Napper Tandy’s Expedition

Napper Tandy

James Napper Tandy was made famous by the song The Wearing of the Green but when he boarded the French 16-gun corvette, the Anacréon, in September 1798 he was resplendent in the dark blue and gold of a French general’s uniform. This was quite an achievement for a man who had so little experience of war but the French revolutionary government hoped that Tandy might act as a political weapon in the conflict then being waged against England. For Ireland had risen up in revolt and although the rebellion itself was brutally repressed in that summer of 1798 it was still hoped that French arms might prove useful and that the landing of Irish revolutionaries, many of whom were in exile in France, might breath fresh life into the uprising.

Napper Tandy’s expedition was therefore one of a series of attempts the French Directory made to support the cause of Irish liberty knowing that it would weaken their arch-rivals the English. The earliest attempt had been made by General Hoche but his fleet had floundered off Bantry Bay at the close of 1797 and this seems to have so dismayed the French that, when the Irish did rise in the early summer of 1798, they did so without the French being ready to assist. A token expedition under General Humbert did eventually make it to Killala in August 1798 but it only landed just over 1,000 men and they only managed to hold out for two weeks before being forced to capitulate. A much more impressive force, consisting of nearly 3,000 soldiers under General Hardy as well as Wolfe Tone, attempted to leave Brest on 20 August but it was prevented by a blockading squadron of the Royal Navy and only made it out to sea eight days after Humbert’s surrender, and then then only to be scattered and captured off Donegal that October by Commodore Warren. The impressive man of war, the ill-fated Hoche, was captured as was poor Wolfe Tone, who was quickly bundled off to be executed in Dublin castle. This debacle put paid to a plan to send General Kilmaine from Brest with an additional 5,000 troops and this ambitious scheme was therefore cancelled on 29 October. Not all attempts or plans were so grand, the need to supply Ireland with arms and supplies lead to a more modest attempt, launched in October, to smuggle arms and 287 soldiers into Ireland using two Dutch frigates but they, in turn, were intercepted off Texel and captured on 24 October 1798.

However, this short and woeful history of French attempts to assist Ireland would not be complete without the equally modest, but far more dramatic, adventure conceived by James Napper Tandy. His would be the last invasion of Ireland.

Napper Tandy was a leading light in the United Irishmen and, after a brief exile in the young United States, he had escaped over to France in February 1798 and was welcomed as a useful ally in the war on England. His integrity was unquestioned and the French viewed him as “an excellent republican, devoted entirely to France and hating England as much as he is friendly towards us”. However, Tandy, despite being nominated a general by the republic on 21 April, was a politician rather than a soldier and it was the more experienced 40-year-old Adjudant-Général Jean-André Rey, a veteran of the wars in the Americas and often referred to as General Rey, who took charge of the forces placed under Tandy. These consisted of a handful of Irish officers, most notably Adjudant-Général [or chef de brigade] James Batholomew Blackwell, Adjutant McMahon and Captain William Corbet, and a smattering of volunteers, including Peter Carey, Donovan or Henry Morres, Patrick McKenna, Anthony M’Cann and George Orr. Unfortunately Orr, and Tandy’s secretary, John Powell Murphy, were spies in the pay of England. Meanwhile a few French officers, including captains Auguste Ameil and Lazare Borie, were seconded to oversee some naval infantry and a company of 40 men of the 2nd Regiment of Horse Artillery under Captain Luxembourg and Lieutenant Libeau, complete with three guns, munitions and equipment, was also loaded aboard.

Then, with supplies, munitions and an additional 1,000 muskets, 800 pistols and 1,000 swords for any rebels who came to join them all safely stowed, and the martial passengers assigned their quarters, the swift Dunkirk corsair made ready to sail just as Humbert was marching through the mountains in the final days of his brief campaign.

There exists one detailed account of the campaign that followed and of Napper Tandy’s invasion. It was set down by one of the French officers mentioned above, Auguste Ameil, a rather prickly and outspoken cavalryman who boasted a formidable red moustache and a fiery temper to match. Ameil was a Parisian, and despite being only 14 years old, he had joined up on the day the Bastille fell. He was a lieutenant in a battalion of light infantry and fighting in Belgium by 1793 and, by 1795, was aide de camp to General Desjardins. A bout of fever contracted in the Netherlands in late 1797 nearly finished him off and, as he was convalescing in Paris that spring, he fell in with some Irish exiles. This lead to him volunteering to take part in one of the expeditions bound for Ireland that summer. Unfortunately for Captain Ameil he found himself accompanying General Napper Tandy, who would fail to make much impact in Ireland, rather than General Humbert, who had better, if short-lived, success.

Ameil’s eyewitness account of this short but disastrous attempt to land in Ireland to support the now largely spent rebellion comes in two forms. There are some fragmentary notes jotted down for his own reference. They are terse but give a general sense of the way the campaign fizzled and went out, and the perils all French troops faced once entrusted to rough seas and the hardly less careful hands of the French navy:

On 1 January 1798 I was at Bergen-op-Zoom. I went to Paris that spring. Great trouble in Ireland. I saw the United Irishmen in Paris. I offered and was granted permission to accompany them to Ireland with officers I could select and a company of horse artillery with guns, munitions and small arms. I saw the expedition fitting out at Boulogne and Dunkirk. I was detached to serve the navy. I held many meetings with Bruix, Minister of the Navy. I boarded the Anacréon with Napper Tandy and the United Irishmen. I set sail. We passed Edinburgh and were pursued by a frigate; we lost our topmast; saw the Faroes and the Scottish coast; terrible storm on 14 September. We end up off the coast of Donegal; march on Londonderry; Humbert’s defeat after Castlebar. My plans for Alswych [sic] and Londonderry are rejected. Boarding and seizure of a corvette. Stay in Norway. Napper Tandy abandons us but is taken in Hamburg. Leave Bergen. Moor amongst enemy squadron off Walcheren. Return to Dunkirk.

It isn’t clear what Ameil means when he refers to a march on Londonderry but it probably indicates an intention as the reality was more prosaic as the second, and more formal, account by Ameil makes clear. This is his report, a semi-official account of the expedition, drawn up for the Minister of War, General Schérer in Paris. It is far more detailed and although it tries to make Ameil the hero of his own story it also makes it clear that Napper Tandy’s expedition spent most of its time buffeted by strong seas and very little time in Ireland, and, incidentally, none at all on the mainland. The document was lodged in Ameil’s archives and published in the journal Carnet de la Sabretache in 1907.

A south-westerly wind meant we could leave at four in the afternoon of 4 September 1798. The sea was rough and treacherous and we lost our anchor. It was a problem we could not have foreseen or prevented but it did not slow us down and our speed and a light mist meant that we were able to slip past the English ships and the squadron stationed in these waters and so make off. The following day we were off Yarmouth and we continued on northwards thanks to favourable winds although there were some squalls and one of these, on the evening of the 5th, was so violent and sustained that our topmast and topsail were damaged. Some skill on the part of Captain Blanckmann [sic, Etienne Jean Blanckeman] and his second, Denize, was required to allay the fears that this disaster might have given cause to amongst those unaccustomed to life at sea and exhausted by the rough weather. It did not take long for the masts and rigging to be repaired and sails hoisted and we continued on in calmer weather until we reached the Orcades (Orkneys) without having seen a single ship save an English frigate escorting some merchants off on our portside. We had slipped past Edinburgh, the Orkneys and Fair Isle and headed west through less favourable weather which went from us being becalmed to strong winds and rough seas. Encountering and then avoiding frigates forced us to frequently change route and go off course. We found ourselves off the most southerly of Westerness [Barra Head in the Outer Hebrides] on the night of the 12th but the sea was uncommonly rough and the wind very strong. We made ready to sail for Ireland but the sight of two enemy frigates, and our wish to avoid them, forced a change of route. Once we had lost the enemy frigates we kept off the coast. Then, once the sea had calmed, we set sail, driven by favourable winds, towards Ireland.
When we were six leagues from land we spied a frigate and a corvette at their station off Lough Foyle and Swilly and we were obliged to change our route and sail northwards. From noon on the 13th until the 14th we on the Anacréon were becalmed 18 leagues from land. Then a light breeze picked up and we sailed in a westerly direction. On the following day the sea was again boisterous but, at nine that morning, we caught sight of the most northerly point of Tory Island and the mountains of the island of Ireland beyond it. Between the 14th and five o’clock in the afternoon of the 15th we monitored a sloop a little to the east and by the coast. We ran him down and captured this English vessel. It was called the Swan of 50 tons with a crew of six and was plying between Londonderry and Galway. The captain [William Kelly] was brought on board and he told us the French had landed in Sligo [sic] bay and what progress they had made. We had him give us as much information as he could on the situation of the country and also his navigational charts for northern Ireland as we did not have any of those at all. The vessel was the captain’s own and its capture ruined him. However, as he was Irish and because he had shown us goodwill, and might still do so, General Napper Tandy, who commanded the expedition, thought it politic to release the crew and the vessel whilst the captain agreed to be kept as our hostage to ensure the good behaviour of his men but also to act as pilot. General Napper Tandy and the English [sic] captain also agreed that in order to placate any suspicion as to the whereabouts of the captain he should write a letter to his brother, sending it via his deputy via Galway, saying that he had had the misfortune of being seized and that his vessel was being ransomed for 100 Guineas whilst he himself was being kept hostage until that sum could be paid. General Napper Tandy felt obliged to opt for this approach as he had absolutely no information about, or intelligence from, the coast and he felt it preferable to secure a reliable pilot. Thinking gentleness the best policy he let the boat go rather than sinking it or allowing it to impede our progress. At midnight the weather turned calm and we idled a league and a half off the coast. We continued on, though, the following day then the wind turned against us as we were within muskets-hot of Tory Island. We could make out several of the inhabitants on the cliffs and they were waving their arms and hats but we could not understand what these gestures meant. The wind was so contrary that we were obliged to tack and then make for a bay of Arranmore Island, off Donegal, where General Napper Tandy seemed to suggest he would disembark. We spied two sloops progressing along the coast with the wind behind them. They were not stopped. Between the 15th and the evening of the 16th the weather was stormy and it grew worse and the sea rougher and it was so bad for 11 hours and then we were driven from Arranmore Island. Then the sea turned calmer and we approached the coast and, at four in the morning, caught sight of the northern tip of Arranmore Island. By ten we were cruising off it and looking for a place to anchor. We took on board a pilot [Tadhg Boyle] at half passed ten as we were flying the English flag and he guided us to our anchorage. We anchored at eleven in waters six fathoms deep and a pistol shot from the coast. We still flew the English flag and we could easily discern along the shoreline all the houses of the locals. We then began to be visited by the country folk who came out in their miserable boats made from wicker or rushes. Then came the customs official in his barge and the royal pilot who came out with an officer. All the boats were seized and the sailors and locals, numbering 15 or 20, were detained as prisoners. The soldiers and the crew then armed themselves whilst General Tandy interrogated each of the detained in order to see whether the captain of the Swan had told the truth when he said the French had landed at Killala, and to see if they had been successful, where they were now and whether there had been any uprising in the north of Ireland. The prisoners were all United Irishmen. They said the French had landed at Killala and had won an important victory in which they had taken six guns from the English general Lake and that, subsequently, they had been victorious five or six more times and had been joined by a large number of rebels. However, General Cornwallis, having amassed 28,000 men, had attacked the French, beaten them and taken them prisoner whilst massacring without mercy around 5,000 patriots. They declared that anyone who was a United Irishman was appalled by this news and that the province of Ulster had been attached to the cause of liberty, and ready to fight for it, but that it had been disarmed and the rebellion snuffed out. They offered to take up arms and join us. One of them had it that seven or eight miles inland there were around 4,000 men waiting to rise and determined to join with the French. Another stated that, as it was a Sunday, there was a church about a league distant [at Kincasslagh] where 1,000 United Irishmen congregated and that they would join the French. General Tandy therefore called for a Council of War composed of the army and naval officers and the non-commissioned officers of the horse artillery. He informed them of the disasters which had befallen the French troops and asked they consider what course to follow. Several were of the opinion that a small party should be landed to ascertain whether this news was in fact true. Citizen Ameil, as well as Captain [Lazare] Borie, Second Lieutenant Robert and some other officers were in favour of landing at once, and without hesitation, on the Irish mainland as the French government had organised the expedition with the purpose of landing Napper Tandy, some Irish, and some enthusiastic officers, as well as some supplies, artillery, gunners and munitions, in Ireland. He [Ameil] added that the expedition was independent of that which quit Rochefort and so our action was not contingent upon their defeat or their success but was intended solely to revive or support the rebellion. All the different opinions were collected then the minutes were drawn up and each member of the Council of War signed them and they were presented to General Napper Tandy so he could instruct us as to what should be done. The general determined to land to see if the rumours were true. He determined that General of Brigade Rey, Adjudant General Blackwell, Citizen Ameil, Captain Borie, Adjutant Mackonna, seven Irish volunteers and a detachment of horse artillery would accompany him. The other officers were left on the ship with everyone else and told to await orders. Four barges were fitted out and landed the general and his detachment on the rocky shore of Arranmore Island [sic, actually Rutland Island, or Inis Mhic a Duirn] and just by the harbour of Rutland [Tarent Street]. Citizen Ameil accompanied by Captain Borie and some of the party went at once to the headland to seize the boats and thus prevent the village from communicating with the mainland. Some of the royalists then sought to escape using some canoes so that they could raise the alarm that some French had come. There was an exchange of fire and just a single canoe with three royalists onboard managed to get away although Captain Borie had managed to break the leg of one of them. Meanwhile General Rey and General Napper Tandy, accompanied by the Irish volunteers, assembled as many of the peasants as they could manage, unfurled the Irish flag, distributed cockades to them, read out proclamations and asked them for news on the operations of the French who had landed at Killala. All the information received confirmed what we had learned earlier. Then the post was confiscated [from the postman Henry Manelis] and opened and all doubt as to what had come to pass vanished when it was confirmed in the Dublin newspapers and some private correspondence that was read. So General Tandy and General Rey determined that the landing could not go ahead as there was no way it could support itself or be of any use. They were of the opinion that our men and supplies would best be kept to serve the republic and so ordered that we embark. A cow was killed, along with some pigs, and General Tandy compensated the owners for them. At six that evening, and despite the reluctance and anger of some officers and the artillery who were, nevertheless, compelled to obey, the embarkation began. The Irish volunteers, [George} Orr and [John Powell] Murphy, let it be known that they would stay and that they would go into the hills and raise the country and serve the cause of Irish liberty by preparing the way for the expedition from Brest which was supposedly on its way. Citizen Ameil, Captain Borie and several of the artillerymen desired to go with them and fight alongside them but the generals would not permit it and they were required to embark. General Napper Tandy was then borne aloft and carried, as though in triumph, by the Irish peasants down to his barge. They expressed the sadness at the French leaving them, their fear that the English would exact revenge on them and their willingness to take up arms and to join the French and act as their guides. Despite such regret, and that of many of the French and Irish [volunteers], we embarked.
The night between the 16 September and the 17th was very dark indeed and there was an incident which reflected a great deal of honour on a man whose sense of duty managed to limit some potentially fatal consequences. The armourer of the Anacréon slipped from the starboard prow and fell into the sea. Very soon this unfortunate man was 30 feet from the vessel and he would drown. The night was dark and the sea was rough. A man from Brest who was the ship’s paymaster threw himself into the sea without thinking about the light, the weather or the danger and he managed to save and bring back to the boat one of their own who, otherwise, and if it had not been for this man’s selfless bravery, would surely have succumbed. We were at anchor for the rest of the night but at dawn General Napper Tandy ordered us to set sail. We sent back those locals we had with us on their canoes as well as the royal canoe and we also sent back the captain of the Swan who had been held onboard for the past few days.
When we were away from the coast we set sail for the north and with a fresh north-westerly wind, went off towards Norway as that is what General Tandy had directed. On the 17th and 18th the sea was rough but the winds were favourable and we made progress towards the Orkneys. General Tandy then changed the instructions he had given about Norway and ordered that we should sail, winds permitting, for a French or allied port. On the 18th and 19th the sea was rough but the weather held favourable. That evening Citizen Ameil suggested that a landing be made on one of the Shetland islands and that a dawn raid on the two forts at Lerwick, in which the guns could be spiked and the garrisons massacred, might cost the [British] government the equivalent sum we had spent on our expedition or at least cause sufficient damage or even destroy these royal establishments and allow us to burn or sink all the ships in the harbour and the fishing boats bound for Greenland, Iceland or Dogger’s Bank. The idea of not returning to France until we had carried out such a raid was met with approbation by all the officers and by General Rey. The naval officers, however, thought it too risky and with a high chance we would suffer loss and suggested that if the winds were against us heading for France then we should land in one of the smaller islands with a village and force it to pay us a ransom, The difference in opinion between the army officers and those of the navy meant that nothing was done. We caught sight of the Orkneys at five in the morning and at six a brig down wind from us. Captain Blanckmann gave chase in order to see who it was but as we approached we saw our mainsail had been damaged by the loss of two backstays.
On 19 and 20 September the sea was again rough and boisterous as we passed Fair Isle. Some three hours after casting off we saw a brig [the Langton] and a three-masted ship [the Tom] bearing down on us and an hour later they had closed. Both the brig and the ship had run up the English flag and fired a shot so we cleared the decks as we felt sure these vessels would try to capture us. Coming within range the ship fired a broadside and judging by the distance the calibre of its guns was greater than our four-pounders. We manoeuvred to draw closer but soon either because of the inexperience of the naval gunners or because of the confusion up on the bridge, many of our guns were out of action and our firing slackened off. The officers forming the expeditionary force and the artillerymen, ashamed of being so exposed to the English gunnery, loudly demanded that they be allowed to board the enemy and cried out vive la République! a thousand times. We drew closer despite the English shot and the troops of the expeditionary force showered the English ships with bullets. This scared the English and they evacuated their bridge apart from the captain of their ship [John Webster] who stood there alone and continued to fire at us. The musketry continued and the enemy ship lowered her flag and the brig, grappled and seeing what was about, also hauled down her flag. Once again our troops who had made famous our flag proved the tricolour redoubtable.
The boats were secured and the English officers were brought onboard. They had it that our musketry had frightened them and their sails and rigging were shot full of holes and it was this shooting which had caused them to yield otherwise, without this gunfire, they would have sunk the Anacréon as its guns did not worry them in the least. The wind was picking up and Captain Blanckmann informed General Tandy that sailing for France was impossible and that even remaining where they were, perhaps whilst awaiting more favourable winds, was not without danger especially as the mainsail was damaged which meant that if we were pursued we would be caught. He therefore received orders to continue on to Norway and have the prizes follow on. They had come from Saint Petersburg and were bound for Liverpool. The brig had a cargo of iron, steel and hemp worth 230,000 Pounds Sterling whilst the boat, carrying the same, had a value of 400,000. It was commanded by a very brave captain and the French made it clear to him that his courage and action had very much impressed them.
At nine the following morning we saw another sail downwind. By ten we could see it was a rather large English warship. It signalled to the prizes to make off but far from doing so they drew closer. On 20 September and the 21st the sea was rough up until noon. The English ship was following us and one of the prizes got away whilst the brig, which was a poor sailor, was on the point of being recaptured. Attempts were made to get it under tow but they proved fruitless. Eventually it was obvious the enemy vessel would succeed to a signal was given and our men were told to quit the prize and use a canoe to pass over to the Anacréon. This they did without even thinking of setting fire to the brig in order to deny it to the enemy. The brig had been evacuated and nobody was at the tiller so it drifted off and was recaptured by the English. At six that evening the other prize was out of sight and so out of danger so we continued on through the night. Then at six in the morning we sighted land and at seven a pilot came onboard so he could guide us through the Norwegian channels. It was raining. At eight we were through the shoals and en route for Bergen which was ten leagues away.
On 21 September and the 22nd the weather was calmer and we continued on using the oars and, at five in the evening, entered Bergen. As an officer acting in an official capacity the captain saluted the fort with a broadside from both the port-side and starboard guns. The fort required with a five-gun salute. Citizen Ameil was sent off by General Rey to see the governor of the place with the demand that the correct salute be performed in deference to the French flag. The governor made no difficulty of this and had an additional shot fired and so we docked. The following morning the generals and officers of the expeditionary force, accompanied by the French consul, paid their visits to the region’s civil and military authorities and to the consuls of those powers that were deemed to be friendly to the French republic. General Tandy had the troops and the officers disembarked and lodged in places appointed by the consul. Everyone was told to observe the most exacting neutrality and the strictest discipline.
On the afternoon of the 22nd the three-masted prize ship also arrived. She had been pursued by an English frigate and shot at as she passed through the shoals.

Ameil also described events in some of his correspondence, as the following letters confirm:

Correspondence of Auguste Ameil relating to the expedition to Ireland.
Army of Ireland, North Division
Headquarters at Bergen, Norway.
Auguste Ameil, staff officer in the armies of the republic, to General Desjardins
I embrace you, general, and embrace Gauthier, and send my respects to generals Osten and Rivaud. I am sending you my journal of our operation the results of which are, thankfully, not down to me even though my zeal persuaded me to take part in it. It has been written in a hurry but your kindness towards me allows me to hope you will find it interesting, nonetheless. You will see that our expedition began well enough, and no-one could have foreseen an outcome of the kind that ensued. Good weather, calm seas, encountering enemy ships, terrible storms, a successful landing, a skirmish, a shameful evacuation, a naval battle against a brig and a three-masted ship, their capture, the loss of one of them, pursuit by an English frigate and, eventually our arrival in rocky Norway, that, in sum, is an account of the expedition I was dragged into. I give you my word of honour that I have no real regrets other than to have witnessed the inaction of men from whom one might have expected more and it saddens me because I could see they did not dare risk their lives.
The trouble and the dangers I ran are nothing more than what I owe to my country and I am glad I am still alive so that I can continue to serve. However if, as I would hope, I am ever sent back to Ireland then I will go accompanied by men whom I trust and who prefer honour to surviving. As for myself, I do not think I have done anything to add to the unfavourable impression the results of this expedition will make on the government for on each occasion, and during each Council of War, I was always urging we attack. Such sentiments reflect well on me but I would have been happier had I had the opportunity to carry them out. My role was witnessed and there is a record of it. Perhaps the Directory wishes to try those who did not deserve its confidence and who fear being seized should they return to France. Instead they have carried off to the north and the barren rocks of Norway brave men who are now 400 or 500 leagues from home and who desire nothing more than to return to France so they can muster under braver commanders and fly to revenge their compatriots massacred on the field at Castlebar [sic, Ballinamuck].
General, I congratulate myself daily that I learned the art of war at your side and I have learned to respect your conscientious and efficient habits, so much so that now I am offended when I see commanders who are so inactive, careless and obsessed with their table. I find myself stranded here with no orders, without knowing what I should do even as I am in charge of a detachment of horse artillery, guns, munitions, weapons and officers. Our anger knows no bounds. We are in a land where they speak a language quite unknown to us and amongst a people who are almost savage living, as they do, in vile huts (although here there are wooden houses). We do not expect them to like us. We are deprived of resources. My compatriots and I do not know what shall become of us as we cannot see how we will be able to return home. Perhaps we will have to pass through Denmark and countless other lands that I cannot tell from Adam. I have met the French consul but he is an old man weighed down by years. He inherited this position from his father and he has been in post for 54 years; even the upheaval of the revolution did not remove him as, in all likelihood, nobody wished to come to this benighted land to replace him. I went to him in order to secure the assistance required of my position and if he can do nothing for me then there is nothing left for it but to return to France via Copenhagen 120 leagues distant and where the ambassador might be able to assist me. I enclose a letter for him so that it arrives by secure means and another one for our ambassador at The Hague in the hope he can intervene.
Farewell general, do not forget your unfortunate aide-de-camp and deem yourself fortunate for he still has more want, effort and dangers to brave before he can return home. Please try, I beg you, to see that any payments I am owed are paid promptly. I am running up debts  beyond what my income can support and if I do not receive compensation upon my return then I do not know what will become of me. Farewell general, I embrace you and send you my gratitude and my respects. Best wishes to Charpentier if you see him. Goodbye, good health, fun and happiness and send some to me to console me. Your aide de camp, Ameil. PS I will send my journal another time.
Headquarters at Bergen, Norway.
Auguste Ameil, staff officer in the armies of the republic, to General Desjardins
27 September 1798
General, I did not manage to send my journal with the previous letter so I am sending it now. The English prize ship, the seizure of which is described in the journal, is valued at 400,000 Pounds Sterling. We would have had 700,000 had we been able to keep the brig but the English retook it. So, as you can see, we would have had sufficient to offset the costs incurred by the government in fitting out our expedition. It was not out of friendship or kindness that we spoke that way about the English captain but the truth is he deserved it for the courage he showed in the fight. Things are improving here. We went to see the consul and he personally introduced us to the commandant of the citadel, the governor of the province, the chamberlain and the most distinguished personages hereabouts. They welcomed us warmly and quite well, treatment, I presume, shown to us out of respect for the victories of the French republic across Europe. We French receive all the military honours that are not always accorded to those of other nations.
This town is very much like Elberfeld and is at the foot of inaccessible rocks. There is no contact with the interior and those who do travel inland are dragged along in a kind of basket so that those passing through these snowy mountains barely do three leagues in a day. The harbour is a wide one and it contains 150 large ships and could house the combined fleets of Europe. We are moored above a bed of sand which is 30 or 40 fathoms deep. The mountains shelter the ships from strong winds unless there is a north-easterly in which case much damage is inflicted. The harbour is protected by a citadel of modern design, has batteries rasantes and is situated at the foot of some rocks. In order to reach the harbour one is obliged to sail through shoals and then eight or ten leagues of reefs so dangerous that some unfortunate nomadic peasants earn a living by serving as pilots. The air around here is unhealthy on account of the town being by the sea and the stillness caused by the rocks hindering any breeze. Consequently Bergen has many fevers during the summer.
The population of Bergen is 17,000 Calvinists and then, in addition, foreigners numbering 4,000 souls. The religion here is that of the Calvinists. The coins are of alloy and there is no silver, although paper money can be used as credit. There are no factories or manufactories here in Norway. Here in the north the country people wear the skin of the animals they hunt and, in more temperate regions, wool from their sheep which is then woven or knitted. Only those in the towns wear imported cloth. Trade in Bergen is extensive. Mostly it consists of whale blubber, steel wire, fur and a vast amount of fish which is exported to the Mediterranean, Spain, France, Holland and England. The town acts as a centre of commerce for much of the north and the fishermen of Newfoundland, Iceland and Russia. There are ships here from Denmark, Sweden, Russia, England, France, Holland, Prussia, Hamburg and almost all the other nations. There can be up to 260 of them in perpetual motion, loading or unloading, at any one time. The port is neutral and opened to all those nations who are at war; these can come for supplies and repairs and all are accorded neutral status. So, 18 months ago, a French squadron entered at the same time as an English squadron and no hostile acts were committed.
So, general, this is the information I have gathered on this land and I hope they prove interesting. I await orders from the Directory so I may learn of its intentions and how I might rejoin you. General I present to you my respects as well as to generals Osten and Rivaud. I embrace you with all my heart. Best wishes to Gauthier, Charpentier, Durutte, Merleu and Marie.
25 September [sic, 25 October] 1798
Auguste Ameil, staff officer in the armies of the republic, to General Desjardins
 I am, general, concerned as I have not heard from you or of you since my landing, or rather my embarking and I have not met a soul who can tell me if you are in good health or where you are. You should have received those letters of mine which I have been sending and I hope to also receive some from you. I have finally managed to deliver my report to the minister of the navy and I hope it will make an impression. He was grateful and even requested the promotion I had been promised and told me yesterday that it would be settled in just a few days. That is what I am owed for Bergen for it cost me my health, I had a dose of scabies, caught whilst onboard, which has used me up and I have been so busy that I have had no time to get it treated.
I saw Jallot who has many things he would like to send to you but he has not, it seems, heard from you in a long time. I hope you are doing as well as he is for he is as plump as a monk. I also saw Commandant Collot strolling through the Tuileries with the representatives. They told me that he has been readmitted and is leaving for the army at Mayence. Citizens Grysperre and Salme are also at Pars seeking to be readmitted. It is said that General Bernadotte will go to command the left wing of the army at Mayence and Championnet will go, it is said, either to lead the Army of Naples or the army in Holland. This is contradicted by some as what will General Harty [Hardy] do? He was replaced by General Brune a few days ago.
There is much talk of war and much more so now following the disaster that befell our fleet in the Mediterranean and I think only a signal victory in Egypt or Ireland will secure a general peace. Buonaparte, it seems, is winning people over and making use of his abilities to conciliate and his own genius he is overcoming the naval setback and win back all the support the aristocrats are happy to believe he warrants. He has won over much of Egypt and Arabia, built strongholds and military emplacements and has paved the way for us to both defend our colony of Egypt and attack the Indies. Two naval captains with whom I dined at the minister of the navy’s residence assured me that Buonaparte will raise a corps of Egyptian infantry and will have 25,000 Arab cavalry. Such news, reported by officers worthy of being believed, are at least reassuring. When they left there was no disease but just  a few men had gone insane and were allowed to return to France for treatment. The minister was not so reassuring about Ireland. Attempts to rise up were made, indeed there was a rebellion, but still nothing has been heard of the Brest squadron which set out on 16 September, that is 39 days ago, neither is it clear what has become of the Rochefort squadron which set out on 10 October. This is quite worrying. In total both these squadrons carried 6,000 men and 6,000 Frenchmen can cause the English a lot of harm in that country. There are just some rumours about the Brest squadron that have been obtained through private channels and which are hardly encouraging, but there has been nothing official. It is said that after landing in the north by Lake Swilly, near Londonderry, the squadron has returned to the Ile de Ré. We are on tenterhooks as we wait for confirmation. If the Dunkirk squadron arrives in the Scheldt, as, I believe, it was instructed to do so, then, general, take care of it for you will have a small but imposing fleet. You already have six gunboats, and the lugger the Atalante, and you will be reinforced by the Torche, Festin, Nayade and Malicieuse corvettes, as well as the Bonne Citoyenne lugger. So you will have 14 sail, which is an impressive number.
Farewell general, I wish you good day. I regret you are not now in Paris even though it is late in the season. There are some grapes at Sceaux where we dined so happily. They are good and will do you much good. The family joins with me in wishing you health and happiness and I have the honour to salute you. Your aide-de-camp.

Captain Ameil had made it back to Dunkirk but Napper Tandy’s ordeal was not yet over. He had come ashore in Hamburg on 22 November 1798, along with Blackwell, and met William Corbet and a certain Harvey Montmorency Morres. At the insistence of the British  representative in that port, James Craufurd, all these notorious rebels were then detained by the local police already suspicious that Tandy and Blackwell were using the aliases of Jones and Bleifest and pretending to be Americans. Whilst the Hamburg police were conducting their enquiries the British loudly demanded the extradition of men they claimed to be traitors and rebels and, despite the repercussions the arrest of a French general would cause, the government in Hamburg caved in and the British were able to haul Tandy and Blackwell off to London and then Dublin. After a lengthy sequence of confinement punctuated by trials, Tandy was found guilty but then pardoned. Following the intervention of his son he was spared being sent to Botany Bay and, instead, was permitted to settle in France. He arrived there on 14 March 1802 to a hero’s welcome. A little over a year later he was dead, broken, it was said by years of mistreatment.

Shortly after his arrival in Bordeaux Tandy had been made general of division. Ameil’s career took longer to mature. He fought in many of the imperial campaigns and was colonel of the 19th Chasseurs by 1809 and was even made general of brigade in the snows of Russia in November 1812. When Napoleon abdicated in April 1814, Ameil continued to serve France’s new masters, the Bourbons, but following Napoleon’s escape from Elba he switched back to his former allegiance rather too hastily and, on the way to Auxerre to stir up Burgundy for the returning emperor, he encountered some royalists who sent him to be confined in Paris. Napoleon was soon in Paris, of course, and Ameil was freed and placed at the head of a division of cavalry under Grouchy. He therefore missed Waterloo but was caught up in the shipwreck of that defeat and, thanks to his hasty fervour to fight beneath the eagles, he was promptly sentenced to death by the vengeful Bourbons. Ameil had been in worse scrapes and he succeeded in cheating death this time by fleeing to Switzerland. Despite being fleeced of 12,000 Francs by German troops in eastern France he made it safely to Geneva and from there sought employment with the Russian army or the Swedes. Before a response could come from Czar Alexander or his old friend Bernadotte, he was chased out of Switzerland in March 1816 by its zealous police and once more headed for Norway and, from there, he hoped, to America. However he was stopped close to the Danish border and found himself confined in Hanover where he spent many years under house arrest until the French government issued an amnesty following Napoleon’s death in 1821. He was then reintegrated into his former rank and given a pension. It was a nice gesture but it did not do him much good for he died at Charenton on 16 September 1822.