The People of Gibraltar
1779 - Miriam Green - Another Diary of the Siege

Colonel William Green and Lt Burton - Lt Chambre and Regt Lt Schants Hardenburgs
Admiral Duff and Captain Philemon Pownell - Admiral Digby and Captain Evelegh 
Charlotte Green and General Eliott - Major Horsfall and Lt Holloway

Miriam Green - invariably known as Mrs Green - was the wife of Colonel William Green, Chief Engineer in Gibraltar from 1770 throughout the period of the Great Siege during which he was promoted to Brigadier-General. 


Colonel  William Green ( Unknown )

Mrs Green’s main claim to fame is that she kept a diary during the Siege – or at least up to the middle of 1781 when she left Gibraltar in poor health and for good. Her diary remained unpublished until the 20th century and is hard to find – in other words I have never read it.

Nevertheless Major-General Whitworth Porter’s History of the Corps of Royal Engineers - published in 1889 - rather unusually goes out of his way to offer his readers numerous quotes taken from Mrs Green’s diaries. I have extracted the following from this book with my comments and Porter’s where appropriate. It starts just before the beginning of the Great Siege.

June 1 1779.  I learn that our Governor has been out himself to invite the Spanish Governor of San Roque Don Joachim Mendoza and his Lady and all the Spanish officers to come in upon the 4th  June (The King's Birthday), “which shew’d all was well at that time 
June 4 1779. Great bustle in the Garrison, the Field Officers and Staff at a Dinner at the Convent. In the afternoon the Spanish Governor Lady & Several officers came in but not the Governor himself. At Sunset their (sic) was a feu-de-joie. Madame Mendoza went from the Line wall, where she had seen the Firing, to the Convent, where there was a very Grand Gala, a Ball, & the Inside Court Yard all round the Colonnade was finely Illuminated & all possible pains taken on the occasion 
June 19 1779. All the Colonels and Field Officers of this Garrison were desired by the Governor to attend him in a Visit He made to Don Joachim Mendoza, the Governor of San Roque, upon hearing of his having been promoted to the rank of Lieut. Gen. They formed a large Cavalcade, it was a very Warm Day. NB.  
They returned to dinner, it was remarked that He did not receive this Visit as He ought to have done, but Seemed Uneasy the whole time they staid, which was not very long.
Immediately after this event communication with the Spanish lines was cut off, and the blockade commenced on June 1st.
July 28 1779. The following assistant Engineers were appointed Lt Burton R.A., Lt Chambre 56th Regt, Lt Alt 72, Regt Lt Schants Hardenburgs. 
August 27 1779. It has become now quite fashionable to get all the news each one could collect, and by way of Gaining all that, everybody was using Spy Glasses from Morning to Night, all those that affected great Cleverness were ever ready with a pencil & paper, and it was really Laughable enough to sec with what a Jealous Eye each Aid de Camp look’d at the other, fearing He should be the first to communicate his Ideas of what He supposed the Enemy was about!  These remarks I have made (Such as I could not possibly make from my own Personall observation) I think may be depended upon, as they are from our own Corps. 
Sept 13 1779. The Gov’ has given the Name of GREEN’S LODGE to the highest battery newly erected; it is a work now found to be of a very Essential Consequence, and was first proposed to the Governor before the least Idea of the Communication being stopt, even as far back as March last by Colonel Green.

Relative position of Green Lodge Battery   ( 1859 - Fortifications of Gibraltar - Detail )
Oct 9 1779. This forenoon a Circumstance happened in the Bay that gave great displeasure to the Garrison, viz. a Boat from Barbary Loaded with Bullocks was going out to Algezira. It is supposed that we might have brought Her Into the Mole with Ease had our frigate (the Enterprize) “gone out; all this adds to the discontent of every Body, and many very Disagreable things were said on the Occasion, & some of the Officers of the Navy and Army behav’d in a Slighting Manner to Admiral Duff, who carried it with an Air of Indifference  
Christmas Day 1779. This Day was tolerably fine as to Weather, and every Body try’d to appear Easy & Contented. We had a few Friends to dine with Us, and upon the whole We did the Best we could 
December 27 1779. It Blowed very hard all this Day & the next Night, but to let us See how Unexpectedly the Goodness of Providence is at Such times, as We poor Short Sighted Mortals think ourselves in the utmost Danger, behold in the course off the last 24 hours we had a Blessed supply of Wood, which had been brought down to the shore near to the Rivers, intended for the use of the Camp, it was chiefly Brush Wood. It was a great Supply for this Garrison, as it is at the least Calculated to amount to 500 Quintals, & will be enough to supply the poor Inhabitants & Soldiers Families for Six Weeks. It was Truly a GOD SEND and highly Worthy to be Remembered, and it was likewise a Loss to the Enemy 
Dec 31 1779.  The Prices of Meat & Poultry at the Close of the year 1779 : Beef per lb. 3s/9d, Veal per lb. 3s/6d, Pork 2s/6d, Goat 2s/6d , Flower, per lb.10 ½ p, Pease /5d, Turkey a piece £3.0 0. Geese a piece £1. 10. 0. Fowles a peico 7s/, Duicks a piece 10'/6“, Pigeons a pair 5s/, and when we got Fish it was beyond all Price

Admiral Rodney  ( Sir Joshua Reynolds ) 

Admiral Rodney arrived in January 1780 - the first relief of Gibraltar. It must have made life a bit easier for Mrs Green and for everybody else on the Rock.  Meanwhile:
Jan 18 1780. Tuesday - About 10 o’clock a Joyful Sight presented! a Prize brought in, taken by some of our Convoy, a fine Rich ship Loaded with Oil, Tobacco, Soap, & Bale Goods. At Noon a Much larger & more Valuable one came in, a Prize to one of our Men of War. She was brought in by a Feint of the Man of War who had taken her - is loaded with Brandy & (word illegible).  
Now we are certain off the Good News. There has been an Engagement indeed. In the Close of the Day an English Frigate came in, which proved to be the Apollo Capt. Pownell. He was greatly surprized, when going on board the Panther, to find that Admiral Duff was not on board at such a Juncture as this, but he was informed the Admiral was a QUIET MAN.

Captain Philemon Pownell – Captain of HMS Apollo    ( Sir Joshua Reynolds ) 
Jan 20 1780. Early in the morning the Prince George, 90 Guns, Admiral Digby, came in, on board of which was His Royal Highness Prince William Henry ” (afterwards King William IV). The Prince came on Shore at Noon, had no particular Honours paid him. He went to the Convent, from thence he was attended by the Governor, the other Generals, & the Chief Engineer up the Hill as far as Willis’s.


Young Prince William  (1779 )
22 Jan 1780. We got 2 English Sheep from our old Friend Admiral Digby. This morning more of the Small Pox appeared.
Captain Evelegh’s children are all Laid down in the Disorder. He is obliged to leave his House for the time. The General will not allow of Inoculation as yet, but says He will as soon as it gets among the Troops.
According to Whitworth Porter the disease would prove “fearful in the midst of the cooped-up garrison” – but no mention of the equally cooped up civilians and although hardly ever mentioned there were a few on the Rock at the time.
Feb 5 1780. The Prince came on Shore about 9 and Walked first to the Cave etc. and the Colonel (Green) with him, & ended the Walk at the Mount, where everything was in proper readiness 
He was having breakfast there with Colonel and Mrs. Green.
I was much pleased with Him. He is a very fine Youth, and must be liked in any Situation. His Questions were proper. They all wore the face of being the Result of a proper Curiosity.”
Well, she would say that wouldn’t she?
Feb 26 1780. The Small Pox is beginning to be fatal to the Children: all means are try’d to obtain Leave to inoculate, but as yet to no purpose 
March 21 1780. We killed a Small Cow this forenoon, for the use of the family & sent some peices to several Friends, likewise to some Families who had sick Children. The Colonel would not allow any of this cow to be disposed off. It weighed 400 lbs. N.B. We had been offerd 25 Guineas for it, and I daresay might have had £30, for everybody was Selling as Dear as they thought proper, but I detested the imposing practice 
April 6 1780. No Inoculation yet! Most people are displeased at this as it is certainly much better for the men & poor Children to have it now than when it is warmer. For my own part I am exceeding Anxious for Our Dear little Girl, and did it depend wholly upon myself I would not ask any leave 
April 8 1780. I gave 6 reals the pound for Veal this day. Many very Unpleasant Circumstances now in the Public Way. The Commanding Officers Seem all to think they have too little Attention Shew'd them 
April 11 1780. Small Pox raging very bad. Children Dying every Day 
April 12 1780. Particular deal of Engineering business going on not quite pleasing to the Col. 
Colonel Green and Eliott were obviously not seeing eye to eye on something – which was not unusual.


Colonel Green on the left, General Eliott on the right – not sure who the man in the middle is     ( George  Carter )
April 17 1780. The Small Pox is now getting into all the Reg, a Man of the Soldier Artificers exceedingly bad with it. No Inoculation Yet! 
April 26 1780. The Soldier of the Company Died 
On Friday, May 5th, Mrs Green’s daughter Charlotte sickened and subsequent entries understandably concentrate on this. Her doctor tried to persuade Eliott to allow her to be inoculated – but he refused 
May 2 1780. . . . He answered no. By no means! He could not answer it to his conscious
However Charlotte seems to have survived the ordeal.
May 17 1780. Wednesday - Every circumstance going on in the most favourable manner 
May 21 1780. Sunday - She (Charlotte) went out an airing. We are exceedingly happy on the occasion. She had about 300 all over her Body and off the finest kind. During the fortnight she has been ill More than 50 English Children have died, and Several Soldiers besides Inhabitants. The whole Air is infected, and a very dangerous fever is also in the Garrison. Every Means has been try’d to obtain the Governors leave to Inoculate; his Refusal makes every Body Unhappy.
Charlotte was still alive and well living in Canterbury during the early 19th century. Her father died on the 10th of January 1811 while visiting her.
25 May 1780. We are greatly Distresst in our family. The Young Woman (one of her servants) very bad. I am particularly hurt at it, as she now wishes She had been Inoculated. I am too much distresst to keep any public Journal; indeed it does not become necessary, as most things remain in the Same Unpleasant Way 
The Spanish Admiral doing his Utmost to keep up the Blockade. However we Sometimes get In a Boat with a small Supply, everything at this time as Dear as possible—nor is there any Method taken to make it better. The Governor Says He has not any objections to the Fresh Meat being as Dear as Ever. It is very easy to know his Reasons for Saying so. Contradiction only! 
 June 1 1780. Our Servant Maid is past all Possibility of Recovery Every Means is tried, but we find it will not do. Men, Women, & Children Dying every Day, and the Utmost Distress now appears in every Body. The Air is full of this Cruel Infection. It is to be wished that the Inoculation had been allowed, that would have stopped this long ago
The servant died on June 4th. There were no rejoicings for the King’s birthday, as there had been the previous year. 
June 6 1780. More & more had accounts of the fatal Effects of the Small Pox, and many Severe things said in consequence. It cannot be Wondered that the Lower Degrees of People should be much hurt at all these bad times. Their Provisions so had, Nothing to be got to assist them, and the Losing so many fine Children has been a heavy Stroke upon them; but we hear that a great Person in the Garrison says He thinks it a fortunate circumstance to those Soldiers who have Large familys to Lose three or four Children !
That “great person” was General Eliott, the Governor. On June 7th the Spaniards made an attempt to destroy vessels in the Bay using fire ships.
June 7 1780. It was a most Grand tho’ Alarming Sight, as they burnt with great Violence, it Seem’d to me just so Many Moving Mountains of Fire! To hear the Drums beating, the Noise of the Guns from the Garrison, & all our Ships, together with the bursting open of the Portholes in the Fire Ships, was beyond the power of my Pen to express! I was actually Stupid with Fright and at that Dead time of the Night also 
June 12 1780. Worse and Worse in the Small Pox 
Aug 2 1780. Major Horsfall of the 72d Reg‘ Sold a Milch Cow, for which he received Fifty Guineas and a pint of Milk every Day! 
Aug 15 1780. Our only Comfort is that the Small Pox seems to be Dying away, indeed it was dreadful to ear the Daily Loses. More than 500 have died, the Smallest Number has been of Soldiers, as there has not been more than 50 Died, but their poor Families are greatly thinned 
Sept 11 1780.  The Colonel had an Unexpected & Unwelcome Conversation with **** about some Workman belonging to the 58th who was employed not where it was Supposed. The Col. was totally Ignorant of it, as the man had been discharged from the Kgs Works since last March. He spoke his mind very freely to * * *. This I am sorry for, as I fear may Occasion some Unpleasant Consequences, it did bring on a good deal of Un-Comfortable Conversation amongst the Engineers 
Sept 13 1780. This is the meeting of American Gentlemen to Celebrate the Memory of General Wolfe, Colonel Green President, it consisted of 21, all concluded exceedingly Moderate & Agreeable
The “American Gentlemen” were evidently those members of the garrison who had served in the American war against France. Colonel Green was one of them.


According to Porter, on October 1st the besiegers began work on what was gradually to develop into a powerful battery. The garrison named this the Mill Battery as the enemy made use of the old Torre del Molino which stood more or less in the middle of the isthmus.



The old windmill in the “neutral Ground” that gave the name to the Mill battery   
( 1781 - J. Cheevers  - detail )

Prior to these developments both civilians and troops cultivated supplies of vegetables from the gardens in the Neutral Ground – later to be known as the Victoria Gardens. This now proved impossible and those trapped inside the fortress were now compelled to cultivate as much as possible from within the Rock. Apparently they succeeded. According to Drinkwater they were able to produce almost enough to cover their needs – the Garrison’s that is.


"A view of Gibraltar with the situation of the Spanish Flotantes in the morning of September 1782 from the North Pavilion “ – and one might add - “showing carefully tended fields in the southern part of the Rock”  ( Thomas Davis )

Mrs. Green then records a curious instance of the manner in which war was conducted in those days.
Oct 3 1780. Memorandum. As the Govt expects Count D’Estaing will Reconnoitre the Garrison in a Boat, the officers Commanding the different posts are not to fire at Him except He comes too near, but in that Case are to fire over him 
Oct 16 1780. Lt Holloway of the Corps of Engineers has been for Some Days employed Laying a Large Boom at the New Mole, a Work of Labour & trouble
Lt Holloway, who ended up as Brigade Major to Green and then later Aide-de-Camp to the Governor, General Eliott, was also an assiduous diary keeper (see LINK) and kept a careful record of any work that he was involved in. Later during the Siege he began to keep a second diary with more personal entries. Oddly, he fails to make any mention of Mrs Green’s “boom” but does record having laid one in September 1779 between the Old Mole Head and the stone wharf at the extremity of the glacis.


Spanish map showing boom from the old Mole Head to the stone wharf by the glacis  ( 1779 - Caballero – detail )
Oct 18 1780. The Salt fish is quite over, that is, amongst the Troops. NB. No Sorrow Shown on that occasion 
Oct 26 1780. The Beef is exceedingly Bad quite stinking 
Oct 27 1780. Our garrison is very Alert in all Respects, & Struggling in a most Surprising Way every part, which indeed seemed as Strong before as possible, the Number of Traverses is prodigious, & every possible attention is paid for the Safety off the Troops. The Governor & Chief Engineer Seem wholly devoted to Care & Anxiety for the Garrison
Mrs. Green had evidently for the moment forgiven the Governor.
Nov 1 1780. Most of the Reg are affected more or less with the Scurvy. 
Nov 6 1780. This forenoon the * * * was at our House & Unexpectedly gave a good deal of trouble & Vexation to the Chief; it hurt his Temper all Day, & broke In upon his Intentions.
Porter does not say who * * * is but I would hazard a guess that it was Eliott. 

The last entry in Mrs. Green’s diary is dated January 5th, 1781, and ends quite abruptly. Her health was poor and she had caught a “chill” while sleeping in a damp “bombproof” probably King’s Bastion - and many of her later entries dwell on her illness. According to Whitworth Porter she left the Rock in July 1781 although this is contradicted by Lieutenant Holloway who wrote in his diary that she had died on the 21st June 1782.

Note – Mrs Greens 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.