Royal Naval Biography/Schomberg, Charles Marsh
CHARLES MARSH SCHOMBERG, Esq
A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath; and Knight Commander of the Royal Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword.
[Post-Captain of 1803.]
This officer is the youngest son of the late Sir Alexander Schomberg, Knt. by Mary Susannah Arabella, daughter of the Rev. ___ Chalmers, and niece of Sir ___ Alleyn, Knt.
He was born at Dublin, and entered the navy as a Midshipman, on board the Dorset yacht, commanded by his father, the last 32 years of whose life was spent in attendance upon the different Viceroys of Ireland, from one of whom he received the honor of knighthood, in 1777.
At the commencement of the French revolutionary war, Mr. Charles M. Schomberg entered into active service, under the auspices of the late Admiral Macbride, with whom he continued, in the Cumberland and Minotaur, third-rates, until his promotion to a Lieutenancy, April 30, 1795.
After serving for some time in the Rattler sloop of war, under the present Rear-Admirals Lake and Cochet (the former his patron’s son-in-law), he returned to the Minotaur, then commanded by the late Sir Thomas Louis; and, nominally, the flag-ship of Vice-Admiral Macbride.
Subsequent to the general mutiny in 1797, the Minotaur was sent from England to reinforce the fleet off Cadiz; on which station we find Lieutenant Schomberg personally engaged in several severe boat actions with the Spanish flotilla and land-batteries; a mode of warfare wisely adopted by Earl St. Vincent commander-in-chief, to employ the minds of his seamen, and divert them from following the mischievous example of their brethren at Spithead and the Nore. It is unnecessary to say more on this subject, than that the unhappy Spaniards were made to feel the effects, and deplore the consequences, of a popular commotion in the British navy. The Minotaur continued with the in-shore squadron off Cadiz till May 24, 1798, on which day she sailed for the Mediterranean, in company with a strong detachment under the orders of Captain Thomas Troubridge, whose junction with Sir Horatio Nelson, near Toulon, the long cruise which succeeded in quest of a French armament commanded by Napoleon Buonaparte, and the great victory achieved by the British squadron in Aboukir Bay, have already been described in a note at p. 180 et seq. of our first volume.
The Minotaur on that glorious occasion sustained a loss of 23 men slain and 64 wounded. Her conduct is thus noticed by Nelson’s biographers (Messrs. Clarke and M‘Arthur), at pp. 79, 80, &c. of their highly valuable work.
“While the advanced officers in the British squadron were proving themselves worthy of that experience and decision which directed the whole, the Rear-Admiral himself had entered into action with the remainder of his force; and was the first that anchored on the outer side of the enemy, within half pistol-shot of le Spartiate, the third ship in the French line of battle. * * * * * *
“The Vanguard having thus anchored in eight fathom water, at 6h 30' P.M. veered half a cable, and in a minute opened a most destructive fire so as to cover the approach of the other ships, the Minotaur, Bellerophon, Defence, and Majestic, which respectively passed on Miead of their Admiral. Captain Louis, in the Minotaur, nobly supported his friend and commander, and anchoring next a-head of the Vanguard, took off the fire of l’Aquilon, the fourth in the French line.
“During the heat of the battle, and when Nelson had received his severe wound in the head from a piece of langridge shot, some circumstances occurred which marked his character and disposition. On being wounded, he had been assisted in going below, where, desiring that he might wait until his turn came, it was some time before he was discovered by the surgeon. The pain was intense, and Nelson felt convinced that his wound was mortal. A large piece of the skin of his forehead, which had been cut to the bone, hung down over his eye, and not having any sight from the other, he was left perfectly blind. Mr. Jefferson assured him, on probing the wound, that there was no immediate danger. He would not, however, indulge any hope; and having desired Mr. Comyn, the chaplain, to convey his dying remembrance to Lady Nelson, he ordered the Minotaur to be hailed, that he might thank her gallant Captain for coming up so nobly to the support of the Vanguard – the interview affected all who beheld it.”
“Farewell, dear Louis,” said the hero, “I shall never forget the obligation I am under to you for your brave and generous conduct; and note, whatever may become of me, my mind is at peace.”
L’Aquilon being totally dismasted, and completely overpowered by the Minotaur’s superior fire, struck her colours some time previous to the destruction of l’Orient, and was immediately taken possession of by Lieutenant Schomberg, whom we subsequently find employed, as first of the Minotaur, in a series of active and important services, on the coast of Italy, the nature of which will be seen by the following outline of occurrences in that quarter, between Nov. 1798, and October 1799.
After the establishment of the blockade of Malta, and the surrender of Gozo, an adjacent island, in Oct. 1798, the Minotaur returned with Nelson to Naples, where she received on board part of a Neapolitan army, destined to occupy Leghorn, at which place she arrived in company with the Vanguard, Culloden, and Alliance, towards the latter end of November. A summons was immediately sent on shore, in the names of the allied commanders; and no resistance being offered, the troops were soon landed under General Naselli, who took possession of the town and port, whilst the squadron secured two Genoese armed vessels, and several others loaded with corn, which were found lying outside the mole.
The occupation of Leghorn was undertaken by Nelson with a view to frustrate the machinations of the French emissaries then at Florence, and thereby preserve Tuscany from the anarchy and plunder to which that fine country was shortly afterwards subjected, through native treachery and Sicilian imbecility.
In December following, the French army having invaded the Neapolitan territory, and the superior inhabitants of the capital displaying strong symptoms of disaffection, his Sicilian Majesty found it expedient to embark in Nelson’s flag-ship, and to proceed with his family to Palermo, at, which place he was landed in safety on the 26th of the same month.
Whilst such was the deplorable state of Naples, and the painful situation of His Sicilian Majesty, whose hopes and comforts equally rested upon the British squadron; the affairs of Tuscany, and the cruel insults to which the King of Sardinia was then exposed, demanded also a large share of Nelson’s judgment and decision. Throughout the whole of the subsequent proceedings in that part of Italy, his Excellency the Hon. W. Wyndham displayed an energy and impartiality which all the artifice of French intrigue could not affect; and the co-operation of the Minotaur, stationed off Leghorn, was at all times worthy of her commander’s professional character.
Towards the end of Jan. 1799, the arrival of a very valuable convoy from England was hourly looked for, and the British Minister accordingly presented a note on the subject to the Grand Duke. On the 28th, the principal merchants decided that the fleet, instead of entering the port, should be placed under the protection of the Minotaur, and remain in the roads until Captain Louis could devise further means for its security. The threats of Salicetti, Envoy from the French Directory, who declared openly that Tuscany would be revolutionized in the ensuing Lent; and the suspicious conduct of the republican generals, then in the neighbourhood of Florence, kept the Duchy at that time in a very agitated state; and, as Mr. Wyndham added in his note, “there was reason to believe, that if the French had not yet attacked the government, it was only because they waited the arrival of this rich convoy, in order to ensure its capture.”
During these proceedings, the King of Sardinia and his family, justly apprehensive of French treachery, had arrived at Florence, and were lodged in one of the Grand Duke’s palaces, about a mile without the city. His Majesty, driven from Piedmont, intended to seek an asylum at Cagliari; and afterwards proceeded thither in a Danish frigate, escorted by a British man of war. Mr. Wyndham, in his letters to Nelson, gives an account of the various circumstances that had preceded and attended this transaction:– from those letters we make the following extracts:–
“Florence, Feb. 6, 1799.– The King of Sardinia is very grateful to your Lordship for leaving a force off Leghorn. I feel most sincerely your attention in sending Captain Louis, whose conduct gives great satisfaction to this Court, and who in every respect is a proper person for the service; uniting cool judgment and address with every other quality necessary for a military character, and concurring with me candidly for the public service. * * * *. His Majesty is still here and suffers much from convulsions, occasioned by the hard usage and violent treatment he is obliged to put up with from the French commissary who attends him, and others who are appointed to thwart his wishes, and contradict him on frivolous and vexatious pretexts. When the King, three days since, talked of going on his journey to Leghorn, the Commissary Chiboux said to him, ‘Vous ne partirez point, ce n’est pas à vous à commander, c’est à vous à reçevoir nos ordres.’ I am sorry to say his Majesty is not better treated by Venturi, a jacobin nobleman.”
“Feb. 16, 1799.– His Sardinian Majesty proposes sailing to-morrow, or next day at latest, from Leghorn, if the wind permits. His cruel situation could not fail to call forth the feelings of any man who possesses loyalty and honour. I therefore proposed and concerted with a person in H.M. confidence, to secure the Royal family from any future insults on their passage by sea; and the same person was accordingly employed by me, to arrange with Captain Louis a mode of escorting the King and his suite to Cagliari in such a manner that the French commissary should not know an English ship was engaged to attend on the voyage. We had some idea of an intent of the enemy to intercept H.M. on the passage by their privateers; and the noted Franceschi, chief of the French and Corsican marauders in these seas, had been peculiarly active of late in arming and equipping a number of vessels best suited for resistance, apparently in concert with the French commissary and consul. The total impossibility of knowing how events might turn out after the King’s landing in Sardinia, has induced H.M. to negotiate with me for the security of his person, and the protection of the only state which now remains to him. I cannot sufficiently commend Captain Louis for his generous zeal and kind concurrence iu this affair.”
The King of Sardinia was not able to sail from Leghorn until the 23d of February. On his arrival at Cagliaria his Majesty published a protest against the conduct of the French, dated March 3, 1799, in which he declared, “Upon the faith and word of a King, that he not only had never infringed, even in the slightest degree, the treaties that had been made with the French republic; but, on the contrary, had observed them with such scrupulous exactness, and with such demonstrations of amity and condescension, as far exceeded the obligations he had contracted.”
The arrival of the expected convoy, March 14, only served to encrease the alarm of the Tuscan government. Upwards of 1,000 French had already arrived at Pistoia, and other detachments were on their march to that place. A large body of horse and foot, with artillery, had set out from Bologna for Florence; and two frigates were cruising off Genoa, for the purpose of co-operating in an attack on Leghorn.
In the midst of this consternation, intelligence was received of the rapid advance of General Scherer, ex-minister at war, who had succeeded Championet as commander-in-chief of the army of Lombardy, and whose first military movement was the invasion of Tuscany. On the 25th of March, Florence fell into his possession, and Leghorn was occupied the same day by a division under General Miollis. The Grand Duke, instead of making any resistance, published a declaration, requesting, as a proof of “the attachment and affection of his faithful subjects, that they would respect the French Army.” All the property found at Leghorn belonging to Great Britain, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Turkey, and the States of Barbary, was subjected to sequestration by the enemy, whose mortification was very great when they discovered that not only the English merchandize recently arrived, but also much more of their expected booty had been placed beyond their reach through the active exertions of Captain Louis, and the officers under his orders.
The Minotaur returned to Palermo at the latter end of March, and Nelson immediately laid before her commander a plan he had formed for the effectual blockade of Naples, and recovery of the islands in that neighbourhood. This plan had been sanctioned by His Sicilian Majesty on the 18th of that month, and had been received with much gratitude by the King and his Ministers, who could not but contrast the generous solicitude of the British Admiral with the cold and selfish apprehensions of his natural ally, the Emperor of Austria.
On the 31st of March, the Culloden, Zealous, Minotaur, Swiftsure, and some other ships of war, proceeded to execute their Admiral’s instructions; and on the seventh day after their departure, Nelson had the pleasure of hearing that they were in complete possession of Procida and Ischia, the inhabitantsof which islands had joyfully hoisted the royal colours, cut down the trees of liberty, and delivered up the municipalities, composed of detestable jacobins, all of whom were either confined on board the squadron, or in the chateau of Ischia, to await the punishment due to their crimes.
Captain Troubridge, the senior officer, lost no time in sending to Palermo for a judge to try the offenders, but it seemed to be the wish of the imbecile Ministry to cast the odium of every execution upon the British, as was but too successfully done in the case of Prince Caraccioli, to which we have alluded in a preceding part of this work. Captain Troubridge, however, “out-manoeuvred” them, although some time elapsed before he could obtain the object of his desires. Writing to Nelson on this subject, he says:–
(April 4, 1799.) “I pray your Lordship to send an honest Judge here to try these miscreants on the spot, that some proper examples may be made: it. will be impossible to go on else, the villains encrease so fast on my hands, and the people are calling for justice. Eight or ten of them must be hung.”
(April 13.) “The Judge is arranging his papers; to-morrow he begins. 1 have given him good advice; he appears to me to be the poorest creature I; ever saw, and to be frightened out of his senses. He declares that seventy families are concerned; and talks of its being necessary to have a Bishop to degrade the Priests before he can execute them. I told him to hang them first, and if he did not think that degradation sufficient, to send them afterwards to me.”
(April 18.) “The Judge made an offer two days since, if I wished it, to pass sentence; but hinted that it would not be regular on some. I declined having any thing to do with it. By his conversation, I found his instructions were to go through it in a summary manner, and under me. I told him tire latter must be a mistake, as they were not British subjects.”
(May 7.) “My Lord: I have just had a long conversation with the t Judge. He tells me he shall finish his business next week; and that the custom with his profession is to return home the moment they have condemned. He says, he must be embarked immediately, and hinted at a man of war. I found also from his conversation, that the Priests must be sent to Palermo to be disgraced, by the King’s order, and then to be returned for execution to this place. An English man of war to perform all this: at the same time making application to me for a hangman, which I positively refused. If none could be found here, I desired he would send for one from Palermo. I see their drift: they want to make us the principals, and to throw all the odium upon us. I cannot form the least idea of their law cess as carried on against the prisoners; for the culprits are seldom present while the trial is proceeding. By the Judge’s account, he is making a rapid progress: several of the villains are very rich.”
Some of the loyalists, with the characteristic impetuosity of Italians, did not wait for the decision of a Judge, as appears by the following extraordinary letter which Captain Troubridge received early one morning, with his usual basket of grapes for breakfast, from the shore:
Salerno, April 26, 1799. Sir,– As a faithful subject of my King, Ferdinand IV., whom God preserve, I have the glory of presenting to your Excellency, the head of D. Charles Granozio di Giffoni, who was employed in the administration directed by the infamous Commissary Ferdinand Ruggi. The said Granozio was killed by me in a place called li Puggi, district of Ponte Cagnaro, as he was running away. I beg your Excellency to accept the said head, and consider this operation as a proof of my attachment to the Royal Crown. I am with due respect, the faithful subject of the King, J. M. V.”
So wretchedly were the affairs of the Sicilian government administered, that although the number of loyalists in Procida and Ischia, including emigrants from the main, amounted to at least 50,000 persons, a considerable period was allowed to elapse before any attention was paid to their wants, and had it not been for the flour with which they were supplied from the squadron, and the private stores, which the officers humanely distributed amongst them, many of those poor suffering creatures must actually have perished through hunger; all supplies from Naples and Castel-à-mare having been suspended immediately after the arrival of the British.
“The distress for bread is so great,” says Captain Troubridge, “that it would move even a Frenchman to pity. I am fairly worn out with fretting for the breach of my word given to the inhabitants, in consequence of her Majesty’s promise to me. Cannot a subscription be opened? I beg to put my name down for twenty ducats; I cannot afford more, or I would give more. I feed all I can from a large private stock I had, but that will not last long. No fault shall attach to us. Palermo is full of grain, as is the neighbourhood: the French, I fear, have more interest there than the King.” * * * “I know Strabia, and feel much hurt that I am made the tool of his deception. In short, my Lord, these islands must return under the French yoke, as I see the King’s Ministers are not to be relied on for supplies. I trust your Lordship will pardon my stating the case so plainly; but I think I should be highly culpable, if from delicacy I were to sacrifice the lives of 50,000 inhabitants.”
Even Nelson’s remonstrances on this occasion proved unavailing – the love of country was never yet cherished by a sordid courtier. Writing to Earl St. Vincent, the hero expressed himself as follows:– “This day brought me letters from dear Troubridge. He has been obliged to give all his flour to keep the inhabitants of the islands from starving. I have eternally been pressing for supplies, and have represented that 100,000l. given away just now in provisions might purchase a kingdom.”
Troubridge was in reality what he described a certain foreign Governor to be, whom he met with in the course of service; but whose name does not appear in the correspondence we are now making so free with:– “an honest man, who studied his Sovereign’s interest in every thing; without the little dirty policy of making money himself.” Not so the Sicilian grandee, whom we have just seen him charge with deception. That Strabia also deserved to be stigmatised as a peculator of the basest description, is very evident, at least to us; and the Rev. Cooper Willyams must have entertained a similar opinion, for at p. 184 of his publication respecting the battle of the Nile, &c., we find a passage to this effect:–
“The people at Procida being now in the utmost distress for bread, some provisions were sent to them from the British squadron. On the 13th, however, several vessels arrived from Sicily with corn for the islands of Procida and Ischia; but instead of a free competition to supply them with it, a particular grant was issued from the Crown for Prince Strabia to issue it solely: the consequence was, that it came in too small quantities to be of essential service, and the Prince was so exorbitant in his demands, that the poor were literally starving.”
Whilst Captain Troubridge was thus venting his just complaints against a corrupt administration, the ships under his orders were employed paving the way for a counter-revolution at Naples, by maintaining a close blockade, and thereby preventing corn or any other supplies from reaching that city by sea. The towns of Castel-à-mare and Salerno were occupied by detachments landed from the Minotaur, Swiftsure, and Zealous, but found untenable, on account of the enemy’s superior numbers. In retiring from the latter place, the British had several men killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.
In the evening of May 5, 1799, a powerful fleet from Brest entered the Mediterranean and proceeded towards Carthagena, for the purpose of forming a junction with the Spanish ships in that port, after which it was the enemy’s intention to embark a large body of troops at Toulon, to wrest Minorca from the English, raise the blockade of Naples, and make a joint attack upon Sicily. All those objects, however, were frustrated through the supineness of the Spaniards, and the vigilance of the British Admirals to the westward.
The enemy’s arrival within the Straits of Gibraltar was no sooner made known to Nelson, than he resolved to collect his line-of-battle ships, and cruise with them off Maritimo, in order to protect Sicily from the threatened invasion, and at the same time to cover the frigates and sloops left off Naples, under the command of Captain (now Vice-Admiral) Foote, to whose memoir we must refer our readers for a sketch of the occurrences on that station, from the period of his predecessor’s departure for Palermo, until the return of Ferdinand IV. to his capital, in the month of July following.
Although Ferdinand IV. had abandoned his capital, he was not wholly forsaken by his subjects; the inhabitants of the provinces, in particular, still retained an affection for their absent King, and were ready to sacrifice their lives in his cause.
Cardinal F. Ruffo was very assiduous in cherishing these loyal sentiments. This ecclesiastic, one of the most extraordinary characters of the age, had, in consequence of some disputes with the Pope, taken refuge at Naples, and been appointed Intendant of Caserta, an appointment by no means suitable to the dignity of the Roman purple. Having accompanied the King to Palermo, at a period when all the courtiers despaired of the restoration of the monarchy, he obtained leave to repair to Calabria, on purpose to erect the standard of royalty there. Although accompanied by five persons only when he landed at Scylla, this fortunate adventurer was soon joined by a number of inhabitants, headed by Don Reggio Renaldi, rector of Scalca, who had already organized an insurrection, and waited only the arrival of a chief, to direct the movements of his colleagues.
The warlike Cardinal, after collecting a number of new levies, in the capacity of General., recurred to his sacred functions as a priest, on purpose to arouse the fanaticism of a people whom he knew to be both superstitious and barbarous in the extreme. In virtue of his spiritual authority, he excommunicated all those who would not take up arms, while he enjoined every true catholic to wear a red cross in his hat, as a signal of faith, and promised such as might die in battle the immediate enjoyment of paradise. In addition to many of the peasantry, his Eminence was soon joined by a multitude of galley-slaves, criminals from the different gaols, and robbers who had infested the highway: these were immediately formed into divisions, under three chiefs; the first of whom was called Francisco Diabolo, a monk, who, after being expelled from his convent, became the leader of a desperate band of freebooters; the second was the gaoler of Salerno, who marched at the head of his prisoners; and the third, Panzanera, who, as reported, had committed fourteen acts of homicide. Such were the troops on whom Cardinal Ruffo bestowed the appellation of “The Christian Army;” himself assuming, at the same time, the designation of “His Sicilian Majesty’s Vicar-General and Vicegerent.” With this rabble he attacked and obtained possession of the towns of Avigliano, Cotrona, and Cantanzaro; after which he proceeded against Naples, and there acted in the reprehensible manner described by Captain Foote, when vindicating his conduct as senior officer on that station, during the absence of Captain Troubridge, in May and June, 1799. The subsequent operations against fort St. Elmo, Capua, Gaieta, Civita Vecchia, and Rome, are recorded at pp. 475 and 476 of our first volume.
In announcing to Nelson the surrender of Rome, the once celebrated capital of the world, Commodore Troubridge says:–
“The stuff the French proposed made me sick, the Ambassador was the cause of it; the thief is afraid to go to France; he would sooner stay where he is not wanted. He called the Roman territory the property of the French Republic by right of conquest; I settled that by saying, It’s mine by re-conquest, and he was silenced. I have sent Louis up to Bouchard to secure the tranquillity of Rome. The Austrians offered any terms, but I out-manoeuvred them, brought General Gamier on board the Culloden, and settled all, as your Lordship will see. I have received the greatest assistance from Captain Louis and Lieutenant Schomberg.”
In a letter dated Oct. 30, 1799, the Commodore informs Nelson, that a large quantity of artillery belonging to the King of the Two Sicilies, with his valuable geographical and marine plates, those of Herculaneum, and a variety of other articles of great value, were found at Civita Vecchia, to which port the Army of Naples had sent the plunder of that kingdom, on its way to France.
We next find the Minotaur bearing the flag of Lord Keith, off Genoa; where she continued until the surrender of that city to the combined forces of Great Britain and Austria, June 5, 1800.
On the 3d Sept. following, Lieutenant Schomberg commanded the Minotaur’s boats in a gallant and successful attack made upon two Spanish corvettes, off Barcelona, the particulars of which are given under the head of Capt. James Hillyar, C.B., the officer who conducted that enterprise.
Lieutenant Schomberg subsequently accompanied Lord Keith to the coast of Egypt, in the Foudroyant of 80 guns, to which ship he had been removed, on promotion, soon after the brilliant affair off Barcelona. During the Egyptian campaign he was appointed Flag Lieutenant to that officer, and sent to Grand Cairo for the purpose of keeping up a communication between his Lordship and the Turkish army. Whilst employed on that service, he received a notification of his advancement to the rank of Commander, arid appointment to the Termagant sloop of war, notwithstanding which, he continued with the Capitan Pacha until the termination of hostilities, when he joined the Charon, a 44-gun ship armed en flute, and assisted in conveying the French troops from Alexandria to Malta, on which service he was employed during the greater part of the peace of Amiens. We should here state that Captain Schomberg is one of the officers who received the gold medal of the Imperial Ottoman Order of the Crescent.
The evacuation of Egypt being at length completely effected, Captain Schomberg was next sent to Tunis, on a peculiarly delicate mission, the successful result of which induced Sir Alexander I. Ball, Governor of Malta, to present him with a handsome piece of plate, for his able conduct on that occasion. His post commission bears date Aug. 6, 1803.
From this period, Captain Schomberg commanded the Madras 54, stationed at Malta, till the spring of 1807. Lord Collingwood’s intention of removing him into l’Atheniene of 64 guns, having been frustrated by the melancholy disaster which happened to that ship on the 27 Oct. 1806.
The Madras being dismantled and laid up in Valette harbour, Captain Schomberg returned to England as a passenger on board some other ship, the name of which has escaped our memory. On his arrival, after an absence of more than ten years, he was appointed to the Hibernia, a first rate, destined for the flag of Sir W. Sidney Smith, and immediately despatched from Torbay, by Lord Gardner, to open a communication with the British Minister at Lisbon, and announce the approach of a squadron, sent to protect the royal House of Braganza from the insidious designs of Napoleon, whose myrmidons were then about to pass the Portuguese frontier. Tempestuous weather and baffling winds, however prevented Captain Schomberg from reaching his destination until the arrival of the other ships off the Tagus, and the negociations which ensued were consequently conducted under the immediate directions of Sir W. Sidney Smith, with whom he afterwards proceeded to Rio Janeiro, in his former ship, the Foudroyant.
The following extract from the Naval Chronicle throws considerable light on a subject that gave rise to many counter statements, and much diversity of opinion at the period we are now speaking of:
“Sometime in June last (1808) at Rio de Janeiro, the Prince of Brazil, talking over European news, in a circle of which two Captains and a Lieutenant of our Navy formed part, expressed himself somewhat indignantly at the London Gazette making him appear under the tuition of the English Chargé-d’-affairés, explaining that he had taken his decision to evacuate Portugal on the 25th November (1807), in consequence of a letter from the Admiral on the 22d: that he embarked on the 27th, and tried to sail on the 28th, but the wind was adverse, and would not let him leave the Tagus till the 29th. In point of fact, concluded the Prince, emphatically, ‘Je n’ai vû Milord S. qu’après le passage de la barre, J’ai sçu qu’il .”abord la Méduse, avec M. D’Aranjo; et je me suis levé à 4 heures pour le recevoir; mais il n’est pas venu. Et le vent étant bon, je lever l’ancre comme j’ déjà donné l’ordre; le premier Anglais que j’ai vû à cette époque le Capitaine Schomberg, envoyé de la part de l’Amiral
The period alluded to by the Prince, when speaking of Captain Schomberg, was the morning of the 29th, just after H.R.H. had passed the bar of Lisbon. Sir W. Sidney Smith had formed a line of battle, ordered his ships to be prepared for action, and sent Captain Schomberg to ascertain in what light the Portuguese were to be considered whether as friends or as enemies. If coming out with pacific intentions, he was directed to congratulate the Prince Regent, in the name of Sir W. Sidney Smith, on the wise measure he had adopted, and to assure H.R.H. that the British squadron was ready to afford him protection. The interview proved most gratifying to both parties; and the Prince, at a subsequent date, decorated Captain Schomberg with the insignia of a K.T.S., on account of his having been the first Englishman whom he saw on that memorable occasion.
About the commencement of 1809, several changes took place in the squadron at Rio Janeiro, which do not appear to have been sanctioned by the Admiralty. Amongst others was the removal of Captain Schomberg from the Foudrpyant to the President; Captain Adam Mackenzie of that frigate having been appointed to succeed Captain James Walker, in the Bedford 74. At the expiration of several months, the latter officer returned to Brazil by order of the Board, and Captain Mackenzie being likewise directed to rejoin his proper ship, Captain Schomberg had the mortification to find himself unexpectedly deprived of command; his friend, Sir W. Sidney Smith, having previously been relieved by Rear-Admiral De Courcy. He was consequently obliged to return home, as a passenger, in the Elizabeth, of 74 guns, commanded by the Hon. Henry Curzon, with whom he arrived at Spithead, in April 1810.
Captain Schomberg’s next appointment was, about July, 1810, to the Astraea, a contract-built frigate, rated at 36 guns, and fitting for the Cape of Good Hope, to which station he proceeded in company with the Scipion 74, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Stopford, by whom he was detached, with the Phoebe frigate under his orders, to reinforce the squadron employed off Mauritius, where he continued for some time as senior officer during the absence of Captain Philip Beaver, who had gone to India, for the purpose of collecting treasure. Captain Schomberg’s hard fought action with a French squadron, near Madagascar, is thus described in his official letter, dated May 21, 1811:
“Sir, I had the honor of communicating to you, from off Round Island, my determination to quit that station, in order to follow the three enemy’s frigates with troops on board, which had appeared off Mauritius on the 7th instant, and also my reasons for supposing they would push for a near point, perhaps Tamatave.
“I have now the satisfaction to report to you, that the enemy were discovered on the morning of the 20th instant, far to windward, and well in with the land, near Foul Point, Madagascar. The signal to chase was promptly obeyed by H. M. ships Phoebe, Galatea, and Racehorse sloop. The weather was most vexatiously variable during the whole of the day, which, combined with the efforts of the enemy to keep to windward, rendered it impossible to close them till nearly 4 o’clock, when the Astraea being about a mile a-head and to windward, they wore together, kept away, and evinced a disposition to bring us to action. The enemy then commenced firing; I regret to say at a long range, which soon so effectually produced a calm to leeward, as to render our squadron unmanageable for three hours. No exertion was omitted to bring his Majesty’s ships into close action, during this very critical and trying period, but all was ineffectual. The enemy’s rear frigate neared the Astraea a little, while she lay on the water, almost immoveable; only occasionally bringing guns to bear. His van and centre ships, preserving a light air, succeeded in rounding the quarters of the Phoebe and Galatea, raking them, with considerable effect, for a long time.
“At this, his favourite distance, the enemy remained until nearly dark, when a light breeze enabled the Phoebe to close the nearest frigate, in a good position to bring her to a decisive action. In half an hour she was beaten. Her night signals drew the other two frigates to her assistance; the Phoebe was, in consequence, obliged to follow the Galatea, which ship brought up the breeze to me. At this time I was hailed by Captain Losack, who informed me, that the Galatea had suffered very considerably, and, as she was passing under my lee, I had the mortification to see her mizen, and, soon after, her fore-top-masts fall. Having shot a-head, she made the night signal of distress, and being in want of immediate assistance; I closed to ascertain the cause, when I was again hailed by Captain Losack, and informed, that the Galatea was so totally disabled as to prevent her head being put towards the enemy to renew the action, as I before had directed.
“My determination was immediately communicated to Captain Hillyar, to recommence action when the Phoebe was in a state to support me. She was promptly reported ready, although much disabled. The Astraea then wore, and led towards the enemy, followed by the Racehorse and Phoebe; the conduct of which ship, as a British man of war, did honor to all on board. The enemy was soon discovered a little a-head, and his leading ship, the Commodore, was brought to close action by the Astraea. In 25 minutes she struck, and made the signal to that effect, having previously attempted to lay us athwart hawse, under a heavy fire of grape and musketry from all parts of the ship. Another frigate, on closing, struck, and made the signal also; but, on a shot being fired at her, from her late Commodore, she was observed trying to escape. Chase was instantly given, and continued till 2 A.M., with all the sail both ships were enabled, from their disabled state, to carry; when I judged it advisable, as she gained on us, to wear for the purpose of covering the captured ship, and forming a junction, if possible, with the Galatea. At this moment, the Phoebe’s fore-top-mast fell; sight of the Galatea or captured ship was not regained until day light, when, to the credit of Lieutenants Royer (second of the Astraea) and Drury (R.M.), who, with five men, were all that could be put on board the latter in a sinking boat, she was observed making an effort to join us, a perfect wreck.
“The captured frigate proves to be la Renommée, of the first class (as are the other two), of 44 guns, and 470 men, (200 of whom were picked troops,) commanded by Capitaine de Vaisseau Roquebert, officier de la Legion d’Honneur, holding the rank of Commodore, who fell while gallantly fighting his ship. The senior officer of the troops, Colonel Barrois, membre de la Legion d’Honneur, is dangerously wounded. The ship that struck and escaped, was la Clorinde ; the one disabled by the Phoebe, la Nereide; having each 200 troops on board, besides their crews.
“This squadron escaped from Brest in the night of the 2d Feb., and was destined to reinforce Mauritius, having arms and various other warlike stores on board.
“I beg to apologize for so lengthened a detail; but few actions have been fought under such a variety of peculiarly trying and vexatious difficulties. I am, however, called upon by my feelings, and a sense of my duty, to bear testimony to the meritorious conduct of the officers and ships’ companies of H.M. ships Phoebe and Astraea. To the discipline of the former I attribute much; but as Captain Hillyar’s merit as an officer is so generally, and, by you, so particularly appreciated, it is needless for me to comment on it, further than to observe, that the separation of the Galatea was amply compensated by the exertion manifested in the conduct of the ship he had the honour to command.
“To the officers, seamen, and marines of the Astrsea, I am for ever indebted; their cool and steady conduct, when in close action with the enemy, and on fire in several places from his wadding, merit my admiration (particularly as the ship’s company have been so recently formed). A difference in the personal exertion of each officer was not distinguishable; but I cannot allow the efforts and judgment of Lieutenant John Baldwin, first of this ship, to pass without particular encomium; I received the greatest assistance from him, and also from Mr. Nellson, the master.
“The moment the Phoebe and Astraea are in a state to get to windward, the prisoners exchanged, and la Renommée rendered sea-worthy, I shall proceed off Tamatave for further information, as I have reason to think it in possession of the enemy.
“I have the honour to transmit returns of the killed and wounded on board H.M. ships. The loss on board la Renommée is excessive – 145 killed and wounded. Galatea having parted company, no return . I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“C. M. Schomberg.”
“To Captain Beaver, H.M.S. Nisus,
Senior Officer at the Isle of France.”
The subsequent recovery of Tamatave, a small settlement in Madagascar, and the capture of the Phoebe’s late opponent la Nereide, is reported by the subject of this memoir to the same officer in the following terms:
H.M.S. Astreea, Tamatave, May 28, 1811.
“Sir,– In my letter of the 20th instant, detailing the action between his. Majesty’s ships under my orders and those of the enemy, I had the honor to inform you, that it was my intention to reconnoitre this port, as I had received information that the enemy had landed and surprised the garrison on his first arrival on the coast.
"The state of H.M. ships Astraea and Phoebe did not admit of their beating up quickly against the currents and very variable winds; the Racehorse sloop was therefore despatched in advance, to summon the garrison of Tamatave to surrender immediately.
"On the evening of the 24th, Captain De Rippe rejoined me, reporting his having seen a large frigate anchored in that port; a strong gale prevented H.M. ships from getting in sight of her until the afternoon of the 25th, when every thing being ready to force the anchorage, I stood in, and observed an enemy’s frigate, placed in a most judicious position within the reefs of the port, for the purpose of enfilading the narrow passage between them, supported by a strong fort in her van, within half musket-shot, full of troops; there were also new works in forwardness, to flank the anchorage.
“Not having any body of local knowledge in either of H.M. ships, and it being almost impracticable to sound the passage between the reefs, which was intricate, and completely exposed to the whole concentrated fire of the enemy within grape distance, I judged it expedient, under existing circumstances, (both ships being full of prisoners, and having a proportion of men absent in la Renommée, besides sick and wounded,) to defer, until necessary, risking his Majesty’s ships. I therefore summoned the garrison and frigate to surrender immediately; when, after the usual intercourse of flag of truce, I have the honor to inform you, that the port of Tamatave, its dependencies, the frigate and vessels in the port, together with the late garrison (a detachment of the 22d regiment), were surrendered to, and taken possession of, by H.M. ships under my orders. I was induced to grant the terms, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose, in order to prevent the destruction of the fort of Tamatave, the frigate and the vessels a measure they intended to adopt.
“The enemy’s frigate proves to be la Nereide, of 44 guns, and 470 men, lately commanded by Capitaine le Maresquier, Membre de la Legion d’Honneur, who fell in the action of the 20th instant, in which she suffered very considerably, having had 130 men killed and wounded. She was much engaged by the Phoebe.
“The crew of la Nereide. together with the French garrison of Tamatave, I intend sending to Mauritius as soon as possible, 50 excepted, who are too severely wounded to survive removal. The whole detachment of H.M. 22d regiment retaken, being ill of the endemic fever of this country, I mean to embark on board la Nereide, so soon as she is in a state to receive them; when, after having dismantled the fort, and embarked the guns, &c. I shall proceed with her, under convoy, to Mauritius, in company with the Phoebe. I have the honor to be, &c.
(Signed)“C. M. Schomberg.”
“To Captain Beaver, &c. &c. &c.
Articles of Capitulation
I. “La Nereide frigate, together with all the vessels and property at Tamatave, the fort, &c. of the said place, shall be surrendered without injury to his Britannic Majesty’s ships under my command.
II. “The officers, crews, and troops, now actually at Tamatave, or on board la Nereide, shall be sent, as soon as possible, to Mauritius, and from thence be conveyed to France, without being considered as prisoners of war; the officers and petty officers only shall keep their swords.
III. “The wounded shall remain at Tamatave, under the care of a French Surgeon, until they are recovered, when they shall be sent to France by the first opportunity.”
On the demise of Captain Beaver, which took place in April, 1813, Captain Schomberg was appointed to the Nisus, a 38-gun frigate; and shortly afterwards sent from the Cape station to Brazil, from whence he convoyed home a large fleet of merchantmen, collected by him at Rio Janeiro, St. Salvador, and Pernambuco. This service, although it afforded him no opportunity of enhancing his reputation in a military point of view, must still be considered as one of great importance, the French Emperor having at that moment made his final effort to cripple English commerce, by sending 13 frigates of the largest class, from different ports in the channel to cruise in the tracks of our homeward bound convoys. The immense value of the fleet under Captain Schomberg’s protection may be inferred from the circumstance of 2 frigates and 2 sloops being ordered by Sir Manley Dixon, commander-in-chief at Brazil, to accompany him to the northward as far as the equator; from Captain Schomberg having deemed it expedient, in consequence of the numerous American armed vessels then at sea, to exceed his instructions by withdrawing the brigs from their station and bringing them with him to England; and from the Board of Admiralty fully approving of a measure which nothing but the most pressing necessity can ever justify.
The Nisus arrived at Portsmouth in Mar. 1814, and after being docked, was preparing to join the fleet on the coast of North America, when orders suddenly arrived to put her out of commission, and to shift her masts into the Menelaus frigate, commanded by Sir Peter Parker, Bart, who was subsequently employed on the very service which Captain Schomberg had considered as marked out for himself: Sir Peter, it will be remembered, was killed near Baltimore, in Sept. 1814.
Captain Schomberg obtained the insignia of a C.B. in 1815; and was appointed to the Rochfort 80, fitting for the flag of Sir Graham Moore, April 15, 1820. He returned from the Mediterranean with that officer in Mar. 1824, and was paid off at Chatham on the 20th of the following month.
- Sir Alexander Schomberg obtained the rank of Lieutenant, Dec. 11. 1747; and was made a Post-Captain, into the Richmond frigate, April 5, 1757. He commanded the Diana of 32 guns, at the reduction of Quebec, in 1759, [[[Royal_Naval_Biography/Chambers, William#v2p1_p4|See note at p. 4,]]] and greatly distinguished himself during the siege of that important fortress by a French army, under Mons. Levi, in May 1760.
The enemy being repulsed in their attempt to recover possession of Quebec, Captain Schomberg was selected by Lord Colville, the naval commander-in-chief, to carry home the tidings of their defeat; and on his arrival, the King (George II.) desired the Admiralty to give him the command of the Essex, a new 64-gun ship, in which he was employed under the orders of Sir Edward Hawke, and H.R.H. the Duke of York, until the conclusion of hostilities, in Feb. 1763. He was appointed to the Lord Lieutenant’s yacht in Dec. 1771; and continued to command her till his demise, which took place about the spring of 1804.
Sir Alexander was uncle to the late Commissioner Isaac Schomberg, who served as first Lieutenant under the veteran Cornwallis, in the memorable battle between Rodney and de Grasse; also under the command of H.R.H. Prince William Henry, in the Pegasus of 28 guns; and who commanded the Culloden, 74, in Lord Howe’s engagement, June 1, 1794. The Commissioner died at Chelsea, Jan. 20, 1813.
- Vice-Admiral Macbride retired from his command in the North Sea, towards the close of 1796, at which period Mr. Schomberg was serving as first Lieutenant of the Rattler; and he does not appear ever afterwards to have hoisted his flag. He became an Admiral of the Blue, Feb. 14, 1799; and died at the Spring Garden Coffee House, London, Feb. 17, 1800. It was in consequence of his recommendation that the experiment of arming line-of-battle ships with heavy carronades, instead of long 9-pounders, on the quarter-deck and forecastle, was first tried on board the Minotaur. See James’s Nav. Hist. Vol. II. p. 126.
- Captains Thomas Foley, Samuel Hood, Sir James Saumarez, Davidge Gould, and Ralph Willet Miller, of the Goliath, Zealous, Orion, Audacious, and Theseus; which ships had anchored within the enemy’s line.
- The Alexander, Swiftsure, and Leander, it will be remembered, did not close with the enemy until a considerable time after the commencement of the action.
- The above passage in italics is extracted from a memoir of Sir Thomas Louis, published in the Naval Chronicle (1806).
- See Vol. I. note † at p. 838.
- The principal Tuscan traitor was the Marquis Manfredini, who endeavoured to make his countrymen believe that all the horrors of war and the loss of their property were inevitable, if the good will of the “Great Nation” were not purchased. This jacobin had been tutor to the Grand Duke, and was at that period his Prime Minister.
The disgraceful flight of the Neapolitans from Rome, to which city they had advanced for the avowed purpose of restoring the Pope, has been briefly noticed in our memoir of Sir Benjamin Hallowell, K.C.B. See Vol. I. note † at p. 472.
- General Championet entered Naples on the 23d Jan. 1799, but not without great opposition on the part of the Lazzaroni, who although half-starved, nearly naked, wholly undisciplined, and without a leader of the least rank, displayed considerable resolution, even when the republican army and its artillery had obtained possession of the principal streets.
At this critical period, Championet thought he might meet the superstitious ideas of this loyal body, by publishing an account of his regard for their national patron, St. Januarius! This had the desired effect; his conversion flew like lightning through the city, and did more in his favour than all the ammunition he had expended. One of their chiefs delivered an oration, ordered them to cease firing, and to lay down their arms. He was listened to with reverence, and obeyed with alacrity. The horrors of war were followed by acclamations of joy, and the French General’s hand was kissed in token of submission.
Thus suddenly the Lazzaroni became the advocates of republicanism. They plundered the royal palace, which but a short time before they would have defended to the last extremity; and were with difficulty restrained from committing still greater excesses. Championet left the city in charge of General Duhesme, and encamped his army on the adjacent heights.. Having disarmed the inhabitants, the French commander, in person, proclaimed to his troops, that henceforth they should be styled “The Army of Naples;” which decree was accompanied by the shouts of the multitude and a tremendous discharge of cannon.
The clergy and many of the nobles celebrated this event. Even the Cardinal Archbishop paid servile court to the invaders, and actually practised fraud to complete the overthrow of monarchy. In consequence of long and earnest prayers, the phial, which contained a precious portion of the patron saint, so much respected by the inhabitants, exhibited undoubted marks of miraculous interposition, an event immediately communicated to the credulous multitude. After this, a day was appointed for a solemn Te Deum, when the citizens were to return thanks for the glorious entry of the French troops, who had come to “regenerate the nation, and consolidate its happiness” – to promulgate the blasphemous tenets of a frenzied republic, and to reduce all classes to one common level. At the, same time the traitorous prelate intimated, that St. Januarius had greeted their arrival in the kindest manner, “his blood having miraculously liquefied in the evening of that very day on which the French forces had taken up their abode in the capital*.” Immediately alter this, Naples was proclaimed a commonwealth, under the designation of “The Parthenopean Republic,” and the provisional government confided to twenty-one citizens, chosen by Championet.
- St. Januarius was subsequently punished far his jacobinism. See Vol. I. note * at p. 280.
- Salicetti was a native of Corsica, a disciple of Robespierre, a Member of the Council of 500, and an avowed enemy of Italy.
- See Vol. I. p. 839.
- The King of Sardinia was constrained to perform an act of still greater degradation when he signed an act of abdication, dictated by the republican General Joubert, Dec. 9, 1798. Stipulating only for the exercise of the Catholic religion for his subjects, the security of his own person, and the enjoyment of liberty and property for the Prince de Carignan; the ill-fated monarch was obliged to renounce the exercise of all his power and authority on the continent, to order the Piedmontese troops to consider themselves as belonging to the French army, and to surrender the citadel of Turin, as a pledge that no resistance whatever should be attempted against an act “which emanated purely from his own will.”
- See Vol. I. p. 565.
- See Vol. I. note ‡ at p. 483.
- See Vol. I. pp. 560–566.
- Gaieta surrendered to Captain Louis, Aug. 2, 1799; and the French garrison, consisting of 5,000 men, were embarked under the superintendence of Lieutenant Schomberg, during the night of the 3d. In that fortress were taken 70 battering guns, mostly brass, 19 mortars, and 2 field-pieces of the same metal.
- Captain Louis was the first Englishman who ever governed Rome. During his absence the Minotaur remained off Civita Vecchia, under the command of Lieutenant Schomberg, who likewise arranged the embarkation of the French troops.
- See Vol. I. p. 53. N.B. Lieutenant Schomberg was the bearer of all the flags of truce sent by Lord Keith to General Massena, whilst negotiating for the evacuation of Genoa.
- See p. 850, of this Volume.
- The proceedings of the Anglo-Turkish flotilla are described at pp. 462, et seq.
- See note at p. 849.
- See Nav. Chron. v. 21, note * at p. 380.
- The closing of the Portuguese ports against British vessels, the departure of our Chargé-d’-affairés from Lisbon, the emigration of the House of Braganza, and the revival of the ancient Military Order of the Tower and Sword, by the Prince Regent in compliment to his allies, are subjects already noticed at pp. 319, 321, 537, and 852, of our first volume.
- La Clorinde returned to Brest, Sept. 24, 1811; and in March following, her Commander, Mons. St. Crieq was dismissed from the French service, and the Legion of Honor; and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, for misconduct in the action, and subsequent disobedience of orders. Napoleon Buonaparte, when on his way to Elba in the Undaunted, said to Captain Ussher, “I did all I could to have St. Crieq shot, but he was tried by French naval officers! Had he done his duty, the English squadron would have fallen into our hands.– Roquebert was a brave man; so was le Maresquier” (the Captain of la Nereide).
Finding on his return to France that M. St. Crieq had been restored to his rank by Louis XVIII. Napoleon ordered him to be again confined, and he continued in prison during the short reign of that usurper. His account of la Clorinde’s proceedings will be found in the Naval Chronicle, vol. 26, pp. 388–394.
- Astraea and Phoebe’s joint loss 9 killed, 40 wounded, one man died soon after the action, and two others were in a very dangerous state when Captain Schomberg closed his report.
- See Captain Woodley Losack.
- The above Articles were signed by Captain Schomberg and the senior surviving officers of la Nereide.
- See Nav. Chron. Vol. 36, p. 42.