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became an hospital through the many thousands of sick 1779that were landed. It was a most happy circumstance for the British merchants, that a large Jamaica fleet escaped and got into the channel about ten days before he first entered it; and that eight homeward bound East Indiarnen had timely notice of their danger, so as to' have the opportunity of putting into Ireland.
In the beginning of September, adm. Barrington arrived with dispatches, giving an account of the taking of the isles of St. Vincent and Grenada, and of an action between adm. Byron and count d'Estaing. The count sailed for Grenada, and arrived off the island with 2. a fleet of five or six and twenty ships of the line, about 12 frigates, and near 10,000 land forces, including marines. The defence of the place lay in about 150 soldiers and 350 militia, 200 volunteers, with some seamen; and its strength consisted in a fortified and intrenched hill, which commanded the fort, harbour, and' capital town of St. George. The French landed between 1 and 3000 regulars, under count Dillon, the same evening; and the next day invested the hill, and made the necessary preparations for carrying it by storm' the following night, as they would lose no time, lest' adm. Byron's fleet might arrive. The defence was obstinate, considering the force on each side. Although d'Estaing headed a column of the assailants in person, they were repulsed in the first onset; but their superior numbers at length prevailed, and the lines were carried after a conflict of about an hour and a half; the loss of the French however in killed and wounded was considerable. The cannon taken on the top of the hill, being turned at break of day against the fort, the governor,
U 3 . lord
* 779-lord Macartney, was under the necessity of proposing a capitulation, D'Estaing granted him but an hour for framing the articles, which when presented, were rejected in the gross. The count proposed others so extraordinary, that his lordship and the principal inhabitants thought it better to trust to the law and custom of nations, and to the justice of one court, and the interposition of the other, by surrendering at discretion, than to bind themselves to such unexampled conditions. His lordship, in expectation that the fortified hill was next to impregnable, had carried thither his plate, jewels, and most valuable effects, and his principal officers had followed his example *. The count is charged with having exercised great severity and oppression; and it i» said, that his soldiers were indulged in such unbridled licence, that the condition of the inhabitants would have been deplorable beyond description, but for the humanity and tenderness of the officers and privates of Dillon's Irish regiment.
Meanwhile, adm, Byron had returned to St. Lucie, from convoying the West India fleet; but weakened through the ships he had sent with the trade to Great Britain. He there received intelligence of the loss of St. Vincent; and immediately concluded with gen. Grant to proceed with the land and naval forces for its recovery. On their passage, they received information that d'Estaing had attacked Grenada, without- being acquainted with de la Motte Piquet's having joined him. They changed their intention, and steered for the relief of Grenada,
*- The Paris account of the taking of Grenada.
The British commanders arrived within fight of the !779,
July French fleet at break of day. Their force consisted of 6.
21 ships of the line and a single frigate. They were embarrassed by the somewhat greater number of transports which conveyed the troops. The French having received previous information of the approach of the British fleet, were then mostly getting under way, and those ships which had not already hoisted their anchors,, flipt their cables, and kept stretching out to sea. The objects of the hostile commanders were totally different. The British admiral's wanted to bring the enemy to close action in hopes of conquest and of saving Grenada. D'Estaing sought for no further advantage than the preservation of his new acquisition, which to him was a sufficient victory. His ships being cleaner, and consequently sailing better than the British, he chose a partial action, rather than be exposed to the doubtful issue of a desperate conflict. The first signal made by Byron was for a general chace; and the second, for the ships to engage and form as they could get up. By eight o'clock the action was commenced by adm. Barrington in the Prince of Wales, with the capts. Sawyer and Gardner in the Boyne and Sultan, they having closed with the van of the enemy. Being obliged to endure the whole weight of fire from that division, for a considerable time before they could be supported, they suffered accordingly; beside the damage of the ships and the loss of anen, the admiral was himself wounded. The French eluded every effort made by the British commanders to bring on a close and decisive engagement. When the evolutions on both sides, and the eagerness on one, threw a few of the British ships into a situation, which obliged
U 4 them
177g. them to endure a conflict with a much greater number of the enemy, a close engagement ensued. Thus the Grafton, the Cornwall, and the Lion, sustained the whole fire of the French fleet. The Monmouth attempting singly to arrest the progress of the enemy's van, hoping thereby to bring on a general action, but sailing, was reduced almost to a wreck. The Suffolk, adm. Rowley, with the Fame, suffered also considerably in similar situations.
The action ceased about twelve o'clock; but although renewed at two, and at other times, in a degree, during the evening, yet nothing essential was effected. During the heat of it, some British ships pushing their way to the very entrance of the harbour of St. George's, beheld French colours on the fort, and were fired at by the batteries, , The object of the British commanders was therefore totally changed. The relief of the island was at an end. The protection of the transports, along with that of the disabled ships, was now the main point to be considered. Three of the disabled ships were a great way astern: the Lion was obliged to bear away singly, in the best manner she could, before the wind. That and the other two might seemingly have been cut off by the French; but d'Estaing would not risk the bringing on of a decisive action by attempting their capture. In the evening, the Monmouth and the transports were ordered to make the best of their way to Antigua or St, Kitts. Byron drew up his line, reduced now to 19 ships, about three miles distant from d'Estaing, and expected to be attacked in the mornjng; but during the night, the count returned to Grenada. The loss of men in the British fleet was moderate i
the other circumstances of the action however, were ex- 1779* ceeding grievous; for the great damage sustained by the ships, in their masts and rigging, which could not be easily remedied in' that quarter, afforded an astonishing superiority of force to the French,' which while it continues, will render it impossible for the British longer to dispute the empire of the sea with them in the West Indies. All accounts concur in describing the French loss of men in the action as prodigious. The published' number of officers killed and wounded, both in the * naval and land departments, is considerable. The other must be in. a great degree conjectural. . .-:
The latter end of July, there sailed from Port 1'Orientthe Bon Homme Richard, of 40 guns and 375 men/ commanded by capt. Paul Jones, the Alliance of 36 guns, the Pallas a French frigate of 32, the Vengeance' an armed brig of 12, together with a cutter: Jonesacted as commodore to the squadron. He steered for the Western coast of Ireland, and appeared off Kerry. From thence he ranged round the north of Scotland,till he came off Forth Frith on .September the 19th;: when he directed his course to Flamborough Head. S Being off the Head, he fell in with the fleet from the 23. Baltic, under the protection of the Serapis, capt. Pearson, and the Countess of Scarborough, capt. Piercy. Before noon, capt. Pearson received intelligence from the bailiffs of Scarborough, of the squadron under Jones being on the coast. Between twelve and one the headmost of the fleet got sight of it, when the Serapis made all the fail she could to get between the enemy and the convoy, which she soon effected. Capt. Pearson, by four o'clock, plainly discerning,£rom the deck, that the