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course towards the harbour of Newport, for the purpose of cooperating with him. The appearance of the French fleet off Newport, induced the British Commander, Major General Sir Robert Pigot, to give orders for burning and sinking six English vessels that lay within the harbour; to prevent their falling into the hands of the Count. And this loss to the enemy was the only advantage gained by the expedition. Sir Robert Pigot had about six thousand men under his command, so advantageously posted, that without the cooperation of the Count D'Estaing, it was impossible for General Sullivan to effect any thing. His force was composed chiefly of volunteers and militia from Massachusetts and the adjoining states, all anxious for engagement; but while they were every moment waiting for the assistance of the Count's fleet, Lord Howe, who had received intelligence of the danger which threatened his Majesty's forces in Rhode Island, suddenly appeared with his increased fleet off the harbour, and the Count's eagerness for naval fame induced him to seek an engagement with him at sea. The tempestuous state of the weather rendered all their efforts on both sides fruitless, to come to a general engagement. Some of the French ships, particularly the flag ship of the Count D'Estaing, suffered considerable damage by the gale —and each party at the end of three days, during which it lasted, seemed to be content to leave the superiority undecided. The only circumstance worthy of note in this play of the two fleets, was an engagement between a British 50 gun ship and a French 74 both of which had escaped the effects of the gale. The Isis, Captain Rayner, and the Cæsar, Monsieur Bougainville, had a severe contest within pistol shot, which lasted for one hour and a half, in which the 74 Teceived so much injury that she was glad to escape with all sail before the wind.
At the moment of the Count D’Estaing's leaving the harbour to meet the English fleet, General Sullivan began to move with his troops; but the weather operated almost as much against him, as it had done against the fleets, and it was eight days after his crossing Howland's ferry to Long Island, before he could bring himself before the enemy. He knew, however, that all his hopes of success must depend upon the cooperation of D’Estaing; and as, after the storm, he showed no disposition to return into the harbour, a deputation, consisting of General Greene and the Marquis de la Fayette, was sent on board the Count's ship to urge his immediate return into the harbour. This, it seems, he was bimself willing to do, but bis officers unanimously opposed the measure, and insisted upon bis complying with instructions to proceed to Boston to refit his shattered fleet-a determination which he had no power to resist, and the American army was thus left without that cooperation which was essential to the successful prosecution of their plans. A formal protest was drawn up by all the American officers, with the exception of the Marquis de la Fayette, and sent to the Count immediately after the return of the deputation ; but it produced no other effect than a spirited reply from the Count, who weighed anchor the next day and repaired to Boston.
There can be no just cause of complaint against the conduct of the Count d'Estains, in not returning into the harbour of Newport, after the disasters which his fleet had suffered in the tempest : his instructions op that head were positive, and it would have been
highly improper to have set at nought the unanimous advice of his officers. But he deserves censure for having in the first instance left the barbour to seek the gratification of his own ambition, when he must have known that his remaining to cooperate with General Sullivan, would have been the means of effectually reducing the British power in Rhode Island. Unfortunately the Count d'Estaing was a land officer; and so great was the jealousy of the naval officers over whom he was placed, that they were unwilling to assent to any measure which could lead to the advancement of his reputation in that character.
The moment it became known to the American army, that the Count d'Estaing had sailed with his whole fleet to Boston, the militia and volunteers began to move off; so that in the course of a few days General Sullivan found his numbers reduced so much, that the prosecution of his original design was impracticable, and it became necessary for him to retreat. In effecting this a severe engagement was brought on between about 1200 Americans, under General Greene, and a party of Hessians and four British regiments under Generals Lossberg and Smith. The action lasted the whole afternoon of the 29th of August, and ended with no great advantages on either side. General Lovell, of the Massachusetts militia, and Colonels Laurens, Livingston and Jackson, particularly distinguished themselves. General Sullivan conducted the retreat in a style that did him great honour-having brought off all his baggage and men, just time enough to escape Sir Henry Clinton, who arrived from New York on the 1st of September, with a reinforcement of four thousand men.
Lord Howe, finding that his enemy had gone to Boston, pursued him thither; but the situation of the Count was too secure to render an attempt upon him adviseable. The Count had immediately on his arrival at Boston, addressed a letter to Congress, in which he endeavoured to give a satisfactory explanation of his leaving Newport, by representing the shattered condition of his fleet, and the positive orders from his Court to repair to Boston should it become necessary to refit any of his ships. He adverted to the protest which had been made by the American officers, in pretty spirited terms; and his subsequent offer, when pressed to return with his fleet to Newport, to lead his troops over by land to the assistance of General Sullivan, showed that his conduct neither proceeded from a want of valour or of a proper regard for the interest of his allies.
Thus ended the first campaign after the alliance with France, in which nothing was gained to either party. The great skill and gallantry of Lord Howe, though his force was for the most part inferiour to that of the Count d'Estaing, prevented the latter from rendering us any active services; but his arrival was nevertheless important to us in another point of view, as it gave the most unequivocal assurance of the friendship of the French King, and kept up a spirit of animation in our resistance, which a dependence on our own exertions alone might not have been able to effect.
Several affairs of a less general, though not less important nature, occurred during the present year, which it will be now proper to relate.
Early in January, a Captain John Folger arrived from Paris, with a large packet of papers directed to
the President of Congress, which upon inspection were discovered to be blank. This circumstance was well calculated to excite suspicion of some intended fraud, and Captain Folger was ordered to be imprisoned, under an impression that he knew more of it than he was willing to communicate. He was also the bearer of despatches from our Commissioners at Paris, which could lead to no developement of the mystery. A committee was appointed by Congress to investigate the strange affair; but their examination was fruitless, and the Captain, after several months confinement, was finally discharged, with the payment of his expenses. A short time after this occurrence a Mr. Francey arrived from Paris, and presented himself to Congress as the agent of M. Beaumarchais, with a letter of recommendation signed by Silas Deane only, in which the speedy attention of Congress was urgently requested to the settlement of Beaumarchais's claim for supplies, said to have been furnished at his own cost. Though the suspicions of Congress were somewhat awakened by the singular manner in which this claim came before them, they nevertheless received Mr. Francey, as the authorised agent of Beaumarchais, and entered into stipulations for the equitable adjustment of his claim.— It would be to occupy too much time, and to travel somewhat out of the track prescribed to this history, to enter into a minute examination of this deep laid and villainous scheme of imposition; in which there is but too much reason to believe that Mr. Deane, one of our Commissioners at Paris, acted a primary part. Suffice it to say, that subsequent events led to a developement of the fraud : and that after a perseverance of more than forty years by Beaumarchais and his agents,