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The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, Vol. II
by Thomas Lord Cochrane
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MY LORD,

I have the honour to announce to you that, after much delay and disappointment—usual in Greece—I am about to proceed to Lepanto to-morrow, and endeavour to destroy the Turkish vessels there. I then go outside, to pass General Church over into Roumelia, and afterwards blockade Missolonghi, Patras, and Lepanto. The want of the gunboats here is much felt by me at this moment, as, in going out, I must leave the Gulf to the Turks; who, even should I be fortunate enough to destroy the enemy's vessels at Lepanto, will always have here armed boats enough to command the Gulf.

I must also beg of your lordship to consider us in money matters. I am now seven thousand pounds out of pocket by Greek affairs, and I am daily now expending my own money for the public service. Our prizes are serving for transports for the army, and I must either shortly abandon this important position or be paid.

It is most likely that if all the important points I have mentioned could be blockaded, the Turks would be soon reduced, from the blockade being so much more easily maintained than elsewhere. Without money, you must be aware I cannot maintain this vessel; and all to be expected from General Church, you must be aware, is plenty of promises. The General is already overwhelmed with expectants, and if he had millions would not be able to command a farthing. I will do all I can; but I must repeat, it is not quite fair I should end a beggar after all the labour, vexation, and disappointment I have experienced for so many years.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

XXVI.

Karteria, off Cape Papas, Nov. 20th, 1827.

MY LORD,

I have the honour to inform you I passed the Castles on the 18th, with the three prizes and mistico in company. I lost two men killed and one wounded in passing; the other vessels passed without suffering any damage. It had been my intention to attack the Turkish squadron at Lepanto, but the wind was so strong on the land, that I felt I could not effect my object; and, anxious to profit by the same wind to go out and aid the operations of the army outside, and blockade the fortresses, I passed through without waiting a more favourable moment of attack. At Patras I found a schooner, whose suspicious conduct—in abstaining for a long time from hoisting any colours, and, when she afterwards showed Austrian, persisting in drawing closer under the Turkish battery—induced me to fire and bring her out. After waiting a little, and finding no attention paid to my warning, I fired again, and sunk her. I hear she was Austrian.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

XXVII.

Karteria, Petala, Dec. 2nd, 1827.

MY LORD,

I had the honour to write to you from Cape Papas, informing you that I had come out of the Gulf of Lepanto, and was waiting to embark the troops of General Church. I now beg leave to acquaint you that I arrived at Dragomestre the day before yesterday with the three prizes, which have been serving as transports to General Church's army for six weeks. We brought over six hundred soldiers, artillery, horses, &c.; and I am now returning to Cape Papas to embark a second division. I heard of the gunboat Helvetia, M. Fabricius, being at Kataculo, and I sent immediately to order him to join me, which he did, and is now at Cape Papas. While at Kataculo, the gunboat was attacked by a Turkish brig of twenty-four guns. M. Fabricius defended himself with much spirit, and obliged the brig to retire. I have since heard that the same brig is now off Previsa. If the service here will permit my absence, I think of going to look after her. The Gulf of Lepanto is now left entirely in the hands of the Turks, and I wish to send the gunboat in to assist the expedition against Salona, but the crew having been so long about here, suffering much hardship and without pay, are very dissatisfied. I have given the boat a new mast, anchor, cable, provisions, ammunition, &c., and I will even advance them a little money, if they will go into the Gulf. I should hope, however, that your lordship will reimburse me for these expenses, extra of my own vessel. As you may imagine, I am almost entirely without coals, and cannot get a sufficient quantity of the pitch-pine to burn; the other pine will not answer, and therefore I am reduced to sails. General Church had ordered round here a Psariot brig he had at Kenkness, and I wrote to M. Koering to request him to put coals on board of her, which, I understand, M. Koering refused. From the manner in which I have been frequently treated, one would imagine that this vessel was not a Greek but an enemy's vessel. I trust your lordship will remedy this, and put me on a fair footing with the other Greek national vessels. I wish your lordship could also contrive to let me have some money, to cover the expenses of this vessel, which, for three months that we have been absent from Poros, cannot be supposed trifling. As I conceive it important, under existing circumstances, to keep the blockade of Patras, Missolonghi, and the Gulf, I will remain as long as my destitute situation will permit me. Since I have been here I do not think any vessels have entered the Gulf.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

XXVIII.

Karteria, Dragomestre, Dec. 8th, 1827.

MY LORD,

I have the honour to inform you that I have passed over the army of General Church to this port, amounting to about twelve hundred men, with six pieces of artillery, and about sixty horses, mules, &c. The General has been joined by Maori and some other captains, which may have increased his force to two thousand men. He is in hourly expectation of being joined by Zouga, and even Varnachioti is expected to come over. The Monastery of Ligovitza, on the road from Arta to Lepanto and Missolonghi, is said to have been possessed by the troops of the General. This post is of importance. The troops have all marched from Patras to Navarino, and nothing remains but some Albanians and the inhabitants. Lepanto is thinly peopled; all have little provisions as well as Missolonghi. From what I know of Lepanto and the Castles, I am confident that, if your lordship was to attack it with the squadron you command, and General Church was to make even a demonstration of attack by land, it must fall in forty-eight hours' time. Lepanto lies on the face of a hill open to the sea; every shot and shell and rocket must tell somewhere, and they would readily capitulate. We must not take the Monastery of the Piraeus as an example. At Lepanto the Turks have their families—this particular always operates upon them; but whether it did or not, the place would be taken, and I am not one who overrates the capabilities of the Greeks. I fear, however, that General Church has other projects, and such as, according to my opinion, are very unlikely to succeed. So much so that, if your lordship does not arrive or send me orders, I shall return to the Archipelago, rather than lend myself to measures which appear to me worse than useless. I must again beg of your lordship not to forget us in the way of money, provisions, ammunition, coals, &c. We are now more than three months absent from Poros.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

XXIX.

Karteria, off Vasiladhi, Dec. 27th, 1827.

MY LORD,

I have now been twelve days before Vasiladhi, and since our arrival I have every reason to believe they have neither received provisions nor water. The weather has usually been so bad, that I have only been able to bombard it twice, and the gunboat having few shot, I have exchanged her 32 for one of our 68's, with shells; since which I have not been able to batter it, owing to the weather. I am satisfied they are now at their last shifts in the fort; and if I could remain before it a week longer, and bombard it for a couple of days, I doubt not it would fall into our hands. I regret of all things not having the flat-bottomed gunboat here; with her we would have had the fort before this. General Church was to have attacked Anatolico, and might have taken it, in the first instance, with little or no resistance; but he delayed till too late, and then came without an ounce of provisions, and returned the day after to Dragomestre. This man is such an insufferable quack, that I cannot act any longer with him; he affects to command the navy as well as the army; and although I have given him one or two rather rough lessons, he, the other day, captured with a boat of his a spy of mine, on his way to me, and carried him off without mentioning a word of it to me. The man merely came here the other day, supposing Vasiladhi about to surrender, that he might say he took it. God knows there is no merit due, unless to the boats blockading inside. I have received letters to-day from the Gulf, and I find the expedition at Trisonia is in alarm of being blockaded by the Turkish vessels at Lepanto. The loss of the gunboats from the Gulf is almost irreparable. If your lordship could send them round here with a brig, it would be of infinite service. I am so in want of ammunition, provisions, fuel, &c., that I hardly know what to do, but if possible I will re-enter the Gulf to assist them there. I wrote by Mr. Finlay, announcing to your lordship that if the whole squadron was to come round here, I am satisfied that Missolonghi, Patras, Lepanto, and the Castles might be taken. They are much straitened for provisions at all, but particularly at Missolonghi and Lepanto, and the Castles could be taken by force. Patras is now provisioned daily by one of Church's generals, Neneka, from Zante, via Clarenza. Dr. Gosse informs me how much you are in want of money. I trust, however, if you obtain any, I shall not be forgotten. I have only received six hundred dollars from General Church, and my expenses have been enormous, for fuel, provisions, &c.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

XXX.

Karteria, off Vasiladhi, Dec. 29th, 1827.

MY LORD,

I have the honour to inform you that, after having transported the troops of General Church from Cape Papas to Dragomestre, I undertook the blockade of Vasiladhi, for which purpose I put in requisition the small craft after-mentioned, and employed them to intercept all communication with Vasiladhi. This flotilla I placed under the orders of my first lieutenant, M. Falanga; and on the night of the 16th they entered, and commenced the blockade, which has been so strictly observed up to this day, that nothing had entered Vasiladhi. One boat, with a letter and fresh provisions, was captured by our flotilla. I anchored, the gunboat Helvetia in company, outside Vasiladhi. Your lordship is aware that the Helvetia was armed with a long 32-pounder, which, in my opinion, is very inferior in every point of view to a 68, but indisputably so for cannonading a fort only to be reduced by shells. For this reason I changed her 32-pounder long gun for a 68-pounder cannonade. On the 22nd I bombarded Vasiladhi alone (the gunboat having been detached), with little effect, the weather being unfavourable; nor could I recommence until to-day, when, considering the distance we were off (about one and three-quarter mile), and the diminutive size of the object fired at, better practice has rarely been displayed: four shells out of seven from this ship and gunboat exploded in, and one blew up, their magazine. I immediately ordered an assault, in which all the boats took part. The Turks, intimidated by the explosion, and by our attitude of attack, called for quarter, which I granted them, although they had previously forfeited their lives by firing on a flag of truce I sent to them with terms of capitulation. I embarked the prisoners on board this ship, and from thence conveyed them in safety to near Missolonghi. They were thirty in number; and one Greek badly wounded I have retained on board to be treated by our surgeon. The original number was from forty to fifty, the deficit having been killed off by our previous cannonading and by the explosion. I am happy, my lord, to testify to the exemplary conduct of the Greeks during the whole of this service; they have borne the fatigues and privations of a winter's blockade in open boats with extraordinary patience, and the forbearance they displayed towards the Turks rendered any interference of mine in their favour superfluous. Of my officers, Lieutenant Falanga and Captain Hane, M.A., I have only to repeat the often-told tale of their meritorious conduct. To M. Fabricius, commanding the gunboat Helvetia, I feel much indebted for his zeal and activity, and I am happy to have so deserving an officer under my orders. The fort of Vasiladhi mounts twelve guns, three of which are of that remarkably useful piece of ordnance, the Turkish licorne. I have offered to deliver the Fort of Vasiladhi to General Church upon his remunerating for their services those employed in taking it.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

List of small vessels employed in taking Vasiladhi.

A mistico, Galaxidhiote, Captain Urgaki; the same sent with me into the Gulf of Lepanto, and who has served with me ever since.

A mistico, Galaxidhiote.

A bonee.

An armed row-boat.

Two of my prize launches, armed each with a 9-pounder.

A bratsiera.

Five monoxolies, or canoes, for the shallows.

XXXI.

Karteria, Dragomestre, Jan. 7th, 1828.

MY LORD,

I have the honour to acquaint you that General Church arrived before Vasiladhi on the 2nd inst.; and I resigned to him that fort on the third, requesting him to refund the expenses of taking it; these consist of five dollars per man bounty, besides the provisions of the flotilla employed in the blockade. The General has promised to repay this, although not without expressing some surprise at the demand; yet the guns he receives in the fort would pay the whole sum.

On the same day I received an official letter from General Church, requesting me to inform him what co-operation he might expect from the navy in a projected attack of his on Anatolico. According to the wish of General Church, I agreed to send all the boats at my disposal that night, to attempt to capture an island named Poros, commanding the entrance into the Lake of Anatolico, where the Turks had a post, and we heard he was filling up the passage, and about to place guns on another island, which would render him entirely master of the entrance. I soon discovered that what General Church calls the cooperation of the navy is in reality the navy executing the service, and the army looking on at its leisure, ready to take possession if success attended the arms of the former. I had understood that I was to be supported by two rocket-boats of General Church, and by the launch of the Psarian brig, carrying a carronade to throw grenades; but these did not appear. A dozen policaries arrived from General Church, and were embarked in the expedition. At half-past three A.M. of the 4th inst. I arrived with five boats out of nine (the rest having unaccountably kept behind) at a narrow part of the passage of the lake, across which the Turks had built a wall, and stationed a gunboat behind it. The Turkish boat was soon put to flight; the sailors jumping into the water soon cleared away a passage for the boats, and the five of our boats rowed upon Poros, the Turks keeping up a brisk fire of musketry from that island, and of cannon from Anatolico. We were now within pistol-shot of Poros, when I found, to my surprise, a fort on it—which I had been assured there was not, or I would not have attempted the attack, knowing that in our warfare their holds are not to be thus taken. Seeing no reasonable hope of succeeding, I ordered a retreat; and having repassed by the way we entered, found General Church's detachment lying flat in the bottom of their boats out of gun-shot. To say that my officers, Captain Hane, M.A., and Lieutenant Falanga, also M. Fabricius, commanding the gunboat Helvetia, accompanied me, is to commend them for their accustomed zeal and gallantry. I cannot conclude without mentioning the name of Chrysanto, who, after having aided at Vasiladhi, was with me here in his own boat, and displayed much courage. He had one man wounded, the only loss we sustained. Perceiving that Anatolico was not to be taken by us; that General Church's troops were (without provisions) somewhere in a marsh, where our boats could not get to embark them, and that they might have marched on the mainland close to Anatolico; being without provisions in this ship, and seeing no possibility of rendering any service by remaining longer before Vasiladhi, I returned to this port to provide for our immediate wants, and in the hopes of meeting Dr. Gosse, and procuring from him some funds for the maintenance of my crew, which I think your lordship will see the necessity of providing me with, as I have not received more than two thousand dollars during five months, and I have latterly been maintaining this ship in provisions and fuel, besides furnishing money and provisions to the gunboat and flotilla inside Vasiladhi.

I have the honour to be, &c.,

F. A. HASTINGS.

* * * * *

LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.



Transcriber's note:

The following typographical errors were corrected:

* Chapter VII, page 25: "intrusted" changed to "entrusted" * Appendix, letter IX, page 380: "vessel," changed to "vessel."

THE END

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