Bellerophon - Late 1851 to early 1853
She was a 3d Rate sailing ship, 78 guns, launched on 16th October 1818.
In Frederick Amherst's time on board she was commanded by Captain George
By the end of September 1851, she was taken into dock at Portsmouth,
having been commissioned for five years. She "had her copper
overhauled, and received about eight streaks of new copper from her
water line downwards", and was taken out of dock on September
30th, and "hauled alongside the jetty for further refit".
Meanwhile a Lieutenant of the Bellerophon had commissioned pro-temp.
the Hercules,72, store and troop-ship, for navigation to Malta.
On October 14th, the Bellerophon "rebent
sails to-day. She will leave in a few days for the Mediterranean,
convoying the Hercules to Malta to replace the Ceylon as a receiving
ship". On the 17th, she "sailed out of harbour to
Spithead to-day, saluting the flag of Admiral Sir Thomas Brigg, G.C.M.G.,
the Port Admiral".
Both ships reached Gibraltar on November 2d, the Bellerophon being
"8 days from Plymouth" and the Hercules "9 days
from Portsmouth". On the very day of her arrival she sent boats
to assist the British screw steamer Phoebe, than had "ran
aground off the breakwater under the Orange Bastion, on coming into the
bay during high water. (...) The men-of-war's boats had extended an
anchor, and did everything that was possible to get her off, but could
not succeed. A portion of the coals and cargo of the Phoebe was then
discharged, and, by joint assistance of Her Majesty's steamer Janus and
theNile, and the working of an anchor cast from one of Her Majesty's
ships boats and worked on board the Phoebe, the succeeded in getting her
off about 8 o'clock".
The Hercules and Bellorophon arrived at Malta
on November 21st. The Bellerophon joined the Mediterranean Squadron
Life at Malta was not uneventful, as tells this letter published by The
Times on January 2d, 1852 :
"By a letter from the Mediterranean to the 26th of December, we
are informed of great discontent prevailing among the assistant surgeons
of the squadron, owing to the arbitrary conduct of Sir William Pakrer in
depriving sundry of them of their cabins, &c. Measles have broken
out on board the Bellerophon, 78, Captain Lord Paulet, and liberty to go
on shore is prohibited to her crew. at the date of our letter she had
sent two subordinate officers and three boys, labouring under the
disease, to Malta Hospital. A party of liberty-men attacked a sergeant
of marines belonging to the depôt ship Hercules, who was on shore
looking for a straggler, since which marine patrols have been furnished
from the flag-ship Queen, and the Superb and Bellerophon, for the
preservation of peace on shore by men on leave from the squadron. One of
the men of the Queen was found dead under his mess-table on
On January the 24th, the ships at Malta having
been ordered to get ready for sea, the "Bellerophon, Vengeance
and Trafalgar got under weigh, the Admiral having struck his flag from
the Vengeance, and hoisted it on board the Terrible steam-frigate".
The three ships left Malta the same day on a cruise.
On the 1st February, they suffered from a severe gale blowing on the
Mediterranean : "it appears that all felt the gale severely, and
that the loss of one has not to be reported seems almost miraculous. As
the gale commenced, the Trafalgar in running up to her station ran into
the Albion, but fortunately did but little damage ; she left a part of
her jibboom on board, and has, it is said, sprung her foremast, and
carried away the head of her rudder. The Vengeance has lost a gun, and
the Bellerophon, it is also said, has sprung a mast. So much for
a winter cruise".
The Bellerophon rejoined Malta on February 9th, coming into port towed
by the Terrible.
The damage will eventually be thus assessed : "Bellerophon,
foremast rotten". Overall the damage to the squadron was
estimated at "not much less than 20,000l. sterling".
The next month, by March 4th, she was "ordered
to get to sea (and to) get away as soon as possible". She will
be back to Malta in April - stated as one of the ships in port on April
22d. There was time from some merriment, as reported by The Times :
"On Tuesday we had a regatta. On board the flag-ship and the Bellerophon
several guests were invited, and finished the evening by a dance; On the
Bellerophon a marine went to the maintopmast-head; on this one of the
sailors, simply not to be out-done, ran up the rigging to the
maintopmast-head, and thence mounted to the maintruck, where, standing,
he coolly waved his hands and arms about, as fearlessly as if he had
been on terra firma. He then undressed and dressed himself again,
finishing his daring exploit by crawling down the backstays
head-foremost, amid the prolonged and boisterous cheers, not only of his
own messmates, but of the crews of the neighbouring ships. The feat was
a most daring one (the main truck of the Bellerophon - I have it from
Lord Paulett - not being more than a foot), and one perhaps that not ten
men in the fleet could or would perform".
On June 29th the Bellerophon arrived along the
British Mediterranean squadron (under the orders of Rear-Admiral Dundas)
at Gibraltar, where the marines of the different ships were landed and
had a field-day, performing manual and platoon exercises under Lord
George Paulet ; the bands of the Bellerophon and Vengance were in
attendance, and played popular naval airs at the breaking of the
battalion and embarcation. The whole event was much to the pleasure of
the public of Gibraltar : "Altogether it was an extremely
pleasing night (...) we are in hopes that, when the fleet pays us
another visit, we shall have another 'field day' ".
The squadron left on a cruise to the eastward on July 7th. By the 10th
they had reached Malaga.
By August the fleet - and the Bellerophon- were back at Malta, whence it
"was to leave on the 16th for Smyrna".
On the 14th of September, the Bellerophon was taken in tow by the Tiger
when off Falconera.
On December 16th, the Bellerophon was reported as "lying at
anchor in Gibraltar Bay". She was still regularly reported
there until January 16th.
By March 14th the Bellerophon was back to Malta. It's quite likely that
by that time, Naval Cadet Frederick Amherst had already made his way
back to England.
London - August 1853 to March 1854
She was a 2nd Rate sailing ship, 90 guns, launched on 28th September
1840. In Frederick Amherst's time on board she was commanded by Captain
On August 26, 1853, the Hon. F. Amherst was appointed a Midshipman to
the London, 90, at Portsmouth. So he missed out on the review of the
fleet by the Queen, held at Spithead on August 11th.
By August 26th : "The London, 90, Captain Charles Eden,
has had her orders for foreign service countermanded. She will
now join Rear-Admiral Corry's division of the Channel fleet, for which
she will sail on Tuesday, most probably, as her paybooks were returned
from the Admiralty this morning ; her crew will, therefore, most likely
receive their wages on Monday, and then she is ready for sea. The
paddlewheel steamfrigate Magicienne, 16, Captain Fisher, will attend
upon her. Letters by this chance to Rear-Admiral Corry's squadron should
be at the Port Admiral's office on Monday".
The London reached the harbour of Queenstown
(Ireland) on September 14th, in advance of the Spithead squadron. The
Cork Examiner reports :
"The cause of the delay is said to be the dead calm which
prevails, but it is somewhat difficult how a steam fleet could be so
dependent upon the wind. In consequence of directions received from the
Admiralty, Mr. B.Verling, harbour-master, has cleared all the merchant
shipping from the man-of-war roads, and they now lie anchored in a thick
cluster along the shore of Queenstown, and in the direction of Aghads
and the East Ferry. The ships arrived are two line-of-battle ships and a
frigate. On Wednesday about 4 o'clock, the London, 90, Captain
Eden, arrived ; yesterday the Imperieuse, screw, 50, Captain Watson,
steamed in ; and this morning a salute of guns announced the arrival of
the Blenheim, 60, Captain Zelham, answered from the Terrible, bearing
the flag of the Admiral of the port. Upon the arrival of the latter
vessel this morning, the sound of her guns as she came inside the
harbour was almost the first notification that was had of her arrival.
As soon as the squadron from Bantry shall be arrived, it is estimated
the fleet will number 27 sail, line-of-battle ships and frigates. The
squadron under Commodore Martin is expected to arrive first, and to be
followed immediately, if not actually accompanied by,that under the
command of Rear-Admiral Corry".
On September 30th the whole fleet was outside
Quenstown harbour all day in light winds. By October 3d Admiral Corry's
division was "ordered to cruise between Queenstown and Scilly
until the 15th inst., then to return to Spithead".
That Channel affectation won't last long, and inthe afternoon of
November 5th, the London sailed from Spithead from the Mediterranean.
She arrived at Malta on November 27th, and left on December 2nd to join
the fleet in the Bosphorus.
This was a time of rising tension, as the the Russians had destroyed the
Turkish squadron under Osman Pasha at Sinope, on November 30th, 1853.
That attack infuriated the public opinion, and led to the active
involvement of Great-Britain and France.
On December 25th, the British fleet was by the
Bosphorus, at Beicos Bay, and comprised the following ships :
"Britannia (flag), Agamemnon, Queen, Trafalgar, Albion, London,
Rodney, Vengeance, Bellerophon, Sanspareil, Leander, and Arethusa.
Steamers.-Terrible, Sampson, Firebrand, Fury, Inflexible, and Niger".
Frederick Amherst was then very close to his former ship !
The fleet was to combine with the French fleet,
and The Times reports on January 13th :
"On January 3 the combined fleets left Beikos Bay, but anchored
again off Buyukdéré, as the Triton, with the mails, made her number,
and the weather, which had been remarkably fine, changed to a thick mist
with heavy squalls. The Sanspareil, Rodney, and Bayard had reached the
rendezvous, 10 miles from the entrance to the Bosphorus, but were
recalled. On the morning of the 4th the weather had cleared up-it was
quite a calm- when the whole fleet weighed and assembled at the entrance
of the Bosphorus. The ships formed in two columns : - Britannia and
Ville de Paris, Albion and Jupiter, Veangeance and Jena, Sanspareil and
Henri IV, Rodney and Valmy, Bellerophon and Charlemagne, London
and Queen, and five French steamers and seven English ; Leander frigate
looking out a-head.
At 4,30 p.m. signal was made, "Turks are to be protected from all
aggression by sea or land.""
On friday 6th, the fleet anchored in Sinope Bay.
The fleet later left back to the Bosphorus,
leaving only steamers at Sinope - the Admirals thinking it was unwise to
keep sailing ships in the Black Sea at that season. The Times reports on
February 14th :
"The ships are lying at Beicos Bay, both English and French. At
the mouth of the Bosphorus, with seven Turkish line-of-battle ships and
five frigates, guarding the entrance to the Black Sea, are the
Agamemnon, London, Sanspareil, and Highflyer. The Niger is at
Therapia ; the Retribution at the Golden Horn, with Turkish and French
vessels, embarking troops and ammunition for Batoum. Our steam fleet is
to convoy the Turks, Sir E. Lyons in command. His flag is in the
Agamemnon, a splendid vessel, and heavily armed. All the vessels double
shot their guns at sunset, and Moorsom's shells lie conveniently handy
The next month Frederick Amherst's service on board the Bellerophon
would come to an end, and he likely left the ship just before the
beginning of the war with Russia - declared on March 27th 1854.
Royal George - May 1854 to June 1855
She was a 1st Rate sailing ship, 120 guns, launched on 22d September
1827, that had been converted to screw on June 22d 1853. In Frederick Amherst's time on board she was commanded by Captain
Henry John Codrington.
The 1854 Baltic Campaign
The Royal George was already at sea among the Baltic Fleet when
Midshipman Frederick Amherst joined her. As a matter of fact she had
sailed from Spithead on March 11th. Commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir
Charles Napier, the Fleet reached Wingo Sound, off Sweden, by March
19th, anchoring off Kiel by the 27th. The fleet then reached Kjöge
Bayon April 12th. On the April 16th, the battleships, among which was
the Royal George, left towards Hangö and Sweaborg. What about
Frederick Amherst will you ask ? Reinforcements were brought in, and for
instance, it was reported, that on May 15th, "the steam-frigate
Penelope, 30 guns, arrived (in Copenhagen) with 60 officers and 30
midshipmen, for distribution among the fleet".
Some news of the Royal George by that time -
from the Times, May 13th :
"A melancholy circumstance has occured on board the Royal
George, 120. Lieutenant H.Freeland, the junior subaltern of the
Royal Marines was found dead in his bed on the morning of the 25th ult.,
although on the previous night he retired to his cabin in perfect health.
His death wascaused by a sudden attack of epilepsy, from fits of which
he had prevously suffered.
The Royal George and Caesar ran into each other during the night
of the 19th. Fortunately, the only damage sustained by the collision was
the staving in of their respective quarter-boats. Charts of the Gulf of
Bothnia have been supplied to the various ships. (...)"
The fleet sailed for some days "in the
vicinity of the Island of Gottska-Sandoe". After receiving
provisions from the transport Holyrood, the fleet proceeded in a
northward direction on May 16th.
"On the 17th Rear-Admiral Corry was detached from the fleet on
particular service, taking under his orders the weather column,
comprising his flagship the Neptune, 120 ; Monarch, 84 ; Boscawen,70 ;
Prince Regent, 90; and Cmberland, 70; together with the James Watt, 91,
of the center column; the Royal George, 120, and the Ajax, 58, of
the lee column".
By June 13th the French fleet joined the
British one and anchored in Baro sound. The combined fleet moved next
towards Cronstadt : "On the morning of the 22d inst., the rear
squadron of the English division, under the orders of Rear-Admiral Chads
- comprising the Edinburgh, 58, 58, Captain Hewlett ; Cressy, 80,
Captain R.L.Warren ; Caesar, 91,Captain J. Robb; Royal George,
120, Captain Codrington ; Nile, 91, Commodore Martin, C.B. ; and
Majestic, 80, Captain James Hope, C.B.- steamed out of Baro sound,
followed by the centre squadron (...)".
By the 24th the fleet was at anchor off Seskar. Some ships were detached
to look out for dreaded floating "infernal machines" (a
threat that did not materialize bythen), and by the 29th, most of the
fleet (iincluding the Royal George) was anchored "about 10 miles
to the westward of Cronstadt".
The expected fight against an unwilling Russian
fleet was not to take place, and the
fleet retreated, wisely but much to the dismay of a heated public.
The reason for such a retreat was much commented, as for instance in The Times of
July 18th :
"The retrograde movement from Cronstadt was most unexpected ; but
most probably was made by the view of arresting the progress of the
epidemic which prevailed in most of the ships, and which upto the
present date, the 7th, although it has in many instances assumed a
milder form, has not yet ceased its ravages. Some fatal cases on board
the Majestic and Royal George have taken place within the last
two days. (...)".
Cholera had indeed broken out in the fleet, that went to anchor in Baro
Sound (West of Sweaborg, still in the Gulf of Finland), on July 6th.
On July 13th, the fleet departed from Baro
Sound, the English fleet forming order on reaching the offing, the Royal
George taking place in the Lee Line. On the 21st inst. the whole of the
English ships were ordered to prepare for sailing, but the ordered was
annulled for part of the ships, including the Royal George. Those formed
order of sailing under Commodore Martin's orders the next day, the Royal
George taking place in the Port Division, and sailed towards Hango. the
island was sighted on the morning of the 24th. Some excitement happened,
as "the Royal George was ordered to proceed in chase of a
schooner which appeared in the offing. On boarding her, she proved to be
a Danish trader Anette Cathrina, from London, laden with supplies of
various descriptions for private sale to the fleet".
Commodore Martin's division then blockaded Revel and Port Baltic.
In August more news from the Royal George are
reported by The Times :
"A most melancholy accident has occured to lieutenant Bond, of
the Royal George. He was on shore with some of his messmates, one
of whom, a subaltern of marines, had a revolver, which was accidentally
discharged, the contents lodging in the side of Lieutenant Bond,
injuring the spine, thereby causing paralysis of the lower extremities.
The unfortunate officer was conveyed on board his ship with all possible
despatch,but surgical aid proved unavailing, and, after forty-eight
hours' intense suffering, he breathed his last, and was buried on the
forenoon of the 10th inst. at Nargen."
By september 12th the Royal George still at
Revel Bay, the squadron being then commanded by Admiral Plumridge:
"The boats of the fleet had been engaged laying down buoys,
taking bearings and distaces preparatory to an attackbeing made on
Revel. They were only waiting for Sir Charles Napier".
On the day before a medical survey had been holden on board the Royal
George, and "several patients were invalided, and transferred to
the steam transport Holyrood, for passage to England" - where
they arrived on September 26th.
Meanwhile by the 21st the squadron and the Royal george were still
reported as anchored at Revel Bay.
Winter looming in, Napier sent the fleet to
Kiel on September 27th - only to be sent on October 4th an order of the
Admiralty intimating him to consider an attack on Sweaborg. That order
was partly given to please a public opinion eager for more action.
The Royal George reached Kiel harbour -where the fleet
gathered- on October 26th,
whence some sick patients were invalided and transferred to the
Rhadamanthus steam sloop for passage to England.
The Times of October 28th announces : "The period at which it is essential as a matter of
safety for the fleet to withdraw from the insecure anchorages in
the gulf of Finland has arrived. During the heavy gales which have
recently prevailed, although the ships have sustained no particular
damage, yet many of them have lost their anchors and cables. Their
proceeding to some safe harbour until the formation of the ice compels
them to withdraw altogether from the enemy's coasts is now both prudent
The Royal George was first appointed to winter
It was then announced that the Royal George's orders to proceed home had
been countermanded, and that she was to go to Cherbourg to embark troops
for the Black Sea. By early December, it was announced that she was
"ordered to Cork, to embark 600 rank and file and 100 tons of
stores for the Black Sea".
The Royal George and the fleet weree still at Kiel
the inaction (for no attack on Sweaborg happened), combined with contradictory announcements may have
shortened her Captain's temper : a court-martial was held aboard the
Royal George on December 2d :
"Some few days since ,when on shore, Lieutenant-Colonel Nolloth,
Royal Marines, of the Blenheim, on meeting captain Codrington, did not
pay him that respect to which, as a Post-Captain of 1836, that officer
considered himself entitled. Captain Codrington requested
Lieutenant-Colonel Nolloth his reasons for not according the courtesy
due to one his superior in rank. The Lieutenant-Colonel's explanation
not being satisfactory to Captain Codrington, he reported the
circumstance to the Commander-in-Chief, who ordered the Marine officer
to be placed under arrest. Lieutenant-Colonel Nolloth, feeling himself
aggrieved, requested that the matter should be referred to the decision
of the usual tribunal, and in accordance with that desire a
court-martial was ordered to take place on board the Royal George.
Evidence in support of the charge having been submitted, the Court,
having heard what the prisoner had to offer in his defence, after some
deliberation, decided the charge to be proven, and adjudged
Lieutenant-Colonel Nolloth to be slightly admonished. (...)
That the matter should have been made the subject of a public inquiry is
much to be regretted, if it should tend to decrease that good feeling
which it is essential to preserve between the officers of the navy and
the Royal Marine corp."
The chief division of the English fleet
eventually left Kiel on December 7th, the Royal George being ordered to
proceed to Sheerness. She reached the Great Nore on December 18th at
11:30 a.m. : "she saluted the Commander-in-Chief's flag, and
anchored there, the wind at the time blowing a strong gale, with the
barometer down to 23.35, with heavy rain. Moorings are ready prepared
for her when the weather permits her making the harbour".
She took up "moorings on the south shore up Sheerness harbour,
near Blackstakes" on the 20th.
Two days before Napier had reported to the Admiralty, where after heated
exchanges he was asked to strike his flag.
The Royal George had taken no active part in
the few actions and raids conducted by the fleet - one has to consider
that a ship-of-the-line is not the best suited for action in gulfs and
sounds. The objective though of blockading the Russian fleet was
Wintering at Sheerness
New annoucements re.the Royal George move were
reported in The Times on December 23d :
"It is ordered that the crews of (...) (the) Royal George
are to be paid wages due to them to-day, if possible. (...). The Royal
George is ordered to be cut don to a two-decker, in consequence of
her rolling propensities at sea. During the time she has been out she
has had to send her lower deck guns down in the hold to stiffen her, and
even when the crew have all been at general quaretrs, on their shifting
over fromside to side, she has taken from six to seven degrees' careen
over. For greater convenience, it is expected that all her guns will be
put on board some of the ships now lying at Sheerness in ordinary, to
facilitate their being taken on board again when she has been made ready
to receive them. she will hereafter carry all her guns of the heaviest
calibre, with the large swivel traversing pivot-guns, of 95cwt., on her
So much for her transporting troops to the Crimea ! On December 23d, she
"steamed down to the docking moorings, where she will remain
until next spring tides. Her crew have (...) leave (...)".
On January 1st 1855, it was announced that part
of the crew of the Royal George was to be draughted to the Nankin,
"on their return from their leave on the 16th inst.".
On January 3rd it was announced that her crew was "to be hulked
on board the Wellington, ordinary victualling depot."
That day she was "warped into the fitting basin, Sherness (...)
The shipwrights are busily taking her poop deck off."
On January 5th the order to convert the Wellington to a hulk for the
crew of the Royal George was naturally "countermanded, and the
Bentow, receiving ship for Russian prisoners of war, is ordered to be
paid off, and the crew of the Royal George are to change over to
her to-day. The Admiralty have decided on taking all the upperdeck guns
out of this ship,and she will in the future carry two pivot traversing
guns (Lancaster's improved) on her upper flush deck. She will then be
what is technically called a three-deck ship with all the men housed in
time of action".
Prospects of another campaign prompted to the
hastening of the works, and The Times annouced on February 3rd : "A
number of additionnal artificers, &c., have been put on the Royal
George, 120 guns, and the Majestic, 80 guns, to expedite their
equipment by the 1st of March".
On February 15th : "The Royal George,120, is now
all-a-taunt in No.1 dry dock, Sheerness, and the last act is being
performed, -viz. refitting lower and topmast and topgallant ratlines".
On February 26th, the fleet to be despatched to the Baltic was announced,
now under the command of "Rear-Admiral of the Blue, the Hon.
Richard Saundars Dundas, C.B." ; for the first time the Royal
George was now qualified as "102".
The Royal George was under orders to be at
Spithead by the 4th of March, but it was reported on the next day that
"in consequence of the waste-pipe in the starboard side bursting,
she is to leave to-day. In every other respect she is ready for
immediate service, having shells, ammunition, &c., on board".
She eventually left Sheerness on March 8th, "under steam power,
at 2.30 p.m., for Portsmouth, having repaired the deffect and damage to
her starboard waste pipe".
On March 10th, 1855, the Times could eventually announce :
"The Royal George, 102, screw ship, Captain Codrington,
C.B., arrived at Spithead yesterday, from the Nore, and joined the fleet".
The 1855 Baltic Campaign
It would still take some time for the fleet
to sail to the Baltic ; meanwhile the ships stayed at anchor at
Spithead, the Royal George being moored "West - Looking East".
The fleet left on April 3d. On that day On that day an editorial from
The Times reflected on its leaving - and its composition :
"This afternoon the shores of the Solent will witness one of the
great spectacles in which England is once more at home. A portion of the
fleet, consisting of more than thirty vessels of war, and including a
dozen sail of the line, will start to occupy the Baltic,to blockade
every inlet and port of the CZAR, and, if possible, find some vulnerable
point of his triple granite and iron. At any time the sight of so many
huge machines, sent out with the message to kill and destroy, may well
subdue the most frivolous. even a naval review, with its mimic thunders
and its programme of triumphs, becomes a scene of horror exactly in
proportion as we realize its true import. What we may see to-day,
however, is ambitiously and industriously grander, sterner, grimmer,
more real, and more deadly, than any like spectacle on these or any seas.
The Baltic fleet of this year is in all respects much stronger than the
last ; it has more steam power, more guns, a new class of gunboats and
floating batteries, adapted for creeks and shoals, and, what more than
anything marks a resolution to do something - a new commander.Sir
CHARLES NAPIER has ceased to command the Baltic fleet, not from any
deficiency in skill, in courage, or temper, but simply because he did
less than the British people expected to see done. We have ourselves
been ever ready to do justice to his actual achievements, which are not
to be denied or depreciated ; but, when we send out the finestfleet in
the world, we naturally expect it to do more than shut in a third-rate
naval Power, and assist an army to destroy an unfinished fort. The new
commander,Admiral DUNDAS, has before him the services of Admiral NAPIER,
and, whatever his instructions, if any, no doubt he knows that he has to
do more than Admiral NAPIER. If he does not accomplish more, he will
certainly find himself next November ordered to lower his flag, with
small prospect of ever hoisting it again. Such is the mission of the
fleet the QUEEN sends this day on its fatal errand. It is to attempt
more, to run more risk, to follow further and closer, to care less for
losing ships and men, and rather more for inflicting losses and
disgraces on the enemy. In a word the force is stronger and the duty
more terrible than last year ; and if the scene to-day should attract a
smaller crowd of gazers than last year, they will doubtless see it less
as a hollyday spectacle, and more as an operation of war.
We certainly had wished that after last year's experience we should have
less of such floating castles as the Duke of Wellington and the Royal
George, and rather more of the gunboats and other small craft, on
which we must mainly rely in our offensive operations. (...) Without
inquiry, and, as a matter of course, we have been making our ships larger
and larger, when inquiry might have suggested that they should have been
smaller and smaller. Were it, indeed, the waves alone we had to deal
with, could we fight out every quarrel on the wide ocean, had we always
to chase huge fleets from one hemisphere to another, and fight over
again for ever,as in the old mythology, every battle ever fought with
American frigate or Spanish three-decker, there is no doubt as to the
excellence of the type we seem to have adopted. But the actual state of
things is far otherwise. Like some strong impetuous animal, we seem to
miss our object by running ahead of it. We have to deal with shallow
waters and granite walls, and find ourselves too gigantic for the petty
warfare, and, giants though we are, we are so far baffled. No doubt we
have improved on last year ; but,unless there is a large supply of the
smaller craft, adapted for the shallow waters of the Baltic, we shall
only reiterate an inglorious campaign with even less glory than before.
On April 17th we learn that "the Thistle gunboat, Lieutenant D.
Spain, tender to the Royal George, has arrived at Sheerness, from
Greenhithe, to wait orders", and that "the Phoenix
screw steamloop, Commander John M. hayes, has left Sheerness for the
Baltic direct, taking under her charge for towing, as required, the
Starling gunboat, tender to the Royal George, and the Redwing
gunboat, tender to the Nile".
The fleet left the Downs at 7 a.m. on April
9th, "under plain sail with a moderate breeze from the W.N.W.
quarter, each ship weighing anchor in the order denoted by signal from
the flagship of theCommander-in-Chief". The Royal George took
place in the Weather Division of the fleet - each division being
preceded by a paddle-steamer.
After a voyage qualified as "not (...) remarkable for any
features of peculiar interest", the fleet, on
April 19th, "came in sight of Kiel harbour (...), in the
forenoon, and by 3 o'clock in the afternoon they had all anchored off
Bellevue. (...) The Nile and the Royal George were the
first to cast anchor, when the English and French Consuls went on board
the former ; they were received with a salute of seven guns."
"The same evening that the fleet arrived many officers came
ashore on leave for 12 hours; and the following day, after the men had
had their dinners, they flocked into the town in still greater numbers."
The fleet was still "lying quietly in Kiel harbour" on
the 22d, the Royal George lying "the nearest to the town".
A correspondant from The Times reported about
the next moves of the fleet in May (published on May 16th) :
"The part of the Baltic fleet collected at Kiel, consisting of
the Duke of Wellignton, bearing the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, the
Exmouth, with the flag of Admiral Seymour, second in command, the Nile,
the Royal George, Cressy, Caesar, Blenheim, James Watt,Ajax,
Hogue, Edinburgh, Majestic, Colossus, Merlin, Lightning, Locnat, and two
gunboats in tow of the Dragon, left that secure harbour on the morning
of the 3d, and proceeded, under steam, down the beautiful inlet, with
the land on either side covered with woods and green fields, like the
banks of a river. By 9 a.m. we had reached the open sea, and the
flagship made a signal to form in two columns of sailing, which soon
stretched their lengths across the water almost from horizon to horizon.
When this was done another signal unfurled itself- "Stop steaming,
up screws, and try rate of sailing, carrying all possible sail."
There was very little wind, and even that died away in about an hour,
leaving us motionless ; so we were obliged to furl our sails and
commence steaming again. After steering due east until 3 p.m., the
course was altered to east-south-east, and, in case any ship should by
accident part company with the rest during the night, a rendezvous was
appointed 10 miles east of Faro lighthouse. In the evening the Conflict
arrived with despatches from the advanced squadron for the
Commander-in-Chief. The squadron is cruising between Port-Baltic and
Dagerort. The Conflict reports the Gulf of Finland almost free of ice as
far up as Baro Sound, and that it is rapidly breaking up beyond that. At
5 a.m. on the 4th,after being under easy steam all night, a fine, but
bitterly cold, breeze sprang up from the north. The engines were again
stopped and all sails made, but the poor blochships were being so left
behind they were obliged to have recourse to their screws for assistance,
and even then kept station with the rest with difficulty. At 9 30 a.m.
the fleet went to general quarters for exercise - it is always the
custom of the service to do so on Friday mornings. Each ship fired at
the same time, the two columns appeared to be engaging each other,
forming a magnificent spectacle which threw Spithead reviews into the
shade. By 11 o'clock the wind had again nearly forsaken us, and the
little that remained was getting adverse, so the Flag signallized "Get
up steam, fur sails, and alter course to E.N.E." At 3 p.m. we came
in sight of the pretty little island of Bornholm, and passed between it
and the main-land before sunset.
May 5.- Saturday, on board a man-of-war, is the most uncomfortable of
all uncomfortable days. Like in all well-conducted houses on shore, it
is a day given up to general cleaning ; the men discard their shoes and
stockings, tuck up their trousers over their knees,and at early dawn
commence such ascrub, wash, and holystoning, as cannot be seen anywhere
else. The discomfort complained of by the Scotch bard on a washing day
was insignificant compared to a Saturday forenoon on board a ship; he
could get outside the house into the fields to growl and escape the
noise and splash, but here you can't escape - everybody growls,
everybody grumbles, even the dull sound of the holystones makes you believe they
are grumbling too. Every one tries to hide himself away, for, should any
unhappy "dry iddler" have the temerity to trust himself on a
deck, he is sure to come in the way of a hose like a fire engine's,
accidentally pointed that way at the moment, while the man
holding it begs his pardon with a broad grin, and tips a sly wink to his
messmates, or he will have a shower-bath over his shoulders through the
gratings of the deck above, and the satisfaction of hearing (rather late)
a warning to those below to get out of the way. We had been under steam
all night, and about mid-day came in sight of the lighthouse on the
south point of the island of Gothland,along the east side of which we
passed,and anchored on Sunday morning, at 9 30 a.m., about five miles
from Faro, the blockships Edinburgh, Blenheim, Hogue, and Ajax going
into the harbour, while the others remained outside. The Caesar's
engines broke down in the morning, and she was ordered to cruise about
under sail until they were repaired, as it would be dangerous for her to
be caught among these shoals and rocksby any gale if she anchored,
unless they were in order. We found lying here eight or ten colliers,
seven gunboats, the Arrogant (with about 20 cases of smallpox), the
Desperate, the Magicienne, the Cuckoo, and the Princess Royal. The
latter has met with a sad accident, which was nearly sending her to the
bottom. She ran upon a rock going into Faro harbour. She got off with
some difficulty, and lashed alongside another ship to prevent her
sinking. She is not injured so much, however, but she can be repaired
out there. The Commander-in-Chief shifted his flag into the Merlin, and
proceeded to examine her immediately after the fleet had anchored. All
communication with the Arrogant has been forbidden.
May 7. - Two small trading vessal laden with hemp arrived here this
morning ; they are prizes to the Geyser, who captured them off Riga. The
Driver also arrived with despatches from the flying squadron to the
Commander-in-Chief ; she left them last night cruising off Dageport
"all well." We have beautiful weather ; only one slight shower
since leaving Kiel ; the thermometer at mid-day in the shade ranges
May 8. - This morning a Swedish frigate entered Faro harbour. In passing
by the Duke of Wellington she manned her rigging and gave three hearty
cheers, saluting also with 13 guns, which were returned with the same
number by the Duke. The fleet is to sail this afternoon, most likely for
Baro Sound. A signal has just been made, "Opportunity for letters
to Engalnd to-day." The Driver will take them to Dantsic."
The fleet layed at anchor for some days off
Nargen for a few days, a place they left by May 26th (a departure
delayed for 4 days by the fog), and "after a two days' cruise,
anchored again about 16 miles below Cronstadt".
The British fleet was joined by the French one on June 1st, "and
were saluted with 21 guns by the Duke of Wellington ; all the English
ships flying the French flag at the main."
Admiral Dundas went on reconnoitring the waters around Cronstadt.
Several Russian transports laden with stones for fortification were
captured, and sunk with their cargo.
A siege of Cronstadt being considered, the size
of the ship-of-the-lines again was proving a problem : "the
ships of which (the allied fleets) are composed are quite ineffective so
far as relates to the bombardment of the enemy's forts, in consequences
of their great draught of water. Not one of the larger class can
approach the north side of Cronstadt nearer than two and a half miles, a
distance tan times too great for the heaviest shot they can throw to
produce any impression on the batteries".
The presence of "Infernal machines" and torpedoes "which
were last year looked upon as myths, have turned out to be realities,
sown over every yard of ground over which the first division of the
fleet is anchored".
By the 21st of June 1855, the Royal George was among the second
division, "anchored as a reserve in mid-channels".
This period marks the end of midshipman
Frederick Amherst's career on board the Royal George, and, it seems in
the Royal Navy.
There was eventually no attack by the combined fleets on Cronstadt -
though Sweaborg would be attacked on August 9th.
Sailor to Hussar
We meet Frederick Amherst again almost three
years later, the London Gazette announcing on May 14th 1858 :
"14th Light Dragoons.-Hon. Frederick Amherst to be
Cornet,without purchase, vice Phillips, promoted to the 18th Light
By that time the 14th Light Dragoons had been
heavily engaged in the Central India campaign. I do not know when and
how Cornet Amherst joined his regiment, but it seems he was not to take
part in the operations, as denoted by his not being awarded the Indian
Mutiny Medal. The regiment was ordered to England in March 1859 - an
order that was countermanded in May -and eventually embarked at Bombay,
to reach Plymouth and be transshipped to Newbridge, Ireland, in June
The 14th Light Dragoons were converted to
Hussars on August 17th 1861.
In May 1862 the regiment left Ireland to get to Manchester and around.
Frederick Amherst purchased his Commission as a Lieutenant on October
"Four silver dessert-stand (oak pattern)" were offered to the
officers' mess by Lieutenant Mather and Amherst, and captain Digby
In May 1864, the 14th Hussars went to Aldershot.
Hon. Frederick Amherst was gazetted Captain "by
vice Cecil Frederic Hobbler, who retires" on December 30th 1864.
On June 7th, 1865, he was presented by Lord Sydney to the Prince of
Wales at the Levée held at St. James's Palace.
On May 14th, 1866, he attended the annual regimental dinner at Willis's
Rooms, King-Street, St.James's. Among the officers present was also Cornet
George Robert Elwes.
In May 1867 the regiment left for Edinburgh and
outquarters ; Captain Amherst's troop, 'H' troop, went with headquarters
to Piershill Barracks, Edinburgh. The next year, they left back for
Ireland, the scond Division ('A' and 'H' troops), undr Major Chadwick,
reaching Newbridge on May 13th 1868. In November, a wing under Major
Cahpman, consisting of 'B', 'E', 'H' and 'K' troops went by rail from
Dublin to Cork. They returned by march route after the parliamentary
elections, reaching Dublin on the 15th December.
From the 1st April 1869 the Squadron system was
introduced into the British Cavalry. Captain Amherst commanded the 4th
Squadron, with Captain the Hon. J. St. V. Saumarez as a Second in
command. One year later, the Squadron system was abolished and the Troop
system reintroduced. In July 1870, the regiment was sent to Cahir and
out-stations, 'H' Troop going to Clogheen.
They changed stations again in 1871, Captain
Amherst's 'H' troop going with Captain Beaumont's 'B' trrop from Cahir
to Cork. The 1872 regimental Challenge Cup presented by Captain
J.M.Lefroy (for leigth weight) was won by his horse
On July 5th 1872, 'H' troop under Captain Amherst took up the vedette
duty on the Curragh Camp in relief of a troop of the 8th Hussars.
Another troop of the 14th Hussars took that duty over on January 1st
1873, and 'H' troop joined the remainder of the regiment at Newbridge.
In April 1874 his horse "Prince
George" (11st., 8lb.), mounted by Mr. Kevil Davies, took part in
the Irish Military Steeple-chase. Rated 6 to 1, it was
not happy : "The lead was held for a short time by Bertram,
followed by Waterford and Prince George into the course, where the last
named went to the fore. This position he held over the hill, where
Waterford went to the front, was not again headed, and won in a canter
by ten lengths" - "Prince George" not even eventually
finishing in the top three.
The regiment moved from Ireland back to Aldershot in May 1874, Captain
Amherst being in command of the second divisions, consisting of 'H' and
'K' troops, and embarking in SS.Windsor at North Wall, Dublin, on May
22d, for Birkenhead, and proceeding by route to Aldershot.
During the 1874 Aldershot summer manoeuvres, he
was appointed baggage-master to the Cavalry Brigade of the 1st Division.
He will hold the same appointment to the Cavalry Brigade in the 1875
Aldershott summer manoeuvres.
Frederick Amherst attended the levée held by the Prince of
Wales at St. Jamles's Palace on April 26th 1875.
On July 26th 1875, 'A', 'B', 'C', 'H' and 'K' troops marched to
Colchester, arriving on July 31st. There the regiment received orders to
prepare for embarkation for India.
On December 17th, 1875, he retired from the
Service, "receiving the value of his commission".
The 14th Hussars sailed for India on board the troopship Euphrates on
January 5th 1876.
Frederick Amherst was commissioned a Lieutenant
in the West
Kent Yeomanry on February 26 1876. He resigned
that appointment on February 16th, 1881.
He died on March 15th, 1895, in Montreal, Sevenoaks, Kent.