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of the first of these objects by turning to force was sent in 1746 to hold that island the evidence of commodore Owen; " that in concert with the confederates; and in distinguished officer has declared that he the year 1794 it was, again occupied by considers the port of Flushing as the most our troops; the government was certainly dangerous to this country of the harbours bound to take into their calculation the hain the possession of the enemy, that its zard to be incurred by the (ruops in such a basin is capable of holding 20 sail of the station, but the same principles of public line; that in order eftectually to watch an policy which has influenced the occupation enemy's fleet, an equal or nearly an equal of the West India islands, and many other force must be stationed at Yarmouth as stations injurious to the health of the sol. well as in the Downs, a circumstance diers, made it their duty not to forego, which compels us to keep up a double great national objects, to avoid evils which force to oppose the enemy in that quarter; are more or less inseparable from a state of he has further stated that the possession of war. Asthe calamitous sickness of the army the port of Flushing would, in his judg' has thrown over the whole of the Expedimeni, have been of infinite importance to tion its most painful character, I wish to this country, and that if we had been en- take this occasion of remarking, that when abled to have retained effectual posses. the Expedition was decided upon, the apsion of the island of Walcheren and of the prehension of sickness was confined to port of Flushing, he does not think that that part of the force alone, which was any naral force which the enemy could destined to serve in Walcheren; there have assembled at Antwerp and the higher was no reason to entertain any particular parts of the Scheldt, could have acted fears on this account with respect to the from thence against the naval interests of troops destined to land at Sandvliet and to this country." Upon being asked what he act against Antwerp. It has been given conceived would be the effect of the demo- in evidence, indeed it is notorious, that lition of the basin of Flushing, on the ene- there is not in Europe a country where my's naval establishments in the Scheldt,'troops may act with less prejudice to their his answer was, “ that the enemy had no healih, than in the vicinity of Antwerp. other place at present to careen his ships, The landing of so large a portion of the that they cannot be coppered or hove force with its detention for so long a time down in ihat river, for the purposes of re- in South Beveland, a circumstance which pairing any defects in their bottoms, and has proved the severest source of sickness, that their equipment generally in the has been shewn to have arisen entirely Scheldt must be materially impeded by trom unforeseen causes, and to have been the destruction of that basin.” –The im. utterly inconsistent with the plan of the portance of reducing the island of Wal- Expedition, and with the views and excheren had, therefore, grown proportion pectations of those who determined upon ably with the increase of the enemy's the undertaking. However we must all naval power in that quarter. It was an deplore the sufferings with which object which had frequently occupied the brave troops have been afflicted, it is unattention of former governmeniz; and just to charge this calamity upon the orihere it may be necessary to observe, that ginal design. In contemplating the sickits not having been sooner reduced was ness of the army, the House naturally has owing to military impediments, and not directed much of their attention to the arto any opinion entertained that the un- rangements which were made for the care healthiness of the island should have pre- and management of the sick. Whatever vented its occupation. The House must unfavourable impressions were at first enbe aware that no such principle has ever tertained on this interesting subject, I prevailed in the military councils of this trust they have been removed by subse- : country, as that a British force was never quent explanation and enquiry; and that on any considerations of policy, to be ex- the House are satisfied that however parposed in a climate of this description.- tial instances of inconvenience and even We have frequently held the island of Wal- of neglect, as far as relates to the conduct cheren itself under circumstances of policy, of individuals, may possibly have occurred, less pressing than those under which it the general arrangements of government was lately attacked; we had a garrison were liberal, provident, and ample, that in Flushing, as one of the cautionary the exertion of the medical staff abroad towns for near 30 years in the reigns of was unremitting and exemplary ; and that queen Elizabeth and James I; a British upon the whole, the sick of the army have
experienced every degree of attention and ject of the Expedition, viz, the destruction tenderness, of which so extensive and of the arsenal at Antwerp, of the ships rapid a calamity would admit; if, how building and those afloat, if they should ever any strong impression can remain on have succeeded in effecting their retreat the minds of any members of the House from the lower parts of the Scheldt. In that serious neglect or improper manage order to form a correct estimate of the ment in any quarter has taken place, I expediency of the attempt, tlie risks should wish the subject to undergo a se- and sacrifices which it involved must parate examination, I am sure the House be compared with the advantages in will feel, that on the present occasion it prospect. On the one hand there was in is impossible for us to enter into it with view the destruction of a most formidable that degree of minuteness which its im- arsenal, amply provided with all materials portance so well deserves. If then the for the construction of an immense navy, inconvenience ofthe climate did not afford as well as the destruction or capture of any sufficient objection to the measure of not less than 20 ships of the line already reducing the island of Walcheren, the existing in different stages of equipment: House will I trust be of opinion, consider-- on the other hand were to be considered ing the great naval and military import- the degree to which the health of the ance of its conquest, that his Majesty's mi- army might be endangered, the military nisters were justified in looking upon this hazard to which our force was to be ex. as an object of the greatest moment in itself; posed, and lastly the expence which such that the proportion of force requisite for an effort must occasion. I have already its attack was judiciously applied for such observed, that there was no reason to a purpose, and that whilst we must decply apprehend, that the health of the ariny lament that the means of the country, oc- would be particularly exposed by the cupied as they are, to so large an extent, operation against Antwerp, the corps alin other quarters of the globe, have not lotted to the capture of Walcheren was enabled us to retain possession of so im- alone exposed to contract the disease arisportant a naval station, we ought to be ing from an unhealthy elimate; the troops sensible that, at least, a material service intended to land at Santvliet might prohas been rendered to the country in crip- secute their operations against Autwerp ling for a time ilie naval exertions of the and reimbark with as little danger to their enemy in that quarter. The second ob- health as if they had been encamped in ject which his Majesty's government had the most healthy part of England. That in contemplation was that of laying hold | the army would not have been unduly exof the enemy's ships afloat in the lower posed to military hazard by the mere part of the Scheldt'; that such an object operation itself has been directly proved was constantly kept in view the House by the evidence of the quarter-master gewill perceive from an inspection of the neral before referred to. It has also been disposition paper of the army by the established by the concurrent testimony quarter-master general, and also from the of every officer examined, that the army evidence of sir Richard Strachian. How might have landed at Santvliet early in nearly success had attended the attempt, August and advanced to Antwerp withmay be collected from sir John Hope's out opposition. The opinion of sir John statement. By the landing in the North Hope is to this effect. Lord Chatham and side of South Beveland, all the enemy's general Brownrigg have not only stated batteries on that island were taken in that to be their opinion; but in confirmareverse, and including Bathz were in our tion of it have further declared, that even possession on the night of the 2nd of Au- so late as the 25th of that month, the army guxt. It was not until the 1st that the would bave been landed for the purpose enemy's ships were enabled to retire of attacking Lillo and Liefkenshoeik, in above Lillo; bad an adverse wind delayed the hope of opening the Scheldt to furtheir retreat, till the British troops got ther operations, if sickness had not prepossession of Bathz, or even of the bat- vailed to such an extent amongst the ieries of Warden, their retreat must have troops in South Beveland, as wholly to been cut off, and the whole might have disqualify them from service. Can it been captured by our squadron, which then be contended that the attempt was was held in readiness to push up, the originally of a nature too hazardous to be Scheldt for that purpose. It remains for undertaken, when it might have been prome now to consider the third and main ob- secuted without any apprehension of ex.
traordinary risk, at a much later period in the pay of government and could not than that within which it might have been have been paid off, even had this service expected to have been completely ter- not been undertaken. The army did not minated, under more favourable circum require an extent of equipment necessary stances ? Delay in execution might be for a long campaign, there was therefore attended with ultimate failure; but I con- little extraordinary charge beyond that tend that with common military prudence which occurs when troops are in camp. the army itself need never have been im- Will any man then contend, even with providently committed. Sir W. Erskine is the strongest prejudice in favour of æcothe only officer who has expressed an opi- nomy, that in the then actual state of nion, that the retreat of the army would Europe, when
so strongly have been exposed to danger by a landing called on to support our ally, and had even so late as the 25th ; but he is wholly at the same time such inportant Briunsupported in this view of the subject by tish objects in prospect, that the expence any other authority, and the opinion it- of this Expedition taken according to its self is confined to operations commencing true amount was improvidently incurred ? at the close instead of the beginning of Would it not, on the contrary, even if all August. I trust it is therefore clearly expectations of injury to the naval reestablished that whatever grounds his Ma- sources of France had been laid out of jesty's ministers might have to doubt of our contemplation, and the question had ultimate success, there were none, which been entirely confined to the consideration should have induced them to hesitate as far of giving aid to Austria, would it not even as the safety of the army was concerned in that case have been our bounden duty, if in undertaking the enterprize. The re- on any part of the enemy's coast, a port maining question is the expence. On could have been found capable of giving this head there has been no end to the ab- the same security to such an armament, as surd and exaggerated reports with which was afforded by the Scheldt, instead of the public mind has been deluded. When allowing our force to remain inactive, to the conduct of government was arraigned | have dispatched it to that point for the in the Common Hall.of the Ciiy of Lon- purpose of distracting as far as possidon, and the vengeance of the country ble the attention of the enemy, and of denounced against his Majesty's minis- creating at least a temporary embarrass. ters; they were charged with having ment in his operations.
If the objecwantonly squandered the blood and trea- tions then to the enterprise fairly examinsure of the country in pursuit of impracti- ed appear to sink into nothing, when cable and inadequate objects, it was as compared with the exaggerated statements serted that this Expedition had cost the which have been made of them, it renation not less than 15,000,0001. Even mains for me to shew that the operation the gentlemen on the other side of the was practicable in itself, that it was not House, in the more sober view which they without a reasonable prospect of suchave condescended to take of the subject, cess, and that the best means were dehave never stated the expence lower than | vised for carrying it into effect. 5 or 6 million sterling. There are now Upon the latter point endeavours have however before the House documents to been made to insinuate in the questions prove that the total charge has not exceeded put to oflicers examined, that govern840,0001. of which not more than 600,0001. ment proceeded without any plan, and was incident to the service as originally that the attempt was undertaken withprojected. So far from its having been out any well considered or digested conthe most expensive Expedition that was ception of the mode in which it was to ever undertaken, I may safely assert, be prosecuted. The officers charged that it has been the least so, in proportion with the conduct of the service were to its magnitude, which this country has called upon to state in evidence to the ever sent forth. That such must have House the precise mode in which they been the case might have occurred upon were ordered to proceed, the point at the smallest reflection to any person ac- which they were to make their attack ; customed to look at subjects of this na- the positions they proposed to take up; ture. Three fourths of the force was in short the plan of campaign which had carried in the ships of war then in com- been formed for them in every minute mission, and nearly an equal proportion particular. But with great submission I of the transports required, was at the time apprehend that a plan of operations, in
so strict a sense, never can be made or calculated to retard rather than accele. ought to be attempted by any cabinet, rate the advance upon Antwerp. I must that if such had been previously devised, therefore assert that no other plan stands it would probably have been rendered in competition with that determined on inapplicable or abortive by the conduct by government, and that it has been disa of the enemy, or the state of the elements, tinctly established, by the concurring tes. and that in proceeding upon a service of timony of all the naval officers examined, this nature, which is dependent on naval that in the prosecution of that plan under co-operation, nothing more can be re- favourable circumstances of weather, the quired of bis Majesty's government, than whole of the armament destined to act that the principles of the Expedition, and against Antwerp might have been carried the different descriptions of attack which up the West Scheldt in four days from the iu various contingencies were probable, period of its leaving the Downs (including should be well considered, it being left to the time necessary for buoyiog the chanthe officers in command to apply their nel) that is, that the whole might have armeans upon the spot as circumstances rived successively in divisions on the 1st should point out. And first I must con- 2d and 3d of August at Santvliet. I must tend, that the principle of the Expedition, further contend that although the parti. as far as the carrying the right wing of cular movements against Antwerp were the armament at once direct to Santvliet, not, and could not be previously deterlanding the troops there, and advancing mined on, the different modes of attack with rapidity to Antwerp, was fully con- had been fully considered, and suitable sidered, and is distinctly laid down means for each were amply provided. in all the instructions before the House, The army was equipped with an effective not only in the directions addressed to train of heavy artillery; for the rapid the officers employed; but in the or movement of which against Antwerp, ders issued by them in execution of the horses were sent from this country.-We service. That a better plan could not have did not proceed in contemplation of bebeen devised, may I think be inferred sieging Antwerp in form by investiture on from the circumstance of no person having
both sides of the river, but we went against yet attempted to suggest a better, or to it upon information that its works were condemn that which was decided on. not only defective in construction, but negGeneral Brownrigg has regretted, that the lected, and in many parts fallen into decay; whole of the armament destined for Sant- that the town was feebly garrisoned, and sliet was not at once carried to the en- the enemy generally weak in that quarter; trance of the West Scheldt, instead of being under these circumstances hopes were en. directed to rendezvous at the Stone Deep, tertained that the place might possibly be which according to the prevailing winds taken by assault, or that if an operation of was to leeward of its destination; but that description should not be practicable this is a point of professional detail not the town would probably surrender to an appertaining to the plan, but to the effective bombardment. Such were the execution, and cannot be considered principles of attack, and I am now to as in any degree impeaching the grounds consider, upon comparison of the eneon which ministers acted. The two my's means as opposed to ours, what pros. other lines of operation, viz. that which pect of success we bad, supposing the would have taken the army up the East army to have arrived at Santvliet in due Scheldt with a view to a landing on time; taking the argument first upon the Tholen, and that across South Beveland information in possession of government, according to which the troops would have on which the Expedition was undertaken; been disembarked in the Sloe to be after- and secondly upon the actual state of wards re-embarked at Bathz, have both things as prored to exist by the intelliappeared in evidence to have been wholly gence obtained upon the spot, after the unadvisable; the former has been con- armament reached the Scheldt. First as demned by sir R. Keats himself, whose to the relative amount of force with which opinion before he left England, formed the attack was to have been made or rehowever without any local knowledge, had pelled; it may be most satisfactory to take given some countenance to it; the latter that of the enemy, as proved to exist at the has been proved by all the general officers period when the retreat was ordered, reexamined to be, if not wholly impracti- serving for subsequent consideration, what cable, at least highly inexpedient, being proportion was assembled in the neigh. bourhood of Antwerp at any antecedent | Flushing should be reduced. Of the seadate. On the 26th of August the ene--men of the fleet employed in the Expedimy's force is stated in the Memorandum tion amounting in the gross to 35,000, it submitted by the quarter-master general may be estimated that not less than 20,000 to the lieut. generals at the council of war, might have been made available on the to have amounted to 35,000 men. General first instance on the side of Antwerp in Brownrigg, however, in bis evidence des- aid of the land force, so that an immecribes these numbers as in his opinion ex- diate force would have been assembled aggerated, and thinks a reduction may be of 43,000 troops and seamen, subject to fairly made from them of 5,000 men. In be encreased to 49,000 on the fall of the numbers thus given he distinctly says Flushing, to be opposed to a force of not exthat the crews of the enemy's ships and ceeding 30,000 French, Dutch, Danes, &c. the workmen of the arsenal are included. We find also from the evidence of all the What the precise amount of the sailors officers, and from all the information reand workmen may have been (the evidence ceived, that the enemy's military force varying upon this point) it may be difficult was of the very worst description, comto state ; some of the intelligence carry posed chiefly of depôts of regiments, coning the sailors to 11,000, and the work scripts recently levied, custom house offimen of the arsenal tu 5 or 6,000 men; cers, burghers and gens d’ármerie. Such a other information, and that perhaps most force might be found useful in the defence entitled to credit, represents the numbers of works, but I believe no British officer of the armed workmen actually present would have had any hesitation, if the eneas being much lower, and states that a my could have drawn these 30,000 men considerable proportion even of the ordi- to one point, and could have been induced nary establishment had been at this time to risk them in one body in the field, 'to detached to the Danube; the crews of the have rested the fate of the undertaking ships are also represented as not exceed upon the ability of anyatwo British diviing 7,000; taking these two classes of sions of 5,000 men each to have defeated persons together at from 8 to 10,000 men, the whole. If then the British force could there will not remain above 20,000 troops at the very outset have attacked with of all descriptions at the close of the month 43,000 and ultimately with 49,000 men, of August, for the defence of both banks the enemy having after the expiration of of the Scheldt, including the garrisons of 26 days only the means of opposing to Antwerp and Bergen-op-zoom; and this them 30,000, what might not have been estimate is in a great measure corroborated expected in point of success, had we been by the information received by sir John enabled to have commenced our operaHope on the 28th of August, which destions early in August, when, as I shall cribes the enemy's force, as it is stated, hereafter have occasion to shew, the from an actual survey, at 21,780 men.- enemy were in a state of great weakness The propriety of including the seamen of and wholly unprepared for defence. the fleet in the means which the enemy The next iinportant head of information could employ in defending Antwerp may is that which relates to the defences of in principle be questioned, as our opera- Antwerp, and the condition in which tions with reference to the fleet itself, his Majesty's governinent had reason would probably have found ample occu- to suppose they would be found. The pation for them afloat, but if this mode of House will recollect that it has been estaenumeration is to be adopted on one side, blished in evidence that the town of Antit is reasonable that it should be admitted werp has not been defended since the year on both; the efficiency of British seamen 1584, when it was attacked by the duke either on board or on shore being at least of Parma, th it has been always surrenequal to the erews of the enemy's ships, dered without resistance to an army supecomposed as we know them to have been rior in the field, that it is a rich and poof subjects of different nations.-We shall pulous city of great extent, containing not then find the British force, which might have less than 60,000 inhabitants, that it is bebeen assembled a: Santvliet early in August (tween 3 and 4 miles in circumference, to stand thus; 23,000 rank and file including being surrounded by a rampart and ditch, the reserve under general Hope, troops cer- with bastions constructed several centuries tainly equal to any in Europe, composed ago, that it has not been kept up as a of the flower of the British army, to be place of defence, and that it is altogether reinforced by 5 or 6,000 men as soon as destitute of outworks to keep an enemy YOL. XVI,