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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 19th, 2013, 1:12 pm

Here's a rough outline of the West India Campaign that I cooked up last night from a few various sources.

In 1791 then slave revolt that would lead to the Haitian revolution occurred, Spain would be knocked out of the island first, then the small British contingent would leave and then eventually in 1804 the French lost it too.
Between 1795 and 97 General Ralph Abercromby mounted a successful campaign against the French with 33,000 men, seizing St Lucia and making John Moore governor. 
Napoleon had kept up a long range attempt to control the situation in the West Indies, but it worked about as well as the Peninsular War. Seeing that he could not control the vast territories of Luisaina and the beleaguered colonies Napoleon sold Louisiana, bought from Spain in 1800, to president Jackson for $15M in April 1803 with Interest this became 27M, working out to five cents an acre. 
The Peace of Amiens reversed many British successes in the Caribbean, they surrendered all previously annexed territory, retaining only Trinidad. When war broke out again the British wanted the Spice Islands all back, and
Admiral Sam Hood, then commissioner in Trinidad was given the job. He had six frigates and two ships of the line Centaur and Blenheim, he decided to start by attacking St Lucia. It was attacked on 21 June and fell in two days, then Tobago fell, now Hood went for the Dutch, and by September Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice were taken. Meanwhile Commodore Loring was blockading the last French strongholds on Hispaniola. In a fatal move Napoleom had revoked the emancipation of slavery amd reintroduced it in French colonies. The last of the French on Haiti was now squeezed between the RN and the black armies holding out in a few ports and disintegrated by desertion. many surrendered to the British, by 1803 all the French were gone and in 1 Jan 1804 it became the Free Black Republic of Haiti.
Hood then seized Diamond Rock, a tall natural fortress a mile off Martinique that controlled the shipping lanes. On the 7th January 1804 the position was taken, and then was fortified with heavy gun batteries, allowing the British to blockade the island and a harass shipping for miles around
 In January 1805 Admiral Missiesy escaped from Brest with five Ships of the Line three frigates and two brigs carrying 35,000 troops and sailed to Port Royal Martinique offloaded his sick, he himslef was unwell, and raided Roseau Captiol of Dominica, French raids also ravaged St Kitts Nevis and Montserrat, however with such small resources he could never hold his prizes, just as the British had no resources to oppose these reinforcemnts. Hearing that a British fleet was coming and that Admiral Villeneauve was still at Toulon Missiesy sailed back to Europe having failed to take a single island, much to Napoleon's fury.
However Villeneauve did break out on 14 March 1805, he arrived in Martinique  in May, with Nelson far behind in the chase V decided to retale Diamond Rock, on 31 May the French Warships began bombarding the position and after gallant resistance from Commander Maurice the garrison surrendered on the 2nd of June. V now decided to try and capture Antigua and Barbuda but the capture of a suger convoy on the 8th of June told him that Nelson's fleet had arrived in the Caribbean and two days later V sailed for Europe on the road to Trafalger.
In 1805, a French Squadron out of Brest was defeated at Santo Domingo by Admiral Duckworth. two months after Trafalger.
In 1807 Britian abolished the slave trade.
In 1809 General George Beckwith concentrated all available forces and attacked Martinique taking it in a matter of weeks, it was here that two French Eagles that were being stored there were captured, his timing had been good, French reinforcements had gotten stuck in Basque Roads and had been attacked by Thomas Cochranes rocket ships, and the Spanish uprising against France now isolated the French colonies still further. Local Spanish allies helped Rear Admiral Alexander Cochrane take French Haiti by early June, now Guadaloupe was alone.
On 22 Jan 1810 The transports sailed from Port Royal Matinique with the invasion frocd for G and arrived at Pricne Ruperts Bay Guadeloupe, under Beckwith and Cochrane. 6,700 men divided into five brigades and two divisions and a reserve, from Prince Ruperts bay the fleet split up on the 26th, the 2nd division sailed to Saintes arriving the same day, while the 1st Div  amd reserve with the CinC sailed for Gosier Bay or Roadstead on the southern part of Guadeloupe called Gran Terre, landings were made quickly and were uncontested, 1st, reserve and 2nd Dovisions now advanced trapping the French in a pincer. After the battle of Matabar on the 3rd Feb The island of Guadeloupe fell, 1810 marked that naval supremacy was secured in West Indies, as the French had lost all their bases there and the situation was largley irrecoverable without drastic actions and reinforcements from Europe.

Josh.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby rjwmorrell » October 31st, 2013, 6:05 am

I am currently drafting a manuscript covering my four naval ancestors, at least two of whom spent time in the West Indies.

When the French fled Haiti in 1803, an ancestor of mine sailed on one of the surrendered ships, Clorinde, if I recall, back to Jamaica. Later, he was on HMS La Pique when it took part in an abortive attempt to take Curacao. The occupation lasted about a month before dysentery took it's toll and the British quit the island (it would be retaken a few years later).

A few more years saw him wrecked off Nassau, and later still, given command of a pinnace belonging to another ship, which captured a French ship making for a port. By 1811 he was a lieutenant and on his way back to England after nine years in the Indies.

I've come up with some remarkable stories, but sadly it's very difficult to find good primary sources. The only journal or ship's log I have located written by him was much later, in 1818, during one of the first Arctic voyages of discovery.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 31st, 2013, 12:16 pm

Welcome to the forum!

It is a shame there are so few good accounts of the campaigns in the West Indies.

Josh.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » October 31st, 2013, 8:03 pm

A warm welcome to the forum. There also seem to be fewer primary naval documents than from those serving on land.

Sarah
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby rjwmorrell » February 7th, 2014, 4:17 pm

As I also posted here: http://www.napoleonicwarsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=2003, I will be going to Curaçao next month and plan to visit some of the forts, many of which are preserved, and track down some of the local museums.

Although my interest in mainly the brief British occupation in 1804 in which my ancestor took part, I am happy to entertain any requests for research or photos while I am there.
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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby PaulC » May 8th, 2014, 8:30 pm

An interesting facet about the war in the West Indies was that it generated many thousands of prisoners of war for the depots in Britain, who often arrived here in large batches of many thousands at a time. These included many civilians who lived in the French colonies and just happened to be in the way of British forces when they landed. When the war came to an end in 1814, these prisoners were released and shipped across the Channel to France, where no doubt those civilians must have found it rather galling to have to find their own way back home to the Caribbean.

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Re: West Indies Campaign 1804-1810

Postby Josh&Historyland » May 10th, 2014, 7:02 pm

Nice addition, that's quite a journey for prisoners to make!

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