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he made on the island of Trinidad, both with a view to that colony, and to the Spanish squadron, which had been there for sometime past, the troops intended for this expedition from Martinico were accordingly embarked in the ships of war and transports, and I sailed from Fort Royal buy the 12"» inst. with the ships and vessels of his Majesty's squadron under my command. Lieut.General Sir Ralph Abercromby embarked with me in the Prince of Wales.
The Invincible had previously sailed for Barbados, with two transports, to embark a part of the 14"» regiment; and the Thorn and Zebra were ordered to receive the detachments from Tobago; the Favourite was sent to St Vincent to collect some troops from that island; and the whole were ordered to rendez vous at the island of Carriacou, one of the Grenadines, on or before the 13"»; and on my arrival at that island on the 14th, I found all the ships and transports were assembled.
On the 15th, in the morning, I sailed with the squadron and transports, passing between Carriacou and Grenada, and on the 16th arrived off Trinidad, and stood off the Gulph of Paria; when having passed through the great Boca channel, at half-past three in the afternoon, the Spanish squadron were discovered at anchor at Chaguaramas bay, consisting of four sail of the line, under the flag of a rear-admiral, and one frigate.
As the day was well advanced before I approached the bay, and the enemy appeared in strength on the Gasparaux island, which commanded the anchorage, by batteries erected for that purpose, I ordered the Arethusa, Thorn and Zebra to proceed a little further up the gulph, and anchor, with all the transports. The Alarm, Favourite and Victorieuse were ordered to keep under sail above the transports during the night, and prevent any vessels sailing from Port d'Espagne.
In the evening, just before dark, I anchored with the ships of the line, in order of battle, opposite to the enemy's squadron, within random shot of their ships and batteries, and in constant readiness to prevent their escape during the night, which I suspected they might attempt, as all their sails were bent, and they appeared perfectly ready for sailing.
At two o'clock in the morning of the 17th, we discovered one of their ships on fire, and soon after three others, all of which burnt with great fury until near daylight, when they were entirely consumed. One of them having escaped the conflagration, the boats were sent from the squadron, and she was brought out without having received any damage.
I have great satisfaction in acquainting their lordships that this squadron of the enemy, commanded by Rear-Admiral Don Sebastian Ruiz do Apodaca, were destroyed or captured, according to the list I herewith enclose; and although this service was effected without any other act of his Majesty's squadron under my command, than being placed in such a situation as to prevent their escape, I am fully convinced that had they remained at their anchorage until the next day, the officers and men whom I have the honour to command, would have completed, by their exertion and zeal, the capture of the whole, notwithstanding the advantage of their situation, under the cover of about 20 pieces of cannon and 3 mortars, which were mounted on Gasparaux island, and had been placed there for the sole purpose of defending the ships in the bay. That island, which, like the ships, had been abandoned during the night, was taken possession of soon after day-light by a party of the Queen's regiment.
General Abercromby, early in the morningjoined the Arethusa, and the troops were all landed in the course of the day, under the direction of Captain Woolley, covered by the Favourite sloop, about three miles from the town, without opposition. The general took possession of the town the same evening; and the 18"i the governor, desired to capitulate for the whole island, and the articles were agreed to, and signed the same day, a copy of which I herewith transmit.
Captain Harvey, of his Majesty's ship Prince of Wales, will have the honour to deliver this despatch, from whom I have always experienced the greatest zeal and attention to his Majesty's service.
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your most obedient humble servant
Dispatch from Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, K.-B. to the Right Hon. Henry Dondas.
Head-Quasters, Trinidad, Feb. 27, 1797.
Sir, on my arrival in this country, I did not fail to lay before the Admiral my instructions, and to consult with him upon the means to carry them into execution. I found in him every desire to co-operate in the execution of the views to which they are directed. The arrival of part of the convoy from England enabled us to proceed with confidence in our operations; therefore, as.soon as the troops could be collected from the different islands, which were ordered to rendez-vous at Cariacou, the Admiral sailed from Martinique, which island he left with his squadron on the 12th instant.
The precision with which the Admiral had given his orders to assemble the ships of war and transports, left us not a moment of delay. On the 15th, in the morning, the fleet sailed from Cariacou. On the 16lh, in the afternoon, it passed through the Bocas, er entrance into the Gulph of Paria, where we found the Spanish admiral with four sail of the line and a frigate, at anchor, under cover of the island of Gaspargrande, which was fortified.
Our squadron worked up, and came to anchor opposite, and nearly within gunshot of the Spanish ships. The frigates and transports were ordered to anchor higher up in the Bay, and at the distance nearly of five miles from the town of Port d'Espagne. The disposition was immediately made for landing at day-light next morning, and for a general attack upon the town and ships of war.
At two o'clock in the morning of the 17th, we perceived the Spanish squadron to be on fire; the ships burn with great fury, one line of battle ship excepted, which escaped the conflagration, and was taken possession of at day-light in the morning, by the boats from our fleet; the enemy at the same time evacuated the island, and abandoned that quarter.
This unexpected turn of affairs directed our whole attention to the attack of the town. The troops were immediately ordered to land, and, as soon as a few hundred men could be got on shore, about four miles to the westward of it, we advanced, meeting with little or no resistance. Before night we were masters of Port d'Espagne and the neighbourhood, two small forts excepted. In the morning a capitulation was entered into with the Governor Don Chacon, and in the evening all the Spanish troops laid down (heir arms, and the whole colony passed under the dominion of his Britannic Majesty.
Copies of the capitulation, of the stores and provisions taken, are herewith transmitted.
It is a peculiar satisfaction to me that thej'e is no list of killed or wounded; Lieutenant Villeneuve, of the 8th regiment of foot, who was brigade major to Brigadier-general Hompesch, being the only person who was wounded, and he is since dead of his wounds.
From the Admiral I have experienced every possible cooperation. Captain Woolley, of his Majesty's ship the Arethusa, and Captain Wood, of the Favourite sloop of war, who had been sent to reconnoitre in the Gulph of Paria, afforded us minute information of the situation of the enemy previous to our arrival. Captain Wooley, who directed the disembarkation, shewed all the zeal and intelligence which I have experienced on former occasions. To Lord Craven, who begged to attend the expedition, I am indebted for great zeal and exertion.
Lieutenant-colonel Soter, who is intimately acquainted with the island, has been and continues to be of very great use to me. I should not do justice to his general character, if I did not take this opportunity to express it. My aid-de-camp, Captain Drew, of the 45lh regiment, will have the honour to deliver this letter; he has served long in this country, and is capable to give such further information as may be required. I humbly beg leave to recommend him to his Majesty's favour.
I have the honour to be, etc.
Ra. AnERCnoMBY, K. B.
Paute Oficial del brigadier Don Joseph María Chacon, gobernoi' de la isla de Trinidad de Barlovento, dendo cuenta de su rendicion.
Excmo Señor, — La serie de contratiempos que han afigido esta Colonia del año pasado, segun tengo representado á V. E., han seguido agravando sin interrupcion nuestros males hasta el último extremo. El 10 del presente, á las tres de la tarde, se presentó en este golfo la escuadra inglesa á las órdenes del Almirante Herwcy, con un convoi de tropas de desembarco á las ordenes de M1" Hal'ael Albercomby (sic), y todo el tren que pudiere ser necessario para conquistar un puis bien fortificado y guarecido : tres navio* de línea, tres fragatas de cuarenta cañones, tres corbetas de á veinte, tres bergantines de á diez y ocho y una bombarda, conducían seis regimientos ingleses y dos de alemanes, un cuerpo de cazadores de gente de color y un batallon de artilleria con gran número de peones para los trabajos. Para oponerse á esta fuerza se hallaba la Isla indefensa, por no tener aún concluidas ninguna de las fortificaciones empezadas. La combinacion de tantos y tan desgraciados accidentes, frustra todas las acertadas providencias del Ministerio y todo la'actividad y vigilancia por nuestra parte.
El retardo inevitable de los sitiados, y el apresamiento del bergantín Galgo con el que nos conducía, nos tenia en la aflictiva situacion de no poder asistir á la subsistencia de la tropa, que se sostenía á racion por mi asentista que la daha á crédito, y lo propio acontecia con las hospitalidades. Los indios y peones que el Capitan General de Caracas y el Gobernador de Cumaná aprontaron para enviarme con destino á los trabajos de la fortificacion. no pudieron venir por estar aquellas costas bloqueadas por buques enemigos, por consiguiente las obras se hacian con una lentitud tan perjudicial como inevitable. Las tropas que llegaron de España en Setiembre último y las tripulaciones de los navios que las condujeron, han tenido la desgracia que ordinariamente acontese á los recienvenidos de Europa en la estacion de las lluvias; un tercio pereció y los demas unos estan en el hospital, y convaleciendo otros.
Trescientos dos hombres del batallon provisional era toda la fuerza con que me hallaba en este punto, y de ellos ciento cincuenta y siete de servicio, sin incluir las patrullas, rondas, etc.;.