Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

1778. which increased to a violent tempest, and continued for

near 48 hours, put by the engagement. Two of the French ships were dismafted, and others much damaged, The Languedoc of go guns, d'Estaing's own ship, loft her rudder and all her mąsts; and was met in that condition on the evening of the 13th, by the Renown of 50 guns. Capt. Dawson bore down without hoisting colours. The count ordered capt. 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 fail 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 failed off. The Languedoc upon that fired two chace guns after him, when he never attempted to approach her more. The fame evening the Preston of 50 guns, commodore Hotham, fell in with the Tonant of 80.guns, with only her main-mast standing, and attacked her with spirit, but night put an end to the engagement. The

junction of six fail of the French squadron, prevented Aug, all further attempts upon their two disabled ships, by the 16. Renown and Preston the next morning. On the 16th,

the Isis of 50 guns, capt. Raynor, was chaced by the Cæsar, capt. Bougainville, a French 74 gun. Neither had suffered in the tempest. A close and desperate engagement was maintained on both sides, with the greatest obstinacy, for an hour and a half, within pistol shot. The Cæsar at length put before the wind and failed off, the captain having lost his arm, the lieutenant his leg, a number of men being killed and wounded, and the ship considerably damaged. The Isis had suffered fo in her

.mafts

masts and rigging, that she could not attempt a pur-1778. fuit. · The troops under gen. Sullivan now demand our attention. When they had landed, they possessed themfelves of the heights near the north end of the island. They suffered no less than the ships by the tempest. The wind blew moft 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 : several of the foldiers perished by the feverity 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 emerged. Gen. Greene and some British offia cers are of opinion, that a bold and vigorous onset under these circumstances 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 20. they had opened two four gun batteries ; but their approaches were now. About two o'clock in the after: noon the French feet was discovered standing for Newport. At feven gen. Greene and the marquis de la Fayette went on board the Languedoc, to consult upon 'meafures proper to be pursued for the success of the expeVol. III.

'dition

mo

[ocr errors]

M

1778, dition in which they were engaged. They urged d’Ef

taing to return with his feet into Newport harbour. He
was apparently inclined to a compliance: but all the cap-
tains and principal officers on board were rather un-
friendly to him. He being a land officer, they thought
it an affront to their understandings, and a piece of in-
justice done to their merits and services to have him ap-
pointed 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 feet met with any.
misfortune, or if there appeared a superior British fleet
upon the coast. The count had met with a misfortune,
the Cæsar which had steered for Boston was missing, and
a superior British feet was expected. All the officers
insịfted 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 report of
what had passed. The next day letters went on board
from gens. Sullivan and Hancock; as also a protest
dated Camp before Newport, Aug. 22, 1778-and
signed by John Sullivan, N. Greene, John Hancock,
J. Glover, Ezek. Cornell, Wm. Whipple, John Tyler,
Solomon 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 moft Christian majesty and the
interest of his nation, and destructive in the higheft de-
gree to the welfare of the United States of America,
and highly injurious to the alliance formed between the
;..5

tw

two nations. One of the reasons assigned for the protest 1778. was, that the army and stores collected for the reduction of the island would be liable to be loft, by an op portunity'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 protest is, that it was designed 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 failed on the same day for Boston. Sullivan was so chagrined at the departure of the fleet; that contrary to all found policy, he gave out in general orders on the 24th The general cannot help lamenting the sudden and unexpected departure of the French fieet, 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 orders, he endeavoured to smooth off the reflection contained in it, by declaring he meant not to insinuate that the departure of the French fleet was owing to a fixt determination not to assist in the enterprise, and would not wish to give the least colour to ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such unfair interpretations. Count d'Estaing, when arrived in Bofton port, wrote to congress on the 26th, and in his let. ter mentioned the embarrassments of the king's fquadron as well on account of water as provisions, how his hopes were deceived with regard to these two articles; M2

which

[ocr errors]

1778. which were growing more and more important--that it

was necessary for him to confine all his attention to the preservation of the squrdron, 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 ships, the advices of a squadron from Europe, the ignorance of what was become of lord Howe's feet, and the advantage that his lord ship 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 Aeet's failing for Boston, it was faid " There never was a prospect fo favorable, blasted by such a shameful desertion.” A universal clamor prevailed against the French nation : and letters were sent to Boston containing the must 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 services. Between two and three thousand volunteers returned in the course of 24 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 yolunteers and militia remained, for the bulk of the troops had never been in action: the necessity of a re

treat

« ForrigeFortsett »