2nd Battle of Negapatam

6th July 1782
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Crocodile vs Prince de Robecq 25th April 1782
Next action : Santa Margarita vs Amazone 29th July 1782


Royaume de France

French Battle Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Héros (74) 74 Fleet Flagship
L'Annibal (74) 74 
L'Orient (80) 74 
Sévère (64) 64 
Le Brillant (64) 64 47 killed, 136 wounded
Vengeur (64) 64 
L'Artesien (64) 64 
Le Sphinx (64) 64 
Le Bizarre (64) 64 
Le Flamand (56) 56 
Petit Hannibal (50) 50 
Not in the Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
La Pourvoyeuse (38) 38 
Fine (32) 32 
La Bellone (32) 32de Piervert

Great Britain

British Battle Line, Edward Hughes
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Eagle (64) 64Ambrose Reddall
Burford (68) 68Peter Rainier
Monmouth (64) 64James Alms
Worcester (64) 64George Talbot, Charles Wood
Superb (74) 74Dunbar MaclellanFleet Flagship CO Killed
Hero (74) 74Charles WoodSquadron Flagship
Isis (50) 50Thomas Lumley, Thomas Lumley
Monarca (68) 68John Gell
Exeter (64) 64Robert Montagu
Sultan (74) 74 
Magnanime (64) 64Charles Wolseley
Not in the Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Seahorse (24) 24Robert Montagu
Combustion (8) 8Henry Newcome

Notes on Action

Description of the ActionTRN4

The action, known as that of Negapatam, began shortly before 11, when both fleets were on the starboard tack, heading south-south-east, wind south-west. The British being to windward, Hughes ordered his fleet to bear up together to the attack, exactly as Suffren had done on the 12th of April. As commonly happened, the rear got less close than the van (Position I.). The fourth ship in the French order (a), losing her mainmast early, dropped to leeward of the line {a'), and astern of her place (a")- At half -past noon the wind flew suddenly to south-south-east, the sea-breeze, taking the ships a little on the port bow. Most of them, on both sides, paid off from the enemy, the British to starboard, the French to port; but between the main lines, which were in the momentary confusion consequent upon such an incident, were left six ships four British and two French that had turned the other way (Position II.). These were the Burford, Sultan (s), Worcester, and Eagle, fourth, fifth, eighth, and tenth, in the British order; and the Severe (b). third in the French, with the dismasted Brillant, towards the rear of the fight (a). Under these conditions, the Severe, 64, underwent a short but close action with the Sultan, 74; and with two other British ships, according to the report of the Severe's captain. The remainder of the incident shall be given in the latter's own words.

"Seeing the French squadron drawing off, for all the ships except the Brillant had fallen off on the other tack, Captain de Cillart thought it useless to prolong his defence, and had the flag hauled down. The ships engaged with him immediately ceased their fire, and the one on the starboard side moved away. At this moment the Severe fell off to starboard, and her sails filled. Captain de Cillart then ordered the fire to be resumed by his lower-deck guns, the only ones which remained manned, and he rejoined his squadron" (Position III.).

When the Severe's flag came down, Suffren was approaching with his flagship. The Sultan wore to rejoin her fleet, and was raked by the Severe in so doing (Position III.). The Brillant, whose mainmast had been shot away in conflict with either the Sultan or the Burford, both much heavier ships, had at this later phase of the fight fallen under the guns of the Worcester and the Eagle. Her captain, de Saint-Felix, was one of the most resolute of Suffren's officers. She was rescued by the flagship, but she had lost 47 killed and 136 wounded, an almost incredible slaughter, being over a third of the usual complement of a sixty-four; and Suffren's ships were under-manned.

These spirited episodes, and the fact that his four separated ships were approaching the enemy, and being approached by them, caused Hughes to give the orders to wear, and for a general chase; the flag for the line being hauled down. Two of his fleet, however, made signals of disability; so he annulled the orders, and at 1.30 formed on the port tack, recalling the engaged vessels. Both squadrons now stood in shore, and anchored at about 6 P.M.; the British near Negapatam, the French some ten miles north. The loss in the action had been: British, 77 killed, 233 wounded; French, 178 killed, 601 wounded. Among the slain was Captain the Hon. Dunbar Maclellan of Hughes 's flagship.


TRN4 The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol IVWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book

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