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and 83 wounded. The French had 30 killed; the number of their wounded is put by Professor Laughton at 100.
On the 12th of March Hughes returned to Madras, and towards the end of the month sailed again for Trincomalee carrying reinforcements and supplies. On the 30th he was joined at sea by the Sultan, 74, and the Magnanime, 64, just from England. Suffren had remained on the coast from reasons of policy, to encourage Hyder Ali in his leaning to the French; but, after landing a contingent of troops on the 22d of March, to assist at the siege of the British port of Cuddalore, he put to sea on the 23d, and went south, hoping to intercept the Sultan and Magnanime off the south end of Ceylon. On the 9th of April he sighted the British fleet to the south and west of him. Hughes, attaching the first importance to the strengthening of Trincomalee, had resolved neither to seek nor to shun action. He therefore continued his course, light northerly airs prevailing, until the 11th, when, being about fifty miles to the north-east of his port, he bore away for it. Next morning, April 12th, finding that the enemy could overtake his rear ships, he formed line on the starboard tack, at two cables' intervals, heading to the westward, towards the coast of Ceylon, wind north by east, and the French dead to windward (A, A). Suffren drew up his line (a) on the same tack, parallel to the British, and at 11 A.m. gave the signal to steer west-south-west all together; his vessels going down in a slanting direction (bb'), each to steer for one of the enemy. Having twelve ships to eleven, the twelfth was ordered to place herself on the off side of the rear British, which would thus have two antagonists.
In such simultaneous approach it commonly occurred that the attacking line ceased to be parallel with the foe's, its van becoming nearer and rear more distant. So it was here. Further, the British opening fire as soon as the leading French were within range, the latter at once hauled up to reply. Suffren, in the centre, wishing closest action, signalled them to keep away again, and himself bore down wrathfully upon Hughes to within pistol-shot; in which he was supported closely by his next ahead and the two next astern. The rear of the French, though engaged, remained too far distant. Their line, therefore, resembled a curve, the middle of which — four or five ships — was tangent to the British centre (B). At this point the heat of the attack fell upon Hughes's flagship, the Superb, 74 (C, d), and her next ahead, the Monmouth, 64. Suffren's ship, the Heros, having much of her rigging cut, could not shorten sail, shot by the Superb, and brought up abreast the Monmouth. The latter, already hotly engaged by one of her own class, and losing her main and mizzen masts in this unequal new contest, was forced at 3 P.m. to bear up out of the line (m). The place of the Heros alongside the Superb was taken by the Orient, 74, supported by the Brillant, 64; and when the Monmouth kept off, the attack of these two ships was reinforced by the half-dozen stern chasers of the Heros, which had drifted into the British line, and now fired into the Superb's bows. The conflict between these five ships, two British and three French, was one of the bloodiest in naval annals; the loss of the Superb, 59 killed and 96 wounded, and of the Monmouth, 45 killed and 102 wounded, equalling that of the much larger vessels which bore the flags of Nelson and Collingwood at Trafalgar. The loss of the three French was 52 killed and 142 wounded; but to this should be added properly that of the Sphinx, 64, the Monmouth's first adversary: 22 killed and 74 wounded. At 3.40 P.m., fearing that if he continued steering west he would get entangled with the shore, Hughes wore his ships, forming line on the port tack, heading off shore. The French also wore, and Suffren hoped to secure the Monmouth, which was left between the two lines; but the quickness of a British captain, Hawker, of the Hero, ran a tow-rope to her in time, and she was thus dragged out of danger. At 5.40 Hughes anchored, and Suffren did the same at 8 P.m. The total British loss in men on this occasion was 137 killed and 430 wounded; that of the French 137 killed, and 357 wounded.
The exhausted enemies remained at anchor in the open sea, two miles apart, for a week, repairing. On the 19th of April the French got under way and made a demonstration before the British, inviting battle, yet not attacking; but the condition of the Monmouth forbade Hughes from moving. Suffren therefore departed to Batacalo, in Ceylon, south of Trincomalee, where he covered his own convoys from Europe, and flanked the approach of his adversary's. Hughes, on the 22d of April, got into Trincomalee, where he remained till June 23d. He then went to Negapatam, formerly a Dutch possession, but then held by the British. There he learned that Suffren, who meanwhile had captured several British transports, was a few miles north of him, at Cuddalore, which had surrendered to Hyder Ali on April 4th. On the 5th of July, at 1 P.m., the French squadron appeared. At 3 P.m. Hughes put to sea, and stood south during the night to gain the wind, — the south-west monsoon now blowing.
Next morning, at daylight, the French were seen at anchor, seven or eight miles to leeward. At 6 A.m. they began to get under way. One of their sixty-fours, the Ajax, had lost her main and mizzen topmasts in a violent squall on the previous afternoon, and was not in the line. There were therefore eleven ships on each side. The action, known as that of Negapatam, began shortly before 11, when both fleets were on the starboard tack, heading south-south-east, wind southwest. The British being to windward, Hughes ordered his fleet to bear up together to the attack, exactly as Suffren