Admiral Sir [William] Sidney Smith (1764-1840) was one of the most colourful naval personalities of the Napoleonic era who, having distinguished himself early on at the 'Moonlight' battle of Cape St. Vincent (1780) and the battle of the Saintes (1782), was then made a post-captain at the exceptionally young age of 18. After a period in the Baltic (1789-91) as maritime adviser to King Gustavus III of Sweden, he became known as 'the Swedish Knight' to his contemporaries, most of whom disliked him. After the controversial evacuation of Toulon in 1793, where Smith failed to destroy as many French ships as he was bidden, he was captured in 1796 and imprisoned for two years before being able to escape. Sent to the Mediterranean, his brilliantly successful amphibious operations at Acre in 1799, where he was engaged directly against Napoleon, made his reputation but his later career was somewhat marred by controversy, indiscretion and a general unwillingness to submit to discipline. Nevertheless, he continued to be promoted to senior rank and, by the time he died, he was both an Admiral of the Red as well as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (G.C.B., 1838).
Vice-Admiral Thomas Pringle joined the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1760, saw his first action in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and was successively promoted Commander and Captain in 1776, just as the American War of Independence was getting under way. After participating in the so-called Lake Campaign of October 1776, Pringle went on to serve in the West Indies and was in command of H.M.S. Ariadne at the Anglo-French engagement off Grenada on 6th July 1779. When the French Revolutionary War began in 1793, Pringle was given command of the 74-gun Valiant and so distinguished himself at the 'Glorious 1st of June' (1794) that he was promoted Rear-Admiral as a reward. After serving with Jervis at the blockade of the Texel in 1796, he was then sent to the Cape of Good Hope as second-in-command, succeeding to the command of the squadron soon afterwards. Made Vice-Admiral of the White in 1799 and further promoted to the Red in 1801, Pringle died in December 1803.