« ZurückWeiter »
and proceeded to their several stations. Between nine and fefr they came to an anchor, in a line from the Old to the NewMole, parallel to thf rock, and from 1000 to 1200 yards distant. The admiral's ship was stationed opposite the king's bastion; and the others took their appointed places, successively and with great regularity, to the'right and left of the admiral. The surrounding hills were covered with people, as though all Spain had assembled to behold the spectacle.
The cannonade and bombardment, on all sides and in all diw rections, from the isthmus, the sea and the various works of the fortress, was tremendously magnificent beyond description. The prodigious showers of red hot balls, of bombs and of carcasses, which filled the air, and were without intermission thrown from the garrison to every point of the various attacks, both by set and land, astonished the commanders of the allied forces, who could not conceive how gen. Elliot had been able to construct and manage such a multitude of furnaces as they deemed necessary for the heating of the quantity of stiot thrown. The number of red hot balls which only the battering ships received in the course of the day, was estimated at not less than 4000. The peninsula seemed at the same time to be overwhelmedii the torrents of fire incessantly poured upon it.
The battering ships were so well constructed for withstanding the combined powers of fire and artillery, that for several houis the continued showers of shells and hot shot with which they were assailed, were not capable of making any visible impression upon them. But about two o'clock the admiral's ship was observed to smoke. The fire, though kept under during the daylight, could notbe thoroughly subdued. After a time, the print* of Nassau's ship was discovered to be in the same condition. The disorder that took place in these two commanding ships, affected the whole line of attack; and by the evening the fire from the fortress had gained a decided superiority. This fire was continued with equal vigor through the night; and by one in tlfc morning the two first ships were in flames, and several othefs visibly on fire. Continual signals to the Meet, were sufficiently expressive of their extreme distress and danger. All meatis were used by the fleet to afford assistance; but as it was judged impossible to remove the battering ships, their endeavors were only directed to the bringing off the men. A great number oi boats were accordingly employed, and much intrepidity was displayed in the attempts for this purpose.
Capt. Curtis, to complete the general confusion and destruction, manned his twelve gun-boats with his marine brigade, and
• • drew
drew them up in such a manner as to flank the line of battering ships. Each of his boats carried a 24 or 18 pounder, and byits> low fire and fixed aim, was not a little formidable. The battering ships were soon overwhelmed by the incessant fire from the garrison, and by that of the British gun-boats, raking the whole extent of their line. The scene was now wrought up to the highest point of calamity. The Spanish boats no longer dared to approach; but were compelled to abandon their ships andE friends to.the.flames, or to the mercy and humanity of a heateel enemy. Several of their boataand launcheshad been sunk before they submitted to this necessity. The day-light at length appearing, two Spanish feluccas, which had not escaped with the /others, attempted to get out of the danger; but a shot from a gun-boat having killed several men onboard one of them, botli jsere glad to surrender.
■ The horrors of the night were terrible ; but* the opening of the day disclosed a spectacle still more painful. Numbers of men were seen in the midst of the flames crying out for pity and'help.;. others floating on pieces of timber, exposed to equal dangerfrom, the opposite element Those in. the ships where the- fire had made a. less.progress, expressed in their looks,, gestures and words, the deepest distress and despair; and were equally uiv gent in imploring assistance- The fire both from the garrison .and gun-boats instantly ceased ;. and every danger was encountered by captain Curtis and his marine brigade, in endeavoring* to rescue the distressed enemy from surrounding destruction. In these efforts the boats were exposed to the peril arising from, the continual discharge, on all sides, of the artillery,, as the guns. became heated to a certain degree, and from the blowing up of the battering ships as the fire reached their magazines. A more striking instance of the ardor and boldness with which the marine brigade acted, needs not. be given, than, that of an officec and 29 privates (all severely wounded) being dragged out from among the slain in the holds of the burning vessels, most of whom recovered in the hospital at Gibraltar. • Captain Curtis was repeatedly in the most imminent danger ;, particularly so when his pinnace was close to'one of the largest ships at the time she blew up : while every object was for a considerable while buried in a thick cloud of smoke, gen. Elliot ancf the garrison suffered the most poignant distress, considering the fate of their friend as inevitable. Thirteen officers and 344.me/* were saved by the exertions of the brigade. It was happy, that the greater part of the troops and seamen had been removed be~ ■ fore captain Curtis could make his attack with, the gun-boats. It . . 1 i1?
is thought however that the enemy lost 1500 men, prisoners an4 Wounded included in their attack by sea.
Admiral Don Moreno left his flag flying when he abandoned his ship, in which state it continued, till it was consumed ot blown up with the vessel. Eight more ships blew up successively in the course of the day. The tenth Was burnt by the British, there being no possibility of preserving her for service. Thft loss sustained by the allies on the isthmus during the attack cannot be ascertained. The loss of the garrison was nearly toni fined to the artillery corps and the marine brigade. From the 9th of August to the nth of October, the whole number of non-commissioned officers and private men slain, amounted to €5 only, the wounded were 383, beside 12 commissioned officers:
Such was the signal and complete defensive victory, obtained by a comparatively handful of brave men, over the combined land and naval efforts of two great and powerful nations, who for the attainment of a favorite object, exceeded all former example, as well in the magnitude, as in the formidable nature of their preparations.
The allies were now compelled to rest theirhopes of recovering Gibraltar, on the reduction of the garrison to a surrender, through the mere failure of ammunition and provisions. But this was not to be effected, unless they could defeat Lord Howe, oi' at least prevent his throwing in the intended relief. Mean while his lordship met with much delay, through winds and weather, on his way to Gibraltar; which was rendered exceedingly irksome, by the anxiety that prevailed relative to the fortress, under a knowledge of the menaced attack. This anxiety wa; not removed till the fleet had arrived near the scene of action, when advice was also received, that the united fleets, consisting of fifty sail of three and two deckers, had taken their station in the Bay of Gibraltar.
At this critical point of time, a violent gale of wind in the Straits, threw the combined fleets into the greatest disorder, and exposed them to no small danger. It happened in the night of October the 10th ; and during the storm a frigate and one ship of the line were driven ashore, a set ond lost her foremast and bowsprit, two more were driven out of the bay to the eastward, and many others suffered more or less damage. The St. Michael, a fine Spanish ship of 72 guns, was driven under the works of Gibraltar, where she run a-ground, and was taken by the boats of the garrison. Her commander, with 650 seamen and soldiers, became prisoners of war. The allies discovering the fate of the St Michael., threw a numbe* of shells in hope of destroying her as
she lay ashove. The British however got her off in three or four Jays, without her having suffered any essential damage. f. On the morning ,[l 1th.] that succeeded the storm, the British; fleet entered the Straits, in a close line of battle a-head ; and about an hour after night, the van arriving off the Bay of Gibraltar, an opportunity was afforded to the store-ships of reaching; iheJr destined anchorage without any molestation from the ene. my; but for. want of timely attention to the circumstances of the navigation, pointed out in the instructions communicated to the captains, only four of the 31 sail which accompanied the fleet effected their purpose. The rest having missed the Bay, were driven through the Straits into the Mediterranean during the night, and were no small encumbrance to the fleet in its subsequent operations.
While lord Howe was ^collecting his convoy in the Mediterranean, and preparing to escort them hack to Gibraltar, the enemy were under no small anxiety for the two line of battle ships, Which had been driven into the Mediterranean on the night of the storm. To recover these, and in hope of intercepting, or preventing the return of the store-ships, the combined fleet sailed from Algeziras oil the 13th.
The British fleet was abreast of Fungarola, a large port town fcwtween Malaga and Gibraltar, when advice was received of the approach of the enemy. While, upon this intelligence, the fleet was closing and forming a line of battle, the BuftLlo of 60 guns was detached with those store-ships which had been collected, U> the Zefarine islands, lying on the eoast of Burbary, about sixty leagues above Gibraltar. The Panther, of the same force, being; left in the Bay of Gibraltar for the protection of the store-ships as they arrived, lord Howe's force now amounted only to 31 sail ftf the line.
Near sun-set the combined fleets were descried in great force ■at about six leagues distance, in line of battle with a strong wind full in their favor, and bearing directly down upon the British fleet. They amounted to 64 sail, about 42 appeared to be of the line, including several large three deckers. By day-light the next morning, they were perceived close in with the land, and at such a distance as not to be visible from the deck. During their movements they had recovered the two missing ships.
In the morning it was discovered, that several transports had not proceeded with the Buffalo, and that others had joined lord Howe in the night. Upon this account, the wind becoming faTorable, the fleet proceeded in order of battle toward the Straits, and passed eighteen of the convoy safe to Gibraltar-Bay. By the Vol. III. T t 18th,
18th, the vessels under the care of the Buffalo rejoined the fleet and were sent in. The two regiments on board the ships of wat and frigates were landed ; and the scarcity of ammunition in the garrison was removed by a supply of 1500 barrels from the fleet. Gibraltar being now fully relieved, lord Howe concluded on taking immediate advantage of the easterly wind, which had prevailed a few days, for returning through the Straits to the westward: When he was in the entrance of the gut, and enclosed between the opposite points of Europa and Ceuta, the combined fleets appeared at no great distance to the north-east, at the break df day on the 19th. They followed his lordship, and the next morning [ 20th. ] were perceived at about five leagues distance to the windward. The British formed in order of battle to leeward. At sunset the enemy began a canon'ade on the van and rear of Howe's fleet; but generally at such a distance as to produce little effect; Perceiving however a part of his rear much separated from the rest, they made a bolder attempt upon that division. The French and Spanish admirals led the attack upon the separated ships, which, reserving themselves till they were within a near distanca -threw in so well-timed, heavy and admirably directed a fire upon them, that the enemy were soon in evident confusion, hauled their wind and gave up the object entirely.
The distant fire of the combined fleets did much damage to the yards and rigging of several British ships: the number of men and officers killed and wounded amounted to 265 ; a trifling loss compared with the importance of the service in which lord Howe had been engaged. His lordship having effected the business on which he was dispatched, and the combined fleets being at a considerable distance in the morning, apparently on their return t« Cadiz, he proceeded on his way home ; but while doing it he detached eight ships of the line to the West-Indies, and six to the coasts of Ireland.
The existence of these events did not interrupt the necociationsfor peace, carrying on at Paris. These were rather forwarded by it; as the belligerent powers were brought into a nearer equality of circumstances for treating with each other.
Mr. Jay, in consequence of his being appointed by congress one of the commissioners to treat for peace with Great-Britain, left Madrid and repaired to Paris. He and Dr. Franklin were received by the Spanish ambassador, the count D'Aranda, as ministers from congress, when they dined with him in the beginning of July. This might be viewed by others as a public acknowledgment, on the part of Spain, of the independence of the American United States; but could not satisfy Mr. Jay, who declined nc