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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/8

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Pocock
Pocock
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to Plymouth to refit. He was not able to reach Plymouth till 15 April, and a few days later he and his ship's company were turned over to the Cumberland, in which he went out to the East Indies.

On 4 Feb. 1755 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the white, and, hoisting his flag on board the Cumberland, remained with Watson as second in command. On 8 Dec. 1756 he was advanced to the rank of vice-admiral, and, on Watson's death on 16 Aug. 1757, succeeded to the chief command. At Madras, in March 1758, he was joined by Commodore Charles Steevens [q. v.], and, having moved his flag to the Yarmouth of 64 guns, he put to sea on 17 April, his squadron now consisting of seven small ships of the line, ships of 64, 60, or 50 guns. On the 29th, off Fort St. David, he fell in with the French squadron of about the same nominal force, all being French East India company's ships, except the one 74-gun ship which carried the broad-pennant of Comte d'Aché. Pocock led the attack as prescribed by the English ‘Fighting Instructions.’ An indecisive action followed, the French practising the familiar manœuvre of withdrawing in succession and reforming their line to leeward. Battles fought in this manner never led to any satisfactory result. It generally happened that some of the English ships were unable to get into action in time; and on this occasion, as on many others, the captains of the rearmost ships were accused of misconduct. Three were tried by court-martial, found guilty of not using all possible means to bring their ships into action, and severally sentenced to be dismissed from the ship, to lose one year's seniority, and to be cashiered. The court failed to recognise that the manœuvre required of them was practically impossible (Minutes of the Courts-martial, vol. xxxviii.)

On 1 Aug. the two squadrons were again in sight of each other off Tranquebar, the French, with two 74-gun ships, having a considerable nominal superiority. It was not, however, till the 3rd that Pocock succeeded in bringing them to action, and then in the same manner and with the same indecisive result. The French then went to Mauritius, and Pocock, having wintered at Bombay, returned to the Coromandel coast in the following spring. The French fleet of eleven ships did not come on the coast till the end of August, and on 2 Sept. it was sighted by the English. After losing it in a fog, and finding it again on the 8th, off Pondicherry, on the 10th Pocock brought it to action, but again in the manner prescribed by the ‘Fighting Instructions,’ and with unsatisfactory results. The fighting was more severe than in the previous actions; on both sides many men were killed and wounded, and the ships were much shattered, but no advantage was gained by either party. That the prize of victory finally remained with the English was due not to Pocock and the East Indian squadron, but to the course of the war in European waters. In the following year Pocock returned to England, arriving in the Downs on 22 Sept. On 6 May 1761 he was nominated a knight of the Bath, and about the same time was promoted to be admiral of the blue.

In February 1762 he was appointed commander-in-chief of ‘a secret expedition,’ destined, in fact, for the reduction of Havana, which sailed from Spithead on 5 March, the land forces being under the command of the Earl of Albemarle [see Keppel, George, third Earl of Albemarle]. On 26 April it arrived at Martinique, sailed again on 6 May, and, taking the shorter though dangerous route on the north side of Cuba, under the efficient pilotage of Captain John Elphinston [q. v.], landed Albemarle and the troops six miles to the eastward of Havana on 7 June, under the immediate conduct of Commodore Keppel, Albemarle's brother [see Keppel, Augustus, Viscount Keppel]. The siege-works were at once commenced. A large body of seamen were put on shore, and ‘were extremely useful in landing the cannon and ordnance stores of all kinds, manning the batteries, making fascines, and in supplying the army with water’ (Beatson, ii. 547). By the 30th the batteries were ready, and on 1 July opened a heavy fire, supported by three ships of the line, under the immediate command of Captain Hervey of the Dragon. The Moro was engaged, but, after some six hours, the ships were obliged to haul out of action, two of them—the Cambridge and the Dragon—having sustained heavy loss and much damage [see Hervey, Augustus John, third Earl of Bristol]. After this the work of the fleet was mainly limited to preventing any movement on the part of the Spanish ships which might otherwise have effectually hindered the English works. The English batteries gradually subdued the enemy's fire, though the Spaniards were materially assisted by the climate, which rendered the exposure and fatigue very deadly. By 3 July more than half of the army, and some three thousand seamen, were down with sickness. Under all difficulties, however, the siege was persevered with. The Moro was taken by storm on 30 July, and on 13 Aug. the town,