Sir William Hoste

Captain Sir William Hoste, 1st Baronet KCB (1780–1828) was a protege of Lord Nelson and became one of the great frigate captains of the Napoleonic wars, taking part in six major actions including the capture of a heavily fortified port.

Hoste was educated for a time at King's Lynn and later at the Paston School in North Walsham, where Horatio Nelson himself had been to school some years previously. Dixon Hoste had arranged for Hoste's name to be entered in the books of HMS Europa as a Captain's servant when he was just 5 years old, although he would not actually go to sea until he reached the age of 12 or 13.That time coincided with the outbreak of war with France in 1793 and through his fathers contacts he joined HMS Agamemnon, Captain Horatio Nelson.

Hoste stayed with Nelson through his various ships and battles, until after the Battle of the Nile he gave him command of the brig HMS Mutine. Various commands and promotions followed until in 1805 he was given HMS Amphion (32) under Nelson, who sent on a diplomatic mission to Algiers causing him to miss the Battle of Trafalgar by a matter of days.

A number of successes while engaged on active service in the Mediterranean over the following 18 months brought Hoste to the attention of Lord Collingwood, who sent him into the Adriatic Sea. Here he single handedly conducted an aggressive campaign against enemy shipping and coastal installations, bringing coastal trade with the enemy more or less to a halt. By the end of 1809, Hoste and his crew had captured or sunk over 200 enemy ships. His endeavours were rewarded with a small detachment of frigates, comprising HMS Amphion, HMS Active (36), HMS Volage (22) and HMS Cerberus (32), operations continued and by establishing a base at Lissa, now known as Vis, Hoste was able to dominate the Adriatic with just four ships. In March and April 1810 alone they took or destroyed 46 vessels. The French and their allies became so frustrated by the disruption caused to their shipping, that a Franco-Venetian squadron of 7 frigates and 4 smaller warships, under the command of an aggressive frigate commander named Bernard Dubourdieu, was dispatched and on 13 March 1811 they attacked Hoste's small force in what became known as the Battle of Lissa. Hoste signalled 'Remember Nelson' to rally his men, Hoste's superior seamanship and gunnery overcame the larger enemy force, with the loss of 50 men killed and 132 wounded. Dubourdieu was killed, one of the French frigates was driven on shore another captured, and two of the Venetian frigates were also taken.

Amphion was so badly damaged that she was obliged to return to England, where Hoste was given the command of HMS Bacchante (38), although he did not return to the Adriatic in her until 1812. Hoste continued to demonstrate the same kind of initiative and aggression as before. Working jointly with Montenegran forces he attacked the mountain fortress of Cattaro, hauling ships' cannon and mortars to positions above the fort using block and tackle. The French garrison had no alternative but to surrender, which it did on 5 January 1814. Hoste immediately repeated these tactics at Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), which also surrendered. He was then forced to return to England due to ill health.

AOS Naval Non Fiction

Series: n/a
Year  Book  Comment
  Memoirs and letters of Capt. Sir William Hoste Edited by his wife Lady Harriet Walpole Hoste

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