Mrs Green and Colonel William Green – General Eliott and Mr. Healy
Capt. Evelegh and Lt Booth - Admiral Darby - Lt Skinner, Johnson and Hay
Brigadiers Ross and Dr Baynes - Sergeant Major Ince
Lieutenant Holloway R.E. was a contemporary of Mrs Green – the wife of his boss Colonel William Green but differed from her in that whereas she kept a diary of the Great Siege he kept two. I have found it impossible to find either of Holloway’s diaries but numerous interesting quotes from the first one appear in Major-General Whitworth Porter’s History of the Corps of Royal Engineers which was published in 1889. I have extracted the following from this book with my comments and Porter’s where appropriate. It starts at the very beginning of the Great Siege.
An unrecognisable Rock at the start of the Siege ( John Martin Will )
June 21 1779. Works begun and carried on in Gibraltar since the 21st June 1779, being the day that all communication was stopped between this garrison and the Spaniards
June 23 1779. Began a casemated battery for one gun and two guns over it in the garden above Crutchets. These guns are chieﬂy to flank Lower Forbes’s
June 26 1779. Began a palisading to enclose the principal magazine in the Castle
July 20 1779. Fresh beef was delivered out at 60 lbs. per regiment, the Artillery and Soldier Artificer Company being considered as equal to one - 100 lbs. of beef to the Generals and Admiral, 60 lbs. to the Civil list, and 60 lbs. to the Navy
July 28 1779. Began to form two batteries, one for 4 guns and the other for 3 guns, on that part of the hill called the Catalan post, lying between the Moorish castle and Caroline battery
Aug 7 1779. Began fitting up Poca Roca’s cave as apartments for the Governor
(1800 - Rev Cooper Willyams) (See LINK)
The Governor - General Eliott - never used the cave preferring to spend most of his day in a tent set up in a mound in the Alameda Parade close to where his bust can be seen on a pedestal now-a-days. At night he slept in a bombproof section of the Convent. (See LINK)
( Late 19th c - Edward Angelo Goodall )
Although I can’t quote this directly in September, Holloway made an entry about having laid a boom between the Old Mole Head and the stone wharf at the extremity of the glacis.Aug 20 1779. Blowing the rock to form a Battery of 5 guns 60 feet above the North Lodgement, which is 900 feet above the sea. This battery is to annoy the enemy in their trenches, as well as to enfilade Fort Barbary and Fort St Philip
Spanish map showing boom from the old Mole Head to the stone wharf by the glacis
( 1779 - Caballero – detail )
( 1779 - Caballero – detail )
Sept 14 1779. – Began unpaving the streets
This was probably the time when the Catholic Church, Saint Mary the Crowned, (see LINK) lost its clock tower, and the top of the Admiral’s quarters at White Cloisters was lopped off. The top of the chapel of the Convent and the “minaret” of the Chapel of our Lady of Europa (see LINK) were probably also put to the sword.
Nov 11 1779. Some experiments were tried on the line wall with fireballs. One of Mr. Healy’s invention, 5 ½ inches, burnt 1 ¾ minutes—very strong fire. But Lt Withams was found to give an exceeding good light - answers every purpose of the other and burnt 5 minutes
“Mr. Healy” may have been a civilian working for Colonel Green. If so he left his mark in Gibraltar with a contraption know as Healy’s Mortar still to be seen in the upper Rock.
( 1977 - George Palao )
Jan 15 1780. The small pox broke out again in Capt. Evelegh’s familyHolloway, however, did not seem to consider the ravages of small-pox worth too many entries in his journal. Other matters – such as the following – seem to have been of much more interest to him.
June 1780 - 14,000 Casks have been used for temporary works since the 21st June 1799. Brushwood has been collected from the back of the Rock, which has made 1265 Fascines, and the wooden hoops from the above casks have made 1030 Fascines."On November 6th 1780 Holloway records that the Sergeant-Major of the Artificers had found a coat of the 72nd Regiment at the foot of the Rock On the following day he writes:
Nov 7 1780. One of the Serjeants of the Soldier Artificer Company found the skeleton of a man near the place where the Serjeant Major found the coat, from which it is plain that a man of the 72nd Reg has fallen down the rock and was killed in attempting to desert
Dec 5 1780. Lt. Booth of the Corps of Engineers is to have the Inspection as Director, under the Chief Engineer, of all the Mines and all Persons employed therein, Taking his Orders from & reporting to the Chief Engineer. NB his appointment is Eight Shillings per Day for the above Duty. It has given Universal Satisfaction, particularly to the Corps, as Mr. Booth is much Esteemed by Every Body.
It seems that part of the “esteem” which Booth was held in was because he was a skilful artist and produced several striking pictures of the Rock of which even General Eliott was suitably impressed. As can be gleaned from later entries in Holloway’s diary “Every Body’s” admiration for Booth would be put to the test in at the start of 1782.
A view of the Rock and town from the Bay ( Lt. William Booth ) (See LINK)
The second relief, under Admiral Darby, took place on April 12th 1781. I don’t have Holloway’s entries but Whitworth Porter gives a curious detail of this event which I have not come across in other histories of the Siege:
The convoy consisted of nearly a hundred vessels, and was led by several men-of- war, the remainder of the fleet lying under the Barbary shore, not wishing to risk an entrance into the bay for fear of the fire-ships. No sooner had the van of the convoy come to anchor off the New Mole than the besiegers, evidently feeling that their renewed attempt at a blockade had failed, opened a bombardment from every piece of artillery that had been placed in battery viz., one hundred guns and fifty mortars.
This bombardment was maintained with vigour for a very lengthened period, and resulted in the almost utter destruction of the town, and a great loss of life both in the garrison and amongst the townspeople.
The stores were consequently landed as rapidly as possible, and the fleet hastened to take its departure to avoid damage. As a temporary protection, barrels of flour, as they came ashore, were built up to cover the fronts of the casemates in the form of traverses. The occupants, however, promptly scooped out the contents and fried them into pancakes, so that before long the protection afforded became more apparent than real, and the Engineers were compelled to provide cover of a non-edible nature.
The fleet had brought news of several promotions for the garrison. Amongst them Colonel Green was raised to the rank of Brigadier-General, Lieutenant Holloway being appointed his
Admiral Darby’s relief of Gibraltar ( John Lodge )
Also according to Porter from this time on Holloway kept a private diary of his own personal movements, in addition to his diary of the works executed - which has been the source of my previous quotations. He thought it more important to do this now that he was a staff officer. The following were his first entries in the new journal.
April 17 1781’. Was appointed Brigade Major to Brigadier Green NB. I live at Mount Pleasant in Brig. General Green’s house
May 28 1781. Received orders to acquaint the 2 men of the Soldier Artificer Co. that were tried by a G. C. Martial this morning that they were to be executed at Guard mounting tomorrow morning - Went into town and before the officers and whole Main guard informed the criminals of their fate
May 29 1781. After breakfast went into town for general orders - Waited at the Kings bastion until the artificer Co. came from the southward. Joined them and went to the place of Execution. Stayed with the Field officer of the day till the law was put in executionThe men were sentenced to death for plundering houses that had been abandoned by the inhabitants during the bombardment.
July 22 1781. Went down to the Mole with Mrs. Green, who was going to England
Mrs Green was seriously ill and would soon be dead. (See LINK)
The next major event of the Siege was the Sortie:
Nov 26 1781. Conveyed orders to Lt Skinner, Johnson and Hay to attend the Governor & Brigadier at Court room to receive instructions, ordered Artificer Co. to march at once to Hargrave’s parade - Told them off for the different columns they belonged to.
I joined the Brigadier and Governor and marched down the town to Landport, where the Gov. desired the Brigadier not to go out. We then turned up to the Grand Battery, and went to the North Bastion
The Governor went out with the troops. We remained on the North Bastion the whole time of sortie. Several shots from Fort Barbara to the North Bastion & 3 or 4 shells burst over our heads, only one shot near the troops on Isthmus that I could see. About 40 minutes after 3 enemy’s works first on fire
At 4, from the West End of West gun battery to the east end of the 5th branch of their former approaches, was one continued flame of fire, and the eastern parallel from the opening to the south end . . . I left North Bastion and went southward to breakfast, then to the top of the rock to reconnoitre remains of enemy’s works
On December 20th Brigadiers Ross and Green were promoted to the rank of Major-General, and Lieutenant Holloway now became Green’s Aide-de-Camp.
Dec 20 1781. At 2 o'clock an officer’s guard came to mount on Major-General Green. After he had received the guard he asked the officer to dinner. I went by his order to the Adj Gen with his compliments, to desire that the guard might be taken off. The Governor ordered the F officer of the day to be informed of it, which was done.
In January 1782, Holloway’s colleague, Lt. Booth seems to have had a nervous breakdown of some sort.
Jan 17 1782. Was sent for to Camp to Lt Booth who was insane, sent to the Hospital - took Lt 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 Lt Booth who was outrageous and fastened in his bed
Feb 20 1782. Lt Booth went home in the Viper
June 24 1782. After dinner I mentioned to the General that I was not so much upon the works with him as I wished. That when I first came to him the prospect which gave me most satisfaction was the improvement I should get in my profession by being constantly with the chief engineer, by which I should know more of what was going on in our line than any other.
Therefore I hoped to go with him in future whenever he went to lay out any work or to take up ground, or anything else that he thought might be instructive, for otherwise I was under some disadvantages, being constantly with him, and I had no intercourse with my brother officers nor any conversation with them concerning the works, fearing they should conceive I was echoing his sentiment
He acknowledged the justness of my argument and promised to be as communicative as possible, but of late the Governor had been so much the C.E. that he was ashamed to let me see it.
In other words the Governor was still interfering with the Chief Engineer’s work. The problem was that Eliott found it hard to put aside the fact that he had once been an engineer himself.
July 26 1782. Heard of Mrs. Green’s death by letters that came in the packet this morning - She died 21“ June
Meanwhile the tunnelling work on the new Galleries which had been proposed by Sergeant-Major Ince (see LINK) continued apace:
The Galleries (1800 - Rev Cooper Willyams)
Aug 9 1782. Sergeant Major Ince sent for me to come to the gallery to the Notch, finding that he was mistaken in the thickness of the rock where the embrasure is to be broke thru. He stopped the miners till he heard from me. Rectified his mistake and gave him directions for forming the emplacement for the gun.
Reported to the General and the Governor that the 2nd embrasure was broke thro’ and how far it was capable of commanding. This day I drew one of the enemy’s junk ships or rather floating batteries for Capt Curtis, who told me he should send it to the Admiralty. The General liked it so well that he desired one for himself, which I did in the course of the day and gave him.This incidentally seems to be the first time anybody had used the term “floating batteries”.
Aug 29 1782. By General’s order went to examine and take an ale of the forges for heating shot in town, wrote out a state of the forges for the General
Aug. 30 1782. With the General along the Line Wall to settle the places for the forges for heating shot.
Eliott et al and The Defeat of the floating Batteries ( John Singleton Copley ) (See LINK)
The attack of the floating batteries successfully attended to and the Siege was to all intents and purpose well and truly over, Holloway turned his attentions to other matters
Oct 17 1782. Lieut. Johnston of the Engineers who is just landed joined the General and I at Windmill HillAnd that is the last entry I have been able to find.
Note – Holloway’s spelling and contractions belong to another age. To make the thing more readable I have interpreted these as best I could throughout – with my apologies to those who would have preferred to read the real thing.