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{hips led up, but not a shot was returned till they were 1778. near the enemy. The example was followed, or a similar conduct pursued by the fleet in general, as fast as each ship could close up with the French; and notwithstanding their haying been necessarily extended by the chace, they were all soon in battle. As the fleets passed each other very close on the opposite tacks, the cannonade was heavy, and the effect considerable. The action; lasted about three hours. As the French in their usual way, directed their fire principally against the rigging, several of the British ships suffered considerably in theif masts, yards and. fails. The British fire, which was principally levelled at the hulls of the enemy, was not deficient in its effect of another kind, the destruction of the seamen. The action being over for the present, admiral Keppel hauled down the signal for battle, till the ships could recover their stations, or get near enough to support each other on the renewal of the' action. To call them together for that purpose, he immediately made the signal to form the line of battle a-head, which Was considered as commanding the most prompt obedience. Admiral Pallifer was at this moment in his proper station; but quitted it, and passing Keppel to leeward on the contrary tack, while the latter was advancing to the enemy, never came into the line during the rest of the day. Pallifer being totally out of the line, other ships far astern, and five disabled in their rigging, at a, great distance to leeward, the British admiral, about three o'clock in the afternoon, could not collect above twelve ships to renew the engagement. The French observing the exposed situation of the British ships, which had fallen to leeward to repair their

damages,

1778- damages, edged away with an evident intention of cutting them off from the rest of the fleet. Admiral Keppel instandy discerned their design and the danger of the ships, and suddenly wore and stood athwart the van of the enemy, in a diagonal line, for their protection. He also dispatched orders to Sir Robert Harland to form his division at a distance astern of the Victory, to cover the rear and keep the enemy in check, till Palliser should, in obedience to the signal, come with his division into his proper station. The protection of the disabled ships being accomplished, and the French continuing to form their line, ranging up to leeward parallel to the centre division, it became the admiral's immediate object to form his as speedily as possible, in' order to bear down upon them and renew the battle. Seeing Palliser still to windward, he sent capt. Windsor of the Fox frigate, with express orders to him to bear down into his wake; and to tell him, that he only waited for him and his division to renew the attack. This order not producing the desired effect, the admiral threw out the signal for all ships to come into their stations % and again at seven o'clock, being wearied out with fruitless expectation, he made the signal for each.particular ship of Palliser's division to come into her station in the line; but before they had complied with this signal, night put an end to all further operations. From a motive of delicacy, no signal was particularly thrown out to the Formidable, Sir Hugh Palliser's own ship.

The French could have renewed the action during every hour of the afternoon, with apparent advantages, which from the situation of affairs could not possibly have escaped their observation. Their conduct the fol

2 lowing lowing night indicated their indisposition to a renewal of «778* it. Three of their best sailing vessels were stationed at proper distances with lights to divert the attention of the British fleet, and to induce a belief that their whole line still kept its position. During this deception the rest of the fleet withdrew in the most silent manner, without lights or other signals than the throwing up of some rockets; and made the best of their way to Brest, where they arrived the next evening. By day light the French fleet had got at such a distance, that the British admiral concluded, he had not the smallest prospect of coming up with them, and that neither a general nor partial pursuit could answer any beneficial purpose. He therefore left only a proper force to protect the homeward bound trade, and then made the best of his way to Plymouth, as being the nearest port, in order to put the fleet into a proper condition to return in quest of the enemy.

It was observed on the day of action with equal sur- I prise and regret, and by some of the bravest and most experienced British officers, that the French worked and manœuvred their ships, with a degree of seamen-like address and dexterity, which they never before perceived. The event of the day, and the consequent escape of the French fleet were to admiral Keppel intolerably grievous. By his consummate skill, and the most incessant industry, he had gained after four days pursuit of the enemy, one of the sairest opportunities of doing the most signal service to his country, in the most critical exigency, and of raising his own name to the summit of naval renown. He hoped to have made the 27th of July, "a proud day to Great Britain." All these mighty advantages and glorious rewards were unaccountably

177& countably ravished from him, when they appeared within 'his grasp. In Plymouth, the failure of a complete victory was attributed to Sir Hugh Palliscr; whose noncompliance with the admiral's signals has been ascribed by many to the disabled condition of some of the ships in his division.: . .

The admiral, with wonderful temper, and no less prudence, accommodated his conduct to the necessity of his situation, and made the public security and interests the only objects of his direction. He advanced no charge against Palliser. His public letter was shorty general, and barren of information; It stated facts so sar as it went, threw no blame upon any body, and commended the bravery of the officers in general, and of Sir Robert Harland and Sir Hugh Palliser in particular. But this approbation is to be applied only, to the particular circumstances and immediate time of the action: the subsequent transactions of the afternoon, were in general thrown into the shade; and the Causes that prevented a renewal of the engagement left in such obscurity, as has drawn no small share of censure upon Keppel himself* - ,

The French fleet returned to Brest considerably damaged in their hulls; but glorying in an action^ wherein they had engaged an equal number of British ships without the loss of a single vessel, as though they had gained a victory. It will be some time before they are fully repaired, through a scarcity of the necessary means.

The Americans have many friends in Holland, who

•will be ready to assist them when an opportunity offers ^

jaut not a h. mode de Paris. They have not the fame

, inducements with the French to venture on a war with

. '. . Britain, Britain, in savor of the independence of your United *77** States. Dutch policy will keep them from it> that they may enjoy the sweets of a neutrality while others are fighting. They may supply you with a loan -, but they will not draw the sword in your behalf. Nothing will bring them to this, unless Britain should add to their long catalogue of political errors, that of compelling them to it.

L E T TER V.

Roxbury, Nov. 12, 1778*

Lieutenant colonel Ethan Allen was at length ex* changed; and congress granted him a brevet com-May mission of colonel, in reward of his fortitude and zeal in '+* the cause of his country. • ,

General Sullivan being sent to command at Providence, gen. Pigot who was at Newport, inferred that there was a design of attacking Rhode Island whenever an opportunity offered: the latter therefore concluded upon an expedition that might delay or frustrate the event. Lieut. col. Campbell, with about 500 British and Hessians, was sent off in the night of the 24th, passed up the river, and landed from the ships, tenders and boats, before day, between Warren and Poppafquashpoint, At day light they marched in twa bodies, one^ 25,

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