View towards Barbary ( 1780 )
There was once a sketch in the Royal Engineer Institute at Chatham - which may well be still there but which I have not seen – which shows the Rock from Catalan Bay (see LINK). On its face the following was written in ink:
The course taken by a Corporal of the Artificers Comp, in order to discover the way that two Soldiers of the Garrison had taken when they deserted from us to the Spanish Lines, (see LINK) one having only succeeded, the other being killed in the attempt to escape. His body we found at the point D, with his brains completely beaten out, the Rope being broke, part of which was round his middle.There is more on the back of the sketch:
Memo. by Lieut. Booth, Engineers, January 1782. On the Sunday before the Sortie (see LINK) was made on the Enemys approaches and New Works, General Boyd asked me my opinion of them (Lieut. Stewart of the R.A. had mentioned my observations to him in the course of conversation when at dinner). I told his Excellency that they were so badly flanck’d that they might be attacked without a Gun to bear upon us. Upon my saying this he (the next morning) went out to see if I was right (I believe), and being convinced the Sortie was made and works burnt and completely destroyed,
View of the western side of the Rock ( 1780 )
It seems odd that Booth – he was a first lieutenant - should have thought that it would have been General Boyd who would have taken such an important decision rather that the Governor – General Eliott. Whatever the case Booth had more to say on the matter:
An old servant’s memoranda: When the Enemy had taken up their Ground and formed their encampment, and had also commenced their batteries in the Lines, General Elliot ordered me to take Views of the Country, which I did, and which he so much approved that they were sent home to be lay’d before the King.
Part of the Moorish Castle (See LINK) ( 1780 )
It is possible that some of the pictures shown above - and below - and which have been attributed to Booth - are those Views of the Country that Eliott approved of so much? Whether they were or not Lieutenant Booth had more to say in his memo:
These attentions, together with my being obliged to visit the Galleries of the Mines (see LINK) under Landport Glacis, and also lying so long exposed to heat and rains during the time I remained in Camp, brought on a violent fever so as to deprive me of my senses, and in that state I was sent to England in an Ordnance Vessel yet obliged to give 20 Guineas for my Passage. In consequence of my being hurried away in this extraordinary manner I was not allowed any share of the prize money or any share of the Honor which was mine.
It was no less extraordinary than strange that after my being in the Garrison 8 years, viz. from 1774 to 1782, no mention should have been made of me by Col. Drinkwater in his account of the Siege, although he names all the other officers of Engineers when I commanded a Brigade and in the Camp a Year and a half, having nothing more than Canvas over me. I had the Governors thanks once for a Report I had made of a Battery traced out by one of the Enemy's Engineers which no other officer had seen.
I will venture to affirm I went through more fatigue of the Service during the Blockade and Siege (which lasted nearly 3 years) than any officer in the Place.
Detail of the previous painting dated and signed
It is not quite correct to say that Drinkwater (see LINK) mentioned all the other officers of the Engineers – but he certainly didn’t mention him. Nor did John Spilsbury (see LINK) come to that. However his colleague in the Royal Engineers second Lieutenant Charles Holloway who kept a diary throughout the Great Siege of Gibraltar – which both he and William Booth had experience together up to 1782 – visited him in Hospital after he suffered what must have been a mental breakdown.
Jan 17. 1782. Was sent for to Camp to Lieutenant Booth who was insane, sent to the Hospital. Took Lieutenant McKerras and went to camp to Booths marquee, and sealed up his trunks, boxes, and bureau.
Jan 22 1782. In Hospital with Dr Baynes to see Lieutenant Booth who was outrageous and fastened in his bed.
Feb 20 1782. Lieutenant Booth went home in the Viper.
Looking South towards Charles V Wall with The Devil’s Bowling Green on the left (undated – Attributed to William Booth – but I have my doubts )
Holloway became Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles as well as Chief Engineer of Gibraltar (see LINK) during the early years of the 19th century – but as regards Booth - quien sabe. I am not even 100% sure whether the man who is said to have made it to Lieutenant-Colonel and continued to paint in Britain is the same fellow who was labelled a lunatic by Holloway in his diary. Bibliographical details given by the British Museum give two different names: William R.E. Booth and Booth, William R.E. - I suspect that the right combination is William Booth R.E. (Royal Artillery). His mad days seem not to have affected his carreer overly as he is now a Lieut-Colonel.
A View of Windmill Hill ( 1778 )
Inverness ( 1793 - William Booth )
Tower of London ( 1817 – William Booth )