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Royal Naval Biography/Boger, Edmund

[Post-Captain of 1806.]

This officer first went to sea, as a Midshipman on board the Porcupine 24, commanded by Captain (now Sir George) Martin, in 1789; from which period he was never a single day out of active employment until he came on shore with the rank of Post-Captain, in 1806.

The first action in which Mr. Boger bore a part, was that between the British and French fleets, near Genoa, Mar. 14, 1795, an account of which will be found at p. 340 of our first volume. Immediately after that event he was promoted from Vice-Admiral Hotham’s flag-ship [the Britannia of 100 guns[1]], into the Inconstant frigate, commanded by the late Sir Thomas Francis Freemantle, the friend of Nelson, and his companion in many brilliant enterprises.

In Aug. 1795, the Inconstant was employed co-operating with the Austro-Sardinian forces in an attempt to expel the French army from the Genoese territory; and on the 26th of that month, Lieutenant Boger assisted at the capture of la Resolu corvette, of 10 guns and 87 men, three other armed vessels, and seven transports, five of which were laden with shells, ammunition, provisions, and wine, for the use of the enemy’s troops at Allasio, and other places in the vicinity of Vado. Two barks laden with gunpowder and provisions were also destroyed at the same time by the boats of the Inconstant and other ships composing Nelson’s squadron.

On the 20th April, 1796, the Inconstant, then off Tunis, captured l’Unité French national ship, of 34 guns and 218 men. About this period, our affairs in the Mediterranean began to wear a most unpromising aspect. Genoa, no longer able to preserve even the appearance of neutrality, was obliged to shut her ports against the enemies of France; and the near approach of the republican army to Leghorn (in June) rendered the speedy removal of the British residents and their property an object of immediate importance. The performance of this service fell to the lot of the Inconstant; and such strenuous exertions were made by her officers and crew, assisted by those of two or three store-ships, that twenty-three sail of English merchantmen and fourteen Tuscan vessels were loaded with valuable effects, and removed out of the mole; every person who wished to quit the city was safely embarked, and a large supply of bullocks for the fleet brought off, in less than 48 hours from the commencement of their arduous undertaking. Scarcely was this important service accomplished, when General Buonaparte entered Leghorn, manned the batteries, and opened a heavy fire on the Inconstant; but fortunately she escaped without sustaining any loss or damage, as did also the only merchant vessel that was then remaining with her in the roads. The property thus rescued from the enemy’s grasp, was safely escorted to St. Fiorenzo bay, by a small squadron under the orders of Captain Lord Garlies, now Earl of Galloway.

A few days after the flight of our merchants from Leghorn, Lieutenant Boger assisted in taking possession of Porto Ferrajo, which measure was adopted in consequence of Buonaparte’s unjustifiable occupation of Tuscany, and the probability that our forces would soon find it necessary to withdraw from that General’s native island[2].

We subsequently find Lieutenant Boger commanding a detachment of men landed to assist at the siege of Castiglione; the manner in which he conducted himself whilst employed on that service will be seen by the following extract from Captain Freemantle’s official letter to Admiral Sir John Jervis:

“Colonel (David Douglas) Wemyss[3], who commanded the expedition,” (sent to open a communication with the Austrian army under Marshal Wurmser, and to oblige the French to fall back upon Leghorn) “speaks in the highest pruse of Lieutenant Boger, of the Inconstant, who commanded the marines and seamen landed, and who pointed every gun that was fired, with great judgment and precision; and I feel happy in the opportunity it affords me of bearing testimony to the assiduity and attention shewn by him, by Mr. Allen the Master, Mr. Jolliffe, Midshipman, aud all the seamen and marines who were employed on shore.”

Lieutenant Boger was afterwards appointed to the Triton frigate, commanded by Captain (now Sir John) Gore, under whom he served for about two years. During the Egyptian campaign,we find him commanding the Cruélle cutter, in which vessel he covered the right flank of the boats employed landing our troops in Aboukir bay. Mar. 8, 1801[4]; and was afterwards very actively employed until the fall of Alexandria, when he received a gold medal from the Grand Seignior, in common with numerous other officers.

Immediately after his return from the Mediterranean, Lieutenant Boger proceeded to Jamaica and joined the flag-ship of Sir John T. Duckworth, by whom he was made a Commander, into the Echo sloop of war, Jan. 27, 1803. Early in 1804, Captain Boger escorted nine merchant ships from the bay of Honduras to Jamaica Whem running through the gulph of Florida, he received intelligence from a vessel which had recently left the Havannah, that 2000 troops were on the eve of sailing from thence, destined against New Providence. At day-light the following morning, he discovered the enemy’s armament; about six miles to windward, and soon ascertained that the transports were protected by a French 20-gun corvette and two national brigs, each mounting 18 guns, the Havannah then distant only four miles. Perceiving the corvette bear up, and being sensible that his charge could only be preserved by stratagem, Captain Boger ordered the convoy to close round the largest and most warlike looking ship, which he had previously authorized to bear a pendant, and then immediately made sail towards the enemy, who were thereby led to believe that he was sent to reconnoitre. This ruse-de-guerre had the desired effect; the French commodore lost no time in rejoining his consorts, and the whole retreated with such precipitation, that the Echo not only saved her own valuable charge, but was also enabled to cut off and capture a transport, with 300 troops on board, which prize she conducted in triumph to Port-Royal.

Having noticed Captain Boger’s spirited and judicious conduct on this occasion, it may not be amiss to state, that the enemy were afterwards completely dispersed during a heavy gale of wind; that the corvette, l’Africaine, being obliged to run for Charlestown, was wrecked on the bar, and every one of her crew perished; that one of the 18-gun brigs went on shore at the back of the Bahamas, where she was also totally lost; and that the other vessels composing the armament were never afterwards heard of, from which circumstance it may reasonably be inferred that they likewise met with an equally disastrous fate.

On the 1st Oct. 1804, Captain Boger captured the Hazard French privateer, of 16 guns and 50 men. His next appointment was to le Brave 74, one of the prizes taker by Sir John T. Duckworth’s squadron, off St. Domingo, in Feb. 1806. The manner in which that ship was lost will be seen by reference to p. 594, of our first volume.

Captain Boger was advanced to post rank. May 22, 1606. In 1809, he commanded the Norge 74, on the Lisbon station; and in 1815, he was appointed flag-captain to Sir Edward Thornbrough, commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, where he continued during the customary period of three years, successively commanding the Prince 98, and Queen Charlotte of 108 guns.

Agents.– Messrs. Goode and Clarke.