The war in America, amid the absorbing momentousness of the gigantic conflict in Europe, went on with little attention from Ministers at home, and, consequently, with the results which seem destined to attend Britain's campaigns in that quarter. In Canada, which the Americans were particularly anxious to obtain, there was a most meagre and inadequate British force; and, what was much worse, the Ministry still continued there the incompetent governor, Sir George Prevost. The only circumstances to which Britain owed the preservation of those provinces were the loyalty of the people and the sterling bravery of the handful of soldiers. Early in the year 1813 the American general, Dearborn, suddenly approached York, on Lake Ontario, and attacked it, supported by the flotilla under command of Commodore Chauncey. The British had about seven hundred men there, partly regulars, partly militia, with some few Indians. General Sheaffe drew off the main part of his force, and left the rest to capitulate, abandoning a considerable quantity of military and other stores, which were most desirable for the Americans. The British Government ought to have taken care to have had a fleet on the lakes, but this had been neglected, so that the Americans could not be prevented from bearing down on any point of the lake frontiers. Dearborn, having a strong flotilla, embarked the stores he won at York and sailed for Niagara, where he landed at Fort George, with six thousand infantry, two hundred and fifty cavalry, and a good train of artillery. The British there, under Vincent, were not a fourth of the enemy. Vincent, therefore, after some gallant fighting, retired up the strait to Burlington Bay, about fifty miles from Fort George, and, collecting the little garrisons from Fort Erie and other points, found himself at the head of about one thousand six hundred men, and resolved to make a stand. Dearborn, rendered confident by his great superiority of numbers, marched after him, and, on the 4th of June, was seen approaching the British position. He encamped about five miles from Vincent, with three thousand five hundred men and nine pieces of artillery. He intended to attack the next morning, but in this he was forestalled; for Colonel Harvey reconnoitred his camp, and advised General Vincent to assault it at midnight with fixed bayonets. This was done, and though the attacking party numbered only seven hundred and four men, the Americans fled in all directions, leaving two generals, one hundred prisoners, and four pieces of artillery in their hands. Colonel Harvey, who had headed the charge, returned to the British camp loaded with booty. It was expected that, in the morning, when Dearborn ascertained the inferior force of British, he would renew the fight; but after destroying provisions and stores, to facilitate his flight, he decamped, and only halted eleven miles off, where he met with strong reinforcements.MARSHAL SOULT. (From the Portrait by Rouillard.)
[See larger version]After the departure of the British fleet, the Jacobin troops, townsmen, and galley convicts, were perpetrating the most horrible scenes on the unfortunate Toulonese. Even the poor workmen who had been employed by the English to strengthen the defences, were collected in hundreds, and cut down by discharges of grape-shot. Three Jacobin commissioners, the brother of Robespierre, Barras, and Freron, were sent to purge the place, and besides the grape-shot the guillotine was in daily activity exterminating the people. The very mention of the name of Toulon was forbidden, and it was henceforth to be called Port de la Montagne.Prussia, which had remained inactive whilst Buonaparte was winning over Bavaria and Würtemberg to his interests, and while he was crushing Austria, now that she stood alone took the alarm, and complained that the French troops on the Rhine and in the Hanse Towns, which, by the Treaty of Pressburg, ought to have been withdrawn from Germany, remained. The Queen of Prussia and Prince Louis, the king's cousin, were extremely anti-Gallic. They had long tried to arouse the king to resist the French influence in Germany, to coalesce with Austria while it was time, and to remove Haugwitz from the Ministry, who was greatly inclined towards France. The Emperor Alexander professed himself ready to unite in this resistance to France, and Frederick William began now to listen to these counsels. He withdrew his minister, Lucchesini, from Paris, and sent General Knobelsdorff in his place. On the 1st of October Knobelsdorff presented to Talleyrand a long memorial, demanding that the French troops should re-cross the Rhine immediately, in compliance with the Treaty of Pressburg; that France should desist from throwing obstacles in the way of the promotion of a league in North Germany, comprehending all the States not included in the Confederation of the Rhine; and that the fortress of Wesel and those abbeys which Murat, since becoming Grand Duke of Berg and Cleve, had seized and attached to his territory, should be restored.
The brilliant successes of this campaign had clearly been the result of Pitt's plans before quitting office. Bute and his colleagues had no capacity for such masterly policy, and as little perception of the immense advantages which these conquests gave them in making peace. Peace they were impatient for—less on the great grounds that peace was the noblest of national blessings, than because the people grumbled at the amount of taxation—and because, by peace, they diminished, or hoped to diminish, the prestige of the great Minister, who had won such vast accessions to the national territory. Bute was eager to come to terms with France and Spain, regardless of the advantages he gave to prostrate enemies by showing that impatience. Had he made a peace as honourable as the war had been, he would have deserved well of the country; but to accomplish such a peace required another stamp of mind.Encouraged by this unwonted success (for the words of the speaker, reminding them of the coming elections, had sunk deep into many hearts). Dunning immediately moved a second proposition, namely, that it was competent to that House to examine into and correct any abuses of the Civil List, as well as of any other branch of the public revenue. The resolution was carried without a division. Immediately on the heels of this, Thomas Pitt moved that it was the duty of the House to redress without delay the grievances enumerated in the petitions of the people. Lord North implored that they would not proceed any further that night; but this resolution was also put and carried, likewise without division. Immediately, though it was past one o'clock in the morning, Fox moved that all these motions should be reported. Lord North, in the utmost consternation, declared this procedure was "violent, arbitrary, and unusual;" but Fox pressed his motion, and it was carried, like the rest, without a division, and the Report was brought up.The reading of this French note aroused at once the old feeling of enmity between France and England. If there was a strong resentment against the Americans before, it now grew tenfold. The war became popular with all, except the extreme Opposition. Lord North moved an appropriate address to the king; the Opposition moved as an amendment to it that his Majesty should dismiss the Ministers. Loyal addresses from both Houses were, however, carried by large majorities. In consequence of the French note, the king ordered Lord Stormont to quit Paris, and the Marquis de Noailles took his departure from London, where, in spite of his official character, he was no longer safe from popular insult. Orders were also sent to the Lord-Lieutenants of the several counties to call out the militia.
In America, the belligerents were early afoot this year; but the attention and the forces of the English were drawn from the States to the West Indies by the determined attempts of the French to make themselves masters of our islands there. D'Estaing, who was joined by another French squadron under the Marquis de Vaudreuil, was early opposed by Admiral Byron, who arrived at St. Lucia from the American coast on the 6th of January. This Admiral Vaudreuil, on his way, had visited our settlements on the coast of Africa, and taken from us Senegal; but Sir Edward Hughes soon arrived there, and took their settlement of Goree, so that it was a mere exchange of territory. In June Admiral Byron was obliged to escort our merchant fleet to a certain distance, and D'Estaing seized that opportunity to make himself master of St. Vincent and Grenada, where the garrisons were weak. On the return of Byron, on the 5th of July, he came to an engagement with D'Estaing off Grenada; but the French admiral, after an indecisive action, took advantage of the night to sail away, boasting of a great victory. He now made for Georgia and Carolina, to assist the Americans in endeavouring to wrest from us our recent conquest of Savannah, in Georgia.[See larger version]
"I confess that, on the general subject, my views have, in the course of twenty years, undergone a great alteration. I used to be of opinion that corn was an exception to the general rules of political economy; but observation and experience have convinced me that we ought to abstain from all interference with the supply of food. Neither a Government nor a Legislature can ever regulate the corn markets with the beneficial effects which the entire freedom of sale and purchase are sure of themselves to produce.
The campaign in Flanders opened in April. The British faithfully furnished their stipulated number of men (twenty-eight thousand), but both Austria and Holland had most disgracefully failed. Holland was to send fifty thousand into the field, and keep the other ten thousand in her garrisons; but she had sent less than half that number, and Austria only eight squadrons. The French had a fine army of seventy-five thousand men under the able general, Marshal Saxe; and the King of France and the Dauphin had come to witness the conflict, which gave a wonderful degree of spirit to their troops. On the part of the Allies, the Duke of Cumberland was chief in command, but, from his youth, he was not able to set himself free from the assumptions of the Austrian general, old Marshal K?nigsegg, and the Dutch general, the Prince of Waldeck. As it was, to march against the French before Tournay was to rush into a certain contest with the whole French army of nearly eighty thousand men, whilst the Allies could have only about fifty thousand. Saxe made the ablest arrangements for the coming fight. He left fifteen thousand infantry to blockade Tournay, drew up his army in a very strong position a few miles in advance, and strengthened it by various works.In the meantime, coroners' inquests had been held on the two men who were shot by the military. In the one case the jury brought in a verdict of "justifiable homicide;" but, in the other, of "wilful murder" against the soldiers. On their part, the Government offered a reward of five hundred pounds for the discovery of any one who had been guilty of firing at the soldiers, and an additional one of five hundred pounds for the discovery of the person who had fired at and wounded Ensign Cowell, whilst on duty at the Tower, the night after the committal of Sir Francis. The Reform party in the Commons demanded whether the Government did not intend to offer a reward for the discovery of the soldiers who had fired at and wounded several of the people, and killed two of them. Whitbread moved that an inquiry should be instituted into the justice of the verdict of "wilful murder" against the soldiers, and in this he was seconded by William Smith of Norwich; but Captain Agar, who had been on duty, declared that the people had fired the first shot, and the Premier got rid of the question by asserting that an inquiry was already going on into the circumstances of the riot, and that it was not for Parliament to anticipate it.
ADMIRAL RODNEY BOMBARDING LE H?VRE. (See p. 132.)
We left Wellington occupying his impregnable lines at Torres Vedras during the winter, and Massena occupying Santarem. Buonaparte thought he could suggest a mode of putting down the provoking English general which Massena did not seem able to conceive. After studying the relative situations of the belligerents, he sent word to Soult to make a junction with Massena by crossing the Tagus, and then, as he would be much superior in strength, to continually attack Wellington, and cause him, from time to time, to lose some of his men. He observed that the British army was small, and that the people at home were anxious about their army in Portugal, and were not likely to increase it much. Having thus weakened Wellington, as soon as the weather became favourable they were to make an attack from the south bank of the Tagus. But there were two difficulties to overcome of no trivial character in this plan. Wellington was not the man to be drawn into the repeated loss of his men, and the Tagus was too well guarded by our fleet and by batteries for any chance of taking him in the rear. However, Napoleon sent Massena a reinforcement, under General Drouet, who carried along with him a great supply of provisions: he assembled an army in the north of Spain, under Bessières, of seventy thousand men, and Soult moved from Cadiz, leaving Sebastiani to continue the blockade, and advanced to make the ordered junction with Massena. But he deemed it necessary, before crossing into southern Portugal, to take possession of Badajoz. In his advance, at the head of twenty thousand men, he defeated several Spanish corps, and sat down before Badajoz towards the end of February. Could Massena have maintained himself at Santarem, this junction might have been made; but, notwithstanding the provisions brought by Drouet, he found that he had no more than would serve him on a retreat into Spain. He had ten thousand of his army sick, and therefore, not waiting for Soult, he evacuated Santarem on the 5th of March, and commenced his march Spain-ward. Wellington was immediately after him, and the flight and pursuit continued for a fortnight. To prevent Massena from finding a temporary refuge in Coimbra, Wellington ordered Sir Robert Wilson and Colonel Trant to destroy an arch of the bridge over the Mondego, and thus detain him on the left bank of that river till he came up. But Massena did not wait; he proceeded along a very bad road on the left bank of the river to Miranda, on the river Coira. Along this track Massena's army was sharply and repeatedly attacked by the British van under Picton, and suffered severely. Ney commanded the rear-division of the enemy, and, to check the advance of the British, he set fire to the towns and villages as he proceeded, and, escaping over the bridge on the Coira, he blew it up. But before this could be effected, Picton was upon him, accompanied by Pack's brigade and a strong body of horse, and drove numbers of the French into the river, and took much baggage. Five hundred French were left on the ground, and to facilitate their flight from Miranda, which they also burnt, they destroyed a great deal more of their baggage and ammunition. Lord Wellington was detained at the Coira, both from want of means of crossing and from want of supplies; for the French had left the country a black and burning desert. The atrocities committed by the army of Massena on this retreat were never exceeded by any host of men or devils. The soldiers seemed inspired with an infernal spirit of vengeance towards the Portuguese, and committed every horror and outrage for which language has a name. The Portuguese, on the other hand, driven to madness, pursued them like so many demons, cutting off and destroying all stragglers, and shooting down the flying files as they hurried through the woods and hills. The whole way was scattered with the carcases of the fugitives.Trautmansdorff declared that, if necessary, forty thousand troops should be marched into the country; but this was an empty boast, for Joseph had so completely engaged his army against Turkey, that he could only send a thousand men into the Netherlands. On the contrary, the French Revolutionists offered the oppressed Netherlands speedy aid, and the Duke d'Aremberg, the Archbishop of Malines, and other nobles and dignitaries of the Church, met at Breda on the 14th of September, and proclaimed themselves the legitimate Assembly of the States of Brabant. They sent the plainest remonstrances to the Emperor, declaring that unless he immediately repealed his arbitrary edicts, and restored their Great Charter, they would assert their rights by the sword. In proof that these were no empty vaunts, the militia and volunteers again flew to arms. Scarcely a month had passed after the repeal of the Joyeuse Entrée before a number of collisions had taken place between these citizen soldiers and the Imperial troops. In Tirlemont, Louvain, Antwerp, and Mons blood was shed. At Diest, the patriots, led on by the monks, drove out the troops and the magistrates. Dalton and Trautmansdorff, instead of fulfilling their menace, appeared paralysed.
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?"The spirit of Choiseul having departed from the French administration, and the king having so unequivocally expressed his intention not to go to war, the Spanish Court hastened to lower its tone and offer conciliatory terms. In December they had proposed, through Prince de Masserano, to disavow the expedition of Buccarelli, if the English Court would disown the menaces of Captain Hunt. This was promptly refused, and orders were sent to Mr. Harris to quit the capital of Spain. He set out in January, 1771, but was speedily recalled; the expedition of Buccarelli was disavowed; the settlement of Port Egmont was conceded, whilst the main question as to the right of either party to the Falklands at large was left to future discussion. So little value, however, did Britain attach to the Falkland Isles, that it abandoned them voluntarily two years afterwards. For many years they were forsaken by both nations; but in 1826 the Republic of Buenos Ayres adopted them as a penal colony, and in 1833 the British finally took possession of them.详情
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