1803 - King of England's message to parliament, Warlike Preparations on Both Sides


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Warlike Preparations on Both Sides 175

The number of commissioned officers and masters, belonging to the British navy at the commencement of the year, was,

Admirals     45
Vice-admirals     36
Rear-admirals     51
Rear-admirals Superannuated 26  
Post-captains     668
Post-captains Superannuated 13  
Commanders, or sloop-captains     413
Commanders, or sloop-captains Superannuated 49  
Lieutenants     2480
Masters     529

And the number of seamen and marines voted for the service of 1803 was, 50,000 for the first two, 60,000 for the next four, and 100,000 for the remaining seven lunar months of it. *

The King of England's message to parliament on the 8th of March, in the impression it made upon the public mind, was nearly tantamount to a declaration of war ; and preparations for carrying it on with vigour were immediately commenced in all the dock-yards of the empire. The State of the British Navy, as it stood on the 1st of January, has already appeared in its proper place, To the 32 line-of-battle cruisers, then in commission, were added, before the 1st of May, 20 additional ones ; and, by the 1st of the following month, the number of ships of the line in commission was augmented to 60, besides a proportionate number of 50-gun ships, frigates, sloops, and smaller vessels, all either at sea or fitting for sea. A great many vessels of every class, including a large proportion of line-of-battle ships, were repairing ; and several frigates, sloops, and schooners, were ordered to be constructed with all possible despatch.

The first-consul of France was not, on his part, inactive. In the month of March he gave orders that the port of Flushing should be got ready to receive and equip a squadron, to be called the " Squadron of the North, " and which was to consist of ten 74-gun ships from Dutch models. This was probably, because they draw less water, in proportion to their rate, than the ships of other nations. The ships thus ordered were immediately to be laid down, part in Flushing and Ostende, and the remainder in ports of France. Gun-vessels and flat-bottomed boats were also to be constructed at every convenient spot along the shores of the Scheldt, the Weser, and the Elbe ; and a quantity of ship-timber, hemp, and other naval stores, to the value of 20,000,000 of francs, was ordered to be immediately purchased in Holland. In testimony, also, of his love for the naval service, Buonaparte, since the 25th of January, 1802, had made his brother Jérôme an enseigne de vaisseau.

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