honour of laying the Prince of Wales * alongside the Spanish Admiral, and to pilot in your squadron, I will answer for the success of the enterprise with my life.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,

"Your most obedient humble servant,

(Signed) "J. A. Wood.

"Sear-Admiral H. Harvey, fyc. fyc. January IS. 1797."

A few days after the date of the above report, Captain Wood was desired by Rear-Admiral Harvey to turn his attention to the mode of attack necessary to be adopted; in consequence of which he submitted to that officer and Sir Ralph Abercrombie the following plan, which, after due consideration they did him the honour to approve of, and signified their determination to carry into execution : —

"Secrecy and the utmost expedition are most earnestly recommended.

"The squadron, with the transports and troops, ought to assemble at the island of Cariaco. It would be proper to leave that island by three o'clock in the afternoon, that the transports and heavy sailing ships might have time to clear the small islands and keys to the southward of it before dark. The squadron might then proceed under easy sail on a S. E. by S. course, so as to arrive well to windward on the north side of Trinidad by two or three o'clock in the afternoon of next day.

"The squadron might then proceed as far to the westward as Sus Manos, or Punta Chupara, the northernmost point of the island, where it might be proper to detach a company of light troops to take possession of the bay and road of Les Quebas, the only road that communicates between the plantations on the north side of the island and the town of Port d'Espagne; this would effectually prevent the enemy having

• The Prince of Wales was Rear-admiral Harvey's flag-ship.

any knowledge of our arrival; or, if thought necessary, a larger body of troops might be landed to take the enemy in the rear, to prevent the men landing from the ships, or to cut off their communication with the country.

"To prevent any alarm, the squadron should keep the coast close on board, (as there is no danger that does not appear, and good anchorage every where along the shore,) and under such sail as to arrive at the Bocas about nine o'clock in the evening. An attentive observer always knows by the appearance of the high hills whether there will be a good breeze or not during the night in the Bocas ; but indeed it is seldom or ever calm in the great Boca at this season of the year.

"The squadron should proceed into the Gulf through the great or southernmost Boca. As soon as the Gulf is entered, the sea is as smooth as a mill-pond, and it is most probable that a stretch of six or seven miles to the southward, and a tack of five or six miles to the northward, will enable the squadron either to enter Shagaramus bay, or to weather it. The troops ought to be immediately embarked in the boats, and an attack made on Gasper Grande, where the enemy have erected a redoubt surrounded with pallisades, since last reconnoitred. Three hundred men would ensure complete success to this attack; the rest of the troops ought instantly to be landed in Trimbladaire Bay, and take possession of the neck of land which separates Point Gourd from the main, where there is nothing to oppose them. By having possession of Point Gourd and Gasper Grande, the enemy's ships have no retreat nor communication with the shore left them, and must fall into our hands. Point Gourd not only commands Shagaramus bay, but also Trimbladaire bay, and is fifty yards higher than Gasper Grande.

"In case any black troops accompany the expedition,, it might be proper to land them on the low marshy land, to the southward of the town, as well to ensure abundant supplies of cattle, as to cut off all communication with the town and this quarter, from whence it draws its chief subsistence.

(Signed) "J. A. Wood."

The successful result of the expedition against Trinidad is well known. We shall therefore content ourselves with observing, that Captain Wood was, immediately after its capture, promoted to the command of the San Damaso, of 74 guns, the only Spanish line-of-battle ship which, at that time, fell into our possession. His post commission was confirmed by the Admiralty, March 27. 1797.

Soon after the above important event, the San Damaso escorted a large fleet of merchantmen to England; but as she was not continued in commission, Captain Wood was appointed to the Garland frigate, then employed at the Cape of Good Hope, under the orders of Sir Hugh C. Christian, by whom he was sent, in company with a small squadron, upon a cruise off the islands of Mauritius and Bourbon, during which intelligence was received that two large French frigates had been committing great depredations in the Indian seas, and were proceeding towards Madagascar.

In consequence of this information, the squadron went in pursuit of the enemy; and at length Captain Wood discovered a large vessel at anchor near the former French settlement of Fort Dauphine. The rest of the ships being to leeward, and unable to work up against the current, the Garland was ordered to examine her, and stood in shore for that purpose; but when arrived within a mile of the enemy, she unfortunately struck with great violence upon a pointed rock, fifteen feet under water, unshipped her tiller, and before Captain Wood could run her into an opening in the reef, had settled so far, that the water was rushing through the midship ports on the main-deck and the hawse-holes. He however succeeded in saving the whole of her crew, rigging, and stores.

The enemy, instead of a frigate, proved to be a large merchant ship, pierced for 21 guns, with a complement of 150 men. She ran ashore on the approach of the Garland; but perceiving the disaster that had befallen that ship, the Frenchmen pushed off in their boats, and endeavoured to recover the possession of their deserted vessel. Very luckily, the Garland's boats, being to windward, first reached and secured her; a circumstance which proved of essential service to Captain Wood and his crew, during their continuance at Madagascar. This event occurred July 26. 1798.

Having succeeded in his endeavours to conciliate the natives, our officer had most of the Frenchmen delivered up to him as prisoners; and, while he remained upon the island, was well supplied with every thing that it afforded. He had built one vessel of 15 tons burthen, and made considerable progress in the construction of another, to carry his men to the Cape of Good Hope; when, at the expiration of four months, the Star sloop of war made her appearance at St. Luce, and in her, the French prisoners were conveyed to the Isle of France; the Garland's officers and men returning to the Cape in their prize, and some small vessels taken by the squadron under Commodore Osborne. *

On Captain Wood's arrival in England he was appointed to the Acasta, one of the finest frigates in the navy, in which he went to the Mediterranean with despatches relative to the treaty of Amiens. On his return he was re-commissioned to the same ship, and sent to the North Sea. We subsequently find him commanding at Guernsey, where he remained until the renewal of hostilities, when he joined Admiral Cornwallis off Brest, and continued to be employed under that excellent officer about eighteen months; part of which time he had the charge of the in-shore squadron, appointed to watch the motions of the enemy.

On the 2d October, 1803, Captain Wood being on a cruise in the Bay of Biscay, discovered, and, after a series of masterly manoeuvres, succeeded in capturing, 1'Aventure de Bourdeaux, a French privateer of 20 guns and 144 men, and retaking three merchant vessels, her prizes. This was a service of great importance to our commerce; as, from the circumstance of the Acasta passing through a large fleet of West Indiamen during the chase, there can be no doubt that many of them would otherwise have been cut off by the privateer, they having previously parted from their convoy.

* During Captain Wood's continuance at Madagascar, he surveyed the coast from Fort Dauphin^ to St. Luce, and about three miles to the southward of the latter place discovered an anchorage within the reef, sufficient to contain a numerous fleet of linc-of-battlc ships.

About this period Captain Wood transmitted to Sir Thomas Trowbridge, then at the Admiralty, the following remarks, which he thought might be useful to the country in the event of a war with Spain. The reason why his suggestion was not acted upon, it is not our province to enquire : —

"Permit me to lay before you a few observations made during my last cruise on the north coast of Spain, which in the event of a war with that country, —an event that appears to me not very distant, — might prove advantageous to his Majesty's service. There are several small ports from Cape Pinas to the eastward of it, from whence the Spaniards draw very considerable quantities of large timber for building lineof-battle ships. This timber is cut in the mountains where it abounds, and during the floods is floated down the numerous rivers along that coast, particularly Riva de Cella, Riva del Campo, Tina Mayor, St. Vincente de la Barquera, and Villa Viciosa. There is water enough for sloops of war and small frigates at Riva de Cella, and Riva del Campo, but the entrance is narrow and would require a pilot. The Acasta watered at Riva de Cella, at which time (the latter end of October, 1803,) there was a quantity of timber floated and floating down the river. The Spanish government at this time had just appointed a person to raise seamen for their navy, as is customary in war time. This man dined on board the Acasta, and informed me of the circumstance. What struck tin..- as of the greatest importance to this country was the fine road, I may almost say harbour, of Mount St. Antonio. This impregnable mountain, which commands the road of St. Antonio, is situated at the west entrance thereof, and is joined to the continent by a low neck of land. On the highest

« ElőzőTovább »