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Title: Famous Sea Fights - From Salamis to Tsu-Shima
Author: Hale, John Richard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Transcriber's Notes:

    Italics have been marked with underscores, like '_this_'.
    oe ligature has been changed to 'oe'.
    In "triêres" and "Triêres", the 'ê' stands for an 'e' with a macron.

    Changes:
    p.23: "Platea" changed to "Platæa"
    p.23: "Leothychides" changed to "Leotychides"
    p.27: Footnote 2: "see Chapter XIII" changed to "see Chapter XI"
    p.67: "1494" changed to "1396", for the battle of Nicopolis took
      place on 25 September, 1396, not in 1494
    p.71: "Nicosis" changed to "Nicosia"
    p.126: "Reganzona" changed to "Regazona"
    p.145: Caption: "Vanderelde" changed to "Vandervelde"
    p.152: "ninety two" changed to "ninety-two"
    p.162: comma after "off San Domingo" changed to period
    p.227 Footnote 18: comma removed after "Worden"
    pp.300, 301: "Sevastopol" changed to "Sebastopol"
    p.308: "Admiral Seniavine" changed to "Admiral Senyavin"
    p.341: "Swir" changed to "Svir" (two times)
    p.345: Index: "Bragadino, Ambrosio" changed to "Bragadino,
      Ambrogio"
    p.348: Index: "Monceda" changed to "Moncada" (admiral of the
      galeasses in the armada)
    p.349: Index: "Valdes, Diego Flores de, admira" changed to
      "Valdes, Diego Flores de, admiral"



    [Illustration: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR
    From an engraving by W. Miller from the painting by C.
    Stanfield, R.A.]



    FAMOUS SEA FIGHTS

    FROM SALAMIS TO TSU-SHIMA

    BY

    JOHN RICHARD HALE

    WITH THIRTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS
    AND SEVENTEEN PLANS

    BOSTON
    LITTLE, BROWN, & COMPANY
    1911



    INTRODUCTION


Three hundred years ago Francis Bacon wrote, amongst other wise words: "To
be Master of the Sea is an Abridgement of Monarchy.... The Bataille of
Actium decided the Empire of the World. The Bataille of Lepanto arrested
the Greatnesse of the Turke. There be many Examples where Sea-Fights have
been Finall to the Warre. But this much is certaine; that hee that commands
the Sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the
Warre as he will. Whereas those, that be strongest by land, are many times
neverthelesse in great Straights. Surely, at this Day, with us of Europe,
the Vantage of Strength at Sea (which is one of the Principall Dowries of
this Kingdome of Greate Brittaine) is Great; Both because Most of the
Kingdomes of Europe are not merely Inland, but girt with the Sea most part
of their Compasse; and because the Wealth of both Indies seemes in great
Part but an Accessary to the Command of the Seas."[1]

    [1] Bacon's Essay on "The Greatness of Kingdoms," first
    published in 1597. The extract is from the edition of 1625.

The three centuries that have gone by since this was written have afforded
ample confirmation of the view here set forth, as to the importance of
"Battailes by Sea" and the supreme value of the "Command of the Sea." Not
only "we of Europe," but our kindred in America and our allies in Far
Eastern Asia have now their proudly cherished memories of decisive naval
victory.

I propose to tell in non-technical and popular language the story of some
of the most remarkable episodes in the history of sea power. I shall begin
with the first sea-fight of which we have a detailed history--the Battle of
Salamis (B.C. 480), the victory by which Themistocles the Athenian proved
the soundness of his maxim that "he who commands the sea commands all." I
shall end with the last and greatest of naval engagements, the Battle of
Tsu-shima, an event that reversed the long experience of victory won by
West over East, which began with Salamis more than two thousand years ago.
I shall have to tell of British triumphs on the sea from Sluys to
Trafalgar; but I shall take instances from the history of other countries
also, for it is well that we should remember that the skill, enterprise,
and courage of admirals and seamen is no exclusive possession of our own
people.

I shall incidentally describe the gradual evolution of the warship from the
wooden, oar-driven galleys that fought in the Straits of Salamis to the
steel-built, steam-propelled giants that met in battle in the Straits of
Tsu-shima. I shall have something to say of old seafaring ways, and much to
tell of the brave deeds done by men of many nations. These true stories of
the sea will, I trust, have not only the interest that belongs to all
records of courage, danger, and adventure, but also some practical lessons
of their own, for they may help to keep alive that intelligent popular
interest in sea power which is the best guarantee that the interests of our
own navy--the best safeguard of the Empire--will not be neglected, no
matter what Government is in power, or what political views may happen for
the moment to be in the ascendant.

                                                           J.R.H.



    CONTENTS

                                                         PAGE

    INTRODUCTION                                           v


      PERIOD OF OAR AND CLOSE FIGHTING

  CHAPTER

     I. SALAMIS, B.C. 480                                  1

    II. ACTIUM, B.C. 31                                   25

   III. SVOLD ISLAND, A.D. 1000                           40

    IV. SLUYS, 1340                                       55

     V. LEPANTO, 1571                                     67


      PERIOD OF SAIL AND GUN

    VI. THE ARMADA, 1588                                 105

   VII. OFF THE GUNFLEET, 1666                           142

  VIII. THE SAINTS' PASSAGE, 1782                        158

    IX. TRAFALGAR, 1805                                  173


      PERIOD OF STEAM, ARMOUR, AND RIFLED ARTILLERY

     X. HAMPTON ROADS, 1862                              206

    XI. LISSA, 1866                                      231

   XII. THE YALU, 1894                                   252

  XIII. SANTIAGO, 1898                                   277

   XIV. TSU-SHIMA, 1905                                  297



    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR                           _Frontispiece_
    From an engraving by W. Miller from the painting
    by C. Stanfield, R.A.

                                                      FACING PAGE
  ROMAN WARSHIPS                                               32
    After the paintings found at Pompeii.

  A VIKING FLEET                                               48
    From a drawing by Paul Hardy. By permission of
    Cassell and Co.

  A MEDITERRANEAN GALLEY OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY              67
    From an engraving by J. P. le Bas, _Mediterranean Craft
    of the Sixteenth Century_.

  A MEDITERRANEAN CARRACK OR FRIGATE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY  67
    From an engraving by Tomkins, _Mediterranean Craft of
    the Sixteenth Century_.

  GALLEYS OF THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA IN ACTION WITH
  TURKISH GALLEYS                                              80
    From an engraving at the British Museum.

  THE "GREAT ARMADA" ENTERING THE CHANNEL                     112
    From the drawing of W. H. Overend. By permission of
    the _Illustrated London News_.

  THE "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS," LAUNCHED 1637                  144
    A typical warship of the middle of the seventeenth
    century. After the painting by Vandervelde.

  GUNS AND CARRONADES IN USE IN THE BRITISH NAVY IN
  THE LATTER PART OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                   158
    From drawings at the British Museum.

  A THREE-DECKER OF NELSON'S TIME                             173
    From an engraving at the British Museum.

  H.M.S. "WARRIOR"--THE FIRST BRITISH IRONCLAD                212
    From a photograph by Symonds and Co.

  THE BATTLE OF HAMPTON ROADS. THE "MERRIMAC" AND
  "MONITOR" ENGAGED AT CLOSE QUARTERS                         224
    From _Cassier's Magazine_, by permission of the Editor.

  THE RUSSIAN BATTLESHIP "OREL"                               330
    From a photograph taken after the battle of Tsu-Shima,
    showing effects of Japanese shell fire.



    LIST OF PLANS


                                                      FACING PAGE

  LEPANTO. Course of Allied Fleet from Ithaca Channel
    to scene of battle                                         90

  LEPANTO (1). Allies forming line of battle. Turks
    advancing to attack                                        92

  LEPANTO (2). Beginning of the battle. (Noon,
    October 7th, 1571)                                         94

  LEPANTO (3). The mêlée. (About 12.30 p.m.)                   96

  LEPANTO (4). Ulugh Ali's counter-attack. (About 2.30 p.m.)  102

  LEPANTO (5). Flight of Ulugh Ali--Allied Fleet forming up
    with captured prizes at close of battle. (About 4 p.m.)   104

  VOYAGE OF THE ARMADA, 1588                                  120

  TRAFALGAR                                                   192

  HAMPTON ROADS (1st day). "Merrimac" comes out, sinks
    "Cumberland" and burns "Congress"                         216

  HAMPTON ROADS (2nd day). Duel between "Monitor" and
    "Merrimac"                                                216

  THE "MERRIMAC" AND "MONITOR" DRAWN TO THE SAME SCALE        222

  LISSA. Battle formation of the Austrian Fleet               241

  BATTLE OF LISSA. The Austrian attack at the beginning
    of the battle                                             244

  BATTLE OF THE YALU (1). The Japanese attack                 264

  BATTLE OF THE YALU (2). End of the fight                    264

  BATTLE OF SANTIAGO. Showing places where the Spanish
    ships were destroyed                                      290

  BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA. Sketch-map to show the extent of the
    waters in which the first part of the fight took place    321

  BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA. General map                            322

  BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA. Diagrams of movements during the
    fighting of May 27th                                      326



    FROM SALAMIS TO TSU-SHIMA



    CHAPTER I

    SALAMIS

    B.C. 480


The world has lost all record of the greatest of its inventors--the
pioneers who in far-off ages devised the simple appliances with which men
tilled the ground, did their domestic work, and fought their battles for
thousands of years. He who hung up the first weaver's beam and shaped the
first rude shuttle was a more wonderful inventor than Arkwright. The maker
of the first bow and arrow was a more enterprising pioneer than our
inventors of machine-guns. And greater than the builders of "Dreadnoughts"
were those who "with hearts girt round with oak and triple brass" were the
first to trust their frail barques to "the cruel sea." No doubt the
hollowed tree trunk, and the coracle of osiers and skins, had long before
this made their trial trips on river and lake. Then came the first ventures
in the shallow sea-margins, and at last a primitive naval architect built
up planked bulwarks round his hollowed tree trunk, and stiffened them with
ribs of bent branches, and the first ship was launched.

This evolution of the ship must have been in progress independently in more
places than one. We are most concerned with its development in that eastern
end of the land-locked Mediterranean, which is the meeting-place of so
many races, and around which so much of what is most momentous in the
world's history has happened. There seems good reason for believing that
among the pioneers in early naval construction were the men of that
marvellous people of old Egypt to whom the world's civilization owes so
much. They had doubtless learned their work on their own Nile before they
pushed out by the channels of the Delta to the waters of the "Great Sea."
They had invented the sail, though it was centuries before any one learned
to do more than scud before the wind. It took long experience of the sea to
discover that one could fix one's sail at an oblique angle with the
mid-line of the ship, and play off rudder against sail to lay a course with
the wind on the quarter or even abeam and not dead astern.

But there was as important an invention as the sail--that of the oar. We
are so familiar with it, that we do not realize all it means. Yet it is a
notable fact that whole races of men who navigate river, lake, and sea,
successfully and boldly, never hit upon the principle of the oar till they
were taught it by Europeans, and could of themselves get no further than
the paddle. The oar, with its leverage, its capacity for making the very
weight of the crew become a motive power, became in more senses than one
the great instrument of progress on the sea. It gave the ship a power of
manoeuvring independently of the wind, the same power that is the essence
of advantage in steam propulsion. The centuries during which the sailing
ship was the chief reliance of navigation and commerce were, after all, an
episode between the long ages when the oar-driven galley was the typical
ship, and the present age of steam beginning less than a hundred years ago.

Sails were an occasional help to the early navigator. Our songs of the sea
call them the "white wings" of the ship. For the Greek poet Æschylus, the
wings of the ship were the long oars. The trader creeping along the coast
or working from island to island helping himself when the wind served with
his sail, and having only a small crew, could not afford much oar-power,
though he had often to trust to it. But for the fighting ship, oar-power
and speed were as important as mechanical horse-power is for the warships
of the twentieth century. So the war galley was built longer than the
trader, to make room for as many oars as possible on either side. In the
Mediterranean in those early days, as with the Vikings of later centuries,
the "Long Ship" meant the ship of war.

It is strange to reflect that all through human history war has been a
greater incentive to shipbuilding progress than peaceful commerce. For
those early navigators the prizes to be won by fighting and raiding were
greater than any that the more prosaic paths of trade could offer. The
fleets that issued from the Delta of the Nile were piratical squadrons,
that were the terrors of the Mediterranean coasts. The Greek, too, like the
Norseman, began his career on the sea with piracy. The Athenian historian
tells of days when it was no offence to ask a seafaring man, "Are you a
pirate, sir?" The first Admirals of the Eastern Mediterranean had
undoubtedly more likeness to Captain Kidd and "Blackbeard" than to Nelson
and Collingwood. Later came the time when organized Governments in the
Greek cities and on the Phoenician coast kept fleets on the land-locked sea
to deal with piracy and protect peaceful commerce. But the prizes that
allured the corsair were so tempting, that piracy revived again and again,
and even in the late days of the Roman Republic the Consul Pompey had to
conduct a maritime war on a large scale to clear the sea of the pirates.

Of the early naval wars of the Mediterranean--battles of more or less
piratical fleets, or of the war galleys of coast and island states--we have
no clear record, or no vestige of a record. Egyptians, Phoenicians,
Cretans, men of the rich island state of which we have only recently found
the remains in buried palaces, Greeks of the Asiatic mainland, and their
Eastern neighbours, Greeks of the islands and the Peninsula, Illyrians of
the labyrinth of creek and island that fringes the Adriatic, Sicilians and
Carthaginians, all had their adventures and battles on the sea, in the dim
beginnings of history. Homer has his catalogue of ships set forth in
stately verse, telling how the Greek chieftains led 120,000 warriors
embarked on 1100 galleys to the siege of Troy. But no hostile fleet met
them, if indeed the great armament ever sailed, as to which historians and
critics dispute. One must pass on for centuries after Homer's day to find
reliable and detailed records of early naval war. The first great battle on
the sea, of which we can tell the story, was the fight in the Straits of
Salamis, when Greek and Persian strove for the mastery of the near East.

King Darius had found that his hold on the Greek cities of Asia Minor was
insecure so long as they could look for armed help to their kindred beyond
the Archipelago, and he had sent his satraps to raid the Greek mainland.
That first invasion ended disastrously at Marathon. His son, Xerxes, took
up the quarrel and devoted years to the preparation not of a raid upon
Europe, but of an invasion in which the whole power of his vast empire was
to be put forth by sea and land.

It was fortunate for Greece that the man who then counted for most in the
politics of Athens was one who recognized the all-importance of sea-power,
though it is likely that at the outset all he had in mind was that the
possession of an efficient fleet would enable his city to exert its
influence on the islands and among the coast cities to the exclusion of the
military power of its rival Sparta. When it was proposed that the product
of the silver mines of Laurium should be distributed among the Athenian
citizens, it was Themistocles who persuaded his fellow-countrymen that a
better investment for the public wealth would be found in the building and
equipment of a fleet. He used as one of his arguments the probability that
the Persian King would, sooner or later, try to avenge the defeat of
Marathon. A no less effective argument was the necessity of protecting
their growing commerce. Athens looked upon the sea, and that sea at once
divided and united the scattered Greek communities who lived on the coasts
and islands of the Archipelago. It was the possession of the fleet thus
acquired that enabled Themistocles and Athens to play a decisive part in
the crisis of the struggle with Asia.

It was in the spring of B.C. 480 that the march from Asia Minor began. The
vast multitude gathered from every land in Western Asia, from the shores of
the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf and the wild mountain plateaux of the
Indian border, was too numerous to be transported in any fleet that even
the Great King could assemble. For seven days and nights it poured across
the floating bridge that swayed with the current of the Dardanelles, a
bridge that was a wonder of early military engineering, and the making of
which would tax the resources of the best army of to-day. Then it marched
by the coast-line through what is now Roumelia and Thessaly. It ate up the
supplies of the lands through which it passed. If it was to escape famine
it must keep in touch with the ships that crossed and recrossed the narrow
seas, bringing heavy cargoes of food and forage from the ports of Asia, and
escorted by squadrons of long war galleys.

Every Greek city had been warned of the impending danger. Even those who
remembered Marathon, the day when a few thousand spearmen had routed an
Asiatic horde outnumbering them tenfold, realized that any force that now
could be put in the field would be overwhelmed by this human tide of a
million fighting men. But there was one soldier-statesman who saw the way
to safety, and grasped the central fact of the situation. This was
Themistocles the Athenian, the chief man of that city, against which the
first fury of the attack would be directed. No doubt it was he who inspired
the prophetess of Delphi with her mysterious message that "the Athenians
must make for themselves wooden walls," and he supplied the explanation of
the enigma.

The Persian must be met not on the land, but in "wooden walls" upon the
sea. Victory upon that element would mean the destruction of the huge army
on land. The greater its numbers the more helpless would be its position.
It could not live upon "the country"; there must be a continual stream of
sea-borne supplies arriving from Asia, and this would be interrupted and
cease altogether once the Greeks were masters of the sea.

The Athens of the time was not the wonderful city that arose in later
years, embellished by the masterpieces of some of the greatest architects
and artists the world has ever known. The houses huddled round the foot of
the citadel hill--the Acropolis--which was crowned with rudely built
primitive temples. But the people whose home it was were startled by the
proposal of Themistocles that their city should be abandoned to the enemy
without one blow struck in its defence. Not Athens only, but every village
and farm in the surrounding country was to be deserted. Men, women, and
children, horses and cattle, were all to be conveyed across the narrow
strait to the island of Salamis, which was to be the temporary refuge of
the citizens of Athens and of the country-folk of Attica.

Would they ever return to their ruined homes and devastated lands, where
they would find houses burned, and vines and olives cut down? Could they
even hope to maintain themselves in Salamis? Would it not be better to
fight in defence of their homes even against desperate odds and meet their
fate at once, instead of only deferring the evil day? It was no easy task
for the man of the moment to persuade his fellow-countrymen to adopt his
own far-sighted plans. Even when most of them had accepted his leadership
and were obeying his orders, a handful of desperate men refused to go. They
took refuge on the hill of the Acropolis, and acting upon the literal
meaning of the oracle toiled with axe and hammer, building up wooden
barriers before the gates of the old citadel.

Everywhere else the city and the country round were soon deserted. The
people streamed down to the shore and were ferried over to Salamis, where
huts of straw and branches rose up in wide extended camps to shelter the
crowds that could find no place in the island villages. In every wood on
either shore trees were being felled. In every creek shipwrights were busy
night and day building new ships or refitting old. To every Greek seaport
messages had been sent, begging them to send to the Straits of Salamis as
many ships, oarsmen, and fighting men as they could muster.

Slowly the Persian army moved southward through Thessaly. A handful of
Spartans, under Leonidas, had been sent forward to delay the Persian
advance. They held the Pass of Thermopylæ, between the eastern shoulder of
Mount Æta and the sea. It was a hopeless position. To fight there at all
with such an insignificant force was a mistake. But the Government of
Sparta, slaves to tradition, could not grasp the idea of the plans proposed
by the great Athenian. They were half persuaded to recall Leonidas, but
hesitated to act until it was too late. The Spartan chief and his few
hundred warriors died at their post in self-sacrificing obedience to the
letter of their orders. The Persians poured over the Pass and inundated the
plains of Attica. The few Athenians who had persisted in defending the
Acropolis of Athens made only a brief resistance against overwhelming
numbers. They were all put to the sword and their fellow-countrymen in the
island of Salamis saw far off the pall of smoke that hung over their city,
where temples and houses alike were sacked and set on fire by the victors.

The winds and waves had already been fighting for the Greeks. The Persian
war fleet of 1200 great ships had coasted southwards by the shores of
Thessaly till they neared the group of islands off the northern point of
Euboea. Their scouts reported a Greek fleet to be lying in the channel
between the large island and the mainland. Night was coming on, and the
Persians anchored in eight long lines off Cape Sepias. As the sun rose
there came one of those sudden gales from the eastward that are still the
terror of small craft in the Archipelago. A modern sailor would try to beat
out to seaward and get as far as possible from the dangerous shore, but
these old-world seamen dreaded the open sea. They tried to ride out the
gale, but anchors dragged and hundreds of ships were piled in shattered
masses on the shore. Some were stranded in positions where they could be
repaired and refloated as the weather cleared up; but by the evening of the
third day, when at last the wind fell, only eight hundred galleys of the
Persian armada were still in seaworthy fighting condition.

Here, as on other occasions, the very numbers of the Persian fleet proved a
source of danger to it. The harbours that could give shelter to this
multitude of ships were very few and far between, nor was it an easy matter
to find that other refuge of the ancient navigator--a beach of easy slope
and sufficiently wide extent to enable the ships to be dragged out of the
water and placed high and dry beyond the reach of the angriest waves. The
fact that ships were beached and hauled up the shore during bad weather,
and in winter, limited their size, and in both the Persian and the Greek
fleets there probably was not a ship much bigger than the barges we see on
our canals, or as big as some of the largest sea-going barges.

The typical warship of the period of the Persian War was probably not more
than eighty or a hundred feet long, narrow, and nearly flat-bottomed. At
the bow and stern there was a strongly built deck. Between this poop and
forecastle a lighter deck ran fore and aft, and under this were the
stations of the rowers. The bow was strengthened with plates of iron or
brass, and beams of oak, to enable it to be used as a ram, and the stem
rose above the deck level and was carved into the head of some bird or
beast. There was a light mast which could be rigged up when the wind
served, and carried a cross-yard and a square sail. Mast and yard were
taken down before going into action.

The Greeks called their war galleys _triêres_, the Romans _triremes_, and
these names are generally explained as meaning that the ships were
propelled by three banks or rows of oars placed one above the other on
either side. The widely accepted theory of how they were worked is that the
seats of the rowers were placed, not directly above each other, but that
those who worked the lowest and shortest oars were close to the side of the
ship, the men for the middle range of oars a little above them and further
inboard, and the upper tier of rowers still higher and near the centre-line
of the ship. An endless amount of erudition and research has been expended
on this question; but most of those who have dealt with it have been
classical scholars possessing little or no practical acquaintance with
seafaring conditions, and none of their proposed arrangements of three
banks of oars looks at all likely to be workable and effective. A practical
test of the theory was made by Napoleon III when his "History of Julius
Cæsar" was being prepared. He had a trireme constructed and tried upon the
Seine. There were three banks of oars, but though the fitting and
arrangement was changed again and again under the joint advice of classical
experts and practical seamen, no satisfactory method of working the
superposed banks of oars could be devised.

The probability is that no such method of working was ever generally
employed, and that the belief in the existence of old-world navies made up
of ships with tier on tier of oars on either side is the outcome of a
misunderstanding as to the meaning of a word. _Triêres_ and _trireme_ seems
at first glance to mean triple-oared, in the sense of the oars being
triplicated; but there are strong arguments for the view that it was not
the oars but the oarsmen, who were arranged in "threes." If this view is
correct, the ancient warship was a galley with a single row of long oars on
either side, and three men pulling together each heavy oar. We know that in
the old navies of the Papal States and the Republics of Venice and Genoa in
the Middle Ages and the days of the Renaissance, and in the royal galleys
of the old French monarchy, there were no ships with superposed banks of
oars, but there were galleys known as "triremes," "quadriremes," and
"pentaremes," driven by long oars each worked by three, four, or five
rowers. It is at least very likely that this was the method adopted in the
warships of still earlier times.

A trireme of the days of the Persian War with fifty or sixty oars would
thus have a crew of 150 or 180 rowers. Add to this some fifty or sixty
fighting men and we have a total crew of over two hundred. In the Persian
navies the rowers were mostly slaves, like the galley slaves of later
times. They were chained to their oars, and kept in order or roused to
exertion by the whip of their taskmasters. To train them to work together
effectively required a long apprenticeship, and in rough water their work
was especially difficult. To miss the regular time of the stroke was
dangerous, for the long oars projecting far inboard would knock down and
injure the nearest rowers, unless all swung accurately together. The
flat-bottomed galleys rolled badly in a heavy sea, and in rough weather
rowing was fatiguing and even perilous work.

Some two hundred men in a small ship meant crowded quarters, and lack of
room everywhere except on the fighting deck. But as the fleets hugged the
shore, and generally lay up for the night, the crews could mostly land to
cook, eat, and sleep. In the Persian ships belonging to many nations, and
some of them to the Greek cities of Asia, Xerxes took the precaution of
having at least thirty picked Persian warriors in each crew. Their presence
was intended to secure the fidelity of the rest.

In the Greek fleet the rowers were partly slaves, partly freemen impressed
or hired for the work. Then there were a few seamen, fishermen, or men who
in the days of peace manned the local coasting craft. The chiefs of this
navigating party were the _keleustes_, who presided over the rowers and
gave the signal for each stroke, and the pilot, who was supposed to have a
knowledge of the local waters and of wind and weather, and who acted as
steersman, handling alone, or with the help of his assistants, the long
stern oar that served as a rudder. The fighting men were not sailors, but
soldiers embarked to fight afloat, and their military chief commanded the
ship, with the help of the pilot. For more than two thousand years this
division between the sailor and the fighting element in navies continued
throughout the world. The fighting commander and the sailing-master were
two different men, and the captain of a man-of-war was often a landsman.

In the Greek fleet which lay sheltered in the narrows, behind the long
island of Euboea while the Persians were battling with the tempest off Cape
Sepias, the Admiral was the Spartan Eurybiades, a veteran General, who knew
more about forming a phalanx of spearmen than directing the movements of a
fleet. The military reputation of his race had secured for him the chief
command, though of the whole fleet of between three and four hundred
triremes, less than a third had been provided by Sparta and her allies, and
half of the armada was formed of the well-equipped Athenian fleet,
commanded by Themistocles in person. As the storm abated the fleets faced
each other in the strait north of Euboea. In the Persian armada the best
ships were five long galleys commanded by an Amazon queen, Artemisia of
Halicarnassus, a Greek fighting against Greeks. She scored the first
success, swooping down with her squadron on a Greek galley that had
ventured to scout along the Persian front in the grey of the morning.
Attacked by the five the ship was taken, and the victors celebrated their
success by hanging the commander over the prow of his ship, cutting his
throat and letting his blood flow into the sea, an offering to the gods of
the deep. The cruel deed was something that inspired no particular sense of
horror in those days of heathen war. It was probably not on account of this
piece of barbarity, but out of their anger at being opposed by a woman, and
a Greek woman, that the allied leaders of Greece set a price on the head of
the Amazon queen; but no one ever succeeded in qualifying to claim it.

The Persians, hoping to gain an advantage from their superior numbers, now
detached a squadron which was to coast along the eastern shores of Euboea,
enter the strait at its southern end, and fall on the rear of the Greeks,
while the main body attacked them in front. Eurybiades and Themistocles had
early intelligence of this movement, but were not alarmed by it. Shortly
before sunset the Greeks bore down on the Persians, attacked them in the
narrow waters where their numbers could not tell, sank some thirty ships by
ramming them, and then drew off as the night came on.

It was a wild night. The Greeks had hardly regained their sheltered
anchorage when the wind rose, lightning played round the mountain crests on
either hand, the thunder rolled and the rain came down in torrents. The
main Persian fleet, in a less sheltered position, found it difficult to
avoid disaster, and the crews were horrified at seeing as the lightning lit
up the sea masses of debris and swollen corpses of drowned men drifting
amongst them as the currents brought the wreckage of the earlier storm
floating down from beyond Cape Sepias. The hundred ships detached to round
the south point of Euboea were still slowly making their way along its
rocky eastern coast. Caught in the midnight storm most of them drove ashore
and were dashed to pieces.

In the morning the sea was still rough, but the Greeks came out of the
strait, and, without committing themselves to a general action, fell upon
the nearest ships, the squadron of Cilicia, and sank and captured several
of them, retiring when the main fleet began to close upon them. On the
third day the sea was calm and the Persians tried to force the narrows by a
frontal attack. There was some hard fighting and loss on both sides, but
the Greeks held their own. As the sun set the Persians rowed back towards
their anchorage inside Cape Sepias.

When the sun rose again the Greek fleet had disappeared. Eurybiades and
Themistocles had agreed in the night after the battle that the time was
come to abandon the defence of the Euboean Strait and retire to the waters
of Salamis. The Persian army was now flooding the mainland with its myriads
of fighting men, and was master of Attica. A fleet, depending so much on
the land for supplies and for rest for its crews, could not maintain itself
in the straits when the Persians held the mainland and were in a position
to seize also the island of Euboea. Before sunrise the Greek ships were
working their way in long procession through the Strait of Negropont. Early
in the day they began to pass one by one the narrows at Chalcis, now
spanned by a bridge. Then the strait widened, and there were none to bar
their way to the open sea, and round Cape Sunium to their sheltered station
in the straits behind the island of Salamis.

They had been reinforced on the way, and they now numbered 366 fighting
ships. Those of Sparta and the Peloponnesus were 89, the Athenian fleet
180, while 97 more were supplied by the Greek islands, some of the ships
from Melos and the Cyclades being penteconters, large vessels whose long
oars were each manned by five rowers. Losses by storm and battle had
reduced the Persian armada to some six hundred effective ships. The odds
were serious, but not desperate.

But while the Persian fleet was directed by a single will, there were
divided counsels among the Greeks. Eurybiades had most of the leaders on
his side when he argued that Athens was hopelessly lost, and the best hope
for Greece was to defend the Peloponnesus by holding the isthmus of
Corinth with what land forces could be assembled and removing the fleet to
the waters of the neighbouring waters to co-operate in the defence.
Themistocles, on the other hand, shrank from the idea of abandoning the
refugees in the island of Salamis, and he regarded the adjacent straits as
the best position in which the Greeks could give battle. There, as in the
channel of Euboea, the narrow waters would do something to nullify the
Persian advantage of numbers. For the Greeks, formed in several lines
extending from shore to shore, could only be attacked by equal numbers.
Only the leading ships of the attack would be in action at any given
moment, and it would not matter how many hundred more were crowded behind
them. With a column of spearmen on land the weight of the rearward ranks,
formed in a serried phalanx, would force onward those in front. But with a
column of ships formed in several successive lines in narrow waters any
attempt of the rearward ships to press forward would mean confusion and
disaster to themselves and those that formed the leading lines. This would
have been true even of ships under sail, but in battle the war galleys were
oar-driven, and as the ships jammed together there would be entangled oars,
and rowers flung from their benches with broken heads and arms. Better
discipline, more thorough fighting-power on the Greek side, would mean that
the leading ships of their fleet would deal effectually with their nearest
adversaries, while the rearward ships would rest upon their oars and plunge
into the mêlée only where disaster to a leading ship left an opening.

A doubtful story says that Themistocles, foreseeing that if the battle was
long delayed the Spartan party would carry their point and withdraw to the
isthmus, ran the risk of sending a message to King Xerxes, urging him to
attack at once, hinting at a defection of the Athenian fleet, and telling
him that if he acted without delay the Greeks were at his mercy, and that
they were so terrified that they were thinking chiefly of how they might
escape. Herodotus tells of a council of war of the Persian leaders at
which the fighting Queen Artemisia stood alone in advising delay. She told
the King that in overrunning northern Greece he had done enough for one
campaign. Let him settle down for winter quarters in Attica and he would
see the Greek armament, already divided by jealousies and quarrels, break
up and disperse. He could then prepare quietly for the conquest of the
Peloponnesus in the spring. But Xerxes was more flattered by the opinion of
the satraps who told him that he had only to stretch out his hands to
destroy the Greek fleet and make himself undisputed master of the sea. And,
just as Themistocles was despairing of being able to keep the fleet at
Salamis, news came that the Persians had decided to attack. The news was
brought by Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, who had been unjustly exiled
from Athens some years before, but now in the moment of his country's
danger ran the blockade of the Persians in a ship of Ægina, and came to
throw in his lot with his fellow-citizens. For the Greeks to set out for
the isthmus under these circumstances would be to risk having to meet
superior numbers in the open sea. All now agreed that the fate of Greece
was to be decided in the waters of Salamis.

Xerxes looked forward to the coming struggle with assured hope of victory,
and prepared to enjoy the spectacle of the disaster that was about to fall
upon his enemies.

On the green slope of Mount Ægaleos, which commanded a full view of Salamis
and the straits, the silken tents of the King and his Court were erected, a
camp that was like a palace. Purple-dyed hangings, gilded tent poles with
pomegranates of pure gold at the top of each, carpets bright with colour,
carved furniture inlaid with ivory, all made up a display of luxurious
pomp. Before the royal tents a golden throne had been erected. Fan-bearers
took their post on either side, nobles who held the office of sword-bearers
and cup-bearers waited at the steps of the throne. On either side and on
the slope below the ranks of the "Immortal Guard" were formed, ten
thousand veterans, with armour and equipments gleaming with silver and
gold. Along the shore from the white marble cliffs of Sunium by the port of
Phalerum and far up the winding coast-line of the straits, hundreds of
thousands more of this army of many nations stood in battle array. They
were to witness the destruction of the Great King's enemies, and to take an
active part in it when, as all expected, disabled Greek galleys would be
driven ashore, and their crews would ask in vain for quarter. They were to
share, too, in the irruption into Salamis once the fleet was master of the
straits, and when the people of Athens, no longer protected by the sea,
would be at the mercy of the Asiatic warriors.

Amid the blare of trumpets the King took his seat upon his throne, and
watched his great armada sweeping towards the straits like a floating city.
In those hundreds of long, low-sided ships thousands of slaves strained at
the banks of heavy oars, encouraged by the shouts of the picked warriors
who crowded the decks, and if their energies flagged, stimulated to new
exertions by the whip of their taskmasters.

From every point of vantage in Salamis, women, old men, children, all who
could not fight, looked out upon the sea, watching with heart-rending
anxiety the signs of the approaching struggle. Death or slavery and untold
misery would be their fate if numbers should prevail in the battle. In our
days, in the hours before such a decisive struggle a people watches the
newspapers, and waits for tidings of the fight in a turmoil of mingled
hopes and fears. But whatever may be the result the individual, who is thus
a spectator at a distance, runs no personal risks. It was otherwise in
those days of merciless heathen warfare, and here all would see for
themselves the changing fortunes of the fight on which their own fate
depended.

The Greek fleet had been formed in two divisions of unequal strength. The
smaller anchored in the western opening of the straits, furthest from the
advance of the enemy's armada, and was detailed to prevent any attack
through the narrows on the Greek rear. The main body, three hundred strong,
was moored in successive lines, just inside the opening of the straits to
the eastward. The best ships, the most trusted leaders, the picked warriors
were in the foremost line. On them the result of the day would chiefly
depend, and here the man who had planned it all, commanded an Athenian war
galley in the centre of the array. In this fact we see another striking
difference between past and present. The modern specialization of offices
and capacities which divides between different individuals the functions of
political leader, general, and admiral was yet centuries distant in the
future. Themistocles, who had advised the policy of naval war, was to be
the foremost leader in the battle, and though purely naval tactics were to
have some part in it, it was to be to a great extent a land battle fought
out on floating platforms, so that one who had learned the art of war on
land could act as an admiral on the sea.

Sixty thousand men-rowers and warriors were crowded on board the Greek
fleet. At least twice as many must have been borne on the decks and rowers'
benches of the Persian armada. Midway in the opening of the straits the
Persians had occupied the rocky island of Psytalia. Its ledges and its
summit glittered with arms, and beside it some light craft had taken post
to assist friendly vessels in distress. Past the islet the great fleet
swept in four successive divisions driven by the measured stroke of tens of
thousands of oars. On the left of the leading line was the Phoenician fleet
led by the tributary kings of Tyre and Sidon, a formidable squadron, for
these war galleys were manned by real seamen, bold sailors who knew not
only the ways of the land-locked Mediterranean, but had ventured into the
outer ocean. On the right were the ships of the Greek cities of Ionia, the
long galleys of Ephesus, Miletus, Samos, and Samothrace. Here Greek would
meet Greek in deadly strife. The rowers shouted as they bent to the long
oars. The warriors grouped in the prow with spear and javelin in hand sang
the war songs of many nations. Along the bulwarks of the ships of Asia
crouched the Persian and Babylonian archers, the best bowmen of the ancient
world, with the arrow resting ready on the string. As the left of the
leading line reached the opening of the strait the rowers reduced their
speed, while on the other flank the stroke became more rapid. The long line
was wheeling round the point of Salamis, and came in full sight of the
Greek fleet ranged in battle array across the narrows.

The Athenian ships formed the right and centre of its leading line, the
fleet of the Peloponnesus under the veteran Eurybiades was on the left. The
rowers were resting on their oars, or just using them enough to keep the
ships in position. As the Persians came sweeping into the straits the
Greeks began to chant the Pæan, their battle hymn. The crash of the
encounter between the two navies was now imminent.

For a few moments it seemed that already the Persians were assured of
victory, for, seeing the enormous mass of the ships of Asia crowding the
strait from shore to shore, and stretching far away on the open sea outside
it, not a few of the European leaders lost heart for a while. The rowers
began to backwater, and many of the ships of the first line retired stern
foremost into the narrows. The rest followed their example, each one
fearing to lose his place in the line, and be exposed in isolation to the
attack of a crowd of enemies. It was perilously like the beginning of a
panic that would soon end in disaster if it were not checked.

But it was soon over. The last of the retiring Greek ships was a galley of
Pallene in Macedonia, commanded by a good soldier, Arminias. He was one of
those who was doing his best to check the panic. Resolved that whoever else
gave way he would sink rather than take to flight, he turned the prow of
his trireme against the approaching enemy, and evading the ram of a Persian
ship ran alongside of her. The intermingled oars broke like matchwood, and
the two ships grappled. The battle had begun. Attacked on the other side by
another of the ships of Asia, Arminias was in deadly peril. The sight of
their comrade's courage and of his danger stopped the retirement of the
Greeks. Their rowers were now straining every nerve to come to the rescue
of the isolated trireme, and from shore to shore the two fleets met with
loud outcry and the jarring crash of scores of voluntary or involuntary
collisions.

All order was soon lost. The strait of Salamis was now the scene of a vast
mêlée, hundreds of ships crowding together in the narrow pass between the
island and the mainland. Themistocles in the centre with the picked ships
of Athens was forcing his way, wedge-like, between the Phoenician and
Ionian squadrons into the dense mass of the Persian centre. The bronze
beaks ground their way into hostile timbers, oars were swept away, rowers
thrown in confusion from their benches stunned and with broken limbs. Ships
sank and drowning men struggled for life; the Asiatic archers shot their
arrows at close quarters, the spearmen hurled their javelins; but it was
not by missile weapons the fight was to be decided. Where the stroke of the
ram failed, the ships were jammed together in the press, and men fought
hand to hand on forecastles and upper decks. Here it was that the Greeks,
trained athletes, chosen men in the prime of life, protected by their
armour and relying on the thrust of the long and heavy spear, had the
advantage over the Asiatics. Only their own countrymen of the Ionian
squadron could make any stand against them, and the Ionians had to face the
spears of Sparta, in the hands of warriors all eager to avenge the
slaughter of Thermopylæ.

Some of these Ionian Greeks, fighting under the Persian standard, won local
successes here and there in the mêlée. They captured or sank several of the
Spartan triremes. One of the ships of Samothrace performed an exploit like
that of Paul Jones, when with his own ship sinking under the feet of his
crew he boarded and captured the "Serapis." A Greek trireme had rammed the
Samothracian ship, tearing open her side; but as she went down her Persian
and Ionian crew scrambled on board their assailant and drove the Greeks
into the sea at the spear-point. It was noted that few of the Persian crews
were swimmers. When their ships sank they were drowned. The Greeks were
able to save themselves in such a disaster. They threw away shield, helmet,
and spear, and swam to another ship or to the island shore.

This fact would seem to indicate that with the exception of those who
manned the Ionian and Phoenician squadrons the crews of the Persian fleet
were much less at home on the sea than the Greeks. And we know from the
result of many battles, from Marathon to the victories of Alexander, that
on land the Greek was a better fighting man than the Asiatic. The soldiers
of the "Great King," inferior in fighting-power even on the land, would
therefore find themselves doubly handicapped by having to fight on the
narrow platforms floating on an unfamiliar element, and the sight of ships
being sunk and their crews drowned would tend to produce panic among them.
So the Greek wedge forced itself further and further into the mass of
hostile ships, and in the narrow waters numbers could not tell. The Greeks
were never at any given moment engaged with a superior force in actual
hand-to-hand conflict, and they had sufficient ships behind them to make
good any local losses. Such a battle could have only one result.

All order had been lost in the Persian fleet at an early stage of the
fight. The rearward squadrons had pressed into the strait, and finding that
in the crowded waters they were endangering each other without being able
to take any effective part in the battle they began to draw off, and the
foremost ships, pressed back by the Greek attack, began to follow them
towards the open water. The whole mingled mass of the battle was drifting
eastward. The movement left the island of Psytalia unprotected by the
Asiatic fleet, and Aristides, the Athenian, who had been watching the fight
from the shore of Salamis, embarked a force of spearmen on some light
vessels, ferried them across to Psytalia and attacked its Persian garrison.
They made a poor show of resistance, and to a man they were speared or
flung over the rocks into the sea. The poet Æschylus, who was fighting as a
soldier on one of the Athenian triremes, told afterwards, not in pity, but
rejoicing at the destruction of his country's enemies, how the cries of the
massacred garrison of Psytalia were heard above the din of the battle and
increased the growing panic of the Persians.

Even those who had fought best in the Asiatic armada were now losing heart
and taking to flight. Queen Artemisia, with her five galleys of
Halicarnassus, had fought in the front line among the ships of the Ionian
squadron. She was now working her way out of the mêlée, and in the
confusion rammed and sank a Persian warship. Xerxes, watching the fight
from his throne on the hillside, thought it was a Greek ship that the
Amazon had destroyed and exclaimed: "This woman is playing the man while my
men are acting like women!"

Two Persian ships in flight from the pursuing Greeks drove ashore at the
base of Mount Ægaleos. Xerxes, in his anger at the disaster to his fleet,
ordered the troops stationed on the beach to behead every officer and man
of their crews, and the sentence was at once executed. The closing scene of
the battle was, indeed, a time of unmitigated horrors, for while this
massacre of the defeated crews was being carried out by the Persian
guardsmen, the victorious Greeks were slaying all the fugitives who fell
into their hands. The Admiral of the Persian fleet, Ariabignes, brother of
Xerxes, was among the dead.

The pursuit was not continued far beyond the straits. The Greeks hesitated
to venture into open waters where numbers might tell against them if the
Persians rallied, and they drew back to their morning anchorage. The
remnant of the Persian fleet anchored off the coast near Phalerum, the port
of Athens, or took refuge in the small harbour. They were rejoined by a
detachment which had been sent to round the south side of Salamis to attack
the western entrance of the straits, but which for some reason had never
been engaged during the day.

The victorious Greeks did not realize the full extent of their triumph.
They expected to be attacked again next morning, and hoped to repeat the
manoeuvre which had been so far successful, of engaging the enemy in the
narrows with each flank protected by the shore, and no room for a superior
force to form in the actual line of fighting contact. But though they did
not yet realize the fact, they had won a decisive victory. Xerxes had been
so impressed by the failure of his great armada to force the narrows of
Salamis that he had changed all his plans.

In the night after the battle he held a council of war. It was decided that
the attack should not be renewed, for there was no prospect of a second
attempt giving better results. Artemisia was directed to convey Prince
Artaxerxes, the heir of the Empire, back to Asia. Xerxes himself would lead
back to the bridge of the Hellespont the main body of his immense army, for
to attempt to maintain it in Greece during the winter would have meant
famine in its camps. The fleet was to sail at once for the northern
Archipelago, and limit its operations to guarding the bridge of the
Hellespont and protecting the convoys for the army. When the winter came it
would have to be laid up; but by that time it was hoped Xerxes and the main
body would be safe in Asia. Mardonius, the most trusted of his satraps, was
to occupy northern Greece with a picked force of 300,000 men, with which he
was to attempt the conquest of the Peloponnesus next year.

The Persian fleet sailed from the roadstead of Phalerum during that same
night. How far the crews were demoralized by the defeat of the previous day
is shown by the fact that there was something of a panic as the white
cliffs of Sunium glimmered through the darkness in the moonlight and were
mistaken for the sails of hostile Greek warships menacing the line of
retreat. The Persians stood far out to sea to avoid these imaginary
enemies. When the day broke Themistocles and Eurybiades could hardly credit
the report that all the ships of Asia had disappeared from their anchorage
of the evening before. The Athenian admiral urged immediate pursuit, the
Spartan general hesitated and at last gave a reluctant consent. The fleet
sailed as far as the island of Andros, but found no trace of the enemy. In
vain Themistocles urged that it should go further, and if it failed to find
the enemy's fleet, at least show itself in the harbours of Asia and try to
rouse Ionia to revolt. Eurybiades declared that enough had been
accomplished, and refused to risk a voyage across the Archipelago in the
late autumn. So the victorious fleet returned to Salamis, and thence the
various contingents dispersed to be laid up for the winter in sheltered
harbours and on level beaches, where a stockade could be erected and a
guard left to protect the ships till the fine weather of next spring
allowed them to be launched again.

When Xerxes reached the Hellespont with his army, after having lost heavily
by disease and famine in his weary march through Thessaly, Macedonia, and
Thrace, he found that the long bridge with which he had linked together
Europe and Asia had been swept away by a storm. But the remnant of his
fleet was there waiting to ferry across the strait what was left of his
army, now diminished by many hundreds of thousands.

The next year witnessed the destruction both of the army left under
Mardonius in northern Greece and of the remainder of the Persian fleet that
had fought at Salamis. Pausanias, with a hundred thousand Greeks, routed
the Persian army at Platæa. A fleet of 110 triremes, under the admirals
Leotychides and Xantippus, sailed across the Archipelago in search of the
Persian fleet. They found it in the waters of Samos, but the enemy retired
towards the mainland without giving battle. The Asiatics were disheartened
and divided. The Ionians were suspected of disaffection. The Phoenicians
were anxious only to return in safety to their own country and resume their
peaceful trading, and as soon as they were out of sight of the Greeks, they
deserted the Persian fleet, and sailed southwards, bound for Tyre and
Sidon.

What was left of the fleet anchored under the headland of Mycale. There was
no sign of a Greek pursuit. Rumour reported that the Athenian and Spartan
admirals were intent only on securing possession of the islands, and would
not venture on any enterprise against the coast of Asia. Perhaps it was
because he still feared to risk another engagement on the sea, that the
Persian admiral found a pretext for laying up his ships. He declared that
they were so foul with weeds and barnacles that, as a prelude to any
further operations, they must be beached and cleaned. They were therefore
hauled ashore under the headland, and a stockade was erected round them,
the fleet thus becoming a fortified camp guarded by its crews.

And then the dreaded Greek fleet appeared. Its hundred triremes could
disembark some twenty thousand men, for arms were provided even for the
rowers. A landing from low-sided ships of light draught was an easy matter.
They were driven in a long line towards the shore. As they grounded, the
warriors sprang into the water and waded to land. The rowers left their
oars, grasped spear or sword, and followed them. The stockade was stormed;
the ships inside it, dry with the heat of the Asiatic sun, and with seams
oozing with tar, were set on fire and were soon burning fiercely. As the
flames died down and the pall of smoke drifted far over the promontory of
Mycale, a mass of charred timbers was all that was left of the great armada
of Asia, and the victorious Greeks sailed homewards with the news that the
full fruits of Salamis had been garnered.



    CHAPTER II

    ACTIUM

    B.C. 31


Actium was one of the decisive battles of the world--the event that fixed
the destinies of the Roman Empire for centuries to come, made Octavian its
dictator, and enabled him, while keeping the mere forms of Republican life,
to inaugurate the imperial system of absolute rule, and reign as the first
of the Roman Emperors, under the name and title of Augustus.

It brought to a close the series of civil wars which followed the murder of
his grand-uncle, Julius Cæsar. The triumvirs, Mark Antony, Octavian, and
Lepidus, had avenged the assassination by a wholesale proscription of their
political opponents, all of whom indiscriminately they charged with the
guilt of the deed; and had defeated Brutus and Cassius on the plains of
Philippi. They had parcelled out the Empire among them, and then quarrelled
over the spoil. Octavian, the dictator of the West, had expelled Lepidus
from the African provinces that had been assigned to him as his territory.
Antony was now his only remaining rival. Cæsar's veteran lieutenant held
the Eastern provinces of the Empire. During the years he had spent in the
East he had become half Orientalized, under the influence of the famous
Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, for whose sake he had dismissed his wife
Octavia, the sister of Octavian, in order that the Egyptian might take her
place. He had appeared beside her in Alexandria wearing the insignia of the
Egyptian god Osiris, while Cleopatra wore those of Isis. Coins and medals
were struck bearing their effigies as joint rulers of the East, and the
loyalty of Rome and the West to Octavian was confirmed by the sense of
indignation which every patriotic Roman felt at the news that Antony spoke
openly of making Alexandria and not Rome the centre of the Empire, and of
founding with the Egyptian Queen a new dynasty that would rule East and
West from the Nile.

The question to be decided in the civil war was therefore not merely
whether Octavian or Antony was to be the ruler of the Roman world, but
whether Eastern or Western influences were to predominate in shaping its
destinies. Antony was preparing to carry the war into Italy, and assembled
on the western shores of Greece an army made up of the Roman legions of the
eastern provinces and large contingents of Oriental allies. During the
winter of B.C. 32-31, he had his head-quarters at Patræ (now Patras), on
the Gulf of Corinth, and his army, scattered in detachments among the coast
towns, was kept supplied with grain by ships from Alexandria. Antony's war
fleet, strengthened by squadrons of Phoenician and Egyptian galleys, lay
safely in the land-locked Ambracian Gulf (now the Gulf of Arta), approached
by a winding strait that could easily be defended.

But Octavian had determined to preserve Italy from the horrors of war, by
transporting an army across the Adriatic in the coming summer and deciding
the conflict on the shores of Greece. An army of many legions was already
in cantonments on the eastern coast of Italy, or prepared to concentrate
there in the spring. His fleet crowded the ports of Tarentum (Taranto) and
Brundusium (Brindisi), and minor detachments were wintering in the smaller
harbours of southern Italy. Most of his ships were smaller than those to
which they were to be opposed. It was reported that Antony had a
considerable number of huge quinqueremes, and even larger ships of war,
anchored in the Ambracian Gulf. The ships of the Western Empire were
mostly triremes; but there was the advantage that while Antony's fleet was
largely manned by hastily recruited landsmen, Octavian had crews made up of
experienced sailors. Many of them were of the race of the Liburni, men of
the island-fringed coast of Dalmatia, to this day among the best sailors of
the Adriatic,[2] and his admiral was the celebrated Marcus Vipsanius
Agrippa, who had to his credit more than one naval success in the civil
wars, amongst them a victory won off the headland of Mylæ, in the same
waters that had been the scene of the triumph of Duilius.

    [2] Men of the same race of sailors and fishermen largely manned
    the victorious fleet of Tegethoff at Lissa, nineteen centuries
    later. See Chapter XI.

Early in the spring, while the main body of Octavian's fleet concentrated
at Brundusium, and the army that was to cross the Adriatic gathered around
the harbour, Agrippa with a strong squadron put to sea, seized the port of
Methone in the Peloponnesus, and using this place as his base of operations
captured numbers of the Egyptian transports that were conveying supplies to
the enemy's camps. Antony ought to have replied to this challenge by
putting to sea with his combined fleet, forcing Agrippa to concentrate the
Western armament to meet him, and deciding by a pitched battle who was to
have the command of the sea in the Adriatic. But Cæsar's old lieutenant,
once as energetic and enterprising a soldier as his master, had now become
indolent and irresolute. He was used to idling away weeks and months with
Cleopatra and his semi-Oriental Court. Instead of venturing on a vigorous
offensive campaign he left the initiative to his opponent, and with a
nominally more powerful fleet at his disposal he passively abandoned the
command of the sea to Agrippa and Octavian.

The Egypto-Roman army was ordered to concentrate on the southern shores of
the Ambracian Gulf. A division of the fleet was moored in the winding
strait at its entrance, but directed to act only on the defensive. Inside
the Gulf the rest of the fleet lay, the largest ships at anchor, the
smaller hauled up on the shore.

The crews had been brought up to full strength by enlisting mule-drivers,
field-labourers, and other inexperienced landsmen, and would have been
better for training at sea; but except for some drills on the landlocked
waters they were left in idleness, and sickness soon broke out among them
and thinned their numbers. The ships thus inefficiently manned presented a
formidable array. There were some five hundred in all, including, however,
a number of large merchantmen hastily fitted for war service. Just as
modern men-of-war are provided with steel nets hanging on booms as a
defence against torpedoes, so it would seem that some at least of Antony's
ships had been fitted with a clumsy device for defending them against
attack by ramming. Below the level of the oars, balks of timber were
propped out from their sides at the water-line, and it was hoped that these
barricades would break the full force of an enemy's "beak." But the
invention had the drawback of diminishing the speed of the ship, and making
quick turning more difficult, and thus it increased the very danger it was
intended to avert.

Another feature of the larger ships, some of them the biggest that had yet
been built for the line of battle, the "Dreadnoughts" of their day, was
that wooden castles or towers had been erected on their upper decks, and on
these structures were mounted various specimens of a rude primitive
substitute for artillery, ballistæ, catapults, and the like, engines for
discharging by mechanical means huge darts or heavy stones. These same
towers were also to be the places from which the Eastern bowmen, the best
archers of the ancient world, would shower their arrows on a hostile fleet.

But locked up in the bottle-necked Ambracian Gulf the great fleet, with its
tower-crowned array of floating giants, had as little effect on the opening
phase of the campaign as if its units had been so many castles on the
shore. Agrippa soon felt that there was no serious risk of any attempt
being made by Antony to interrupt the long and delicate operation of
ferrying over an army of a hundred thousand men and some twelve thousand
cavalry from Italy to the opposite shore of the Adriatic. He took the
precaution of watching the outlet of the Ambracian Gulf with his swiftest
ships. The narrow entrance, while making it difficult to force a way into
the Gulf, had the disadvantage of all such positions, that a large fleet
would take a considerable time to issue from it into the open sea, and it
was therefore comparatively easy to blockade and observe it. If Antony
showed any sign of coming out, there would be time to bring up the whole
fleet of Octavian to meet him in the open.

It was thus that Octavian was able securely to embark his army in
successive divisions, and land it without interruption at the port of
Toryne on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Having assembled there, it
marched southwards along the coast till it reached the hills on the
northern shore of the Ambracian Gulf, and the two armies and fleets were in
presence of each other.

The legions of Octavian encamped on a rising ground a few miles north of
the entrance of the Gulf, and above a narrow neck of land which divided one
of its inlets from the open sea. The coast is here hollowed into a wide
bay, in which the main body of Agrippa's fleet was anchored, while a
detached squadron observed the opening of the straits. The camp was
surrounded by entrenchments, and connected with the station of the fleet by
a road protected by lines of earthworks and palisades, for it was the
custom of the Romans to make as much use of pick and spade as of sword and
spear in their campaigns. On the site of the camp Octavian afterwards
founded Nicopolis, "the City of Victory," as the memorial of his triumph.

From the camp on the hill there was a wide view over the Ambracian Gulf, a
sheet of water some thirty miles long and ten wide, surrounded by an
amphitheatre of hills sloping to flat, and in many places marshy, shores.
On the wide waters the fleet of Antony lay moored, line behind line, a
forest of masts and yards. In the narrows of the entrance some of his
largest ships were anchored. Many of the ships of Phoenicia and Egypt
displayed an Eastern profusion of colour in their painted upper works,
their gilded bows, and their bright flags and streamers. Near the southern
shore lay the state galley of Cleopatra, a floating palace, with its silken
sails, gilded bulwarks, and oars bound and plated with silver.

A line of earthworks and forts across the neck of the northern point,
garrisoned by the best of Antony's Roman veterans, defended one side of the
narrows. The other side was a low-lying, triangular stretch of land, dry,
sandy ground. The Greeks knew it as the _Akte_, just as the Italian sailors
still call it the _Punta_, both words having the same meaning, "the Point."
At its northern extremity on a rocky platform there rose a temple of
Apollo, known as the "Aktion," the "sanctuary of the point," a place of
pilgrimage for the fisher and sailor folk of the neighbourhood. Its name,
Latinized into _Actium_, became famous as that of the naval battle.

On the level ground by the temple was the camp of the army of Antony and
Cleopatra, a city of tents and reed-built huts, within its midst the gay
pavilions of the Court. It was a mixed gathering of many nations--Roman
legions commanded by veterans of the wars of Cæsar; Egyptian battalions in
the quaint war dress we see on the painted walls of tombs by the Nile, and
the semi-barbarous levies of the tributary kings of Eastern Asia. There
were widespread dissension and mutual suspicion among the allies. Not a few
of the Romans were chafing at their leader's subservience to a "Barbarian"
queen. Many of the Eastern kinglets were considering whether they could not
make a better bargain with Octavian. The cavalry of both armies skirmished
among the hills on the land side of the Gulf, and prisoners made by
Octavian's troops readily took service with them. Then one of the Asiatic
kings, instead of fighting, joined the hostile cavalry with his barbaric
horsemen, and night after night Roman deserters stole into the camp of
Octavian on the northern height.

An attempt led by Antony in person against the Roman entrenchments was
beaten off. A detachment of the fleet tried to elude the vigilance of
Agrippa and slip out to sea, but had to retire before superior numbers.
Then both parties watched each other, while at the head-quarters of Antony
councils of war were held to debate upon a plan of campaign. The situation
was becoming difficult. For Octavian contented himself with holding his
fortified camp with his infantry, drawing his supplies freely from
over-sea, while his cavalry prevented anything reaching Antony's lines from
the land side, and Agrippa's fleet blockading the Gulf and sweeping the
sea, made it impossible to bring corn from Egypt. Provisions were running
short, and sickness was rife. A move of some kind must be made.

The veteran Canidius, who commanded the army under Antony, had like most of
the Romans little faith in the efficiency of the fleet. He proposed to
Antony that it should be abandoned, and that the army should march eastward
into Macedonia, and, with an unexhausted country to supply it, await the
pursuit of ten legions of Octavian in a favourable position. But Antony,
influenced by Cleopatra, refused to desert the fleet, which was the one
possible hope of reaching Egypt again, and rejecting an attack on the Roman
entrenchments as a hopeless enterprise, he decided at last that all the
treasure of Court and army should be embarked on the ships, and an effort
made to break through the blockading squadrons.

While the preparations were being made, the Romans renewed their entreaties
that their leader would rather stake his fortunes on a battle on land. One
day a veteran centurion of his guard, who bore the honourable scars of
many campaigns, addressing him with tears in his eyes, said to Antony:
"Imperator, why distrust these wounds, this sword? Why put your hopes on
wretched logs of wood? Let Phoenicians and Egyptians fight on the sea, but
let us have land on which we know how to conquer or die." It is the appeal
that Shakespeare puts into the mouth of one of Antony's soldiers:--

    "O noble emperor, do not fight by sea;
    Trust not to rotten planks. Do you misdoubt
    This sword and these my wounds? Let the Egyptians
    And the Phoenicians go a-ducking; we
    Have used to conquer standing on the earth,
    And fighting foot to foot."[3]

    [3] "Antony and Cleopatra," Act iii, scene 7.

The sight of the Egypto-Roman fleet crowding down to the narrows with their
sails bent on their yards showed that they meant to risk putting to sea,
and Octavian embarked on Agrippa's fleet, with picked reinforcements from
the legions. For four days the wind blew strongly from the south-west and
the blockaded fleet waited for better weather. On the fifth day the wind
had fallen, the sea was smooth and the sun shone brightly. The floating
castles of Antony's van division worked out of the straits, and after them
in long procession came the rest of the Roman, Phoenician, and Egyptian
galleys.

From the hills to the northward of the straits, from the low-lying headland
of Actium to the south, two armies, each of a hundred thousand men, watched
the spectacle, and waited anxiously for the sight of the coming battle.

The Western fleet had steered to a position off the entrance formed in two
divisions, the one led by Agrippa, the other by Octavian. Agrippa, whose
experience and record of naval victory gave him the executive command, had
no intention of risking his small ships in the narrows, where they would
have been opposed by an equal number of heavier ships, more numerously
manned, and would lose whatever advantage their superior handiness and
seaworthiness gave them, through having no room to manoeuvre. He kept
his fleet of four hundred triremes sufficiently far from the shore to avoid
the shelving shallows that fringe it near the entrance to the straits, and
to have ample sea-room.

    [Illustration: ROMAN WARSHIPS
    _After the paintings found at Pompeii_]

For some time the fleets remained in presence of each other, both
hesitating to begin the attack. Antony knew that his slower and heavier
ships would have the best chance acting inshore and on the defensive, and
Agrippa was, on the other hand, anxious not to engage until he could lure
them out seaward, where his light craft would have all the gain of rapid
manoeuvring.

It was not till near noon that at last the Western fleet closed with the
Allies. The ships that first encountered were nearly all Roman vessels, for
the Egyptian and Asiatic squadrons were not in the front line of Antony's
fleet, and the brunt of the attack fell upon the sluggish giants that had
been so elaborately fortified with booms in the water and towers and
breastworks on their decks. As the attacking ships came into range, arrows,
javelins, and stones flew hurtling through the air from the line of
floating castles, missiles that did not, however, inflict much loss, for
the men on the decks of the attacking fleet crouched behind bulwarks or
covered themselves with their oblong shields, and their bowmen made some
show of reply to the heavier discharge of engines of war on Antony's ships
and to the more rapid shooting of the Asiatic archers. The days were still
far off when sea fights would be decided by "fire," in the sense of the
discharge of projectiles.

Could the tall ships have rammed the smaller and lower galleys of Octavian
and Agrippa they would certainly have sent them to the bottom--a sunken
ship for each blow of the brazen beak. But attempts at ramming were soon
found by Antony's captains to be both useless and dangerous. It was not
merely that their lighter and nimbler opponents easily avoided the onset.
The well-trained crews evaded every attempt to run them down or grapple
them, chose their own distance as they hovered round their huge
adversaries, and presently as they gained confidence from impunity, began
successfully to practise the manoeuvre of eluding the ram, and using their
own bows, not for a blow against the hull of the heavier ship, but to sweep
away and shatter her long oars, that were too heavy to be saved by drawing
them in or unshipping them. Successful attack on the oars was equivalent to
disabling an adversary's engines in a modern sea-fight. And when a ship was
thus crippled, her opponents could choose their own time to concentrate
several of their ships for a joint attempt to take her by boarding.

The unwieldy ships of Antony's first line, with their half-trained and
untrained crews, must have formed a straggling irregular line with large
intervals as they stood out to sea, and it was this that gave Octavian's
fleet the opportunity for the worrying tactics they adopted. Had the
Egyptian and Phoenician ships come to the support of the leading line,
their more sailor-like crews might have helped to turn the scale against
Octavian. But while the fight was yet undecided and before the Egyptian
squadron had taken any part in it, a breeze sprang up from the land,
blowing from the north-east. Then, to the dismay of Antony's veterans who
watched the battle from the headland of Actium, it was seen that the
Egyptians were unfurling their sails from the long yards. The signal had
been given from Cleopatra's stately vessel, which as the battle began had
rowed out to a position in the midst of the Egyptian squadron, and now
shook out her purple sails to the breeze, silken fabrics of fiery red, that
seemed at first glance like a battle-signal. But in battle sails were never
used and ships trusted entirely to the oar, so to set the sails meant
plainly that the fight was to be abandoned.

Driven by her silver-tipped oars, helped now with the land breeze that
swelled her sails, Cleopatra's galley passed astern of the fighting-line on
its extreme left, and sixty of the warships of Alexandria followed their
queen. Those who watched from the land must have hoped against hope that
this was a novel manoeuvre, to use the breeze to aid the squadron of their
allies to shoot out from behind the main body, gain the flank of the enemy,
and then suddenly let the sails flap idly, furl or drop them, and sweep
down with full speed of oars on the rear of the attack, with Cleopatra
leading like Artemisia at Salamis. But the "serpent of old Nile" had no
such ideas. She was in full flight for Alexandria, with her warships
escorting her and conveying the wealth that had been embarked when it was
decided to put to sea. Was her flight an act of treachery, or the result of
panic-stricken alarm at the sight of the battle? But even her enemies never
accused her of any lack of personal courage, and there are many indications
that it had been arranged before the fleet came out, that, as soon as an
opportunity offered, Cleopatra with a sufficient escort should make for
Egypt, where several legions were in garrison, and where even if the army
now camped beside the Ambracian Gulf could not be extricated from its
difficulties, another army might be formed to prolong the war.

But the withdrawal of the sixty ships threw the odds of battle heavily
against the rest of Antony's fleet. And matters were made worse by its
leader suddenly allowing his infatuation for the Queen of Egypt to sweep
away all sense of his duty to his comrades and followers and his honour as
a commander. As he saw Cleopatra's sails curving round his line and making
for the open sea, he hastily left his flagship, boarded a small and swift
galley, and sped after the Egyptians.

Agrippa was too good a leader to weaken his attack on the main body of the
enemy by any attempt to interrupt the flight of the Egyptian squadron. When
he saw the galley of Antony following it, he guessed who was on board, and
detached a few of his triremes in pursuit. Antony was saved from capture
only by the rearward ships of the fugitive squadron turning back to engage
and delay the pursuers. In this rearguard fight two of the Egyptian
warships were captured by Agrippa's cruisers. But meanwhile Antony's galley
had run alongside of the royal flagship of the Egyptian fleet, and he had
been welcomed on board by Cleopatra.

By this time, however, he had begun to realize the consequences of his
flight. Half an hour ago he had stood on the deck of a fighting ship, where
comrades who had made his cause their own were doing brave battle against
his enemies. Now, while the fight still raged far away astern, he found
himself on the deck of a pleasure yacht, glittering with gold and silver,
silk and ivory, and with women and slaves forming a circle round the Queen,
who greeted him as he trod the carpeted deck. He made only a brief
acknowledgment of her welcome, and then turned away and strode forward to
the bow, where he sat alone, huddled together, brooding on thoughts of
failure and disgrace, while the royal galley and its escort of warships
sped southward with oar and sail, and the din of battle died away in the
distance, and all sight of it was lost beyond the horizon.

The withdrawal of the Egyptians was a palpable discouragement to all the
fleet, but not all were aware that their leader, Antony, had shared
Cleopatra's flight. Some of those who realized what had happened gave up
all further effort for victory, and leaving the line drove ashore on the
sandy beach of Actium, and abandoning their ships joined the spectators
from the camp. Others made their way by the strait into the great
land-locked haven of the Gulf. But most of the fleet still kept up the
fight. The great ships that drifted helplessly, with broken oars, among the
agile galleys of Agrippa's Liburnian sailors, or that grounded in the
shallows nearer the shore, were, even in their helplessness as ships,
formidable floating forts that it was difficult to sink and dangerous to
storm. More than one attempt to board was repulsed with loss, the high
bulwarks and towers giving an advantage to the large fighting contingents
that Antony had embarked. Some of them had drifted together, and were
lashed side to side, so that their crews could mutually aid each other, and
their archers bring a cross fire on the assailants of their wooden towers.
Some ships had been sunk on both sides, and a few of the towered warships
of the Eastern fleet had been captured by Agrippa, but at the cost of much
loss of life.

To complete the destruction of the Antonian fleet, and secure his victory,
Agrippa now adopted means that could not have been suddenly improvised, and
must therefore have been prepared in advance, perhaps at the earlier
period, when he was considering the chances of forcing a way into the Gulf.
Fire was the new weapon, arrows wreathed with oiled and blazing tow were
shot at the towers and bulwarks of the enemy. Rafts laden with combustibles
were set on fire, and towed or pushed down upon the drifting sea-castles.
Ship after ship burst into flame. As the fire spread some tried vainly to
master it; others, at an early stage, abandoned their ships, or
surrendered. As the resistance of the defeated armada gradually slackened,
and about four o'clock came to an end, it was found that a number of ships
had taken refuge in the narrows and the Gulf; others were aground on the
point; a few had been sunk, some more had surrendered, but numbers were
drifting on the sea, wrapped in smoke and flame. Some of these sank as the
fire reached the water's edge, and the waves lapped into the hollow hull,
or the weight of half-consumed upper works capsized them. Others drifted
ashore in the shallows, and reddened sea and land with the glare of their
destruction far into the night.

For the men who had fought, the victory, complete as it was, had an element
of disappointment. They had hoped to secure as a prize the treasures of
Cleopatra, but these had been spirited away on the Egyptian fleet. But for
the commanders, Octavian and his able lieutenant, there was nothing to
regret. The battle had once more decided the issue between East and West,
and had given Octavian such advantages that it would be his own fault if he
were not soon master of the Roman World.

Within a few days the remnant of the defeated fleet had been surrendered or
burned at its anchors. The army of Canidius, after a half-hearted attempt
at an inland march, and after being further weakened by desertions,
declared for Octavian, and joined his standards.

Cleopatra had entered the port of Alexandria with a pretence of returning
in triumph from a naval victory. Laurel wreaths hung on spars and bulwarks,
flags flew, trumpets sounded, and she received the enthusiastic greetings
of Greeks and Egyptians as she landed. But the truth could not be long
concealed, and under the blight of defeat, linked with stories of leaders
deserting comrades and allies, Antony and Cleopatra failed to rally any
determined support to their side when the conqueror of Actium came to
threaten Egypt itself. Both ended their lives with their own hands,
Cleopatra only resorting to this act of desperation when, after breaking
with Antony, she failed to enslave Octavian with her charms, and foresaw
that she would appear among the prisoners at his coming triumph in Rome.

2 September, B.C. 31--the day of Actium--is the date which most historians
select to mark the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the
Empire. The victor Octavian had already taken the name of his grand-uncle,
Cæsar. He now adopted the title of Augustus, and accepted from army and
senate the permanent rank of Imperator, inaugurating a system of absolutism
that kept some of the forms of the old Republic as a thin disguise for the
change to Imperialism.

On the height where he had camped before the battle, Nicopolis, the City of
Victory, was erected. The ground where his tent had stood was the
marble-paved forum, adorned with the brazen beaks of conquered warships.
The temple of Apollo, on the point of Actium, was rebuilt on more ambitious
lines, and on the level expanse of sandy ground behind it, every September,
for some two hundred years, the "Actian games" were held to celebrate the
decisive victory.

Augustus did not forget that to the fleet he had owed his success in the
civil war, and naval stations were organized and squadrons of warships kept
in commission even in the long days of peace that followed his victory.
They served to keep the Mediterranean free from the plague of piracy, and
to secure the growing oversea commerce of the Empire which had made the
Mediterranean a vast Roman lake.



    CHAPTER III

    THE BATTLE OF SVOLD ISLAND

    A.D. 1000


In the story of the battles of Salamis and Actium we have seen what naval
warfare was like in Greek and Roman times. It would be easy to add other
examples, but they would be only repetitions of much the same story, for
during the centuries of the Roman power there was no marked change in naval
architecture or the tactics of warfare on the sea.

We pass, then, over a thousand years to a record of naval war waged in the
beginning of the Middle Ages by northern races--people who had,
independently of Greek or Roman, evolved somewhat similar types of ships,
but who were better sailors, though for all that they still used the ship
not so much as an engine of war as the floating platform on which warriors
might meet in hand-to-hand conflict. Norseman, Dane, and Swede were all of
kindred blood. The land-locked Baltic, the deep fiords of the Scandinavian
Peninsula, the straits and inlets of the archipelago that fringes its North
Sea coast, were the waters on which they learned such skill in seamanship
that they soon launched out upon the open sea, and made daring voyages, not
only to the Orkneys and the Hebrides, and the Atlantic seaboard of Ireland,
but the Faroes, and to still more distant Iceland and Greenland, and then
southward to "Vineland," the mainland of America, long after rediscovered
by the navigators of the fifteenth century.

There is a considerable intermixture of Norse blood in the peoples of Great
Britain and Ireland, and perhaps from this sea-loving race comes some of
the spirit of adventure that has helped so much to build up our own naval
power. When Nelson destroyed and captured the Danish fleet at Copenhagen,
the Danes consoled themselves by saying that only a leader of their own
blood could have conquered them, and that Nelson's name showed he came of
the Viking line.

A chronicler tells how Charlemagne in his old age once came to a village on
the North Sea shore, and camped beside it. Looking to seaward he saw far
out some long low ships, with gaily painted oars, dragon-shaped bows, and
sails made of brightly coloured lengths of stuff sewn together and adorned
with embroidery along the yard. Tears came to his eyes as he said: "These
sea-dragons will tear asunder the empire I have made."

They were Viking cruisers, on their way to plunder some coast town; and the
old Emperor's prophecy was verified when the Norman, who was a civilized
Norseman, became for a while the conquering race of Europe. Even before the
death of Charlemagne the Norse and Danish sea-kings were raiding,
plundering, and burning along the coasts of his Empire. Two hundred years
of our own history is made up of the story of their incursions. England and
Ireland bore the first brunt of their onset, when they found the ways of
the sea. But they ravaged all the western coasts of Europe, and even showed
themselves in the Mediterranean. From the end of the eighth till the
beginning of the eleventh century they were the terror of the western
world, and early in that dark and stormy period their raids had grown into
great expeditions; they landed armies that marched far inland, and they
carved out principalities for themselves.

Western Europe had a brief respite at times when the Vikings fought amongst
themselves. In early days there were frequent struggles for supremacy in
Norway, between local kinglets and ambitious chiefs. Fighting was in the
blood of the Northmen. Two sea-roving squadrons would sometimes challenge
each other to battle for the mere sake of a fight. As Norway coalesced into
a single kingdom, and as the first teachers of Christianity induced the
kings to suppress piracy, there was more of peace and order on the Northern
Seas. But in this transition period there was more than one struggle
between the Scandinavian kingdoms, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. One of the
most famous battles of these northern wars of the sea-kings was fought in
this period, when the old wild days of sea-roving were drawing to an end,
and its picturesque story may well be told as that of a typical Norse
battle, for its hero, King Olaf Tryggveson, was the ideal of a northern
sea-king.

Olaf was a descendant of the race of Harold Haarfager, "Fair-haired
Harold," the warrior who had united the kingdom of Norway, and made himself
its chief king at the close of the ninth century. But Olaf came of a branch
of the royal house that civil war had reduced to desperate straits. He was
born when his mother, Astrid, was a fugitive in a lonely island of the
Baltic. As a boy he was sold into slavery in Russia. There, one day, in the
marketplace of an Esthonian town, he was recognized by a relative, Sigurd,
the brother of Astrid, and was freed from bondage and trained to arms as a
page at the Court of the Norse adventurers who ruled the land. The "Saga"
tells how Olaf, the son of Tryggva, grew to be tall of stature, and strong
of limb, and skilled in every art of land and sea, of peace and war. None
swifter than he on the snow-shoes in winter, no bolder swimmer when the
summer had cleared the ice from the waters. He could throw darts with both
hands, he could toss up two swords, catching them like a juggler, and
keeping one always in the air. He could climb rocks and peaks like a
mountain goat. He could row and sail, and had been known to display his
daring skill as an athlete by running along the moving oars outside the
ship. He could ride a horse, and fight, mounted or on foot, with axe or
sword, with spear or bow.

In early manhood he came back to Norway to avenge the death of his father
Tryggva, and then took to sea-roving, for piracy was still the Norseman's
trade. He raided the shores of the Continent from Friesland to Northern
France, but most of his piratical voyages were to the shores of our own
islands, and many a seaboard town in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland
saw Olaf's plundering squadron of swift ships. Five was the number of them
with which he visited the Orkneys.

The Viking warships were small vessels. The ship dug out of the great grave
mound at Sandefjord, in Norway, and now shown at Christiania, is
seventy-seven feet long, with a beam of seventeen amidships, and a depth of
just under six feet. Her draught of water would be only four feet, and she
would lie very low in the water, but her lines are those of a good sea
boat. She had one mast, forty feet high, to carry a crossyard and a square
sail, and she had thirty-two oars, sixteen on each side. It says something
for the seamanship of the Northmen that it was with ships like this they
sailed the Atlantic waves off the west coast of Ireland, and made their way
by the North Sea and the verge of the Arctic to the Faroes, Iceland,
Greenland, and the mysterious "Vineland."[4]

    [4] Some interesting light was thrown upon the voyages of the
    Norsemen by a practical experiment made in 1893. A Viking ship
    was built on the precise lines and dimensions of the ancient
    ship dug out of the mound of Gokstadt in 1880, 77 feet long with
    a beam of 17 feet, and was rigged with one mast and a square
    mainsail and jib foresail. As a prelude to her being shown at
    the Chicago Exhibition she was successfully taken across the
    Atlantic under sail and without an escorting ship. She left
    Bergen on May 1st, 1893, and arrived at Newport, Rhode Island,
    U.S.A., on June 13th. She was commanded by Captain Magnus
    Andersen, who in 1886 had performed the feat of crossing the
    Atlantic in an open boat. Andersen had a crew of eleven men in
    the Viking ship. He reported that she had met with some bad
    weather and proved an excellent sea boat. Her average speed was
    nine knots, but with a fair wind she did eleven. In the
    following year the ship was accidentally sunk in the Chicago
    river, and raised and broken up.

Raiding in the Irish Sea, Olaf Tryggveson made a stay in a harbour of the
Scilly Islands, and there he became a convert to Christianity. On the same
voyage he married the Countess Gyde, sister of his namesake, Olaf Kvaran,
the Danish King of Dublin. It was while he was staying in Ireland with the
Dublin Danes that he heard news from Norway that opened larger ambitions to
him. The land was divided among many chiefs, and the most powerful of them
was hated as an oppressor by the people, who, he was told, would gladly
welcome as their king a leader as famed as Olaf Tryggveson, and
representing the line of Harold the Fair-haired. Helped by the Danes of
Ireland, he sailed back to Norway, to win its crown for himself, and to
cast down the worship of Thor and Odin, and make the land part of
Christendom.

In the first enterprise he was quickly successful, and in 995 he was
recognized as King of Norway at Trondhjem. During the five years that he
reigned he devoted much of his energy to the second part of his mission,
and made among his countrymen many real converts, and found still more
ready to accept external conformity. Sometimes he would argue, exhort,
appeal to the reason and the goodwill of chiefs and people. But often the
old Viking spirit of his pagan days would master him, and he would hack
down with his battle-axe the emblems and the altars of Thor and Odin, and
challenge the old gods to avenge the insult if they had the power, and then
tell the startled onlookers that if they were to be loyal to him and live
in peace they must accept the new and better creed.

The open sea and the deep fiords running far into the hills were the best
highways of his kingdom, and Olaf spared no effort to maintain a good
fighting fleet, the best ships of which lay anchored before his great hall
at Trondhjem when he was at home. When he went out to war his path was by
the sea. He hunted down the pirates and destroyed their strongholds in the
northern fiords, with none the less zeal because these places were also the
last refuge of the old paganism and its Berserker magicians.

He had built for his own use a ship called the "Crane" (_Tranen_), longer
than ships were usually made at the time, and also of narrower beam. Her
additional length enabled more oars to be used, and her sharp bow, carved
into a bird's head, and her graceful lines made her the fastest ship in the
fiords when a good crew of rowers was swinging to the oars. A good
rowing-boat is generally a bad sailer, but Olaf had made the "Crane" swift
enough under canvas, or to speak more accurately, when her sails of
brightly dyed wool were spread. She was given high bulwarks, and must have
had more than the usual four-foot draught of water, for she carried plenty
of heavy stone ballast to stiffen her under sail. With the "Crane" as his
flagship, Olaf sailed northward to attack the Viking Raud, pirate and
magician, who held out for the old gods and the old wild ways. Raud had
another exceptionally large ship, the longest in Norway, and till the
"Crane" was built the swiftest also. The bow, carved into a dragon's head
and covered with brazen scales, gave Raud's ship the name of the "Serpent"
(_Ormen_). As Olaf sailed northward Raud and his allies met him in a
skirmish at sea, but soon gave way to superior numbers, and Raud, when he
steered the "Serpent" into the recesses of Salten Fiord, thought he had
shaken off pursuit, especially as the weather had broken, and wild winds,
stormy seas, and driving mists and rain squalls might well make the fiord
inaccessible to Olaf's fleet. Raud sat late feasting and drinking, and in
the early morning he still lay in a drunken sleep when the "Crane" slipped
into the fiord despite mist and storm, and Olaf seized the dragon ship and
made Raud a prisoner almost without striking a blow.

When the King returned to Trondhjem he had the two finest ships of the
north, the "Crane" and the "Serpent," the latter the largest, the former
the swiftest vessel that had yet been launched on the northern seas. Proud
of such weapons, he wondered if he could not build a warship longer than
the "Serpent" and swifter than the "Crane," and he consulted his best
shipbuilder, Thorberg Haarklover, i.e. the "Hair-splitter," so named from
his deftness with the sharp adze, the shipwright's characteristic tool in
the days of wooden walls. Thorberg was given a free hand, and promised to
build a ship that would be famous for centuries. This was the "Lang Ormen,"
or "Long Serpent," a "Dreadnought" of those old Viking days. She was 150
feet long, and her sides rose high out of the water, but she had also a
deep draught. The bow, strengthened with a cut-water of steel, was
fashioned like the head of a huge dragon, the stern carved into a dragon's
tail, and bow and stern were covered with scales of gold. She had sixty
oars, and her crew was made up of no less than six hundred picked men,
among them warriors whose names live in history.

For a while Olaf, with his great ships, reigned victoriously over Norway,
defeating more than one effort of the old pagan Vikings to shake his power.
One of these defeated rivals, Erik Jarl (Earl Erik), took refuge in Sweden,
gathered there a number of adherents who had like himself fled from Norway
to avoid Olaf's strong-handed methods of reform and conversion, and with
them sailed the Baltic, plundering its coasts in the old Viking fashion.
King Svend of Denmark was jealous of the power of Norway, welcomed Erik at
his Court, and gave him his daughter's hand. Svend's queen, Sigrid, was a
Swedish princess, and Erik set to work to form a triple league against
Norway of which the three branches would be his own following of Norwegian
malcontents and the Swedes and Danes.

Olaf had spent the summer of the year 1000, with a fleet of sixty ships, in
the South-Eastern Baltic. Autumn was coming, and the King was preparing to
return home before the wintry weather began, when news arrived that
hastened his departure. It was brought by one of his jarls, Earl Sigvald,
who came with eleven ships, manned by his clansmen, and reported that the
rebel Erik had been joined by the kings of Sweden and Denmark, and the
three fleets of the allies were preparing to fall upon Olaf on his homeward
voyage. But Sigvald assured the King that if he would allow him to pilot
the Norwegian fleet he would take it safely through channels deep enough
for even the "Long Serpent," and elude the hostile armada, which
outnumbered Olaf's fleet three to one.

Sigvald, however, was a traitor. He had promised to lead Olaf into waters
where the allied fleets would be waiting to attack him. And he knew they
would be anchored inside the island of Rügen, near the islet of Svold.

So Olaf, trusting to his false friend, sailed westward from Wendland to his
last battle. The "Saga" tells how on a bright morning, Erik Jarl and the
two kings watched from Svold the approach of the Norwegian ships, and at
first doubted if Olaf was with them, but when they saw the "Long Serpent"
towering above the rest they doubted no longer, and gave orders for their
180 ships to clear for action, agreeing that Norway should be divided among
them and the "Long Serpent" should be the prize of whoever first set foot
on her deck, so sure were they that numbers would give them victory even
against a champion of the seas like Olaf Tryggveson. The swift "Crane" and
the "Short Serpent," taken from Raud of Salten Fiord, had sailed ahead of
the fleet. They saw the ships of the allies crowding out of the channel
between Svold and the mainland, and turned back to give the alarm.
Thorkild, the half-brother of Olaf, who commanded the "Short Serpent,"
urged the King to bear out to sea and avoid a fight with such desperate
odds. But Olaf's blood was up. Like the triremes of the Mediterranean, the
"Serpents," "Dragons," and "Cranes" of the northern seas used only the oars
in battle, and the King gave the order which meant fighting. "Down with the
sails!" he said. "Who talks of running away? I never fled yet and never
will. My life is in God's hands, but flight would be shame for ever."

The battle that followed is the most famous in Viking story. We know it
chiefly through poetic records. But there is no doubt the "Saga" preserves
for us much of the living tradition of the time, and if its writers yielded
to the temptation of decorating their narrative with picturesque detail, it
must be remembered that they told the tale of Olaf's last sea-fight to men
who knew from experience what Northern war was like, so they give us what
we chiefly want, a lifelike picture of a Viking battle.

Just as Shakespeare tells how at Shrewsbury "the King had many marching in
his coats," and to this day in an Abyssinian army several nobles are
dressed and armed like the King to divert personal attack from him, so, as
he stood on the after-deck of the "Long Serpent," Olaf had beside him one
of his best warriors, Kolbiorn Slatter, a man like himself in height and
build, and wearing the same splendid armour, with gilded shield and helmet
and crimson cloak. Round them were grouped the picked fighting men of the
bodyguard, the "Shield-burg," so called because it was their duty to form a
breastwork of their shields and ward off arrows and javelins from the King.
On the poop also were the King's trumpeters bearing the "war horns"--long
horns of the wild ox, which now sounded the signal for battle. The droning
call was taken up by ship after ship, as the shouting sailors sent down
sails and yards on deck. The ships closed on each other side by side, and
drew in their oars, forming in close line abreast, and then under bare
masts the long array of war galleys, with their high bows carved into heads
of beasts and birds and dragons, drifted with the current towards the
hostile fleet.

The sailors were lashing the ships together as they moved. Manoeuvring
appears to have had small part in most Viking fights. The fleet became one
great floating fortress, and as the ships met bow to bow the best warriors
fought hand to hand on the forecastle decks.

    [Illustration: A VIKING FLEET]

The writer of the "Saga" tells how in the centre of the fleet the "Long
Serpent" lay, with the "Crane" and the "Short Serpent" to port and
starboard. The sterns of the three ships were in line, and so the bow of
the "Long Serpent" projected far in front of the rest. As the sailors
secured the ships in position, Ulf the Red-haired, who commanded on the
forecastle of the "Long Serpent," went aft and called out to the King that
if the "Serpent" lay so far ahead he and his men would have tough work in
the bow. "Are you afraid?" asked the King. "We are no more afraid forward
than you are aft," replied Ulf, with a flash of anger. The King lost his
temper and threatened Ulf with an arrow on his bowstring. "Put down your
bow," said Ulf. "If you shoot me you wound your own hand," and then he went
back to his post on the forecastle deck.

The allied fleet was now formed in line and bearing down on the Norwegians.
Sigvald Jarl, who had lured the King into this ambush, hung back with his
eleven ships, and Olaf with his sixty had to meet a threefold force. King
Svend, with the Danish fleet, formed the enemy's centre. To his right
Olaf's namesake, King Olaf Svensker, led the Swedish ships. On the left was
Erik, with the rebel heathen Jarls of Norway. Olaf watched the enemy's
approach and talked to Kolbiorn and the men of the Shield-burg. He did not
reckon that the Danes or the Swedes would give much trouble, he said; the
Danes were soft fellows, and the Swedes would be better "at home pickling
fish" than risking themselves in fight with Norsemen, but Erik's attack
would be dangerous. "These are Norwegians like ourselves. It will be hard
against hard."

Perhaps we have here a touch of flattery for his countrymen from the poet
of the "Saga," a Norseman telling the tale to men of his own race. However
this may be, the words put into Olaf's mouth were true so far as the rebel
Jarls were concerned, even if they did injustice to Dane and Swede.

Erik Jarl seems to have had some inventive talent and some idea of naval
tactics. His ship was called the "Iron Beard," because her bows bristled
with sharpened spikes of iron. She was to be herself a weapon, not merely a
means of bringing fighting men to close quarters for a hand-to-hand
struggle. It is remarkable that, though it proved useful at the battle of
Svold, the armed bow found no regular place in Viking warfare. The "Iron
Beard" also anticipated modern methods in another way. Her bulwarks were
covered with iron-plating. It cannot have been of any serious thickness,
for a Viking ship had not enough displacement to spare for carrying heavy
armour; but the thin plates were strong enough to be a defence against
arrows and spears, and as these would not penetrate a thick wooden bulwark
it seems likely that the plating was fixed on a rail running along each
side, thus giving a higher protection than the bulwark itself. Erik's ship
was thus a primitive ironclad ram.

Though Olaf had spoken lightly of the Danes, it was King Svend's squadron
that began the fight, rowing forward in advance of the rest and falling on
the right and right centre of Olaf's fleet. The Swedes at first hung back.
Svend himself on the left of the Danish attack steered straight for the
projecting bows of the "Long Serpent." Red-haired Ulf grappled the Danish
King's ship, boarded her, and after a fierce fight in which the Norwegian
battle-axes did deadly work, cleared her from end to end. King Svend saved
his life by clambering on board of another ship. Olaf and his men from the
high stern of the "Long Serpent" shot their arrows with telling effect into
the Danish ships. All along the centre the Norwegians held their own, and
gradually the Danes began to give way. It was then only the Swedes worked
their ships into the mêlée that raged in front of the line of Norwegian
bows. To have swept round the line and attacked in flank and rear, while
the Danes still grappled it in front, would have been a more effective
method of attack, but the opponents thought only of meeting front to front
like fighting bulls. It may be too that Olaf's fleet had so drifted that
there was not much room to pass between its right wing on the land.

But however this may be, there was plenty of sea room on the left, and here
Erik Jarl, in the "Iron Beard," led the attack and used his advantage to
the full. Part of his squadron fell upon the Norwegian front; but the "Iron
Beard" and several of her consorts swung round the end of the line, and
concentrated their attack on the outside ship. Erik had grasped a cardinal
principle of naval tactics, the importance of trying to crush a part of the
hostile line by bringing a local superiority of force to bear upon it. It
was "hard against hard"--Viking against Viking--but the Norwegians in the
end ship were hopelessly outnumbered. They fought furiously and sold their
lives dearly; but soon the armed bow of the "Iron Beard" drove between
their ship and the next, the lashings were cut, and the Norwegian drifted
out of the line, with her deck heaped with dead. Erik let her drift and
attacked the next ship in the same way. He was eating up Olaf's left wing
ship by ship, while the Danes and Swedes kept the centre and right busy.

It was the bloodiest fight that the North had ever seen, a fight to the
death, for though there was now small hope of victory, the Norse battle
madness was strong in Olaf and his men. As the day wore on the right held
its own; but one by one every ship on the left had been cleared by Erik and
the Jarls, and now the battle raged round the three great ships in the
centre, the "Crane" and the two "Serpents." Erik came up and drove the bow
of the "Iron Beard" into the "Long Serpent's" bulwarks. The rebel Jarl
stood on the forecastle behind the bristling spikes, his blood-stained
battle-axe in hand and his Shield-burg standing close around him.

They had now hard work to ward off the arrows that came whistling from the
"Long Serpent," for at such close quarters Erik had been recognized, and
more than one archer shot at him. The "Saga" tells how young Einar
Tamberskelver, the best of the bowmen of Norway, so strong that he could
send a blunt arrow through a bull's hide, had posted himself in the rigging
of the "Long Serpent" and made the rebel Jarl his mark. His arrows rattled
on the shields of Erik's guard. One of them grazed his helmet, whistled
over the "Iron Beard's" deck and buried itself in her rudder-head.
Crouching in the bow of the "Iron Beard" behind her armour plates was a
Finnish archer, and the Finlanders were such good bowmen that men said
sorcery aided their skill. Erik told him to shoot the man in the
"Serpent's" rigging. The Finn, to show his marksmanship, aimed at Einar's
bowstring and cut it with his arrow. The bow released from the string
sprang open and broke with a loud report. "What is that sound?" asked Olaf.
Einar sprang down from the rigging and answered, "It is the sound of the
sceptre of Norway falling from your grasp." It was noticed that Olaf's hand
was bleeding, "his gauntlet was full of blood," but he had given no sign
when he was wounded. Arrows, javelins, and stones were falling in showers
on the decks of the "Crane" and the "Serpents," for the Danes and Swedes
worsted in the close fight had drawn off a little, and were helping Erik's
attack by thus fighting at a safer distance.

Erik now boarded the "Long Serpent" amidships, but was beaten back. He
brought up more of his ships and gathered a larger boarding-party. The
Danish and Swedish arrows had thinned the ranks of Ulf's men in the "Long
Serpent's" bows. When Erik led a second storming-party on board, Danes and
Swedes too came clambering over the bow, and the "Long Serpent" attacked on
all sides was cleared to the poop. Here Olaf fought with Kolbiorn, Einar
and the men of the Shield-burg around him. He was somewhat disabled by his
wounded hand, but he still used his battle-axe with deadly effect. The
attacking party were not quite sure which of the tall men in gilded armour
was the King, but at such close quarters some of them soon recognized him,
and Erik called to his men not to kill Olaf, but to make him prisoner. Olaf
knew well that if his life was spared for a while it would be only to put
him to death finally with the cruelty the heathen Vikings delighted in
inflicting on their enemies. As his men fell round him and his party was
driven further and further astern, he must have seen that, outnumbered as
his men were, and with himself wounded, he would soon be overmastered and
made prisoner. There was just one chance of escape for the best swimmer in
Norway. Holding up his shield he stepped on the bulwark, threw the shield
at his enemies, and dived overboard. Kolbiorn tried to dive with him, but
was seized and dragged back to the ship. When Erik found he was not the
King he spared his life.

The few who remained of the Shield-burg sprang overboard. Some were killed
by men who were waiting in boats to dispose of the fugitives, others
escaped by diving and swimming, and reached Danish and Swedish ships where
they asked for, and were given, quarter. Einar, the archer, was one of
those thus saved, and he is heard of later in the Danish wars of England.

Olaf was never seen again. Sigvald's ships, after having watched the fight
from afar, were rowing up to the victorious fleets, and for a long time
there was a rumour that King Olaf had slipped out of his coat of mail as he
swam under water, and then rose and eluded Erik's boats, and reached one of
Sigvald's ships, where he was hidden. The tale ran that he had been taken
back to Wendland, where he was waiting to reappear some day in Norway and
claim his own. But years went on and there were no tidings of King Olaf
Tryggveson. He had been drowned in his armour under the stern of the "Long
Serpent."

King Olaf is still, after nine centuries, one of the popular heroes of the
Norwegian people. He had a twofold fame, as the ideal of a sea-king, as the
ruler who tried in his own wild untaught way to win the land of the Fiords
to Christendom. Another Olaf, who completed this last work a few years
later, and who, like Olaf Tryggveson, reigned over Norway in right of his
prowess and his descent from Harold the Fair-haired, is remembered as St.
Olaf, saint and martyr; but no exploit of either king lives in popular
tradition so brightly as the story of Olaf Tryggveson's death-battle at
Svold. "My life is in God's hands," he had said, "but flight would be shame
for ever." His fight against desperate odds and ending in defeat and death
won him fame for ever.



    CHAPTER IV

    SLUYS

    1340


The gold "nobles" of the coinage of King Edward III show in conventional
fashion the King standing in the waist of a ship with a high bow and poop,
the red-cross banner of St. George at the stern and the lions of England
and the lilies of France emblazoned on his shield. The device typifies his
claim to the sovereignty of the narrow seas between England and the
Continent, the prize won for him by the fleet that conquered at Sluys.

Sluys is often spoken of as the sea-fight that inaugurated the long
victorious career of the British Navy. It would be more correct to say that
it was the battle which, by giving King Edward the command of the Channel,
made his successful invasion of France possible, and secured for England
the possession of Calais. Holding both Dover and Calais the English for two
centuries were masters of the narrow sea-gate through which all the trade
between northern Europe and the rest of the world had to pass. They had the
power of bringing severe pressure to bear upon the German cities of the
Hansa League, the traders of the Low Countries, the merchants of Spain,
Genoa, and Venice, by their control of this all-important waterway. Hence
the claim upheld till the seventeenth century that the King of England was
"Sovereign of the Seas," and that in the Channel and the North Sea every
foreign ship had to lower her sails and salute any English "King's ship"
that she met.

Sluys, which had such far-reaching consequences, was not the first of
English naval victories. Alfred the Great maintained in the latter part of
his reign a fleet of small ships to guard the coasts against the Norse and
Danish pirates, and this won him the name of founder of the British Navy.
But for centuries after there was no attempt at forming or keeping up a
regular naval establishment. Alfred's navy must have been dispersed under
his weaker successors, for the Northmen never found any serious obstacles
to their raids. Harold had no navy, and the result was that in a single
twelvemonth England was twice invaded, first by Harold Hadrada and Tostig,
who were beaten at Stamford Bridge, and then by William the Norman, who
conquered at Hastings. But even the Conqueror had no fighting fleet. His
ships were used merely to ferry his army across the Channel, and he made no
attempt to use them against the Northmen who harried the east coast. The
record of victory begins with the reign of King John, when in 1213 William
Longsword, his half-brother, with a fleet gathered from the shipping of
Dover and the south-eastern ports, destroyed a French fleet that had
assembled on the coast of the Netherlands to transport an invading army to
England. Damme (i.e. "the dams or embankments to keep out the sea") was
then a fortified port. It is now a Dutch village, some miles from the
coast, in the midst of green meadows won from the sea, with roads shaded by
avenues of trees, and only the traffic of its canal to remind it that it
once had a harbour.

Four years later Hubert de Burgh, Governor of Dover Castle, defeated
another attempted raid on England by improvising a fleet and attacking the
French squadron in the Straits. De Burgh got to windward of the French,
then sailed down on them, grappled and boarded them. There was an incident
which happily we do not hear of again in naval warfare. As the English
scrambled on board of the French ships they threw quicklime in the eyes of
their opponents. It was, no doubt, an ugly trick of piratical fighting, for
in those days when there was no police of the seas there was a certain
amount of piracy and smuggling carried on by the men of Dover and the
Cinque Ports. Just as for lack of police protection highway robbery was a
danger of travel by road, so till organized naval power developed there was
a good deal of piracy in the European seas, and peaceful traders sailed in
large fleets for mutual protection, just as travellers on land took care to
have companions for a journey. The Channel was also enlivened by occasional
fights for fishing-grounds between fleets of fishing-craft, and the
quicklime trick of Hubert de Burgh's battle was probably one of the methods
of this irregular warfare.

Edward I had a navy which did useful service by coasting northward, as his
armies marched into Scotland, and securing for them regular supplies and
reinforcements by sea. Under his weak successor the sea was neglected, and
it was the third Edward who used the navy effectually to secure that his
quarrel with France should be fought out, not on English ground, but on the
Continent, and thus became the founder of the sea power of England.

There was no Royal Navy in the modern sense of the term. When the King went
to war his fleet was recruited from three different sources. The warship
was a merchantman, on board of which a number of fighting-men, knights,
men-at-arms, archers and billmen were embarked. These were more numerous
than the crew of sailors which navigated the ship, for the largest vessels
of the time were not of more than two to three hundred tons, and as oars
were not used in the rough seas of the Channel and there was only one mast
with a single square sail, and perhaps a jib-foresail, the necessary hands
for sailing her were few. There was a dual command, the knight or noble who
led the fighting-men being no sailor, and having a pilot under him who
commanded the sailors and navigated the ship. This dual arrangement (which
we have seen at work in the fleets of more ancient days) left its traces in
our Navy up to the middle of the nineteenth century, when ships of the
Royal Navy still had, besides the captain, a "sailing master" among their
officers.

The King owned a small number of ships, which he maintained just as he kept
a number of knights in his pay to form his personal retinue on land. During
peace he hired these ships out to merchants, and when he called them back
for war service he took the crews that navigated them into his pay, and
sent his fighting-men on board. But the King's ships were the least
numerous element in the war fleet. Merchantmen were impressed for service
from London and the other maritime towns and cities, the feudal levy
providing the fighting complement. A third element in the fleet was
obtained from the Cinque Ports. There were really seven, not five, of
them--Dover, Hythe, Hastings, Winchelsea, Rye, Romney, and Sandwich. Under
their charter they enjoyed valuable privileges, in return for which they
were bound to provide, when the King called upon them, fifty-seven ships
and twelve hundred men and boys for fifteen days at their own expense, and
as long after as the King paid the necessary charges. The naming of so
short a term of service shows that maritime operations were expected not to
last long. It was, indeed, a difficult matter to keep a medieval fleet at
sea, and the conditions that produced this state of things lasted far into
the modern period. Small ships crowded with fighting-men had no room for
any large store of provisions and water. When the first scanty supply was
exhausted, unless they were in close touch with a friendly port, they had
to be accompanied by a crowd of storeships, and as the best merchantmen
would naturally have been impressed for the actual fighting, these would be
small, inferior, and less seaworthy ships, and the fleet would have to pay
as much attention to guarding its convoy as to operating against an enemy.
No wonder that as a rule the most that could be attempted was a short
voyage and a single stroke.

It was in 1340 that King Edward III challenged the title of Philip of
Valois to the crown of France, and by claiming it for himself began "the
Hundred Years' War." Both sides to the quarrel began to collect fleets and
armies, and both realized that the first struggle would be on the sea. It
would be thus decided whether the war was to be fought out on French or on
English ground.

The French King collected ships from his ports and strengthened his fleet
by hiring a number of large warships from Genoa, then one of the great
maritime republics of the Mediterranean. The Genoese sailors knew the
northern seas, for there were always some of their ships in the great
trading fleet that passed up the Channel each spring, bringing the produce
of the Mediterranean countries and the East to the northern ports of
Europe, and returned in the late summer laden with the merchandise of the
Hansa traders.

Early in the year King Philip had assembled a hundred and ninety ships,
large and small, French and Genoese, off the little town of Sluys on the
coast of Flanders. The fleet lay in the estuary of the river Eede. Like
Damme, Sluys has now become an inland village. Its name means "the sluice,"
and, like Damme, reminds us how the people of the Netherlands have for
centuries been winning their land from the sea by their great system of
dams to keep the sea-water back, and sluices to carry the river-water to
the sea. The estuary of the Eede where the French fleet anchored is now
pasture land traversed by a canal, and the embankments that keep the sea
from the meadow lands lie some miles to the westward of the place where
King Edward won his great naval victory.

Had the French acted at once, there was nothing to prevent them from
opening the war by invading England. Perhaps they did not know how slowly
the English fleet was assembling.

In the late spring when the French armament was nearly complete, King
Edward had only forty ships ready. They lay in the estuaries of the Orwell
and the Stour, inside Harwich, long a place of importance for English
naval wars in the North Sea. Gradually, week after week, other ships came
in from the Thames, and the northern seaports, from Southampton and the
Cinque Ports, and even from Bristol, creeping slowly along the coasts from
harbour to harbour. All this time the French might have swept the seas and
destroyed the English in detail; but they waited for more ships and more
men, and the time of opportunity went by.

At last in the beginning of June the English King had two hundred ships
assembled, from decked vessels down to open sailing-boats. An army crowded
on board of them, knights and nobles in shining armour, burghers and
peasants in steel caps and leather jerkins, armed with the long-bow or the
combined pike and long battle-axe known as the "bill." The King's ship flew
the newly adopted royal standard in which the golden lions on a red field,
the arms of England, were quartered with the golden lilies of France on a
field of blue, and another banner displaying the device that is still the
flag of the Royal Navy, the Red Cross of St. George on a field of white,
the banner adopted by Richard Coeur de Lion in his Crusade. The other ships
flew the banners of the barons and knights who commanded them, and on the
royal ship and those of the chief commanders there were trumpeters whose
martial notes were to give the signal for battle. As a knight of the Middle
Ages despised the idea of fighting on foot, and there might be a landing in
Flanders, some of the barons had provided for all eventualities by taking
with them their heavy war horses, uncomfortably stabled in the holds of the
larger ships.

The fleet sailed southward along the coast, keeping the land in sight. The
two hundred ships of varying rates of speed and handiness could not move in
the ordered lines of a modern naval armament, but streamed along in an
irregular procession, closing up when they anchored for the night. From the
North Foreland, with a favourable wind behind them, they put out into the
open sea, and steering eastward were out of sight of land for a few hours,
a more venturous voyage for these coasting craft than the crossing of the
Atlantic is for us to-day. It must have been a trying experience for knight
and yeoman, and they must have felt that a great peril was past when the
tops of church towers and windmills showed above the horizon, and then the
low shore fringed with sandhills and the green dykes came in sight.

Coasting along the shore north-eastwards, the fleet reached a point to the
north-west of Bruges, not far from where the watering-place of Blankenberg
now stands. It had been ascertained from fishermen and coast-folk that the
French fleet was still at Sluys, and it was decided to proceed no further
without reconnoitring the enemy. The larger ships anchored, the smaller
were beached. The fighting-men landed and camped on the shore to recover
from the distresses of their voyage, during which they would have been
cramped up in narrow quarters.

Instead of, like a modern admiral, sending some of his lighter and swifter
ships to take a look at the enemy, King Edward arranged a cavalry
reconnaissance, a simpler matter for his knightly following. Some of the
horses were got ashore, and a party of knights mounted and rode over the
sandhills towards Sluys. They reached a point where, without being observed
by the enemy, they could get a good view of the hostile fleet, and they
brought back news that made the King decide to attack next day.

The French fleet was commanded by two knights, the Sieur de Kiriet and the
Sieur de Bahuchet. Kiriet's name suggests that he came of the Breton race
that has given so many good sailors and naval officers to France, so
perhaps he knew something of the sea. Associated with the two French
commanders there was an experienced fighting admiral, a veteran of the wars
of the Mediterranean, Barbavera, who commanded the Genoese ships. Though
they had a slight superiority of numbers and more large ships than the
English, Kiriet and Bahuchet were, as one might expect from their prolonged
inactivity, very wanting in enterprise now that the crisis had come. They
were preparing to fight on the defensive. It was in vain that the
experienced commander Barbavera urged that they should weigh anchor and
fight the English in the open sea, where numbers and weight would give them
an advantage that would be lost in the narrow waters of the Eede estuary.
They persisted in awaiting the attack.

The French fleet was anchored along the south shore of the river-mouth,
sterns to the land, its left towards the river-mouth, its right towards the
town of Sluys. The vessel on the extreme left was an English ship of large
size, the "Great Cristopher," captured in the Channel in the first days of
the war. The ships were grouped in three divisions--left, centre, and
right. Kiriet and Bahuchet adopted the same plan of battle that King Olaf
had used at Svold. The ships in each of the three divisions were lashed
together side by side, so that they could only be boarded by the high
narrow bows, and there was an addition to the Norse plan, for inboard
across the bows barricades had been erected formed of oars, spars, and
planking, fastened across the forecastle decks. Behind these barriers
archers and Genoese cross-bowmen were posted. There was a second line of
archers in the fighting-tops, for since the times of Norse warfare the
masts had become heavier, and now supported above the crossyard a kind of
crow's nest where two or three bowmen could be stationed, with shields hung
round them as a parapet.

The fleet thus was converted into a series of three long, narrow floating
forts. It was an intelligible plan of defence for a weak fleet against a
strong one, but a hopeless plan for an armament strong enough to have met
its opponents on the open sea, ship to ship. At Svold, Erik Jarl had shown
that such an array could be destroyed piecemeal if assailed on an exposed
flank, and at Sluys the left, where the "Great Cristopher" lay to seaward,
positively invited such an attack.

King Edward saw his advantage as soon as his knights came back from their
adventurous ride and told him what they had seen, and he arranged his plans
accordingly. His great ships were to lead the attack, and concentrate their
efforts on the left of the French line. The rest were to pass inside them
and engage the enemy in front, on the left, and centre. The enemy had by
tying up his ships made it impossible to come to the rescue of the left,
even if the narrow waters of the estuary would have allowed him to deploy
his force into line. The English would have, and could not fail to keep, a
local superiority from the very outset on the left of the enemy, and once
it came to close quarters they would clear the French and Genoese decks
from end to end of the line, taking ship after ship. While the attack
developed the English archers would prepare the way for it by thinning the
ranks of their enemies on the ships in the centre and then on the right.

At dawn on 24 June--the day of battle--the wind was blowing fair into the
mouth of the Eede, but the tide was ebbing, and the attack could not be
driven home till it turned, and gave deep water everywhere between the
banks of the inlet. King Edward used the interval to array his fleet and
get it into position for the dash into the river. His ships stood out to
sea on the starboard tack, a brave sight with the midsummer sun shining on
the white sails, the hundreds of banners glowing with red, blue, white, and
gold, the painted shields hanging on poop and bulwark. On the raised bows
and sterns of the larger ships barons and knights and men-at-arms stood
arrayed in complete armour. The archers were ranged along the bulwarks, or
looked out from the crow's-nest-tops over the swelling sails.

Old Barbavera must have longed to cut lashings, slip cables, drift out on
the tide, and meet the English in the open, but he was in a minority of one
against two. And now the tide was dead slack and began to turn, and King
Edward's trumpets gave the expected signal for action. As their notes rang
over the sea the shouting sailors squared the yards and the fleet began to
scud before the wind for the river-mouth, where beyond the green dykes that
kept the entrance free a forest of masts bristled along the bank towards
Sluys.

The English came in with wind and tide helping them, several ships abreast,
the rest following each as quickly as she might, like a great flock of
sea-birds streaming towards the shore. There could be no long ranging fire
to prelude the close attack. At some sixty yards, when men could see each
other's faces across the gap, the English archers drew their bows, and the
cloth-yard arrows began to fly, their first target the "Great Cristopher"
on the flank of the line. Bolts from cross-bows came whizzing back in
reply. But, as at Crecy soon after, the long-bow with its rapid discharge
of arrows proved its superiority over the slower mechanical weapon of the
Genoese cross-bowmen.

But no time was lost in mere shooting. Two English ships crashed into the
bows and the port side of the "Cristopher," and with the cry of "St. George
for England!" a score of knights vied with each other for the honour of
being first on board of the enemy. The other ships of the English van swung
round bow to bow with the next of the French line, grappled and fought to
board them. King Edward himself climbed over the bows of a French ship,
risking his life as freely as the youngest of his esquires. Then for a
while on the French left it was a question of which could best handle the
long, heavy swords, made not for deft fencing work, but for sheer hard
hacking at helmet and breastplate.

Behind this fight on the flank, ship after ship slipped into the river, but
at first attacked only the left division closely, those that had pushed
furthest in opening with arrow fire on the centre and leaving the right to
look helplessly on. The English archers soon cleared the enemy's tops of
their bowmen, and then from the English masts shot coolly into the throng
on the hostile decks, their comrades at the bulwarks shooting over the
heads of those engaged in the bows. The English arrows inflicted severe
loss on the enemy, but the real business was done by the close attack of
the boarding-parties, that cleared ship after ship from the left inwards,
each ship attacked in turn having to meet the knights and men-at-arms from
several of the English vessels.

But the French fought with determined courage, and hour after hour went by
as the attack slowly worked its way along the line. The slaughter was
terrible, for in a sea-fight, as in the storming of a city wall, no quarter
was asked or given. The crews of the captured ships were cut down as they
fought, or driven over the stern into the water, where, for the most part,
their heavy armour drowned them.

It was past noon, and the tide was turning when the left and centre, the
squadrons of Kiriet and Bahuchet, were all captured. Then the attack raged
round the nearest vessels on the right, tall ships of the Genoese. Most of
these, too, were taken, but as the tide ran out King Edward feared his
large ships would ground in the upper waters of the estuary, and the signal
was given to break off the attack, an order welcome even to the weary
victors.

Barbavera, with a few ships, got clear of the beaten right wing and lay up
near Sluys, while the English plundered and burned some of their prizes and
took the best of them out to sea on the ebbing tide. In the night the
Genoese admiral slipped out to sea, and got safely away. The French fleet
had been utterly destroyed, and the Genoese sailors had no intention of
further risking themselves in King Philip's quarrel. They thought only of
returning as soon as might be to the Mediterranean.

King Edward went on to Ghent, after landing his fighting-men, and sending
his fleet to bring further forces from England. Henceforth for many a long
year he might regard the Channel as a safe highway for men and supplies for
the war in France.

The victory of the English had cost them a relatively trifling loss. The
French losses are said to have been nearly 30,000 men. Strange to say,
among the English dead were four ladies who had embarked on the King's ship
to join the Queen's Court at Ghent. How they were killed is not stated.
Probably they were courageous dames whose curiosity led them to watch the
fight from the tall poop of the flagship as they would have watched a
tournament from the galleries of the lists, and there the cross-bow bolts
of the Genoese found them.

There is an old story that men feared to tell King Philip the news of the
disaster, and the Court jester broke the tidings with a casual remark that
the French must be braver than the English, for they jumped into the sea by
scores, while the islanders stuck to their ships. The defeat at sea
prepared the way for other defeats by land, and in these campaigns there
appeared a new weapon of war--rudely fashioned cannon of short range and
slow, inaccurate fire--the precursors of heavier artillery that was to
change the whole character of naval warfare.

It was the coming of the cannon that inaugurated the modern period. But
before telling of battles in which artillery played the chief part, we must
tell of a decisive battle that was a link between old and new. Lepanto--the
battle that broke the Turkish power in the Mediterranean--saw, like the
sea-fights of later days, artillery in action, and at the same time
oar-driven galleys fighting with the tactics that had been employed at
Salamis and Actium, and knights in armour storming the enemy's ships like
Erik Jarl at Svold and King Edward at Sluys.

    [Illustration: A GALLEY
    _From an engraving by J. P. le Bas_]

    [Illustration: A CARRACK OR FRIGATE
    _From an engraving by Tomkins_
    MEDITERRANEAN CRAFT OF THE 16TH CENTURY]



    CHAPTER V

    LEPANTO

    1571


The Turk has long been known as the "sick man of Europe," and the story of
the Ottoman Empire for a hundred years has been a tale of gradual
dismemberment. Thus it is no easy matter for us to realize that for
centuries the Ottoman power was the terror of the civilized world.

It was in 1358 that the Ottomans seized Gallipoli, on the Dardanelles, and
thus obtained their first footing in Europe. They soon made themselves
masters of Philippopolis and Adrianople. A crusading army, gathered to
drive the Asiatic horde from Europe, was cut to pieces by the Sultan
Bajazet at Nicopolis in 1396. On the day after the battle ten thousand
Christian prisoners were massacred before the Sultan, the slaughter going
on from daybreak till late in the afternoon. The Turk had become the terror
of Europe.

Constantinople was taken by Mahomet II in 1453, and the Greek Empire came
to an inglorious end. Then for more than a century Austrians, Hungarians,
and Poles formed a barrier to the advance of the Asiatic power into Central
Europe.

But the Turks during this century became a maritime power. They had
conquered the Crimea and were masters of the Black Sea. They had overrun
Greece and most of the islands of the Archipelago. They had threatened
Venice with their fleets, and had for a while a foothold in Southern Italy.
They took Rhodes from the Knights of St. John, annexed Syria and Egypt, and
the Sultan of Constantinople was acknowledged as the Khalifa of Islam, the
representative of the Prophet by the Mohammedan states of North
Africa--Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco. In 1526 the victory of Mohacs made the
Turks masters of Hungary. They had driven a wedge deep into Europe, and
there was danger that their fleets would soon hold the command of the
Mediterranean.

These fleets were composed chiefly of large galleys--lineal descendants (so
to say) of the ancient triremes. There was a row of long oars on either
side, but sail power had so far developed that there were also one, two,
even three tall masts, each crossed by a long yard that carried a
triangular lateen sail. The base of the triangle lay along the yard, and
the apex was the lower corner of the triangular sail, which could be hauled
over to either side of the ship, one end of the yard being hauled down on
the other side. The sail thus lay at an angle with the line of the keel,
with one point of the yard high above the masthead, and by carrying the
sheet tackle of the point of the sail across the ship, and reversing the
position of the yard, the galley was put on one tack or the other. Forward,
pointing ahead, was a battery of two or more guns, and there was sometimes
a second but lighter battery astern, to be used when the galley was
escaping from a ship of superior force. Turks, in the Eastern
Mediterranean, Moors in the West, recruited their crews of rowers by
capturing Christian ships and raiding Christian villages, to carry off
captives who could be trained to the oar. This piracy, plundering, and
slave-hunting went on in the Mediterranean up to the first years of the
nineteenth century, when, after the Turks themselves had long abandoned it,
the sea rovers of the Barbary States in the western waters of the inland
sea still kept it up, and European nations paid blackmail to the Beys of
Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers to secure immunity for their ships and sailors.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries no part of the Mediterranean was
free from the raids of the Moslem pirates. Such was the peril of the sea
that ships used to carry two sets of sails, one white for use by day, the
other black, in order to conceal their movements in the darkness. Thousands
of Christian slaves were always wearing out their miserable lives in the
galleys and prisons of the Mohammedan ports. Isolated expeditions were
sometimes made by this or that Christian power for their deliverance. Two
religious orders were founded to collect alms for their ransom, to minister
to them in their captivity, and to negotiate for their deliverance. But all
this was only a mitigation of the evil, and year after year there went on
the enslavement of Europeans, men for the galleys, women for the harems.

One would have thought that all Europe would have banded itself together to
drive back the Turk from the Danube and sweep the corsairs from the
Mediterranean. To their honour be it said that successive Popes endeavoured
to arouse the old crusading spirit, and band civilized and Christian Europe
together for an enterprise that was to the advantage of all, and the
neglect of which was a lasting disgrace. But their efforts were long
defeated by the mutual quarrels and jealousies and the selfish policy of
the European powers. Venice and Genoa long preferred to maintain peace with
the Sultans, in order to have the undisturbed monopoly of the Eastern
trade. France was too often the ally of the Turk, thanks to her traditional
rivalry with the House of Austria, the rulers of the German Empire. The
pressure of Turkish armies on the Eastern frontiers of the Empire made it
impossible for the Emperors to use their full strength on the Rhine or in
North Italy.

Again and again Rome uttered the cry of alarm, and the warning passed
unheeded. But at last it was listened to, when a new outburst of aggressive
activity on the part of the Turks for a while roused the maritime nations
of the Mediterranean from their lethargy, and then a glorious page was
added to the story of naval warfare.

In the year 1566 Suleiman the Magnificent died. He had conquered at Mohacs
and besieged Vienna, enlarged the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire on land,
and made its fleets the terror of the Mediterranean; but the year before he
died his pashas had failed disastrously in their attempt on Malta, and his
successor, Selim II (whom Ottoman historians surname "the Drunkard"), was
reported to be a half-imbecile wretch, devoid of either intelligence or
enterprise. So Europe breathed more freely. But while the "Drunkard" idled
in his seraglio by the Golden Horn, the old statesmen, generals, and
admirals, whom Suleiman had formed, were still living, and Europe had
lulled itself with false hopes of peace.

For the sake of their Eastern trade interests the Venetians had as far as
possible stood neutral in the wars between Turk and Christian, and had long
been in undisturbed possession of Cyprus. For eighty years they had held it
under a treaty that recognized certain rights of the Sultan to the island
as a dependency of Egypt. They had stood neutral while Suleiman took Rhodes
and besieged Malta, though on either occasion the intervention of the
Venetian fleet would have been a serious blow to the Ottoman power. The
Venetian Senate was therefore disagreeably surprised when an envoy from
Constantinople demanded the evacuation of Cyprus, and announced that the
Sultan intended to exercise his full rights as sovereign of the island. The
armaments of the Republic were at a low ebb, but Doge and Senate rejected
the Ottoman demand, and defied the menace of war that accompanied it.

The neutrality of Venice had been the chief obstacle to the efforts of
Pius V to form a league of the maritime powers of Southern Europe against
the common enemy of Christendom. When, therefore, the Venetian ambassadors
applied to the Vatican for help, the Pope put the limited resources of his
own states at their disposal, and exerted his influence to procure for them
help from other countries. Pius saw the possibility of at last forming a
league against the Turk, and was statesman enough to perceive that a more
effective blow would be struck against them by attacking them on the sea
than by gathering a crusading army on the Theiss and the Danube.

His own galleys were prepared for service under the orders of Prince
Colonna, and a subsidy was sent to Venice from the papal treasury to aid in
the equipment of the Venetian fleet. The papal envoys appealed to the
Genoese Republic, the Knights of Malta, and the Kings of France and Spain
to reinforce the fleets of Rome and Venice. But France and Spain were more
interested in their own local ambitions and jealousies, and even Philip II
gave at first very limited help. With endless difficulty a fleet of galleys
was at last assembled, Maltese, Genoese, Roman, Venetian, united under the
command of Colonna. By the time the Christian armament was ready a larger
Turkish fleet had appeared in the waters of Cyprus and landed an army,
which, under its protection, began the siege of Nicosia. After long delays
Colonna's fleet reached Suda Bay in Crete, and joined a squadron of
Venetian galleys kept for guardship duties in Cretan waters.

Though Colonna was in nominal command, the fleet was really controlled by a
committee of the chiefs of its various squadrons. There were endless
councils of war, and it is a trite saying that "councils of war do not
fight." Prudent caution is oftener the outcome of such debates than daring
enterprises. There was a time, in the first days of September, when, if the
Suda fleet had gone boldly to the relief of Nicosia, it might have raised
the siege, for the Venetian garrison was making such a vigorous defence
that in order to press the siege the Turkish pashas had stripped their
fleet of thousands of fighting-men to employ them in the trenches. But the
golden opportunity passed by, and when at last Colonna took his galleys
across to the coast of Asia Minor, Nicosia had fallen, and the Turks had
begun the siege of the other Cypriote fortress, Famagusta.

Again there were divided counsels and pitiful irresolution. The commanders
of the various contingents were brave men, veterans of the Mediterranean
wars. But the coalition lacked one determined leader who could dominate the
rest, decide upon a definite plan of action, and put it into energetic
execution. Time was wasted till the bad weather began. Then the various
squadrons made their way to the ports where they were to pass the winter. A
squadron of the Venetians remained in the Cretan ports. The rest dispersed
to the harbours of Italy and the Ionian islands.

The aged pontiff heard with bitter disappointment that nothing had been
accomplished. The news might well have made even a younger man lose heart.
But with undaunted courage he devoted himself to forming a more powerful
combination for the great effort of the coming summer.

It was all-important to secure the alliance of the King of Spain, who was
also ruler of Naples and Sicily. But it was only after long negotiations
and smoothing away of endless jealousies between Spain and Venice, that at
last the treaty of the "Holy League" was signed by the Republic of Venice,
the King of Spain, and the Pope, Pius V undertaking to bring in help from
the minor Princes and Republics of Italy and the Knights of Malta.

It was proposed that there should be a fleet of three hundred ships, of
which two hundred were to be galleys and a hundred _navi_, that is
full-rigged sailing-ships. It was the first time that the sailing-ship had
been given so important a place in naval projects in the Mediterranean, and
this shows the change that was rapidly coming into naval methods. The
allies were jointly to raise a force of 50,000 fighting-men, including 500
gunners.

Once the treaty was arranged preparations were pushed forward, but again
there were wearisome delays. It was easy enough to build galleys. The
arsenal of Venice had once laid a keel at sunrise and launched the galley
before sunset. But to recruit the thousands of oarsmen was a longer
business. It was not till well into the summer of 1571 that the armada of
the Holy League began to assemble at the appointed rendezvous, Messina.
Meanwhile, the Turks were pressing the siege of Famagusta, blockading it by
land and sea, and sapping slowly up to its walls. The heroic commandant of
the place, Antonio Bragadino, a worthy son of Venice, made an active
defence, retarding by frequent sorties the progress of the enemy's siege
works.

By the month of June the Turks had lost nearly 30,000 men, including those
who fell victims to the fever that raged in their camps. Bragadino's
garrison had been thinned by the enemy's fire, by sickness, and by
semi-starvation, and at the same time the magazines of ammunition were
nearly empty. Behind the yawning breaches of the rampart an inner line of
improvised defences had been erected, and the citadel was still intact. If
he had had a little more flour and gunpowder, Bragadino would have held out
as stubbornly as ever. But with starving men, empty magazines, and no sign
of relief, he had to accept the inevitable. He sent a flag of truce to
Mustapha Pasha, the Ottoman general, and relying on the impression made by
his stubborn defence, asked for generous terms.

Mustapha professed a chivalrous admiration for the heroism of the
Venetians. It was agreed that the garrison should march out with the
honours of war, and be transported under a flag of truce to Crete and there
set at liberty. The Ottoman general pledged himself to protect the people
of Famagusta, and secure for them the free exercise of their religion.

The war-worn soldiers marched out. Bragadino, with the Venetian nobles,
were received at Mustapha's tent with every mark of honour. But no sooner
had the officers been separated from their men, and these divided into
small parties, than all were made prisoners, bound, and robbed of all their
personal property. The Turks had often shown remorseless cruelty after
victory, but they generally observed the terms of a capitulation
honourably. Mustapha's conduct was an unexampled case of treachery and
barbarity.

The Venetian soldiers were sent on board the Turkish galleys and chained to
their oars as slaves. Bragadino saw his officers beheaded before the
Pasha's tent. He might have saved his life by becoming a renegade, but he
was incapable of such apostasy and treason. The barbarian, in whose power
he was, invented new torments for his victim. Bragadino had his ears and
nose cut off, and thus mutilated he was paraded round the Turkish army, and
then rowed in a boat through the fleet, and everywhere greeted with insult
and mockery. Then Mustapha sentenced his prisoner to be flayed alive. The
torture had hardly begun when he expired, dying the death of a hero and a
martyr. Mustapha sent to Selim the Drunkard as trophies of the conquest of
Cyprus the heads of the Venetian nobles and the skin of Bragadino stuffed
with straw. The news of the fall of Famagusta and the horrors that followed
it did not reach the allied fleet till long after it had sailed from
Messina.

But even during the period of preparation there were tidings that might
well have inspired the leaders of the League with a new energy. The danger
from the East was pressing. In the spring the Ottoman fleet in the waters
of Cyprus had been reinforced with new galleys from the arsenal of
Constantinople, and a squadron of Algerine corsairs under the renegade
Pasha Ulugh Ali, one of the best of the Turkish admirals. Thus
strengthened, the fleet numbered some two hundred and fifty sail. Even
before Famagusta fell Mustapha detached powerful squadrons which harried
the Greek archipelago, and then rounding the capes of the Morea, made
prizes of peaceful traders and raided villages along the western shores of
Greece and in the Ionian islands.

During the period of the Turkish power Europe was saved again and again
from grave danger, because the Ottoman Sultans and the Pashas of Barbary
never seem to have grasped the main principles of maritime warfare. They
had no wide views. Most of the men who commanded for them on the sea had
the spirit of pirates and buccaneers rather than of admirals. They put to
sea to harry the trade of the Christian states and to raid their coast
villages, and so secure prizes, plunder, and slaves. They frittered away
their strength on these minor enterprises. Again and again occasions
offered, when to concentrate their naval forces for a series of campaigns
that would sweep the Christian fleets one by one from the sea would have
made them masters of the Mediterranean, placed its commerce and its coasts
at their mercy, and opened the way for a career of conquest, but they
allowed these opportunities to escape.

The peril that menaced European civilization in 1571 was that at last the
Moslem powers of the Mediterranean were actually combining their sea forces
for a great effort of maritime conquest. Their operations were still
delayed by their traditional disposition to indulge in plundering raids, or
to wait for the fall of a blockaded fortress, instead of making the
destruction of the opposing sea power their first object. If the pashas of
Selim's fleets had really understood their business, they might have
destroyed the Christian squadrons in detail before they could effect their
concentration in the waters of Messina. But the Turkish admirals let the
opportunity escape them during the long months when the "Holy League" was
being formed and its fleets made ready for action.

That the danger was met by the organization of a united effort to break the
Moslem power on the sea was entirely due to the clear-sighted initiative
and the persistent energy of the aged Pius V. He had fully realized that
the naval campaign of 1570 had been paralysed by the Christian fleet being
directed, not by one vigorous will, but by the cautious decisions of a
permanent council of war. He insisted on the armament of 1571 being under
the direction of one chief, and exercising his right as chief of the
League, Pius V had to select the commander of its forces; he named as
captain-general of the Christian armada Don Juan of Austria.

Don Juan was then a young soldier, twenty-four years of age. He was the son
of the Emperor Charles V and his mistress, Barbara Blomberg of Ratisbon.
His boyhood had been passed, unknown and unacknowledged by his father, in a
peasant household in Castille. As a youth he had been adopted by a noble
family of Valladolid. Then Philip II had acknowledged him as his
half-brother, and given him the rank of a Spanish Prince. He studied at
Alcala, having for his friends and companions Alexander Farnese, the "Great
Captain" of future years, and the unfortunate Don Carlos. Don Juan's rank
gave him early the opportunity of displaying in high command his marked
genius for war. He was employed in expeditions in the Mediterranean, and
directed the suppression of the Moorish revolt in Granada in 1570. He was
then named "Capitan-General del Mar"--High Admiral of the Spanish fleets.
Young as he was when Pius V appointed him commander-in-chief of the forces
of the Holy League, his services by land and sea, as well as his princely
rank, gave him the necessary prestige to enable him to command even older
generals like Marco Antonio Colonna, the leader of the papal and Italian
forces, and the veteran Sebastian Veniero, who directed those of Venice.

During the period of concentration it was Veniero who had the most
difficult problem to solve. The Venetian fleet had separated into two
divisions at the close of the campaign of 1570. The weaker wintered in the
harbours of Crete. The stronger detachment passed the winter at Corfu, in
the Ionian islands. In the early summer of 1571 Veniero took command at
Corfu, and occupied himself with preparing the fleet for sea, and
reinforcing it with new galleys from the arsenal of Venice, and newly
raised drafts of sailors, rowers, and fighting-men. Before his
preparations were complete, the vanguard of the Turkish armada, continually
reinforced from the East, appeared on the western coasts of Greece. To
attack them with the force he had at hand would be to court destruction.
Ulugh Ali, who commanded the vanguard of the enemy, was perhaps the
best-hated of the Moslem admirals. A Calabrese fisherman, he had been
captured as a young man by one of the Barbary corsairs, and spent some
miserable years chained as a galley-slave at an oar. At last his endurance
broke down, and he escaped from his misery by becoming a Mohammedan. Under
his new name he rose rapidly to command, enriched himself by successful
piracy, and before long won himself the rank of a Pasha and a vice-royalty
in North Africa. But, happily for Europe at large, though unfortunately for
many a village along the shores of Greece and Illyria, Ulugh Ali as admiral
of the Turkish fleets remained still a pirate, with the fixed idea that a
plundering cruise was better than a naval campaign. Had the renegade been
more admiral than pirate, he had an opportunity of changing the course of
history in that early summer of 1571.

His fleet cruising off the coasts of Epirus held a central strategic
position in relation to the still dispersed Christian fleets. The papal
contingents on the western shores of Italy and the Spanish fleets in the
ports of the Two Sicilies, or coasting from Spain by the Gulf of Lyons and
the Italian shores, were, it is true, beyond his immediate reach, but he
could easily lop off one important branch of the triple League by cutting
off the Venetians. The squadron from Crete must pass him to the southward;
the more important contingent from Corfu must pass between him and Southern
Italy in narrow seas where he could hardly fail to bring it to action, and
if it fought, the chances were he would overwhelm it. Or he might attack it
at Corfu, or drive it from the island back upon Venice. If he had good luck
he might hope to be in time even after this to strike a blow also at the
Cretan squadron.

But he thought only of plundering and burning along the coasts, carrying
off crowds of prisoners, some of whom were at once added to his crews of
chained rowers. Veniero at Corfu had to steel his heart against entreaties
to come to the rescue of the mainland coast population. He could not save
them, and he dared not destroy his fleet in a hopeless effort. He must
seize the opportunity while the Turks were occupied with their raids to
sail unopposed to Messina. He decided even to risk the loss of Corfu. He
was acting on the sound principle that in war all minor objects must be
sacrificed to the chief end of the campaign. But he could not be sure that
in obeying his original orders, and taking his fleet to Messina, he was not
in another way risking his position, perhaps his life. He was leaving to
the Turks the temporary command of the Adriatic. After he left Corfu they
carried fire and sword along the Illyrian coast. There was a panic in
Venice, and the city of the lagoons made hasty preparations for defence.
But Veniero's action was soon justified. The news that the Christian armada
was assembled at Messina alarmed Ulugh Ali into abandoning any further
enterprises in the Adriatic, and his squadrons withdrew to join the
concentration of the Turkish fleets at the entrance of the Gulf of Corinth.

It was not till 23 August that the Spanish Prince arrived at Messina, took
command of the assembled fleets, and proceeded at once to organize his
forces, and issued his sailing and battle orders.

Nearly three hundred ships crowded the harbour of Messina. There were three
fleets, the Italian squadrons under the papal admiral Colonna, the Venetian
fleet, and the fleet of Philip II formed of the ships of Spain and Naples.
The main force of the three fleets was made up of galleys. But there were
also six galleasses and some seventy frigates, the former depending
chiefly, the latter entirely, on sail power for propulsion. The frigate
was, in the following century and almost up to our time, what the cruiser
is in the armoured navies of to-day. But in the Mediterranean fleets of the
fifteenth century the _frigata_ represented only an early type, out of
which the frigate of later days was developed. She was a small
sailing-ship, sometimes a mere yacht, armed only with a few light guns. The
frigates were used to convey stores, the swifter among them being often
employed as dispatch boats. Depending entirely on the wind, it was not
always easy for them to accompany a fleet of galleys. Don Juan gave up the
idea of making them part of his fighting fleet. It was still the period of
the oar-driven man-of-war, though the day of sails was close at hand.

The six galleasses represented a new type, a link between the oared ships
of the past and the sailing fleets of the immediate future. They were heavy
three-masted ships, with rounded bows, and their upper works built with an
inward curve, so that the width across the bulwarks amidships was less than
that of the gundeck below. The frames of warships were built on these lines
till after Nelson's days. This "tumble home" of the sides, as it was
called, was adopted to bring the weight of the broadside guns nearer the
centre line of the ship, and so lessen the leverage and strain on her
framework. The guns had first been fired over the bulwarks, but at a very
early date port-holes were adopted for them. The galleass had a high
forecastle and poop, each with its battery of guns, pointing ahead, astern,
and on each side. Other guns were mounted on the broadsides in the waist of
the ship; and to command the main-deck, in case an enemy's boarders got
possession of it, lighter guns were mounted on swivels at the back of the
forecastle and on the forepart of the poop. Compared to the low, crowded
galley, the galleass was a roomy and much more seaworthy ship. She was
generally a slow sailer, but in order to enable her to make some progress,
even in calms or against a head wind, and so work with a fleet of galleys,
she had a rowers' deck, under her main or gundeck, and on each side twelve
or fifteen oars of enormous length, each worked by several men. She had the
drawbacks of most compromises. She could not sail as well as the frigate,
and her speed with the oar was much less than that of the galley. But the
gain was that she could be used as a floating battery, carrying many more
guns than the few pieces mounted in the galley's bows. The galleass's guns
were high above the water, and the galleys dreaded their plunging fire.
Each of Don Juan's six galleasses carried some thirty guns of various
calibres, and to defend their high sides against an attack by boarders,
their fighting-men were chiefly arquebusiers.

In order to fuse the triple fleet of the Allies into one armada, and to
avoid the risk of international jealousies, Don Juan proceeded to form his
galleys into five squadrons, each made up of ships selected from the three
fleets, so that none of these divisions could claim to act only for Rome,
or Spain, or Venice.

The organization of the Christian armada may be thus summed up in tabular
form:--

  ----------------+----------------------+--------+------------------------
      Division.   |      Commander.      |Galleys.|      Sailing-ships.
  ----------------+----------------------+--------+------------------------
       Vanguard   |Juan de Cardona       |    7   |
                  |                      |        |Galleasses    6
  M o {           |                      |        |Frigates     70
  a f {Left Wing  |Agostino Barbarigo    |   53   |             --
  i   {           |                      |        |             76
  n b {           |                      |        |
    a {Centre     |Don Juan de Austria   |   62   |These frigates sailed
  l t {           |                      |        |during the voyage as a
  i t {           |                      |        |separate squadron under
  n l {Right Wing |Giovanni Andrea Doria |   50   |Don Cesar d'Avalos.
  e e {           |                      |        |They were employed as
                  |                      |        |storeships and tenders.
       Reserve    |Alvaro de Bazan,      |        |
                  |Marquis de Santa Cruz |   30   |
  ----------------+----------------------+--------+------------------------
                                   Total    202    +76 sailing-ships = 278
                                                     ships in all.
  ----------------+----------------------+--------+------------------------

    [Illustration: GALLEYS OF THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA IN ACTION
    WITH TURKISH GALLEYS]

It is interesting to note that instead of choosing one of the large
sailing-vessels as his flagship, Don Juan displayed his flag, the standard
of the League, from the masthead of the largest of the Spanish galleys, the
"Reale," a splendid ship built for the Viceroy of Catalonia three years
before. She had sixty oars, a battery of guns pointing forward through a
breastwork in the bow, and another gun on her high poop, pointing over her
stern, which was adorned with elaborate wood carvings, the work of Vasquez
of Seville, one of the most famous sculptors of the day. She had a crew of
300 rowers and 400 fighting-men. In the battle-line two other great galleys
were to lie to right and left of the "Reale," on her starboard, the
flagship of Colonna, the papal admiral, and to port that of Veniero the
Venetian, flying the lion banner of St. Mark. Next to these were the
galleys of the Princes of Parma and Urbino. On the extreme right of the
centre was the post of the flagship of the Knights of Malta, commanded by
the Grand Master Giustiniani. All the galleys of the central squadron flew
blue pennons as their distinguishing flag.

The vanguard and the right flew green triangular flags. When the line was
formed Cardona and his seven galleys were to take post on the left or inner
flank of the right division. Doria, the Genoese admiral, was on the extreme
right.

The left flew yellow pennons. Its admiral was the Venetian Barbarigo, a
veteran of many a hard-fought campaign.

Santa Cruz, the admiral of the reserve squadron, was posted in the middle
of his line, flying his flag on board the "Capitana" or flagship of the
Neapolitan squadron. All the flagships had as a distinctive mark a long red
pennon at the foremast-head.

Twenty-eight thousand fighting-men were embarked on the fleet. The Italian
soldiers were the most numerous, then came the Spaniards. There were about
2000 of other nationalities, chiefly Germans. The Venetian galleys were
rather short of fighting-men, and to remedy this weakness Veniero, though
with some reluctance, consented to receive on board of them detachments of
Don Juan's Spanish infantry.

On almost every ship there were serving a number of young gentlemen
volunteers. To give a list of their names and of the commanders of
galleasses and galleys and detachments of troops embarked would be to draw
up a roll of the historic names of Italy and Spain. Lepanto might well be
described as not only the closing battle of crusading days, but the last
battle of the age of chivalry. And, strange to say, on board of one of
Colonna's galleys, acting as second in command of its fighting-men, there
was a young Spaniard who was to "laugh Europe out of its chivalry"--Don
Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra, author of "Don Quixote" some thirty years
later.

At the end of the first week of September the fleet was ready for sea, but
the start was delayed by bad weather. For several days a storm raged in the
Straits of Messina, accompanied by thunder and lightning and torrents of
rain. At length, on the 14th, the sky cleared and the sea went down. Next
day Don Juan sent off the squadron of frigates under the command of Don
Cesar d'Avalos, with orders to proceed to Taranto and await the main body
of the fleet there.

At sunrise on the 16th the great fleet left Messina. The "Reale" led the
way; the tall galleasses were towed out by the galleys. It took some hours
for the whole armada to clear the harbour, then, on the admiral's signal,
they set their sails, and with wind and oar steered south-westward across
the straits. The first day's voyage was only a few miles. Don Juan was
taking the opportunity of reviewing his fleet, and testing his arrangements
for its formation. Each captain had his written orders giving his position
when under way and in the line of battle. It was in this formation the
fleet anchored along the Italian coast beyond Reggio, on a front of five
miles.

Next day the fleet rounded Cape Spartivento, the toe of Italy, and after an
attempt to continue the voyage on the 19th was forced by bad weather to put
back and anchor under shelter of the land for some twenty-four hours.

As the weather improved, Don Juan decided not to coast round the Gulf by
Taranto, but to lay his course from Cape Colonna for Cape Santa Maria (the
heel of Italy), and then across the opening of the Adriatic to Corfu. A
frigate was sent to inform D'Avalos of the change of plans, and the armada,
helped by a favouring wind, stood out to sea and for a while lost sight of
land.

It was known that the Turkish fleet had concentrated in or near the opening
of the Gulf of Corinth. It might also have put to sea, and Don Juan took
precautions in view of a possible encounter during his voyage. Cardona,
with his seven swift galleys of the vanguard, was directed to keep twenty
miles ahead during the daytime, closing in to a distance of only eight
miles at sunset, and increasing the interval again at dawn. The three
squadrons of the main body appear to have been formed each in line ahead,
the leading ships, those of the admirals, at the head of each squadron,
with such lateral intervals between the columns that line of battle could
be formed, by the ships coming up to right and left of their flagships.
Santa Cruz with the reserve acted as a rearguard, and was to assist any
vessel that might be in difficulties. The rear ship of each squadron was to
display a large lantern at the mast-head after dark. The admiral's ship was
distinguished by three large lanterns.

Forty galleys were detached to bring reinforcements of infantry from
Taranto and Gallipoli. Four swift galleys under the command of Gil
d'Andrada were sent on in advance to obtain information of the Ottoman
fleet.

From Cape Santa Maria the course was set for the Ionian Islands. On the
morning of 24 September, through the driving rain that accompanied a heavy
thunderstorm, the look-outs of the vanguard could distinguish the chain of
islands north of Corfu, the islets of Merlera, Fano, and Samothraki, which
with the reefs that almost connect them form a natural breakwater. The wind
and sea were rising, and the fleet anchored inside the shelter of the
islands and reefs. It was not until 26 September that it reached at length
the harbour of Corfu. It had taken ten days to complete a passage that the
tourist from Messina to Corfu now covers in a single day.

At Corfu the commandant of the fortress had terrible tales to tell of Ulugh
Ali's raid on the island, and the horrors that the Turks had perpetrated in
the villages, which now presented a scene of ruin and desolation. Gil
d'Andrada rejoined the fleet there. He had not seen the Turkish armament,
but he had obtained news of it from coasters and fishermen. He estimated
from these reports that it was inferior in numbers to the Christian fleet,
and he had learned that, as if conscious of its weakness, it had taken
shelter well up the Gulf of Corinth, in the Bay of Lepanto. The bay lies
eastward of the point where the gulf contracts into a narrow strait between
the "Castles of Roumelia" and "the Morea," then held by the Turks. The
defences were of such strength that at the time the strait was popularly
known as "the Little Dardanelles."[5] It was thought that it would be
hopeless for the allied fleet to attempt to force the passage.

    [5] Admiral Jurien de la Gravière in his study of the campaign
    of Lepanto remarks that many a fortified strait has owed its
    inviolability only to its exaggerated reputation for the
    strength of its defences, and adds that in the Greek war of
    independence a French sailing corvette, the "Echo," easily
    fought its way into the gulf past the batteries, and repassed
    them again when coming out a few days later.

Four days were spent in the waters of Corfu, and 4000 troops of the
garrison were embarked. Gil d'Andrada's four galleys had again been sent
away to reconnoitre the enemy. On 30 September the weather was fine and the
wind favourable, so Don Juan led his fleet from Corfu to the Bay of
Gomenizza, thirty miles to the south-east, on the coast of Albania. The
galeasses guarded the entrance of the bay; the galleys were moored inside
it, bow on to the shore, with their guns thus directed towards it. Working
parties were landed under their protection to obtain supplies of wood and
water. On 2 October some Spaniards engaged in the work were surprised and
made prisoners by Turkish irregulars, Albanian horsemen, who carried them
off to the headquarters of Ali Pasha, the Turkish generalissimo, at
Lepanto.

Gil d'Andrada rejoined at Gomenizza with news that the Turkish fleet was
not more than 200 strong; that pestilence had broken out among its
fighting-men, and that many of the galleys were undermanned. This
encouraged Don Juan to attempt an attack upon it as it lay in the gulf.

But Ali Pasha had also received reports that led him to underrate the
strength of the Christian armada, and so induced him to put out to sea in
search of it. Twice he had reconnoitred the allied fleet. Before Don Juan
arrived at Messina, Ulugh Ali had sent one of his corsairs, Kara Khodja, to
cruise in Sicilian waters. The corsair painted every part of his ship a
dead black, and one dark night, under black sails, he slipped into Messina
harbour. The utter daring of his enterprise assisted him. Gliding like a
ghost about the roadstead, unmarked and unchallenged, he counted galleys,
galleasses, and frigates, and brought back an under-estimate of the allied
strength, only because the fleet was not yet all assembled. He repeated his
exploit while the fleet lay in the waters of Corfu. He could not approach
so closely as at Messina, but what he saw led him to believe it was no
stronger than when he first reconnoitred it. When Ali Pasha questioned the
prisoners taken at Gomenizza, using torture to make them answer him, he
thought their admissions confirmed Kara Khodja's reports. So he decided to
come out of Lepanto and attack the allied armada.

Thus each fleet believed the other to be inferior in strength, and
consequently desired an early engagement. The Turkish fleet was made up of
210 galleys and 64 galliots and smaller craft, 274 sail in all, and its
commander, Ali Pasha, was one of the veteran admirals of Suleiman's
victorious days; 25,000 soldiers had been embarked under the Seraskier, or
General, Pertev Pasha. Ali had organized his fleet in four divisions,
centre, right wing, left wing, and reserve. All the ships had oars as well
as sails, and though Ali had no huge floating batteries, like the six
galleasses of Don Juan's fleet, the Turkish admiral could match the
Christians with galley for galley, and have a surplus of 8 galleys and 66
smaller craft. Of these the 44 galliots were almost as useful as the
galleys. Unlike the latter, which had two and often three masts, the
galliot had only one, and was smaller in size. But the Turkish galliots,
mostly belonging to the piratical states of North Africa, were as large as
many of the Christian galleys of the second class; they could sail well,
and they were manned by crews of fighting-men that had a long record of
piratical warfare.

The organization of Ali's fleet was:--

  ------------+----------+-----------+----------------+---------
    Division. | Galleys. | Galliots. | Smaller Craft. | Totals.
  ------------+----------+-----------+----------------+---------
              |          |           |                |
  {Right Wing |    54    |     2     |       --       |    56
  {           |          |           |                |
  {Centre     |    87    |     8     |       --       |    95
  {           |          |           |                |
  {Left Wing  |    61    |    32     |       --       |    93
              |          |           |                |
   Reserve    |     8    |     2     |       20       |    30
  ------------+----------+-----------+----------------+---------
       Totals |   210    |    44     |       20       |   274
  ------------+----------+-----------+----------------+---------

The fifty galleys of the right wing were ships from Egypt, the ports of
Asia Minor, and the arsenal of Constantinople, united under the command of
Mohammed Chuluk Bey, Governor of Alexandria, known among the Christian
sailors of the Mediterranean as Mohammed Scirocco. The centre, commanded by
Ali in person, was made up of galleys from Rhodes and the Greek islands,
and from Constantinople and Gallipoli, and the Tripolitan squadron under
Djaffir Agha, Governor of Tripoli. The left under Ulugh Ali, the Viceroy of
Algiers, included ships from Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, and the
ports of North-west Africa. The reserve, chiefly composed of small craft,
was under the command of Murad Dragut of Constantinople.

There were a good many Greek and Calabrese renegades among the captains of
the galleys, but the Syrians and the mixed Arab race of Alexandria had
learned the ways of the sea; some even of the Turks were good sailors, and
the men of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers had made the sea their element. The
thousands of rowers, who provided the propelling power of the galleys, were
for the most part Christian slaves, chained to their heavy oars, by which
they slept when the fleet anchored, living a life of weary labour, often
half starved, always badly clothed, so that they suffered from cold and
wet. Death was the immediate penalty of any show of insubordination, and
the whip of their taskmasters kept them to their work. There were men of
all classes among them, sailors taken from prizes, passengers who had the
bad luck to be on board captured ships, fishermen and tillers of the soil
carried off in coast raids. They were short-lived, for their masters did
not spare them, and considered it a more economic policy to work the rowers
to the utmost and replace them by other captures when they broke down.

The oarsmen of the allied fleet had also a hard lot, but not as bad as that
of Ali Pasha's galley-slaves, because in the Christian fleet there was a
considerable proportion of men hired for the campaign. But there was also a
servile element, Turks taken prisoner in previous campaigns and chained to
the oar in reprisal for the treatment of Christian captives by Ottoman
commanders, and a considerable number of what we should now call convicts
sentenced to hard labour, a rough lot of murderers, brigands, thieves, and
the like. It must be remembered that in most European countries the
sentence for such offences would have been death. The convict galley-slaves
of Don Juan's fleet were encouraged by the prospect of winning either
complete pardon or a remission of part of their sentences if there was a
victory, and to enable them to co-operate in winning it, they were told
that they would be freed from their chains and armed when the day of battle
came.

The 25,000 fighting-men of Ali Pasha's fleet were chiefly militia. There
were only a few thousand of the formidable Janissaries. And among the small
arms of the Turkish fleet there were more bows and arrows than muskets. Don
Juan had, on the other hand, a considerable number of arquebusiers on his
ships. He had the further advantage that while even the largest of the
Turkish galleys had only low bulwarks, the galleys of the allied fleet were
provided with _pavesades_, large bucklers and shields, to be fitted along
the bulwarks when clearing for action, and also permanent cross barriers to
prevent a raking fire fore and aft.

When Ali left the roadstead of Lepanto, and brought his fleet out from
behind the batteries of the "Little Dardanelles," he believed he had such a
marked superiority over the allied fleet that victory was a certainty, and
he expected to find Don Juan either at Gomenizza or in the waters of the
Ionian Islands. Pertev Pasha and several of the admirals had opposed Ali's
decision, and had urged him either to remain at Lepanto, or run out of the
gulf, round the Morea, and wait in the eastern seas for the campaign of
next year. Their reason for this advice was that many of the fighting-men
were new levies unused to the sea. But Ali's self-confidence made him
reject this prudent counsel.

On 2 October, Don Juan had made up his mind to leave Gomenizza, enter the
Gulf of Corinth, and risk an attack on the passage of the Little
Dardanelles. Accordingly in the afternoon he gave orders that the fleet
should prepare to sail at sunrise next day. During the long delay in the
island waters belated news came that Famagusta had fallen on 18 August, and
with the news there was a terrible story of the horrors that had followed
the broken capitulation. The news was now six weeks old, and this meant
that the whole of the enemy's fleet might be concentrated in the Gulf of
Corinth, but after the disasters of Cyprus an attempt must be made to win a
victory against all or any odds.

At sunrise the armada streamed out of the Bay of Gomenizza, and sped
southwards with oar and sail. The Gulf of Arta was passed, and the admirals
were reminded not of the far-off battle that saw the flight of the Egyptian
Queen and the epoch-making victory of Augustus Cæsar, but of a sea-fight in
the same waters only a few years ago that had ended in dire disaster to the
Christian arms. Then through the hours of darkness the fleet worked its way
past the rock-bound shores of Santa Maura, whose cliffs glimmered in the
moonlight. The roar of the breakers at their base warned the pilots to give
them good sea room. In the grey of the morning the peaks and ridges of
Ithaca and Cephalonia rose out of the haze upon the sea, and soon after
sunrise the fleet was moving through the narrow strait between the islands.

In the strait there were shelter and smooth water, but the wind was rising,
backing from north-west to west, and raising a sea outside Cephalonia that
sent a heavy swell sweeping round its southern point and into the opening
of the narrows. As the leading ships reached the mouth of the strait Don
Juan did not like the look of the weather, and decided to anchor in the Bay
of Phiscardo, a large opening in the Cephalonian shore just inside the
strait.

For two days the fleet lay weather-bound in the bay. During one of these
days of storm Kara Khodja, the Algerine, tried again to reconnoitre the
fleet, but was driven off by the guardships at the entrance of the strait.

On 6 October the wind shifted to the east and the sea began to go down. Don
Juan refused to wait any longer. The fleet put to sea, under bare masts,
and, rowing hard against the wind and through rough water, it worked its
way slowly across to the sheltered waters on the mainland coast between it
and the islands of Curzolari. Here the fleet anchored for the night, just
outside the opening of the Gulf of Corinth. Not twenty miles away up the
gulf lay the Turkish fleet, for Ali had brought it out of the Bay of
Lepanto, and anchored in the Bay of Calydon.

When the sun rose on the 7th, the wind was still contrary, blowing from the
south-east. But at dawn the ships were under way, and moving slowly in long
procession between the mainland and the islands that fringe the coast.
There was a certain amount of straggling. It was difficult to keep the
divisions closed up, and the tall galleasses especially felt the effect of
the head wind, and some of the galleys had to assist them by towing.

As the ships of the vanguard began to clear the channel between Oxia Island
and Cape Scropha, and the wide expanse of water at the entrance of the Gulf
of Corinth opened before them, the look-outs reported several ships hull
down on the horizon to the eastward, the sun shining on their white sails,
that showed like flecks of cloud on the sea-line.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO. COURSE OF ALLIED FLEET FROM ITHACA
    CHANNEL TO SCENE OF BATTLE]

The signal was sent back, "Enemy in sight," for the number of sails told it
must be a fleet, and could be none other than that of Ali Pasha. The allied
squadrons began to clear for action, and Don Juan displayed for the
first time the consecrated banner sent him by Pius V, a large square flag
embroidered with the crucifix and the figures of Saints Peter and Paul.

It was an anxious time for the Christian admiral. His fleet, now straggling
for miles along the coast, had to close up, issue from the channel, round
Cape Scropha, and form in battle array in the open water to the eastward.
If the Turks, who had the wind to help them, came up before this complex
operation was completed, he risked being beaten in detail.

While the fleet was still working its way through the channel, Don Juan had
sent one of the Roman pilots, Cecco Pisani forward in a swift galley to
reconnoitre. Pisani landed on Oxia, climbed one of its crags, and from this
lofty outlook counted 250 sail in the enemy's fleet, which was coming out
along the north shore of the gulf, the three main squadrons abreast, the
reserve astern of them. Returning to the "Reale,"[6] the pilot gave a
guarded report to Don Juan, fearing to discourage the young commander now
that battle was inevitable, but to his own admiral, the veteran Colonna, he
spoke freely. "Signor," he said, "you must put out all your claws, for it
will be a hard fight."

    [6] The flagship.

Then the wind suddenly fell and the sea became calm as a lake. The Turks
were seen to be furling their now useless sails. The rapidity with which
the manoeuvre was simultaneously executed by hundreds of ships excited the
admiration of the Christians. It showed the enemy had well-disciplined and
practised crews. But at the same time the fact that at a crisis, when every
moment gained was priceless, the Turks had lost the fair wind, convinced
the allies that Heaven was aiding them, and gave them confidence in the
promises of their chaplains, grey-cowled Franciscans and black-robed
Dominicans, who were telling them that the prayers of Christendom would
assure them a victory. Their young chief, Don Juan, left the "Reale" and
embarked in a swift brigantine, in which he rowed along the forming line of
the fleet. Clad in complete armour he stood in the bow holding up a
crucifix, and as he passed each galley he called on officers and men to
spare no effort in the holy cause for which they were about to fight. Then
he returned to his post on the poop of the "Reale," which was in the centre
of the line, with several other large galleys grouped around her. As each
ship was pulled into her fighting position, the Christian galley-slaves
were freed from the oar and given weapons with which to fight for the
common cause and their own freedom.

It was intended that the galleys of the left, centre, and right should form
one long line, with the six galleasses well out in front of them, two
before each division. These were to break the force of the Turkish onset
with their cannon. But when the long line of the enemy's galleys came
rushing to the onset, Don Juan's battle array was still incomplete.
Barbarigo's flagship was on the extreme left under the land. His division
had formed upon this mark, "dressing by the left," as a soldier would say.
The tall galleasses of two gallant brothers, the Venetians Ambrogio and
Antonio Bragadino, kinsmen of the hero of Famagusta, lay well out in front
of the left division. All the ships had their sails furled and the long
yards hauled fore and aft. Don Juan had formed up the centre division, two
more galleasses out in front, the "Reale" in the middle of the line, the
galleys of Veniero and Colonna to right and left, and two selected galleys
lying astern, covering the intervals between them and the flagship. Only a
few oars were being used to keep the ships in their stations. So far so
good, but the rest of the allied fleet was still coming up. The reserve was
only issuing from the channel behind Cape Scropha, and Doria was leading
the right division into line, with his two galleasses working up astern,
where their artillery would be useless. Thus when the battle began not much
more than half of the Christian armada was actually in line. But for the
sudden calm the position would have been even worse.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO 1. ALLIES FORMING LINE OF BATTLE. TURKS
    ADVANCING TO ATTACK]

It was almost noon when the battle began. The first shots were fired by the
four galleasses, as the long line of Ottoman galleys came sweeping on into
range of their guns. Heavy cannon, such as they carried, were still
something of a novelty in naval war, and the Turks had a dread of these
tall floating castles that bristled with guns, from which fire, smoke, and
iron were now hurled against them. One of the first shots crashed into the
deck of Ali Pasha's flagship, scattering destruction as it came. The
Turkish line swayed and lost its even array. Some ships hesitated, others
crowded together in order to pass clear of the galleasses. Daring captains,
who ventured to approach with an idea of boarding them, shrank back under
the storm of musketry that burst from their lofty bulwarks. The Turkish
fleet surged past the galleasses, broken into confused masses of ships,
with wide intervals between each squadron, as a stream is divided by the
piles of a bridge.

This disarray of the Turkish attack diminished the fire their bow-guns
could bring to bear on the Christian line, for the leading galleys masked
the batteries of those that followed. Along the allied left and centre,
lying in even array bows to the attack, the guns roared out in a heavy
cannonade. But then as the Ottoman bows came rushing through the smoke, and
the fleets closed on each other, the guns of the galleys were silent. For a
few moments the fight had been like a modern battle, with hundreds of guns
thundering over the sea. Now it was a fight like Salamis or Actium, except
for the sharp reports of musketry in the mêlée and the cannon of the
galleasses making the Turkish galleys their mark when they could fire into
the mass without danger to their friends.

The first to meet in close conflict were Barbarigo's division on the
allied left and Mohammed Scirocco's squadron, which was opposed to it on
the Turkish right. The Egyptian Pasha brought his own galley into action on
the extreme flank bow to bow with the Venetian flagship, and some of the
lighter Turkish galleys, by working through the shallows between Barbarigo
and the land, were able to fall on the rear of the extreme left of the
line, while the larger galleys pressed the attack in front. The Venetian
flagship was rushed by a boarding-party of Janissaries, and her decks
cleared as far as the mainmast. Barbarigo, fighting with his visor open,
was mortally wounded with an arrow in his face, and was carried below. But
his nephew Contarini restored the fight, and with the help of
reinforcements from the next galley drove the boarders from the decks of
the flagship. Contarini was mortally wounded in the midst of his success.
But two of his comrades, Nani and Porcia, led a rush of Venetians and
Spaniards on to Mohammed Scirocco's flagship, whose decks were swept by the
fire of the arquebusiers before the charge of swords and pikes burst over
her bows. The onset was irresistible. The Turks were cut down, stabbed,
hurled overboard, Mohammed himself being killed in the mêlée.

By the time the great galley of Alexandria was thus captured the landward
wings of the two fleets were mingled together in a confused fight, in which
there was little left of the original order. There was more trace of a line
on the allied or Christian side. The Turks had not broken through them, but
they had swung round, somewhat forcing Mohammed's galleys towards the
shore. When the standard of the Egyptian admiral was hauled down by the
victorious Venetians, and the rowers suddenly ceased to be slaves and
fraternized with the conquerors, some of the captains on the Turkish right
lost heart, drove their galleys aground in the shallows and deserted them
for the shore, where they hoped to find refuge among friends. On Don Juan's
left, though the fighting continued in a fierce mêlée of ships locked
together, and with crews doing wild work with loud arquebuse and clashing
sword, the battle was practically won.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO 2. BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE
    (NOON, OCT 7 1571)]

Meanwhile there had been close and deadly fighting in the centre. The main
squadron of the Turks had, like their right division, suffered from the
fire of the advanced galleasses. Several shots had struck the huge galley
that flew the flag of the Capitan-Pasha, Ali, a white pennon sent from
Mecca, embroidered in gold with verses of the Koran. Ali steered straight
for the centre of the Christian line, where the group of large galleys, the
"Reale" with the embroidered standard of the Holy League, Colonna's ship
with its ensign of the Papal Keys, and Veniero's with the Lion-flag of St.
Mark, told him he was striking at the heart of the confederacy. He chose
Don Juan's "Reale" for his adversary, relying on the Seraskier Pertev
Pasha, and the Pasha of Mitylene on his left and right, to support him by
attacking the other two flagships.

Ali held the fire of his bow-guns till he was within a short musket-shot of
his enemy, and then fired at point-blank. One of his cannon-balls crashed
through the bow barrier of the "Reale," and raked the rowers' benches,
killing several oarsmen. As the guns of the "Reale" thundered out their
reply, the bow of the Turkish flagship, towering over the forecastle of Don
Juan's vessel, came through the smoke-cloud and struck the Spanish ship
stem to stem with a grinding crash and a splintering of timber, throwing
down many of the crew. The Turkish bow dug deep into the Spanish ship, and
in the confusion of the collision it was thought for a moment she was
sinking, but a forward bulkhead kept her afloat. Ali's ship rebounded from
the shock, then glided alongside the "Reale" with much mutual smashing of
oars. The two ships grappled, and the hand-to-hand fight began. At the same
time Pertev Pasha grappled Veniero's flagship, and another Turkish galley,
commanded by Ali's two sons, forced its way through the line and engaged
the two galleys that lay astern of the flagship. Then the Pasha of Mitylene
closed upon Colonna's ship, and all along the centre the galleys came
dashing together. The crash of broken oars, the rattling explosions of
arquebuses and grenades, the war-notes of the Christian trumpets and the
Turkish drums, the clash of swords, the shouts and yells of the combatants,
rose in a deafening din. Froissart wrote in an earlier day that sea-fights
were always murderous. This last great battle of the medieval navies had
the character of its predecessors. In this fight at close quarters on the
narrow space afforded by the galleys' decks there was no question of
surrender on either side, no thought but of which could strike the hardest
and kill the most. Nor could men, striving hand to hand in the confusion of
the floating mêlée, know anything of what was being done beyond their
limited range of view, so that even the admirals became for the moment only
leaders of small groups of fighting-men. On the poop and forecastle of the
"Reale" were gathered men whose names recalled all that was greatest in the
annals of Spanish chivalry, veterans who had fought the Moor and voyaged
the western ocean, and young cavaliers eager to show themselves worthy sons
of the lines of Guzman and Mendoza, Benavides and Salazar. Don Juan,
arrayed in complete steel, stood by the flagstaff of the consecrated
standard. Along the bulwarks four hundred Castilian arquebusiers in
corselet and head-piece represented the pick of the yet unconquered Spanish
infantry. The three hundred rowers had left the oars, and, armed with pike
and sword, were ready to second them, when the musketry ceased and the
storming of the Turkish galleys began. From Ali's ship a hundred archers
and three hundred musketeers of the Janissary corps replied to the fire of
the Spaniards. The range was a few feet. Men were firing in each other's
faces, and at such close quarters the arquebuse with its heavy ball was a
more death-dealing weapon than the modern rifle. Such slaughter could
not last, and the _caballeros_ were eager to end it by closing on the Turks
with cold steel.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO 3. THE MÊLÉE (ABOUT 12.30 P.M.)]

Twice they dashed through the smoke over Ali's bulwarks, and for a while
gained a footing on the deck of the enemy's flagship. Twice they were
driven back by the reinforcements that Ali drew from the crews of galleys
that had crowded to his aid. Then the Turks came clambering over the bows
of the "Reale," and nearly cleared the forecastle. Don Bernardino de
Cardenas brought up a reserve from the waist of the ship and attacked the
Turkish boarders in the bows. He was struck by a musket-ball. It dinted his
steel helmet, but failed to penetrate. Cardenas fell, stunned by the shock
of the blow, and died next day, "though he showed no sign of a wound."

Don Juan himself was going forward sword in hand to assist in the fight in
the bows of the "Reale," and Ali was hurrying up reinforcements to the
attack. It was a critical moment. But Colonna just then struck a decisive
blow. He had boarded and stormed the ship that attacked him, a long galley
commanded by the Bey of Negropont. Having thus disposed of his immediate
adversary, he saw the peril of the "Reale." Manning all his oars, he drove
the bow of his flagship deep into the stern of Ali's ship, swept her decks
with a volley of musketry, and sent a storming-party on to her poop. The
diversion saved the "Reale." The Spaniards hustled the Turks over her bows
at point of pike, and Ali, attacked on two sides, had now to fight on the
defensive.

On the other side of the "Reale" Veniero's flagship was making a splendid
fight. It is the details of those old battles that bring home to us the
changes of three centuries. A modern admiral stands sheltered in his
conning tower, amid voice tubes and electrical transmitters. Veniero, a
veteran of seventy years, stood by the poop-rail of his galley, thinking
less of commanding than of doing his own share of the killing. Balls and
arrows whistled around him, along the bulwarks amidships his men were
fighting hand to hand with the Seraskier's galley that lay lashed
alongside. There were no orders to give for the moment, so he occupied
himself with firing a blunderbuss into the crowd on the Turkish deck, and
handing it to a servant to reload with half a dozen balls, and then firing
again and again.

Here, too, in the main squadron were fighting the galleys of Spinola of
Genoa, of the young Duke of Urbino, of the Prince of Parma, of Bonelli, the
nephew of Pius V, of Sforza of Milan, and Gonzaga of Solferino, and the
young heirs of the Roman houses of Colonna and Orsini. Venice had not all
the glory of Lepanto. All Italy still remembers that every noble family,
every famous city, from the Alps to Sicily, had its part in the battle.

Colonna's timely aid to the "Reale" was the turning-point of the fight in
the centre. Led by Vasquez Coronada and Gil d'Andrada, the Spanish infantry
poured into Ali's ship, and winning their way foot by foot cleared her
decks. Not one of her four hundred fighting-men survived. Ali himself was
one of the last to fall. One account says that when all was lost he cut his
throat with his dagger, another that he was shot down at close quarters.
His head was cut off, placed on a pike, and carried to Don Juan with the
captured standard of Mecca. The chivalrous young admiral turned with
disgust from the sight of the blood-dripping head, and ordered it to be
thrown into the sea.

The battle had lasted an hour and a half. Don Juan saw in the capture of
the enemy's flagship the assurance of victory. Like all great commanders,
he knew the value of moral effect. He hoisted the consecrated banner of the
League at the tall mast-head of the conquered galley, and bade his
trumpeters blow a flourish and his men shout victory. In the confusion and
uproar of the mêlée not many of the ships would see what was happening
round the "Reale," but this demonstration would attract the attention of
friends and foes in the centre of the fight. It was just one of the moments
when, both parties becoming exhausted by the prolonged struggle, success
would belong to the side that could put forth even for a while the more
vigorous effort, and the sight of the papal standard fluttering from the
Turkish mast, instead of the banner of Mecca, inspired this effort on the
part of the Christians, and depressed and discouraged their adversaries.

Pertev Pasha had lost heavily under the fire of the Venetian flagship, and
had failed in an effort to board her. He cut his galley adrift. Veniero let
her go, and turned to attack other enemies. Pertev's ship drifted down on
two Christian galleys, and was promptly boarded and taken. The Seraskier
slipped on board of a small craft he was towing astern, reached another
ship, and, giving up all hope of victory, fled with her from the fight.
Veniero had meanwhile rammed and sunk two other galleys. He was wounded
with a bullet in the leg, but he had the wound bandaged and remained on
deck. The old man gave Venice good reason to be proud of her admiral.

Along the left and centre of the Christian armada there was now victory.
Admirals and captains were busy storming or sinking such of the enemy's
ships as still maintained the fight. On the left Barbarigo had been
mortally wounded, and the losses had been heavy, but the success was so
pronounced that large numbers of men had been landed to hunt down the
Turkish fugitives on the shore. In the centre there was still some hard
fighting. Here it was that Miguel Cervantes, leading the stormers to the
capture of a Turkish galley, received three wounds, one of which cost him
his left hand.

When the battle began at noon, first on the allied left, then in the
centre, Doria, the Genoese admiral who commanded the right, was not yet in
position. His orders were to mark with his flagship the extreme right of
the line of battle so that the rest of his division could form on this
point. But it was soon seen that he was keeping away, steering southward
into the open sea, with his division trailing after him in a long line, the
galleasses that should have been out in front coming slowly up behind the
squadron. Ulugh Ali with the left wing of the Turkish fleet had also
altered his course, and was steering on a parallel line to that taken by
the Genoese. Some of the Christian captains who watched these movements
from the right centre thought that Doria was deserting the armada, and even
that he was in flight, pursued by Ulugh Ali.

Doria afterwards explained that, as he steered out from behind the centre
to take up his position in the battle line, he saw that Ulugh Ali, instead
of forming on Ali Pasha's flank, was working out to seaward, and he
therefore believed that the Algerine was trying to get upon the flank of
the allied line, in order to envelop it and attack from both front and
rear, so as to crush the extreme right with a local superiority of force.
His plan was, therefore, to confine himself to observing Ulugh Ali's
movements, steering on a parallel course in the hope of eventually closing
and meeting him fairly ship to ship. Doria was an old sailor, perhaps the
most experienced leader in the fleet, except the veteran Veniero. If he had
been less of a tactician, perhaps he would have come into action sooner.
And it is strange that, while playing for position against Ulugh Ali, he
did not realize that if, instead of continually increasing his own distance
from the centre, he had at any moment turned back towards it, he could thus
force the Algerine admiral either to close with him or leave him free to
overwhelm the Turkish main squadron by enveloping its left.

It was Ulugh Ali, not Doria, who turned back and ventured on a stroke like
this. The Algerine had, after all, outmanoeuvred the over-clever Genoese.
The course taken by the two squadrons had, with the drift of the current,
placed Ulugh Ali's rearmost ships actually somewhat nearer the seaward
flank of the main fighting lines than Doria's galleys, which his squadron
also outnumbered. A signal ran down the long line of the Turkish left, and
while some of the galleys turned and bore down on Doria's division, the
rest swung round and, before Doria had quite realized what was happening,
Ulugh Ali, with the heaviest ships of his division, was rushing towards the
fight in the centre.

The brunt of the Algerine's onset fell upon a dozen galleys on Don Juan's
right flank. The furthest out, the flagship of the Knights of Malta, was
attacked by seven of the enemy's vessels. Next to her lay the papal galley
"Fiorenza," the Piedmontese "Margarita di Savoia," and seven or eight
Venetian ships. All these were enveloped in the Turkish attack which
engaged the line in front, flank and rear. There were no enemies the
Algerines hated so fiercely as the Knights of Malta, but, even though they
had the flagship of the Order at such a fearful disadvantage, they did not
venture to close with it until they had overwhelmed the knights and their
crew with a murderous fire of bullets and arrows at close quarters. Then
they boarded the ship and disposed of the few surviving defenders. The
commander, Giustiniani, wounded by five arrows, and a Sicilian and a
Spanish knight alone survived, and these only because they were left for
dead among the heaps of slain that encumbered the deck. Ulugh Ali secured
as a trophy of his success the standard of the Knights. In the same way the
"Fiorenza" and the "San Giovanni" of the papal squadron, and the
Piedmontese ship, were rushed in rapid succession. On the "Fiorenza" the
only survivors were her captain, Tomasso de Medici, and sixteen men, all
wounded; the captain of the "San Giovanni" was killed with most of his men,
and the captain of the Savoyard ship survived an equally terrible
slaughter, after receiving no less than eleven wounds.

But Ulugh Ali was not to be allowed to "eat up" the line ship by ship.
Reinforcements were now arriving in rapid succession. First Santa Cruz,
with the reserve, dashed into the fight, and though twice wounded with shot
from a Turkish arquebuse, drove his flagship into the midst of the
Algerines. Don Juan cut adrift a captured ship he had just taken in tow,
and with twelve galleys hastened to assist the reserve in restoring the
fight. Doria, leaving part of his division to encounter the galleys Ulugh
Ali had detached against it, led the rest into the mêlée. Colonna and
Veniero were supporting Don Juan. The local advantage of numbers, which
Ulugh Ali at first possessed, soon disappeared, but for more than an hour
the fight continued with heavy loss on both sides. Then the Algerine
admiral struggled out of the mêlée, and with fourteen ships fled
north-westward, steering for Cape Oxia and the wide channel between Ithaca
and the mainland. Santa Cruz and Doria pursued for a while, but a wind
sprang up from the south-east, and the fugitives set their long lateen
sails. Under sail and oar a corsair could generally defy pursuit.

The pursuers gave up the chase and returned to where Don Juan and the other
admirals were securing their prizes, clearing the decks of dead, collecting
the wounded, and hurriedly repairing damages. It was now after four
o'clock, and less than three hours of daylight remained for these
operations. Besides the handful that had escaped with Ulugh Ali, a few
galleys had got away into the Gulf of Corinth, making for Lepanto, but the
great Turkish armada had been destroyed, and the victorious armament was
mistress of the Mediterranean.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO 4. ULUGH ALI'S COUNTER-ATTACK
    (ABOUT 2.30 P.M.)]

The success had been dearly bought. On both sides the losses in the
hard-fought battle had been terrible. The allies had about 7500 men killed
or drowned, two-thirds of these fighting-men, the rest rowers. The nobles
and knights had exposed themselves freely in the mêlée, and Spain, Malta,
Venice, and the Italian cities had each and all their roll of heroic
dead. The list of the Venetians begins with the names of seventeen captains
of ships, including the admiral Barbarigo, besides twelve other chiefs of
great houses who fought under the standard of St. Mark in command of
companies of fighting-men. No less than sixty of the Knights of St. John
"gave their lives that day for the cause of Christ," to quote the annalist
of the Order. Several others were wounded, and of these the Prior
Giustiniani and his captain, Naro, of Syracuse, died soon after. One of the
knights killed in the battle was a Frenchman, Raymond de Loubière, a
Provençal. Another Frenchman, the veteran De Romegas, fought beside Don
Juan on the "Reale," and to his counsel and aid the commander-in-chief
attributed much of his success in the campaign. The long lists of the
Spanish, Neapolitan, Roman, and Genoese nobles who fell at Lepanto include
many historic names.

The losses of the defeated Moslems were still heavier. The lowest estimate
makes the number of the dead 20,000, the highest 30,000. Ali Pasha and most
of his captains were killed. Ali's two sons and several of his best
officers were among the prisoners. Fifteen Turkish galleys were sunk or
burned, no less than 190 ships were the prizes of the victors. A few
galleys had escaped by the Little Dardanelles to Lepanto. A dozen more had
found refuge with Ulugh Ali in the fortified harbour of Santa Maura. The
Algerine eventually reached Constantinople, and laid at the feet of Sultan
Selim the standard of the Knights of Malta, which he had secured when he
was in temporary possession of Giustiniani's flagship.

Don Juan's best trophies of victory were the 12,000 Christian slaves found
on board the captured galleys. They were men of all nations, and some of
them had for years toiled at the oar. Freed from their bondage, they
carried throughout all Christendom the news of the victory and the fame of
their deliverer.

Hardly three hours of daylight remained when the battle ended, and the
Christian admirals reluctantly abandoned the pursuit of Ulugh Ali. The
breeze that had aided the Algerine in his flight was rapidly increasing to
a gale, and the sea was rising fast. The Christian fleet, encumbered with
nearly two hundred prizes, and crippled by the loss of thousands of oars
shattered in the fight, was in serious danger in the exposed waters that
had been the scene of the battle. By strenuous and well-directed efforts
the crews of oarsmen were hurriedly reorganized. Happily the wind was
favourable for a run through the Oxia Channel to the Bay of Petala. The
prizes were taken in tow. Sails were set. Weary men tugged at the oar,
knights and nobles taking their places among them. As the October night
deepened into darkness, amid driving rain and roaring wind-squalls, the
fleet anchored in the sheltered bay.

The gale that swept the Adriatic was a warning that the season for active
operations was drawing to a close, and the admirals reluctantly decided
that no more could be done till next spring. The swiftest ships were sent
off to carry the good news of Lepanto to Rome and Messina, Venice and
Genoa, Naples and Barcelona. The fleet returned in triumph to Messina, and
entered the port trailing the captured Turkish standards in the water
astern of the ships that had taken them, while pealing bells and saluting
cannon greeted the victors.

Lepanto worthily closed the long history of the oar-driven navies. The
galleasses, with their tall masts and great sails, and their bristling
batteries of cannon, which lay in front of Don Juan's battle line,
represented the new type of ship that was soon to alter the whole aspect of
naval war. So quickly came the change that men who had fought at Lepanto
were present, only seventeen years later, at another world-famed battle
that was fought under sail, the defeat of King Philip's "Grand Armada" in
the Narrow Seas of the North.

    [Illustration: LEPANTO 5. FLIGHT OF ULUGH ALI--ALLIED FLEET
    FORMING UP WITH CAPTURED PRIZES AT CLOSE OF BATTLE (ABOUT 4 P.M.)]



    CHAPTER VI

    THE GREAT ARMADA

    1588

    "Attend, all ye who list to hear
      Our glorious England's praise.
    I sing of the thrice famous deeds
      She wrought in ancient days,
    When that great fleet 'Invincible'
      Against her bore in vain
    The richest spoils of Mexico,
      The bravest hearts of Spain."


Thus Macaulay begins his stirring ballad of the Armada. The lines have
helped to perpetuate a popular error--one of the many connected with the
story as it is generally told in our English histories. It somehow became
the fashion at a very early date to speak of the defeat of the so-called
"Invincible Armada" of Spain. But the Spaniards never gave their fleet such
a name. In the contemporary histories and in Spanish official documents it
is more modestly and truthfully spoken of as the "Gran Armada"--"the great
armed force." And, by the way, our very use of the word "armada" is based
on popular ignorance of the Spanish language, and on the impression
produced in England by the attempt of Philip II to make himself master of
the narrow seas, and invade our islands. An "armada" is not necessarily a
fleet. It is an armed force, an "army" either marching on land or embarked
for service on the sea, in which case fleet and fighting-men are included
in the word.

Philip II was King not of Spain only, but also of Portugal and of the Two
Sicilies, ruler of other European lands and "Lord of the Indies," the
Sovereign of a widespread maritime Empire in Asia, Africa, and America,
that had been won by a hundred years of enterprise on the part of sailors
and soldiers like Columbus and Vasco da Gama, Cortes, Pizarro, and
Albuquerque. The tradition of Spanish victory on the sea was a proud one,
and as we have seen Spain had borne a leading part in the latest of
decisive naval victories, when the Turkish power in the Mediterranean was
shattered at Lepanto; King Philip might therefore reasonably look forward
to success for his great fleet, and if it could once secure the mastery of
the Channel, the invasion of England might be regarded as no very perilous
enterprise. For the Spanish infantry were the best soldiers of the day, and
the Duke of Parma, who was to command the land operations, was one of the
best and most experienced leaders in Europe.

Looking back on the events of the wonderful year of the Armada, we must try
to divest ourselves of the ideas of to-day, and see things as the men of
the time saw them. Philip counted on divisions among the people of England.
The event proved that he was mistaken, but he had reasonable grounds for
the view he took. A hundred years later another fleet conveyed a foreign
army across the narrow seas from the Netherlands to change effectively the
course of English affairs. It found a divided people, and the invading army
was welcomed by a party strong enough to effect a Revolution that was a new
starting-point in English history. Nor must we suppose that the policy of
Philip II was directed entirely by religious views. If kings were easily
swayed by such motives, there would have not been such difficulty about
organizing a League against the Turk.

Professor Laughton, in his introduction to the "State Papers relating to
the Defeat of the Armada," puts the matter so clearly that it is worth
while quoting his words at some length:--

    "It is not strange that the action of the fleet was for long
    misunderstood, and that the failure of the Spaniards should have
    been represented--as it often is even now--as due to a
    Heaven-sent storm. '_Flavit Deus et dissipati sunt_' was
    accepted as at once a true and pious explanation of the whole
    thing. It was, too, a flattering and economical belief. We were,
    it has been argued, a nation peculiarly dear to the Almighty,
    and He showed His favour by raising a storm to overwhelm our
    enemy, when the odds against us were most terrible. From the
    religious point of view such a representation is childish; from
    the historical it is false. False, because the Spanish fleet,
    after being hounded up Channel, had sustained a crushing defeat
    from the English, a defeat in which they lost many ships and
    thousands of men before they fled to the north.... Childish,
    because in affairs of State Providence works by recognized
    means, and gives the victory, not by disturbing the course of
    nature and nature's laws, but by giving the favoured nation wise
    and prudent commanders, skilful and able warriors; by teaching
    their hands to war and their fingers to fight.

    "But, in fact, much of the nonsense that has been talked grew
    out of the attempt, not unsuccessfully made, to represent the
    war as religious; to describe it as a species of crusade
    instigated by the Pope, in order to bring heretical England once
    more into the fold of the true Church. In reality nothing can be
    more inaccurate. It is, indeed, quite certain that religious
    bitterness was imported into the quarrel; but the war had its
    origin in two perfectly clear and wholly mundane causes."

Professor Laughton then goes on to explain what these causes were: (1) the
attempts of Drake and Hawkins to break the Spanish monopoly of trade in the
West Indies by armed expeditions, which included the capture of Spanish
ships and the sacking of Spanish trading posts. The Spaniards regarded
Drake and Hawkins as smugglers and pirates, and in vain asked Elizabeth to
disavow and make amends for their acts.

(2) "The countenance and assistance which had been given by the English to
the King's rebellious subjects in the Low Countries."

The King was glad enough to put forward religious reasons as the motives
for his enterprise in the hope of thus enlisting new allies on his side,
but, like so many other wars, the conflict between Spain and England, which
began in 1585, arose largely from rivalry in trade.

The Marquis of Santa Cruz, the same who had commanded the allied reserve at
Lepanto, was then the most famous and the most trusted of King Philip's
admirals. Santa Cruz urged upon him the advisability of attempting an
invasion of England itself, as the only effective means of cutting off the
support given by Elizabeth to the revolt of the Netherlands, and checking
at their source the raids on the West Indies. In March, 1586, he submitted
to his master an elaborate plan for the operation. Santa Cruz's scheme was
an ambitious project for concentrating the whole force of the Spanish
Empire in an attack on England. Some 500 ships, great and small, were to be
assembled in the ports of the Spanish peninsula, and 85,000 men embarked on
them.

Philip II thought the scheme too vast, and, above all, too costly. He
substituted for it another plan, which was more economical. Santa Cruz was
to assemble in the Atlantic ports of the Peninsula a fleet of more modest
proportions, just strong enough to secure command of the Channel. This
done, he was to cover the transportation across the narrow seas of the
Spanish army that was already operating in the Netherlands, under the Duke
of Parma. The army of the Netherlands would be reinforced with all the
fighting-men that could be spared from the fleet. This was in its essential
points the plan of campaign of the "Gran' Armada" of 1588.

It was intended that the attempt should be made in the summer of 1587. It
was delayed for a twelvemonth by a daring enterprise of Francis Drake, a
memorable enterprise, because in proposing it he laid down the true
principle for the defence of England against invasion. His policy was that
of Edward III at Sluys, his principle that it was better to keep the enemy
occupied on his own coasts rather than await him on those of England. On 2
April, 1587, Drake sailed for Spain with only thirty ships, and surprised
and burned the half-armed transports and storeships collected at Cadiz for
fitting out the Armada. His dashing enterprise had made its departure for
that year impossible.

Before the preparations for the next summer's campaign were completed the
Marquis of Santa Cruz died, and Spain lost her best and most experienced
admiral. King Philip put in his place a great noble, Guzman, Duke of
Medina-Sidonia, who pleaded in vain to be excused, frankly declaring to his
sovereign that he felt unfit for such high command, as he had scant
knowledge of war and no experience of the sea. It is supposed that the King
persisted in the nomination because Medina-Sidonia's hereditary rank would
place him above the jealousies of the subordinate commanders, and he hoped
to supply for the Marquis's inexperience by sending veteran sailors and
soldiers with him as his staff-officers and divisional commanders.

By the middle of May, 1588, the Armada was at last ready to sail from the
Tagus. In England there had been the wildest reports as to its numbers and
strength. These exaggerations were repeated by the popular historians of
the fighting in the Channel, and have become almost a national tradition.
The Spanish galleons were said to be floating monsters, more like castles
than ships; the fleet was so numerous that it hid the sea, and looked like
a moving town; it "seemed as if room would scarce be found on the ocean for
so vast an armament."

The glory of the English victory was great enough to need no exaggeration
to enhance it. But in sober fact there was no such enormous disparity, as
is generally imagined, between the opposing forces.

Large and small, there were 130 ships in the Armada. The detailed
catalogue of them, from the list sent by Medina-Sidonia to Philip II, has
been reprinted by Captain Duro in his "Armada Invencibile," and by
Professor Laughton in his "State Papers relating to the Armada." From these
sources I take a summarized table giving the statistics of the Armada, and
then add some particulars as to various squadrons, ships, and
commanders:--

  ------------------------+--------+-------+------+----------+--------+----------
        Divisions.        | Ships. | Tons. | Guns.| Soldiers.|Sailors.|Total Men.
  ------------------------+--------+-------+------+----------+--------+----------
  Armada of Portugal      |   12   | 7,737 |  347 |   3,330  |  1,293 |   4,623
    "    "  Biscay        |   14   | 6,567 |  238 |   1,937  |    863 |   2,800
    "    "  Castille      |   16   | 8,714 |  384 |   2,458  |  1,719 |   4,171
    "    "  Andalusia     |   11   | 8,762 |  240 |   2,327  |    780 |   3,105
    "    "  Guipuzcoa     |   14   | 6,991 |  247 |   1,992  |    616 |   2,608
    "    "  the Levant    |   10   | 7,705 |  280 |   2,780  |    767 |   3,523
  Squadron of "urcas"     |   23   |10,271 |  384 |   3,121  |    608 |   3,729
    (hulks or storeships) |        |       |      |          |        |
  "Patasses" and "zabras" |   22   | 1,121 |   91 |     479  |    574 |   1,093
    (small craft)         |        |       |      |          |        |
  Neapolitan galleasses   |    4   |   --  |  200 |     773  |    468 |   1,341
  Galleys                 |    4   |   --  |   20 |     --   |    362 |     362
  ------------------------+--------+-------+------+----------+--------+----------
                          |  130   |57,868 |2,431 |  19,295  |  8,050 |  27,365
  Rowers (in galleasses and galleys)       |      |          |        |   2,088
                                           |      |          |        |  ------
  Grand total, soldiers, sailors and rowers|      |          |        |  29,453
  -----------------------------------------+------+----------+--------+----------

The first point to note about the Armada is that it was almost entirely a
fleet of sailing-ships. The new period of naval war had begun. There had
been hundreds of galleys at Lepanto, seventeen years earlier, but there
were only four in the Armada, and none of these reached the Channel. The
long, low, oar-driven warship, that for two thousand years had done so much
fighting in the Mediterranean, proved useless in the long waves of the
Atlantic.[7] The only oared ships that really took part in the campaign
were the four galleasses, and in these the oar was only auxiliary to the
spread of sail on their three full-rigged masts. The galleasse has been
described in the story of Lepanto. It was an intermediate or transition
type of ship. It seems to have so impressed the English onlookers that the
four galleasses are given quite an unmerited importance in some of the
popular narratives of the war.

    [7] Galleys were used in the land-locked Mediterranean and
    Baltic up to the first years of the nineteenth century, but the
    only sailors who ever ventured to take galleys into the wild
    weather of the Atlantic were the Norse Vikings.

But the day of sails had come, and the really effective strength of the
Armada lay in the tall galleons of the six "armadas" or squadrons of
Portugal, the Spanish provinces, and the Levantine traders. The galleon was
a large sailing-ship, but even as to the size of the galleons the popular
tradition of history is full of exaggeration. Built primarily for commerce,
not for war, they carried fewer guns than the galleasses, though many of
them were of heavier tonnage. In those days every large trader carried a
certain number of guns for her protection, but such guns were mostly of
small calibre and short range.

    [Illustration: THE "GREAT ARMADA" ENTERING THE CHANNEL
    _From the drawing by W. H. Overend_]

The largest galleons were in the armada of the Levant. The flagship, "La
Regazona," commanded by Martin de Bertendona, was the biggest ship in the
whole fleet, a great vessel of 1249 tons. But she only mounted 30 guns,
mostly light pieces. Compare this with the armament of the galleasses,
and one sees the difference between ships built for war and galleons that
were primarily traders. The largest of the four galleasses was only of 264
tons, the smallest 169, but each of the four mounted 50 guns. In all the
six armadas of galleons there were only seven ships of over a thousand
tons. There were fourteen more of over 800, and a considerable number of
under 500 tons. But the galleon looked larger than she really was. Such
ships had high bulwarks and towering fore and stern castles, and they
appear to have been over-rigged with huge masts and heavy yards. A galleon
under full sail must have been a splendid sight, the bows and stern and the
tall "castles" tricked out with carving, gold and colour. Great lanterns
were fixed on the poop. The sails were not dull stretches of canvas, but
bright with colour, for woven into or embroidered on them there were huge
coats-of-arms, or brilliantly coloured crosses, and even pictures of the
saints with gilded haloes. From the mastheads fluttered pennons thirty or
forty feet long, and flagstaffs displayed not only the broad standard of
the Lions and Castles of Spain, but also the banners of nobles and knights
who were serving on board.

But the tall ship, with her proud display of gold and colour, was more
splendid than formidable, and the Elizabethan seamen had soon realized the
fact. Built originally for the more equable weather of the trade-wind
region in the South Atlantic, she was not so well fitted for the wilder
seas and changing winds of the North. She was essentially an unhandy ship.
In bad weather she rolled heavily, and her heavy masts and spars and high
upper works strained the whole structure, so that she was soon leaking
badly. With the wind abeam and blowing hard, her tall sides and towering
castles were like sails that could not be reefed, a resisting surface that
complicated all manoeuvres. The guns that looked out from her port-holes
were mostly small cannon, many of them mere three and four-pounders, of
short range and little effect. So small was the dependence the Spaniards
placed upon them that they carried only the scantiest supply of ammunition.

The fighting method of the galleon was to bear close down upon her
opponent, run her aboard, if possible, pour down a heavy fire of musketry
from the high bulwarks and castles, so as to bring a plunging shower of
bullets on the enemy's decks, and then board, and let pike and sword do
their work as they had done at Lepanto. These were, after all, the methods
of the soldier, the tactics of the war-galley. It was the merit of Howard,
Hawkins, Drake, and the other great captains, who commanded against the
Armada, that they fought as seamen, using their more handy and better
handled ships to choose their own position and range, refusing to let the
Spaniards close, and bringing a more powerful, longer-ranging, and better
served artillery to bear with destructive effect on the easy targets
supplied by the tall galleons. It is worth noting that while there were
more soldiers than seamen in the Armada, there were more seamen than
soldiers in the fleet that met it in the narrow seas.

If the Armada had a commander whose only merit was personal courage, the
admirals of the various squadrons were all men of long experience in war,
both by land and sea. Martinez de Recalde, the second in command and
admiral of the armada of Biscay, was a veteran seaman. Diego Flores de
Valdes, the admiral of Castille, was an enterprising and skilful leader,
and if his advice had been taken at the outset there might have been a
disaster for England. Pedro de Valdes, the admiral of Andalusia, had sailed
the northern seas, and Medina-Sidonia was told he might rely on his local
knowledge. Moncada, the admiral of the galleasses, was a "first-rate
fighting-man," and De Leyva, the general of the troops embarked, who had
taken command of the "Rata Coronada," a great galleon of 800 tons in the
Levant armada, showed that he was sailor as well as soldier.

The Duke of Parma, who commanded the army that was to be embarked from the
Netherlands, was counted the best general of the day, and his 30,000
Spanish regular infantry were the most formidable body of troops then in
Europe. His orders from the King were to build or collect a flotilla of
flat-bottomed barges to ferry his army across the straits under the
protection of the Armada, and for months thousands of shipwrights had been
at work in fishing ports and creeks, canals and rivers along the coast
between Calais and Ostend. The Dutch rebels held Flushing and the mouth of
the Scheldt, and they had a small but efficient fleet ready to do good
service as the ally of England--a fact often overlooked in our popular
stories of the Armada. Parma had proposed that he should attempt to reduce
Flushing and obtain command of the Scheldt, as a preliminary to the
enterprise against England. The Armada could then run for the Scheldt, and
make Antwerp its base of operations. But Philip was impatient of further
delays. Though the best of the Spanish admirals were against him, the King
insisted that the Armada need only run up Channel and obtain temporary
command of the straits to enable Parma to embark his army in the flotilla
even from an open beach. In the King's mind the necessity of destroying the
hostile sea power as a prelude to any scheme of invasion was disregarded or
was not understood.

On 30 May, in fine weather, the Armada at last sailed from Lisbon. The
reports sent back to Philip II by Medina-Sidonia, as the fleet passed Cape
Finisterre and stood out into the Bay of Biscay, told that all was well.
But a few days later a storm from the Atlantic swept the sea, and partly
dispersed the Armada. The storeships held on till they sighted the Scilly
Islands, and then, finding they had parted from the fleet, turned back.
Into the northern ports of Spain came scattered ships that had lost spars
and sails, some of them leaking so badly that only hard labour at the pumps
kept them afloat. Medina-Sidonia, with the main body, made for Corunna,
where he ordered the stragglers to reassemble. On 19 June he wrote to the
King reporting his arrival.

Then he sent letters betraying so much discouragement and irresolution that
one wonders he was not promptly relieved of his command. He proposed that
the whole enterprise should be abandoned and some means found for arranging
terms of peace. He reported that the fleet had suffered badly in the storm;
that there was much sickness on board; that large quantities of provisions
had gone bad, and must be replaced; and that the ships were short of water.
Instead of dismissing him from the command, the King wrote to his admiral
ordering and encouraging him to renew the attempt. The ships were refitted
and provisioned, and drafts of men collected to replace the invalided
soldiers and sailors. Early in July the Armada was again ready for sea.

The news that King Philip's Great Armada had been beaten back by the wild
Biscay gales reached England when the whole country was in a fever of
preparation for resistance. A commission of noblemen and gentlemen had been
appointed "to sett doune such meanes as are fittest to putt the forces of
the Realme in order to withstand any invasion." The Lord-Lieutenants of the
counties were directed to be ready to call out the local levies, which
formed a roughly armed, and mostly untrained, militia. Garrisons were
organized in the seaports, formed of more reliable and better equipped men,
and a small force was collected at Tilbury to oppose a landing in the
Thames estuary. Faggots and brushwood were piled on hill-tops from Land's
End to Berwick to send the news of the Spaniards' arrival through England
by a chain of beacon fires.

The best of the Queen's advisers, men like the Lord Admiral Howard of
Effingham, and such experienced seamen as Hawkins, Drake, and Fenner,
realized, and succeeded in persuading the Council, that it was on the sea,
and not on the land, that England must be protected from invasion. Their
letters in the Armada State Papers are full of practical lessons even for
the present time. While insisting that the main effort must be
concentrated on the fleet, they did not disregard the advisability of
subsidiary preparations on land, in case of accidents. But Howard insisted
that a few well-trained men were worth fourfold their number of irregular
levies, and wrote to the Council:--

    "I pray your Lordships to pardon me that I may put you in
    remembrance to move her Majesty that she may have an especial
    care to draw ten or twelve thousand men about her own person,
    that may not be men unpractised. For this she may well assure
    herself that 10,000 men, that be practised and trained together
    under a good governor and expert leaders, shall do her Majesty
    more service than any 40,000 which shall come from any other
    parts of the realm. For, my Lords, we have here 6000 men in the
    fleet, which we shall be able, out of our company, to land upon
    any great occasion, which being as they have been trained here
    under captains and men of experience, and each man knowing his
    charge and they their captains, I had rather have them to do any
    exploit than any 16,000 men out of any part of the realm."

The fleet, from which Howard of Effingham was ready to land these trained
men if necessary, was even more numerous than the Armada itself, though the
average size of the ships was smaller. On the list there appear the names
of no fewer than 197 ships, ranging in size from the "Triumph" of 1100 tons
(Frobisher's ship) down to small coasting craft. The flagship, the "Ark,"
or "Ark Royal," was a vessel of 800 tons. Contemporary prints show that she
had a high poop and forecastle, but not on the exaggerated scale of the
Spanish galleons; and that she had four masts, and was pierced with three
tiers of port-holes for guns, besides gun-ports in the stern. She had a
crew of 270 mariners, 34 gunners, and 126 soldiers. Contrary to the system
on which the Armada was manned, the seamen in every ship of the English
fleet exceeded the soldiers in number. "The Ark" carried no less than 44
guns, namely, 4 "cannon" (60-pounders), 4 "demi-cannon" (30-pounders) 12
"culverins" (long 18-pounders), 12 "demi-culverins" (long 9-pounders), 6
"sakers" (6-pounders), and six smaller pieces, some of them mounted inboard
for resisting boarders at close quarters.[8] This was an armament equalled
by few of the Spanish ships, and the fact is that the English ships as a
rule were better armed than the Spaniards.

    [8] These old wooden ships had a much longer life than the steel
    battleship of to-day, which becomes obsolete and is broken up
    after twenty years. The "Ark," launched in 1587 (and built at
    the cost of £5000 = £50,000 in the money of to-day), was
    refitted and renamed the "Anne Royal" (after James I's queen) in
    1608; was the flagship of the Cadiz expedition of 1625, and was
    broken up in 1636. Hawkins's ship, the "Victory," was launched
    in 1561; she sailed as the "Resolution" in Blake's fleet under
    the Commonwealth; was renamed the "Royal Prince" at the
    Restoration, and was burned in 1666 during Charles II's Dutch
    war. She was then over a hundred years old and still fit "to lie
    in the line of battle."

But few of Howard's fleet were of heavy tonnage. There were only two ships
of over 1000 tons; one of 900; two of 800; three of 600; five or six of
500, and all the rest less than 400 tons, many of them less than 100. But
though the English ships were smaller than the Spaniards, they were better
at sailing and manoeuvring, thoroughly handy craft, manned by sailors who
knew how to make them do their best, and who were quite at home in the
rough northern seas.

The main body of the fleet under Howard of Effingham assembled at Plymouth.
Detached squadrons under Lord Henry Seymour and Sir W. Winter watched the
Straits of Dover. Some of the captains thought Plymouth had been unwisely
chosen as the station of the main fleet, pointing out that a south or
south-west wind, which would be a fair wind for the Spaniards, would be a
very foul one for ships working out of the long inlet of Plymouth Harbour.

In June, Howard had news that the Armada was not only at sea, but far on
its voyage. Merchantmen ran for shelter to Plymouth, and told how they had
met at least two squadrons of large ships with great red crosses on their
foresails off Land's End, and in the entrance of the Channel. One ship had
been chased and fired on by a Spaniard. Then all trace of the enemy was
lost. There was no news of him in the Channel or on the Irish coasts. The
weather had been bad, and it was rightly conjectured that the squadrons
sighted off Land's End were only detachments of the Armada scattered by the
storm, and that the great fleet had put back to Spain, probably to Corunna.
This was soon confirmed by reports from France.

For a while there was an impression that the danger was over. Drake,
Hawkins, and other captains urged that now was the time to take the English
fleet to the Spanish coast and destroy the crippled and discouraged Armada
in its harbours. But the Queen and her Council hesitated to adopt so bold a
policy, and only a few ships were sent out to watch for the enemy in the
Bay of Biscay. These returned driven before a strong south wind, and then
fugitives from the Channel brought news that there was a crowd of ships off
the Lizard, and Howard in a short note reported that he had gone out to
engage them. The Armada had come in earnest at last.

After refitting at Corunna, Medina-Sidonia had sailed on 22 July with fine
weather and a fair south wind. Progress was not rapid, for the great
fleet's speed was that of its slowest ships. On the 26th, when the Armada
was well out to sea off the headlands of Brittany, the morning was dull and
cloudy, and towards noon the wind went round to the northward and increased
to half a gale, raising a heavy sea. The course was changed to the
eastward, and the ships were kept under shortened sail. The four galleys,
unable to face the rising storm, ran for shelter towards the French coast,
and never rejoined. They went southwards before the wind. One was wrecked
near Bayonne. The three others reached Spain.

All next day the gale blew heavily. The Armada, scattered over a wide
extent of sea, beat slowly to windward, working away from the dangerous
French coast. Many ships temporarily parted company. It looked as if there
would be another failure. But on Thursday the 28th (to quote the Spanish
admiral's diary) "the day dawned clear and bright, the wind and sea more
quiet than the day before. Forty ships were counted to be missing." The
admiral sent out three pinnaces to look for them, and next day, Friday, 29
July (19 July, O.S.), had news that all but one of them were with Pedro de
Valdes off the Lizard. This was the crowd of ships reported that same day
to Howard at Plymouth.

The missing ship, the "Santa Ana," the flagship of Biscay, rejoined later.
In the evening Medina-Sidonia saw the coast of England, and notes that it
was "said to be the Lizard." On the Saturday the admiral writes that "at
dawn the Armada was near with the land, so as we were seen therefrom,
whereupon they made fire and smokes."[9] The crew of a captured
fishing-boat later in the day told him they had seen the English fleet
coming out of Plymouth, and in the evening Medina-Sidonia's diary tells
that "many ships were seen, but because of the mist and rain we were unable
to count them."

    [9] Macaulay, writing his ballad of the Armada before the full
    English and Spanish records of the time were available,
    represents the news as being brought to Plymouth by a
    merchantman that had seen "Castille's black fleet lie heaving
    many a mile" out by the Channel Islands, where the Armada was
    never sighted. The "tall 'Pinta'" chased her for hours. There
    was no such ship in the Armada. Macaulay took the name of one of
    Columbus's caravels to adorn his ballad. Instead of the enemy
    seeing "fire and smokes" at dawn, he describes with more
    picturesque effect, how, in the  night--

    "From the deep the Spaniards saw
      Along each southern shire,
    Cape after cape in endless range,
      Those twinkling points of fire."

A council of war had been held on board his flagship, the "San Martin." The
wind was south-west, the very wind to carry the Armada into Plymouth, and
dead against the English fleet coming out. De Leyva proposed that the
opportunity should be taken to attack the English in Plymouth Sound. Once
in the narrow waters the Spaniards could run them aboard and have the
advantage of their superior numbers of fighting-men in a hand-to-hand
conflict on the decks. The soldier's advice was good, but the sailors were
against him. They argued that the fleet must enter Plymouth Sound in line
ahead at the risk of being destroyed in detail, as the shoals at the
entrance (those on which the breakwater of to-day stands) left only two
narrow channels. De Leyva's bold plan was rejected, and it was decided that
the Armada should proceed up Channel.

    [Illustration: VOYAGE OF THE ARMADA 1588]

Next day the fighting began. The wind had shifted to the north-west, a good
enough wind for working up Channel on the port tack. English contemporary
accounts say the Armada was formed in a half-moon, a centre and two wings
slightly thrown forward. Howard had as yet only brought part of his fleet
out of Plymouth, but though greatly outnumbered by the Spaniards, he had
his best ships and his most enterprising captains with him, and nothing
daunted by the grand array of the Armada, he began a series of harassing
attacks upon it.

It was Sunday morning, 31 July, according to the Spanish reckoning, the
21st according to the Old Style still used in England. It was a sunny day,
with just enough wind to help the nimble, seaworthy English ships in their
guerilla tactics. Howard's policy was to take full advantage of the three
factors that were on his side in the solution of the problem, better
seamanship in his crews, better gunnery, and handier ships. To close with
and grapple in the fashion of earlier naval battles would have been to risk
being crushed by superior numbers. His policy was to hang upon the flank or
rear of the Armada, close in and try to cripple one or more ships by
artillery fire, slip away if the enemy turned upon him, come on again as
they gave up the attempt to close, and he was ready all the time to swoop
down upon and capture any ship that might be detached from her consorts. At
the time arm-chair critics on shore found fault with what they considered
the half-hearted conduct of the admiral, and the Queen's Council inquired
why it was that none of the Spanish ships had been boarded. Sir Walter
Raleigh, who, as Professor Laughton notes, "must have often talked with
Howard, and Drake, and Hawkins, while the business was fresh in their
memories," thus explains and defends the admiral's conduct:--[10]

    "Certainly, he that will happily perform a fight at sea must
    believe that there is more belonging to a good man of war upon
    the waters than great daring, and must know that there is a
    great deal of difference between fighting loose or at large and
    grappling. To clap ships together without consideration belongs
    rather to a madman than to a man of war; for by such an ignorant
    bravery was Peter Strozzi lost at the Azores, when he fought
    against the Marquis of Santa Cruz. In like sort had the Lord
    Charles Howard, Admiral of England, been lost in the year 1588,
    if he had not been better advised than a great many malignant
    fools were, that found fault with his demeanour. The Spaniards
    had an army aboard them, and he had none; they had more ships
    than he had, and of higher building and charging; so that, had
    he entangled himself with those great and powerful vessels, he
    had greatly endangered this kingdom of England. For twenty men
    upon the defences are equal to a hundred that board and enter;
    whereas then, contrariwise, the Spaniards had a hundred for
    twenty of ours, to defend themselves withal. But our admiral
    knew his advantage and held it; which had he not done, he had
    not been worthy to have held his head."

    [10] "Historie of the World," edit. 1736, ii, 565, quoted by
    Professor Laughton, "State Papers relating to the Defeat of the
    Spanish Armada," vol. i, Introduction, p. lxvi.

The shift of the wind to the north-west had given the English the weather
gage. They could run down before it on the enemy, and beat back against it
in a way that was impossible for the clumsy galleons. Thus Howard and his
captains could choose their own position and range during the fighting. It
began by a pinnace, appropriately named the "Defiance," firing a shot at
the nearest Spaniards, a challenge to battle. Medina-Sidonia held his
course and took no notice of it. Howard's squadron now swept past his
left, and then engaged his rear ships. The admiral himself in "The Ark"
steered for De Leyva's tall galleon, the "Rata Coronada," perhaps taking
her to be the flagship of the whole Armada. The two ships were soon in
action, the English gunners firing at the Spaniard's great hull, and De
Leyva's men aiming at the masts and yards of the "Ark" in the hope of
bringing down her spars and sails, crippling and then boarding her. The
better gunnery was on the English side. They fired three shots to the
Spaniards' one, and every shot told on the huge target. And shots in the
hull meant much loss of life and limb in the crowded decks.

As Recalde with the rear division shortened sail, and turned to the help of
De Leyva, the "Ark" and her consorts bore away, only to return again to the
attack, bringing their guns into action against Recalde's huge galleon, the
"Santa Ana," and Pedro Valdes's ship, the "Rosario," "Capitana," or
flagship of the Biscayan armada. These two had become separated from the
main body with a few of her ships that now formed a kind of rearguard.
Frobisher in the "Triumph" and Hawkins in the "Victory" were prominent in
the attack. On the Spanish side several of the flagships joined in this
rearguard fight. The admirals showed a chivalrous disposition to come to
close quarters, and thus Howard was engaged with some of the largest and
best commanded ships of the enemy. Oquendo, the admiral of Guipuzcoa, in
his 1200-ton galleon, called, like that of Recalde, the "Santa Ana," had
soon to draw out of the fight, with his ship on fire and badly damaged, not
by the English cannon, but by a powder explosion on his main gundeck.[11]
One only wonders that such accidents were not frequent on both sides, for
the powder was ladled into the guns from open gunpowder kegs, and matches
were kept burning beside each gun.

    [11] "Her two decks and her poop were blown up: in which was the
    paymaster of this Armada with part of the King's
    Treasure."--Medina-Sidonia's narrative.

The "fighting loose and at large" went on for about three hours. Recalde's
ship was badly hulled, and also had her rigging cut up and one of her masts
damaged. Pedro Valdes's flagship, the "Rosario," was twice in collision
with a consort, with disastrous results. Her bowsprit was carried away, and
her foremast went over the side, the strain on the rigging bringing down
the main topmast with it. When the English drew off just before sundown,
Valdes was busy cutting away the wreckage. Medina-Sidonia shortened sail to
enable the rearward ships to rejoin, and then held his course up Channel.
Valdes sent a request to him that a ship should be detailed to tow the
disabled "Rosario," which otherwise could not keep up with the fleet. It is
generally stated that Medina-Sidonia took no notice of the message, and
abandoned Valdes to his fate, but in his narrative the Duke reports to King
Philip that he personally endeavoured to assist the disabled "Rosario," and
succeeded in removing the wounded from her, only failing to save her "owing
to the heavy sea and the darkness of the weather."

The English do not seem to have been troubled by the weather, and it cannot
have been very bad, or the wounded could not have been taken by boats from
Oquendo's ship. Evidently no great effort was made to succour the
"Rosario," and the ships detailed for the work did not like to lie in
isolation so near the English during the night. The impression in the
Armada certainly was that the gallant Valdes had been shamefully abandoned
by the admiral.

Before sunset a council of war had been held by Howard on board the "Ark."
It was decided to follow up the Armada through the short summer night. To
Drake in the "Revenge" was assigned the task of keeping touch with them and
guiding the pursuit by displaying a large stern lantern on his ship.

After dark Howard lost sight of the lantern, and then thought he had picked
it up again, but at daylight he found that he must have steered by a light
in the Armada, for as the day broke he lay with only a few ships perilously
near the main body of the enemy. Drake explained that in the darkness he
had thought that some ships of the enemy were turning back, and had
followed them. He had certainly failed in his important duty, and there was
a suspicion that the veteran buccaneer was really manoeuvring to make sure
of a prize, for at sunrise his ship, the "Revenge," lay near the crippled
"Rosario," which had been deserted by her consorts. He summoned Valdes to
surrender, and the Spaniard, with his ship helpless and menaced by the main
English fleet, hauled down his flag. The huge galleon was towed into
Weymouth, the first prize of the campaign.

Howard had drawn off from the enemy, helped to secure the "Rosario," and
rallied his own fleet, which had straggled during the night. This day,
Monday, 1 August (or 22 July, Old Style), there was no fighting, the Armada
working slowly up Channel, followed by the English out of cannon-range.
Medina-Sidonia formed a rearguard of forty galleons and three galleasses,
"in all 43 of the best ships of the Armada to confront the enemy, so that
there should be no hindrance to our joining with the Duke of Parma; and the
Duke with the rest of the Armada should go in the van, so that the whole
fleet was divided into only two squadrons, Don Alonso de Leyva taking the
rear under his charge." At 11 a.m. Oquendo's ship was reported to be
sinking. Her crew and "the King's money" were taken out of her, and the
"Santa Ana," largest but one of King Philip's galleons, disappeared under
the grey-green waves of the Channel. In two days the Armada had lost two of
its divisional flagships.

Howard had been reinforced during the day from the Western Channel ports.
After the free expenditure of powder and shot the previous day, his
magazines were half empty, and he husbanded his ammunition and followed up
the Spaniards out of fighting range, writing to Portsmouth to have all
ships there ready to join him. "We mean so to course the enemy," he added,
"that they shall have no leisure to land."

Seymour reported to the Council from Dover that the Armada was well up
Channel, and he feared they might seize the Isle of Wight. He asked for
"powder and shot" for his squadron--"whereof we have want in our fleet, and
which I have divers times given knowledge thereof." All the English
commanders felt this want of ammunition and supplies. The Queen's parsimony
was endangering the country.

On the Tuesday morning, 2 August (23 July, Old Style), the Armada was off
Portland. In the night the wind had gone round to the north-east, and as
the sun rose Howard's fleet was seen to be between the Spaniards and the
land and to leeward of them. Medina-Sidonia was no sailor, but his veteran
commanders saw the chance the shift of the wind had given them. The Armada
turned from its course up Channel, and on the starboard tack stood towards
the English fleet, hoping in Spanish phrase to catch the enemy "between the
sword and the wall."

It was an anxious moment for Howard and his captains when the Armada came
sweeping down on them, the galleasses in front pushing ahead with sail and
oar, behind the long lines of galleons with the wind in the painted sails
of their towering masts. It looked as if the Spaniards would soon be locked
in close fight with the English squadron, with every advantage on the side
of King Philip's floating castles. Led by the "Ark," the English ships
began to beat out to seaward with scant room for the manoeuvre. But just as
the close fight seemed inevitable and the tall "Regazona" had almost run
the "Ark" aboard, and while both ships were wrapped in a fog of powder
smoke, the wind suddenly shifted again, backing to the northward. Howard
was now working out well from the land, and every moment improved the
position.

There was a heavy cannonade on both sides, but as the range lengthened, the
advantage was with the better gunners of the English ships. The galleasses,
led by the great "Florencia," tried, with the help of their long oars, to
fall on the English rear, the galleons tacked and made one more attempt "to
come to hand-stroke," but, writes Sidonia, "all to little effect, the enemy
avoiding our attack by the lightness of their vessels." Good seamanship
told. Howard's ships were soon in a position to resume the "fighting loose"
tactics of the first battle, and the Spaniards knew that at this game they
were the losers. So the Armada bore away, resuming its course up Channel,
and the cannonade died down into dropping long shots, and then ceased, for
Howard had no ammunition to spare.

On the Wednesday the two fleets crept slowly up Channel, the English some
six miles astern of the Armada. Once they closed up, and a few shots were
exchanged with the galleasses in Recalde's rearguard. But Howard did not
want to fight. He was only "putting on a brag countenance," for he was
woefully short of ammunition, and writing urgently for much-needed
supplies. The wind had fallen, and in the afternoon some of the galleons
were drifting along, heeled over by shifting guns and stores to enable the
carpenters slung over the sides to plug shot-holes near the waterline.

On Thursday the fleets were off the Isle of Wight, and it was almost a
calm, with occasional flaws of wind to help them on their way. Welcome
reinforcements from Portsmouth joined Howard, and he received some
ammunition. Soon after sunrise there was a sharp fight. The "Santa Ana" and
a Portuguese galleon had fallen astern of the Armada, and Hawkins, in the
"Victory," supported by several other ships, attacked them. He had done
considerable damage to the "Santa Ana," and already reckoned her a prize,
when the ever-ready De Leyva, with the great "Rata" and the galleasses,
came to the rescue, and Hawkins reluctantly drew off. Howard, with the
"Ark," and his nephew, Lord Thomas Howard, in the "Golden Lion," had come
up to cover the retirement of Hawkins. They became involved in a fight with
the Spanish rearguard, and the "Ark" was damaged, according to one
account, by a collision, but it seems more likely that her steering gear
was temporarily put out of order by a chance shot. She fell behind her
consorts, and lowered boats to tow her out of action. For the moment the
wind was helping the Spaniards, and, led by Medina-Sidonia himself, several
galleons turned to attack the "Ark." But the wind freshened and changed
suddenly, and the English ships escaped from their dangerous position, and
so the fight ended.

On the Friday it was almost a dead calm. It was a bright summer day, and
from the hills of the Isle of Wight there was a wondrous spectacle of the
two fleets drifting idly over miles of sea, with the sails flapping against
the masts. On board the "Ark," now repaired and again fit for action, there
was a stately ceremony, the admiral, in the Queen's name, conferring
knighthood on Hawkins, Frobisher and several other of the captains who had
taken a leading part in the fighting. It was decided not to engage the
enemy again till the fleets had reached the Straits of Dover. Shortness of
ammunition was the reason for this decision.

Medina-Sidonia was anxious on the same score. He sent off a pilot-boat to
the Duke of Parma, asking him to send him a supply of "four, six, and
ten-pound shot," "because much of his ammunition had been wasted in the
several fights." The mention of such small weights shows with what light
artillery most of the galleons were armed. He also asked Parma to send
forty light craft to join the Armada, "to the end he might be able with
them to close with the enemy, because our ships being very heavy in
comparison with the lightness of those of the enemy, it was impossible to
come to hand-stroke with them."

At sunset the wind freshened, and at daybreak on Saturday the English were
seen following up closely, but there was no fighting, "the Armada sailing
with a fair wind and the rear close up, and in very good order." At 10 a.m.
the French coast near Boulogne was in sight. At four in the afternoon the
Armada was off Calais, and at five orders were given to anchor in Calais
roads, "seven leagues from Dunkirk," or between Calais and Gravelines. The
Spaniards noticed that some thirty-six ships had joined Howard's fleet,
which anchored about a league away. The new arrivals were Seymour's and
Winter's squadrons from Dover and the Downs.

Medina-Sidonia now believed that he had all but accomplished his task.
English writers say that the enemy were disappointed and discouraged when
they anchored off Calais, but there is no proof of this in contemporary
Spanish accounts. Medina-Sidonia thought it a success that he had got into
touch with the Viceroy of the Netherlands. He had sent off a messenger to
his head-quarters at Dunkirk, asking him to embark his army at once, and
declaring his readiness to convoy it across Channel.

But Medina-Sidonia was in a fool's paradise. His ignorance of war was the
ultimate source of his satisfaction with the outlook. Better men, like
Leyva and Recalde, realized that until the enemy's fleet was not merely
eluded, but effectively beaten, there could be no invasion of England. The
French Governor of Calais told the admiral that a change in the weather
might make his position very unpleasant, and Medina-Sidonia urged Parma to
act at once by telling him "that he could not tarry without endangering the
whole fleet."

But Parma was neither ready nor anxious for any prompt action. The fleet of
the Netherlanders, some fifty sail, was blockading most of the places along
the coast where he had prepared his flat-bottomed boats. He knew better
than to embark the force he had in hand at Dunkirk till Howard's fleet was
disposed of.

But Howard was determined not to leave the Armada undisturbed in its
exposed anchorage. He had no sooner been joined by Seymour and Winter than
he hurriedly prepared eight small craft in his own fleet to be used as
fireships, by turning over to them all the inflammable lumber he could
collect from the other vessels, and removing their guns, ammunition, and
stores.

Medina-Sidonia had spent the Sunday writing pressing letters to the Prince
of Parma, and obtaining fresh water and other supplies from Calais. When
the long summer twilight ended the Armada was still riding at anchor, the
irregular lines of dark hulls stretching for miles, with lanterns
flickering at yard-arm or poop, and guard-boats rowing about the outskirts
of the floating city. At midnight there was a cry of alarm passed from ship
to ship. The tide was running strong from the westward through the Straits,
and sweeping along on its current came eight dark masses, each defined in
the night by a red flicker of fire that rose higher and spread wider as the
English fireships came nearer and nearer.

Three years before, when Parma was besieging Antwerp, the revolted
Netherlanders had attacked the bridge he had thrown across the river below
the city by sending drifting down upon it a ship laden with powder barrels,
with a burning fuse and powder-train to fire them, and blocks of stone
heaped over them to increase the force of the explosion. The awful
destruction caused by this floating volcano made the Spaniards long after
fearful of the attempt being repeated elsewhere, and Medina-Sidonia tells
in his diary that when Howard's fireships came drifting through the summer
night off Gravelines, he and his captains thought that they were likely to
be _maquinas de minas_, "contrivances of mines," like the terrible floating
mine of Antwerp. With this suspicion, all idea of grappling them was
abandoned. As they drew nearer there was something like a panic in the
Armada. The admiral signalled to weigh anchor and make sail, but few of the
ships waited for the tedious operation of getting the heavy anchors up to
the cat-heads by slow hand labour on windlass or capstan. In most of the
galleons the carpenter's broad axe hacked through the cables and left the
anchors deep in Channel mud. Sails were hurriedly shaken out, and like a
startled flock of sheep the crowd of ships hurried away to the eastward
along the coast in wild disorder. Moncada, the admiral of the galleasses,
in the "San Lorenzo," collided with the galleon "San Juan de Sicilia," and
the great galleass dismasted and with shattered oars drifted on a back eddy
of the tide towards Calais bar. The fireships went aground here and there,
and burned harmlessly to the water's edge. Medina-Sidonia, seeing the
danger was over, fired a gun as a signal for the fleet to anchor, but most
of the ships had cut their cables, and had no spare anchors available on
deck, and they drifted along the coast, some of them as far as Dunkirk. The
sunrise on the Monday morning showed the great fleet widely scattered, only
a few of the best ships being with the admiral. Moncada's flagship had been
left by the falling tide hard aground on Calais bar.

The English attacked the stranded galleass in pinnaces and boats, Howard
with some of the larger ships standing by "to give the men comfort and
countenance." Some of the Spaniards escaped to the shore. The rest, headed
by Moncada, made a brave stand against the boarders, who swarmed up her
sides, led by one Richard Tomson, of Ramsgate. Moncada was killed, and the
ship taken. The English pillaged her, but the hulk was abandoned and seized
later by the French Governor of Calais.

During this fight on the bar Medina-Sidonia had reassembled about half his
fleet, which he formed in a great crescent off Gravelines. The wind was
from the west, and numbers of galleons were away to leeward. Some of them
were in dire peril of driving ashore. Howard saw his advantage, and the
whole English fleet bore down on the Spanish crescent. It was the nearest
thing to a pitched battle in the whole Armada campaign. The English came on
with wind and tide helping them and, with the confidence that was the
outcome of their growing sense of superiority, ventured to close quarters
with the tall Spaniards, while taking care never to give them the chance of
grappling and boarding. As the fight went on the Spaniards worked slowly
towards the north-east edging off the land, for their deep draught and the
fate of Moncada's galleass made them anxious about the Flanders shoals.

Howard and Hawkins led the English centre, Drake and Frobisher the right,
Seymour and Winter the left. Not a shot was fired till they were at musket
range, and then the English guns roared out in a well-sustained cannonade
in which every shot told. It was the first of modern naval battles, the
fights decided by gunfire, not by hand-to-hand conflict on the decks. The
Spaniards answered back with their lighter and more slowly served
artillery, and with a crackle of musketry fire. Before noon the Spanish
cannon were mostly silent, for sheer lack of ammunition, and the galleons
defended themselves only with musket and arquebuse, while striving in vain
to close and grapple with their enemies. Spars and rigging were badly cut
up, shots between wind and water were letting the sea into the huge hulls.
Just as the English thought the "San Juan de Sicilia" had been put out of
action and would be their prize, the galleon heeled over and went to the
bottom. Soon the fight was only sustained by the rearward ships, the rest
trying to extricate themselves from the mêlée, not for any lack of courage,
but because all their ammunition was gone, their decks were encumbered with
wreckage from aloft, and the men were toiling at the pumps to keep them
afloat.

The English at last drew off from their persistent attacks on the rearward
ships, only because after a hot cannonade of seven hours they were running
short of ammunition; so they used the advantage of position and better
seamanship and seaworthiness to break off from the battle, Howard hanging
out the "council flag" from the "Ark," as a signal to his leading captains
to come on board and discuss the situation with him.

Medina-Sidonia, in his diary of the day, says nothing of the sinking of the
"San Juan de Sicilia," but he goes on to tell how the "San Felipe" and the
"San Mateo" were seen drifting helplessly towards the shoals of the Zealand
coast; how efforts were made to take off their crews, but these failed,
"for the sea was so high that nothing could be done, nor could the damage
be repaired which the flagship had suffered from great shot, whereby she
was in danger of being lost." This talk of rough seas shows that, brave
though he undoubtedly was in battle, the Duke had the landsman's
exaggerated alarm at the choppy waves of the Channel, and regarded as a
gale and a storm what a sailor would call fine weather with a bit of a
breeze. None of the English commanders thought that there was a high sea
that summer afternoon.

In the night it blew somewhat harder from the north-west, and as the early
dawn came it was seen that the Armada was in a perilous position. The
galleons, many of them with badly damaged spars and rigging, many more
without anchors at their cat-heads ready to bring them up, were being
forced nearer and nearer to the low sandy shores that were marked only by
the white foam of the breakers, and the leadsmen were giving warning that
the keels were already dangerously near to the shelving bottom along the
outlying fringe of shoals. The English ships, with plenty of sea-room,
looked on without closing in to attack. Little ammunition was left, and
Howard and his captains were not going to waste good powder and shot on
ships that seemed doomed to hopeless destruction. Some of Medina-Sidonia's
captains proposed that he should show the white flag and obtain the help of
the English to tow the endangered vessels off the lee shore, but he refused
to hear of such base surrender, and told them he was prepared for death. He
tells in his journal of the day how a sudden change of the wind saved the
fleet:--

    "The enemy held aloof, seeing that our Armada must be lost. The
    pilots on board the flagship--men of experience of that
    coast--told the Duke at this time that it was not possible to
    save a single ship of the Armada; for that with the wind as it
    was in the north-west, they must all needs go on the banks of
    Zeeland; that God alone could prevent it. Being in this peril
    and without any remedy, God was pleased to change the wind to
    west-south-west, whereby the fleet stood towards the north
    without hurt to any ship."

The deliverance was not quite as complete as the Duke supposed. Far astern
the great "San Mateo" had grounded on the shoals "between Ostend and
Sluys." Next day three English ships came to take her, but the Spaniards,
notwithstanding their helpless plight, made a desperate fight for two hours
before they surrendered. Don Diego de Pimentel was in command, with several
nobles among his officers and volunteers. These were spared, for the sake
of the ransom they might fetch, but no quarter was given to the common
crowd. William Borlas, one of the captors, wrote to Secretary Walsingham:
"I was the means that the best sort were saved; and the rest were cast
overboard and slain at the entry."[12] These Elizabethan sea-fighters were
as cruel as they were brave.

    [12] "Entry" = boarding the ship.

Other ships drifted ashore or found their way into ports along the low
coast to the north-eastward, but all these were taken by Prince Maurice of
Nassau, admiral of the United Provinces, who with some thirty sail gleaned
up the wreckage of the Armada, though he had taken no part in the fighting,
only blockading Parma's flotillas as his share of the service.

Meanwhile, saved by the shift of the wind, the main body of the Armada was
speeding into the North Sea, led by Medina-Sidonia in the leaky "San
Martin." Howard and the English fleet held a parallel course, shepherding
the enemy without closing in to fire a single shot. Howard was again, to
use the phrase of the time, "putting on a brag countenance," for he was in
no condition for serious fighting, even against such crippled opponents.
The magazines of the English fleet were all but empty, its "cannon,
demi-cannon, sakers, and falconets" doomed to useless silence, food and
water short in supply, and much sickness among the tired crews, who were
complaining that they were badly fed and that the beer was undrinkable.

In the evening Medina-Sidonia held a council of war on board the "San
Martin." Soldiers and sailors, veterans of many wars, and the chief pilots
of the fleet sat round his cabin table, and there was anxious debate. No
one could say how long it would be before Parma's army was ready;
ammunition and provisions were short, men falling sick, ships badly
damaged, though only a dozen had been actually lost. The wind was
increasing from the south-south-west, and the pilots urged that the best
course was to run up the North Sea, round the north of Scotland, reach the
open Atlantic, and so return to Spain without further fighting.

Some of the best of the officers, men who had been throughout in the thick
of the fighting, protested against this course, to which their admiral was
evidently inclined. Recalde, Oquendo, and Leyva spoke for the brave
minority. Most of the great fleet was still safe, and Recalde begged the
Duke to lie off and on till the wind blew fair for the Channel again, and
then risk another fight. Leyva supported him, and said that though his own
ship, the "Rata Coronada," had been sorely battered, was leaking like a
sieve, and had only thirty cartridges in her magazine, he would rather take
her into action again and sink fighting than see the Armada run away
northward like a pack of cowards. But what seemed the easiest course
prevailed. Medina-Sidonia saved his conscience as a soldier by summing up
the resolution of the council as a decision to sail northward, but turn
back and fight if the wind and weather became favourable.

So in the following days the Armada sped northward before the south-west
wind, which sometimes blew hard and raised a sea that increased the
distress of the Spaniards. Howard followed with the English fleet, just
keeping the Armada in sight. If the Spanish admiral shortened sail to
collect his rearward stragglers, Howard followed his example, making no
attempt even to close and cut off the nearest ships. He was still
reluctantly compelled by empty magazines and half-empty lockers to be
content merely "to put on a brag countenance." His shortness of supplies
forced him at last to lose touch of the enemy. Off the Firth of Forth he
abandoned the pursuit.

When the English ships returned to their ports the captains were not at all
sure what had become of the Armada. Some thought it might have gone to the
harbours of Norway and Denmark to winter and refit there, and renew the
attempt next spring. One sees in the letters of Secretary Walsingham the
uncertainty that prevailed among the Queen's counsellors, and some
disappointment that the victory was not more complete, though this was the
result of himself and his colleagues leaving Howard so ill supplied. On the
same day (8 August, Old Style) Walsingham writes to Lord Burghley: "It is
hard now to resolve what advice to give Her Majesty for disarming, until it
shall be known what is become of the Spanish fleet"; and to the Lord
Chancellor: "I am sorry the Lord Admiral was forced to leave the
prosecution of the enemy through the wants he sustained. Our half-doings
doth breed dishonour and leaveth the disease uncured."

Meanwhile, the Armada had held its course to the northward, sometimes
sighted far off from a Scottish headland. On 20 August (10th, Old Style),
twelve days after the battle off Gravelines, it was passing between the
Orkneys and Shetlands, heading for the Atlantic, helped by a change of wind
which now blew from the east, filling the great sails, but chilling the
southern sailors and soldiers to the bone. Though it was summer, the cold
was like that of winter, and the bitter weather grew even worse as the
galleons sailed on into the North Atlantic. The great ships straggled for
miles over grey foam-flecked seas, under dull cloud-packed skies that sent
down showers of sleety rain. Men huddled below in the crowded gundecks, and
in fore and stern castles, and there were days when only the pilots kept
the deck, while gangs of men took their turn at the never-resting pumps.
There were semi-starvation and fever in every ship. The chaplains were busy
giving the last consolations of religion to dying men, and each day read
the burial service over a row of canvas-shrouded dead, and "committed them
to the deep."

The Armada no longer held together. Small groups formed haphazard
squadrons, keeping each other company, but many ships were isolated and
ploughed their way alone over the dreary sea. Many, despite hard work at
the pumps, settled lower and lower in the water each day, and at last sank
in the ocean, their fate unknown and unrecorded till, as the months went by
and there was no news of them, they were counted as hopelessly lost. Of
others the fate is known.

In his sailing instructions Medina-Sidonia had been warned that he should
take "great heed lest you fall upon the island of Ireland for fear of the
harm that may happen to you on that coast," where, as a sixteenth-century
sailor wrote, "the ocean sea raiseth such a billow as can hardly be endured
by the greatest ships." There was heavy weather in the "ocean sea" that
August and September, but even so the galleons that steered well to the
westward before shaping their course for Spain, and kept plenty of sea-room
by never sighting the "island of Ireland," succeeded in getting home,
except where they were already so badly damaged and so leaky that they
could not keep afloat. But along the coasts of Scotland and Ireland there
was a succession of disasters for those who clung to, or were driven into,
the landward waters.

The first mishap occurred when the Armada was rounding the north of
Scotland. The "Gran Grifon," the flagship of Juan Lopez de Medina, admiral
of the _urcas_ or storeships, drove on the rocks of Fair Isle, the solitary
cliff-bound island in the channel between the Orkneys and Shetlands. Here
such few as escaped the waves lived for some six weeks in "great hunger
and cold." Then a fishing-boat took them to Anstruther in Fifeshire, where
they surrendered to the bailies. Lopez de Medina was among this handful of
survivors. Melville, the Presbyterian minister of Anstruther, describes him
as "a very reverend man of big stature and grave and stout countenance,
grey haired and very humble like," as he asked quarter for himself and his
comrades in misfortune.[13]

    [13] In some histories of the Armada and in more than one
    standard book of reference Lopez de Medina is confused with
    Medina-Sidonia, and it is stated that it was the flagship of the
    whole Armada that was lost on Fair Isle.

Other distressed ships fled from the Atlantic storms for shelter inside the
Hebrides. Three entered the Sound of Mull, where one was wrecked near
Lochaline, and a second off Salen. The third, the great galleass
"Florencia," went down in Tobermory Bay. The local fishermen still tell the
traditional story of her arrival and shipwreck. She lies in deep water,
half-buried in the sand of the bottom, and enterprising divers are now busy
with modern scientific appliances trying to recover the "pieces of eight"
in her war-chest, and the silver plate which, according to a dispatch of
Walsingham's, was the dinner-service of the "Grandee of Spain" who
commanded her.

But it was on the shores of the "island of Ireland" that the most tragic
disasters of the Armada took place. Its wrecks strewed the north and west
coasts. Fitzwilliam, the "Deputy" or the Viceroy, in Dublin, and Bingham,
the Governor of Connaught, had taken precautions to prevent the Spaniards
finding shelter, water, and food in the ports by reinforcing the western
garrisons. Bingham feared the Irish might be friendly to the Spaniards, and
industriously spread among the coast population tales that if they landed
the foreigners would massacre the old and carry the young away into
slavery. The people of the ports, who had long traded with Spain, knew
better, but some of the rude fisher-folk of the west coast perhaps believed
the slander. Where shipwrecked crews fell into the hands of Bingham's men
no mercy was shown them. He marched four hundred prisoners into Galway, and
his troops massacred them in cold blood, and then he reported that, "having
made a clean despatch of them both within the town, and in the country
abroad, he rested Sunday all day, giving praise and thanks to God for Her
Majesty's most happy success in that action, and our deliverance from such
dangerous enemies."

One of the _urcas_ came into Tralee Bay in an almost sinking condition,
with her crew reduced to twenty-three men, ill and half starved and unable
to work the ship. Sir Edward Denny, the Governor of Tralee Castle, was
absent. The Spaniards surrendered to Lady Denny and her garrison. The men
begged for their lives, and some said they had friends in Waterford who
would pay ransom for them; but the lady had them all put to the sword,
because "there was no safe keeping for them."

In all, some twenty-five galleons were dashed to pieces under the giant
cliff walls of the Irish coast, or on outlying skerries and rocky
headlands. In a few cases the Irish coast folk helped the survivors, but
too often they were as cruel as the English, and killed and plundered them.
Sir George Carew wrote to the Queen, rejoicing that there was now "blood
between the Irish and the King of Spain." The Government troops marched
along the coasts hunting for Spaniards. The Lord-Deputy Fitzwilliam
accompanied one of these parties, and told how in Sligo Bay he saw miles of
wreckage, "timber enough to build five of the greatest ships that ever I
saw, besides mighty great boats, cables, and other cordage, and some such
masts for bigness and length, as I never saw any two could make the like."
Fitzwilliam fairly revelled in the destruction of the Spaniards. He wrote
to Secretary Walsingham: "Since it hath pleased God by His hand upon the
rocks to drown the greater and better sort of them, I will, with His
favour, be His soldier for the despatching of those rags which yet
remain." At last he got tired of this miserable kind of "soldiering," and
proclaimed mercy for all Spaniards in Ireland who surrendered before 15
January, 1589. Numbers of ragged and starving men surrendered. Others had
already been smuggled over to Scotland, still an independent country, where
they were well treated and given transport to Spain.

The gallant Alonso de Leyva, after escaping from the wreck of his good ship
the "Rata Coronada" in Blacksod Bay, was steering for Scotland in one of
the galleasses that had rescued him and his comrades, when the ship was
driven by a storm against the wild cliffs of Dunluce Castle, near the
Giant's Causeway. The galleass was shattered to matchwood, and Leyva
perished with all on board save five who swam ashore.

In the last days of September the surviving ships of the Armada came
straggling into the northern ports of Spain with starving, fever-stricken
crews. Medina-Sidonia had kept some fifty sail together till 18 September.
He had resigned all active duties of command to his lieutenants, Flores and
Bobadilla, for he was ill and broken in spirit. His hair had whitened, and
he looked like an old man, as he sat all day in the "great cabin" of the
"San Martin," with his head in his hands. A Biscay gale scattered the
remnant of the Armada, and on 21 September the "San Martin" appeared alone
off Santander. The wind had fallen; her sails hung loose from the yards,
and the long swell that followed the gale was driving the ship towards the
rocks outside the port. Some boats went out and towed her in. Most of the
crew were sick. Nearly two hundred had been buried at sea.

Recalde and Oquendo brought their ships home, but landed broken with the
hardships of the terrible voyage, and only survived it a few weeks. Every
ship that arrived told of the many buried at sea, and landed scores of
dying and fever and scurvy-stricken men, so that all the northern ports
were like great hospitals. When the last galleon had struggled into
harbour, fifty-five great ships were still missing. The best of the leaders
were dead. Not more than a third of the sailors and soldiers survived. It
was a disaster from which Spain as a naval power never really recovered.
For fifty years to come the Spanish infantry still upheld their claim to be
invincible on the battlefield, but the tall galleon had ceased to be the
mistress of the seas.

The campaign of the Armada is remarkable not only for inaugurating the
modern period of naval war, the era of the sail and the gun, but also
because, though it ended in disaster for one side and success for the
other, there was from first to last in the long series of engagements in
the narrow seas no battle "fought to a finish." In all the fighting the
English showed that they had grasped the essential ideas of the new
warfare, and proved themselves better sailors and better gunners, but the
number of the ships they took or destroyed was insignificant. Howard was so
crippled by parsimonious mismanagement on the part of his Government that
he had to be content with "half-doings," instead of decisive results. But
there was worse mismanagement on the Spanish side, and this led first to
failure, then to disaster.

The story of the Armada is full of useful lessons, but for England its
message for all time is that her true defence against invasion lies not in
armies, but upon the sea. The Elizabethan captains knew well that if once
Parma's veterans landed in Kent or Essex, the half-trained levies gathered
by the beacon fires could do little to stop their onward march. So they
took care to make the narrow seas an impassable barrier to the enemy by
harrying the covering fleet and making it hopeless for Parma even to think
of sending his transports to sea. The lesson is worth remembering even
now.



    CHAPTER VII

    THE BATTLE OFF THE GUNFLEET

    1666


The decline of Spain as a great power was largely due to the unsuccessful
attempt to coerce the Dutch people. Out of the struggle arose the Republic
of the United Provinces, and Holland, won from the sea, and almost an
amphibious state, became in a few years a great naval power. A hardy race
of sailors was trained in the fisheries of the North Sea. Settlements were
established in the Far East, and fleets of Dutch East Indiamen broke the
Spanish monopoly of Asiatic trade. It was to obtain a depot and
watering-place for their East Indiamen that the Dutch founded Cape Town,
with far-reaching results on the future development of South Africa.

A Dutch fleet had assisted in defeating the Armada, but the rise of this
naval power on the eastern shores of the narrow seas made rivalry with
England on the waters inevitable. In the seventeenth century there was a
series of hard-fought naval wars between England and the United Provinces.

Under the two first Stuart Kings of England there were quarrels with the
Dutch that nearly led to war. The Dutch colonists and traders in the Far
Eastern seas had used high-handed measures to prevent English competition.
Nearer home there were disputes as to the right claimed by the King's ships
to make any foreign ship lower her flag and salute the English ensign. But
it was not till the days of the Commonwealth that the first war broke out.
It was a conflict between two republics. Its immediate cause was Cromwell's
Navigation Act, which deprived the Dutch of a considerable part of their
carrying trade. The first fight took place before the formal declaration of
war, and was the result of a Dutch captain refusing the customary salute to
a Commonwealth ship.

In this, as in the later conflicts with Holland, while England was still
able to live on its own products, the Dutch were in the position in which
we are now, for the command of the sea was vital to their daily life. Their
whole wealth depended on their great fishing fleets in the North Sea; their
Indiamen which brought the produce of the East to Northern Europe through
the Straits of Dover; and the carrying trade, in which they were the
carriers of the goods of all Central Europe, which the Rhine and their
canals brought into their ports. The mere prolongation of a naval war meant
endless loss to the merchants and shipowners of Holland.

The development of ocean-borne commerce had led to great improvements in
shipbuilding in the three-quarters of a century since the days of the
Armada, and the fleets that met in the Channel and the North Sea during
Cromwell's Dutch war were far more powerful than those of Medina-Sidonia
and Howard. The nucleus of the English fleet had been formed by the
permanent establishment created by Charles I, but the ships for which he
had levied the "Ship Money" were used against him in the Civil War, for the
seafaring population and the people of the ports mostly sided with the
Parliament. The operations against Rupert in the Mediterranean, the war
with the Algerines, and the expeditions to the West Indies had helped to
form for the Commonwealth a body of experienced officers and seamen, and in
Blake, Cromwell had at least one admiral of the first rank. The fleets on
both sides sometimes numbered as many as a hundred sail. The guns mounted
in broadside tiers had come to be recognized as the weapons that must
decide a sea-fight, and in this first Dutch war we see on both sides
attempts to use tactical formations that would give the best scope to gun
power.

Though a battle was always likely to develop into an irregular mêlée, in
which the boldest exchanged broadsides and the shirkers hung back, there
were attempts to fight in regular lines, the ships giving each other mutual
support. Want of traditional experience, marked differences in the speed
and manoeuvring power of ships, and the rudimentary character of the
signalling, made it difficult to keep the line, but it was early recognized
as an ideal to be aimed at.

The old oar-driven galleys, with their heavy batteries in the bows and all
the guns pointing ahead, went into battle, as at Lepanto, in line abreast.
The broadside battleship would thus have her guns pointed at her consorts.
The line abreast was used only to bear down on the enemy. The fighting
formation was the line ahead. This was adopted at first as a fleet running
down from windward closed upon its enemy. Unless they were actually running
away, the other side would be sailing in line ahead with the wind abeam. It
was soon realized that in this formation an admiral had his fleet under
better control, and gradually the normal formation for fleets became line
ahead, and hostile fleets either fought running on parallel courses on the
same tack, or passed and repassed each other on opposite tacks. But this
was the result of a long evolution, and the typically formal battles fought
out by rule in the "close-hauled line ahead" belong to the eighteenth
century.

The first Dutch war ended with Blake's victory off the Kentish Knock. The
second war, in the days of Charles II, is best remembered in England in
connection with a national disgrace, the Dutch raid on Chatham and the
blockade of the Thames. This disaster was the result of a piece of almost
incomprehensible folly on the part of the King and his advisers. But it
came shortly after a great naval victory, the story of which is by most
forgotten. It is worth telling again, if only to show that the disaster
in the Thames was not the fault of the British navy, and that even under
Charles II there were glorious days for our fleet. It is also interesting
as a typical naval battle of the seventeenth century.

    [Illustration: THE "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS," LAUNCHED 1637.
    A TYPICAL WARSHIP OF THE 17TH CENTURY
    _After the painting by Vandervelde_]

Hostilities began in 1664 without a formal declaration of war, the conflict
opening with aggressions and reprisals in the colonial sphere of action.
English fleets seized Dutch trading ships on the African coast and Dutch
islands in the West Indies. In North America the Dutch settlement of New
Amsterdam, at the mouth of the Hudson, was occupied, annexed, and renamed
New York in honour of His Highness the Duke of York, the brother of the
King. England drifted into the war as the result of conflicts in the
colonies, and was in a state of dangerous unreadiness for the struggle on
the sea. "God knows how little fit we are for it," wrote Pepys, who as
Secretary of the Navy knew the whole position. There was the utmost
difficulty in obtaining men for the ships that were being got ready for
sea. The pressgangs brought in poor creatures whom the captains described
as a useless rabble. There were hundreds of desertions. Happily the Dutch
preparations were also backward, and England had thus some breathing time.

In June the two fleets, under the Duke of York and the Dutch Admiral Opdam,
each numbering nearly a hundred sail, were in the North Sea, and on the 3rd
they met in battle, some thirty-five miles south-east of Lowestoft. Opdam
was driven back to the Texel with the loss of several ships. The Duke of
York had behaved with courage and spirit during the fight, and was covered
with splashes of the blood of officers killed beside him on the
quarter-deck, where he himself was slightly wounded. But he showed
slackness and irresolution in the pursuit, and failed to reap the full
results of his victory.

During the rest of the summer there were more or less successful
enterprises against Dutch trade; but the plague in London, in the ports
and dockyards, and even in the fleet itself, seriously interfered with the
prosecution of the war. As usual at that time, the winter months were
practically a time of truce. In the spring of 1666 both parties were ready
for another North Sea campaign.

The Dutch had fitted out more than eighty ships under Admiral De Ruyter,
and the English fleet was put under the command of Monk, Duke of Albemarle,
with Prince Rupert, the fiery cavalry leader of the Civil War, as his
right-hand man. Both were soldiers who had had some sea experience. It was
still the time when it was an ordinary event for a courtier to command a
battleship, with a sailor to translate his orders into sea language and
look after the navigation for him. Pepys tells how he heard Monk's wife,
the Duchess of Albemarle (perhaps echoing what her husband had said in
private), "cry mightily out against the having of gentlemen captains, with
feathers and ribbons, and wish the King would send her husband to sea with
the old plain sea-captains that he served with formerly."

Monk and Rupert went to join the fleet that was assembling at the Nore on
23 April. It was not ready for sea till near the end of May. On 1 June,
when part of the fleet was detached under Rupert to watch the Straits of
Dover, Monk met De Ruyter (who was in superior force) off the Essex coast
and began a battle that lasted for four days. The news of the first day's
fighting set London rejoicing, but soon there came disappointing reports of
failure.

The four days' battle had ended in defeat. Outnumbered as he was, Monk had
made a splendid fight on the first two days, hoping from hour to hour for
Rupert's arrival. On the third day, the Sunday, he had to retire towards
the Thames, covering his retreat with a rearguard of sixteen of his best
ships. Several of these touched on the Galloper Sand, and Ascue's ship, the
"Prince," ran hard aground on the bank. Ascue struck his flag, and the
Dutch burned his ship, abandoning an effort to carry her off because at
last Rupert's squadron was in sight. On the fourth day a confused mêlée of
hard fighting off the Thames mouth ended in Monk retiring into the river.
He had lost twenty ships and some three thousand men; but he had fought so
well that the Dutch bought their victory dearly, and, after attempting for
a few days to blockade the Thames, had to return to Holland to refit and
make good their losses.

Amid the general discouragement at the failure of the fleet there was an
outburst of mutual accusations of misconduct among the captains, and even
some bitter attacks on Monk, the "General at Sea." Fault was found with the
dividing of the fleet on a false report; with Monk's haste to attack the
Dutch when he was short of ships; and, finally, with his retreat before the
enemy into the Thames. Monk, however, did not bear himself like a beaten
man. He spoke of the long battle as, at the worst, an indecisive
engagement, and said he had given the Dutch as many hard knocks as he had
taken, and now knew how to defeat them. He had sufficient influence at
Court to be able to retain his command, and so could look forward to trying
his fortune again before long.

The work of refitting the fleet was taken in hand. At any cost, the danger
of a blockade of the Thames must be averted, so the merchants of the City
combined to help with money, and even some of the rich men of the Court
loosed their purse-strings. A fine three-decker launched at Chatham was
named the "Loyal London," in compliment to the exertions of the City, and
work was pushed on so rapidly that she was soon ready for commission. Many
of the ships had been shorthanded in the four days' battle. The pressgangs
were now set vigorously to work, and, though there was a constant drain of
desertions to contend with, the numbers on board the ships at Chatham and
in the lower Thames rose day by day.

At the end of June a new impetus was given to the preparations by the
reappearance of De Ruyter's fleet. He had repaired damages more quickly
than his opponents, and put to sea to blockade the Thames. It was on 29
June that the fishermen of Margate and Broadstairs saw a great crowd of
strange sail off the North Foreland. It was the Dutch fleet of over a
hundred ships, great and small, and commanded by De Ruyter, Van Tromp, and
Jan Evertszoon. Some of the ships stood in close to Margate. The militia of
the county was called out, and the alarm spread along the southern coast,
for the rumour ran that the Dutch had come to cover a French invasion. But
no Frenchmen came, and the Hollanders themselves did not send even a boat's
crew ashore. They were quite satisfied with stopping all the trade of
London by their mere presence off the Thames, and they had the chance too
of picking up homecoming ships that had not been duly warned. So, favoured
by fine summer weather, the Dutch admirals cruised backwards and forwards
in leisurely fashion between the North Foreland and the outer end of the
Gunfleet Sand. They watched with their light craft all the channels that
traverse the tangle of sandbanks and shallows in the estuary of the river;
but their main fleet was generally somewhere off the Essex coast, for on
that side of the estuary lay the channels then best known and most used,
the Swin and the Black Deep.

The fleet which thus for some three weeks held possession of the very
gateway to the Thames numbered seventy-three line-of-battle ships,
twenty-six frigates, and some twenty light craft fitted to be used as
fireships. By great exertions Monk and Rupert had got together in the lower
Thames eighty-seven fighting-ships and a squadron of fireships. Some
fifteen more frigates might have been added to the fleet, but it was
thought better to leave them unmanned, and use their crews for
strengthening those of the larger ships. The fleet assembled at the Nore
had full complements this time. The men were eager to meet the enemy, and
numbers of young gallants from the Court had volunteered for service as
supernumeraries. The "Loyal London," fresh from the builders' hands at
Chatham yard, with her crew of eight hundred men, was said to be "the best
ship in the world, large or small." Pepys noted that it was the talk of
competent men that this was "much the best fleet, for force of guns,
greatness and number of ships, that ever England did see." England had
certainly need of a good fleet, for she never met on the sea a more capable
and determined enemy than the Dutch. In fact, the republic of the United
Provinces was perhaps the only state that ever contended on anything like
equal terms against England for the command of the sea.

When at last Monk and Rupert were ready to sail they had to wait for a
favourable wind and tide, and, with the help of their pilots, solve a
somewhat delicate problem. This problem was something like that which a
general on land has to solve when it is a question of moving a large force
through defiles of which the other end is watched by the enemy's main army.
But it had special complications that the soldier would not have to take
into account.

Monk's fleet sailing in line ahead, the only order in which it could
traverse the narrow channels, would cover about nine miles from van to
rear. There were then no accurate charts of the Thames estuary such as we
now possess, and the pilots of the time believed the possible ways out for
large ships to be fewer and more restricted than we know them to be at
present. They advised Monk to take his fleet out from the Nore through the
Warp and the West Swin, which form a continuous, fairly deep channel on the
Essex side of the estuary along the outer edge of the Maplin Sands. At the
outer end of the Maplins a long, narrow sandbank, known as the Middle
Ground, with only a few feet of water over it at low tide, divides the
channel into two parallel branches, the East Swin and the Middle Deep. At
the end of the Middle Ground these two channels and a third (known as the
Barrow Deep) unite to form the broad King's Channel (also known as the East
Swin), where there is plenty of sea room, and presently this again expands
into the open sea.

In those old days of sailing-ships a fleet working its way out of the
narrower channels inside the Middle Deep in presence of an enemy would
court destruction if the whole of its fighting strength could not be
brought out into the wide waters of the King's Channel on a single tide. If
only part of it got out before the tide turned, the van might be destroyed
during the long hours of waiting for the rearward ships to get out and join
in.

On 19 July Monk brought his ships out to the Middle Ground, beside which
they remained anchored in a long line till the 21st, waiting for a
favourable wind and a full tide. The ebb flows fast through the narrows
from west to east, and weighing shortly before high water on the 22nd, the
fleet spread all sail to a fair wind, and led by the "Royal Charles" with
Monk and Rupert on her quarter-deck, the long procession of heavy
battleships worked out into King's Channel, soon helped by a racing ebb.
Those who saw the sight said that no finer spectacle had ever been
witnessed on the seas, and certainly England had never till then challenged
battle with a more powerful fleet. Officers and men were in high spirits
and confident of victory, Rupert as eager as when in his younger days he
led his wild charges of cavaliers, Monk impatient with prudent counsels
urged by timid pilots, and using sharp, strong language to encourage them
to take risks which he as a landsman did not appreciate. Not a ship touched
ground. Some Dutch ships were sighted on the look-out off the edge of the
Gunfleet, but they drew off when Captain Elliot, in the "Revenge," led a
squadron of nine ships-of-the-line and some fireships to attack them. De
Ruyter, who had been waiting with his main fleet off the Naze, stood out to
sea, having no intention of beginning a battle till there were long hours
of daylight before him. As the sun went down the English fleet anchored in
the seaward opening of the King's Channel, with the "Royal Charles" near
the buoy that marked the outer end of the Gunfleet Sands, and on both
sides men turned in with the expectation of hard fighting next morning.

At daybreak the English fleet weighed anchor. The Dutch fleet was seen some
miles to seaward and more to the south, sailing in three divisions in line
ahead. Evertszoon was in command of the van; De Ruyter of the centre; Van
Tromp of the rear. There were more than a hundred sail. Monk stood towards
them before a light breeze, challenging battle in the fashion of the time
with much sounding of trumpets and beating of drums. But De Ruyter kept his
distance, working to the southward outside the tangle of shallows in the
Thames estuary. All day the fleets drifted slowly, keeping out of gunshot
range. Towards evening the wind fell to a sullen calm with a cloudy sky,
and Monk and De Ruyter both anchored outside the Long Sand. After sunset
there came a summer storm, vivid flashes of lightning, heavy thunder-peals,
and wild, tempestuous gusts of wind. The anchors held, but Monk lost one of
his best ships, the "Jersey." She was struck by lightning, which brought
down a mass of spars and rigging on her decks, and so crippled her that she
had to leave the fleet at dawn.

The Dutch fleet had disappeared. De Ruyter had weighed anchor during the
storm and run out to sea. Monk suspected that he had gone back to his old
cruising ground off the Naze, and when the wind fell and the weather
cleared up in the afternoon of the 24th he weighed and sailed for the end
of the Gunfleet to look for the enemy in that neighbourhood. He found no
trace of him, and anchored again off the Gunfleet that evening, getting
under way again at two in the morning of the 25th.

De Ruyter's light craft had kept him informed of Monk's movements. The
Dutch admiral had avoided battle, when it was first offered, because he
hoped to manoeuvre for the weather gage, but the failing wind before the
storm had made it hopeless to attempt to work to windward of the English.
At a council of war held on board De Ruyter's flagship on the evening of
the 24th it was decided to accept battle next day, even if the Dutch had to
fight to leeward. When the sun rose the two fleets were in sight, "eight
leagues off the Naze," De Ruyter in his old position to seaward and
southward of Monk.

The English "general at sea" had ninety-two battleships and seventeen
fireships at his disposal. Following the custom of the time, the English
was, like the Dutch fleet, organized in three divisions. The van,
distinguished by white ensigns, was commanded by Sir Thomas Allen; the
centre, or red division, flew the red ensign (now the flag of our merchant
marine), and was under the personal command of Monk and Rupert; the rear,
under Sir Jeremy Smith, flew the blue ensign. Battles at sea were now
beginning to be fought under formal rules which soon developed into a
system of pedantic rigidity. It was a point of honour that van should
encounter van; centre, centre; and rear, rear. The Dutch were moving slowly
under shortened sail in line ahead to the south-east of the English. Monk
formed his fleet in line abreast on the port tack. The orders were that as
they closed with the enemy the ships were to bear up on to a course
parallel to that of the Dutch and engage in line ahead, division to
division and broadside to broadside. Training cruises and fleet manoeuvres
were still things of a far-off future, and the ships of Monk's three
divisions were all unequal in speed and handiness, so the manoeuvre was not
executed with the machine-like regularity of a modern fleet. The van and
centre came into action fairly together, but the rearward ships straggled
into position, and Tromp was able to give some of the first comers a severe
hammering before their consorts came into action and relieved them of some
of the brunt of his fire.

The first shots had been fired between nine and ten a.m. Till after two in
the afternoon there was a close engagement, a steady, well-sustained
cannonade, with no attempt at manoeuvring on either side, the fleets
drifting slowly before the light wind, wrapped in powder smoke, in the
midst of which both sides made attempts to use their fireships against each
other. The only success was secured by the Dutch, who set the "Resolution"
ablaze. She drifted out of the line and burned to the water's edge after
her crew had abandoned her. There was heavy loss of life in both fleets.

For want of anything but the most rudimentary system of signalling,
admirals had little control of a fight once it was begun. Monk, in the
"Royal Charles," had to content himself with marking out De Ruyter's
flagship, the "Seven Provinces," as his immediate opponent, and fighting a
prolonged duel with her. He walked his quarter-deck chewing tobacco, a
habit he had acquired as a precaution against infection during the London
plague. He spoke at the outset with undeserved contempt of his opponent.
"Now," he said, "you shall see this fellow come and give me two broadsides
and then run." But De Ruyter's broadsides thundered for hour after hour.
However, the dogged persistency of the Dutch was met with persistent
courage as steady as their own.

London listened anxiously to the far-off rumbling of the cannonade on the
North Sea waters. Mr. Pepys went to Whitehall and found the Court "gone to
chapel, it being St. James's Day." Then he tells how--

    "by and by, while they are at chapel and we waiting chapel being
    done, come people out of the park, telling us that the guns are
    heard plainly. And so everybody to the park, and by and by the
    chapel done, the King and Duke into the bowling-green and upon
    the leads, whither I went, and there the guns were plain to be
    heard; though it was pretty to hear how confident some would be
    in the loudness of the guns, which it was as much as ever I
    could do to hear them."

All the Eastern counties must have heard the cannon-thunder droning and
rumbling like a far-off summer storm through the anxious hours of that
July day. As the afternoon went on even Dutch endurance found it hard to
stand up against the steadily sustained cannonade of Monk's centre and van
divisions, and De Ruyter and Evertszoon began to make sail and work further
out to sea, as if anxious to break off the fight. Monk, Rupert, and Allen,
with the White and Red Divisions, followed them up closely, making,
however, no attempt to board, but keeping up the fire of their batteries,
and waiting for a chance to capture any crippled ship that might fall
astern. Four of the enemy were thus taken. So the main bodies of both
fleets worked out into the North Sea on parallel courses, making no great
way, for the wind was falling.

The rear divisions, Tromp's and Jeremy Smith's ships, did not follow the
general movement, for Tromp had never quite lost the advantage he had
gained in the opening stage of the battle. He kept his ships under
shortened sail, and hammered away doggedly at the Blue Division. This was
the moment when Monk might well have either reinforced Smith, or turned
with all his force on Tromp, and overwhelmed and destroyed his squadron. It
was made up of twenty-five line-of-battle ships and six frigates, and its
loss would have been a heavy blow to Holland. But on sea as on land there
was still little of the spirit of ordered combination. Just as Rupert at
Marston Moor had destroyed the opposing wing of the Roundheads with a
fierce charge of his cavaliers, and then pursued, without a thought of
using his advantage to fall upon the outnumbered and exposed centre of the
enemy, so now Monk and Rupert pressed upon De Ruyter and Evertszoon, though
Tromp was at their mercy, and Smith was in serious peril. Thus the
engagement broke into two separate battles as the summer evening drew on.

Darkness ended the fight, and in the night the wind fell almost to a calm.
Sunrise on the 26th showed the fleets drifting in disorder on a smooth sea,
with their heavy sails hanging loose from the yards, only filled now and
then by disappointing flaws of wind. The crews were busy repairing damages
and transferring the wounded to the lighter craft. All day the only shots
fired were discharged by a couple of brass toy cannon mounted on a pleasure
yacht which Rupert had brought with him. Taking advantage of a mere ruffle
of wind, so light that it could not move the big ships, the Cavalier Prince
ran his yacht under the stern of the huge flagship of De Ruyter, and fired
into him. The Dutchman had no guns bearing dead aft, and the Prince was
able to worry him for a while, till there came one of those stronger gusts
of wind that filled the sails of the "Seven Provinces," and she swung
round, showing a broadside that could blow the yacht out of the water. But
before a gun could be fired the yacht, with all sails spread, was racing
back to the English fleet, and Rupert returned to the "Royal Charles" as
pleased as a schoolboy with his frolic.

During the night of the 26th the wind rose, and De Ruyter steered for the
Scheldt, followed up by Monk's two divisions. The Dutch admiral covered his
retreat with his best ships, and a running fight began at dawn. Even before
the sun rose the sounds of a heavy cannonade had come through the darkness,
telling that Tromp and Smith were hard at it again in their detached
battle. Early in the day Monk abandoned the chase of the Dutch, and steered
towards the sound of the cannonade. Soon the fleet came in distant sight of
the battle. Tromp with the "Zealand squadron" was making a dogged retreat,
working to the south-east, close-hauled on the wind from the north-east.
Monk tacked and made more than one attempt to place himself across the
course of the Dutchmen, hoping to catch them between his fleet and Smith's
Blue Division as between hammer and anvil. But Tromp slipped between his
enemies and was before long in full sail for Holland, with the three
English divisions combined in a stern chase. Monk said that if Smith had
pressed Tromp closer early in the day, his retreat would have certainly
been cut off. Smith and his friends protested that if the "general at sea"
had laid his fleet on a better course, Tromp would have been taken. The
honours of this last move in the game were with the Dutchman.

A substantial victory had been gained, though there were few trophies to
show for it. The enemy had been met and forced by sheer hard knocks to
abandon his station off the mouth of the Thames, and take refuge in his own
ports. Monk was on the Dutch coast, picking up returning merchantmen as
prizes, blockading the outgoing trade, and keeping the great fishing fleet
in ruinous idleness. With the help of information supplied by a Dutch
traitor, Monk reaped further advantage from his victory and inflicted heavy
additional loss on the enemy. On 8 August the fleet sailed into the
roadstead behind the long island of Terschelling, one of the chain of
islands at the mouth of the Zuyder Zee, and burned at their anchors a
hundred and sixty Dutch merchantmen that had taken shelter there, including
several great East Indiamen. Next day landing-parties burned and plundered
the ranges of warehouses on the island, and destroyed the town of
Terschelling. The loss to the Dutch traders was estimated at over a million
sterling.

The victorious battle off the Thames in July, 1666, is practically
forgotten, so far as the popular tradition of our naval successes goes. It
has not even a name by which it might live in the memory of our people. But
it practically broke the power of Holland and brought the war to an end.
What men do remember, and what has banished from their minds the living
tradition of the great North Sea battle, is the ugly fact that in the
following year De Ruyter sailed unopposed into the Thames, and captured and
burned in the Medway dismantled ships that had fought victoriously against
him in the North Sea battle--the "Royal Charles" being among his prizes.

The fleets had, as usual at the time, been laid up for the winter. The
money available for fitting them out in the following spring was diverted
to other purposes and squandered by the King and the Court. Charles counted
on having no need to commission a great fleet in the summer. He knew the
Dutch were feeling the strain of the war and the destruction of their
trade, and would soon have to patch up a peace, and he opened preliminary
negotiations. Such negotiations must be prudently backed by an effective
force on the war footing. The King had practically disarmed as soon as
there was a prospect of peace. But the Dutch had fitted out the fleet in
view of possible contingencies, and De Witt and De Ruyter could not resist
the temptation of revenging the defeat of 1666 and the sack of Terschelling
by a raid on the Thames and Medway. It was the dishonesty and incapacity of
the King and his parasite Court that laid England open to the shameful
disaster that dimmed for all time the glory of Monk and Rupert's victory.
But even after De Ruyter's exploits at Chatham the Dutch had no hope of
continuing the war, and within a few weeks of the disaster peace was signed
at Breda. The story of the Dutch raid is a lasting lesson on the necessity
of an island power never for a moment relaxing the armed guard of the sea.



    CHAPTER VIII

    THE BATTLE OF THE SAINTS' PASSAGE

    1782


In the days when fleets in action relied upon the oar, all fighting was at
close quarters, and, as we have seen in our study of typical battles of
this period, naval engagements fought out at close quarters gave very
definite results, the fleet that was defeated being practically destroyed.

When battles began to be fought under sail, with the gun as the chief
weapon, a new method had to be evolved. The more the fire of broadside
batteries was relied upon, the greater was the tendency to fight at short
artillery range, without closing to hand-to-hand distance, and when the
sailors and sea-fighters of the seventeenth century adopted line ahead as
the normal formation for making the most of broadside fire, battles had a
marked tendency to degenerate into inconclusive artillery duels.

In both the English and the French navies--the two powers that after the
naval decline of Spain and Holland disputed the command of the sea--the
tactics of the battle in line ahead soon crystallized into a pedantic
system. For a hundred years the methods of English admirals were kept in
rigid uniformity by a code of "Fighting Instructions for the Navy," drawn
up under the direction of the Duke of York (afterwards James II), when he
was still Lord High Admiral of England in his brother's reign. These
instructions were a well-meant attempt to provide a "sealed pattern" for
naval engagements. They contemplated set, formal battles with both fleets
in line ahead, sailing on parallel courses, or passing and repassing
each other on opposite tacks, exchanging broadsides as the guns bore. The
French adopted similar methods. If the English had any advantage in their
tactics, it was in their ideas of gunnery. The French aimed at masts and
rigging, in the hope of crippling an adversary in her sail power and
forcing her to fall out of the moving line. The English believed in making
the hull their target, aiming "between wind and water" to start dangerous
leaks, or sending their shot into the crowded gun-decks to put the enemy's
batteries out of action.

    [Illustration: GUNS AND CARRONADES IN USE IN THE BRITISH NAVY
    IN THE LATTER PART OF THE 18TH CENTURY]

Under such methods battles became formal duels, in which, as often as not,
there was no great result, and both sides claimed the victory. The story of
many of the naval campaigns of the first three-quarters of the eighteenth
century is weary reading. It was in the last quarter of the century that
English admirals learned to fight again at close quarters, and to strike
crushing blows at an enemy. The new period of energetic, decisive fighting
began with a famous battle in West Indian waters in 1782, and culminated in
the world-renowned victories of Nelson, who was a young captain on the
North American station "when Rodney beat the Comte de Grasse" in the battle
of the Saints' Passage.

Born when George I was King, Rodney was a veteran of many wars when he won
his West Indian triumph. He had fought the French under Hawke, and was with
Boscawen at the taking of Louisburg. In 1759 he bombarded Havre, and burned
the transport flotilla collected at the mouth of the Seine for a raid on
England. Three years later, as commander-in-chief on the Leeward Islands
station, he captured Martinique, St. Lucia, and Grenada, and learned the
ways of the West Indian seas. Then came years of political disfavour,
half-pay and financial embarrassment, until in an hour of darkness for
England, with the American colonies in successful revolt and Frenchman and
Spaniard besieging Gibraltar by land and sea, the veteran admiral was
recalled to active service, and found and seized the great opportunities of
his life. Sailing south with a relieving fleet, he fell in with and
captured a Spanish convoy off Finisterre, and then surprised and destroyed
Lungara's Spanish squadron, taking seven ships out of eleven, and chasing
the rest into Cadiz. The appearance of his fleet before Gibraltar saved the
fortress, and then in February, 1780, he sailed across the Atlantic to try
conclusions with De Guichen, whose powerful fleet based on Martinique was
threatening all the English possessions in the West Indies. So far numbers
and opportunity had been on his side. He had now to depend more on skill
than fortune, and meet a more equal opponent.

At his head-quarters at St. Lucia in April, 1780, Rodney heard that the
French fleet under De Guichen had sailed from Martinique. On the 17th he
fought an indecisive action with the enemy, an action notable for what
Rodney attempted, not for what he accomplished. Twice again on later days
Rodney met De Guichen, but none of the three battles did more than inflict
mutual loss on the combatants, without producing any decisive result. The
campaign was, like so many others in the West Indies, a struggle for the
temporary possession of this or that port or island, De Guichen's whole
strategy being based on the idea of avoiding the risks of a close
engagement that might imperil his fleet, and trying to snatch local
advantages when he could elude his enemy.

In 1781 Rodney was compelled by ill-health temporarily to give up the West
Indian command and return to England. In the spring of 1782 he was again
sent to the West Indies, at a moment when the situation of affairs was most
menacing for British power beyond the Atlantic. Cornwallis had been forced
to surrender at Yorktown, and the success of the revolted American colonies
was now assured. The French fleet in the West Indies had been joined by
reinforcements under the Comte de Grasse, who had gone out as
commander-in-chief, taking with him a considerable military force that was
to combine with an expedition from the Spanish American colonies, not for
the capture of some small islands in the Antilles, but for the conquest of
Jamaica, the centre of British power and British trade in the West Indian
seas.

Kempenfeldt, a good sailor (now remembered chiefly as the admiral who "went
down with twice three hundred men," when the "Royal George" sank at
Spithead), dispersed and destroyed at the mouth of the Channel a large
French convoy of supplies for De Grasse, and drove the squadron that
protected it into Brest. With his task thus lightened, Rodney put to sea
with four ships of the line, and after a stormy passage reached Barbadoes
on 19 February, 1782. Sailing thence to Antigua, he formed a junction with
and took command of the West Indian fleet, which Hood had commanded during
his absence in England. From Antigua he took the fleet to St. Lucia, where
he established his head-quarters in Gros Islet Bay. St. Lucia was the
favourite base of operations of our West Indian fleets in the old wars, and
the scene of much desperate fighting by land and sea. The year before De
Grasse had failed in an attempt to seize it.

The fleet of the Comte de Grasse was only some forty miles away to the
northward. It lay at Martinique, in the bay of Fort Royal (now Fort de
France). Though it has nothing to do with the fortunes of Rodney and De
Grasse, it is interesting to note that in a convent school looking out on
the bay there was just then a little schoolgirl named Josephine de la
Pagerie, daughter of an artillery lieutenant in the garrison, who was to
live to be Empress of the French, when France was the mistress of Europe.

During the month of March both fleets were busy preparing for sea. Rodney
was reinforced from England, and a small squadron from Brest joined De
Grasse. The reinforcements received during March had given Rodney the
advantage of numbers. He had thirty-six sail of the line to oppose the
thirty that were with De Grasse at Martinique. In the English fleet there
were five great three-deckers, three of them carrying 98 and two of them 90
guns. There were twenty-one 74's, a 70-gun ship, and nine 64's. In the
French fleet there was one of the largest war vessels then afloat, De
Grasse's flagship, the "Ville de Paris," of 104 guns. There were five ships
of 80 guns, twenty of 74, one of 70, and three of 64. This enumeration
gives Rodney an advantage of six ships and more than two hundred guns. It
is quite true that the ships of the same rating in the French service were
generally larger than the English, but even apart from numbers, the latter
had advantages in armament that were more important than any trifling
difference in size. The English guns were mostly mounted on an improved
system that gave a larger arc of training fore and aft, the practical
result being that as ships passed each other the Frenchman was kept longer
under fire than the Englishman. Further, the English ships mounted, besides
the guns counted in their armament, a number of carronades, mounted on the
upper decks, short guns of large calibre, throwing a heavy shot when the
fighting was carried on at close quarters, a weapon not yet introduced in
the French navy. Thanks to these improvements in the armament of his ships,
Rodney had an advantage in gun-power beyond the mere superiority in numbers
of ships and guns. He had a further advantage in the fact that a larger
number of his ships were copper-sheathed. This meant less fouling while the
ships were waiting at their anchorage, and therefore better speed for the
English when they put to sea.

De Grasse was encumbered with a large convoy of merchantmen and storeships,
and many of his ships were overcrowded with the troops destined for the
descent on Jamaica. It was expected that when he sailed it would be to
form, in the first instance, a junction with the Spanish part of the
expedition off San Domingo. Rodney kept his fleet at St. Lucia, ready to
weigh anchor on the shortest notice, and a smart frigate, the "Andromache"
(commanded by Captain Byron, grandfather of the poet), cruised off
Martinique, watching the Frenchman.

At dawn on 8 April Byron saw that the French were coming out, and he
hastened to St. Lucia under press of sail with the news. Off the port he
flew the signal that told Rodney that De Grasse was at sea. Anchors came up
and sails were shaken out, and Rodney set off in pursuit, knowing that De
Grasse had a very few hours' start of him.

The few hours did not count for much, provided the English admiral could
once get on the Frenchman's track. The danger of missing him could only
arise from making at the outset a wrong judgment as to the course on which
the enemy would sail. It was De Grasse's business to avoid a battle until
he had safely taken his huge convoy to San Domingo and joined hands with
his Spanish allies. Rodney judged that he would most likely follow the long
curve of the chain of islands that fringe the Caribbean Sea, steering by
Puerto Rico for San Domingo. In the night of the 8th the English fleet
passed Martinique. Next morning it was off the west coast of Dominica,
making good speed, and away to the northward a far-spreading crowd of sails
showed that Rodney had guessed rightly. The French fleet and convoy were in
sight.

Dominica is a mass of volcanic ridges, falling to the seaward in
precipitous cliffs, rising landward tier above tier and shooting up into
rocky spires that culminate in the towering peak of the Morne Diablotin,
five thousand feet high. Under the shelter of this rugged island, while the
prevailing trade wind blows steadily from the eastward, there are sudden
calms, or irregular flaws of wind blowing now from one point, now from
another, diverted by the irregular ridges of the high land. This April
morning the sun had hardly risen when the wind fell, and the two fleets
drifted slowly, with loose-hanging sails. Near the north end of the island
lay the convoy. A little to the southward De Grasse's thirty battleships
straggled in a long line over some six miles of sunlit sea. Off the centre
and south of the island Rodney's larger fleet was stretched out in line
ahead. It was formed in three divisions. Hood, in the 90-gun "Barfleur,"
commanded the van. Rodney, with his flag flying in a tall three-decker, the
"Formidable," of 98 guns, was in the centre. The rear was commanded by
Rear-Admiral Samuel Drake, a namesake and descendant of that other Drake
whose name had been the terror of the West Indian seas in Elizabethan days.

Suddenly there came a flaw of wind sweeping from the south round the end of
the island, so narrow that most of the English fleet hardly felt it. It
filled the sails of Hood's ships in the van, and they steered for two
French battleships that dropped astern of their consorts. One of the
Frenchmen passed close under the tiers of guns in the leading English ship,
but not a shot was fired at her as she swept by and rejoined her consorts.
Rodney had not yet flown the signal for battle, and these were still the
days when personal enterprise and decision were not encouraged among the
captains of a fleet.

As the breeze filled the sails of the Frenchmen, Grasse signalled to the
convoy to bear away before it to the north-westward, while he with his
fighting-ships set his course for the channel between Dominica and
Guadeloupe. He rightly judged that Rodney would follow the warships, and
thus the convoy would have a good start. The channel towards which the
French fleet was heading is known as the Saints' Passage, "not on the
surmise that it leads to Heaven,"[14] but because along its northern waters
stretches a line of rocky islets known to the French as "_les Iles des
Saintes_." The nine ships of Hood forming the English van had gone far
ahead of the rest of the fleet. If De Grasse had not had his mind so
centred on the idea of avoiding a battle, there is little doubt that he
might have brought an overwhelming force to bear on them. Luckily for
Rodney, he contented himself with sending his second in command,
Vaudreuil, to skirmish with them, passing and repassing Hood's division at
long range and firing at masts and rigging in the hope of disabling them
for further pursuit. Hood returned the fire, doing as much damage as he
suffered, and towards midday the rest of the English had worked up to him
by taking advantage of every breath of wind that blew over the ridges of
Dominica. Then the wind fell again, and all through the night and the
following day (10 April) the fleets lay in sight of each other beyond even
distant cannon shot, Vaudreuil's and Hood's crews busying themselves with
repairing rigging and replacing damaged spars.

    [14] Treves, "Cradle of the Deep," p. 175.

During the 11th De Grasse tried to get his fleet through the Saints'
Passage, working by short tacks to windward, and baffled and delayed by
sudden calms. In the afternoon several of his ships were still to the
westward of the strait, and Rodney, who had been getting gradually to the
northward, despite the frequent failure of the wind under the lee of
Dominica, was at last near enough seriously to threaten these laggards. In
order to save them from being overwhelmed by the whole English fleet, De
Grasse gave up the advantage of weary hours of hard work and came back
before the wind out of the strait. At sunset the two fleets lay to the
westward of the Saints' Passage, and there was no probability that De
Grasse would attempt to tack through it during the hours of darkness. In
the night Rodney manoeuvred to get to windward of the enemy, and at
daylight on the 12th the two fleets were within striking distance, De
Grasse to the leeward, his fleet in a straggling line over some nine miles
of sea. Rodney had his opportunity of forcing on a decisive battle at last.

At some distance from the French line a partly dismasted line-of-battle
ship, the "Zelé," was seen in tow of a frigate. She had been in collision
with the flagship during the night, and had been so badly damaged that De
Grasse was sending her away to Guadeloupe. Rodney's ships had lost their
order of battle somewhat in the darkness, and while he was reforming his
line he detached a couple of ships to threaten the disabled "Zelé." This
had the effect he intended. It removed De Grasse's last hesitation about
fighting. The French line was soon seen bearing down on the port tack, the
rearward ships crowding sail to close up. Rodney's battle line, in reversed
order, led by Drake and the rear division, was already on a course that
would bring the two fleets sweeping past each other, and the leading ship,
the "Marlborough," was steered so as to make the passage a close one.
Rodney had hoisted the signal to engage the enemy to leeward. While the
fleets were closing he sat in an arm-chair on his quarterdeck, for he was
older than his sixty-four years, broken by long illness and only sustained
by his dogged spirit. One of his captains, Savage of the "Hercules," also
went into battle seated in an arm-chair beside the bulwarks of his ship. He
was lame with gout and unable to stand or walk without help. When the
firing began, and the ships were passing each other amid a thunder of
broadsides and a hail of shot and bullets, Captain Savage gravely raised
his cocked hat to salute each enemy as she ranged up abreast of the
"Hercules." What would those old sailors have thought of the naval
commander of to-day peeping through the slits in the steel walls of a
conning tower? But it is only fair to ask also what they would have thought
of shells weighing half a ton bursting in fiery destruction.

The "Marlborough," approaching on a converging course, came to close
quarters with the "Brave," the sixth ship in De Grasse's line, and then,
shifting her helm to bring her course parallel to that of the enemy,
exchanged broadsides with the Frenchman. Ship after ship came into action
in the same way. The speed was nearer three than four knots, and the lines
some six miles long, so it was more than an hour before the leading English
battleship was abreast of and engaged with the rearmost Frenchman. As ship
passed ship there was a thunder of artillery, a rattle of small arms. Then
a brief lull till the guns of two more opponents bore on each other. But
in this cannonade the English had the advantage of the heavy blows struck
by their large-bore carronades at close range, and the fact that their
gun-mountings enabled them to keep a passing ship longer under fire than
was possible for the French gunners. In De Grasse's ships, crowded with
troops, the slaughter was terrible. As the fight went on and the French
ships came under the crushing fire of adversary after adversary, it was
seen that it was only with difficulty the officers kept the men at the
guns. In this first hour of the fight the French began to throw the dead
overboard to clear their encumbered decks, and a strange horror was added
to the scene, for shoals of sharks that had followed the fleets to pick up
anything thrown overboard now swarmed around them, lashing the water into
foam as they struggled for their human prey.

At length the leading English ship was abeam of the rearmost of De Grasse's
fleet. Over some six miles of sea the two battle lines extended, every ship
ablaze with fire-flashes from her guns and with the dense smoke-clouds
drifting around the English vessels and wrapping them in the fog of war. If
the battle was now to be fought out on the old traditional method, the
fleets would clear each other, wear and tack and repass each other in
opposite directions with a second exchange of fire. But now came the event
that made the battle of the Saints' Passage epoch-making in naval history.

What precisely happened is wrapped in a fog of controversy as dense as the
smoke-fog that enveloped Rodney's fleet at the decisive moment. One thing
is certain. The old admiral suddenly changed all his plans, and executed a
new manoeuvre with the signal he himself was disobeying--the order to
engage to leeward--still flying from his flagship. The act was the sudden
seizing of an unexpected opportunity. But some of the merit of the new
departure was due to Rodney's right-hand man, his "Captain of the Fleet,"
Sir Charles Douglas. Douglas was one of those whose minds had been
influenced by new theories on naval war, which were just then in the air.
In Britain a Scotch country gentleman, John Clerk, of Eldin, had been
arguing for some time in pamphlets and manuscripts circulated among naval
officers against the formal methods that led to indecisive results. His
paper plans for destroying an enemy were no doubt open to the criticism
that they would work out beautifully if the enemy stuck to the
old-fashioned ways and attempted no counter-stroke. But the essence of
Clerk's theories was that parallel orders of battle meant only indecisive
cannonading; that to crush an enemy one must break into his line, bring
parts of it under a close fire, not on one side, but on both, and decide
the fate of the ships thus cut off by superior numbers and superior gun
power before the rest could come to their help. His plans might not work
out with the mechanical exactitude described in his writings, but they
would tend to produce the close mêlée, where the best men and the steadiest
fire would win, and after such an encounter there would not be merely a few
masts and spars shot away, and a few holes to be plugged, but the beaten
side would be minus a number of ships sunk, burned, or taken, and condemned
to hopeless inferiority for the rest of the campaign. Clerk was not the
only man who put forward these ideas. A French Jesuit professor of
mathematics had worked out plans for securing local advantage of numbers in
a sea-fight at close quarters; but while French naval officers laughed at
naval battles worked out with a piece of chalk and a blackboard, British
sailors were either themselves thinking out similar schemes or were
beginning to think there might be something in the Scotch laird's diagrams.

It was at the critical moment when the two fleets lay side by side in
parallel lines on opposite courses, wrapped in the battle-smoke, that
Douglas, looking out through a gap in the war-cloud, saw that a sudden flaw
of wind blowing steadily from the south-east was flattening the French
sails against the masts and checking their speed. The same sudden change of
wind was filling the English sails, and the masters were squaring the yards
to it, while the Frenchmen to keep any way on their ships had to bring
their bows partly round towards the English line. Between the "Glorieux,"
the ship immediately opposed to Rodney's flagship, the "Formidable," and
the next Frenchman in the line, the "Diadème," a wide gap was opening up.
Douglas saw the chance offered to his admiral. Half the English fleet was
ahead of the "Formidable," engaged with the rearward French ships. If the
"Formidable" pushed through the gap, leading the rest of the line after
her, the French rear would be cut off from the van and brought under a
double fire at close quarters, and there would be a fair prospect of
destroying it before De Grasse could come back to its support. He rushed to
Rodney's side. Moments were precious. He urged his plan in the briefest
words. At first the old admiral rejected it. "No," he said, "I will not
break my line."[15] Douglas insisted, and the two officers stepped to the
opening in the bulwarks at the gangway and looked out. The "Formidable" was
opposite the tempting gap in the French line. Rodney in a moment changed
his mind, and told Douglas that he accepted his plan.

    [15] Rodney in at first refusing was upholding the strict letter
    of the "Fighting Instructions," which forbade breaking the line
    or changing the order of battle during an action. Instruction
    XVI laid it down that:--

    "In all cases of fight with the enemy the commanders of His
    Majesty's ships are to _keep the fleet in one line_, and (as
    much as may be) to preserve that order of battle, which they
    have been directed to keep before the time of fight."

In the haste to carry it out the signal to fight to leeward of the French
was forgotten and left flying. The "Formidable" turned her high bows into
the gap, and swept through it with all her hundred guns and her carronades
in action, pouring broadside after broadside right and left into the
"Glorieux" and the "Diadème." Six ships in succession swung round and
followed in the wake of the flagship, which was now engaged with the
French on the windward side. Shattered by successive blasts of
well-directed fire, the "Diadème" was drifting a helpless wreck, and the
rearward ships, with their way checked, were huddling in confusion behind
her, English ships firing into them on both sides. Through another gap in
the French line, ahead of De Grasse's giant "Ville de Paris," other English
ships made their way in the dense cloud of smoke, some of the captains
hardly aware of what they were doing. The French van had meanwhile forged
ahead, and then, as the wind suddenly fell to a dead calm, it was seen that
De Grasse's fleet was broken into three isolated fragments.

To the southward lay the van ships under De Bougainville becalmed, with no
enemy in range of them. The "Ville de Paris," with several of her consorts
of the French centre, formed another group, with the whole of the rearward
English division exchanging fire with them at long range. The rear of the
French, under Vaudreuil, and the ships of the centre cut off by Rodney's
manoeuvre were huddled together, with Hood's division and the ships that
had followed the "Formidable" through the line shepherding them. The loss
of the wind had made it difficult or impossible to keep the broadsides
bearing, and for an hour the action died down into a desultory cannonade.
When the breeze came again over the ridges of Dominica, De Bougainville's
division, now far to leeward, made no attempt to succour De Grasse. Only
one of his ships slowly beat up to the main battle. The French admiral
tried to get away to the westward, but Hood clung doggedly to him, while
Rodney and Drake completed the defeat of Vaudreuil and the French rear. The
"Diadème" soon struck her colours. A frigate tried to tow the dismasted
"Glorieux" out of the mêlée, but the captain of the "Glorieux," De
Kerlessi, saw that the effort would only end in the friendly frigate being
also captured, and with his own hand he cut the tow-rope and hauled down
his flag. Then the "César" struck her colours, and while the rearward
ships were being thus disposed of, in the broken Centre the "Hector" and
the "Ardent" surrendered to Hood's division.

The English attack was now concentrated on the centre, and the battle raged
fiercely round the French flagship, distinguished by her huge bulk and her
towering masts. One by one these came down, trailing in a tangle of spars,
sails, and rigging over her sides. Her crowded decks were a shambles of
dead and dying, but still De Grasse fought on--for honour, not for victory.
His van held aloof, his broken rear was in flight. Five of his ships had
struck. Still he kept his guns in action till Hood in his flagship, the
"Princesse," ranged close up alongside of him and poured in a series of
destructive broadsides. Then the French flag came down at last, and De
Grasse went on board the "Princesse" and gave up his sword to the
vice-admiral.

The sun was going down when the French flagship surrendered. The captured
"César," set on fire by her crew, was blazing from stem to stern. The other
prizes had been secured. Rodney attempted no pursuit of the scattered
French ships that were sailing away to the southward and the
north-westward. Enough had been done, he said. It was now his business to
refit his fleet and take it to Jamaica. He had shattered the French power
in the West Indian seas and made himself the master of the field of
operations. A younger and more vigorous man would have perhaps marked down
Vaudreuil's or Bougainville's fugitive divisions for utter destruction. But
Rodney was content with the solid success he had obtained.

The losses of the French fleet had been very heavy. In their crowded decks
the English fire had effected something like a massacre. On board the
"Ville de Paris" more men had been killed and wounded than in the whole
English fleet. Very few officers and men had escaped some kind of wound.
Many of the ships that had got away were now very shorthanded, with
leaking hulls, and spars and rigging badly cut up.

The effect of the victory was to enable England to obtain much better terms
in the treaty that was signed next year. A disastrous war was closed by a
brilliant success. But England owed to it more than this temporary
advantage. It was a new beginning, the opening event of the period of
splendid triumphs on the sea on the reputation of which we are still
living. To quote the words of Rodney's latest biographer,[16] "it marked
the beginning of that fierce and headlong yet well-calculated style of
sea-fighting which led to Trafalgar, and made England undisputed mistress
of the sea."

    [16] David Hannay, "Rodney" (English Men of Action), p. 213.

    [Illustration: A THREE-DECKER OF NELSON'S TIME]



    CHAPTER IX

    TRAFALGAR

    1805


The closing years of the eighteenth century and the opening years of the
nineteenth represent the most splendid period in the annals of the British
Navy. Howe destroyed the French fleet in the Atlantic on "the glorious
First of June, 1794," Nelson died in the midst of his greatest victory off
Cape Trafalgar on 21 October, 1805. Little more than eleven years separated
the two dates, and this brief period was crowded with triumphs for Britain
on the sea. The "First of June," St. Vincent, Camperdown, the Nile,
Copenhagen, and Trafalgar are the great names in the roll of victory; but
"the meteor flag of England" flew victorious in a hundred fights on all the
seas of the world.

Men who were officers young in the service on the day when Rodney broke at
once the formal traditions of a century and the battle-line of the Comte de
Grasse lived through and shared in the glories of this decade of victory. A
new spirit had come into the navy. An English admiral would no longer think
he had done his duty in merely bringing his well-ordered line into
cannon-shot of an enemy's array and exchanging broadsides with him at
half-cannon range. Nor was the occupation of a port or an island recognized
as an adequate result for a naval campaign. The enemy's fighting-fleet was
now the object aimed at. It was not merely to be brought to action, and
more or less damaged by distant cannonading. The ideal battle was the close
fight amid the enemy's broken line, and victory meant his destruction.

The spirit of the time was personified in its greatest sailor. Nelson's
battles were fought in grim earnest, taking risks boldly in order to secure
great results. Trafalgar--the last of his battles, and the last great
battle of the days of the sail--was also the final episode in the long
struggle of Republican and Imperial France to snatch from England even for
a while the command of the sea.

When Napoleon assembled the Grand Army at Boulogne, gave it the official
title of the "_Armée d'Angleterre_," and crowded every creek from Dunkirk
to Havre with flat-bottomed boats for its transport across the Channel, he
quite realized that the first condition of success for the scheme was that
a French fleet should be in possession of the Channel at the moment his
veterans embarked for their short voyage. He had twenty sail of the line,
under Admiral Ganteaume, at Brest; twelve under Villeneuve at Toulon; a
squadron of five at Rochefort under Admiral Missiessy; five more at Ferrol;
and in this last port and at Cadiz and Cartagena there were other ships
belonging to his Spanish allies. But every port was watched by English
battleships and cruisers. The vigilant blockade had been kept up for two
years, during which Nelson, who was watching Toulon, had hardly been an
hour absent from his flagship, the "Victory"; and Collingwood, in the
"Royal Sovereign," did not anchor once in twenty-two months of alternate
cruising and lying to.

Napoleon's mind was ceaselessly busy with plans for moving his fleets on
the sea as he moved army corps on land, so as to elude, mislead, and
out-manoeuvre the English squadrons, and suddenly bring a concentrated
French force of overwhelming strength into the narrow seas. The first move
in these plans was usually assigned to the Toulon fleet. According to one
project it was to give Nelson the slip, make for the Straits of Gibraltar,
combine with the Cadiz fleet in driving off or crushing the blockading
squadron before that port, sail north with the liberated vessels, fall on
the blockading ships before Rochefort and Brest, and then sweep the
Channel with the united squadrons. In other projects French fleets were to
run the blockades simultaneously or in succession, raid the West Indies,
draw off a part of the naval forces of England to the other side of the
Atlantic, and then come swooping back upon the Channel.

In the plan finally adopted the first move was to be the escape of the
Toulon fleet; the second, the threat against the West Indies. Its execution
was entrusted to Villeneuve, because Napoleon, ever since the escape of his
squadron from the disaster in Aboukir Bay, had regarded him as "a lucky
man," and luck and chance must play a great part in such a project.

Nelson did not keep up a close and continuous blockade of Toulon with his
fighting-fleet of battleships. He used Sardinia as his base of supplies,
and there were times when all the heavier ships were in Sardinian waters,
while his frigates watched Toulon. His previous experiences had led him to
believe that if the French Mediterranean fleet came out it would be for
another raid on Egypt, and this idea was confirmed by reports that
Villeneuve was embarking not only troops, but large quantities of saddlery
and muskets. The story of the saddles seemed to indicate an expedition to a
country where plenty of horses could be obtained to mount a body of
cavalry--horses, too, that when they were bought or requisitioned would not
have saddles that a European trooper was used to. Nelson did not want to
keep the French shut up in Toulon. He was anxious to catch them in the open
sea, and with his fleet on the coast of Sardinia and his frigates spread
out in a fan to the northwards he counted on bringing Villeneuve to action
if he attempted to reach the Levant.

In January, 1805, the frigates brought news that the French were out, and
Nelson at once disposed his fleet to intercept their expected voyage to
Egypt. He found no trace of them in the direction he expected, and he was
greatly relieved on returning from a hurried rush eastward to learn that
bad weather had driven Villeneuve back to his port. "These gentlemen," he
said, "are not accustomed to the Gulf of Lyons gales, but we have buffeted
them for twenty-one months without carrying away a spar."

On 30 March Villeneuve came out of Toulon again with eleven ships of the
line. This time, thanks to Nelson's fixed idea about Egypt, he got a good
start for the Atlantic. As soon as his frigates brought the news that the
French were out, Nelson strung out his ships from the south point of
Sardinia to Sicily and the African coast. He thus watched every possible
avenue to the Eastern Mediterranean, ready to concentrate and attack the
enemy as soon as he got touch of them anywhere. But not a French sail was
sighted.

Villeneuve had run down past the Balearic Islands to Cartagena, where
Admiral Salcedo was in command of a Spanish squadron. But the Spaniards
were not ready for sea, and Villeneuve was anxious to be west of the
Straits of Gibraltar as soon as possible, and could not wait for his
dilatory allies. On 8 April he passed through the Straits. Then he steered
for Cadiz, drove off Sir John Orde's blockading squadron of six sail, and
entered the harbour on the 9th.

At Cadiz there were Admiral Gravina's Spanish fleet and a French
battleship, the "Aigle." Again the Spaniards were mostly unready for sea,
but six of them and the "Aigle" joined Villeneuve when he sailed out into
the Atlantic steering for the West Indies, now at the head of eighteen
battleships and seven frigates.

Information was difficult to obtain and travelled slowly a hundred years
ago. It was not till 11 April that Nelson learned that Villeneuve had
passed through the Straits of Gibraltar eight days before. Then, while the
French were running down into the trade wind that was to carry them
westward, Nelson, still ignorant whether they were raiding the West Indies
or Ireland, but anxious in either case to be in the Atlantic as soon as
might be, had to work his way slowly towards the Straits against stormy
head winds, and then wait wearily at anchor on the Moorish coast for a
change of wind that would carry him into the ocean. He was suffering from
disappointment, depression, and ill-health. It was not till 7 May that he
passed the Straits. He had made up his mind that the French were probably
bound for the West Indies, and he followed them. They had a long start, but
he trusted to find them among the islands and make the West Indian seas
once more famous for a great British victory.

On 4 June he reached Barbadoes, and began his search, only to miss the
French, thanks to false information, and learn too late that they were
returning to Europe. Villeneuve had paid only a flying visit to the West
Indies, leaving Martinique on 5 June, the day after Nelson arrived at
Barbadoes, and steering first north, then eastwards across the Atlantic.
Nelson followed on 13 June, and reached Gibraltar without once sighting his
enemy.

He had, however, taken the precaution of dispatching a fast sailing brig to
England with the news that the French fleet was returning to Europe. This
ship, the "Curieux," actually got a glimpse of the enemy far off in mid
ocean, and outsailed him to such good purpose that the Admiralty was able
to order the squadrons blockading Brest and Rochefort to unite under the
command of Sir Robert Calder and try to intercept Villeneuve on his way
back. Though inferior in numbers to the allied fleet, Calder brought it to
action in thick, foggy weather on 22 July, some ninety miles off the
Spanish Cape Finisterre. The battle, fought in semi-darkness, was a
desultory, indecisive encounter, and though Calder cut off and took two
Spanish ships of the line, the feeling in England, when the news arrived,
was not one of satisfaction at his partial success, but of undeserved
indignation at his having failed to force the fighting and destroy the
enemy's fleet.

Villeneuve took his fleet into Vigo Bay. According to the plan of
campaign, now that he had shaken off Nelson's pursuit, he should have
sailed for the Channel, picking up the Brest and Rochefort squadrons on his
way. Napoleon, at Boulogne, was ceaselessly drilling the Grand Army in
rapid embarkation and disembarkation, and hoping each day for news of his
admiral's dash into the Channel. But Villeneuve, who knew Keith had a
squadron in the Channel, and had a vague dread of Nelson suddenly making
his appearance, had a better appreciation of the small chance of the scheme
giving any result than the imperious soldier-Emperor, who had come to
believe that what he ordered must succeed. From Vigo, Villeneuve wrote to
the Minister of Marine, Decrès, that his fleet was hardly in condition for
any active enterprise. It had met with trying weather in the Atlantic. His
flagship, the "Bucentaure," had been struck and damaged by lightning. All
the ships needed a dockyard overhaul. There was sickness among the crews.
He had to land hundreds of men and send them to hospital. He wanted
recruits badly, and Vigo afforded only the scantiest resources for the
refitting of the ships. He was already thinking of going back to Cadiz. He
moved his fleet to Corunna, but there he found things in such a condition
that he reported that he could not even find hospital room for the sick.

From Napoleon came pressing orders to push on to the Channel at all risks.
On 11 August Villeneuve put to sea, picking up a combined French and
Spanish squadron from the neighbouring port of Ferrol. He meant to sail to
Brest, bring out the squadron there, and call up the ships at Rochefort by
sending on a frigate in advance with orders for that port. (The frigate was
captured on the way by a British cruiser.) He sent a dispatch overland to
Napoleon to say that at last he was coming.

In the Bay of Biscay, two days out from Corunna, he was told by a Danish
merchant-ship that there was a great fleet of British battleships close at
hand to the northward. The news was false. A few hours before the captain
of a British cruiser had stopped the Dane and purposely given him this
false information, in the hope that it would reach the French and mislead
them. Except a few scattered cruisers, there was nothing between Villeneuve
and the ports of Brest and Rochefort--nothing that could stop his projected
concentration. Nelson had waited a few days at Gibraltar, where the news of
Calder's fight had not arrived. He communicated with Collingwood, who was
watching Cadiz with six ships, and then, conjecturing that the object of
the French expedition might be Ireland, he sailed north and was off the
Irish coast on 12 August, the day after Villeneuve left Corunna. Finding no
trace of the enemy, he joined the squadron of Cornwallis off Ushant on 15
August, and then, broken in health and depressed at what seemed a huge
failure, he went back to England to spend some time with Lady Hamilton at
Merton.

Villeneuve had hardly heard of the imaginary fleet when the wind, which had
so far been fair, went round to the north. This decided the irresolute
admiral. To the dismay of his captains he suddenly altered his course and
ran before the wind southward to Cadiz, where he arrived on 22 August,
contenting himself with watching the retirement of Collingwood's six ships
and making no effort to envelop and cut them off with his enormously
superior force. Collingwood promptly resumed the blockade when the French
and Spanish anchored, and deluded Villeneuve into the belief that the
blockade was in touch with a supporting fleet by keeping one of his ships
well out in the offing, and frequently signalling through her to imaginary
consorts below the horizon.

On the very day that Villeneuve anchored at Cadiz, Napoleon sent off from
Boulogne this pressing dispatch to him at Brest:--

    "Admiral, I trust you have arrived at Brest. Start at once. Do
    not lose a moment. Come into the Channel with our united
    squadrons, and England is ours. We are all ready. Everything is
    embarked. Come here for twenty-four hours and all is ended, and
    six centuries of shame and insult will be avenged."

When he heard that the admiral had lost heart and turned back he was
furious. But he had already formed plans for an alternative enterprise. The
English ministry had succeeded in forming a new coalition with Austria and
Russia as a means of keeping the Emperor occupied on the Continent. On 27
August Napoleon issued his orders for the march of the Grand Army to the
Danube, and on 1 September he started on the career of victory, the stages
of which were to be Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena, and Friedland.

To Villeneuve he sent, through Decrès, bitter reproaches and new orders for
a naval campaign in the Mediterranean. Decrès, writing to his old comrade,
transmitted the new plan of campaign and softened down the Emperor's angry
words. Villeneuve reported that he could not leave Cadiz for some time. He
was doing all that was possible to refit his fleet and find full crews for
the French and Spanish ships. For the latter men were provided by pressing
landsmen into the service. "It is pitiful," wrote a French officer, "to see
such fine ships manned with a handful of seamen and a crowd of beggars and
herdsmen." In the councils of war held at Cadiz there were fierce disputes
between the French and Spanish officers, the latter accusing their allies
of having abandoned to their fate the two ships lost in Calder's action.
The jealousy between the two nations rose so high that several French
sailors were stabbed at night in the streets.

The English Government knew nothing of the inefficient state and the
endless difficulties of the great fleet concentrated at Cadiz, and regarded
its presence there as a standing danger. Collingwood was reinforced, and it
was decided to send Nelson out to join him, take over the command, blockade
the enemy closely, and bring him to action if he ventured out.

Nelson sailed from Spithead on 15 September in his old flagship the
"Victory," accompanied by the "Euryalus," Captain Blackwood, one of the
swiftest and smartest frigates in the navy. Picking up the battleships
"Thunderer" and "Ajax" on the way, he joined the fleet off Cadiz on 28
September.

Villeneuve had written to Decrès that none of the ships were in really good
order, and that the Spanish vessels were "quite incapable of meeting the
enemy." Only a portion of his fleet had had the slight training afforded by
the Atlantic voyage. The rest had lain for years in harbour, and many of
them had crews chiefly made up of recently enrolled landsmen. Many of the
captains held that if there was to be a fight it would be useless to
manoeuvre or to attempt an artillery duel, and that the only chance of
success lay in a hand-to-hand fight by boarding. But, then, to produce the
position for boarding meant being able to manoeuvre. Villeneuve was
supported by most of the superior officers of the fleet in the opinion that
he had better stay at Cadiz; but from Napoleon there came reiterated orders
for the fleet to enter the Mediterranean.

The last hesitation of the unfortunate admiral was ended by the news that
Admiral Rosilly was coming from Paris to supersede him. If he did not
attempt something, his career would end in disgrace. He held a final
council of war, gave his last instructions to his officers, and then wrote
to Decrès that he would obey the Emperor's orders, though he foresaw that
they would probably lead to disaster.

Contrary winds from the westward delayed his sailing for some days after
this decision. Reefs and local currents made it difficult to work a large
fleet out of Cadiz without a fair wind. A smaller but better-trained fleet
than that of Villeneuve had once taken three days to get out, and a portion
of the fleet at sea and unsupported would be in deadly peril. On 17 October
the wind began to work round to the eastward. Next day it fell almost to a
calm, but it increased towards evening, and Villeneuve, after a conference
with his Spanish colleague, Admiral Gravina, signalled that the ships were
to weigh anchor at sunrise on the 19th.

Nelson had been watching Cadiz for three weeks, keeping his fleet well out
at sea, with his frigates close in to the port, and a chain of ships acting
as connecting links with them to pass on information by signalling with
flags by day and lanterns by night. The system of signalling had been
lately so improved that it was fairly rapid and reliable, and Nelson kept
his fleet out of sight, and requested that the names of ships sent to
reinforce him should not appear in the papers, as he hoped to delude
Villeneuve into a false idea that he had a very inferior force before
Cadiz. He feared that if the whole array of his fleet were visible from the
look-out stations of the port the allies would remain safe at anchor.
During this period of waiting he had had more than one conference with his
captains, and had read and explained to them a manuscript memorandum, dated
9 October, setting forth his plans for the expected battle. His plan of
battle excited an enthusiasm among them, to which more than one of them
afterwards bore testimony. They said that "the Nelson touch" was in it, and
it is generally taken for granted that they saw in it something like a
stroke of genius and a new departure in tactics. I hope it is not
presumption on my part to suggest that their enthusiasm was partly the
result of their seeing that their trusted leader was thoroughly himself
again and, to use a familiar phrase, meant business, and they had a further
motive for satisfaction in seeing how thoroughly he relied on them and how
ready he was to give them a free hand in carrying out his general ideas.

The "Nelson touch" memorandum of 9 October and the whole plan of the battle
have been, and still are, the subject of acute controversy, the various
phases of which it would be far too long to discuss. It is strange that
after the lapse of a hundred years and the publication of a vast mass of
detailed evidence--British, French, and Spanish--there are still wide
differences of opinion as to how the most famous naval battle in history
was actually fought out. There is even much uncertainty as to the order in
which the British ships came into action.

The memorandum shows that Nelson originally contemplated a formation in
three lines, an advanced division to windward, a main division under his
personal command, and a lee division under his second-in-command,
Collingwood. The final grouping of the ships in the battle was in two
divisions. In the following list of the British fleet the names of ships
are arranged in the same order in which they appear in Collingwood's
dispatch, written after the action:--

                    WINDWARD LINE.

    Ships.            Guns.        Commanders.

  _Victory_           100   {Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson.
                            {Captain Hardy.
  _Téméraire_          98       "    Harvey.
  _Neptune_            98       "    Fremantle.
  _Leviathan_          74       "    Bayntun.
  _Conqueror_          74       "    Pellew.
  _Britannia_         100   {Rear-Admiral Lord Northesk.
                            {Captain Bullen.
  _Agamemnon_          64       "    Sir E. Berry.
  _Ajax_               64    Lieutenant Pilfold.
  _Orion_              74    Captain Codrington.
  _Minotaur_           74       "    Mansfield.
  _Spartiate_          74       "    Sir F. Laforey.
  _Africa_             64       "    Digby.

                    LEEWARD LINE.

    Ships.            Guns.         Commanders.

  _Royal Sovereign_   100   {Vice-Admiral Collingwood.
                            {Captain Rotherham.
  _Belleisle_          74       "    Hargood.
  _Mars_               74       "    Duff.
  _Tonnant_            80       "    Tyler.
  _Bellerophon_        74       "    Cooke.
  _Colossus_           74       "    Morris.
  _Achille_            74       "    King.
  _Dreadnought_        98       "    Conn.
  _Polyphemus_         64       "    Redmill.
  _Revenge_            74       "    Moorsom.
  _Swiftsure_          74       "    Rutherford.
  _Defiance_           74       "    Durham.
  _Thunderer_          74    Lieutenant Stockham.
  _Defence_            74    Captain Hope.
  _Prince_             98       "    Grindall.

  Besides one frigate of 38 guns, three of 36, and two brigs of 12
  and 8 guns.

This was the fleet that lay off Cape Sta. Maria, some fifty miles from
Cadiz, on Saturday, 19 October, 1805, and received from the frigates
watching the port the message, passed on by connecting ships, that the
enemy was at last coming out.

Villeneuve, like Nelson, had originally divided his fleet into three
divisions. On the day of battle it fought in an order which was (as we
shall see) partly the result of chance, arrayed in a long double line. He
had deliberately mixed together in his array the French and Spanish units
of his fleet, to avoid the dangers that might arise from mutual jealousies
if they were drawn up in divisions apart. Instead of giving the list of his
fleet according to the _ordre de bataille_ drawn up in Cadiz harbour long
before the event, it will be more convenient to arrange the list as they
actually lay in line from van to rear on the day of battle.

The following, then, is the list of the allied Franco-Spanish fleet:

         Ships.                 Guns.    Commanders.

  [*]   _Neptuno_                80
        _Scipion_                74  Captain Bellanger.
        _Intrépide_              74  Commodore Infernet.
        _Formidable_             80 {Rear-Admiral Dumanoir le Pelley.
                                    {Captain Letellier.
  [*]   _Rayo_                  100  Commodore Macdonel.
        _Duguay-Trouin_          74  Captain Touffet.
        _Mont Blanc_             74  Commodore La Villegris.
  [*]   _San Francisco de Asis_  74  Captain de Flores.
  [*]   _San Agustino_           74     "    Cagigal.
        _Héros_                  74     "    Poulain.
  [*]   _Santisima Trinidad_    130 {Rear-Admiral Cisneros.
                                    {Commodore de Uriarte.
        _Bucentaure_             80 {Vice-Admiral Villeneuve.
                                    {Captain Magendie.
        _Neptune_                80  Commodore Maistral.
        _Redoutable_             74  Captain Lucas.
  [*]   _San Leandro_            64     "    Quevedo.
  [*]   _San Justo_              74     "    Gaston.
        _Indomptable_            80  Commodore Hubert.
  [*]   _Santa Ana_             112  Vice-Admiral de Alava.
        _Fougueux_               74  Captain Baudouin.
  [*]   _Monarca_                74     "    Argumosa.
        _Pluton_                 74  Commodore Cosmao Kerjulien.
     [+]_Algéciras_              74 {Rear-Admiral Magon.
                                    {Captain Letourneur.
  [*][+]_Bahama_                 74  Commodore Galiano.
     [+]_Aigle_                  74  Captain Gourrège.
     [+]_Swiftsure_[#]           74     "    Villemadrin.
     [+]_Argonaute_              74     "    Epron.
  [*][+]_Montanez_               74     "    Alcedo.
  [*][+]_Argonauta_              80     "    Pareja.
     [+]_Berwick_                74  Commodore Filhol-Camas.
     [+]_San Juan Nepomuceno_    74     "      de Churucca.
     [+]_Ildefonso_              74     "      de Vargas.
     [+]_Achille_                74  Captain Deniéport.
     [+]_Principe de Asturias_  112 {Admiral Gravina.
                                    {Rear-Admiral Escaño.

  Besides five 40-gun frigates and two corvettes, one of 18, the other of
  16 guns.

  [*] Names of Spanish ships are distinguished by being marked with an
  asterisk.

  [+] Ships of the "Squadron of Observation" originally intended to act
  independently under Gravina.

  [#] Formerly British.

So far as mere figures can show it, the relative strength of the opposing
fleets may be thus compared:--

                 Line of Battle.               Lighter Ships.
                |_______________|  |___________________________________|

                                                      Brigs and
                  Ships.  Guns.     Frigates.  Guns.  corvettes.  Guns.

  British fleet    27     2148         4        146       2        20
  Allied fleet     33     2626         5        200       2        30

But here once more--as so often happens in naval war--the mere reckoning up
of ships and guns does not give the true measure of fighting power. The
British fleet was immeasurably superior in real efficiency, and the French
and Spanish leaders knew this perfectly well.

The morning of 19 October was fine and clear with the wind from the shore.
So clear was the day that the lookout in the foretop of the "Euryalus"
could see the ripples on the beach. As the sun rose the enemy's ships were
seen to be setting their topsails, and one by one they unmoored and towed
down towards the harbour mouth. It was a long process working the ships
singly out of harbour. Blackwood, of the "Euryalus," stood close in, and
from early morning till near 2 p.m. was sending his messages to the distant
fleet.

    Hoisted 7.20 a.m. transmitted to the "Victory" soon after 9
    a.m.: "The enemy's ships are coming out."

    11 a.m.: "Nineteen under sail. All the rest have top-yards
    hoisted except Spanish rear-admiral and one line-of-battle
    ship."

    About 11.3: "Little wind in harbour. Two of the enemy are at
    anchor."

    Noon: "Notwithstanding little wind, enemy persevere to get
    outward. The rest, except one line, ready, yards hoisted."

    Just before 2 p.m.: "Enemy persevering to work outward. Seven of
    line already without and two frigates."

When the fleet began to show in force outside, Blackwood drew off to a
distance of four miles from the shore and still watched them. He knew the
"Euryalus" could outsail the fastest of the enemy if they tried to attack
him. His business was to keep them under observation. He could see that for
want of wind they were forced to work out ship after ship by towing them
with rowing-boats. He knew they could not be all out till the Sunday
morning, and he knew also that Nelson had acknowledged his messages and was
beating up nearer and nearer to the port, though with the light winds he
could only make slow progress. Unless the enemy scuttled back into the
harbour a battle was inevitable.

On the Sunday morning (20 October) the wind freshened and enabled
Villeneuve to bring out the last of his ships. They were hardly out when
the wind changed and blew strong from the south-west, with squalls of rain.
The French admiral signalled the order to tack to the southward under
shortened sail. The fleet had been directed to sail in five parallel
divisions, each in line ahead, but for want of training in the crews the
ships lost station, and the formation was very irregular. At four in the
afternoon the wind changed again to the north-west, but it was very light
and the fleet moved slowly. To the westward all day the "Euryalus" and
"Sirius" frigates were seen watching Villeneuve's progress, and just as
darkness was closing in one of the French frigates signalled that there
were twenty sail coming in from the Atlantic.

If there had been more wind, Villeneuve might have crowded all sail for the
Straits, but he could only creep slowly along. Flashes and flares of light
to seaward showed him the British were exchanging night signals in the
darkness. He felt he was closely watched, and he was haunted by the memory
of the disastrous night battle in Aboukir Bay. Though the wind had gone
down the sea was rough, with a heavy swell rolling in from the westward,
the well-known sign of an Atlantic storm that might break on the Spanish
coast before many hours. The flickering signals of the British fleet seemed
to come nearer as the darkness of the moonless autumn night deepened, and
about nine a shadowy mass of sails was seen not far off. It was the
"Euryalus" that had closed in with every light shaded to have a near look
at the enemy.

There was an alarm that the British were about to attack, and Villeneuve
signalled to clear for action and form the prescribed double line of
battle. The sharp drumbeats from the French ships, the lighting up of open
ports, the burning of blue lights, showed Blackwood what was in progress.
It was nearly two hours before the lines were formed, and there was much
confusion, ships slipping into stations not assigned to them; and Gravina,
who had been directed to keep twelve of the best ships as an independent
reserve, or "squadron of observation," placing them in the line instead of
forming independently. Then the fleet went about, reversing its order.
Villeneuve had given up the idea of reaching the Straits without a battle,
and was anxious to have the port of Cadiz under his lee when the crisis
came.

Nelson's fleet, in two columns in line ahead, was drawing nearer and nearer
to his enemy. Between the two fleets the "Euryalus" flitted like a ghost,
observing and reporting every move of the allies, and sometimes coming
quite near them. When the enemy reversed their order of sailing,
Blackwood's ship was for a short time ahead of their double line, and saw
the allied fleet looking like "a lighted street some six miles long."

After midnight the alarm in the Franco-Spanish fleet had passed off, and
all the men who could be spared had turned in. At dawn on the Monday the
French frigate "Hermione" reported the enemy in sight to windward, and at
seven Villeneuve again gave the order to clear for action.

The sight of the allied fleet had called forth a great outburst of
exultation on board of Nelson's ships. "As the day dawned," wrote one of
his officers, "the horizon appeared covered with ships. The whole force of
the enemy was discovered standing to the southward, distant about nine
miles, between us and the coast near Trafalgar. I was awakened by the
cheers of the crew and by their rushing up the hatchways to get a glimpse
of the hostile fleet. The delight they manifested exceeded anything I ever
witnessed."

Opposing fleets separated by only nine miles of sea would in our day be
exchanging long-range fire after a very few minutes of rapid approach. It
was to be nearly six hours before Nelson and Villeneuve came within
fighting distance. The wind had become so slight that the British fleet was
often moving at a speed of barely more than a knot over the grey-green
ocean swells.

Still anxious to fight, with Cadiz as a refuge for disabled ships,
Villeneuve presently signalled to his fleet to go about. After they altered
their order of sailing and began to sail to the northward, moving very
slowly with the wind abeam (close-hauled on the port tack), the course of
the "Victory" was a little north of east, directed at first to a point
about two and a half miles ahead of the leading ship of the enemy. The
"Royal Sovereign," leading the leeward line on a parallel course, was about
a mile to the southward. As the allied fleet was moving so as presently to
cross the course of the British, the result would be that at the moment of
contact the line led by the "Victory" would come in a little ahead of the
enemy's centre, and the "Royal Sovereign" to the rearward of it. But the
courses of the two fleets did not intersect at right angles. Many of the
current plans of the battle, and, strange to say, the great model at the
Royal United Service Institution (though constructed while many Trafalgar
captains were still living), are misleading in representing the British
advance as a perpendicular attack in closely formed line ahead.

In the heavy swell and the light wind the allied fleet had succeeded in
forming only an irregular line when it went about. There were wide gaps,
some of them covered by ships lying in a second line; and the fleet was not
in a straight line from van to rear, but the van formed an obtuse angle
with the rearward ships, the flat apex towards Cadiz, so that some of
Nelson's officers thought the enemy had adopted a crescent-formed array. At
the moment of contact Collingwood's division was advancing on a course that
formed an acute angle of between forty and fifty degrees with the line and
course of the French rear. The result would be that the ships that followed
the "Royal Sovereign" were brought opposite ship after ship of the French
line and could fall upon them almost simultaneously by a slight alteration
of the course. But the French van line lay at a greater angle to the
windward attack, and here the British advance was much nearer the
perpendicular.

Nelson had in his memorandum forbidden any time being wasted in forming a
regular battle-line. The ships were to attack in the order and formation in
which they sailed. If the enemy was to leeward (as was the case now), the
leeward line, led by Collingwood, was to fall upon his rearward ships.
Meanwhile, the windward line, led by the "Victory," would cut through the
enemy just in advance of the centre, and take care that the attack on the
rear was not interfered with. Collingwood was given a free hand as to how
he did his work. Nelson reminded the captains that in the smoke and
confusion of battle set plans were likely to go to pieces, and signals to
be unseen, and he left a wide discretion to every one, noting that no
captain could do wrong if he laid his ship alongside of the nearest of the
enemy. The actual battle was very unlike the diagram in the memorandum,
which showed the British fleet steering a course parallel to the enemy up
to the actual attack, and some of the captains thought that in the
confusion of the fight Nelson and Collingwood had abandoned the plan. But
if its letter was not realized, its spirit was acted upon. Nelson had said
he intended to produce a mêlée, a close fight in which the better training
and the more rapid and steady fire of the British would tell. It was a
novelty that the two admirals each led a line into the fight. The
traditional position for a flagship was in the middle of the admiral's
division, with a frigate near her to assist in showing and passing signals
along the line. To the French officers it seemed a piece of daring rashness
for the flagships to lead the lines, exposing themselves as they closed to
the concentrated fire of several ships. "This method of engaging battle,"
wrote Gicquel des Touches, an officer of the "Intrépide," "was contrary to
ordinary prudence, for the British ships, reaching us one by one, and at a
very slow speed, seemed bound to be overpowered in detail by our superior
forces; but Nelson knew his own fleet--and ours." This was, indeed, the
secret of it all. He knew the distant fire of the enemy would be all but
harmless, and once broadside to broadside, he could depend on crushing his
opponents.

This was why he did not trouble about forming a closely arrayed
battle-line, but let his ships each make her best speed, disregarding the
mere keeping of station and distance, so that though we speak of two
lines, Collingwood's ships trailed out over miles of sea, and Nelson's
seemed to the French to come on in an irregular crowd, the "Victory" in the
leading place, having her two nearest consorts not far astern, but one on
each quarter, and at times nearly abreast. Every stitch of canvas was
spread, the narrow yards being lengthened out with the booms for the
studding-sails. Blackwood had been called on board the "Victory" for a
while during the advance. Nelson asked him to witness his will, and then
talked to him of the coming victory, saying he would not be satisfied with
less than twenty prizes. He was cheerful and talked freely, but all the
while he carefully watched the enemy's course and formation, and personally
directed the course of his own ship. He meant, as he had said before, to
keep the enemy uncertain to the last as to his attack, and as the distance
shortened he headed for a while for the enemy's van before turning for the
dash into his centre. Cheerful as he was, he did not expect to survive the
fight. He disregarded the request of his friends to give the dangerous post
at the head of the line to another ship, and though it was known that the
enemy had soldiers on board, and there would be a heavy musketry fire at
close quarters, he wore on his admiral's uniform a glittering array of
stars and orders.

To the advancing fleet the five miles of the enemy's line presented a
formidable spectacle. We have the impressions of one of the midshipmen of
the "Neptune" in a letter written after the battle, and he tells how--

    "It was a beautiful sight when their line was completed, their
    broadsides turned towards us, showing their iron teeth, and now
    and then trying the range of a shot to ascertain the distance,
    that they might, the moment we came within point-blank (about
    600 yards), open their fire upon our van ships--no doubt with
    the hope of dismasting some of our leading vessels before they
    could close and break their line. Some of the enemy's ships were
    painted like ourselves with double yellow streaks, some with a
    broad single red or yellow streak, others all black, and the
    noble Santissima Trinidad with four distinct lines of red, with
    a white ribbon between them, made her seem to be a superb
    man-of-war, which, indeed, she was."

The Spanish flagship was the largest ship afloat at the time, and she
towered high above her consorts. It was not the first time Nelson had seen
her in battle, for she was in the fleet that he and Jervis defeated twelve
years before off Cape St. Vincent.

As the fleets closed the famous signal, "_England expects that every man
will do his duty!_" flew from the "Victory." At half-past eleven the "Royal
Sovereign," leading the lee line, was within a thousand yards of the enemy,
making for a point a little to rearward of his centre, when the "Fougueux,"
the ship for which she was heading, fired a first trial shot. Other ships
opened fire in succession, and the centre began firing at the "Victory" and
her consorts. Not a shot in reply was fired by the British till they were
almost upon the allies. In the windward line the "Victory," already under
fire from eight ships of the allied van, began the battle by firing her
forward guns on the port side as she turned to attack the French admiral's
flagship, the 100-gun "Bucentaure."

Just as the "Victory" opened fire, at ten minutes to twelve, Collingwood,
in the "Royal Sovereign," had dashed into the allied line. He passed
between the French "Fougueux" and the "Santa Ana," the flagship of the
Spanish Rear-Admiral Alava, sending one broadside crashing into the stern
of the flagship, and with the other raking the bows of the Frenchman. "What
would not Nelson give to be here!" said Collingwood to his flag-captain.
The hearty comradeship of the two admirals is shown by the fact that at
that moment Nelson, pointing to the "Royal Sovereign's" masts towering out
of the dense smoke-cloud, exclaimed, "See how that noble fellow,
Collingwood, takes his ship into action!"

    [Illustration: TRAFALGAR]

Swinging round on the inside of the "Santa Ana," Collingwood engaged her
muzzle to muzzle. For a few minutes of fierce fighting he was alone in the
midst of a ring of close fire, the "Fougueux" raking him astern, and two
Spanish and one French ship firing into his starboard side. The pressure on
him decreased as the other ships of his division, coming rapidly into
action, closed with ship after ship of the allied rear. Further relief was
afforded by Nelson's impetuous attack on the centre.

He was steering the "Victory" to pass astern of the "Bucentaure." Captain
Lucas, of the "Redoutable," the next in the line, saw this, and resolved to
protect his admiral. He closed up so that his bowsprit was almost over the
flagship's stern, and the "Bucentaure's" people called out to him not to
run into them. The "Victory" then passed astern of the "Redoutable," raking
her with a terribly destructive broadside, and then ranged up alongside of
her. Lucas had hoped to board the first ship he encountered. He grappled
the English flagship, and while the soldiers in the French tops kept up a
hot fire on the upper decks, the broadside guns were blazing muzzle to
muzzle below, and a crowd of boarders made gallant but unsuccessful
attempts to cross the gap between the two ships, the plucky Frenchmen being
everywhere beaten back. The "Redoutable's" way had been checked, and
through the gap between her and the "Bucentaure" came the "Neptune" to
engage the French flagship, while the famous "fighting 'Téméraire,'" which
had raced the "Victory" into action, passed astern of the "Redoutable" and
closed with the Spanish "San Justo." Ship after ship of both the British
divisions came up, though there were long gaps in the lines. The
"Belleisle," second of Collingwood's line, was three-quarters of a mile
astern of the "Royal Sovereign" when the first shots were fired. It was
nearly two hours before the rearmost English ships were engaged.

Meanwhile, the leading eight ships of the French van, commanded by Admiral
Dumanoir, in the "Formidable," after firing at the "Victory" and her
immediate consorts, as they came into action, had held on their course, and
were steadily drifting away from the battle. In vain Villeneuve signalled
to them to engage the enemy. Dumanoir, in a lame explanation that he
afterwards wrote, protested that he had no enemy within his reach, and that
with the light wind he found it impossible to work back, though he used
boats to tow his ships round. The effort appears to have been made only
when he had gone so far that he was a mere helpless spectator of the fight,
and his most severe condemnation lies in the fact that without his orders
two of his captains eventually made their way back into the mêlée and,
though it was too late to fight for victory, fought a desperate fight for
the honour of the flag they flew.

Dumanoir's incompetent selfishness left the centre and rear to be crushed
by equal numbers and far superior fighting power. But it was no easy
victory. Outmatched as they were, Frenchmen and Spaniards fought with
desperate courage and heroic determination. Trafalgar is remembered with
pride by all the three nations whose flags flew over its cloud of
battle-smoke.

There is no naval battle regarding which we possess so many detailed
narratives of those who took part in it on both sides, and it would be easy
to compile a long list of stirring incidents and heroic deeds. Though the
battle lasted till about five o'clock, it had been practically decided in
the first hour. In that space of time many of the enemy's ships had been
disabled, two had been actually taken; and, on the other hand, England had
suffered a loss that dimmed the brightness of the victory.

In the first stage of the fight Nelson's flagship was engaged with the
"Redoutable" alone, the two ships locked together. Presently the
"Téméraire" closed on the other side of the Frenchman, and the "Victory"
found herself in action with a couple of the enemy that came drifting
through the smoke on the other side of her, one of them being the giant
"Santisima Trinidad." Before the "Téméraire" engaged her, the "Redoutable"
had been fearfully damaged by the steady fire of the "Victory," and had
also lost heavily in repeated attempts to board the English flagship. Only
a midshipman and four men succeeded in scrambling on board, and they were
at once killed or made prisoners. Captain Lucas, of the "Redoutable," in
the report on the loss of his ship, told how out of a crew of 643 officers
and men, sailors and soldiers, three hundred were killed, and more than two
hundred badly wounded, including most of the officers; the ship was
dismasted, stern-post damaged, and steering gear destroyed, and the stern
on fire; she was leaking badly, and most of the pumps had been shot
through; most of the lower-deck guns were dismounted, some by collision
with the enemy's sides, some by his fire, and two guns had burst. Both
sides of the ship were riddled, in several places two or more ports had
been knocked into one, and the after-deck beams had come down, making a
huge gap in the upper-deck. The "Redoutable," already in a desperate
condition, became a sinking wreck when the "Téméraire" added her fire to
that of the flagship.

But the "Victory" had not inflicted this loss herself unscathed. One of her
masts had gone over the side, and there had been heavy loss on her upper
decks and in her batteries. The wheel was shot away. Several men had been
killed and wounded on the quarter-deck, where Nelson was walking up and
down talking to Captain Hardy. One shot strewed the deck with the bodies of
eight marines. Another smashed through a boat, and passed between Nelson
and Hardy, bruising the latter's foot, and taking away a shoe-buckle. All
the while there came a crackle of musketry from a party of sharpshooters in
the mizen-top of the "Redoutable," only some sixty feet away, and Nelson's
decorations must have made him a tempting target, even if the marksmen did
not know who he was.

At twenty minutes past one he was hit in the left shoulder, the bullet
plunging downwards and backwards into his body. He fell on his face, and
Hardy, turning, saw some of the men picking him up. "They have done for me
at last, Hardy," he said. "I hope not," said the captain. And Nelson
replied: "Yes, my backbone is shot through." But he showed no agitation,
and as the men carried him below he covered his decorations with a
handkerchief, lest the crew should notice them and realize that they had
lost their chief, and he gave Hardy an order to see that tiller-lines were
rigged on the rudder-head, to replace the shattered wheel.

His flag was kept flying, and till the action ended the fleet was not aware
of his loss, and looked to the "Victory" for signals as far as the smoke
allowed. He had not been ten minutes among the wounded on the lowest deck
when the cheers of the crew, following on a sudden lull in the firing, told
him that the "Redoutable" had struck her colours.

Twenty minutes later the "Fougueux," the second prize of the day, was
secured. She had come into action with the "Téméraire" while the latter was
still engaged with the "Redoutable." On the surrender of the latter the
"Téméraire" was able to concentrate her fire on the "Fougueux." Mast after
mast came down, and the sea was pouring into two huge holes on the
water-line when the shattered ship drifted foul of the "Téméraire," and was
grappled by her. Lieutenant Kennedy dashed on board of the Frenchman, at
the head of a rush of boarders, cleared her upper decks, hauled down her
flag, and took possession of the dismasted ship.

Between two and three o'clock no less than nine ships were taken, five
Spanish and four French. Villeneuve's flagship, the "Bucentaure," was one
of these. She struck a few minutes after two o'clock. At the opening of the
battle she had fired four broadsides at the approaching "Victory." Nelson
gave her one shattering broadside in reply at close quarters, as he passed
on to attack the "Redoutable." As this ship's way was stopped, and a space
opened between her and the French flagship, Captain Fremantle brought his
three-decker, the "Neptune," under the "Bucentaure's" stern, raking her as
he passed through the line and ranged up beside her. Then Pellew brought
the "Conqueror" into action beside her on the other side, and as chance
allowed her guns to bear the "Victory" was at times able to join in the
attack. French accounts of the battle tell of the terrible destruction
caused on board the "Bucentaure" by this concentrated fire. More than two
hundred were _hors de combat_, most of them killed. Almost every officer
and man on the quarter-deck was hit, Villeneuve himself being slightly
wounded. The men could hardly stand to the guns, and at last their fire was
masked by mast after mast coming down with yards, rigging and sails hanging
over the gun muzzles. Villeneuve declared his intention of transferring his
flag to another ship, but was told that every boat had been knocked to
splinters, and his attendant frigate, which might have helped him in this
emergency, had been driven out of the mêlée. As the last of the masts went
over the side at two o'clock, the "Conqueror" ceased firing, and hailed the
"Bucentaure" with a summons to surrender. Five minutes later her flag,
hoisted on an improvised staff, was taken down, and Captain Atcherley, of
the "Conqueror's" marines, went on board the French flagship, and received
the surrender of Admiral Villeneuve, his staff-officer Captain Prigny,
Captain Magendie, commanding the ship, and General de Contamine, the
officer in command of the 4000 French troops embarked on the fleet.

Next in the line ahead of the "Bucentaure" lay the giant "Santisima
Trinidad," carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Cisneros. As the fleets
closed, she had exchanged fire with her four tiers of guns with several of
the British ships. When the mêlée began she came drifting down into the
thick of the fight. For a while she was engaged with the "Victory" in the
dense fog of smoke, where so many ships were tearing each other to pieces
in the centre. The high-placed guns of the "Trinidad's" upper tier cut up
the "Victory's" rigging and sent down one of her masts. The English
flagship was delivered from the attack of her powerful antagonist by the
"Trinidad" drifting clear of her. By this time Fremantle was attacking her
with the "Neptune," supported by the "Colossus." At half-past one a third
ship joined in the close attack on the towering "Trinidad," which every
captain who got anywhere near her was anxious to make his prize. This new
ally was the battleship "Africa." During the night she had run out to the
northward of the British fleet. Nelson had signalled to her early in the
day to rejoin as soon as possible, but her captain, Digby, needed no
pressing. He was crowding sail to join in the battle. He ran down past
Dumanoir's ships of the van squadron, putting a good many shots into them,
but receiving no damage from their ill-aimed fire. Then he steered into the
thick of the fight, taking for his guide the tall masts of the "Trinidad."
At 1.30 he opened fire on her. At 1.58 all the masts of the "Trinidad" came
down together, the enormous mass of spars, rigging, and sails going over
her side into the water as she rolled to the swell. She had already lost
some four hundred men killed and wounded (Admiral Cisneros was among the
latter). Many of her guns had been silenced, and the fall of the masts
masked a whole broadside. She now ceased firing and surrendered. In the log
of the "Africa" it is noted that Lieutenant Smith was sent with a party to
take possession of her. He does not seem to have succeeded in getting on
board, for the "Trinidad" drifted with silent guns for at least two hours
after, with no prize crew on board. It was at the end of the battle that
the "Prince" sent a party to board her and took her in tow.

Another flagship, the three-decker "Santa Ana," carrying the flag of
Rear-Admiral Alava, became the prize of the "Royal Sovereign." Collingwood
had opened the fight by breaking the line astern of her. His raking
broadside as he swept past her had put scores of her crew out of action.
When he laid his ship alongside of her to leeward, it was evident from the
very first that she could not meet the English ship on anything like equal
terms. In a quarter of an hour his flag-captain, Rotherham, grasped
Collingwood's hand, saying: "I congratulate you, sir. Her fire is
slackening, and she must soon strike." But the "Santa Ana" fought to the
last, till only a single gun, now here, now there, answered the steady,
pounding fire of the "Royal Sovereign's" broadside. At 2.30 her colours
came down. Collingwood told his lieutenant to send the Spanish admiral on
board his own ship, but word was sent back that Alava was too badly wounded
to be moved. More than four hundred of the "Santa Ana's" crew had been
killed and wounded.

The "Tonnant," third ship in Collingwood's line, and one of the prizes
taken in the Battle of the Nile, captured another flagship, that of the
gallant Rear-Admiral Magon, the "Algéciras." As the "Tonnant" went through
the allied line, after exchanging fire with the "Fougueux" and the
"Monarca," the "Algéciras" raked her astern, killing some forty men. The
"Tonnant" then swung round and engaged the "Algéciras," and was crossing
her bows when Magon, trying to run his ship alongside her, to board,
entangled his bowsprit in the main rigging of the English ship. She was
thus held fast with only a few forward guns bearing, while most of the
broadside of the "Tonnant" was raking her. From the foretop of the
"Algéciras" a party of marksmen fired down on the English decks and wounded
Captain Tyler badly. Admiral Magon, in person, tried to lead a strong body
of boarders over his bows into the English ship. Mortally wounded, he was
carried aft, and of his men only one set foot on the "Tonnant." This man
was at once stabbed with a pike, and would have been killed if an officer
had not rescued him.

The ships lay so close that the flashes of the "Tonnant's" guns set fire to
the bows of the "Algéciras," and the flames spread to both ships. A couple
of British sailors dragged the fire-hose over the hammock-nettings, and
while the guns were still in action they worked to keep down and extinguish
the flames. One by one the masts of the "Algéciras" went into the sea,
carrying the unfortunate soldiers in the tops with them. In a little more
than half an hour she lost 436 men, including most of her officers. Her
position was hopeless, and at last she struck her colours. The prize crew
that boarded her found Magon lying dead on the deck, with his captain,
badly wounded, beside him.

The "Bellerophon" (famous for her fight at the Nile, adding to her record
of hard fighting to-day, and destined to be the ship that was to receive
the conqueror of Europe as a prisoner) followed the "Tonnant" into action,
and found herself engaged with the Spanish "Monarca" on one side, and the
French "Aigle" on the other. She came in collision with the "Aigle," and
their yards locked together. The "Bellerophon's" rigging was cut to pieces;
two of her masts were carried away, and numbers of her crew were struck
down, her captain being wounded early in the day. A little after half-past
one the "Aigle" drifted clear, and was engaged by, and in half an hour
forced to strike to, the "Defiance." Meanwhile the "Bellerophon" was hard
at work with two Spanish ships, the "Monarca" and the "Bahama," and so
effectually battered them that at three o'clock the former was a prize, and
the other surrendered half an hour later.

The "Tonnant," after her capture of Magon's ship, shared in the victory
over another brave opponent, Commodore Churucca, and his ship, the "San
Juan Nepomuceno." Churucca was the youngest flag-officer in the Spanish
navy. He had won a European reputation by explorations in the Pacific and
on the South American coasts. Keen in his profession, recklessly
courageous, deeply religious, he was an ideal hero of the Spanish navy, in
which he is still remembered as "El Gran Churucca," the "great Churucca,"
who "died like the Cid." He had no illusions, but told his friends he was
going to defeat and death, and he knew that when he left Cadiz he was
bidding a last farewell to the young wife he had lately married.

"The French admiral does not know his business," he said to his first
lieutenant, as he watched the van division holding its course, while the
two English lines rushed to the attack. As the English closed with the
Spanish rear, Churucca's ship came into close action with the "Defiance,"
and was then attacked in succession by the "Dreadnought" and the "Tonnant."
The "San Juan" fought till half her men were _hors de combat_, several guns
dismounted, and two of the masts down. As long as Churucca lived the
unequal fight was maintained. For a while he seemed to have a charmed life,
as he passed from point to point, encouraging his men. He was returning to
his quarter-deck, when a ball shattered one of his legs. "It is
nothing--keep on firing," he said, and at first he refused to leave the
deck, lying on the planking, with the shattered limb roughly bandaged. He
sent for his second in command, and was told he had just been killed.
Another officer, though wounded, took over the active command when at last
Churucca, nearly dead from loss of blood, was carried below. He gave a last
message for his wife, sent a final order that the ship should be fought
till she sank, and then said he must think only of God and the other world.
As he expired the "San Juan" gave up the hopeless fight. The three ships
all claimed her as their prize, but it was the "Dreadnought" that took
possession.

The French "Swiftsure," once English, was won back by the "Colossus," after
a fight in which the "Orion" helped for a while. With her capture one-third
of the enemy's whole force, including several flagships, was in English
hands. The victory was won; it was now only a question of making it more
and more complete.

Shortly after three o'clock the Spanish 80-gun ship "Argonauta" struck to
the "Belleisle," which had been aided in her attack by the English
"Swiftsure." A few minutes later the "Leviathan" took another big Spaniard,
the "San Agustino," carrying her with a rush of boarders. It was about four
o'clock that, after an hour of hard fighting, the "San Ildefonso" hauled
down her colours to the "Defence." About this time the French "Achille" was
seen to be ablaze and ceased firing. In the earlier stages of the fight she
had been engaged successively with the "Polyphemus," "Defiance," and
"Swiftsure." Her captain and several of her officers and nearly 400 men had
been killed and wounded when she was brought to close action by the
"Prince." Her fore-rigging caught fire, and the mast coming down across the
decks started a blaze in several places, and the men, driven from the upper
deck by the English fire, had to abandon their attempts to save their ship.
She was well alight when at last she struck her colours, and the "Prince,"
aided by the little brig "Pickle," set to work to save the survivors of her
crew. She blew up after the battle. The "Berwick" was another ship taken
before four o'clock, but I cannot trace the details of her capture.

While the battle still raged fiercely, Admiral Dumanoir, in the
"Formidable," was steering away to the north-westward, followed by the
"Mont Blanc," "Duguay-Trouin," and "Scipion." But two ships of his
division, the "Neptuno" and the "Intrépide," had disregarded his orders,
and turned back to join in the fight, working the ships' heads round by
towing them with boats. The "Intrépide" led. Her captain, Infernet, was a
rough Provençal sailor, who had fought his way from the forecastle to the
quarter-deck. Indignant at Dumanoir's conduct, he had early in the battle
given orders to steer for the thickest of it. "_Lou capo sur lou
'Bucentaure'!_" ("Head her for the 'Bucentaure'!") he shouted in his native
patois. He arrived too late to fight for victory, but he fought for the
honour of his flag. After engaging several British ships, Infernet struck
to the "Orion." An officer of the "Conqueror" (which had taken part in the
fight with the "Intrépide") wrote: "Her captain surrendered after one of
the most gallant defences I ever witnessed. His name was Infernet, and it
deserves to be recorded by all who admire true heroism. The 'Intrépide' was
the last ship that struck her colours." The Spanish ship that had followed
the "Intrépide" into action, the 80-gun "Neptuno," had shortly before been
forced to strike to the "Minotaur" and the "Spartiate," another of the
prizes of Aboukir Bay.

Before these last two surrenders completed the long list of captured ships,
Nelson had passed away. The story of his death in the cockpit of the
"Victory" is too well known to need repetition. Before he died the cheers
of his crew and the messages brought to him had told him of capture after
capture, and assured him that his triumph was complete. As the firing
ceased, Collingwood took over the command of the fleet, and transferred his
flag from his own shattered and dismasted ship, the "Royal Sovereign," to
Blackwood's smart frigate, the "Euryalus."

When the "Intrépide" struck, seventeen ships of the allied fleet had been
taken, one, the "Achille," was in a blaze, and soon to blow up; four were
in flight far away to the north-west, eleven were making for Cadiz, all
bearing the marks of hard hitting during the fight. Some desultory firing
at the nearest fugitives ended the battle. Crowds on the breakwater of
Cadiz and the nearest beaches had watched all the afternoon the great bank
of smoke on the horizon, and listened to the rumbling thunder of the
cannonade. After sunset ship after ship came in, bringing news of disaster,
and all the night wounded men were being conveyed to the hospitals.

More than half the allied fleet had been taken or destroyed. The four ships
that escaped with Dumanoir were captured a few days later by a squadron
under Sir Richard Strachan. The French ships that escaped into Cadiz were
taken possession of by the Spanish insurgents, when Spain rose against the
French, and Cadiz joined the revolt.

As the battle ended, the British fleet was, to use the expression of the
"Neptune's" log, "in all directions." The sun was going down; the sky was
overcast, and the rising swell and increasing wind told of the coming
storm. Most of the prizes had been dismasted; many of them were leaking
badly; some of the ships that had taken them were in almost as damaged a
condition, and many of them were short-handed, with heavy losses in battle
and detachments sent on board the captured vessels. The crews were busy
clearing the decks, getting up improvised jury masts, and repairing the
badly cut-up rigging, where the masts still stood. Nelson's final order had
been to anchor to ride out the expected gale. Collingwood doubted if this
would be safer than trying to make Gibraltar, and he busied himself getting
the scattered fleet and prizes together, and tacking to the south-westward.

The gale that swept all the coasts of Western Europe caught the disabled
fleet with the hostile shore under its lee. Only four of the prizes, and
those the poorest ships of the lot, ever saw Gibraltar. Ship after ship
went down, others were abandoned and burnt, others drove ashore. In these
last instances the British prize crews were rescued and kindly treated by
the Spanish coast population. One ship, the "Algéciras," was retaken by the
French prisoners, and carried into Cadiz. Another, the big "Santa Ana," was
recaptured as she drifted helplessly off the port.

But though there were few trophies left after the great storm, Trafalgar
had finally broken the naval power of Napoleon, freed England from all fear
of invasion, and given her the undisputed empire of the sea. Yet there were
only half-hearted rejoicings at home. The loss of Nelson seemed a dear
price to pay even for such a victory.

Some 2500 men were killed and wounded in the victorious fleet. Of the
losses of the Allies it is difficult to give an estimate. Every ship that
was closely engaged suffered severely, and hundreds of wounded went down
in several of those that sank in the storm. For weeks after search-parties,
riding along the shores from Cadiz to Cape Trafalgar gathered every day a
grim harvest of corpses drifted to land by the Atlantic tides. The allied
loss was at least 7000 men, and may have been considerably greater.

The news came to England, just after something like a panic had been caused
by the tidings of the surrender of a whole Austrian army at Ulm. It reached
Napoleon in the midst of his triumphs, to warn him that his power was
bounded by the seas that washed the shores of the Continent. Well did
Meredith say that in his last great fight Nelson "drove the smoke of
Trafalgar to darken the blaze of Austerlitz."



    CHAPTER X

    THE COMING OF STEAM AND ARMOURED NAVIES

    THE FIGHT IN HAMPTON ROADS

    MARCH, 1862


Trafalgar was the greatest fight of the sailing-ships. There were later
engagements which were fought under sail, but no battle of such decisive
import. It was a fitting close to a heroic era in the history of naval war,
a period of not much more than four centuries, in thousands of years.
Before it, came the long ages in which the fighting-ship depended more upon
the oar than the sail, or on the oar exclusively. After it, came our
present epoch of machine-propelled warships, bringing with it wide-sweeping
changes in construction, armament, and naval tactics.

Inventive pioneers were busy with projects for the coming revolution in
naval war while Nelson was still living. The Irish-American engineer,
Fulton, had tried to persuade Napoleon to adopt steam propulsion, and had
astonished the Parisians by showing them his little steamer making its way
up the Seine with clumsy paddles churning up the waters and much sooty
smoke pouring from its tall, thin funnel. The Emperor thought it was a
scientific toy. Old admirals--most conservative of men--declared that a
gunboat with a few long "sweeps" or oars would be a handier fighting-ship
in a calm, and if there was any wind a spread of sail was better than all
the American's tea-kettle devices. Fulton went back to America to run
passenger steamers on the Hudson, and tell unbelieving commodores and
captains that the future of the sea power lay with the "tea-kettle ships."

In the days of the long peace that followed Waterloo, and the great
industrial development that came with it, the steam-engine and the
paddle-steamer made their way into the commercial fleets of the world,
slowly and timidly at first, for it was a long time before a steamship
could be provided with enough efficient engine power to enable her to show
the way to a smart clipper-built sailing-ship, and the early marine engines
were fearfully uneconomical. Steam had obtained a recognized position in
small ships for short voyages, ferry-boats, river steamers, and coasting
craft, but on the open ocean the sailing-ship still held its own. An
eminent scientist proved to demonstration that no steamship would ever be
able to cross the Atlantic under steam alone. He showed that to do so it
would be necessary for her to carry a quantity of coal exceeding her entire
tonnage capacity, and he expressed his readiness to eat the first steamer
that made the voyage from Liverpool to New York. But he lived to regret his
offer.

In 1838 the "Great Western" and the "Sirius" inaugurated the steam
passenger service across the Atlantic, and the days of the liner began. By
this time paddle-wheel gunboats were finding their way into the British
navy, and other powers were beginning to follow the example of England.
Steamships were first in action in 1840, when Sir Charles Napier employed
them side by side with sailing-ships that had shared the triumphs of
Nelson. This was in the attack on Acre, when England intervened to check
the revolt of the Pasha of Egypt, Ibrahim, against his suzerain, the
Sultan.

But still the steamship was regarded as an auxiliary. The great
three-decker battleships, the smart sailing frigates, were the main
strength of navies. The paddle-steamer was a defective type of warship,
because her paddle-boxes and paddle-wheels, and her high-placed engines,
presented a huge target singularly vulnerable. A couple of shots might
disable in a minute her means of propulsion. True she had masts and sails,
but if she could not use her engines, the paddles would prove a drag upon
all her movements.

It was the invention of the screw-propeller that made steam propulsion for
warships really practical. Brunel was one of the great advocates of the
change. He was a man who was in many ways before his time, and he had to
encounter a more than usual amount of official conservatist obstruction.
For years the veteran officers who advised the Admiralty opposed and
ridiculed the invention. When at last it was fitted to a gunboat, the
"Rattler," it was obvious that it provided the best means of applying steam
propulsion to the purposes of naval war. The propeller was safe under
water, and the engines could be placed low down in the ship.

By 1854, when the Crimean War began, both the British and French navies
possessed a number of steam-propelled line-of-battle ships, frigates, and
gunboats, fitted with the screw. They had also some old paddle-ships. But
in the fleets dispatched to the Baltic and the Black Sea there were still a
considerable number of sailing-ships, and a fleet still did most of its
work under sail. Even the steamships had only what we should now describe
as auxiliary engines. The most powerful line-of-battle ships in the British
navy had engines of only 400 to 600 horsepower.[17] With such relatively
small power they still had to depend chiefly on their sails. Tug-boats were
attached to the fleets to tow the sailing-ships, when the steamships were
using their engines.

    [17] Compare this with 23,000 horse-power of the "Dreadnought's"
    turbine engines.

Another change was taking place in the armament of warships and coast
defences. The rifled cannon was still in the experimental stage, but
explosive shells, which in Nelson's days were only fired from mortars at
very short range, had now been adapted to guns mounted on the broadside
and the coast battery. Solid shot were still largely used, but the coming
of the shell meant that there would be terrible loss in action in the
crowded gun-decks, and inventors were already proposing that ships should
be armoured to keep these destructive missiles from penetrating their
sides.

The attack on the sea front of Sebastopol by the allied fleets on 17
October, 1854, was the event that brought home to the minds of even the
most conservative the necessity of a great change in warship construction.
It rang the knell of the old wooden walls, and led to the introduction of
armour-clad navies.

The idea of protecting ships from the fire of artillery and musketry by
iron plating was an old one, and the wonder is that it did not much earlier
receive practical application. The Dutch claim to have been the pioneers of
ironclad building more than three hundred years ago. During the famous
siege of Antwerp by the Spaniards in 1585 the people of the city built a
huge flat-bottomed warship, armoured with heavy iron plates, which they
named the "Finis Belli," a boastful expression of the hope that she would
end the war. An old print of the "Finis Belli" shows a four-masted ship
with a high poop and forecastle, but with a low freeboard amidships. On
this lower deck, taking up half the length of the ship, is an armoured
citadel, with port-holes for four heavy guns on each side. The roof of the
citadel has a high bulwark, loopholed for musketry. On three of the masts
there are also crow's-nests or round tops for musketeers.

Heavily weighted with her armour, the ship had a deep draught of water, and
probably steered badly. In descending the Scheldt to attack the Spaniards
she ran aground in a hopeless position under their batteries, and fell into
the hands of the Spanish commander, the Duke of Parma. He kept the "Finis
Belli" "as a curiosity" till the end of the siege, and then had her
dismantled. If she had scored a success, armoured navies would no doubt
have made their appearance in the seventeenth century.

Between the days of the "Finis Belli" and the coming of the first ironclads
there were numerous projects of inventors. In 1805 a Scotchman, named
Gillespie, proposed the mounting of guns and "ponderous mortars" in
revolving armoured turrets, both in fortifications on shore and on floating
batteries. Two years later Abraham Bloodgood, of New York, designed a
floating battery with an armoured turret. During the war between England
and the United States in 1812 an American engineer, John Steevens, who was
a man in advance of his time, proposed the construction of a
steam-propelled warship, with a ram-bow, and with her guns protected by
shields. He prepared a design, but failed to persuade the Navy Department
that it was practicable. His son, Robert L. Steevens, improved the design,
made experiments with guns, projectiles, and armour plates, and at last in
1842 obtained a vote of Congress for the building of the "Steevens
battery," a low-freeboard ram, steam-propelled, and armed with eight heavy
guns mounted on her centre-line, on turntables protected by armoured
breastworks. The methods of the American navy were very dilatory,
professional opinion was opposed to Steevens, whose project was regarded as
that of a "crank," and the ship was left unfinished for years. She was
still on the stocks when the Civil War began. Then other types came into
fashion, and she was broken up on the ways.

The man who introduced the armour-clad ship into the world's navies was the
Emperor Napoleon III, the same who introduced rifled field artillery into
the armies of the world. Like other great revolutions, this epoch-making
change in naval war began in a small way. What forced the question upon the
Emperor's attention was the failure of the combined French and English
fleets in the attack on the sea-forts of Sebastopol on 17 October, 1854.
The most powerful ships in both navies had engaged the sea-forts, and
suffered such loss and injury that it was obvious that if the attack had
been continued the results would have been disastrous. Some means must be
found of keeping explosive shells out of a ship's gun-decks, if they were
ever to engage land batteries on anything like equal terms. Under the
Emperor's directions the French naval architects designed four ships of a
new type, which were rapidly constructed in the Imperial dockyards. They
were "floating batteries," not intended to take part in fleet actions, but
only to be used against fortifications. Their broad beam, heavy lines,
rounded bows, and engines of only 225 horsepower, condemned them to slow
speed, just sufficient to place them in firing position. They were armoured
with 4-inch iron and armed with eighteen 50-pounder guns. The port-holes
had heavy iron ports, which were closed while the guns were reloading.

Three of these floating batteries, the "Dévastation," "Lave," and
"Tonnant," came into action against the shore batteries at Kinburn on 17
October, 1855 (the anniversary of the attack on the Sebastopol sea-forts).
There was some difficulty in getting into position, as they could just
crawl along, and steered abominably. But when they opened fire at 800 yards
at 9 a.m. they silenced and wrecked the Russian batteries in eighty-five
minutes, themselves suffering only trifling damage, and not losing a dozen
men.

It was the first and last fight of the floating batteries. But while in
England men were still discussing the problem of the sea-going ironclad,
the French constructors were solving it. They had to look not to
parliamentary and departmental committees, but to the initiative and
support of an intelligent autocrat. So events went quicker in France. In
1858 the keels of the first three French sea-going armour-clads were laid
down at Toulon, and next year the armoured frigate "Gloire," the first of
European ironclads, was launched, and every dockyard in France was busy
constructing armour-clads or rebuilding and armouring existing ships.

France had gained a start in the building of the new type of warship. When
the "Dreadnought" was launched, it was said somewhat boastfully that
single-handed she could destroy the whole North Sea fleet of Germany. It
might be more truly said of the "Gloire" that she could have met
single-handed and destroyed the British Channel or Mediterranean Fleet of
the day. It was the moment when tension with France over the Orsini
conspiracy had caused a widespread anticipation of war between that country
and England, and had called the Volunteer force into existence to repel
invasion. But the true defence must be in the command of the sea, and the
first English ironclad, the old "Warrior," was laid down at the Thames
Ironworks. Work was begun in June, 1859, and the ship was launched in
December, 1860. She was modelled on the old steam frigates, for the special
types of modern battleships and armoured cruisers were still in the future.
She was built of iron, with unarmoured ends and 4 1/4-inch iron plating on
a backing of 18 inches of teak over 200 feet amidships of her total length
of 380 feet. There was a race of ironclad building between France and
England, in which the latter won easily, and it was only for a very short
time that our sea supremacy was endangered by the French Emperor's naval
enterprise. But when the English and French fleets entered the Gulf of
Mexico in 1861, our ships were all wooden walls, while the French admiral's
flag flew on the ironclad "Normandie," the first armoured ship that ever
crossed the Atlantic.

Notwithstanding this fact, American writers are fond of saying, and many
Englishmen believe, that the introduction of armoured navies was the
outcome of the American Civil War of the early 'sixties. All that is true
is that the War of Secession gave the world the spectacle of the first
fight between armour-clad ships, and the experiences of that war greatly
influenced the direction taken in the general policy of designers of
ironclad warships.

    [Illustration: H.M.S. WARRIOR, THE FIRST BRITISH IRONCLAD]

Towards the close of the Crimean War a Swedish engineer settled in the
United States, John Ericsson, had sent to the Emperor Napoleon a design for
a small armoured turret-ship of what was afterwards known as the Monitor
type. He wrote to the Emperor that he asked for no reward or profit, for he
was only anxious to help France in her warfare with Russia, the hereditary
foe of Sweden. The war was drawing to a close, and for his future projects
the Emperor wanted large sea-going ships, not light-draught vessels for
work in the shallows of the Baltic. So Ericsson received a complimentary
letter of thanks and a medal, and kept his design for later use. His
opportunity came in the first months of the Civil War.

In the fifty years between the war of 1812 and the outbreak of the
struggle between North and South, the American navy had been greatly
neglected. It was a favourite theory in the United States that a navy
could be improvised, and that the great thing would be, in case of war,
to send out swarms of privateers to prey upon the enemy's commerce. Very
little money was spent on the navy or the dockyards. On the navy list
there were a number of old ships, some of which had fought against
England in 1812. There were a number of small craft for revenue purposes,
a lot of sailing-ships, and a few fairly modern steam frigates and
smaller steam vessels depending largely on sail-power, and known as
"sloops-of-war"--really small frigates.

While the dockyards of Europe had long been busy with the construction of
the new armoured navies, the United States had not a single ironclad. Both
parties to the quarrel had to improvise up-to-date ships.

Sea power was destined to play a great part in the conflict. As soon as the
Washington Government realized that it was going to be a serious and
prolonged war, not an affair of a few weeks, a general plan of operations
was devised, of which the essential feature was the isolation of the
Southern Confederacy. When the crisis came in 1861 the United States had
done little to open up and occupy the vast territories between the Rocky
Mountains and the Mississippi Valley. The population of the States was
chiefly to be found between the Mississippi and the Atlantic, and in that
region lay the states of the Confederacy. They were mainly agricultural
communities, with hardly any factories. For arms, munitions of war, and
supplies of many kinds they would have to depend on importation from beyond
their frontiers. It was therefore decided that while the United States
armies operated on the northern or land frontier of the Confederacy, its
sea frontiers on the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico should be closely
blockaded, and its river frontier, the line of the Mississippi, should be
seized and held by a mixed naval and military force. For these last
operations troops on the banks and gunboats on the river had to combine. It
was said at the time, that on the Mississippi army and navy were like the
two blades of a pair of shears, useless apart, but very effective when
working together.

Strange to say, it was not the industrial North, but the agricultural
South, that put the first ironclad into commission as a weapon against the
coast blockade. When the Secessionist forces seized the Navy Yard at
Norfolk, in Virginia, a fine steam frigate, the "Merrimac" (built in 1855),
was under repair there. The guard of the dockyard set her on fire before
surrendering, but the flames were extinguished, and the "Merrimac," with
her upper works badly damaged, was in possession of the Southerners. A
Northern squadron of frigates and gunboats, steam and sailing ships,
anchored in Hampton Roads, the landlocked sheet of water into which runs
not only the Elizabeth River, which gives access to Norfolk, but also the
James River, the waterway to Richmond, then the Confederate capital. The
northern shores of Hampton Roads were held by Federal troops, the southern
by the Confederates. Presently spies brought to Washington the news that
the "Rebels" were preparing a terrible new kind of warship at Norfolk to
destroy the squadron in Hampton Roads and raise the blockade.

The news was true. The Confederates had cut down the "Merrimac" nearly to
the water's edge and built a solid deck over her at this level. Then on the
deck they erected a huge deck-house, with sloping sides pierced with
port-holes for ten heavy smooth-bore guns. The funnel passed up through the
roof of the deck-house. There were no masts, only a flagstaff. The flat
deck space, fore and aft, and the sloping sides of the deck-house were to
be armoured with four inches of iron, but there were no armour plates
available. Railway iron was collected and rolled into long narrow strips,
and these were bolted on the structure in two layers, laid crosswise in
different directions. An armoured conning-tower, low and three-sided, was
built on the front of the deck-house roof. The bow was armed with a mass of
iron, in order to revive the ancient method of attack by ramming. Thus
equipped the "Merrimac" was commissioned, under the command of Commodore
Buchanan, and renamed the "Confederate States' ironclad steam-ram
'Virginia,'" but the ship was always generally known by her former name.

At noon on Saturday, 8 March, 1862, the "Merrimac" started on her voyage
down the Elizabeth River. It was to be at once her trial trip and her first
fighting expedition. She was to attack and destroy the Federal blockading
fleet in Hampton Roads. Up to the last moment the ship was crowded with
working men. They were cleared out of her as she cast off from the quay. As
the "Merrimac" went down the river the officers were telling off the men to
their stations. Not one of her guns had ever been fired. There had been a
few hurried drills. Everything was improvised.

The first disappointment was to find that with the engines doing their best
she could only make five knots. She steered badly, answering her helm
slowly and turning on a wide circle. As one of her officers put it, "she
was as unmanageable as a water-logged vessel." She drew 22 feet of water,
so that she had to keep to the narrow channel in the middle of the river,
and the risk of getting hopelessly aground was serious.

The Confederate troops crowded the batteries on either bank, and cheered
the "Merrimac" as she went slowly down. It was a fine day, with bright
sunshine and absolutely no wind, and the broad stretch of water in Hampton
Roads was like a pond. At the same time a small squadron of Confederate
gunboats came down the James River to co-operate in the attack. These ships
were the "Yorktown" (12 guns), the "Jamestown" (2 guns), and the "Teaser"
(1 gun). Two other gunboats, the "Beaufort" and the "Raleigh," followed the
"Merrimac." But the chief hope of the attack was placed upon the ironclad.

The nine vessels of the blockading fleet lay along the north side of
Hampton Roads, from the point at Newport News to Old Point Comfort, where
the Roads open on Chesapeake Bay. They were strung out over a distance of
about eight miles. The shore on that side was held by the Federals, and the
point at Newport News bristled with batteries. Near the point were anchored
the sailing frigate "Congress," of 50 guns, and the sloop "Cumberland," a
full-rigged three-master, armed with 30 guns. On board the Federal ships
there was not the remotest expectation of attack. Clothes were drying in
the rigging. A crowd of boats lay alongside. It was known that the
Confederates had been busy converting the old "Merrimac" into an armoured
ram at Norfolk Navy Yard, but it was not believed that she was yet ready
for action. The men had just eaten their dinners, and were having a pipe,
when the first alarm was raised. By the wharf at Newport News lay a
tug-boat, the "Zouave," which had been armed with a 30-pounder gun, and was
rated as a gunboat and tender to the fleet. Her captain noticed the smoke
of steamers coming down the Elizabeth River, and cast off from the wharf
and went alongside the "Cumberland." The officer of the watch told him to
run across to the river mouth and find out what was coming down from
Norfolk.

    [Illustration: HAMPTON ROADS (1ST. DAY) "MERRIMAC" COMES OUT.
    SINKS "CUMBERLAND" & BURNS "CONGRESS"]

    [Illustration: HAMPTON ROADS (2ND. DAY) DUEL BETWEEN
    "MONITOR" & "MERRIMAC"]

"It did not take us long to find out," he says, "for we had not gone over
two miles when we saw what to all appearances looked like the roof of a
very big barn belching forth smoke as from a chimney. We were all divided
in opinion as to what was coming. The boatswain's mate was the first to
make out the Confederate flag, and then we all guessed it was the
'Merrimac' come at last."

The little "Zouave" fired half a dozen shots, which fell short. The
"Merrimac" took no notice of this demonstration, but steadily held her way.
Then the "Cumberland" signalled to the "Zouave" to come back, and she ran
past the anchored warships and under shelter of the batteries. These were
now opening fire on the Confederate gunboats issuing from the James River.
The "Congress" and "Cumberland" had cleared for action and weighed anchor.
Other ships of the fleet had taken the alarm, and were coming up into the
Roads to help their consorts. The Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point
opened fire at long range against these ships as they stood into the Roads.

The "Merrimac" was steering straight for the "Cumberland," in grim silence,
her unarmoured consorts keeping well astern. When the range was about
three-quarters of a mile the two Federal ships opened fire with the heavy
guns mounted on pivots on their upper decks, and the shore batteries also
brought some guns to bear. A heavy cannonade from sea and shore was now
echoing over the landlocked waters, but the "Merrimac" fired not a gun in
reply. A few cannon-shot struck her sloping armoured sides, and rebounded
with a ringing clang. The rest ricochetted harmlessly over the water,
throwing up sparkling geysers of foam in the bright sunlight.

At last, when the range was only some 500 yards, the bow-gun of the
"Merrimac" was fired at the "Cumberland," with an aim so true that it
killed or wounded most of the men at one of her big pivot-guns. A moment
after the ram was abeam of the "Congress," and fired her starboard battery
of four guns into her at deadly close range. With the projectiles from 25
guns of the "Congress" and 15 of the "Cumberland" rattling on her armour,
riddling her funnel, and destroying davits, rails, and deck-fittings, the
"Merrimac" steamed straight for the "Cumberland," which made an ineffectual
attempt to avoid the coming collision. At the last moment some men were
killed and wounded in the gun-deck of the ram by shots entering a
port-hole. Then came a grinding crash as the iron ram of the "Merrimac"
struck the "Cumberland" almost at right angles on the starboard side under
her fore-rigging. On board the Confederate ship the shock was hardly felt.
But the "Cumberland" heeled over with the blow, and righted herself again
as the "Merrimac" reversed her engines and cleared her, leaving a huge
breach in the side of her enemy. The ram had crushed in several of her
frames and made a hole in her side "big enough to drive a coach and horses
through." The water was pouring into her like a mill-race.

From the "Merrimac," lying close alongside with silent guns, came a hail
and a summons to surrender. From the deck of the "Cumberland" her
commander, Morris, replied with a curt refusal. The firing began again; the
"Cumberland's" men, driven from the gun-deck by the inrush of rising water,
took refuge on the upper deck. Some jumped overboard and began swimming
ashore. Others kept her two pivot-guns in action for a few minutes. Then
with a lurch she went down. Boats from the shore saved a few of her people.
Those who watched from the batteries could hardly believe their eyes as
they saw the masts of the warship sticking out of the water where a few
minutes ago the "Cumberland" had waited in confidence for the attack of the
improvised "rebel" ironclad.

As her adversary went down, the "Merrimac" turned slowly to menace the
"Congress" with the same swift destruction. She took no notice of the
harmless cannonade from the shore. Lieutenant Smith, who commanded the
"Congress," had realized that collision with the enemy meant destruction,
rapid and inevitable, and decided that his best chance was to get into
shoal water under the batteries. He had slipped his cable, shaken out some
of his sails, and signalled to the tug-boat "Zouave" to come to his help.
The "Zouave" made fast to the "Congress" on the land side, but she had not
moved far when the ship grounded within easy range of the "Merrimac's"
guns. These were already in action against her.

The leading ship of the seaward Federal squadron, the frigate "Minnesota,"
had come in within long range, and opened on the "Merrimac" and the
gunboats. But she had only fired a few shots when she also ran aground on
the edge of the main channel, but in such a position that some of her guns
could still be brought to bear. Taking no notice of this more distant foe,
the "Merrimac" devoted all her attention to the "Congress." She sent a
broadside into the stranded frigate, and then passing under her stern,
raked her fore and aft and set her on fire. Lieutenant Smith, of the
"Congress," was badly wounded. Lieutenant Prendergast, who succeeded to the
command, decided that with his ship aground and the enemy able quietly to
cannonade her without coming under fire of most of her guns, to prolong the
fight would be to waste life uselessly. After consulting his wounded chief
he dipped his colours and displayed a white flag. The little "Zouave" cast
off from the frigate, and as she cleared her, fired a single shot from her
one gun at the "Merrimac," and then ran down to the "Minnesota." This shot
led afterwards to a false report that the "Congress" had reopened fire
treacherously after surrendering.

Civil war has often been described as fratricidal. In this action between
the "Congress" and the "Merrimac" two brothers were opposed to each other.
Commodore Buchanan, who commanded the "Merrimac," knew, when he attacked
the "Congress," that a younger brother of his was a junior officer of the
frigate. The younger man escaped unscathed, but the commodore was slightly
wounded during the fight. When the "Congress" struck her colours, Buchanan
ordered two of the gunboats to take off her crew. Her flag was secured to
be sent to Richmond as a trophy. While the gunboats "Raleigh" and
"Beaufort" were taking off the Federal wounded, there came from the
batteries on shore a heavy fire of guns and rifles. Several of the wounded
and two officers of the "Raleigh" were killed, and the gunboats drew off,
leaving most of the crew of the "Congress" still on board. They escaped to
the shore in boats and by swimming. Meanwhile the "Merrimac" fired a number
of red-hot shot into her, and she was soon ablaze fore and aft. Then the
ironclad turned and fired at the "Minnesota."

The sun was going down and the tide was running out rapidly. The deep
draught of the "Merrimac" made the risk of grounding, if she closely
engaged the "Minnesota," a serious matter. So Buchanan signalled to the
gunboats to cease fire, and, accompanied by them, steamed over to the south
side of the Roads, where he anchored for the night under the Confederate
batteries, intending to complete the destruction of the Federal fleet next
morning.

The first day's fight was over. It had been a battle between the old and
the new--between a steam-propelled armoured ram and wooden sailing-ships.
The "Cumberland" had been sunk, the "Congress" forced to surrender and set
on fire, and the "Minnesota" was hopelessly aground and marked down as the
first victim for next day. The Federals had lost some two hundred men. The
Confederates only twenty-one. Buchanan was wounded, not severely, but
seriously enough for the command of the "Merrimac" to be transferred to
Lieutenant Jones. As night came on the moon rose, but the wide expanse of
water was lighted up, not by her beams only, but also by the red glare from
the burning "Congress." The flames ran up her tarred rigging like rocket
trails, masts and spars were defined in flickers of flame. At last, with a
deafening roar that was heard for many a mile, she blew up, strewing the
Roads with scattered wreckage.

At ten o'clock that evening, while the "Congress" was still burning, a
strange craft had steamed into the Roads from the sea, all unnoticed by the
Confederates. She anchored in the shallow water between the "Minnesota" and
the shore. Her light draught enabled her to go into waters where less
powerful fighting-ships would have grounded. To use the words of one who
first saw her as the sun rose next day, she looked like a plank afloat with
a can on top of it. She was Ericsson's ironclad turret-ship, the "Monitor."

In the first weeks of the war inventors had besieged the United States Navy
Department with proposals for the construction of ironclad warships. The
Department was still leisurely debating as to what policy should be
adopted, when news came that the "Merrimac," half-burnt at Norfolk Yard,
was being reconstructed as an armoured ram, and it became urgent to provide
an adversary to meet her on something like equal terms. It was at this
moment that John Ericsson came forward with his offer to construct an
armoured light-draught turret-ship, which could be very rapidly built and
put in commission. This last point was of cardinal importance, for report
said that work on the "Merrimac" was far advanced, and no ship could be
built on ordinary lines, of sufficient power to meet her, in the time now
available. The vessel must be of light draught to work in the shallow coast
waters, creeks, and river mouths of the Southern States. She might have to
fight in narrow channels, where there would not be room for manoeuvring to
bring broadside guns to bear. Ericsson, therefore, proposed that her
armament should be a pair of heavy guns mounted in a turret, which could be
revolved so as to point them in any direction, independently of the
position of the ship herself.

The hull was to be formed of two portions, a kind of barge-like structure
or lower hull, built of iron, and mostly under water when the ship was
afloat, and fixed over this the upper hull, a raft-like structure, wider
and longer, and with overhanging armoured sides and lighter deck-armour.
The dimensions were--

Upper part of hull, length 172 feet, beam 41 feet.
Lower hull, length 122 feet, beam 34 feet.
Depth, underside of deck to keel-plate, 11 feet 2 inches.
Draught of water, 10 feet.

Engines and boilers were aft, and the long overhang of the armoured deck
astern protected the under-water rudder and screw propeller. In the
overhang at the bow there was a well, in which the anchor hung under water.
Forward, near the bow, there was a small armoured pilot-house, or, as we
now call it, "conning-tower." Amidships, in an armoured turret, were
mounted two heavy smooth-bore guns, of large calibre, and throwing a round,
solid shot.

The conning-tower was built of solid iron blocks, nine inches thick. The
sight-holes were narrow, elongated slits. This was the helmsman's station.

The committee to which Ericsson's plans were referred was at first hostile;
some of the members declared that the ship would not float, that her deck
would be under water, and she would be swamped at once. Further objections
were that no crew could live in the under-water part of the hull. But at
length all objections were met, and the Swedish engineer was told that his
plans were accepted, and that a regular contract would be drawn up for his
signature. Ericsson knew the value of time, and before the contract was
ready the keel plates of his turret-ship had been rolled and a dozen firms
had started work on her various parts. While the ship was being built, he
proposed she should be named the "Monitor," and the name became a general
term for low-freeboard turret-ships.

    [Illustration: THE "MERRIMAC" & "MONITOR" DRAWN TO THE
    SAME SCALE]

The keel of the ship was laid at Greenpoint Yard, Brooklyn, in October,
1861. She was launched on 30 January, 1862. The work of completing and
fitting was carried on day and night, and she was commissioned for service
on 25 February, 1862. But even when her crew were on board there were a
number of details to be completed. Workmen were busy on her almost up to
the moment of her departure from New York harbour nine days later, so there
was no chance of drilling the men and testing the guns and turret.

Lieutenant Worden, United States Navy, was promoted to the rank of captain
and given command. He formed a crew of volunteers for what was considered a
novel and exceptionally dangerous service. Officers and men numbered
fifty-eight in all.

On the morning of Thursday, 6 March (two days before the "Merrimac's"
attack on the "Cumberland"), the "Monitor" left New York in tow of the tug
"Seth Low," bound for Hampton Roads. The two days' voyage southwards along
the coast was an anxious and trying time, and though the weather was not
really bad, the "Monitor" narrowly escaped foundering at sea.

At 4 p.m. on the Saturday she was off Cape Henry, and the sound of a
far-off cannonade was heard in the direction of Hampton Roads. The officers
rightly guessed that the "Merrimac" was in action. It was after dark that
the turret-ship steamed up the still water of the landlocked bay, amid the
red glare from the burning "Congress." She anchored beside the United
States warship "Roanoke." On board the fleet which eagerly watched her
arrival there were general disappointment and depression at seeing how
small she was.

Worden shifted his anchorage in the night, and taking advantage of the
"Monitor's" light draught steamed up the Roads, and anchored his ship in
the shallow water to landward of the stranded "Minnesota."

There was not much sleep on board the "Monitor" that night, tired as the
men were. At 2 a.m. the "Congress" blew up in a series of explosions.
After that the men tried to settle down to rest, but before dawn all hands
were roused to prepare for the coming fight. A little after 7 a.m. the
"Merrimac" was seen steaming slowly across the bay, escorted by her
flotilla of gunboats. She was coming to complete the destruction of the
United States squadron, and had marked down the "Minnesota" as her first
victim, in blissful ignorance of the arrival of the "Monitor." Worden
realized that if he allowed the fight to take place near the stranded ship,
the "Merrimac" might engage him with one of her broadsides, and use the
other to destroy the "Minnesota." He therefore steamed boldly out into the
open water, challenging the Confederate ram to a duel. As he approached the
wooden gunboats prudently turned back and ran under the shelter of the
Confederate batteries on the south shore, leaving the "Merrimac" to meet
the "Monitor" in single combat.

So that Sunday morning, 9 March, 1862, saw the first battle between
ironclad ships, with North and South, soldiers, sailors, and civilians
anxiously watching the combat from the ships in the Roads and the batteries
on either shore.

Worden was in the pilot-house with a quartermaster at the wheel, and a
local pilot to assist him. His first lieutenant, Dana Greene, commanded the
two 11-inch guns in the turret. The "Merrimac" was the first to open fire.
Worden waited to reply till she was at close quarters, then stopped his
engines, let his ship drift, and sent the order by speaking-tube to the
turret, "Commence firing!" The "Monitor's" turret swung round, and her two
guns roared out, enveloping both ships in a fog of powder smoke as the huge
cannon-balls crashed on the sloping armour of the "Merrimac." They did not
penetrate it, but the theory of the Northern artillerists was that the
hammering of heavy round shot on an enemy's armour would start the plates,
shear bolt and rivet heads, and crush in the wooden backing, and so
gradually succeed in making a breach in the armour somewhere. But
throughout this fight at close quarters the "Merrimac's" cuirass remained
intact.

    [Illustration: _Cassier's Magazine_
    THE BATTLE OF HAMPTON ROADS. THE MERRIMAC AND MONITOR
    ENGAGED AT CLOSE QUARTERS]

The Southern ship was replying with a much more rapid fire from her
broadside guns. Hit after hit thundered on the "Monitor's" turret, but its
plating held good, though the sensation of being thus pummelled was
anything but pleasant to the men inside. At an early stage of the fight a
quartermaster was disabled in a startling way. He was leaning against the
inside of the turret, when a shot struck it just outside. The momentary
yielding of the plating to the blow passed on the shock to the man's body,
and he fell stunned and collapsed, and had to be carried below.

Although the speaking-tube from conning-tower to turret was inside the
armoured deck, a similar action of a shot, that did not penetrate, smashed
it up, and after this orders had to be passed with difficulty by a chain of
men. And this was not the only trouble the crew of the "Monitor" had to
contend with. But the "Monitor," with all her defects, had the great
advantage over the "Merrimac" of a slightly greater speed and of a much
greater handiness. Her turning circle was much smaller than that of the
larger ship, and she could choose her position, and evade with comparative
ease any attempt of her clumsy adversary to ram and run her down. The
"Merrimac," with her damaged funnel and diminished draught on her furnaces,
found it even more difficult than on the previous day to get up speed. At
times she was barely moving. Her depth was also a drawback in the narrow
channel. While the light-draught "Monitor" could go anywhere, the
"Merrimac," drawing 22 feet of water, was more than once aground, and was
got afloat again after many anxious efforts.

The "Monitor" had a good supply of solid shot; the "Merrimac" very few, for
she had been sent out, not to fight an armour-clad, but to destroy a wooden
fleet. Finding that his shell-fire was making no impression on the
"Monitor's" turret, and recognizing the difficulty of ramming his enemy,
Commander Jones made up his mind to disregard the "Monitor" for a while,
and attempt to complete the destruction of the "Minnesota." He therefore
ordered his pilot to steer across the Roads, and take up a position near
the stranded frigate. The pilot afterwards confessed that he was more
anxious about facing the rapid fire of the "Minnesota's" numerous guns than
standing the more deliberate attack of the "Monitor's" slow fire. He could
have brought the "Merrimac" within half a mile of the "Minnesota," but he
made a wide detour, and ran aground two miles from the Federal ship. When
after great efforts the ironclad was floated again, the pilot declared he
could not take her any nearer the "Minnesota" without grounding again, and
Commander Jones reluctantly turned to renew the duel with the "Monitor,"
which had been steaming slowly after him. The "Monitor's" officers thought
the "Merrimac" was running away from them, and were surprised when she
closed with their ship again.

Once more there was a fight at close quarters. Those who watched the battle
could make out very little of what was happening, for the two ships were
wrapped in clouds of powder smoke and blacker smoke from their furnaces.
The "Merrimac's" funnel was down, and the smoke from her furnace-room was
pouring low over her casemate. In the midst of the semi-darkness Jones
tried to ram the turret-ship, and nearly succeeded. Worden, using the
superior handiness of his little vessel, converted the direct attack into a
glancing blow, but the Confederates thought that if they had not lost the
iron wedge of their ram the day before in sinking the "Cumberland" they
would have sunk the "Monitor."

The turret-ship now kept a more respectful distance. For more than a
quarter of an hour she did not fire a shot. The Confederates hoped they had
permanently disabled her, but what had happened was that the "Monitor" had
ceased fire in order to pass a supply of ammunition up into the turret,
which could not be revolved while this was being done. Presently the
"Monitor" began firing again. Jones of the "Merrimac" now changed his
target. Despairing of seriously damaging the "Monitor's" turret, he
concentrated his fire on her conning-tower, and before long this plan had
an important result. Dana Greene gives a vivid description of the
incident:--

    "A shell struck the forward side of the pilot-house directly in
    the sight-hole or slit, and exploded, cracking the second iron
    log and partly lifting the top, leaving an opening. Worden was
    standing immediately behind this spot, and received in his face
    the force of the blow, which partly stunned him, and filling his
    eyes with powder, utterly blinded him. The injury was known only
    to those in the pilot-house and its immediate vicinity. The
    flood of light rushing through the top of the pilot-house, now
    partly open, caused Worden, blind as he was, to believe that the
    pilot-house was seriously injured if not destroyed; he,
    therefore, gave orders to put the helm to starboard, and 'sheer
    off.' Thus the 'Monitor' retired temporarily from the action, in
    order to ascertain the extent of the injuries she had received.
    At the same time Worden sent for me, and I went forward at once,
    and found him standing at the foot of the ladder leading to the
    pilot-house.

    "He was a ghastly sight, with his eyes closed and the blood
    apparently rushing from every pore in the upper part of his
    face. He told me that he was seriously wounded, and directed me
    to take command. I assisted in leading him to a sofa in his
    cabin, where he was tenderly cared for by Dr. Logue, and then I
    assumed command. Blind and suffering as he was, Worden's
    fortitude never forsook him; he frequently asked from his bed of
    pain of the progress of affairs, and when told that the
    'Minnesota' was saved, he said, 'Then I can die happy!'"[18]

    [18] "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," vol. i, pp. 726,
    727. Worden recovered, and there was no permanent injury to his
    sight. He lived to be a distinguished admiral of the United
    States Navy.

In the confusion that followed the disablement of her commander, the
"Monitor" had drifted away from the "Merrimac," but still in a position
between her and the "Minnesota." The Confederate ship fired at the
temporarily disabled turret-ship a few shots, to which there was no reply.
Commander Jones and his officers believed they had put their opponent out
of action. But the "Merrimac" was not in a position to profit by her
advantage. It was near 2 p.m. The tide was running out rapidly, and the
risk of grounding was serious. Ammunition was beginning to be scarce. The
crew was exhausted, and the ship's pumps had to be kept going, for under
the strain of the heavy firing, and the repeated groundings during the two
days, the hull was leaking badly. Jones judged the time had come to break
off the action, and the "Merrimac" turned slowly, and began to steam into
the Elizabeth River, on her way back to Norfolk.

The "Monitor," seeing her retiring, fired a few long-range shots after her.
They splashed harmlessly into the water. So the famous fight ended.

On board both ships no life had been lost, and only a few men were wounded,
Captain Worden's case being the most serious. In fact, there were fewer
casualties than on the first day, when the loss of life in the wooden ships
had been serious, and the "Merrimac," despite her armour, had had
twenty-one men killed and wounded by the lighter projectiles of the
"Cumberland" and "Congress" finding their way into her casemate through the
port-holes. Neither ship had suffered severe injury, though if the battle
had continued, the damage done to the conning-tower of the "Monitor" might
have had serious results. When the "Merrimac" was docked at Gosport Yard,
Norfolk, to be overhauled and repaired, it was found that she had
ninety-seven indentations on her armour. Twenty of these were judged to be
the marks of the "Monitor's" 11-inch balls. In these places the outer layer
of armour-plating was cracked and badly damaged. The under layer and the
wood backing were uninjured. The other seventy-seven marks were mere
surface dents made by the lighter artillery of the wooden ships. The
"Monitor" had used reduced charges of 15 pounds of gunpowder, and it was
believed that if the full charge of 30 pounds had been used, the results
might have been more serious, but the Navy Department had ordered the
reduced charge, as it was feared that with full charges the strain on the
gun-mountings and turret-gear would be too severe. The "Merrimac's" funnel
was riddled, and all outside fittings shot away. Two of her guns had been
made unserviceable on the first day by shots striking their muzzles.

Both sides claimed the victory in the Sunday's battle. The Confederates
claimed to have driven off the "Monitor," and stated that Jones had waited
for some time for her to renew the fight, before he turned back to Norfolk.
The Federals argued that the object of the "Merrimac" was to destroy the
"Minnesota," and the "Monitor" had prevented this, and was therefore the
victor. The frigate was successfully floated next tide. Sometimes the fight
is described as a drawn battle, but most writers on the subject accept the
Federal contention, and give the honours of the day to the little
turret-ship.

The battle of Hampton Roads was notable, however, not so much for its
immediate results, as for its effect on naval opinion and policy. It
finally closed the era of unarmoured ships; it led to a perhaps exaggerated
importance being attached to the ram as a weapon of attack; and it led to a
very general adoption of the armoured turret, and for a while to the
building of low-freeboard turret-ships in various navies. It was not till
long after that the story of the "Monitor's" perilous voyage from New York
was told, and thus even in America it was not realized that the "Monitor"
type was fit only for smooth waters, and was ill adapted for sea-going
ships. On the Federal side there was a kind of enthusiasm for the
"Monitor." Numbers of low-freeboard turret-ships of somewhat larger size,
and with improved details, were built for the United States, and even the
failure of Admiral Dupont's "Monitor" fleet in the attack on the
Charleston batteries did not convince the Navy Department that the type was
defective. Ericsson's building of the "Monitor" to meet the emergency of
1862 was a stroke of genius, but its success had for a long time a
misleading effect on the development of naval construction in the United
States.

The "Merrimac" was abandoned and burned by the Confederates a few weeks
later when they evacuated Norfolk and the neighbourhood. At the end of the
year the "Monitor" was ordered to Charleston. She started in tow of a
powerful tug, but the fate she had so narrowly escaped on her first voyage
overtook her. She was caught in a gale off Cape Hatteras on the evening of
31 December, 1862. The tow-ropes had to be cut, and shortly after midnight
the "Monitor" sank ten miles off the Cape. Several of her officers and men
went down with her. The rest were rescued by the tug, with great
difficulty.

Had the wind blown a little harder during the "Monitor's" first voyage from
New York, or had the tow-rope to which she hung parted, there is no doubt
she would have gone down in the same way. In that case the course of
history would have been different, for the "Merrimac" would have been
undisputed master of the Atlantic coast, and have driven off or destroyed
every ship of the blockading squadrons. The fates of nations sometimes
depend on trifles. That of the American Union depended for some hours on
the soundness of the hawser by which the "Monitor" hung on to the tug-boat
"Seth Low" of New York.



    CHAPTER XI

    LISSA

    1866


In the American Civil War there had been no battle between ironclad fleets.
"Monitors" had engaged batteries. The "Merrimac" had had her duel with the
first of the little turret-ships. But experts were still wondering what
would happen when fleets of armoured ships, built in first-class dockyards,
met in battle on the sea.

The war between Austria and Italy in 1866 gave the first answer. The
experiment was not a completely satisfactory one, and some of its lessons
were misread. Others were soon made obsolete by new developments in naval
armaments.

Still, Lissa will always count among the famous sea-fights of the world,
for it was the first conflict in which the armoured sea-going ship took a
leading part. But there is another reason: it proved in the most startling
way--though neither for the first time nor the last--that men count for
more than machines, that courage and enterprise can reverse in the actual
fight the conditions that beforehand would seem to make defeat inevitable.
"Give me plenty of iron in the men, and I don't mind so much about iron in
the ships," was a pithy saying of the American Admiral Farragut. There was
iron enough in the Austrian sailors, Tegethoff and Petz, to outweigh all
the iron in the guns and armour of the Italian admirals, Persano and
Albini, and the "iron in the men" gave victory to the fleet that on paper
was doomed to destruction.

At the present time, when in our morning papers and in the monthly reviews
we find such frequent comparisons between the fleets of the Powers,
comparisons almost invariably based only on questions of ships, armour,
guns, and horse-power, and leaving the all-important human factor out of
account, it will be interesting to compare the relative strength--on
paper--of the Austrian and Italian fleets in 1866, before telling the story
of Lissa.

Austria had only seven ironclads. All were of the earlier type of
armour-clad ships, modelled on the lines of the old steam frigates, built
of wood, and plated with thin armour. The two largest--ships of 5000 tons
and 800 horse-power--mounted a battery of eighteen 48-pounder smooth bores.
They had not a single rifled gun in their weak broadsides. These were the
"Ferdinand Max" and the "Hapsburg." The "Kaiser Max," the "Prinz Eugen,"
and "Don Juan de Austria" were smaller ships of 3500 tons and 650
horse-power, but they had a slightly better armament, sixteen smooth-bore
muzzle-loading 48-pounders, and fourteen rifled guns, light breech-loading
24-pounders. The "Salamander" and the "Drache" were ships of 3000 tons and
500 horse-power. They mounted sixteen rifled 24-pounders and ten
smooth-bore 48-pounders. These five smaller ironclads were the only ships
under the Austrian flag at all up to date. There were an old wooden screw
line-of-battle ship and four wooden frigates, but these had neither rifled
guns nor armour, and the naval critics of the day would doubtless refuse to
take them into account. Then there were some wooden unarmoured gunboats and
dispatch vessels.

Now turning to the Italian Navy List, we find that these six ironclads, two
of them without a single rifled gun, would have to face no less than twelve
armoured ships, every one of them carrying rifled guns. One of them was a
thoroughly up-to-date vessel, just commissioned from Armstrong's yard at
Elswick, the armoured turret-ram "Affondatore" (i.e. "The Sinker"). A
correspondent of "The Times" saw her when she put into Cherbourg on the way
down Channel. He reported that she looked formidable enough to sink the
whole Austrian ironclad fleet single-handed. She was a ship of 4000 tons
and 750 horse-power, iron-built, heavily armoured, and with a spur-bow for
ramming. She carried in her turret two 10-inch rifled Armstrong guns,
throwing an armour-piercing shell of 295 pounds--say 300-pounders, and let
us remember the heaviest rifled gun in the Austrian fleet was the little
24-pounder. Then there were two wooden ironclads of 5700 tons and 800
horse-power, the "Re d'Italia" and the "Re di Portogallo." The "Re di
Portogallo" carried 28 rifled guns, two 300-pounders, twelve 100-pounders,
and fourteen 74-pounders. The "Re d'Italia" mounted thirty-two rifled guns,
two 150-pounders, sixteen 100-pounders, fourteen 74-pounders, and besides
these four smooth-bore 50-pounders. On paper these three ships, the two
"Kings"[19] and the "Affondatore," ought to have blown the Austrian
ironclads out of the sea or sent them to the bottom. Let us compare the
number of rifled guns and the weight of metal. There is no need to count
the smooth-bores, for the "Merrimac-Monitor" fight had proved how little
they could do even against weak armour. Here is the balance-sheet:--

              AUSTRIANS.            |              ITALIANS.
                 Rifled  Projectile.|                   Rifled  Projectile.
       Ships.     Guns.     lbs.    |     Ships.         Guns.     lbs.
                                    |
  _Ferdinand Max_ none      --      | _Affondatore_         2       300
  _Hapsburg_      none      --      |                     { 2       150
  _Kaiser Max_     14       24      | _Re d'Italia_       {16       100
  _Prinz Eugen_    14       24      |                     {14        74
  _Don Juan_       14       24      |                     { 2       300
  _Drache_         16       24      | _Re di Portogallo_  {12       100
  _Salamander_     16       24      |                     {14        74
                   -----------      |                      ------------
            Total  74 guns          |               Total  62 guns
    throwing 1776 lbs. of metal.    |       throwing 6372 lbs. of metal.

    [19] "Re d'Italia" (King of Italy); "Re di Portogallo"
    (King of Portugal).

Even the "Affondatore" was supposed to be what the "Dreadnought" is to
older ships in these paper estimates. What would she be with the two
"Kings" helping her? But this was not all; the Italians could place in line
_nine more_ ironclads. Here is this further list:--

                                                                Weight of
     Ship.                  Tonnage.  Horse-      Rifled Guns.  Broadside.
                                      power.                       lbs.

  _Ancona_                    4250     700       {22 100-pounders}  2274
                                                 { 1  74-pounder }

  _Maria Pia_                 4250     700       {18 100-pounders}  2096
                                                 { 4  74-pounders}

  _Castelfidardo_             4250     700       {22 100-pounders}  2274
                                                 { 1  74-pounder }

  _San Martino_               4250     700       {16 100-pounders}  2044
                                                 { 6  74-pounders}

  _Principe di Carignano_[20] 4000     700       {12 100-pounders}  1644
                                                 { 6  74-pounders}

  _Terribile_                 2700     400       {10 100-pounders}  1444
                                                 { 6  74-pounders}

  _Formidabile_               2700     400       {10 100-pounders}  1444
                                                 { 6  74-pounders}

  _Palestro_                  2000     300         2 150-pounders    300

  _Varese_                    2000     300       { 2 150-pounders}   500
                                                 { 2 100-pounders}

  Total: nine ships carrying 146 rifled guns throwing 14,020 lbs. of metal.

    [20] The "Principe di Carignano" was wooden built; all the rest iron.

What could the seven Austrian ironclads with their 74 little guns throwing
1776 pounds of metal do against these nine ships with double the number of
guns and nearly ten times the weight of metal in their broadsides? But add
in the three capital ships before noted on the Italian side, and we have:--

  12 ironclads against 7.
  208 rifled guns against 74.
  20,392 pounds of metal in the broadsides against only 1776.

Clearly it would be mad folly for the Austrian fleet to challenge a
conflict! It would be swept from the Adriatic at the first encounter!

Here, then, are our calculations as to the command of the Adriatic at the
outset of the war of 1866. They leave out of account only one element--the
men, and the spirit of the men. Let us see how the grim realities of war
can give the lie to paper estimates.

Wilhelm von Tegethoff, who commanded the Austrian fleet with the rank of
rear-admiral, was one of the world's great sailors, and the man for the
emergency. He had as a young officer taken part in the blockade of Venice
during the revolution of 1848 and 1849; he had seen something of the naval
operations in the Black Sea during the Crimean War, as the commander of a
small Austrian steamer, and during the war of 1864 he had commanded the
wooden steam frigate "Schwarzenberg" in the fight with the Danes off
Heligoland. Besides these war services he had taken part in an exploring
expedition in the Red Sea and Somaliland, and he had made more than one
voyage as staff-captain to the Archduke Maximilian, whose favourite officer
and close friend he had been for years. When the Archduke, an enthusiastic
sailor, resigned his command of the Austrian fleet to embark for Mexico,
where a short-lived reign as Emperor and a tragic death awaited him, he
told his brother, the Emperor Francis Joseph, that Tegethoff was the hope
of the Austrian navy.

The young admiral (he was not yet forty years of age) had concentrated his
fleet at Pola, the Austrian naval port near Trieste. He had got together
every available ship, not only the seven ironclads, but the old
line-of-battle ship and the wooden frigates and gunboats. The Admiralty at
Vienna had suggested that he should take only the ironclads to sea, but he
had replied: "Give me every ship you have. You may depend on my finding
some good use for them." He believed in his officers and men, and relied on
them to make a good fight on board anything that would float, whether the
naval experts considered it was out of date or not. Among his officers he
had plenty of men who were worthy of their chief and inspired with his own
dauntless spirit, and the crews were largely composed of excellent
material, men from the wilderness of creek and island that extends along
the Illyrian and Dalmatian shores, fishermen and coasting sailors, many of
them so lately joined that instead of uniform they still wore their
picturesque native costume. The crew looked a motley lot, but, to use
Farragut's phrase, "there was iron in the men."

Twenty-seven ships in all, small and large, were moored in four lines in
the roadstead of Fasana, near Pola. But they did not remain idly at their
anchors. Every day some of them ran out to sea, to fire at moving targets
or to practise rapid turning and ramming floating rafts. The bows were
strengthened by cross timbers in all the larger ships, and in the target
work the crews were taught to concentrate the fire of several guns on one
spot. But Tegethoff knew he had not a single gun in his fleet that could
pierce the armour of the Italian vessels. He told his officers that for
decisive results they must trust to the ram. He had painted his ships a
dead black. The Italian colour was grey. "When we get into the fight," said
Tegethoff, "you must ram away at anything you see painted grey."

War was declared on 20 June. Tegethoff had been training his fleet since 9
May, and was ready for action. He at once sent out the "Stadion" (a
passenger steamer of the Austrian Lloyd line, employed as a scout and armed
with two 12-pounders) to reconnoitre the Italian coast of the Adriatic. The
"Stadion" returned on the 23rd with news that though war had been expected
for weeks the Italian fleet was not yet concentrated. A few of the ships
were at Ancona, but the greater part of it was reported to be at Taranto,
with Admiral Count Persano, the commander-in-chief, who from the first
displayed the strangest irresolution.

Tegethoff was anxious to attempt to engage the division at Ancona before it
was joined by the main body from Taranto, but he was held back by orders
from his Government directing him to remain in the Northern Adriatic
covering Venice. It was not till 26 June that he obtained a free hand
within limits defined by an order not to go further south than the
fortified island of Lissa.

He left Pola that evening with six ironclads, the wooden frigate
"Schwarzenberg," five gunboats, and the scouting steamer "Stadion." He had
hoisted his rear-admiral's flag on the "Erzherzog Ferdinand Max."[21] He
made for Ancona, and was off the port at dawn next day. The first shots of
the naval war were fired in the grey of the morning, when three of the
Austrian gunboats chased the Italian dispatch vessel "Esploratore" into the
port, outside of which she had been on the look-out. The Austrians were
able clearly to see and count the warships under the batteries in the
harbour. Besides other craft, there were eleven of Persano's twelve
ironclads, the squadron from Taranto having reached Ancona the day before.
Only the much-vaunted "Affondatore" had not yet joined.

    [21] This was one of his least powerfully-armed ironclads, but
    Tegethoff seems to have selected her as his flagship because she
    was named after his old friend and chief, the Archduke Ferdinand
    Maximilian, who was at that time Emperor of Mexico, and involved
    in the final stage of the struggle that ended in his capture and
    execution by the Republican Juarez.

Tegethoff cleared for action, and steamed up and down for some hours, just
beyond the range of the coast batteries. It was a challenge to the Italians
to come out and fight. But Persano did not accept it. He afterwards made
excuses to his Government, saying he had not yet completed the final
fitting out of his ships. The moral effect on both fleets was important.
The Austrians felt an increased confidence in their daring leader and a
growing contempt for their adversaries. On the 24th the Austrian army,
under the Archduke Albert, had beaten the Italians at Custozza, and the
Austrian navy looked forward to the same good fortune. The Italians were
depressed both by the news of Custozza and the hesitation of their admiral
to risk anything.

Early in the day Tegethoff started on his return voyage to Fasana, where he
arrived in the evening, and found the ironclad "Hapsburg" waiting to join
his flag, after having been refitted in the dockyard of Pola. As there
were now persistent rumours that the Italians were going to attempt an
attack on Venice, Tegethoff remained in the Fasana roadstead, continuing
the training of his fleet. On 6 July he again took it to sea, practised
fleet manoeuvres under steam, and showed himself in sight of Ancona. But
the Italian fleet was still lying idly in the harbour, and Tegethoff once
more returned to Fasana in the hope that Persano would attempt some
enterprise, during which he would be able to fall upon him in the open.

The Italian admiral was meanwhile wasting time in lengthy correspondence
with his Government, and sending it letters which revealed his irresolution
and incompetence so plainly that they ought to have led to his immediate
supersession. He complained he had not definite orders, though he had been
directed to destroy the Austrian fleet, if it put to sea, or blockade it,
if it remained in harbour. He explained now that he was mounting better
guns in some of his ships, now that he was waiting for the "Affondatore" to
join. Once he actually wrote saying that some new ironclads ought to be
purchased from other powers to reinforce him. At last he was plainly told
that if he did not at once do something for the honour of the Italian navy
he would be relieved of his command. With the Austrians victorious in
Northern Italy, a raid on Venice would have been too serious an operation,
but he proposed as an alternative that a small land force should be
embarked for a descent on the fortified island of Lissa, on the Dalmatian
coast. His fleet would escort it, and co-operate by bombarding the island
batteries. The plan was accepted, and he proceeded to execute it.

It was about as bad a scheme as could be imagined. It is a recognized
principle of war that over-sea expeditions should only be undertaken when
the enemy's fleet has been either rendered helpless by a crushing defeat or
blockaded in its ports. Before sending the transports to Lissa Persano
should have steamed across to Pola and blockaded Tegethoff, fighting him
if he came out. But Persano had a delusive hope that he could perhaps score
a victory without encountering the Austrian fleet by swooping down on
Lissa, crushing the batteries with a heavy bombardment, landing the troops,
hoisting the Italian flag, and getting back to his safe anchorage at Ancona
before Tegethoff could receive news of what was happening, and come out and
force on a battle.

Lissa was defended by a garrison of 1800 men, under Colonel Urs de Margina.
This small body of troops held a number of forts and batteries mounting
eighty-eight guns, none of them of large calibre. The works were old, and
had been hurriedly repaired. Most of them dated from the time of the
English occupation of the island during the Napoleonic wars.[22] Persano
expected that Lissa would be a very easy nut to crack.

    [22] Some of the forts were still known by English names, such
    as Wellington Tower, Bentinck Tower, and Robertson Tower.

On 16 July the Italian fleet sailed from Ancona. Even now Persano carried
out his operations with leisurely deliberation. On the 17th he reconnoitred
Lissa, approaching in his flagship under French colours. Early on the 18th
the fleet closed in upon the island, flying French colours, till it was in
position before the batteries.

The commandant had cable communication with Pola by a line running by
Lesina to the mainland. He reported to Tegethoff the appearance of the
disguised fleet, and then the opening of the attack on his batteries. At
first the Austrian admiral could hardly believe that the Italians had
committed themselves to such an ill-judged enterprise, and thought that the
attack on Lissa might be only a feint meant to draw his fleet away from the
Northern Adriatic, and leave an opening for a dash at Pola, Trieste, or
Venice itself. But cablegrams describing the progress of the attack
convinced him it was meant to be pressed home, and he telegraphed to
Colonel de Margina, telling him to hold out to the last extremity, and
promising to come to his relief with all the fleet. This message did not
reach the colonel, for just before it was dispatched an Italian ship had
cut the cable between Lissa and Lesina, and seized the telegraph office of
the latter island. Tegethoff's message thus fell into Persano's hands. He
persuaded himself that it was mere bluff, intended to encourage the
commandant of Lissa to hold out as long as possible. He thought Tegethoff
would remain in the Northern Adriatic to protect or to overawe Venice.

The attempt to reduce the batteries of Lissa by bombardment during the 18th
proved a failure. In the evening Persano was in a very anxious state of
mind. He had made no arrangements for colliers to supply his fleet, and his
coal was getting low. It was just possible that Tegethoff might come out
and force him to fight, and he thought of returning to Ancona. But if he
did he would be dismissed from his command. At last he made up his mind to
land the troops next morning, and try to carry the forts by an assault
combined with an attack from the sea. His second in command, Admiral
Albini, with the squadron of wooden ships and gunboats that accompanied the
ironclads, was directed to superintend and assist in the landing of the
troops. They were to be embarked in all available boats, and to land at 9
a.m. During the night the ram "Affondatore" joined the fleet, and Persano
had all his twelve ironclads before Lissa.

On the morning of the 18th the sea was smooth, and covered with a hot haze
that limited the view. The soldiers were being got into the boats, and the
ships were steaming to their stations for the attack, when about eight
o'clock the "Esploratore," which had been sent off to scout to the
north-westward, appeared steaming fast out of a bank of haze with a signal
flying, which was presently read, "Suspicious-looking ships in sight."
Tegethoff was coming.

He had left Fasana late on the afternoon of the 18th, with every available
ship, large and small, new and old, wooden wall and ironclad. He would
find work for all of them. All night he had steamed for Lissa, anxious at
the sudden cessation of the cable messages, but still hoping that he would
see the Austrian flag flying on its forts, or if not, that he would at
least find the enemy's fleet still in its waters.

    [Illustration: LISSA. BATTLE FORMATION OF THE AUSTRIAN FLEET]

He had organized his fleet in three divisions. The first under his own
personal command was formed of the seven ironclads. The second division,
under Commodore von Petz, was composed of wooden unarmoured ships. The
commodore's flag flew on the old steam line-of-battle ship "Kaiser," a
three-decker with ninety-two guns on her broadsides, all smooth-bores
except a couple of rifled 24-pounders. With the "Kaiser" were five old
wooden ships ("Novara," "Schwarzenberg," "Donau," "Adria," and "Radetzky")
and a screw corvette, the "Erzherzog Friedrich." The third division, under
Commandant Eberle, was composed of ten gunboats. A dispatch-boat was
attached to each of the leading divisions, and the scout "Stadion," the
swiftest vessel in the fleet, was at the immediate disposal of the admiral,
and was sent on in advance.

The fleet steamed during the night in the order of battle that Tegethoff
had chosen. The divisions followed each other in succession, each in a
wedge formation, the flagship of the division in the centre with the rest
of the ships to port and starboard, not in line abreast, but each a little
behind the other. The formation will be understood from the annexed
diagram.

It was an anxious night for the Austrian admiral. For some hours there was
bad weather. Driving showers of fine rain from a cloudy sky made it
difficult at times to see the lights of the ships, and it was no easy
matter for them to keep their stations. The sea was for a while so rough
that the ironclads had to close their ports, and there was a danger that if
the weather did not improve and the sea become smoother they would not be
able to fight most of their guns. But Tegethoff held steadily on his
course for Lissa. On sea, as on land, there are times in the crisis of a
war when the highest prudence is to throw all ordinary rules of prudence
aside, and take all risks.

The admiral had resolved from the outset that, whatever might be the
result, the Austrian fleet should not lie in safety under the protection of
shore batteries, leaving the Italian command of the Adriatic unchallenged.
He felt that it would be better to sink in the open sea, in a hopeless
fight against desperate odds, rather than ingloriously to survive the war,
without making an effort to carry his flag to victory. So he steamed
through the night, followed by his strange array of ships that another
leader might well have considered as little better than useless
encumbrances, and in front the handful of inferior ironclads that might
well be regarded as equally doomed to destruction when they met the more
numerous and more heavily armed ships of the enemy. But he had put away all
thoughts of safety. He was staking every ship and every man and his own
life against the faint chance of success. The coming day might see his
fleet destroyed, but such a failure would be no disgrace. On the contrary,
it would only be less honourable than a well-won victory, and would be an
inspiration to the men of a future fleet that would carry the banner of the
Hapsburgs in later days. So he rejoiced greatly when, as the day came, the
weather began to clear, and the "Stadion" signalled back that Lissa was
still holding out and the enemy's fleet lay under its shores.

As soon as he read the "Esploratore's" signal, Persano had no doubt that
Tegethoff was upon him. He countermanded the attack on Lissa, ordered
Albini to re-embark the troops, and proceeded to form his ironclads in line
of battle, intending to engage the enemy with these only. The ironclads
were standing in to attack the batteries of San Giorgio at the north-east
end of the island. Persano formed nine of them in three divisions, which
were to follow each other in line ahead, the ram "Affondatore" being out
of the line and to starboard of the second division. The formation was as
follows:--

                   FIRST DIVISION.

                            { _Principe di Carignano_.
  Rear-Admiral Vacca        { _Castelfidardo_.
                            { _Ancona_.

                   SECOND DIVISION.

                            { _Re d'Italia_.        _Affondatore_.
  Rear-Admiral Faa di Bruno { _Palestro_.        (to starboard of the
                            { _San Martino_.           line).

                   THIRD DIVISION.

                            { _Re di Portogallo_.
  Rear-Admiral Ribotti      { _Maria Pia_.
                            { _Varese_.

The two other Italian ironclads, the "Formidabile" and the "Varese," were
not in the line, and took no part in the coming battle. The "Formidabile"
had suffered heavily in the attack on the shore batteries, numerous shells
entering her port-holes and making a slaughterhouse of her gun-deck. She
had been ordered to Ancona, and had left Lissa in the early morning. The
"Varese" had been detached to assist in operations on the other side of the
island, and joined Albini's squadron of wooden ships while the fight was in
progress. Persano's battle line first steered west along the north side of
Lissa. About ten o'clock the driving mist on the sea cleared, and the
Austrian fleet was then seen approaching on a S.S.E. course. Persano
altered his own course, and, led by Vacca in the "Principe di Carignano,"
the Italian ironclads turned in succession on a N.N.E. course. Thus as the
Austrians closed on them the fleet in a sinuous line was steering across
the bows of the attacking ships.

It was at this moment that Persano changed his flag from the "Re d'
Italia" to the "Affondatore," the former ship slowing down to enable the
admiral to leave her, and thus producing a wide gap between Vacca's and Faa
di Bruno's divisions. The result of this sudden change of flagship was
confusing, as most of the Italian ships were unaware of it, and still
looked to the "Re d' Italia" for guidance, and did not notice signals made
by the "Affondatore."

Tegethoff had given the successive signals as the mist dispersed, "Clear
for action--Close order--Look-out ships return to their stations--Full
speed ahead." As the last of the fog disappeared and the sun shone out, he
saw to his delight the Austrian flag still flying on the hill-side
batteries of Lissa, and close in front between him and the island shores
the enemy's fleet crossing his bows. Out fluttered his battle signal,
"_Ironclads will ram and sink the enemy!_" A final signal was being
prepared, "_Muss Sieg von Lissa werden!_" ("There must be a victory of
Lissa!"), but the close encounter had begun, and the ships were wrapped in
clouds of powder-smoke before it could be hoisted.

While Persano was passing from the "Re d' Italia" to the ram "Affondatore,"
Vacca had begun the fight by firing his broadside at the advancing
Austrians. The "Castelfidardo" and the "Ancona" followed his example. But
Tegethoff held his fire, waiting for close quarters. One of these first
shots killed Captain Moll of the "Drache" on the bridge of his ship. A
young lieutenant took command of her. He was Weiprecht, who in later years
became famous as the commander of the Austrian exploring ship "Tegethoff"
in the Arctic regions.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF LISSA
    THE AUSTRIAN ATTACK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE]

As the fleets closed the Austrians opened fire, aiming, not at the armoured
sides of the enemy, which no gun of theirs could penetrate, but at their
port-holes and bridges. Tegethoff in his flagship the "Ferdinand Max" was
looking for something to ram, but in the dense mass of smoke he passed
through the wide gap between Vacca's division and the "Re d'Italia,"
then finding no enemy in his front, he turned and went back into the battle
fog of the Italian centre. The three ironclads on his left ("Hapsburg,"
"Salamander," and "Kaiser Max") were engaged with Vacca's division, the van
of the Italian fleet. The three others, "Don Juan," "Drache," and "Prinz
Eugen," had flung themselves on Faa di Bruno's ships in the centre. Von
Petz coming up with the wooden ships gallantly attacked Ribotti's rearward
division, any one of which should in theory have been able to dispose of
his entire force. The gunboats hung on the margin of the fight, which had
now become a confused mêlée. And while the Austrian wooden ships were thus
risking themselves in close action, Albini's Italian division of wooden
ships looked on from a safe distance.

One can only tell some of the striking incidents of the battle, without
being able even to fix the precise order of time in which they occurred.
When the "Merrimac" sank the "Cumberland" with one blow of her ram in
Hampton Roads, the Federal ship was at anchor. But even in the confusion
and semi-darkness of the mêlée at Lissa it was found that it was not such
an easy matter to ram a ship under way. The blow was generally eluded by a
turn of the helm. Von Petz's flagship, the old three-decker "Kaiser,"
towering amid the battle-smoke, attracted the attention of Persano in the
"Affondatore," and seemed an easy victim for his ram. But the big ironclad
was unhandy, and took eight minutes to turn a full circle, and twice Petz
eluded her attack. The two 300-pounders of the "Affondatore" did much
damage on board the "Kaiser," but the wooden ship's broadside swept the
upper works of the ram as the two vessels passed each other, and strewed
her deck with wreckage. The fire of the heavy rifled guns on the Italian
ironclads did severe execution on the Austrian wooden ships. The captain of
the "Novara" was killed; the "Erzherzog Friedrich" and the "Schwarzenberg"
were badly hulled, and leaked so that they were only kept afloat by their
steam pumps. The "Adria" was three times on fire. But Petz and the wooden
division did good service by keeping the rearward Italian ships fully
occupied.

Meanwhile Tegethoff, standing on the bridge of the "Ferdinand Max," all
reckless of the storm of fire that roared around him had dashed into the
Italian centre. He rammed first the "Re d'Italia," then the "Palestro," but
both ships evaded the full force of the blow, and the Austrian flagship
scraped along their sides, bringing down a lot of gear. The mizzen-topmast
and gaff of the "Palestro" came down with the shock, and the gaff fell
across the Austrian's deck, with the Italian tricolour flying from it.
Before the ships could clear an Austrian sailor secured the flag. It would
seem that the glancing blow given to the "Re d'Italia" had disorganized her
steering gear, and for a while she was not under control. Two other ships
joined the flagship in attacking her, all believing she was still Persano's
flagship. The "Palestro," fighting beside her, was set on fire by shells
passing through her unarmoured stern. The fire made such rapid progress
that she drew out of the fight, her crew trying to save their ship.

Von Sterneck, the captain of the "Ferdinand Max," had gone half-way up the
mizzen-rigging, to look out over the smoke; he reported that the "Re
d'Italia" was not under full control, and Tegethoff once more dashed at his
enemy. The bow of the "Ferdinand Max" this time struck the "Re d'Italia"
full amidships, and simply forced in her side, making an enormous gap,
crushing and smashing plates and frames. As the "Ferdinand Max" reversed
her engines and drew her bows out of her adversary's side, the "Re
d'Italia" heeled over and sank instantly, carrying hundreds to the bottom
and strewing the surface with wreckage and struggling men.

The Austrians, after a moment of astonished horror at their own success,
cheered wildly. The "Ferdinand Max" tried to save some of the drowning
men, and was lowering her only boat that remained unshattered by the fire,
when the Italian ironclad "Ancona" tried to ram her. The Austrian flagship
evaded the blow, and the "Ancona," as she slid past her, almost touching
her gun-muzzles, fired a broadside into her. The powder-smoke from the
Italian guns poured into the port-holes of the "Ferdinand Max," and for a
few moments smothered her gun-deck in fog, but it was a harmless broadside.
In their undisciplined haste to fire the Italians had loaded only with the
cartridge, there was not a shot in the guns. This tells something of the
confusion on board.

Another Austrian ironclad and two of the gunboats made plucky efforts to
save some of the survivors of the "Re d'Italia," but they, too, were driven
off by the fierce attacks of Italian ships.

Meanwhile Petz with his wooden ships had fought his way through the Italian
rear. With his old three-decker he boldly rammed the "Re di Portogallo."
The Italian ship evaded the full force of the blow, but the tall wooden
vessel scraped along her side, starting several of her armour plates,
carrying away port-hole covers and davits, dragging two anchors from her
bows, smashing gun-muzzles and jerking four light guns into the sea. But
the "Kaiser" herself suffered from the close fire of the "Re di
Portogallo's" heavy guns and the shock of collision. Her stem and bowsprit
were carried away, the gilded crown of her figure-head falling on her
enemy's deck. Her foremast came crashing down on her funnel, and wrecked
it, and the mass of fallen spars, sails, and rigging was set on fire by
sparks and flame from the damaged funnel, the collapse of which nearly
stopped the draught of the furnaces and dangerously reduced the pressure on
the boilers and the speed of the engines.

The "Re di Portogallo" sheered off, but her consort, the "Maria Pia," came
rushing down on the disabled "Kaiser." Petz avoided her ram, and engaged
her at close quarters, but the shells of the "Maria Pia" burst one of the
"Kaiser's" steam-pipes, temporarily disabled her steering gear, and did
terrible execution in her stern battery. Petz himself was slightly wounded.
With great difficulty he extricated his ship from the mêlée, and cutting
away the wreckage, and fighting the fire that was raging forward, he
steered for San Giorgio, the port of Lissa, to seek shelter under its
batteries. His wooden frigates gallantly protected his retreat and escorted
him to safety, then turned back to join once more in the fight. This was
the moment when Albini with the Italian wooden squadron might easily have
destroyed Petz's division, but during the day all he did was to fire a few
shots at a range so distant that they were harmless.

Persano, in the "Affondatore," had for a moment threatened to attack the
"Kaiser," as she struggled out of the mêlée. He steamed towards her, and
then suddenly turned away. He afterwards explained that, seeing the plight
of Petz's flagship, he thought she was already doomed to destruction, and
looked upon it as useless cruelty to sink her with her crew.

The fleets were now separating, and the fire was slackening. In this last
stage of the mêlée the "Maria Pia" and the "San Martino" collided amid the
smoke, and the latter received serious injuries. As the fleets worked away
from each other there was still a desultory fire kept up, but after having
lasted for about an hour and a half the battle was nearly over.

Tegethoff, having got between the Italians and Lissa, reformed his fleet in
three lines of divisions, each in line ahead, the ironclads to seaward
nearest the enemy; the wooden frigates next; and the gunboats nearest the
land. Every ship except the "Kaiser" (which lay in the entrance of the
port) was still ready for action. Some of them were leaking badly,
including his flagship, which had started several plates in the bow when
she rammed and sank the "Re d'Italia." The fleet steamed slowly out from
the land on a north-easterly course, the ironclads firing a few
long-ranging shots at the Italians.

Persano was also reforming his fleet in line, and was flying a signal to
continue the action, but he showed no determined wish to close with
Tegethoff again. On the contrary, while reforming the line he kept it on a
northwesterly course, and thus the distance between the fleets was
increasing every minute, as they were moving on divergent lines. Gradually
the firing died away and the battle was over. Albini, with the wooden
squadron, and the ironclad "Terribile," which had remained with him, and
taken no part in the fight, ran out and joined the main fleet.

Persano afterwards explained that he was waiting for Tegethoff to come out
and attack him. But the Austrian admiral had attained his object, by
forcing his way through the Italian line, and placing himself in a position
to co-operate with the batteries of Lissa, in repelling any further attempt
upon the island. There was no reason why, with his numerically inferior
fleet, he should come out again to fight a second battle.

But though the action was ended, there was yet another disaster for the
Italians. The "Palestro" had been for two hours fighting the fire lighted
on board of her by the Austrian shells. Smoke was rising from hatchways and
port-holes, but as she rejoined the fleet she signalled that the fire was
being got under and the magazines had been drowned. Two of the smaller
ships, the "Governolo" and the "Independenza," came to her help and took
off her wounded. To a suggestion that he should abandon his ship, her
commander, Capellini, replied: "Those who wish may go, but I shall stay,"
and his officers and men remained with him, and continued working to put
out the fire. But the attempt to drown the magazines had been a failure,
for suddenly a deafening explosion thundered over the sea, the spars of the
"Palestro" were seen flying skyward in a volcano of flame. As the smoke of
the explosion cleared, the heaving water strewn with debris showed where
the ship had been.

The Austrian fleet was steaming into San Giorgio, amid the cheers of the
garrison and the people, when the explosion of the "Palestro" took place.
Persano drew off with his fleet into the channel between Lissa and the
island of Busi, and when the sun went down the Italian ships were still in
sight from the look-out stations on the hills of Lissa.

The Austrians worked all night repairing damages, and preparing for a
possible renewal of the fight in the morning. But at sunrise the look-outs
reported that there was not an Italian ship in sight. Persano had steered
for Ancona after dark, and arrived there on the 21st.

He was so unwise as to report that he had won a great naval victory in a
general engagement with the Austrians in the waters of Lissa. Italy,
already smarting under the defeat of Custozza, went wild with rejoicing.
Cities were illuminated, salutes were fired, there was a call for high
honours for the victorious admiral. But within forty-eight hours the truth
was known. It was impossible to conceal the fact that Lissa had been
unsuccessfully attacked for two days, and that on the third it had been
relieved by Tegethoff dashing through the Italian fleet, and destroying the
"Re d'Italia" and the "Palestro," without himself losing a single ship.
There were riots in Florence, and the cry was now that Admiral Persano was
a coward and a traitor. To add to the gloom of the moment the ram
"Affondatore," which had been injured in the battle, sank at her anchors
when a sudden gale swept the roadstead of Ancona.

Three of the twelve Italian ironclads had thus been lost. Three more were
unavailable while their damages were being slowly repaired. Peace was
concluded shortly after, and the Italian navy had no opportunity of showing
what it could do under a better commander.

In the sinking of the "Re d'Italia" some 450 men had been drowned. More
than 200 lost their lives in the explosion of the "Palestra," but the
other losses of the Italians in the Battle of Lissa were slight, only 5
killed and 39 wounded. The Austrians lost 38 killed (including two
captains) and 138 wounded. These losses were not severe, considering that
several wooden ships had been exposed to heavy shell-fire at close
quarters, and one must conclude that the gunnery of the Italian crews was
wretched. The heaviest loss fell on Petz's flagship, the "Kaiser," which
had 99 killed and wounded. Some of the gunboats, among which were some old
paddle-ships, though they took part in the fighting, had not a single
casualty.

Persano was tried by court-martial and deprived of his rank and dismissed
from the navy. Tegethoff became the hero of Austria. His successful attack
on a fleet that in theory should have been able to destroy every one of his
ships in an hour, will remain for all time an honour to the Austrian navy,
and a proof that skill and courage can hope to reverse the most desperate
disadvantages.



    CHAPTER XII

    THE BATTLE OF THE YALU

    1894


One result of the victory won by Tegethoff at Lissa was that an exaggerated
importance was for many years to come attached to the ram as a weapon of
attack. In every navy in the world ships were built with bows specially
designed for ramming. The sinking of the "Re d'Italia" had made such an
impression on the public mind, that it was in vain for a minority among
naval critics to urge that the ram was being overrated, and to point out
that even at Lissa for one successful attempt to sink an enemy by running
her down there had been an untold number of failures. It was very gradually
that the majority was brought to realize that a ship under full control
could generally avoid a ramming attack, and that it could only be employed
under exceptional circumstances, and against an already disabled enemy.

Then the progress of invention and armaments introduced features into naval
warfare that made it extremely difficult and dangerous for a large ship to
come to such close quarters as an attempt to ram implies. First the
introduction of the Whitehead torpedo as part of the auxiliary armament of
battleships and cruisers gave the ship attacked a means of sinking the
aggressor as she approached, and the increase in the power of guns led
naval tacticians to accept as a principle that fleet actions must be fought
at ranges which were regarded as too distant for any effective action in
earlier days.

But for nearly thirty years after Lissa there were no fleet actions.
Ships, armour, guns, were all improved, and the great naval Powers built on
a larger and larger scale. Steel took the place of iron as the material for
shipbuilding and armour. Naval gunnery became a precise science. Torpedoes
were introduced, and with them such new types of ships as the swift torpedo
boat and the "destroyer." But there was very little fighting on the sea,
though in the same period there were colossal conflicts on land.

Hundreds of armour-clads were built that became obsolete, and were turned
over to the shipbreaker, without ever having fired a shot in action.
Theories of tactics for fleet actions were worked out on paper, and tested
to some extent at naval manoeuvres, but the supreme test of battle was
wanting. In the Franco-German War of 1870 the French navy had such a
decided superiority that the few German warships of the day were kept in
their harbours protected by batteries and sunken mines. The only naval
action of the war was an indecisive duel between two gunboats. In the
second stage of the war the officers and men of the French navy fought as
soldiers in the defence of France. Guns were taken from the ships to be
mounted on land fortifications. Admirals commanded divisions, formed
largely of naval officers and bluejackets.

Again in the war of 1878 between Russia and Turkey the Russians had only a
few light craft in the Black Sea, and the Turkish fleet under Hobart Pasha,
weak as it was, held the undisputed command of these waters, and had only
to fear some isolated torpedo attacks. In South American civil wars and
international conflicts there were duels between individual ships, and some
dashing enterprises by torpedo boats, but nothing that could be described
as a fleet action between ironclads. The only time a British armoured fleet
was in action was against the batteries of Alexandria on the occasion of
the bombardment in July, 1882. The forts, badly armed and constructed, and
inefficiently defended, were silenced, but a careful examination of them
convinced experts that if they had been held by a better-trained garrison,
the victory would not have been such an easy matter. This and subsequent
experiences have led to the general acceptance of the view that it will be
seldom advisable to risk such valuable fighting machines as first-class
battleships and armoured cruisers in close action against well-constructed
and powerfully armed shore defences.

It was not till the summer of 1894 that at last there was another pitched
battle between fleets that included a large proportion of armoured vessels.
That action off the mouth of the Yalu River will be always remembered as
the event that heralded the coming of a new naval power.

A long rivalry between China and Japan for the control of Korea had
resulted in an outbreak of war between the two empires of the Far East. For
an island state like Japan the command of the sea was a necessary condition
for successful operations on the mainland of Asia, and for some years she
had been building up a powerful fleet, the ships being constructed in
foreign yards, as the Japanese yards were not yet in a position to turn out
large warships.

In the memory of living men the Japanese fleets had been made up of
primitive-looking war-junks. After failures to build ships in Japan on the
European model, the Government had in the middle of the nineteenth century
purchased some small steamships abroad, but it was not till 1876 that the
first Japanese armour-clad, the "Fuso," was constructed in England from
designs by the late Sir Edward Reed. Naval progress was at first very slow,
but solid foundations were laid. Young naval officers were attached to the
British and other navies for professional training, and on their return to
Japan became the educators of their fellow-countrymen in naval matters. A
serious obstacle to the acquisition of a numerous and powerful fleet was
the financial question. Japan is not a rich country. At first, therefore,
the Japanese did not venture to order battleships, but contented
themselves with protected cruisers. They thought that these would be
sufficient for the impending conflict with China, which possessed only a
fleet of weak, protected cruisers of various types and a couple of small
coast defence ironclads, that might be counted as inferior battleships.

When war broke out between China and Japan in 1894, the fleet of the latter
consisted of older ships of miscellaneous types, and a number of new
protected cruisers, some of them armed with quick-firing guns, a type of
weapon only lately introduced into the world's navies. Of these modern
cruisers most had been built and armed in French yards, but the best and
swiftest ship was a fine cruiser delivered not long before from Armstrong's
yard at Elswick.

The following lists give some details of the Japanese and Chinese fleets,
only the ships engaged at the Yalu battle being included. But these ships
represented almost the entire strength of the two rival navies, and no
really effective ship was absent on either side, while to make up the two
squadrons ships were sent to sea that in a European navy would have been
considered obsolete and left in harbour (see pages 256-7).

A comparison of these two lists brings out some interesting points. The
advantage in gun power was clearly on the side of the Japanese. Of the
heavier class of guns they had seventy to fifty-five, and there were no
weapons in the Chinese squadron equal to the long 12 1/2-inch rifled
breech-loaders of French make, carried by four of the Japanese cruisers.
But there was a further gain in gun power for the Japanese in the
possession of 128 quick-firers, some of them of fairly heavy calibre. The
quick-firing gun was then a new weapon. It is really a quick loader, a gun
fitted with a breech action that can be opened and closed by a rapid
movement, and so mounted that the recoil is taken up by mechanism in the
carriage which at once automatically runs the gun back into firing
position, while the process of loading is further accelerated (for the
smaller calibre guns) by making up the ammunition like that of a rifle,
with projectile and charge in a big brass-cased cartridge, so that the gun
can be loaded up by one movement, and the cartridge contains its own means
of ignition, and is fired by pulling off a trigger. The lighter
quick-firers are further mounted on pivots, so that they can be easily
moved through an arc of a circle by one man, who keeps his eyes on a moving
target and his finger on the trigger ready to fire. The storm of shells
that poured from the Japanese quick-firers was even more terrible for the
Chinese than the slower fire of the heavy guns, and of these new
quick-firing guns the Chinese only had three on the little "Kwang-ping."

                        JAPANESE FLEET
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------
                   |Tonnage.
                   |      |Heavy Guns.
                   |      |    |Quick-firers.
                   |      |    |     |Machine Guns.
        Ships.     |      |    |     |     |                 Notes.
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------
  N  {_Yoshino_    | 4150 | -- |  44 | --  |Swiftest ship in either fleet:
  e  {             |      |    |     |     |  speed 23 knots; 2-inch
  w c{             |      |    |     |     |  steel protective deck. Built
    r{             |      |    |     |     |  by Armstrong.
  p u{             |      |    |     |    {|2-inch steel protective deck.
  r i{_Matsushima_ |}    {| 12 |  16 |  6 {|  Barbette forward covered
  o s{_Ikitsushima_|}4277{| 12 |  16 |  6 {|  with 12-inch armour, and
  t e{_Hashidate_  |}    {| 12 |  16 | 15 {|  armed with a long Canet
  e r{             |      |    |     |    {|  12 1/2-inch gun.
  c s{
  t  {_Takachico_  |}3650{|  8 |  -- | 12 {|3-inch steel protective deck.
  e  {_Naniwa Kan_ |}    {|  8 |  -- | 12 {|  Speed 18 knots.
  d  {_Akitsushima_| 3150 |  1 |  12 | 10  |2 1/2-inch steel protective deck.
                   |      |    |     |     |  One long 12 1/2-inch Canet gun.
      _Chiyoda_    | 2450 | -- |  24 | 13  |Small partly armoured cruiser;
                   |      |    |     |     |  4 1/2-inch armoured belt over
                   |      |    |     |     |  two-thirds of length; 1-inch
                   |      |    |     |     |  steel protective deck.
      _Fuso_       | 3718 |  6 |  -- |  8  |4 1/2-in. armour belt  }
                   |      |    |     |     |  amidships.           } Old
      _Hiyei_      | 2200 |  9 |  -- | -- {|7-in. armour belt.     } ironclads
                   |      |    |     |    {|9-in. armour on        } launched
                   |      |    |     |    {|  battery.             } 1877-8.
      _Akagi_      |  615 |  2 |  -- |  2  |Gunboat.
      _Saikio Maru_|  600 | -- | (?) | --  |Armed merchant steamer carrying
                   |      |    |     |     |  only a few small quick-firers.
                   |      |----|-----|-----|
                   |      | 70 | 128 | 84  |
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------


                        CHINESE FLEET
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------
                   |Tonnage.
                   |      |Heavy Guns.
                   |      |    |Quick-firers.
                   |      |    |     |Machine Guns.
        Ships.     |      |    |     |     |               Notes.
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------
  A {_Chen-yuen_   |}7430{|  6 |  -- | 12 {|Coast-defence battleships, 14-inch
  r {_Ting-yuen_   |}    {|  6 |  -- | 12 {|  armour belt. Four 12-inch guns
  m {              |      |    |     |    {|  on each ship, mounted in pairs
  o {              |      |    |     |    {|  in turrets with 12-inch armour.
  u {              |      |    |     |     |
  r {_Lai-yuen_    |}2850{|  4 |  -- |  8 {|Armoured cruisers, 9 1/2-inch
  e {_King-yuen_   |}    {|  4 |  -- |  8 {|  armour belt. 8-inch armour on
  d {              |      |    |     |    {|  barbettes forward.
    {_Ping-yuen_   | 2850 |  3 |  -- |  8  |Armoured cruiser, 8-inch armour
                   |      |    |     |     |  belt; 5 inches on barbette.
  U                |      |    |     |     |
  n {_Tsi-yuen_    | 2355 |  3 |  -- | 10  |
  a {_Ching-yuen_  |}2300{|  5 |  -- | 16 {|Quickest ships in the fleet:
  r {_Chi-yuen_    |}    {|  5 |  -- | 16 {|  speed 18 knots.
  m {              |      |    |     |     |
  o {_Yang-wei_    |}1350{|  6 |  -- |  7  |
  u {_Chao-yung_   |}    {|  6 |  -- |  7  |
  r {_Kwang-chia_  | 1300 |  7 |  -- |  8  |
  e {_Kwang-ping_  | 1030 | -- |   3 |  8  |
  d {              |      |    |     |     |
                   |      |    |     |     |
  4 torpedo-boats  |      |    |     |     |
    and 3 small    |      |    |     |     |
    gunboats.      |      |    |     |     |
                   |      |----|-----|-----|
                   |      | 55 |   3 | 120 |
  -----------------+------+----+-----+-----+----------------------------------

The Chinese fleet had more armour protection. The two coast-defence
battleships were heavily armoured, and there were three other less
completely protected ironclads, although seven other ships had no armour
whatever. In the Japanese fleet the only armoured vessels were the two old
ironclads, belonging to an obsolete type, and the armour-belted "Chiyoda."
The real fighting force of the fleet was made up of the seven new protected
cruisers. Some of these had armour on the barbettes in which their long
bow-guns were mounted, but their "protection" consisted in a deck plated
with steel covering the "vitals" of the ship, boilers, engines, and
magazines, all placed as low as possible in the hull. There was some
further protection afforded by the coal-bunkers placed along the water-line
amidships. The theory of the protected cruiser was that everything below
the water-line was safeguarded by this armoured deck, and as the over-water
portion of the ship was further divided by bulk-heads into numerous
water-tight compartments, the danger of the ship being sunk was remote. The
protected cruiser is no longer regarded as having a place in the main
fighting-line. But the Japanese cruisers gave such good results in the Yalu
battle that for a while an exaggerated value was attached to it.

But in one point, and the most important of all, the Japanese had an
overwhelming advantage. The Chinese officers and men were mostly brave
enough, but almost entirely unskilled. The only really efficient officers
and engineers they had were a few Englishmen and Americans and two Germans.
The Japanese, from Admiral Count Ito, who commanded, down to the youngest
of the bluejackets, were not only brave with the inherited recklessness of
death and suffering, which is characteristic of their race, but were also
highly trained in every branch of their profession, first-rate sailors,
excellent gunners. And the fleet had for years been exercised in
manoeuvres, so that the ships could work together as an organized whole.
The spirit which animated it was that of "No surrender--Victory at any
cost." It is a standing order of the Japanese navy that if a ship should
strike her colours, the first duty of her consorts is not to try to
recapture her, but to endeavour to sink her and her crew.

The Mandarin Ting, who commanded the Chinese fleet, was more of a soldier
than a sailor, but he had some sea experience, and was a thoroughly brave
man. As soon as war was declared he was anxious to go in search of his
enemy. He urged upon the Pekin Government that the first step to be taken
was to use the Chinese fleet to attack the Japanese transports, which were
conveying troops to Korea. This would, of course, lead to a battle with the
enemy's fleet, but Ting was quite confident that he would defeat the
Japanese if he met them. In giving this advice the Chinese admiral was
reasoning on correct principles, even if his confidence in his own fighting
power was not justified by facts. To keep the fleet idle at Port Arthur or
Wei-hai-wei would be to concede the command of the sea to Japan, without an
effort to dispute it.

But the mandarins at Pekin would not accept their admiral's view. In the
first place they were alarmed at the fact that in a minor naval engagement
off the Korean coast, at the very outset of the conflict, the weak Chinese
force in action had fared very badly. The quarrel in Korea had begun
without a regular declaration of war. On the coast there were the Chinese
cruiser, "Tsi-yuen," and a small gunboat, the "Kwang-yi." On 24 July the
two ships had gone to sea to look for, and give their escort to, some
transports that were expected with reinforcements from China. In the grey
of the morning on the 25th they fell in with, and were attacked by, three
of the swift protected cruisers of the Japanese fleet, the "Yoshino,"
"Akitsushima," and "Naniwa Kan." The fight was soon over. The gunboat was
sunk, and the little cruiser was attacked at close quarters by the "Naniwa
Kan," whose shells riddled her weak conning-tower, killing all within it.
The "Tsing Yuen" fled, pursued by the "Naniwa," whose commander, by the
way, was Captain Togo, famous afterwards as the victorious admiral of the
Russo-Japanese War. The "Tsing Yuen" made good her escape, only because the
chase brought the "Naniwa Kan" on the track of the transport "Kowshing,"
and Togo stopped to dispose of her by sending her to the bottom.

This incident made the Pekin Government nervous about the fighting
qualities of their ships. And then they were afraid that if Ting went to
sea with all his ships, the Japanese fleet would elude him, and appear with
an expeditionary force at the mouth of the Pei-ho, capture the Taku forts,
and land an army to march on Pekin. They therefore ordered Admiral Ting to
collect his fleet at Port Arthur, and watch the sea-approach to the
capital.

The Japanese were therefore able to land their troops in Korea without
interruption, and soon overran the peninsula. When they were advancing to
capture Ping-yang, the Chinese began to concentrate a second army to defend
the crossing of the Yalu River, the entrance into Southern Manchuria. It
was now evident even to the Pekin mandarins that the Japanese plans did not
at this stage of the war include a raid on the Pei-ho and the Chinese
capital, so Admiral Ting was at last allowed to go to sea, in order to
protect the movement of transports along the western shores of the Korean
Bay to the mouth of the Yalu.

On 14 September five large steamers crowded with troops left Taku under the
convoy of six Chinese cruisers and four torpedo boats, bound for the mouth
of the Yalu River. Next day, as they passed Talienwan Bay, near Port
Arthur, they were joined by Ting with the rest of the fleet. On the second
day they safely reached their destination, and the troops were disembarked.
And early on the 17th Ting again put to sea with his fleet to return to
Port Arthur.

He had expected to have to fight the Japanese on his outward voyage, and he
knew that there was a still greater chance of meeting them on his way back
down the bay. He had a few white officers with him. On board his flagship,
the armour-clad "Ting-yuen" was a German artillery officer, Major von
Hanneken. On the other battleship was Commander McGiffen, formerly of the
United States navy, nominally second in command to the Chinese captain of
the "Chen-yuen," but practically acting as her commander. On some of the
other ships there were a few British-born engineer or gunnery officers, and
some of the latter had been petty officers in the English navy. By the
advice of these non-Chinese officers Ting had done something to remedy the
defects of his fleet.

A good deal of woodwork had been cut away and thrown overboard, though far
too much of it still remained, and on several ships there was a dangerous
quantity of carved ornamental wood on the upper works, much of it all the
more inflammable because it was gilded and lacquered in bright colours
which it was the practice to clean with oiled rags. The thin steel roofs of
barbettes, and the shields of many of the guns, had been removed, as the
"Tsi-yuen's" experiences in the fight with the "Naniwa Kan" had shown that
such light steel did not keep out the shells of the Japanese quick-firers,
but served only to ensure their bursting with deadly effect. Sometimes a
gun-shield had burst a shell, which if there had been no such attempt at
protection would perhaps have passed harmlessly over the heads of the
gunners. Round the barbettes of the ships sacks of coal were stacked as an
emergency method of strengthening these defences. Of coal the fleet had an
abundance, but it was woefully short of ammunition, and much of what was on
board was old and defective. If Ting had had more professional knowledge
and training, he would have been more anxious as to the probable result of
a battle.

Where were Admiral Ito and the Japanese fleet? Early in August he had
crossed the Yellow Sea with his cruiser squadron, and shown himself before
Port Arthur and Wei-hai-Wei. He drew the fire of the seaward forts at long
range, and replied with a few shots, but he made no attack. He was engaged
only in a reconnaissance, and was quite satisfied when he ascertained that
the Chinese ships were remaining in harbour. He then returned to the Korean
side of the Yellow Sea, and till nearly the middle of September was
employed in escorting the convoys of transports from Japan, and protecting
the disembarkation of the reinforcements they were bringing to Korea.

On Friday, 14 September--the same day on which the Chinese convoy with the
reinforcements for Manchuria left Taku--Ito had completed his work in
connection with the transport of Japanese troops, having landed the last
detachments at Chinampo in the estuary of the Ta-tung River. Higher up the
river General Nodzu's army was attacking the Chinese walled town of
Ping-yang. Ito sent his gunboats up the Ta-tung to co-operate with Nodzu,
and leaving his torpedo boats at the river mouth, went to sea with his
fleet. He steered for the mouth of the Yalu River, intending to reconnoitre
the Chinese positions there, and obtain information as to the reported
concentration of troops near the river mouth, but under the belief that the
enemy's fleet was still at Port Arthur, Admiral Ting was just as ignorant
of his enemy's position and movements. Early on the morning of Monday, 17
September, he had expended some ammunition in practice at floating targets
off the mouth of the Yalu. The fleet had then anchored, and the men were
given a rest while the cooks got dinner ready. This was about 11 a.m. A
little later there was unexpected news, that interrupted the cooking. The
look-outs at the mastheads of the anchored fleet reported that the smoke of
many steamers was rising above the horizon far away to the south-westward.
It was a bright sunny day, with a perfectly smooth sea, clear air, and a
blue sky, and the look-out men could easily make out that the smoke rising
above the skyline came from a long line of funnels. Admiral Ting had no
doubt it was the Japanese fleet, and he gave orders to weigh anchor and
clear for action.

Early that morning Admiral Ito had heard from coasting craft that the
Chinese fleet was at sea, and one trader retailed to him a rumour that the
fleet was anchored behind Hai-Yang island, where there was a sheltered
roadstead. But on reaching Hai-Yang he found only a few fishing-boats lying
behind the island. He continued his voyage towards the Yalu, now
anticipating a meeting with Ting, unless the Chinese admiral had already
run down the other coast of the bay, and so passed him at a distance during
the previous night.

Ito's fleet was steaming in line ahead, and was organized in two squadrons.
The van squadron was led by his second in command, Admiral Tsuboi, who had
hoisted his flag on the fast cruiser "Yoshino." After her in succession
came the cruisers "Takachico," "Akitsushima," and "Naniwa Kan." Then there
was a considerable interval between the van squadron and the leading ship
of the main squadron, the cruiser "Matsushima," flying Count Ito's flag.
Next to her came the armoured cruiser "Chiyoda"; then the "Matsushima's"
two sister ships, the cruisers "Ikitsushima" and "Hashidate." The four
ships of the van squadron and the four leading ships of the main squadron
represented the chief strength of Ito's fleet, his eight modern cruisers.
After them came the two old ironclads "Hiyei" and "Fuso," the gunboat
"Akagi," and the small armed merchant steamer "Saikio Maru." The long line
of warships steaming swiftly through the sunlight must have looked more
like a fleet arrayed for some festive occasion than squadrons prepared for
imminent battle, for every ship was painted a brilliant white, with the
gilded device of the chrysanthemum forming a broad golden shield on her
bows, and the red-and-white sun flag of Japan flew from every masthead.

At half-past eleven, half an hour after the Chinese had perceived the
approach of the Japanese fleet, the "Yoshino," which was leading the
advancing line of the van squadron, signalled that there was a dense mass
of black smoke on the horizon inshore. This was the smoke produced by
Ting's furnaces, as his ships hurriedly stoked their fires to get full
pressure on the boilers. Then the Chinese fleet was seen coming out and
forming in line of battle.

Admiral Ting formed his ships in line abreast, that is side by side with
every bow towards the enemy. In the centre were the two little battleships,
with the armoured cruisers, "Lai-yuen" and "King-yuen," to right and left
of them. On each flank of these four heavy ships there was a group of three
unarmoured cruisers--the "Ching-yuen," "Chao-yung," and "Yang-wei"--on the
right; and the "Chi-yuen," "Kwang-chia," and "Tsi-yuen," on the left. These
were the ten ships on which he relied to bear the brunt of the fighting.
Away to the left flank and rear of the line, and nearer the shore, was the
small, armour-clad "Ping-yuen," the corvette "Kwang-ping," and four torpedo
boats. The Chinese fleet was under easy steam. The ships were painted a
dull black, but had a large amount of gilding and colour on their bows,
upper works, and deck-houses, and they were all dressed with flags. The
decks had been strewn with sand, to prevent accidents by men slipping,
and flooded with water from the fire hose to minimize the danger of fire.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF THE YALU 1. THE JAPANESE ATTACK]

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF THE YALU 2. END OF THE FIGHT]

The fleets were now rapidly closing. McGiffen, the American officer of the
"Chen-yuen," was impressed with the "holiday aspect" of the scene. "The
twenty-two ships," he wrote in an account of the battle, "trim and fresh in
their paint and their bright new bunting, and gay with fluttering signal
flags, presented such a holiday aspect, that one found a difficulty in
realizing that they were not there simply for a friendly meeting."

When the range of the leading Japanese ship--the "Yoshino"--was just 5400
metres, or something less than 3 1/2 miles, the Chinese admiral fired one
of his heavy barbette guns at her from the "Ting-yuen." The shot fell
short, throwing up a great fountain of foaming water. The guns of the other
Chinese ships roared out, and the line was wrapped in smoke, but the
gunners had not the range in most cases, and their shooting was everywhere
bad. Untouched by the hostile fire, the Japanese fleet came silently on.

At first the Japanese line had been heading directly for the Chinese
centre. It now altered its course, ship after ship, the "Yoshino" leading
the line so that it would pass obliquely across the right front of the
enemy, and beyond the extreme right of his line, the wing of Ting's fleet
that was furthest from the shore. At a range of about two miles, the
"Yoshino" began replying to the Chinese fire with her bow guns and her
starboard battery, and the other ships opened as they reached the same
range. Thanks to McGiffen's narrative, we know what was the impression made
on the few skilled observers in the Chinese fleet. The advancing line of
hostile cruisers was wrapped in a dense cloud of smoke, out of which rose
their tall masts. Through the smoke came a continual flicker of the long
red flashes of the Japanese quick-firers. To men used to the old guns the
rapidity of the fire was something startling. But the Japanese had just
missed getting the range. The showers of shells were falling ahead of the
Chinese ships. The sea in front of their bows was a mass of spurting
columns and fountains of foam, and some of these geysers of sea-water shot
up so close ahead that they splashed over the Chinese ships, and numbers of
men on their forward-decks were drenched to the skin.

But as the range shortened the rain of shells began to find its target, and
fell crashing and exploding on the hulls and upper-works of the Chinese
line. It had now lost something of its first formation. The centre had
surged forward, the wings had hung back, and it had become slightly convex.
Ito in his report stated that Admiral Ting had adopted a crescent
formation, but this was only the result of his ships not keeping station
correctly. His order had been to fight in "line abreast." Presently the
line became so irregular that some of the Chinese ships were masking each
other's fire. The slow fire of the Chinese guns, ill directed as it was,
did little damage to the Japanese cruisers. But the Chinese ships were
already suffering from the shower of shells. The Japanese found themselves
faced with an unexpected difficulty of detail. In the older type of guns
the silk cartridge-case was burned when the shot was fired. But with the
quick-firers the solid drawn brass case of the cartridge, a thing like a
big metal can, is jerked out by an extractor as the breech-block is swung
back after firing, and these brass cases began to accumulate in heaps at
the gun positions. Extra men were sent to the batteries to throw them
overboard.

The "Yoshino" was now on the extreme flank of Ting's right, about a mile
away from the "Yang-wei." Count Ito signalled from the "Matsushima" for the
van squadron to circle round the enemy's fleet by changing its course to
starboard. This would bring the weaker ships of the hostile squadron under
a cross-fire from the van squadron, sweeping round astern of them, and the
main squadron crossing their bows obliquely. At the same time the ships on
the Chinese left had most of their guns masked by their consorts, and could
only fire at relatively long range with their bow guns at the rearward
ships of the Japanese main squadron. Ting was out-generalled, and was
paying the penalty of a bad formation. His weak right wing was in imminent
danger of being crushed by superior numbers and weight of fire.

The two ironclads in the Chinese centre had been made the target of the
heaviest guns in Ito's fleet. Theoretically these guns should have been
able to pierce even the heavily armoured plating of the barbettes, but no
projectile penetrated the armour of the two ships, though shot after shot
came thundering against them. Their unarmoured parts were pierced again and
again, the shells bursting as they entered, and lighting several fires that
were extinguished with difficulty.

But the unarmoured ships on the Chinese right were suffering terribly under
the cross-fire of the enemy's van and main squadrons. The two outer ships
on this flank were the "Chao Yung" and the "Yang-wei." Each of these ships
had a barbette armed with a 10-inch gun fore and aft. Amidships was a
raised structure carrying machine guns on its roof, and having on each side
of it a passage, off which opened a range of wooden cabins, oil-painted and
varnished. Under the rain of bursting shells these masses of dry,
inflammable woodwork were soon ablaze; the fire spreading rapidly made it
impossible to bring up ammunition for the guns, and the two cruisers
drifted helplessly out of the line, each wrapped in clouds of black smoke,
through which long tongues of red flame shot up into the air.

On the other flank practically no damage had been done by the few shots
fired by the Japanese in this direction. But here there was a miserable
display of cowardice on the part of the Chinese. The ship on the extreme
left was the "Tsi-yuen," which still bore the marks of her encounter with
the "Naniwa Kan," in the first days of the war. The experiences of that
adventure had evidently got on the nerves of Captain Fong, who commanded
her. As the Japanese line swung round the other flank, he suddenly left his
station and steamed at full speed away from his admiral, crossing astern of
the Japanese, at what he thought a safe distance, and heading for Port
Arthur. The rearmost Japanese cruiser, the "Chiyoda," sent a shell after
him, that dismounted one of his guns, and added wings to his flight. The
"Kwang-chia," the next ship in the Chinese line, followed his bad example,
and leaving the battle raging behind them, the two cruisers soon
disappeared over the south-western horizon. Fong, with the "Tsi-yuen,"
reached Port Arthur. He said he had been in the thick of the fight, and
only left it when the day was lost. But the evidence of his own crew was
against him. He was promptly tried by court-martial and beheaded. The other
ship, the "Kwang-chia," never reached Port Arthur. She was wrecked during
the night after the battle, with much loss of life, on a reef outside
Talienwan Bay.

There were some other instances of half-heartedness or worse among the
Chinese as the fight developed, but on the whole they fought bravely, and
many showed the most self-sacrificing courage.

While the large Japanese cruisers of the two squadrons kept perfect station
and distance, and enveloped the Chinese right wing with as much precision
as if they had been carrying out a fleet exercise in peace manoeuvres, the
older ships in their line, less speedy and handy, had dropped astern, and
were under fire from Ting's two ironclads in the centre. The "Fuso" was at
one time so close to them that one of the ironclads made an attempt to ram
her, but the Japanese ship evaded it, and running along the broken front of
the enemy, rejoined the main cruiser squadron. The other of the old
Japanese ironclads, the "Hiyei," boldly steamed between the Chinese
battleships, amid a storm of fire. Two torpedoes were discharged at her,
but both missed, and she joined the van squadron in the Chinese rear. The
little "Akagi" was for a while the target of many of the Chinese guns, and
one of her masts went over the side. Ito had signalled to her, and to the
armed merchantman, "Saikio Maru," that they might keep out of the fight,
but Japanese courage would not allow of this. The "Saikio Maru" had a
narrow escape. As the two burning cruisers drifted away from the Chinese
right, making for the Yalu, the "Saikio" pursued them, firing her light
guns. Two Chinese gunboats opened upon her and four torpedo boats steamed
out to attack her. But she turned her fire on them, and some of the
Japanese cruisers helped her by accurate shooting at long range. The
Chinese flotilla, which had expected an easy prey, turned back, and
gunboats and torpedo boats disappeared in the Yalu estuary.

But in the brief encounter the "Saikio Maru" had received a good deal of
damage from the light guns of the hostile flotilla. Her funnel was riddled,
and several steam-pipes cut through. She retired from the engagement. With
her went the "Hiyei," which had been seriously damaged in her dash through
the Chinese centre. The "Akagi" also withdrew to clear her decks, which
were encumbered with wreckage. The fall of her mast had killed her captain,
Sakamoto, and her two lieutenants were badly wounded.

So far Ting had lost four of his unarmoured cruisers, and Ito had sent out
of the fight three of his ships, the old ironclad "Hiyei," the gunboat
"Akagi," and the armed steamer "Saikio Maru." But none of these were
fighting units of serious value. His two squadrons of protected cruisers
were intact, and it was on these he counted for victory.

The second phase of the battle was a prolonged cannonade at a range of from
one to two miles. Thanks to the superior speed of the Japanese fleet, Ito
could choose position and distance, and the training of his officers and
men enabled him to concentrate his fire now on one part, now on another,
of the straggling Chinese line. His ships poured out a steady shower of
shells, whose heavy bursting charges not only scattered hurtling fragments
of steel among the Chinese crews, but also had a tendency to light a hot
fire wherever they exploded. The Chinese had a very poor supply of inferior
ammunition, most of it armour-piercing projectiles, that were practically
solid shot. Their fire was slow and ill-directed, and even when it found
its target the damage done was seldom serious.

Two more Chinese ships were soon disposed of. The cruiser "Chi-yuen" had
been pluckily fought by her Chinese captain, Tang, and her English
engineer, Purvis. She had received several shots between wind and water,
and was leaking badly. Tang knew she could not be long kept afloat, and he
made a desperate resolution to attempt to ram a Japanese ship before he
went down. As the enemy's van squadron, headed by the "Yoshino," came
sweeping to closer range with the Chinese left the "Chi-yuen" made a dash
for the leading cruiser. Even if she had not been half-sinking already, the
Chinese ship had neither the speed nor handiness to ram the swiftest ship
in the enemy's line. As the "Chi-yuen" came on, the guns of the van
squadron were concentrated on her. She was enveloped in a fierce storm of
bursting shells, and suddenly her bows plunged in the sea, her twin screws
whizzed for a moment in the air, and then all that was left to show where
she had sunk was floating wreckage and drowning men. Purvis went down with
his ship. Tang was seen swimming on an oar for a few minutes, with a big
dog--a pet of his--paddling near him. Then the dog put its paws on his
shoulders, and he was forced under and drowned.

Another Chinese cruiser, the "Lai-yuen," which lay in the line to the right
of the two armour-clads, was now seen to be burning fiercely. On board this
ship the Chinese engine-room staff showed devoted courage. While the fire
spread through the upper works, so that after the fight many of the iron
deck beams were bare and twisted out of shape, not one of the brave men
below quitted his post. Stokers, engineers, mechanics worked almost naked,
in heat like that of a furnace. Some died, all were in the doctor's hands
after the fight, but they kept the engines going, obeyed orders, and
brought the half-burnt ship out of action.

More than half of the Chinese fleet had now been destroyed or beaten off,
without any loss to the main fighting force of the Japanese. Disregarding
the Chinese cruisers, which were now badly cut up and firing harmlessly at
long range, Ito concentrated his attack on the two armour-clads. Though
each ship was hit more than four hundred times, their armour was never
pierced. Yet the Japanese had some guns that theoretically should have
penetrated it. Battle results are, however, often very different from
experimental work on the testing range.

Early in the fight a Japanese shell had cut down the foremast of the
Chinese flagship, sending overboard and drowning seven men who manned the
top--carrying away also the signal yards, so that no orders could for some
time be conveyed to the fleet. But for more than an hour Admiral Ting was
in no condition to give orders. Almost at the outset he had carelessly
taken a position that brought him within the danger arc of the blast from
his own big barbette guns. He was stunned, and for a while it was thought
that he was dead. The ship was fought by two European officers, Herr
Albrecht, a German, and Mr. Nicholls, who had formerly been a petty officer
in the British navy. Albrecht distinguished himself by more than once going
to terribly exposed positions, and personally handling the hose with which
he extinguished the fires lighted by the Japanese shells. Nicholls directed
the barbette guns with a cool courage worthy of the service in which he had
been trained, until he was killed by a bursting shell.

Two other white men, the German soldier, Captain von Hanneken, and the
American commander, McGiffen, took a prominent part in the fighting on
board the other armour-clad, the "Chen-yuen." Both had more than one narrow
escape. Von Hanneken was stunned for a while by an explosion, and slightly
wounded while at the barbette guns. When the lacquered woodwork of the bow
burst into flame and smoke, and none of the Chinese would go forward to
extinguish it, McGiffen, who was in command of the ship, dragged the
fire-hose to the danger point. Just as he had drowned the fire he was
wounded in two places and stunned by a bursting shell. He had told the men
in the barbette not to reopen fire till he rejoined them, but, to his
horror, as he recovered from the shock he saw the guns swing round and
point directly over the bow. He escaped being blown to pieces by dropping
through an open hatchway. Altogether during the fight the "Chen-yuen" was
on fire eight times.

Most of the Chinese crew fought pluckily, but there were some skulkers.
McGiffen tells how once, when there was something wrong with the revolving
gear of the barbette guns, and he went down into a recess under the
barbette to clear it, he saw a group of frightened men huddled in the
semi-darkness, and heard the voice of a Chinese officer saying: "You can't
hide down here. There are too many of us already." But he tells also of the
courage of others. The captain of one of the guns was killed as he prepared
to fire, the man's head being shattered by a shell, and his brains
scattered over the gun. Another man dragged the corpse away, took the
lanyard, looked along the sights, and fired without a moment's hesitation.
Tsao-kai, the gunnery lieutenant, was badly wounded and taken below. He had
brought his brother, a mere boy, on board for a holiday, and had him beside
him in the barbette. The boy remained there to the end, helping to pass up
ammunition, and apparently regarding the fight as an interesting game,
though he was the only unwounded individual in the barbette when the
battle ended.

McGiffen asserts that when the fight began the "Chen-yuen" had in her
magazine, besides a quantity of armour-piercing (almost solid) shot, only
three really effective shells for the 12-inch guns. Two of these were fired
early in the day. In the afternoon, in handling the ammunition, a third was
discovered. It was fired at the "Matsushima," Ito's flagship, and did
terrible execution. Ito, in his report, says that the incident occurred at
3.26 p.m., and that the shell came from the "Ting-yuen," but this appears
to have been a mistake. The shell dismounted a 5-inch gun, seriously
damaged two more, and exploded a quantity of quick-firing ammunition that
was lying ready near the guns. According to the Japanese official report,
forty-six men were killed or badly wounded. Unofficial narratives make the
loss even greater. One officer was simply blown to pieces. The flame of the
explosion set the ship on fire, and she was for a while in imminent danger
of destruction.

"The crew," writes Mr. H. W. Wilson, "with unabated gallantry and courage,
divided their attention between the fire and the enemy. The bandsmen went
to the guns, and, though the position of the ship was critical, and her
loss appalling, there was no panic. The fire was on the lower deck, just
above the magazine. In charge of the magazine were a gunner's mate and a
seaman. The shell had apparently dented the plating over the powder, and
the red glow through the crevices showed the danger. But these brave men
did not abandon their post. Stripping off their clothes, they crammed them
into the cracks, and saved the 'Matsushima'; though nearly a third of the
men above the waterline had been put out of action, the remnant got the
fire under."

While the fire was still burning the "Matsushima" steamed out of the fight,
and Ito transferred his flag to the cruiser "Hashidate." This was really
the second narrow escape the "Matsushima" had experienced during the
battle. Early in the fight a 10-inch shell had passed through her side,
killed four men in her torpedo-room, narrowly missed a loaded torpedo,
smashed up an oil-tank, and then broke into pieces. Examination of the
fragments showed there was no trace of a fuse, and a plug of cement filled
the place where the bursting charge should have been. It was really a bad
specimen of a solid shot. If it had been a live shell, it might well have
destroyed the "Matsushima." It was thanks to the wretched ammunition
supplied by swindling contractors to the mandarins that the Japanese were
able to fight the battle with such trifling loss.

After the transfer of Ito's flag to the "Hashidate" the battle became a
cannonade at an increasing range. The Chinese ammunition was running low,
and Ito, after having had his quick-firers in action for hours, had also
his magazines nearly empty. The heavy fire of the afternoon had failed to
destroy the two little "battleships" that represented the only remaining
effective units of the Chinese fleet. Ito had accomplished enough in the
destruction of the Chinese cruisers, and he had no intention of giving
their torpedo boats a chance, by spending the night near the mouth of the
Yalu River. At half-past five he broke off the engagement.

Shortness of ammunition supply and exhaustion of officers and men were
probably his real reasons, for the explanation he gave in his official
report is not very convincing. "About 5.30 p.m.," he writes, "seeing that
the 'Chen-yuen' and the 'Ting-yuen' had been joined by other ships, and
that my van squadron was separated by a great distance from my main force,
and considering that sunset was approaching, I discontinued the action, and
recalled my main squadron by signal. As the enemy's vessels proceeded on a
southerly course, I assumed that they were making for Wei-hai-wei; and
having reassembled the fleet, I proceeded upon what I supposed to be a
parallel course to that of the enemy, with the intention of renewing the
engagement in the morning, for I judged that a night action might be
disadvantageous, owing to the possibility of the ships becoming separated
in the darkness, and to the fact that the enemy had torpedo boats in
company. However, I lost sight of the Chinese, and at daylight there were
no signs of the enemy."

There really were no ships of any importance available to join the Chinese
ironclads, so one is puzzled to imagine what Ito saw. It was only when the
firing died away that Admiral Ting sent orders to the "Kwang-ping," the
transports, gunboats, and torpedo craft to come out. Only the "Kwang-ping"
and the torpedo boats obeyed. As the sun went down he formed line ahead,
and steered for Port Arthur. First came the two ironclads; then the
"Lai-yuen," with her upper works still on fire in places; then the
"Ching-yuen," "Ping-yuen," "Kwang-ping," and the torpedo boats. Far astern
the abandoned "Chao-yung" blazed like a bonfire in the twilight. Ting
honestly believed he had beaten off the Japanese fleet, and on his arrival
at Port Arthur reported a victory. But though Japanese opinion was not
quite satisfied, Ito had so damaged the Chinese fleet that henceforth he
held command of the sea. He had won his success with comparatively small
loss. Of all the units of his fleet his flagship, the "Matsushima," had
suffered most. She had two officers killed and three wounded, and 33 men
killed and 71 wounded, a total of 109, and about a third of the losses in
the entire fleet. The "Hiyei" came next in the casualty list, with 56
killed and wounded. The losses of the other ships were trifling. The
"Ikitsushima" had 31 killed and wounded; the "Akagi," 28; the
"Akitsushima," 15; the "Fuso," 14; and the "Yoshino" and "Saikio," each 11.
The "Takachico" had an officer and two men wounded; the "Naniwa Kan"
(Captain Togo's ship) one man wounded. The "Chiyoda," which lay next to the
"Matsushima," in the main squadron, had not one single casualty. The
official return of losses gave these totals:--

                   Killed.   Wounded.   Totals.
  Officers           10         16        26
  Men                80        188       268
                     --        ---       ---
                     90        204       294

There are no available returns of the Chinese loss. It was certainly much
heavier, perhaps a thousand men. But, thanks to their armour, the two
"battleships" suffered comparatively little loss, notwithstanding the
terrible fire to which they were exposed for hours. The "Ting-yuen" had 14
killed and 20 wounded, the "Chen-yuen" 7 killed and 15 wounded. The two
ships afterwards took part in the defence of Wei-hai-wei, where one was
torpedoed and the other captured by the Japanese.

When the first reports of the Yalu battle reached Europe there was much
exaggerated talk about the value of the protected cruiser. It was even said
by amateur "naval experts" that this type and not the battleship would be
the warship of the future. It is almost needless to say that the battle
conveyed no such lesson. If anything, it rather proved the enormous
resisting power of the armoured ship. If Ting, instead of his two
antiquated coast-defence armour-clads, had had a couple of up-to-date
battleships manned with trained crews, he would certainly have disposed of
a good many of the Japanese cruisers. The Japanese quite realized this, and
proceeded to build a heavily armoured fleet.

The most valuable lesson of the battle was the warning of the danger of
fires lighted by exploding shells. This had an immediate influence on ship
construction, and on the methods adopted by all navies in clearing for
action.

But the most important point of all was that the conduct of the Japanese
officers and men in the battle, and in the subsequent naval operations in
the siege of Wei-hai-wei, made the world realize that a new naval power had
arisen in the Far East.



    CHAPTER XIII

    SANTIAGO DE CUBA

    1898


The United States Navy had taken a decisive part in securing victory for
the Union in the War of Secession. It had effectively blockaded the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the Confederacy, captured New Orleans, given
valuable help to the army, in seizing the line of the Mississippi, and by
the combined effect of these operations isolated the Confederate States
from the rest of the world, destroyed their trade, and cut off their
supplies.

One would have expected that the importance of sea-power would have been
fully appreciated in the United States after such experiences, and that
steps would have been taken to form and maintain an effective fleet. But
for some twenty years after the war the American Navy was hopelessly
neglected. During this period the fleet consisted mainly of some of the
miscellaneous collection of ships of various types built or purchased
during the years of conflict. Old monitors that had engaged the batteries
of Charleston figured in the Navy List, beside sloops and steam frigates
that were little better than armed merchantmen. The only good work that was
done by the Navy Department was the training and maintenance of a corps of
excellent officers, and to their influence it was due that at last a
beginning was made of the building of a new navy.

The first ships built were of two classes. Public opinion was still
clinging to the idea that the "Monitor" was a supremely effective type of
warship, and accordingly considerable sums were expended on the building of
coast-defence vessels of this type, low-freeboard turret-ships, carrying a
couple of heavy guns in an armoured turret. But ships were also required
that could make ocean voyages, and show the flag in foreign waters, and for
this purpose a number of protected cruisers were built, full-rigged, masted
steamers, with their guns in broadside batteries.

Still, the United States possessed only a fourth or fifth-rate fleet, and
could not have sent to sea a squadron that could rank with the fleets kept
in commission regularly by several of the European powers. Advocates of the
old American plan of "having no foreign policy" even maintained that the
country had no need of an ocean-going fleet, and required only
coast-defence ships and a few light cruisers.

It was not till the end of the 'eighties that American opinion was aroused
to the danger of neglecting the sea-power of the States. The splendid
American Navy of to-day is the creation of less than twenty years of
systematic development. When the war broke out between the United States
and Spain over the Cuban question several of the new cruisers and
battleships were available, but many older ships were still in the service,
and a number of armed liners and other makeshift auxiliaries were taken
into the navy.

During the period of tension that immediately preceded the war two fleets
were concentrated on the Atlantic coast. The North Atlantic Fleet, under
Admiral Sampson, at Key West, Florida, and the reserve fleet, officially
known as the "Flying Squadron," under Commodore Schley, at Hampton Roads.
The Pacific Squadron, under Commodore Dewey, was at Hong Kong, waiting to
sail for the Philippines as soon as war was declared.

In the following list of Sampson's and Schley's squadrons, besides the
displacement of each ship, the date of her launch is noted, so as to
distinguish between the older and the newer types of warships:--

                           NORTH ATLANTIC SQUADRON.

                                 Displacement.  Date of     Speed.
                                     Tons.      Launch.     Knots.

  Armoured cruiser (flagship)--
    _New York_                       8,480        1891        21

  Battleships--
    _Iowa_                          11,296        1896        16
    _Indiana_                       10,231        1893        15 1/2

  Cruisers--
    _Cincinnati_                     3,183        1892        19
    _Detroit_      }
    _Montgomery_   }                 2,000        1892        17
    _Marblehead_   }

  Monitors--
    _Puritan_                        6,060        1883 }      12
    _Terror_                         3,990        1883 }

  Torpedo-boats--
    _Cushing_                          105        1890        22 1/2
    _Ericsson_                         120        1892        23
    _Rodgers_      }                   142        1896      { 25
    _Foote_        }                                        { 24 1/2
    _Porter_       }                   185        1896      { 28 1/2
    _Dupont_       }                                        { 27 1/2
    _Winslow_                          142        1897        24 1/2
  (Besides gunboats and tenders.)

                               FLYING SQUADRON.

  Armoured cruiser (flagship)--
    _Brooklyn_                       9,153        1895        17

  Battleships--
    _Texas_                          6,315        1892        21
    _Massachusetts_                 10,231        1893        16

  Cruisers--
    _Columbia_     }                 7,475      { 1892 }      23
    _Minneapolis_  }                            { 1893 }

These were the two fleets available for the blockade of Cuba, and the
operations of attacking coast fortifications, covering the transportation
of the army of invasion, and dealing with any naval force Spain might send
to these waters.

Other units were subsequently added to the fleet after both squadrons had
concentrated under Sampson's command.

In West Indian waters the Spaniards had only a few light craft and the old
cruiser "Reina Mercedes" at Santiago, with her boilers and engines in such
a state that she could not go to sea. For many years the Spanish Navy had
been sadly neglected, but since 1890 some armoured cruisers had been built,
and a flotilla of torpedo-boat destroyers added to the navy. A number of
antiquated units figured on the Navy List, including useless "battleships"
dating from the 'sixties, and small unarmoured cruisers little better than
gunboats. There was one fairly modern battleship, the "Pelayo," dating from
1887, but expert opinion was very divided about her value.

When the war broke out the Spanish Pacific Squadron, under Admiral Montojo,
was at Manila. To use the words of an American naval officer, it was made
up of "a number of old tubs not fit to be called warships." It was promptly
destroyed by Commodore Dewey's squadron from Hong Kong (Battle of Manila
Bay, Sunday, 1 May, 1898). It was the first American victory in the war,
and in the national rejoicing there was much exaggeration as to Dewey's
exploit, which was compared to Nelson's victories!

On the eve of the war a Spanish fleet, officially known as the Atlantic
Squadron, had been concentrated, under the command of Admiral Cervera, in
the Portuguese harbour of St. Vincent, in the Cape de Verde Islands, and
the local authorities somewhat strained the laws of neutrality by allowing
Cervera to use the port to complete his preparations for some time after
the outbreak of the war.

The composition of the squadrons was as follows:--

                                         Displacement. Date of     Speed.
                                             Tons.     Launch.     Knots.

  Armoured cruisers--
    _Infanta Maria Teresa_ (flagship) }                { 1891 }
    _Vizcaya_                         }      6890      { 1891 }      20
    _Almirante Oquendo_               }                { 1890 }
    _Cristobal Colon_                        6480        1896        20

  Torpedo-boat destroyers--
    _Terror_                          }
    _Furor_                           }       400        1896-7      28
    _Pluton_                          }

  Torpedo-boats--
    _Azor_, _Ariete_, _Rayo_.

  Auxiliary cruiser--
    _Ciudad de Cadiz_ (an  armed liner acting as mother-ship to the
      torpedo-boats).

The armoured cruisers were all of the same type, ships with an armoured
deck under water protecting the engines and magazines, a 6-inch armour
belt, and an armoured barbette fore and aft, mounting a 9 1/2-inch Hontoria
gun. They had a secondary armament of ten 6-inch quick-firers, besides a
number of lighter guns for defence against torpedo craft, and had maxims
mounted in their fighting tops. The "Cristobal Colon," originally built for
the Italian Navy as the "Giuseppe Garibaldi," and purchased by Spain and
renamed, had only the quick-firers, and had no guns in her barbettes. These
had originally been armed with Armstrong guns. The heavy Armstrongs were
taken out of her at Cadiz to be replaced by Hontorias, but these were not
ready when the war came, and the "Cristobal Colon" sailed for St. Vincent
without them. The torpedo-boat destroyers were of the best and latest type
of their class, and recently built on the Clyde.

The war in the Atlantic began by Sampson's squadron leaving Key West,
establishing the blockade of Western Cuba, reconnoitring the sea defences
of Havana, and exchanging some shells with them at long range. Then, in
order to satisfy popular feeling in America, Sampson bombarded the
batteries of San Juan, in Puerto Rico, an operation that had no real effect
on the fortunes of the war, and inflicted only trifling local loss on the
Spaniards.

An army had been assembled at Tampa, in Florida, and a huge fleet of
transports was collected to ferry it over to Cuba. Its destination was
supposed to be the western end of the island, where, in co-operation with
the insurgents by land and the fleet by sea, it would besiege and capture
Havana. But again and again the sailing of the fleet was delayed, and there
was alarm in the cities of the Atlantic states, because the newspapers
published wild reports of phantom armadas hovering off the coast. When news
came that Cervera had sailed from St. Vincent, and for many days there was
no trace of his movements, there was a quite unnecessary alarm as to what
the Spanish squadron might do. A wise Press censorship would have been very
useful to the United States, but there was little or no attempt to control
the wild rumours published by the newspapers.

For some days after the declaration of war (23 April) Cervera's squadron
lay at St. Vincent. All the ships were repainted a dead black, some coal
was taken on board, and quantities of ammunition transferred from the holds
of the "Ciudad de Cadiz" to the magazines of the cruisers. At last, on 29
April, Cervera sailed, leaving the torpedo-boats and the armed liner in
port, and taking with him only his high-speed ships, the four armoured
cruisers, and the three destroyers.

His course was westward, and it was conjectured that San Juan de Puerto
Rico was his destination. The distance is about 2400 miles, and supposing
that he would proceed at a cruising speed of ten knots, in order to
economize his coal, it was calculated that he would be across the Atlantic
in ten days, reaching the West Indies about 9 May. Two swift armed liners
that had been attached to Schley's squadron were sent out to sweep the
Western Atlantic, and it was expected that by the end of the first week in
May they would bring back news of the enemy, but 7 May came and brought no
news. Ships arriving in ports on both sides of the ocean told of having
seen the smoke of a squadron on the horizon in so many places that it
seemed as if the Atlantic must be full of fleets. Look-out stations as far
north as the New England States told of glimpses of warships seen far off
in the morning twilight, or vaguely distinguished through mist and rain.
But definite news of Cervera there was none. It seemed as if his squadron
had vanished into space.

Then there were theories started to account for his disappearance. It was
suggested that he had altered his course and gone to the coast of South
America, to intercept the battleship "Oregon," which had come round from
the Pacific to reinforce Sampson's fleet; or perhaps he was making for the
Cape or the Horn, bound on a long voyage for Manila, to destroy Dewey's
unarmoured cruisers and restore Spanish supremacy in the Philippines; or he
was ranging the oceans to prey upon American commerce.

Then came a strange report, worth remembering as a caution against too
easily accepting the rumours of wartime. From Cadiz came American Press
dispatches, duly passed by the Spanish censor, stating that Cervera's
squadron had steamed back into that port. The start westward from St.
Vincent was said to be a mere feint. The Spaniards had hoped to draw some
of the swifter American ships out into the Atlantic, and score a victory by
fighting them in European waters. Naval experts gravely discussed Cervera's
tactics. Correspondents described the position of his fleet in Cadiz
harbour. Perhaps the Spanish censor helped the misleading rumours into
circulation by letting Americans at Cadiz imagine that ships fitting out in
the harbour were the missing fleet.

At last, on 12 May, came definite news of one unit of the squadron. The
night before the destroyer "Furor" had paid a flying visit in the dark to
the French port of St. Pierre, in Martinique, probably calling for cabled
information and orders. On the 12th the "Terror" visited the same port in
broad daylight. That evening, from the hills of Martinique, four large
cruisers were seen far out at sea, steering northwards, under easy steam.
The cable from Martinique by St. Lucia to the States was out of order, and
it was not till the 15th that Admiral Sampson received the news. Several of
his heavy ships were coaling at Key West. He hurried on the work, and sent
his lighter ships to watch the Windward and Mona Passages. He sent off
Schley with the Flying Squadron to the south of Cuba, with orders to sweep
the island-fringed Caribbean sea and watch the Yucatan Channel with his
cruisers. As soon as he had completed coaling he himself sailed for the
waters north of Cuba.

Once more there was for a while no news of Cervera. After dark on 12 May he
had altered his northern course and steered a little south of west, making
for the Dutch island of Curaçao, where he expected to find some tramp
steamers laden with coal and other supplies awaiting him. On Saturday, 14
May, the "Maria Teresa" and the "Vizcaya" entered the port, the two other
cruisers, accompanied by two destroyers, remaining outside. The expected
colliers had not arrived; the Dutch authorities insisted on Cervera leaving
Curaçao within twenty-four hours, and he sailed on the Sunday without being
able to fill up his bunkers. Once more the United States cruisers failed to
sight him, as he steamed slowly across the Caribbean Sea, husbanding his
coal and steering for Cuba.

On Wednesday, 18 May, three American warships were off Santiago de Cuba.
They came so close in that the Morro battery at the entrance fired upon
them. Before sundown they steamed away. They had missed Cervera by a few
hours, for at sunrise next morning he brought his four cruisers and two
destroyers into Santiago harbour.

Santiago is the oldest Spanish city in Cuba, and was its capital in the
early days before Havana was founded.

The old city stands at the head of a landlocked arm of the sea, surrounded
by forest-clad hills, and approached through narrow ravine-like straits.
Cervera had come there to obtain coal and supplies. If he had made it only
a temporary base, and had been able to coal immediately, and put to sea to
attack the American cruisers scattered over the Caribbean waters, he might
have scored successes for a while. But he waited at Santiago till he was
hopelessly blockaded.

For some days the Washington Government, mindful of the Cadiz hoax, refused
to believe reports that the Spanish fleet was hidden behind the headlands
of Santiago harbour. It was not till 27 May that Admiral Schley obtained
definite proof of the fact, and formed the blockade of Santiago with his
squadron. Admiral Sampson then brought his fleet round, and took over the
command.

Until he reached Santiago Cervera had shown no lack of energy, but now he
was strangely devoid of enterprise. He allowed an American armed liner to
capture, off the port, a steamer that was bringing him 3000 tons of
much-needed coal, though he might have saved her by sending one of his
cruisers outside the headlands. He allowed an inferior force to blockade
the entrance for some days, without bringing out his cruisers by day to
engage them, or sending out his destroyers by night to torpedo them. He
waited until there was an overwhelming force assembled off the harbour.

Then came a month of deadlock. He was blockaded by a vastly superior force
that watched the narrow pass through which, if he left the harbour, his
fleet must come out one by one. But so long as he was within the headlands
he was unassailable.

Admiral Sampson declined to risk his ships in an attempt to force the
narrow entrance and destroy the Spanish squadron inside. An attempt to
"bottle up" Cervera, by sinking a tramp steamer, the "Merrimac," in the
entrance, proved a failure. Long-ranging bombardments produced no effect
on the Spaniards. All the plans formed at Washington for the Cuban campaign
were disorganized. The blockade of the island had become the blockade of
the one port of Santiago. If the United States Government had known how
short of supplies were the city and garrison of Santiago and Cervera's
fleet, it might have trusted to the blockade by sea and the operations of
the insurgents by land, with the help of a few regulars, to force the
Spanish admiral either to surrender or come out and fight. But it was
decided to abandon for the present the projected attack on Havana, and send
the army, collected for this purpose at Tampa, to attack Santiago by land,
and so deprive Cervera of his refuge in the harbour.

Santiago was defended by lines of entrenchments with some improvised
outworks, and garrisoned by a division under General Linares. The American
transports from Tampa began to arrive on 20 June, and the expeditionary
force, under General Shafter, was disembarked during the following days
some miles east of the city. There was then an advance over mere forest
tracks through hilly country covered with dense bush. Cervera landed seamen
gunners with machine-guns and light quick-firers to strengthen the defence,
and anchored one of his cruisers so that her heavy artillery could enfilade
an attack on the entrenchments nearest the harbour.

On 1 July Shafter made his attack. The Spaniards defended themselves with
such obstinate energy that after fighting through a long summer day only
two outposts had been taken by the Americans, and at the cost of heavy
loss. Next day there was desultory fighting along the front, but no
progress. It was difficult to bring up supplies along the forest tracks,
now sodden with tropical rains. Sickness had broken out in the American
lines. The resistance of the Spaniards showed a dogged determination that
was a surprise to the invaders.

Shafter himself was ill. Late on Saturday, 2 July, he appealed to Admiral
Sampson to help him by forcing the narrows at all costs, and in the early
hours of Sunday, the 3rd, he sent off to his Government a dispatch which
was a confession of failure.

This discouraging report was cabled to Washington early on the Sunday
morning, and caused deep dismay at the White House, but before evening news
arrived of events that had changed the whole situation.

The evening before (2 July) Mr. Ramsden, the British Consul at Santiago,
had written in his diary:--

    "It seems incredible that the Americans with their large force
    have not yet taken the place. The defence of the Spaniards has
    been really heroic, the more so when you consider that they are
    half-starved and sick. It was affirmed to-day that the squadron
    would leave this evening, but they have not done so, though the
    pilots are on board. I will believe it when I see them get out,
    and I wish they would. If they do, they will fare badly
    outside."

During the Saturday Cervera had re-embarked the seamen landed for the
defence of the city, and had got up steam. He was going out because the
presence of his crews now only added to the difficulty of feeding the
half-starved garrison and population of the place. He had a short supply of
inferior coal, and the most he hoped for was that some of his ships would
elude, or fight their way past, the blockading squadron, and reach Havana.
It is impossible to understand why, having decided to go out, he did not
make the attempt in the darkness of Saturday night, instead of waiting for
broad daylight next day.

In one respect he was fortunate. His coming out was a complete surprise for
the Americans, and found them quite unprepared, with some of their best
ships far from the scene of action. Admiral Sampson had steamed off to the
eastward in his flagship, the "New York," intending to land at Siboney for
his interview with General Shafter. The battleship "Massachusetts" had
gone with two of the lighter cruisers to coal at Guantanamo. But there were
quite enough ships left off the seaward opening of the narrows, where four
battleships, an armoured cruiser, and two light craft were keeping up the
blockade.

It was a bright summer day, with a light wind and a smooth sea. Due south
of the harbour entrance, and about 5 1/2 miles from it, lay the battleship
"Iowa." To the east of her lay the "Oregon," with the "Indiana" between her
and the land, and about two miles nearer in, west of the "Iowa," was the
battleship "Texas," with the armoured cruiser "Brooklyn," Commodore
Schley's flagship, lying between her and the land, and still nearer in the
small armed revenue cruiser "Vixen," lying about three miles south-west of
Morro Castle. On the other side of the entrance, close in to the land, was
a small armed steamer, the "Gloucester." She had been purchased by the Navy
Department on the outbreak of the war from Mr. Pierpont Morgan, the banker,
and renamed. Before this she had been known as the steam yacht
"Gloucester." She was commanded by one of the best officers of the United
States Navy, Captain Wainwright, who had been second in command of the
"Maine" when she was blown up in Havana harbour. Wainwright was to show
this day that even an armed steam yacht may do good service in a modern
naval action. All the ships except the "Oregon" and the little "Gloucester"
had let their fires burn low, and had hardly any steam pressure on their
boilers. At half-past nine the order was given for the crews to fall in for
general inspection. A few minutes later an apprentice on board the "Iowa"
called attention to a mass of black smoke rising over the headlands of the
harbour mouth. And then between the cliffs of Morro and Socapa Points
appeared the bows of Cervera's flagship. An alarm gun rang out from the
"Iowa," the signal, "Enemy escaping--clear for action," fluttered out from
the halyards of the "Brooklyn," and on every ship the bugles sounded, the
men rushed to their battle stations, and the stokers worked madly to get
steam on the boilers.

Admiral Cervera, guided by a local pilot, Miguel Lopez, had led his fleet
down the harbour, the "Maria Teresa" being followed in succession by the
cruisers "Vizcaya," "Cristobal Colon," and "Oquendo," and the destroyers
"Pluton" and "Furor." As the flagship entered the ravine of the narrows
Cervera signalled to his captains, "I wish you a speedy victory!" Miguel
Lopez, who was with him in the conning-tower, remarked that the admiral
gave his orders very deliberately, and showed no sign of anxiety or
excitement. He had asked Lopez to tell him how soon he could turn to the
westward. On a sign from the pilot, he gave the order, "Starboard!" to the
helmsman, put the engine-room indicator to "Full speed," and told his
captain to open fire. As the guns roared out Cervera turned with a smile to
Lopez and said, "You have done your part well, pilot; I hope you will come
out of this safe and be well rewarded. You have deserved it."

The cruisers had run out with an interval of about 600 yards between the
ships. There was a longer gap between the last of them and the destroyers,
but the "Furor" was out within a quarter of an hour of the "Maria Teresa's"
appearance between the headlands. That quarter of an hour had been a busy
time for the Americans. The "Brooklyn" and the four battleships had at once
headed for the opening of the harbour, the "Oregon" making the best speed
till the steam pressure rose on the boilers of her consorts. They were no
sooner moving than they opened fire with their forward guns, the Spanish
cruisers and the batteries of Socapa and Morro replying with shots, every
one of which fell short.

As Cervera turned westward the American ships also altered their course in
the same direction. And now as the huge ships of the blockading squadron,
each wrapped in a fog of smoke from her guns, converged upon the same
course, there was a momentary danger of disastrous collision between them,
a danger accentuated by an unexpected manoeuvre of Commodore Schley's ship,
the "Brooklyn." The "Texas" and the "Iowa" just cleared each other in the
smoke-cloud. As they sheered off from each other, the "Oregon," which had
been following the "Iowa," came rushing between the two ships, and the
"Brooklyn" circled past their bows, suddenly crossing their course. Schley,
in the first dash towards the Spaniards, had brought his great cruiser
within 3000 yards of the "Maria Teresa," then seeing the Spanish flagship
turning, as if to ram, he swung round to starboard, bringing his broadside
to bear on the enemy, but at the same time heading for his own battleships.
He cleared them by completing a circle, coming back thus to the westward
course, which had at the same time been resumed by the Spanish flagship. As
the "Brooklyn" turned the battleships swept up between her and the enemy,
masking her fire, the "Oregon" leading, but the speed of Schley's ship soon
enabled him to secure a forward place in the chase near the "Oregon."

While the giants were thus manoeuvring the little "Gloucester" had come
pluckily into action. Running in close under the Morro batteries, Commander
Wainwright had fired some shots at the enemy's cruisers. Then realizing
that his light guns could do them no vital harm, he almost stopped the way
on his ship, and waited to engage the destroyers. Out came the "Furor" and
"Pluton," turning eastward as they cleared the entrance, and dashing for
the "Gloucester" with a mass of foam piling up over their bows. The
"Indiana," the rearmost of the battleships, fired some long-range shots at
them, but it was a stream of small shells from the "Gloucester's"
quick-firers that stopped their rush. The "Furor" was soon drifting towards
the cliffs, enveloped in clouds of escaping steam. The "Gloucester's" fire
had killed her helmsman, wrecked her steering gear, and cut up several of
her steam-pipes, making her engine-room uninhabitable. The "Pluton," not so
badly crippled, but with her hull penetrated in several places, was next
turned back. The "New York," hurrying up from the eastward at the sound of
the firing, escorted by the torpedo-boat "Ericsson," fired on her at long
range. The "Pluton" kept her engines going just long enough to drive her
ashore under the Socapa cliffs. The "Furor" sank before she could reach the
land.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF SANTIAGO SHOWING PLACES WHERE THE
    SPANISH SHIPS WERE DESTROYED & DOTTED LINE SHOWING GENERAL
    DIRECTION OF THE RUNNING FIGHT, THUS-----]

There was now a running fight, the four Spanish cruisers steaming westward
close to the wooded shore, the American ships following them up and pouring
in a deadly fire from every gun that could be brought to bear. It was soon
evident that the Spaniards could not get up anything like their trial
speed, and their gunnery was so defective that there was small chance of
their stopping any of their pursuers by well-aimed fire, or even of
inflicting any appreciable loss or damage on them. The "Maria Teresa" was
the first to succumb. As she led the line out of the harbour she had
received the converging fire of the American ships, but she had not
suffered any serious injury. Until the American ships got up full steam the
Spaniards had gained a little on them. An Englishman, Mr. Mason, who
watched the cruisers from a hill near Morro, till at ten o'clock the curve
of the coast westward hid them from view, thought they were successfully
escaping. So far as he could see they had not been badly hit, and none of
the Americans were yet abreast of them. But soon after the ships
disappeared from the point of view near Morro, and when the "Maria Teresa"
was only some six miles from the entrance, she suffered a series of
injuries in rapid succession that put her out of action.

It was the secondary armament of the American ships, the guns of medium
calibre, that proved most effective in the running fight. It appears that
the big 13 and 12-inch barbette and turret guns only made two hits in the
whole day. Two 12-inch shells fired simultaneously from a pair of guns
struck the "Maria Teresa" just above the waterline on the port side, aft
and below her stern turret. They burst in the torpedo-room, killing and
wounding every one there, blowing a jagged hole in the starboard side, and
setting the ship on fire. An 8-inch shell came into the after battery and
exploded between decks, causing many casualties. A 5-inch shell burst in
the coal-bunkers amidships, blew up the deck, and started a second fire.
Another destructive hit was made by an 8-inch shell a few feet forward of
the point where the pair of 12-inch shells had come in. The official report
thus describes its course:--

    "An 8-inch shell struck the gun-deck just under the
    after-barbette, passed through the side of the ship, and
    exploded, ranging aft. The damage done by this shell was very
    great. All the men in the locality must have been killed or
    badly wounded. The beams were torn and ripped. The fragments of
    the shell passed across the deck and cut through the starboard
    side. This shell also cut the fire main."

Shells from the lighter artillery of the American ships riddled the
funnels, and cut up the deck-houses. One of these shells, bursting near the
forward bridge, wounded Admiral Cervera slightly in the arm. He had come
outside the conning-tower the better to watch the progress of his squadron.
The armour belt had kept the water-line of the ship intact, and her
barbettes and heavy guns were also protected efficiently by the local
armour, but the enemy's shell fire had told on the unarmoured structure,
inflicted heavy loss, and started two serious fires. All efforts to get
these under failed. The blazing tropic heat had scorched the woodwork of
the ship into tinder, the movement of the vessel produced a draught that
made the burning bunkers and decks roaring masses of flame. The men were
driven by the heat from battery and engine-room. The "Maria Teresa," with
silent guns and masses of black smoke ascending to the sky, was headed for
the land. At a quarter-past ten she drove ashore at Nimanima, 6 1/2 miles
west of Morro Castle. Some of the men swam ashore, others were taken off by
the boats of the "Gloucester," which came up just in time to help in saving
life. Commander Wainwright had to land a party to drive off a mob of Cuban
guerillas, who came down to the shore, and were murdering the hapless
Spaniards as they swam to the land. One of the "Gloucester's" boats took
out of the water Admiral Cervera and his son, Lieutenant Cervera. They were
brought on board the yacht, where Wainwright chivalrously greeted the
unfortunate admiral with the words: "I congratulate you, sir, on having
made as gallant a fight as was ever witnessed on the sea."

At half-past ten another of the Spanish cruisers was a helpless wreck only
half a mile westward of the stranded and burning flagship. This was the
"Almirante Oquendo," whose station had been last in the line. This drew
upon her a converging fire from the guns of the pursuing battleships and
cruisers. The destruction was terrible. Two guns of the secondary battery
were disabled. A shell came through the roof of the forward turret, killed
and wounded all the gun crew, and put the gun permanently out of action.
Ventilators and deck-fittings were swept away, the funnels cut up, and the
unarmoured part of the sides repeatedly pierced by shells that started
several fires amidships. It was these that made further effort to keep up
the fight hopeless. After her captain, Juan Lazaga, had been killed by a
bursting shell, the "Oquendo," now on fire in a dozen places, was driven
ashore to save life. She blew up on the beach, the explosion of her
magazines nearly cutting the wreck in two.

Of the Spanish squadron only the "Cristobal Colon" and the "Vizcaya" still
survived. The "Colon," best and newest of the cruisers, was making good
speed, and was furthest ahead. The "Vizcaya" lagged behind her, hard
pressed by several American ships, led by the "Iowa." The "Vizcaya" had
suffered severely from the fire of the pursuit. Her coal-bunkers were
ablaze on one side, and there was another fire making steady progress in
the gun-deck. Schley, in the "Brooklyn," urging his engines to the utmost,
rushed past the "Iowa," and attempted to head off the "Vizcaya." Her
gallant captain, Antonio Eulate, realized that the "Brooklyn" was the
swiftest ship in the pursuit, and that her destruction would materially
increase the chance of the "Colon" escaping. So he made a last effort to
ram or torpedo the "Brooklyn" before his own ship succumbed. He headed for
Schley with a torpedo ready in his bow over-water tube. A shell from the
"Brooklyn's" battery struck it fair, exploded the torpedo in the tube, and
blew up and set fire to the forepart of the "Vizcaya." Eulate then headed
his ship for the land, and she struck the shore under the cliffs at
Asseradores, fifteen miles west of Morro, at a quarter-past eleven. The
"Brooklyn," the "Iowa," and the "Oregon" were pouring their fire into her
as she ran aground. Another explosion blew up part of her burning decks,
and Eulate hauled down his flag. The Americans cheered as they saw the flag
come down amid the clouds of smoke, but Captain Robley Evans, of the
"Iowa," called out from the bridge to stop the cheers of his men. "Don't
cheer, boys. Those poor fellows are dying," he said. Evans, with the
"Iowa," stood by the burning ship to rescue the survivors.

The "Colon" alone remained. She had a lead of a good six miles, and many
thought she would escape. The "Brooklyn" led the pursuit, followed closely
by the battleships "Oregon" and "Texas," and the small cruiser "Vixen,"
with Sampson's flagship, the "New York," far astern, too far off to have
any real share in the action. On her trials the "Colon" had done 23 knots.
If she could have done anything like this in the rush out of Santiago, she
would have simply walked away from the Americans, but she never did more
than fourteen. For some time, even at this reduced speed, she was so far
ahead that there was no firing. It was not until ten minutes past one that
the "Brooklyn" and "Oregon" at last got within range and opened fire with
their forward heavy guns. The "Colon," with her empty barbettes, had
nothing with which to reply at the long range. In the earlier stage of the
fight she had been hit only by an 8-inch shell, which did no material
damage. As the pursuers gained on her she opened with her secondary
battery. Even now she received no serious injury, and she was never set on
fire. But her captain, Moreu, realized that lack of speed had put him at
the mercy of the enemy. As they closed in upon him and opened fire with
their heaviest guns, he turned his ship into the creek surrounded by
towering heights amid which the little Tarquino River runs into the sea,
forty-eight miles west of Morro Castle. He hauled down his flag as he
entered the creek. Without his orders the engineers opened the Kingston
valves in the engine-room, and when the Americans boarded the "Colon" she
was rapidly sinking. She went down by the stern under the cliffs on the
east side of the inlet, and lay with her bow above water and her after
decks awash. It was twenty minutes past one when she surrendered.

The men of the "Iowa" and "Gloucester" had meanwhile rescued many of the
survivors of the "Vizcaya," not without serious risk to themselves, for
there were numerous explosions, and the decks were red-hot in places. Some
of the Spaniards swam ashore, made their way through the bush to Santiago,
and joined the garrison. Captain Eulate was brought on board the "Iowa,"
and received by a guard of marines, who presented arms as he stepped from
the gangway. He offered his sword to Robley Evans, but the American captain
refused to take it. "You have surrendered," he said, "to four ships, each
heavier than your own. You did not surrender to the 'Iowa' only, so her
captain cannot take your sword."

Never in any naval action was there such complete destruction of a fleet.
Of the six ships that steamed out of Santiago that summer morning, the
"Furor" was sunk in deep water off the entrance; the "Pluton" was ashore
under the Socapa cliff. At various points along the coast columns of black
smoke rising a thousand feet into the sunlit sky showed where the burning
wrecks of the "Maria Teresa," the "Oquendo," and the "Vizcaya" lay, and
nearly fifty miles away the "Colon" was sunk at the mouth of the Tarquino
River.

And never was success obtained with such a trifling loss to the victors.
The Spanish gunnery had been wretchedly bad. The only ships hit were the
"Brooklyn" and the "Iowa," and neither received any serious damage. The
only losses by the enemy's fire were on board the "Brooklyn," where a
signalman was killed and two seamen wounded. Nine men were more or less
seriously injured by the concussion of their own guns.

It must be confessed that the gunnery of the Americans was not of a high
order. Some 6500 shells were expended during the action. The Spanish wrecks
were carefully examined, and all hits counted. Fires and explosions perhaps
obliterated the traces of some of them, but so far as could be ascertained,
the hits on the hulls and the upper works were comparatively few. And of
hits by the heavy 13-inch and 12-inch guns, only two could be traced
anywhere.

The Spanish squadron had 2300 officers and men on board when it left
Santiago. Of these 1600 were prisoners after the action. It was estimated
that in the fight 350 were killed and 150 wounded. This leaves some 200 to
be accounted for. Nearly 150 rejoined the garrison of Santiago after
swimming ashore. This leaves only fifty missing. They were probably drowned
or killed by the Cuban guerillas. The fact that three of the Spanish
cruisers had been rendered helpless by fires lighted on board by the
enemy's shells accentuated the lesson already learned from the battle of
the Yalu as to the necessity of eliminating inflammable material in the
construction and fittings of warships. The damage done to the "Vizcaya" by
the explosion of one of her own torpedoes in her bow-tube proved the
reality of a danger to which naval critics had already called attention.
Henceforth the torpedo tubes of cruisers and battleships were all made to
open below the water-line.

The result of the victory was a complete change in the situation at
Santiago. The destruction of Cervera's fleet was the "beginning of the end"
for the Spanish power in Cuba.



    CHAPTER XIV

    TSU-SHIMA

    1905


When the war of 1894-5 between China and Japan was brought to a close by
the Treaty of Shimonoseki (17 April, 1895), the Japanese were in possession
of Korea and Southern Manchuria, Port Arthur and the Liao-tung Peninsula,
Wei-hai-wei and the Pescadores Islands, and a joint naval and military
expedition was ready to seize Formosa.

By the second article China ceded to Japan the fortress and dockyard of
Port Arthur and the Liao-tung Peninsula. As soon as the terms of the treaty
were published, Russia, which was the northern neighbour of China along the
borders of Manchuria and Mongolia, and the neighbour of Japan by the
possession of Vladivostock and Saghalien, protested against the cession of
Port Arthur and its territory to the victors, arguing that the permanent
occupation of Port Arthur by a foreign Power would be a standing menace to
the Government at Pekin, and would put an end to the independence of China.
Germany and France joined in the Russian protest, and the three Powers
began to move their ships eastward. Their combined squadrons would have
been more than a match for Admiral Ito's cruisers. England had a powerful
squadron in the Eastern seas, but observed a strict neutrality in the
diplomatic strife.

If England had joined her, Japan would undoubtedly have fought rather than
yield up the fruit of her hard-won victories. But the Mikado's Ministers
realized that single-handed they could not face a Triple Alliance of
aggressive European Powers. The treaty was revised, the cession of Port
Arthur and its territory being struck out of it. They were to be restored
to China.

But the statesmen of Japan, while they yielded the point, recognized in
Russia their future rival for the empire of the East, and resolved to begin
at once preparing for a struggle in years to come which would give them
back more than they were now forced to abandon. They set to work to create
a powerful navy, and at the same time added steadily to the fighting
strength of their army, which for a while found useful war training in the
subjugation of the hill tribes of Formosa. The millions of the war
indemnity and loans negotiated abroad were expended on a great scheme of
armaments. A fleet of battleships, cruisers, and torpedo craft was built in
foreign shipyards, and the personnel of the navy was increased to provide
officers and crews. The Japanese Government went on for years patiently
preparing, regardless of conduct on the part of Russia that might have
tempted a less self-possessed Power to premature action.

The Russian Government had hardly forced Japan to abandon so large a part
of her conquests when it took advantage of the weakness of China to obtain
from the Pekin Government the right to make a railway through Manchuria to
the treaty port of Niu-chwang, and to place garrisons along the new line
for its protection, and further the right to garrison Port Arthur, use it
as a naval station, and occupy the adjacent territory. When the first
rumours of the Russo-Chinese Treaty reached Europe they were treated with
incredulity. It was said that it was impossible that Russia could cynically
claim a position which she had just declared was incompatible with the
independence of China, and which she had argued the nations of Europe could
not permit to Japan or any other Power. But presently the treaty was
published, and acted upon, Russia making Port Arthur her chief naval
station in the East, announcing a project for a great commercial port at
Talienwan Bay, and, further, occupying the treaty port of Niu-chwang. There
was a brief period of tension, during which there was a talk of various
Powers resisting this barefaced aggression, but European statesmen thought
that an easier course was open to them. Instead of resisting the aggressor,
they embarked in a policy of aggression themselves, on the plea of securing
compensations and guarantees. The weakness of China made her the ready
victim of this policy.

Foreign aggression from so many quarters called forth a patriotic movement
in China, which in 1900 culminated in the "Boxer" revolt. For a while Japan
and the European Powers, including Russia, became allies, to save their
embassies and repress the rising about Pekin. In the campaign the Japanese
forces proved themselves the most efficient of all, and their chiefs
returned home with an absolute confidence that they could successfully meet
European soldiers in the field.

Japan had made the most unsparing use of its rights in Korea, acquired by
the Treaty of Shimonoseki, all but absolutely annexing the country. After
the Boxer revolt Admiral Alexieff, who was governor of the Russian
possessions in the Far East, embarked on a dangerous policy of provocation
towards Japan. He had an ill-informed contempt for the hardy islanders. He
underrated their power of resistance, and felt sure that the mere fact that
the Russian fleet outnumbered theirs would secure the command of the sea
for Russia, and have a decisive effect in the event of a conflict. He
believed that the sooner it came the better.

The Russian fleet in the East was steadily reinforced, unit by unit. The
Japanese people began to see in these proceedings, and in the work done at
Port Arthur, a threat of early hostilities, and there was a general call on
the Government to anticipate the blow, when relations became strained
between the two countries in 1903. The Tokio Government was anxious not to
precipitate the war, for the organization of the army required some months
for completion, but the feeling in the navy, army, and civil population
forced its hand. After a brief delay of negotiations, during which both
parties worked with feverish energy to secure additional armaments,
diplomatic relations were broken off at the beginning of February, 1904,
and then, without waiting for any formal declaration of war, the Japanese
torpedo flotilla swooped down on the Russian fleet lying in the roads
outside the narrow entrance of Port Arthur, found them utterly unprepared
to meet this sudden attack, and crippled several of the ships. A second
blow was the destruction of the first-class armoured cruiser "Variag," the
Russian guardship at Chemulpo, by a Japanese squadron.

Most of the best ships in the Russian navy were in the East at the outbreak
of the war. Alexieff had, however, made the initial mistake of dividing the
force at his disposal. Away north at Vladivostock was a squadron of three
large armoured cruisers, the "Gromoboi," "Rossia," and "Rurik," and the
protected cruiser "Bogatyr." The "Variag" was isolated at Chemulpo, the
port of Seoul, doing duty that might have been left to a gunboat. At Port
Arthur, under Admiral Stark, there was a strong fleet, including seven
battleships, the "Petropavlosk," "Poltava," "Peresviet," "Pobieda,"
"Retsivan," "Sebastopol," and "Tsarevitch," the cruisers "Askold,"
"Boyarin," "Bayan," "Pallada," "Diana," and "Novik," and a flotilla of
torpedo craft and the mine-laying steamer "Yenessei." In the torpedo attack
on the evening of 8 February the "Retsivan," "Tsarevitch," and "Pallada"
were badly damaged. The "Variag" was destroyed next day, and a few days
later the "Yenessei" accidentally blew herself up while laying mines. This
series of disasters seemed for a while to have almost destroyed the
_morale_ of the fleet. Stark set to work to repair his damaged ships, made
no attempt to meet the Japanese at sea, or interfere with the transport of
their armies to the mainland of Asia, and, subordinating his fleet to the
defence of Port Arthur, even landed guns and men to strengthen the landward
works. The Japanese blockaded the port, insulted it with long-range
bombardments, and tried to block the narrow entrance by sinking old
steamers across it.

In March the arrival of the best officer in the Russian Navy, Admiral
Makharoff, for a while inspired new energy into the Port Arthur fleet. The
repairs of the injured ships were completed, and on 13 April the admiral
steamed out to challenge Togo and the main Japanese fleet to battle.
Notwithstanding precautions taken against the known danger of floating
mines, the fleet entered a tract of water where several were afloat, and
the flagship "Petropavlosk" was destroyed with fearful suddenness by the
explosion of one of them. There was great loss of life, but the most
serious blow to Russia was the death of the admiral.

After the fleet returned to the harbour there came another period of
irresolute inactivity. It was not till August, when several ships had been
injured at their anchors by the bombardment from the land batteries of the
Japanese attack, and it was evident that the port would soon be a dangerous
place for the ships, that Admiral Witjeft proceeded to sea, announcing that
he was going to Vladivostock, the cruiser squadron from that port having
been warned to come out and reinforce him on his way.

The sea-fight, known as the battle of the Tenth of August, took place a few
miles to seaward of the port. Witjeft led the fleet in his flagship the
"Tsarevitch," followed by the battleships "Retsivan," "Sebastopol,"
"Pobieda," "Poltava," and "Peresviet" (carrying the flag of the second in
command, Rear-Admiral Prince Ukhtomsky), and the cruiser division made up
of the "Askold" (carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Reitzenstein),
"Pallada," "Diana," and "Novik," besides eight destroyers. The cruiser
"Bayan" had been so damaged that she was left in port. Witjeft had a marked
superiority in battleships. Togo had had six new first-rate ships of the
class under his command at the outset of the war, but on 15 May he had lost
two of them, one-third of his battleship fleet, by a disaster like that of
the "Petropavlosk." On that May morning, while cruising off Port Arthur, he
ran into a field of drift mines, and in a few minutes the battleships
"Hatsuse" and "Yashima," and the cruiser "Yoshino," were destroyed. The
Japanese managed till the end of the war to conceal the fact that the
"Yashima" had been lost, and the Russians up to the battle of Tsu-shima
believed Togo had five of his big battleships intact. In the battle of 10
August he put in his main fighting-line the two powerful armoured cruisers
"Nisshin" and "Kasuga," purchased from the Argentine Government on the eve
of the war.

The battle began with long-range firing at 1 p.m., and continued till after
seven in the evening. It was decided by the superior gunnery of the
Japanese, and the damage done by their high explosive shells. The
"Tsarevitch," badly cut up and set on fire, was driven out of the line.
Witjeft was killed by a shell. His last word was to reiterate his order to
push for Vladivostock. As darkness came on Ukhtomsky lost heart, and led
the fleet back to Port Arthur. If he had held on he might have got through
the Japanese fleet, for their ammunition was almost exhausted when the
firing ceased. Reitzenstein, with the cruisers, tried to execute Witjeft's
last order. The "Pallada," however, left him and followed the battleships.
The rest of the cruiser squadron and the destroyers that accompanied it
were forced to part company, and only the "Novik" got through to the
northwards. The "Diana" fled southwards to the French port of Saigon; the
"Askold," with a destroyer, reached Shanghai. The battered "Tsarevitch,"
with three destroyers, took refuge at Kiao-chau. All these ships were
disarmed by the French, German, and Chinese authorities, and detained till
the end of the war, when they were restored to the Russian Government.

The "Novik" failed to get into Vladivostock, but reached a Russian port in
Saghalien, where a few days later she was tracked down and destroyed by
Japanese cruisers. The Vladivostock squadron had come out to meet the
unfortunate Witjeft. The "Boyarin" was left behind, damaged by accidentally
grounding, so the squadron was made up of the three big armoured cruisers
"Gromoboi," "Rossia," and "Rurik." They were approaching the straits of
Tsu-shima, and were as far south as Fusan, when they were discovered and
attacked by Admiral Kamimura's cruiser squadron, on 14 August. Once more
good gunnery against poor shooting decided the fight. The "Rurik" was sunk,
and the "Gromoboi" and "Rossia" returned to Vladivostock, bearing marks of
very hard hitting--riddled funnels, and sides hastily patched with plates
of iron, told of the straight shooting of the Japanese cruisers. In both
the action with the Port Arthur battleship fleet and the Vladivostock
cruiser squadron the losses of the Japanese had been very slight.

On paper the Russians had had a distinct superiority over the Japanese in
sea-power at the outset, so far as it can be measured by balancing off
battleships, cruisers, and minor craft in parallel columns. In the months
before the war there was ample material for the enterprising journalist to
work up a navy scare at Tokio. But once more it was shown that not the
number of ships but the temper and training of the men are the true measure
of power on the sea. From the first Togo had asserted his superiority, and
by asserting secured it. After the naval engagements of 10 and 14 August
the Russian Navy in the Far East accepted a position of helpless inaction.
Ukhtomsky kept what was left of the fine fleet, that had been originally
assembled at Port Arthur, anchored in the land-locked harbour till the
ships were sunk by fire of the besieging batteries.

While the Far Eastern fleet was still in being, and Port Arthur was holding
out, the Russian Government had announced its intention of sending a
second fleet from Europe to the seat of war. It had two fleets in European
waters, those of the Black Sea and the Baltic. The Black Sea fleet was not
available. International treaties barred its exit from the Dardanelles.
Only the Baltic dockyards could supply the new armada.

As soon as the news of the first torpedo attack on Port Arthur arrived, in
February, 1904, there was talk of the new fleet for the East, and
unofficially the end of June was spoken of as the time when it would be
ready to sail. From the first it was obvious that this was an over-sanguine
estimate, unless the fleet was to be made up entirely of old and weak
ships. The best units that could be made available, and without some at
least of which the fleet could hardly be sent out, were five powerful
battleships that were being completed in the Neva yards and at Cronstadt.
Two had been launched in 1901, two in 1902, and the fifth in 1903, but even
on the 1901 ships there was a large amount of work to be done. Naval
experts declared that the fleet would not be ready for a year, and that
even then the difficulty of coaling would make its voyage to the other side
of the world in war time a hopeless task for the admiral in command.

By hard work the fleet was made ready for sea by the middle of September.
The coaling difficulty was overcome by taking colliers with the fleet,
contracting with a German firm to send large coal-laden steamers to various
points on the route selected, and straining to the utmost the benevolent
neutrality of France, and using her colonial ports as halting places on the
way. There was some difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of
engineer officers, and of stokers who could manage the novel tubular
boilers of the new battleships, and the fleet was undoubtedly handicapped
by the inexperience of its engine-room and stokehold staff.

Admiral Rojdestvensky, the officer chosen for the supreme command, had an
excellent record. He was fifty-six years of age, and had served in the
navy since 1865. In the Russo-Turkish War he had distinguished himself by
brilliant attacks on Turkish ships of war with a small torpedo gunboat, the
"Vesta." He had been naval attaché in London, and had filled important
technical and official positions at St. Petersburg, being for a while chief
of the general Naval Staff. Finally he had personal knowledge of the
Eastern seas and of the Japanese navy, for he had commanded the Russian
squadron in the Far East during the war between China and Japan.

On 14 August--just after the news of the disastrous sortie of the Port
Arthur fleet had reached Europe, and on the very day that Kamimura defeated
the Vladivostock squadron and sank the "Rurik"--Admiral Rojdestvensky
hoisted his flag on board his flagship, the "Knias Suvaroff," at Cronstadt.
But there was still much work to be done, and recent mishaps to some of the
ships' machinery to be made good, so the fleet did not sail till 25 August.
Even then it was only for a few days' training cruise in the Baltic.

On the 30th the fleet was back again at Cronstadt. Engineers and mechanics
worked night and day, setting right defects in the ships, and on 11
September there was another start, this time for the port of Libau.

The fleet consisted of seven battleships, two armoured cruisers, and some
protected cruisers and torpedo-boat destroyers. It was to be joined at
Libau by a miscellaneous collection of craft--some small cruisers and a
number of merchantmen to be used as auxiliary cruisers, store, hospital,
and repair ships.

Of the five new battleships in the Neva yards four had been got ready for
sea. These were the "Borodino," "Orel," "Imperator Alexander III," and
"Knias Suvaroff." They were powerful ships of 13,000 to 13,500 tons
displacement, with engines of nominal 16,000 horse-power, and their
official speed, which they never realized, was eighteen knots. Their
heaviest armour was nine inches, and they carried two pair of 12-inch guns
fore and aft in armoured turrets, with an auxiliary armament of twelve
6-inch quick-firers besides lighter guns. The three other battleships, the
"Ossliabya," "Navarin," and "Sissoi Veliki" were older ships. The newest of
them, the "Ossliabya," launched in 1898, was on her way to the East when
the war broke out, and had turned back. She was of 12,600 tons
displacement, and claimed a speed of eighteen knots. She carried four
10-inch and eleven 6-inch guns. The other two ships were rated as having
sixteen knots speed, but probably could not much exceed twelve. Their
displacement and principal armament were:--

  _Navarin_, 10,000 tons, four 12-inch guns, eight 6-inch Q.F.
  _Sissoi Veliki_, 8880 tons, four 12-inch guns, six 6-inch Q.F.

The two armoured cruisers were old ships:--

  _Admiral Nakhimoff_, 8500 tons, eight 8-inch, ten 6-inch guns.
  _Dimitri Donskoi_, 7796 tons, six 6-inch, ten 4.7 inch guns.

Two of the protected cruisers, the "Aurora" and "Oleg," were ships of about
7000 tons, carrying for their main armament the former eight and the latter
twelve 6-inch guns. The other cruisers were four smaller ships, but some of
them were comparatively new vessels with good speed--useful as scouts.

Well manned with competent engineers and trained gunners the fleet would
have been formidable enough, notwithstanding its weaker units. But here
again it was the men that counted.

In the first week of October the fleet was taken to Revel. The Tsar arrived
there on the 9th and inspected it next day. On the 11th it sailed. But it
stopped again at Libau, until October 15, when at last it started for the
East.

There had been wild rumours that the Japanese had sent emissaries to
Europe, obtained some light craft, and fitted them as improvised
torpedo-boats for the purpose of attacking the fleet on its voyage through
the narrow waters that form the exit from the Baltic or during the crossing
of the North Sea. The Russian police attached such importance to these
canards that Rojdestvensky was warned to take precaution against attack
until he was out on the open ocean. He passed the Danish straits with his
ships partly cleared for action, fired on a Swedish merchantman and a
German fishing-boat, and, avoiding the usual course from the Skaw to the
Channel, ran by the Dogger Bank, and in a panic of false alarm opened fire
on the steam trawling fleet, sinking a boat and killing and wounding
several men. The result was an outburst of indignation in England, a
partial mobilization of the British fleet, and some days of extreme
tension, when it seemed likely that England would be drawn into the war,
with the probability that France would then, under the terms of her
alliance with Russia, have also to enter into the conflict. An agreement
was arranged under which there was to be an international inquiry into the
Dogger Bank incident, and Russia promised to make full reparation.

Meanwhile the Baltic fleet had run down Channel and across the Bay of
Biscay, and southwards to Tangier, where it was concentrated on 3 November,
watched by Lord Charles Beresford and the Channel Fleet, for the period of
sharp tension was not over. At Tangier Rojdestvensky divided his force. He
went southward along the African coast with the first division, and sent
the second division under Admiral Fölkersham into the Mediterranean to go
eastwards by the Suez Canal route. A third division had been formed at
Libau to reinforce the fleet. It was composed of the armoured cruisers
"Izumrud" and "Oleg," three auxiliary cruisers (armed liners of the
volunteer fleet), the "Terek," "Rion," and "Dnieper," a flotilla of
destroyers, and a number of storeships. It sailed from Libau on 7 November.

Rojdestvensky put into various African ports, mostly in the French
colonies, and coaled his ships from his colliers. He was at Dakar, in West
Africa, on 13 November; at Gaboon on the 26th; in Great Fish Bay on 6
December; and at Angra Pequeña on the 11th. He passed Cape Town on 19
December. Rounding the Cape, he steered for Madagascar, and on 1 January,
1905, he anchored in the Bay of Ste. Marie, near Tamatave.

On that same New Year's Day General Stoessel sent a flag of truce out to
General Nogi, to inform him that he was anxious to arrange the immediate
surrender of Port Arthur. The capitulation was signed next day. Thus at the
very moment that Rojdestvensky and the main fighting force of the Baltic
fleet established itself in the Indian Ocean, its nearest possible base in
the Eastern seas passed into Japanese hands, and the problem the Russian
admiral had to solve became more difficult.

Fölkersham, with the second division, rejoined Rojdestvensky's division in
the waters of Madagascar.

From Ste. Marie the fleet moved to the roadstead of Nossi-Bé, at the north
end of Madagascar, where it was joined in February by the reinforcements
for Libau. Rojdestvensky had now under his command an armada of some forty
ships of all kinds, including storeships and colliers. Now that Port Arthur
had fallen he seemed in no hurry to proceed eastwards.

There had been an agitation in Russia for a further reinforcement of the
fleet, and though the addition of a few more old and weak ships could add
no real strength to Rojdestvensky's armada, the Government yielded to the
clamour, and on February 15 dispatched from Libau a fourth division, under
the command of Admiral Nebogatoff. The flagship was an armoured
turret-ship, the "Imperator Nikolai I," of 9700 tons, dating from 1889, and
classed in the Navy List as a battleship; with her went three small
armoured "coast-defence battleships," the "General Admiral Apraxin," the
"Admiral Ushakoff," and the "Admiral Senyavin," all of about 4000 tons, and
the cruiser "Vladimir Monomach," of a little over 5500 tons. Rojdestvensky
seemed inclined to wait at Nossi-Bé for Nebogatoff's arrival, but the
Japanese addressed strong protests to Paris against Madagascar being made
a base of operations for a huge expedition against them; the French
Government sent pressing remonstrances to their friends at St. Petersburg,
and the admiral was ordered by cable to move on.

Sailing from Nossi-Bé on 25 March, Rojdestvensky steered first for the
Chagos Archipelago, and then for the Straits of Malacca. In the afternoon
of 8 April the fleet passed Singapore, keeping well out to sea. The ships
were burning soft coal, and an enormous cloud of black smoke trailed from
the forest of funnels. Steamers ran out from the port to see the splendid
sight of the great crowd of ships moving four abreast into the China Sea.
Before the fleet sailed many critics of naval matters had prophesied that
as Russia had no coaling stations the coaling difficulty would make it
impossible for Rojdestvensky ever to carry his fleet so far. The successful
entry into the Eastern seas was therefore regarded as something of an
exploit. It was a revelation of the far-reaching power that would belong to
better-equipped fleets in future wars.

While the Baltic fleet was on its way the Japanese Government,
patriotically supported by the Press and the people, kept a strict silence
on all naval matters. There were wild conjectures that under this veil of
secrecy Togo had moved southwards, that he would fall on his enemy during
the voyage across the Indian Ocean, or wait for him in the China Sea. But
the Japanese admiral had no reason for embarking in such adventures. He
knew that if he kept his fleet near the shores of Japan his enemy must come
sooner or later within effective striking distance.

Rojdestvensky might attempt a raid on the coasts of Japan, or make a dash
for Niu-chwang to seize that port, now the nearest base of supply of the
Japanese field army. Far-seeing precautions were taken against this
eventuality by accumulating enormous stores of supplies in the immediate
rear of the army. But it was far more likely that the Russian admiral would
try to reach Vladivostock, either with or without a battle. To do so he
would have ultimately to pass through one of three channels into the Sea of
Japan. He must choose between the Korean or Tsu-shima straits between Japan
and Korea, or the Tsugaru channel between Nippon and Yozo, or the La
Pérouse Straits (known to the Japanese as the Soya channel) still further
north. Whatever course he chose, the best position for the Japanese fleet
was near the Tsu-shima straits, with the arsenal and dockyard of
Shimonoseki close by on the Japanese shore. This the Russians themselves
foresaw would be the most likely position for Togo to select.

He made Masampho Bay on the Korean side of the straits, and inside them
(the "Douglas Bay" of our Admiralty Charts), the station for his fleet.
Freed from all harassing blockading and cruising work, he devoted the
period between the retirement and destruction of the Port Arthur fleet in
the late summer of 1904, and the approach of the Russians in May, 1905, to
repairing his ships very thoroughly, substituting new guns for those they
had mounted at the beginning of the war, which had had their rifling worn
down. Continual target practice and manoeuvre exercises kept every ship and
every man up to the mark. Charts of the sea around Japan were ruled off
into small numbered squares, so as to facilitate the reporting of the
enemy's position and movements from the moment he would be first sighted.
An elaborate system of scouting by light cruisers was organized; signal
stations were established on islands and headlands, and wireless
installations erected at central and outlying points. If Rojdestvensky made
for the Tsu-shima channels, Togo was there to meet him. If he went for
either of the more northern straits, the Japanese admiral counted on having
news of his movements in sufficient time to enable him to steam at full
speed by a shorter route, and still interpose between the Baltic armada and
Vladivostock.

After passing Singapore, on 25 March, there was another delay before the
final advance of the Russian fleet. Rojdestvensky was anxious to give time
to Nebogatoff to join him. This last reinforcement was coming by the
Mediterranean route. The Russian commander-in-chief again strained French
neutrality to the utmost. In April and May he passed week after week in the
ports of French Cochin China, first at Kamranh and then at Van Fong or
Honkohe. Here, early in May, he was at last joined by Nebogatoff's
squadron.

Again Japan protested against the use of French harbours by her enemy. The
diplomatic tension became acute, and at one moment it seemed as if the
Russian admiral were anxious to produce complications that would force
France into the war. But at last, to the general relief, on 14 May he
sailed from Honkohe Bay. He passed through the Bashi Strait between Formosa
and the Philippines, and then steered for Shanghai. Here, on 25 May, the
fighting portion of the fleet lay out at sea, while a crowd of auxiliary
steamers, colliers, store-ships, and armed merchantmen were sent into the
Wusung River, the mouth of the Yang-tse, and anchored there.

Their appearance without the fleet to which they belonged led to many
conjectures. The Japanese at once grasped its real meaning. To quote the
message cabled by the Tokio correspondent of "The Times":--

    "They read it as a plain intimation that Rojdestvensky intended
    to put his fate to the test at Tsu-shima, since, had it been his
    purpose to make for Tsugaru or Soya, he must have retained the
    services of these auxiliary ships during several days longer. It
    is apparent, indeed, that the Russian admiral here made his
    first cardinal mistake; he should have kept his non-combatant
    vessels out of sight as long as possible. Their absence from the
    arena would have been a mysterious element, whereas their
    apparition, especially as a segregated squadron in the Yang-tse
    River, furnished an unerring clue to expert observers."

With the fleet the admiral retained only the hospital and repairing ships
and those laden with naval stores for the Vladivostock dockyard. On the
evening of the 25th the fleet stood out to sea heading for Tsu-shima. The
weather was bad, with a probability that it would be worse. There was a
rising wind and sea with cold rain that made a blinding haze, but the
Russian staff officers were rather pleased than depressed at such
unpleasant conditions. Thick weather would baffle the Japanese scouts and
lookout stations, and rough seas would keep their torpedo flotillas at
anchor.

Out ahead were the fast cruisers of the scouting division, the "Svietlana,"
"Almaz," and "Ural." After these came the main body of the fleet in line
ahead in two columns, the heavy armour-clads on the starboard (right side),
the rest of the armoured ships and four cruisers in the port line. Abreast
of the leading ships each flank was guarded by a cruiser and two torpedo
destroyers. After the fighting lines and between their foaming wakes
steamed four store-ships and two repairing ships. Last of all were the two
steamers fitted as hospital ships. The arrangement is best shown by a rough
diagram:--

                                 _Svietlana_.

                                 (Cruisers.)
                    _Almaz_.                   _Ural_.

                PORT LINE.                 STARBOARD LINE.
  (Cruiser.)                                                     (Cruiser.)
  _Jemschug_.  _Imperator Nikolai_.       _Knias Suvaroff_.      _Izumrud_.
  2 torpedo    _Admiral Senyavin_.        _Imperator Alexander_.  2 torpedo
  destroyers.  _Admiral Apraxin_.         _Borodino_.           destroyers.
               _Admiral Ushakoff_.        _Orel_.
              {_Oleg_.                    _Ossliabya_.
    Cruisers. {_Aurora_.                  _Sissoi Veliki_.
              {_Dimitri Donskoi_.         _Navarin_.
              {_Alexander Monomach_.      _Admiral Nakhimoff_.
          5 torpedo destroyers.
                             _Anadir_.      }
                             _Irtish_.      } Store-ships.
                             _Korea_.       }
                             _Kamschatka_.  }
                             _Svir_.   } Repairing ships and tugs.
                             _Russ_.   }

                             _Orel_.       _Kostroma_.
                             |_______________________|
                                   Hospital ships.

In this order the great fleet steamed slowly through the rain and darkness.
On board the great battleships there was much grumbling at "Nebogatoff's
old tubs," though they themselves could not do much better, for poor coal,
inefficient stoking, and weed-grown bottom-plates handicapped even the
newest of them. The next day, 26 May, was the eve of the greatest naval
battle in all history. "The clouds began to break and the sun shone
fitfully," says Captain Semenoff,[23] "but although a fairly fresh
south-westerly wind had sprung up, a thick mist still lay upon the water."
Rojdestvensky meant to pass the perilous straits in daylight, and he
calculated that by noon next day the fleet would be in the narrows of
Tsu-shima.

    [23] Semenoff had served with the Port Arthur fleet on board one
    of the cruisers which were disarmed in a neutral port after the
    battle of August 10th, 1904. He then returned to Europe, was
    attached to the staff of the Baltic fleet, and went out to the
    East on board the flagship. His remarkable narrative, "The
    Battle of Tsu-shima," is a vivid detailed account of the
    "Suvaroff's" fortunes during the fight. He died in 1910.

Behind that portal of the Sea of Japan Togo was waiting confidently for his
enemy, who, he knew, must now be near at hand. Never before had two such
powerful fleets met in battle, and the fate of the East hung upon the
result of their encounter.

That result must depend mainly upon the heavy armoured ships. In these and
in the number of guns of the largest calibre, the Russians had an advantage
so far as mere figures went, as the following tables show:--

                          ARMOURED SHIPS
          Class.                              Japan.  Russia.
  Battleships                                   4        8
  Coast-defence armour-clad                    --        3
  Armoured cruisers                             8        3
                                               --       --
        Total                                  12       14

                            HEAVY GUNS
                                                    Quick-firers.
   Guns.        12-inch. 10-inch. 9-inch. 8-inch. |---------------|
                                                  6-inch. 4.7-inch.
  Japan           16        1      --      30      160      --
  Russia          26       15       4       8      102      30[24]

    [24] These tables are from Sir George Sydenham Clarke's preface
    to Captain Lindsay's translation of Semenoff's "Tsu-shima,"
    p. 11.

The annexed tables (pp. 315, 316) give some details of Russian and Japanese
armoured ships.

With regard to the armour it must be kept in mind for purposes of
comparison that the armoured belts of the newer ships, nine inches at the
thickest part, were of Harveyized or Krupp steel, and could resist
penetration better than the thicker belts of the older ships. It will be
noticed that the Japanese carried fewer of the heavier types of guns, but
had more 6-inch quick-firers than the Russians. This is a point to bear in
mind in following the story of the battle. It was the steady rain of
100-pounder shells from the quick-firers that paralysed the fighting power
of the Russian ships.

Far more important than the mere number of guns was the fact that the
Japanese shot straighter and had a more effective projectile. There was
such a marked difference between the effect of the Japanese shells at
Tsu-shima and in the naval battle of 10 August, 1904, that Captain
Semenoff, who was present at both battles, thought that in the interval the
Japanese must have adopted a more powerful kind of high explosive for their
bursting charges. This was not the case. Throughout the war the Japanese
used for their bursting charges the famous Chimose powder. But perhaps
between 10 August, 1904, and the following May they had improved their
fuses, so as to detonate the charge more certainly and thoroughly.

The first five battleships on the Russian list were up-to-date modern
vessels. The "Navarin" was fairly fit to lie in line with them. The rest
were, to use a familiar expression, "a scratch lot," coast-defence ships of
small speed and old craft quite out of date. The decks of the larger ships
were encumbered with an extra supply of coal, and this must have seriously
diminished their margin of stability, with, as we shall see, disastrous
results.

Admiral Togo could oppose to them only four modern battleships. But his two
heavy cruisers, the "Nisshin" and "Kasuga" (the ships bought from Argentina
on the eve of the war), might almost have been classed as smaller
battleships, and certainly would have been given that rank a few years
earlier. His fine fleet of armoured cruisers were at least a match for the
Russian coast-defence ships and the older battleships.

                                       RUSSIA
  ----------+--------------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------
    Class.  |                    |       |    |             |    |
            |       Ships.       |       |    |             |    |
            |                    |Displacement. Tons.       |    |
            |                    |       |Thickest Armour. Inches.
            |                    |       |    |Principal Armament. Guns.
            |                    |       |    |             |Men.|
            |                    |       |    |             |    |      Remarks.
  ----------+--------------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------
           {|_Knias Suvaroff_    |}      |    |             |    |Flagship of Admiral
           {|                    |}      |    |             |    |Rojdestvensky.
           {|_Imperator          |}      |    |             |    |  These four
           {|  Alexander III_    |}13,516| 9  |{ 4 12-inch }| 740|  ships were
  B        {|_Borodino_          |}      |    |{12  6-inch }|    |  all completed
  a        {|_Orel_              |}      |    |             |    |  in 1904.
  t        {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  t        {|_Ossliabya_         | 12,674| 9  |{ 4 10-inch }| 732|Flagship of Rear-
  l        {|                    |       |    |{11  6-inch }|    |Admiral Fölkersham.
  e        {|                    |       |    |             |    |Completed 1901.
  s        {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  h        {|_Sissoi Veliki_     |  8,880|15.7|{ 4 12-inch }| 550|Completed 1894.
  i        {|                    |       |    |{ 6  6-inch }|    |
  p        {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  s        {|_Navarin_           | 10,206|16  |{ 4 12-inch }| 550|     "    1895.
           {|                    |       |    |{ 8  6-inch }|    |
           {|                    |       |    |             |    |
           {|_Imperator          |  9,672|14  |{ 4  9-inch }| 604|     "    1892.
           {|  Nikolai I_        |       |    |{ 8  6-inch }|    |Flagship of Rear-
           {|                    |       |    |             |    |Admiral Nebogatoff.
            |                    |       |    |             |    |
  C d  A c  |                    |       |    |             |    |
  o e  r l {|_General Admiral    |  4,162|10  |{ 3 10-inch }| 400|Completed 1898.
  a f  m a {|  Apraxin_          |       |    |{ 4  6-inch }|    |
  s e  o d {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  t n  u s {|_Admiral Senyavin_  |} 4,684|10  |{ 4  9-inch }| 400|     "    1895.
  - c  r   {|_Admiral Ushakoff_  |}      |    |{ 4  6-inch }|    |
    e  -    |                    |       |    |             |    |
            |                    |       |    |             |    |
  A C      {|_Admiral Nakhimoff_ |  8,524|10  |{ 8  8-inch }| 567|Completed 1888.
  r r      {|                    |       |    |{10  6-inch }|    |Reconstructed 1895.
  m u      {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  o i      {|_Dimitri Donskoi_   |  6,200| 7  |{ 6  6-inch }| 510|Completed 1885.
  u s      {|                    |       |    |{10 4.7-inch}|    |Reconstructed 1896.
  r e      {|                    |       |    |             |    |
  e r      {|_Vladimir Monomach_ |  5,593|10  |{ 5  8-inch }| 550|Completed 1885.
  d s      {|                    |       |    |{12  6-inch }|    |Rearmed 1898.
  ----------+--------------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------

                                       JAPAN
  ------+-------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------------
  Class.|             |       |    |             |    |
        | Ships.[25]  |       |    |             |    |
        |             |Displacement. Tons.       |    |
        |             |       |Thickest Armour. Inches.
        |             |       |    |Principal Armaments. Guns.
        |             |       |    |             |Men.|
        |             |       |    |             |    |       Remarks.
  ------+-------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------------
  B s  {|_Mikasa_     | 15,200|  9 |{ 4 12-inch } |795|Completed 1902. Flagship
  a h  {|             |       |    |{14  6-inch }|    |of Admiral Togo.
  t i  {|             |       |    |             |    |
  t p  {|_Skikishima_ |}14,850|  9 |{ 4 12-inch }| 810|Completed 1899.
  l s  {|_Asahi_      |}      |    |{14  6-inch }|    |
  e    {|             |       |    |             |    |
  -    {|_Fuji_       |12,320 | 14 |{ 4 12-inch }| 600|     "    1897.
       {|             |       |    |{10  6-inch }|    |
        |             |       |    |             |    |
        |             |       |    |             |    |
       {|_Nisshin_    |} 7,294|  6 |{ 4  8-inch }| 500|     "    1904. _Nisshin_
       {|_Kasuga_     |}      |    |{14  6-inch }|    |was flagship
       {|             |       |    |             |    |of Vice-Admiral Misu.
       {|             |       |    |             |    |
  A C  {|_Idzumo_     |} 9,750|  7 |{ 4  8-inch }| 500|Completed 1901.
  r r  {|_Iwate_      |}      |    |{14  6-inch }|    |_Idzumo_--flagship of
  m u  {|             |       |    |             |    |Vice-Admiral Kamimura.
  o i  {|             |       |    |             |    |
  u s  {|_Adzumo_     |  9,436|  7 |{ 4  8-inch }| 500|Completed 1901.
  r e  {|             |       |    |{12  6-inch }|    |
  e r  {|             |       |    |             |    |
  d s  {|_Asama_      |} 9,700|  7 |{ 4  8-inch }| 500|     "    1899.
       {|_Tokiwa_     |}      |    |{14  6-inch }|    |
       {|             |       |    |             |    |
       {|_Yakumo_     |  9,850|  7 |{ 4  8-inch }| 498|     "    1901.
       {|             |       |    |{12  6-inch }|    |
  ------+-------------+-------+----+-------------+----+-------------------------

    [25] The old turret-ship _Chin-yen_--captured from the Chinese
    (formerly the _Chen-yuen_) (4 12-inch and 4 6-inch guns)--was
    with the fleet, but is not included in a list of effective
    armour-clads.

Besides his armoured ships, Admiral Rojdestvensky had a squadron of six
protected cruisers under Rear-Admiral Enquist, whose flag flew in the
"Oleg," a vessel of 6750 tons launched in 1903, and completed next year.
She had for her principal armament twelve six-inch quick-firers. The other
cruisers were the "Aurora," of a little over 6000 tons, the "Svietlana," of
nearly 4000, the "Jemschug," and "Izumrud," of 3000 tons (these two armed
with 47 quick-firing guns), and the "Almaz," of 3285, a "scout" of good
speed, carrying nothing heavier than 12-pounders. There was one auxiliary
cruiser, the "Ural,"[26] a flotilla of nine destroyers, four transports,
two repairing ships, and two hospital steamers.

    [26] A German Atlantic liner purchased at the beginning of the
    war--formerly known as the "Königin Maria Theresa"--"roomy and
    luxurious, but as a warship useless," says the Naval Constructor
    Politovsky, Chief Engineer of the Baltic Fleet.

Awaiting the battle in sight of his own shores, Togo had concentrated as
auxiliary squadrons to his armoured fleet a considerable number of
protected cruisers and a whole swarm of torpedo craft. At this stage of her
naval development, and on the eve of a life-and-death struggle, Japan had
no idea of "scrapping" even the older ships. Anything that could carry a
few good guns, and brave men to fight them, might be useful, so even the
old Chinese ironclad which had carried Ting's flag at the Yalu battle, a
ship dating from 1882, was under steam in one of the auxiliary squadrons,
with four new 12-inch guns in her barbettes.

There were three of these auxiliary squadrons, commanded by Rear-Admiral
Dewa, Rear-Admiral Uriu, and Rear-Admiral Kataoka, the last having as a
subordinate commander Rear-Admiral Togo, a relative of the
commander-in-chief. Dewa's flag flew in the "Kasagi," a fine cruiser of
nearly 5000 tons, built in America, and he had with him her sister ships,
the "Chitose" and "Taka-sago." Uriu's flag flew in the "Naniwa," Togo's
ship when he was a captain in the Chinese war. Several of the fine cruisers
which Ito had then led to victory were present, many of them remodelled,
and all provided with new guns. Then there were a number of small protected
cruisers, built in Japanese dockyards since the Chinese war, the heralds of
the later time when the Japanese navy would all be home-built. Battleships,
armoured cruisers, and protected cruisers were all swifter than the Russian
ships. The fleet as a whole could manoeuvre at fully fifty per cent greater
speed than the enemy, and this meant that it could choose its own position
in battle.

The five torpedo squadrons included two or three torpedo-gunboats,
twenty-one fine destroyers, and some eighty torpedo-boats. Togo's plans had
the simplicity which is a necessity in the rough game of war, where
elaborate schemes are likely to go wrong. Some of the swift protected
cruisers were scouting south of the straits. The fleet was anchored in a
body in Masampho Bay, and in wireless communication with its scouts. The
armoured fleet was to make the main attack on the head of the Russian
advance. The protected cruiser squadrons were to sweep round the enemy's
flanks, fall upon his rear, and destroy his transports and auxiliaries. The
torpedo flotilla was to be ready to dash in and complete the defeat of the
enemy when his fleet was crippled by the fight with the heavy ships.

Most of the officers and men of the Russian fleet had the dogged courage
that could carry them through even a hopeless fight, but they looked
forward to the immediate future with forebodings of disaster. Even among
the officers on board the great "Suvaroff" there was a feeling that the
most that could be hoped for was that a few ships would struggle through
to Vladivostock, if there was a battle, and that the best thing that could
happen would be for the thick weather and rough seas to enable them to
avoid anything like a close fight with the Japanese.

During the last day before the fight Rojdestvensky, who did not want to
hurry forward, but was timing his advance so as to pass the straits in the
middle of the next day, spent some time in manoeuvres. Captain Semenoff's
notes on the proceedings convey a useful lesson.

    "Once again" (he says), "and for the last time, we were forcibly
    reminded of the old truism that a 'fleet' is created by long
    practice at sea in time of peace (cruising, not remaining in
    port), and that a collection of ships of various types hastily
    collected, which have only learned to sail together on the way
    to the theatre of operations, is no fleet, but a chance
    concourse of vessels."[27]

    [27] "Tsu-shima," p. 10.

Wireless telegraphy had come into use since the last naval war, and a fleet
could now try to overhear the aerial messages of an enemy. In the Russian
fleet the order had been given that no wireless messages were to be sent.
In other words, the operators were to keep silence, and listen by watching
their apparatus. In the morning of the 26th they thought they detected
messages passing. In the evening these were more frequent--"short messages
of a word or two" was the interpretation that the experts in the signal
cabins put upon the unintelligible flickerings of the indicator, and they
suggested that they were mere negative code-signals from the Japanese
scouts to their main fleet, repeating an indication that they were on the
alert, and had seen nothing. This was mere guesswork, however, and
Politovsky's diary of the voyage[28] shows that near the Cape, at
Madagascar, and out in the midst of the Indian Ocean, Rojdestvensky's
wireless operators had thought that they detected Japanese aerial
signalling, simply because the receivers gave indications they could not
understand. Possibly these were merely the effect of electric storms on the
apparatus.

    [28] "From Libau to Tsu-shima." By the late Eugene S.
    Politovsky. Translated by Major F. R. Godvey, R.M.L.I. 1906.

Once or twice, on 26 May, they thought they could read fragments of
sentences, such as--"Last night--nothing--eleven lights--not in line." The
short messages in the evening came at fixed times. This showed that
prearranged signalling was really going on. It gave the impression that
perhaps the fleet was being watched by unseen enemies.

As the sun went down the ships closed up, and half the officers were
detailed for duty at the guns during the hours of darkness. The rest lay
down fully dressed, ready to turn out at a moment's notice. Many slept on
the decks. No lights were shown. Semenoff's description of that night of
anxious expectation is worth quoting. He was on board the flagship, the
"Suvaroff":--

    "The night came on dark. The mist seemed to grow denser, and
    through it but few stars could be seen. On the dark deck there
    prevailed a strained stillness, broken at times only by the
    sighs of the sleepers, the steps of an officer, or by an order
    given in an undertone. Near the guns the motionless figures of
    their crews seemed like dead, but all were wide awake, gazing
    keenly into the darkness. Was not that the dark shadow of a
    torpedo-boat? They listened attentively. Surely the throb of her
    engines and the noise of steam would betray an invisible foe.
    Stepping carefully, so as not to disturb the sleepers, I went
    round the bridges and decks, and then proceeded to the
    engine-room. For a moment the bright light blinded me. Here life
    and movement were visible on all sides. Men were nimbly running
    up and down the ladders; there was a tinkling of bells and a
    buzzing of voices. Orders were being transmitted loudly, but on
    looking more intently, the tension and anxiety--that same
    peculiar frame of mind so noticeable on deck--could also be
    observed."[29]

    [29] "Tsu-shima," pp. 27, 28.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA
    SKETCH MAP TO SHOW THE EXTENT OF THE WATERS IN WHICH THE FIRST
    PART OF THE FIGHT TOOK PLACE. THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE KOREAN
    (OR TSU-SHIMA) STRAITS ARE MAPPED IN BLACK, & AN OUTLINE MAP OF
    THE NORTH SEA BETWEEN THE EASTERN COUNTIES OF ENGLAND & THE
    OPPOSITE COAST OF THE CONTINENT IS SKETCHED OVER THE MAP IN RED
    ON THE SAME SCALE]

At daybreak the Japanese scouts were in touch. As the day came in grey
light over the misty broken sea, one of their scouts, the auxiliary cruiser
"Siano Maru" (an armed passenger liner), sweeping round through the haze,
almost collided with the hospital ships, and then dashed off and
disappeared in the twilight. In former wars she would have had to run back
to the fleet with her news. Now from her wireless apparatus the information
was sent through the air to the receivers of the "Mikasa" in Masampho Bay,
and in a few minutes Togo knew that "the enemy's fleet was in square No.
203 of the chart, apparently steering for the eastern passage," i.e. the
strait between Tsu-shima Island and Japan.

In the straits and outside Masampho Bay a heavy sea was running, and though
the wind blew strongly from the south-west, the weather was still hazy at
sunrise, with patches of fog here and there. The main body of the Japanese
fleet began to get up anchors and slip from its moorings.[30]

    [30] English people have so seldom occasion or opportunity of
    consulting large-scale maps of Japan, that there is an
    impression that the battle of Tsu-shima was fought in narrow
    waters, where there was no chance of the Russians eluding Togo
    and little room for manoeuvring. The strait in which the battle
    took place is really about as wide as the North Sea between
    Harwich and the Hook of Holland. (See accompanying sketch map.)

At dawn Rojdestvensky had called in the "Almaz," leaving the "Jemschug" and
"Izumrud" steaming in advance of his two divisions. The six auxiliary ships
had closed up, so that the leading ship, the transport "Anadir," was
abreast of the centre of the two lines. The "Almaz," "Svietlana," and
"Ural," steamed at the rear of this central line of transports, to protect
them in that direction. The two hospital ships, flying the Red Cross flag
and trusting to it for safety, were well astern. About 6 a.m. the huge
"Ural" came running up between the lines, and semaphored to the flagship
that four ships in line ahead were passing across the rear of the fleet,
but could not be clearly made out in the mist.

They could only be some of Togo's cruisers "shepherding" the fleet. Just
before seven a fine cruiser was seen some five miles away on the starboard
beam of the "Suvaroff." She closed up to three miles, and was soon
identified as the "Idzumo." The big turret-guns were swung round to bear on
her, but the Japanese cruiser, having seen what she wanted, increased her
distance, but could be seen still keeping the fleet in sight. Togo's report
notes that at 7 a.m. the "Idzumo" sent by wireless the second definite
report of the enemy, stating that he was twenty-five miles north-west of
Ukushima, steering north-east. This would make the Russian position about
thirty miles south of the Tsu-shima Islands, heading for the channel to the
east of them. An hour later, about 8 a.m., some Japanese ships showed
themselves the other side of the fleet. Semenoff notes how:--

    "The 'Chin-yen,' 'Matsushima,' 'Itsukushima,' and 'Hashidate,'
    appeared out of the mist, steaming on an almost parallel course.
    Ahead of them was a small, light cruiser, apparently the
    'Akitsushu,' which hurriedly drew off to the north as soon as we
    were able to see her well (and equally she us), and the whole
    squadron began slowly to increase their distance and gradually
    to disappear from sight."

This was Vice-Admiral Takeomi's division, composed of three of the cruisers
that had fought at the Yalu battle, eleven years before, and the
"Chin-yen," which had fought against them as the "Ting-yuen." The ship that
ran out ahead was the only quick or modern ship in the squadron, the small
Clyde-built armoured cruiser "Chiyoda." If Rojdestvensky had had any speedy
cruisers available, he might have severely punished this slow squadron of
old ships. Takeomi showed he knew his enemy by thus boldly approaching in
the mist.

The Russians now realized that they had watchful enemies all round them,
and rightly conjectured that they would find the enemy's heavy ships in
the straits ready for battle.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA. GENERAL MAP]

At 10 a.m. another cruiser squadron appeared on the port beam. This was
Dewa's division, made up of the American-built sister ships "Kasagi" and
"Chitose," of nearly 5000 tons, and two smaller protected cruisers, the
"Niitaka" and "Otowa," lately turned out by Japanese yards. They seemed to
invite attack. At a signal from the admiral, the eight armour-clads of the
starboard line steamed ahead of the port line, turned together to port, and
then, turning again, formed line ahead, leading the whole fleet. At the
same time the transports moved out to Starboard, guarded by the "Vladimir
Monomach" (detached from the port division), the "Svietlana," "Almaz," and
"Ural."

Dewa's cruisers held a parallel course with the Russian battleships for
more than an hour, still apparently unsupported. The range was about five
miles. At 11.20 the Russians opened fire on them. Semenoff says that it was
the result of a mistake. "The 'Orel' fired an accidental shot (which she
immediately reported by semaphore). Unable, with smokeless powder, to tell
by which of the leading ships it had been fired, the fleet took it as a
signal from the 'Suvaroff' and opened fire. Of the whole fleet the fire of
the 3rd Squadron was the heaviest."

This squadron was made up of Nebogatoff's "old tubs." Their heavy fire was
probably the result of undisciplined excitement. The Japanese fired a few
shots in reply, but no harm was done on either side. Rojdestvensky, who had
kept the guns of his flagship silent, signalled "Ammunition not to be
wasted," and the firing ceased in five minutes, just as the Japanese turned
slowly and increased their distance.

Orders were now signalled for the men of the Russian fleet to have their
dinners, and the officers lunched in turn. The harmless skirmish encouraged
some of the Russian crews with the idea that they had been in action and
were none the worse, and had driven the Japanese away. At noon the fleet
was due south of Tsu-shima, which towered like a mountain out of the sea a
few miles ahead. The signal was hoisted, "Change course N.23°E. for
Vladivostock." It was the anniversary of the Tsar's coronation. Round the
wardroom tables in his doomed fleet the officers stood up and drank with
enthusiasm to the Emperor, the Empress, and "victory for Russia!"

The cheering had hardly died down when the bugles sounded the alarm. Every
one hurried to his post. The enemy's cruisers had again shown themselves,
this time accompanied by a flotilla of destroyers, that came rolling
through the rough sea with the waves foaming over their bows. On a signal
from the admiral the four leading battleships turned to starboard and stood
towards the enemy, then re-formed line ahead on a course parallel to the
rest of the fleet, and slightly in advance of it. The Japanese on the
threat of attack had turned also and went off at high speed to the
northwards.

At 1.20 p.m. the admiral signalled to the four next ships of the fleet to
join the line of battleships, forming astern of them. The Russian armada
was now well into the wide eastern strait of Tsu-shima, and far ahead
through the mist a crowd of ships could be dimly seen. The crisis was near
at hand.

On receiving the first wireless message from the "Shinano Maru" at
daybreak, Togo had weighed anchor and come out of Masampho Bay, with his
main fleet steering east, so as to pass just to the north of Tsu-shima. He
had with him his twelve armoured ships, and Rear-Admiral Uriu's division of
protected cruisers ("Naniwa," "Takachico," "Tsushima," and "Akashi"), and a
strong flotilla of destroyers. The smaller torpedo-boats, more than sixty
in number, had been already sent to shelter in Miura Bay in the island of
Tsu-shima, on account of the heavy seas.

During the morning Togo received a succession of wireless messages from his
cruisers, and every mile of the enemy's progress, every change in his
formation was quickly signalled to him. Shortly after noon he was able to
note that the Russians were entering the straits, steaming at about 12
knots on a north-easterly course; that they were formed in two columns in
line ahead, the starboard column being the stronger, and that they had
their transports astern between the columns. He decided to attack them on
the weaker side at 2 p.m., when he calculated that they would be near
Okinoshima, a small island in the middle of the eastern strait, about
half-way between Tsu-shima and the south-western headlands of Nippon.

At half-past one he was joined by Dewa's division of cruisers, and a few
minutes later the divisions of Kataoka and the younger Togo rejoined. They
had till now hung on the flanks of the Russian advance. At a quarter to two
the enemy's fleet came in sight away to the south-westward of Okinoshima.
Flags fluttered up to the signal yards of the "Mikasa," and the fleet read
with enthusiasm Togo's inspiring message:--

    "_The rise or fall of the Empire depends upon to-day's battle.
    Let every man do his utmost._"

He had been about ten miles north of Okinoshima at noon (by which time he
had steamed some 90 miles from Douglas Bay since 5 a.m.), thence he turned
back slowly, going west and a little south, till he sighted the Russians.
He crossed their line of advance diagonally at about 9500 yards distance.
His light cruiser divisions had received orders to steam southwards and
attack the Russian rear, and were already well on their way.

The heavy Japanese ships, circling on the left front of the enemy's
advance, put on speed, and were evidently intending to recross the bows of
the battleship division, bringing a converging fire to bear on the leading
ships--the manoeuvre known as "crossing the T." As the "Mikasa" led the
Japanese line on its turning movement Rojdestvensky swung round to
starboard and opened fire at 8500 yards. Togo waited till the distance had
shortened to 6500, and then the guns of the "Mikasa" flashed out. At that
moment only three other of his ships had made the turn. They also opened
fire, and ship after ship as she came round into line joined in the
cannonade. The Russians turned more slowly, and it was some time before the
whole of their line was in action. Meanwhile a storm of fire had burst upon
the leading ships of Rojdestvensky's lines, the "Suvaroff" and the
"Ossliabya" at the head of the starboard and port divisions being each made
a target by several of the enemy.

The Japanese gunners were firing with a rapidity that surprised even those
who had been in the action of 10 August, and with much more terrible
effect. In Captain Semenoff's narrative of the fate of the "Suvaroff" we
have a remarkably detailed description of the execution done by the
Japanese shells in this first stage of the battle. The opening shots went
high. They flew over the "Suvaroff," some of the big 12-inch projectiles
turning over and over longitudinally in their flight. But at once Semenoff
remarked that the enemy were using a more sensitive fuse than on 10 August.
Every shell as it touched the water exploded in a geyser of smoke and
spray. As the Japanese corrected the range shells began to explode on board
or immediately over the deck, and again there was proof of the improved
fusing. The slightest obstacle--the guy of a funnel, the lift of a boat
derrick--was enough to burst the shell.

    [Illustration: BATTLE OF TSU-SHIMA
    DIAGRAMS OF MOVEMENTS DURING THE FIGHTING OF MAY 27TH]

The first fair hit was on the side, abreast of the forward funnel. It sent
up a "gigantic column of smoke, water, and flame." Then several men were
killed and wounded near the fore-bridge, and then there was a crash beside
one of the quick-firers, and, the shell bursting as it penetrated the deck,
set the ship on fire. In the battle of 10 August the flagship "Tsarevitch,"
which had borne the brunt of the Japanese fire, had been hit just nineteen
times, but now that the "Mikasa" and her consorts had got the range hit
followed hit on the leading Russian ships. "It seemed impossible," says
Semenoff, "even to count the number of projectiles striking us. I had not
only never witnessed such a fire before, but I had never imagined anything
like it. Shells seemed to be pouring upon us incessantly one after
another.... The steel plates and superstructure on the upper deck were torn
to pieces, and the splinters caused many casualties. Iron ladders were
crumpled up into rings, and guns were literally hurled from their
mountings. Such havoc would never be caused by the simple impact of a
shell, still less by that of its splinters. It could only be caused by the
force of the explosion.... In addition to this there was the unusually high
temperature and liquid flame of the explosion, which seemed to spread over
everything. I actually watched a steel plate catch fire from a burst. Of
course, the steel did not burn, but the paint on it did. Such almost
incombustible materials as hammocks and rows of boxes, drenched with water,
flared up in a moment. At times it was almost impossible to see anything
with glasses, owing to everything being so distorted with the quivering,
heated air. No! It was different to the 10th of August!"

In this storm of fire there was heavy loss of life. A shell-burst killed
and wounded most of the signallers as they stood together at their station.
An explosion against the opening of the conning-tower killed two officers
beside Rojdestvensky, and slightly wounded the admiral. The fight had not
lasted more than twenty minutes, and the "Suvaroff," the "Alexander," and
"Borodino," the three leading Russian ships, were all wrapped in black
smoke from the fires lighted on board of them by the Chimose shells.

How was the Japanese line faring? I talked over his battle experiences with
a Japanese officer not long after the day of Tsu-shima. He told me his
impression was that at first the Russians shot fairly well, causing some
loss of life at the more exposed stations on board the leading Japanese
ships. "But," he added, "after the first twenty minutes they seemed
suddenly to go all to pieces, and their shooting became wild and almost
harmless." No wonder that under such a tornado of explosions, death and
destruction, and with their ships ablaze, and range-finding and
fire-controlling stations wrecked, the gunnery of the Russians broke down.
One of the pithy sayings of the American Admiral Farragut was: "The best
protection against the enemy's fire is the steady fire of your own guns."
Tsu-shima gave startling proof of it.

Semenoff hoped that the Japanese were also suffering from the stress of
battle. From the fore-bridge of the "Suvaroff" he scanned their line with
his glasses. In the sea-fights of other wars both fleets were wrapped in a
dense fog of powder smoke, but now with the new powder there was no smoke
except that of bursting shells and burning material. So he could
distinguish everything plainly.

    "The enemy had finished turning. His twelve ships were in
    perfect order at close intervals, steaming parallel to us, but
    gradually forging ahead. No disorder was noticeable. It seemed
    to me that with my Zeiss glasses (the distance was a little more
    than two miles) I could distinguish the mantlets of hammocks on
    the bridges and the groups of men. But with us? I looked round.
    What havoc! Burning bridges, smouldering débris on the decks,
    piles of dead bodies. Signalling and judging distance stations,
    gun-directing positions, all were destroyed. And astern of us
    the 'Alexander' and the 'Borodino' were also wrapped in smoke."

Men were killed in the turrets by shell splinters flying through the narrow
gun openings. The fire hose was repeatedly cut to ribbons, and the men
fighting the fire killed. The injuries caused by near explosions were
terrible. Men were literally blown to atoms, or limbs were torn off. Eleven
wooden boats piled up on the spar-deck were a mass of roaring flame. Gun
after gun was disabled. And all the while a glance at the Japanese fleet
showed them steaming and firing as if at peace manoeuvres, without even
one of their numerous flagstaffs and signal yards shot away. The battle had
not lasted an hour, and it was already evident that it could have only one
ending.

In the smoke and confusion Semenoff could only see what was happening in
the front of the line, but the other ships were exposed to a heavy fire,
and had less resisting power. The "Ossliabya," the fifth of the
battleships, and Fölkersham's flagship during the voyage,[31] was the first
to succumb. The firing had hardly begun when a 12-inch projectile
penetrated her forward above the water-line. In fine weather the effect
would not have been very serious, but the heavy sea flooded her two bow
compartments. Then another shell started an armour plate on the water-line
amidships, flooded the bunkers on the port side, and gave her a heavy list
in that direction. Unsuccessful attempts were made to right her by opening
valves and admitting water on the other side. Then a shell burst in the
fore-turret and put all the crews of the two guns out of action. She was
now settling down by the head and heeling over more and more to port.
Suddenly the sea reached her lower gun-ports and poured into her. Then,
like the unfortunate "Victoria," she "turned turtle," and sank. It was at
2.25 that she disappeared thus suddenly, the first battleship ever sunk by
gun-fire. Three of the destroyers picked up some of the crew who had jumped
overboard.

    [31] Admiral Fölkersham had a paralytic stroke while at Honkohe
    Bay, and died at sea two days before the battle.

As she sank, the three other ships of her division ("Sissoi," "Navarin,"
and "Nakhimoff"), under the stress of the Japanese fire, sheered for a
while out of the line with their upper works ablaze in several places. The
four stately battleships at the head of the line had then to face the
concentrated attack of the enemy. The "Orel" was suffering like her
consorts. Though her armour was nowhere penetrated, the shells burst their
way into her unarmoured superstructure, and reduced everything on her upper
decks to tangled wreckage. Five minutes after the "Ossliabya" sank a shell
wrecked the after-turret of the "Suvaroff," tearing the after-bridge to
pieces with the flying fragments. Her steering gear was temporarily
disabled, and she drifted from her station at the head of the line. One by
one in quick succession the heavy steel masts and two huge funnels crashed
down. The upper deck was impassable from end to end. In the midst of the
confused wreckage handfuls of brave men fought the fires with buckets as
they broke out now here now there. Most of the guns were silent. "She no
longer looked like a ship," says a Japanese account.

When the "Suvaroff" swerved out of the line at a few minutes before three
o'clock her steering gear had been disabled, and probably for a few minutes
before the crisis she had not been answering her helm. The course of the
fleet, while she led it during the fight with the Japanese armoured fleet,
had been due east, but, as she lost her direction, it turned slightly to
the south. When she drifted away from the line the "Imperator
Alexander III" became the leading ship. Captain Buchvostoff, who commanded
her, led the fleet in a circle round the disabled "Suvaroff," first running
southwards, increasing the distance from the enemy, and then sweeping round
as if trying to break through to the northward. Togo followed on a parallel
course until the Russian fleet seemed to be going due south, then he
signalled an order, and, as accurately as if they were performing a
practice evolution at manoeuvres, his twelve ships turned simultaneously
through half a circle, thus reversing the direction and changing the order
of the fleet so that the last ship in the line became the leader. As the
Russians swept round to the north Togo was thus ready to cross their bows,
and the "Alexander" received the concentrated fire of several ships.

She turned eastwards, followed by her consorts in a straggling line, and
then drifted out of her place at the head of it, leaking badly, and with
her upper works ablaze. On a smoother sea the "Tsarevitch" had been hit
once below the armour belt on 10 August.

    [Illustration: THE RUSSIAN BATTLESHIP 'OREL'
    _Taken after the battle of Tsu-Shima, showing effects of
    Japanese shell fire_]

The "Borodino" now had the dangerous post at the head of the line. It
steamed eastwards for nearly an hour, followed by Togo on a parallel
course, the Japanese fire only slackening when fog and smoke obscured its
targets, and the fire of the Russians dwindling minute by minute, as gun
position after position became untenable or guns were disabled and
dismounted.

Long before this the divisions of protected cruisers under Admiral Dewa and
his colleagues had worked round to the southward of the Russians. Dewa and
Uriu, with their swift ships, were in action by a quarter to three. The
slower ships of Takeomi and the younger Togo's squadrons, united under the
command of Rear-Admiral Kataoka, came into the fight a little later. In the
heavy sea that was running the light cruisers afforded a less steady
platform for the guns than the big armoured ships, and their fire was not
so terribly destructive. But it was effective enough, and that of the
Russian rear ships was hopelessly bad. The Japanese cruisers drove the
transports and their escort, in a huddled crowd, north-eastwards towards
the main Russian fleet. The great wall sides of the German liner, now the
auxiliary cruiser "Ural," were riddled, and the giant began to settle down
in the water. The cruiser "Svietlana," hit badly in the forepart, was
dangerously down by the head. The transports "Kamschatka" and "Irtish" were
both set on fire, and the latter was also pierced along the water-line. She
sank at four o'clock. The "Oleg" and "Aurora" were both badly damaged. But
the Japanese unarmoured cruisers did not escape scathless. Dewa's fine
cruiser, the "Kasagi," was badly hit below the waterline, and was in such
danger of sinking that he handed the command of his squadron over to Uriu
and, escorted by the "Chitose," steamed out of the fight, steering for the
Japanese coast. Togo's old ship, the famous "Naniwa Kan," was also hit
below the water-line, and had to cease firing and devote all the energy of
the crew to saving the ship.

At five o'clock the Russian fleet, battleships, cruisers, and transports,
were huddled together in a confused crowd, attacked from the eastward by
Togo and Kamimura with the heavy squadrons, while from the south the line
of light cruisers under Uriu and Kataoka poured a cross-fire into them.
Away to the westward lay the disabled and burning "Suvaroff" with the
Russian naval flag, the blue cross of St. Andrew on a white ground, still
flying from a flagstaff in the smoke. The admiral had been twice wounded,
the second blow slightly fracturing his skull, and making it difficult for
him to speak. Her captain, Ignazius, had been simply blown to pieces by a
Japanese shell while, after being already twice wounded, he was directing a
desperate effort to master the conflagration on board. The decks were
strewn with dead, the mess-deck full of helpless wounded men. Most of the
guns were out of action, but a 6-inch quick-firer and a few lighter guns
were kept in action, and drove off the first attempt of the Japanese
destroyers to dash in and sink her. Still there was no thought of
surrender. The few survivors of her crew fought with dogged Russian courage
to the last. A torpedo destroyer, the "Buiny," taking terrible risks, came
up to her, hung on for a few moments to her shattered side, and succeeded
in getting off the wounded admiral and a few officers and men.
Rojdestvensky sent a last message to Nebogatoff, telling him to take over
the command and try to get through with some part of the fleet to
Vladivostock.

About half-past five some of the Russian ships struggled out of the press,
led by the burning "Borodino," with the "Orel" next to her. In the
straggling line battleships and cruisers, armoured and unarmoured, were
mingled together. The "Alexander" had succeeded in stopping some of her
leaks and had rejoined the line. She was near the end of it. The "Ural,"
deserted by her crew, was drifting, till one of Togo's battleships sank her
with a few shots.

The Russians were now steering northwards, and for the moment there was no
large ship in front of them. The Japanese could have easily headed them
off, but Togo now regarded them as a huntsman regards a herd of deer that
he is driving before him. The Japanese squadron steamed after them at
reduced speed, just keeping at convenient range, the heavy ships on their
right, the light squadrons behind them. At first the armoured ships
concentrated their fire on the "Alexander." Shells were bursting all over
her, and throwing up geysers of water about her bows. Then the merciless
fire was turned on the "Borodino." A few minutes after seven the
"Alexander" was seen to capsize and disappear. A quarter of an hour later
there was an explosion on board of the "Borodino." Next moment a patch of
foam on the waves showed where she had been. About the same time a division
of torpedo-boats came upon the unfortunate "Suvaroff," torpedoed her, and
saved some of the crew, who were found floating on the water after she
sank.

As the sun went down, and the twilight darkened into night, the firing died
away. What was left of the Russian fleet was steaming slowly into the Sea
of Japan, some of the ships isolated, others holding together in improvised
divisions, all bearing terrible marks of the fight, some of them still on
fire, others leaking badly.

Togo had been hit during the fight, but it was only a slight bruise. The
losses of his fleet had been trifling. Of the armoured ships the only one
that had been badly hit was the "Asama." She was struck by three shells aft
near the water-line, her rudder was disabled, and she was leaking badly.
She left the fighting-line for a while, but was able temporarily to repair
damages, and rejoined later in the day.

At sunset Togo ordered his squadrons to steam north-eastward during the
night, and unite at sunrise at a point south of Matsu-shima or Ullondo
Island. They were to keep away from the Russian ships in the darkness. The
victorious admiral was about to let loose his torpedo flotillas, to
complete the destruction of the flying enemy, and meant that his torpedo
officers should have no anxiety about hitting friends in the dark.

He had with the main fleet twenty-one destroyers organized in five
squadrons. In the bays of Tsu-shima nearly eighty torpedo-boats had been
sheltering all day. The destroyers had been directed to pursue and attack
the beaten enemy during the night. No orders had been given to the
torpedo-boats. The sea was going down, but it was still rough, and Togo had
doubts about risking the smaller craft. But without orders, sixteen groups
of four boats each, sixty-four in all, got up steam and sallied out into
the darkness.

It was an awful night for the Russians. After dark they had extinguished
the fires lighted by the enemy's shells, and in some cases got collision
mats over the leaks. The dead were committed to the sea, the wounded
collected and cared for. For more than an hour they were allowed to hold
their course uninterrupted, and the lights of the Japanese fleet were
disappearing far astern. After all, Vladivostock might be reached. But just
after eight o'clock the throb of engines, the hurtling beat of propellers,
came sounding through the night from all sides. On the sea black, low
objects were rushing along with foaming phosphorescent wakes trailing
behind them. Bugles ran out the alarm; crews rushed to quarters;
searchlights blazed out, and the small quick-firers that were still
serviceable mingled their sharp ringing reports with the crackle of
machine-gun fire. The sea seemed to be swarming with torpedo craft. They
appeared and disappeared in the beams of the searchlights, and the surface
of the water was marked with the long white ripples raised by the rush of
discharged torpedoes. Loud explosions, now here now there, told that some
of them had found their target, though in the confusion and the rough sea
there were more misses than hits. The "Sissoi Veliki," which had been on
fire in the action, and pierced below the waterline, had a new and more
serious leak torn open in her stern, the rudder was damaged and two
propeller blades torn off. But she floated till next day. Several ships
received minor injuries, but kept afloat with one or more compartments
flooded. But the effect of the attack was to disperse the fugitive Russians
in all directions.

When it began Nebogatoff was at the head of a line of ships in the old
battleship "Imperator Nikolai I." In the confusion only three of the line
kept up with him, the much-battered "Orel" and the "Admiral Apraxin" and
"Admiral Senyavin." The "Orel" had no searchlight left intact. The
"Nikolai" and the two others did not switch on their searchlights, and kept
all other lights shaded. The remarkable result was that as they moved
northwards through the darkness they were never attacked, though more than
once between 8 p.m. and midnight they saw the enemy's torpedo craft rushing
past them. The ships with searchlights drew all the attacks.

Admiral Enquist, with his flag in the "Oleg," and followed by the "Aurora"
and "Jemschug," had run in amongst the remains of the transport flotilla at
the first alarm, narrowly escaping collision with them. Then he turned
south, in the hope of shaking the enemy off, but came upon another flotilla
arriving from that direction. He had some narrow escapes. The look-outs of
the "Oleg" counted seventeen torpedoes that just missed the ship. Having
got away, he tried more than once to turn back to the northward, but each
time he ran in among hostile torpedo-boats, and saw that beyond them were
ships with searchlights working and guns in action, so he steered again
south. At last he gave up the attempt and headed for the Tsu-shima Straits.
He got safely through them, because the main Japanese fleet was miles away,
steaming steadily north, with tired men sleeping by the guns. Next day he
was in the open sea with no enemy in sight, and set his course for
Shanghai.

At midnight the defeated Russians thought they had at last shaken off the
pursuit of the sea-wolves. But at 2 a.m. the attacks began again. The
"Navarin" and the "Admiral Nakhimoff," among the rearmost ships, were
attacked by Commander Suzuki's squadron of destroyers. The "Navarin" was
sunk after being hit by two torpedoes. The "Nakhimoff" was severely
damaged. About the same time the "Vladimir Monomach" and the "Dimitri
Donskoi" were torpedoed, but managed to keep afloat. The attacking force
had a good many casualties. Torpedo-boats Nos. 35 and 65 were sunk by the
Russian fire. Their crews were rescued by their consorts. Four destroyers
(the "Harusami," "Akatsuki," "Izazuchi," and "Yugiri") and two
torpedo-boats (Nos. 31 and 68) were so seriously damaged by hostile fire,
or by collision in the darkness, that they were put out of action. As the
dawn began to whiten the eastern sky the torpedo flotillas drew off.

At sunrise the Russian fleet was scattered far over the Sea of Japan. Some
of the ships for a while steamed alone with neither consort nor enemy in
sight within the circle of the horizon. But new dangers came with the day.
Togo's fleet was at hand, flinging out a wide net of which the meshes were
squadrons and detached cruisers to sweep the sea northwards, and gather up
the remnants of the defeated enemy. The weather was clearing up, and it was
a fine, bright day--just the day for the work the Japanese had to do.

Steaming steadily through the night, Togo, with the main body of the
Japanese fleet, had passed to eastward of the scattered Russians, and was
about twenty miles south of Ullondo. The distances covered in this battle
of Tsu-shima were beyond any that had ever been known in naval war. The
running fight during the night had passed over more than 150 miles of sea.
At 5.20 a.m. the admiral on board the "Mikasa" received a wireless message
from Kataoka's cruisers, reporting that they were sixty miles away to the
southward of him, and that they could see several columns of black smoke
on the horizon to the eastward. Shortly after Kataoka sent another wireless
message--"Four of the enemy's battleships and two cruisers are in sight,
steering north-west." Togo at once signalled to his own ships to head off
this detachment of the enemy, and sent wireless orders to Kataoka and Uriu
to close in on their rear. It was probably the main fighting division left
to the Russians, and would soon be surrounded by an overwhelming Japanese
force.

The ships sighted by the cruisers were those that Admiral Nebogatoff had
led through the night, and was trying to take to Vladivostock. He had with
him the battleships "Nikolai I" and "Orel," the coast-defence armour-clads
"Admiral Apraxin" and "Admiral Senyavin," and the cruisers "Izumrud" and
"Svietlana." This last ship was leaking badly and down by the bows. She
could not keep up with the others, and at daylight fell far astern and lost
sight of them. At 7 a.m. Uriu's division in chase of Nebogatoff came up
with her, and the cruisers "Niitaka" and "Otowa" were detached to capture
her. The Russian captain, Schein, had held a council with his officers. He
had only a hundred shells left in the magazines, and the "Svietlana" was
being kept afloat by her steam pumps. Under the regulations he could have
honourably surrendered to a superior force, but it was unanimously resolved
to fight to the last shot, and then sink with colours flying. The fight
lasted an hour. There were heavy losses. The Japanese fire riddled the
ship, and first the starboard, then the port engine was disabled. As the
hundredth shot rang out from the "Svietlana's" guns, Captain Schein stopped
the pumps and opened the sea-cocks, and the ship settled down rapidly in
the water. The Japanese cruisers went off to join the fleet as the
"Svietlana" disappeared, but an armed Japanese liner, the "America Maru,"
stood by and picked up about a hundred men.

At 10.30 a.m. Nebogatoff was completely surrounded eighteen miles south of
the island of Takeshima. The "Izumrud" had used her superior speed to get
away to the south-west. The four battered ships that remained with him saw
more than twenty enemies appear from all points of the compass, including
Togo's battleships and heavy armoured cruisers, all as fit for work as when
the first fighting began. They opened fire at long range with their heavy
guns.

The situation was desperate. Nebogatoff consulted his officers, and all
those on board the "Nikolai" agreed that he must surrender. In a memorandum
he subsequently wrote he pointed out that, though some ammunition was left,
the Japanese were using their superior speed to keep a distance at which he
could not reply effectively to their overwhelming fire; neither the shore
nor other ships were within reach; most of the boats had been shattered,
the rest could not be lowered; even the life-belts had been burned or used
to improvise defences in the ships; continued resistance or the act of
sinking the ships would only mean the useless sacrifice of some 2000 men.
After the ships had been only a short time in action, during which time
they received further severe damage, he hauled down his colours. Togo
allowed the Russian officers to retain their swords, as a proof of his
opinion that they had acted as befitted brave and honourable men.

While the brief action with Nebogatoff's squadron was in progress, the
third of the Russian coast-defence battleships, the "Admiral Ushakoff,"
hove in sight. She turned off to the westward pursued by the armoured
cruisers "Iwate" and "Yakumo." They soon overhauled her, and signalled a
summons to surrender, adding that Nebogatoff had already done so. The
"Ushakoff" replied with her 9-inch guns. The cruisers sank her in an hour,
and then rescued some three-fourths of her crew of 400 men.

The "Sissoi Veliki," badly injured in the action of the day before, and
torpedoed during the night, was in a sinking condition when the sun rose on
28 May. No ships were in sight, all the boats had been destroyed, and while
the pumps were still kept going the crew was set to work to construct
rafts. While this was being done with very scanty materials, the "Vladimir
Monomach" hove in sight, accompanied by the destroyer "Iromki." In reply to
a signal for help, the "Monomach" answered that she could do nothing, as
she was herself expecting to sink soon. The "Iromki" offered to take a few
men, but the captain of the "Sissoi" generously refused to deprive the
"Monomach" of her help. The two ships then steamed away. An hour later the
"Sissoi" was just settling down in the water, when three Japanese armed
merchant steamers appeared and took off her crew. At half-past ten the
"Sissoi" heeled over to starboard and sank.

Soon after she lost sight of the "Sissoi," the "Monomach" came upon the
armoured cruiser "Admiral Nakhimoff," which also signalled that she was in
a sinking condition. Presently there was smoke on the horizon, and then the
armed steamer "Sadu Maru" and the Japanese destroyer "Shiranui" appeared.
In such conditions the enemy proved a friend. The crews of the two
unfortunate ships were transferred to the "Sadu," which stood by till,
about ten o'clock, both the "Nakhimoff" and the "Monomach" went to the
bottom.

The "Navarin" was comparatively little injured in the battle, but was
torpedoed during the night. Leaking badly, she struggled northward at a
slow rate till two in the afternoon of the 28th, when she was found and
attacked by a Japanese destroyer flotilla. She still made a fight with her
lighter guns, and was hit by two torpedoes. The crew were all at their
battle stations when she began suddenly to sink. The order, "All hands on
deck," came too late, and very few lives were saved.

The armoured cruiser "Dimitri Donskoi," last survivor of Rojdestvensky's
fourteen battleships and armoured cruisers, escaped the torpedo attacks in
the night, and eluded pursuit all through the morning of the 28th. At 4
p.m., when she was near the island of Ullondo, she sighted some Japanese
ships in the distance, Uriu's cruiser division and some destroyers. They
closed slowly on her, and it was not till six o'clock that she was attacked
by the cruisers "Niitaka" and "Otowa," and three destroyers. The "Donskoi"
made a gallant fight for two hours, beating off the torpedo-boats, losing
sixty killed and twice as many wounded, and finally disengaging herself in
the darkness about eight o'clock. The water-line armour was intact, but one
boiler was penetrated and ammunition was nearly exhausted. In the night,
the captain, who was himself slightly wounded, decided to land his men on
Ullondo Island and sink the ship. All the boats had been shattered and the
cutter that was left had to be hastily repaired before it could be lowered.
With the one boat the disembarkation went on slowly during the night. At
dawn the enemy's torpedo-boats were sighted. The rest of the crew jumped
overboard and swam ashore, leaving a few men with the second-in-command on
the ship. They ran the "Donskoi" out into a hundred fathoms of water,
opened the sea-cocks, embarked in their one boat, and saw their ship go
down as they pulled ashore. The Japanese sent a couple of steamers to take
the crew off the island.

The torpedo destroyer that conveyed the wounded Admiral Rojdestvensky,
Captain Semenoff, and a few other officers and men away from the fight was
found and captured by a Japanese flotilla during the afternoon of the 28th.

The cruiser "Izumrud," one of the few fast ships the Russians had with
them, escaped the torpedo attacks in the night. In the morning she was
chased by several of the enemy's cruisers. She kept up a good speed, and
one by one they abandoned the chase, the "Chitose" being the last to give
it up. By 2 p.m. all pursuit was left behind, and she reduced speed. In the
battle and the chase she had burned so much coal that she had not enough
left to make for Vladivostock, so she steered for Vladimir Bay, in the
Russian Coast Province of Siberia, north of Korea. She was off the
entrance of the Bay at midnight with only ten tons of coal left in her
bunkers. Unfortunately, in trying to go in in the dark on the flood-tide
she drove hard on a reef. Next day unsuccessful efforts were made to get
his ship off and in the afternoon, as her captain expected the enemy's
ships might arrive to secure the "Izumrud" and refloat her, he landed his
crew on Russian ground, destroyed his guns one by one with blasting
charges, and then blew up the ship.

The destroyer "Groki" was chased and captured by the Japanese destroyer
"Shiranui" and a torpedo-boat, and after a sharp fight close to Tsu-shima
Island surrendered at 11.30 a.m. She was so injured that she sank within an
hour of her capture. Admiral Enquist, with the three protected cruisers
"Oleg," "Aurora," and "Jemschug," had, after turning south for the last
time during the night of torpedo attacks, got through the Tsu-shima Straits
in the darkness. Next day no enemy was in sight, and he steered for
Shanghai under easy steam, repairing damages on the way. He intended to lie
off the port, bring a couple of colliers out of the Woosung River, fill his
bunkers at sea, and try to reach Vladivostock by the Pacific and the La
Pérouse Straits. On the morning of the 29th he was overtaken by the
repairing ship and tug "Svir," and from her learned the full extent of the
disaster. Fearing that if he approached Shanghai he would be driven into
the port and blockaded by the enemy, he changed his course for Manila,
where he arrived on 3 June. The "Svir," after communicating with him, had
gone on to the Woosung River. She was joined on her way there by the
transport "Anadir," which had got successfully south through the Tsu-shima
Straits. The transport "Korea," which had escaped in the same way, and had
a cargo of coal, did not go to Woosung, but crossed the Indian Ocean and
appeared unexpectedly in the French port of Diego Suarez in Madagascar. Of
the nine torpedo destroyers with the Russian fleet seven were hunted down
and sunk or taken by the Japanese.

The only ships of all the Russian armada that finally reached Vladivostock
were the two destroyers "Brawy" and "Gresny," and the small swift cruiser
"Almaz." She had been with Enquist's cruiser division in the first hours of
the night after the battle. During the torpedo attacks she had become
separated from her consorts. Escaping from the destroyers, she headed at
full speed first towards the coast of Japan, then northward. At sunrise on
the 28th she was well on her way and many miles north-east of Togo's fleet.
Next day she reached Vladivostock with 160 tons of coal still on board.

A hundred years after Trafalgar Togo had won a victory as complete and as
decisive. The Russian power had been swept from the Eastern Seas, and the
grey-haired admiral who had secured this triumph for his native
land--"Father Togo," as the Japanese affectionately call him--had lived
through the whole evolution of the Imperial Navy, had shared in its first
successes, and for years had been training it for the great struggle that
was to decide who was to be master in the seas of the Far East.

The war was followed by an immediate expansion of the Japanese Navy.
Numbers of captured Russian ships were repaired, re-armed, and placed in
the Navy List under Japanese names. No longer dependent on foreign
builders, the Japanese yards were kept busy turning out yet a new navy of
every class, from the battleship to the torpedo-boat. The laying down of
the gigantic "Aki" and "Satsuma," battleships of over 20,000 tons, opened a
new period in naval construction, and nations began to count their
sea-power by the number of "Dreadnoughts" afloat or on the slips.

The great maritime powers are now engaged in a race of construction, and
the next naval war will see forces in action far surpassing even the
armadas that met at Tsu-shima. And maritime war, hitherto confined to the
surface of the sea, will have strange auxiliaries in the submarine stealing
beneath it, and the airship and aeroplane scouting in the upper air. But
still, whatever new appliances, whatever means of mutual destruction
science supplies, the lesson taught by the story of all naval war will
remain true. Victory will depend not on elaborate mechanical structures and
appliances, but on the men, and will be the reward of long training, iron
discipline, calm, enduring courage, and the leadership that can inspire
confidence, command self-sacrificing obedience, divine an enemy's plans,
and decide swiftly and resolutely on the way in which they are to be
frustrated.



INDEX


A

Actium, 25, etc.;
  topography of, 30;
  the battle of, 32, etc.

Æschylus, 2, 21

Agrippa, Marcus Vipsanius, 27

Alava, Spanish rear-admiral at Trafalgar, 192;
  surrenders to Collingwood, 199

Albemarle. _See_ Monk, Duke of

Albini, Italian admiral, second in command at Lissa, 242, etc.

Ali Pasha, Turkish admiral, 85, 86, 88, 93, 103

Alexandria, bombardment of, 253, 254

Allen, Sir Thomas, English admiral in Second Dutch War, 152, etc.

Antony, Mark, 25;
  flight from Actium, 35;
  death, 38

Antwerp, the great fire-ship of, 130

Aristides, 15;
  at Salamis, 21

Armada of 1588, 105, etc.;
  organisation and statistics, 111

Armour-clads, early: Erik Jarl's "Iron Beard," 49;
  the "Finis Belli" (1585), 209;
  floating batteries, 211

Armour-clads, first modern sea-going: the "Gloire" (French), 211;
  the "Warrior" (British), 213

Artemisia of Halicarnassus, 11, 15;
  at Salamis, 21;
  at the council after the battle, 22

Athens, beginnings of its sea-power, 4;
  occupied by the Persians, 7

Augustus, 25;
  founder of the Roman Empire, 38;
  naval policy, 39


B

Bahuchet, French admiral, 61

Baltic Fleet organised by Russia for the Far East, 304;
  voyage of, 306;
  Dogger Bank incident, 307;
  passes Malacca, 309

Barbarigo, Agostino, Venetian admiral, 80, 92;
  killed at Lepanto, 103

Barbavera, Genoese admiral at Sluys, 61;
  his escape after the battle, 65

Bertendona, admiral of the Levant squadron of the Armada, 112

Bingham, Queen Elizabeth's Governor of Connaught, 138, etc.

Blackwood, captain of Nelson's look-out frigate "Euryalus," 181, 186,
    188, 191

Blake, 143, 144

Bragadino, Venetian commandant of Famagusta, 73;
  tortured and put to death by the Turks, 74

Bragadino, Ambrogio and Antonio, Venetian captains at Lepanto, 92

British Navy: in Middle Ages, _see_ chap. IV., Sluys, 55;
  in Tudor period, _see_ chap. VI., the Armada, 105;
  in Stuart period, _see_ chap. VII., the battle off the Gunfleet, 142;
  in the eighteenth century, _see_ chap. VIII., the Battle of the Saints'
    Passage, 158;
  in Nelson's time, _see_ chap. IX., Trafalgar, 173

Brunel, 208

Buchanan, commodore, C.S.N., captain of the "Merrimac," 219, etc.

Byron, captain, under Rodney, 163


C

Cæsar, Julius, 25

Calais, importance to England, 55

Calder, Sir Robert, action off Finisterre, 177

Cardona, Juan de, Spanish admiral, 80

Cervantes, Miguel de (author of "Don Quixote"), at Lepanto, 82;
  wounded, 99

Cervera, Spanish admiral, 280;
  voyage to Cuba, 282, etc.;
  goes out of Santiago to battle, 287;
  taken prisoner, 293

Charlemagne and the Norsemen, 41

Chatham, Dutch raid on, 156, 157

Churucca, Commodore, at Trafalgar, 200, 201

Cinque Ports, 57, 58

Cisneros, Spanish rear-admiral at Trafalgar, 197, 198

Cleopatra, 25;
  flight from Actium, 35;
  death, 38

Clerk of Eldin, his naval theories, 168

Collingwood, 179, 180, 183;
  breaks through French line at Trafalgar, 192;
  takes command of fleet after Nelson's death, 204

Colonna, Marco Antonio, Papal admiral, 71, 76;
  at Lepanto, 99

Cromwell, 143

Cyprus, Turkish invasion of, under Selim II, 70;
  fall of Nicosia, 71;
  siege of Famagusta, 71, 73


D

Damme, naval victory at, 56

Darius, 4

Decrès, Admiral, Minister of Marine under Napoleon I, 178, 180

Dewa, Admiral, 323, 331

Dewey, Admiral, 280

Doria, Giovanni Andrea, Genoese admiral, 80;
  at Lepanto, 99, etc.

Douglas, Sir Charles, share in Rodney's victory, 167-9

Dover with Calais made England mistress of the Channel, 56;
  De Burgh's naval victory off, 57

Drake, Francis, 107, 109, 116, 119, 124, 132

Drake, Samuel, rear-admiral under Rodney, 164

Dumanoir, admiral of French van squadron at Trafalgar, his blunders, 194;
  subsequent loss of his ships, 203


E

Edward I, use of navy in Scottish wars, 56

Edward III, 55;
  the French War, 59;
  at Sluys, 64

Egypt, early navigators of, 2

Enquist, Russian admiral, 335, etc.

Ericsson, John, designer of the "Monitor," 213;
  _See_ "Monitor"

Erik Jarl, 46;
  his ship the "Iron Beard," a primitive armour-clad, 49;
  in the fight at Svold, 51, etc.

Euboea, battles of Greeks and Persians off, 11, etc.

Eulate, captain of the "Vizcaya" at Santiago, 294, 295

Eurybiades, 11, 22

Evans, Captain Robley, U.S.N., 294, 295

Evertszoon, Dutch admiral, 148, etc.


F

Famagusta. _See_ Cyprus

Farragut, Admiral, sayings of, 231, 238

Fenner, 116

Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth's Lord Deputy in Ireland, 138, etc.

Fremantle, captain of the "Neptune" at Trafalgar, 197, 198

Frobisher, 117, 128, 132

Fulton and early steamships, 206


G

Galley-slaves, 87

Ganteaume, French admiral, 174

Giustiniani, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, 81, 103

Grasse, Comte de, Rodney's battle with, 158, etc.

Gravelines, the Armada battle off, 131, etc.

Gravina, Spanish admiral, 176, 181, 187

Guichen, de, 160


H

Hanneken, Major von, German officer in Chinese service, 261

Hardy, captain of the "Victory," 195, 196

Harold Haarfager, 42

Hawkins, 107, 116, 119, 127, 128, 132

Hobart Pasha, 253

Holland, rise of naval power, 142;
  first war with England, 143;
  second war, 144

Hood, 164, etc.

Howard of Effingham, 116, 124, etc.

Howard, Lord Thomas, 127

Howe, 173


I

Infernet, captain of the "Intrépide" at Trafalgar, 202, 203

Ireland and the Armada, 137

Ito, Count, Japanese admiral at the Yalu, 259, etc.


J

Japan, rise of naval power, 254;
  policy after Chinese War, 297;
  war with Russia, 300

Josephine, the Empress, 161

Juan of Austria, Don, admiral of the Christian League, 76, 78;
  at Lepanto, 91, etc.


K

Kamimura, Admiral, defeats the Vladivostock squadron, 303;
  at Tsu-shima, 332

Kara Khodja, his scouting expeditions, 85

Kempenfeldt, Admiral, 161

Kiriet, French admiral, 61


L

Leotychides, 23

Lepanto, 67, etc.

Lepidus, 25

Leyva, general of the troops embarked in the Armada, 114, 120, 123,
    127, 135;
  shipwrecked and drowned, 140

Lissa, battle of (1866), 231, etc.

Longsword, William, his victory at Damme, 56

Lucas, captain of the "Redoutable," 193, 195


M

Macaulay and the Armada, 105, 120

McGiffen, Commander, American officer in Chinese service, 261, 265,
    272, 273

Magon, French admiral at Trafalgar, 199

Mahomet II takes Constantinople, 67

Makharoff, Admiral, death of, 301

Manila, battle of, 180

Marathon, 4

Mark Antony. _See_ Antony

Maurice of Nassau, 134

Maximilian, Archduke and Austrian admiral (afterwards Emperor of Mexico),
    235

Medina, Lopez de, wrecked on Fair Isle, 137, 138

Medina-Sidonia, Guzman, Duke of, commander-in-chief of the Armada, 109,
    115, etc.;
  return to Spain, 140

"Merrimac," improvised Confederate armour-clad, 214, etc.;
  attack on the wooden ships at Hampton Roads, 215;
  sinks the "Cumberland," 218;
  fight with the "Monitor," 224, etc.;
  "Merrimac" destroyed later, 230

Missiessy, French admiral, 174

Mohacs, battle of, 68

Moncada, admiral of the galleasses in the Armada, 131

"Monitor," design and construction, 221, etc.;
  voyage to Hampton Roads, 223;
  fight with "Merrimac," 224, etc.;
  lost at sea later on, 230

Monk, Duke of Albemarle, 146, etc.

Mycale, destruction of Persian fleet at, 24

Mylæ, naval battle of, 27


N

Napier, Sir Charles, first to take steamships into action, 207

Napoleon I, naval projects, 174, etc., 178, 179;
  refuses Fulton's inventions, 206

Napoleon III and the introduction of armoured ships, 210, 211;
  Ericsson's offer to, 213

Nebogatoff sent with squadron of old ships to reinforce Baltic Fleet, 308;
  at Tsu-shima, 323;
  surrenders, 337, 338

Nelson, alleged Danish descent, 41;
  the Trafalgar campaign, 173, etc.;
  plans for the battle, 182, 189, 190;
  opening of the battle, 192;
  wounded, 195, 196;
  his death, 203

Nicholls, English gunner in Chinese service, killed at Yalu, 271

Nicopolis, 29, 38

Norsemen, 41, etc.

North Sea battles in Dutch War, 143, etc.


O

Octavian. _See_ Augustus

Olaf, Saint, 54

Olaf Tryggveson, his career, 42;
  becomes King of Norway, 44;
  his famous ships, 45;
  in  the fight at Svold, 47, etc.;
  death in battle, 53

Opdam, Dutch admiral, 145

Orde, Sir John, and blockade of Cadiz, 176

Ottomans. _See_ Turks


P

Parma, Alexander Farnese, Duke of, 114, 128, 129, 130

Pepys, Samuel, 146, 153

Persano, Italian admiral in command at Lissa, 237, etc.

Pertev Pasha, Turkish seraskier at Lepanto, 86, 88, 95

Petz, Commodore, Austrian second in command at Lissa, 241, etc.

Philip II of Spain, 105

Philip of Valois, King of France, 59, 66

Piracy in early days, 3;
  of Turks and Algerines in the Mediterranean, 68

Pius V, efforts to form a league against the Turks, 70, 72, 75

Platæa, battle of, 23

Port Arthur, naval operations around, 300, etc.;
  surrender of, 308

Purvis, English engineer killed at the Yalu, 270


R

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 122

Recalde, Martinez de, admiral of the Biscay squadron of the Armada, 114,
    123, 127, 135, 140

Reitzenstein, admiral of the Vladivostock squadron, 302, 303

Rodney, 159, etc.

Rojdestvensky, admiral in command of the Baltic Fleet, 304, etc.;
  taken prisoner, 340

Rupert, Prince, as an admiral, 146, etc.

Ruyter, de, 146, etc.


S

Saints' Passage, battle of, 158, etc.

Salamis, refuge of the Athenians, 6;
  Greek fleets concentrate at, 13;
  the battle, 16, etc.

Sampson, U.S. admiral, 278, etc.

Santa Cruz, Alvaro de Bazan, Marquis of, 80, 108

Santiago, blockade of, 285;
  battle outside, 287, etc.

Schley, U.S. admiral, 278, etc.

Sebastopol, attack on sea-front, 209, 211

Selim II, 70

Semenoff, Captain, personal narrative of Tsu-shima, 313, 319, 320, 322,
    327, 328;
  taken prisoner, 340

Seymour, Lord Henry, 118, 126, 129, 132

Shafter, General, operations against Santiago, 286, etc.

Sigvald Jarl, 47

Sluys, 55, etc.

Steam applied to warships, 206, etc.

Steevens, John and Robert, inventors, 210

Strachan, Sir Richard, takes Dumanoir's squadron, 203

Suleiman the Magnificent, 70

Svold Island, battle of, 40, etc.


T

Takeomi, Admiral, 322, 331

Tegethoff, Austrian commander at Lissa, 235, etc.

Terschelling, sack of, 156

Themistocles, 4, 13, 14, 22

Ting, Chinese admiral at the Yalu, 259, etc.

Togo, captain of the "Naniwa" in the Chinese War, 260;
  admiral commanding in chief in war with Russia, 301, etc.;
  preparations for Baltic Fleet, 310, etc.;
  his battle signal, 325;
  slightly wounded, 333

Torpedoes, 252, 253

Trafalgar, 173, etc.

Troy, 4

Tsu-shima, battle of, 321, etc.

Turks, growth of their power, 67


U

Ulugh Ali, renegade Turkish admiral, 77, 84, 85;
  counter-attack at Lepanto, 101;
  his escape, 102

United States: the navy and the Civil War, 213, etc.;
  the navy after the war, 277;
  the new navy, 278;
  situation at outbreak of war with Spain, 278, 279

Uriu, Admiral, 331

Urs de Margina, defender of fortress of Lissa, 237


V

Valdes, Diego Flores de, admiral of the Castilian squadron of the Armada,
    114

Valdes, Pedro de, admiral of the Andalusian squadron, 114, 123

Van Tromp, 148, etc.

Veniero, Sebastian, Venetian admiral, 76;
  at Lepanto, 97

Vikings. _See_ Norsemen

Viking ships, 43

Villeneuve, French admiral commanding at Trafalgar, 174, etc.;
  wounded and taken prisoner, 197


W

Winter, Sir W., 118, 129, 132

Wireless telegraphy, 319

Witjeft, Russian admiral, killed in battle on the 10th of August, 302

Worden (afterwards Admiral), commander of the "Monitor," 223, etc.;
  wounded in fight with "Merrimac," 227


X

Xantippus, 23

Xerxes, 4;
  his great expedition, 5, etc.;
  watches the battle of Salamis, 16;
  return to Asia, 21, 22


Y

Yalu, naval battle of the, 255, etc.

York, Duke of (afterwards James II), 145, 158


PRINTED BY WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD. PLYMOUTH





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