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the American war; and indeed all orders of men began to read probate it with unrestrained freedom.'
Before the adjournment of the house for the holidays, Mr. Burke brought up a representation and prayer, addressed to the House of commons by Mr. Laurens himself, which was laid on the table. It was written by the petitioner with a black-lead pen* cil: he having, as is thought, refused to accept of some 'indult gences lately offered him, and amongst the rest that of pen and ink, the use of which had been strictly forbidden him during the greatest part of his confinement. The house was also informed by-Mr. Burke, that congress had offered to exchange gen. Bur: goyne for Mr. Laurens; and many reasons were urged by himi for its taking place. Mr. Laurens was at length brought before lord Mansfield on the last day of the year, in consequence of an order from the secretary of state, and was discharged upon certain conditions. He then repaired to Bath for the recovery of his health, which had been much inipaired by his confinement and the hardships with which it was accompanied. .
Before the 12th of January ministry received an account of Sta. tia's having been surprised and taken by the French. The marquis de Bouille being made acquainted with the security and negligence of the governor and garrison, atteinpted the reduction of the island. He embarked about 2000 men in a number of small vessels at Martinico; and knowing that the only practicable landing place was left unguarded, he took his measures so as to arrive before it early in the night. An unexpected rise of the sea caused the loss of several boats and many soldiers while endeavoring to disembark. With liis utmost efforts he could only land about 400 by day-break; there was no hope of reinforcing them with the remainder of the troops, the greater part of the boats having been broken. He saw the danger of his situation; that a retreat was impossible; that the garrison was nearly double his own number; and that nothing but the success of a bold adventure, could possibly save him and his troops from being either made prisoners or cut to pieces. He determined upon a vigorous attack. The place where he landed was about} wo leagues from the town and toit; the way to these was not only extremely difficult, but in tersected by a defile in which a handful of men could have stopped an army... The troops that had been landed, were cemposed principally of count Dition's regimeni, a part of the Irish brigade in the Freiich service. A division of the garrison was going Througin its exercise in a field at some distance from the fort. It-puistook the enemy, as their red uniform was the same with the English; and did not retreat till it had received a close dis
charge of smallarms, which killed and wounded several. Upon the alarm occasioned by the volley, those of the garrison who were in quarters hurried to the fort, and clogged the draw-bridge in such a manner, that it could not be raised, until the enemy ens tered pell mell along with them. Lieut. col. Cockburne, the governor, who had been taking an early ride, returned at the instant of surprise, and was made prisoner on horseback. He was “guilty of culpable neglect, in not taking the necessary precautions for the defence of the Island, notwithstanding he had received the fullest intelligence of an intended attack."* Thus was Statia, with the dependent islands of St. Martin and Saba, reduced in a few minutes on the 26th of November, with the loss to the French of go more than ten soldiers killed and wounded. The British garrison, consisted of 677 men, and the artillery of GS pieces of Cannon.
The marquis de Bouille behaved with his usual magnanimity, and adnitted the claims of the original proprietors to various articles on the island. A considerable sum of money which lieut. col., Cockburne declared to be his, was with the generous consent of the French officers restored to him. But a very large sumn, the remainder of the produce of the late sales, and said to be the property of adm. Rodney and gen. Vaughan, became a prize to the victors. Their whole spoil has been estimated at two millions of livres.
When count de Guichen returned from his cruise, the utmost expedition was used at Brest in refitting the French fieet for the sea, notwithstanding the lateness of the season. The reinforcing of count de Grasse in the West-Indies with troops and ships of war, was indispensably requisite; and it was foreseen, that he: would want on that station almost every article of provisions and necessary of life, beside an immense supply of military and naval stores of every kind, after the service on the North American coasts. The French concluded also upon sending a reinforcement, of troops and ships to mons. de Suffrein in the East-Indies, where: the demand for naval and military stores was also urgent. A nu-, merous convoy of transports, store ships and provision vessels, were accordingly gotten in readiness with the same diligence as the fleet. It was needful to guard against the designs of the British, the preparation was therefore extended to such a number of men of war, as was thought equal to the protection of the whole till they were at a safe distance. Count de Guichen was appointed to the command of all, while he remained in company with them. The squadron and fleet destined for the West-Indies, ivas
* The fentence of the court martizl.
entrusted with the marquis de Vaudreuil, who carried out a con." siderable body of land forces, with a full confidence, on the side of both France and Spain, of now perfecting their plan for the reduction of Jamaica.
The intelligence of this preparation, and in a measure of its object, being received in Britain, admiral Kempenfelt was disa patched in the beginning of December, with 12 sail of the line; a 50 gun ship, four frigates and a fire ship, to intercept the French squadron and convoy. But for want of better information, or from some other cause, the French fleet was so much superior to what had been conceived, and to Kempenfclt's force, that the real danger lay on the side of the latter. Count de Guichen had: no less than 1.9 sail of heavy line of battle ships, beside two more armed en flrete, as the French call it when the lower deck guns are placed in the hold to make room for the conveyance of a moderate cargo... · The British admiral, expecting that his enemy liad only as equal force at the most, fortunately fell in with the French (Dec. 12.] in a hard gale of wind, when both the fleet and convoy" were much dispersed, and the latter considerably a-stern. Kem. penfelt concluded upon profiting from the present situation, by endeavoring to cut off the convoy in the first instance, and fight ing the enemy afterward. He succeeded in part. A great num. of prizes were taken. About 20: arrived safe in British ports; while several that struck escaped in the night. Two or three ships are said to have been sunk. A number must undoubtedly have lost their voyage through the great dispersion of the convoy. which necessarily existed. The French commanders were in the inean time collecting their fleet, and forming the line of bat: tle, Kempenfelt also having collected his ships in the evening, and being still ignorant of the enemy's force, got upon the same tack with them, under a full determination of engaging them the next morning. At day-light, perceiving them to Iceward, he formed the line; but discovering their force on a nearer approach, he did not think it advisable to hazard an action. He arrived at Portsmouth on the 20th of December, but had taken the precaution of dispatching the Agamemnon to pick up any stragglers from the Brest feet. The Agameninon fortunately fell in with four large ships and a snow, from Bourdeaux to Martinico, meant to join de Guichen, and captured them on the 25th.
- Near 1:100 land forces, and between 6 and 700 seamen were taken in the prizes captured by the admiral, which were mostly freighted on the French king's account. They were laden chiefly with brass and iron ordnance, gun-powder, small arms, Hints,
bomb-shells, cannon balls, grenades in a prodigious quantity,
iron bars, sheet lead, travelling forges, all kinds of ordnance * stores, tents, camp equipage, soldiersclothing and accoutrehients, woolen and linen goods for the land and sea service, great cables, sail-cloth and cordage, with every supply for shipping in a great amount, wine, oil, brandy, rum, flour, biscuit, and salted provisi. ons, all in large, and the most necessary in prodigious quantities.
The capture was valuable and important; but served to excite the dissatisfaction of the public, who supposed that it was through neglect that Kempenfelt had not been supplied with a force which would have enabled him to take or destroy the whole French fleet and convoy. A great clamor was raised; which was probably increased by the attempts made in both liouses of parliament, after the Christmass recess, to render this business a ground of complaint and charge against the first lord of the adiniralty. Mr. Fox moved, on the 7th of February, the follow. ing resolution in the committee, “That it appears to this committee, that there was gross mismanagerzent in the administra. tion of naval affairs in the year 1781." He said in his specch up. on the occasion-" It appears from the papers on the table, that for several weeks before the sailing of the French fleet, the ad. miralty had been in the course of receiving regular inte ligence
of its equipment; and that it was evident that 18 or 20 sail of - the line were in readiness to put to sea.” Lord Howe on the same day declared it to be his opinion, that the early intelligence ministry had received of the designs of the enemy, lert them without excuse for not having prepared a force sufficient to attack -them. He asked" Why was not Sir George Rodney sent out with admiral Kempenfelt? His squadron is allowed to have been fit for service.” Mr. Fox's motion was rejected by a very great majority, after long and warm debates. What Kempenfelt could not effect for want of more ships, was in a great degree accomplished in another way. Count de Guichen's feet and convoy, after Kempenfelt's successful attack on the laiter, were so shat. tered and disabled by a continual succession of tempests and foul weather, that only two of the men of war and a few of the convoy, could hold on their course to join de Grasse. The remainder were obliged to return in very bad condition to France. Since then a second convoy from Biest, sailed on the 11th of February, in order to supply the failure of the other." - The eagerness of the Spaniards to gain possession of Minorca after landing on the island, was so excessive as to induce then, through the medium of a bribe, insidiously to attempt corrupting the fidelity of the governor. The Duke de Crillon suffered hims
self to become the instrument in this business. General Murray treated the insult with a suitable disdain, Theclose investure of Fort St. Philip, from the time of the enemy's landing, whollys. prevented the garrison's being supplied with vegetables. The svant of these, destroyed in a great measure, the benefits which niiglat have been otherwise expected from the general plenty enjoyed in other respects. The scurvy raged among the troops to a high degree, and was attended by a putrid pestilential fever and a mortal dysentery. Much the greater part of the British soldiers had been eleven years on the island, and had lived conStantly upon salt provisions, so that the want of vegetables was the more sensibly felt, when they came to be deprived of them. The progress of the distemper was also much furthered by the close confinement of the men within the narrow limits of the fortress; and still more so by the tainted air of the casemebts and souterrains, which the cannonade and bombardment of the enemy rendered their only habitations, and which became every day more pernicious by occupancy.
The combined forces amounted to 16,000 regulars, attended by a prodigious artillery, consisting of 109 pieces of the heaviest cana non, and 36. great mortars. The garrison consisted only of 2693 men; of these 2016 were British and Hanoverian regular troops, including however in this number 400 invalids, who had been sent from Britain in 1775. A marine corps, which had been form: ed upon the present occasion, and was of excellent service, composed the greater part of the remainder. A handful of Greeks and Corsicans also behaved with much bravery. The works of the fartress were so numerous, that the garrison, in full health, did not amount to half the number which would have been necesa sary to their effectual defence. This weakness probably led the Duke de Crillon to lie somewhat unguardedly in his head quarters at Cape Mola, which induced a vigorous and successfat sally froni the garrison. The troops employed in it surprised and routed the enemy; chased the duke from his post, and secured themselves so effectually in it, that though he brought up his whole army to dislodge them, he desisted from the attack; and left them to return the following night in safety. This happened early in November, about the time when the enemy opened their bomb batteries. Though the besiegers kept a cautious distance in the construction and progress of their works"; vét their vast and numerous artillery were so weighty, powerful and incessant in their battery, and such showers of great shells were continually poured into the place, that they soon ruined the upper defences of the fortress, and rendered useles a great number of cannon, Vol. II. LI