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William Loney RN - Background
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ST. JEAN D'ACRE
May 1853. Warlike rumours. Did not like the idea of being far from the Admiralty, where I had friends. My wife was again established in our pretty cottage at Droxford. The Crosbie family, although separated by marriages, were kind to their invalid sister. A gem of same name, daughter of Lord Brandon, Mrs. Yorke - now a widow -had a son in the Navy.
For neighbours we had Tom Garnier, the kind Dean of Winchester. His son, who was afterwards Dean of Lincoln, married my youngest sister Caroline.
May 21. Captain Sir Baldwin Walker, Comptroller, had built the finest two-decker. The constructor of a new type of ship had generally been allowed to nominate the captain. To Sir Baldwin I was indebted for my appointment to the St. Jean d' Acre, then fitting at Devonport. She was 3400 tons, mounting 101 guns on two decks: crew, with officers and men, 900.
May 23 (Devonport). Acre was commissioned by Commander Peter Cracroft; most of the officers joined in the first week. As this will be the fourth ship my kind readers have helped me to fit out, they should be spared the intricacies of a dockyard. That everything passed pleasantly I have only to mention that my kind friend Commodore Michael Seymour was superintendent, with whose charming family I chiefly lived. Admiral Sir John Ommaney, K.C.B., a rough diamond, was Commander-in-Chief. Miss Ommaney, equally kind, managed the household. Took charge of Bellona hulk.
May 30. Marine artillerymen and seamen, gunners joined from Impregnable, marines from headquarters, making in all 200.
June 4. My old friend, Colonel Yea, and officers of the Royal Fusiliers, who were at Malta when I was in the Childers, kindly made me an honorary member of their mess.
June 15. Admiral came on board to muster and inspect ship's company. Manned yards. Got steam up and successfully tried engines. Got the first of Rodgers's iron-stocked bower anchors at the cat-head, 93 cwts.; neat and serviceable-looking. First experience of coaling. Received 509 tons. Took us five days. Turned over from hulk to ship. Bent sails.
July 30. Slipped moorings, ran out under screw, two miles beyond the Eddystone. 3 P.M. - Returned to the Sound.
September 15. 3 P.M. - Sir James Graham and some Lords of the Admiralty came on board unofficially. Steamed out. Saluting flag of Commander-in-Chief, stood out beyond the Eddystone, and returned to the Sound.
September 19. Commodore Michael Seymour came on board and paid advance.
September 20. 8 A.M. - Weighed, made sail; raised and stowed screw.
September 22. 9 A.M. - Off entrance of Cork Harbour, observing court-martial flag. Stood off until afternoon. On running in and shortening sail, saluted flag of Rear-Admiral Sir William F. Carroll, K.C.B., and made signal, "Where to anchor?" Reply, "Where convenient."
There were nineteen ships, in two lines, composing the Channel Squadron, under Rear-Admiral Sir Armand Lowry Corry. It was slack water, and the ships, although moored, were in various positions. The Gondola, cutter yacht, Lord Lichfield, could scarcely get through. There was no room for us to haul to the wind. The screw was up. Nothing left but to sheet home top and topgallant sails, and run the gauntlet between the lines. As stated, they were across the tide. Several flying and standing jib-booms had narrow escapes. At the end of the lines we anchored.
The Jenny d' Acre, as the seamen called her, got kudos: her performance talked of at the clubs in London. On one occasion Lord Adolphus FitzClarence remarked on the great advantage of an auxiliary screw. To which Sir James Graham replied, "Hang the fellow! He had no screw down!"
Friend Brierly was on board, and made a very clever sketch of Gondola and the Acre.
September 30. Fleet weighed, outermost ships first. Steamed and sailed out of harbour. On getting outside we found Agamemnon, 91, screw steamship, Captain Sir Thomas Maitland, Commander Robert Hall; Hogue, 60, Captain William Ramsay; Blenheim, 60, Captain Hon. Frederick T. Pelham; Imperieuse, 50, screw steam frigate, Captain Rundle B. Watson (Viscount Gilford, a lieutenant); Tribune, 30, screw steam frigate, Captain Hon. S.T. Carnegie; Vulture, 6, steam frigate, Captain Fred. H.H. Glasse; Desperate, 8, screw steam ship, Captain William W. Chambers; and Sidon, 22, paddle wheel, Captain George Goldsmith. Parted company.
Remainder formed in two divisions - WEATHER: consisting of Prince Regent (flag), 90, Captain Frederick Hutton; St. Jean d' Acre, 101; Amphion, 34, screw steam frigate, Captain Astley C. Key; Highflyer, 21, screw steam frigate, Captain John Moore. LEE DIVISION: Duke of Wellington, 130, screw steamship, Commodore Henry B. Martin; London, 90, Captain Charles Eden; Arrogant, 47, screw steamship, Captain Hastings R. Yelverton; Valorous, 16, Captain Claude Buckle.
October 3. 8 A.M. - Made all plain sail to try rate of sailing (per signal) on a wind. Trial chiefly between the Duke of Wellington and St. Jean d' Acre, in which the latter had the advantage, a trifle only; the rest nowhere. Acre requiring trifle more false keel! 5 P.M. - Formed order of sailing.
October 5. Tried rate of sailing off the wind, in which St. Jean d' Acre was best.
October 8. 9 A.M. - Got steam up. Admiral on board. Hoisted his flag. Tried speed with Duke of Wellington - about equal. Engineers complaining of the coals. 2 P.M. - Admiral returned to his ship, taking flag with him.
October 10. 9.30 A.M. - Laid out targets. Fleet exercised at general quarters, firing at a mark.
October 12. 10 A.M. - Got steam up to try rate with Duke of Wellington under steam and canvas together; just as we got our steam well up, Duke broke down.
October 17. At Admiralty: met Sir Edmund Lyons, who had been promised a command. He was trying to find out what ship they would give him. He was just then the only flag officer I would care to serve in the capacity of flag captain, and offered ship and self for that purpose. On ascertaining that I really meant what I said, he appeared to be equally satisfied and went direct to the First Lord, but without success.
October 18. Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane visited and inspected without notice.
October 25. 4 P.M. - Weighed. Steamed into Portsmouth Harbour and secured alongside Camperdown.
November 25. Not sorry to receive enclosed:-
ADMIRALTY, Nov. 10, 1853.
MY DEAR KEPPEL - When St. Jean d' Acre is ready for sea you will be ordered on a cruise to the southward in order that you may get your ship's company into proper training, and I quite agree with you of the necessity for doing so.
-Always yours sincerely,
November 14. Turned over to hulk.
November 15. In steam basin, additional false keel having been placed from 3 inches forward to 9 abaft, exactly what I wanted.
November 19. Noon. - Ship out of basin to hulk. Steam up at 9 A.M. for amusement of dockyard officials. Ship coaling. Cleaning hulk, and shifting over.
November 26. Dressed ship masthead flags. Ships in harbour manning yards and saluting on Her Majesty's embarking from Royal Clarence Victualling Yard. Ships at Spithead doing same on Fairy passing through en route to Osborne.
December 3. 11.20 A.M. - Cast off from hulk and steamed out of harbour. Saluted flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane. Proceeded to Stokes Bay. Tried speed under steam at measured mile. Mean of six trials just under 12 knots per hour. 3.30 P.M. - Came to at Spithead.
December 5. Got on board powder and shell. Received supernumeraries for fleet at Lisbon.
December 6. 3 P.M. - Weighed and made sail, standing towards St. Helens.
December 12. Commodore-Superintendent Michael Seymour came on board and paid advance to newly raised men. Crew complete. 7 P.M. - Weighed; made sail and stood out of the Sound to join fleet in Tagus.
December 18 (off Tagus). Took pilot on board and ran into the Tagus by northern passage. Pilot informing me there was no quarantine, ran past Belem without picking up health boat. 3 P.M. - Shortened, and while furling sails, signal from flag to take up a different berth from that for which we were prepared.
Being carried up by the tide, and but little steerage way, had difficulty in clearing Imperieuse, and in swinging carried away Desperate's jibboom. Placed in quarantine. Signal from flag to "Moor". When completed, signal to "Weigh immediately and proceed to Belem." Before under weigh, another signal, "Despatch is necessary." Wind failing and flood making, came to in centre of stream.
December 19 (Lisbon). Daylight. - Weighed and dropped down to Belem. Fleet in river, consisting of Prince Regent, flag; Duke of Wellington, Commodore H. Martin; Imperieuse, Arrogant, Tribune, Valorous, Desperate, Odin, Amphion and Cruizer.
December 20. Having got pratique, 2 P.M., weighed and made sail. Worked up. Fired two royal salutes, in company with the fleet, on the young King of Portugal visiting and leaving. 4.30. - Came to, as per signal, in 26 fathoms, Packet Stairs, N.E. by E. Measles in the ship; sent cases to hospital.
December 24. Light and contrary winds with falling tides. Signal made for particular ships to weigh. 10.40 A.M. - Weighed to allow Duke of Wellington to pass clear. At 11, having water-tank alongside, came to in 22 fathoms. Fleet under way, working down. Breeze freshening, found ship dragging anchor. Stood as close as we could, with safety, in-shore to get out of the way.
Desperate missing stays, and having got stem way fell thwart our hawse, carrying away mainmast and portion of her bulwarks, we losing jib and flying jibboom, and bowsprit cap starting. After this and other mishaps, fleet came to an anchor. Chief more at home in Cowes Roads.
December 28 (off Lisbon) 11.30. - Weighed. Noon. - Made sail, running down the Tagus for a month's cruising for the purpose of exercising newly raised men. Cruising ground between Cape Roca and Madeira. Wind blowing fresh from the N.E., made for the islands.
December 31. 1 P.M. - Came to in 40 fathoms, Funchal Roads. Saluted the Portuguese flag.
St. Jean d'Acre - CRUISING
January 2, 1854 (Madeira). Many friends on shore, besides residents; among them Frederick Grey, with his charming but invalid wife. My intention was, weather permitting, to anchor in the Roads on Saturdays, remain Sundays, and proceed on a cruise Monday mornings. Among sailing and yachting friends was Sir Charles Lyall, requiring change of air.
Frederick Grey had brought his wife, but she was delicate, and preferred the shore; in such an open anchorage the swell is uncertain. Regular exercise improved health and strength of crew. We sometimes anchored among the Deserter Islands. On Saturdays, if smooth, the poor invalid ladies, mostly young and consumptive, used to come on board in charge of their doctors. Music was always at hand, and very willing partners.
It was pitiable to see the pretty girls, with that sad hectic flush on the cheek, pleading with their doctors for "one, only one" quadrille, and the doctors reminding their patients of the one month, or so many weeks, they had to live, and that each dance would shorten life so many days. Most of the poor dears preferred the dance.
January 13. Anchored in Porto Santo, leaving Grey to amuse himself. Started in gig to explore the interior harbour. On nearing the land, found a surf breaking: pulled to the eastward. Approaching the Stone, further on, observed smooth water inside the surf. I entered, pulling a good half mile in perfect safety. We amused ourselves in dredging for shells, etc.
On returning on board found that Fred Grey had watched the gig carefully through my best Dolland. Seeing her disappear behind the surf, he told me that he had written the Admiralty an account of my loss, and requested he might be appointed to the vacancy!
January 14. Weighed at daylight, arriving next day in Funchal Roads.
January 17. Had a party on board to breakfast and dance.
January 19. Weighed and made sail, having been most hospitably entertained during our visit.
Janaury 21. The last month's cruise gave me thorough confidence in the crew. We had throughout the usual exercise before sunset in reefing and other manoeuvres. The officers of the night watches were at liberty to use their discretion in making or shortening sail, reporting any change to the Captain. Weather beautiful. Until midnight I had walked the deck with the officer of the watch. My cot was under the poop.
About an hour after I heard the "pat" of single drops of rain. Recollecting the old saying, "Rain before the wind, take topsails in; wind before the rain, make sail again," I rang the bell for the officer of the watch. He said it was a beautiful night. I cautioned him to keep a good look-out, hands by halyards, etc. Not many minutes after, the three topgallant masts were over the side. The ship was hove to. The wreck was cleared by daylight.
January 23. The wind abated, but not the sea, and, horror of horrors, at daylight the main topmast was found sprung just below the rigging. The main topmast of such a ship was heavy, and with ever so light a swell difficult to control, but I determined to risk the responsibility. The chief danger was, after the head of the new topmast had been passed through the main cap, a lurch might spring the head of the mainmast.
A victory after a fight could not have given me greater pleasure than when the fid was in its place, and support spread like a cobweb. Fair readers, forgive my attempting to describe the event; such a thing can never happen again. Nor should you hear of it now, had I not registered a vow to tell the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me-------." By the 31st we were in Gibraltar Bay, and soon got rid of every vestige of our mishap.
February 4 (Gibraltar). 12.30. - Weighed and steamed out, having received orders to rejoin the Fleet at Lisbon, without delay.
February 5. 3 P.M. - Observed the fleet in the Tagus, Rear-Admiral Corry having shifted his flag from blue to white. 4.30. - Came to in 12 fathoms off Belem Castle, having eight days' quarantine to complete from the time of leaving Gibraltar.
February 12 (Lisbon). 11 A.M. - Weighed, rejoined fleet, came to off Packet Stairs.
February 15. Weighed and made sail as per signal. Hove to for fleet at noon; filled and took station in line-of-battle astern of flag, Duke of Wellington leading division.
February 21 (At sea). 9 A.M. - Fleet formed ahead of lee column. Hove to; laid out targets and exercised at general quarters.
March 1. Arrived Spithead. Found Princess Royal with flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier; Edinburgh, flag of Rear-Admiral Chads; Boscawen, Hogue, Odin, Leopard, Magaera, Dragon, Simoom, and Frolic. 5 P.M. - Sailed Simoom, one of our early magnificent class of transports, with First Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards en route to Crimea. Manned rigging and cheered.
March 2. Completed water. Sent Phipps, one of our promising youngsters, to the hospital. Laid out, and had constant practice at target (an exercise which continued to end of the chapter !).
March 11. 12.30 - The Queen visited the fleet in the Fairy yacht. Cheered from the rigging as Her Majesty passed. Later, signal from the yacht for Admirals and Captains to be presented to Her Majesty by the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Each ship had friends on board. I had my due proportion of visitors. Among them Brierly, nephew Bury; Edward, now Lord Digby; young Harry Stephenson, whose father, my brother-in-law, had quarrelled with me not long before for having offered to take one of his boys to sea. He now was the greatest child, dancing a hornpipe on the forecastle in Hessian boots! His son Harry, too young to enter the Navy, was stowed away, and remained with me, as did Brierly and Bury.
The wind was west-north-west. Made sail before weighing. Yards braced for casting to port. Although on the poop with friends had assumed charge. Signal made, "Fleet to weigh." Her Majesty in yacht ready to lead.
The master at that moment reported there was only one ship's length between us and the head of the Spit. The anchor was already at the cathead. Piped "Belay". "Man starboard braces". As she came head to wind, ran the jibs up, heading towards the Spit. With the stern-way thus secured we were in deep water, and shortly in position next astern of the flag. Old seamen may ask, "Why starboard instead of port braces?"
For increase of purchase I had the head braces, when they reached the main bitts, led across, which was quickly understood by that useful body of men the Royal Marines. When this little manoeuvre was explained, Digby went below and wrote a cheque for £ioo. Never was a tip more welcome. Her Majesty led the fleet as far as the Nab. 2.30. - Hove to. Friends left according to their arrangements as we ran slowly along the coast. Wind fair, weather fine, and constant communication. Many remained until following day. With yachts and pleasure boats it was a grand sight. At 4 P.M. we, by signal, formed into two lines-
|Edinburgh.||Duke of Wellington.|
|Hogue.||St. Jean d' Acre.|
March 12. Hecla joined with Baltic pilots. Rough lot; huge pipes, sealskin caps, and waistcoats!
March 13. Fleet weighed. Proceeded. Dense fog.
March 15. No rendezvous given.
March 16. Admiral firing a gun every fifteen minutes. Fog continuing. Several of the fleet missing.
March 19 (Vinga Sound). Admiral shifted flag to Valorous and proceeded to Copenhagen.
March 22. Sunset.- Valorous returned with Commander-in-Chief, bringing lots of cherry brandy.
March 23. Weighed in company with fleet. Formed prescribed order of sailing, proceeded towards the Great Belt. 3. P.M. - Neptune, with flag of Rear-Admiral Corry, in sight. Salutes exchanged between Admirals. Signal made "Prepare to anchor". The usual routine of manoeuvring, firing at targets, etc., went on. St. Jean d' Acre being one of the few fitted with distilling apparatus, we were constantly supplying other ships with pure water.
April 3 (Kioga Bay). Squally weather. 1.30. - Parted B.B. [best bower (anchor)] cable while veering quickly after letting go, but saved fouling Royal George. Struck topmasts and let go sheet-anchor.
April 4. Succeeded in hooking B.B. cable, but too much swell to weigh. Succeeded later.
April 4. Following communication made from Commander-in-Chief by signal flags from each yard-arm as well as masthead.
"Lads! war is declared; with a bold and numerous enemy to meet.
"Should they offer us battle, you know how to dispose of them.
"Should they remain in port we must try and get at them.
"Success depends on the precision and quickness of your firing.
"Lads ! sharpen your cutlasses, and the day is your own!"
St. Jean d'Acre.
THE BALTIC FLEET
(Kioga Bay). My cabin was the after-part of the main-deck, with its accommodation and comforts; but under the impression that business was intended I did away with luxuries. Instead of drawers I had tin cases to fit neatly overhead between the beams. One quarter-gallery was my bath and dressing-room; no bulkheads of any sort. At dinner-time a temporary canvas-screen fitted, after we went to the stern walk, which did duty of after-cabin. Exercising at quarters, we transferred the foremost guns from each side, and fired them out of my cabin windows.
On visiting Clarence Paget in the Princess Royal I found a cot hung up, with a chubby-faced boy down with fever. It was Victor Montagu, the young son of Lord Sandwich, midshipman and nephew of his captain. We met afterwards in China and elsewhere.
April 12. Daylight. - Fleet weighed and made sail as per signal. In all, 39 pennants.
April 25. Dressed ships with masthead flags in honour of the birthday of the Princess Alice.
May 1. Arrived the Austerlitz, 100 guns, screw propeller, Captain Laurenc,in, the first of the French fleet. She had been several days at different rendezvous. On board was my friend Gizholme of Tahiti as second. Our meeting was cordial: we embraced as Frenchmen. Beyond the exchange of salutes, no further public mark shown of how we appreciated the alliance, but the figureheads, "Napoleon and Wellington", were confronting one another.
May 4 (Elgmabben). Arrived, Captain Henry Seymour, from West Indies and England. We had long been on the look-out for the Cumberland. It was a pleasure and amusement to initiate Seymour into the mysteries of this warlike fleet, which no one seemed to understand. My friend had a charming younger brother, Wilfrid, with him, whose profession had not been decided on. Henry was full of life and spirits, looking forward to great things - yet to be done.
May 5. Fleet weighed as per signal, screws under steam, and proceeded through the Dalärö Channel. Rendezvous Golska Sands. Austerlitz in co. Before the leading ships had reached the Landsort Lighthouse, the whole fleet was enveloped in fog.
May 7. Commander George Wodehouse joined the fleet.
May 8. Intelligence having reached of death from drowning of Captain Foote of the Conflict, the Admiral promoted Commander Cumming of the Gorgon into the vacancy, appointing Commander Cracroft of this ship to the Gorgon; sending the Commander of the Cressy, John Dorville, who was anxious for a change anywhere, to the St. Jean d' Acre; and promoting the first lieutenant of the Duke, an arrangement which appeared to give satisfaction to all parties except myself, who had parted with an esteemed friend and good officer. I was glad, however, to get Dorville.
May 17. A division of ships placed under command of Rear-Admiral Corry. Remainder formed into two lines:-
|Duke of Wellington.||Edinburgh.|
|St. Jean d' Acre||Caesar.|
We used to be next astern of the flag, but I fancy the Chief got tired of our figurehead - a fine half-figure of Sir Robert Stopford - always looking into the stern-windows of his cabin!
(Running for Hangö Island) 11 A.M. - Signal made for us to proceed in chase of a stranger ahead. May 14 having been fixed as the latest day on which neutral vessels quitting a Russian port would be allowed to pass the line of blockade, brought in sight a number of vessels, from whom we obtained accurate information of the position and force of the Russian fleets at Kronstadt and Helsingfors. 8 P.M. - Resumed station in line of battle.
May 18. Signal made for us to look out on starboard beam of flag.
May 19. 7 A.M. - Boarded several vessels that had left Kronstadt or Narva on or before the 14th. 8.30 P.M. - Resumed station.
May 22. Received from the St. George our spare screw propeller, seven tons weight; awkward to stow. Placed it athwart, and between the end of the booms and galley-funnels. Still supplying distilled water!!
May 24. Fired royal salute in commemoration of Her Majesty's birthday.
May 26 (Hangö Roads) 9.30 A.M. - Commander-in-Chief came on board, nominally to inspect, and left again after having made some unjust remarks relative to the gunnery and drill of the ship, such as, if reported to the Admiralty, might be considered by them as an excuse for his having for so long persistently avoided the neighbourhood of the enemy's ships.
June 2. 8.45. - Came to with the fleet in Barosund.
June 3. Arrived Hecla, who supplied us with eight oxen, without fodder! Slaughtered them. Received more potatoes than we could consume.
June 9. Stood out of Barösund.
June 12. 5.30 A.M. - Weighed under steam, standing to the eastward. Imperieuse and Arrogant joined, we being on their cruising-ground. Fleet came to off Helsingfors, from which place, by telescope, the masts of some of the Russian fleet could be seen at anchor in the harbour.
June 13. At 5.30 A.M. - Fleet weighed and made sail. 6.30.—Observed the French fleet to the westward. The French Vice-Admiral, M.P. Deschènes, hoisted the English ensign at the main, and saluted flag of Sir Charles Napier. Salute returned. English fleet saluting French flag. 10. - Shortened and furled; proceeded under steam.
On joining company, found French fleet to consist of the Inflexible, 90, Vice-Admiral Deschènes; Du Guesclin, 90, Rear-Admiral Penana; Hercule, 100, Captain Louien; Jemappes, 100, Captain Robin du Pare; Taga, 100, Captain Fabore; Duperié, 82, Captain Penana; and Trident, 82, Captain F. de Maussion de Condé, with seven frigates, besides steamers. French fleet hove to, while our fleet passed heading into Barösund. Paddle-wheel steamers assisting in towing French fleet in.
1 P.M. - Came to in sixteen fathoms. After the French fleet had anchored, the allied forces in Barösund consisted of 19 English ships of the line (11 of these screws), 8 French ships of the line (1 screw) 4 French, and one English frigate, 13 steamers of both nations. We had also the Belleisle (Hospital) and Resistance, store-ship, making a total of 47 men-of-war. There were in the anchorage Esmeralda, and R.Y.S. Gondola, Lord Lichfield's yacht, besides colliers and transports, making altogether a goodly sight. The French fleet had 2000 marines on board, beyond their complement.
Admiral Sir Charles Napier visited the French Commander-in-Chief in the Inflexible; the French fleet manning yards and cheering. French Vice - Admiral, Parseval Deschènes, returned Sir Charles Napier's visit. The captains of the British ships attended on board the Duke of Wellington, when they were introduced to the French Admiral, and honours paid him similar to those received by Sir Charles Napier. Received powder and shot from Resistance.
Laid out targets at 750 yards, and exercised at general quarters. Practice particularly good at mark - a single staff cut down over and over again. Received shot from Resistance, 10, troop-ship, Master Commander Manser Bradshaw.
June 20. Dressed ship with masthead flags, and at noon both fleets fired a royal salute in honour of anniversary of Her Majesty's accession.
June 24 (Sestran Island) French fleet proceeded to eastward, Admirals communicating, when it was proposed by Parseval Deschènes to Sir Charles Napier that, to prove to the Russians the entente cordiale that existed between our nations, the English screw-liners should each take a French liner in tow, and proceed in line past the Russian forts, the French Admiral, as senior officer, waiving his right of precedence. His proposition was not acceded to by Sir Charles Napier; the excuse that "His Captains were too inexperienced to undertake such an operation!"
June 26 (Off Kronstad) 5 A.M. - Fleet weighed under steam. French fleet in co., proceeding easy to eastward. 11 A.M. -Approached near enough to Kronstadt to observe the mastheads of the Russian fleet and then wore. 1.50. - Came to in 16 fathoms. Anchored in two columns. Frigates and steamers sent to reconnoitre.
June 27. Driver arrived. Cholera made its appearance on board both fleets. Elliot, Clarence Paget, and myself took advantage of a kind invitation from Lord Lichfield for a sail on board the Gondola, as we might run pretty close to the entrance of Kronstadt without attracting attention.
We were some distance inside the Tolbeacon Lighthouse, as were also the cruising frigates, when we observed a large Russian steamer standing out. When it was thought advisable for us to haul to the wind, the sudden change of motion and difference of size of ships had the effect on me of a stomach pump; and when it was reported that the Russian was steering for us, I considered myself a Russian prisoner! However, cruisers quickly discovered our position and ran towards the Russian, which returned to Kronstadt. This led to a report getting into the English papers that we had been chased by the Emperor Nicholas in person.
The Gondola Yacht off Tolbeacon Lighthouse.
June 28. Hoisted masthead flags, and at noon both fleets fired a royal salute in honour of anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation. On these occasions the French and English flags were hoisted together. My distillery was never at rest, supplying fleet with the purest of water.
June 29. 9.30 A.M. - Weighed; made all plain sail for exercise. During our stay off Kronstadt, steamers and boats from the fleet were continually sounding on the north side of the island, thereby pointing out from whence an attack might be expected, when nothing of the sort was ever contemplated.
July 1. There was a creek that ran up a considerable distance to the rear of the Kronstadt Batteries. Scarcely a ship of the line that did not submit to the consideration of the Commander-in-Chief an exact model of the boats and spars, with weight and draught of each, by which heavy ordnance could be conveyed to the rear of the Russian Batteries. The Commander-in-Chief's fore-cabin was half full of these clever and interesting models, which were not even acknowledged.
July 2. 9.30. - Weighed under steam. Fleets in co. 6 P.M. - Came to off Seskan Island.
No encouragement given by Chief to mix with cheery allies.
July 13. Sailed Majestic, on a cruise, being sickly with cholera.
July 21. Admiral Corry returning to England in Dauntless, ships remaining were placed under the orders of Commodore Martin, and proceeded to cruise in the Gulf of Finland. 4.30 P.M. - Arrived Admiral Plumridge in Leopard; with a division of steamers joined company. 7 P.M. - Rounded Lagskar Lighthouse. 9.45. - Came to in 13 fathoms in Ledsund.
July 22. Notice having been received that 10,000 French troops were coming out, preparations were made for an attack on the fort at Bomarsund. The destruction of which might, with little or no difficulty, have been accomplished in the month of April by a division of the British fleet.
At daylight the block-ships and Amphion under Admiral Chads, and steam division under Admiral Plumridge, proceeded towards Bomarsund - a safe channel for ships of any draught having been discovered by Captain William Hall of Hecla, and afterwards buoyed off by Captain Sullivan.
July 24. Marines inspected by Colonel Graham, who pronounced them the finest body of men he had seen in the fleet.
July 31. Four more cholera cases; making us anxious for health of crew. Arrived General Barraguay d'Hilliers and staff in the French Emperor's yacht La Reine Hortense from Stockholm; received him with cheers and yards manned. Visits exchanged between Chiefs and others. Manning of yards.
August 1. French and English Generals and engineer officers visiting Bomarsund to make arrangements prior to attack. Steam vessels constantly on the move between this anchorage and Aland Islands. More cholera cases! Ordered by Commander-in-Chief to send field-pieces, without men, on board Driver for conveyance to Admiral Chads.
August 5. Another death, a marine, from cholera, making, since its first appearance on 27th June, twenty cases, of which twelve proved fatal.
August 6. French ships proceeding towards Bomarsund, four of their largest ships, with both Admirals, besides frigates, steamers, and transports.
August 7. Sent scaling ladders to Bulldog for conveyance to Admiral Chads. General Barraguay d'Hilliers proceeded to Bomarsund in La Reine Hortense. Embarked seventy marines under command of Captain Clavell, and Lieutenants Brooke and Davidson, on board Dawn, in compliance with a request made by Barraguay d'Hilliers, but reluctantly acceded to by Sir Charles Napier, for land service.
Not, as the General informed me, that he required the force, but that he was anxious we should share in all operations; such being the express wish of the French Emperor. Lieutenant Lennox attended as A.D.C. to Colonel Graham. All remaining transports and steamers proceeded up. Commander-in-Chief, attended by the Captain of the Fleet, Rear-Admiral Seymour and suite, hoisted his flag in Bulldog.
Source: Sir Henry Keppel G.C.B., D.C.L.: "A Sailor's Life under Four Sovereigns", Macmillan and Co., 1899, volume II, 208-232.
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