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2781. of which carried, 110 guns each) to join the Spanish

fleet and support the invasion. The not endeavouring to intercept this feet, or at least to prevent a junction so full of danger, occasioned great complaint against the British admiralty, especially the first lord of that department. The combined feets failed from Cadiz, with about 10,000 Spanish troops, before the end of July. The French had been reinforced by several ships of the line. The Spanish fleet amounted to about 30 fail of the line under Don Lewis de Cordova. The army

effected its landing at Minorca without opposition on the Aug. 20.

20th of August; and was soon joined by six regiments from Toulon, under major gen. count de Falkenhayn, deemed one of the best officers in the French service. The garrison was weak, and consisted only of two British and two Hanoverian regiments. But it was commanded by lieut. gen. Murray and major gen. Şir William Draper.

The combined fleets, after seeing the trocys safe into the Mediterranean, returned to cruise at the mouth of the British channel. No intelligence of this naval manouvre was obtained, nor was the design suspected by the British ministry, ,until the combined fleets were in the chops of the channel, and had formed a line from Ushant to the isles of Scilly, in order to bar its entrance: so that adm. Darby, who was then at sea with only 21 ships of the line, was on the point of falling in with them, when the accidental meeting of a neutral vessel

afforded him notice of their situation. In these unex24 pected circumstances he returned to Torbay, where he

moored his squadron across the entrance, while he waited for instructicns from the admiralty. As soon as

the

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the commanders of the combined fleets had received in- 1781.
telligence of Darby's position, and of the inferiority of
his force in point of number, a council of war was
held, on the question of attacking him. They were
under orders to fight, if the occasion offered : but the
instructions were thought not to reach the present case,
which would be an attack on the British squadron in a
bay on their own coasts. Under this change of circum-
stances, it was supposed, that they were left at large, to
the free exercise of their own judgment.

The count de Guichen is said to have contended
strongly for an immediate attack. He argued, that if
by good fortune and the valor of the combined navies,
along with the powerful aid of fireships, the British fleet
was destroyed, the power of Great Britain on the seas
would be at an end, and the war decided by the blow.
Don Vincent Doz, the third of the Spanish commanders,
supported this opinion. He aserted, that the destroy-
ing of Darby's fleet was very practicable, and that it
would be difficult to excuse their not making the at-
tempt; and to give the greater weight to his sentiments,
he boldly offered to command the van squadron, and to
lead on the attack in his own ship.

On the other hand, Mr. de Beausset, the next in command under Guichen, said " All the advantage which the allies derive from their superiority of force and number, will be entirely loft by an attack upon admiral Darby's feet in the present situation ; for we cannot bear down upon him in a line of battle abreast; of course we must forin the line of battle a-head, and go down upon the enemy singly, by which we shall run the greatest hazard of being shattered and torn to pieces,

before

1

1781. before we can get into our stations, by the fixed aim

and angular fire in every direction, of such a number of great and well-provided ships, drawn up to the greatest advantage, and lying moored and steady in the water. I conclude therefore, that as the attempt on the British feet in Torbay will, in my opinion, be unwarrantable in the design, and exceedingly hazardous in the execution, the allied fleets should direct their whole attention to that grand and attainable object of intercepting the English homeward bound West India fleets.” Don Louis de Cordova, with all the Spanish flag officers, .except Doz, coincided entirely with him in opinion, fo that the idea of attacking Darby in Torbay was abandoned.

Mean while a great alarm was spread in Ireland as well as Britain, with respect to the apprehended designs of the enemy. Not only the great outward bound feet for America and the West Indies was supposed to be in imminent danger then in the open harbour of Corke ; but the city itself, being totally unfortified and at the same time stored with immense quantities of provision. The regular forces of the kingdom were therefore ordered to the southward for the protection of that city and coast; and the patriotic volunteers, who had gained so much honor in supporting and reclaiming the liberties of their country, Thowed no less patriotism in their immediate offer to government of taking the field, and of marching wherever their services should be necessary for its defence. They had perfected themselves in the military exercise, and had been reviewed in several places by the earl of Charlemont.

Admiral

Admiral Darby remained at Torbay; but was soon 17816 reinforced by several fhips from different ports, till his squadron was increased to 30 fail of the line, with whichi he was ordered to fea with the utmost expedition, for the preservation of the expected West India convoy. The delay however of waiting for the reinforcement and instructions in the first instance, and contrary winds afterward, detained the fleet till the 14th of September, notwithstanding the urgency of the occasion. Before it failed, the combined feets had separated. They were in exceeding bad condition. In the first outset they were poorly manned, the Spanish particularly. Beside a great mortality, which had prevailed during the whole cruise, and a prodigious number of fick in both fleets, a confiderable majoricy of the ships were scarcely capable of living at sea in a violent gale. The hard weather therefore that came on in the beginning of September frustrated all their views; fo that abandoning all hopes of intercepting the British convoys, they were glad to get into port as soon as posible. The French fleet re

Sept. turned to Brest the irth of September, and the Spanish 11. proceeded directly home.

The present shall close with extracts from some curious letters To Mr. Vergennes. Passy, Feb. 13, 1781. “ I am grown old, and it is probable I shall not long have any more concern in these affairs. I therefore take occasion to express my opinion to your excellency, that the present conjun&ture is critical ;-that there is some danger left the congress should lose its influence over the people, if it is unable to procure the aids that are wanted, and that the whole system of the new government in America may thereby be shaken ;--and that if VOL. IV.

M

the

March 12,

1781. the English are suffered once to recover the country,

such an opportunity of effectual operation may not occur
again in the course of ages.”. To
1781. “ To give the states a signal proof of his friend-
ship, his majesty has resolved to grant them the sum of
fix millions [of livres) not as a loan, but as a free gift.
The sum was intended for the supply of the army, and
it was thought best to put it into the general's (Wash-
ington's] hands, that he should draw for it, that it might
not get into those of the different boards or committees,
who might think themfelves under a necessity of divert-
ing it to other purposes. There was no room to dispute
on this point, every donor having the right of qualify-
ing his gift with such terms as he thinks proper.-The
minister proceeded to inform me, that the courts of
Petersburgh and Vienna had offered their mediation. It
was not doubted, that congress would readily accept the
proposed mediation, from their own sense of its being
useful and necessary.- I have passed my seventy-fifth
year.” [Soon after this was written, col. Laurens ar-
rived, which gave occasion for mentioning] July 26,
1781. With regard to the six millions given by the
king in aid of our operations for the present campaign,
before the arrival of Mr. Laurens, 2,500,000 of it went
in the same ship with him in cash--2,200,000 were or-
dered by him and are thipped—1,500,000 was sent to
Holland to go in the ship commanded by capt. Gillon.”

LET:

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