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Indies, but she even projected conquests in this quarter, if the occasion should present itself. The ministers accordingly resolved to send to those islands a considerable reenforcement both of ships and troops, under the conduct of admiral Rodney, a man in whom the government, and even the whole British nation, had reposed extreme confidence. It appeared the more essential to despatch these succours to the West Indies, as the French were preparing on their part to pass thither a formidable reenforcement under the count de Guichen. But before admiral Rodney had put to sea, it was deemed expedient to employ him in a more important expedition. Spain had commenced hostilities by laying close siege and blockade to the fortress of Gibraltar. The blockade was confined to admiral don Barcelo, a seaman of great vigilance. He exerted his utmost diligence to prevent any sort of supplies from finding their way into the place. The garrison already began to suffer severely from scarcity. They could not even hope to receive provision from the neighboring coasts, by means of light boats which might have eluded the watchfulness of the Spaniards; for the inhabitants of the Barbary shores, and especially the emperor of Morocco, had declared themselves for Spain, as soon as they ascertained the inferiority of the English in the Mediterranean. There remained, therefore, no other way of revictualling the place but sron England itself; and the convoy destimed for this purpose required a formidable escort. Rodney was charged with this enterprise. He departed from the British coasts in the first days of the year, with a fleet of twenty-one sail of the line, and a considerable number of provision vessels. Fortune favored his first efforts. He had only been a few days at sea, when he fell in with a convoy of fifteen Spanish merchantmen, bound from St. Sebastian to Cadiz, under the guard of the Guipuscoa, a new ship of sixty-four guns, of sour frigates from thirty-two to twenty-six, and of two smaller vessels. Rodney gave chase, and took the whole fleet. The capture was the more fortunate, as the greater part of the vessels were loaded with wheat, flour and other sorts of provision ; and the remainder with bale goods and naval stores. The former he conveyed to Gibraltar, and the latter he sent back to England, where the naval stores were much wanted. But this was only the prelude to greater and more brilliant success. On the sixteenth of January, admiral Rodney fell in, off Cape St. Vincent, with a Spanish squadron of eleven ships of the line, under the command of don Juan Långara. The Spanish admiral, if he had chosen, might have avoided the encounter of a sorce so prodigiously superior to his own. But the moment he descried the enemy's sails from his mast head, instead of sending out his frigates to reconnoitre, and falling back upon a port, he immediately formed his ships in order of battle. When, on the near approach of the English, he became certain of their superiority, he endeavored to withdraw, but
it was already too late. Admiral Rodney had given the signal for a general chase, with orders to engage as the ships came up in rotation ; taking at the same time the lee gage, to prevent the enemy's retreat into their own ports. The English ships so much outsailed the Spanish, that by four in the evening the headinost had come up with them, and began to engage; their fire was returned with great spirit and resolution by the Spaniards. The night was dark, tempestuous and dismal; the proximity of the shoals of St. Lucar rendered the scene more terrible. Early in the action the Spanish ship San Domingo, of seventy guns and six hundred men, blew up, and all on board perished. The action and pursuit continued until two in the morning. The Spanish admiral's ship, the Phoenix, of eighty guns, with three others of seventy, were taken and carried safely into Gibraltar. The San Eugenio and San Julian, had also surrendered to the English, who had shifted their officers, and put a certain number of British seamen on board each of thein. But the sea being rough, the night tempestuous, and the breakers very near, the English officers, having no pilots that knew the Spanish coast, placed themselves at the discretion of their prisoners, who, from vanquished becoming victors, carried the two ships into the port of Cadiz. Two other ships of the line and two frigates, all greatly damaged, escaped into the same port. The following day the English had great difficulty in extricating their fleet from the shoals, and getting back into deep water. Don Juan de Langara had beeu wounded severely. Admiral Rodney hastened to profit of his victory; he entered Gibraltar. In a short time he deposited there all the supplies he had brought ; provision became so abundant that the fortress found itself in a situation to endure a long siege without further recruit. After having accomplished with equal utility to his country and glory to himself the orders of his court, Rodney proceeded, about the middle of February, with a part of his force, for the West Indies. He left the rest of his fleet with the Spanish prizes, on their way to England, under the conduct of rear-admiral Digby. Fortune, who had shown herself so propitious to the English, seemed disposed to serve them still on their return. They perceived at a great distance a squadron, consisting of several French ships of different sizes. It was a convoy bound to the Isle of France, under the protection of the Proteus and Ajax, both of sixty-four guns, and of the frigate la Charmante. The viscount du Chilleau commanded the whole. As soon as he discovered the English, he made a signal to the Ajax and the bulk of the convoy to make their escape by the rear. As to himself, he rallied about the Proteus, the frigate and some smaller vessels, in order to take up the attention of the enemy. His stratagem succeeded. Rear-admiral Digby gave no heed to the Ajax, and the greater part of the convoy which retired under her escort ; he was fully occupied in pursuit of the Proteus, which sailed with such celerity that she had little to fear; but unluckily, she carried away some of her spars, which so retarded her progress that she fell into the hands of the English, together with three transports. Such was the success of Rodney's expedition to Gibraltar. It was celebrated in England by unusual rejoicings, as well on account of its real importance, as because it was the first good news which had arrived for so long a time. The parliament voted public thanks to George Rodney.
Thus England, while she defended herself, on the one hand, against her enemies in Europe, prepared herself, on the other, to attack at once the republicans upon the American continent, and the French and Spaniards in the West Indies. Her resolution in the midst of so many perils, and such powerful foes, became the object of universal admiration. Her constancy was compared to that of Lewis XIV. who nobly faced the coalition of all Europe against him. She was declared to imitate the still more recent example of Frederic the Great, who had withstood all the efforts of the most formidable confederacy. Even those who had the most openly blamed the conduct of the British government towards its colonies, were now the very men who most extolled her present magnanimity. But thinking men better appreciated the truth; if they commended the firmness of the British monarch, they neither compared him to Lewis XIV. nor yet to Frederic the Great. They reflected that England, being an island, cannot without extreme difficulty be attacked in its interior parts, and in the very elements of its force; and that naval battles are never so decisive as those of land. . It cannot be denied, however, that the ardor and intrepidity of the British nation seemed to increase with all the dangers of its position. The most formidable antagonists of the ministry suspended their attacks, in order to devote themselves exclusively to the necessities of the state. ‘Let us first triumph abroad;’ they exclaimed, “we will then settle this controversy between ourselves.” In the country, as in the most opulent cities, a multitude of private individuals engaged to advance large sums in order to levy and organise troops. Nor private subjects only, but political and commercial bodies vied in promptness to offer the state their voluntary contributions. The East India Company presented the government with three ships of seventy-four guns, and a sum sufficient to raise and maintain six thousand seamen. Extraordinary bounties were given to those who presented themselves to serve the king, by sea or land. This lure, together with the love of country and hatred for the French and Spaniards, drew sailors to the ships in multitude; upon the whole surface of the kingdom the militia were seen forming themselves to the exercise of arms. In a word, all Great Britain was in motion to combat the Bourbons. The people of Europe who had thought at first that she would . find it difficult to resist the formidable forces which that House had marshalled for her destruction, began to believe that so much courage and firmness might be crowned with victory, or at least render the struggle still for a long time dubious, and consistent with her safety.
BOOK TWELFT H.
1780. I HAve now to describe an obstinate war, remarkable for its numerous encounters and variety of success, and one which, perhaps, more than any other, has demonstrated how uncertain is the sate of arms, how inconstant the favor of fortune, and with what pertinacity the human mind can arm itself in pursuit of that whereon it has fixed its desires. Victory often produced the effects of defeat, and defeat those of victory; the victors frequently became the vanquished, the vanquished the victors. In little actions was exhibited great valor; and the prosperous or unfortunate efforts of a handful of combatants had sometimes more important consequences than in Europe attend those terrible battles, where valiant and powerful nations rush to the shock of arms. The Carolinas saw no cessation of this fierce conflict, till by numberless reverses the cause of Great Britain began to be considered altogether hopeless upon the AmeriCan COIntl neut.
Sir Henry Clinton, as we have related in the preceding book, had departed from the state of New York for the expedition of the Carolinas; the first object of it was the conquest of Charleston, the reduction of which, it was calculated, would involve that of the entire province. He took with him seven to eight thousand men, English, Hessians and loyalists. Among them was found a corps of excellent cavalry, a species of force very essential to the success of operations in open and flat countries. Clinton had likewise taken care to fill his transports with an immense quantity of military stores and provision. The English moved towards their object, animated with extreme ardor and confidence of victory. The winds and sea were at first highly favorable; but there afterwards arose a most violent tempest, which dispersed the whole fleet, and greatly damaged the most of the vessels. Some arrived about the last of January at Tybee, in Georgia; others were intercepted by the Americans. One transport foundered with all its lading; the horses, both artillery and troop, that were on board, nearly all perished. These losses, distressing at any time, were grievous and next to irreparable, under the present circumstances. They moreover, so retarded the enterprise of Charleston, that the Americans had time to put that place in a state of defence.
All the dispersed corps at length reassembled in Georgia. The victorious troops of Savannah received those of Clinton with a high flush of spirits; all exerted themselves with emulation to remedy the disasters sustained in the passage. When all their preparations were completed, that is, on the tenth of February, they set sail in the transports under convoy of some ships of war. Favored by the