Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers

Two places, Teignmouth and Algiers, linked in time by one man, Sir Edward Pellew.

This post is specifically about one of his greatest victories – the Bombardment of Algiers and freeing of 1000 Christian slaves.  The bombardment actually took place tomorrow (27th) but I have something else planned for that.

Interestingly the poem is written by an American poet but was rejected by a USA publication, the ‘Atlantic Magazine’: “Lord Exmouth’s Victory at Algiers in the year 1816, we skipped, because we think it is unpatriotic to write or read about English naval victories while our own are unsung” (2 April 1825).

Lord Exmouth’s Victory at Algiers — 1816.

(John G. C. Brainard)

The sun look’d bright upon the morning tide:
Light play’d the breeze along the whispering shore,
And the blue billow arch’d its head of pride,
As ‘gainst the rock its frothy front it bore;
The clear bright dew fled hastily before
The morning’s sun, and glitter’d in his rays;
Aloft the early lark was seen to soar,
And cheerful nature glorified the ways
Of God, and mutely sang her joyous notes of praise.

The freshening breeze, the sporting wave,
Their own impartial greeting gave
To Christian and to Turk;
But both prepared to break the charm
Of peace, with war’s confused alarm—
And ready each, for combat warm,
Commenc’d the bloody work.

For England’s might was on the seas,
With red cross flapping in the breeze,
And streamer floating light;
While the pale crescent, soon to set,
Waved high on tower and minaret,
And all the pride of Mahomet
Stood ready for the fight.

Then swell’d the noise of battle high;
The warrior’s shout, the coward’s cry,
Rung round the spacious bay.
Fierce was the strife, and ne’er before
Had old Numidia’s rocky shore
Been deafen’d with such hideous roar,
As on that bloody day.

It seem’d as if that earth-born brood,
Which, poets say, once warr’d on God,
Had risen from the sea;—
As if again they boldly strove
To seize the thunderbolts of Jove,
And o’er Olympian powers to prove
Their own supremacy.

What though the sun has sunk to rest?
What though the clouds of smoke invest
The capes of Matisou?—
Still by the flash each sees his foe,
And, dealing round him death and wo,
With shot for shot, and blow for blow,
Fights — to his country true.

Each twinkling star look’d down to see
The pomp of England’s chivalry,
The pride of Britain’s crown!
While ancient Aetna rais’d his head,
Disgorging from his unknown bed
A fire, that round each hero shed
A halo of renown.

The dying sailor cheer’d his crew,
While thick around the death-shot flew;
And glad was he to see
Old England’s flag still streaming high,—
Her cannon speaking to the sky,
And telling all the pow’rs on high,
Of Exmouth’s victory!

The crescent wanes — the Turkish might
Is vanquish’d in the bloody fight,
The Pirate’s race is run;—
Thy shouts are hush’d, and all is still
On tow’r, and battlement, and hill,
No, loud command — no answer shrill—
Algiers! thy day is done!

The slumb’ring tempest swell’d its breath,
And sweeping o’er the field of death,
And o’er the waves of gore,
Above the martial trumpet’s tone,
Above the wounded soldier’s moan,
Above the dying sailor’s groan,
Rais’d its terrific roar.

Speed swift, ye gales, and bear along
This burden for the poet’s song,
O’er continent and sea:
Tell to the world that Britain’s hand
Chastis’d the misbelieving band,
And overcame the Paynim land
In glorious victory.

Want to know more? Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..
John Brainard and poem notes …..
Battle of Algiers – an interesting aside ….

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