The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence.

Since this account was written, the Navy Records Society has published (1905) a volume, “Fighting Instructions, 1530-1816,” by Mr. Julian Corbett, whose diligent researches in matters of naval history and warfare are appreciated by those interested in such subjects.  The specific “Additional Instructions” quoted by Rodney appear not to have been found.  Among those given prior to 1780 there is none that extends to twenty-one articles.  In a set issued by Rodney in 1782 an article (No. 17, p. 227) is apparently designed to prevent the recurrence of Carkett’s mistake.  This, like one by Hawke, in 1756 (p. 217), prescribes the intended action rather by directing that the line of battle shall not prevent each ship engaging its opponent, irrespective of the conduct of other ships, than by making clear which that opponent was.  Lucidity on this point cannot be claimed for either.]

[Footnote 85:  Lapeyrouse Bonfils, “Histoire de la Marine Francaise,” iii, 132.  Chevalier gives much smaller numbers, but the former has particularised the ships.]

[Footnote 86:  Chevalier, “Marine Francaise,” 1778, p. 185.]

[Footnote 87:  A lee current is one that sets to leeward, with the wind, in this case the trade-wind.]

[Footnote 88:  Chevalier, p. 91.]

[Footnote 89:  Ante, p. 115.]

[Footnote 90:  Beatson, “Military and Naval Memoirs.”]

CHAPTER IX

NAVAL CAMPAIGN IN WEST INDIES IN 1781.  CAPTURE OF ST. EUSTATIUS BY RODNEY.  DE GRASSE ARRIVES IN PLACE OF DE GUICHEN.  TOBAGO SURRENDERS TO DE GRASSE

Rodney, returning to the West Indies from New York, reached Barbados on December 6th, 1780.  There he seems first to have learned of the disastrous effects of the great October hurricanes of that year.  Not only had several ships—­among them two of the line—­been wrecked, with the loss of almost all on board, but the greater part of those which survived had been dismasted, wholly or in part, as well as injured in the hull.  There were in the West Indies no docking facilities; under-water damage could be repaired only by careening or heaving-down.  Furthermore, as Barbados, Santa Lucia, and Jamaica, all had been swept, their supplies were mainly destroyed.  Antigua, it is true, had escaped, the hurricane passing south of St. Kitts; but Rodney wrote home that no stores for refitting were obtainable in the Caribbee Islands.  He was hoping then that Sir Peter Parker might supply his needs in part; for when writing from Santa Lucia on December 10th, two months after the storm, he was still ignorant that the Jamaica Station had suffered to the full as severely as the eastern islands.  The fact shows not merely the ordinary slowness of communications in those days, but also the paralysis that fell upon all movements in consequence of that great disaster.  “The most beautiful island in the world,” he said of Barbados, “has the appearance of a country laid waste by fire and sword.”

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