Author Topic: HMS Isis (1774 - 1810)  (Read 92 times)

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: HMS Isis (1774 - 1810)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 07:53:10 PM »
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline stuartwaters

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HMS Isis (1774 - 1810)
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 08:20:24 PM »

HMS Isis was a Portland Class, 50 gun, Fourth Rate ship of the line, built under Navy Board contract at John Henniker's shipyard in Chatham. John Henniker's Shipyard stood about half a mile upstream from the Royal Dockyard on a site approximately behind where The Ship public house now stands on Chatham High Street.

The Portland Class was a group of ten ships designed by Sir John Williams, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, of which five were built in Kent shipyards. Of the other four Kent-built ships, HMS Bristol and HMS Leopard were built at the Sheerness Royal Dockyard, HMS Leander was built at the Chatham Royal Dockyard, with HMS Europa being built at the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

Their design was based on that of HMS Romney, designed by Williams' Co-Surveyor, Sir Thomas Slade which itself was built at the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

Up until the mid-1750s, the 50 gun Fourth Rate vessel was the smallest ship of the line in the Royal Navy. After that time, they were regarded as being too small and frail to stand in the line of battle. They continued to be useful in the role of a small ship of the line in the shallower waters off northern Europe and North America, where larger ships of the line had difficulty operating safely. They were amongst the smallest ships which carried their guns on two gundecks and despite being obsolete in the line of battle, the Royal Navy continued to build and operate small numbers of these ships after the 1750s. By the end of the 18th century however, the advent of the Heavy Frigate mounting upwards of 40 guns, 18 or 24 pdrs had rendered them obsolete and although the Royal Navy continued to use them for a while, by the end of the Napoleonic Wars, they had largely disappeared from the fleet.

The contract for the construction of HMS Isis was signed on Christmas Day of 1770. Her keel was laid sometime in December 1772 and she was launched with all due ceremony into the River Medway on 19th November 1774. Up to the time the ship was launched, £19,303 8s 9d had been spent on her. After her launch, the ship entered the Chatham Ordinary, moored in the Medway. Whilst in the Chatham Ordinary, the ship was the responsibility of the Master Attendant at the Royal Dockyard and was manned by a skeleton crew comprised of her Boatswain, Carpenter, Gunner and Cook, together with their respective servants. A Purser was also appointed into the ship, but he was allowed to live ashore within a reasonable distance from the Dockyard. In addition to these senior Warrant Officers, the ship also had a crew of 14 men, all rated at Able Seaman.

In early 1776, she was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, where she was fitted for sea, with her guns, masts and rigging being installed. Fitting the ship out cost a further £4,334, 19s 6d.

On completion, HMS Isis was a ship of 1,050 tons, she was 146ft long on her upper gundeck and 40ft 7in wide across the beam. She was armed with 22 x 24pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 22 x 12pdr long guns on her upper gundeck, 4 x 6pdr long guns on her quarterdeck and two more 6 pdr long guns on the forecastle. She was manned by a crew of 350 men, officers and marines. The ship commissioned under Captain Sir Charles Douglas.

Portland Class Plans:

Orlop and Lower Gundeck plans:

Upper Gundeck, Quarterdeck and Forecastle plans:

Inboard Profile and Plan:

Framing Plan:

Sheer Plan and Lines:

The Navy Board model of HMS Portland. Starboard bow view. HMS Isis was identical:

Starboard Quarter view:

By the time the ship was ready for sea, unrest in the American colonies over what the colonists saw as unfair taxation and the heavy handed methods of enforcing them had escalated into full scale war. On 7th March 1776, HMS Isis sailed for North America. At about the time the ship sailed, the Americans had invaded Canada and had laid siege to Quebec. Although the fortress there held out, the siege wasn't relieved until May 1776 when a British fleet including HMS Isis landed troops which succeeded in not only lifting the siege, but also drove the Americans out of Canada altogether.

For the rest of 1776, throughout 1777 and for most of 1778, HMS Isis was based at Sandy Hook and was engaged in patrols of the eastern coast of America. During this time, Captain Douglas was replaced in command by Captain the Honourable William Cornwallis. Cornwallis was the younger brother of General the Lord Cornwallis and later went on to achieve flag rank and was a friend of Nelson. He was replaced in turn by Captain John Raynor. In 1778, France became openly involved in the American War of Independence and used their involvement as an excuse to try to regain possessions lost in the previous Seven Years War. On 4th November 1778, HMS Isis was sent to the Caribbean and the following month was involved in the operation to capture St Lucia from the French. In the Battle of St Lucia, fought on 15th December 1778, HMS Isis was part of a squadron under Admiral Samuel Barrington which repeatedly drove off attempts by a much larger French force under the Compte D'Estaing to prevent the British from landing an army on the island. Having failed to prevent the landings, D'Estaing and his force left the area, leaving the French garrison to their fate. The French surrendered on 28th December 1778.

In June 1779, HMS Isis escorted a home-bound convoy and in February 1780, entered the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich to undergo a refit. The refit involved adding carronades to the ships armament. In addition to the long guns mentioned above, the ship was fitted with 2 x 24pdr carronades on her quarterdeck, 2 x 12pdr carronades on her forecastle and 6 x 12pdr carronades on her poop deck.

The ship recommissioned in November 1780 under Captain Evelyn Sutton and on 31st December 1780, was involved in an inconclusive action against the similarly sized and armed Dutch ship Rotterdam. 5 days later, the Rotterdam was taken by HMS Warwick (50).

This painting by Derek Gardner shows HMS Isis in the North Sea on 31st December 1780. She has sighted the Dutch 50 gun ship Rotterdam in the background.

By this time, the war had spread, Britain had gone to war against their former allies, the Dutch over their refusal to stop trading with both the Americans and the French and the French were trying to expand their influence and territory in India, at the expense of the British. HMS Isis was ordered to join a squadron under Commodore George Johnstone, who had been tasked with leading an expedition to take the Cape Colony in modern day South Africa from the Dutch. What Johnstone didn't know was that a powerful French squadron under the Baillie de Suffren had been ordered to reinforce the Dutch before going on to India to assist French forces there.

Johnstone led his ships into Porto Praya, in the Portugese controlled Cape Verde Islands in order to take on water and provisions and the squadron anchored in the bay, with HMS Isis in the outermost position. The majority of the sailors in the squadron went ashore to gather provisions and water and the decks of the ships were covered with lumber and casks. While the men were ashore, they were informed that a French frigate had put into Porto Praya some days before and had warned the islanders of the impending arrival of Suffren's force, which also intended to resupply. The French ship Artisien (64) was the first to spot the British squadron at anchor and signalled Suffren, aboard his flagship L'Heros (74) to that effect. Suffren correctly guessed what the British were up to and assumed that the British force would be in complete disarray as a result. Leading the attack in L'Heros, Suffren entered the bay. HMS Isis, being the outermost ship, was raked, first by L'Heros, then by Artisien and Vengeur and was seriously damaged. The British were taken completely by surprise and took some three hours to prepare for sea. By the time they were ready, the French had captured HMS Infernal (fireship), the East Indiamen Hinchinbrook and Fortitude together with the victualling ship Edward.

Tracks of the ships at the Battle of Porto Praya:

Commodore Johnstone decided not to pursue the French owing to the damage his ships had received and instead decided to stay where he was and make repairs. The crew of HMS Infernal overwhelmed the French prize crew and rejoined the squadron. The Battle of Porto Praya on 16th April 1781 delayed the British sufficiently to allow the French to reinforce the Dutch garrison on Cape Town.

After the battle, on 25th April 1781, Captain Sutton was removed from command of HMS Isis on the orders of Commodore Johnson and replaced by Captain Thomas Lumley. He was sent back to the UK to face a Court Martial, which was held aboard HMS Princess Royal (98) in Portsmouth. The following is taken from a document: "The Minutes of a Court Martial held aboard His Majesty's Ship Princess Royal in Portsmouth Harbour between 1st and 11th December 1783".


John Montagu esq - Admiral of His Majesty's Fleet and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels at Portsmouth and Spithead - President
John Campbell esq - Vice Admiral of His Majesty's Fleet
Captain Jonathan Faulknor
Captain Sir John Hamilton, Baronet
Captain William Affleck
Captain Alexander Edgar
Captain Jonathan Faulknor Jnr.
Captain Patrick Sinclair
Captain Samuel Marshall
Captain James Bradby
Captain Samuel Osborne
Captain John Wainwright

The Court, pursuant to an order from the Rt.Hon Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, dated the 19th day of November last, directed to the President, proceeded to enquire into a charge directed against Captain Evelyn Sutton, late commander of His Majesty's Ship the Isis, by Captain George Johnstone, late Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Vessels employed on a particular service, "For delaying and discouraging the public service on 16th April 1781 and for disobeying Captain Johnstone's verbal orders and public signals, in not causing the cables of His Majesty's Ship Isis, then under Captain Sutton's command, to be cut or shipped immediately after his getting aboard in order to put to sea after the enemy as he, Captain Johnstone had directed and also for falling astern and not keeping up in the line of battle, according to the signal then abroad, after the Isis had joined the squadron and cleared the wreck of the foretopmast , when he, Captain Johnstone, bore down upon the enemy about sunset on the said 16th April. And to try the said Captain Sutton for his conduct on that day; in the instances contained in the charge".

And having heard the witnesses produced in support of the charge and by the Prisoner in his defence and having heard what the Prisoner had to urge in his defence and having deliberately weighed and considered the whole. the Court is of the opinion, that it appears to them, that the Prisoner did not delay or discourage the public service on which he was ordered on the 16th day of April 1781 and from the circumstances proved and the condition the Isis was in, it appears to the Court that the Prisoner was justifiable in not immediately cutting or shipping the cable of the Isis after his getting on board her that day and that after the wreck of the foretopmast had been cleared, that the Prisoner did his utmost in regaining his position in the line and that the Isis was in her station about sunset on that day. The Court doth therefore adjudge the said Captain Evelyn Sutton to be honourably acquitted of the whole charge and he is hereby honourably acquitted accordingly.

The verdict was delivered by Thomas Binsteed, Deputy Judge Advocate on Thursday 11th December 1783.

Meanwhile, once repairs had been completed, HMS Isis, together with the rest of Johnstone's squadron proceeded to the Cape. The plan to capture the Cape Colony was abandoned when it became clear that the Dutch had been reinforced, so the force instead attacked and captured 5 Dutch East Indiamen. HMS Isis was ordered to join a squadron under Admiral Sir Edward Hughes while the rest of the squadron was recalled to the UK.

HMS Isis joined the squadron at Madras and then became involved in a series of running battles against Suffren's squadron over the course of the next two years.

After embarking troops at the Ile de France (modern day Mauritius), Suffren had first sailed to Madras, hoping to attack the British there, but on arriving off there, he found Hughes and his fleet already there. He turned south, intending to land troops who would march north, recapturing French and Dutch possessions lost to the British on the way. Having spotted Suffren's force, the British gave chase and caught the French on 17th February 1782. The Battle of Sadras which followed, ended indecisively with the British flagship HMS Superb (74) and HMS Exeter (64) being badly damaged before nightfall forced an end to the fight. Suffren landed the troops while the British sailed towards Trincomalee, intending to make repairs.

Suffren had other ideas and intended to destroy the British force. After making repairs at Pondicherry, the French force gave chase, departing on 23rd February. On 8th April, the French spotted Hughes' fleet, but were unable to bring them to battle for three days because of adverse winds. On 12th April, the British force including HMS Isis had to change tack to continue on their way to Trincomalee, the French seized their chance, formed a line of battle and attacked. Hughes ordered his ships to form a line of battle and at about 12:30, the two forces engaged each other. The British flagship HMS Superb received another battering and HMS Monmouth (64) was dismasted in the action, known as the Battle of Providien. HMS Isis escaped relatively unscathed and the action again ended indecisively due to worsening weather and the coming of nightfall.

After the battle, HMS Isis and the other ships sailed on to Trincomalee, while Suffren and his force made for Batticaloa. Whilst there, Suffren received orders to go to Ile de France (modern day Mauritius) and escort a troop convoy back to India. He refused to do so, considering that it was too dangerous to leave Hughes and his force loose in the area.

Suffren had by now decided to capture the important port of Negatapam, held by the British and sailed to Cuddalore, arriving on 20th June to pick up the troops required for this. Whilst there, he learned that Hughes and his force had sailed past the port, apparently also on their way to Negatapam, so left to give chase. Suffrens force arrived off Negatampam on 3rd July, but found the British force already in the harbour. A squall then blew up and damaged one of the French vessels, the 64 gun ship Ajax. When the squall passed, the wind was in Hughes' favour, so the British force, including HMS Isis left the harbour and anchored for the night in view of the French. At 09:30 the following morning, the two forces closed with each other. Ajax had still not made her repairs, so veered away from the action. The British force was unable to line up directly against the French, so the rear part of the lines could only engage each other at long range, while the ships at the front engaged in fierce combat until about 1pm, when the wind changed, throwing both forces into confusion. Unable to move back into combat positions, both fleets drew away from each other. Suffren sailed away back to Cuddalore while the British spent the next two weeks a sea before making for Madras for repairs. The Second Battle of Negatapam had ended as indecisively as the previous battles between the two forces.

The Second Battle of Negatapam by Dominic Serres:

While in Cuddalore, Suffren was reinforced by a French force comprised of two more ships of the line, a frigate and a transport ship carrying 800 troops and their supplies. The anchorage at Cuddalore was too exposed to the weather for Suffren's liking, so he resolved to take Trincomalee from the British and the force arrived off there on 21st August. The French landed 2,400 troops near Trincomalee on 25th August and following a fiercely fought siege, the British garrison surrendered five days later and on September 1st, the French took possession of the town and the harbour.

Hughes had not been idle in the intervening time either. Whilst making repairs at Madras, his fleet was reinforced with the addition of the 64 gun third rate ship HMS Superb. On learning that the French were off Trincomalee, the British set off at once to give assistance, but didn't arrive until the day after the British garrison had surrendered.

On seeing that the British fleet had arrived, Suffren was aware that he outnumbered Hughes' force and that if the French plans for India were to come to fruition, the British fleet would have to be destroyed. For that reason, the French left Trincomalee to face the British once again. The two fleets met again at about 2:30pm on 3rd September 1782. The heaviest action was in the centre of the lines, where the British flagship HMS Superb (74), HMS Burford (70), HMS Sultan (74), HMS Hero (74) and HMS Monarca (70) engaged the French ships Heros (74), Ajax (64) and Illustre (74). Surrounded by the British, Suffren signalled for assistance and the French ship Brilliant (64) came to his aid. His flagship, L'Heros lost her mainmast and had run out of ammunition. Things were going better for the French on the ends of the line, where HMS Isis, HMS Worcester (64) and HMS Monmouth (64) were badly damaged and HMS Exeter (64) had been dismasted and had lost her captain who had been killed. At about 5:30pm, the wind changed, favouring the French. The main part of the action now shifted to the ends of the battle lines. HMS Hero lost her mizzen and main masts and HMS Worcester lost her main topmast. The battle ended with nightfall.

The Battle of Trincomalee by Dominic Serres:

Once the action had been broken off, Hughes, who did not want to be in the exposed anchorage at Madras during the monsoon season which was imminent, made for Bombay, while Suffren withdrew back into Trincomalee to make repairs. The British force had been so badly damaged that the army commanders at Madras recalled their troops from the field in case the French decided to attack.

By this time, Rodney's victory at the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782 had ended French ambitions in the Caribbean and the Royal Navy was able to spare ships to assist in the defence of British possessions in India. Hughes' force was reinforced by the arrival of five more ships-of-the-line, bringing his total strength to 18 ships-of-the-line plus frigates. By June 1783, the British were laying seige to Cuddalore and Suffren was ordered to support the city with his 15 ships-of-the-line. Hughes' fleet was there when Suffren arrived on 13th June 1783. Hughes was not keen on facing the French again, so moved his force away. After five days of adverse winds, Suffren anchored his force off the city. After a conference with the commander of the defending force, it became apparent that the outcome of the siege was going to be dependant on a naval action. The two fleets then began manoeuvering for advantage from 18th June, but were both frustrated in their attempts by fickle winds. Finally, the winds settled down from a westerly direction and the two fleets engaged each other again on 20th June. The action was fought with long-range gunnery and neither fleet was able to significantly damage the other and both forces withdrew at nightfall.

The Battle of Cuddalore by Auguste Jugelet, painted in 1836.

On 22nd June, Hughes headed back to Madras. Many of his ships required repair, his force was short of water and a lack of fresh fruit had led to an outbreak of scurvy aboard his ships. The seige continued until 29th June when a British ship under a flag of truce brought news of the war's end.

The American War of Independence had been a disaster for the British. Despite the successful defences of Canada, and the Caribbean, it had been a close-run thing in India and the American colonies had been lost altogether. With the war now over, HMS Isis was recalled to the UK and paid off into the Ordinary at Woolwich in July 1784.

There HMS Isis was to remain, secured to a mooring buoy in the River Thames, with her sails, yards, running rigging, stores and guns removed and her hatches and gunports sealed shut for almost six years, manned by a skeleton crew as before. In March 1792, HMS Isis was taken into the dockyard at Woolwich to undergo a major repair. This repair would have made good the damage sustained in her earlier career as well as replacing any of her frames and timbers found to be in poor condition. Her lower hull would also have been re-coppered and she would have emerged from this work in an almost "as new" condition.

During her time in the Ordinary, the French Revolution occurred. Initially supported by the British, who hoped that it would lead to the establishment of a Constitutional Monarchy like our own, things took a turn for the worse in January 1793 when King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded and France declared war on Britain the following month.

HMS Isis recommissioned at Woolwich in December 1794 under Captain Benjamin Archer and her repairs were completed in May 1795. She was commissioned into the North Sea Fleet, then under the command of Admiral Sir Adam Duncan.

In July 1795, Captain Archer was replaced in command by Captain Robert Watson and on 22nd August 1795, HMS Isis was in the North Sea, in company with the frigates HMS Reunion (36), HMS Stag (32) and HMS Vestal (28), when they fought an action against two Dutch frigates and a third, unrated ship. These were Alliantie (36), Argo (36) and Vliegheid (16). In the action that occurred, HMS Isis took the Alliantie and the other Dutch ships were driven off.

In May 1797, the Great Mutiny at the Nore broke out and the crew of HMS Isis participated in it.

By 20th May 1797, the mutineers had moved the fleet from the Inner Nore, under the guns of the shore battery at Garrison Point, Sheerness, to the Great Nore, in the Thames Estuary beyond Garrison Point, out of range of the shore battery.

On 26th May, a party of men in armed boats from HMS Isis and HMS Brilliant landed in Gravesend with the intention of convincing men in ships laying off the port to join the Mutiny. Although they were arrested by the inhabitants of Gravesend, they escaped and managed to pursuade the men of HMS Lancaster (64) to join the Mutiny.

By early June 1797, alarmed at the increasingly militant nature of the Mutiny, ships and men began to desert the cause. On 9th June, HMS Leopard (50) and HMS Repulse (64) were fired on by HMS Director (64) and HMS Monmouth (64) as they left the Nore to rejoin the fleet. On the night of 9th June, HMS Ardent (64) was also fired on by HMS Monmouth as she also made off.

Between 10th and 12th June, more ships and men deserted the Mutiny and on the morning of 13th June, fighting between loyalists and mutineers broke out on the decks of five more ships, including HMS Isis. Eventually, the loyalists gained the upper hand and HMS Isis returned to the Inner Nore later on 13th June and rejoined the fleet, with the mutineers taking advantage of the Royal Pardon initially offered to the mutineers at Spithead and later extended to those at the Nore.

While the mutiny at the Nore was underway, the Dutch fleet was making preparations to break out and join the French fleet at Brest. Admiral Duncan was ordered to immediately blockade them and ordered his ships to set sail for the coast of Holland. All but two of his ships disobeyed the order and joined the mutiny. Nevertheless, Duncan set to his task with the handful of ships available to him and by a mixture of subterfuge and luck, kept the Dutch bottled up in Texel. While Duncan was at sea, the mutiny at the Nore fell apart and he was joined by more ships.

In September 1797, Captain Watson was replaced in command by Captain William Mitchell and in October 1797, news reached the Admiralty that the Dutch had called off their plans to break out and the fleet was recalled to Yarmouth to refit and resupply. On 8th October however, the Dutch fleet under Admiral de Winter did indeed break out. They were followed by ships Duncan had left behind to watch them. On receiving the news, Duncan immediately ordered his ships to sea and by mid-day on 9th October, Duncan was at sea with 11 ships of the line, heading to intercept the Dutch as they headed south down the North Sea. More ships put to sea at they became ready, so that by 11th October, Duncan had 18 ships of the line available to him.

Map showing Duncan's fleet disposition:

Duncan's plan was to follow that of Lord Howe at the Glorious First of June, that was to break through the enemy's line of battle, with each ship passing between two enemy vessels and raking them through their bows and sterns before turning and each ship then engaging a single enemy ship. The Dutch had turned and were heading towards the land, hoping to lure the bigger British ships into shallow water where the smaller Dutch ships would have the advantage. Duncan guessed that this was what they were up to and ordered his ships to engage the enemy as best they could. This led to the British fleet splitting up into two uneven divisions as per the map above.

HMS Isis was part of the Windward Division, commanded by Admiral Duncan in HMS Venerable (74). At 12:05, the Dutch fired the opening shots in the Battle of Camperdown, with the Dutch ship Jupiter engaging HMS Monarch. The Leeward division of the British fleet under Vice-Admiral Richard Onslow managed to isolate the Dutch rearguard and by 13:45, the Dutch ships Jupiter, Haarlem, Alkmaar and Delft had all surrendered. Things were more evenly matched in the northern part of the Dutch fleet with all Duncan's ships engaged in single-ship actions against their Dutch opponents. With the rearguard mopped up, Onslow ordered his ships to head north and assist Duncan's force. HMS Director (64) was quickest to respond, along with HMS Powerful (74). By 15:00, all but the Dutch flagship, the Vrijheid had either fled or surrendered. The Dutch flagship was eventually forced to surrender by Captain William Bligh in HMS Director. In the Battle of Camperdown, HMS Isis got off relatively lightly, receiving only slight damage and suffering 2 dead, but with 21 men being wounded. The British victory at Camperdown was overwhelming. The Dutch fleet had been convincingly defeated within sight of their own shoreline.

The Battle of Camperdown by Derek Gardner:

In August 1799, Captain Mitchell was replaced in command by Captain James Oughton. At the same time, HMS Isis became flagship of Vice-Admiral Andrew Mitchell, who commanded a fleet of transport ships some 200 strong, taking and Anglo-Russian force to Holland to effect an invasion of that country. On August 13th 1799, the force left UK waters and headed across the North Sea, but poor weather prevented them from landing at den Helder until 22nd. On 26th, a British force led by Mitchell in HMS Isis approached the main Dutch naval base at Texel and they anchored there without opposition. The Dutch fleet under Admiral Story had withdrawn into the Zuider Zee. On August 28th, Story returned, but was unable to attack the British force due to adverse winds. The two fleets were anchored within sight of each other and on seeing the Orange flags flying at Den Helder and mindful of their overwhelming defeat at Camperdown, the Dutch crews mutinied en mass and surrendered. Despite this, the invasion did not go as planned and the force withdrew in October 1799.

Captain Oughton remained in command until October 1799, when he was replaced in command by Captain Richard Retalick. He remained in command until November 1800, when he was replaced by Captain Sir James Walker. In early 1801, HMS Isis joined a fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker sent to neutralise the Danish fleet and fortifications at Copenhagen as part of the campaign to break up the League of Armed Neutrality set up by Tzar Paul of Russia. This also included the fleets of Russia and Sweden and when combined, would mean the British would face an additional enemy with up to 123 ships of the line in addition to the combined fleets of Spain, France and Holland. HMS Isis joined the attack squadron commanded by Nelson, flying his flag in the 74 gun 3rd rate HMS Elephant. The Danish fleet consisted of 24 ships of the line, anchored off the fortifications of Copenhagen and Nelson and his force of 12 ships of the line were required to neutralise these before troops could be landed to assault the fortifications. In the morning of the 2nd April 1801, Nelson's force made its way slowly up the Skaw, but suffered losses when first, the 64 gun ship HMS Agamemnon, then the 74 gun ships HMS Bellona and HMS Russell ran aground. Battle was joined at 10:05 when the Danish shore batteries opened fire. HMS Isis came alongside the Danish ship Provesteenen (56). The Provesteenen's crew were not going to just give up without a fight and put up stiff resistance to HMS Isis. Unfortunately, HMS Isis came off worse in this engagement and was seriously damaged. She was saved when first the British 36 gun frigate HMS Desiree then HMS Polyphemus (64) raked the Danish ship, putting her out of action.

Map of the Battle of Copenhagen

The Battle of Copenhagen

At 16:00, a ceasefire was negotiated. The Danes had suffered heavy losses. The Danish flagship had blown up, killing 250 men. In all, it is estimated that Danish losses were about 1800 men killed, captured or wounded. The British losses came to about 250 men. The Danish fleet had been beaten into submission and the day after the battle, the Danes surrendered.

After the Battle of Copenhagen, HMS Isis remained on blockade duty off the Dutch coast until June 1802, when she went into the Royal Dockyard at Chatham for a refit. Captain Walker was replaced by her most famous commander, Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy. Hardy achieved fame a few years later when he was appointed to command the 100 gun First Rate ship HMS Victory and served as Flag Captain to Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. HMS Isis completed her refit at Chatham in July 1802 and sailed to Newfoundland on the 29th of that month to be flagship of Vice-Admiral James Gambier, the officer in command of the Newfoundland Station. HMS Isis remained in her role as Flagship, Newfoundland Station for the rest of her career.

HMS Isis was recalled to the UK for the last time in 1810. By this time the Heavy Frigates were entering service with both the Royal Navy and the navies of Britain`s enemies at the time. These ships were faster and more manoeuverable than small two-deckers like HMS Isis and ships like her were completely outclassed by them. HMS Isis was broken up in Deptford in September 1810.

The next ship to bear the name HMS Isis was one of the aforementioned Heavy Frigates, carrying 50 guns, including 28 x 24pdr long guns on her gundeck. She was launched in 1819.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.