« ZurückWeiter »
Both fleets were equally involved in a gale of wind while 111i* on their passage. The French were greatly dispersed, which probably saved the British convoy from the danger of encountering an unequal force, steering unknown to the commodore the like course with himself. The relative situation of the fleets was a secret to both commanders: but they were so near on the 28th of November, that a British brigantine with four horses, fell into the hands of d'Estaing. The commodore's fleet was the most numerous; but he had the skill and happiness of keeping them together during the gale, and of getting the start of the count, so as to arrive without any other loss than of the brig at Barbadoes, where he joined adm. Barrington on the 10th of December. I0*
An expedition for the reduction of St. Lucie, was immediately undertaken without suffering the troops to land. Within two days they sailed for the island; and the reserve of the army, consisting of the 5th regiment, with the grenadiers and light infantry of the whole, under general Meadows, landed at the grand Cul de Sac on the 13th in.the evening1. That officer immediately 13. pushed forward with his detachment, to the heights on the north fide of the bay, which were occupied by the French commandant with the regular forces and militia. These posts he soon forced. While this was doing, gen. Prescot landed with five regiments, with which he guarded the environs'of the bay, and pushed on advanced posts, so as to preserve a communication during the night with the reserve. When morning appeared, the reserve, supported by Prescot, advanced and took possession of the small capital of Mome Fortune. The chevalier de Micoud made what defence he was able,
R a but
1778. but was compelled, by the superiority of force, to retire from one post to another, as the British pressed forward. Prefcot took possession of the batteries and posts in the rear of the reserve as they advanced. Meadows pushed forward under the heat of a burning fun, and possessed himself of the Viergie,- which commanded the north side of the Careenage harbour; and Sir Henry Calder, with the four remaining battalions, guarded the landingplace, kept up the communication with the fleet, and sent detachments to occupy several posts on the mountains, which looked down upon and commanded the south side of the grand Gul de Sac.
The last French flag on those posts, which were in sight among the neighbouring hills, was scarcely struck, when count d'Estaing appeared in view of the fleet and army with a prodigious force. Beside his original squadron of twelve ships of the line, he was accompanied by a numerous fleet of frigates, privateers, and transports, witli a land force estimated at 9000 men.- The count intended the reduction of Barbadoes, the Grenades, and St. Vincents. In his way to the first, where he expected to have found Barrington with only two line of battle ships and a few frigates, he received intelligence of the attack on St. Lucie, which he might consider as a circumstance that seemed to throw the whole British force by sea and land, an easy prey into his hands. 1st all human probability, this must have been the inevi-* table event, had he arrived twenty-four hours sooner: but the day being sar advanced, he deferred his operations till the ensuing morning. During the night, adm. Barrington exerted all his powers in getting the transports warped into the bottom of the bay, to be as remote mote from danger as possible, and the ships of war'778' brought into their respective stations, so as to form a line effectually to cover its entrance; which was still further secured by a battery on the southern, and another on the northern opposite points of land. His force consisted of a 74, a 70, two 64, and two 50 gun ships, Dec. beside three frigates. In the morning, the count stood l5* in with his whole fleet for the Careenage, apprehending that the British had not possession of that part of the island. A well directed fire, which his own ship received from one of those batteries that had so lately changed masters, convinced him of his mistake, and made him bear away with his fleet and transports. , He was apparently disconcerted and at a loss how to act; but after much hesitation, bore down with ten sail of the line upon the British squadron, just before noon. He met with so warm a reception from the ships and batteries, that after a while he drew off. About four o'clock, he made a fresh attack with twelve ships of the line; which was better supported and longer continued than the first. The French cannonade was concentrated within a narrower direction, and was heavier than before; but this effort was not more effectual than the former. The count's fleet fell into evident confusion, and retired from action with great loss. On the following day he plied to the windward, and anchored in the evening off Gross Islet, about two leagues to the northward. The night and the next morning he spent in landing his troops in Choc bay, between Gross Islet and the Careen-. age. The same time was employed by the British admiral in preparing for every possible future event.
'778' General Meadows with the reserve, was nearly shut.. up in the peninsula of the Viergie; for by his distance and situation, as well as the decided superiority of the enemy, he was totally cut off from the support of the main body, any further than what might be derived from those batteries commanding the land approaches to the Viergie, which that possessed. The good effect of those positions, which had been taken by the British on their first landing, became now apparent to both armies. The . chagrin and disappointment of the French was great, when after landing they discovered that Sir H. Calder's brigade was in possession of the mountains on the south side of the grand Cul de Sac: for the bombarding of the British fleet from those heights was one great object they had in view; which, from the strong positions taken by that brigade, was unattainable without a general engagement by sea and land, the issue of which the French were not as yet for trying. They determined upon diP resting their first effort separately against Meadows. For ;8. this purpose, about 5000 of their best troops were drawn out, and advanced in three columns to attack the British lines, reaching across the Isthmus, which joins the Peninsula to the Continent. The right was led by count d'Estaing, the centre by Mr. Lovendahl, and the left by the marquis d'Bouille. The remainder of their troops were kept disengaged to watch the motions of Prescot's brigade, and to check any attempt to succour Meadows. On the near approach of the columns, they were enfiladed with great effect by the aforementioned batteries; however, they rushed on to the charge with great impetuosity, supported the conflict with much resolution, and suffered considerably before they were en1 tirely
tirely repulsed. As soon as they had recovered their 177s? breath and order, they renewed the attack with the fame eagerness as before; and were encountered with the fame determined resolution. Though they suffered severely in these two attacks, they again rallied, and returned to the charge the third time. The affair was now soon decided. They were totally broken, and obliged to retire in the utmost confusion, leaving their dead and wounded in the power of the victors. Gen. Meadows was wounded in the beginning of the action, but would not quit the field, nor have the assistance of the surgeons, till the matter was decided. The French while employing their troops by land, attempted a diversion by sea, which had so little effect as to deserve no further notice. Their loss was 400 killed upon the spot, 500 desperately wounded so as to be incapable of service, and 600 more slightly wounded; the whole amounting to a number , considerably superior to those whom they had encountered.
Count d'Estaing continued ten days longer on the ifland without making further attempts, and then relinquished a contest which had only manifested the courage of the1 French, without yielding any profit. He embarked his troops on the night of the 28th, and on the following day abandoned the isiand to its destiny. He was not out of sight, when the chevalier de Micoud, with the principal inhabitants, offered to capitulate, and had favorable conditions granted them, which were signed on the 30th. Admiral Byron arrived off St. Lucie the 6th of January.
When the late law in favor of the English Roman, 1779. Catholics was passed, a design was formed of extending