The 1846 Squadron of Evolution
The 1846 Squadron of Evolution

Royal NavyFleetsExperimental squadrons1845
Royal NavyFleetsExperimental squadrons

In 1846 the squadron of evolution contained a mixture of sailing ships of the line and steamers.
The following extracts from (generally the Naval Intelligence column of) the Times newspaper refer to the activities of this squadron.

Extracts from the Times newspaper
Ma 30 March 1846It is said that the line-of-battle-ships in England and all steamers on the home station, that are not specially employed, will be assembled together in about a month as an experimental squadron.
Ma 6 April 1846


The Rodney, 92, Captain Collier, is ready to go out to Spithead, where she will await the assembling of the experimental squadron.
Tu 14 April 1846


It has not yet transpired, from any authentic source, what ships are to compose the experimental squadron for 1846. We may therefore safely make a few remarks in alluding to the subject. The last squadron was composed of the St. Vincent, 120; Trafalgar, 120; Queen, 110; Rodney, 92; Albion, 90; Canopus, 84; Vanguard, 80; Superb, 80; Daring, 12; and Rattler screw-sloop,- the object being professedly to ascertain the relative superiority of the ships of the old construction over those of the Symondian build, and vice versa; and considering the odds in the surveyor's favour we should have been very much surprised indeed if one of his ships had not won the palm, but we trust a better system will be established in the next trial, and that not more than one or two vessels of the surveyor's will be allowed to compete.

On the last occasion five out of eight were by the surveyor, two of the same class, which was manifestly unfair; and, from the rumours afloat, we apprehend a similar unjust system of proceeding in the forthcoming trial cruize, unless the matter is laid bare to the world. The St. Vincent has been declared "leewardly and crank" (although no one but Rear-Admiral Pym even thought so), therefore, if that "report" is to be credited she, of coarse, will not be permitted to join the squadron. Our opinion is, that there is not a more serviceable three-decker afloat in every respect. However, the St. Vincent has been tried, and proved herself the best ship of the squadron in 1844, beating the Queen upon every tack by "long chalks." She was also tried in the last squadron, we would therefore not have her tried again, but would like to see substituted for her the Nelson, 120, new(?) ship on the design of Surveyors of the Navy, built at Woolwich in 1814, which has never been in commission, nor more at sea than in coming from Woolwich to this port, where, during her 32 years of idleness, she has undergone nearly a reconstruction. She is now completing her third thorough refit! The Neptune, 120, another magnificent three-decker, new, never having been in commission, built at this port in 1832, on the design of Sir W. Rule, is also a vessel we should like to see tried. Of the two-decker class we should like to see the London, 92, new ship, by Seppings, the Bellerophon, 78, by Peake, the Calcutta, 84, and Formidable, 84, put into competition with the surveyors crack 80-gun ship, Vanguard, being the best of his two-deckers. The Rodney, having undergone material alteration since the last cruize, may safely be permitted to join again, and will most probably show her stem to the rest of the squadron. No practical good is likely to result from one particular set of ships invariably forming the experimental squadrons; and, as we know how very expensive fitting out a ship for constant service is, we would suggest that the crews of those ships already in commission fit out the ships which may be selected for future trial, as was the case with the Bellerophon and Calcutta, by which means they would not only obtain practical knowledge in working, but in rigging and storing a ship, which we look upon as of almost as much importance as fighting and sailing. The Eurydice, 26, just come home, built on the design ef Admiral Elliot, is another vessel which ought to form one of an experimental squadron, and placed in competition with one of the surveyor's small craft, say the Pique, which is about coming home. In a word, we hope all future trials will be conducted upon "free trade" principles, and that no favouritism or monopoly will be allowed to exist in any quarter.

What is the fact with regard to the steam squadron? Why, at this moment four vessels (Retribution, Cyclops, Scourge, and Rattler), out of the five already assembled at this port, are of the surveyor's construction. We cannot conceive where the "trial" can be under such circumstances - it seems like a man trying his right hand against his left. Some officer must "report," and how is it to be expected that one Symondian will "report" against the other? Now, the Medea, a very fine, handsome sloop, of 220-horse power, built by Lang, would have been a very proper vessel to have put in competition with a steamer of the surveyor's of similar, tonnage and power, but we do not see any such equitable arrangement in the vessels already named. We trust, however, we have said enough to show how experimental trials ought to be conducted to arrive at any materially beneficial result. If the hints be taken we are sure this important desideratum would be accomplished, and much expense saved in the experiment.
Sa 18 April 1846



We are informed that Commodore Sir Francis Collier, K.C.B., Superintendent of Woolwich dockyard, has received his appointment to command the squadron of line-of-battle ships in the forthcoming cruise, and that Captain Sir James John Gordon Bremer (1814), K.C.B, K.C.H., will hoist a commodore's broad pendant, and take the command of the steam squadron. It is certainly high time a revision of the navy list took place, in order to define who are capable and who are incapable of serving their country longer, when we see an officer taken from his command of an important: arsenal and put in command of a fleet, from which it would be but reasonable to infer that Commodore Collier is the only officer upon the navy list, containing upwards of 150 flag-officers, capable of taking the temporary command of a squadron for a cruise of exercise. Where the necessity can exist for maintaining 150 admirals, at the country's expense after this we cannot imagine. It would seem, too, that while experimental squadrons increase in power they decrease in importance, as heretofore a rear-admiral has had the command, but now a commodore is deemed an officer sufficiently important to fulfil the onerous task. We do not make these remarks in disparagement of Commodore Collier's qualifications to perform all the duties demanded of him in his official capacity; we know him to be well qualified in every respect for the post conferred upon him, but we object to the appointment at [sic] inconsistent, and as an affront to every other active flag-officer upon the Navy List. Commodore Collier is already in possession of a lucrative and distinguished appointment as superintendent of Woolwich dockyard. Why, then, should he be taken away from that to go to sea, when there are so many other deserving men to whom the appointment of commander-in-chief of the experimental squadron would be not only a just compliment and tribute to their acknowledged talents and efficiency, but also a welcome pecuniary boon? We know that precedent may be urged in favour of Commodore Collier's appointment (to wit- Rear-Admirals Pym and Parker were taken away from their respective dockyard commands last summer to go to sea with the experimental squadron of 1845), but that will not answer the charge of inconsistency. In fact, it renders its truth more apparent, as we well know Rear Admiral Parker was confined to his cabin with gout nearly the whole time he was in the St. Vincent, and his successor reported the best ship of the squadron as "leewardly and crank!" With the appointment of Captain Sir J.J.G. Bremer we are sure every one would be perfectly satisfied. He commanded the Bermuda and Royalist in 1812-13, and captured several privateers, and was actively employed on the north coast of Spain, particularly at the defence of Castro. In the latter sloop, in company with the Scylla, he fought the French frigate Weser, of 40 guns. He was also Commander-in-Chief, with a broad pendant, in the Wellesley, in the operations on the coast of China, including the capture of the Bogue forts and Canton in 1841.

We 22 April 1846


The Vanguard, 80, Captain Willes, arrived this morning from Cork, to join the experimental squadron, making the seventh ship of the line now at Spithead. We hear it reported, and believe in its authenticity, that this ship will also be docked, and have an additional false keel put upon her and her hold restowed, upon the principle of "what if good for the goose," &c. The squadron is daily "filling up" with provisions, &c., and making rapid preparations for sailing. Prior to their departure, however, it is reported a grand display will be made by the whole concentrated force, after the manner of a "descent" upon this garrison, which will be in the presence of the Lords of the Admiralty, and, doubtless, a most brilliant assemblage of the nobility and the distinguished in the science of modern warfare.

The Gladiator steam-frigate, Captain Robb, arrived at Spithead this morning, from the river, to join the experimental steam squadron, of which she forms the sixth member now at the rendezvous.The Superb, 80, Captain Corry, was towed out of harbour to Spithead this afternoon, where she has commenced restoring and provisioning for the experimental cruise.

The Lords of the Admiralty will arrive on Friday evening on their annual official visit of inspection, by which time the two officers appointed to command the experimental squadrons will have hoisted their pendants and made every arrangement for their Lordships' reception, which will be on a very grand scale.
Sa 2 May 1846



The Commander-in-Chief of the force at Spithead (hitherto called the "experimental squadron", but now dignified by the above "official" title), Commodore Sir Francis Collier, hoisted his broad pendant (red at the main) at 19h. 30m., on board the St. Vincent, 120, Captain Sir Richard Grant, and exchanged the usual salute with the Commander-in-Chief of the port, Admiral Sir Charles Ogle. Commodore Sir J.J.G. Bremer cannot fly his pendant until "outside," as Captain Pasco, of the Victory, is senior to him by upwards of two years; therefore Commodore Bremer, if he hoists his pendant at Spithead, must haul it down again immediately, without being saluted; but we opine the necessity for his doing so will dictate the propriety of not hoisting it at all until clear of the port.

Ma 4 May 1846



All the vessels composing the above squadron are now assembled. At Spithead, with the exception of the Canopus, 84, Captain Moresby, on her way from Jamaica, and Devastation steam sloop, Commander Crouch. The Raleigh, 50, Captain Sir Thomas Herbert, joined last night.

To-morrow morning (wind permitting) the whole squadron will get under way and proceed outside the Knab Light, where a grand review or "sham fight" will take place in the presence of the Lords of the Admiralty, who have ordered the exhibition.

Each steamer will take in tow a ship, and lead her out to the scene of action; each steamer has consequently received orders which ship to tow; should, however, the Devastation not arrive in time, the Superb will be minus her auxiliary.

The following is the order of sailing, and the squadron will anchor in the same order on their return to Spithead in the evening :-

Steamers.Lee Line.Weather Line.
  St. Vincent,120
 Queen, 110Vanguard, 80
 Rodney, 92Albion, 90
 Superb, 80Trafalgar, 120
CyclopsRaleigh, 50 
Rattler and Brilliant to repeat signals
Tu 5 May 1846


Since the intention of the lords of the Admiralty to review the squadron of Evolution became known on Friday night, Portsmouth has been in a most extraordinary state of agitation, and the persons who have flocked into the town have been far more numerous than on any previous occasion, not even excepting the famous display of the Royal inspection prior to the departure of the experimental squadron last year. Some idea may be formed of the extent of the influx of visiters from the fact of a Lord of the Treasury having been compelled to put up with a bed made up in the booking office of the George Hotel, so scarce was the accommodation in the town.

From far and near the population thronged into the place, and as early as 8 o'clock this morning the ramparts, and every other commanding position from which a view could be obtained of the anticipated spectacle, were crowded with multitudes of human beings. Nor was this vast concourse of sight-seeing expectants confined to the shores, the anchorage at Spithead was thickly studded with beautiful specimens of amateur naval architecture, which, together with the numerous Government and mercantile vessels, also heavily freighted with company, presented a picture which no display of the kind could possibly surpass.

With a light topgallant breeze from the south-east, the fleet prepared for sailing, towing, under the circumstances, being quite unnecessary, the ships of the line having unmoored last evening.

At 10 o'clock the Lords of the Admiralty embarked from the Sallyport-stairs on board the Comet steam-vessel, Lieutenant-Commander W. Pretyman, and with their flag flying from her main, proceeded to the St. Vincent, on board of which ship their Lordships were received by Commodore Collier and Captain Sir Richard Grant. Upon their arrival, a salute of 19 guns was fired in brilliant style with manned yards, and Commodore Collier's pendant was struck and the Admiralty flag took its place at the main-mast head.

Signal was now made to get under way immediately, and the Retribution steamer was the first to obey the order She was followed by the Albion, 90; Superb, 80; Rodney, 92; Scourge and Gladiator steamers in the order in which they are named. The Terrible had not fished her anchor at this time.

The Albion and Superb got on in most gallant style, Albion to windward. The Vanguard, 80, now got under way, followed by the Brilliant, 22; Trafalgar, 120; and Queen, 110. The Terrible and St. Vincent were the last under way; the latter not until nearly 12 o'clock.

When off Sea View, Isle of Wight, the squadron, in succession, as each member arrived, tacked, and stood over to port, the sail carried being topsails, courses, and topgallant sails- the Superb with a reef more in her topsails.

When off Bembridge the flag-ship made the signal for the steamers to get "out of line," not liking the unmerciful smoking all were getting from them. The steamers consequently bore up and formed line to leeward in the following order,- the Retribution, Gladiator, Scourge, and Cyclops; the Terrible not far from her moorings at Spithead at this time.

The Superb and Albion kept the lead in the same order as at starting, and presented a beautiful picture, but when off Bembridge the Rodney weathered and forereached on them. Signal was now made for the steamers to keep astern, but the Cyclops could not keep her position from want of power, which was manifest throughout the day.

The Trafalgar was considerably to leeward, and, much to our surprise, with her lower deck ports closed- as indeed, were all the rest of the squadron at this time, except the Queen, which carried hers open, with all her guns run out; subsequently the St. Vincent carried hers out also.

At 8 minutes to 12 o'clock the Rodney appeared to be overhauling her rival (the Albion) and also the Superb, when signal was made to her to keep astern. At 12 o'clock Commodore Sir J.J.G. Bremer hoisted his white pendant on board the Queen, which appeared the stiffest of the squadron under canvass, but there was only a moderate topgallant breeze blowing.

At 12 o'clock the crews were piped to dinner, and a cessation of the manoeuvring consequently took place.

At 12h. 45m. signal was made for the steamers to form line of battle abreast and follow astern, which was complied with in smart style, and formed a very interesting manoeuvre.

At a quarter past 1 o'clock signal was made for the weather ships to bring to (outside the Nab); the Brilliant, Rodney, and Superb were the outer ships; the Albion, Vanguard, and Queen, next in succession. All hove-to except the Trafalgar, which was still engaged in endeavouring to take up her position.

The St. Vincent, being the leewardmost ship, and the wind coming in more from the southward, had great difficulty in getting out, hence much time was. necessarily lost.

At 1h. 45m. the steamers were signalled to go ahead as fast as possible, and fire sternmost guns. The Cyclops was the first to fire, not having her guns secured for sea. The Retribution was second, although her guns were cross-lashed and otherwise secured. The Gladiator was third, Terrible fourth, and Scourge last, firing her mortar twice in 25 seconds. After this the sailing squadron formed in two lines and crossed royal yards: Queen first, Superb second, Trafalgar third, the rest nearly together; Superb the first to set royals and flying gib, Queen next, and furled them again. The wind at this time was very light.

About 3 o'clock the St. Vincent having attained her proper position at the head of the fleet, carried on in gallant style, followed on the starboard tack by the Vanguard, Albion, Trafalgar, and Superb, forming the lee line, the Queen, Rodney, and Retribution forming the weather line, with the other steamers abreast of the latter. The signal was then made to sail in open order, well clear of each other- a very beautiful spectacle.

The Terrible, with her main deck ports open, did not appear to carry them more than three feet from the water, and the backwash of the wheels appeared to flow on board. When outside the Nab-light the breeze freshened a little, and the squadron went on in most elegant style. The Queen appeared to reach on the St. Vincent fast, and the Rodney overhauled the Albion, which spared the Superb her royals and mainsail to enable her to keep her station.

At 3.30 signal was made to shorten as much sail as possible, without breaking the line. All the ships then took in courses, royals, and topgallant-sails, and signal was made to form one line. This was off St. Helen's, and was a very pretty evolution; but the Trafalgar, not being able to keep her station, set her foretopmast and topgallant studding sails, and even then moved very sluggishly through the water, and the other ships of the line were compelled to shorten sail to allow her to make up.

The squadron was now ordered to form the line of battle, which was performed in very smart and beautiful style, after which signal was made to the whole squadron to tack in succession, and stand in on the return to Spithead.

On the return the Terrible and Retribution had a short and partial contest in speed; the former came up (after being out of her place nearly all the day) with full pressure of steam on, while the latter had been blowing off considerably, and had not near her full force on. Consequently the Terrible went ahead until her more graceful rival got her full power on again, when she rapidly drew upon her three-masted competitor, and was fast overhauling her, but they approached the sailing fleet too near to admit of further competition, so the trial remains for another day.

The St. Vincent anchored nearly off St. Helen's at half-past 5 o'clock, and the other ships formed into line to the westward astern of her. At half-past 6, the Lords of the Admiralty re-embarked on board the Comet (which had attended them throughout), and left for the shore under a salute from the Commodore of 19 guns.

In this exhibition the St. Vincent, Rodney, Superb, and Queen, were doubtless the best ships, the Trafalgar unquestionably the worst in the squadron; the Brilliant appeared crank, but carried her ports 8 or 9 feet out of the water. Of the steamers the Retribution and Gladiator showed a vast superiority over the others. The Raleigh and Devastation did not join in the cruise; the former remained at Spithead, and the latter went into harbour.The Lords of the Admiralty entertained all the Captains of the fleet and a select party afterwards at the George Hotel, Portsmouth.

The First Lord has promoted First Lieutenant Tatham, of the Raleigh, who recently so gallantly distinguished himself in saving a man belonging to the ship from drowning, to the rank of Commander; and we believe another gallant and deserving officer, who has been upwards of 20 years a lieutenant, has received the same gratifying boon from Lord Ellenborough.
We 6 May 1846


The squadron of evolution will, we believe, sail on their summer cruise on Monday next. The line-of-battle ships will victual for five months and the steamers for three. The squadron anchored last night in a line bearing from the Commodore about west north-west in the order of sailing, the St. Vincent being the easternmost, then the Vanguard, Albion, and Trafalgar, composing the van division; next, the Queen, Rodney, and Superb, composing the rear division. The steamers anchored in a line to the northward of the line-of-battle ships. Commodore Bremer struck his pendant on board the Queen as that ship passed the St. Vincent to take up her berth in the place allotted to her. The Queen, Rodney, and Superb carried the white (Commodore Bremer's) ensign yesterday.
Th 7 May 1846



According to present orders the squadron will put to sea on Monday next, for a cruise in the Chops of the Channel of three weeks, at the expiration of which time the fleet will put in at Cork, where it is reported they will be "paid down" in order that the Irish may reap the benefit of the expenditure which would be the result of such a measure, a contribution to the means already carrying out for the relief of the national distress in that part of the kingdom.

In our remarks on the evolutions performed by the squadron on Monday, we were necessarily compelled to omit many interesting features, in consequence of the press upon our columns of other important matter. We now return to the subject.

In tacking to return to the anchorage the St. Vincent looked remarkably well, worked quick, and appeared to be very smartly handled. No more, however, than we expected from Sir Richard Grant's orders. In performing this manoeuvre the Vanguard, 80, Captain Willes, was second occupying three minutes and a-half in stays, under topsails and topgallantsails. The Albion occupied three minutes and 40 seconds, but would have come round quicker perhaps, but her main-yard appeared to be somewhat checked. The Trafalgar was three minutes and 50 seconds under courses. The Queen appeared very sluggish in stays- four minutes. The Rodney three minutes and three-quarters and the Superb four and a-half minutes, but had not her main-yard been hauled rather too quickly, we are of opinion she would have performed the evolution much quicker.

Of the steamers it is very difficult to speak so as to give satisfaction; the facts, however, as they came under our own observation, we recorded on Monday, and have but little more to add.

The Terrible, when under way, had only her foretopgallantyard across, and the foretopsail, foresail, and foretopgallantsail bent. The cross jack-yard and mizantopsailyard were sent on deck, consequently that which we found apparently a ship in harbour, proved only a bark at sea. What use there can be in having a main-yard and maintopsail-yard across (even in harbour), and no sail bent to it, we should be glad to learn. Her maindeck ports appeared to us (at the distance of a cable's length) to be no more than three feet from the water, and the back wash from the wheels nearly flowed into them. This was in tolerably smooth water. Carrying her maindeck ports open, therefore, in anything like a sea will be very injudicious, and firing her guns dangerously unsafe, if not impossible. She did not appear to obey orders with so much alacrity as the others.

The Gladiator was so high out of the water, we imagine from not having a sufficiency of coals on board, that her paddle floats appeared to have no hold upon the water. She is certainly a very fine handsome vessel, and will prove one of the most efficient in the service.

The Scourge was much too deep, as she always will be with her present absurd armament.

The Cyclops' only fault appeared to be insufficiency of steam power, but in sailing she will go to windward of the others, or she has been unduly praised.

The Retribution appeared to have more power and to work easier than the Terrible, and was well handled throughout. Considering the infamous wrong done to this vessel by docking her, we were astonished at her smart and highly efficient appearance. The short race between her and the Terrible was no trial, the former not having her steam full on- a fact we have satisfied ourselves of.

The Trafalgar, Rodney, and Superb displayed the master-hand in the setting of their sails and the trimming of their yards, as they looked more beautiful under canvass (the sails being tauter and the sheets closer home) than any other ships of the squadron.

There can be no doubt but that the heavy armament of the Brilliant causes her crankness. She mounts 14 32-pounder long guns and 10 8-inch shell guns on her main deck, and two immense pivot guns and two long 32's on her spar deck, the whole being at a great height from the water.

The Comet steam-vessel, Commander Pretyman, took off Vice-Admiral Sir William Hall Gage, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, to Spithead to inspect the squadron of evolution this morning.

The Gladiator steam-frigate. Captain Robb, came into harbour to coal this afternoon.

Fr 8 May 1846



The wardroom officers of the Rodney, 92, Captain Edward Collier, C.B., gave a brilliant entertainment on board their ship this day to Commodore Sir Francis Collier, and the other officers of the squadron of evolution, to which were invited Admiral Sir Charles Ogle, Bart., the Commander-in-Chief, and his family circle; Rear-Admiral Hyde Parker, Superintendent of the Dockyard, and Mrs. Parker: Major General Pakenham, Lieutenant-Governor of the Garrison, the Hon. Lady and the Misses Pakenham; Commodore Sir Francis Collier and Sir J.J.G. Bremer; Lady and the Misses Collier; General Sir David and Lady Ximenes, and daughters; Captain Sir Henry Leeke, of the Queen; Lady and the Misses Leeke; the Countess of Cavan, Lady George Lennox and daughters; Captain and Miss Corry, of the Superb; Captain Lockyer, of the Albion; Captain Austen, Lieutenant the Hon. and Mrs. Lambert; Captain Tattnall, R.N.; Captain Chads, of the Excellent, Mrs. and the Misses Chads; Captain the Hon. Mr. Byng, Mrs. and Miss Byng; Mrs. Basil Hall, Miss Hall, Flag-Lieutenant Collier and Mrs. Collier; Captain Collier, of the Rodney; Miss Ommanney, Miss Birch, Miss Inman, Mrs. Hayes, Captain and Mrs. Creed; Lady Elizabeth Tollemache, Miss Lovell, Mrs. Halford, Lieutenants Hancock and Mayo, 74th Highlanders; Lieutenant Arthur Cumming, of the Albion; Captain Kemble, R.N.; Lieutenants Boyce and St. John, of the Excellent; Captain Douglas, of the Royal Naval College; Lieutenant Dashwood Fowler, Flag-Lientenant to Commodore Sir J. Bremer; Commander Schomberg, of the Queen; Mr. Hay, secretary to Vice-Admiral Sir W.H, Gage; Captain Willes, of the Vanguard, &c.

The quarter-deck was covered in with gaily-coloured flags and formed a magnificent ball-room, and certainly a more merry company never assembled.

A banquet comprising the choicest delicacies was provided in the ward-room, to which ample justice was done by the guests.

The entertainment was got up and superintended by Commander Clarke, and Lieutenants Meorsom, Forster, Winthrop, and Tattnall. About 7 o'clock the festivities terminated, and a steam-packet, hired for the occasion, conveyed the guests ashore.

The affair was highly creditable to the officers of the Rodney, and as a display of elegant hospitality never surpassed at Spithead.

We omitted to mention, in our remarks upon the exercise of the squadron of evolution on Monday, the utter impossibility of making out the signals of ships when astern of a squadron of steamers. This fact was most strikingly apparent on Monday.

Captain Sir Richard Grant, we believe, puts to sea in the St. Vincent for three weeks, when he will be relieved at Cork by Captain Sheppard.

Captain Sir Thomas Herbert, of the Raleigh, 50, will, we are informed, proceed shortly to relieve Commodore Sir Henry Blackwood, of the Fox, and hoist a broad pendant as second in command on the China and East India Station.

The Devastation steam-sloop, Commander Crouch, having replenished fuel, returned to the anchorage at Spithead this morning.

The Rattler steam-sloop, Commander Smith, left the harbour this morning at 6 o'clock, and went round the Isle of Wight under canvass and steam.

Ma 11 May 1846



The sailing of this force is put off until Wednesday or Thursday next, on what account is not clearly apparent, although several causes are alleged. We believe the fact is, that the squadron is not ready to sail, several of the ships being defective in their sea-going appointments.

We have to complain of a gross act of injustice performed by the Admiralty towards a meritorious officer of one of the ships forming the squadron of evolution. Lieutenant Henry Need, 1841, of the Terrible: this officer was appointed to the Terrible on the 6th of December last, when she was commissioned, and has remained in her until two days ago, when an order came down for him to remove forthwith into the St. Vincent, and, at the game time, Lieutenant the Hon. J.W.S. Spencer, 1841, was appointed to the Terrible, vice Need. No cause was assigned for this peremptory and unexpected order, and Mr. Need had to turn out of his berth without time even to write respecting the astounding circumstance, and has been put to great personal inconvenience and expense. Lieutenant Need joined the Terrible expressly for the purpose of studying steam, and now that he was about to reap the benefit of his application he is turned out of his ship without any cause being assigned, to make room for a young officer, who, after returning from a cruize of five or six weeks, will be thrust into the Royal yacht and made shortly afterwards a commander! Lieutenant Need is a very meritorious officer, having distinguished himself when mate of the Druid at the attack upon Canton, and while lieutenant of the Harlequin, under Commander (now Captain) the Hon. G. Hastings, served in her boats m a desperate encounter with pirates on the coast of Sumatra, in 1844. Such jobs as these are not likely to increase the popularity of the service or engender respect for the officers who, by such acts, abuse the power vested in them of dealing out justice.

We 13 May 1846


The squadron of evolution sails to-morrow morning. The time will depend upon the tide and other circumstances, but most likely early.

The squadron, as was the case last year, is deficient in good hands, and many have recently "run" from the ships. One of the flag-ships has been very unfortunate in this respect. To remedy the evil, the Admiralty continues to send newly-raised men down by railway daily, to join the squadron, but they are sorry objects- fitter, in appearance, to join Falstaff's ragged regiment than a sea-going ship.

The available vessels at the port - the Comet, Lightning, and Bee steamers, the Fanny and Mercury tenders - are all under orders to hold themselves in readiness to embark the distinguished visitors who are expected to arrive to morrow to witness the departure of the squadron.

The Gladiator steam frigate, Captain Robb, having replenished fuel and repaired defects, went out of harbour at noon this day, and anchored at Spithead.

The following table shows the force expected to sail tomorrow:

Ships' Names, and by whom commandedBy whom constructedNumber
in tons
St. Vincent, Captain Sir R. GrantSir W. Rule1202,612 
Trafalgar, Captain J.N. NottSir W. Rule1202,694 
Queen, Captain Sir H. LeekeSir W. Symonds1103,103 
Rodney, Captain E. CollierSir R. Seppings922,625 
Albion, captain N. LockyerSir W. Symonds903.099 
Superb, captain A.L. CorrySir W. Symonds802,589 
Vanguard, Captain G.W. WillesSir W. Symonds802,589 
Raleigh, Captain T. HerbertMr. Fincham501,935 
Brilliant, captain R.B. WatsonSir W. Rule22954 
Terrible, Captain RamsayMr O. Lang201,847800
Retribution, Captain LushingtonSir W. Symonds101,641800
Gladiator, Captain RobbSir W. Symonds31,190430
Cyclops, Captain LapidgeSir W. Symonds61,105320
Scourge, Captain CaffinSir W. Symonds21,124420
Devastation, Commander CrouchSir W. Symonds61,058400
Rattler, Commander Smith (screw propelled)Sir W. Symonds5888200
The number of men actually borne on the books and victualled of each ship, her draught of water, quantity of stores, provisions, ammunition, coals, water, &c., at the time of sailing, we shall furnish in a day or two.
Th 14 May 1846



This being the day appointed for the sailing of the squadron, the port presented a most extraordinary appearance from an early hour in. the morning, the bustle and agitation ashore being quite equal to the busy scene afloat, from the great mass of spectators who everywhere lined the walls, anxious to get a glimpse of the "show of war" about to manifest itself at Spithead.

The ships all unmoored last night, and their respective captains slept on hoard, as it was contemplated to get under weigh about 7 o'clock, if possible, in order to take the tide at its most favourable time. The various yachts and tenders also dropped out of harbour and lay to off the Sallyport stairs last night, lest the wind might prove foul, and retard their getting out in the morning. There were the Fanny, the Commander-in-Chief's yacht; the Emerald tender, placed at the disposal of the Lieutenant-Governor and party; and the Portsmouth, the Rear-Admiral Superintendent's yacht; these in the morning were joined by the Pearl cutter, the Marquis of Anglesey; the Wyvern schooner, the Duke of Marlborough; the Georgian schooner, Captain Lyons; the Louisa ketch, Mr. Fleming; and a host of others whose names and owners we could not ascertain. There were also the Royal yacht, with a distinguished party on board; the Lightning steamer, with Rear-Admiral the Earl of Cadogan and party on board; the Bee tender, with a party of the friends of Captain Chads, of the Excellent, and that gallant officer, on board; the Transit, South Western Company's steamer; the Duke of Buccleuch, Isle of Wight and Southampton steamer, the Earl Spencer, and other commercial steam-packets, all laden with company, which, together with the host of small craft, formed a most important feature in the picture.

The morning broke ominously for the day's pleasure, a drizzling rain having commenced at sunrise; but as the hour approached for the departure of the fleet the rain blew off, and the sun shone out, to the great relief of the sight-seeking multitude.

At half-past 9 o'clock the flag-ship signalled the steamers to get up their steam; this was the commencement of the day's events, and certainly, if there was a lack of "fire" in the smartness of some of the crews of the vessels, there was no lack of the sooty auxiliary - smoke. Such a puffing as was now exhibited soon put the brightening horizon again into mourning.

At 15 minutes to 10 o'clock signal was made to shorten cable, and at the same time to the frigates Raleigh, 50, and Brilliant, 22, to get under weigh. Raleigh immediately loosened sail in smart style. A general signal was directly after made to "prepare to weigh - the outward and leewardmost ships first." The Brilliant was first away. The scene now exhibited throughout the squadron was one of the most lively and animating description; the men lying out upon the yards loosening the canvas, which in a moment after fell in graceful folds from their hands and caught the breeze.

The St. Vincent was the first away of the line-of-battle-ships, followed by the Superb, Rodney, Vanguard, and Raleigh. The Queen did not make any apparent effort, but signalled "The commodore is not on board;" consequently she remained at anchor while the others got under weigh. The Gladiator, Scourge, Devastation, Cyclops, and Retribution followed in succession about 25 minutes after the line-of-battle-ships. The Brilliant cracked on in gallant style, under single-reefed topsails and topgallantsails, the Albion following, Vanguard with her courses set. At about half-past 10 o'clock signal was made to the steamers to "weigh and keep astern," and, then to the sailing squadron, to "form the prescribed order of sailing in two columns;" tbe St. Vincent, Vanguard, Albion, and Trafalgar forming the weather line, and the Queen, Rodney, and Superb the lee line. The Albion had run out most gallantly to St. Helen's before the ships astern of her had scarcely moved from their positions at the anchorage, but on the signal being made she ran back, and dropped astern into her place in the rear of the Vanguard.

Signal was then made to "look out a head of the Admiral," when the Raleigh and Brilliant, to whom only the signal applied, carried on and stood out with all plain sail, the Brilliant leading; but when abreast of the Nab light the Raleigh shot past her and kept the lead some miles, when the recall was hoisted, and they put back, the Raleigh leaving the Brilliant three or four miles astern. This was the most interesting feature in the day's proceedings, being the only piece of competition in sailing, the other vessels having merely to obey orders and keep their stations. Not being able to weather the "Warner shoal," the squadron, as each ship approached, tacked and stood over to starboard. When outside the Nab the St. Vincent clewed up her courses to wait for the others, and the Vanguard and Albion followed her example to keep their stations. The latter had to take in her topgallant sails to keep clear of the Vanguard.

At 12 o clock signal was made to the steamers to prepare to go ahead under sail only, and the dinner pennant was bent. When outside the Nab the Albion asked permission to lower her maintoptmast (!), which was granted. The Rodney was obliged to back her maintopsail to keep her station, she drew ahead so fast. By a quarter past 12 o'clock all the line of battle-ships made the Nab, and formed the prescribed order of sailing in two columns. At this time the steamers were making up fast, the Terrible and Retribution leading, the former ahead. The whole fleet now lay to during the dinner hour.

At 1 o'clock signal was made for a lieutenant from each ship to repair on board the St. Vincent: this appearing likely to prove a business of an hour or two, from the distance at which the other members of the. squadron lay from the Commodore, a signal was shortly after made to the steamers to take the boats containing the officers in tow. The Commodore having communicated his orders to the offices sent from the various ships, the steamers set sail and prepared to go ahead.

Abut 2 o'clock a squall came from the eastward, and compelled the ships to send down royal yards, take in top-gallant sails, and reef foresails. At this the yachts and small craft began to manifest symptoms of uneasiness, and put back as fast as they could for the shore. At about half-past 3, alter lying-to for two hours, the fleet made sail down Channel, under double-reefed topsails, topgallantsails, and foresails, and at 5 o clock were lost to view from the Nab-lightvessel.

The Trafalgar again showed her inferiority to the rest of the fleet; and the Albion proved better even than on the last occasion of showing her abilities. The Raleigh did not go further with the squadron than Damrose, and worked up to Spithead by sunset, where she anchored. The Lightning, having disembarked the Earl of Cadogan, left for Woolwich.

The Rattler did not form one of the fleet, having been sent to Plymouth last night with supernumeraries, which she will put on board the squadron at that port, and then join.

The absence of saluting rendered the affair flat and uninteresting, and the multitude who flocked on board the steam-packets in expectation of grandeur and display went home with the unsolacing idea of having paid too dearly for their whistle.

Fr 15 May 1846


The Canopus, 84, Captain Fairfax Moresby, arrived at Spithead this morning about 9 o'clock, from Halifax, last from Plymouth, with the remainder of the 43d Regiment on board. She spoke the squadron of evolution yesterday, between 3 and 4 o'clock, working down Channel, and saluted the Commodore when the latter was off Dunnose. When spoken, the squadron was running down under single-reefed topsails and courses, except the Trafalgar, which was astern under topgallant sails. The steamers were to leeward under canvass, the Terrible leading, and the Retribution heeling over with every puff of wind in a very extraordinary manner.

The strong easterly gale which blew from half-past 1 yesterday and continued daring the night prevented the Canopus making Spithead until this morning. She left Halifax on the 28th ult. After disembarking her troops she will proceed to join the squadron.
Sa 16 May 1846


Last evening, between 6 and 7 o'clock, her Majesty's screw steamer Rattler, Commander H. Smith, came into Plymouth with volunteers for Her Majesty's frigate, Constance, 50, Capt. Sir Baldwin B. Walker, now fitting in Hamoaze. This morning at 5 the Rattler, with her two topsails single reefed, went out through the Western Channel, and reached off to the southward and eastward to meet the experimental fleet.

At a quarter to 8, the weather being hazy, with a stiff breeze from E.N.E., the experimental ships hove in sight. The first two appeared to be Her Majesty's ship Albion, 90, Captain N. Lockyer, and the Rodney, 92, Captain E. Collier, with their three topsails lowered on the cap, running under easy canvass. They were followed by two three-deckers under single-reefed topsails; these two kept together for half an hour. Next came the Raleigh, 50-gun frigate, and the Brilliant, 22-gun razeed frigate. After the Brilliant was a large steamer, attended by another of less dimensions. The last sailing vessels observed were two line-of-battle ships under single-reefed topsails, jib, and spanker; and to the southward of these were two steamers.

The weather moderated, and became more clear at 10 o'clock, by which time they were abreast of the Eddystone, pursuing their course down Channel. At 11. o'clock, with the wind from the same quarter E.N.E., a fine breeze, the fleet were out of sight.
Ma 18 May 1846



The Sir Francis Drake steamer, Captain Sadler, which left Falmouth at 7 o'clock on Thursday morning, passed seven sail of the line lying to off Fowey, about 11 o'clock. They were accompanied by two steamers five miles to windward, and there were two others running before the wind (E N.E.) to join the fleet. In consequence of the strength of the wind and tide the Drake did not arrive here until 3 o'clock, four hours beyond her usual time.

Her Majesty's steamer Devastation, which left Portsmouth with the experimental squadron, and passed this port with them yesterday morning, came in here the same evening about 3, having been signalized by the Admiral to return when off the Deadman. At the time the Devastation left, 3 o'clock, the fleet were steering for the Lizard.

The Devastation has orders to tow to Milford the bomb-ship which has been recently sold by the Government for 850l., for the purpose of conversion into a floating chapel at Bristol. From Milford she will be towed by a merchant steamer to her place of destination.


The experimental squadron passed this port to the westward yesterday, at 4 o'clock p.m., in splendid style, with a moderate breeze at east and fine weather. They consisted of three three-deckers, four two-deckers, and four steamers; the last under canvass only, as well as the former. A large two-masted steamer, with 13 sails set, was considerably in advance of all the fleet; a three-decker with a broad pendant, and a three-masted screw steamer (close together) were next; and a three-decker (without a Commodore's flag) was the sternmost of the lines; whilst two schooner steamers (one with two funnels) were a mile or two astern of all. All the sailing ships were under similar and easy canvass, and during the period occupied en passant from off Pendennes to the Manacles were busy in exchanging signals; they appeared to haul to the southward and westward from this place.

Ma 25 May 1846


The Cyclops steamer, from the squadron of evolution, arrived here early yesterday morning, having lost sight of the line of battle-ships. The Retribution steamer, attached to the squadron, also arrived about noon, reported from the same cause. Both vessels have experienced bad weather. The Cyclops is moving into Barnpool to refit.

The Devastation steamer and the Adventure transport also sailed last evening; the former to rejoin the squadron of evolution, the latter for the eastward, probably Portsmouth.

The Raleigh, 50, Captain Sir Thomas Herbert, has made good what little defects she reported, and completed her complement within a dozen, with some prime hands who have been waiting for the razeed corvettes Amphitrite and Trincomalee to be commissioned. She will sail from Portsmouth on Sunday or Monday to join the squadron of evolution, for which she will take out letters and despatches, returning to Spithead in three weeks. Captain John Shepherd takes passage in her to join the St. Vincent, to relieve Sir Richard Grant at Cork.

Letters from the Commander-in-Chief's ship of the squadron of evolution have been received at this port. One of them mentions the fact of the Commodore having, when off Falmouth, "signaled to the Retribution steam-frigate, Captain Lushington, then under 13 sails, far a-head of all the squadron, to 'fire lee and weather guns under canvas,' which she immediately complied with so smartly that the Commodore signaled 'Well done, Retribution!' At this time the Terrible and Scourge were far astern of all the others." From the above, the Retribution must have been the vessel mentioned by our Falmouth correspondent on Monday, as "a two-masted steamer, with 13 sails set; was far in advance of all the fleet."
Tu 26 May 1846


Letters from the squadron reached us this morning.

On Saturday, the 16th inst., a trial took place between the Queen, 110, Captain Sir Henry Leeke; the Rodney, 92, Captain Collier; and the Superb, 80, Captain Corry, on a wind, under single reefed topsails and topgallant sails, blowing fresh. The Superb beat the Queen and Rodney nearly five miles, dead to windward, in four hours; the two latter sailed nearly equal.

On the following day (Sunday) no trial took place. In the evening a strong gale sprang up, and the Retribution steam-frigate, Captain Washington; the Scourge steam-sloop, Commander Caffin, and the Gladiator steam-frigate, Captain Robb, lost sight of the squadron. In the night the gale freshened, and continued blowing with unabated fury until Thursday last. In lying to the Retribution beat both the other steamers: all three, however, concluded that the Commodore had run into Plymouth Sound, and accordingly made for that anchorage. The Retribution and the Cyclops made the Sound on Thursday, the latter considerably damaged.

The Brilliant, 22, Captain Watson; the Terrible steam-frigate, Captain Ramsay; and the Cyclops, parted company from the squadron the first night after leaving Spithead. The Terrible, however, found her way into Plymouth Sound on Friday morning last, in a terribly disabled condition, having sprung her foremast, stove in her starboard sponson, and sprung her rudder-head, besides sustaining sundry other damages.

The Retribution, not having sustained any damage, and having rode out the gale well, left Plymouth on Saturday last to rejoin the squadron, leaving behind, to refit, her rival, the Terrible, and the Cyclops.

With respect to the two steamers, Terrible and Retribution, we sincerely believe that were the latter stiffer under canvass, there would not be a more efficient steamer in the world; but she is miserably crank, although a splendid sea boat, as she has indisputably proved, and under sail before the wind has gone ahead of all the other vessels. She runs and lies to in a gale of wind most beautifully; but all is spoilt for want of a better bearing, which we trust the Admiralty will see the expediency of giving her.Our letters do not mention the other ships of the squadron.


Her Majesty's steam-frigate Terrible, 800-horse power, Captain William Ramsey, which passed this port on the 14th. inst. with the squadron of evolution, put back this morning at 5 o'clock, came to anchor inside Plymouth breakwater, and at 6 saluted the flag of Port Admiral Sir John West.

The Terrible has received considerable damage in the late gales. She parted company with the squadron on the 15th, off the Lizard, in going down Channel, and with the exception of one of the steamers, has seen nothing of them since. While lying to in the Bay of Biscay, she experienced the brunt of the south-west storm. Her rudder is broken at the main piece just above the water's edge, and she is now fitted with a temporary tiller, fixed about a foot under water. Her foremast is sprung, her funnels damaged, her paddle-boxes shattered, the starboard one especially, and she has received other injuries, to repair which she went this afternoon alongside the Vigo hulk in Hamoaze. Her officers speak of her as a good sea-boat, perfect in hull, rigging, and machinery. Yesterday in the Channel she exchanged signals with the bark Crusader, 300 tons, homeward bound.
Ma 1 June 1846


Lieutenant Need, whose removal from the Terrible to the St. Vincent, to make way for an "honourable," who was thrust into the place to qualify for yacht service and promotion, we noticed at the time, was restored to the Terrible on the day the fleet left Spithead, but the Hon. Lieutenant Spencer also remained. To cover this glaring job each of the first-class frigates has had an extra lieutenant appointed.

The squadron of evolution is reported by the Cork pilots to have been seen on Wednesday last off Galley Head, wind N.W., light, with fine weather.
Th 4 June 1846By the Gladiator, which had been despatched to Cork from the squadron of evolution, we have received reports of all the trials of sailing which had taken, place up to her departure. Since leaving Portsmouth the rendezvous of the squadron had never been made known by signal, but each captain or commander had it in a sealed letter, which letter was not to be opened except in the event of parting company. If we say, however, that the cruising ground was between the latitude of 48° and 49° N., and longitude 9° and 10° W., we shall be near enough for reference. It was proposed at the time our advices left that the whole of the squadron shall be at Cork on Friday next, and that their stay there should only be to get answers to the letters which the Gladiator was to take in. During their stay there, which was expected to be at most only three days, the whole of the marines of the squadron, and the field-pieces manned with seamen, were to be landed on Spike Island. The number of the men would probably be 2,000, the field-pieces 20. After sailing from Cork, the next landing was proposed to be at Bantry Bay, where access to the shore is more difficult on account of the surf. Whiddy Island, at the bottom of the bay, was the place spoken of, though it was considered too small. As to what had already been done," but little," says one of our correspondents, "can be said; the Commodore keeps the squadron at it, though, I lament to say, that in him, as well as in his predecessors in command, long residence on shore has not improved the nerves. As yet we have, had no casualties, or, at least, none have been reported."

A letter of subsequent date says,- "As Raleigh joined to-day, and Belleisle, with the new captain (John Shepperd) of St. Vincent, is cruising in search of us, our going into Cork is delayed until the 9th of June."

We subjoin a detailed account of each trial :-

The first table, that which contains the angle subtended by the mast-heads of the respective ships, as also their particular bearings at the commencement and at the conclusion of each trial, furnishes elements sufficient for those among our professional readers who may have leisure to construct their own diagrams; while the table of results affords to the uninitiated at one view the advantages that each ship had over the others. For instance, in trial No. 1, the Vanguard stands first; if the eye be carried along the line horizontally, it will be found that the name of the Superb follows, marked 352; that is, the Vanguard had the advantage of the Superb by 352 fathoms. Again, the Vanguard beats the Albion by 621 fathoms; the Queen by 729, and so on. The next ship is the Superb, and it will be seen that she beats the St. Vincent by 997 fathoms.

The mile is made up of 1,010 of these fathoms; 101 fathoms are taken as a cable's length; and 10 cables are considered a mile.

The degrees, under the heading "Inclination," in the table of results, show the heel of the ships, and from them the relative stability of the vessels is ascertained.

No. I.
MAY 15.

At llh. 30m., wind E. by S.; force of wind from 3 to 2, with a slight swell from the eastward; the signal was made to try rate of sailing, and the course to be steered was W. half N. The sail carried beside all plain sail was port lower, topmast, and topgallant studding sails, and starboard topgallant studding sails, with staysails. At 1 p.m., the wind veered to due east, when the staysails and spankers were taken in, the wind having fallen to 2 and 1½. The rate of sailing at starting was not more than from 3½ to 4 knots.

[table of bearings omitted]

 Ships' NamesSuperbAlbionQueenRodneySt. VincentTrafalgar
6St. Vincent-----1366
7Trafalgar (last)      


Before the trial of sailing took place, the line-of-battle ships of the squadron (except St. Vincent) exercised firing their cabin, ward-room, and gun-room guns from their stern ports with a view of ascertaining the effects of the concussion on the frame-work of the stem, as also the time required for clearing away the bulk-heads, &c. The effect produced by the concussion was in no instance material, although it was greater than if fired from broadside guns. The time taken varied from 30 minutes to an hour. The weather was fine, the swell very trifling, and therefore afforded no good opportunity of judging which of the ships could have fought them best in heavier weather. The trial of sailing was very uninteresting, except that the Rattler was decidedly the best of the steam-vessels. No firing took place on board them.

No. II.
MAY 16.

At 2 p.m. the lee division - namely, Queen, Rodney, and Superb - started under single-reefed topsails, royals, jibs and spankers, the wind S. by W., the course ordered west, force of wind 4 and freshening, with a little swell from the southward, St. Vincent jogging along under easy sail. At 4 h, 0m. P.m. the signal was made to tack, but the division being at least seven miles ahead, the masthead angles could not be depended on. At 4h. 30 m., Rodney being apparently the best ship, was ordered to tack, with a view of ascertaining if she could cross Queen's bows, Superb being unquestionably at the time the windward ship. Rodney, however, failed to do so, and the recall was then made.

The ships at starting were as under; viz.-

[table of bearings omitted]

From this it may be found that Superb at starting was 191 fathoms to leeward of St. Vincent, Rodney 324 fathoms, and Queen 354 fathoms, thus showing that on the present occasion there could have been no great difference in favour of either ship.

All the. Steamers except Rattler were found, missing to-day, as was also the Brilliant. Lat. In at noon, 49° 30' N; long., 7° 31' W.

No. III.
MAY 17.

To-day being Sunday, the squadron was ordered to keep station and make and shorten sail as necessary to do so. This proved an excellent mode of ascertaining what one ship could spare another. The wind was N.W., force good 7. The St. Vincent led the weather line, followed by Vanguard, Albion and Trafalgar. The Vanguard occasionally, and Albion constantly, spared the St. Vincent a mainsail. The Trafalgar was run nearly out of sight. The Queen led the lee line, followed by Rodney and Superb, the two latter sparing Queen their mainsails. At 2h. 30m. P.m. a general signal was made by the Commodore, "Has St. Vincent to day beaten Queen?" and each ship, including Queen, answered in the affirmative, the answers returned being, "most decidedly," "decidedly," "certainly," &c; not that there was the least doubt in any one's mind as to the result between Queen and St. Vincent, but that the opinions of the respective captains might be entered in the signal log as to the fact. The sail carried was single reefed topsails, but there was a cross swell from the southward, and whenever such is the case, or a head sea, Queen will be beaten by every ship, as occurred last year, when Trafalgar beat her under similar circumstances. Rattler did remarkably well under sail. The other steamers in company - namely Gladiator, Retribution, and Scourge (the latter three having rejoined) - did but little, and if they had been under steam would have done less, for the screws of the one, and the paddle-wheels of the other, would have been half the time out of water. In short, with the exception of Rattler, whose sailing qualities appear to have been much improved, the steamers have done nothing under sail, and have retarded the progress of the squadron considerably since leaving Portsmouth. If bound to an enemy's coast the sailing ships, in weather like to-day, would have dad to wait for them, and if they had been under steam on their arrival there they would have been useless for want of coals. Terrible, Cyclops, and Brilliant still keep out of sight, so their sailing qualities as yet remain untried.

Lat. In at noon, 48° 32' N.; long., 8° 25' W.

No. IV.
MAY 18.

To-day the wind has been from West to W. by N., blowing 7 and 8. At 11h. The weather division bore up, and formed line of battle in open order, on the lee column - an evolution well performed, the squadron generally under treble reefed topsails. At a little before noon, the lee division (now the leading one) wore in succession, and came to the wind on the port tack. At noon, the port or lee division again wore, as did also the weather division, and formed the prescribed order of sailing on the starboard tack. This closed the manoeuvring for the day. Towards evening the wind freshened, and the squadron jogged along under close reefed topsails.

Lat. In, 48° 44' N.; long., 8° 44' W.

No. V.
MAY 19.

At 10h, 30m. Rodney, Vanguard, Superb, and Albion, having previously run down to leeward between 6 and 7 miles, hauled to the wind, per signal, but the distance was too great for mast-head angles. The wind steady from S.W. by W., the St. Vincent under easy sail heading N.W. by W.; the force of wind was full 7, with a short head sea, and the sail carried at starting was single-reefed topsails, fore and main topgallant sails, jib, and spanker - a press of sail which on no other occasion has been carried. Scarcely had they started when Albion split her maintopsail; shortly afterwards Superb's main tack went, followed quickly by her maintopsail sheets and jib and spanker. The race was thus left to Rodney and Vanguard, and a more interesting one has never taken place. First, the ships were well matched; next, the sail carried was excessive; and lastly, both ships were handled beautifully. About the finish there can be no doubt; for, after having tacked, Vanguard passed across St. Vincent's bows about two cables' length distant, and when directly to windward was something less; Rodney stood on until within her own length of St. Vincent's lee beam, and would have passed through her, so to speak, when she was obliged to bear up a little and pass under her stern. It was just at the moment of putting her helm up that she looked most nobly - topgallant sails had been taken in, for the wind had considerably freshened, but the sail on the lee yardarm baffled her people for a long time, and was to be seen bagging away to leeward; it was a moment of intense anxiety, for a spoke of the wheel the wrong way, or the carrying away of a tiller rope, would have caused irreparable damage to both, and when her sails, which momentarily flapped while passing under St. Vincent's lee, caught the breeze again as she drew clear, her yards quivered like willow rods, and then resumed their arch-like form. The distance between the two ships in a direct line was now about 3 cables' length. Vanguard being that to windward. At starting from a mean of two or three mast-head angles that were taken on board St. Vincent by different observers, Rodney was found to be 10 cables' length to leeward of Vanguard ; but, as before mentioned, the distance was too great to admit of certainty. Vanguard makes Rodney 650 yards to leeward at starting, and claims a victory, but this cannot be from their positions at the finish. My own impression is that Rodney had the best of it; one thing, however, is very certain, that Vanguard pitched more heavily than Rodney, and that both ships must have had enough of that particularly agreeable motion. Shortly after the trial was over, the wind increased to 9, and the ships took in every thing but their close-reefed maintopsails, set fore and main staysails, main and mizen trysails, housed topgallant masts, and made all snug, Rattler, was the only one of the steamers in company, and she keeping her station admirably, and otherwise doing will.

Lat. In, 47° 52' N.; long., 8° 48' W.

No. VI.
MAY 20.

This day has been passed under a close-reefed maintopsail, fore and main staysails, main and mizen trysails; the wind W., blowing from 8 to 9, with a heavy sea on. Some observations were made to-day on the motion of the different ships in heavy weather. The result is that Albion rolled five times to Trafalgar's once, and rolled her main channels under, taking the sea in on her quarter-deck; in short, it was frightful to look at her. Superb rolled her main-deck ports in, and filled her ward-room from the officers' cabins. Vanguard rolled heavily, but not so much as Albion or Rodney. Queen was best of the Symonites. St. Vincent rolled 27" to starboard and 20° to port; was very easy, but shipped a good deal of water on her lower deck, from the new-fangled way of securing the ports with screws, instead of the old port-bar and forelock. Rodney behaved well, and, take her in every respect, is the best two-deck ship among us. Queen was obliged occasionally to set her reefed foresail, to prevent her falling off so much to leeward. Rattler, was the only one of the steamers with us, and making very good weather.

Lat. In, 48° 46' N.; long., 8° 52' W.

No. VII.
MAY 21.

The wind to-day has been blowing hard from the N.W., and the Superb was early ordered to look out to leeward and the Trafalgar to windward, the utmost sail they could carry being double-reefed topsails, whole courses, fore and main topgallant sails, jib and spanker; the remainder of the squadron under the same sail as yesterday, with a good deal of motion for the want of more (sail). The Brilliant was brought back among us to-day, and reported having seen two of the steamers on Tuesday, Rattler being the only one with us; the other five, viz., Terrible, Cyclops, Gladiator, Scourge, and Retribution, having come out to have their sailing qualities tested, are to be yet found ere they undergo that operation.

Lat. In, 48° N.; long., 9° 48' W.

MAY 22.

The wind and sea had considerably abated during the past night, so much so that St. Vincent in the forenoon exercised firing her middle and lower deck guns from her stern ports; the reason why she did not exercise before being owing to the dangerous illness of one of the men, who is now convalescent. It occupied one hour to remove bulkheads, &c., and 10 rounds from each of the four guns - namely, 2 in ward-room, and 2 in gun-room - making in all 40 discharges, were fired in 15 minutes. The effects of the concussion were more serious than those produced in the other ships, but it may in some degree be attributed to the loosening of the fastenings of some of the ornamental fittings of the stern, from the working of the ship during the last few days, and not altogether from the firing. As it was, however, she lost a great part of her stern ornaments during the exercise, and her stern galleries were loosened and suffered proportionally. Carpenters and joiners were called in to assist in putting matters in place again, from the other ships of the squadron, though many articles of glass and coarser material were found to be beyond repair. In short, this cruise will be a most expensive one to the Government; and an almost ruinous one to the officers' messes, by reason of the many breakages. Gladiator and Scourge rejoined the squadron this evening, Cyclops, Retribution, and Terrible being still misting. Too much praise cannot be given to Rattler for the way in which she has kept her station. The weather we have experienced has been just such as was wanted to test the steamers' sailing and other qualities; but their separation from the rest of the squadron has prevented most effectually the comparison from taking place, and it may be a long time now, before such another opportunity offers.

Lat. In, 48° 8' N.; long., 9° 08' W.

No. IX.
MAY 23.

The weather to-day has been tolerably fair: no evolutions, and nothing doing, save that Gladiator took eight hours to unship her floats, and the ships of the squadron had permission to communicate with each other.

MAY 24.

To-day there has been a nice breeze from the N.E., blowing 3 to 3½. In the morning, Trafalgar was ordered to look out to leeward, and Brilliant and Rattler to windward; the rest of the squadron in the prescribed order of sailing, in close order. St. Vincent and Queen equal; Superb better than Rodney; and Vanguard and Albion on a par, as far as sailing went; but the great feat of the day was Rattler beating Brilliant 2 miles to windward in 4 hours. It really was painful to see so noble looking a corvette do so badly. Query - would either of the other steamers have done half as much ? Every day proves more and more their inutility under sail alone.

May 23.- Lat. In, 47° 48' N.; long., 9° 38' W.
May 24.- Lat. In, 47° 47' N.; long., 8° 53' W.

No. X.
MAY 25.

To-day the weather has been fine, the water smooth, the wind from the N.E., blowing about 3. At 9h. 30m. The squadron exercised at general quarters, firing blank cartridge. As this was done principally to give the newly raised men an opportunity of reducing to real practice what they have been regularly drilled at without firing, since leaving Portsmouth, there is no room to say a great deal about it. Better kept-op firing will of course be attained, as soon as the men know more of the drill; and perhaps real firing more frequently with a few number of rounds would give them more confidence than going through the mere motions and at last expend all the powder allowed for exercise at one great battue. To-day three rounds from each ship was the prescribed allowance. "Terrible" and "Cyclops" are still missing.

Lat. In, 48° 10' N.; long., 9° 30' W.

No. XI.
MAY 26.

At 11h. 35m. A.m. Brilliant, Superb, and Rattler started on port tack, the wind N.E. Sail carried, single-reefed topsails, royals, and flying jib; with a slight swell from the northward, and the force of the wind from 4 to 4½.

[table of bearings omitted]

Ships' NamesSuperbRattler


This trial terminated very differently from what had been expected, and every one is at a loss in what way to account for it. Brilliant appeared to move without life, even her sails required to be set by signal from the Commodore, and yet by diagram and by eye she held the first place; Rattler Scourge, and Gladiator, the only steamers in company; the rest of the squadron in the prescribed order of sailing under double-reefed topsails and topgallantsails, St. Vincent maintaining a slight advantage over Queen.

Lat. In 48° 30' N., long. 10° 13' W.

No. XII.
MAY 27.

Last night, at 11 o'clock, the unusual sound of "Lash up hammocks," followed by beating to quarters, was heard, and the night signal to engage was hoisted at the mizen. Hammocks were up and stowed; stools, tables, &c., cleared away, and the first gun fired in 10 minutes. The time which elapsed between making the signal and firing the first gun was nearly as follows:- Number of rounds fired - three.

Time signal was made being at 11 p.m.

   h m  s    h m  s 
Queen, 1st gun at11 5 00ceased firing11 20 00
Vanguard, ditto11 5 30ditto11 17 30
Rattler, ditto11 6 20dittoat about
11h. 29m.
Superb, ditto11 6 30ditto
Rodney, ditto11 6 40ditto
Brilliant, ditto11 6 50ditto
Albion, ditto11 7 00ditto
Trafalgar, ditto11 7 30ditto
St. Vincent, ditto11 10 00ditto
Gladiator, ditto11 10 30ditto
Scourge, ditto11 12 00ditto


It is difficult to state precisely the time of finishing, but the above will be found not very wide of the truth. The particulars relative to St. Vincent were as follows:- At 11h. hammocks were piged up; in six minutes they were stowed, and the men at the upper deck quarters covering them. At 11h. 10m. the firing became general on the main and middle decks; at 11h. 17m. the guns on all the decks, except those in the cabins, ward-room, and gun-room, were in full play. At 11h. 27m. firing ceased, three rounds having been expended. At 11h. 50m. lower deck tables and stools having been replaced, the magazines secured, and decks swept, hammocks were piped down, and at 12 the watch was called. The effect was very pretty, the night fine, a little swell from the northward, and force of wind 3. The squadron was in the prescribed order of sailing, under double reefed-top-sails, foresail, maintrysail, and spanker. No accident is reported, and, taken altogether, it must be considered a very creditable performance. The Vanguard's firing was the best sustained. Trafalgar fired a running broadside admirably. Brilliant fired a broadside which told well, and the heavy guns of the steamers produced an involuntary shudder, as their deep report came booming along.

To-day has been passed very pleasantly; two of the squadron were sent to look out to windward, the other to leeward, but have not succeeded in picking up the stray sheep. We are crossing and re-crossing the spot fixed on for our rendezvous, but Cyclops, Retribution, and Terrible are no where to be found.

Lat. in 48° 24' N., long. 9° 18' W.

MAY 28,

At 8h. 30m. a.m., Queen and Albion started on port tack. Sail carried, whole topsails, royals, and flying jib. Force of wind 3, from E.N.E. to E. by N. ½ N., with a slight confused swell. St. Vincent and rest of squadron under single reefed topsails and topgallantsails, with jib and spanker. The steamers under the same sail.

[table of bearings omitted]


Albion beat Queen 1,783 fathoms, or 1¾ mile.


The trial excited but little interest to those who had witnessed the performances of these two ships on former, occasions. Albion, with a deck less than Queen, and consequently with less top hamper, and having a greater spread of canvass, ought at least to prove herself the better sailer. Rodney and Superb had a sort of trial on a S. by E. course, in which Rodney had an apparent advantage, for it can be only apparent when judged of at a distance of 6 or 7 miles. The object was more as a look-out than anything else, yet, after all the exertions made by the Commodore to find Retribution, Cyclops, and Terrible, they will not appear.

Lat. at noon, 48° 34' N., long., 9° 36" W.


The Gladiator steam-frigate, Captain Robb, arrived here this morning at daylight, from the squadron of evolution, which she left on the evening of the 29th, about 230 miles to the S.W. of this place. The squadron had experienced all the effects of the late gale, in which the Retribution parted company. The only steam-frigate that remained with the squadron was the Gladiator, and the Rattler and Scourge steam-sloops. On the night of the 15th the Cyclops, Terrible, and Brilliant parted company with the squadron, and the Retribution on the night of the 17th, in the gale of wind. The Scourge and Gladiator also parted company, but, on the same night with Brilliant, rejoined, and kept company with the squadron when the Gladiator left. The larger part of the steam squadron having parted company, there were few steam evolutions; indeed, when the Gladiator joined, she had the signal made to take off her paddle floats, as she is unable to disconnect her engine, and being obliged to drag the floats through the water, not only strains the engine a great deal, but requires a greater quantity of sail to be carried. Both Gladiator and Scourge appeared to have suffered a great deal during the gale, as they looked as if they had shipped some heavy seas, and their berthing and sponsons appeared to have started; one of the Gladiator's quarter-boats appeared to have been stove, but in other respects she appeared to have behaved very well, and joined the fleet in good order; and after having taken off her paddle-floats, sailed and kept company with the squadron under all sail, and certainly appeared by far the finest looking steam-frigate in the squadron; in proof of which it may be stated that with her paddle-floats shipped, and her engine connected, she kept company with the sailing-ships of the squadron when Terrible, Retribution, and Cyclops were obliged to part company, and take shelter in the gale from stress of weather. In making her passage to this place the Gladiator broke one of the brasses of the connecting rod of one of her air pumps, and was obliged to stop her engines, to discover the defective one, for four hours, but proceeded on her course, and came here with one engine only. She is a noble looking frigate, and is far lighter on the water than any we have seen here. The squadron may be expected here on the 2d or 3d inst.

Extract of another letter, dated Chops of the Channel, May 29:-
"I have only a moment to tell you that the squadron are 'all well' in the chops of the Channel, this 29th of May.
"St. Vincent - sails well.
"Queen - not so well as when Sir Baldwin Walker commanded her.
"Trafalgar - very badly.
"Superb - best.
"Rodney - not so well.
"Albion - better than Rodney.
"Vanguard - next to Superb.
"The Rattler, propelling steamer, is the only one that has been able to keep company with the sailing ships, all the others or most of them have been damaged. The Terrible lost her rudder, Retribution a paddle-box, Cyclops severely damaged; and you may confidently state that, except Rattler, not one of our steamers are fit for 'ocean work,' and they may retire to the Lakes, or into smooth water, as soon as they please. The Rattler has been on the weather bow of the Commodore, her station, every morning at daybreak without a miss. We have had many trials of sailing, in which the false keel and the skill of Captain Corry have made Superb the fleetest of the fleet, and in every evolution, by day or by night, the superior officers of the Superb have proved their superiority.
"The squadron go to Cork, land the marines, and astonish the natives. Then on a cruise - then to Bantry-bay - then to cruise - then to Spithead - then to cruise, and to Plymouth - another cruise - and lay up on the 1st of November, unless we should be wanted upon foreign service.
"I could have wished to have been more particular, but the signal for 'Letters to England' immediate, leaves me no more time."
We 3 June 1846


In consequence of the recent appointment of two captains to take the command of the squadron of evolution with the rank of Commodores, the Admirals intend calling a meeting to memorialize Her Majesty upon the indignity which they conceive has been put upon them by the Admiralty by those appointments, declaring that they are as efficient and as competent to lead a fleet to exercise or war as British Admirals ever were. The intention of the Admiralty to revive the system of promotion to Flag-Officers by selection is suspected, and the appointments of Commodores Collier and Bremer are considered as "feelers."
Th 4 June 1846We publish in another part of our impression of this day a series of communications from the squadron of evolution, which form a most striking contrast to the observations we had unfortunately occasion to make on the sluggish performances and inefficient command of the trial-squadron last year. On the present occasion the whole arrangement of the cruise, the nature of the evolutions, the evident improvement, in the ships' companies, and the masterly handling of the vessels, have produced most interesting, satisfactory, and instructive results.

The severe gale which blew in the Channel immediately after the squadron had left Spithead defeated one of the principal objects of this cruise, which was to try the powers of the large steamers under sail, and to put in practice some novel combinations of naval tactics produced by the union of first class steamers of war with a squadron of line-of-battle ships. But the accidental cause which frustrates this project and dispersed the principal steam portion of the fleet, has served to exhibit in a most striking light the vast inferiority of our best steamers to ships of the line at sea, and the inconveniences attached to this whole class of vessels. With the exception of the Rattler, which is, we believe, fitted at this time with WOODCROFT'S screw propeller, and which distinguished herself on all occasions, under sail as well as steam, the large steamers have proved huge incumbrances to the fleet. The Terrible and Cyclops were missing, for they had, in fact, put back into Plymouth to refit after the first gale; the Retribution, though less shaken by the gale, parted company on the 17th of May; and the Gladiator was the only steam-frigate that held on with the fleet, and upon her joining the signal was made to take off her paddle floats. The Devastation had proceeded at once on a particular service. As an experimental steam cruise the failure is complete, but it is all the more instructive. We have never affected to undervalue the importance of steam-vessels as auxiliaries to a fleet, more especially in operations near land, or in rivers, &c.; but it is clear that very large steamers constructed on the present system are comparatively useless at sea. If this fleet had been ordered to proceed to the coast of America on a rapid hostile expedition, or if it had been engaged in one of those terrible chases of an enemy's squadron which have so often tried the whole patience and energy of our seamen, the presence of the steamers would have defeated the object, they would have retarded the squadron, and perhaps proved useless for want of coals on their arrival at their destination. The Rattler, indeed, the only screw-propelled steamer of the squadron, must be excepted from these observations; and the experiment is highly favourable to that ingenious mode of applying steam power. But, generally speaking, the advantage has been in favour of the practical utility of small rather than of first-class steamers, and non of them have, as sea-going ships, the indispensable qualities of the man-of-war under canvass. This experiment has therefore greatly strengthened the conviction we have repeatedly expressed, in opposition to the doctrines of the Prince DE JOINVILLE, who holds that steam-vessels are destined to supersede the ancient bulwarks of the navy.

Commodore Sir Francis COLLIER deserves credit for the spirit and activity he has infused into the movements of the squadron during this cruise. The trial of the 19th of May between the Vanguard and the Rodney, which our correspondent has described with a sailor's enthusiasm, shows how completely the commanders of those fine ships and their gallant crews have now got them in hand. The night exercise at the guns on the 27th of May was performed with astonishing rapidity and precision. At 11 o'clock p.m. the order "Lash-up hammocks" was heard, followed by beating to quarters; in five minutes from that moment the Queen fired her first gun, and within seven minutes more the whole squadron had opened its fire, ending with the deep roar of the huge artillery of the Scourge. Three rounds were fired, and in less than an hour from the first signal the ships had resumed their former appearance, hammocks were piped down, and at midnight the watch was called.

The squadron will probably reach the Cove of Cork about the 9th of June, where some experiments will be made in landing the marines of the squadron, the field-pieces, and a large party of seamen on Spike Island; and another similar demonstration is also projected on Whiddy Island, in Bantry Bay, where the shore is more difficult of access. As, however, it is intended very shortly to re-assemble the whole squadron at Portsmouth, for several important reasons, these operations may possibly be postponed. We may hope that the evolutions of the combined steam-squadron and ships of the line will still be tried, as they may be applied with increased rather than diminished utility within reach of our coasts.

We trust that, to these pacific and inoffensive exercises, the strength of our navy may long be confined, and that the bare reputation of their power may suffice to shield the honour and interests of the country. But if, without our seeking fresh opportunities to raise the renown of British seamen, and in spite of the sincere efforts of a temperate policy to preserve the tranquillity of the world, we are driven to resort to more decided measures, we are proud to think that a finer squadron has never left our ports, and that it would be followed, if necessary, by reinforcements eager to attain the same degree of excellence. Meanwhile, the detachment of Sappers and Artillerymen who arc about to leave Woolwich, under the orders of Captain BLACKWOOD, for the purpose of strengthening the British forts in the Oregon territory, are ready to proceed on their destination, and they will take out with them stores, amply sufficient to provide for the defence of that province by the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company.


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