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1st Battle of Cape Finisterre

Combat du Cap Ortégal

3rd May 1747
Part of : War of the Austrian Succession (1740/12/16 - 1748/10/18)
Previous action : Action of March 25 1747 25.3.1747
Next action : Action of June 20 1747 20.6.1747

 

Royaume de France (Marine Royale) -
Chevalier Pierre Jacques de Taffanel de La JonquièreFrench
Naval Sailor
Administrator
Service 1697-1746

 
French Fleet
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Diamant (50) 1733-1747
French 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Chevalier Toussaint Hocquart de BlincourtFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1717-1761
2/3 of the crew killed and wounded Captured
Le Philibert (40) 1741-1770
French 40 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
Jacques Lars de LescouetFrench
Naval Sailor
Merchant Sailor
Service 1757-1758
Captured East Indiaman
Le Vigilant (20) 1747-1747
French 20 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
Pierre Bourau de VaumulonFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1747
Captured
La Chimère (36) 1747-1747
French 36 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
  Captured
Le Rubis (54) 1728-1747
French 54 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
 Armed en-flute (26) Captured 40 killed, 30 wounded
Le Sérieux (64) 1740-1747
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Charles-Alexandre de Morell d'Aubigny d'Assy (Comte d'Aubigny)French
Naval Sailor
Administrator
Marine
Service 1713-1761
Fleet Flagship Captured
L'Invincible (74) 1744-1747
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Chevalier Jacques-François Grout (Seigneur de Saint-Georges)French
Naval Sailor
Privateer
Merchant Sailor
Service 1720-1747
153 killed, 127 wounded Captured
La Thétis (22) 1747-1747
French 22 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
  Captured
La Modeste (18) 1747-1747
French 18 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
  Captured
 75 killed, 100 wounded Captured Armed en-flute?
 
Ships not in the Line
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Emeraude (28) 1744-1757
French 28 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
  Armed en-flute (26)
Le Dartmouth (18) 1747-1747
French 18 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
  Captured
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Jason (48) 1746-1747
French 48 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
 
 

Great Britain

 
British Fleet,
George AnsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Ship Owner
Service 1711-1761
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Devonshire (80) 1745-1747
British 80 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Temple WestBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1727-1757
Squadron Flagship
Namur (74) 1746-1749
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Francis GearyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1734-1780
,
The Hon. Edward BoscawenBritish
Naval Sailor
Ship Owner
Administrator
Marine
Service 1726-1759
Yarmouth (64) 1745-1811
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Piercy BrettBritish
Naval Sailor
Marine
Service 1723-1778
Pembroke (60) 1733-1749
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas FincherBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1729-1740
Windsor (60) 1745-1777
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas HanwayBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1729-1759
Centurion (50) 1733-1769
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
1744 Renamed "Eagle"
1745 Renamed "Centurion"
Peter DenisBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1732-1778
Bristol (50) 1746-1768
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
The Hon. William MontagueBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1740-1754
 
Ships not engaged
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Prince George (90) 1723-1755
British 90 Gun
2nd Rate Ship of the Line
 Fleet Flagship
Monmouth (70) 1742-1767
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Henry HarrisonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1706-1759
Prince Frederick (70) 1740-1784
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Harry NorrisBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1739-1759
Princess Louisa (60) 1744-1766
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Charles WatsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1734-1758
Nottingham (60) 1745-1773
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Philip SaumarezBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1743
Falkland (50) 1744-1768
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Blumfield BarradallBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1719-1747
Ambuscade (40) 1746-1762
British 40 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
John MontaguBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1733-1787
Falcon (10) 1745-1759
British 10 Gun
Unrated Bomb Vessel
Richard GwynnBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1739-1760
Vulcan (8) 1745-1749
British 8 Gun
Unrated Sloop
William PettigrewBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1744-1745
Kent (64) 1746-1757
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas FoxBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1749
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Defiance (60) 1744-1766
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas GrenvilleBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1740-1748
 

Notes on Action


Prelude to the actionRN
The projects of the French were known in England; and a squadron, under Vice-Admiral George Anson and Rear-Admiral Peter Warren, was specially fitted out to checkmate them. The French had with them a convoy, which brought the total number of their sail up to thirty-eight. M. de St. Georges left Groix in March, but, after suffering some losses from British cruisers and from very bad weather, had to put into the road of Isle d'Aix. La Jonquiere there joined him. and the two finally sailed on April 29th. Anson and Warren had left England on April 9th and had proceeded off Cape Finisterre, where, on May 3rd, the Cape bearing S.E., distant twenty-four leagues, they sighted the French. La Jonquiere thereupon caused twelve of his best ships to shorten sail and form a line of battle ahead, while the rest stretched to the westward and crowded every possible stitch of canvas. Anson also made signal for a line of battle, believing apparently that he was in the presence of a more formidable squadron than was really before him; but, at Warren's insistance, he substituted the signal for a general chase.
Description of the ActionRN

La Jonquiere was but ill-supported. Several of the French East India ships, especially the Vigilant and Modeste, and later the Thetis and Apollon, looked to nothing but the idea of saving themselves. It is useless to examine the tactical details of an action of this kind. Suffice to say, that, after a running fight lasting from 4 to 7 P.M., in which several of the French captains behaved with great courage and others conducted themselves with equal cowardice, all the ships which had remained in the French line struck. At 7 P.M. Anson brought to, and detached the Monmouth, Yarmouth and Nottingham in pursuit of the convoy, which then bore W. by S.W., distant about five leagues, and which had been followed and observed during the action by the Falcon. These ships captured the Vigilant, the Modeste and the Dartmouth, once a British privateer, together with six of the convoy. Night saved the rest.


The battle, considering its nature, was a costly one. The French lost about 700 killed and wounded, and the British, 520. Among the French officers killed was Captain de Saliez, and among those wounded were La Jonquiere himself and d'Aubigny, his flag captain. On the British side Captain Thomas Grenville, of the Defiance, was killed, and Captain Boscawen, of the Namur, wounded. The victors found specie to the value of 300,000 on board the prizes. For this service Anson was created a peer, and Warren, a K.B. All the men-of-war taken, and also the East Indiaman Thetis, were purchased into the Royal Navy. The name of the Serieux was changed to Intrepid, and that of the Diamant to Isis.



Sources


IDNameAuthorType
RNThe Royal Navy (Official Site)The Royal Navy, Web Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Albert Parker on Tuesday 13th of August 2013 03:54

British sources seem to assign definite articles (le, la, l' in French) to French and Spanish warships more or less at random. French sources and accounts often prefix an article to every ship. Usually, ships of the line are masculine and thus "le <Shipname>," and frigates and smaller vessels are feminine and thus "la <Shipname>." There was nothing special about Jason, Diamant, Vigilant, Invincible, or Thétis that would merit and article while the other ships did not.
The British navy did not use French articles with the names of its own warships, such as Monmouth and Prince Frederick.

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