Sir Sidney Smith Nautical Adventure Series
The Sir Sidney Smith Nautical Adventure Series is by Tom Grundner.
The stories are about the real life Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, KCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS (1764–1840), a British naval officer, although due to the death of the author it was not completed and stops after the Battle of Acre. Reminiscing later in his life, Napoleon Bonaparte said of him: "That man made me miss my destiny".
Smith was born into a military and naval family, with connections to the Pitt family, at Westminster and attended Tonbridge School. He joined the Royal Navy in 1777 and fought in the American Revolutionary War. For his bravery under Rodney in the action near Cape St Vincent in January 1780, he was appointed lieutenant of the 74-gun third-rate Alcide, despite being under the required age of nineteen. He distinguished himself under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 and under Admiral George Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes and was given his first command, the sloop Fury. He was soon promoted to captain a larger frigate, but following the peace of Versailles in 1783, he was put ashore on half pay.
During the peace, Smith chose to travel to France and became involved with intelligence matters while observing the construction of the new naval port at Cherbourg. He also traveled in Spain and Morocco which were also potential enemies. In 1790, he applied for permission to serve in the Royal Swedish Navy in the war between Sweden and Russia and King Gustav III appointed him to command the light squadron and to be his principal naval adviser. Smith led his forces in clearing the Bay of Viborg of the Russian fleet, known as the Battle of Svensksund. The Russians lost sixty-four ships and over a thousand men killed. The Swedes lost four ships and had few casualties. For this, Smith was knighted by the king with the Swedish Svärdsorden (Order of the Sword) and he used this title, with King George III's permission, but was mocked by fellow British officers as "the Swedish knight". Also there were a number of British officers who had fought with the Russian fleet and six had been killed in this action, as a result of which, Smith earned the enmity of many British naval officers.
In 1792 he obtained permission to travel to Turkey where his younger brother was Ambassador to the Ottoman court in Istanbul. While there, war broke out with Revolutionary France. Smith recruited some British seamen and sailed to join the British fleet under Admiral Lord Hood which had occupied the French Navy's principal Mediterranean port of Toulon at the invitation of the French Royalist forces. Serving as a volunteer with no command, he was given the task of burning as many French ships and stores as possible before the harbour could be captured. Despite his efforts, lack of support from the Spanish forces sent to help him left more than half of the French ships to be captured undamaged. Although Smith had destroyed more French ships than had the most successful fleet action to that date, Nelson and Collingwood, among others, blamed him for this failure to destroy all of the French fleet.
On his return to London, Smith was given command of the fifth-rate HMS Diamond and in 1795 joined the Western Frigate Squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren. This squadron consisted of some of the most skillful and daring captains including Sir Edward Pellew. Smith fitted the pattern and on one occasion took his ship almost into the port of Brest to observe the French fleet. When given command of the squadron he occupied the Îles Saint-Marcouf off the coast of Normandy used as as a forward base for the blockade of Le Havre for nearly seven years.
Smith specialised in inshore operations, and in 1796, he and his secretary John Wesley Wright were captured while attempting to cut out a French ship in Le Havre. Instead of being exchanged, as was the custom, Smith and Wright were taken to the Temple prison in Paris where Smith was to be charged with arson for his burning of the fleet at Toulon. As Smith had been on half pay at the time, the French considered that he was not an official combatant. He was held in Paris for two years, despite a number of efforts to exchange him and frequent contacts with both French Royalists and British agents. Eventually in 1798 the Royalists, who pretended to be taking him to another prison, helped Smith and Wright to escape.
Following the Battle of the Nile, Smith was sent to the Mediterranean as captain of HMS Tigre (80) on a mission to strengthen Turkish opposition to Napoleon and to assist the Turks in destroying the French army stranded in Egypt. This appointment caused Nelson, who was the senior officer under St Vincent in the Mediterranean, to resent Smith's apparent superseding of his authority in the Levant. Nelson's antipathy further adversely affected Smith's reputation in naval circles. When Napoleon marched north along the Mediterranean coast with 13,000 troops Smith sailed to Acre and helped the Turkish commander Jezzar Pasha reinforce the defences and old walls and supplied him with additional cannon manned by sailors and Marines from his ships. He also used his command of the sea to capture the French siege artillery being sent by ship from Egypt and to deny the French army the use of the coastal road from Jaffa by bombarding the troops from the sea. Once the siege began in late March 1799, Smith anchored HMS Tigre and Theseus so their broadsides could assist the defence. Repeated French assaults were driven back and Napoleon began making plans for the withdrawal of his army to Egypt where he abandoned it.
On his return to England in 1801, Smith received some honours and a pension of £1,000 for his services, but he was overshadowed again by Nelson who was being acclaimed as the victor of the Battle of Copenhagen. During the brief Peace of Amiens, Smith was elected Member of Parliament for Rochester in Kent and with the resumption of war with France in he was employed in the southern North Sea off the coast between Ostend and Flushing part of the forces gathered to prevent Napoleon's threatened invasion. In November 1805, Smith was promoted to Rear Admiral, he was again sent to the Mediterranean under the command of Collingwood.
In 1807, Smith was appointed to command an expedition to Lisbon, either to assist the Portuguese in resisting attack or to destroy the Portuguese fleet and blockade the harbour at Lisbon should that be unsuccessful. Smith arranged for the Portuguese fleet to sail for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at that time a Portuguese colony. He was promoted to Vice Admiral in 1810. In 1812, Smith again sailed for the Mediterranean aboard his new flagship, the 74-gun Tremendous. He was appointed as second in command to Vice Admiral Sir Edward Pellew. His task was to blockade Toulon and he transferred his flag to the larger Hibernia, a 110-gun first-rate.
With the coming of peace Smith took up the anti-slavery cause.