Puslapio vaizdai




[ocr errors]

gress between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries; yet there are many instances of wide-scourging diseases in the latter. Between May 1812 and February 1813 a Bavarian army of 28,000 men was reduced by typhus to 2,250. Out of 60,000 French troops at Mainz in 1813-14, there died of typhus alone in six months 25,000 men. If we carry the horrible story down to the period of the Crimean War—the age of the steamship, the electric telegraph, and the rifled firearm-we are still confronted by ghastly statistics.

* It was computed by an officer of the French staff,' says Kinglake,* that out of the three French divisions which marched into the Dobrudja, no less than 10,000 lay dead or struck down by sickness.' From January 22 to February 22, 1855, both inclusive, the numbers of British troops in hospital at the end of the successive weeks were 12,405, 13,022, 13,257, 13,594, 13,640.+ Speaking of the cholera in the Black Sea, Kinglake I uses words which might be applied to Howard's fleet: ‘On • board some of the ships the mysterious pest began to rage

with a violence rare in Europe. The “Britannia” alone • lost 105 men.'

The quantity of ammunition supplied to Elizabeth's fleet has been said to have been deficient. The “supply of car'tridges,' we have been told, 'was singularly small. It 'amounted to but fifty rounds a gun.'s When ships carried a broadside armament of many pieces—as they generally did till the introduction of the armourelad—for fighting purposes each pair of guns was considered as one gun, and had a single crew. It was understood, and was so laid down in some very modern drill-books, that, though having to engage an enemy on both sides at the same time should be provided for, it would be an exceptional occurrence.

The proportion of ammunition allowed was based upon, not the number of pairs, but the number of individual pieces. Therefore fifty rounds per gun would be one hundred rounds for each gun's crew. The modern allowance for guns corresponding to the broadside armament of ships of the older type is about eighty-five. Here again the Elizabethan system does not compare unfavourably with the Victorian. No doubt the introduction of the new tactics of rapid and sustained gunfire led to an early depletion of maga

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Vol. ii. p.

136. † Kinglake (vi. 391), from the Adjutant-General's official returns. I Vol. ii.


137. § Froude, 'IĮistory of England,' xii. 379.

[ocr errors]

zines. We have already alluded to the far-sighted manner in which Elizabeth's Government endeavoured to collect a sufficient stock of ammunition. It would not have been possible to put a much larger proportion than they actually carried on board the ships. Amateur critics never remember that there is a limit to a ship's carrying capacity. It was proposed seven or eight years ago to add a certain number of quick-firing guns to the armament of a particular armourclad. They could have been mounted on board without difficulty, but stowage could not be found for the extra ammunition, without which sustained quick-firing in action would have proved impossible.

* Another stock complaint against the queen,' says Professor Laughton, “is that the men were not paid their wages.' The Council and the Lord Treasurer, at any rate, took the proper steps to ensure payment. As a matter of fact, menof-war's-men in Elizabeth's time were paid with a punctuality which was quite unknown to their successors for centuries. They were paid in cash, and apparently at the

end of every three months. In a valuable work which has just appeared, “ The British Fleet,' by Commander Charles N. Robinson, R.N., a work which we cominend to the attention of every one who wishes to know what the navy was and is, will be found an account of the pay system of times much later than those of the Armada.

• All through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was the rule not to pay any body till the end of the commission, and, to a certain degree, the practice obtained until some fifty years ago. The superior officers drew bills; every one else was given tickets' (p. 386).

Then (1797), and long afterwards, ships were away on foreign service as long, in some cases, as ten years, and not a man touched a penny of his pay till he returned to England' (p. 393).

Naval officers (till after the end of the Crimean War) were conpelled to draw bills for their pay on foreign stations, and had frequently to sell their bills at a discount amounting to 35 and 40 per cent.' (p. 393).+

The Elizabethan scale of pay, converted into present value, was higher than that now established. 'In 1585

the sixpence was worth three shillings' of our present money. The pay of an A.B. was 10s. (present value 31.) à month of twenty-eight days. It is now, for the


Officers still in the navy, at a much more recent te, for some time received their pay once in six months, and in paper !

† Froude's History of England,' xii. 360. See also Hubert Hall's work, already cited.

same period, 21. 45. 4d. The modern seaman, it is to be noted, receives good-conduct pay, gunnery pay, gratuities at discharge, and a pension on completion of service. His predecessor also received allowances, which cannot now be exactly stated; and these and the higher effective pay more than made up for the extras now granted and the prospect of a pension. The sailors of the sixteenth and of the early part of the seventeenth century received wages which must have been envied by the labourers, and even by the skilled artisans, who were their contemporaries.

We may repeat our opinion that the charges levelled at Elizabeth and her Ministers would not have been made had the conditions of naval life been understood, and we appeal to the conscience of every candid reader to admit that the opinion is well founded. In these papers, it is true, there are many anxious demands for victuals, ammunition, and money. If the correspondence of modern admirals were exainined, we should probably find exactly similar demands as to reserve stocks of coal, ammunition, and naval stores of special kinds. It is often so difficult to get home-staying officials to understand the urgency of an admiral's wants, that reiteration of them is not to be wondered at. The • Reports of Survey,' so judiciously included in the publication under review, show us that the ships of Elizabeth were in every respect well found. The Government had certainly done its part in bringing about the defeat of the enemy.

The sailors had even more nobly done theirs. Professor Laughton has demonstrated that, great as were the odds against them, they were not so great as has been usually supposed. They were far from being so great that they could not be redressed by skill and intrepidity; and skill and intrepidity were conspicuously displayed. The serene confidence as to the result of a conflict expressed by the great seamen of the time is worthy of remembrance, and of imitation, by their modern successors. Of all the panic-stricken

accounts of the great Armada which have come down to 'us,' says the editor, ' not one was written by a seaman or * by any one who had practical knowledge of the Spaniards 6 "at sea.' The strategic insight of the admirals was remarkable. They one and all preferred the offensive to standing

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

* To avoid crowding the text with figures, reference only will be inade, in prcof of the statement in the text, to Hubert Hall, op. cit. pp. 22, 23, 203; and to Rogers, ' History of Agriculture and Prices, vol. v. pp. 789, 792.

on their defence in home waters and awaiting the arrival of

the enemy.

“The opinion,' says Howard on June 14, of Sir Francis Drake, Mr. Hawkyns, Mr. Frobiser, and others that be men of greatest judgment and experience, as also my own concurring with

hem in the same, is that the surest way to meet with the Spanish fleet is upon their own coast, or in any harbour of their own, and there to defeat them.' (Howard to Walsyngham).

My opinion, says Drake, “is that we shall fight with them much better cheap upon their own coast than here.'

The sailors were overruled. They bowed readily to the decision of those who could not know what was right as well as they did, and set themselves to work to redeem bad strategy by good tactics. British seamen have had to do the like more than once since, and may have to do it again. In one respect they had an immense advantage over their opponents. The great majority of the latter were shore- or harbour-trained. They were brave and well-drilled soldiers, like the marines, whose high efficiency in their own sphere has sometimes prompted unlearned theorists to propose to substitute them for seamen. The training of the Englishmen had been carried out upon the sea.

Never in the history of the country,' says the late Professor Froude, * was a body of sailors gathered together more experienced in sailing ships and fighting them. They were the rovers of the ocean. To navigate the wildest seas, to fight Spaniards wherever they could meet them, had for thirty years been their occupation and their glory.' The pernicious maxim formulated by landsmen ignorant of naval history, that English ships should be individually

more powerful,' in plain language bigger, than those of the enemy, had not then been invented to render impossible all effective tactical dispositions in fleet actions.

In merit the tactics followed by the Elizabethan admirals have never been surpassed. They were the first amongst the seamen of Christendom to discover the full powers of the gun as a naval weapon. They saw—what the self-constituted instructors from the drawing-office, who have never spent a year in blue water, cannot yet see—that the concentrated fire of several ships, not of diminutive, but of moderate size, with well-served ordnance, must prevail over mere hugeness and supposed defensive capacity. Hitherto fleet actions had for the most part been hand-to-hand combats, in which boarding was a frequent episode. The English seamen who

* The Spanish Story of the Armada,' p. 45.

[ocr errors]

fought against the Armada showed what could be done, even against generally superior numbers, by sea-trained men in ships of handy dimensions armed with guns of manageable size, which their crews could fire three times to the enemy's

Long experience on the sea enabled the English captains to collect their ships opposite the part of the enemy's formation which they preferred to assail

, and to keep from it at the distance which they found most advantageous. They thus, as Nelson long after did so conspicuously at Trafalgar, converted their general inferiority in number into a local superiority which overcame all resistance.

This was the essence of their tactical arrangements. It explains the action of Howard in remaining near the stranded galleass off Calais till he had got his men and boats aboard again. The suggestion that he had delayed too long for his fame' is based on an erroneous conception of the tactics adopted, which were to continually increase the number of English ships at the point assailed, thus bringing up repeated relays of fresh ships with full magazines. When Howard was wanted he was never absent.

The Armada was full of valiant souls. Oquendo, Valdez, Moncada, Leyva, held in it high command. Ships which bore on their books the titles of Ascoli, of Peñafiel, of Gelves, and such family names as de Velasco, de Guzman, TellezGiron (of the great house of Ossuva), Toledo, and de Castro, carried brave and chivalrous gentlemen, who, as all the episodes of the several battles show, had men of courage under them. But where courage was equal on both sides, superiority in sea experience and in tactical skill was sure to tell, as tell it will until wars shall cease. This is one great lesson which we can learn from these volumes. There are others. Howard, as portrayed by himself in his letters, is a singularly noble figure. We see that he was a valiant, resolute, diligent, and considerate commander. Like Nelson,

* Professor Laughton gives us two very instructive tables, one on p. xlv., and the other on p. li. The latter shows that whilst the average tonnage of the more important Spanish ships was 727, that of the corresponding English ships was 552. The other table shows the English preference for moderate-sized guns-which, by the way, lasted till the end of the Napoleonic wars, and even later. Five Spanish ships named had twenty-nine guns of and above the 24-pounder class; five English had only twenty. On the other hand, whilst the five Spanish ships had thirty-seven 18-pounders and 9-pounders, the five English had eighty-nine. It is easy to see why our ancestors were able to make the fire of their guns overwhelmingly superior.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »