London Gazette report of Battle of Jersey

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Official report in London Gazette St James's, 16 January 1781.

Estimate of numbers

It appears from accounts from the island of Jersey that the French, to the number of 800 and upwards, landed before daybreak on the 6th instant at the Bank du Violet.

  • That in their attempt to land, one privateer and four transport-vessels were wrecked upon the rocks, whereby upwards of 200 men were lost.
  • That the French General, Baron de Rullecourt, marched across the country to the town of St Helier's, seized the avenues of the town and the guard, made prisoner Capt Charlton of the artillery, and sent a detachment to seize the Lieutenant-Governor.
  • That the Lieutenant-Governor had by some means received information in time to dispatch two messengers to the different stations of the 78th, 83d, and 95th regiments, and to the militia.
  • That immediately afterwards the Lieutenant-Governor was taken prisoner, and carried to the French General, who was in the court house; who immediately proposed to him to sign terms of capitulation, on pain of firing the town, and putting the inhabitants to the sword, in case of refusal.
  • That the Lieutenant-Governor represented, that, being a prisoner, he was deprived of all authority; and that therefore his signing any capitulation, or pretending to give any orders, could be of no avail.
  • That the General insisted however; and the Lieutenant-Governor, to avoid the consequences, signed the capitulation.
  • That Elizabeth castle was summoned to surrender; which Capt. Aylward, who commanded there, peremptorily refused ; and, firing upon the French, compelled them to retire.
  • That in the mean time the King's troops, under the command of Major Peirson, next in seniority to the Lieutenant-Governor, and Capt Campbell, and the militia of the island, assembled upon the heights near the town; and being required by the French General to conform to the capitulation, returned for answer, that if the French did not lay down their arms, and surrender themselves prisoners, in twenty minutes, they would be attacked.
  • That accordingly Major Pierson having made a very able disposition of his Majesty's troops, they rushed upon the enemy with such vigour and impetuosity that, in less than half an hour, the French General being mortally wounded, the officer next in command to him desired the Lieutenant-Governor (who had been compelled by the French General to stand close by him during the heat of the action, saying, that he should share his fate) to resume the government, and to accept their submission as prisoners of. war.
  • That Major Pierson, who commanded the troops, was unfortunately killed in the moment of victory. The loss of this young officer, whose military abilities, which were so remarkable upon this occasion, held out the highest expectations to his country, is most sincerely lamented by every officer and soldier both of the regulars and militia, as well as by every inhabitant of the island.

Captains Aylward and Mulcaster distinguished themselves in their undaunted and spirited preservation of Elizabeth Castle ; and it was fortunate that so able an officer as Capt. Campbell of the 83d regiment, who had before remarkably distinguished himself, was the next to take the command, after the loss of Major Pierson.

The highest commendations are given to the good conduct, bravery, and resolution, of the officers and men, both of regulars and militia.

The following is a return of the killed and wounded of his Majesty's troops, and militia of the island, on the 6th of January

Casualties

The corps engaged were: Regulars, the 78th, 83rd, and 95th regiments; and Militia, South-west regiment, St Helier's and St Laurence's battalions, North-west and East regiments. There were killed, of the Regulars, Ma. Pierson, of the 95th, and 11 rank and file; and wounded, Capt Charlton, of the artillery, (wounded while prisoner), 1 serjeant, and 35 rank and file, and of the Militia there were killed 4 rank and file ; and wounded Lieut Godfrey, Lieut Aubin, Ensign Poingnant, Mr Thomas Lempriere aide-de-camp, Mr James Amice Lempriere merchant, and 26 rank and file. London Gazette, 16 January

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