We were in some measure relieved from this lingering and vexatious situation on the 9th September, by an order then received by Commodore Anson, from the lords justices, to put to sea on the first opportunity, with his own squadron only, if Lord Cathcart should not be ready. Being thus freed from the troublesome company of so large a fleet, our commodore resolved to weigh and tide it down channel, as soon as the weather should become sufficiently moderate, and this might easily have been done by our squadron full two months sooner, had the orders of the Admiralty for supplying us with seamen been punctually complied with, and had we met with none of those other delays mentioned in this narration. Even now, our hopes of a speedy departure were somewhat damped, by a subsequent order which Mr Anson received on the 12th September, by which he was required to take under his convoy the St Albans and the Turkey fleet, and to join the Dragon and the Winchester, with the Straits and American trade, at Torbay or Plymouth, and to proceed with them to sea as far as their way and ours lay together. This encumbrance of convoy gave us some uneasiness, fearing it might lengthen our passage to Madeira: However, having now the command to himself, Mr Anson resolved to tide down channel with the first moderate weather; and, that the junction of the convoy might occasion as little loss of time as possible, he immediately sent directions to Torbay that the fleet he was there to take charge of should be in readiness to join him instantly on his approach. And at last, on the 18th September, he weighed from St Helens, and, though the wind was at first contrary, had the good fortune to get clear of the channel in four days, as will be more particularly related in the ensuing section.
Having thus gone through the respective steps taken in the equipment of this squadron, it must be sufficiently obvious how different an aspect the expedition bore at its first appointment in the beginning of January, from what it did in the latter end of September, when it left the channel, and how much its numbers, its strength, and the probability of its success were diminished by the various incidents which took place in that interval. For, instead of having all our old and ordinary seamen exchanged for such as were young and able, which the commodore was at first promised, and having our complement complete to its full number, we were obliged to retain our first crews, which were very indifferent; and a deficiency of three hundred men in our numbers was no otherwise made up than by sending on board an hundred and seventy men, the greatest part of whom were discharged from hospitals, or new-raised marines who had never been at sea before. In the land-forces allotted to us, the change was still more disadvantageous; as, instead of Bland’s regiment of foot, which was an old one, and three independent companies of an hundred men each, we had only four hundred and seventy invalids and marines,