Boston vs Embuscade

31st July 1793
Part of : The French Revolutionary Wars (1793 - 1802)
Previous action : Nymphe vs Cleopatre 17.6.1793
Next action : Siege of Toulon 29.8.1793 - 19.12.1793


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Boston (28) George William Augustus Courtenay (d.1793)10 killed, 24 wounded CO Killed

République Française

Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Embuscade (32) Jean Baptiste François Bompard (1757-1841)50 killed and wounded

Notes on Action

In July, Captain George William Augustus Courtenay of the British frigate Boston, 32, cruising off New York, sent in a challenge to Captain Jean Baptiste Francois Bompard of the French frigate Embuscade, 34, having first captured by an adroit stratagem the Embuscade' s first lieutenant with a boat's crew. Courtenay offered to wait for three days off Sandy Hook, and had a written copy of the challenge posted up in one of the New York coffee-rooms. On July 30th, a considerable French fleet passed, but the Boston kept her station, and in the night of the 31st saw a large ship standing towards her. The Embuscade had come out to fight. Both ships hoisted their colours at about dawn, and, soon after five, closed and began action the Boston with her larboard and the Embuscade with her starboard broadside. Their evolutions were watched by a great crowd on the New Jersey beach, twelve miles away. In less than an hour the Boston's rigging was so injured that she lost command of her sails, and a little later her maintopmast went overboard. By 6.20 Captain Courtenay and the Lieutenant of Marines were killed; the two Lieutenants borne on the ship's books were both severely wounded; and the mizenmast was tottering. The crew fell into confusion, but the wounded first Lieutenant, John Edwards, took command and fought the ship. With difficulty the Boston avoided an attempt of the Embuscade to rake her. Her condition was desperate, as the wreck of the maintopmast hampered the service of her guns, and all her chief officers were killed and wounded. She turned and fled before the wind, followed for some distance by the Embuscade, which had, however, been too much injured in masts, sails, and rigging to overtake her. After an hour's chase, the Frenchman put about and returned to New York. The Boston was much the weaker and smaller ship; and at that time indiscipline had not destroyed the moral of the French navy. On her return to New York the Embuscade had to remove her masts. Captain Bompard was presented with a gold medal, and Captain Courtenay's widow and children were pensioned by the King. Brenton accuses Lieutenant Edwards of cowardice, but, it would appear, on quite insufficient evidence.

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