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anchored so close to the shore that it was impossible to pass within her, or, with the prevailing wind, even to reach her, because of a point and shoal just outside, covering her position. From her the line extended in a west-north-west direction to the fifteenth ship, — the Barfleur, 98, Hood's flagship, — when it turned to north, the last six ships being on a north and south line. These six, with their broadsides turned to the westward, prevented a column passing from south to north, the only way one could pass, from enfilading the main line with impunity. The latter covered with its guns the approach from the south. All the ships had springs on their cables,enabling them to turn their sides so as to cover a large arc of a circle with their batteries.
At daylight on the following morning, January 26th, the ships began changing their places, the French being then seven or eight miles distant in the south-south-east. At 7 A.m. they were seen to be approaching in line of battle, under a press of sail, heading for the British van. The Canada, which had begun at 5 A.m. to tackle her 200-odd fathoms of cable, was obliged to cut, whereby "we lost the small bower anchor and two cables with one 8-inch and one 9-inch hawsers, which were bent for springs." The ship had to work to windward to close with the fleet, and was therefore ordered by the Rear-Admiral to keep engaging under way, until 10.50, when a message was sent her to anchor in support of the rear. The action began between 8.30 and 9 A.m., the leading French ship heading for the British van, seemingly with the view of passing round and inside it. Against this attempt Hood's precautions probably were sufficient; but as the enemy's vessel approached, the wind headed her, so that she could only fetch the third ship. The latter, with the vessels ahead and astern, sprung their batteries upon her. "The crash occasioned by their destructive broadsides was so tremendous on board her that whole pieces of plank were seen flying from her off side, ere she could escape the cool concentrated fire of her determined adversaries." 1 She put her helm up, and ran along outside the British line, receiving the first fire of each successive ship. Her movement was imitated by her followers, some keeping off sooner, some later; but de Grasse in his flagship not only came close, but pointed his after yards to the wind,2 to move the slower. As he ported his helm when leaving the Barfleur, this brought these sails aback, keeping him a still longer time before the British ships thrown to the rear. "In this he was supported by those ships which were astern, or immediately ahead of him. During this short but tremendous conflict in that part of the field of battle, nothing whatever could be seen of them for upwards of twenty minutes, save de Grasse's white flag at the main-topgallant masthead of the Ville de Paris, gracefully floating above the immense volumes of smoke that enveloped them, or the pennants of those ships which were occasionally perceptible, when an increase of breeze would waft away the smoke." * distant shots; but no serious encounter took place. Interest was centred on Brimstone Hill, where alone on the island the British flag still flew. De Grasse awaited its surrender, flattering himself that the British would be forced then to put to sea, and that his fleet, increased by successive arrivals to thirty-two of the line, would then find an opportunity to crush the man who had outwitted and out-manoeuvred him on January 25th and 26th. In this hope he was deceived by his own inaptness and his adversary's readiness. Hood was unable to succour Brimstone Hill, for want of troops; the French having landed six thousand men, against which the British twenty-four hundred could effect nothing, either alone or in cooperation with the garrison, which was but twelve hundred strong. The work capitulated on the 13th of February. De Grasse, who had neglected to keep his ships provisioned, went next day to Nevis and anchored there to empty the storeships. That evening Hood called his captains on board, explained his intentions, had them set their watches by his, and at 11 P.m. the cables were cut one by one, lights being left on the buoys, and the fleet silently decamped, passing round the north end of St. Kitts, and so towards Antigua. When de Grasse opened his eyes next morning, the British were no longer to be seen. "Nothing could have been more fortunately executed," wrote Lord Robert Manners, "as not one accident happened from it. Taking the whole in one light, though not successful in the point we aimed at, nevertheless it was well conducted, and has given the enemy a pretty severe check; and if you give him half the credit the enemy does, Sir Samuel Hood will stand very high in the public estimation."
Though most gallantly done, no such routine manoeuvre as this could shake Hood's solidly assumed position. The attempt was repeated in the afternoon, but more feebly, and upon the centre and rear only. This also was ineffectual; and Hood was left in triumphant possession of the field. The losses in the several affairs of the two days had been: British, 72 killed, 244 wounded; French, 107 killed, 207 wounded. Thenceforth the French fleet continued cruising to leeward of the island, approaching almost daily, frequently threatening attack, and occasionally exchanging
•White, "Naval Researches."
2 Sharp up by the starboard braces, the wind being on the starboard quarter. This emptied the aftersails of wind, neutralizing their effect, and, by causing the ship to move more slowly, kept her longer abreast an anchored opponent.
3 White, "Naval Researches."