Sir JOHN FOX, 1st Baronet BURGOYNE, GCB (1782–1871)

John Fox Burgoyne was the illegitimate son of Lieutenant General John Burgoyne, soldier, politician and dramatist, best known as the “Gentleman Johnny” whose surrender at Saratoga was one of the decisive episodes in the American War of Independence. Earlier in his life, General Burgoyne had eloped with and married Lady Charlotte Stanley, daughter of the 11th Earl of Derby. They had no children and, after his wife’s death, Burgoyne set up house with a popular singer, Susan Caulfield. His position in society prevented them from marrying, though they had four children together. The eldest of these, John Fox Burgoyne, took his second name from his baptismal sponsor, Charles James Fox, a friend and political ally of his father. After General Burgoyne died in 1792, his children were brought up by his late wife’s nephew, the 12th Earl of Derby. John Fox Burgoyne was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on 28 August 1798 and was later sent to join the British force besieging Valetta, where the French were finally starved into surrender in September 1800. Burgoyne was promoted to lieutenant on 1 July 1800. He continued in the Mediterranean theatre and served as aide-de-camp to General Henry Fox (Charles James Fox’s elder brother) until receiving promotion to second captain on 6 March 1805. Burgoyne took part in the British expedition to Egypt at the end of 1806 and was at the capture of Alexandria in February 1807, the subsequent siege of Rosetta and the withdrawal to Alexandria in April 1807. After returning to Sicily, he joined the staff of Sir John Moore and went with his army to Sweden in May 1808 and Portugal in September 1808. As the engineer officer of the Light Division, he was with the rearguard in the early part of the retreat to Corunna and blew up the bridges at Benavente and Castro Gonzala (29 December 1808) as the French approached. Burgoyne returned to Portugal in April 1809, in the army under Sir Arthur Wellesley [24].

Burgoyne was at the passage of the Douro (Oporto, 12 May 1809) and, when Wellesley decided in October 1809 to fall back and hold Lisbon, joined with his fellow engineers in the construction of the lines of Torres Vedras. He was commended for his demolition of Fort Concepcion (20 July 1810) and for his command of the Portuguese troops serving with the British at El Bodon (25 September 1811), where he was thanked by Wellington in the field and was noticed by the French Marshal Marmont. As engineer officer of the 3rd Division, he served at Busaco (27 September 1810); the second siege of Badajoz (1–10 June 1811) and Ciudad Rodrigo (stormed 19 January 1812). For his services in leading the assault there, he was promoted to major on 6 February 1812. Burgoyne’s next siege was again at Badajoz (17 March–6 April 1812) where he once more led the 3rd Division’s storming parties. He was rewarded with promotion to lieutenant colonel on 27 April 1812. He subsequently served at Salamanca (22 June 1812); the siege of Burgos (16 September–21 October 1812); Vittoria (21 June 1813); the siege of San Sebastian (stormed 31 August 1813); the passage of the Adour (23–26 February 1814) and the siege of Bayonne (27 February–13 April 1814). His next campaign was in the war against the United States, where he was the chief engineer at New Orleans (8 January 1815) and Fort Bowyer (Mobile Bay, 8–12 February 1815). Burgoyne returned to Europe too late for the battle of Waterloo, but served as chief engineer in the Army of Occupation until 1818.

From 1821 until 1826 Burgoyne was at the Royal Engineers Depot, Chatham. He then returned to Portugal in the force of British mercenaries sent to support the constitutional government against Dom Miguel, the absolutist claimant to the Portuguese throne. He was garrison engineer at Portsmouth between 1828 and 1831, with promotion to colonel on 22 July 1830, after which he became chairman of the Board of Public Works in Ireland. He held this post until 1845, during which time he was promoted to major general on 28 June 1838 and was awarded the KCB. Sir John Burgoyne was appointed Inspector General of Fortifications in 1845. He became involved in relief works during the Irish famine of 1846–1847 and sat as a member of various official commissions, including those to decide on the postal system, and the site of Waterloo Bridge. He became a lieutenant general on 11 November 1851.

In 1853 Burgoyne was sent by the British government, at his own suggestion, to inspect the Turkish fortifications on the lower Danube. On the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, he joined the British army under Lord Raglan [38] at Varna as an official adviser. When the Allies invaded the Crimea, Burgoyne played an important part in the selection of Kalamita Bay as the site for the army’s disembarkation. He was also influential in the Allied decision not to attempt a coup de main against Sevastopol but to march round the city and conduct a regular siege from its south side. This resulted in the Allied forces spending the winter of 1854–55 in the field, for which Burgoyne was much blamed. He was recalled by the Cabinet in February 1855, after continual disagreements with his French allies. Burgoyne’s popularity revived at the end of the war and he received various honours, including a baronetcy in 1856. He became a colonel commandant of the Royal Engineers on 22 November 1854, followed by promotion to general on 5 September 1855 and to field marshal on 1 January 1868. Burgoyne was married and had a daughter, who married an officer in the Army, and a son, Hugh, who joined the Royal Navy and was among the first recipients of the Victoria Cross. Captain Hugh Burgoyne was lost, with many of his crew, when the experimental warship HMS Captain was swamped in the Bay of Biscay in September 1870. Burgoyne never recovered from the loss of the son who had been the focus of his love and hopes. He died from the effects of grief on 7 October 1871, at Pembroke Gardens, London, and his baronetcy became extinct. Sir John Fox Burgoyne was the first field marshal to come from the Corps of Royal Engineers.


Sir JEFFERY, 1st Baron Amherst KB (1717–1797)

Jeffery Amherst, the second son of a barrister, was born on 29 January 1717 at Riverhead, on the outskirts of Sevenoaks, Kent. His father obtained a place for him at the nearby Knole House as a page in the service of the 7th Earl (later 1st Duke) of Dorset, a great Whig magnate of the time. Amherst was commissioned as a cornet in Ligonier’s regiment of Horse (later the 7th Dragoon Guards) on 10 July 1735 and served in the War of the Austrian Succession as an aide-de-camp to Sir John Ligonier at Dettingen (27 June 1743) and Fontenoy (11 May 1745). After becoming a captain in the 1st Foot Guards and lieutenant colonel in the Army on 25 Dec 1745, he fought at Rocoux (Rocourt, 11 Oct 1746) and Laffeldt (La Val, 2 July 1747). Amherst was promoted to major general on 22 May 1756 and at the same time became colonel of the 15th Foot. During the Seven Years War he served in Germany at Hastenbeck (15 July 1757) before being given command of an expedition against the French at Ile Royale (Cape Breton Island) in the Gulf of St Lawrence. After the capture of Louisbourg on 26 July 1758, Amherst became C-in-C of the British forces in North America, with appointment as colonel-in-chief of the 60th Royal American Regiment in September 1758. He then launched a three-pronged offensive against Canada. One army, under his personal command, took Ticonderoga (July 1759) and Crown Point (August 1759), while another, led by Sir William Johnson, captured Niagara (July 1759) and the third, under Major General James Wolfe, defeated the French at Quebec (13 September 1759). Montreal, the last major French garrison in Canada, capitulated on 8 September 1760. Amherst, an able tactician, trained his infantry to form a firing line two-deep rather than the conventional three-deep and justified this decision on the grounds that they would only be opposed by French Canadian militia and Indians, not by European regulars. His strategic success derived from his grasp of logistics and his arrangements for the transport and supply of his troops across a trackless wilderness, while co-ordinating the movement of forces separated by great distances. His conquest of Canada was a major victory, with lasting political consequences.

Amherst was made Governor-General of British North America in September 1760 and was promoted to lieutenant general on 19 January 1761, with the accolade of a Knight of the Bath later in the year. In 1763 the British had to face a major Indian war against a combination of tribes led by Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas. Sir Jeffery Amherst had previously taken the view that colonial Militia or locally raised Special Forces could defeat bands of marauding savages without the Regular Army becoming involved. When Pontiac destroyed isolated farms and tricked or starved British forts into surrender, Amherst was at first inclined to blame their redcoat garrisons for incompetence. Although he had underestimated both the strength and skill of his Native American enemies, he had little time for the concept of the noble red man and responded to Indian atrocities by distributing smallpox-infected blankets among the offending tribes. This war was still going on when Amherst returned to England in 1765. He was made Governor of Virginia, but resigned in 1768 when required to reside there. The post had not previously been a residential one and the new requirement was imposed by King George III to induce Amherst to resign, so freeing this office for a royal favourite. Amherst ceased to be colonel-in-chief of the 60th Royal American Regiment in September 1768, but in the following November, when the King realized the value of his services, he was reinstated in this post and moved from the 15th Foot to become colonel of the 3rd Foot, the Buffs. He remained colonel of the Buffs until April 1779, when he became colonel of the 2nd Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards, from which he moved to be colonel of the 2nd Troop of Horse Guards (later 2nd Life Guards) in March 1782.

Amherst became Lieutenant General of the Ordnance in 1772. In May 1776 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Amherst, of Holmesdale. He was promoted to general on 19 March 1778 and was appointed general on the staff (in effect, commander-in-chief) with a seat in the Cabinet, in the following month. His tenure of this office included the period of a major international conflict, the American War of Independence. In the Gordon Riots of June 1780 the military under his command were called out to restore order on the streets of London. Lord Amherst resigned in March 1782 and was succeeded by the Honourable Henry Conway. After Conway’s resignation in April 1783, Amherst again became the Cabinet’s chief military adviser. He clung to office with great tenacity and in 1787 was granted a second peerage, as Baron Amherst, of Montreal, created with a special remainder in favour of his nephew. On the approach of war with Revolutionary France, he was reappointed as general on the staff in January 1793. In peace, Amherst had been criticized for promoting wealthy officers over those with greater experience. With the return of war, he was blamed for many of the shortcomings revealed by the opening campaigns and was succeeded as C-in-C by the Duke of York in February 1795. He became field marshal on 30 July 1796. Amherst died on 3 August 1797, at his residence, Montreal Park, Riverhead. He married twice, firstly to Jane Dalison, the daughter of a Kent squire, and secondly to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of General the Hon George Carry. He had no children and his peerage, by special  remainder, was inherited by his nephew, William Pitt Amherst.

Mercia-Anglo-Saxon Kingdom



Since Bede observed in about 731 that the provinces of England’s bishops `south of the river Humber and their kings, are subject to Æthelbald, king of the Mercians’, historians have generally looked upon the eighth century as the great period of Mercian domination in Anglo-Saxon England, at least south of the Humber. That Æthelbald was duly followed by the greatest of the Mercian kings, Offa, and that between them their reigns spanned eighty years of the century, merely reaffirms the point.

Over the course of the century the confederation of peoples that Penda and his heirs had forged under their overlordship was to be converted into an enlarged and consolidated kingdom with a strong and increasingly centralised kingship. But how was this achieved, against a backdrop of emerging dynastic rivalries and the scrutiny of churchmen, and what did Mercian supremacy look like?

Mercian Exiles

When Æthelred abdicated his throne in 704 he appointed his nephew Coenred in his place. His reign was short but well-regarded. Mercian authority was maintained in the satellite provinces, Coenred confirming or making grants of land in Middlesex, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Herefordshire, and contending with attacks by the Welsh; even the demons that Saint Guthlac confronted in the Fens were British-speaking. Coenred’s reputation for piety and `ruling nobly’ would seem to be consistent with his decision after five years to abdicate, and with Offa of the East Saxons, to depart for Rome where he took the tonsure and died not long afterwards. No fewer than six Anglo-Saxon kings, two of them Mercian, decided to abdicate their thrones for the religious life between 685 and 710.

Coenred’s abdication brought his cousin, Ceolred, to the throne, remembered rather less favourably by posterity. His authority and lordship seem to have echoed that of his predecessor although he also campaigned into Wessex in 716, fighting in Wiltshire. However, his reign marked two developments that pointed to the future. Firstly, as the direct line of Penda weakened and became more `distant’ there are indications of growing discontent among other branches of the royal kin, with their own claims on power and subsequent dynastic rivalries. One of these rivals was Æthelbald, forced into exile and `driven hither and thither by King Ceolred and tossed about among divers peoples’ (Felix). He went into the Fens and sought out the `holy man Guthlac’ from whom he took comfort and the prophecy that with God’s help, he would overcome his enemies and gain the Mercian throne. Guthlac had himself been an exile during the reign of Ceolred’s father and may have had little love for Penda’s descendants.

The second pointer to the future is revealed in Ceolred’s reputation. Although not universally adopted, there was a tradition that regarded him as profligate, a visionary at Much Wenlock during the king’s lifetime proclaiming that the angels surrounding him had removed their protective shield and abandoned him to demons because of the many crimes that he had committed; the story prompts a suspicion of dynastic interests at play. At the heart of this uncomplimentary tradition lay the testimony of Saint Boniface, set out thirty years after Ceolred’s death in a letter to King Æthelbald. The theme of the letter was a call for reform, in the course of which the example was raised of Ceolred, who, prompted by the devil, set a wicked example with `an open display of [the] two greatest sins in the provinces of the English’. These sins were described as `debauchery and adultery with nuns and violation of monasteries’. Personal immorality aside, Boniface was concerned with what he saw as the violation of church privileges, and although there is no further explanation as to what these violations were, it seems probable that the secular `abuse’ of minsters and their lands was among these, a recurrent theme later in the eighth century. As a consequence of his sins, while feasting in splendour with his companions, Ceolred was seized by madness and without repentance or confession he died `conversing with devils and cursing the priests of God’, to be buried, according to William of Malmesbury, at Lichfield.

The last of Penda’s direct descendants passed with Ceolred’s death in 716. The suggestion in a Worcester regnal list that he was succeeded by a man named Ceolwald cannot be otherwise verified, and if it was the case it can have been only fleetingly as in 716 Saint Guthlac’s prophecy, given to Æthelbald while in exile, was fulfilled.

A New Dynasty

Æthelbald’s accession marked the triumph of the Mercian royal lineage that traced itself back to Eowa, a brother of Penda, as did his successor, Offa. The two kings were first cousins, twice removed, and so the eighth century saw the replacement of one lineage with another. Barbara Yorke has suggested that there may have been mutual co-operation between these two branches of the family, and certainly signs of rivalry are lacking. Æthelbald, for instance, made a grant to Offa’s grandfather, Eanulf, whom he described as his kinsman and companion.

Æthelbald secured his position by favouring and promoting his kinsmen and friends to positions of power and influence in his service. A `gesith’ or retainer of Æthelbald during his years of exile was a man named Oba (Ofa) who at one point was healed by the touch of the sheepskin rug in which Saint Guthlac was accustomed to pray. Ofa regularly appeared as a witness to Æthelbald’s charters, on one occasion in 742 being described as `Ofa, patricius’, a title of distinction that probably signified his charge of the royal household. Another regular witness was the king’s brother, Heardberht, often described as `dux’ but more prestigiously in 749 as `primatum’, of pre-eminent rank.

In the early years of his reign it is probable that Æthelbald could do little more than ensure his position within Mercia until wider opportunities presented themselves with the death of Wihtred of Kent in 725 and the subsequent partition of his kingdom between three sons; and the abdication of King Ine of Wessex, whose probable ambitions on London and Essex were dissipated by a disputed succession. Even so, historians have recently urged a more considered and `defined’ view of Æthelbald’s overlordship around 731.

Securing the Mercian Heartland

Fundamental was the absorption of Mercia’s former satellite provinces into an enlarged and integrated kingdom, a phenomenon of Æthelbald’s reign that was continued under Offa, in both cases reflected by the way in which previously independent rulers became increasingly subordinated in their status, and their titles, descending from `king’, to `under king’ and then `ealdorman’. This latter vernacular title was used of royal kin, formerly autonomous rulers, and distinguished nobles to denote the king’s most important and prestigious officers. They had delegated powers of governance, military command and administration in the Mercian provinces, the precursors of the later shires.

The last independent ruler of the Magonsæte was a son of Merewalh, Mildfrith, regulus (sub king) but after about 740 this former province was integrated into the Mercian kingdom under a subordinate ruler, by Offa’s time, an ealdorman. Similarly, the Hwiccian royal family was gradually subordinated and their province integrated, reflected by Æthelbald and Offa regularly granting land within their province; indeed one of the earliest of the charters to survive from Æthelbald’s reign concerned an exchange of salthouses and furnaces near Droitwich with the church of Worcester. Among the witnesses when Æthelbald granted land at Stour in Ismere to his companion Cyneberht in 736 was Æthelric, `sub-king and companion of the most glorious prince Æthelbald’.

By Offa’s time there was a further but significant shift in how the Hwiccian rulers were described. For instance, there were several charters where Ealdred (fl. 757-790) was described as an under-king of the Hwicce, but in 778, in a charter of Offa granting land in Sedgeberrow (Worcestershire), he was described more precisely as `subregulus’ and `dux’ of the Hwicce, that is, under-king and ealdorman. The transformation of this province into a Mercian scir or shire was effectively marked by the synod of Brentford in 781 settling a dispute between Offa and the church of Worcester, but after which there were no further Hwiccian charters. The Mercian kings first made the authority of Hwiccian rulers dependent upon their support and confirmation, which Æthelbald and more particularly Offa took further by completely transforming the basis of their subordinate authority, now entirely derived from the Mercian king until they effectively became his officers. Something similar is thought to have occurred among the Middle Angles and in Lindsey.

Mercia’s Neighbours

As in the seventh century Mercian interests were greatly affected by relations with their neighbours, among them the East Anglian and East Saxon kingdoms where international trading networks were focused on the major entrepots of Ipswich and London. Similarly important was the kingdom of Kent, with links to Francia and the seat of the southern archdiocese at Canterbury.

The fact that Saint Guthlac’s Vita was dedicated to King Ælfwald of the East Angles, and the popularity of his cult in East Anglia, suggests crucially important cordial relations between the East Angles and the Mercians. Beyond the supposed implications of Bede’s statement, there is little to suggest direct East Anglian subordination to Æthelbald, other than perhaps his seniority within the community of kings. We might here envisage influence rather than direct control and it was Æthelbald’s good fortune that Ælfwald did not die until 749, after a reign of thirty-six years.

Among the East Saxons Æthelbald’s authority was more tangible. Mercian control of London was reasserted and Middlesex was effectively annexed into the Mercian kingdom, all at the expense of the East Saxon kings. Æthelbald may be found remitting tolls at London for the benefit of the churches of Rochester and Minster-in-Thanet (Kent) without any need to associate an East Saxon king, at least not in the surviving versions of the grant, although a clause admonishing any future attempts by kings or their deputies to invalidate the gift might prompt speculation. Of course, with London came the particular demands of a major trading centre, among these the need for large quantities of coin. From as early as around 720 Æthelbald was striking a silver Mercian coinage with his most important mint in London, but there is nothing to suggest that he sought to enforce or control the minting of coin by other kings.

Mercian control of London and interest in cross Channel trade must have affected the kingdom of Kent and influenced relations, but the evidence is equivocal and it is difficult to demonstrate that the Kentish kings were subordinate. Mercian influence, however, might be reasonably supposed, as when in 731 the priest Tatwine, from the monastery of Breedon-on-the-Hill (Leicestershire), was elected archbishop of Canterbury. This was not an isolated instance; in 734-5 Nothelm, a priest of London, and again in 740, Cuthbert, a probable former bishop of Hereford, were elected to Canterbury.

Relations with Wessex seem to have been largely framed by border disputes in which Æthelbald was successful in gaining territory, perhaps previously contested land. He appears disposing of lands in West Saxon areas and this, alongside the fact that Æthelbald and the West Saxon king Cuthred fought together in 743 against the Britons, leads some to suggest a Mercian overlordship of Wessex at this point; but that need not be so, and in any case, by 752, Cuthred put the Mercians to flight at Beorhford. However, Æthelbald still appears witnessing land granted in Wiltshire as `king not only of the Mercians but also of the surrounding peoples’.

Perceptions of Æthelbald’s Kingship

There can be no doubt that royal authority in Mercia itself was strengthened and the kingdom enlarged as former satellite provinces were incorporated with the Mercian heartlands, but what of the rest of southern England?

It has recently been suggested that Æthelbald’s ambitions were relatively limited, represented essentially by a `corridor’ of territory that ran south eastwards along the line of Watling Street towards London. Beyond this, there is little to suggest direct control in Kent, among the South and East Saxons, or in the East Anglian kingdom. Still more limited were Mercian ambitions north of the Humber, with only two raids into Northumbria, in 737 and 740; nor is there much evidence regarding Wales, although the border areas had become more volatile by the early eighth century.

Can we reconcile this more circumspect evaluation with the testimony of Bede, as a direct and well-connected witness, well able to appreciate the contemporary scene; and one subsequently borne out by such as Æthelbald’s confirmation of privileges to the churches of Kent in 742, the kind of act that we might associate with a king thought to wield real authority? Direct authority over the lands between the Mercian heartlands and London was essential, but elsewhere negotiation and fluctuation were possible based on influence, friendship and strength. Æthelbald pursued kingdom building in central England and secured its frontiers while elsewhere, to borrow a nineteenth-century phrase, he maintained `spheres of interest’.

Æthelbald’s aspirations and `profile’ may, to some extent, be reflected in the titles that he adopted, but such material must be treated with caution. The practices of individual scriptoria, particularly Worcester, played a part here and the styles they used need not have always represented the reality. The title of `rex Britanniae’, king of Britain, used in 736 is hardly credible, whereas in the text of the charter is found, `king not only of the Mercians but also of all the provinces which are called by the general name south English’, a description that comes closer to what Bede described a few years earlier. More commonly, as for Offa later, he was styled `rex Merciorum’, `king of the Mercians’, a more accurate reflection of Æthelbald’s authority, status and ambition.

Corsairing [English] Operations in the Mediterranean


In addition to traditional corsairing operations in the Mediterranean, several new ones were sponsored in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth century by Christian states such as Spain, Tuscany, Sicily and Monaco. These states also licensed additional vessels to sail as temporary corsairs under their protection, usually as wartime auxiliaries, but sometimes independently. Among the permanent new enclaves, two were developed as the great period of the sixteenth-century war wound down. In northwest Italy the Grand Dukes of Tuscany operated a fleet against the Muslims in the sixteenth century, but they gave it up in 1574 and sold some of their galleys to the Knights of St Stephen, a crusading order founded by Cosimo II di Medici (1537–74). Though these knights never had the discipline or the prestige of the Knights of Malta, with whom they sometimes collaborated, they styled themselves Christian crusaders and were authorized ‘to seize the ships and goods of any states which were not Roman Catholic’. With their base in Livorno (known as Leghorn to the English), they launched their first assault on Muslim trade and ports in 1564. The sales of booty in Livorno enriched the city and its ducal patrons, just as similar sales enriched the Knights of Malta and the beys of Barbary. Merchants and corsairs from northern Europe, especially England and Holland, streamed into Livorno in the late sixteenth century, swelling the population to about 5,000 by 1601.

Nearby Savoy had an official galley fleet that sailed against Muslim shipping. In addition, for a share of the loot, the Dukes of Savoy licensed pirates who settled in Villefranche. The port was very active in the early seventeenth century, because Spain had resumed attacks on the corsairing ports of Barbary and Morocco. With the activities of the Barbary corsairs restricted, the Christian pirates of Livorno and Villefranche sailed in to fill a niche in the market for stolen goods. Like Livorno, Villefranche attracted an international mix of adventurers, including many English pirates and merchants, who made enormous profits from the seizure and sale of booty. Marseilles was another favored port for northerners, where the notorious pirate Danziker held a commission from King Henry IV of France.

Sizeable numbers of English pirates settled in North Africa as well as Italy after 1604, when an Anglo-Spanish peace treaty put privateers out of work. In response, they simply changed venue and continued preying on Spanish shipping. English pirates had few ships in the Mediterranean at that point, but they were able to seize prizes with swift and heavily armed sailing ships. Once established in Barbary, English pirates could easily find ships and crews for corsairing expeditions. Northern European pirates tended to sail from fall to spring, Barbary pirates favored the summer; combined, they presented a year-round scourge to the shipping of Venice and Spain, in particular. In the summer of 1608 alone Algerian pirates captured 50 vessels off the Valencian coast. The reintroduction of the armed sailing ship to the Mediterranean was one of the most lasting developments of the seventeenth century. After a century of development in the Atlantic and beyond, the most agile of these vessels were well suited to Mediterranean piracy and cheaper to operate. The Grand Dukes of Tuscany bought sailing ships in 1602, and there are reports of numerous raids by sailing ships in the eastern Mediterranean in the early seventeenth century. Galleys were still in use, of course, but they faced increasing problems of maneuverability as artillery became heavier.

WWI Night Patrol

73-British Trench Raiders

I really believe that I am after all a coward for I don’t like patrolling…The battalion who alternates with us here have lost three officers (or rather two officers and an NCO) on this business in front of my trenches. Let me try to picture what it is like. I am asked to take out an ‘officer’s patrol’ of seven men; duties – get out to the position of the German listening post (we know it), wait for their patrol and ‘scupper’ it; also discover what work is being done in their trenches.

I choose my favourite corporal (a gentleman, a commercial traveller for the Midland Educational in civilian life) and my six most intelligent and most courageous men. My sentries and those of the first platoon of the battalion on my right are told we are going out so that we shan’t be fired on. Magazines are charged to the full, one round in the breech; bayonets are examined to see if they slip out of the scabbard noiselessly; my revolver is nicely oiled; all spare and superfluous parts of equipment is left behind. Everything is ready.

As soon as the dusk is sufficiently dark, we get out into the front of the trenches by climbing up on to the parapet and tumbling over as rapidly as possible so as not to be silhouetted against the last traces of the sunset. No man feels afraid for we have grown accustomed to this thing now, but every man knows that he has probably seen his last sunset, for this is the most dangerous thing in war. Out we walk through the barbed wire entanglement zone through which an approaching enemy must climb, but we have a zigzag path through the thirty yards or so of prickly unpleasantness; this path is only known to a few. The night has become horribly dark already, and the stillness of the night is broken only by the croaking of many frogs, the hoot of an owl and the boom of distant guns in the south. The adventure has commenced.

We lie down in the long grass and listen. Nothin’ doin’. I arrange my men in pairs – one to go in front and one to either flank, the corporal and myself remaining in rear, but the whole party is quite close together, practically within whispering distance of one another. We all advance slowly and carefully, wriggling along through the long grass for a hundred yards or so, past the two lines of willow trees and across the stream, now practically dry. There we lie and wait and listen. One pair goes out another fifty yards or so, nearly to the German wire to see if there is anything about. Nothing is discernible, so they return, and for another hour we lie in absolute silence like spiders waiting for flies. It is a weary game and extremely trying to one’s nerves, for every sense especially hearing and sight are strained to the utmost. Tiny noises are magnified a hundredfold – a rat nibbling at the growing corn or a rabbit scuttling along give us all the jumps until we learn to differentiate the different sounds. In the German trenches we hear the faint hum of conversation. Nothing is to be heard near us, but there is a very ominous sign – no shots are being fired from the trenches in front of us, no flares are being sent up and there is no working party out. This points to only one thing and that is that they also have a patrol out. There is no other conclusion.

Suddenly quite close to the corporal and myself there is a heavy rustling in the long grass on the right. Now, if never before, I know the meaning of – is it fear? My heart thumps so heavily that they surely must hear it, my face is covered with a cold perspiration, my revolver hammer goes back with a sharp click and my hand trembles. I have no inclination to run away – quite the reverse – but I have one solitary thought: I am going to kill a man. This I repeat over and over again, and the thought makes me miserable and at the same time joyful for I shall have accounted for one of the blackguards even if I go myself. Do they know we are here? How many are there? Are they armed with bombs like most German patrols? However, our queries remain unanswered, for quite abruptly they change their direction and make off to the right where to follow them would be only courting certain disaster.

So with great caution we come in and breathe again when we are safely inside the trench. I give instructions to the sentries to fire low down into the grass but it is very improbable that the German patrol will get anything but a fright.

Note: by Second Lieutenant H E Cooper, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Espionage During the Napoleonic Wars


Charles Schulmeister

The Napoleonic wars pitted France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, against a number of countries in Europe from 1797 through 1815. At different times during this period, Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and the Neapolitan Kingdom all waged war against France in various coalitions. The main rivals in this struggle were Great Britain and France. During this time, the methods of intelligence gathering, espionage, and counterespionage did not differ so much from modern methods, apart from the differences in technological progress. Compared to other periods, however, espionage was a much more intense activity during the Napoleonic wars. This rise in espionage activity resulted mainly from revolutionary events in France and the following French emigration, which was in turn, used by Britain to achieve their own goals.

France had one unsurpassed master of intrigue in the famous person of Joseph Fouché, who spied rampantly on his social and professional contacts alike. Fouché remained as permanent minister of police during four consecutive regimes: directory, consulate, empire, and the restored monarchy.

During this period, Switzerland became a place of intensive intelligence activity by Britain, mostly against France. In 1794 the new charge d’affaire of Great Britain was the newly arrived William Wickham (1761-1840), for whom his diplomatic work in Bern was a cover. Wickham’s main activity was to collect information about France and to lead various royalist organizations, which acted inside France as well as abroad. In particular, Wickham organized invasions of royalist armies into France, one of which was the Quiberon Bay invasion of 1795; the effort failed within one month. Both Wickham’s agents and those of the royalist organizations actively participated for almost three years in different conspiracies against France, but in 1797, many of those involved were arrested. Wickham was forced to leave Switzerland in 1798, but the successive charge d’affaire continued the same activity.

British espionage against the Italian Army of France was also well organized. Here, the main figures were Count d’Antreg, one of the organizers of the royalist underground, and the British diplomat Francis Drake. D’Antreg received information from the generals of the French army, such as key information about the Egyptian expedition of Bonaparte. D’Antreg was arrested in 1797 by the French in Venice and was scheduled for extradition to France, but was first granted an audience with Napoleon. After gaining Napoleon’s favor, d’Antreg was released on his word of honor. He was then quickly aided in an escape to Switzerland.

British intelligence agents pursued Napoleon and his army during the Egypt expedition, and even attempted to organize the general’s assassination. One well-known attempt was organized by one of the top officers of the British intelligence service. A fellow officer named Foure was married to one of Napoleon’s mistresses; the plan called for Madame Foure to carry out the assassination during one of her dalliances with Napoleon. Foure eventually refused his mission, and the plan was not executed.

Another attempt to assassinate Napoleon was made on December 24, 1800. The First Consul Napoleon was required to be present at a performance in the Paris Grande Opera. When Napoleon’s carriage rushed along Saint Nicolas Street, an explosion resounded. Napoleon did not suffer; his carriage was driving too quickly, but the power of the explosion was such that almost 50 people were killed or wounded and 46 neighboring houses were damaged. The source was a barrel of gunpowder laced with shrapnel that was hidden in a harnessed wagon at the roadside. At first, the Jacobins were accused of the attempt, and some were executed. But those who headed the investigation quickly determined that it was the work of royalists through whom was apparent “the hand of London.”

Yet another attempt on Napoleon was undertaken by royalists (again supported from London) in 1803 to 1804, but it was stopped by Fouche’s police. Fouche identified the plotters using his “Chouan’s Geography,” an elementary data base (card-index) compiled in his ministry containing detailed information about 1000 active royalists. The French word chouan is associated with royalty, or in this case, royalists.

Britain also actively collected all possible information about France during the Napoleonic period. For this purpose they used (in addition to traditional methods) various royalist organizations (in particular the “Correspondence,” which mainly collected intelligence data). Smugglers, and fishers, and the inhabitants of Jersey Island were also actively recruited, especially during the continental blockade, for contact between Britain and the continent, as well as for espionage. One of these Jersey inhabitants, a British agent, was able to make 184 spying trips from Jersey to France before he was eventually captured by the French and executed in 1808.

Led by Fouche, the French used counterespionage and organized the assassinations of unwelcome persons, or at the least, discredited them. One example is the brilliantly executed operation directed against the British diplomat Francis Drake. The French agent Mehde de la Touch was sent to London, where with great difficulty he was able to gain the confidence of top British authorities. De la Touch was able to persuade them that he represented a Jacobin committee that wanted to overthrow Napoleon. De la Touch was put in contact with Drake, at that time the ambassador in Munich, Bavaria, and using Drake, the phony committee was able to swindle large amounts of money from the British government. After a long period of such activity, the French published this information in the French press, Drake was discredited, and was forced to flee from Munich.

Napoleon himself was also actively interested in espionage. Among Napoleon’s secret agents, the most successful was the Alsatian Charles Schulmeister, a trader from Strasbourg. Schulmeister brilliantly infiltrated the Austrian army, including its intelligence service, and by collecting vital information from and disseminating misinformation to the Austrian military commanders, ensured Napoleon’s victory in Austria.

The year 1805 marked the beginning of Napoleon’s war with Austria and Russia. Schulmeister was sent to Vienna with the mission to discern the character and plans of General Karl von Mack, commander of the Austrian Army on the Danube. Schulmeister gained the confidence of those in the aristocratic circles of Vienna and was soon introduced to General Mack. Schulmeister then persuaded Mack that he represented a royalist opposition, showing him secret data about the French army, given to him according to Napoleon’s order, and false documents about his own Hungarian aristocratic origin. Soon Schulmeister was completely trusted by Mack and, incredibly, was designated chief of intelligence in General Mack’s army. Schulmeister immediately informed Napoleon about Mack’s plans, and Napoleon, in turn, ordered the printing of false newspapers and letters detailing the unrest in the French army. Mack swallowed the bait. He assumed that France was close to an uprising, and believed the information that Napoleon’s troops were retreating from the front line on the Rhine River. He began to pursue the French. Most likely Mack was surprised when he collided with the “retreated” corps of French General Ney, and then discovered French troops at his flanks and back. The army of the gullible general was surrounded in Uhlm, and all that was left to do was to surrender. Napoleon then gained one of his most famous victories at the battle of Austerlitz, captured Vienna, and installed Schulmeister as its chief of police.

Napoleon soon required the further services of Schulmeister in Germany, where the operative set up an effective spy cluster that provided Napoleon, for a while, with valuable information from adversaries to the East. Schulmeister was awarded wealth for his efforts, but longed for the Legion of Honor, which Napoleon never bestowed, claiming, “gold is the only suitable reward for spies.” After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and subsequent exile, Schulmeister was arrested, and bought his freedom with his fortune. Years later and nearly penniless, Schulmeister sold tobacco at a stand in Strasbourg and regaled customers with stories of espionage during the Napoleonic wars.

BOOKS: Dallas, Gregor. The Final Act: The Roads to Waterloo. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2001. Durant, Will, and Ariel Durant. The Age of Napoleon. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975.


Londinium was equipped with massive defenses: several forts were built along with the immense London Wall, remains of which are still recognizable in the city.

Londinium Bridge. This model shows how the Romans built the first bridge across the River Thames, where London Bridge now stands.

It was the geographical features of the area that brought about the foundation of Roman London. There is no strong evidence of any occupation on the site before the conquest in AD 43. London stands at the lowest convenient bridging point of the THAMES. There was a way through the marshes from the south and on the north side two gravel hills (now ST PAUL’S and CORNHILL) stood above the flood plain and gave a firm foothold. The combination of these elements of topography and geology gave the site a military importance in the eyes of Roman army surveyors. There can be no doubt that military necessity provided the impetus for the bridging of the Thames and the establishment of a settlement on the north bank. Both the Roman government and private traders then took advantage of the convenience of the site.

The Thames was much wider and shallower than it is now. Recent excavation evidence, however, plus alignments of roads coming from the south through SOUTHWARK, suggests that the original alignment of the ROMAN ROAD Watling Street centred on the WESTMINSTER area and a possible ford. In about AD 50 new roads in Southwark were built converging on a point across the river from the site of the new settlement. Pottery and coin evidence indicates that the city was not begun until this date. The fledgling city was destroyed soon after in AD 60 during the revolt of Queen Boudicca and her tribe, the Iceni. Tacitus in his accounts notes that at this time London was not yet classified as a full Roman settlement but was an important centre for businessmen. The Governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, raced to reach London but his assembled forces were not large enough to save the town and he evacuated those inhabitants able to leave. Boudicca destroyed the town by fire and massacred those left behind. Colchester and St Albans suffered the same fate. Evidence of the disaster can be found in the layers of burnt debris and pottery.

The archaeological evidence of recent years shows that there was a basic plan from the beginning for the growth of Londinium, ultimately to extend over the 330 acres it was to occupy when walled in the late 2nd century. Fine wares, glass, jewellery and other objects from the Mediterranean testify to the city’s importance as a commercial entrepôt. In the rebuilding after the disaster priority seems to have been given to business premises, no doubt fostered by the benevolent eye of the newly appointed procurator (tax collector), Julius Classicianus. He realized that repression after the revolt would not regain lost taxes and is recorded as having set the province on its feet again. The fragments of his grand tomb, erected by his sorrowing wife Julia Pacata, were found on TOWER HILL in 1852 and 1935 and are now restored in the BRITISH MUSEUM. (A copy of the inscription is in the MUSEUM OF LONDON and on site at Tower Hill.)

The nucleus of the new settlement was on Cornhill and around the walbrook stream, the town’s main source of water. By the AD 70s the settlement had expanded and the main public buildings, the basilica and FORUM, were in place on high ground to the east of the Walbrook. By the end of the 1st century other public buildings, the GOVERNOR’S PALACE, the Amphitheatre and the ROMAN BATHS in Cheapside and Upper Thames Street, had been added.

The commercial vitality and growth of Londinium depended on the port facilities. The waterfront lay about 100 metres north of its present position, just north of UPPER and LOWER THAMES STREET. Excavations near PUDDING LANE revealed a mid-1st-century wooden landing stage which was superseded by a major timber-faced quay some twenty years later. The quay was backed by warehouses which continued in use until the end of the 4th century. New waterfronts were built in the 2nd century and again in the early 3rd century, as shown in excavations at CUSTOM HOUSE, ST MAGNUS and Seal House. This last waterfront extended for at least 550 metres.

Londinium reached its zenith in the early 2nd century. It saw the visit of the Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 and the building of the fort and rebuilding of most public buildings prior to that date indicate some preparation for an imperial visit. Fire again destroyed an area of the city in AD 125–130. Excavations west of the Walbrook provided evidence of the area’s recovery after the fire. It was extensively replanned and rebuilt as shops and houses. However, by the end of the 2nd century the area was abandoned with little trace of later-Roman occupation.

The economic effects of Clodius Albinus’s revolt in AD 192 must have been felt, but were soon overcome when Septimius Severus defeated Albinus and came to Britain himself, to die at York in AD 211. It was about this time that the province was divided into two, with York as the capital of Britannia Inferior, and London the capital of Britannia Superior. It left London less a military and commercial area in the 3rd century and more an administrative city. The encircling city wall was also built around AD 200, evidence for the transportation of its construction materials being found in the Blackfriars barge.

Public monuments of some size were erected in the early 3rd century, including a monumental arch (pieces of which have recently been found as part of the later 4th-century river wall). The TEMPLE OF MITHRAS was built about AD 240 on the east bank of the Walbrook and continued in use until early in the 4th century. An altar inscription, found reused in the river wall, indicates a TEMPLE OF ISIS was rebuilt some time between AD 251 and 259. During the 3rd century, however, the city’s population appears to have changed from that of all classes and occupations to a much smaller population drawn from the wealthier levels of society. A number of large polychrome mosaics from private houses testify to the wealth of certain members of the population, doubtless rich merchants or government officials. With the contraction of the population, many buildings were demolished and not rebuilt and the industrial workshops around the Walbrook were replaced by private houses.

At the end of the 3rd century came the revolt of Carausius (AD 287–93), followed by that of Allectus (AD 293–6). Constantius Chlorus rescued London from being ransacked by Allectus’ army in AD. A mint was established in London by the usurper Carausius in AD 288 and continued in use, after his defeat, until AD 326. It opened again for a short time in AD 383, using London’s 4th-century name Augusta.

At the start of the 4th century, Britain was divided into four smaller provinces and Londinium became the capital of Maxima Caesariensis. This was in accordance with the Emperor Diocletian’s policy of devolution to improve administrative efficiency. The city’s defences were strengthened in the same century. A huge section of wall still in a remarkable state of preservation was found within the TOWER OF LONDON in 1977. This can almost certainly be ascribed to the known restoration work carried out in 396 at the orders of Stilicho, a great general under the Emperor Honorius. Stilicho had kept the Visigoths at bay in Italy, and when he was executed as the result of a palace intrigue in 408 it left a weak emperor helpless at Ravenna. The way was open for the barbarians to attack, which itself led to the recall of the legions from Britain by Honorius in 410. Some 50 years later the walls of London were still high and strong enough to afford protection against the Saxons, but it is not known for how long after the mid-5th century the city remained inhabited.

It was probably not for long. There is little archaeological evidence but the Anglo-Saxons, it is known, especially from several poems, stood in awe and dread and shunned ‘the work of giants’ as they called the Roman buildings, now standing derelict.

London, according to the twelfth-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, was founded in 1108 BC by Brute, a god or demi-god descended from Venus and Jupiter. About a thousand years later King Lud, said to be a close relative of Cassivelaunus, the British chieftain contemporary with Julius Caesar, improved the place and named it Ludstown in honour of himself. John Stow, the Elizabethan historian, derided this explanation of the name, though he failed to offer any convincing alternatives. In more recent times the name was said to be derived from a personal name based on londo, fierce or bold, or from a tribal name. This is now discredited by most modern scholars. All that is certain is that the Romans frequently made use of Latin names and anglicized them and that within a few years of the conquest in AD 43 the place was known as Londinium. There is a late-1st-century ad jug in the Museum of London whose inscription includes the word Londini.

ROMAN FORT • London Wall, EC1.

Still preserves the line of the Via Praetoria (main street). The Via Principalis of the fort ran at right angles to it. The fort was built to the north-west of the city in the early 2nd century according to the coin and pottery evidence. Since it would have had little defensive effect it probably served as a barracks for the garrison attached to the Governor’s Palace. Substantial portions of the barracks are buried under WOOD STREET police station. The area of the fort was about 12 acres with the usual playing-card shape associated with such forts – about 270 metres north to south by 220 metres east to west. Although the stone walls were quite substantial they were not felt to be strong enough when the fort was incorporated into the LONDON WALL at the end of the 2nd century. The north and west sides were thickened on their inside face by additional layers of masonry with rubble infill that brought these walls up to the required width. The two parts side by side can be seen in the remains in the public garden in NOBLE STREET. In a room at the west end of the underground car park (entrance from London Wall) are the remains of the west gate of the fort and part of a guardroom excavated in 1956.


London was the hub of the Roman road network in Britain, but to understand how the system developed it is necesary to go back a little farther, to pre-Roman times. The River THAMES was the most important factor. Before the embankments were built in the 19th century, it was wide and shallow. In the Roman period, the land level was higher than at present, and the tide would not have risen much above WESTMINSTER, which became a convenient fording place for traders wishing to cross the river. Travelling inland from the Kentish ports, travellers would have crossed the Westminster ford, and then struck north or west to the important tribal capitals at Wheathampstead (near St Albans) or Silchester, west of Reading. An east–west route would also have developed, aiming for the third of the main tribal centres, at Colchester, following a track which kept to high ground along the line of OXFORD STREET and OLD STREET. It is likely that Roman engineers made use of these routes; the two main alignments of WATLING STREET north and south of the river converge on the early river crossing. When LONDON BRIDGE was built (within 15 years of the Roman invasion of AD 43), short connecting tracks would have been made to the nearest established roads.

The long straight alignments of Roman roads resulted from the method of surveying used by the engineers who built them. The roads were set out by sighting between points on high ground, the actual lines being carefully chosen to avoid, if possible, steep inclines and marshy ground. Roads would deviate from the direct line if there were advantages such as better ground conditions; a good example is the diversion of Stane Street at Ewell, which follows the chalk formation and stays clear of the difficult London clay for several miles. Important Roman roads were usually about 7 metres wide, and were frequently set on an embankment about 1.5 metres high, known as an agger. Excavations of buried roads reveal the original surface layer of fine stone chippings.

For much of their length, the Roman roads in London are still in use as modern thoroughfares.

Watling Street • This approaches from Dover, Canterbury and Richborough along the line of SHOOTERS HILL, before taking a curving route through DEPTFORD and NEW CROSS much like the present road. Northward, the alignment is followed almost exactly by the present road from MARBLE ARCH to EDGWARE. The substantial construction of the original road has been disclosed by excavations for pipe-laying.

Ermine Street • This was the main artery to Lincoln and York, and its course from BISHOPSGATE is closely represented by Kingsland Road, Stoke Newington Road and Stamford Hill.

Colchester Road • It is followed by present roads east of STRATFORD. The River LEA was crossed at OLD FORD, where remains of Roman masonry have been found near Iceland Wharf. From this point, a road must have gone direct to ALDGATE and on, if not to the bridge, at least to the main east–west street through LONDINIUM. Evidence is scant for such a road.

Silchester Road • This was the main artery to the west of England. It is represented by the course of OXFORD STREET, NOTTING HILL (a possible surveying point), HOLLAND PARK and GOLDHAWK ROAD, where remains have been excavated. Eastward, the road must have connected to NEWGATE, with a branch to OLD STREET, OLD FORD and STRATFORD; much of this route is now lost.

Ludgate–Hammersmith • A Romanized form of the early trackway followed the line of the STRAND through KENSINGTON, to join the main western road at CHISWICK.

Stane Street • It connected London with Chichester, the tribal capital of Sussex, and its course is approximately that of the present road from BOROUGH HIGH STREET to TOOTING. Traces have been found under buildings in Borough High Street, and the buried road surface directly under NEWINGTON Causeway. With the passage of time, the modern road has deviated in places; BALHAM HIGH STREET is about 55 metres from the original line, and CLAPHAM COMMON South Side almost a quarter of a mile further west, but Clapham Road and Kennington Park Road are on the Roman line.

London–Brighton • This was an important road for the traffic in corn and iron from Sussex. It probably branched from Stane Street at Kennington Park, on the course of Brixton Road, Brixton Hill and Streatham Hill.

London–Lewes • This road also served the corn-growing and iron-producing areas of Sussex. Its course in London has been traced by careful probing and digging in gardens and allotments. Branching from WATLING STREET at Asylum Road, PECKHAM, it followed the alignment of Blyth Hill, CATFORD, where the buried agger remains intact. It then ran through west WICKHAM to a point on the North Downs. The only section of this road in use today is the three mile straight length through Edenbridge, but the route has survived in the form of parish boundaries and property divisions. Thus, it is represented through Peckham and NUNHEAD by the alignment of back garden fences and walls.

London–Stevenage • This road left the CITY at CRIPPLEGATE, and the course is marked by REDCROSS STREET and GOLDEN LANE, Highbury Grove, HIGHBURY PARK and parts of Blackstock Road. Traces of an agger here have been found in the grounds of ALEXANDRA PALACE, and there are more substantial remains north of Potters Bar.