HC Deb 02 June 1854 vol 133 cc1234-6

wished to call the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to the reports that were in circulation from the fleet in the Baltic, and asked whether he was prepared to state to the House the nature of any despatches which he had received from the Baltic?


The Admiralty received to day a despatch from Sir Charles Napier, dated the 23rd of Mar, off Hango, where he was at anchor, with eight sail of the line and some smaller vessels, in the Bay of Hango. at the entrance of the Gulf of Finland. He sends an account of an exploit, which, though not on a large scale, is yet a very gallant feat of arms performed by one of Her Majesty's frigates and a small steamer. It appears that on the 21st of May they heard of three large Russian merchantmen in an inlet about ten miles inland, and placed under the fire of a fortress of very considerable strength. A steam frigate the Arrogant, commanded by Captain Yelverton, and a small steamer, the Hecla, under the cominand of an officer very wellknown to the House and the country—I mean Captain Hall, formerly better known as Captain Nemesis for his distinguished conduct in China; these vessels proceeded up the inlet, which is very narrow, and the latter part of it under the fire of musketry from a considerable military force on shore. Captain Hall cut out, under the fire of the battery, and within 400 yards of it, the only one of the three merchantmen that was afloat, and brought it off, having triumphantly executed the duty on which he was despatched. Sir Charles Napier observes, that this is an exploit worthy of the British arms in the best times of our naval history. And what must he particularly satisfactory to the House is, that, notwithstanding the doubts that were entertained whit regard to the manning of the British Navy. Captain Hall received his appointment only three months ago, and the Hecla was one of the last ships commissioned. He manned the ship in a very short time, and with a very considerable proportion of what might be called landsmen. If I had been called on to mention the ship in Her Majesty's service that was least perfectly manned, I should have named the Hecla; yet such is the character of British seamen, that the execution of this daring exploit has been performed in a most brilliantand successful manner. Sir Charles Napier adds, that on the following day, in an attack on two forts, the conduct of two others of Her Majesty's ships was very distinguished; and the whole state of the fleet was reported by Sir Charles Napier as most satisfactory. The French fleet had nut joined. It was expected to join in five or six days from the 23rd; and by, this time I have no doubt the French and English fleet combined are in the Gulf of Finland, forming twenty-eight sail-of-the- line, with frigates and other vessels in proportion.