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domestic repose until the recommencement of hostilities in 1803. Feeling himself still unequal to more active service, he accepted the command of the Padstow district of seafencibles. While in this situation, he had the satisfaction of rescuing Mr. Robert Purkis, master's mate of the Alcmene, and the crew of a prize under his charge, from a watery grave. Our officer's exertions were next called forth, in the summer of 1810, as commodore of the flotilla at Gibraltar, where his seasonable union of kindness and discipline alleviated the hardships of a harassing service; and a handsome present of plate from the British merchants, testified the regard he was held in by the civil community. He was doomed, however, to private mortification; his spirits were wounded by the dissolute conduct, and consequent death, of a near connection, with whom he had taken considerable trouble, and for whom he had just procured a lieutenant's
In August, 1812, the Commodore was appointed to a colonelcy in the Royal Marines; and shortly afterwards was nominated a Commissioner of naval revision. But, having obtained the rank of Rear-Admiral in January, 1814, he was selected to command the squadron destined to accelerate the advance of the victorious Wellington along the shores of Biscay, the "sacred territory of France." Marshal Soult's line of defence before Bayonne being already broken up, it became desirable to construct a bridge of boats across the Adour. But the great obstacle was the bar at the mouth of the river; both zeal and skill were required to encounter it, and these being most intrepidly exerted, the daring attempt was successful, notwithstanding the loss of lives necessarily sustained. It should be mentioned that the bar is about a mile broad, with only two feet on it at low water, and fifteen at flood; it is moreover subject to such frequent and sudden changes, both from winds and from freshes, that no leading marks are available. The currents in the last three miles of its course are rendered almost irresistible, by a stout wall, confining the river on either bank.
A flotilla of seventy sail was prepared at Porto de Socca, sixteen miles from the mouth of the Adour, by the indefatigable exertions of the Admiral, and placed under the command of Captain O'Reilly. This officer, with the assistance of a pilot and some flats, vainly endeavoured to reconnoitre the bar. But Lieutenant Debenham, having thought he perceived a passage from the Porcupine's mast-head, dashed on in a six-oared gig, under a lug foresail and mizen. The roaring of the tremendous breakers was truly awful, but by dexterous steerage and arduous pulling, when the waves were setting up the beach, they safely ran her high and dry. Captain O'Reilly instantly followed, but his boat upsetting, five of his men perished. Lieutenant Debenham immediately constructed a large raft; which, together with his gig, proved extremely serviceable in carrying our troops across. Meanwhile the Admiral, hoisting his flag in the Gleaner Ketch, directed the advance of the flotilla from Porto de Socca up to the breakers, where, by his personal example, he encouraged all to exert themselves to the utmost: whilst, to facilitate the arduous service, he sent a Spanish pilot on shore, to make signals from within the breakers, since, from without, no passage could possibly be descried. It was nearly high water and the wind fair; both officers and soldiers gathered on the heights around, anxious for the fate of their coadjutors, and the passage of each vessel was eagerly watched, from the moment it was immersed amongst the foaming breakers, until it had fairly threaded the tremendous ordeal. Some few unfortunately broached to, and instantly sunk; but, on the whole, the attempt fully succeeded, and our Admiral successively received the warmest thanks from Sir John Hope, the Marquis of Wellington, and Lord Keith; the first of whom even said, that when he "saw the flotilla approach the wall of heavy surf," he regretted having requested its aid.
Twenty-five chasse-marées were now securely moored, and firmly connected together by six lines of large cables, on which a platform was transversely lashed: and the undertak
ing was pushed with such celerity, that, by the next morning, our army obtained an easy passage. On the 27th, Bayonne was closely invested, and Soult being completely routed by the main body near Orthes, left the opulent city of Bourdeaux unprotected; upon which Sir W. Beresford advanced, and took possession of it. The Marquis now expressed a wish that the Admiral should relieve the advance of the army, by taking the naval force into the Gironde; and despite of most unfavourable weather, the movement was accomplished on the 27th of March. On this occasion, our observant officer himself piloted his squadron, consisting of the Egmont, 74, bearing his flag, two frigates, and six smaller vessels, up the river. No line-of-battle ship, with her guns in, had ever attempted this difficult navigation before; but with the Petit Neptune in his hand, he boldly ventured. Having ever paid the strictest attention to hydrographic details, he had noted the general merits of that book, and was now determined to trust in it. On approaching the Coubre point, he became a little anxious to know his exact position previous to standing up the river, when a shot, flying over the ship from the battery, gave the welcome announcement of his being inside the Mauvaise shoal. The air with which he took off his hat, and returned his acknowledgment for the favour, produced that cheerfulness on his decks which is invariably the cause of much energy on service.
In the mean time a French squadron, consisting of the Regulus, 74, a corvette, two brigs, and several other vessels, weighed and retreated before the Admiral, on whom the batteries played in succession: and we have been told that this chase, which continued as far as the Talmont shoal, both parties under every stitch of canvas, was one of the most beautiful of naval spectacles. The French, however, skulked into a narrow channel formed by the shoal, and protected by a strong fort, where they rode in momentary security. On this occasion, the enemy affected to question the fact of the Egmont's daring to dash up with all her guns on board;—“ If
you doubted that," said an English officer, "why did the Regulus, fully manned and armed, run away from her?”
On the 29th, a communication was opened with our troops; and finding that they had caused the garrison of Castillon to retire, the Admiral removed into the Porcupine, proceeded farther up the river, and was actively employed in receiving deputations, and destroying batteries. Anxious to retake Bourdeaux, Count de Caen (of Mauritius memory) had collected a formidable flotilla in the river Dordogne, near where it falls into the Gironde. This force being discovered, was instantly pursued; part of it was driven on shore, near the citadel of Blaye, and totally destroyed; while a brig, a schooner, six gun-boats, three chasse-marées, and a superb imperial state-barge, were triumphantly brought off.
Secret preparations were now made by Admiral Penrose for crossing the Talmont shoal to attack the French squadron, when at midnight, on the 6th of April, the Regulus, the corvette, and the brigs, suddenly burst into flames; thus testifying the despair of the enemy. On this, the Admiral completed the destruction of the forts at the mouth, and along the right bank of the river; and then hoisting his flag on board the Podargus, anchored off le Chapean Rouge, the principal street of the city of Bourdeaux. There he had the honour of receiving a visit from the Duke d'Angoulême, with the British colours proudly waving, nearly a hundred miles from the sea.
On the successful termination of this important enterprise, the Admiral returned to Passages, to superintend the embarkation of the army, stores, and ammunition destined for America; after which he came to England in the Porcupine, and struck his flag on the 12th of September, 1814. It was, however, rehoisted before the conclusion of that month, on board the Queen, 74, Captain J. Coode, on his being appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean station. He had arrived in Sicily, and was lying in the harbour of Messina, when the tidings of Napoleon's escape created an extraordinary bustle, and threatened the renewal of war,
After the overthrow of Murat, his Majesty Ferdinand IV. embarked on board the Queen, for conveyance to his continental dominions; and the delicate attentions of the Admiral were acknowledged by his being made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit, together with the gift of a gold snuff-box bearing the royal portrait, decorated with brilliants. On the 3d of January, 1816, he became a Knight Commander of the Bath; an event perhaps of more pleasure to his friends than even to himself.
In the spring of the same year, that popular measure, the curbing of the Barbary States, being resolved upon, Lord Exmouth convened the fleet to carry it into effect; and Sir Charles, with the prompt alacrity of the old school, took his cot and trunk, hoisted his flag on board the Bombay, 74, and accompanied his friend. A satisfactory, but not complete negotiation having been effected at Algiers, the squadron proceeded to the regencies of Tunis and Tripoli, when the full and easy terms obtained made his Lordship resolve to get additional concessions from the Algerines. On seeing the hostile aspect of the returning squadron, the Dey despatched orders to all the out-posts and ports, to secure the Christians, and their vessels, in other words, to lay on an embargo. Affairs, however, terminated amicably; and the Dey consented to the conditions imposed, with the single stipulation that the consent of his Sultan was to ratify the proceedings.
Sir Charles was at Malta when Lord Exmouth re-entered the Mediterranean, for the purpose of chastising the barbarians, should they refuse to make reparation for their renewed aggressions at Bona. Hearing of His Lordship's arrival, and the object of the expedition, he immediately sailed from Valette in the Ister frigate, Captain Thomas Forrest, but "arrived too late to take his share in the attack upon Algiers;" which Lord Exmouth particularly lamented, as "his services would have been desirable in every respect." Although Sir Charles Penrose had the mortification to find that the principal object of the expedition had been accomplished without his participation, still his services, as Lord Exmouth's representative,