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were kept on board, Hotham's convoy arrangements being left as they were. On the morning of December 12th the entire force sailed again, the main changes in it being in the chief command, and in the addition of Barrington's two ships of the line. On the afternoon of the 13th the shipping anchored in the Grand Cul de Sac, an inlet on the west side of Santa Lucia, which is seventy miles east-north-east from Barbados. Part of the troops landed at once, and seized the batteries and heights on the north side of the bay. The remainder were put on shore the next morning. The French forces were inadequate to defend their works; but it is to be observed that they were driven with unremitting energy, and that to this promptness the British owed their ability to hold the position.
Three miles north of the Cul de Sac is a bay then called the Carenage; now Port Castries. At its northern extremity is a precipitous promontory, La Vigie, then fortified, upon the tenure of which depended not only control of that anchorage, but also access to the rear of the works which commanded the Cul de Sac. If those works fell, the British squadron must abandon its position and put to sea, where d'Estaing's much superior fleet would be in waiting. On the other hand, if the squadron were crushed at its anchors, the troops were isolated and must ultimately capitulate. Therefore La Vigie and the squadron were the two keys to the situation, and the loss of either would be decisive.
By the evening of the 14th the British held the shore line from La Vigie to the southern point of the Cul de Sac, as well as Morne Fortune (Fort Charlotte), the capital of the island. The feeble French garrison retired to the interior, leaving its guns unspiked, and its ammunition and stores untouched, — another instance of the danger of works turning to one's own disadvantage. It was Barrington's purpose now to remove the transports to the Carenage, as a more commodious harbour, probably also better defended; but he was prevented by the arrival of d'Estaing that afternoon. "Just as all the important stations were secured, the French colours struck, and General Grant's headquarters established at the Governor's house, the Ariadne frigate came in sight with the signal abroad for the approach of an enemy." 1 The French fleet was seen soon afterwards from the heights above the squadron.
The British had gained much so far by celerity, but they still spared no time to take breath. The night was passed by the soldiers in strengthening their positions, and by the Rear-Admiral in rectifying his order to meet the expected attack. The transports, between fifty and sixty in number, were moved inside the ships of war, and the latter were most carefully disposed across the mouth of the Cul de Sac bay. At the northern (windward) 2 end was placed the Isis, 50, well under the point to prevent anything from passing round her; but for further security she was supported by three frigates, anchored abreast of the interval between her and the shore. From the Isis the line extended to the southward, inclining slightly outward; the Prince of Wales, 74, Barrington's flagship, taking the southern flank, as the most exposed position. Between her and the Isis were five other ships, — the Boyne, 70, Nonsuch, 64, St. Albans, 64, Preston, 50, and Centurion, 50. The works left by the French at the north and south points of the bay may have been used to support the flanks, but Barrington does not say so in his report.
D'Estaing had twelve ships of the line, and two days after this was able to land seven thousand troops. With such a superiority it is evident that the British would have been
1 Beatson, "Military and Naval Memoirs," iv. 390. 2 Santa Lucia being in the region of the north-east trade winds, north and east are always windwardly relatively to south and west. stopped in the midst of their operations, if he had arrived twenty-four hours sooner. To gain time, Barrington had sought to prevent intelligence reaching Fort Royal, less than fifty miles distant, by sending cruisers in advance of his squadron, to cover the approaches to Santa Lucia; but, despite his care, d'Estaing had the news on the 14th. He sailed at once, and, as has been said, was off Santa Lucia that evening. At daybreak of the 15th he stood in for the Carenage; but when he came within range, a lively cannonade told him that the enemy was already in possession. He decided therefore to attack the squadron in the Cul de Sac, and at 11.30 the French passed along it from north to south, firing, but without effect. A second attempt was made in the afternoon, directed upon the lee flank, but it was equally unavailing. The British had three men killed; the French loss is not given, but is said to have been slight. It is stated that that day the sea breeze did not penetrate far enough into the bay to admit closing. This frequently happens, but it does not alter the fact that the squadron was the proper point of attack, and that, especially in the winter season, an opportunity to close must offer soon. D'Estaing, governed probably by the soldierly bias he more than once betrayed, decided now to assault the works on shore. Anchoring in a small bay north of the Carenage, he landed seven thousand men, and on the 18th attempted to storm the British lines at La Vigie. The neck of land connecting the promontory with the island is very flat, and the French therefore labored under great disadvantage through the commanding position of their enemy. It was a repetition of Bunker Hill, and of many other ill-judged and precipitate frontal attacks. After three gallant but ineffectual charges, led by d'Estaing in person, the assailants retired, with the loss of forty-one officers and eight hundred rank and file, killed and wounded.