1800 - Loss of the Marlborough, Lord Keith in the Mediterranean, Loss of the Queen-Charlotte by fire


Next Page

Previous Page
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 British and French Fleets - Channel 6

blown up; all with the loss of only one seaman killed in the boats, and some slight hurts. A descent upon Belle-Isle was intended to be the next operation; but, intelligence being received that the force on the island amounted to 7000 men, the enterprise was abandoned as impracticable. The British troops then landed and encamped upon the small island of Houat, situated about two leagues to the south-east of Quiberon point; whence they subsequently re-embarked, and proceeded for the Mediterranean.

Before we quit the neighbourhood of the Channel and bay of Biscay for the Mediterranean, we have to notice the loss of a second British ship of the line, off the coast of France. On the 4th of November, in the night, while the British 74-gun ships Captain, Captain Sir Richard John Strachan, and Marlborough, Captain Thomas Sotheby, were cruising in company between the islands of Groix and Belle-Isle, the latter ship struck on the Bividaux or Bervadeux shoal. Here the Marlborough hung for several hours ; but, by the great exertions of her officers and crew in throwing overboard a part of her guns and the whole of her heavy stores, the ship got off: The Marlborough, however, had received so much damage that, even after all her masts had been cut away and the remainder of her guns thrown overboard, the quantity of water she made obliged the officers and crews to leave her to her fate. The Captain, and a Danish brig which had just joined, received the whole of them; and shortly afterwards the Marlborough sank at her anchors. Under these circumstances no blame could attach to her captain, his officers, or ship's company, and a court-martial pronounced their full acquittal.

There being no longer a French fleet to watch in the port of Toulon, Vice-admiral Lord Keith and his cruisers were principally employed in blockading the island of Malta, and in co-operating with the Austrians in their efforts to expel the French from Piedmont and Tuscany. On the 16th of March Lord Keith, having, with Lieutenant John Stewart and four other persons, landed at Leghorn from his flag-ship the Queen-Charlotte, ordered Captain Todd to get under way, and proceed to reconnoitre the island of Capraia, distant about 36 miles from Leghorn, and then in the possession of the French; and which island there was some intention of attacking. On the succeeding morning, the 17th, when only three or four leagues from Leghorn on her way to Capraia, the Queen-Charlotte was discovered to be on fire. Every assistance was immediately forwarded from the shore ; but a great many boats were deterred from approaching the ship, in consequence of the firing of the guns, which were shotted, and which, when heated by the fire, discharged their contents in all directions.

Among the survivors on this melancholy occasion, was the carpenter, Mr. John Baird. His account is as follows: "At

^ back to top ^