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and, besides gun-boats, a number of other vessels, drawing little water, had been equipped and put to sea under Rear-Admiral Beauchamp Seymour and Captain Maxse, with orders similar to those issued by Nelson when Napoleon was meditating an invasion from Boulogne :
'Do not throw away your lives uselessly; retreat towards your own shores before an overwhelming force; but if the enemy attempt to land, dash among them at all hazards, and fight on till you sink them or are sunk.'
It was on the evening of June 17, 1874, that the Admiralty received intelligence that an American: squadron had been sighted off Milford Haven on its way to the Irish Sea, and my Lords immediately telegraphed to the Commander of the Channel Fleet, Admiral Sir Henry Keppel, to lock after them. Three hours afterwards arrived the news that the Armada had been descried, and subsequent reports coming in rapidly left little doubt that the Suffolk coast had been chosen for the landing. The very locality might be inferred with tolerable certainty from its adaptation to the purpose, and from the ascertained fact that Prussian officers, disguised as artists, had been seen sketching it. We also, with all our talk about un-English practices, had not disdained to employ spies. Fouché certainly sent the Duke of Wellington Napoleon's plan of the Waterloo campaign, though it came too late; and it was shrewdly suspected, from the extraordinary foresight shown by the English Government, that there was a Fouché in the military cabinet of the League.
So soon as the course of the headmost ships left no doubt of the precise destination of the expedition, the telegraphs were set to work, and all the available troops were brought down without delay. His Royal Highness, the Commander-in-Chief, was present in person, but the detailed arrangements were left to Lord Strath
nairn and Lord Sandhurst, assisted by General Wolseley and a well-appointed staff. A couple of hours sufficed to dig in the sand such rifle-pits and trenches as were still wanting; and these were manned with the Guards, the Rifles, a battalion of Marines, and the Inns of Court Volunteers. The rocky and uneven ground behind the beach was occupied by the London Scottish and Queen's Westminster Volunteers, under Lord Elcho, whose dispositions were an improvement on those of Roderick Dhu :
-he waved his hand,
Taking advantage of every inequality of the ground, he placed his men so as to be within easy range of the boats when they should near the shore, and under shelter from the covering fire of the ships. A division, consisting of three regiments of the line, two regiments of militia, the Sherwood Rangers, and two batteries of horse artillery, was kept in reserve under Sir Richard Airey. The rest of the artillery, with the exception of one masked battery, was placed on a mound or eminence out of reach of the ships but commanding a large portion of the beach, and, later in the day, this arm was reinforced by the Norfolk and Suffolk brigades, whose arrival had been delayed by their gallant commander, Sir Alexander Shafto Adair, under an impression that no other than a small subsidiary expedition could or would be landed on that coast.
The cavalry, including the Blues and 2nd Life Guards, under Lieutenant-General Sir James Scarlett, were placed behind the heights on the extreme left, where they could easily reach the shore. In the con
1 I was standing with Sir De Lacy Evans at the corner of Pall Mall, when a regiment of volunteers marched by. There,' he said, 'ten thousand fellows like those, properly placed, would render the landing of an invading force an impossibility. Nothing could live under their fire.'
tingency of the enemy effecting a landing in force, the cavalry were to charge along the beach, and roll them up before they had time to form. With the cavalry, at the head of his Hussar regiment, rode the heirapparent to the Throne, irresistibly impelled by the hereditary courage of his race to disobey a Royal mandate (issued from Balmoral) not to leave the capital. Torpedoes were laid down by a flotilla of gun-boats, under Rear-Admiral Sherard Osborne, which withdrew towards Harwich when this duty was performed, prepared to operate on the flank of the Armada when the landing should commence.
It was a time of agitating suspense to the bravest while (about 3 P.M. on the 18th) the ships-of-war were taking up their positions to cover the landing, and the transports were transferring their armed cargoes to the boats. After ascertaining by careful sounding that they could approach no nearer, they opened their fire at about the distance of a mile. The nearest heights were shelled, and the strand was swept with shot and shell, causing little or no loss to the English, who never showed a finger above rifle-pit or trench, till the landing boats intervened and the iron hail necessarily ceased. Then a signal gun was heard: their trumpets rang out the battery in the centre of their position was unmasked: shells and plunging shot from the mound fell thick and fast among the boats: a line of fire ran along the beach: the rocks and heights were all in a blaze with musketry. The effect was withering; when volley after volley by practised marksmen, each taking an individual aim, poured into boats crowded with men, whose orders were to land and rush to close quarters without firing a shot. And gallantly did they struggle to carry out the programme. Between two and three hundred men, magnificently led, did actually reach dry land and make a rush at the trench held by the Guards, who shot down most of them as they approached, then
sprang up with a shout and, led by Colonel Stephenson, drove the remainder back into the water with the bayonet.
Here occurred one of those incidents which show that modern warfare, with all its mechanical contrivances for wholesale and cold-blooded slaughter, still affords scope for chivalry and romance. An officer of distinguished mien, the scion of a princely house, was pushed to the water's edge, overpowered and exhausted, although still fighting desperately, when his situation was seen by a young lieutenant of the invading navy from a ship's launch in which he had been carrying orders. Without a moment's hesitation, he commanded the crew to pull back, and they obeyed with such a will that within a few seconds the boat was run aground not many yards from their gallant countryman, and they were springing to the rescue, when a ball struck him and he fell. The scene is best described in the glowing language of Byron :
'From right to left his path he cleft,
The young lieutenant sac
lieutenant sacrificed his life to his chivalry, and not a man of the heroic boat's crew got away. Among the many casualties which added to the confusion, one of the largest ironclads ran upon a shoal (like Troubridge's ship at Aboukir) and stuck fast: boats rolled against each other in the swell and got fouled: a shell exploded in that which carried the leader of the headmost division and his staff, killing and wounding most of them; and two transports, carrying artillery and cavalry, ran upon torpedoes and were blown up.
Things began to look very unlike Kinderspiel. But large sacrifices had been counted on: it was known and felt that a first landing on the British coast must be effected in the spirit of a forlorn hope, and fresh boats were hurrying in or loading from the transports ; when, hark! a low rumbling sound, like intermitting thunder, is heard from far off across the sea. It is the sound of cannon on the extreme left of the Armada. It can be nothing but the English Channel Fleet-and it is! A steamer, putting out from Portsmouth, had overtaken the Admiral, and, despatching a squadron of his ships to watch the Americans, he had come back (like Desaix at Marengo) to give a decisive turn to the wavering fortunes of the day-the day big with the fate of England, of Europe, of the world. He brought with him seven first-class ironclads, with more than twice as many others of heavy metal, and it was a grand and fearful spectacle, the approach of those magnificent machines, instinct with life and motion, cleaving their way right onward through the thick of the hostile armament, without stopping to engage the ships of war, and running down transport after trans port; whilst almost every shot from their enormous guns sent a ship to the bottom, or left a boatload of gallant men struggling for life in the waves. If such a fate is appalling to think of or to contemplate at a safe distance, what must it have been to those who saw and felt that their own turn was coming-who watched with fixed and fascinated gaze the rush of the iron monster that was about to pass crashing over them?
'Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell;
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave;
And the sea yawn'd around them like a hell.'
The military organization of the invading army was beyond all praise: an order emanating from head