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island, and retreated within their lines, about three miles from Newport, regardless of the agreement with d'Estaing, he concluded (as it appeared to him best) to push over without loss of time; The army was immediately put in motion; about eight o'clock the right wing, under gen. Greene, began to cross from Tiverton, and the rest of the Americans followed in order. The Massachusetts militia were attended by Mr. Hancock as their majorgeneral. About two in the afternoon a fleet consisting of near 25 sail, was discovered standing in for Newport, which came to off Point Judith for the night. Lord Howe had determined to attempt the preservation of the island; but notwithstanding all his exertions, could not reach sight of it till the day after the French fleet had entered the harbour. Though his own exceeded the other in point of number, yet it was far inferior with respect to effective force and weight of metal. He had one ship of 74 guns—seven of 64—five of 50—six from 44 to 32—and twelve smaller vessels including fire ships and bomb ketches. When he first appeared, the garrison were much elated, but upon learning that he brought no provision, of which they were nearly exhausted, they were equally dejected. A sudden change of wind favoring the count, he stood out to sea with all his squadron, about eight o'clock the next morning. They were severely cannonaded as they passed by the batteries, but received no mater rial damage. Howe deeming the weathergage of too great an advantage to be added to the superior force of the count, centend. ed for that object with all the skill of an experienced seaman; while the count was as eager to preserve it. This contest prevented an engagement on that day; but the wind on the following still continuing adverse to the design of Howe, he determined to make the best of present circumstances, and wait the approach of the count. A strong gale, which increased to a violent tempest, and continued for near forty-eight hours, put by the engagement. Two of the French ships were dismasted and others much damaged. The Languedoc, of 90 guns, d'Estaing's own ship, lost her rudder and all her masts; and was met in that condition on the evening of the 13th, by the Renown, of 50 guns. Captain Dawson bore down without hoisting colours. The count ordered captain Caleb Gardner, who was on board as a pilot, to hail him, that he might know what ship it was. Dawson made no answer, but ran with a full sail and fair wind till he was under the stern of the Languedoc, then hoisted English colours, fired in great and small shot, and musketry, and sailed off. The Languedoc upon that fired two chace guns after him, when he never attempted to approach her more. The same *Yoning the Preston, of fifty guns, commodore Hotham, fell in with the Tonant of eighty guns, with only her main mast standings, and attacked her with spirit, but night put an end to the engagement. The junction of six sail of the French squadrom, prevented all further attempts upon their two disabled ships by the Renown and Preston in the morning. On the 16th the Isis of 50 guns, capt. Raynor, was chased by the Caesar, capt. Bouganville, a French 74 gun. Neither had suffered in the tempest. A close and desperate engagement was maintained on both sides, with the greatest obstimacy, for an hour and an half, within pistol shot. The Caesar at length put before the wind and sailed off, the captain having lost his arm, the lieutenant his leg, a number of men being killed and wounded, and the ship consi. derably damaged. The Isis had suffered so in her mast and rigging that she could not attempt a pursuit. The troops under gen. Sullivan now demand our attention. When they had landed, they possessed themselves of the heights near the north end of the island. They suffered no less than the ships by the tempest. The wind blew most violently, attended with a flood of rain through the whole day of the 12th, and increased so at night that not a marquee or tent could stand; severas of the soldiers perished by the severity of the storm, many horses —died, the greatest part of the ammunition delivered to the troops was damaged, and the condition of the army was deplorable. • On the 14th, the storm was over, and the weather clear and fine. The garrison having enjoyed better accommodations, and greater security than the Americans, Sir Robert Pigot had a fair opportunity of attacking the latter while dispirited and worn down by the painful scenes from which they had just immerged. Gen. *Greene and some British officers are of opinion, that a bold and vigorous onset under these cirsumstances would have been highly proper and successful. But as nothing of this kind happened the day was spent by the Americans in drying their clothes, &c. and getting in order for an advance. The next morning they marched at six o'clock, and took post about two miles from the British lines. By the 20th they had opened two four gun batteries; but their approaches were slow. About two o'clock in. the afternoon the French fleet was dissovered standing for Newport. At seven gen. Greene and the marquis de la Fayette went on board the Languedoc, to consult upon measures proper to be pursued for the success of the expedition in which they were engaged. They urged d'Estaing to return with his fleet into Newport harbor. He was apparently inclined to a compliance: but all the captains and principal officers on board were rather -unfriendly to him. He being a land officer, they thought it an * afficut to their understandings, and a piece of injustice o t() o - thCls
their merits and services, to have him appointed to the command. over their heads. They therefore crossed him in every measure, that looked like giving him any kind of reputation, in order if possible, to bring him into disgrace. His instructions, from the court of France were to go to Boston, if the fleet met with any, misfortune, or if there appeared a superior British fleet upon the cost. The count had met with a misfortune, the Caesar which had steered for Boston was missing, and a.superior British fleet was expected. All the officers insisted upon his following the instructions, and entered into a formal protest against prosecuting the expedition any further. About twelve o’clock at night of the 21st, Greene and the marquis returned, and made a reort of what had passed. The next day letters went on board. from generals Sullivan and Hancock ; as also a protest dated— Camp before Newport, Aug. 22, 1718—and signed by John. Sullivan, N. Greene, John Hancock, J. Glover, Ezek. Cornell, Wm. Whipple, John Tyler, Soloman Lovell, Jon. Fitconel. They protested in a solemn manner against the count’s taking the fleet to Boston, as derogatory to the honor of France, contrary to the intention of his most Chiistian majesty and the interest of his nation, and destructive in the highest degree to the welfare of the United States of America, and highly injurious ta. the alliance formed between the two nations. One of the reasons assigned for the protest was, that the army and stores collected for the reduction of the island would be liable to be lost, by an opportunity’s being given to the enemy to cut off the communication with the main, and totally to prevent the retreat of the army. The best apology that can be made for this protestis, that. it was designedly as a finesse to induce the captains of the French: fleet to consent to its returning into the harbour of Newport. But it had not this effect and met with a spirited answer from the count, who sailed on the same day for Boston. Sullivan was . so chagrined at the departure of the fleet, that contrary to all policy, he gave out in general orders on the 24th, “‘she gemerel cannot help lamenting the sudden and unexpected departure of the French fleet, as he finds it has a tendency to discourage some who placed great dependence upon the assistance of it, though he can by no means suppose the army or any part of it. endangered by this movement. He yet hopes the event will. prove America able to procure that by her own arms, which her. allies refuse to assist in obtaining.” Two days after, in new 91-, ders, he endeavoured to smooth off the reflection contained in. it, by declaring that he meant not to insinuated that the departure, of the French fleet was owing to a fixed determination not to assist in the enterprise, and would not wish to give the least colour. - to
to ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such unfair interpretations. Count d'Estaing, when arrived in Boston port, wrote to congress on the 26th, and in his letter mentioned—the embarrassments of the king's squadron as well on account of water as provisions, how his hopes were deceived with regard to these two articles, which were growing more and more important—that it was necessary for him to confine all his attention to the preservation of the squadron, and restoring it.to a condition to act—that he was no longer at liberty to depend on deceitful expectations of watering and getting provisions. He justified his repairing to Boston from the situation of his ship's, the advices of a squadron, from Europe, the ignorance of what was become of lord Howe's fleet, and the advantage that his lordship would have had for attacking him had he returned into Newport. He also expressed his displeasure at the protest.
. It appears unreasonable to censure the count for repairing to Boston, when all his officers insisted so upon the measure; though, had he returned into Newport, the garrison would most probably have capitulated before Howe could have succoured them. Upon the fleet's sailing for Boston, it was said—"There never was a prospect so favorable, blasted by such a shameful desertion." A universal clamor prevailed against the French nation and letters were sent to Boston containing the most bitter invectives, tending to prejudice the inhabitants against d'Estaing and all his officers, to counteract which the cooler and more judicious part of the community employed their good offices. Between two and three thousand volunteers returned in the course of twenty-four hours, and others continued to go off, and even many of the militia, so that in three days Sullivan's army was greatly decreased ; it was soon little more in number than that of the enemy. An attempt to carry their works by storm, would have been too hazardous, had all the volunteers and militia remained, for the bulk of the troops had never been in action : the necessity of a retreat was therefore apparent (as soon as there was a certainty of the French fleet's being gone) though in the morning of the 23d; the Americans had opened batteries consisting in the whole of \1 pieces of heavy artillery, 2 ten inch mortars and three five and a half inch howitzers. Greene was against retreating hastily, lest the appearance of timidity and inferiority should bring out the enemy upon them: but he and Glover pre-, pared for an expeditious retreat, in case Clinton should arrive with a reinforcement, that so no damage might ensue from the delay. By the 26th all the spare heavy artillery and baggage were sent ofFthe island ; and on the 28th at night, between nirnit aad ten o'clock, the army began to move to the north end. ic
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had been that day resolved in a council of war, to remove this ther, fortify the camp, secure a communication with the main: and hold the ground, till it could be known whether the French fleet would soon return to their assistance. The marquis de la Fayette, by request of the general officers, set off for Boston to request their speedy return. The count could not consent to the return of the fleet, but made a spirited offer of leading the troops. under his command from Boston, and of co-operating against Rhode-Island. The march of Sullivan's army was conducted with great order and regularity, and the troops arrived on their ground about three in the morning, with all the baggage, stores, &c. About seven, [Aug. 29.] they were alarmed by a brisk fire of musketry in their front, between their advanced corps of infantry and the enemy, who had pushed out after them upon discovering the retreat. Sullivan asked the opinion of the generals upon the occasion, and Greene advised to march and meet them, for he truly supposed that they were come out in small detachments which might be cut to pieces; and further apprehended that by advancing in force upon the western road, they might possibly head that part of the enemy which marched down upon the eastern, and so unexpectedly possess themselves. of Newport—Had this measure been adopted, the Americans would probably have gained very great advantages, as the whole of the enemy’s force on the western road consisted only of the Hessian chasseurs and the Anspach regiments of Voit and Seaboth under gen. Lossberg. On the east road was gen. Smith. with the 22d and 43d regiments, and the flank companies of the 38th and 54th. To the latter were opposed col. Henry B. Livingston and his light troops; to the former lieut. col. Laurens with his. The enemy’s superiority in numbers obliged each to give way, but a retreating fire was kept up with the greatest order. The advanced corps being reinforced, they gave the enemy a check, make a gallant resistance, and at length repulsed them. But the British commander sending reinforcements to both Lossberg and Smith, the Americans were obliged to retire nigh to the front line of the main army, which was drawn up in order of battle. The British advanced very near to the American left, but were repulsed by Glover, and retired to Quaker-hill. The royal troops soon availed themselves of two heights on Sullivan's right; where they placed several pieces of artillery, and began about nine o'clock, a severe cannonade on a redoubt, an advanced post on his right, which was returned with double force. Skirmishing continued between the advanced parties until near ten ; when two British sloops of war and other armed vessels, having gained his right flank and began a