1801 - Armistice with Denmark


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 Lord Nelson at Copenhagen 73

Thus, the signal to discontinue the action was answered only, not repeated, on board the Elephant; and, although the Defiance repeated it, Rear-admiral Graves would not suffer the signal to be hoisted any where but at the lee maintopsail yard-arm, and still kept No. 16, the signal for close action, flying at the main topgallantmast head. The frigates and sloops now hauled off from the Trekroner batteries, and, by doing so, were probably saved from destruction. It was while unavoidably presenting her stern to those batteries, that the Amazon had her gallant captain shot in two, and sustained the principal part of her loss.

At 1 h. 30 m. P.M. the fire of the Danes slackened; and, at a little before 2 p.m., it ceased along nearly the whole of the line astern of the Zealand. Some of the prames and light vessels had also gone adrift; but few, if any of the vessels, whose flags had been struck, would suffer themselves to be taken possession of. They fired at the boats as the latter approached, and the batteries on Amag island aided them in this irregular warfare. " This arose," says Mr. Southey, " from the nature of the action; the crews were continually reinforced from the shore and fresh men, coming on board, did not inquire whether the flag had been struck, or, perhaps, did not heed it; many, or most of them, never having been engaged in war before, knowing nothing, therefore, of its laws, and thinking only of defending their country to the last extremity. "

At all events it greatly, and very naturally, irritated Lord Nelson; who, at one time, had thoughts of sending in the fire-ships to burn the surrendered vessels. As a preliminary measure, however, his lordship wrote the celebrated letter to the Crown Prince of Denmark, wherein he says : "Vice-admiral Lord Nelson has been commanded to spare Denmark, when she no longer resists. The line of defence which covered her shores has struck to the British flag; but, if the firing is continued on the part of Denmark, he must set on fire all the prizes that he has taken, without having the power of saving the men who have so nobly defended them. The brave Danes are the brothers, and should never be the enemies of the English." A wafer was then given him, but he ordered a candle to be brought from the cockpit, and sealed the letter with wax, affixing a larger seal than he ordinarily used. "This," said his lordship, " is no time to appear hurried and informal."

This letter was carried on shore, with a flag of truce, by Captain Sir Frederick Thesiger (a young commander acting as one of Lord Nelson's aides-de-camp), who found the crown prince at the sallyport. In the mean time the destructive cannonade, still kept up by the Defiance, Monarch, and Ganges, and the near approach of the Defence and Ramillies (the Veteran far astern), silenced the fire of the Indosforethen, Holstein, and the ships next to them in the Danish line. But the great Trekroner, having had nothing but frigates and sloops

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