W. Laird (William Laird) Clowes.

The royal navy, a history from the earliest times to present (Volume 6) online

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with a round shot and 180 balls in a bag ; but his enemy was too
strong for him. Two of his men were shot dead ; Lodwick himself
and two others were severely wounded ; six oars were smashed ; and
the pursuit had to be abandoned, the damaged and crippled boat
being picked up by the Growler as she stood towards Gallinas. The
felucca, which was afterwards overhauled and captured by a steamer,
had the reputation of being one of the fastest craft on the coast,
and had a crew of seventy English, French, and American scoun-
drels, with an English commander. Lodwick, for his bravery, was
promoted on May 1st, 1845.

On February 27th, 1845, the Wasp, 16, Commander Sydney
Henry Ussher, was cruising near Lagos, when she sighted a strange
sail, and sent Lieutenant Robert Douglas Stupart in a boat in
pursuit. In the evening the stranger was come up with, and found
to be the Brazilian slave schooner Feliciclade, with a crew of twenty-
eight men. All of these, except the master and one other man,
were transferred to the Wasj), and Stupart, with a Midshipman
and fifteen seamen, remained in charge. On March 1st the
boats of the Feliciclade captured another prize, the Echo, with
430 slaves on board. Stupart shifted to her, leaving the Mid-
shipman (Mr. Harmer), and eight men in the Felicidade; and both
vessels then headed for Sierra Leone, where they were to have been
condemned. They unfortunately separated, and, most of the Echo's
people having been transferred to the Felicidade, there was a rising
which resulted in the murder of all the Englishmen in the latter
vessel, and the recapture of the slaver. She was, however, again
taken on March 6th by the Star, 6, Commander Eobert John
Wallace Dunlop, who, suspecting that there had been foul play, took
the pirates to Ascension, and put Lieutenant John Wilson ^ (6) in
charge of the prize to carry her to Sierra Leone. On the voyage
thither, the Felicidade encountered a heavy squall, which threw her

' A Lieut, of Feb. 22ik1, 1843.


on her beam ends and left her water-logged, so much so, indeed, that
the people had literally to huddle together on the gunwale. They
had no boat, and could not get at their provisions, though they re-
peatedly endeavoured to dive for them. In these straits they made
a small raft, and embarked, ten persons in all, for a two hundred
mile voyage, without rudder, oar, or compass, and with scarcely any
provisions and no water. This was on March 16th. They supported
themselves by catching rain water in their little sail, and by capturing
four of the numerous sharks which continually accompanied them ;
but they were not rescued until April 5th, when they were picked
up in sight of land by the Cygnet, 6, Commander Henry Lay ton.
Five of the unfortunates died ; but Wilson and four seamen survived
and recovered their strength.

On May 26th, 1845, after a two days' chase, the Pantaloon, 10,
Commander Edmund "Wilson, being then close to Lagos, came up
with a large slave ship. Owing to a calm, the British sloop could
not approach within about two miles. Wilson, therefore, hoisted
out his cutter and two whale boats, which he placed under the
command of his first Lieutenant, Lewis de Teissier Prevost, his
Master, John Thomas Crout, and his Boatswain, Mr, Pasco. About
thirty seamen and Marines formed the attacking party, which, as it
neared the slaver, was exposed to a heavy fire of round, grape, and
canister. This was replied to with musketry. The boats were
half an hour under fire ere they could get alongside. Prevost and
Pasco boarded on the starboard, and Crout from the cutter on the
port. Crout actually leapt through a gun port as the gun was being
discharged through it, and his seconder was blown into the water by
the blast, but was soon up again. There was a most desperate hand
to hand fight on deck, and the slavers were not overpowered until
they had lost 7 killed and as many wounded. The prize was a
polacca-rigged craft of 450 tons, carrying four 12-prs. and about fifty
people, and she was a pirate as well as a slaver. The British
loss was 2 killed or fatally injured, and 6, including Crout and
Pasco, wounded. Prevost was promoted on August 30th following.^
Unfortunately there was in those days no means for adequately
rewarding the gallantry of officers like Crout and Pasco.

At about the beginning of the year 1846 an extraordinary affair
happened at Maranhao, in northern Brazil. The Alert, 6, Com-
mander Charles John Bosanquet, having captured a Brazilian
1 Naut. Mag., 1845, p. 611 ; O'Byrne, 925.


slaver, containing between seventy and eighty slaves, off Cabinda,
despatched her, under Mate Edward Frodsham Noel Iv. AYasey, to
Sierra Leone, for adjudication. By continuous bad weather she
was diiven to Maranhao, where she arrived with seven feet of water
in the hold, and in a sinking condition. While Wasey was on shore
endeavouring to obtain protection for the slaves until he could
procure another vessel, a party of brigands, disguised as Brazilian
soldiers, visited the prize, and invited crew and slaves to land, as
the water was washing over the decks. The crew, having no orders
to stir, refused ; but the slaves were taken ashore, and were never
afterwards recovered.^ In consequence of the manner in which he
had managed his water-logged craft, Wasey was promoted on
March 10th, 1846, to be Lieutenant.

Difficulties with Arab chiefs concerning the slave traffic between
Madagascar and the mainland summoned the President, 50, Captain
William Pearce Stanley, bearing the flag of Bear-Admiral James
Bichard Dacres (2) to the neighbourhood in 1847, and ultimately
led to an attack by her boats on a stockaded position at Anjoxa.
The fighting, however, was not of a very serious description.

On July 22nd, 1847, the Waterwitch, 10, Commander Thomas
Francis Birch, having the Ba2nd, 10, Commander Edward Dixon,
in company, captured the Brazilian slave brigantine, Borneo Primero,
and subsequently sent her, under Lieutenant Walter George
Mansfield, with four seamen, to St. Helena for adjudication.
Mansfield found himself obliged to bear up for Sierra Leone, and,
on August 11th, four of the slaver crew rose on him and his men.
Mansfield, though wounded in nine places, succeeded in pre-
serving the prize, but lost one of his people in the struggle. On
September 1st he entered port. On his recovery he was deservedly

In the following year, Lieutenant Francis James d'Aguilar, of
the Ch'ecian, 16, Commander Louis Symonds Tindal, defeated an
attempt, somewhat similar to that made at Maranhao in 1846, to
retake a prize slaver at Bahia. In this case, however, the people
from the shore employed force, and had to he repelled by musketry
fire, losing 10 killed and 30 wounded. D'Aguilar's prize crew-
consisted of 10 men only, and the officer and most of his people
were wounded.

In 1848, the Bonctta, 3, Lieutenant Frederick Edwyn Forbes,
1 Naut. Standard, 1846. ^ .Qom. Dec. 31st, 1847.


did some specially good service on the west coast of Africa, capturing
the Plwco-foo, the Trar/as Millas, the Andorimha, the Alert, the
Louiza, and other slavers, within a short period.

In 1849, the officer who afterwards became Admiral Sir William
Graham gained his first commission owing to the manner in which
he distinguished himself on the occasion of the capture of the armed
slaver Unaio by the boats of the steam-sloop Hydra, 6, Commander
Grey Skipwith, on the south-east coast of America. In December
of the same year, on the west coast of Africa, Commodore Arthur
Fanshawe, C.B., of the Centaur, 6, steamer, detached his Captain,
Claude Henry Mason Buckle, in the Teazer, 2, steamer. Lieu-
tenant Jasper Henry Selwyn, with the French steamer, Buhis, 2,
on a very successful expedition against the black pirates in the
river Seba. Unhappily the affair cost the life of Lieutenant John
Crocket, E.M.A.

In the course of 1851, Co9ioco, a usurping king of Lagos, then
one of the chief centres of the slave trade, became troublesome and
intractable. After having peaceably received Mr. Beecroft, British
Consul at Fernando Po, and the British naval officers on the station,
he had refused to. promise, on behalf of himself and his subjects, not
to favour the illicit traffic, and had also forbidden the boats of the
men-of-war to proceed up the river to his town. Mr. Beecroft
determined to seek another interview with the king ; and, in order
that Cogioco should be under no misapprehension concerning the
seriousness and solemnity of the British demands, he arranged that
the armed boats of the squadron should accompany the mission
under a flag of truce. Accordingly, a channel over the bar was
surveyed by the Masters of the Waterivitch, 8, Commander Alan
Henry Gardner, and the Bloodhound, iron paddle steamer ; and at
daylight on November 25th, 1851, the Bloodlwund, with a white
flag, preceded by Mr. Beecroft in the Harlequin s gig, and followed
by the armed flotilla, started up the river. The boats engaged
were : —

From Philomel, 8, Commander Thomas George Forbes (senior officer) ; whaler, under
Com. Forbes ; pinnace, with 12-pr. carr., under Lieut. George Bell Williams ;
cutter ; and second whaler.

From Harlequin, 12, Commander Arthur Parry Eardley Wilmot; gig, with IMr.
Beecroft, under Com. "Wilmot ; pinnace, under Lieut. Charles Fen ton Fletcher
Boughey ; cutter ; and two whalers.

From Volcano, 5, paddle, Commander Eobert Coote ; whaler, under Com. Coote ;
paddle-box boat, under Lieut, John Milward Reeve; second paddle-box boat,
under Lieut. Charles Aylmer Pembroke Vallancey Robinson ; cutter.


From Niger, 14, screw, Commander Leopold George Heath ; gig, vinder Com. Heath ;

pinnace, under Lieut. Montagu Buccleuch Dunn ; three cutters ; wlialeboat.
From Wattrwitch,^; whaler, under Com. Garduer; pinnace, under Lieut. William

Graham; cutter; whaler.

In all, 23 boats, with 250 officers, seamen, and Marines.

At the bar the force was saluted with musketry fire, of which, how-
ever, no notice was taken, the flag of truce being kept flying.
AVithin a mile and a half of the town, the Bloodhound grounded ;
but the boats kept on in line, until they were fired at from both
guns and musketry on shore. At length the boats replied with
shrapnel and solid shot, while the Niger, from below the bar, threw
some shells at the position whence the first fire had proceeded.
For nearly an hour the fire continued ; and then the boats dashed in
simultaneously to an assigned landing-place, where their crews dis-
embarked, and, leaving about ninety officers and men as a guard on
the beach, fought their way into the town. Their progress was
most hotly disputed, especially after they had entered the narrow
streets ; and, as the number of natives opposed to them was at least
five thousand, the attackers suffered severely. Forbes fired as many
houses as he could ; and, despairing of being able to accomplish
more, retreated in good order, and re-embarked. That night he
refloated the Bloodhound, and, on the following morning, returned to
the squadron. In this affair, w^hich, though costly and ineffective,
was most bravely conducted, the two Mates of the Niger, John
George Fitzherbert Dyer, and Henry Hyde Hall, were killed, and
ten people were badly wounded, numerous others being hit by spent
balls, etc.^ The Niger took the wounded to Sierra Leone, and
communicated with Commodore Henry William Bruce, who, while
engaged in organising a further expedition, ordered the Harlequin to
remain near Lagos to prevent Co9ioco from interfering with the
missionary establishment at Badagry, which he had previously
harried, and which had given shelter to Akitoye, the legitimate
king of Lagos.

Commodore Bruce procured the co-operation of Akitoye, and
nearly five hundred of his followers, who took up a position near
the intended scene of action ; and he intrusted the carrying out of
his plans to Captain Lewis Tobias Jones, of the Samson, 6, paddle,
and Captain Henry Lyster, of his own flagship, the Penelope, 16,
paddle. The craft employed in the operations were the Bloodhound ,

' Forbes to Bruce; Naut. Mag., 1852, p. 109.


the Teazer, 3, screw, the Sealark, 8, Commander Edward Southwell
Sotheby, and the boats of the Penelojje, Samsoii, Volcano, and
WaterwitcJi. The llloodlioioid was commanded by Lieutenant
Eussell Patey, and the Teazer by Lieutenant Charles Tayler
Leckie ; and the boats were under Commanders Bobert Coote,
Alan Henry Gardner, and Charles Farrel Hilly ar. The resistance
that was met with indicated how hopeless had been the chances of
success upon the occasion of the first attack, and how unwise Com-
modore Bruce, or the officer immediately responsible, had been to
permit a comparatively weak expedition to ascend to the town, even
though it bore a flag of truce at its head.

The squadron arrived at the mouth of the river on December '23rd,
1851. On the 24th, Captain Jones landed below the town, and met
Mr. Beecroft, and Akitoye. The 25th, being Christmas day, was
spent quietly, except that the enemy amused himself by firing at the
ships, which were well out of range. On the 26th, part of the force
moved up the river under a brisk fire ; but, before anything could be
accomplished, both the Blooclhouncl and the Teazer, each of which
had with her a division of boats, unfortunately grounded. As the
Bloodhound, which was in advance, was greatly imperilled. Lieu-
tenant Thomas Saumarez (2), with the boats of the Samson, and some
Marines under Lieutenant Edward McArthur, B.M.A.,was despatched
to attempt a landing and to spike the guns which most annoyed the
little steamer. He made a most gallant effort, but, being at length
wounded in three places, and having Midshipman Thomas Eichards
killed, and 10 of his people badly hit, he was obliged to give the order
to retire. That day little more could be done beyond preventing the
enemy from sending their boats against the stranded Bloodhound.
In the meantime an even more vigorous effort was made to relieve the
Teazer from the fire of the most troublesome of the guns on shore.
A considerable landing force was sent in ; and, although received on
touching the beach with a point-blank discharge from about 150Q
muskets, the officers and men pushed steadily on, and captured the
stockade whence the annoyance had proceeded. Captain Lyster
led this attack, and among those with him who more specially
distinguished themselves were Lieutenant John Corbett, and Assis-
tant Surgeons Michael Walling, and Eobert Sproule, M.D. (acting).
Corbett had the honour of spiking the guns.

Scarcely had this success been won ere it was perceived that the
enemy had got round to the rear of the attacking party, and had
VOL. VI, 2 B


seized a boat, which they were dragging off to place her under cover
of some still uncaptured guns. There was a shght confusion in re-
embarking ; and, taking advantage of it, the blacks rushed forth from
the woods on all sides, and poured in a heavy fire at pistol range.
Midshipman F. R. Fletcher, and many men were killed, and more
were wounded. To make matters worse, some stupid or disaffected
Kroomen in the Victoria, a boat belonging to Mr. Beecroft, the
consul, let go her anchor without orders, and brought her up under
the very hottest of the fire. Lyster and Corbett went back to her
to discover what had happened, and the former ordered the cable to
be slipped ; but, as it was a chain-cable, the end of which was
clenched to the boat's bottom, it could not so easily be got rid of.
With the greatest coolness and gallantry, Corbett leant over the
bows, and at length cut the cable with a cold chisel, receiving, how-
ever, as he did so, five new wounds, in addition to one which he
had previously received on shore. Thus the Victoria was saved, and
carried off to the Teazer. Lyster, while leaving her to get into
his own boat, was hit in the back. The fire continued so hot, and
so many of his people had by that time fallen, that he judged it
imprudent then to make further efforts to retake the captured boat ;
but another party, under Mate James Bower Balfour, and Gunner
H. A. Dewar, presently succeeded in putting a rocket into her
magazine and blowing her up. At sunset, after great exertions, tlie
Teazer was got off and anchored out of gunshot.

This rescue of the Teazer was a most costly affair. Fifteen
officers and men of the squadron were killed or mortally wounded,
including Midshipman F. E. Fletcher, and Master's Assistant
H. M. Gillham, and no fewer than 63 people were wounded, in-
cluding Captain Lyster, Commander Hillyar, Lieutenant Corbett,
and Lieutenant John William Collman Williams, R.M. In addition
to the medical officers already mentioned, Surgeon Eichard Carpenter,
and Assistant-Surgeon John Barclay, M.D., rendered most valuable
and devoted services to the wounded in very difficult circumstances.

Soon after 7 a.m. on the 27th, the Teazer steamed up towards
the still grounded Bloodlwuiid, accompanied by her flotilla of boats.
Captain Jones, who was in the Bloodliuutid, ordered the boats which
were with her to make a diversion, and indicated to the Teazer the
position in which he desired her to anchor. She anchored there at
8.10 A.M. A general attack on the town was soon afterwards begun,
the rocket boats, under Lieutenant Edward Marshall, making


splendid practice, firing numerous houses, and at length hlowing
up a magazine.

Up to that time Coote's and Gardner's divisions of boats had not
moved to the scene of action. Coote arrived at 10.30 a.m., and
Gardner at 1.45 p.m. An hour later, Coote, with some gunboats
and a rocket boat, was sent forward to fire a few rounds at Cogioco's
house ; and then, feeling that the place was as good as in his
possession. Captain Jones sent in to demand a capitulation. It
was Saturday afternoon. The chief was therefore allowed until
Monday morning to think over his position. On the Sunday, how-
ever, Co^ioco abandoned the town and fled to the woods ; and
Akitoye, having come up the river, was formally installed as king
in such buildings as had escaped destruction. Only a small British
party, under Coote, was that day landed. On Monday, the 29th,
Gardner landed with Coote and a larger party, which embarked or
destroyed fifty-two guns of one kind or another.

Captain Jones, in his dispatch to the Commodore, specially
mentioned Captain Lyster, Commander Hillyar,' Lieutenants Edward
Marshall,^ Frederick Dampier Kich, John Corbett,^ and Thomas
Saumarez (2) ; Gunner J. Cook, of the Samson ; Boatswain's Mate
Charles Blofield ; George Yule, E.M.A. ; Surgeon Samuel Donnelly ;
Paymaster Thomas Hockings ; and Clerk Eobert Henry Bullen,^
than whom " no lieutenant could have done better."*

It may be added that, in 1861, Docemo, a subsequent king of
Lagos, ceded the island and port to Great Britain, receiving in
return a pension of £1000 a year until his death in 1885.

The provisions of the treaty of Yandaboo have already been
summarised in this volume.^ It will be recollected that in that
instrument Burmah engaged, in 1826, to receive a British resident
at the court of Ava. No resident was actually sent until 1830. For
seven years after that date the Burmese Government behaved in
a more or less unsatisfactory manner; and, on April 16th, 1837,
Tharrawaddy, having seized the crown, repudiated the treaty, and
obliged the resident, who was not properly supported by the Indian
Government, to withdraw, leaving an assistant in charge. A new-
resident was appointed in 1838 ; but he was not received ; and, in
1840, the establishment at Ava was broken up, the only British

1 Posted, Feb. 20th, 1852. =* Paymaster, Feb. 20th, 1852.

'^ Com., Feb. 20th, 1852. * Brace to Admiralty ; Jones to Bruce.

^ See p. 249.

2 B 2


representative remaining in Burmah being a Eangoon merchant,
who took charge of letters, etc. The long-suiiering of the British
emboldened the Burmese, who presently began to commit various
tyrannical acts. Two, perpetrated in 1851, brought matters to a
crisis. A master of a British ship was illegally detained at Eangoon
on a wholly baseless charge of having drowned his pilot, and was
obliged to purchase his freedom ; and another master was similarly
detained on a charge of having murdered one of his crew, who
had, in fact, died at sea.^ These masters, naturally and properly
indignant, forced the Indian government to take action ; and
in November, 1851, H.M.S. Fox, 42, screw. Commodore George
Eobert Lambert, Commander John Walter Tarleton, with the
H. E. I. Co.'s steamer Tenasserim, sailed from Calcutta to inquire
into the situation. Ere they anchored off Eangoon on November 25th,
they were joined by H.M.S. Serpent, 12, Commander William
Garnham Luard, and by the H. E. I. Co.'s steamer Proserpine.

Lambert, on his arrival, was informed of numerous additional
acts of oppression which had been committed by the governor of
Eangoon. The Commodore sent to India for additional instructions,
and, in the meantime, demanded the dismissal of the governor, who,
on his part, assembled large forces, and armed a Burmese warship,
the Yathunah-gee-mhon,'^ the property of the king. Outrages con-
tinued in the town ; but on January 1st, 1852, the King sent a
pacific message to the Commodore, and promised that the governor
should be superseded. During this period the force in the river was
strengthened by the arrival of H.M.S. Hermes, 6, paddle, Commander
Edmund Gardiner Fishbourne, and of the H. E. I. Co.'s steamer
Phlegethon. The Burmese promises were not carried out. Fish-
bourne, who was sent ashore with some officers to deliver a
letter, was insulted ; and, it being evident that hostilities were
intended, all British subjects in Eangoon were embarked, all
British merchantmen in the river were towed to positions of safety,
and the Yathunah-gee-mhon was taken possession of. Interview
followed interview, and threat followed threat. On January 8th,
Lambert was told that he would be attacked if any of his ships
attempted to move down the river ; and on the 9th, in consequence,
he sent a numl)cr of merchantmen to sea under escort, ordered

^ The facts are set fortli in ' Kecent Operations at IJangoon and Martaban,' by
Rev. T. T. TMver, H.X., H.M.S. Fox (iHfyi).


I.e., "precious, sleek, excellent sailing Bhijj." Bake


the Proserpine to Calcutta with dispatches, and declared a blockade
of Eangoon, Bassein, and Martaban.^ Below the town was the
Dunnoo stockade. On January 10th, the Fox was towed into
position abreast of it, and a little later the frigate was fired at from
the work. The fire was, of course, returned ; the stockade was
twice silenced ; and several war boats were destroyed. That day
the Hermes also was fired at from another stockade. By the
morning of the 12th, Lambert had withdrawn his force to the
mouth of the river, and despatched the Phlegetlwn to Martaban.
He received a letter full of fresh promises contingent upon the
restoration of the YathunaJi-gee-mhon ; but by that time, as he felt,
the matter had passed out of his hands, and, on the following day, he
himself departed in the Hermes to take counsel with the Indian

Lambert returned on January 26th, having been unsuccessful in
seeing Lord Dalhousie, who was at Simla. In his absence a few
troops had reached Moulmein in the Tenasserim and Proserpine,
which had been sent for them ; and most of the blockading vessels
had been threatened. On January 31st, having received dispatches
from Calcutta by the H. E. I. Co.'s steamer Fire Queen, Lambert
caused that vessel to tow the Fox up towards Eangoon. On the
way the frigate was fired at from a stockade, and one of her people
was wounded. The Fox retaliated, but did not stop, and, late in
the afternoon, anchored off the Hastings shoal below the town.
The Fire Queen, on her way bade, was fired at from more than
one point. The Tenasserim also, proceeding to join the Commodore,
was similarly treated. Lambert then sent Lieutenant William
Spratt (actg.) to the town with a letter enclosing the ultimatum of
the Indian government. Getting no satisfactory reply, Lambert
caused the Tenasserim to tow him back to the river's mouth, and
reported to Calcutta what had happened. On his way down he was

Online LibraryW. Laird (William Laird) ClowesThe royal navy, a history from the earliest times to present (Volume 6) → online text (page 39 of 64)