It is said that even before Ferdinand had achieved this success Pitt had resolved to reinforce him with British troops, but for the present the minister reverted to his old plan of a descent on the French coast, which might serve the purpose of diverting French troops alike from America and from Germany. The first sign of his intention was seen in April, when the officers of sixteen battalions received orders to repair to the Isle of Wight by the middle of May. Such long notice was a strange preliminary for a secret expedition, for the troops themselves did not receive their orders until the 20th of May; and it was the end of the month before the whole of them, some thirteen thousand men, were encamped on the island. The Duke of Marlborough was selected for the command, and, since his military talent was doubtful, Lord George Sackville, whose ability was unquestioned, was appointed as his second, with the duty of organising the whole of the operations. Two squadrons, comprising twenty-four ships of the line under Lord Anson, Sir Edward Hawke, and Commodore Howe, were detailed to escort the transports, and on the 1st of June the armament set sail, arriving on the 5th at Cancalle Bay, about eight miles from St. Malo. A French battery, erected for the defence of the bay, was quickly silenced by the ships, and on the following day the entire army was landed. One brigade was left to guard the landing-place, and the remainder of the force marched to St. Malo, where the light dragoons under cover of night slipped down to the harbour and burned over a hundred privateers and merchant-vessels. The Duke of Marlborough then made dispositions as if for the siege of St. Malo, but hearing that a superior force was on the march to cut off his retreat, retired to Cancalle Bay, re-embarked the troops, and sailed against Granville, a petty town some twenty miles to north-east of St. Malo. Foul weather frustrated the intended operations; and on the 27th the expedition arrived off Havre de Grace. Preparations were made for landing, but after two days of inactivity Marlborough decided against an attack, and the fleet bore up for Cherbourg. There once more all was made ready for disembarkation, but the weather was adverse, forage and provisions began to fail, and the entire enterprise against the coast was abandoned. So the costly armament returned to Portsmouth, having effected absolutely nothing. It is, however, doubtful whether blame can be attached to the officers, either naval or military, for the failure. Pitt had procured no intelligence as to the dispositions of the French for defence of the threatened ports; so that a General might well hesitate to run the risk of landing, when he could not tell how soon he might find himself cut off by a superior force from the sea.
Meanwhile Ferdinand following up his success had pursued the French over the Rhine and gained a signal victory over them at Creveld. This action appears to have hastened Pitt to a decision, for within four days he announced to the British Commissary at Ferdinand’s headquarters the King’s intention to reinforce the Prince with two thousand British cavalry. The troops were warned for service on the same day; but within three days it was decided to increase the reinforcement to six thousand troops, both horse and foot, and a week later the force was further augmented by three battalions. The first division of the troops was shipped off to Emden on the 11th of July, and by the second week in August the entire reinforcement had disembarked at the same port under command of the Duke of Marlborough, joining Prince Ferdinand’s army at Coesfeld on the 21st. There for the present we must leave them, till the time comes for Ferdinand’s operations to engage our whole attention. Meanwhile the reader need bear in mind only that the British Army is definitely committed to yet another theatre of war.
Even so, however, Pitt remained unsatisfied without another stroke against the French coast. While the troops were embarking for Germany he had formed a new encampment on the Isle of Wight and was intent upon a raid on Cherbourg. So intensely distasteful were these expeditions to the officers of the Army that the Duke of Marlborough and Lord George Sackville used their interest to obtain appointment to the army in Germany, so as to be quit of them once for all. The result was that when Lieutenant-General Bligh, who had been originally selected to serve under Prince Ferdinand, arrived in London from Ireland to sail for Emden, he found to his dismay that his destination was changed, and that he must prepare to embark for France. He accepted the command as in duty bound, the more so since Prince Edward was to accompany the expedition, but he was little fit for the service, having no qualification except personal bravery and one great disqualification in advanced age. Accordingly, obedient but unwilling, he set sail on the 1st of August with twelve battalions and nine troops of light dragoons, escorted by a squadron under Commodore Howe. Not yet had the gallant sailor learned of his succession to the title through the fall of his brother Lord Howe at the head of Lake Champlain.
The expedition began prosperously enough. The fleet arrived before Cherbourg on the 6th and at once opened the bombardment of the town. Early next morning it sailed to the bay of St. Marais, two leagues from Cherbourg, where the Guards and the grenadier-companies, having landed under the fire of the ships, attacked and drove off a force of three thousand French which had been drawn up to oppose them. The rest of the troops disembarked without hindrance on the following day and advanced on Cherbourg, which being unfortified to landward surrendered at once. Bligh thereupon proceeded to destroy the docks and the defences of the harbour and to burn the shipping, while the light cavalry scoured the surrounding country and levied contributions. This done, the troops were re-embarked; and after long delay owing to foul winds the fleet came to anchor on the 3rd of September in the Bay of St. Lunaire, some twelve miles east of St. Malo. There the troops were again landed during the two following days, though not without difficulty and the loss of several men drowned. Bligh’s instructions bade him carry on operations against Morlaix or any other point on the coast that he might prefer to it, and he had formed some vague design of storming St. Malo from the landward side. This, however, was found to be impracticable with the force at his disposal; and now there ensued an awkward complication. The weather grew steadily worse, and Howe was obliged to warn the General that the fleet must leave the dangerous anchorage at St. Lunaire, and that it would be impossible for him to re-embark the troops at any point nearer than the bay of St. Cast, a few miles to westward. Accordingly he sailed for St. Cast, while Bligh, now thrown absolutely on his own resources ashore, marched for the same destination overland.
The army set out on the morning of the 7th of September, and after some trouble with small parties of French on the march encamped on the same evening near the river Equernon, intending to ford it next morning. It speaks volumes for the incapacity of Bligh and of his staff that the passage of the river was actually fixed for six o’clock in the morning, though that was the hour of high water. It was of course necessary to wait for the ebb-tide; so it was not until three in the afternoon that the troops forded the river, even then waist-deep, under a brisk fire from small parties of French peasants and regular troops. Owing to the lateness of the hour further advance on that day was impossible; and on resuming the march on the following morning the advanced guard
encountered a body of about five hundred French troops. The enemy were driven back with considerable loss, but their prisoners gave information of the advance of at least ten thousand French from Brest. Arrived at Matignon Bligh encamped and sent his engineers to reconnoitre the beach at St. Cast in case he should be compelled to retreat. Deserters who came in during the night reported that the French were gathering additional forces from the adjacent garrisons; and in the morning Bligh sent 长沙桑拿按摩论坛 word to Howe that he intended to embark on the following day.
Constant alarms during the night showed that the enemy was near at hand; and it would have been thought that Bligh, having made up his mind to retreat, would in so critical a position have retired as swiftly and silently as possible. On the contrary, at three o’clock on the morning of the 11th the drums beat the assembly as usual, to give the French all the information that they desired; while the troops moved off in a single column so as to consume the longest possible time on the march. It was nine o’clock before the embarkation began, and at eleven, when two-thirds of the force had been shipped, the enemy appeared in force on the hills above the beach. For some time the French were kept at a distance by the guns of the fleet, but after an hour they found 长沙桑拿SPA会所 shelter and opened a sharp and destructive fire. General Drury, who commanded the rear-guard, consisting of fourteen hundred men of the Guards and the grenadiers, was obliged to form his men across the beach to cover the embarkation. Twice he drove back the enemy, but, ammunition failing, he was forced back in turn, and there was nothing left but a rush for the boats. The French bringing up their artillery opened a furious fire; and all was confusion. So many of the boats were destroyed that the sailors shrank from approaching the shore and were only kept to their work by the personal example of Howe. In all seven hundred and fifty officers and men were killed and wounded, General Drury being among the slain, and the rest of the rear-guard were taken prisoners. The fleet and transports made their way back to England in 长沙桑拿洗浴中心 no comfortable frame of mind, for the French naturally magnified their success to the utmost; and so ended Pitt’s third venture against the coast of France.
There can be little doubt but that Bligh must be held responsible for the failure. It should seem indeed that he was ignorant of the elements of his duty, even to the enforcing of discipline among the troops, who at the first landing near Cherbourg behaved disgracefully. The Duke of Marlborough had met with the same trouble at Cancalle Bay, but had had at least the strength to hang a marauding soldier on the first day and so to restore order. But after all Pitt was presumably responsible for the selection of Bligh; or, if he was aware that he could not appoint the right man for such a service, he would have done better to abandon these raids on the French coast altogether. The conduct of Marlborough and Sackville in shirking the duty because it was distasteful to them does not appear commendable; but Sackville at any rate was no fool, and Pitt might at least have recognised the military objections that were raised against his plans. The truth of the matter is, as Lord Cochrane was to prove fifty years later, that sporadic attacks on the French coast are best left to the Navy; for a single frigate under a daring and resolute officer can paralyse more troops than an expedition of ten or fifteen thousand men, with infinitely less risk and expense. Pitt had not yet done with his favourite descents, but his next venture of the kind was to be directed against an island instead of the mainland, when the British fleet could interpose between his handful of battalions and the whole population of France. Meanwhile Cherbourg had at any rate been destroyed, so like a wise man the minister made the most of this success, by sending some of the captured guns with great parade through Hyde Park to the Tower.
The operations already narrated of the year 1758 were of considerable scope, embracing as they did the advance of three separate armies in America, two raids on the French coast, and the despatch of British troops to Germany; but these by no means exhaust the tale. There were few quarters of the globe in which the British had not to complain of French encroachment, and to this insidious hostility Pitt had resolved to put a stop once for all. Five years before, the merchants of Africa had denounced the unfriendliness of the French on the Gambia, who were building forts and stirring up the natives against them. The Royal African Company also, with its monopoly of the slave-trade, was anxious for its line of fortified dep?ts on the West Coast, and prayed to be delivered from its troublesome neighbours at Senegal and in the island of Goree. One of Pitt’s first actions in 1758 was to order an expedition to be prepared against Senegal, a duty for which two hundred marines and twenty-five gunners were deemed a sufficient force. On the 23rd of April Captain Marsh of the Royal Navy sailed into the Senegal river, and by the 30th Fort Louis had surrendered and was flying the British flag. Two hundred men of Talbot’s regiment were at once sent to garrison the new possession, and then for some months there was a pause, while the troops for Germany and Cherbourg were embarking for their destinations. But no sooner was Bligh’s expedition returned than a new enterprise was set on foot, and Captain Keppel of the Royal Navy received secret instructions to convoy Lieutenant-Colonel Worge with Forbes’s regiment and two companies of the Sixty-sixth to the West Coast. Within three weeks the troops were embarked at Kinsale, and by the 28th of December Keppel’s squadron was lying off Goree. On the following day the ships opened fire on the French batteries, and at nightfall the island surrendered, yielding up over three hundred prisoners and nearly an hundred guns. So with little trouble were gained the West African settlements of the French.
But even before Keppel had received his instructions six more battalions were under orders for foreign service; and his squadron had hardly sailed before another fleet of transports was gathering at Portsmouth. Major-General Peregrine Hopson, who had been Governor at Nova Scotia in the difficult years that preceded the outbreak of war, was appointed to the chief command, and Colonel Barrington, a junior officer, was, despite the honourable protests of his brother, the Secretary-at-War, selected to be his second. The expedition was delayed beyond the date fixed for its departure by bad weather, but at length on the 12th of November the transports, escorted by eight ships of the line under Commodore Hughes, got under way and sailed with a fair wind to the west. On the 3rd of January 1759 they reached Barbados, the time-honoured base of all British operations in the West Indies, and there was Commodore Moore waiting with two more ships of the line to join them and to take command of the fleet. After ten days’ stay they again sailed away north-westward before the trade-wind. Astern of them the mountains of St. Vincent hung distant like a faint blue cloud; ahead of them two tall peaks, shaped like gigantic sugar-loaves, rose higher and higher from the sea, and marked the southern end of St. Lucia. Then St. Lucia came abeam, a rugged mass of volcanic mountains shrouded heavily in tropical forest, and another island rose up broad and blue not many leagues ahead, an island which the men crowded forward to see, for they were told that it was Martinique. Still the fleet held on; St. Lucia was left astern and Martinique loomed up larger and bolder ahead; then an islet like a pyramid was passed on the starboard hand, the Diamond Rock, not yet His Majesty’s Ship; a little farther and the fleet was under the lee of the island; yet a little farther and the land shrank back to eastward into a deep inlet ringed about by lofty volcanic hills, and a few useless cannon-shot from a rocky islet near the entrance proclaimed that the French were ready for them in the Bay of Fort Royal.