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Battle of Providien

12th April 1782
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Action off Dominique 9.4.1782
Next action : Battle of the Mona Passage 19.4.1782

 

Great Britain

 
British Battle Line,
Edward HughesBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1735-1793
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Exeter (64) 1763-1784
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Charles HughesBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1777-1804
Squadron Flagship
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
Burford (68) 1757-1785
British 68 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Peter RainierBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1768-1805
Monarca (68) 1780-1791
British 68 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
John GellBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1760-1805
Superb (74) 1760-1783
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Dunbar MaclellanBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1776-1779
Fleet Flagship 59 killed, 96 wounded
Monmouth (64) 1772-1818
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1796 Renamed "Captivity"
James AlmsBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1739-1784
45 killed, 102 wounded
Worcester (64) 1769-1816
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1788 Renamed "Worcester Hulk"
George TalbotBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1744-1782
Eagle (64) 1774-1812
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1800 Renamed "Buckingham"
Ambrose ReddallBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1754-1783
Sultan (74) 1775-1816
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
1805 Renamed "Suffolk"
James WattBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1755-1782
Magnanime (64) 1780-1794
British 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Charles WolseleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1759-1805
 
Not in line
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Seahorse (24) 1748-1784
British 24 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
Robert MontaguBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1779-1825
Combustion (8) 1781-1784
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Henry NewcomeBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1782-1797
 

Royaume de France

 
French Battle Line,
Chevalier Pierre-Andre de SuffrenFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1743-1780
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Vengeur (64) 1765-1785
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
L'Artesien (64) 1765-1786
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Le Petit Hannibal (50) 1782-1792
French 50 Gun
4th 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
22 killed, 74 wounded
Le Héros (74) 1778-1793
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 Fleet Flagship
L'Orient (74) 1759-1782
French 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
Le Brillant (64) 1774-1797
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
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
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
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 Flamand (56) 1765-1786
French 56 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Louis Hyacinthe Cavelier de CuvervilleFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1755-1814
Le Bizarre (64) 1751-1782
French 64 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
 
Not in line
Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Pourvoyeuse (38) 1772-1786
French 38 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
 
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
La Bellone (32) 1778-1798
French 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
de PiervertFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1682-1782
 

Notes on Action


Description of the actionTRN3


Next morning, April 12th, finding that the enemy could overtake his rear ships, he formed line on the starboard tack at two cables' intervals, heading to the westward, towards the coast of Ceylon, wind north by east, and the French dead to windward (A, A). Suffren drew up his line on the same tack, parallel to the British (a), and at 11 A.M. gave the signal to steer west-south- west all together; his vessels going down in a slanting direction, each steering for one of the enemy. Having twelve ships to eleven, the twelfth was ordered to place herself on the off side of the rear British, which would thus have two antagonists.



In such simultaneous approach it commonly occurred that the attacking line ceased to be parallel with the foe's, its van becoming nearer and rear more distant. So it was here. Further, the British opening fire as soon as the leading French were within range, the latter at once hauled up to reply. Suffren, in the centre, wishing closest action, signalled them to keep away again, and himself bore down wrathfully upon Hughes to within pistol-shot; in which he was supported closely by his next ahead and the two next astern. The rear of the French, though engaged, remained too far distant



Their line, therefore, resembled a curve, the middle of which four or five ships was tangent to the British centre (B). At this point the heat of the attack fell upon Hughes's flagship, the Superb, 74 (C, d), and her next ahead, the Monmouth, 64 (c). Suffren's ship, the Heros, having much of her rigging cut, could not shorten sail, shot by the Superb, and brought up abreast the Monmouth. The latter, already hotly engaged by one of her own class, and losing her main and rnizzen masts in this unequal new contest, was forced at 3 P.M. to bear up out of the line. The place of the Heros alongside the Superb was taken by the Orient, 74, supported by the Brillant, 64; and when the Monmouth kept off, the attack of these two ships was reinforced by the half-dozen stern chasers of the Heros, which had drifted into the British line, and now fired into the Superb's bows. The conflict between these five ships, two British and three French, was one of the bloodiest in naval annals; the loss of the Superb, 59 killed and 9ti wounded, and of the Monmouth, 45 killed and 102 wounded, equalling that of the much larger vessels that bore the flags of Nelson and Collingwood at Trafalgar. The loss of the three French was 52 killed and 142 wounded; but to this should be added properly that of the Sphinx, 64, the Monmouth' 's first adversary: 22 killed and 74 wounded. At 3.40 P.M., fearing that if he continued steering west he would get entangled with the shore, Hughes wore his ships, forming line on the port tack. The French also wore, and Suffren hoped to secure the Monmouth, which was left between the two lines; but the quickness of a British captain, Hawker, of the Hero, ran a tow-rope to her in time, and she was thus dragged out of danger. At 5.40 Hughes anchored, and Suffren did the same at 8 p. M. The total British loss in men on this occasion was 137 killed and 430 wounded; that of the French 137 killed and 357 wounded.




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