Charles Napier (naval officer)
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Sir Charles John Napier KCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

Order of the Tower and Sword
The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. It was created by King Afonso V in 1459....

Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (6 March 1786 – 6 November 1860) was a Scottish naval officer whose sixty years in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 included service in the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, Syrian War
Syrian War
The Syrian War is the name generally given to the war of 1839-40 fought in the Middle East, also known as the Second Syrian War, mainly on territory that is now Lebanon, between the Allied Powers of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire and the...

 and the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, and a period commanding the Portuguese navy in the Liberal Wars
Liberal Wars
The Liberal Wars, also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War, was a war between progressive constitutionalists and authoritarian absolutists in Portugal over royal succession that lasted from 1828 to 1834...

. An innovator concerned with the development of iron ships, and an advocate of humane reform in the Royal Navy, he was also active in politics as a Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 and was probably the naval officer most widely known to the public in the early Victorian Era.

Napier was the second son of Captain Charles Napier, RN, and grandson of Francis, 6th Lord Napier; he was thus a direct descendant of the great mathematician John Napier
John Napier
John Napier of Merchiston – also signed as Neper, Nepair – named Marvellous Merchiston, was a Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer & astrologer, and also the 8th Laird of Merchistoun. He was the son of Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston. John Napier is most renowned as the discoverer...

. He was born at Merchiston Hall, near Falkirk
Falkirk is a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. It lies in the Forth Valley, almost midway between the two most populous cities of Scotland; north-west of Edinburgh and north-east of Glasgow....

, on 6 March 1786, and educated at the Royal High School
Royal High School (Edinburgh)
The Royal High School of Edinburgh is a co-educational state school administered by the City of Edinburgh Council. The school was founded in 1128 and is one of the oldest schools in Scotland, and has, throughout its history, been high achieving, consistently attaining well above average exam results...

, Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...


French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

He became a midshipman
A midshipman is an officer cadet, or a commissioned officer of the lowest rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Kenya...

 in 1799 aboard the 16-gun sloop HMS Martin
HMS Martin (1790)
HMS Martin was a 16-gun sloop of the Royal Navy.-Construction and commissioning:Martin was a , built to a design by John Henslow and ordered from Woolwich Dockyard on 17 January 1788. She was worked on by Master Shipwright John Nelson until August 1790, after which she was completed by William Rule...

, but left her in May 1800 before she was lost with all hands. He next served aboard HMS Renown
HMS Renown (1798)
HMS Renown was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was to have been named HMS Royal Oak, but the name was changed to Renown on 15 February 1796....

, flagship of Sir John Borlase Warren
John Borlase Warren
Sir John Borlase Warren, 1st Baronet , was an English admiral, politician and diplomat. Born in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, he was the son and heir of John Borlase Warren of Stapleford and Little Marlow...

.Priscilla Napier states (p. 3) he was made midshipman in 1800 and "entered on the books of" HMS Martin, but never actually served in her,because she was lost before he could join her; but Edward Elers Napier (p. 6) quotes a contemporary account showing he was made midshipman in 1799 and sailed in Martin from Leith
-South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

 Roads in November of that year. Martin disappeared, presumed lost with all hands, in October 1800, therefore 5 months after Napier left her for Renown.
After this, in November 1802, he transferred to the frigate Greyhound under Captain William Hoste
William Hoste
Captain Sir William Hoste, 1st Baronet KCB RN , Royal Navy captain, was the son of Dixon Hoste, rector of Godwick and Tittleshall in Norfolk...

. The following year, he moved to HMS Egyptienne for a voyage to St Helena escorting a convoy of ships and then in the English Channel and off the coast of France. (In later years, feeling he had been badly treated as a Midshipman by her captain, Charles Fleeming
Charles Elphinstone Fleeming
Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming was an officer of the Royal Navy who served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He commanded a succession of smaller vessels during the early years of the wars, achieving some successes against French cruisers, merchants and privateers, before...

, Napier challenged that officer to a duel, though they were eventually reconciled by their seconds.) In 1804-5 he served briefly in HMS Mediator before moving to HMS Renommée off Boulogne. He was promoted lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 on 30 November 1805. He was appointed to HMS Courageux
HMS Courageux (1800)
HMS Courageux was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 26 March 1800 at Deptford. She was designed by Sir John Henslow as one of the large class 74s, and was the only ship built to her draught...

 (74), and was present in her in the West Indies at the action in which the squadron under Admiral Warren took the French Marengo
French ship Marengo
The Marengo was a Téméraire class 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.On 5 January, she collided with the Tourville off Brest.In November 1814, she took part in the reconquest of Guadeloupe....

 (80) and Belle Poule (40), on 13 March 1806. After returning home with Warren, he returned to the West Indies in St George and having been promoted to Commander on 30 November 1807, he was appointed acting commander of the brig Pultusk of 16 guns, formerly the French privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

 Austerlitz. In August 1808 he became captain of the brig-sloop Recruit
HMS Recruit (1806)
HMS Recruit was an 18-gun Cruizer class brig-sloop of the Royal Navy, launched in 1806 at Sandwich, Kent. She is best known for an act of pique by Cmdr. Warwick Lake, who marooned a seaman, and for an inconclusive but hard fought ship action under Cmdr. Charles John Napier against the French...

 (18), and in her fought a hot action off Antigua
Antigua , also known as Waladli, is an island in the West Indies, in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean region, the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua means "ancient" in Spanish and was named by Christopher Columbus after an icon in Seville Cathedral, Santa Maria de la...

 with the French sloop Diligente
French corvette Diligente (1801)
The Diligente was a 20-gun corvette of the French Navy, lead ship of her class. Built at Brest on private plans by Pierre Ozanne, she was particularly fast. The French Navy adopted the design and copied the plans as late as 1848. Originally armed with 6-pounder guns, she was later rearmed with...

 (18), in which his thigh was smashed by a cannon-ball.

In April 1809 Napier took part in the capture of Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

, and subsequently distinguished himself in the pursuit of three escaping French ships of the line
Troude's expedition to the Caribbean
Troude's expedition to the Caribbean was a naval operation by a French force under Commodore Amable-Gilles Troude during the Napoleonic Wars. The French squadron departed from Lorient in February 1809 in an attempt to reach and resupply the island colony of Martinique in the Caribbean Sea, then...

, handling the small Recruit so well that the British were able to capture the French flagship Hautpoult (74). As a result he was promoted acting post captain and briefly given the command of the captured 74.

His rank was confirmed on 22 May 1809, but he was put on half-pay, when he came home as temporary captain of HMS Jason
HMS Jason (1804)
HMS Jason was a 32-gun fifth rate Thames-class frigate of the Royal Navy, launched in 1804 at Woolwich, named for Jason of Greek Mythology.-Service:...

 (32) escorting a convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

. While on half-pay he spent some time at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...


Napier, still on half-pay, then went to Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 to visit his three cousins, (all colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

s serving in Wellington's
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 army, and one of whom was Charles James Napier
Charles James Napier
General Sir Charles James Napier, GCB , was a general of the British Empire and the British Army's Commander-in-Chief in India, notable for conquering the Sindh Province in what is now Pakistan.- His genealogy :...

, the future conqueror of Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

). He took part in the Battle of Buçaco
Battle of Buçaco
The Battle of Bussaco resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army, in Portugal during the Peninsular War....

, during which he saved his cousin Charles's life and was himself wounded.

In 1811, he was appointed captain of the frigate HMS Thames (32) and served in the Mediterranean, disrupting enemy shipping. Among his principal exploits was the capture of the island of Ponza
Ponza is the largest of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region....

, which was a possible haven for corsairs.From this exploit he took the pseudonym of "Charles, Conte di Ponza" (Charles, Count of Ponza) when he commanded a Portuguese naval squadron during the Liberal Wars
Liberal Wars
The Liberal Wars, also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War, was a war between progressive constitutionalists and authoritarian absolutists in Portugal over royal succession that lasted from 1828 to 1834...

In 1813 he moved to command the frigate HMS Euryalus
HMS Euryalus (1803)
HMS Euryalus was a Royal Navy Apollo Class frigate of 36 guns, which saw service in the Battle of Trafalgar and the War of 1812. During her career she was commanded by three prominent naval personalities of the Napoleonic and post-Napoleonic period, Henry Blackwood, George Heneage Dundas and...

 (36), operating mainly off the French and Spanish Mediterranean coast.

American War and the 'Hundred Days'

After the surrender of Napoleon in 1814 Napier and his ship were transferred to the coast of America, where the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 was still in progress. He took part in the expedition up the Potomac
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 to Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

, as second in command to Captain James Alexander Gordon
James Alexander Gordon
Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Alexander Gordon, KCB, RN was a distinguished British officer in the Royal Navy. His 75 years in the service, from Midshipman to Admiral of the Fleet was unprecedented in its duration. He served in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812...

. The British squadron took 10 days to travel 50 miles (80.5 km) upriver, with many strandings and damage from a tornado, but on 28 August 1814 after bombardment they captured Fort Washington
Fort Washington Park
Fort Washington, located near the community of Fort Washington, Maryland, USA, was for many decades the only defensive fort protecting Washington D.C. The original fort, overlooking the Potomac River, was completed in 1809, and was named Fort Warburton...

; the town of Alexandria capitulated and the shipping there was seized. The squadron successfully withdrew downriver with their prizes despite American attacks from the shore. During this withdrawal Napier was wounded in the neck.

He next distinguished himself in the attack on the city of Baltimore by a British army and 16 warships, 12–14 September 1814, under Admiral Cochrane
Alexander Cochrane
Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane GCB RN was a senior Royal Navy commander during the Napoleonic Wars.-Naval career:...

. Euryalus was involved in the bombardment of Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay...

 that began early in the morning of the 13th. The critical period of the attack developed shortly after midnight when a picked British force in longboats under Napier’s command penetrated the branch of the river
Patapsco River
The Patapsco River is a river in central Maryland which flows into Chesapeake Bay. The river's tidal portion forms the harbor for the city of Baltimore...

 to the west of the fort with the intention of storming it from the flank. Before they could land, however, they were detected and subjected to a withering fire from the guns of Fort McHenry and two smaller forts. The British fought back strongly with cannon and rockets. (Watching the battle from a safe distance, Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

 was inspired to compose 'The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

’.) Eventually American fire power prevailed; Napier was compelled to retire to the warships, and Cochrane’s fleet withdrew on the morning of the 14th.

Euryalus proceeded to Halifax, Nova Scotia
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

 for refit and then took part in the ongoing blockade of the eastern seaboard of the USA. Bored by such duties, Napier issued a challenge to the American frigate Constellation
USS Constellation (1797)
USS Constellation was a 38-gun frigate, one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794. She was distinguished as the first U.S. Navy vessel to put to sea and the first U.S. Navy vessel to engage and defeat an enemy vessel...

, which was lying at Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, Virginia, to come out and fight a single-ship duel. The challenge was accepted and due arrangements were made ‘in the most gentlemanly fashion’, but Euryalus was made part of the squadron that Admiral Cochrane took to Florida and Louisiana in December 1814 in the operations that climaxed in the Battle of New Orleans
Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 and was the final major battle of the War of 1812. American forces, commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the...

 on 8 January 1815, and before she could return to fulfil her engagement with Constellation news of the peace treaty of Ghent
Treaty of Ghent
The Treaty of Ghent , signed on 24 December 1814, in Ghent , was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 reached the USA.

With Napoleon's escape from Elba
Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, from the coastal town of Piombino. The largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba is also part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago and the third largest island in Italy after Sicily and Sardinia...

 and brief return to power, (the 'Hundred Days
Hundred Days
The Hundred Days, sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days for specificity, marked the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France's return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815...

'), Euryalus returned to Britain. Napier's last mission of the Napoleonic wars was to land troops at the mouth of the River Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 to guard against the French advance into Belgium.

Marriage and family

At the end of the war Napier was made a Companion of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 (4 June 1815). He married Frances Elizabeth Elers, née Younghusband, generally referred to as Eliza, whom he had known and loved in Edinburgh while still a teenager. In the meantime Eliza had married a Lieutenant Edward Elers, RN and been widowed. She had four children whom Napier adopted as his own. Of these the second son, Charles Elers Napier
Charles Elers Napier
Charles George Elers Napier, born 22 May 1812, drowned 20 December 1847, was a British naval officer who packed much action into a short career.-Career:...

, became a naval officer. The eldest, Edward Elers Napier, entered the army, rising to the rank of Major-General: he also wrote books of travel and reminiscence, as well as the authoritative biography of his stepfather. Frances also gave Napier two children of his own, a son born in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and a daughter born by Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

. The son, Charles, died as a result of an accident aged five. The first years of his leisure Napier spent in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 (where he briefly took up farming), and in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He had inherited considerable wealth from his mother's side of the family and spent it freely.

Steam and Iron

During these years Napier began a voluminous and indefatigable correspondence with the Admiralty on the urgency for naval reform, which lasted for the rest of his career. He sought to persuade successive civil administrations of the need for innovative ship-design and tactics, the development of steam ships and the use of iron in ship construction, the proper training of officers, and decent living conditions for ordinary seamen. He held that the use of the press gang
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 and of flogging should be abolished, and that seamen should receive proper wages and pensions. In all this he was far ahead of his time. His advocacy had little effect: on the contrary, successive administrators considered him an eccentric nuisance. He had been interested in steam navigation since its beginnings, and began investing his considerable resources in a steam vessel service that would ply along the River Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

. In 1821 he financed and participated in the construction of one of the first iron-hulled vessels ever built, and the first designed to venture into open water. The Aaron Manby
Aaron Manby
Aaron Manby was a landmark vessel in the science of shipbuilding as the first iron steamship to go to sea. She was built by Aaron Manby at the Horseley Ironworks. She made the voyage to Paris in June 1822 under Captain Charles Napier, with Aaron's son Charles on board as engineer...

was named after the master of the Horseley Ironworks
Horseley Ironworks
The Horseley Ironworks was a major ironworks in the Tipton area in the county of Staffordshire, now the West Midlands, England....

, Tipton
Tipton is a town in the Sandwell borough of the West Midlands, England, with a population of around 47,000. Tipton is located about halfway between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. It is a part of the West Midlands conurbation and is a part of the Black Country....

, Staffordshire
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. Part of the National Forest lies within its borders...

, where she was pre-fabricated to a design formulated by Napier, Manby and Manby’s son Charles and then assembled at Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe is a residential district in inner southeast London, England and part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is located on a peninsula on the south bank of the Thames, facing Wapping and the Isle of Dogs on the north bank, and is a part of the Docklands area...

 on the Thames. After trials in May 1822, the Aaron Manby crossed the English Channel to Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 under Napier’s command on 10 June 1822, and proceeded up the Seine to Paris, where she caused a great stir and where she was based for the next decade. This has been claimed as the first passage from France to Britain by steam ship, which it was not: but it was the first direct passage from London to Paris by steam ship and the first seagoing voyage by an iron ship anywhere. Napier’s company built five similar steamships but in 1827 he went bankrupt, leaving the family in severe financial difficulty. (Sold off, the ships gave 30 years further service.)


At the beginning of 1829 he was appointed to command the 42-gun frigate Galatea
HMS Galatea (1810)
HMS Galatea was an Apollo-class fifth rate of the Royal Navy. The frigate was built at Deptford Dockyard, London, England and launched on 31 August 1810. In 1811 she participated in the Battle of Tamatave, which battle confirmed British dominance of the seas east of the Cape of Good Hope for the...

. The Admiralty gave him permission to fit her with paddles of his own design, worked by winches on the main deck. He carried out trials that proved that ships could travel independently of the wind. The Admiralty, however, did not adopt this innovation.

At the start of Portugal's Liberal Wars
Liberal Wars
The Liberal Wars, also known as the Portuguese Civil War, the War of the Two Brothers, or Miguelite War, was a war between progressive constitutionalists and authoritarian absolutists in Portugal over royal succession that lasted from 1828 to 1834...

 in 1832 Napier was at the Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

, which were the only part of Portuguese territory still held for Queen Maria II of Portugal against the usurpation of her uncle, the absolutist Dom Miguel. He so impressed the constitutional leaders, especially the Count de Vila Flor (better known by his later title of Duke of Terceira), that they begged him to take command of their small fleet. Having unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary by-election for Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 in June 1832 after Galatea was paid off, he accepted their proposals in February 1833.

Sailing to Portugal with his stepson Charles Elers Napier
Charles Elers Napier
Charles George Elers Napier, born 22 May 1812, drowned 20 December 1847, was a British naval officer who packed much action into a short career.-Career:...

 as aide-de-camp, bringing troop reinforcements and using the incognito of 'Carlos da Ponza', he arrived in Oporto, where Queen Maria's father Dom Pedro
Dom Pedro
Dom Pedro is the traditional Portuguese appellation of several kings of Portugal:* Peter I of Portugal* Peter II of Portugal* Peter III of Portugal* Pedro IV of Portugal* Pedro V of Portugal...

, ex-Emperor of Brazil, and the Liberal forces were being besieged by Miguel's armies. He assumed command of the Liberal fleet, succeeding its previous British commander George Rose Sartorius
George Sartorius
Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Rose Sartorius GCB was a Royal Navy officer who also commanded the navy of Dom Pedro in the Portuguese Civil Wars.-Naval career:...


With the fleet Napier then transported the Liberal army to the Algarve to open a second front in the south of the country. On his return voyage he destroyed the much larger Miguelite fleet in the Battle of Cape St Vincent
Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1833)
The fourth Battle of Cape St Vincent was fought on 5 July 1833 and was a decisive encounter in Portugal's Liberal Wars. A naval squadron commanded by the British officer Charles Napier, on behalf of Dom Pedro IV, regent for the rightful Queen Maria II, defeated the navy of the usurper Dom...

 on 5 July 1833. These two strokes enabled the Liberals to capture Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, which the Miguelites abandoned, though Napier's squadron was now ravaged by cholera.

On the demand of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Napier was struck off the British navy list. On the other hand Dom Pedro appointed him Admiral of the Portuguese Navy on 10 July. Napier's victory, with a fleet largely manned by British seamen, was viewed in Britain as a credit to the Royal Navy. The victory and consequent accolades greatly annoyed King William IV
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

, who disliked both Napier and Dom Pedro.

Continuing his Portuguese services, Napier commanded land forces in the successful defence of Lisbon, September 1833. For these services he was made Grand Commander of the Tower and Sword
Order of the Tower and Sword
The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. It was created by King Afonso V in 1459....

, and Count of the Cape of Saint Vincent in the Peerage of Portugal.

In 1834, with a small army made up largely of British sailors, he reconquered the Minho
Entre Douro e Minho
Entre Douro e Minho is one of the historical provinces of Portugal which encompassed the country's northern Atlantic seaboard between the Douro and Minho rivers. Contemporaries often referred to the province as simply "Minho"...

 region for the constitutional cause. After the final defeat of Miguel and the death of Dom Pedro shortly afterwards, Napier found himself frustrated in his attempts to reform the naval administration of Portugal and returned to England. His departure was followed by a vote of thanks to him in both houses of the restored Portuguese parliament.

Napier unsuccessfully contested the Portsmouth parliamentary seat for a second time in the by-election of December 1834. He then occupied himself until 1836 with writing a history of the Portuguese War and his own part in it.

Syrian War

Though he published his An Account of the War in Portugal as 'Admiral Charles Napier', he was only an Admiral as far as Portugal was concerned. He was restored to his former rank of Captain in the British Navy List
Navy List
A Navy List or Naval Register is an official list of naval officers, their ranks and seniority, the ships which they command or to which they are appointed, etc., that is published by the government or naval authorities of a country....

 by an Order in Council on 9 March 1836, and in July 1837 unsuccessfully contested the by-election for Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

 in the Liberal cause. In 1838 received command of the ship of the line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

 HMS Powerful
HMS Powerful (1826)
HMS Powerful was an 84-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 21 June 1826 at Chatham Dockyard.From 1 January 1839 to the end of 1840 she was commanded by Captain Charles Napier, mainly in the Mediterranean and for much of the time as lead ship of a detached squadron under...


When troubles broke out in Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali of Egypt
Muhammad Ali Pasha al-Mas'ud ibn Agha was a commander in the Ottoman army, who became Wāli, and self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan...

, ruler of Egypt, invaded it and destroyed a Turkish army, Napier was ordered to the Mediterranean. On the evening of 29 May 1839 Powerful was anchored in the Cove of Cork, Ireland when urgent orders came from the Admiralty to proceed at once to Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. He was also informed that the ships-of-the-line HMS Ganges
HMS Ganges (1821)
HMS Ganges was an 84-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 10 November 1821 at Bombay Dockyard, constructed from teak...

 and HMS Implacable
HMS Implacable (1805)
HMS Implacable was a 74-gun third rate of the Royal Navy. She was originally the French Navy's Téméraire-class ship of the line Duguay-Trouin, launched in 1800....

 had already started from England. Wishing to overtake them, Napier set sail at 2 a.m. on the 30th for Gibraltar. Powerful arrived at Gibraltar on 12 June to hear the other two ships were three days ahead of her, but by superior seamanship Napier overtook them in the Mediterranean and Powerful entered the harbour of La Valletta, Malta on the evening of 24 June, with band playing and under every stitch of canvas, twelve hours ahead of her rivals. There followed a lull of about a year.

In the summer of 1840 the Maronite Christians of Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 rose in revolt against the occupying Egyptians and Muhammad Ali in retaliation sent Ibrahim Pasha
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

 with 15,000 troops to burn towns and villages along the Lebanese coast. By 1 July 1840 Napier, with a detached squadron and the rank of Commodore
Commodore (rank)
Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

, was patrolling the coast to protect British interests. Though in August he appeared off Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 and called upon Suleiman Pasha
Suleiman Pasha
Suleiman Pasha was a French-born Egyptian commander...

, Muhammad Ali’s governor, to abandon the town and leave Syria, there was little he could do until September, when he was joined by the allied fleet under Admiral Robert Stopford
Robert Stopford (naval officer)
Admiral The Honourable Sir Robert Stopford GCB, GCMG , was a distinguished officer in the Royal Navy whose career spanned over 60 years, from the French Revolutionary Wars to the Syrian War.-Naval career:...

: mainly British, but also including Austrian, Ottoman and Russian warships. Open war broke out on 11 September. Due to the illness of the army commander, Brigadier-General Sir Charles Smith, Napier was instructed to lead the land force, and effected a landing at D'jounie with 1,500 Turks and Marines to operate against Ibrahim, who was prevented by the revolt from doing more than trying to hold the coastal cities. Meanwhile Stopford, claiming his flag of truce had been fired on, bombarded Beirut, killing many civilians. Napier next distinguished himself by leading an attack by land and sea on Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

, the Egyptian army’s southern base, which capitulated on 28 September.

The Egyptians abandoned Beirut on 3 October. While preparing to attack them at Boharsef, Napier was ordered to relinquish command of the army to withdraw and hand over the land forces to the now recovered Brigadier-General Smith. To do so would have meant giving up the tactical initiative, and Napier accordingly disobeyed the order and continued with the attack against Ibrahim’s army. The ensuing Battle of Boharsef, on 10 October, was a hard-fought victory, one of the very few land battles won by a naval officer. By the end of the month the only coastal position still held by the Egyptians was Acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

, which Stopford was instructed to recapture. On 3 November the Mediterranean Fleet, with its Turkish and Austrian allies, moved into position against the western and southern sides of the town. The fire of the ships (48,000 rounds in all) was devastatingly accurate. A shell penetrated the main magazine in the south of the city, which exploded killing 1,100 men. That night Acre was occupied. British losses were only 18 men killed and 41 wounded. During the action, Napier had maneuvered independently against Stopford’s orders and his division, by accident and mutual misunderstandings, left a space in the fleet’s deployment, not that this affected the outcome. Some captains wanted Napier to be court-martialled for insubordination, but Stopford did not push the issue.

The rapid collapse of Muhammad Ali’s power, with the prospect of bloody chaos in Egypt, was not part of the Allies’ plan, so Stopford sent Napier to command the squadron at Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and to observe the situation. Here, acting once again on his own initiative, Napier appeared before the city on 25 November and enforced a blockade.

Napier, without reference to his Admiral or the British government, personally negotiated a peace with Muhammad Ali. The treaty guaranteed Muhammad Ali and his heirs the sovereignty of Egypt, and pledged to evacuate Ibrahim’s beleaguered army back to Alexandria, if Muhammad Ali in turn renounced all claims to Syria, submitted to the Sultan and returned the Ottoman fleet. 'I do not know if I have done right in settling the eastern question', Napier wrote on 26 November to Lord Minto, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Stopford repudiated the arrangement immediately when he had heard the news; the Sultan and the British ambassador were furious, and several of the Allied powers declared it void. Nevertheless the formal treaty later concluded and confirmed on 27 November was essentially a ratification of Napier’s original, and his friend Lord Palmerston
Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC , known popularly as Lord Palmerston, was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century...

 congratulate Napier. (Muhammad ALi’s last heir, King Farouk, ruled Egypt until 23 July 1952, when the Free Officers Movement
Free Officers Movement
In Egypt, the clandestine revolutionary Free Officers Movement was composed of young junior army officers committed to unseating the Egyptian monarchy and its British advisors...

 under Muhammad Naguib
Muhammad Naguib
Muhammad Naguib was the first President of Egypt, serving from the declaration of the Republic on June 18, 1953 to November 14, 1954. Along with Gamal Abdel Nasser, he was the primary leader of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which ended the rule of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in Egypt and Sudan...

 and Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 staged a military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and forced him to abdicate.)

Parliament and Channel Fleet

In acknowledgment of his distinguished services during the campaign Napier was knighted
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 on 4 December 1840, and was also included in the vote of thanks by the Houses of Parliament. He was also presented by the Emperors of Russia and Austria and the King of Prussia with the Order of St. George of Russia
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

; the Order of Maria Theresa of Austria
Military Order of Maria Theresa
The Military Order of Maria Theresa was an Order of the Austro-Hungarian Empire founded on June 18, 1757, the day of the Battle of Kolin, by the Empress...

; and the Red Eagle of Prussia
Order of the Red Eagle
The Order of the Red Eagle was an order of chivalry of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was awarded to both military personnel and civilians, to recognize valor in combat, excellence in military leadership, long and faithful service to the kingdom, or other achievements...

. In January 1841, Napier he carried out a special mission to Alexandria and Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 to see that the treaty was being adhered to before returning to Britain in March. He was invited to stand as Parliamentary candidate in two constituencies and so at his own request was placed on half pay. He was returned as Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 MP for Marylebone
Marylebone (UK Parliament constituency)
Marylebone was a parliamentary constituency in Middlesex, England from 1832 to 1885. The parliamentary borough formed part of the built up area of London, and returned two members to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

 at the 1841 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1841
-Seats summary:-Whig MPs who lost their seats:*Viscount Morpeth - Chief Secretary for Ireland*Sir George Strickland, Bt*Sir Henry Barron, 1st Baronet-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987...

. He spoke mainly on naval topics, especially conditions for seamen and increasing the strength of the navy. In November, 1841, he was appointed Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

. He subsequently wrote and published War in Syria, his personal account of the campaign. On 4 December 1845 he was invested with the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

Napier continued to be interested in warship design and was responsible for the design of the paddle-frigate HMS Sidon
HMS Sidon (1846)
HMS Sidon was a first-class paddle frigate designed by Sir Charles Napier: her name commemorated his attack on the port of Sidon in 1840 during the Syrian War. Her keel was laid down May 26, 1845 at Deptford Dockyard, and she was launched on May 26, 1846...

 launched in May 1846. In the same year he lost his parliamentary seat but was promoted Rear-Admiral of the Blue on 9 November. In May 1847 he was appointed to the command of the Channel Fleet
Channel Fleet
The Channel Fleet was the Royal Navy formation of warships that defended the waters of the English Channel from 1690 to 1909.-History:The Channel Fleet dates back at least to 1690 when its role was to defend England against the French threat under the leadership of Edward Russell, 1st Earl of...

, hoisting his flag in HMS St Vincent
HMS St Vincent (1815)
HMS St Vincent was a 120-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1810 at Plymouth Dockyard and launched on 11 March 1815 before a crowd that was put at 50,000 spectators.-Service:...

 (120). By this time he was perhaps the naval personality most famous to the general public: his level of everyday name-recognition is shown by the passing allusion in William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.-Biography:...

's famous humorous ballad Little Billee ("the British fleet a-riding at anchor / with Admiral Napier, K.C.B.").

The Channel Fleet was sometimes a sinecure, but this was by no means the case during Napier’s period of command. The fleet’s area of operations was not just the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 but more or less throughout what in the 20th century would be called the Western Approaches
Western Approaches
The Western Approaches is a rectangular area of the Atlantic ocean lying on the western coast of Great Britain. The rectangle is higher than it is wide, the north and south boundaries defined by the north and south ends of the British Isles, the eastern boundary lying on the western coast, and the...

. Portugal was in the closing stages of its ‘little’ civil war, the Patuleia
The Patuleia, Guerra da Patuleia, or Little Civil War was a civil war in Portugal, so called to distinguish it from the 'great' civil war between Dom Pedro IV and Dom Miguel that ended in 1834. The Patuleia occurred after the Revolution of Maria da Fonte, and was closely associated with her...

, and British interests in that country needed protecting. Ireland, in the aftermath of the Potato Famine, was feared to be near insurrection. Moreover there were considerations of experiment and training with new ships, made necessary by the rapid technological advances such as screw
A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics can be modeled by both Bernoulli's...

During 1848, the fleet was mainly off the coast of Ireland, where the political situation dictated that Napier show the flag and train for the eventuality of transporting and landing soldiers on practically any part of the Irish coast. In December he took the Channel Fleet further than it had ever operated before, when it was sent to Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 and then onto the Moroccan coast, with the purpose of curbing the activities of Riff
The Resource Interchange File Format is a generic file container format for storing data in tagged chunks. It is primarily used to store multimedia such as sound and video, though it may also be used to store any arbitrary data....

 pirates. He compelled the Emperor of Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Muley Abderrahman, to grant compensation for the injuries he had inflicted on British commerce.

Napier returned to Britain in April 1849 and was ordered to strike his flag. His disappointment that his expected three years term had been cut short led to bitter letters to The Times criticising the Admiralty’s policy. When he applied for the vacant Mediterranean command, the Government and Admiralty agreed that he could not be trusted and he was rejected, Rear-Admiral Sir James Dundas
James Whitley Deans Dundas
Admiral Sir James Whitley Deans Dundas GCB was a Royal Navy officer and a First Sea Lord.-Naval career:...

 being appointed instead. This led Napier to write more angry letters to the newspapers and directly to Lord John Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC , known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was an English Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century....

 claiming that he had been defrauded of his just rights. He unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat for the Borough of Lambeth
Lambeth (UK Parliament constituency)
Lambeth was a parliamentary constituency centred on the Lambeth district of South London. It returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.-History:...

. On 28 May 1853 he was promoted to Vice-Admiral of the Blue.

Baltic Campaign

On the outbreak of the Russian War, better known as the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, he received the command of the largest fleet which the Royal Navy had assembled since the Napoleonic Wars, destined to act in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

. This was not without misgivings on the part of the Admiralty, but he was the most senior and experienced officer available. Napier hoisted his flag in February 1854 in the steam ship of the line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

 HMS Duke of Wellington
HMS Duke of Wellington
HMS Duke of Wellington was a 131-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1852, she was symptomatic of an era of rapid technological change in the navy, being powered both by sail and steam...

 (131), his subordinate commanders being the Rear-Admirals Armar Lowry Corry
Armar Lowry Corry
Rear Admiral Armar Lowry Corry was a British naval officer.-Naval career:Corry entered the Royal Navy on 1 August 1805, became a Lieutenant on 28 April 1812, a Commander on 13 June 1815, and Captain on 23 July 1821...

, second in command, Henry Ducie Chads
Henry Ducie Chads
Admiral Sir Henry Ducie Chads, GCB was an officer in the Royal Navy who saw action from the Napoleonic Wars to the Crimean War....

, third in command, and James Hanway Plumridge
James Hanway Plumridge
Admiral Sir James Hanway Plumridge, KCB, MP was a British naval officer whose career extended from Trafalgar to the Crimean War, and a Liberal Party Member of Parliament ....

, commanding the scouting forces. They were all elderly men, at most a year or so younger than Napier himself. Napier's force, which was augmented in June by a French fleet sent by Napoleon III, though impressive on paper, was radically unsuited to operations in the Baltic, chronically short of men and especially of experienced seamen, while he was hampered by contradictory sets of orders from the Admiralty. Nevertheless he successfully blockaded all the Russian ports, sufficiently overawed the Russian Baltic Fleet that it never stirred from its moorings, and carried out many bombardment operations as far as the northernmost point of the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

. During the campaign the first ever Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 was won by a Midshipman of the gunboat HMS Hecla
HMS Hecla
Seven ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Hecla, after the volcano Hekla in Iceland.* The first Hecla was a 10-gun bomb vessel purchased in 1797...

who threw a Russian explosive shell overboard before it could detonate. During the campaign Rear-Admiral Corry was invalided home because of poor health; he was replaced by Commodore (later Rear-Admiral) Henry Byam Martin. The major success of the campaign was the capture and destruction, in a near-perfect combined operation by French and British soldiers and sailors, of the Russian fortress of Bomarsund
Bomarsund may refer to:*Bomarsund, Åland, fortress in the Åland Islands, in the Baltic Sea*Bomarsund, Northumberland, village in Northumberland, England...

 on the Aland Islands
Åland Islands
The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

, which were temporarily liberated from Russian rule and which Napier offered to Sweden (they were declined). But he refused to attack the great naval bases at Sveaborg
Suomenlinna, until 1918 Viapori , or Sveaborg , is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands , and which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland.Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular with both tourists and locals, who...

 (often quoted as the "Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 of the north") and Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

, which observation had established were probably impregnable without shallow-draught bomb vessels which he did not have; and a great outcry (led by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

newspaper) was raised against him for his apparent lack of determination. (His inaction was thoroughly justified by the sequel: in 1855 a better-equipped Anglo-French fleet did bombard Sveaborg, but despite an enormous expenditure of ammunition caused the fortress only trifling structural damage.) Napier felt he was continually being second-guessed by the Admiralty, and especially by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham. In fact the Naval Lords were reacting to adverse press coverage and unwilling to accept the assessment of the commander on the spot, and relations between them deteriorated as his ships maintained the blockade in atrocious weather, quite unable to storm or destroy impregnable Russian fortresses into the bargain. Never one to mince his words or submit to what he felt to be unmerited criticism, Napier's 'disrespectful' tone in his despatches, which the Admiralty complained of, sealed his professional fate. Nevertheless, though lacking any dramatic action apart from the capture of Sveaborg, Napier had achieved a great deal. In one modern assessment, the campaign "had successfully bottled up the Russian Navy for the entire first summer of the war. The tsar had been denied an opportunity to reinforce his Black Sea fleet with additional ships. The 30,000 Russian troops posted in the Gulf had also been prevented from joining the army in the Crimea." In addition, Napier's constant training had welded the fleet personnel into a much more competent force for the next year's campaign; and not a single ship had been lost.


On his return in December 1854 he was ordered to haul down his flag and informed his command was terminated, the fleet being given for the campaign of 1855 to Admiral the Hon. Richard Saunders Dundas
Richard Saunders Dundas
Vice Admiral The Hon. Sir Richard Saunders Dundas, KCB was a British naval officer and was the British First Sea Lord from 1857 to 1858 and again from 1859 until his death in 1861.-Early life:...

, the Second Sea Lord
Second Sea Lord
The Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command , commonly just known as the Second Sea Lord , is one of the most senior admirals of the British Royal Navy , and is responsible for personnel and naval shore establishments.-History:In 1805, for the first time, specific functions were...

. (None of the flag officers of the 1854 campaign was allowed to return to the Baltic in 1855, but Sir Michael Seymour, Napier's Captain of the Fleet
Captain of the fleet
In the Royal Navy of the 18th and 19th centuries a Captain of the Fleet could be appointed to assist an admiral when the admiral had ten or more ships to command....

, was promoted to Rear-Admiral and was made second-in-command to Dundas.)

The Admiralty attempted to make Napier a scapegoat for the perceived failure of the campaign (which, within the limits of the possible, had been rather successful) and suborned several captains to testify to their lack of confidence in him, his timidity, his age, his lack of understanding of steam tactics, and his heavy drinking. Nevertheless some of the leading seamen in the fleet, such as Captain (later Admiral) Sir Bartholomew Sulivan
Bartholomew Sulivan
Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan was a British sailor and hydrographer, born at Tregew, Flushing, near Falmouth, Cornwall.He was a leading advocate of the value of nautical surveying in relation to naval operations...

, maintained along with him that Napier's strategy had been wise and the faults lay with the Admiralty themselves.

After the war the Russians testified that, knowing Napier's reputation, their main hope had been of his making a foolhardy attack on their fleet under the guns of Kronstadt, where they were confident he would have come to grief. Napier was elected MP for Southwark
Southwark (UK Parliament constituency)
Southwark was a parliamentary constituency centred on the Southwark district of South London. It returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the English Parliament from 1295 to 1707, to the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and to the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

 in February 1855, and carried his dispute with the Admiralty to the floor of the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

. He was never given another command. He continued to campaign vigorously for the improvement of the way common seamen were treated during and after service, and maintained his parliamentary seat, though broken in health, until his death on the 6 November 1860. His tomb is in the churchyard of All Saints, Catherington
Catherington is a village in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. It is 1 mile northwest of Horndean, just west of the A3 road.The nearest railway station in 3.3 miles southeast of the village, at Rowlands Castle....

 in Hampshire. The ships of the Portuguese Navy went into eight days of mourning for their former commander.

Just before his death he was hoping to persuade Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

 to acquire a fleet for the liberation of Italy, which he would command.


According to the Encyclopedia entry of 1911, "Sir Charles Napier was a man of undoubted energy and courage, but of no less eccentricity and vanity. He caused great offence to many of his brother officers by his behaviour to his superior, Admiral Stopford, in the Syrian War
Syrian War
The Syrian War is the name generally given to the war of 1839-40 fought in the Middle East, also known as the Second Syrian War, mainly on territory that is now Lebanon, between the Allied Powers of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire and the...

, and was embroiled all his life in quarrels with the Admiralty." Napier was a large, untidy man of about 14 stone (about 200lbs/90kg) who walked with a limp and a stoop due to his leg and neck wounds. His common nickname in the Navy was 'Black Charlie' because of his swarthy appearance and dark side-whiskers. He was also known as 'Mad Charlie' because of his eccentric behaviour and enthusiasms, and 'Dirty Charlie' from his habit of wearing the most unsuitable and ill-fitting clothes while insisting that his officers were correctly dressed at all times.

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