Sidelights on Commodore Johnstone’s Expedition to The Cape Part I
In the first of a two-part study, the author addresses the antecedents to this 1781 expedition and the events leading up to the Battle of Porto Praya in the Cape Verde Islands. Originally conceived as a privateering expedition to Spanish South America, its eventual objective changed to taking the Cape of Good Hope settlement, following the outbreak of war with the Dutch. A political venture from the start, Johnstone was under King’s Orders, not the Admiralty’s. The author is critical of Johnstone for a lack of naval command experience, a preoccupation with commercial gain through seizures and a failure to maintain his squadron at maximum readiness ahead of the pursuing French squadron.