commanded by two masters of merchantmen, and partly manned with their sailors : the remainder of the officers and men belonging to the flotilla consisted of volunteers from the colonial troops.
The force with which the Spaniards were preparing to make the attack consisted of about 20 schooners and sloops, armed, the greater part of them with one long 24-pounder in the bow, and two long 18s in the stern, besides from eight to 22 swivels along the waist. There were, also, 10 or 11 transports or victuallers, schooner and sloop rigged, each armed with heavy bow and stern guns, and swivels on the sides. The seamen employed on board this flotilla numbered, as was understood, about 500, and were under the orders of Captain Bocca-Negra : the troops amounted to about 2000, and were commanded by Field-marshal Arthur O'Neil.
On the 3d of September the Spaniards endeavoured to force a passage over Montego-key shoal, with five vessels, two of which carried long 18 or 24 pounders, and the provisions and stores of all of which, in order to lighten them, had been shifted to other vessels. The Tickler, Swinger, and Teazer, instantly proceeded to annoy these five Spanish vessels, and by dark, compelled them to retire. This afforded to the commanding officer of the British vessels the opportunity of drawing and destroying all the stakes and beacons which the Spaniards had placed in the narrow and intricate channel, tend without the use of which none but vessels of a very light draught of water could pass. On the following day, the 4th, the attempt to pass the shoal was renewed, and defeated in a similar manner. On the 5th the same Spanish vessels, accompanied by two others, and by several launches filled with troops, endeavoured to get over the same shoal by another passage, but were repulsed, apparently with loss. On this, as well as on the two preceding days, the Spaniards expended an immense quantity of ammunition to no manner of purpose ; while the British fired comparatively little, but with a steady precision that produced a sensible effect.
Having no doubt that the next effort of the Spaniards would be against St.-George's key, from which they might easily go down to the Belize, only nine miles distant, and there destroy the town and harass the inhabitants, Captain Moss, in the night of the 5th, weighed, and by noon on the following day, worked up to the key. Twelve of the heaviest among the Spanish vessels were then under way, for the purpose of making the attempt ; but, on seeing the Merlin and the flotilla of gun-boats so near, the Spaniards hauled to the wind and returned to their former anchorage, between Lang-key and Key-chapel.
The Spanish vessels continued working and anchoring among the shoals, at the distance of four or five miles from the Merlin and gun-boats, until the 10th; when, at 1 p.m., nine sail of armed sloops and schooners, each with a launch astern full of
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