Abbildungen der Seite

jjJo,os 42, 36 and 28 guns, on their passage from St. Vincent's to Martinico. On the 20th of March, as the French admiral was convoying a number of merchant ships, with four ships of the line and a frigate, he fell in with capt. Cornwallis off Monti Christi, whom Re chased and came up with in the evening. He maintained a running fight with the British ships, of 64, 50, and 44 guns during the whole night. The next morning a general engagement took place, which lasted between two and three hours. The French suffered so that they were obliged to lie by and repair. They then renewed the chase, and continued it during the night. But the appearance of the Ruby man of war of 64 guns, with two British frigates, the following day, changed the

I' sace of affairs. The French were now chased in turn for several hours, as they declined coming to action. They were superior in the size of their ships, and the weight and number of their guns; but as the British had a ship more, the admiral would not risk the loss of any of his convoy, by renewing the engagement.

Sir George Rodney was appointed to the chief command in the West Indies; and had orders to proceed in his way thither, with a strong squadron to the relief of Gibraltar; which had been so closely blockaded by the Spaniards ever since the commencement of hostilities between them and the British, that the garrison was reduced to considerable distress, as well with respect to provisions, as to military and garrison stores. After being a few days at sea, he fell in with a considerable convoy, bound from St. Sebastian to Cadiz, consisting of 15 sail of merchantmen, under the guard of a 64 gun ship, 4 frigates from 26 to 32 guns, and two smaller armed

vessels. vessels. The whole fleet was taken. The capture was17?* exceedingly fortunate, much the greater part of the g. vessels being laden with wheat, flour and other provision, the remainder with bale goods and naval stores.' The admiral sent the former to Gibraltar, the latter to Great Britain. About a week after, he fell in with a Spanish 16. squadron of eleven ships of the line under Don Juan Langara, off Cape St. Vincent. The enemy being much inferior in force, endeavoured to avoid an engagement. On that, Sir George threw out the signal for a general chafe, with orders to engage as the ships came up by rotation, taking at the fame time the lee gage, to prevent the enemy's retreat into their own ports. The engagement was began by the headmost ships about four o'clock in the evening: their fire was returned by the Spaniards with great spirit and resolution. The night was dark, tempestuous and dismal, and the fleet being nearly involved among the shoals of St. Lucar, rendered the aspect more terrible. Early in the action, the Spanish ship San Domingo, of 70 guns and 600 men, blew up, and all on board perished. The action and pursuit continued till two in the morning, when the headmost of the enemy's line struck to Sir George. The Spanish admiral's ship of 80 guns, with three of 7a, were taken and carried safely into port. The San Julian of 70, commanded by the marquis de Medina, was taken; the officers were shifted, and a lieutenant with 70 British seamen put on board; but by running on shore the victors became prisoners. Another ship of the same force was also taken, and afterward totally lost by running upon the breakers. Two more escaped greatly damaged, and two less so into Cadiz.

D d 4 The

j780. The Spanish admiral behaved with the greatest gal* / lantry. He was himself sorely wounded; and before he struck to capt. Macbride, his ship the Phœnix was nearly a wreck. A malignant kind of small pox prevailing on board the Biensaisant, capt. Macbride, that

j humane and brave officer, disdaining to convey infection even to an enemy, and perhaps considering the peculiar terror with which it is regarded by the Spaniards, and the general ill aspect it bears to that people, acquainted Don Langara with the circumstance and his own feelings on the subject; and at the same time offered (that so the danger which would attend shifting the prisoners might be prevented) to trust to the admiral's honor, that neither his officers nor men, amounting to above 700, should in case of separation or otherwise, in any degree interrupt the British seamen sent on board, whether with respect to navigating the ship, or defending her against whatever enemy. The proposal was thankfully embraced, and the conditions strictly adhered to by the Spanish admiral: for though there was no other ship but the Biensaisant in sight, and though the sea and weather were exceeding rough, his people gave every assistance in refitting the Phœnix, and in navigating her to the bay

of Gibraltar.

Sir George having executed his commission at Gib; raltar, proceeded about the middle of February to the West Indies, leaving the bulk of the fleet, together with 1 the Spanish prizes, on their way to Great Britain, under the conduct of admiral Digby. The returning fleet fell in with a considerable French convoy, most of which escaped, only the Prothee of 64 guns and two or threa vessels laden with military stores being taken.

'- The

'The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Don Bernardo'1780* de Galvez, having succeeded in his expedition against the British settlements and forces on the Mississippi, extended his views, and concerted a plan with the governor of the Havannah, in pursuance of which he was to be reinforced early in the present year, by a considerable embarkation from that place. De Galvez, concluding that the expected force was on its passage, embarked all the force he could raise, and proceeded on his expedition under the convoy of some small frigates and other armed yessels. After a continued struggle with adverse and stormy weather, and other impediments for near a month, six ships ran upon a sand bank in the channel of the bay of Mobille, three of which were lost though the crews were saved. The commander had the further mortification, on reviewing his troops, to find, that there were about 800 who had been shipwrecked and had saved only their persons. The greatest part of the whole were naked, and much of the provision, ammunition and artillery, was lost. The Spaniards bore their misfortunes with patience; and instead of shrinking under discouragements, endeavoured to convert their loss into a benefit, by breaking up their wrecked vessels, and framing out of them ladders and other machines necessary for an escalade. Those who had preserved their arms, divided them with such as had none, so as to make them the most useful: and they that still remained unarmed, undertook the laborious service of the army. De Galvez had no reason to repent his perseverance. He was strengthened by the arrival of four armed vessels from the Havannah, with a part of the regiment of Navarre on board. This arrival, with a quantity of ; artillery,

a 780. artillery, stores, and various necessaries, afforded a sudden renovation of vigor and life to every thing. The former troops were speedily reimbarked, and after a fresh en

Pelj' counter with new storms, difficulties and dangers, the zj. whole were landed within three leagues of Mobille. Mr. Durnford, a captain of engineers and lieutenant governor of West Florida, commanded the poor garrison, amounting to 284, including regulars, royalists, artillery men, seamen, 54 inhabitants and 51 armed negroes. On the 12th of March the Spaniards opened their battery, consisting of eight 18, and one 24 pounder.

j,jar By fun set the garrison hung out a white flag; the capi

H* tulation however was not signed till the 14th in the morning, when they surrendered prisoners of war. The surrender appeared inevitable, but was attended with circumstances exceedingly vexatious to the British. Gen. Campbell had marched from Pensacola, (as the Spaniards say) with 1100 regulars and some artillery for their relief, and was accompanied by some Indians. The van of Campbell's force was at no great distance from the Spanish camp, when the fort was capitulating; and the Spaniards used the utmost precaution and expedition, in taking possession of and covering themselves with the works, that they might be secured against an attack. Dt Galvez boasted, that the British forces in the field and garrison were superior in number to his own; and scrupled not to declare openly, that with the smallest activity and vigor in their works, the garrison might have made good their defence until the arrival of the succour. But it seems as though the lieut. governor had not, from the beginning, the smallest idea of any attempt being made for the relies os the place; and accordingly,


« ZurückWeiter »