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 Hughes (1720-1794)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Eagle (64) Ambrose Reddall (c.1741-1791)
Monmouth (64) James Alms (1728-1791)
Worcester (64) George Talbot (c.1730-1787)
Burford (68) Peter Rainier (1741-1808)
Superb (74) William Stevens (c.1736-1782)Fleet Flagship CO Killed
Hero (74) Charles Wood (c.1732-1782)
Isis (50) The Hon. Thomas Lumley (d.1782)
Monarca (68) John Gell (d.1806)
Exeter (64) Henry Reynolds (d.1782)Squadron Flagship 10 killed, 45 wounded CO Killed
Not in the Line
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Seahorse (24) Robert Montagu
Manilla (10) William Robinson

Royaume de France

French Battle Line, Chevalier Pierre-Andre de Suffren (1726-1788)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Sévère (64) de Cillart (Chevalier de Cillart)
La Pourvoyeuse (38)  
Le Vengeur (64)  
La Fine (32) Chevalier Eléonor Jacques Marie Stanislas Périer de Salvert (1748-1783)
Le Brillant (64) Armand Philippe Germain de Cajarc de Saint-Félix (Marquis de Maurémont) (1737-1819)
La Bellone (32) de Piervert (d.1782)
Le Flamand (56) Louis Hyacinthe Cavelier de Cuverville (1740-1819)
L'Annibal (74) Bernard Boudin de Tromelin (Seigneur de Tromelin) (1735-1815)
La Sylphide (12)  
Le Héros (74)  Squadron Flagship
L'Orient (74)  
L'Artesien (64) Chevalier François-Joseph-Hippolyte Bidé de Maurville (1743-?)
Le Sphinx (64) Charles Louis du Chilleau (Vicomte du Chilleau) (1738-1825)
Ajax (64) René Joseph Bouvet de Précourt (1715-1782)
Le Petit Hannibal (50)  
Le Bizarre (64)  

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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