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Author Topic: Courser Class Gunboats (1797 - 1809)  (Read 2949 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Courser Class Gunboats (1797 - 1809)
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2016, 11:35:24 »
Part One - Introduction to the Courser Class, careers of HM Gunboat No.s 26 - 32, HMS Growler, HMS Griper, HMS Gallant, HMS Hardy, HMS Haughty, and HMS Hecate.

The Courser Class was a group of 16 brig-rigged gunboats designed by Sir William Rule, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, of which seven were built under contract in Kent shipyards. The were ordered and built concurrently with the very similar Acute Class, designed by Rule's fellow Surveyor, Sir John Henslow.

Gunboats were small inshore patrol and shore bombardment vessels, which carried the heaviest possible armament on the smallest possible hull. The Courser Class were designed to operate under oars when in shallow, inshore waters and for that reason, they were shallow-draughted and flat-bottomed, but so that they could operate effectively under sail, they were fitted with an innovative invention, the Schank Sliding Keel. This is commonplace in small sailing yachts and dinghies today and is commonly known now as a Dagger Board. It is a board which slides through a slot in the keel and the Courser Class gunboats were fitted with two of them, one aft and the other forward. When designed and built, they were not intended to have names, just numbers, but in August 1797, the Admiralty decided to give them names. The vessels were originally ordered as the 1797 Pattern (Rule) Gunboats and consisted of HM Gunboat No. 19 through to No.33. A 16th vessel, No.45, was ordered a month after the rest. The reason for the gap in the numbers was because the Royal Navy purchased 11 small merchant brigs including one under construction at Nicholsons in Rochester (No.44 - HMS Staunch). The vessels were not designed to have long careers and only four of them lasted beyond 1802. When the Admiralty decided to name them, they became known as the Courser Class. Because of their very short careers, this article will deal with the careers of all the Kent-built Courser Class gunboats.

The contracts for their construction were distributed as follows:

No.19 - HMS Steady, No.20 - HMS Courser, No.21 - HMS Defender -  Hill and Mellish at Limehouse.

No.22 - HMS Eclipse, No.23 - HMS Furious, No.24 - HMS Flamer, No.25 - HMS Furnace - Perry & Co at Blackwall.

No.26 - HMS Growler, No.27 - HMS Griper, No.28 - HMS Grappler, No.29 - HMS Gallant - Thomas Pitcher at Northfleet.

No.30 - HMS Hardy, No.31 - HMS Haughty - William Cleverley at Gravesend.

No.32 - HMS Hecate, No.33 - HMS Hasty - John Wilson & Co at Frindsbury.

No.45 - HMS Tigress - Josiah & Thomas Brindley at Kings Lynn.

Courser Class Plans

Inboard Profile and Plan, Main Deck Plan and Lower Deck Plan:



Sheer Plan and Lines:



Details of Schank Sliding Keel:



If you look at the Sheer plan and lines above, you will see a small square port either side of the gunports. These were for the 18 oars which propelled the vessel when in shallow water. You will also see a pair of empty gunports in the stern. These were intended to be filled by either carronades or long guns in the event of a stern chase.

On completion, the Courser Class gunboats were vessels of 167 tons. They were 76ft long on the main deck, 62ft 3in long at the keel and 22ft 6in wide across the beams. Their holds were 8ft 3in deep, they drew 4ft 4in of water at the bow and 5ft 10in at the rudder. This did not include the depth of the Schank Sliding Keels. They were manned by a crew of 50 men and boys. Not being ocean-going vessels, they were commanded by a Lieutenant-in-Command rather someone appointed to be their Master and Commander and he was the only commissioned officer aboard. In the day to day sailing and navigation of the vessel, the Lieutenant-in-Command was assisted by a Warrant Officer in the form of a Master's Mate. There were further Warrant Officers in the form of the Gunner and the Boatswain with a Surgeon's Mate appointed to look after the day-to-day healthcare of the crew. Two Midshipmen were appointed to assist the Lieutenant in running the vessel day-to-day and a Warrant Officer called the 'Clerk-in-Charge' combined the role of the purser with that of the Lieutenant-in-Command's Clerk. The vessels were armed with 10 18pdr carronades on the broadside, with 2 24pdr long guns in the bow. They would also have carried a dozen half-pounder swivel guns attached to the main deck handrails.

HM Gunboat No.26 - HMS Growler

HMS Growler was ordered from the shipyard of Thomas Pitcher in Northfleet on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 10th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant William Wall. She was formally named HMS Growler on 7th August 1797.

Assigned to the Downs Squadron, HMS Growler was engaged in patrolling the coastal waters off the south-east of England in the stretch of water where the North Sea meets the English Channel. Lieutenant Wall was only to remain in command until July 1797, when he was replaced in command by Lieutenant John Hollingsworth.

On the night of 20th December 1797, HMS Growler was escorting a coasting convoy off Dungeness, when she was surprised by a pair of French privateer luggers, L'Espiegle of 10 4pdrs and 80 men and La Ruse of 8 4pdrs and 70 men. After a short fight in which Lieutenant Hollingsworth was mortally wounded. HMS Growler was taken by the French. The story which was released to the press of the day was wildly inaccurate, stating that the vessel had been taken off Dungeness by a pair of French rowing boats. The truth did not come out properly until a French account of the action was discovered after the war. On Christmas Day 1797, the surviving Masters Mate in HMS Growler was tried before a Court Martial held aboard the 74 gun third rate ship of the line HMS Majestic, laying in the Downs Anchorage off Deal. He was honourably acquitted after it became clear that the crew of HMS Growler had been surprised in the darkness and overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers.

During the Walcheren Campaign, HMS Growler was found in the harbour at Veere in a derelict condition. The Royal Navy decided she was beyond saving and the vessel was left to the elements.

HM Gunboat No.27 - HMS Griper

HMS Griper was ordered from the shipyard of Thomas Pitcher in Northfleet on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 10th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant James Ryder. She was formally named HMS Griper on 7th August 1797.

Assigned to the Downs Squadron, HMS Growler was engaged in patrolling the coastal waters off the south-east of England in the stretch of water where the North Sea meets the English Channel. After commissioning, the vessel had a number of Lieutenants-in-Command assigned to her until 1800, when she came under the command of Lieutenant Matthew Graham.

In early 1800, a sequence of events began which was to lead to the Battle of Copenhagen. It was also to lead, eventually to the opening of another front in the war. In time of war, the British had always insisted on the right to stop and search neutral ships at sea for contraband and war materials. The Dutch Navy had ceased to be an effective force after the Battle of Camperdown and the Vlieter Incident. As a result of this, Britain's erstwhile ally Russia had joined together with other, neutral northern nations to try to force the British to give up this right. On 25th July 1800, a small British squadron which included the 20 gun ship-sloop HMS Arrow and the 28 gun frigate HMS Nemesis encountered the large 40 gun Danish frigate Freya, which was escorting a convoy of six vessels through the English Channel, near the Goodwin Sands. In accordance with the age-old British tradition of stopping and searching neutral vessels, Captain Thomas Baker of HMS Nemesis hailed the Freya and informed the Danes of his intention to send a boat around each vessel in turn and conduct a brief search. The Danish captain, Captain Krabbe responded to the effect that the Freya would fire on the British boat if they attempted to board any of the vessels under his protection. The British duly put their boat into the water and the Danes duly carried out their threat. In the action which followed, the Freya was forced to surrender after having suffered 2 men killed and five wounded. The Danish convoy was escorted to the Downs and anchored there. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, the Commander-in-Chief at the Downs, Vice-Admiral Skeffington Lutwidge ordered that the Danish vessels be allowed to continue flying their own colours. This incident and another similar incident in the Mediterranean had threatened to open a major rift between Britain and Denmark. It was vitally important for Britain to maintain good relations with neutral Denmark, since Denmark controlled the Kattegat, that narrow passage from the North Sea into the Baltic.

In order to pacify the Danes and to intimidate them in case Plan A, diplomacy, failed, the British sent Lord Whitworth, previously Ambassador to the Imperial Court in Russia and Britains leading diplomat to Copenhagen to negotiate a settlement to the growing dispute before it erupted into an armed conflict. In order to reinforce Lord Whitworth's position, the British sent a squadron comprising nine ships of the line, HMS Monarch (74), HMS Polyphemus (64), HMS Veteran (64) and HMS Ardent (64), HMS Glatton (54), HMS Isis (50) and HMS Romney (50) the ex-Dutch HMS Waakzamheid (50) and HMS Martin (50), the bomb vessels HMS Sulphur, HMS Volcano, HMS Hecla and HMS Zebra and the gun-brigs HMS Swinger, HMS Boxer, HMS Furious, HMS Griper and HMS Haughty. The force was commanded by Vice-Admiral Archibald Dickson, who flew his command flag in HMS Monarch. On 29th August an agreement was reached whereby the British would pay for repairs to the Freya and the other Danish ships, that the right of the British to stop and search neutral vessels at sea would be discussed at another time and that Danish vessels would only sail in convoy in the Mediterranean for protection against Algerine corsairs. With the signing of the agreement, Dickson returned to Yarmouth with his force and HMS Griper returned to Yarmouth on 14th September 1800.

The French Revolutionary War was ended by the Treaty of Amiens signed on 25th March 1802 and in October, as part of the drawdown of the fleet, HMS Griper was sold.

HM Gunboat No.28 - HMS Grappler

HMS Grappler was ordered from the shipyard of Thomas Pitcher in Northfleet on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 15th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed in July. She commissioned under Lieutenant William Hawford. She was formally named HMS Grappler on 7th August 1797.

Assigned to the Channel Fleet, HMS Grappler was assigned to patrolling the English Channel, protecting British coastal shipping against attacks by French privateers and shutting down French coastal shipping.

The French Revolutionary War was ended by the Treaty of Amiens signed on 25th March 1802, but HMS Grappler was one of the few vessels of her type to survive the Peace of Amiens and when the Naploeonic War broke out in May 1803, she returned to the same duties as before.

On 31st December 1803, HMS Grappler was wrecked on the French controlled Iles de Chausey, south of the Channel Islands. Her entire crew was saved by the French, but were taken prisoner. Beyond saving, HMS Grappler was broken up by the French where she lay.

HM Gunboat No.29 - HMS Gallant

HMS Gallant was ordered from the shipyard of Thomas Pitcher in Northfleet on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 10th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant William Lyall. She was formally named HMS Gallant on 7th August 1797.

By August 1799, the North Sea Fleet had the bulk of the Dutch fleet blockaded in Texel, with other ships bottled up in Amsterdam and in the Meuse Estuary. In the meantime, Britain had entered into a treaty with the Russians and the two nations had agreed that they would invade Holland. The Russians had agreed to supply 17,500 men, six ships of the line, 5 en-flute armed frigates and two transport ships. In return for this, the British had agreed to pay the Russians 88,000 up front for the soldiers, followed by 44,000 per month. For the ships, the British had agreed to pay the Russians 58,976. 10s up front for the first three months use, followed by 19,642. 10s per month following the expiry of the first three months term. On 13th August, the invasion force departed from the Margate Roads and the Downs. The Naval element of the task force comprised the Russian 74 gun ship Ratvison, the Russian 66 gun ship Mistislov, HMS Ardent (64), HMS Monmouth (64), HMS Belliqueux (64), HMS America (64), HMS Veteran (64), the ex-Dutch HMS Overyssel (64), HMS Glatton (54), HMS Isis (50), HMS Romney (50) and the frigates HMS Melpomene, HMS Shannon, HMS Latona, HMS Juno and HMS Lutine. HMS Gallant was one of a number of gun-brigs assigned to the fleet. The force was commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell, flying his command flag in HMS Isis. On 15th August, Lord Duncan arrived in HMS Kent (74) and took overall command of the operation. On arrival off the Dutch coast and after having been delayed by bad weather, the British attempted to negotiate the surrender of the Dutch fleet under Admiral Story. The Dutch Admiral was having none of it and advised the British that the Dutch would defend their ships should the British try to take them. Mindful of the bloodbath at the Battle of Camperdown, fought against the Dutch in 1797, the British were reluctant to use force against the Dutch fleet.

By 30th August, the Anglo-Russian force ashore had taken sufficient ground to enable the British to take the Dutch naval base at Texel and to that end, at 5am, Vice-Admiral Mitchell and his ships got underway. Standing along the narrow and intricate channel of the Vlieter towards the Dutch squadron guarding the entrance. This squadron, of 8 two-deckers and frigates was anchored in line ahead. On the way in, Vice-Admiral Mitchell sent the 18 gun ship-sloop HMS Victor ahead with a summons for Admiral Story to come aboard HMS Isis and negotiate. HMS Victor was met by boats under a flag of truce with two Dutch captains, Captain Van de Capell and Captain De Yong. He returned to the flagship with the two Dutchmen. After speaking with the two Dutch officers, Mitchell ordered his ships to anchor in sight of the Dutch fleet. The Dutch captains conveyed Mitchell's ultimatum to Admiral Story with a message that he had an hour to make up his mind. Within the hour, the two Dutch officers returned. Admiral Story had decided to surrender. In fact what had happened was that on sighting the British force bearing down on them, the Dutch crews had mutinied as one and had refused point blank to fight. The British it seems, were not the only ones mindful of the Camperdown bloodbath. This refusal to fight left Admiral Story with no alternative but to surrender in what is now known as the Vlieter Incident. The Dutch ships were escorted to Sheerness by HMS Ardent, HMS Glatton, HMS Belliqueux, HMS Monmouth and the two Russian ships.

By October 1799, the expedition had failed. The Dutch had been reinforced by the arrival of crack troops from France and had managed to defeat the Anglo-Russian force.

The French Revolutionary War was ended by the Treaty of Amiens signed on 25th March 1802 and in October, as part of the drawdown of the fleet, HMS Gallant was sold.

HM Gunboat No.30 - HMS Hardy

HMS Hardy was ordered from the shipyard of William Cleverley in Gravesend on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 15th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant James Owen Lucas. She was formally named HMS Hardy on 7th August 1797.

HMS Hardy was assigned to the Channel Fleet and saw no significant action before the vessel was decommissioned following the signing of the Treaty of Amiens. She was sold in May of 1802.

HM Gunboat No.31 - HMS Haughty

HMS Haughty was ordered from the shipyard of William Cleverley in Gravesend on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Thames on 25th April 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant Matthew Smith into the North Sea Fleet. She was formally named HMS Haughty on 7th August 1797.

Between August and October 1799, HMS Haughty was involved in the Expedition to Holland under Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell.

Between 9th August and 14th September 1800, HMS Haughty was part of the fleet sent to support Lord Whitworth's negotiations with Denmark prior to the Battle of Copenhagen.

After the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, HMS Haughty was sold at Sheerness in May 1802.

HM Gunboat No.32 - HMS Hecate

HMS Hecate was ordered from the shipyard of John Wilson & Co in Frindsbury on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Medway on 2nd May 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant Charles Burlton into the Channel Fleet. She was formally named HMS Hecate on 7th August 1797.

Operating out of Plymouth, HMS Hecate was engaged in enforcing the blockade of French channel ports and shutting down French coastal shipping. On 26th June 1799, the merchant vessel Mary, out of Lisbon with a cargo of fruit and the merchant vessel Minerva out of Bordeaux bound for Emden arrived in Plymouth with prize crews from HMS Hecate.

In late 1800, HMS Hecate was patrolling off Lands End when she chased off a pair of French privateers which had attempted to attack a convoy. Unfortunately, the privateers managed to outsail her and escape. A few days after this incident, Lieutenant Burlton received a letter from Mr Evan Nepean, Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty stating that they had received a complaint from a Mr James Jones. The letter stated that Mr Jones had allegedly been on a vessel in the convoy and that near ten vessels had been taken by the pair of French privateers and that the vessel he had been on had almost fallen victim too. The Admiralty required an explanation. Lieutenant Burlton replied stating that this was nonsense and gave his account of what had happened, supported by witnesses from aboard his vessel. Mr Nepean then replied stating that their Lordships were happy with his explanation and forwarding the letter, stated that he was free to make what use he liked of the complaint. Investigations by Lieutenant Burlton identified the source of the letter to be Mr William Hitchens, shopkeeper in Penzance and the handwriting was sworn by three witnesses to be that of Mr Hitchens. Lieutenant Burlton then instructed lawyers to deal with the case  and on 9th February 1801 a libel ruling was granted by the Kings Bench in the Lieutenants favour.

After the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, HMS Hecate was paid off into the Plymouth Ordinary. She was one of the few vessels of the class to survive the Peace of Amiens. On the outbreak of the Napoleonic War in May 1803, HMS Hecate was fitted for sea and recommissioned nder Lieutenant Thomas Parsons in July. Lieutenant Parsons was replaced in command in December 1803 by Lieutenant William Field. By 1804, the vessel was in the North Sea Fleet based at Yarmouth, but the following year, she was based at the Nore. In December 1804, Mr Field was replaced in command by Lieutenant Samuel Norman and he remained in command until HMS Hecate paid off into the Ordinary at Sheerness in 1807.

In August 1809, HMS Hecate was stripped of everything and was taken to Harwich, where she was sunk as a breakwater.
"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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Courser Class Gunboats (1797 - 1809)
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2016, 11:28:14 »
Part 2 - HM Gunboat No.33 - HMS Hasty

HMS Hasty was ordered from the shipyard of John Wilson & Co in Frindsbury on 7th February 1797 and her first keel section was laid later that month. The vessel was launched into the River Medway on 10th June 1797 and was taken to the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, where she was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging, a process which was completed the following July. She commissioned under Lieutenant James James into the North Sea Fleet. She was formally named HMS Hasty on 7th August 1797.

Lieutenant James only remained in command until December when he was replaced in command by Lieutenant William Charlton.

Between August and October 1799, HMS Hasty was involved in the Expedition to Holland under Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell. As part of these operations, on 6th October, HMS Hasty was part of a force under the orders of Mr Patrick Campbell, Master and Commander in the 32pdr carronade armed 28 gun ship-sloop HMS Dart. Mr Campbell had come aboard HMS Hasty in order to lead a cutting-out raid, their target being four large Dutch gunboats moored off Makkum on the Zuyder Zee. The other vessels in the raid were all gun-brigs, HMS Cracker, HMS Hasty's sister-boat, HMS Defender and a captured Schuyt called Isis. One of the gunboats they captured was a purpose-built vessel armed with 2 18pdr long guns in the bow and an 18pdr carronade on each broadside. The others were all armed Schuyts. For his part in conceiving and leading the raid, Commander Campbell was promoted to Captain on 7th November and appointed to command the sixth-rate post-ship HMS Ariadne of 24 guns.

In early 1800, a sequence of events began which was to indirectly a major action which was to involve HMS Hasty and her crew. It was also to lead, eventually to the opening of another front in the war. In time of war, the British had always insisted on the right to stop and search neutral ships at sea for contraband and war materials. The Dutch Navy had ceased to be an effective force after the Battle of Camperdown and the Vlieter Incident. As a result of this, Britain's erstwhile ally Russia had joined together with other, neutral northern nations to try to force the British to give up this right. On 25th July 1800, a small British squadron which included the 20 gun ship-sloop HMS Arrow and the 28 gun frigate HMS Nemesis encountered the large 40 gun Danish frigate Freya, which was escorting a convoy of six vessels through the English Channel, near the Goodwin Sands. In accordance with the age-old British tradition of stopping and searching neutral vessels, Captain Thomas Baker of HMS Nemesis hailed the Freya and informed the Danes of his intention to send a boat around each vessel in turn and conduct a brief search. The Danish captain, Captain Krabbe responded to the effect that the Freya would fire on the British boat if they attempted to board any of the vessels under his protection. The British duly put their boat into the water and the Danes duly carried out their threat. In the action which followed, the Freya was forced to surrender after having suffered 2 men killed and five wounded. The Danish convoy was escorted to the Downs and anchored there. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, the Commander-in-Chief at the Downs, Vice-Admiral Skeffington Lutwidge ordered that the Danish vessels be allowed to continue flying their own colours. This incident and another similar incident in the Mediterranean had threatened to open a major rift between Britain and Denmark. It was vitally important for Britain to maintain good relations with neutral Denmark, since Denmark controlled the Kattegat, that narrow passage from the North Sea into the Baltic.

In order to pacify the Danes and to intimidate them in case Plan A, diplomacy, failed, the British sent Lord Whitworth, previously Ambassador to the Imperial Court in Russia and Britains leading diplomat to Copenhagen to negotiate a settlement to the growing dispute before it erupted into an armed conflict. In order to reinforce Lord Whitworth's position, the British sent a squadron comprising four ships of the line, HMS Monarch (74), HMS Polyphemus (64), HMS Veteran (64) and HMS Ardent (64), three 50 gun ships, HMS Glatton, HMS Isis and HMS Romney plus the ex-Dutch 50 gun ships HMS Waakzamheid and HMS Martin, the bomb vessels HMS Sulphur, HMS Volcano, HMS Hecla and HMS Zebra and the gun-brigs HMS Swinger, HMS Boxer, HMS Furious, HMS Griper and HMS Haughty. The force was commanded by Vice-Admiral Archibald Dickson, who flew his command flag in HMS Monarch. On 29th August an agreement was reached whereby the British would pay for repairs to the Freya and the other Danish ships, that the right of the British to stop and search neutral vessels at sea would be discussed at another time and that Danish vessels would only sail in convoy in the Mediterranean for protection against Algerine corsairs. With the signing of the agreement, Dickson returned to Yarmouth with his force. That would have been the end of the matter had the pro-British Tzarina of Russia, Catherine II, not fallen ill and died. She was succeeded by her son Paul, who was a fan of Napoleon Bonaparte and was itching to find an excuse to start a war against the British. Tzar Paul took offence at the attack on the Freya and at the presence of a British squadron in the Baltic Sea. He ordered his army and navy to be mobilised for war and ordered that all British property in his dominions be seized. About 3 weeks afterward however, he changed his mind and on 22nd September, ordered that all seized British property be returned to its owners.

In the meantime, news reached Tzar Paul that the British had refused to hand Malta back to the Knights of St John after having driven the French from the islands back in 1797. This enraged the Tzar who had been promised control of the islands by the French. On 5th November, his order to seize all British shipping in Russian ports was reinstated. In the December, the Tzar proposed a confederation of Armed Neutrality which was to comprise Russia, Sweden and Denmark. If allowed to take form, this would mean the British could potentially face an additional opponent possessing a total of over 100 ships of the line as well as the combined fleets of Spain and France. The British decided to meet this new menace in kind and a fleet began to be assembled at Yarmouth, to be led by Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker with no less an officer than Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson as his second-in-command. In early March, HMS Hasty joined this fleet and prepared to sail to Denmark. With Parker flying his command flag in HMS London (98) and Nelson flying his in HMS St. George (98) and accompanied by 18 more ships of the line, with 4 frigates plus sloops-of-war, bomb vessels and gun-brigs, the fleet departed Yarmouth on 12th March 1801. Parker had orders to neutralise the fortifications at Copenhagen and the Danish fleet should last minute negotiations fail. Parker's plan was that Nelson would lead the attack squadron, comprising of the shallower-draughted and smaller ships of the line, while Parker held back with the bigger ships. Nelson shifted his command flag to the 74 gun ship HMS Elephant.

The Danish fleet consisted of 24 ships of the line, anchored off the fortifications of Copenhagen and Nelson and his force of 12 ships of the line were required to neutralise these before troops could be landed to assault the fortifications. In the morning of the 2nd April 1801, Nelson's force made its way slowly up the Skaw, but suffered losses when first, the 64 gun ship HMS Agamemnon, then the 74 gun ships HMS Bellona and HMS Russell ran aground. Battle was joined at 10:05 when the Danish shore batteries opened fire. For the first half an hour, the leading British ships, HMS Ardent, HMS Polyphemus, HMS Edgar (74), HMS Isis (50) and HMS Monarch bore the brunt of the fire from the Danish batteries both ashore and afloat. HMS Isis was the most severely damaged and had to be rescued by HMS Polyphemus.

View of the Battle of Copenhagen. HMS Hasty is one of the vessels ready to support the ships of the line to the south of the Middle Ground:



It is a commonly believed myth that when Vice-Admiral Parker had the signal to discontinue the action hoisted, Nelson put a telescope to his blind eye and said "I really do not see the signal" and appeared to deliberately disobey his superior. That part is not disputed, Nelson really did do that. In fact, Nelson and Parker had already agreed that since his division would not be involved in the fighting, Parker would have a better overall view of what was going on than Nelson would. They agreed that when Parker felt that the Danes were beaten, he would signal Nelson to that effect, but as the commander of the strike force, Nelson would have the final say as to when to bring the action to a stop.

After about 11:30, the rest of Nelson's force, HMS Glatton (54), HMS Elephant, HMS Ganges (74), HMS Defiance (74) and the frigates joined in the action relieving the pressure. At 16:00, a ceasefire was negotiated. The Danes had suffered heavy losses. The Danish flagship had blown up, killing 250 men. In all, it is estimated that Danish losses were about 1800 men killed, captured or wounded. The British losses came to about 250 men. The Danish fleet had been beaten into submission and the day after the battle, the Danes surrendered.

HMS Hasty did not become involved in the fighting in the Battle of Copenhagen, so suffered no damage or casualties.

After end of the French Revolutionary War was ended by the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, HMS Hasty was sold at Sheerness in December 1802.
"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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