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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 commanders of the combined fleets had received in- 1781.
The count de Guichen is said to have contended
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,
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 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.
1781. the English are suffered once to recover the country,
such an opportunity of effectual operation may not occur