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tion of the two fleets, thus produced, caused firing to cease at 1 P.m.
The enemies were now ranged on parallel lines, some distance apart; still on the starboard tack, heading north-north west. Between the two, but far astern, the Cornwall, Grafton, Lion, and a fourth British ship, the Fame, were toiling along, greatly crippled. At 3 P.m., the French, now in good order, tacked together (t, t, t), which caused them to head towards these disabled vessels. Byron at once imitated the movement, and the eyes of all in the two fleets anxiously watched the result. Captain Cornwallis of the Lion, measuring the situation accurately, saw that, if he continued ahead, he would be in the midst of the French by the time he got abreast of them. Having only his foremast standing, he put his helm up, and stood broad off before the wind (c"), across the enemy's bows, for Jamaica. He was not pursued. The other three, unable to tack and afraid to wear, which would put them also in the enemy's power, stood on, passed to windward of the latter, receiving several broadsides, and so escaped to the northward. The Monmouth was equally maltreated; in fact, she had not been able to tack to the southward with the fleet. Continuing north (a'), she became now much separated. D'Estaing afterwards reestablished his order of battle on the port tack, forming upon the then leewardmost ship, on the line BC.
Byron's action off Grenada, viewed as an isolated event, was the most disastrous in results that the British Navy had fought since Beachy Head, in 1690. That the Cornwall, Grafton, and Lion were not captured was due simply to the strained and inept caution of the French admiral. This Byron virtually admitted. "To my great surprise no ship of the enemy was detached after the Lion. The Grafton and Cornwall might have been weathered by the French, if they had kept their wind, . . . but they persevered so strictly in declining every chance of close action that they contented themselves with firing upon these ships when passing barely within gunshot, and suffered them to rejoin the squadron, without one effort to cut them off." Suffren,1 who led the French on the starboard tack, and whose ship, the Fantasque, 64, lost 22 killed and 43 wounded, wrote: "Had our admiral's seamanship equalled his courage, we would not have allowed four dismasted ships to escape." That the Monmouth and Fame could also have been secured is extremely probable; and if Byron, in order to save them, had borne down to renew the action, the disaster might have become a catastrophe.
That nothing resulted to the French from their great advantage is therefore to be ascribed to the incapacity of their Commander-in-Chief. It is instructive to note also the causes of the grave calamity which befell the British, when twenty-one ships met twenty-four,2 — a sensible but not overwhelming superiority. These facts have been shown sufficiently. Byron's disaster was due to attacking with needless precipitation, and in needless disorder. He had the weather-gage, it was early morning, and the northeast tradewind, already a working breeze, must freshen as the day advanced. The French were tied to their new conquest, which they could not abandon without humiliation; not to speak of their troops ashore. Even had they wished to retreat, they could not have done so before a general chase, unless prepared to sacrifice their slower ships. If twenty-four ships
1 Pierre A. de Suffren de Saint Tropez, a Bailli of the Order of Knights of Malta. Born, 1726. Present at two naval actions before he was twenty. Participated in 1756 in the attack on Port Mahon, and in 1759 in the action off Lagos. Chef d'escadre in 1779. Dispatched to the East Indies in 1781. Fought a British squadron in the Bay of Praya, and a succession of brilliant actions with Sir Edward Hughes, 1782-83. Vice-Admiral, 1783. Killed in a duel, 1788. One of the greatest of French naval officers. — W. L. C.
2 Troude says that one French seventy-four, having touched in leaving port, was not in the engagement.
could reconcile themselves to running from twenty-one, it was scarcely possible but that the fastest of these would overtake the slowest of those. There was time for fighting, an opportunity for forcing action which could not be evaded, and time also for the British to form in reasonably good order.
It is important to consider this, because, while Keppel must be approved for attacking in partial disorder, Byron must be blamed for attacking in utter disorder. Keppel had to snatch opportunity from an unwilling foe. Having himself the leegage, he could not pick and choose, nor yet manoeuvre; yet he brought his fleet into action, giving mutual support throughout nearly, if not quite, the whole line. What Byron did has been set forth; the sting is that his bungling tactics can find no extenuation in any urgency of the case.
The loss of the two fleets, as given by the authorities of either nation, were: British, 183 killed, 346 wounded; French, 190 killed, 759 wounded. Of the British total, 126 killed and 235 wounded, or two thirds, fell to the two groups of three ships each, which by Byron's mismanagement were successively exposed to be cut up in detail by the concentrated fire of the enemy. The British loss in spars and sails — in motive-power—also exceeded greatly that of the French.
After the action d'Estaing returned quietly to Grenada. Byron went to St. Kitts to refit; but repairs were most difficult, owing to the dearth of stores in which the Admiralty had left the West Indies. With all the skill of the seamen of that day in making good damages, the ships remained long unserviceable, causing great apprehension for the other islands. This state of things d'Estaing left unimproved, as he had his advantage in the battle. He did, indeed, parade his superior force before Byron's fleet as it lay at anchor; but, beyond the humiliation naturally felt by a Navy which prided itself on ruling the sea, no further injury was done.
In August Byron sailed for England. Barrington had already gone home, wounded. The station therefore was left in command of Rear-Admiral Hyde Parker,1 and so remained until March, 1780, when the celebrated Rodney arrived as Commander-in-Chief on the Leeward Islands Station. The North American Station was given to ViceAdmiral Marriot Arbuthnot, who had under him a halfdozen ships of the line, with headquarters at New York. His command was ordinarily independent of Rodney's, but the latter had no hesitation in going to New York on emergency and taking charge there; in doing which he had the approval of the Admiralty.
The approach of winter in 1778 had determined the cessation of operations, both naval and military, in the northern part of the American continent, and had led to the transfer of five thousand troops to the West Indies, already noted. At the same time, an unjustifiable extension of British effort, having regard to the disposable means, was undertaken in the southern States of Georgia and South Carolina. On the 27th of November a small detachment of troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell, sailed from Sandy Hook, convoyed by a division of frigates commanded by Captain Hyde Parker.2 The expedition entered the Savannah River four weeks later, and soon afterwards occupied the city of the same name. Simultaneously with this, by Clinton's orders, General Prevost moved from Florida, then a British colony, with all the men he could spare from the de
1 First of the name. Born 1714. In 1780, he fell under Rodney's censure, and went home. In 1781, he commanded in the general action with the Dutch, known as the Dogger Bank. In 1782, he sailed for the East Indies in the Cato, 64; which ship was never again heard from.
2 Sir Hyde Parker, Kt. Second of the name, son of the first. Born, 1739. Captain, 1763. Rear-Admiral, 1793. Vice-Admiral, 1794. Admiral, 1799. Died, 1807. Nelson's chief at Copenhagen, in 1801.
fence of St. Augustine. Upon his arrival in Savannah he took command of the whole force thus assembled.
These operations, which during 1779 extended as far as the neighbourhood of Charleston, depended upon the control of the water, and are a conspicuous example of misapplication of power to the point of ultimate self-destruction. They were in 1778-79 essentially of a minor character, especially the maritime part, and will therefore be dismissed with the remark that the Navy, by small vessels, accompanied every movement in a country cut up in all directions by watercourses, big and little. "The defence of this province," wrote Parker, "must greatly depend on the naval force upon the different inland creeks. I am therefore forming some galleys covered from musketry, which I believe will have a good effect." These were precursors of the "tin-clads" of the American War of Secession, a century later. Not even an armored ship is a new thing under the sun.
In the southern States, from Georgia to Virginia, the part of the Navy from first to last was subsidiary, though important. It is therefore unnecessary to go into details, but most necessary to note that here, by misdirection of effort and abuse of means, was initiated the fatal movement which henceforth divided the small British army in North America into two sections, wholly out of mutual support. Here Sir William Howe's error of 1777 was reproduced on a larger scale and was therefore more fatal. This led directly, by the inevitable logic of a false position, to Cornwallis's march through North Carolina into Virginia, to Yorktown in 1781, and to the signal demonstration of sea power off Chesapeake Bay, which at a blow accomplished the independence of the United States. No hostile strategist could have severed the British army more hopelessly than did the British government; no fate could have been more inexorable than was its own perverse will. The personal alienation and official