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.

 

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