Page images
PDF
EPUB

1781. ufe by thofe whofe precaution led them to ftore up their hard money, will prevent the mischiefs that muft otherwife have enfued from a total want of a circulating medium. The extraordinary change of this medium without fhaking the United States to the very foundation, intimates a peculiarity in the circumstances and difpofition of the Americans, diftinguishing them from the inhabitants of old countries.

A few detached particulars remain to be related before the prefent letter is forwarded.

On the 11th of Auguft, 3000 German troops arrived at New York from Europe. The fame day the American frigate Trumbull was carried in by one of the king's fhips. This capture has reduced the naval force of the United States to two frigates, the Alliance and the Deane. A number of fine privateers have alfo been taken by the royal navy; but there are ftill a great many from the different ftates which have been very fuccefsful.

By various channels, and particularly the arrival of a French frigate from Breft on the 15th of Auguft, certain advice has been received of the French having captured a number of fhips from Statia. It feems, that France determining to profit from the abfence of the British grand fleet, equipped 7 or 8 fhips of the line at Brest, which were fent out in the beginning of May, under M. de la Motte Piquet, in order to intercept the Statia convoy, freighted with the most valuable commodities taken at that ifland, as well as a rich fleet on its way home from Jamaica. Mr. Piquet fucceeded in the first part of the defign. Commodore Hotham had only four fhips for the protection of the Statia con

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

voy. Fourteen of the merchantmen were taken: but 1781,
the men of war, with the remainder of the convoy,
fheltered themselves in fome of the western ports of -
Ireland. The French commander confidering the num-
ber and richness of the prizes, gave up all views upon
the Jamaica fleet, and returned immediately to Breft,
by which mean he escaped falling in with the British
fquadron. We have learned, that the fale of the prizes
was advertised in France for the roth of July laft.

On the 25th of Auguft, another French frigate arrived in Bofton, with two large veffels under her con voy. They were on their paffage 36 days longer than the frigate which arrived on the 15th. They have brought clothing, military ftores, and a quantity of fpecie. Col. Laurens returned by this conveyance. He reached France by the middle of March, and executed his commiffion with great dispatch and fuccefs.

LETTER V.

Rotterdam, October 13, 1781.

FRIEND G.

Com

Ommodore Johnstone's fquadron, which failed for the Eaft Indies, confifted of a 74, a 64, and three 50 gun fhips, befide feveral frigates, a bomb vessel, fire fhip, and fome floops of war. A land force, com

L 2

manded

1781. manded by gen. Meadows, and compofed of three new regiments of 1000 each, accompanied it. Several outward bound East Indiamen, and store or ordnance veffels, went out with this convoy; and the whole fleet, including tranfports and armed fhips, amounted to more than 40 fail. The Dutch war undoubtedly occafioned a change of the object of the armament, and the subftitution of an attempt upon the Cape of Good Hope, instead of an enterprise against the Spaniards in South America. This change did not escape the penetration of France and Holland. The latter therefore applied to her new ally for affistance, to ward off the danger to which all her Eaft India poffeffions would be exposed, if Johnstone fucceeded. On that a fquadron of five ships of the line, and fome frigates, with a body of land forces, were deftined to this service, under Mr. de Suffrein, who failed from Breft in company with count de Graffe. The naval part of the armament was ultimately defigned to oppose the British fleet in the Eaft Indies: but Suffrein's particular inftructions were to purfue and counter-act Johnstone, upon every occasion and in every poffible manner, keeping at the fame time a constant eye to the effectual protection of the Cape. The court of Verfailles was accurately informed of Johnstone's force, and of all the circumftances attending the convoy; and might not be totally ignorant of his course, any more than of his deftination.

Commodore Johnstone put into the Cape de Verd islands for water and fresh provifions. There being no particular apprehenfion of an enemy, the ships lay without much care or order, in an open harbour belonging to the principal town of St. Jago, the most confiderable

[ocr errors][merged small]

of the islands. A great number of the crews were ab-1781. fent from the fhips, and were engaged in various occupations, neceffary to the preparation or fupply of fo many veffels for fo long a voyage. Several officers and men were on shore partaking of the health and recreation of the island. In this unprepared ftate, the Ifis April man of war difcovered in the morning a fquadron ap- 16. proaching the entrance of the harbour, which was foon judged to be French. Signals were inftantly thrown out for unmooring, for recalling the people on fhore, and preparing for action. The British fleet was taken at a great difadvantage. Mr. de Suffrein, leaving his convoy, was foon in the centre of it; the French fhips firing on both fides as they paffed. The French Hannibal of 74 guns led the led the way with great intrepidity, under the command of Mr. de Tremingnon. When as near to the British as he could fetch, he dropped his anchor with a noble air of refolution. The Heros of the fame force, Mr. de Suffrein's own fhip, took the next place; and the Artefien of 64, anchored aftern of the Heros. The Vengeur and Sphynx, of 64 guns each, ranged up and down as they could through the crowd of fhips, and fired on either fide at every one they paffed. Commodore Johnstone's own fhip, being too far advanced toward the bottom of the bay, and too much intercepted by the veffels that lay between to take an active part in the action, he quitted her and went on board another. The engagement lafted about an hour and a half. Some time after it began, feveral of the Eaft India fhips fired with good effect on the French. In about an hour the fituation of the French fhips at anchor became too intolerable to be endured; and the captain of the Artefien L. 3 being

1781. being killed, fhe cut her cable, and made the best of her way out. Suffrein deferted by his fecond aftern, found the danger fo great that he followed the example. The Hannibal was now left alone to be fired at by every fhip whofe guns could be brought to bear on her, while she herself was fo injured, that her returns were slow and ineffective. She loft her bowfprit and all her mafts, and remained a mere hulk upon the water. She however joined the other fhips at the mouth of the bay; was towed off and affifted in erecting jury mafts. The commodore purfued, but the damage fuftained by the Ifis, the nature of the winds and currents, with the latenefs of the day, concurred in preventing his renewing the engagement. The French bore away no trophy of the action. Confidering the clofeness of it, the fmoothnefs of the water, with the number and crowded fituation of the fhipping, the lofs of men was very fmall.

May

The British fleet failed from St. Jago, and toward 2. the middle of June, the commodore dispatched capt. Pigot, with fome of the beft failing frigates and cutters, toward the fouthern extremity of Africa, to gain intelligence if poffible of the state of the enemy in that quarter, with inftructions to rejoin him at a given point of latitude and longitude. Pigot fell in with and took a large Dutch Eaft India fhip, from Saldanha bay near the Cape. She was laden with stores and provifions, had on board 40,000l. in bullion, and was bound for the ifle of Ceylon. From her the commodore learned, that Suffrein, with five fhips of the line, moft of his tranfports, and a confiderable body of troops, had arrived at the Cape on the 21ft of June; and that feveral homeward bound Dutch Eaft India fhips were then at anchor

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »