THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 298.
Sir Ralph Woodford to Earl Bathtirot. Commenting on military
situation in Veneuzela and on emigrations to Trinidad.
Source -Red House, Port-of-Spain. Trinidad Duplicate
Published by the Courtesy of His Excellency the Governor.
No. 64. 23rd November, 1814.
I avail myself of a Vessel bound to Bermuda to apprise
Your Lordship that Genl. Boves Commanding the Royalist
Army on the Main has continued advancing from Cumana,
and after being defeated in one attack has succeeded in
obtaining possession of the whole of the neighboring Coast
as far as Yrapa; -from the latest intelligence a battle which
would probably take place on Monday or Tuesday last, would
decide the Fate of the Independents throughout this part
of South America, and as there is every reason to suppose
that the advantages hitherto gained by the Royalists will
be secured, 1 hope shortly to have it my power of reporting
to Your Lordship the revival of Trade and tle tranquillity
of the Country.
Altlo' I understand that the Royalist Troops have generally
behaved with humanity towards those who did not oppose
resistance, the alarm on the opposite Coast has been very
general, and the Emigralions have become so numerous as
to induce me to submi t to His Majesty's Council, the expediency
of affording a temporary asylum to the fugitives. On the
whole of this Coast debarcations have taken place, and lthe
direct arrival of Vessels has been considerable: and under
the Impression that many of the Emigrants were original
Colonists in this or neighboring Islands, and that almost
the whole consisted of old Men, Women, or Children, I have
with their advice, permitted them to land here for the moment,
giving Security for their good behaviour where they could
Altho' I am aware that it cannot be desirable to augment
the free colored population of this Island with persons of
that description, who have quitted other British and French
Colonies in Periods of Revolutionary Convulsion, I trust
that my conduct will not be disapproved, when it is considered
that the Indulgence shewn to these Individuals may inspire
them with an Inclination for a more regular Government than
they have hitherto known, and with gratitude to the Power
under whose flag they have sought and found Protection.
The most painful part of my duty arose from the disappro-
bation conveyed in Your Lordship's Disptach No. 22 of
receiving Slaves under such circumstances from a Foreign
State :-two Vessels having some Slaves on board were
therefore ordered off, and I am daily under the necessity
of refusing an asylum to those unfortunate Persons, who are
attached to, and constitute the sole means of the existence
of their Masters.
During this period, I received Information from the
Commandant of Chaguaramas that a large debarcation of
these persons had been reported to him at Chacachacari to the
great alarm of the Inhabitants ; and that some of the worst
Characters who framed the Expedition from that Island
ofJanuary, 1813, had returned thither ; I therefore dispatched
an application to Major General Clay, requesting the
re-establishment of the Military Post on that Island, originally
placed there by Lt. Genl Monro after the sailing of that
expedition, and which Major General Felaval the Officer
then Commanding, had earnestly expressed a wish to withdraw,
unless the Quarters of the Troops were immediately
repaired. From the complexion of affairs at that time
I deemed any expense unnecessary, and consented to his
withdrawing the Guard, provided it should be renewed
whenever required, and I therefore did not expect any
hesitation on the part of Major General Clay in adopting
a measure of the necessity or expediency of which I presume
I was a sufficient Judge.
By the Major Generals replies to my letters Your Lordship
will be enabled to estimate the difficulty in which I am
placed, by the unaccommodating Conduct of the General
Officer Commanding the Troops; and will thereby see that
as long as the requisitions of Militaly assistance an my part,
and for the propriety of which I must of course be responsible
are withheld in a manner so ungracious, I must in justice
be held free from the blame of any bad consequences resulting
from the delay or refusal of Major General Clay.
It is known that several good Houses are to be found
on the Island, tho' an indifferent one had formerly been
selected, and had been rendered more so, by the Troops
having set fire to the Thatched Roof and their not having
repaired it ; Huts also are in abundance.
The expense of Water & Provisions was before much
increased by a weekly, instead of a monthly supply being
sent : and whether that (Carge is borne with Your Lordship's
Sanction \b the Colony, or defrayed from the Extraordinaries
of the army, cannot surely be of such moment as to warrant
the threat of removal of the Post in a fortnight, that has been
required by His MajestN's Governor and only conceded by
the Officer Commanding, for that fortnight to avoid the
appearance of a captious reflisal.
Your Instructions respecting Bideau & which was the
ground of their being withdrawn, would have been greatly
augmented in attempting any check upon lie vindictive
measures that lie threatened by the Iresent conduct of the
Major General Commanding here.
It is, I hope needless to add that the Instructions to which
I alluded in my first letter to General Clay were those collected
from Your Lordship's general directions upon the affairs
of the Main. Of any communication which I am not bound
to give and which com tesv alone could w-arrant, -General
Clay's conduct throughout his residence here, has as Your
Lordship is already aware, sufficiently forbidden.
I have personal examined all the Emigrants that have
arrived, and ever\- precaution has been taken which our
imperfect police, and the want of all military assistance, and
even defiance of the Use of the Guards of the Town, (as
reported in No. 57` could afford, and I have only to hope
Your Lordships early expression of His Royal Highness's
gracious approbation of my conduct.
I lhaie the honor to be,
Most Obedient, humble Servant.
Earl Bathuirst, &c. &c &c.