1800 - Siege and bombardment of Genoa


Next Page

Previous Page
Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 Siege and Bombardment of Genoa 9

Earl St.-Vincent to the secretary of the admiralty, dated April 16, 1799 : " The Queen-Charlotte will be better here than on home service, for she has been the root of all the evil you have been disturbed with." *

The commencement of the present year saw the famous army of Italy, which under Buonaparte had performed such prodigies, reduced to less than 25,000 men, and those in the greatest misery for the want of food and clothing. A powerful Austrian army, under General Mélas, presented an effectual barrier by land, and the cruisers of Lord Keith shut out all supplies by sea. On the 21st of April, after having sustained some severe losses in action with the Austrians, and left at Savona a garrison of 600 men under Brigadier-general Buget, General Masséna retreated upon Genoa ; and General Mélas immediately commenced the siege of that strong and important fortress.

The Austrian force blockading the fortress of Savona was under the command of Major-general Count St.-Julien ; and the British fleet cruising before the port. consisted of the 36-gun frigate Santa-Dorotea, Captain Hugh Downman, the 18-gun brig-sloop Chameleon, Lieutenant Samuel Jackson acting, and the Neapolitan brig Strombolo, Captain Settimo. By Lord Keith's orders, the sea-blockade of Savona had been more especially committed to the care of Captain Downman; and the boats of his little squadron with a highly commendable perseverance, rowed guard off the harbour's mouth during 41 nights; until, in fact, the garrison reduced by famine, on the 15th of May surrendered to the allies.

The blockade of the port of Genoa was undertaken by Lord Keith himself; who, after the accident to the Queen-Charlotte, shifted his flag, first to the 74-gun ship Audacious, Captain Davidge Gould, and subsequently to the Minotaur 74, Captain Thomas Louis. The principal part of the vice-admiral's force consisted of frigates sloops, and Neapolitan gun and mortar boats. These had on several occasions successfully co-operated with the Austrian army in attacks upon the outworks of Genoa. The services of the 38-gun frigate Phaëton, Captain James Nicholl Morris, had been particularly noticed by the Austrian general, Baron d'Ott, who had succeeded General Mélas in the command: and who, in the early part of May, had pushed his advance to the village of Coronata, and compelled General Masséna to retire within the walls of Genoa.

Within the first two or three weeks of May the town had been bombarded three times by the gun and mortar vessels and armed boats of the ships, under the direction of Captain Philip Beaver, late of the 28-gun frigate Aurora. Being much annoyed by these attacks, the French determined to board the bombarding force by a flotilla of their own, consisting of one large galley,

* Brenton, vol. ii., p. 356.

^ back to top ^