to what he thought was the French commodore and didn't realise his mistake until he was seized by British seamen on the quarterdeck and also taken below. At about the same time, the British frigates got under way and HMS Diana headed for Le Teazer, while HMS Semiramis headed for Le Pluvier. HMS Diana came alongside Le Teazer hard and the much larger British frigate's lower yards tore away Le Teazer's topgallant masts. Lieutenant Robert White Parsons, with Marine Lieutenant Lewis Pryce Madden and Mr Mark G Noble, Boatswain with 30 seamen and Marines stormed aboard Le Teazer and captured the vessel without any loss to either side. As soon as Le Pluvier's officers and crew saw what had happened to Le Teazer and with HMS Semiramis bearing down on them, they cut their anchor cable and headed for the beach, where she ran aground near the shore battery at Royan. The British frigate chased the French brig inshore until she anchored in about 30 feet of water and used her anchor cables to bring her broadside guns to bear on Le Pluvier and her bow guns on the battery, both within grapeshot range. As boats were taking off Le Pluvier's crew, HMS Semiramis' boats returned from their mission and they were sent to take possession of Le Pluvier. This was quickly executed, but since Le Pluvier was now hard aground and the tide was falling, Captain Richardson recalled his boats and made sail towards HMS Diana and Le Teazer and the five vessels she had been escorting were now laying, out of range of the shore batteries. Before they left Le Pluvier, the British set fire to her and at 13:30, she exploded when the fire reached her magazine.

By November 1811, HMS Teazer had been refitted for British service and was back on patrol in the English Channel and escorting convoys to and from the Mediterranean.

On the 3rd August 1815, with the Napoleonic War over, HMS Teazer was sold for breaking up at Portsmouth.

HMS Tigress

HMS Tigress was a vessel of the 1804 batch and was one of seven contracted from John Dudman's Deptford shipyard, the first being HMS Teazer, detailed above. The contract for her construction was signed on the same day as HMS Teazer and her first keel section was laid during May of 1804. Launched into the River Thames on the 11th June 1804, HMS Tigress was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford to be fitted with guns, masts and rigging. The vessel was commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Edward Nathaniel Greensword on the 27th.

On the 23rd October 1804, HMS Tigress was present when her sister-brig HMS Conflict ran aground off Ostende and was taken by the French.

In the summer of 1807, HMS Tigress was part of the fleet sent to the Baltic under Admiral Sir James Gambier. Despite their defeat at the hands of Nelson at the First Battle of Copenhagen in 1800, the Danes still had a powerful navy. Denmark and Norway were, at the time, a unified kingdom and their navy was more than capable of closing the Kattegat and blocking access to the Baltic Sea. In Britain, the demand for timber for the construction and repair of both warships and merchant ships had outstripped supply by an order of magnitude, so the British were dependant on timber being imported from the Baltic region. After December 1806 when Britains ally Prussia had been defeated by the French, Denmark was looking increasingly vulnerable to attack and invasion by the French. The British government had no wish to go to war with Denmark, so they tried to persuade the Danes to enter into a secret alliance with both Britain and Sweden. Denmark was determined to preserve it's neutrality, so refused the offer. On 14th July 1807, the King gave his permission to send a naval force of 22 ships of the line to the Kattegat to keep a close watch on the Danish fleet and be ready to act swiftly if necessary. On 18th July, the British sent a representative to Denmark to try to persuade the Danes to hand over their fleet. On the same day, the Admiralty ordered that a force of 50 transport ships and warships including HMS Tigress to be gathered and to sail to the Kattegat. The force was to be commanded by Admiral Sir James Gambier.

Admiral Sir James Gambier was an evangelical Methodist who actively disapproved of the hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle of many of the sailors of the Royal Navy. As a result, his nickname amongst the fleet was 'Dismal Jimmy'.

On the night of the 21st/22nd July 1807, intelligence reached the British that Napoleon had tried to persuade Tsar Alexander I of Russia to enter into an alliance with Denmark against the British. In response, the British made an offer to the Danes. In return for a Treaty of Alliance, the British would offer the Danes the protection of the 21 ships in the Kattegat and a subsidy towards the upkeep of a standing army. The British promised to return the Danish ships once the war was over. On 31st July 1807, Napoleon ordered his Foreign Minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord to tell the Danish to prepare for war against Britain or face invasion. Despite all this, Denmark still refused to give up their neutrality. On 15th August, the British gave up trying to persuade the Danes to hand over their fleet. The die was cast. On 12th August, the Danish frigate Fredriksvaern sailed from the Danish naval base at Elsinor bound for Norway. Admiral Gambier sent HMS Defence (74) and HMS Comus (22) after her and on the 15th, HMS Comus engaged and captured the Danish ship. On 16th August, the British army landed at Vedbaek near Copenhagen and began an artillery bombardment of the city. The British force was commanded by General Sir Arthur wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). The Danish army was sent to attack the British force. On 29th August, Wellesley defeated the Danes at the Battle of Koge.

The British then issued a Proclamation demanding the handover of the Danish fleet, which was refused. By 2nd September, Copenhagen was encircled by Wellesley's force.

On 22nd and 31st August the Danes attempted to drive off the force of gun brigs and bomb vessels assembling off Copenhagen, but both attacks were repelled. On 1st September, the Danish Commander-in-Chief, Major-General Peiman was summoned to see Admiral Gambier and General the Lord Cathcart to surrender the Danish fleet. In return, the two British Commanders-in-Chief promised to return both the Danish ships and any other captured Danish property after the war. This was met with a firm 'No'.

On 2nd September at 7:30pm, the British opened fire on Copenhagen with everything they had.

The Bombardment of Copenhagen:





The bombardment continued from 2nd September to the 5th and destroyed some 30% of the city, killing about 2000 civilians. On 5th September, the Danes had had enough and offered to surrender. The surrender document was signed by all parties on 7th September. In the surrender agreement, Denmark agreed to hand to the British their entire navy, consisting of 18 ships of the line, 11 frigates, 2 ship-sloops, 7 brig-sloops, 2 gun-brigs, an armed schooner and 26 gunboats. The British army occupied Copenhagen and destroyed three 74 gun ships of the line then under construction. For their part British agreed to occupy Copenhagen for no more than six weeks. On 21st October 1807, the last British troops left Copenhagen and the fleet returned to the UK. Despite this, Britain and Denmark remained at war until 1814.

The Bombardment of Copenhagen, also known as the Second Battle of Copenhagen was controversial at the time. The British, after all, had attacked a neutral country without provocation, causing many civilian casualties. The British government's view was that the attack was a necessary evil and was carried out in order to defend British interests in preventing the Danes, for whatever reason, from interfering with British trade in the Baltic Sea.

On the 8th December 1807, HMS Tigress was in company with the 74 gun, Third Rate ship of the line HMS Vanguard and the 9pdr-armed 22-gun post-ship HMS Cyane when the Danish ketch Jeltzomine den Rofke was taken.

On the 2nd August 1808, HMS Tigress was cornered and captured with the loss of two men killed and eight wounded after a fight lasting an hour by a force of 16 Danish gunboats. She was taken into the Danish Navy under her British name and was sold by them in 1815.

HMS Haughty

HMS Haughty was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven contracted to be built by John Dudman at Deptford. Contracts were signed on the same day as the rest of the batch and the first keel section was laid at Dudman's yard in February of 1804. She was launched into the river Thames on the 7th May and commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant John Mitchell. HMS Haughty spent the next few years patrolling and escorting convoys in the English Channel and the North Sea.

In 1808 however, HMS Haughty was in the West Indies and was part of the fleet commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane. The British had received intelligence that the vital French-held island of Martinique was poorly defended and that the officer commanding the garrison there had requested reinforcements from France. It appeared as though Martinique was there for the taking. The plan for Martinique involved an amphibious operation commanded by Rear-Admiral Cochrane, who flew his command flag in the 98-gun second-rate ship of the line HMS Neptune. The invasion force was comprised of 44 ships and 10,000 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant General George Beckwith. In addition to HMS Neptune and HMS Haughty, Rear-Admiral Cochrane's force also comprised HMS Pompee (80), HMS Belle Isle (74), HMS York (74), HMS Captain (74), HMS Intrepid (64). In addition to these ships of the line, there was HMS Ulysses (44), the frigates HMS Acasta (18pdr, 40), HMS Ethalion (18pdr, 38), HMS Penelope (18pdr, 36), HMS Pique (18pdr, 36), HMS Cleopatra (12pdr, 32), HMS Circe (12pdr, 32) and the post-ship HMS Eurydice (9pdr, 24). There were also the ship-sloops HMS Surinam (18), HMS Cherub (18), HMS Hazard (16), HMS Star (16), HMS Stork (16), the brig-sloops HMS Recruit (18), HMS Demerara (18), HMS Wolverine (16), HMS Amaranthe (16), HMS Fawn (16), the cutter HMS Liberty (14), the gun-brigs HMS Haughty (12) and HMS Swinger (12) and the armed schooners HMS Port d'Espangne (14), HMS Superieure (14), HMS Eclair (12), HMS Bacchus (10) and HMS Express (6).

This force departed Barbados on 28th January 1809 and arrived off Martinique two days later. The colony was defended by about 2,400 regular troops and 2,500 militia. The defences were commanded by the French Vice-Admiral Villaret Joyeuse, the same officer who commanded the French fleet defeated by Lord Howe at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. The various shore batteries had a total of 280 guns. In the harbour at Fort Royal lay the large frigate Amphitrite (40) which had arrived from Cherbourg. In addition to this, the Diligente (18) was laying off St. Pierre and at Marin Bay lay the ex-HMS Carnation (18), taken on 3rd October 1808.

On 30th January 1809, 3,000 men under Major-General Fredrick Maitland were landed at Pointe St Luce under the supervision of Captain William Fahie in HMS Belle Isle. A further 600 men under Major Henderson were landed at Cape Solomon. When the French defenders spotted Major-General Maitland's force, they burned the Carnation. In addition to these landings, 6,500 men under Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost landed at Baie Robert, on the northern coast of the island. The campaign proceeded rapidly and on 24th February, the last defenders at Fort Desaix surrendered to the victorious British.

Early in February 1809, the French dispatched a force under the command of Commodore Amable-Gilles Trude, on a mission to resupply the garrison at Martinique. His force comprised the ships of the line Courageux (74), Polonais (74) and Haultpout (74). These ships were escorting the en-flute frigates Felicite and Furieuse. The term en-flute meant a warship with some of it's armament removed to make room for cargo. Trude's force arrived in the Leeward Islands on 29th March and found that Martinique had already fallen. He anchored his small force off the Iles des Saintes off Guadeloupe, where they were spotted by patrolling British warships. Cochrane knew that he couldn't allow Trude's squadron to stay in the area. He ordered that men and heavy guns be landed on the islands to drive the French out to sea, where they could be pursued and brought to action. Operations on the islands commenced on 14th April 1809 and by 20:00 that day, fire from the guns landed by the British had the desired effect and Troude ordered his ships to weigh anchor and put to sea. This had been seen by HMS Hazard and reported to the blockading squadron which comprised of the flagship, HMS Neptune plus HMS York, HMS Pompee, HMS Polyphemus, HMS Recruit and HMS Haughty. By 10pm, HMS Pompee and HMS Recruit had caught up with the rear-most French ship, the 74 gun ship of the line d'Haultport. HMS Pompee fired two broadsides into d'Haultport without effect and the French ship continued on without returning fire. At 22:15, Commander Charles Napier of HMS Recruit managed to manoeuvre his vessel under the stern of the d'Haultport and opened fire. Napier was displaying a level of courage bordering on the insane. The d'Haultport was after all, almost six times the size of his vessel and was several orders of magnitude more powerful. At 30 minutes past midnight, HMS Neptune got close enough to open fire and her broadside killed one and wounded four of d'Haultport's men. At 4am, HMS Recruit got close enough to fire another broadside into the French ship. HMS Pompee opened fire from long range with her bow-chasers and throughout the night, HMS Recruit continued to harass the French ship. At 10:45, the French ship's commander decided to do something about HMS Recruit's fire, so briefly turned his ship into the wind and fired a full broadside at the relatively tiny British vessel. This damaged HMS Recruit's rigging on the port side, but did no significant damage and caused no casualties. Napier was not intimidated by this and as soon as d'Haultport had resumed her course, he continued with his attacks, pulling up to the Frenchman's stern and letting them have two broadsides through the stern. This continued throughout the day, with HMS Pompee joining in the running battle while she was able to. By daybreak on the 16th April, HMS Recruit had been forced to drop astern of d'Haultport as a result of the damage to her rigging. In the meantime, the chase had been joined by HMS Latona, an 18pdr armed 38 gun frigate and HMS Castor, a 12pdr armed 32 gun frigate. HMS Castor took HMS Recruit's place off d'Haultport's stern and continued to harass the larger French ship until HMS Pompee closed the range sufficiently to bring her to action properly. The harassing from HMS Recruit and then HMS Castor had slowed the French ship enough for HMS Pompee to come alongside and batter her into surrender.

In the meantime, the Felicite and the Furieuse had remained off the Saintes, but got underway at 09:00 on the 15th and made it to Guadeloupe despite being chased by HMS Intrepid. On the night of the 14th June, the two French ships left Guadeloupe bound for France and were sighted by HMS Haughty who opened fire on them both. By the next morning, the French ships were being chased by HMS Latona, HMS Cherub and HMS Haughty and the chase continued for the next three days until the French ships seperated. The Furieuse was chased by HMS Cherub and escaped but the Felicite was pursued and caught by HMS Latona and surrendered without a fight.

By 1813, HMS Haughty was in the Mediterranean and was part of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Fremantle in the 74 gun third rate ship of the line HMS Milford. Also in the squadron were HMS Elizabeth and HMS Eagle (both of 74 guns) and the 18pdr-armed frigate HMS Bacchante of 38 guns. In the morning of the 3rd July, the squadron got under way from an anchorage about four miles from the port of Fiume on the coast of modern-day Croatia. The Rear-Admiral ordered that a number of boats and a party of marines remain with HMS Haughty to storm a battery located on the end of the mole at Fiume as soon as the ships of the line had silenced it. The guns of the shore battery were quickly silenced. The battery on the end of the mole was stormed by the marines, who went on to storm another one further up the mole. The seamen and marines turned the guns against the other batteries along the mole and then dashed into the town and drove the French from it. Re-embarking in their ships, Rear-Admiral Fremantle's force then moved further along the coast to the town and port of Porto-Re, which they attacked on the 5th and found the forts had been abandoned by the enemy. They moved on to Bocca-Re and found a 14-strong convoy in the harbour burned. Destroying the shore batteries, the men returned to their ships without loss.

On the 7th at 11:00, HMS Eagle attacked the fortress at Farasine, silencing the guns. Men landed from the ship stormed the fortress and demolished it, again without loss. Thing continued in this vein with the squadron moving along the coast. The fortresses at Rovigno and on the island of Ragosniza were all stormed and destroyed.

By the 22nd August, with the war now over, HMS Haughty was back in The Downs and was engaged as before. The war against the Americans ended in February 1815 and on the 11th January 1816, HMS Haughty was sold at Plymouth.

HMS Manly/HMS Bold

HMS Manly was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven such vessels contracted to John Dudman's shipyard at Deptford. Contracted on the 9th January 1804 along with the rest of the batch, her first keel section was laid at Deptford in February of 1804, she was launched into the river Thames on the 5th July. Fitted out at the Deptford Royal Dockyard, HMS Manly was declared complete on the 20th June and commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant George MacKay.

In May of 1805, HMS Manly was operating off Boulogne keeping an eye on the fleet of invasion barges being assembled there in preparation for Bonaparte's planned attack on the UK. This was eventually frustrated by Sir Robert Calder's victory in the Third Battle of Cape Finisterre and Nelson's at the Battle of Trafalgar.

On the 19th December 1806, the Dutch gunboat Vos was off The Knock when they encountered a boat from the Dutch galley Noordveer who informed them that their vessel had sighted a small, apparently British brig aground flying American colours. The galley's pilot had been forced to stay aboard the British vessel, who's crew were hoping to be able to refloat their vessel soon. Lieutenant Ilsbrands of the Vos decided to head back to Delfzijl to gather reinforcements and on his way back to the British vessel's position encountered a boat carrying Lieutenant Martin White, HMS Manly's commander with her boatswain Mr Peter Graij, her gunner Mr James Robinson and seamen Robert Telford and John Wilcolf. The Dutch took Mr White and his men prisoner, but on being taken, Mr White requested that they be allowed to return to HMS Manly to retrieve his money and clothes. When the Vos approached HMS Manly, she was fired upon, so intead returned to Delfzijl for reinforcements. On arrival at the Dutch base, Mr Ilsbrands gathered a further three gunboats and returned to HMS Manly's position. On the 22nd December, the Vos and the other gunboats reached HMS Manly's position and her Sailing Master, Mr William Golding surrendered the vessel without a fight. HMS Manly was taken into Dutch Service under her British name and was refitted with ten ex-British 18pdr carronades and four brass 6pdr long guns.

In the Court Martial which followed their repatriation under a prisoner exchange, Mr Golding was found guilty of Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer and was stripped of his rank and ordered to serve "before the mast" as a seaman for two years. Lieutenant White was given a formal reprimand for not attempting to lighten his vessel and refloat her before trying to summon help from the Dutch authorities ashore.

At daybreak on the 1st January 1809, the British 18pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Onyx of 10 guns was patrolling near Heligoland when they sighted a strange sail. On making a private recognition signal, HMS Onyx's lookouts reported that the stranger had hoisted Dutch colours. Commander George Gill of HMS Onyx decided to bring the Dutch vessel to action and, holding his course until 08:00, bore down on the Dutch brig, now identified as being the ex-HMS Manly. Manly made several attempts to rake HMS Onyx but was frustrated by the brig-sloop's superior manoeuvrability. HMS Onyx kept up a well-directed cannonade and at 10:30, much cut up in her sails and rigging, with most of her guns disabled and having suffered five dead and six wounded, the Manly surrendered.

For his skill and courage in defeating a superior enemy in heavy seas, Commander Gill of HMS Onyx was posted or promoted to Captain, while his First Lieutenant Mr Edward William Garrett was made a Master and Commander.

The Manly was restored to British service under her original name and following repairs, was recommissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Edward Nathaniel Greensword. Mr Greensword remained in command until June of 1809 when he was replacced in command by Mr Thomas Greenwood. Mr Greensword had been appointed as the officer in command of the ex-Danish 74-gun ship of the line Fyen, serving as a prison hulk at Chatham. Mr Greenwood was in turn replaced in 1811 by Mr Richard William Simmonds.

At 01:30 on the 2nd September 1811, HMS Many was patrolling off Norway in company with the 18pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Chanticleer of ten guns when they sighted three sail to the westward. HMS Chanticleer immediately set off in chase, followed by HMS Manly. The strangers were identified as being the large Danish brig-sloops Loland, Samsoe and Alsen, each armed with 18 x 18pdr long guns. At 02:30, HMS Chanticleer closed with and hailed the Samsoe and received a broadside in reply and the two vessels began a firefight at close range. Shortly after, Loland and Alsen, which had begun firing at HMS Manly, headed off to support the other vessel in her fight with HMS Chanticleer. On sighting the two powerful Danish brigs heading his way, Commander Richard Speer made off, chased by the three Danish vessels. The Loland then altered course for HMS Manly, which was coming up to support HMS Chanticleer. At 04:00, the Loland opened fire on the much smaller British gun-brig and the two vessels began a fight at close range. At 06:00, having given up with their chase of HMS Chanticleer, the Alsen and Samsoe joined in the fight with HMS Manly. The British vessel quicky found herself surrounded by the enemy. With her sails and rigging cut to pieces, both masts and the bowsprit badly damaged and her hull shot full of holes, Lieutenant Simmonds ordered his colours to be lowered in surrender. In his report to his superior, Rear-Admiral Lufkin, Captain Holm of the Loland in overall command of the Danish squadron wrote "It must be confessed that it reflects much honour on the commander of the Manly to have made such a resistance". When Mr Simmonds faced a Court Martial for the loss of his vessel after he was repatriated by the Danes, he was honourably acquitted.

HMS Manly was in Danish service under her British name until the Danish Navy sold her into merchant service in 1813, after their involvement in the Napoleonic War was ended as a result of the Battle of Lyngor on the 7th July 1812. In March 1813, the Manly was captured by her sister-brig HMS Redbreast and was taken back into the Royal Navy. In the intervening time, a new HMS Manly had been built so on being refitted at Deptford Royal Dockyard and recommissioned in October of 1813, the vessel was renamed to HMS Bold. HMS Bold was engaged in patrols of the English Channel until the Napoleonic War was ended in April 1814. On the 11th August 1814, HMS Bold was sold for £940.

HMS Plumper/L'Argus

HMS Plumper was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven vessels of the batch contracted from John Dudman's Deptford shipyard. Her first keel section was laid in April of 1804 and she was launched into the river Thames on the 7th September. Fitted with guns, masts and rigging at the Deptford Royal Dockyard, she was commissioned for the English Channel under Lieutenant James Henry Garrety in October. HMS Plumper was declared complete on the 12th December 1804.

On the 15th July 1805, HMS Plumper was patrolling off Granville in company with her sister-brig HMS Teazer when they became becalmed. In danger of being swept by the swift currents onto rocks, both vessels anchored, but were too far apart to be able to offer mutual support should they be attacked. Capitaine de Vasseau Louis-Leon Jacob, commanding a division of French gunboats based in ports between St. Malo and Cherbourg, received intelligence about the plight of the pair of British vessels and immediately ordered seven large gunboats to capture them. The seven gunboats, each armed with three 24pdr long guns and an 8in howitzer engaged HMS Plumper, the nearest of the British brigs at 02:30 the following day. The French gunboats were able to bombard HMS Plumper with their 24pdr guns knowing that they were out of range of the British vessel's carronades and after enduring the bombardment for an hour and suffering casualties of 17 men, including her commander, Lieutenant James Henry Garrety who had an arm shot away, HMS Plumper lowered her colours in surrender. After securing their prize, the French anchored for the rest of the night and at 06:00, weighed anchor and made towards HMS Teazer. At 08:45, the French opened fire on HMS Teazer, once more safely out of range of the British gun-brig's carronades. At 09:00, Mr Kerr ordered that the anchor cable be cut and all sails set in an attempt to escape, but still being becalmed, went nowhere and after being surrounded by the French vessels which were under oars, HMS Teazer also surrendered to the enemy. In the Action of 15th July 1805, Mr Garrety suffered the loss of an arm, had his leg smashed by grapeshot and his chest wounded by langridge shot. He was taken below and Mr Midshipman Richards had made the decision to surrender the vessel. The now ex-HMS Plumper had been badly damaged and was sining when she finally made it into the French port of Granville. After being taken by the French, she was sold into the privateering trade and served private owners until the Napoleonic War was ended in April of 1814. On the 29th September 1814, Le Plumper was sold on and was renamed to L'Argus.

Under the Treaty which ended the war, the British had agreed to return the French colony of Senegal in West Africa. L'Argus was one of a number of vessels which included the French 40-gun frigate La Meduse. In the meantime, the French Republic had fallen and the French Monarchy had been restored under King Louis VIII. One of the King's first acts was to restore the dominance of the French aristocracy in the ranks of the French navy and Captain Viscount Hugues Duroy de Chaumareys was appointed in command of La Meduse despite been abroad during the era of the Republic and having not gone to sea in more than 20 years. La Meduse, L'Argus along with the storeship Loire and the brig-corvette L'Echo were ordered to proceed to Port St. Louis in Senegal on the 7th June 1816 to receive the British handover of the colony and aboard La Meduse was the newly-appointed French Governor of the colony, Colonel Julien-Desire Schmalz with his wife and daughter.

After taking on supplies at Madeira, the convoy left for Senegal and La Meduse overtook the other vessels but due to a navigational error, ended up 100 miles off-course and went aground on a sandbank some 30 miles from the shore near modern-day Mauritania on the 2nd July 1816. Efforts to refloat the ship proved unsuccessful and were frustrated by Captain Chaumarey's refusal to heave the guns overboard. A plan was drawn up to ferry the passengers and crew, numbering over 400 people the 30 miles to the shore in the ship's boats. Unfortunately, there was only room for 250 people in the boats, so it was decided to make two trips. A raft was built, 66ft long and 23ft wide, to carry the cargo and be towed by the boats.

On the 5th July, a gale blew up and La Meduse began to show signs of breaking up, so in panic, they took to the boats with the remaining 146 people climbing onto the raft, which partially sank under their weight, the original intention being to tow the raft to the shore. Seventeen men decided to stay aboard La Meduse and take their chances. After a few miles however, the people in the boats began to fear being overwhelmed by the desperate people on the raft, cut it loose and left them to their fate, leaving them with a bag of ship's biscuit, two casks of water and six casks of wine to sustain 146 people.

On the raft, fighting broke out with people attempting to get to the centre of the raft. In the chaos and confusion, the water was lost overboard leaving just the wine. On the first night, 20 men were killed in the fighting or committed suicide by throwing themselves into the shark-infested water. In the rough seas, more people were killed fighting to get to the centre of the raft or were washed overboard so that by day 4, only 67 of the 146 were left alive. The survivors resorted to cannibalism and on the eighth day, the fittest and strongest decided to throw the weak and the wounded overboard.

13 days after abandoning La Meduse, the raft was accidentally found by L'Argus, which wasn't actually looking for them. When L'Argus found the raft, of the 146 people who boarded it, only 15 were left alive. The rescue of the survivors on the raft is the subject of one of the most famous paintings in the world, "The Raft of the Medusa" by Theodore Gericault. The production of this painting is the subject of a new film directed by Peter Webber and starring Pierce Brosnan and Jessie Eisenberg.

The Raft of the Medusa:



L'Argus took the survivors to Port St. Louis, where five of them died within days of arrival. Captain Chaumareys decided that he would send a salvage mission to the location of La Meduse to see if they could retrieve the gold left on the ship. When they arrived at the scene 54 days after the ship was abandoned, they found the ship largely intact but of the 17 men who remained aboard, there were only three survivors.

As for the people in the boats, which included Captain Chaumareys amd Colonel Schmalz, they made it to the shore then travelled overland to Senegal although some died during the journey. When an account of the disaster was published on the 13th September 1816 a scandal erupted and the Government of King Louis XVIII attempted a cover-up. In 1817, Captain Chaumareys faced a Court Martial at Rochefort accused of abandoning his squadron, failing to attempt to attempt to refloat La Meduse, incompetent and complacent navigation, abandoning the raft and abandoning La Meduse before all the passengers and crew had been safely taken off. He was facing the death penalty, but on being found guilty on some of the charges, he was only sentenced to three years in prison and the Court Martial was widely reported in the French press as being a whitewash. In 1818, Governor Schmalz was forced to resign and in 1819, the French Minister of Marine passed laws ordering that promotions and positions in the French armed forces be based soley on merit.

In 1818, L'Argus was acquired by the French Colonial Service and ran passengers from Lorient to Port St. Louis and on one mission, she was sent over 100 miles up the Senegal River to re-occupy Fort St. Joseph in the Kingdom of Galam.

In October 1822, L'Argus was condemned at Port St. Louis and in 1827, was struck from the French register of shipping.

HMS Pelter

HMS Pelter was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven vessels of the batch contracted from John Dudman's Deptford shipyard. Her first keel section was laid in February of 1804 and she was launched into the river Thames on the 25th July. Fitted with guns, masts and rigging at the Deptford Royal Dockyard, she was commissioned for the English Channel under Lieutenant William Evelyn in August. HMS Pelter was declared complete on the 6th September 1804.

On the 12th April 1805, HMS Pelter was ordered to the Cork Station and was engaged on patrols of the Western Approaches.

On the 3rd March 1809, HMS Pelter was ordered to the Leeward Islands in the West Indies, to be engaged in escorting convoys from Barbados to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On the 26th August, HMS Pelter captured a small French privateer of one gun.

In December 1809, HMS Pelter failed to return to Barbados on a voyage from Halifax and is presumed to have foundered with all hands.

HMS Wrangler

HMS Wrangler was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of seven vessels of the batch contracted from John Dudman's Deptford shipyard. Her first keel section was laid in April of 1804 and she was launched into the river Thames on the 28th May. Fitted with guns, masts and rigging at the Deptford Royal Dockyard, she was commissioned for the Downs under Lieutenant Charles Burlton in JUne. HMS Wrangler was declared complete on the 3rd July 1804. Mr Burlton was only in command until December, when he was replaced by Mr James Pettet.

HMS Wrangler was engaged in patrolling the North Sea and English Channel and these operations extended into the Baltic when the Gunboat War broke out with Denmark in 1807. In 1812, Lieutenant Pettet was appointed to command the armed cutter HMS Sprightly of 12 guns and was replaced in HMS Wrangler by Mr John Campbell Crawford.

At 23:00 on the 16th August 1812, HMS Wrangler's sister-brig HMS Attack was in the Kattegat when on being becalmed, she was attacked in the darkness by a division of a dozen or so Danish gunboats. At 01:40, the Danes ceased firing, HMS Attack set all sail and deployed her sweeps, or large oars and attempted to make her way to join HMS Wrangler, which had been seen fighting off another division of gunboats. They were unable to make much headway against the strong currents and at 02:10, HMS Attack was hit again by a division of Danish gunboats and this time, was forced to surrender. HMS Wrangler was successful in fighting off the Danish attack on her and is shown as continuing with her duties.

On the 14th December 1815, HMS Wrangler was sold at Woolwich for £600.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Bilgerat

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Archer Class gun-brigs (1801 and 1804 onwards)
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2018, 19:40:51 »
Part Two - HMS Mariner, HMS Minx, HMS Blazer, HMS Bruizer, HMS Clinker, HMS Cracker, HMS Flamer, HMS Firm and HMS Desperate

HMS Mariner


HMS Mariner was a member of the 1800 batch and was built under Navy Board contract by Thomas Pitcher at his Northfleet shipyard and was the first of a pair of vessels of the first batch to be contracted from him. The contracts for their construction were signed on the same day as the rest of the first batch, 30th December 1800. Her first keel section was laid at Northfleet in January of 1801 and she was launched into the River Thames on the 4th April. The vessel commissioned  for The Downs in May of 1801 under Lieutenant David Williams. On the 7th May, HMS Mariner arrived at Sheerness in company with the Bomb Vessel HMS Terror, the gun-brigs HMS Basilisk, HMS Bloodhound and sister-brig HMS Locust. From there, she was ordered to The Downs.

On the 22nd May, the hired armed cutter Queen arrived in The Downs. Her commander reported to the Commander-in-Chief in The Downs, Vice-Admiral Sir Skeffington Lutwidge, that while they had been patrolling off Flushing, they had sighted a Dutch force comprising a 64-gun ship of the line, a frigate, a brig-corvette and a number of gunboats putting to sea. A squadron of British ships had arrived on the scene and on sighting them, the Dutch force had turned around and returned to Flushing. Vice-Admiral Lutwidge had ordered the 24pdr carronade-armed ship-sloops HMS Alonzo, HMS Diligence and HMS Falcon (all of 16 guns), with the gun-brigs HMS Locust and HMS Ferreter to Flushing immediately, to be followed the next morning by HMS Mariner, HMS Archer and the 24pdr carronade-armed ship-sloop HMS Autumn of 14 guns. By the time they got there, the Dutch squadron was safely holed up under the guns of the shore batteries at Flushing.

The rest of the French Revolutionary War, the Peace of Amiens and the first year of the Napoleonic War was spent patrolling the English Channel and the North Sea.

In May of 1804, HMS Mariner, along with sister-brig HMS Minx together with two other gun-brigs, was part of a squadron under the famous Commodore Sir William Sydney Smith, flying his command broad-pendant in the 50-gun, fourth-rate ship of the line HMS Antelope. In addition to HMS Antelope and HMS Mariner and the other gun-brigs, the force also comprised the frigates HMS Penelope (18pdr, 36), the ex-French HMS Aimable (12pdr, 32), the ship-sloops HMS Rattler (6pdr, 16), HMS Galgo and HMS Inspector (both 24pdr carronade-armed ships of 16 guns) and the brig-sloop HMS Cruizer (32pdr carronade-armed, 18 guns), along with the hired armed cutter Stag of 6 guns. Commodore Smith was tasked with maintaining a blockade of Flushing, Helvoet and Ostende. He organised his force with the sloops-of-war under Captain John Hancock of HMS Cruizer operating close inshore off Ostende in company with HMS Rattler, while Lieutenant Patrick Manderson in HMS Minx was the lead vessel of a group of four other gun-brigs including HMS Mariner providing a line of communication between Smith's force and a further force blockading Calais. The other vessels were stationed off the other ports. Commodore Smith in HMS Antelope stationed himself off the Schoneveldt Estuary at a mid-point between Flushing and Ostend in order to be able to dash down and support either group as and when required, in company with the two frigates.

On the evening of the 15th May 1804, an enemy force of 22 one masted vessels and a schooner were seen to be coming out of the harbour at Ostende and anchor to the west of the lighthouse. Captain Hancock ordered the Stag under Lieutenant William Patfull to proceed with all dispatch to HMS Antelope and inform Commodore Smith of the situation. At nightfall, he took his two sloops closer inshore and anchored off the pier within range of the shore batteries. At about 9.30am the next day, HMS Rattler, which was laying a little further offshore than HMS Cruizer, made a signal that they had sighted five sail coming up from the east-south-east. A little later, she made a signal that an enemy fleet had been sighted. This turned out to be a division of the Franco-Dutch Flushing flotilla, inbound to Ostende. The enemy force consisted of two large ship-rigged prames (a kind of large, flat-bottomed barge), each carrying 12 24pdr long guns, with 19 schooners and 47 schuyts (a smaller, single-masted flat-bottomed barge, powered by either sails or oars). All in all, the enemy force consisted of 68 vessels carrying a total of more than 100 long guns, 36, 24 and 18 pounders. Between them, they were carrying between 4,000 and 6,000 troops. The enemy force was commanded by the Dutch Rear-Admiral Ver-Huell, flying his command flag in the Ville d'Anvers, one of the prames. The other prame was called the Ville d'Aix.

At about 10am, Captain Hancock ordered that the two sloops-of-war weigh anchor and make towards the enemy. At 11am, the wind shifted in favour of the British vessels and this forced the Dutch admiral to turn his force around and head back towards Flushing. At about noon, Commodore Smith came within sight of the two sloops-of-war in HMS Antelope in company with his two frigates and at about 1.30pm, HMS Cruizer bore up to one of the shuyts and opened fire, forcing the enemy vessel to strike her colours and surrender. The enemy vessel was found to be carrying a single 36pdr long gun and was manned by five Dutch seamen and 25 French troops. Signalling HMS Rattler to take possession of the enemy vessel, HMS Cruizer continued on, Captain Hancock hoping to engage one of the large prames. The Dutch admiral, feeling annoyed at seeing one of his vessels defeated by such a comparatively insignificant British sloop, took advantage of another change in the wind and headed his force back towards Ostende. The action really intensified from this point. The Ville d'Anvers fired a shot at HMS Cruizer, which passed over her and fell near HMS Rattler. At this point, the wind shifted again, forcing the two British vessels to alter course and the change of course brought them on a parallel one to that of the enemy fleet. The Ville d'Anvers then opened fire on both British vessels, as did several of the schuyts and schooners. A furious fight now ensued, with both HMS Cruizer and HMS Rattler getting stuck into the middle of the enemy fleet, by now putting on all sail and heading towards the shelter of Ostende, engaging on both sides. The British vessels were also taking fire from the shore battery at Blankenberghe. Despite this, HMS Cruizer and HMS Rattler managed to drive the Ville d'Anvers and four of the schooners ashore. At about 3.45, HMS Aimable drew up and opened fire on the enemy fleet. At 4.30pm, HMS Antelope and HMS Penelope also drew within range and opened a heavy fire on the enemy and drove ashore more of the schooners and schuyts. On the now aground Ville d'Anvers, her crew having fled, soldiers from the shore battery manned the guns and at 7 pm, HMS Aimable was damaged by their fire, having drawn within range. At 7:45pm, Commodore Smith ordered his force to disengage and withdraw because the tide had gone out, leaving his vessels operating in dangerously shallow water. What was left of the Franco-Dutch force limped into the harbour at Ostende, covered by a force of French gunboats and the shore battery on the pier-head. In what is now known as the Attack on Ver Huell's Squadron, HMS Cruizer had suffered one seaman killed, Mr George Ellis, Clerk, and three seamen wounded. HMS Rattler had suffered two seamen killed and three wounded. HMS Aimable had come off the worst in Commodore Smith's force, with Mr Christie, Masters Mate, Mr Midshipman Johnson, four seamen and one boy killed and Lieutenant William Mather, Mr William Shadwell, purser, Mr Midshipman Conner and eleven seamen wounded.

On the 17th May, Captain Hancock sent the four gun-brigs inshore to see if an attack could be mounted on the Ville d'Anvers, but on closing the range and opening fire on the grounded vessel, they were subjected to a withering fire from ashore, so withdrew. HMS Mariner suffered no damage or casualties in this attack. Undetered, Captain Hancock ordered a further attempt on the 19th, and for this the gun-brigs were reinforced by HMS Galgo and HMS Inspector. Once again, the British attack was driven off by fire from ashore and in the afternoon, the Ville d'Anvers was refloated and made it safely into Ostende.

After that, it was back to patrols and convoy duty for HMS Mariner. With the outbreak of war with the United States in July of 1812, HMS Mariner was sent to the North America Station, based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia and engaged in escorting convoys on the dangerous run between Halifax and the Caribbean. She continued operating out of Halifax until the end of the Napoleonic War in April of 1814, returned to the UK in June of 1814 and was sold on the 29th September for £870.

HMS Minx

HMS Minx was a member of the 1800 batch and was the second of a pair contracted to be built by Thomas Pitcher at his Northfleet shipyard. The contract was signed on the same day as the rest of the first batch and her first keel section was laid at Northfleet during January of 1801. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on the 14th April 1801 was was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich to be fitted with her guns, masts and rigging. HMS Minx commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Patrick Manderson.

At the time that HMS Minx entered service in the Royal Navy, the country was in the grip of another invasion scare. Despite the Royal Navy's successes thus far in the war, news had reached London that the French were preparing an invasion fleet of flat-bottomed boats, gun-brigs and barges in the area around Boulogne. The Government knew that the threat of invasion was not really credible at this stage, because to get the vast army needed to conquer Britain across the English Channel, the French needed hundreds of such craft, for which there wasn't the room in Boulogne and the surrounding area. In addition to this, there was the small matter of wresting control of the Channel from the British for long enough to actually get the fleet across the sea without suffering an unacceptable number of losses. Indeed, the French had been making diplomatic advances to the British since 1799, but the Government of William Pitt the Younger and his Foreign Secretary Lord Grenville had adopted a hard-line stance against Bonaparte and had rejected his peace overtures out of hand. In February 1801 however, the Pitt administration fell and was replaced by a more accommodating government led by Henry Addington and the new Government had indicated that it would be more receptive to French peace proposals.  The whole point of the invasion threat from the French point of view was to try to intimidate the new Government into accepting less advantageous peace terms.

Nevertheless, something had to be done to reassure an anxious public. Throughout 1801, Vice-Admiral the Honourable Sir William Cornwallis had organised defences, bands of Sea Fencibles (the Napoleonic equivalent of a kind of maritime Home Guard under Naval control, using fishing boats, coastal merchant ships and the like where needed) and local militias had been raised and armed, parades had been held in coastal towns and the great and the good of society were anxious to display their patriotism by either raising bands of Sea Fencibles or local militias at their own expense or by joining them. At the time, the threatened area was covered by three seperate Naval Commands: The North Sea Fleet, the Nore and the Downs, all of which had their own commanders. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Sir John Jervis, the Earl St. Vincent, wanted an anti-invasion force which would cover all three areas, under a single commander with his own ships, separate from those commands in order to avoid demarkation disputes and with the authority to take overall command of Sea Fencible units from Beachy Head to Orfordness and use them as he saw fit. Lord St. Vincent had a man in mind, someone who had already amply demonstrated his ability to think 'out of the box' and to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, someone who was already an 'A' list celebrity in his own right. His name was Vice-Admiral of the Blue, Sir Horatio, the Viscount Nelson.

Nelson himself was none too keen on taking up the appointment. After his very recent success at the First Battle of Copenhagen, he had wanted to settle down to a life of domestic bliss in his newly acquired mansion at Merton Place with his mistress, Emma Hamilton, who had recently given birth to a daughter. He was in constant pain because of his badly damaged right eye in which he was now completely blind and being at sea in the colder waters around the UK seemed to give him a cough he couldn't seem to shake. When at sea, he was also chronically seasick. His friend and mentor Lord St. Vincent had pursuaded him to take the appointment, which Nelson knew to be politically motivated, by offering him the post of Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean when the current incumbent, Vice-Admiral Lord Keith relinquished the role.

Lord Nelson had arrived at Sheerness on 27th April 1801 to take up his new appointment after travelling by coach from the Admiralty in London. He was expecting to raise his command flag in the 18pdr-armed 38 gun frigate HMS Amazon, but that ship was unavailable so he based himself aboard the ex-French, 12pdr-armed 32 gun frigate HMS Unité instead. Shortly afterward, Nelson made his way by coach to Deal, where he established himself in the ex-Dutch 68 gun ship of the line HMS Leyden, at anchor in the Downs, stopping at Faversham to inspect the Sea Fencibles there on the way.

In the early summer of 1801, Nelson had received correspondence from Lord St. Vincent which suggested that the public would be much reassured if the invasion fleet gathering at Boulogne was destroyed and that Nelson should plan and lead the attack. Nelson agreed and on 30th July 1801, moved his command flag to the 18pdr-armed frigate HMS Medusa of 32 guns, at the time anchored in the Downs off Deal and began to make preparations for the proposed assault.

The French had received news of Nelson's arrival in the Downs, guessed that an attack was imminent and had made preparations accordingly. The French had moored a line of 24 vessels, gun-brigs, flat-boats and a schooner across the approaches to Boulogne and had prepared batteries ashore to repel the anticipated attack. In the evening of 3rd August 1801, Nelson in HMS Medusa arrived off the port in company with a force of 28 gunboats and five bomb-vessels including HMS Minx and the following morning began a bombardment of the French defensive line. Nelson knew that the bombardment was likely to be ineffective, so after firing for about 800 rounds over 16 hours, the British retired back to the Downs. Nelson reported that a gun-brig and three flat-boats were sunk and several others driven ashore by the bombardment, while the French admitted only to losing two gunboats. This encounter pursuaded Nelson that the apparent French plans for an invasion were a bluff, but despite this, he decided to attack again but was aware that the French would have reinforced their defenses following the first attack. The French, under Admiral Latouche-Trevelle had indeed reinforced their defensive line, with three battalions of soldiers and had rigged boarding nets on all of their vessels.

For the second attack, Nelson decided to sent four divisions of armed boats in a night attack, once his force which once again included HMS Minx had anchored off Boulogne, out of range of the shore batteries. The divisions were to be commanded respectively by Captains Phillip Somerville, Edward Parker, Isaac Cotgrave and Robert Jones. A fifth division, to be commanded by Captain John Conn, was to be fitted with mortars to give fire support where needed. Their mission was to capture or destroy the French line of vessels guarding the entrance to the harbour at Boulogne. At 23:30 on 15th August 1801, the force departed from HMS Medusa to begin the attack and ran into trouble fairly quickly. The darkness of the night and the strong currents forced the divisions to seperate. Captain Somerville's division was unable to stay together and were swept by the swift current well to the eastward of Boulogne. Captain Somerville ordered that the boats of his division make their own way to their targets as best they could and just before dawn on the 16th, some of the leading boats managed to come up on a gun-brig laying close to the pier-head. This was captured after a short and sharp action but on finding the vessel secured with a chain, they were unable to tow her away. Forced by a hail of musketry and grape-shot from both the shore and from nearby vessels to abandon their prize, they were obliged to quit the scene with the coming of daylight. Their losses were heavy with Masters Mate Mr Alexander Rutherford, 14 seamen and three Marines killed with Lieutenants Thomas Oliver, Francis Dickenson, Jeremiah Skelton and William Bassett, Captain of Marines George Young, Masters Mate Mr Francis Burney, Mr Midshipman Samuel Spratley, 29 seamen and 19 Marines wounded.

Captain Parker's division met with a little more success and made it to the target area at about 00:30. The first subdivision of boats, led by Captain Parker himself came up to a large brig called Etna moored off the mole head, but was driven off by musket-fire from about 200 French soldiers stationed aboard the vessel. The second subdivision led by Lieutenant Williams captured a lugger, but on attempting to board another large brig, the Volcan, was also driven off and forced to leave the target area by the coming of daylight. They also suffered heavy casualties with Mr Midshipman William Gore, Mr Midshipman William Bristow, 15 seamen and four Marines killed, Captain Parker himself was mortally wounded, with Lieutenants Charles Pelly and Frederick Langford, Sailing Master Mr William Kirby, Midshipman the Honourable Anthony Maitland, Commander Richard Wilkinson of the Revenue Cutter Greyhound, 30 seamen and six Marines also wounded.

Captain Cotgrave's division ran into similar opposition and were also forced to retire from the scene with heavy casualties of Mr Midshipman Berry and four seamen killed and a Gunner, 23 seamen and five Marines wounded. Captain Jones' division didn't make it to the scene at all, being swept away by the currents and forced to make their way back to HMS Medusa without having been able to engage the enemy.

In the Raids on Boulogne, the British had found to their cost that the French were very well prepared. The large brigs had turned out to be heavily armed vessels of about 250 tons, armed with between four and eight guns, 24 or 18pdrs and in some cases, 36 pounders. The flat-boats were lugger-rigged, only drew about three feet of water, carried a crew of about 30, plus about 150 soldiers and were armed with a 13 inch mortar, a 24pdr long gun plus swivel guns, plus the soldiers muskets.

The Raid on Boulogne on 15th August 1801:



On the 24th August, HMS Minx ran aground on the Sandwich Flats, but was refoated without damage with the assistance of men sent from the Downs.

Once the Treaty of Amiens had been signed in the spring of 1802, HMS Minx continued with her duties of patrolling the North Sea and the English Channel and on the 13th November 1802, was one of three gun-brigs sent to the port of Shields in Northumberland to deal with rioting and striking merchant seamen. See the story of HMS Conflict above for details of that. By the 6th January 1803, HMS Minx had returned to the Nore off Sheerness.

The Napoleonic War broke out in May of 1803 and on the 27th June, HMS Minx in company with the gun-brig HMS Escort, arrived in Harwich with three armed Dutch fishing Schuyts and brought intelligence that the Dutch had begun to arm fishing boats and put anything up to 100 men in them an use them for privateering.

HMS Minx spent the rest of 1803 patrolling as before. On the 10th December, she was anchored off Dover when a storm blew up, with high seas and despite the effors of her crew, she was driven ashore on the rocks below Dover Castle. With waves breaking over the vessel, Dover boatmen rescued all her crew and took them into Dover Harbour. Overnight, HMS Minx was blown off the rocks and eventually went hard aground on Shingley Beach. The 11th December was spent taking off the vessel's guns and stores and by the 15th, she had been refloated and was safely in Dover Harbour. A survey found that although she had lost most of her copper, she was not too badly damaged and on the 23rd December, HMS Minx sailed from Dover to Sheerness for repairs. On the 5th January 1804, HMS Minx was hauled up the slipway at Sheerness for the repairs to begin. While the repairs were ongoing on the 23rd February, Mr Manderson faced a Court Martial at Sheerness for the near-loss of his vessel and on the 25th he was acquitted. After hearing the evidence, the Court Martial Board decided that Lieutenant Manderson and his crew were not to blame, they had been caught on a lee shore and had done all in their power to prevent their vessel from being swept by the wind and waves onto the rocks. On the 1st March 1804, HMS Minx and her crew returned to duty and the vessel arrived back in The Downs to resume their patrols.

Between the 15th and 19th May 1804, HMS Minx was involved in the Actions off Ostende including the Attack on Ver Huell's Squadron described earlier.

HMS Minx continued operating in the North Sea until she was captured by a force of Danish gunboats off The Skaw on the 2nd September 1809. The vessel was taken into the Danish Navy under her British name and served until she was sold in 1810.

HMS Blazer

HMS Blazer was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of four such vessels built by Thomas Pitcher at his Northfleet shipyard. The contracts for the construction of all four vessels were signed on the 9th January 1804 and her first keel section was laid the following month. HMS Blazer was launched with all due ceremony into the River Thames on the 3rd May 1804 and the vessel commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant John Knight.

HMS Blazer was employed in patrolling the English Channel and North Sea. On the 23rd October, HMS Blazer was present off Ostende when her sister-brig HMS Conflict was captured by the enemy.

On the 6th October 1806, HMS Blazer captured the vessel Mercurious, which yielded a considerable amount of prize money, with the commanding officer's share being £62.4s.10d.

Things continued in this vein for the rest of the war, with HMS Blazer operating out of Yarmouth from the beginning of 1810. By March 1813, HMS Blazer was under the command of Lieutenant Francis Banks and he was in overall command of a small British force operating from the island of Heligoland. On 14th March, he received information that the French force occupying Cuxhaven was in trouble and that Russian troops had entered the city of Hamburg. He took his own vessel and the ex-Danish gun-brig HMS Brevdrageren under Lieutenant Thomas Devon together with a platoon of troops and proceeded to the River Elbe in the hope of intercepting a force of French gunboats known to be based at Cuxhaven should they attempt to escape. Early in the morning of the 15th, the two British brigs entered the river and found the French in the process of destroying some 20 gunboats. The following day, after receiving an invitation from ashore, Mr Banks landed with the troops and took possession of the shore batteries at Cuxhaven and by agreement with the Hamburg authorities, hoisted British colours alongside those of Hamburg over the batteries. On the 20th, while the two British brigs were laying at anchor off Cuxhaven, Lieutenant Devon volunteered to take a boat from each brig up the river in search of a privateer they had received intelligence about. That night, Mr Devon took HMS Brevdrageren's gig with eight men together with HMS BLazer's cutter with a further eleven men and went in search of the privateer. Dawn on the 21st found the two boats off the Danish port of Brunsbuttel about 30 miles upstream in sight of two large Danish galliots (a kind of large, oared vessel). Assuming the two galliots to be merchant vessels, Lieutenant Devon with his two boats approached them but on drawing nearer discovered them to be gunboats, the nearest of which hoisted Danish colours and opened fire. Mr Devon decided the safest thing to do was to rush to the attack and board the vessel as quickly as possible. Accordingly, the two British boats rushed the Danish vessel, boarded and without receiving any casualties, captured her. The Danish vessel was the Jonge Troutman of 26 men with two 18pdr long guns and three 12pdr carronades. Securing the prisoners below, Lieutenant Devon made after the other Danish vessel and with the other British boat having cut off the Danish vessel's escape, the second Danish gunboat was also captured without loss. The other vessel was found to be the Liebe, armed as the Jonge Troutman.

In early October 1813, Captain Arthur Farquhar in the 18pdr-armed 36-gun ex-French frigate HMS Desiree arrived at Heligoland and assumed overall command of the force operating from the island. By this time, French troops had recaptured Cuxhaven. On the 30th November 1813, Captain Farquhar's force which included HMS Blazer co-operated with a Russian force which succeeded in taking the shore batteries protecting Cuxhaven from the French. The Captain then took his force across the Elbe to the fortress at Gluckstadt and in conjunction with a detachment of troops from Sweden captured the fortress after a 16-day seige and a bombardment lasting six days on the 5th January 1814.

The Napoleonic War was ended by the Treaty of Fontainebleu shortly afterward and on the 15th December 1814, HMS Blazer was sold for £710.

HMS Bruizer

HMS Bruizer was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of four such vessels contracted from Thomas Pitcher's Northfleet shipyard. All four contracts were signed on the 9th January 1804 and her keel was laid the following month. HMS Bruizer was launched into the river Thames on the 28th April 1804 and the vessel was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging also at Northfleet. Declared complete on the 30th April, HMS Bruizer commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Thomas Smithies and was immediately employed in patrolling the English Channel.

At the end of October 1803, HMS Bruizer was operating off Calais and Boulogne as part of a force of sloops-of-war and gun brigs, under the orders of Captain Robert Honeyman in the 18pdr armed 38 gun frigate HMS Leda. At the time, the French had assembled a huge army of some 83,000 men in the area around Boulogne in preparation for an invasion of England and Captain Honeyman's force was engaged in making sure that this army did not have the means to cross the English Channel. At 09:00 on 31st October, the three vessels were off Etaples near Calais and were working towards the shore against a strong east-south-easterly wind. A large brig mounting 12 24pdr long guns was seen coming out of Etaples in company with a number of smaller vessels and Captain Honeyman ordered the 6pdr-armed ship-sloop HMS Lark (16) and and the 32pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Harpy (18) to give chase. Independently of Captain Honeyman's force, the hired armed cutter Admiral Mitchell, armed with a dozen 12pdr carronades, patrolling off Calais, had also sighted the enemy vessels and had also given chase. At 10am, the Admiral Mitchell brought the enemy vessels to action and forced the brig and one of the other vessels to run ashore.

Despite the efforts of Captain Honeyman and his vessels, more and more French vessels began to assemble in the Boulogne Road, immediately off the port and under the cover of powerful shore batteries. On 19th July 1804, in the afternoon, the wind began to rise from the east-north-east and caused such a sea to rise that the masters of the various French vessels anchored in the Boulogne Road began to get uneasy. In order to prevent themselves being wrecked on a lee shore, many of the enemy vessels began to put to sea to either ride out the storm in the open sea, or to make for Etaples, which offered better shelter. Captain Honeyman ordered HMS Harpy and the gun brigs HMS Archer and HMS Bloodhound to immediately chase down and attack any vessels leaving the anchorage. At the same time, the 24pdr carronade-armed ship-sloop HMS Autumn of 14 guns operating independently also got stuck in. There is no record of the numbers of French vessels driven ashore after being caught between the guns of the Royal Navy and the weather. It is known however that the bodies of over 400 French soldiers and sailors were washed ashore and the disaster was witnessed by Napoleon himself. He was taught a valuable lesson; that it was not just the Royal Navy he had to fear when trying to get his huge army across the English Channel.

Nevertheless, the preparations for the invasion of Britain continued and by 25th August, some 146 French gun-vessels were laying in the Boulogne Road, 62 of them were gun-brigs and the rest were mainly luggers. In order to entertain the Emperor, the French admiral Bruix decided to order a division of these vessels to weigh anchor and head towards where HMS Bruizer was laying, keeping an eye on them. At about 13:45, an exchange of fire began between the French gun-boats and HMS Bruizer, which soon brought the ex-French 18pdr armed 38 gun frigate HMS Immortalite to the spot and at 14:30 the frigate opened fire on the French too. The French decided to withdraw but the foray had pursuaded the British to keep HMS Immortalite closer to the shore. The following day, the British decided to hit the French force and to that end, HMS Immortalite accompanied by HMS Harpy, the gun brig HMS Adder and HMS Constitution made sail towards a force of some 60 gun-brigs and other vessels. The French kept close to the shore in order to tempt the British under the guns of the shore batteries. The temptation was too much to resist for the British and despite the incessant fire from ashore, they closed to within three quarters of a mile from the shore and opened fire on the cast numbers of French vessels arrayed before them. While the Constitution was engaging a heavy gun-brig on one side and two luggers on the other with her 12pdr carronades, she was hit by a 13in shell which passed clean through her without exploding. Unfortunately, the hole in her bottom could not be plugged and the vessel began to sink. The squadron sent boats to rescue the crew of the Constitution, who were saved without loss. HMS Harpy was also hit by a shell which killed one of her seamen and lodged in a beam immediately under her main deck. The shell did not explode, it appeared that before lodging in the beam, it passed through the body of the sailor it killed and his blood put the fuse out. Things continued like this until about 28th August, during which time over 20 of the French invasion craft had been destroyed despite being under the protection of powerful shore batteries. Again, Napoleon was taught a hard lesson. In the space of five weeks he had witnessed what the Royal Navy and the weather would do to his invasion fleet and that was before they even got out of their base.

Things continued in this vein for the rest of 1804 and into 1805. On 29th January 1805, HMS Harpy's men cut out a lugger from off Boulogne and sent it back to Deal with HMS Bruizer.

On 24th April 1805, HMS Leda spotted a force of 27 French Schyuts coming around Cap Gris Nes and Captain Honeyman ordered the squadron including HMS Bruizer to engage. HMS Fury (12), HMS Harpy, HMS Railleur (14), HMS Bruizer, HMS Gallant (12), HMS Archer (12), HMS Locust (12), HMS Tickler (12), HMS Watchful (12), HMS Monkey (12) and HMS Firm (12), tore into the enemy. After a fight, which occurred close to the enemy shore batteries on Cap Gris Nes, HMS Starling and HMS Locust had captured 8 of the enemy vessels. The next day, HMS Archer brought in two more and HMS Railleur brought in another 8. The rest of the squadron accounted for another ten in addition to an unarmed transport ship.

On the 29th January 1806, HMS Bruizer captured the French privateer L'Impromptu off Folkestone and brought the prize back to The Downs. On 2nd January 1807, she recaptured the brig John and Mary of Sunderland.

HMS Bruizer spent the rest of the war patrolling the English Channel and North Sea and escorting convoys to and from the Baltic. With the end of the war, HMS Bruizer was sold on the 24th February 1815.

HMS Clinker

HMS Clinker was a member of the 1804 batch and was one of four such vessels contracted from Thomas Pitcher's Northfleet shipyard. All four contracts were signed on the 9th January 1804 and her keel was laid the following month. HMS Clinker was launched into the river Thames on the 30th June 1804 and the vessel was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging also at Northfleet. Declared complete on the 12th September, HMS Clinker commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Nisbet Glen and was immediately employed in patrolling the English Channel.

On the 21st May 1805, HMS Clinker in company with the hired armed cutter Nelson captured the French privateer Felicidad in the English Channel.

On the 10th June 1805, HMS Clinker was in company with the ex-French 12pdr-armed 36-gun frigate HMS Chiffone, the 24pdr carronade-armed 16-gun ship-sloop HMS Falcon and the hired armed cutter Frances were patrolling off Le Havre when they sighted a 31-strong French convoy leaving the French port and immediately gave chase. The convoy had a powerful escort, two gun-brigs Foudre and Audacieuse each of ten guns, four or six 18pdr long guns with the rest being 36pdr carronades, four gunboats each with three 24pdr long guns and an 8in mortar, three more each with a 24pdr long gun and a field piece and eight others, each with a pair of 4pdr or 6pdr long guns. Undeterred, at 09:30 HMS Chiffone closed with and opened fire on the leading vessels of the convoy including the Foudre, but as she was getting into shallow water, was forced to haul off. At 10:30, HMS Chiffone commenced firing again, followed by HMS Falcon and HMS Clinker and forced some of the vessels ashore. Towards noon, the French convoy ran close inshore under the cover of shore batteries at Cap de Caiset and at 13:30, the British once again closed the range and opened fire. HMS Falcon became closely engaged with the Audacieuse and as they passed along the coast, they came under fire from the shore battery. Despite this, HMS Falcon and HMS Chiffone continued the engagement until HMS Falcon and HMS Clinker fell behind the faster frigate. HMS Chiffone finally discontinued the action at 16:30, when the French convoy got safely under the cover of shore batteries at Fecamp. In the Action of the 10th June 1805, HMS Clinker suffered damage to her rigging and had one man killed with another wounded.

At 05:15 on the 23rd July, the convoy put to sea again hoping to reach Boulogne and was intercepted again by HMS Clinker, her sister-brig HMS Cracker, the Frances and the 9pdr-armed, 24-gun Post Ship HMS Champion. At 07:00, HMS Champion engaged the Audacieuse, the Foudre and the larger gunboats. This forced the French convoy once again inshore seeking the cover of shore batteries which opened a withering fire on the British vessels. HMS Clinker suffered further damage and at the close of the action at 10:30, had three feet of water in her hold.

In April 1806, Mr Glen was replaced in command of HMS Clinker by Mr John Salmon. At some point in December 1806, HMS Clinker foundered in a storm off Le Havre and was lost with all hands.

HMS Cracker

HMS Cracker was a member of the 1804 batch and was the last of four vessels of that batch to be built under a contract signed on the 9th January 1804 by Thomas Pitcher at Northfleet. Her first keel section was laid at Northfleet in April of 1804 and she was launched along with sister-brig HMS Clinker on the 30th June. Fitted out with guns, masts and rigging at Northfleet, she was declared complete on the 12th September and commissioned for the Channel Fleet under Lieutenant William Henry Douglas. She was assigned to patrols and convoy duty in home waters and off the Channel coast of France.

On the 10th June and 23rd July 1805, HMS Cracker was involved in attacks on a French convoy as described above.

On the 1st February 1812, HMS Cracker now commanded by Mr Michael Fitton arrived in The Downs having been badly damaged in her hull and rigging during a three-hour long action against a French gun-brig which had been so close inshore that the enemy vessel was assisted by cavalry artillery. Repairs completed by the 24th February, HMS Cracker departed from off Deal to assist a merchant vessel in trouble off the Goodwins.

The Napoleonic War ended in April 1814, but the war against the Americans which had started two years earlier continued. American privateers were active in the English Channel and Western Approaches, so her duties escorting convoys continued until that war was ended in February of 1815. On the 23rd November 1815, HMS Cracker was sold at Portsmouth for £750.

HMS Flamer

HMS Flamer was the first of a pair of vessels of the 1804 batch contracted from Thomas and Josiah Brindley at the Quarry House shipyard at Frindsbury. Contracted along with the rest of the batch on the 9th January 1804, her first keel section was laid at Frindbury the following month and the vessel was launched on the 8th May. She was then fitted with guns masts and rigging at the Chatham Royal Dockyard and commissioned for The Downs under Mr Francis Story. HMS Flamer was engaged in patrols and convoy duty in the English Channel. By 1811, her area of operations had extended to the Baltic Sea as a result of the ongoing war against Denmark-Norway.

On the 1st June 1812, HMS Flamer, now under the command of Lieutenant Thomas England,  captured the French privateer Pauline in the North Sea.

On the 6th July 1812, HMS Flamer was part of a squadron under Captain James Patteson Stewart in the 64-gun, third rate ship of the line HMS Dictator. The other vessels in the squadron were the 32pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS calypso of 18 guns and the 24pdr carronade-armed brig-sloop HMS Podargus of 14 guns. That evening, the squadron sighted a group of sails behind some rocks off Mardoe on the Norway coast which were identified as being the brand new Danish 24pdr-armed Heavy Frigate Nayaden of 40 guns, the only remaining large vessel in the Danish navy, and the brig-sloops Lolland, Kiel and Samsoe, all of 18 guns each. HMS Podargus had a man aboard who was familiar with the area, so her commander, Commander William Robiliard, volunteered to lead the squadron to the attack. Shortly after they steered into the passage, HMS Podargo ran aground. Ordering her to be assisted by HMS Flamer, Captain Steward continued on in HMS Dictator followed by HMS Calypso. Captain Hans Peter Holm of the Najaden decided to run, leading his vessels through the maze of channels off the northern coast of Denmark in the assumption that the British wouldn't follow. HMS Flamer and HMS Podargus came under attack from a force of Danish gunboats. In the meantime, the Najaden came to anchor in the Lyngor Sound, off the islands of Homen and Odden and, assuming the British wouldn't follow him into the Sound, anchored his ship with her broadside facing Holmen, thinking that the British attack would come from that direction. HMS Dictator followed the Najaden through the Sound and ran aground with her bow on the beach and her broadside facing the stern of the anchored Najaden at a range of about 30 yards. At 21:30, HMS Dictator and HMS Calypso opened fire on the helpless Danish frigate and immediately brought down her main mast and within 45 minutes, the only remaining large warship in the Danish navy had been battered to the point where she sank at her mooring with the loss of 133 lives. Seeing the destruction of the Najaden, the three Danish brig-sloops surrendered. Shortly after she was refloated at about 02:00 on the 7th July, HMS Dictator and HMS Calypso were attacked by Danish gunboats and were harried by them all the way out of the Sound. The prizes had to be abandoned and burned as already damaged, they suffered further damage as they were leaving the Sound and became unmanageable. In what is now known as the Battle of Lyngor, HMS Flamer, having fought off the Danish gunboats, suffered casualties of one seaman killed and Mr Midshipman James Powell wounded.

A model of the Najaden:



The Battle of Lyngor. HMS Dictator is the large vessel in the centre background:



The Battle of Lyngor ended the involvement of Denmark in the Napoleonic War and two years later, the Treaty of Kiel was signed, ending the war and opening the way to Norwegian independence.

After the Battle of Lyngor, it was back to her normal duties for HMS Flamer and her crew. The Napoleonic War ended in April 1814 and HMS Flamer was paid off into the Ordinary at Sheerness.

In May of 1815, HMS Flamer was transferred to the Alien Office, to be based at Gravesend. The Alien Office was a department of the Home Office and was founded in 1793 to control the influx of refugees and suspected spies and revolutionaries from France. It evolved into the first proper secret intelligence gathering service and was the ancestor of today's MI5. HMS Flmer remained with the Alien Office until 1841 when she was transferred again, this time to the Coastguard. She was eventually sold for breaking up to Castle and Beech of Charlton on the 16th August 1859 and was thus the longest serving member of the Archer Class.

HMS Firm

HMS Firm was the second of a pair of vessels of the 1804 batch contracted from Thomas and Josiah Brindley at the Quarry House shipyard at Frindsbury. Contracted on the 9th January 1804 along with the rest of the batch, her first keel section was laid at Frindsbury the following month and she was launched into the River Medway on the 2nd July. After her launch, she was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Chatham to be fitted with guns, masts and rigging and commissioned for The Downs under Lieutenant Cornelius Collett during July of 1804. The vessel was declared complete at Chatham on the 19th September.

On the 24th April 1804, HMS Firm was part of a force under the overall command of Captain Robert Honeyman in the 18pdr-armed 38-gun frigate HMS Leda and participated in the Action off Boulogne described above in company with sister-brig HMS Bruizer.

On the 20th April 1810 under the command of Lieutenant John Little, HMS Firm in company with sister-brig HMS Sharpshooter and the 12-gun cutter HMS Surly captured the French privateer Alcide off Granville.

On the 29th June 1811, HMS Firm was wrecked off Granville. Her crew were saved.

HMS Desperate

This vessel's history is shown here:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=17028.msg144878#msg144878
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

 

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