I hope it will not have led to any disaster. I have guarded against any to the utmost of my power, but we cannot answer for events; and in the course of my service I have never experienced greater anxiety than since I have been on this station: first, with regard to the expedition and the business of Sir John Moore, which for a time paralysed all the naval operations, and certainly might have been attended with the worst consequences. We must however hope for the best, and trust all will turn to good.
Added to the despatches acknowledging this letter, was the following private note from Lord Mulgrave:
Admiralty, August 25th, 1808.
MY DEAR SIR JAMES,
I cannot let despatches go from the Admiralty without conveying to you my hearty congratulations on the important event of the deliverance of so large a body of the Spanish troops. Rear-admiral Keats has conducted this service with admirable talent, zeal, and judgment. We have a report here that the Russian fleet has put to sea; and are in anxious hope that they may have fallen in your way. The enemy's fate and the public interests cannot be in better hands than yours.
I am, dear Sir James, with great truth, Yours very sincerely, MULGRAVE.
This service being completed, Sir James hastened back to the Baltic, and, arriving off Carlscrona, received additional intelligence of the position of the Russian fleet. Taking along with him the Mars, Goliath, and Africa, Salsette, Rose, and Ariel, he proceeded to the northward; and, passing between Gothland and Sweden, made for the Gulf of Finland, expecting to fall in with the Centaur and Implacable at certain places of rendezvous. He was not a little disappointed at not finding them, even at Hango Udd. On the 30th of August he fell in with the Swedish frigate Camilla, Captain Troile, who came on board, and gave him the first information of the action which had taken place between the two fleets; it appeared that the Sewolod, a Russian seventy-four, which had been disabled by the Implacable, had been taken and burned by that ship and the Centaur, and that the Russian fleet had been pursued into Rogerwick, (or Port Baltic,) where they might be successfully attacked.
This joyful news was communicated to the squadron, and every ship was instantly cleared for action. The signals were successively made to bear up, let out reefs, and make more sail. The pilot at the same time informed the Admiral that he had been often in Rogerwick, which is a bay in the south side of the Gulf of Finland, formed by the islands of East and West Roge and the main, and that he could easily take the fleet in.
At two o'clock, the Swedish fleet, consisting of ten sail of the line and three frigates, together with the Centaur and Implacable, were seen at anchor off Rogerwick; a plan of which is given, showing the position of both fleets. The general signal was made to prepare for battle; but the Centaur telegraphed that "you must anchor in thirty-five fathoms," in reply to the Admiral's signal to weigh: this having been repeated, the signals were made to anchor, furl sails, &c.
 See Appendix, for a list of the English, Swedish, and Russian ships.
Sir Samuel Hood, the Swedish Admiral and captain of the fleet, now came on board; what occurred at this consultation is only known to themselves. Subsequently, Sir James went on board the Rose; but it was then too late to reconnoitre the enemy. Next day (31st August) was spent also in consultation; and on the 1st of September the Victory and Goliath got under weigh, and stood in to the entrance of the harbour; and, having silenced a battery on the west side with one broadside, the Admiral had, for the first time, a good view of the position of the enemy's fleet, and was convinced that they might have been attacked. He immediately made known his determination to attack them on the following day, and orders were accordingly issued to that effect; the Author was sent on board the Swedish Admiral's ship, not only with these orders, but to remain on board to explain signals, and assist in bringing the Swedish fleet into action. Captain Martin, of the Implacable, was appointed acting captain of the fleet, and Captain Pipon succeeded him.
In the mean time, the Russians sent on board an officer with a flag of truce, on pretence of treating for exchange of prisoners: when he came on board the Victory, he addressed Capt. Dumaresq in the French language, saying that he did not understand English. Soon after which, the Author, happening to come on deck, recognised in this officer Mr. Skripeetzen, his old shipmate on board the Penelope; where he had been two years a signal midshipman; and, before that, as many on board the Leviathan. Of course he could speak and understand English perfectly, and he had actually his signal-book in his pocket.
This discovery afforded no small amusement. It was now evident that he came on board to make useful observations, and his object was completely obtained. The officers took him below, and showed him the ship clear for action, each deck having a thousand extra shot added to the usual number; on some of which the sailors had been exercising their wit by writing in chalk, "Post-paid"; "Free, George Canning";—jokes which Mr. Skripeetzen did not seem to relish; and he quitted the ship evidently confused and mortified.
 The lamented Mr. Canning was then secretary of state for foreign affairs; and it was a seaman of the Victory of the same name that franked the shot: sailors having an idea that to stop a letter post-paid, or franked, is death by the law.
The hopes of the Admiral and his officers were now raised to the highest pitch; every preparation had been made, and the dawn of day of the 2nd September was waited for with anxious expectation. The wind, which in the evening had been favourable for the enterprise, unfortunately veered to the southward before day-break; and, as it was directly against going in, an attack was impossible. As this hard-hearted gale continued for eight days, all hopes of being able to attack the enemy vanished.
The enemy in the mean time moored his ships in a compact line, with booms moored outside; and, having marched six thousand troops from Revel, threw up strong batteries on each side, so that his position was soon rendered impregnable.
Sir James now sent, by a flag of truce, the following letter to the Emperor Alexander:
His Britannic Majesty's ship Victory, off Baltic Port, 17th September 1808.
Your imperial Majesty is probably uninformed of the events that have recently taken place in the southern parts of Europe. Spain has succeeded in rescuing herself from the usurpation and tyranny of the ruler of France. Portugal has also extricated herself from the baneful hands of the enemy of all independent states; the whole of the French forces in that country having been compelled to surrender to the British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley. It is to be hoped that those events will induce the powers of the Continent to unite with Great Britain to restore that peace so highly to be desired for the welfare of mankind.
Knowing it to be the object most at heart of my gracious sovereign, and that of his Majesty's ally, the King of Sweden, should your imperial Majesty be impressed with the same sentiments, nothing will afford me greater happiness than to have the honour of imparting them to my government, and to desist from further hostile operations, upon condition that your Majesty will give orders to your forces to desist from hostilities against England and her ally, and to withdraw your forces from Swedish Finland.
I have the honour to be, With the most profound respect, Your imperial Majesty's Most devoted and most obedient humble servant, JAMES SAUMAREZ, Vice-admiral and commander-in-chief of his Britannic Majesty's ships in the Baltic.
To his imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias.
This appeal to his imperial Majesty unfortunately did not reach St. Petersburg until the day after the Emperor Alexander had left it, on his journey to meet Buonaparte at Erfurth; and, in consequence, Sir James received the following answer from the Russian Admiral Tchitchagoff, the minister of the Marine:
St. Petersburg, 12/27 Sept. 1808.
La lettre que votre excellence a adresse a sa Majeste l'Empereur m'est parvenu a mon retour a St. Petersburg conjointement a celle que m'a ecrit Monsieur Thornton. Sa Majeste n'etant plus dans sa capitale depuis quelque jours, je me suis empresse de la lui expedier.
Pendant mon sejour au Port Baltique, ayant appris que votre excellence desiroit savoir si l'echange de nos equipages pris sur le vaisseau Le Sewolod, contre des sujets de sa Majeste Britannique ou Swedoise pourroit avoir lieu, je suis bien-aise de lui annoncer que des ordres ont ete donnes au general en chef commandant en Finlande de rendre un nombre egal, et rang pour rang, des sujets de sa Majeste Swedoise contre les prisonniers Russes faits dans le dernier combat.
En priant votre excellence de vouloir bien transmettre la ci-jointe au ministre de sa Majeste Britannique, Monsieur Thornton, je dois la prevenir que je n'ai point recu les gazettes que ce dernier m'avoit annonces dans sa lettre.
Je saisis avec empressement cette occasion pour assurer votre excellence de la consideration la plus distinguee avec laquelle j'ai l'honneur d'etre, De votre excellence,
Tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur, P. DE TCHITCHAGOFF.
A son Ex. Mon. le Vice-amiral Saumarez.
The letters addressed to Mr. Thornton, being to the same effect, need not be given. The exchange of prisoners took place at a subsequent period.
A negociation now ensued between the Russian and British commanders-in-chief, for permission that the blockaded fleet should return to St. Petersburg unmolested, on condition that a part should be given up by the former. In answer to this proposition, his Swedish Majesty requiring that the whole should be given up, and Sir James's demand being for both the three-deckers and half the remainder, the negociation was broken off, and fire-ships were fitted out as the only chance of destroying them. In the mean time, the Thunder and another bomb-ship, covered by the Goliath and Salsette, continued to throw shells into the fortress, and on one occasion a magazine was blown up; but the fleet was too far within the harbour for the shells to reach them, or to prevent their extending a barricade of booms to prevent the approach of fire-ships. The Erebus and a brig having however been prepared, an attempt was made on the 20th September; but failed, owing to the rise of the moon before the vessels could approach.
 The Erebus sloop and Baltic, besides a brig, were converted into fire-ships.
The following is an extract from a letter written by Sir James to his brother:
Victory, off Port Baltic, 31st August 1808.
I have been disappointed in the expectations I so ardently formed when I wrote you last Monday. We arrived off Hango Udd, expecting all night to fall in with the Russian fleet; but at daylight a Swedish frigate joined, with the information that the Swedish squadron, with the Centaur and Implacable, had sailed on the 25th in pursuit of them, and chased them into this harbour; the Centaur and Implacable had cut off their rear ship, which was set on fire after her crew had been taken out.
I anchored at two yesterday afternoon, and had the satisfaction to find Sir S. Hood with the Swedish squadron at anchor, watching the enemy's squadron in the harbour, who have been occupied in fortifying themselves in the best manner; and I fear nothing can be attempted with any prospect of success, from what I am informed.
I most sincerely lament not to have been in time to join our ally, as most probably not a Russian would have escaped. My great consolation is, that not a moment has been lost; and, when it is considered that I was off here in only eight days from the time I left the Belt, it will appear almost surprising, particularly with the north winds we experienced.
Sir S. Hood and Captain Martin are beheld by the Swedes with adoration for their heroic attack on the enemy's ship; had the Swedes sailed as well as the Russians, not one would have escaped.
It was after this letter had been despatched that Sir James reconnoitred the enemy in the Victory; and, consequently, determined on an attack.
On the 23rd of September, Captain Bathurst, of the Salsette, and Captain Trolle, of the Camilla, being sent to ascertain the position of the Russian fleet, reported that they were so completely barricaded, that any further attempt with fire-ships would be fruitless; Sir James ordered the Erebus and Baltic to be restored to their former condition, the brig having been burnt in the attempt.
In addition to the scurvy, which made its appearance in the Swedish fleet early in the month of July, the crews were now attacked with a malignant epidemic, which daily became more fatal; those who had been affected by scurvy, being predisposed to catch the infection of the fever, were invariably carried off. A Swedish ship of the line and two frigates had been loaded with the sick from the different ships, and sent to Carlscrona. As the month of September advanced, it was evident that the Swedish fleet could not keep longer at sea; and that, if a reinforcement did not arrive from England, the blockade must soon be raised. Lemon-juice, sugar, &c. as well as medical assistance, was sent to the Swedes, but too late to have the desired effect.
Sir James, having anchored the Swedish ships farther out, persevered as long as it was possible, and the fleets rode out two heavy gales of wind in that exposed situation; while the Russian ships lay moored, with yards and topmasts struck, in the position given as second in the diagram (page 116).
The Swedish army in Finland had fought with great bravery, but were at length overpowered by numbers; Abo, the capital of Finland, was in the end taken, and that valuable country for ever lost to Sweden. The King, and subsequently the remains of his army, retreated to Stockholm, and the campaign terminated decidedly in favour of Russia.
After what has been stated, it will not excite surprise that Sir James should have had some anxiety about the opinion of the public, as will be seen by the following short extract, dated 26th September, &c.
I am anxious to hear what will be said of the occurrences here, although I am conscious of having acted for the good of my country to the utmost in my power; and I trust the whole of my conduct since my first coming upon the station will be entirely approved of by government: it is very possible there may be those who will be disposed to find fault, however unjustly.
It will be seen hereafter, that this apprehension was not ill-founded.
Before the arrival of the Victory and squadron off Rogerwick, Sir Samuel Hood had despatched his first lieutenant with the intelligence of the capture and destruction of the Russian seventy-four, Sewolod, and of the position of the Russian fleet. This officer was, of course, the bearer of many letters, which described the enemy's ships to be in a situation easily to be attacked, when the commander-in-chief should arrive. The expectations of the nation, from the known prowess of Sir James Saumarez, were therefore raised to the highest pitch. When the information subsequently reached England that he had not attacked them, it is not to be wondered at that blame should be attached to him by the public, who could not be aware of the existence of those circumstances which frustrated his intentions; and so long did this impression last, that it was only in 1834 that the Author explained the causes to his late Majesty, who had always been impressed with the idea that it was Sir James, and not the Swedish Admiral and Sir Samuel Hood, that objected to the attack; though certainly the very reverse was the fact. There can be no doubt that, if Sir James had been authorised to take command of the Swedish fleet, he would, even against the opinion of Sir Samuel, have attacked the enemy's fleet on the 31st of August; and, as the wind changed on the following morning, he would have been able to carry off all his prizes without any difficulty. We have ever since lamented that the attempt, as planned by Sir James, was not promptly made.
The official description of the action with the Russian fleet will be found in the Appendix; as also Sir James's correspondence with his Swedish Majesty on the subject.
As it was hoped that some shift of wind would enable us to attack the enemy, we remained in a state of anxiety for three weeks. In the interim, intelligence was received of the success of the British arms in Spain, and of the expulsion of the French from Portugal. Sir James, in consequence of this information, and of the opinions before mentioned, and seeing that the enemy could neither be attacked nor blockaded any longer, weighed anchor on the 30th of September, and in company with the Swedes proceeded to Carlscrona, where he arrived on the 9th of October.
Sir James at Carlscrona.—Arrangements.—Author left in Sweden.—Letter from the Swedish Admiral.—Sir James leaves Carlscrona.—Arrives at Gothenburg.—Makes arrangements for the protection of the Trade.—Leaves Rear Admiral Keats in Command.—His departure from Sweden, and arrival in the Downs.—Proceeds to the Admiralty, and receives their Lordships' high approbation.—Proceedings of the Fleet.—Revolution in Sweden.—Sir James reappointed to the command in the Baltic.—His correspondence with Mr. Foster.—Official notice of the Duke of Sudermania being elected King of Sweden.—He confers upon Sir James the Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword.
On Sir James's arrival at Carlscrona, he was received with every mark of attention and respect by Admiral Puke, the governor, and other authorities. The sick, amounting to 3,000, were landed from the Swedish fleet; and their hospitals were visited and supplied, as far as possible, with medicine from the English, while they on the other hand received fresh provisions, vegetables, and water.
Arrangements being made for the protection of the commerce, and convoys, which were to sail as long as the sea was open, Sir James, and the Swedes themselves, aware of the inefficiency of the Swedish ships of war compared with the English, and desirous that they should be in a better state to co-operate next season, complied with the request of Admiral Nauckhoff, to leave the Author with them during the winter, to assist in their operations of refitting, &c.
On his leaving Carlscrona, Sir James received the following farewell letter from that officer:
His Swedish Majesty's ship Gustaf IV. Adolf, 20th October 1808.
I have the honour to acknowledge your excellency's letter of the 18th of this month, in which your excellency has been pleased, in the most polite and flattering terms, to mark your satisfaction with the co-operation of the Swedish squadron, and the conduct of the commanders of the ships under my orders.
It is impossible for me to express the sentiments of esteem and gratitude for the unremitting and zealous exertions with which your excellency on every occasion has been pleased to promote the interest of my sovereign and country. His Majesty, my royal master, will be duly informed of the valuable services rendered to him and to the Swedish nation by your excellency, and the gallant flag-officers, captains, and others under your command; and I shall certainly regard your excellency's appointment to the command of the British fleet in these seas, as a most convincing proof of the inviolable friendship which his only but most faithful and powerful ally the King of Great Britain entertains for him, and for the promotion of Swedish interests.
I beg your excellency will be pleased to convey my best thanks to every admiral, captain, and officer under your excellency's command, for all the attention and the very active zeal which they have on every occasion displayed. The care and attention which the worthy Dr. Jameson, and the surgeon Mr. Duke, have given to the sick, will ever be remembered with sentiments of sincere gratitude.
I have the honour to remain, With the highest regard and consideration, Your excellency's Most obedient and very humble servant, NAUCKHOFF, Rear-admiral.
Admiral Nauckhoff struck his flag on the 15th of November; at which time the mortality and sickness had been so great, that only three frigates could be manned to assist in the protection of the trade.
Sir James left Carlscrona on the 25th October, and, passing through the Great Belt, reached Gothenburg on the 29th of November. Here he remained in the Victory until the 3rd of December, during which interval he made the necessary arrangements for the protection of the trade in that quarter; and, leaving Rear-admiral Keats in the Superb, and, under his command, the Orion and two smaller vessels, he proceeded to the Downs, where he landed on the 8th, and appeared at the Admiralty on the 9th current. Their lordships were pleased to signify their high approbation of every part of his conduct, as far as the naval operations were concerned; but they considered his address to the Emperor of Russia a stretch of power. Of this the public will judge. Sir James did no more, in fact, than propose an armistice, which is undoubtedly the province of every commander-in-chief. It is indeed true that Buonaparte, who was at Erfurth when the Emperor Alexander received his letter, made this the basis of a deceitful overture for peace, in order to gain time, and thereby puzzle the ministers a little; but this circumstance can never be held out as a reason for preventing a commander-in-chief at a great distance from home concluding an armistice, when he is confident it would be beneficial to the cause on which he is engaged.
In the mean time, the Russian fleet, with the exception of two ships, which were lost on the passage, succeeded in returning to Cronstadt. It was said that Admiral Henikoff, who commanded, was degraded in consequence of his conduct in not engaging the Swedish fleet.
The mortality continued at Carlscrona among the seamen until the cold weather set in about Christmas, when it was calculated that the Swedes had lost a number nearly equal to the original crews of their ships, including sixty-four officers; among whom were fourteen of the rank of captain (lieut.-col. in their service).
The Orion sailed with the first convoy in November, which she carried successfully through the Belt. The next ship was the Africa, which, after seeing her convoy through the Malinoe channel, was attacked by Danish gun-boats in a calm, and suffered so severely as to oblige her to return to Carlscrona. The Mars, Orion, and two bombs, made an unsuccessful attack on Eurtholms; but the last convoy which left Carlscrona, under the Salsette, Magnet, and two Swedish sloops of war, was the most disastrous undertaking of all. They sailed on the 23rd December, after the winter set in with unusual severity. A storm coming on from the northward, brought the already-formed ice down on the convoy. The Magnet (Captain Morris) was wrecked, with several others; the rest, with the Salsette and two Swedish armed ships, were carried back into the Baltic; and, excepting the Salsette, none of them were ever heard of.
The gallant Captain Bathurst, who afterwards fell gloriously at Navarin, after suffering severe hardships by being frozen out the whole winter, during which his ship was drifted twice round the island of Bornholm, was able to approach Carlshamn in March, and was cut into that harbour by the Swedes, who afforded him every assistance. The Swedish armed ships were lost by being carried by the ice on a sandbank in sight of the Salsette, which had then only four feet water to spare; the former, immediately they struck, turned bottom up, and all hands perished, being instantly covered with the ice. The thermometer, in January 1809, sank to forty-five degrees below zero; the Sound and Belt were completely frozen over, and many passed between Sweden and Denmark on horseback over the ice.
The Author did not escape the infection at Carlscrona, but was one of the first who recovered, and was sent for by the King to Stockholm; it was, however, the middle of February before he could undertake the journey.
There were at one time nineteen packets due from England.
Things in Sweden began to take a different turn. The conduct of the King in disgracing his guards, because, after beating three times their number of Russians in Finland, they were obliged to retreat, and could no longer defend Abo, the capital of that province, rendered him unpopular; and a conspiracy was formed, at the head of which was Aldercreutz, the general who had been in Finland, in conjunction with Aldersparre, who commanded the western army, which was secretly set in motion for Stockholm from the frontiers of Norway, and had arrived at Orebro before reports of its progress reached the King.
On the night of the 8th of March, his Majesty issued orders for all the troops to get under arms at daylight; and on the morning of the 9th he demanded the specie from the bank, intending to set off with it to Scania. The ministers and officers of state were summoned to the council; and others, among whom was the Author, were required to attend his levee at nine o'clock, which was the moment fixed on by the conspirators, who entered, and told the King that he must not leave Stockholm. Drawing his sword, his Majesty made a pass at one of the conspirators: in the mean time the General seized the staff of power, and ordered the others to seize the King, which they immediately obeyed by forcing him into the next room. They forgot, however, when they locked the door, that there was a private entrance, out of which the King immediately escaped, and appearing on the staircase, below which the Author was standing, he called loudly for help. Some of the conspirators, however, with great presence of mind, called to the soldiers on duty, "The King is mad;" on which they again secured him, and in the evening he was removed to Drottningholm, where his family resided.
 In Sweden the high officers of state carry a staff, which is in fact their commission; therefore the staff of power was that of the commander-in-chief of the army, which the King always kept; but, when seized by another, he lost the power, every person by the law of Sweden being obliged to obey whoever is in actual possession of this staff.
The conspirators then went to his uncle the Duke of Sudermania, and, having represented the state of the King, requested he would assume the reins of government, to which he readily assented; and a proclamation was forthwith issued, declaring that Gustaf IV. Adolf was unable to govern the nation, and that his uncle had assumed the royal authority in his stead.
This proclamation made no sensation, and things went on as if nothing had happened.
The new regent and government were of course anxious to have the matter set favourably before the government of England; and, in order to prove that the King was actually deranged, the regent submitted to the Author a paper found in the dethroned King's desk, certainly in his own handwriting, in which he described himself as the "Man on the white horse" in the Revelations, and declared that he must fight a battle under the walls of Copenhagen, which would give peace to Europe.
The Author, who had only a few days before been named aide-de-camp and adjutant to the fleet, had no longer any command, and therefore demanded his passports, which were granted: but, understanding that he was to be arrested at Orebro, he left Stockholm two hours sooner than the stated time of his departure, and by pretending that he was a Swedish officer who had despatches for Count Rosen at Gothenburg, and that the English officer was some hours behind, he escaped through the western army, after being questioned and examined by Aldersparre. He at length arrived safe on board the Superb, which had cut out of the ice into Wingo Sound; and, being immediately forwarded by a packet, reached London in only nine days, where he found Sir James Saumarez preparing to resume his command.
It has been seen that, after Sir James's arrival in London, he was offered the chief command in the East Indies, which he declined chiefly because he did not consider his health equal to it; but he was not allowed to remain long idle. A squadron of the enemy's ships having escaped the vigilance of the Brest blockading fleet, Sir James was ordered to hoist his flag in the Mars, and proceed to sea in search of them: but their return into port before his squadron could be reported ready, did away with the necessity of his following them; and the affairs in Sweden rendering more necessary than ever, that an officer of his rank, character, and abilities should be sent to the Baltic, he was reappointed to that important command.
In the mean time Captain Searle was appointed to the Victory, Vice-captain Dumaresq, who had left her in consequence of a severe family affliction. The former was sent to Corunna, and was one of the fleet which brought home the remains of the army of the gallant but unfortunate Sir John Moore. On her return, Captain Dumaresq returned to the ship, as also Captain Hope, in his former situation; and Sir James's flag was hoisted in April at the Nore, whence she sailed soon after. His instructions were to proceed to Gothenburg, and take under his command all his Majesty's ships and vessels employed and to be employed in the Baltic: he was to consider the protection of the trade his principal object; to watch the Russian fleet, and attack it if possible. In the present state of Sweden no precise instruction could be given: but he was to preserve as long as possible an amicable intercourse with the Swedes; to use every means in his power to encourage and protect the trade of his Majesty's subjects with Sweden; to be cautious not to give offence to its government, and to afford protection to such Swedish vessels as might require it; to keep up the supply of water and provisions in the fleet, so as not to be dependent on the supplies from Swedish ports; and finally, to guard against the admission of the infectious disease which was at that time prevalent in Sweden.
The Victory arrived at her station on the 6th May, when a correspondence took place between Sir James and Mr. Merry, the British minister and charge d'affaires. Sir James informed the latter that the Alexandria was ordered to take his excellency to England if required, which offer was accepted by Mr. Merry. Mr. Augustus Foster was left as charge d'affaires, who announced his appointment in a letter to Sir James, dated Stockholm, 7th May. He describes the state of Sweden to be most unsettled and perplexing, but that no change had taken place in regard to her relations with England.
The following is a continuation of the correspondence between Sir James and Mr. Foster:
Victory, in Wingo Sound, 11th May 1809.
Having arrived at this anchorage on the 4th instant, and Rear-admiral Sir Samuel Hood being parted for England, in consequence of the ill state of his health, I opened your letter addressed to the Rear-admiral, dated 7th instant, informing him of your being appointed his Majesty's charge d'affaires in the absence of Mr. Merry.
I have the honour to inform you that I shall feel highly gratified by any communication you may be pleased to make to me relating to his Majesty's service, and which may be interesting for my knowledge as commander-in-chief in these seas; and I shall be happy in conveying to you any information in my power, which may be connected with his Majesty's service.
His excellency Mr. Merry sailed yesterday for England, on board his Majesty's ship Alexandria. From him I received such information as he possessed to the period of his leaving Stockholm. I propose to detach Rear-admiral Dixon, who joined me the 9th instant in the Temeraire, to relieve Sir Richard G. Keats; and I propose to continue here for some time longer for the more speedy communication with England, as well as to receive what you may do me the honour to write to me; giving you due notice previously to my proceeding for the Baltic.
The accounts rumoured of the pretended defeat of the Austrians, I trust, will not prove correct; and we must not be surprised at the circulation of exaggerated accounts of the success of Buonaparte in the present state of affairs on the continent and in the northern parts of Europe.
I have the honour to be, With great truth and respect, Sir, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
To A. Foster, Esq. his Britannic Majesty's charge d'affaires, Stockholm.
Stockholm, 15th May 1809.
Scarcely had the letter which I wrote to your excellency late last night been received by the person who set out with it this morning, when a note reached me from Baron de Lagerbjelke, minister for foreign affairs ad interim of this government, to inform me of his having important communications to make to me, and appointing an hour for a conference with me this forenoon.
The object of this conference was to expose to me the critical position in which Sweden is placed at this moment, from her desire to remain in amity and maintain her commercial intercourse with Great Britain, of which, as he was pleased to express himself, she was on the point of becoming the victim; and to ask of me to explain to you the full extent of her dangers, in the confidence that you would give her all the assistance in your power which her perilous situation requires, without waiting for instructions for the purpose from his Majesty's government; it not being the interest of England that this country should be conquered by Russia, although the same alliance no longer existed between his Majesty and the Swedish government. Buonaparte has evaded the repeated solicitations of Sweden to take into his own hands the management of the negociation for a peace, which this country is willing to enter into with all her enemies; and has referred her for the terms of such a peace entirely to the court of St. Petersburg. This court, meanwhile, has manifested the most marked discontent at the delays which have already taken place in the negociation; and has insisted, as a preliminary condition to the treating for peace, that this country should enter into the alliance against Great Britain. She has also declared the kind of armistice concluded by her generals at an end; and Baron Schwaren, who had been sent on a mission to St. Petersburg, which place he left the 24th ultimo, returned here on the 6th instant, bringing intelligence of very formidable preparations which are making in Finland for the immediate invasion of this country, while the Russian army at Torneo has been considerably reinforced.
Baron de Lagerbjelke gave me the assurances of the Duke of Sudermania, that every effort shall be made on the part of Sweden to repel the meditated attack of Russia, and that his Royal Highness is determined not to yield to the conditions of peace proposed by her, as long as he has the means of defending himself; but he proposes that your excellency should on your part aid him in his defence, by displaying first a part of the fleet under your command in the Sound and on the coast of Denmark, to deter the Danes from making an attack on the southern provinces of Sweden, while the troops and sailors necessary for the defence of this part of the kingdom shall be withdrawn from these shores. Secondly, that you should engage to send such a force into the Baltic sea as to render it dangerous for the Russians to make any attempt with ships of the line against the harbours, or to carry an invading force against the coast of Sweden. And thirdly, that by detaching sloops of war, brigs, and frigates in the direction from Norrkoeping and Stockholm, as far as Gefle, you should strew such a force in those seas as to intimidate the Russian General in Finland from embarking his troops on board the flotilla at Abo, for the purpose of attacking at once the centre of this kingdom. Such are the paucity of means, and so few the troops which this government can assemble for the defence of Sweden against so powerful an enemy, that the invasion cannot in all probability but succeed, unless your excellency can send the aid the King desires.
On the supposition that you might act in consequence of the above-mentioned representation of this government, I observed to Baron de Lagerbjelke, that, from the remoteness of the seas in the neighbourhood of Aland and Gefle, it was very probable that many of your officers might be unacquainted with them, and thereby risk being thrown into situations of danger; on which he observed, that through the means of his father, the minister of marine, he should take care that pilots should be sent out to meet you whenever it was ascertained that any of the ships under your command were coming into these seas. The navigation of the Gulf of Bothnia promises now to be open in ten days or a fortnight; and therefore this government hopes, in case you should accede to their wishes, that as little time as possible may be lost in the execution of them.
Three Swedish frigates, as Baron de Lagerbjelke gave me to understand, have been ordered round from Carlscrona to cruise off these coasts; and 106 gun-boats, hemmemas, and other vessels, are at present in or near the water; but the want of men from the mortality of the last winter is severely felt, and can only be supplied from the south, in case you think fit to coincide with the views of this government.
I have, &c. &c. &c. AUGT. FOSTER.
Vice-admiral Sir James Saumarez, Bart, and K.B. &c. &c. &c.
This was the first communication which had been made by the Swedish government since Gustaf IV. Adolf was deposed, and his uncle had accepted the regency with full powers. By this expose it appears that their first act after the revolution was to try to make peace singly with Buonaparte, which was of course refused; because the Swedes could give him nothing in return, and shutting the ports against Great Britain was a preliminary that could not be dispensed with. There was no alternative therefore but to apply to England for protection against their inveterate enemies the Russians, who had already possessed themselves of all Finland, and were preparing for the invasion of Sweden. Mr. Foster added the following private opinion on the state of affairs, which now became so interesting:
Stockholm, 15th May 1809.
I have written you a long public letter upon the wishes of this government for your co-operation in the defence of Sweden. My private opinion is, that the Swedes, in addition to their desire to maintain their commercial relations with us, (which of course they wish should be still carried on, though by secret understanding,) entertain the design of preventing the Russians from interfering in their interior concerns; they also hope the French may be ultimately victorious against Austria, as they suppose they will not be inclined to the confirming of Russia in her conquest of Finland; which considerations make this government so backward in accepting the terms proposed by Russia. In the mean time they are in a most deplorable state, and cannot, I believe, collect 10,000 men: without your assistance they must perish or yield; with your aid it will be but a respite, I dare say, but perhaps of use for the Swedes.
The news of to-day is rather better: on the Tagliamento it would appear the Austrians are victorious; and in Poland, where Colonel Marfeld is said to have cut off some Russians, marched on Warsaw, and to be about besieging Dantzic: these latter want confirmation. The French, I fear, have crossed the Inn, but with great loss.
I have, &c. &c. &c. AUGT. FOSTER.
Vice-admiral Sir James Saumarez, Bart. and K.B. &c. &c. &c.
To the above letters Sir James returned the following satisfactory answer, which decided the plan of his operations for this year:
Victory, Wingo Sound, Gothenburg, 18th May 1809.
I have just received the honour of your letter of the 15th instant, by the messenger Mears, acquainting me with the particulars of a conference you had with Baron de Lagerbjelke on the present critical state of Sweden, in consequence, as he was pleased to state to you, of her desire to remain in amity, and maintain her commercial relations, with Great Britain; and requesting you to explain to me the full extent of her danger, in the confidence that I should give all the assistance in my power which her perilous situation required, without waiting for instructions from his Majesty's government. Also informing me of the formidable preparations making in Finland for the immediate invasion of Sweden.
The assurances made to you through Baron de Lagerbjelke, on the part of the Duke of Sudermania, that every effort will be made to repel the meditated attack of Russia, and that his Royal Highness has determined not to yield to the conditions of peace proposed to him, as long as he has the means of defending himself, will decide me in employing the fleet under my command in the best manner in my power for the defence of Sweden; for which purpose an adequate force will be stationed in the Sound and on the coast of Denmark, to intimidate the Danes from making any attack on the southern provinces of Sweden; and a squadron of line of battle ships will be employed in the Baltic to watch the Russian fleet, and prevent any attempt on their part to carry an invading army against the coast of Sweden from the side of Finland.
As the attention of the Swedish marine will be principally confined to the defence of Stockholm, and the coast within the Gulf of Bothnia, it is to be presumed that, with proper exertion, they will be perfectly adequate to that service; and as three Swedish frigates have been ordered to cruise on that station, with other armed vessels, and one hundred and six gun-boats, no doubt can be entertained of their being for the present sufficient to repel the enemy; and I shall readily order such further part of the force under my command, as can be spared from other services, to co-operate in that quarter. The important transactions going on in the southern coast of the Baltic, in which the interest of Sweden is materially concerned, require a considerable part of the force under my orders for that particular service; but I have the honour to assure you, that every effort will be exerted for the protection and security of Sweden against any attack of the enemy.
You will be pleased to take the necessary measures that orders may be given for his Majesty's ships to be supplied with water, and such necessaries as they may stand in need of, at Carlscrona and other Swedish ports; and pilots when they require them.
I have the honour to be, &c. JAS. SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
Victory, in Wingo Sound, 18th May 1809.
I have replied to your public letter as fully as I can consider myself warranted, without having received any special instructions on the subject from his Majesty's government; but, considering it to be the intention to maintain the terms of amity with Sweden so long as it can be done consistently, and prevent the country from falling a prey to the common enemy, I trust to be right in using my efforts for that purpose; and I hope to receive the sanction of ministers on the measure I am adopting. I shall proceed for the Baltic the moment it lies in my power; but the late prevailing calms and adverse winds have prevented the arrival of the ships on their way to join me, and no accounts later than the 5th from London have reached this place. I sent, three days since, a small detachment of ships to take possession of Anholt, where supplies of water could be obtained, and which would also be a proper place for convoys to resort to in the event of exclusion from the Swedish ports. Any information you can favour me with respecting the state of the Russian fleet at Cronstadt will be highly desirable, and also the probable time they may be enabled to put to sea from that port.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
To Augt. Foster, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
As the next letter from Mr. Foster gives an account of the Russian forces and other interesting particulars, we have given it a place here, which makes any further account of the situation of Sweden unnecessary.
Stockholm, 14th May 1809.
I received this evening the letter which your excellency did me the honour to write to me, dated the 11th instant, in answer to one which I had written to Rear-admiral Sir Samuel Hood on the 7th.
I take the opportunity of a private conveyance to have this forwarded to you at Gottenburg; and I beg to assure you that no efforts shall be wanting on my part to procure information which may be interesting to you as commander-in-chief in these seas, and to convey it to you as speedily as possible.
Our relations with Sweden have not changed materially since Mr. Merry's departure. Indeed, this government has had no stated form hitherto; though now the Duke of Sudermania is empowered to treat for peace, or to continue war. The Russians have a disposable force of near 20,000 men in Finland, and 105 gun-boats, and are building more, which creates alarm here; and it has been strongly insinuated by several of the officers of government here to me, that nothing could be more grateful to them than such movements of the fleet under your command, sir, as would overawe the Danes, while they should deter the Russians from attempting invasion on the Bothnia coasts of this country; or which, by giving them security in Scania, would enable them to draw their forces this way.
Captain Tillard will sail on the 20th instant, with about eighteen or nineteen merchant-ships under his convoy.
I have, &c. &c. &c. AUGT. FOSTER.
Vice-admiral Sir Jas. Saumarez, Bart, and K.B.
Sir James soon after received a letter in the French language from R.A. Nauckhoff, containing the same expose and request as Baron Lagerbjelke had made. He concludes with the following additional particulars:
Les etats du Royaume de Swede ont declare par un acte formel, le 12 de ce mois, que le Roi ci-devant, aussi que son fils, a perdu tout le droit au trone ou a la couronne de Swede pour jamais: c'est la mauvaise conduite dans le gouvernement, dont tout le Royaume est mis en misere, qui a cause le malheur de ce Roi et sa famille. Le Duc Charles est, en attendant, Regent avec tout le pouvoir du Roi, et il sera fait et declare pour Roi de Swede aussitot que les etats ont eu le tems pour faire une autre forme de regence. Dans le moment on apporte la nouvelle que les Autrichiens ont totalement battu l'armee de Napoleon. Si cela se manifeste, je n'en doute pas que cela causerat des grands changemens chez les puissances du Nord.
The attack on the island of Anholt, for which Sir James had previously obtained the sanction of government, was completely successful. The detachment consisted of the Standard, sixty-four, Captain Hollies; the Owen Glendower, thirty-six; Avenger, Rose, Ranger, sloops; and Snipe, gun-boat: this was reinforced by the marines of the Victory, under Captain Peter Jones, who particularly distinguished himself.
The governor, having been summoned, refused to surrender; when the marines of the squadron were immediately landed, under Captain Nicolls, who was senior officer, and who soon stormed their batteries, and obliged the governor to surrender at discretion.
 Sir James, before leaving Wingo Sound, sent Captain Acklom home with the following letter, and a detailed account of the capture of the island, which will be found in the Appendix:
Victory, Wingo Sound, 24th May 1809.
MY DEAR LORD,
It is with great satisfaction I have the honour to inform your lordship of the capture of the island of Anholt, which, although not a very productive island, will prove of great importance for the purposes as stated in my public letters, more particularly when excluded from the ports of Sweden. Captain Acklom is a very deserving officer, who has been on the station all the winter; being known to his grace the Duke of Portland, he flatters himself with the hope of promotion.
Lieutenant Daniel Ross, acting on board the Kangaroo, is an old follower of mine, and a most deserving man. I shall feel greatly obliged to your lordship for his promotion.
I hope to be enabled to sail for the Baltic this evening; but the late calms and baffling winds have proved against us, and delayed the ships getting through the Belt.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAS. SAUMAREZ.
The Right Hon. Lord Mulgrave.
The objects of this capture were to obtain a supply of water, a rendezvous for convoys, and the destruction of a retreat for privateers. Sir James appointed Captain Nicolls governor of Anholt, which was confirmed by the Admiralty. Rear-admiral Sir Samuel Hood returned to England on account of ill health, and was replaced by Rear-admiral Pickmore, who was stationed in the Belt under Rear-admirals Keats and Manly Dixon; while Rear-admiral Bertie was stationed at Helsingburg: the former three having the care and directions of convoying the fleets of merchant ships through the Belt; the latter through the Sound and Malmoe channel. Sir James, in passing through the Great Belt, visited the station at the island of Sproe, and afforded protection to a numerous convoy of merchant ships passing at that time, and trading under neutral colours, under a licence from the English and the Swedish governments.
After touching at Ystad, Sir James arrived at Carlscrona on the 4th of June: from Ystad, he wrote the following letter to Mr. Foster:
Victory, Great Belt, 29th May 1809.
I had the honour yesterday morning to receive your letter of the 19th, inclosing one from Admiral Nauckhoff addressed to me, and also the copy of General Wrede's report on the state of the north. I have been detained by adverse currents and calms since my departure from Gottenburg; but think myself fortunate in having been as early as Admiral Dixon, who sailed eight days before me, and with whom I fell in yesterday evening off Langeland.
The Danish force of gun-boats in the Belt has been considerably increased since last year. The Melpomene frigate was attacked by several in the night of the 23rd, and had four men killed besides about twenty wounded. Captain Warren, in having drawn their attention, succeeded in preserving a numerous convoy at anchor near Langeland, which seemed to have been the principal object for which they came out. The Ardent having very injudiciously landed a party of men on the island of Ramsoe, for the purpose of procuring a supply of wood and water, they suffered themselves to be surprised, and about eighty men were made prisoners.
I am hastening with all despatch towards Carlscrona, and I hope to have the honour of hearing from you in my way off Ystad. I think it right to mention, in confidence, that I shall not have more than six sail of the line of battleships with me, until I can be joined by those that may be on their way from England.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. his Majesty's charge d'affaires, Stockholm.
Victory, off Ystad, 30th May 1809.
I have the honour to acquaint you with my arrival off Ystad this afternoon, and that I have received your letter of the 23rd instant, informing me of the satisfaction expressed by the Swedish minister, M. de Lagerbjelke, at my compliance with the request of the Swedish government in affording them all the assistance in my power; and that Vice-admiral Stedinck had promised to take the necessary steps for the fleet under my command being supplied with water and necessaries, as well as pilots; and also informing me of the exertions used by the Swedish marine for the defence and security of the country.
As it may be necessary for convoys to pass through the Malmoe channel, I trust you have represented the expediency of the co-operation of the Swedish gun-boats stationed there; and I request you will please to signify to the Swedish government that all the protection in my power to afford the trade of Sweden, shall be granted to them.
I am proceeding with all despatch off Carlscrona, where I hope to have the honour of hearing further from you: as I shall probably proceed from Carlscrona off Dalaroe, you will permit me to have such letters or despatches as may arrive for me at Gottenburg from England to be addressed to your care. I have, &c. &c. &c.
Augt. Foster, Esq. his Majesty's charge d'affaires, Stockholm.
P.S. A boat, spoken with this morning (30th May) from Stettin, reports that Colonel Schill had taken possession of Stralsund.
Sir James, while off Ystad, had the honour of receiving on board Prince William of Orange, who was the bearer of news which had great effect in deciding the Swedes in their choice of the line of policy to be pursued at this critical period. This account, which is detailed in Sir James's next letter to Mr. Foster, led to a correspondence which showed the nature of his opinion as to the integrity of the Swedes.
Victory, off Ystad, 3rd June 1809.
I have the greatest satisfaction in transmitting to you the copy of a bulletin, detailing a statement of the important victory gained by the Archduke Charles over Buonaparte on the 21st and 22nd of May. It was delivered to me by his highness Prince William of Orange, who, with two attendants, arrived on board the Victory yesterday from Colberg, on his way to England. There is every reason to hope this victory will have been followed up by other important successes, which will decide the other states in uniting with Austria to extirpate the tyrant of the human race. I am proceeding to Carlscrona, where I trust to find letters from you; and, in the present critical state of affairs with this country, I hope to be forgiven for again repeating my anxious wish to have the honour of hearing from you as frequently as possible.
Admiral Bertie, who is stationed off Helsinburg, wrote to me that he has made repeated applications through Mr. Consul Fenwick for pilots, but has not been able to procure any: as this is an object of great importance, I request you will represent it to the Swedish government. He also mentions his suspicions that a better understanding exists with the Danes, from the frequent flags of truce, and also from some prisoners having been exchanged from Denmark, which he states as a circumstance very unusual.
Sir R.G. Keats also informs me, that two ships of the line and a frigate are fitting with expedition, intended, as is reported, to transfer troops to the eastward; but he adds that it was also rumoured that the ports of Sweden are expected to be shut against us even before the 14th. Although I feel the greatest confidence that there can exist no intention on the part of Sweden to deceive, we cannot be too much on our guard with that government, should they find it necessary to enter upon terms with either Russia or Denmark.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. his Majesty's charge d'affaires, Stockholm.
Stockholm, June 9th, 1809.
I thank you for, and sincerely congratulate you on, the interesting news which you have been so obliging to send me from off Ystad. It is complete and glorious indeed, and will add to the other reasons I shall entertain for thinking that this government cannot mean to deceive us. Their situation is certainly a very delicate one; but, till now, I have no reason to complain of any insincerity on the part of the Swedes. Be assured that, if I had, I should instantly despatch notice of it to you. I do not like to venture writing general opinions by the common post, and therefore I have appeared perhaps to write to you too little at length hitherto. The post is also very tardy, or you must have received letters from me of the 23rd ultimo; one of the 30th must also be lying for you at Ystad. I shall now make a practice of writing to you by every post, as you very naturally will be glad to hear even negative news. Admiral Bertie's suspicions are very natural for him to entertain, but I really believe entirely unfounded.
The situation of Norway (which, I will confide to you, seems more critical for Denmark than for Sweden,) will account for so many couriers passing. The desire of peace, openly manifested by this country, accounts for their allowing such passage, which has for some time been permitted in return for the passage through Denmark being allowed to Swedish officers. As to a better understanding being supposed to exist with the Danes, I had occasion to inquire on this subject the day before yesterday of M. d'Engestroem, who is the new minister for foreign affairs here, and who assured me that the Danish government was even so pettish as to prevent the passage of the Hamburgh Gazette for some time back. The Russian government has demanded the exclusion of our ships from Swedish ports, and on this and other conditions have agreed to receive Baron Stedinck as negotiator: this they have informed me of, and at the same time of their intention to negotiate upon this point, and to gain further time. Delay is what they covet in appearance, and what in reality appears to be their interest to desire until the campaign in Germany is decided; for on it depends most probably the portion they will lose of territory, and the question even of their independence as regards their conduct towards us.
In the character of the Duke of Sudermania, who was created King on Thursday the 6th, I confess also that I place much confidence, more perhaps than in that of his ministers. His conduct has been loyal and frank, nor does he seem to exhibit that pliability in principles too common among this nation.
I have not time to copy the enclosure which I send you on the subject of pilots, which Vice-admiral Stedinck has just written out before me, as the post goes in an hour and a half; nor shall I perhaps have time to write to Admiral Bertie as I could wish, this being post-day for England.
Two ships of the line and a frigate are arrived off Dalaroe, with 2,000 some hundred troops, and 500 sailors; and twenty-four gun-boats set out the day before yesterday from here: fourteen more follow to-morrow or next day. A camp is to be formed at Upsala of 10,000 or 12,000 men; they mean to treat armed at least, which shows spirit. A Baron Taube has been sent to St. Petersburg to ask for passports for Baron Stedinck: he went the day before yesterday, and cannot be back under fifteen days.
The Russians are now said to have only about eighty-six gun-boats at Aland, but 11,000 men, and to be taking measures to defend themselves against you: one of the ships of the line is going back to Carlscrona; and a frigate, the Freya, I think. The report that the Swedish harbours would be shut against us on the 14th, must be attributed to the fears of the merchants, I suppose, who are nervous in such a precarious state of things as the present.
I have, &c. &c. &c. AUGT. FOSTER.
Vice-admiral Sir James Saumarez.
Victory, off Carlscrona, 15th June 1809.
I yesterday had the honour to receive your letter of the 9th instant, and although I was before perfectly convinced of the good disposition of the present government of Sweden towards our country, and of the sincerity of the Duke of Sudermania's intentions, I could not do otherwise than make you acquainted with the surmises of the two officers next in rank to me in the fleet. Your letter has perfectly removed any doubts that would have existed upon the subject, and I should place the same dependence in the Swedes as at the time of our alliance with them: the longer they are enabled to protract the negotiation with the Russian government, the more favourable will be the conditions of peace they are likely to obtain, as Russia will lose much of her ascendancy should Buonaparte be defeated by the arms of Austria.
The different accounts I receive from the Continent state that the French army has been very considerably reduced by the late actions, and that it is considered to be in a most critical situation. A messenger, who arrived yesterday on board the Victory, charged with despatches from Mr. Bathurst, informed me that, subsequently to the brilliant victory of the 23rd, there had been several actions, though of less importance; they had all terminated in favour of the Austrian troops. The messenger left Baden on the 4th instant; and described in the strongest terms the high spirits of the whole army, and the hopes formed that the next action would prove decisive, and annihilate the French.
I shall have great pleasure in transmitting to you any accounts I may receive of importance; and I return you my sincere thanks for the Gazette you did me the favour to enclose to me in your letter of the 6th. I beg leave to congratulate you on the splendid success that has attended the army in Portugal.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAS. SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. charge d'affaires, &c. Stockholm.
On the approach of the Victory off the harbour of Carlscrona, the Admiral wrote the following complimentary letter to Admiral Puke, who was then commander-in-chief and senior admiral in the Swedish service:
His Majesty's ship Victory, off Carlscrona, 4th June 1809.
It is with the highest satisfaction that I have the honour to inform your excellency of my arrival off Carlscrona, being in my way up the Baltic, with part of the fleet under my command, for the defence of Sweden against the attack of the Russian fleet, and that I shall use every possible effort to preserve the good understanding that has for so many years subsisted between our respective nations.
I shall be thankful to your excellency for any information you will be pleased to honour me with that can tend to the advancement of the great and good cause in which we are engaged; and I am happy in profiting by the present opportunity to transmit an official bulletin which I received last Friday, giving an account of a most important victory over the French army, commanded by Buonaparte in person. This glorious event, it is to be hoped, will unite the powers in the northern parts of the Continent totally to extirpate the atrocious tyrant, who has been so long the scourge of the human race.
I have the honour to be, With sentiments of the highest regard and consideration, Sir, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
Vice-admiral Puke, &c. &c. &c. Carlscrona.
To which Admiral Puke returned the following answer:
Carlscrona, 7th June 1809.
I felicitate myself very much on being so happy as to have occasion of renewing with your excellency the acquaintance I was favoured with the last year. Your excellency's flattering letter of the 4th instant gave me a very agreeable remembrance of it; and I may give my hearty acknowledgments therefore, as also for the news your excellency was pleased to annex.
The post arrived a short time ago from Stockholm, and did not contain any thing of importance, but that matters stand well. The German mail has not come, and, in general, the news was so contradictory that nobody knew what to believe.
All our forces on the southern coast being in the necessity to be drawn up to the northern parts of the country for repelling the attack of the Russians, the coasts on this side will be without sufficient defence. It is only in your excellency I may fix my confidence, convinced as I am by the good intelligence that subsists between both nations, and his Britannic Majesty's benevolence towards Sweden, your excellency will not omit to protect, as far as possible, the trade from Gothenburg and through the Baltic, and prevent all hostile enterprises.
I should wish to have some of such gun-brigs as your excellency can allow, and other small vessels, to send up to the Finnish Gulf, where they would be of no little service.
I include myself in your excellency's friendship, which I shall be very proud to possess; and wish no better than that your excellency, with all your brave officers and men, with their usual success, may frustrate the enemy's projects against us. It is with these sincere sentiments,
I have the honour to remain, &c. JOHAN AF PUKE.
At Carlscrona Sir James received intelligence of the fate of the unfortunate Major Schill, who had taken possession of Stralsund; but whose corps of 6,000, as well as himself, were surprised by a large body of Danish and Dutch troops and cut to pieces. These accounts, and a demand for bomb vessels to assist the Swedish flotilla, were sent to the Admiralty.
In consequence of a solicitation from Baron Stedinck, the Swedish Minister of Marine expressed the high satisfaction of the Duke Regent at the arrangement Sir James had made, not only for the protection of the coasts of Sweden on the south, east, and west, but for his undertaking to proceed up the Gulf of Finland, to prevent the sailing of the Russian fleet, with his own powerful squadron.
On the 6th of June, the Duke of Sudermania was elected King by the States, and took the title of Charles XIII, on which occasion due notice was given to the Admiral both by Mr. Foster and the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Baron Engestroem. At this time everything seemed to go well on the Continent, and the period of the new King's accession to the throne was thought a proper epoch to sue for peace with Russia. This, however, was not done without the knowledge of Mr. Foster, to whom assurances were given that the alliance with England should not be broken; and in this the King subsequently showed great firmness. An officer was sent to demand passports for Baron Stedinck, who was to be the negotiator, and who actually proceeded to the Gulf of Finland. But the Emperor of Russia, acting under the influence or fear of Buonaparte, made the shutting of their ports against the English a preliminary concession before he would either grant a passport to the negotiator, or a cessation of hostilities. The attempt, which was indeed intended to gain time until the war between Austria and France was decided, totally failed, and nothing was left but to prosecute the war.
An attack on Aland, which had been meditated, was abandoned; and the plan now was to cut off a division of the Russian army, which had advanced to Urneo, in West Bothnia, for which extraordinary exertions were made. In the meantime the Russians, amounting to 11,000, with 84 gun-boats, had, in dread of the approach of the Admiral's fleet, fortified themselves strongly in Aland, which could not safely be approached by ships of the line.
Prince William of Orange, who had brought the intelligence from Colberg of the fate of Major Schill, and been hospitably received on board the Victory, wrote the following letter, which Sir James received off Carlscrona:
MONSIEUR,—Arrive a Gothenburg, je m'empresse de remercier votre excellence de toutes ses bontes pour nous, et des facilites qu'elle nous a procurees pour continuer notre voyage. Je prends la liberte de joindre ici une lettre a M. Schroeder qui en renferme une autre a ma mere a Berlin; priant votre excellence de la faire parvenir a Colberg si elle en a occasion, je lui en aurai une grande obligation. Je suis avec une parfaite consideration,
De votre excellence, le tres devoue Serviteur, GUILLAUME, PRINCE D'ORANGE. Gothenburg, 6 Mai 1809.
Monsieur le Vice-amiral Saumarez.
The Victory left Carlscrona on the 20th June, having ten sail of the line in company, and proceeded to the Gulf of Finland, in order to blockade the Russian fleet at Cronstadt. Sir James chose a position at the small island of Nargue, near Revel, as the most convenient place: on passing Landsort, at the entrance of Stockholm, he sent the Rose with letters, and to receive any which Mr. Foster might have for him.
The coronation of the new King was to take place on the 29th June. It was the intention of his Majesty to invite Sir James to assist at that ceremony, had he anchored at Daleroe, the anchorage for ships of the line near the entrance of the river of Stockholm; but the Admiral had proceeded without anchoring, and on that day was off Hang Udd.
On arriving at Nargue Island, which had a Russian governor, but no fortification, Sir James found a large quantity of wood prepared for transportation to Revel, which was very acceptable to the fleet; but the water was not plentiful. The inhabitants of this island, who are fishermen and speak the Swedish language, are inoffensive people; and the Admiral, on his arrival, signified that it was not his intention to molest them.
A correspondence was established between Mr. Foster and Sir James by means of small vessels; and he was informed from time to time of the progress of the negotiation with Russia, which was now going on, but which, as we have already stated, entirely failed. It was proposed that Baron Platen, one of the most talented men in Sweden, should proceed to the Victory to confer with Sir James, and decide on some plan of co-operation against the common enemy. Having received this proposal from Mr. Foster, Sir James sent the Rose to convey the Baron to the Victory.
Captain Mansell, of the Rose, was the bearer of the following letter:
Victory, off Nargue Island, 11th July 1809.
By the Mary cutter, which arrived yesterday, I received your letters of the 2nd and 4th inst. marked private and confidential; and I return you thanks for the important communication you have been pleased to make to me of the rejection by Russia of the proposed armistice with Sweden, and of the intended plan of the latter to transport a force to Wasa to co-operate with General Wrede, and endeavour to force the Russian troops in West Bothnia to capitulate, which I sincerely hope will be attended with the desired success.
I have not seen Baron Platen yet; but, should he put in execution his intention of running to the squadron, I shall readily attend to any proposal he makes to me respecting a small part of the force under my orders being stationed off the Aland Haf, although the services in the Gulf of Finland occupy all the forces I can muster.
I remember to have had the honour of making the Baron's acquaintance, who appeared to me to be a clever and well-informed man. Be pleased to convey to him the information that, should he honour me with a visit, Captain Mansell has my directions to receive him on board, and that I shall be happy to concert with him any measures he may suggest for the defence of Sweden.
You will be happy to hear of the success that has attended a detachment of this fleet under the command of Captain Martin, of the Implacable, in an attack on the Russian flotilla, by the boats of that ship, the Bellerophon, Melpomene, and Prometheus, under the orders of Lieutenant Hawkey, who succeeded in boarding and carrying off six gun-boats, besides one sunk, and a convoy of vessels, fourteen in number, which were also captured, laden with stores and provisions for the Russian troops. It is with concern I have now to state the loss of Lieutenant Hawkey, who conducted that attack; and Lieutenant Stirling of the Prometheus, Mr. Mountenay, a midshipman, besides ten men killed and thirty-seven wounded.
The Implacable and Melpomene had, previously to this, nearly captured a large Russian frigate off Hoegland; but she escaped to Aspoe, and, with four other ships of war, proceeded between the rocks to Frederickshamn. On the following day they captured nine vessels laden with naval stores belonging to the Emperor, which they fell in with in Narva Bay.
I anchored here last Sunday in expectation of procuring a supply of wood and water; of the former I found an abundance, which had been ready prepared for the Emperor's troops at Revel, but was disappointed in being able to obtain but a small supply of water.
I am in anxious expectation of receiving favourable accounts from the armies. If Napoleon can but be defeated, the cause of Sweden will be materially benefited, and the Emperor of Russia kept within proper bounds.
I am, &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
One of the first acts of his Swedish Majesty after his coronation was to put into execution the intention of the former sovereign, by conferring on Sir James the Grand Cross of the honourable military order of the Sword for his past meritorious service. This was communicated to him in the handsomest manner; but the honour could not of course be accepted without the permission of his own sovereign, which, on application, was most graciously accorded.
The news of the triumph of the British squadron over the Russian flotilla occasioned great rejoicing in Sweden, and inspired the nation with new spirit and courage: congratulations were sent from all quarters. Baron Platen sailed in the Rose from Daleroe on the 20th, and came on board the Victory on the morning of the 23rd under a salute of seven guns.
In a letter to Mr. Foster, Sir James says:
"Since the attack upon the gun-boats, not a vessel has been seen upon the coast; and I hope effectually to prevent any supplies getting to the Russian troops in Finland excepting over land, which must tend to retard all their operations exceedingly.
"I have had this day (23rd July) a great deal of conversation with Baron Platen upon the actual state of affairs, and I feel perfectly disposed to give every assistance which the too limited means (owing to the various services required for my whole force) will admit. He informs me that the service is not likely to be of any continuance.
"I have ordered the Tribune, with the Rose and a gun-brig, to cruise in Aland Haf. The Tribune is a frigate of the largest class, which I can ill spare at present. Captain Reynolds will be directed to communicate with you, and I request you will furnish him with all such information as he may occasionally profit from.
"Baron Platen has brought me the decorations of Commander of the Grand Cross of the order of the Sword, a mark of distinction I by no means considered my services to have merited; and I feel sensibly this instance of attention from the King of Sweden. The choice fixed upon for successor to the throne is likely to lead to important events, as it is probable the Prince of Holstein will have influence enough in Norway to attach that country to Sweden, which would make up for the loss of Finland."
Blockade of the Russian fleet.—Swedes' expedition, under Admiral Puke and General Wachtmeister, sails,—is unsuccessful.—Private correspondence with Mr. Foster.—Armistice and Peace with Russia.—Peace with Denmark.—Proceedings of the Fleet.—State of affairs in Sweden.—Fleet returns to Carlscrona, and subsequently to England.
The part of the campaign which depended on Sir James Saumarez, namely, the blockade of the Russian fleet, which consisted of thirteen sail of the line,—the protection of the coast of Sweden and of the trade of both nations,—was completely successful. Not so, however, the efforts of the Swedes: they indeed fought most bravely; and, if any fault could be found with their general, it was that he was too courageous. The force of the Russians was too great for their Swedish opponents; and every attempt made by the latter was in vain, notwithstanding Baron Platen's wishes were acceded to. Admiral Puke, on receiving his appointment, left Carlscrona in a ship of the line, and, arriving off Daleroe, wrote the following letter to Sir James:
His Majesty's ship Adolf Frederick, off Daleroe, 2d Aug. 1809.
I do myself the honour to inform your excellency that his Swedish Majesty has most graciously been pleased to intrust to me the command of his sea and land forces, who are to act on the coasts and in the Gulf of Bothnia against the common enemy of our respective nations; and I beg to assure your excellency that nothing could afford me more pleasure than receiving your commands, if ever I can be of the smallest use to your excellency. I submit to your excellency's own judgment if it should not be useful to the common service to have respective officers, who are acquainted with the languages, placed aside of the commanders-in-chief. For my part, I should find it very agreeable if Lieutenant John Ross, who served last year on board the Swedish Admiral's ship, would be permitted to resume the same employment on board of this. He is so well acquainted with the Swedish language and customs, that I flatter myself he would have no objection to this proposition.
If winds permit, I intend to depart to-morrow with two ships, one frigate, six galleys, fifty gun-boats, and some transports, carrying 7,000 troops, and proceed up the Gulf in order to debark this army on a proper place, so that they might fall in the back and destroy the enemy's troops, who at present occupy the province of West Bothnia. Vice-admiral Baron Cederstrom will remain with one hundred gun-boats and some galleys to protect the Swedish coasts opposite Aland. The Camilla frigate is left cruising in the Aland Haf, to act in conjunction with the British force stationed there by the orders of your excellency.
I should think it very useful for the service we are upon if a British frigate and some sloops of war could be stationed at Revel, in order to prevent the enemy from sending any reinforcement to Aland; and also if your excellency should proceed further up in the Gulf of Finland with the British squadron, and make such demonstrations as would contribute to keep the enemy in uncertainty of an attack on either of the coasts in the Gulf. He would thereby be obliged to disperse his forces, which in the present case would be of the greatest utility for the service.
I submit all this to your excellency's invaluable judgment, and have the honour to remain, with the highest esteem and consideration,
Sir, Your excellency's Most obedient and most humble servant, JOHN AF PUKE, Admiral.
His Excellency Vice-admiral Saumarez, Commander-in-chief, &c.
The Swedish councillor of state, Baron Platen, who had been sent to communicate with Sir James, remained only a few days on board the Victory, when it was agreed that the Swedish flotilla should be reinforced, so that there could be no doubt left of its superiority to that of the Russians. The following correspondence will demonstrate the amicable feeling produced by the interview.
Stockholm, 2d August 1809.
It is with great pleasure I have the honour to return my best thanks for all the numberless civilities bestowed on me during my last visit. I should be vain were I to consider these as paid to me personally; they were given in honour of my King and country, so powerfully protected by your excellency, for which his Majesty has ordered me to express his highest gratitude. In reference to the operations in the common cause, as well as to some other matters, I have written to Captain Hope, to whom I sent several charts and drawings. I hope he will make out what I mean, though I cannot express my ideas as I wish in a foreign language.
Part of the expedition to the north is already under way, and the rest will to-morrow set off under the command of Admiral Puke. May the Almighty crown the undertaking with success, and soon send them back again! Perhaps something might be effected, before bad weather puts a stop to operations, with the small fleet. Till now, every event seems favourable to the expedition; and the knowledge of the chief makes me confident that what is possible will be done. How much will Sweden be indebted to your excellency for having so powerfully promoted the business by combined measures.
I rejoice in the opportunity this gives me to assure your excellency of the high esteem wherewith I am for ever,
Sir, &c. &c. &c. B.V. PLATEN.
P.S.—It is by the order of his Majesty that I have the honour to announce to your excellency that Lieutenant Ross has been created a Knight of the order of the Sword, on the particular request of the Admiral Puke.
Victory, Gulf of Finland, 12th August 1809.
With the greatest pleasure I have received the letter your excellency has done me the honour to write, and I have to express my sincerest regret at not having been able to enjoy for a longer time your valuable company on board the Victory; but when I considered how precious every hour must be to your excellency at this important epoch, I could not prevail upon myself to offer the least delay to your departure, however happy it would have made me to postpone it for some days longer.
I hope soon to have the satisfaction to be informed that the expedition has been crowned with the most complete success; and should the proposed enterprise against Aland be adopted, I trust to be able to reinforce the detachment under the orders of Captain Reynolds, and contribute, as far as my means will admit, to an expedition that has the security of Sweden for its object.
I return you my sincere thanks for the charts you have been pleased to send to Captain Hope, and for the attention your excellency has bestowed on the welfare of the squadron in directing that the ships may be supplied with fresh provisions from the island of Gothland, should they require it.
The unremitted marks of friendship and regard shown to the fleet under my command in the different ports in Sweden have excited my highest gratitude, and I have not failed to express the same to my government.
I shall take the earliest opportunity to signify to Mr. Ross, who is at this time absent from the squadron on a particular service, the distinguished mark of favour his Majesty the King of Sweden has been pleased to confer upon him for his services.
I have the honour to be, &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
His Excellency Baron de Platen, Stockholm.
 It has been already mentioned that a reinforcement was granted to Admiral Puke's expedition; but Lieutenant John Ross being at that time acting in command of his Majesty's sloop Ariel, and detached on a particular service, the request that he might be again appointed as adjutant to the Swedish fleet could not be complied with. The following letters from Sir James to Mr. Foster are given to show the progress of affairs at that time, and how dependent the Swedes were on the issue of undertakings in other quarters.
Victory, Gulf of Finland, 19th August 1809.
I received by the Mary your letter of the 10th, with the papers to the 1st instant from London. I hope the next accounts will convey the pleasing information of the complete success of the expedition under Lord Chatham, and that so powerful a blow in favour of the common cause will induce Austria to renew hostilities against Bonaparte. I shall also be happy to hear that the expedition to the Gulf of Bothnia has been terminated by the expulsion of the whole of the Russian force from Sweden. Nothing has transpired in these quarters since my last letter. From what I am informed, great discontent prevails in Russia at the conduct of Bonaparte with respect to Poland.
In my last letter from England, orders have been given for the vessels that conveyed the Spanish troops from the Danish islands to Gottenburg to be restored. This looks as if peace was about to take place between Sweden and Denmark; and I am informed by Mr. Merry it was a condition demanded by Denmark previously to preliminaries being entered into.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
Victory, Gulf of Finland, 22nd August 1809.
I return you many thanks for the letters and despatches you have been pleased to forward to me, and which, with your letter of the 19th, reached me yesterday evening. It becomes of so great importance that I should receive my several communications as speedily as possible, that I lose no time in hastening the cutter back to Dalaroe, and I shall be obliged to you to transmit my letters for England that I send by her.
I have this morning received a letter from Berlin, dated the 30th ultimo, from a person who had recently left the Austrian head-quarters. It was expected that hostilities would be renewed at the expiration of the armistice, and measures were ordered to be in readiness for that purpose. I also understand that information of this being the intention of the Emperor has been transmitted to government, and also to Lord Chatham, commanding the expedition. I therefore hope we may yet see a favourable termination of the campaign.
With respect to Sweden, I am really anxious to be informed what are the intentions of ministers relative to that country, as also if there exists any probability of their concluding peace with Russia and the other powers.
On receiving the account of the insurrection on the Earthholmes, I sent immediate orders to his Majesty's ships that might be at Carlscrona to use their endeavours to take possession of them, and I have detached a ship of the line upon that service. It is an island of great importance, and I sincerely hope it will fall into our hands. I also hope to receive accounts of the expedition from Sweden having succeeded to its fullest extent, and request you will be pleased to transmit to me the earliest accounts that may arrive. I am rather surprised at not having heard from the detachment under Captain Reynolds.
I have, &c. &c. &c. JAMES SAUMAREZ.
Augt. Foster, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
Admiral Puke, having been reinforced by the Tribune, Rose, Hearty, and some gun-boats, proceeded safely to his destination at West Bothnia. In every attack on the Russian flotilla he had the advantage, and he eventually landed General Count Wachtmeister with 7,000 troops near Umeoe. It appears that this general did not take up the best position for preventing the escape of the Russian general Kaminski, who, notwithstanding the bravery of the Swedish troops in the battle of Umeoe, succeeded in effecting a retreat on a reinforcement, and at length compelled the Swedish general to propose an armistice on the terms dictated by Russia. This led to a peace, by which Russia obtained the whole of Finland and West Bothnia as far as Umeoe.
The terms would no doubt have been still worse had not the English fleet remained in the Gulf, for there was nothing else to prevent the Russians from taking possession of Stockholm. It will be manifest, from the following correspondence, that, under circumstances of heavy responsibility, Sir James remained to a very late period for the defence of Sweden and the protection of the commerce of that country and England.
Stockholm, 2d Sept. 1809.
I had the honour to receive yesterday your excellency's letter, dated 28th ultimo. Despatches and letters have been lying here for you some days: in those which came yesterday you will find the official account of the surrender of Flushing. I am sorry not to be able to give you such satisfactory intelligence as I could wish of the operations of the Swedes, who have failed to cut off the retreat of the enemy, although they have gained considerable advantages. I enclose to you the Swedish Gazette, as I think you have an officer on board who can read it.
I delivered to Baron Platen your message. He is, however, quite despondent as to the possibility now of an attack upon Aland. Count ——, it really appears, might have taken a stronger position, so as to prevent the escape of Kaminski. The time that will now be lost in his pursuit being fatal, renders future operations equally so.
The Baron means to write to you, and I shall detain the King's messenger Meares; whom, not having anybody else to send, I am obliged to despatch to Daleroe until this letter is ready.
The negotiation at Frederickshamn, as far as I can understand, is proceeding slowly. The demands of Russia continue peremptory, as before, upon the cessions required. On the article respecting us, some propositions of a modifying nature have been offered by the Russians; such as though the general preliminary for excluding from Swedish ports is still insisted on, that colonial goods, salt, and raw produce of various kinds, amounting to almost every thing that is not actually prohibited by the Swedish laws, shall be considered as exceptions. But on the question of the ships, and particularly of the ships of war of Great Britain, I am afraid, in the present state of things, that Sweden will not obtain a peace without a stipulation for their exclusion.
Under this conviction I have addressed myself to Baron Engerstrom, representing to him the danger that his Majesty's ships might be exposed to in keeping the seas at the perilous season of the year if no ports were open to them; and I requested of him to give me early intelligence if Sweden were disposed to consent to this article, and as to when it might be put into execution. The Swedish minister gave me the most solemn assurances that he would not fail to communicate to me full time enough if this country should be obliged to enter into such stipulations; and observed that, although necessity might oblige them to act against their wishes, yet that they would always be honest. He likewise remarked that preliminary conditions were not at any rate to be put in force until the peace was ratified; and that, before that event should take place, arrangements were to be entered into relative to the ceded provinces, which would necessarily cause a very considerable delay; so that he would not look upon a final arrangement with Russia as being likely to ensue before the winter should set in, and render navigation impracticable.
The Swedish minister has frequently remarked to me, that, even if a treaty should be signed by which Sweden should bind herself to exclude us from her ports, such an obligation could only extend to those that were capable of defence; but that there were innumerable inlets and harbours which were not commanded by cannon, and which of course could not be included. One of the propositions to be put forward will, I have reason to think, be grounded upon this state of the coasts; and it will be offered to close the large harbours, mentioning them by name, leaving the rest open. I should be glad to know what you think of these speculations of the Swedish cabinet on so interesting a point. If the Earthholmes are taken, I suppose you will not be very anxious about them. I forward to you two German papers from Mr. Fenwick, and two of Pelletier's papers, which you may like to see, and have an occasion to forward to Mr. Drusina. The Hamburg Gazette says the armistice is broken in Germany, and there are reports of two battles.
I have, &c. &c. &c. AUGT. FOSTER.
Vice-admiral Sir James Saumarez.
Victory, Gulf of Finland, 8th Sept. 1809.
I had the honour to receive yesterday your letter of the 2nd inst., and I am truly concerned to find the success of the Swedish expedition has been so very inadequate to what was reasonably to have been expected, and that the delay in endeavouring to cut off the retreat of the Russian troops will render it too late to make the intended attack upon Aland. The terms persisted in by Russia appear to be very severe; but I apprehend Sweden will be obliged to make the most of them, from the slender means she has of defending herself during the winter months, when the country will be exposed to danger of an invasion. It is a fortunate circumstance that the navigation has been so long protracted as to enable the trade to proceed hitherto out of the Baltic, and as considerable delay must still take place before the peace can be ratified, it will afford sufficient time for the ships that are loading in the Russian ports to assemble at Carlscrona before the exclusion can be enforced. The period agreed upon for the last convoy to sail from Carlscrona was fixed to the 15th Nov., till which time, at least, we must hope the ports will be open, both to ships of war and the trade. Should you think it advisable, it might be mentioned to the Swedish minister (Baron Engerstrom) that if the stipulation of exclusion is absolutely insisted upon, that it is hoped that it will not be put in force till the winter is too far advanced to admit any ships sailing from the ports of Russia.
It will be proper to know from Baron Engerstrom if the notice that was signified in the spring, of not allowing more than five or six pendants at a time at Carlscrona or other ports in Sweden, is insisted upon at present, in order that I may regulate myself accordingly. At the same time, as tempestuous weather in going down the Baltic, or other circumstances, may render it advisable for the whole squadron to enter Carlscrona, I would wish orders to be given for that purpose, and that the pilots may be directed to go out to ships making the signal. I shall be obliged to you to let me know by the return of this vessel the determination of the Swedish government upon this point.