Sir William Cornwallis - American Revolutionary War - Duty in The West Indies

Duty in The West Indies

During his time in the West Indies, Cornwallis came to own, then later free the "doctoress" Cubah Cornwallis. Cubah became Cornwallis' mistress and housekeeper in Port Royal, Jamaica. Later she treated Cornwallis' friend, Captain Horatio Nelson on his return from the disastrous mission to Nicaragua. She also treated Prince William Henry, later William IV when he was stationed in the West Indies.

Lion remained on the Jamaica station under the orders of Admiral Peter Parker and when she was repaired began a series of cruises in the West Indies. On 20 April 1780 Cornwallis was in command of a small squadron of two line-of-battle ships, the Lion and HMS Bristol and one large 44-gun frigate, HMS Janus.

Off Saint-Domingue the small British squadron discovered a convoy under the protection of 4 ships-of-the-line and one frigate commanded by Monsieur de la Motte Picquet. The French chased and the British ran. The French outsailed the British ships and when in range opened fire. The chase continued throughout the night and into the morning of the 21st. The breeze died and the two squadrons began to repair their damage. When the wind blew once more the chase renewed and continued throughout the night of the 21st and into the 22nd.

On the morning of the 22nd three sails appeared to leeward. The arrival of these new sails would determine the outcome of the battle. The newcomers proved to be the 64-gun HMS Ruby, the 33-gun HMS Niger and the 28-gun HMS Pomona. The French squadron bore away for Cap-Français, leaving the two small British squadrons to repair and make for Jamaica. The British squadron under Cornwallis had lost 12 killed including Captain Glover of the Janus.

Cornwallis returned to England in the Lion in June 1781 and was appointed to command the 74-gun third-rate HMS Canada. He immediately returned to the West Indies under the orders of Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood.

Canada was with Hood's fleet at the Battle of St. Kitts in 1782. Hood took his 21 ships of the line and lured the French fleet of 29 ships of the line under the Comte de Grasse from its anchorage at Basseterre on St. Kitts and then sailed into the roadstead and anchored. Hood then repulsed de Grasse's efforts to dislodge the British fleet. The Battle of Brimstone Hill sealed the fate of the island despite Hood's efforts and St. Kitts fell into French hands. With the island in enemy hands and the French fleet cruising off the harbour, Hood was forced to withdraw and made his way to Antigua. The Canada in Commodore Edmund Affleck's division suffered 1 killed and 12 wounded. On 22 March Hood joined Admiral George Rodney's fleet in Barbados

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