|Naval history of Great Britain
||Loss of the Neptunos
On the 20th of October, by which time all the ships and small-craft were out of Copenhagen harbour, the last division of the British army re-embarked, with the utmost quietness and without a casualty ; and on the 21st, in the morning, the British fleet, with the prizes and transports, sailed from Copenhagen road, in three divisions, the first under admiral Gambier in the Prince-of-Wales, the second under Rear-admiral Essington in the Minotaur, and the third under Rear-admiral Sir Samuel Hood * in the Centaur.
In going down the Sound, the prize 80-gun ship Neptunos grounded on a sandbank, about six miles from Copenhagen, and near to the island of Huen. Notwithstanding every exertion, the ship could not be got off, and was ultimately destroyed. According to a previous understanding, the castle of Cronberg abstained from hostilities, and allowed the fleet, which, indeed, kept as much as possible on the Swedish side of the channel, to pass in safety. On entering the Cattegat the weather became boisterous, and led to the destruction of all the Danish gunboats but three. After this, the fleet proceeded without further accident, and, at the close of the month, reached in safety Yarmouth and the Downs.
Many, who could not be persuaded either of the legality, or the expediency, of the attack upon Copenhagen, most readily admitted, that the conductors of the enterprise had performed their task with ability, promptitude, and, in this special case an important requisite, with moderation. Still the affair was not one from which much glory could be reaped. The attacking force, in each branch of it, was greatly superior; and the army alone, with a slight exception (the advanced squadron and the Danish batteries and gun-boats), had any contest to maintain nor did that contest consist of a general action, but simply of a few partial skirmishes. The bombardment could scarcely be called an engagement, as all the loss, and that was most severe, fell upon the besieged ; not a man, as it appears, having been hurt on the side of the British, during the three nights and one day that the bombardment lasted.
Nevertheless, the successful result of the Copenhagen expedition gained, for the army and navy employed in it, the same honorary rewards usually bestowed upon the achievers of the most brilliant victory, the thanks of the British parliament ; but not with the unanimity common on such occasions. Admiral Gambier was raised to the peerage, Lieutenant-general Lord Cathcart promoted from a Scotch to an English peer, Vice-admiral Stanhope, Lieutenant-general Burrard, and Major-general Bloomfield made baronets, and Captain George Ralph Collier of the Surveillante frigate, the bearer of the despatches, a knight.
* This distinguished officer had hoisted his flag on the 18th, as had also, on the same day, Rear-admiral Keats.
^ back to top ^