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the 11th of July, he appeared off Sandy Hook, with twelve sail of the line, and three large frigates, to which Lord Howe could oppose only eleven ships of inferior magnitude, and weight of metal, with some frigates and sloops. These being ranged with great skill in the harbour, the Count after remaining at anchor for eleven days, set sail to the southward or far as the mouth of the Delaware, and then changed his course for Rhode Island, in order to co-operate with General Sullivan in the enterprise against Newport. The approach of the French fleet to this harbour, created the unpleasant necessity of burning the Orpheus, Lark, Juno, and Cerberus frigates, and of sinking the Flora, and Falcon. But this was the only loss resulting from so formidable an invasion.
The dispersion of the fleets occasioned the accidental meeting of single ships, and produced various engagements, which terminated greatly to the honour of British valour, and seamanship. In the evening of the 13th of August, Captain Dawson in the Renown of 50 guns, fell in with the Languedoc of 84 guns, 'V'Estaing's own ship, which had lost her rudder and masts, and had the prospect of effecting so extraordinary a capture, when the appearance of several other ships of the squadron, compelled him to desist. Commodore Hothan in the Preston of 50 guns, fought the Tonnant of 80, the same evening, with some success; but the most brilliant of these contests occurred in the afternoon of the 16th, when the Isis a ship also of 50 guns, commanded by Captain Rayner, was chased by the Cæsar, a French ship of 74, in no way injured by the storm, and after a desperate conflict, which lasted for an hour and a half, the Cæsar sheered off. The Isis had sustained so much damage in her masts, sails, and rigging, that she was incapable of pursuing, but in other respects, she had been but very little injured; only one man was killed, and fifteen wounded; the French ship was so much damaged in her hull, that she was forced to bear away for Boston, and her killed and wounded amounted to fifty, including in the latter, her captain, the celebrated Bougainville, whose arm was shot off in the action. Lord Howe followed his antagonist to Boston,
in the hope of a favourable opportunity of attack, but found the French fleet lying in Nantasket Roads, so well defended by forts and batteries, that he judged it impracticable, and returned to New York, about the middle of September. During his absence, about six more ships of Admiral Byron's squadron had arrived in that port, and as the British naval force was now unquestionably superior to the fleet under D’Estaign, his lordship thought this a proper moment for availing himself of the leave he had before obtained to retire from the American station, on account of his health, and resigning the command of the fleet to Admiral Gambier, took his departure for England.
The projects of D’Estaign being disconcerted in America, he set sail for the West Indies on the 3d of November, to second the operations of the Marquess de Bouille, governor of Martinico, who had already captured the island of Dominique. Eight days after the departure of D’Estaign, Admiral Byron arrived with his fleet. All his proceedings had hitherto been marred by the opposition of the elements. In the voyage from England, whence he had been despatched after the Toulon fleet, his ships were separated in a storm, and many of them reached New York in so shattered a state, that they were not in readiness to proceed to sea till the 18th of October. He then went in quest of D’Estaign, but his ill-fortune still pursued him. Scarcely had he reached the bay of Boston, when on the lst of November, another storm so disabled his fleet, that he was obliged to put back to Rhode Island to refit, which afforded D’Estaign a favourable opportunity of proceeding to the West Indies. So sensible was the French Admiral of the danger of encountering an equality of British naval force, that for six months together, he only ventured twice out of the bay of Fort Royal, and both times hastily returned as soon as Byron's fleet was seen standing towards him. Squadrons were frequently sent to cruise off the mouth of the harbour where the Count lay, and if possible, to provoke him to come out and risk an engagement, but he could not be induced to deviate from his defensive plan.
It may be now necessary to advert to the state of our maritime affairs in Europe. After the delivery of the rescript announcing the treaty between France and the revolted colonies, though war was not formally declared by Great Britain, the most assiduous preparations were made on both sides. At Brest, the utmost vigour of naval equipment seemed to be exerted by the French, while the old device of threatening an invasion, was again resorted to, and large bodies of troops were marched from the interior of the kingdom, to the seacoast bordering on the British Channel. In England also no effort was spared, the militia were called out and embodied, and a British fleet of twenty ships of the line, were cruising in the Channel, before the grand fleet of France was in readiness to come out of Brest harbour.
Admiral Keppel, an officer of distinguished merit and reputation, having been fixed upon to command the Channel fleet, sailed from St. Helen's on the 13th of June, with discretionary powers, as no blow had yet been struck by the enemy, which could bring upon him the direct charge of aggression. At the entrance of the Bay of Biscay on the 17th, the Admiral discovered two French frigates, the Licorne, and the Bellepoule, very intent on taking a survey of his fleet, and on their refusal to obey the signal to bring to, a chase ensued, when the Licorne, after discharging a broadside, struck to the America; the Bellepoule after a warm engagement with the Arethusa, escaped by running on shore, and the Pallas, another French frigate, being discovered reconnoitring, was conducted into the fleet, and detained. From the papers found on board these frigates, Admiral Keppel discovered, that the French fleet in Brest, amounted to thirtytwo sail of the line; he therefore returned to port for a reinforcement. On the 9th of July, he again sailed with twentyfour ships, and was soon afterwards joined by six more. About this time, the French fleet, commanded by Count D'Orvilliers sailed fruin Brest, and letters of reprisal grounded on "the capture of the Pallas and Licorne, were issued by the court of France. The two fleets came in sight of each other on the
afternoon of the 23rd of July, and after manouvring for four successive days, an engagement ensued on the morning of the 27th, which lasted about two hours, the fleets passing on contrary tacks and in opposite directions. As soon as they had cleared each other, and the firing had ceased, the British Admiral wore his ship to return upon the enemy, and threw out a signal for the rest of the fleet to form the line, but observing that some of his ships, disabled in the engagement, had fallen to leeward, and were in danger of being cut off by the enemy, he was in the first place obliged to take measures for their safety. By the manouvres necessary for this purpose, and by the length of time required, for repairing the damages sustained by the ships of the rear division, under Sir Hugh Palliser, the day was so far spent, before they could be again brought into their stations in the line, that nothing now remained, but the expectation of the Commander in Chief, " that the French would fight it out handsomely the next day.” D'Orvilliers put on every appearance of intending to do so, but in the night he quitted his station, ard steered for the French coast, leaving three frigates with lights, to deceive the English Admiral. In the morning, the rearmost of his ships were scarcely discernible, and as their inferiority had been fully demonstrated, both in the action and in their flight, it was a matter of sincere regret, that the attack had not been renewed the preceding evening. A pursuit being deemed useless, Admiral Keppel returned to Plymouth to refit, and then resuming his former station, kept the sea as long as the approaching winter would allow. The Brest fleet, being also refitted, ventured out of Brest, but instead of directing their course, where they were sure of encountering the enemy, they made their way to the southward, where they were as certain of meeting none, and where their cruise, could answer no other purpose than that of parade.
The engagement of the 27th of July, though not altogether a proud day to England, impressed upon the French such a consciousness of their inequality to a renewal of the contest, that they avoided it by loitering about Cape Finisterre, and
abandoning their own coasts, and the bay to the British fleet, by which means the trade to England arrived in security, from the different quarters of the world, whilst the French commerce became a prey to the English cruisers.
But these advantages however, substantial, could not satisfy the public for the neglect of what they thought a favourable opportunity of terminating the war by a single blow. The failure of a complete victory, was by some, attributed to the Commander-in-Chief, for not pushing his success, and by others to Sir Hugh Palliser, for not obeying with all possible promptitude, the signals of his superior officer preparatory to a second attack. Some severe strictures on the Vice Admiral's disregard of orders, having appeared in the public prints, he wrote to Admiral Keppel, requiring from him an express contradiction of such foul aspersions. With this request, the Admiral refused to comply, upon which Sir Hugh Palliser published in one of the morning papers, a statement of particulars relating to the action, with an introductory letter, containing much implied censure on the Commander-inChief. The latter immediately acquainted the first Lord of the Admiralty, that he could never sail, nor act in conjunction with the Vice Admiral of the Blue, until matters were thoroughly explained by that officer. The dispute was inflamed by the indiscreet zeal of the partizans on both sides. It was taken up with great warmth in the House of Lords, on the very first day of the session (November 25th,) and afterwards discussed in the House of Commons with still greater vehemence, both the Admiral and Vice Admiral being present, and taking a share in the debates, when the latter declared, that finding he could not obtain justice by any personal application, and that no public motives could induce the Admiral to bring forward any charge against him, which might afford him an opportunity for the vindication of his character, he had been drawn by necessity, not having a right to demand a trial on himself, in order to repair the injury done to his honor, to lay several articles of accusation against Admiral Keppel, tending to show, as he would hereafter demonstrate,