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Author Topic: HMS Revenge (1805 - 1849)  (Read 2999 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Revenge (1805 - 1849)
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2018, 21:51:07 »
This became an epic, so I've posted it in two parts. This is Part One. It introduces the ship and covers the Battle of Trafalgar and Hood's Action off Rochefort.

HMS Revenge was a Large Type, 74-gun, Third-Rate ship of the line, built at the Chatham Royal Dockyard. Designed by Sir John Henslow, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, HMS Revenge was a one-off, the only ship built to that design.

The 74-gun, Third rate ship of the line was at the time, by far the most numerous kind of ship of the line in the world. Representing the best compromise between speed and agility on one hand and sheer strength and firepower on the other, at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar in October of 1805, the Royal Navy had more of these alone than the rest of the worlds ships of the line put together.

The Large Type of 74-gun ship was not necessarily so-called because of their actual size, although some, including HMS Revenge, were the same length, breadth and tonnage as a 98-gun Second-Rate ship, but because they carried a battery of 24pdr long guns on their upper gundecks rather than the 18pdr guns carried on the Common and later Middling Types.

HMS Revenge was ordered by the Navy Board on 26th October 1796, but her first keel section wasn't laid at Chatham until August of 1800. The reason for the delay in starting the construction was two-fold. Firstly, because the Royal Dockyard at Chatham was working flat-out with construction projects already in hand when the order was received and secondly, because of a shortage of timbers of the size and quality required for a ship of this size.

Overseen by Mr Robert Seppings, Master Shipwright in the Chatham Royal DOckyard, the construction project was subject to numerous delays owing to the difficulties in obtaining the required timber. Further delays were caused by the Peace of Amiens. This had seen the French Revolutionary War end in March of 1802 by a Treaty in which all sides had made promises they had no intention of keeping for the sake of ending the war. Despite the politicians promises, the Napoleonic War broke out in May of 1803 after fourteen months of peace and the construction project gained a new sense of urgency. For these reasons, the ship wasn't launched into the River Medway until 13th April 1805.

Robert Seppings had served his apprenticeship under Sir John Henslow when he had been Master Shipwright in the Plymouth Royal Dockyard and went on to be a Co-Surveyor of the Navy himself. During his time as a Surveyor of the Navy, Robert Seppings introduced the round bow to the ship of the line and the round stern to ship design in general. He also invented a system of internal diagonal riders within a ships frame, which made them stronger and more rigid, allowing larger ships to be built.

After her launch, the ship was moored in the River Medway and was fitted with her masts, sails, rigging and guns. By the time HMS Revenge was finally declared complete at Chatham on 23rd June 1805, she had cost 58,603. When complete, HMS Revenge was a ship of 1,954 tons, she was 181ft 11in long on her upper gundeck, 150ft long at the keel and 49ft 2in wide across her beams. She was armed with 28 x 32pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 30 x 24pdr long guns on her upper gundeck, 6 x 12pdr long guns and 10 x 32pdr carronades on her quarterdeck, 2 x 12pdr long guns and 2 x 32pdr carronades on her forecastle and 6 x 18pdr carronades on her poop deck. In addition to her main guns, the ship was fitted with a dozen half-pounder swivel guns attached to her forecastle and quarterdeck handrails and in her fighting tops. The ship was manned by a crew of 590 officers, seamen, Marines and boys. On the day before her launch, HMS Revenge was commissioned into the Channel Fleet under Captain Robert Moorsom.

Captain Robert Moorsom was a Yorkshireman, born in Whitby to a seafaring family. He entered the Royal Navy at the relatively late age of 17 in 1777 and passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 5th January 1784. Whilst serving as a Midshipman, he distinguished himself in action at the Second Battle of Ushant and then later in Howe's Relief of Gibraltar and the subsequent Battle of Cape Spartel, all while serving in the ex-French HMS Courageux (74). He was appointed Master and Commander in the 12pdr carronade-armed 16-gun ship-sloop HMS Ariel in 1789 and was sent to India to survey potential harbours on the Bengal coast. He was forced to return to the UK by illness in 1790 and was Posted or promoted to Captain on the 22nd November, while the Royal Navy was being mobilised for the Spanish Armaments Crisis. On the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War on 1st February 1793, he had been appointed to command the old 12pdr-armed 32-gun frigate HMS Niger and had commanded that ship in Lord Howe's Atlantic Campaign of May 1794 which had culminated in the Battle of the Glorious First of June. After HMS Niger, he had commanded the 56-gun, carronade-armed ex-East Indiaman HMS Hindostan, but resigned his command in November of 1795 when his ship was ordered to be converted into a troopship. He did not go to sea again until 1804, when he was appointed to command HMS Majestic (74) and was in command of that ship in the North Sea until he received his appointment for HMS Revenge, then building at Chatham.

See here for the story of HMS Niger:

and HMS Majestic:

Captain Robert Moorsom:

Once he had been appointed into the ship, Captain Moorsom set about recruiting his crew, in conjunction with the Impressment Service. His six Lieutenants, ranked in order of seniority, 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc were appointed by the Admiralty. At the time the ship commissioned, the Lieutenants appointed into the ship were Mr John Berry, Mr Peter Pickernell, Mr Lewis Hole, Mr Essex John Holcombe, Mr Francis Wills and Mr William Wright. The most important of these was the First Lieutenant, not just because he was the second-in-command but because he controlled the day-to-day running of the ship. From the fact that Mr Hole was the first of these men to be appointed as a Master and Commander and that the rest of them were still in the ship a year later, it's fair to suppose that he was the First Lieutenant.

The senior Warrant Officers were appointed into the ship by the Navy Board, including the Standing Officers, those men who would remain with the ship whether or not she was in commission. The Standing Officers in a Large Type 74-gun ship were:

The Boatswain or Bosun, answerable to the First Lieutenant and responsible for the repair and maintenance of the sails, masts and all the rigging as well as the ships boats. While the ship was in commission, he was assisted by two Boatswains Mates. When the ship was commssioned, her Boatswain was Mr George William Forster.

The Carpenter. He was a qualified shipwright and was answerable to the First Lieutenant for the repair and maintenance of the ships hull, frames and decks. While the ship was in commission, he was assisted by a single Carpenters Mate and a crew of 8 Able Seamen.

The Gunner. He was answerable to the First Lieutenant and was responsible for the repair and maintenance of the ships main guns, the storage and distibution in action of the ships stocks of gunpowder and shot, training the gun-crews and training the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary in the arts of gunnery. While the ship was in commission, he was assisted by two Gunners Mates and 20 Quarter Gunners. Each of the Quarter Gunners was a Petty Officer, in charge of four gun crews.

The Cook. Usually a disabled ex-seaman, the Cook was answerable to the First Lieutenant and was responsible for the distribution and preparation of the ships provisions. He was the lowest-ranking of the Standing Officers.

The Purser. He was answerable to the Captain and so entitled to live in the wardroom with the commissioned officers and was responsible for the purchase and distribution of all the ships stores.

The other senior Warrant Officers appointed by the Navy Board were:

The Sailing Master. He was the highest-ranking of all the ships Warrant Officers, was answerable to the Captain and so was entitled to live in the wardroom with the commissioned officers. Of all the wardroom officers, he had the second-largest cabin, second only to that of the First Lieutenant. In a ship like HMS Revenge, he was assisted by a more junior Sailing Master, known as the Second Master and three Masters Mates. He was responsible for the day-to-day sailing and navigation of the ship, training the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary in the arts of navigation and seamanship and the storage of supplies and stores in the hold to ensure the optimum trim of the ship. In addition to the Second Master and the Masters Mates, he was also assisted by six Quartermasters, each responsible for the ship's steering and each assisted by their own Mate. When the ship commissioned, her Sailing Master was Mr Luke Brokenshaw.

The Surgeon. Also answerable directly to the Captain and so entitled to live in the wardroom with the commissioned officers. He was responsible for the day-to-day healthcare of the ship's crew and was assisted in this by two Assistant Surgeons.

The lesser Warrant Officers were appointed by the Captain on the recommendation of the First Lieutenant after having applied for the posts and presenting their credentials. These were:

The Armourer. He was responsible for the storage, maintenance and repair of the ships stocks of small-arms and bladed weapons. He would also manufacture new bladed weapons as and where necessary. He was answerable to the Gunner and was assisted by two Armourers Mates and was a qualified blacksmith.

The Sailmaker. Answerable to the Boatswain and responsible for the maintenance and repair of the ships sails and flags as well as their storage. He was assisted by a single Sailmakers Mate and had a crew of two Able Seamen.

The Ropemaker. Also answerable to the Boatswain, he was responsible for the storage, maintenance and repair of the ship's supplies of cordage and the manufacture where necessary of new cordage.

The Caulker. He was answerable to the Carpenter and was responsible for ensuring that the ship's hull and decks remained watertight. He was assisted by a single Caulkers Mate and Able Seamen as and when required.

The Chaplain. An ordained priest, he was answerable to the First Lieutenant. In deference to his status as an ordained priest, the Chaplain was entitled to live in the wardroom with the commissioned officers. In action, his role was to assist the Surgeon with the care of wounded men. In the absence of a Chaplain, the Captain would carry out his pastoral duties. At the time that the ship commissioned, her Chaplain was The Reverend John Greenly.

The Schoolmaster. Answerable to the First Lieutenant, he was responsible for training the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary in the theory of navigation and the associated branches of arithmetic. Where possible and appropriate, he would also teach the rest of the ships boys the basic three Rs.

The Cooper. Answerable to the Purser, he was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all the barrels stored in the hold. He was responsible for cleaning the barrels after their contents had been used, especially barrels used to store the ship's water supply and would be assisted by Able Seamen as and where required.

The Clerk. Answerable to the Purser, he was responsible for all the record-keeping and administration aboard the ship and ensuring that the appropriate books were sent to the Admiralty for checking.

The Master-At-Arms. Answerable to the First Lieutenant and responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of discipline on the ship. He was assisted by two Corporals (not related to the military rank of the same name) who themselves had the status of Petty Officers. He would investigate misbehaving seamen and would report them to the First Lieutenant who would in turn report them to the Captain who would decide their punishment. In cases where the Captain decided that the offender should be flogged, the flogging itself would be carried out by the Boatswains Mates. In cases where the alleged offence required a Court Martial, the offender would be kept in irons until a Court Martial could be arranged and the Master-at-Arms would then be responsible for their safety and security.

A Large Type 74-gun ship would have 16 Midshipmen, appointed by the Port Admiral or local commander-in-chief on behalf of the Admiralty. Officers in training, their job was to assist the Lieutenants in their day-to-day duties. In addition to the Midshipmen, there would be Midshipmen-in-Ordinary. These boys would usually be the sons of friends of the Captain, or who had a family connection to the Captain, or be sons of people the Captain was either doing a favour for or owed a favour to. They would be on the ships books as Captains Servants, rated and paid as Able Seamen but wore the uniform and performed the duties of a Midshipman. A ship with a crew of almost 600 would entitle the Captain to have as many as 24 servants or four per hundred of her Company, but unless he was extraordinarily extravagant, the Captain  would only actually require a fraction of this number, so the remaining posts were taken up with the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary, also known as Quarterdeck Boys. The Quarterdeck Boys would have to put in two years of sea-service before they could be appointed as Midshipmen proper and would have to serve six years in the post of Midshipman before they would be considered for their Lieutenants Examination.

In any case, the Captain would come aboard with his own staff who would move between appointments with him, consisting of his own Clerk or secretary, his Steward, who would have a Stewards Mate to assist him and his Coxswain. The Captains Coxswain was a Petty Officer who was expected to act as the Captain's eyes and ears on the Lower Deck. The Coxswain himself would appoint a Coxswain's Mate from amongst the Able Seamen.

The rest of the ships crew would be made up with Petty Officers, those men with experience in those roles, such as Captains and Yeomen of Parts of the ship such as the Forecastle, the Waist, Tops, Gun Captains etc. Able Seamen; those men with plenty of sea-going experience who could perform any task asked of them without supervision, Ordinary Seamen; those men with some sea-going experience and Landsmen, those with none. Landsmen were the unskilled labourers in a ship and were generally regarded by everyone else as being the lowest form of life until they had proved themselves. Boys were graded in much the same way, 1st class - those with Able Seaman levels of skills and experience, 2nd class, those with Ordinary Seaman level skills and 3rd class. The Boys 3rd Class were employed as cabin servants for the wardroom and for those senior Warrant Officers entitled to have servants, such as the Standing Officers.

HMS Revenge's contingent of Marines would come aboard as a pre-existing unit and would consist of a Captain of Marines in charge, assisted by three Marine Lieutenants ranked in order of seniority, three Sergeants, three Corporals, two Drummers and 98 Marine Privates. The commissioned Marine officers were entitled to live in the wardroom with the commissioned sea-officers. The Marines themselves would live in a screened-off part of the Lower Deck, known as the Marine Barracks, while the non-commissioned officers would have the same status aboard the ship as the Petty Officers. The Captain of Marines when the ship commissioned was Mr Peter Lily.

This huge and diverse host of men would have to be moulded by Captain Moorsom and his officers into an efficient, deadly fighting machine who could operate together under any circumstances and who could handle the ship in any weather. Certainly in the early weeks and months of her commission, this could and would be done by brute force as failure was not an option.

HMS Revenge plans

Orlop Plan:

Lower Gundeck Plan. This plan is actually for the 80-gun ship HMS Rochefort, but the fit-out for HMS Rochefort was copied from that of HMS Revenge, so the two ships were internally identical:

Upper Gundeck plan. Again, this is actually the upper gundeck plan for HMS Rochefort:

Quarterdeck and Forecastle plan, again from HMS Rochefort:

Framing plan:

Inboard Profile and Plan:

Sheer Plan and Lines:

Sail Plan:

HMS Revenge off Gosport by T Robinson:

One of the seamen who joined HMS Revenge was William Robinson. He entered the Royal Navy as a volunteer and joined HMS Revenge after a period in a Receiving Ship at the Nore and served in the ship until 1811. In 1836, he published his memoir called "Nautical Economy; or Forecastle Recollections of Events During the Last War" and subtitled "Dedicated to the Brave Tars of Old England by a Sailor, politely called by the Officers of the Navy Jack Nastyface". In his book, he does not mention HMS Revenge by name, but from the events and names he mentions during his story, he could only have served in that ship. The book was published under a pseudonym, his old nickname of Jack Nastyface. The book gives a vivid, first-hand account of day-to-day life for the seamen of 'Nelsons Navy' and in particular, a first-hand account of the Battle of Trafalgar from the point of view of the men of the lower deck.

In July 1805, once she had completed manning and taking on her stores, the ship sailed to Spithead, where she was to join the rest of the Channel Fleet. She joined a squadron of the Channel Fleet under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton, who was flying his command flag in the 98-gun Second rate ship of the line HMS Queen.

See here for the story of HMS Queen:

By this time, the country and the fleet were on high alert. Napoleon's Grand Plan for the invasion of the UK was underway, 83,000 French troops were encamped around Boulogne and were waiting for the French and Spanish navies to do their part and take control of the English Channel for long enough for this massive army to get across. The French Toulon Fleet had broken out with orders to evade the British Mediterranean Fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir Horatio, the Viscount Nelson, join up with Spanish ships of the line from Cartagena and Cadiz and while Nelson was chasing his tail around the Mediterranean looking for them, they were to cross the Atlantic and wait at Martinique for the arrival of the Brest Fleet under Vice-Admiral Honore Ganteaume. This Napoleon thought, would force the British to send a powerful fleet to the Carribean to deal with them. In the meantime, once he had created enough of a diversion in the Caribbean, Pierre-Charles Villeneuve commanding the Combined enemy fleet was to head back to Europe, link up with the rest of the French Brest Fleet and the outlying squadrons based in Lorient and Rochefort and overwhelm the British Channel Fleet under Admiral the Honourable Sir William Cornwallis with weight of numbers. The Grand Plan had gone wrong almost from the beginning. Firstly, Nelson had received intelligence as to where Villeneuve was headed and had taken the bulk of the Mediterranean Fleet off out across the Atlantic in pursuit. Secondly, Ganteaume had been unable to break out of Brest with his fleet and so was stuck there. In the meantime, the remainder of the British Mediterranean Fleet had been left under the command of Nelson's second-in-command, Vice-Admiral Sir Cuthbert Collingwood, flying his command flag in the 98-gun Second rate ship of the line HMS Dreadnought. Collingwood had initiated a close blockade of Cadiz to prevent further Spanish escapes. He took his fleet north, intending to attack Antigua. On the way, he came across and attacked a convoy of British merchant ships on 7th June. To his horror, he learned from the captured British sailors that Nelson and his fleet were in Barbados looking for him. He decided that it was only a matter of time before the two fleets met and certain in his own mind that such a meeting would not go well, he decided to break off operations in the Caribbean and return to Europe as ordered. Villeneuve had good reason to be concerned about confronting Nelson and the British Mediterranean Fleet. The last time Villeneuve had witnessed such a confrontation, the French Toulon fleet had been as good as annihilated in the Battle of the Nile back in 1797 and he had managed to escape with two surviving ships of the line out of a fleet of 13. Nelson in the meantime, had sent his dispatches to the Admiralty aboard HMS Curieux, a captured ex-French brig-sloop of 18 guns. Nelson guessed that the Combined Fleet would either attempt to return to the Mediterranean or put into Cadiz, so on leaving Antigua on 13th June 1805, set course for there, hoping to intercept them. On 19th June, HMS Curieux, under Commander James Johnstone spotted the Combined Fleet in mid-Atlantic and shadowed them for long enough to figure out that they were headed for the Bay of Biscay, rather than Cadiz or the Straits of Gibraltar as Nelson had thought. Commander Johnstone then had his crew of 67 men set all possible sail and head hell for leather back to England, where the information was rushed to the Admiralty in London. The Admiralty in turn, ordered Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Calder, then blockading Ferrol and Rochefort, to await reinforcements and then intercept Villeneuve's force. Calder's force was duly reinforced and on 22nd July, spotted Villeneuve's fleet headed towards Ferrol. In the Third Battle of Cape Finisterre which followed later that day, Calder's force of 15 ships of the line defeated Villeneuve's force of 20, capturing two Spanish ships of the line. Villeneuve headed to Vigo in Portugal. While there, he received orders from Napoleon to get on with it. In the meantime, while Calder was engaged with Villeneuve's fleet, a French force of four ships of the line including the 120 gun ship Majesteux broke out of Rochefort. Villeneuve left Vigo to meet the Rochefort squadron and continue on to Brest to meet with Ganteaume's fleet, but on 13th August, the two forces sighted each other. By an amazing stroke of luck on the part of the British, the two French forces mistook each other for a British fleet, so instead of bringing the other to action, they both fled, with Villeneuve putting into Cadiz. Napoleon's Grand Invasion plan was finished. With Ganteaume bottled up in Brest, the Rochefort squadron too weak to be of any use and Villeneuve's combined Franco-Spanish fleet fled to Cadiz, Napoleon had no chance of controlling the English Channel, so his army upped sticks and went to Austria to attack them instead.

On 18th July, while making their way to Cadiz, Villeneuve's fleet arrived off Cape St Vincent and attacked a British convoy en route from Gibraltar to Lisbon. On the 20th, they sighted Vice-Admiral Collingwood's squadron, comprised of HMS Dreadnought, HMS Colossus (74) and HMS Achille (74). Collingwood was driven off by the Combined Fleet, which then entered Cadiz. At midnight, Collingwood's force was joined by HMS Mars (74) and by daybreak, had resumed the blockade. There was no doubting Collingwood's courage in this action because inside the harbour lay some 35 Spanish and French ships of the line. On 22nd August, Collingwood's force was reinforced by Sir Richard Bickerton's squadron including HMS Revenge. Bickerton was ill, so he shifted his command flag from HMS Queen to the ex-French frigate HMS Decade (12pdr, 36) and returned to England to recover his health, having placed his squadron under Collingwood's command. On 30th August, Collingwood's force was further reinforced by the arrival of Sir Robert Calder with a fleet of 18 ships of the line. On 15th September, Nelson left Portsmouth aboard the First Rate ship of the line HMS Victory (104) to take command of the fleet and bring the Combined Fleet to action. In company with HMS Victory was the frigate HMS Euryalus (18pdr, 36) and they were joined off Plymouth by HMS Temeraire (98), HMS Ajax (74) and HMS Thunderer (74). These five ships made their way to join Collingwood's fleet off Cadiz and arrived on 28th. Nelson had previously sent HMS Euryalus ahead with orders for Collingwood, appraising Collingwood of his imminent arrival and that no salutes be made or colours hoisted in case the enemy should find out.

See here for the stories of HMS Mars:

HMS Achille:

and HMS Temeraire:

The fleet now commanded by Nelson comprised 27 ships of the line. Nelson now hoped to tempt Villeneuve to put to sea. He did this by stationing the frigates HMS Euryalus and HMS Hydra (18pdr, 38) close inshore under the overall command of Captain George Duff of HMS Mars, supported by a squadron of ships of the line under Rear-Admiral Thomas Louis, flying his command flag in the ex-French HMS Canopus (80). Also in the inshore squadron were HMS Queen, HMS Spencer (74), HMS Zealous (74) and the ex-French HMS Tigre (74). The rest of Nelson's fleet were kept about 15 miles offshore. By 2nd October, Villeneuve still hadn't taken the bait, Nelson reduced the inshore force further by ordering Rear-Admiral Louis' squadron to go to Gibraltar to take on provisions. Later the same day, Rear-Admiral Louis' force fell in with a Swedish merchant ship, out of Cadiz bound for Alicante. The Swedish master informed him that the Combined Fleet intended to sail on the first easterly wind, so he returned to Nelson's fleet on 3rd October with the news. Nelson felt this was a ruse, intended to draw his fleet closer to Cadiz, so the enemy could gain intelligence as to his strength. He ordered Rear-Admiral Louis to proceed to Gibraltar as ordered.

See here for the story of HMS Hydra:

On two occasions on the 4th October, the patrolling frigates were attacked by Spanish gunboats out of Cadiz, but drove off both attacks without damage or casualties. On 7th October, HMS Defiance (74) joined the fleet from England and on the following day, HMS Leviathan (74). Between 9th and 15th October, Nelson's fleet was joined by HMS Royal Sovereign (100), the ex-French HMS Belle Isle (74), HMS Africa (64) and HMS Agamemnon (64). Nelson's fleet now comprised 29 ships of the line. On the arrival of HMS Royal Sovereign, Collingwood transferred his command flag to her. On 14th October, Nelson was ordered to send Sir Robert Calder to England to face a Court Martial for his lack of aggression in his action against Villeneuve in the Third Battle of Cape Finisterre. Calder departed in his flagship, HMS Prince of Wales (98). On 17th October, he was forced to send the ex-French HMS Donegal (74) to Gibraltar as that ship was running low on provisions. This left his force once more with 27 ships of the line. This was comprised of three first rate ships of 100 guns or more, four second rate ships, all of 98 guns and 20 third rate ships of which one was of 80 guns, 16 were of 74 guns including HMS Revenge and three were of 64 guns. In addition to the ships of the line, his force also had the frigates HMS Euryalus, HMS Phoebe and HMS Sirius (all 18pdr-armed ships of 36 guns), HMS Naiad (18pdr, 38), the armed schooner HMS Pickle (12) and the cutter HMS Entreprenante (10).

Nelson was expecting his force to be reinforced by still more ships. In fact, he drew up his battle plan based on having some 40 ships of the line available to him. He was fully expecting the enemy to be reinforced by ships from Cartagena, Rochefort and Brest to the extent that they might have as many as 54 or 55 ships available to them. On 10th of October, his battleplan and orders were presented to his captains including Captain Moorsom of HMS Revenge. They were quite simple:

"Thinking it almost impossible to form a fleet of 40 sail of the line into a line of battle, in variable winds, thick weather, and other circumstances which must occur, without such a loss of time, that the opportunity would probably be lost, of bringing the enemy to battle in such a manner as to make the business decisive ; I have therefore made up my mind to keep the fleet in that position of sailing (with the exception of the first and second in command), that the order of sailing is to be the order of battle placing the fleet in two lines of 16 ships each, with an advanced squadron of eight of the fastest sailing two-decked ships : which will always make, if wanted,a line of 24 sail, on whichever line the commander-in-chief may direct. The second in command will, after my intentions are made known to him, have the entire direction of his line, to make the attack upon the enemy, and to follow up the blow until they are captured or destroyed. If the enemy's fleet should be seen to windward in line of battle, and that the two lines and the advanced squadron could fetch them, they will probably be so extended that their van could not succour their rear. I should therefore probably make the second in command's signal, to lead through about the twelfth ship from their rear, or wherever he could fetch, if not able to get so far advanced. My line would lead through about their centre ; and the advanced squadron, to cut through three, or four ships ahead of their centre ; so as to ensure getting at their commander-in-chief, whom every effort must be made to capture. The whole impression of the British fleet must be, to overpower two or three ships ahead of their commander-in-chief (supposed to be in the centre) to the rear of their fleet. I will suppose 20 sail of the enemy's line to be untouched : it must be some time before they could perform a manoeuvre to bring their force compact to attack any part of the British fleet engaged, or to succour their own ships ; which indeed would be impossible without mixing with the ships engaged. The enemy's fleet is supposed to consist of 46 sail of the line : British 40 ; if either is less, only a proportionate number of enemy's ships are to be cut off. British to be one fourth superior to the enemy cut off. Something must be left to chance. Nothing is sure in a sea fight, beyond all others : shot will carry away the masts and yards of friends as well as of foes ; but I look with confidence to a victory before the van of the enemy could succour their rear ; and then that the British fleet would, most of them, be ready to receive their 20 sail of the line, or to pursue them should they endeavour to make off. If the van of the enemy tack, the captured ships must run to leeward of the British fleet ; if the enemy wear, the British must place themselves between the enemy and the captured, and disabled British, ships; and should the enemy close, I have no fear for the result.

The second in command will, in all possible things, direct the movements of his line, by keeping them as compact as the nature of the circumstances will admit. Captains are to look to their particular line, as their rallying point ; but, in case signals cannot be seen or clearly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy.

Of the intended attack from to-windward, the enemy in the line of battle ready to receive an attack: The divisions of the British fleet will be brought nearly within gun-shot of the enemy's centre. The signal will most probably then be made, for the three lines to bear up together ; to set all their sails, even their studding-sails, in order to get as quickly as possible to the enemy's line, and to cut through, beginning at the twelfth ship from the enemy's rear. Some ships may not get through their exact place, but they will always be at hand to assist their friends. If any are thrown round the rear of the enemy, they will effectually complete the business of 12 sail of the enemy. Should the enemy wear together, or bear up and sail large, still the 12 ships, composing, in the first position, the enemy's rear, are to be the object of attack of the lee line, unless otherwise directed by the commander-in-chief : which is scarcely to be expected ; as the entire management of the lee line, after the intentions of the commander-in-chief are signified, is intended to be left to the judgment of the admiral commanding that line. The remainder of the enemy's fleet, 34 sail of the line, are to be left to the management of the commander-in-chief ; who will endeavour to take care that the movements of the second in command are as little interrupted as possible."

Villeneuve for his part, was definitely out of favour with Napoleon. The failure of the Grand Plan to invade England was laid squarely at his door by the Emperor. He had failed to achieve anything of any use in the Caribbean, he had allowed himself to be defeated by an inferior force at the Third Battle of Finisterre, he had allowed the British to capture two Spanish ships of the line, something the Spanish were less than happy about. He had disobeyed orders in going to Cadiz instead of Brest. He had known that a squadron under Rear-Admiral Allemand was sailing to Vigo for orders, but had left Ferrol for Cadiz without giving Allemand any orders. Napoleon ordered his Minster of Marine to get Villeneuve to take the French element out of Cadiz, proceed to Naples, disembark all his troops on the Neopolitan coast, then capture HMS Excellent (74), together with the Russian frigate she was in company with. He was then to do all possible damage to British operations in the vicinity and destroy General Sir James Craig's expedition before going back to Toulon to repair and re-provision his ships. In a footnote to the orders, Napoleon made clear his dissatisfaction with Villeneuve's performance and ordered that Vice-Admiral Rosily was to go to Cadiz to replace Villeneuve and that Villeneuve was to return to France and explain himself.

By 10th October, the Combined Fleet had re-embarked the troops and had moved to the entrance to the harbour at Cadiz. Between the 10th and 17th October, the Combined Fleet was stranded there by adverse winds. On the 18th, the wind had changed and Villenueve informed his Spanish counterpart, Gravina, that he intended to leave the following day. On the evening of the 18th, a strong force of Spanish gunboats secured the mouth of the harbour and on the 19th, at 07:00, the Combined Fleet began to put to sea. Their departure was delayed by fickle winds, but by daybreak on the 20th October, they were all at sea. The enemy fleet comprised 33 ships of the line. The Spanish element of the fleet comprised of four ships of 100 guns or more, including the gigantic Santissima Trinidad, which mounted 140 guns on four gundecks and was the largest and most powerful ship in the world. In addition to this, there were two ships of 80 guns, eight ships of 74 guns and one of 64 guns. The French element of the fleet comprised four ships of 80 guns and 14 ships of 74 guns. The fleet also had four frigates and two brig-corvettes.

Every move of the Combined Fleet was being watched and reported by the British frigates, so Nelson knew exactly what the enemy were up to.

In the meantime, Nelson would have been aware that the various ships of the different countries were painted with different colour schemes and was concerned about accidental engagements between British ships. He decreed that all the ships in his fleet should fly his colours, the White Ensign (he was a Vice-Admiral of the White) and that all the ships should be painted in the same colours - black with an ocre stripe along each line of gunports, with the gunport lids painted black. He also decreed that the iron hoops holding the lower masts together and the mast-tops should be painted white. Jack Nastyface gives some interesting details about the enemy's ships "Some of them were painted like ourselves, with double-yellow sides, some with a single red or yellow streak, others all black and the noble Santissima Trinidad with four distinct lines of red with a white ribbon between them and the Santa Anna was painted all black".

At 6:40am on the 21st October, Nelson ordered his fleet to adopt their formation in two columns, a windward column led by himself in HMS Victory and a leeward column led by Collingwood in HMS Royal Sovereign. HMS Revenge was stationed in Collingwood's Leeward column, in eighth place behind the 74-gun ship HMS Achille and ahead of HMS Defiance (also of 74 guns). At 11:40, the fleet flagship HMS Victory hoisted the now famous signal "England expects that every man will do his duty".

The Combined Fleet was sailing in a ragged line about five miles long, the two British columns heading towards them from seaward about two miles apart. HMS Royal Sovereign engaged the enemy first, being freshly refitted, she had been re-coppered and her clean bottom had allowed her to surge ahead of her column. As she passed astern of the giant Spanish ship Santa Anna (112), she fired a double-shotted broadside through the Spaniard's unprotected stern, which Spanish officers were to admit after the battle, had killed and wounded 400 of her crew. On passing the Santa Anna's stern, Collingwood remarked to HMS Royal Sovereign's commander, Captain Edward Rotheram "Rotheram, what would Nelson give to be here today?". At the same time, aboard HMS Victory, Nelson, on seeing HMS Royal Sovereign engage the enemy so far aheard of the rest of her column, turned to HMS Victory's commander, Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy stating "See how that noble fellow Collingwood carries his ship into action?".

The positions of the fleets at the start of the Battle of Trafalgar:

The British fleet crashed into the Combined fleet like an avalanche and the enemy's centre and rear quickly became bunched up, with their vanguard sailing on ahead, cut off.

HMS Revenge cut the enemy line, passing HMS Bellerophon, holding her own despite being dismasted, surrounded by no less than five enemy ships and having had her commander, Captain John Cooke killed and went to station herself across the bows of the Aigle (74). The end of the Aigle's bowsprit became caught on HMS Revenge's mizzen topsail and while the two ships were tangled with each other, HMS Revenge let the Aigle have two well-aimed broadsides into her bows before unhooking the Aigle's bowsprit and moving off. As she was moving off however, HMS Revenge came under a withering fire from the Spanish flagship, the Principe de Asturias, a huge First Rate ship of 112 guns from astern of her. Very quickly, HMS Revenge became surrounded by enemy ships, the Principe de Asturias with the French Le Neptune, an 80-gun two-decker with the same firepower as a British 98-gun Second-Rate ship, L'Indomptable, another 80-gun two-decker and the San Justo, a smaller Spanish two-decker of 70 guns. The ship was also engaged in passing by the French Achille (74), before that ship was cornered and destroyed by HMS Prince (98). The Principe de Asturias attempted to board HMS Revenge; in the words of Jack Nastyface, "A Spanish three decker ran her bowsprit over our poop with a number of her crew on it and in her fore rigging. Two or three hundred men were ready to follow, but they caught a Tartar; for our marines with their small arms, and the carronades on the poop loaded with cannister shot, swept them off so fast that they were glad to sheer off. While this was going on we were engaged with a two decker French ship on our starboard side, and on our larboard bow another, so that many of their shots must have struck their own ships and done severe execution". HMS Revenge and her crew endured this bombardment, giving as good as they got, until they were relieved by the arrival of HMS Dreadnought and HMS Thunderer (74), who chased off the Principe de Asturias which in turn was followed by the other enemy ships, leaving HMS Revenge to lick her wounds.

By 6pm it was all over. The Royal Navy had achieved a stunning victory. Of the 33 enemy ships of the line, 18 had been captured and one, the French Achille (not to be confused with the British 74 gun ship of the same name), had caught fire and exploded with the loss of most of her crew. The British had not lost a single ship. The news was tempered by the death of Lord Nelson, who had been shot and had died of his wound some three hours afterwards.

In the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Revenge had been badly damaged by the severe mauling she received at the hands of no less than five enemy ships, three of which were significantly bigger and more powerful. All three lower masts, her bowsprit, her main topmast and gaff had all been shot through in several places and she had been holed nine times below the waterline. Her stern and the frames supporting it had all been smashed along with a number of beams, knees and riders. Several of her chain-plates had been shot away, some of the gunport lids had been destroyed and three of her main guns had been knocked off their trucks. She suffered casualties of Mr Midshipman Thomas Grier, Mr Midshipman Edward F Brooks, 18 seamen and eight Marines killed, with Captain Moorsom, Lieutenant Berry, Captain Lily, Mr Brokenshaw, 38 seamen and nine Marines wounded. During the battle, a barshot had entered the lower gundeck, killed the entire twelve-man crew of a 32pdr gun, knocked the gun off it's truck and lodged in the ship's timbers. The barshot was eventually removed from the ship during later repairs and was taken by Captain Moorsom and used to make a sundial in the garden of his home at Airy Hill near Whitby.

The advantage of having a first-hand account of the battle from the lower deck is that individual incidents stand out. Jack Nastyface recalls of one of the Midshipmen killed (Clowes Vol V witholds the name): "We had a midshipman aboard our ship of a wickedly mischievous disposition, whose sole delight was to insult the feelings of the seamen and furnish pretexts to get them punished. His conduct made every man's life miserable that happened to be under his orders. He was a youth not more than twelve or thirteen years of age, but I have often seen him get on the carriage of a gun, call a man over to him and kick him about the thighs and body and with his fists, beat him about the head; and these, although prime seamen, at the same time, dared not murmur. It was ordained however, by Providence, that his reign of terror and severity should not last; for during the engagement, he was killed on the quarterdeck by a grapeshot, his body greatly mutilated, his entrails being scattered and driven against the larboard side; nor were there any lamentations for his fate".

Also: "Among those who were thus preserved from a watery grave was a young Frenchwoman who was brought aboard our ship in a state of complete nakedness. Although it was in the heat of battle, yet she received every assistance which was at that time in our power; and her distress of mind was soothed as well as we could; until the officers got to their chests, from whence they furnished her with needles and thread to convert sheets into chemises and curtains from their cots to make somewhat of a gown and other garments so that by degrees she was made as comfortable as circumstances would admit; for we all tried who would be most kind to her". It turned out that the young woman concerned was a survivor of the French Achille and was the wife of one of that ships crew who could not bear to be separated from him when he was ordered to sea. Disguising herself as a boy, she had entered the ship with him and had served at his side until she was told that he had been killed during the battle. Her reaction to his apparent death gave her away. The rescue of the Frenchwoman was described by Captain Moorsom in a letter to his father dated 4th December 1805:

"When the Achille was burning, she (Jeanette) got out of the gunroom port and sat on the rudder chains till some melted lead ran down upon her and forced her to strip and leap off. She swam to a spar where several men were, but one of them bit and kicked her till she was obliged to quit and get to another which supported her til she was taken by The Pickle (an English schooner) and sent on board the Revenge. Amongst the men she was lucky enough to find her husband. We were not wanting in civility to the lady. I ordered her two Purser's shirts to make a petticoat; and other of the officers found something to clothe her; in a few hours, Jeanette was perfectly happy."

Each of the officers in HMS Revenge gave the woman a silver dollar and when the ship limped into Gibraltar after enduring the storm which followed the battle, the woman and her husband were put into a Cartel ship which took them both to Spain.

The rescue of Jeanette by HMS Pickle's boat. According to witnesses, the young woman was actually naked when pulled from the sea, but the painter, William Heath has chosen to preserve her modesty. The remains of the Achille continue to burn in the background:

Captain Moorsom's sundial:

The Battle of Trafalgar had begun in conditions of very light winds and consequently, Nelson had made clear his intention of having the fleet anchor in the shallow waters off Cape Trafalgar, in order to secure the prizes and make repairs. Nelson and Collingwood had disagreed on this, Collingwood's view was that they should proceed to the safety of Gibraltar. Nelson and Collingwood had been the best of friends, but in tactical matters, Collingwood often disagreed with Nelson, but due to his being the superior officer, Nelson's view usually prevailed. On Nelson's death, Collingwood took command of the fleet and at 6.15pm, transferred his command flag to the undamaged frigate HMS Euryalus. Although the winds had been very light during the battle, immediately afterwards it had begun to rise. Of the 27 ships in the British fleet, 14 had received some hull damage, but the majority of the ships had been so badly damaged in their masts and rigging that they were unable to set any sails. Of the 17 captured enemy ships, eight of them were completely dismasted and the remainder had lost at least one mast. In addition to this, very few of the ships of both sides were actually able to anchor, having lost their anchors due to battle damage. Four of the dismasted prizes were able to anchor and did so off Cape Trafalgar. The rest of the ships, including HMS Leviathan drifted out to sea. By the 22nd October, the rest of the prizes were under tow. By the afternoon of the 22nd, the rising gale was beginning to take it's toll on the shattered, former enemy ships. At 5pm, the Redoutable, being towed by HMS Swiftsure, hoisted a distress signal and HMS Swiftsure launched her boats and began the process of evacuating the French ship. Swiftsure's boats immediately took off part of the British prize crew and about 120 French sailors. At 10.30pm, the Redoutable's stern was entirely submerged and HMS Swiftsure cut the tow line. At 3.30am, those aboard HMS Swiftsure heard cries from the direction of the Redoutable and on turning around and heading for the French ship's position discovered three rafts made from lashed together spars and men in the water. The French ship had sunk and HMS Swiftsure recovered some 50 survivors.

In the rising storm, it became clear that many of the captured ships would would have to be cut adrift, so Collingwood ordered that the leeward-most of the enemy ships, those closest to the Spanish coast be destroyed, to prevent them from being recaptured by the enemy.

On October 28th 1805, HMS Revenge arrived at Gibraltar, in company with HMS Victory, which was being towed by HMS Neptune (98) and after making repairs as much as possible, the ship sailed, again in company with HMS Victory on the 3rd November, arriving off St. Helens, Isle of Wight on December 4th. More repairs were carried out and both ships left the fleet anchorage off St. Helens on the 10th bound for the Nore, where they arrived on the 22nd. HMS Victory, wearing Nelson's command flag at half-mast was met off Sheerness by HM Yacht Chatham, carrying Captain the Honourable George Grey, the Resident Commissioner at Sheerness and Nelson's body, preserved in a cask of spirits, was transferred to the Yacht and taken to Greenwich where he was to lay in state until his funeral. HMS Revenge then sailed up the River Medway to the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, where she was to be repaired.

Shortly after arriving at Chatham, Captain Moorsom, still suffering with his injuries, resigned his command in January of 1806 and his place was taken by Captain the Honourable Charles Elphinstone Fleeming; according to Jack Nastyface "Whose name was a terror to every ships company he commanded and was cursed from stem to stern in the British Navy". Captain Fleeming immediately made himself even more unpopular by ordering that the ship's Nelson Chequer, worn as a badge of honour by the ships company, be painted out.

Captain Robert Moorsom never went to sea again, but in 1807 was appointed as Private Secretary to Henry Phipps, the First Earl Mulgrave when he was appointed as First Lord of the Admiralty in Lord Grenville's "Ministry of All the Talents", formed on the death of William Pitt the Younger. He was made a Lord of the Admiralty himself in 1809 and was also made an Honorary Colonel in the Marines and was elected as MP for Queenborough. Promoted to Rear-Admiral and appointed as Surveyor-General of the Board of Ordnance in 1810, Vice-Admiral in 1814 and knighted in 1815, he served as Commander-in-Chief at the Nore between 1824 and 1827. While he was Surveyor-General at the Board of Ordnance, he oversaw the adoption of the steam-powered lathe to manufacture gun barrels. He was promoted to Admiral in 1830 and died at home on 11th April 1835, aged 75.

Luckily for the ship's company, Captain Fleeming was only in command for a month and when the repairs were completed at Chatham in February of 1806, the ship recommissioned into the Channel Fleet under Captain John Gore. John Gore was a distinguished, popular and successful officer, who had served under Nelson when the Vice-Admiral had based himself in Captain Gore's ship, the 18pdr-armed, 32-gun frigate HMS Medusa when he was in command of anti-invasion defences along the south coast in 1801 and oversaw the unsuccessful Raids on Boulogne in that year. Captain Gore's first act on being appointed into the ship was to order her 'Nelson Chequer' to be restored, much to the crew's delight.

See here for the story of HMS Medusa:

Captain John Gore, painted in about 1796,some time after his repatriation after a period spent in France as a prisoner of war after the re-capture by the French of HMS Censeur (74) following the Battle of Genoa:

After being recommissioned, the ship left Chatham bound for Spithead to join the rest of the Channel Fleet. In June of 1806, HMS Revenge joined a squadron of the Channel Fleet, to be commanded by Commodore Sir Samuel Hood, flying his command broad pendant in another Large Type 74-gun ship, HMS Centaur. Commodore Hood was the much younger cousin of the more famous Sir Samuel, Admiral Lord Hood and had already proved himself a capable commander during operations in the Caribbean.

See here for the story of HMS Centaur:

Commodore Hood and his squadron were tasked with maintaining a blockade of the French naval base at Rochefort. In addition to HMS Centaur and HMS Revenge, Commodore Hood also had under his command HMS Prince of Wales, the 74-gun ships HMS Conqueror and HMS Monarch and the 64 gun Third Rate ship of the line HMS Polyphemus. In addition to the ships of the line, Hood also had the ex-Danish, 18pdr-armed 36 gun frigate HMS Iris.

See here for the story of HMS Polyphemus:

and HMS Monarch:

On the 14th July 1806, Commodore Hood received intelligence that a French convoy of some 50 vessels was waiting in the mouth of the Gironde River for an opportunity to put to sea bound for the French naval base at Brest. The convoy was to be escorted by a pair of brig-corvettes, the Cesar of 16 guns and the ex-HMS Teazer of 14 guns. Hood decided that it would be a good idea to try to cut them out and accordingly, sent a boat full of men from each of his ships of the line to rendezvous with HMS Iris, who would take them all to the target area where they would meet with the 24pdr-armed 44-gun razee frigate HMS Indefatigable. HMS Indefatigable was patrolling off the mouth of the river in order to prevent the French convoy from putting to sea. HMS Revenge's boat was commanded by Lieutenant Charles Manners. The raid was under the overall command of Lieutenant Edward Reynolds Sibly of HMS Centaur. HMS Indefatigable was to contribute three boats and HMS Iris a further three, making a total raiding party of 12 boats. In the evening of the 15th July, the boats left HMS Indefatigable and made their way towards the enemy. In the dead of night, Lieutenant Sibly and his men attacked the Cesar and boarded her. The French, anticipating the attack, were ready, but after a few minutes of ferocious hand-to-hand combat at close quarters, surrendered. On seeing the fighting aboard the Cesar, the Teazer and the other vessels of the convoy, cut their anchor cables and made their way further up the river, making cutting-out impossible. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Sibly and his raiding party had captured a very fine French brig-corvette of 16 guns and despite coming under fire from the Teazer and shore batteries on both sides of the river, made their escape. All the boats except one from HMS Indefatigable and one from HMS Iris were lost, either cut adrift after being swamped or shot through. One of the boats, that from HMS Revenge, was struck by a shot from a heavy gun from a shore battery and sank. Owing to the proximity of the shore, the whole boats crew ended up being taken prisoner by the French.

The Cesar was a fine little brig, 88ft long and 23ft wide, coppered, and in Commodore Hood's opinion, fit for His Majesty's service. She was taken into the Royal Navy under her French name, but was wrecked during a storm in the Gironde Estuary the following year.

Following the capture of the Cesar, Commodore Sir Samuel Hood and his squadron continued their blockade of Rochefort, but in the coming months, there was a rotation in the squadrons ships. HMS Prince of Wales was replaced by another 98 gun Second Rate ship, Captain Gore's first rated command, HMS Windsor Castle and HMS Conqueror and HMS Polyphemus had been replaced by HMS Centaur's sister-ship HMS Mars and HMS Achille. Frigates were, as always, at a premium, so HMS Iris had been replaced by the 24pdr carronade-armed 16 gun, ex-French brig-sloop HMS Atalante.

See here for the story of HMS Windsor Castle:

At about 01:00 on 25th September 1806, the squadron was about 20 miles from the Chasseron lighthouse and were heading toward it when HMS Monarch made the signal for enemy in sight.  Expecting the strangers to be ships of the line, Commodore Hood ordered that the squadron form a line of battle, but on receiving news that the enemy ships were in fact frigates, this signal was substituted for one ordering a general chase. The enemy ships were in fact a squadron which had escaped the previous evening from Rochefort bound for the Caribbean and consisted of the 40 gun frigates Gloire, Indefatigable, Armide, Minerve and Themis, together with the brig-corvettes Lynx and Sylphe.

As soon as they realised they had been seen, the French force made all sail and ran before the wind and the British force altered course after them. At the time, HMS Revenge was well upwind of the rest of the squadron, so this manoeuvre caused her to fall behind. At about 04:00, HMS Monarch had got to within range of the rearmost of the French frigates, the Armide and began firing with her bow-chasers. This fire was returned by the Armide's stern-chasers. At 06:00, the Indefatigable altered course to the north and was pursued by HMS Mars. The Themis and the brigs headed south and escaped. The Gloire, Armide and Minerve then took positions for mutual support and at about 10:00, all three were engaged by HMS Monarch. In the heavy weather, HMS Monarch was unable to open her lower gundeck gunports and was being outgunned by the three large enemy frigates, to the point where by 10:20, she had been badly damaged and was becoming unmanageable. At 11:00, HMS Centaur had caught up and was able to relieve the pressure on HMS Monarch by engaging the Gloire and the Armide, leaving HMS Monarch to batter the Minerve into surrender. At 11:45, the Armide surrendered to HMS Centaur, while shortly afterwards, the Minerve struck her colours to HMS Monarch. By this time, HMS Mars had caught up with the Indefatigable and had forced that ship also to surrender. Facing a force of powerful enemy ships of the line, the Gloire set all sail and fled westward, pursued by HMS Centaur. HMS Mars joined the chase at 14:30 and the two fast and very powerful seventy-fours quickly caught the fleeing enemy frigate, which surrendered at 15:00.

HMS Revenge was not engaged in the Action off Rochefort, so had no casualties or damage.

The squadron had succeeded in capturing four very large and powerful French frigates. The Minerve was taken into the Royal Navy and renamed to HMS Alceste, the Indefatigable was renamed to HMS Immortalite while the Gloire and Armide retained their French names. On examining the ships, it was found that they were each carrying about 400 troops in addition to their normal ships companies plus a huge amount of arms, ammunition and stores. This accounts for why they were unable to outrun a force of British ships of the line.

In August of 1807, Captain Gore left the ship and was replaced by Captain The Honourable Charles Paget. Another successful officer, Captain Paget was the eighth of twelve children and fifth son of Henry Bayly Paget, the 1st Earl of Uxbridge whose influence assisted his rapid promotion up the officer ranks of the Royal Navy. He passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 12th of December 1796 aged 18 and within six months had been appointed as Master and Commander in the 6pdr-armed 16-gun ship-sloop HMS Martin and had participated in the Battle of Camperdown where his ship had served to repeat signals. HMS Revenge was his first appointment in command of a ship of the line; all his previous posted commands had been frigates. He was still a few months short of his 30th birthday when he took command of HMS Revenge.

Captain the Honourable Charles Paget by Sir Thomas Lawrence:

"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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HMS Revenge (1805 - 1849)
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2018, 21:49:10 »
Part Two - Battle of Basque Roads, The Scheldt Campaign, The Attack on Cherbourg, the end of the war, the Greek War Of Independence, Bombardments of Beirut, Sidon and Acre

After the Battle of Trafalgar, the navies of France and Spain ceased to be a major threat and the war at sea became one of blockades, actions between individual ships or small, squadron-level encounters as a result of the enemy being reluctant to put to sea in numbers. What major events did occur happened as a result of the Royal Navy supporting campaigns ashore.

On the 26th February 1807, HMS Revenge sailed for the Mediterranean, but was back in the Channel Fleet on blockade duty by the end of 1808. In the winter of 1808, the French learned that the British were preparing to invade the French-controlled island of Martinique, where their main naval base in the Caribbean and the Americas was located. If the British could seize Martinique, then the French could forget about defending their other Caribbean possessions and their trade in the Americas, such as it was. Napoleon ordered the Commander-in-Chief of the French Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez to take the fleet from Brest, meet up with outlying squadrons in Lorient and Rochefort and go to Martinique to reinforce the island and prevent a British invasion. Since the French breakouts of 1806, one of which had resulted in their defeat in the Battle of San Domingo, the British had maintained a very close blockade of the French Biscay ports and Willaumez was forced to wait until winter storms forced the British to move further out into the Atlantic Ocean in February of 1809 before he felt able to take the Brest Fleet to sea. The British blockading fleet was by this time commanded by Admiral James, the Lord Gambier, a devout and strict Methodist known amongst the men as 'Dismal Jimmy'.

When Gambier had taken the fleet to the safety of the open ocean, he had left HMS Revenge to keep an eye on the French at Brest. On 22nd February, Willaumez put to sea with eight ships of the line and two frigates. HMS Revenge followed the French fleet towards Lorient and signalled Commodore John Poer Beresford, flying his command Broad Pennant in HMS Theseus (74) and commanding the blockading squadron also comprising of HMS Triumph and HMS Valiant (both also of 74 guns), warning him of the approach of the enemy fleet. Beresford ordered his force to get out of the way of the approaching French fleet, allowing them to anchor near Ile Groix. Once Willaumez had been joined by the Lorient squadron, he headed south again, this time to Rochefort, which was being blockaded by Rear-Admiral Robert Stopford with three ships of the line plus the 18pdr-armed 36 gun frigate HMS Amethyst. Once he had received the signal from HMS Amethyst warning him of the approach of the French fleet, Stopford initially closed with the enemy, but backed off when he realised how strong they were and allowed the enemy to enter the Basque Roads, off Rochefort where they anchored. The French fleet now consisted of eleven ships of the line, one of 120 guns, two of 80 guns, eight of 74 guns, with the ex-HMS Calcutta, a former Fourth Rate Ship of the Line armed en-flute (meaning that some of her guns had been removed to make room for cargo) and four frigates, all of 40 guns. With the weather calming down, Willaumez guessed that it would only be a matter of time before he was attacked in the wide and open Basque Roads, so ordered his fleet to move into the much more confined and narrow Aix Roads, where they would be protected by powerful shore batteies on the Ile D'Aix. The Aix Roads are narrow, littered with rocks and shoals and with powerful currents and are dabgerous to navigate in large, square-rigged sailing ships. On the plus side, any enemy fleet attempting to attack would have to come through the Basque Roads before entering the Aix Road, where they would be forced to navigate close to the shore, under the guns of the batteries on Ile'D'Aix. As if to demonstrate the dangers of navigating in the Aix Roads, one of the French ships of the line, the Jean Bart of 74 guns ran aground and was wrecked on the Palles Shoal on the 26th February. Willaumez had his surviving ships anchor across the Aix Roads, facing downstream so that any approaching ships would be caught in a crossfire between his fleet and the shore batteries on the Ile D'Aix.

On 17th March, Lord Gambier arrived in the Basque Roads and joined with Commodore Beresford's squadron bringing the total number of British ships of the line in the Basque Roads to eleven as follows: HMS Caledonia of 120 guns, HMS Caesar and HMS Gibraltar, both of 80 guns and HMS Hero, HMS Donegal, HMS Resolution, HMS Illustrious, HMS Valiant, HMS Bellona, HMS Theseus and HMS Revenge, all of 74 guns. In addition to the ships of the line, Gambier also had the 24pdr-armed Razee Heavy Frigate HMS Indefatigable of 44 guns, the 18pdr-armed frigates HMS Imperieuse (38), HMS Aigle and HMS Emerald (both of 36 guns), HMS Unicorn (32) and the 12pdr-armed frigate HMS Pallas of 32 guns.

With the arrival of Gambier and his fleet, the situation in the Basque Roads became stalemated. Willaumez was unwilling to risk his fleet by attacking Gambier, who in turn was unwilling to risk his ships amongst the rocks in the Aix Roads.

The stalemate was causing unrest to stir for both the French and the British. One of the French captains wrote a letter of complaint to the French Minister of Marine, who removed both the captain and Admiral Willaumez from their posts. Willaumez was replaced by Admiral Zacharie Allemand. On the British part, Gambier was concerned that the French might try to use fireships to attack his fleet anchored in the Basque Roads and ordered his captains to be ready to cut their anchor cables and leave in a hurry if required. He wrote to the Admiralty recommending the use of fireships against the French in their anchorage in the Aix Roads. Rear Admiral Eliab Harvey (of HMS Temeraire and Trafalgar fame) volunteered to lead such an attack, but Gambier vacillated and refused even to order preparations for a fireship attack. Back in the UK, politicians were beginning to get involved and Henry Phipps, the Earl Mulgrave, then First Lord of the Admiralty ordered that ten fireships be prepared and sent to Lord Gambier. On 11th March, HMS Imperieuse arrived at Plymouth and as soon as he became aware of this, Lord Mulgrave summoned the frigate's captain to London. The reason for this was that the frigate's captain was none other than Cptain Thomas, the Lord Cochrane, the heir to the Earldom of Dundonald. Lord Cochrane by this time was famous for his exploits in attacking the enemy against seemingly impossible odds. Lord Cochrane was a firebrand; aggressive, well-connected and contemptuous of authority. At the time, he was also serving as the MP for Westminster and was a fierce critic of the Government. Some years before, Lord Cochrane had submitted a plan for an attack on the French Atlantic Fleet in their bases using a combination of fireships, Congreve Rockets, Bomb Vessels and Explosion Ships, to be followed up by an assault using ships of the line to exploit the panic and confusion caused by the previous attack. His plan had been ignored by the Admiralty until now. Cochrane was also astute enough to know why he was now being summoned to the Admiralty. He guessed that Mulgrave wanted him to lead the attack so that if it went wrong, he could be the fall guy. When they met, Cochrane outlined his plan and Mulgrave agreed it, asking Cochrane to lead it. Cochrane, knowing the outrage that his appointment would cause amongst the more senior of his fellow officers, refused insisting that someone more senior should lead the attack. Mulgrave did his best to persuade Cochrane to agree to lead the attack, but Cochrane continued to refuse, so Lord Mulgrave issued him with a direct order to lead the attack in person and sent him back to his ship.

On 26th March, Lord Gambier received Lord Mulgrave's letter instructing him to prepare an attack on the French fleet using fireships, which had been prepared in the UK and which were on their way to him. On the same day, Lord Gambier wrote two letters in reply. In the first letter, he admitted that the enemy was indeed vulnerable to an attack with fireships.
In his second letter, Lord Gambier wrote "The enemy's ships are anchored in two lines, very near to each other, in a direction due S. from the fort on the Isle d'Aix ; and the ships in each line not farther apart than their own length ; by which it appears, as I imagine, that the space for their anchorage is so confined by the shoalness of the water, as not to admit of ships to run in and anchor clear of each other. The most distant ships of their two lines are within point-blank shot of the works upon the Isle d'Aix : such ships, therefore, as might attack the enemy would be exposed to be raked by the hot shot, &c. from the island ; and, should the ships be disabled in their masts, they must remain within the range of the enemy's fire until destroyed, there not being sufficient depth of water to allow them to move to the southward out of distance. I beg leave to add, that, if their lordships are of opinion that an attack on the enemy's ships by those of the fleet under my command is practicable, I am ready to obey any orders they may be pleased to honour me with, however great the risk may be of the loss of men and ships."

Lord Gambier had also noted that the French were in the process of strengthening all the defences for their anchorage in the Aix Roads and this included the construction of what appeared to be a new gun tower on the south end of the Boyard Shoal. He directed the 18pdr-armed 38 gun frigate HMS Amelia to get rid of them. At 09:00 on 1st April, the frigate weighed anchor and headed for the spot, arriving at 10:15. She fired a broadside, driving away the construction workers and landed men who spent the rest of the day demolishing the works.

On 3rd April, Lord Cochrane arrived in the Basque Road in HMS Imperieuse and delivered Lord Gambiers orders in person. At the time the orders were written, twelve of the fireships were anchored in the Downs off Deal awaiting fair winds, while six more purchased merchant vessels and been ordered from Plymouth to sail to the Basque Roads to be fitted as fireships in situ. The Board of Ordnance has been directed to send a ship from Woolwich laden with 1000 barrels of gunpowder. With the ships from Plymouth not due for some days, Lord Gambier ordered that the six largest of the 30-odd transport ships then with the fleet be fitted as fireships in addition to three recently-captured chasse-marees laden with pitch and stockholm tar. At Lord Cochrane's suggestion, a further three vessels were fitted as explosion vessels and HMS Mediator, a 44-gun two-decker armed en flute (that with with most of her guns removed to make room for cargo) was also fitted as a fireship. On 6th April, the bomb-vessel HMS Aetna arrived in the Basque Roads, followed on 10th by the fireships from the Downs, escorted by the brig-sloops HMS Beagle (18) and HMS Redpole (10). Also in the convoy was the transport ship Cleveland, laden with Congreve Rockets.

At this stage, the British fleet in addition to the ships of the line and frigates mentioned earlier, also comprised the brig-sloops HMS Beagle, HMS Dotorel, HMS Foxhound, HMS Lyra (all of 18 guns), HMS Redpole of 10 guns, the bomb vessel HMS Aetna, the gun-brigs HMS Insolent of 14 guns, HMS Encounter, HMS Contest, HMS Conflict, HMS Fervent and HMS Growler (all of 12 guns), the armed schooner HMS Whiting of ten guns and the hired armed cutters Nimrod and King George, also both of ten guns.

All these preparations did not go unnoticed by the French and Admiral Allemand's suspicions that the British were preparing a massive attack using fireships were confirmed with the arrival of the convoy from the Downs. He ordered that a stout boom be rigged, from the Ile D'Aix, to run about half a mile out into the Basque Roads, in front of his ships. He ordered that his frigates be moored in front of his ships of the line and that all his fleets boats be fitted as gunboats, ready to seize any fireships which come up against the boom and tow them away and also to engage and drive off any British boats sent to prevent this. The boom was comprised of large logs, secured together with three-inch rope and anchored with five ton anchors (actually heavier than those on the massive British flagship HMS Caledonia, whose anchors weighed in the region of four tons each). In addition, he ordered the topmasts and topgallant masts on his ships of the line to be struck and lowered to the decks and that any sails not required immediately to get the ships under way if necessary, to be unbent and taken down. The reason for this was that Allemand knew the first parts of a ship to catch fire when struck by a fireship were the sails and rigging fitted to the upper masts.

The position of the French fleet on the eve of the Battle of Basque Roads:

In the afternoon of the 11th, the arrangements were complete and the British ships began to move into position. HMS Imperieuse moved down towards the inner end of the Boyard shoal. HMS Aigle, HMS Unicorn and HMS Pallas anchored a short distance to the north-west, or above HMS Imperieuse. Their role was to recover the crews of the fireships and the boats accompanying them and to render assistance if required to HMS Imperieuse. HMS Whiting with the cutters also took upstations near the Boyard. Those vessels had all been fitted to fire the Congreve Rockets. HMS Aetna took up station to the north-west of the Ile D'Aix, to be covered by HMS Indefatigable and HMS Foxhound, while HMS Emerald, HMS Beagle, HMS Dotorel, HMS Conflict and HMS Growler were stationed at the east end of the island to create a diversion. Finally, HMS Lyra and HMS Redpole were to hoist lights and were to anchor, one near the shoal to the nprth west of Ile D'Aix, the other close to the Boyard Shoal in order to guide the fireships to their targets. The eleven ships of the line prepared to make their move when the time was right. HMS Caledonia's Sailing Master estimated their position to be six miles from the enemy, although the telegraph on Ile D'Aix signalled their distance to the French flagship to be three leagues or nine miles.

At 20:30, with the wind blowing towards the French fleet more strongly than anticipated and the tide running at about two knots, HMS Mediator and the other fireships cut their anchor cables and made sail towards the enemy. The wind was blowing too strongly for part of Cochrane's plan to be put into action, that of chaining the fireships together in groups of four; instead the fireships were to act independently. At 21:30, the first of the explosion vessels exploded about 120 yards from the nearest French frigate, the Indienne and about a mile from the French ships of the line. The Indienne was undamaged by the explosion and the British could not understand why the explosion vessel had detonated so far from the targets. What they didn't know was that the vessel had been stuck on the boom, of which they were unaware. They just assumed that the fuse had been lit too early. At 21:45, HMS Mediator came up against the boom, but her size and the great weight of the wind on her sails drove her through it. The boom now broken, the way was open for the rest of the fireships which were following. Panic now followed amongst the French as the burning fireships swept down amongst them. Admiral Allemand's preparations however, were working well. Many of the French were dowsing down their decks using their ship's pumps, but this didn't stop many of them from cutting their anchor cables in panic. In the strong winds and currents, most of the French ships were driven aground on the mudbanks and shoals in the narrow Aix Roads.

The fireships attack:

The coming of daylight revealed the sorry state of the French fleet, with most of their ships of the line stranded on the mud or aground on the rocks. They were there for the taking. HMS Caledonia and the British fleet were only twelve miles from the utterly helpless French and at 05:48 on the 12th march, Captain Cochrane signalled the flagship HMS Caledonia: "Half the fleet can destroy the enemy, seven on shore". No response. At 06:40, he signalled: "Eleven on shore". Again, no response. At 07:40, he signalled again: "Only two afloat". Within the hour, the tide was beginning to turn and the French were making preparations to refloat their ships, so at 09:40, he signalled the flagship again: "Enemy preparing to heave off". At last, a response from Lord Gambier, who signalled the fleet: "Prepare with sheet and spare anchors out of stern ports and springs ready". At 09:35, the flagship signalled the fleet to weigh anchor, but to Cochrane's dismay, this signal was cancelled and replaced with another ordering all captains aboard HMS Caledonia for a conference. Forty-five minutes later, with the conference over and the captains having returned to their ships, the fleet finally got under way, but at 11:30, the fleet anchored again, about six miles from the grounded French ships. The Admiral it seems, had changed his mind about the agreed plan. Instead of the British ships of the line bombarding the shore batteries on their way past them before anchoring and destroying the helpless French fleet at their leisure, he had hesitated. Instead, he ordered HMS Aetna, covered by HMS Growler, HMS Insolent and HMS Conflict to proceed towards the Aix Road and take up a position to bombard the French fleet, while Captain John Bligh in HMS Valiant was to take his ship, plus HMS Bellona and HMS Revenge with the frigates and sloops-of-war and anchor as close as possible to the Boyard shoal and be ready to support the gun-brigs and the bomb vessel should they need it. Bligh's force came to anchor about a mile closer to the enemy than the rest of the fleet.

This movement from the British signalled another impending attack, so as French ships were able to be refloated on the rising tide, they raised their topmasts, threw overboard guns, stores and ammunition in a bid to refloat their ships more quickly. By this means, by 12:45, two of the French ships of the line, Foudroyant and Cassard got themselves underway again, followed at 14:00 by Romulus, Patriote and Jemmappes, although all of them ran aground again further upstream, but well away from the British. Shortly before high water, the mighty Ocean of 120 guns got afloat and moved some 700 yards towards deeper water, where she was again stopped by mud. Seeing that the French were gradually getting themselves together and getting away, thus defeating the entire object of the whole enterprise, HMS Imperieuse at 13:30 got under way and headed directly for a group of three ships preparing to get under way from the Palles Shoal on which they had grounded during the fireship attack, which were Calcutta, Aquilon and Varsovie. Seeing that Gambier had absolutely no intention of coming to complete the objective, Cochrane signalled the flagship: "The enemy's ships are getting under sail". Ten minutes later on getting no response from the flagship, another signal was made: "The enemy is superior to the chasing ship". With no response from the flagship, Cochrane signalled at 13:45: "The ship is in distress and requires to be assisted immediately". At 13:50, Cochrane gave up and ordered his gunners to begin firing at the enemy.

The Battle of Basque Roads at about noon on 12th March 1809, the French are beginning to make their escape:

At 14:10, having noticed that shot from the 18 and 24pdr carronades on the gun-brigs was dropping short, as was the shot from the 32pdr carronades on HMS Beagle, Lord Cochrane signalled them to move closer, but knowing that the signal could also be seen by HMS Aetna, which was in the correct position, he ordered that guns be fired towards the gun-brigs so that they knew the signal was intended for them. The penny dropped and the gun-brigs moved closer to the French ships. Eventually, Lord Gambier, on seeing that HMS Imperieuse was heavily engaged against three grounded French ships of the line, got the hint and ordered that HMS Indefatigable, HMS Emerald, HMS Aigle, HMS Unicorn, HMS Valiant, HMS Revenge and HMS Pallas move to support the lone frigate. Under this now withering hail of fire, Calcutta, Varsovie and Aquilon struck their colours in surrender. At 18:00, the Tonnere was set on fire by her crew, who escaped to the shore and at 19:30, the ship blew up when the fire reached her magazine. At 20:30, Calcutta, which had been set on fire without orders by the British boarding party also blew up.

The battle was not over yet, five French ships of the line, Ocean, Cassard, Regulus, Tourville and Jemmappes, plus the frigate Indienne were all lying aground at the mouth of the river Charende and in the afternoon, the decision was made to fit three more transport ships as fireships and send them after the once more helpless French. A 17:30, Rear-Admiral Stopford got under way with HMS Caesar with the fireships, plus all the fleet's launches fitted to fire Congreve Rockets and stood towards the Aix Road. At 19:40, HMS Caesar ran aground on the Boyard Shoal, as did HMS Valiant. Those two ships were unable to be refloated until about 22:30.

At about midnight, the three fireships were ready to proceed, but a number of changes in the wind between then and about 2:30 on the 13th prevented the British ships from getting underway and at about 04:40, HMS Caesar came to anchor in the Little Basque Road, at the entrance to the Aix Roads. Because Rear-Admiral Stopford was not yet able to deploy the fireships due to the wind, the British contented themselves with setting fire to the Aquilon and the Varsovie before moving away in preparation for the expected explosion of those ships' magazines. Once the fires took hold, the French, further up the Aix Roads mistook the burning ships for more fireships and opened fire on them, while the captain and crew of the Tourville abandoned ship. At 05:00, in accordance with a signal from Rear-Admiral Stopford, Captain Bligh got under way with HMS Valiant, HMS Theseus, HMS Revenge, HMS Emerald, HMS Indefatigable, HMS Unicorn and HMS Aigle in order to return to the rest of the fleet anchored in the Basque Roads. While HMS Imperieuse was passing HMS Indefatigable, Captain Lord Cochrane hailed Captain John Rodd and suggested that HMS Indefatigable go to one quarter of the Ocean, while his ship took the other and between them, the two frigates might be able to batter the huge French three-decker into submission. Captain Rodd declined the invitation, explaining that his ship's main topmast had been damaged, that she drew too much water and that in any case, he would not be justified in acting without orders in the presence of two superior officers, Captain Bligh of HMS Valiant and Captain Beresford of HMS Theseus. At 06:00, Lord Cochrane's ship anchored in the Maumusson Passage and at 06:30 was passed by HMS Pallas on her way to the fleet in the Basque Roads and Captain George Seymour inquired of Lord Cochrane whether he should remain where he was or proceed to join the fleet, as he had been given no orders. Lord Cochrane directed him to anchor where he was if he had no orders to the contrary. HMS Beagle and the gun-brigs, which were following HMS Pallas did the same. At 08:00, Lord Cochrane ordered the gun-brigs, HMS Aetna to proceed and attack the nearest French ships int hemouth of the River Charende, which leads directly to the dockyard at Rochefort. At 11:00, HMS Beagle, HMS Contest, HMS Conflict, HMS Encounter, HMS Fervent, HMS Growler, HMS Aetna, the rocket-schooner HMS Whiting and the rocket-cutters Nimrod and King George came to anchor and opened fire on the Ocean, Regulus and Indienne as they lay helplessly stranded in the mud. The previous night, the Ocean had landed all her boys and any seamen who wished to leave in addition to all her soldiers. This still left over 600 men aboard the French giant and they were determined to defend their ship to the last man. Since dawn, the crew of the Ocean had thrown hundreds of barrels of stores and provisions overboard in an attempt to lighten their ship, but she remained stubbornly stuck fast. The French crew had also moved four of their lower gundeck 36pdr long guns to the stern chase gunports and had also moved two of her middle gundeck 24pdr guns and two of the upper gundeck 12pdr guns to fire through the stern windows. HMS Beagle anchored in a position off the stern of the French giant and opened fire with her broadside 32pdr carronades. The gunnery duel between the stern guns on the giant French ship and the relatively tiny British brig-sloop went on for five hours. In the end, it was only HMS Beagle whose fire managed to have any effect. The other vessel's fire fell short and HMS Aetna split her 13-inch mortar. This flotilla ceased firing at about 16:00 as Ocean and Regulaus were making preparations for another attempt at getting underway. To avoid being stranded by the falling tide themselves, the flotilla made their way back to their earlier positions. While the bombardment had beenongoing, HMS Imperieuse and HMS Pallas had been prevented from supporting the smaller vessels by the wind and the strength of the currents.

Earlier, at noon, HMS Dottorel, HMS Redpole and HMS Foxhound had anchored near the frigates with two more rocket-vessels and they had brought Lord Cochrane two letters from Lord Gambier, one public and one private. In the public letter, Lord Gambier ordered Lord Cochrane to make an attempt on the Ocean with the bomb and rocket vessels but expressed doubt as to the likelyhood of success. In the private letter, he wrote "You have done your part so admirably, that I will not suffer you to tarnish it by attempting impossibilities, which I think, as well as those captains who have come from you, any further efforts to destroy those ships would be. You must therefore join as soon as you can with the bomb, &c., as I wish for some information which you allude to, before I close my despatches."

At 02:30 on the 14th, the Tourville got underway and headed further up-river towards the dockyard after having thrown her guns and heavy stores overboard. Patriote, Hortense and Elbe followed soon after, but Ocean was still stuck. At 09:00, HMS Imperieuse was recalled to the fleet at Basque Roads, to be relieved by HMS Aigle. AT noon, HMS Aigle joined HMS Imperieuse and four hours later, Cochrane's ship headed back to join the fleet. An hour earlier, HMS Aetna had opened fire with her remaining mortar, the 10 inch one and was joined by the gun-brigs in opening fire on the Regulus and the Indienne. Their bombardment continued until 19:00. This had little or no effect and while it was ongoing, the Jemappes worked herself clear of the mud and also made her way to the dockyard.

Because of the now strong north-westerly winds, the French expected the tide on the 15th to be higher than usual, so the crew of the Ocean worked to try to further lighten their ship by throwing all of her lower gundeck guns, half of her upper gundeck guns and four of her middle gundeck guns overboard. At 02:00 the following day, this had the desired effect and Ocean at last moved into the fairway, forcing her keel for 500 yards through the mud before she reached deep water and was able to make her way up the river towards the dockyard. At 16:00, the Cassard managed to do the same. On the 16th, after five days of trying to extricate their ship from the mud, the crew of the Indienne abandoned their ship and set her on fire. She blew up after burning for two hours. On the 17th at 04:00, the Foudroyant escaped, leaving just the Regulus still stranded in the mud.

The Regulus stranded and helpless on the mud is surrounded and attacked by the British:

Two more days passed without any attacks on the French until the 20th, when the bomb vessel HMS Thunder arrived and covered by the gun-brigs, began to fire her mortars at the enemy. She only got a few rounds off when her 13 inch mortar split. The 21st and 22nd passed without incident and on the 23rd, four of the gun-brigs each took aboard two 18pdr long guns from HMS Aigle and HMS Aetna, having run out of shells for her 10-inch mortar, took aboard more shells from HMS Thunder and the bomb vessels and gun-brigs spent the whole of the 24th bombarding the Regulus, attempting to force the French to abandon their ship, without success. AT dawn on the 29th, the Regulus was at last refloated and headed up the river to the dockyard and on the same day, Lord Gambier left for the UK in HMS Caledonia. Thus ended the Battle of Basque Roads.

The post-mortem however had only just begun. In the night attack, Lord Cochrane had opened the door which should have allowed Lord Gambier to wipe out the remnants of the French Atlantic Fleet. Lord Gambier however, hesitated and when he did eventually move to support Lord Cochrane, it was too little, too late and he let the French off the hook. After fierce criticism in the press, Lord Gambier requested a court martial. The First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Mulgrave ensured that the Court Martial Board was filled with Gambier supporters and Lord Cochrane was forbidden from speaking. Not surprising then that Gambier was acquitted of any wrongdoing. Rear-Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey was incensed that Captain Lord Cochrane had been given command of the attack over his head and gave his opinion to the Admiral with both barrels and in response, Lord Gambier sent him back to the UK in the middle of the battle. Sir Eliab Harvey, the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar, faced his own Court Martial and was dismissed from the Royal Navy. As for Lord Cochrane, he was convicted after getting caught up in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 and was forced to resign from the Royal Navy. He later went to South America where he organised the navies of firstly Chile and then Brazil in their fight for independence from Spain and Portugal respectvely. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the fraud and was reinstated in the Royal Navy as a Rear-Admiral in 1832.

Even today, the failure of the Royal Navy to take advantage of a golden opportunity to utterly destroy the French Atlantic Fleet is laid squarely at Gambier's door. Napoleon himself wrote that Cochrane, who he referred to as "Le loup des mers" (the wolf of the seas) "could not only have destroyed the French ships, but he might and would have taken them out, had your admiral supported him as he ought to have done. The French admiral was an imbecile, but yours was just as bad".

By the time of the Battle of Basque Roads, the British were aware that the French were intending to use the great port of Antwerp at the mouth of the River Scheldt as a naval base. The French had occupied what is now The Netherlands and Belgium and the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had installed his younger brother Louis as King of Holland. He had forced Louis to cede to France the port of Flushing as the harbour at Antwerp was not deep enough to accomodate a fully loaded French 80-gun Ship of the Line. This gave the French mastery of the entire mouth of the Scheldt and the natural harbour this provides could hold a fleet of 20 ships of the line in perfect safety. By 1809, the French had already stationed a fleet of ten 74-gun ships in the Scheldt. In addition to this, the various shipyards at Antwerp had a total of 19 slipways, all of which were being used for the construction of ships for the French navy. Of particular concern for the British was the fact that six 80-gun ships, each of which had the equivalent firepower to a British 98-gun Second Rate ship and three 74-gun ships were at various stages of construction at Antwerp. Since 1805, the French had been turning the port of Antwep into a naval depot and had spent some 66 million francs on extending the fortifications, basin, dockyard and arsenal there.

In the spring of 1809, the British had decided to do something about this new threat and had begun to prepare a massive amphibious expedition to destroy the arsenal, dockyard, fortifications and enemy ships at Antwerp, Flushing and Terneuse. If possible, they were also to render the Scheldt impassable for large ships. In order to achieve this, the British planned to occupy the islands of Cadzand, Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland. They spent the early summer of 1809 gathering an immense invasion fleet at the Downs, the great fleet anchorage between Deal and the Goodwin Sands. The fleet comprised no less than 39 ships of the line including HMS Revenge, three 44-gun two-decked ships, 23 frigates, a post-ship, 31 sloops-of-war, five bomb-vessels, 23 gun-brigs and 120 hired armed cutters, revenue cutters, tenders and gun-boats. In addition to 245 warships of various sizes, there were 400 transport vessels carrying 44,000 soldiers including some 3,000 cavalry troops, 15,000 horses, two complete seige trains with heavy artillery and mortars as well as lighter field artillery.

The naval force was to be commanded by the Commander-in-Chief in the North Sea, Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan. He was a popular and famous officer, affectionately known to the seamen as 'Mad Dick' on account of his uncontrollable temper and violent cursing when things went wrong. Sir Richard Strachan was the 6th Baronet Strachan and was the last Chief of the ancient Scottish Clan Strachan. The army was to be commanded by General Sir John Pitt, the 2nd Earl of Chatham and eldest son of William Pitt the Elder, the First Earl and former Prime Minister and he was also the older brother of William Pitt the Younger, himself a Prime Minister.

On the 28th July 1809, this mighty armada left the Downs and headed for the Scheldt Estuary. The Commander-in-Chief in HMS Venerable (74) anchored in West-Kapelle Road in the evening of July 28th, and there found the frigate HMS Fisgard (18pdr, 38). HMS Fisgard and her crew had already stationed small craft as marks on some of the neighbouring sandbanks. In the course of the night, the Eoompot channel, between Noordland and Walcheren, was sounded, and marks were placed to show its entrance. On the 29th, a large flotilla of transports, having on board General Sir John Hope's division of troops, anchored between Noord Beveland and Schouwen, opposite Zierikzee and a few hours later, the transports with General Sir Eyre Coote's division, 17,000 strong, also arrived, in charge of Rear-Admiral William Albany Otway. Coote's troops were destined exclusively for operations against Walcheren, and should have been landed straight away, but bad weather prevented any landing being attempted until 16:30. On the 30th, under covering fire from the hired armed cutter Idas (10) and under direction of Captains Lord Amelius Beauclerk of HMS Royal Oak and George Cockburn, of HMS Belle Isle (both of 74 guns) Coote's division after very light opposition, established itself on the northern extremity of Walcheren. In the evening, some bombs and gunboats entered the Veere Gat, or creek, and on the 31st, opened fire on the fortified town of Veere, one of the chief places in the island but towards nightfall, after three gunboats had been sunk by Dutch shot, the flotilla had to withdraw without having suffered any casualties. Middelburg, the capital of the island had in the meantime, peacefully surrendered and Veere had been captured. In addition a naval brigade, landed on the 30th, under Captain Charles Richardson of HMS Caesar (80) and Commander George William Blarney of the brig-sloop HMS Harpy (32pdr carronade-armed, 18) had bombarded the town of Veere with guns and Congreve rockets. During the night the Dutch commandant offered to surrender, so on August 1st Veere surrendered. The army then advanced. Fort Eammekens fell on August 3rd, and immediately afterwards, the British laid seige to Flushing. Sir John Hope's division, under the conduct of Sir Richard Goodwin Keats, had been already landed without opposition on Zuid Beveland, and had occupied some posts there, including Fort Bath, at the eastern end of the island.

On July 29th, as soon as he had been apprised of the approach of the British fleet, the French Rear-Admiral Missiessy, whose force had been lying at anchor off the Calot Sand, had weighed anchor and proceeded up the Scheldt. By the evening of the 30th, six of his ten ships of the line were above a boom which had been thrown across the river at Lillo. The other four remained below Fort Bath until a few hours before the British occupied it, and so obtained control, to some extent, both of the East and of the West Scheldt. So far, one division of the British army had landed on Walcheren, and another on Zuid Beveland. A third should, according to the original plans, have been almost simultaneously landed at Cadzand, where the French General Rousseau commanded a small force. Owing to a miscommunication, the transport vessels which ought to have put their troops ashore at Cadzand moved round to the Veere Gat. This error enabled Rousseau, on August 1st and 2nd, to send over about 1600 men in schuyts to reinforce the threatened garrison of Flushing. But on the 3rd, his efforts to send more were frustrated by the brave actions of the brig-sloop HMS Raven (24pdr carronade-armed, 16) HMS Raven, under the orders of Captain Edward William Campbell Rich Owen of HMS Clyde (18pdr, 38) stood in to cover some boats which under Lieutenant Charles Burrough Strong had been ordered to mark the channel between Flushing and Breskens. She quickly became exposed to heavy fire from the batteries of both places but, instead of withdrawing, she returned fire, and assisted by some gunboats, drove back to the Cadzand side a flotilla of enemy's boats which had been in the act of crossing. As she returned down the river, she passed through a hail of shells, grapeshot and red-hot shot from the batteries on both shores, and lost her main and fore topmasts, besides receiving other serious damage, having two of her guns dismounted, and drifting on to the Elboog sand, whence she could not be moved until the following morning. In this action, HMS Raven suffered eight wounded including her commander. Sadly, their bravery was to no avail, on August 4th, the French reopened communications between Cadzand and Flushing and between that day and the evening of the 6th, General Rousseau succeeded in sending across about 1500 more men, a reinforcement which brought up the strength of the Flushing garrison to about seven thousand.

Possession of Fort Rammekens allowed the British to use the Sloe channel, which is one of the connections between the East and the West Scheldt and facilitated the passage into West Scheldt of the flotilla which had been operating against Veere. Part of this was destined to watch the river opposite Flushing, and to prevent further communications between Cadzand and Ter Neuze; and part to proceed up the West Scheldt, and to co-operate in a naval advance in the direction of Lillo but owing to the bad weather and the difficulties of navigating the River, Flushing was not effectively blockaded until the 6th. It wasn't until the 9th that a division of ships under Sir Home Riggs Popham was able to push up the West Scheldt in order to sound and buoy the Baerlandt Channel in preparation for the passage of the larger ships. On the afternoon of August 11th, with a light westerly breeze that a squadron of ten frigates under Lord William Stuart, weighed anchor from below Flushing and in a line of battle, forced the channel between the batteries of Flushing and Cadzand. The frigates were:

HMS Lavinia, HMS Statira, the ex-Danish ships HMS Rota and HMS Perlen (all 18pdr, 38), HMS Amethyst, HMS Aigle, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dryad and the ex-Danish HMS Nymphen (all 18pdr, 36) and HMS Heroine (12pdr, 36).

As a result of the light wind and strong opposing current, the frigates were under fire for about two hours, but only suffered casualties of two killed and nine wounded and except for HMS Aigle, they reached the upper part of the river without having suffered any material damage. HMS Aigle had had her stern frame shattered by a shell. In the meantime an attack on Fort Bath by Missiessy's small craft had been repulsed and Sir Richard Goodwin Keats, who was in command below Lillo had forced the French to move the rest of their ships of theline to a point above the boom which spanned the river at that spot.

It had been arranged that when the siege batteries of the army opened fire on Flushing, a squadron of ships of the line would move up the river and support them. The bombardment began at 13:30 on August 13th and the army gunners were supported by two divisions of bomb vessels and gunboats under the command of Captain George Cockburn, of HMS Belle Isle (74), who commanded the operation from the 6pdr-armed ship-sloop HMS Plover of 18 guns. On that day the light winds prevented the ships of the line from moving to the attack, but at 10:00 on the 14th, the following ships, all of 74 guns, weighed anchor from off Dijkshoek and stood in:

HMS San Domingo, HMS Blake, HMS Repulse, HMS Victorious, the ex-Danish HMS Danmark, HMS Audacious and HMS Venerable.

Soon after approaching near enough to open fire, HMS San Domingo and then HMS Blake, which had attempted to pass inside of her, grounded on the Dog-sand. At this point, the other ships were signalled to haul off and anchor. The two ships got off after about three hours under fire and anchored with the rest having suffered casualties of two killed and eighteen wounded. The remaining ships of the line including HMS Repulse had nobody hurt. At 16:00, the garrison of Flushing ceased returning the British fire and at 14:00 on the 15th, the French commandant, General Mounet, offered to surrender.

A contemporary engraving of The Bombardment of Flushing:

Apart from the loss sustained by the ships of the line and the frigate squadron, the naval force suffered further casualties of 7 killed and 22 wounded aboard the bomb vessels and gunboats with 7 wounded in the naval brigade which served ashore under Captain Charles Richardson. The army, in the various operations on the island of Walcheren up to the surrender of Flushing, had 103 killed and 443 wounded. On the day of the surrender, HMS Imperieuse (18pdr, 38) exposed herself to the fire of the fort at Ter Neuze and returned fire with shrapnel shells from her carronades. One of these blew up the magazine of the battery and caused the deaths of 75 of the enemy. What losses the French sustained in Walcheren is unknown, but they were probably severe. On August 17th, the islands of Schouwen and Duijveland, northward of the East Scheldt, surrendered peacefully to Sir Richard Goodwin Keats and Lieutenant-General the Earl of Rosslyn.

From that point, the campaign collapsed. The Earl of Chatham, who moved his headquarters from Middelburg to Veere on the 21st, transferred them from there on the 23rd to Goes, on Zuid Beveland. He left 10,000 men in Walcheren to defend against the ever-increasing force of the enemy at Cadzand and he therefore had 29,000 men nominally available for the remaining objectives of the expedition, which were the taking of the strong forts at Lillo and Liefkenshoek and of the great fortress of Antwerp. At those places, and in Bergen-op-Zoom, there were discovered to be at least 35,000 French soldiers while from the 19th onwards, more and more British troops were falling ill with what was known as the 'Walcheren Fever', a form of Malaria. The Earl of Chatham was growing increasingly concerned by reports which reached him about the defences of Antwerp, which he had previously believed could be easily taken and of the seeming impossibility of destroying the docks and arsenal there without having first taken the citadel. He also learned that there was nothing to prevent the French ships of the line from moving with everything aboard, to Ruppelmonde, five miles beyond Antwerp or without their guns and stores, to Dendermonde, some 15 miles further up the river Scheldt. Realising the likelyhood of failure, he held a council of war on the 26th. This council declared in favour of abandoning the whole enterprise rather than of running any risk of utter failure. To this end, Zuid Beveland was evacuated immediately, and Walcheren in December of 1809, after the basin, arsenal, and sea-defences at Flushing had been blown up. Two small vessels on the stocks there were also destroyed but a 74-gun ship which was in frames was taken to pieces and the timbers later reassembled at Woolwich Royal Dockyard and completed as HMS Chatham (74). The only complete vessel taken was a new frigate, the Fidele, which was taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Laurel (18pdr, 38).

The last of the British troops leave Walcheren:

History now judges the whole expedition as having been mismanaged, ill-planned and ill-timed. Of the huge army landed on the islands in the mouth of the River Scheldt, particularly Walcheren, over 4,000 died from the so-called Walcheren Fever while another 6,000 were left suffering the long-term effects of Malaria. Only about 160 British soldiers were actually killed in the fighting. The Earl of Chatham saw to it that Sir Richard Strachan carried the blame for the failure of this, the largest British amphibious operation of the war and the Rear-Admiral received no more active service appointments as a result. The Earl of Chatham also had no further active service appointments and only went on to serve in purely ceremonial positions. A poem mocking him for the lack of communication between his headquarters and the Royal Navy forces there to support him became popular:

"The Earl of Chatham, with his sword drawn,
Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan;
Sir Richard, longing to be at 'em,
Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham."

Despite being married, Sir John Pitt, the 2nd Earl of Chatham died without an heir on the 24th September 1835 and the Earldom of Chatham died with him. Sir Richard Strachan also died without an heir on 3rd February 1828 although he and his wife had three daughters. His Baronetcy became extinct upon his death.

On the 18th of October 1810, Captain Sir John Gore returned to command of HMS Revenge. Captain Paget remained ashore until September of 1811, when he was appointed to command the ex-French HMS Malta of 80 guns. Eventually promoted to Rear-Admiral on the 9th of April 1823, The Honourable Charles Paget was appointed as Commander-in-Chief on the Cork Station in March of 1828. Promoted to Vice-Admiral on the 10th of January 1837 and appointed as Commander-in-Chief in North America and the West Indies, he died of Yellow Fever on the 27th of January 1839 off Bermuda. He is buried in St Bartholomews Church in Rogate, West Sussex.

At the same time that the massive works were ongoing at Antwerp and Flushing, works on a similar scale were also being undertaken at Cherbourg, including the construction of a basin capable of holding up to forty ships of the line, with a further 20 able to ride at anchor in the roadstead outside the harbour. In addition, the roadstead was well protected by powerful shore batteries at Pelee, Fort Napoleon and Querqueville. For the British trying to keep French warships and privateers bottled up in the harbour, the strong tides, deep water and rocky bottom prevented ships from anchoring in sight of the port and weather prevented them from closing with the port under sail for fear of being driven onto a lee shore. For these reasons, Cherbourg was not regularly blockaded by the Royal Navy until the arrival there in the summer of 1809 of two French ships of the line. From then, Cherbourg was to be blockaded by a force of two ships of the line with one or two frigates or a frigate and a sloop-of-war. By the autumn of 1810, HMS Revenge was on blockade duty off Cherbourg, in company with the ex-French HMS Donegal and the 18pdr-armed 38-gun frigates HMS Diana and HMS Niobe and on 17th October, HMS Revenge captured the French privateer Le Vengeur of 16 guns, out of Dieppe.

In early November 1810, HMS Revenge and HMS Donegal were still assigned to the blockade of Cherbourg and were in company with the 18pdr-armed frigates HMS Diana and HMS Niobe (both of 38 guns) and the two French ships of the line, Le Courageux and Le Polonais (both of 74 guns) were both still trapped there by the blockade. In addition to the two ships of the line, there was also a brand-new 18pdr-armed 40-gun frigate, L'Iphigenie along with a 16-gun brig-corvette. In addition to those ships, the neighbouring port of Le Havre, which was also under blockade by HMS Revenge and the other ships contained a further pair of brand-new 18pdr-armed 40-gun frigates, L'Amazone and L'Eliza. The two British ships of the line lay offshore, while the frigates patrolled closer inshore. At 22:00 on the 12th November, L'Amazone and L'Eliza both sailed from Le Havre in a strong north-easterly wind and headed north-west. They were spotted by the patrolling frigates at 00:30 on the 13th, which immediately gave chase. At 04:00 pm the 13th, the twp British frigates came within range of the enemy and the four ships exchanged fire without effect. Shortly afterward, the two French frigates came to anchor in the Marcouf Passage, between the Iles St Marcouf, under the protection of the shore batteries there, while HMS Diana and HMS Niobe prowled out of range. At 15:00, the French frigates weighed anchor and headed for the Lahogue Road where they again anchored, once more under the protection of a powerful shore battery. In the morning of the 14th November, Captain Charles Grant of HMS Diana sent HMS Niobe in search of HMS Revenge and HMS Donegal. In the meantime, during the night, the Eliza had dragged her anchors in the strong wind and had been forced to lower her topmasts and throw some of her stores and provisions overboard to avoid being blown onto the rocks and lost. At 13:00, HMS Diana anchored and weighed anchor the following morning and stood inshore to attack L'Amazone, which weighed anchor and moved closer to the covering shore batteries. Captain Grant persisted with his attack, but was ultimately driven off by the fire from both French frigates and the guns of the shore batteries. Shortly afterward, HMS Revenge, HMS Donegal and HMS Niobe arrived on the scene and joined the attack, but by 13:00 all the British ships were forced to withdraw by the heavy enemy fire and the falling tide. In these attacks, HMS Revenge suffered seven men wounded, two of them mortally. Later that day, Captain Pulteley Malcolm of HMS Donegal attempted to attack the enemy vessels with Congreve Rockets, which had no effect. The following morning at daybreak, L'Amazone was seen to be aground while L'Eliza was seen to have a significant heel, not, according to French reports, due to any effect from the rockets. Later that day, both French frigates refloated themselves and L'Amazone made it into Le Havre. On the night of the 6th December, L'Eliza was bombarded by a bomb vessel which forced her to move further inshore, where she ran aground and became stuck fast. On the night of the 23rd December, L'Eliza was destroyed in a boat attack by men sent from HMS Diana.

HMS Revenge was to remain on blockade and convoy escort duty for the rest of the war and by 1813, was operating off the coast of Catalonia. At 20:30 on the 8th November 1813, Captain Gore sent the ships boats on a raiding mission into the harbour at Palamos. Their objective was a felucca privateer. At 23:00, Lieutenant William Richards and his men boarded the privateer and by 01:00 the following morning, the vessel was alongside HMS Revenge. They had succeeded in taking the felucca without casualties.

On the 4th of December 1813, Captain Gore was promoted to Rear-Admiral, but remained with HMS Revenge in command. On 11th April 1814, the Napoleonic War was ended by the Treaty of Fontainebleu and on the 17th August, the ship arrived at the Motherbank off the Isle of Wight for quarantine. After the Surgeon reported that the ship and her crew were healthy, she was released from quarantine the following day and moved up to Spithead. On the 24th August, the ship arrived in the Downs off Deal and departed for Chatham later the same day where she was to be paid off and fitted for the Ordinary.

Between 1818 and 1821, Sir John Gore was Commander-in-Chief at the Nore and on the 27th May 1825, he was promoted to Vice-Admiral. Between 1831 and 1834, he was Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies and he died at home in Datchet, Buckinghamshire on 21st August 1836 aged 64.

As part of being fitted for the Ordinary, the ship was stripped of her guns, sails, running rigging and her yards were taken down and stored below. All her stores were unloaded and her gunports and hatches were sealed shut. The ship came under the command of the Master Attendant at Chatham and was manned by a skeleton crew comprised of her Standing Officers, their servants and 26 Able Seamen. Once the work to prepare her for the Chatham Ordinary was complete, she was moored in the River Medway.

HMS Revenge remained in the Chatham Ordinary until 1st January 1820, when she was taken into the Royal Dockyard to undergo a Great Repair. By this time, ship design had moved on and HMS Revenge was selected for a major refit to update her and bring her into line with current thinking in naval design. The main feature of her rebuild was the replacement of her open stern with a round one. The reason was that the classic open glazed stern was the main weak point of a ship in action. When a ship cleared for action, she was open from bow to stern and if an enemy vessel managed to cross the stern, the consequences were usually catastrophic and very bloody. With the round stern, the frames and hull planking were continued around the stern and didn't present an enemy with a vulnerable target. It also helped to protect the ship from being swamped after being struck by a heavy sea from behind and foundering. The round stern became a feature of British warships until the introduction of first, iron and then steel hulls much later in the 19th century. Here's a picture of HMS Unicorn, a Modified Leda Class frigate, built at Chatham with a round stern.

On 20th March 1823, HMS Revenge recommissioned into the Channel Fleet under Captain Sir Charles Burrard, 2nd Baronet Burrard of Lyminge in the County of Hampshire. HMS Revenge was his first appointment after being Posted or promoted to Captain. He was the son of General Sir Harry Burrard, the 1st Baronet and had entered the Royal Navy as Midhipman-in-Ordinary at the age of 12 in the 18pdr-armed 38-gun frigate HMS Diamond on the 13th July 1805. He had passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 1st May 1812 while serving as a Midshipman in HMS Victory and had first been appointed Master and Commander in the 32pdr carronade-armed 18-gun brig-sloop HMS Grasshopper on the 7th June 1814. As well as being a naval officer, he was also a gifted artist who painted many maritime scenes, as well as landscapes of his native New Forest. His appointment prior to HMS Revenge had been the 20-gun Post-ship HMS Hind. His rise up the officer ranks in the Royal Navy was helped by the influence of his father and of his older cousin, Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Burrard-Neale, who was Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean at the time that Captain Burrard was appointed to HMS Revenge. HMS Revenge was re-launched at Chatham, the work completed having cost 76,919, in August of 1823 and was immediately ordered to the Mediterranean to join the fleet commanded by his cousin.

At the time the ship sailed for the Mediterranean, the Greek War of Independence was being fought between Greek rebels seeking independence and the Ottoman Empire, seeking to regain control over Greece. When the Greeks first rose in Revolt against the Turks, the British, along with the other great powers (Russia, Austria, Prussia and France), initially sought to maintain the status quo, but news reaching Europe of Ottoman atrocities against the Greeks caused the Russians to contiue to break ranks, torn by the need to uphold the status quo versus the need to protect fellow Orthodox Christians being massacred by the Turks. The Government eventually sent the Duke of Wellington to St. Peterburg to negotiate a unified way forward. The negotiations between the Duke of Wellington and Tsar Nicholas I resulted in the St. Petersburg Protocol, where Greece would become an independent self-governing region of the Ottoman Empire, whose security would be guaranteed by the Great Powers. This was incorporated into the Treaty of London in July 1827, which was accepted by the Greek rebels but rejected by the Turks. On the 20th October 1827, the combined Ottoman and Egyptian fleets were all but wiped out by an allied fleet comprised of British, Russian and French ships under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Codrington. Despite their comprehensive defeat, the Turks still did not accept the Treaty of London, but things were settled when Russia unilaterally declared war on the Ottoman Empire and Russian forces swept the Ottomans from Europe thus creating the map of Europe which was to stay largely intact until the outbreak of the First World War. Although HMS Revenge was in the Mediterranean, she spent her time patrolling and ensuring that the war did not affect British trade in the area.

HMS Revenge remained in the Mediterranean until December of 1830, when she returned to Plymouth and was surveyed. This survey found that despite the ship's age, she was in perfect condition and she recommissioned into the Channel Fleet in early 1831. By this time, Portugal was in a state of civil war and HMS Revenge was one of a number of British ships sent to Lisbon to protect British trade.

As a reward for his support of the Ottoman Empire in their war against the Greeks, Mohammed Ali Pasha, ruler of Egypt, demanded to be given control of Syria (which included the modern-day nation of Lebanon). He had been planning to take control of Syria as early as 1812. He maintained his demands despite the defeat by Allied forces in Greece. In October of 1831, using the Ottoman Governor of Acre's harbouring of fugitives from Egyptian conscription as a pretext, he sent troops to occupy Acre. The city fell after a six-month seige and by November of 1832, his forces were within striking distance of the imperial capital, Constantinople and had taken the cities of Homs, Aleppo, Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli and Damascus. In early 1833, in the light of a threat from Russia to intervene on the Ottoman side, the British and French coerced the Egyptians into signing a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, the Convention of Kutahyah, which gave Mohammed Ali Pasha what he wanted, while at the same time, remaining a nominal vassal of the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. The First Ottoman-Egyptian War ended in May of 1833. The war had threatened to destabilise the whole of the Levant (the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea) and the British and French were very concerned that further conflict would spread and interrupt vital trade in the region.

The Ottoman Empire was not going to let this apparent insult lie and six years later, in May of 1839, invaded Syria. On June 29th 1839, the invading Ottoman army was destroyed by the Egyptians in the Battle of Nezib leaving the Egyptians in control of the whole of Syria and the conquest of Constantinople and the whole of the Levant within the grasp of Mohammed Ali Pasha. Things were made worse on the 1st July by the death of Sultan Mahmud II who left the Empre to his sixteen-year-old son Abdulmecid. After the defeat at Nezib, the whole Ottoman fleet defected to the Egyptians, leaving the situation in the Levant precarious and the Ottoman Empire on the verge of total collapse. The British formed an alliance with the new Sultan to support the Ottoman Empire, along with Russia and Austria, while France and Spain supported the Egyptians, looking to increase their influence in North Africa and the Levant. The aim of the British and their allies was to force the Egyptians to withdraw fom Syria altogether and in June of 1840, Admiral Sir Robert Stopford, Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, was ordered to send ships to support the Ottomans in Syria. On the 6th of July 1840, HMS Revenge was ordered to leave Lisbon and sail to join the squadron under Commodore Sir Charles Napier with orders for Beirut. HMS Revenge passed the Straits of Gibraltar on the 22nd July and arrived at Malta on the 10th August. On the 31st August, HMS Revenge joined the fleet off Beirut and Napier declared a blockade of both Syria and Egypt. In September 1840, Napier's force was joined by the rest of the British Mediterranean Fleet and on September 11th, HMS Revenge along with the rest of the fleet launched a bombardment of Beirut and landed Turkish soldiers and British Marines to drive Egyptian forces out of the city. On September 26th, the fleet bombarded Sidon and landed troops to take the city from the Egyptians.

British and Austrian ships bombard Sidon, 26th September 1840:

Sidon was taken on the 28th September and on October 3rd, Beirut fell to the British and their allies. On the 26th September, in operations ashore in support of the troops, Mr William Price, Masters Mate and a Royal Marine of HMS Revenge were killed. The fleet was then ordered to proceed to the only port still held by the Egyptians, the city of Acre. The ship arrived off Acre on the 2nd November and at 14:00 the following day, the bombardment of the city began.

The bombardment of Acre:

The naval fire was devastating. The British had opened a gunnery school in the years since the end of the wars with the French and the art of gunnery had advanced to the point where it was incredibly accurate compared with that of the French Wars. Although the Egyptian gunners on the fortifications returned fire, their guns were quickly silenced and at 16:20, a British shell entered a magazine and exploded killing 1,100 Egyptians. That night, the ships ceased firing and a combined force of allied and Turkish troops occupied the city. During the Bombardment of Acre, the British ships fired some 48,000 rounds. HMS Revenge had casualties of one seaman and one Royal Marine drummer killed with three seamen and one Royal Marine wounded. After the taking of Acre, Mohammed Ali Pasha's army in Syria collapsed, threatening to plunge Egypt itself into chaos. Commodore napier was ordered to take his squadron including HMS Revenge to Alexandria and keep an eye on the situation. Napiers squadron arrived on 25th November and initiated a close blockade of the city.

The Second Ottoman Egyptian War was ended by the Convention of Alexandria, in which the Egyptians agreed to end the war, give up their claims to Syria and returned the Ottoman Fleet. In return, the allies agreed to guarantee the sovereignty of Egypt and evacuate the the remains of the Egyptian Army to Alexandria.

HMS Revenge remained in the Mediterranean until December 1841, when she returned to Lisbon. On the 24th January 1842, the ship was ordered to Sheerness, where she was to pay off. The ship arrived at Sheerness on the 25th February 1842 and paid off into the Ordinary.

In April of 1849, HMS Revenge was surveyed at Sheerness and in October, the ship was taken into the Royal Dockyard and was broken up. She was one of the last 74s.
"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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