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above mentioned. Rodney had only twenty-one ships of the line. It is true, that Hyde Parker had four others at Jamaica. But besides their being thought necessary to the defence of the island, they were to leeward of the principal fleet, and consequently it would have been next to impracticable for them to join it. Under these considerations Rodney sent the two admirals Hood and Drake with seventeen ships to cruise before the entrance of Fort Royal harbor, in Martinico, whither he knew the count de Grasse had bent the course of his voyage. It is quite difficult to explain the motives which induced the British admiral to establish this cruise under Fort Royal ; his fleet was there liable to fall to leeward, and thus to be compelled to leave between itself and the land a free passage for the French fleet into the port. A station more to windward, off the point of Salines, seemed proper to obviate these inconveniences. It was written, that Hood, who was a man of great skill in naval affairs, had made remonstrances on the subject of these dispositions; but that Rodney, whose character was headstrong, had dismissed him with an order to obey punctually. The event soon demonstrated that the station of the point of Salines would have been more suitable than that of Fort Royal. The twentyeighth of April, at evening, the count de Grasse appeared off that point, with the most magnific display of force. Admiral Hood was immediately apprised by his frigates of the appearance of the French. He instantly formed his line of battle and bore down upon the enemy. His intention was to press to windward in order afterwards to approach so near the coasts of Martinico as to prevent the French from passing between his ships and the land. Night came on during this manoeuvre. At daybreak the English discovered the fleet of the count de Grasse, standing along the coast in the best order. His convoy of transports defiled behind the line of battle which he presented to the enemy. All his efforts were exerted to double the Diamond Rock, which once past, nothing could prevent his entrance into the port. The English being to leeward, were not able to prevent the four ships of the line, with that of fifty guns, in Fort Royal harbor, from coming out to join the great fleet. This junction carried the forces of the count de Grasse to twenty-six sail of the line ; and gave him a decided superiority over Hood, although that admiral was joined, at the same time, by a ship of seventy-four guns, which came from St. Lucia. The English, however, persuading themselves that a part of the French ships were merely armed in flute, took confidence and again bore down upon their adversaries. The French admiral, mindful to save his convoy, and reposing on his force, neither sought nor shunned an engagement. As soon as the English were within long shot of the French, the fire commenced on both sides. It was supported thus, at a great distance, for about three hours, with heavy damage to the first, and very little to the second. During the n
action the convoy entered the bay of Fort Royal. Disengaged from this care, the French advanced in order to engage the enemy in close fight. The English, on the contrary, began to retire, but in good order. Their ships being coppered, had such a superiority in point of sailing, that it became impossible for the count de Grasse to come up with them. Besides, the French rear guard not having crowded all sail, there had resulted such an opening between it and the remainder of the fleet, that admiral Hood was near profiting of it to cut the line. The count de Grasse perceived it in time, and filled up so dangerous a void. He continued to pursue the English for two days, and afterwards came to anchor in Fort Royal. Admiral Hood had gained Antigua ; his ships, the Centaur, the Russell, the Torbay and the Intrepid, were excessively damaged in this engagement. Admiral Rodney was still at St. Eustatius, much occupied with the sale of the immense booty he had made, when he learned that the count de Grasse, after having obtained an advantage over sir Samuel Hood, was safely moored at Fort Royal. He perceived that it was time to think of something besides his mercantile interests, and that the exertion of all his force was required of him if he wished to maintain himself in the West Indies. He accordingly directed the promptest dispositions, and hastened with three ships and a body of troops to rejoin admiral Hood at Antigua. His plan was, to put to sea again immediately, in order to oppose the designs of the enemy, who, not content with his first successes, appeared to meditate others, and more considerable. The French, in effect, lost no time; they were disposed to profit of the advantages which they had now secured themselves. Aster having attempted, though without effect, to surprise St. Lucia, they proceeded with all expedition to attack the island of Tobago. M. de Blanchelande debarked the first, at the head of sixteen hundred men. He seized Scarborough and the fort which defended it; general Ferguson, the governor, had little over four hundred regular troops; but they were supported by a greater number of militia, well trained, and much attached to England. These sentiments were common to all the inhabitants of Tobago. The governor, finding himself too weak to defend the coasts, withdrew into the interior of the island, to a post called Concordia. From this losty situation, the sea is discovered on the right and on the left; an important advantage for being promptly apprised of the approach of succours. The marquis de Bouille disembarked soon after, with a reenforcement of three thousand men. He made his junction with M. de Blanchelande under the walls of Concordia, which was then closely invested. At the same time, the count de Grasse appeared in sight of the island with twenty-four ships of the line, to prevent its being relieved. Governor Ferguson, as soon as he found himself attacked, had despatched a swift sailing vessel to Rodney WOI.. II. 46
with the intelligence, and a request for prompt assistance. Rodney had already passed from Antigua to Barbadoes. Whether he believed the assailants more feeble, and the besieged more strong, than they really were, or that he was not apprised of the sailing of the French admiral with all his fleet for Tobago, instead of repairing with all his own to the relief of that island, he contented himself with sending admiral Drake thither with six sail of the line, some frigates, and a body of about six hundred troops. Drake approached Tobago; but seeing the enemy in such force, he relinquished the enterprise and hastened to regain Barbadoes. The count de Grasse pursued him, but could not prevent his reaching that island in safety, and advising admiral Rodney of the critical state of affairs. Meanwhile, the governor of Tobago was hard pressed. The French having taken possession of different heights which overlooked Concordia, he determined to retreat to a post on the Main Ridge, where a few huts had been built, and some provisions and ammunition previously lodged for the purpose. The garrison was already arrived at Caledonia, and thus occupied the road or path which leads to the post which they had in view. This road is so narrow and difficult that a few men might defend it against a whole army. The marquis de Bouille had reflected, that time and the nature of his enterprise did not admit of the lingering process of a regular siege. It was evident, however, that if the British governor should intrench himself in those inaccessible positions, the reduction of the island would require a series of operations as protracted as perilous. It would moreover prove an obstacle to the execution of ulterior designs. Finally, it was to be presumed that Rodney could not long delay to appear. Under these considerations, the marquis de Bouille thought proper to resort to more expeditious means than are usually employed in war. Departing from the accustomed lenity of his character, perhaps through irritation at the obstinacy of the islanders, and perhaps, also, from resentment for the late transactions at St. Eustatius, he sent to apprise the governor that he should begin with burning two habitations and two sugar plantations. His menaces were immediately accomplished. They were followed by that of consigning twice as many to the same fate, at the commencement of every four hours, until the island was laid waste or that a surrender should be made. The inhabitants, convinced that perseverance was total ruin, were in no disposition to wait the slow approach of succours which the precipitate retreat of Drake rendered hourly more uncertain. They began to murmur ; and very soon, to negotiate for conditions with the French general. Governor Ferguson at length perceived the impossibility of controlling events. He observed a manifest discouragement in his regular troops themselves, and felt that the moment of capitulation was come. He obtained honorable terms, and similar to those which the marquis de Bouille, naturally generous towards his vanquished enemies, had granted to the inhabitants of Dominica. These transactions took place in the early part of June. Admiral Rodney appeared shortly after in view of the island with all his armament. But, on intelligence of its surrender, and at sight of the imposing force of the count de Grasse, he avoided an engagement, and returned to Barbadoes. In this manner, the French availing themselves with equal sagacity and promptitude of their naval superiority in the West Indies, both galled their enemies at sea, and deprived them of a rich and well fortified island. These operations, however, were still but a part of the plan formed by the French government, and committed to the care of the count de Grasse. The instructions of that admiral enjoined him, after having attempted all those enterprises which the season should admit of in the West Indies, to repair with all his force to the coasts of America, and there to cooperate with the French troops and those of Congress, to the entire extirpation of the British power in those regions. Washington and Rochambeau awaited his arrival, in order to commence the work. Already, by means of swist sailing vessels, they had concerted the plan of their combined action, after their junction should have taken place. It was hoped by the republicans that besides his fleet, the French admiral would furnish five or six thousand land troops, munitions of war and provisions, and especially money, of which the Americans, and the French themselves, experienced the greatest penury. Finally, they pressed him to show himself promptly, as well to support their efforts as to prevent the arrival of British reenforcements. The count de Grasse was personally stimulated by these important considerations. His imagination offered him a vivid perspective of the glory to be acquired by achieving what the count d'Estaing had attempted in vain, namely, the finishing of the American war by a decisive stroke. He accordingly made sail from Martinico sor Cape Francois, in the island of St. Domingo. He was constrained to tarry there some time, to take on board the troops and military stores destined for the continent. But he exerted himself in vain to procure the needed funds. He was joined, in that anchorage, by five ships of the line. All his preparations being completed, he sailed, the fifth of August, and commenced with escorting his numerous convoy till out of danger. Afterwards, having touched at the Havannah for money, which the Spaniards readily furnished him, he directed his course with a favorable wind sor the Chesapeake. His fleet, composed of twenty-eight sail of the line and several frigates, carried three thousand regular troops, with every kind of succour; and might be considered as the great hinge upon, which the fortune of the war, at least in America, WaS to turn.
On the other hand, admiral Rodney, who followed with an attentive eye the movements of the count de Grasse, saw the importance of taking a decisive resolution. He instantly detached admiral Hood to the coast of America with sourteen sail of the line to join admiral Graves, and counteract the designs of the enemy. Being himself in feeble health, he set sail for England with some ships, much out of condition, and a large convoy. Rodney was censured with extreme asperity for the counsels taken by him about that time; and some even made him responsible for the sinister events which ensued shortly after. His adversaries contended, that if he had sailed with all his force, and without delay, in quest of the French admiral, had touched at Jamaica, in order to make his junction with the squadron of Hyde Parker, and then had proceeded to the coasts of North America, the count de Grasse would at least have found himself compelled to relinquish his projects, if not exposed to a defeat. “Instead of adopting this measure,” said they, “the only one that suited the occasion, Rodney, by returning to England with a part of the heaviest ships of his fleet, has reduced it to an alarming slate of weakness, and abandoned the field of battle to the enemy.
“It is a capital error thus to have divided the armament into several little squadrons, as leaving some ships at the leeward islands, where the French have not lest one, and detaching three others to Jamaica, which nobody thought of attacking, and, finally, sending sir Samuel Hood with an unequal and insufficient force to America. Is it possible to be too much astonished that our admiral has chosen to fritter away his force into small parts, at the very moment when the French assembled all theirs upon a single point * The world may see what are the effects of this fatal resolution, it has already cost but too many of England's tears.” Rodney nevertheless sound defenders. “The admiral's return to Europe,” they answered, ‘was rather constrained by the state of his health, than decided by his choice. The ships he has brought with him are in such a worn out state, that they could not have been repaired in the West Indies. The French admiral having under his protection a rich and numerous convoy, it was fairly to be presumed that he would not have left it to pursue its homeward voyage without a respectable escort. It was even to be supposed that he would have sent the greater part of his fleet along with the merchantmen to France, and that he would only have retained those ships which were in condition to undergo the American service. But independent of that circumstance, the force sent to America under sir Samuel Hood, when combined with that of admiral Graves, would have been perfectly adequate to sustain the brunt of the whole French fleet. But what has Graves done * Instead of keeping his squadron entire and together in the port of New York, he preferred to fatigue himself in a fruitless cruise before Boston, until the bad weather which he met had disabled the greater