AN ACCOUNT OF THE EXPEDITION TO CARTHAGENA, &c.
[Price One Shilling.]
See the Plan of the City and Harbour of Carthagena, published in the LONDON MAGAZINE for April 1740; which will serve to give the Readers of this Pamphlet a clearer Idea of its Contents.
THE THIRD EDITION.
Ubi per socordiam vires, tempus, ingenium defluxere, naturae infirmitas accusatur: suam quique culpam actores ad negotia transferunt. SALLUST.
LONDON: Printed for M. COOPER, at the Globe in Pater-noster-Row.
Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Dialect spellings, contractions and discrepancies have been retained. The footnotes are lettered from A to I, K to T and V to Z. Subsequent footnotes repeat the lettering sequence, beginning with an A.
It having been resolved in a general Council of War, held at Spanish Town, to prevent, if possible, the French Fleet joining the Enemy before any Expedition should be undertaken by Land: the Wolf Sloop, Captain Dandridge, was dispatched up to Port Louis, to observe if the Fleet was in that Port: And on the 22d of January, which was the soonest the Fleet could be got ready for the Sea, Sir Chaloner Ogle and his Division sailed out of Port Royal Harbour; and two Days after Mr. Lestock and his Division; and on the Monday following the Admiral with the rest of the Squadron (leaving behind him the Falmouth and Litchfield to bring up the Transports;) but the Land Breeze failing, and a great Swell rolling down, obliged them to anchor at the Keys (where the Augusta drove ashore, and beat off her Rudder, and great part of her Keel.) On the 28th the Admiral weighed Anchor, and plied up to Windward, and the 31st joined Sir Chaloner Ogle and Mr. Lestock with their Divisions off Port Morant, and the Day following was joined by the Falmouth, Litchfield, and Transports. February the 7th the Fleet made Cape Tiberoon on the Island Hispaniola, and off there was joined by the Cumberland, Captain Stewart, from Lisbon, (who had been separated from the Fleet in the Storm the 1st of November) and the next Day the Wolf Sloop came into the Fleet[A] and brought with her a French Sloop. The 13th the Fleet anchored at the Isle of Vache, about two Leagues to the Westward of Port Louis, where they stayed but four Days, having gained Intelligence the French Fleet was divided, and sailed (the Marquis D'Antin and twelve Sail being gone for Old France, and Mr. Rochefieulle and six Sail for Petit Guavas) upon which the Fleet went and anchored in Tiberoon, Donna Maria, and Irish Bays, to Wood and Water; and on the 25th sailed from thence, when the Weymouth, Experiment, and Spence Sloop, were dispatched ahead over to Carthagena, to sound Punta Canoa Bay, for the safer anchoring the Fleet, which arrived there the 5th of March in the Evening; and three Days after the same Ships, together with the Dunkirk, were ordered by the Admiral down off Boccachica, to sound and see if the Fleet might safely anchor there, and how near Ships might come to batter the Forts of St. Philip and St. Jago; and so soon as the Admiral had received the Reports from the Commanders of these Ships, a Council of War was held, wherein it was resolved to send three eighty Gun Ships, the Norfolk, Captain Graves, the Shrewsbury, Captain Townsend, and the Russell, Captain Norris, to batter the Forts abovementioned; the Princess Amelia, Captain Hemmington, to fire against the Fascine Battery, and the Litchfield, Captain Cleveland, against the little Battery of Chamba; (but these two last the Enemy had abandoned) and accordingly the 9th in the Morning they weighed Anchor from Punta Canoa Bay, together with Sir Chaloner Ogle, and the rest of his Division, (he being to command the Attack) and about two Hours afterwards, the Admiral and the rest of the Fleet got under sail: At Noon the Norfolk, Russell, and Shrewsbury began to cannonade the Forts, and in about three Hours time drove the Enemy from their Guns, and obliged them to abandon their Forts[B]: Immediately on this Sir Chaloner Ogle made the Signal for landing the Troops, which was repeated by the Admiral, who was just come to an Anchor, (a little to the Eastward) and about five o'clock in the Evening, a Body of Troops were landed without Opposition; but the General not thinking the Body sufficient, (he landing with them) embarked again in the Boats, and sent for more[C]. About eight o'Clock they landed again, and went and took Possession of the Forts of St. Philip and St. Jago, and about nine the Bomb-ketches were carried in Shore, and began to play on the Castle of Boccachica. The three next Days were spent in landing the remainder of the Forces, the Baggage, &c.[D] and by the 16th all the Cannon, Mortars, and Ordnance Stores were landed[E]. But the principal Engineer not arriving till the 15th, no Spot was pitched upon for raising a Battery[F] against the Enemy, so that the clearing a few Bushes away down by the Water Side, for to pitch their Tents, was all the material Work the Army did for near a Week; and the Enemy was contented to let them be pretty quiet, only now and then firing a Shot, until they opened a Bomb-Battery of four Mortars and some Royals on the 17th[G], and then the Fascine Battery on the Barradera Side annoyed them greatly, and particularly the Camp, so that they were obliged to remove it several Paces off.
[H]This being represented to the Admiral, Orders were given for all Boats of the Squadron to be ready at Midnight (manned and armed) to go to surprize the Barradera Battery, and the Command given to Captain Boscawen[I], in which they happily succeeded, spiked up all the Guns; burnt the Carriages, Platforms, and Guard-house; destroyed the Magazine, and took several Prisoners[K]. The next Morning, as soon as it was Day, the Enemy from Boccachica began to fire warmly at the Bomb-Battery, (as if they were angry at what happened the Night before) though without doing them any particular Damage; and as they were sensible of the Usefulness and advantageous Situation of this Battery, they set busily about repairing some Part of it, and on the 20th had built up some Embrazures and mounted two Guns, and fired them on the Bomb-Battery again, which the Admiral observing, ordered the Rippon, a sixty Gun ship, to go and anchor as near it, as possible, and keep firing on it to prevent the Enemy's working on it any farther[L], so that all the next Day the Army was in a State of Tranquillity, and on Sunday the 22d their grand Battery of twenty Guns being finished, about eight o'Clock in the Morning began to play very briskly on the Castle, as did the Bomb-Battery, and thirty or forty Cohorns and Royals planted on the Platform behind the Cannon[M], which the Enemy returned as briskly from the Castle, the four Ships[N] (Don Blass's in particular) St. Joseph's, and some few Guns from the Barradera, so that the Work was warm on both Sides. On the 23d the Boyne, Suffolk, Tilbury, Prince Frederick, and Hampton Court, were ordered in against Boccachica to cannonade[O]; but the Boyne having anchored so far to Leeward, as to lie exposed to the whole Fire of the Enemy's Ships, and St. Joseph's Battery, was much shattered, and ordered off again that Night. The Prince Frederick and Hampton Court, sharing the Fire of the Enemy, that had been employed against the Boyne, were also much shattered by Morning, when they were likewise ordered to come off; the former having lost her Captain, and both many Men killed and wounded. The Suffolk and Tilbury happening to anchor well to the Northward, lay battering till the next Evening (and with some Success, particularly against the Breach) when the Admiral sent Orders for them to draw off. The Army now began to look on the Breach as accessible, but the Guns in the Barradera Battery, being able to annoy them in their Attack, a Representation thereof was made to the Admiral, who immediately directed the Princess Amelia, Litchfield, and Shoreham, to go in, and anchor as nigh it as possible, and sent the Boats of the Squadron again mann'd and arm'd, under the Command of Captain Watson to destroy it[P], which they did effectually, and with scarce any Opposition; the greatest part of the Guns in Boccachica Castle being now dismounted, the Army thought proper to entertain the Enemy's Ships, by widening five or six Embrazures of their Battery, and playing some Guns on them, which the Ships as civilly returned, 'till Night closed in, and firing ceased on both Sides[Q]. The 25th in the Morning it was discovered, the Enemy had been throwing up some Fascine Works on the Ramparts; however as they had not moved away any Rubbish from the Breach, it was resolved this Evening to attack it by Storm[R], and accordingly soon after Sun-set a Body of Troops marched up and mounted the Breach undiscovered, and quietly took Possession of the Castle, the Enemy flying out at the Gate so soon as they saw the Troops on the Ramparts, and heard their Huzza's. Those aboard their Ships were in the utmost Consternation at such a sudden and successful Event, and with all precipitate Surprize betook themselves to their Boats, setting Fire to one of their Ships, and sinking two others. At the same time the Attack was to be made on the Castle, (in order to divide the Enemy's Forces) the Admiral had given Orders for the Attack of the Castle of St. Joseph by Boats, and sent them away under the Command of Captain Knowles, who took Possession of it about ten a Clock at Night, the Enemy abandoning it after firing some Guns: The Boats afterwards went and took Possession of the Galicia, the Spanish Admiral's Ship, and then went to Work on cutting the Boom[S], and moving the Galicia out of the Channel; and next Morning the Admiral in the Princess Caroline, the Worcester, and some other Ships sailed into the Harbour of Carthagena, and the whole Fleet and Transports continued to sail and warp in as fast as conveniently they could. The Enemy seeing the Admiral and several Ships got into the Harbour, began to expect a Visit at Castillo Grande soon, and as Mancinilla Fort lay opposite to it within Gun-shot, and was not capable of making any great Defence, they thought proper to destroy it, lest we should take Possession of it, and so batter the Castle. On the 28th the Admiral being informed of two small Batteries that guarded the Passa Cavallos[T], sent the Weymouth and Cruiser Sloop to demolish them, and take all the Imbarkations and Canoes that were there; and disposed the Fire-ships and small Frigates round the Harbour, to guard every Pass and Creek, in order to cut off any Supplies going to the Town. On the 30th the Rear-Admiral and several Ships turned up the Harbour, and anchored a small Distance from Castillo Grande, where the Enemy made a Shew of preparing to receive them;[V] and in order to stop the Fleet here, had sunk seven Ships across the Channel, and moored two of their Men of War, the Conquestodore of sixty six Guns, and the Dragon of sixty. The 31st early in the Morning, Captain Knowles observed the enemy's two Men of War sunk, and not perceiving any Men in the Castle went and acquainted Sir Chaloner Ogle, that it was his Opinion the Enemy had abandoned Castillo Grande, who immediately ordered him to weigh Anchor, and run in with his Ship, and fire on it, which he did; and the Castle making no return, he sent his Boats ashore, and took Possession of it, and hoisted the English Flag: And on the Admiral's receiving Intelligence, he ordered a proper Number of Forces to garison it[W]. The next Day Captain Griffin, and Captain Rentone, were sent to see if it was possible to get past the Enemy's Ships they had sunk, and finding the Conquestodore's Stern afloat, the Burford warped up, and cut the Stern Moorings, and hove her round, which opened a fair Channel, and the Bomb-Ketches, and two twenty Gun Ships went through. By this Time the Admiral, and greatest Part of the Squadron, were come up the Harbour. Mr. Lestock and his Division was left at Boccachica, with Orders to reimbark the Forces, and Cannon as fast as possible. The second in the Morning the Bomb-Ketches began to play on the Town, and some of the Guns of Castillo Grande, that were cleared, fired on a French Ship that lay up at the Head of the Harbour[X], upon which the Enemy set fire to her, and she burned the greatest Part of the Day. Next Day the Weymouth getting through the Channel, the Town began to fire on her, but without doing any material Damage. Great Part of the Transports with the Troops being now come up the Harbour, this Night the Weymouth, the three Fire-ships, and the Cruiser Sloop, being designed by the Admiral to cover the landing of the Forces, warped over on the other Side the Harbour undiscovered by the Enemy, who in the Morning, to shew their Resentment, gave them a Salvo of what Cannon fronted that Way; (but firing through the Bushes did no Execution) the Cruiser Sloop drawing but little Water, warped up a Creek, and a Party of the Enemy from a Breast-work they had thrown up, fired smartly on her with their Musketry, but were quickly dislodged, a brisk fire, chiefly with Grape Shot, having been kept all Night to scour the Woods. About 5 o'Clock next Morning, being the 5th, the Forces were landed[Y], and in their marching up from the Waterside had a small Skirmish with some of the Enemy's Troops that had made a Lodgment in the Woods, whom they soon put to Flight; and about a Mile further were attacked a second Time, but the Enemy as soon shewed their Backs again. Finding the Country open hereabouts, the Army did not chuse to make any further Advances, so they pitched on a Place for encamping, and the Evening sent a Party up to La Papa to take Possession of that, if the Enemy had abandoned it[Z]. In the mean while all possible Dispatch was made in landing the Baggage, Provision, Cannon, Ammunition, &c.[A] which the Enemy surprisingly suffered, notwithstanding the landing Place was within reach of the Guns of St. Lazare; yet they fired but seldom, for it appeared afterwards their Attention was more towards their own Safety, (or 'tis certain they might have done a great deal of Mischief;) for whilst the Army were employed, and getting their things ashore, the Enemy were as busy in making a Fascine Battery of four Pieces of Cannon on the Brow of the Hill, and carrying on a Trench (or Line) round the Foot of the Castle, which they completed in a very short Time[B], quicker than the Army could make a Battery only for three Mortars, and throw up a small Breast-work for their Advance Guards. But no Care was yet taken to cut off the Communication between Town and Country[C]. Complaints now began to be made, that the Number of Sick was greatly increased in the Camp; upon which the Admiral immediately supplied them with a Detachment of Lord James Cavendish and Colonel Bland's Regiments, that had remained aboard the Ships as part of their Compliments, and a Body of such Americans as were fit for Duty[D]. Upon this Reinforcement, and the Apprehensions of the rainy Seasons, which were daily expected, on the eighth in the Afternoon a Land Council of War was held [E], wherein it was resolved to attack the Castle and Trenches of St. Lazare, (without first raising a Battery to make a Breach) and to this Resolution the Engineer joined in Opinion[F]. Accordingly on the ninth in the Morning between three and four o'Clock the Attack was made, and maintained very resolutely on both Sides till between six and seven, when the Enemy obliged the Forces to retreat after a considerable Loss of Officers and Men[G]. After the Miscarriage of this Scheme (which was the occasion of the Town's not being taken) the Army sickened surprisingly fast, and those that were killed being esteemed the Flower of the Flock, the General declared he was no longer in a Condition to defend himself, much more to carry on a Siege against the Place, and hoped, if the Admiral (who had ordered the Weymouth to erect a Bomb-Battery, which was finished and played in two Days) expected any Thing to be done, he would order some Ships in to cannonade the Town[H], otherwise desired these Things might be considered in a general Council of War, of Sea and Land Officers, and accordingly on the 15th a Council of War was held, who came to a Resolution (upon the General's Representation of the bad State of the Army)[I], to have the Cannon and Forces reimbarked with all convenient Speed, and the 17th in the Night the Troops were accordingly[K] taken off the Shore.
Nothing remained now but to get the Fleet and Transports ready for Sea, and to demolish the Castles and Fortifications already taken, which last was effectually done by blowing them up, and by the 12th of May the whole Fleet and Forces had taken leave of Carthagena.
In order more fully and clearly to form a Judgment of the foregoing Expedition, it may not be improper to subjoin this Narrative of the Enemy's Situation, Strength, and Disposition at Carthagena, as the Fleet and Forces found them on their Arrival there: And in order to carry it on agreeable to the Advances that were made, begin with a Disposition of Punta Canoa Bay, where the Fleet first anchored. This Bay is about five Miles to the North West of the City of Carthagena, but not an extraordinary good anchoring Place, as the Water is shoal a great Way off the Shore, and the Coast pretty strait, that Ships are not much sheltered with the Point of Land, from the Violence of the Breezes that generally blow. In the Bottom of this Bay is an Entrance into the great Lake of Jesea, (called the Boquilla) where the Enemy had a small Fascine Battery of four Pieces of Cannon, and kept a Guard; but upon the Fleet's Arrival, (and during the Time they continued to lie there) a considerable Number of the Enemy's Forces, both Horse and Foot, kept constantly there, expecting a Descent. The next Place of Note was the Cruizes, where the Enemy kept a Guard ordinarily of a hundred Men: This Place is about half Way from the Boquilla to the Town, and guards a narrow Creek or Pass from the Town to the Lake, called Passa de Juan D'Ingola, through which Supplies come in Canoes from the other Side of the Lake to the Town: As for the City itself, Nature has fortified that against any Attempt by Sea, the Water shoaling near a League off, and the Shore being plentifully bounded with Rocks; besides, the Sea is very seldom smooth, so that it is difficult at all Times landing. However, as the Enemy knew the Bravery of those they had to deal with, they began to wall this Side of the Town, and make a Ravelin in the Middle, there being already a strong Bastion at each End. Bocca Grande being the next Place the Enemy suspected an Attempt might be designed, had posted two of their Men of War, the Conquestodore of sixty six Guns, and the Dragon of sixty to guard it, and began two Fascine Batteries, one on each Point of the Entrance. This Passage, called Bocca Grande, was formerly the principal Entrance into the Harbour, but by Storms, and the Force of the Sea, a Bank was thrown up, which quite closed the Entrance, and then it was called Bocca Serrada; but as strange Revolutions are frequent in these Countries, within these few Years this Passage has broke out again, and there is now nine or ten Foot Water in it. About three Miles below this, on the Island of Terra Bomba, was a small Fort of four Guns, called Battery de Chamba; and half a Mile further, a Fascine Battery of twelve Guns, (both of these the Enemy had abandoned.) The next Places of Defence were the Forts of St. Philip and St. Jago, one of seven Guns, the other of fifteen, which served as Redoubts to the Castle of Boccachica. One of these Forts was built on the Rock Ponti landed on, and probably to prevent any one's landing there again, (especially so easily as he did.) The Castle of Boccachica was the Enemy's chief Dependance, as it guarded the Entrance into the Harbour. It is a regular Square, with four Bastions well built, and was capable of making a stout Defence if well garisoned, and would have been much stronger had the Glacis and Counterscarp been finished. There was mounted in it eighty two Guns, and three Mortars, and the Enemy had cleared three or four hundred Yards of the Woods round it, to prevent Approaches being made undiscovered, (as Ponti did in 1697.) On the other Side the Harbour's Mouth was a Fascine Battery of fifteen Guns, called the Barradera; and in a small Bay a back of that, another Battery of four Guns; and facing the Entrance of the Harbour, on a small flat Island, stood St. Joseph's Fort of twenty one Guns: From this Fort to Boccachica Castle a Boom and Cables were fixed across, fastened with three large Anchors at each End; and just within the Boom was moored in a Line four Men of War, the Galicia of sixty six Guns, (aboard which was the Admiral Don Blass D'Leso,) the Africa and St. Carlos, each of sixty six Guns, and the St. Philip of seventy Guns, which spread the Width of the Harbour's Mouth, that there was not room for a Ship either to pass a head or a stern of them, so that it was impossible for shipping to force an Entrance into the Harbour; and had the Enemy here made a Defence equal to the admirable Disposition they had formed, it must have been a difficult Task for the Fleet to have got in, even after Boccachica Castle was taken. About four or five Miles from hence is a Creek, or Passage, that parts the Grand Baru from the Main called Passa Cavallos, through which there is Water enough for small Vessels: This Pass the Enemy had defended with two Fascine Batteries, one of eight Guns, the other of four, as well to protect their own Imbarkations that come this Way with Provisions from Tolu, and the River Sina, as to prevent any Attempts being made this Way. The next place of Defence was Castillo Grande, which is about eight Miles up the Harbour. This Castle is a regular Square with four Bastions, strong and well built, and defended to the Land by a wet Ditch and Glacis proper, and one Face towards the Sea has a Raveline, and a double Line of Guns. This Castle can mount sixty one Guns, though there was but fifty seven in it. Opposite to this was a Horse-shoe Battery of twelve Guns, called Mancinilla; and in the Middle between these two Forts is a large Shoal with not above two or three Foot Water on it, which divides the Channel into two: In each of these Passages were Ships sunk across, to prevent, if possible, the Fleet's getting by; for that Part of the Harbour above these Castles is a perfect Bason, and seems rather like one Harbour within another, so that if some of the Ships could not have got past to have covered the Troops landing (where they did) they must have marched several Miles, and been greatly exposed; besides, it would have been excessively difficult transporting the Cannon, neither could the Bomb-Ketches have got near enough this Way to have diverted the Town; so that the Intent of this Disposition was exceeding good, had it been effectually executed, (but Fear made the Enemy work in too much Hurry.) Near three Miles further up the Harbour, on two flat sandy Islands, or Keys, stands the famous City of Carthagena, and Himani, called its Suburbs, which are both irregular Figures, but well fortified to the Land with strong Bastions at proper Distances, and Lakes and Morasses running round them; and the Water at the Head of the Harbour shoal so far off, that Ships cannot come near enough to do any material Execution with their Guns, which adds much to its Strength.
* * * * *
About a Quarter of a Mile from the Gate of Himani, on a pretty high Eminence, stands the Castle (or Redoubt) of St. Lazare, which in itself is but trifling, but its Situation very advantageous, and by some new Works lately thrown up much strengthened. This Redoubt overlooks all the Town, but has a Brow of a Hill (about four hundred Yards from it) that overlooks it as much, and entirely commands it, where would have been a proper Place to have raised a Battery, which the Enemy full well knew, for they constantly kept a Guard there, to observe the Army's Motions. As it was this famous Castle put an End to the Siege of Carthagena, a particular Description of it may not be unwelcome.
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The Hill it stands on is about fifty or sixty Foot high, naturally steep, but made more so by the Earth out of the Trenches and Lines being thrown over the Brow. The Castle is a Square of about fifty Foot, with three Demi-Bastions, two Guns in each Face, one in each Flank, and three in each Curtain. When the Army first landed, there was no material Works about the Castle, but a Fascine Battery, of five Guns at the North End of the Hill, facing the Brow of the commanding Hill abovementioned; but whilst they were encamping, &c. the Enemy cut Lines round the Foot of the Castle, and erected another Fascine-Battery on the South Brow of the Hill, and brought four Guns out of the North Battery, and mounted in this, as it commanded the Ascent of the Hill best; these Lines ran in Traverses, and communicated from Battery to Battery, and were a better Defence, and much stronger, than all the other Works together. After the Attack, the Enemy being able to judge where their Foible lay, mounted two Guns in the Lines, against the angular Point of one of the Bastions (which was not defended) where the Troops ascended the Hill, and to the South Part of the Hill lengthened their Lines, and made a Stair-case up the Hill, to the Fascine-Battery, and a Breast-work cross the Road, from the Foot of the Hill down to the Water-side, which effectually blocked themselves up, and was a Security against the Army's making a second Attack, and coming at them the right Way, as they might have done at first, had they taken the Guide's Advice. The Side next the Town is quite defenceless, and the Way into the Castle up a Ladder, on that Side, which draws up, like a Bridge.
* * * * *
From the several Examinations of Deserters it appeared, the Number of the Enemy did not exceed four thousand, (regular Forces, Seamen, Militia, Blacks, and Indians included) and daily Experience convinced us of the Goodness of their Engineers, Bombardiers, and Gunners, as Desertion and Cowardice convinced us of the Badness of others.
Having given an Account of the Enemy's Situation and Strength, it may likewise be necessary to relate some Account of the State of the Army, and what pretty Instruments and Materials they were furnished withal. That the whole Body of the Troops, that came from England (unless two Regiments) were raw, new raised, undisciplined Men, is a Fact known to every one; and the greatest Part of the Officers commanding them, either young Gentlemen whose Quality or Interest entitled them to Preferment, or abandoned Wretches of the Town, whose Prostitution had made them useful on some dirty Occasion, and by Way of Reward were provided for in the Army; but both these Sorts of Gentlemen had never seen any Services, consequently, knew not properly how to act, or command; so that the worthy old experienced Officers, who had served long and well, underwent a continual Hardship, in teaching and disciplining a young raw Army, at a Time when they were on Service, and every one ought to have been Masters of their Trade, instead of having it to learn; and thus, by more frequently exposing themselves, most of them were knocked on the Head. As for the American Troops, they were in general many Degrees worse, but the Officers in particular, who were composed of Blacksmiths, Taylors, Shoemakers, and all the Banditti that Country affords, insomuch, that the other Parts of the Army held them in scorn. And for Engineers, Bombardiers, and Gunners, worse never bore the Name, or could be picked out of all Europe.
* * * * *
Amongst the ten Engineers, there was but one who ever saw a Siege (and that was the simple Siege of Gibraltar) and he was killed at Boccachica, in the midst of his own defenceless Works; so that the rest may justly have been said to be left without a Head. As for the Bombardiers and Gunners, the Colonel commanding the Train was in his grand Climacterick, and consequently very unfit to be sent upon this Expedition; but he, poor Gentleman, was soon dispatched (thanks to the Ignorance of the Engineers) and his Successor took care to render himself as unfit for Duty, by Excess of Drinking, as Old Age rendered the other; and as to Inferiors of both Sorts, Bombardiers and Cannoneers, many of them were Country Fellows, who told the General they were provided for in the Train for voting for Mr. —— and Mr. such a one, &c. Out of these few that were good, by constant Attendance and Duty's falling hard few were left, and indeed they had not many Opportunities of shewing their Abilities, the Materials they were provided withal being mostly bad; for two thirds of the Bomb-Shells either broke short in the Air, or their Fusees went out, and they never broke at all; nor were there one in three of the Grenadoes would burst; the Shells were so thick, and the Cavity so small, they would not hold Powder sufficient to crack them; nay, so little Care was taken in providing and packing up proper Materials for a Train of Artillery, that out of eight Pieces of Battering-Cannon-Principals, one was found defective and unserviceable, and the Expedition had like to have set forward, without a Plank or Joist for Platforms for the Guns, or any Bill-Hooks to cut Fascines and clear the Ground, had not Lord Cathcart been informed these Things were wanting, and wrote timely to have them supplied before the Fleet sailed, which lay then at St. Hellens.
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Upon the whole, the Service that has been performed best demonstrates the Goodness of this Army: How much it has suffered, as well as the Reputation of the Nation, by the Death of Lord Cathcart, the End of the Expedition must resolve.
Thus much may be said in Behalf of the common Soldiers, though they were raw and undisciplined, they wanted not for Courage and Resolution becoming Englishmen.
* * * * *
[A] When Captain Dandridge, of the Wolf, came into the Fleet, he acquainted the Admiral, that the Marquis D'Antin and twelve Ships of War were then in Port Louis, which was the Reason the Admiral pursued his Course up to the Isle of Vache, where when the Fleet arrived, a French Officer coming on board the Weymouth, told, the Marquis D'Antin was gone Home: Upon the Admiral's being informed of this, he sent Captain Knowles up in the Spence Sloop to reconnoitre, who returned with Answer, that there was but one Ship of War in Port Louis, and that the rest were all light Merchant Ships; however the Admiral chose to be more certain, and having an Opportunity of sending an Answer to the French Officer's Message, the next Day sent Captain Knowles and Captain Boscawen ashore to the Governor, who being politely received, and satisfied with their Remarks, returned in the Evening to the Admiral, and confirmed the foregoing Observation, who, without loss of Time, carried the Fleet where they could best and speediest be watered.
[B] This Success was obtained by the Loss only of six Men aboard the Norfolk and Russell, but the Shrewsbury's Cable being shot (before her other Anchor could be veered aground) she met with worse Luck: She drove so far as to open the whole Fire of the Castle of Boccachica, four of the Enemy's Ships of sixty and seventy Guns, that were moored athwart the Harbour's Mouth, the Battery of St. Joseph, and two Fascine Batteries, that were on the Barradera Side; all this Fire she lay singly exposed to till dark, when she took the Benefit of the Land-Wind, and ran off, being greatly shattered in her Hull, Masts, and Rigging, and a great many Men killed and wounded.
[C] It was a Body of eight hundred Grenadiers that first landed, who, during the Time that more Troops were sent for (which was upwards of two Hours before they came) were kept in the Boats, within twenty Yards of the Shore, and so closely crouded, scarce one Man could have used his Arms, that had they had any Enemy to have dealt with, but dastardly Spaniards, they must and would have been cut all to pieces.
[D] During the first three Days the Troops were ashore, they were employed in no one Thing, no not so much as to clear the Ground for their Encampment, but kept under Arms Night and Day (where, by the Heat of the Sun, on a white burning Sand, they were scorched to Death, and by the Inclemency of the Dews in the Night, they got Colds, so that many of them fell sick) whereas had they been instantly employed to have encamped and opened Ground in the Woods for that Purpose, they would have been shaded by the Trees, freed from the burning Heat of the Sand, and many of them preserved from the Enemy's Shot, that missed our Battery.
[E] In the first Place it must be observed, that there never was Application made what particular Ordnance, Stores, &c. to land, or any Scheme formed what Sort of Cannon might be necessary, or what Quantity of Stores wanting, but the whole was landed, and a considerable Part lost by being washed off the Beach by the Sea, and several Carriages broke to pieces by the Enemy's Shot, and the rest left in Heaps in the utmost Confusion; notwithstanding there were near five hundred Seamen appointed for this Purpose; but those Officers, whose Business it was to have formed an Artillery Park (though God knows they called this so) and disposed of the Stores in a regular Manner and Order, were——
[F] Such was the Knowledge of the Sub-Engineers, that not one of them knew where to chuse out a Spot of Ground for raising a Battery, neither had they prepared Fascines, Pickets, or any Materials, till their Principal arrived (and after he had pitched on a Place, he made a Demand of thirty thousand Fascines of twelve Foot long, twenty thousand of nine Foot long, and forty thousand Pickets, whereas one thousand five hundred Fascines built the Battery) who, Vauban like, would not begin to work, till all his Materials were on the Spot; and then, with five hundred Seamen, two or three hundred Blacks, and as many Soldiers as the General could spare for Pioneers, he was ten Days erecting a Battery; and when it was done, it was parallel to neither Face nor Curtain of the Fortification, and the Breach was made in the angular Point of the Bastion, neither was there any safe Communication with it, for no Trench was ever cut, or proposed, only a Path through the Woods, and that almost in a strait Line; so that every Shot enfiladed it, and killed twenty times the Number of Men going to and from the Battery, that were killed every where else during the Siege; nor would the Engineer be prevailed on (any more than the General) to cut off the Communication from the Town to Boccachica (by which they might have prevented the Enemy from receiving any Succours by Land, seen all their Motions in the Harbour, and hindered any Incursions from the Castle) notwithstanding the Admiral frequently solicited the General and wrote to him to have it done.
[G] This Thing, called a Bomb-Battery, was also a Mark of the Genius and Understanding of the Engineers. It was a Platform, laid behind a small rising Rock, open on all Sides, no Communication to it, either by Trench, Epaulment, or any Security whatsoever, that the Enemy saw every Man (from the Castle) that went in, or out, as they were obliged to pass over high Ground, to come at the Battery, and then it lay quite exposed to the Barradera Battery; so that the Shot fired from thence passed in at one End, and out at the other; and if they did no Execution there, were sure to do some in the Camp. And as to the Usefulness of it, and the Service that was performed by the excellent bombardiers, every idle Spectator was a Judge; though it was oftentimes observed, by Order, that not six Shells out of forty had done Execution, and that, on the contrary, scarce one of forty of the Enemy's ever missed.
[H] The Camp (it has been observed before) was pitched on a low Sand, but being sheltered (as a direct Object) from the Barradera Battery, by the Rock that St. Philip stood on, could not be seen, but lying in the Line of Direction of the Shot fired from thence, at the famous Bomb-Battery, was sure to be flanked by every Shot, which missed that, and though it might be prudent to try Movings, on this Occasion, yet it was a bad Example to the Soldiers, especially when the Chiefs moved off first, and the Thing was done without regular and publick Orders; besides the Time it took up at that Conjuncture (when more material Works were in Hand, and the Army lessening every Day by Sickness, which was not to be regained.) Whereas had the Encampment been formed at first, a few Yards up in the Woods, none of the Enemy's Guns could have been brought to bear on it, nor indeed would they have been able to have discovered where it was; besides the great Advantage of Men's being cool, and particularly after working; but, as it was placed, instead of a cool Retreat, to retire to Rest, after being heated by the warm Labour, their Tents were a hotter.
[I] The following Captains were also ordered upon this Expedition, vix. Capt. Watson, Coates, Lawrence, Coleby, and Laws, and all the Barges and Pinnaces of the Fleet. They went away from their Ships about Midnight, and rowed pretty far to Leeward, to avoid being seen, or the Noise of their Oars heard, and proposed landing in a small sandy Bay, behind the Barradera Battery, into which was a narrow Channel, between two Reefs of Rocks, and a four Gun Battery on the Strand, facing the Channel (both unknown to every Person there) which, so soon as some of the Boats had got into the Channel, began to fire on them; but the brave Tars landed, and rushed in at the Embrazures, and took Possession of the Battery, before the Enemy could fire a second Time. This firing alarmed the Barradera Battery, and the Enemy turned three Pieces of Canon on the Platform, which they fired with Grape Shot, so soon as the Seamen advanced; but notwithstanding that, and the Difficulties and Badness of the Road (which was through a Morass, and where but one Man could walk abreast, and full of Stumps of Mangroves each a Foot or more high, the Seamen attacked it; and, after a smart though short Resistance, carried it, took nine Prisoners, spiked up fifteen Guns (from eighteen to twenty four Pounders) burned the Carriages, Platforms, Guard-houses, and Magazine; and it may with Justice be allowed (from the many Difficulties that attended this Action, in Regard to the advantageous Situation of the Barradera Battery, the Boats being surprised with a four Gun Battery, just as they were going to land, and no Person acquainted with the Place) as bold and surprising an Enterprise, as is to be met with; and the Consternation it put the Enemy in seems to confirm this Opinion; for although Boccachica Castle, and the Enemy's four Ships, were not more than Musket Shot off, yet neither they, nor St. Joseph's (which was still nearer) ever fired a Shot. So that it seems as if they could not believe the Thing, though they saw all in Flames. For this gallant Action the Admiral rewarded every common Man with a Dollar apiece.
[K] The Success of this Action may be said to have given the Army both Spirits and Pleasure (pro tempore) as it freed them from the greatest Annoyance of their Camp, and gave them an Opportunity of working quietly on their Battery.
[L] Because the Enemy made such quick Dispatch in repairing some Part of the Barradera Battery, mounting and firing some Pieces again, the Army began to reflect, and say, the Battery was not effectually destroyed, though hundreds of Men were seen constantly at work, and Boats with Cannon, Stores, and Fascines, passing and repassing hourly, both from Boccachica and the Ships: But the Truth was, the Army was not accustomed to work in that brisk Manner: No! Working was no Part of their Trade. However, when the sixty Gun Ship went in against the Battery, that the Enemy was obliged to bring their Guns to fire at her, the Army cooled in their Resentments, and all was well, while the Enemy was quiet.
[M] This grand Affair having taken up near a Fortnight in raising, and many more Men employed to work, than was necessary (for there were five hundred Seamen, between two and three hundred Blacks, besides as many Pioneers as could be spared out of the Army) much Execution may be expected therefrom: But alas! the Engineers would by no Means outdo themselves; the Battery was constructed in a Wood! and no more Ground was cleared, than a Space necessary for so stupendous a Building (lest the Enemy should see the Army!). For so great Caution was used, that before the Wood in the Front of the Battery was cut down, it was a Doubt, whether any Guns could be brought to bear on the Castle; and as it was, no Guns could be brought to play on the Enemy's Shipping, although it was expected they would instantly fire on the Battery, and be capable of doing it the greatest Damage; (which they did) and had not an Epaulment been thrown up at the East End, every Shot from the Ships must have raked the Battery, and destroyed Numbers of Men. The Army allowed the Tars behaved gallantly; for it must be remarked, they had Seamen to fight the Guns in the Battery, as well as help to build it. Whether the Engineers proposed to batter the angular Point of the Bastion in Breach is Matter of Doubt, at the first laying out of their Battery; (but infinite Reasons may be assigned for the Absurdity, besides that great one, of having the Fire of two Flanks to destroy, instead of one) however it is generally believed, it was Hap-hazard; for the most impartial Judges in the Navy and Army agree, if the Enemy had cut down eighty or an hundred Paces of the Woods further round the Castle, the Undertaking would have been so difficult, as to have shocked the Science of all the Engineers, if not quite disheartened them, from so daring an Enterprise.
[N] The Position the Enemy had lain their Ships in, was beyond all Doubt the most advantageous, could be formed by Man; both for opposing any Attempt, that might be made by Shipping on the Entrance into the Harbour; or annoy any Battery, that could be raised ashore; and as they found no Battery against them, they failed not to play as briskly (as Spaniards will do when there is no body to hurt them) and did ten times more Damage than the Castle.
[O] These Ships were ordered to cannonade purely to oblige the General, who, because the Enemy's Ships fired at his Battery, desired the Admiral would send Ships to cannonade the Castle, though there was a Battery of twenty Guns to fire against five or six (for that was all the Castle could bring to bear on the Battery) so they had their Masts and Yards shot to pieces, and Numbers of Men killed and wounded, without doing any other Damage than beating down the Rubbish; (which the Battery would have done in half the Time, as being twice as near) for they could not come to hurt the Enemy's Ships, nor did it divert their Ships from firing at the Battery.
[P] So soon as the Enemy saw the Boats coming to Land, and these Ships come to an Anchor close to the Battery, they deserted it, and spiked up the Guns; but Captain Watson, and Captain Coates marched into it, and ripped up the Platforms, burned them and the Carriages, and effectually demolished the Battery: The Enemy fired at them from their Shipping, but with-out much Damage.
[Q] It may be remarked as something extraordinary, that although the Army thought the Breach just practicable, they should entirely cease firing, the Night before they intended the Attack; as it is a sort of an established Rule in all regular Sieges, to keep firing in the Night, to prevent the Enemy's removing the Rubbish, that is beat down in the Day, which the Enemy would certainly have done, if they had been sufficiently strong; for they began that Night a Counter-Battery of Fascines on the Ramparts, in order to have disputed it longer, which if they had had Time to have finished, and Numbers to have carried on both Works together, (viz.) moving the Rubbish from the Foot of the Breach, and compleating these Counter-Batteries, they would have rendered the Attack as difficult as from the Beginning.
[R] The Army having sent in the Night to reconnoitre the Breach, and judging it surmountable, resolved this Evening to attack it, and after having made their necessary Dispositions, sent off to acquaint the Admiral with their Design, and that so soon as three Shells should be thrown in the Evening by way of Signal, the Battery should begin to fire warmly, till the Soldiers were almost at the Foot of the Breach, and then to cease, and they rush in, which had the desired Effect; for on the Battery's playing, the Enemy retired off their Ramparts, except only one Centinel, and he hid himself behind some Fascines; that the Troops mounted the Breach undiscovered, and were actually huzzaing on the Ramparts, and hoisting the English Flag, before the Enemy were apprised of them; who made the best of their Way out of their Castle Gate, excepting two, who were taken Prisoners; so that there was not a Musket fired in Opposition, nor a Gun from any of the Enemy's Ships, which is both astonishing and remarkable, as their Broadsides lay to the Castle, and the Admiral (Don Blass) was aboard. But such was the Panick they were in, that happy was he that could get first into a Boat to save himself: (and the Don did not look behind him). Each Ship was scuttled ready for sinking, and had a large square Plug in the Hole; but the St. Philip's People not readily getting them out, set fire to her; the Africa and St. Carlos were sunk, as it was intended the Galicia should also, in order to prevent any Ship's getting through the Channel, which (had the Scheme been effected) would have rendered it difficult to pass, if practicable at all, without weighing some one or other of the Ships. This Victory (it will readily be allowed) gave the Army a great Share of Spirits, as it freed them from Hardships (modern Gentlemen Soldiers are not used to) and gave them Possession of an Island (as well as the Castle) in which the Enemy could not come to disturb them, especially while they had got a Fleet of Ships of War to attend on them; for, to their great Glory be it spoken, they could not venture to move along Shore without Men of War to attend on them, as they marched, and the constant Cry was, Why don't you come to our Assistance? Nay, so great a Liking had they to the Sea, that they could not find their Way into the Castle, after the Breach was made, without a Sea Pilot to conduct them; and what is worth Notice is, he was a Spaniard, and a Prisoner; but the General imagined, he might be as good a Pilot by Land, as by Sea, and so sent to the Admiral, to desire he might shew the Troops the Way into the Castle.
[S] The Admiral's Scheme for Attacking St. Joseph's had drawn all the Attention of the Enemy that Way; for so soon as they saw the Boats going to Land, their Ships began to fire pretty briskly, and St. Joseph's Battery fired also; but as the Bushes prevented their seeing the Men, they did but little Harm. The Enemy sent several large Boats full of Men from their Ships into the Battery, which is pretty plain they did not expect Boccachica would have been attacked at that Time, or consequently they would not have sent them there. (Wherefore it is evident, this Scheme facilitated the Army's becoming Masters of Boccachica, and put an End to the Dispute sooner than was expected, or could possibly have happened, had any Nation but pusillanimous Spaniards had the Defence of it; for had the Place been defended equal to its Strength and excellent Disposition, both of the Ships and Batteries, it would have been a difficult Task for the Fleet and Army both to have rendered themselves Masters of it.) But so soon as they saw the Castle taken, they made the best of their Way off, in what Boats they could get, and abandoned St. Joseph's likewise, leaving only one drunken Man behind (who was to have blown it up) so soon as the Boats had got Possession. Captain Coates was left to command this Fort, and the Captains Knowles and Watson went aboard the Galicia, where they found the Captain of her, and about sixty Men, whom they took Prisoners, and carried aboard of the Admiral, the rest of the Crew having run away with the Boats, and prevented their escaping and sinking their Ship, as was intended.
[T] Passa Cavallos is a Creek, that parts the grand Baru from the Main, through which the Supplies of Provisions that come from Tolu and Sina must pass; and here the Enemy had erected two small Batteries, one of four Guns, the other of eight, which were demolished by the Weymouth and Cruiser. The latter was sent up the Creek, to bring away five or six Sina Hulks (Vessels so called, as being dug out of one solid Tree, and big enough ordinarily to carry twenty Tuns) that lay there, which were very useful to the Fleet in watering.
[V] Between Castillo Grande and Mancinilla Fort is a large Channel, that goes up as it were into another Harbour or large Bason; in the Middle of the Channel is a Shoal, that divides it into two Channels; on each Side the Shoal the Enemy had moored Ships, and sunk them; and in the Channel next the Castle had moored two sixty Gun Ships, the Conquestodore and Dragon, and untiled their Houses in the Castle, as if intended to defend it; but observing the Boats sounding, and well knowing how near the Ships could lay their Broadsides against it, they certainly judged right in abandoning it, and sinking their Ships, as they must have lost many Men in defending them, and those that had happened to have been left, after the Castle and Ships had been taken, must have submitted to have been Prisoners; for there was no Way of their escaping, either by Land or Water; and as their Numbers were not great, it was best collecting them in one Body, and at one Place, to make an Effort.
[W] Though this Castle was capable of making a pretty good Defence, yet the above Reasons justify the Enemy in abandoning it. There was in the Castle fifty seven Guns, which the Enemy had spiked up, and the Powder they had thrown into the Cistern of Water, and spoiled, but most of the Guns were got clear again, and the Castle was garisoned with one hundred regular Troops, and about fifty Seamen.
[X] This French Ship had been supplying the Enemy with Ammunition, and had not had Time to get away, before the Place was invested; and during the Siege of Boccachica Castle, had been used as an Hospital Ship, to receive the Enemy's wounded, and served to carry them to Town, or fetch Ammunition, or Stores, from the Castle, as Occasion required, and, to prevent her being destroyed by the English, the Enemy chose rather to burn her.
[Y] All the Boats of the Fleet having been ordered to hold themselves in Readiness for landing the Forces, each respective Transport was to shew a Signal Light at Midnight, where the Boats went and received the several Regiments according as directed, and from thence went and rendezvoused aboard the Weymouth till dawn of Day; and after her scouring the Woods briskly with Grape-Shot, &c. at half an Hour past four o'Clock in the Morning they were landed at a Place called Gratia, formerly a Country House hired by the South-Sea Factors, and one Mac Pherson, who had also been in that Company's Service, and was well acquainted with the Country, was their Guide. But, as throughout the whole, Things were done without Order or Method, so they went on still; for notwithstanding the Army had been apprised of the Enemy's having made Lodgments along the Road, yet they landed without a Grenado Shell, or a Field-Piece, and were likewise told, the Road was even and able to sustain the Weight of the heaviest Cannon. However, Providence continued to favour them better than their own Prudence could have guided, and happily they were landed with the Loss only of one Man, and two or three wounded, although some Parties of the Enemy attacked them twice: At which Time the Ships proved of great Service, as they could see every Motion the Enemy made, and fired among them very successfully; for no sooner did they attempt to make a Stand and draw up, than the Shot dispersed them, and swept off Numbers; so that if the Army had vouchsafed to have pushed their Success, it is a general received Opinion (even amongst themselves now) they might have rendered themselves Masters of the Castle of St. Lazare that Day (even without Field-Pieces) for the whole Force of the Town was out against them (as they were told by some Prisoners they took and some Deserters) and very impolitically divided into several Bodies; and in the Panick they were in, and each Party running different Ways, it would have been no difficult Task, to have rendered themselves Masters of that small Redoubt, if not succeeded in forcing the City Gates; for what had they to do, but to follow the Enemy close at their Heels, and slaughter them? Before they had got into the Town, the other must; for when they were mixed in a Body amongst their Enemy, the Town dared not venture to have fired, for fear of killing their own People; but instead of making Use of any of these Advantages, they contented themselves in taking Possession of the Ground the Enemy had left them Masters of, and there posted their Advanced Guards, and retired with the main Body behind La Papa to encamp; and here almost as many Days were spent in forming an Encampment, as at Boccachica.
[Z] La Papa is a Convent, which stands on the Top of the highest Hill, near Carthagena, and was a most advantageous Part for observing the Enemy's Motions, as it overlooked the Town and Country for many Leagues round about.
[A] Though it might have been expected from the Loss and Destruction of Ordnance Stores at Boccachica, more Care would have been taken here, yet, instead of that, the worthy Officer of the Train doubled his Neglect, and Things were in much more Disorder and Confusion than they were there, notwithstanding here was Choice of Ground to pitch upon for an Artillery Park; but it was too much Trouble and Labour to move the Stores from the Place where they were first put down in, at landing, and required more Attendance than could be spared from the Bottle (and it is a well known Proverb, When the Shepherd's away, the Flock will stray,) so that out of two or three hundred Men, that were appointed to attend this Service, it was well if thirty were found at Work.
[B] When the Army landed, there were scarce any Works worth Notice round the Castle of St. Lazare, but a Fascine Battery of five Guns on the North Side of the Hill (which was built the Year before, when Admiral Vernan bombarded the Town) and was of no Service, but in Case of Approaches being made that Way. But as the Enemy saw the Army (disposed to Rest rather than Work) go on slowly, they took Occasion to improve their Time, and with unwearied Diligence set to Work, and in three Days Time completed a four Gun Battery, and entrenched themselves in Lines round about the Foot of the Castle, which were stronger, and of much more Importance, than the Castle itself, and drew those Guns off the Fascine Battery on the North Port, and mounted them in this new Battery, and saluted the Army frequently with them, whilst they were working on their Bomb-Battery and Lodgment for their Advanced Guards.
[C] It has been remarked, that neither General nor Engineer could be prevailed on to cut off the Communication, notwithstanding the Admiral represented the Necessity thereof, as the most sure Means to distress the Enemy, and had sent the Dunkirk to anchor off the Boguilla, to prevent any Embarkation bringing Supplies by Water, as he had done the Falmouth at the grand Baru, on the Outside of Passa Cavallos (before the taking of Boccachica) which effectually prevented any Refreshments coming to the Enemy from Tolu, and the River Sina, their principal Markets; yet nothing was of Weight enough for its being done here, although so very easy, and the Army were complaining heavily, for want of Refreshments, and yet suffered Supplies daily to go into the Town. The Boguilla is the Mouth of the Lake (behind Carthagena) that opens into the Sea, where the Enemy kept a Guard of about an hundred Men, and was the only Way possibly they had left for Supplies to come to them; and though fresh Provisions were scarce in the Camp, and would have been exceedingly beneficial to the Sick, yet so little Pains did the Army care to take to get it, that when the General was acquainted, that a Drove of three or four hundred Head of Oxen were going along the Strand, he did not dispatch a Party to intercept them, or endeavour to cut them off, not in three Hours after he had been informed of the Thing, and then the Cattle were going into the Town. But so far were the Army from being disposed to cut off the Communication on that Side, that they were continually forming Ideas of the Enemy's coming that Way to attack them, and that they were actually raising Batteries on some of the Islands in the Lake, to drive them out of the Camp, and could not be convinced to the contrary, till the Admiral ordered a large Canoe to be carried over Land, and launched into the Lake, which was manned and armed, and an Officer of the Weymouth and a Land Officer sent in her round the Lake, to reconnoitre; upon whose Return, those dreadful Apprehensions were dissipated.
[D] From the first Sight of the American troops they were despised, and as many of them were Irish, (suspected Papists) were never employed till now; but as Sickness encreased amongst the others (and hourly Attacks expected from the Enemy) it was thought expedient to have them ashore; and though it is most certain, there was scarce one but knew what Opinion had been conceived of them, nay indeed told them, that had not the Fellows been better than they were taken for, it was enough to have exasperated them to have deserted. The other Soldiers of Lord James Cavendish and Col. Bland's Regiments were as good Troops as any on the Expedition; and after this Reinforcement, it was expected the Communication would have been immediately cut off; (as it had been suggested Numbers could not be spared before) but so far from that, that the Army still complained, that they had not Men enough to relieve their Guards; and indeed, according to the Number they mounted, Marlborough's Army would scarce have been sufficient; for the Advance Guard consisted of five hundred Men, the Picket eight hundred, besides several other Out-Guards of one hundred, and some fifty; whereas the Enemy had but one Guard (that faced this Way) without their Work, and that of seven Men only. Thus were the poor Wretches harassed.
[E] When the Council of War met, several of the general Officers and Colonels dissented from this Resolution, as judging it too rash an Undertaking, without a proper Breach being made first, or at least before the Place had been well reconnoitred; but in order to solve this last Difficulty, there were several Deserters that offered to go as Guides, and three of the most intelligent were pitched upon.
[F] The principal Engineer being killed at Boccachica, his Successor (being none of the most knowing in the Science) did not chuse any Works should be taken in Hand, as they would expose his Ignorance; so chearfully gave into that Opinion.
[G] After the Majority of the Council of War had determined on the Attack, a proper Time was now the Question, as to which the Deserters informed them, about two o'Clock in the Morning would be the best Time; for the Guards from the Town that nightly patroled round the Foot of the Hill would by that Time be returned and gone to their respective Homes; because as Duty went hard (their Numbers being but it was customary for them, as soon as they had performed their Rout, to go to Bed;) and further observed, that when a Spaniard has laid himself down to sleep, it is no easy Task to raise him to fight; but these Arguments were of no Force to the General; just before Day was his Time; accordingly, about four o'Clock in the Morning the Attack began, and a Party of Grenadiers, along with Colonel Grant, entered the Trenches at the Foot of the Castle; but not being sustained, were cut off, and Colonel Grant shot through the Body. After this, instead of rushing in, Sword in Hand, and mingling with the Enemy in the Trenches, a full Stop was made, and the Men stood firing in Plotoons; those that had Room, and could wheel off for others, did, but the greatest Part stood and fired all their Ammunition away, while the Enemy (as it was now Day-light, and they could take Aim) were mowing them down, like Grass, with their Cannon, Musketry, and Grenadoes; notwithstanding which, the Troops faced them like Lions, and wanted but to have been led on, or told what they were to have done, and they certainly would have taken the Place. But, instead of that, from the most excellent Disposition that was made, no Officer attempted to lead them on, and the Grenado Shells, that should have been in the Front, and distributed among the Soldiers, were in Boxes in the Rear; nor was there one Length of lighted Match among them. The Woolpacks and Scaling Ladders were also in the Rear. But when Colonel Grant entered the Trenches, such Call was made for them, that some few were carried up the Hill; however as he, poor Gentleman, fell, no body else tried to make Use of them; and so amongst other Things they were left for the Enemy. As this Scheme was but badly formed from the Beginning, (and indeed may be properly called the General's own Scheme) so it as unfortunately ended; for the Admiral not being acquainted with this Resolution of the Council of War, (either by Letter or Message) had not an Opportunity of acting in Conjunction with them, and assisting them with a Body of Seamen, as it is evident he would have done; for as soon as he was acquainted the Fort was attacked, and got up and saw the Troops at a Stand, the Instant a Signal could be seen, (at Dawn of Day) he made one for all the Boats in the Fleet manned and armed, and sent them with orders to follow the General's Directions; but it was too late; before they got ashore, the Troops were returned from the Attack.
Various are the Accounts of the Loss sustained in this Action; but it is generally believed, there were upwards of one hundred Men killed, and near two hundred wounded, thirty of whom were taken Prisoners, Numbers of Arms, Colours, Drums, Woolpacks, Grenadoes, Pick-axes, Shovels, Scaling Ladders, &c. were left behind in the Retreat, which the Enemy arrogantly diverted themselves withal, for some Time, on the Top of the Hill, taking Care to let the Army see them.
As when Faults are committed, the first Thing sought after is an Excuse; so, not succeeding in this Attack, the Army now fell to blaming the Guides, saying, they had led them the wrong Way; the Guides again say, the Army would not follow them the Way they would have led them; but had Reason alone been their Guide, sure they should have attacked the Castle on the weakest Side; (for they all knew one Side was defenceless) whereas they attacked it on the strongest Side, where the Hill was most difficult of Access; and when they found themselves repulsed, and at a Loss what to do, the speedier they had made their Retreat, the smaller had been their Loss.
[H] The Admiral had sent several Officers in to sound, and try if Ships might come near enough to batter, who all gave it, as their Opinions, that there could not more than three Ships possibly anchor at the upper End of the Harbour; and if they were laid but in a Foot Water more than they drew, they would not be in a Point-Blank-Shot, and consequently could do no material Execution; however, to convince the General, that Ships could be of no manner of Service to him, the Admiral caused the Galicia (one of the Spanish Ships) to be fitted proper for battering, by forming, between each Port, Merlons (or Cases) of six Foot thick, and filled with rammed Earth or Sand, and sent her in to cannonade the Town; but it was soon found, she could not come hear enough to do any Service; for the enemy had demolished her so, in two or three Hours, that she would have sunk in half an Hour more, if she had not been drawn off; and it may be established as a general Rule, for Ships to go by, that unless they can come within half a Musket or Pistol Shot of a Fortification, it will have the Advantage of them, for the further you lye off, the more Guns they can bring to bear against you; whereas, when you go so near, there can no more Guns annoy you, than are mounted within the Length of your Ship; and the Difference of Briskness in firing, betwixt a Ship and a Fort, is so great, besides the Odds in Number of Guns, that it is impossible to withstand a Ship long. After this Experiment the Galicia was burned.
[I] After the famous Battle of St. Lazare, the Troops sickened very fast, insomuch, that by Account delivered in (and the General's Report) between Thursday Morning and Friday Night, they had dwindled away from 6645 to 3200, and 1200 of these were Americans, and not esteemed fit for Service.
[K] When the Council of War agreed to the Forces being embarked, the General urged, that they might come off in the Night, lest the Enemy should make a Sortie, so that the Boats were ordered ashore about nine o'Clock, and from the Apprehensions they were in of the Enemy's being at their Heels, many of them left their Baggage, and Numbers of them their Tents and Arms, which the Enemy came the next Morning and picked up. The Tents they pitched upon St. Lazare Hill, and other Places, where they might best be seen, and by a Flag of Truce that had Occasion to pass the next Day, about Exchange of Prisoners, they failed not to express their Astonishment at the precipitate Retreat of the Army. Thus ended this famous Expedition, that was the greatest and most expensive that ever entered the American Seas, and which Europe gazed on with Admiration and Attention.