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Persian armada had gradually assumed the shape of a complete circle, within which was enclosed their less numerous foes. The latter drew their line into a smaller circle with ' their prows facing the surrounding enemy, and then at the
signal darted forward like rays to pierce and break the wall • of ships that encompassed them.'* This proceeding was successful in preventing the Persians from gaining, what they believed would prove, an easy victory: and so vigorous was the first attack that thirty of their ships were sunk.
So persuaded were the Grecian admirals of the efficacy of ramming as a mode of attack, that they not unfrequently manæuvred deliberately to obtain a position from which the assault of their ships might be made with increased effect. They strove as it were to gain the weather-gage. In their attempts they were greatly aided by the excellent seamanship of many who served under them, and by their knowledge of the coasts near which they fought. At the great battle of Salamis, which was begun by the Athenian Ameinias ramming a Persian vessel, Themistocles deliberately delayed the battle till a breeze, which at a certain time regularly blew up the channel, had sprung up, and blowing fair and strong increased
of every ship's onslaught. The same tactics were followed by Phormio when, fifty years later, with only twenty galleys he attacked and conquered the Peloponnesian fleet of forty-seven. But even then a new period had begun, and a great action had already been fought on different principles. When the Greeks took to fighting amongst themselves the fierce spirit engendered by the social war could not brook the delay necessary for manæuvring to gain a windward position. Both sides were eager to rush forward and grapple with the enemy. Thus the engagement at Sybota between the Corinthians and Corcyræans resembled rather a battle on shore than a sea-fight. After the first onset the ships grappled and remained wedged together, and from their decks the crews contended with the weapons, and after the manner, of soldiers. The great naval manæuvre of the Greeks, the diecplus,t by which the enemy's line was suddenly pierced and the oars of his galleys swept away, was no longer, or but seldom, practised. Indeed, so completely does it seem to have fallen into disuse, that when the Athenians, twenty years after Sybota, met the Corinthians off the town of Erineus, the galleys of the former were not even constructed so as to deliver, or with
* Thirlwall, 'Hist. of Greece,' vol. ii. p. 280. † Ibid. vol. iii. p. 98.
stand, blows with the prow. The Corinthians, on the other hand—and even in our day it is not unimportant to mark this —had strengthened the prows of their galleys, so that when the hostile vessels met, those of the Athenians were stove in by the shock.
Throughout the remaining naval wars of antiquity the use of the sharp-beaked prow as a weapon became more and more exceptional
. The superior seamanship of the Carthaginian sailors seems to have induced them occasionally to revive the old ramming manæuvres. The practice, however, was apparently rare,
and the historian Livy deems worthy of special mention one galley which in a sea-fight off the Sicilian coast had her side shattered by a Carthaginian prow. The Romans, with far less nautical skill than their opponents, despaired of ever successfully adopting such tactics. They were fortunate in possessing an officer of sufficiently original genius to introduce an important innovation. Duilius, who was the first to be honoured by a naval triumph, hit upon an expedient which allowed him to avail himself of the unskilled valour of the Roman crews. He invented a machine for grappling a hostile vessel, that whilst two ships were locked in a firm embrace, his men might fight their enemies as they would on shore. Thenceforth the ancient sea-fights, as a rule, assumed the form of a series of manquvres to lay the enemy on board,' and fight it out hand-to-hand.
In spite, however, of this modification of the ancient tactics, the attack with the prow was, throughout the long history of the galley as a war-ship, occasionally adopted. No class of vessel has for so long a period remained the unquestioned type of the perfect ship of war. Between the destruction of the Ionian fleet off Ladé and the battle of Lepanto, the last great action fought exclusively by galleys, there was an interval of more than two thousand years. The invention of gunpowder even, and the introduction of artillery on board ship, had but a slow effect in altering the form of vessel devoted to the purpose of fighting: and galleys formed part, and no inconsiderable part, of many powerful navies even to the eighteenth century:
We have said that the attack with the prow was never altogether laid aside. In the thirteenth century, when the Pisan fleet under the Venetian Morosini met, for a second time at the island of Meloria, the numerous galleys of the Genoese, the leaders of the latter revived a manæuvre recommended by many an ancient precedent. A portion of the Genoese fleet so steered as to get to windward. “Thirty
Genoese galleys,' says Sismondi, driven impetuously by the ' wind, struck the Pisan fleet in flank; seven of their vessels were instantly sunk, twenty-eight were taken, —a prodigious loss which ruined the maritime power of Pisa. But in spite of rare and fitful revivals the newer tactics of grappling and boarding were almost invariably followed in the naval wars between the Genoese and Venetians, and between the Christians generally and the Turks. It was in the close fight with keen weapons that the true believer felt the greatest rapture; and neither his sentiments nor his skill were such as to lead him to perform intricate and elaborate manæuvres. The preliminary formation of fleets of galleys both for attack and defence continued to be in the main what it long had been. Even after guns were mounted on-board, the order of battle still was crescent-shaped. The guns of a galley, usually two or three in number, were mounted on her forecastle; and, like the most effective iron-clads of to-day, a great portion of her power consisted in her faculty of delivering a destructive bow fire. Thus, when drawn up in line of battle, a force of galleys still pointed, as a fleet of modern ships will in all probability also point, their bows towards the enemy. The formation at Lepanto differed only from the time-honoured crescent in being a line with its extremities thrown forward.
But the beak had ceased to be regarded as a weapon, and the use of artillery afloat rendered it before long a rare appendage to a war-galley. Its form and representative was retained, and in some Mediterranean craft may even yet be seen, but it was only as an ornament or as a convenient protuberance to support some portion of the rigging or equipment of the vessel.
Whilst such tactics were in vogue in the Mediterranean, a system not dissimilar was being followed, though with a different class of ships, elsewhere. English seamen had been accustomed, whilst confronting the dangers of their tempestuous seas, to depend rather upon the sail than the oar.
The galley therefore never obtained any special favour in this country; besides, too, the men who manned our early fleets were warlike and free, and could have but ill supplied the place of the wretched slaves who toiled laboriously and ingloriously at the oar.* The great fleet in which Edward III. and many noble earls and gallant knights fought against the French at Sluys,
The galleys which Richard Cæur de Lion led to the Holy Land were probably largely engaged or hired within the Mediterranean. We are told that his great ships had a crew of only fourteen sailors.
stood off, we read, on the starboard tack and maneuvred to gain, not the wind, but the advantage of having the sun at its back. When the ships turned upon the pursuing French, the English grappled with their antagonists, and hatchets, lances,
swords, and every available weapon, found full employment. ' So, too, in the fight between Pembroke and the Spaniard Ruy Diaz de Roxas near Rochelle, though cannon almost for the first time in sea-fights was then used, the same mode of attack prevailed; and Pembroke was made prisoner after his ship had
; been laid aboard by four vessels of the enemy. The unsettled weather of the English Channel sometimes gave startling proof of the unsuitability of the war-galley for a campaign in these latitudes. The stout Castilian, Pedro Niño," who led three galleys to our coasts, on which he did much damage, on sighting some English ships, said to a companion, . There are the • English ; the sea is calm ; let us have at them. The attack at first proved nearly successful; but, a fresh breeze springing up, the galleys were compelled to make off.
The great impulse given to maritime enterprise in the sixteenth century led to the introduction of two almost contemporaneous inventions—the rig, which was the immediate pre cursor of that of our own times, and the broadside armament. Henceforward naval actions were made more and more to depend upon real seamanship and distant firing. This marked the beginning of an entirely new tactical period. The prim formations of the ancient feets were no longer observed. Formal tactics were almost entirely discarded, and general actions resolved themselves frequently into a series of Homeric combats between single ships. A contemporary account declares the Spanish Armada, when first attacked by Howard's vessels, to have been formed in order of battle. It is probable that the only order maintained was a simple order of sailing. The only tactics followed by the English captains who fought with that great force were those of audacity. Howard's phrase, “ busselynge [bustling] with them,' exactly expresses the real style of the fighting in the Channel. By some, the merit of introducing a very peculiar tactical
* In the days of this hidalgo, Mr. Vernon Harcourt's opinions upon the possibility of invasion seem to have been largely held by our ancestors; the old Castilian chronicler, Gamez, a companion of Pedro Niño, says of the English, 'son cercados de mar, por lo que no han • miedo de ninguna otra nacion.' (De Vargas y Ponce, Vida de Don Pedro Niño, Madrid, 1807, p. 48 note.) The achievements of this worthy have been more fully related in the Victorial,' which was reviewed in this Journal, No. 266 (October 1869).
manæuvre, the use of fire-ships, has been ascribed to Queen Elizabeth. They were used at Calais against the ships of the Armada undoubtedly at her suggestion ; but Pedro Niño had many years before converted a small vessel or boat into a fireship, in his contest with the English which is recounted above. The Englishman Cross, at the Azores, in 1592, was one of the earliest to avail himself of a man@uvre, frequently resorted to in later times, viz. that of raking an enemy's ship. As he • hauled up' under the stern of a carrack he poured in a broadside.
Many years were yet to elapse before the occupation of the naval officer was to be elevated into a distinct profession, or the navy to be recognised as a distinct branch of the public service.
The young gallants of the Court who flocked to Howard's squadron brought to their chief's assistance a plentiful stock of courage, but little experience or skill, . The organisation of his force was necessarily very rude and imperfect. He seems to have appointed his own vice-admirals. The selections he made were those of brave and experienced men. He roughly divided his ships into four squadrons or divisions, being guided in the distribution probably by local considerations, ships hailing from the same port in general being stationed near one another. Signalling was then scarcely invented, and orders had to be transmitted by the cumbrous and inconvenient method of sending them by messengers in boats.
The early part of the seventeenth century witnessed the dawn of another tactical period. Amongst English seamen it was felt not only that the old system was extinct, but that it was fitting that it should be formally declared to have passed away. The favourite, Buckingham, had been appointed by James I., Lord High Admiral, in 1619. To that appointment we owe the origin of the Board of Admiralty. To cover • the incapacity of his favourite the King nominated a council of men of rank, of great naval experience, without whose * advice no affairs or importance were to be undertaken.'* In the minute Instructions then issued for the government of the navy, we find the following passage, which is of some tactical significance :
Experience teacheth how sea-fights in these days come seldom to boarding, or to great execution of bows, arrows, small shot and the sword, but are chiefly performed by the great artillery breaking down masts, yards, tearing, raking, and bilging the ships, wherein the great advantage of His Majesty's navy must carefully be maintained by