The Bombardment of Algiers 27 August 1816 by George Chambers, Senior

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The Bombardment of Algiers by the combined Anglo-Dutch force under the command of Sir Edward Pellew has already been described in details in an earlier post. This time I would like to present a view of this battle as painted by George Chambers, Senior.

For his actions Admiral Pellew had been raised to Viscount and several of his friends and associates had subscribed 200 guineas to commission a painting commemorating this victory. The Secretary and Commissioner of the Greenwich Hospital E.H. Locker (a former secretary to Admiral Pellew) had played an important part in awarding the contract to George Chambers, from whom he had previously obtained an oil painting for inclusion into the Naval Gallery at the Hospital.

This painting is George Chambers’ the most important late work and in addition to it the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has a number of sketches and a preliminary oil study that is also presented in this post.

In the right foreground of the painting a massive bow of the Impregnable, 98 guns, shelters a number of boats armed with carronades. In the left foreground a boat commanded by a lieutenant is about to fire its howitzer.

In the left foreground more boats are seen beside the stern of the Minden, 74 guns. One of these boats is armed with Congreve rockets. The Minden is firing her starboard guns. Behind her is the Superb, 74 guns.

Battle-of-Gibraltar-1607

In the left background the Dutch flagship Melampus is seen, starboard side. In the middle Chambers painted Pellew’s flagship the Queen Charlotte, 100 guns, in a quarter port view. Beyond her one can see a glimpse of the Leander, 50 guns.

The Algerian coastal batteries are under heavy fire from the Anglo-Dutch ships and are covered in flames and smoke. Behind the batteries the masts of Algerian ships in the harbor are seen.

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The Explosion of the Spanish Flagship in the Battle of Gibraltar April 25th 1607 by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen

In 1621 the Admiralty of Amsterdam decided to commission a painting commemorating the Battle of Gibraltar that took place in 1607. This battle, in which the Dutch squadron had destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Bay of Gibraltar, was the first major Dutch naval victory in the Eighty Years’ War. This battle had cost the Dutch fleet commander Admiral Jacob van Heemskerk his life. This man was famous for his exploits in searching for the North-East Passage to India and his wintering in Novaya Zemlya in 1596-1597 together with another famous explorer Willem Barents.

This painting depicts an episode of that battle. It is not signed and until 1983 had been attributed to Hendrick Vroom.

Battle-of-Gibraltar-1607

In 1621 the head of the Admiralty of Amsterdam Prince Maurice (Mauritz) decided to get a new painting for his newly built residence in the Stadtholder Quarter in The Hague. Initially Hendrick Vroom was contracted to make a draft. Vroom requested an astronomical sum of 6000 florins. The negotiations stalled, and, after Vroom left the meeting, “calling out words of insolence”, it was concluded that the task should also be given to “another good Master in this Art, so that one could decide, who of the two is better and whom the contract is to be awarded”. Two officials travelled to Haarlem and visited there the studios of both Vroom and van Wieringen. The works of the latter made a very good impression and he was asked to make a draft picture “of two ships, eight foot wide and five foot high”.

This story is most likely about a painting in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam that depicts the explosion of a Spanish ship in the Battle of Gibraltar on April 25th 1607, even though its dimensions are not exactly the same. The draft picture had been painted in just one month after the task was given, which must have been between July and August 1621. If it was the draft van Wieringen created to get the contract, he must have been working especially fast probably to impress the Admiralty’s officials with his skills. Читать далее

The Capture of Puerto Bello, 21 November 1739 by George Chambers, Senior 1836

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The attempts of the Spanish Crown to strictly control the trade with its New World colonies had always been met with opposition by European maritime powers. In the beginning of the 18th century the British formed their South Sea Company to exploit a trading concession obtained from Spain after the peace of 1713. Strict conditions of the concession were largely ignored, which led to a semi-legal smuggling trade across the Spanish Caribbean. The Spanish government lacking proper funding could not impose customs control on its own and instead employed private parties as licensed guarda-costas. The latter, given the Caribbean long-time tradition of buccaneering, acted as peacetime privateers living off smugglers. Constant attacks of guarda-costas on the British merchants had been causing public outrage that had finally reached its pinnacle after an incident involving one Captain Robert Jenkins. Having suffered from a guarda-costa boarding party he appeared before the House of Commons driving the British public opinion to a violent agitation. His cause had proven convenient for the bellicose Tory opposition to force the Government to declare war on Spain, the conflict now known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

The British had a small mobile force in the Caribbean commanded by Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon who was appointed to Jamaica in July 1739. He had on many occasions publicly declared that he could take a Spanish strongpoint like Porto Bello with six ships, and that was exactly the size of his squadron that appeared before the fortress in November 1739. Porto Bello was a large settlement and a major Spanish naval base in the Spanish Main.

The-Capture-of-Puerto-Bello-21-November-1739-by-George-Chambers-Senior-1836

Vernon’s attack was carefully planned and brilliantly executed. Only one of two forts guarding the bay had artillery and of 32 guns only 9 were serviceable. After 24-hour siege the Spanish garrison surrendered. Unfortunately for the British no rich galleon had been found in the port. During a three-week occupation the British destroyed fortification, wrecked naval facilities and disrupted an annual fair, which was a cornerstone of the regulated Spanish commerce in the region. Читать далее

Unsuccessful English attack on the VOC fleet at Bergen, 12 August 1665

The Battle of the Saintes was fought between French and English fleets in April 1782 as a part of the conflict ensued after the rebellion in the Thirteen Colonies. A series of engagements took place starting April 9th with the decisive action fought on April 12th. The name Saintes comes from a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies.

In the early 1782 the French and the Spanish had planned a joint invasion of Jamaica. The French fleet consisting of 35 ships of the line commanded by Comte de Grasse sailed on April 8th from Martinique accompanied by a large troop convoy to meet the Spanish forces off Cap François. Admiral Sir George Rodney, commander of the English fleet of thirty-seven ships, followed at once. With a little wind the fleets have been maneuvering and skirmishing for four days. Hectic maneuvers resulted in a number of collisions in the French fleet that cost it ships and time. Finally in one of those collisions Zelé, commanded by Captain Gras-Previllé, was dismasted which brought on the main battle on April 12th.

Unsuccessful-English-attack-on-the-VOC-fleet-at-Bergen-12-August-1665

The two fleets were passing in line on opposite course cowered in the thick smoke from the cannon. Читать далее

Battle of Texel (Slag bij Kijkduin)

The full name of this painting is “Nightly Fighting Between Cornelis Tromp on the ‘Gouden Leeuw’ and Sir Edward Spragg on the ‘Royal Prince’ During the Battle of Texel (Kijkduin) on August 21, 1673: Episode From the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74)”. In this batlle the Dutch navy fought the combined force of the Royal Navy and the French Fleet, the alliance brought by the Treaty of Dover. French King Louis XIV invaded the Dutch Republic in 1672 seeking to gain control over the Spanish Netherlands. A secret treaty with King Charles II pulled England into the conflict and started the third Anglo-Dutch War.

battle_of_texel_august_21_1673_slag_bij_kijkduin_-_nightly_battle_between_cornelis_tromp_and_eward_spragg_willem_van_de_velde_ii_1707

The picture displays an episode from the Battle of Texel with Dutch ships in their failed attempt to capture the English flagship ‘Royal Prince’ (in the center). In this engagement the flagship of the Dutch admiral Cornelis Tromp the ‘Gouden Leeuw’ has been badly damaged and is seen sinking to the right of the ‘Prince‘. Читать далее

The Battle of the Saintes, 12 April 1782

The Battle of the Saintes, 12 April 1782 The Battle of the Saintes was fought between French and English fleets in April 1782 as a part of the conflict ensued after the rebellion in the Thirteen Colonies. A series of engagements took place starting April 9th with the decisive action fought on April 12th. The name Saintes comes from a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies.

Cochrane’s finest achievements war

In the early 1782 the French and the Spanish had planned a joint invasion of Jamaica. The French fleet consisting of 35 ships of the line commanded by Comte de Grasse sailed on April 8th from Martinique accompanied by a large troop convoy to meet the Spanish forces off Cap François. Admiral Sir George Rodney, commander of the English fleet of thirty-seven ships, followed at once. With a little wind the fleets have been maneuvering and skirmishing for four days. Hectic maneuvers resulted in a number of collisions in the French fleet that cost it ships and time. Finally in one of those collisions Zelé, commanded by Captain Gras-Previllé, was dismasted which brought on the main battle on April 12th.

The two fleets were passing in line on opposite course cowered in the thick smoke from the cannon. A sudden shift in the wind threw both lines into disorder with some of the British ships crossing the French line. This ‘breaking the line’ much praised later as a brilliant tactical maneuver was in fact unintentional and unfortunate. The British ships around the French flagship were cut and surrounded. The bulk of the French fleet, however, was trapped between the British and the shore and could not escape. In the melee that followed five French ships were taken including the flagship Ville de Paris with Comte De Grasse himself.

Admiral Hood, the second in command of the British fleet, insisted on pursuing of the remaining French ships but the exhausted Rodney who did not sleep for the last four days refused. Still Hood had managed to take two escapees later and the French plans of the invasion of Jamaica were thwarted.

In the middle of the painting the French flagship Ville de Paris, 104, is shown hauling down her colors with the Rodney’s flagship Formidable, 98, engaging her from the starboard. Beyond the Ville de Paris the British Barfleur, 98, is seen raking her from the bow. In the reality Ville de Paris surrendered to Admiral Hood, not to Rodney. The painting correctly shows the British ships flying red ensigns, despite the fact that Rodney was Admiral of the White (note the St. George flag on the main mast of the Formidable). This was the result of Rodney’s order to avoid confusion with the white Bourbon ensigns of the French.

Bombardment of Algiers by Anglo-Dutch Forces on August 26-27, 1816

Bombardment of Algiers by Anglo-Dutch Forces on August 26-27, 1816

hese two paintings depict episodes of a joint Anglo-Dutch action against Barbary States in 1816. For centuries the forces of North African monarchies have been raiding the shores of Christian Europe capturing fishermen, looting coastal villages and town; sometimes reaching as far as to England, Ireland and even Iceland. Slaves were captured to be sold on markets in Algiers and Tunisia. European maritime powers responded with punitive expeditions but did not completely succeed to stop the slave trade in North Africa until the French colonization in mid. 19th century.

One of such expeditions took place in summer of 1816. Following the end of Napoleonic Wars England no longer depended on supplies purchased in Algiers for her Mediterranean Fleet. Besides there was considerable political support for action against Barbary pirates and slavers. In 1816 a squadron led by Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth managed to convince Dey of Algiers to sign a treaty to stop the white slave trade. However, due to misread orders Algerian troops massacred Sicilian and Corsican fishermen who were under British protection. This caused an outrage in England and elsewhere in Europe, and Admiral Pellew was ordered to punish the Algerians.

In August 1816 a squadron of five ships of the line, one 50-gun ship and four frigates sailed out and was joined in Gibraltar by a Dutch force of five frigates and a corvette commanded by Vice-Admiral Theodorus Frederik van Capellen.

Algiers was well defended by shore batteries whose destruction was to be the first objective for the allies. Algerians planned to let the enemy ship close to the mole without firing at them and then to border them with large number of men in small boats.

bombardment-of-algiers

On August 27 1816 the allied force reached Algiers. The action started at 3:15PM when due to the lack of discipline one Algerian cannon fired a shot at the British ships. This was immediately answered with a hail of fire. Algerian boarding attempt failed and 33 of their boats were sunk. By 7:30PM most of the coastal artillery was silenced and the Allies started firing at the shipping in the port. At 8:00PM a British bomb vessel exploded following a navigational error when trying to bear its guns against a shore battery. The action was over when at 10:15PM the British weighed anchor and sailed away. HMS Minden kept suppressive fire until 1:30AM and by this time the allied squadron anchored out of range. Читать далее

Battle of Scheveningen (Ter Heide) 31 July (10 August) 1653

The Battle of Scheveningen (Battle of Ter Heide) was painted by Jan Abrahamsz between 1653 and 1666. The flagship of Admiral Tromp, the Brederode and the Resolution under the flag of Monck can be seen in the middle of this painting.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

By the middle of the 17th Century the tensions rose between the Commonwealth of England and the Republic of the Seven Provinces. Political rivalry, religious strife and most of all economic competition had drawn two protestant countries into decades of bloody conflict known as Anglo-Dutch Wars.

In 1650 the Dutch Republic stood proud. After 80 years of the unprecedented struggle for freedom from the all-mighty Spanish Empire the Seven Provinces had finally got their independence formally acknowledged in Westphalia. By this time the former ragtag fleet of the rebellious “sea-beggars” had become the world’s leading maritime power.

As the disputes heightened and diplomats strove to reach a settlement over the commercial issues, the States-General decided to intimidate the English by voting for an increase of the Dutch navy by not less than 150 ships. The effect of this move was quite the opposite to the expected. The English became convinced of the Dutch intentions on war and started preparing themselves to it.

The final trigger was provided by the long-standing English claim to be saluted everywhere in the “British Seas”. The extent of the “British Seas” was never defined, although it is safe to assume that the Channel and the Dover Straits were implied. The Dutch however stood to their own belief of the “freedom of the seas”. Thus the all-important passage of the Dutch trade shipping to the high seas was at stake. The war became inevitable as a result of several flag incidents that led to a bitter confrontation between the naval forces of the two nations.

One of such incidents took place on May 19th 1652 when Tromp and Blake met off Dover and firing broke out over the issue of the salute. Tromp had instructions from the States-General to yield the salute on the understanding that it was a courtesy not an acknowledgment of any legal jurisdiction. In the time of high tensions such orders proved to be fatal. The English were outnumbered and fought a confused action which still brought them two Dutch prizes. The leadership of the Commonwealth was enraged by what they regarded as a treacherous attack and formally declared war on July 8th.

Battle of Scheveningen

The next twelve months had seen many actions including some of the scale never seen before. So on 2 June 1653 Tromp with 104 ships met Monck and Deane commanding 105 men-of-war. The encounter ended a disaster for the Dutch who lost 20 ships and were routed. The English navy now mounted a blockade of the Dutch waters causing a standstill in trade and a famine for the common people. Читать далее

Battle of Sinop (The Day), 18 November 1853

last major naval engagement of the age of sail (Battle of Sinop) can be seen on this painting by Ivan Aivazovsky. In November 1853 a Russian squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Pavel Nakhimov (3 84-gun ships) was on patrol off the northern coast of Anatolia. Russian ships approached the Bay of Sinop to check the rumors of the Turks gathering a landing force there. A squadron of 7 Turkish frigates and 5 smaller ships was anchored in the bay protected by 6 coastal batteries. Nakhimov’s force blockaded the port and waited for reinforcements to come. Soon 3 120-gun ships of the line and 2 frigates commanded by Rear-Admiral Novosilsky joined Nakhimov. Fearing that the Anglo-French fleet might reinforce the Turks the Russians decided to attack.

Battle of Sinop (The Day), 18 November 1853

The Russian fleet sailed down to Sinop in two columns. Читать далее

Cochrane remained aggrieved

Unfortunately, neither happened. Cochrane’s actions in absconding from Brazil without explanation in1825, his rejection of orders to return to give an account of his final voyage, and his refusal to resign when the world knew he had been recruited to command the Greek Navy caused the Brazilians to put the whole issue on ice. Eventually it was forgotten. But in October 1847 Cochrane revived it dramatically in aPetition to the Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, which described in detail his activities during the War of Independence and enumerated his financial claims. His period ofservice as commander-in-chiefofthe Royal Navy’s North America and West Indies squadron then intervened; but, in March 1854, he returned to the attack by producing a Description of Services, followed up a year later by a Memorial to the Legislature of Brazil. Читать далее