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Norwich............50............ Robert Herbert.
On the 7th, the squadron being still at sea, the admiral delivered his orders to the commodore and captains, appointing the following dispositions for the attack :—“Upon making the land of Porto Bello, and having a fair wind to favour them, and daylight for the attempt, to have their ships clear in all respects for immediate service; and, on the proper signal, to form themselves into a line of battle, as directed ; and being formed, to follow in the same order of battle to the attack, in the manner hereafter directed. And as the north shore of the harbour of Porto Bello is represented to the admiral to be bold and steep, on which, at the first entrance stands Castle de Ferro, or Iron Castie, * Commodore Brown and the ships following him are directed to pass a cable's length distance, giving the enemy, as they move, as warm a fire as possible, both from great guns and musquetry : then Commodore Brown is to steer away for Gloria Castle, and anchor as near as he can to the easternmost part of it, for the purpose of battering down the defences; but so as to leave room for Captain Mayne, in the Worcester, to anchor astern of hiin against the westernmost bastion, and there do the same, and to follow such orders as the Commodore may think proper to give him for attacking the said castle. Captain Herbert, of the Nor. wich, after giving his fire at the Iron Castle, is to push for the castle of St. Jeronimo, lying to the eastward of the towa, and to anchor as near it as he possibly can, and batter it down; and Captain Trevor, in the Stafford, following the Admiral, to come to an anchor abreast of the easternmost part of the Iron ('astle, so as to leave room for Captain Waterhouse, in the Princess Louisa, to anchor astern of him, to batter the westernmost part of the castle, and continue there until the service is com
* Castle de Ferro, or the Iron Castle, was built on a steep rock at the N. E. point of the bay, and Gloria Castle on the opposite side, on an ascent a little nearer the town, which, with Fort Jeronimo, were built by the King of Spain, on account of the importance of the place in trade, after Sir Henry Morgan's expedition, in 1668.
pleted, and make themselves masters of it: the youngest officers to follow the further orders of the elder in the prosecution of the attack ; and if the weather is favourable for it on going in, each ship, besides having its long-boat towing astern, to have its barge alongside to tow the long-boats away, with such part of the soldiers as can conveniently go in them, and to come under the admiral's stern, for his directing a descent with them where he shall find it most proper to order. From the men's inexperience in service, it would be necessary to be as cautious as possible, to prevent hurry and confusion, and a fruitless waste of powder and shot; the captains to give the strictest orders to their respective officers, to take the greatest care that no gun is fired but what they, or those whom they particularly appoint, first see levelled, and direct the discharge of ; and that they shall strictly prohibit all their men from hallooing or making irregular noise, that may only serve to throw them into confusion, till the service be performed, and when they have nothing to do but glory in the victory. Such of the ships as have mortars and cohorns on board are ordered to use them in the attack.”
On the 20th of November the squadron came in sight of Porto Bello, and there being little wind, the admiral made the signal to anchor about six leagues from the shore, lest he should be driven eastward from the harbour. The next morning he plied to windward in line of battle, but the breeze proving easterly, he was obliged to confine his attack to the Iron Castle alone. The Hampton Court, in the van, began the assault with great fury, and was soon assisted by the Norwich and Worcester. To these ships the admiral came up soon after, and kept on so severe a fire, that the Spaniards deserted their batteries, and Hed for security to their ambuscades. This being once perceived, the signal was made for landing, and so promptly obeyed, that in a few minutes the seamen and troops were safely debarked in the front of the ene. my's lower battery, with the loss of only two soldiers. As a substitute for scaling ladders, one inan set himself close to the wall under an embrasure, whilst another climbed upon his shoulders, and entered the fort under the mouth of a great gun; daring means, by which, in a very few minutes, the Spanish flag was quickly seized, and the British colours hoisted in its place on the platform. The Spaniards in the castle, struck with consternation at the boldness of the assailants, hung out the white flag, and surrendered at discretion. On the following day the Castles of St. Jeronimo and Gloria capitulated with honourable conditions, and the British forces were put in full possession of Porto Bello and its dependencies.
The loss sustained in killed and wounded did not exceed twenty men, of which three were killed and five wounded on board Vernon's ship. The intelligence of this important conquest, effect. ed with unprecedented ease and expedition, was received in England with the liveliest emotions of joy: both houses of Parliament voted their thanks to the admiral for his conduct, and the Corporation of London presented him with the freedom of the city in a gold box. The name of Vernon excited a degree of enthusiasm unparalleled on any other occasion; medals were struck in his honour, and his effigy was displayed throughout the kingdom.
In his conduct towards the vanquished foe, the admiral was as distinguished for his humanity, as he had been for bis gallantry in attacking them. The soldiers and seamen were strictly prohibited from plundering the inhabitants of the town; and, to reward their merit, he distributed among them 10,000 dollars, which had been sent to Porto Bello, for the payment of the garrison, a few days before the place fell into the hands of the English. As it had never been the intention of government to retain Portu Bello, which from its unhealthiness was termed by the Spaniards the grave of the new world, the admiral directed the ordnance found in the castles and fort to be spiked and destroyed, except forty pieces of brass cannon, ten field-pieces, four mortars, and eighteen patteraroes, all of the same metal, which were taken on board the fleet, and held as trophies of the victory, on account of their intrinsic value. The fortifications were then biown up, and completely ruined, that the place might no longer afford an asylum to the guarda costos, whose chief point of rendezvous it had been for a series of years, to annoy the British commerce in that quarter by incessant depredations. These different services performed, the admiral sailed from Porto Bello on the 13th of December, and shortly afterwards arrived in safety at Jamaica.
Having refitted his ships, Vernon, anxious of an opportunity of again distinguishing himself, sailed from Port Royal on the 25th of February, 1740, and on the 1st of March, made the highlands of St. Martha, on the Spanish main, whence he bore away for Carthagena. On the 3d, in the evening, he ane chored with his squadron before the town, in nine fathom water, in the open bay called Playa Granda. On the 6th he began a bombardment; and in three days discharged about three hundred and fifty bombs, which destroyed several edifices, and did considerable damage to the town; but the force he had with him being inadequate to a regular attack, he bore away with the fleet to Porto Bello. Having repaired his damages, and completed the water of his squadron, the next object of his attack was the Castle of Chagre, situate at the entrance of the river of that name, a few leagues distant from Porto Bello. He passed up with the tide, on the 13th of the month, and spent only two days in bombarding the castle, when it surrendered at discretion, and he blew up the fortifications. The plate, merchandize, &c., which were of great value, were taken on board the squadron, and on the 30th he returned to Porto Bello, and thence to Jamaica, where the fleet lay for some time inactive, being in want of stores and supplies from Europe.
The easy reduction of Porto Pello determined the government at home to send out such a reinforcement to the West Indies as should enable Vernon to attack the most formidable of the Spanish settlements in the New World. A fleet consisting of twenty-five sail of the line, under the command of Rear-admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle, with a proportionate number of frigates, and a large body of transports, having on board upwards of ten thousand land forces, was accordingly dispatched from England to his support. The military were conducted by Lord Cathcart, a nobleman of high character and great military experience, but who died, unhappily for the expectations of his country, soon after his arrival in the West Indies. The vacant rank thus devolved on General Wentworth, an officer without judgment or experience, and utterly unqualified for the important post of a commander-in-chief. His armament joined Admiral Vernon, at Jamaica, on the 9th of January, 1741, and the force under his direction then amounted to thirty-one sail of the line.
With this fleet, the most powerful that had ever been collected in the American seas, he sailed from Jamaica on the 28th of January. The first object was to proceed off Port Louis, in the island of Saint Domingo, in order to ascertain the strength and intentions of a French squadron, which was supposed to be at anehor in that harbour, and against which the admiral thought it necessary to be on his guard, as he had strong reason to be. lieve the disposition of the French cabinet was unfavourable to the interests of Great Britain. Arrived off the isle of Vache, about two leagues from Port Louis, on the 12th of February, he learnt that the French squadron had sailed for Europe, in great distress for provisions, and with a dreadful mortality raging through the crew. The receipt of this intelligence led to a council of war, composed of Admirals Vernon and Sir Chaloner Ogle, and Generals Wentworth and Guise, in which it was resolved that, after having taken in water and wood in Tiberoon Bay, they should proceed to Carthagena, on which place they resolved to make a vigorous attack both by sea and land.
The fleet anchored on the 4th of March in Playa Granda Bay, where Vernon made the necessary dispositions for landing the troops and conducting the attack, and issued bis instructions to the rear-admiral and captains of the squadron. On the 9th, the admiral, with his own division, and that of Sir Chaloner Ogle, followed by all the transports, got under weigh, and brought to under the fort of Bocca Chica, which defends the entrance of the harbour. The following description of Carthagena will probably render an account of the operations which took place against it more intelligible. Carthagena la Neuva, or New Carthagena (so called to distinguish it from Carthagena in Old Spain), lies south of Jamaica, on the continent of Spanish America, to the east of the gulf of Darien, in lat. 10°. 26. N. long. 75 W. Its foundations were only laid in 1532, and in about eight years it became a stately, rich, and well-inhabited city. It has one of the noblest basins, or harbours, in the world, being some leagues in circumference, and land-locked on all sides. The entrance is defended by the strong castle of Bocca Chica, and three lesser forts. Between this harbour and the town run two necks of land, on which are the strong fortresses of Castillo Granda, and fort Manzanella, which defend the lesser harbour that touches on to the town. There is, likewise, fort St. Lazar, which protects the town on the land side, and though the sea beats against the walls, there can be no approach to them, in consequence of the formidable violence of the surf, save directly through the harbours already described. The first successes of the assailants promised a speedy and honourable termination of their enterprize. In less than an hour the enemy were driven