1803 - Evacuation of Cape Nicolas Mole


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1803 Colonial Expeditions - West Indies 210

Having now no French force to blockade at Cape-François, Commodore Loring bore up for the mole of Saint-Nicolas, to treat with M. Noailles, the French general in command there. On the 2d of December a proposition to that effect was made ; but the general declined acceding to the terms, alleging that he had provisions for five months, and would not surrender until the last extremity. The Bellerophon and squadron then proceeded with the prizes and prisoners to Jamaica. On the very night on which the blockade of the Mole was raised, General Noailles, having previously made his arrangements, sailed out of the port, with his garrison contained in seven small vessels, and arrived in safety at the island of Cuba. Among the French " Victoires et Conquêtes," recorded in a work bearing that title, is an extraordinary one performed by M. Noailles on his short voyage to Cuba. It seems that " une corvette anglaise," crossed the path of his brig (on what day or night is not stated), and hailed her, to know if General Noailles was on board. The French brig concealed her numerous crew, and, hoisting English colours, declared that she also had been sent to intercept the general and his garrison. The two vessels then steered in company ; and, in the night, General Noailles, at the head of 30 grenadiers, leaped on board of, and after a short resistance carried, the " corvette anglaise." The conqueror proceeded with his prize to Havana, and died shortly afterwards of the wounds he had received in the action. Notwithstanding the grave manner in which this story is told, the British navy lost no " corvette, " or even 4-gun schooner, by capture in these seas, in the year 1803.

Thus, by the departure of the last European garrison from the French part of the island of Saint-Domingo, were the negroes, after a long and sanguinary struggle, freed from their invaders. A part of the latter had previously escaped to the Spanish part of the island ; and Generals Kerverseau and Ferrand, with a few troops, still occupied the cities of Santo-Domingo and San-Jago. According to a French writer, France, by her expedition to this island, lost 20 general officers and upwards of 40,000 men: * This amount must include colonial troops, and some reinforcements which we have not been able to enumerate.

East Indies.

It has already been stated that, on the 6th of March, a small French squadron, consisting of one 74, three frigates, and two transports, with a French governor-general and about 1350 troops on board, sailed from the road of Brest, bound to the East Indies, for the alleged purpose of taking possession of Pondicherry, ceded to France by the treaty of Amiens. On the 28th

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xiv., p 330. See p. 176.

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