MARITIME WAR IN EUROPE, 1779-1782.
T HE last chapter closed with the opinions of Washington, expressed in many ways and at many times, as to the effect of sea power upon the struggle for American independence. If space allowed, these opinions could be amply strengthened by similar statements of Sir Henry Clinton, the English commander-in-chief.1 In Europe the results turned yet more entirely upon the same factor. There the allies had three several objectives, at each of which England stood strictly upon the defensive. The first of these was England herself, involving, as a preliminary to an invasion, the destruction of the Channel fleet, -- a project which, if seriously entertained, can scarcely be said to have been seriously attempted; the second was the reduction of Gibraltar; the third, the capture of Minorca. The last alone met with success. Thrice was England threatened by a largely superior fleet, thrice the threat fell harmless. Thrice was Gibraltar reduced to straits; thrice was it relieved by the address and fortune of English seamen, despite overpowering odds.
After Keppel's action off Ushant, no general encounter took place between fleets in European seas during the year 1778 and the first half of 1779. Meantime Spain was drawing toward a rupture with England and an active alliance with France. War was declared by her on the 16th of June, 1779; but as early as April 12, a treaty between the two Bourbon kingdoms, involving active war upon England, had been signed. By its terms the invasion of Great Britain or Ireland was to be undertaken, every effort made to recover____________________