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FRANK ABNEY HASTINGS (1794-1828)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 55 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANK ABNEY HASTINGS (1794-1828), British naval officer and Philhellene, was the son of Lieut.-general Sir Charles Hastings, a natural son of Francis Hastings, tenth earl of Huntingdon. He entered the navy in 1805, and was in the " Neptune " (loo) at the battle of Trafalgar; but in 182o a quarrel with his flag captain led to his leaving the service. The revolutionary troubles of the time offered chances of foreign employment. Hastings spent a year on the continent to learn French, and sailed for Greece on the 12th of March 1822 from Marseilles. On the 3rd of April he reached Hydra. For two years he took part in the naval operations of the Greeks in the Gulf of Smyrna and elsewhere. He saw that the light squadrons of the Greeks must in the end be overpowered by the heavier Turkish navy, clumsy as it was; and in 1823 he drew up and presented to Lord Byron a very able memorandum which he laid before the Greek government in 1824. This paper is of peculiar interest apart from its importance in the Greek insurrection, for it contains the germs of the great revolution which has since been effected in naval gunnery and tactics. In substance the memorandum advocated the use of steamers in preference to sailing ships, and of direct fire with shells and hot shot, as a more trustworthy means of destroying the Turkish fleet than fire-ships. It will be found in Finlay's History of the Greek Revolution, vol. ii. appendix i. The application of Hastings's ideas led necessarily to the disuse of sailing ships, and the introduction of armour. The incompetence of the Greek government and the corrupt waste of its resources prevented the full application of Hastings's bold and far-seeing plans. But largely by the use of his own money, of which he is said to have spent £7000, he was able to some extent to carry them out. In 1824 he came to England to obtain a steamer, and in 1825 he had fitted out a small steamer named the " Karteria " (Perseverance), manned by Englishmen, Swedes and Greeks, and provided with apparatus for the discharge of shell and hot shot. He did enough to show that if his advice had been vigorously followed the Turks would have been driven off the sea long before the date of the battle of Navarino. The great effect produced by his shells in an attack on the sea-line of communication of the Turkish army, then besieging Athens at Oropus and Volo in March and April 1827, was a clear proof that much more could have been done. Military mismanagement caused the defeat of the Greeks round Athens. But Hastings, in co-operation with General Sir R. Church (q.v.), shifted the scene of the attack to western Greece. Here his destruction of a small Turkish squadron at Salona Bay in the Gulf of Corinth (29th of September 1827) provoked Ibrahim Pasha into the aggressive movements which led to the destruction of his fleet by the allies at Navarino (q.v.) on the 20th of October 1827. On the 25th of May 1828 he was wounded in an attack on Anatolikon, and he died in the harbour of Zante on the 1st of June. General Gordon, who served in the war and wrote its history, says of him: " If ever there was a disinterested and really .useful Philhellene it was Hastings. He received no pay, and had expended most of his slender fortune in keeping the ` Karteria ' afloat for the last six months. His ship, too, was the only one in the Greek navy where regular discipline was maintained." See Thomas Gordon, History of the Greek Revolution (London, 1832); George Finlay, History of the Greek Revolution (Edinburgh, 1861).
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