HMS Acheron (launched as Northumberland, 1866)
HMS Acheron (launched as Northumberland, 1866)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameAcheron (launched as Northumberland, 1866)Explanation
TypeBroadside ironclad frigate   
Launched17 April 1866
Builders measure6621 tons
Displacement10780 tons
Ships bookADM 135/330
Note1898 d.s.
1904 = Acheron, t.s.
1909 = C.8 hulk.
1926 = C.68.
Resold as hulk Stedmound
Snippets concerning this vessels career
13 August 1868
- 24 March 1869
Commanded by Captain Roderick Dew, Channel squadron (until Dew died)
1 August 1871
- 24 August 1871
Commanded by Captain Robert Gibson, temporary service
1 October 1873
- 28 July 1875
Commanded by Captain Thomas Bridgeman Lethbridge, flagship of Rear-Admiral George Hancock, then Rear-Admiral Lord John Hay, second in command, Channel squadron
31 December 1880Commanded by Captain George Stanley Bosanquet, and during 1882 Egyptian war
13 May 1890
- 7 March 1891
Commanded by Captain John Fellowes, Ship of the First Reserve, Coast Guard Service, Portland (and manoeuvres 22 July to 31 August 1890)
March 1904Renamed Acheron
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Tu 3 December 1861this gets replaced
We 9 April 1862The Board of Admiralty, composed of the Duke of Somerset, Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir F.W. Grey, K.C.B., Capt. Charles Frederick, Capt. the Hon. J.R. Drummond, C.B., and Rear-Admiral Lord Clarence Paget, C.B., the Secretary, went yesterday morning to witness some experimeats with large guns at Shoeburyness.
In addition to the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 6,079 tons, 1,250-horse power, building at Chatham dockyard, the following squadron of iron vessels are now under construction by private firms for the Admiralty, several of which are in a very advanced state - viz., the Agincourt, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, building at Birkenhead; the Northumberland, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, and the Valiant, 32, 4,063 tons, 800-horse power, building at Millwall; the Minotaur, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, and the Orontes, 3, 2,812 tons, 500-horse power, building at Blackwall; and the Hector, 32, 4,063 tons, 800-horse power, building at Glasgow. The following iron-plated frigates are now building at the several Royal dockyards, the whole of which are intended to be afloat during the present year - viz., the Caledonia, 50, 4,045 tons, 800-horse power, at Woolwich; the Ocean, 50, 4,045 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Devonport; the Prince Consort, 50, 4,045 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Pembroke; the Royal Oak, 50, 3,716 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Chatham; and the Royal Alfred, 50, 3,716 tons, 800-horse power, at Portsmouth. in addition to the above there are no fewer than 31 line-of-battle ships and other screw steamers now on the stocks at the several dockyards, most of which are admirably adapted for conversion into shield ships, on Captain Coles's principle. Of these the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873], at Chatham; the Repulse, 91, at Woolwich; the Robust, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1872], at Devonport; and the Zealous, 91, at Pembroke, are all in a very advanced state, requiring only a comparatively small outlay to plate them with iron. There are also three first-class 51-gun figates also building - viz., the Belvidera [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864] at Chatham, the Tweed [laid down 1860 and cancelled in 1864] at Pembroke, and the Dryad at Portsmouth, - which are admirably adapted for conversion into armour-plated ships. They would not require the removal of any decks, as would be the case with line-of-battle ships, but would only have to be lengthened and strengthened to enable them to bear the increased weight which would be placed on them. Of the other vessels in progress several are intended to carry 22 guns and upwards. If completed as iron-cased steamers they would be larger and of greater tonnage than either the Monitor or Merrimac. The whole of the hands have been removed from the wooden ships building at the several dockyards, and are now employed on the iron-cased frigates under construction, five of which will be afloat by the end of the present year.
Th 10 April 1862this gets replaced
Ma 11 August 1862this gets replaced
Th 19 November 1863this gets replaced
Sa 12 November 1864The following is the list of the vessels of the Royal navy which will be armed, and are now being armed, with the new description of 300-pounder and other guns in course of issue. The figures after each vessel specify the number of guns of the description mentioned she will carry. To mount the 12-ton 300-pounders:- Bellerophon, 10; Royal Sovereign, 5; Minotaur, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wiveren, 4; Prince Albert, 4; Agincourt, 4; and Northumberland, 4. To be armed with the 6½-ton guns:- The Achilles, 20; Black Prince, 20; Warrior, 20; Lord Warden, 20; Lord Clyde, 20; Royal Oak, 20; Prince Consort, 20; Royal Alfred, 20; Caledonia, 20; Ocean, 20; Minotaur, 18 ; Agincourt, 18; Valiant, 16; Zealous, 16; Hector, 16; Defence, 10; Resistance, 10; Endymion, 6; Mersey, 4; Orlando, 4, Pallas, 4; Favourite, 4; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Amazon, 2; Viper, 2; and Vixen, 2. To mount the 64-pounder muzzle-loader:- The Bristol, 12; Melpomene, 12; Liverpool, 12; Severn, 12; Arethusa, 12; Phoebe, 12;. Shannon, 12; Octavia, 12; Constance, 12; Sutlej, 12; Undaunted, 12; Impérieuse, 12; Aurora, 12; Leander, 12; Bacchante, 12; Emerald, 12; Phaeton, 12: Narcissus, 12; Forte, 12; Euryalus, 12; Topaz, 12; Newcastle, 12; Liffey, 12; Immortalité, 12; Glasgow, 12; Clio, 8, North Star, 8 [laid down 1860, cancelled 1865]; Racoon, 8; Challenge[r], 8; and Menai, 8 [laid down 1860, cancelled 1864]. The following will be supplied with the 64-pounder breech-loaders:- The Scout, 8; Rattlesnake, 8; Cadmus, 8; Scylla, 8; Barossa, 8; Jason, 8; Charybdis, 8; Wolverine, 8; Pylades, 8; Orestes, 8; Pearl, 8; Pelorus, 8; Satellite, 8; Acheron, 4 [laid down 1861, cancelled 1863]; Shearwater, 4; Valorous, 4; Furious, 4; Bittern, 4 [laid down 1861, cancelled 1863]; Magicienne, 4; and Columbine, 4. A supply of the 6½-ton smooth-bore 100-pounder wrought iron guns has already been received at Chatham, and it is understood that the first supply of the 300-pounder rifled 12-ton Armstrong gun may shortly be expected at the Ordnance wharf.
Tu 12 December 1865We are gradually approaching a question of vital importance to the efficiency of the Navy. Our ironclad fleet has recently been strengthened by successive additions, exhibiting an enormous increase of defensive power, until at length we possess a vessel which may be expected to resist even a shot of 600lb. The Hercules, one of Mr. Reed's ships, is completely proof against a 300-pounder, and will be so plated along her water-line as to repel a ball of twice that weight. All this time, however, we have made little or no advance in the way of offensive armament. Even the 300-pounder gun is not actually received into the service, so that our progress is on the side of the ships alone. For this there are good reasons. We can make ships carry armour more easily than we can make them carry cannon. The sides of a man-of-war are now as thick as the walls of a feudal castle, and yet the vessels are as fleet and buoyant as ever; but when it comes to mounting heavy guns upon these batteries we soon find ourselves checked. It was thought a few years ago that the 68-pounder was about the heaviest piece that could be successfully carried and worked in a ship's broadside. This gun weighed 95 cwt., or about 10,000lb., and the Americans are still of opinion that a gun of 12,000lb. represents the maximum of size admissible under such circumstances. Of course, they have far heavier guns in use, but they carry them in turrets, and so, it is said, must we. This proposal, however, opens another question. It is proved that very heavy cannon, can be worked in turrets, but it is not proved that turret ships can be made seaworthy or commodious vessels. Moreover, we have got some magnificent ironclads constructed on the broadside principle, and if these cannot, by some means or other, be made to carry batteries of effective strength, they must either be reconstructed or be lost to the service altogether. So it becomes of infinite importance to ascertain by practical experiment whether guns above a certain weight can or cannot be carried in our first-rate ironclads, and what are the limits imposed upon us in this arrangement. Great professional authorities have asserted that any gun which can be carried in a turret can be carried in a broadside, but the contrary opinion has also been strongly defended, and is very widely entertained. Nothing, it is obvious, can solve this question but experiment, and the experiment, we are glad to say, will commence this morning.
The Minotaur is, or, at any rate, is intended to be one of our finest ironclads. She was designed as an improvement on the Warrior herself, and it happens that she may be soon, beautifully modelled, in the South Kensington Museum. But it is still a question whether this noble ship can carry such guns as would be required to render her battery effective, and, accordingly she will put to sea to-day to make trial of her capacities. A Report which we publish in another column will explain the conditions of her trip. She takes out three guns of the new pattern, each weighing 12 tons, and throwing a 300lb. shot, and each of those pieces is mounted on an experimental carriage. The trial, therefore, will be competitive in one sense — that is to say, each carriage will be carefully tested, and the advantages or disadvantages of the several patterns will be compared and balanced. But it cannot be dissembled that the experiment will have another and a more comprehensive aspect. It is possible that the Report may be unfavourable to all the patterns together, and that the capacity of a man-of-war to carry 300-pounders in broadside may be left doubtful still. In that event we shall find ourselves in a strange dilemma, for it will appear as if really good ships and really good guns are not to be obtained at once, and as if we must sacrifice either the vessel to the armament or the armament to the vessel.
That these new 12-ton guns can be carried in turrets is beyond a doubt, but then it has never been ascertained whether turret ships can be made good seagoing vessels. We have reason to believe, on the other hand, that the Minotaur is as good a vessel as an ironclad can be, but then we do not know that she can carry 12-ton guns. If she fails to do so, we shall have to invert the experiment, and send out a turret ship to see whether she is seaworthy and habitable. The Americans have furnished no information on this point, unless, indeed, the fact itself may be thought to convey some intelligence. They have a large fleet of ironclads, built almost exclusively on the turret principle, but not one of these vessels have they ventured to send to sea. Only just now have they decided on making the attempt with the latest and most satisfactory of their specimens. The MonadnockExternal link was the last Monitor launched, and so pleased was Admiral Porter with her performance that he declared he could take her across the Atlantic. She is now selected to accompany three wooden frigates to the Pacific, and there reinforce the United States' squadron in those waters, so that we may, perhaps, learn something from the history of her cruise. With this exception, however, the Americans have allowed it to be inferred that their turret ships are floating batteries, but nothing more.
Many — indeed, most — American ships carry 8-ton, or, as they are called, 11-inch guns, but they are mounted on pivots. This was the gun with which the Kearsarge sank the AlabamaExternal link, and which did such good service in other actions of the war. We could mount such guns on pivots too, but that principle would only bring us round to the turret in the end, for a turret gun is a pivot gun protected. The truth is, the artillerists have overtaken the naval architects, for they have been allowed more unbounded scope for their designs. In guns, we have got to a 600-pounder; in ships, we have not got beyond a broadside vessel. Mr. Reed has produced several novelties, and with at least the merit of despatch. He is of opinion, too, we believe, that his ships can carry these new guns, but that has not yet been proved. What ought to have been proved long ago, but is still left uncertain, is whether a kind of vessel which we know can carry cannon of any weight can also lodge a crew comfortably, and be in all respects a safe and commodious cruiser. It is possible, certainly, that the Minotaur may relieve us from the trouble of instituting this inquiry, by demonstrating the capacities of a broadside vessel to do all that is necessary; but in a matter so important we might as well have had the two strings to our bow. As it is, the qualifications required to make a really good man-of-war are divided between two classes of vessels. The Minotaur represents a fine seagoing ship; the Royal Sovereign represents a formidable floating battery. We are now going to try whether the Minotaur cannot be made to carry the Royal Sovereign's guns; but we ought also to have tried whether a Royal Sovereign could not be built with the seagoing capacities of the Minotaur.
It must not be forgotten that this ship which is now to be thus tested represents the first and most powerful class of our new fleet. The powers of Mr. Reed's vessels remain still to be shown, but at present the Minotaur herself, the Agincourt, the Northumberland, the Achilles, the Black Prince, and the Warrior are our six first-rates. These are the specimens in which our ironclad fleet surpasses the fleets of other countries, and it is, therefore, of no slight importance to discover, if possible, some method of arming them with the most powerful guns known. The experiments now to be commenced will illustrate the question for us, though they will not exactly decide it. It will be discouraging if the results tell against all the gun-carriages alike, but still the resources of our inventors may not have been exhausted in those three models. All we know at present is that before our best ships can carry the best guns some new mechanism must be devised. The approaching experiments will represent the first essays in this direction, but, whatever the result, we should be very sorry to regard them as the last.
Sa 17 March 1866


To-day another addition to our fleet of ironclads will be made by the launch of this huge vessel from the yard of the Millwall Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company. Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales are to be present, and Lady Percy as representing the noble house of Northumberland, is to name the ship, which will be sent afloat under every circumstance of ceremony.
It is not too much to say that the Northumberland is deserving of these honours - indeed, of the highest - though, looking on her merely as an instrument of defence, we can scarcely hail her accession to the fleet with as much satisfaction as we could have greeted another on the plan of the Warrior. As a specimen of iron-clad architecture, the Northumberland is beyond all doubt the finest model and the finest example of skilled workmanship ever sent afloat; but as a mere instrument of defence she is much behind both the Warrior and Black Prince. The fact is painful, but no ironclads have yet come up to the conditions of excellence of the two which were first built, and which we have just named. In speed, in strength, and in seagoing qualities not only have the Black Prince and Warrior not been equalled by more recent productions, but all our later vessels have shown such a steady deterioration in almost all these qualities as to make it a serious question whether it is wise to continue building on our present plans. At first two distinct classes of vessels, known as the Warriors and the Minotaurs, were designed and built. The Warrior and her sister vessel, the Black Prince, were ships of 6,100 tons, 380ft. long by 58ft. broad, plated only over the midship portions of their broadsides with 4½in. armour, backed up with 18in. of teak, angle irons, and an inner iron skin. These were only meant to carry 46 guns, 26 being protected within the armour, 10 on the spar deck, and 10 more at the bows and stern which have no armour, but which are so subdivided by a webbing of iron compartments that they might be riddled with shots without much danger to the main part of the ship. Each of these vessels of the Warrior class is driven by engines of 1,250-horse power, nominal. They have hitherto proved not only the fastest ships of the navy, but, from their bow and stern not being overborne by heavy armour, they are buoyant and tolerably easy even in a head sea and very broken water. In an unfortunate hour, however, the Admiralty undertook to improve on these fine models, and vessels of what is called the Minotaur class were ordered. These ships include the Minotaur, the Agincourt, and the Northumberland. They are of 6,621 tons, 400ft. long by 59ft. 3in. beam, and plated from stem to stern with 5½in. armour, instead of 4½in., on a backing of 9in. of teak, instead of 18in., as in the Warriors. Their horsepower, too, was increased from 1,250 to 1,350, with which a speed of 16 knots was expected, and as Mr. Penn, who makes the engines, promises it, there is every likelihood of its being attained.
Hardly were these vessels designed and commenced when the result of experiments at Shoeburyness proved that a mistake had been made in diminishing the teak backing - a mistake which the additional inch of armour by no means compensated. The end of all the experiments at Shoeburyness has been to show that the amount of resistance of armour to shot depends generally less upon the thickness of the plate than the thickness and system of the backing. Thus the Warrior target, with 4½in. of iron and 18in. of teak, stood fire obstinately, while the Minotaur target of 5½in., with only 10in. of teak behind it, literally "crumpled up" under the fire of the smooth-bore 68-pounder. But when this most unpleasant discovery was made all the Minotaurs were too far advanced to be altered, so that in these magnificent-looking vessels we have really got only much more expensive Warriors, with less powers of resistance than the Warriors possess. The Northumberland, like all the Minotaurs, as they are called, is built on the ram system, having what is termed a swan-breast protruding forward beneath the bow under water. The stem of this portion, which would have to resist the first shock of a blow in running down a ship, is a most gigantic forging, as is also the huge iron beam which forms the stern frame. Every part of the vessel is of iron, even to the spar deck, though the metal here, which is less than three-quarters of an inch thick, is, of course, covered with wood, in the ordinary fashion, and the iron is only meant as a protection from fire in cases of shells coming inboard. Every part of the hull is divided into longitudinal and transverse water-tight compartments. There are no less than fifteen of these, which not only insure her safety in case of accidents below the water-line, but add immensely to the stiffness of the whole ship, which is virtually made by these means one huge hollow wrought-iron girder, of immense strength.
The Northumberland has a different system of armour plating from her sisters, the Agincourt and the Minotaur. The experience gained with the Achilles seems to show clearly that the limit up to which seagoing frigates can carry armour has not only been reached, but rather overpassed. Thus it has been that, in arming the Northumberland, Mr. Reed has suggested an alteration which has certainly been an improvement, though the idea is taken from what the French have done in the Solferino and Magenta. This alteration consists in not casing the vessel with armour entirely at the stem and stern, but merely over those parts taking a broad belt of iron above and below the water-line, reserving the great mass of armour for the midships, which enclose her heavy guns. Thus the Northumberland's armour for the length of about 100ft. forward, is only a belt of about 10ft. broad, and for the same length at the aftermost part of the vessel it is only 8ft. broad, going to a depth of 6ft. below the water forward and 4ft. aft. For a length of 200ft. amidships, however, the whole body of the vessel is cased with plates up to the main deck. Here the armour rises to a height of 16ft. above the water, and goes to a depth of 6½ft. below it. This main portion of the ship is further protected by transverse bulkheads, plated with 4½-inch iron, inclosing the battery inside the ship as in a box. These armour coverings extend from the floor of the main deck to the spar deck. Above and beyond these protections the Northumberland has a semi-circular shield, also of 4½-inch iron, which completely incloses her bows at the forecastle. Within this shield two guns of the heaviest calibre are to be worked as bow chasers. All the portsills of the main battery will be, when the vessel is fully stored, no less than 10ft. clear from the water. This is 1ft. higher than the portsills of the Warrior, and no less than 6ft. 4in. higher than those of La Gloire. All the portholes are made on the improved principle which is almost peculiar to the iron-clads, and are very narrow. She is, however, only intended to carry 22 guns on the main deck, of which four are to be 300-pounders, and 18 nine-ton 150-pounders. On the spar-deck will be four Armstrong 100-pounder shell guns.
Like the rest of her class, the Northumberland is provided with a deck tower, as strong as teak and iron armour can make it. This tower is unusually high in the Northumberland, and is divided into two stories, the lower to be occupied in action by riflemen only, while the upper story is to be used by those in command of the ship, and from which also the vessel can be steered in action. A great addition has been made to the ship, since she was first laid down, in the shape of a poop and topgallant forecastle. The poop gives ample space and accommodation for the cabins necessary for an admiral and staff, thus fitting the vessel for a flagship, which the arrangements of the earlier iron-clads did not admit of. At the time that the Warrior made her trial trips it was pointed out in The Times that it was little less than absurd to give these enormous vessels - double the length of any line-of-battle ships in the service - only a frigate's crew, and only the traditional three masts. The experience gained by working the Warrior has shown that these remarks were just, and the Minotaurs are now each to have crews of 750 men, and five instead of three masts. All these masts are of iron, and of nearly the same height, which certainly detracts somewhat from the beauty of the vessel's "sit" upon the water. Four of the masts are square-rigged, the aftermost mizen having fore-and-aft sails only.
Every part of the ship which has been executed by the Millwall Company is really the very perfection of iron workmanship. As an iron structure it is impossible to imagine anything more perfect than her finish. Strange to say, she is to be launched to-day with almost all her iron plates fixed to her, and, in fact, with the exception of rigging and engines, almost ready for sea. Internally and on deck she has in her fittings all the beautiful finish of a private yacht. The perfection with which her armour-plates are fitted on makes her seem as smooth as if they were varnished. All that skilled workmanship can do has been done for her, and we feel sure she will prove a credit and an ornament to our iron navy.
The following is a list of the ironclads we now possess either actually in commission or nearly ready for sea, and exclusive of those which, like the Hercules, &c., have not long been begun: -

Ship’s NamesTonnageHorse PowerLengthBeamNo. of protectedThicknessThickness
 [b.m.][nominal]Ft.Ft.guns allowed forof Armourof Backing
Black Prince6,1091,250380582618
Caledonia4,1251,0002735932Wood ship, side 29½ in. thick
Ocean4,0471,0002735832ditto 29½
Prince Consort4,0451,0002735832ditto 29½
Royal Alfred4,06380027358326 & 4½ditto 29½
Royal Oak4,0568002735832ditto 29½
Lord Clyde4,0671,00028059344½, 5½ & 6ditto 31½
Lord Warden4,0671,00028059344½, 5½ & 6ditto 31½
Zealous3,7168002525916ditto 30½
Pallas2,372600225505Wood ship, side 22 in. thick
Favourite2,094400225473ditto 26
Research1,253200195384ditto 19
Enterprise993160190364ditto 19½
Viper 73716016032210
Prince Albert2,52950024048618
Royal Sovereign3,765800240625Wood ship, side 36 in. thick
Scorpion1,8573502204244½ & 39
Wivern1,8573502204244½ & 39

It is very much to be wished that among the other reforms which these ironclads seem to be introducing the Admiralty would adopt the French system of fastening on the plates with what are termed wood screws instead of through bolts. The latter weaken the plate very considerably and do not hold it on at all, whereas the trials made with the French system of fastening at Shoebury showed it to be so superior to ours as to be literally above any degree of comparison.
Ma 19 March 1866


It is with regret we have to announce that the attempt to launch this magnificent vessel on Saturday proved a failure. After going half way down the launching ways she slowly came to a standstill, and, in spite of every effort made yesterday, there she still remains, half in the water and half out of it. The best authorities are confident that the vessel is safe where she now is but they are by no means so certain as to the absence of risk which may attend the efforts to get her off. It is not necessary, after the minute details of this ship's construction which appeared in The Times of Saturday, to refer again to her build. It is sufficient to say that no attempt has ever been made to launch any of the ironclads so completely plated with their armour as the Northumberland. Her sister ships, the Agincourt and Minotaur, were launched with the utmost ease, because the latter was sent afloat without her armour being fixed, and the former was built in a wet dock. Contrary, however, to the general practice, it was attempted to launch the Northumberland nearly finished; in fact, not more than 250 tons of plates remain to be fastened. Never, since the launch of the Great Eastern has it been attempted to send such a heavy vessel end on into the water, and, in fact, this is the first attempt of the kind ever made, inasmuch as the great ship was as is well known, slowly lowered broadside on to the river. On Saturday there was a good deal of anxiety lest the Northumberland, when launched, should have too much way on her, and there is no doubt that the precautions taken against such an event had a good deal to do with the fact of her not being able to get away at all. The managers of the Millwall Company desired to procure the services of four powerful tugs, two at each side of the stern, to assist in pulling the Northumberland down the launching ways after she had been started. The tug captains, however, having a not unreasonable dread of the enormous bulk of the ship and the impetus with which she was expected to come into the water, refused to undertake this rather hazardous task. As far as regards the mere preparations for launching, everything seems to have been provided for. The ways were most solidly built and supported, and the best proof that can be given of the enormous strength of the cradles is that even now, after coming half-way down the launching ways they remain as firm and carry the ponderous ship as erectly as the day they were built under her. The excitement caused by the intended launch seemed to be immense. Every part of the road leading to the Millwall Works was crowded. Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Prince Alfred were among the earliest visitors, and before the launch they went over the extensive works, all parts of which were thronged with a most brilliant assembly.
Among many others present were ‒ the Duke of Sutherland, the Duke of Atholl, the Earl and Countess Percy, Viscount Curzon, M.P., Viscount Torrington, Lord Warkworth, Lord Richard Grosvenor, M.P., Lord Claud Hamilton, Lord and Lady Keene, the Columbian Minister and Madame de Heran, Count Maffei, General Sir John Burgoyne, C.B., and Miss Burgoyne, General Sir Frederick Smith, General St. George, C.B., Sir Charles Russell, M.P., Sir John Hay and Lady Hay, Sir W. and Lady Mackenzie, Sir J.D. Elphinstone, Sir William Fraser, Sir John Rennie, Sir R. Hamilton, Sir Frederick Arthur, Hon. Algernon Percy, Hon. Colonel Colville, Hon. J.S. Wortley, Hon. Admiral Drummond, Hon. Captain and Mrs. Hobart, Hon. Captain and Mrs. Wrottesley, Rear-Admiral Sir F. Grey, Admiral and Mrs. Drummond, Admiral and Mrs. Hamilton, Admiral Ommanney, Admiral Robinson, Major Palliser, Commander Kelly, R.N., Colonel North, M.P., and the Baroness North, Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, Colonel Elsey, Colonel Huyshe, R.A., Colonel and Mrs. Jervoise, Colonel Alexander, Commodore and Mrs. Dunlop, Captain Shaw, Captain Inglis, R.E., Captain Albini, Captain and Mrs. Blakeley, Captain Ford, Captain and Mrs. Eyre, Captain and Miss Chads, Captain Ford, Captain Parish, R.N., Captain De Cleurken, Captain Redman, Mr. Ayrton, M.P., Mr. Otway, M.P., Mr. Hubbard, M.P., Mr. Graves, M.P., Mr. M'Kenna, M.P., Mr. Fleming, M.P., Mr. O'Beirne, M.P., Mr. Samuda, M.P., and Miss Samuda, Mr. Lewis, M.P., and Mrs. Lewis, Mr. Beecroft, M.P., Mr. D. O'Connell, Mr. Darby, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Hopkinson, Mr. Crampton, C.E., Mr. Birkbeck, Mr. T.R., Mrs., and Miss Crampton, Mr. Rolt, Mr. Hodges, C.E., Mr. J. Penn, Mr. J. Field, Mr. and Mrs. Hambro, Mr. J. Bramley Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Smith, Mr. R. Green, Mr. W. Russell, Mr. G. Percy, Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Brassey, Mr. Carter, Mr. W. M. Baillie, &c.
The Countess Percy, the future Duchess of Northumberland, had the honour of naming the ship. All the preparations were completed within a few minutes of 2 o’clock, when the garlanded bottle was dashed against the bows, the hydraulic rams were set to work, and in a few seconds the ship began to move, amid tremendous cheers from all the company. For some 40 or 50 feet or so her pace seemed rapid, and the cradle smoked and sparkled under the tremendous friction of some 8,000 tons' weight sliding over the timber ways. Before she had gone a hundred feet, however, her velocity was evidently diminishing, though the friction beneath the cradles appeared greater than ever. Gradually she moved slower and slower, and at length, when nearly half the hull was in the water, to the consternation of all she came to a dead standstill. It is difficult to describe the excitement which this untoward accident occasioned, for until an examination had been made it was impossible to find out how the vessel lay, or whether she might not become a total wreck. Fortunately for the company, and we may add for the country too, the first inspection showed that the ship was firm in her cradles, and, with the exception of about 20 feet of her stern, still well-balanced on the ways. In an instant all hands were set to work to shore her up with enormous timber struts on the inner side, while every precaution was taken to prevent her moving further or unexpectedly. A luncheon was provided by the company, to which, after the attempt at the launch, all the guests adjourned, but it need scarcely be said that the failure of the efforts to get off the Northumberland cast a gloom over the company, and it was not till Sir John Hay, the chairman, announced, amid cheers, that the vessel was in a perfectly safe position that this feeling was removed. During the whole of Saturday night the workmen were busy fixing the most powerful supports under both sides of the vessel, and by yesterday morning she was completely wedged up. At the high tide a powerful attempt was made to move her. There was then nearly 24 feet of water under her stern, and, indeed, she was so much water-borne that many in the yard were positive that she had lifted an inch or two. At this time two enormous hawsers were got across to the building yards at the opposite side of the river and were attached to powerful capstans, each of which was manned by 60 men. By heaving on these the ropes were drawn almost perfectly straight out of the water, and, at the same time, no less than 11 tugs attached to the Northumberland united all their efforts to pull her off, but in vain; the ship remained absolutely immovable. Even the wedges which supported her on either side showed no signs of having been in the slightest degree affected by the strain upon the vessel. No further efforts will now be made till the return of the spring tides, next Saturday week. It is then intended to moor alongside her stern some of the largest lighters which the Admiralty can spare. These will be secured by chains passing under the Northumberland's stern, and it is hoped, and, indeed, most confidently believed, that with the rise of the tide their buoyancy will be sufficient to lift the after part of the vessel, and so enable her to go off without difficulty. It cannot be denied, however, that in case of a "slewing" round upon the ways during this operation her position would become one of the most imminent peril. Some of the ablest Admiralty shipbuilders and most experienced managers of private yards inspected her yesterday, and gave the most confident opinion that she was perfectly safe in her present position, Careful levels have also been taken which show the hull to be free from strain or wrench of any kind, while the divers who have been down under her report the cradles and launching ways to be perfect.
Ma 26 March 1866


Not the slightest change has taken place in the position of this vessel since the notice which appeared in The Times of last Monday. During low water careful levels have been taken of the ways on which the ship is fixed, and the deflection is stated to be so trifling as to be scarcely more than the eighth of an inch - a deviation which in such a length of way is literally not worth considering as regards the safety of the vessel. Nothing whatever can be done to launch her till Saturday next, when all the efforts then to be made will be assisted by the high spring tides. It cannot, however, be concealed that the operation will be one of difficulty, and even possibly of danger. The stern, as the vessel at present lies, is not waterborne, while the bows are high and dry. Fortunately, the ship remains straight upon the ways, and the cradles, which are of immense solidity, keep her firm. In addition to this, however, she has been shored up on both sides to avoid the chance of accident. It is intended on Saturday to endeavour to float her by means of large lighters, which will be secured by chains on either side of the stern before the high spring tides, and which by their buoyancy may lift her off when the flood is highest. Three powerful hydraulic presses are being fixed at her bows to start her from the position in which she so unfortunately stopped. Hawsers are also to be taken across the river to powerful capstans, which will be amply manned, and, in addition to all, the services of many powerful steam tugs are secured to bring this great ironclad safely into the water. The only great risk of the operation is that in lifting the stern the Northumberland may twist across the ways, in which case the consequences may be disastrous, not only to the vessel, but to any who are too near her. The operation of lifting her will undoubtedly be most interesting in a mechanical point of view, and we most earnestly hope that it may be successful.
Th 29 March 1866


Sir, - Having seen several advertisements stating that the launoh of the Northumberland will take place on Saturday next, I beg to inform you that this company have not decided on launching the ship on that day, as the event must depend upon the state of the tide.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
C.M S. CHICEHSTER,Secretary.
Millwall Ironworks, Shipbuilding and Graving Docks Company (Limited), 10, George-yard, Lombard-street, E.C., March 28.
Th 29 March 1866On Tuesday evening Mr. E.J. Reed, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, delivered a public lecture, by invitation of the committee of management, at the Mechanics' Institute, Chatham, on "The Construction of Ships to resist Shot and Shell." Besides the members of the institute and general public a large number of the principal naval and military officers connected with the port and garrison were present. After some introductory observations Mr. Reed proceeded to explain the manner in which the sides of the earliest of the vessels composing the ironclad squadron were constructed to enable them to resist the passage of shot and shell, instancing successively the Warrior, Minotaur, Lord Warden, and Bellerophon, each representing a different type of the iron-plated squadron. With regard to the trials which had taken place at Shoeburyness to test the resisting powers of targets constructed on the principle of the vessels named, it had recently been urged at a scientific meeting that the tests hitherto insisted upon were far too severe, the targets being subjected systematically to trials which would never be equalled in actual warfare, where the firing would be irregular, at greater distances, and with various degrees of obliquity. The Admiralty had, however, considered it the wisest course to find out the worst effects which could possibly be produced upon their ships, and in this respect they had acted most judiciously, while the results would prove that our officers and men would, in time of war, have the greatest confidence in their ships, and go into action with a degree of daring fully equal to that which in other times and under other circumstances won us the naval honour and renown we had so long enjoyed. After alluding to the form of construction of the Warrior, in which were embodied two subordinate but nevertheless important components — viz, the double skin plating above and below the line of ports and the external stringers upon the iron frames below the ports — Mr. Reed described the construction of the Minotaur, and the surprising nature of the results obtained in the experimental trials made on the Minotaur target, which differed from the Warrior mainly in the reduction of the wood backing, with an increase of equivalent weight in the armour. A single layer of 9-inch teak, with armour of 5½ inches thickness, formed its component parts, the frames and skin plating remaining about the same. For a long time it was supposed that this target had proved much inferior to that of the Warrior. while the departure from the system adopted in the Warrior was repeatedly condemned. Subsequently, however, the important fact was discovered that the wrong powder had been used in the trials against the Minotaur target, it having been ascertained that what was known as 2 A powder had been used with two out of the three rounds of 150lb. cast-iron spherical shot fired from the 10½-inch gun at the target, the effect of which was found to be to raise the striking velocity of the shot from 1,620 feet to 1,744 feet per second. This circumstance consequently invalidated all the comparisons which were made at the time of, and after, the trial, subsequent trials having proved the Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland to possess far greater strength than had been at first supposed. Mr. Reed then passed on to consider the Bellerophon and the experiments made on the Bellerophon target, the principal feature in which consisted in extending throughout its entire structure the double skin plating and the external stringers previously introduced. By their adoption many important advantages were secured, the combined horizontal and vertical 10-inch frames, connected by the double skin of three quarter inch iron, constituting an enormously strong and rigid structure. After alluding to a variety of details connected with the Bellerophon and the leading features which rendered her superior to any of the ironclads which preceded her, Mr. Reed next gave some interesting details respecting the Lord Warden, and the improvements made in her construction. The most striking of these was the device of solidifying the frame in the wake of the armour, the chief advantage being that the frame of the ship was thus rendered solid, and the inside of the vessel fitted with a thickness of 2 feet 7 inches of solid timber behind the 4½-inch armour plating. Another important feature introduced in the Lord Warden and the Lord Clyde was the additional 1½ inch of iron placed between the frame and the outer planking of the ship, to prevent the passage of shell — the most important thing to guard against in the case of a wooden armour-plated vessel. Such a contingency was not thought possible at the time the Warrior was designed, but the improvements effected by Mr. Whitworth and Sir W. Armstrong demonstrated most clearly that shells could be made to penetrate the iron armour of armoured ships. It was therefore decided to give the sides an additional thickness of iron plating, and the results of the experimental trials subsequently made proved the soundness of the principle, the shells fired against the targets so constructed failing to pass through them. A similar plan was also to be adopted in the construction of the Hercules, which would carry a thickness of nine inches of armour-plating for several feet above the water-line, with a backing of teak varying from 12 inches to 16 inches. The Hercules would, however, be rendered still more capable to resist the passage of shot and shell through her sides by the addition of a double wood backing, supported by a second series of frames and skin plates The result of the improvements in the construction of the Hercules had been fully anticipated in the experimental trials recently made on the Hercules target at Shoeburyness, where it was only penetrated by two 600-pounder projectiles, each fired with 100lb. charges, both missiles striking upon the same spot, leaving no doubt whatever that the Hercules herself would be proof against any shot fired from any gun in the world. Mr. Reed, before terminating his address, briefly described the Monarch, double turret ship, about being commenced at Chatham Dockyard, and concluded by describing the several experiments made at Shoeburyness on the various descriptions of armour-plates and targets, the particulars of which have been given on various occasions in The Times.
Sa 31 March 1866


The attempt soon to be made to lift and launch this noble vessel will probably be one of the most difficult, and even most hazardous, applications of great mechanical forces ever ventured on since the memorable days when the Great Eastern was thrust inch by inch into the river. There was, however, even less risk in the launch of the leviathan vessel than is incurred in the attempt to move the Northumberland, which now occupies almost the very ground from which the great ship was got afloat. The Great Eastern moved very slowly, it is true, but as she always did move when force was applied, it became a mere question of the amount of hydraulic power to be employed to know to an hour the time when she would be afloat. In the case of the Northumberland, however, it is unfortunately very different. She has stuck fast upon her launching-ways, and has hitherto defied all efforts to move her, and this with a vessel of such enormous weight (nearly 9,000 tons) has become a most serious difficulty and even danger. It will be recollected that in our account of the attempted launch it was stated that the vessel started well, and for the first 100ft. ran smoothly. After that, however, she gradually slackened in her speed, and, at last, amid a rush of smoke which flew up from the friction between her cradles and the launching-ways, came to a dead standstill, having only gone 170ft. This distance left her stern some 12ft. beyond the ways, and in 24ft. water at high spring tides. Most fortunately, Mr. Lungley, the general manager of the Millwall Works, had made her cradles of the most extraordinary strength, and these under the shock of her almost sudden stoppage, held her firm, and probably nothing but this good workmanship saved her from turning over and at once becoming a wreck. She held straight however, and as upright as if she had never moved, and all the strength of the dockyard was at once employed to keep her so by shoring her up on all sides with powerful timber struts. On the following Sunday there was 24ft. water under her stern, and some 2ft. under her bows, and 10 or 12 steam tugs were employed, hawsers got out and rigged to capstans on the other side of the river, and every effort made to start her, but in vain. No one, however, who saw this effort was in the least surprised at its negative result. The power of the capstans and hawsers over such a mass was but small, and as for the steam tugs, no two of them were ever pulling together. Since then - that is, during the last fortnight a most careful survey has been made of the ship and of the ways beneath her, and divers have even been down to examine that part of the stern which projects beyond the ways. The result of every inspection showed that the ship has not strained in the remotest appreciable degree; the ways were stated only to have depressed as little as 1-8th of an inch, while no obstacle of accumulated mud or gravel was in her way astern. It was then also ascertained that she hung by her cradle forward, and partly by that astern, but that both, as we have said, were as firm and compact, and still held the ship as perpendicular, as before she moved from the stocks. Under these circumstances it was determined, after consultation between Sir John Hay. Mr. Lungley, and the most experienced Admiralty and private yard officials, to attempt getting her off by floating the stern and applying such powerful hydraulic pressure to the bows as would give her a good start, and then trust to her own impetus to make the best of her way into deep water. Since that decision has been come to, the works necessary to secure the success of such a stupendous operation have been going on day and night at Millwall. Everything has been done under the advice of the best nautical authorities, and almost everything has been personally examined by Mr. Lungley and Sir John Hay. In the first place, to prevent the ship launching herself unexpectedly during some exceptional high tide, she has been shored and wedged in in such a manner that any downward movement on the ways seems impossible. In addition to this, however, two enormous chain cables have been taken through the hawse holes and made fast to anchors buried in the ground, while the ship's own capstans have been used to draw these massive links of iron as taut as harpstrings. This is to retain her till the last moment, when all is ready to heave her off. The arrangements for floating, however are far more complex. Every part of her keel, from her bows to well astern, has been wedged up in the most massive manner, so as not only to secure and ease the weight up, but take some of her enormous pressure off the forward cradle. In addition to this, twelve large wooden pontoons, or "camels," as they are called, have been constructed. Each of these is 30ft. long by 9ft. broad and 9ft. deep, and each is perfectly caulked and water-tight, like a little wedge-shaped, unpainted, wooden vessel. They are all so carefully made from moulds as to fit like a glove close to the bottom of the ship, on each side of which six were chained together yesterday, two and two on either side, cross chains under the keel connecting all. The floating power of these is equal in all to about 400 tons. Yesterday also men were employed all day in locking tiers of empty puncheons under the stern. Nearly 400 were so coupled up, and these will give a lifting force of about 100 tons. The chief reason for employing these puncheons is that they, from their narrowness can be got into places between the ship's side and the dock where no other means to assist flotation can well be used. At dead low water last night eight lighters were moored by chains stem on - four under each side of the Northumberland's stern. Each of these, if fastened broadside on, would have a lifting power of 100 tons or so. But the length of the vessel open to the river was not sufficient to admit of their being thus arranged. They have, therefore, been chained in twos, with their bows turned under the stern, and counter-balancing weights of iron ballast are placed in the sterns of each to prevent their being pulled bows under as the tide rises and finds them secured to the gigantic hull which they are to assist in floating. These counter-balancing weights, however, of course, take off immensely from the lighters' buoyancy, so that instead of each lighter being able as it floated to lift 100 tons, it is calculated that the efforts of all will not amount to much more than 400 tons. The total floating power, therefore, including pontoons, barrels, and lighters, will be rather short of 1,000 tons. This, however, with a high spring tide when the ship is almost afloat already, is thought quite sufficient for the purpose of getting her off. In the centre of the river a dredging machine will be moored, with a steam capstan on board, and this, with hawsers, can, it is estimated, exercise a strain of 100 tons; and powerful purchases will also be applied on both sides of the ship from the Millwall yard itself. Under the bows of the Northumberland three powerful hydraulic rams have been placed. Two of these, equal together to a pressure of 1,200 tons, are fixed one against each cradle, and both are most securely supported with immense timber backings down to the launching ways. The third, similarly held by an immense frame of timber, is of nearly a thousand tons power. This, however, is fixed in the centre, and upright, so that it can work from the ground up beneath the bows of the vessel, which it will, to the full extent of its immense pressure, partly lift and ease off the ways forward.
The modus operandi of this curious half launching, half lifting, half pushing process will be as follows: - When near high water the steam capstans and all the hawsers attached to the crabs and windlasses will be drawn to their utmost tightness, and at high water, as soon as there are even the slightest symptoms of liveliness upon the immense hull, the three rams will be set to work simultaneously, the centre to lift, and those on each side to push her off. If she goes, the men on board the lighters will stand ready with axes to cut away all their fastenings to her - an operation which must be quickly done, for the Northumberland is certain otherwise to pull them under her stern and then under water like lightning. The great danger of the attempt is that the vessel may only lift so little as to be just influenced by the tide and drift with it sufficiently to "slew" upon the ways, in which case, as the tide fell, she would be in great danger of turning over and becoming a total wreck. So also, as the lighters lift her, the struts by which she is at present supported will fall, and in case of her still holding by the bows there would again be the most imminent danger of her falling on her side - a danger which would be as great to those near her as to her own hull. Every possible precaution, however, has been taken to prevent chances of such accidents arising. The dockyard men employed in the lighters are, of course, conversant with this kind of work, and have, furthermore, been instructed to cut away the fastenings which bind their craft to the huge vessel the instant they perceive she is moving safely. No day whatever has actually been fixed for attempting to carry out this great effort in mechanics. If the tide serves to-day it may be attempted, but for a very high tide the northerly wind is wanted, and that which now prevails is westerly and likely to keep down the tide of the Thames. In case of the river not rising high enough to-day, the attempt to launch or float - whichever it may be called - is likely to be made on Tuesday. Most earnestly do we trust that whenever it is made it may be successful, for any accident happening to this splendid ship would not only be a serious loss to the Millwall Company, but a still more serious loss to the ironclad feet of England, of which the Northumberland is one of the most magnificent specimens ever built.
Ma 2 April 1866


On Saturday another great effort was made to move this magnificent ship from her present critical position, and which, we regret to say, like the previous attempt, proved totally in vain. Everything which the skill of nautical men, Admiralty officials, and able engineers could suggest was done, and the most stupendous forces both of flotation and pressure were brought to bear upon the hull, but failed to move her in the slightest degree. It is true that the enormous floating powers applied at the stern lifted her at irregular intervals as the tide rose, but the forward part on the ways remained firm, which were jammed with such severity that nothing could overcome the resistance. A full account of all the mechanical appliances to be used on this occasion appeared in The Times of Saturday, and to this detail, as far as concerns what was done during the actual attempt to move her, very little remains to add. In addition, however, to the pontoons, barrels, and lighters to lift her, and the hydraulic presses to push, it was also decided to employ actual horse power to pull on tackles, rove so that when once the ship started she could be kept going. To effect this a powerful double purchase was rigged on both sides of the vessel, and the hawser taken down through blocks moored firmly into the ground of the yard. To this 16 powerful horses were attached on each side of the ship to draw upon them with the utmost strength when the operations began. They were not, of course, so much intended to help in starting the hull as by running away with the tackle to help to keep her going when once she moved. This keeping her in motion is, of course, the great difficulty. Hydraulic rams can only start the enormous hulk, and hawsers worked from capstans are useless when the vessel moves, as they cannot gather in the slack fast enough to keep any pull upon her. The notion of the horses, therefore, was by no means a bad one, as even the failure of Saturday showed, when the united efforts of the animals working together through double purchases was sufficient to break away the most powerful fastenings from the ship's side. Beyond these efforts, supplementary ways, well greased, had been fixed inside the old ones, and the present cradle had been broadened by two feet of massive timber-beams and still further strengthened by diagonal wrought iron braces. Additional backing was also placed behind the hydraulic rams, which were "stayed" with huge timbers bolted together down and through the launching ways, and almost going into the concrete foundation. The eight huge Admiralty lighters were moored stem on under her stern. Instead, however, of being chained under it, which would certainly have given them very considerable additional lifting power, the chains were only brought on board and hove taut with rope tackles. This was an absolutely necessary precaution, for it was probable that if the Northumberland went at all she would go quickly, and unless the crews of the lighters cut away their fastenings more quickly still, she would sink them under her in deep water, like so many walnut shells. All these preparations had been carried out with the utmost care, and we may add with the utmost judgement, and on this point we may say that too much praise cannot be given to Mr. Luke, the Admiralty superintendent, who, with his officers and men, has worked with the most untiring zeal and energy night and day to assist the efforts made at Millwall to float the ship.
On Saturday the Northumberland presented a most curious appearance. Though not waterborne, the lighters, barrels, and pontoons, of course, were so, and she seemed to be afloat in the most unusual and heterogeneous mass of objects that ever surrounded a ship. The tide was slow and sluggish, and the very little wind that was stirring was against its full flow. Yet at about 1 o'clock confident hopes were entertained that it would be high enough to float the vessel easily soon after 2 in the afternoon. The most intense interest was evinced in all the details connected with the gigantic operation, and long before the hour fixed for the attempt to start her the yard was crowded with high nautical authorities, civil engineers, peers, and gentlemen of every rank. Levels had been carefully adjusted to the stern and midships section to detect if she moved either vertically or horizontally even by the eighth of an inch, and soon after 1 o'clock, when there was very little more than 20ft. of water under her stern, it began to lift slightly till it was more than half an inch raised from the ways. As the tide flowed more strongly her liveliness, though never visible to the eye, could be easily marked by the instruments. Every five minutes reports of the depth of the water and rise of the stern were brought to Sir John Hay. These showed that the tide for its time was much less than had been calculated on, but they also proved that the Northumberland was steadily lifting aft. Her stern rose at least two inches off the ways, and at the midships the lift was about half an inch. Beyond this point, however, there was no motion, or rather buoyancy; for it is under the bows that the ship has caught, and there she is in no way waterborne, nor can she be so until she gets off the ways entirely. Some doubt seemed to be felt whether it would be wise to make the attempt at all under the disadvantages of what was evidently going to be a short tide. Yet, as 2 o'clock came on, the stern was so visibly affected by the enormous power of flotation under it that it was determined to make the trial. This was deferred, however, to the latest moment of the flood in order to gain the aid of every half inch depth of tide that might get round her. To do this with the utmost certainty the condition and appearance of the flood stream was reported every minute, and the crews in the lighters chained under her were ordered to tighten the tackles to the utmost to lift her. This they did with such effect that those in charge on the deck oi the Northumberland hailed the dockyard officials below them, and said that the lighters on the starboard side were in danger of going down, they were so near the water's edge. At once then the bugle sounded, and every man was ordered to his station, and went to his post with a quiet good order that seemed almost like military training. Those in charge of the pontoons stood ready to open the valves and let them sink directly the ship was under way; the crews of the lighters prepared to cut themselves adrift from the ponderous hull before it sunk them. Detachments manned the handles of the hydraulic pumps, and all was ready. At ten minutes past 2 the second bugle note was given, and the dog shores were knocked away with a thundering boom, and the chain cables which held her to the anchors on shore flew out with a terrific dim from the hawse hole, and all went to work. The 15-inch hawser, which was worked by the steam capstan from a dredging machine moored in the river, was drawn absolutely straight under the tremendous strain which was put upon it. The teams of horses also were brought struggling up till they broke away all the tackles to which they were attached; at the same time the hawser attached to the steam capstan broke like a thread and sprang curling back into the river. These, though powerful auxiliaries, were not depended upon as much as the efforts of the hydraulic rams. It will be recollected that there were three of these - one of nearly 1,000 tons power placed under her bow to lift her upwards, and two of 600 tons power each were levelled at the cradles to thrust her down the incline. For a long time they were kept working, and the ship seemed to be moving slowly, though easily, for some inches. Unfortunately, however, this was only an optical delusion caused by the post which was put to record her movement, and which was connected with the ponderous timber backing of the rams being crushed slowly back. It is difficult to describe the crush which this ram on the starboard side made. It destroyed and splintered up one of the most powerful timber backings of its kind ever constructed. The ram on the port side appeared scarcely to be doing its work, for when the tide fell it was found that not as much as a chip of its backing had been injured, which certainly could not have been the case had it been working without leakage, and at its full power. In spite of everything, however, the ship did not move an atom, and the piling under the two rams which were best at work was giving way so rapidly, and, in fact, had given way so completely, that it was useless to continue further. The signal drum, therefore, was beaten, the efforts to launch ceased, and the work of securing the hull began again. This was so well and quickly done that in little more than half an hour the ship was moored and shored up as before. A council was then held among the engineering and nautical authorities, at which it was unanimously decided to make another attempt to move the ship to-day. Greatly to their credit all the Government dockyard men at once, without exception, came forward and through their officers volunteered to give up their Easter Monday holyday to assist at the effort. When it is recollected that Easter Monday is the one great dockyard holyday of the year, when the men receive their day's pay as well as their day's leave, the generous spirit with which they have acted in thus volunteering will, we are sure, be appreciated as it deserves.
Tu 3 April 1866


Again yesterday all the efforts which nautical or engineering skill could suggest were exhausted in efforts to move this ship, but in vain. In spite of every exertion, in spite of al that the hydraulic presses, the lighters, steam capstan, and even battering rams could do, she remained absolutely immovable, even when the tide was at its highest, and it was not till the water began to fall that the attempt was abandoned. It is needless to say that this renewed failure gave rise to a feeling of disappointment almost amounting to despondency. It will be remembered that the failure of the attempts on Saturday last was mainly caused by the timber backing used to support the hydraulic rams giving way under the pressure to which it was subjected. As the tide fell, it was seen that these supports had been so crushed on one side of the ship as to be useless for further efforts. During the greater part of Sunday, therefore, and during the low tide before dawn on Monday morning the utmost efforts were made by the dockyard people to repair this deficiency. Powerful timber struts were taken down between the ways, and the foundation of the hydraulic ram itself was further supported by huge beams bolted through and onto the ways in such a manner that it seemed impossible that they could yield any more than the county of Middlesex itself. The arrangement for the hawser working over the steam-capstan on the dredging machine in the centre of the river was also altered. Instead of one fifteen-inch cable a double-purchase was rove with a twelve-inch hawser. The lighters were moored by chains under the stern of the Northumberland as usual, but greater care was on this occasion taken to see that they did their work better than on Saturday last when certainly their assistance was but small. They were now, therefore, braced down under the stern till their bows were almost level with the water, though from this fact, as it turned out, unfortunately, they gave even less assistance than before. Two powerful battering rams, formed after the ancient fashion by immense beams of timber, were also rigged up at the bows, and these, worked each by some 40 or 50 men and by them slung forward end on with tremendous force, were to be used to jar her and loosen her upon the ways when all else was ready for starting. A great deal was hoped for from the flow of the tide. The wind was northerly, and 24 feet under the Northumberland's stern was confidently expected. At such a depth of water all parts of the hull now within reach of immersion by the tide give a displacement of nearly 4,000 tons. Her weights all told are short of 8,000 tons, so that with a moderate average of flood, less than 4,000 tons have to be moved down to the water. This, however, as may easily be conceived, is a great weight to move over wooden ways, which have already sunk under the tremendous pressure of the first attempt at launching, and which are, undoubtedly, now firmly jammed together. The whole pressure upon the ways is no less than three tons per square foot, or equal to the weight upon the foundations of most of our metropolitan bridges. Their incline, also, deviates slightly from the usual slope at which it is customary to launch vessels. So much fear, however, was felt lest the enormous weight and bulk of the Northumberland should break her away from all control, if rapidly sent into the water, that it was decided to make the slope of the ways as slight as only 1 foot in 24. Looking to the danger of such a vast mass gliding out at great speed into the river, it cannot be said that this was an unwise precaution, or even that the diminution of the incline has anything to do with her present unfortunate position. The time fixed for the attempt yesterday was 3 o'clock, but even then the tide was so comparatively low that it was for some time doubted whether it would be prudent to make the attempt at all. We may state here that the tide last Saturday was six inches lower than when the second attempt was made, and no less than 18 inches less than on the day of her attempted launching when she stopped upon the ways. Recollecting that every inch of tide lightens her weight upon the cradles by no less than 42 tons, it can easily be seen how serious were the disadvantages under which the attempt was made yesterday. At 10 minutes past 3 o'clock the first bugle call sounded for the men to fall into their places as previously arranged. The double purchase from the steam capstan on the river was drawn almost tight; the dog shores were knocked away; the chains which held her to the shore let go by the run, and the ponderous battering rams on either side were sent thundering against her bows till the beams themselves split, and their ends smoked under repeated concussions. At the same moment all the hydraulic presses were set to work and relays of men relieved those pumping the handles as the work of forcing in the water grew more and more difficult. The teams of horses, too, on both sides of the vessel were set to haul upon the double purchases which would drag the Northumberland towards the river. For a time these animals tugged splendidly, and what with the cries of the sailors at the capstans, the boom of the battering rams, and the exertions which the gangs made to work the hydraulic presses, the scene was one of great excitement. Still the vessel gave not the slightest sign of moving; and the depth of water was only 22ft. 9in. under her stern. All the efforts, however, were continued with unabated vigour till at the most critical moment the iron chains to which the horses were harnessed gave way on both sides, and almost at the same moment it was reported that of eight lighters moored under her stern no less than six had broken loose under the strain to which they were subjected as the tide had risen. To continue further operations in the face of such serious deficiencies was, of course, useless, and furthermore there were slight but unmistakable signs that the backing of the hydraulic press at the starboard side was again yielding, and that further pumping would only insure its further destruction without in the slightest degree affecting the position of the ship. Reluctantly, therefore, the order was given to cease further efforts, and after more than a quarter of an hour's exertion the ship remained unmoved in the slightest degree. She was then, to guard against accident, secured to her mooring chains as before, and a consultation of all the authorities was at once held to decide on the fresh steps which it was evidently necessary to take. What these will be, however, were not made known last evening, nor will the public know until this morning. It is perhaps worthy of mention that the general impression among the most experienced engineers and shipbuilders who were present in the yard seemed to be that sufficient hydraulic power has not hitherto been employed to force the hull into the water. With a force so cheap, so simple, and so certain in its action as hydraulic pressure, it seems a pity that it has not been more largely employed from the very first. Further delay in its more extended use is likely to lead not only to considerable loss of time, but very probably to a much more considerable loss of money.
We 4 April 1866


It was not possible yesterday to make any further attempts towards moving this ship. Had a high tide occurred everything was ready enough to push her off. The wind, however, was against the flood, and at 4 o'clock, when it was high water at Millwall, it was six inches lower than on the previous day, so nothing whatever was done. After high water a consultation was held, at which Sir John Hay, Mr. Langley, the general manager, and Mr. Reed, the Admiralty Constructor, were present, to decide upon the best measures to be next taken. It was then unanimously agreed that no further efforts should be made until Monday, the 16th of April, on which day, according to the nautical almanacs, the tide will be the highest of the year, and give nearly 25ft. of water under the Northumberland's sternpost. In case of a favourable wind it may even rise as high as 26ft. - a depth that would place nearly eight feet of water under her bows. This in itself would be almost sufficient to float her off, but as, in spite of the assumed infallibility of winds and tides, neither can be totally depended on, it is intended to take every possible precaution against the contingency of low water by adding such powers of flotation to the ship as will enable her in a great measure to get off without an unusually high tide. To effect this it is intended to dispense with the use of the lighters, which have hitherto been chained under the Northumberland's stern, and have certainly not worked altogether satisfactorily. Their efforts have been irregular, and at the most critical times the best have broken adrift. In place of these, therefore, two small frigates will be lashed astern at the low water preceding the high tide. Each will be chained to the immense iron hull in such a way as to have, so to speak, an independent action, while every precaution will be taken to enable them to slip their fastenings and get clear away the instant the vessel moves quickly. In addition to these eight more very large pontoons are to be built and placed close under the stern, four on each side. These eight new pontoons will have a greater floating power than that of the whole ten now under the vessel. Chained also, as they will be, at the extreme end of the stern, they will exercise their greatest power at the greatest advantage, and exactly where it is most needed.
More important still than any of these changes is the decision which has been come to to remove the "bilge logs" under the midship portion of the ship and thickly grease the ways afresh. To understand this it may be necessary to explain that the term “cradle," in which a ship is launched and slides over the ground ways, consists of one long massive timber framework, the ship being held up at the stem and stern by the two tall, powerful, timber structures which are called by landsmen the “cradles." These two cradles, however, are, in reality, one, and are firmly bound together under the ship's bottom by the framework called the bilge logs. It is beneath these latter that it is supposed the Northumberland has jammed upon the ground or launching ways. It is, therefore, proposed to wedge her up slightly in order to remove the bilge logs, and coat the ground ways thickly with grease before replacing them. The foremost part of the cradle also, under the bows, is to be removed by short lengths at a time, to ascertain if any accidental or maliciously placed impediment prevents her moving. Here also, as the timbers are removed, all the surface of the groundways will again be coated with grease. Two additional hydraulic rams of great power are also to be used on the 16th of April next to start her. We venture to think that instead of again using the timber battering-rams half a dozen 68-pounders fired simultaneously from her port broadside would contribute far more towards "starting" her from the ways, and do far less injury to the ship than the use of the beams must inevitably occasion. As is always the case when these unforeseen hitches arise, the usual mass of correspondence has been forwarded to Mr. Chichester, the secretary for the Millwall works, containing hints, advices, suggestions, offers of patents, &c. Why some of these letters were ever let pass by the keepers under whose care their writers must evidently be it is difficult to conjecture. One ingenious gentleman, for instance, devotes a long manuscript to showing how if a dock is built round the Northumberland, and carefully filled with bales of cotton, on which scalding water is to be poured, the expansion must infallibly make the vessel rise!
Ma 9 April 1866A large number of shipwrights were employed at Woolwich dockyard during the whole of yesterday in the construction of several large camels, or pontoons, to be used for another attempt to launch the ironclad steamship Northumberland at Millwall on Monday, the 16th. About 300 workmen are now constantly employed in making preparations at the building slip for the renewed attempt. The midship logs on the building slip have been taken out and the ways greased, and certain alterations have been determined on which it is hoped will, with the assistance of the very high tide expected, result in success.
We 11 April 1866Upwards of 100 shipwrights and mechanics from Chatham and Sheerness dockyards left those establishments yesterday in the Fearless, paddlewheel steamer, for Millwall, to be employed in the operations to effect the launch of the ironclad frigate Northumberland. They will be engaged on that vessel till further orders.
Ma 16 April 1866


To-day, at half-past 2 o'clock, another stupendous mechanical effort will be made at Millwall to lift and force this great ship into the water. Our readers will be glad to hear that on this, the third attempt, there is every prospect of complete success. The tide, it is calculated, will be of unusual height. It is almost a matter of certainty that at the high flood there will be 24 feet of water under the ship's keel at the sternpost, and should the wind hold from its present quarter, and as it has held since Saturday, there is every chance of the 24 feet being increased to 26, and the depth at the bows from five feet to seven. When it is recollected that after the midship section is fairly immersed in water every foot additional rise takes off a pressure upon the launching ways of upwards of 560 tons, it is a matter of certainty that a 26-feet tide alone must lift her. But, though this is known by calculation, no amount of calculation can say to what extent the tide will really flow. Enormous artificial powers of flotation have therefore been devised, so greatly in addition to all that has hitherto been tried that with their aid even a 20-feet tide will affect the Northumberland more than a 26-feet tide without them.
In order to understand the operations to-day, it is necessary to explain that the launching ways of the Northumberland, over which the cradle should glide with the vessel into the water, have been made on a rather less incline than usual. This was done to check the impetus which such a vast mass would acquire if launched rapidly into the river. The launching ways, therefore, are for the first 250 feet of their length only sloped at an incline of one foot in 24, and for the remaining 200 feet at the rate of about one in 13. When the first attempt was made to launch the ship she moved very sluggishly over the low gradient, and on the fore part of the cradle arriving at the point where it becomes steeper it appears to have "nipped," and since then held her fast and immovable. The attempts to move her which have preceded the efforts to be made to-day have principally consisted, as our readers are aware, of endeavours to lift the stern by artificial floating power, and to force the bows over the hitch by means of hydraulic pressure. Some objections have been taken to these methods, on the ground that as the stern was floated the pressure upon the ways of the bows of the vessel, which are not water borne, would be still further increased. There is, undoubtedly, a sound mechanical reason for supposing this, but those who urge the objection seem quite to forget that the limited area of the slip on which the vessel is built precludes the officials from employing so much floating power under the bows as they would otherwise, no doubt, gladly avail themselves of. To-day, however, all that can be done in this will be tried by having empty hogsheads equal to floating up about 100 tons lashed under the bows. Since the failure of the last attempt the works necessary for the effort to be made this afternoon have been going on without intermission day and night, whenever the tide permitted. The first thing to be done was to remove the huge bilge logs which form the midship part of the cradle, and are connected with the supports at either end which keep the vessel upright. The enormous friction of these logs passing over those of the launching ways caused them almost to ignite, and burnt out the lubricating grease between them. It has been necessary, therefore, to replace this grease, though it involved an operation of the utmost mechanical difficulty, and even hazard. So firmly were the logs pressed down by the enormous weight of the ship that all ordinary attempts to remove them proved futile. Each log, therefore, had to be perforated all over with large holes, and the remains then cut out with adzes foot by foot. As each piece was removed the launching ways under it have been carefully and amply re-greased, and new greased bilge logs forced into the places of the old beams. All the parts of the cradle, therefore, which have "nipped" upon the ways have, actually been removed from under the ship's side, and replaced by newer and stronger materials. The foremost part of the cradle also, consisting of the uprights - technically called the "poppets" - has been dealt with in a similar manner; and, in addition to this, supplementary launching ways inside the original ones have been built from the bows to a length of about 70 feet under the fore part of the vessel. Over these, also, the fore part of the cradle timbers has been extended, so as, for this length, to double the area of foundation on which this part of the timber structure is to slide. Any mechanic can see at a glance how important are the gains made by these alterations. The employment of lighters and "lumps" lashed under the Northumberland's stern will be entirely dispensed with today. The expense of their employment was very great; there was no uniformity in the amount of lifting aid they rendered, and thus while some would be in danger of sinking from the efforts they made, others were doing nothing. Their pull was never a very strong one, and most unquestionably it was never "a pull altogether." Their places, therefore, to-day will be better supplied by four enormous "camels," or, more plainly speaking, gigantic wooden buoys, which have been made at Deptford dock-yard. Each of these is, roughly speaking, 50 feet long, 25 feet deep, and 22 feet wide, and each has a power of flotation equal to raising a weight of 300 tons - 1,200 tons in all. They are constructed from moulds of the ship's side, so as to fit closely under her bottom at the stern. All are, of course, both air and water tight, and all are fitted with large iron sluice-doors, so that the water may be let in and allow them to drop off from the ship directly their services are no longer necessary. Two of these "camels" were at low tide on Saturday chained under the ship independently of each other, and two more, the largest and most important, as being the furthest astern, were safely secured in their position yesterday afternoon. The ten small "camels" which were used at the last attempt will also be employed again to-day. Their lifting power is about 300 tons, and they have been shifted rather nearer to the bows, in order that their lift may be exerted to the best possible advantage. Forward of these, the barrels we have already mentioned will be lashed, and their flotation will relieve a strain, or rather pressure, of more than 100 tons upon the point where it is most needed. The power of the hydraulic rams has been increased by more than a third. The one of nearly 1,000 tons pressure remains under the bows, as before, to lift the ship upwards, but the efforts of the two of 600 tons each which have been used to start the cradle are now to be supplemented by two more of 400 tons each, applied at both sides. From the river two powerful steam capstans will haul on hawsers attached to the stern, and two land capstans will be fixed on the opposite shore, and worked by hand from there, simultaneously with the efforts of those on the river. Boats are to be moored to these cables to prevent their being affected by the set of the tide, and thus exercising their strain upon the ship in any way but directly astern.
One of the most formidable dangers connected with this attempt to launch the ship is the possibility of the vessel yielding very slowly to the gigantic forces which will be employed to move her. In such a case the risk of her stern when floating being carried upwards by the tide, and so "slewing" the vessel upon the ways, would be very great indeed, and it is not too much to say that in the event of such an unfortunate occurrence, if the tide fell before it could be remedied, the Northumberland might become a total wreck. Happily, there is very little possibility of such a disaster, though every possible precaution has been taken to avert it. No less than three line-of-battle ships' chain cables have been fastened to each side of the stern, and moored so firmly in the ground as to be able, it is believed, to completely resist the action of the tide upon the vessel, either up or down the river. These chains, too, are so arranged that each only comes into direct action as the vessel progresses down the ways. Once out into the stream, a number of powerful tugs are to be in readiness to take charge of her and tow her to her moorings, where the work of fitting her with engines and internal equipments will be carried on. It is to be hoped that to-night will see her anchored safely afloat. If to-day's attempt fail, it is almost impossible to say what more can be done.
Tu 17 April 1866


In the face of an adverse tide, and still more adverse wind, it was not deemed prudent to make any attempt at moving this vessel yesterday. The tide previous to that due at noon yesterday had risen as high as 23ft. 3in. under the vessel’s stern, and one still higher was anticipated to follow. Unfortunately, however, the wind changed, and blew strongly from the south-west not only keeping down the rise of the flood, but rendering the chances of the floating still more desperate than before. As the vessel is now placed, it is intended to launch her with her stern up the river from the works, where the water is considerably deeper but with the wind blowing as strongly as it did yesterday from the opposite quarter it was feared that as the launch progressed the wind would have sufficient force to turn the Northumberland's stern down the stream and into shallower water, where she might probably take the ground. To these difficulties was added another still more urgent. The greatest difficulty had been experienced during Sunday night in getting a huge "camel" fixed under the starboard quarter, quite astern. The divers worked with unremitting energy all through the night, passing the chains under the stern, and "reeving" them through blocks over the "camel" securely to the ship's side. The greatest difficulty, however, was experienced in effecting this, owing to the uneven nature of the ground, and though the men actually worked as the tide rose till they were almost up to their necks in water, they were unable to secure this "camel" so completely as to ensure its doing its work in the best way. Some idea of the difficulty of securing these "camels" may be formed when we state that the chains have to be passed under them by divers, and the labourers have nearly always to work up to their waists in water. As the tide rose yesterday it was seen that the "camel" we have mentioned was insufficiently secured. Its buoyancy is equal to a weight of nearly 350 tons, and as this has to be kept beneath the vessel's bottom, completely under water, it will be easily seen that the most powerful and unyielding fastenings are necessary to keep it in its place. The adverse wind and tide prevented this being properly accomplished yesterday, and the huge buoy showed such unmistakable signs of getting loose from its fastenings as the tide rose that, on the unanimous advice of all the engineering and nautical authorities, it was determined to make no attempt that day. The valves of all the "camels" were accordingly kept open till they filled sufficiently with water to lose their buoyancy, and a large party of riggers were immediately set to work, as the tide fell, to secure in the most effectual manner the buoy which had failed. This was successfully accomplished during the low water of last evening and to-day everything will be in readiness at 3 o’clock for a concentrated, and we might almost say final, effort. In the interest of the Company themselves, we venture to think that the number of idle spectators allowed to be present at this stupendous operation might with propriety be limited. Yesterday the yard was densely crowded, and it is almost needless to point out how much this might affect the success of a great mechanical operation, when large bodies of men have to work simultaneously, at great distances apart, and when the failures or ill-timed efforts of the apparatus which they have in charge might produce the most disastrous results both to property and life.
We 18 April 1866


At length, after the fourth attempt, the Northumberland has been safely sent afloat, having remained almost to the hour and minute exactly one month on the ways from which it was first endeavoured to launch her. Almost to the moment fixed for her departure she moved yesterday, and when once the motion commenced it never slackened till the vessel glided into the river, and in her vast height and length seemed to span it like a floating bridge, and for a time almost completely blocked the traffic. The great mechanical effort involved in lifting and floating this vessel was one which even the most experienced shipwrights and nautical engineers looked forward to with the utmost uncertainty and anxiety. The wind was against them, and the tide was still lower for a time than on the previous day. All the preparations, however, had been made with the utmost precise exactitude and the floating and pressing power employed around the ship was of itself almost enough to move her weight, even when not half waterborne by the rising tide. As we have already explained, the whole of the cradle had been rebuilt and re-greased. A flotation power of empty barrels had been lashed under the bows, and all the old and new-built timber buoys were also employed. No less than seven hydraulic presses were used to push the cradle down, and to lift the fore part of the vessel. Three of these - one of 1,000 and two of 400 tons pressure - were placed beneath the keel, so as to assist in lifting the huge hull forward and relieve the weight where it most bore upon the launching ways. Four other hydraulic rams were fixed with iron backings, so as to thrust against the cradle and force it down the incline which led to the river. Two were of 600 tons power each and two of 400 tons, giving an aggregate of 1,800 tons upward lift, and 2,000 tons downward pressure towards the water. The two smaller rams, however, under the forefoot of the vessel, were not much used in getting her off, and were meant simply to supply the place of the common wooden blocks generally used on these occasions. Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting the large wooden "camel" employed to float the vessel astern, safely fastened under the Northumberland's quarter. It was not till nearly 10 o'clock yesterday morning that they were all perfectly secured. The draught of water of these immense buoys is only four feet, and as they had to be kept down at a depth of 22ft. the difficulty of restraining their buoyancy was very great. It was eventually only accomplished by chains fixed at low water and by huge timber struts which, fastened to the vessel's side and wedged into the shore, at last kept them in their proper positions. The floating power which these and the other smaller "camels" and lines of empty barrels gave was equal altogether to about 1,600 tons. The vessel itself, when immersed at high tide, would, it was calculated, be reduced in its weight upon the ways by about 4,000 tons more, so that literally no greater weight than 2,000 tons would remain to be started, to effect which the hydraulic power was much more than equal. Indeed, as the tide rose yesterday afternoon, the general fear was that the ship would be too lively and get afloat before the state of the tide would allow of her being safely turned out into the river. The sluices in the aftermost "camels" were accordingly opened to let in the water and decrease their buoyancy; yet, in spite of these and other precautions, the vessel did, after all, go slowly, but so far suddenly that there was not sufficient time to ease off the chain cables which moored her with anchors to the ground, until the latter had been torn from their positions. As we have said, both tide and wind were unfavourable to the attempt, but before 2 o'clock the ship showed such unmistakable signs of yielding to the enormous powers of flotation which had been placed under her that it was unanimously decided to continue the launch. Mr. Lungley, the general manager of the Millwall Works, Mr. Luke, the Admiralty Superintendent at Deptford, and Mr. Bascombe, the Admiralty Surveyor, who have all worked day and night to get the ship off, were in favour of an immediate attempt being made, and accordingly all the men in the yard, the seamen riggers and marines who had been lent by Government from Deptford, were told off to their respective stations at the dog-shores, the hydraulic presses, the "camels" and the moorings. Shortly after 2 o'clock the vessel began to lift visibly by the stern, and by half-past 2 she had risen seven inches off the launching-ways aft, and nearly an inch under the cradle forward, where she is now known to have "nipped." Every movement even to the eighth of an inch was written down, and sent to Sir John Hay, the chairman of the company, who was, with a number of nautical engineers, superintending, with Mr. Lungley and Mr. Luke, the operations at the bows. Soon after half past 2 the vessel began to move slightly, but still perceptibly, down the ways and in the course of a few minutes had glided more than an inch and a half, and so jammed the struts which had kept her upright that it was with great difficulty they could be removed. In spite of these indications of her liveliness, however, it was very wisely determined not to give the signal for working the rams till the river was clear and all else in readiness. Such an opportunity did not occur till close on 3 o'clock, when the men were set to work at the hydraulic presses. There were a few minutes of intense anxiety as the gangs heaved at the pumps, and the huge crowds assembled in all directions kept cheering. Then the vessel at last seemed to move, and as she did so she drew the anchors which moored her to the earth, and their sudden appearance created rather a panic among the crowd of spectators who were standing directly in what would be their line of march if the vessel pulled them after her. Very fortunately the chain cables were let go by the run, and as they came with a thundering rattle out of the hawse-holes, the Northumberland glided slowly, but with the most perfect ease and regularity of motion, into the river. It is really almost impossible adequately to describe the enthusiasm with which her going off was greeted. There had been so many, and, we may add, such well-founded fears both of accident to the ship and those engaged in getting her afloat that it seemed as if the joy both of the workmen and spectators was almost boundless at beholding her safely afloat in the water without accident of any kind. The instant she got into the stream the tide took her up the river, and though half-a-dozen powerful tugs at once grappled with her and tried to tow her down they were for a time powerless, and it seemed as if, after all, the Northumberland would go ashore. Fortunately, the high wind, setting against the tide, assisted the efforts of the steamers, and in the course of about half an hour the ponderous hull was brought to the moorings laid down for her, and where we may also mention a deep hole has been dredged in the river bed, especially for her accommodation. The cradle and all the "camels" still remain under her, and the buoyancy of some of the latter at the stern press her down by the head, and give her just now a rather ugly sit upon the water. In the course of to-day and Thursday all' these will be removed, and the Northumberland will then be towed into the Victoria Docks, where her engines will be fitted by Mr. Penn, and where her final equipment will be completed.
Th 17 May 1866The large floating shears at Chatham dockyard, used in masting the vessels of war at that establishment, have been towed round to the Thames by the Adder and other steamers for the purpose of being employed in masting the ironclad frigate Northumberland, 26, 1,350-horse power.
Th 7 June 1866The large floating shears in Chatham harbour, which have been employed for some weeks past in lifting the engines, machinery, and iron masts on board the armour-clad frigate Northumberland, in Victoria Docks, were yesterday towed back to Chatham dockyard, their services being no longer required.
Th 22 November 1866In accordance with an order received at Chatham the iron armour-plated ship Northumberland, 26, 6,621 tons, 1,350 nominal horse-power, is to be removed from the Thames to Devonport, where she is to be completed in her equipments and brought forward for service. The order also directs the new system for mounting and dismounting heavy guns on board ship, the invention of Mr. D. Grant, connected with the Master Shipwrights' Department at Chatham dockyard, to be tested on board the Northumberland, and a report of the result of the trials made to the Admiralty. The Admiralty are desirous of having the Northumberland completed by an early date, in order that she may be despatched on an experimental trial cruise to test her sailing and steaming capabilities, prior to her classification, and at the same time to compare the results with those obtained from the other ships composing the Channel squadron. The nature of the armament the Northumberland will mount has not been definitely decided upon. It is understood to be the wish of the Admiralty, that she should be armed with a certain number of the Armstrong 600-pounder guns for her broadside ports.
Tu 25 December 1866Her Majesty's iron screw steamship Northumberland, 26, armour plated, 6,621 tons and 1,350-horse power, having been hauled out of the Victoria docks by the steam-tugs Monkey and Bustler, of Woolwich dockyard, and the Locust and Adder, of Sheerness, yesterday went down the river to be moored for the night at Greenhithe in preparation for proceeding by the early tide to Sheerness to be prepared for sea, and will ultimately go down to Devonport to join the Channel squadron.
We 26 December 1866Her Majesty's ironclad ship Northumberland, 26, 6,621 tons, 1,350-liorse power (nominal), went down the river yesterday, in charge of Commander J. Hodges, assistant master-attendant of Sheerness dockyard, and accompanied by the Adder, the Monkey, the Bustler, and the Locust steamers. She was navigated by a party of 200 seamen and riggers from the steam reserve at Chatham and Sheerness. Her machinery was in charge of Mr. Collins, chief engineer of the vessel, Mr. Anderson representing Messrs. Penn and Son, the makers of the engines. The Northumberland is to be prepared for sea at Sheerness, but will probably shortly be removed to Devonport.
Tu 8 January 1867The iron armour-plated ship Northumberland, 26, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse power, Staff-Commander R.B. Batt, was on Saturday swung at her moorings in the Medway, for the adjustment of her compasses, under the direction of the officials connected with the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty, previously to proceeding round to Devonport, to be completed for commission. The Northumberland will be navigated from the Nore by a number of officers, seamen, engineers, and stokers from the Steam Reserve in the Medway. There is comparatively little more remaining to be completed on board the Northumberland in the way of fittings, &c., before she is ready for the pennant.
Ma 4 February 1867The iron armour-plated ship Northumberland, 26, from Sheerness, is expected shortly at Plymouth,
Ma 11 February 1867The ironclad ship Northumberland, 26, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse power (nominal, Commander Batt, remains at her moorings, near the west shore in the Medway, awaiting orders from the Admiralty, to proceed to Devonport as soon as there is dock accommodation for her at that yard. A party of officers and men belonging to the steam reserve remain in charge of the Northumberland. She is nearly ready for the pennant.
Tu 5 March 1867Yesterday an order was received at Chatham from the Admiralty, countermanding that previously given for the ironclad ship Northumberland, 26, 6,620 tons, 1,350 horse power (nominal), to proceed this morning to Devonport, the paddlewheel steamer Medusa, Master-Commander T. Potter, being unable to accompany her in consequence of being detained to have some defects in her engines and machinery made good. Should these be completed in time, the Northumberland will leave the Medway on Friday next, in charge of G.J. Hodges, assistant master-attendant, and will be navigated to Devonport by a party of seamen, riggers, stokers, and engineers from the ships belonging to the steam reserve in the Medway. The Northumberland is to be completed for sea with all despatch, the Admiralty being desirous of despatching her to sea by as early a date as possible in order that she may make an experimental cruise for the purpose of testing her sailing and steaming qualities.
Fr 8 March 1867The iron armour-plated screw steamship Northumberland, 26, Staff-Commander Robert B. Batt, is expected to arrive on Sunday at Plymouth, where she will be docked, and then placed among the Steam Reserve in Hamoaze.
We 13 March 1867The Northumberland, armour-plated screw ship, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse power, which has for two or three months been awaiting in Sheerness harbour the final orders for her destination, left yesterday, shortly before 12 o'clock, for Devonport dockyard, where she is to be completed and made ready for sea. She was in charge of Staff-Commander G.J. Hodges, assistant master attendant in Sheerness dockyard, and was navigated by nine engineers and about 200 seamen and riggers belonging to the Steam Reserve and dockyard. The ship was accompanied by the Medusa, paddlewheel vessel, Staff-Commander Thomas Potter, which will act as her convoy. Mr. Anderson and staff, from the firm of Messrs. Penn and Sons, the makers of her engines, are in charge of the machinery; and on her arrival at Plymouth the ship will make her trial over the measured mile.
Fr 15 March 1867The iron-plated screw steamship Northumberland, which left Sheerness in charge of Staff Commander Robert B Batt, arrived in Plymouth Sound on Wednesday evening. Yesterday morning, aided by the steamtugs Scotia, Trusty, and Confiance, this enormous ship was skilfully navigated by the Queen's Harbour-master, Commander Aylen, from the Sound, through the large fleet of merchant ships which have found shelter there, into Hamoaze. She will be placed in No. 2 dock at Devonport to prepare her for trial at the measured mile outside the breakwater, after which she will be stationed with the Steam Reserve in Hamoaze.
Ma 20 May 1867 A trial of the engines of Her Majesty's armour-plated ship Northumberland took place at the measured mile outside Plymouth breakwater on Thursday last. The wind was from E.S.E., force 2 to 3, the sea smooth, the weather barometer at 30·10. This ship belongs to the same class as the Agincourt and Minotaur. She was built of iron by the Millwall Company, and was launched in April, 1866. Her length is 400ft., breadth 59ft., and tonnage 6,621 tons. Her lower masts only were in; there were 320 tons of coal on board, no stores; draught of water forward, 23ft.; aft, 24ft. 1in. The trial took place under the superintendence of Capt. George C. Willes, C.B., of the guardship of Steam reserve Indus, and Mr. William A. Dinnen, chief-inspector of machinery afloat, Mr. Robert Nicoll, assistant to the chief-engineer at Keyham, Mr. Herbert, assistant-master-shipwright at Devonport, and several other Government officers. The agents for the manufacturers were Messrs. Anderson, Gosling, and Brown. The engines, from the manufactory of Messrs. John Penn and Sons, are what are termed direct-acting trunk, diameter of cylinders 112in., of trunk 41in., thus producing an effective diameter of 104¼in.; length of stroke. 4ft. 4m. There are ten boilers and 40 furnaces; the fire grates are 3ft. 1in. by 7ft. 9in.; number of brass tubes, 4,800; diameter, 2¾in.; length, 6ft. 8in. The screw propeller has four blades — diameter, 23ft, 9in.; mean pitch, 23ft. 4in.; length, 1ft. 11¼in.; immersion of upper edge, 1ft. Six runs at the measured mile, under full boiler power, gave a true mean speed of 15·459. She then made four runs under half-boiler power, showing a true mean speed of 13·079. The engines were under way for six and a half hours, and during the whole of this time worked most satisfactorily, The load on the safety valve was 27lb.; pressure of steam in boilers, 26·4. Vacuum in condensers — forward, 24·7lb.; aft, 25. Number of revolutions of engines — maximum, 61¾; mean, 60½. Mean pressure in cylinders, 26·625; indicated horse power, 7,241·63.
Fr 14 February 1868OUR IRON-CLAD FLEET. — A return likely to be called for annually has been laid before Parliament, giving an account of our iron-clad fleet built, building, or ordered. The return, which is dated the 30th of August, 1867, contains a list of 31 ships then completed, 13 of them wholly armour-clad, and 18 partially. They are: — The Black Prince, 32 guns; Warrior, 32; Defence, 16; Resistance, 16; Achilles, 26; Hector, 18: Valiant, 18; Minotaur, 26; Agincourt, 26; Northumberland, 26; Royal Oak, 24; Prince Consort, 24; Caledonia, 24; Ocean, 24; Royal Alfred 18; Zealous, 20; Bellerophon, 15; Lord Clyde, 24; Lord Warden, 18; Penelope, 11; Pallas, 8; Favourite, 10; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Waterwitch, 2; Vixen, 2; Viper, 2; Royal Sovereign, 5; Prince Albert, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wivern, 4. Twenty-one of these ships are of more than 3,000 tons each. Six other ships were at the date of this return building; two to be wholly armour-clad, and four partially; the Hercules, just launched; the Monarch, 6 guns, to be launched in June; the Captain, 6, the Repulse, 12, to be launched in April; the Audacious, 14, in December; and the Invincible, 14, in March, 1869. All these six ships exceed 3,700 tons. Another, the Bellona, is ordered [and apparently later cancelled]. Lastly, there are the four wholly armour-clad batteries launched in 1855 and 1856, the Erebus, Terror, Thunderbolt, and Thunder; the three first of 16 guns, and the last 14, their tonnage ranging from 1,469 to 1,973. The first cost of the 31 iron-clad ships completed amounted in the whole to 7,284,294l. This includes fittings, but the accounts for some of the latter ships are not yet closed, and this sum does not include incidental and establishment charges. These last indirect charges, calculated in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee on Dockyard Manufactures, add about 35 per cent. to the gross direct charges for labour and materials expended upon each ship in the financial year 1864-65, about 51 per cent. for 1865-66, and the year 1866-67 is for the present estimated to show the same ratio of 51 per cent. These indirect charges have amounted, on the Bellerophon, to no less than 114,372l.; Lord Warden, 104.292l., with a further addition to follow: Royal Alfred, 69,999l., also liable to some addition; Lord Clyde, 66,964l.; Pallas, 61,076l. The most costly of the ships have been the Minotaur, 450,774l.; the Agincourt, 446,048l., both of them with unsettled claims for extra payment; the Northumberland, 433,130l., with the accounts not yet closed; the Achilles, 444,590l.; and the Hercules, estimated at 401,000l. Further sums have to be added to the cost of these ships for dockyard, incidental, and establishment charges.
Ma 17 August 1868The armour-plated iron screw steamship Northumberland, 26, has been put in commission at Devonport by the transference to her of the officers and crew of the armour-plated ship Lord Clyde, 23, Capt. Roderick Dew, C.B.
Th 10 September 1868The iron armour-plated screw steamship Northumberland, 26, Capt. Roderick Dew, was appointed to be removed from Devonport yesterday into Plymouth Sound.
We 16 September 1868A trial of the engines of Her Majesty’s ship Northumberland, 24, Capt. Roderick Dew, C.B., was made outside the Breakwater, Plymouth, yesterday, when the mean speed attained after six runs under full boiler power was 14·132 knots per hour, and with four runs at half boiler power 11·728 knots. The engines worked in a very satisfactory manner, indicating over 6,500-horse power.
Th 17 September 1868The engines of Her Majesty’s armour-plated iron ship Northumberland, 24, Capt. Roderick Dew, C.B., were tried on Tuesday at Plymouth. The Northumberland is fitted with Mr. M’Farlane GrayExternal link’s patent automatic steering apparatus, brought out by Messrs. Forrester and Co., of Liverpool. This patent was tested outside the breakwater on the 11th inst. with very successful results.
Tu 29 September 1868Further experiments with the dismounting gear, the invention of Mr. Donald Grant, of Chatham dockyard, are ordered to be carried out on board Her Majesty’s iron-clad ship Northumberland, 26, 1,350-horse power, Capt. Roderick Dew, C.B., now fitting for sea at Devonport.
Sa 28 November 1868That portion of the Channel Squadron which left Plymouth Sound on Thursday for Lisbon, consisted of the Minotaur, Defence, Penelope, Bellerophon, and Northumberland. The Warrior shipped her powder yesterday (Friday), and will follow shortly. The Helicon and Pigeon will probably leave to-day with despatches for the Admirals.
Tu 1 December 1868Her Majesty’s ship Helicon will sail from Devonport tomorrow morning, and will convey despatches for the Channel Squadron, consisting of the Minotaur, Bellerophon, Penelope, Northumberland, Defence, and Pallas.
Ma 23 August 1869



Mr. Childers, First Lord of the Admiralty, with Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Dacres, K.C.B., First Sea Lord, accompanied by their staff officers, secretaries, &c., will sail from England to-morrow with a fleet which, although it may be looked upon as small in point of numbers, will stand unrivalled by any fleet previously assembled for ocean service in all that relates to the speed of the ships under all grades of steaming, power of guns, or thickness of armour-plating — in the latter sense, of course, excepting the unarmoured flying frigate of the British navy, the Inconstant. This fleet is composed of: —
1. Agincourt, 28 guns, 6,121 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,350-horse power (nominal), Captain Hugh T. Burgoyne, V.C., C.B, Admiralty flagship.
2. Minotaur, 34 guns, 6,621 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,350-horse power (nominal), Captain James G. Goodenough, carrying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas M.C. Symonds, K.C.B., the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet of 1869, in the absence of the Admiralty ensign.
3. Northumberland, 28 guns, 6,621 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,350-horse power (nominal), Captain Charles H. May.
4. Hercules, 14 guns, 5,234 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,200-horse power (nominal), Captain Lord Gilford.
5. Bellerophon, 14 guns, 4,270 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,000-horse power (nominal), Captain Francis Marten.
6. Monarch, 7 guns, 5,102 tons, armoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship (double turret), of 1,100-horse power (nominal), Captain John B. Commerell, V.C., C.B.
7. Inconstant, 17 guns, 4,066 tons, unarmoured, iron-built, screw-engined ship, of 1,000-horse power (nominal), Captain Elphinstone D'O. D'A. Aplin.
I have included the Monarch simply because her name is on the list of ships at the Admiralty that are to start under the Admiralty flag from here with their Lordships, but I believe the defects existing in her gun-carriages, brought to light during her recent cruise and experimental firing in the Channel, are of so grave a nature that she is not likely to sail with the fleet hence, although she may possibly join afterwards at Lisbon. A good deal has been said on both sides respecting the experimental firing from the 25-ton guns in the Monarch's turrets during her cruise, and all, or nearly all, the statements made have been remarkable for the extreme opinions expressed. I have no doubt whatever myself, speaking with some knowledge of such matters, that the exact truth will be found to lie between the two extremes and, as in most other instances in daily life, "impulsiveness of nature" must bear whatever blame may be due. An error of judgment certainly appears to have been committed, if only in a slight degree, but then it must be taken into consideration that this is the first occasion on which guns weighing each 25 tons, rifled also, and firing immense charges, have been fired on board a vessel at sea. It is to be hoped the Monarch, if she does not join the fleet here, will do so as early as may be possible during the coming cruise. She is expected to prove, and doubtless will prove, a most formidable ship of war; but she is an entirely new type of vessel if looked upon simply as an ocean-going turret-ship. She has, however other points of interest connected with her build and efficiency. She represents the "high freeboard principle," a principle on which many people — and people who ought to be able to give an opinion of undoubted soundness — do not hang their faith, and she carries guns in her turrets relative to the working of which at sea under the condition of a deep and rapidly-changing inclination of the ship's deck it is desirable something reliable should be known. I have mentioned the power of the guns mounted by the several ships of the fleet, the thickness of the ships' armour-plating, and the speed of the ships, under steam. On all these points the ships may be fairly said to be in advance of the age in comparison with the navy of any other country. The three sister ships — the great five-masted craft — the Agincourt, the Minotaur, and the Northumberland, carry each 12-ton 7-inch muzzle-loading rifled guns on four broadside ports amidships, while the remainder of their armament consists of 6½-ton 7-inch guns of the same description in manufacture and rifling. All three have 5½-inch plating on a good serviceable backing of teak, and iron framing with an inner iron skin. The Bellerophon carries a magnificent battery of ten 12-ton guns on her main deck behind 6-inch plating, improved upon that of the Agincourt, Minotaur, and Northumberland; but it must be stated at the same time that her upper deck is hampered with an enormous and useless iron tower, and she is also deficient in steam power. The Hercules has on her main deck an unrivalled battery of 18-ton muzzle-loading rifled guns, and has also most undoubtedly the thickest, heaviest, and toughest skin of all the broadside ironclads afloat in Europe or America, and that is tantamount to saying in the world. The Monarch is our latest investment in iron-clad ships of war. She has a skin even much thicker, heavier, and tougher that the Hercules has, while the difference in the gun power of the two ships is, of course, as 25 to 18 in favour of the turret-ship. The Inconstant is the flying unarmoured screw frigate of the British navy. She is built entirely of iron, but floating in an outer shell of wood, on which is a skin of copper sheathing to enable her to keep the sea as long as any ordinarily wood-built ship. Although without armour, she carries 12-ton guns, and her speed under steam, at all grades of expansion, is superior to that of any other war ship afloat. She has been, in fact, specially constructed to carry extraordinary gun power combined with exceptional powers of speed, both for attack and for flight. The speed of the Monarch is, next to that of the Inconstant, the greatest of all the ships of the British navy. Next come the Hercules and Bellerophon, and close upon them the Agincourt, Minotaur, and Northumberland. The Inconstant — the fastest ship — averaged 16ˑ7 knots over the measured mile in six runs made continuously and without the engines stopping. The slowest of the fleet — the five-masted class — average 13ˑ5 knots. The aggregate amount of tonnage, nominal horse-power of engines, and number of guns represented by the seven ships are 38,137 tons, 8,350 nominal horse-power of engines, and 141 guns. The fleet is somewhat remarkable in its constitution in the presence of the three five-masted ships, it being the first instance of three such vessels having met and sailed in company in a fleet. It is also remarkable that the Agincourt, after doing duty as Admiralty flagship during the cruise of the Reserve Fleet, and having been again selected as their Lordships' flagship for the present cruise, should have but one soul on board among her present officers and crew who served on the last cruise. Mr james Patterson, the chief engineer of the ship, is the only one on board who can claim the honour of having previously done duty in the Agincourt under the Admiralty flag.
The Agincourt, Minotaur Northumberland, Hercules, and Bellerophon are lying in the Sound, coaled and ready for sailing. The Inconstant is hourly expected to join from Spithead. The Agincourt was docked at Keyham on Thursday, was undocked again on Friday, and the same evening towed out by three steam tugs to the Sound, where her coaling was completed by 5 o'clock yesterday morning — a large amount of work executed in a very abort period of time, and very much to the credit of the dockyard officials here. Yesterday, the President and members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, who had arrived at Devonport by a special train from Exeter, together with a large number of excursionists, embarked from the dockyard on board a Government steamer and visited the ships lying in the Sound.
Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Dacres, the First Sea Lord, with Captain Beauchamp Seymour, private secretary to Mr. Childers, and Captain G.0. Willes, has arrived at Devonport, from London, to complete arrangements for the sailing of the fleet tomorrow. Mr. Childers will arrive in Devonport from town to-morrow afternoon, and immediately embark on board the Agincourt. So far as arrangements stand at present, the Minotaur, Northumberland, Hercules, Bellerophon, Inconstant, and Monarch, if she joins, will weigh their anchors early in the afternoon of to-morrow, and proceed to sea, the Agincourt remaining in the Sound until Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres and their suite have embarked on board of her, when she will join the fleet somewhere in the vicinity of the Eddystone Light Tower. The first port made by the fleet after leaving Plymouth Sound will be Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean feet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne, K.C.B., will join, and the combined fleets then proceed on their cruise. Madeira will most probably be the next place of call, but this will depend upon after circumstances. At the termination of the cruise the combined fleet will anchor in the Tagus, and, it is expected, will remain anchored off Lisbon two or three days. On leaving the Tagus again Vice-Admiral Milne's fleet will return to Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, and the ships that are now in Plymouth Sound will sail for Queenstown, where they will arrive about the 27th of September.
Tu 24 August 1869



Plymouth Sound was never before so well defended as it was this morning, when the sun, breaking through the mists which hung thickly over land and sea, shone down upon eleven magnificent ironclads anchored under the lee of the breakwater. The Monarch and Inconstant had joined during the night from Spithead, making the number of ships to sail this afternoon under the Admiralty ensign seven in all, and fortunately giving the fleet the company of our first and as yet untried seagoing turret-ship Monarch. The Black Prince entered the Sound yesterday afternoon from Bermuda, having left there on the 31st ult., and the Warrior anchored here last night from Spithead; neither of these vessels, however, will take part in the coming cruise. The Warrior would have joined had it been considered possible to get her ready in time on her arrival from Bermuda, but this anticipated cause of delay, although it has been got over, has now been supplemented by another in a change in her command, and our first and still handsome and formidable ironclad will not, therefore, join in the cruise. This is to be regretted, as it leaves a gap in this division of the combined fleet at sea previous to joining the Mediterranean division. With the Warrior in company, two lines or divisions equal in numbers could have been formed, but under the present conditions one division must necessarily be of four and the other of three ships.
Vice-Admiral Sir T.M.C. Symonds, K.C.B., commanding the Channel Fleet, hoisted his flag at 8 o'clock this morning on board his flagship, the Minotaur, Captain James G. Goodenough, on his return from short leave.
An official notice has been issued that letters from England will find the combined fleets at Gibraltar from the 1st to the 4th of September, both dates inclusive, and at Lisbon on the 13th.
The ships which sail to-day from England will arrive at Queenstown on the 27th of September.
The arrangements for the ships of the Channel Squadron to weigh this afternoon and proceed outside to wait for the Agincourt remain unaltered, and they are expected to leave the Sound about 5 p.m. Mr. Childers will arrive at Devonport from London by the 5 p.m. train, and go on board the Agincourt about 6 p.m., when she will immediately leave the Sound and join the other ships outside. By midnight the whole will be well off the land, and steering a course to clear Ushant, en route for Gibraltar.


PLYMOUTH, Monday Evening.

At noon to-day most of the ships in the Sound belonging to the Channel Squadron weighed one anchor, took in all boats, and got up steam.
At 4 30 p.m. the Minotaur started from the centre of the Squadron under steam only. Wind, S.S.W., light; weather, fine ; tide, first quarter's flood.
The Minotaur was followed by the Bellerophon and Hercules. The Northumberland, being the easternmost ship, had to wait until the others were clear, and left at 4 50 p.m.
The Inconstant started at 5 and the Monarch at 5 30 p.m.
Mr. Childers, the First Lord, who came down by the South Devon Railway, went on board the steam tender Princess Alice, at Millbay, at 6 p.m., under a salute of 19 guns from the flagship Royal Adelaide, Captain Preedy, in Hamoaze.
Within 15 minutes his Lordship left the tender, and proceeded in the Port Admiral's barge to the Agincourt, on board which lie was received with yards manned.
The Admiralty flag was then hoisted at her mainmast, and was saluted by the Plymouth Citadel and by the Monarch, which hove to off the Rame Head, outside the harbour.
At 6 30 p.m. the Agincourt returned the salutes, and at 7 followed the other ships for Gibraltar.
The Warrior and the Black Prince are the only ships of war now left in the Sound.
Tu 7 September 1869



In my first letter, dated from Plymouth Sound, I observe an error which requires correction before referring to subsequent events connected with the cruise. I appear to have stated, in referring to the Iron tower on the upper deck of the Bellerophon, "and she is also deficient in steam power;" what I Intended to have said was, “and is also deficient in gun power," to convey the opinion that the weight of the iron tower would be more advantageously employed in the form of guns on the same deck.
The First Lord of the Admiralty, on embarking on board the Agincourt, in Plymouth Sound, on the evening of Monday, the 23d of August, was accompanied by the Senior Sea Lord of the Admiralty, Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Colpoys Dacres, K.C.B.; Captain F. Beauchamp Seymour, C.B., A.D.C. to the Queen, private secretary to the First Lord; Captain George Ommanny Willes, C.B., Captain of the Fleet; and Paymaster Richard Munday, secretary to their lordships during the cruise. The fleet was thus commanded by the Admiralty, and not personally by any one individual, Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas M.C. Symonds, the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron, flying his flag on board the Minotaur as second in command. The appointment of Captain Willes to the post of Captain of the Fleet was an imperative necessity, and the selection has been a good one. During the cruise of the Reserve Fleet Admiral Key was the Admiralty executive officer, but on the present occasion there is no Admiral on board the flagship of their lordships, excepting Admiral Dacres and hence arose the necessity for the appointment of a Captain of the Fleet. Captain Willes is one of our best steam officers, no one stands higher in other professional qualifications, and at the same time he possesses an untiring energy which eminently fits him for the onerous post to which he has been appointed.
After leaving Plymouth Sound and overtaking the other ships off the Eddystone the Agincourt took her station at the head of the weather or starboard line of ships, the Minotaur at the head of the lee line, and the fleet entered upon its cruise under low boiler power, steaming five knots only, and steering a S.W. three-quarters W. course, in the following order:—
WEATHER DIVISION.— 1. Agincourt, Admiralty flag. 2. Monarch. 3. Hercules 4. Inconstant.
LEE DIVISION.— 1. Minotaur, flag of Vice-Admiral Sir T. Symonds, second in command. 2. Northumberland. 3. Bellerophon.
The night was fine and bright, with perfectly smooth water. Up to midnight there was a good deal of signalling between the Agincourt and the other ships with Colomb's flash-light signals, and each ship carried permanent white lights aloft on her spars in addition to the red and green lights on her bows.
At 6 o'clock on the following morning a nice breeze came up from about S.E. by E., at a force of 3 to 4, and all plain sail was put on the ships to royals. This afforded a first opportunity of seeing the Hercules, Monarch, and Inconstant together and in company with other ships under sail. No ships could possibly have looked handsomer or more effective under sail alone, and certainly for the first time since the introduction of ironclads into the British Navy two of those vessels and an unarmoured iron-built consort were as picturesque and efficient looking aloft as ever were three of the smartest of our wooden liners or frigates. Each of these three ships appeared to feel and spring to the pressure of her sails, although there was but a pleasant and, indeed, a light summer's breeze. A glance round at all the ships of the fleet at once disclosed the cause of this evident superiority. The Monarch, Hercules, and Inconstant carry masts and sails fully in proportion to their displacement, while all the other ships in the fleet are short of sail power. The Bellerophon when first she was brought out was fitted with a large increase of sail power upon that of all the previous ironclads, and the Monarch, Hercules, and Inconstant are a still further improvement upon her, and a wise return to old principles as to sail-propelling power to sea-going steamships of war, armoured or unarmoured. During the forenoon the fleet suddenly sailed into a dense bank of fog and the fog-horns succeeded the ordinary flags. The signals were perfectly conveyed and read off by the long and short durations of the sounds, but the effect upon the ear was very much like cattle bleating on a mountain side. The bank was of no great extent, and the ships soon emerged from it again into the bright sunshine and sailed on over an almost waveless sea, with scarcely more perceptible motion on their decks than is to be found on the floor of a drawing-room ashore. Evolutions under steam followed during the day, all of which were interesting, and the majority of them very fairly executed. It was, however, the first day all the ships had worked together in these manoeuvres, and a second day's drill at the same work might be expected to improve the appearance of the ships when thus wheeling and pirouetting under steam, by giving confidence to the officers in charge, in letting them see what the ships could do, comparatively with each other, under such circumstances.
The position of the ships at noon was 35 miles off Ushant, with the wind on the port quarter at a force of about four, at which it continued throughout the day. The revolutions of the engines of the ships were reduced in each instance so as to keep the speed of the fleet down to five knots per hour, but with the freshening of the breeze at times during the day to sometimes nearer five than four the ships averaged a speed of six knots between 11 a.m. and sunset. Some distance of the ground to be travelled over between the Channel and Gibraltar was, however, necessarily lost in the evolutions. About 6 p.m. sail was shortened and furled, and the ships put under steam alone at five knots. So fine was the weather that at 7 30 p.m. Vice-Admiral Symonds, with his flag-lieutenant, from the Minotaur, Captain Commerell from the Monarch, and Captain May from the Northumberland, boarded the Agincourt in their boats, by invitation, and dined with their Lordships, returning to their ships by their boats again between 9 and 10 o'clock. There was no risk in the visit. The sea was quite smooth, and a brilliant moon lit the way for the boats between the ships. As an historical reminiscence, I may mention that the heir of the great Lord St. Vincent lost his life as nearly as possible about the same spot years ago when paying a similar visit. He had been dining with his Admiral on board the flagship, and after dinner left in his own boat for his ship. The boat never reached the ship, nor was anything ever heard of her after leaving the flagship.
After the Admiralty guests left the Agincourt the ships were all put under easy sail and low steam for the night. At daylight on Wednesday morning all sail was made on the ships, and steam let down with engines stopped as each vessel was found to overrun her station upon her leader. The course being steered across the edge of the Bay brought the north-easterly breeze, which was steady at about well aft on each ship's port quarter, and all soon had starboard studding sails set alow and aloft. The Inconstant very soon began to spare her sails to the rest of the fleet, and the Monarch followed her example, until both these beautiful craft had reduced canvas to their three topsails. At 9 30 a.m. a general signal was made to chase ahead until 1 p.m., and then to chase back into stations astern of the two flagships, with screws disconnected.
The Monarch and Inconstant very soon sailed out to the front of the fleet, and stood on together in distinct positions from all the other ships in a spirit of rivalry, although there could be a very small chance for the heavily-armoured turret-ship against the lighter-weighted and unarmoured Inconstant. The Hercules took third position, but was recalled, so that the chase may be said to have been confined to the turret-ship and the Inconstant. At 1 15 p.m. both hauled to the wind to resume their stations in the weather column, astern of the Agincourt, the Inconstant at the time having a tremendous lead of the Monarch, but the latter having beaten the other ironclads of the fleet nearly half as much as the Inconstant had beaten her. When recalled from chasing, the Inconstant had distanced the Monarch 5½ miles. The Monarch was much delayed at the start by the great length of time it took to disconnect her screw. In reaching back closehauled towards the fleet the inclination of each to leeward was signalled to the Agincourt as — Monarch, 4 deg., Inconstant, 10 deg.
The breeze had then freshened to a fair whole sail strength for vessels hauled close to. In tacking to rejoin and fall into their positions in column again, the Monarch was 4 minutes 17 seconds going about, and the Inconstant 8 minutes 10 seconds.
The position of the fleet at noon was lat. 47 6 N., long. 7 41 W., Cape Finisterre S. 17 W., 263 miles. About an hour after noon the course of the ships was altered to S.W. by S.½W., which would haul the ships in more for the land, and direct for Cape Finisterre, from the large western offing they had gained. The fleet went to general quarters in the forenoon, and all newly joined men were put through a series of drills in the afternoon. There was sail drill in the after part of the day, after which the port column of ships steamed through the starboard column in the intervening spaces between the ships and reformed column to starboard of the line led by the Agincourt. The ships continued their course through the night under steam alone at the regulated speed of five knots. During the first and middle watch experimental drill signalling was carried on between the Agincourt and other ships with Colomb's flash lights, the Inconstant ranging up on the Agincourt's port beam to signal to test her signalmen, the frigate having been only 13 days in commission. The Monarch's men were next tested in the signals, and, after that, other ships were brushed up in a like manner. The Colomb, or Colomb-Bolton, system of flashing light signals for night signalling is so simple, certain in its action, and so admirably meets all the requirements for rapid and free communication between ships by night at sea that, like many other things established by their own simplicity and efficiency, we can only wonder it was not adopted long ago. It is simply — as, indeed, has been explained in The Times on more than one previous occasion — an adaptation of Morse's printing telegraph system, and by the short or long flashes of light, and their position to each other, messages are conveyed to the eye as certainly as the telegraph instrument prints them off upon the tape. Day signals on the same principle can be conveyed by semaphore arms, collapsing cones or drums, or by any visible object, no matter what its form, exhibited for long and short periods of time, or even by jets of steam. In a fog the same method of signalling is carried out by sound, with the fog horn. The Colomb system has been strongly opposed by many old naval officers, and has still its opponents among distinguished officers on and off the active list, who would fain preserve the old and cumbrous form of signalling to the navy simply because they have a rooted dislike of all "innovations." Thanks, however, to the firmness of Sir Sydney Dacres, the Colomb system has now been officially established as the signal system of the British navy, and every boys' training ship is now supplied with a set of lamps and apparatus to instruct fully in their use, the future seamen of our fleets. On the following morning Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres, accompanied by Captain F.B. Seymour, embarked, in the Admiralty barge from the Agincourt, and boarded the Monarch turret-ship, where they spent the greater part of the day in inspecting her. Four rounds were fired from one of her turrets, two being fired singly and two simultaneously from her monster 25-ton guns — the first occasion on which two guns in one turret had been fired on board of her. The other turret is hors de combat, owing to the damage sustained by the machinery fitted to the carriages of the guns, and is likely to remain so for some time beyond the end of the present voyage, although a number of workmen belonging to the Steam Factory Department of Portsmouth Dockyard were brought to sea in the ship, in the hope that they would be able to repair the damage to the carriages. The machinery fitted for working the turret guns of the Monarch is very beautiful, but is very complicated, occupies a great deal of space in the turret, is liable to complete derangement, as in the present instance, from injury to any one of its many parts, and it therefore becomes a question of grave import whether in any other gun or carriage gear to our turret ships some simple and more reliably lasting means may not be devised than has been employed in the case of the Monarch. The gun carriages for the turrets of the Captain have yet to be supplied to her, the details of their working gear being dependent upon the results of the trials of the Monarch's carriages. This is so far unfortunate that the Captain's carriages now wait, as the breakdown of the Monarch's "stops the way." During the time their lordships were on board the Monarch she was detached from the fleet, and the remainder of the ships were put through a series of evolutions under steam, the most strikingly effective of which, in a military sense, was an advance in line abreast against a supposed enemy's fleet, and a change of formation to two quarter columns, en echelon, each ship turning four points to starboard on the quarter of her leader, on engaging. The position of the fleet at noon was lat. 45 6 N., long. 8 56 W., Cape Finisterre S. 5 W. 135 miles. Since passing Cape Ushant, and entering upon the confines of the Bay of Biscay, the weather had been singularly fine and favourable for the passage of the ships, at the moderate rate of speed laid down for them, between Ushant and Finisterre. The moderate north-easterly breeze which helped them, with their low rate of steaming, to clear the chops of the Channel, accompanied them across the bay until Wednesday night, breaking up the summits of the long roll prevailing on the edge of the bay into millions of foaming wavelets, coruscating with light and colour in the brilliant sunshine. Thursday was a day of a different character, although the sea was quiet to an almost unnatural degree. There were calms, fog, light airs from the southward, rain showers, and occasional glints of sunshine, alternating throughout the day, and under all the sea lay with scarcely a ripple disturbing its surface or a pulsation from its depths to break its flatness. On Friday morning the fleet was nearing the land under Finisterre in a thick fog, and the unmelodious foghorn was again brought into use to ascertain the positions and bearings of the ships from each other. A partial lift in the fog about 9 a.m. brought all the ships within sight, when, their formation being necessarily found rather irregular, columns of divisions astern of the two flagships were reformed. The weather cleared as the sun gained strength, with the exception of a thick haze which hung on the horizon. A number of vessels hove in sight between the fleet and Cape Finisterre, which the fleet was now rapidly closing, and among others a beautiful fruit schooner, the Madelina, of Llanelly, steering N.E., which with all sail set to her fore royal and starboard studding sails passed close on the port beam of the Agincourt and dipped her royal in honour of the Admiralty ensign flying at the frigate's main. At noon the position of the fleet was in lat. 43 15 N., long. 9 36 W., Cape Finisterre being 15 miles on the port beam, and the Burlings bearing south, distant 230 miles. At 1 p.m. the course was altered to south by west, and at 5 p.m. to a couple of points or so further to the southward. At noon navigating officers who had faith in their vision saw through the curtain of fog on the port beam the shadow of the land between Capes Ortegal and Finisterre, but others who had not such faith in their own powers saw only fog. At 11 p.m., however, the light on the island of Bayona, off Vigo, was sparkling brilliantly on the port hand, and at 9 o'clock on the following (Saturday) morning the peaks of the mountainous range near the mouth of the Minho river stood sharply defined above the banks of summer morning haze which clothed the lower lands and the sea as the ships steamed slowly along in two columns parallel with the coast line. A few airs from the southward gradually increased to a light breeze that cleared off the base from the face of the coast line, disclosing a high range of land, from the slopes of which peeped out straggling villages, and occasionally villa residences embowered in foliage. The course of the ships was kept in close for Oporto Bay, and at 1 p.m. the fleet was led in one grand line through the Bay, within a mile and a half of the bar at the river's mouth, by the Agincourt, with the Admiralty ensign at her main royal mast head, and Oporto, "the Queen of the Douro," came in full view from the fleet, in the full blaze of the midday sun. If Oporto looked picturesque from the fleet the latter must have appeared equally so from the shore, and, judging from the numbers of people who thronged every point from which a view of the ships could be obtained, its passage through the bay must have caused some little excitement. The telegraph station at the north-east end of the bay signalled the fleet, with the Commercial Code of signals, "Where from?" and "How many days?" to which the Agincourt replied, "Plymouth, five days." "All well." On steering out from Oporto Bay, a wider berth was given the land, and the wind coming out on the ships' starboard beam, all plain sail was made on them as they steamed at their slowest rate along the coast for the Burlings. There were the usual drills on board the different ships during the day, but it being Saturday, shortening sails to topsail was substituted for the usual evening drill after the men’s supper-time. (The pipe for supper is given at 4 30 p.m.) This done, the watch was called and work considered done, until all hands were called on the following morning, except by the watch on deck.
On Sunday morning the fleet, in two lines, under sail and low steam to six-knot speed, were passing through the narrow channel between the rocky islands of the Burlings and Cape Carvoceiro and Light on the mainland, the town of Peniche and its numerous windmills forming a conspicuous feature on the port hand of the fleet, after getting clear of Carvoceiro. The weather was lovely, the light and fair breeze which had filled the ships' sails since their departure from Plymouth Sound, with a few intervals of calms, continuing, and the sea retaining its extraordinary smoothness — a state of wind and sea admirably suitable for a sailing and rowing regatta by Thames wherries. From Cape Carvoceiro to Cape Roca (the rock of Lisbon) the ships steered on a line within a mile of the shore, and in the clear beauty of the morning there were seen, with microscopic distinctness, the dark metallic-looking cliffs on the shore with sweeps of sandy beach, including the "Praia Formosa," or "Beautiful Beach," so named by the Portuguese for its shelving sands, and the bay of Ponte Novo, where Wellington landed with his troops, and afterwards fought the battle of Vimiera almost within sight of his landing place; the west end of the lines of Torres Vedras, which stretch across the peninsula to Villa Franca; the enormous marble built Mafra, combining palace, convent, and church under one roof, erected in pious gratitude by a King for the birth of a son, and raising the position of the poorest convent in Portugal to that of the richest. As the rock of Lisbon was neared the Cintra mountains towered above the Cape in dark grandeur, with the Royal Palace of Penha, the residence of Dom Fernando, perched on their loftiest peak, and the charming village of Cintra hanging on its slopes below. At noon the fleet was off Cape Roca, and soon afterwards the Tagus lay open on the port beam, but necessarily at some distance, as the course was being kept straight from Roca for Cape Espichel, and the tower of Belem, with the Royal Palace and the dome of the Estrella Cathedral, showed distinctly above all other buildings. A small but very fast and handsome little steamer, the Lusitano, came out from under the land, and ranging up alongside the Agincourt, dipped her flag to the British ensign. Divine service was performed on board the several ships and the day kept as a day of rest so far as was possible on board ship at sea. On board this ship the Rev. J.G. Macdona, chaplain of the ship and Admiralty chaplain pro tem., officiated at the morning and afternoon services, selecting as the text for his discourse in the morning the parable of the Prodigal Son. Cape Espichel was passed by the ships during the evening and a course taken thence to Cape St. Vincent.
Yesterday morning broke with very thick weather, and the Inconstant at 5 a.m. was sent in towards the land to ascertain its position, soon making it and signalling Cape St. Vincent to bear E. ¾ N. from her, at a distance of about 10 miles, and the ships were then kept on a course for Gibraltar Straits, over the 153 miles of water lying between Capes St. Vincent and Trafalgar. The Hercules ranged up alongside the Agincourt to signal about 9 a.m., and Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres, accompanied by Captain F.B. Seymour, boarded her in one of the flagship's cutters, and spent the morning on board inspecting her general arrangements between decks, and witnessing some shot practice from her 18-ton guns. Steam evolutions were made with the other ships during the time their Lordships were on board the Hercules; but, like all others made during the voyage out, they call for no particular notice from me here, being, as they are, merely preliminary to the more important evolutions that will be made by the combined fleets during the next portion of the cruise between Gibraltar and Lisbon. These preliminary exercises have been very necessary previous to joining the Mediterranean ships, as three of the ships of this Division — the Agincourt, Monarch, and Inconstant — are all newly commissioned ships. All the movements, however, have been very fairly performed, as have also the drills aloft in furling and making sail, sending down and aloft again topgallant masts and upper yards. With reference to these latter drills the subjoined order has been posted on board this ship: —
"Her Majesty's Ship Agincourt, at Sea, Aug. 27.
“Sir Sydney Dacres has expressed to me his satisfaction with the smartness and silence with which the evolutions have been performed this evening, and considers the activity displayed most creditable to a ship so short a time in commission. (Signed)
"H.T. BURGOYNE, Captain.
"To the Commander, Officers, and Crew of Her Majesty's Ship Agincourt."
As the ships left Cape St. Vincent astern they met with true Mediterranean weather at this season of the year in the vicinity of the Rock — an intensely sultry morning, with very little wind and occasional heavy falls of rain, This was succeeded by the wind coming out freshly from the southward, and, for the first time since leaving England, the ships had to steam against a head wind, with upper yards sent down on deck, topgallant masts housed, and lower yards pointed to the wind. At noon the ships, steaming six knots, were 165 miles from Gibraltar Bay. The Monarch soon after noon dropped astern of the other ships, with her engines stopped, to repack glands, and was signalled to follow us to Gibraltar Bay when able to steam again.
This morning a thick vapour hung over the land and completely hid the outline of the coast until nearly 9 a.m., when it cleared off, and at 11 a.m. the ships in two columns were steaming into the Straits with Cape Spartel and the African coast on the starboard hand, and the European land at a little further distance off on the port hand. Soon after 2 p.m. the fleet passed through the narrow part of the Straits between Tarifa and the Morocco coast, and at 4 30 p.m. the Agincourt and Minotaur, as leaders of the two columns, dropped their anchors in the Bay of Gibraltar, where they found at anchor the Mediterranean division of ships, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., which will form part of the combined fleet in the coming cruise between Gibraltar and Lisbon.
The present sick list of the Channel ships is at the following low rate from returns made officially up to this morning:— Agincourt, officers, men, and boys, 12; Monarch, 15; Hercules, 13; Inconstant, 14; Minotaur, 17; Northumberland, 16; Bellerophon, 12; giving a total of only 102 out of 4,832 souls on board the ships.
As the fleet entered the bay Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne, in his steam yacht tender the Psyche boarded the Agincourt, and welcomed the arrival of Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres in the waters comprised in his command, the Lord Warden, Sir A Milne's flagship, at anchor in the bay, at the same time saluting the Admiralty ensign at the main royal of the Agincourt, the compliment being duly returned by the latter ship to the flag of Sir A. Milne flying on board the Lord Warden. Salutes were also exchanged between the Agincourt and the garrison.
We 8 September 1869



Signal has been made to the combined Fleet to prepare to sail from here at daylight in the morning, and the coaling of the ships will be completed this afternoon.
The Monarch, which was left by the Channel Fleet outside the Straits repacking glands, to prevent an escape of steam, arrived in the Bay early on the morning yesterday, after the arrival of the other ships. The composition of the combined Fleet that sails in the morning on a ten days' cruise of exercise between the Rock and the Tagus is a matter of considerable interest, and I therefore append a return of all the most important particulars relating to the ships, number of officers and men serving on board, armaments, &c. —


Agincourt, Admiralty flagship, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse-power, 4 12-ton 9-inch and 24 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 700 officers and crew, 700 tons coal stowage.
Minotaur, flag of Vice-Admiral Sir T. Symonds, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse-power, 4 12-ton 9-inch and 24 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 705 officers and crew, 720 tons coal stowage.
Northumberland, 6,621 tons, 1,350-horse-power, 4 12-ton 9-inch and 22 9-ton 8-inch guns, 706 officers and crew, 714 tons coal stowage.
Hercules, 5,234 tons, 1,200-horse-power, 8 18-ton 10-inch, 2 12-ton 9-inch, and 4 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 650 officers and crew, 600 tons coal stowage.
Monarch, 5,102 tons, 1,100-horse-power, 4 25-ton 12-inch and 3 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 525 officers and crew, 600 tons coal stowage.
Bellerophon, 4,270 tons, 1,000-horse-power, 10 12-ton 9-inch and 5 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 538 officers and crow, 500 tons coal stowage.
Inconstant, 4,066 tons, 1,000-horse-power, 10 12-ton 9-inch and 6 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 600 officers and crew, 600 tons coal stowage.


Lord Warden, flag of Vice-Admiral Sir A, Milne, 4,080 tons, 1,000-horse-power, 2 12-ton 9-inch, 14 9-ton 8-inch, and 2 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 692 officers and crow, 6OO tons coal stowage.
Caledonia, 4,125 tons, 1,000-horse-power, 4 9-ton 8-inch and 20 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 631 officers and crew, 599 tons coal stowage.
Royal Oak, 4,056 tons, 800-horse-power, 4 9-ton 8-inch and 20 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 666 officers and crew, 540 tons coal stowage.
Prince Consort, 4,045 tons, 1,000-horse-power, 4 9-ton 8-inch and 20 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 650 officers and crew, 561 tons coal stowage.
Pallas, 2,372 tons, 600-horse-power, 4 9-ton 8-inch, 2 64-pounder 64cwt., and 2 40-pounder guns, 290 officers and crew, 250 tons coal stowage.
Enterprise, 993 tons,160-horse-power, 4 6½-ton 7-inch guns, 144 officers and crew, 103 tons coal stowage.
Cruiser, 752 tons, 60-horse-power, 1 6½-ton 7-inch gun and 4 64-pounders, 186 officers and crew, 65 tons coal stowage.
Psyche, 835 tons, 250-horse-power, 2 signal guns, 50 officers and crew, 218 tons coal stowage.

The Fleet is thus composed of six armour-plated iron-built ships, six armour-plated wood-built ships, one unarmoured iron-built frigate, one unarmoured wood-built sloop, and one paddlewheel despatch steamer, manned by 8,121 officers and men, armed with 233 armour-piercing, muzzle-loading rifled guns (the light 64-pounder and other guns not possessing armour penetration in the Fleet I have not included in this number), propelled by a gross nominal engine-power of 13,220-horse.
The stay of the Fleet here since the Channel Division joined on Tuesday afternoon will have been but a short one, but a good deal will have been done in the time by the First Lords. On Tuesday evening their Lordships entertained Sir Alexander Milne and his personal Staff and officers of the Fleet at dinner on board here, and yesterday evening Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Airey and the officers of his personal Staff dined on board with their Lordships. As early as half-past 6 yesterday morning the Admiralty barge had left the Agincourt, conveying Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres to the dockyard and coaling jetty at the New Mole, where some time was spent in an examination of the existing arrangements of the works in progress there. On returning from the dockyard a visit was paid to Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne on board his flagship, the Lord Warden, and afterwards their Lordships went on board each of the ships of the Mediterranean Division under the gallant Admiral's command. It is enough to say at present with regard to the Mediterranean ships, that the magnificent order they are in deservedly elicited the warmest expressions of admiration from their Lordships. In the afternoon the official Admiralty visit was made to the Governor of Gibraltar at his summer residence, the Cottage, at Europa. On their Lordships landing from their barge at the new Mole the battery at the head of the Mole fired a salute of 19 guns, and a guard of honour of the 13th Light Infantry, with the regimental band and colours, was drawn up to receive them. From the Mole the carriages of his Excellency conveyed his distinguished visitors to the Cottage. This morning by half-past 7 the Psyche, with the Lords of the Admiralty, accompanied by Sir Richard Airey and Staff, crossed to Tangiers, and were received at the Legation by the Foreign Minister of Morocco, introduced by Sir John D. Hay, afterwards returning the Minister’s visit at his palace. This evening Sir Richard Airey gives a grand dinner on shore to the Admiralty Lords and the Admirals commanding the two Divisions, to which a large party of officers, naval and military, are invited to meet them.
The weather is intensely hot here. Yesterday was stated to have been the warmest day experienced at the Rock during the present summer. In the shade the thermometers ranged to 98 deg., and the heat on the upper slopes of the Rock, in the almost entire absence of wind, must have been terrific. Notwithstanding this extraordinary heat, however, parties of officers from the fleet scaled the Rock — Englishmen-like, of course, at noon day — and took their luncheon of Huntly and Palmers biscuits, Stilton cheese, and Burton beer at the signal station 1,265 feet above sea level. By way also, I suppose, of continuing such extreme bodily exercise in exceptionally hot weather, the officers of the Royal Oak this afternoon play the officers of the 74th Highlanders a game of cricket on the flat shelterless plain on the north front, adjoining the neutral ground.
The Peninsular and Oriental Company’s screw steamship Tanjore arrived here last night at 7 p.m. from Southampton, with the mails, and resumed her voyage again this morning for Malta.
A French screw corvette arrived in the Bay this morning from Tangiers.
There is a great scarcity of water on the Rock at the present time, all the tanks with one exception being dry. Water is being drawn from the wells on the north front, and at the Ragged Staff landing place in the garrison, but at both places the water is quite brackish. The fall of rain on the Rock since the 11th of August has been only 0·250in. Water is always a luxury at Gibraltar, and in many cases an expensive one, as l am informed that in many instances officers stationed here with families have paid as much as 30l. in one year for this very necessary article procured from the water-carriers, beyond the quantity allowed by the garrison regulations. In about 50 days’ time there will be no water on the Rock available for the garrison or the inhabitants, unless rain should fall in the meantime. There is, however, a reasonable probability of rain before the present limited supply is quite exhausted.
Sa 18 September 1869



The combined fleet, led by the Agincourt, Admiralty flagship, arrived here this morning, as you will have learnt by my telegram despatched from here on the fleet anchoring, from Gibraltar after a passage of unusually fine weather, and a busy week of drills, under both sail and steam. On Thursday morning at daylight the fleet will again leave the Tagus, the Mediterranean division returning to its station, and the Channel division proceeding to Queenstown.
To resume my notes of the cruise. By daybreak on the morning of Friday, the 3d of September, the officers and crews on board the ships of the combined Mediterranean and Channel fleets in Gibraltar Bay were busily engaged in getting steam up in the boilers, unmooring and shortening in cables, and making other necessary preparations for proceeding to sea. At 8 a.m., flag-hoist time, parting salutes were exchanged between the Agincourt and the Gibraltar batteries, and immediately afterwards the ships weighed their anchors, with the exception of the Inconstant and Psyche, and steamed out of the bay in three grand divisions, the Agincourt leading the weather line, the Lord Warden the centre, and the Minotaur the lee line.
The Lords of the Admiralty had issued on the previous day a letter of instructions to the fleet relative to the order of sailing to be observed during the cruise between Gibraltar and Lisbon, the chief points in which were to the following effect:—
"1. Order op Sailing in Two Columns
1st division.
Lord Warden
Royal Oak
Prince Consort
2d division.
In this order at sea the Agincourt to take a station on the beam of the Lord Warden, or, in leading into an anchorage, to be four points on the bows of the Lord Warden and Minotaur. The Cruiser to be two or four cables, as signalled, astern of the Agincourt when that ship is on the beam of the Lord Warden.
The Cruiser to be on the beam of the Agincourt, and the Enterprise four or eight cables, as signalled, astern of the Agincourt, Cruiser and Enterprise to repeat signals.
"3. Whenever a course is ordered to be steered, the Cruiser, as the only wooden unarmoured ship in the fleet, is to watch most carefully the actual magnetic course steered.
"4. Vice-Admirals Sir Alexander Milne and Sir T.M. Symonds to regulate the movements of the several ships in their respective divisions, and carry out the detail of arrangements thereof, but in all evolutions the motions of the Agincourt to be followed."
Their Lordships observed, in conclusion, that, being desirous of personally testing the notes and additions made to various signals by Admirals of the Channel Squadron, and which have been used by their Lordships since leaving Plymouth Sound, they request that Sir Alexander Milne will cause the signal books of the ships under his immediate orders to be corrected from a copy sent to him from the Agincourt, and their Lordships at the end of the present cruise will be glad to have his opinion of the desirability of revising the books accordingly.
The fleet, therefore, sailed out of the bay in the order laid down in the second clause of the instructions, but the Inconstant was absent from her place in the weather division, having split the starboard valve box over her boilers in getting up steam in the morning, and remained behind to repair the damage, her place in the meantime being taken by the Enterprise. The Psyche also remained at the Rock to bring on despatches and mails.
A hot easterly breeze, at a force of nearly 6, prevailed when the ships left the Bay of Gibraltar, and covered the peaks of the rock and the mountains on the European and African coasts with dense masses of vapour. A southerly course was steered until the lee division was well clear of the Pearl Rock, when helms were ported, all plain sail made to royals, and the ships bore away through the Straits of Gibraltar to the westward, each under a cloud of canvas and reduced revolutions of the engines, the Agincourt's division taking the Morocco side of the Straits, the Minotaur's the Spanish side, and the Lord Warden's a central line. The Cruiser soon got out her studding sails on the port side to assist her scant steam power in keeping her position on the Agincourt's beam, and her appearance drew the remark from an officer on the flagship poop, "The Cruiser was certainly very pretty and — very useless." After passing Tarifa Point the fleet stood over to the Morocco shore, and on opening Tangier Bay and town clear of Point Malabata, the second and third divisions shortened sail and remained in view from the town, while the Agincourt led her division in a sweep round the bay until opposite the town, when her helm was put down, and, as she swung her head up to starboard and off from the land again, the crimson flag of Morocco was run up to her main royal masthead and saluted by her upper deck battery with 21 guns, the Castle of Tangier, in reply, hoisting the British ensign, and saluting from its batteries — taking the entire round of the ramparts for the fire — with 22 guns. Again the Agincourt's guns opened in salute, this time with 17 guns, in honour of the Governor, and again the guns of the Castle roared out their courteous reply, this time as before with one gun in excess, with 18 rounds. The town of Tangier, built in tiers of white buildings on the side of steep rising ground from the sea shore, with the flags of the several European Consulates streaming out in the fresh breeze, the bold background of mountains, with the glistening waters of the bay, all lit by the hot afternoon's sun, presented a very striking appearance. The visit of the fleet, brief as it was, was undoubtedly a piece of good diplomacy. On the occasion of the private visit paid to the town on the previous day by Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres, every honour and courtesy was accorded to them that the Moorish authorities could possibly command. The Castle fired a salute in their honour on their landing from the Psyche, and on their arrival at the British Legation the Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended by the Pashas of the provinces and accompanied by a number of officers of rank, waited upon their Lordships, and were introduced by the British Minister, Sir J. Drummond Hay, After the return visit had been paid to the Minister at his palace, horses were provided for the use of their Lordships, Sir Richard Airey, Governor of Gibraltar, and the several officers of the naval and military Staffs who had crossed over in the Psyche, and the various objects of interest in the town and neighbourhood visited and explained by the Moorish officers in attendance. For the fuller initiation of their distinguished visitors into the mysteries and customs of Oriental life, a veritable "snake charmer" was produced with a number of the reptiles, which he exhibited in the usual manner, and wound up his performance by tightly binding up his right arm above the elbow, and then selecting one of the most hideous looking of the creatures, he teased it into such fury that it at length fastened on the charmer's fore arm and drew blood freely.
After the salutes had been completed between the Agincourt and the Castle, the flagship led her division again out of the bay, and rejoined the fleets outside, the ships then resuming their course westward, the Agincourt’s ensign dipping in reply to the same form of courtesy from the Union Jack seen flying over the country residence of the British Minister, on the slopes of the Indios Mountain, about three miles west of the entrance to Tangier Bay.
Cape Spartel was soon afterwards left astern, and the fleet steered on a north-westerly course in the direction of Cape St. Vincent, under easy sail for the night, commencing its homeward, as it did its outward voyage, with a fair wind, and weather of extraordinary fineness, but, at the same time, it must be confessed, of extraordinary heat.
The Inconstant joined the fleet on the following morning from Gibraltar, and took her place in the weather divisional column; the Enterprise falling out and joining the Cruiser on the Agincourt's weather quarter. The day was entirely devoted to steam evolutions, at five-knot speed, with steam in the boilers available for six knots. Many of the evolutions were very well performed by the three columns of ships, but some of them were admitted to have been as ill done, distances and bearings not being well kept in many instances, nor signals closely obeyed. It was the first day's practice in steam evolutions of the combined Mediterranean and Channel Fleets, and possibly any errors committed were entirely owing to a want of practice in manoeuvring ships of very different lengths together, and to a want of perspicuity in the wording of many of the signals taken from the evolutionary portion of the navy signal books when considered in their relation to the previous manoeuvre. The evolutions, which lasted about seven hours, comprised from an order of sailing in three divisional columns—
"2d and 3d divisions wheel to port and form single column on the 1st division.
"Form columns of divisions in line ahead, wheeling to starboard.”
In this manœuvre the 3d division held its course, while the 1st and 2d divisions, wheeling first to starboard and then to port, completed the diagram on the weather of the 3d division.
"Form columns of subdivisions in line ahead, retreating to starboard. (Exceedingly well executed.)
"Form columns in quarter line four points abaft the port beam of leaders. (Failed.)
"Form columns in line ahead, wheeling to starboard. (Signal misunderstood.)
"Form columns of sub-divisions, &c., a repetition of the signal previous to the last. (Failed.)
"Form columns of divisions in line ahead, wheeling to starboard. (Very smartly done).
"Form in single columns in line ahead, the starboard wing column wheeling to starboard and leading, and the port wing column wheeling to port and forming astern of centre column."
The other movements would occupy too much of your space to describe, but there was one which is worth a brief notice. From a single column in line astern of the Agincourt, signal was made to "invert the column in succession from van to rear, passing the leading ship of the column on the starboard side." In carrying out this evolution, therefore, each ship in the fleet passed in full view of the Admiralty, from the poop of the Agincourt. in what I can only describe as a "march in slow time," and every part of her appearance and equipment on the upper deck, aloft, and about the exterior of her hull could be closely seen and criticized. There was no apparent fault to be seen, and a more magnificent spectacle could not well be imagined on a calm day at sea as the 12 ironclads, with the unarmoured clipper Inconstant and the Cruiser, passed by in a stately procession. About 5 p.m. the light airs of wind which had prevailed during the day had increased to a nice steady summer evening's breeze, and signal was made to "make all plain sail and come to the wind on the starboard tack." Time was taken as follows, but it was evident that in some of the ships there were special means taken in securing topsails when furling for quickly casting them adrift again when making sail for drill purposes that gave them a most unfair advantage over other ships that furled their sails honestly:—
 m.s. m.s.
Royal Oak150Caledonia420
Lord Warden35Hercules640
Prince Consort335   

Monarch, Cruiser, and Enterprise were not timed.

The Royal Oak and Prince Consort were ordered to furl and loose again. Their time in each instance was:—
Royal Oakm.
Prince Consortm.
Making sail again.
Royal Oakm.
Prince Consort
(with mizen
royal adrift)

During the night the wind became variable in both strength and direction, and topgallant sails and royals were taken in and the course altered to meet the position of the wind, fires being "banked" to signal. In the early morning the centre column, composed of Mediterranean ships, led by the Lord Warden, was seen to be entirely out of its position, with the rearmost ship of the column, the Royal Oak, nearly hull down on the horizon. This was partially remedied by 8 a.m. The Caledonia, when the fleet was in the Straits of Gibraltar, on Friday afternoon, had signalled, in answer to the Lord Warden, that she had 88 of her crew on the sick-list, and this number, alarming as it was by its enormous excess over the average, was now increased to 109. Influenza is said to be the chief feature of the epidemic on board, with some cases of low fever; but, whatever may be the real nature of the sickness, its cause should be ascertained. The officers and crew of the Caledonia only left England in May last to join their ship at Malta, and yet, now that the ship is at sea and on a most important cruise, one-fifth of her hands are disabled by sickness. It would be manifestly impossible that such an occurrence should pass over without some inquiry.
The day being Sunday, Divine service was performed on board the several ships of the fleet in the morning and afternoon, together with voluntary services in the evening. The three services on board the Agincourt wore attended by the Lords of the Admiralty, Commodore George O. Willes, Captain of the Fleet, and other officers of the Admiralty staff. With a moderate breeze, and close hauled to it, the fleet, under easy sail, stood on for the night on a course W. by N.
Sa 18 September 1869
On the following morning, Monday, September 6, the ships in Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne's division were again found to be all out of position, and it took some time to get them in their right places again. Signal was given to chase to windward, and at 8 a.m. the start was made, the formation of the fleet at the time being in three columns, at about 5½ cables' distance apart, and four cables’ distance between each ship in the lines of divisions. The Agincourt, Monarch, Hercules, and Inconstant, as the first division, held the weather position; the second line, 5½ cables to leeward, comprising the Lord Warden, Royal Oak, Caledonia, and Prince Consort; and the third, or lee line, the Minotaur, Northumberland, Bellerophon, and Pallas. The Enterprise had been sent away to windward an hour before the start, and the Cruiser was directed to close on the weather of the Inconstant as a "test" vessel — in a certain degree — of the speed of the unarmoured frigate. The ships started close hauled, with the wind at a moderate royal breeze, and a short lumpish swell running. All carried plain sail to royals, and the Royal Oak and Monarch soon got up a main-topmast staysail. The Inconstant had her screw hoisted up, but the others carried theirs down with permission to "disconnect." Soon after the start the little Cruiser danced past the weather quarter of the Agincourt, with the Inconstant in pursuit at about a cable's length astern, and a hail of "Well done Cruiser!" was given her from the poop of the flagship. The Monarch and Hercules, with the great weight of their hulls, appeared unable to do anything in the moderate breeze and against the short jump of the sea, and sailed absolutely to leeward of their leader. The Royal Oak sailed well full, came out to windward of her line in great style, sailed through the lee of the Agincourt, and shot out to windward across her bows. The Caledonia and Prince Consort followed the Royal Oak out to windward, while their leader, the Lord Warden, fell away rapidly to leeward of everything. The Minotaur sailed equally well with the Royal Oak, and drew triflingly upon the Agincourt; but the Northumberland was nearly as sluggish as the Lord Warden. The Pallas and Bellerophon were the two best, so far, of the Minotaur's division; but they were outpaced even thus early by the oldest of our ironclads, the Royal Oak, Prince Consort, and Caledonia. Half-an-hour after the start the Inconstant passed the Cruiser to windward and took the lead of the fleet. At 10 o'clock, in answer to signal, the inclination of each ship was given as—
 deg. deg.
Royal Oak4Caledonia5
Lord Warden5Agincourt3
Northumberland3Prince Consort6

Nine degrees of inclination by the Inconstant in so moderate a breeze would seem to indicate that she is much too crank, her present trim possibly being the cause. At 11 a.m. the fleet tacked together to starboard, the time occupied in the evolution by each ship being—
 m.s. m.s.
Monarch530Prince Consort430
Lord Warden920Bellerophon620

The Royal Oak and Cruiser were not correctly timed.

The weatherly positions of the ships after tacking were:-
1 Inconstant, with a
tremendous lead.
2. Cruiser.
3. Enterprise.
4. Royal Oak.
5. Monarch.
6. Agincourt.
7. Hercules.
8. Minotaur.
9. Caledonia.
10. Prince Consort.
11. Bellerophon.
12. Pallas.
13. Northumberland.
14. Lord Warden,
hopelessly to leeward.

Immediately after tacking the Caledonia carried away het mizen royal mast, main and fore topgallant masts close to the topmast heads, in a heavy lurch made to leeward. The mizzen royal mast with its yard and sail, went first followed in about fifteen seconds by the mail topgallant mast, and then the fore, at about the same distance of time. As the wreck hung over to leaward the ends of the yards tore great gaping holes in the fore and main topsails, and by this time the poor Caledonia was a "sight" for the fleet. Her topmen were aloft almost before the last spar went and so energetically was the wreckage cleared away and new spars sent aloft and fitted, that by half-past 3 in the afternoon the frigate was making sail to royals again on all three masts. It was very effective as a mere spectacle to lookers-on, and very expensive also without doubt. Fortunately, no one on board, aloft or on deck, received the slightest injury. At 2 p.m. the fleet tacked, the Monarch missing stays twice, and being at length compelled to wear to get her head round, stood on until 6 o'clock, when the chase was discontinued. The ships then wore round, and the three divisional columns were re-formed for the night. In wearing round the Hercules for more than half an hour refused to answer her helm, and lay with her head yawing about and looking in all directions but the right one. This action of the Hercules in refusing to wear, with that of the Monarch's in refusing to stay, was looked upon as of so grave a character that, by direction of Mr. Childers and Sir Sydney Dacres, both ships were signalled to send in written reports on the subject. The Monarch signalled:—
"Our balanced rudder was the cause of the ship missing stays, and is also the cause of her not going to windward. Ship carries on the port tack from 15 to 20 deg., and on the starboard tack from 9 to 10 deg. of weather helm."
Angles were taken from the Agincourt by her Staff-Commander, at the start and at the finish, and the subjoined measurements will give the exact conditions and results of the trial. At the start, at 8 a.m.:—

Enterprise, 9 cables to windward of Agincourt.

To Leeward of Agincourt.
 Cables. Cables.
Cruiser4Prince Consort10
Lord Warden6Bellerophon14
Royal OakPallas15½

At the conclusion of the trial, at 5 p.m.:—

To Windward of Agincourt.
 Cables. Cables.
Inconstant.90Royal Oak16

Even with AgincourtMonarch.

To Leeward of Agincourt.
 Cables. Cables.
HerculesPrince Consort23¼
Bellerophon10Lord Warden71

Gain on Agincourt.
 Cables. Cables.
Royal Oak23½Bellerophon4

Loss on Agincourt.
 Cables. Cables.
Lord Warden65Pallas14½
Northumberland17Prince Consort13¼

The next day, Tuesday, September 7, was also devoted to sailing. The disappointing character of the results of the previous day's sailing, more especially as regarded the Hercules and Monarch, determined their Lordships to start the Inconstant, Monarch, Hercules, and Cruiser together from the fleet in a run over a certain distance to leeward, and thence to beat back to the fleet to windward. The Royal Oak was selected as the mark ship, and by 8 a.m. was hove to seven miles dead to leeward from the fleet, which also lay hove to in its windward position. At 40 minutes past 8 the four ships were started from the Agincourt, their instructions being to pass round the stem of the Royal Oak, and then make their way again back to the Agincourt, carrying all possible sail out and in. The Royal Oak on the last of the four ships passing round her was to fill and join in the chase back to windward. The wind was at a force of five at the start, a good royal breeze, and a moderately long swell was running. The Cruiser, Hercules, and Monarch were pretty close together at the start, but the Inconstant was about six cables astern of the others.
The Hercules led out from the Agincourt, with Monarch second, but the little Cruiser soon slipped past the two huge ironclads, and, with studding sails set alow and aloft, skimmed along for the "Oak" before the wind and roll of the sea in gallant style, the other three quickly getting out their studding sails. The Inconstant drew rapidly upon the Monarch and Hercules, passed them in half an hour after the start, and then took up the trail of the Cruiser. This work was not so easy for her, however, as it had proved with the Monarch and Hercules, and the run out to leeward was well advanced before she succeeded in passing her. On nearing the Royal Oak each ship took in her studding sails, and afterwards luffed round the ship in the subjoined order and times:—
 h.m.s. h.m.s.

The time occupied by each ship, therefore, in running over the seven miles was,—
 h.m.s. h.m.s.

After all had luffed past her, the Royal Oak filled her sails, and joined the chase back to windward, and was before long on the weather of both the Monarch and Hercules. All kept their reach for some time after luffing to the wind, and then, going about on the starboard tact, stood on towards the fleet. The Inconstant fetched into the finishing point for the race close under the Agincourt's stern, and the Cruiser fetched in just 2½ miles to leeward of that. The Royal Oak fetched in nearly as far to windward as the Cruiser, but the Monarch and Hercules were so far to leeward that signal was made at 4 p.m. to discontinue the chase, and angles were taken from the Agincourt to ascertain their then exact position. The Inconstant finished under the flagship's stern at 14 minutes past 2 p.m., and the Cruiser, with a hail to the flagship of "There was too much sea for us," at 5 minutes past 3. These times made the Inconstant 3 hours 59 minutes and 13 seconds beating up over the seven miles to windward, and the Cruiser 4 hours 48 minutes and 25 seconds. During the latter part of the time the wind fell to about 4, and the swell subsided in a proportionate ratio. The Inconstant and Cruiser sailed with their screws hoisted up, but the other three vessels had their screws down. The measurements taken after the Cruiser passed under the Agincourt's stern, allowance having been, made for the drift and fore-reaching of the flagship, placed the Royal Oak, Hercules, and Monarch to leeward of the Agincourt at the subjoined distances:-
Royal Oak, 2 miles 7 cables; Hercules, 3 miles 1 cable; Monarch, 4 miles 1 cable.
When the chase was discontinued, the weather ships bore up, and the fleet was reformed in three columns of divisions for the night, the general work of the day being closed with shifting topsails - which was accomplished by
 m.s. m.s.
Cruiser (on two
masts only) in
Lord Warden1115Caledonian2210
Prince Consort1115*Inconstant2747
Royal Oak155*Monarch3552
* Newly commissioned ships.

The time occupied in shifting topsails at sea is looked upon as a test of the smartness of a ship's crew in their work aloft, but time must always be considered in relation to the date of the ship's commission and the number of leading and able seamen on board the respective ships. The Agincourt, Hercules, Monarch, and Inconstant are newly commissioned ships, and officers and crews not yet working well together, cannot, therefore, be expected to compete in any work aloft with ships that have been some time in commission, and where such drill is a daily practice, such as the Lord Warden, Minotaur, Royal Oak, or Pallas. The composition of the crews is, perhaps, of greater importance, and I find from a return made by signal to this ship that the numbers of leading and able seamen — the men who do the work aloft — on board the ships of the fleet (excepting the Cruiser, which was detached from the fleet at the time the signal was made) are as follows:-
◄Table scrolls horizontally►
 Leading seamenAble seamen Leading seamenAble seamen
Lord Warden20126Northumberland25106
Royal Oak20151Pallas528
Prince Consort20112Enterprise312

At sunset the fleet was placed under topsails, topgallant sails, and fore courses, and hauled up on the wind for Cape St. Mary for the night, to secure smooth water for steam evolutions ordered to be carried out during the two following days. The next morning brought nearly a calm and a perfectly smooth sea, and the course of the fleet was so steered during the evolutions that ensued that by noon the ships were in the bight of water between the Capes of St. Vincent and St. Mary. At 2 p.m. the American screw frigate Juanita, bound for Gibraltar, passed inshore of the fleet, and exchanged salutes with the Agincourt. At the same time the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s mail steamship Poonah, from Southampton, bore down upon the fleet from Cape St. Vincent, with the signal flying from her masthead, "Mail bags for the fleet," and, ranging up alongside the Agincourt, sent on board the Admiralty mail bag, with one also for each other of the ships in the fleet. Her passengers were evidently all on deck, and gazing over her bulwarks with the deepest interest and astonishment at the imposing yet eccentric war dances of the great fleet.
The evolutions were made at six-knot speed in the morning, but in the afternoon the rate of speed was reduced to five knots. This was the first occasion on which steam had been used since clearing the Straits of Gibraltar on the previous Saturday evening, fires having been kept banked and sail only used. The Bellerophon broke the spindle of her escape valve during the evolutions and fell out of the column to which she belonged for a time, to repair the damage, rejoining afterwards; and the Cruiser, being unable to keep any position with the other ships when under steam, was despatched to the rendezvous appointed for the Pallas on her arrival from Gibraltar, 20 miles off Cape St. Vincent. The night drill, before calling the watch, was on this occasion shifting fore courses. The next morning was more brilliantly clear than the preceding one, and Cape St. Vincent, with the Serra de Monchique mountains in the background, loomed up with extraordinary distinctness on the starboard hand. Light north westerly airs, just of sufficient strength to blow out the signal flags, prevailed, and the state of both wind and sea, in fact, was admirably suited for the work the fleet had before it — another long day's drill in steam manœuvres. These, like those of the previous day, require no detailed notice. All that may be said of them is, that the fleet looked magnificently warlike in many of the figures made, and the general execution of them was a great improvement on the first day's practice after leaving Gibraltar; but, on the other hand, considerable confusion, to say the least, was exhibited in some of them.
Vice-Admirals Sir A. Milne and Sir T.M. Symonds, with several of the officers commanding ships in their divisions, and the commanders of the Minotaur and Lord Warden, dined by invitation with the Lords of the Admiralty on board the Agincourt. At 10 p.m., almost before the two vice-admirals could have regained the deck of their flagship on returning from the Agincourt, the latter hoisted four vertical lights at the after-peak, and fired a rocket as a signal for the fleet to go to general night quarters and engage. The Hercules fired the first gun, and the engagement soon be came general. For a short time each ship was intensely illuminated over every part of her hull, spars, and rigging. The fire from so many guns, however, soon covered the fleet in dense masses of smoke, and these, flame-fringed and pierced with long tongues of fire, were all that could then be seen of the action, which was thenceforward fought out to the end by each ship firing into the smoke around her as rapidly as possible. How steam tactics would have fared under such circumstances it would be difficult to say. A second rocket from the Agincourt brought the action to an end; magazines were closed, guns secured, hammocks again piped down, the watch called, and the fleet resumed its ordinary quietude for the night.
Sa 18 September 1869
Friday, the 10th, was a great day with the fleet at target practice. The ships were spread out over a large space, and each sending out targets, made practice from her main deck ordnance, with rifle practice from the marines on the forecastle. With the ships at such distances from each other, I could see nothing of the shooting beyond that from this ship. Here the firing was exceedingly good, except when the ship got the roll of the sea abeam, and then the unsteadiness of her deck necessarily caused the shooting to became as wild as it had previously been true. There was only just such a breeze as any vessel might beat up to windward against under her royals, and a moderately long swell rolled in from the westward, such as might be looked for in the finest of weather at sea, and yet, under these not very unfavourable conditions, here was a fleet of ships with their broadside guns rendered innocuous each time they got the swell of the sea on their beam, The great disadvantage of broadside-mounted as compared with turret guns was fully brought out, even on so fine a day, and there can be no manner of doubt that had the Monarch been an enemy, with her turrets and four 25-ton guns in working order, she could have steamed down on the fleet from her windward position and have sunk fully one-half of the ships before her own fire could have been silenced by her being sunk or blown up in her turn.
The Psyche joined the fleet in the morning from Gibraltar, and returned there again in the afternoon with despatches and mailbags for the homeward bound Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamer. The Cruiser also rejoined the fleet from her cruising ground under Cape St. Vincent.
The drills of the combined fleet at sea terminated with the target practice of Friday, the 9th inst. During Saturday and yesterday the ships lay on and off the land, in three divisions, under easy canvas, and close hauled to light northerly winds, between Capes Espichel and Roca, and occasionally heaving within sight from the mouth of the Tagus, A longish swell prevailed at times, and under its influence, combined with the lightness of the wind and the low rate of speed at which the ships were moving through the water, — from two to 2½ knots per hour, — the "rollers" of the fleet, the Royal Oak, Pallas, Caledonia, and Lord Warden, performed, with closed ports, some most extraordinary antics, The Royal Oak and Pallas at times nearly rolling their garboard strakes out of the water. The three great five-masted ships, with the Monarch, Hercules, and the Inconstant, at the same time rode the swells as steadily as seagulls.
At daylight this morning the fleet bore up for the Tagus, and crossed the bar outside at 7 a.m., and soon afterwards entered the Tagus in two grand lines, with the Agincourt leading in the centre, the lines being three cables apart, and the ships in line a cable and a half from each other. Sweeping slowly up to the anchorage off the city thus under the full glow of the morning sun, the spectacle, as the fleet opened round Belem Castle, must have been one of unprecedented beauty and grandeur from the shore. Salutes were exchanged during the run up the channel below the Belem Tower between the Agincourt and the forts on shore in honour of the Portuguese and British national ensigns, and also with an American frigate lying at the river anchorage. About half-past 9 the ships dropped their anchors simultaneously abreast of Alameda, and the most powerful iron-clad fleet in the world lay in quiet and imposing array a short rifle-shot distance from the principal squares and streets of the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal.


The more salient facts so far established by the present cruise are, in my opinion,—
1. That the efficiency of the Channel and Mediterranean Squadrons in steam evolutions — if their performances in that respect under the Admiralty flag represents their true maximum — is not at all commensurate with the cost of their annual practice in the two items alone of coals and wear and tear of machinery.
This may possibly be explained, or rather attempted to be explained, by saying that the two squadrons would manoeuvre better alone, or if only one Admiral was present and in command. Such an excuse would possibly not be accepted by the public if it even settled the question at headquarters. The same laws of obedience and loyalty of service govern commanding officers to an equal extent as the seaman and marine.
2. The dangerously defective action, under certain conditions of wind and sea, or amount of helm given, of the balance-rudder principle.
3. The superiority in sailing to windward of the oldest over the latest produced of our ironclads. This position of affairs may, however, be reversed under the altered conditions of a stiff breeze.
4. The steadiest ironclad ships under steam or sail in the two squadrons are the Agincourt, Minotaur, Northumberland, Hercules, and Monarch. The most unsteady of all are the — 1, Pallas; 2, Royal Oak; 3, Caledonia; 4, Lord Warden; 5, Prince Consort, in the order as numbered. The ship having the greatest inclination under sail is the Inconstant, but this defect, if it is considered one of great moment, can easily be rectified. With regard to the speed under sail alone of this handsome frigate no reliable inferences can be drawn from any comparison with other ships in the two days' trials, nor yet with the "test" vessel, the Cruiser, the latter being now an old craft, possessing no power under sail, and never having possessed any reputation in her palmiest days for speed except of the most moderate character. The only measure that can yet be taken of her speed under sail is in the figures given with the second day’s sailing — in the total distance beat over by her to windward from the time of rounding the Royal Oak and the time she occupied in doing the work. It is the intention of their Lordships to give her a further trial previous to the Channel division of the fleet reaching Queenstown, and for this purpose the Warrior is ordered to lie off Corunna about the 20th inst. The Warrior, however, with her now heavier armament and stores on board, floats about 12 inches (mean) deeper in the water than she did with her original armament, She was never so fast as to approach the present believed speed of the Inconstant, and probabilities are that the latter will sail away from her hand over hand.
5. The undoubted great superiority of the turret over the broadside principle in maintaining a continuous fire in a rolling sea.

The First Lord has signified his intention by signal to the fleet to give a cup to be rowed for by gunroom officers belonging to the ships of the Mediterranean and Channel squadrons, in service boats, in some boat races which it is contemplated to hold on the Tagus, on Wednesday, the 15th inst.
In conclusion of my present letter I wish to state that during this cruise the First Lord is making himself acquainted with numberless important matters connected with the ships, their organization, crews, and armaments, to an extent that 50 years' continuous rule at Whitehall would never have given him, and at the same time gaining his knowledge free from that strong professional prejudice which blights the greater number of opinions tendered by the colleagues of a Civil First Lord, when given within the magic precincts of the four walls of the ancient Board-room.
The condition of the sick on board the Caledonia is improving, her total number on the sick list in the last return having been reduced to 72 from 109 as given previously. The returns of sick in the fleet yesterday was made as follows:-
Agincourt14Prince Consort20
Lord Warden24Pallas14
Royal Oak20Cruiser7

Total sick in the fleet 317, out of 8,077.

Ma 20 September 1869The Squadrons combined under the Admiralty Flag have now completed their Cruise, and our columns have already informed the public of the manoeuvres attempted and the success supposed to have been attained. It is not for landsmen to say whether the evolutions described were intricate or otherwise, or whether more or less might reasonably have been expected in the performances reported; but there is a certain point of vital importance to be explained and considered before any opinion is formed. Our narrative of the Cruise relates how, after the junction of the Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons at Gibraltar, the combined Fleet left the Bay in three lines, composed of four ships each; but what the reader must now understand is that these twelve ships comprised no less than eight distinct classes of vessels, differing in model, construction, tonnage, steampower, and armament. Three of the ironclads — the Agincourt, Minotaur, and Northumberland — were sister ships, well adapted for manoeuvring together; three others — the Royal Oak, Prince Consort, and Caledonia — were also of one pattern; but each vessel of the remaining six represented a class of its own. Some have their hulls of wood, some of iron; some are wholly iron-plated, some partially; while in burden they vary from 6,000 tons to 2,000, and in horsepower from 1,200 to 600. It is obvious that a Fleet so constituted must have considerable difficulty in manoeuvring, and the fact is all the more notable because the French have foreseen this difficulty, and provided against it in their system of shipbuilding. They have no ironclads equal to the best of ours, but their vessels have been built in classes expressly for the purpose of enabling them to manoeuvre together. They could send to sea two or three Squadrons of seven or eight ships each perfectly homogeneous in composition, so that each vessel could do just as much as its neighbour, and no more. We have never adopted this view, or, rather, we have never arrived at the point where its adoption would appear advisable. All our ships have been experimental ships, and we have postponed our selection of a model until we could determine what model to choose. In the vessels now on the stocks there is more uniformity; but the very report before us contains proof sufficient that we have not got a perfect pattern yet.
To this consideration, of itself sufficient to affect the whole question, we must now add others. Manoeuvres require practice, and this Admiralty Cruise is about the first piece of such practice ever attempted. Again, the Signal-book of the Navy, owing, doubtless, to the same want of experience, is so defective that the orders given from the flagships cannot always be understood. Thus, in the first day's exercises, we are told that of five manoeuvres prescribed by signal two were well executed, one could not be comprehended, and two failed altogether. That was not a satisfactory conclusion, and though some improvement was shown a day or two afterwards, the misadventures were still considerable. It seems, indeed, to have been imagined that the performances of the Fleet were not, upon the whole, so good as even the limited practice of the separate Squadrons might have led us to anticipate. A Cruise of a powerful Fleet under the Admiralty Flag is a novelty; but, still, the Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons have each some practice of their own, as the annual bills for coal and machinery sufficiently testify. On the other hand, four out of the twelve ships were newly-commissioned. so that the crews were necessarily less efficient than they would otherwise have been. One more suggestion naturally arises from the descriptions of the report. It has been imagined that the introduction of steampower would render naval tactics of extreme importance in any future engagements, but when on one occasion the ships were ordered to go into action it was found that a few minutes sufficed to envelope the whole Fleet in so dense a cloud of smoke that signals were no longer visible, and all that any vessel could do was to fire as rapidly as possible into the darkness around her.
If we turn from these combined manoeuvres to the performances of single ships, we shall obtain more conclusive information; indeed, on a certain point the report is singularly impressive. The Fleet contained one, and only one, specimen of the turret ship, all the rest being broadside vessels. Now, one day the order was given for target practice, under conditions which our correspondent carefully describes:— "There was only just such a breeze as any vessel might beat up to windward against under her royals, and a moderately long swell rolled in from the westward, such as might be looked for in the finest weather at sea." Nevertheless, this ordinary swell sufficed to render the broadside guns of the Squadron almost useless. The ships rolled so heavily that the firing was utterly wild whenever they got the sea on their beam, and the conclusion is expressed in the following words:— "There can be no manner of doubt that had the Monarch been an enemy, with her turrets and four 25-ton guns in working order, she could have steamed down on the Fleet from her windward position, and have sunk fully one half of the ships before her own fire could have been silenced by her being sunk or blown up in her turn." The simple explanation of this is that the Monarch, though not a genuine specimen of the turret-ship, does carry her guns in turrets or turntables on the upper deck, instead of carrying them in her broadside, and was therefore able to work them without impediment from the swell. A real turret-ship — that is to say, a vessel lying much lower in the water than the Monarch — would have had a still steadier platform for her guns; but then it is impossible to say what disadvantages might not have been found to counterbalance this superiority. It can be laid down with something like certainty that a turret vessel will roll far less, and furnish a far better gun platform, than a broadside vessel, but whether she would be as habitable and as seaworthy is not so clear. It is plain, however, that if the Monarch can work her guns as she was presumed to do, and is in other respects as good a ship as the report represents her, she must combine the recommendations of the two models in no inconsiderable degree.
When the reader sees that the Royal Oak, Prince Consort, and Caledonia outstripped in sailing the best of our ironclads, he should remember that these, in fact, are old sailing vessels — that is to say, old wooden men-of-war converted for a special purpose and emergency. When the system of iron-plating was first introduced Lord Palmerston discerned that something must be done for present security while the new Fleet was in process of construction, and he suggested, therefore, that five ships of the line should be covered with iron plates as expeditiously as possible. The ships abovenamed are three of these vessels, and not only are they still effective, but they have certain good qualities, though steadiness, it appears, is not among them. Yet, as two ships of modern construction proved no less unsteady, the fault is not peculiar to the makeshifts, while as to another incident recorded it is probably due to casualty alone. The Caledonia, in this short cruise, had one-fifth of her crew disabled by sickness, a fact which ought to be explained, and which, of course, will not be left without investigation. For one piece of very desirable information we have still to wait. The Channel Squadron contained a specimen of a ship without any armour at all — the Inconstant frigate, a vessel designed to do her work by the combined agencies of heavy armament and extraordinary speed. As there was no vessel, however, in the Fleet against which she could be fairly tested, no experience of her capabilities has yet been obtained; but it is intended to give her an opportunity of display on the return of the Squadron to Queenstown in the course of this week. Such are the general results of the Experimental Cruise, and, in reviewing them, we involuntarily recall the observation with which the accounts of certain military manoeuvres were recently closed. The Prussian army, we were told, is never allowed to overlook any discovered weakness or imperfection. Its commanders and authorities are incessantly on the watch for any hint of possible improvement suggested either by their own experience or the experience of others, and thus the standard of efficiency is constantly raised. The British Navy could not do better than follow the example.
Tu 21 September 1869



The sailing orders for the fleet are for to-morrow, but it is just possible, so far as can be ascertained at the moment of writing, that, instead of making the start at daylight, as was anticipated on the day of arrival here, it will be evening before the fleet is clear of the Tagus. This will be a much better arrangement than if it were determined to clear the fleet of the Tagus early in the morning; as the work of unmooring ship and getting generally ready for sea wilt be done during daylight, and without keeping the crews needlessly out of their hammocks.
This afternoon His Majesty the King of Portugal paid a visit to the fleet. His Majesty, who wore a naval uniform, and was accompanied by Vice-Admiral the Visconde de Praya Grande, his aides-de-camp, and other officers, embarked from the Arsenal Stairs about 3 p.m., in his state barge, under a salute from the Portuguese ships of war lying in the inner anchorage, the British fleet and American squadron manning yards, and hoisting the Portuguese flag at the main. On reaching the deck of' the Agincourt the King was received by the Lords of the Admiralty, the Hon. Mr, Childers and Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Dacres, in their official uniforms, the Secretary of the British Legation at Lisbon (in the absence of Sir Charles Murray), Vice-Admirals Sir Alexander Milne and Sir T.M. Symonds, and the captains of ships under the Admiralty command. A guard of honour of Royal Marines was drawn up on the ship's quarterdeck, under the command of Captain Mabeans, Royal Marine Light Infantry, and Lieutenants Montgomery and Denney; and all the officers, as in all the other ships of the fleet, wore full dress. On the Royal standard of Portugal being transferred from the state barge to the Agincourt the entire British fleet, with the American and Portuguese ships of war, fired a Royal salute, covering the waters of the Tagus with dense clouds of smoke and bringing out the detonations, a thousand times repeated, from the high lands on either side of the river's bank. Upwards of half an hour was spent in looking over the flagship, after which His Majesty, accompanied by the Lords of the Admiralty, re-embarked in the state barge and went on board the Lord Warden, flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne; the Minotaur, flagship of Sir T.M.C. Symonds; and the Monarch turret-ship, from all receiving the full honours due to Royalty. On board the Monarch the King remained a considerable time, inspecting the turrets and the means of revolving them, by hand and steam power, and the working of the guns. On leaving the Monarch, His Majesty expressed to the Lords of the Admiralty the great pleasure his visit to so large and powerful a fleet had afforded him. On re-embarking in his state barge and leaving the ships, after a visit extending over three hours, the fleet again, manned yards and the Portuguese ships supplemented the honours already rendered to their Sovereign by firing another salute.
The boat races between the gigs of the combined fleet of the Channel and Mediterranean divisions for the Cup given by the First Lord, manned by gunroom officers, and the cutters of the Fleet, manned by seamen, for prizes in money, followed upon the King's departure, and were concluded by sunset. The cup was won by the officers' gig of the Minotaur, the Hercules' gig coming in second, and the Agincourt's third. The Hercules' came in 23 seconds astern of the Minotaur's, and the Agincourt's 28 seconds. It was a well-pulled race throughout, although, perhaps, with some lack of judgment in the pace, necessarily so on the part of crews untrained and not accustomed to row together. The first three boats in for the cutters' prizes were— 1, the Prince Consort's; 2, the Bellerophon's; 3, the Northumberland's.

10 p.m.

The movements of fleets are variable as the wind. It is now understood that the ships will leave the Tagus early in the morning, and, therefore, to insure saving the post, I am compelled to bring this brief letter to a close, rather than trust further to the doctrine of chances. On Tuesday (yesterday) the boats of the fleet were manned and armed, the flotilla numbering 81 in all, and exercised under both sail and oars. Small stores of all kinds were also transferred from the ships of the Channel to those of the Mediterranean division.
The Bellerophon has been transferred to the Mediterranean from the Channel division, and will, therefore, sail under Sir A. Milne's flag for Gibraltar and Malta. The Pallas, relieved by the Bellerophon, goes to England with the Channel ships to be paid out of commission. She, with the Monarch, will part company with the other ships on arriving off Ushant, and both are to proceed thence direct to Spithead.
The Agincourt is expected to proceed to Pembroke with the Lords of the Admiralty from Queenstown. After her arrival at the former port from Ireland, and their lordships have inspected the dockyard and naval establishment there, the Admiralty flag will be hauled down, and the flag of Rear-Admiral Chads hoisted on board, as second in command of the Channel Fleet.
The Hercules will most probably refit, after her duties with the Lords of the Admiralty have been completed, at Queenstown, for service in the Mediterranean.
The foreign ships of war anchored off Lisbon besides the British Fleet are the U.S. sailing frigate Sabine and screw corvette Juanita. The Sabine is an old sailing frigate of the U.S. Navy, and is now cruising as a training ship for second class naval cadets, under the command of Captain Walker, who sails under a kind of roving commission. She is of 1,756 tons, and is armed with 24 9in. Dahlgren guns on her main deck, with ten 32-pounder guns, and two 200-pounder Parrott rifles on the upper deck. The Juanita is a screw corvette of 1,200 tons, well masted, and is just out from the States, after a rather quick passage under sail. She is manned with 240 officers and men, and is armed with one Dahlgren 11in. pivot gun, seven 9in. Dahlgrens on the broadside, and one Parrott 60-pounder rifle as a pivot. Both are wooden built unarmoured vessels.
A large number of people from the shore have visited the fleet during its brief stay here, and have been received on board all the ships with the greatest courtesy.
Ma 27 September 1869



One of the latest official acts of a Vice-Admiral commanding a division of the combined Fleet previous to its sailing from Lisbon was on the occasion of the King's visit to the Fleet, when the gallant officer, who must have been in a chronic state of "protest" signalled to the Agincourt, "I think it unsafe to man the upper yards!" Of course, the upper yards were manned with all the others, but what could have induced a British Vice-Admiral to hoist such a signal with ships lying at anchor in perfectly smooth water must for ever remain a mystery which no one can ever possibly understand.
In pleasing contradistinction to this were the last official acts of the Lords of the Admiralty themselves previous to the Fleet leaving Lisbon, in a visit paid by them, during the time the Fleet were preparing to weigh their anchors, to the Royal British Naval Hospital on shore. Their Lordships, accompanied by Surgeon E.O. O'Brien, of the Agincourt, and Flag-Lieutenant the Hon. E.S. Dawson, left their flagship at 7 o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 16th inst., for the hospital, where they spent nearly a couple of hours in its inspection, and on leaving expressed their perfect satisfaction with the existing arrangements. The hospital consists of a couple of large houses thrown into one, with a spacious garden extending from the back of the building towards the banks of the Tagus, and commanding extensive views — on the one side of the seacoast as far as Cape Roca, and of the Cintra mountains and intervening country, with the northern suburbs of Lisbon. On the other side, the view extends over the city of Lisbon and the Tagus, with the curious cone-shaped hills on its southern bank, crowded with the ruins of Moorish fortifications, and its scattered villages. The hospital was founded some years ago by the British Admiralty purchasing the property on the recommendation of Sir Sydney Dacres. At the time of their Lordships' visit there were only two patients in the hospital, but when the British fleet is wintering in Lisbon harbour there are often as many as 50 patients. The establishment appears to be very economically conducted, the entire permanent staff consisting only of one naval assistant-surgeon, one storekeeper and clerk, one cook, and a labourer. When sick seamen are sent to the hospital from one of Her Majesty’s ships seamen nurses are also sent with them. Sixty beds are altogether ordinarily available.
Immediately after their Lordships' return from their visit to the hospital signal was made to "weigh," and about half-past 10 the Agincourt was leading the Fleet out from the Tagus in two grand columns at slow speed past the King's Summer Palace at Belem, on the central verandah of which the King stood waving his farewell to the Fleet. The guns of the Admiralty flagship gave a Royal salute of 21 guns, the Castle of Belem returned the compliment, and the ships then formed in single line and increased the speed of their engines to cross the "bar" outside the Bugio fort and between the Cachopo shoals. After getting well outside the bar the Fleet was formed in three columns of divisions, and steered on a north-westerly course. The black boulder-strewn mountains of Cintra stretching inland from Cape Roca were soon brought on the starboard beam, and as the Cape was closed upon by the ships a fresh breeze met them, with a head-sea of sufficient strength thoroughly to wash the dust of Lisbon from off their bows. Sail was then made, and steam only used for the night sufficient to prevent their dropping over to leeward. A marine invalid, sent on board the Pallas from the Royal Oak for passage to England, died during the day, and that most solemn of all religious services, a burial at sea, was performed in the evening.
The wind and sea both fell during the night, and the next morning bringing back a return of the old brilliantly fine weather, a light wind, and a smooth sea, advantage was taken of the opportunity for a last day's grand drill in steam evolutions by the Fleet, it having been decided that the Mediterranean division should part company in the evening, and return to its station, the Cruiser at the same time being detached from the Fleet, and ordered to make the best of her way to the Rock of Gibraltar, in advance of Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne's squadron. The signal "Prepare for action," preceding the steam evolutions, having been given, all the ships struck topgallant masts and upper yards, and ran in their jib-booms and bowsprits in readiness to "ram," as opportunities offered during the engagement, and then beat to general quarters. In getting in the jibboom on board this ship an accident occurred to one of the boatswain's mates, which in the most favourable form of anticipated results will most probably cripple the man for the remainder of his life. He was standing on the heel of the bowsprit, directing some work going on aloft, when the boom came in along the bowsprit with a sudden surge and jammed the man's feet between its heel and the roller on the heel of the bowsprit. The right foot acted as a buffer to the left, and consequently sustained the greater injury. The main bones were not broken, but the ankle-joint was forced open, and all the ligaments were divided. No examination of the small bones of the foot could be made, owing to the nature of the injury.
The steam evolutions were commenced about 10 a.m., and lasted, with one hour's interval, until 5 p.m., and comprised:—
Column in line on port beam of leader.
Course altered together eight points to starboard.
Course altered together to E.N.E.
Course altered together to N.N.E.
Single column in line abreast.
Columns of divisions in line ahead.
Single column in line ahead.
Columns of divisions in line abreast.
Columns in quarter-line on starboard wing ship.
Columns in line abreast, changing to subdivisions.
Single column in line abreast.
Columns of subdivisions inline ahead.
Columns in quarter-line, four points abaft starboard beam of leaders.
The last formation made was three columns of divisions inline ahead. This brought the Mediterranean ships — Lord Warden, Prince Consort, Caledonia, Royal Oak, Bellerophon, and Enterprise in one line in the centre, and signal was now made to part company, the Agincourt making "Farewell. The pleasure of your company with this squadron has been great." The Lord Warden, in reply, signalled, "Admiral returns thanks in name of the Mediterranean Squadron, and wishes you a pleasant passage." The guns of the Lord Warden then fired a salute of 19 guns to the Admiralty flag at the main of the Agincourt, which was returned by the Admiralty flagship with 15, and the Mediterranean division, led by Sir Alexander Milne's flagship, steamed out from its position between the starboard and port columns, each ship as she got out ahead of the Agincourt porting her helm and reversing her course round the latter ship's bows. It was a very stately and effective mode of departure, and, as a steam evolution simply, was the best executed of all by the Mediterranean ships since they had formed a division in the fleet. A few hours more and the Channel and Mediterranean squadrons were each out of sight of the other as the one steered north and the other south. The sea which was, as already stated, unusually smooth at the commencement of the evolutionary drills, got up a long westerly swell as the day wore on, which more or less affected all the ships, and developed their rolling propensities in good style. The maximum heel of each ship was signalled just previous to the departure of the Mediterranean squadron, but in many cases the figure given was so absurd that the return became more than valueless — it was mischievous. For instance, while the Minotaur, as one of the steadiest ships in the fleet, signalled correctly that she rolled 20 deg., another ship, which rolled considerably more than she had done, signalled her maximum amount of heel as 3 deg.! The Monarch turret-ship rolled much less than any other ship in the fleet. In fact, from 3 deg. to 4 deg. each way in the heaviest beam swell she caught was about the most she would roll, and in this way she again showed her great superiority as a gun-platform over the broadside ships.
During the time the evolutions were going on, after the westerly swell set in, the Agincourt, Minotaur, and Northumberland rolled very evenly together at eight rolls per minute, the Bellerophon, Royal Oak, Caledonia, Prince Consort, Pallas, and Lord Warden rolling much deeper and quicker. The Inconstant, next to the Monarch, was the steadiest ship in the fleet, and the Hercules took rank with the three five-masted ships. The swell, however, was towards the close of the afternoon very uneven in its character, and some very extraordinary effects were produced. The Bellerophon, as an instance, at times rolled much more than even the Royal Oak or the Pallas; and the Agincourt. immediately after the Mediterranean ships had parted company, suddenly fell into such unsteady ways as to roll 22 deg. to port and 20 deg. to starboard in a series of continuous swings, taking in the water liberally through her main deck and stern gunports, and doing this at a time when the Minotaur and Northumberland, at some five or six cables' distance on her weather beam, were lying comparatively motionless. Such uneasy motions of the sea could only be due to some gale past or to come, or, as presaging a change of wind. It proved to be the latter, for during the succeeding night the light wind veered gradually round to the south-west, and in the first watch on Saturday morning all plain sail was made, and the ships were steering with a fair wind for the appointed rendezvous, to meet the Helicon, with mails from England, 20 miles west of Cape Finisterre. It had been arranged that the Warrior should meet the fleet off Corunna, in order to give the Inconstant a trial of sailing with her, but it had now became known that the fine old frigate would be unable to join the squadron until its arrival at Pembroke from Queenstown, owing to some delay in docking her at Portsmouth. At noon on Friday the ships were 220 miles distant from the rendezvous, and on Saturday at noon 100 miles. Saturday on board the several ships was, as usual, a general cleaning-up day, and nothing of special interest occurred as the ships held their course for the rendezvous before the south-westerly breeze. During the night rain fell heavily, and the wind falling very light early the next morning, Sunday, the screws were set going. At 9 o’clock in the forenoon the rendezvous was reached, Cape Finisterre with its light-tower looming above the morning haze on the starboard beam, and a sharp look-out was kept for the smart little Helicon, which soon afterwards hove in sight and delivered her despatches and mails on board the Agincourt by 1 p.m. She brought news of rough weather in the English Channel, and had up to that morning been steaming against a strong south-westerly wind.
It had been arranged that morning that on the following day (Monday) the ships should run into Corunna Bay and anchor there for the day, to give an opportunity for a visit being paid to the Spanish Dockyard and Arsenal at Ferrol; but this intention was balked in its execution by a sudden change in the weather, which led up to as pretty a gale, although a brief one, as any one might wish to see on the skirts of the Bay of Biscay. The barometer, which at noon was at 30·09, fell rapidly during the afternoon, and as it fell the wind and sea rose, a lurid blackness gathered on the horizon, and it soon became evident that rough work was at hand. The intention to go into Corunna was at once, under these new conditions, given up, and signal made to steer a north-easterly course, with directions to the Pallas to make the best of her way to Plymouth Sound. The wind grew into a gale during the night, and at daylight the next morning the scene was grand as the ships scudded along under close-reefed topsails and fore courses, with the wind lashing the sea into great ridges of broken water, the crests of which were blown away in gray masses furiously to leeward. At 11 a.m. the barometer was down to 29·27, the wind blowing excessively hard, and especially so in the squalls. It was impossible to see exactly what other ships than this were doing, but the Monarch, Hercules, and Inconstant appeared to be steering very wildly. All had quite enough to do. The Agincourt had 50 men employed in steering her, 14 at the wheel and the remainder at the relieving tackles, and even then at times she was almost unmanageable, taking charge of her wheel once and throwing one of the men up against the beams under the poop, and cutting a gash in his forehead of some inches in length, but fortunately without any material injury to the bone. The straps of the relieving tackle were carried away three times, and one bolt was drawn during the fore part of the day, the ship’s ordinary measure of rolling being about 22 deg. each way. At 10 30 a.m. she took a sea aboard that burst open the garboard strakes of the first cutter hanging at the davits on her starboard quarter, and then, swinging through an arc of quite 50 deg., sent everything movable, on or between decks, flying. Men were on their backs in a moment and sliding away at a great pace for the lee scuppers. In the officers’ cabins the furniture and fittings, not thoroughly secured, were shot out of their places and dashed against each other to their common destruction. In the wardroom mess the chairs flew wildly from side to side, the long table broke loose from its deck fastenings and doubled up in a broken arch amid the general wreck, and the few officers off duty and in the room at the time had to cling with all their strength to the iron columns supporting the deck above, and kick out furiously at the passing chairs to prevent their own legs being broken by them. The wind about this time backed the ship off from her course five points, split her foretopmast staysail, and, coming out at N.N.W., jammed the ships over to a leeward position in the bay. About 1 p.m. the mizen topsail was taken in, and the ship became afterwards a little more manageable than she had been during the preceding part of the day. The Helicon, in obedience to signal, parted company with the flagship and steamed away at her best against the gale for Queenstown, with orders to look out for the fleet, on the weather moderating after her arrival at Queenstown, with the Enchantress, 30 miles south of Cape Clear. During the after part of the day the wind lost a good deal of the violence it had exhibited in squalls during the previous part of the gale, and about 4 p.m. the clouds overhead opened for a couple of minutes, enabling the navigating officers to take observations and fix the exact positions of the ships. With the wind northing the barometer rose again, and at 9 p.m. it had reached the point it originally fell from when first indicating the gale — 30·09. This ship, with the Minotaur and Northumberland, kept well together, but at sunset the Monarch was only just distinguishable astern of them, and the Hercules, with the Inconstant, was altogether out of sight.
Dinner was a great difficulty, no doubt, on board all the ships in the evening, for although the wind gave indications of blowing itself rapidly out, now that it had got to the northward, there was a heavy broken sea running, in which the ships were rolling deeply. Here, in the wardroom mess, the dislocated table was brought into joint again, ballasted with "puddings" 20 feet long, and a many-stringed "fiddle," and dinner was eventually managed, notwithstanding the violent plunges and rollings of the great ship. Numbers of the men, during the time the gale had already lasted, had suddenly found themselves thrown on their beam ends on the deck, but all had escaped with slight bruises except in the instance of the man referred to at the wheel, and that of a marine who met with a most extraordinary bit of experience. A capstan bar got adrift from its place between the maindeck beams, and, striking the marine with great force on the back of his head, actually broke itself into two pieces. One of those next struck an arm rack, smashed it up and liberated the arms, a cutlass sent adrift sticking its point into the marine's foot before he could comprehend what was the matter with his head. On being examined by the surgeon it was found that his skull was not broken, and that a piece of ordinary sticking plaster was all that would be required for its cure! His foot will take a little longer to heal.
The wind blew heavily from N.N.W. and N. all the next night, and the ships rolled very much, the Agincourt washing away her port life-buoy. On Tuesday morning the wind had moderated further, and down to a steady breeze from W.N.W., with the sea rapidly smoothing down, and the ships began to unfold their wings again (the Monarch had re-taken her station in the weather division), and under increased sail, with their screws moving at slow speeds, worked up to windward again for Cape Clear from their leeward position in the bay. In answer to signals from the Agincourt, the Monarch and Minotaur replied that they had sustained no injury from the gale, but the Northumberland's answer, unfortunately, was very different. Two of her seamen had been lost overboard. She had also sustained some damage to boats and boats' davits, but such matters become insignificant before the fact of the loss of life. The Hercules rejoined the fleet soon after noon on Tuesday, completely crippled aloft by the gale. She had sprung her foretopmast head, split fore and aft trysails, sprung main gaff, carried away spanker gaff and mainstay, and washed away the hand lead platform and stem hawse-pipe plugs. In answer to signal she replied that during the gale the fore part of her rudder was "locked," but that it was found impossible to steer the ship under the easy sail required to keep station. (The Hercules, Inconstant, and Monarch are all fitted with rudders on the balance principle, but the Hercules' rudder is jointed near the pivot, and with the fore part locked it assumes the action of an ordinary rudder. The rudders of the Monarch and Inconstant, on the contrary, are not jointed.) At noon on Tuesday the position of the Agincourt and ships in company was lat. 46 5 N., long. 7 18 W. The weather continued fine, and the sea smoothed down to a perfect calm, the wind veering out to S.W. again, and giving the ships a free course. As no signs of the Inconstant were yet visible the ships spread out over a line from E. to W., about 18 miles in length, to look out for her, and stand in for sighting Ushant, at noon making lat. 47 25 N., and long. 6 29 W. At sunset sail was shortened to topsails for the night, but at daylight the next morning, Thursday, sail was again made to royals, and as there was still a fair and moderate whole-sail breeze, the engines were stopped, and the ships held on under canvas alone. At 8 a.m. Ushant bore E. ¾ S., distant 22 miles, and, as no Inconstant was yet in sight, the Hercules was detached from the other ships with instructions to cruise off the Cape until 4 p.m. the next day, Friday, if not falling in with the missing frigate before, and then follow on to Cape Clear and Queenstown. The Agincourt, Minotaur, Northumberland, and Monarch, from Ushant, took a course for the rendezvous off Cape Clear, under all plain sail to topgallant sails, with a steady and fair wind. At 5 p.m. a thick fog set in and continued through the night and until 5 p.m. to-day, when the fleet had reached its rendezvous, 80 miles south of Cape Clear. The fog now suddenly lifting disclosed the Helicon again true to her trust, close aboard the Agincourt.

6 p.m.

The Helicon leaves the fleet again at once for Queenstown, and I have therefore barely time to close this letter and send it by her.
The Inconstant has not yet been seen, but no fears are entertained for her safety. She was last seen by the Monarch at 5 p.m. on Monday last, the day of the gale, and she was then running under her foretopsail to leeward. The conclusion I arrive at, although, of course, all the time she may be close to us somewhere in the thick fog, is that she met with some damage to her backstays or spars during the gale, and bore up for Corunna to make all secure.
We lay off here until daylight on Monday, when we go into Queenstown, and the Lords open the new dock.
Tu 28 September 1869Another letter from our Correspondent with the Admiralty Squadron brings the history of the cruise almost to its termination. The Mediterranean and Channel Fleets parted company on the 16th inst. after some final evolutions, and the work of the ships would have been pretty well ended but for the incidents of the gale, which caught the Channel Squadron in the skirts of the Bay of Biscay. From the report of the results which we yesterday published one conclusion, at any rate, may be drawn, and that is that broadside Ironclads are good, seaworthy ships. These vessels weathered the storm as well as any old two-deckers could have done, and, indeed, the only ship of which there was no account at the time is the unarmoured frigate, though it now appears that she was disabled in the gale by damage to her tiller, and has been sent to Pembroke to refit. Of the rest, three, including the turret ship, had suffered no injury from the tempest, but the Hercules had been crippled "aloft," and the Northumberland, unfortunately, had lost two men overboard. Some difficulty in steering appears to have been experienced by the ships which were fitted with "balanced" rudders, and inquiries, no doubt, will be directed to the fact.
We observed in some recent remarks on this subject that one of the most important questions of naval architecture and armament would receive but little illustration from this experimental cruise. It seems impossible with our present information to come to any decisive conclusion respecting the relative advantages or disadvantages of broadside and turret vessels, and yet there is no question with more momentous bearings on our future policy. Each of these models has its recommendations, and each its drawbacks, as late examples have sufficiently shown. The only ship in the combined Fleets partaking of the turret character was the Monarch, and she was by no means a turret ship of the genuine stamp. Perhaps we may as well explain that a turret ship, as originally invented and designed, was a submerged vessel - a vessel, in fact, without any visible broadside whatever. Necessarily such a craft would be almost impregnable, as offering no mark for an enemy's shot, but she would also be without any power of offence, as having no ports for guns. It was then that the turret was devised to obviate this deficiency, and in this iron tower, which was made to revolve by machinery, the guns were mounted. Of course, the turret itself was exposed to shot, but it was made of great strength, and competent to resist any ordnance known at the time. By this ingenious combination of offensive and defensive capacities, a very powerful fighting ship was, beyond doubt, produced, and to this day it must be conceded that for the mere purposes of action a turret vessel is the best model. But these strange ships proved to be scarcely habitable and seldom seaworthy; they had little speed, and they seemed, after all, little better than floating batteries. Many improvements have since been introduced, but our readers probably saw last week that the crew of one of Her Majesty’s ships - the Scorpion - had presented a respectful remonstrance against going to sea in her. Now, this Scorpion is a real turret vessel. She is one of the two steam Rams built in the Mersey for the Confederate States, and ultimately purchased for the Royal Navy. If she had been sent to sea with the Channel Squadron, we should have had some authentic, but perhaps unpleasant, evidence of the behaviour of such vessels in a storm, whereas at present we are left to draw our conclusions from the imperfect example of the Monarch. The Monarch did well. She rode out the gale with perfect safety, and it was found that in rough weather she was by far the steadiest vessel it the whole Fleet. Here, therefore, we have on one hand a ship constructed partially on the turret model and showing excellent qualities, and on the other a genuine turret ship regarded as so plainly unseaworthy that a protest is lodged against her leaving harbour.
The reader will have remarked the pains taken in ascertaining, not quite successfully, the "rolling" of the several vessels in the Fleet, and these observations were, in fact, directed towards the very question involved in the controversy abovementioned. A man-of-war is in one sense simply a floating gun-carriage. It is true the carriage in this case has to carry not only the gun, but the gunners; and not only to float, but to swim well and rapidly. Nevertheless it is of the last importance that the guns should be so carried as to be available for use with the fewest possible drawbacks; and when a vessel "rolls" beyond a certain extent her guns are for the moment of no use at all. No aim can be taken at any distant object, and even if the guns can be loaded and fired, which is not always the case, the firing would be so wild as to be utterly harmless. Now, a real turret ship hardly rolls at all, while a ship with broadside guns and a high freeboard can hardly do otherwise. The Monarch does show a broadside, though a low one, and on that account she rolled less than any vessel in the Squadron. Very possibly the Scorpion might have rolled even less than the Monarch, but if she is not fit to cross the Atlantic she might have fared ill the other day in the Bay of Biscay, and so we become entangled in the question of balance between merits and demerits. On one side there is a fighting ship which, if she will but lodge her crew and swim, will beat any other, and in rough weather any dozen others; on the other we have a ship which will certainly swim and keep the sea admirably, but which may be as helpless as a Thames steamer for fighting purposes in the first gale of wind.
We are disposed to think, upon the whole, that the chief lesson to be drawn from the cruise is the superiority of the Monarch pattern to any other represented in the Squadron. In most ordinary qualities she was as good as any other ship; in steadiness she was far better. It will not have been forgotten that on one occasion she was described as the only effective vessel in the entire Fleet, and that under circumstances by no means exceptional or improbable. A very moderate swell in fine weather sufficed to set the broadside vessels rolling so heavily that not one of them could have fought her guns, while the Monarch sat steadily on the water, and could, it is said, have steamed up at her pleasure and sent half the Squadron to the bottom. This enormous superiority, being unqualified, as far as we are informed, by any material disadvantage, would appear almost to settle the question between her type and that of the Bellerophon or Agincourt; but then another question succeeds. Suppose a vessel with a still lower freeboard - that is to say, still more submerged than the Monarch - could be made equally seaworthy, might not she, in a still heavier gale, have just the same advantage over the Monarch that the Monarch had over the rest of this Admiralty Fleet? She owed her superiority entirely to the element or principle of the turret introduced into her construction; what if that principle could be introduced further, and with as much success? If the experiment were attempted, what should we obtain? Should we get an improved Monarch, fit to knock all our broadsides to pieces, and even the Monarch herself; or should we get another Scorpion, very powerful for offensive purposes, but unfit to go to sea at all? That, in a few words, as illustrated by actual examples, is the great question now before the Admiralty and the country, and we have directed attention to it especially because there is really no other question in naval matters on which so much depends.
Ma 4 October 1869


H.M.S. AGINCOURT, QUEENSTOWN, Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The arrival of the Fleet here on Monday, with the presence of the turret-ship Scorpion, Captain G.A.C. Brooker, in the inner harbour, gave the Admiralty Lords an opportunity for placing matters in a definite footing relative to the future proceedings of that vessel, of which they availed them selves immediately upon the Agincourt taking up her present moorings. The First Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Sir Sydney Dacres, with Commodore G.O. Willes, Captain of the Fleet, and Captain Hugh T. Burgoyne, V.C., Admiralty Flag Captain, went on board the Scorpion on Monday afternoon, and after having thoroughly inspected her and made their report an order was issued for the Scorpion to prepare to sail for Bermuda, convoyed by the paddle steam frigate Terrible, on the first favourable opportunity after the return of the latter vessel to Queenstown from Devonport.
The same afternoon their lordships landed on Haulbowline Island, and inspected there the Naval Hospital, to which the sick from the several ships had been removed, the various naval stores on the island, and the site for the new dock, the "foundation stone" of which was laid to-day by his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant. In the evening their lordships entertained at dinner on board their flagship Vice-Admiral Sir T.C. Symonds, K.C.B., commanding the Channel Squadron; Rear-Admiral F. Warden, C.B., commanding the Queenstown Naval Station, and officers commanding Her Majesty's ships, &c.
His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant and the Countess Spencer, accompanied by their suite, passed through Cork between 2 and 3 p.m., on their way to Foto, the seat of Mr. Smith-Barry, near Queenstown, where his Excellency had accepted the invitation of Mr. Barry to stay during the festivities in Cork and Queenstown consequent upon the inauguration of the Admiralty docks at Haulbowline. At the Cork railway station Lord Fermoy introduced Earl Spencer to the Deputy Lieutenants of the county and the municipal authorities of the city of Cork, the latter presenting an address, to which Earl Spencer returned a very judiciously-phrased reply.
The weather on the day of the ships entry into Queenstown Harbour was so extraordinarily fine for the end of September as even to astonish the residents of Queenstown and Cork. When the morning's usual fog had cleared from off the water and the valleys between the adjacent high lands, the sun came out brilliantly, and scarcely a breath of wind or ripple upon the water was perceptible to dispel the pleasant illusion available to all of the existence of a magnificent midsummer morning. The next daybreak was a very different affair. Rain fell heavily the greater part of the night, and in the morning a strong gale, south westerly, of wind and rain was raging, and isolating, in all reasonable sense, the fleet from the shore. In the very height of the storm, however, a deputation from the Queenstown municipal authorities, consisting of Mr. Daniel Cahill, chairman of the Town Commissioners, and other gentlemen, arrived on board the Agincourt, and were introduced by Captain B.F. Seymour to the First Lord and Sir Sydney Dacres, to whom Mr. Cahill, on behalf of the residents of Queenstown, presented the following address:—
“To the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
"My Lords,— We, the Town Commissioners of Queenstown, hail with sentiments of the liveliest satisfaction your lordships' visit to our port.
"The presence of Her Majesty’s fleet would at any time afford us much gratification, but the object of your lordships' presence in our harbour on this occasion — the inauguration of the Government docks — is to us a source of pride and pleasure; and we trust that this Imperial work may be shortly available for the repairs and equipment of Her Majesty's ships, whether disabled by the casualties of war or from any other cause.
"To this end we would respectfully urge on your lordships the expediency of employing more free labour, and thus expediting the completion of a work which has been so anxiously looked forward to, not only by the inhabitants of this locality but by the entire Irish people.
"Signed on behalf of the Commissioners,
"Daniel Cahill, Chairman.
"James Ahern, Secretary."
The several members of the deputation were invited by Mr. Childers to add any observation they wished to make on the subject referred to in the address. They impressed upon the Lords the expectation which had been held out ever since the time of the Union that a Royal dock would be constructed in Cork Harbour, which, they observed, from its peculiar advantages, ought to be a more important naval station than it now is; and expressed a hope that, considering the time which had elapsed since it was decided to construct a Royal dock here, the views then expressed and put forward as to giving employment to the people and spending money in Ireland, more rapid progress would be made with the works than had hitherto been. Mr. Childers, speaking as First Lord of the Admiralty, replied, and in the course of his observations said it was the interest of the Admiralty as well as that of the people of Queenstown to have the dock completed as soon as possible for the use of the navy. They should, however, consider at the same time the amount which should be expended, not only here, but upon public works generally in the kingdom. He found, on reference to the Estimates, that the present expenditure in a year upon the works in Cork Harbour represented about two-fifteenths of the whole sum originally estimated for the dock. That was about the same proportionate rate of expenditure as was going on at Chatham, and was even greater than the proportion now being expended on the works at Portsmouth. In justifying the Estimates to the House of Commons, he had to have regard to that consideration and many others. Further, that it was necessary in all public works not to use undue haste, and he should have to take the professional advice of Colonel Clarke before holding out any expectations that greater progress could be made consistently with the proper execution of the engineering operations. Mr. Seymour said the inhabitants of Queenstown had laid out a great deal of money in the expectation that the Royal docks would be completed at an early date. Mr. Childers said nothing had struck him more when arriving here the other day than the marked improvement which he noticed in everything connected with Queenstown. He remembered it a comparatively ill-built, badly-lighted, badly-drained, and insignificant town, whereas it was now as well-conditioned and as handsome as any town on the coast of England. His Lordship concluded by assuring the deputation that their representations should receive consideration. The deputation then returned to Queenstown.
In consequence of the severity of the weather the Lords of the Admiralty deferred their visit to the Queenstown Royal Sailors' Home.
In the evening his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant and the Lords of the Admiralty were entertained at a grand banquet, given by the Corporation Harbour Commissioners and citizens of Cork, at the Imperial Hotel, Cork. Covers were laid for 250 guests, and the entire affair was a splendid success.

Thursday Morning.

The Agincourt leaves the inner harbour at 10 a.m., and joins the Channel Squadron in the outer roads, from which all sail for Pembroke about 5 p.m. In unmooring this ship this morning the capstan overpowered the men at the bars; and three of the men were severely hurt on their heads and arms. One has been sent to the hospital at Haulbowline with his arm broken and a severe gash in his head. The others remain on board under the charge of Dr. O’Brien.

H.M.S. Agincourt, PEMBROKE, Friday, Oct. 1.

Yesterday morning about 10 o’clock the Agincourt cast loose from her moorings in the inner anchorage at Queenstown, and steamed out to the man-of-war anchorage in the outer roads, where she dropped her anchor outside the rest of the ships preparatory to sailing for Pembroke in the evening.
At 7 p.m. yesterday the ships had weighed their anchors and were steaming out from Queenstown roads for the Channel and Pembroke. On getting clear of the land the Monarch was detached from the Squadron and ordered to proceed on direct to Portsmouth at five-knot speed. The Agincourt, with the Enchantress in company, also left the Squadron and started on ahead for Pembroke at eight-knot speed. The Minotaur, Northumberland, and Hercules, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Symonds, K.C.B., followed at economical rate of steaming to arrive at Pembroke this afternoon. Colonel Clarke, R.E., Admiralty Director of Works, who had joined their Lordships officially on the previous day on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the new docks at Haulbowline Island, accompanied their Lordships in the Agincourt.
The Indian troop relief screw transport Serapis, Captain J. Soady, left Queenstown at the same time as the Squadron, bound to Alexandria with troops on board for India.
The Agincourt and the Enchantress passed through the entrance into Milford Haven this morning about half-past 7, and soon afterwards brought up off the dockyard here. The Minotaur, Northumberland, and Hercules arrived during the afternoon, as had been arranged. On the arrival of the Agincourt in the harbour, their Lordships were joined on board by Rear-Admiral Sir R.S. Robinson, K.C.B., Controller of the Navy, and the afternoon was devoted to an official inspection of the dockyard and other naval establishments, the ships building, and the works in hand in Colonel Clarke's department, in the evening their Lordships gave their official dinner on board the Agincourt to flag officers and captains.
The Admiralty ensign was hauled down from the main of the Agincourt, where it had done 39 days' duty, at sunset and transferred to the Enchantress, thus bringing the cruise of the Lords of the Admiralty with the Mediterranean and Channel Fleets for 1869 to an end.
The First Lord, with Admiral Robinson, Captain F.B. Seymour, C.B., Private Secretary, and Mr. R. Munday, Admiralty Secretary, leave here to- morrow in the Enchantress for Devonport, where the usual annual inspection will be made of the dockyard there. Sir Sidney Dacres and Commander Willes return to London from here to-morrow. Flag-Lieutenant Hon. E. S. Dawson returns from Pembroke to his duties at Queenstown as Flag-Lieutenant to Rear-Admiral Warden, but will most probably very shortly receive his promotion to Commander's rank. Mr. R. Munday, who has been Acting Secretary to the Admiralty during the cruise, will, on the 23d inst., be appointed Secretary to Admiral Codrington on the appointment of that officer to the Naval Command-in-Chief at Devonport.
Rear-Admiral Chads visited the Agincourt to-day, and to-morrow morning will hoist his flag on board as second in command of the Channel Fleet.
The ships are ordered to fill up with coal and other requisite stores, and will sail about the 10th inst. on a cruise, possibly to Madeira and back, the present intentions of the Admiralty being understood to be that the Fleet shall be in England at Christmas, and the men paid up their wages at the commencement of the New Year in a home port, so that the money paid may have a better chance of reaching the men's wives and families than it would if paid in a foreign port.
The coals burnt during the entire cruise, except one day's consumption by the combined fleet, after leaving Lisbon, and one day's return from the Monarch, will be found in the subjoined returns:—
Plymouth to Gibraltar.— Agincourt, 177 tons 12 cwt.; Monarch, 138 tons 5 cwt.; Hercules, 99 tons 16 cwt.; Inconstant, 89 tons 15 cwt.; Minotaur, 188 tons 16 cwt.; Northumberland, 180 tons 6 cwt.; Bellerophon, 123 tons 19 cwt.; total, 993 tons 9 cwt.
Gibraltar to Lisbon.— Agincourt, 142 tons 11 cwt.; Monarch, 156 tons; Hercules, 84 tons 13 cwt.; Inconstant, 66 tons; Lord Warden, 115 tons 12 cwt.; Royal Oak, 123 tons 11 cwt.; Caledonia, 130 tons 14 cwt.; Prince Consort, 137 tons 14 cwt.; Minotaur, 167 tons 12 cwt.; Northumberland, 158 tons; Bellerophon, 111 tons 18 cwt.; Pallas, 86 tons 15 cwt.; Enterprise, 40 tons; total, 1,521 tons.
Lisbon to Queenstown.— Agincourt, 225 tons 16 cwt.; Minotaur, 248 tons 16 cwt.; Northumberland, 241 tons 4 cwt.; Monarch, 204 tons; Hercules, 113 tons; total, 1,032 tons 16 cwt.
Total Coals Burnt.— Plymouth to Gibraltar, 998 tons 9 cwt.; Gibraltar to Lisbon, 1,521 tons; Lisbon to Queenstown, 1,032 tons 16 cwt.; total, 3,552 tons 5 cwt.
I cannot close this, my last, letter from the Agincourt without expressing my best thanks to Captain Burgoyne and all his officers, and especially my messmates in the ward-room, for the great kindness and courtesy I have received at their hands during the cruise. On any future occasion of the kind in which I may be engaged I can only hope that I may meet with as thorough a set of gentlemen as it has been my good fortune to have met on the present occasion on board the Agincourt.
Ma 8 August 1870The Portsmouth and Plymouth divisions of the Channel Fleet met in the Channel off Plymouth at 3 p.m. on Friday. The ships formed in two columns and proceeded at 4 p.m. for Gibraltar in the following order:— Starboard division, Minotaur, Northumberland, Inconstant, and Warrior; port division, Hercules, Agincourt, and Captain.
The Monarch, 6, turret frigate, Capt. John Commerell, V.C., C.B., sailed from Spithead on Saturday evening to join the Channel Squadron at its rendezvous to the westward. The Monarch steamed out south-east from Spithead to try the working of the hydraulic buffers fitted to the gun slide for taking up the recoil of her 25-ton guns. Six rounds were fired from each gun, two being service charges with shot and four battering charges. The absorption of the recoil by the buffers was less than had been anticipated, which was attributed to the size of the holes in the pistons, which will have to be altered on the first opportunity that may offer by the return of the ship into port. The elevating gear of two of the guns was found after the firing to be broken, and although an artificer, on behalf of Captain Scott, has proceeded to sea in the ship, it is considered doubtful whether the gear can he put in working order on board the ship. After the trial the Monarch returned to Spithead to receive on board a quantity of shell from the gunwharf at Portsmouth, ordered by telegram for conveyance to the Agincourt and Northumberland, owing to there having been no projectiles of that description in store at Devonport when those ships left there.
Fr 2 September 1870Our Malta correspondent, writes under date of Valetta, August 26:—
"By the arrival of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's packet Nyanza on the 21st inst, intelligence has been received of the Mediterranean Squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., to the 17th inst. The squadron, consisting of the Lord Warden, Caledonia, Royal Oak, Prince Consort, Bellerophon, and Columbine, arrived at Gibraltar on the 12th inst., and completed with coal on the same day. The Lord Warden and Caledonia, being finished coaling, put off from the Mole and moored in the inner anchorage. On coming to an anchor off the New Mole a slight collision occurred between the Prince Consort and Bellerophon. The former touched the quarter of the latter, caring away the quarter davits of the Bellerophon and snapping off her own jibboom. Early on the morning of Monday, the 15th inst., the Channel squadron was sighted from the Gibraltar signal-staff, and soon afterwards made its appearances coming round the point under sail; then furling sails it steamed into the anchorage off the New Mole. The squadron consisted of the Minotaur, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Hastings Yelverton, K.C.B.; Agincourt, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Henry Chads; Northumberland, Monarch, Hercules, Inconstant, Captain, and Warrior. By noon on the 17th all the ships had completed coaling, and were ready for sea. The combined Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons, under the supreme command of Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, were expected to put to sea on the 19th for the long talked-of cruise. There were at Gibraltar besides the above-mentioned ships, the Bristol, training vessel, Captain T.W. Wilson; the Trinculo and Porcupine Staff Captain Calver. The latter vessel proceeded into the Mediterranean on the 16th inst. to prosecute a survey of the sea-bottom, in the interests of science. She may soon be expected at Malta. The Bristol was to join the combined squadrons during the cruise. When the Mediterranean squadron was off Algiers on the 8th inst., the Psyche proceeded into that port, rejoining the Flag the same night. She went on to Gibraltar on the following day, and again met the Commander-in-Chief on the 11th inst., with the mails. His Excellency the Governor of Gibraltar has been pleased to allow the gates of the fortress to he opened, when required during the night, for the use of officers of the various ships — a privilege hitherto not conceded, but one which is fully appreciated by the whole squadron. The following is a list of the appointments and charges made since my last letter … [omitted] … Her Majesty’s ironclad ship Defence, 16, Capt. Nowel Salmon, V.C., was unexpectedly ordered off by telegraph on the 20th inst. Her destination was kept secret, but is variously rumoured to be Tunis, Palermo, and Gibraltar. I think that it is not impossible she has gone to Civita Vecchia, for the protection of British residents at Rome, and to offer a refuge to His Holiness the Pope end his Ministers, should the course of events render such protection desirable or necessary. Her Majesty's despatch vessel, Antelope, 3, Lieut.-Commander J. Buchanan, arrived here on the 25th inst. from Constantinople, seven days. The surveying schooner Azov, Lieut.-Commander Moore, which had gone out on hydrographic science, has returned into port."
Tu 6 September 1870 The [merchant ship] Hecla passed the combined Mediterranean and Channel squadrons at daybreak on the 20th inst., off Cape St. Maria, the western extremity of the Gulf of Cadiz. These squadrons, in two divisions, had left Gibraltar on the preceding day. The port division consisted of the Minotaur, Northumberland, Monarch, Hercules, Agincourt, Inconstant, and Warrior; the starboard, of the Lord Warden, Royal Oak, Captain, Bellerophon, Caledonia, Prince Consort, and Bristol. The Columbine and Trinculo also accompanied the squadrons on the extreme right.
Sa 17 September 1870A portion of the Channel Fleet arrived in the Portland Roads at noon on Thursday. The squadron consisted of the following armour-plated ships Agincourt (Admiral Shadd [should be Chads]), Minotaur (bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Yelverton), Northumberland, Warrior, and Hercules. These ships have just returned from their cruise on the coast of Spain. On rounding the Breakwater they were greeted with the usual salute from the training ship Boscawen, stationed at Portland. The fleet left Vigo on Saturday afternoon last, and had a very good voyage, though strong head winds prevailed up to Tuesday. On that day, when about 50 miles off Ushant, they met with the despatch boat Helicon, bringing letters and despatches. As might be expected, the most acute sorrow is felt throughout the fleet for the fate of comrades in the Captain. The men have neglected their wonted amusements and recreations, and it was not until Tuesday that the performances of the ships' bands were resumed. After the lamentable occurrence, Admiral Milne signalled to the different ships inquiring if the officers and men would devote a day's pay to the relief of the widows and orphans of the poor fellows who had perished on the disastrous morning of the 7th. The reply was hearty and unanimous, as might have been expected from British sailors. It is the general opinion of the fleet that the sails of the Captain should not have been set during the squally weather that prevailed when she met her sad end. It is stated that the sea was not exceedingly rough, and that several ships scarcely rolled at all. When the discovery was made that the Captain was missing, not the least apprehension was entertained that she had foundered, the supposition being that she had been able to run before the wind and would eventually rejoin the squadron. It could hardly be surmised that so gallant a craft could succumb to a gale of wind, and the fact was not realized until after the Warrior fell in with portions of wreck. Hope was not altogether abandoned until the Psyche signalled off Vigo that she had picked up two of the Captain's cutters, bottom upwards. The disaster is painfully recalled to us by the arrival at Weymouth of large piles of letters and papers for the officers and crew of the Captain. These have necessarily been forwarded to the Dead Letter-office.

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