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as the first. Its only fruit was that of having impeded the succours destined for Minorca. But if this campaign between France, Spain and England passed, in the seas of Europe, without any great effusion of blood, and almost entirely in demonstrations of little avail, it was at least remarkable for the reciprocal animosity manifested between the English and Dutch. It brought to mind those fierce and sanguinary battles which had procured so much celebrity for these two nations in the seventeenth century. The Dutch carried on a very lucrative commerce with the produce of their colonies in the Baltic sea. Having become, as it were, the general factors of the nations of the north and of the south of Europe, their gains were immense. They were drawn, besides, towards the countries of the north, by the necessity of procuring from that part all the articles employed in the construction of shipping. This intercourse was become still more essential to them since their rupture with Great Britain, in order to be able to put their navy in a condition to defend the possessions and commerce of the republic, and to maintain the honor of its flag. Their arsenals, however, were far from being supplied with all the stores and materials requisite to the present emergency. The English perceived of what importance it was for them to impede the supplies of their enemies. With this intent, so early as the month of June, they had put to sea four ships of the line and one of fifty guns, under the command of admiral Hyde Parker, a very expert seaman, and father of him who served at that time upon the coasts of America. His instructions were, to scour the northern seas, and do all the harm possible to the Dutch trade, and, at his return, to take under his protection a rich convoy which was assembled in the port of Elsineur. Admiral Hyde Parker accomplished his mission with diligence; and already, being returned from the Baltic, he was conducting the convoy through the German ocean, on his way home. Since his departure from Portsmouth, he had been joined by other ships, among which one of seventy-four guns, called the Berwick, one of forty-four, named the Dolphin, and several smaller vessels; so that his squadron was composed of six sail of the line, exclusive of the rest. The Dutch, during this time, had not neglected their preparatives. They had succeeded in fitting out a squadron of seven ships of the line, with several frigates or corvettes. They had given the command of it to admiral Zoutman. He set sail, towards the middle of July, with a convoy of merchantmen, which he purposed to escort into the Baltic. The Dutch squadron was joined soon after by a stout American frigate called the Charlestown; and, on the fifth of August, it fell in with admiral Hyde Parker upon the Dogger Bank. The British squadron was to windward; at sight of the imposing force of the enemy, it sent its convoy homeward, under the guard of frigates, and bore down upon the Dutch. The latter, as
soon as they discovered the English, likewise despatched their convoy towards their own ports, and prepared themselves for battle. They appeared to desire it with no less ardor than their adversaries. The English formed their line with seven ships, of which one of eighty guns, but old and in bad condition, two of seventy-four, excellent, one of sixty-four, one of sixty, one of fifty, and lastly, a frigate of forty-four. The line of the Dutch was formed in like manner with seven ships, one of seventy-six, two of sixty-eight, three of fifty-four, and one frigate of forty-four. The light vessels kept themselves aside of the line, ready to carry succour wherever it might be required. The English came down upon the Dutch with with full sails, and before the wind; the latter awaited them, firm at their posts. A profound silence, the ordinary sign of pertinacious resolution, reigned on board of both squadrons. No other sound was heard but that of the creaking of pullies, the whistling of the wind, and the dashing of waves. The soldiers were formed upon the deck, the cannoniers stood by their pieces, awaiting the signal to commence the fire. It was not given until the squadrons were within half musket shot distance of each other. The two admiral ships, namely, the Fortitude, which carried Parker, and the admiral de Ruyter, mounting Zoutman, attacked each other close along side with extreme impetuosity. The other ships imitated them, and soon the action became general. The Dutch had the superiority in weight of metal, and in the aid of frigates, particularly in that of the Charlestown. The rapidity of their evolutions enabled them to act against the whole line, assailing the ships of the enemy in flank. The English, on the other hand, were advantaged by the agility of manoeuvres and a better supported fire. During near four hours, the action was kept up with an equal spirit, and a balanced success. The Dutch stood firm upon every point of their line, and the English redoubled efforts to carry a victory which they deemed it beneath them to relinquish. But the rage of men was constrained to yield to the force of elements. The ships, on the one part as well as on the
other, were so terribly shattered that they were no longer manage- .
able. They floated upon the water, like wrecks, at the discretion of the wind, and their relative distance became at length so great, that it was impossible to renew the engagement. The English received incalculable damage in their masts and rigging. After some hasty repairs, Hyde Parker endeavored to reform his line, in order to recommence the battle, provided Zoutman did not decline it. He attempted to follow him, on seeing him stand for the Texel. But all his efforts were vain. The Dutch ships, however, were in no better condition. During the passage they had now before them, their masts fell one after another ; the leaks were so considerable, that the work of pumps became fruitless. All the captains successively made their admiral signals of distress. The
Holland, of sixty-eight guns, went to the bottom, within thirty leagues of the Texel; the crew had but just time to save themselves, leaving in their precipitation the unhappy wounded to a certain death. The frigates were obliged to take the other ships in tow to enable them to gain the port. The loss of the English in killed and wounded amounted to four hundred and fifty, among whom were several distinguished officers. In the number of the slain was captain Macartney, who commanded the Princess Amelia, of eighty guns. The valor he signalised in the combat honored his last moments; but it was still less astonishing than the intrepidity of his young son. This child, yet but seven years old, remained constantly at the side of his father in the very height of the action; the unfortunate but heroic witness of the stroke which snatched him from his fond affection. Lord Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, knowing that captain Macartney had left a numerous family, and little fortune, adopted this courageous infant. In England, unanimous praises were lavished upon all those who had combated at the Dogger Bank. King George himself, as soon as he knew that admiral Hyde Parker was arrived at the Nore, went to pay him a visit on board of his ship, and expressed to him as well as to all his officers, the high sense he entertained of their valiant conduct in this bloody rencounter. But the old seaman, irritated against the board of admiralty, who, in giving him so inadequate a force, had frustrated him of an occasion for signalising himself by a great victory, told the king, with the blunt freedom of his profession, that he wished him younger officers and better ships; that for his own part, he was become too old to serve any longer. In defiance of the solicitations of the sovereign, of the courtiers and of the ministers, he persisted in his resolution, and immediately tendered his resignation. The government and public were no less forward, in Holland, to acknowledge the services of the officers and men who, in the action of the fifth of August, had sustained the ancient renown of the flag of the United Provinces. The stadtholder, in the name of the StatesGeneral, addressed public thanks to rear-admiral Zoutman, apprising him at the same time of his promotion to the rank of vice-admiral. The captains Dedel, Van Braam, and Kindsburghen, were created rear-admirals. The same honor, and particular regrets were conferred upon the count de Bentinck, who was put ashore mortally wounded. He had displayed equal skill and gallantry in the command of the Batavia. The loss of the Dutch in killed and wounded was greater than that of the English. Such was the issue of the naval battle of Doggers Bank, the best conducted, and the best fought of all this war. It would be impossible to decide who came off with the advantage; but it is certain that the Dutch, having been constrained to regain their ports for the purpose of refitting, found themselves under the necessity of abandoning their design, which had been to repair to the Baltic. This disappointment, however, did not prevent the nation from cherishing new hopes; the glorious recollection of past times revived in every breast. As soon as the count de Guichen had reentered the port of Brest, the French government began to frame new designs. It was not ignorant that the count de Grasse, who commanded the West India fleet, must soon stand in need of supplies and reenforcements, both of ships and troops. Naval stores are extremely scarce in that quarter, and the nature of the climate and of the waters is singularly prejudicial to ships, which get out of condition there with an incredible rapidity. The forces which had been sent thither in this and the preceding campaign might appear sufficient to execute the plans which had been formed in favor of the United States, and against the more feeble of the British islands. But in order to attempt the expedition of Jamaica, to which Spain was continually stimulating her ally, it was requisite to have recourse to more formidable armaments, as well by land as by sea. The court of Versailles was also aware that the state of affairs in the East Indies required that fresh forces should be sent thither, and moreover that the want of arms and munitions of war began to be felt with urgency. Orders were therefore given for the immediate equipment, at Brest, of a convoy laden with all the necessary articles. Reenforcements of troops were prepared for embarkation, and the armament was pushed with extraordinary activity. As soon as it was in readiness, the count de Guichen put to sea at the head of the great fleet, and the marquis de Vaudreuil with a particular squadron. The convoys destined for the two Indies sailed under their protection. After having escorted them till they were out of danger from the fleets upon the watch in the ports of England, the count de Guichen was to stand to the south, in order to join the Spanish squadron in the port of Cadiz. The object of their combined action was to intercept the succours which the English might attempt to send to Minorca. As to the marquis de Vaudreuil, his destination was to conduct the reensorcements of troops to the West Indies, and to unite with the count de Grasse, who was making dispositions in concert with the Spaniards for the attack of Jamaica. For a long time there had not issued from the ports of France convoys so numerous and so richly laden with stores of every denomination. The news of these immense preparations soon found its way to England; but strange as it must seem, the ministers were not informed of the force of the formidable equadrons that were to escort the transports. They consequently directed admiral Kempenfeldt to put to sea with twelve ships of the line, one of fifty guns, and four frigates, in order to cut off the French convoys. But the count de Guichen had nineteen sail of the line; and Kempenfeldt, instead of taking, ran great risk of being taken.
In defiance of all probabilities, chance did that which human prudence could not have brought to pass. The twelfth of December, the weather being stormy, and the sea rough, the British admiral fell in with a French convoy. He had the good fortune to be to windward of the fleet of escort, which for that reason could not act. The Englishman profited with great dexterity of so savorable an occasion, he captured twenty vessels, sunk several, and dispersed the rest. He would have taken more of them if the weather had been less thick, the sea more tranquil, and the number of his frigates greater. Night came on ; the two admirals had rallied their ships. Kempenfeldt sailed in company during the whole night, with intent to engage the enemy at break of day. He knew not, however, what was his force. When the morning came, he discovered it to leeward, and finding it so superior to his own, he changed his plan. Not willing to lose by imprudence what he had acquired by ability, or a benign glance of fortune, he made the best of his way towards the ports of England, where he arrived in safety with all his prizes. The number of his prisoners anounted to eleven hundred regular troops, and six or seven hundred seamen. The transports were laden with a considerable quantity of artillery, arms and military stores. The provisions, such as wine, oil, brandy, flour, biscuit, salt meats, &c. were not in less abundance. But this loss was still but the commencement of the disasters of the French fleet. It was assailed, the following day, by a furious tempest accompanied with continual thunder and lightning, and a most impetuous wind from the southwest. The greater part of the ships were obliged to recover the port of Brest, in the most deplorable condition. Only two ships of the line, the Triumphant and the Brave, with five or six transports, were able to continue their voyage. This event had the most afflicting consequences for France; she had not only to regret armaments and munitions of immense value, but also the precious time consumed in the reparation of the ships of war. Six whole weeks elapsed before it was possible for them to make sail anew for the West Indies. This delay, as we shall see, was extremely prejudicial to the French arms in that part.
Whilst the war was thus prosecuted in Europe with varied success, the count de Grasse sailed prosperously towards Martinico. To accelerate his voyage, he had caused his ships of war to tow the transports. Such was his diligence that he appeared in sight of that island with an hundred and fifty sail, thirty days only after his departure from Brest. Admiral Rodney was promptly informed of the approach of the French admiral. He saw very clearly the importance of preventing the junction of this new fleet with the squadrons already existing in the ports of Martinico and of St. Domingo. The count de Grasse brought with him twenty ships of the line, with one of fifty guns, and seven or eight others awaited him in the ports