Monthly Archives: May 2016

Siege of Minorca April to June 1756: 20 May to 31 May 1756

May 21st. Two Deserters came in from the Enemy, one of the Royal Regiment, the other of the Royal Italians; one of them was drunk and would not own himself to be any more than a prisoner; the other informed us they had been lately reinforced, and were under Arms the day our Fleet appeared off; this night they threw many shells; their Fleet to the East.  These Deserters informed us that the Enemy are in search of our mines, but differ with regard to the spot where they are countermining; they likewise informed us, that there had been an engagement between the two Fleets, and that ours had been worsted; that the French Army now consists of near eighteen thousand. The Guards changed their hour of Mounting to three o’clock in the morning, in order that a greater number of Men, might be under Arms at the time when it is apprehended we are most liable to be attacked.

May 22nd. About sun set the Enemy fired a Feu de joye, and at the end of each fire gave us a general discharge from their Batteries of both Guns and Mortars; their small shot came into the works but did no harm; they threw very few shells at night. The Feu de joye was on account of the engagement between the French and English Fleets, the latter of which through the ill conduct of the Admiral was obliged to retreat and go back to Gibraltar; a very few of the English Ships were engaged, but they behaved extremely well.  The Enemy’s fleet in sight all day close at the back of Cape Mola, most of them with their boats astern.

May 23rd. The Enemy began to Bombard early in the Morning, fired smartly about daybreak, and continued the rest of the day as usual, they opened two more Embrazures at their Battery by the burying Ground to play on the Queen’s Redoubt, this Battery has now six Embrazures. The Enemy’s fleet in sight and very close in shore; the Enemy seen all this afternoon driving beasts into St Philips loaded with Fascines.

May 24th. The Enemy fire very moderate to day; their fleet before the harbour. They Cannonaded the Queens Redoubt with two Guns from the Battery near the Burying ground.

May 25th. The Enemy threw few shells in the Night, we fired a Carcass to their Battery, by the old burying ground, and gave them many shells; about day break they fired both their Cannon and Mortars, but not with great violence; in the Evening their Fleet stood to the Northward behind Cape Mola.  The Enemy’s Carriages heard between the Town Guard and burying ground, they are repairing and increasing that Battery.

May 26th. The Enemy threw a great many shells today, most of which burst in the Castle square; their fleet behind Cape Mola; we imagine the Enemy are carrying on a Battery behind a mount commonly called Turk’s Mount, a little above Marlborough fort towards the sea, by which we think they intend to oppose the entrance of any Ships into the harbour. They have added a great Quantity of Earth to their Battery near the burying Ground, they have five Guns at the burying Ground battery but fire very little from them, two of them bear upon the West face of the Queen’s Redoubt and have impaired it greatly.

May 27th. The Enemy threw but few shells in the night; we fired as usual, particularly on the Town. The Enemy’s fleet to the Eastward of Cape Mola.  For several days past the Enemy has given us very little annoyance, nor does it yet appear that they have made any great progress towards the acquisition of the place, or have proceeded with the vigour that might be apprehended from so formidable an Army, as we are informed they have invested the place with.

May 28th. The Enemy fired little in the night, and we kept a smart fire as usual; their Fleet appeared off the harbour, and we counted 27 Sail, but no addition of Men of War; several of the Ships parted from the Fleet in the afternoon, and went to the Eastward; it is imagined these Vessels have brought them either more Troops, or Stores. The Lieut. Governor had a dish of fish at his Table, killed by the explosion of a shell in the Water at St Stephen’s Cove.

May 29th. The Enemy were very quiet in the night, not firing at all and but little the whole day. In the morning their Fleet was so near the harbour, that several of their ships were in danger of being ashore near Turks Mount, it being almost calm, but they were towed off again. They fired several shot last night at a Vessel passing the Harbour’s mouth, which hoisted French Colours, but struck them upon their firing. They have now seven Mortars at their Battery by Major Innes’s; about seven o’clock this Evening they fired upon us from a ricochet battery of three Guns, and two Mortars which lie concealed behind a rocky part, a little to the right of Turks Mount, most of their shot went clean over the Castle. It does not appear they have much repaired their Battery near the burying ground.

May 30th. The Enemy threw very few shells last night, and fired in the morning Cannon from Turks Mount; we directed a Carcass and fire balls to their Battery, and gave them many shells and Cannon Shot; their smartest fire was in the morning, being pretty moderate the rest of the day; one of their shells set fire to half a barrel of Powder on Argyle fort, by which accident 40 Cohorn shells fired, and burst on the Battery, but hurt nobody. They fire very little from their Gun Battery by the burying Ground, four Embrazures of which are now filled up and the whole Battery very much damaged by our constant fire of Shot & Shells upon it.

May 31st. The Enemy fired little last night, but we heard a great many Carriages passing the back of the Town towards Stanhope’s Tower; we made a smart fire upon all parts of the Town; theirs was moderate today; some of our Shells, and a Carcass, being too near the Mortar, took fire on the top of the Castle, but nobody was hurt; their Fleet off the Harbour. The Genoese Vessel ordered to be lilted for sea.  It is discovered that the Enemy have collected a great Quantity of Earth, at the back of the fives Court near Stanhope’s Tower.

Siege of Minorca April to June 1756: 11 May to 20 May

May 11th. In the night the Enemy lengthened their work by the burying place, and were also working by the water side near the House where Major Innes lived; we threw Shot and Shells to all parts of the Town to annoy them, and at night fired two vollies of our Mortars and Cannon.  A great noise of heavy wheel Carriages heard last night between Stanhope’s Tower, and the Town. The Enemy’s fleet in sight to the South East. Captain Flight was of opinion that by firing a Volley from all the Guns that bore on the Enemy’s Gun Battery at Cape Mola, he could effectually silence it in a very short time; instead of which we only now and then fired a shot; and that, on account of the weakness of our own Works.

May 12th.  The Enemy having been discovered working near Major Innes’s, two 32 Pounders were brought from the Royal Battery to Argyle’s covered way, to fire at the wall behind which they were. We heard them very plainly at work near the burying place, towards which we fired; and threw many Shells the whole Night. About half an hour after Nine at Night they opened a Battery of five Mortars at Water Tower near Major Innes’s, and in about an hour another of Three Mortars in the burying ground near Witham’s five Court; from both these they played with great fury the whole night, throwing above 200large shells; we returned them however many more, tho’ less in size; ours being mostly Cohorns from the lunettes, to annoy their working parties. They dismounted a 32 Pounder on the Royal Battery, and an 18 pounder on the top of the Castle. The Rattling of the Enemy’s Carriages was heard last night, about the same ground as the night before. The Boom this night fell down as far as the ditch of the Anstruther. Four men had a very particular escape from a shell of the Enemy’s, which run down a passage after them and burst in the corner thereof by a necessary house, cut in the Rock, but it did no other damage, than blowing two of them into it, tearing away the seats so as to leave no remains of them, and breaking three or four firelocks to pieces, as likewise the door, the men not being in the least hurt. One of the Gunners had his leg shot off, by a Cohorn Mortar which hung fire.

May 13th. The Enemy seems to have extended their work, they Bombarded us all Day, which we returned, though chiefly in the night to the Town, where we fired some platoons of small Arms. One of the French Soldiers was wounded on the glacis, and fetched in; he was of Soissonnois’s Regiment, and in too much pain from his wounds to admit of many interrogations at that time; however the intelligence he did give, was that the French Army consisted of three Brigades, but that more was expected; that in a day or two the Besiegers would open two more Batteries, one of eight Guns near the spot of the Windmills, and one of three Guns in the lower end of the Town; that the Regiment he belongs to was ordered to the assistance of the Gunners; that he was one of a party of pioneers of three hundred men; that the working parties were covered by Grenadiers and Volunteers, and that tho Guards were of about fifty Men each. Our fire was so brisk, that we destroyed part of their Fascine work by the Windmills or burying ground.  We were informed by two Minorquin Women who came to the Barrier, that the Serjeant and private man sent out last reconnoitering, had fallen into the hands of the French, and were prisoners at Mahon. Upon a farther observation of the Enemy’s works, it was judged necessary to make a Battery in the place of Arms before the Bridge of the N. W. outward Ravelin.

May 14th. We kept a very smart fire on the Enemy’s works near the burying Ground, and greatly annoyed them; we heard from the prisoner taken yesterday, that a Battery was to be opened in the morning.

May 15th. We found the Enemy’s works not to be so far advanced as we expected, a Shell of the Enemy’s fired five Guns upon the N. Counter Guard, which went off together by the Ammunition on the Battery taking fire; it hurt nobody, but did great damage to the Battery; we threw several Shot into the Town, and in the night cut some Embrazures more obliquely to bear on the Battery the Enemy were raising near the old burying ground. Tho Enemy threw very few shells this night; three Embrazures seen in the Enemy’s work near the burying ground.

May 16th. We fired briskly on the Enemy’s work by the old burying ground; in the afternoon they beat a Parly, the Officer who came in from the General of the Day, brought an instrument which the Spaniards use to catch the ink fish, which they pretended had been fired at them unlawfully: we could never find out that this had been done, and concluded it to be a trick to gain time; about two hours after the Officer was dismissed, we played our Batteries again with great fury, continuing the whole night, and directing all our fire against the Battery they were preparing to open by the old burying Ground. Some of the Enemy’s Fleet in sight from the West.  This Day a shell of the Enemy’s blew up a Barrel and 1/2 of Powder, and fired some shells on the Queen’s Redoubt, but hurt nobody. They continue working in the hollow way by Water Tower, but it does not yet appear that they are opening any Embrazures.

May 17th.  Early this morning the Enemy opened a Battery of 4 Guns by the old burying Ground, and another of 4 Howitzers by Stanhope’s Tower; from which they fired with great fury, throwing in the Night upwards of 300 ricochet shells.  In the Morning Mr. Boyd went to the French Commander in the trenches, with an answer to the remonstrance of the Day before. In the afternoon a French Officer came with a Letter for the Lieut. Governour, but as he would not submit to be blindfolded he was not admitted into the works, but waited on the glacis till an answer was brought him; he insisted no Officer should be blindfolded, as Mr. Boyd had not been in the morning j notwithstanding the custom of it was pleaded; and an instance given of Lord George Sackville who was treated that way when he went from the Duke of Cumberland to Marshal Saxe, during the late War in Flanders.  The French Fleet in sight off the harbour’s mouth. The Enemy threw up Traverses of Fascines, Earth, and Gabions, at the end of most of the Streets to cover their people passing and repassing.

May 18th. About 2 o’clock in the Morning a shell from the Enemy set fire to some Powder at the N. W. inward Ravelin, which threw down a communication bridge, and a great part of the counterscarp into the main ditch, this covered and shut up a Subterranean apartment where two Familys were quartered; they were however all by timely assistance dug out and saved, except one woman who was suffocated.  At Day break a smoke was discovered at the same place, and it was found upon examination that the Match and Paper Cartridges were on fire; this alarmed the whole Garrison and everybody’s assistance was called for; it was however by pulling out the stores soon extinguished though with the loss of six or seven men killed or wounded, by two shells from the Enemy which fell among the crowd, at that time very great; this accident has very much shattered the Ravelin, entirely ruined the gorge of it; and filled that part of the Main ditch with so much rubbish, as would greatly facilitate a descent into it.  In the afternoon the Besiegers discovered to us two Embrazures they had opened behind a wall to the right of the gabionade near Major Innes’s House, but a constant fire of our 32 Pounders being kept upon them from the Argyle covered way they were soon rendered useless.

May 19th. In the Morning a Shell from the Enemy broke into one of the subterranean apartments near the well in the Center of the Castle, where it burst and killed five Sailors, and wounded two, who were asleep in their Beds. A Serjeant of the Artillery had his Leg shattered by a shell on the top of the Castle, of which he died. At Daybreak the Besiegers shewed six Embrazures in their work near the burying Ground, from this and their bomb Batteries they made a very brisk fire, having been pretty quiet during the night.  About one o’clock a Fleet of 17 Sail appeared from the West with English Colours; the Admiral carrying a Blue Flag at the Main Top Mast Head, and the rear Admiral a Red Flag at the Mizzen; the Garrison seemed Convinced they were our own Fleet, their Ships being much larger than those of the French which we had seen not long before, but their coming pretty near to us without sending in even a boat, where the communication was so safe and short, and their standing o)f again where there was not even the least appearance of Danger, brought us all (a very few indeed excepted) to conclude this Fleet to have nothing English about it. The Council of War about 7 o’clock at night sent Mr. Boyd in a boat to this Fleet, whose behaviour in standing off, could not be accounted for; when he had got a little way from St Stephens Cove, a large party of the Enemy fired at him with Small Arms, he likewise sustained some Cannon Shot which did him no harm, and was pursued by two small Vessels, which missed him in the night, by the favour of which he returned, not being able to come up with this supposed English Fleet which stood off again; the Enemy’s Troops beat to Arms at the sight of the Fleet, and were all drawn out of their Camp, they did not fire till night, when they threw about 100 shells, their Carriages were heard in several parts of the Town. This night the Garrison were very alert, least the Enemy should upon this occasion make an attack. Mr. Boyd discovered that the Enemy were forming a very strong Battery upon the Coast; which he says must be designed to Command the usual Anchoring place called the moorings; and between six or eight hundred of the Enemy upon the Hills looking at the Fleet, which we afterwards understood were the Piquets of the Army, turned out to guard the Coast. The Enemy hoisted a red Flag at the signal house, and made fires or smoaks on different rising grounds.

May 20th. The Enemy’s works by Major Innes’s were greatly demolished, and the houses thereabouts battered down by four 32 Prs we kept continually playing on them from the covered way of Argyle. In the afternoon the Enemy’s Battery by the old burying ground took fire, on which we played them very smartly with shells, Cannon shot and Musquetry; till it was extinguished, they returned us Small Arms from the Town to draw our fire from their battery, which was much torn and demolished; they opened a Battery at Stanhopes Tower, from which they fired several ricochet Shot; fewer shells than usual were thrown by them to day, and those came chiefly from Major Innes’s and the Turks mount above Marlborough Fort.  The Fleet this morning is out of sight, but from the signal they were seen yesterday to make of descrying an Enemy, it is hoped they are in Chace of the French Fleet, as a Ship, supposed to be one of the French scouts, was discerned at the same time the signal was made. Several ships came in sight again from the Southward, with a very light breeze from the S. W. and were near three Leagues distant at sunset.

Siege of Minorca April to June 1756: 1 May to 10 May 1756

May 1st. A Drummer came in from the Enemy to the Governor, with a Letter, contents not known, and was sent back in an hour or two; supposed to be to demand a French Criminal which had been carried away by Captain Noel.  Mr. Boyd went out with the Drummer, and took that opportunity to walk up to the ground where two Windmills had been pulled down, but could not discover any works begun on that side; nor does it appear that they have begun any Batteries, or brought up any Cannon as yet.  An alarm was purposely given to try the readiness of the Troops, when they all appeared at their posts; the piquet ordered to mount at sunset, to continue at their posts all night; and hold themselves in readiness till sunset next Day, till relieved by the New piquet. The French Fleet off the harbour. Three Spanish Boats went off from the Western part of the Island, to the Enemy’s Fleet; and continued amongst them till evening.

May 2d. General Blakeney sent a Drummer to the Marshall, the message not known. About Evening a large party of the Enemy’s Pioneers and Spaniards marched round to Cape Mola. We fired from the Queen’s Redoubt at a Ship coming out of a Creek, by Quarentine Island, we imagined she had carried Stores to the N. E. side of the harbour, where from the number of people frequently seen there, it is conjectured that the French are carrying on some work; but Night coming on and the Vessel getting behind the Island, we were prevented from having any more than three shot at her. The French Fleet in sight.

May 3rd. We fired some Cannon Shot at the Enemy’s Partys passing to and from Cape Mola, and threw some Shells which seemed to put them in great confusion. Mr. Chissel was sent over to Capo Mola to make what discoveries he could, who brought us word the Enemy were at work where we judged them to be. A French Soldier came towards the principal Barrier, and by his gestures seemed inclined to desert; he was encouraged so to do, and some went over the Palissadoes to conduct him in, but he then turned back and made off, upon which the Sentrys were ordered to fire upon him, and he was killed. The Enemy’s Fleet to leeward, a great distance off, Several Guns were fired from the Queen’s Redoubt at a very considerable party of the Enemy who were marching along the Hills on the N. E. side of the harbour, many of them appeared to be Pioneers. A very strong party were seen this Morning at Cape Mola signal House, where they were relieving their Guard. A considerable body of the Enemy were collected on the neck of Land adjoining to Cape Mola, where, it being imagined that they were busied in forming some Battery, several Shots were fired at them, and some Shells thrown, one of which upon its bursting made them disperse, and quit the place.

May 4th. We fired from the Queen’s Redoubt at the Enemy’s Parties passing May «h. the Neck of Land to Cape Mola. The Enemy’s Fleet in sight off the harbour’s mouth. The Duty being very hard upon the Subalterns, on application to Lieut. Colonel Jefferys the Adjutants were ordered to mount their Guards; and for their further ease, one Sub: was taken from the Carolina, and one from Kane. It having been found inconvenient to do Duty by the Long Roll; it was therefore changed; for in case of an alarm when the Regiments are out, Officers may be wanting to some, it is thought necessary to alter the method of mounting Guards, and their Duties, and to do them by Roster, by which means a more equal Number of Officers of each Regiment are off Duty.  We fired Cannon, and threw several Shells, to the other side of the harbour; the Enemy carrying on a work on Cape Mola. This day the Islanders ceased bringing Vegetables and other refreshments to the Garrison, it being forbid by the Enemy.

May 5th. The French Fleet to the West. We fired shot and three Shells at the Enemy, who were bringing Fascines over the Top of the Hill at Cape Mola. This night Carcasses were thrown to Cape Mola, as we had been informed the besiegers had broke ground there, the third instant.

May 6th. This morning we discovered a work the Enemy had carryed on, on the brow of the hill of Cape Mola; higher than, or above, the level of the top of the Castle; it appears like a Battery, and joins the old Wall near to the Sea: we also perceived another work of Fascines, we fired several Shot at these works. Last night two Men were sent out to reconnoiter, who went up the Line Wall, and through the Streets of St Philips, from Water Tower to Stanhope’s Tower; but discovered nothing of the Enemy’s proceedings.

May 7th. We discovered for certain that the Enemy’s work by the old Wall on Cape Mola, was a Battery of five Embrazures with sand bags in them, we fired at it continually from the East Counter Guard, as we did at the other work from Charles’s Fort; we discontinued firing in afternoon, but gave them about 70 shot and some Shells in the Night.  Their Fleet off the Harbour every day. An 8 inch Mortar burst, and an 18 Pounder flawed so, as to be condemned; A Serjeant and a Private Soldier were sent out to reconnoitre, but they did not return any more. The masonry of our works gives way by the explosion of our own Guns. All works in the Garrison are now carried on during the Night.

May 8th. At break of Day the Enemy opened two Batteries, one by the old Wall on Cape Mola, where they had 5 Guns of different natures, the highest of which seemed to be 26 Pounders, the other a Fascine Battery of 4 Mortars, their largest 13 Inch; from which they played very smart on the Castle, and Queen’s Redoubt; it was returned from the top of the Castle, from most of the works on that side, and from two Guns at the Queens Redoubt; in about two hours their fire slackened, only one or two of their Guns playing, and those chiefly against the center of the Castle.  At night we fired both Cannon arid Small Arms on a party of the Enemy heard at work by the burying Ground in the Town, they returned some small shot. A Shot of the Enemy’s fired one of our Guns, which went into the harbour. They dismounted a Gun on St Stephen’s Battery, and one at S. W. Lunette.  Two Soldiers of Lord Effingham’s Regiment were killed by one of our own Guns not being sufficiently Sponged; this day there was an order not to fire the same Gun above once an hour; there being many bad Guns, and the Embrazures slight.

May 9th. In the Evening a party of the Enemy approached towards the Glacis of Marlborough Fort, they were fired at with Small Arms, which they returned and retired behind the wall on the top of the Hill; keeping an irregular fire for near two hours; we sent them a few Shot from Carolina’s lunette, the new Tenaille, and Hospital Battery; from tho Marlborough several Cohorn Shells were directed up the Hill at them, some shells were also thrown to the Town near tho old burying ground, where we heard the Enemy at work, as were some Carcasses to give light.  Some of the Enemy’s fleet in sight.

May 10th. We cannonaded each other across the harbour, and the Enemy threw a great many Shells into our works from their Mortar Battery on Cape Mola; we likewise poured a great number of Cohorn shells into the Town to annoy the Enemies Workmen; It is apprehended that the Enemy are forming a Battery near where tho two Windmills were destroyed.  This day an order was given that none of the Batteries should fire without orders from the Field Officer of the Day, but the inconveniency of this being discovered, the order was revoked; and the time for firing left to the direction of the Officers commanding the Guards. The Enemy’s fleet in sight from the Westward.

Siege of Minorca April to June 1756: Middle of April to 30 April 1756

Taken from the following:

Anonymous, “Siege of Minorca, 1756 By an Officer who was Present at the Siege.” Minutes of Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, Vol. XX, 1893, pp. 537–544, 555–565.

Though the Garrison of Minorca had for several Months before been informed of the preparations the French were making at Toulon, and the adjacent Towns in the South of France, it was not till this night that all were fully convinced the Armament was intended against Minorca.

About 10 o’clock at night the Packet came in, the Captain of her, Mr. Hope Jun brought the first certain account that the French Fleet were sailed, having been in company with them about a Day without being taken notice of.

The Officer of the Town Guard Lieut. Inglish, was sent for about 12 o’clock at night by Col Jefferys and desired to walk about the Streets and observe if any of the Inhabitants were moving; he returned and acquainted him upon his second visiting the Town that they had got notice of the account brought, for that the whole were stirring; he was told he might look upon this as an alarm and open his orders, which he did; and in pursuance thereof put his Guard under Arms, and sent to the Serjeant of the Quay Guard, and likewise to the Serjeant of St Stephens; who was to march out by St Stephens Cove, to open their orders; upon which these three Guards dividing themselves so as to form a Chain of Sentries along the Line wall from St Stephens cove to the Quay, and in five Minutes were so posted, that neither man nor beast could escape their notice.

April 17th. The French Fleet appeared off Fornelle, consisting of 12 Sail of Men of War, and a vast number of Transports; and the Company of Col Rich’s Regiment Quartered there marched for St. Philips; the Guards were augmented, the Town Guard to 60 men, a Captain at Marlborough Fort, a Subaltern at the principal Barriers, a Subaltern at St Stephens, and a Subaltern at the Royal Battery; and everybody prepared to go in to the Castle.

April 18th. Early this morning the French Fleet appeared in sight of Ciudadella, on which the five Companies of Col Rich’s with two Field Pieces marched for St Philips. In the afternoon the French began their Disembarkation at, and near to Ciudadella. Major Cunningham went out with a Party of Pioneers who with a party of Col Rich’s commanded by Lieut. Kennedy, endeavoured to destroy the Road; they were covered by a Captain’s Command from Mahon, and returned to St. Philip’s Castle at night.

April 19th. A Field Officer’s Party was left at Mahon, and Col Cornwall’s Regiment quartered there marched in to the Castle; as did also the Regiment quartered in the Town of St Philips.

April 20th. A mine was sprung under the Friary hill at Mahon to destroy tho Road; a Captain’s command was sent to English Cove, and another to middle mount to cover tho retreat of the Field Officer’s party at Mahon; which marched in the Evening bringing with them 3 Spaniards taken in the Streets, the rest having fled and secured themselves. The French came, this night to Alaor. Commodore Edgecombe in the Deptford, and Captain Lloyd in the Chesterfield sailed.

April  21st. The Princess Louisa, Captain Noel, the Portland, Captain Baird, and the Dolphin with 30 men under the Command of Lieut. O’Hara, sailed out of the harbour ; Captain Scroope with the rest of the Dolphin’s Crew were left behind to strengthen the Garrison as were likewise all the Marines under the command of Capt Mason and two Lieuts, with a Detachment from Gibraltar that was on board the Deptford, commanded by Lieut. Devoisrie; It is said that Capt Baird was very much for the men of War remaining to reinforce the Garrison, which had no other addition but what we have mentioned above, some Greeks and a very few Spaniards. This day the Enemy appeared on this side Mahon. A part of the Garrison was employed in bringing in empty Wine Casks from the Town, and in destroying tho Fascine Battery that was erected at the Quay; to defend the entrance of the harbour.

April 22nd. General Blakeney sent out a Drummer to the Marshal Duke De Richelieu who commanded the French forces, to know the reason of his invading the Island in an Hostile manner (or to that effect). The fire-ship was sunk this day at the entrance of the Harbour. The Lieut. Governor proposed to Captain Scroope, that the boom which was to have been laid across the harbour to obstruct its entrance, might be cut and brought away; but it was Capt. Scroop’s opinion it would he attended with too much difficulty, as it was so firmly secured with Anchors and Chains.  In the night the Enemy took the Prizes, that were left by the Men of War, up to Mahon.

April 23rd. The Marshal sent back the Drummer (who had been taken to his April head Quarters at Alaor, where their Encampment then extended near a mile; in going and returning they blind folded him, at middle Mount; where they then had their advanced Guard; In his return before he came to Mahon, he observed several Pieces of Cannon in the road) with an answer; that he came to take possession of the Island, for the same reason that his Britannick Majesty had taken possession of the French Ships (or to that effect). The Enemy had lighted up fires in a line from behind middle mount to Stanhope’s Tower, and a pretty considerable distance further off.

April 24th. The Town Guard continued in St Philip’s, being now augmented to a Captain’s party, The Enemy at a small distance. Today the French Fleet came before the Harbour from the West, and stood South East.

April 25th The French Fleet appeared at S. E. standing for the Harbour all „ the Batteries to the sea were manned to oppose them, but they tacked again and stood S. W. The principal Barrier and Sally port by the N. E. Ravelin, were this morning begun to be walled up.

April 26th. The French Fleet appeared to the S. of the harbour and remained there till Evening, Cruising off and on; and then brought to. The Admiral detached 3 of his Squadron to the E. in Chace, the Wind W.; at night the French Fleet stood to the W. A Drummer of the Enemy’s came in with a letter from the Duke De Richelieu relating to an Officer’s Lady left behind at Ciudadella, and was dispatched again in about two hours. In the night several signal Guns were heard from the French Fleet, and false fires seen from them.

April 27th. Alarmed about one o’clock this Morning by a report that a Ship was „ attempting the harbour, but it proved false. The Castle brought to an Anchor under her Guns, a Ship of the Island from Genoa bound to Mahon, which was coining in to the harbour; The Enemy marched a large party to Stanhope’s Tower, about noon they fired small Arms from a Window, and there were some shot exchanged on both sides. Their Fleet appeared in sight from the West.

April 28th. The French Fleet stood from the S. West within a League of the harbour, then Tacked, stood south and lay to, till dark; our sea Batteries were all Manned. The Guards began to parade this Morning in the Subterranean Communications.  Boats with some of the Enemy in them, are frequently seen passing near Quarantine Island. Today we heard that the Enemy were in want of Water, and were on that account obliged to move their Camp.

April 29th. The Gunners were ordered to lay at the long storehouse near the sea, to be ready on any alarm from that Quarter; the French Fleet to the East, several Guns fired from the Enemy’s Fleet at sea, in the night; and great lights through the Line of the French Camp. As we have no intelligence from the French or Minorquins, it is impossible to ascertain the strength of their Army, the extent of their Camp, or become acquainted with the progress they make.

April 30th. We fired some Cannon at a party of the Enemy reconnoitering at Phillipit, who retired immediately; the Prince of Wirtemberg was one of them. The French Fleet appeared from the Southward, they consisted of 19 Sail, from whence it is conjectured they had taken some of our merchant Vessels. A few of the Enemy were seen in the Vineyards about three quarters of a mile from the Marlborough, who immediately made off on the firing some Wall pieces and small Arms.


Chronology of Events for May 1756

May 1, 1756: The First Treaty of Versailles is signed. France and Austria form a military alliance.

May 2, 1756: Admiral Byng’s squadron, after having encountered much bad weather, arrived at Gibraltar, where Byng learnt the strength of the French squadron; and that it had already escorted a large body of troops to Minorca, and obtained possession of the whole island, with the exception of Fort St. Philip.

May 8, 1756: Sir Edward Hawke, with part of his squadron, arrived at Spithead.

May 8, 1756: On the 8th of May the British squadron sailed from Gibraltar and on the 16th reached Majorca, where intelligence was received, fully confirming that which had been obtained at Gibraltar.

May 11, 1756: A message was sent by his Majesty to both Houses of Parliament, signifying, “That his Majesty being desirous to be prepared against all attempts and designs whatsoever that may be formed by his enemies, in the present critical juncture, and considering that sudden emergencies may arise, which may be of the utmost importance, and be attended with the most pernicious consequences, if proper means should not be immediately applied to prevent or defeat them; his Majesty hoped, that he should be enabled by his parliament, to concert and take such measures, as should be necessary to disappoint or defeat any enterprises or designs of his enemies, and as the exigency of affairs may require.” For which message both Houses voted l loyal and dutiful address to his Majesty.

May 11, 1756: The new commander of New France, Marquis Louis Joseph de Montcalm, arrives in North America along with much needed reinforcements.

May 15, 1756: The Queenborough man of war with forty-five sail of transports will the Hessian troops on board, consisting о 5500 foot, and 800 horse, arrived at Southampton.

May 16, 1756: “Amsterdam, May 16. We have advice, that 16 men of war belonging to Sweden and Denmark, and some frigates, have joined near Elseneur, and that the admirals of the two nations have received orders from their respective courts to draw lots, when they come to a certain latitude, which shall command in chief the combined fleet. It is reported, that these ships are all double manned. Their destination is variously talked of.  Some pretend that they are designed to hinder the transporting of any Russian troops to Great-Britain. Others day, that this squadron is only intended to protect the navigation of the two crowns.”

May 17, 1756: His Majesty in council was pleased to order, that a commission should be prepared, to authorize and empower the lords of the Admiralty to grant letters of marque or commission to privateers.

May 17, 1756: Early in the morning, the 50-gun ship Colchester, and 20-gun ship Lyme, Captains Lucius O’Brien and Edward Vernon, being off the Isle of Oleron, chased two sail. At 5h. P.M., the Colchester arrived up with the sternmost, which was the 50-gun ship Aquilon, and engaged her very closely; while the Lyme brought to action her consort, the 32-gun frigate Fidelle. After an action of six hours’ duration, the French ships made off, leaving the Colchester and Lyme much damaged in hull and rigging, with the loss of a great many men.

May 18, 1756: War was declared against the French king, and notice was given at the post office, that no mail would go between these kingdoms and France.

May 19, 1756: [Off Minorca] At daybreak, having had a fine wind during the preceding night, the fleet comprising 15 ships of the line and 3 sloops arrived in sight of Minorca, and the admiral dispatched the Phoenix to reconnoiter Port Mahon, and ascertain the possibility of throwing supplies into Fort St. Philip, as also with a letter to General Blakeney, the commandant of the garrison. In the meanwhile the squadron made every effort to get inshore, but the appearance of the French fleet quickly changed the nature of the British admiral’s movements. His first object was to strengthen his weakest-manned ships from the crews of the smaller vessels, and he converted the Phoenix into a fire-ship.  Towards night, the French squadron of Admiral de la Galissonière had neared the British squadron within a few miles, when they tacked, to obtain the weather gage, but Byng possessing at that time this advantage, tacked also. The two fleets therefore continued working to windward all night, with light variable airs of wind, and at daybreak on the 20th, they were not visible to each other.

May 20, 1756: [Off Minorca] The Defiance, a little after daybreak, captured a tartan containing a reinforcement of men from Minorca for the French fleet, and shortly afterwards the latter was discovered to leeward, but at so great a distance that it was 2 P.M. before Byng considered it necessary to form his order of attack. The signal was then made for the British squadron in two lines to bear away two points, and engage the enemy. Rear-Admiral West, whose division was leading, misinterpreting the signal, bore up seven points; and at 2:45 P.M. the Defiance, in the most spirited manner, engaged the van ship of the enemy. The other ships of Rear-Admiral West’s division engaged with equal gallantry, and the action soon became general with the British van, and the French van and centre. The French ships were under topsails only, with their main-topsails to the mast. Byng, with his division, shortly afterwards bore up to the support of his rear-admiral; but the Intrepid, the last ship of the leading division, had not been long in action ere her foretopmast was shot away, and, in a manner wholly unaccountable, threw the centre division astern of her into confusion. The loss of a foretopmast to a ship sailing with the wind on her quarter ought not to have been attended with any material consequences, and the only effect it would have had upon experienced seamen would have been, that the ships astern would have passed the disabled ship to leeward, and have continued to close the enemy. It is impossible to justify the proceedings of Admiral Byng, and the ships of his division. The Intrepid rounded to, and threw all a-back, but not before she was in such a position as to engage the ship opposed to her in the line with effect. The Revenge, the ship next astern, luffed up, in order to pass the Intrepid to windward, but did not in fact pass her at all, as she remained upon the Intrepid’s weather quarter. The Princess Louisa and Trident were also brought to by the same cause, as well as the Ramillies, bearing the admiral’s flag. The latter ship did not get into action at all, although her crew wasted much ammunition by firing when out of gun-shot;  neither did the Revenge, Trident, Culloden, or Kingston. The division of Rear-Admiral West, which led, suffered most; and had the French not filled, and made sail after about three hours’ cannonading, his ships must inevitably have fallen into their hands. The four 74-gun ships of the French fleet mounted 42-pounders on the lower deck, and the 64-gun ships, 36-pounders. The conduct of M. De Galissioniere, therefore, was surprising; for, with such ships, he ought to have captured every ship of the British fleet. But this does not exonerate the British admiral, whose indecision is softened only by the severity of the penalty he paid. Byng quitted Minorca and returned to Gibraltar, where he was soon afterwards superseded by Sir Edward Hawke.
May 20, 1756: Nineteen transports, having on board 9000 Hanoverians, arrived at Chatham.

May 25, 1756: The States General came to a resolution, to observe exact neutrality in respect to the war in America, between Great-Britain and France.

May 27, 1756: “A very bold action was performed on the 27th of last month by capt. Cockburne, in the Hunter-cutter, a little thing with only forty men, and a few swivels. He kept loitering about Brest all day, and at night went in, in his boat, with only five men; when, after having rowed round all the men of war, and taken a particular account of them, he cut the cables of a French snow, boarded her, and carried her away from among the men of war. She was loaded with wine, which hath been distributed to all the fleet. We have got eighteen hogsheads ; and yesterday, after having taken every thing out of her, sunk her.”

May 29, 1756: Commodore Spry took a French dogger with provisions and stores of all kinds for the garrison of Louisbourg.

May 31, 1756: “Extract of a Letter from Philadelphia, dated May 31. ‘Pursuant to agreement some months ago, the four governments of New-England, in conjunction with New-York, (which last furnished 1,300) have new assembled 8,000 men for the attack of Crown-Point, at Albany, 150 miles N. of New-York, and about 130 from Crown-Point, under general Winslow; and as men continually join them, there will soon be 9,000. We are well assured by fishermen that a French fleet with soldiers on hoard crossed the banks of Newfoundland 20 days ago, bound for Canada; hence, as these troops may get to Crown-Point, and reinforce the forts before our army will go up thither, you may judge the bad consequences of this delay.  The 44th, 48th, 50th, and 51st regiments of Great-Britain, with three independent companies, and the Jersey Provincials, are destined for the campaign on the great lake Ontario, and mostly marched for Oswego, thence to be carried over in 200 whale boats, which are now at the lake, and were built last winter at Schenectady on Mohawks river, and are Jong, round, and light, for the batteaus being flat-bottomed and small would not answer the navigation of the lake, were the waves are often very high: They are to attack Fort Frontenac and the other French forts on the lake. Upwards of 2000 batteau men are employed to navigate the batteaus, each a ton burthen, loaded with provisions and stores from Albany, up the Mohawks river, then through Oncyda lake and river, down to Oswego. There are 300 sailors hired and gone up from New-York to Oswego, to navigate the four armed ships on the lake, built there last year for the king’s service, which are about 150 tons each, and two others are now building, smiths, carpenters, and other artificers having arrived there some weeks ago. The troops already mentioned for this service are about 3600 men, besides officers.  In this province, 1500 men are new raised, and yet we act only on the defensive, owing to party disputes and our own inexperience 400 of them are going to build a good fort at Shamakin, up the Susquehanna in the Allegheny mountains, a noted pass about 150 miles N. W. of this city. Besides the 60,000l. currency, given this this province last winter, 40,000l. more is just voted by a land-tax on lands and estates, etc. Maryland likewise has voted 40,000l. and Virginia 45,000l.”