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Jamaica/Nicaragua Campaign
Report from John Dalling at Jamaica

(No. 59)

Jamaica 4th Feby. 1780

My Lord

I have been lately so voluminous a writer that I begin to be almost afraid to put pen to paper, but, as I have before pleaded in excuse the importance of the subject committed to my charge, and the ticklishness of the times, an explicitness may not perhaps have been wrong, or unacceptable.

I now, My Lord, in consequence of having been honored with the King's views and intentions, as to the Spaniard particularly, am endeavouring all in my power, to make him seriously repent his late engagements, and when I, as a military man, am confident that, after having made myself master of his most vulnerable parts, and by my exertions necessitated him to be anxious for the preservation of his own Dominions, instead of invading those of others, the double purpose of security to us, and certain detriment to him, will be accomplished.

I think I may venture to prognosticate that such exertions will tend to our universal good.

The French having lost their opportunity, in my opinion never to be retrieved, the only danger to this Island will be by a junction with the Spaniard, and that can never be brought about but by my being unable to find them sufficient employment at home; a little force will do this, and, give me leave to say, my Lord, I expect it; in the interim, in spight of interfering Assembly men, I'll at present proceed so, that his full eye shall not be fixed on Jamaica.

I am perhaps naturally sanguine, but in this respect I am sanguine from experience and reflexion; give me but the direction of a force, and that of no great extent, and I'll be answerable to give you the Dominion of Spain in this part of the world. I want but a confidence in me, and an appropriation of a force in order to carry on different attacks at the same time, or to undertake them at different periods.

My Lord, I still acknowledge an ambition, but ambition makes me not [illegible] at present, for my old wound, and the more abominable gout, deadin me too much to offer my active services on this occasion, or I would do so with peculiar satisfaction; when I say this, I am yet ready to obey whatever my King shall direct.

I must just observe, in answer to your Lordship's idea that freebooters may be obtained for certain purposes, that no such beings exist at this time here; and that, if men are to be obtained for those purposes, they are such as have their different little avocations, and must be found in every necessary, from the time they agree to go forth on an Expedition.

The Troops have been very sickly, but this indeed is the time of the year for great mortality. The few soldiery I am forwarding by degrees to the Shore are only of the convalescent kind, the greater part of whom would perish here, when from the salubrity of the sea air they will probably recover and be useful there.

Thro' the fear that Captain DALRYMPLE may have proceeded for Europe, I am forwarding another Officer for the command, a Captain POLSON of the 60th a steady, and good Officer, whose directions are either to take the command, to remain as second, or return to me.

I am flattered with much interesting intelligence relative to the principal places on the Continent thro' the channel of some reverend fathers resident there, and am every moment in expectation of receiving more from the Shore.

A vessel sailed for that place with a few men, Stores and presents for the Indians on the 13th ult. and another with presents for the St. Blas Indians at the same time, to encourage them to a junction with those on the Shore.

In order to be certain of securing the command of the Lake, I have for some time given directions for building a Vessel, which is to be sent down in pieces with Ship-carpenters to put it together, after getting it up the River St. John.

Captain POLSON sailed the 3d Inst. with about 300 Regulars, including Articifers; and 200 Volunteers under the command of Mr. MACDONALD.+ The timbers for the above Vessel have been all got ready, and sent with him.

People of colour for the free companies are now coming in fast, and it appears as if I should not want Volunteers for my Expedition, for the next and last embarkation, which I hope will not be later than the 15th of January.

Heavy are the expences of fitting out the Expedition, but great as they may be, unavoidable; success will lessen the total in the eye of Government, but, if unfortunate, Mr. ROSS's vouchers will be so clear as to prove his uprightness, and good intentions in serving his Country; at any rate the Spaniard will be alarmed so as to keep all his force at home, and distressed to a degree in every point of view throughout many of the Colonies- for my part much as I may regret the expence, no failure shall ensue from want, or forgetfulness; and I believe the Officer to whom I have entrusted so important a charge will prove himself worthy of it.

The enclosed papers are not only very explanatory as to the matters treated of, but will also, I flatter myself, support, and establish, the ideas I have had to the honor to transmit to your Lordship on the same Subjects.

I have the honor to be
with the greatest respect
my Lord yr. Lordship's
most obedient, and most
humble Servt.

+with the rank of
Major Commandant
of the Corps of Volunteers.

Great Britain, Public Record Office, Colonial Office, Class 137, Volume 76, folios 220-222.

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