Battle of the Saintes

The Battle of the Saintes (known to the French as the Bataille de la Dominique), or Battle of Dominica, was an important naval battle in the Caribbean between the British and the French that took place 9 April 1782 – 12 April 1782, during the American Revolutionary War.[1] The British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse, forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica.[5]

The battle is named after the Saintes (or Saints), a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies. The French fleet had the year before blockaded the British Army at Chesapeake Bay during the Siege of Yorktown and supported the eventual American victory in their revolution.

The French suffered heavy casualties at the Saintes and many were taken prisoner, including the admiral, Comte de Grasse. Four French ships of the line were captured (including the flagship) and one was destroyed. Rodney was credited with pioneering the tactic of "breaking the line" in the battle, though this is disputed.[5][6]

Origins

In October 1781, Admiral Comte de Grasse, commander of the French fleet in the West Indies; Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, General Bureau for the Spanish Indies; and Bernardo de Gálvez, court representative and aide to the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, developed a plan against British forces. The strategic objectives of the Franco-Spanish military forces in the West Indies in this plan were:

  • to aid the Americans and defeat the British naval squadron at New York
  • to capture the British Windward Islands and
  • to conquer Jamaica.[7]

This plan became known as the "De Grasse – Saavedra Convention". The first objective was essentially met by the surrender of the British army under General Cornwallis at the Siege of Yorktown in September 1781. Grasse and his fleet played a decisive part in that victory, after which they returned to the Caribbean. On arrival in Saint Domingue in November 1781, the admiral was notified to proceed with a plan for the conquest of Jamaica.[8]

Jamaica was the largest and most profitable British island in the Caribbean, mainly because of sugar; it was more valuable to the British economy than all of the thirteen American colonies. King George III wrote to Lord Sandwich, saying that he would risk protecting Britain's important Caribbean islands at the risk of Britain herself, and this was the strategy implemented in 1779.[9] Sugar made up 20% of all British imports and was worth five times as much as tobacco.[10] The French and Spanish were fighting to take over Jamaica in order to expel the British from the West Indies, and to strike a massive blow against the British economy.[11] The courts at Paris and Madrid perceived the invasion of Jamaica as an alternative to the Spanish and French attempts to take Gibraltar, which for two years had been a costly disaster.[12]

While Grasse waited for reinforcements to undertake the Jamaica campaign, he captured St. Kitts in February 1782. The rest of the Windward Islands - Antigua, St Lucia, and Barbados - still remained under British control. Admiral George Rodney arrived in the Caribbean theater the following month, bringing reinforcements. These included seventeen ships of the line and gave the British a slight numerical advantage.[13]

On 7 April 1782, Grasse set out from Martinique with 35 ships of the line, including two 50-gun ships and a large convoy of more than 100 cargo ships, to meet with a Spanish fleet of 12 ships of the line. In addition, Grasse was to rendezvous with 15,000 troops at Saint Domingue, who were earmarked for the conquest and intended to land on Jamaica's north coast.[13] Rodney, on learning of this, sailed from St Lucia in pursuit with 36 ships of the line the following day.[14]

The British hulls by this time had been given copper sheathing to protect them from marine growth and fouling, as well as salt water corrosion. This dramatically improved speed and sailing performance as a whole in good wind.[15]

Battle

On 9 April 1782, the copper-hulled British fleet soon caught up with the French, who were surprised by their speed.[16] Admiral de Grasse ordered the French convoy to head into Guadeloupe for repair, forcing him to escort two fifty-gun ships (Fier and Experiment), and placing his fleet in line of battle in order to cover the retreat. The British fleet became separated from the centre and rear divisions. But eight ships of their vanguard under Rear-Admiral Samuel Hood moved against Grasse's retreating ships and waged a fight. After an inconclusive encounter in which both sides suffered damage, Grasse soon realized that the main British fleet would soon be upon them. He broke off the engagement to return to protect the merchant convoy.[13]

Battle of the Saintes plan
Main stages of the battle

In the following days the two fleets faced each other parallel but both sides kept their distance as they repaired their ships.[14]

On 12 April, the French were sighted a short distance away, as the two fleets maneuvered between the northern end of Dominica and the Saintes. A French straggler, Zélé (74 guns), was spotted and was chased by four British ships as De Grasse made for Guadeloupe. He bore up with his fleet to protect the ship which led him to Guadeloupe and at the same time Rodney recalled his chasing ships and made the signal for line of battle.[17]

Rear-Admiral Hood's van division were still making repairs from the action three days earlier, so he directed his rear division, under Rear Admiral Francis S. Drake, to take the lead. At 7:40, HMS Marlborough, under Captain Taylor Penny, led the British line and opened battle when he approached the centre of the French line.[15] Having remained parallel with the French, the ships of Drake's division passed the remaining length of de Grasse's line and the two sides exchanged broadsides, a typical naval engagement of this time.[13]

Breaking of the line

As the battle progressed, the strong winds of the previous day and night began to temper and became more variable. As the French line passed down the British line, the sudden shift of wind let Rodney's flagship HMS Formidable and several other ships, including HMS Duke and HMS Bedford, sail toward the French line.[18]

Battle-of-the-Saintes-12th-April-1782-William-Elliott-1784-871
Lord Rodney’s flagship ‘Formidable’ breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th 1782; painted by William Elliott

At 8 am, Formidable opened fire and engaged the French centre. As she slowed, she duelled with de Grasse's flagship, Ville de Paris of 104 guns. The rest of the ships soon followed, raking the French as they did so, causing high casualties amongst the soldiers and sailors.[19] Around 9 am, Drake's rearmost ship, HMS Russell, cleared the end of the French fleet and hauled wind; while his ships had taken some damage, they had inflicted a severe battering on the French.[17]

Within an hour, the wind had shifted to the south, forcing the French line to separate and bear to the west, as it could not hold its course into the wind. This allowed the British to use their guns on both sides of their ships without any fear of return fire from the front and rear of the French ships they were passing between. The effect was greater with the use of carronades, with which the British had just equipped nearly half their fleet; this relatively new short-range weapon was quicker to reload and more of them could be carried. Glorieux was the first victim; virtually a sitting duck, she was quickly pounded and dismasted by intense fire. In the confusion, four French ships began milling around; Formidable turned to starboard and brought her port guns to bear on them.[13] As a result, Formidable sailed through the French line, blasting her way through; this piercing was followed by five other British ships.[14]

At the same time, Commodore Edmund Affleck, to the south, also immediately capitalized on the opportunity and led the rearmost of the British ships through the French line, inflicting significant damage. The French tried to restore order; around 1:30 pm, Admiral de Grasse signalled line on the port tack, but this was not fulfilled; he was soon battling Hood's 90-gun HMS Barfleur.[15] With their formation shattered and many of their ships severely damaged, the French fell away to the southwest in small groups.[13] Rodney attempted to redeploy and make repairs before pursuing the French.[4] By 2 pm, the wind had freshened and a general chase ensued. As the British pressed south, they took possession of Glorieux and caught up with the French rear at around 3 pm. In succession, Rodney's ships isolated the other three ships. César, which was soon totally dismasted and in flames, was captured by HMS Centaur. Hector, a complete dismasted wreck, struck her flag after having battled HMS Canada and HMS Alcide.[20] Ardent soon followed, being taken by the rest of the British centre.[19]

Fin du César-Dumoulin-IMG 5478
The end of the César, by François Aimé Louis Dumoulin

At 4 pm, de Grasse with Ville de Paris, alone and being battered by Barfleur, with little support and suffering huge losses in men, made another attempt to signal the fleet and gave the order "to build the line on the starboard tack", but again this was not done.[14] By this time, most of the French fleet, apart from those ships that were surrounded, had retreated. Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who commanded Auguste, succeeded in rallying eight ships of his own division.[13]

Finally, the isolated Ville de Paris, being overwhelmed and suffering terrible losses, eventually struck her colours, signalling surrender.[21] Hood took the surrender; the boarding crew, which included the British fleet surgeon Gilbert Blane, were horrified at the carnage;[a] Remarkably Admiral de Grasse appeared not to have a scratch on him, while every one of his officers had either been killed or wounded. Rodney boarded soon after, and Hood presented Grasse to him.[13] With his surrender, the battle had effectively ended, except for a few long-range desultory shots and the retreat of many of the French ships in disorder.[14] With a fire out of control, the magazine aboard the César exploded, killing more than 400 French and 50 British sailors, although many men jumped overboard trying to avoid the disaster.[4]

The Comte de Vaudreuil in Sceptre, learning of Grasse's fate, assumed command of the scattered French naval fleet. On 13 April, he had ten ships with him and sailed toward Cap-Français.[13]

Aftermath

The British lost 243 killed and 816 wounded, and two captains of 36 were killed. The total French casualties have never been stated, but six captains out of 30 were killed. It is estimated that the French may have lost as many as 3,000 men. More than 5,000 French soldiers and sailors were captured. In addition to several French ships captured, others were severely damaged.[23] The high number of men demonstrates the considerable force the French committed to achieve the invasion of Jamaica.[24] Of the Ville de Paris' crew alone, over 400 were killed and more than 700 were wounded – more than the casualties of the entire British fleet.[3]

Barnard's History of England - Rodney accepts the surrender of deGrasse
A 1785 engraving of de Grasse surrendering to Rodney.

On 17 April, Hood was sent in pursuit of the French, and promptly captured two 64-gun ships of the line (Jason and Caton) and two smaller warships in the Battle of the Mona Passage on 19 April.[4]

Soon after the defeat, the French fleet reached Cap Francois in several waves; the main contingent, under Vaudreuil, arrived on 25 April; Marseillois, along with Hercule, Pluton and Éveillé, arrived on 11 May.[25]

In May, all French ships from the battle arrived from Martinique, then numbering twenty-six ships, and were soon joined by twelve Spanish ships. Disease took a hold of the French forces, in particular the soldiers, of whom thousands died. The allies hesitated, and indecision soon led to the abandonment of the attack on Jamaica.[13]

The battle has been controversial, for three reasons:

  • Rodney's failure to follow up the victory by a pursuit was much criticised. Samuel Hood said that the 20 French ships would have been captured had the commander-in-chief maintained the chase. In 1899 the Navy Records Society published the Dispatches and Letters Relating to the Blockading of Brest. In the introduction, they include a small biography of Admiral William Cornwallis, who commanded the Canada at the Saintes. A poem purportedly written by him includes the lines:

Had a chief worthy Britain commanded our fleet,
Twenty-five good French ships had been laid at our feet.[26]

French Captive Ships 12 April 1782
Captive French ships after the battle by Dominic Serres

France and Spain's plan to invade Jamaica was ruined, and it remained a British colony with no further threat, as indeed were Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.[3] Rodney was feted a hero on his return; he presented the Comte De Grasse as his prisoner personally to the King. He was created a peer with £2,000 a year settled on the title in perpetuity for this victory. Hood was elevated to the peerage as well, while Drake and Affleck were made baronets.[17]

Following the Franco-American victory at Yorktown the previous year, and the change of Government in England, peace negotiations among Britain, the American colonies, France, and Spain had begun in early 1782. The Battle of the Saintes transferred the strategic initiative to the British. The most likely next military action would be an attack on the French sugar islands. The French were consequently inclined to ameliorate their terms. Britain's dominance at sea was reasserted. The Americans realized they were unlikely to have much French support in the future. Richard Howe gained relief of the Siege of Gibraltar by defeating the huge Franco-Spanish assault; the siege was lifted in February 1783.[14] Initial articles of peace were signed in July, with a full treaty following in September 1783.

As a result of the battle, naval warfare changed along the tactical lines employed. The British used these tactics again in the all-important Battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated Napoleon’s fleet using similar tactics.[3]

Order of battle

Britain

Admiral Sir George Rodney's fleet
Van
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Royal Oak Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Burnett
8
30
38
HMS Alfred Third rate 74 Captain William Bayne  
12
40
52
Bayne killed on 9 April
HMS Montagu Third rate 74 Captain George Bowen
14
29
43
HMS Yarmouth Third rate 64 Captain Anthony Parrey
14
33
47
HMS Valiant Third rate 74 Captain Samuel Granston Goodall
10
28
38
HMS Barfleur Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood
Captain John Knight
10
37
47
Flagship of van
HMS Monarch Third rate 74 Captain Francis Reynolds
16
33
49
HMS Warrior Third rate 74 Captain Sir James Wallace
5
21
26
HMS Belliqueux Third rate 64 Captain Andrew Sutherland (mariner)
4
10
14
HMS Centaur Third rate 74 Captain John Nicholson Inglefield
?
?
?
No casualty returns made
HMS Magnificent Third rate 74 Captain Robert Linzee
6
11
17
HMS Prince William Third rate 64 Captain George Wilkinson
0
0
0
Centre
HMS Bedford Third rate 74 Commodore Edmund Affleck
Captain Thomas Graves
0
17
17
HMS Ajax Third rate 74 Captain Nicholas Charrington
9
40
49
HMS Repulse Third rate 64 Captain Thomas Dumaresq
3
11
14
HMS Canada Third rate 74 Captain William Cornwallis
12
23
35
HMS St Albans Third rate 64 Captain Charles Inglis
0
6
6
HMS Namur Second rate 90 Captain Robert Fanshawe
6
25
31
HMS Formidable Second rate 98 Admiral Sir George Rodney
Captain Sir Charles Douglas
2nd Captain Charles Symons
15
39
53
Flagship of centre
HMS Duke Second rate 98 Captain Alan Gardner
13
60
73
HMS Agamemnon Third rate 64 Captain Benjamin Caldwell
15
23
38
HMS Resolution Third rate 74 Captain Lord Robert Manners
4
34
38
HMS Prothee Third rate 64 Captain Charles Buckner
5
25
30
HMS Hercules Third rate 74 Captain Henry Savage
6
19
25
Captain Savage wounded
HMS America Third rate 64 Captain Samuel Thompson
1
1
2
Rear
HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain James Saumarez
10
29
39
HMS Fame Third rate 74 Captain Robert Barbor
3
12
15
HMS Anson Third rate 64 Captain William Blair  
3
13
16
HMS Torbay Third rate 74 Captain John Lewis Gidoin
10
25
35
HMS Prince George Second rate 98 Captain James Williams
9
24
33
HMS Princessa Third rate 70 Rear-Admiral Francis Samuel Drake
Captain Charles Knatchbull
3
22
25
Flagship of rear
HMS Conqueror Third rate 74 Captain George Balfour
7
23
30
HMS Nonsuch Third rate 64 Captain William Truscott
3
3
6
HMS Alcide Third rate 74 Captain Charles Thompson
?
?
?
No casualty returns made
HMS Arrogant Third rate 74 Captain Samuel Pitchford Cornish
0
0
0
HMS Marlborough Third rate 74 Captain Taylor Penny
3
16
19
Total recorded casualties: 239 killed, 762 wounded (casualties for two ships unknown)
Source: The London Gazette, 12 December 1782.[29]

France

Admiral the Comte de Grasse's fleet
Ship Guns Commander Fate
Ardent 64 de Gouzillon captured
Auguste 80 de Castellan
Chef d'escadre Louis Antoine de Bougainville
van flag
Bourgogne 74
Brave 74
César 74 captured, but destroyed
Citoyen 74
Conquérant 74
Couronne 80 Claude Mithon de Genouilly
Dauphin Royal 70 Pierre, comte de Roquefeuil
Destin 74
Diadème 74
Duc de Bourgogne 80
Éveillé 64
Glorieux 74 captured
Hector 74 captured
Hercule 74 Jean Isaac Chadeau de la Clocheterie
Languedoc 80
Magnanime 74
Magnifique 74
Marseillais 74
Neptune 74
Northumberland 74
Palmier 74
Pluton 74
Réfléchi 64
Richemont 32 (frigate) Montemart
Sceptre 74 Marquis de Vaudreuil
Scipion 74
Souverain 74
Triomphant 80 Jean-François Du Cheyron  
Ville de Paris 104 François Joseph Paul de Grasse captured

Appearances in popular culture

The Battle of the Saintes is the subject of the title track on No Grave But the Sea, the 2017 album by the Scottish "pirate metal " band Alestorm. The lyrics mention De Grasse, the British ships HMS Duke and Bedford, and the tactic of "breaking the line."[30]

References

Footnotes
  1. ^ Blane noted, "When boarded, Ville de Paris presented a scene of complete horror. The numbers killed were so great that the surviving, either from want of leisure, or through dismay, had not thrown the bodies of the killed overboard, so that the decks were covered with the blood and mangled limbs of the dead, as well as the wounded and dying".[22]
  2. ^ According to dramatist Richard Cumberland, Rodney discussed breaking the line over dinner at Lord George Germain's country residence at Stoneland. He used cherry stones to represent two battle lines and declared to pierce the enemy's fleet.[5]
  3. ^ Charles Dashwood a seventeen-year-old side-de-camp to both men, wrote, "Sir Charles was (heading to Sir George's cabin when he) met with Rodney, who was coming from the cabin … Sir Charles bowed and said: ‘Sir George, I give you the joy of victory!’ ‘Poh!’ said Rodney ‘the day is not half won yet.’ ‘Break the line, Sir George!’ said your father, ‘the day is your own, and I shall insure you the victory.’ ‘No’ said the Admiral, ‘I will not break my line.’ After another request and refusal, Sir Charles ordered the helmsman to put to port; Sir Rodney countermanded the order and said, ‘starboard.’ He then said, ‘Remember, Sir Charles that I am Commander-in Chief – starboard, sir (to the helmsman).’ A couple of minutes later, Sir Charles addressed him again – ‘only break the line Sir George, and the day is your own.’ Rodney then said, ‘Well, well, do as you like,’ turned around, and walked into the aft cabin. I was then ordered below to give necessary directions for opening the fire on the larboard side. On my return to the quarterdeck (from below), I found the Formidable passing between two French ships, each nearly touching us.[27]
Citations
  1. ^ a b Wallenfeldt p. 78
  2. ^ Black, Jeremy (1999). Warfare in the Eighteenth Century. London: Cassell. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-304-35245-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Valin p. 58
  4. ^ a b c d Navies and the American Revolution, 1775–1783. Robert Gardiner, ed. Chatham Publishing, 1997, p.123-127. ISBN 1-55750-623-X
  5. ^ a b c d O'Shaughnessy p. 314
  6. ^ Valin p.67-68
  7. ^ Dull p. 244
  8. ^ Dull p. 248-49
  9. ^ O'Shaughnessy p. 208
  10. ^ Rogoziński p. 115
  11. ^ Trew p. 154-55
  12. ^ Dull p. 282
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Trew p. 157-62
  14. ^ a b c d e f Mahan. p. 205−226
  15. ^ a b c Lavery p. 144-45
  16. ^ Stevens p. 173
  17. ^ a b c Mahan p. 194−221
  18. ^ Tanstall, Brian. Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail: the Evolution of Fighting Tactics 1680—1815. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1990. p. 308. ISBN 1-55750-601-9
  19. ^ a b O'Shaughnessy p. 315-17
  20. ^ Roche, p.238
  21. ^ Troude, Batailles navales, p. 155
  22. ^ Macintyre, Donald (1962). Admiral Rodney. Norton. p. 239.
  23. ^ Trew p. 169
  24. ^ Trew 158
  25. ^ Troude, Batailles navales, p. 158
  26. ^ Leyland, John (1899). Dispatches and letters relating to the blockade of Brest, 1803–1805. Printed for the Navy Records Society. p. xx.
  27. ^ "Rodney's Battle of 12 April 1782: A Statement of Some Important Facts, Supported by Authentic Documents, Relating to the Operation of Breaking the Enemy's Line, as Practiced for the First Time in the Celebrated Battle of 12 April 1782". Quarterly Review. XLII (LXXXIII): 64. 1830.
  28. ^ Valin p. 67-68
  29. ^ "No. 12396". The London Gazette. 1782-10-12. pp. 3–4.
  30. ^ "Alestorm – No Grave but the Sea". Song Meanings.

Bibliography

  • Douglas, Major-General Sir Howard; Christopher J. Valin (2010). Naval Evolutions: A Memoir. Fireship Press. ISBN 1-935585-27-4.
  • Dull, Jonathan R. (1975). The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691069203.
  • Crossman, Mark World military leaders: a biographical dictionary Facts on File Inc (2006) ISBN 978-0-8160-4732-1
  • Fullom, Stephen Watson, Life of General Sir Howard Douglas, Bart. (1865)
  • Lebedev, A.A. From the Chesapeake to Dominica: the culmination of a fundamental dispute naval doctrines. Gangut. 2010. No. 56 – 57
  • Mahan, A.T., Major Operations of the Navies in the War of Independence (1913)
  • Mahan, A.T., Types of Naval Officers, Drawn from the History of the British Navy (1901)
  • Mundy, Major-General Godfrey Basil, The Life and Correspondence of the Late Admiral Lord Rodney (1830)

9781615300495

  • Lavery, Brian (2009). Empire of the seas: how the navy forged the modern world. Conway. ISBN 9781844861095.
  • O'Shaughnessy, Andrew (2013). The Men Who Lost America: British Command during the Revolutionary War and the Preservation of the Empire. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 9781780742465.
  • Playfair, John. "On the Naval Tactics of the Late John Clerk, Esq. of Eldin." The Works of John Playfair, Vol. III (1822)
  • Rogoziński, Jan (1999). A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present. Facts On File. ISBN 9780816038114.
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours. 1. Group Retozel-Maury Millau. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922.
  • Stevens, William (2009). History of Sea Power; Volume 95 of Historische Schiffahrt. Books on Demand. ISBN 9783861950998.
  • Trew, Peter (2006). Rodney and the Breaking of the Line. Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 9781844151431.
  • Troude, Onésime-Joachim (1867). Batailles navales de la France (in French). 2. Challamel ainé.
  • Wallenfeldt, Jeff, ed. (2009). The American Revolutionary War and The War of 1812: People, Politics, and Power America at War. Britannica Educational Publishing. ISBN 9781615300495.
  • Valin, Christopher J. (2009). Fortune's Favorite: Sir Charles Douglas and the Breaking of the Line. Fireship Press. ISBN 1-934757-72-1.

External links

Coordinates: 15°47′N 61°36′W / 15.783°N 61.600°W

Battle of the Mona Passage

The Battle of the Mona Passage was a naval engagement on 19 April 1782 between a British fleet under Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, and a small French fleet. It took place in the Mona Passage, the strait separating Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, shortly after the British victory at the Battle of the Saintes. The British overtook and captured four ships, two of which were 64-gun ships of the line.

François Joseph Paul de Grasse

François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse (13 September 1722 – 11 January 1788) was a career French officer who achieved the rank of admiral. He is best known for his command of the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 in the last year of the American Revolutionary War. It led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown and helped gain the rebels' victory.

After this action, de Grasse returned with his fleet to the Caribbean. In 1782 British Admiral Rodney decisively defeated and captured Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes. Grasse was widely criticised for his loss in that battle. On his return to France in 1784, he demanded a court martial; it acquitted him of fault in his defeat.

His grown children from his marriages all emigrated to Saint-Domingue, his eldest son Auguste assigned there as a naval officer, and joined by his stepmother and sisters after the father's death. They had lost property in the French Revolution. He was among French officers who surrendered to the British during the Haitian Revolution. Auguste and his four sisters went as refugees to Charleston, South Carolina, where two sisters died of yellow fever. One married and founded a family line with her husband in New York City. Grasse's natural, adopted Indian-French son, George de Grasse, emigrated to New York City by 1799, where he married and made his adult life. The admiral's eldest son, known as Auguste de Grasse, returned to France after Napoleon came to power, and re-entered the military. He inherited his father's title as count.

French ship Duc de Bourgogne (1751)

The Duc de Bourgogne was an 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.

She was refitted twice, in and 1761 and 1779, having her hull coppered.

Under Chef d'Escadre Charles-Henri-Louis Arsac de Ternay, she was the flagship of the expeditionary corps that left on 2 May 1780 for the American war of Independence, and carried the Count of Rochambeau.

She took part in the Battle of the Saintes, where she collided with Bourgogne.In 1792, she was renamed Peuple, and Caton in 1794.

She was condemned in February 1798 at Brest, and eventually broken up in January 1800.

French ship Neptune (1778)

Neptune was a 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.

Under Captain de Latouche, she captured a 30-gun British privateer named Hercules on 28 October 1778.

In 1782, she was part of de Grasse's squadron. Neptune engaged HMS Repulse and HMS Canada in the Battle of the Saintes.

Decommissioned, she was reactivated to take part in the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 and in the Croisière du Grand Hiver. She ran aground and was destroyed on 28 December 1794, with the loss of 50.

French ship Northumberland (1780)

Northumberland was a 74-gun Annibal class ship of the line of the French Navy.

She took part in the Battle of the Chesapeake (5 September 1781), a crucial naval engagement of the American Revolutionary War (Captain Bon-Chrétien, Marquis de Bricqueville), as well as the Battle of the Saintes seven months later, under Captain Saint Cézaire, who was killed in the action. In 1782, she captured the 14-gun sloop HMS Allegiance.

Northumberland was captured during the Glorious First of June in 1794, where she was captained by François-Pierre Étienne. She was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Northumberland, and was broken up the next year in December 1795.

George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney

George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, KB (bap. 13 February 1718 – 24 May 1792), was a British naval officer. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence, particularly his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. It is often claimed that he was the commander to have pioneered the tactic of "breaking the line".

Rodney came from a distinguished but poor background, and went to sea at the age of fourteen. His first major action was the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in 1747. He made a large amount of prize money during the 1740s, allowing him to purchase a large country estate and a seat in the House of Commons of Great Britain. During the Seven Years' War, Rodney was involved in a number of amphibious operations such as the raids on Rochefort and Le Havre and the Siege of Louisbourg. He became well known for his role in the capture of Martinique in 1762. Following the Peace of Paris, Rodney's financial situation stagnated. He spent large sums of money pursuing his political ambitions. By 1774 he had run up large debts and was forced to flee Britain to avoid his creditors. He was in a French jail when war was declared in 1778. Thanks to a benefactor, Rodney was able to secure his release and return to Britain where he was appointed to a new command.

Rodney successfully relieved Gibraltar during the Great Siege and defeated a Spanish fleet during the 1780 Battle of Cape St. Vincent, known as the "Moonlight Battle" because it took place at night. He then was posted to the Jamaica Station, where he became involved in the controversial 1781 capture of Sint Eustatius. Later that year he briefly returned home suffering from ill health. During his absence the British lost the crucial Battle of the Chesapeake leading to the surrender at Yorktown.

To some Rodney was a controversial figure, accused of an obsession with prize money and nepotism. This was brought to a head in the wake of his taking of Saint Eustatius for which he was heavily criticised in Britain. Orders for his recall had been sent when Rodney won a decisive victory at the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782, ending the French threat to Jamaica. On his return to Britain, Rodney was made a peer and was awarded an annual pension of £2,000. He lived in retirement until his death in 1792.

HMS Belliqueux (1780)

HMS Belliqueux (Eng. warlike) was a 64-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 5 June 1780 at Blackwall Yard, London. She was named after the French ship Belliqueux captured in 1758.

In 1781 Belliqueux took part at the Battle of Fort Royal, and in 1782 she was at the Battle of the Saintes.

In 1796 she came under the command of Captain John Inglis who commanded her bravely during the Battle of Camperdown in October 1797.

At the Action of 4 August 1800, Belliqueux captured the French frigate Concorde.

After the Dutch Governor Jansens signed a capitulation on 18 January 1806, and the British established control of the Cape Colony, Belliqueux escorted the East Indiamen William Pitt, Jane, Duchess of Gordon, Sir William Pulteney, Comet to Madras. The convoy included the Northampton, Streatham, Europe, Union, Glory, and Sarah Christiana.At Madras, the captains of the eight East Indiamen in the convoy joined together to present Captain George Byng, of Belliqueux, a piece of silver plate worth £100 as a token of appreciation for his conduct while they were under his orders. Byng wrote his thank you letter to them on 24 April.Philip Dundas, Lieutenant-Governor of Penang died on-board Belliqueux on 8 April 1807, while Belliqueux was in the Bay of Bengal.Belliqueux was employed as a prison ship from 1814, and was broken up in 1816.

HMS Canada (1765)

HMS Canada was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 17 September 1765 at Woolwich Dockyard.On 2 May 1781, Canada engaged and captured the Spanish ship Santa Leocadia, of 34 guns.In 1782, Canada was under the command of William Cornwallis, when she took part in the Battle of St. Kitts. Later that year she participated in the Battle of the Saintes.

She took part in the Action of 6 November 1794 under Charles Powell Hamilton and managed to avoid capture.

HMS Formidable (1777)

HMS Formidable was a 90-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 20 August 1777 at Chatham. During her career, her armament was increased to 98-guns.In 1782, Formidable served as Admiral Rodney's flagship at the Battle of the Saintes.

She was broken up in 1813.

HMS Monarch (1765)

HMS Monarch was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 20 July 1765 at Deptford Dockyard.Monarch had a very active career, fighting in her first battle in 1778 at the First Battle of Ushant and her second under Admiral Rodney at Cape St. Vincent in 1780. She fought in the van of Graves' fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 under Captain Francis Reynolds. In early 1782 was actively engaged at the Capture of Sint Eustatius, Action of 4 February 1781, the Battle of Saint Kitts, the Battle of the Saintes and, the Battle of the Mona Passage. In 1795 she was deployed as part of the small fleet under Admiral George Elphinstone that captured the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch East India Company at the Battle of Muizenberg. In 1797 Monarch was Vice Admiral Richard Onslow's flagship at the Battle of Camperdown, under Captain Edward O'Bryen, and in 1801 she was part of Admiral Nelson's fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen, where her captain, James Robert Mosse was killed and she suffered over 200 casualties including 55 dead, the highest number of casualties of any ship engaged in the battle.In 1808, she helped escort the Portuguese royal family in its flight from Portugal to Brazil.

Monarch was broken up in 1813.

HMS Prince George (1772)

HMS Prince George was a 90-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 31 August 1772 at Chatham. During her career, she was upgraded to a 98-gun ship, through the addition of eight 12 pdr guns to her quarterdeck.In 1780, Prince George was part of Rodney's fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. She took part in the Battle of the Saintes in 1782, and the Battle of Groix in 1795.

In 1807, Prince George, under Captain Woodley Losack, was in the West indies in the squadron under the command of Rear-Admiral Alexander Cochrane. The squadron captured the Telemaco, Carvalho and Master on 17 April 1807.In December Prince George participated in Cochrane's expedition that captured the Danish islands of St Thomas on 22 December and Santa Cruz on 25 December. The Danes did not resist and the invasion was bloodless.

HMS Resolution (1770)

HMS Resolution was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 12 April 1770 at Deptford Dockyard.She participated in the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780, the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, and the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.

Resolution was broken up in 1813.

HMS Saintes (D84)

HMS Saintes was a 1942 Battle-class fleet destroyer of the Royal Navy (RN). She and 15 sister ships being ordered under the 1942 defence estimates. The ship was named after the Battle of the Saintes, a Royal Navy victory over a French fleet intending to invade Jamaica in 1782. So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name. Saintes was built by Hawthorn Leslie and Company on the Tyne. The vessel was launched on 19 July 1944 and commissioned on 27 September 1946.

HMS Somerset (1731)

HMS Somerset was an 80-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich and launched on 21 October 1731. She was the second ship to bear the name.

Lord George Rodney, later to triumph at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782, served on HMS Somerset in 1739 while preparing for his Lieutenant’s exams. The ship saw action at the Battle of Toulon in 1744. Toulon was an infamous engagement and consequently no battle honour was awarded. A combined Franco-Spanish fleet that had been blockaded in Toulon for two years finally put to sea, led by Admiral de Court de La Bruyère. The blockading British fleet under Admiral Thomas Mathews was roughly the same size as the Franco-Spanish fleet but fearing that the enemy fleet movement was designed to force him out of position and allow a troop convoy to reach Italy, Mathews ordered his fleet to attack before forming up into line. Admiral Richard Lestock, Mathew’s second in command, appears to have deliberately misunderstood his orders, and the resulting battle was indecisive, with the British taking more damage than they inflicted. Mathews was dismissed from the Navy for failing to obey permanent fighting instructions for battle.

Somerset was broken up in 1746.

HMS Valiant (1759)

HMS Valiant was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, modelled on the captured French ship Invincible and launched on 10 August 1759 at Chatham Dockyard. Her construction, launch and fitting-out are the theme of the 'Wooden Walls' visitor experience at Chatham Historic Dockyard. She served under Augustus Keppel during the Seven Years' War, and under George Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes. Valiant also served under Admiral Prince William in 1789 and fought at the Glorious First of June in 1794. In 1799 she was placed on harbour service, and was eventually broken up in 1826.

HMS Warrior (1781)

HMS Warrior was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 18 October 1781 at Portsmouth.A year after her launch she took part in the Battle of the Saintes. In 1801, she was part of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker's reserve squadron at the Battle of Copenhagen, and so did not participate in the battle. In 1805, she was part of Admiral Robert Calder's fleet at the Battle of Cape Finisterre. Later in December of that year she was involved in towing HMS Victory to Spithead.Warrior became a receiving ship in 1818, a prison ship after 1840, and was eventually broken up in 1857.

James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez

Admiral James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez (or Sausmarez), GCB (11 March 1757 – 9 October 1836) was an admiral of the British Royal Navy, notable for his victory at the Second Battle of Algeciras.

Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood

Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood (12 December 1724 – 27 January 1816) was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he saw action during the War of the Austrian Succession. While in temporary command of Antelope, he drove a French ship ashore in Audierne Bay, and captured two privateers in 1757 during the Seven Years' War. He held senior command as Commander-in-Chief, North American Station and then as Commander-in-Chief, Leeward Islands Station, leading the British fleet to victory at Battle of the Mona Passage in April 1782 during the American Revolutionary War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, then First Naval Lord and, after briefly returning to the Portsmouth command, became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars.

William Cornwallis

Admiral Sir William Cornwallis, (10 February 1744 – 5 July 1819) was a Royal Navy officer. He was the brother of Charles Cornwallis, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis, British commander at the siege of Yorktown. Cornwallis took part in a number of decisive battles including the Siege of Louisbourg in 1758 and the Battle of the Saintes but is best known as a friend of Lord Nelson and as the commander-in-chief of the Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. He is depicted in the Horatio Hornblower novel, Hornblower and the Hotspur.

His affectionate contemporary nickname from the ranks was Billy Blue and a sea shanty was written during his period of service, reflecting the admiration his men had for him.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.