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SIEGE OF SANTA CRUZ.
91 choose such ships and officers as he thought proper. No troops were embarked; the seamen and marines of the squadron being thought sufficient. His orders were to make a vigorous attack; but on no account to land in person, unless his presence should be absolutely necessary. The plan was, that the boats should land in the night Jetween the fort on the N.E. side of Santa Cruz Bay and the town, make themselves masters of that fort, and then send a summons to the governor. By midnight, the three frigates, having the force on board which was intended for this debarkation, approached within three miles of the place; but owing to a strong gale of wind in the offing, and a strong current against them in shore, they were not able to get within a mile of the landing-place before daybreak; and then they were seen, and their intention discovered. Troubridge and Bowen, with Captain Oldfield, of the marines, went upon this to consult with the admiral what was to be done; and it was resolved that they should attempt to get possession of the heights above the fort. The frigates accordingly landed their men; and Nelson stood in with the line-of-battle ships, meaning to batter the fort, for the purpose of distracting the attention of the garrison. A calm and contrary current hindered him from getting within a league of the shore; and the heights were by this time so secured, and manned with such a force, as to be judged impracticable. Thus foiled in his plans by circumstances of wind and tide, he still considered it a point of honour that some attempt should be made. This was on the 22nd of July : he reembarked his men that night, got the ships on the 24th to anchor about two miles north of the town, and made show
as if he intended to attack the heights. At six in the evening, signal was made for the boats to prepare to proceed on the service as previously ordered.
When this was done, Nelson addressed a letter to the commander-in-chief—the last which was
ever written with his right hand. “I shall not,” said he,“ enter on the subject why we are not in possession of Santa Cruz.
Your partiality will give credit that all has hitherto been done which was possible, but without effect. This night I, humble as I am, command the whole, destined to land under the batteries of the town; and to-morrov: my
head will probably be crowned either with laure! or cypress. I have only to nmend Josiah Nisbet 'o you and my country. The Duke of Clarence, should i fall, will, I am confident, take a lively interest for my son-in-law, on his name being mentioned.” Perfectly aware how desperate a service this was likely to prove, before he left the Theseus he called Lieutenant Nishet, who had the watch on deck, into the cabin, that he might assist in arranging and burning his mother's letters. Perceiving that the young man was armed, he earnestly begged him to remain behind. “ Should we both fall, Josiah,” said he, “what would become of your poor mother? The care of the Theseus falls to you ; stay, therefore, and take charge of her.” Nisbet replied, “Sir, the ship must take care of herself; I will go with you to-night, if I never go again.”
He met his captains at supper on board the Seahorse, Captain Freemantle, whose wife, whom he had lately married in the Mediterranean, presided at table. At eleven o'clock the boats, containing between 600 and 700 men, with 180 on board the Fox cutter, and from seventy to eighty in a boat which had been taken the day before, proceeded in six divisions toward the town, conducted by all the captains of the squadron except Freemantle and Bowen, who attended with Nelson to regulate and lead the way to the attack. They were to land on the mole, and thence hasten. as fast as possible, into the great square ; then form, and proceed as should be found expedient. They were not discovered till about half-past one o'clock, when, being within half gun-shot of the landing-place, Nelson directed the boats to cast off from each other, give a huzzah, and push for the shore. But the Spaniards were excellently well prepared; the alarm-bells answered the huzzah, and a fire of thirty or forty pieces of cannon, with musketry from one end of the town to the other, opened
IS SHOT THROUGH THE ARM.
upon the invaders. Nothing, however, could check the intrepidity with which they advanced. The night was exceedingly dark, most of the boats missed the mole, and went on shore through a raging surf, which stove all to the left of it. The admiral, Freemantle, Thompson, Bowen, and four or five other boats, found the mole:; they stormed it instantly, and carried it, though it was defended, as they imagined, by four or five hundred men. Its guns, which were six-and-twenty pounders, wore spiked; but such a heavy fire of musketry and grape was kept up from the citadel and the houses at the head of the mole, that the assailants could not advance, and nearly all of them were killed or wounded.
In the act of stepping out of the boat, Nelson received a shot through the right elbow, and fell; but, as he fell, he caught the sword, which he had just drawn, in his left hand, determined never to part with it while he lived, for it had belonged to his uncle, Captain Suckling, and he valued it like a relic. Nisbet, who was close to him, placed him at the bottom of the boat, and laid his hat over the shattered arm, lest the sight of the blood, which gushed out in great abundance, should increase his faint
He then examined the wound, and, taking some silk handkerchiefs from his neck, bound them round tight above the lacerated vessels. Had it not been for this presence of mind in his son-in-law, Nelson must have perished. One of his bargemen, by náme Lovel, tore his shirt into shreds, and made a sling with them for the broken limb. They then collected five other seamen, by whose assistance they succeeded, at length, in getting the boat afloat ; for it had grounded with the falling tide. Nisbet took one of the oars, and ordered the steersman to go close under the guns of the battery, that they might be safe from its tremendous fire. Hearing his voice, Nelson roused himself, and desired to be lifted up in the boat, that he might look about him. Nisbet raised him up; but nothing could be seen except the firing of the guns on
ore, and what could be discerned by their
flashes upon the stormy sea. In a few minutes a general shriek was heard from the crew of the Fox, which had received a shot under water, and went down. Ninetyseven men were lost in her; eighty-three were saved, many by Nelson himself, whose exertions on this occasion greatly increased the pain and danger of his wound. The first ship which the boat could reach happened to be the Seahorse ; but nothing could induce him to go on board, Though he was assured that, if they attempted to row to another ship, it might be at the risk of his life. I had rather suffer death,” he replied, 6 than alarm Mrs. Freemantle, by letting her see me in this state, when I can give her no tidings whatever of her husband.” They pushed on for the Theseus. When they came alongside, he peremptorily refused all assistance in getting on board, so impatient was he that the boat should return, in hopes that it might save a few more from the Fox. He desired to have only a single rope thrown over the side, which he twisted round his left hand, saying, “ Let me alone; I have yet my legs left, and one arm.
Tell the surgeon to make haste and get his instruinents. I know I must lose my right arm ; so the sooner it is off the better.” *: The spirit which he displayed in jumping up the ship's side astonished everybody.
Freemantle had been severely wounded in the right arm, soon after the admiral. He was fortunate enough to find a boat at the beach, and got instantly to his ship. Thompson was wounded ; Bowen killed, to the great regret of Nelson; as was also one of his own officers, Lieutenant Weatherhead, who had followed him from the Agamemnon, and whom he greatly and deservedly esteemed. Troubridge, meantime, fortunately for his party, missed
* During the Peace of Amiens, when Nelson was passing through Salisbury, and received there with those acclamations which followed him everywhere, he recognised, amid the crowd, a man who had assisted at the amputation, and attended him afterwards. He beckoned him up the stairs of the Council House, shook hands with him, and made him a present, in remembrance of his services at that time. The man took from his bosom a piece of lace, which he had torn from the sleeve of the amputated limb, saying he had preserved, and would preserve it to the last moinent, in memory of his old comma er,
FAILURE OF THE ATTEMPT.
the mole in the darkness, but pushed on shore ander the batteries, close to the south end of the citadel. Captain Waller, of the Emerald, and two or three other boats, landed at the same time. The surf was so high that many others put back. The boats were instantly filled with water and stove against the rocks; and most of the ammunition in the men's pouches was wetted. Having collected a few men, they pushed on to the great square, hoping there to find the admiral and the rest of the force. The ladders were all lost, so that they could make no immediate attempt on the citadel ; but they sent a sergeant, with two of the town's people, to summon it. This messenger never returned ; and Troubridge, having waited about an hour in painful expectation of his friends, marched to join Captains Hood and Miller, who had effected their landing to the south-west. They then endeavoured to procure some intelligence of the admiral and the rest of the officers, but without success. By daybreak they had gathered together about eighty marines, eighty pikemen, and 180 small-arm seamen-all the survivors of those who had made good their landing. They obtained some ammunition from the prisoners whom they had taken, and marched on to try what could be done at the citadel without ladders. They found all the streets commanded by field-pieces and several thousand Spaniards, with about a hundred French, under arms, approaching by every avenue. Finding himself without provisions, the powder wet, and no possibility of obtaining either stores or reinforcements from the ships, the boats being lost, Troubridge, with great presence of mind, sent Captain Samuel Hood with a flag of truce to the governor, to say he was prepared to burn the town, and would instantly set fire to it if the Spaniards approached one inch nearer. This, however, if he were compelled to do it, he should do with regret, for he had no wish to injure the inhabitants; and he was ready to treat upon these terms--that the British troops should re-embark, with all their arms of every kind, and take their own boats, if they were saved,