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Battle of Pondicherry

10th September 1759
Part of : Seven Years' War (1756/05/17 - 1763/02/10)
Previous action : Battle of Lagos Bay 18.8.1759 - 19.8.1759
Next action : Fortune vs Hebe 19.11.1759

This was the third and last in a series of actions between the British under Vice-Admiral Vice-Admiral George Pocock and the French Admiral Comte d'Aché in the Indian Ocean. The other battles were Cuddalore and Negapatam.

The French squadron was comprised of French Compagnie des Indies vessels and not French Naval vessels.

 

Royaume de France

 
French Squadron,
Anne Antoine d'Aché (Comte d'Aché de Serquigny)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1717-1780
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Actif (64) 1752-1767
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Froger de L'ÉguilleFrench
Naval Sailor
Le Minotaure (74) 1757-1783
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Jacques de Ruis-EmbitoFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1734-1759
Le Duc d'Orléans (54) 1753-1761
French 54 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
 
Le Saint Louis (54) 1752-1770
French 54 Gun
4th Rate East Indiaman
 
Le Vengeur (64) 1756-1765
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate East Indiaman
 
Le Zodiaque (74) 1756-1784
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Jacques-Antoine de GothoFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1710-1810
Fleet Flagship CO Killed
Le Comte de Provence (68) 1756-1766
French 68 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
Jean-Jacques de La ChaiseFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1757-1759
Le Duc de Bourgogne (54) 1752-1761
French 54 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
Joseph BouvetFrench
Naval Sailor
L'Illustre (64) 1750-1761
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
de BeauchesneFrench
Naval Sailor
,
Jacques de Ruis-EmbitoFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1734-1759
Le Fortuné (60) 1757-1763
French 60 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
Etienne LobryFrench
Naval Sailor
Le Centaure (70) 1751-1761
French 70 Gun
Merchant East Indiaman
René-Louis de SurvilleFrench
Naval Sailor
CO Killed
La Sylphide (30) 1756-1761
French 30 Gun
Merchant Frigate
François-Aymar de Monteil (Comte de Monteil)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1741-1787
Not in the line
La Diligente (26) 1756-1761
French 26 Gun
5th Rate East Indiaman
Marc-Joseph Macé Marion du Fresne (Sieur du Fresne)French
Naval Sailor
Privateer
Merchant Sailor
Service 1735-1736
Not in the line
 

Great Britain

 
British Squadron,
George PocockBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1718-1766
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Elizabeth (64) 1737-1766
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Richard TiddemanBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1721-1750
Newcastle (50) 1750-1761
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Colin MichieBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1757-1758
CO Killed
Tiger (60) 1747-1765
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
1761 Renamed "Tiger Hulk"
William BreretonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1745-1786
Grafton (68) 1750-1767
British 68 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Richard KempenfeltBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1728-1782
Fleet Flagship
Yarmouth (64) 1745-1811
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
John HarrisonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1732-1779
Squadron Flagship
Cumberland (66) 1748-1760
British 66 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Robert KirkBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1744-1760
Salisbury (50) 1746-1761
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Sir William Baird (5th Baronet of Saughton Hall)British
Naval Sailor
Service 1742-1765
Sunderland (60) 1744-1761
British 60 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
James ColvilleBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1757-1761
Weymouth (60) 1752-1772
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Sir William Baird (5th Baronet of Saughton Hall)British
Naval Sailor
Service 1742-1765
Queenborough (24) 1747-1761
British 24 Gun
6th Rate Ship
Digby DentBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1758-1788
Not in the line
 

Notes on Action


Description

At 6 A.M., however, on September 10th, the French bore S.E. by S., distant eight or nine miles, sailing in line of battle ahead on the starboard tack. Pocock, in line of battle abreast, bore down on them with the wind about N.W. by W. At 10 A.M. the enemy wore, and formed a line of battle ahead on the larboard tack; and an hour afterwards Pocock did the same, the Elizabeth leading. The action was begun on the British side by Rear-Admiral Stevens, who, in the Grafton, attacked the Zodiaque. The tactics of the day present no features of special interest; and the action is chiefly remarkable for the fury with which it was fought; for the fact that, owing to various defects, two of the British ships were able to take only a very insignificant part in the engagement; and because, in the evening, the whole of the superior French squadron bore away and stood to the S.S.E. under a crowd of sail. Most of the British ships were far too damaged to be able to pursue; and, having ordered the East India Company's frigate Revenge to observe the motions of the French, Pocock lay to on the larboard tack to enable his most shattered vessels to repair damages. At dawn on September 11th the French were seen in the S.S.E., about twelve miles away, lying to on the larboard tack, the wind being about west. On perceiving the British, they at once wore and brought to on the other tack, and so continued until evening, when they were so far off that they were almost out of sight. At that time, the wind veering to the east, Pocock signalled his ships to wear, and stood under easy sail to the south-west; the Sunderland towing the Newcastle, the Weymouth, the Tiger, and the Elizabeth the Cumberland.



The loss sustained by the French in the engagement was, all things considered, enormous, amounting, as it did, to nearly 1500 killed and wounded. Among the killed were the captains of the Zodiaque and Centaure, and among the wounded was d'Aché himself. The French made for Pondicherry. The loss on the British side was also very heavy, being 569 killed and wounded, including 184 who were either killed outright or died of their wounds. Among the killed was captain Colin Michie of the Newcastle, and among the wounded were Captain Somerset of the Cumberland and Captain Brereton of the Tiger.



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