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War StoriesThe Story Of Lord Rodney
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. George Brydges Rodney was born at Walt...
Off Cape Finisterre
Towards the end of the year 1746 the French ministry came t...
The Story Of Admiral The Honourable John Byng
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. The honourable John Byng was the fourt...
The Story Of Sir Francis Drake
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Francis Drake is said to have been bor...
The Voyage Made To Tripolis In Barbary
IN THE YEAR 1583, WITH A SHIP CALLED THE "JESUS," WHEREIN T...
The Bombardment Of Copenhagen
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. In the year 1801, Nelson, who had bee...
The Loss Of The Royal George
BY G. H. WALKER. When the brave die in battle, the ardou...
Stories Of The Second Dutch War
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. I. THE DEFEAT OF THE DUTCH OFF HARWICH...
A Saxon Chronicle
The founders of the English nation were a maritime people. ...
The Story Of Sir George Rooke
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. THE LOSS OF THE SMYRNA FLEET OFF ST. V...
A True Report Of A Worthy Fight
PERFORMED IN THE VOYAGE FROM TURKEY BY FIVE SHIPS OF LONDON...
The Mutiny Of The Bounty
The circumstances detailed in the following narrative are a...
The Loss Of Hms Namur
BY JAMES ALMS. On July 15th, 1747, Captain Boscawen was ...
The Destruction Of The Algerine Navy
On the conclusion of the Dutch war it became necessary to r...
The Story Of Sir John Hawkins
AND THE TROUBLESOME VOYAGE MADE WITH THE JESUS OF LUBECK, T...
Triumph In Retreat
A STORY OF "BILLY BLUE." After the defeat of the French ...
The Story Of Nelson's Boyhood
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. Horatio Nelson, son of Edmund and Cat...
The Story Of Captain Hornby And The French Privateer
The difficulties under which merchantmen carried on their t...
The Story Of Santa Cruz
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. About the middle of the year 1797 Nel...
The Story Of Admiral Blake
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Robert Blake, who became the admiral o...
The Destruction Of The Algerine Navy
On the conclusion of the Dutch war it became necessary to restore order
on the high seas by destroying the pirates who had taken advantage of
the disturbed condition of things to prey upon English and Dutch
commerce; and with this view Charles II. sent Sir Thomas Allen with a
stout squadron into the Mediterranean to repress the Algerines, and the
Dutch sent Admiral Van Ghent with a squadron to secure their trade. Van
Ghent having engaged six corsairs, forced them to fly to their own
coasts, where probably they would have escaped if Commodore Beach with
four English frigates had not fallen upon them, and, after a close
chase, obliged them to run aground. In this situation they were attacked
by the English and Dutch in their boats; and, being abandoned by their
respective crews, were all taken, and a great number of Christian slaves
of different nations released. The English commodore presented sixteen
Dutch slaves to Admiral Van Ghent, and received from him twenty English
by way of exchange; but the Algerine ships being leaky, they were burnt.
The same year some of our frigates attacked seven of the enemy's best
ships near Cape Gaeta. The admiral and vice-admiral of the Algerines
carried fifty-six guns each; their rear-admiral, the biggest ship in the
squadron, carried sixty, and the least forty. Yet after a sharp
engagement the vice-admiral sank, and the rest were forced to retire,
most of them miserably disabled. At the close of the year 1669 Captain
Kempthorne, afterwards Sir John, in the Mary Rose, a small frigate,
engaged seven Algerine men-of-war; and, after a very warm action,
forced them to sheer off, being in no condition to continue the fight
It is somewhat extraordinary that, considering the Dutch, as well as the
English, were concerned in attacking these pirates, we have no better
account of the war that was carried on against them, or of the force
they employed, than we are left to collect as we can, from scattered
accounts of particular engagements. In 1668 their navy only consisted of
twenty-four ships, great and small--that is, from about fifty to twenty
guns: and they had likewise six new ships of force upon the stocks. Yet
this pitiful enemy continued to disturb, and even to distress the
commerce of both the maritime powers for several years.
At last Sir Edward Spragge was sent with a strong squadron of men-of-war
and frigates to put an end to the war.
Spragge sailed from England, on this expedition, in the spring of the
year 1671, with five frigates and three fire-ships, uniting his fleet
with a squadron of as many more ships already at sea; so that, in all,
his fleet consisted of about twelve sail. In the latter end of the month
of April he had intelligence that there were several Algerine men-of-war
in Bugia Bay; on which he called a council of war, when it was resolved
that he ought immediately to attack them. In pursuance of this
resolution he sailed thither, but, in his passage, had the misfortune to
have the Eagle fire-ship disabled by a storm; and soon after, one of
his ships springing her main mast, was obliged to bear away for the
Spanish shore. Sir Edward, however, persisted in his design, refitted
the Eagle, and bore into the bay of Bugia with a brisk gale, not
doubting that he should be able to fire the ships; but by the time they
got within half-shot of the castle and forts it fell a dead calm, and
when the wind rose again it proved contrary.
On May 2nd they were able to do nothing for the same reason, the wind
changing every half hour; upon which, Sir Edward resolved to make an
attempt upon them in the night with his boats and the smallest of his
fire-ships, which rowed as well as a long-boat. About twelve o'clock
that night he executed his project, sending in all his boats, and the
Eagle fire-ship, under the command of his eldest lieutenant, Mr.
Nugent; but the night proving very dark, and the high land obscuring the
ships as they drew near them, they passed by; and Lieutenant Nugent
leaving one of the boats with the fire-ships, besides her own, rowed in
to discover the enemy leaving orders with the captain of the fire-ship
to come to an anchor in case he found shoal water. The lieutenant had
not left them a minute before he perceived himself within pistol-shot of
the ships; and, concluding the business now as good as done, steered off
again to find the fire-ship, and, to his amazement, saw her in flames.
The enemy taking the alarm at this, the lieutenant was forced to retire
with his boats; and so this promising enterprise, which had given hopes
of burning the Algerine men-of-war, without the loss of a man,
miscarried. The next day the enemy unrigged all their ships and made a
strong boom with their yards, top masts, and cables, buoyed up with
casks, for which they had all the leisure and convenience they could
wish, the wind hindering the English from doing anything; and, to try
the admiral's patience to the very utmost, it so fell out that a drunken
gunner firing a pistol, his other small fire-ship was destroyed; so that
he had now none left but the Little Victory, which drew too much water
to enter that part of the bay where the Algerines lay.
On Monday, May 8th, 1671, there appeared a considerable body of horse
and foot in the neighbourhood of the bay, and this was soon after
discovered to be an escort to a very large convoy of ammunition sent
from Algiers to the ships; on the safe arrival of which they fired all
their cannon, to testify their joy. Sir Edward Spragge considering this,
and not knowing what future reinforcements they might receive, resolved
to take the earliest opportunity of making his last and utmost effort;
and, in order thereto, directed the Victory to be lightened, so that
she might not draw above eight feet. About noon there sprang up a fine
breeze to the east; upon which the admiral gave the signal for the
men-of-war to draw into a line and bear up into the bay; but
immediately after the wind sank again, and they began to despair of
About two the gale sprang up again, and the ships bore in as they were
directed. The admiral came to an anchor in four fathom of water, close
under the walls of their castle, which fired upon him continually for
two hours. In this interim he sent in his own pinnace and those of the
Mary and the Dragon; these cut the boom, though not without
considerable loss. The lieutenant who commanded the Mary's boat's crew
had eight wounded with himself; Lieutenant Pierce of the Dragon was
also wounded, with ten of his men, and one killed. In the admiral's own
pinnace there were seven killed, and all the rest wounded, except Mr.
Harman, who commanded it.
The boom being cut, the fire-ship went in, and getting up athwart their
bowsprits, their ships being a-ground, and fast to the castles, she
burnt very well and destroyed them all. Captain Harris, who commanded
her, his master's mate, gunner, and one of his seamen were desperately
wounded with small shot, and this at their entrance; so that probably
the whole design would have proved abortive if the admiral had not with
great prudence commissioned Henry Williams, then one of his master's
mates, but who had formerly commanded the Rose fire-ship, to take the
charge of the vessel in case the captain was disabled; which he did
accordingly, and performed all that could be expected from him.
This loss was irreparable to the Algerines, who had picked out the seven
men-of-war that were here burnt, on purpose to fight Sir Edward Spragge,
and furnished them with their best brass ordnance from on board all the
rest of their vessels, and between eighteen and nineteen hundred chosen
men double-officered, under the command of old Terkey, their admiral. Of
this force between three and four hundred men were killed; the castle
and town were miserably shattered; and a vast number of people slain and
wounded; and, what much increased the misfortune, all their surgeons'
chests were burnt on board their ships, so that numbers died for want
of having their wounds dressed. Besides the men-of-war there were burnt
a Genoese ship, a small English prize, and a settee.
In this engagement Sir Edward Spragge had only seventeen men killed and
forty-one wounded. This and other misfortunes caused such a tumult among
the Algerines that they murdered their dey and chose another, by whom
peace was concluded to the satisfaction of the English on December 9th,
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