1801 - Armistice with Denmark


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Lord Nelson at Copenhagen 71

Edgar led. The Agamemnon was to have followed; but, having anchored rather outside, than off, the end of the great shoal, she could not weather it, and was obliged again to bring up, in six fathoms' water. Here the current was so strong against her, that, although the ship afterwards re-weighed, and continued for a long time to warp with the stream and kedge anchors, the Agamemnon was compelled a second time to bring up, nearly in the spot from which she had last weighed. In the mean time the Polyphemus, by signal, had followed the Edgar; and the Isis steered after the former. Owing to the unskilfulness or unsteadiness of her master, Mr. Alexander Briarly, who had undertaken the office of pilot, the Bellona, in spite of a fair wind and ample room, hugged the Middle Ground too closely, and grounded abreast of, and about 450 yards distant from, the rear of the Danish line. Following closely, the Russel also grounded, with her jib-boom almost over the Bellona's taffrail. In, compliance with the wish of the pilots, each ship had been ordered to pass her leader on the starboard side, from a supposition that the water shoaled on the larboard shore; whereas Captain Hardy had proved, that the water kept deepening all the way to the enemy's line. The Elephant was next to the Russel and Lord Nelson, as soon as he perceived the state of that ship and the Bellona, ordered the helm to be put a-starboard, and passed to the westward, or along the larboard beam, of those ships; as, very fortunately, did all the ships astern of the Elephant.

At the same moment that Lord Nelson's detachment weighed, admiral Parker's eight ships did the same; and the latter took up a new position somewhat nearer to the mouth of the harbour, but still at too great a distance to do more than menace the north wing of defence. A nearer approach, indeed, with both wind and current against the ships, was impracticable; in sufficient time, at least, to render any active service in the engagement.

At 10 A.M. the cannonade commenced; and, for nearly half an hour, the principal British ships engaged were the Polyphemus, Isis, Edgar, Ardent, and Monarch. At about 11 h. 30 m. A.M. the Glatton, Elephant, Ganges, and Defiance, got to their stations ; as did several of the frigates and smaller vessels, and the action became general. The Désirée was of great service in raking the Provesteen, and drawing off a part of her heavy fire from the Polyphemus and Isis; particularly from the latter, who bore the brunt of it, as her heavy loss will presently show. Owing to the strength of the current, the Jamaica, with the gun-vessels, could not get near enough to be of any service in the action ; nor were the bomb-vessels able to execute much. The absence of the Russel, Bellona, and Agamemnon, occasioned several of the British ships to have a greater share of the enemy's fire, than had been allotted to them, or than they were well able to bear. Among the many sufferers on this account

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