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were of small calibre, and not more than fifteen could have been on the water fronts. The garrison numbered only 158 men. The attacking squadron was composed of two ships, of 26 guns each, and two 18 gun brigs. Besides the attack by the squadron a false attack was made on the land-side by a force of 330 men, landed from the ships, marines and Indians. After an action of three hours' duration, fought at a distance of about two hundred yards, the squadron was repulsed, with a loss of 230 killed and wounded, and one of the ships burnt. The loss, on the part of the garrison, was four killed and five wounded. (See Eaton's Life of Jackson, and the official letters of General Jackson and Major Lawrence, in Niles's Register for 1814.)
In our short history we can thus point to two remarkable instances in which our temporary batteries have proved their superiority over ships with a much greater number of guns; and during the war of the Revolution and the late war, our enemy being the greatest maritime power in the world, not a solitary instance occurred of her ships having conquered one of our forts. Americans, then, have every reason to feel confidence in their fortifications, and while the proud mistress of the ocean knows that the same eyes are sighting our great guns which glanced along the muskets and rifles at Bunker's Hill and New Orleans, we may be sure that those fortifications will be respected.
We desire it to be particularly noticed, that all the facts mentioned in this paper have been accompanied by references to the works from which they were taken, and that, whenever necessary, the volume and page have been given. It will be perceived, also, that our authorities have been generally English naval historians, and consequently, our object having been to reduce English naval achievements from the false value assumed for them to their real value, the bias of our authorities must naturally have been against us.
The actions between ships of war and fortifications, briefly described in the Report of the Military Board and in this Article, prove, we think, conclusively, the great superiority of the latter over the former, under similar circumstances. It remains, then, to show
whether those circumstances have been or might be changed, and what effect such changes would produce.
The circumstances that would most materially influence the results of such combats are, the relative value of marine and land artillery, including all improvements which have been made in cannon, projectiles, the construction of batteries, gunnery, &c., and the distances at which these actions might be fought. As regards the improvements which have taken place in artillery and gunnery, we hesitate not to say that those which have been made in land batteries are quite as great as those which have been made on ship-board. The introduction of the Paixhan shot results greatly to the advantage of land artilleries, for while against them they are of less value than solid shot, it is acknowledged by all, that against shipping they will prove destructive beyond any other projectile. The most absurd ideas respecting the effect of these shot upon fortifications have been generally circulated. Their relative values, when used against forts and shipping, are most clearly set forth in the Report of the Military Board, pages 29 and 30:
"While on this part of our subject, it is proper to advert to the use of horizontal shells, or hollow shot, or Paixhan's shells (as they are variously called), it having been argued that the introduction of these missiles is serious'y to impair the utility
of fortifications as a defence of the seacoast.
these shel s wil have an influence of some "We fully believe that the free use of importance on the relative force of ship and battery; but that influence mustbe the very reverse of such predictions. How are the batteries to be affected by them? It can be but in two ways: first, the ship gun having been pointed so as to strike a vital point-that is to say, a gun or a carriage-the shell may explode at the instant of contact This explosion may possibly happen thus opportunely, but it would happen against al chances; and if happening, would probably do no more
than add a few men to the list of killed and wounded. For reasons that will soon appear, it is to be doubted whether the probability of dismounting the gun wou'd be so great as if the missile were a solid 32 pounder shot Secondly, if it be not by dismounting the guns, or killing the garrison, the effe ts anticipated from these missiles must result from the injury
they do the battery itself. Now, we are perfectly informed, by military experience, as to the effects of these shells upon forts and batteries; for the shells are not new, although the guns may be so-the 8 inch and the 10 inch shells having always been supplied in abundance to every siege train, and being perfectly understood, both as to their effects and the mode of using them.
"Were it a thing easily done, the blowing away of the parapets of a work (a very desirable result to the attacking party) would be a common incident in the attacks of fortifications; but the history of attacks by land or water affords no such instance. The only practicable way yet discovered of demolishing a fortification, being by attaching a miner to the foot of the wall; or by dint of solid shot and heavy charges, fired unremittingly, during a long succession of hours upon the same part of the wall, in order not only to break through it, but to break through it in such a manner that the weight and pressure of the incumbent mass may throw large portions of the wall prostrate. This, the shortest and best way of breach ing a wall, requires, in the first place, perfect accuracy of direction; because the same number of shots, that, being distributed over the expanse of a wall, would merely peel off the face, would, if concentrated in a single deep cut, cause the wall to fall; and it requires, moreover, great power of penetration in the missile the charge of a breaching gun being, for that reason, one-third greater than the common service charges. Now, the requisite precision of firing for this effect is wholly unattainable in vessels, whether the shot be solid or hollow; and if it were attainable, hollow shot would be entirely useless for the purpose, because every one of them would break to pieces against the wall, even when fired with a charge much less than the common service charge. This is no newly discovered fact; it is neither new nor doubtful. Every hollow shot thrown against the wall of fort or battery, if fired with a velocity affording any penetration, wil unquestionably be broken into fragments by the shock.
"After so much had been said about the effect of these shells upon the castle of St. Juan d'Ulloa, it was deemed advisable, although the results of European experiments were perfectly well known, to repeat, in our own service, some trials touching this point. A target was, therefore, constructed, having one-third part of the length formed of granite, one-third of bricks, and the remaining third of freestone. This was fired at by a Paixhan gun, and by a 32 pounder, from the dis
tance of half a mile; and the anticipated results were obtained, namely:
"1st. Whether it was the granite, the brick, or the free-stone, that was struck, the solid 32 pounder shot penetrated much deeper into the wall, and did much more damage, than the eight inch hollow shot; and,
"2d. These last broke against the wall on every instance that the charge of the gun was sufficient to give them any penetration.
"The rupture of the shell may often cause the explosion of the powder it contains, because the shell, the burning fuse, and the powder, are all crushed up together; but the shell having no penetration, no greater injury will be done to the wall by the explosion than would be caused by the bursting of a shell that had been placed against it.
"From all this, it appears, incontrovertibly, that, as regards the effects to be produced upon batteries by ships, solid shot are decidedly preferable to hollow shot; and the ship that, contemplating the destruction of batteries, should change any of her long 24 or 32-pounder guns. for Pa xhan guns would certainly weaken her armament. Her best missiles, at ordinary distances, are solid shot; and, if she can get near, grape shot to fire into the embrasures and over the walls. The best shells against batteries, are the sea mortar shells, fired at high elevations; which, being of great weight, and falling from a great height, penetrate deeply, and, containing a considerable quantity of powder, cause material ravage by their explosion. Such shells, however, can only be fired by vessels appropriately fitted.
"The use of these same hollow shot by batteries against vessels, is, however, an affair of different character. The shells do not break against timber; but, penetrating the bulwarks, they, in the first place, would do greater damage than hollow shot, by making a larger hole, and dispersing more splinters; and having, as shot, effected all this injury, they would then augment it, many fold, by exploding.
"In all cases of close action between ship and battery, the shells will pass through the nearer side, and, if not arrested by some object on the deck, will probably lodge and explode in the farther side; causing, by the explosion, a much greater loss among the crew, and greater njury to the vessel, than by their mere transit across the vessel. As before suggested, the vessel would suffer less injury, were her sides made so thin as not to retain the shell, permi ting it to pass through both sides, unless fired with a small velocity. It is not impossible that an exten
sive use of these horizontal shells may lead to a reduction in the thickness of ships' bulwarks.”
As regards the effect of diminishing the distances at which actions between ships and fortifications have been fought, the only advantage that would result to the former from the change, would be, that their necessary inaccuracy in firing would be of less importance; but, at the same time, the amount of fire which could be brought to bear upon any battery on shore, would be very much diminished, and it is a question whether this decrease in the amount of fire, would not alone counterbalance the advantage of increased accuracy. Supposing, for instance, a casemated battery on shore; if, from each extremity of the front, which we suppose to be rectilinear, two lines be drawn, the one parallel to one cheek of an embrasure, and the other parallel to the other cheek of the same embrasure, the fire of all ships anchored without the space included between these two lines would have no effect upon the battery, because shot from ships so placed could not possibly enter the embrasures, and would consequently be harmless. We thus see that the fire which could be developed against a battery, would decrease as the distance decreased. Besides, however, this decrease in the amount of fire, ships, in approaching forts, would labor under other great disadvantages. Their men on the upper decks, would be so exposed to the grape, canister, and musketry of the upper or barbette tier, that these decks would be absolutely untenable, and then the combustibles, such as carcasses, fire balls, &c., which would be showerered upon them, would, at short distances, all take effect.
One great change which has been effected in the composition of navies within a few years, is the introduction of steam ships of war. These vessels certainly possess great advantages as regards locomotion, but no naval officer would recommend their use, in contests with fortifications, in the place of ordinary ships of war; for, to the same space exposed, they carry not one half the number of guns of ordinary ships, and, besides being just as vulnerable and combustible as these, they possess an additional liability to danger in the exposure of their machinery.
We now commence the last branch of our subject. Have there been, since the attacks on Gibraltar, Fort Moultrie, and others, any combats between ships of war and fortifications, tending to alter the conclusions we have arrived at from the results of these attacks? Those who maintain that ships can contend successfully with land batteries, point to the attacks on Copenhagen in 1801, on Algiers in 1816, on St. Juan d'Ulloa in 1838, and on St. Jean d'Acre in 1840. We are not aware of any other instances which have been advanced, worthy of consideration. Each one of these instances will be examined, and we hope to prove that no conclusions unfavorable to fortifications can, with fairness, be drawn from them.
As regards Copenhagen, it is surprising that any one, conversant with the particulars of that action, should cite it as a conflict between fortifications and shipping. It was simply an action between the British fleet, under Lord Nelson, and a line of Danish floating defences, consisting of rafts, block ships, and ships of war. The British fleet, during the action, was one mile distant from the batteries of the city and the island of Amak, and as the line of Danish ships, block ships, &c.,. lay between the English fleet and these batteries, of course, the latter could not be used at all. The Trekonner battery of 68 guns, was too far to the rear to be of much use in the action; but it was attacked by three frigates and two sloops of war, under Riou, one of the most gallant officers in the English Navy. These vessels were driven off with great loss, and yet, so insignificant did the Danish commander consider this attack, that, in his official report, he states that the Trekonner battery was not engaged at all. For the accounts of this battle, we refer to Campbell, James, and Brenton, all English Naval historians; and for plans of the battle, showing the positions of the fleets, batteries, &c., we refer to Brenton and vol. 2d Napoleon's Memoirs, by Montholon. Considering that the fortifications of Copenhagen and the adjacent batteries were untouched, it may cause surprise that the Danes should have yielded to the demands of the English. This is easily explained. Copenhagen, like Algiers, is so situated that, notwithstanding its fortifications, the city may be bombarded and burnt. The
Danish floating defences alone prevented this. The Crown Prince saw this, and after the destruction of the floating defences, to save his capital from being burnt, yielded to the demands of the English. To understand this it is only necessary to look at the plans referred
The attack on Algiers, by Lord Exmouth, in 1816, is unquestionably the strongest case in favor of the superiority of ships over land batteries which can be advanced, and, therefore, we request for the following examination of this case a careful consideration. The circumstances may be briefly stated thus:
On the 27th of August Lord Exmouth, with five ships of the line, five frigates, and four smaller vessels, and a Dutch squadron of five frigates and a corvette, the whole fleet carrying 892 guns, advanced to the attack of the hatteries of Algiers. The ships quietly took their stations, the Algerines, for some unaccountable reason, not firing upon them as they approached. The vessels which attacked the batteries of the Mole, were anchored from ninety to three hundred and fifty yards from the batteries, and the other vessels were stationed about three hundred yards from the opposing batteries. The number of guns engaged on the part of the fleet, was 446, and in the batteries, opposed to the fleet, 225, a number amply sufficient, if they had been properly served, to have destroyed the ships opposed to them. The firing commenced at a quarter before three P. M., continued until nine without intermission, and did not wholly cease till half past eleven. At this time, the fleet hauled off; the Algerine fleet lying within the mole, but which did not take part in the engagement, having "been burnt, the town partially destroyed, and the batteries very much injured. Lord Exmouth, in his official account of the action, states that "many of the Algerine ships, being now in flames and the destruction of the whole certain, I considered I had executed the most important part of my instructions, and should make every preparation for withdrawing the ships;" and again he says: "Providence, at this interval, gave to my anxious wishes the usual land wind common in this bay. We were all hands employed in warping and towing off, and by the help of the
light air the whole fleet were under sail and came to anchor out of the reach of shot and shells." In another letter he states: "I was forced to attack with a lee shore, and I was quite sure I would have a breeze off the land by one or two in the morning, and equally sure we could hold out till that time." In the life of Exmouth are some observations by a distinguished officer who served in the flag ship during the action, from which the following is an extract: "In a conversation after the action, observed, it was well for us that the land wind came off, or we should never have got out, and God knows what would have been our fate had we remained in the whole night." This observation was made to the Admiral, and undoubtedly by an officer of high rank. The Dutch Admiral, in his official despatch, states: "The destruction of nearly half Algiers, and the burning of the whole Algerine Navy have been the results of it." Observe that nothing is here said about the destruction of the batteries. Again he says in the same despatch: "In this retreat (mark the word retreat) which, from the want of wind and the damage suffered in the rigging, was very slow, the ships had still to suffer much from a new-opened and redoubled fire from the enemy's batteries." In the United Service Journal for 1831, page 184, an officer engaged in the action says, that most of the Algerine shot went overhead. It appears that the Algerines did not use hot shot, and Captain Warde, who was sent to Algiers by Lord Exmouth, some months before the engagement, to inspect and report upon the state of the defences, states in his report, that the Algerines "load their guns with loose powder poured in with a ladle." What ignorance and want of skill as artillerists does this one fact prove?
The above extracts show, we think, conclusively, that the Algerines were miserable artillerists; but, notwithstanding this, that the batteries, instead of being silenced, kept up a powerful fire on the hostile fleet while hauling off in retreat. It appears, too, from these extracts, that Lord Exmouth went into action with no expectation of silencing the batteries, for he expressly states, "I was sure we could hold out until one or two in the morning." His principal object, as stated by himself,
was the destruction of the Algerine fleet, which was so placed, within the mole, that it could not be destroyed without first attacking the batteries. Having effected this object, he was glad to retreat from the fire of the batteries as fast as towing and the providential land wind would enable him. Mr. Powell would have us believe, that the Admiral was so grateful for this providential land wind, because the coast was dangerous and he was afraid a storm night arise which would shipwreck his fleet before morning. This is counting a little too much on our ignorance of nautical matters, for we know that, under such circumstances, something more than hauling off just 66 out of reach of shot and shells,' stated by the Admiral, is desirable.
The destruction of his fleet and part of the town, together with the certainty of the destruction of the remainder by a distant bombardment, easily account for the compliance of the Dey with the demands of the English. For the facts and extracts given in the above account, we refer to the Life of Lord Exmouth, by Osler, particularly to the documents and plan in the appendix.
We have but one remark more to make about Algiers. We have seen that, at Gibraltar, ships nearly incombustible were destroyed at a distance of 1000 yards, by eighty cannon. If there had been British, or French, or American artillerists behind the batteries of Algiers, with two hundred guns firing red hot shot, and carcasses and fire-balls, at a fleet but one or two hundred yards distant, what would have been the result? As regards the attack on the castle of St. Juan d'Ulloa, in 1838, its examination in the Report of the Military Board is so full and conclusive that we can add nothing to it. Even though at the cost of the necessity of lengthening this paper considerably beyond its proper or convenient limits, we feel bound, in justice to the subject, to quote it inaccessible as the document is to most readers.
"The only other instance we will adduce is that of the late attack on the castle of St. Juan d'Ulloa. Having before us a plan of this work, made on the spot, after the surrender, by a French engineer officer who was one of the expedition; having, also, his official account of the affair, as well as narratives by seve
ral eye-witnesses, we can fully understand the circumstances attending the operations, and are liable to no material errors.
"On the 27th of November, 1838, Admiral Baudin anchored at the distance of about seven-eighths of a mile in a northfrigates La Néréide, of 52 guns, La east direction from the castle, with the Gloire, of 52 guns, and L'Iphigénie, of 60 guns; and after being a short time in action, he was joined by La Créole, of 24 guns: in all 188 guns, according to the rate of the ships. In a position nearly north from the castle, and at a distance of more than a mile, two bomb ketches, carrying each two large mortars, were anchored. The wind being adverse, all the vessels were towed into position by two armed steamboats belonging to the squadron. It was lucky for us,' says the reporter, 'that the Mexicans did not two hours, and that they permitted us to disturb this operation, which lasted near commence the fire' He further says We were exposed to the fire of one 24pounder, five 16-pounders, seven pounders, one 8-pounder, and five 18pounder carronades; in all, 19 pieces only.' In order the better to judge of these batteries, we will convert them, in proportion to the weight of balls, into 24-pounders; and we find these 19 guns equivalent to less than 12 guns of that calibre. But we must remark, that, although this simplifies the expression of force, it presents it greatly exaggerated; it represents, for example, three 8-pounders as equivalent to one 24-pounder; whereas, at the distance the parties were engaged (an efficient distance for a 24pounder) the 8-pounders would be nearly harmless. It represents, also, the 18pounder carronades as possessing each three-fourths the power of a long 24-pound er; whereas, at that distance, they would not be better than the 8-pounders, if so good. Although the above estimate of the force of the batteries is too great by full one-third, we will, nevertheless, let it stand as representing that force.
"There were, then, twelve 24-poundfor one broadside only of each ship) and ers engaged against 94 guns (estimating 4 sea-mortars. During the action, a shell caused the magazine in the cavalier to explode, whereby three of the nineteen guns were destroyed, reducing the force to about 1en 24-pounders.
"Considering the manner in which this work was defended, it would not have been surprising if the ships had prevailed by mere dint of their guns; but our author states, expressly, that, though the accident just mentioned completely extinguished the fire of the cavalier, still the greater part of the other pieces which