The Bombardment of Copenhagen
The British bombed the Danish capital for a second time, on September 2nd, 1807.
A singularly undiplomatic diplomat called Francis Jackson was sent to suggest to the Danes that they put their fleet into British hands for the duration, to be returned to them at the end of hostilities with France. A fee of £100,000 was offered, but the Danes were not receptive to the idea, so British troops under Lord Cathcart, with Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) in command of a division, set siege to Copenhagen from the land side. The army brought its field artillery into play, while the British battleships and bomb vessels were brought into action on the water. The city was struck by a storm of fire from all sides until the 5th, with more than a thousand buildings destroyed and many people killed or wounded, when the Danes sent out a flag of truce. The British stopped the bombardment on condition of the immediate surrender of the Danish fleet. British sailors rigged some fifteen Danish battleships, fifteen frigates and thirty brigs and gunboats, which they cheerfully sailed off to England with in October.
Canning had considered keeping a force in Denmark to prevent the Russian fleet from leaving the Baltic, but thought better of it under pressure from the commanders on the spot. Even so, his actions came in for fierce criticism in Parliament, where he defended himself with mesmerizing brilliance. ‘He leaped about,’ Sydney Smith said, ‘touched facts with his wand, turned yes into no and no into yes.’
Canning would be prime minister in 1827. Gambier was given a peerage and ended his days as president of the Church Missionary Society.