1800 - Loss of the Queen-Charlotte by fire


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 British and French Fleets - Mediterranean 8

one lieutenant, the admiral's secretary, with his two clerks, one chaplain, one master's mate, two midshipmen, and two servants, total 11. Those saved from the wreck by the boats that came off were, three lieutenants, two lieutenants of marines, one carpenter, one gunner, three midshipmen, one secretary's clerk, and 146 seamen and marines, total 156; making 167 as the whole number saved. Now for the contrary side. Those who perished appear to have been, one captain, three lieutenants, one captain of marines, one master, one purser, one surgeon, one boatswain, four master's mates, 18 midshipmen, one secretary's clerk, one schoolmaster, one captain's clerk, three surgeon's mates, and about 636 seamen, boys, and marines; making the total loss amount to 673 souls.

A sad calamity indeed ! lamentable to humanity for the loss of so many individuals, and, considering the origin of the accident, and the time of day in which it happened, not very creditable to the discipline of the ship. The Queen-Charlotte, and her sister-vessel the Royal-George, were, next to the Ville-de-Paris, the largest British-built ships at this time afloat. It was, then, no trifling loss which the British navy sustained, when the Queen-Charlotte, with all her guns, stores, and provisions, and upwards of three fourths of her numerous ship's company, perished in the flames.

The above, with a slight verbal alteration, is precisely as the account stands in the first edition of this work ; and yet the following paragraph has since appeared in the work of a contemporary : " We should have hoped, that the bravery, perseverance, and self-devotion of Captain Todd, who, to the last moment gave orders to save the lives of his men, regardless of his own, would have secured his memory from the imputations cast on it by a contemporary historian, who observes, that " the accident was not very creditable to the discipline of the ship."'* What " imputations " are here cast upon the memory of Captain Todd ? Who was the first, our contemporary or ourselves, to record the " self-devotion " of that officer? Was the accident, which is admitted to have originated in the manner we have stated, creditable to the discipline of the ship ? Were the Queen-Charlotte's crew, in short, in a state of discipline ? Let our contemporary answer the latter question himself. Referring to the conduct of the Queen-Charlotte in the Mutiny at Spithead in April, 1797, Captain Brenton says, " This ship, from the shamefully relaxed state of discipline in which she had been kept while the flag of Earl Howe was flying on board of her, naturally became the focus of all mutiny, a character which she maintained until she was burnt off Genoa." If we required higher authority than Captain Brenton's, the same writer has furnished us with it in the following extract of a letter from

* Brenton, vol. iii., p. 112.

Ibid., vol. i., p. 414.

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