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.

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