Royal Naval Biography/Cole, Christopher

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[Post-Captain of 1802.]

Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath; Doctor of the Civil Law; Member of Parliament for Glamorganshire; and Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Society in South Wales.

This officer is a brother of the Rev. Samuel Cole, D.D. Chaplain of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich; and of the late Dr. Cole, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Rector of Exeter College, and a Domestic Chaplain to H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence. He entered the naval service in 1780, as a Midshipman on board the Royal Oak, of 74 guns, commanded by the late Sir Digby Dent, and then about to sail for the coast of America, as part of the squadron sent thither under the orders of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves. In the course of the same year he was removed into the Raisonable 64; and we subsequently find him serving under the patronage of the late Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Samuel Drake, Bart, in the Russell and Princessa third rates.

The Princessa formed part of the fleets under Sir Samuel Hood and Rear-Admiral Graves, in the actions off Martinique and the Chesapeake, April 29th and Sept. 5th, 1781, and on the latter occasion sustained a loss of 6 men killed and 11 wounded. She also bore a share in the memorable transactions at St. Kitt’s in Jan. 1782; and in Rodney’s battles of April 9th and 12th, 1782[1].

Mr. Cole, who had not yet completed the twelfth year of his age, was at this period the youngest of four brothers serving on the West India station, (three in the navy and one in the army) the whole of whom met together on the arrival of the victorious fleet at Jamaica.

At the peace of 1783, he joined the Trepassey of 12 guns, commanded by his brother, the late Captain Francis Cole, a brave and excellent officer, and accompanied him from the West Indies to Halifax, where he removed into the Atalante sloop, Captain Thomas Foley, with whom he continued on that station till 1785. In the following year we find him proceeding to Newfoundland in the Winchelsea of 32 guns, in which frigate he served under the command of the present Viscount Exmouth until 1789, when, in consequence of a recommendation from Sir Francis Drake, he was received on board the Crown, a 64-gun ship, bearing the broad pendant of the Hon. Commodore Cornwallis, who had recently been appointed to the chief command in India.

Unfortunately for Mr. Cole, the account of his patron’s death reached India a few months after his arrival there, and all hopes of speedy promotion were consequently abandoned by him; nor did he obtain the rank he had so long sought after until 1793, at which period he had served upwards of thirteen years under some of the best practical seamen in the navy[2]. In October, 1794, he was appointed first Lieutenant of the Cerberus, a new 32-gun frigate, at the particular request of Captain John Drew, on whose application two Midshipmen were promoted into her for the purpose of securing that situation to Mr. Cole, whose character and abilities he held in the highest estimation.

In 1795, Lieutenant Cole joined the Sans Pareil of 80 guns, bearing the flag of Lord Hugh Seymour, to whom he was recommended in the warmest manner by his late Captain. After serving for four years under the eye of that distinguished nobleman, it was left to his option, as senior Lieutenant of the Sans Pareil, either to accept the rank of Commander, and go on half pay, or proceed as his Lordship’s Flag-Lieutenant to the West Indies, where promotion might be expected, accompanied by immediate employment. Mr. Cole very naturally chose the latter, and accompanied his noble friend to the Leeward Islands in the Tamar frigate. Soon after their arrival on that station, the Dutch colony of Surinam surrendered without opposition to the British forces, and the Hussar, a fine prize corvette, mounting 20 nine -pounders, was immediately purchased into the service, named after the island where she was captured, and the command of her conferred upon the subject of this memoir.

The Surinam cruised with considerable activity, and Captain Cole was fortunate enough to take several of the enemy’s privateers, and make some recaptures: his exertions to promote the comforts of his men on all occasions, but particularly during a season of extraordinary malignity, were also very great, and eminently successful; the Surinam’s crew affording a remarkable instance of good health at a time when the yellow fever was committing great ravages in other ships, and on shore: the contrast was indeed so striking as to induce the commander-in-chief to represent it officially to the Admiralty.

In 1800, Lord Hugh Seymour was removed from the Leeward Islands to Jamaica, and with the consent of Sir John T. Duckworth, who had succeeded him on the former station, he despatched the Galgo from Port Royal to relieve the Surinam; but his wish to have Captain Cole under his orders again was frustrated by the unhappy fate of the Galgo, which vessel foundered with the greater part of her crew, during a heavy squall, on the 9th Oct. in that year.

Some time after this sad event, Captain Cole had the misfortune to be deprived of his noble friend, who fell a sacrifice to the yellow fever, and died sincerely regretted by all who were acquainted with his claims to respect and admiration[3].

Deeply as he felt the loss of such a friend, still Captain Cole had the gratification of finding that he had gained the favourable opinion of Sir John T Duckworth, by his conspicuous zeal and alacrity on every occasion of public service, and which was shortly proved by that officer promoting him into his flagship, the Leviathan of 74 guns, and afterwards appointing him to the command of the Southampton frigate. His post commission was confirmed by the Admiralty, April 20, 1802.

A cessation of hostilities having now taken place in Europe, the Southampton was soon after ordered home, and paid off in the month of September following. Captain Cole’s next appointment was, in June 1804, to the Culloden 74, fitting for the flag of his old friend and commander, Sir Edward Pellew, with whom he proceeded to the East India station, where he captured l’Emilien, French corvette, of 18 guns and 150 men, Sept. 25, 1806. This vessel had formerly been the Trincomalee, British sloop of war. He also assisted at the capture and destruction of about thirty sail of Dutch shipping, including a national frigate and several armed vessels, in Batavia Roads, on the 27th Nov. in the same year[4].

We next find Captain Cole commanding the Doris, a new frigate, built at Bombay, and with the Psyche, Captain Edgcunibe, under his orders, escorting Colonel Malcolm, Ambassador to the Persian court, to Abashir, in the Gulf of Persia, and remaining at that place for the protection of the embassy. On his return from thence he received the thanks of the Governor-General in council, accompanied by a present of 500l. for his services on that occasion.

During the years 1808 and 1809, Captain Cole was principally employed cruising in the Straits of Malacca, and the China seas. Upon the arrival of intelligence respecting the change of political affairs in Spain, he was despatched by Rear-Admiral Drury, who had succeeded to the command in India, with the Psyche again under his orders, to communicate with and endeavour to conciliate the government of the Phillipine islands. Having completely succeeded in this mission, and received information from a valuable prize (the Japan ship from Batavia) that two French frigates had proceeded to China, and were likely to remain there some time, he took upon himself the responsibility of proceeding thither in quest of them. Finding, on his arrival at Macao, that the enemy had not made their appearance in that quarter, he endeavoured to return through the sea of China, against the foul-weather monsoon. His endeavours, however, proved ineffectual, the ships being forced into the Mindoro Sea and Pacific Ocean. A scarcity of provisions, added to the severe weather and fatigue encountered by the crews of the Doris and Psyche, now produced an attack of scurvy and dysentery, by which the former frigate lost 40 men before she anchored in Malacca Roads, and on her arrival there no less than 80 others were confined to their hammocks through sickness. The Psyche suffered in a nearly equal degree. To enable the reader to judge of Captain Cole’s anxiety on this alarming occasion, we need only add, that during the latter part of the passage there remained but 1 Lieutenant, the gunner, and 56 men, who were able to keep watch on board the Doris, and assist her commander in the arduous duties he had to perform.

In 1810, Captain Cole was removed, at his own request, into the Caroline of 36 guns. He soon after received orders to take the Piedmontaise frigate, Baracouta brig, and Mandarin transport under his command, and proceed with them to the assistance of the garrison of Amboyna, which island had recently been taken by the British[5].

Having received on board a considerable sum in specie, large supplies of provisions, and 100 European troops, the squadron left Madras on the 10th May, and arrived at Prince of Wales’s Island (Pulo-Penang) on the 30th of the same month. Whilst there, he signified to the government his intention to attempt the reduction of the Banda islands on his way to Amboyna, and was furnished with 20 artillery-men, commanded by a Lieutenant of that corps, 2 field-pieces, and twenty scaling-ladders, to assist him in the undertaking.

After a passage of six weeks, against the S.E. monsoon, through the Straits of Malacca, the intricate navigation on the N.E. side of Borneo, and the Sooloo Sea, the squadron passed through Pitt’s Straits, and entered the Java Sea on the 23d July. On the 7th of the following month, Captain Cole communicated with the island of Goram, for the purpose of obtaining information and procuring guides.

During the whole of this long passage, the ships’ companies had been daily exercised in the use of the pike, sword, and small arms, and in mounting the scaling ladders placed against the masts, preparatory to any attempt at escalade. The expertness with which they handled their weapons, and the emulation displayed by them when imitating the storming of a fortress, added to their excellent health and high spirits, convinced Captain Cole that, however deficient in numbers, could have been found better calculated to ensure success to any hazardous enterprise. The result of that in which he was then about to embark, against a strong, and generally supposed impregnable fortification, it would be difficult to describe better than in his own words. His plain and modest narrative marks so strongly the intrinsic merit of himself and his gallant associates, that it would be almost presumptuous were we to offer a word of commendation; but as official reports, however clearly written, generally require a little elucidation, we shall avail ourselves of some well-authenticated information respecting the capture of Banda, by introducing it in the shape of notes, instead of incorporating it with the substance of his public letter, of which the following is a copy:

H.M.S. Caroline, Banda Harbour, Aug. 10, 1810.

“Sir,– I have the honor and happiness of acquainting you with the capture of Banda Neira, the chief of the Spice Islands, on the 9th Aug., by a portion of the force under my orders, in consequence of a night attack, which completely surprised the enemy, although the approach of the ships had been unavoidably discovered the day before[6].

“The weather proved so unfavorable for boat-service on the night of the 8th, that although nearly 400 officers and men had been selected for this occasion, yet, on assembling under Great Banda, at two o’clock in the following morning, I found that the state of the weather would deprive us of the services of some valuable men under Lieutenant Stephens, of the royal marines, and the greater part of the detachment of the Madras European regiment, from whom I had expected the most steady support and assistance. The attempt was now to be made with less than 200 men, consisting of the seamen and marines, and about 40 of the Madras European regiment, or our labors in the boats through a dark and squally night, in the open sea, must have ended in the severest mortification. After getting under shelter of the land, the same circumstances of the weather which before operated against us, were now favorable to us; and the confidence I had in the handful of officers and men about me, left me no hesitation: and, with a degree of silence and firmness that will ever command my heartfelt acknowledgments, the boats proceeded to the point of debarkation[7].

“A dark cloud with rain covered our landing within one hundred yards of a battery of 10 guns; and by the promptitude and activity of acting Captain Kenah, and Lieutenant Carew, who were ordered with the pikemen to the attack, the battery was taken in the rear, and an officer and his guard made prisoners, without a musket being fired, although the enemy were at their guns with matches lighted. From the near approach of daylight, our situation became critical; but we had procured a native guide to carry us to the walls of the castle of Belgica; and leaving a guard over the prisoners, and in charge of the battery, the party made a rapid movement round the skirts of the town, where the sound of the bugle was spreading alarm among the enemy[8]. In twenty minutes the scaling ladders were placed against the walls of the outer pentagon of Belgica; and the first guns were fired by the enemy’s sentries[9] . The gallantry and activity with which the scaling ladders were hauled up after the outwork was carried, and placed for the attack of the inner work, under a sharp fire from the garrison, exceed all praise. The enemy, after firing three guns[10], and keeping up an ineffectual discharge of musketry for 10 or 15 minutes, fled in all directions, and through the gateway, leaving the Colonel-Commandant and 10 others dead, and 2 officers and 30 men prisoners in our hands. Captain Kenah, Lieutenants Carew, Allen, Pratt, Walker, and Lyons, of the navy; Lieutenant Yates, and Ensign Allen (a volunteer) of the Madras service, were among the foremost in the escalade; and my thanks are due to Captain-Lieutenant Nixon, of the Madras European regiment, for the steady and officer-like conduct with which he directed the covering party entrusted to his charge; and to Lieutenants Brown and Decker, of that regiment, attached to the marines. With such examples our brave fellows swept the ramparts like a whirlwind; and, in addition to the providential circumstance of the service being performed with scarcely a hurt or wound, I have the satisfaction of reporting that there was no instance of irregularity arising from success[11].

“The day now beaming on the British flag, discovered to us the fort of Nassau, and the sea defences at our feet, and the enemy at their guns at the different posts. I dispatched Captain Kenah with a flag of truce to the Governor, requiring the immediate surrender of Nassau, and with a promise of protection for private property. At sun-rise the Dutch flag was hoisted in Nassau, and the sea-batteries opened a fire on the Caroline (followed by the Piedmontaise and Baracouta, then approaching the harbour[12]). Having selected a detachment to secure Belgica, the remainder, with their scaling ladders, were ordered for the immediate storm of Nassau; but Captain Kenah had returned with the verbal submission of the Governor, and I was induced to send a second flag, stating my determination to storm Nassau that instant, and to lay the town in ashes, if the colours were not immediately struck. This threat, and a well-placed shot from Belgica into one of their sea-batteries, produced an immediate and unqualified submission, and we found ourselves in possession of the two forts, and several batteries, mounting 120 pieces of cannon, and defended by 700 disciplined troops, besides the militia[13].

“The ships had been left with so few men to manage them, that I had merely directed Captain Foote to lead into any anchorage that he might be able to obtain, to make a diversion in our favor; but they were worked against all the unfavorable circumstances of a dark and squally night, in a narrow channel, with the most determined perseverance, and with that degree of zeal that I expected from an officer of my own rank, whose heart and hand had always been with me on every point of public service[14].

“Captain Kenah, who led the storming party, crowned a series of valuable services during two months’ difficult and intricate navigation through the Eastern seas, by his bravery and activity on shore[15].

“The colours of Forts Nassau and Belgica will be presented to your Excellency by Lieutenant John Gilmour, who has served nine years in this country as a Lieutenant, and a large portion of that time as first Lieutenant under my command. Although labouring under a severe illness, he took charge of the ship on my quitting her; and his seaman-like arid zealous conduct in the discharge of his trust were most conspicuous.

“I also transmit a plan of the defences of Banda Neira, with the position of the Dutch troops, and our route from the landing-place to Belgica: the enemy had advanced a strong corps towards the place where Admiral Rainier’s forces had formerly landed; and a suspicion that this would be the case, and that the roads would be destroyed, determined me as to the point and method of our attack[16].

“The service performed was of such a peculiar nature, that I could not do justice to the merits of my companions without entering much into detail and I feel confident that, in your Excellency’s disposition to appreciate duly the merits of those under your command, I shall find an excuse for having taken up so much of your time. I am, &c,

(Signed)Christopher Cole.”

To His Excellency,
Rear Admiral Drury, &c.

After making every arrangement for the security of this valuable possession, and appointing Captain Foote Lieutenant-Governor of Banda Neira and its dependencies, Captain Cole delivered the charge of the islands to that officer, and returned to Madras in the Caroline. The Baracouta had previously been sent to communicate his success to Rear-Admiral Dairy, and the Government of India. On the day of his departure he received the following letters from the officers who had served under his orders on this brilliant expedition:

H.M.S. Piedmontaise, Banda Harbour, 15th Aug. 1810.

“My dear Cole, Kenah and myself request your acceptance of a silver cup (to be made in England) in commemoration of the gallant manner you led on to and directed the attack and capture of the forts at Banda; it may possibly have been equalled, but can never be surpassed: we therefore hope you will receive it as a testimony of our high esteem and friendship, and admiration of your spirited and noble conduct on the 9th of August. Most sincerely do we both wish that you may live long to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and to follow up your present success. Believe us, my dear Cole, your sincere and affectionate friends,

(Signed)Charles Foote.”
(Signed)Richard Kenah."

Banda Harbour, 18th, Aug. 1810.

“Sir,– We, the undersigned officers of H.M. ships Caroline, Piedmontaise, and Baracouta, beg leave to present you with a sword, value 100 guineas, in testimony of our approbation of the gallant and judicious manner in which you conducted the attack on Banda Neira on the 9th of August, and consequently the final reduction of the Spice Islands.


J. Gilmour, Lieut. Thomas Carew, Lieut. J. White, Lieut.
Samuel Allen, — Robert Walker, — Edmund Lyons, —
George Pratt, — Robert Barker, — S. G. Davis, Surgeon.
Andw. Smart, Master. G. Cummings, Master. J. Scott, Purser


T. Dods, Surgeon. A. Stevens, Lt. R. M.
J. Seward, Purser. J. Lincoln, Surgeon.
F. Lynch, Supy.

of Caroline

Joseph Jacobs, Purser.
A. Buchanan, Supy.

of Piedmontaise

Banda Neira, Aug. 22, 1810.

“Sir,– In addressing you upon the capture of Banda Neira and its dependencies, which secures to the British flag a conquest of great value, the officers of the Hon. Company’s troops engaged in that enterprise have to congratulate you and themselves upon the successful issue, under every disadvantage of wind and weather, upon a hostile shore lined with numerous batteries; the enemy aware of and prepared for an attack, so wisely planned, and so ably carried into execution under your personal direction. The confidence you inspired all with on the approach to assault Belgica, we are convinced contributed in a great measure to the success of the escalade. Your bravery and gallant conduct was so conspicuous on that occasion, that it must secure to you the esteem and admiration of all who are acquainted, as we are, with the circumstances attending the reduction of that strong and important citadel.

“As a memorial of the high sense we entertain of the services performed by you on this occasion, and as a mark of our personal esteem and respect, we request you will do us the honor to accept of a sword of the value of 100 guineas. We further beg leave to assure you that our warmest wishes for your future success and happiness will always attend you in whatever situation it may please Providence to fix your lot.

(Signed) G. L. Nixon, Capt. Mad. Europ. Reg.
George Alexander, Surgeon.
C. W. Yates, Lieut. Artillery.
Wm. Davenant,

Mad. Europ. Reg.

James Stuart,
P. Brown,
Wm. Jonks Decker,
P. Hooper,
Charles Allen, Ensign 21st. Mad. Nat. Inf.”

Finding, on his arrival at Madras, that the commander-in-Chief was absent on an expedition against the Mauritius, Captain Cole proceeded from thence to Bombay, for the purpose of refitting his frigate. The following extracts are taken from letters which he afterwards received: the first in answer to a letter presenting Rear-Admiral Drury with the colours of Belgica, and 2 brass guns from the captors; the second in answer to the despatches sent to the Bengal government:

Dec. 22, 1810.

“Sir, I have great satisfaction in the highly flattering communication you have made to me of the sentiments of yourself and of your brave companions who so nobly and successfully carried the supposed impregnable fortress of Banda Neira, the colours of which, and 2 guns taken under your auspices, by a handful of men composed of seamen and marines, and the intrepid officers and soldiers of the Madras European regiment, confer on me an honor and happiness far beyond my deserts, but most gratefully and thankfully received, as coming from a body of men so highly and particularly distinguished. I beg you to make my acknowledgments to the Banda heroes, whose heartfelt encomiums on their gallant leader do equal honor and justice to theai selves, and place on your brow a never-fading laurel.

(Signed)W. O’Brien Drury.”

From the Secretary to the Bengal Government, dated Nov. 23, 1810.

“The details of this brilliant achievement, and of your arrangements for the administration and security of the islands, have been communicated to his Lordship in council, who observes with just admiration the judgment, ability, and foresight, manifested by you in the plan of attack, and the zeal, intrepidity, and precision, with which it was carried into effect by the gallant officers and men of the naval and military services under your direction. His Lordship and council consider the rapid conquest of a place so strongly fortified by nature and by art, in the face of a superior force, without the loss of a man, as forming a singular event in the annals of British enterprise, reflecting a peculiar degree of credit on your professional skill, and affording an extraordinary instance of discipline, courage, and activity, on the part of the men under your command.”

Vice-Admiral Drury having returned to India from the Isle of France early in 1811, Captain Cole received orders to join his flag on the Malabar coast; and on his arrival at Madras found that an extensive armament was about to be fitted out for an expedition against the island of Java. The severe illness of the commander-in-chief, which terminated in his death, induced him to issue an order that all Captain Cole’s directions for the preparation of the armament were to be obeyed; and the necessary arrangements were accordingly made by the subject of this memoir till the arrival of a senior officer, the late Captain W. R. Broughton, some time after the Vice-Admiral’s demise, at which period the fleet was nearly ready for sea.

In our memoir of Captain George Sayer, C.B.[17], we have already stated that the armament arrived in Chillingching Bay (about 10 or 12 miles to the eastward of Batavia) on the 4th Aug. 1811, and that the greater part of the army was landed the same day before dark: it now becomes our duty to record an instance of prompt decision on the part of Captain Cole, who had previously been entrusted with the command of the frigates appointed to cover the debarkation, and for which he afterwards received the warm personal thanks of Lord Minto, the Governor-General of India, who had accompanied the expedition, and Sir Samuel Auchmuty, the commander-in-chief of the forces.

The sloops of war and the Hon. Company’s cruisers had anchored near the beach in readiness to scour it, and the troop-ships without them, covered by the Caroline, Modeste, and Bucephalus. The rapid approach of the fleet had prevented the enemy from ascertaining the intended place of landing in time to send a force thither to guard it: this being noticed by Captain Cole, he made the signal from the Caroline, for the advance of the army to land immediately, then hoisted out his boats, tripped his anchor, and dropped the Caroline nearer to the shore. No time was occupied in arranging the order of the boats, they being ordered to shove off when manned and filled with troops. His example being followed by Captains Elliot and Pelly, and the boats of the other men of war being sent to assist in conveying the troops, about 8000 soldiers, with their guns, ammunition, and provisions, were landed in safety by half past six o’clock. Soon after dark the British advanced guard had a skirmish with the enemy’s patroles, who, but for Captain Cole’s alacrity and promptitude in making the above signal, without waiting to complete the arrangement of boats, &c., as usual in such cases, would have taken post in a wood at the back of the beach, and might have occasioned great loss to the invading army. We should here observe, that Captain Cole had previously volunteered to command the naval battalion appointed to serve on shore; but the presence of Captain Sayer, who was senior in rank to himself, and equally desirous of the honor, prevented Commodore Broughton from placing him in that honorable post. He subsequently obtained permission from Rear-Admiral Stopford to proceed to head-quarters and make an offer of 400 additional seamen, to be commanded by himself, to assist in storming Meester Cornelis, or any of the enemy’s positions; but his co-operation was necessarily declined, as such an increase of force was not wanted, and might have served to discover the General’s intention to the enemy.

The following is an extract from Rear-Admiral Stopford’s despatches relative to the reduction of Java, dated Scipion, Batavia Roads, Aug. 28, 1811:

“I send this despatch by the Caroline, and I am happy to have so good an opportunity as is offered by Captain Cole who has had a large share in every thing relating to this expedition, and from his knowledge of all the parts of the operations, can communicate to their Lordships, the fullest account of them[18].”

Captain Cole arrived in England towards the close of 1811, and soon after received a letter from the Secretary to the Admiralty, informing him that he was to be honored with an appropriate medal for the capture of Banda, and enclosing a copy of the letter which had been written to Vice-Admiral Drury, in answer to his despatch announcing the conquest of that island.

Admiralty Office, July 3, 1811.

“Sir,– I received on the 1st inst. by Lieutenant Kenah, and laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, your despatch of the 3d Jan. reporting the capture of the valuable islands of Banda on the 9th Aug. 1810; and transmitting copies of the reports made to you by Captain Cole, of the particulars of that gallant achievement, and especially of the storming of the almost impregnable fortress of Belgica, by a body of lees than 200 men, under his immediate direction, which led to the final surrender of the islands. Upon this occasion, so honorable to His Majesty’s arms, I have been commanded to express to you their Lordships’ high approbation of the judgment and gallantry displayed by Captain Cole, and of the zeal and valour of all the officers and men under his orders, which you will accordingly signify to them in a proper manner. I am, &c.

(Signed)J. W. Choker.”

The Caroline was paid off in Jan. 1812, and on that occasion Captain Cole had the gratification of receiving an epistle from his veteran crew, an exact copy of which is subjoined:

“We the crew of H.M.S. Caroline wishes to give you our most gracious thanks for the care and favour you have shewn to this ship’s company, by making you a present of a sword amounting to 100 guineas for your noble and brave conduct when you led us to the storm of Banda, and likewise the zealous bravery in landing our troops at Batavia; and by excepting of this present you will gratify the wishes of your most obedient ship’s company,

(Signed)The Carolines.

Captain Cole received the honor of knighthood, May 29, 1812; and on his return from the Prince Regent’s levee, the sword alluded to above was presented to him by Mr. Barker, a cutler of Portsmouth, with an address couched in the following terms:

“Sir,– I am requested by James Macdowal, and others, on behalf of the crew of H.M. frigate Caroline, to present you with this sword, as a testimony of the high esteem and respect they entertain for you as their late Commander, in return for the marked attention you at all times paid to them; for the gallant manner in which you took them into action, and for the honorable manner in which you brought them out; for the unceasing zeal you invariably have manifested for your country’s cause, and for the comforts they enjoyed whilst they served under your command, they humbly trust you will accept the same, as a pledge of gratitude and token of veneration for you, which time can never efface from their memory.”

A present and an address of this kind, from private men to their late commander, must be regarded as a compliment of the highest and most valuable description. Captain Cole having ceased to command these brave fellows, it is obrious that no feelings could exist, but those of the respect, admiration, and gratitude which they professed.

In the course of the same year, Sir Christopher Cole received the degree of a D.C.L. from the University of Oxford; and a piece of plate, value 300 guineas, from the East India Company: the latter was presented to him “as a testimony of the high sense they entertained of the services rendered by him when commanding the Caroline in the Indian seas[19].”

His next appointment was, early in 1813, to the Rippon, a new 74, fitting for Channel service. On the 21st Oct. in the same year, he intercepted le Weser, a French frigate of 44 guns, which had already been completely crippled and beaten by two British brigs of 18 guns each[20]; and in Feb. 1814, he was present at the re-capture of a Spanish treasure ship of immense value, by the Menelaus frigate, off l’Orient[21]. He continued cruising with his usual activity and success till the conclusion of the war in Europe, and was put out of commission at the latter end of 1814, after an almost uninterrupted series of constant service afloat for 34 years, more than half of which period he had passed in the East and West Indies.

Sir Christopher Cole was nominated a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; elected M.P. for Glamorganshire in 1817; re-elected for the same county in 1820; and installed Deputy Grand Master for South Wales, July 10, 1821[22]. He married, April 28, 1815, Lady Mary Talbot, relict of the late T. M. Talbot, of Margam Park, and Penrice Castle, co. Glamorgan, Esq. and daughter of the late Stephen Earl of Ilchester.

Agent.– Thomas Stilwell, Esq.

  1. See vol. II., part I., pp. 62 to 65, and notes at ditto. N.B. Rear-Admiral Drake led the van division of the British fleet, and highly distinguished himself, on the glorious 12th of April. He died a Lord of the Admiralty, and M.P. for Plymouth, Oct. 19, 1789.
  2. Mr. Cole followed Commodore Cornwallis from the Crown, into the Minerva frigate, and continued with that officer nearly five years.
  3. Lord Hugh Seymour died Sept. 11, 1801, in the 46th year of his age. He was attacked by the fatal fever of the West Indies, about the middle of the summer, from which he had but a temporary respite, as it returned with increased violence on the 1st of Sept., and on the llth deprived the service of a gallant and meritorious commander, and society of a most accomplished and estimable member. The particulars of his Lordship’s professional career will be found in the Naval Chronicle. He left seven orphan children to mourn their irreparable loss; his amiable consort having died on the 12th Jan. in the same year.
  4. See Vol. I., p. 223.
  5. See Captain Sir Edward Tucker, K.C.B.
  6. On the evening of the 8th Aug., when the Banda Islands were just visible, all the boats were hoisted out, and every preparation made for the attack. It was intended to run the ships into the harbour before day-light in the morning, and a hope was entertained that they might remain undiscovered till then; but they were fired at by a battery when passing the small island of Rosensgen, about 10 P.M. which island the ships had approached rather close, not knowing that it was fortified. The weather about this time changed suddenly from a fine clear moonlight to violent squalls, accompanied by thunder, lightning, and rain; and the alarm having been spread throughout the islands, all hopes of surprising them by the ships was at an end.
  7. The men selected for shore service, 390 in number, took a nap with their arms by their sides whilst the ships were standing towards the land. At 11 P.M. they were ordered into the boats, and directed to rendezvous close under the lee of the point of Great Banda; but at 3 A.M. a few boats, containing 180 officers and men only, had reached the place appointed, the rest having been driven to leeward. Some large (ires denoted the exact situation of Banda Neira, the seat of government, which island was strongly fortified, having a citadel, and numerous sea batteries, two of which, mounting ten 18-pounders each, with Fort Nassau, commanded the harbour. As no time was to be lost in attempting something before daylight, this small force, under the personal direction of Captain Cole, accompanied by the acting Commander of the Baracouta, pulled immediately across the harbour, with the intention of surprising the two 10-gun batteries and spiking the guns, that the ships might take their anchorage at day-light with the less difficulty.
  8. An officer and 60 men were taken prisoners in the first battery, without firing a pistol: the sentinel was killed by a pike. Fortunately, the nature of the attack required no firing from the assailants, as the boats grounded at some distance from the shore, and the men had to wade up to their waists in water. Expecting an attack by sea, the enemy were fully prepared to give the ships a warm reception. Their confusion on finding the British in their rear, may readily be conceived. Captain Kenah had been ordered to attack the other battery, but was recalled in consequence of Captain Cole determining to attempt the citadel, which commanded all the other defences, by coup-de-main.
  9. Owing to the state of the weather, Captain Cole and his followers were not discovered until within 100 yards of the ditch surrounding the citadel.
  10. The great guns near which the ladders were placed fortunately burnt priming, owing to the heavy rains.
  11. The ladders being found too short for the escalade of the inner walls, a rush was made for the gateway, which had at that instant been opened by the guard to admit the Colonel-Commandant, and three other officers, who lived in houses at the foot of the hill. The Colonel refused to receive quarter, and fell in the gateway, sword in hand, and covered with honorable wounds; several of the guard were also slain, and many of the panic-struck garrison threw themselves over the walls, but the greater part escaped. Four officers surrendered their swords to Captain Cole immediately under the flag-staff; forty artillery-men were disarmed on the same spot, and the British colours were immediately hoisted with three hearty cheers. At break of day the assailants found themselves in complete possession of the citadel, with 52 pieces of heavy cannon mounted on its walls; but neither the ships nor the remainder of the landing party were to be seen, the violence of the weather during the night having prevented their approach.
  12. The Caroline did not return a shot; but her first Lieutenant led into the harbour, and anchored abreast of Fort Nassau, uncertain of the fate of his Captain until the guns of Belgica silenced the fire of the battery.
  13. The island of Banda Neira is little more than 2f miles long, and a 1/2 mile broad. Its shores were defended by ten batteries, in addition to the citadel and Fort Nassau. The total number of guns mounted on the different works was afterwards ascertained to be 138, and no less than 1500 men piled their arms on the glacis of the fort the very day of its capture; yet, strange as it may appear, scarcely one of the victorious little band received a hurt that could with propriety be called a wound.
  14. Captain Charles Foote, the meritorious officer alluded to in the above passage of Captain Cole’s letter, was the last surviving son of the late J. Foote, Esq. banker, of London. He died at Madras, Sept. 5, 1811, aged 31 years.
  15. Captain Kenah died in command of the Etna bomb, on the coast of America, at the latter end of the war.
  16. In the year 1811, Mr. William Daniell, an eminent painter and engraver, published “A View of the Island of Banda Neira, with an illustrative Account of its Capture by Captain Cole.” This tribute to the memory of that achievement we have used every endeavour to obtain, but without success: should a copy of it hereafter fall in our way, we shall not fail to make such extracts therefrom as may serve to explain the particular conduct of individuals employed in that enterprise.
  17. See vol. II. part I. p. 354, et seq.
  18. Commodore Broughton, on being succeeded in the command of the fleet by Rear-Admiral Stopford, expressed “great pleasure in acknowledging the zeal and alacrity displayed by Captains Cole, Elliot, and Pelly,” on the day of disembarkation.
  19. We have heard in the course of conversation, that one of his Majesty’s ministers, speaking in Parliament of Captain Cole’s achievement at Banda, described it as “heroism of a chivalrous order.”
  20. See Captain Colin Mac Donald.
  21. See Captain John Hayes, C.B.
  22. The new Public Rooms at Swansea were first opened on the occasion of the above ceremony.