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Byng went in pursuit of the Spanish fleet, which was assisting in the conquest of Sicily, and came in sight of twenty-seven sail of the line, with fire-ships, ketches, bombs, and seven galleys, drawn up in line of battle between him and Cape Passaro. So soon as they were clear of the straits, a council was held to determine whether they should fight or retreat. They came to no resolution, but continued to linger about in indecision till Byng was down upon them. Whereupon he utterly destroyed them (August 11, 1718).
ATTACK ON THE CHINESE JUNKS. (See p. 474.)
Sir John Warren put the two thousand four hundred Chouans on shore near Lorient, and left them to return to their own predatory mode of warfare. He then located himself on two small neighbouring islands, and waited for a fresh squadron carrying four thousand British troops, which arriving in September, he bore away with them for La Vende, and thus terminated the miserable descent on the coast of Brittany. The descent on the coast of La Vende was still more unsatisfactory. On arriving there, it was found that fifteen thousand Republicans were in possession of the Isle Noirmoutier, formerly the stronghold of Charette. The British, therefore, disembarked on the little desolate Isle Dieu, about five leagues from Noirmoutier, and there awaited the arrival of Count d'Artois, who did not come till the 10th of October, and then, alarmed at the fusillading of the officers at Quiberon, declined to land. On hearing this, Charette exclaimed"We are lost! To-day I have fifteen thousand men about me; to-morrow I shall not have five hundred!" And, in fact, chagrined at the pusillanimous conduct of the prince, and the approach of Hoche with his victorious troops from Brittany, his followers rapidly dispersed, and at the end of the year the British armament returned home, having done nothing. From this day may be dated the extinction of the war in La Vende. Stofflet, in January, 1796, was defeated, and in February was betrayed to the enemy, and on the 26th of that month was executed at Angers with four of his companions. Charette was captured a month afterwards, and was shot at Nantes on the 29th of March. With him died the last Vendan general of mark. By this time, the spring of 1796, not a fifth part of the male population of La Vende remained alive; and Hoche himself calculated that the Vendan war had cost France a hundred thousand men.