The Keith Papers

Part I: Channel and North Sea, 1803-1807; 1. Operations; 22. Intelligence respecting Boulogne

The Document

22. Intelligence respecting Boulogne

August 23, 1803.

I arrived at Boulogne on the 18th; annexed is a sketch [missing] of the fortifications. In the harbour are 6 gun brigs of about 16o tons each, completely manned and equipped; in the bow a brass carronade, and two large brass 24-pounders on sliding keels. In the stern a 24-pounder, and in some of them on the quarter deck swivels. There are also on the harbour 10 open gunboats with two masts, a 24-pounder and carronade in each; 11 flat bottomed boats building at Boulogne, 2sharp rowing boats finished; they row with 22 oars; I was on board all of these. The soldiers at Boulogne consist of 2,200 regulars. Since the firing at the works the principal people have moved to the upper town, fearing a bombardment. Two houses were destroyed by the shells. They are making amazing works, upwards of 3,000 hands employed besides the soldiers. The powder is so bad that they cannot send a ball or bomb half the distance it ought to go; it is going to be changed. The fort buildings at low-water mark are to be finished in three months, but five weeks are elapsed and only an eighth finished. The opening for the harbour to admit frigates is an immense undertaking, and it is thought cannot succeed; it is Bonaparte’s order and must be attempted. Some of the troops are fine picked men, particularly the grenadiers.


See Also

Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars | Napoleonic Homepage

How to cite this article

LLoyd, C . (eds.) (1955) The Keith Papers, vol III, 1803-1815. Navy Records Society, pp. 30

Web Page: Rickard, J (24 July 2006), Keith to Secretary of Admiralty,

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