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Author Topic: HMS Goliath (1781 - 1815)  (Read 451 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Goliath (1781 - 1815)
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2019, 18:22:00 »
Part One

HMS Goliath was a Common Type, 74-gun, Third rate ship of the line of the Arrogant Class built at the Deptford Royal Dockyard.

The Arrogant Class, as their name suggests, were copies of the design of HMS Arrogant, originally launched at Harwich in 1761 and designed by Sir Thomas Slade. They were essentially copies of Slade's earlier Bellona Class, the first of the Common Type, but are not included in that class because their bows were of a different shape. Internally though, they were identical to the Bellona Class, which is why I've used those deck plans and the inboard profile. HMS Goliath was one of ten ships built to the design of HMS Arrogant of which four were built in Kent shipyards. All bar one of those were built at Deptford, with HMS Vanguard, also built at the Royal Dockyard and HMS Zealous, built under contract by William Barnard. The odd one out was HMS Edgar, built at the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

HMS Goliath was ordered by the Navy Board on the 5th February 1777. At the time she was ordered, the British government was attempting to put down a large-scale, armed rebellion in their American colonies. The war was going badly for the British, the Americans had driven the British from their stronghold at Boston and they had been forced to withdraw to New York and Philadelphia, they had won victories over the British in two battles at Saratoga and an attempt to capture the port of Charleston had been repulsed by the Americans with the British suffering heavy casualties. These victories had persuaded the King of France to begin quietly supplying the rebels with arms and money.

The ship's first keel section was laid at Deptford just over a year after she was ordered, such was the workload at Deptford, on the 21st February 1778 and work progressed rapidly. Up until the 19th May, the ship was just a hull number. On that day, orders were received from the Admiralty that the new ship was to be named 'Goliath', the first Royal Navy ship to bear the name. Finally, on the 19th October 1781, the ship was launched with all due ceremony into the great River Thames and immediately began being fitted with guns, masts and rigging at the Deptford Royal Dockyard. On the 2nd January 1782, the ship was declared complete at Deptford having cost 38,583.11s.10d.

Arrogant Class Plans

Orlop Plan:

Lower Gundeck Plan:

Upper Gundeck Plan:

Quarterdeck and Forecastle Plan:

Inboard Profile and Plan:

Sheer Plan and Lines:

This unusual plan is of the stern decorations of HMS Goliath. The plan is unusual because it's rare for the plans of the stern decorations of ships to survive:

These photos are of a commercially available model of HMS Vanguard, another Arrogant Class ship, which served as flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson at the Battle of the Nile. Apart from her figurehead and stern decorations, HMS Goliath was identical. By coincidence, Nelson chose another Arrogant Class ship, HMS Elephant, to be his flagship at the later First Battle of Copenhagen.

Forecastle, waist including some of the boats on their booms and quartereck:

Port bow view, which illustrates the maze of rigging:

Close-up of the bow, showing the heads, or seamens toilets and the bulkead at the forward end of the upper gundeck:

The poop deck and part of the quarterdeck, showing the poop deck 18pdr carronades and the skylight for the captain's day cabin or office:

In October 1781, immediately after being launched, the ship was commissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain Sir Hyde Parker. While the ship was on the stocks at Deptford, the rebellion in America had escalated into an all-out global war between the superpowers of the day, Britain on one side with France, Spain and Holland on the other. The reason was that the French had openly intervened in the war, signing the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and recognising the United States of America as an independent, sovereign nation for the first time. In response, the British had declared war. In the early weeks of the war, the British Channel Fleet and the French Atlantic Fleet had fought the first full-scale fleet action of the war in the inconclusive First Battle of Ushant. Spain had signed their own Treaty with the Americans, the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1779, but their focus was on attempting to retake Gibraltar from the British. Britain and Holland had gone to war over the Dutch abusing their neutrality and shipping French-made arms to the Americans.

On completion, HMS Goliath was a ship of 1,604 tons, she was 168ft long along her upper gundeck and 138 ft along the keel. The ship was 46ft 9in wide across her beams, she drew 12ft 5in of water at her bows and 17ft 9in at the rudder. HMS Goliath was armed with 28 x 32pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 28 x 18pdr long guns on her upper gundeck, 14 x 9pdr long guns on her quarterdeck with four more on her forecastle. In addition to her main guns, she carried a dozen half-pounder swivel guns on her quarterdeck and forecastle handrails and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 600 officers, seamen, boys and marines.

As soon as the ship was declared complete and had taken on her crew and loaded the many tons of stores, Captain Parker was ordered to take her to join the Channel Fleet assembling in the great fleet anchorage at Spithead. The reason was that a big operation was on. The Spanish had by this time, joined in the war alongside the French, but their main aim was to retake Gibraltar, which had been under seige since 1779. The British were determined to hold onto the colony come what may and the seige had been relieved twice in the war already and was in dire need of a further relief. Admiral Richard, the Lord Howe, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet had been ordered to take a huge convoy to the Rock, break through the Franco-Spanish fleet blockading Gibraltar with pretty much the whole fleet. On arrival at Spithead, HMS Goliath was ordered to join first squadron of the Vanguard Division, commanded by Vice-Admiral Samuel Barrington, who flew his command flag in the 100-gun, first rate ship of the line HMS Britannia. Lord Howe commanded the fleet from his flagship, the first rate ship HMS Victory of 100 guns. In addition to HMS Goliath and HMS Britannia, the 1st squadron of the Vanguard Division also comprised the second rate ships of the line HMS Atlas (98), HMS Royal William (formerly a first rate ship of 100 guns, but cut down to a second rate ship of 84 guns and by far the oldest ship in the fleet having first been launched as far back as 1670), HMS Ganges (74) and HMS Ruby (64).

See here for the story of HMS Atlas:

The Channel Fleet set sail from Spithead on the 11th September 1782 and arrived off Gibraltar exactly a month later. At this point, the British had an amazing stroke of luck. A storm had scattered the enemy fleet on the 10th October and Howe was able to get the convoy into Gibraltar without opposition. The same storm also swept Howe's fleet eastwards, into the Mediterranean and Howe knew that he would have to get through the massive enemy fleet, of 49 ships of the line, fighting his way through them if necessary, in order to get the bulk of the Royal Navy's battlefleet home. With the safe delivery of the convoy, Lord Howe ordered the fleet to anchor, to await better weather, but on the 19th October, the enemy was sighted to the east of Gibraltar, so Howe ordered the fleet to weigh anchor and head west. Howe did not want to engage the superior Franco-Spanish force, which had the advantage of having more larger ships in that no less than seven of their ships mounted 100 or more guns. This included the gigantic Spanish ship Santissima Trinidad, mounting 140 guns on 4 gundecks; the largest and most powerful ship in the world at the time. Howe, on the other hand, only had two ships mounting 100 guns, HMS Victory and HMS Britannia. The British ships had the advantage of having had their lower hulls sheathed in copper to keep them clean and this gave them a huge advantage in speed.

Howe wanted to give the Spanish the impression he wanted to fight, so that they would shorten sail and prepare for battle and to this end, he ordered his fleet to reduce sail and to tighten the line of battle. Early in the morning 20th October, the Spanish Admiral, Louis de Cordova signalled a general chase, intending to fall on the British line of battle and annihilate them with weight of numbers and superior firepower. At about 13:00, the British further reduced sail, allowing the Spanish to close within about two miles and at 17:45, the Spanish vanguard opened fire, to which the British replied in kind. Howe then ordered his fleet to make all sail and use their advantage of superior speed and get away from the Spanish. By dawn the following day, the fleets were about 12 miles apart, with the British pulling away. The Spanish gave up their attempts at bringing Howe's fleet to action and resumed their blockade of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was saved and was able to hold out for the rest of the war. The Great Siege of Gibraltar, from 1779 to 1783 remains the longest seige ever endured by British forces. In what is now called the Battle of Cape Spartel, HMS Goliath suffered casualties of four killed and 16 wounded.

Howe's Relief of Gibraltar by Richard Paton:

In the meantime, back in March of 1782, the Tory government of Lord North which had been in power since before the war started, had fallen and had been replaced by a Whig-led coalition lead by the Marquess of Rockingham. The Whig party, which had been against the war in the first place, wanted it ended as soon as possible. The destruction of the French fleet at the Battle of the Saintes in the Caribbean in April of 1782 had ended French ambitions there and the British military disaster at Yorktown the previous September had rendered Britain's continued rule over the American colonies untenable. Additionally, British successes in India meant that French influence in the sub-continent had declined even further. From the point of view of all the governments involved, further fighting was futile and was an expensive waste of both lives and money. Therefore, in April of 1782, peace talks had opened between the combatant nations. France, already pretty much bankrupt when the war had started in 1778, was only too happy to negotiate and it was clear to the Spanish that their primary aim of retaking Gibraltar was not going to happen any time soon, so they were also happy to begin peace talks. The Royal Navy's ability to relieve any siege which might be laid against the Rock strengthened Britain's hand in the negotiations and they refused to consider anything offered by the Spanish in exchange for it. The negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Paris, signed in September of 1783, to be effective from the following March, but by the time the ink was dry on the Treaty, with the exception of the campaign in India, the war was all but over anyway.

In April 1783, HMS Goliath paid off at Portsmouth, but was recommissioned immediately as Guardship, once more under Captain Parker. In that role, the ship was kept rigged and armed but only carried about half her normal crew complement. The ship and her remaining crew were tasked with providing security for the ships of the Portsmouth Ordinary, or fleet reserve, as well as policing duties in and around the harbour at Portsmouth.

Captain Parker remained in command of HMS Goliath until she was paid off for repairs in 1786. These commenced at the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in June and were completed in September of 1787 at a cost of 8,254.10s.5d, when the ship recommissioned once again as Guardship at Portsmouth under Captain Archibald Dickson.

In the summer of 1789, France, bankrupt after the American War of Independence and the failure to achieve their strategic objective of regaining the territories lost in the Seven Years War, was torn apart by the Revolution. This had seen the Absolute Monarchy of King Louis XVI replaced by a Constitutional Monarchy where the power of the king limited by an elected assembly. The following year, Britain and Spain drifted towards war in a dispute over territory on the west coast of what is now Canada. In what is now called the Spanish Armaments Crisis, the British began to mobilise the fleet for war and as prt of this, HMS Goliath was fitted for sea and Captain Dickson was replaced in command by Captain Sir Andrew Snape Douglas.

After years of deteriorating relations with the new Revolutionary government in France, the French declared war on the UK on the 1st February 1793. Despite the outbreak of war, HMS Goliath had a quiet time until she paid off at Chatham to undergo a Middling Repair in January of 1795. A year later, the repairs were completed havng cost 21,495 and she recommissioned for the Mediterranean under Captain Sir Charles Henry Knowles, the Second Baronet Knowles of Lovell Hill in the County of Berkshire.

Captain Sir Charles Henry Knowles' previous command appointment had been in HMS Goliath's sister-ship HMS Edgar, which he had paid off at Chatham for repairs. In addition to bringing his own personal staff with him to his new command, his secretary, his Coxswain and servants, he also had the entire crew of HMS Edgar transferred to his new command.

See here for the story of HMS Edgar:

Captain Knowles was a highly intellectual officer and in 1777, had written a book "A Set of Signals for a Fleet on a Plan Entirely New". In this book, he proposed a new signalling system based on pre-arranged, numbered signals and that the traditional line of battle be abandoned in favour of breaking an action down into a melee once the fleets had engaged. Admiral Lord Howe had followed tactics very similar to those proposed by Captain Knowles in his tactical victory over the French in the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. Like many captains in this stage of the war, he had seen action and had distinguished himself during the American War of Independence, so by the time he had been appointed to command HMS Goliath, he was already an experienced combat commander and had benefitted during the previous war from having had the patronage of Vice Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, the victor in the decisive Battle of the Saintes.

Almost immediately on joining the fleet, a major personality clash arose between Captain Knowles and the Commander-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis.

On 21st December 1796, Sir John Jervis led the fleet into the mouth of the river Tagus, at Lisbon in British ally Portugal, in order to meet with a massive convoy due to leave for Brazil early in the new year. Jervis and his fleet were expected to escort the convoy out of harms way into the Atlantic Ocean. Once his force had entered the River Tagus, Jervis found himself contending with losses from amongst his fleet. On entering the mouth of the river, HMS Bombay Castle (74) ran aground on a sand bar while trying to avoid a collision with the storeship HMS Camel. The ship remained stuck fast on the sandbar until deteriorating weather led to the order being given to abandon her at 20:30 on 28th December. HMS St. Albans (64) was already in the Tagus under orders to escort an important convoy back to the UK when Jervis arrived, HMS Zealous (74) had been damaged after having struck a rock while leaving Tangier Bay and the ex-Spanish HMS Gibraltar (80) had been damaged having been driven on to the Pearl Rock at Gibraltar by a gale. Both these ships needed to be sent back to the UK for repairs. In addition, the large ex-French 74 gun ship HMS Courageux had been wrecked on the coast of Morocco with heavy loss of life by the same storm which had driven HMS Gibraltar onto the Pearl Rock. These losses had left Jervis with 11 ships of the line with which to contend with the combined might of the Spanish fleet, at the time in Cartagena and with the French Mediterranean Fleet in Toulon. Luckily for the Vice-Admiral, it appeared that neither of the enemy fleets had the slightest intention of going anywhere for the time being.

It was at this point that the personality clash between the Vice-Admiral and Captain Knowles reared it's head, because at the end of December 1976, Captain Knowles was ordered by Vice-Admiral Jervis to face a Court Martial, accused of disobeying a verbal order to send boats from his ship to assist HMS Bombay Castle. Thankfully for Captain Knowles, the lieutenant in HMS Victory allegedly tasked with passing Jervis' order to Captain Knowles denied knowledge of any such order and Captain Sir Robert Calder of the fleet flagship HMS Victory swore under oath that Vice-Admiral Jervis had given no such order. Whether or not Vice-Admiral Jervis had ordered the Court Martial out of spite in order to show Captain Knowles who the boss really was is open to question, but what is true is that Captain Knowles' honourable acquittal by the Court Martial Board meant that he had now made an enemy of his Commander-in-Chief. Despite this, Captain Knowles was popular with his crew who cheered him back aboard HMS Goliath when he returned to his ship after the Court Martial Board had reached it's verdict.

On 18th January 1797, the fleet weighed anchor and headed out to sea. On the way out of the Tagus however, another disaster occurred when the 98-gun second rate ship HMS St. George collided with and seriously damaged a Portugese frigate and then ran hard aground on the South Cachop Bank at 19:30, detaching her rudder and breaking off the tiller head. HMS St. George was eventually floated off the bank on 20th January, but not before her foremast and mizzen mast were cut away to lighten the ship. Jervis continued to sea with the convoy with his remaining ten ships of the line. On 6th February, on his way to the planned rendezvous off Cape St Vincent, Jervis met with the expected reinforcements; five ships of the line and a frigate had been detached from the Channel Fleet. Sir John Jervis' fleet now comprised the following ships of the line:

The 100 gun first rate ships HMS Victory (the fleet flagship) and HMS Britannia, the 98 gun second rate ships HMS Barfleur, HMS Barfleur's sister-ship HMS Prince George, with HMS Blenheim, the 90 gun second rate ship HMS Namur, the 74 gun third rate ships HMS Captain, HMS Goliath, HMS Excellent, HMS Orion, HMS Colossus, HMS Egmont and HMS Irresistible and the 64 gun third rate ship HMS Diadem.

See here for the stories of HMS Barfleur:

HMS Prince George:

In addition to the ships of the line, Jervis also had the  18pdr-armed, 38-gun, ex-French frigate HMS Minerve, the 18pdr- armed 32-gun frigate HMS Lively, the 12pdr-armed 32-gun frigates HMS Southampton and HMS Niger, the 20-gun ex-French post-ship HMS Bonne Citoyenne, the 18-gun brig-sloop HMS Raven and the 12-gun hired armed cutter Fox.

See here for the story of HMS Niger:

Of these ships, HMS Minerve had been left behind keeping an eye on the French at Corsica and was flying the command pennant of one of Jervis' squadron commanders, his protege and friend Commodore Horatio Nelson. What Jervis didn't know was that the French had overrun Corsica and that Nelson had had to evacuate the Court of the Viceroy of Corsica along with attached British officials. Nelson was headed in search of the fleet, which had suffered another disaster early in the morning of 12th February when HMS Colossus had collided with HMS Culodden. HMS Colossus, being the bigger of the two ships escaped with relatively minor damage, but HMS Culodden was seriously damaged.  Any other captain would have asked to go to a dockyard to have the damage repaired, but Captain Thomas Troubridge of HMS Culodden was determined to remain with the fleet and he and his crew surprised everyone when they reported ready for action come daybreak.

In the morning of 13th February, HMS Minerve, flying Nelson's command pennant, was sighted and Nelson was bringing his admiral some alarming news. The young Commodore reported in person to Jervis aboard HMS Victory that on the 11th, while leaving Gibraltar after having failed to find the fleet there, he had been chased by two Spanish ships of the line and a little later, while in the mouth of the Straits of Gibraltar, he had spotted the entire Spanish fleet at sea and heading towards the Atlantic Ocean, possibly on their way from Cartagena to Cadiz. On hearing the news, Jervis, unaware of the size of the Spanish force, ordered his fleet to alter course and intercept. What Jervis didn't know was that ranged against his fleet was an armada outnumbering his force almost two to one. What he also didn't know was that of the 27 Spanish ships of the line, there were no less than seven ships carrying over 100 guns, including the largest and most powerful warship in the world, the Santissima Trinidad carrying 140 guns on four gundecks.

Dawn on the 14th February 1797 broke hazy, with a fresh wind from the west-by-south. The British fleet was formed up in two divisions with Cape St. Vincent bearing east-by-north distant 8 leagues (or 24 miles). At 06:30, HMS Coludden signalled HMS Victory that she had five sail in sight, a sighting confirmed by HMS Lively and HMS Niger shortly afterward. On being informed of the sighting, Vice-Admiral Jervis ordered HMS Bonne Citoyenne to take a closer look. At 08:15, Jervis ordered the fleet to form in close order and a few minutes afterwards, to prepare for battle. Aboard the ships of the fleet, all hell broke loose as captains ordered their ships to be cleared for action. Screens separating commissioned and warrant officers cabins were taken down, all the sailors chests and personal possessions were cleared away. The screens forming the captains quarters were also taken down and everything was stowed in the hold, deep in the bowels of the ships. Sand was scattered on the decks to give the gunners feet a better grip, powder cartridges were filled by the gunner and his assistants in the magazine and taken to the waiting gun captains by the powder monkeys, while shot was stored close to hand. Chains were rigged to hold the great yards secure should the rigging supporting them be shot away and nets were rigged across the ship's upper decks to offer the gunners some protection against debris falling from above. Hammocks were stowed in the nettings along the top of the ship to provide protection against incoming small-arms fire. The ships contingents of Marines drew their sea service muskets from the small-arms lockers and formed up on the forecastle, the poop deck, the quarterdeck and along the gangways linking the forecastle with the quarterdeck, ready to repel boarders and to rain small-arms fire onto the enemy. Sharpshooters climbed the shrouds to the fighting tops in preparation to mark down officers and gunners on the upper decks of any enemy warships they might come alongside. Commanders like Captain Knowles drilled their crews in these actions day after day, to the point where they could achieve all this in ten minutes or less under all possible circumstances. By the time the process was completed, HMS Goliath had been transformed from the home and workplace of 600 or so men from every background in Georgian Great Britain into a floating fortress, a deadly, efficient fighting machine.

At 09:30, HMS Blenheim, HMS Prince George and HMS Culloden were ordered by signal from HMS Victory to give chase to the enemy and at 09:55, on receiving a signal from HMS Bonne Citoyenne that she had now sighted eight sail, HMS Irresistible, HMS Colossus and HMS Orion were ordered to join them. By 10:00, the leading six British ships were so far ahead of the rest of Jervis' fleet that they could be made out to be ships of the line by the Spanish frigates Santa Catalina and Precioso. Up to this point, the Spanish had assumed that the British ships they had sighted in the hazy distance were part of a convoy. The Spanish at this point were over-confident. An American merchantman who had sighted the British fleet before the reinforcements had arrived, had informed the Spanish Admiral Don Josef de Cordova that Jervis only had nine ships of the line available to him. With his 27 ships of the line, he expected any encounter with the British to end in an easy victory.

From about 09:00, 31 enemy ships, including 20 of the line, could be seen by the masthead lookouts aboard HMS Victory. At 10:15, HMS Bonne Citoyenne made a signal confirming 20 enemy ships of the line, but by 11:00, she had signalled that there were now 25 enemy ships of the line in sight from her position. At this stage, either by incompetence or as a result of their overconfidence, the Spanish fleet had separated into two groups and once this had happened, the Spanish learned to their horror that Jervis actually had 15 ships of the line, formed into two tight lines of battle and that both columns were headed directly for the gap between the two groups of Spanish ships. The six ships of the separated group were sailing as hard as they could to close the gap and to join the larger group. At 11:00, Jervis ordered his fleet to form a single line of battle, ahead and astern of HMS Victory as convenient. The British Vice-Admiral made it his priority to cut off the group of six enemy ships from the larger group of 19 and engage both groups together on either side as they sailed through the gap.

The British line of battle now comprised, from front to rear, HMS Culloden (74), HMS Blenheim (98), HMS Prince George (98), HMS Orion (74), HMS Colossus (74), HMS Irresistible (74), HMS Victory (100), HMS Egmont (74), HMS Goliath, HMS Barfleur (98), HMS Britannia (100), HMS Namur (90), HMS Captain (74), HMS Diadem (64) and HMS Excellent (74).

At 11:12, Jervis committed himself and ordered that the signal to engage the enemy be hoisted. At 11:28, HMS Victory ran up her huge battle ensign, measuring 40 feet by 20, followed by the rest of the British fleet and at 11:30, the signal "Admiral intends to pass through enemy lines" was hoisted aboard HMS Victory.

At 11:31, with the British vanguard passing that of the Spanish, the leading British ship, HMS Culloden, opened fire with her starboard guns, to which those Spanish ships which were able to, replied in kind. At this point, two of the Spanish three-deckers and one of their two-deckers sailed across the head of the British line and joined the smaller Spanish division. HMS Culloden and the ships following her opened fire on the Spanish as they sailed past them, the two fleets heading in opposite directions as they were.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent - 10:45:

At 12:08, HMS Culloden passed the rear-most of the Spanish ships and on sighting the signal from HMS Victory to tack in succession, went about and sailed after the Spanish. Six minutes later, HMS Blenheim reached the position and went about, followed ten minutes later by HMS Prince George. A little before this, the smaller Spanish division, to leeward of the British line, put about and followed HMS Prince George. The next British ship to tack, HMS Orion, was quickly followed by HMS Colossus, but as that ship went about and was in stays (that is, the actual moment when the bow of the ship passes through the eye of the wind, with the ship briefly out of control and stationary), she came under fire from the smaller Spanish leeward division, having her fore yard, fore topsail yard and fore topmast shot away. This obliged HMS Colossus to wear ship, that is to change tack by passing the stern through the eye of the wind rather than the bows, a manoeuvre which took more time and as she did so, exposed herself to being raked by the leading Spanish three-decker. Seeing this, HMS Orion backed her main topsail, stopping the ship dead in the water, allowing herself to support the now damaged HMS Colossus. Once HMS Colossus had completed the manoeuvre, HMS Orion sailed on to join the rest of the British ships, now in pursuit of the Spanish. HMS Colossus was followed by HMS Irresistible, HMS Victory, HMS Egmont and HMS Goliath, all of which were exposed to the fire from two Spanish three-deckers while they completed their manoeuvres, with all the British ships returning the enemy's fire as they did so. At this point, the Spanish commander attempted a bold move, the Principe de Asturias (112) was ordered to cut through the British line ahead of HMS Victory, but that old ship was far too fast to enable them to complete the move and the Spanish giant was forced to go about under the guns of the smaller but still incredibly powerful HMS Victory. Raked by HMS Victory and also receiving fire from HMS Egmont and HMS Goliath, the Principe de Asturias was in utter confusion.

HMS Victory rakes the Principe de Asturias:

At 12:51, Jervis ordered the signal "Take stations for mutual support and engage the enemy as coming up in succession" to be hoisted. Commodore Nelson, seeing that the Spanish were threatening to get away, decided to interpret his Vice-Admiral's orders very liberally. Obeying the last signal, but disregarding the earlier one to tack in succession, he ordered that his flagship HMS Captain tack immediately, rather than waiting until she came up on the position where HMS Culloden had tacked. HMS Captain ran across the bows of the sixth Spanish ship, the mighty Santissima Trinidad.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent - 13:00 - Nelson tacks early and gets stuck into the heart of the Spanish fleet:

At this point, the Spanish windward division, rather than being in a tight, disciplined line like the British, were in a disorganised huddle, three or four deep and this had the effect of presenting the British gunners with a nice, big target and they suffered for it. HMS Captain opened fire on the Santissima Trinidad while HMS Culloden opened fire from alongside the huddle. Coming under heavy fire from the two British seventy fours and with the larger British three-deckers HMS Blenheim and HMS Prince George coming up quickly in support, the Spanish Admiral abandoned his plan of running to leeward of the British. Instead he ordered his ships to bear up and present their broadsides to the advancing British, which gave the crew of HMS Captain time to replenish their shot before they came face to face with the Spanish giants. HMS Blenheim joined in the action at this point, letting the Spanish have a few of her mighty broadsides. At 14:00, HMS Prince George and HMS Orion added to the carnage being wrought on the now completely disorganised Spanish fleet, while at the same time, HMS Victory, HMS Barfleur, HMS Namur, HMS Egmont and HMS Goliath were coming up in support. At 14:36, HMS Excellent, commanded by Captain Cuthbert Collingwood, later to be Nelson's second-in command at the Battle of Trafalgar, arrived alongside the disabled Spanish ship Salvador del Mundo (112) before moving on to the San Ysidro and battering that ship into surrender. Salvador del Mundo was then attacked by HMS Diadem and HMS Irresistible and continued fighting the two British ships until she saw HMS Victory, closely followed by HMS Barfleur about to cross her stern, which convinced her captain to surrender before his ship was reduced to a bloody and shattered ruin. HMS Excellent then moved on to the San Nicholas, already damaged after a fight against HMS Captain. Passing within ten feet of the Spanish ship's starboard side, HMS Excellent let them have it at virtually point blank range. In attempting to escape from HMS Excellent's withering broadsides, the San Nicholas collided with the San Josef, already crippled by a prolonged bombardment from HMS Captain, HMS Culloden, HMS Blenheim and HMS Prince George. HMS Captain had been left crippled by her fight against the San Nicholas so as soon as HMS Excellent was out of the way, Nelson ordered that the San Nicholas be boarded. After a brief fight in which Nelson personally led yelling and cheering British seamen onto the Spanish ship's deck, San Nicholas surrendered. Nelson then led the boarders onto the deck of the San Josef, a ship of 112 guns, which they also captured.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent, situation at 14:00:

HMS Goliath, damaged in her rigging, briefly withdrew from the fighting to make repairs, after which she took the Santissima Trinidad under her lee, slowing that ship and allowing HMS Blenheim, HMS Irresistible, HMS Orion and HMS Excellent to surround the Spanish giant and pound her into submission. The lee division of the Spanish fleet had by now recovered and headed towards the crippled Santissima Trinidad, driving off the British ships, allowing their now badly damaged flagship to make off towards safety. At 15:52, Jervis having seen this Spanish move, ordered his ships to be ready to protect the prizes taken thus far together with the disabled British ships. At 16:15, HMS Victory signalled the frigates to take the prizes in tow and at 16:39, for the fleet to form into a line astern of her. At 17:00, HMS Victory ordered the fleet to discontinue the action.

In the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the British fleet of 15 ships of the line had taken on a Spanish fleet of 27 ships and had comprehensively defeated them. HMS Goliath suffered casualties of 8 wounded during the battle, was much cut up in her sails and rigging with her main mast shot through. Across the rest of the fleet, British casualties came to 73 dead and 327 wounded. Spanish casualties were more severe, with 250 dead, 550 wounded and 3,000 men taken prisoner by the British. The Spanish had lost four ships of the line taken by the British, which included two enormous 112-gun three-deckers, the Salvador del Mundo and the San Josef, both of which would be taken into the Royal Navy and commissioned as First Rate ships under their Spanish names.

The day after the battle, the battered British ships anchored in Lagos Bay and began to make repairs. HMS Goliath was anchored in a position where she could cover the rest of the fleet, in case the enemy attempted to attack them in their anchorage. When he went aboard the flagship to present his report of the battle, Captain Knowles was told by Vice-Admiral Jervis that his ship was vulnerable where she was. Knowles replied that the Spanish were hardly likely to attack given the state of their fleet after the battle. After presenting his report, the captain went aboard HMS Britannia to dine with  Vice-Admiral Sir William Waldegrave, one of his friends. While he was dining, Vice-Admiral Jervis sent HMS Victory's Sailing Master to move HMS Goliath in a deliberate insult to Captain Knowles. In his report to the Admiralty, Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis wrote that Captain Knowles was "an imbecile, totally incompetent; the Goliath no use whatever under his command". Captain Knowles was ordered to swap ships with Captain Thomas Foley of HMS Britannia. Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis had made it perfectly clear that his career in the Royal Navy was over, so in June of 1797, he resigned his command and returned to the UK to continue his academic work. For the victors, the rewards were very rich indeed. Despite his treatment of Captain Knowles, Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis was made Baron of Jervis of Meaford and Earl St. Vincent and Commodore Nelson was knighted. By coincidence, he was also about to be promoted to Rear-Admiral through seniority and received the promotion shortly after the battle. In addition, all of the British First Lieutenants were made Masters and Commanders, to be given their own commands as vessels became available. After his return to the UK, Sir Charles Knowles attended a service of thanksgiving for the victory at Cape St. Vincent, together with the later victory over the Dutch at the Battle of Camperdown. He spent the rest of his life in studies of issues affecting the Royal Navy and produced a new, improved signal book in 1798. On the 14th February 1799, he received an automatic promotion to Rear-Admiral, to Vice-Admiral on 24th April 1804 and Admiral on 31st July 1810. The Knowles Baronetcy of Lovell Hill still exists and the current Baronet Knowles, the 7th, is a leading architect.

After the battle, Jervis reported HMS Victory to be in a poor condition and the ship was sent back to Chatham so that she could be surveyed and her future decided. The ship was replaced as flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet by another Chatham-built first rate ship, HMS Ville de Paris of 110 guns.

See here for the story of HMS Ville de Paris:

On 31st March 1797, Jervis and the fleet, now numbering 21 ships of the line having been reinforced, left Lisbon bound for Cadiz to mount a close blockade. Between the 4th May and the 19th July, Jervis and the fleet including HMS Goliath cruised off Cadiz and on the 19th July, the fleet anchored directly in front of the port, a move that Jervis, now known as Lord St. Vincent, hoped would provoke the Spanish into coming out for another fight. On the 29th June, the British were aware that the Spanish were again preparing for sea and that in the port, there were 28 ships of the line ready and waiting. By this time, news had reached Lord St. Vincent of the outbreak of the Great Mutiny at Spithead. In order to try to provoke the Spanish into coming out and to take his men's minds off any thoughts of joining the Great Mutiny, the British admiral decided to launch a bombardment of the city. He delegated command of the operations the newly promoted and knighted Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. Anticipating just such an attack, the Spanish had fitted out a number of gunboats to guard the harbour entrance and had stationed a garrison of over 4,000 men and more than 70 guns on fortifications around the city. The first attempt, on 3rd July 1798 had ended in failure after the bomb-vessel HMS Thunder had damaged her 13.5in mortar and been forced to retire. This had prompted a spirited Spanish counter-attack in boats which was repelled by the British in an action led by Nelson personally, which had descended to hand-to-hand fighting in small boats. HMS Goliath was assigned to the covering force for this attack. Following two more failed attacks which had the opposite effect to that which was intended, driving the Spanish ships further into the harbour out of range, the Vice-Admiral called off the attacks and turned his attention elsewhere.

Although Cadiz faces the Atlantic Ocean, it was in the Mediterranean Fleet's area of operations and although the British maintained a firm control of the Atlantic Ocean, the same cannot be said of the situation in the Mediterranean itself, where the French gained overall control once Spain had changed allegiances. Following major British victories in the Atlantic theatre, the war at sea in the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel had settled down to being one of patrols and blockades. In the Mediterranean however, the enemy was certainly much more active, particularly after Lord St. Vincent had been forced to withdraw the Mediterranean Fleet from the Mediterranean Sea east of Gibraltar. The French government intended to exploit their control of the region and had appointed one of it's up and coming generals, Napoleon Bonaparte to command an operation where a vast armada of ships would cross the Mediterranean and land a 35,000 strong army on the shores of Egypt. After establishing a base in Egypt, Bonaparte would then command an overland operation to take control of the Eastern Mediterranean and march this huge army to India, where it would eventually join up with local forces opposed to growing British control of that vast empire and eject the British from it. After the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in late July of 1797 in which Rear-Admiral Nelson had been wounded to the point that his right arm needed to be amputated, he had been sent back to the UK to recover.

In the spring of 1798, intelligence had reached the UK that the French Toulon Fleet were making preparations for a large operation, although the precise details of it were still unknown. Nelson returned to the fleet on the 29th April 1798 and in the meantime, Lord St. Vincent had been ordered to dispatch the Rear-Admiral into the Mediterranean Sea with a squadron to find out what the French were up to. Nelson hoisted his command flag in HMS Goliath's sister-ship HMS Vanguard and departed the fleet off Cadiz on the 2nd May bound for Gibraltar, where he was to take under his command HMS Orion and HMS Alexander (74) together with the frigates HMS Emerald (18pdr, 38) and HMS Terpsichore (12pdr, 32) with HMS Bonne Citoyenne. On 17th May, Nelson received information that there were at Toulon no less than 19 ships of the line, a figure which included ex-Venetian ships, and that 15 of them were ready for sea. He also heard that General Napoleon Bonaparte was in command of a vast army, some 35,000 strong and was preparing to embark this army on over 200 transport ships, although the destination of this armada was as yet unknown. On the 19th May, the wind began to increase in strength, so the point where at 01:30 on the 21st, lookouts high in HMS Emerald's masts witnessed HMS Vanguard's main and mizzen topmasts collapsing and going over the side. Some time later, the entire foremast broke into three pieces and also went over the side of the ship. Keen to avoid the fate of the flagship, the two other 74 gun ships, the frigates and HMS Bonne Citoyenne lowered their yards and ran before the wind under bare poles, becoming separated from the squadron.

See here for the story of HMS Emerald:

Meanwhile, three weeks after Nelson had departed from the fleet off Cadiz, Lord St. Vincent was reinforced by the arrival of a squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Roger Curtis flying his command flag in HMS Prince of Wales (98). This allowed Lord St. Vincent to replace the inshore squadron with the new arrivals and send them to reinforce Nelson. Under the command of Captain Thomas Troubridge of HMS Culloden, the nine ships of the line made their way into the Mediterranean, departing from off Cadiz on the 24th May. On the way to meet with Nelson, Captain Troubridge's force was reinforced by HMS Audacious (74) and HMS Leander (50) so that when they eventually joined up with Nelson's force, the Rear-Admiral now had under his command HMS Vanguard (flagship, 74 guns), HMS Orion, HMS Culloden, HMS Bellerophon, HMS Minotaur, HMS Goliath, HMS Defence, HMS Alexander, HMS Zealous, HMS Majestic, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Theseus (all also of 74 guns) with HMS Leander (50), and the 6pdr-armed 18-gun ship-sloop HMS Mutine. The frigates previously attached to Nelson's force were searching unsuccessfully for him after they were separated in the storm and Lord St. Vincent was unable to spare him any more, so the ships of the line assisted by his only sloop-of-war were having to do all the work of looking for the French themselves. Once his force was complete, Nelson spent the next two months scouring the eastern Mediterranean, searching for the French fleet, passing them in the night on one occasion and missing them by a few hours on others. Nelson received intelligence that the French fleet was in Alexandria. He arrived at Alexandria on 28th June, but left after discovering the French weren't there. They arrived the following day, unseen by the British. After landing the troops, the French naval commander, Vice-Admiral Francois-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers had decided to anchor his fleet of warships further along the coast, in Aboukir Bay. This was because he felt that the harbour at Alexandria was too shallow for the larger ships in his fleet, including his flagship, the mighty L'Orient of 120 guns.

See here for the stories of HMS Majestic:

HMS Leander:

By this time, Nelson was searching the Egyptian coast for the French and 14:00 on 1st August 1798, lookouts on HMS Zealous spotted the French at anchor in Aboukir Bay and reported back to Nelson in HMS Vanguard. Brueys had anchored his fleet in what he thought was a strong defensive position, close to the shore and had prepared his ships to fight to seaward. He had made a mistake however in positioning his ships too far from shoals at the mouth of the Bay and had underestimated the skill and daring of the British and in particular, that of their commander. Ranged against Nelson's force was a French fleet, which on paper, was the superior force in terms of firepower as well as numbers. Brueys had under his command L'Orient (120), Franklin, Guillaume Tell and Tonnant (all of 80 guns and each carrying firepower equivalent to that of a British 98-gun Second Rate ship), Aquilon, Genereux, Conquerant, Hereux, Gurriere, Mercure, Spartiate, Peuple Souverain, Timoleon (all of 74 guns) with the frigates Diane and Justice (both of 40 guns), Artemise and Serieuse (both of 36 guns),  the brig-corvettes Alerte and Railleur and the bomb vessels Hercule and Salamine.

Nelson formulated a plan whereby half his fleet would pass through the gap between the shoals and the front of the French line and anchor inshore of them, using two anchor cables so they could adjust their arcs of fire, while the rest would pass the seaward side of the French line, catching them in a murderous crossfire. Nelson would have known that HMS Leander was too small and weak to take on a French ship of the line under these circumstances and he would also have been painfully aware of the immense firepower of the French flagship. Captain Thomas Thompson of HMS Leander was ordered to support the seventy-fours tasked with engaging L'Orient.

In the late afternoon on 1st August 1798, the British bore down on the French line. HMS Goliath led the inshore division into the attack, sailing between the leading French ship, the Guerrier and the shallows, followed by HMS Zealous, HMS Audacious, HMS Orion and HMS Theseus. Raking the Guerrier as she crossed her stern, she then turned and headed for the Guerrier's bows. Failing to drop her anchor in time, HMS Goliath missed her station and found herself abreast of the port-side quarter of the second ship in the French line, the Conquerant. The slaughter continued as the other ships of the inshore division sailed between the French line and the shore, catching the French in a vicious crossfire between themselves and the rest of Nelson's force. HMS Bellerophon missed her station and found herself under the guns of the giant French flagship. She was quicky reduced to a floating wreck by L'Orient's massive broadsides, but did severe damage to the bigger French ship in response. Brueys was severely wounded in the face and hands by splinters and debris from HMS Bellerophon's broadsides. HMS Majestic also missed her station and came under heavy fire from the Tonnant while almost colliding with Heureux. Unable to stop in time, HMS Majestic's bowsprit became entangled in Tonnant's rigging. The ship came under intense small-arms fire from the Tonnant and her commander, Captain George Blagdon Westcott was shot and killed. On the way in, the last ship in the British line, HMS Culloden ran aground and despite the efforts of her crew in their boats, HMS Mutine and HMS Leander, she remained stuck fast. Unable to get HMS Culloden refloated, Captain Thompson ordered that HMS Leander continue and get stuck in and the ship ended up between the French ships Peuple Souverain (74) and Franklin (80). With HMS Defence on one side, HMS Orion on the other and HMS Leander across her stern, it wasn't long before the Peuple Souverain was battered into surrender.

At about 20:20, Admiral Brueys was struck in the midriff by a cannon ball which virtually cut him in half and he died on the quarterdeck of L'Orient 15 minutes later. At 22:00, the massive French flagship exploded after having been seen by British ships to be on fire. The explosion was so huge that the concussion opened the seams of the nearest ships and burning wreckage started fires aboard HMS Alexander and HMS Swiftsure as well as the French ship Franklin. Although the fires were quickly brought under control, the effects of the explosion caused all the ships engaged in the battle to cease firing for ten minutes. By midnight, only the Tonnant remained in action. Her commander, Commodore Aristide Aubert Du Petit Thouars continued his fight against HMS Majestic and by 03:00, his ship was a dismasted wreck. Du Petit Thouars had lost both his legs and an arm, but remained in command, propped up on deck in a bucket of wheat. He had ordered that his colours be nailed to the stump of the mizzen mast to prevent them from being struck. At sunrise, about 04:00, the fighting between Tonnant and HMS Majestic resumed. By this time, HMS Alexander had drifted nearby, as had the French ships of the line Guillaume Tell (80), Genereux (74) and Timoleon (74). In the meantime, Du Petit Thouars had died of his wounds. Briefly outnumbered, the battered British ships were soon joined by HMS Goliath and HMS Theseus and between them, they forced the Tonnant to surrender. After this, the remaining French ships which were able to escape did so.

The Battle of the Nile, otherwise known as the Battle of Aboukir Bay was a stunning British victory. On the morning of 2nd August, Nelson wrote "Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene" and Able Seaman John Nicholl of HMS Goliath wrote in his journal "I went on deck to view the state of the fleets, and an awful sight it was. The whole Bay was covered with dead bodies, mangled, wounded and scorched, not a bit of clothes on them except their trousers."

The tracks of the ships during the Battle of the Nile:

The Battle of the Nile, the approach to the French line by Thomas Whitcombe:

By the time the fighting ended, just after dawn on the following day, eight French ships had surrendered, one had been destroyed, one was hard aground and two had escaped, with the frigates and other smaller vessels. HMS Goliath had had her main topmast shot away, with damage to her other masts and had suffered casualties of Master's Mate Mr William Davies, Mr Midshipman Andrew Brown, 12 seamen and 7 Marines killed with Lieutenant William Wilkinson, Midshipmen Lawrence Graves and James Payne, her Schoolmaster, 28 seamen and 9 Marines wounded.

For his role in leading the fleet to such a complete victory, Nelson was richly rewarded. He was made Baron Nelson of the Nile and Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk and was awarded a pension of 2,000 per year for life by the Parliament in London, plus a further 1,000 per annum by the Irish Parliament. The Honourable East India Company awarded Nelson 20,000 (966,050 in 2018 money). The total of prize money for the captured French ships awarded to the crews of the British ships was 130,000 or 11,720,000 in 2018 money. All the First Lieutenants of the fleet including Mr George Jardine of HMS Goliath were made Masters and Commanders as and when ships became available for them. On the 20th November 1798, King George III addressed both Houses of Parliament as follows:

"The unexampled series of our naval triumphs has received fresh splendour from the memorable and decisive action, in which a detachment of my fleet, under the command of Rear-Admiral Lord Nelson, attacked, and almost totally destroyed a superior force of the enemy, strengthened by every advantage of situation. By this great and brilliant victory, an enterprise, of which the injustice, perfidy, and extravagance had fixed the attention of the world, and which was peculiarly directed against some of the most valuable interests of the British empire, has, in the first instance, been turned to the confusion of its authors and the blow thus given to the power and influence of France, has afforded an opening, which, if improved by suitable exertions on the part of other powers, may lead to the general deliverance of Europe."

On the 14th August 1798, the captured French ships Tonnant, which kept her French name, Franklin, which was renamed HMS Canopus, Peuple Souverain, renamed HMS Guerriere, Aquilon, renamed HMS Aboukir, Spartiate, which kept her French name and Conquerant, which also kept her French name, all departed from Aboukir Bay bound for Gibraltar, escorted by HMS Orion, HMS Bellerophon, HMS Defence, HMS Minotaur, HMS Audacious, HMS Theseus and HMS Majestic. The other three captured French ships were beyond repair and were burned. On the 19th, Nelson left the Bay in HMS Vanguard accompanied by HMS Culloden and HMS Alexander bound for Naples, leaving Captain Samuel Hood in HMS Zealous in command of the remaining ships, HMS Goliath and HMS Swiftsure, HMS Emerald (which had finally found Nelson's force on the day after the battle), HMS Seahorse (18pdr, 38 - which had arrived on the 17th), HMS Alcmene (18pdr, 32) and HMS Bonne Citoyenne with orders to continue patrolling off Alexandria. This was in order to prevent any French attempts at resupplying or evacuating their now-stranded army.

At 01:00 on the 25th August, Captain Foley sent the ship's boats on a raid commanded by Lieutenant William Debusk to capture a French ketch-rigged gunboat moored under the guns of the castle at Aboukir. The British boats were soon alongside and after a fight lasting about 15 minutes, the French surrendered. The French vessel was the Torride, armed with 3 x 18pdr long guns and 4 swivel guns with a crew of 70 men.

HMS Goliath was to spend the rest of 1798 and most of 1799 off Alexandria. On the 9th November 1799, HMS Goliath entered quarantine at the Motherbank, off Ryde, Isle of Wight and having cleared quarantine on 30th, entered Portsmouth Harbour to be paid off. On 6th December 1799, HMS Goliath's crew was paid off and transferred to the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's Vessels at Portsmouth, HMS Royal William and the ship entered the Portsmouth Ordinary.

HMS Goliath was to remain in the Portsmouth Ordinary, manned by a skeleton crew with her yards, sails, most of her rigging and guns removed for the next two years. On the 19th January 1801, the Comptroller of the Navy Board, Sir Andrew Snape Hammond, with the Co-Surveyor of the Navy Sir William Rule arrived at Portsmouth and in company with the Resident Commissioner of the Dockyard, Sir Charles Saxton, surveyed all of the ships of the Portsmouth Ordinary. HMS Goliath was one of six ships, the others being HMS Brunswick, HMS Vengeance, HMS Vanguard, HMS Bellerophon and HMS Hannibal which were ordered to be repaired and made ready for sea in no more than six weeks. In June of 1801, HMS Goliath recommissioned for the Channel Fleet under Captain William Essington. On the 10th August, the ship departed Spithead, bound for Plymouth where she arrived on the 12th. In late October 1801, the ship left the fleet anchorage at Cawsand Bay, this time bound for Jamaica, where she arrived on the 30th November.

In March of 1802, the French Revolutionary War was ended by the Treaty of Amiens, but despite the end of the war, HMS Goliath remained at Jamaica Station, where the commander-in-chief was Rear-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth, who flew his command flag in HMS Leviathan (74)  .

See here for the story of HMS Leviathan:

On the 25th May 1802, Captain Essington was appointed to command the ex-French HMS Sans Pareil (80) and was replaced in HMS Goliath by Captain Charles Brisbane. The ship settled down to the peacetime routine of a ship of the line on a foreign station. Boredom was bound to lead to trouble and when it did break out, it concerned the ship's officers of Marines. On the 13th April 1803, a Court Martial was convened aboard HMS Ganges (74), anchored at Port Royal Jamaica in order to hear a charge of Ungentlemanly Conduct laid by Captain Oliver Fitzgerald RM of HMS Goliath against Lieutenant Charles Clark Dobson RM of the same ship. The Court Martial Board considered that the charges were proved, but in light of his previous good conduct and the fact that he had been wounded in the service, Lieutenant Dobson was sentenced to be dismissed from HMS Goliath. The following day, the same Court Martial Board assembled again on HMS Ganges, this time to hear charges against Captain Fitzgerald, laid by Lieutenant Bartholomew Kent RM, also of HMS Goliath. Lieutenant Kent had accused Captain Fitzgerald of: 1- sending him a Challenge, 2- treating him with contempt and disrespect as his commanding officer and 3- defrauding the Wardroom Mess of 12.12s.6d, which he had in his charge as their caterer. The Court Martial Board found that the first and second charges were proved in part and that the third charge was not proved. Captain Fitzgerald was ordered to be dismissed from HMS Goliath and prevented from ever serving on full pay in the Royal Marines again.

On the 23rd April, Vice-Admiral Duckworth wrote to the captains of the ships under his command:

Port Royal Harbour
April 23rd 1803

It is with the most serious concern I observe, in a journal of the minutes of the recent court martial on Lieutenant Dobson and Captain Fitzgerald of the Royal Marines, both serving on board the Goliath that there had been, in the conduct of the officers of that ship, an entire dereliction of the established regulation of his Majesty's service, to the subordination of discipline and order, in which Lieutenant Kent appears to have taken a very active part. I therefore feel called upon to express in this very public manner, my high disapprobation of the irregular conduct of Lieutenant Kent and the officers; and to make it known that for the good of the kings service, that I look to the first lieutenant of all the ships under my command for the support of officer-like behaviour and good order within the wardrooms and should any deviation therefrom arise, which he shall neglect to make his captain or commanding officer acquainted with, I shall call upon him to answer for his neglect at a Court Martial.


J T Duckworth

Once the Peace of Amiens broke down in May of 1803 and the Napoleonic War got underway, it didn't take the old seventy-four to get into the action. On the 28th June 1803, HMS Goliath was one of three seventy-fours escorting a 50-strong convoy past French-held San Domingo. In the early morning, two sail were sighted, one was identified as being the French 24pdr-armed, 44-gun heavy frigate Poursuivante, the other being the 18-gun ship-corvette Mignonne. Captain Henry Bayntun of HMS Cumberland (74) commanding the British ships signalled HMS Goliath to go after the corvette and the ex-French HMS Hercule to go after the frigate. The French corvette headed inshore, but quickly became becalmed in the lee of the shore. HMS Goliath came up and after a few token shots were fired, the corvette surrendered to HMS Goliath. For HMS Hercule however, it was a different story. The French force had not yet been informed of the outbreak of war and were unprepared for the British attack. Most of the corvette's guns and men had been left behind and the the frigate wasn't carring enough men to be able to operate the ship and fight the guns at the same time. Nevertheless, the Poursuivante outmanoeuvred HMS Hercule, out-fought the British seventy-four and in a rare example of a frigate (albeit a large and very powerfully-armed frigate) getting the better of a ship of the line in a straight fight, managed to escape.

The Mignonne was taken into the Royal Navy under her French name, but shortly afterward, ran aground in Port Royal and was condemned.
"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 Goliath (1781 - 1815)
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 20:57:03 »
Part Two

On the 21st August 1803, HMS Goliath arrived in the Downs, off Deal, with the convoy from the West Indies and four days later, departed the Downs bound for Portsmouth, arriving at Spithead the following day. The ship was destined to stay in the English Channel for the time being, operating out of Plymouth engaged in the blockade of Rochefort and Lorient. On the 27th November 1804, as the ship and the rest of the fleet were departing Torbay, HMS Venerable (74) was wrecked after heaving-to to rescue a man who had gone overboard and while trying to rescue her men, was blown onto a reef and her bottom was stoved in. Boats from HMS Goliath, the ex-French HMS Impetieux and the hired armed cutter Frisk rescued all bar eight of HMS Venerable's crew.

On the 14th August 1805, the 24-gun post-ship HMS Camilla sighted and pursued the French 6pdr-armed 16-gun brig-corvette Faune some 600 miles west of Rochefort. At daybreak on the 15th, HMS Goliath, by now under the command of Captain Robert Barton, joined the chase and at 08:00, the Faune surrendered to HMS Goliath. The Faune was found to be carrying 22 men formerly of HMS Blanche (18pdr, 36), which had been taken almost a month before.

See here for the story of HMS Blanche:

After handing the prize over to HMS Camilla to be escorted back to the UK, HMS Goliath headed south and later that day, was joined by the 64-gun third rate ship of the line HMS Raisonnable. A little later on, the two British ships sighted the French frigate Topaze (18pdr, 40), the large ship-corvette Departement des Landes (8pdr, 20) and a smaller vessel, the ship-corvette Torche (8pdr, 18). Giving chase, HMS Goliath captured the Torche at 20:00 and found a further 52 of HMS Blanche's men. HMS Raisonnable gave chase to the Topaze, but was outsailed by the French frigate which escaped into Lisbon in British ally Portugal. The British Consul in Lisbon arranged the release of those members of HMS Blanche's crew being held on the Topaze and the French frigate was eventually allowed on her way. The Departement des Landes made a clean getaway.

In January of 1807, HMS Goliath was taken into the Royal Dockyard and refitted. This refit saw her armament substantially altered. At the time, the Royal Navy was desperately short of men and many ideas were tried to reduce the numbers of men needed to man the ships. One of these ideas was a new type of gun carriage, invented by John Gover of Rotherhithe and first fitted to HMS Kent (74) in 1798.  With the Gover Gun Carriage, the gun barrel is mounted on a trainable slide rather than the traditional gun carriage as shown in the patent certificate below:

When the ship recommissioned under Captain Peter Puget in February of 1807, she was armed with 28 24pdr long guns on the lower gundeck, 28 24pdr long guns on Gover Carriages on the upper gundeck, 2 24pdr long guns on Gover Carriages and 10 24pdr carronades on the quarterdeck with 2 24pdr long guns on Gover Carriages and 4 24pdr carronades on the forecastle. Although her overall broadside weight was exactly the same as before at 888lbs, she required far fewer men to operate these guns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bombardment of Copenhagen:

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

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

In 1807, the French concluded the Treaty of Tilset with the former British ally Russia. Tsar Alexander I of Russia did not announce the treaty until October 31st and the news did not reach London until 3rd December. on 18th December, the British made a counter-declaration which ordered reprisals against all Russian ships and goods. Because of the time of year, there was little of any real use which could be done. because all of the Russian ports on the Baltic Sea were blocked by ice.

In the middle of May 1808, HMS Goliath had been ordered to the Baltic to join a fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, flying his command flag in HMS Victory. In addition to the British ships of the line which included HMS Goliath, Saumarez was also overall commander of operations involving the Swedish Navy with a further ten ships of the line. Saumarez had a considerable force under his command. Besides his flagship, the 104 gun First Rate ship of the line HMS Victory and HMS Goliath, there was also HMS Superb, the ex-French HMS Implacable, HMS Brunswick, HMS Mars, HMS Orion, HMS Centaur, HMS Vanguard (all of 74 guns), HMS Africa and HMS Dictator (both of 64 guns), the frigates HMS Euryalus (18pdr 36 guns), HMS Africaine, HMS Salsette (18pdr 36 guns), HMS Tribune (18pdr 36 guns) and HMS Tartar (18pdr 32 guns), plus sloops-of-war and gun brigs. The reason for this is that Sweden, a British ally, had gone to war against both Denmark and Russia. After the Second Battle of Copenhagen, the Danes didn't have a navy as such, but the Russians certainly did. The Russian Baltic Sea Fleet was far more powerful than Sweden's small navy and comprised some twenty ships of the line including three or four First Rate ships with almost all of the rest being ships of 74 guns. In addition to this there were over a dozen frigates and corvettes and some of the frigates were heavy frigates mounting 50 guns. The Swedish navy at the time comprised about a dozen ships of the line and seven or so frigates, but of those, only about half were in any condition to go to war. The reason was that the Swedes had not yet implemented similar healthcare provisions to those of the British and half the seamen in their navy were sick with scurvy with men dying from it daily.

During the previous winter, the Russians had occupied Finland, although their Baltic Sea Fleet was based in Kronshtadt, the main seaport serving the city of St. Petersburg. In early August of 1808, a Russian squadron of nine ships of the line and three heavy frigates moved from Kronshtadt to the port of Hanko Bay in Russian-occupied Finland, chasing off HMS Goliath in the process. The Russian ships in this squadron were the First Rate ships Blagodath of 120 guns and Gabriel of 118 guns in addition to the Amgatten, Boreas, Eagle, Michael, North Star, Selowod and St. Anna (all of 74 guns) with the heavy frigates Argus, Hero and Rapid, each of 50 guns. At the time, a Swedish squadron was anchored in the nearby Oro Roads. This squadron comprised the Gustav IV - Adolph of 78 guns, Uladislaffe of 76 guns, Adolph-Frederic, the Aran, the Dristigheten, Faderneslandet, Gustav III and Manligheten (all of 74 guns) Forsigtigheten and Tapperheten of 66 guns with the frigates Euridice of 46 guns, Chapman of 44 guns, Camilla and Bellona of 42 guns and Janamas of 34 guns.

On the 25th August, the Russians tried to force the Anglo-Swedish force out of the Oro Road, but were met and defeated by the Anglo-Swedish fleet led by Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, flying his command flag in HMS Centaur, losing one of their ships of the line, the Sewolod (74) in the process. On the 30th August, Rear-Admiral Hood's force was joined by the main body of the fleet including HMS Goliath and they blockaded the Russians in Rogerswick until October, when the coming of winter obliged everyone to retire, the Anglo-Swedish force to Carlskrona and the Russians to Kronshtadt.

On 18th June 1812, tensions which had been simmering for a few years with the United States came to a head with an American declaration of war. The US Navy, which had been founded at the end of the 18th century possessed a small number of extremely large frigates which had been designed to be able to overwhelm any other frigate in the world. The American ships had been designed with full length spar decks as their uppermost deck, instead of the traditional forecastle and quarterdeck arrangement. This enabled them to carry a large number of 42 pdr carronades on their spar deck in addition to the 24pdr long guns carried on their gundeck. This had enable them to score a number of notable victories against British frigates, most notably in the destruction of HMS Guerriere by the USS Constitution. These had severely dented the Royal Navy's reputation for invincibility at sea and the Royal Navy needed to find an answer to the American Frigates and fast. The answer was found in the form of the Spar-Decked Razee Frigate. A Razee Frigate was a kind of Heavy Frigate created by cutting down a ship of the line. The most famous example of a Razee Frigate was HMS Indefatigable, originally built as a 64 gun ship of the line but cut down into a 24pdr-armed Heavy Frigate. Three older 74-gun ships were chosen to be converted, HMS Goliath, HMS Majestic and HMS Saturn.

HMS Goliath was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth at the end of 1812 and was converted to a Spar-Decked Razee Frigate. The work involved the complete removal of her poop deck, and quarterdeck and forecastle bulwarks, together with her quarterdeck and forecastle guns. The former upper gundeck then became the spar deck. Her main armament, the 28 x 32 pdr long guns originally fitted on her lower gundeck were restored, but her upper gundeck armament of 28 x 24pdr long guns on Gover Carriages was removed and replaced with 28 x 42pdr carronades. Two 12 pdr long guns were fitted in her bow and the ship emerged from the conversion as a 58 gun Fourth Rate Razee Frigate. The reduced weight of the ship had a positive effect on her speed and agility while the heavier guns now mounted on her upper deck gave her a ferocious close-range broadside. She was now more than a match for the famous American frigates, but was still able to take on a ship of the line. In actual fact, in her new configuration, she threw a slightly heavier broadside than she did before. In addition, the work also meant that she now required a smaller crew - only 495 men.

In July 1813, HMS Goliath recommissioned under Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland. She spent the rest of the Napoleonic War escorting convoys across the Atlantic until she was paid off at Chatham on the 3rd October 1814. The Napoleonic War was ended by the Treaty of Fontainebleu on 11th April 1814. The war against the Americans dragged on until February 18th 1815. With the war over, HMS Goliath was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Chatham in June of 1815 and was broken up.
"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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