Imágenes de página

the armament up the West Scheldt, which | hope that I should be permitted, after ex operation I had always looked upon as the amining the subject of that paper, to subprimary object of his instructions, and on the mit to their lordships' consideration such accomplishment of which our best hopes observations as might arise from it; and I of success in any of the ulterior objects of have now to request that you will consey the Expedition principally, if not wholly to their lordships my thanks for the transdepended.

CHATHAM, mission of the paper, and at the same time Lieutenant General. solicit their attention to the observations

upon it wbich I have now the honour to

enclose.--Feeling perfectly conscious that PAPERS RELATING TO 'Rear ADMIRAL Sie every exertion had been made by me in

RICHARD J. Strachan, Baronet.- forwarding the objects of the Expedition, Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be and that no blame could be justly iinprinted, 7th March 1810.

puted to myself or the nary, I could not No. I.-Copy of a Letter from Rear Ad.

possibly suspect that lord Chatham to the miral Sir R. J. Strachan to J. W. Cros irregularity of presenting immediately lo ker, esq. on lord Chatham's having have received, had added the impropritty

his Majesty such a paper as that which I produced a Private Note of the Rear Admirals respecting provisions, &c. to use no stronger term) of endeavouring London, 28th February 1910.

to exculpate hinself by private insinua.

tions against the conduct of others – Sir; I understand that lord Chatham Every officer has a just right, and where last night produced a private note of mine, he really believes failure to bave arisen under date the 27th of August, on the from the misconduct or negligence of subject of provisions and other matters, to those with whom he has been associated the House of Commons. The allusion to in a joint command, is in duty bound, in provisions in that note was in consequence many cases, to state bis opinion officially of an error in the statement which was to the government.-- It is ilien for liis Ma. given to me, from the principal agent of jesty to judge of the propriety and necestransports, respecting the provisions of the sity of instituting any inquiry upon the army, but it was immediately corrected, subject; but to assume the privilege of and I think [I am not certain,] subse, conveying private insinuations to the prequently reported to their lordships. I judice of others, from whose knowledge mention this that their lordships may be ihey are studiously concealed, must prove convinced of my anxiety to prevent any utterly destructive of all mutual confidence improper impression in regard to the sup- in joint operations of the army and navy. ply of provisions for the arıny—The ob- - Their lordships will not be able to servations which I made in that note, to judge whether there is any foundation for meet the feelings of his lordship, on the the imputations, that the delays originated view he had taken of the difficulties which with myseif, or with any others in the presented themselves on bis expectation naval service, or whether during my comof success, appear to me unimportant; mand on the late Expedition, any prothe thing was decided upon; it was not a ceeding on my part, bas in any respect moment to analyse the principles of that justified the line of conduct which lord decision, and my public letters, and exa- | Chatham bas thought fit to adopt towards mination at the bar of the House of me. -- Upon this subject

, that I may not Commons, will, I trust, have explained interrupt my observations upon his lordmy sentiments and decision upon this ship's Statement, I will now advert to my subject. I bave, &c. R. J. Strachan. letier of the 27th of August.- That letter No. II.-Copy of a Letter from Rear Admi

was an official one; I have already eso ral Sir R. J. Strachan to J. w.Cro: pressed my regret ibat it was so inadker, esq. respecting the Statement of vertently worded, as to escile any suspi. the Earl of 'Chatham. London, 5th mander in chief of the army, on the ground

cion of my imputing blame to the comMarch 1810.

of his then determining io abandon any Sir; When I solicited my lords com- further attempt in the Scheldt. I was not missioners of the admiralty to procure for aware that any expressions which I might me an authentic copy of the Statement of have considered myself justified in using lord Chatham upon the late Expedition to for the purpose of conveying my sentithe Scheldt, I made that request in the ments to their lordships, would have been given to the world, if they should have evident that no further operations could been thought injurious to the character of at that time be undertaken with any the conimander in chief of the forces.—In prospect of success,

were such as I was my letter to lord Chatham of the 26th of not competent to appreciate, and thereAugust (enclosure to No. 29. Admiralty fure did not presume to discuss. papers No. 3.) I offered the fullest co- Not being aware from my own observaoperation of the navy in any further at- tions that further success was unattainable, tempt in the Scheldt, and therefore II ventured to offer the fullest assistance thought myself bound to state in my offi- and co-operation of the naval armament cial letter, that I had made such offer, and under my command in any ulterior meaI was of opinion, as I have since explained sures which might be deemed advisable, in my evidence, that it would have been and I trust that in making this offer I shall arlvisable to have attacked forts Lillo and not be thought to have been guided by a Liefkenshoeik.-It appeared to me that too forward and indiscreet zeal, rather than this offered a chance of opening some fur- by a due sense of my professional duty. ther field of enterprize for the navy, or Upon the second point, namely, “ Why at all events of ascertaining whether the the army was not sooner assembled at destruction of the enemy's fleet, or of any Bathz to commence further operations,” I considerable part of it, was indeed pracii- feel confident that I shall have no difficul. cable; but in expressing my wish, Ity in proving, in direct contradiction to meant to represent il to be more of a mi. the assertion in lord Chatham's Statement, litary than a naval question, and I never that the delay did in no shape rest with presumed to set my opinion upon that me, or depend upon any arrangements in subject against the professional opinion which the navy was exclusively concerned, of the army, still less to impute any mis- but that on the contrary every facility conduct or blame as attaching to their de- was afforded by the navy towards accele termination, that such an attack was not rating the movement of the army, and advisable.-When all these circumstances, every exertion used by all those under my their publicity, and my readiness at all command in the various and complicated times to do justice in this respect to the services entrusted to them. army, are considered; I cannot think that I have in vain endeavoured to ascertain a misinterpretation of the general expres the foundation upon which the assertion sion in a public official letter could even rests, that it " was distinctly agreed upon palliate, much less justify, the secret at- that a vigorous attack by the navy upon tack which has been made upon my cha- the sea front should be made at the same racter and conduct.-With these general time that the troops after effecting their observations I submit to their lordships landing advanced to invest Flushing, it that it is much more easy to answer direct being hoped that by a powerful co-operacharges than indirect insinuations, and I tion from the sea at the moment the troops trust they will therefore excuse my trou: presented themselves before the place, the bling them at greater lengih than I should labour and delay of a regular siege might otherwise have thought necessary. I have, have been avoided.” I cannot find any &c.

R. J. Strachan. instructions, orders, letters or communicaNo. III.- Rear Admiral Sir R. J. Stra- tions, either previous to our departure from No. III.- Rear Admiral Sir R. J. Stra: the Downs or subsequent, alluding to any

chan's OBSERVATIONS on the Earl
of Chatham's STATEMENT of his Pro- such agreement, and can have no difficulty,
ceedings dated 15th October 1809,

not merely in asterting that no such agreepresented to the King 14th February of the thing itself it is quite impossible

înent was made, but that from the nature 1910.-London, 5th March 1810.

that any such agreement could have been Upon the first point to which lord Chat- made. ham in his Narrative has called his Ma. It certainly was in contemplation, if · jesty's attention, namely, “the ground the enemy's fleet had remained in the upon which after the army was at length lower part of the river, more particularly assembled near Bathz a landing in prose in the vicinity of Flushing, to have pushed cution of the ulterior objects of the Ex- a fleet of line-of-battle ships in the Scheldt pedition was not deemed advisable,” it to attack them, and a squadron for that would be improper for me to make any purpose among other objects was ready observation, because the reasons which under the orders of lord Gardner. Wiin are said to have rendered it “ clear and that squadron I intended to have proceed. ed to the attack of the enemy's fleet if it ever I thought it my duty to state in my had not retreated up the river before the lettei of the sth of August my readiness armament arrived on the coast of Zealand. I to "act under a previous concert for co

It was also in my contemplation by operation with the army in such a plan of means of that squadron to co-operate with attack as might accelerate the surrender of the army in any attack upon Flushing Flushing.". wherein the assistance of the navy should But such a proposal, in point of fact, be thought desirable. This is proved by was not made to me; from whence I must my orders to lord Gardner of the both and conclude, that it was not thought to offer 20th of July; but it is so far from being any rational prospect of adequate advantrue that this view of mine was the result tage. A concerted and combined attack, of any agreement preconcerted with lord it should seem, was thought hopeless until Chatham, as the Statement seems to im. the land batteries should be in a condition ply, that the first spontaneous offer of such to act; but that a " vigorous attack by co-operation on my part was passed by the navy upon the sea front, an attack without any immediate notice by his lord- undertaken at the moment the troops pre. ship. This offer was contained in my let. sented themselves before the place," ter of the 8th of August, to which I shall would have afforded reasonable grounds shortly have occasion to allude.

of hope ; although it is evident that in For particulars of the co-operation and this case the enemy, after simply shutting assistance actually afforded by the navy their gates against the army, whose musin the commencement of our operations, I quetry unassisted by great guns could may refer to the last paragraph of lord have done little mischief to the garrison, Chatham's dispatch of the 23 August. would have directed their whole fire

In answer to the imputation of miscon- against us, and having crippled a part of duct thrown upon me for not having our fleet, would have been still able to realized the hopes that by a powerful impose upon our troops the labour and co-operation from the sea at the moment delay of a regular siege. the troops presented then:selves before the I will next advert to the charges or inplace, the labour and delay of a regular sinuations, in relation to my conduct, in siege might have been avoided,” it is per- having failed “ in performance of an assuhaps sufficient to state, that such a hope rance that the whole of the armament must appear very chimerical cxcept upon should be at once transported up the one or two suppositions. If the command. Scheldt,” in having adopted a measure er in chief, from a conviction that the which though of great advantage as apworks of Flushing on the land side were plied to the division intended for the ateither too weak or too extensive, or man- tack of Walcheren, was not a little at varis ned by a garrison too inadequate to resistance with the leading purpose of the Ex. a sudden and general assault, bad proposed pedition, namely the running with the a simultaneous attack from the line-of-bat- right wing, and the advance of the army tle ships, our fire might certainly have at once up the Scheldt. contributed to the success of such a pro

These observations are accompanied ject; but an enterprise so desperate as with a denial that even this change in the this, under the well ascertained circum- / destination of part of the fleet from the stances of the fortress and garrison, can West to the East Scheldt, “ would bare never bave been for a moment in conten delayed the advance more than three or plation.

four days;" a remark in which I entirely If for the purpose of sparing to bis concur with lord Chatham, though on army the labour and delay of a regular grounds very different from those assumed siege, the commander in chief had wished in the Statement. to make his attack on the sea front, to em. Upon this part of the case I must recur bark the assailing army in the boats of shortly to the original discussions, and the fleet, and to land them under the pro- plans, relating to the Expedition, and the tection of our ships of the line, I need only circumstances under which we arrived at say that I was perfectly ready to share Walcheren.. the hazards of such an attack, and that the It had been at one time proposed before ships were prepared for the service. It we quitted Londlop to land the whole army could not be for me to suggest such a mea- in Tholen and South Beveland, as presentsure, which of course must originate with ing fewer difficulties than the navigation the commander in chief, to whom how- of the Scheldt, which under the most fa. dum,

[ocr errors]


cupy Cadsand.

vourable circumstances must always be. I do not believe that the Breskens battery liable to various contingencies. This pro- had occurred to any person until I stated posal was, I understand, a good deal dis- in the printed secret circular memorancussed, and on this point it is only neces- is that the first thing the enemy sary to refer to my instructions to sir R. ought to do would be to erect a mortar Keats, where he was directed to give every and furnace battery at Breskens, &c.” I assistance in transporting the troops to never heard a wish on the subject of passSouth Beveland and Tholen.

ing the Breskens battery, and I do think Another plan had been proposed of dis- it had been represented to me as so exembarking in the Slough, marching across tremely strong I should have urged the South Beveland, embarking again at Bathz, propriety of landing below it, and taking and landing at Santvliet.

it in reverse in preference to the risk This plan appeared to be approved by which the troops in transports would be many good judges of military operations, subjected to by passing it.' The engineer for one proof of which I may refer to the in minutes of evidence, says " the batMinutes of Evidence.

teries appeared to me to have very little The third plan which was suggested as strength, the batteries appeared to me to preferable to either of the former, provid- be open batteries." ed we met with no obstacles was to pro- I refer to these Minutes of Evidence ceed directly up the West Scheldt, and merely as proofs of the inaccuracy of the this was ultimately adopted, because by Statement. keeping the troops in the transports it I selected commodore Owen, an of. promised to preserve them in a more effi- ficer of great intelligence and profescient state until their immediate service sional talent, for the purpose co-opeshould be called for. To this arrangement rating with the marquis of Huntley; I the command of the Wieling passage was gave him every latitude of discretion; the thought to be necessary, for which reason quarter master general sent lord Huntley a respectable force was destined to oc. a copy of the commodore's instructions,

and I apprehend there is no position or Speaking of the failure of the attack on part of the beach between Sluys and the Cadsand, lord Chatham says, “ in the first Ghent Canal on which he would not have place the beach was so exposed that in attempted to effect a landing if any problowing weather it was found impossible position or request had been made by lord to land.” Secondly, • From what cause

Huntley to that effect. I know not, the marquis of Huntley's di- I only require on this point that a disvision could not be taken up in the first in- passionate attention should be paid to my stance high enough to attack the Breskins orders; that my letter of the 20th July to battery, the only one from its situation of lord Gardner, coupled with that of the much importance.” Lastly, “Commodore 16th, should be read with attention; and Owen appears to have experienced great that a reference should be made to the disappointment in not having the support evidence of commodore Owen and the of lord Gardner's fleet and his boats."

marquis of Huntley, which I think will I trust that I shall be able to answer in unequivocally prove, that no application a very few words the preceding insinua- was ever made to'me for a proportion of tions. I confess that I was aware of the boats beyond what was carried by comimportance of Cadsand before we sailed modore Owen's squadron. from England ; lord Chatham from being Our original determination of landing impressed with the same idea was induced in Zoutland Bay was laid aside in conseto send over an engineer (capt. Paisley) quence of intelligence received at Deal of to report on the practicability of effecting the preparation of the enemy on that part a landing on the beach.

The same en- of the coast, and a memoir was drawn up gineer in his evidence and speaking of on this subject which was submitted to the time to which lord Chatham alludes, lord Chatham and lord Castlereagh, and when he

says, (the beach was so expos. approved of by both; and it was conseed, &c;") answers, it appears to me quently determined to land on Domburgh there was no difficulty in landing unless Beach; but on our arrival at Walcheren, what might arise from the enemy having the surf was found to be so heavy on Doma greater force than we could oppose to burgh Beach, in consequence of a strong them in the first instance; of the enemy's westerly wind, that landing there was imforce I am not a judge.”.

possible; it became therefore absolutely TOL, XVI,

4 C

[ocr errors]

necessary to take shelter in the Roompot | water for the transports and victoallers and Veergat, and the constant succession which must necessarily attend this service, of gales for many days after our arrival, it is now judged most adviseable that the made it impossible, independently of other operation should take place by the Veer obstacles, to recur to the original inten. Passage." tion of entering the western mouth of the Now the only imaginable impediments Scheldt.

to the further progress of our army must Upon the change in our measures, have been apprehended either from a miwhich was thus forced upon us by the un- litary force of the enemy_occupying toward state of the weather, I must here South Beveland, or from the French fleet beg leave to offer a very few remarks in the West Scheldt, or from the enemy's It is admitted by lord Chatham to have flotilla ; but the corps of sir J. Hope bebeen in some respects advantageous, by came possessed of the whole of South placing the transports and small craft in a Beveland on the 2d August. The French place of security, and by facilitating the fleet had retired beyond the boom of Lillo disembarkation of the troops on the Bree- on the 1st August, from the enemy's floSand.

tilla which was unable to prevent the His lordship further states, that by this corps under sir J. Hope from taking poschange of the destination of the fleet the session of Bathz, or to regain possession of occupation of Cadsand became unneces. it before the greater part of the guns sary, and that if it could have been ac- which had been previously spiked were complished, it would have occasioned a rendered serviceable, and which on the very inconvenient separation of our force. first appearance of the British flotilla reOn the other hand, this change of desti- tired in confusion, and never afterwards nation necessarily tended to produce some repassed the boom of Lillo, no opposition delay in the naval operations, by forcing to the movements of the army could at us to proceed by a circuitous instcad of a any time have been reasonably appredirect navigation; but the main question hended. is, how far it necessarily tended to retard With respect to the immediate difficul. the attainment of the ulterior objects of ties which may have operated as an obthe Expedition.

jection to the disembarkation of the troops , I have already stated, that for the pur on South Beveland, and to their subsepose of attaining those objects three plans quent march across that island, I need had been proposed, the last of which, as only refer to the opinions of the naval I conceived, had been selected as the most officers who were employed in the Slough, advantageous, only upon the supposition by which I think it will appear that of our encountering no obstacle to the na- 20,000 men and 4,000 horses might have vigation of the whole fleet up the West been landed from the Slough in 46 hours, Scheldt. Now the Weiling Channel had that cavalry and ordnance horses might been rendered inaccessible to us by our easily perform this march from the Slough failure at Cadsand, and consequently our to Bathz in 36 hours, the distance being expectations in this respect 'had been from 30 to 35 miles. With regard to are wholly overthrown, and the ground of tillery, it was stated by sir J. Hope, in preference on which the third plan had answer to a question as to the number of been adopted was in course removed ; guns found in Bathz and Waerden which but it is evident that the practicability of might have been used for the ulterior obthe first plan which proposed to carry the jects, that there were 12 24-pounders in army through the East Scheldt to Tholen, the battery at Waerden, and 14 or 15 at or that of the second, according to which Bathz, all of which, as the general bethe troops were to have been landed on lieved, were on travelling carriages. I South Beveland and to have proceeded to might add that the quantity of ordnance Bathz, could not be materially affected by and ordnance stores taken on the island, the enemy's possession of Cadsand, or at as appears by the return in Journal Army all by the circumstance of our fleet being Proceedings, was such as I should supcompelled by stress of weather to take pose to be sufficient for all the possible shelier in the Veer Gat; on the contrary wants of the army. it will appear by the military instructions When, therefore, lord Chatham conto sir J. Hope that the navigation of tends in his Statement that the second the East Scheldt being little understood, point, namely, "why the army was not and whether there was sufficient depth of brought up sooner to the destination from

« AnteriorContinuar »