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him. Fear for the event, in such circumstances, would naturally preponderate in the bravest mind; and, at one o'clock, perceiving that after three hours' endurance the enemy's fire was unslackened, he began to despair of
“I will make the signal of recal,” said he to his captain, “ for Nelson's sake. If he is in a condition to continue the action successfully, he will disregard it ; if he is not, it will be an excuse for his retreat, and no blame can be imputed to him.” Captain Domett urged him at least to delay the signal till he could communicate with Nelson; but, in Sir Hyde's opinion, the danger was too pressing for delay. “The fire," he said, “was too hot for Nelsou to oppose; a retreat he thought must be made. He was aware of the consequences to his own personal reputation, but it would be cowardly in him to leave Nelson to bear the whole shame of the failure, if shame it should be deemed.” Under a mistaken judgment,* therefore, but with this disinterested and generous feeling, he made the signal for retreat.
Nelson was at this time in all the excitement of action, pacing the quarter-deck. A shot through the mainmast knocked the splinters about; and he observed to one of his officers with a smile, “It is warm work; and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment;" and then, stopping short at the gangway, added, with emotion, But, mark you! I would not be elsewhere for thousands.” About this time the signal-lieutenant called out, that No. 39 (the signal for discontinuing the action) was thrown out by the commander-in-chief. He continued to walk the deck, and appeared to take no notice of it. The signal-officer met him at the next turn, and asked if he should repeat it. "No," he replied ; “ acknowledge it."
Presently he called after him to know if the signal for close action was still hoisted; and, being answered in the affirmative, said, “ Mind you keep it so.”
* I have great pleasure in rendering this justice to Sir Hyde Parker's reasoning. The fact is here stated upon the highest and most unquestionable authority.
BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN.
paced the deck, moving the stump of his lost arm in a manner which always indicated great emotion. “Do you know," said he to Mr. Ferguson, “what is shown on board the commander-in-chief ? No. 39 !” Mr. Ferguson asked what that meant. Why to leave off action !" Then, shrugging up his shoulders, he repeated the words, “ Leave off action ! Now, damn me if I do! You know, Foley,” turning to the captain, “I have only one eye; I have a right to be blind sometimes ;” and then putting the glass to his blind eye, in that mood of mind which sports with bitterness, he exclaimed, “I really do not see the signal!" Presently he exclaimed, “Damn the signal ! Keep mine for closer battle flying! That's the way I answer such signals ! Nail mine to the mast!" Admiral Graves, who was so situated that he could not discern what was done on board the Elephant, disobeyed Sir Hyde's signal in like manner, whether by fortunate mistake, or by a like brave intention, has not been made known. The other ships of the line, looking only to Nelson, continued the action. The signal, however, saved Riou’s little squadron, but did not save its heroic leader. This squadron, which was nearest the commander-in-chief, obeyed, and hauled off._It had suffered severely in its most unequal contest. For a long time the Amazon had been firing, enveloped in smoke, when Riou desired his men to stand fast and let the smoke clear off, that they might see what they were about. A fatal order; for the Danes then got clear sight of her from the batteries, and pointed their guns with such tremendous effect, that nothing but the signal for retreat saved this frigate from destruction. “ What will Nelson think of us !" was Riou's mournful exclamation, when he unwillingly drew off. He had been wounded in the head by a splinter, and was sitting on a gun encouraging his men, when, just as the Amazon showed her stern to the Trekroner battery, his clerk was killed by his side, and another shot swept away several marines, who were hauling in the main brace.
“Come, then, my boys !” cried Riou, “ let us all
die together!" The words had scarcely been uttered before a raking shot cut him in two. Except it had been Nelson himself, the British navy could not have suffered a severer loss.
The action continued along the line with unabated vigour on our side, and with the most determined resolution on the part of the Danes. They fought to great advantage, because most of the vessels in their line of defence were without masts; the few which had any standing had their topmasts struck, and the hulls could only be seen at intervals. The Isis must have been destroyed by the superior weight of her enemy's fire, if Captain Inman, in the Desirée frigate, had not judiciously taken a situation which enabled him to rake the Dane, and if the Polyphemus had not also relieved her. Both in the Bellona and the Isis many men were lost by the bursting of their guns. The former ship was about forty years old, and these guns were believed to be the same which she had first taken to sea ; they were, probably, originally faulty, for the fragments were full of little airholes. T'he Bellona lost seventy-five men; the Isis, one hundred and ten; the Monarch, two hundred and ten. She was more than any other line-of-battle ship exposed to the great battery, and, supporting at the same time the united fire of the Holstein and the Zealand, her loss this day exceeded that of any single ship during the whole war.
Amid the tremendous carnage in this vessel, some of the men displayed a singular instance of coolness. The pork and peas happened to be in the kettle; a shot knocked its contents about; they picked up the pieces, and ate and fought at the same time.
The Prince Royal had taken his station upon one of the batteries, from whence he beheld the action and issued bis orders. Denmark had never been engaged in so arduous a contest, and never did the Danes more nobly display their national courage--a courage not more unhappily than impoliticly exerted in subserviency to the interest of France. Captain Thura; of the Indfoedsretten,
BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN.
fell early in the action ; and all his officers, except one lieutenant and one marine officer, were either killed or wounded. In the confusion the colours were either struck or shot away; but she was moored athwart one of the batteries in such a situation that the British made no attempt to board her, and a boat was despatched to the prince to inform him of her situation. He turned to those about him, and said, “Gentlemen, Thura is killed ; which of you will take the command ?" Schroedersee, a captain who had lately resigned on account of extreme ill-health, answered, in a feeble voice, “I will !” and hastened on board. The crew, perceiving a new commander coming alongside, hoisted their colours again, and fired a broadside. Schroedersee, when he came on deck, found himself surrounded by the dead and wounded, and called to those in the boat to get quickly on board : a ball struck him at that moment. A lieutenant, who had accompanied him, then took the command, and continued to fight the ship. A youth of seventeen, by name Villemoes, particularly distinguished himself on this memorable day. He had volunteered to take the command of a floating battery, which was a raft, consisting merely of a number of beams nailed together, with a flooring to support the guns ; it was square, with a breast-work full of port-holes, and without masts, carrying twenty-four guns, and one hundred and twenty men. With this he got under the stern of the Elephant, below the reach of the sternchasers; and, under a heavy fire of small-arms from the marines, fought his raft till the truce was announced with such skill, as well as courage, as to excite Nelson's warmest admiration.
Between one and two the fire of the Danes slackened ; about two it ceased from the greater part of their line, and some of their lighter ships were adrift. It was, however, difficult to take possession of those who struck, because the batteries on Amak Island protected them; and because an irregular fire was kept up from the ships themselves as the boats approached. This arose from the
nature of the action. The crews were continually reinforced from the shore ; and fresh men coming on board, did not inquire whether the flag had been struck, or, perhaps, did not heed it ; many, or most of them, never having been engaged in war before-knowing nothing, therefore, of its laws, and thinking only of defending their country to the last extremity. The Danbrog fired upon the Elephant's boats in this manner, though her commodore had removed her pendant and deserted her, though she had struck, and though she was in flames. After she had been abandoned by the commodore, Braun fought her till he lost his right hand, and then Captain Lemming took the command. This unexpected renewal of her fire made the Elephant and Glatton renew theirs, till she was not only silenced, but nearly every man in the praams, ahead and astern of her, was killed. When the smoke of their guns
away, she was seen drifting in flames before the wind ; those of her crew who remained alive, and able to exert themselves, throwing themselves out at her port-holes.
Captain Rothe commanded the Nyeborg praam; and, perceiving that she could not much longer be kept afloat, made for the inner road. As he passed the line, he found the Aggershuus praam in a more miserable condition than his own; her masts had all gone by the board, and she was on the point of sinking. Rothe made fast a cable to her stern, and towed her off ; but he could get her no further than a shoal called Stubben, when she sank ; and soon after he had worked the Nyeborg up to the landingplace, that vessel also sank to her gunwale. Never did any vessel come out of action in a more dreadful plight. The stump of her foremast was the only stick standing; her cabin had been stove in ; every gun, except a single one, was dismounted ; and her deck was covered with shattered limbs and dead bodies.
By half-past two the action had ceased along that part of the line which was astern of the Elephant, but not with the ships ahead and the Crown Batteries. Nelson, seeing