Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 27.djvu/272

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bility. The fault lay, not with Hood, nor—except in a secondary degree—with Graves, but with the ‘Fighting Instruction’ which prescribed, under pain of cashiering or death, the preserving the line and engaging from van to rear. The fatal effects of this instruction, thus brought home to Hood's mind, probably led to the tactical changes which he largely assisted in developing, the more readily perhaps as, with the exception of his own skirmish off Martinique, where the immediate results were not very dissimilar, it was the first general action in which he had been present. Hood must, moreover, have compared the effects of the ‘Fighting Instructions’ with the different results obtained, in violation of them, by Hawke in November 1759, or by Rodney in January 1780.

After another vain attempt to relieve Cornwallis, the fleet returned to Sandy Hook on 2 Nov., and a few days later Hood sailed again for the West Indies. He endeavoured to persuade Rear-admiral Digby, who had succeeded to the command [see Digby, Robert], to send all the line-of-battle ships with him, and was permitted to take four in addition to his original thirteen; the fourteenth, the Terrible, was at the bottom of the sea outside the Capes of Virginia. He arrived at Barbadoes on 5 Dec., and on 14 Jan. 1782 learned that De Grasse with his whole fleet and a large body of troops had gone to St. Christophers; he sailed thither immediately, and at daylight of the 24th was off the south end of Nevis, purposing to stand in and attack the French fleet at anchor off Basseterre. His force was numerically inferior—twenty-two ships against twenty-nine—but he designed to concentrate it on one end of the enemy's line, anticipating the principle, though not the detail, of the plan afterwards adopted by Nelson at the Nile (Clerk, p. 261). Unfortunately a collision between two of his ships caused serious delay, and meanwhile De Grasse, expecting nothing less than an attack, got under way, in order to prevent Hood passing to the north. Hood saw the opportunity thus offered, and the next morning (25 Jan.), after standing towards the French fleet as though to engage, and thus inducing it to keep further to seaward, he suddenly hauled to the wind, and, after a passing interchange of fire, slipped into Basseterre roadstead, where he anchored in the very berth the French had previously occupied. De Grasse was furious at being outwitted, and the following day (26 Jan.) stood in against the English fleet as it lay at anchor; but his idea went no further than ranging along the line, as had been done by D'Estaing at St. Lucia (cf. Barrington, Samuel; Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, xxix. 914), and the attack, twice made, was repulsed with heavy loss. It was, however, found impossible to render effective aid to the garrison at Brimstone Hill, which capitulated on 13 Feb.; and, with the enemy in full possession of the island, the anchorage off Basseterre was no longer tenable, while the quitting it, in face of the superior force of the French fleet, now increased to thirty-two sail of the line, exclusive of several frigates, was difficult. On the 14th, however, Hood determined to make the attempt. He assembled the several captains in his cabin, made them set their watches by his, and gave orders that, without signal, at eleven o'clock that night they should cut their cables and put to sea. The manœuvre was performed without a hitch. The French, though not more than five miles distant, knew nothing of what was taking place till daylight on the 15th showed them the anchorage empty.

Hood was meanwhile well on his way to Barbadoes, where he was shortly afterwards joined by Rodney, who resumed the command, Hood commanding under him in the second post. The skirmish on 9 April to leeward of Dominica fell entirely on the ships of Hood's division; and on 12 April he commanded the rear of the fleet, no longer, as off the Chesapeake, without being able to take part in the action. The share of the Barfleur, carrying Hood's flag, was, indeed, particularly brilliant, and it was to her that the Ville de Paris hauled down her colours, the only French three-decker actually taken in battle. In his private correspondence, however, Hood expressed much dissatisfaction that more was not done—that the flying French were not closely followed; and he was only partially consoled by being detached with a strong squadron to look out for French stragglers, when he captured two ships of the line and two frigates in the Mona passage on 19 April (United Service Gazette, 5 April 1834; Add. MS. 9343). On 25 April he rejoined Rodney off Cape Tiberon, and was left in command of the greater part of the fleet to keep watch on the enemy at Cape Français, till at the end of May, finding that nothing was to be apprehended from them, he went to Jamaica. Rodney was superseded by Admiral Pigot in July [see Pigot, Hugh], but Hood remained as second in command till the peace, when he returned to England.

On 12 Sept. 1782 he was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Baron Hood of Catherington, Hampshire; he was also presented with the freedom of the city of London in a gold box. At the general election in 1784