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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence.
“The qualities displayed by Lord Howe during this short campaign rose to the full height of the mission which he had to fulfil.  This operation, one of the finest in the War of American Independence, merits a praise equal to that of a victory.  If the English fleet was favoured by circumstances,—­and it is rare that in such enterprises one can succeed without the aid of fortune—­it was above all the Commander-in-Chief’s quickness of perception, the accuracy of his judgment, and the rapidity of his decisions, that assured success.”

To this well-weighed, yet lofty praise of the Admiral, the same writer has added words that the British Navy may remember long with pride, as sealing the record of this war, of which the relief of Gibraltar marked the close in European and American waters.  After according credit to the Admiralty for the uniform high speed of the British vessels, and to Howe for his comprehension and use of this advantage, Captain Chevalier goes on:—­

“Finally, if we may judge by the results, the Commander-in-Chief of the English fleet could not but think himself most happy in his captains.  There were neither separations, nor collisions, nor casualties; and there occurred none of those events, so frequent in the experiences of a squadron, which often oblige admirals to take a course wholly contrary to the end they have in view.  In contemplation of this unvexed navigation of Admiral Howe, it is impossible not to recall the unhappy incidents which from the 9th to the 12th of April befell the squadron of the Count de Grasse....  If it is just to admit that Lord Howe displayed the highest talent, it should be added that he had in his hands excellent instruments.”

To quote another French writer:  “Quantity disappeared before quality.”

[Footnote 133:  That is, with a great part of her guns dismounted, and below as cargo.]

[Footnote 134:  Chevalier, following La Motte-Picquet’s report, ascribes Howe’s escape to greater speed. ("Mar.  Fran. en 1778,” p. 335.) It must be noted that Howe’s object was not merely to escape eastward, up Channel, by better sailing, but to get to the westward, past the allies, a feat impracticable save by a stratagem such as is mentioned.]

[Footnote 135:  Chevalier, “Mar.  Fran, dans la Guerre de 1778,” p. 358.]



The operations in India, both naval and military, stand by themselves, without direct influence upon transactions elsewhere, and unaffected also by these, except in so far as necessary succours were intercepted sometimes in European waters.  The cause of this isolation was the distance of India from Europe; from four to six months being required by a fleet for the voyage.


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The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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