THE NAVAL SOCIETY
(Founded m rgra.)
For Private Circulation.
among its Members.
Cobyrightcd undo- Act o q r r .
A STUDY WAR-IV.
By Admiral Sir R . N.
Custance, G.C.D., K.C.M.G., C.V.O., D.C.L. THE LATESIR JULIAN
CORBETT - -
OUTLINES HISTORY-V. TRADE
By Captain W. H. C. S. Thring, C.B.E., R.A.N.
FROM THE EARLIEST
TIMES THE END OF THE XVIIITH CENTURY.
By Sir Reginald Acland, K.C., Judge Advocate
of the Fleet - - - - - - 41
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THE TIGRISABOVE B.~GHD.~D.By LieUt-come.
A. S. Elwell-Sutton, R.N., B.A., F.R.G.S.
- - - - - I77
Speed of Battleships.
Gliding Flight over the Sea.
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January 22nd, 1923.
A S T U D Y O F WAR.-IV.
BY ADMIRAL R . N. CUSTANCE, B ., K.C.M .G.,
W e kazw seen lhat t h e decisive act in war i s t h e battle, and
t h e decisive factor t h e arnzed force; also that t h e reciprocal
nationul object is security, and t h e reciprocal military a i m i s t o
destroy or to neutralize and to w e a k e n t h e o p p o s i n g armed force.
WEAKEN OPPOSING ~ R M E D
ONE'S O U ~ N .
WE have now to consider the contributory or secondary
military aim which seeks to weaken the armed force of its
opponent and to strengthen its own by impairing or increasing,
as the case may be, the material resources and moral support
upon which those forces depend.'
The resources on which any armed sea, land or air force
depends are man power, accumulated wealth and capacity to
supply food, clothing, weapons, ammunition and all the
appliances required by an armed force, including instruments
of war, whether ships, land craft or aircraft and instruments
By man power is meant the numerical strength, knowledge,
skill, energy, courage and endurance of the nation and its allies,
including not only their armed forces but their unarmed populations which support and minister to the wants of their armed
forces. Hence man power has physical, intellectual, and moral
Physically and intellectually it changes slowly and is
more or less stabilised at any particular time, but morally it is
liable to great fluctuations. The moral stability of man power
depends mainly on faith that the war is fought for a just cause,
that is to say, that the national object is more right than that
of the opponent. 'I'he better cause tends gradually to undermine the worse. I-Ience the effort each side makes to prove
that its own cause is the more just. Numbers not being the sole
measure of man power its real value is not easy to appreciate at
any particular time, which partly accounts for the errors in
judging relative strengths at the opening of every war, as for
Cf 111. above.
instance by Xerxes before his expedition into Hellas in 480 B.C.,'
and by the current opinion of the Russian strength at the
opening of the great German W a r .
During peace the nation supports itself by productive work
and may also accumulate wealth in various forms. But during
war this is sometimes no longer the case, as nearly all work
done by the armed forces, or for them, whether at home or
abroad, is either destructive or unproductive. At home those
who are transferred from the productive work of peace to the
destructive or unproductive work of war have to be supported,
and work done abroad has to be paid for.
accuniulated in the past is usually needed during war to supplement the returns from such productive work as is still done.
Nations possessed of such wealth can use it for that purpose,
as did Athens during the Peloponesian War,z and Great
Britain during the wars with France 1793-1815, and with
Germany 1914-18. Nations with little or no such wealth have
to make good the deficiency from outside sources, such as subsidies or loans from allies, or by plunder from enemies. Thus
during the Ionian W a r 412-04 B.C., the Lacedaemonian Fleet
was maintained by Persian wealth, and after being twice
destroyed in battle was rebuilt by Lysander with the financial aid
of Cyrus the p ~ u n g e r . ~
Similarly during the French wars of
1793-1815 the Continental Allies of Great Britain were financed
by her, while the French armies overran and plundered the
Continental States to supply their own wants.
phenomena were seen during the German W a r 1914-1918.
The natiorial capacity to supply food, clothing, weapons,
equipment and instruments of locomotion varies greatly.
Agricultural and undeveloped countries usually have a surplus
of food and natural products but a deficiency of manufactured
articles, as for example, Russia. lThereas the reverse is often
the case with industrialised and highly developed countries
amply provided with machinery and skilled labour to use it,
as for example, Great Britain. Hence an interchange takes
place constantly during peace and, when possible, during war,
but somewhat changed in character to meet the changed demand.
It will be seen that the resources are partly internal and
partly external. Whatever be their origin, any deficiency tends
to lower the strength and moral of the armed force, as its
materiel map be incomplete and ill-found and its personnel illfed, and badly clothed, armed and equipped. Furthermore, the
unarmed population may also suffer privation from want of food
and deficiency of clothing which may impair their moral and
Herodotus VII., 101, e t sep.
Thucydides I I . , 13, 124; VIII., 15.
War at Sea," p. 105, by the author.
A STUDY OF WAR.-IV.
indirectly react on that of the armed force.
addition tends to raise the strength and moral of the armed
force. Hence the contributory or secondary military aim of
each side is to prepare victory by impairing enemy resources
and increasing its own. T o this end, while the primary aims
are in the balance, each side may try to act by land, air and
On land, each side may overrun enemy territory, while its
own is kept inviolate ; destroy or convert to its own use the communications and the means of production of that territory, levy
contributions there, plunder the country and press the population into its service, or, as in past ages, enslave it, or, a s is
threatened in future years, bomb and poison the inhabitants
of its cities. As, for example, in 1796, after putting the Piedmontese army out of action and driving back the Austrian,
Napoleon overran Northern, Italy with the avowed object of
supporting his army.I Again, during the American Civil War,
Sherman, after sending back Thomas to Nashville to neutralise
the Confederate Army in Alabama under Hood, marched
through Georgia to the sea and thence north through the Carolinas, destroying the railways, living on the country, and seriThe
ously impairing the Confederate resources and moral.
German invasion of Belgium, Northern France and Roumania
will be fresh in the mind. T h e occupation of the capital indirectly weakens the armed force, since the national life becomes
disorganised to an extent which increases with its complexity.
For this reason the occupation of London would probably be
more serious than that of any other capital. But even in that
case, as a military aim, it would probably be secondary to the
destruction of the armed force. For example, the occupation of
Athens was less important than the Persian defeat at Salamis;
of Vienna, needed to be supplemented by the French victory at
Austerlitz; of Moscow, resulted in the disastrous French retreat. Berlin was occupied after and not before the destruction
of the Prussian army at Jena. W h e n the Germans advanced
into France in 1914 their primary aim was the destruction of
the Allied armies and not the occupation of Paris which would
have followed as a consequence of the victory which was denied
At sea, each side may try to stop the enemy sea-borne trade
and military transports and to prevent its own being stopped,
thus cutting off enemy supplies and reinforcements from oversea while itself continuing to receive them ; also, to seize'enemy
maritime bases of supply and intelligence while preserving its
Trade is stopped by exercising the right of maritime capture,
which means :1
Correspondence de Napoleon, 91.
Enemy capture, that is the right to capture and confiscate
enemy merchant ships and enemy cargoes or board
such ships on all occasions when met with on the high
seas or in the waters of a belligerent; and
2 . Neutral capture, that is, the right to capture and confiscate, or otherwise penalise, neutral merchant ships if
they offend against neutrality.
T h e justification for enemy capture is that all merchant ships
are potential instruments of war as armed ships or as military
transports, supply ships, despatch boats, and mine sweepers,
and that the threat of capture stops or reduces the enemy
sea-borne trade and thus cuts off his supplies; and for neutral
capture is that " supplying the enemy, with what better enables
him to carry on the war, is a departure from neutrality." For
these reasons maritime capture has for several generations been
recognised by the law of nations as a legitimate operation of
war, and is claimed and exercised now as a means directly or
indirectly to wealten the enemy's armed force and to shorten the
Attempts to weaken the right of capture have been made at
intervals. T h e principal argument used has been that ships and
cargoes are private property and that their capture is a hardship on private individuals. T h e argument is fallacious, since
for several generations both ships and cargoes have been insured, with the result that the losses and the cost of insurance
are borne not by private owners but by the consumers, who
pay increased prices to cover them.
Again, exception has been taken to the right to capture property on the ground that a different practice is followed on land.
T h e most important difference is that the military commander
is a law to himself, whereas the proceedings of the naval commander are reviewed by a prize court. The former acts outside
the law, the latter under the law. T h e proceedings before the
British Prize Court may be usefully compared with those followed by Napoleon's marshals or the German generals.
That maritime capture is humane when carried out under
the rules recognised by international law is evident from the
procedure established under them and by the practice of the
past. T h e duty of the captor was then to bring in, for adjudication by a prize court, any merchant ships he detained. If the
ship captured was an enemy, the rule was not always observed.
Whether the ship was brought in or not the safety of the
personnel was always secured. In the recent war the British
destroyed ships in the Baltic after removing and providing for
the security of the personnel.
T h e Germans also destroyed
ships at sea, but they deliberately risked and sacrificed the lives
of both crew and passengers, thus making- war a t sea inhumane.
Their aim was to make war at sea as ruthless, brutal and lawless
as it too often has been on land, and by the terror created to
prevent ships putting to sea. In this they failed.
Since no two wars are waged under the same geographical,
political, economic and military conditions, the practical application of the principle of maritime capture varies in each. This
is especially so in the case of neutral capture. Many disputes
arise about the rules relating to blockades, contraband, con- - a r g u m e n t . It is sufficient to note that the interest of the belli-gerents is regulated and the inconvenience and loss to neutrals
in some respects mitigated. T h e details of these disputes are
political and economic rather than military, and lie outside our
argument. It is sufficient to note that the interest of the belligerent is usually complete stoppage of enemy trade, while that
of the neutral may seem to be the uninterrupted continuance of
his own trade. LJsually each side is held back from making
extreme demands by action already taken in the past or possibly
required in the future when the parts are reversed. illoreover,
the political object of the war, the many-sided friction in the
political and international machines, the relative strength not
only of the belligerents but of the neutrals and the progress of
the war all tend to influence the relations between belligerents
and neutrals and the action respectively taken by them. In fact,
the stoppage of neutral trade with a belligerent has always been
dependent upon action taken by the belligerents and either
accepted or tolerated by neutrals, or so much opposed by them
that thev have ultimately joined in the war, a s did the United
States in the years 1812 and 1917.
T o prevent trade being stopped the reciprocal action required
By the navy to destroy or to neutralise the opposing armed
2 . Bv insurance to transfer the losses due to capture from
private owners of ships and cargoes through the underwriters to the consumers who pay prices increased by
the ~ r e m i u m s .
T h e navy and insurance supplement each other. T h e more
successful the navy, the fewer are the losses by capture, the
lower the premiums and the less the stoppage to trade, and
The system enabled the sea-borne trade to continue during
the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. T h e recent German
war introduced some changes. T h e Government then shared
the war risks for the first time and undertook 80 per cent. of
them, leaving the remainder to the underwriters. W i t h this
help, the navy insurance svstem fulfilled its mission during the
first complete year when the average monthly war losses were
55,ooo gross tons and, with graduallv increasing difficulty
during the second complete year, when those losses were 89,000
gross tons. But the war losses of shipping were not the chief
difficulty during these two years. Shortage of supplies raised
prices. Decreasing efficiency of shipping due to war delays,
increasing Government demands for tonnage, cessation in ship
building, resulted in an inadequate tonnage which raised
freights and prices. As a consequence, the Government were
forced to exercise a gradually increasing control over supplies
In the third year of the war losses of Allied and neutral
shipping gradually rose from 165,677 gross tons in August,
1916, to 866,610 gross tons in April, 1917, after which they
gradually fell and continued to do so, reaching 113,054 gross
tons in October, 1918. T o meet these losses ship building
was largely developed, especially in the United States, with the
result that by the second quarter of 1918 the losses were more
than balanced by the new tonnage launched, and continued to be
so to an increasing degree. T h e broad fact is that during the
third year the navy failed to neutralize the German submarine
action, which began to be intensive in February, 1917, but
finally succeeded in doing so. T h e naval action requlred to
prevent trade being stopped is now to be examined.
T h e navy acts by watching the enemy armed ships at their
points of departure, intercepting them on the ocean and forestalling them at their destination. T o illustrate this, it is proposed to sketch the second Civil W a r between the Royalists
and the English Commonwealth after the execution of Charles
I. in January, 1648-9, and the informal war of reprisals between
England and France which developed during that civil war.
T h e operations were conducted by land and sea.
On land, the armies on either side were not unequal, but
those of the Royalists were divided between Ireland and Scotland, and were thus at a disadvantage. The reciprocal military
aim was to destroy the opposing army. Of the operations, it is
sufficient to sap that Cromwell landed at Dublin in August,
1649, and left in the following May, having in the interval so
far destroyed the Irish army that the threatened invasion of
England became impossible, but the operations did not end
until May, 1652. I n June, 1650, Cromwell moved to Scotland
and, after protracted movements, destroyed the Scottish army
at Worcester in September, 1651, but the final conquest of
Scotland was not completed until the following February.
At sea, the armed forces were on the one side the Commonwealth Navy, and on the other side seven English ships of war
which hadgassed over to the Royalists in May, 1648, privateers
bearing Royalist letters of marque and ultimately French ships
of war and privateess, of which some bore letters of marque
from Charles 11. T h e Commonwealth was much the stronger
Allied Shipping Control. Salter.
A STUDY OF WAR.-IV.
side. Its military aim was to destroy or neutralize the armed
ships opposed to it, whereas that of the Royalists was to evade
battle, and to plunder English trade in order to finance themselves and impair the resources of the Commonwealth. T h e
aim was in the one case primary, in the other secondary.
The operations may be said to have begun in January, 1648g, when Prince Rupert put to sea from Helvoetchuys with the
seven revolted ships and another. H e arrived at Kinsale early
From that base his ships were detached and
made numerous captures of merchant ships until the middle of
May,2 when the Commonwealth " Generals at sea " began a
close watch, and by the threat of battle confined his ships to
port. This was continued until late in October or early in
November, when a gale of wind dispersing the watching squsdron, he put to sea with seven ships to evade the threat of Cromwell's advancing army. Transferring his base to Lisbon, he
was left free for about three months and made several captures.
On 10th-20th March, 1649-50, General Robert Blake, with
twelve ships, arrived3 off the entrance to the Tagus. His inwere to seize or destroy
structions, dated 17th-27th J a n ~ a r y , ~
the revolted and other ships operating under or with Prince
Rupert, but to avoid conflict with foreign states unless they
first became the assailants. H i s position was difficult seeing
that, although the Thirty Years' W a r had been brought to a
close recently by the Peace of Westphalia, France was still at
war with Spain and was supporting Portugal in her struggle
for independence from Spain. Also, not one of the Continental
States had recognised, and all were hostile to the regicide
Commonwealth. Blake attempted but failed to establish diplomatic relations with the K i n g of P ~ r t u g a l . ~ e was refused
permission to use Oeiras Bay, the,inner anchorage, except in
bad weather, and was compelled to anchor in Cascaes Bay, the
Unable to attack Rupert's ships
exposed outer a n ~ h o r a g e . ~
owing to the opposition of the K i n g of Portugal, Blake remained to watch them, and to fight them if opportunity offered.
In the middle of May the outward bound Brazil merchant fleet
left the Tagus.
Blake, empowered by his instructions, commandeered nine English merchant ships forming part of that
fleet. Ten days later Colonel Edward Popham joined v,ith
eight ships,? and brought instructions8 dated 20th-30th April
and 25th April-5th May, ordering explicitly reprisals against
Welbeck I., 519.
I,evbourne-Popham, 13, 17.
3 Welbeck I., 519.
4 Thurloe I., 134.
5 Leybourne-Popham papers, p. 66.
6 Welbeck I., 520.
7 Levbourne-Popham, 66.
8 Thurloe I., 142, 144. V17elbeck I., 527.
Portuguese ships and goods, if the free use of Oeiras Bay and
other Portuguese ports was denied to English ships, and inlplicitly a commercial blockade of Lisbon in addition to the
military watch on the revolted ships.
Reprisals were also
ordered against the ships and goods of France. These instructions were acted upon and a complete rupture with Portugal
followed. Supplies could no longer be obtained locally, which
increased Blake's difficulties.
With a mixed force of French, Portuguese and revolted ships
superior in number to the watching squadron, Rupert tried to
put to sea on July 26th-August jth, and again on September
7th-17th, but in each case after a skirmish he refused battle and
returned into port. Seven days after the second attempt the
homeward bound Brazil fleet was intercepted off the Tagus by
Blake, who destroyed the flagship, captured seven ships and
withdrew with them to the Bay of Cadiz, leaving open the port
of Lisb0n.l During the last four months' stay off the Tagus
the watching squadron had remained generally at anchor in
Cascaes Bay, with single ships under way as required, and
detachments to obtain supplies from time to time at Cadiz, or
Vigo, upwards of two hundred sea miles away.
outcome of the English reprisalsRupert sailed on October 12th-~2nd
with six revolted ships, and
fourteen days later was off the port of Malaga, where he attaclied
English merchant ships.
This infringement of Spanish
sovereignty caused the K i n g of Spain presently to forbid hirn
the use of Spanish ports.' Blake had the news on October 28thNovember 7th, left Cadiz at once in pursuit, and between 3rd-13th
and 5-15th November destroyed off Cartagena four of the revolted
ships4 who had parted company with their Admiral. Rupert,
with only two ships and a prize, reached Toulon some days later
and remained there until May 7th-17th, 1 6 5 1 . ~ Blake pursued
as far as the Balearic Islands, or perhaps Sardinia, but was back
a t Cartagena by December 5th-15th."
That Rupert had left Lisbon was known in London by
November 2nd-lath, on which date the Council of State issued
instructions to Blake directing him to return to England and
informing him that Captain William Penn was named to corn.
mand a squadron to intercept another Portuguese fleet from
Brazil and to prevent Rupert doing further m i ~ c h i e f . ~ That
Blake was already in pursuit was known by December 13th1 Welbrck
I., 531, 536.
?Varburton III., 313.
W e l b e c k I., 542.
Welbeck I., 538, 539, 540, 543.
5 Penn I., 338.
6 Welbeck I . , 543, 545.
7 Tliurloe T., 166.
A STUDY OF WAR.-IV.
~ 3 r d . ' News of his success arrived by December 24th-January
when orders were issued desiring him to remain
abroad as long as the public service required and directing him
to give such orders to Penn a s were necessary. On that date
Blake was at Cadiz on his way to England, which he reached
in early F e b r ~ a r y and thus these orders were of no effect and
probably did not reach him.
During these same two years, 1649-50, the Royalist privateers were sailing from ports occupied by the Royalists in
Ireland, Scotland, the Scilly Islands, Jersey and Isle of M a n ;
also from ports in France, especially Dunkirk and Ostend.
These ports of exit were so numerous and widespread that it
was impossible to watch the privateers a s was done in the case
of Rupert's squadron.
It was difficult to meet them on the
open sea, but they might be forestalled at their destination,
which was the merchant ship they wished to capture. This was
done. T h e practice began by placing armed ships as escorts
alongside ships carrying troops, ammunition, Government
stores, and was gradually extended to ordinary traders, the
merchant in that case being charged convoy money until October, 1649, when the charge was r e m ~ v e d . ~
During the same two years the French were seizing English
ships and goods.
No redress being obtainable through the
ordinary channels, the Commonwealth towards the end of the
year 1649 began to grant letters of reprisal to private owners to
recover their losses by seizing French ships and goods. These
were followed in April, 1650, by instructions to English ships
of war to seize French ships of war and merchant ships.5 'Thus
it came about that during that year both English and French
trade was being captured by both ships of war and privateers.
Furthermore, the sea was not clear of pirates, especially in the
Mediterranean, where the Barbary corsairs were active. Moreover, French and English goods on neutral ships were liable to
seizure under the law of reprisals, and thus Dutch ships, the
great neutral carriers, were often detained and their cargoes
T o neutralize the attacking ships, and prevent the
trade being stopped became a pressing problem. Accordingly,
on October ~1st-November o t h ,1650, or about the date when
Rupert's sortie from Cadiz was known in LondonG and Penn
was nominated to relieve Blake, Parliament ordered a standing
convoy service,' added fifteen per cent. to the customs to cover
the expense and directed the Navy Commissioners-not
Dom. Cal., 4 6 8
Thurloe I., 168.
Dom. Cnl., 6, 44.
Dom. Cnl., 349.
Thurloe I.. 144.
= Cf P.
Cnl., 1,651, p. 404.
Generals at sea-to control it.
Thus, the convoy system of
escorts was not then recognised to be part of the general operations against the enemy's armed ships. Six weeks later and
before Blake's success off Cartagena was known Captain
Edward Hall was nominated to command a squadron for convoy
service in the Mediterranean.'
On December 20th-joth, or about the time when Blake
reached Cadiz on his way home, Penn left Falmouth with five
ships having sailed2 from Spithead three weeks earlier and been
detained by contrary winds. H i s instructions were to intercept the Brazil fleet at the Azores, and then to ploceed to Vigo
on the coast of G a l i ~ i a . ~ e reached those islands on January
17th-27th and was presently joined by three more ships. Three
weeks later he learned that the Brazil fleet had passed. Whereupon he started in pursuit and on February ~1st-March
off Lisbon the Assurance, Captain Benjamin Blake, with information that despatches were awaiting him a t Vigo. A week
later he anchored off Cadiz, where he met Captain Hall with
seven ships of war, escorting the Mediterranean convoy, and on
March 1 2 t h - ~ 2 n dreceived the missing despatches-possibly
dated two months earlier4-which instructed him to pursue
Rupert. Since leaving Falmouth he had captured eleven prizes
of which six were Dutch.
On March 29th-April Sth, 1651, Penn put to sea from Cadiz
with eight ships in pursuit of Rupert, passed along the coast
of Spain, through the Balearic Islands, called off Cagliari in
Sardinia, and made Galita Island off the coast of Tunis on May
I ~ t h - ~ 1 s tH e proposed to pass thence east of Sardinia and to
g o off Toulon, but a week later abandoned that idea and decided
to seek intelligence at Leghorn. Arriving there on May 25thJune 4th, he learned that Rupert had left Toulon with five ships
on May 7th-17th, and was reported to havi: gone to the eastward. On May 27th-June 6th Penn left Leghorn and ten days
later was off Trapani in Sicily.
For nearly seven weeks he
cruised in the waters between Sicily and Tunis. Not having
any news of the chase, he then passed through Malta to Messina, where, on July 29th-August Sth, he learned that Rupert
had been capturing ships off Cadiz. Penn at once decided to
leave Sicilian waters for Gibraltar, where he arrived on September 9th-~gth,having called at Cagliari, Formentera and
Alicante on his way. Six days later a captured 1,ubecker reported that Rupert had been at the Azores5
Dom. Cal., 466.
Penn I., 319.
Welbeck II., 70.
Dom. Cnl., p. 7.
Cf Nelson and Villeneuve in 1805
A STUDY OF WAR.-IV.
In December Penn detached three ships to search the Azores,
but remained himself, with five, in the Straits of Gibraltar until
January, when he sailed with those ships for England, arriving
in the Downs on April 1 s t - r ~ t h 1652. Since leaving England
he had captured thirtv-six prizes, of which several were Dutch.
Through an error in judgment on his part, entirely pardonable, Penn had failed to make contact. Probably the threat of
his squadron, coupled with the K i n g of Spain's refusal to allow
the use of his ports in Spain, Italy, Sardinia and Sicily, had
forced Rupert to leave the Mediterranean. Furthermore, Penn
claimed that his presence in that sea had confined French ships
of war in port and that he had captured six French merchant
Rupert's subsequent movements had little effect on the war.
Early in 1652 he passed from the Azores to the Cape de Verdes,
thence in the summer of that year to the West Indies, his force
gradually withering away and finally disappearing on his arrival
at Nantes in March, 1G53.
During the year 1651 the convoy system was well established, and the Royalist privateers were checked by the capture
of their bases at the Scilly Islands, Jersey and Isle of Man,
also by the Royalist defeat in Ireland and Scotland.
w h e n the year 1652 opened Rupert's force had been driven
out of European waters by a superior concentration which was
then no longer needed.
The Royalist privateers had been
neutralized by the convoy svstem and the capture of their bases.
The Royalist-Commonwealth war was practically a t an end.
Rut the war of reprisals between France and England continued,
France and Spain were at war and the Barbary corsairs were
active. Both Dutch and English merchant ships were sailing
in convoys under armed escorts.
The second Civil W a r , 1649-51, illustrated the military watch
on the principal enemy armed force at its port of departure with
a view to bringing it to battle when opportunity offered, and
the impossibility of watching all armed ships which threatened
to stop the trade. Further, it supplied some explicit evidence
of the difficulty of intercepting them on the high seas and implied it by introducing the convoy system which forestalled them
at their destination, the merchant ship.
The recent German W a r , 1914-18, presented the same phenomena in principle although far different in details. Blake's watch
off Lisbon had its counterpart in the Rritish watch in the Yorth
Sea. The German detachments abroad at the outbreak of war
consisted of ten effective ships of war and four armed merchant
ships. The force opposed to them by the combined British,
French, Japanese, Russian and Italian navies was so greatly
superior that all were either destroyed or driven into port during
the first seven months. Henceforth occasional surface ships got
to sea and made a small number of captures. T h e submarines
became the real danger, as they were found to be even more
difficult to intercept in the British seas than the surface ships
on the ocean. T h e convoy system was introduced and applied,
as in the Civil W a r , quite early for Government transports
and much later for merchant ships, that is to say, in May, 1917,
when the shipping losses were a t the highest.l Its success was
complete and was furthered by the introduction of new instruments to locate and new weapons to destroy submarines when
submerged, and by the addition of aircraft to the armed escorts
in Home waters. Its justification remains always the same.2
The armed escort is placed alongside the convoy, because the
enemy armed force is most likely to be nlet there. It secures
the convoy by destroying or neutralizing the enemy when he
appears, that is, by battle or the threat of battle. This is the
guiding principle for the escort commander. No fixed rules are
admissible. T h e outstanding example is the battle of Portland
on February 18th-28th, 1651-2, . in which Martin 'Tromp with
70 ships of-war and a large convoy met the Generals a; seaBlake, Deane and hilonck-with the same number. Leaving his
convoy to windward, Tromp bore down and fought a delaying
action. After inflicting much loss on the English and suffering
some loss himself, he broke off the action, rejoined his convoy
and continued his course up Channel, followed by the Generals
at sea. The destruction of the Emden by the Sydney during
That ship, one of
the German W a r is another example.
three escorting the Australasian convoy of military transports,
was detached some fifty miles for the purpose. As a military
aim secondary to the destruction of the enemy armed force, the
overseas bases of supply were captured by the stronger navy
in the German W a r as they were in the Civil W a r .
It is to be noted that all secondary military aims, whether to
stop sea-borne trade or prevent it being stopped, or to capture
oversea bases or territory, mean dispersion of force against
which the primary aim to destroy the enemy armed ships is
constantly re-acting to bring about concentration. Thus in the
Civil W a r Rupert's squadron forced a Commonwealth concentration of twenty ships off 1,isbon during the summer of
1650 and seriously reduced the numbers available for other
services, since the ships in commission at that time numbered
about 72, of which 28 were armed merchant ships.3 Again, the
small armed escort of the Civil W a r grew into the massed fleet
of the first Dutch W a r . Also, in the German W a r Von Spee's
concentration in the Pacific threatened at first the Entente
The military reasons for convoy are believed to be as valid now as ever they
were." Naval Policy, p. 216. 1907.
3 Dom. Cal., 1649-50, p. 464.
A STUDY OF WAR.-IV.
detachments in Australasian and Malayan waters, a n d later those
on the coast of America and in the Atlantic.
Each of those
detachments had to be made strong enough to meet him.
Cradock was not strong enough and was dest~oyed,but Von
Spee himself presently suffered the same fate from a superior
It will be seen that the enemy resources are impaired in
different ways, on land by overrunning territory and at sea by
stopping trade and military transports a n d by capturing oversea bases. T h i s does not mean that the military aim is different
by land and sea. O n the contrary it is the same, because the
overrunning of territory, the stoppage of trade and military
transports and the capture of oversea bases are means to a n end,
that is, means to wealien the enemy armed forces and to prcpare their destruction, which is the military aim. Furthermore,
it does not follow that the overrun territory must be annexed,
nor the trade stopped permanently, nor the captured bases retained, although such might be, and in the past often has been,
the national object, a s the result of the achievement of the
military aim. T o overrun territory is a military measure; to
annex it is a political act.
T H E L A T E SIII. J U L I A N C O R B E T T .
death is a very serious blow to naval history, and, as history is the raw material out of which a knowledge of the principles of strategy and tactics is built up, so
the study of those arts will suffer.
Corbett's work began rather more than a quarter of a
century ago with a small volume on Monk for the " Men of
Action " Series in 1889. This he followed in 1890 by another
on " Drake," a book which, under the spell cast by the Elizabethans, led him into a more extended study; in 1898 he produced his " Drake and the Tudor Navy." Before writing this
he had read largely, both in civil history and military science,
and, as he says in his preface, his object was to give a general
view of the circumstances under which England became a controlling force in the European system by virtue of her power
upon the sea. T h e book is a remarkable one, and quickly ran
into a second edition-a tribute unusual to a work of so specialised a character. T h e story is of peculiar interest to-day, for
the changes in technique, the transition from galley warfare to
sail warfare, and the shifting of the maritime balance of power,
have their counterparts in the transition in the character of
vessels that is taking place now. As the men of the sixteenth
century found it hard to see where things would end, whether
the galley would survive, so we as in glass darkly are trying to
foresee whether the battle ship will do so. Corbett pointed
dut rhat maritime warfare fallls into three periods, 'I' each
sharply characterised by a generic difference in the ' capital
in the seventeenth century it was happily calledship '-as
the ship, that is, which formed the backbone of a fighting fleet,
and which had a place in the fighting line. T h e first period is
that of the galley, beginning in prehistoric times and culminating in the year 1571, at the Battle of Lepanto; the second is
that of the ' great ship ' or ' ship-of-the-line,' which was established in 1588 with the campaign of the Great Armada, and
reached its highest development at Trafalgar; the third is that
in which we now (1898) live, the period of the battleship."
Following this, Corbett made the acute remark that these
divisions not only lie within certain defined chronological
limits, but are rooted in the essentials of sea warfare. " The
essence of naval strategy is sea endurance, by which is meant
the degree of a fleet's capability of keeping the sea."
that sentence he puts his finger upon the crucial problem of to-
THE LATE S I R JUL1.W CORBETT.
day. " It is the solution of this problem that is the eternal
preoccupation of the naval art." Recent changes in material
have affected the power of the ship to keep the sea-fuel, supplies, submarines,-and
the solution of the problem introduced
by the changed material is our preoccupation to#-day.
All this may seem obvious to us now.
But it was not
so obvious 25 years ago, and a writer who could so succinctly
define the pivotal influences, and with such accuracy that the
definition becomes applicable to conditions of which none at
that time dreamt, is entitled to our admiration : and that
admiration is surely heightened when we reflect that he was a
Does not this fact lend countenance to the assers
tion that a study of history assists one to unravel the problems
of strategy ?
Corbett next turned his attention to the period following
Drake, and in his " Successors of Drake " produced another
volume of interest and importance. It is of peculiar interest,
as we see in it the decline into which the navy and the naval
art may fall. But it shows more. It makes clear that great
lesson of the interdependence between navy and army. It
illustrates the supreme importance of bases. It shows Spain,
shattered by the Elizabethans but not robbed of all vitality,
resurrecting her navy, and England, for want of an insight
into the true nature of war, losing the command of the sea Drake
had won for her. " The end of the war," he wrote, " saw Spain
more powerful on the sea than when she began.
W e had
taught her the lesson of naval power, and she had learnt it
according to her lights. W e had not learnt ours. It is doubtful whether we have learnt it yet. W e know what Nelson did
at Trafalgar, and forget that its real importance was what it
afterwards enabled Wellington to do."
Very broadly, that sentence compresses the idea that ran
through much of Corbett's theory of sea warfare. T h e value
of sea power, he maintains a few lines lower on the same page,
lies in its influence on the operations of armies. This idea he
carried further in his next book, " England in the Mediterranean," in which he linked up the operations of the fleet up
the Straits with Marlborough's armies in a masterly manner.
This book is one deserving the most careful reading.
story of the events that led up to the campaign of 1704, and
of the campaign itself, had never been told in a manner which
expressed truly the strategy of William 111. and Marlborough.
Not only, however, does Corbett in this book impress the
lesson of the liaison between army and navy; he brings out the
realisation, that followed the entrance of the English Navy into
the Mediterranean, of the strategic importance of the Straits
of Gibraltar in war with France and Spain : and, what is more,
reminds us that strategical truths concerning the importance of
certain commanding positions are not necessarily plain to men
at the time. " Blake," he says, " had demonstrated the surpassing importance of Gibraltar and the inherent weakness of the
French position. H i s action had brought naked to the surface
the cardinal fact that the two seats of her naval energy were
separated widely and by a narrow defile. It was clear that the
prompt seizure or even the threat to seize this defile must place
in English hands the initiative in any naval war with her old
But this truth was not clearly recognised at once.
" T h e great facts of strategy have always grown slowly to axiomatic solidity, rather by repeated example than sudden prezcept." And this is a fact we do well to grasp; a iesson we do
well to learn. Even a Cromwell or a Blake does not suddenly
formulate in his mind a clear appreciation of a great strategic
situation. T h e essence dawns upon him as the result of experience.
It is more than probable that the problems of
strategy that are obscure to us to-day will appear as clear as
crystal to our successors; they will wonder why there should
have been controversies on battleships, submarines and aircraft,
and will be astonished that our policy delayed so long in translating season into correct action.
Books such as those of
Corbett are stimulants : they prevent us from imagining that a
knowledge of strategy is a concomitant of an extra stripe upon
the sleeve, or of an extensive knowledge of ballistics or other
applied sciences. They demonstrate no less the need for study,
than the very gradual growth of knowledge that results from it;
and emphasize the catastrophies that result from the belief that
there are short cuts to knowledge, or any other path than hard
and sustained reading and thinking.
Corbett's next work of importance was his " England in
the Seven Years' W a r " (1907). H e had then been lecturer on
History to the W a r College for some time, and, as he has often
said to the present writer, had derived great advantage from
personal intercourse with a number of naval officers. W i t h his
increased experience he was developing new ideas; and in his
preface he wrote that the value of the war is high as an example
of the strategical use of the fleet and the practice of amphibious
operations. " For a right consideration of the war the army
must be regarded primarily as forming an integral part of the
maritime force with which it was carried on." A critique of
the book in the Spectator said : " Mr. Corbett, so far as we
lrnow, is the first to take a comprehensive view of the war, and
to disentangle the harmonious purpose running through England's efforts.
T h e importance of this broad method to the
student of history or of strategy can hardlv be exaggerated;
for nothing is so essential to an understanding of success or
failure in war as the correlation of all the elements brought into
play during a campaign. Too many naval and military his-
THE LATE SIR JULIAN CORBETT.
torians are apt to forget that the Army and Navy are not the
end of a nation's existence, but literally the ' services ' whereby
she attains one of her ends. If Mr. Corbett had done nothing
else in these volumes, his ample recognition of this truth would
have entitled him to the gratitude of all men of affairs and historical students."
It was in this book that Corbett first formulated in writing
his views of the function of the fleet. " The function of the
fleet, the object for which it was always employed, has been
threefold; firstly, to support or obstruct diplomatic effort;
secondly, to protect or destroy commerce; and thirdly, to
further or hinder military operations ashore.'' The command
of the sea, he argued, is a means to a n e n d : and this is constantly lost sight of in naval policy. " W e forget what happended in the old wars; we blind ourselves by looking only on
the dramatic moments of naval history ; we come unconsciously
to assume that the defeat of the enemy's fleets solves all problems, and that we are always free and able to apply this
apparently simple solution.
Thus, until quite recent years,
naval thought had tended to confine itself to the perfection of
the weapon and to neglect the art of using it. Or, in other
words, it had come to feel its sole concern was fighting, and
had forgotten the art of making war."
S o Corbett wrote in 1907. The criticism was just, and even
if all the views he expressed did not command the approval
of many great authorities, there were few who disagreed that
the art of making war had been neglected in the concentration
upon producing more powerful instruments.
The book created a great impression, as the extract from
the critique, quoted earlier, shows. It raised Corbett's position
as a thinker. It received praise from all parts of the world.
Three years later it was followed by his " Campaign of Trafalgar," a masterly study which threw an entirely new light upon
the operations which led up to the battle. This is not the occasion upon which to discuss the views he held upon the manner
in which the battle was fought, to uphold or contest his
opinions. It is, however, pertinent to say that he made men
think more about the tactics of Trafalgar than they had thought
before. His earlier books upon Fighting Instructions, produced by the Navy Records Society in 1905 and 1908, had paved
the way for a study of the development of the tactical thought
which culminated at Trafalgar.
His books indeed furnish a
great deal of the material for a history of tactics. Those on the
Drake and post-Drake period give us the beginnings, the discussions on Malaga and the Appendix in " England in the
Vediterranean " afford the late 17th Century views, the Navy
Records volumes trace the developments from Instructions,
through Signals, to Trafalgar, and the " Campaign of Tra-
falgar " brings the record to its final point in sailing tactics.
T h e only g a p of importance is in the Dutch W a r s , and that is
not a complete gap, for' the instructions, the short sketch of
Monk, and the notes on the Dartmouth Drawings all deal with
During the period in which he was working a t the W a r
College Corbett came into close touch with Lord Fisher, who
invited his criticism on many of his schemes. Much correspondence passed between t h e m ; and Lord Fisher suggested to
him that he should write a text book on Strategy. T h i s proposal he adopted, but with diffidence, a n d wrote " Some Principles of Maritime Strategy."
It is interesting to read that book to-day. It was written
in 191I , by a layman, without a n y experience of war except such
a s h e had distilled from a study of the wars of the past, and
from writings on war. I t would be remarkable if there were
nothing in it from which a n y one dissented. But it will be
found that the principles he enunciated were borne out in a remarkable degree in the late war. Speaking of co-ordination of
naval and military effort, he said : " I t may be that the command of the sea is of s o urgent a n importance that the army
will have to devote itself to assisting the fleet in its special
task before it can act directly against the enemy's territory or
land forces; on the other hand, it may be that the immediate
duty of the fleet will be to forward military action ashore before
it is free t o devote itself whole-heartedly to the destruction of
the enemy fleets." W h a t the primary object for us islanders,
was not, in Corbett's philosophy of war, a thing to be defined
with the same inflexibility a s it can be defined in continental
warfare; it is instructive to consider that opinion in relation to
the strategical situation in those early days of 1914 when the
Expeditionary Force was hastening to reach the battlefields in
I n his Principles, Corbett made the first clear written definition of the functions of the several elements of a fleet.
Postulating that the object of naval warfare is to control communications (which is not the same thing a s the primary military object of a fleet in war) he said that " the fundamental requirement is the means of exercising that control." Battleships
alone cannot exercise control ; specialisation has rendered them
unfit, and too costly ever t o be numerous enough. Numbers
are needed for this etercise, and those numbers are furnished
by what we now call " cruisers." W h i c h brought him to the
conclusion : " O n cruisers depends our exercise o control : on
. . The
the battle-fleet depends the security of control. .
true function of the battle-fleet is to protect cruisers a n d flotilla
at their special work. T h e doctrine of destroying the enemy's
armed forces a s the paramount object here reasserts itself, and
T H E LATE S I R JULIAN CORBETT.
reasserts itself so strongly as to permit for most practical purposes the rough generalisation that the command depends on
It has been said that Corbett's doctrine of war placed the
destruction of the enemy forces in the background. T h e above
quotation shows that the doctrine of destroying the enemy was
by no means absent from his mind. The difficulty that history
showed so frequently to exist was that of inequality in the
opposing fleets. T h e following deduction is an accurate forecast of the policy adopted by the High Seas Fleet.
" The normal condition is that if we desire a decision it is
because we have definite hopes of success, and consequently the
enemy will probably seek to avoid m e on our terms. In practice this means that if we have perfected our arrangements for
the destruction of his main fleet he will refuse to expose it till
he sees a more favourable opportunity. And what will be the
result ? H e remains on the defensive, and theoretically all the
ensuing period of inaction tends to fall into his scale. Without
stirring from port his fleet is doing its work. T h e more closely
he induces us to concentrate our cruiser1 force in face of his
battle-fleet the more he frees the sea for the circulation of his own
trade and the more he exposes ours to cruiser raids." W i t h the
exception that the enemy could not free the sea for the circulation of his own trade, except in the Baltic, this is a picture of
what happened three years later.
This book on strategy illustrates the value of a study of
history. Its writer, as we have remarked before, was not a seaman, had no technical knowledge or experience : yet by study
of the history of war rendered himself capable of formulating
views on, and forecasting events in, war and strategy. This
is a remarkable tribute to history as a study for officers. There
is, of course, nothing new in this fact, nothing that has not been
known to every great commander and thinker. W h a t it does
is merely to confirm their views. Count Schlieffen, the designer
of the German war plan, wrote, many years ago : " Before
every one who wishes to become a Commander-in-Chief there
lies a book entitled ' T h e History of War.' It is not always, I
must admit, very amusing. It involves the toiling through a
mass of by no means exciting details. But by their means we
arrive at facts, often soul-stirring facts, and at the root of it lies
the perception of how everything has happened, how it was
bound to happen, and how it will happen again."
It is to this perception that Corbett's studies led him, and
to this that the fruit of his studies leads those who read them
And his works have the advantage of bellng
eminently readable ; the reproach, levelled by Von Schlieffen,
1 T h e word " cruiser " can justifiably be extended to those vessels of the flotilla
engaged upon the defence of trade and communications.
that the History of W a r " is not always very amusing" is
mitigated in the case of Corbett's books. " Amusing," perhaps, in its common connotation, is not a quality one seeks in
History, except for those to whom the unravelling of a complicated tangle of situations is an amusement-as fortunately it
is to some people. This amusement Corbett's books freely
afford ; and they do so largely because they furnish what naval
histories hitherto have not furnished-sufficient
which to form a judgment. W e are shown the situations as a
the mere minor strategical situations at sea.
Diplomacy, armies, navies, commerce, neutrals, allies, all pull
their respective strings, and we see how many interests there:
are in war tending to deflect the course of operations from the
straight line of the theoretically best. W a r , he was fond of
saying, is never conducted upon a clean slate. Maxims admirable in themselves, are generally very difficult to put into operation in their perfection in practice. If it is to the advantage of
one combatant to concentrate at the vital point, it is not improbable that it will be to the advantage of his enemy to bring
about dispersion ; and that he will take measures that will force
dispersion on the would-be concentrator. It is easy to say that
the concentration of force should be proceeded with, and that
no deflection from " the true course " of strategy should be
made. But concentration may become over-concentration, as
Kempenfelt once pointed out. This characteristic of refusing
to be hag-ridden by phrases was characteristic of Corbett's
analytical mind. While recognising to the full the truth of
those generalisations into which the principles of war are, for
convenience, compressed, he always urged that they needed intelligent translation : and the more one studies history the more
fully does one appreciate the danger, to which in several places
he alludes, of accepting at6 pied d e la lettre these aphorisms,
interpreting them blindly.
Criticism of a commander based
solely on the purely theoretical and academic charge that he violated such and such a principle of war-and such criticisms are,
as all readers of history know well, only too common-was
nauseous to him.
typical expression of his views occurs in
his remarks on the doctrine of concentration of eff0rt.l " It is
idle for purists to tell us that the deflection of commerce protection should not be permitted to turn us from our main purpose. W e have to do with the hard facts of war, and experience tells us that for economic reasons alone, apart from the
pressure of public opinion, no one has ever found it possible
to ignore the deflection entirely. S o vital indeed is financial
vigour in war, that more often than not the maintenance of the
flow of trade has been felt as a paramount consideration. Even
in the best days of our Dutch Wars, when the whole plan was
'[Some principles of Maritime Strategy," page
THE LATE S I R JULIAN CORBETT.
based on ignoring the enemy's commerce a s our objective, we
found ourselves a t times forced to protect our own trade with
seriously disturbing results."
In these sentences he sets
doctrine above dogma, illustrates his opinion from experience,
a n d foretells accurately what was to happen in the troubled times
of the late war.
Besides writing the series of histories to which allusio? has
been made, Corbett edited important works for the Navy R e cords Society-works involving much difficult research, needing
great knowledge and scholarship for their production.
volumes of " Fighting Instructions " and " Signals and Instructions " afforded the first insight we have had into the
development of tactics, a n d threw a new light upon the " Fighting Instructions." These books deserve the closest study b y
students of tactics. Much that was not understood before their
appearance was rendered plain, and much inaccurate condemnation of Instructions, based upon ignorance, was dispelled. Not
the least valuable parts of the work are the admirable comments
with which Corbett introduced each phase of development in
that interesting story of the growth of tactical ideas.
Corbett's work was very fully appreciated b y foreign
students. I-Iis book on strategy was applauded, even thouqn
all his views were not accepted to the full.
T h e " Rivista
Marittima" considered that it approached the subject of strategy
from a higher standpoint than Mahan's " Naval Strat-gy,"
treating the problen~sfrom a broader and less national point of
view. H i s history of the late war, so far a s it has been reviewed
in foreign periodicals, has received high praise both from our
late enemies and allies. Captain Chack, in the " Revue Maritime " for November, writes that " T h e profound regret that
his loss causes affects not only the British Navy, of which he
was the great historian. All, throughout the whole world, who
interest themselves in historical research in general a n d maritime research in particular will be sorrowfully affected b y the
disappearance of this great annalist."
Those British naval
officers who have read his works, and still more those who have
been privileged to know him personally, will recognise how
much he did for the advancement of the study of war, how
greatly he added to the linowledge of our countrymen of what
the Navy means to the nation, and how great is the loss of this
great exponent of its history.
O U T L I N E S O F HISTORY.-V.
T R A D E ROUTES.-PART 3.
By c.4pT-41~W. H. C. S. THRING,
C.B.E., E .N
I N the 16th century England began, for the first time, to take
an important part in the maritime commerce of the world. I
propose to turn now from the general history of the trade routes
to an examination of the factors which led to the acquisition
by English sailors of that supremacy at sea which passed in succession from the Cretans to the Phcenicians, the Carthaginians,
the sailors employed by Rome, the Saracens, the Venetians and
other Italian states, the Turks, Portuguese, Spaniards and
Dutch. W e may justly claim to be heirs to this high estate.
In the first stage of the growth of English seafaring, which
lasted until the end of the W a r s of the Roses, small individual
efforts gradually evolved the Guild system. The conditions of
the times did not make for large combined developments of
foreign commerce. Before the close of this period the Government had begun to interest itself in the commerce of the country
and a sturdy race of seamen existed, ready to take advantage of
The increase in
the opportunities which were soon to come.
shipping may be judged from the facts that in 1400 English
merchandise was for the most part carried in foreign ships, but
bv 1500 more than half the cloth and three-quarters of other
wares were carried in English ships.
In the W a r s of the Roses the feudal system in England exhausted itself, and for purposes of war it came to an end.
*4fter that time rulers had to pay their armies; wealthy merchants and bankers, from whom the king had to borrow money
to pay his troops, were able to control to a large extent the
policy of the country, for they became strong enough to refuse
to supply funds if the conditions they required were not
accepted. Thus the long series of land u7ars waged for commercially unimportant issues, in which the country had been
almost continually engaged, came to an end.
T h e Tudors had the genius to realise the new conditions
under which a king should rule ; they saw that their own welfare
must depend on that of the people, and that warlike adventure
without regard for commerce was ruinous both for the monarch
and for his subjects.
Their policy, initiated by Henry VII.
and fully developed in the reign of Elizabeth, quiclily carried
England to the front rank of maritime powers.
OUTLINES OF HISTORY .-V.
Reduced to its simplest terms, this policy was to spend no
money outside the country but to sell to the foreigner and so get
his money. T h e country must be self-supporting and supply
all wants. I n France and Holland a similar policy ruled, but
England also believed in shipping as a source of profit, and
most careful laws and regulations were adopted to encourage
English seafarers to carry all English goods and also to carry
for foreigners, for in this way foreign money could be earned by
As the colonies and plantations developed their raw material
was brought to England to be manufactured.
T h e colonies
were not allowed to manufacture for themselves but had to buy
all their made goods from England; these and the colonial
raw material might only be carried in English ships.
The reign of Henry VII., who invaded England in 1485, and
who, after the defeat and death of Richard 111. at Bosworth
Field, was crowned K i n g of England, covered that amazing
period in the world's history during which the Spaniards finally
conquered the Moors in Spain, Columbus discovered the West
Indies (and believed he had got to China), Vasco da Gama
rounded South Africa and opened the sea route to the East, and
Tohn Cabot set foot in North America. In this reign, too, printing became common, opening the way for the spread of knowledge.
Henry VII. may have been a miser but he certainly was a
very able man ; his acts show that he understood the foundations
on which prosperity could be built.
W h e n he came to the
throne the navy was dead. He at once arranged for the building
in England of ships which would be at least equal to those
built anywhere. His ships were the first to be fitted with portholes for heavy guns and were the true forerunners of the wooden
walls of later days.
The key to the history of the 16th century is to be found in
the change of trade routes brought about by the discovery of
the sea route to the East. The Venetians, the Hansa League
and the merchants of South Germany sought by every means to
preserve their old supremacy. Their commerce was being destroyed by the Turks, the Dutch and the English. They soon
obtained a grip on Spanish finances for they supplied Spain
with war stores, manufactured goods, and naval stores from the
Baltic. Soon they began to work the Spanish silver mines in
South America. They do not appear to have talten active
steps against Portugal, who refused to give them the monopoly
of the on-carriage of eastern goods from Lisbon, probably because they hoped to get the control of this trade through Spaitt.
The German financiers had two powerful weapons, their
financial grip on Spain and religious animositics.
these they used. They first moved against t h e Turks, their
efforts culminating in the illusive victory of Lepanto. Then
they moved against the Dutch and English, but the Armada
disaster ended all chance of success.
England fought Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch in the
17th and the French in the 18th, emerging the sea carriers for
the world. Under the Tudors England had developed into a
nation with definite aims which were shared by her rulers; in
this England was ahead of her rivals. T h e French suffered
from oppression, monarchial wars and revolution ; they did not
shake off the personal rule of their monarchs until 1789, ,xnd
then went to such excesses that they destroyed the best elements
in the nation. Italy and Germany were divided; the Dutch
suffered from corruption ; Spain was torn by the Inquisition and
by expelling the Jews and Moors lost their workers. The Jews1
formed the mercantile class in Spain and the Moors were the
agricultural workers ; the Spaniards themselves never succeeded
in filling the vacant places. England's insular position gave
her protection, she had a comparatively good political constitution and her merchants developed trade on broad lines.
T h e English system of trade, begun under Henry VII., was
continued in its general principles throughout the 16th, 17th and
18th centuries, until England was established as mistress of the
seas and her commanding position made it unnecessary to
maintain the old restrictions, which the vast increase in British
manufactures brought about by the industrial revolution at the
end of the 18th century, made irksome.
In order to make clearer the working of the English trade
system I propose to quote from " T h e Trade and Navigation of
Great Britain Con;sidered," by Joshua Gee, London, 1731, 3rd
Edition, a book which gives a clear picture of the conditions
of that time. Mr. Gee surveys the history of commerce and the
trade of each nation ; he gives also his views on the policy which
England should pursue to further her own interests. His statements are borne out by other authorities.
He tells us that the trade and navigation of England was
much the same from the time of William the Conquerer until
the days of Queen Elizabeth, and consisted in the export of raw
materials, chiefly tin, lead, wool, some leather and iron, in sufficient quantities to purchase such foreign commodities as were
wanted. Edward 111. was the first prince to take any notice of
trade; by prohibiting the export of wool in 1338 he encouraged
1 These "Jews " were probably, like the commercial Jews of other parts of
Europe, descendants of Phcenician and Carthaginian colonists who had adopted
the Jewish religion, and had become known as Jews in order to escape frclm
persecution by the Romans.
OUT1,INES OF HISTORY .-V.
the home manufacture and supplied a home market by enacting
that no subject should wear any foreign cloth. Under Queen
Elizabeth many and great advantages were added to trade. T h e
East India Company opened the trade with the East; by treaty
with the Duke of Muscovy the Archangel trade was developed;
and plantations in America gradually supplied sugar and tobacco, not only for England but in sufficient quantities to
supplant the Portuguese in the supply to the north of Europe.
King Charles I. permitted the French to fish from Newfoundland.; Charles 11. and James were fond of French commodities,
to the detriment of English manufacturers. Queen Mary and
William established the manufacture of glass, silk, straw hats, .
paper and linen, all of which had previously come from France.
In their time also copper and brass manufactures were begun
as well as sail cloth, sword blades, scissors and toys of steel;
salt works were opened, and so many of the imports of France
Reduced to its simplest form, Mr. Gee takes the amount of
bullion received from abroad as the gain in trade, the " Balance
in Favour." A country should produce or import raw materials,
manufacture them, and sell the balance not required in the
country abroad. T h e import of luxuries which must be paid for
by exports or by bullion is a loss, the import of necessities which
must be paid for by exports is an equality system and no gain.
When foreign countries pay for work done-as for produce or
for manufactured goods, or for goods sold to them at a higher
price than that at which they were bought-then there is a balance in favour. H e very definitely laps down that " the merchant . . . . may get a great deal of riches by 'importing
foreign commodities for luxury and excess, when at the same
time the nation is consuming its substance and running into
Of all shipping enterprises the slave trade and the timber
trade between America and Portugal seem to have been the most
England was still drawing her supply of timber
from the Baltic, a deplorable arrangement when it could be
equally cheaply and well supplied from the Plantations and
carried in British ships.
Trade with Portugal, Spain and the Plantations showed a
balance in our favour, whilst that with France, Holland, Russia,
Germany, Denmark and Sweden was against us. It is interesting to look more closely into the reasons for this.
Trade with France.
" France, above all other nations, is the worst for England
to trade with, it wants . . . . verv little either for luxurp
or convenience . . . . political and frugal measures must
make her the richest nation in Europe."
Mr. Gee quotes some remarks of M. Colbert at a debate
at which Louis XIV. was present.
H e said : " The most
speedy way of increasing the riches of the kingdom was the finding out of manufactures for employing the poor and setting idle
neople to work. That as flax, silk and wool were the most useful we should as much as possible produce those commodities
in the country. As manufactures came to be made, and worn
at the Court, the English nation would fall into the habit of
wearing them . . . ." Accordingly, this task was undertaken; the French K i n g himself would wear nothing but what
was made in France.
T h e East India Company imported most of the muslins to
Europe, where they became very popular, particularly in
France. T h e French K i n g grew uneasy and by four edicts,
issued from 1709 to 1714, he at last brought the people to wear
After the peace (1713) nothing would satisfy the English but
to follow French fashions, muslins were thrust out of wear and
expensive French lawns and cambrics came into general use.
The Spaniards wore sober dress and bought English cloth
until the Bourbon prince came to the throne. H e introduced
French fashions and the nation followed until the balance of
trade was turned against England.
Smuggling from France to England was great and was
encouraged by the French King. Mr. Gee suggests that rum,
which could be bought cheaply from the British West Indies,
ought to take the place of French brandy.
Flanders and Germany.
Mr. Gee considered that the imports from Flanders were
perhaps five times a s valuable as our exports to that country.
From Germany we imported vast quantities of linen; they
took tobacco and sugar from us but had established their own
manufactures, so that the balance of trade was against us.
Two-thirds of the iron ore used in England came from Sweden, besides copper, wood, etc., and they took but small quantities of our exports. In 1703 Sweden absolutely refused to let
us have pitch and tar except in their own vessels and at their
own price. T h e Government therefore encouraged production
in the Plantations, " and we now (1731) get enough thence."
From Russia we imported hemp, flax, linen cloth and Yarn,
leather, tallow, furs, iron, potash, etc., to an immense value.
Having no other market from which we could buy hemp in
qu;intities, we had to pay any price they asked.
OUTLINES OF HISTORY .-V.
From this summary it would seem that our commerce was
in a bad way, but on the whole we were gaining, as there were
some sources of great profit. Of these Mr. Gee finds Ireland
to be one of the most important. T o Ireland we exported almost all the manufactured goods that were used there except
some coarse linens and coarse woollen cloth. From Ireland we
took woollen yarn, linen yarn and great quantities of wool in
the fleece, all for manufacture in England. " But what makes
Ireland so very profitable to England is that it is thought that
near one-third part of the Rents of the Whole belong to English
Noblemen and Gentlemen that dwell here, besides the very large
sums that are spent for the Education of their youth by the
great number of Nobility and Gentry who resort to the English
Court. . . . . There may be added to these the Sums of
Money that are paid to Persons that have Places and Pensions
out of the Irish revenues. . . . . They have an extraordinary Trade for their Hides, Tallow, Reef, Butter, etc., to Holland, Flanders, France, Portugal and Spain, which enables
them to make large remittances to keep their balance with us."
" Compare how this nation has increased in riches in I j o
London then made a small figure compared with
Bruges, Antwerp, and other Hansa towns, as well as the great
cities of the Mediterranean.
" Not one-quarter of the productions of the Plantations redounds to their own profit. The remainder comes to England
where they sell their goods, buy their requirements, educate
their children and spend their money when they return. AIso
the interest on mortgages on the planter's estates is paid to
New England gave poor opportunities for agriculture compared with the rich southern Plantations, but it proved one of
the most valuable possessions nevertheless. Numbers of ships
were built in New England and sold in the Mediterranean. The
timber trade to Portugal led 'to a great increase in British
shipping " by means of which we have crept into all the corners
of Europe and become the carriers of the Mediterranean as well
as between the Mediterranean, Holland, Hamburg and the Baltic . . . . and this is the reason why the Dutch have so
A picture is given of how this commerce grew.
Englishmen bought cargoes of goods and took them to New
England, where they sold at a profit which they invested in the
construction of ships; in these they sailed to Portugal with a
cargo of lumber, or took it to the Mediterranean. After disposing of their cargo, again a t a profit, they plied from port to
port in the Mediterranean until they got good offers for their
ships which they then sold and, returning to England, did the
same thing again. " By this means multitudes of seamen are
brought up " evidently to the great advantage of England.
The Plantations thus benefited the mother country in many
T h e slave trade to them was profitable, they supplied
more tobacco and sugar than was wanted in England and the
surplus was sold in Europe; they formed profitable markets for
English manufactured goods and most of their money came to
Above all, they greatly increased the volume of
commerce carried in British ships.
Of the East India trade Mr. Gee says : " W e send great
quantities of bullion there and purchase at very low prices the
products of India and China which are brought home in our
navigation, out of which we supply ourselves with muslins,
calicoes and other cotton cloths, as also coffee, tea and raw silk,
and, it is supposed, sell to foreigners as much of the said commodities as repay for all the bullion shipped out and leave us
besides a very considerable balance upon that trade."
thinks the Company should issue licences to private merchants
to trade to China, particularly to the northern ports, as the
China trade might be greatly increased and silk, etc., bought
nearer to the provinces which produce the raw materials.
Licences of this sort had already been issued for the coasting
trade of India.
Mr. Gee considered that the great increase of our treasure
proceeds " chiefly from the labour of negroes in the Plantations," that, in fact, our wealth, like that of Greece and other
early powers, was founded on slave labour; he considered that
our commerce, manufactures and shipping were lesser adjuncts.
H e therefore devotes his suggestions to means whereby the
Plantations may be developed to supply all the raw materials
which could be manufactured in England, slave labour being
used in the production ; to the improvement of industrial conditions, and to the winning of markets. Holland, like the Hansa
towns and Phcenicia of old, was thriving on commerce alone,
France was advancing to wealth on her agriculture and industries; as yet the revolution in industry, which the introduction
of machinery was to bring about, was not in sight; the days
when England was to combine the commercial qualities which
had given power to the Dutch with the industrial system which
was the backbone of France, to add to them a great colonial
empire all depending on sea communications, and to rise to
greater power than either of her rivals, could not be foreseen at
This glimpse of British commerce of the period when the
great struggles against powerful rivals were far from ended,
OUTLINES OF HISTORY.-V.
and when success was still doubtful, may help the reader to a
clearer understanding of the wars with which the 1 6 t h ~
18th centuries were filled.
Economical influences pIayed a
greater part both in causing wars and in bringing success or
failure, than is sometimes realised. On the othel nand, the results of wars greatly affected commerce. Of this I have not
attempted to deal in this article, not because 1 do not realise
its importance, but because the wars and their results are so
much better known than the economical side of the history.
In the Seven Years' W a r the Navy most completely fulfilled
its rBle from a commercial point of view. It drew but little on
the man power and the factories of the country, yet it formed a
shield behind which commerce and industry could continue unabated, whilst it drove our greatest rivals from the more important sea routes.
C O N D U C T O F T H E C H A N N E L FLEE?' IN
1779 AGAINST S U P E R I O R FORCE.
DURING critical years of the W a r of American Independence
the Fleets of France and Spain in European waters were greatly
superior in number to that of Great Britain. In face of these
superior forces the British Chann,el Fleet had to protect the
United Kingdom against invasion, and also to safeguard the
arrival and departure of the great convoys which maintained
our communications with the outer world and with our forces
in America, at Gibraltar, and in the East and West Indies.
Our fleets on foreign stations were maintained at a bare
equality with those of France; this left us with a fleet in the
Channel of about thirty-five sail of the line, confronting a
French fleet of about thirty at Brest, and a Spanish fleet of
about thirty-six at Cadiz.
Three times the Combined Fleet of France and Spain
appeared in the Channel with a superiority of about two to
one. On each occasioil it failed to achieve any material result,
either against the British Fleet, or against the convoys whose
movements the latter covered.
Three times the British Fleet succeeded in throwing supplies
into Gibraltar in face of the superior fleet blockading it.
T h e paper which follows deals with the first and most
dangerous of the three incursions of the Combined Fleet into
the Channel, that of 1779. Its object is to show how the existence of a hostile fleet which retains its freedom of action and
striking power, even if greatly inferior in number and handled
with the utmost caution, may cause the breakdown of a
deliberately planned operation.
Incidentally, the quotations given from the letters of
Kempenfelt, the Captain of the Fleet, to Sir Charles Middleton,'
1 bIiddl,eton was Co,ntro:l'er. till 1795, and later, as Lord Barham, First Lord
during the Trafalgar Campaign. Bes,ides this connfection with th'e later war it
is not likely that Kernpenfelt's opinions were also those of Howe.
used.--Barhlam papers, Val. I. Colomb's Naval WarNOTE:-Authorities
fare, ch. viii Laird Clowes' History of the Royal Navy, ch. xxi., by Mahan.
Histoire de la Marin~e Fraslca,isse, Chevalier. Journal of Sir Charl,es Hardy,
amnd I n and Out Le:~,ers, Record Ofice. Barrow's L i f e of Howme.
Ha'rdy's journal gives ma more than the b~ald facts, and csompar,es very
unfavonrably with that of Jerxris. The volunt,e,er referr,ed to in Section I was
Sir Benjamin TIiompslon, Count Von Rumford: an experimenter in gunpowder
(see Dictionary of Ziationnl Biography). The writ,er saw sNomme
1,etters of his from the Victory several years a g o ; the extract giv,en is one of
the only notes he mad'e. As f a r as he knomws tbey harme n.ever be,en published.
CONDUCT OF THE CHANNEL FLEET I N
then Controller of the Navy, indicate the influence of the events
of 1779 on the naval
adopted during the Napoleonic
On March 18111, 1779, Admiral the Hon. Augustus Keppel,
Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet, struck his flag and
came on shore, in protest against his treatment by the Admiralty.
The majority of the flag officers on the active list supported his
action, and declined to serve. Lord Howe, for example, said
in the House of Coinmons that " it would not be prudent to
trust the little reputation he had earned by forty years service,
his personal honour, and everything else, which he held dear,
in the hands of nlen who had neither the ability to act on their
own judgment, nor the integrity and good sense to follow the
advice of others, who might know more of the matter " (Barrow,
In consequence, the command was given to Admiral Sir
Charles Hardy, the Governor of Greenwich Hospital. His last
sea service had been as second in command to Hawlte, 20
years before. H e was 63, and old for his a g e ; he had, in fact,
but I4 months to llve. His feelings towards the Government
seem to have differed only in degree from those of his brother
officers, for it was written of him by one who served in his
flagship a s a volunteer1 and he " evidently meant to take a s
small a share of responsibility upon himself as possible, to
procrastinate as long as he could, and when he was obliged to
act, to make ministers responsible for the consequences if he
His First Captain was Richard Kempenfelt.
years junior to his Admiral he was only two years younger ;%ut
he was still at the height of his powers, and, next to Lord Howe,
he was probably the most capable and clear-headed officer of
Under these circumstances the impatience of the criticisms
upon Sir Charles Hardy in Kempenfelt's letters to Sir Charles
Middleton is not difficult to understand. Though nothing can
excuse his private comments, there is no reason to doubt his
public loyalty to his Admiral, or to suspect that they were on
bad terms with one another.
In fact Kempenfelt himself
declares : " I have not, nor never had, any variance with him
(Sir Charles Hardy); he is good-natured, honest, has many
private virtues which I esteem him for; but as an officer, you
know my opinion " (Barham Papers, I . 298).
Count von Rumford.
I t was probably lack of influence, due to his Swedish ancestry, which
prevented Kempenfelt from becoming ,a Captain at the early age then common.
Hardy. Born 1716, Post Captain 1741, Rear Admiral 1756.
Howe. Barn 1726, Post Captain 1746, Rear Admiral 1770.
Kcm,penftlt. Born 1718, Post C~aptain1757, Rear Admiral 1780.
Such was the state of affairs in the British Fleet.
character of the Ccinmandei-in-Chief, and the general bitterness both against Sandwich, the First Lord, and against the
corrupt administration of Lord North, intensified by the recent
court martial upon Keppel, were alike unfavourable to anything
but a policy of caution.
On April ~ z t h ,1779, about three weeks after Hardy had
hoisted his flag in the Victory, Spain made a secret alliance with
France, and the British Fleet lost the bare superiority in numbers
it had hitherto possessed.
T h e plan agreed upon between France and Spain was to
send a Combined Fleet to seize the roadstead of St. Helen's,
and from that point of vantage to land a force of fifty thousand
men in England.
The fleets were to assemble off Cizarga
Island, 20 miles west oi Corunna, and proceed to St. Helen's.
T h e troops were to e~nbark Havre and St. Malo, and occupy
the Isle of W i g h t as a base for further operations on the mainland.
I n order to forestall the appearance Af a British Fleet off
Ushant, the French Fleet under d'orvilliers was hurried to sea
from Brest on June 4th. On June I ~ t it reached the rendezvous
at Cizarga Island. Here, however, d'orvilliers had to wait six
weeks for the Spaniards, due it is said to Spanish pride being
hurt at serving under a French Coininander-in-Chief. Whatever
the reason, the delay was disastrous to the Allied plan of campaign, for the French Fleet had gone to sea ill-prepared for a
long cruise, and at the critical moment its ships were short of
victuals and water, and many of its men were down with
smallpox and scurvy.
On June 16th Sir Charles Hardy left St. Ilelen's with about
thirty sail of the line to take up the watch upon the French
Fleet in Brest. H e had orders to return to the Lizard if the
French Fleet escaped and his intelligence was not certain
enough to enabie him to follow it; he was to regard the
protection of Great Brltain and Ireland as his principal object.
On the same day Great Britain declared war on Spain, and
warning was sent to Hardy that the Spanish Fleet was said to
be preparing for sea, with directions that if he got certain
intelligence that the French and Spanish Fleets had joined and
considered them too strong to fight, he was to return to Torbay
or Spithead and await orders.
On June zznd, shortly after reaching Ushant, Hardy got
news froill a ship he spoke, that the French Fleet had sailed 18
days before; on the zjth, lacking further intelligence, he
returned to the Lizard.
CONDUCT OF THE CHANNEL FLEET I N
On July and, vhen off the Lizard, Hardy got intelligence
from a Genoese ship that she had seen a French Fleet off Finisterre on June 10th.
This was the day before d'Orvilliers
reached his rendezvous off Cizarga Island.
" My situation is extremely disagreeable," wrote ICempenfelt
to Middleton (Hnrham Papers, I .292) ; " 1 would give all the
little I am worth to be out of it. Does the people at home
think the nation in no danger? Where is Lord Howe at this
alarming pcriod? I can't say more, you'll divine the rest. I
can foresee no prospect at present.
" All seems to depend on the abilities with which this Fleet
is conducted ; let that be well considered."
On receiving Hardy's dispatch of the 2 jth, the Admiralty
wrote to him that he was not to return into port unless absolutely
On July 3rd, however, a westerly gale got up,
which drove the Channel Fleet into Torbay, where it anchored
on' the 6th. Water was already short, and the ships were
ordered to complete with all despatch.
On July 8th the Admiralty instructed Hardy to carry out his
original orders, and to keep so far to the westward as to prevent
the fleet being driven into port again.
Hardy left Torbay on the 14th and reached Ushant on the
~ 1 s t . Here he got intelligence from ships he spoke, that the
Spanish ships from C'orunna had joined d'Orvilliers, and that
the Cadiz Fleer was at sea.
Hardy accordingly returned
towards the Lizard, but in consequence of westerly winds made
Plymouth instead, where he awaited further orders.
On the 28th the Admiralty repeated their orders of the Sth,
and on the 29th issued the following revised instructions.
The enemy were believed to intend the invasion of England,
and an attack upon the Leeward Islands and East India convoys,
shortly expected in the Channel. Hardy was to proceed as far
to the westward as he judged necessary, and to make the best use
possible of the ships at his disposal to prevent the enemy carrying his designs into execution ; and not to leave his station while
his provisions and water would allow him to keep the sea. T h e
choice of position was left t o I-Iardy. I n acknowledging these
orders Hardy proposed to cruise from 10 to 2 0 leagues 1V.S.W.
of Scilly, as being the best station for meeting the incoming
trade, and the enemy " if t h e y attempt to come into the
T h e words in italics, underlined by Hardy, suggest
that he still did not expect them to appear.
T h e Leeward
Islands convoy was sighted on July 3oth, and seen up Channel
in safety, and on August st, a convoy from Cork, but there
was still no news of the enemy.
W e have three letters written by Kempenfelt to Middleton
during this anxious time. The first gives Kempenfelt's own
plan for dealing with the enemy, a plan he has able to execute
himself in 1781 ; the other two express his view of Hardy
(Barham Papers, I .292-294).
. J u l y 27th.-"
Much, I may say almost all, depends upon
this fleet ; 'tis an inferior against a superior fleet; therefore the
greatest skill and address is requisite to counteract the designs
of the enemy, to watch and seize the favourable opportunity for
action, and to catch the advantage of making the effort at some
or other feeble part of the enemy's line; or, if such opportunities
don't offer, to be ever near the enemy, keep him at bay, and
prevent his attempting to execute anything but at risk and
hazard; to comnla~ldtheir attention, and oblige them to think
of nothing LULbeing on guard against your attack.
" Have the rilinistry sought for a head capable of such
management and dexterity, or do they think that ships are
sufficient of ~heniselves,without wisdom to direct or order their
operations? S o much indifference at so dangerous a crisis is
astonishing and alarming. Adieu, the cutter is going."
I have scarce time to write to you; a
perpetual hurry prevails here, which, from the natural consequence of hurry, produces nothing to the purpose.
" In confidence, I must inform you the confused conduct here
is such that I tremble for the event. There is no forethought,
therefore n o eveats provided against; we are every day, from
morning till night, plagued and puzzled in minutiae, whilst
essentials are totally neglected. An odd obstinacy and wa of
negativing everything proposed, makes all advice use ess.
There is a fund of good-nature in the man, but not one grain
of the Commander-in-Chief ."
. . . . It is with the greatest difficulty
I can ever prevail upon hinl to rnanceuvre the Fleet; he is always
(so) impatient and in (such) a hurry to get to the westward, to
the northward, or the southward, that he won't lose time to form
Thus did the state of affairs strike Kernpenfelt. The event
showed that he had correctly estimated the effect of the British
Fleet upon the mind of the enemy. Hardy may have been as
impatient and inaccessible to advice as Kernpenfelt saw him, but
none the less his cautious policy succeeded.
T h e Spanish division from Ferrol joined d'orvilliers on
July znd, t h e e weeks after the latter had reached the rendezvous; three weeks later, on July 23rd, the main body under
Cordova arrived from Cadiz. There was more delay while the
French signal boolts were translated and distributed to the
Spanish ships, and it was not until August 7th that the Combined Fleet made Ushant. Here d'orvilliers had hoped to fill
up his depleted ships with provisions, but he only got a small
CONDUCT O F T H E C H A N N E L FLEET IN
Writing to the n'Iinister of Marine on August znd,
d'orviliiers had stated his intentions as follows (Chevalier,
p. 165) :.
" W e shall search for the enemy along the coast as far
as St. Helen's Road, and then, if I find the roads empty, or
am able to take possession of them, I shall send word to M. de
Vaux at Havre, in accordance with your instructions, and
inform llini what steps I shall take to ensure the safety of his
passage, which will depend on the main force of the English
Fleet; that is to say, I shall dispose, on the one hand, the
Combined Fleet to contain the enemy, and I shall detach, on
the other, a light squadron and a sufficient force of ships of the
line and frigates, or I shall propose to M. de Cordova to carry
out that duty, in order that the army may have a clear and safe
" I anticipate that then, either by the battle i shall force upon
the enemy, or by his retreat into harbour, I shall be certain of
his situation and of the success of the operation."
Before proceeding with this plan d'orvilliers proposed to
anchor in Torbay and take in the provisions he had demanded
from Brest. On August 14t11, the Combined Fleet reached the
Lizard, and on the I jth, the Eddystone, without encountering
a single British vessel. French frigates anchored in Cawsand
Bay and captured several privateers and coasting vessels.
On August 16th the Ardent, 64, coming out of Torbay to
join the Channel Fleet, mistook the Combined Fleet for her
own, steered to close it and was captured. T h e Marlborough,
coming from Spithead, avoided capture, and carried the first
news of the Combined Fleet's appearance to the British Fleet.
X sloop she had in company took the same news to Plymouth.
On the same day, August 16th, d'orvilliers received new
orders from the Minlster of Marine. H e was now to blockade
the English Flee: in Plymouth, and detach two divisions, one
to St. Malo, and the other to Havre, to escort the transports
to a point on the Cornish Coast, near Falmouth, where the
landing was to be made. D'Orvilliers replied that a sheltered
anchorage was absolutely necessary for his fleet to receive
provisions and ride out the autumn gales, and that Falmouth
was too dangerous a roadstead. Meanwhile, he continued his
passage towards Torbay.
The wind had now shifted to the eastward, and the Combined Fleet had to beat up Channel against it. By the 17th
the fleet had worked up a s far as Torbay, but the east wind was
increasing to such an extent as to make tile anchorage unsafe.
The wind continued fresh from the east for several days and
drove the Combined Fleet down Channel.
On August zznd, the Spanish ships transferred some of their
provisions and water to the French ships most short of them.
This step completed the victuals of the Combined Fleet as a
whole up till September 30th.
Hardy was now over ~ o o
miles to leeward. The easterly
gale put it out of his power to interfere directly with the Allied
operations, but as long as ~t held, the Combined Fleet could
neither proceed with its plan of campaign, nor take in the provisions and water requlred to enable it to maintain its position
in the Channel and await a better opportunity.
On Augilst ~ z t h ,when the Combined Fleet entered the
Channel, the British Fleet was 34 miles S.S.E. of Scilly,
working to the westward against a steady westerly blow; on
the 15th it had reached a position 47 miles mT.b S. of Scilly,
with plenty of sea-room, and well to windward of any landfall
the enemy might make, so long as the wind held westerly.
On August 17th, when the British Fleet was 66 miles S.75'T/V.
of Scilly-, the west wind dropped, and light easterly airs set
in. At 3 p.m. the Southampton joined with the news that the
Combined Fleet was in the Channel.
At j p.m. the Marlborough arrived with the same intelligence, and the signal was
made to prepare for action. T h e news was confirmed by the
Jupiter which joined on the ~ 1 s t .
On the 21st the easterly wind freshened, and by the 25th
Sir Charles Hardy had been driven beyond the S.W. limit of
his station, about IOO miles S.W. of Scilly. None the less, the
discovery that he was at sea, and in a position to regain the
Channel as soon as the wind veered to the westward, completely
paralysed the operations of the enemy.
T h e news that the British Fleet was off' Scilly, and not, as
d'orvilliers had hoped, in harbour, reached the Combined
Upon this a council of war was
Fleet on August 25th.
assembled, which decided unanimously that, in view of the
increase of dlsease in the French ships and the shortage of
provisions and water, the Combined Fleet sl~ouldeither seek
the British Fleet in the Channel Soundings or wait for it there.
T h e council further decided that it would be necessary in any
case to terminate the cruise on September Bth, and that then,
conformably to the orders received by the Spanish Admiral, the
Allies should separate as soon as convenient.
Thus ended the Allied attempt to carry out an invasion of
England. As long as the British Fleet retained its freedom of
action, the conditions laid down by d'orvilliers as essential
to the success of the operation could not be fulfilled. Before he
could proceed with it, he must bring the British Fleet to action
or drive it into port; without provisions he could not remain
in the Channel; with :in easterly wind he could not find shelter