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Flanders, he proceeded to consider the as transports were a great impediment to chances of success in the other mode of promptiiude and attack, and that as the proceeding. He supposed Walcheren season was advancing, the Expedition and the other Islands betwen the East and should be ready to sail by the 26th or the West Scheldt to be previously reduced, 27th of June, about the time of the full and then went on to say respecting the moon. Here, then, was their first naval great object of attacking Antwerp: opinion treated with the same disregard
“ Should this operation (meaning the as those of their military advisers; first, attempt to capture the Islands between the ships of war were not to proceed up the East and West Scheldt,) succeed, and the Scheldt, and the hopes of promptitude a considerable quantity of schuyts and were increased by the vast number of boats be collected, it might then be in- horses that were sent out, as well as by vestigated how far it was practicable to not dispatching the Expedition, which take advantage of a flowing tide; and by ought to have sailed on the 27th June, an embarkation from the point of South untill the 28th July. Sir Richard Strachan, Beveland, highest up the river, attempt with whom they next advised, assured the Antwerp by a coup-de-main, landing, at noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, the same time, smaller bodies of troops that he entertained little prospect of ul. at Zandvliet on the right, and some cor- timate success at Antwerp. In his conresponding point on the left bank of the versation with lord Mulgrave, he perScheldt, to spread alarm ; and operate as ceived that his lordship did not then know a diversion in favour of the main opera- that the French ships could go above tion.
Antwerp. When asked whether he had «The flotilla on its progress up the
ever any communication either with lords Scheldt would necessarily be accompanied Castlereagh or Mulgrave relative to the by gun boats, which should attempt to difficulties he might be subject to in going check the forts and batteries on either up to Antwerp, he said that he did not side of the river. The capture of forts recollect that they communicated to bim Lillo and Liefkenshoeik would be of great any thing upon the subject, but he reimportance to the security of retreat. membered that when he remarked, that
“ Such an operation, it is evident, all he thought could be done would be would be attended with great risk to the taking Walcheren, the noble lord at the force employed, without, perhaps, any head of the Admiralty replied, in antiadequate security to the attainment of cipation of what I trust the constitutional its object."
organ of the nation will at the end of this Here, then, were five military opinions, discussion declare, that the country would four of them decidedly adverse, and the be little satisfied with such an extensive fifth not favourable to the Expedition. armament doing nothing more than taking Having thus bottomed their project upon Walcheren. Upon the repetition of his the opinions of five military officers, his fears, the noble lord assured bin that he Majesty's Government next applied to had the fullest confidence of snccess, and two naval officers, sir Home Popham and that he had reason to think they should sir Richard Strachan. In sir Home Pop-do very well. ham's interview with lord Mulgrave, he In developing the consequences which stated, that he conceived there were followed this ruinous ministerial project, greater objects in view than the possession it was most natural to enquire, and if of Walcheren..-Indeed it was perfectly sible to ascertain, first, whether there was plain from the equipments of the Expedi- any settled plan of operations at all, and tion, that it was principally intended for secondly, whether there had been any the ulterior object of destroying the naval plan concurred in by the different depart. resources and arsenals of the enemy; but ments of the cabinet, and fully communi. even if any doubt existed before, it must cated to the officers entrusted with the have been wholly dissipated by the opi. command? He must confess that, with all nions of the military officers, who all con- his anxiety to learn, and all his industry curred in considering the great and ulti- to obtain the information, he was yet to male object of the Expedition to be the hear what was the nature of the arrangeattack upon Antwerp. In the memoran. ment proposed. Were he to deliver his da of sir Home Popham, he particularly own conviction, it would be that there presses two points, namely, that the were as many plans as there were departtroops should be embarked in ships of war, menţs engaged in the Expedition ;-that the noble lord (Castlereagh) had his plan | rior, simultaneous, subsequent operation !" —that the admiralty had theirs, and that
at | --Now
to have any chance of success, it the right hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Per- was necessary that the main body should ceval) had his, each distinct from the have got to Santvliet as speedily as poso:her. The plan of the noble lord, if one sible; and accordingly four days were might guess from the outline, was to make calculated for its passage from the Downs a dash, wbich disdained to stop at even to Santvliet. Sir R. Sirachan bad said, the most desperate risks, and appalling that if wind and weather were favourable, dangers. The plan of the admiralty, it might be done in a week; but after all, at least fixed upon at the sailing, though with every precaution that could have hostile to the romantic notions of the noble been takeri, some vessels were behind, and lord, was much more prudent. It would some had been stranded. In addition to not hazard the navy in a most intricate that cause of delay, it was found quite navigation. The right hon. the Chancel necessary to take South Beveland, since lor of the Exchequer's plan was not how the enemy had batteries on that island all he should support the cause of his allies ; up the river as far as it extended; and, not how the operations of the Expedition besides, Bathz might have been expected should affect the scale of the war in Ger- to hold out for some time. The noble many ; not bow it should tend to turn in lord then referred to a letter of lord Cas. favour of Austria, the equally poised for- tlereagh to the commander in chief, of the tune of that awful campaign, but all his 23d of June, stating that on the 21st he attention was absorbed in calculating upon had received the King's pleasure that the that arrangement which should convey Expedition should go forward. The aryour Expedition with tbe least possible dent zeal of the secretary of state had quantity of dollars. The right hon. gent. outrun the royal sanction ; for he had, totally overlooked that axiom in war, that previously to obtaining it, directed sir D. bullion was as necessary as powder and Dundas to hold the army in readiness. shot, and was, when well applied, not less The great objects of the Expedition were operative. (Hear, hear!) What plan the stated to be, the capture or destruction of secretary of state for foreign affairs was the enemy's ships at Antwerp, at Terneuse, more particularly attached to, he could and in the Scheldt, and, if possible, the not tell; but it was probable, that just at rendering of the river Scheldt no longer that time, he had some little plan of his navigable; and this they now told vs was own which he did not communicate to his to be done by a coup-de-main. He doubted colleagues. The admiral appeared to much, after all, that there were in existhave a plan; but the commander in chief ence such arsenals as those at Terneuse appeared to have no plan at all. Through here directed to be destroyed. As for out the whole of his examination it was the “ powerful diversion in favour of our clear that he had at no time during the allies," how could the noble lord expect campaign considered of any plan at all, it to be so, when he knew, that, after the neither was there any pointed out to him coup-de-main, our force, for want of foin the instructions of the government ? reign coin, must return immediately? The noble lord bere declared that he felt This was the object on which the eyes of it difficult to settle what plan he should his Majestyos ministers had been fixed for proceed to discuss on the present occasion; so long a period. As to the scheme of but he should at all events endeavour to destroying the navigation of the Scheldt, follow up what seemed to have been the it was impracticable. intention of the government. The gene- The noble secretary of state, however, ral understanding of the business seemed hoped confidently that all the difficulties to be, that part of our army was in the would be overcome. How ? Not by me. first instance to take possession of the thods provided or foreseen by government, island of Walcheren, and another corps to but forsooth, by the valour and energy of take Cadsand. The main body was to ad- bis Majesty's troops. He could not, howa vance to Santvliet to about the number of ever in this place omit a principal point, 12,001), including however eight detach- the probability of those ships being proments to be sent to South Beveland. This tected by the enemy. And here for the was so far the apparent plan, which, how- first time the noble lord prudently consiever, related, according to some of the dered difficulties and possible failure, and documents before the House, in not very yet pointed out no method by which to intelligible language, to “ a second, ulte- overcome them. He had however fole
lowed this consideration of difficulties up gun-boats. He armed but six and twenty by saying, although the objects of our Ex- of them in one day. His Majesty's mi, pedition could be removed farther from us nisters, in their calculations, had reckoned at the discretion of the enemy, yet upon on no such impediments ; there was to be the whole it was deemed necessary to recom- the easiest and quickest of passages over, mend the undertaking of the Expedition. and on the land there were to be found
The House should bear in mind, that we the most excellent roads. They calcucould not go from Santvliet to Antwerp lated the progress of the Expedition by a with safety, but with the possession of sort of time-keeper without friction; but one of the banks of the Scheldt. . The a little friction occurred on entering into north bank of that river, and the posses. the Scheldt, which they never dreamed of: sion of South Beveland, were also thought a ship laden with guns to arm the gunto be indispensable. Sir H. Popham liad boats was behind hand, and impeded their given it as his opinion, that with every proceedings. circumstance of wind, &c. being favour
came to the intelligence able, we might be on the coast from the submitted to the secret Coinmittee; Downs in 24 hours, and in 48 hours after- a person it appeared whom
ministers wards at San.vliet. Sir R trachan bad represented one well acquainted said, that we could not do it without great with the navigation of the Schelut, danger and loss to our ships and boats and worthy of the firmest reliance being from Batbız, which must therefore be placed on his statements, described the taken, and where sir J. Hope had stated, Slough Passage as difficult for even small that there were 14 or 15 guns mounted single vessels, and declared it to be neSouth Beveland and Baihz must therefore cessary to have a pilot in every line-ofhave been taken. Sir R. Keats, one of the battle ship and frigate in order io effect most experienced naval oslicers, held a that passage with safety. How were our high coinmand in the Expedition ; but it fleet provided in this respect? They had did not appear that he was in any respect only one pilot; and sir R. Strachan de. ever previously consulted. That gallant clared that he could not get one bold ofliccr nevertheless had made a communi- enough to venture to carry his ship safe cation to lord Casılereagh, who shewed up this dangerous and difficult navigation. but little disposition to consult with him. It was true the river might be buoyed, Sir R. Keats, ii scemed, was in favour of but this would occupy a week, and preproceeding to the ulterior objects at once, clude all possibility of a rapid advance. and against wasting time or troops in Wal- It also appeared, liom the testimony of cheren: This circumstance would prove this person, that it was only possible to material, in some respects, in reviewing proceed to Bathz with the wind in two the whole case. W'ben asked as to the points of the compass, between the South time that might be occupied in advancing and West, and perhaps with a scant wind to Antwerp, the main object of the Expe- | in two other points. But ministers did dition, sir. Richard said it depended en- not care for these difficulties; they protirely on the state of the weather, and was ceeded, as if they could have relays of subject to many chances; that if Bailz favourable winds at every corner of this were defended, it might have retarded winding river. The time necessary to the Expedition a few days : That unless take possession of South Beveland, and we landed with great celerity, the efforts to reduce Bathz, they left entirely out of the enemy might make ultimate success of their consideration. Sir John Hope doubtful, and even though we arrived in had declared, that it might have held out time off Santvliet, yet the nature of the Ex- several days, if defended, and in this pedition was peculiarly subject to chances; opinion he was confirmed by lord Rossand the probability was, that those chances lyn. The speedy surrender of both might happen which would render success these places therefore was very unexvery uncertain. He said likewise that we pected, and could never have been anticould not go up the Scheldt with less than cipated in any preliminary view taken eighty gun-boats, to enable us to cope by ministers, if they did ever take any with the numerous French flotilla in that preliminary general view of the matter. river. You might pass over from Deal to Bathz in particular was capable of a re• Santvliet in four days, but you are re- sistance sufficiently long to have disconminded by sir Richard, that you must certed their whole plan of operations. -stop in the Scheldt and wait to arm your Lillo and Liefkensboeik were also by many deemed indispensable and capable ininistry. Some facts, indeed, and those of similar resistance. To man the flotilla of importance, the noble earl had stated in the river-to take possession of Beve- to the House; one of which was, that land—to reduce Bathz-and to have wind you could not proceed up the Scheldt, and weather for all occasions, presented unless you bad the advantage of a westto our ministers neither difficulty nor erly wind: and he had also added, that subject for deliberation. General Brown- with that desired westerly wind you were rigg, who seemed somewhat to participate under the necessity of meeting with a high in the sanguine expectations of lord surf, that rendered your landing exCastlereagh, in his evidence, stated, that, iremely difficult. Being asked further if the army could have landed on the 1st, respecting the difficulties of going up the 2nd, or 3rd, of August, they might have river Scheldt, he had told them, that he been successful. Being further examined, had always understood that the entering he said, that, taking possession of Cad. and advancing with an armament up a sand would be but the work of an hour. winding river, where navigation was not But be, like ministers, forgot that the perfectly known to those who wished to north-western wind, an unruly spirit, go up, was an undertaking of very great must blow before they could undertake or dificulty and of danger. His lordship, attempt to accomplish their object. Gen. however, had further stated and seemed Brownrigs, imputed the failure of the astonished at any question being put to whole to the unfortunate necessity which him on the subject, that in his opinion it obliged the armament to take shelter and was not possible to have landed the army assemble in the Roompot. Lord Castle with its artillery, its stores, &c. at Santreagh, when examined, would not fix vliet on the sixth ; but general Macleod dates so nearly as general Brownrigs; and general Fyers thought of being bebut he was of opinion, that, under favour- ing before Antwerp on the 10th, and preable circumstances, the armament might sumed the landing at Santvliet on the 4th. have arrived early, and been succesful. The House then would see how these great On being questioned as to the force and characters agreed as to the efficiency of dispositions of the enemy, his answer was, the means, and the practicability of the that he could not presume to judge what object. might be the movements of the enemy. He had thus endeavoured to shew, that As a member of that Ilouse the noble four days were not sufficient for the purlord might have declined answering this pose intended, and in this his opinion he question, when pressed on him, but since was corroborated by that of the earl of he had answered it, he stood condemned Chatham, the commander in chief; but out of his own mouth.-What! was he ministers had evidently calculated, withnot to calculate on the resistance likely to out considering any of the three or four be offered to his Expedition to ascertain preliminary circumstances (which he had as far as possible, the movements likely, already noticed) and an intricate, danor in the power of the enemy to be made? gerous, and difficult navigation. The Was he to send troops, not alone to learn same sort of rashness and precipitation whether they could proceed, but wherher which was evident in the plan of minis. they could ever return? This was a point ters, was also a distinguished feature in he ought most decidedly to have ascer- the mode of carrying it into execution. tained, as the fate of the army, of the They had formed a great plan for attackExpedition, and eventually of the kinging Antwerp, for the capture and destruc. dom, whose last and greatest hopes were tion of the French ships, the arsenais, thus embarked upon the issue, depended depots, &c. and various other important upon it.
objects; and yet it was not until after The noble lord (Porchester) came next oriders were given to prepare the troops to the examination and evidence of a for this service, that they had begun to noble earl (Chatham) who was the com- arrange a plan of operations for making mander in chief of this Expedition. The good their entrance into the Scheldt. doble earl was certainly very prudent They never contemplated the obstacles in and cautious in respect to giving any opi- their way, nor the suficiency of the nion; he had no wish to engage in that means of attaining their object. He sort of campaign: but what had come could compare the undertaking to nothing from him was certainly, in its effect, very but the instance of the architect, who was like a sarcasm upon his colleagues in the said to have built his chamber-floor, before he recollected the necessity of plan- , and even by those very ships, which, by ning a stair-case. If the instructions were taking out their guns, could be carried scrutinised, they would be found incon- above the city towards Dendermonde) sistent with the state of the place, and the rockets were to persuade them to those of one officer at variance with those press the military for this surrender! Sir of another. The instructions given to the Home Popham, it appeared, would first marquis of Huntley were in the teeth of mask Lillo; then perhaps, he would what was afterwards performed by the mask Antwerp, and go after the ships and division placed under the command of attack them, if they were moved up the that noble officer.
river. The opinion of gen. Sontag was also In the secret Committee however the pretty sanguine. The general had been, House had been told that our men of war he understood, in foreign as well as in the might pass Flushing; but that transports British service, and was said to have seen could not go by in the face of the enemy's military operations upon a large scale; fire from that place. The naval esta- but his lordship did not know that his blishment at Antwerp, ministers said, had opinion in this case was much better for been growing for years; the late unfor
that circumstance. He had been at tunate attempt had long been with them Antwerp in the times of Pichegru: but a favourite object, and yet they had not they were in this instance only considerattended to the preliminary and indispen- ing the case of an Expedition of 17,000 sable consideration, whether the defences men against Antwerp. The French emof the river Scheldt could be passed, or pire could not have been so low in rewhether they could easily be forced ! spect to military resources in this quarter, (Hear!) The occupation of Cadsand was as to be unable to collect a considerable considered to be essential, and so it was; force speedily from Holland, from Flanand it gave him some kind of pleasure to ders, from Westphalia, or from the vicimention it, because it brought to mind the nity of the capital itself, in a quarter, too, meritorious conduct of part of the naval where it was acknowledged there were service in the affair there. He meant the so many channels of communication. It gallant conduct of captain Hanchett, of was reported that there were very few the Raven sloop of war, who bravely troops left in Antwerp, but was that a engaged the enemies batteries at Flushing sufficient reason for undertaking such an and Cadsand for four hours in protecting Expedition? Why, there might possibly a division of gun boats, and how did he not be more than one regiment in Poris, represent the matter? The shells of Flush- mouth; but would Buonaparté send such ing, said the truly gallant captain, came an Expedition, if he could, to attack aboard him, while the round shot from Portsmouth upon such information ? Could Cadsand went through him! (Hear!) we not, even though, perhaps, we have Sir R. Strachan told them farther, that not above 10,000 regular effective troops in this daring and perilous service the ship in the country, collect our militia and was crippled and grounded! Thus then other means of resistance in sufficient an Expedition had been sent by ministers time and force to defeat his enterprize? Of to force that passage without considering our great arıny not more than 17,000 could the means of effecting it! Then we came ever get to Antwerp; and yet they had at last to Santvliet, another step in this been told, that 40,000 men would be reromance of a campaign; for a romance quisite to besiege it. it was, and, like a very celebrated produc- General Don undoubtedly had said, tion of that nature, contained, anong that great alarm was excited in Antwerp other curious particulars, something about by the terror of the British fleet. As for an attack on a wind-mill. (Hear!). the people the civil inhabitants of Ant
Sir Home Popham had stated, truly werp, they were not so formidable from enough, that fort Lillo was a desirable their numbers. The population, which object in making way to Antwerp; and had long been falling off, could not have that officer seemed to think that the in- received any great recent increase, unless troduction of a few rockets and shells we considered the number of military or would have influence enough with the naval persons stationed there, who were people of that city to induce them to press not ever included in the usual estimate of for the surrender of the place : but it had resident population. Every body knew not been shewy how (commanded as that Antwerp was for a long time past they were by a garrison and a citadel, the monument of departed greatness: