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admiral would not risk the loss of any of his convoy, by renew* ing the engagement. '. <ii
• Sir George Rodney was appointed to the chief command iu the West-Indies, and had orders to proceed in his way thither* with a strong squadron to the relief of Gibraltar, which had; been so closely blockaded by the Spaniards ever since the commencement of hostilities between them and the British, that the garrison was reduced to considerable distress, as well with respect %o provisions as to military and garrison stores. After being a few days at sea, he fell in with a considerable convoy bound from St. Sebastian to Cadiz, consisting of 15 sail of merchantmen, un» der the guard of a 64 gun ship, 4 frigates from 26 to 32 guns* and two smaller armed vessels. The whole fleet [Jan. 8.] wai •taken. The capture was exceedingly fortunate, much the greater .part of the vessels being laden with wheat, flour, and other pro. vision, the remainder with bale-goods and naval stores. The admiral sent the former to Gibralter, the latter to Great-BrjLfcin. About a week after [16.] he fell in with a Spanish squadron of eleven ships of the line under Don Juan Langara, off Cape St. Vincent. The enemy being much inferior in force, endeavoured to avoid an engagement. On that Sir George threw out the signal for a general chase, with orders to engage as the ships came up by rotation, taking at the same time the lee gage,^ prevent the enemy's retreat into their own ports. The engagement was begun by the headmost ships about four o'clock in the evening: their fire was returned by the Spaniards with great spirit and resolution. The night was dark, tempestuous and dismal, and the fleet being nearly involved among the. sholes of St. Lucar, rendered the aspect more terrible. Early in the action, the Spanish ship San Domingo, of TO guns and 600 men blew up, and all on board perished. The action and pursuit continued till two in the morning, when the headmost of the enemy's.line struck to Sir George. The Spanish admiral's ship of 80 guns, with three of 70, were taken, and carried safely into port. The San Julian of 70, commanded by the marques de Medina, was taken;. the officers were shifted, and a lieutenant with 70 British seamen put on board ;. but by running on shore the victors became prisoners. Another ship of the same force was also taken, and a£ierward totally lost by running upon the breakers. Two jnore ©scaped greatly damaged, and two less so into Cadiz.
The Spanish admiral behaved with the greatest gallantry. He was himself sorely wounded; and before he struck to capt. Macbride, his ship the Phoenix was nearly a wreck. A malignant kind of small-pox prevailing on bpard the Bienfaisant, capu
Macbride, that humane and brave officer, disdaining to convey infection even to an enemy, and perhaps considering the peculiar terror with which it is regarded by the Spaniards,, and the general ill aspect it bears to that people, acquainted Don Langara with the circumstance and hisown feelings upon that subject; and at the same time offered (that so the danger which would attend shifting the prisoners might be prevented) to-trust to the admiral's honor, that neither his officers nor men,' amounting to afcove seven hundred, should, incase of separation or otherwise, in any degree interrupt the British seamen sent on board, whether with respect to navigating the ship, or defending ]aer against whatever enemy. The proposal was thankfully-embraced, and the conditions strictly adhered to by the Spanish admiral ; for though there was no other ship but the Bienfaisant insight, and though the sea and weather vvere'exceedingly rough, his people gave every assistance in re-fitting the Phcenix, and in navigating her to the-Bay of Gibraltar- . . ,
■■Ok George having executed his-commission at Gibraltar, pro■teeededaboutthe middle of February to the West-Indies* leaving -the bulk of the fleet, together with the Spanish prizes, on their way to Great-Britain under the conduct of adm. Digby. The Teturning fleet fell in with a considerable French convoy, most «f which escaped,, only the Prothee of 64 guns, and two or-three •Vessels laden with military stores being taken*
The Spanish goven>orof Louisiana, Don Bemardo-de Galvez, •having succeeded in his expedition against the British settlements and forces on the Mississippi, extended his views, and concerted 4i plan with the governor of the Havannah,. in pursuance of which he was to be reinforced early in the present year, by a.considerable embarkation from that place. De Galvez, concluding -that the expected force was on its passage, embarked all the force he could raise, and proceeded on-his expedition under the convoy 'of some small frigates and other armed vessels. After a continued struggle with-adverse and stormy weather, and other impediments for near a month, six ships ran upon a sand bank in '-the channel of the bay of Mobillc, three of which were lost though the crews were sxved. The commander had the-further mortification, on reviewing his troops, to find, that there were about 800 who had been shipwrecked, and had saved only their persons. The greatest part of the whole were naked, and much of the provision, ammunition and artillery was lost. The Span• iards bore their misfortunes with patience ; and instead of shrinking under discouragements, endeavoured to convert their; loss into a benefit, by breaking up their wrecked vessels, and framing out of them ladders and other machines necessary.for an escalade. Those who had preserved their arms, divided them with such as had none, so as to make them the most useful: and they that still remained unarmed, undertook the laborious service of the army.De Galvez had no reason to repent his perseverance. He wasstrengthened by the arrival of four armed vessels from the Havannah, with a part of the regiment of Navarre on board- This arrival, with a quantity of artillery, stores, and various necessaries, afforded a sudden renovation of vigor and life to every thing. The former troops were speedily reimbarked,and after a fresh en-! counter with new storms, difficulties and dangers,, the whole were landed [Feb. 25.] within three leagues of Mcbjlle. Mr. Durn-*. ford, a captain of engeneers, and lieutenant governor of Westrf Florida, commanded the poor garrison, amounting to 284, in* eluding regulars, royalists, artillery men, seamen, 54 inhabitants; and 51 armed negroes. On.the 12th of March the Spaniards opened their battery, consisting of eight 18 and one 24 pounder. By sun-set the garrison hung out a white flag; the capitulation,, however was not signed till the 14th in the morning, when they surrendered prisoners of war. The surrender appeared inevitable;. but was attended with circumstances exceedingly vexatious to the British. General Campbell had marched from Pensacola, (as the Spaniards say) with, 1100 regulars and somcartillery for their relief, and was accompanied by some Indians. The van of Camp.' hell's force was at no great distance from the Spanish camp whenIhe fort was capitulating; and the Spaniards used the utmost precaution and expedition in taking possession of and covering themselves with the works, that they.might be secured against.art attack. De Galvez boasted, that the British forces in. the field and garrison were superior in number,to his own, and serupied not to declare openly, that with the smallest activity and vigor in their works, the garrison might have made good their defence until the arrival of the succour. But it seems as though the lieutenant governor had not, from the beginning, the smallest ide~of any attempt being made for the relief of the place ; and accordingly, on the appearance of the enemy, he considered its loss as a matter of course, and inevitable necessity.:"
Sir George Rodney, arrived at Gross-Islet Bay on the 21th of March. The French admiral de Guichen havingput to sea from Martinico with a fleet of 23 sail of theJine and a 50 gun sliifl, Sir George speedily pursued him with 20 ships of the line aad the Centurion. The French were brought to action [April 11-:^ by some of his headmost ships, a little, before one o'clock ; and about the same hour, he himself, in the Sandwich of VQ guns,
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coaaiMenced the action in the centre. After beating three ships outsoFlihe line, he was at length encountred alone by Mr. do Guichen in the Couronne, of the.same force, suppoited by his' two seconds. The Sandwich sustained the unequal combat for arV hour and a half, when the French commander with his seconds bore away, whereby the French line of battle was totally broke in the centre. The great distance of the British van and rear from their own centre, and the crippled condition of several of their: shipsy and the particlarly dangerous state of the Sandwich, ren-; dered an immediate pursuit impossible. The French took shelter under Guadaloupe, and Sir George his station oft Fort Royal. In his public letter he spoke of de Guichen as a brave and gallant officer, andashaving the honor of being nobly supported during the whole action; but commended none of the British officers, except those of the Sandwich; though it appears from his list> that while the Sandwich had 18 killed and 51 wounded, the Cornwall, captain Edwards, had 21 killed and 49 wounded; the Trident, captain Molloy, had 14 killed and 26 wounded; and the Conqueror, admiral Rowley's ship, captain Watson,' had 13 killed and 36 wounded: captain St. John, of the-intrepid, and' three of his lieutenants were killed, out of seven belonging to said ship. Sir George kept his station for some time,- and then returned to St, Lucia. On receiving fresh intelligence of de Guichen's approach to the windward of Martinico, he put to sea, and got sight of his fleet the 10th of May. The French had it constantly in their power to bring on an engagement, and as constantly avoided it; but in the course of their manoeuvring they had nearly been entangled, and were saved from a close and general action only by a critical shift of the wind; and even with that aid, and all the sails they could carry, their rear was not entirely preserved from conflict about seven in the evening of the 15th. After this they took care to keep at a greater distance. The vigorous efforts of Sir George so involved the fleets on the 19th, that the French, for the preservation of their rear, were under the necessity of hazarding a partial engagement,* by which, having extricated their rear, they-Aore away with all the sail they could possibly press, and got into Martinico. Sir George sent three of his fleet to St. Lucia, and stood with the remainder toward Barbadoes.'
Before the Christmas recess of parliament, the duke of Richmond made a speech on the necessity of-practising the most rigid oeconomy, in order to extricate the country from its many difficulties; which was followed by a motion for an address to his majraty, representing that aconsiderable reduction of his civil listwould be an example well becoming his paternal affection for his
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people, and his own dignity.- The motion was rejected by a majority of more than two to one. This was followed some1 daf* after by a successful motion of lord Shelburn, the purport of which was, to consider of the appointment of a committee for inquiring into the several parts of the public expenditure, as alsoof the reductions or savings that could be made with consistency. In the house of commons Mr. Burke proposed a plan of oeconomy and reform ; and gave notice of his intending to bring it shortly before them, as a business that was become indipensable. Schemes of ceconomy and reform were highly adapted to the prevailing taste of the nation as was soon apparent; for during the recess of parliament, the business of public meetings, of petitions to the house of commons, and of associations for the redressJ6f grievances,'was commenced. The adoption of those means for procuring a reform in the executive departments of the stare soon became very general; and the minds of the public again agitated and warmed by these meetings, the views of many persons of no mean weight and consequence were extended still futv ther. They gradually began to consider, that nothing less than? shortening the duration of parliament, and the obtaining a more equal representation of the people, could reach to a perfect'Cut6 of the present, and afford an effectual preservative against the return of similar evils.
The large, populous, and opulent county of York led the way, and set the example to the rest of the kingdom. A very nume-tous and respectable meeting of the gentlemen, clergy and freeholders, including persons of the first consideration and property, was held at the tity of York on the 30th of last December. Thew petition to the house of commons was unanimously agreed upon: and accompanied with a resolution, that a committee of sixty-one gentlemen be appointed to carry on the necessary correspondence ior effectually promoting the object of the petition ; and likewise to prepare a plan of an association on legal and constitutional grounds, to support a laudable reform, and such other measures as may conduce to restore the freedom of paii'ament.
fjan.7.] The counties of Middlesex and i.i 'ts stood forth as 'the seconds of Yorkshire, and adopted similar rn. : "ures. The ex- ample was soon followed by the county palatine ">! Chester; arrd in a close succession of time, by the counties ot Herts, Sussex, Huntingdon, Surrey, Cumberland, Bedford, Essex, Somerset, Gloucester, Wilts, Dorset, Devon, Norfolk, Berks, bucks, Not• tingham, Kent, Northumberland, Suffolk, Hereford, Cambridge, and Derby. The Welsh counties of Denbigh, Flint and Brecknock, likewise petitioned, as did the cities of London, Wcstmin
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