The Grand Review - The Fleet At Spithead
The tremendous exhibition Wednesday last, is an event in a nation's history to which the Olympiads of old offer but a feeble comparison. Lofty and powerful as is the position of this empire its might was never more clearly demonstrated than in the great display we are about to record. Old England, in 1856, is still the mistress of the deep - the one great empire whose supremacy wherever the ocean rolls is uncontrollable and undisputed.
To fully appreciate this proud mastery, we have but to consider for a moment the gigantic armament which covered the waters of Portsmouth from land to land. There assembled at the Sovereign's bidding no less than 26 screw line-of-battle ships ; nearly 40 frigates, paddle and steam ; 2 mortar frigates; 4 wrought-iron floating batteries ; 50 13-inch mortar vessels ; 20 sloops, corvettes, and brigs ; and 164 screw gun boats ; in all upwards of 300 sail of men-of-war, having an aggregate tonnage of 150,000 tons, manned by 40,000 seamen, carrying 3,800 guns, and firing at one discharge a broadside of nearly 90 tons of solid iron. It seems almost monstrous to think that such a fleet should have been assembled only to be dispersed again - that we should, while a war was raging, have been short of vessels for its proper conduct, and only when a peace was declared have been able to take the sea in a manner worthy of the chief maritime power of the earth. But perhaps the "moral effect," about which we always hear so much and see so little, may in this case be really something. Pity there were no American frigates in the Sound on Wednesday.
DEPARTURE OF HER MAJESTY FROM LONDON.
The London stations of the South-Western Railway were the scene of great excitement. While the morn was yet grey, the vicinity of the terminus in Waterloo-road was in a commotion, owing to the thousands of persons which literally besieged this place of departure. Trains, each following the other in succession, and all apparently surcharged, were despatched as early as five o'clock. Peers and commoners, regardless each of his position and state, or quality, were there intermingled in one only object - the obtaining a position in the train whereby to be conveyed to the place of embarkation. Coroneted (sic) carriages, private phaetons, and numbered cabs, were converging to the one common centre to such an extent that scores of persons were momentarily passing into the station. At one time there were upwards of 2,000 vehicles of different descriptions at the terminus and along the Waterloo-road; in fact, so crowded was the thoroughfare, that it was impossible for anything like one-half of the carriages to drive into the court yard of the station. The Foreign Ambassadors appearing in their official costume, excited some degree of admiration and amusement to the bystanders. Upon reaching the platform scene almost indescribable presented itself, and how the morning passed off without some dreadful accident seems surprising. Ladies and gentlemen, regardless of the danger, never hesitated for a moment in crossing the metals whilst the trains were being made up. Precisely at five o'clock the first train was started. This indeed was a "monster train." In a quarter of an hour afterwards another equally large as the former was started, filled with company and at each succeeding quarter of an hour up to eight o'clock other trains left the terminus. In addition to the above, a special train left at 6.45, containing the Cabinet Ministers and Foreign Ambassadors. At seven o'clock another special train, containing the members of the Houses of Peers and Commons started ; amongst the number several distinguished members of both houses were missing, but upon making inquiries it was ascertained that they had left the terminus the previous day. It had been arranged that the Royal train should leave by this station ; and accordingly, at about half-past eight o'clock, her Majesty and Prince Albert arrived at the Nine Elms Royal Private Station. The Royal train, which consisted of two state carriages, left the Nine Elms Station at 8.45, and proceeded to Gosport. The safe arrival of the Royal train at its destination, as well as that of each of the other passenger trains despatched, was expedited to London by electric telegraph. Not fewer than 867 carriages, some containing as many as 40 passengers each, left the Waterloo-station on Tuesday, and during the three hours on Wednesday morning almost as many more left. The receipts of the company for the two days, it is stated, will exceed £13,000.
THE RUSH TO PORTSMOUTH, AND THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE VISITORS ON TUESDAY NIGHT.
During the whole of Tuesday visitors flocked into Portsmouth by hundreds. Every train contributed its quota - every boat from Hyde and Southampton was thronged. With limited accommodation for 50,000, Portsmouth suddenly found itself called upon to lodge and feed nearly treble the number. Hotel-keepers had prepared for a rush by hiring private houses for the week, and fitting every room up as temporary bed-chambers. But these were all gone by Monday night, and the visitors had to rely upon other sources. As high as two and three guineas were offered in vain for wretched bed-rooms, that, under any other circumstances, a gentleman would have paid the same sum to avoid sleeping in. Even such out-of-the-way domiciles as those of surgeons and chemists were perfectly besieged with applicants stating their hard cases, and entreating shelter for the night. A few, and but a few, were successful: the others, with long lingering looks behind, were obliged to resume their hopeless tramp about the streets, and speculate abstractedly upon the comforts of a sentry-box or the lee side of a sea-beach rampart. Where we stayed such benighted wayfarers were regular in their applications to the bells, not for the purpose of obtaining a bed - that was, of course, out of the question, but to entreat a place upon which they could sit down and rest."
WEDNESDAY MORNING - EVERYBODY AWAKE.
With the earliest dawn on Wednesday all Portsmouth was astir. Anxious glances were directed to the sky, and "knowing hands" consulted as to the wind ; but not on this great occasion did her Majesty's proverbial good fortune fail her. The day was clear and glorious, not a cloud, and scarcely enough wind to move the long tapering pennants of the men of war from the masts to which they hung. Everything seemed to promise a glorious day, all appeared to expect one. Soon after seven in the morning the visitors who were favoured by the authorities with cards began to embark upon the vessels destined for their reception. This in some cases was not a task to be undertaken lightly. To a landsman one vessel looks so marvellously like another, and when hundreds are gathered together to hit immediately upon the one most wanted was a stroke of good luck, upon which no unfortunate excursionist could reckon. By nine o'clock the harbour of Portsmouth was crowded. On every side yachts, steamers, gun-boats, fishing smacks, row boats, in short anything that would float (and many seemed as if even that requisite was beyond their power) were rushing wildly to and fro in all directions. Every avenue leading to the water was equally thronged with visitors outbidding each other, and striving to secure the services of the few boatmen who were disengaged. These latter, however, had no eager instincts which would tempt them to close with the first offer. Holding aloof on their oars, they waited patiently until the bidding of the gentry reached its maximum, when they put to land slowly, and with as much of the air of men who were granting a favour as it was possible for needy boatmen, under such circumstances, to assume. At nine o'clock a general signal was hoisted for all vessels of the fleet to dress ships with colours, and in a minute afterwards every craft in the harbour was decorated from stem to stern with hundreds of flags of every nation under the sun.
At half-past nine, in accordance with the arrangements laid down by the port authorities, all vessels allotted to visitors began to clear out of harbour This was a dreadful moment. The shouts of those left behind and their frantic waving of authorised tickets was quite moving. Then came the boatman's harvest; for who thought of haggling about the price when the vessel from which they were to view this great display was growing small in the distance. The emergency seemed to deprive the unfortunates on shore of all presence of mind, for they madly engaged huge craft-like barges, which, with two men to pull 30 or 40 people, they evidently expected to overtake a steamer running ten knots an hour. Such scenes were to be met with all over the harbour.
TROUBLES OF THE LORDS AND COMMONS - SHIPPING OF THE IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT.
In the town of Southampton, every one was stirring at five o'clock, and constant streams of pedestrians poured down the various streets towards the docks from that hour until the moment when the last steamer pushed her gang way on shore and steamed slowly out of the harbour. Amongst the various distinguished parties for whom special arrangements had been made were, the House of Lords and her Majesty's faithful Commons, but unfortunately, from a combination of causes, those arrangements were by no means entirely successful in securing the approbation of the parties principally interested. Southampton had expected to see the collective wisdom at somewhere about 9 o'clock, a.m., but with the exception of a few prescient legislators who had come down on the day before, the inhabitants were doomed to wait until a much later hour for the appearance in force of their venerated parliament. Rumours of collisions became rife, and speculations abounded as to whether an immediate general election might not become necessary, as hour after hour passed away without the appearance of the much wished for train. The large screw transports Transit and Perseverance lay in the offing, and four or five comfortable tenders waited at the quay, the whole being devoted to the exclusive service of the two houses. It was not until nearly 12 o'clock that the main body of Peers and Commoners arrived from town. In the meantime the superb fleet of merchant-steamers which had been devoted to the service of the friends of the various companies got successively under weigh as they moved slowly out of the dock, their several bands played melodies of a consolatory character, for the comfort of those who had to await on the quay the event of the more complicated Government arrangements.
At last it was determined that such Peers and Commoners as had already assembled should be put on board at once, and. two tenders were speedily filled with Noble lords and honourable members. One steered for the Transit, which had been selected for the Lords, and the other for the Perseverance, which, from its greater size, was thought better adapted to o the exigencies of the more numerous Commoners. For a full hour the two huge ships lay on the smooth water within a cable's length of each other, everyone impatient to be off, the sailors especially indulging in low mutterings in that forcible phraseology that so often gives expression to a nautical emotion. Frequent conferences took place between the two branches of the legislature; Lord Granville coming at one time as a deputation from the Piers, and Mr: Henry Herbart returning with the answer of the Commons, the common object being a temporary fusion of parties and houses, in order that at least one of the two ships might get out to sea before the termination of the review. It was finally determined that the Perseverance passengers should go onboard the Transit, if within ten minutes from the signing of the definitive treaty succours should not arrive by supplementary tender. Succours did arrive within the limited time, in the shape of the final parliamentary contingent, and at about one o'clock both ships weighed ships weighed anchor, there respective bands playing "Rule Britannia."
APPEARANCE OF THE FLEET
At ten the vessel on which we were located steamed out towards the fleet, following in the wake the lumbering Megaera and a host of other vessels, either sailing or steaming. The Portsmouth shore presented a curious aspect. Every spot from below the High street to a mile above Southsea Castle was covered with an immense multitude. The Victoria Pier seemed one black mass of spectators. In front of it lay a little flotilla of boats of all kinds from the unpretending, shabby dingy, up to the large fishing schooner or spruce looking yacht. Every one of these was dressed in colours. Some even had not confined their display to the legitimate application of bunting, but had huge stripe of coloured calicoes depending from almost every part of their rigging. All these vessels, the condition of the hulls of which were generally in sad contrast to their gay attire aloft, were crowded with visitors, from everyone of whom some 5s of 10s, according to the respectability of the accommodation, had been exacted.
Below the pier, along the whole extent of the Platform Battery every spot commanding a view the sea was occupied. It was not until welt clear of the harbour that a good sight of the float in all it's gigantic magnitude was to be obtained. It is almost difficult to say where it lay, because it would be next to impossible to say where it did not. One great dark line of line-of-battle ships, frigates and corvettes could indeed be distinguished far and wide, but the rest of the tremendous armada was here, there, and everywhere. The floating batteries were anchored off Gilkicker Point, plunging heavily before the slight swell, and looking dark and terrible, like over-charged thunder clouds. The mortar boats were crammed away into Stokes Bay as well as it could hold them. The gunboats formed two parallel lines, reaching almost to the mouth of the Solent. The whole length Of the line from north to south was nearly six miles. Never within the memory of man had such a fleet assembled for a mere review. The following list of the ships is given, in the order in which they were anchored :
List of the Ships as Anchored
Vice Admiral Sir G. Seymour
Royal George, 102 guns
|Rear Admiral Sir R. Dundas
Duke of Wellington, 131 guns;
||James Watt, 91
|Rear Admiral R. L. Baines
The following vessels were not included in order of sailing, but as some of them form an important portion of our fleet, and all were at the anchorage, saluting and manning yards with the rest, we include them in the list :
|Rodney 90, pivot ship
||London, 90, pivot ship
Also a flotilla of Mortar Vessels and Mortar Floats.
The Gun Boat Flotilla: White Squadron or Van.
|Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel, C.B.,
Red Squadron, or Centre:
|Captain Henry J. Codrington, C.B.,
|Flying Fish, 6
Blue Squadron or Rear
|Captain Hastings R. Yelverton, C.B.,
Light Squadron, or Detached Service,
|Captain Astley Cooper Key, C.B., in the Sanspareil 71
Summary of the Naval Forces.
But even the above number, stupendous as it appears, by no means represents the number of men of war actually. present in the line; and there was, of course, a large portion not on duty set aside to convey visitors.
THE MASSIVE FLOATING BATTERIES
.As we had quitted the harbour sometime ere the Queen was expected to arrive, re had. a fine opportunity of surveying the whole fleet ; and going down its line from end to end. Though not put in the order of sailing, yet the first we could closely inspect were the floating batteries. They are most singular and striking in appearance, and by no means prepossessing. They looked very like dumb barges of uncommon strength, and had their tall spars lugger-rigged ; but that they were very black, and showed a broadside of guns of the heaviest calibre, we should certainly have taken them for beacon ships. These, however, were the floating batteries. Than their appearance nothing can be conceived more uncouth and massive looking, or more indicative of unwieldy ponderous strength. Their massive wrought-iron sides, huge round bows and stern, and, above all, their close rows of solid 68 and 84-pounder .guns, show them at once to be antagonists under the attacks of which the heaviest granite bastions in the world would crumble down like contract brick-work. Each of the tremendous floating batteries carries 14 68-pounders, and is sheathed, from the bulwarks to three feet below the water line, with massive plates of wrought iron, 14 feet 6 inches in length, 20 inches wide, and 4½ inches thick. Each of these plates are bolted to the timber sides of the vessel with 40 screw nuts. When French floating batteries of the same construction were used in the combined attack on the fortress of Kinburn; one vessel was struck 58 times in the hull. But she stood this most severe ordeal without sustaining the least possible injury, except that wherever she was hit her wrought-iron plates were dented to depths varying from 1½ inch to ¼ of an inch. But in spite of these apparently strong recommendations for vessels in a time of warfare, the floating batteries are not precisely the class of vessels we should prefer to serve in on active service. Their name of floating batteries is almost a misnomer. With their depth in the water, and ominous heavy roll at the least swell, they seem inclined to be anything but floating, and loth would we be to encounter a Baltic gale or a black Sea hurricane in one of these gaunt wrought-iron shells, which in such a case would be far more formidable to their occupants than to the enemy.
THE MORTAR BOATS IN STORES BAY
A little below these, to the north of Monckton Fort, the whole of Stokes Bay was apparently crowded with rafts, jury-rigged in an emergency, in some incomprehensible manner. These were the mortar boats, and what a harmless little flotilla they all looked. How easily we should, under ordinary circumstances, have mistaken them for the most common of pilot or fishing vessels. In appearance how heavy, slow looking, bluff, and round - much akin in externals to the sombre Dutch luggers which figure so prominently in the water pieces of the Flemish school.
But alas ! How foreign is thus peaceful guise a to the purposes for which they were really built. The floating batteries have an aspect "villanously low," but you expect no better from them; but the mortar boats, under the most commercial, hardworking exterior, conceal a destructiveness not inferior to the iron batteries themselves. All are cutter-rigged, with light and small spars. Their tonnages average 120 tons. Their draught of water is only from 4 to 5 feet. Each is about 45 feet long and 18 broad, and armed with one 18-inch mortar, weighing, with stand and etceteras, nearly 9 tons. These terrific ordnance, when mounted in their places, leave no more apace than two feet on each side - the most limited at which the gun can be worked. Some idea may be formed of the immense strength of the construction of these, boats when we mention that under each discharge the mortar recoils upon the vessel with a pressure of nearly 75 tons. To these boats there are no commanding officers, the divisional ships to which they are attached furnishing them with 10 of their marine artillerymen, under the command of a serjeant of bombardiers from the Royal Artillery, and a few sailors, who perform the ordinary evolutions necessary to anchor the vessel off the object of attack. Properly speaking, the divisional ships of the mortar boats are the Seahorse and the Forth which, though called mortar frigates, are only lugger-rigged. They are built of enormous strength, and each carry twelve 18-inch mortars bedded round her bulwarks. North of these again, and in rear of the port and starboard lines of first-rate frigates; and corvettes; the gun boats, or stingers, as they are more, generally called, lay anchored is close order
THE MAGNIFICENT WORK IF SIX MONTHS OF SIX MONTHS
This fleet, which, when we consider the marvellously short abort space of to in which it was put together, is perhaps the most wonderful the world ever saw, is composed of four distinct classes of vessels, each varying in size, horse dower and weight of armament. How inexhaustible are the naval resources of this country may be guessed from the fact, that twelve months ago scarcely one of the gunboat vessels now manoeuvred before the Queen was in existence. The majority have been ordered and completed within the last six months and had the government found reason to think that the services of more would have been required, we are informed that with perfect ease 600 could have been built, launched, armed, and manned within the same space of time. The first class of gunboats is composed of screw ships of 200 ft. length, and carrying six long 68-pounders, provided with engines of 360-horsepower and a crew of 100 men. This class is intended as sub-divisional ships. The second class are about 160 feet long, and carry four 68-pounders, are provided with engines of 200-horse power, and the crew numbers 80 hands. The third class are about 100 feet long ; of 60-horse power engines; armed with one 68 pounder pivot gun, one 32-pounder pivot gun, and two brass howitzers, 24-pounders, on the broadside. This class is by far the most useful and numerous of the whole flotilla, their extraordinary light draught (generally averaging from 4 to 6 feet) enabling them to steam in the shallowest creeks and inlets, while the heavy armament renders them effective against the strongest forts.
The whole bulwarks are provided with moveable wrought-iron plates, perfectly rifle-proof, and reaching about seven feet above the deck, so as to protect the men from the enemy's riflemen; in case of having to force the passage of narrow rivers defended by sharpshooters. The fourth class is also a useful flotilla for very shallow streams and close in-shore service. It comprises vessels of about 80 feet long, the engines averaging 20-horse power; each boat carrying two 32-pounder pivot guns amidships, the crew usually numbering 36 hands, exclusive of officers. These boats are very little larger than the small steamers which ply upon the Thames, though they are certainly considerably broader, in order to admit of working the guns without danger to the craft. Their draught of water, with stores, ammunition, provisions, and guns on board, does not exceed from 3½ to 4 feet. The whole flotilla is provided with high-pressure locomotive boilers, the place necessarily devoted to the machinery rendering this expedient absolutely imperative, to economise the limited area at the disposal of the engineers. Yet small as the horse power appears, the speed of the fleet of gun vessels is by no means contemptible; the slowest average from 7 to 8 knots, and the swiftest from 9 to 11½. We could not help thinking, as we saw them dart into the shallow water where river steamers could not have attempted to follow, how invaluable such a fleet would be upon the coast of China, and how in a few months they would extirpate the hordes of pirates who in their narrow and intricate-streams have long bid defiance to the ordinary vessels of war.
THE HEAD OF THE FLEET
The head of the fleet was, of course, composed of line-of-battle ships, carrying from 120 to 60 guns., Our vessel ran close alongside the leading ship of the first line, the far-famed Duke of Wellington 131. The magnificent appearance of this noble ship as Is lay upon the water, slowly rising to the slight swell - her tall, dark, chequered sides, her triple rows of massive guns, her tapering spare and taut-black rigging, relieved by the gaudy colours in which she was dressed fore and aft, made a tout ensemble which it is literally impossible to do justice to by any description.
A little ahead, of her lay the Dachayla, the French 50-gun screw frigate, which had brought over some of the chief officers in the French marine to witness the review. The Dachayla (like all the French screw vessels) is clean made, light, and smart in appearance. She had not her steam up, as the naval authorities at Portsmouth had placed a vessel at the disposal of her commander. This civility, we may add, disappointed many of our officers, who were anxious to see if the speed and management of the elegant-looking Foreigner would answer to her appearance.
At the head of the starboard line, abreast with the Duke of Wellington, was the Royal George, 120, anchored over the very spot where, some 80 years ago, her celebrated namesake went down at her anchors, with every soul on board. Among the other vessels which followed in the order we have already given, the new liner, the Conqueror, was pre-eminent above all for her extreme beauty. Never do we recollect, even among the handsomest vessels of the French; to have seen one which would bear comparison with her in point of beauty. The Algiers, St. Jean d'Acre, and Agamemnon are as much distanced by the Conqueror as those vessels surpass the blundering Sanspareil. Inferior to the Conqueror in size and strength, though her equals in naval beauty, were the Imperieuse, 51, and Euryalus, 51 What changes have taken place in ships' lines lately could be seen by turning to the next vessel in the rank - the once far-famed Arrogant, which challenged and beat the fastest steamers in the French fleet 10 years ago, but which now, astern of the Imperieuse and her consort, seemed a heavy block. Astern of these were the screw corvettes-vessels of the Cruizer and Tartar class, and last in the order of sailing the paddle frigates.
The fleet and Portsmouth Harbour were not the only great points of attraction to the myriads of sight-seers that swarmed in from all parts of the country to witness the great demonstration. As Southsea Castle was the principal place to be attacked by the gun-boats, beneath its walls and the common in the immediate neighbourhood were of coarse the favourite points of observation among the spectators. Some speculative individuals had gone to a considerable expense in erecting a gigantic stand in the rear of the fort for seats, in which they had the modesty to ask from 10s. 6d. to £1 1s., and still contrived to dispose of the majority of the tickets at that enormous profit.
The scene which presented itself from Southsea Castle at about ten o'clock was of the most curious and animating description. The vast crowds of people extending in one black line along the coast as far as the eye could reach, backed by double rows of carriages, carts, vans, and every other description of vehicle, all filled with spectators, the major portion of whom were of the gentler sex. The gay dresses of the ladies, as they showed forth to the best advantage in the bright sunshine in all their various colours, ether with the busy appearance of the numerous booths and tents, reminded one strongly of the Epsom racecourse on the Derby day.
HOISTING OF THE ROYAL STANDARD - EMBARKATION OF THE QUEEN - THE SOVEREIGN'S WELCOME TO THE SEA.
Precisely at half-past eleven the telescopes of the more observant visitors could detect a movement towards manning yards on the part of the crew of the old Victory in Portsmouth Harbour. In a few minutes more the Royal standard could be seen flying at the mast-head of the tall tapering spars of the Royal yacht. The Victory saluted, at least it was presumed so, for to hear. her at the distance we then were (seven miles) was out of the question. A considerable interval then elapsed, and still the masts of the Royal yacht showed that she had not got under weigh. At last they seemed to be moving, and then as the noble vessel got way on her they came towards the harbour's mouth at a speed which set the question at rest. Rapidly she glided along, stealing over the water, apparently without an effort, at nearly fifteen knots an hour. The fleet was ordered to salute the instant the Royal Yacht showed clear of the harbour. Suddenly a confused mass was seen at the shrouds of the headmost ships of the line, and instantly, as if by magic, men swarmed up the rigging of every vessel in the fleet. They clustered upon the shrouds like bees At first there seemed confusion, but as the men got higher, formed into their places, and spread out upon the yards, the marvellous rapidity and regularity of the manoeuvre was seen with feelings of admiration and astonishment. Hardly had the men joined hands, when the Royal yacht showed well out of the harbour. On the instant, one large dense spirt (sic) of smoke dashed in a heavy mass from he side of the Duke of Wellington. The eye had scarcely time to perceive it, ere from every vessel along the two lines came the same discharge, followed instantly by another and another from the same ships ere the report of the first had time to reach. In a moment after the heavy swelling roar came sullenly up against the wind, increasing as it rolled forward, until the air seemed to vibrate painfully with the tremendous concussions. In a few seconds the hulls of the whole fleet were enveloped in the clouds of white smoke, from which in regular order, from port and starboard, came the broad flashes of the discharges like sheets of yellow lightning It had a grand and tremendous effect. The salute only lasted about two minutes. Her Majesty's yacht was followed by a concourse of vessels of all kinds, all of which, however (no doubt much against their will), were compelled to keep a respectful distance. Nothing afloat could overtake the speed of the royal yacht; and save and except her own shadow, we think there are few things to be seen on the water that would keep pace with her.
THE QUEEN AMONG HER, FLEET: THE SHIPS UNDER WEIGH.
Her Majesty entered between the port and starboard lines at the most extreme end of the line of gun boats. These, the instant the yacht had passed, got under way, and followed her up between the screw liners in the order in which they had been moored. The Royal yacht halted a little ahead of the two flag ships. As the gun boats arrived abreast of the Royal yacht, the white and light squadrons went round the Duke to port, and the red and blue squadrons round the Royal George to starboard The speed and care which the gun boats displayed in executing this manoeuvre spoke well for the discipline of the crews and officers of all The average rate attained by them was most respectable ; few seemed to run less than 7 or 7½ knots, and there were a large number that would clear their 9 or 10.
The time occupied in the passage of the whole four squadrons was upwards of an hour. Just as the leading gun boat came up, a dirty-looking tug tried to cut in between the yacht and the column of boats. The attempt would have been certain to have resulted in an accident had not the flagship (the Duke) brought the tug to a proper estimate of her position by firing two cannon shots in rapid succession across her bow, and one just over her bridge. With these iron reprimands the tug instantly full back into her proper post outside ; and to leeward of the squadron. The instant the last of the gun boats had passed the pivot ships, signal was made to the line-of-battle ships to undress ship and prepare to weigh: All these were already hove short, and as the gun flotilla turned off to seek their post near Monckton Fort and Southsea Castle, a little foam showed under the sterna of each of the ponderous two and three deckers - a little ripple appeared ahead of them, and with less confusion than a halfpenny river steamer makes in coming alongside a pier, the long columns of line-of-battle ships, and frigates were under weigh. A general signal was made to steam at five knots per hour then to pass close order (a cable and a half between each ship), then a particular signal to the Ajax, 60, to " keep her proper station in line." All the vessels steamed in the order in which we have already given them at their anchorages. The port line was led. by Admiral Sir Richard Dundas in the Duke of Wellington ; the starboard by Rear-Admiral Baynes in the Royal George.
GRAND NAVAL PROCESSION OUT TO SEA
The whole now went in the most perfect precision and order out to the east. The pivot ships, London, 90, and Rodney 90, were anchored in the centre of the Channel, about a mile distant from the Nab light. Ahead and between these the royal yacht hove-to, while the screw liners came up in their regular order, and turned off to port and starboard, as the gun boats had previously done. The wonderful ease and rapidity with which the enormous vessels went round almost in their own length was perfectly astounding. The Conqueror seemed to turn as if upon some well-oiled stationary pivot; so did the Imperieuse, Euryalus, &c.
When the last of the liners had passed the pivot ships the Royal yacht was on its way back to where the gun-boats where mustered off the forts in overpowering numbers. The line-of-battle ships then increased their speed, and back came the whole gigantic armada towards the shore, covering the sea almost from land to land, and (in spite of all the precautions taken and the Welch coal used) darkening the very heavens with their mass of smoke.
THE BOMBARDMENT OF SOUTHSEA
On a long, low spit of land, to the east of Portsmouth Harbour, is Fort Monckton. It is partly surrounded by a
ditch, and well situated for offering a close and vigorous defence to any attempt to force the entrance of the harbour. It crosses fire with Block Fort (a most powerful two-tier battery, only inferior to the granite impregnables of Cronstadt), which in turn crosses fire with Southsea Castle. Monckton mounts 40 long 68 and 32-pounders, and is itself protected to the eastward by Browndown battery. Southsea Castle is on the east side of Portsmouth harbour. As a strong fort it is nothing particular. We have no great faith in free-stone walls, which we have seen sadly mauled in a very short time, and by vessels, too. Southsea mounts 38 long 68 and 32-pounders and was chosen from its fine open situation to assist in fighting the swarm of gun boats. The gun boats had, after passing the Royal yacht, taken up their positions in close proximity to Southsea Castle on one side ; and opposed to the immense floating batteries on the side of the harbour near Monckton and Browndown Forts.
Signal was made to clear the decks and prepare for action. In an instant the men hurried about - the bulwarks were lowered - guns cast loose and run out, loaded and rammed home - all with a celerity which showed the value of the squadron as quick and formidable antagonists. It was curious to see the old castle at Southsea at the moment before the action began. The whole beach and ramp literally seemed one black moving mass. Not less than 150,000 people are computed to have been assembled at this spot.
The Royal yacht soon ran in. Up went a little signal to the divisions of gun boats, their answering pennants flew up and down in reply, and then from every side, and in all directions at once; volumes of smoke appeared, as if a thousand white fleecy clouds had sprung into existence. Loud and still louder came the mighty roar, as if the very earth was crumbling to destruction, followed by the stunning echoes which every building in Portsmouth, and every hill in the Isle of Wight sent back in reply. The floating batteries, which were attacked with the castle, were nothing loth to accept the challenge. The fort plied every gun as fast as it could be charged and fired, while the batteries, opening the ball with a terrific broadside, continued to give their numerous assailants in every quarter gun for gun. The uproar was fearful The sky had become much overcast, and showed each flash with the distinctness of lightning. On every side they seemed to spring up in fresh places, and the heavy continuous reports at last swelled into a sustained roar. The batteries were soon (as, indeed, so was everything else) hidden in the dense smoke, and it was only by the uproar we knew the fight was continued. Suddenly, just as the line-of-battle ships were joining in at a distance, and the cannonade promised to attain a terrific magnitude, the signal was made to cease firing, to the manifest, disappointment of many of the spectators, who evidently expected a long continuance of the affair. But her Majesty was tied to time, and her yacht stood rapidly infer the Clarence Yard.
LANDING OF THE QUEEN AND SUITE
Upon entering the harbour, the Victory and the St Vincent manned yards and fired a Royal salute, and a small Dutch sloop of war, which had put into the port, manned yards and cheered at the same time. It being at that time low water, the Windsor Castle lay to in the centre, of the stream, and the Queen and the Royal suite landed at the stairs in the state barge.
ILLUMINATION OF THE FLEET AT NIGHT
One of the most interesting features in the day's movements was effected by simultaneously lighting up the yards and portholes with blue lights. At 9 o'clock gun fire, the whole fleet at anchor burst into light as by magic; the jets one above another, maintopmast high aloft, and the ports of each opened at once, showing a vivid glare between decks, caused an unusual roar of cheering from the shore, Which was echoed and given back with interest from the boats of the legion afloat. This in the stillness of the calm night had an effect as imposing as it was rare, and cheer upon cheer applauded the spectacle. From 9 to 10 rockets were sent up thickly from the ships, and raised a golden shower upon the " floating capital." The Commander-in-Chief, Sir George Seymour entertained the admirals, captains, and other officers of the fleet at the Admiralty-house in the evening, where the French Admiral and staff were the honoured guests.
THE RETURN HOME
On returning home the weather was still tine, the day came having been of the most magnificent character. The vessels came back to Southampton between seven and eight o'clock. The Simla, of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, had carried away her bowsprit by coming into collision with another vessel. It was somewhat amusing to see the meetings between various parties who had bon somewhat awkwardly parted by some oversight on the part of the railway authorities. It appears that the train which left London for Southampton at 5.30 broke down on the road, and was obliged to be shunted on to the siding in order to allow the other trains which left some time after to pass, and also to obtain another engine to bring them down, consequently the parties by this train, which should have arrived at Southampton at 8.30, were detained until 10 o'clock ; and had the mortification of seeing their friends pass them on the road; and finding, on their arrival at Southampton, that the boats for which they had purchased tickets had left. They were thus compelled to purchase other tickets, and were parted from their friends. The meeting of those parties on their return was somewhat amusing, and their manifestations against the directors of the railway not only loud but deep.
CURIOSITIES OF THE GRAND REVIEW.
Lord Palmerston in Difficulties. A ludicrous scene occurred on Wednesday morning at the Waterloo. station. The Premier was rather late, and the train for the Commons had actually got in motion. A fellow member of the Administration threw open a carriage-door and Lord Palmerston had partly got in, when a policeman on duty rushed up to the carriage threw his arms round the noble lord, and without more ado, lifted him on to the platform, and the train proceeded without him. The noble lord subsequently proceeded, but his mishaps were not to end here, for on his arrival at Portsmouth, on making his way to the small vessel which was to convey his lordship on board the steamer happening to mistake the, gangway, he was roughly accosted, and suspicions were expressed that he was trying it on to get on board without a ticket, but an, explanation taking place, his lordship proceeded without interruption and nothing further occurred to mar the pleasures of the day/
Humours of the Train. A great deal of bad wit and pleasantry was exhibited by those who obtained seats at the expense of those who were disappointed ; and when an aristocratic individual demanded why he was not placed in a first-class carriage, as became his ideas of comfort, and the price he paid, a shout of laughter, not indeed from the polite officials, was the only reply he received. In truth, there was no such thing as a first or even a second class carriage, no matter what was paid; they were all open at the side, though some were covered at the top, and for the best reason in the world, that the worthy superintendent had none else to give. What with the Queen's attendants, and Ministers, the members of both Houses of Parliament, the various companies, and shareholders of various bodies, the unfortunate public were left to shift for themselves in the best way they could.
Portsmouth Prices. The demand for lodgings greatly exceeded the accommodation the various hotels could afford, and after seven o'clock on Tuesday evening the traveller could not be sure of obtaining, either for love or that, yet more powerful agent, money, a shelter for .the night. To those who had had the good luck to secure beds for themselves; but to none others, it was infinitely, amusing to see their less fortunate fellow-travellers wandering through the streets and "mooning" about; weary and footsore, in search of similar accommodation. Beds fetched a fabulous price. Three or four guineas was the ordinary charge at midnight, and we have been credibly assured that in some instances the lodging house keepers had the conscience to demand £15 for a single bed! Whether they permitted the tenant to take the bed and bedding away with him in the morning is more than we were able to ascertain, but they ought to have done so.
The Old Story Of Routine. The order issued by the Admiralty that steam-vessels ; of whatever class, should burn anthracite coal, was rigidly obeyed by all the steamers except one; and the future historians take note of the fact for it affords an amusing commentary on the difference between preaching and practising that the offending vessel was no other than the Admiralty yacht, the Black Eagle. To the horror of all beholders, on she came in the full insolence of official pride, dimming the atmosphere with a volume of black smoke that burst from her funnel as from a factory chimney.
A Sight And No Sight. When London rushes per rail to a seaport on such an occasion its eye does not anticipate the space over which the evolutions will extend. From no one point can more than a part of the movements be seen: and of that small portion the chances are that very little can be understood.
Casualties. The only accidents is connection with the review that have been reported are the following, namely: A small tug steamer, belonging to the Southampton Tug Company, was run down near the docks and sunk ; no lives lost ; she can be raised again. One of the gun boats at Spithead was run into and her mast and funnel carried away. The Oriental Company's steamer Simla had her bowsprit and jib-boom carried away. An engineer on board one of the West India steamers was drowned.
On The Late Sham Fight at Spithead. One Useful truth we learn from this review: It shows, us what we, could, but did not do.
Serious Accident on The London and South Western Railway. A very serious, and, in all probability fatal accident happened to Mr. Woolley, surgeon, of Moreton place, Cambden town, when returning from the Naval Review early on Thursday morning. Upon the train stopping at Basingstoke, Mr. Woolley had occasion to leave his carriage, when, he placed his food upon what he imagined to be the platform of the railway station, but which was, in reality, the parapet of the bridge over the road, and he was immediately precipitated into the road, a distance of 30 feet. He was taken up insensible, and was found to have sustained three fracture of the bones of the right arm, while his right hip was also severely fractured and otherwise frightfully mutilated. The different bones were adjusted and, at his earnest request, he was conveyed to London. But slight hopes are entertained of his recovery.
Source: News of the World 27 April 1856.
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