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LET T E R XIV.
Paris, December 5, 175. FRIEND G. .
THE Dutch fleet having returned to the Texel, and tire Bri
I tish convoy from the Baltic being out of danger, the ships sent to the Downs to attend the motions of the Duich, returned to accompany the British fleet in their expedition to Gibraltar. Upon the junction (Sept. 11.] lord Howe sailed froin Portsmouth, with 33 ships of the line, several frigates and fireships, a fleet of transports, victuallers and storc-ships, with a body of troops on board, for the relief of the garrison. He was accompanied by admirals Barrington, Milbank, Hood, and Sir R. Hughes, by commodore Hotham, and an able, brave set of naval officers.
After the reduction of Minorca, the duke de Crillon was áppointed captain-general of the Spanish forces, and was destined to attempt the recovery of Gibraltar. No mean was neglected nor expence spared to insure success. Anıbition, honor, pride, revenge, all united in urging to the utmost exertions for the con: quest of the place; and as all former oncs had failed, the invention and application of such as were new became necessary. The chevalier D'Arcon, a French engineer, was confided in as being equal to the service. ' A plan had been proposed by him in the latter part of the preceding year. The preparations, though yast, and extremely expensive, were nearly completed; and the reduction of the place was not only deemed certain, but the powers to be used were so prodigious and formidable, that little less than the annihilation of the fortress was expected to be the consequence of any great obstinacy of defence in the garrison. The plan of the chevalier was to construci, fron ships, floating batteries that could not be sunk or fired. They were to be secured from sinking by the extraordinary thickness of timber with which their keels and bottoms were to be fortified; and which was to render them proof, in that respect, against all external or interñal violence.' They were to be defended from being fired by having their sides secured with a strong wall, coinposed of tiniber and coik, long soaked in water, and including betiveen them å large body of wet sand; the whole of such a thickness that no cannon ball should penetrate within two fect of the inner partition. A constant supply of water was to keep the paris exposed to fire, always wer; and the cork was tu act as a sponge in retaining the moisture, VOL. III.
Ten great ships, from 600 to 1400 tons burden, were cut down to the state required by the plan, and 200,000 feet of tim ber worked into their construction. To protect them from bombs, and the men from grape or descending shot, a hanging roof was contrived, to be worked up and down by springs, as pleasure. The roof was made of a strong rope-work netting, laid over with a thick covering of wet hides;. its sloping position was calculated to prevent the shells from lodging, and to throw them off into the sea before they could take effect. The batteries were covered with new brass cannons of great weight; and about half the number of spare guns, of the same kind, were kept ready, instantly to supply the place of those which might. be over-heated or otherwise disabled. That the fire of these guns. might be the more instantaneous and effective, the chevalier had contrived: a kind of match by which all the guns on the battery were to go off together. Red hot shot from the fortress was what the Spaniards most dreaded. To restrain its effect, there was a contrivance for communicating water in every direction.
A great variety of pipes and canals perforated all the solid workmanship in such a manner that a continued succession of water was to be conveyed to every part of the vessels; a number of pumps being adapted to the purpose of an unlimited supply. By this mean it. was expected that the red hot shot would operate to the remedy of its own mischief, and procure its immediate. extinction by cutting through the pipes.
The preparation was enormous in other respects. About 1200 pieces of heavy ordnance had been brought to the spot; for the numerous intended purposes of attack by sea and land. The quantities of every kind of military stores were immense. The gun-powder only, is said to have exceeded 83,000 barrels. Forty gun-boats, with heavy, artillery, as many bomb-boats, with 12 inch mortars,. beside a large floating battery and five bombketches on the usual construction, were appointed to second the efforts of the great battering vessels. Nearly all the frigates and sınaller armed vessels of the kingdom were assembled, to afford such aid as they might be capable of; and between 2 and 300 large boats were collected, which, with those already in the vicinity, were to minister to the fighting vessels during action, and to land troops as soon as the fortress was dismantled. The conbined fleets of France and Spain, amounting to about 50 ships of the line, were to cover and support the attack, while they heightened the terrors and magnificence of the scene.. .s, · The preparations by land were no less considerable. Twelve thousand Erench troops joined the Spaniards. The duke de Cril
Jonwas assisted by a number of the best officers of both countries, and particularly of the best engineers and artillerists of his owfi. The fame of these extraordinary preparations drew volunteers from every part of Europe to the camp before Gibraltar; and Rot only the nobility of Spain, but of other countries-assembled, either to display their valor, or to gratify curiosity in beholdings such a naval and military spectacle, as had scarcely been before exhibited. The Count de Artois, the French king's brother, and his cousin the Duke de Bourbon, seemed eager to immortalize: their names by partaking in the glory of recovering Gibraltar to' the crown of their kinsman and ally. Their arrival increased the splendor of the scene; and afforded an opportunity for the display of that politeness, and the exercise of those civilities; by which the refined manners of niodern Europe, lave divested war of many parts of ancient barbarity, Some-packets; containing a Humber of letters directed to the officers in. Gibraltar, having fallen into the hands of the Spaniarchs, were transmitted to Maelrid, where they lay when the count de Artois arrived at that capita). The prince, in the true spirit of generosity, obtained the packets from the Spanish king, and conveyed. them under his own care to the camp.
The transmission of the packets to Gibraltar; · afforded an op. portunity to the duke de Crillon of accompanying them with a " letter to gen. Elliot, in which, besides inforining him of the arri
val of the French princes, and of this particular mark of attenution shown by the count, hc further acquainted him, that he was -charged by them respectively, to convey to the general the strong
est expressions of their regard and esteern for his person and · character. The duke expressed his own in the most flattering
terms. He also requested in the most obliging manner, that the general would accept of a present of fruit and vegetables for his - own use, and of some ice and patridges for the gentlemen of his household; further entreating, that as he now the general lived
entirely on vegetables, he would acquaint him with the particular - kinds which he liked best, with a view to his regular supple. The whole letter may be viewed as a model of military politeness.
General Elliot was not less polite or obliging in his answer whether with respect to the duke himself or to the princes. But de informed the duke, that in accepting the present, he had brok, en through a resolution, which he had invariably adhered to from the commencement of the war, which was, never to receive or procure by any mean whatever, any provisions or other.comoodi. iy for his own private use. He declared that every thing was old publicly in the garrison, so that the private soldier, if he had
money, might become purchaser with the same facility as the governor; and that he made it a point of honor to partake of both plenty and scarcity, in common with the lowest of his brave fellow soldiers, He therefore entreated the duke, not to heap. up any more favors of the same kind upon him, as he could not in future apply them to his own use.
The French princes arrived at the camp about the middle of August; and after examining the state of the preparations by land, reviewed the new and extraordinary machines contrived by the Chevalier D'Arcon: in doing it they were accompanied by all the principal commanders of both nations, whether in the land ori: naval service. The confidence afterward placed in the effect to be produced by these machines was extravagant; and the impatience of the combined forces both by sea and land for action: becaine excessive. The apprehension of Lord Howe's arrival. served to quicken the determinations of the Spanish court, and to accelerate the operations of the fleet and arıy.
While gen. Elliot observed the gathering storm, he could obing tain only some general knowledge of the mighty preparations that were making. He was, utterly in the dark as to the nature, con struction and mode of operation of the new invented batteries. He provided however for every circumstance of danger which could be imagined, and for the reception of every enemy, what, ever might be his mode of operation. Observing that the Spanish works on the land side were nearly completed, the general de : termined on trying how, far a vigorous cannonade and bombardı ment, with red-hot balls, carcasses and shells miglat operate to their destruction. A powerful and well directed firing was.com : menced (Sept. &.] by the garrison at seven in the morning, and supported through the day with admirable skill and dexterity. By ten, two of the Spanish batteries were in flames, and by five in the evening entirely consumed, together with their gun-car. riages, platforms and magazines, although the latter were bonbt proof. A great part of the communications to the eastern paralJel, and of the trenches and parapet for musketry were likewise destroyed, and a large battery near the bay, much damaged. The ; eneiny's works were on fire in fifty places at the same instant.at
This attack appears to have been resented by the allied comnianders, so as to have precipitated their measures. A new battery of 64 heavy cannon was opened by break of day the next morning, which with the canpon in their lines, and above 60 mortars, continued to pour their shot and shells upon the garrisuit without intermission, through the whole day. At the same time, nine ships of the line, with some frigates and smaller vessels, take,
ing the advantage of the wind, passed slowly by the works, and discharged their shot at the south bastion, continuing their cannonade until they had passed Europa-Point. They then formed and came to the attack of the batteries on Europa-Point, and commenced a heavy fire, which lasted till they were entirely passed.
The small British marine force at Gibraltar, under capt. Cura tis, being shut up by the superiority of the enemy from exer-, tion on their proper element, was formed into a distinct corps, under the name of the marine brigade, and Curtis held the rank and title of brigadier as their cominander. The defence of the batteries on Europa-Point was committed to him and his corps. They discharged their trust so well, that having repeatedly struck the enemy at the first attack, the vessels were afterward kept at a safe distance. .
The firing from the isthmus was renewed on the 10th of Sepa tember, and continued the succeeding days, at the rate of 6500 cannon shot, and 1030, shells, in every 24 hours. The gun and . mortar-boats were also added to the other instruments of destruction. Their combined force produced little effect, either witz respect to the loss of men in the garrison, or the damage done to the works. At length the conibined feets arrived at Algezis tas, and with those already on the spot, amounted to 44 sail of the line, beside three inferior two deckers. The new invented. battering vessels were likewise in readiness. Their batteries were covered with 142 pieces of new heavy brąss cannon. The Pastora, the admiral's vessel, had 21 guns mnounted, and ten in teserve. The prince of Nassau's was of the same force. Thirty-six artillery inen and volunteers from the Spanish and Frencli armies were alotted to the service of each gun; these being exe" clusive of the officers and seamen who navigated the vessels, 5 the whole number on board was estimated at between 6 and : 7000 men. The gun and mortar-boats, with the floating batteries and the bomb-ketches, were to carry on their attacks in every possible direction, while the fire of the battering ships waspointed against their destinedobjects. By this mean, and by the fire of near 300 cannon, mortars and howitzers from the isth . mus, it was intended, that every part of the works being attack ed at the same instant, and every quarter presenting a similar face of danger, the resistance of the garrison should become generally ineffective, and totally unequal to the accumulated : weight and force of the grand attack. .
At eight in the morning (Sept. 13. ] the ten batiering ships, comwanded by adul, Don Buenycntura Moreno, were put in motions