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The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence von Mahan, A. T. Mahan (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 16.08.2016
  • Verlag: anboco
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The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence

The contents of this volume were first contributed as a chapter, under the title of 'Major Operations, 1762-1783,' to the 'History of the Royal Navy,' in seven volumes, published by Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, and Company, under the general editorship of the late Sir William Laird Clowes. For permission to republish now in this separate form, the author has to express his thanks to the publishers of that work. In the Introduction following this Preface, the author has summarized the general lesson to be derived from the course of this War of American Independence, as distinct from the particular discussion and narration of the several events which constitute the body of the treatment. These lessons he conceives to carry admonition for the present and future based upon the surest foundations; namely, upon the experience of the past as applicable to present conditions. The essential similarity between the two is evident in a common dependence upon naval strength. There has been a careful rereading and revision of the whole text; but the changes found necessary to be made are much fewer than might have been anticipated after the lapse of fifteen years. Numerous footnotes in the History, specifying the names of ships in fleets, and of their commanders in various battles, have been omitted, as not necessary to the present purpose, though eminently proper and indeed indispensable to an extensive work of general reference and of encyclopædic scope, such as the History is. Certain notes retained with the initials W.L.C. are due to the editor of that work. A.T. MAHAN.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 500
    Erscheinungsdatum: 16.08.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783736410565
    Verlag: anboco
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The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence

Attack on Fort Moultrie in 1776

Parker's plan was that the two 50's, Bristol and Experiment , and two 28-gun frigates, the Active and the Solebay , should engage the main front; while two frigates of the same class, the Actæon and the Syren , with a 20-gun corvette, the Sphinx , should pass the fort, anchoring to the westward, up-channel, to protect the heavy vessels against fire-ships, as well as to enfilade the principal American battery. The main attack was to be further supported by a bomb-vessel, the Thunder , accompanied by the armed transport Friendship , which were to take station to the southeast of the east bastion of the engaged front of the fort. The order to weigh was given at 10.30 A.M., when the flood-tide had fairly made; and at 11.15 the Active , Bristol , Experiment , and Solebay , anchored in line ahead, in the order named, the Active to the eastward. These ships seem to have taken their places skilfully without confusion, and their fire, which opened at once, was rapid, well-sustained, and well-directed; but their position suffered under the radical defect that, whether from actual lack of water, or only from fear of grounding, they were too far from the works to use grape effectively. The sides of ships being much weaker than those of shore works, while their guns were much more numerous, the secret of success was to get near enough to beat down the hostile fire by a multitude of projectiles. The bomb-vessel Thunder anchored in the situation assigned her; but her shells, though well aimed, were ineffective. "Most of them fell within the fort," Moultrie reported, "but we had a morass in the middle, which swallowed them instantly, and those that fell in the sand were immediately buried." During the action the mortar bed broke, disabling the piece.

Owing to the scarcity of ammunition in the fort, the garrison had positive orders not to engage at ranges exceeding four hundred yards. Four or five shots were thrown at the Active , while still under sail, but with this exception the fort kept silence until the ships anchored, at a distance estimated by the Americans to be three hundred and fifty yards. The word was then passed along the platform, "Mind the Commodore; mind the two 50-gun ships,"-an order which was strictly obeyed, as the losses show. The protection of the work proved to be almost perfect,-a fact which doubtless contributed to the coolness and precision of fire vitally essential with such deficient resources. The texture of the palmetto wood suffered the balls to sink smoothly into it without splintering, so that the facing of the work held well. At times, when three or four broadsides struck together, the merlons shook so that Moultrie feared they would come bodily in; but they withstood, and the small loss inflicted was chiefly through the embrasures. The flagst aff being shot away, falling outside into the ditch, a young sergeant, named Jasper, distinguished himself by jumping after it, fetching back and rehoisting the colours under a heavy fire.

In the squadron an equal gallantry was shown under circumstances which made severe demands upon endurance. Whatever Parker's estimate of the worth of the defences, no trace of vain-confidence appears in his dispositions, which were thorough and careful, as the execution of the main attack was skilful and vigorous; but the ships' companies, expecting an easy victory, had found themselves confronted with a resistance and a punishment as severe as were endured by the leading ships at Trafalgar, and far more prolonged. Such conditions impose upon men's tenacity the additional test of surprise and discomfiture. The Experiment , though very small for a ship of the line, lost 23 killed and 56 wounded, out of a total probably not much exceeding 300; while the Bristol , having the spring shot away

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