1801 - Arrival of Sir Hyde Parker in the Sound, Lord Nelson at Copenhagen


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Arrival of Admiral Parker in the Sound 65

barked, the 49th regiment. under Colonel Isaac Brock, two companies of the rifle-corps, and a detachment of artillery, the whole under the command of Colonel Stewart.

The nominal or paper force of the three powers against which this fleet was destined to act, was Russia 82, Denmark 23, and Sweden 18 sail of the line, besides, between them all, about 89 frigates, corvettes, and brigs, and nearly twice the number of armed small-craft. But Russia, even as late as October in the present year, did not possess more than 61 sail of the line ; of which number 31 were in commission in the Baltic, and the remainder in the Mediterranean and Black seas. Those 31 ships were divided between Petersburg, Archangel, Cronstadt, and Revel. Perhaps the effective number, or that which might be brought to act as a fleet, did not exceed 20 sail of the line; and these were badly equipped, ill-appointed, and worse manned. The Swedes, at one time, had 11 sail of the line at Carlscrona ready for sea, and, by all accounts, in tolerably fighting trim. The Danish fleet at Copenhagen consisted, in the middle Of March, of 10 sail of the line ready for sea, exclusive of about the same number in an unserviceable state.

This makes 41 Russian, Swedish, and Danish effective ships of the line, instead of 88, the number stated by several writers to have been afloat in this quarter. It must have been a very happy combination of circumstances that could have assembled in one spot 25 of those 41 sail of the line; and against that 25, made up, as the number would be, of three different nations, all mere novices in naval tactics, 18, or, with a Nelson to command them, 15 British sail of the line, were more than a match. Without this explanation, it might seem the height of rashness in the British government to send to the Baltic so apparently small a force.

In the hope that Denmark, in spite of her hostile demonstrations, would prefer negotiation to war, the Honourable Nicholas Vansittart, with full powers to treat, had, about a fortnight previous to the sailing of the fleet, departed for Copenhagen in the 32-gun frigate Blanche, Captain Graham Eden Hamond. Adverse winds kept the British fleet from reaching the Naze of Norway until the 18th; and still heavier gales, during the two succeeding days, scattered the vessels, especially the small craft, in all directions. To collect these, the admiral, on the 21st, anchored at the entrance of the Sound, within sight of Koll point on the Swedish shore. Some of the smaller vessels were unable to rejoin ; and the Blazer gun-brig was driven under the Swedish fort of Warberg, and there captured. In the height of the bad weather the 74-gun ship Russel parted company, by signal, to take the Tickler gun-brig in tow; and, during the dark and hazy night that ensued, was only saved from being wrecked herself, by the great exertions of her officers and crew.

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