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Off Cape Finisterre






Towards the end of the year 1746 the French ministry came to a
determination to increase their forces in Canada, and, with the
assistance of the native Indians, to extend their territories by
encroachments on the neighbouring provinces belonging to Great Britain.
At the same time they formed a design against some of our settlements in
the East Indies. For these purposes, in the beginning of the year 1747,
a considerable armament was prepared at Brest; the squadron destined for
America being under the command of Monsieur Jonquiere, and that for the
East Indies under that of Monsieur de St. George. For greater security
these two fleets were ordered to sail at the same time.

The British ministry, being informed of the strength and destination of
these squadrons, sent a superior fleet, commanded by Vice-admiral Anson,
to the coast of France. This fleet sailed from Plymouth on April 9th,
1747, and, cruising off Cape Finisterre, on May 3rd fell in with the
French fleet, consisting of thirty-eight sail, nine of which shortened
sail and prepared to engage, while the rest bore away with all the sail
they could make. Admiral Anson first formed his squadron in
line-of-battle; but, perceiving the enemy begin to sheer off, he made a
signal for his whole fleet to give chase and engage promiscuously. The
Centurion came up with the sternmost ship of the enemy about four in
the afternoon. She was followed by the Namur, Defiance, and
Windsor, who were soon warmly engaged with five of the French
squadron. The Centurion had her main-top mast shot away early in the
action, which obliged her to drop astern; but she was soon repaired.
The battle now became general, and the French maintained this very
unequal conflict with great spirit and gallantry till about seven in the
evening, when the whole fleet struck their colours. The Diamant was
the last French ship that submitted, after fighting the Bristol for
nearly three hours. In justice to our enemy it is necessary to remember
that the squadron, commanded by Admiral Anson, consisted of fourteen
ships of the line, a frigate, a sloop and a fire-ship, with nine hundred
and twenty-two guns, and six thousand two hundred and sixty men on
board; and that Monsieur de la Jonquiere had no more than five
line-of-battle ships and as many frigates, four hundred and forty-two
guns, and three thousand one hundred and seventy-one men. Admiral Anson
in the meantime detached the Monmouth, the Yarmouth, and the
Nottingham in pursuit of the convoy, and they returned with the
Vigilant and Modeste, both of twenty-two guns, the rest having made
their escape. But though we acknowledge the great superiority of the
British squadron, it is necessary to inform the reader that no more than
eight English ships were engaged. Captain Grenville, of the Defiance,
a very gallant officer, lost his life in this engagement. Our number of
killed and wounded amounted to five hundred and twenty; that of the
enemy to seven hundred. Captain Boscawen was wounded in the shoulder by
a musket-ball. Monsieur de la Jonquiere was also wounded in the same
part; one French captain was killed and another lost a leg.

Admiral Anson returned to England and brought the captive squadron safe
to an anchor at Spithead. He set out immediately for London, where he
was graciously received by the king, and afterwards created a peer.
Rear-admiral Warren was made Knight of the Bath. The money taken on
board of the French fleet was brought through the city of London in
twenty waggons and lodged in the Bank.

About the middle of April Captain Fox in the Kent, with the Hampton
Court, the Eagle, the Lion, the Chester, and the Hector, with
two fire-ships, sailed on a cruise, designing to intercept a fleet of
St. Domingo men under the convoy of four French men-of-war. After
cruising a month between Ushant and Cape Finisterre, Captain Fox fell
in with this French fleet of one hundred and seventy sail. They were
immediately deserted by their men-of-war, and forty-six of them were
taken.

The British ministry, having received intelligence that nine French
men-of-war of the line had sailed from Brest in order to convoy a large
fleet of merchantmen to the West Indies, ordered Rear-admiral Hawke,
with fourteen men-of-war, to sail immediately in quest of them. The
admiral, with the fleet under his command, left Plymouth on August 9th.
The French fleet, consisting of the above-mentioned men-of-war and two
hundred and fifty-two merchant vessels, sailed from the Isle of Aix on
October 6th, and on the 14th they had the misfortune to fall in with the
British squadron. As soon as the French admiral became sensible of his
situation, he made a signal for the trade to make the best of their way
with the Content and frigates, and for the rest of his squadron to
prepare for battle. Admiral Hawke first made a signal to form the line;
but finding the French begin to sheer off, he ordered his whole fleet to
give chase and engage as they came up with the enemy. The Lion and the
Louisa began the conflict about noon and were soon followed by the
Tilbury, the Eagle, the Yarmouth, the Windsor, and the
Devonshire, which ships particularly shared the danger and
consequently the glory of the day.

About four o'clock four of the French squadron struck--viz., Le
Neptune, Le Monarque, Le Fougeux, and Le Severn; at five Le
Trident followed their example and Le Terrible surrendered about
seven. Be it, however, remembered, to the credit of their several
commanders, that they maintained this unequal conflict with great spirit
and resolution, and that they did not submit until they were entirely
disabled. Their number of killed and wounded was about eight hundred,
and of prisoners three thousand three hundred men. M. Fromentierre,
who commanded Le Neptune, was among the slain, and their
commander-in-chief was wounded in the leg and in the shoulder. The
English had one hundred and fifty-four killed and five hundred and
fifty-eight wounded. Captain Saumarez, of the Nottingham, was among
the former. We lost no other officer of distinction. On the last day of
October Admiral Hawke brought these six French men-of-war to Portsmouth
in triumph, and, in reward for his services, was soon after honoured
with the Order of the Bath.

During this year the English took from the French and Spaniards six
hundred and forty-four prizes, among which were one Spanish and
seventeen French men-of-war. The English vessels, including one
man-of-war and a fire-ship, taken by the French and Spaniards, amounted
to five hundred and fifty-one. The Royal Navy of Spain was now reduced
to twenty-two ships of the line, and that of France to thirty-one;
whilst the Navy of Britain amounted to one hundred and twenty-six sail
of the line besides seventy-five frigates.





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