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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol I

1795

Capture of Trincomale, Oostenburg, &c.

303

Thus strengthened, the expedition again set sail on the 25th, and, on the 1st of August cast anchor in Back bay, in company with the 32-gun frigate Heroine, Captain Alan Hyde Gardner, who had joined the day previous. On board the Heroine was Major Agnew, deputy adjutant-general, who had been sent to Fort Columbo, by Lord Hobart at Madras, ostensibly to explain to the Governor-general of Ceylon, M. Van-Angelbeck, the object of the expedition, but really to obtain from him an order to the commandant at Trincomalé, to admit 300 British troops to garrison Fort Oostenburg, situated within the harbour. This order Major Agnew had brought with him, but to which the commandant of Trincomalé refused obedience.

Nearly two days were occupied in useless remonstrances, when it was resolved to land the troops. Unfortunately, on that afternoon, the Diomede, in working into the bay against a strong land wind, with a transport in tow, struck on a sunken rock, not laid down in the charts ; and, scarcely allowing time for the people to save themselves, went down with all her stores on board. The delay occasioned by this accident made it the following morning, the 3d, before the troops could be landed. The disembarkation then took place, at a spot about four miles to the northward of the fort of Trincomalé, without the slightest opposition. Owing, in part, to an extraordinary high surf and the violence of the wind, it took as many as ten days to land the whole of the stores and provisions. The carriage of these and of the artillery to the camp, a distance of about three miles, over a heavy sand, was cheerfully executed by the seamen.

On the 18th the troops broke ground, and still remained unmolested by the Dutch. On the 23d the English batteries, consisting of eight 18-pounders (three of them from the Suffolk), besides some guns of smaller caliber, opened their fire on the fort of Trincomalé, and, by the 26th effected a practicable breach. A summons to the commandant was then sent in ; and, while that was being discussed within, every preparation for the assault was making without. The garrison demanded such terms as could not be granted. Others were forwarded. The non-acceptance of these occasioned a recommencement of the firing; but, before it had continued many minutes, a white flag was suspended from the walls, and the Dutch commandant agreed to the terms which had been offered. The garrison consisted of 679 officers and men, and the serviceable ordnance, of nearly 100 pieces, including a large proportion of 18 and 24 pounders. The loss sustained by the British in gaining this post, amounted, in king's and in company's troops, to 15 killed and 54 wounded, and in seamen to one killed and six wounded.

On the 27th the fort of Oostenburg was summoned, and on the 31st surrendered upon the same terms as had been granted to Trincomalé. On the 18th of September the fort of Batticaloe

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