Newgate Calendar - MUTINY AT MALTA, APRIL 1807

MUTINY AT MALTA, APRIL 1807

A Caution to Soldiers

            ON Saturday, the 4th of April, 1807, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Valette was alarmed by a most daring mutiny in the regiment of Froberg, consisting of foreigners of every description, quartered in the fortress on the opposite side of the harbour of Valette, called the Ricasoli in the Island of Malta. The adjutant Swartz, on being apprised of the intended mutiny, sallied out with other officers, determined to quell it in its infancy, but did not succeed; himself and Captain Whitfield fell victims in the attempt—the major and others were wounded.

            In the fortress, on duty, was a party of the Royal British Artillery, commanded by Capt. Fade, who were immediately disarmed, and remained under the control of the mutineers, and compelled by them to load the cannon and mortars, and point them towards the city of La Valette, or wherever otherwise they thought proper to order them. The soldiers of the regiment, who were not of the number of the mutineers, embraced the opportunity that offered to effect their escape, and a great number accomplished it, though many of them were shot at by the mutineers in making the attempt; several of these unfortunate men were wounded, and others shot dead.

            The ring-leaders on the third day, possibly with a view to get supplies of provision, opened the great gates of the fort, placing sentinels in the usual order, of which opportunity on the 5th day, about 300 availed themselves, taking with them the major of the regiment wounded, in a litter, and all the officers, together with Captain Fade, and the artillery men, and all the English women with their children. The two sentinels attempted to oppose this party, who were immediately shot dead by them.

            In this fortress was a large powder magazine, containing about 500 barrels of gunpowder, at which an artillery man was placed sentinel, from whom the mutineers demanded entrance into the magazine, which he boldly refused at the expense of his life, as they instantly put him to death. The numbers of the mutineers in the fort, in consequence of continual desertion, was reduced to a very few, and on Friday the 10th of April, at six o'clock in the afternoon, fired two bombs on this city, which happily did no injury. It was resolved to storm the place at daybreak the next morning, and take them by surprise, ere they could have time to put in execution their threatened purpose of blowing up the powder magazine. The walls were scaled, but a dog giving the alarm, frustrated the plan. Six of the eight remaining retired to the magazine; the other two were cut off from the magazine. They, however, fired two bombs towards the city, which providentially did no injury. On Sunday evening, at ten o'clock, the six resolved to blow up the magazine, in order to make their escape, which they effected. In the magazine were from 4 to 500 barrels of gunpowder, which made a most tremendous explosion; fortunately, the plan was suspected, and only a small number of troops were therefore placed in the fort to watch their motions and prevent their escape, and to surprise them if any opportunity offered: happily, therefore, only three soldiers became the victims, and two or three wounded. The shock of the explosion did infinite damage to the windows.

            The mutineers fled into the interior of the island, and were afterwards taken. The last of them taken was a black disguised in women's clothes, on whom fell the lot to blow up the magazine. A court-martial was held at the Town-house, on twenty-five of the mutineers, supposed to be ring-leaders; one of whom at the gallows was respited, the others executed; ten hanged, and fourteen shot.

 

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