Siege of Calvi
|Siege of Calvi|
|Part of French Revolutionary Wars|
|First French Republic||
Kingdom of Great Britain|
|Commanders and leaders|
Horatio Nelson (WIA)
After evacuating Toulon in December 1793, the British force under vice admiral Samuel Hood regrouped in the bay of Hyères, 125 miles west of Calvi. On 4 January 1794 Pascal Paoli, general and leader of the Corsican nationalist forces, repeated an offer he had made at the height of the siege of Toulon - to put Corsica under British protection in exchange for help in ejecting the French garrisons in the three fortresses of Calvi, Bastia and San Fiorenzo (Saint Florent). Hood was keen to have a forward base for his fleet to blockade Toulon whilst protecting British trade with the Italian states via ports such as Livorno and Naples. Gibraltar was too far from Toulon, Minorca was in Spanish hands and he could not count on using Spanish ports like Barcelona since relations between Spain and Britain were anything but cordial despite their nominally being allies against France. Thus Hood was happy with Paoli's proferred help and with his terms, and decided to make Corsica his fleet's base.
In 1794 troops under Charles Stuart attacked Calvi, with his officers including Horatio Nelson. Heavy bombardment drew equally heavy French and Corsican resistance (the French forces included Raphael De Casabianca) and on 12 July Nelson lost the sight in one eye in an assault on the town. However, the French batteries were taken one by one and on 10 August the French garrison surrendered with full military honours, having held out for 40 days. 24,000 cannon balls had been fired at the town, however, and it took more than a century to regain its prosperity.