An evening more than a century in the making, the British Admiralty, with Dutch allies and in concert with the sailing nations of the Western world, begin the bombardment of Algiers on August 27th, 1816. Twenty-five warships under the command of Lord Exmouth assembled to pound the North African city into submission with a devastation 10-hour naval siege of the Mediterranean base of the Barbary Corsairs.
The end of the Napoleonic Campaigns in 1815 made it possible for the British Naval command to focus on the Dey’s piratical forces, here visible in this fine painting by the artist Thomas Buttersworth, one of his masterpieces. A deep and dark evening of severe weather in illuminated with the glow of the cannons and fires, the fleet of the corsairs caught in complete annilation. Both Dutch and British ships are visible, including a naval cutter running communications to the larger warships. More than 1000 Christian slaves were freed as a result, many once mariners of several countries. Although midshipman Thomas Buttersworth was out of the Royal Navy well before the engagement, he remained close to several in the Admiralty and his paintings remain as important records of the naval might of the period.
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