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Passage of the Sound.
vessels, and the city, embellished with Gothic towers and lofty spires, spread out in all its magnificence.
It had long been a received opinion that the possession of Cronenborg Castle gave the Danes an uncontrolled command of the passage of the Sound. The Danes, trusting too much to the strength of this fortress, and relying on the co-operation of the Swedes at Helsingborg, had neglected by floating batteries to render the approach of the English fleet more difficult. On the morning of the 30th, the admiral made the signal to weigh and to form the order of battle. Nelson had shifted his flag on the preceding day from the St. George to the Elephant, 94, commanded by his old friend, Captain Foley, that he might have the advantage of a lighter ship for future operations. The nomination of the conqueror of Aboukir to lead the van division was regarded as a sure presage of victory, and diffused a spirit of confidence and emulation, which the name of Nelson never failed to excite among British seamen. Sir Hyde Parker, with his division in the rear, formed a corps of reserve. Such was the alacrity displayed in the execution of the admiral's orders, that, at halfpast six, the Monarch, which had been appointed to lead the fleet, was abreast of the Danish batteries, which commenced a heavy fire from their whole range. It was immediately returned by some of the leading ships, but they soon desisted, on perceiving that they were beyond the reach of the enemy's guns, which kept up a continued blaze during the passage of the fleet. "The Swedish batteries fired not a single shot, so that, by half-past ten, every ship had passed the Sound without the slightest accident, except the bursting of one of the guns of the Isis, by which six ur seven of her crew were killed and wounded.
The whole fleet came to an anchor about noon, between the island of Huen and Copenhagen; and im
Preparations for the Attack of Copenhagen.
mediately afterwards Sir Hyde Parker, Lord Nelson, Captain Fremantle, Colonel Stewart, the captain of the fleet, and Captain Fyers, acting engineer to the expedition, went in a lugger to reconnoitre the enemy's force. The Danes opened a heavy fire on them, but they persevered in sounding till they were satisfied, and then returned to their respective ships.
The night of the 30th was employed by some of the most intelligent masters and pilots, under the direction of Captain Brisbane, in ascertaining the two channels around an extensive shoal, in front of the Danish capital, called the Middle Ground, and in laying down fresh buoys, the former ones having been either removed or displaced by the Danes. Next day, the fleet weighed from the island of Huen, and stood close in. The commander-in-chief and Lord Nelson proceeded in the Amazon frigate, Captain Riou, to examine the North Channel, and the enemy's flotilla from the eastward, and after a survey of some hours returned to the fleet. A council of war was held in the afternoon, and it was deemed advisable that the attack should be made from the eastward. Nelson offered his services to conduct it, requiring ten line of battle ships, and the whole of the smaller vessels. The commander-in-chief gave him two more line of battle ships than he demanded, and left all the ar. rangements to his own discretion. The night of the 31st was employed, as the preceding, in ascertaining, even by buoy-lights, the course of the upper channel under Nelson's immediate directions. On completing this business, he exclaimed: “Thank God, for having enabled me to get through this difficult and fatiguing part of my duty, which has really worn me down, and is infinitely more grievous to me than any resistance I can experience from an enemy!”
In the afternoon of the 1st of April, the division destined for the attack, consisting of twelve sail of
Position of the Danish Line of Defence.
the line, four frigates, three sloops, two brigs, six bomb-vessels, and two fire-ships, took their departure from the main body of the fleet, then lying about four miles below Copenhagen. Nelson, accompanied by a few chosen friends, had that morning made his last observations in the Amazon, and, on his return to the Elephant, threw out the wished-for signal to weigh. The shout with which it was received throughout the division was heard to a great distance. The gallant Riou led the way in the Amazon ; the ships then weighed, and followed in succession through the narrow channel, coasting along the outer edge of the Middle Ground, until they doubled its farthest extremity, where they brought up. This shoal, of the same extent as the sea front of the city, lies exactly before it at the distance of about three quarters of a mile. In the intermediate channel, called the King's Channel, which has deep water, the Danes had arranged their line of defence as near the town as possible. It consisted of nineteen ships and floating batteries, flanked, at the extremity of the city, by two artificial islands at the mouth of the harbour, occupied by the Three Crowns Batteries; and it extended for a mile along the front of the town, leaving intervals for the batteries on the shore to play. About dark the whole fleet was at its anchorage off Draco Point, the headmost of the enemy's line being not more than two miles distant. As the Elephant let go her anchor, Nelson emphatically exclaimed : “I will fight them the moment I have a fair wind !” The small extent of the anchoring ground caused the ships to be much crowded; and, had the enemy taken advantage of this circumstance, they might have done the greatest mischief by means of shells from mortar-boats, or from Amak Island : two or three thrown during the evening served to show that the British ships were within their range. The Danes, Nelson's Preparations for Action. however, were too busily engaged during this night in manning their ships and strengthening their line of defence, not, as they afterwards admitted, from immediate expectation of attack, because they conceived the channel to be impassable for so large a squadron, but as a precaution against its nearer approach. Guard-boats were actively employed between our ships and the enemy, and Captain Hardy even rowed to their headmost ship, sounding round her with a pole, when he was apprehensive that the dropping of the lead might be heard. His chief object was to ascertain the bearing of the eastern extremity of the Middle Shoal, which actually proved to be the greatest obstacle that the assailants had to encounter.
The signal to prepare for action was made early in the evening, and, as soon as the fleet was at anchor, Nelson sat down to table with a large party of his comrades in arms. He was in the highest spirits, and drank “to a leading wind and to the success of the ensuing day." Admiral Graves, his lordship's second in command, Captains Foley, Hardy, Fremantle, Riou, Inman, and some other officers to whom he was particularly attached, were of this party, which broke up with feelings of admiration for their leader, and impatience to follow him to the approaching conflict. All the captains retired to their respective ships excepting Riou, with whom and Foley his lordship then arranged the order of battle, and drew up the instructions which were to be issued to each ship on the following morning. While dictating these instructions, Nelson was so exhausted by the fatigues of the three preceding days, that it was recommended to him by the officers, and indeed insisted upon by his old servant, Allen, who assumed much authority on such occasions, that he should go to his cot. It was placed on the cabin-deck for the purpose, and from it he continued to dictate. About
His Instructions to his Captains.
eleven, Captain Hardy returned and reported the practicability of the channel, and the depth of water up to the ships of the enemy's line. The orders were completed about one o'clock, when half a dozen clerks in the foremost cabin proceeded to copy them. Nelson's impatience would not let him sleep, as he now might have done; every half hour he was calling out from his cot to these clerks 'to make haste, for the wind was becoming fair; of which he was constantly receiving a report during the night. Their work being finished about six in the morning, his lordship, who was then up and dressed, breakfasted, and about seven made the signal for all captains, to whom the instructions were delivered.
The admiral's instructions form a document too important to be omitted :
* As Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson cannot with precision mark the situation of the different descriptions of the enemy's floating batteries and smaller vessels lying between their two-decked ships and hulks, the ships which are opposed to the floating batteries, &c. &c. will find their stations, by observing the stations of the ships' to be opposed to the two-decked ships and hulks.
LINE OF BATTLE.
Are to lead in fire in passing on to Glatton,
succession. their stations.
Agamemnon, “ The Edgar to anchor abreast of No. 5 (a sixtyfour gun ship, hulk). The Ardent to pass the Edgar, and anchor abreast of No. 6 and 7. The Glatton to pass the Ardent, and anchor abreast of No. 9, (a sixty-four gun ship, hulk). The Isis to anchor abreast of No. 2, (a sixty-four gun ship, hulk). The Agamemnon to anchor abreast of No. 1.