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My former letter mentioned the failing of a large 17821

Spanish fleet under Don Joseph Solano. - Capt. Mann of the Cerberus frigate, falling in with it, and rightly judging of its destination, from the course it steered and other circumstances, considered with great propriety, that the public good and the importance of the object should supply the defect of particular orders, and that the limited design of his cruise could not compare with the immediate application of the knowledge he had accidentally acquired. The captain therefore instantly proceeded to the West Indies, to communicate the intelligence to Sir George Rodney, then at Barbadoes. Upon receiving it, Sir George used the utmost diligence in putting to sea, in order to intercept the Spanish feet and convoy before they could join the French, then in Fort Royal bay Martinico. But his views were VOL. IV.

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1780. frustrated through the precaution of the Spanish admin

ral. Don Solano, apprehensive though not informed of
the danger, instead of proceeding to Fort Royal bay,
prudently stopped short on his approach to the nearest
islands; and dispatched a frigate to inform count de
Guichen of his situation, and to require a speedy junc-
tion of the fleets where he then was. The French com-

mander failed directly, with 18 ships of the line, and June

keeping close to leeward of the islands, joined the Spa-
niards under Dominique.

The combined fleets amounted to 36 fail of the line,
which with their united land forces, formed such an ap-
parent superiority, as nothing in those feas or islands
seemed capable of resisting. But the Spanish troops ,
being too much crowded on board their transports, to-
gether with the length of the voyage, the change of cli-
mate and diet, and other circumstances, a moft mortal
and contagious disorder was generated, which first infect-.
ing their own seamen, at length spread, though not en-
tirely with fo fatal an effect, through the French fleet
and land forces. Beside the great mortality on the paf-
fage, the Spaniards landed no less than 1200 fick on
their first arrival at Dominique, and a much greater
number afterward at Guadaloupe and Martinico. Thus
the spirit of enterprise was damped, and some part of
the means taken away. Still the combined forces had
a fufficient superiority to enable them to proceed to of-
fensive operations with the prospect of success. Sir
George Rodney on the junction of the enemies fleets
retired to St. Lucie, where he was equally well situated,
either for pbserving their motions and counteracting, ac-
cording to his ability, their designs on the other islands ;
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or for self-defence should they venture upon an attack. 1780.
But they remained totally inactive in Fort Royal bay till
the 5th of July, when they put to sea in the night, with- July
out making signals or showing lights. Had they im- so
proved their opportunity, Jamaica must undoubtedly
have fallen; but a misunderstanding between the Spa-
nish and French admirals, rendered their junction and
superiority of little importance. Count de Guichen ac-
companied Don Solano as far as St. Domingo, and
then left the Spanish feet to proceed singly to the Ha-
vannah, while he with the French put in at Cape Fran-
çois. Here he remained till a large convoy was col-
lected from the French islands, with which he proceeded
directly for Europe. Sir George Rodney, entertaining
a mistaken apprehension either from his own conjecture
or from information, that de Guichen was bound to
North America in order to join adm. Ternay at Rhode
Inand, had no fooner received certain intelligence of his
departure from Cape François; than he failed himself
with eleven capital ships and four frigates for New York.

The combined fleets in the European seas have been
more successful. A rich and considerable convoy for
the East and West Indies failed from Portsmouth in the
latter end of July, under the conduct of capt. Moutray
of the Ramillies and two frigates: the whole were in-
tercepted on the 9th of August by the combined fleets Aug.
under Don Louis de Cordova. The convoy included, 9.
beside the merchantmen, eighteen victuallers, ftoreships
and transports, destined for the service in the West In-
dies. Five East Indiamen made a part of it, and to-
gether with arms,' ammunition, and a train of artillery,
conveyed a large quantity of naval stores, for the supply

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1780, of the British squadron in that quarter. The East In

dia and fifty West India ships, including those upon governmental account, were taken. The Ramillies, with the frigates, and a few West India ships escaped. Such a prize never before entered the harbour of Cadiz. A British Aleet of near 60 ships led captive by a Spanish squadron, was extremely flattering to a people, to whom naval captures from such an enemy were an unusual spectacle. The appearance of the numerous prisoners rendered the triumph more complete, and made the fight still more singular. They consisted of 1250 seamen, officers included; of 1255 soldiers, and 74 officers; of 149 women; and of 137 passengers of both fexes, among whom were fome married and unmarried ladies of condition. The whole amounted to 2865 perfons. The value of the faleable commodities was great, but the loss of the military and naval supplies was much more considerable, as they could not be replaced in time. Advantageous purchases will undoubtedly be made out of this capture for the service of the Ame

rican army.

The strong appearances of an approaching storm, with which administration was threatened, having subsided ; and every thing going on smoothly and prosperously, there was reason to expect that elections for a new parliament would go greatly in favor of the court.

A dissolution of the present was therefore determined Sept. upon; but the design was kept a profound secret. When

the proclamation for the dissolving of it appeared, it wrought like a thunder clap, with respect to suddennels and surprise, on those who were unacquainted with the design. A new prorogation had taken place within a

few

1.

few days, which served to render the stroke still more 1780. unexpected. The elections went much in favor of the court. One hundred and thirteen new representatives obtained seats in parliament.

Mr. Laurens was taken on his way from congress to Holland, in the beginning of September, on the banks of Newfoundland. A package of papers, when thrown overboard, not finking suddenly, was saved by the boldness and dexterity of a British failor, and most of them were recovered from the effects of the water. On his arrival in England, he was committed upon a charge of Oct. high treason, as a state prisoner to the Tower, under an order signed by the three secretaries of state. He claimed the privileges of his public character, as a commissioner from the United States of America; and declined answering any questions whose tendency he could not immediately perceive, so that little information was obtained from him. But by the medium of his papers the administration came to the knowledge of the eventual treaty of amity and commerce between America and Holland. The papers relating to this business were delivered about the beginning of November to the prince of Orange, who on the 5th laid them before the states of Holland and West Friesland. On the 10th Sir Jofeph Yorke presented to the States General a memorial concerning them. He demanded in the name of the king, his master, not only a formal disavowal of [what was pronounced] fo irregular a conduct, as that which was charged upon the states of Amsterdam, of carrying on a long clandestine correspondence with the American rebels, and of giving instructions and powers for entering into a treaty with those rebels; but also inB3

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