19. Keith to Secretary of Admiralty
Ceres, at the Nore,
August 4. 1803.
Sir, Be pleased to acquaint their Lordships that having made an appointment to meet Lt. General Sir James Craig at Colchester on the first inst. I proceeded thither accordingly and took the opportunity of visiting the rivers Crouch and Blackwater and likewise Harwich, Hoseley Bay, Goldersmere’s Gatt and the Wallet, and trusting their Lordships will forgive my communication to them some observations that I made upon these places I beg leave to trouble them with the following remarks.
The Crouch is deep, though of such difficult access that it seems needless to place an active ship there; but I am of opinion that a dogger, galliot or other flat vessel fitted to carry two or more long heavy guns, manned with an officer and 12people might very properly be employed in defending the bar, on board which the Sea Fencibles might rendezvous and where the ammunition of any row boats could be preserved. Such boats should be strongly constructed, something like the dockyard launches, carry a long gun and be manned by the Sea Fencibles or the inhabitants generally, who are mostly fishermen or smugglers and among whom I was glad to hear that the propriety of applying for some such means of defence was in agitation before I arrived there.
At Maldon I met with Captain Beaver, commanding the Sea Fencibles at that place, who coincided with me in opinion that a similar provision for defence would be applicable to the Backwater, the mouth of which is protected by the Wallet. The Colne is exactly under the same circumstances. At Harwich a vessel placed just within the Alde and some stout boats of the description above mentioned could be most advantageously employed, and serve to cover the Naze sand and even the Wallet, a tract of which I am more jealous than any other that I have seen upon the coast. I communicated my ideas to Sir James Craig who did me the honour of coinciding in opinion with me.
I afterwards proceeded to Baudsey and Hoseley Bay and observed that, although the beach is generally good as a steep one, yet there was wash upon it sufficient to wet the ammunition and render landing troublesome notwithstanding the wind was south-west and the weather moderate; but with an easterly wind I doubt the practicability of landing there. I could not afford time to go further on without consulting their Lordships, but on returning I examined Goldersmere’s Gatt, a most essential station defended by the Beschermer and from thence coasted the Wallet and to Shoeburyness. Lt. General Sir James Craig has been good enough to promise me a communication of any information that he may obtain and will fix a place of meeting near the shore.
When circumstances will admit I shall continue to make excursions to furnish their Lordships with such information as may appear to me to be necessary. I have &c.
LLoyd, C . (eds.) (1955) The Keith Papers, vol III, 1803-1815. Navy Records Society, pp. 27-28
Web Page: Rickard, J (24 July 2006), Keith to Secretary of Admiralty, http://www.historyofwar.org/sources/acw/napoleonic/nrs1955/1_1_019.html