Royal Naval Biography/Hallowell Carew, Benjamin


SIR BENJAMIN HALLOWELL,

Vice-Admiral of the White; Commander-in-Chief in the River Medway; Knight Commander of the most honorable Military Order of the Bath, and of the Neapolitan Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit.

This officer is the son of a gentleman who was the last surviving Commissioner of the American Board of Customs, and died at York, in Upper Canada, Mar. 28, 1799. He entered the naval service at an early age, and was made a Lieutenant by Sir Samuel (afterwards Viscount) Hood, on the 31st. Aug. 1781, five days previous to the partial action off the Chesapeake; on which occasion his ship, the Alcide, of 74 guns, commanded by the late Admiral Sir Charles Thompson, sustained a loss of 2 men killed and 18 wounded.

Soon after this event, Sir Samuel Hood returned with his squadron to the West Indies[1], and Lieutenant Hallowell was subsequently removed into the Alfred, another 74, which ship formed part of the fleet under the orders of the same gallant Commander, when attacked by the Count de Grasse at the anchorage in Basseterre Road, Jan. 25 and 26, 1782[2]. In the battle of the 9th, and glorious victory of the 12th April following, the Alfred was attached to the red division of Sir George Rodney’s fleet, and sustained a loss of 12 men killed, and 40 wounded, including among the former her Captain, W. Bayne, to whose memory a monument was afterwards erected by order of parliament[3]. She also formed part of the detachment sent under Sir Samuel Hood in pursuit of the flying enemy, and was consequently present at the capture of two ships of the line, one frigate, and a corvette, in the Mona Passage, on the 19th of the same month.

During the ensuing peace, Lieutenant Hallowell served first in the Falcon sloop, on the Leeward Island station; and subsequently in the Barfleur with Lord Hood, at Porstmouth, until his promotion to the rank of Commander, which took place about 1791. In that and the suceeding year, we find him in the Scorpion sloop, stationed on the coast of Africa. At the commencement of the war with the French republic, he was appointed to the Camel store-ship, and proceeded in her to the Mediterranean, where he was removed into the Robust, of 74 guns, the former commander of that ship[4] having been appointed Governor of Fort la Malgue, on the occupation of Toulon by the allied forces. His post commission bears date Aug. 30, 1793.

In our memoirs of Viscount Keith, Lord Radstock, and Sir W. Sidney Smith, we have already related the proceedings of the British up to the 19th December, on which day the French fleet and arsenal at Toulon were destroyed, and the town evacuated, a measure rendered necessary by the immense assemblage of republicans in its vicinity. The embarkation of the troops on that occasion was successfully performed under the able management of the former officer, aided by the skilful and zealous conduct of Captains Hallowell and Matthews. Subsequent to this event the British fleet anchored in Hieres Bay; and Captain Elphinstone having resumed the command of the Robust, Captain Hallowell was appointed to the Courageux, of the same force, in which ship he continued until the return of Captain Waldegrave from England, whither he had been sent with despatches from Toulon.

We next find our officer serving at the siege of Bastia, on which occasion he had the charge of the flotilla appointed to watch the mouth of the harbour, and was employed on that fatiguing service every night until the garrison surrendered[5]. He subsequently served on shore as a volunteer, under the orders of the heroic Nelson, at the reduction of Calvi; and upon Captain Cunningham being sent to England with the despatches relative to the final subjugation of Corsica, he was appointed to succeed that officer in the command of the Lowestoffe frigate. In Lord Hood’s official account of the capture of Calvi, we find the following just tribute of applause paid to his merits: “The journal I herewith transmit from Captain Nelson, who had the command of the seamen, will shew the daily occurrences of the siege; and whose unremitting zeal and exertion I cannot sufficiently applaud, or that of Captain Hallowell, who took it by turns to command in the advanced batteries, 24 hours at a time; and I flatter myself they, as well as the other officers and seamen, will have full justice done them by the General[6]: it is therefore unnecessary for me to say more upon the subject.

From the Lowestoffe, Captain Hallowell was again appointed to the Courageux of 74 guns, which ship formed part of the fleet under Vice-Admiral Hotham, when that officer encountered the enemy off the Hières Islands, July 13, 1795[7]. From this period we find no further mention of him until after the evacuation of Corsica, in Oct. 1796[8], when he proceeded in company with the rest of the fleet to Gibraltar, and arrived at that place early in December. On the 19th of the same month the Courageux parted her cables in a violent gale of wind, and drove nearly under the Spanish batteries before she could be brought up. It being absolutely necessary to remove her from so dangerous a situation, she was got under weigh, and made two or three boards under close reefed topsails, with a view of gaining the anchorage in Rosia Bay; but the wind increasing to a perfect hurricane, and the rain falling in torrents, attended by a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning, rendered every attempt abortive. About 9 P.M. being then under her courses, and stretching over to the African coast, she unfortunately ran against the steep shore of Ape’s Hill[9], and in a very few minutes was a complete wreck. By this melancholy accident nearly 500 brave fellows lost their lives, not more than 124 having escaped to relate the unhappy fate of their companions. The survivors lived about a week on a very small quantity of dried beans, and were six days more in marching through the country; at which time, however, the Moors gave them as much bread once a day as they could eat. They at length reached Gibraltar in a state of entire destitution[10].

At the time the Courageux was driven from the anchorage in Gibraltar Bay, Captain Hallowell was attending a court-martial. Being made acquainted with her situation, he wished very much to go on board previous to her moving from the neighbourhood of the Spanish batteries; and it being in the power of the Court to release him from his attendance he asked permission to do so; but the President, Vice-Admiral Thompson, refused to comply with his request, and thus the life of a valuable officer was preserved to the service and his friends.

In the memorable action off Cape St. Vincent, Feb. 14, 1797[11], the subject of this memoir served as a volunteer on board the Victory; and Sir John Jervis was so much pleased with his conduct on that occasion, that he strongly recommended him to the Admiralty, and sent him home with the duplicates of his despatches. He was in consequence immediately appointed to the Lively frigate, and again ordered to the Mediterranean station.

On the 28th May, in the same year, the boats of that ship and la Minerve, under the direction of Lieutenant (now Sir Thomas Masterman) Hardy, cut a French brig of war, la Mutine, of 14 guns and 130 men, out of the bay of Santa Cruz, notwithstanding a heavy fire from the town, and a large vessel at anchor there. Captain Hallowell’s next appointment was to the Swiftsure of 74 guns, which ship formed part of Sir Horatio Nelson’s squadron at the capture and destruction of the French fleet in Aboukir Bay, Aug. 1, 1798[12].

Our officer having been directed to reconnoitre the port of Alexandria, previous to the discovery of the enemy, was prevented assisting at the commencement of the battle; and being afterwards obliged to alter his course, in order to avoid the shoal that had proved so fatal to the Culloden, it was eight o’clock before he got into action, and total darkness had enveloped the combatants for some time, which was dispelled only by the frequent flashes from their guns; the volumes of smoke now rolling down the line from the fierce fire of those engaged to windward, rendered it extremely difficult to take his station; it was scarcely possible to distinguish friend from foe. The Swiftsure was bearing down under a press of sail, and had already got within range of the enemy’s guns, when her commander perceived a ship standing out of action under her fore-sail and fore-topsail, having no lights displayed. Supposing that she was an enemy, he felt inclined to fire into her; but as that would have broken the plan he had laid down for his conduct[13], he desisted; and happy it was that he did so; for the vessel in question was the Bellerophon[14], which had been obliged to withdraw from the conflict. At three minutes past eight the Swiftsure anchored, taking the place that had been occupied by that ship; and two minutes after began a steady and well-directed fire on the quarter of the Franklin, and bow of l’Orient. At 9h 3’ a fire was observed to have broken out in the cabin of the latter; to that point Captain Hallowell ordered as many guns as could be spared from firing on the Franklin, to be directed, and, at the same time, that the marines should throw the whole fire of their musketry into the enemy’s quarter, while the Alexander on the other side was keeping up an incessant shower of shot to the same point. The conflagration now began to rage with dreadful fury; still the French Admiral sustained the honor of his flag with heroic firmness; but at length a period was put to his exertions by a cannon ball, which cut him asunder; he had before received three desperate wounds, one en the head, and two in his body, but could not be prevailed on to quit his station on the arm chest. His Captain, Casa Bianca, fell by his side. Several of the officers and men, seeing the impracticability of extinguishing the fire, which had now extended itself along the upper decks, and was flaming up the masts, jumped overboard; some supporting themselves on spars and pieces of wreck, others swimming with all their might to escape the dreadful catastrophe. Shot flying in all directions dashed many of them to pieces; others were picked up by the boats sent to their assistance, or dragged into the lower ports of the nearest ships; the British sailors humanely stretching forth their hands to save a fallen enemy, though the battle at that moment raged with uncontrolled fury. The Swiftsure, whose distance from l’Orient did not exceed half-pistol shot, saved the lives of the First Lieutenant, Commissary, and 10 men. The situation of the Swiftsure and Alexander was perilous in the extreme. The expected explosion of such a ship as l’Orient was to be dreaded, as involving all around in certain destruction. Captain Hallowell, however, determined not to move from his station, though repeatedly urged to do so. He observed the advantage he possessed of being to windward of the burning ship. Captain Ball was not so fortunate; he twice had the mortification to perceive that the fire of the enemy had communicated to the Alexander. He was obliged therefore to change his berth and move a little further off.

About ten o’clock the fatal explosion took place. The fire communicated to the magazine, and l’Orient blew up with a crashing sound that deafened all around her. The tremulous motion, felt to the very bottom of each ship, was like that of an earthquake; the fragments were driven such a vast height into the air, that some moments elapsed before they could descend; and then the greatest apprehension was formed from the volumes of burning matter which threatened to fall on the decks and rigging of the surrounding ships. Fortunately, however, no material damage occurred. Two large pieces of the wreck fell into the fore and main-tops of the Swiftsure; but happily the men had been withdrawn from those places.

An awful silence reigned for several minutes, as if the contending squadrons, struck with horror at the dreadful event, which in an instant had hurled so many brave men into the air, had forgotten their hostile rage in pity for the sufferers. But short was the pause of death; vengeance soon roused the drooping spirits of the enemy. The Franklin again opened her fire on the Defence and Swiftsure, and thus gave the signal for renewed hostilities. Captain Hallowell being disengaged from his late formidable adversary, had leisure to direct the Swiftsure’s whole fire into the quarter of the foe who had thus presumed to break the solemn silence; and in a very short time, by the well-directed and steady fire of these two ships, and the Leander on her bows, the Franklin was obliged to call for quarter.

The Alexander and Majestic, and occasionally the Swiftsure, were now the only British ships engaged; but Captain Hallowell, finding that he could not direct his guns clear of the former, and fearful lest he should fire into a friend, desisted, although he was severely annoyed by the shot of the French ship Tonnant, which fell thick about him. About three o’clock on the morning of the 2nd August, the firing ceased entirely, both squadrons being equally exhausted with fatigue. It was, however, subsequently renewed between the rear of the enemy and a few of the British ships. In the morning of the 3d, there remained in the bay only the Timoleon and Tonnant of the French line, that were not captured or destroyed. The crew of the former escaped in their boats after setting fire to her; the latter struck without further resistance, just as the Swiftsure was in the act of casting, for the purpose of supporting the Theseus and Leander, which ships had already approached the enemy. This completed the conquest of the French fleet. The loss sustained by the Swiftsure was 7 nien killed, and 22 wounded. On going into action she received a shot several feet under water, which proved a considerable annoyance; the chain-pumps were obliged to be kept constantly at work, nor could the leak be kept completely under; she had four feet water in the hold from the commencement to the end of the battle.

On the 8th, Captain Hallowell took possession of Aboukir Island, and brought off 2 brass 13-inch mortars, and 2 12-pounders of the same metal. The iron guns he threw into the sea, and destroyed the platforms. On the 10th a vessel was discovered in the offing; the Swiftsure was ordered to chase, and immediately got under weigh; in the evening Captain Hallowell came up with, and took her; she proved to be la Fortune corvette, of 16 guns and 70 men[15]. On the same day Sir Horatio Nelson, who had been wounded in the late battle, wrote to Earl St .Vincent from the mouth of the Nile; and in his letter we find the following passage; “I should have sunk under the fatigue of refitting the squadron, hut for Troubridge, Ball, Hood, and Hallowell; not but all have done well; but these are my supporters.

Subsequent to the departure of Rear-Admiral Nelson from the shores of Egypt, the Swiftsure formed part of a squadron under the orders of Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Hood, employed in co-operation with the Turks and Russians, in harassing the French army, on which service Captain Hallowell remained until Feb. 14, 1799, when he sailed for Palermo, where he joined his gallant chief on the 20th of the following month[16].

Eleven days after her arrival at Sicily, the Swiftsure sailed for Naples, in company with three other ships of the line and some smaller vessels, the whole under the command of Captain Troubridge, of the Culloden. On the 2d April they stood into the Bay; and as it was known that many of the inhabitants were desirous of returning to their allegiance, Captain Hallo well, accompanied by the Hon. Mr. Rushout, now Lord Northwick, whose acquaintance with the country as well as with the Italian language proved of great service on many occasions, landed on the isle of Procida. They were received with enthusiastic joy, and ascended to the castle amidst the acclamations of the people; the French tree of liberty was cut down, the tri-coloured flag struck, and the royal Neapolitan ensign hoisted in its stead. In the mean time the squadron anchored between Procida and the main; a party of marines were sent to Ischia to take possession of that island, and the fort was given up to them without opposition.

The squadron continued in the vicinity of Naples until the 15th May, when it returned to Palermo, and from thence proceeded on a cruize off Maritimo. On the 23d of the same month, Captain Hallowell presented Lord Nelson with a coffin made from the wreck of l’Orient, accompanied by the following letter;

My Lord.– I have taken the liberty of presenting you a coffin made from the main-mast of l’Orient, that when you have finished your military career in this world, you may be buried in one of your trophies – but that that period may be far distant, is the earnest wish of your sincere friend,

Ben. Hallowell.”

On the bottom of this singular present was pasted a certificate written on paper, to the following effect: “I do hereby certify, that every part of this coffin is made of the wood and iron of l’Orient, most of which was picked up by his Majesty’s ship under my command, in the Bay of Aboukir.

Ben. Hallowell[17].”

Swiftsure, May 23, 1799.”

The astonishment that prevailed amongst the crew of the Vanguard, Lord Nelson’s flag ship, when they were actually convinced it was a coffin which had been thus conveyed on board, will be long remembered by their officers: “We shall have hot work of it indeed,” said one of the seamen; “you see the Admiral intends to fight till he is killed, and there he is to be buried.” Lord Nelson highly appreciated the present, and for some time had it placed upright, with the lid on, against the bulk-head of his cabin, behind the chair on which he sat at dinner, and viewed it with the undaunted mind of a great warrior. At length, by the tears and entreaties of an old servant, he was prevailed on to allow its being carried below. When his Lordship left the Vanguard, the coffin was removed into the Foudroyant, where it remained for many days on the gratings of the quarter-deck. Whilst his officers were one day looking at it, he came out of the cabin: “You may look at it, Gentlemen” said the hero, “as long as you please; but depend on it none of you shall have it.”

In the month of June, 1799, Lord Nelson having been reinforced by a squadron under Rear-Admiral Duckworth, proceeded to Naples, where he arrived on the 24th, and found that a treaty had been signed between Cardinal Ruffo, and the insurgent Neapolitans, by which the latter consented to capitulate, on condition that they should be allowed to march out of the castles Nuovo and Uovo, with the honors of war, and be provided with vessels to transport themselves and families, with their property, to France. This treaty his Lordship set aside, as his Sicilian Majesty had ordered that no terms were to be entered into with the rebels, but that their surrender was to be unconditional. They were accordingly brought into the fleet, disarmed, and their leaders placed in irons.

The enemy still retaining possession of the castles of St. Elmo, Gaieta, and Capua, preparations were instantly made for their subjugation; and on the 29th June, the trenches were opened before the former fortress, under the direction of Captain Troubridge, who had been selected to conduct the operations on shore; and the place was summoned to surrender; but the Commandant, M. Mejan, determined to stand a siege. At first, Captain Ball, of the Alexander, was second in command; but that officer’s services being required at Malta, his place was most ably supplied by the subject of this memoir.

On the 3d July, a battery of three 36-pounders and four mortars, was erected about a hundred toises from the walls of St. Elmo; also a battery of four 36-pounders was constructed at the opposite angle, by a body of Russians belonging to the army of General Suvorof. Some Turkish auxiliaries were at the same time employed in guarding particular depôts, and in the main behaved very well.

It was the intention of the British commander to storm the castle in different places, as soon as practicable breaches could be made. On the 5th, another battery of two 36-pounders was opened. In the mean time, the three-gun battery being entirely destroyed, and the guns dismounted, Captain Hallowell was directed to erect another at the distance of ninety toises from the walls. The quick and well-directed fire of this new battery (which was admirably constructed, and cost immense labour[18],) aided by a smart cannonade from the others, induced the enemy to surrender; and an officer appeared on the walls with a white flag. The terms of capitulation were soon agreed on; and the French marched out and delivered up the castle to the British[19]. Commodore Troubridge next proceeded to Capua, accompanied by Captain Hallowell, and took the command of the motley force before that place; batteries of guns and mortars were erected, and on the 25th, opened their fire upon the enemy, who returned it with equal spirit; but from the rapid approach of the besiegers, whose trenches were advanced on the following day to within a few yards of the glacis, they were at length induced to capitulate; and on the 29th, the garrison marched out and grounded their arms[20]. Gaieta immediately afterwards surrendered to Captain Louis of the Minotaur; and the whole kingdom of Naples was thus delivered from the yoke of the French – an event principally brought about by British sailors.

The enemy, however, still occupied the Roman States; from which, according to their own admission, they had extorted, in jewels, plate, specie, and requisitions of every kind, to the enormous amount of 8,000,000l. sterling; yet they affected to appear as deliverers among the people whom they were thus cruelly plundering; and they distributed portraits of Buonaparte, with the blasphemous inscription – “This is the true likeness of the holy saviour of the world!” The people, detesting the impiety, and groaning beneath the exactions of these perfidious robbers, were ready to join any regular force that should come to their assistance; but they dreaded Cardinal Ruffo’s rabble[21], and declared they would resist him as a banditti, who came only for the purpose of pillage. Lord Nelson perceived that no object was now so essential for the tranquillity of Naples as the recovery of Rome, which, in the present state of things, when the Russians were driving the French before them, would complete the deliverance of Italy. He therefore sent the Swifts ure to Civita Vecchia, to offer the garrison there, and at Castle St. Angelo, the same terms which had been granted to Gaieta, &c. The Swiftsure sailed from Naples on the 7th Aug., and on her arrival off Civita Vecchia a French officer of distinction came on board with a flag of truce; but nothing was then decided. Captain Hallowell, however, subsequently entered into a negotiation, and had paved the way for the enemy’s surrender, when he was taken from his station by Captain Foley of the Goliath; that ship, together with the Swiftsure, being ordered by Lord Keith to proceed to Gibraltar[22].

Our officer soon after received the insignia of the Neapolitan Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit, and a box with the royal cypher set in diamonds, as a reward for the services he had rendered to the Sicilian monarch[23].

The Swiftsure, after touching at Palermo, Minorca, and Gibraltar, proceeded to Lisbon, at which place she arrived on the 30th Nov. in company with the Leviathan, Powerful, Vanguard, and Bellerophon, the whole under the orders of Rear-Admiral Duckworth. On the 6th Dec. the squadron again put to sea, and cruized for some time, in very stormy weather, on the coast of Spain, during which Captain Hallowell captured two merchant vessels. In the month of Feb. 1800, after once more visiting the Tagus, he accompanied the same detachment to Gibraltar, where, as the Swiftsure had suffered a great deal in the late gales, it was thought necessary to caulk and repair her, for which purpose she was taken into the Mole.

We next find Captain Hallowell cruizing with Rear-Admiral Duckworth, in order to intercept a fleet about to sail from Cadiz for Lima; and on the 5th April the squadron had the good fortune to fall in with it. Two frigates and several merchantmen were captured; but the Sabina, a fine frigate richly laden, and four merchant vessels, got off. Had not the Swiftsure been sent in chase to the southward, in all probability not one of them would have escaped. The prizes had quicksilver on board, to the amount of 140 tons, which was intended to work the mines of Peru and Mexico. Five days after this event, Captain Hallowell took a Spanish schooner from Malaga bound to Vera Cruz, which had taken shelter under the guns of the Moorish Castle of Larache, but put to sea again as soon as the remainder of the squadron left the African coast on their return to Gibraltar. The Swiftsure subsequently received the flag of Sir Richard Bickerton; who after blockading Cadiz for some time, proceeded in her to Alexandria, where he removed into the Kent, of 74 guns.

Although the Swiftsure had been in a very leaky condition for a long time, yet she was obliged to retrace her steps to the Egyptian coast without receiving the repairs she stood in need of. At length Lord Keith sent her with a convoy of cartels and light transports, from the Bay of Aboukir to Malta. Captain Hallowell on the passage received intelligence of a strong squadron of the enemy being in those seas. Prompted by a laudable zeal for the service, and considering the comparative insignificance of his charge, he formed the resolution to quit it, and make the best of his way to reinforce Sir John B. Warren, then lying at the latter place. Unhappily, on his passage he fell in with the hostile squadron on the 24th June, 1801. Perceiving the very superior force of the enemy, he endeavoured to escape from them; but the leaky and foul condition of the Swiftsure was ill-matched for the fast sailing Frenchmen. Captain Hallowell, finding there was no prospect of getting away from them by keeping on a wind, determined to bear down and engage the ships to leeward, consisting of two sail of the line and a frigate, in hopes that if he crippled them he might obtain his object; but in this he was disappointed. The Indivisible, of 80 guns, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Ganteaume, and the Dix-Aout, 74, being in close order, and within half gun-shot of the Swiftsure, opened their fire; this was instantly returned, and a severe action took place, and continued, notwithstanding the great disproportion of force, for an hour and seven minutes, during which Captain Hallowell made several efforts to get to leeward of his opponents, but their superior sailing baffled every attempt.

The other two line-of-battle ships, the Jean Bart and Constitution, of 74 guns each, now tacked in order to fetch into the Swiftsure’s wake, and were ranging up on her quarter within gun-shot, reserving their fire till they closed, when, her masts, yards, and rigging being cut to pieces, the decks lumbered with the wreck, all hopes of escape cut off, and no prospect of succour presenting itself, Captain Hallowell, to avoid further useless effusion of blood, determined to surrender to superior numbers; and with pain, as he truly expressed himself, he ordered the colours, which he could no longer defend, to be hauled down.

The Frenchman’s principal object having been to dismantle the Swiftsure, her loss in killed and wounded was not so great as might have been expected; only 2 men were killed, and 8, including Lieutenant Davis, wounded, 2 of them mortally; but the ship was so much cut up, that although the whole of the artificers of the French squadron were employed in repairing her damages, it was six days before the Indivisible, by which ship she had been taken in tow, cast her off to make sail. The enemy’s loss amounted to 33 killed and wounded.

When Lord Keith despatched the Swiftsure for Malta, he took out many of her best men, by which means she was 86 short of complement, besides having 59 sick on board, from a bad fever brought off by those who had acted with the army before Alexandria. Had it been Captain Hallowell’s good fortune to have had with him such a force as might have attacked the French squadron with any fair estimate of success, the result cannot be questioned[24].

In his public letter, our officer speaks highly of the handsome treatment received from the French Rear-Admiral, who did everything in his power to render the situation of his prisoners as comfortable as possible; and in M. Ganteaume’s account of the action, the gallant defence of the Swiftsure was correctly admitted.

Having obtained permission to return from Toulon to Minorca on his parole, a court-martial was assembled, Aug. 18, 1801, on board the Généreux, at Port Mahon, to try Captain Hallowell for quitting the convoy, and for the loss of his ship. After a minute investigation, the court were of opinion, and it appeared to them from the narrative of Captain Hallowell. supported by the best possible evidence to be obtained, that the fleet under his charge was of very little importance in any point of view; that his determination to leave the said fleet and join Sir John B. Warren, was dictated by sound judgment and zeal for the service of his King and Country; and the Court were farther of opinion, that the loss of the Swiftsure was unavoidable, and that the conduct of Captain Hallowell, his officers and ship’s company, in her defence, was highly meritorious, and that Captain Hallowell displayed great judgment in the mode he adopted, to avoid so superior a force, and equal gallantry in the execution of the plan so formed; they did therefore adjudge him and them to be honorably acquitted of all blame on the occasion.

During the ensuing peace Captain Hallowell was appointed to the chief command on the coast of Africa, and proceeded thither with his broad pendant in the Argo, of 44 guns. Touching at Barbadoes, on his return to Europe, he there learnt that hostilities were likely to be renewed between Great Britain and France; and Sir Samuel Hood, the Commander-in-Chief on that station, being daily expected from Antigua, he resolved to await the arrival of that officer, whom he afterwards accompanied on an expedition against St. Lucia and Tobago[25].

To Captain Hallowell’s merits” says the Commodore, in his official despatch relative to the conquest of the former of these islands, “it is impossible for me to give additional encomium, as it is so generally known; but I must beg leave to say, that on this expedition his activity could not be exceeded; and by his friendly advice I have obtained the most effectual aid to this service, for which he has been a volunteer; and after the final disembarkation, proceeded on with the seamen to co-operate with the army.” In a subsequent letter from Tobago, Sir Samuel Hood thus expresses himself: “The royal marines and a body of seamen were landed to co-operate with the army, under the command of Captain Hallowell; and it is scarcely necessary for me to add, his zeal and exertions were equally conspicuous as on the late expedition to St. Lucia. He is charged with this despatch, and will give their Lordships any further information they may desire on the subject.

The Argo sailed from Tobago early in July, and arrived at Portsmouth on the 14th Aug. At the commencement of the following year Captain Hallowell proceeded in the same ship to Aboukir, with Elfi Bey, an artful and designing Chief of the Mameloucs; who being obliged to leave Egypt, had endeavoured to impose on the liberality and integrity of the British nation. Our officer, on returning to Malta, in his letters to Earl St. Vincent and Viscount Nelson, entered at considerable length on the insidious character of this Bey, and transmitted much valuable information respecting the then state of Egypt. In the ensuing summer he escorted the homeward-bound trade from the Mediterranean to England; and immediately on his arrival was appointed to the Tigre, of 80 guns, in which ship he returned to the Mediterranean, and from thence accompanied his friend Nelson to the West Indies, in pursuit of the combined fleets of France and Spain[26].

We next find Captain Hallowell commanding the naval part of an expedition sent from Messina in the spring of 1807, destined to take possession of Alexandria. The troops, consisting of about 5,000 men, under the orders of Major-General Fraser, were landed on the 17th and 18th March, near the ravine extending from lake Mareotis to the sea. As soon as the whole were collected and formed, they moved forward and attacked the enemy’s advanced works, which were carried with little loss. The British force then went round by Pompey’s Pillar, to the southward; and on the afternoon of the 20th, finding that farther opposition would be useless, the Governor offered to capitulate. Terms were accordingly agreed upon; and, on the 21st, the place was in the full possession of the English. In the old or western port were taken two Turkish frigates and a corvette, all mounting brass guns; one of the former carrying 40, the other 34, and the corvette 16. Major-General Fraser thus speaks of the assistance he received from his naval co-adjutor on this occasion: “To Captain Hallowell, and the officers and seamen of H.M.S. Tigre, I cannot sufficiently express my acknowledgments for the assistance they afforded me, and for the readiness with which they stood forward on all occasions. Captain Hallowell landed and marched with me to the attack of the enemy’s retrenchments, and to the very gates of the city, and remained on shore until the place surrendered; from his advice and local knowledge I derived much useful information.”

Subsequent to the evacuation of Egypt by the British, which took place in September following, the Tigre appears to have been principally employed in watching the port of Toulon, but without any event of importance occurring until Oct. 25, 1809; when, in company with a squadron under Sir George Martin, she drove on shore three French line-of-battle ships and a frigate near the mouth of the Rhone[27]. On the 30th of the same month, Captain Hallowell was entrusted with the command of a detachment from Lord Collingwood’s fleet, sent to attack some armed vessels and transports that had separated from the above ships and made for the Bay of Rosas. The enterprise proved successful; and at day-break on the morning of Nov. 1st, every one of the enemy’s vessels was either burnt or brought off, notwithstanding the protection afforded them by the Castle of Rosas, Fort Trinity, and several newly erected batteries. The convoy thus intercepted was from Toulon, bound to the relief of Barcelona, then in the possession of the French, and which had long been besieged by the Spaniards[28].

At the general promotion, July 31, 1810, Captain Hallowell was nominated a Colonel of Royal Marines; and he continued to command the Tigre until his advancement to the rank of Rear-Admiral, which took place Aug. 1st. in the following year. He soon after hoisted his flag in the Malta, of 84 guns; and in Jan. 1812, again went to the Mediterranean, where he remained until some time after the conclusion of the war, during the latter part of which he commanded the squadron employed in co-operation with the patriots on the south coast of Spain.

On the 2d Jan. 1815, our officer was created a K.C.B. He subsequently obtained the chief command on the Irish station, which he held during the customary period of three years; and in the summer of 1821, succeeded Sir John Gore as Commander-in-Chief in the River Medway, where his flag is now flying on board the Prince Regent, of 120 guns. His commission as Vice-Admiral bears date Aug. 12, 1819. Sir Benjamin Hallowell married, Feb. 17, 1800, a daughter of Commissioner Inglefield, of Gibraltar Dock-yard. His eldest son obtained the rank of Lieutenant, Aug. 30, 1820, and is now serving as his flag officer[29].



  1. Sir Samuel Hood had been entrusted with the command at the Leeward Islands on the departure of Sir George B. Rodney for England, in the month of July preceding; but soon after receiving intelligence, that the Count de Grasse had proceeded with a powerful fleet to the coast of America, he lost not a moment in following him thither, and on the 31st Aug. formed a junction with Rear-Admiral Graves, off Sandy Hook. The action that ensued between the British and French fleets we have already noticed at p. 133.
  2. The operations of the British fleet during the siege, and after the capture of St. Christopher’s, form an epoch in the proud annals of the British navy, and will be found detailed in our memoir of Retired Captain John N. Inglefield.
  3. Captain Bayne was killed on the 9th April. See note at p. 39.
  4. Captain Elphinstone, now Viscount Keith.
  5. See p. 252.
  6. Lieutenant-General Stuart, see ibid.
  7. See p. 254.
  8. See p. 255.
  9. Mons Abyla, remarkable for the number of apes about its summit, on which account it is generally called Ape’s Hill.
  10. The extreme darkness of the fatal night of Dec. 19, and the boldness of that part of the African coast, may readily he conceived when we state that the bowsprit of the Courageux actually struck the shore, and the main-mast after its fall served as a bridge for the small portion of her crew that escaped to pass to the land by.
  11. See p. 21, et seq.
  12. See p. 180.
  13. Captain Hallowell, being aware of the difficulty of breaking men off from their guns when once they have begun to use them, determined not to suffer a shot to be fired till the sails were all clewed up, and the Swiftsure anchored in her station.
  14. See p. 270.
  15. On board of la Fortune were several officers, and amongst the rest a Surgeon on the staff, who, it seems, had suffered his sense of the dangers and difficulties he was exposed to by the expedition, to get the better of his prudence, and had expressed his disapprobation of it with so much acrimony that General Buonaparte had, by way of punishment, put him into the corvette, bound on a cruize off Damietta. As soon as he was informed of the event of the battle in Aboukir Bay, and that his brother was killed on board l’Orient, he threw his snuff-box overboard, and expressed the most lively sorrow; when suddenly recovering himself with the observation, “c’est la fortune de la guerre,” he turned to the spectators and said he would amuse them, and instantly pulled from his pocket a ludicrous figure of a monk, with which he so entertained himself and them, that in a few moments all care for his brother, his country, or himself, now a prisoner, was forgotten.
  16. Lord Nelson had recently escorted the Neapolitan Court from Naples to Palermo. Soon after his Lordship’s arrival at the former place, after the discomfiture of the French fleet, his Sicilian Majesty formed a design of driving the republicans from the frontiers of his dominions, as well as from the Papal States. Accordingly, having collected a large army, amounting, it is said, to 100,000 men, he made rapid marches, and soon came up with the enemy’s forces; but, though he might now have surrounded them, he contented himself with ordering’ them to evacuate his own territories and those of the Holy Pontiff. The French retreated till they reached Rome; where, fortifying themselves in the castle of St. Angelo, they resolved to defend themselves, and retire no farther. From some unknown cause, the King suddenly retreated with much expedition to Naples, and his late numerous army as suddenly disappeared. His Majesty having embraced a plan of setting up the military commissions to sale, and many persons having bought their rank, though they were known to possess no property, it is believed that the French lost not the opportunity to furnish them with the money. The consequence is obvious. Of course they took good care not to act against their benefactors.
  17. It has been stated in several publications, that the words of the above mentioned certificate were engraved upon a brass plate affixed to the coffin; so far from that having been the case, Captain Hallowell carefully avoided using any material that did not actually belong to the mast. He therefore had staples made of the spikes drawn from the cheeks; these staples were driven into the edge of the coffin, and when the lid was put on, toggles were put into the staples to secure it down, and thus prevent the necessity of using nails or screws for that purpose. The nails in the coffin were also made from the spikes taken from the mast.
  18. In front of one of the embrazures of this battery stood a tree, which it was necessary to remove. The Neapolitan labourers did not at first like to expose themselves by going to cut it down. Captains Troubridge and Hallowell, with Colonel Tchudy a Swiss, and M. Monfrere, an emigrant of great merit and abilities, advanced before the works, to encourage them by their example; being perceived by the enemy on the walls, a gun loaded with grape was levelled at them with such precision, as actually to cut the boughs and strike the ground between their legs, yet providentially not one of them was hurt.
  19. The fort of St. Elmo is hewn out of a rock, towards the west of the city of Naples. Its subterraneous works are wide, lofty, and bomb-proof; and it has eight reservoirs for water. The harbour is spacious, with a canal and a mole nearly 500 paces in length; and, on the whole, it is a place of great strength.
  20. Capua is situated fifteen miles north of Naples.
  21. Cardinal Ruffo, a man of questionable character, but of a temper fitted for such times, had raised what he called a Christian army, composed of the best and the vilest materials; loyal peasants, enthusiastic priests and friars, galley slaves, the emptying of the jails, and banditti.
  22. Captain Hallowell was succeeded on the Roman coast by Captain Louis, who was afterwards joined by Sir Thomas Troubridge. The French, seeing that all hopes of defending themselves successfully against the united powers that attacked them on all sides, were at an end, and thinking to obtain better terms from the English than the Austrians, proposed terms to the latter officer, with that effrontery which characterizes their public proceedings, but which is as often successful as it is impudent. They had a man of the right stamp to deal with. Their ambassador at Rome began by saying, that the Roman territory was the property of the French, by right of conquest. The British Commodore settled that point, by replying, “It is mine by reconquest.” A capitulation was soon concluded for all the Roman States, and Captain Louis rowed up the Tiber in his barge, hoisted English colours on the Capitol, and acted, for the time, as Governor of Rome. The prophecy of Father M‘Cormick, an Irish Franciscan, was thus accomplished. On Nelson’s return to Naples from Aboukir, this man predicted, that the Admiral would take Rome with his ships. The hero reminded him that ships could not ascend the Tiber; but the friar, who had probably forgotten this circumstance, met the objection with a bold front, and declared he saw that it would come to pass notwithstanding. Nelson, who was struck with the oddity of the circumstance, and not a little pleased with it, obtained preferment for him from the King of Sicily, and recommended him to the Pope.
  23. The Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit was instituted by the King of the Two Sicilies, in compliment to his English allies. His Majesty placed himself at the head; Lord Nelson was created a Knight Grand Cross; and Captains Troubridgc, Louis, Ball, Hood, and Hallowell, Knights Commanders; and what rendered this flattering mark of distinction more gratifying, the King at the same time wrote a letter to each of those officers, expressing the sense he entertained of their services.
  24. The Swiftsure was retaken at the glorious battle of Trafalgar.
  25. On the 20th June, 1803, an expedition, under the command of Lieutenant-General Grinfield and Commodore Hood, sailed from Barbadoes against St. Lucia; and on the 22d, the fort of Morne Fortunée was carried, which was followed by the unconditional surrender of the whole island. The armament then proceeded to Tobago, which capitulated on the 1st July.
  26. See Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm.
  27. See p. 282.
  28. See Captain John Tailour, in our next volume.
  29. In 1801 the late Rev. Cooper Willyams, formerly Chaplain of the Swiftsure, published a Work entitled “A Voyage up the Mediterranean,” containing the most minute and authentic account of the Battle of the Nile, and all that occurred immediately before and subsequent to it, with many of the operations by land as well as by sea; to which interesting volume the Editor of this compilation acknowledges himself indebted for the aid it has afforded him in drawing the foregoing sketch of Sir Benjamin Hallowell’s services.