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Battle of Sadras

17th February 1782
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Battle of Saint Kitts 25.1.1782 - 26.1.1782
Next action : Success vs Santa Catalina 16.3.1782

 

Great Britain

 
British Battle Line,
Edward HughesBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1735-1793
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Eagle (64) 1774-1812
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1800 Renamed "Buckingham"
Ambrose ReddallBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1754-1783
Monmouth (64) 1772-1818
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1796 Renamed "Captivity"
James AlmsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1739-1784
Worcester (64) 1769-1816
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1788 Renamed "Worcester Hulk"
George TalbotBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1744-1782
Burford (68) 1757-1785
British 68 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Peter RainierBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1768-1805
Superb (74) 1760-1783
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
William StevensBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1750-1782
Fleet Flagship CO Killed
Hero (74) 1759-1810
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1800 Renamed "Rochester"
Charles WoodBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1748-1782
Isis (50) 1774-1810
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
The Hon. Thomas LumleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1778-1782
Monarca (68) 1780-1791
British 68 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
John GellBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1760-1805
Exeter (64) 1763-1784
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Henry ReynoldsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1762-1782
Squadron Flagship 10 killed, 45 wounded CO Killed
 
Not in the Line
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Seahorse (24) 1748-1784
British 24 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
Robert MontaguBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1779-1825
Manilla (10) 1780-1782
British 10 Gun
Unrated Storeship
William RobinsonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1766-1782
 

Royaume de France

 
French Battle Line,
Chevalier Pierre-Andre de SuffrenFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1743-1780
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Sévère (64) 1778-1784
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
de Cillart (Chevalier de Cillart)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1781-1782
La Pourvoyeuse (38) 1772-1786
French 38 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
 
Le Vengeur (64) 1765-1785
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
La Fine (32) 1779-1794
French 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
Chevalier Eléonor Jacques Marie Stanislas Périer de SalvertFrench
Naval Sailor
Marine
Service 1762-1783
Le Brillant (64) 1774-1797
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
La Bellone (32) 1778-1798
French 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
de PiervertFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1682-1782
Le Flamand (56) 1765-1786
French 56 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Louis Hyacinthe Cavelier de CuvervilleFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1755-1814
L'Annibal (74) 1778-1794
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1786 Renamed "Achille"
Bernard Boudin de Tromelin (Seigneur de Tromelin)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1750-1784
La Sylphide (12) 1763-1784
French 12 Gun
Unrated Corvette
 
Le Héros (74) 1778-1793
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 Squadron Flagship
L'Orient (74) 1759-1782
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
L'Artesien (64) 1765-1786
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Le Sphinx (64) 1775-1802
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Charles Louis du Chilleau (Vicomte du Chilleau)French
Naval Sailor
Service 1754-1814
Ajax (64) 1779-1801
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1779 Renamed "Ajax"
René Joseph Bouvet de PrécourtFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1779-1782
Le Petit Hannibal (50) 1782-1792
French 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
 
Le Bizarre (64) 1751-1782
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
 

Notes on Action


Descriptoin of the actionTRN3


At daylight the British saw the French squadron twelve miles east (A, A) and its transports nine miles south-west (c). Hughes chased the latter and took six. Suffren pursued, but could not overtake before sunset, and both fleets steered south-east during the night. Next morning there were light north-north-east airs, and the French were six miles north-east of the British (B, B). The latter formed line on the port tack (a), heading to seaward; Hughes hoping that thus the usual sea-breeze would find him to windward. The breeze, however, did not make as expected; and, as the north-east puffs were bringing the enemy down, he kept off before the wind (b) to gain time for his ships to close their intervals, which were too great. At 4 P.M. the: near approach of the French compelled him to form line again, on the port tack, heading easterly.


The rear ship, Exeter, 64, was left separated, out of due support from those ahead (C). Suffren, leading one section of his fleet in person, passed to windward of the British line, from the rear, as far as Hughes's flagship, which was fifth from the van. There he stopped, and kept at half cannon-shot, to prevent the four van ships from tacking to relieve their consorts. It was his intention that the second half of his fleet should attack the other side of the English (D), but only two of them did so, engaging to leeward the extreme rear (C). The result was, to use Hughes's own words, that " the enemy brought eight of their best ships to the attack of five of ours."


It will be noted with interest that these were exactly the numbers engaged in the first act of the battle of the Nile. The Exeter (like the Guerrier at the Nile) received the fresh broadsides of the first five of the enemy, and then remained in close action on both sides, assailed by two, and at last by three, opponents, two fifties, and one sixty-four. When the third approached, the master of the ship asked Commodore Richard King, whose broad pennant flew at her masthead, " What is to be done ? " "There is nothing to be done," replied King, "but to fight her till she sinks." Her loss, 10 killed and 45 wounded, was not creditable under the circumstances to the French gunnery, which had been poor also at Porto Praya.


At 6 P.M. the wind shifted to south-east, throwing all on the other tack, and enabling the British van to come into action. Darkness now approaching, Suffren hauled off and anchored at Pondicherry. Hughes went on to Trincomale to refit. The British loss had been 32 killed, among whom were Captain William Stevens of the flagship, and Captain Henry Reynolds, of the Exeter, and 83 wounded. The French had 30 killed; the number of their wounded is put by Professor Laughton at 100.




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