Battle of Tory Island

12th October 1798
Part of : The French Revolutionary Wars (1793 - 1802)
Previous action : Généreux vs Leander 18.8.1798
Next action : Capture of the Loire 16.10.1798 - 18.10.1798

 

Great Britain

 
British Squadron, John Borlase Warren (1st Baronet of Little Marlow) (1753-1822)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Robust (74) Edward Thornbrough (1754-1834)10 Killed, 40 Wounded
Magnanime (44) The Hon. Michael de Courcy (d.1824)1 Wounded
Foudroyant (80) Sir Thomas Byard (d.1798)9 Wounded
Amelia (38) The Hon. Charles Herbert (1774-1808)No Casulaties
Ethalion (38) George Countess (1743-1811)1 Killed, 4 Wounded
Melampus (36) Graham Moore (1764-1843)1 Wounded
Canada (76) John Borlase Warren (1st Baronet of Little Marlow) (1753-1822)Fleet Flagship 1 Wounded (mortally)
 
Present but not engaged
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Anson (38) Philip Charles Calderwood Henderson Durham (1763-1845)
 

République française

 
French squadron, Jean Baptiste François Bompard (1757-1841)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Coquille (40)  
La Semillante (32)  
La Romaine (40)  
La Bellone (32)  35 killed and wounded or 20 killed and 45 wounded Captured
L'Immortalité (40)  
Loire (44)  
Hoche (74)  Fleet Flagship 270 killed and wounded Captured
L'Embuscade (32)  15 killed, 26 wounded Captured
 
Present but not engaged
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Résolue (32)  
Biche (8)  
 

Notes on Action


Description of the actionTRN2

Soon after 5.30 A.M. on the 12th, when the two squadrons were again able to see one another, the following were, according to James, their relative positions:



"The French squadron, loosely formed in two rather distant lines, with the Hoche, who had bent herself a new mainsail, in the centre of the second line, was standing to the south-west, the wind, as before, from the north-north-west, but now very moderate. Right astern, at the distance of about four miles, were the Robust and Magnanime; about a point on the lee quarter, at a somewhat greater distance, the Amelia; a little further forward in that direction, and at about the same distance, the Melampus; a little before the lee beam, at the distance of seven or eight miles, the Foudroyant; and on the lee bow, about a mile nearer, the Canada. The Anson, at this time, was not in sight of either squadron. Consequently, M. Bompart, in his crippled state, the wind being in the north-west, found every avenue of escape shut against him, except the south-west, the direction in which he was steering."



By 7 A.M., M. Bompart had formed his ships in a single straggling line ahead, the order being: Semillante, Bomaine, Bellone, Immortalite, Loire, Hoche, Coquille, Embuscade. The Resolue had previously gone in shore as a precautionary measure, on account of her leakiness; and the Biche had been sent after her with orders. Warren was thus in every way superior to his enemy, and could have easily afforded to keep flying the signal for a general chase; but, instead, he formed line of battle, directing the Robust to lead, "and the rest of the ships to form in succession in the rear of the van." This order brought the Robust, which was followed by the Magnanime, within long-range stern fire of the Embuscade and Coquille at about 7.10 A.M. About fifteen minutes later, the Robust, having returned the fire of the two Frenchmen, hauled up her mainsail, and, taking in her spanker, bore down to leeward of them. By 8.50 A.M., she closed in this manner with the Hoche, and began a hot action with her, broadside to broadside, checking her way to keep alongside of the enemy. The Magnanime engaged the Embuscade and Coquille, and, passing on to leeward of the Robust, had to starboard her helm to clear the latter. The Loire, Immortalite, and Bellone bore out of line to rake her as she did so; but they were soon driven to resume their south-west course, the Foudroyant, Amelia, and Ethalion then coming up. These ships, as well as the Melampus 2 and Canada, all helped more or less to distress the Hoche, which at 10.50 A.M., after a brilliant defence, struck. The Embuscade, badly treated first by the Magnanime and afterwards by the Foudroyant, surrendered at 11.30 to the Magnanime, which, having herself suffered severely, remained by her prize. The other British ships, with the exception of the Robust, which was disabled, and the Anson, which was still struggling up from the south-east, chased vigorously; the results being that the Coquille struck in about an hour and a half, and that the Bellone, after having made a desperate resistance to the Foudroyant and Melampus in succession, hauled down to the Ethalion, but not until she had fought her for very nearly two hours. The other French vessels escaped for the moment, and, as they got away, engaged the Anson, and inflicted considerable damage upon her.



The British losses were as follows: Canada, 1 wounded (mortally); Foudroyant, 9 wounded; Robust, 10 killed, 40 wounded; Magnanime, 1 wounded; Anson, 2 killed, 13 wounded; Ethalion, 1 killed, 4 wounded; and Melampus, 1 wounded; total, 13 killed, and 75 wounded. No one in the Amelia was hurt, and the only British officers injured were Lieutenant David Colby, and Lieutenant of Marines William Cottle, both of the Robust. This was, all things considered, a very slight loss; for the French had fought well. Of the prizes, the Hoche had 270 killed and wounded; the Embuscade, 15 killed and 26 wounded; the Coquille, 18 killed and 31 wounded; and the Bellone, 35 killed and wounded. The Hoche (renamed Donegal), Bellone (renamed Proserpine), and Embuscade, were added to the Royal Navy. The Coquille probably would have been, had she not been accidentally burnt at Plymouth on December 14th, 1798.



Sources


IDDescriptionAuthorType
TRN2The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present Vol IIWilliam Laid ClowesDigital Book

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