Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Estimates of the Streng:k of France and Russiu.

Russia : for the interposition of that government the price ha's long been fixed; it is the implicit obedience of the parties to the will of the Court of Petersburgh. The Emperor Paul believing that he had injuries to retaliate on Great Britain, so peremptory were his orders upon this occasion, that in the midst of winter, he obliged the king of Sweden to come, at the immediate risk of his life, to Petersburgh, and sanction his hostile determination in his presence. The Prince Royal of Denmark having expressed a wish to modify the pretensions set up in the deed that was sent him to sign, the emperor instantaneously decreed, that the race of Danes should be extirpated from the face of the earth; and he dismissed the Danish mission, not only from his residence, but from the territories of Russia. The court of Berlin, not having forgotten Mr. Fawkener's mission to Petersburgh in 1791, with Hanover, and a prospect of Holland in her eye*, Prussia encouraged the pretensions of Russia ; and 'Buonaparte had a strong army on the frontiers of Westphalia. In this predicament, what were the governments of Denmark and Sweden to do? To forget all their altercations, and offer an accommodation with Great Britain? That they had already tried without success; besides, it was now too late; to have been suspected of such a demarche, would have caused their certain ruin before we could have given them

any relieft, and what certainty could they have, that, in case of need we would make any effort to relieve them? We had disregarded all their advances until we saw the emperor's hostile flag hoisted on Cronslot. Had Paul I. agreed to strike that flag, and to accept the export duties on his hemp to be paid in Russian rubles instead of Spanish and Albert dollars, how could the kings of Sweden and Denmark know but it might be inserted in the

1

• It was a speculation of the great king of Prussia, to have settled the crown of Poland, hereditary in the family of the Prince of Orange, and to have transferred the Stadtholdership to the House of Brandenburgh. We recollect that this project was mentioned in an indirect manner in London about 20 years ago; but to propose Prussia as a maritime power, was then considered as little less than high treason. This shews that old England is in some things consistent in her politics; that Spaniards and Italians, might not become sailors, we guaranteed the Spanish empire to the Frenců monarchy; and nearly a hundred years afterwards, that Dutch sailors should not become Prussians, we have preferred that the Batavian republic belong to the French consulate; France, Italy, Spain, and Holland make now but one state; whereas had Spain and Holland been enabled (as they but very lately might) to maintain their independency, we wnuld have had still three maritime powers to cope with. By a similar train of good luck, assisted by our steady system of policy, we shall also see in. corporated, the powers of Denmark aud Sweden, with those of the Russian empire, and all the three will then make only one power.

† When the king of Prussia was marching his troops towards the frontiers of Holstein, the king of Sweden mustering his whole army, partly on the frontiers of Norway, and partly in sight of Copenhagen, and a huadred thousand Russians cantoned on the coast of Livonia ready to march, or to be embarked, it was scarcely to be supposed that the Prince Royal of Denmark could then, in March 1601, publicly receive two Englist plenipotentiaries at his court. VOL. IV. NO, 21.

[2G]

Estimates of the Strength of Frunce and Russin. contract, that Russia should next day possess herself of Finland and the island of Gothland, and that Prussia might march lier troops into Holstein, as they left Hanover ? Such things they had seen happen before*. In short, upon this occasion, the courts of Denmark and Sweden were absolutely compelled to accede to the emperor's Ukase of armed hostility. The affair of Copenhagen ensued, and that cemented their dependency.

Thus were the powers, and what is of infinitely more importance, the localities of Denmark and Sweden, added to the immense power of Russia. A fair estimation of this aggregate, of the effects which its co-operation with France might produce, and of the probability that such a co-operation may take place, should have made the criterion whereby our propositions to Russia, after the battle of Copenhagen, should have been measured. We had yet then full hands, and might, with perfect safety to ourselvest, have gone to any length that could have been demanded.

* Upon this trying occasion, a retrospective view of our general conduct towards the secondary powers, operated strongly on the minds of the northern governments. Our policy towards the republic of the United Provinces and the House of Orange, from our campaign with Van Tromp in 1652, to that with admiral Story in the Zuyder-zee in 1799. Our desertion of the declining cause of the House of Austria at Utrecht, and on several other occasions, and our suspicious conduct towards the King of Prussia in 1762, were scrupulously analyzed; and upon impartial examination, the result was found, not to be of such a nature as could inspire the sovereigns of Denmark and Sweden with any confidence in our protection. Besides these, the king of Sweden had fresh in his mind the promises we made of feets and armies, to bis father in 1788, 1789, and 1790. Nor had the Prince Royal of Denmark forgotten the blustering menaces of the British ministers at Copenhagen and Petersburgh upon that occasion, Both princes knew, that we had 'pledged the faith of the nation to Turkey, to Prussia, and to Poland; and they recollected our shameful compromise with the empress Catherine in 1791, whereby those powers were, for some paltry mercantile consideration, abandoned to the mercy of Russia.

How far our late negociations, and the result of them are calculated to inspire the continental governments with a confidence in our future friendship, will be noticed in a second part of these sketches.

+ That Russia, were she as much mistress of the Mediterranean as she is of the Baltic with St. Domingo, the Philippine Islands, and California added to her dominions, should ever become a naval power in anywise formidable to Great Britain, is, from her geographical situation, and the extent of her inland territories, a moral impossibility. But these, or other such possessions, would have rendered her power by land, and the powers of France by sea, much less formidable to our interests than they are likely to turn out.

It was a favourite scheme, of the late empress Catherine, to establish, what she called a naval equilibrium in Europe: to accomplish which project, she intended to secure one, or two invulnerable naval posts in the Levant, or in the Archipelago, and to maintain there, as well as in the Baltic, a strong fleet; that in case of war between the great masitime powers, she (Russia) might lend her right hand, or her left, or act with botlı, for, or against either of the parties, as circumstances and her own interests should point out. Estimates of the Strength of France and Russia. Russia demanded for herself and dependent allies, an interest upon the ocean, proportionate to her rank and to their maritime localities, with the freedom of cultivating that interest. These Great Britain could have granted and guaranteed for ever. The sources of the maritime trade of the world were at our discretion; we could have divided them so as to have consolidated our own political rank and naval superiority; and in that division, we might have satisfied all parties, at the same time rendering the most formidable powers dependent upon our friendship.

It was to carry this plan into effect that the empress equipt her fleet at Cronstadt, in 1779 and 1780. And not, as was absurdly pretended by our official men at the time to join the British navy against France and recover America; nor yet, as we were told, to lead forth an armed neutrality against thai navy. Catherine hated the Am. - can revolutionists, but she wished that revolution to succeed; she believed that the independency of America would make Great Britain more dependent on the trade of Russia, and that the British government would thereby become more subservient to her politics: but had she seen an appearance of France acquiring a superiority on the ocean, she would inmediately, with her own and all her dependent neutral fleets, have joined the British standard.

(To be continued.)

MILITARY CHRONICLE.

JULY, 1812.

SONTAINING THE GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY, PROMOTIONS, &c.

LONDON GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY.-WAR DEPARTMENT.

DOWNING-STREET, JUNE 17, 1812. Mujor Currie, Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill, arrived this evening

at Lord Bathurst's Office, with a dispatch, of which the following is an extract, addressed to the Earl of Liverpool, by General the Earl of Wellington, dated Fuente Guinulde, 28th May 1812.

WHEN I found that the enemy had retired from this frontier, on the 24th of April, I directed Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill to carry into execution the operations against the eneray's posts and establishments at the passage of the Tagus, at Almaraz.

Owing to the necessáry preparations for this expedition, Lieutenant.general Sir Rowland Hill could not begin his march, with part of the 2d division of infantry, till the 12th instant, and he attained the objects of his expedition on the 19th, by taking by storm Forts Napoleon and Ragusa, and the tétes-du-pont and other works, by which the enemy's bridge was guarded, by destroying those forts and works, and the enemy's bridge and other establishments, and by taking their magazines and 259 prisoners, and 18 pieces of cannon.

I have the honour to inclose Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill's report of this brilliant exploit; and I beg to draw your Lordship's attention to the difficulties with which te had to contend, as well from the nature of the country, as from the works which the enemy bad constructed, and to the ability and the sharacteristic qualities

Gazelte Extraordinary.Dispatches from Lord Wellington, displayed by Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill in persevering in the line, and confining himself to the objects chalked out by his instructions, not withstanding the various obstacles opposed to his progress.

I have nothing in add to Lieutenant-general Sir R. Hill's report of the conduct of the officers and troops under his command, excepting to express my concurrence in all he says in their praise. Too much cannot be said of the brave officers and troops who took by storm, without the assistance of cannon, such works as the enemy's forts on both banks of the Tagus, fully garrisoned, in good order, and defended by 18 pieces of artillery.

Your Lordship is aware that the road of Almaraz affords the only good military communication across the 'Tagus, and from the Tagus to the Guadiana, below Toledo. All the permanent bridges below the bridge of Arzobispo have been destroyed during the war, by one or other of the belligerents, and the enemy have found it impossible to repair them. Their bridge which Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill has destroyed, was one of boats; and I doubt their having the means of re-placing it. The communications from the bridges of Arzobispo and Talavera to the Guadiana, are very difficult, and cannot be deemed military communications for a large army. The result, then, of Lieutenant-general Hill's expedition has been, to cut off the shortest and best commu. nication betwecn the armies of the South and of Portugal.

Nearly about the time that the enemy's troops, reported in my last dispatch to have moved into the Condado de Niebla, marched from Seville, it is reported that another considerable detachment under Marshal Soule went towards the blockade of Cadiz, and it was expected that another attack was to be made upon Tariffa.

It appears, liowever, that the enemy received early intelligence of Sir Rowland Hill's march. The troops under the command of General Drunet made a movement to their left, and arrived upon the Guadiana at Medellin on the 17tb instant; and on the 18th, a detachment of the cavalry under the command of the same general drove in, as far as Ribera, the piquets of Lieutenant-general Sir Williain Erskine’s division of cavalry, which had remained in Lower Estramadura, with a part of the second division of infantry, and Lieutenant-general Hamilton's division of infantry. Marshal Sonlt likewise moved from the blockade of Cadiz towards Cordova; and the troops which had marched from Seville into the Condado de Niebla, returned to Seville nearly about the same time; but Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill bad attained his object on the 19th, and had returned to 'Truxillo, and was beyond all risk of being attacked by a superior force on the 21st. The enemy's trcops have retired into Cordova.

Since the accounts have been received of Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill's expedition, the enemy's troops have likewise been put in motion in Old and New Castile; the first division, under General Foy, and a division of the army of the centre, under General d'Armagnac, crossed the Tagus by the bridge of Arzobispo on the 21st, and have moved by the road of Deleytosa, to relieve or withdraw the post which still remained in the tower of Mirabete.

The whole of the army of Portugal have likewise made a movement to their lest; the second division being on the Tagus, and Marshal Marmont's head quarters have been removed from Salamanca to Fontieros.

By a letter from Sir Howard Douglas, of the 24th instant, I learn that the troops under General Bunnet, after having made two plundering excursions towards the frontiers of Galicia, had again entered the Asturias, and was, on the 17th, in possession of Oviedo, Gijon, and Grado.

In the meantime tbe troops under General Mendizabel are in possession of the towa of Burgos, the enemy still keeping the castle; and in all parts of the country the boldness and activity of the chiefs of Guerillas are increasing, and their operations against the enemy are becoming daily more important.

I forward this dispatch by Major Currie, Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant-general Sir Rowland Hill, whom I beg leave to recommend to your Lordship's notice and pran tection.

TRUXILLO, May 21, 1812. My Lord.—I have the satisfaction to acquaint your Lordship, that your instructions relative to the capture and destruction of the enemy's works at Almaraz have been most fully carried into effect by a detachment of troops under my orders, which marched from Almendralejo on the 12th instant.

The bridge was, as your Lordship knows, protected by strong works, thrown up by the French on both sides of the river, and further covered on the southern side by the

1

[ocr errors]

Gazette Extraordinary.--Dispatches from Lord Wellington. castle and redoubts of Mirabete, about a league off, commanding the pass of that name, through which runs the road to Madrid, being the only one passable for carriages of any description by which the bridge can be approached.

The works on the left bank of the river were a tête-do-point, built of masonry, and strongly intrenched, and on the high ground above it, a large and well constructed fort, called Napoleon, with an interior intrenchment, and loop-boled tower in its centre. This fort contained nine pieces of cannon, with a garrison of between four and five hundred men. There being also on the upposite side of the river, on a height imme diately above the bridge, a very complete turt recently constructed, which flanked and added much to its desence.

On the morning of the 16th, the troops reached Jaraicejo, and on the same evening marched in three columns; the left column, commanded by Lieutenant-general Chowne, (28th and 34th regiments, under Colonel Wilson, and the 6th Portuguese Caçadores), towards the castle of Mirabete; the right colamn, under Major-general Howard, (50th, 71st, and 92d regiments), which I accompanied myself, to a pass in the mountains, through which a most difficult and circuitous foot-path leads by the village of Romangordo to the bridge; the centre column, under Major-general Long (6th and 18th Pori tuguese infantry, under Colonel Ashworth, and 13th light dragoons, with the artillery,) advanced upon the high road, to the pass of Mirabete.

The two fank columns were provided with ladders, and it was intended that either of them should proceed to escalade the forts against which they were directed, had cir. cumstances-proved favourable; the difficulties, however, which cach had to encounter on its march were such, that it was impossible for them to reach their respective points before day-break; I judged it best, therefore, as there was no longer a possibility of surprise, to defer the attack, until we should be better acquainted with the nature and positions of the works, and the troops bivouacqued on the Leina.

I determined on endeavouring to penetrate to the bridge by the mountain path lead. ing through the village of Romangordo, althougla by that means I should be deprived of the use of my artillery.

On the evening of the 18th I moved with Major-general Howard's brigade, and the 6th Portuguese regiment for the operation, provided with scaling ladders, &c. Although the distance marched did not exceed five or six miles, the difficulties of the road were such, that with the united exertions of officers and men, the column could not be formed for the attack before day-light. Confiding, however, in the valour of the troops, I ordered the immediate assault of Fort Napoleon. My confidence was fully justified by the event.

The first battalion of the 50t!, and one wing of the 71st régiment, regardless of the enemy's artillery and musketry, escaladed the work in three places, nearly at the same time. The enemy seemed at first determined, and his fire was destructive, but the ara deur of our troops was irresistible, and the garrison was driven at the point of the bayonet, through the several intrenchments of the fort and tête-du-pont, across the bridge, which Having been cut by those on the opposite side of the river, many leaped into the river, and thus perished.

The impression made npon the enemy's troops was such, that panic soon communicated itself to those on the right bank of the river, and Fort Ragusa was instantly abandoned, the garrison fying in the greatest confusion, towards Navul Moral.

I cannot sufficiently praise the conduct of the 50th and 7 1st règiments, to whom the assault fell. The cool and steady manner in which they formed and advanced, and the intrepidity with which they mounted the ladders, and carried the place, was worthy of those distinguished corps, and the officers who led them.

Could the attack have been made before day, the 92d regiment, under Lieutenantcolonel Cameron, and the remainder of the 71st regiment, under the Honourable Lieutenant-colonel Cadogan, were to have escaladed the tête-du-pont, and effected the destruction of the bridge, at the same time that the attack was made on Fort Napoleon. The impossibility of advancing deprived them of this opportunity of distinguishing them selves, but the share which they had in the operation, and the zeal which they displayed, entitles them to my warmest commendation; and I cannot avoid to mention the steadiness and good discipline of the 6th Portuguese infantry, and 'r wo companies of the 60tb regies ment, under Colonel Ashworth, which formed the reserve to this attack.

Our operations in this quurter were much favoured by a diversion made by Lieutenantgeneral Chowne, with the troops under his orders, against the castle or Mirabete, which fucceeded in inducing the enemy to believe that we should not attuck the forts dear theVOL. IV. NO. 21.

2 G

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »