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Title: Gibraltar and its Sieges - with a Description of its Natural Features.
Author: Stephens, Frederick George
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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                       GIBRALTAR AND ITS SIEGES.

            [Illustration: GIBRALTAR FROM THE NORTH-WEST.]

                           GIBRALTAR AND ITS

                                WITH A
                 Description of its Natural Features.

                   “Where Gibraltar’s cannoned steep
                O’erfrowns the wave.”--MATTHEW ARNOLD.

                    LONDON: THOMAS NELSON AND SONS.
                        EDINBURGH AND NEW YORK.




    I. SIEGE OF GIBRALTAR IN 1704,                                     9

   II. AN INTERVAL,                                                   21

  III. THE GREAT SIEGE,                                               25

   IV. THE FLOATING BATTERIES,                                        70

    V. THE RELIEF,                                                    99



    I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION,                                          116

   II. EARLY HISTORY OF THE ROCK,                                    142

List of Illustrations.


ROCK OF GIBRALTAR FROM THE NEUTRAL GROUND,                            12

VIEW FROM THE SIGNAL-STATION,                                         30


EUROPA POINT,                                                         38



THE GRAND ATTACK UPON GIBRALTAR, SEPTEMBER 13, 1782,                  86

THE KING’S BASTION, AND OLD MOORISH CASTLE,                           96

THE ROCK AND BAY OF GIBRALTAR (MODERN MAP),                          116

THE SIGNAL-STATION,                                                  118

THE MARKET-PLACE,                                                    120

THE ALAMEDA,                                                         122

A MOTLEY GROUP IN THE MAIN STREET,                                   126

O’HARA’S TOWER ON THE SUGAR-LOAF,                                    130


MARTIN’S CAVE,                                                       136

ST. GEORGE’S HALL,                                                   140



Naval and Military Annals.



The year 1704 was the year of Blenheim, that wonderful victory of
Marlborough’s which dissipated Lewis the Fourteenth’s dreams of
universal empire. As stars are extinguished in the light of dawn, so in
the lustre of this great triumph England’s minor successes by sea and
land were forgotten. And to this day, while most men remember when
Blenheim was won, few are mindful of the year in which Gibraltar was
taken. Yet it may well be doubted whether the latter, though the less
famous, was not, so far as British interests are concerned, the more
important success. It is difficult, perhaps, to determine any direct
advantage which England gained by the battle of Blenheim; but by the
possession of Gibraltar she secured the command of the Mediterranean and
of the highway to India.

Gibraltar was captured in the same year in which the battle of Blenheim
was won.

While the Duke of Marlborough was leading his troops to the Rhine, the
Archduke Charles, who had assumed the title of King of Spain, had landed
at Lisbon, with the view of taking the command of an army collected on
the western frontier of the kingdom to which he laid claim. This army
was composed of contingents furnished by England, the Netherlands, and
Portugal; but it was prevented from making any progress by the military
genius of the Duke of Berwick, natural son of James II., who was at the
head of the Spanish forces. At the opposite extremity of the Peninsula,
an effort was made to provoke a rising of the Catalans on behalf of King
Charles. For this purpose, a division of five or six thousand men was
placed under the command of the Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, who embarked
at Lisbon in May, in an English fleet of which Sir George Rooke was the

The expedition landed at Barcelona, but found the people indisposed to
welcome or support it. It was, therefore, re-embarked; and Rooke,
sailing down the Mediterranean, passed through the Strait, and effected
a junction with the fleet under Sir Cloudesley Shovel. The two admirals
were unwilling that so powerful a force should return to England without
accomplishing something; and a council of war was held on the 17th of
July, at which several schemes were proposed and discussed--among
others, an attack upon Cadiz. This, however, was deemed imprudent with
so small a body of troops; and at length it was decided to strike a
swift and vigorous blow at Gibraltar. The strength of the fortress was
well known; but it was equally well known that the garrison was weak,
and that the Spaniards relied too confidently on the assistance supplied
by Nature.

On the 21st of July, the fleet crossed from Tetuan, and anchored in
Gibraltar Bay. The marines, English and Dutch, numbering one thousand
eight hundred, were then landed, under the orders of the Prince of
Hesse-Darmstadt, to the northward, on the isthmus, now called the
Neutral Ground, which connects the Rock with the mainland. By this
movement, the garrison was prevented from obtaining provisions or
reinforcements from the interior. A summons was sent to the governor to
surrender the stronghold for the service of Charles III., King of Spain;
but the governor replied that he and his veterans were true and loyal
subjects of their natural lord, Philip V., and would sacrifice their
lives in defence of the place. Sir George Rooke immediately gave
directions for the attack to commence; and Rear-Admiral Byng, with one
80-gun and fourteen 70-gun ships, together with Rear-Admiral
Vanderdussen, and six Dutch men-of-war, and some vessels, under Captain
Hicks, destined for the attack of the South Mole, took up their
positions before daylight on the 23rd.

A heavy cannonade was now hurled against the fortifications. In five or
six hours no fewer than fifteen thousand shot were expended; and the
enemy, though they showed the most admirable intrepidity, were driven
from their guns. Captain Whitaker, with the armed boats, was then
ordered to carry the Mole head; a position from which the town would be
at the mercy of the attacking force. The landing was effected with the
utmost alacrity; but Captain Hicks and Jumper, who lay next the mole,
got ahead with their pinnaces, and dashed headlong


_Page 11._

against the works. The Spaniards had prepared for the assault, and
before abandoning their post sprung a mine, which blew up the
fortifications, killed two lieutenants and forty men, and wounded sixty.
The survivors, however, would not surrender the ground so hardly gained;
and Captain Whitaker coming up, they warily pushed forward, and carried
a small redoubt half-way between the Mole and the town. A second summons
being addressed to the governor, the Marquis de Salines, the garrison
capitulated; and thus, on the 24th, this famous fortress fell into the
hands of the assailants.

The attack was exceedingly brilliant, and the seamen fought with equal
cheerfulness and resolution. It is a proof of the strength of the
fortifications, which mounted one hundred guns, that though the garrison
consisted of only one hundred and fifty men, the loss of the attacking
force was severe. Two lieutenants, one master, and fifty-seven men were
killed; one captain, seven lieutenants, a boatswain, and two hundred and
sixteen men wounded. The marquis was allowed to march out with all the
honours of war; and those inhabitants who chose to remain were
guaranteed the same rights and privileges which they had enjoyed under
Charles II.

Having appointed the Prince of Darmstadt governor, and left as many men
to garrison the Rock as could be spared from the fleet, Sir George Rooke
sailed for Tetuan to take in wood and water. He then went in search of a
French fleet which had been equipped at Toulon, and was under the orders
of the High-Admiral of France, the Comte de Thoulouse, who had been
joined by some Spanish vessels. Rooke came up with the enemy off Malaga
on the 13th of August. The superiority of force lay with the French, who
counted fifty line-of-battle ships, carrying 3543 guns and 24,155 men;
eight frigates, mounting 149 guns, with 1025 men; nine fire-ships; and a
couple of transports. Sir George Rooke had under his command forty-one
English and twelve Dutch sail of the line, carrying 3700 guns and 23,200
men, with six frigates, and seven fire-ships. The French vessels,
however, were better built than the English, and better armed. They
included three ships of 104 guns, and four of 92 and 90 guns, all the
rest being from 88 to 52 guns. On the other hand, the combined fleet
contained only three of 96 guns and two of 90 guns, the remainder being
from 80 to 50.

On Sunday morning, the 13th, the combined fleet being to windward, the
centre led by Sir George Rooke, the van by Sir Cloudesley Shovel and Sir
John Leake, and the rear by the Dutch vice-admiral Callunbuy, signal was
made to bear down upon the enemy; and upon reaching within half
gun-shot, the action began. It was long and hotly contested; the
combatants fought all day; yet not a ship of the hundred vessels engaged
on either side was taken, or burned, or sunk. The French had not at that
time acquired that sense of the superiority of the British at sea which
was forced upon them by a disastrous series of defeats in the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars; and the British admirals lacked that
boldness of attack and contempt of the enemy which Howe, Jervis, and
Nelson made a tradition. At all events, the battle, though it lasted all
day, had no decisive result; and both fleets drew off at nightfall,
having gained nothing except honour. Sir Cloudesley Shovel describes the
fight as “very sharp;” and adds, “There is hardly a ship that must not
shift one mast, and some must shift all.” The French fleet suffered even
more than the English, and on the following morning sailed away for
Toulon, with a loss in killed and wounded variously estimated at from
2000 to 3000. The loss of the English was 695 killed, and 1663 wounded;
that of the Dutch, 400 killed and wounded. So far as the “butcher’s
bill” went, both England and France had equal reason to claim a victory;
and thus, while a _Te Deum_ was chanted in Notre Dame, thanksgivings
were also publicly offered at St. Paul’s.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Court of Madrid felt the loss of Gibraltar to be a very serious
blow, and, before the autumn was passed, despatched the Marquis of
Villadaria, with 8000 men, to attempt its recovery. The Earl of Galway,
then in command of the Allied forces in Portugal, sent four regiments,
with supplies of provisions and ammunition, to the relief of the
garrison; and Sir John Leake soon afterwards arrived in the Bay with
twenty sail of English and Dutch ships. Meantime, the Spaniards
prosecuted the siege with much vigour, and harassed the garrison with a
constant and heavy fire.

Sir John Leake, hearing that the enemy were preparing to attack him with
a very powerful fleet, withdrew to Lisbon, in order to refit, and pick
up some ships which he had left behind. On the 25th he again put to sea;
and on the 27th suddenly made his appearance in the Bay, where he
surprised three frigates, two English prizes, and some small vessels.
He then landed the reinforcements, and six months’ supplies of stores,
together with a body of five hundred sailors to assist in repairing the
breaches made by the hostile guns. His arrival is described as very
opportune, for the Spanish general had fixed on that same night for an
attack by sea and land at five several points.

Baffled in this design, and conceiving that the garrison would be less
on their guard while the English fleet rode in the Bay, the marquis
conceived the idea of attempting a _coup-de-main_. On the 31st of
October five hundred picked volunteers pledged themselves on the Holy
Sacrament to capture the fortress or perish. A goatherd led this daring
little band to the south side of the Rock, by the so-called Pass of
Locust-trees; and under cover of the darkness they contrived to climb to
St. Michael’s Cave, where they spent the night. On the following night
they boldly scaled Charles the Fifth’s Wall, and surprised and slew the
guard stationed at the Signal-House and at Middle Hill. They then
proceeded to lower their ropes and ladders, and in this way drew up
several hundreds of their supports. So far they had been favoured by
fortune. But the English sentinels discovering them, now gave the
alarm. All was instant activity and alacrity. A strong detachment of
grenadiers immediately marched up from the town; and plied their
bayonets so lustily that a hundred of the assailants were killed or
hurled headlong over the precipice, while the remainder, with a colonel
and thirty officers, surrendered themselves prisoners.

The Marquis of Villadaria was not disheartened by this failure, and
though the garrison was well supplied with stores by the English fleet,
while his own army was ill-fed and ill-clothed, he kept up a continual
fire. Having received considerable reinforcements, he resolved to storm
a breach which had been effected at two points of the fortifications.
One of these, on the hill, was occupied at night by a captain, three
subalterns, and ninety men; but at daybreak the captain, two of the
subalterns, and sixty men were accustomed to retire. The other breach,
in the Round Tower, was defended by one hundred and eighty men, under a
lieutenant alone. Through deserters from the garrison the marquis had
ascertained these dispositions, and planned his attack accordingly. The
forlorn hope detailed for the upper breach scaled the Rock at night, and
sheltered themselves in its hollows until the captain withdrew in the
morning. They then pushed forwards, and, with a discharge of grenades,
cleared the works of the subaltern and his small party. Simultaneously
the Round Tower was surrounded by three hundred men, and
Lieutenant-Colonel Bain, after a gallant defence, was forced to seek
shelter in the covered way. But, as before, just when the Spaniards
thought success within their grasp, they were doomed to discomfiture.
The garrison had taken the alarm; drum and bugle summoned the regiments
to their different quarters; and a body of five hundred men flung
themselves on the enemy with such determined valour that they were
forced to yield. The tower was retaken, and the Rock cleared of Spanish

The Governments of Spain and France did not yet abandon all hope of
recovering Gibraltar. The Marquis of Villadaria having failed, was
superseded by a veteran French general, the Marshal Tessé; and a
powerful fleet, under Admiral Pointis, was ordered to blockade the port.
The besieging army was reinforced; the entrenchments were repaired and
mounted with new and heavier guns. The English Ministry, apprised of
these measures, strengthened Sir John Leake with some additional ships;
and the gallant admiral, sailing from Lisbon on the 6th of March, came
up with M. Pointis on the 10th, and cut off five of the French
ships--three of which were taken, while the others were driven ashore
and burned. He then stood into the Bay and landed supplies for the use
of the garrison. Despairing of success in any direct attack, the marshal
withdrew his troops from their old positions, and entrenched himself
across the isthmus, so as to prevent the English from making any forays
into the interior.

No further attempt was made upon a fortress which, in the hands of
English soldiers, had proved impregnable; and by the Treaty of Utrecht,
in 1713, Gibraltar was formally ceded to England.



We read of no further attempt upon Gibraltar until 1720. At that time
the Spanish fortress of Ceuta, on the African coast, was beleaguered by
the Moors; and with the professed intention of relieving it, a large
armament was collected in Gibraltar Bay, under the Marquis de Leda. The
British Government, however, received information that the real object
of the expedition was the surprise of Gibraltar; and accordingly ordered
the governor of Minorca to embark immediately with a portion of his
troops and reinforce its garrison. On his arrival, he found that this
important post was defended by three battalions only; that the stores
contained provisions for scarcely fourteen days; and this with a strong
Spanish fleet in the Bay. He took such active measures, however, that
the Marquis de Leda was obliged to abandon all hopes of carrying the
Rock, and to sail for Ceuta.

Towards the end of 1726 the Spaniards assembled an army near Algesiras,
which, in the following January, they moved to the plain below San
Roque. Soon after this camp was formed, the Count de Los Torres, the
Spanish commander, advanced within reach of the garrison. Brigadier Kane
then despatched a message, desiring the count to retire from the range
of his guns, or he would do his utmost to force him. The count replied
that, as the garrison could command no more than they had power to
maintain, he should obey His Catholic Majesty’s orders, and push forward
as far as he was able. The English general was forced to bear with this
insolence, because war had not yet been formally declared between
England and Spain.

The situation was altered, however, when in February the Spaniards began
to erect batteries on the Neutral Ground. It was felt that this movement
was an open declaration of hostile intentions, and the English guns
began to fire on the Spanish workmen. Information having been received
that the enemy were constructing a mine, our engineers succeeded in
discovering the spot, and baffling their operations. On the morning of
the 22nd a sharp fire was opened on the garrison, and new batteries were
run up which commanded the Old Mole and the town. The besieged, however,
relaxed nothing in their efforts, and maintained the defence with
persistent vigour, though their ordnance, being old, were constantly
bursting, and inflicting almost as much injury on our own gunners as on
the enemy.

The English admirals, on the 2nd of April, resolved on bombarding
Algesiras, whence the Spaniards received their supplies of ammunition;
but the ships being becalmed, were compelled to drop anchor; after
which, says Drinkwater, the navy never gave themselves any further
concern about annoying them in that quarter. On the 16th, two sergeants,
with ten men each, were ordered to push along under the Rock, and alarm
the enemy in the trenches; the governor intending, when they were
sufficiently aroused, to rake them with discharges of grape. The
sergeants did their duty, and the enemy instantly beat to arms; but the
bombardier charged with the duty of signalling to the batteries fired
too soon, and the Spaniards, discovering the manœuvre, quickly retired
under cover.

Shortly afterwards news arrived of the conclusion of peace, and the
Spanish accordingly dismantled their works and retreated to their
different quarters.

The Rock now continued in the possession of the English for many years,
without any attempt being made to disturb them; and we may pass over
half a century in silence, taking up our record again in 1776, when the
Right Hon. General George Augustus Elliot was appointed Governor. His
name will long be remembered in connection with the famous siege of



Before entering on a description of the Great Siege, which stands
foremost among the brilliant episodes of our military history, it will
be necessary for the reader’s understanding of its details to put before
him a view of the Rock and its defences as they then existed. In doing
so we must necessarily avail ourselves of the close and careful account
furnished by Captain Drinkwater, who wrote from personal knowledge, and
shared in the various experiences of the siege. We shall, however, as
far as possible, spare our readers the infliction of purely technical

The Rock of Gibraltar forms a kind of promontory rising seaward to a
height of 1300 feet, and connected with the mainland by a low sandy
isthmus. The landward face varies considerably in elevation. The
breadth of the isthmus at the foot of the Rock is about 2700 feet, but
towards the country it broadens rapidly. Across this neck of land,
which, with the Rock and the Algesiras coast, forms the Bay, the
Spaniards, before the Great Siege, had erected a line of fortifications,
1700 yards in length, and distant about a mile from the nearest posts of
the garrison. At each extremity a fort of twenty-four guns was erected;
one christened St. Barbara, and the other St. Philip. Their cross-fire
completely commanded the so-called Neutral Ground, a narrow belt or
strip between English Gibraltar and the Spanish mainland.

The Rock, we must add, is divided into two unequal parts by a ridge
extending from north to south. The western section is a gradual slope,
broken up with precipices; but the eastern, which looks out upon the
blue Mediterranean, and the northern, facing the Spanish batteries, are
both very steep, and, in fact, inaccessible.

At the foot of the north-west slope, and surrounded by irregular
fortifications, lies the town, which communicates with the isthmus by a
long, narrow causeway, strongly bristling with defensive works. These,
and the causeway itself, are over-looked by the guns mounted in the
King’s, Queen’s, and Prince’s lines; ramparts excavated out of the solid
rock, and practicable only to birds of prey. At different heights, up to
the very crest, batteries are planted so as to present to an enemy a
peculiarly grim and forbidding aspect. The Old Mole, to the west of the
Grand Battery, joined with the above lines to pour a tremendous
cross-fire on the causeway and Neutral Ground. So great an annoyance did
this battery prove to the besiegers, that, by way of distinction, they
named it the Devil’s Tongue; and the entrance into the garrison, with
its batteries here, there, and everywhere, and its cannons and mortars
on the causeway and Old Mole, suggested to them the picturesque title of
the Mouth of Fire.

All along the sea-line were stout bastions, joined by curtains, which
were mounted with great guns and howitzers, and supplied with casemates
for 1000 men. These sufficiently defended the town; which was protected
also by a rocky shoal, stretching along the front far into the Bay, and
preventing the approach of large ships. From the south bastion a curtain
stretched up the base of the hill, and terminated the fortifications of
the town at an inaccessible precipice. Here was placed the South-port
gate, with a dry ditch in front of it, a covered way, and glacis. Above
this gate, on the rugged slope of the hill, and connected with the
curtain, was a large bastion, pointing its guns at the Bay. Further up,
an ancient Moorish wall ran along to the ridge of the rock, in the front
of which a curtain, with loop-holes and redans, built in the reign and
christened by the name of Charles V., extended to the summit. Between
these two walls, the Moorish and the Emperor’s, stood the Signal-House,
whence, on a clear bright day, the guard could command an unimpeded view
of the Mediterranean, and discern even the shining waters of the
Atlantic over the Spanish mountains. “Signals,” says Drinkwater,
“formerly were made at this post on the appearance of topsail vessels
from east and west, but soon after the commencement of the late war we
discovered that the Spanish cruisers were more frequently informed of
the approach of our friends by our signals than by their own. The
signals were therefore discontinued during the siege, but resumed after
the general peace of 1783.”

Following a line of ramparts along the beach, the visitor, at the time
we are speaking of, came to the New Mole, with its 26-gun battery, and
thence proceeded to the well-known quay of the Ragged Staff, usually
employed for the landing of stores for the garrison. Ships of the line
could lie along the Mole, such was the depth of water; and at the Mole
head was stationed a circular battery for heavy cannon. The Rock is not
easily accessible from the New Mole fort to the north end of Rosia Bay,
but it was defended, like every other point, by batteries and ramparts.

From the south end of Rosia Bay the cliff rose gradually to Buena
Vista--so called on account of its beautiful view of the Spanish and
African coasts, bathed in a glow of colour. Several guns were mounted
there, and the hill towards Europa Point bore some defensive works.
Thence the Rock sweeps down by the Devil’s Bowling-Green--so named, on
the _lucus à non lucendo_ principle,[1] from its rugged surface--to
Little Bay, where a battery stood surrounded by frowning precipices; and
onward stretched the line of works and batteries to Europa Point, the
southern extremity of the garrison, though not the southern extremity of
the European continent. From this point frown precipitous cliffs of the
gloomiest aspect to Europa Advance, where the fortifications were
terminated by some few batteries.

Whether the young reader can or cannot follow in every particular the
foregoing description, he will at least derive from it the idea of a not
insufficient system of defensive works, which did credit to the ability
of the engineer-officers of the time. Every point of vantage had its
battery or bastion. The natural advantages of the position were
carefully utilised, and the approaches were commanded by heavy guns,
which could pour on an advancing enemy a withering fire. In all, the
fortifications were armed with six hundred and sixty-three pieces of

The town of Gibraltar, says Drinkwater, is built on a bed of red sand.
The houses were composed of different materials, principally of a solid
well-tempered cement called tapia; but some of the rock-stone,
plastered, and blue-washed on the outside, so as to moderate the fiery
rays of the sun. These were generally covered with tiles, but the flat
terraced roofs remained in the Spanish houses, and, in many, the
_mirandas_ or towers, whence the inmates, without removing from home,
could luxuriate in a bright and ample prospect of the Bay and
neighbouring coasts.


_Page 28._

Most conspicuous among the buildings was the old Moorish castle, which
recalled to the spectator the palmy days of Saracenic supremacy in
Spain. It was situated on the north-west side of the hill, and
originally consisted of a triple wall, the outermost of which rose sheer
from the water’s edge. The lower portions, however, had been destroyed
before the siege, and on their ruins was planted the Grand Battery. The
walls formed an oblong, ascending the hill, with the principal tower, or
governor’s residence, at the upper angle. The remains of a mosque were
still visible; as also those of a Saracenic court, and a tank or
reservoir for water.

Ruins of Moorish edifices were discernible also on Windmill Hill, and at
Europa. Those on the hill were in a condition which rendered it
impossible to determine their original character; at Europa they have
been converted by the Spaniards into a chapel, dedicated to the Virgin
Mary. Fragments of Moorish walls run along the water’s edge; and near
Europa Advance is a Moorish bath, which our English soldiers named the
Nuns’ Well. It is sunk eight feet deep in the rock, and measures
seventy-two feet by forty-two feet. Over it is an arcaded canopy,
supported by graceful Saracenic columns.

In the hill are numerous caves and hollows, some natural, and some
improved by the hand of man. Of the former the most considerable appears
to be St. Michael’s Cave, which lies on the south side, about eleven
hundred feet above the sea-level. The remains of a strong wall are
visible near this entrance, which is only five feet wide. On entering,
the stranger finds himself in a considerable cavity, about two hundred
feet in length, and ninety feet in breadth; and the light of his torch,
if he penetrate into the interior, reveals the mouths of several other
caves. From the roof depend stalactites of great size and curious shape,
giving to the whole that character of Gothic architecture which is
noticeable in all stalactitic grottoes. There are also numerous
stalagmites, which in some cases almost join the calcareous droppings
from the roof, and appear to form supporting pillars.

Mr. Bartlett describes in some detail a visit which he paid to this
remarkable cave. Accompanied by a guide with blue lights, he descended
the slippery pathway between lofty pillars of stalactite, to find
himself in a darkness visible, and in a silence so deep and still that
the droppings of the water which filters through the roof above could be


_Page 31._

heard as they fell at intervals on the rock beneath. The guide lighted a
heap of brushwood, the blaze of which disclosed to view a lofty
vault-shaped dome, supported as it were on columns of milk-white
stalactite, not unlike the trunks of palm-trees, and a variety of
fantastic foliage, some stretching down to the very floor of the cavern,
others resting midway on rocky ledges and congealed calcareous masses,
springing from the floor, “like the vestibule of some palace of the
genii.” At a given signal the blue lights were kindled, and the entire
scene, which before had been but partially illuminated, flashed into
sudden splendour; hundreds of stalactites shone with a mysterious gleam;
the lofty columns, fantastically wrought, seemed suddenly converted into
silver, as if by the wand of some magician. This revelation of the
wonders of the cavern was but transient; for the lights speedily burning
down, Mr. Bartlett was forced to retire before he became involved in
dangerous darkness. And this was the more necessary, in order to avoid a
certain deep gloomy fissure, which forms the pathway into the unknown
depths below. “While our eyes were endeavouring,” says a traveller, “to
penetrate a little further into its mysteries, I suddenly flung my torch
into it. The effect was beautiful: the torch blazed brightly as it
fell, making for itself a sort of halo of glittering gems, as it lighted
the walls of the gulf momentarily but beautiful. We tried this with all
the torches it was safe to spare, for we were far from daylight, and
then tossed fragments of rock and crystals, which echoed far in the
depths, and fell we knew not where. It is supposed that the whole Rock
is galleried in this way. Explorations have been attempted, and two
soldiers once undertook to descend this very gulf. One only returned,
however; his comrade had disappeared for ever.”

An ominous and gloomy character attaches to this chasm, and it has been
supposed that more than one poor fellow has here met with foul
play,--having been enticed by assassins on various pretences into the
cave, and, after having been plundered, flung into this horrible gulf,
as a place that tells no tales.

Not long before Mr. Bartlett’s visit, a gentleman who was desirous of
investigating into the penetralia of the cave, caused himself to be let
down by ropes, bearing a light in his hand; but what was his horror, on
his foot meeting with some resistance, to find that he was treading on a
dead body, while his torch at the same time disclosed to him the livid
features of a murdered man! Another gentleman of Mr. Bartlett’s
acquaintance explored the windings of the cave for a distance of four
hundred feet. The actual extent of the subterranean passages has never
been ascertained, and exaggeration and popular fancy find in it a
fertile subject; the vulgar believing that it is the mouth of a
communication beneath the Strait with Mount Abyla, and that by this
sub-oceanic passage the apes upon the Rock found their way from Africa.
The Moors, it is said, had a complete knowledge of the interior of the
cave; and a fancy has sometimes prevailed that through these
subterranean windings an enemy might obtain admission into the fortress!

The reader may be reminded that Captain Hamley, in some of the amusing
tales which he formerly contributed to _Blackwood’s Magazine_, made good
use of the Rock and its natural curiosities.[2]

In different parts of the hill may be found several other caves of the
same description. One of these, called Pocoroca, was fitted up, at the
beginning of the Great Siege, for the governor; but was afterwards
converted into a powder-magazine, which proved greatly convenient for
the batteries on the height.

The fossils discovered in various parts of the Rock rank among its
curiosities; but the visitor takes more interest in the apes which have
colonized it. They breed in places inaccessible to man, and climb up and
down the craggy precipices with wonderful celerity. The supposition is
that they came from Barbary with the Saracens, as a similar species
inhabit Mons Abyla, or, as it is popularly called, Apes’ Hill. In former
days red-legged partridges, woodcock, teal, and wild rabbits frequented
the Rock, but these have almost wholly disappeared before the rifles of
our English sportsmen.

Drinkwater records that eagles and vultures annually visited Gibraltar
on their way into the Spanish interior; and that the former bred among
the precipices, and, with the hawk, might often be seen wheeling above
its summit. The green lizard is still numerous; and scorpions and other
reptiles haunt the neighbourhood of the fissures and the crevices of the
Rock. The climate on the whole is genial. Winter loses all its severity;
and the summer-heats are tempered by refreshing breezes from the sea.
The worst inconvenience is the recurrence in December and January of
violent thunderstorms, with gales, and heavy rains, almost tropical in
their fury. Yet there is so little soil on the Rock, that the climatic
advantages do not produce any abundant vegetable-growth. When the rains
set in, wild grasses shoot up in the chinks and fissures; but as soon as
the sun reasserts its power, these disappear, and the eye rests only on
bare, sombre, and sterile rock. The western slopes, however, present an
agreeable contrast to the barrenness which everywhere else is dominant.
There the vegetation, though dwarfed, is dense; palmettos flourish, and
lavender, and Spanish broom, while the rugged rock absolutely blooms
with roses, periwinkles, and asphodels.

The view from the summit is perhaps sufficient to compensate for any
deficiency of beauty in the Rock itself. The spectator stands there on
the boundary, as it were, of the Old World, on the confines of two great
continents. At his feet the low and narrow tongue of land, called Europa
Point, stretches far into the sea, covered with bastions and casemates,
intermingled with villas and gardens. To the west extends the undulating
line of the Strait, with its waters of an intense blue, and beyond rises
the rocky coast of Tarifa, while the mighty sweep of the Atlantic Ocean
is lost in the western vapours. On the right, the Mediterranean, of a
pale azure, relieved by flashes and gleams of silver, beats in pearly
foam against the very foot of the Rock; opposite frown the dusky cliffs
of Africa, with the white houses and dismantled fortifications of Ceuta,
visible at the bottom of a vast bay, and the Mount Abyla of the
ancients, that other “Pillar of Hercules,” looking as if, in truth, a
demigod had torn it from the Rock of Gibraltar, and planted the two huge
fragments as gigantic landmarks at the extremity of the universe.

Bring your gaze back to nearer points, and on the right you see the
graceful rounded outline of the sheltered Bay, associated with the names
of Rodney, and Howe, and Nelson, and Collingwood, whose “tall ships”
have so often rested upon its waters. Gibraltar stands on the one side,
its harbour thronged with masts; on the other, the small town of
Algesiras lies on the slope of the hills, and bathes its feet in the
warm, bright waves. In the curve shelters the village of San Roque, the
first the traveller meets with on entering Spain; nearer still, and in
the rear, we see the thin sandy isthmus which links Gibraltar to the
mainland. The division between English and Spanish territory is marked
by a

[Illustration: EUROPA POINT.

_Page 37._

row of towers, and we can distinguish close at hand the tents of a small
camp always occupied by a few regiments. Finally, the background of the
picture, beyond San Roque, is filled in with the green mountains of
Ronda; and towering above and behind these, the rose-tinted peaks of the
Sierra Benneja, and the snowy summits of the Alpuxarras. It is difficult
to conceive a grander spectacle.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have thus endeavoured to furnish the reader with a general view of
the Rock, and town, and fortifications of Gibraltar at the time that
General Elliot assumed the governorship.

In 1777 the position of Great Britain was one of apparent peril, and her
enemies were not without grounds for their belief that her power had
received a mortal blow. Her North American colonies had seceded, and all
her attempts to reduce them to obedience had failed, while her military
prestige had been obscured by the surrender of Burgoyne’s army at
Saratoga. France had espoused the cause of the American States, whose
ambassador had been received at Versailles with special distinction. The
circumstances of the time seemed favourable to Spain to attempt a
recovery of her coveted fortress; and in June she issued a declaration
of war. But instead of being cowed by this demonstration on the part of
another enemy, the public spirit of England was roused to a fever of
patriotism. The fleets of Spain and France rode in the Channel with as
mighty a display as when Drake and his compeers launched their frigates
against the Invincible Armada. To their sixty-six sail of the line, the
British admiral, Sir Charles Hardy, could oppose only thirty-eight; but
with them he succeeded in preventing the enemy from landing an invading
army. The chief attack of Spain, however, was directed against
Gibraltar, and she cared little to expend her resources in any other

       *       *       *       *       *

At the outbreak of hostilities, General Elliot, the veteran governor of
the Rock, found himself at the head of a garrison 5382 strong. He had
428 artillerymen and 106 engineers; and as soon as he had been apprised
of the possibility of war, had privately made preparations for defence.
On the 21st of June, by order of the Spanish Court, communication
between Spain and Gibraltar was closed; and efforts were made to arrange
for constant supplies of provisions from Barbary. Admiral Duff, at the
same time, brought his ships--a 60-gun man-of-war, three frigates, and a
sloop--alongside the New Mole; the barriers were everywhere shut; and at
all exposed points the guards were strengthened. Meanwhile, the enemy
made no overt movement against the fortress; but it was observed that in
various places they were collecting deposits of earth and other
materials, and mounting new guns along their line of entrenchments. And
in the course of July they assembled a powerful fleet in the Strait;
while the camp was constantly being reinforced with additional regiments
of cavalry and infantry.

Towards the middle of August the enemy succeeded in establishing a
strict blockade, and it was conjectured that their object was to reduce
the garrison by famine. Only forty head of cattle were in the place, and
the vigilance of the Spanish cruisers interrupted the supplies from
Barbary. Two bullocks, however, by the governor’s order, were killed
daily for the use of the sick. Due warning had been given to the
inhabitants of the peril impending over them, and each person had been
directed to have in store six months’ provisions. By far the greater
number this precaution had been neglected; and as they could not be
supplied from the garrison stores, most of them were compelled to quit
Gibraltar and go elsewhere in quest of subsistence.

On the 12th of September some of the British batteries opened fire on
the enemy, with the view of interrupting the workmen engaged in
enlarging and pushing forward their fortifications; and for several days
the firing was kept up, though with no particular vigour. In November
the garrison began to experience the effects of scarcity, and provisions
fetched the most extravagant prices. Mutton was 3s. and 3s. 6d. per lb.;
veal, 4s.; pork, 2s. and 2s. 6d.; a pig’s head fetched 19s., and ducks
from 14s. to 18s. a couple; while a goose was prized at a guinea. Fish
was not less dear, and vegetables were scarcely attainable “for love or
money;” but bread, the staff of life, was the article most wanted. It
was about this period, says Drinkwater, that the governor made trial
what quantity of rice would suffice a single person for twenty-four
hours, and for eight days he actually lived on four ounces of rice a
day. General Elliot, however, was always remarkable for his
abstemiousness of living, his general fare being vegetables, simple
puddings, and water. He was not the less a robust and healthy man,
capable of much hard work and exercise; but the scanty diet just
mentioned would certainly not suffice for a man working hard in a
climate where the heat makes exhausting demands on the human frame.

On the 14th October occurred an episode which gives a striking idea of
the courage and resources of the British seaman “of the olden time.”
About eight in the morning the look-outs discovered a small cutter,
flying the British flag, coming down towards the Bay with a westerly
wind. It proved to be the _Buck_, Captain Fagg, fitted out as a
privateer, and carrying 24 nine-pounders. The Spaniards also sighted
her, and made the usual signal for seeing an enemy, at Cabrita Point.
Immediately, the Spanish admiral, with a ship of the line, a 50-gun
ship, a 40-gun frigate, and some smaller craft, twenty-one in all, got
under weigh to intercept this formidable foe! The _Buck_, nothing
daunted, changed her course, and stood direct for the Barbary coast,
speeding along at a gallant rate; while the Spanish frigate, xebecs, and
lighter craft, unable to sail so closely to the wind, were carried
downward by the strength of the current, like a squadron of huntsmen
when baffled by the sudden doubling of a hare. When the Spanish admiral,
who was last in the chase, became aware of this misadventure, he
tacked, wore round, and returned to the Point, so as to cut off the
_Buck_ in the Bay. The 50-gun ship also wore, and in this way checked
her drift to leeward. Captain Fagg at this moment steered direct for the
garrison. The 50-gun ship endeavoured to intercept her, but the
batteries at Europa opened fire, and drove her off. Then the Spanish
admiral bore down heavily from Cabrita Point, but the _Buck_ nimbly
manœuvred past her, and replied to a couple of irregular broadsides of
shot and shell with her little stern-chase guns,--soon afterwards
anchoring safely under the cannon of the Rock.

The privateer brought neither news nor supplies, and, indeed, was sadly
in want of provisions. Yet the incident cheered the garrison greatly,
for it showed that the Bay was still open to ships from England, if
managed as skilfully and boldly as Captain Fagg’s cutter.

       *       *       *       *       *

We pass on to January 1780. On the 8th a Neapolitan vessel was
wind-driven within range of the British guns, and compelled to
surrender. She proved to be an argosy of great price, having on board
about six thousand bushels of barley, than which nothing could have been
more acceptable to the garrison. The inhabitants had for some time been
put upon a daily ration of bread, which was delivered by the bakers
under the protection of sentries with fixed bayonets. Yet even this
precaution did not prevent a scene of excitement daily; and in the
struggling, pushing, heated crowd it was necessarily the strongest who
gained the advantage,--forcing their way to the front, and frequently
carrying off the portions that should have gone to feeble women and
helpless children. Nor were the inhabitants the only sufferers. Many
officers and soldiers had to support their families on the scanty dole
allowed by the victualling-office; and a private, with his wife and
three children, must have been starved, but for the assistance
generously rendered by his comrades. It is recorded that one woman
actually perished of hunger; others were reduced to such a condition of
feebleness that it was with difficulty they were saved; and numbers eked
out a wretched existence on wild leeks, thistles, dandelions, and the

Necessity is the mother of invention, and hunger sharpens the wits of
needy men. Some Hanoverian soldiers, in their distress, were stimulated
to devise a new process of chicken-hatching. The eggs were placed, with
some such warm substance as cotton or wool, in a tin case capable of
being heated by a lamp or hot water; and a proper temperature being
maintained, they were hatched about as quickly as if a hen had sat upon
them. A capon was then trained to rear the little ones; and, to prepare
him for this unusual duty, his breast and belly were stripped bare of
feathers, and he was cruelly flagellated with a bunch of nettles. When
placed upon the brood, they afforded so much warmth and comfort to his
poor smarting body, that he addressed himself to the task of rearing
them with considerable satisfaction.

On the 10th a soldier of the 58th Regiment was executed for stealing,--a
sharp but necessary example.

On the 12th the monotony of the siege was interrupted by a discharge of
ten shot from one of the Spanish forts. They did some slight damage to
houses, and wounded a woman; but their principal effect was to scare the
inhabitants, who, fearing that a bombardment was about to commence,
packed up their valuables, and made preparations for concealing
themselves in all kinds of places. On the cessation of the firing,
however, they regained courage.

On the 15th, wistful eyes looking out to seaward were rejoiced by the
appearance of a brig carrying the British flag, which, regardless of the
enemy’s batteries, stood right into the Bay, and brought the glad
intelligence that she was the forerunner of a large convoy which had
sailed from England in December with ample supplies for the blockaded
garrison. After the first emotions of surprise and pleasure had
subsided, fresh apprehensions seized the wavering minds of the besieged.
They concluded that the enemy could not fail to have obtained
information of the approaching relief, and that they would be prepared
to intercept it. The event proved, however, that the Spaniards had
received no certain intelligence, and, concluding that the convoy would
be escorted only by a small squadron, had despatched eleven men-of-war
to make short work of it. But these were attacked by Admiral Sir George
Rodney with a powerful fleet of twenty-one sail of the line, and driven
into headlong flight. The British admiral also fell in with fifteen
Spanish merchantmen, escorted by six ships of war, all of which he
captured; and before the end of the month, with his prizes and
transports, he dropped anchor in the Bay.

On board Sir George Rodney’s fleet was a royal midshipman, the young
Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV. He was entrusted to the charge
of Admiral Digby; and when, one morning, Don Juan Langara, the Spanish
admiral, visited the British commander, he was introduced to the
youthful prince. During the conference between the two admirals, Prince
William Henry withdrew; and when it was announced that Don Juan wished
to return to his own ship, the royal midshipman appeared, touched his
hat, and intimated that the admiral’s boat was ready. Whereupon, it is
said, Don Juan exclaimed,--“Well does Great Britain merit the empire of
the sea, when the humblest stations in her navy are supported by princes
of the blood!”

       *       *       *       *       *

For a time the garrison and inhabitants of Gibraltar enjoyed both peace
and plenty. The Spanish forces seemed to have abandoned their task; and
a constant interchange of courtesies was maintained between their
leaders and the British officers. On the 13th of February Sir George
Rodney’s fleet got under weigh, leaving behind two men-of-war and a
couple of frigates, and sailed for England; and immediately afterwards
the Spaniards renewed the blockade. About the middle of March, General
Elliot found it necessary once more to regulate the issue of provisions,
and gave directions that the garrison should be victualled monthly
(bread excepted) in the following proportion:--For a soldier, each first
and third week, 1 lb. of pork, 2½ lbs. of salt cod (which, by the way,
proved very injurious, and caused the appearance of that terrible
disorder, scurvy), 2 pints of pease, 1 lb. of flour, ¼ lb. of raisins, 1
lb. of rice, 5 oz. of butter, 1½ pint of oatmeal. Second and fourth
week, 1½ lb. of beef, 2 lbs. of fish, 2 pints of pease, 1 lb. of rice, 5
oz. of butter, 1½ lb. of wheat, and 1 lb. of raisins. This, it must be
owned, was but meagre fare.

In the month of June the Spaniards showed signs of prosecuting the siege
with greater vigour, and made a bold attempt to destroy the vessels in
the Bay with fire-ships. But the alarm being given, the _Panther_, a
60-gun man-of-war, and the other armed vessels, immediately opened a
brisk cannonade to check their progress; and springing into their boats,
the officers and seamen, with characteristic vigour, grappled the
blazing ships. The flames raged fiercely, but our sailors, nothing
daunted, towed them under the British guns, where they were soon

The blockade increasing in severity, both the garrison and inhabitants
felt the pressure of want, and provisions were once more selling at
almost fabulous prices. Such vessels as escaped the enemy’s cruisers
were chiefly loaded with “luxuries” rather than “substantials;” but a
cargo of fruit which arrived in October proved of inestimable value in
checking the ravages of scurvy, a disease that at one time threatened to
prove much more destructive to the garrison than the enemy’s fire.

In March 1781 the want of bread was severely experienced, many families
having received none for several days, and biscuit-crumbs selling for
tenpence and one shilling per pound. Fresh meat and fish were equally
scarce and equally dear. The dietary of the garrison was reduced to the
barest necessaries; and the distress which the women and children must
have undergone may be inferred from the nature of the weekly allowance
to each soldier, which was--5¼ lbs. of bread, 13 oz. of salt beef and 18
oz. of pork (both almost putrid), 2½ oz. of rancid butter, 12 oz. of
raisins, half a pint of pease, a pint of Spanish beans, a pint of wheat
(which was ground into flour for puddings), 4 oz. of rice, and quarter
of a pint of oil.

Great, therefore, was the joy of the besieged when, on the 12th of
April, a convoy of nearly one hundred vessels arrived from England,
escorted by a strong fleet under Admiral Darby. The historian of the
siege, in describing this event, soars almost into the region of poetry.
“At daybreak,” he says, “the much-expected fleet, under the command of
Admiral Darby, was in sight from our signal-house, but was not
discernible from below, being obscured by a thick mist in the Gut. As
the sun, however, became more powerful, this fog gradually rose, like
the curtain of a vast theatre, discovering to the anxious garrison _one
of the most beautiful and pleasing scenes it is possible to conceive_.
The convoy, consisting of near a hundred vessels, was in a compact body,
led by several men-of-war, their sails just enough filled for steerage;
whilst the majority of the line-of-battle ships lay-to under the Barbary
shore, having orders not to enter the Bay, lest the enemy should molest
them with their fire-ships. The ecstasies of the inhabitants at this
grand and exhilarating sight are not to be described. Their expressions
of joy far exceeded their former exultations. But, alas! they little
dreamed of the tremendous blow that impended, which was to annihilate
their property and reduce many of them to indigence and beggary.”

As the convoy drew near, a squadron of fifteen gun-boats advanced from
Algesiras, and, assembling in regular array under the batteries at
Cabrita Point, opened a smart fire on the nearest ships, supported by
the gun and mortar batteries on the land; but they were soon compelled,
by an English line-of-battle ship and a couple of frigates, to effect a
precipitate retreat.

       *       *       *       *       *

This second relief of the garrison stung the Spaniards into the adoption
of a measure which had little value in a military sense, but inflicted a
large amount of suffering on the inhabitants of the town of Gibraltar.
The convoy had scarcely anchored, when they bombarded the town and
fortifications with sixty-four heavy guns and fifty mortars. The
unfortunate inhabitants, who were busily congratulating each other on
the arrival of the fleet, exchanged their exultation for sorrow, and
fled in the greatest confusion--old and young, men, women, and
children--to the southward, abandoning their property to the mercy of
the soldiers. Soon after noon the firing ceased, and the inhabitants
hastened to secure such valuables as could be easily removed; but those
bulkier articles which “the avaricious and hard-hearted hucksters” had
concealed in their stores, to retail in small quantities at exorbitant
prices, were all destroyed.

About five o’clock the hostile batteries reopened, and their storm of
shot and shell was continued uninterruptedly; without interfering,
however, with the disembarkation of the supplies. Several soldiers were
killed and wounded in their quarters on the 13th. The Spaniards being
accustomed to indulge themselves with a siesta in the middle of the day,
the garrison and inhabitants enjoyed an interval of peace every noon;
otherwise, the roar of the guns and the hiss of the rapid missiles made
day and night equally hideous.

On the evening of the 14th, says Drinkwater, the enemy’s shells were
very profusely distributed; some that did not burst were examined, and
on the fuse being drawn it was found that inflammable matter had been
mixed with the powder. These combustibles set on fire a wine-house near
the Spanish church, and before the conflagration could be extinguished
four or five houses were burned to the ground. Detachments of infantry
were sent to quench the flames, but the enemy’s cannonade became so
brisk that great confusion ensued. From this disaster may be dated the
irregularities into which, through the combined influence of drink and
resentment, many of the soldiers fell. Some died of intoxication on the
spot, and others were with difficulty recovered.

“Though riot and violence,” continues Drinkwater, “are most contrary to
that spirit of regular discipline which should always prevail in
military affairs, something may yet be urged in extenuation of the
conduct of the troops. The extreme distress to which they had been
reduced by the mercenary conduct of the hucksters and liquor-dealers, in
hoarding, or rather concealing their stocks, to enhance the price of
what was exposed for sale, raised amongst the troops (when they
discovered the great quantities of various articles in the private
stores) a spirit of revenge. The first and second days they conducted
themselves with great propriety; but on the eve of the third day their
discipline was over-powered by their inebriation, and from that instant,
regardless of punishment or the entreaties of their officers, they were
guilty of many and great excesses. The enemy’s shells soon forced open
the secret recesses of the merchants, and the soldiers instantly availed
themselves of the opportunity to seize upon the liquors, which they
conveyed to haunts of their own. There, in parties, they barricaded
their quarters against all opposers, and, insensible of their danger,
regaled themselves with the spoils. Several skirmishes occurred amongst
them, which, if not seasonably put a stop to by the interference of
officers, might have ended in serious consequences.”

Such is life in a beleaguered town! There is something more to be feared
than the attacks of external enemies, and that is, the irregularities
within; the outbursts of a spirit of military insubordination, and the
follies and crimes of the non-combatants,--all adding to the anxiety and
increasing the responsibility of the military and civil authorities. At
Gibraltar the entire burden rested on the shoulders of General
Elliot,--who bore it, however, with inflexible calmness and resolute
patience, tempering justice with mercy, but not fearing to strike
heavily when it was necessary for the common safety.

       *       *       *       *       *

The bombardment continued briskly, and casualties occurred daily. On
the 21st, the besieged counted forty-two rounds in a couple of minutes!
The garrison flag-staff was so much damaged that the upper part had to
be cut off; but the shot-torn colours were _nailed_ to the stump. From
the enemy’s gun and mortar boats on the 23rd, two hundred and sixty shot
and forty shells were discharged. The wife of a soldier was killed
behind the South Barracks. The relaxation of discipline among the
soldiers had become so alarming that, on the 26th, General Elliot issued
orders, which were strictly carried out, that any soldier found drunk or
asleep on his post, or plundering, should be executed. Everybody’s
spirits were raised on the 27th by the arrival of twenty ships with
provisions from Minorca; and this encouragement was sorely needed at a
time when the garrison was harassed not only by fire but water--the
rains falling heavily, and thunderstorms being of frequent occurrence.
It was awful to hear the reverberating peal mingling with the roar of
cannon, and to see the smoke-clouds of battle pierced by the lurid
arrows of the lightning.

It must not be supposed that the English endured the enemy’s bombardment
in silence. The guns of the Rock were plied at times with equal
alacrity and effect; but the prudent general would not allow his men to
waste their shot and powder, and they fired only when the enemy were
well within range. On the morning of May the 7th, the gun and mortar
boats opened upon the town and the New Mole for about an hour. The
garrison replied with four hundred rounds, at which the governor was
much displeased. “There would be no end,” said he, “of expending
ammunition, if we fired every time they came, and while they were at so
great a distance.”

Among the incidents which marked the history of the siege within the
walls, we may mention that, on one occasion, a Hanoverian and some other
ill-disposed fellows were detected in plundering a store. They were
given in charge to a sentry; but the Hanoverian attempted to escape.
“Halt!” cried the sentry, “or I’ll fire!” The marauder continuing his
flight, the sentry carried out his threat, and the man fell dead on the
spot. A soldier of the 58th was, on another occasion, hung at the door
of the store in his robbery of which he had been surprised. On the 9th,
an officer lost his leg by a shot. The remarkable feature of this
occurrence was, that the wounded man saw the shot coming on its fatal
errand, but was so fascinated by it that he could not move out of the
way. A shell fell into a house in which fifteen or sixteen persons were
huddled together; all escaped except a child, whose mother had been
killed by a shell only a few days before. A soldier, rambling about the
town, came upon a store of watches and other valuable articles, among
the ruins of a house, and hastened to take possession of them. Then
arose the puzzling question, What should he do with this treasure-trove?
To convey them to his quarters was impossible, as every one was examined
on his return from duty. The expedient to which he finally resorted was
very curious. He took out the wad of a gun on the King’s Bastion, and
tying his prize in his pocket-handkerchief, secreted it in the bore of
the gun as far as he could reach; afterwards replacing the wad. In the
piping times of peace a better repository could hardly have been
invented; but it happened that on this same evening, while the marauder
lay asleep in his casemate, the hostile gunboats approached, and fire
was vigorously opened upon them. One of the first guns discharged was
that which contained the soldier’s ill-gotten wealth, and all his
visions of future greatness were dissipated in a moment!

The incessant bombardment had, of course, a ruinous effect upon the
town. Scarcely any of the houses north of the Grand Parade were
inhabitable; all of them were deserted. The families of some of the
soldiers lingered still in a few near South-port; but even of these only
the walls remained standing. The governor and lieutenant-governor,
however, maintained their quarters,--men being kept constantly employed
in repairing the damage done by shot or shell. But the general aspect of
the town was most pitiful; the streets were solitary, and instead of the
hum of voices one heard only the whirr of shot and the rush and
explosion of shells.

On the 9th of June, the garrison was aroused by the blowing-up of one of
the Spanish magazines. The effect was that of a continual roll of fire,
like repeated volleys of musketry, which led the besieged to conjecture
that the accident had befallen their repository for fixed ammunition and
live shells. Their drums immediately beat to arms; and the entire force,
numbering thirteen battalions of infantry, besides cavalry, paraded in
front of the camp. It was thought that the enemy by this disaster must
have suffered severely in men as well as munitions.

The British batteries, though constantly repaired, were much damaged by
the incessant fire; and the enemy’s shot frequently drove through seven
solid feet of sandbag-work. As an additional protection, strong wooden
caissons were constructed; filled in compactly with clay, and covered in
front and on the top with junk cut in lengths for the purpose. These
proved very effectual. The bombardment was not wholly without profit to
the besieged; for it directed their attention to the weak points of
their fortifications, which were immediately strengthened, until they
were rendered virtually impregnable.

       *       *       *       *       *

The monotony of the siege--and all soldiers agree that a siege, with its
daily round of duties, and its continuous roar of cannon, becomes in
time distressingly wearisome from its lack of variety--was interrupted
on the 7th July by another lively episode of British seamanship. At
early morn the Spaniards at Cabrita Point were observed signalling that
an enemy was in sight; and when the mists dispersed, the English
themselves could see a vessel becalmed at a considerable distance, but
rowing, with the current, towards the beleaguered Rock. Fourteen
gunboats had put out from Algesiras to cut her off; whereupon Captain
Curtis, of the _Brilliant_ man-of-war, ordered Sir Charles Knowles, with
three barges, to endeavour to get alongside and receive any despatches
she might have on board, while he himself towed out a couple of praams
to cover and protect her. Sir Charles’s errand was soon accomplished,
and he returned with letters for the governor. By this time the vessel,
an English sloop-of-war, was within a league and a half of the garrison,
but the headmost Spanish gunboat had got up within range, and hurled at
her a torrent of round and grape shot, which was followed by rapid
discharges from her consorts. The _Helma_, Captain Roberts, carried only
fourteen small guns; but her crew handled them gallantly, and poured in
volleys of fire from the quarter-deck. So unequal a contest, it was
thought, could have but one, and that a disastrous, issue; the English
sloop was lying becalmed, a league from the Rock, with fourteen
gunboats, well-manned, and each mounted with a twenty-six pounder,
crashing into her timbers repeated avalanches of grape shot and round
shot. Captain Roberts, however, showed no signs of yielding, and
maintained a steady and well-directed, if not a heavy fire. Had the calm
lasted, he would probably have sunk rather than have surrendered; but
happily a westerly breeze sprung up, and, rippling across the waves,
soon filled his canvas, and carried him and his gallant crew into
safety. The loss of the _Helma_, notwithstanding the tremendous fire to
which she had been exposed, was only one man killed and two men wounded,
but her upper rigging and sails were much torn by the shot. Had the
gunboats been well handled, it is difficult to believe that she could
have escaped; but the inferior gunnery of the Spaniards was proved on
many occasions during the war.

The bombardment for some weeks had gradually slackened, and by this time
was reduced to a discharge of three shells in twenty-four hours; which
the English soldiers, from an idea that the Spaniards intended by the
number some allusion to the Trinity, with much more profanity than
humour named _Father_, _Son_, and _Holy Ghost_. Captain Drinkwater
gravely observes that probably the Spaniards _might_ entertain a bigoted
respect for that mystical number, and, remembering the heretical
condition of the English, might apprehend some efficacy from it in the
great work of “converting the garrison to the Catholic faith;” an
attempt at jocosity not much more successful than that of the soldiers!
Uncle Toby, in Sterne’s great fiction, tells us that “our army swore
terribly in Flanders.” There seems good reason to believe that they
swore terribly and acted vilely in Gibraltar. A wide chasm separates the
British soldiers of to-day from the British soldiers of yesterday. They
were then recruited from the lowest classes, the scum and refuse of
society, the outpourings of our jails, and it was with difficulty that
even a terribly rigid discipline kept them in order. They were ill-fed,
ill-paid, ill-treated; and their moral character was of the very lowest.
But to-day the soldier is thoughtfully cared for, not only as regards
his material but his moral and intellectual wants. Hence the ranks of
our army now include a large proportion of respectable young men, who
are aware that good conduct will place great prizes within their reach.
The only bonds between them and their predecessors are those of loyalty
and courage. The soldiers of Napier who stormed Magdala are as eminent
for their courage and faithfulness as were those of Elliot who defended
Gibraltar. In these virtues they could not surpass their predecessors;
but in all other respects they are unquestionably above them.

An incident occurred on the 27th which is worth recording. During an
attack made by the gun and mortar boats, a shell burst within the
hospital and killed an artillerist. Some time before, this man, a very
gallant fellow, had broken his thigh; his active spirit was ill able to
endure the confinement his case rendered necessary, and he tottered
abroad in order to enjoy the fresh air in the hospital court.
Unfortunately, in one of his lively moods he fell, and was compelled to
take to his bed again. He was lying there when a shell from the mortar
boats crashed into the ward, and rebounding, lodged upon him. The
invalids and convalescents in the same room contrived, by vigorous
exertions, to crawl out on hands and knees, while the fuse was burning;
but the unfortunate artillerist was kept down by the weight of the
shell, which after some seconds exploded, tore off both his legs, and
scorched him piteously. Strange to say, he survived the shock, and was
sensible up to the moment that death relieved him from his agony. His
last words were a regret that he had not died on the batteries, “with
his face to the foe,” as all true soldiers wish.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days later a shell wounded a private of the 73rd; that is, he was
knocked down by the wind of it; and the shell, instantly bursting,
killed a soldier standing close by, and mangled most terribly the hero
of our anecdote. His head was fractured, his left arm broken in two
places, one of his legs shattered, the skin and muscles of part of his
right hand torn off, the middle finger crushed, and his whole body most
severely bruised. In a word, the man was reduced to a bleeding and
mutilated mass of flesh, and his recovery seemed hopeless. The surgeons
who took charge of him were at a loss to which injury they should first
give their attention. That evening, however, he was trepanned; a few
days afterwards his leg was amputated. All his wounds and fractures were
carefully dressed, and, thanks, it may be supposed, to a wonderfully
robust constitution, as well as to the skill of his medical attendants,
his cure was completely effected. His name, adds the historian, is
Donald Ross; and he long continued to enjoy His Majesty’s bounty in the
shape of a pension of ninepence a day. “Ninepence a day,” however, seems
but poor payment for a trepanned skull, an amputated leg, and a
shattered right hand!

       *       *       *       *       *

The enemy, by this time, had completed the construction of an advanced
range of batteries, which, in spite of the continual fire of the
garrison, assumed a threatening aspect. They rolled a storm of shot and
shell upon the British works, doing serious execution; and the strength
and energies of the defenders were severely taxed. A battery named St.
Carlos was especially annoying, from its position, and the heavy
ordnance with which it was mounted. Acting on information which he
obtained from two deserters, General Elliot determined on an attempt to
destroy it. He formed his plans with the secrecy and deliberation
characteristic of the man, and communicated them to no one until the
hour fixed for their execution. On the evening of the 26th of November,
as the gates were shut after first gun-fire, he assembled on the
Redsands, now called the Alameda, a detachment consisting of a couple of
regiments, the grenadiers and light infantry from the other regiments,
one hundred artillery, and two hundred workmen (or sappers and miners,
as we now call them),--in all, about 2074 men, with 99 officers, and 147
non-commissioned officers. Each private carried thirty-six rounds of
ammunition, and “a good flint in his piece, with another in his pocket.”
In those days rifled guns, Sniders, and Martini-Henrys had not been
dreamed of; and the British musket was a cumbrous weapon, in which the
charge was ignited by a spark from a flint.

The officers having received their instructions, the whole force, with
one hundred sailors from the ships in the Bay, assembled under the
command of Brigadier Ross, and being divided into three columns, armed
with fire-fagots and other implements, advanced, under cover of the
darkness, against the enemy’s batteries. In the deepest silence they
marched under the dark shadow of the Rock; but, in spite of all their
precautions, the right column was seen and challenged by the Spanish
sentinels, who instantly fired. The officer in command, forming his
attacking corps, dashed forward at a brisk pace for the extremity of the
parallel, which he entered without opposition, and began to dismantle.
Part of Hardenberg’s regiment in the darkness mistook their way, and
found themselves, before they discovered their error, in front of the
terrible St. Carlos battery. Satisfied with the object before them, they
rushed at it, cheering, mounted the parapet, and flung themselves into
the middle of the works. There was no resource for the Spaniards, in
the presence of men so determined, but to retreat; which they did,
without loss of time. The central and left columns were equally
successful; for Elliot’s warriors were men of a very resolute temper,
and having made up their minds to carry the Spanish batteries, what
could the Spaniards do but let them have their way! The British
commanders then reformed their ranks, while the pioneers and
artillerymen proceeded to do _their_ duty.

The batteries were soon prepared for the operation of the fire-fagots,
and these being ignited, the flames spread rapidly in every direction.
The whole line of works soon presented one vast mass of fire and lurid
smoke, which threw its glare over the Rock, was reflected in the waters
of the Bay, and revealed every object in the vicinity.

Their task thus successfully accomplished, the British soldiers prepared
to regain their own lines. Such had been their dash and courage that the
Spaniards, though at a short distance they had one hundred and
thirty-five guns mounted, seemed stricken with a panic, and made no
effort to impede their operations. Thus, in a single hour the British
were able to reduce to ruins the labours of many weeks. The event
“challenges greater admiration,” says Drinkwater, “when we reflect that
the batteries were distant near three-quarters of a mile from the
garrison, and only within a few hundred yards of a besieging enemy’s
lines.” There can be no doubt that the achievement was a brilliant one;
the _coup de main_ was well conceived, and well executed, with but a
trifling loss of life. Only five men were killed; the wounded and
missing did not exceed twenty-five. Altogether, it served to show the
Spaniards of what sort of stuff the British soldier was made.



The blow so suddenly and effectually levelled at the Spaniards seems for
a time to have paralyzed their energies. But about the beginning of
December they recovered themselves to some extent, and the besieged
could see a large body of their men busily engaged in making fascines,
with a view to the reconstruction of their batteries. It was also
ascertained that the allied Governments of France and Spain had
determined upon concentrating in front of Gibraltar a force which should
render resistance impossible; that several French regiments were to be
despatched to the assistance of the besieging army; and the conduct of
the operations entrusted to the Duke of Crillon, who had recently gained
a high reputation by his conquest of Minorca.

Meantime, General Elliot and his officers maintained their composure.
Every precaution was taken against surprise; and the weak points of the
fortifications, as indicated by the enemy’s fire, were assiduously

But before resuming our narrative of the siege, we must pause to record
an example of that generous courtesy which sometimes relieves the
horrors of war. Among the Spanish officers taken prisoner was one Baron
von Helmstadt, an ensign in the Walloon Guards. He was dangerously
wounded in the knee, and when the English surgeons informed him that
amputation was necessary, he resolutely refused to submit to it. The
operation, he said, was seldom successful in Spain; and for himself, he
was then engaged to be married to a lady, and would rather risk his life
than present himself before his betrothed in a mutilated condition.
Apprised of this dangerous effusion of a false sentiment, General Elliot
visited the baron, and used every argument to dissuade him from adhering
to so rash a determination. His lady-love, said the general, very
sensibly, would not esteem him the less for having received an
honourable wound in the service of his country. As to the operation
being fatal, he could assure him that the contrary was the case; he
knew that the English surgeons were almost always successful; and, for
his better assurance, he introduced into his chamber several “mutilated
convalescents.” The governor’s generous attention had so great an
influence on the baron, that he consented to the operation, which was
performed with great skill, and resulted most favourably. As the baron’s
lady-love would doubtless have considered a lover with one leg better
than no lover at all, we are convinced she would often have blessed
General Elliot for his chivalrous interposition, but that,
unfortunately, the baron afterwards died of some internal disease.

The New-Year’s Day of 1782, says our historian, was remarkable for an
action of gallantry which is worthy of being rescued from oblivion. An
officer of artillery at one of the batteries observing a shell whizzing
its way towards his post, got behind a traverse for protection. This he
had scarcely done before the shell fell into the traverse, and instantly
entangled him in the rubbish. A soldier named Martin, seeing his
distress, bravely risked his own life to save his officer, and ran to
extricate him. His efforts proving useless, he called for assistance;
and another soldier joining him, they succeeded in

[Illustration: MAP OF GIBRALTAR


(_From an Old Engraving_.)]

extricating their officer. Almost at the same moment the shell burst,
and levelled the traverse to the ground. For this courageous action,
Martin was deservedly rewarded and promoted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The defenders of the Rock now watched with intense interest the
preparations of the enemy, in whose lines the greatest activity was
visible. They could note the almost daily arrival of fresh troops, until
the whole shore of the Bay, from Carteia to the heights of San Roque,
was covered with tents. Thousands of workmen, under cover of night,
pushed the approaches nearer and nearer to the beleaguered fortress.
Heavy guns bristled from every point of vantage, and hour after hour
poured out their fell contents of shot and shell. It was obvious, too,
that the huge men-of-war at Algesiras were being equipped as batteries
of a new and formidable character. The eagerness of the besiegers was
stimulated by the arrival in their camp of two French princes of the
blood, the Count of Artois and the Duke of Bourbon; the enemies of Great
Britain everywhere turned their attention towards the great fortress
which, as they confidently believed, would soon cease to be occupied by
her soldiers.

It may not be uninteresting if we borrow from Captain Drinkwater’s pages
a record of the operations of a few days, with the view of giving the
reader some idea of the incidents which characterize the course of a
great siege:--

The 1st of March, he says, a flag of truce went to the enemy, in answer
to one from them some days before. The Spanish officer who received the
packet informed us that Fort St. Philip, in Minorca, had surrendered on
the 5th of February. The succeeding day, a “carcass” set fire to the
enemy’s 13-gun battery, which continued blazing for two hours. On their
attempting to extinguish the fire, we plied them so briskly, that
several were killed and most of them driven from their work; but their
usual gallantry at last prevailed. This is an honourable tribute to an
enemy who fought with considerable courage and perseverance.

At night they raised a _place d’armes_ at the western extremity of their
13-gun battery; these defensive works demonstrating that they were
determined to provide as much as possible against another sortie. The
following night they repaired the damage done by the fire. The
carpenters of the navy, on the 4th, laid the keel of one of the new
gunboats. The 6th, six rows of tents, ten in each row, were pitched in
the rear of the second line of the enemy’s camp, near the horse-barrack.
A large party was also employed in making a road from the beach to the
barrack, and others were engaged in landing shells and different
ordnance. These, with other appearances, showed that the enemy were in
earnest in their prosecution of the siege.

On the other hand, General Elliot unweariedly engaged the garrison in
repairing, and putting in the best order of defence, the upper batteries
and other works which had suffered from the storm of fire directed
against them.

On the 8th, the enemy raised one face of the eastern redoubt several
fascines in height. The day following, Lieutenant Cuppage, of the Royal
Artillery, was dangerously wounded on the Royal battery, from a splinter
of a small shell, which burst immediately after being discharged from
the rock gun above and in the rear of the Royal battery; this was the
second accident of the same nature. On the 11th a frigate and xebec
passed to the west, with six topsail vessels, supposed to be part of the
late Minorca garrison. On the night of the 13th the enemy traced out a
work within the western _place d’armes_ of the St. Carlos Battery,
apparently with an intention of extending the epaulement. The firing on
both sides was now considerably increased; that from the enemy amounted
to about five hundred rounds in the twenty-four hours.

In the course of the 25th a shot drove through the embrasures of one of
the British batteries, took off the legs of two men, one leg of another,
and wounded a fourth man in both legs; so that “four men had seven legs
taken off and wounded by one shot.” The boy who was usually posted on
the works where a large party was employed, to inform the men when the
enemy were directing their guns towards them, had been chiding them for
their disregard of his warnings, and had just turned his head towards
the hostile lines, when he observed this shot on its dreadful path, and
called to them to beware. Unfortunately, his caution was too late; the
shot entered the embrasure, with the fatal result we have described. It
is strange that this boy should have been so keen-sighted as to
distinguish the enemy’s shot almost immediately after it quitted the
gun. But another boy in the garrison possessed an equal, if not a
superior sharpness of vision.

Passing on to the 11th of April, we find that on that day the garrison
obtained information as to the exact nature of the preparations which
were being made for conquering their stubborn resistance. They learned
that the Duke of Crillon was in command, with twenty thousand French and
Spanish troops, in addition to those who had previously formed the
besieging force; that the besieging operations were directed by Monsieur
d’Arçon, an eminent French engineer; and that Admiral Don Buonaventura
Moreno was prepared to support the attack with ten men-of-war, besides
gunboats, mortar boats, floating batteries, and other vessels. Next day
the enemy’s cannonade was of a peculiar character; from six in the
morning until sunset a single gun or mortar was discharged every two or
three minutes. Our British soldiers remarked that, as the day was the
anniversary of the bombardment, the Spaniards were probably keeping it
with prayer and fasting, and the minuteguns were intended to express
their sorrow at the expenditure during the past twelvemonth of so many
barrels of powder and rounds of cartridges without any result!

On the 28th of May the enemy sent in a flag of truce. Before the object
of it was known, the governor remarked to the officers near him that he
supposed the duke had arrived, and had sent to summon the garrison to
surrender. His reply, he said, would be brief, “No--no;” and he hoped
his officers would support him. The summons, however, was not made, and
the laconic answer, therefore, was not given. But it is due to the Duke
of Crillon to record his courtesy. He wrote to General Elliot to
acquaint him with the arrival of the French prince, and in their name to
express their high estimation of his courage and character. The letter
was accompanied by a present of fresh fruits and vegetables, with ice,
game, and other luxuries for the use of his staff. He knew, said the
duke, that the governor lived wholly upon vegetables, and if informed of
the description he preferred, he would furnish a daily supply. The
governor replied in suitable terms; but while accepting the Spanish
commander’s gifts, begged of him to send no more, as he made it a point
of honour to share with the meanest of his fellow-soldiers both want and

In planning a combined attack by land and sea upon the Rock, the
besiegers felt it was necessary to guard against the destruction of the
naval force by the batteries of the fortress before it could get near
enough to render any service. But how was the fire of the English guns
to be silenced? It occurred to M. d’Arçon that what was wanted was a
number of fireproof batteries, which could take up and maintain a
position in the Bay, regardless of the cannonade delivered against them
by the garrison. In the construction of these floating castles M.
d’Arçon exhausted all his ingenuity. There were ten of them, each armed
with fifteen heavy guns, and their structure was as follows:--On the
larboard side they were six or seven feet thick, made of green timber,
bolted and cased with cork, iron, and raw hides. Inside they were lined
with a bed of wet sand, and in case they should nevertheless take fire,
currents of water were poured through them by a system of pumps and
channels, so that, should any red-hot shot pierce the vessel and open up
any one of the ducts, the water would pour forth instantly and
extinguish the flames. As an additional protection, each tower was
covered with a slanting bomb-proof roof, capable of being raised or
lowered at pleasure, by means of machinery, from which, it was
calculated, the balls would glide harmlessly into the sea. In fact, the
devices for the protection of the besiegers seem to have been more
numerous and more skilful than those for the attack of the besieged. We
must add that these ponderous floating batteries were masted and rigged,
so as to sail like frigates.

It must not be thought that General Elliot had made no provision against
the coming storm. He was a man fertile in expedients, and it would
appear that his engineer-officers were as able as they were zealous; so
that at all the exposed points new works of great strength were thrown
up, and the fortifications were everywhere repaired and put in order. A
fleet of gunboats was got ready in the Bay; a body of Corsicans, under
the leadership of a nephew of the celebrated Paoli, had arrived to offer
their services; and some vessels loaded with ammunition had run the
blockade, and refilled the magazines of the fortress. The garrison
reposed the most absolute confidence in their commander, and after so
protracted a siege had come to think of themselves as invincible. Nor
was their confidence lessened by the news which reached them of Admiral
Rodney’s great victory over a French fleet in the West Indies. For some
time the governor had looked on very calmly at the new works raised by
the Spaniards across the isthmus and along the shore, but as they had
been pushed forward to an inconvenient position, he thought the moment
had come for administering


(_From on Old Engraving._)

_Page 70._

a stern rebuke. He therefore opened upon them a cannonade of red-hot
shot, which in a few hours involved the greater portion in names.

This contemptuous demonstration so annoyed the Duke of Crillon, that,
though his lines were incomplete, he ordered a general bombardment. It
began with a volley of about sixty shells from the mortar boats; then
all his artillery, numbering one hundred and seventy pieces of heavy
calibre, joined in the _feu d’enfer_; while nine line-of-battle ships
hurled their broadsides as they sailed along the sea-front. The attack
was repeated on the following day, in the hope apparently of terrifying
the garrison by revealing the formidable nature of the preparations made
for their destruction. While the air echoed with the hurtling missiles,
the astonished soldiers saw through the occasional gaps in the
smoke-clouds a vast press of sail coming up from the westward; it proved
to be the combined fleets of France and Spain. Such an accumulation of
force, by land and sea, could not fail to surprise, though it did not
alarm, Elliot and his veterans. The armada, beneath which, to use the
expression of an old poet, “the waters groaned,” consisted of 47 sail of
the line, and 10 battering-ships, regarded as impregnable and
invincible, carrying 212 guns, besides frigates, xebecs, bomb-ketches,
cutters, gun and mortar boats, and smaller craft for disembarking men.
On the land-side the batteries and works were of the most formidable
character, mounting 200 pieces of heavy ordnance, and protected by an
army of nearly 40,000 men, under the command of a general of experience
and ability, and animated by the presence of two princes of the royal
blood of France, with other eminent personages, and many of the Spanish
grandees. No such naval and military combination had been attempted in
Europe since the days of the Armada; and it was not unnatural that the
Spaniards should anticipate from it a decisive triumph. They seem,
however, to have put their faith more particularly in the
battering-ships; and so great an enthusiasm was excited, that to hint at
their possible failure was considered a mark of treason.

General Elliot was in nowise shaken from his usual calmness by this
tremendous display of force. His garrison at this time (September 1782)
numbered about 7500 men, of whom 400 were in hospital. These he
distributed so as to guard most efficiently the points at which the
enemy’s attack would probably be delivered. The fortifications were
carefully examined, and additional works erected wherever they could be
of service. Though the Spaniards poured on the garrison an incessant
storm of shot and shell, the governor, in order to husband his
resources, permitted but little firing in return, except when it was
necessary to silence or destroy some particular battery. The troops
under his command were few in number, it is true, but they were
veterans, inured to war, who had been long accustomed to the effects of
artillery, and gradually prepared to meet the supreme ordeal that now
awaited them. His subordinates were officers of approved courage,
intelligence, and discretion; eminent “for all the accomplishments of
their profession,” and enjoying the entire confidence of the men under
their orders. And the spirits of all were animated by the ease with
which former attacks had been defeated, as well as by the success
attending some recent experiments of firing red-hot shot, which, on this
occasion, would enable them, they hoped, “to bring their labours to a
period, and relieve them from the tedious cruelty of another vexatious

In critical circumstances, men, the sagest and coolest, are apt to be
influenced by trivial incidents, which they convert into good or evil
omens; and such is especially the case when life and liberty are the
stakes for which they are about to contend. As the British soldiers,
from the summit of their famous Rock, looked out upon the crowd of masts
which gathered in the Bay, it was generally reported among them that
their arrival was occasioned by the pressure of a British fleet in hot
pursuit. Suddenly a loud cheer was raised, and all exclaimed that the
British admiral was certainly in their rear, as a flag for a fleet in
sight was waving, they said, from the Signal-post. Hope beamed radiant
on every countenance; but a revulsion succeeded when the signal suddenly
disappeared. The guard at the signal-station afterwards informed them
that the supposed flag was really _an eagle_, which, after several
evolutions, had perched for a few minutes on the westernmost pole, and
then spread its broad wings to the eastward. Though less superstitious,
says the historian gravely, than the ancient Romans, many could not help
accepting it as a favourable omen; and the prognostication, happily, was
fully justified by the events of the succeeding day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grand attack took place on the 13th of September. Shortly after
nine in the morning, the ten battering-ships took up their several
positions in admirable order: the admiral, in a two-decker, dropping
anchor about nine hundred yards off the King’s Bastion, and the others
successively falling into their places to the right and left of the
flag-ships; the most distant being about 1100 or 1200 yards from the
garrison. General Elliot reserved his fire until the first ship
anchored, and then began a well-directed cannonade. The enemy occupied
about ten minutes in their manœuvres; after which they returned our
fire, and the stress of battle waxed fast and furious. The air was
darkened by the clouds of smoke which rose from shore and sea, while the
rattle of shot and the whirr of shells seemed to silence the very
echoes. Four hundred pieces of the heaviest artillery were discharging
their murderous missiles simultaneously, until one might have thought
that all the thunders of heaven were let loose.

After a few hours’ cannonade, our soldiers found that the
battering-ships were fully as formidable as they had been represented.
“Our heaviest shells,” says Drinkwater, “often rebounded from their
tops, whilst the 32-pound shot seemed incapable of making any visible
impression upon their hulls. Frequently we flattered ourselves they were
on fire; but no sooner did any smoke appear, than, with admirable
intrepidity, men were observed applying water, from their engines
within, to those places whence the smoke issued. These circumstances,
with the prodigious cannonade which they maintained, gave us reason to
imagine that the attack would not be so soon decided as, from our
success against their land-batteries, we had fondly expected. Even the
artillery themselves, at this period, had their doubts of the effect of
the red-hot shot, which began to be used about twelve, but were not
general till between one and two o’clock.” The ordnance portable
furnaces for heating shot being too few to supply the demands of the
artillery when the battle reached its culmination, huge fires of wood
were kindled in the corners of the nearest buildings, in which the shot
were speedily prepared for use. Our soldiers jocularly termed these
supplies “roasted potatoes.”

At first the enemy’s cannon were too much elevated, but about noon they
obtained the range, and their firing was powerful, and skilfully
directed. The casualties then became numerous, particularly on those
batteries north of the King’s Bastion, which


(_From a Drawing by Lieutenant Sandby of the 12th Regiment._)

_Page 84._

were exposed to a cross-fire from the Spanish land-fortifications. Our
gunners, however, disregarded this attack, and concentrated all their
efforts on the battering-ships, the steady opposition which they offered
inciting the British to a boundless resentment. The fire of the garrison
increased, if that were possible, in intensity. Every man served the
guns as if he were aiming at some personal enemy. From all quarters
rained incessant showers of hot balls, carcasses, and shells of every
description; and as the masts of several of the ships went by the board,
and the rigging of all hung in shreds and tatters, the hopes of the
garrison began to revive.

For some hours, however, it was difficult to say whether the attack or
the defence would prevail. The wonderful construction of the floating
batteries apparently defied the heaviest ordnance that the garrison
could bring to bear upon them. In the afternoon, however, a considerable
change was apparent, and the besieged observed with delight that the
flag-ship and the admiral’s second were on fire, and that on board
several of the vessels an evident confusion prevailed. Their cannonade
slackened rapidly towards the evening; and about seven or eight o’clock
it almost ceased. Various signals were thrown up from the suffering
ships, and rockets were discharged to inform their friends of their
distressed condition.

As night came on, says Botta, the flames defied the most anxious efforts
of the Spaniards to extinguish them; and the disorder which reigned on
board the burning batteries soon communicated itself to the whole line.
To the diminished fire of the enemy the garrison returned a cannonade
which seemed actually to increase in rapidity and power. It was
maintained throughout the night. At one in the morning the two ships
already named were in flames. The others speedily caught fire, either
from the effects of the red-hot balls, or, as the Spaniards pretended,
because they set them on fire, when they had lost all hope of saving
them. The light and glow of this tremendous conflagration illuminated
the entire Bay, as well as the sombre Rock, and assisted the British
gunners to point their artillery with the utmost precision. The trouble
and despair of the enemy now reached a climax. The Spaniards hastened to
send off all their boats, which surrounded the floating batteries, in
order to save their crews; an operation accomplished with much coolness
and courage, in spite of the peril attending it. For not only was it
necessary to brave the British fire, but to incur the greatest risk in
approaching the burning vessels. Never, perhaps, says a writer, did a
more horrible or deplorable spectacle present itself to the eyes of men.
The deep darkness that shrouded the distant earth and sea, vividly
contrasted with the columns of flame that rose upwards from the blazing
wrecks; and the shrieks of the victims were heard even above the roar of
the incessant cannonade.

Brigadier Curtis, who, with his brigade, was encamped at Europa, finding
that the moment had come for bringing into operation his little flotilla
of twelve gunboats, each of which carried an 18 or 24-pounder in its
bow, drew them up in such a manner as to take the floating batteries in
flank. This cross-fire compelled the relieving boats to retire. As
morning dawned, Curtis pushed forward, and captured a couple of launches
loaded with men. These boats attempted to escape, but surrendered after
a shot had killed and wounded several on board. The horror of the scene
was now almost too great to witness. The daylight showed a piteous
spectacle: in the midst of the flames appeared the unhappy Spaniards,
who with loud shrieks implored compassion, or flung themselves into the
waves. Some, on the point of drowning, clung with frenzied grasp to the
sides of the burning ships, or to any floating spar which came within
their reach, while, in the depth of their despair, they implored the
compassion and succour of the victors.

Moved by a sight so painful, the English, says Botta, listened to
humanity alone, and ceasing their fire, occupied themselves solely with
the rescue of their enemies; a proceeding the more generous on their
part, as it exposed them to the most imminent hazard. Curtis, in
particular, covered himself with glory, and freely risked his own life
to save that of his fellow-creatures. He led his boats up to the
burning, smoking hulks, to assist the poor wretches on the point of
falling victims to the fire or the waves. Climbing on board the
battering-ships, with his own hands he helped down the Spaniards, who
loaded him with words of gratitude. While he and his men were thus
generously engaged, the flames reached the magazine of one of the
battering-ships to the northward, and about five o’clock it blew up,
with a crash which seemed to shake the very Rock. A quarter of an hour
later, another, in the centre of the line, met with a similar fate. The
burning wreck of the latter was hurled in every direction, and involved
the British gunboats in serious danger; one was sunk, but happily the
crew were saved. A hole was forced through the bottom of the brigadier’s
boat, his coxswain killed, the strokesman wounded, and for some time the
crew were enveloped in a cloud of smoke. After this incident the
brigadier deemed it prudent to retire under cover of the Rock, to avoid
the peril arising from further explosions. On his return, however, he
approached two more of the ships, and finally landed nine officers, two
priests, and three hundred and thirty-four private soldiers and seamen,
all Spaniards,--who, with one officer and eleven Frenchmen who had
“floated in” the preceding evening, brought up the total number saved to
three hundred and fifty-seven. Many of these, who were severely, and
some even dreadfully wounded, were immediately removed to the hospital,
and attended with the utmost carefulness.

Notwithstanding all the heroic efforts of Curtis and his men, on board
the burning ships many victims were left to perish. “The scene at this
time was as affecting as during the previous hostilities it had been
terrible and tremendous. Men crying from amidst the flames for pity and
assistance; others, on board those ships where the fire had made little
progress, imploring relief with the most expressive gestures and signs
of despair; whilst several, equally exposed to the dangers of the
opposite element, trusted themselves, on various parts of the wreck, to
the chance of paddling ashore.”

A Spanish felucca, probably with the view of taking on board these
unfortunates, approached from the shore; but the garrison suspecting her
of a design to set on fire one of the comparatively uninjured
battering-ships, by a brisk cannonade compelled her to retreat. Of the
six ships still in flames, three blew up before eleven o’clock; the
other three burned down to the water’s edge, the magazines having been
wetted by the enemy before they abandoned them. On one of the latter
waved the admiral’s flag; it perished with the ship. The besieged hoped
to secure the remaining two batteries as trophies of their victory; but
one of them suddenly burst out into flames, and blew up with a
tremendous crash; and as it was found impracticable to preserve the
other, it was destroyed in the afternoon. Such was the fate of the
“floating castles” which had been constructed with so much labour, and
from which so different a result had been anticipated.

It is interesting to remember that during the heat of the struggle
General Elliot’s post was the King’s Bastion; and it is a curious
circumstance, not unworthy of record, that when General Boyd, some years
previously, had laid the first stone, with the usual ceremonies, he
observed,--“This is the first stone of a work which I name the ‘King’s
Bastion.’ May it be as gallantly defended as I know it will be ably
executed; and may I live to see it resist the united efforts of France
and Spain.”

Of the courage, patience, and perseverance displayed by the garrison
during this arduous struggle, as of the skill and energy of the
artillerists, it is impossible to speak in terms of too high praise; and
the name of “Gibraltar” is rightly blazoned as a title to honour on the
flags of the regiments who served in the famous siege.

       *       *       *       *       *

The enemy’s principal objects of attack are recorded to have been the
King’s Bastion, and the line of fortifications extending to the north of
the Orange Bastion. To silence the former important post, they employed
their largest ships, while the others endeavoured to effect a breach in
the curtain extending to Montague’s Bastion. Had they succeeded in this
attempt, their grenadiers, it is said, were to have stormed the garrison
under cover of the combined fleets. The prisoners inveighed against
their officers for having described the floating batteries as
invulnerable, and promised that ten sail of the line should support
them, as well as all the gun and mortar boats. They had been led to
believe that the garrison would not be able to discharge many rounds of
hot balls; their astonishment, therefore, was very great, when they
found them discharged with as much ease and regularity as cold shot. The
loss sustained by the Spaniards was never officially made known; but a
moderate estimate puts it at 2000 killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.
On the other hand, the casualties of the garrison were very few, and it
is surprising that so tremendous a cannonade should have entailed so
small a loss of life. The number of the killed was sixteen only;
eighteen officers, sergeants, and rank and file were wounded. The damage
done to the fortifications was equally inconsiderable, and, by the
activity of the artillery, the whole of the sea-line, before night on
the 14th, was repaired and put in complete order.

While the garrison could bring to bear no more than 80 cannon, 7
mortars, and 9 howitzers, the enemy employed no fewer than 328 pieces of
heavy ordnance. The English gunners expended upwards of 8300 rounds,
more than half of which were hot shot, and 716 barrels of powder. Of the
quantity of ammunition wasted by the enemy, we possess no particulars.
The following is given by Drinkwater as a correct list of those
unfortunate battering-ships which so fatally belied the hopes of their

     The _Pastora:_ 21 guns in use, 10 in reserve, 760
     men,--Rear-Admiral Buonaventura Moreno.

     The _Tailla Piedra:_ 21 guns in use, 10 in reserve, 760
     men,--Prince of Nassau-Sieghen.

     The _Paula Prima:_ 21 guns in use, 10 in reserve, 760 men,--Don
     Gayetana Langara.

     _El Rosario:_ 19 guns in use, 10 in reserve, 700 men,--Don
     Francisco Xavier Munos.

     The _San Christoval:_ 18 guns in use, 10 in reserve 650 men,--Don
     Frederico Gravino.

     The _Principe Carlos:_ 11 guns in use, 4 in reserve, 400 men,--Don
     Antonio Basurta.

     The _San Juan:_ 9 guns in use, 4 in reserve, 340 men,--Don Joseph

     The _Paula Secunda:_ 9 guns in use, 4 in reserve, 340 men,--Don
     Pablo de Cosa.

     The _Santa Anna:_ 7 guns in use, 4 in reserve, 300 men,--Don Joseph

     _Los Dolores:_ 6 guns in use, 4 in reserve, 250 men,--Don Pedro

In all, ten ships (five two-deckers, and five one-decker), with 142 guns
in use, 70 in reserve, and 5260 men.

A movement took place among the enemy, on the afternoon of the 14th,
which gave rise to apprehensions that the attack was to be renewed. The
batteries, therefore, were kept fully manned, and the shot-heating
furnaces ready lighted, in case that an attempt should be made to storm
the fortress. It afterwards transpired that such a project had been
spoken of, but put aside by the Duke of


_Page 93._

Crillon, who was of opinion that it could end only in the destruction of
both the army and the fleet.

They contented themselves, therefore, with maintaining a vigorous
cannonade from the land-works, and during the remainder of the month
they expended daily from 1000 to 2000 rounds. General Elliot, meanwhile,
having had convincing proof of the efficacy of red-hot shot, caused
kilns for heating them to be erected at various convenient points. They
were large enough to heat about one hundred balls in an hour and a
quarter; and were a great improvement on the furnaces and grates used
for the same purpose on the memorable 13th of September.

During the following days a westerly wind prevailed, and numerous dead
bodies were thrown ashore, as also many articles of more or less value
which had floated about the Bay after the destruction of the
battering-ships. Among these were large wax tapers, such as are used on
the Roman Catholic altars; cases of salt provisions; and ammunition
boxes, each containing ten rounds of powder in linen cartridges. From
the captured wrecks which did not blow up were obtained considerable
pieces of cedar and mahogany; and “the governor,” it is recorded, “had a
handsome set of tables made for the Convent (the holes in the cedar,
where the fire had penetrated, being filled up with sound wood, cut in
various figures, forming a beautiful contrast with the burned part),
which will serve as a standing monument of the transactions of that
glorious day.”



While the veterans under Elliot were thus nobly maintaining the honour
of the English flag on the beleaguered Rock, it must not be supposed
that England was unmindful of them, or ignorant of the danger in which
they were involved. The British Government hastened their preparations
for the relief of the garrison, and assembled as speedily as possible a
powerful fleet, under Admiral Lord Howe,--afterwards the hero of the 1st
of June,--to escort a large convoy containing fresh troops and
provisions. When off the Portuguese coast, Lord Howe received
information of Elliot’s gallant repulse of the combined French and
Spanish attack, and proceeded at once to enter the Gibraltar Strait. The
enemy, whose only hope of success lay in reducing the place by famine,
endeavoured to prevent this relief from reaching the garrison; and, for
this purpose, assembled a powerful fleet in the Bay. On the night of the
10th of October, however, a violent storm arose, which greatly
distressed the French and Spanish vessels. At daybreak, the garrison
discovered that a Spanish two-decker had been driven close in-shore. She
made every effort to stand out into the Bay, but in vain: grounding
under the guns of the garrison, she was compelled to strike her flag.
The British immediately took possession of her, and she proved to be the
_San Miguel_, of 72 guns, commanded by Don Juan Moreno.

This was not the only disaster experienced by the hostile fleet. Another
ship had gone ashore near the great magazine. A French ship of the line
had lost foremast and bowsprit; and three or four others had driven
nearly within range of the guns of the Rock. While thus disordered, Lord
Howe’s fleet could be seen approaching in order of battle, together with
the convoy under its protection; but this, with the exception of three
or four transports, was swept by the current to the east. The Spanish
admiral, however, offered no opposition to their passage, though he had
still forty-two sail of the line, and Lord Howe had only thirty-four;
but he seemed to pluck up resolution when they began to work their way
back to Gibraltar with an easterly wind, and endeavoured to intercept
them. Lord Howe’s object was not to fight a greatly superior force, but
to get his transports into Gibraltar. By a series of skilful manœuvres,
this he accomplished, while engaging the attention of the combined fleet
for a couple of days; after which he set sail, and stood away to the
westward. Drinkwater remarks that it was no very pleasing prospect for a
British garrison to behold a British fleet retiring before the enemy.
But Lord Howe’s strategy had been perfectly successful; and it would
have been exceedingly imprudent for him in the circumstances to have
risked a decisive action. In every respect the enemy had the advantage;
and though we may feel persuaded that the result would have been
creditable to the British arms, yet the loss of life would have been
disproportionate to any advantage that could be gained.

       *       *       *       *       *

The blockade, after this event, was virtually at an end. Not one
cruiser, says Drinkwater, was now to be seen in the Strait or to the
eastward, and few vessels of force were stationed at Cabrita Point. The
enemy seemed to have abandoned all idea of recovering the Rock, either
by force or stratagem. It is true that they maintained a desultory
cannonade, but it gradually diminished, and did no execution. On the
23rd a couple of boats arrived from Portugal, bringing intelligence of
an action between the British and combined fleets, which had ended to
the advantage of the former.

“Though every appearance in their camp indicated that they had given up
all hopes of subduing the garrison by force, their parties on the
isthmus continued to be very busy, and some evenings they made additions
of traverses to their works. Heavy timber was also brought forward to
the parallel, but for what purpose we could not then imagine. Their
advance parties had likewise the audacity frequently to approach
half-way upon the causeway from Bay-side; but the artillery having
orders to scour the gardens and the neighbourhood of Bay-side with grape
from the Old Mole, their curiosity in a short time was pretty well
cooled. Toward the close of this month the enemy’s fire became more
faint and ill-directed, whilst ours was more animated and effectual. Our
engineers continued to be constantly engaged. The rebuilding of the
whole flank of the Prince of Orange’s Bastion, one hundred and twenty
feet in length, with solid masonry (which was now nearly finished), in
the face of such powerful artillery, can scarcely be paralleled in any

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 2nd of February 1783, the governor received formal despatches
from the Duke of Crillon that the preliminaries of a general peace had
been signed between Great Britain, France, and Spain. When the boats
bearing the intelligence met the British, the Spaniards rose up with
“transports of joy,” exclaiming, “We are all friends!” The garrison were
scarcely less delighted at the prospect of rest after so long and
arduous a struggle, though they felt some anxiety as to the fate of the
fortress which they had defended with such pertinacity. On the 5th the
port was declared open. Thenceforth provisions every day became more
abundant, and the soldiers were able to regale themselves with their
accustomed fare. Towards the end of the month the governor and the duke
exchanged visits. When the latter appeared within the walls of the
fortress, the British soldiery saluted him with a general cheer, whereat
his grace was exceedingly confused, until it was explained to him that
such was the British method of honouring a gallant opponent.

The garrison officers were duly introduced to the duke, who received
them with characteristic courtesy. To the artillery he said: “Gentlemen,
I would rather see you here as friends than on your batteries as
enemies; where,” he added, “you never spared me.” Proceeding to inspect
the batteries on the heights, he remarked on the formidable nature of
the lower defences, and in reference to the Old Mole Battery observed,
“that had not his judgment been overruled, he should have directed all
his efforts against that part of the garrison.” Entering the Faringdon,
now called the Windsor Battery, he was surprised at its extent, which at
that time was between 500 and 600 feet. “Such works,” he exclaimed, “are
worthy of the Romans!” After dinner, at which the generals and
brigadiers in the garrison, with their suites, were present, he passed
through the camp to Europa, each regiment turning out and giving three
cheers. “The youth and good appearance of the troops,” we are told,
“much engaged his attention.” At his departure in the evening he was
saluted with seventeen cannon. His horse started at the flash, and
almost threw him from his saddle; but he escaped without injury. In the
course of the conversation at dinner, he warmly complimented the
governor and garrison on their brilliant defence; adding that he had
exerted himself to the utmost of his abilities, and though he had not
been successful, yet he was happy in having his sovereign’s approval of
his conduct.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 23rd of April, St. George’s Day, the King’s Bastion, of which our
readers have heard so much, became the scene of an unusual and a
striking ceremony. The king having conferred upon General Elliot the
well-deserved Order of the Bath, and having intimated his pleasure that
Lieutenant-General Boyd should act as his representative in investing
him with the insignia, it was resolved that the occasion should be
celebrated with as much pomp as could be commanded. The troops being
previously assembled on the Red Sands, Sir George officially
communicated to them the unanimous approval of their heroic services
expressed by both Houses of Parliament, and then proceeded:--

“No army has ever been rewarded by higher national honours; and it is
well known how great, universal, and spontaneous were the rejoicings
throughout the kingdom upon the news of your success. These must not
only give you inexpressible pleasure, but afford matter of triumph to
your dearest friends and latest posterity. As a further proof how just
your title is to such flattering distinctions at home, rest assured,
from undoubted authority, that the nations in Europe and other parts are
struck with admiration of your gallant behaviour; even our late resolute
and determined antagonists do not scruple to bestow the commendations
due to such valour and perseverance.

“I now most warmly congratulate you on these merited and brilliant
testimonies of approbation, amidst such numerous, such exalted tokens of
applause; and forgive me, faithful companions, if I humbly crave your
acceptance of my grateful acknowledgments. I only presume to ask this
favour, as having been a constant witness of your cheerful submission to
the greatest hardships, your matchless spirit and exertions, and on all
occasions your heroic contempt of every danger.”

The soldiers then fired a grand _feu de joie_, each discharge being
heralded by a volley of twenty-one guns, and the ceremony concluded with
three such cheers as only British troops can give. Afterwards the
governor and his staff and the field-officers withdrew, and the
detachments marched into town, lining the streets from the Convent to
the King’s Bastion.

At about half-past eleven the procession began to move in the following


              Band of the 12th Regiment, playing “See the
                        Conquering Hero Comes.”


     Quarter-Master-General, and Adjutant-General, Town-Major and
               Deputy, with other Staff of the Garrison.

           First Division of Field-Officers, youngest first.

                      Band of the 58th Regiment.

   The Commissioner’s Secretary, bearing on a crimson velvet cushion
                            the Commission.

                   The Commissioner’s Aides-de-Camp.

           Lieutenant-General Boyd, the King’s Commissioner.

   The Governor’s Secretary, bearing on a crimson velvet cushion the
                  Insignia of the Order of the Bath.

               The Governor’s Aides-de-Camp as Esquires.

  General Elliot, the Knight Elect, supported by Generals de la Motte
                              and Green.

                 Aides-de-Camp to the Major-Generals.

                         Major-General Picton.

                           His Aide-de-Camp.

                 The Brigadier-Generals, eldest first.

                         Band--De la Motte’s.

           Second Division of Field-Officers, eldest first.

                      Band of the 56th Regiment.

                    The Grenadiers of the Garrison.

Such was the procession; and interesting it must have been to see those
bronzed and battle-worn heroes, who had but just been released from the
toils and anxieties of a protracted siege, assembled in recognition of
the honour paid by their sovereign to the commander whose resolution,
devotion, and military capacity had so largely conduced to bring about a
successful result.

The following particulars are borrowed from Drinkwater, whose minute
history of the siege is necessarily the authority to which all later
writers resort:--

No compliment was paid to the knight elect, but as the commissioner
passed, each regiment, with the officers, saluted. When the procession
arrived at the bastion, the general and field-officers placed themselves
on each side of a throne that had been erected for the purpose, the
artillery formed around, and the grenadiers fronting the bastion, along
the line-wall. The proper reverences being made to the vacant throne,
the commissioner desired his secretary to read the commission; which
being done, he addressed the knight elect in a short complimentary
speech, taking the ribbon at the conclusion and placing it over the
governor’s shoulder, who inclined a little for that purpose. Three
reverences were then a second time made, and each took his seat on a
crimson velvet chair on each side of the throne, the commissioner
sitting on the right hand. The governor was no sooner invested than the
band struck up “God save the King.” The grenadiers fired a volley, and a
grand discharge of one hundred and sixty pieces of cannon was fired from
the sea-line. The detachments were afterwards dismissed, and each
non-commissioned officer and private received a pound of fresh beef and
a quart of wine. The generals, with their suites, and the
field-officers, dined at the Convent. In the evening the bastion was
illuminated with coloured lamps and transparencies; and at nine o’clock
a display of fireworks took place from the north and south bastions, in
the presence of Sir George Augustus Elliot and his principal officers.

Thus, in rejoicings and ceremonial display, terminated the labours of
the veterans of Gibraltar.

Calculating from the commencement of the blockade to the cessation of
hostilities, the siege lasted three years, seven months, and twelve
days; and throughout that long period the garrison had been kept
continually on the watch, enjoying no interval of repose, exposed to the
attacks of a powerful enemy, worn with fatigue, and harassed by all the
incidents of a protracted blockade. They had sometimes failed in the
strict requirements of discipline, and acts of plunder and violence had
occasionally tarnished the lustre of their laurels; but in courage and
patience and intrepidity they had never been wanting, and their _morale_
improved as the siege advanced. The stir and tumult of the battle-field,
with its brilliant episodes of valour, its charges of cavalry, its
encounter of bayonets, its individual deeds of heroism, and its
exhibition of strategical genius, necessarily lend themselves more
readily to the description of the chronicler, and exercise a more
powerful influence on the imagination of the reader, than the monotonous
incidents of a siege. It is difficult to invest with any attraction the
daily record of garrison work; and the reader has no means of forming an
idea of its arduous character. He wearies of bastions and batteries; of
rounds of shot and shell expended; of labours the issue of which is not
apparent; of demonstrations which are seemingly all in vain. Yet it is
certain that a campaign in the open field, or a great battle like that
of Waterloo, makes less demand on the best qualities of a soldier than a
protracted siege. The long roll of victories of the British army is
emblazoned with names which will never be forgotten so long as England
retains her imperial spirit or her pride in the past, and among those
names, if loyalty and true bravery and heroic endurance are to receive
their just recompense, conspicuous and thrice-honoured will always shine
that of Gibraltar! And the true Englishman, remembering how steadfastly
Elliot and his veterans maintained their hold upon the Rock, will
sympathize with the generous sentiment of the poet, when he says,--

    “Nobly, nobly Cape St. Vincent to the north-west died away;
     Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay,
     Bluish ’mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
     In the dimmest north-east distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;
     ‘Here, and here, did England help me; how can I help England?’--say;
     Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
     While Jove’s planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.”

Since the Great Siege no attempt has been made to wrest the Rock from
our firm British grasp; nor are we likely to surrender it, holding it as
we do in the interests of Europe. Its military importance may be less
than it was in the days before steam became one of the instruments of
war; but still it is one of the keys of the Mediterranean, which we
cannot afford to see in the hands of any other Power. We do not hold it
selfishly, being concerned, not to shut up the Mediterranean, but to
keep it free for the commerce of every nation. Moreover, it is a symbol
of power which we cannot relinquish without disgrace.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the later annals of Gibraltar the chief event is the mutiny of the
garrison, under the governorship of the Duke of Kent, the father of the

The young prince, when he entered on a military career, was sent to
Hanover to learn the duties of his profession, and there he acquired
that scrupulous regard for the smallest externals and that “pipe-clayed
pedantry” which, before the days of Moltke, were the vice of the German
army. Afterwards he was sent to Geneva, where he soon fell into debt,
owing to the meagre allowance which he received from his royal father.
Returning to England, in the hope that George III. would assist, he was
ordered to start in twenty-four hours for Gibraltar, with the rank and
position of colonel of the 7th Fusiliers. His rigid disciplinarian
habits here made him unpopular with the common soldiers, who, however,
at that time contained a large percentage of desperate and dissolute
characters; but by the officers of the garrison he was as much esteemed
on account of his excellent qualities as he was respected on account of
his rank.

In the course of his professional career the Duke of Kent served in Nova
Scotia, and in 1799 acted as commander-in-chief of the British forces in
North America. Afterwards he was again sent to Gibraltar--this time as
governor. The garrison was in a state of open insubordination, and had
acquired an ill repute for its drunkenness and profligacy. To cleanse
this Augean stable, a kind of military Hercules was required; and the
duke was chosen, partly on account of his rank, partly on account of his
known strictness as a disciplinarian. He went, carrying with him the
most positive instructions, and relying upon promises of hearty support
from the British Cabinet. A more unpleasant task seldom fell to a prince
of the royal blood, for it could not be efficiently discharged without
loss of popularity. The duke, however, set to work most vigorously. He
abolished one half the wine-shops; established a regimental canteen;
ordered out the troops for proper periods of drill and exercise; and
punished laxity and disobedience with an unfaltering hand. In the course
of his reforms he found occasion to deal severely with some of the
officers, and there is reason to fear that they did their utmost to
foster a spirit of revenge among the private soldiers. However this may
be, a mutiny broke out, with the object, it is said, of compelling the
duke to retire on board ship, and leave the garrison; though it may well
be doubted whether the mutineers, in the intoxication of success, would
not have gone further, and perhaps have stained their hands with blood.
Happily, a part of the garrison stood firm; the mutineers disagreed
among themselves; the outbreak proved a failure; and the ringleaders
were arrested and tried by court-martial. Ten were sentenced to death,
but only three were executed.

In less than three months all symptoms of disaffection subsided; the
influence of a steady discipline was felt in the improved condition of
the soldiers, morally and physically; and the duke was entitled to pride
himself on the full success with which he had accomplished the difficult
duty imposed upon him. At this moment, to his utter surprise, he was
suddenly dismissed from his post, and recalled to England, to give an
explanation of his conduct. The prince obeyed these ungracious orders;
and on his return, finding himself unable to obtain a distinct statement
of any charges made against him, demanded a court-martial. This was
curtly refused, and the duke involved in suspicions which he was not
allowed to dissipate. That he was unfairly treated cannot be doubted; he
was made the victim of personal and political intrigues. He had the
satisfaction, however, of receiving from the inhabitants of Gibraltar a
testimonial of attachment and respect, valued at one thousand guineas;
while the British adjutant-general pronounced his “military code of
instruction for the garrison of Gibraltar” an “enlightened and excellent

Of late years the command at Gibraltar has usually been given to some
officer of rank who has distinguished himself by his services in the
field. It has been held by such men as Sir William Gom and Sir Fenwick
Williams of Kars; and at the present time (1879) it is in the hands of
one of our most distinguished soldiers, Lord Napier of Magdala. As the
first of the line of strongholds which guard our highway to India, it
still possesses and must always possess a value and a significance; and
it is well that such a post should be reserved for a veteran general,
who, in case of need, will know how to utilise its capabilities and
maintain its reputation for impregnability.


Gibraltar as it Was and Is.



The Atlantic is connected with the Mediterranean, as everybody knows, by
a narrow channel of irregular configuration, the Strait of Gibraltar,
which flows between the Rock of Gibraltar on the north, and the Rock of
Ceuta, backed by the strange mass of Mons Abyla, or Apes’ Hill, on the

Gibraltar was anciently called Calpe; and Calpe and Abyla were the
legendary _Herculis Columnæ_, or “Pillars of Hercules,” which marked the
limit of the mythical hero’s conquests, and formed the supposed boundary
of the Western world. The fable originated doubtlessly in the fact that
the sun, or Hercules, to the navigators of the Mediterranean,

[Illustration: THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR.]

[Illustration: THE BAY OF GIBRALTAR.]

sets behind these imposing promontories, dipping below “the rim of
ocean” as if to disappear for ever!

The first Greek author who mentions the famous Pillars is the poet
Pindar. He speaks of them as the point to which the renown of his heroes
extended, beyond which no mortal, whether wise or foolish, could
advance. As thus in his 3rd Olympic:--

      “As water’s vital stream all things surpass,
        As gold’s all-worshipped ore
       Holds amid fortune’s stores the highest class;
        So to that distant shore,
       To where the pillars of Alcides rise,
        Fame’s utmost boundaries,
       Theron, pursuing his successful way,
        Hath deckt with glory’s brightest ray
       His lineal virtues. Farther to attain,
    Wise and unwise, with me despair, th’ attempt were vain.”

In the time of Herodotus they formed a perfectly familiar position; and
they did not long remain the _ne plus ultra_ of human enterprise, the
Phœnician mariners sailing far beyond them, and reaching the coast of
Britain. Even in the days of Strabo, however, a good deal of confusion
prevailed in the minds of men respecting these Pillars. He tells us that
some supposed them to be islands, others rocky headlands; both rising
sheer out of the sea like colossal columns. Others expected to find
them indicated by cities, or columns, or statues, erected either by
Hercules himself as the proud memorials of his westward conquest, or by
the Tyrian seamen, dedicated to their tutelary god to commemorate the
farthest limit of their discoveries. Later writers indulged in various
conjectures. Pliny records the myth that Hercules rent asunder the rocks
which had previously divided the Mediterranean from the ocean; while
another legend asserted that he had narrowed the strait in order to
exclude the sea-monsters which had hitherto forced their way from the
ocean into the Mediterranean.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us turn from ancient fables to modern facts. The voyager who now
approaches the Strait sees on the one hand the picturesque coast of
Spain, with its green slopes and mountains of purple splendour, and on
the other the low sandy shores of Africa, suddenly broken up by the
heights of Ceuta. Gibraltar towers before him a narrow promontory of
rock, facing the sea with gloomy precipices, and connected with the
mainland by a low sandy isthmus. The Bay is on the western side of the
promontory, which there assumes a striking and

[Illustration: THE SIGNAL-STATION.

_Page 119._

romantic appearance. Along the whole face of the lofty cliff, tier after
tier, stretch ranges of formidable batteries, with the town of Gibraltar
lying sheltered at the northern end. From every nook and every coign of
vantage bristle heavy cannon. The midway slope, from the town to the
summit of the great Rock, is occupied by white barracks and pleasant
villas, which rest in the shadow of leafy groves. The eastern side,
however, is one unbroken mass of precipice, relieved by none of those
indications of peaceful civilization.

The three principal points of the rocky ridge to which we have alluded,
are the Rock Mortar, north, 1350 feet; the Signal, in the centre, 1276
feet; the Sugar-loaf Point, south, 1439 feet. The length of this ridge,
which consists of limestone, completely honeycombed with caverns, is
about two miles and three-quarters, with an average breadth of one half
to three-quarters of a mile, and a circumference of about seven miles.

The north face of the Rock overlooks the sandy isthmus of the Neutral
Ground; but at the north-west angle a line of fortifications separates
it from the shore. To the south a rapid slope extends from Sugar-loaf
Point to the oval-shaped platform of Windmill Hill, below which the
steep crags of Europa extend into the sea. At the north-west corner of
the Rock the town is defended by the formidable Lower Lines; and thence
a continuous series of defensive works stretches along the western
front, and round the southern side of the Rock, until terminated by
precipitous and inaccessible heights. This grand range of batteries,
bastions, and ravelins is now armed with upwards of one thousand guns.

To the west lies the Bay, which measures nearly eight miles and a half
in length, and upwards of five in breadth; its circuit being between
thirty and forty miles. On its western curve, facing the town of
Gibraltar, is situated the Spanish town of Algesiras. It boldly indents
the shore on the north of the famous Strait, which extends, we may add,
from Cape Spartel to Ceuta, on the African coast, and Cape Trafalgar to
Europa Point, on the Spanish side. Its length is about thirty-six miles,
its average breadth from fifteen to twenty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The voyager, as his ship passes under the Rock, comes to regard it as
one immense mass of fortifications, which Nature seems specially to

[Illustration: THE MARKET-PLACE.

_Page 121._

constructed for the reception of artillery. Batteries frown on its
precipitous sides; batteries crown its rugged summit; batteries line the
water’s edge; and batteries project audaciously even into the very sea.
Such is the Old Mole, or “Devil’s Tongue,” which played so famous a part
in the celebrated siege, and received from the Spaniards its expressive
though certainly too emphatic appellation. Half-way up the slope may be
seen the walls of the old Moorish castle. To the right, the irregular
buildings of the town, “of all imaginable shapes and colours,” are
clustered in picturesque variety at the foot of the precipices. To
complete the picture, the Bay is studded with numerous craft, from the
stately man-of-war and the great India-bound steamer, to the
smart-looking felucca which spreads its lateen-sails to the
Mediterranean breeze.

On landing, the traveller pushes his way through a motley crowd, crosses
the double enceinte, ditches, and drawbridge, and enters the
market-place, an open area surrounded by barracks, four, five, and six
stories high. Here are to be seen a throng of interesting characters:
Algerians and Morocco merchants, with half-naked legs, slippered feet,
their shoulders wrapped in their large white bernouse, and their head
crowned with the turban or tarbouche; Jews, with venerable beards, black
robes, and pointed bonnets; the turbaned Moors, with loose flowing
robes, and vests and trousers of crimson cloth; and Spanish peasants,
with velvet breeches and leggings of embroidered leather, and the
_navaja_, or knife, thrust into their tight crimson sash. Among these
the English soldier winds his way, neat, erect, and clean-shaven, as on
parade in St. James’s Park; or the Spanish lady lightly treads, her face
concealed by her black silk mantilla, and her hand fluttering the
inevitable fan.

Gibraltar has no public buildings of architectural importance; it is
essentially a garrison town, a fortified post, in which art and beauty
are subordinated to the useful. Except, indeed, at one spot, the Garden,
or Alameda--one of the most charming promenades in the world--which
extends from the sea-wall to the base of the precipices, formerly known
as the “Red Sands.” Here blooms a garden which is truly “a miracle.” The
sub-tropical flora is displayed in all its magnificent variety. A forest
of aloe and cactus, of cistus and sweet-scented broom, clothes the
rugged flanks and steep declivities of the mountain, if such it may be
called. The winding

[Illustration: THE ALAMEDA.

_Page 122._

alleys creep in and out of masses of rose-trees and flowering geraniums;
while tall pines, huge mimosas, arbutes, and pepper-plants spread a
pleasant shade around. Through these thick screens of verdure a glimpse
is here and there obtained of the mast-studded harbour, and the shining
waters of the Bay, and the azure hills beyond. Is it possible to
conceive of a spot more enchanting? The great defect in landscapes on
the border of the sea is, as a French writer remarks, the want of
greensward and leafy trees. But here these charms are combined; the
richness of a beautiful vegetation blends with the transparency of a
sunny sky, and the sapphire light of a sea like that of Naples, to form
a picture of supreme attraction.

       *       *       *       *       *

The town of Gibraltar is of limited extent, and the peculiar nature of
its position prevents it from enlarging itself in any direction. Its two
or three long streets run parallel to the sea-lines, and are intersected
at right angles by numerous narrow squalid lanes, which ascend the
precipitous acclivity by flights of rugged steps, called “Ramps.” The
general aspect of the town reminds the visitor of Landport; but these
lanes resemble the wynds in the “Old Town” of Edinburgh. “Toilsomely
clambering to the top of the Ramps, we find,” says Bartlett, “still
narrower lanes parallel to those below, resting on the bare hillside,
but the houses having a fine look-out, and being often half buried in
shrubbery and creepers, and peeping down upon the confused bee-hive
below. Crouching thus, as it does, at the foot of the hot and arid rock,
with its streets and alleys closely jammed together for want of room to
expand, the town of Gibraltar is in summer excessively close and
oppressive, and at no time can it be, we should imagine, an agreeable
place of residence; for not only are its habitations confusedly huddled
together, but for the most part exceedingly ill built and unsuitable to
the climate.” This unfavourable opinion, however, is not confirmed by
every traveller; and, as a matter of fact, for some months in the year
the climate of Gibraltar is anything but unhealthy.

Byron called Valletta, the principal port of Malta, a “military
hothouse;” but the term is much more applicable to Gibraltar, where the
principal ornaments are cannon, and half the population soldiers or
soldiers’ wives, or soldiers’ purveyors. If not the pomp and
circumstance of war, at least its more prosaic side is everywhere
visible. At every corner parties are relieving guard; the patrol pace
the crowded streets to the ear-splitting music of fife and drum; watches
are regulated, morning and evening, by gun-fire; the gates are closed at
a certain hour; peaceable amateurs sketching bits of the Rock are
ferociously challenged by suspicious sentinels; you cannot move a step
without abundant evidence that you are in a fortified town, where reigns
an unrelaxing vigilance. Yet it is not without its semi-humourous,
semi-picturesque aspects, such as Thackeray has drawn with his
accustomed distinctness. Suppose, he says, all the nations of the earth
to send suitable ambassadors to represent them at Wapping or Portsmouth
Point, with each under its own national signboard and language, its
appropriate house of call, and your imagination may figure the Main
Street of Gibraltar. There the Jews predominate, and Moors abound; and
from the “Jolly Sailor,” or the brave “Horse Marine,” where the people
of our nation are drinking British beer and gin, you hear choruses of
“Garryowen” or “The girl I left behind me;” while through the lattices
of the Spanish wine-shops come the clatter of castanets and the jingle
and moan of Spanish guitars and ditties. “It is a curious sight at
evening, this thronged street, with the people, in a hundred different
costumes, bustling to and fro under the coarse glare of the lamps:
swarthy Moors, in white or crimson robes; dark Spanish smugglers in
tufted hats, with gay silk handkerchiefs round their heads; fuddled
seamen from men-of-war or merchantmen; porters, Gallician or Genoese;
and, at every few minutes’ interval, little squads of soldiers tramping
to relieve guard at some one of the innumerable posts in the town.”

Thackeray refers in a similar strain to the Garden, or Alameda, which we
have just described. It is, he owns, and he might well have said more, a
beautiful walk; of which the vegetation has been as laboriously cared
for as the tremendous fortifications which flank it on either side. On
the one hand rises the vast Rock, with its interminable works of
defence; on the other shines Gibraltar Bay, out on which, from the
terraces, immense cannon are perpetually looking, surrounded by
plantations of cannon-balls and beds of bomb-shells, sufficient, one
would think, to blow away the whole peninsula. The horticultural and
military mixture is, he continues, very queer: here and there temples
and rustic summer-seats have been raised in the garden, but from


_Page 125._

among the flower-pots you are sure to see a great mortar peeping; and
amidst the aloes and geraniums stalks a Highlander, in green petticoat
and scarlet coat. Fatigue-parties are seen winding up the hill, and busy
about the endless cannon-ball plantations; awkward squads drill in every
open space; and sentries are marching to and fro perpetually. Yet the
scene, says Thackeray, is always beautiful; especially at evening, when
the people are sauntering along the walks, and the moon pours its light
on the waters of the Bay and the hills and the twinkling white houses of
the opposite shore. Then the place becomes quite romantic: it is too
dark to see the dust on the dried leaves; the intrusive cannon-balls
have for a while subsided into the shade; the awkward squads are at
rest; even the loungers have retired,--the fan-flirting Spanish ladies,
the sallow black-eyed children, and the trim white-jacketed dandies.
From some craft nestling on the quiet waters comes the sound of fife or
song; or a faint cheer from yonder black steamer at the Mole, which is
bound on some nocturnal voyage. You forget the squalor and motley
character of the town, and deliver yourself up entirely to romance. The
sentries pacing in the moonlight look like feudal knights of old; and
there is music in the old historic challenge, “Who goes there?”

“‘All’s well,’” says Thackeray with humorous exaggeration, “is very
pleasant when sung decently in tune, and inspires noble ideas of duty,
courage, and danger; but when you have it shouted all the night through,
accompanied by a clapping of muskets in a time of profound peace, the
sentinel’s cry becomes no more romantic to the hearer than it is to the
sandy Connaught-man or the barelegged Highlander who delivers it. It is
best to read about wars comfortably in ‘Harry Lorrequer’ or Scott’s
novels, in which knights shout their war-cries, and jovial Irish
bayoneteers hurrah, without depriving you of any blessed rest. Men of a
different way of thinking, however, can suit themselves perfectly at
Gibraltar; where there is marching and counter-marching, challenging and
relieving guard all the night through. And this all over the huge Rock
in the darkness; all through the mysterious zigzags, and round the dark
cannon-ball pyramids, and along the vast rock-galleries, and up to the
topmast flag-staff, where the sentry can look out over two seas, poor
fellows are marching and clapping muskets, and crying, ‘All’s well,’
dressed in cap and feather, in place of honest nightcaps best befitting
the decent hours of sleep.”

Every visitor to Gibraltar makes a point of ascending to the Signal
Station, though the climb is somewhat arduous, and the higher we ascend
the more rugged and rocky becomes the winding path. It must be owned,
however, that the view from the summit repays one for the fatigue of the
ascent. From this point is clearly seen the ridge-like character of the
Rock, dividing it into two steep declivities, which vary considerably in
their character. On the east, as we have already said, nothing is
visible but an inaccessible precipice; on the west, the slope is more
gradual, is broken into terraces, and descends to a narrow level running
parallel with the shore, where cluster the houses of the town and the
villas on its outskirts, with batteries and other defensive works
stretching right away to Europa Point.

Immediately at the foot of the Rock observe the New Mole and the
Dockyard. The works which protect the sea-front of the town extend to
this point, where they are strengthened by the comparatively new
batteries, Victoria and Albert, and the sunken zigzag, poetically named
the “Snake in the Grass.” Beyond lies the sheltered nook of Rosier Bay,
where ships of the line frequently drop anchor; on the high ground above
are situated the Naval Hospital and Barracks. The terraces of Europa and
Windmill Hill next come in sight, with an apparently endless series of
barracks, forts, magazines, officers’ residences, bastions, curtains,
and batteries. Across the Strait the eye rests upon the Spanish fortress
of Ceuta, and the mountain-chain which extends from Tetuan to Tangier.

The visitor may prolong his excursion to the ruins of O’Hara’s Tower,
above Europa Point. It was built by Governor O’Hara as a belvedere, and
forms a picturesque object. Thence, the descent of the eastern side of
the Rock is accomplished by a staircase known as “the Mediterranean
Steps,” which winds and bends and twists around precipice after
precipice, and from point to point, with the Rock above and the blue
expanse of the Mediterranean below. The silence and solitude of the spot
produce a deep impression on the mind, which seems to enter here into an
intimate communion with Nature. We forget the works of man and the
purpose for which the grim Rock is so stoutly held; when, on turning a
sudden angle, we see, at the


_Page 130._

extremity of a small platform, and in a situation inaccessible if not
invisible from below, a solitary but formidable gun, commanding Catalan
Bay and the Neutral Ground. At a short distance is another, but of less
calibre. This singular recess is known as the Mediterranean Battery.

       *       *       *       *       *

So much for the Rock itself. Let us now invite the reader to accompany
us on an excursion to Carteia. We pass through the Lower Lines, which to
the unmilitary eye appear absolutely impregnable, and enter upon the
sandy isthmus of the Neutral Ground. A survey of the works at this point
of access to the mainland convinces us that the Spaniards are justified
in calling it the _Boca del Fuego_, or “Mouth of Fire.” The narrow
causeway which crosses the artificial morass can be blown away at once
by the fortress guns. But even if an enemy overcame this obstacle, he
would find himself confronted by a line of strong batteries, stretching
from the foot of the Rock to the sea, and at the same time exposed to
the cross-fire of three or four rows of guns, placed in tiers along that
side of the precipice. As we continue our way along the Neutral Ground,
we observe that military science has done its utmost to render it
impassable by a hostile force. Willis’s Batteries are planted on a bold
crag, half-way up the Rock, so as to be able to sweep the isthmus with a
withering fire; and the rugged front of the Rock yawns with
fissures,--_los diantes de la vieja_, or “the old lady’s teeth,”--from
each of which frown the black muzzles of heavy guns; while, in addition,
the Old Mole, or “Devil’s Tongue,” projects its threatening mass into
the sea.

The isthmus is a sandy level, with patches of grass and vegetables, two
parallel lines of British and Spanish sentinels, barracks of a squalid
character for the Spanish soldiery, and still more squalid hovels for
Spanish peasants. Here the ruins of Fort St. Philip remind us of the
former existence of Spanish military works of a formidable character.
Philip V. erected in 1751 two advanced forts, now heaps of shattered
masonry; one called after his tutelar saint, Felipe, the other after
Santa Barbara, the patroness of the Spanish artillery. They were so
strong, says Ford, that when the French advanced, in the Peninsular War,
the modern Spaniards, being unable even to destroy them, called in the
aid of our British engineers, under Colonel Harding, by


_Page 131._

whom they were effectually dismantled. This is at least _un fait
accompli_, and they never ought to be allowed to be rebuilt, adds Ford,
since to raise works before a fortress is a declaration of war; and as
Buonaparte’s announced intention was to take Gibraltar, Sir Colin
Campbell (afterwards Lord Clyde) was perfectly justified in clearing
them away, even without leave or license from the Spaniards. It was
fortunate for many Spaniards that Campbell effected this work of
destruction, for thus General Ballasteros was saved from annihilation,
when the French pursued him and his undisciplined mob of troops, by
skulking under our guns. Yet no sooner was Ferdinand VII. replaced on
the throne of Spain by British arms, than this man urged him to
reconstruct the lines as both dangerous and offensive to England.
Thereupon said General Don to the Spanish commander at Algesiras, “If
you begin, I will fire a gun; if that won’t do, I shall fire another;
and if you persevere, you shall have a broadside from the galleries.” So
the lines were never rebuilt.

       *       *       *       *       *

Carteia was in old days a Phœnician colony, situated at the point where
the river Guadaranque enters Gibraltar Bay, and forms a small but
sheltered port. The Phœnicians called it Melcarthes, in honour of their
tutelary god, the African Hercules; and for centuries it flourished as
the emporium of a very extensive commerce. Having fallen into the hands
of the Romans, it was renamed Carteia; and it is mentioned in the annals
of the Second Punic War as an important naval station, and the scene of
a great sea-fight, in which Lælius defeated the Carthaginian Hadherbal,
B.C. 206. Thirty-five years later, the Roman senate assigned it as a
place of residence to upwards of four thousand men, the offspring of
Roman soldiers and Spanish women, who had been manumitted by the prætor
L. Canubius. They amalgamated with such of the inhabitants as chose to
remain, and their city was declared a _Latina colonia libertinorum_.
Such is Livy’s statement.

During the desperate civil war in Spain, Carteia seems to have been the
naval headquarters of Cneius Pompeius, who fled thither after his severe
defeat at Munda, but was compelled to abandon it through the
disaffection of a large portion of its inhabitants, B.C. 45. Betaking
himself to the forests, he was discovered by his pursuers. Weary and
desperate, he flung himself at the foot of a tree, where he was
speedily overtaken, and killed after a miserable struggle.

At the death of Julius Cæsar, Sextus Pompeius collected his adherents at
Carteia, from which he marched at the head of six legions. This is the
last incident of any importance in its history. It appears gradually to
have sunk into decay; its port was forsaken, its commerce disappeared.
After the Moorish invasion its masses of masonry were used as a quarry
for the erection of the Torre de Carthagena, and the Spaniards
afterwards pillaged them for their town of San Roque. Hence its remains
are now of small extent. Corn grows upon the site of the once populous
and wealthy city; and the ruins of its theatre are the only memorials of
its glory.

The city walls may also be traced; they ran parallel with the river, and
then crossed the high ground to the sea-shore. The ancient harbour was
within the river-mouth, the entrance to which is now obstructed by a
bar. It is very narrow, and easily rendered impracticable for hostile
ships. Livy records that when Varus, Pompey’s admiral, was defeated off
the Rock by Didius, he withdrew to the harbour of Carteia, and fixed a
number of anchors or grapnels across its mouth. Against these the ships
of Didius struck, when they attempted to enter; and by this simple
expedient Varus saved his entire fleet from destruction. Two hundred
years ago the ancient mole, with its solid Roman work, was almost
entire; and the ruins of many splendid buildings still existed. No
statues or art-relics have been found; but as Carteia was allowed the
privilege of a mint, the coins dug up have been numerous and

An extensive tunny-fishery formerly existed at Carteia.

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to Gibraltar, we find that there are still two or three of its
“lions” to be inspected. We have visited neither St. Martin’s Cave nor
the Galleries.

The former is reached by a path not to be recommended to any but the
firm of foot and clear of brain. It passes the Jews’ Cemetery, and then
climbs the eastern side of the Rock, until it reaches a craggy buttress,
which overhangs a tremendous abyss, and commands a fine view of the
southern precipices. Standing there, the adventurous

[Illustration: MARTIN’S CAVE.

_Page 136._

spectator takes in a panorama of the Strait from Europa Point to Ceuta,
with the lighthouse rearing its white tower on the wave-washed
promontory, and the white surf of the Atlantic breaking in ripples on
the Mediterranean current.

Still following up the hazardous path, we find that it skirts the brink
of a steep stony slope, descending from the precipice down to the very
water’s edge,--“a truly perilous spot, where a single slip over the
loose pebbles must send us rolling several hundred feet, into the
Mediterranean.” It is said that a boy of Gibraltar, who had conceived
the idea of revenging himself on a schoolfellow, induced him and two
other boys to visit in his company the famous cave. As they approached
this dangerous spot, he exclaimed, “We are _four_ that go up, but only
_three_ will come down!” and hastened to fulfil his prediction by
hurling his victim into the sea below.

Having passed the slope, we creep on our hands and knees through a gap
in the rock, and, a short distance beyond, come upon a narrow ledge,
which proves to be the threshold of the cavern in question. Along this
ledge we ascend to a small oval platform, and thence enter within the
gray obscurity of the cave.

Here is a description of its principal features by an accurate

The roof is encrusted with pendent stalactites, and supported by
stalactitic pillars, some of which are solid and massy, others so
slender and delicate that they might have been the work of fairy hands.
In the deepest recesses, a still pool of water, formed by the constant
percolation through the rocky vault, vividly reflects the fantastic
objects above and around it. “The perilousness of the access, the deep
seclusion of the site, hung half-way up a precipice 1400 feet high, with
the inaccessible rock above and the murmuring sea below, make this
cavern as it were a temple, erected by the hand of Nature herself, for
the lonely enthusiast who delights to worship her in her most hidden
solitudes. We continued to wander about, fascinated by the strange
beauty of the spot; and, loath to leave it, lingered until the declining
beams of the sun warned us that we had to return by a path which it
would be difficult, if not dangerous, to retrace in the obscurity of
twilight. Almost dazzled as we emerged into open day, we stood a moment
beneath the dark arched entry, to look out upon the expanse of sea,
glowing in the sun, with a few white feluccas catching its declining
beams; and then creeping cautiously down the narrow ledge by which we
had ascended, began to wend our way towards home.”

       *       *       *       *       *

To the Galleries the best route is by Willis’s Batteries, which were
finished in 1732, and, from their commanding position, proved
exceedingly annoying to the Spaniards in the Great Siege. The execution
done was so serious, that it led them to form a plan for mining and
blowing them up. They began their operations at the top of a slope,
above the Moorish ruins of the Devil’s Tower, on the north side of the
Rock; but while burrowing through the solid mass were overheard by a
watchful sentinel. He gave the alarm, and the works were quickly
destroyed by the besieged. Having reached a narrow terrace about
half-way up the northern angle, the visitor, as he surveys its face,
discerns a long series of cave-like openings, from which protrude the
black muzzles of cannon, so pointed as to command the Neutral Ground
below. Through an iron gate he now enters into the upper galleries,
which were excavated during the Great Siege, and lead to the Windsor
Galleries, likewise provided with port-holes, as it were, and thence
proceeds by an irregular path to St. George’s Hall. This is excavated
in a mass of rock, which externally resembles a projecting dome, and
here at the eastern angle corresponds with the craggy platform of
Willis’s Batteries at the western. Its dimensions are considerable, and
on more than one occasion it has been used as a banqueting-chamber. Lord
Nelson was entertained here prior to the battle of Trafalgar.

We now take leave of Gibraltar, its town, its fortifications, its
Alameda, its rock-hewn batteries, repeating the fine sonnet of
Archbishop Trench:--


    “England! we love thee better than we know;
     And this I learned when, after wanderings long
     ’Mid people of another stock and tongue,
     I heard again thy martial music blow,
     And saw thy gallant children to and fro
     Pace, keeping ward at one of these huge gates
     Which like twin giants watch the Herculean straits.
     When first I came in sight of that brave shore,
     It made my very heart within me dance
     To think that thou thy proud foot shouldst advance
     Forward so far into the mighty sea.
     Joy was it and exultation to behold
     Thine ancient standard’s rich emblazonry,
     A glorious picture by the wind unrolled.”

It is, doubtless, with such feelings as these described by the poet that
most Englishmen will gaze upon the famous Rock; though there are not

[Illustration: ST. GEORGE’S HALL.

_Page 139._

wanting philanthropists to remind us that it rightfully belongs to
Spain, and that our possession of it is an insult to a friendly power.
Had we surrendered it, however, it would probably have been seized by
France; and it is not so much for our own interests we hold it as for
those of Europe. While the British flag waves from its summit, it is a
sign and symbol that the Mediterranean will be the free highway of all



To the earliest navigators who penetrated westward the Rock must have
been a conspicuous landmark, and we have seen what fables were gradually
associated with it. Suddenly rising, erect and defiant, from the
mainland, with the waters whitening in surf at its very base, and
apparently defining the boundary of the inhabitable world, it is no
wonder that men learned to invest it with a certain mystery and awe. Its
records, however, at the outset, are vague and conjectural. We are told
that the Phœnicians called it “Alabe,” which the Greeks corrupted into
“Calpe;” but the true meaning of the name is quite uncertain. According
to an ancient writer, it signifies “a lofty mountain;” and some modern
authorities connect it with the well-known root Alp. Others identify it
with a word which in the south of Spain occurred in the various forms of
Carp-e, Cart-eia, and Tartessus.

Strabo speaks of a city of Calpe, situated about four and a quarter
miles from the Rock, which was formerly an important naval station of
the Iberians. Some say, he adds, that it was founded by Heracles, and
anciently named Heracleia; and that the great circuit of its walls and
its docks could be seen in his time. It is a moot point with antiquaries
whether Calpe and Carteia were one and the same city.

The present name of the Rock is derived from Jebel-Tarik, or “hill of
Tarik,”--so called from the Moorish conqueror who landed here, April 30,

Every reader of Southey will be familiar with his tragic poem of
“Roderick, the Last of the Goths,” and will remember the story on which
it is founded,--how that Roderick, the Gothic king of Spain, betrayed
the daughter of Count Julian, the governor of Ceuta; and how that the
latter, to revenge his dishonoured house, allied himself with Muza, the
Moorish ruler of West Africa, to accomplish the conquest of his native

                        “Mad to wreak
    His vengeance for his violated child
    On Roderick’s head, in evil hour for Spain,
    For that unhappy daughter and himself,
    Desperate apostate, on the Moors he called;
    And like a cloud of locusts, which the South
    Wafts from the plains of wasted Africa,
    The Mussulmen upon Iberia’s shore

Muza, having obtained the sanction of the Caliph Al Walid Ebn
Abdalmslik, sent over a small force of 100 horse and 400 foot to examine
the country, and the best line of operations for an army. This advanced
guard was commanded by Tarik Ebn Zarca, a veteran warrior of high
repute, who crossed the Strait, accompanied by Count Julian, and landed
on the Spanish shore near the present Spanish town of Algesiras. Meeting
with no opposition, he ravaged the neighbouring towns, and, loaded with
plunder, returned to Africa.

Incited by the prospect of absolute success, Muza collected in the
following year a well-equipped army of 12,000 men, to the command of
which Tarik was appointed. Embarking on board a large flotilla, he once
more crossed the Strait, and, this time, landed on the sandy isthmus
which connects the Rock with the Spanish mainland. Before entering on
the conquest of the country, he deemed it advisable to secure his
communication with Africa, by establishing a strong military position
on the coast; and his keen eye having at once detected the value of the
Rock, he ordered a castle to be raised upon it. Some portions of this
ancient structure still remain; and an inscription discovered over the
principal gate, before it was demolished, recorded the completion of the
work in 725.

    “Thou, Calpe, saw’st their coming; ancient rock
     Renowned, no longer now shalt thou be called
     From gods and heroes of the years of yore,
     Kronos, or hundred-handed Briareus,
     Bacchus or Hercules; but doomed to bear
     The name of thy new conqueror, and thenceforth
     To stand his everlasting monument.
     Thou saw’st the dark-blue waters flash before
     Their ominous way, and whiten round their keels;
     Their swarthy myriads darkening o’er thy sands.
     There on the beach the Misbelievers spread
     Their banners, flaunting to the sun and breeze;
     Fair shone the sun upon their proud array,
     White turbans, glittering armour, shields engrailed
     With gold, and scymitars of Syrian steel;
     And gently did the breezes, as in sport,
     Curl their long flags outrolling, and display
     The blazoned scrolls of blasphemy. Too soon
     The gales of Spain from that unhappy land
     Wafted, as from an open charnel-house,
     The taint of death; and that bright sun, from fields
     Of slaughter, with the morning dew drew up
     Corruption through the infected atmosphere.”

Leaving a small force at the foot of Jebel-Tarik, as the Saracens named
the Rock, in honour of their leader, Tarik pushed forward to the
westward, captured Carteia, and encountered the Goths, under King
Roderick, near Xeres in Andalusia. The battle was fiercely contested.
The Goths fought with all their old valour, and victory might have
rested with King Roderick, had not some of his nobles, with their
followers, deserted him at the crisis of the fight, and joined the
invaders. The Goths then gave way, and the Moors pressing them closely,
their retreat soon became a headlong flight.

    “Eight summer days, from morn till latest eve,
     The fatal fight endured, till perfidy
     Prevailing to their overthrow, they sank
     Defeated, not dishonoured. On the banks
     Of Chrysus, Roderick’s royal car[4] was found,
     His battle-horse Orelio, and that helm
     Whose horns, amid the thickest of the fray,
     Eminent, had marked his presence. Did the stream
     Receive him with the undistinguished dead,
     Christian and Moor, who clogged its course that day?
     So thought the conqueror, and from that day forth,
     Memorial of his perfect victory,
     He bade the river bear the name of Joy.”[5]

Flushed with victory, Tarik advanced into the country, and meeting with
no organized attempt at opposition, rapidly made himself master of the
provinces of Asturias, Biscay, and of the interior of Spain. The Goths,
driven into the mountains, gradually settled down into little
communities, which after a while were attracted towards one another by
the common sentiment of patriotism and hostility towards the infidels.
Then they descended from their mountain-recesses, and after a protracted
series of contests succeeded in expelling the Moors from the northern
provinces. Encouraged by this success, the chiefs allied themselves
together for the purpose of driving them wholly out of Spain; and this
being accomplished, they founded the several independent kingdoms of
Leon, Galicia, Asturias, Navarre, and Castile.

Meantime, Gibraltar had increased in importance, though at that time it
was surpassed by the neighbouring town of Algesiras. Early in the
fourteenth century, however, Ferdinand, King of Castile, wrested it
from its Moorish garrison, and it remained in the hands of the Spaniards
until 1333. Then Abomelique, son of the Sultan of Fez, having landed on
the coast with a force to assist the Moorish king of Granada,
immediately attacked the fortress of the Rock, and captured it after a
brave resistance. The Spanish troops fought with determined resolution,
and surrendered at the approach of famine rather than to the summons of
the enemy.

Alonzo XI., King of Castile, was hastening to the relief of the
beleaguered stronghold, when news of its capitulation reached him. He
resolved to attempt its recapture before the Moors could throw in
provisions or repair and strengthen its defences. Pressing forward with
great rapidity, he arrived before Gibraltar on the fifth day after its
surrender. Dividing his army into three sections, he posted the main
body on the isthmus, a second on the Red Sands, while the third occupied
the north side of the Rock above the town. He made several desperate
efforts to storm the castle, but each time was repulsed with severe
loss; and eventually found himself in the position of the besieger
besieged--the king of Granada uniting his forces with those of
Abomelique, and encamping in the rear of the Spaniards so as to raise a
formidable barrier across the isthmus from the Bay to the Mediterranean,
and cut off their supplies of provisions. For a few days longer Alonzo
desperately pressed his attacks; but at length was compelled by famine
to open up negotiations with the Moorish chiefs, which resulted in his
being allowed to retire with his troops, unmolested. Soon afterwards the
Christians surprised the Moorish camp, and Abomelique was slain. His
father avenged his death by falling upon the Spanish fleet, which he
completely destroyed; but Alonzo was still bent on the recovery of
Gibraltar, and in 1349 collected a powerful army for this purpose. His
task was more difficult than on the previous occasion, the Moors having
greatly added to the strength of the fortifications, and garrisoned it
with their best troops.

It was in the spring of the year that Alonzo sat down before Gibraltar,
and he conducted the siege with great vigour, harassing the garrison
with constant attacks and incessant storms of missiles, and intercepting
their communications by land and sea. He was on the point of success
when the plague broke out in his camp, sweeping away thousands of his
soldiers, and carrying off himself on the 26th of March 1350. The siege
was immediately raised, and the Crescent still shone luridly from the
battlements of the fortress-crowned Rock. But dissensions breaking out
among the Moors themselves, the castle was seized, in 1410, by Jusef
III., King of Granada. His rule, however, proved so distasteful to the
inhabitants that they rose against him, compelled his garrison to
retire, and then implored the Emperor of Morocco to take them under his
protection. The emperor despatched his brother Said to their assistance
with 1000 horse and 2000 foot; but the King of Granada was unwilling to
surrender his prize, and assembled a fleet and army which speedily
compelled the unfortunate Said to capitulate.

       *       *       *       *       *

After an interval of a quarter of a century, the hopes of the Spaniards
once more turned towards the famous Rock, which had been the object of
so many vicissitudes. In 1435 Henry de Guzman, Count de Niebla, resolved
to invest it by land and sea; but having disembarked from his galleys,
and attacked the Moors, before his son John had brought up the
land-forces, he was driven back pell-mell into the sea, and with many of
his followers perished. In 1462, John de Guzman had the satisfaction of
avenging his father’s death. A civil war had broken out in Moorish
Granada, and a considerable portion of the Gibraltar garrison had been
withdrawn to strengthen the army of one of the aspirants to the crown.
The governor of Tarifa, apprised of the opportunity thus offered,
rapidly collected a body of Spanish troops and appeared before
Gibraltar. The inhabitants defended it bravely; but John de Guzman
arriving with reinforcements for the besieging army, they surrendered,
and the Cross supplanted the Crescent after a period of seven hundred
and forty-eight years. This event was so grateful to Henry IV., King of
Castile and Leon, that he added Gibraltar to his royal titles, and
bestowed upon the fortress the armorial bearings of a castle, _gules_,
proper, with a key pendent to the gate, _or_,--thereby indicating that
Gibraltar was the key to the Mediterranean. Don Pedro de Perras was
appointed governor; but the post was afterwards given to Don John de
Guzman, who seems to have held it as a semi-independent fief until 1502,
when, in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, it was reclaimed by the

In 1589 its fortifications were extended and modernized by the imperial
engineer, Daniel Speckel: from which date it was regarded as
impregnable, until Sir George Rooke dispelled the long-cherished

       *       *       *       *       *

In concluding our brief description of Gibraltar, and our summary of its
history, we may allude to its intimate connection with the naval annals
of Great Britain. How often have our fleets sailed forth from under its
guns to encounter the armaments of hostile Powers; how often have they
returned victorious, carrying with them the trophies of their prowess!
Let us glance for a moment at the most brilliant of these triumphs; that
last crowning victory of Nelson’s, off Trafalgar, which was won almost
within sight of the celebrated Strait. A memorable victory, for it swept
the French and Spanish flags from the sea, while it defeated Napoleon’s
masterly combination by which he had hoped to have effected the invasion
of England.

The French and Spanish fleets, under Admiral Villeneuve, were lying in
Cadiz, closely watched by Nelson, with an inferior force, when Napoleon
sent them an imperative order to put to sea. Against his better
judgment, Villeneuve weighed anchor on the 19th and 20th of October
1805, and forming in five divisions,--in all 33 sail of the line and 3
frigates, mounting 2626 guns,--stood for the mouth of the Strait. This
was the opportunity Nelson long had wished for; and with his 27 ships of
the line and 6 frigates, carrying 2148 guns, he sailed in immediate
pursuit. When, on the 21st, the French admiral became aware of the
approach of the British, and discovered that it was impossible to avoid
an engagement, he drew up his ships in array of battle,--forming a
double and even a treble line, nearly five miles in length, and
resembling a curve, or half-moon.

Meanwhile, Nelson advanced with his ships arrayed in two columns, and
pressing forward under a cloud of canvas; Collingwood leading the
leeward division in the _Royal Sovereign_, and Nelson himself the
weather line in the _Victory_. The wind was blowing freshly from the
west, and a heavy swell rolled along the sea. At this moment the great
English Sea-King withdrew to his cabin, where he drew up a memorandum of
a domestic character, and wrote the following prayer, evidently under
the influence of a presentiment of coming death:--

“May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country, and for the
benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory, and may no
misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after victory be the
predominant feature in the British fleet! For myself, individually, I
commit my life to Him that made me; and may His blessing alight on my
endeavours for serving my country faithfully! To Him I resign myself,
and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen.

Dressed in his customary well-worn uniform, with the four time-tarnished
stars of the orders he generally wore, Nelson went upon deck. Aware that
in the ensuing battle his life would be specially aimed at, his captain,
Hardy, implored him not to lead his division into the storm, and he
reluctantly consented that the _Leviathan_ and _Timéraire_ should pass
ahead. But while he issued the necessary order, he took good care it
should prove fruitless. The _Victory_ was a swift sailer, and could not
fail to keep the lead, unless she shortened sail. But it was evident
that Nelson delighted in crowding on all the canvas his spars could
carry. Confident of victory, he turned with a smile to Captain
Blackwood, and asked how many ships of the enemy’s he should consider a
fair triumph? Blackwood, knowing how well they fought, answered that he
thought fourteen would be a glorious result. “I shall not be satisfied,”
said Nelson, “with less than twenty.”

The British fleet was rapidly closing up with the enemy, when, at about
twenty minutes to twelve, Nelson again turned to Captain Blackwood,
observing that it appeared to him some other signal was wanting. He
paused a few moments, and then directed the signal-lieutenant to
proclaim to the fleet that fine historic thought,--

             “England expects every man will do his duty!”

As soon as its purport was understood by the fleet, a strong and earnest
cheer arose, which showed with how heroic an enthusiasm the British were
going into the storm and stress of battle. Shortly afterwards Captain
Blackwood, having to return to his frigate, the _Euryalus_, shook his
commander by the hand, and expressed a hope he should return to
congratulate him on the capture of twenty prizes. “God bless you,
Blackwood,” said the admiral; “I shall never see you again.”

The division under Nelson had to bear away to the north, in order to get
between Cadiz and the enemy. Thus it came to pass that Collingwood’s
division first joined battle,--his flag-ship, the _Royal Sovereign_,
breaking the enemy’s line at ten minutes past twelve, luffing under the
stern of the _Santa Anna_, and pouring into her a tremendous broadside.
Three others of the enemy then gathered round the British man-of-war,
hurling at her such a hurricane of shot that they were seen to strike
each other in the air. “Rotherham,” said Collingwood to his captain,
“what would not Nelson give to be here now?” Almost at the same time,
Nelson, on board the _Victory_, exclaimed, “See how that noble fellow
Collingwood takes his ship into action!”

Ten minutes later, the _Victory_ broke the enemy’s line to the
northward, and was soon receiving the fire of no fewer than six ships.
The incessant discharges were murderous, and men fell quickly. With
upwards of fifty killed and wounded, and her sails torn into ribbons,
the _Victory_ still drove through the enemy, completely breaking up
their trim array; her example being followed by each man-of-war as it
came up. The battle was at its fiercest when the _Victory_ came into
collision with the _Redoubtable_, which she engaged with her starboard
guns, while she directed her larboard on the _Bucentaure_ and
_Trinidad_. A constant rattle of musketry was maintained from the tops
of the _Redoubtable_, which were filled with soldiers. In a few minutes
the dead encumbered the gangways and quarter-deck of the _Victory_,
while her cockpit was filled with wounded. Meantime, Nelson and Hardy
continued to pace to and fro along a space of deck not more than seven
yards in length; and at about twenty-five minutes past one, just as they
had reached within a pace of the regular turning-point, Nelson, who was
on the larboard side, faced about, and, before Hardy could support him,
fell. “They have done for me at last, Hardy!” he exclaimed. “I hope
not,” answered the captain. “Yes; my backbone is shot through.” A
musket-ball from the mizzen-top of the _Redoubtable_ had entered his
left shoulder through the fore part of the epaulet, and descending,
lodged in the spine. He was removed to the cockpit, and examined by the
surgeons. The wound was mortal. All was done that could be done to
alleviate his sufferings; and he lingered until half-past four, when,
murmuring, “Thank God, I have done my duty!” the greatest seaman of this
or any age passed away.

And passed away in the arms of victory. His daring manœuvre had been
completely successful; and out of the formidable fleet which
represented the united power of France and Spain, nineteen men-of-war
were captured. Trafalgar gave the supremacy of the sea to Great Britain.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gibraltar--Trafalgar! These are names which will stir the heart of every
Englishman, so long as patriotism is recognized as a virtue,--so long as
England’s sons continue to cherish England’s honour.

       *       *       *       *       *

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[1] A range of granite mountains in Argyllshire is similarly named the
“Duke of Argyll’s Bowling-Green.”

[2] These are reprinted in “Tales from Blackwood.”

[3] An Italian officer, who served on board the combined fleet, may
here be quoted in reference to the failure of these experiments:--“Our
hopes of ultimate success became less sanguine,” he says, “when, at two
o’clock, the floating battery commanded by the Prince of Nassau (on
board of which was also the engineer who had invented the machinery)
began to smoke on the side exposed to the garrison, and it was
apprehended she had taken fire. The firing, however, continued till
we could perceive the fortifications had sustained some damage; but
at seven o’clock all our hopes vanished. The fire from our floating
batteries entirely ceased, and rickets were thrown up as signals of
distress. In short, the red-hot balls from the garrison had by this
time taken such good effect, that nothing now was thought of but saving
the crews, and the boats of the combined fleet were immediately sent
on that service. A little after midnight, the floating battery which
had been the first to show symptoms of conflagration burst out into
flames, upon which the fire from the Rock was increased with terrific
vengeance; the light produced from the flames was equal to noonday,
and greatly exposed the boats of the fleet in removing the crews.
During the night one or other of these batteries was discovered to be
on fire; they were so close to the walls that the balls pierced into
them full three feet, but being made of solid beds of green timber,
the holes closed up after the shot, and for want of air they did not
immediately produce the effect. At five A.M. one of them blew up with
a very great explosion, and soon after the whole of them, having been
abandoned by their crews, were on fire fore and aft, and many of their
gallant fellows were indebted to the exertions of the English for their
lives.”--BARROW, “Life of Admiral Earl Howe.”

[4] The following quaint description of the royal car may interest
the reader:--“The wheels were made of the bones of elephants, and the
axle-tree was of fine silver, and the perch was of fine gold. It was
drawn by two horses, who were of great size, and gentle; and upon the
car was pitched a tent, so large that it covered the whole car, and it
was of fine cloth of gold, upon which were wrought all the great feats
in arms which had been achieved until that time; and the pillar of the
tent was of gold, and many stones of great value were set in it, which
sent forth such splendour, that by night there was no need of any other
light therein. And the car and the horses bore the same adornments
as the king, and these were full of jewels the largest that could be
found. And in the middle of the car there was a seat placed against the
pillar of the tent; and this seat was of great price, insomuch that the
value of it cannot be summed up, so many and so great were the stones
which were set in it; and it was wrought so subtly, and of such rare
workmanship, that they who saw it marvelled thereat. And upon this seat
the king was seated, being lifted up so high that all in the host,
little or great, might behold him. And in this manner it was appointed
that the king should go to war.”

[5] The river Guadelete.

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