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termined the transference of British troops and ships from the continent to the Leeward Islands. Reinforcements had given the British fleet in America a numerical superiority, which for the time imposed a check upon d'Estaing; but Byron, proverbially unlucky in weather, was driven crippled to Newport, leaving the French free to quit Boston. The difficulty of provisioning so large a force as twelve ships of the line at first threatened to prevent the withdrawal, supplies being then extremely scarce in the port; but at the critical moment American privateers brought in large numbers of prizes, laden with provisions from Europe for the British army. Thus d'Estaing was enabled to sail for Martinique on the 4th of November. On the same day there left New York for Barbados a British squadron, — two 64's, three 50's, and three smaller craft, — under the command of Commodore William Hotham, convoying five thousand troops for service in the West Indies. Being bound for nearly the same point, the two hostile bodies steered parallel courses, each ignorant of the other's nearness. In the latitude of Bermuda both suffered from a violent gale, but the French most; the flagship Languedoc losing her main and mizzen topmasts. On the 25th of November one of Hotham's convoy fell into the hands of d'Estaing, who then first learned of the British sailing. Doubtful whether their destination was Barbados or Antigua, – their two chief stations, - he decided for the latter. Arriving off it on the 6th of December, he cruised for forty-eight hours, and then bore away for Fort Royal, Martinique, the principal French depot in the West Indies, where he anchored on the 9th. On the 10th Hotham joined Barrington at Barbados. Barrington knew already what he wanted to do, and therefore lost not a moment in deliberation. The troops

* The French accounts say three.

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WAR of AMERICAN INDEPENDENGE : 101 o'

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 Carénage; now Port Castries. At its northern ex-
tremity 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 Fortuné (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 turn-
ing to one's own disadvantage. It was Barrington's purpose
now to remove the transports to the Carénage, as a more com-

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modious 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.”" 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) * 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 south-
ward, 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.

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