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than justice to their civil instructor, and to appropriate to thenselves, not only the glory of executing, with consummate skill and valour, an operation which depends above all others for its success on those qualities, but the merit also of having been the first to discover its practicability and importance, and to settle upon scientific principles the conditions on which depended its safety and success.
These feelings, however, we had been led to believe, had long since given way; and, after the first mortification was over-after Clerk's Naval Tactics had become a Manual in the British navy-after the repeated testimony of persons in the highest official stations, and the public admissions of the most illustrious commanders-after the distinct statement in this Journal in the year 1805-after the publication of Professor Playfair's luminous Essay on Naval Tactics in 1821*-the decided testimony of Sir Walter Scott in the Life of Napoleon in 1827– and the undoubting acknowledgment made, as it were, in the name of the profession, in the Introduction contributed to the last edition of Mr Clerk's work, by a Naval officer, who, though he withholds his name, is generally known to be eminently entitled to speak with authority on such a question, both from his own professional learning and judgment, and as connected by his birth with its very highest honours—we certainly thought the matter no longer liable to serious dispute; and were by no means prepared for the revival of the original controversy.
Revived, however, it has been, with more than its original keenness, and in a way which bids fair to attract more of the public attention. It was first set a-going, we think, by some searned discussions, and sceptical remarks, in Admiral Ekins' meritorious but desultory and miscellaneous history of our Naval Battles. This was succeeded by the Statement of Sir Howard Douglas ;t and the discussion, thus once more afoot, has been followed up in a more popular and eager tone, by a very able and elaborate article in No. 83 of the Quarterly Review, to which Sir Howard Douglas has since published a reply, in his Addi
* In the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. ix.
+ This Statement, now circulated as a pamphlet, was first published as an introduction to the second edition of the author's Treatise on Naval Gunnery—a work which reflects great credit upon Sir Howard as a scientific soldier, and which has, indeed, been adopted as a Manual for professional students both abroad and at home. În consequence of the very favourable mention of it by Baron Charles Dupin, in his well-known work on Britain, it was translated into French in 1826, by M. Charpentier, an intelligent officer in the Royal Corps of Marine Artillery in France.
tional Statement, and by some important publications in No. 15 of the United Service Journal. These writers, we are concerned to say, are generally adverse to the claims of Mr Clerk —though so pointedly opposed to each other as mutually to detract from their authority, and respectively to disable their judgment. Sir Howard Douglas, with pardonable and pious partiality, is for giving the whole credit of the suggestion to his gallant father, the late Sir Charles—and in this he is abetted, not only by a large band of naval officers, but by the Editor of the United Service Journal. The Quarterly Reviewer, again, is fierce for Lord Rodney-while Admiral Ekins, whose book embraces a great miscellany of remarks and contributions from various quarters, cannot be said to have any fixed or consistent opinion of his own on the subject, but successively abets the pretensions of all the three candidates—though with a leaning, we think, to Sir Charles Douglas, as against Rodney, and to both or either of these gallant officers, as against the civilian.
In these circumstances-being civilians ourselves—and Scotchmen-being also somewhat disposed, from consistency, to maintain our original opinion, and called on, as lovers of fair play, to take the part which seems least provided with defenders-but above all, being firmly convinced that it is the just and the right part, and that it can be triumphantly and unanswerably proved to be so, with no great trouble, we have felt ourselves called on to buckle on our armour once more in this cause, and now proceed fearlessly to the field, to make it good against all opponents. The proofs which we are prepared to produce, might, no doubt, have been more numerous, if this attempt to unsettle public opinion had been made at an earlier period, when witnesses were alive, and documents accessible that have since disappeared. But we are in no fear of the result, even as the case stands; and unprovided as we were, comparatively, for this unexpected granting of a new trial, we have yet been enabled to collect such evidence as we feel confident will ensure us an unanimous verdict from the country, on which we now put ourselves. The most natural course, we think, for us to follow, is first of all to make out our own case, without any reference to that of our opponents—to lay first before our readers, in one plain and unbroken series, the grounds upon which Mr Clerk's claim to the merit of this discovery seems to us to be incontestably established, and then to consider the pretensions which have been respectively advanced by his competitors. Before doing this, however, it may be proper to dispose of a preliminary matter, which has been revived, we think somewhat unnecessarily, in the recent discussions, and seems to admit of a very summary adjustment,
The question is, as all our readers are aware, whether Mr Clerk had suggested and explained to Admiral Rodney or Sir Charles Douglas, the splendid maneuvre which they put in practice in April 1782, and to which, it is admitted on all hands, that the victory of that day was owing,—or whether one or other of those brave officers had of themselves conceived the idea of that manæuvre, and put it in practice, without being indebted to any one for the suggestion. This is undoubtedly the only question now at issue,-and it being farther admitted, that the manœuvre had not been practised or heard of in the navy, in the memory of any one then in existence, it must seem not a little idle to mix up with this question any enquiry into the absolute originality of the manœuvre, or to perplex it by bringing forward obscure and ambiguous notices of something of the same kind having been practised in the wars between England and Holland, in the time of the Protectorate,-or noticed, as one of the resources of naval warfare, in L'Art des Armées Navales of the Jesuit Paul Hoste, published in 1697. It is certain, that in 1782, no such manœuvre was known, or thought of, in the navy of Great Britain, or of any other country. If it had ever been known before, therefore, it had then been so long forgotten and discredited, that its revival was equal to a new discovery,—and this, indeed, is necessarily assumed, and taken for granted, in the very existence of a controversy, the object of which is to ascertain which of three persons had the merit of discovering or reviving it in that year: Since, to the determination of that question, it is obviously a matter of perfect indifference, whether a similar maneuvre can now be shown to have been practised by Sir George Aiscough in 1658, or commented on by Paul Hoste in 1697. But the truth is, that there is no reason to think that any of the gallant and ingenious persons, whose merits we are now considering, had been anticipated in this respect, by the wisdom or genius of their ancestors; or that the maneuvre of dividing the enemy's line had ever been either practised or contemplated, as it was in 1782, and has been ever since. It is no doubt true, that in the despatches of 1658, and in the accounts of other naval encounters about the same time, incidental mention is made of various of the ships engaged having passed through the body or array of the
adverse squadron. But, as is well observed by one of Admiral Ekins' correspondents or contributors, there is every reason to think that there was no such thing known or observed in that age as a regular line or order of battle,-the practice being, for the strongest or most adventurous of the vessels engaged to charge through the body of the enemy, whenever there seemed an opportunity of doing so with advantage; so that, in the course of a long general action, it often happened that the greater part of both fleets had repeatedly charged and passed through each other, in all the varieties of an irregular and sanguinary melée ; and, at all events, it seems quite certain, that no calculations had ever been made, nor any principles laid down, to determine the nature or character of the advantages to be gained by an attacking squadron bearing down, as it were in column, on the line of an enemy on the defensive, and separating that line into halves, against either of which it might systematically bring the whole of its own force to act. This, however, and this only, is the maneuvre which Mr Clerk discovered and Rodney carried into operation; and this alone, after its principles had been thus scientifically demonstrated and practically explained, is worthy of the name of a discovery or improvement, or of the competition either of naval officers, or of men of genius at land.
With regard again to the worthy Jcsuit, Père Hoste, we think it is plain to demonstration, that he was at least as innocent of the knowledge we now possess, as the valiant captains who are supposed to have anticipated Rodney, in the time of the Protector; and are confident, that no one who peruses his book, will allege that he had even a remote glimpse of the truths, reasons, and demonstrations, on which the discovery of Clerk was founded. He bas, to be sure, a brief section entitled, Traverser l'armée Ennemie, and has referred to several battles, with the Dutch especially, in which the hostile fleets are recorded to bave mutually passed through each other. It is perfectly evident, however, that so far from considering this as à laudable or advisable manæuvre, or being in any degree aware of the peculiar advantages which Mr Clerk has proved to belong to it, he regards it as at all times a very rash and desperate proceeding, and has no notion of its possessing these advantages. He says, indeed, in express terms, (p. 393 of the original folio. edition of 1697,) that it ought never to be adopted, except in one or other of the following cases, -Ist, Where one is compelled to it, to avoid a greater evil : 2d, Where the enemy, by leaving a great gap in their own line, leaves a large part of 'ours without an opponent; or, 3d, Where several of the ene'my's ships are disabled, in which case, it may be advisable to stand across their line, in order to secure and cut them off o from the rest.' He adds immediately after, as a fourth case, that if any of our own ships have been surrounded by the encmy,
may be allowable to cross their line, to relieve them; but * that even then, the greatest precaution should be observed, and in particular, the ships so crossing should keep extremely close to each other, and during the operation should crowd all sail, and not think at all of fighting, while it lasts.'
This, in fact, is the substance of the Reverend Father's observations on crossing the enemy's line; and we leave it to our readers to judge, whether Mr Clerk's Essay can be regarded as a mere amplification, or repetition of them. That the learned Jesuit had not the most distant notion of the actual value and effect of that operation, is demonstrated, indeed, by the tenor of the two immediately preceding sections of his work; one of which is entitled, Forcer les Ennemies au Combat, and the other, Doubler les Ennemies. Now, the true definition of Mr Clerk's maneuvre, corresponds exactly with these titles-and in any treatise which should now be written under these titles, the operation of cutting the line would not only be prominently introduced, but would, in fact, appear almost exclusively and alone. The first great use of the manæuvre undoubtedly is, to force the enemy to battle ; and the means it affords for effecting this, is the power it bestows of doubling up on a part of their line, and either dealing with it on terms of decisive advantage, or compelling the whole to come to close and conclusive action. Yet, in the Jesuit's two chapters on these subjects, this manæuvre of cutting the line is never once alluded to ; and plainly was never dreamed of as a means of accomplishing either of the two objects which these titles express. His only recipe for forcing on an action, is for each ship to mark her opponent in the enemy's line, and to bear down on her in such a parallel as to secure the arrival of the whole dans un bel ordre-comme la figure se fait voir ; and the plate accordingly does show the two lines verging towards each other with the most beautiful regularity. There is scarcely any thing added on the subject, but some directions how to bear up and stretch ahead from the leeward; and an admonition occasionally to detach a few of the best sailers to advance on the enemy's van, and retard them till the rest can come up. The chapter on Doubling on the Enemy, is still more decisive—the only direction for effecting that object being, to leave a part of your rear to take the opposite flank of the enemy, after the rest of your line has ranged fairly along theirs from end to end, on the other flank; an operation which can only be performed with safety, he says, when you outnumber the enemy by so many ships as to leave a disposable tail (queue is the word) for that purpose, after all the rest have been properly fitted with partners : Where there is not this superiority, the manquvre, he says, can only be accomplished by leaving a large gap in a part of your own line, opposite to the weakest part of the enemy's, and in this way getting the said disposable tail to drop behind the extreme rear of the enemy, and then to pass by, or round it—by no means through-and so to run up on the opposite flank from that on which your original line is