1807 - Lord Gambier at Copenhagen


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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1807 British and Danish Fleets 292

the city, in being stated in the gross at about 2000 men, women, and children, was probably, and it is to be hoped it was, greatly exaggerated. Much blame was attached, and apparently with justice, to Major-general Peiman, for not having, when the opportunity was afforded him, sent the women, children, and helpless men out of the city. Humanity would then have had less to deplore on this melancholy occasion. The number of houses wholly destroyed was officially stated at 305, exclusive of one church ; but scarcely a house, it appears, had wholly escaped from the effects of the bombardment, and a second church, that in the citadel, was considerably injured.

The Danish ships in the arsenal, which was an enclosed part of the harbour, had only their lower masts in, but their stores were so admirably arranged in the warehouses, and such was the alacrity of the British seamen in fitting the ships out, that, in nine days, 14 sail of the line were towed from the harbour to the road ; and this, although several of the ships had to undergo considerable repairs, and the scuttle-holes made in their hulls by the Danes, in order to sink them (a measure in their tardiness omitted), had to be closed. According to the Danish papers, the crown prince, while at Kiel, sent Lieutenant Von-Steffen to General Peiman, with orders, in case of being compelled surrender the city, to burn the fleet ; but, having been taken on his way by some patrols belonging to the British army, the lieutenant destroyed his despatches, and arrived at Copenhagen without them.

In the space of six weeks, the three remaining ships of the line, with the frigates and sloops, were removed to the road, and the arsenal and its store-houses cleared of masts, spars, timber, and other naval materials. Of the three 74s on the stocks, two were taken to pieces, and the most useful of their timbers brought off, and the third, being nearly planked up, was sawed in various parts and suffered to fall over. The Mars (blockship) and Dittsmarschen 64s, being old and rotten, were destroyed ; as, for the same reason, were the Triton of 28, and the St. Thomas of 22 guns. This left in the possession of the British, three 80-gun ships,* fourteen 74s, one 64, two 40, six 46 36, and two 32 gun frigates, the names of which will appear in the list of Danish captures at the end of the volume. The remaining vessels were the two 20-gun ships Fylla and Little-Belt, the two 16-gun ship-sloops Elven and Eyderen, the seven 16-bun brig-sloops, Allart, Delphinen, Glommen, Gluckstadt, Mercurius, Ned-Elvin, and Sarpen, the two 14-gun brigs Brevdrageren and Flewende-Fisk, and the 12-gun schooner Ornen. There were also 25 gun-boats.

* In the list at the foot of Admiral Gambier's letter, the Christian VII. is stated to be of " 96 guns ;" but, in reality, she was pierced for no more than 84 guns, namely, 30 on the first deck, 32 on the second, and 22 on the quarterdeck and forecastle.

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