« ZurückWeiter »
number and richness of the prizes, gave up all views upon the Jamaica fleet, and returned immediately to Brest, by which mean he escaped falling in with the British 'squadron. We have learned that the sale of the prizes was advertised in France for the 10th of July last.' · On the 25th of August, another French frigate arrived in Boston, with two large vessels under her convoy: They were on their passage 36 days longer than the frigate which arrived on the 15th. They have brought cloathing, military stores, and a quantity of specie.' Colonei Laurens returned by this conveyánce. He reached France by the middle of March, and executed his commission with great dispatch and success.
L E T T E R IX. . ..
. Rotterdam, October 13, 1781. . . FRIEND G. . . .
. COMMODORE Johnstone's squadron, which sailed for the
East-Indies,consisted of a 74, a64, and three 50 gun ships, beside several frigates, a bomb vessel, fire-ship, and some sloops of war. A land force, commanded by gen. Meadows, and composed of 3 new regiments of 1000 each, accompanied it. Several outward bound East-Indiamen and store or ordnance vessels, went out with this convoy; and the whole fleet, including transports and armed ships, amounted to more than forty sail. The Dutch war undoubtedly occasioned a change of the object of the armament, and the substitution of an attempt upon the Cape of Good-Hope instead of an enterprise against the Spaniards in South-America. This change did not escape the penetration of France and Holland. The latter therefore applied to her new ally for assistance to ward off the danger to which all her EastIndia possessions would be exposed if Johnstone succeded. On that a squadron of five ships of the line and some frigates, with a body of land forces, were destined to this service, under Mr. de Suffrein, who sailed from Brest in company with count de Grasse. The naval part of the armament was ultimately designed to oppose the British feet in the East-Indies; but Suffrein's particular in. Structions were to pursue and counteract Johnstone upon every occasion and in every possible manner, keeping at the same time a constant eye to the effectual protection of the Cape. The court of Versailles was accurately inforined of Johnstone's force, and of all the circumstances attending the convoy; and might not be totally ignorant of his course, any more than of his destination.,
Commodore Johnstone put into the Cape de Verd islands for water and fresh provisions. There being no particular apprehension of an enemy, the ships lay without much care or order, in: an open harbor belonging to the principal town of St. Jago, the most considerable of the islands. A great number of the crews were absent from the ships, and were engaged in various occupatons, necessary. to the preparation or supply of so many vessels for so long a voyage. Several officers and men were on shore par, taking of the health and recreation of the island. In this unpre. pared state, the Isis man of war discovered in the morning of April 16, a squadron approaching the entrance of the harbor, which was soon judged to be French. Signals were instantly thrown out for unmooring, for recalling the people on shore, and preparing for action. The British fleet was taken at a great disadvantage. Mr de Suffrein, leaving his convoy, was soon in the centre of it; the French ships firing on both sides as they passed. The French Hannibal of 74 guns led the way with great intrepidity, under the command of Mr. de Tremuingnon. When as near to the British as he could fetch, he dropped his anchor with a noble air. of resolution. The Heros of the same force, Mr. de Suffrein's own ship, took the next place; and Artesien of 64, anchored a-stern of the Heros. The Vengeur and Sphynx, of 64 guns .each, ranged up and down as they could through the crowd of ships, and fired on either side at every one they passed. Commodore Johostonc's own ship, being too far advanced toward the bottoni of the bay, and too much intercepted by the vessels that lay between to take an active part in the action, he quitted her and went on board another. The engagement lasted about an hour and a half. Some time after it began, several of the East India.ships fired with good effect on the French. In about an hour the situation of the French ships at anchor became too intolerable to be endured; and the captain of the Artesian being killed, she cut ber cable, and made the best of her way out. Suffrein, deserted by his second astern, found the danger so great that he followed the example. The Hannibal was now left alone to be fired at by every ship whose guns could be brought to bear on her, while
she herself was so injured, that her returns were slow and inef• fective. She lost her bowsprit and all her masts, and remained a
mere. hulk upon die water. She however joined the other ships - at the mouth of the bay; was towed off and assisted in erecting I... VOL. Iu.
jury-masts. The commodore pursued, but the damage sustained: b.y the Isis, the nature of the winds and currents, with the lateness of the day, concurred in preventing his renewing the engagement. The French bore away no trophy of the action. Considering the closeness of it, the smoothness of the water, with the number and crouded situation of the shipping, the loss of men was very small,
May 2, the British fleet sailed from St. Jago, and toward the middle of June, the commodore dispatched captain Pigot, with some of the best sailing frigates and cutters, toward the southern extremity of Africa, to gain intelligence if possible of the state of the enemy in that quarter, with instructions to rejoin him at a given point of latitude and longitude. Pigot fell in with and took: a large Datch East-India ship, from Saldanha-bay near the Cape... She was laden with stores and provisions, had on board 40,000). in bullion, and was bound for the island of Ceylon. From her the commodore learned that Suffrein, with five ships of theline, most of his transports, and a censiderable body of troops, had.arrived at the cape on the 21st of June ; and that several homeward.bound Dutch East-India ships were then at anchor in Saldanha-bay,.about 14 leagues to the northward of the Cape-town and fort. The timely arrival of the French squadrou having frustrated the designs of the British against the Cape, Johnstone determined to profit by what was yet within reach, and to attempt possessing himself of the Dutch ships in the bay of Saldanha. The scheme was well conducted. The Dutch had hardly time, from the discovery of the coming up of the British ships, to loose their vessels, cut their cables, and run them on shore. The men of war's boats.. being instantly manned, the seamen with great alacrity boarded the Indiamen already set on fire, extinguished the flames, and saved four large ones, from 1000. to 1100 tons each. Johnstone's dispatches were dated the 21st of August.
Several of the English counties associated and chose delegates, to give support and efficacy to the subject of their former petitionsto parliament. About 40 of the delegates inet in London. As acting for their constituents they prepared a petition to the house of commons, in which the substance of those already presented being compressed within a narrower compass, the matters of griev. ance and the redress proposed were brought forward in one clear point of view. But to obviate difficulties and prevent objections they signed the petition merely as individual freeholders, without any assumption or avowal of their delegated powers or character. The petition was presented by Mr. Duncombe, one of the representatives of the county of York, and continued for some week3: on the table, till the recoyery of Sir George Saville, who was to
proceed with the business. Sir George [8th] introduced his motion for referring the petition (after the first reading) to a.committee, with a speech of very considerable length. After a long debate, the motion for committing the petition was overruled by à majority of 160 to 86.
The war with the Dutch made it necessary for the British to have a force, in the North Seas, capable of injuring their commérce on that side on the one hand, and of protecting their own on the other.; as also of cutting off the Dutch from receiving supplies of naval stores wherewith to restore their marine. This iniportant service was intrusted to the conduct of , admiral Hyde Parker. The admiral sailed from Portsmouth the beginning of June, with four ships of the line, and a fifty gun ship for the North Seas. Mcan while Holland strained every nerve for the equipment of a force, that might be able to convoy their outward hound trade to the Baltic, and to protect its return, if not to intercept the British, and become nasters of those:seas. Some days after the middle of July, admiral Zoutmon and commodore Kindsbergen sailed from the Texel, with a great convoy under their protection. Their force consisted of eight ships of the line from 54 to 74 guns, of 10 frigates and 5. sloops. Several of the
frigates were very largc. Admiral Parker was on his return * with a large convoy from Elsineur. He had been joined by sever
al frigates since his leaving Portsmouth, and by the Dolphin of 44 guns, and in this crisis he was reinforced by a 74. His fleet consisted of an 80 gun ship, two 74?s, a 64, a 60, a 5.0, a 44, a 40, a 38, a 36, a 32, and a cutter of 10 guas. ...The hostile fleets came in sight of each other on the Dogger- . Bank early in the morning of the 5th of August. One of the Dutch
line of battle. ships had returned to port; but as a forty-four gun - ship was substituted in her place, their line still consisted of eight two deckers. The British commander perceiving the number and.
strength of the Dutch frigates, detached the convoy with orders * to keep their wind, sending his own frigates along with them for
their protection, and then threw out a general signal to the squad.
ron to chase. The Dutch likewise sent off their convoy to a ..distance, when they drew up with great coolness in order of bat
tle, and waited the attack with the utmost composure.--Neither side practised any manœuvre to elude the decision of a navalaction,
The parties were equally determined to fight it out. A gloomy • silence expressive of the most fixed resolution prevailed, and not
a gun was fired, until the fleets were within little more than pis
tol shot distance, Admiral Parker in the Fortitude of 74 guns, * ranging abreast of adiniral Zoutmon's ship, the adiniral de Ruy
ter of 68, the action commenced with the utmost fury and vios i lence on both sides. The cannonade continued without inter: mission for three hours and forty minutes. Some of the British ships fired 2500 shot each. The effect of the ancient naval emu.. lation was eminently displayed in the obstinacy of the battle. 3 In the beginning the British fire was renarkably quick, while that of the Dutch was slow; when it closed, the case was reversed, and the fire of the Dutch was remarkably quick, while that of the British was slow. The British ships at length were so unmanagable, that though their admiral made an effort to form the line that he might renew the action, he found it to be im, practicable. His ships were shattered in their masts, rigging and sails. The Dutch were in a still worse condition, some of them.” having received several shot under water. Both squadrons lay": to a considerable time near each other. At last the Dutch bore. away for the Texel, and the British were in no condition to fol-, low them. The Hollandia, of 68 guns, one of their best ships, 1 went down in the night of the engagement, so suddenly that the crew were reduced to the melancholy necessity of abandoning their wounded when they quitted her. Though she sunk in. 22 fathoms, her top-masts were still above water, and her penda ant flying, which being discovered in the morning by one of the British frigates, was struck and carried to admiral Parkér as a trophy. When the Dutch entered the Texel, an officer of the fleet went on board the Charleston frigate, of 36 heavy guns upon one deck, which had been lying there the whole time, and related to the captain the particulars of the action. .
The action was very bloody. On the side of the British, who - 3 were the least sufferers in that respect, 104 were killed, and 339, wounded in the seven ships that were engaged. Several brave offi- 7 cers fell on both sides. The British regretted much the death of capt. Macartney, who left a widow and large family. His son, a, boy of seven years old, was by his side when he was killed; his for titude, as well upon that occasion as through the whole action, astonished the boldest seamen in the ship. Mr. Harrington, one of admiral Parker's lieutenants, an officer of 40 years service, and of the most distinguished merit, was mortally wounded. Though: of an affluent fortune, and too much neglected, he nobly disdain- . ed to withdraw his professional abilities from the defence of his . country in this trying season. The British admiral's letter, gives. ing an account of the action, was concise, and modest with respect to his own side, while just in paying full honor to the valor : of his enemy. In Britain the conduct and valor displayed in the action, met with great and general approbation; but an appre