THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 276.
Sir Ralph Abercromby to the Secretary of State.
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers War Office.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
20th February, 1797.
In my official letter of this date 1 have had the honour of
giving all the details which appeared necessary of our
operations against this Island. Every part of the conduct of
the Spanish Troops, both by sea and land, seem to indicate
a sinking nation and to point out the possibility of further
conquest if we were in a situation to keep what we might
acquire with a small additional force.
Until the arrival of the convoy from Europe we must rest
on our arms. From the information I have received, Porto
Rico is strongly defended by works erected since the peace
of 1763. Nothing however corresponds with the works.
It appeals necessary to keep possession of Trinidad as an
important post should the war continue, for which purpose
I shall leave here a garrison of nearly i,ooo men which, with
hie ships of war, will be I hope fully sufficient for its defence.
The inhabitants are a mixture of Spanish, English and
French. I shall endeavour as much as possible to gain them
by a mild and equal government, well knowing that if I
were to act otherwise, the disaffected could give us much
useless trouble in a country so little cultivated and of so
All those however who will not take the oath of allegiance
and give up their arms, must be considered as hostile and
must be removed.
I have reason to hope from what has already happened
and from the assistance I continue to receive fiom Lt.-Col. Soter
who accompanied me from Martinique and who is intimately
acquainted with this Island, that we shall on the whole meet
with less difficulty in settling this Colony than might have
been expected ti'om its inhabitants and the relaxed state of
the Spanish government.
1 must sincerely recommend to the protection of Great
Britain, Lieutenant-Colonel Soter ; lie is an honest man of
good understanding and universally beloved by every good
Englishman and every true Frenchman.
I am sorry to say that the 2nd Regiment of the Irish
Brigade arrived in very bad order. I wish General Officers
who inspect regiments and embarkations would more
scrupulously attend to their duties.
I clearly see that the German Regiments raised by
adventurers will not answer, they are at best to be compared
to the Condottieri of the i6th and 7th centuries. If Germans
are to be employed, they must be the troops of some consider-
able German Prince.
I have gone on very well with Admiral Haivey, he is a
judicious man ; at any rate I have always considered it a
duty of first importance to live on good terms with the Navy.
With every wish to do my duty to the public and to show
my gratitude for the favors I have received, I hope it will
not be considered a deviation from that principle to ask
permission to return to Europe after this campaign. I do not
complain of want of health but I find that the complex nature
of the Civil and Military duties of a Commander in Chief
too much for me and I cannot discharge both usefully to
my own satisfaction.
The control of the army accounts and the disagreable
task of keeping within due bounds the different departments,
occupy much of my time and give me much uneasiness.
When I have little leisure, I hope to be able to simplify this
business and make matters less a load on my successors.
I acknowledge the great assistance I receive on all
occasions fi-om General Hope who is really very judicious.
Lt.-Col. Maitland is indefatigable and perfectly upright ;
if I might venture to mention him for the Government of
Bermuda it is a situation I believe which would satisfy his
ambition. I shall not at this time take up your attention
further. Captain Drew will be ready to return to this country
by the first opportunity with any commands you may have.
I have the honour to be, Dear Sir,
With great regard