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Report from the Committee On the Petition from Dominica, respecting losses by the Fire at Roseau


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Report from the Committee On the Petition from Dominica, respecting losses by the Fire at Roseau
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Report from the Committee On the Petition from Dominica, respecting losses by the Fire at Roseau

Date of Article: 11/05/1808
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\ REPOtRT from the Committee on the Petition [ Appx. bring mostly of wood and covered with shingles. It. being a particular dry season, there were no means of stopping'the flames, all the inhabitants being, under arms, and at their polls.— Then the witness being asked, Whether any proceedings wereinfti- tuted in the Island by public authority, to ascertain the amount of the loss? he said, There was an Act of the Legislature of the island, appointing Commissioners to en- quire into the losses sustained by individuals by the attack of the enemy, and the burning of Roseau.— Then, Major General Sir GEORGE PREVOST being examined, said, he was in command at the island of Dominica in the year 1805 • ; and that an attack was made by the enemy on that ialand, on the 2- 2( 1 of February in that year, and a « confiderable part of the town was confumed by fire, in- consequence of means used to repel that attack; which means, he said, he thought essential for the defence of the island, and arose out of inch orders as he thought it indispensable to give, to intimj. ^ ate the enemy.— And being desired to relate the circumstances which attended the definition of a part of the town, fo far as they came within his observation, he said, The approach of the enemy having been checked upon my left, the French Admiral, shewed a disposition to force me on my right, where ! was extremely weak, and in consequence his shipping stood into Woodbridge's Bay, upon which I direded such guns as could defend that anchorage to be laid at them ; the commanding officer or the Artillery, in execution of the above orders, commenced a fire across the town of Roseau, and the wadding of his guns was constantly falling upon the houses be- neath, which being mostly constructed of wood, soon took fire: the proprietors ofthefe dwellings were under arms with the militia at some distance from the town, and my force was too small to spare any from the alarm- posts to attempt ex- tinguishing the fire?— And being asked, What is the elevation of the battery above the houses of the town ? be said, About twenty yards above the roofs : And whether he was of opinion, that if the inhabitants had remained in their houses, they could have extinguifhed the fire ? he faid, it was impossible for them generally to remain in their houses with safety, under the fire of our own guns, and exposed to iae enemy's cannonade.— And being further asked, What proportion of his forces eonfilled of the militia 0f the ifland ? he said, The St. George's regiment of militia, composed chiefly of the inhabitants of the town of Roseau, made at least half of the force; that they performed their duty with fpirit and alacrity, notvwthstanding the danger to which their property was exposed; and that he would not have at- tempted to have repulsed the enemy without the assistance of the militia. And be . ng afked, whether be saw the town of Roseau soon after the fire ? he said As soon as the conflagration had taken place, and the enemy offered two more disem- barkations of troops upon my right, I took measures for a retreat with the regular forces towards Prince Rupert's, to maintain the sovereignty of the Island : before I • could carry this measure into effect, the fire had considerably increased; several of the stores containing rum had exploded; and ir. became dangerous, and almost im- possible to load the guns at Fort Young, in consequence of the surrounding flames, many of the cartridges taking fire in conveying from the magazine to the artillery, men on duty,— And being further asked, How soon after the retreat he had men. tioned, did he again see the town ? he faid, I lost fight of the town about sun set" but during my progress in the night, I repeatedly heard the explosion from the' rum stores; that he next visited the town, in about a week after, and that the con. dition of it then was a heap of ruins.— And being asked, Whether he had, from his own observation, or from any official and credible reports, reason to believe that much property was embezzled, or plundered, or destroyed, in any other way than
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