Phormio, the Athenians, and the Origins of the Peloponnesian War

Phormio: The Athenians, & the Origins of the Peloponnesian War (432-427)

Phormio, son of Asopius, was born circa 480 BC. A recurring character in Thucydides (c. 460-400), Phormio’s career spanned the rise of the Athenian empire and the Peloponniesian Wars (460-445, 432-404). A contemporary of Pericles (495-429), Phormio is known to history primarily for his crushing victories over the Peloponnesians, in the tradition of Themistocles or Cimon, at Naupactus (modern Lepanto) on the Corinthian Gulf. The relevant background, and Phormio’s involvement in this campaign, are described by Thucydides in Book Two of his History of the Peloponnesian War, and through a collection of fragmentary sources.

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Phormio has become a figure of significant historical interest for his role during the first three years of the Great (Second) Peloponnesian War, 431-428, and several scholars have dedicated entire chapters to his exploits.[1] Phormio’s proficiency at maritime warfare, his unconventional tactics, guile, and ability to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, has ensured his legacy in the Western tradition. Phormio’s plaudits from modern historians are many: he has been described as “wily” by Donald Kagan,[2] “an exemplar of Athenian dash and enterprise” and as a commander who “personified the spirit and skill of the Athenian navy,” by H. D. Westlake,[3] and John Hale wrote that Phormio’s “…genius lay in quick improvisation on unexpected themes, and in his conviction that every situation, no matter how discouraging, offered a chance for victory.”[4] Who was this obscure fifth century Athenian?

This post provides the necessary background to contextualize for the modern reader the 5th century struggle between the Athenian empire and the Peloponnesian League, and presents a reconstruction of Phormio’s career, culminating in the battle narrative of his stunning victories in 429.

Athens, Sparta and the Peloponnesian Wars

Horseman

Bronze statuette of a warrior on horseback, wearing a Corinthian helmet, c. 560-550 BC from Taranto.

“The Greek city-state was a strange little world, very different from the medieval town in western Europe. The latter was quite separate from the countryside: it was self-contained, with political and economic benefit reserved to the privileged townspeople who lived intra muros. The Greek polis on the other hand, while ‘linked to an urban centre, was not identical with it’. The ‘citizens’ were residents of a territory greater than the city itself, which was only one element in the state, though an important one of course, since everyone made use of its market-place or agora, its citadel a place of refuge, and its temple devoted to the divine protector of the polis.[5]

Classical Hellas was as “a pattern of islands, whether real islands in the sea or ‘islands on dry land’. Each of the Greek city-states occupied a limited terrain, with a few cultivated fields, two or three areas of grazing land for horses, enough vines and olive-groves to get by, some bare mountain slopes inhabited by herds of goats and sheep…”[6]

– Fernand Braudel

Berlin Antiquites

Hoplite statue from Dodona, c. 510-500 BC, Berlin Antiquities Collection. Note the Boeotian shield.

In the decades immediately following the Persian Wars (490-479), the Athenians emerged from the Spartan-led pan-Greek alliance as a thalassocracy, or sea power. Under the able guidance of Themistocles, Cimon, and then Pericles, the Athenians came to dominate the Aegean, and large portions of Boeotia and Thrace. This was an inevitable development for Athens, a city that possessed a dedicated domestic production capacity in the form of metals, marble, ceramics, oil, wine, wool, dye, and textiles,[7] and a sophisticated system of public finance, all gravitating around the unique Athenian democracy.

The large, publicly financed, workforce of slaves and government servants in Athens, and its Aegean periphery, meant that it was imperative to perpetually import foodstuffs, principally grain and fish, to survive.[8] Suppressing piracy, and ensuring the regularity of maritime trade, was therefore a priority for the Athenian navy, which acted as an Aegean police force, and maintained good order at sea.[9]

Artesmision

Statue of Zeus or Poseidon, Cape Artemision, Euboea, 460 BC

Themistocles, who destroyed Xerxes’ Phoenician and Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Salamis in 480, cleared the way for Cimon (510-450) to begin expelling the Persians from Thessaly, Thrace and Ionia. Cimon, the son of Miltiades (550-489) who had fought alongside Themistocles and Callimachus at Marathon in 490, launched his aggressive empire-building campaign in 477. The date 477 is significant, as it was at this time that the corruption and excesses of the Spartan general Pausanias caused the first Ionian allies to join Athens in an attempt to break Sparta’s hegemony.[10] Eion fell in 476, and the Athenians gained their first foothold on the Chalcidice peninsula. The war against Persia culminated in the decisive, combined arms, battle of the Eurymedon in 469/6. A major rebellion on Naxos was suppressed in 466, and in 463/2 the Corinthians attacked Megara, the Megarians in turn joining with the Athenians to isolate the Peloponnesians south of the Corinthian isthmus.[11] Cimon, a Spartan sympathizer, was ostracized in 461.

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Athenian warship painted on Attic vase c. 520

George Grote considered this opening phase of the Lacedemonian-Athenian competition, 477-450, as a period of rising Athenian hegemony, followed by the transition thereafter to empire: a condition that was ultimately to last until the Athenian navy was defeated by Lysander at the battle of Aegospotami in 405.[12] After the Persian Wars, Sparta was the foremost warrior polis in Hellas, commanding a formidable coalition of Greek allies, including Thebes, Corinth, the islands of Melos and Thera, and later Syracuse.[13] The Spartans were decisively weakened in 464, however, by an earthquake that ruined the polis, killing tens of thousands, and was immediately followed by a serf rebellion amongst the helots.

The First Peloponnesian War (461-446)

Hoplite

Hoplites from Clazomenae sarcophagus

The Athenians took advantage of Sparta’s weakness to launch the First Peloponnesian War.[14] In 459/8 Myronides smashed the Corinthians when they attempted to expel the Athenians from Megara, but the Spartans recovered their position somewhat by defeating the Athenians at Tanagra in 457. This Peloponnesian victory was overawed, however, by the Athenian conquest of Aegina that year, after a spectacular naval battle in which the Athenians captured 70 triremes.

Greece

Map of Helles with battles from the Persian Wars (490-479), from Robert Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides (New York: Free Press, 2008 [originally 1996])

Myronides crushed the Boeotian Confederacy at Oenophyta in 456,[16] and the war was temporarily halted as negotiations took place, followed by the return of Cimon, recalled from ostracism, who arranged a five year truce between Athens and Sparta (c. 451/0).[17] The war against the Boeotian Confederacy continued, however, resulting in the Theban victory over Athens at Coroneia in the spring of 446, but was then concluded by Pericles’ recapture of Euboea in July of that year.[18] The Thirty Years’ Peace between Athens and Sparta followed,[19] with the Delian League then, in little more than a decade, securing possession of every island in the Aegean except Thera and Melos.[20] A symbol of the rising Athenian empire, the Delian League’s overflowing treasury of imperial tribute had, of course, been moved from Delos to Athens around 454.[21]

Tanagra

Battles of the First Peloponnesian War, 460-445

The Delian League was now steadily encroaching on territories controlled by the members of the Peloponnesian League, and the Athenians took appropriate defensive measure.[22] Themistocles, after the Persian sacking of Athens in 479, instituted a defensive rebuilding program during which the city’s walls were repaired and strengthened, and the Piraeus was fortified. In 462 the Athenians began construction on the long walls to unite Athens and the Piraeus into a single fortress,[23] a monumental task completed five years later in 457.[24] In times of crisis – when the Spartans were in Attica – 16,000 men, slightly over half the entire military capacity of Athens, were required to man the metropolis’ walls.[25]

The Athenian polis, and the Delian League, 447-431

Athena

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The Varvakeion Athena, c. 200-250 AD. A reduction of the 40 foot tall Athena Parthenos by Pheidias that was erected in the Parthenon during 447-438 BC, & modern reconstruction of the ivory and gold statute, from Spivey & Squire, Panorama of the Classical World (2004)

Before Solon’s time, c. 594, and, indeed, with varying degrees of populist reforms since, the citizenry of Athens was composed of essentially a military reserve (“those who provided themselves with arms”), ruled over by a landed aristocracy composed of various tribal elites.[26] The chief offices were those of the archons, representing the ancestral religious and military power of a hereditary state.[27] In 510 the Spartan King Cleomenes overthrew the Athenian tyranny founded by Pisistratus, installing instead a Spartan oligarchy headed by Isagoras. Immediately afterwards, however, the exiled democrat Cleisthenes returned to power and formulated the familiar Athenian constitution of 509/8, reforming the archons into annually elected civic-religious offices with greatly reduced real powers. The ekklesia, the citizen Assembly at the Pnyx, became the new centre of power.[28] This body was composed of all male citizens over the age of twenty, with a quorum of 6,000 required for decisions.[29] The Assembly was physically guarded by 1,000 mercenary Scythian archers, retained at state expense for the purpose of policing.[30] Many of the old factions and plutocratic elites, nevertheless, remained or subsequently reconstituted themselves.[31]

Acropolis2

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Views of the Acropolis from social media, 2021, the Acropolis viewed from the Pnyx in 1976, & Ruins of the Parthenon in 2014

Such was the situation at the time of the Persian Wars. The prestige of the victorious Athenian generals and statesmen from that period, notably, Miltiades (of the Philaidae clan, and victor of Marathon), Aristides (who organized the Delian League),[32] Themistocles (victor of Salamis), and Cimon (son of Miltiades), was so immense that they entirely dominated state policy. Miltiades, however, after capturing Lemnos, was imprisoned upon returning to Athens as a result of his failure to persecute the conquest of Paros in 489.[33] The appointment of archons was then further reformed in 488/7, into offices appointed by lot,[34] and, to curtail the influence of the general-statesmen, the institution of ostracism was invoked, whereby the Assembly could expel any citizen whose power was believed to be approaching that of the old tyrants.[35] Xanthippus, Pericles’ father, an opponent of Miltiades, was ostracized in 484.[36] Themistocles, meanwhile, was engaged strengthening Athen’s maritime connections, by fortifying the Piraeus and planning for the long walls that were eventually built in the middle of the century, but also alienating the Athenians by his pompous comportment, and was in turn ostracized in 472/1.[37] Aristides arranged the Athenian system of finance, by which 20,000 public servants were retained on state pay (see below).[38] Cimon, after numerous campaigns expanding the Athenian empire, was ostracized in 461, on the eve of the First Peloponnesian War, as we have seen.[39]

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The long walls, and Piraeus, Map of Athens.

Just before the outbreak of the First Peloponnesian War (c.460/1), Athenian politics, and, in particular, its finances, was controlled by a faction of 300 elites. This centuries old Council of the Areopagus (the Hill of Ares, on the Acropolis),[40] was composed exclusively of former archons from amongst the nine archon offices: the basileus, or chief archon, responsible for sacrifices and religious rights;[41] the polemarchos who was commander-in-chief of the army,[42] high-magistrate for contract law,[43] and chief judge of the foreigners, metics – the citizens and non-citizens alike who were required to finance the public’s services (leitourgiai); the king archon, who presided over festivals; the eponymous archon, whose name became that of the year, and was responsible for family law; and the six thesmothetai who presided over trials.[44]

Ancient SpartaOutter Keramakos

The Dipylon Gates, Inner Kerameikos, and straight road to the Academy

In 462/1 the populist Ephialtes was able to mobilize the Assembly to restrict the power of the Areopagus, but was later assassinated for his trouble.[45] Pericles, from the patrician, but thoroughly democratic, clan of the Alcmaeonidae – from which Cleisthenes was also a descendant,[46] and thus an opponent of the Laconian sympathizer Cimon, a Philaidaen – succeeded Ephialtes as the champion of Athen’s democratic faction. By taking advantage of the crisis resulting from the First Peloponnesian War, Pericles succeeded at reforming the judiciary and in opening the archons to a broader electorate.[47] But, in 451, he also restricted the citizenry to those whose parents were both Athenians.[48] Cimon, backing the power of the Areopagus, strove to frustrate then thirty-year old Pericles.

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Views of the Acropolis. and Parthenon, from Raphael Sealey, A History of the Greek City States, ca. 700-338 B.C. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976)

As it happened, Pericles succeeded in breaking the power of the Areopagus, and as a result their former control over Athen’s finances devolved to the Council of Five Hundred, the boule, which had originally been established by Cleisthenes as a sort of rotating bureaucracy for the Assembly.[49] Composed of 50 citizens from each of ten reformed tribes, based on the Athenian districts (demes), the councillors were chosen by lottery as rendered by the kleroterion, a machine designed to select or discard groups of tribal candidates.[50] Citizens over the age of thirty were allegeable for annual service, but could only hold office in the Council twice during their lifetime, and act as epistates (chair of the prytaneis for 24 hours) but once.[51] Councillors (bouleutes), selected by the lottery, were required to undergo background examinations (dokimasia) by the presiding Council, prior to being sworn in, at which point they could join the Council meetings which were held, during the 5th century, in the Bouleuterion at the Agora.[52]

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The Athenian Ecclesia, citizen’s assembly, at the Pnyx

The Council (boule), in turn, was administered by an executive, the prytaneis, of 50 councillors formed from each of the tribal groups, who were always in session and whose terms lasted thirty-five days (ie, 1/10 of the year).[53] Thus, each tribal group acted in the capacity as Assembly presidents for a little over a month. Councillors were paid by the state at the rate of five obols a day, and six obols (one drachm) for a prytaneis.[54]

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The Bouleuterion in the Agora, meeting place of the Council of the Five Hundred. The prytaneion, state accommodations for prytaneis was nearby.

The prytaneis was responsible for preparing the Assembly’s agenda (probouleuma), which was done several days in advance of the Assembly’s weekly meetings, so that legislative matters could be voted on (cheirotonia) expeditiously. The prytaneis were also responsible for convening meetings of the full Council when required, and for entertaining foreign dignitaries at the Prytaneum.[55]

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The kleroterion lottery, by which means candidates, representing the deme-tribes, were divided into rows of ten, and selected at random for the council and public services.

All magistrates, except the ten strategoi, were selected by the drawing of lots.[56] Athens was thus administered by a galaxy of magistrate colleges, usually numbering ten to reflect the tribal-demes (the latter overseen by demarchs): the ten astynomoi (controllers of the police and public works), the ten agoranomoi (supervisors of the agora who guaranteed exchange values and oversaw retailers), the ten metronomoi (inspectors of weights and measures), the ten epimeletai (port overseers who imported grain, maintained order at the docks, and oversaw wholesale merchants – and were responsible for issuing triremes to the Athenian trierarchs),[57] the nautodikai (magistrates of the Piraeus court),[58] the pentekostologoi (who levied the docking and transhipping fees),[59] the sitonai (civic grain buyers),[60] the sitopolai (grain sellers and their treasurer),[61] the hodopoioi (road surveyors with their slave labour pool), the chief architect, the poletai (public contractors), the praktores (tax collectors), the apodektai (receivers), the episkopoi (tribute collectors),[62] the kolakretai (treasurers of Athens), the Hellenotamiai (treasurers of the empire),[63] and their secretaries (xyngrammateus).[64] In addition, the courts were managed by the heliaia, citizens appointed as judges. Religious festivals, as mentioned above, were controlled by the nine residual archons (plus their secretary).[65]

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Stadium at Delphi, 4th century, from Spivey & Squire, Panorama of the Classical World (2004)

Aristotle (384-322), whose Politics (written between 328-325) was informed by the research provided by his school for the Constitution of Athens, stated that the Athenian economy maintained about 20,000 persons at public expense: 6,000 members of the courts, 1,400 magistrates (700 domestic, 700 aboard), 500 members of the Council, 2,500 infantry, 2,000 sailors for 20 guardships, another 2,000 sailors employed to collect the League’s tribute, plus 1,600 archers, 1,200 cavalry, the 1,000 Scythian guards, 500 guards for the Piraeus, and another 50 for the Acropolis.[66]

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Life in classical Athens

Thousands of slaves and servants were kept on state pay including: councillors, clerks, sacred officials, amourers, shipwrights, secretaries, some doctors, temple attendants, dockworkers, mercenaries, miners, street sweepers, minters, the Scythian police, even the torturers and executioners employed by the dreaded Eleven, jailors,[67] and innumerable other lesser, or more essential, public functions; a myriad of public servants responsible for the city’s welfare. The important point here is to note the variety of services and the complexity of the system of state pay: although the majority of the population of Athens were slaves (perhaps as many as 150,000),[68] struggling in Athen’s various artisanal factories, workshops, and on farms and vineyards, it is significant that the fleet’s triremes were crewed by wage-earning rowers,[69] and that hoplites, and their servants, were maintained at the state’s expense while on campaign (even slaves had to be paid since they purchased their own food).[70]

war01 Warfare in classical Greece

The army was commanded by the strategoi, generals such as Cimon, Pericles, Cleon, Demosthenes, Nicias, and Alcibiades, who were elected directly by the Assembly, with no term limits, from amongst the ten tribes and thus hopefully representing all the demes in Attica.[71] In practice, following the Persian Wars, the strongest strategos came to wield immense influence. However, the interests of these formidable marshals were tempered by the requirement to divulge their accounts at the conclusion of their commands (euthyna), and they could be recalled, or even ostracised for ten years, at will by the Assembly.[72] Echoing Thucydides, John Hale’s described Athens as “in fact less a democracy than a commonwealth governed by the richest citizens.”[73]

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For his failure to take Amphipolis in 424, Thucydides the historian was exiled from Athens. He retired to his family estate in Thrace and wrote his History. He died about age 56 in 404 (or 60 in 400), leaving the narrative of the Great Peloponnesian War to be completed by Xenophon.

The Spartan polis, and the Peloponnesian League

Geometric map Peloponnesus

Geographic map of the Peloponnesus

Sparta, through its gradual conquest of Laconia and Messenia, became the largest Hellenic polis during the archaic period,[74] but the Spartan government, in comparison to the Athenian, was a model of simplicity. The Spartans, based on the laws established by Lycurgus, had evolved into a barracks-state: the city was ruled by twin kings, really hereditary high-priests who commanded Sparta’s army,[75] one from the Eurypontid and one from the Agiad family lines, while foreign policy and finance was administered by the five annually elected ephors,[76] a kind of central committee, who in turn summoned the popular gathering of the apella, and, likewise, acted as the executives of the gerousia, or senate, of 28 elders (over the age of 60), in consultation with the two kings.[77] The ephors were responsible for acting as a supreme court, and were tasked with enforcing morality amongst the Spartans. Two of their number also accompanied a Spartan king during campaigns.[78]

Enter Phormio, the Rebellion on Samos, 441

Phormio’s first appearance (chronologically) in Thucydides’ history, interestingly enough, is alongside the historian himself, Thucydides son of Olorus, who, together with Hagnon, another Periclean general, were leading a contingent of 40 ships to reinforce the Samos expedition of 440/439, which was then being executed by Pericles.[79]

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2nd century Roman copy of a c. 430 bust of Pericles, c. 1786 drawing by Vincenzo Dolcibene,anonymous drawing of the same, c. 1789-1817, British Museum, Towneley collection

Heavy-handed Athenian intervention by Pericles, in favour of democratic Miletus against oligarchic Samos in the dispute of 441,[80] caused the Samians to openly revolt the following year, being joined in this endeavour by the Byzantines, and envoys were sent to the Peloponnesus to ask the Spartans for aid. On this occasion the Corinthians intervened decisively, by refusing to support the Samos rebellion (citing the right of the league leader to coerce their allies – the same rationale the Corinthians would then employ in their attempt to dissuade the Athenians from intervening in the Epidamnus affair that brought the Corcyraean-Corinthian dispute of 433 to a head),[81] and, without Corinth’s support, Sparta could not coerce Athens.[82]

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Sacred way

Ruins of the Heraion, Island of Samos, Sanctuary of Hera, and the Sacred Way running the 6 kms south from ancient Samos.

The Athenians were thus given a free hand in Samos. In 440 Pericles led the expedition with 60 warships and transports to suppress the revolt. 70 ships of the Samian fleet (including 20 transports) were scattered by Pericles’ 44 triremes off the island of Tragia, and the city of Samos was placed under siege. Pericles was distracted by perceived Phoenician intervention, and the Samians took the opportunity to run the Athenian blockade, but were only able to break through for a fortnight before Pericles returned with his fleet, now numbering 60 triremes. With the arrival of Phormio, Thucydides, and the others, Samos, after a siege lasting nine months, was starved out and forced to surrender, and shortly after this the Byzantines likewise submitted.[83]

Phormio’s First Intervention in Acarnania

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Achaea & Aetolia

A few years later (Westlake, Busolt, and others, suggest 437, although Kagan and others,[84] believe the date is closer to, or even after, 433/2), after Phormio’s role in the defeat of the Samos rebellion and prior to his involvement in the Potidaean campaign (see below), the Amphilochians and the Acarnanians appealed to Athens to help them recover Amphilochian Argos from the Ambraciots, a Corinthian colony allied to several nearby tribes in western Hellas.[85] The Amphilochians were colonists originally from Argos, and the Acarnanians were a growing colonial polity, leaning in Athens favour, in the volatile frontier region of Aetolia, north of the Gulf of Corinth. The orchards of Aetolia, with its high mountains, and the animal wilds Epirus, were both important sources of pine, fir, and oak, essential commodities for ship-building, as well as the less dense, but more resilient, poplar or willow, material for the hoplite’s distinctive aspis shields.[86] Athenian access to Epirus, through Corcyra, was the draw that pulled Athens into the Epidamnian affair, ultimately leading to the naval showdown with the Corinthians at Sybota in 433, where the Athenians intervened decisively in Corcyra’s favour.[87]

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Battle of Sybota, 433, from The Landmark Thucydides

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Modern Corfu

Pericles, responding to the Acarnanian request of 437, despatched Phormio with 30 ships. In a naval action near Naupactus, Phormio’s fleet of 30, deployed into five lines, defeated a grand Ambraciot fleet of 50, by forcing them to break up their formation during a chase, as recounted by Polyaenus.[88]

Phormio then deployed his army ashore and proceeded to make short work of the Ambraciots, enslaving their women and children, capturing Chalcis by stratagem, and recovering Amphilochian Argos. Phormio made off with a great deal of Chalcidian plunder.[89] The Acarnanians were so pleased with Phormio’s conquests that they formalized an alliance with Athens,[90] demonstrating the real political importance of the campaign – a component of Athen’s increasing influence in north western Greece and Italy: Kagan points to the treaties of Rhegium, Leontini, Phormio’s alliance, Diotimus’ expedition to Naples, and then the treaty with Corcyra of 433, as other examples.[91] When Phormio returned to Athens he was seasoned and wealthy, if not rich, still in his prime, with a reputation for guile, toughness, and hard training. He was also a family man with a son. Could there be greater triumphs still?

The Potidaean Campaign, 433/2

Chalcidice

The forested highlands of north-east Hellas, Thessaly, Thrace and Macedonia, were important sources not only of timber and precious metals, but also alum, an essential ingredient in dye for Athenian textiles.[92] Potidaea, although originally a Corinthian colony, was at this time a member of the Delian League, and thus beholden to pay tribute to Athens.[93] A small polis (Delian League tribute assessed at 6 talents), but geographically significant port, Potidaea like Corinth, Byzantium, and, in later ages, Gibraltar or Singapore – one of the ‘the keys that lock up the world’ in Admiral Sir John Fisher’s phrase – was centred on a geostrategic bottleneck from whence tolls could be collected,[94] and much of the surrounding waterborne trade and maritime communications controlled.

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The Chalcidice Peninsula, showing Potidaea and Pallene, where Phormio led siege operations in 432 BC.

The Potidaeans were known to be gravitating towards Corinth, perhaps because the Athenians were gradually increasing the tribute assessment on the Pallene peninsula and in neighbouring Bottice.[95] Kagan suggests the rationale for this tax increase had to do with the ongoing operations of the Athenians in Macedonia.[96] At any rate, over the winter of 433 the Athenians sent Potidaea an ultimatum, requiring them to dismantle some of their fortifications, provide hostages, and expel the Corinthian magistrates from their city.[97] The Potidaeans instead sent envoys to Corinth, who proceeded to inform the Spartans. Sparta guaranteed Potidaea’s independence, should the Athenians attempt to use military force to secure the tribute they were due that spring, thus establishing a showdown between the two blocs.[98]

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The situation in Chalcidice was a significant one, as the Athenians had already deployed there an expedition of 30 ships, with 1,000 hoplites, commanded by five generals of whom the leader was Archestratus.[99] Kagan argues that Archestratus did not depart until April 432, at which time his mission had expanded to include the conquest of the Potidaeans.[100] Archestratus’ mission certainly involved the coercion of Perdiccas, the King of Macedonia, whose competitors for the Macedonian crown the Athenians in fact controlled.[101] Seeing an opportunity to aggravate the Athenians, Perdiccas encouraged the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans to join the Potidaean rebellion. This they did, establishing a regional federation with their capital at Olynthus, only seven miles away from Potidaea.[102] Perdiccas, meanwhile, despatched messengers to engage his diplomats at Sparta and enlist their aid against the Athenians.[103]

Potidea

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 Potidea today, with canal & The seawall of Emperor Justinian

The Corinthians sent 1,600 hoplites to support the Potidaean federation, and presently the Athenians despatched Callias, in 40 ships with 2,000 hoplites, to reduce the region and return it to Athenian control.[104] Callias joined up with Archestratus, thus creating a combined expedition of 70 ships and 3,000 hoplites.[105] This total force must have numbered at almost 15,000 men (200 crew in each trireme, plus the 3,000 hoplites and their transports – whose true number would have been much higher when all the attendants, slaves and armourers were counted: see below). This expeditionary force was thus sufficient to isolate the Potidaeans from the Bottiaean side of the Chalcidice peninsula, although not yet enough to overcome them so long as they could access the Pallene.

The timing of these operations is worth noting: in the Aegean Sea the prevailing winds are north to south from May to September, but south to north from October to April,[106] and it is likely the Spartans held their war conference in August or November 432,[107] after the summer in which Pericles issued the Megarian Decree, restricting Megarian products from the Athenian market.[108]

Theater 2

agora

Ruins of the theatre at Sparta, & the ancient agora

Phormio, known by his nickname melampygous for his tanned backside,[109] now enters the scene. He must have been nearing, if not over, 50 years of age in July 432, when he was granted command of reinforcements sent from Athens to persecute the amphibious expedition led by Callias who was then conducting the siege of Potidaea.[110] Diodorus says Phormio was sent to succeed Callias, thus assuming overall command of the operation, and stressing the close connection between Phormio and Pericles’ faction.[111]

Phormio’s orders were to deploy reinforcement to the Pallene isthmus, and thus completely isolate Potidaea. Phormio landed 1,600 hoplites on Pallene and established his base at Aphytis, setting out afterwards to attack Potidaea proper.[112] Demonstrating his experience at siege operations, Phormio had a wall built to cut off Potidaea, while the fleet blockaded the city from the Thermaic and Toronaic Gulfs.[113] The Corinthian commander in Potidaea, Aristeus, could see that defeat was only a matter of time, and so slipped out of Potidaea in a single ship hoping to continue operations from the mainland. The Corinthians and Megarians were soon attempting to induce the Spartans to declare war over the situation at Potidaea.[114]

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Alliances and theatres of the Second Peloponnesian War

Phormio, with Potidaea surrounded but not yet secured, spent the rest of the campaign raiding the countryside, later capturing some towns belonging to the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans.[115] At this stage of the Chalcidian campaign (432/1) the Athenians were sustaining operations involving 4,600 hoplites and certainly more than 70 ships: a substantial amphibious expedition, although smaller than the Sicilian expedition of 415-413, which involved more than 200 triremes and over 10,000 soldiers (it is worth bearing in mind that Homer named 46 captains for the 1,186 ships of the Trojan expedition,[116] perhaps 83,000 men at a conservative 70 crew per ship, and that the hoplite force of 38,700 that defeated the Persians at Plataea in 479 must have required at least that number over again in helots and slaves to carry the armour and shields).[117] Each Athenian hoplite, when on campaign, was allowed two drachms per day to cover ration expenses for themselves and their servants.[118]

It is worth examining this question of manpower and finance in some detail, as the manpower allocation of the Athenian military provides some insight into Pericles’ maritime strategy, and indeed the future of Phormio’s career, as we shall see.

Athenian & Spartan Military Capacity

Zues

Colossal Zeus statue by Phidias, as it would have looked at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, c. 435, from Nigel Spivey & Michael Squire, eds., Panorama of the Classical World (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004).

The Athenian deployment during the Potidaean campaign of 433 – 430, as we have seen, involved up to 4,600 hoplites and at least 70 triremes, with 70 triremes representing perhaps a quarter of the total Athenian trireme force capacity of 300.[119] There were also 1,200 cavalry (the knights, commanded by hipparchs) and 1,600 archers.[120] This force was supported by at least 13,000 sailors (at 170 rowers per trireme crew of 200, including marines, archers and officers), making for an expeditionary force of perhaps 18,000 men, not counting transports, armourers, slaves (the hypaspistai who carried the hoplites’ weapons, armour and supplies),[121] and other logistical elements. Transport ship cargo capacities ranged anywhere between 50 to 140 tons, a ship at the lower end being capable of carrying 400 amphora, ships at the higher end capable of carrying as many as 3,000-4,000.[122]

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Zeus Ceraunaeus, from the Sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona, 470-460 BC

Assuming every hoplite had at least one servant (or slave), this brings the minimum manpower of the expedition to 22,200 – a formidable expense, approximately valued at 23,200 drachm per day (9,200 drachm at two drachm per day for each hoplite-servant pair, plus another 14,000 drachm per day to maintain 70 triremes). The expedition, therefore, must have cost nearly 116 talents, about 70,000 decadrachm, every month.

Full scale operations (and especially naval operations), however, only took place for about two-thirds of the year: the winter was usually spent conducting sieges. A reasonable estimate for the Potidaean campaign, therefore is about 560 talents for eight months of naval operations, and another 552 talents to support the land force for a year, or 1,112 talents all told.

drachm3

Various drachma from the eastern mediterranean 600-300 BC, from the British Museum’s collection, and the Berlin State Museum. Towards the end of the 5th century, a gallon of olive oil cost about three drachm, a cloak of wool cost anywhere from five to twenty drachm, and a pair of shoes might cost between six to eight drachm, from Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides, Appendix J (Thomas R. Martin), p. 622. Soldiers (and servants) were paid from three obols to one drachma a day to cover their expenses.

Acropolis

The Athenian empire’s mid-5th century punitive expeditions were indeed both intricate and expensive. A rough way to calculate the cost of a year of the war for Athens is to figure about 1,000 talents for the defence of the city, including all other other government expenses (about half of the total budget), plus at least another 1,000 talents for each significant maritime operation underway. Pericles, in fact, made it policy to set aside a reserve of 1,000 talents, and 100 triremes, to cover precisely such eventualities.[123] The siege of Samos, 441/0 had cost 1,400 talents of silver over nine months (155 talents per month, 93,000 decadrachm, comparable to the 116 talents or about 70,000 decadrachm that the Potidaean campaign must have cost every month). The total costs associated with building the Parthenon have been estimated at between 470 talents to as many as 1,200-1,300 talents,[124] indicating the relative cost of a years’ worth of an any punitive maritime expedition. The construction cost of a trireme was one talent of silver (6,000 drachm), while it cost another talent to pay a crew of 200 for one month.[125]

Treasurey

Athenian treasury at Delphi, built on the Sacred Way after the Battle of Marathon c. 490, to house Athenian offerings to the Pythian oracle. Not to be confused with the treasury of the Delian League, located first at Delos and then on the Acropolis. From Spivey & Squire, Panorama of the Classical World (2004)

Keeping 35 triremes in commission cost about 420 talents for a year,[126] comparable to the contributions of the Delian League in 454 BC (490-500 talents). Large operations, involving perhaps 150 triremes, and numerous other transports and communications craft, could therefore cost as much 1,700 talents for a year’s worth of operations, necessitating significant state borrowing, on top of which it was necessary to pay, or support, the thousands of slaves and servants owned or retained by the state.

tributelist

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Fragment of Athenian Tribute List from 440/39, from Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides, & marble block describing financial accounts issued by the Athenian Treasury, 415/4 BC, Lord Elgin collection. Chief Athenian allies and colonies included Chios, Lesbos, Corcyra, Plataea, Naupactus, the Zacythians, the Acarnanians, Rhegium, Leontini, and the Thessalians.[15]

In 431, Athenian state expenses accounted for perhaps 885-900 talents, to which must be added the cost of the Potidaean campaign, 1,112 talents, for very nearly 2,000 talents total expenses. In fact, the Athenians were spending even more than this at the outset of the war, as they borrowed 1,370 talents in 431 from their sacred treasuries,[127] suggesting the total state expenses for that year was perhaps 3,000 talents: 600 talents in tribute, 400 talents in state revenue (recycled back to the public through pay), another 1,100 for Potidaea, and then 1,370 talents borrowed from the sanctuaries.[128]

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The trireme ship sheds at the Piraeus, and the modern Olympias in its shed, from Strassler, ed., The Landmark Xenophon (2009).

Under peacetime circumstances, during the second half of the 5th century BC, the Athenian empire generated approximately 1,000 talents per annum (about 600,000 decadrachm). In 431, approximately 400 talents were generated in Attica through exports (pottery, wood, wine, iron, bronze, wool and textiles, plus financial and legal services), and Attic taxes paid by non-citizens and foreign merchants, duties (ateleia), court fess, transport fees,[129] plus anchorage and docking fees (the pentekoste, or 1/50th).[130] The rest, 600 talents, came in the form of the imperial tribute,[131] ostensibly to maintain the navy – but the surplus, plus the revenue from the silver mining of the Laurium veins (worked by between 10,000 to as many as 20,000 slaves – at the higher end producing close to 1,000 talents per annum, to make up shortfalls),[132] was piled into the Athenian treasuries, at various sacred oracles.[133]

persian empire

The Persian Empire

For comparative purposes, in terms of raw silver revenue, no Greek state could match the annual tribute of the Persian Empire: 14,560 Euboean talents at the time of Darius, according to Herodotus.[134] Egypt’s tribute alone accounted to 700 talents, nearly the revenue of the entire Delian League, in addition to producing 120,000 bushels of grain for the Persians, an invaluable resource that Athens attempted to annex on several occasions during the 5th century.[135]

Artifacts

Artifacts in the Piraeus museum

During the Thirty Years’ Peace the kingly sum of 9,700 talents (5.8 million decadrachm), had been amassed in the Athenian treasuries, of which 6,700 remained in the spring of 431 (3,000 talents had been spent improving the Acropolis and on the Potidaean campaign).[136] To finance military operations between 433 and 426, the Athenians borrowed 4,800 talents from their treasuries.[137] It can be seen, then, that the Athenians were carrying on the war at a loss, but had not yet exhausted their silver reserves after six years of incessant operations.

shipwreck

The 5th century BC Varna shipwreck from the Bulgarian Black Sea coast

Το ναυάγιο της Περιστέρας μετά τους καθαρισμούς και την απομάκρυνση των φερτών αντικειμένων.

The late 5th century BC Alonissos shipwreck, carrying at least 4,000 amphora, primarily wine, most likely had a total cargo capacity of 140-150 tons.

pottery

Amphora detailed and recovered from the wreck, and location of Alonissos.

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shipwrecks

Example sizes of ancient shipwrecks, from From Alain Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy (Princeton University Press, 2019), p. 87. The increasing size of bulk transports lowered the cost, with Athens exporting luxury and consumer goods en masse, outstripping the Corinthian trade.

The Athenian system of finance had evolved in tandem with the conduct and sustainment of these maritime operations, and – this is the key point – assuming operations were conducted biennially, or that there were sustained periods of peace or truces every six to eight years to allow the state coffers to refill, the war could in fact be sustained nearly indefinitely. On the other hand, the forthcoming loss of estate revenue to the Peloponnesian’s desolation of Attica would certainly strain Athenian finances, as would the ravishes of the plague during 430/29 and 427. What couldn’t be withdrawn from the state treasury would need to be borrowed, with interest, from the Attic religious sanctuaries, the hoards of treasure captured from the Persians and Peloponnesians, or even, in small quantities, from Athen’s domestic banking establishment (the latter estimated at 500 talents, plus another 40 in gold attached to the statue of Athena in the Parthenon).[138]

Agora

The Agora in the 5th century.

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Ruins of Thissio, the Temple of Hephaistos overlooking the Agora

To summarize this rather arcane arithmetic: Athens could continue to function, and accumulate silver, while conducting minor seasonal expeditions, but would have to borrow annually from its limited reserves to finance the major operations required for the war against Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Nevertheless, so long as Athen’s artisanal exports and seaborne trade kept the League’s coffers filled with silver to pay troops and seamen, then the vital imports of staples and raw materials would continue to flow into the Piraeus, the location of the emporiom and a thriving urbanate in its own right. Charcoal from Delos,[139] timber from Euboea,[140] textiles manufactured in the Aegean, and fish and grain imported from producers around the Black Sea, in Sicily, Italy, and in Egypt, kept the city alive.[141] Athens was of course the largest single marketplace in the 5th century Mediterranean economy,[142] outstripping Syracuse, Carthage, Phaselis, and having already absorbed both Miletos on the Anatolian coast, and Samos in Ionia.

Attica

Attica and its environs, from The Histories by Herodotus, translated by Aubrey de Selincourt (London: Penguin Books, 2003 [1954])

Borders2

Attica, Boeotia, Argolid, and the Corinthian Isthmus, showing Euboea, source of ship timber, and the silver mines at Laurium, from Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War (2020).

Indeed, as Peter Green has argued, the relative defensiveness of Pericles’ strategy, following the First Peloponnesian War, was the result of structural weaknesses in the Athenian economy, in particular, relating to the grain famine of 445 and the inability to secure grain supplies, first from Egypt (approximately 463-457),[143] and then under Cimon’s final command against Cyprus (451-450),[144] which meant importing from the Black Sea, Sicily and Italy at considerable expense.[145] Pericles’ democratic faction was constantly seeking alliances in Italy and Sicily from where grain could be imported,[146] and Pericles despatched colonists to Italy and Thrace to shore up Athen’s grain and timber supplies.[147] So long as the silver mines at Laurium remained active, however, the Athenians could continue to afford their seapower, and thus import grain to the polis.[148] These mines had paid for Themistocles’ fleet in 483/2, and, as Alcibiades recognized in 415, could be raided if the Spartans occupied the fortress at Decelea, thus interrupting the mining operations and stretching the Athenian economy to the breaking point.[149] In fact, everything hinged on the Laurium deposits, without which the intricate mechanisms of the Athenian empire would crumble one by one. The Spartans, until 413, ignored the critical fortress of Decelea for reasons relating back to the outstanding service of the Decelean Sophanes, who had fought heroically against the army of Mardonius at the battle of Plataea (479).[150]

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Ruins of the Laurium silver mines, Attica

So much for the strategic implications of Athenian finance. In terms of manpower, the male adult citizen population of Athens proper has been estimated at between 30,000 and 40,000 during the 5th and 4th centuries,[151] with Xenophon (430-354), in the Memorabilia, counting some 10,000 houses in the city during his time.[152] The Theatre of Dionysus, after its expansion in the 4th century whence it became the seat of the Assembly, could seat 16,000 people.[153] Indeed, 18,000 or 20,000 men would have represented between 7% and 8% of Attica’s total pre-plague population of 250,000, of whom 150,000 were slaves,[154] and 20,000 foreigners (metics).[155] A lower estimate puts the total population at 150,000 – 170,000, in which case an expeditionary force of 18,000 represented 10.6% of the population, while a higher estimate puts Attica at 315,000 (5.7%).[156] It can be seen, therefore, that mounting expeditionary operations was a complicated and expensive logistical and military undertaking. Athens’ total hoplite capacity was 12,000-13,000, that is, citizens between the age of 18 and 60 trained and ready for deployment; although a further 16,000-17,000 men could be mobilized on short notice to defend the cities’ fortifications during the summer month when the Peloponnesians were actually raiding Attica.[157]

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus

Theatre

Theatre of Dionysus as it would have appeared in the 5th century, from The Greek Plays, eds. Mary Lefkowitz & James Romm (New York: Modern Library, 2017)

In short, during wartime, especially when the Athenians were outfitting triremes and conducting expeditionary operations, or when the Peloponnesians were attacking Attica, nearly the entire male citizenry (and a considerable number of metics, slaves and servants) were mobilized for war. The Peloponnesian army, in contrast, was vast; when fully mobilized numbering anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 men, although it was never deployed as such all at once.

spartadegas

Young Spartans exercising, by Degas, illustration for Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus, c. 1860

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Map of ancient Sparta

If they were outnumbered on land, however, in their political-economic system of finance and seapower, the Athenians were far in advance of the Spartans: the Peloponnesian League, indeed, had no system of finance to speak of.[158] Lycurgus had created 39,000 fields to organize archaic Sparta,[159] but, as a result of the lengthy training process for Spartan hoplites, Sparta’s frontline military capacity was strictly limited. The elite spartiates, warriors between the age of 20 and 45, numbered 8,000 in 480,[160] but their numbers had fallen, especially after the great earthquake of 464, and by 418 there were no more than 2,500 remaining.[161] The Spartans also had their helots, like the Cretan Perioeci, serfs, who farmed for the Spartans and accompanied them on campaign as armour carriers. There were between five and ten helots for every Spartan citizen, making the risk of helot rebellion a constant concern for Spartan strategy.[162]

Delian League

Greece

The Delian League in 445, from Paul Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020), & Map of Greece showing the Peloponnesian League and the Delian League.

Peloponessian league

The Peloponnesian League, from Paul Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020) & The Landmark Thucydides

As the war progressed, and Sparta’s casualties increased, it became policy to liberate helots willing to serve as soldiers – the neodamodeis. The numbers in this middle-class increased significantly during the course of the war, and by the beginning of the 4th century, as Aristotle observed, the Spartan polis could mobilize as many as 30,000 hoplites and 1,500 cavalry.[163] In this sense, it can be seen that Spartan society was ultimately transformed into a kind of feudalism during the course of the 5th century. In terms of seapower, of course, the Athenians were unmatched: in 431 the Peloponnesian League possessed no more than 100 triremes, mainly Corinthian. The Spartans presently circulated orders for their fleet strength to be built up to 500 through contributions in kind or in credit from their allies, although this construction program would require many years, and longer still to acquire the requisite skill to match the Athenians.[164]

Athens, Corinth, Thebes and Sparta

CorinthCorinth3

Ruins of Ancient Corinth, the Lechaion road

As Francis Cornford has observed, the Second Peloponnesian War was less an inevitable struggle between two power blocs than, “a struggle between the business interests of Corinth and Athens” for control of commerce and oceanic trade in western and northern Greece.[165] Corinth’s relative maritime-economic power had been in decline vis-à-vis the expansion of Athen’s as a maritime power,[166] especially since the conclusion of the Persian Wars. During the Archaic period, when cargo ships were smaller and long voyages perilous, cargos were hauled across the Corinthian isthmus and thus between the port of Kenchreai, on the Saronic Gulf, and the port of Lechaion, on the Gulf of Corinth.[167]

templs of isis2

port

The partially submerged ruins of the temple of Isis at the port of Kenchreai, on the Saronic Gulf, and the ruins of the Lechaion port on the Gulf of Corinth

This transport corridor was vital for Corinthian and Megarian production.[168] The tracked diolkos crossing, capable of moving both cargo vessels and warships, had been built at the beginning of the 6th century by the Corinthian tyrant Periander.[169] Corinth, as Raphael Sealey observed, “was well placed for control of communications, and during much of the Archaic period pottery made in Corinth was exported more widely than that of any other Greek city.”[170]

the-diolkos

crossing

The Corinthian diolkos, cargo and warship track crossing of the Corinthian isthmus & CGI depiction of an empty cargo vessel being hauled along the tracks.

By the 5th century, however, Athenian maritime trade around the Peloponnesus began to eclipse the transport value of the diolkos crossing, particularly in terms of grain and amphora exports.[171] Corinth, known for its high quality wool products, was being directly challenged by Athenian wool and textile production: the Athenians operated a quasi-industrial system, utilizing the Delian league itself as processing capacity for enormous quantities of textiles,[172] and as the source of strategic materials including everything from wool, timber, charcoal, dyes, to the ochre from Keos used for painting the triremes.[173] Foreigners (metics), in Athens, were thus highly regarded for their philosophical, architectural, industrial, mercantile, and financial, banking (trapezitai) prowess: Cephalus of Syracuse, the host of Plato’s Republic, was an arms manufacturer in possession of 120 slaves; the largest fish salting business in Athens was owned by the metic Chaerephilus; Hippodamus of Miletus was the architect of the Piraeus, and Miletus was likewise the polis of origin of Pericles mistress, Aspasia.[174] Furthermore, Athens was gradually cornering the market for slaves: the primary slave trade ran through Delos, Chios, Samos, Byzantium and Cyprus, with two in Attica itself, at Sunium – to supply the Laurium mines – and the other in the Athenian Agora (individual slaves sold for between two and six minas, that is, 200-600 drachm – Nicias, the famous general, owned 1,000 slaves, while someone of more bourgeoisie status might own 50).[175]

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1024px-Kerynia_Liberty_Ship_October_2012

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Photos of the Kyrenia ship reconstruction, a 4th century BC merchant ship capable of carrying about 50 tons (400 amphora) and the original wreck in its museum on Cyprus

Kagan describes a historiography that is critical of Pericles’ maritime strategy, considered too defensive given the considerable cost of the war, as outlined above.[176] Pericles was without doubt a defensive-minded leader, a careful strategist rather than thrusting commander, such as Cimon had been, but he was hardly implementing anything new. Rather, Pericles’ strategy was founded on the traditional Athenian maritime principles fostered by Themistocles. Furthermore, at the outbreak of the war, it was not yet clear what the Spartans would do, nor had the shape of the conflict emerged – the Theban advance against Plataea being a case in point. Pericles, who had fought against the Spartans at Tanagra (457) during the First Peloponnesian War, understood that Athens could not directly confront the Spartans, and thus had no intention of giving them the opportunity they desired to fight a pitched land battle on their terms.

Attica and Boeotiacorinth argos

The Thebes-Megera-Corinth corridor.

Indeed, despite Athens’ rising industrial, financial, and maritime power, so long as Corinth supported Sparta, and Thebes honoured the Peloponnesian alliance, the League possessed enough military power to challenge the Athenians, if not topple them. Corinth’s opposition to Athenian expansion, in particular, was guaranteed, given Pericles’ colonial expansion into Aetolia and Epirus in the north west, Chalcidice in the north east, and his effort to crush Corinth’s partner on the isthmus, Megara.

The Epidamnus and Corcyra incidents, 433 & the Megarian decree, 432

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum on Corfu/Corcyra

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Flashpoints

Flashpoints at the opening of the Peloponnesian War, locations of Epirus and Corcrya.

Pericles was content to employ Athen’s significant military-economic influence to gradually strangle the Peloponnesian allies, first, by supporting Corcrya against Corinth during the Epidamnus affair, and then by restricting trade with Megara (excluding them from the markets and harbours of the Athenian empire),[177] and, most directly, by deploying an expeditionary force to Potidaea.[178] It can been seen then that geopolitical relations between the Peloponnesians and the Delians were declining decisively during the period 433-431. Athens had reached the limit of its expansion in the Aegean and Ionia, the only remaining areas of expansion being in the west, in Sicily, Italy, Gaul and Spain, or to the north, in Thessaly, Thrace and Macedonia. It was over colonial influence in these distant, resource rich, regions that Athenian expansion collided with Corinthian and Theban interests, and it was these polis that were ultimately responsible for engaging the Lacedemonians against Athens.

crown2

Partial gold wreath, crown for Macedonian king, late 4th century, possibly Philip II or III. Spivey & Squire, Panorama of the Classical World, 2004.

Indeed, the Athenians were still conducting operations against Perdiccas in Macedonia during 432/1, while the Potidaean campaign was underway. Perdiccas was presently brought onside through Athenian diplomacy, and then joined forces with Phormio.[179] These operations, as we have seen, were already absorbing at least a third of the total Athenian fleet, and another 100 triremes were soon activated for operations around the Peloponnese.[180]

socrates

Greco-Roman bust of Socrates, who fought together with Alcibiades under Phormio’s command during the Potidaean siege, c. 432/1

The expeditionary commanders themselves were often personally responsible for keeping logistics flowing, including paying out of their own funds, an exigency that veritably bankrupted Phormio during the Potidaean campaign.[181] Indeed, from the Symposium we learn of the great difficulty of the siege: Plato has Alcibiades vividly describe the biting cold over the winter of 432/1, and the privations caused by the logistical shortages that reduced morale, so effecting Alcibiades, but apparently not the transcendent Socrates son of Sophroniscus.[182] Westlake is critical of this phase of Phormio’s career, noting that he was recalled and superseded by former co-commander Hagnon, with whom Phormio had been involved suppressing the Samos rebellion in 441. Hagnon, however, had only to finalize the siege and conduct mopping up operations, and it still required until 430/29 before the city fell.[183] Phormio, for his part, had broken the bank provisioning the Potidaea siege, and with Pericles’ faction temporarily out of power (see below), he could not expect sympathy from the Council’s review (euthyna) of his role in the campaign.[184]

plataea

Thebes launched an assault on the small but historically significant polis of Plataea in March 431

When the affairs at Corcyra, Potidaea, and Megara were collectively raised with the Spartan assembly, late in 433/2,[185] the conclusion of the majority was that the Athenians, by their actions, had broken the Thirty Years’ Peace (after only 14 years), and so the Spartans prepared for war.[186] In the event, the Theban attack on Plataea in March 431 forced the issue, with Thebe’s ineptitude necessitating Spartan intervention.[187]

forts

Key Athenian fortresses on the Attic borders of Megara and Boeotia

In the summer of 431, therefore, Spartan King Archidamus led two-thirds of the Peloponnesian army, perhaps 60,000 men all told – hoplites, light troops, cavalry, and servants – into Attica (the other third was kept in Laconia to counter Athenian coastal raids).[188] Archidamus proceeded to besiege the Attic-Boeotia frontier fort of Oenoe, one link in a chain of forts that protected the borders of Attica.[189]

1280px-The_stoa_of_Abaton_or_Enkoimeterion_at_the_Sanctuary_of_Asclepius_in_Epidaurus

Sanctuary of Asclpeius at Epidaurus. Epidaurus was raided in 430 by an amphibious expedition led by Pericles.

While the Peloponnesians were laying siege to Oenoe, Pericles’ faction (Phormio, Hagnon, Socrates son of Antigenes, Proteas son of Epicles, Callias, Xenophon son of Euripedes, Cleopompus, Carcinus, Eucrates, and Theopompus),[190] put into place their expected maritime strategy. Carcinus, Proteas, and Socrates set out with 100 ships (plus 50 triremes from Corcyra and handfuls from other members of the League),[191] carrying 1,000 hoplites and 400 archers, to raid Laconia, Elis, and the Corinthians in Acarnania, where they captured Sollium and Cephallenia.[192] This opening raid was a dry-run for the larger expedition Pericles personally led to Epidaurus the following year. Simultaneously, a fleet of 30 triremes under Theopompus was despatched to Opuntian Locris, from which the Peloponnesians could potentially interdict Athenian trade with Euboea. Theopompus captured Thronium and defeated a Locrian army at Alope.[193]

1280px-Locris_ancient_map

Theopompus, with 30 triremes, raided eastern Locris (highlighted in yellow) in the summer of 431

Having failed to capture Oenoe, Archidamus circumvented the fort and marched into Attica to ravage Acharnae (a particularly wealthy Athenian deme), but after about a month the Lacedaemonians exhausted their supplies and departed via Boeotia.[194] In response, the Athenians first expelled the Aeginetans from the island of Aegina,[195] and then Pericles marched 10,000 men, plus 3,000 metics and a number of light troops, into the Megarid and raided the land, a deployment the Athenians repeated twice ever year (once during the summer after the Spartans had departed, and once again in the fall when the grain was being planted),[196] until 424 when they captured the Megarian port of Nisaea on the Saronic Gulf.[197] The fleet of 100 Athenian triremes, lately abroad raiding the Peloponnesus and the Corinthian possessions in Acarnania, had just reached Aegina and thence sailed to the isthmus to support Pericles.[198]

The following year, 430, Archidamus again raided Attica, spending 40 days there while Pericles personally led the fleet to raid Epidaurus.[199] The plague, meanwhile, began to spread in Athens, by 427 ultimately killing 4,400 hoplites and 300 knights, not to mention perhaps one third of the city’s population.[200]

periclesfuneral

Pericles delivering the funeral oration from the Pynx (actually delivered at the public sepulchre outside the city walls, see Thuc. 2.34) at the conclusion of the first year of the war, 432/1, by Philipp Foltz (1852)

The Acarnanian Campaign, 429

Upon return to Athens from Potidaea in 431/0, Phormio found himself in trouble with the authorities for his conduct of the campaign: his supporters in Pericles’ faction were out of power; Pericles had been censured and fined in 430 and was out of office until the following spring (peace envoys were despatched to Sparta, but rebuffed),[201] and, as a result of his euthyna (debriefing), Phormio was fined or charged 100 sliver minas to settle his accounts.[202]

This narrative is based on the fragmentary history of Androtion, which Hale places in 430 – although Westlake, citing also Pausanias, places it after Phormio’s return from the Acarnanian campaign in 428, a reconstruction that was also favoured by Felix Jacoby.[203] Phillip Harding, however, strongly rejects this thesis.[204] The 100 minas fine was not substantial, but was symbolic for the distress the Athenian Assembly felt concerning the length and cost of the Potidaean campaign. When the generals Xenophon, Hestiodorus and Phanomachus returned from Potidaea, after concluding the siege during the winter of 430/29, they were likewise charged but acquitted (Thucydides says only that “the Athenians found fault with the generals for agreeing terms without their authority, as they thought they could have achieved the unconditional surrender of the city”).[205]

hymettos

The modern cemetery at Paiania

Phormio, as the story goes, refused to pay his fine, and was deprived of his citizenship (atimia) and thus banned from the consecrated sites in Athens, including the Acropolis, Pnyx, and Agora. Phormio, thus sanctioned, impoverished, and closing in on 50 years of age, departed Athens to return to his ancestral estate in Paiania, east of Mount Hymettus.[206] Paiania had been raided by the Peloponnesian chevauchee that year, but Phormio was no stranger to adversity, and, importantly, he was outside Athens when the plague struck (and, in the event, the Peloponnesians did not raid Attica in 429 – as Archidamus was engaged against Plataea).[207]

Nevertheless, as the summer of 430 ended, a group of Acarnanians sought out Phormio in an attempt to enlist him once again in their defence.[208] The Athenian assembly, still led by the “war party” headed by Cleon,[209] recalled Phormio and, on condition that he “decorate the sanctuary of Dionysus”, canceled his debt of 100 minas.[210] This is the source of the poetic verse, “Phormio said, ‘I’ll raise three silver tripods!’ / Instead he raised just one – made out of lead.”[211] Phormio’s appointment was to command of the crucial Acarnanian region, an area he was familiar with, having suppressed the Ambraciots there some years before when he solidified the Acarnanian-Athenian alliance, as we have seen.[212]

naupactus

The Acarnanian theatre of operations & details of the Crisaean Gulf, from The Landmark Xenophon, ed. Robert Strassler (2009)

Phormio was given 20 ships – the only crews that could be assembled, considering the sickness inflicted by the plague – whereas the Athenians had deployed more than 130 ships in 431.[213] Hale states that Phormio’s flagship was none other than the Paralus itself, one of the two state triremes (the other being the Salaminia), however, his citation to Polyaenus does not in fact identify the name of Phormio’s ship.[214] At any rate, Phormio, during the winter of 430/429, rounded the Cape of Rhium, and arrived without incident at the small harbour of Naupactus, a colony settled in part by liberated Messenian helots, who had been freed by the Athenians as a result of the helot rebellion of 464.[215] His mission was to intercept shipping, and prevent the Peloponnesians from making use of the Corinthian Gulf to move supplies and forces from Achaea to Aetolia.[216]

Naupactus

Modern marina at the harbour of Naupactus (Nafpaktos)

Not long after Phormio departed for his command, Pericles’s faction, about the spring of 429,[217] was restored to power – although Pericles, due to his bout with the plague, did not have long to live.[218]

The Spartans, meanwhile, focused their efforts during the 429 campaign season against Plataea, which the Thebans had thus far been unable to reduce.[219] The garrison of 400 Plataeans and 80 Athenians hoplites, plus 110 female servants, held out under the Peloponnesian siege – including an attempt to torch the city which was narrowly defeated by a timely thunderstorm.[220]

The Athenians simultaneously continued their operations on the Chalcidice peninsula. Xenophon, son of Euripides (neither the famous Socratic general-historian nor the tragic playwright), and Phanomachus, so recently acquitted by the Athenians now that Pericles was back in power, were sent back to Chalcidice with 2,000 hoplites and 200 cavalry.[221] Their mission was to build on the capture of Potidaea by suppressing the rebellious Thracians, starting with Bottian Spartolus.[222] This expedition, however, came to disaster, as the Olynthians reinforced Spartolus and forced a battle, in which their light troops and horse outmaneuvered the heavy Athenians hoplites and inflicted 430 fatalities. Both Xenophon and Phanomachus were killed.[223] The survivors fled to Potidaea and thence back to Athens.[224] The war was now shifting to the west, where Phormio was stationed at Naupactus in Aetolia.

The Megarians had steadily been expanding their trading influence in Aetolia,[225] and in the summer of 429 Acarnanian, a Delian League ally of Athens because of Phormio’s intervention after 440, was once again threatened by their rivals, the Corinthian-Ambraciots and the ‘barbarian’ Chaonians. For the Ambraciots and their allies the time was indeed opportune, as the Athenians were distracted elsewhere by the Theban-Spartan siege of Plataea, the disastrous operations in Thessaly, and the deprivations of the plague.

The Ambraciots, therefore, mobilized to invade Acarnania, and despatched diplomats to the Peloponnesian League to gain their support. The Spartans agreed, thoroughly supported by the Corinthians,[226] and arranged to send a fleet, and 1,000 hoplites, to conduct amphibious operations against Acarnania.[227]

Arcarnian theatre

The Acarnanian theatre of operations

The plan of campaign was to assemble their allies at the island of Leucas and then reduce the coastal Acarnanian settlements, capturing the Athenian colonies on the islands of Zacynthus and Cephallenia, and possibly even Naupactus itself. Success in all of these operations would have seriously damaged the Athenian maritime network, potentially cutting off contact with Athen’s vital Sicilian colonies and Illyrian allies.

The Spartan amphibious component was commanded by Cnemus, an aggressive but temperamental commander, who had conducted a raid against Zacynthus with a force of 1,000 hoplites the previous summer (430).[228] Cnemus was sent ahead with a small detachment, transporting his hoplite force, with orders to take command of the Leucadian, Anactorian and Ambracian ships, while the rest of the expedition assembled, including triremes from Corinth, Sicyon and others.[229] Cnemus’ vanguard eluded Phormio, who was presently observing the Corinthian preparations from his base at Naupactus.[230] The Peloponnesian fleet gathered at the island of Leucas, and Cnemus went over to the Aetolian mainland to mobilize his various Greek and tribal contingents.[231]

In Acarnania, Cnemus’ thousand Spartan hoplites were bolstered by the arrival of troops from Ambracia, Leucadia, Anactoria, 1,000 Chaonians under Photys and Nicanor, some Thesprotians, Molossians and Atintanians under Sabylinthus, Parauaseans under their King Oroedus, 1,000 Orestians, subjects of Antiochus, and 1,000 Macedonians who were marching to join them, the last an interesting development considering that Perdiccas (who had switched sides again) was simultaneously fighting the Athenians on the Chalcidice peninsula, as we have seen.[232] Cnemus thus had under his command a sizeable force, but mainly irregular tribal auxiliaries around a core of Spartan, Leucadian, and Ambracian hoplites. He divided the army into three columns.[233]

stratus theatre

acropolisstratos

Ancient theatre, and acropolis, at Stratus (Stratos)

Cnemus, believing he now possessed an overwhelming force, and, without waiting for the Macedonian or Corinthians reinforcements, started his march. The expedition quickly captured Amphilochian Argos, sacked the village of Limnaea, and advanced on Stratus, the Acarnanian capital.[234] The approach on Stratus was frustrated when the column led by the Chaonians rushed ahead of the main force, and were ambushed by the city’s defenders, including slingers. The Chaonians broke under this spoiling attack, falling back towards the Hellenic columns, where they continued to be harassed by the Acarnanian slingers.[235] Cnemus, having now encountered the first resistance, at once withdrew the entire army to the river Anapus, about nine miles from Stratus, and then to Oeniadae, which was the only polis in Acarnanian open to the Peloponnesians.[236] Here he disbanded his tribal contingents, and then withdrew with his 1,000 hoplites to Leucas. Westlake points out that this expedition accomplished little, but if this was only the vanguard of the Peloponnesian army, then Cnemus had done his job by testing the quality of the local combatants, thus preparing the way for the Corinthian and Macedonian armies to follow. But since his expected Corinthian reinforcements never arrived – having been intercepted by Phormio, as you shall see below – he then sailed back to the Peloponnesian port of Cyllene, in Elis.[237]

Evinos_River,_Greece_-_View_from_the_Bania_bridge

The river Evenus (Evinos)

Before their victory over Cnemus, the Acarnanians had despatched heralds to alert Phormio at Naupactus. Phormio, observing developments at Corinth, replied that he could not leave Naupactus, given the imminent deployment of the Corinthian and Sicyonian fleets.[238] When this combined fleet of 47 ships (mostly transports, commanded by Machaon, Isocrates and Agatharchidas) set sail, Phormio shadowed them. The Corinthians sailed close to the Achaean shore, while Phormio prepared to intercept the convoy if it attempted to cross over to Acarnania.[239] After both fleets had crossed the narrows at Rhium, the Corinthians attempted to sail from their anchorage when it was still night, cross over to Oeniadae or Kryoneri,[240] and thus avoid Phormio, but were detected leaving their base at Patrae.[241] Early that morning, therefore, Phormio sortied from his station at the mouth of the river Evenus, and closed with the Corinthians crossing from the opposite shore, thus compelling them to battle.[242]

patras

Battle at Patrae, Phormio surrounds and captures a dozen of the Corinthian transports, but the Corinthians escape to rendezvous with Cnemus, from John R. Hale, Lords of the Sea

To protect their convoy, the Corinthian triremes formed into the well known wheel (kyklos) formation, prows outward, surrounding their transports and five reserves triremes, much as the Athenians had done at Artemisium in 480.[243] Phormio, imitating the technique of the tuna fishermen,[244] formed his squadron into a line, and proceeded to row around the Corinthian formation, forcing them to close ranks, while he waited for the wind to come up and sow confusion amongst the Corinthians.[245]

This was indeed what took place, as Phormio had expected: when dawn broke, the eastern wind picked up, and the transports and triremes collided in the swells, at which point Phormio made the signal to attack.[246] He was rewarded by the immediate sinking of one the Corinthian command ships (Diodorus says this was in fact their flagship).[247] The Corinthians panicked, and Phormio swept up twelve of the enemy’s vessels, made prisoner their crews, perhaps 2,000 men or more,[248] the rest fleeing to Patras. Phormio rowed into Molycreium with his captures, where, at Rhium, the Athenians set up a trophy and dedicated one of the captured ships to Poseidon, before retiring back to Naupactus.

Moly

Excavated acropolis at Molycreium (Molykreio), a district of Antirrio, with the modern Rion-Antirion bridge across the narrows visible.

The surviving Corinthian ships withdrew from Patras to Dyme in Achaea, and from there to the Cyllene dockyard on the western coast of the Peloponnesus, in Elis.[249] Cnemus, himself withdrawing from his fleet base at Leucas following the defeat at Stratus, now sailed to join the Corinthians at Cyllene.[250] As Kagan puts it, “the first major Peloponnesian effort at an amphibious offensive had resulted in humiliating failure.”[251] Appalled at this series of reversals, the Spartans despatched Timocrates, Lycophron, and Brasidas, the last a rising star in the Spartan pantheon (a general and diplomat, Che Guevera-like figure for Thucydides),[252] to Cyllene to browbeat Cnemus,[253] and to recruit additional ships from amongst the Peloponnesian allies to reinforce the fleet.[254]

elis1

Ruins of Elis, theatre visible at lower left, capital city of the Eleans.

Phormio had not been idle. While he waited for the Peloponnesians to again take the sea, he despatched messengers back to Athens requesting reinforcements. The Athenians sent twenty ships, but with complicated orders that involved first deploying to Crete to assist with the reduction of Cydonia.[255]

Phormio, as such, was hard pressed. Cnemus had by now gathered 77 ships, drawn from Sparta, Corinth, Megara, Sicyon, Pellene, Elis, Leucas, and Ambracia, and was ready to force the crossing to Aetolia.[256] The Peloponnesian army had thus marched to Panormus to await transport across the narrows at Rhium, once the Athenian squadron had been reduced. Phormio, likewise, deployed again with his 20 ships to Molycreium, to keep watch on the combined Peloponnesian fleet.[257] Westlake and Rahe alike consider Phormio’s insistence on cruising in the Gulf of Patras a significant error, in that he left Naupactus open to attack.[258] However, it is also clear that Phormio’s mission was to prevent the Peloponnesians from crossing to Aetolia, and he could not achieve that aim hiding in harbour. With Phormio thus stationed outside the narrows, and the Peloponnesians stationed within, the two fleets waited.

Battle of the Rhium Strait/Naupactus

For about a week the two fleets stood off, training, and preparing for the action that was certain to follow. Cnemus and Brasidas at last determined to attack, before Athenian reinforcements could arrive.[259] The Peloponnesian commanders made a speech to their force, declaring that their greater numbers, both on land and at sea, combined with their certain valour, under more experienced commanders, gave them the advantage – however, the uncertainty of this proclamation was exposed by their threats against cowardice.[260]

Patras_gulf

Gulf of Patrae (Patras)

Phormio, seeing the concern amongst his sailors given the great disparity of numbers, also delivered a speech, stating that the Peloponnesians would not have assembled so large a fleet if they were truly confident in victory, and that Sparta’s allies could not possibly hope to triumph except under Lacedaemonian compulsion. Phormio outlined his intention to force the Peloponnesians to fight in the open sea, and concluded with words rendered by Thucydides to the effect: “Be prompt in taking your instructions, for the enemy is near at hand and watching us. In the moment of action remember the value of silence and order, which are always important in war, especially at sea. Repel the enemy in a spirit worthy of your former exploits. There is much at stake; for you will either destroy the rising hope of the Peloponnesian navy, or bring home to Athens the fear of losing the sea. Once more I remind you that you have beaten most of the enemy’s fleet already; and, once defeated, men do not meet the same dangers with their old spirit.”[261]

Elis

Map showing the Gulf of Patras, narrows of Rhium, & Achaea and Elis

The Peloponnesians, however, had no intention of sailing into Phormio’s trap outside the narrows. Instead, they weighed anchor in the morning on the 6th or 7th day, and split the fleet into two divisions: the main force, in ranks four deep, sailed for the northern shore, while the right wing of 20 of the fastest ships, under Timocrates in a Leucadian trireme,[262] was to prevent Phormio from escaping should he retreat back inside the narrows to Naupactus.[263] Brasidas, and to a lesser extent Cnemus, have generally been credited with this plan.[264] Realizing that the Peloponnesians were preparing to make for Naupactus, and thus capture Phormio’s base, he deployed in single file, holding the middle of the line himself, and hugged the coastline back through the narrows, with his few hundred Messenian hoplites following along the shore.[265]

naupactus

Battle of Rhium or Naupactus: Phormio is cut off by the combined Peloponnesian fleet, but then overcomes the over-confident Leucadians and crushes their main force, from John R. Hale, Lords of the Sea

Once Phormio was past the narrows, the Peloponnesians executed their plan, making full speed against the Athenian line, hoping to smash Phormio’s ships against the shore, while simultaneously cutting him off from his base.[266] Eleven of the Athenian ships, nevertheless, out-sailed Timocrates and the Peloponnesian right wing and escaped to Naupactus, but the remaining nine were caught and driven ashore.[267] The Athenian line had been cut, with Phormio’s trireme the last of the eleven to escape. Overwhelmed, crews of the nine trapped Athenian triremes swam for their lives – others were killed fighting. Thucydides, from this point on in the narrative, does not mention Phormio specifically,[268] however, other sources provide details that support his central role in what followed.

Phormio’s sent his ten ships into Naupactus, near the temple of Apollo, where they formed up, prows outwards, in preparation for a final defence. The twenty Peloponnesian triremes of Timocrates’ vanguard appeared, singing their victory paean, with Timocrates personally chasing Phormio, who intentionally straggled behind, baiting the over-eager Leucadians.[269] As so often in war, the premature celebration of one combatant exposed an opportunity to an alert commander: Phormio now committed a daring act that was in fact to change the entire course of the battle. By looping around an anchored merchant ship just outside the harbour,[270] the Athenian was able to get himself prow-on to the approaching Leucadian. “The hunter had become the prey,” wrote Hale of this moment.[271] Phormio immediately rammed Timocrates’ trireme, sinking the Leucadian. Timocrates, disgraced, his flagship sinking beneath him, drew his sword and committed suicide.[272] The loss of Timocrates caused the rest of Peloponnesians to pause, and, realizing that their squadron was over-extended, they halted rowing to wait for their formation to close up. As Kagan puts it, the Peloponnesians, “had given up all semblance of order in their pursuit, thinking the battle won.”[273] Some of the Peloponnesian ships, having gotten too close to the shore, ran aground. The pause soon gave way to panic, as the Peloponnesians “were thrown into complete confusion by this sudden setback at a moment when they believed themselves to be victorious.”[274]

trireme

Maneuvering and fighting a trireme, let alone a fleet of triremes, was a complicated and labour intensive task. Each warship was captained by a trierarch, and steered by a helmsman (kybernetes). A group of flutists and drillmasters kept time, and ensured the 170 oarsmen synchronized their rowing. Another 16 officers and men worked the sails. Ten marines and four archers filled out the warships’ offensive complement. Spartan fleets were commanded by navarchs, Athenian fleets by the strategoi.

trireme

oars

The recreation trireme Olympias, line-schematic of trireme, & the oar layout of a trireme.

The ten Athenian triremes waiting at Naupactus, following Phormio’s lead, launched an immediate counter-attack, taking the dispersed and powerless Peloponnesian ships one at a time.[275] The Peloponnesians fled for their base at Panormus. The Athenians took six enemy triremes and recovered their captured vessels, which the Peloponnesians had been in the process of securing for towing when the Messenian hoplites arrived, wading into the shallows,[276] and, combined with Phormio’s division, drove off the Peloponnesians and recaptured eight of the Athenian warships, the Spartans getting away with only one.[277]

The Lacedaemonians set up their one remaining capture as a trophy at Rhium, on the Achaean side of the strait. Phormio established his own trophy at Naupactus.[278] The Peloponnesians, demoralized beyond further effort, retreated that night to Corinth with their remaining ships, minus the Leucadians who returned to their island.[279] Before the summer was over the 20 Athenian triremes sent as reinforcements, by way of Crete, arrived at Naupactus and bolstered Phormio’s fleet to 39, plus those captured from the Peloponnesians.[280]

shipyard

The shipyard at Astakos

To conclude the story of Phormio at Naupactus, Thucydides carries forward the actions of Cnemus and Brasidas, who, upon arrival at Corinth, crossed the isthmus on foot to make a spoiling attack against the Piraeus with 40 vessels the Megarans were fitting out at their harbour of Nisaea. The Peloponnesians made a daring raid against Salamis, capturing the small squadron of three ships left there to blockade Megara. Alarmed, the Athenians at the Piraeus sortied to Salamis in response, and the Peloponnesians withdrew with their booty and the three captured triremes to Nisaea. As a result of this action, the fortifications at the Piraeus were strengthened.[281] Kagan points out that this raid had likely been invented by the Spartans in desperation to credit some small success to their effort following Phormio’s victory.[282]

pearius 2

Pireus

Views of ancient Piraeus, the principal port of Athens, and the long walls

In the fall of 429 Phormio sailed to Arcanania, docked at the yards at Astacus (Astakos), from which he could repair his triremes, and then led the march to Stratus with 400 Athenian and 400 Messenian hoplites, to shore up the defences there and expel any elements of questionable loyalty.[283] Phormio proceeded thence to Coronta, where he installed Cynes as pro-Athenian oligarch, and then returned to Astakos. Since it was by now winter of 429/8, Phormio decided against attacking Oeniadae, the last hostile holdout in Arcanania, which in wintertime was surrounded by a floodplain.[284] Instead, Phormio took his squadron back to Naupactus, where he collected the prisoners and prizes (16-18 Peloponnesian triremes), and in the spring of 428 sailed for Athens,[285] where the prisoners were then ransomed man for man.[286]

theatre

Ruins and theatre at Oeniadae

Phormio’s victories came as a decisive tonic for Athenian moral. Some of the captured hoplite shields and bronze rams from the Peloponnesian fleet were dedicated to the oracle at Delphi.[287] The young playwright Eupolis wrote the comedy Taxiarchs, probably in 427,[288] to celebrate the Athenian naval triumph, with Dionysus, to whom Phormio had dedicated his unpaid debt before departing for Naupactus, descending from Olympus to experience seaman-like hard training, and learn tactics from Phormio.[289] “Don’t you know my name is Ares?” Phormio says to the god.[290]

Eupolis

Eupolis, who wrote the comedy Taxiarchs about Phormio

How long Phormio lived after his great victory is unknown. Upon his return from Naupactus he was likely past 50. When he had departed Athens in 429, bound westward, the polis was suffering from the ravages of the plague: Pericles himself succumbed while Phormio was fighting in the Gulf of Corinth. Phormio may have died of the plague not long after his return. Another possibility, as mentioned above, is that Phormio was in fact prosecuted for the losses sustained during the campaign, and was now expelled from Athens, a regular occurrence for commanders, defeated or victorious, under the often capricious Athenian democracy.[291]

Whichever the case, the Acarnanians did not wait long to request further Athenian support, and Thucydides records that, shortly before the summer of 428, they specifically requested “a son or relative” of Phormio for the unfinished job of capturing Oeniadae.[292] Phormio’s son, Asopius, named after his grandfather, was despatched that summer with 30 ships, to resume operations in Acarnania. Asopius raided the Laconian coast on his way to Naupactus, but was forced to send 18 of his triremes back to Athens, no doubt because he received notification of the fleet of 100 being assembled to blockade the isthmus.[293] Continuing with 12 ships, Asopius arrived in Acarnania with the intention of completing operations against Oeniadae. From his base at Naupactus he assembled a large tribal army, but was unable to force the surrender of Oeniadae. Instead, he redeployed to Leucas and seized Nericum (Nericus) after landing. But on returning to their ships, Asopius was ambushed and killed by the Leucadians.[294] The bodies of Asopius and the others were brought back to Athens when the 12 triremes returned.[295]

Legacy

Olympiassail

Modern trireme Olympias

As Donald Kagan and others have observed, the strategic impact of the victory at Naupactus was profound, if not decisive.[296] Had the Delian League lost control of Acarnania, the Athenian economy would have been crippled as the Peloponnesians could then have interdicted Athenian trade around western Greece.[297] By preventing the Corinthians from intervening in the Acarnanian campaign, moreover, Phormio assured Cnemus’ defeat and withdrawal from the theatre. By scattering the Peloponnesian fleet, and preventing the Spartans from capturing Naupactus, Phormio then solidified the Delian League’s control over Aetolia and handed the tempo in the west to the Athenians right at the outset of the war.[298] By the end of 427 Athens was recovering from the plague, being then capable of manning 250 ships: 100 triremes to guard Salamis, Attica and Euboea, another 100 to raid the Laconia coast, plus additional contingents at Potidaea and Lesbos.[299]

Westlake may be correct to say Phormio, the strategoi, had no political ambitions, however, he certainly had political influence. This is demonstrated by his repeated interventions in Acarnania – where it is not to be forgotten that he brought about the Acarnanian alliance with Athens. He was fighting alongside Pericles at Samos in 441, and reducing the Olynthian league during the Potidaean campaign in 432. These operations attest to a close relationship with Pericles, and Phormio’s growing influence as a commander. Even the story of the 100 minas fine, and the lead tripod, attest to connections with a network, both legal, financial and influential.

relief

Marble relief dedicated to Athenians killed during the first year of the war, c. 430, from Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides (2008)

Diodorus, on the other hand, based on Ephorus’ history, is critical of the outcome of this battle, noting that “though [Phormio] sank some [of the enemy], he also lost a number of his own, so that the victory he won was dubious.”[300] Likewise, Westlake states that the twin battles, “did not produce immediate results of any great consequence” and goes on to criticize Phormio, along the lines of Diodorus, writing that the Athenians had “lost a considerable number of highly skilled men, and some of their ships had been reduced to wrecks, while the losses inflicted on the enemy were not heavy in relation to the size of the Peloponnesian fleet.”[301]

Moreover, as Westlake notes, Thucydides’ point in the telling of this battle seems to be to demonstrate that Phormio had been outmaneuvered by the Peloponnesian dash for Naupactus, and that the Athenians were saved only by a combination of fortitude and luck.[302] As Westlake concedes, however, the Athenians were in need of a victory to sustain their moral during the plague, if nothing else, and Phormio’s victories at Naupactus delivered precisely that.[303] Furthermore, the defeat of the Spartans in Acarnania, although achieved on land at Stratus, and especially for the Corinthians, meant the strategic focus of the war shifting back to the east: the Mitylenaeans on Lesbos had joined the Peloponnesian League, and Archidamus was preparing the Lacedaemonians for the 428 campaign – but that veteran campaigner, who rallied Sparta after the disastrous earthquake of 464, and, in 431 had opposed war with Athens, died in 427 and was succeeded by his son Agis.[304] With Athen’s naval superiority firmly established at the outset, the war would be much more difficult for the Peloponnesians than they had been willing to admit.[305] It was for this reason that the Lacedaemonians were busy at Corinth preparing to haul the entire Corinthian fleet across the diolkos, and into the Saronic Gulf.[306]

Acropolis

Although Athen’s strategic situation was improving, despite the plague, with Pericles and Phormio gone it was now that Cleon’s faction solidified its power and extended the war into Boeotia and Thessaly. This opening phase of the war dragged on until the terrible battles at Pylos, Delium, and Amphipolis, culminating in the fragile the Peace of Nicias in 421.

The Athenians placed a statue of Phormio on the Acropolis, and his ashes were buried in the state cemetery, as Kagan puts it, “on the road to the Academy near the grave of Pericles.”[307]

aristophanes

Aristophanes, who wrote a tribute to Phormio into his Knights (424).

Phormio’s legacy was written into the Lysistrata, where Aristophanes compared him to Myronides, the great Athenian champion of the First Peloponnesian War; and in the Knights of 424,[308] Aristophanes included a tribute to Phormio, in praise of Poseidon:

Poseidon, master of the horse

And thrill of the ring of the iron hoof,

The neighing steed and the fast sloop

Nuzzled in blue to ram through,

And the well-paid crew…

This and the lusty zest of youth:

Charioteers on the eternal course

Towards fame or put off the dead-

Come to our dancing, come to us here,

Lord of the Dolphins under the head

Of Sunium, son of Cronus and

Phormio’s favorite god

And Athens’, too, in time of proof

When it comes to war

And taking a stand.

cape-sounion-temple-of-poseidona-afternoon-tour (1)

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Appendix I: Units of Measure

weights

Currency, weights, measures and units of length, from Strassler, ed., The Landmark Thucydides, & The Histories by Herodotus, translated by Aubrey de Selincourt

Appendix II: Currencies

metals value

silver2

 Value of metals in drachm, and the sources of silver, from Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy

Appendix III: Dialects & Regions

greek dialects

Map of Greek dialects c. 5th century

785px-Greecemap-en.svg

Regions of ancient Greece

Appendix IV: Rainfall

precipitation

Rainfall in the Aegean. The Ionian islands receive significantly more precipitation (in Ioannina, 1,082 mm), resulting in more humid conditions. Athens receives exceptionally little precipitation (360 mm). From Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy, p. 37

Appendix V: Athenian Grain Supply

Athenian Grain

Sources of Athenian grain, 4th century. Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy

Notes

[1] John R. Hale, Lords of the Sea: How Trireme Battles Changed the World, Kindle ebook (Viking, 2009)., chapter 11; Donald Kagan, The Archidamian War, vol. 2, 4 vols. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996)., chapter 4; and H. D. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968)., chapter 4.

[2] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 108

[3] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 44

[4] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2632

[5] Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World, ed. Roselyne De Ayala and Paul Braudel, trans. Sian Reynolds, Kindle ebook (London: Penguin Books, 2001)., p. 318

[6] Braudel., p. 314

[7] Braudel., p. 314. Alain Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States, trans. Steven Rendall (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2019)., p. 356-7

[8] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 190, 193. Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 316

[9] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 303

[10] George Grote, History of Greece, V, Kindle ebook, vol. 5, 12 vols. (London: John Murray, 1846)., chapter 45, loc. 4112

[11] Donald Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, vol. 1, 4 vols. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013)., p. 80

[12] Grote, History of Greece, V., chapter 45, loc. 4103

[13] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 198

[14] Raphael Sealey, A History of the Greek City States, ca. 700-338 B.C. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976)., p. 246, 250. Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 19, 25

[15] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 25

[16] Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives, trans. Robin Waterfield, 2008 reissue (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)., p. 152. See also, Thucydides (Jowett), The Peloponnesian War, trans. Benjamin Jowett, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881), http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0105., 1.116, 1.108

[17] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.116, 1.112; Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 104

[18] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens, Books 11-14.34 (480-401 BCE), trans. Peter Green (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)., p. 97-8. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.116, 1.114

[19] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.116, 1.115

[20] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 251. See also, Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives., p. 136-7, 152-3

[21] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 244, Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 331

[22] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 85

[23] Paul A. Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 446-418 B.C., vol. 3, 3 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020)., p. 11

[24] Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives., p. 98-9. Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 85

[25] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 39

[26] Aristotle (Rackham), Aristotle: The Athenian Constitution, The Eudemian Ethics, On Virtues and Vices, trans. H. Rackham (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1935)., p. 19-25

[27] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy

[28] Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 327

[29] Robert Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles, trans. Peter Green (London: Pheonix, 2002)., p. 31-2

[30] Flaceliere., p. 36, 50

[31] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleisthenes

[32] Aristotle (Rhodes), The Athenian Constitution, trans. P. J. Rhodes (London: Penguin Books, 2002)., p. 66

[33] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 203. Cornelius Nepos (Rolfe), Lives, trans. J. C. Rolfe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984)., p. 19-21, 23. Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories, trans. Aubrey de Selincourt (London: Penguin Books, 2003)., p. 408-10, 6.135. Diodorus, 10.30, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0084%3Abook%3D10%3Achapter%3D30%3Asection%3D1

[34] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 203-4.

[35] Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 65

[36] Aristotle (Rhodes)., p. 65

[37] Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives., p. 99, 102

[38] Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 68

[39] Cornelius Nepos (Rolfe), Lives., p. 61. Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 146

[40] Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 67

[41] I. F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates, Anchor Books Edition (New York: Doubleday, 1989)., p. 18

[42] Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 64

[43] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 320

[44] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 7, loc. 1733. Aristotle (Rackham), The Athenian Constitution., p. 19. Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 320-1. Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 40-2

[45] Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 68-9

[46] Aristotle (Rhodes)., p. 62-3

[47] Aristotle (Rhodes)., p. 70

[48] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 7, loc. 1765; Aristotle (Rhodes), Athenian Constitution., p. 70

[49] Peter Krentz, The Battle of Marathon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)., p. 20.

[50] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleroterion

[51] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 38-9

[52] Flaceliere., p. 38-9

[53] Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 327

[54] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 38

[55] Flaceliere., p. 39

[56] Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 327

[57] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 307, 313. Androtion (Harding), Androtion and the Atthis, trans. Phillip Harding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006)., p. 104

[58] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 320

[59] Bresson., p. 308

[60] Bresson., p. 333

[61] Bresson., p. 334

[62] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 117

[63] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 11-2, 39

[64] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 149

[65] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 39-40

[66] Aristotle (Barker), The Politics of Aristotle, trans. Ernest Barker (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976)., Appendix IV, p. 378

[67] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 50

[68] Thucydides (Crawley), The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, ed. Robert B. Strassler, trans. Richard Crawley (New York: Free Press, 2008)., Appendix A, p. 577

[69] Xenophon (Marincola), The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika, ed. Robert B. Strassler, trans. John Marincola (New York: Anchor Books, 2009)., Appendix K, p. 389

[70] Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 326

[71] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 40

[72] Flaceliere., p. 40

[73] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 7, loc. 1733

[74] Jonathan M. Hall, A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE, 2nd ed. (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)., p. 75

[75] Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories., p. 378-9

[76] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 28

[77] Kagan., p. 27-30. See also, Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 55fn

[78] Paul A. Rahe, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge, vol. 1, 3 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015)., prologue, loc. 477-535

[79] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.116, 1.117. Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner (New York: Penguin Books, 1980)., p. 103

[80] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 170-1

[81] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., 1.37-1.44, p. 24-28

[82] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 174

[83] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., 310.

[84] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 233-4, 384-6. Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 318

[85] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 43. Thucydides, 2.68

[86] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 38. Peter Krentz, “Hoplite Hell: How Hoplites Fought,” in Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece, ed. Donald Kagan and Gregory F. Viggiano (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013), 134–56., p. 136

[87] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.25 et seq

[88] Polyaenus, Stratagems, 3.4.2, as cited by Hale, Lords of the Sea., notes, loc. 5718. See Polyaenus (Shepherd), Stratagems of War, trans. R. Shepherd, 2nd ed. (Harvard: ECCO Print Editions, 1796)., p. 97-8

[89] Polyaenus (Shepherd), Stratagems of War., p. 97-8

[90] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 129-30, 2.68

[91] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 159, 272, 309

[92] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., 4.108, p. 282. George Grote, History of Greece, II, Kindle ebook, vol. 2, 12 vols. (London: John Murray, 1846)., chapter 1, loc. 247. Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 354

[93] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 315

[94] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 359

[95] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 274-5

[96] Kagan., p. 277

[97] Kagan., p. 273, 279

[98] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 315

[99] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 280

[100] Kagan., p. 280-1

[101] Kagan., p. 277-8

[102] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 315, Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 281, Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 39, 1.63

[103] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 277

[104] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 315

[105] Sealey., p. 316

[106] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 37

[107] Kagan (2013) says November, Freedman (2013) says August.

[108] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 278, 315-6, & Appendix K. Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History, Kindle ebook (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)., p. 32-3

[109] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2624

[110] Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 72

[111] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 121

[112] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 316

[113] Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 72

[114] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 41, 1.67

[115] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 40, 1.65

[116] Homer, The Iliad, trans. Caroline Alexander, Kindle ebook (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016)., book 2, p. 39-46

[117] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Plataea#Greeks

[118] Appendix 2, Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War.

[119] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 7, loc. 1733, 1796. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 25

[120] Adam Schwartz, “Large Weapons, Small Greeks,” in Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece, ed. Donald Kagan and Gregory F. Viggiano (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013), 157–75., p. 167, Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 27

[121] Schwartz, “Large Weapons, Small Greeks.”, p. 168

[122] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 86-7

[123] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 37, 57

[124] Appendix 2, Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War.

[125] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., book 6, p. 366 & Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., Appendix 2

[126] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 303

[127] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 39

[128] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 278; Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 39-40

[129] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 292, 297

[130] Bresson., p. 307-8

[131] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 103, 2.13

[132] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 278

[133] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 26

[134] Kurt Raaflaub, “Archaic and Classical Greece,” in War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, and Mesoamerica, ed. Kurt Raaflaub and Nathan Rosenstein (Washington, D.C.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 129–62., p. 142. & Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories., p. 213

[135] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 7, loc. 1843

[136] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 26. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 103, 2.13

[137] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 39

[138] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 279. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 103, 2.13

[139] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 315

[140] Donald Kagan, The Fall of the Athenian Empire, vol. 4, 4 vols. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991)., p. 8

[141] See for example, Alfonso Moreno, Feeding the Democracy: The Athenian Grain Supply in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BC (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 94, 186, 293. Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 316, 332

[142] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 320

[143] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 73-9. See also Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., 1.110; Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 82

[144] Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives., p. 137

[145] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 97 fn

[146] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., 308-10; Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 68-9

[147] Plutarch (Waterfield), Greek Lives., p. 154

[148] Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories., p. 464, 7.144; Kagan, The Fall of the Athenian Empire., p. 3. Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 48

[149] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 415, 6.91

[150] Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories., p. 584, 679

[151] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 66. Aristotle (Barker), Politics of Aristotle., Appendix IV, p. 378 fn

[152] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 16

[153] https://athensandbeyond.com/theatre-of-dionysus-in-athens/

[154] Jason Douglas Porter, “Slavery and Athens’ Economic Efflorescence: Mill Slavery as a Case Study,” Mare Nostrum 10, no. 2 (2019): 25–50.

[155] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 55. Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 41

[156] Braudel, The Mediterranean in the Ancient World., p. 327

[157] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 103, 2.13. See also, Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 124

[158] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 21-22

[159] The Legislation of Lycurgus and Solon by Friedrich Schiller, Jena University, August 1789 https://archive.schillerinstitute.com/transl/lycurgus_solon.html

[160] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 7

[161] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 321 fn

[162] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 26, & Rahe, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge., prologue, loc. 213

[163] Aristotle (Jowett), Aristotle’s Politics, trans. Benjamin Jowett (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908)., p. 85

[164] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 21. Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 93, 2.7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gytheio#History The principal Lacedemonian dry dock was at Gytheio, where triremes were manufactured.

[165] Francis MacDonald Cornford, The Republic of Plato, trans. Francis MacDonald Cornford (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945)., p. xvi

[166] Thucydides (Jowett), The Peloponnesian War, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 2nd ed., revised, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900)., p. 10-11

[167] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 93

[168] Bresson., p. 357

[169] http://www.ime.gr/chronos/04/en/economy/constr_korinth.html

[170] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 17

[171] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 94

[172] Bresson., p. 192-3, 352

[173] Bresson., p. 358

[174] Flaceliere, Daily Life In Greece At The Time of Pericles., p. 43-4

[175] Flaceliere., p. 45-6, 49-50

[176] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 27-35

[177] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 256. Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 317

[178] Thucydides (Hammond), The Peloponnesian War, trans. Martin Hammond (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)., 1.67, p. 32-3

[179] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 63. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 113, 2.29

[180] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 37-9

[181] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2617

[182] Plato, Symposium (Nehamas), trans. Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1989)., p. 72-3

[183] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 97.

[184] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 43

[185] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 37-48. 1.66-1.87

[186] Sealey, A History of the Greek City States., p. 316, Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 280. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 77, 1.125

[187] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 317; Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 104

[188] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 48. Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., 86. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 100, 2.10

[189] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 49

[190] Kagan., p. 54

[191] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 111, 2.25

[192] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 58. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 111, 114, 2.25, 2.30

[193] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p.112, 2.26

[194] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 107-8, 2.18-20

[195] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 112, 2.27

[196] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 97

[197] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 39, 63-4. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 114, 2.31

[198] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 114, 2.31

[199] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 71-2

[200] Kagan., p. 71

[201] Kagan., p. 92-3, 96. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 36

[202] Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 101

[203] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 54-5. Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 102-3

[204] Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 103

[205] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 98-9. Thucydides (Hammond), Thucydides (Hammond)., p. 109, 2.70

[206] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2617

[207] Hale., chapter 11, loc. 2632. Thucydides (Hammond), Thucydides (Hammond)., p. 109, 2.71

[208] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2648. See Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 63

[209] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 96-7

[210] Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 63. See also, Pausanias (Levi), Guide to Greece 1: Central Greece, trans. Peter Levi, vol. 1, 2 vols. (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1979)., p. 67

[211] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2655

[212] Hale., chapter 11, loc. 2662, 2648

[213] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 148, 2.80, Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2662.

[214] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2670; see also, Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 174 fn, 3.33. Polyaenus (Shepherd), Stratagems of War., p. 98.

[215] Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War., p. 24.

[216] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 44. Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 100

[217] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 101

[218] Kagan., p. 102

[219] Kagan., p. 102

[220] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 146, 2.78

[221] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 131

[222] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 105-6

[223] Kagan., p. 106; Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 131

[224] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 147, 2.79

[225] Bresson, The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy., p. 356

[226] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 107

[227] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 137. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 107

[228] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 128. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 136

[229] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 137

[230] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 44. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 108

[231] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 105

[232] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 137-8. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 108

[233] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 149, 2.81

[234] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 139.

[235] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 150, 2.81. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 138

[236] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 106

[237] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 150, 2.82. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 138

[238] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 149, 2.81; see also, Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 108; Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2678

[239] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 151, 2.83, see also Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 177; Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 140

[240] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 108-109

[241] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2685

[242] Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 177

[243] Herodotus (de Selincourt), The Histories., p. 504-5. Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 151, 2.83, see also Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 178, Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2685. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 109-10

[244] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2693

[245] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 151, 2.84

[246] Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 109

[247] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 152, 2.84; Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 132. Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2709

[248] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2709

[249] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 111

[250] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 152, 2.84

[251] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 111

[252] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 136

[253] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2731. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 139. Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 110

[254] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 152, 2.85

[255] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 153, 2.85. Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 112

[256] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2731-9

[257] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 153, 2.86

[258] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 51-3. Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 113

[259] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 153, 2.86

[260] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 154-5, 2.87-8

[261] Thucydides (Jowett)., p. 155-7, 2.89

[262] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2767

[263] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 157, 2.90

[264] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 140

[265] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2746, 2774

[266] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 49

[267] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 158, 2.90

[268] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 50

[269] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 158, 2.91. Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2798. Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War., p. 114

[270] Polyaenus (Shepherd), Stratagems of War., p. 98

[271] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2813

[272] Hale., chapter 11, loc. 2830

[273] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 114

[274] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2830. Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 49

[275] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 158-9, 2.92

[276] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2838

[277] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 158, 2.90. Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2845

[278] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 159, 2.92

[279] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 50

[280] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 159, 2.92

[281] Thucydides (Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War., p. 186

[282] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 116-7

[283] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 53. Thucydides (Hammond), Thucydides (Hammond)., p. 129, 2.102

[284] Thucydides (Hammond), Thucydides (Hammond)., p. 129, 2.102

[285] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2853

[286] Thucydides (Hammond), Thucydides (Hammond)., p. 129-30, 2.103

[287] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2853

[288] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 58 fn. Androtion (Harding), The Atthis., p. 104

[289] Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2861

[290] https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/520/1/heathm15.pdf

[291] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 55

[292] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 172, 1.7.

[293] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 53 fn

[294] Thucydides (Crawley), Landmark Thucydides., p. 161

[295] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 173, 3.8

[296] Kagan, The Archidamian War., p. 115

[297] Donald Kagan, The Peloponnesian War (London: Penguin Books, 2004)., p. 95-6

[298] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 59

[299] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p.178, 3.17

[300] Diodorus Siculus (Green), The Persian Wars to the Fall of Athens., p. 132

[301] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 43, 50

[302] Westlake., p. 51-3

[303] Westlake., p. 50

[304] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 173, 177, 3.15

[305] Westlake, Individuals in Thucydides., p. 50

[306] Thucydides (Jowett), Thucydides (Jowett), 1881., p. 177, 3.15

[307] Kagan, The Peloponnesian War., p. 96. See also, Hale, Lords of the Sea., chapter 11, loc. 2876

[308] Aristophanes (Roche), Aristophanes: The Complete Plays, trans. Paul Roche (New York: New American Library, 2005)., p. 92-3.

After Trafalgar: The Royal Navy & the Napoleonic Wars, 1806 – 1816

 

 

After Trafalgar: The Royal Navy & the Napoleonic Wars, 1806 – 1816

This article examines the operational history of the Royal Navy during the military and geopolitical progress of the Napoleonic Wars, from the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 to 27 August 1816 when Lord Exmouth suppressed the Algiers slave trade. This decade begins after Nelson and Collingwood smashed the invasion threat at Trafalgar, subsequent Franco-Spanish sea power thus reduced to mere squadrons, desperately rebuilding at bases scattered around the globe. The British Cabinet and Admiralty could at last concentrate on capturing France’s overseas naval bases and colonial factories. During these tumultuous years the United Kingdom persistently made war on Napoleonic France and captured the fleets and colonies of those nations which were allied to Bonaparte, such as Spain, Denmark, Russia and Italy. In 1812 the Royal Navy overcame the intervention of the United States, a growing power that had won dramatic naval victories against the United Kingdom. While ministries changed, and with them the prospects for peace, Cabinets tended to adopt the traditional strategy: wield the Royal Navy to blockade the enemy’s ports, land the British Army wherever possible, and supply treasure and resources to what became, after Napoleon’s escape from Elba, a total of seven military coalitions. 

 

First COnsul2

Napoleon as First Consul, by Jean August Dominique Ingres c. 1803

Napoleon I

Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor on December 2nd 1804. He was 35 years old. Painted by the studio of Francois Gerard.

SHIPS

War at Sea during the Georgian period

74 gun

74-gun third rate ship of the line, 1790 pattern

The Royal Navy’s role as strategic implement was to carry out amphibious operations of a vast scale and complexity. The goal was often to influence the situation on the continent by creating military diversions (the Peninsula, Walcheren), capturing the enemy’s naval bases and destroying his fleets (Copenhagen, Mauritius, Basque Roads), or acquiring the enemy’s colonies. Convoying merchants and hunting privateers were vital trade protection responsibilities that regional commanders needed to master.

SLR0509

28-gun frigate c. 1763, 586 tons: 24 9-pdr cannons, four 3-pdrs on the quarterdeck

SLR0497

32 gun fifth rate, c. 1757, 660 tons

When these many global campaigns are considered to have occurred in addition to the nearly round the clock blockadade of European harbours, and by 1813 American ports, not to mention resources dedicated to convoy operations, logistical transportation and anti-privateering, it can be seen what influence an organization manned by not much more than 110,000 men in fact had in terms of executing Britain’s foreign policy and shaping world history.

1803

 

Part I

1793

The Wooden Walls

Emperor Napoleon

Emperor Napoleon I in his coronation robes, 1804, by Jean Louis Charles Pauquet

 

braudelmarkets

Late 18th century Western European commercial concentrations, from Fernand Braudel’s Wheels of Commerce. Paris and its environs represent the largest economic concentration

 

RN1806

Establishment of the Royal Navy in 1806

The Royal Navy expanded exponentially after 1793 when Revolutionary France declared war upon the United Kingdom and Holland, the latter whom the British were obliged to defend by the treaty of 1788. Mobilization increased the navy’s manpower estimate from the peacetime establishment of 20,000 seamen in 1792 to 73,000 the following year, a figure that continued to increase until it reached 100,000 in 1796. This level was maintained until the peak of 114,000 was reached in 1812. Another 165,000 seamen manned the merchant marine in 1812 (up from 118,000 in 1792). Nor do these figure include the Royal Marines: 5,000 in 1793, 30,000 by 1810, when the art of amphibious warfare had been finely honed.[1] At the beginning of 1806 the Royal Navy possessed 128 ships of the line, 15 fifty-gun cruisers, with another 88 and 19 building, respectively, for a total establishment of 250 ships, discounting frigates, etc.[2]

 

Fleet displacments2

Displacement tonnage of European fleets during 17th and 18th centuries

WarshipsFrigates

Numerical size of fleets during 18th century, ships of the line and frigates

The combined fleets of France and Spain were nearing parity with the Royal Navy when the Revolution broke out.

 

Chatham Dockyard by Farrington BHC1782

Chatham Dockyard, c. 1780s, by Joseph Farington

London Dockyard

London Docks at Wapping, 1803, by William Daniell

The generation of Royal Navy officers prominent in 1806 emerged from a long tradition of admirals, beginning in the hard school of the Elizabethan age. Prototypical practitioners such as the Earl of Lincoln, the Duke of Northumberland, Howard of Effingham, Sir John Hawkins, Francis Drake, Thomas Seymour, the Earl of Nottingham, the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Cumberland, Walter Raleigh, Richard Grenville, even Martin Frobisher, all illustrious predecessors who set the stage for their 17th century progeny. A new breed of sea generals evolved from the Civil War and Dutch Wars, including William Monson, George Somers, Edward Montagu, William Penn, the Duke of Northumberland, Robert Blake, George Monck, John Chichley, the Duke of York, the Duke of Grafton, and after 1688, Arthur Herbert, John Benbow, George Rooke, Stafford Fairborne, Viscount Torrington, John Leake and Edward Russell, whose 18th century successors were George Anson, George Clinton, Edward Vernon, Edward Hawke, John Byng, Edward Boscawen, John Byron, Samuel Barrington, George Pocock and James Cook, followed by George Rodney, Samuel Hood, John Harvey, Augustus Keppel, Richard Howe, George Darby, Robert Calder, and Charles Middleton.

 

Masters05

Officer generations of the Royal Navy, from Elizabeth I to George III, 1558-1815

David Syrett, Nicholas Rodger, Roger Knight and Andrew Lambert are in agreement that the generation of officers who had risen to prominence since the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars were the successors of more than a centuries worth of professional experience.[4] The “service elite” who emerged out of the phase 1740-1792,[5] which included the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War and the War of the First Coalition, had now produced the penultimate generation of 18th century officers: Alexander Hood, Adam Duncan, John Jervis, William Cornwallis, Hyde Parker, George Keith, John Duckworth, and Cuthbert Collingwood, whose uncompromising understudies and contemporaries, in particular those born between 1753 and 1775, included Horatio Nelson, James Gambier, Edward Pellew, Alan Hyde Gardner, James Saumarez, Thomas Thornbrough, Alexander Cochrane, Richard Strachan, Home Popham, John Warren, Robert Stopford, George Cockburn, Thomas Fremantle, William Sidney Smith, George Vancouver and Charles Stirling. It was these officers who carried Jervis and Nelson’s work through to completion.

 

barham2Earl Grey

Charles Middleton, Lord Barham, First Naval Lord, 1805 – 1806, & Charles Grey, Viscount Howick, Barham’s Whig successor. Middleton, a talented frigate commander and dissembling administrator who cut his teeth reducing privateers in the Caribbean during the Seven Years War, spent forty years of a long career modernizing the navy and improving the quality and scale of dockyard works, a passion he shared with Lord Sandwich

 

houseofcommons

The House of Lords and House of Commons in 1766

commons

The House of Commons in 1793-94, by Karl Anton Hickel

The direction of higher strategy naturally co-mingled with the formulation of government policy. A succession of more or less successful Tory or Whig dominated coalition ministries transitioned in the period after 1805 from the strategic defensive to a global naval offensive, blockading France and intercepting French trade, then conquering Napoleons’ numerous island bases, containing the Americans, and intervening directly on the Continent.

Cabinet

British Cabinet office holders, 1803-1815, from Christopher Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803-15 (1999)

 

Somerset House

Somersethouse03

Somerset 1809

Somerset House c. 1720. Location of the Navy Board, Victualling and Sick offices after 1789, engraving by Leonard Knyff & Johannes Kip, in 1795 by Joseph Farington & in 1809 by Rudolph Ackermann

 

London180401London180402

Views of London in 1804, by William Daniell

 

The Great Fleet Battles

Despite being a force of not much more than a hundred thousand men, and with less than 150 ships of the line, the Royal Navy won a string of victories between 1794-1805 that pulverized French, Spanish and Dutch naval power: the Glorious First of June (1794), Cape St. Vincent (1797), Camperdown (1797), the Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Cape Finisterre (1805) and finally Trafalgar (1805), concluded a spectacular series of fleet battles that shifted the maritime initiative to the United Kingdom.[3] 

First of June

Lord Howe’s victory on the Glorious First of June, three hundred miles off Ushant, 1 June 1794, by Nicholas Pocock

Cape Saint Vincent

John Jervis’ victory at Cape St. Vincent, 14 February 1797, by Robert Cleveley

Camperdown

Adam Duncan’s victory against the Dutch at Camperdown, 11 October 1797, by Thomas Whitcombe

Cadiz

Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson was in command of the blockade of Cadiz in 1797, by Thomas Buttersworth

The Nile

Vice Admiral Nelson’s victory at Aboukir Bay, the Nile, 1 August 1798, by Nicholas Pocock

Copenhagen2

Viscount Nelson captures the Danish fleet at Copenhagen, 2 April 1801, by Nicholas Pocock

Cape Finisterre

Admiral Sir Robert Calder engages the Franco-Spanish fleet off Cape Finisterre, 23 July 1805, by William Anderson

Trafalgar

Lord Nelson’s decisive double line approach at Trafalgar, 21 October 1805

Pocock Trafalgar2

Nicholas Pocock’s 1808 painting showing Nelson and Collingwood’s divisions colliding with the Franco-Spanish battle line at Cape Trafalgar

trafalgar2

HMS Victory at Trafalgar by Gerald Maurice Burn

Battle_Of_Trafalgar_By_William_Lionel_Wyllie,_Juno_Tower,_CFB_Halifax_Nova_Scotia

Battle of Trafalgar by William Wyllie

TurnerTrafalgarWest Death of Nelson

The Battle of Trafalgar by Joseph Turner, c. 1822-24, & The Death of Nelson, by Benjamin West, 1806

Nelson1805

1805 poster commemorating Nelson’s death and the victory at Trafalgar

 

The antagonist of the Royal Navy in this violent struggle was the young Marine Nationale, at a low point after Trafalgar and Ortegal: in possession of only 19 solid ships of the line, but Spain could still marshal 57 and Holland would add another 16.[7] With its opponents so reduced the Royal Navy was therefore the largest navy in the world, indeed, outnumbering all of the European fleets combined (239 ships). As Charles Esdaile wrote, “Trafalgar’s significance is a matter of some dispute. In the short term it mattered little: Britain had already escaped the threat of invasion, and it did nothing to affect events in central Europe. Nor did it permanently establish the fact of British naval predominance, for the French shipyards were over the years able to make up Villeneuve’s losses and force the British to continue to commit immense resources to the naval struggle. All that can be said for certain is that, despite much bluster, Napoleon never again attempted to launch a frontal assault against Britain: henceforth victory would have to be attained by some form of economic warfare. In that sense, then, Trafalgar may be said to have changed the whole course of the war…” Napoleon could only commit to fight on the continent, hoping his privateers and detached squadrons would inflict some damage on Britain’s veritable cornucopia of trade.[8]

 

Battle Maps

European alliances and battle locations, 1802-1815

 

For the United Kingdom the challenge was now to take advantage of the destruction of the enemy fleets by leveraging British seapower to attack the French empire at its exposed flanks. As the editors of the Navy Records Society’s British Naval Documents, 1204-1960 described it, for Britain “the obvious alternative [to subsidizing continental coalitions] was to attack the empires of France and Spain, and disrupt their commerce; increasingly this strategy was used. The ‘blue water’ as opposed to ‘continental’ strategy aimed at defeating France by financial attrition.”[9] Napoleon was eager to do the same and after Trafalgar despatched squadrons to intercept British trade, such as the West Indian imports, which in 1803 were valued at £6.1 million and therefore had to be protected by the British from raiders crossing the Atlantic.[10]

 

kennedy

Britain’s maritime strategy against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, from Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (1983), p. 125

 

For both Britain and France then, as James Davey put it, “… in late 1805, the focus of the naval war moved away from Europe into the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.”[11] Britain’s essential expeditionary strategy came to the fore, and not only on the colonial front. Herbert Richmond and Roger Knight credit Secretary of War Henry Dundas with first advancing the colonial war policy, described by Knight as a “strategy of pre-emptive strikes against French ports”, exemplified first by the Ostend raid, carried out in May 1798 by Captain Sir Home Riggs Popham, a figure who will appear frequently in the various raids recounted below.[12] The expeditionary strategy that followed, as Julian Corbett recognized it, culminated in the Walcheren expedition of 1809: an attempt to leverage “the army to perfect our command of the sea against a fleet acting stubbornly on the defensive.”[13]  

 

The Battle of Cape Ortegal

The Trafalgar campaign concluded when Captain Sir Richard Strachan’s squadron of five, tasked with blockading Ferrol, intercepted the squadron of Rear Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, whose four of the line had escaped destruction at Trafalgar. On 4/5 November 1805 off Cape Ortegal, Strachan’s small force made quick work of the French squadron, taking all four of Dumanoir’s ships, but in turn missing Captain Zacharie Allemand, who slipped through to Rochefort having captured 43 merchants and three warships during his cruise.[6]

 

Sir_R._Strachan's_Action_Nov_4_1805Strachan's action

Strachan2

Views of the Battle of Cape Ortegal, 4/5 November 1805, Captain Sir Richard Strachan completes the destruction of Villeneuve’s fleet, by Thomas Whitcombe.

 

Part II

1805-8

Napoleon’s Campaigns against Austria, Prussia and Russia: Ulm and Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland & Royal Navy Operations: San Domingo, South Africa, South America, Copenhagen, The Baltic, The Peninsula

 

The spectacular defeat of the combined fleet at Trafalgar, although decisive in terms of Britain’s security from invasion, for Napoleon was merely in the background: the military action that season took place on Austrian and German soil, and it was here that the future of the Third Coalition was determined. The Austrian advance into Bavaria at Ulm under Mack was encircled by Ney, who had been despatched by Napoleon to hold what he thought was only a minor flank while the French Emperor executed his counter-march. Mack, however, had been totally surrounded between 15 – 17 October and then forced to surrender on the 20th, the day before Trafalgar.[14] The various French corps had inflicted 10,000 casualties and captured a staggering 50,000 prisoners, leaving the route to Vienna open.[15]

ulm

Napoleon encircles Mack’s Austrian corps at Ulm, 20 October 1805, by Giuseppe-Pietro Bagetti

 

The violation of Ansbach by the French on 3 October brought Frederick William III of Prussia around to a compromise with Alexander I Czar of Russia who, on 25 October, met with the Prussian king at Potsdam. By 3 November and the signing of the Treaty of Potsdam Frederick William was brought into the war alongside Russia.[16] After capturing the Austrian capital unopposed on 12/13 November, Napoleon turned against the Russians and Austrians as Kutusov and Buxhowden were combining between Brunn and Olmutz with 90,000 men on 19 November.[17] Napoleon arrived with Murat at Brunn the next day with 40,000 men – the Emperor’s forces were at this time precariously divided between the Hungarian, Viennese, and Italian fronts.[18] With both sides short on supplies, and winter lengthening, a decision had to be reached.

 

Austerlitz01

Napoleon issues his orders the morning of 2 December 1805, by Carle Vernet

Austerlitz02

Views of the Battle of Austerlitz, by Simeon Fort & Giuseppe-Pietro d’apres Bagetti, c. 1834-5

On 2 December, his army now massed at 65,000, Napoleon induced the Allies (commanded jointly by Czar Alexander and Emperor Francis) to attack at Austerlitz, routing both in hard fighting and inflicting 26,000 Allied casualties and taking 180 guns at the cost of only 7,000-8,000 French.[19] Francis II asked Napoleon for a truce on 4 December and on the 26th Austria agreed to the peace settlement known as the Treaty of Pressburg, ceding to Napoleon large portions of Italy and Germany.[20] This series of reversals for the Third Coalition seemed to do in William Pitt, who died on 23 January 1806.[21]

 

NapoleonFrancois

Napoleon meeting with Holy Roman Emperor Francis II on 4 December 1805, by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

The War in 1806

French foreign minister Talleyrand, meanwhile, employed diplomacy to secure the treaty of Schonbrunn, 15 December 1805, neutralizing Prussia until August 1806.[22] After the New Year the Franco-Prussian alliance was solidified by the Treaty of Berlin, 24 February 1806, as a result of which Prussia annexed Hanover that March. Frederick William was in fact playing both sides and by July had resolved to join with the Russians.[23]  

Napoleon at this time, between May and July, was focused on a brief campaign in Dalmatia during which Ragusa was occupied by the French, the Russians landed a force stationed on Corfu to take Cattaro, but Molitor arrived with reinforcements and forced the Russians to withdraw back to the Moldavian frontier.[24]

 

fox

Terracotta bust of Charles James Fox, by Joseph Nollekens, c. 1791

Republican sympathizer Charles Fox, Foreign Minister in Grenville’s Talents ministry, was attempting to negotiate a way out of the war, as had been arranged previously with Revolutionary France by the Peace of Amiens in 1802. While Fox was willing to accept Napoleon’s suzerainty in Europe he was not willing to suffer French domination of the Mediterranean, where Napoleon was employing Joseph to secure Sicily. This effort was frustrated by Collingwood and Sir Sidney Smith (see below), and even Fox soon exhausted his patience with Napoleon’s machinations. At any rate Fox’s death on 13 September, and subsequent replacement by Lord Howick (Earl Grey), reduced the probability of successful peace negotiations to a small margin.[25]

 

Pörträt_Kaiser_Franz_I_von_Österreich

In August 1806 Francis dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and became Francis I, Emperor of Austria

Napoleon’s next target was the Holy Roman Empire, towards the control of which Talleyrand concluded the treaty of Saint-Cloud on 19 July, prelude to the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine.[26] The Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, seeing the writing on the wall and worried that Napoleon would soon usurp the title for himself, took the pre-emptive measure on 6 August 1806 of dissolving the Empire and proclaiming that he was now Francis I of Austria.[27]

Napoleon meanwhile consolidated his position by installing his relatives onto the thrones of the conquered territories: Joseph Bonaparte marched to Naples where, by the end of March 1806, he was declared King of the Two Sicilies; Louis Bonaparte was installed as King of Holland on 5 June, and Caroline Bonaparte (Murat’s wife) gained the Grand Duchy of Berg. Napoleon’s sisters, Elise and Pauline, received various parts of Venetia, Istria and Dalmatia.[28] In 1807 Jerome Bonaparte became King of Westphalia.[29]

Herbig, Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich, 1787-1861; Frederick William III (1770-1840), King of Prussia

Frederick William III, King of Prussia, by Wilhelm Herbig, c. 1818

The Prussians soon realized that they would face the same fate as the Austrians and Russians the year before if they did not take action immediately. Napoleon had 160,000 men in six corps, stretched between Baireuth and Coburg, with which he intended to march on Berlin.[30] The Emperor started his advance on October 8th and quickly routed the divisional strength Prussian forces before him. By evening on the 12th Davout’s 3rd Corps was at Naumburg, Lannes’ 5th Corps at Jena and Augereau’s 7th Corps at Kahla, effectively cutting off from Berlin the King’s 50,000 men.[31]

By the 14th Napoleon’s corps were combining at Jena where he now had 95,000 men, with Davout and Bernadotte in position to attack the Prussian left flank at Auerstadt.[32]

 

Jena 1806

Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, 14 October 1806, by Carle Vernet and Jacques Swebach

Having cleared his lines of communication and smashed the Prussians at Jena, Napoleon continued the advance. Davout took Berlin on 25 October, enabling Napoleon to force the various German princes to surrender one by one, with Frederick William agreeing to Napoleon’s draconian terms on 6 November. This led on the 16th of November to the signing of the convention of Charlottenburg that formally took Prussia out of the war.[33] Napoleon imposed the Continental System as arranged by the Berlin Decree of 21 November.[34]

 

slavetrade1

Slave trade abolished, 1807

The British cabinet took the extraordinary measure of abolishing the slave trade by the Slave Trade Act of March 1807, hoping thus to further weaken Franco-Spanish legitimacy by encouraging their colonial populations to revolt, as had Haiti in 1791, or join with the British. Napoleon responded with the Milan Decree of December 1807, collectively an attempt to isolate Britain through imperial tariffs – but enforcing this trade bloc necessitated strict repression of the European nationalities that were under Napoleon’s control.[35]

 

Napoleon berlin

Napoleon enters Berlin, 27 October 1806, by Charles Meynier

The continental system was marginally successful in terms of increasing British deficits by restricting her access to the continental markets of Northern Europe. Exports to that region had been valued at £13.6 million in 1809, but fell to only £5.4 million in 1812, before recovering to £22.9 million in 1814. This decrease in European trade was relative, as total British exports and re-exports in 1800 were valued at £52.4 million, £60.9 million in 1810, £50.8 million in in 1812, and in 1814 at £70.3 million.[36] Thus it can be seen that the Continental System imposed some damage on Britain’s overseas trade in the years before Napoleon’s war with Russia and Britain’s war with America, but ultimately failed to cripple the economy of the United Kingdom.

 

1807, the Turn of Russia

AlexanderI

Portrait of Alexander I, by Carl August Schwerdgeburth, c. 1813

The Russians meanwhile marshalled their forces in Poland, Bennigsen with 60,000 men by mid-November 1806 occupied Warsaw and Buxhowden’s 40,000 were moving to join him.[37] Napoleon marched to confront them on 25 November, the Russians withdrew, and Murat entered Warsaw on the 28th, where Napoleon joined him on 18 December.

 

Kamensky

Marshal Kamenskoi (Mikhail Kamensky)

Marshal Kamenskoi (Mikhail Kamensky) assumed command of the united Russian army. Napoleon advanced with his army of 120,000 foot and 25,000 horse, but the Russians withdrew, and on the 26th Lannes engaged Benningsen at Pultusk, while Davout and Augereau drove the Russians from Golymin, with Kamenskoi withdrawing to Novgorod.[38] Campaigning in the winter conditions was arduous and at the beginning of 1807 Napoleon returned to Warsaw while his corps laid siege to Danzig, 

Bennigsen

Count Levin August Bennigsen, by George Heitman and Thomas Wright

Bennigsen replaced Kamenskoi as Russian C-in-C, and on 15 January he marshalled his army at Biala. Bennigsen’s intention was to secure Konigsberg, where King Frederick William was then located, and then to march on Danzig and raise the siege. This was an error, as Napoleon quickly realized he could once again cross the Allies’ lines of communication and execute a repeat of his Jena maneuver.

Eylau02

Russian and French deployments before Eylau, from T. A. Dodge, Napoleon, vol. II (1909)

Napoleon’s intention, before taking command of the vanguard, was to have Soult, Ney, Davout, Murat, Augereau, and Bessieres variously surround the Russians before destroying them with a frontal attack.[39] Napoleon marched from Warsaw on 30 January with 75,000, while despatching orders for Ney and Bernadotte to join him with another 34,000.[40] Bennigsen luckily intercepted some of Napoleon’s orders intended for Bernadotte and realized his danger,[41] immediately ordering a concentration at Allenstein, he discovered to his surprise Soult and Murat already there. Benningsen marched north, trying to cross the Alle, but was blocked by the shadowing French. With the French corps closing in Bennigsen now began a series of retreats while Napoleon hastened to turn the Russian flank and attack their rear.

 

Eylau

Battle of Eylau, Bennigsen check’s Napoleon’s advance, 7 February 1807, by Giuseppe-Pietro Bagetti

The French closed in on February 6th, fighting some small engagements, and at last forced Bennigsen, with 126 battalions and 195 squadrons (75,000-80,000 men) to fight on the 7th at Eylau, where Soult was waiting, having stormed that place with the bayonet while the rest of the French army closed in. Although the Russians outnumbered the French, and possessed far more artillery, Napoleon’s corps were more mobile and their commanders fully understood their roles in the operational plan: while Murat, Augereau, and Soult held the centre at Eylau with 36,000 men, Davout would then march up on the right flank with 18,000, while Ney took the left flank with 15,000.[42] Bennigsen began shelling Eylau on the 8th, but was unaware of his danger as the French flanks arrived, with Davout intending to cut-off the Russian retreat.[43]

Heavy snow fall now obscured the battlefield, and by dawn on the 9th Napoleon had fought Bennigsen only to a draw, the arrival of the Prussians under L’Estocq amidst the poor weather deflecting Davout’s flank attack.[44] What had at first seemed like a another Jena devolved into a terrible attrition battle, Napoleon’s first serious check: there were 40,000 casualties left in the snow, the Grand Armee having suffered between 20,000 and 25,000 killed and wounded to the Russians’ 11,000, with another 2,500 prisoners destined for French prisons – still, Napoleon held the field after the slaughter and so the Russians withdrew to Konigsberg.[45]

 

Eylau02

Napoleon after Eylau, 9 February 1807, by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse

The carnage at Eylau had been a serious wakeup call for Napoleon, who promptly despatched General Bertrand to meet with Frederick William and try to arrange a peace settlement.[46] Napoleon’s corps required all spring to regain their strength, but then Danzig, which had been under siege since 11 March, surrendered on the 27th of May, and at last this enabled Napoleon time to mass against Bennigsen’s base at Konigsberg.[47]

 

Davout02Davout

Louis-Nicolas Davout, perhaps Napoleon’s ablest commander, as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1792 by Alexis-Nicolas Perignon, c. 1834, and Marshal Davout by Pierre Gautherot

Bennigsen took the offensive at once, departing Konigsberg on 5 June with his 50,000 men, but was badly outnumbered by Napoleon, who began once again to concentrate his corps against Bennigsen’s lines. Bennigsen brushed aside Ney’s corps, but soon found himself facing Napoleon’s combined army and so withdrew to his entrenchments at Heilsberg.[48] Here Napoleon’s plan of attack for 10 June was to have Murat, Soult and Lannes pin the Russians, while Ney, Davout and Mortier cut off Bennigsen’s retreat.[49]

Napoleon visited Murat and Soult’s headquarters that afternoon, and in the evening began to develop a frontal attack despite this being strictly contrary to the orders he had given his marshals. The result was a strong repulse of both Murat and Soult.[50] Despite this setback the turning movement continued to develop onto the 11th; Bennigsen realized that Davout was about to turn his flank and he withdrew from Heilsberg that night, reaching Friedland on the 13th.[51]

 

Friedland

Battle of Friedland, showing Bennigsen being squeezed back against the Alle river

 

Friedland01

Napoleon commanding at Friedland, 14 June 1807, by Carle Vernet

There on the morning of the 14th Lannes’ corps encountered the Russians first, but Napoleon  arrived at noon (having camped the night before at Eylau, site of the bloody winter battle only five months earlier), to support the 35,000 already engaged with another 50,000, pressing his attack before Bennigsen could bring his combined Russo-Prussian force of 90,000 into action.[52] Napoleon stove in Bagration’s corps after which the Russians collapsed, scrambling to get back across the river.[53]

Friedland

Battle of Friedland, 14 June 1807, by Simeon Fort

The result was 15,000 Russian casualties to 7,500 French, and Bennigsen’s withdrawal to the Niemen, whither Alexander I asked Napoleon for a truce. The following negotiations culminated on 7 July 1807 with the Treaty of Tilsit.[54] This agreement between French Emperor and Russian Czar took the Russians out of the war, dismantled the Fourth Coalition, and left the British isolated. As Kissinger later phrased it: Napoleon arrived at Tilsit “to complete the division of the world.”[55]

 

The Treaty of Tilsit

After defeating Count von Bennigsen on 14 June, Napoleon and Czar Alexander I met in the middle of the Neman River to sign the Treaty of Tilsit, 7 July 1807

 

Neman River

Alexander I and Napoleon meeting on the Neman River, by Francois-Louis Couche

 

As 1808 dawned the Napoleonic Empire was at its height. Despite Napoleon’s control over the European continent, he did not possess the naval power to confront Britain. The Royal Navy thus continued its long-term naval blockade and began to recapture the various Franco-Spanish overseas colonies.

Europe1807

Europe in July 1807, after the Treaty of Tilsit

 

The War at Sea Renewed, 1805 – 1808

On 13/14 December 1805, when Admiral Cornwallis’ blockading force withdrew to Torbay for the winter, two French squadrons escaped Brest. The first, under Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Willaumez, made for the Cape of Good Hope and the South Atlantic, while the second, under Vice Admiral Corentine de Leissegues, sailed for the West Indies with orders to land 1,000 men at San Domingo and then intercept merchant traffic off Jamaica.[56] At the Admiralty this development was recognized as the transition point: Napoleon’s naval strategy had ceased to revolve around invasion through main action and instead became a prolonged guerre de course.

northwind

Prevailing winds in the North Atlantic

 

Cornwallis

Rear Admiral of the Blue William Cornwallis, c. February 1802

 

Brest Squadrons

The Brest squadrons, commanded by Vice Admiral Corentin Leissegues and Rear Admiral Jean Baptiste Willaumez, escaped Cornwallis’ Channel blockade on 13 December 1805

warren

Vice Admiral Sir John Warren, c. August 1800

Warren and Strachan

Vice Admiral Warren and Rear Admiral Strachan’s squadrons

Vice Admiral Sir John Warren, newly promoted on 5 November 1805, and Sir Richard Strachan, likewise promoted to Rear Admiral, were despatched on December 24th with orders to intercept the Brest squadrons and ensure they were not allowed to take prizes amongst Britain’s lucrative West Indian and South American trade.[57] Warren, in his flagship Foudroyant (80, Captain John C. White), with six of the line, sailed south after Willaumez early in January 1806, but could not locate his quarry.

 

Dianna

38-gun fifth rate (1794), HMS Diana 

Having been joined by Captain Sir Harry Neale in HMS London (98), Warren shifted his flag and on the 13th of March, while they were cruising off the Cape Verde Islands, Foudroyant and the 38-gun frigate Amazon of Captain William Parker, took the 74 or 80-gun Marengo, Rear Admiral Linois’ flagship, along with the frigate Belle Poule (40). Linois had been in the process of returning from the East Indies, where he had been displaced by Rear Admiral Edward Pellew’s efforts.[58]

 

Battle_of_13_March_1806

Vice Admiral Warren’s London (98, Captain Sir Harry Neale), with Amazon (38, Captain William Parker) and Foudroyant (80, Captain John Chambers White) takes Linois’ Marengo and Belle Poule (40) on 13 March 1806

After returning to Spithead with his prizes Warren was ordered to resume the search for Willaumez’ squadron. Again Warren was unable to locate it in North American waters during 1806. In October 1807 Warren was promoted to C-in-C North America.[59] Strachan, for his part, had no more luck, having arrived at Barbados early in August 1806, but had in fact passed not more than 60 miles from Willaumez on the night of the 18th.[60]

 

Sir Samuel Hood

Engraving of Sir Samuel Hood, c. November 1806, after losing his right arm in the September action.

On 25 September 1806 Commodore Samuel Hood, flying his flag in the Centaur (74) and with Monarch, Mars, and three other warships, captured a squadron of five French warships, including four French 40-gun frigates, which had been heading from Rochefort to the West Indies.[61] Hood lost his right arm to a musket ball during the action. Lauded as a naval hero, Hood accompanied Lord Gambier in the Copenhagen expedition in 1807.[62] A similar success story was that of Captain Cochrane in the Imperieuse (40) who, between 13 December 1806 and 7 January 1807, captured or destroyed 15 French ships.[63]

735131.a

Hood’s action against the Rochefort Squadron, 25 September 1806, engraving by John Heaviside Clark

 

bevan

HMS Leopard detains USS Chesapeake, 21 June 1807, by Irwin John Bevan

Here we must briefly mention the Leopard-Chesapeake incident, a significant development in the prelude to the intervention of the United States in 1812: On 21 June 1807 the 50-gun HMS Leopard, captained by Salusbury Humphreys, intercepted the 38-gun USS Chesapeake with orders to recover deserters known to be aboard.[64] Chesapeake refused to allow a search and so Leopard fired broadsides at the American warship until it surrendered. Four sailors were taken off the frigate, but only one proved to be a Briton; this despite there being 2,500 British seamen serving in the American merchant marine: a major diplomatic embarrassment for the British government that dramatically weakened relations between the two nations.[65]

 

The West Indies and the Battle of San Domingo, 6 February 1806

Duckworth 1809

Admiral Sir John Duckworth, c. 1809-1810 by William Beechey

The other side of the Brest squadron’s story revolved around the command of Admiral Sir John Duckworth who, after Trafalgar, had been ordered by Collingwood to blockade Cadiz. On Christmas Day 1805 Duckworth encountered Leissengues’ squadron and chased him to the West Indies.[66] Duckworth detached Powerful (74) on January 2nd to join Rear Admiral Pellew in the East Indies, and then steered for Barbados where he arrived on the 12th.

 

sandomingo

Duckworth’s Cadiz blockade squadron in the chase against Leissengues’ six of the line.

The next week Duckworth was joined by Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane in the Northumberland (74) and Captain Pym in the Atlas (74). Duckworth at first had no intelligence regarding Leissengues’ deployments and thus intended to re-cross the Atlantic and return to his blockade station, but on February 1st the carronade sloop Kingfisher informed him of French warships near San Domingo. Acting on this intelligence Duckworth made sail for San Domingo and on February 5th arrived at the eastern end of the island. There he was joined by the 36-gun frigate Magicienne, bearing intelligence that further confirmed the reports of nearby French warships. On the morning of the 6th Duckworth sailed for the harbour of San Domingo where his frigates identified Leissengues’ squadron, in fact anchored and deploying troops ashore since 20 January.[67]

 

Barbados2

Barbados

John Pitt’s sketchbook of British warships and merchants at Barbados (including the 98-gun Temeraire)

Leissengues immediately realized the danger and at 7:30 am slipped anchors. Duckworth, who had six of the line, mainly cruisers, and two frigates plus his carronade sloops, was outnumbered by Leissengues’ nine warships, including three frigates.

 

SanDominiogomap

Chart of Battle of San Domingo from J. Davey, In Nelson’s Wake

 

Battle of Havana by Serres

The Battle of San Domingo, 6 February 1806, by Nicholas Pocock

In the action that followed Duckworth split his squadron into two columns, with a third frigate group cutting off the French escape route, and engaged the French line in two attacks. At the front of the line Duckworth’s flagship Superb engaged the Alexandre at 10:10 am, while the Northumberland (74) engaged the Imperial, the latter mounting 120 or 130 guns, and ultimately held off three RN warships for nearly two hours. Duckworth’s division was sustaining heavy casualties but as planned Rear Admiral Thomas Louis came up leading his division in the Canopus (80) and poured in fire against the French line.[68] This movement swung the battle in Duckworth’s favour, and at 11:30 am Leissengues in Imperial attempted to steer away, only to run aground ten minutes later.

SLR0568

SLR0568

80-gun second rate HMS Canopus, French capture from the Nile

 

boats2

Loss of the Indiaman Bangalore (1802), by Thoomas Tegg

In the event Duckworth captured one 80, two 74s, and forced the Imperial and the Diomede (72) to wreck themselves ashore, and they were subsequently burned. The French frigates and a corvette escaped. The British suffered 64 (or 74) killed and 264 or 294 wounded, the French suffered between 500-760 killed and wounded.[69] Duckworth for his part had justified his movements, although he likely would have faced recrimination had he returned home empty-handed, having abandoned his station in the pursuit.[70] Vice Admiral de Leissegues, for his part, in fact escaped the destruction of his squadron and later returned to Europe.

 

Caribbean

Caribbean theatre of operations

Rear Admiral Willaumez continued to evade the RN and sailed for the Cape of Good Hope. There he learned of Commodore Home Popham’s success (see below), preventing him from taking any action and so sailed for South America but eventually concentrating at Martinique on June 24th, before departing on 1 July for Montserrat.[71] Willaumez was then spotted on the 6th off Tortola by Rear Admiral Cochrane, whom Duckworth had detached after San Domingo to observe Martinique, but as he was then preparing to escort a merchant convoy, and as Cochrane’s four of the line were outnumbered by Willaumez’s six, with a convoy of 280 merchants to protect, pursuit was impossible.[72]

F8855 002

HMS Superb (74), built 1760

Willaumez, who had Jerome Bonaparte with him, did not wait around to confront Cochrane and instead made for Jamaica to intercept merchant traffic there, in the process seizing a number of prizes. Jerome in the Veteran (74), for whatever reason, made an ill-advised sortie out of the Caribbean and eventually returned to France. Willaumez was compelled to search north for Napoleon’s youngest brother, failed to locate him, and towards the end of August returned to the Caribbean where he docked at Havana.[73] Willaumez ultimately dispersed his squadron, and his ships variously met their fates along the American seaboard, although the Foudroyant made it back to Brest in February 1807.[74]

 

James Richard Dacres, Esqr, Vice Admiral of the Red (PAD3166) Artist/Maker R. Page after Robert Bowyer

Vice Admiral James Dacres, C-in-C Jamaica, by Robert Bowyer, R. Page and Joyce Gold, 31 October 1811

Operations in the Caribbean continued late in 1806: St. Thomas was taken from the Danish on 21 December by Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane and General Bowyer, and St. Croix was quietly occupied on Christmas Day.[75] This series of successes was immediately followed up by the capture of the Dutch island of Curacao. On 29 November 1806 Vice Admiral James Dacres at Jamaica despatched Captain Charles Brisbane in the Arethusa (38) with Latona (38, Captain James Wood), and Anson (44, Captain Charles Lydiard), with orders to join with the Fishguard (38) when they located it, then reconnoitre the island of Curacao to determine if the Dutch there were willing to join the Allies.[76] Brisbane’s squadron reached Aruba on 22 December, collecting the Fishguard next day. Brisbane relied on surprise and intended to force the Dutch to concede at cannon-point. Besides Fort Republiek and Fort Amsterdam, the latter with 60 cannon, there was a Dutch 36-gun frigate, a 22-gun corvette, and two armed schooners in the harbour.[77]

 

brisbane

Captain Sir Charles Brisbane, knighted for the capture of Curacao, engraving by William Greatbach from drawing by James Northcote, c. 1837

 

Curacoa

The capture of Curacao, 1 January 1807 by Thomas Whitcomb

Arethusa was flying a flag of truce when Brisbane led the squadron into the harbour at 5 am on 1 January 1807. The Dutch wisely ignored the flag and opened fire. The Fishguard at the rear of the line ran ground, and at 6:15 am Brisbane opened fire and moved in alongside the Dutch frigate before Brisbane himself led the boarding action that captured it. Latona and Anson took the Dutch corvette. Brisbane followed up this coup by leading the shore party that stormed Fort Amsterdam at 7:30 am. Afterwards the seaman and officers returned to their ships and engaged Fort Republiek, silencing it by 10 am. At noon the island’s governor, M. Pierre Jean Changuion, surrendered. The British had lost three killed and 14 wounded, while the Dutch suffered nearly 200 casualties, a testament to the value of surprise and swift execution.[78]

 

The East Indies

Squadrons

Disposition of British squadrons in January 1807, from Christopher Hall, British Strategy in the Napoleonic War, 1803-15 (1999)

Rear Admiral Edward Pellew was appointed C-in-C East Indies in April 1804, and thither he departed that July in the Culloden. For political reasons related to Pellew’s defence of Addington’s ministry, Henry Dundas, Lord Melville, who superseded St. Vincent at the Admiralty, decided to split Pellew’s command in half, with Rear Admiral Thomas Troubridge taking the eastern half. Troubridge departed England on 27 April 1805 in the Blenheim (74). This was a situation guaranteed to produce confusion and the results were far from optimal.[79]

French Indiaman

French East Indiaman of 1764, 900 tons, 20-25 guns

 

Troubridge was escorting a convoy of 11 merchants when, on 6 August 1805, after departing Madagascar, he fell in with Admiral Linois in the Marengo, who however declined to engage, but as we have seen was captured in March the following year by Vice Admiral Warren. Troubridge rendezvoused with Pellew’s squadron at Madras on 22 August and Pellew, ignoring Troubridge’s orders to take half of the East Indies squadron under his command, simply added Troubridge to his existing squadron – to the latter’s outrage.[80]

 

Dance

PU5677

The BEIC trade from the factory at Canton was exposed to French interception, as Admiral Linois had attempted in the Malacca Strait on 14/15 February 1804. Linois with Marengo (74), Belle Poule (40), and Semillante, plus the corvettes Berceau and Aventurier engaged Captain Nathanial Dance’s convoy of 39 ships, who, with great pluck, turned the tables on Linois and chased him off. Paintings by William Daniell & Thomas Sutherland, September 1804

 

Indiaman

Large Indiaman, Scaleby Castle (1798), 1,237 tons, 26 18-pdrs

Pellew intended to have Troubridge convoy the China trade, a vital mission given Linois’ presence off Sumatra and the lack of any escort for the BEIC ships in those waters. Indeed, Linois brought five captured BEIC ships into Mauritius between 1804-6, but eventually exhausted his supplies and was thus intercepted and captured on 13 March 1806 by Warren off the Canaries while returning to France.[81] Troubridge, for his part, felt that he was being shuttled off to an unimportant command by Pellew and was so upset that he preferred to stay behind at Penang in the sloop Rattlesnake, presumably sour grapes. The disconnect between Pellew and Troubridge was equalized somewhat on 9 November when Troubridge was promoted to Rear Admiral of the White, the same rank as Pellew, but the situation in London shifted rapidly following the death of Pitt and the return to power of the Whigs under the Talents ministry indicated a change in policy.

02

Edward Pellew as Captain in 1797, painted by Thomas Lawrence, also engraving by Thomas Lawrence

 

Troubridge

Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge, engraving based on drawing by Sir William Beechey

As such Pellew ultimately came out on top and in April 1806 orders were despatched to make Troubridge C-in-C Cape of Good Hope, following on Commodore Popham’s operation (see below). These orders did not arrive until January 1807 and Troubridge then departed from Madras on 12 January in the aged Blenheim (90) with the Java (36), a Dutch prize, and the brig Harrier (18). Tragically Troubridge’s squadron was caught in a storm early in February off Madagascar, with the Blenheim and Java foundering with all hands.[82] Harrier returned to Madras and informed Pellew, who sent Troubridge’s son in the Greyhound to search, the French at Mauritius even offering assistance, but nothing was ever heard from Troubridge’s lost squadron.

 

Weyth

Illustration by N. C. Wyeth for the 1911 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Pellew for his part had his eye on the island of Java, and in June 1807 despatched from Madras Captain Peter Rainier in the Caroline (36) with Commander Fleetwood Pellew, Sir Edward’s son, in the Psyche (36), to observe the the harbour of Griessee where he suspected two Dutch 68-gun ships were located.[83]

pellew2

Nicholas Pocock’s drawing of Captain Fleetwood Pellew of the Psyche engaging two Dutch frigates at Samarang roadstead, Java, 31 August 1807

Captain Pellew in fact discovered from a prize secured on 30 August that these Dutch warships were present at the harbour of Samarang, but were not in sailing condition. The next morning Pellew despatched Lt. Lambert Kersteman and acting Lt. Charles Sullivan in Psyche’s boats to enter the roadstead. There they found a number of merchants, including the armed merchantmen Resolutie and Ceres, plus the corvette Scipio (24). Psyche’s boatcrew captured an armed schooner and a merchant brig, both of which they burned, while Psyche chased the other merchants and Scipio to ground, the Dutch frigates then surrendering one by one and were taken as prizes.[84]

 

PellewSquadronJava

Rear Admiral Pellew’s squadron for the capture of the Dutch ships at Griessee (Surabaya), Java, 5/6 December 1807

Suitably reinforced, Rear Admiral Pellew sailed to Java and on 5 December and demanded the surrender of the warships at Griessee (Surabaya), an ultimatum that was refused. The next day Pellew sailed in with the Culloden (74) and Powerful (74), defeating a small 12-gun fort. The Rear Admiral compelled the local authorities to acquiesce to his terms, although the senior Dutch officer, Captain Cowell, had already scuttled his ships including the Revolutie (68), Pluto (68), the hulk Kortenaar (68), and two transports.[85] Thus, by the beginning of 1808, the Dutch naval presence in the East Indies had been terminated, if not all its various colonies yet captured.

 

The South African Expedition

southwind

Prevailing winds in the South Atlantic

SouthAfrica

South Africa and Mauritius, control points on merchant routes from India and China

Cape Town belonged to the Dutch but had been taken in 1801 and then returned in the peace of 1803. With the Netherlands now under Napoleonic occupation the capture of Cape Town once again became a priority. Between August – September 1805 an expedition was outfitted to retake Cape Town, commanded by Commodore Sir Home Riggs Popham and carrying 5,000 troops under Major General Sir David Baird.[86] Popham, flying his flag from the 64-gun Diadem, sailed south from San Salvador on 26 November and on 4 January 1806 anchored at Robben Island, Table Bay,  before proceeding to land Baird’s men over the course of the 6th and 7th. The Leda (38), Encounter (14) and Protector (12) carried out a bombardment and landed men to clear the enemy from the area of Blauwberg Bay (Bloubergstrand) while the main landing was underway.[87]

 

Popham1783

Home Riggs Popham as a 21 year old Lieutenant in 1783

Baird

Lieutenant General Sir David Baird, c. 1814 by Thomas Hodgetts

On January 8th the expeditionary force marched towards Cape Town and defeated a Dutch defensive force under Lt. General J. W. Janssens, inflicting 700 casualties and sustaining 15 KIA and 189 WIA. The capital was quickly secured when the Dutch capitulated on the 10th, with Popham and Baird capturing 113 brass and 343 iron cannon. Added to the spoils was the 40-gun French frigate Volontaire, captured on 4 March when it approached the British squadron thinking them Dutch – although the Dutch had burnt their own 68-gun ship Bato on 13 January to prevent capture.[88] With this singular triumph under his belt, the amphibious enthusiast Popham next prepared an expedition to cross the Atlantic and take Buenos Aires: the ambitious objective was to capture all of Spanish South America.

 

popham1806

Commodore Popham’s squadron for the Cape of Good Hope operationSLR0534

1,375-ton 64-gun (1774) third rate

F9204 002

 940-ton 38-gun (1780) frigate

 

The Capture of Buenos Aires: The South American Expedition of 1806

South AmericaSouth America in 1806, organized into conglomerated Spanish and Portuguese Viceroyalties.

 

Popham 1807

Commodore Sir Home Riggs Popham, c. 1807 by Anthony Cardon, copied from Mather Brown;

beresfordWilliam

Major General Williams Carr Beresford

Popham sailed from South Africa on 14 April 1806 with one of Baird’s regiments, 1,200 men from the 71st Regiment under Major General William Beresford, plus an attached Royal Marine battalion of 435.[89] With his flag in the Narcissus Popham made haste for Flores to gather intelligence, arriving there on 8 June, followed by the rest of the squadron and its transports five days later. While the Diadem blockaded Montevideo and Raisonnable and Diomede held the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, Popham with the transports worked their way up the river, arriving off Point Quilmes, 12 miles from Buenos Aires, on 25 June. The task force was put ashore that night and in the morning General Beresford brushed aside the Spanish garrison of 2,000. A capitulation agreement was negotiated on 28 June and signed on 2 July by the governor Don Josef de La Quintana, Viceroy of the Rio de la Plata: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia had been seized.[90]

 

Charles_Stirling

montevido

The relief squadron under Rear Admiral Charles Stirling

Popham and Beresford’s triumph was short lived however as 2,000 Argentinians under the command of French general Santiago Liniers retook Buenos Aires between 10-12 August (the British suffering 48 KIA and 107 WIA) and then imprisoned the rest of the garrison, including Major General Beresford.[91] A relief expedition under Rear Admiral Charles Stirling, with Brigadier General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, arrived on 3 December and Popham was sent back to England in disgrace. On 3 February Stirling and Auchmuty captured Montevideo with the loss of 192 killed, 421 wounded and eight missing. Upon returning to England on 20 February Popham was immediately arrested and tried for court martial, although in the event receiving only a sever reprimand and his rank being reduce from Commodore to Captain.[92] A fateful decision as we shall see.

 

murray

Rear Admiral George Murray

whitelocke

Lieutenant General John Whitelocke, engraving by James Hopwood, based on drawing by Edward Hastings, March 1808

In May Auchmuty was superseded by Brigadier General Crauford who brought 5,000 reinforcements, a figure further reinforced by the arrival of Lt. General John Whitelocke and Rear Admiral George Murray in the Polyphemus (64) on 15 June. The army went ashore at Buenos Aires on 28 June and launched an attack against the city on 5 July. Although they carried the city the cost of 2,500 casualties was excessive. Whitelocke agreed thereafter to evacuate the entire operation and the adventure was terminated as the Talent’s ministry collapsed. Whitelocke was later dismissed from service.[93]

 

Collingwood in the Mediterranean

Collingwood in 1807

Baron Collingwood in 1807, copy by Henry Howard from painting by Giuseppe Politi

In the spring of 1806 Napoleon moved to consolidate his position in Italy, in particular by reducing Ferdinand of Naples. Sicily provided supplies to Britain’s Mediterranean naval base at Malta, much as Reunion supplied Isle de France at Mauritius, and both islands were needed to assemble and victual expeditions, as was done in Egypt and at the Dardanelles.[94]

Smith

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, by Edward Ball, March 1803

Unable to prevent the loss of Naples, but before the end of March when Napoleon’s forces overran that theatre, the Allies’ mixed Anglo-Russian force of 10,000 was withdrawn to Sicily and Ferdinand himself was evacuated by HMS Excellent.[95] Collingwood, hoping to create some problems for the French, detached Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, an exceptional intelligence officer, to take command of the small squadron of five of the line and two or three frigates then assembling at Messina. Sidney Smith arrived there on 21 April and from then until the middle of May Smith’s squadron was engaged assisting the Neapolitans: operations that included the capture of the island of Capri on 11 May, a successful action that was followed by the landing at Calabria of Major General John Stuart with between 4,800 – 5,200 men on the night of 30 June / 1 July.[96]

 

Capri

The Island of Capri, by William Wyllie

Calabria

View of Calabria in the Straits of Messina, by William Wyllie

John Stuart

Major General John Stuart, landed with 4,800 at Calabria, 1 July 1806

Stuart’s forces routed 7,000 French troops in a sharp action on 4 July near the village of Maida, suffering only 45 killed and 280 wounded, but capturing or killing the majority of the French forces, perhaps capturing as many as 4,000.[97] Although one biographer considers the action largely the success of his subordinates, General Stuart was  nevertheless promptly knighted and awarded a life pension of £1,000.[98] This minor success however could not change the strategic situation in Naples ,as Gaeta fell to the French on 18 July and the English were at last forced to withdraw to Sicily.[99]

 

The Naval War in the Baltic & the Capture of Copenhagen, 1807

Duke of POrtland 2

William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, Prime Minister 1807-1809, copy by John Powell of Joshua Reynold, c. 1782

Canning 1806

George Canning, Secretary for War

By the summer of 1806 Napoleon’s naval potential was 45 French and Spanish warships spread across his Atlantic and Mediterranean ports. He expected another six Dutch and eight French warships to be ready soon from Antwerp, Flushing and Texel, plus perhaps another 11 from Sweden and 16 from Denmark, not to mention the 20 Russian warships at Reval and Kronstadt. The Baltic therefore was liable to become a critical theatre of the war, at precisely the time Napoleon would be campaigning in Germany. To pre-empt Napoleon’s movements in this direction Secretary for War George Canning and Foreign Secretary Viscount Castlereagh determined on 19 July to present an ultimatum to the Danes insisting that they hand over their fleet to the British. When this was predictably rejected an expedition was organized to land troops as part of a combined naval bombardment of Copenhagen with the goal of capturing the Danish fleet and stores.[100]

Castlereagh 1809

Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh, the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, Foreign Secretary in Cavendish’s government

 

The Bombardment of Copenhagen

Baron Gambier

Admiral James Gambier, Baron Gambier, by William Beechey & William Holl, print c. 1833

 

The Admiralty wasted no time and Admiral James Gambier’s fleet of 22 warships, with 19,000 troops under Lieutenant General Lord Cathcart, sailed from Yarmouth on 26 July.[101] Gambier’s Captain of the Fleet, despite his court martial in March having concluded only the month prior, was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Home Popham.[102] The Dutch capital was defended in the same fashion as it had been during Nelson’s attack in 1801: 174 guns, more than two dozen mortars, plus 5,500 soldiers, another 4,000 sailors and 3,600 militia, the dismasted Mars (64), five mobile frigates, and 30 gunboats.[103] The rest of the Danish fleet, about 30 warships of various sizes, were to be blockaded inside the port of Copenhagen itself.

 

Copenhagen

Admiral Gambier’s fleet for the Copenhagen expedition

Cathcart

William Cathcart, Earl Cathcart, 1807, by John Hoppner and Henry Meyer

 

Landings commenced on 16 August, the Danish gunboats offered a token resistance on the 17th, and Gambier established his blockade line on the 18th.[104] A small flotilla of bomb vessels, commanded by Captain Peter Puget in the Goliath (74), prepared to attack the Danish defences, but on the morning of the 23rd the Danes launched a spoiling attack with their gunboats, successfully driving off the British, yet the Danes were in turn driven back by cannon fire from the English beachhead.[105]

 

D4083_3

Speedwell-type 142 ton sloop of 12 guns, c. 1752

 

puget

Captain Puget’s bomb flotilla, plus the third-rate Goliath during the attack on 23 August 1807

Trial 1790 fighting vessel

A 1790 pattern 123-ton shallow draft 12 cannon gunboat of the bomb vessel-type 

Repeated sorties to disrupt the British siege works on the 25th, 26th and 27th failed, but the effort was renewed on the 31st. On 1 September the British issued a proclamation to General Peyman commanding the Copenhagen garrison to surrender, but he refused and thus Copenhagen was bombarded with a terrific fire the following evening. The cannonade continued for 48 hours, Peyman finally requesting terms on the 5th and then capitulating on the 7th.[106]

 

Copenhagen2

'Admiral Gambier's Action off Copenhagen, 1807"

PAH8055   Bombardement de Copenhague, du 2 au 5 Septembr 1807. Vue considerable Flotte anglaise commendee par l'Admiral Gambier 

Views of the Bombardment of Copenhagen, by Christian William Eckersberg, c. 1807, Thomas Buttersworth, c. 1813, and 2-5 September 1807 by Jean Laurent Rugendas

The entire Danish fleet at Copenhagen was captured (of which four battleships were eventually added to the Royal Navy), including the various gunboats – as many as 52 smaller vessels and 15 frigates – plus 20,000 tons of naval stores. Gambier returned the fleet to England on October 21st, and was promptly elevated to the peerage as Baron Gambier. The cost for the British was primarily diplomatic, as they had of course attacked what had been a neutral country, thus handing Napoleon a propaganda coup if nothing else. The immediate consequence was to prevent Napoleon from gaining the Danish fleet in the aftermath of Tilsit.[107]

Copenhagen3

List of Danish warships surrendered at Copenhagen

Copenhagen

Breaking up Danish naval stores and ship construction

 

The Dardanelles and Alexandria, February – March 1807

The Ottoman Empire was also in play during 1806/7, as the Sultan was gravitating towards Napoleon’s sphere. On 2 November 1806 Collingwood despatched Rear Admiral Thomas Louis in Canopus (80), along with Thunderer (74), Standard (64), Active (38) and Nautilus (18) to reconnoitre the Dardanelles, where they arrived and anchored at Tenedos on the 21st. During December Rear Admiral Louis had recourse to collect the British ambassador who had separately departed Constantinople aboard the Endymion, a prudent decision given the deterioration of relations with the Sultan.[108]

Tenedos

Galipoli

Sketch of the site of Troy, looking towards Tenedos, & Pacha’s Point lighthouse at Gallipoli, July-October 1853 by George Mends

 

On 22 November the British government sent orders to Collingwood to despatch an expeditionary squadron to anchor off Constantinople and pressure the Porte not to intervene against British interests (the Ottoman Empire declared war against Russia in December 1806).[109] Collingwood did not receive these orders until 12 January 1807, but upon receipt immediately determined upon Vice Admiral Duckworth for the mission. Duckworth departed on the 15th aboard the Royal George (100). His orders were to consult with Mr. Arbuthnot, the British ambassador who was then waiting with Rear Admiral Louis at Tenedos and, if the situation called for it, to sail to Constantinople and induce the Turks to hand over their fleet.[110]

 

Rear Admiral Louis2

Rear Admiral Thomas Louis of the White, d. 17 May 1807

Duckworth3

Vice Admiral Duckworth, by Giovanni Vendramini, December 1809

duckworthdardanlles

The Dardanelles expeditionary force

Ship model of Queen Charlotte (1789) Warship, first rate, 100 guns, made circa 1789 Three quarter bow SLR0555

2,278-ton 100-gun first rate Queen Charlotte (1789), the same generation as HMS Royal George (1788

From the start Duckworth was concerned about the operation and could only have become more worried when at 9 pm on 14 February a fire broke out aboard HMS Ajax, quickly got out of hand, causing the ship to drift ashore at Tenedos where it exploded at 5 am the following morning, with the loss of 252 out of 633 officers and men.[111]

Dardanelles

1811 chart of the Dardanelles, reproduced in William Laird Clowes, History of the Royal Navy, volume V, p. 223

Duckworth2

Duckworth’s anchorage at the entrance of the Dardanelles, 14 February 1807, by Nicholas Pocock

 

Despite this setback Duckworth was on the move again on the morning of the 19th, his force divided into two divisions, with Rear Admiral Sir Sidney Smith commanding the Pompee, Thunderer, Standard and Active, and carrying orders to defeat the Turkish squadron (one 64, one 40, two 36s, one 32, one 22 corvette, one 18 corvette and two 10 corvettes, two brigs and three gunboats) at Point Pesquies, modern Nara Burnu, if they attempted to intervene.[112]

Sidney Smith

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith

The Turkish positions were largely obsolete medieval fortifications and were little threat so long as the British were able to suppress them with naval cannonade. The Turks started firing as soon as Duckworth entered the peninsula, the British suffering six killed and 51 wounded. At about 10 am the Turkish squadron deployed to engage Duckworth, but they were immediately countered by Sidney Smith, whose division anchored alongside the Turkish line and rapidly reduced them – within thirty minutes all but two of the Turkish warships had surrendered.

Duckworth

Whitecome

Thomas Whitcombe’s paintings of Duckworth’s action on 19 February 1807. 

Dardanelles

Sidney Smith reduces the Turkish fleet.

The Turkish vessels were immediately burned, while landing parties of seamen and Royal Marines secured the Point Pesquies redoubt and spiked the guns at the cost of four killed and 26 wounded.[113] Sidney Smith detached Active as a rear guard and at 5 pm his division hauled in their anchors, setting sail to rejoin Duckworth’s division.

The whole fleet was eight miles from Constantinople by 8 pm on 20 February. The next morning the Endymion was despatched to the city to deliver Mr. Arbuthnot’s declaration – including a 36 hour ultimatum demanding the surrender of the remaining Turkish fleet and its stores.[114] The Porte simply ignored the attempt to deliver the ultimatum, and despite expiration of the original timeline no consequences were imposed. Ambassador Arbuthnot fell sick on the 22nd and the Turks continued to ignore Duckworth’s demands. The essential dilemma for Duckworth was that his goal ultimately was to arrange a peace settlement, not bombard Constantinople, and although there can be no doubt that Duckworth was a fighting Admiral he was perhaps deficient as a diplomat and negotiator.

naraburnu

topography

Nara Burnu today, & modern topography of the straits

Lacking a dedicated landing force it was not clear how Duckworth could have convinced the Turks to concede.[115] At any rate, after a series of further shore skirmishes and failed efforts to force negotiations, on 1 March Duckworth gave up. He weighed anchor around 8:30 am and sailed back towards the Mediterranean where he arrived back at Point Pesquies, retrieved the Active at 5 pm on 2 March, and was underway at 7:30 am the next morning. That afternoon Duckworth was engaged by the Turkish redoubt at Point Pesquies, including 800 lb shot from medieval cannons, and it was not until 11:35 pm that the entire fleet had passed the batteries and exited the Dardanelles, the squadron having sustained a further 26 killed and 130 wounded during this withdrawal.[116] It seems evident that the Dardanelles operation, much like the Gallipoli campaign a century later, should have been delayed until a landing force had been assembled – perhaps as little as a month could have made the difference.[117]

 

Alexandria

Lithograph of Alexandria, c. 1847 by William Delamotte and Charles Chabot

 

The disjointed planning efforts of the Grenville ministry were demonstrated thoroughly when Duckworth arrived back in the Mediterranean and was shortly thereafter joined by eight Russian battleships under Vice Admiral Seniavine, who was eager to try again, an endeavour Duckworth notably refused to attempt. Worse, the landing force Duckworth actually needed had been arranged and despatched on 6 March in 33 transports, but was not destined for the Dardanelles: escorted by Captain Benjamin Hallowell in the Tigre (74), with the Apollo (38) and the Wizard (16), 5,000 troops under Major General Fraser had departed from Messina bound for Alexandria. The task force arrived off Egypt between the 15th and the 19th, with landings taking place on the 17th and the 18th. Aboukir castle was stormed on the 20th and Alexandria surrendered on the 21st. Duckworth arrived on the 22nd. Major General Fraser attempted to take Rosetta by assault but was repulsed with the loss of 400 men – including the Major General himself.[118]

BHC0589

1 April 1809, HMS Mercury (28), Captain Henry Duncan, cut out the French gunboat Leda from Rovigno harbour, south west of Trieste, by William John Huggins

 

The operation lingered on until September when the entire force was withdrawn. Duckworth had already departed in the Royal George for England, leaving behind Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis who died aboard the Canopus on 17 May. The Russians, however, captured Lemnos and Tenedos, defeating a Turkish fleet off Lemnos, until peace was settled by the Treaty of Tilsit and Vice Admiral Seniavine sailed for the strait of Gibraltar, destined, he hoped, for the Baltic. Later in 1808 Collingwood was called away to attempt with diplomacy what Duckworth had failed to achieve with battleships, and successfully convinced the Turks to abandon the war. The Ottoman Empire signed a peace treaty in January 1809.[119]

The 1807 operations against Denmark and Turkey created new enemies. Worse, Napoleon knocked Prussia and Russia out of the war at the battles of Jena and Friedland with the result, as we have seen, of the signing of the treaty of Tilsit on 7 July. Proposed Royal Navy operations against the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean did not materialize, in part the result of the revolt against Napoleon in Spain, leaving the 18,000 men and more than 80 warships garrisoning Jamaica, plus the Leeward and Windward Islands, with little to do. In December Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane did however capture the Danish Caribbean colonies of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. Johns (see above).[120]

 

The Baltic Campaign, 1808

Napoleon’s efforts to diminish Britain’s trade through privateering resulted in the French taking 559 British merchants in 1807.[121]  With the Russian declaration of hostilities on 31 October 1807 the principal theatre of operations for 1808 transitioned to the Baltic, where Britain’s Swedish ally was at risk of attack from the Russians – potentially jeopardizing Britain’s valuable Scandinavian trade.[122]

 

Phipps

Henry Phipps, Baron Mulgrave, First Lord of the Admiralty in Portland’s ministry, 1807-10, engraving by Charles Turner from 1807 drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence, published November 1808

First Lord of the Admiralty the Baron Mulgrave selected Vice Admiral James Saumarez for the Baltic mission. Saumarez was to take a fleet, 12 or 13 sail of the line, and supported by Rear Admirals Hood and Keats, destroy the Russian fleet at Cronstadt.[123] Saumarez and Lt. General Sir John Moore were in the course of preparing this expedition when the Czar pre-empted them by invading Finland.[124]

Saumarez

Vice Admiral James Saumarez, copy of Thomas Phillips portrait, made by Edwin Williams in 1862

 

Moore

Lieutenant General Sir John Moore, by Thomas Lawrence, engraving by Charles Turner, drawn c. 1805, published April 1809

Saumarez departed with Hood on 21 March 1808 for Gothenburg where he would rendezvous with Captain George Parker in the Stately (64), the officer on station there, and then confer with the British envoy at Stockholm regarding the best measures for protecting Sweden from further Russian or French incursion.[125] Ultimately a force of 62 ships, including 16 line of battleships, plus frigates and transports, capable of delivering 10,000 men, was built up and employed blockading the Russians in harbour and protecting merchant trade.[126]

 

Victory

Vice Admiral Saumarez’s flagship during the Baltic campaign of 1808 was HMS Victory, rendered here off Belem Castle, by Thomas Buttersworth in 1797

hms victory

crew

Victory at the Portsmouth historic dockyard in 2020 & Crew composition.

A brief engagement occurred on 22 March when Captain Parker in the Stately with Captain Robert Campbell in the Nassau (64, ex Holstein captured at Copenhagen 1801), having sailed from Gothenburg on the 19th, engaged Denmark’s only remaining ship of the line, the 64 (or 74) gun Prinds Christian Frederik north of Zealand. After a two hour fight the Danish ship surrendered and ran aground. The crew was removed and the ship set afire afterwards.[127]

F9213 003

F9213 004

A merchant brig, 100 tons

Normal trade protection and blockade actions continued until the Russians sortied on 25 August, intent on attacking Stockholm. The Royal Navy in the Baltic was by now divided into several components, and it was Rear Admiral Samuel Hood’s command that spotted the Russian fleet at sea off Hango on the 25th. Hood commanded a combined English and Swedish squadron, although a third of the Swedish seaman were incapacitated with scurvy and therefore of doubtful capacity.[128] Hood made to chase the Russians, who fled, until at 6:45 am on the 26th the Sevolod (or Sewolod, 74), appeared and engaged the British, no doubt hoping to delay them while the rest of the Russians escaped.

 

BHC2779

Sir Samuel Hood, c. 1808-1812

During this action the Implacable (74, Captain Byam Martin) and the Centaur (74, Captain William Webley; flag of Rear Admiral Hood), engaged the Sevolod at pistol shot, and by 8 am captured that ship, with six killed and 26 wounded on Implacable, and 48 killed and 80 wounded on the Sevolod. The approach of the rest of the Russian fleet convinced Hood to withdraw. The unmanned Sevolod crashed ashore at Roggersvick, and the Russians were attempting to float her when Hood returned with his two 74s and at 8 pm Captain Webley in the Centaur engaged the Sevolod close, the latter striking for the second time forty minutes later. Centaur had three killed and 27 wounded, the Sevolod 180 killed and wounded. The Russian warship was then burnt, all of which was action enough to convince the Russians not to attempt the crossing to Stockholm, and they were confined to their base at Roggersvik.[129]

Eagles

To reduce this place Saumarez, on 30 August, arrived with Victory, Mars, Goliath and Africa and maintained the blockade of Roggersvik until October. Although plans were drawn up to launch a fireship attack against the Russian squadron, as was done at the Basque Roads the following year, it was later determined that the Russian harbour defences prevented any such action. Saumarez was compelled to depart with the arrival of winter, and the Russians returned thence to Cronstadt.[130]

Baltic1808

James Saumarez’s squadron for the 1808 Baltic expedition

 

The Baltic squadron continued to intercept French and Danish privateers throughout 1809. On 11 May the Melpomene (38), Captain Peter Parker, located a Danish 6-gun cutter ashore at Huilbo, Jutland. Parker anchored, launched his boats, and then fired broadsides at the cutter until his boats arrived and completed the destruction, this handy operation completed at the cost of only six wounded. Four days later the 18-pdr frigate Tartar (32), under Captain Joseph Baker, chased ashore a small 4-gun privateer of 24 crew near Felixberg, Courland. The frigate’s boats were hoisted out and the diminutive Danish warship easily captured 

peter parker

Captain Peter Parker, by John Hoppner, c. 1808-10

On 7 July 1809 the Implacable (74, Captain Samuel Warren), Melpomene (38 – Parker), and the sloop Prometheus (18, Captain Thomas Forrest), while cruising off the coast of Finland, located a Russian gunboat flotilla of eight vessels at Porcola Point. Bellerophon (74) presently arrived and together 17 boats were assembled under Lieutenant Joseph Hawkey of Implacable, with 270 officers and men. The boat team waited until 9 pm and then rowed in under heavy fire and boarded the Russian flotilla at which point Lt. Hawkey was killed by grape shot, but Lt. Charles Allen took over command and completed the task of capturing the Russian gunboats, with 17 killed and 27 wounded, to the Russian’s 63 killed. A similar action was carried out on 25 July by 17 boats from the Princess Caroline (74), Minotaur (74),Cerberus (32) and the sloop Prometheus (18), against four Russian gunboats and a brig at Fredericksham, gulf of Finland. Once again the crew waited until the evening and then rowed into the anchorage and captured the Russian vessels, at cost of 9 killed and 46 wounded, the Russians losing 28 killed and 59 wounded (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 38, 40-2). 

boats

N. C. Wyeth illustration

Although Sweden was protected for now, ultimately the Baltic campaign failed to prevent the Russians from annexing Finland at the Peace of Frederikshamn, 17 September 1809.[131] Saumarez did however effect the capture of the island of Anholt in May,[132] in addition to his sterling work protecting merchant traffic through the Great Belt strait: between June and December 1809 the Royal Navy escorted 2,210 merchants through those confined Danish waters without loss, however, a Norwegian convoy of 47 was taken by Danish Captain Lorentz Fisker with five brigs during a daring sortie in July 1810.[133] The British position in the Baltic was now tenuous as Sweden was then under Napoleon’s thumb, the Emperor having installed Marshal Bernadotte as monarch in October 1810.[134] He was soon induced to declare war against Britain, and did so in November.

 

The Peninsular Campaign, 1807 – 1809

Penninsula

The Iberian Campaign

On 18 October 1807 Napoleon despatched General Jean Junot, with 25,000 men, to secure French interests in Spain and prevent British intervention in Portugal. Within a month of crossing the Spanish frontier the French forces  were built up to 75,000 in three corps.[135] Junot was soon ordered to secure Lisbon, lest the British intervene, which they were in fact preparing to do.

 

PU3508

Rear Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith by Henry Heath, February 1808

Smith Tagus

 The Tagus expedition, November 1807

Sidney Smith was despatched early in November 1807 with a squadron to the mouth of the Tagus, his flag after the Dardanelles and Egyptian operations now in the new Hibernia (120), [136]

HMS Hibernia, PY0762

HMS Hibernia (120), Sidney Smith’s flagship in 1807-1808

Lord Strangford, the British representative at Lisbon, departed to join Rear Admiral Smith, who was by mid-November blockading Portuguese merchant traffic. Going aboard the Confiance (20), Strangford sailed back to Lisbon on the 27th, under flag of truce, demanding that the Portuguese navy surrender – and if they did so, the blockade would be lifted. The Prince Regent Dom Joao accepted these terms, and on the 29th embarked aboard the Portuguese fleet with Queen Maria II and the rest of the royal family, not to mention the state treasury, for the voyage to Brazil.

John

Dom Joao, the Prince Regent, later John VI of Portugal, painted in 1803 by Domingos Sequeira

Embarkation

The Embarkation of the Portuguese Royal Family, 29 November 1807

 

GrahamMoore

Captain Sir Graham Moore, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1792

Rear Admiral Smith detached Captain Graham Moore’s squadron, including the Marlborough, London, Monarch and Bedford, as escort to Rio de Janeiro. The flight of the royal family was not a moment too soon, as General Junot entered Lisbon on 30 November.[137] The Portuguese fleet of eight of the line and its frigates was turned over to the Royal Navy. As Herbert Richmond observed this operation, in conjunction with Copenhagen, put Napoleon’s net warship losses to no less than 25 capital ships.[138]

SLR0457

F9201 003

24 gun sixth rate circa 1740, & 22 gun sixth rate c. 1725

As an addendum to this series of events, it should be mentioned that after the British squadron arrived at Rio de Janeiro Captain James Yeo in the Confiance (22, 18-pdrs) was detached to sail to Paraguay where he had orders to consult with the governor there regarding the possibility of an attack upon Cayenne, capital of French Guiana. Yeo in fact landed a small contingent of 400 at Cayenne on 7 January 1809 and carried that place within five weeks despite it being garrisoned by 1,200 men and 200 guns. As a result Yeo received the favours of the prince regent of Portugal and was then knighted by George III on 21 June 1810.[139]

wythe2

N. C. Wyeth illustration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Cayenne2

Captain Sir James Yeo captures Cayenne, January 1809: View of Constable Rocks off Cayenne, by T. Conder and Joseph Johnson, 1 December 1791

The other purpose of Rear Admiral Smith off the Portuguese coast was to intercept Vice Admiral Seniavine’s squadron that as we have seen was making for the Baltic after the collapse of the Dardanelles and Alexandrian expeditions, and who Britain was now at war with following the Russian declaration of 31 October. Late in 1807 Smith was reinforced by the arrival of Commodore Peter Halkett in the Ganges (74) who had with him also the Defence (74), Alfred (74) the Ruby (64) and the Agamemnon (64), sailing from Portsmouth on 6 December.[140] While Smith was escorting the Portuguese royals Vice Admiral Seniavine slipped into the Tagus and was there when Smith returned to cruise off Lisbon early in 1808.

CayenneMedal

Medal commemorating the capture of Cayenne, 1809

The Spanish however were engaged in diplomacy with their British counterparts and on 4 July arranged a cessation of hostilities. Rear Admiral Smith maintained his blockade off the Tagus while minor operations continued along the Portuguese coast. Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, who replaced Smith in charge of the Tagus blockade, on September 3rd signed a surrender agreement with Vice Admiral Seniavine by which the Russians conceded to hand over their warships to the British until relations could be normalized – the crews were repatriated.[141]

PX9307

Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, c. 1812 by James Ramsay and Henry Meyer

Tagus Squadron

Russian squadron surrendered at the Tagus, 3 September 1808

The situation in Spain had been evolving rapidly since the summer of 1808. In May a Spanish rebellion against French rule broke out in Madrid, and in July 22,000 men of the occupation army were forced to surrender at Baylen. This disaster isolated Junot in Portugal. In June Foreign Secretary Canning stated his intention to support the Portuguese by landing British troops.[142] There were several contingents that could be utilized for this purpose: 9,000 men in Ireland, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, who had been gathering to relieve the South American expedition, and Sir John Moore’s 10,000 with Saumarez in the Baltic, plus another 10,000 Spanish troops who were operating with Rear Admiral Keats against the Danish.[143]

Junot

Jean-Andoche Junot, Napoleon’s general in Portugal during 1807-8, by Vincent-Nicolas Raverat, c. 1834

 

The first 5,000 of Lt. General Wellesley’s 9,000 strong southern Ireland contingent landed at Corunna on 20 July 1808.[144] On 1 August Lt. General Sir John Moore arrived, having been rerouted from the Baltic, and landed his men to support the Portuguese, bringing the British expeditionary force up to 15,000. With this small army Wellesley defeated General Delaborde’s corps at Rolica on 17 August,[145] and was then engaged by Junot’s 14,000 men at the Battle of Vimeira (Vimeiro) on 21 August, the British having arrived at that place to receive reinforcements in the form of two brigades landed by sea.

Arthur Wellesley

Sir Arthur Wellesley, who made the initial landing in August 1808 and commanded at Vimeiro on the 21st of August, portrait by Robert Holme, c. 1804

 

1024px-Batalha_do_Vimeiro

Battle of Vimeiro (Vimeira), Wellesley defeats Junot

In the aftermath of Vimeria the Convention of Cintra was signed (30 August 1808) securing Portugal for the Allies. Wellesley returned to Dublin while the expedition in Portugal was built up to the maximum of 40,000, now under the overall command of General Hew Dalrymple who was supported by Lt. Generals Harry Burrard and Sir John Moore, although Burrard and Dalrymple were presently cashiered following popular resentment that Vimeira had not been fully exploited.[146] On 24 December Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, recently arrived from the Baltic, landed Major General Beresford’s troops at Madeira where that naval base was being developed into a staging area in preparation for further operations in Portugal and at the Cape.[147] By Christmas 1808 Napoleon was committing 305,000 men to Spain, and occupying Madrid.[148]

 

hew

General Sir Hew Whitefoord Dalrymple, by John Jackson, published by Charles Turner, 1829-31

Moore

Lieutenant General Sir John Moore, portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Moore, who had been left in charge while Wellesley, Dalrymple and Burrard were in London answering to government inquiry, marched into Spain and soon found that Madrid had been occupied by the French. His route of retreat was presently cut off by Marshal Soult, and Moore began a punishing withdrawal that terminated at Corunna on 11 January 1809. With French corps converging on his base Moore began preparing for the evacuation by sea during 16/17 January, but was killed on 16 January when he was hit by cannon shot.[149]

 

Corunna

Battle of Corunna, 16 January 1809. The white dot indicates the location where Sir John Moore was killed

 

Part III

1810

The Fifth Coalition: Napoleon’s Austrian War, Aspern-Essling, Wagram & Naval Operations: The Basque Roads, Walcheren Expedition, Martinique & Guadeloupe, Dutch East Indies, Capture of Mauritius, the Peninsula Campaign

Europe1809

Napoleon expands into Italy, Spain and defeats the Austrians

With Napoleon’s attention split between Germany and Spain Francis was once again encouraged to challenge the French Emperor and on 8 February 1809 resolved on war. Britain was at first hesitant to provide monetary support for this endeavour, but by April had supplied £250,000 in silver, with promises of a further £1,000,000 to come.[150] With most of the French army in Spain, Napoleon’s Army of the Rhine at first amounted to only 60,000-80,000 men, against the far larger Austrian force of 280,000 with 312,000 reserves and 742 guns, spread across the various frontiers. Napoleon recalled his marshals from Spain and despatched Berthier, Lannes, Lefebvre, Bessieres, Davout and Massena to the German front.[151] By 9/10 April Archduke Charles felt his forces ready, and began the march simultaneously into Bavaria and Italy. By this point however Napoleon’s forces had largely assembled.

Archduke Charles

The Archduke Charles, by Thomas Lawrence, c. 1819

 

Abensberg

Eckmuhl

Battle of Abensberg & Eggmuhl (Eckmuhl), 20-24 April 1809. Napoleon’s center attack shatters the Austrians, but leaves Davout’s flank open to Charles’ main force.

Charles marched to Ratisbon and Napoleon arrived at Abensberg on the morning of the 20th. Here Napoleon determined upon attack: Davout would hold the northern flank while Lannes, Lefebvre and Vandamme led the main assault. This initial attack on the 20th lasted only an hour and succeeded in dividing the Austrians, costing them 7,000 casualties and many prisoners compared to the French losses of 3,500.[152] The Archduke Charles withdrew to Ratisbon, with Davout in pursuit, and was soon supported by Lefebvre, while Napoleon persecuted his attack against what he assumed was the larger force.[153] As a result it required a further three days to develop the attack against Charles and turn him from his position at Ratisbon. This sharp success Napoleon hailed as a second Jena and put the Austrians to route intending to clear the path to Vienna, which was once again occupied without resistance on 12 May.

Abensberg

Napoleon at Abensberg, 20 April 1809, by Jean -Baptiste Debret, c. 1810

Abensberg02

Battle of Abensberg, by Felix Storelli

Charles reached Bisamberg on 15 May and drew up his remaining force (95,800 and 264 guns) east of Vienna on the 17th. Napoleon crossed the Danube at the Island of Lobau, and was beginning to deploy on the east bank with his smaller force of 82,000. On 20 May Charles realized he had an opportunity to destroy an isolated component of Napoleon’s army and the following afternoon attacked Massena’s corps as it was holding the French left flank at Aspern, the Austrians deploying 80,000 men and 300 guns against a force less than half that size.[154] The Austrians took Aspern, but the village soon changed hands as French reinforcements came up, and at 8 pm Legrand relieved Molitor who commanded Massena’s most hard-pressed division. To the south the Austrians assaulted Essling all day, but likewise the French held.[155] On the 22nd the Austrians renewed the assault, but despite sustained fighting again failed to repulse the French.

Essling

Battle of Essling, Napoleon’s effort to cross the Danube is checked, resulting in a costly attrition battle

Lannes

Marshal Jean Lannes, mortally wounded at Essling on 22 May 1809, painted by Jean Charles Nicaise Perrin

Aspern

Battle of Aspern-Essling, 21-22 May 1809, by Alexis-Pellegrin-Marie-Vincent Pasquieri

Essling

Napoleon at the Island of Lobau after Essling, 23 May 1809, by Charles Meynier

Charles2

Archduke Charles, victorious after Aspern-Essling, by Johann Peter Krafft

Ultimately Charles fought Napoleon to a draw, the Austrians sustaining 22,000 casualties to the French 19,000.[156] With ammunition nearly exhausted Napoleon withdrew to the Island of Lobau to await reinforcements, which upon arrival increased his force level to between 178,000-180,000.[157] Napoleon established pontoon bridges over the Danube in preparation for attacking Charles, whose army had now been reinforced to between 130,000-140,000 men and 414 guns.[158] Here both sides watched each other for the month of June, and on the night of 4/5 July Napoleon shuttled his corps across the Danube.[159]

 

WagramFrance01

French and Austrian corps strengths before Wagram

 

Wagram

Wagram. Napoleon halts Archduke Charles’ counteroffensive and claims victory in the Austrian campaign

Wagram03

Opening of Wagram, 5 July 1809, by Alexis-Pellegrin-Marie-Vincent Pasquieri

wagram01

Napoleon contemplating deployments at Wagram, night of 5 July 1809, by Adolphe-Eugene-Gabriel Roehen.

wagram04

Wagram05

Views of Wagram, 6 July 1809, by  Simeon Fort

Wagram02

Napoleon commanding at Wagram, 6 July 1809, by Carle Vernet, c. 1835-6

 

Napoleon launched his attack about 7 pm the evening of the 5th, with Eugene, Bernadotte and Oudinot leading against Charles’ position at Wagram. This attack was repulsed and Napoleon spent the night planning his next movements.[160] Both sides launched attacks early the following morning and soon a general engagement was underway. By 10 am the Austrians seemed to have the advantage,[161] but Napoleon hurled in his reinforcements and arrested the Austrian advance. Davout and Eugene defeated the Austrian left flank and the Austrians at last withdrew, after both sides had sustained a further 35,000 casualties – the exhausted French were unable to pursue.[162]

Napolon gifts

Napoleon receives gifts from Alexander I, c. 1809 by Charles-Etienne Motte

Napoleon was content to have won the largest battle in history thus far (320,000 men involved), although demonstrating again the transition from his earlier rapid maneuver victories into what clearly resembled the colossal artillery dominated attritional battles he had fought in 1807, and indeed would become the model for the future. The Peace of Schonbrunn was eventually settled on 14 October, with Austria paying an indemnity of 85 million francs and the army being restricted to a maximum of 150,000 men, thus allowing Napoleon to refocus on Spain.[163] Next, Talleyrand and Napoleon solidified the Emperor’s position as the premier European monarch by arranging his marriage into the Habsburg royal family.

parma

Jean Baptiste Guerin and Francois Gerard’s painting of Marie Louise (1791-1847), who was 19 when she married forty-one year old Napoleon Bonaparte.

Wedding

Wedding of Napoleon and Marie Louise, 2 April 1810 at the Louvre, painted by Georges Rouget. Josephine had consented to a divorce earlier that year. On 20 March 1811 the new Empress gave birth to Napoleon II (d. 1832 in Vienna)

 

Amphibious Expeditions: The Basque Roads, the Walcheren Expedition, War in Spain and Portugal

RN 1809

Establishment of the Royal Navy in 1809

By 1809 the Royal Navy had 127 line of battleships in commission, with another 100 building, the total RN establishment including all seaworthy schooners, sloops, frigates and cruisers was close to 700.[164] As Britain tightened its blockade of war supply to the continent, Napoleon was forced by want of tax revenue and as a result of the high cost of his Austrian campaign, to authorize the issuing of licenses for merchant trade, followed by the institution of a high tariff with the Trianon Decree of 5 August 1810.[165] Combined with opening the Spanish and Portuguese markets to the Allies, these measures resulted in the gradual undermining of the continental system.[166]

F8877 003

The Caesar (80), Rear Admiral Strachan’s flagship in 1805-8

Napoleon had been expanding his naval capacity for several years: at Cherbourg the harbour was being deepened to make it a port accessible not only to frigates but also ships of the line, and the port of Spezzia at Venice was also developing. Allemand’s flight from Rochefort was a successful attempt to unite with the French squadrons being assembled around the Mediterranean. There were other squadrons at Cadiz (five sail and a frigate), Toulon (five sail, with three or four building), one 74 at Genoa, and two 74s building at Venice.[167]

Collingwood

Collingwood remained C-in-C Mediterranean until his death early in 1810, engraving by Charles Turner

 

The Rochefort Squadron and the Basque Roads

Gambier1813

Baron Gambier is appointed C-in-C Channel Fleet in March 1808, having completed the highly successful Copenhagen operation, portrait drawn here in 1813 by Joseph Slater

Admiral Gambier, newly minted Baron Gambier, was in March 1808 appointed by the once again Tory ministry of William Cavendish, Duke of Portland, to the position of Channel Fleet C-in-C, replacing Rear Admiral Strachan.[168] Gambier’s mission for the spring of 1809 would be to carry off the Brest squadron, eight sail of the line and four frigates. Isle d’Aix was the point of entrance for Rochefort, and from there Rear Admiral Allemand sailed in January with six of the line and additional frigates, eluding Strachan’s blockade.[169]

Allamend

Rear Admiral Zacharia Jacques Theodose Allemand

Rochefort had been blockaded by Rear Admiral Richard Strachan in Caesar (80) since year end 1807. While Strachan was away victualing in January 1808, Admiral Allemand took his squadron, consisting of Majestuenx (120), Ajax (74), Patriote (74), Lion (74), Jemmapes (74), Magnanime (74), Suffren (74), plus a frigate and a brig, out to sea, chasing off the 32-gun frigate and 18-gun brig that Strachan had left behind to observe.[170]

 

Thornbroughport

Vice Admiral Sir Edward Thornbrough, by Alexander Huey and William Fry, c. 1818 when Admiral Thornbrough was C-in-C Portsmouth

Thornbrough

Vice Admiral Edward Thornbrough and Rear Admiral Richard Strachan’s combined squadron at Palermo, during the chase of Rear Admiral Zacharia Allemand’s Rochefort squadron

On 23 January the 14-gun brig Attack eventually located Strachan with news of the Rochefort squadron’s sailing. Strachan correctly predicted Allemand was heading for the Mediterranean, where in fact Napoleon had sent him as part of a theoretical invasion of Sicily,[171] and so sailed around Gibraltar, arriving at Palermo on 21 February where he joined with Vice Admiral Edward Thornbrough in the Royal Sovereign (100).[172] Allemand for his part had already rounded Gibraltar on 26 January, and then sailed for Toulon to join with Vice Admiral Ganteaume on 6 February.[173] Ganteaume sailed from Toulon the next day with a force destined to reinforce Corfu, where he cruised during the rest of February and March.

 

Ganteaume

Vice Admiral Honore Joseph Antoine Ganteaume, who eluded Thornbrough and Collingwood in the Mediterranean during February – March 1809

During this time Ganteaume was constantly under observation from British frigates, and Collingwood was being informed at Syracuse. Ganteaume was back at Toulon by 10 April. Collingwood’s reputation was somewhat tarnished by this, although he had narrowly missed being informed of the French maneuvers on several occasions, and had in fact been made aware of developments on 2 March when he joined with Thornbrough and Strachan, but despite sailing around Sicily and into the Adriatic, did not encounter Ganteaume.

 

Rochefort

The Basque Roads, approach to Rochefort

 

With Strachan at sea he was replaced as Channel Fleet C-in-C by Baron Gambier. Strachan’s next command was blockading the Dutch coast, where he commanded the Walcheren Expedition (see below).[174] Collingwood was not informed that the French had already sailed back to Toulon until 28 April, and when he reached that place on 3 May Ganteaume no longer had any ideas about leaving harbour.[175] Collingwood detached Thornbrough to maintain the blockade of Toulon, while he sailed to Spain to assist in that theatre, notably employing his diplomatic connections with the pretender government to secure the Spanish fleet at Cadiz for the Allies. RN frigate commanders including Lord Cochrane in the Imperieuse, based at Mahon on the island of Minorca raided the Spanish Mediterranean coast and seized enemy trade. Captain Thomas Lord Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, was the godson of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane and a darling of the Duke of Portland’s government, having been elected MP for Westminster in 1807.

GambierBasque Roads

Lord Gambier’s fleet for the Basque Roads operation

 

The Basque Roads, April 1809

In February 1809 the Aix Roads anchorage for the Rochefort squadron had been built up to 11 ships of the line by gradually combing the squadrons at Brest and Lorient. Effecting this combination was both dangerous and difficult as each port was variously blockaded by elements of Lord Gambier’s Channel Fleet. Rear Admiral Willaumez, who was at Brest with nine of the line, three frigates, and three corvettes, was to escape from that port, drive off the British blockade squadron at Lorient to free Commodore Troude who had three of the line and five frigates, and together sail for Aix Road where he would unite with the Rochefort squadron, another three of the line, the Calcutta troopship, and several frigates. Once this force was collected he was to sail to Martinique and intercept British forces known to be operating there.[176]

 

Aix ROads2

Aix Roads anchorage from William Clowes, volume V, p. 260-1

Willaumez, in his flagship Ocean (120) with two 80s and five 74s plus two 40 gun frigates, a brig and a schooner, sailed from Brest early in the morning on 21 February 1809. As his line cleared the Passage du Raz they were spotted by HMS Revenge (74, Captain Charles Paget), who then made sail for Lorient to communicate with the nearest British squadron.[177] Captain John Beresford’s Lorient blockaded squadron included the Theseus (74), Triumph (74), and Valiant (74). At 3 pm Captain Pagent signaled to Captain Beresford aboard Theseus, and Beresford made to intercept Willaumez, spotting the French line at about 4:30 pm.[178]

Willaumez

Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste-Philibert Willaumez

 

Will's Squad

Rear Admiral Willaumez’ Brest squadron

The next morning Willaumez despatched his schooner to Lorient to inform Commodore Troude that he was now free to sail, while he continued to distract Beresford’s squadron. Beresford chased Willaumez towards Isle d’Yeu, and that night was spotted by the Amethyst (36) a frigate attached to the Rochefort blockade squadron under Rear Admiral Robert Stopford (Caesar, 80, Defiance, 74, Donegal, 74). Amethyst fired a rocket to warn Stopford who then sailed and chased Willaumez until the French squadron entered the Basque Roads on the morning of February 24th.

 

Stopford

Rear Admiral Robert Stopford, painted by Frederick Say c. 1840

Stopford detached Naiad (38) to inform Lord Gambier, but immediately after this Naiad located three of Commodore Troude’s frigates (Italienne, Calypso, Cybele – all 40 guns, under Commodore Pierre Jurien) from Lorient that had sailed to join Willaumez while Troude himself waited for the tide to come in so he could move out his heavier ships.[179] When Jurien spotted Stopford’s ships he realized he was cut-off from joining Willaumez at Rochefort, and thus put in at the Sables d’Olonne batteries. Stopford chased Jurien under the guns and engaged him at 11 am. Within 50 minutes he had set Italienne and Cybele on fire; the French frigates then cut their cables and ran aground, followed right after by Calypso. Total British casualties for this brief action were three killed and 31 wounded, as against 24 French killed and 51 wounded.[180] Willaumez had essentially achieved his purpose, joining with Commodore Gilbert Faure’s Rochefort squadron, although he lost the Jean Bart (74) as it grounded off Isle Madame.

 

Cochrane

Captain Lord Cochrane

 

Lord Gambier arrived on 7 March and took up the blockade, anchoring in the Basque Road on the 17th.[181] Earlier, on March 11th, Gambier proposed in a letter to Lord Mulgrave at the Admiralty that fireships would likely be useful in an attack against the Aix road. First Lord Mulgrave for his part decided as early as the 7th to carry out a fireship attack and on the 19th wrote back to Gambier that twelve fireships and three explosion vessels were being got ready, along with Congreve’s rocket ships, and five bomb vessels.[182] Captain Cochrane meanwhile arrived at Portsmouth on the 19th of March and reached London on the 21st to meet with Mulgrave who immediately appointed him to carry out the fireship attack at Aix road. Mulgrave informed Gambier that he was sending Cochrane for this purpose in a letter of the 25th, Cochrane sailing in the Imperieuse and delivering the letter to Gambier on 3 April.[183] Cochrane and Gambier began to assemble explosion vessels from what materials were on hand, and on 6 April Congreve arrived in the Aetna followed by twelve fireships on the 10th.[184]

 

Aixroads

The anchorage at Aix Roads, showing positions of French warships on 11/12 April 1809, and Cochrane leading his squadron in the Imperieuse at the upper left.

Meanwhile on 17 March Vice Admiral Allemand superseded Rear Admiral Willaumez as C-in-C of the Rochefort squadron. Allemand’s ships were moored in three parallel lines, two lines of heavy ships and a third of frigates, beyond which lay a long line-boom. The anchorage was covered by 30 guns, mostly on the Isle d’Aix along with 2,000 French conscripts.[185] Allemand had seen the fireships arrive and was under no illusions regarding Gambier’s intentions. Gambier deployed the frigates, bomb and rocket vessels on the 11th, the brigs Redpole and Lyra acted as light vessels, and Gambier kept his heavy ships at anchor about six miles to the north west, behind the fireship screen. At 8:30 pm the fireships and explosion vessels cut their cables and drifted towards the French anchorage. Cochrane himself was aboard one of the explosion vessels containing 1,500 barrels of powder, 350 shells, and some thousands of grenades.[186]

 

Fireships attack

Fireship attack (the Mediator) on the night of 11 April 1809, by Robert Dodd

Two of the explosion vessels blew up on the line-boom itself, but the explosion vessel Mediator (Commander Wooldridge) broke through and exploded amongst the French warships, although doing no real damage. Wooldridge was badly burned and several of his skeleton crew were killed in the process.[187] The fireships mixed in amongst the French frigates, which now cut their cables to escape, and as result the French line was thrown into confusion; the Regulus collided with the Tourville and the Ocean ran around before in turn being rammed by the Tonnerre and Patriote. Only the Foudroyant and the Cassard remained mobile.

 

fireships

Cochrane returned to the Imperieuse and at 5:48 am the morning of the 12th signaled Caledonia to engage and exploit the confusion, then repeated this signal until 9:30 am. Gambier did not actually weigh anchor until 10:45 am, sailing to within six miles of the Aix anchorage whither he re-anchored at 11:30 am and called his captains to a meeting. Gambier was clearly in no hurry, but did send in his bomb vessels supported by the Valiant, Bellona and Revenge, plus all his frigates.[188] The Foudroyant and Cassard, seeing this squadron approaching, now cut their cables and sailed for the entrance to the Charente river delta, where they both ran aground, followed by the other French battleships as they were re-floated by the rising tide and then grounded again by the river mud.

 

Basque Roads

Cochrane engaging the French at the Basque Roads, 12-13 April 1809.

Cochrane, at 1 pm, determined to engage personally and at 2 pm Gambier sent him the Indefatigable with the rest of the frigates and small vessels, then at 2:30 ordered the Valiant and Revenge to follow, although it took until 3:20 pm for these ships to reach Cochrane due to light winds. Cochrane was nevertheless presently joined by the Aigle, Emerald, Unicorn, Valiant, Revenge, Pallas, and Beagle. At 5:30 they were joined by the Theseus, and at about this time the French Varsovie and Aquilon surrendered.[189] Thirty minutes later the Tonnerre’s crew set their ship afire and abandoned it, that warship later exploding at 7:30. The Calcutta troop ship, set aflame by a British boarding party, blew up at 8:30 pm. At this point the Ocean, Cassard, Regulus, Jemmapes, Tourville and Indienne were still engaged but grounded. Rear Admiral Stopford had meanwhile been preparing additional fireships, and at 5:30 pm along with some boats converted into rocket vessels, escorted by the Caesar, maneuvered into position to continue the attack. Stopford’s Caesar however grounded at 7:40 pm – as did the Valiant, Indefatigable and Cochrane’s Imperieuse.[190]

During the early morning of the 13th this confusing situation was somewhat relieved as the Caesar was got free and Captain John Bligh, commanding the fireships, had his men set fire to the captured Varsovie and Aquilon, prompting the French to abandon the Tourville and set it afire in turn, although that warship failed to burn. At 5 am Stopford signaled for Bligh to continue his attack, and the Valiant, Theseus, Revenge, Indefatigable, Unicorn, Aigle and Emerald closed in towards the Little Basque road. Cochrane for his part was intent on attacking the grounded Ocean, having assembled the bombs vessels, the frigate Pallas, the Beagle, and several brigs for this purpose.[191]

Basque Roads Orbat

British and French orders of battle at the Basque Roads, April 1809

At 8 am Cochrane launched his attack on the Charente delta, but his frigates could not close due to the restrictive river draft. His shallow draft flotilla of ten brigs and bomb vessels, soon joined by three more brigs and the two rocket boats, however, began to engage the Ocean, Regulus and Indienne. This went on for ten hours, the gun brigs being unable to seriously damage the grounded ships of the line, while the French were unable to maneuver to respond, until the tide began to fall and the flotilla was forced to withdraw. Gambier meanwhile sent letters to Cochrane commending him on the attack, but ordering him to return to the flagship.[192]

 

brig

384 ton 18-gun RN brig, c. 1810

Gambier seemed to believe Cochrane’s role in the operation was finished, and on the 15th he sent him back to England with his dispatches. Gambier instead placed Captain George Wolfe of the Aigle in charge of the gunboats, who carried on the attack on the 14th but with little effect. Although the French burnt the Indienne, they eventually worked their other ships up the river and into relative safety, where they were then joined by the Regulus on the 29th after further futile attempts to destroy that ship with bombs.[193] In sum, the British had destroyed five sail and rendered the Rochefort squadron militarily irrelevant.

 

BHC2751

Rear Admiral Eliab Harvey, a fierce critic of Cochrane and Gambier, painted by Lemuel Francis Abbott c. 1806

Rear Admiral Eliab Harvey, Gambier’s second in command then aboard the Caledonia, was so aggravated by Cochrane’s role in the attack that he later launched a public campaign to denounce Gambier, whom he held responsible, and as a result Harvey was court martialled and dismissed from the navy.[194]

Cochrane likewise turned against Gambier, criticising him for failing to destroy the entire Rochefort squadron. Gambier demanded a court martial, which was duly arranged on 26 July 1809 and convened until August 4th. In the ensuing deliberations the admiral was honourably acquitted.[195] Cochrane presented evidence from captured French charts that suggested Gambier had over-estimated the strength of the French fortifications, while Gambier in turn pointed to the strategic imperative of preserving the Channel Fleet for future operations.[196] The consensus seems to be that Gambier certainly could have done more, although at increased risk and with little to gain.[197] Cochrane, for his part in planning and executing this sterling example of irregular warfare, was later knighted, although his career in the Royal Navy was near its end.[198]

 

The Walcheren Expedition

Walcheren5

Walcheren3

Middleburg and Walcheren , in 1745, and in the 19th century.

 

Missiessy

Rear Admiral Edouard-Thomas de Burgues, de Missiessy, painted by Alexandre-Charles Debacq

The other great maritime operation of 1809, and the most complex amphibious operation of the war, was the Walcheren expedition. This operation had the purpose of directly attacking the French fleet in the Scheldt, by the summer of 1809 built up to ten 74s under Rear Admiral Missiessy, with another six 80s and four 74s building at Antwerp and Flushing.[199] The actual threat posed by this fleet was relatively marginal, considering the depletion of French naval stores: it was built with green timbers and even then could not be fully manned, in short, an inviting target for the Royal Navy’s expeditionary warfare.[200] By generating a diversion in Holland furthermore it was hoped by the British government to distract Napoleon from the Austrian campaign then underway.[201]

 

Pitt2

Lieutenant General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, engraving by Valentine Green, after 1799 drawing by John Hoppner

Illustrated Battles of the Nineteenth Century. [By Archibald Forbes, Major Arthur Griffiths, and others.]

Sir Eyre Coote, second in command to the Earl of Chatham, engraving by Archibald Forbes, Arthur Griffiths and others.

The audacious combined operation was to be led by Rear Admiral Sir Richard Strachan and Lt. General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham. Once again it was Captain Sir Home Popham tasked with drawing up the plan, and who also acted as Rear Admiral Strachan’s flag captain aboard Venerable, 74.[202]

Walcheren

Julian Corbett’s Organization of the Walcheren Expedition

The landing force consisted of approximately 40,000 troops (29,715 infantry, 8,219 cavalry, 5,434 artillerymen) including divisions under Sir John Hope and Sir Eyre Coote, convoyed in as many as 400 transports and escorted by 264 warships of all kinds: including 35 or 37 battleships, two 50s, three 44s, 23 or 24 frigates, 31 sloops, 5 bomb vessels, 23 brigs, and 120 smaller craft, under the 2nd Baron Gardner.[203] 

 

Gardner

Vice Admiral Lord Alan Gardner, C-in-C Channel Fleet, d. 1 January 1809, painting by William Beechey

Gardner2

Henry Edridge and Antoine Cardon’s engraving of Alan Hyde Gardner, Rear Admiral of the Blue, the 2nd Baron Gardner

Alan Hyde Gardner, age 36, had been promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue on 28 April 1808, and in 1809 inherited the title of Baron Gardner from his late father, Vice Admiral Gardner then C-in-C Channel Fleet, who died on Near Years Day. The younger Rear Admiral Gardner flew his flag in the Bellerophon (74) while blockading the Scheldt.[204]

 

Walcheren chart

Chart of the Walcheren theatre of operations

The plan called for the fleet to land Pitt’s expeditionary force, proceed to destroy the naval arsenal at the Scheldt and capture the French fleet there, and then ultimately seize Antwerp and Flushing. The armada departed the morning of 28 July, marked the shoals and sounded the Roompot channel that night, and the following morning the transports were on station. 

Keats

Vice Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats, painted by John Jackson c. 1817

 

Sir John Hope

Sir John Hope, engraving by Giovanni Vendramini after drawing by William Craig, February 1811

Due to poor weather the landings, covered by Rear Admiral William Otway and Admiral Richard Keats, did not begin until 4:30 pm on the 30th: Sir Eyre Coote’s division was in the event the first ashore, followed by Sir John Hope’s division at Zuid Beveland. Some of the bomb vessels moved into position that evening and on the 31st opened bombardment on Veere, although Dutch counter-fire soon sunk three of the gunboats.[205] A naval brigade landed on the 30th under Captain Charles Richardson of the Caesar added to the bombardment of Veere, and that place surrendered on August 1st. General Coote meanwhile quickly surrounded Middleburg and forced its surrender, thus securing Walcheren.[206]

 

middleburg

Middleburg and Walcheren in the 17th century

Fort Rammekens was taken on 3 August and Flushing invested, but despite the siege General Rousseau was able to reinforce his garrison up to 7,000 men.[207] Flushing was blockaded on the 6th, and on the 9th Captain Popham took some smaller ships up the West Schelde to sound Baerlandt channel. On the 11th Captain William Stuart took a frigate squadron through the channel between Flushing and Cadzand.[208]

 

Walcheren Landing

Landing at Walcheren, engraving by A. Lutz after Johannes Jelgerhuis, 1809

Walcheren Expedition

The Bombardment of Flushing during the Walcheren Expedition of 1809

During all of this action Rear Admiral Missiessy, pressured by Admiral Keats, gradually moved his squadron up the channel and for good measure behind a line-boom.  On 13 August a group of bomb vessels commanded by Captain George Cockburn of the Belleisle (74) opened the bombardment of Flushing, to which weight of cannon the following day was added Rear Admiral Strachan and Rear Admiral Gardner’s fire as their heavy ships moved into position. On 15 August, after 31 hours of shelling, the French at Flushing offered to surrender and that place was captured the next day.[209]

The islands of Schouwen and Duijveland surrendered to Admiral Keats and Lieutenant General the Earl of Rosslyn the next day.[210] Chatham left 10,000 men to hold Walcheren, while he prepared for the next phase of operations leading up to the intended capture of Antwerp.

 

Captain Stuart's squadron

The squadron Captain William Stuart commanded off Flushing

Strachan's squadron

Rear Admiral Strachan and Rear Admiral Gardner’s squadron during the bombardment of Flushing

The French had 35,000 men defending Antwerp. The British however were,  from the 19th of August onwards, as William Clowes puts it, being “daily reduced by malarious sickness” which ultimately incapacitated about 14,000 men, of whom about 3,500 died.[211] Chatham, demoralized at reports of the strength of the Antwerp defences, called a council of war on August 26th, and thereupon determined to abandon the campaign – leaving for England on 14 September – although Walcheren was not finally evacuated until December 23rd.[212]

Walcheren4

British withdrawal from Walcheren, engraving by Francois Anne David after Charles Monnet

Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval, painted here by George Francis Joseph, succeeded the Duke of Portland, who died on 4 October 1809. Lord Spencer was Prime Minister until his assassination on 11 May 1812.

The death of the Duke of Portland on 4 October 1809 ensured that Chatham foisted responsibility for what Hilton describes as “England’s single biggest disaster in the entire war” off on Strachan, a seaman’s admiral considered the equal to, if not superior of, Pellew.[213] The cabinet itself veritably imploded, with Castlereagh challenging Canning to a duel – in which he wounded him with in the thigh – the two antagonists resigning thereafter. The Tory government was thus reconstituted under Spencer Perceval. So much for the Walcheren expedition.

 

The Relief of Barcelona

Honoré_Joseph_Antoine_Ganteaume

The Toulon squadron was commanded by Vice Admiral Honore Ganteaume

While Collingwood was blockading Vice Admiral Ganteaume at Toulon, the Mediterranean C-in-C was not able to prevent detached elements from escaping. One such sortie in April 1809 saw Rear Admiral Francois Baudin escape with five sail, two frigates and sixteen smaller vessels to make for Barcelona in a resupply effort. Successful, Baudin was back at Toulon in May.[214]

George Martin

Rear Admiral Sir George Martin by Charles Landseer

Martin Squadron

Rear Admiral Martin’s squadron during the chase of Rear Admiral Francois Baudin, 23 October 1809

To prevent a repeat effort, Collingwood moved to blockade Barcelona, although he then had only 15 sail of the line against the 15 French and six Russian built up at Toulon. Baudin put to sea again on 21 October with one 80, two 74s, and two 40 gun frigates plus transports and smaller craft.[215] He was spotted by Captain Robert Barrie in the Pomone (38), who hastened to inform Collingwood. Collingwood closed to intercept Baudin while he despatched Rear Admiral George Martin to chase. Baudin attempted to draw off Martin by separating from the transports, a gambit that paid off as the convoy escaped, minus a few brigs which were captured by Captain Barrie.[216] Baudin’s warships however variously fled or ran aground, the Robuste and Lion near Frontignan, and their crews set them afire.

Hallowell

Captain Hallowell’s detached squadron, 31 October 1809

Meanwhile the convoy itself put in at Rosas Bay, and Collingwood soon detached Captain Benjamin Hallowell to destroy it, done on the night of the 31st using their boats to capture or burn every French vessel at anchor. Although costing them 15 killed and 50 wounded, it was worth the price to completely defeat the effort to resupply Barcelona.[217] Ganteaume was then succeeded by Vice Admiral Allemand.[218] Collingwood tragically had been exhausted by his long effort as Mediterranean commander, and died after being granted leave while returning to Britain on February 1810.

 

West Indies, 1809-1810, Martinique & Guadeloupe

Alexander Cochrane

Admiral Alexander Cochrane, engraving by Charles Turner after a drawing by Sir William Beechey, c. 1815-19

 Martinique and Guadeloupe were traditional frigate and privateer bases, where French warships were frequently encountered. The former was garrisoned by 2,400 regulars with an additional 2,500 militia, controlling 290 guns.

Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane, with Lieutenant General Beckwith, were selected to command the Martinique reduction force, Guadeloupe to follow.[219] On 30 January 1809 Major General Frederick Maitland was put ashore at Martinique with 3,000 men landing at Pointe Sainte Luce, and another 6,500 men landing under Lt. General Sir George Prevost at Baie Robert, plus  600 ashore at Cape Solomon.[220]

martinique

The Martinique operation force, from William Clowes, volume V

 

On 22 January the sloop Hazard (18) located the frigate Topaze (40) carrying 1,100 flour barrels bound from Brest for Cayenne, but redirected to the Leeward Islands when Topaze discovered Captain Yeo’s landing at Cayenne underway. Now the frigates Cleopatra (32-gun, 12-pdr, Captain Samuel Pechell) and Jason (38, Captain William Maude) arrived, quickly hounded the Topaze ashore, anchored and then opened a musket-shot cannonade that compelled the French frigate to strike, 12 men were killed and 14 wounded (W. James, Naval History of Great Britain, vol. V, 1859, p. 3/4).

In the face of these sustained amphibious assaults the French retreated to Fort Desaix, while the British bombarded Pigeon Island, capturing that place after 12 hours of shelling and a landing of seamen under Commander George Cockburn.[221] The French on Martinique held out until 24 February, by which time the British had suffered 550 casualties.[222] Rear Admiral Cochrane was promoted Vice Admiral.

Miniature, MNT0089

The next target was Guadeloupe. Captain John Shortland, painted here c. 1807/8 by Robert Field, in the Junon (58), engaged in a sharp action the French frigates Renommee (40) and Clorinde (40), which were under false Spanish colours escorting troops ships to Guadeloupe on 13 December 1809: Shortland had no choice but to burn the Junon to prevent capture.