First Battle of Groix

Cornwallis's Retreat

16th June 1795 - 17th June 1795
Part of : The French Revolutionary Wars (1793 - 1802)
Previous action : Alarm vs Liberte 30th May 1795
Next action : Action of Ile Groix 23rd June 1795


Great Britain

English Ships, The Hon. William Cornwallis
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Royal Sovereign (100) 100John WhitbyFleet Flagship
Mars (74) 74Sir Charles Cotton (5th Baronet )
Bellerophon (74) 74James Cranstoun
Triumph (74) 74Sir Erasmus Gower
Brunswick (74) 74William Browell
Phaeton (38) 38Robert Stopford
Pallas (32) 32Henry Curzon
Kingfisher (18) 18Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin

République française

French Fleet, Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Océan (118) 122Jacques AngotFleet Flagship
Redoutable (74) 74 Squadron Flagship
Mucius (74) 74 Lareguy
Le Jean Bart (74) 74 Legouardun
L'Alexandre (74) 74François Charles Guillemet
Les Droits de l'Homme (74) 74 Sébire-Beauchêne
Formidable (74) 74 Charles Alexandre Léon Durand de Linois (Comte de Linois)
Le Fougueux (74) 74 Giot-Labrier
Le Nestor (74) 74Jean Gaspard Vence
Le Tigre (74) 74Jacques Bedout
Le Wattignies (74) 74 Donat
Le Zélé (74) 74Aved Magnac
Brave (74) 74 
Scévola (54) 54 
Cocarde Nationale (40) 40 
La Proserpine (38) 38 
Régénéré (38) 38 
Fidèle (32) 32 
L'Insurgente (32) 32 
La Néréide (32) 32 

Notes on Action

Naval General Service MedalBG
A Naval General Service Medal Clasp was authorised for this action in 1847


BG The London GazetteOfficialWeb Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Brian on Thursday 28th of January 2016 22:04

Extract of a Letter from Vice-Admiral Cornwallis to Evan Nepean, Esq, Secretary to the Admiralty. Royal Sovereign, at Sea, June 19, 1795. I Have the Honor of acquainting you, for the Information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that on the 16th in the morning in with the land near Penmarks, I sent the Phaeton ahead to look out for any of the enemy's ships upon the coast. I stood after her with the rest of the ships. At ten she made a signal for seeing a fleet ahead and afterward and that they were of superior force. Upon her bringing to, I made the signal to haul to the wind upon the starboard tack. At this time I could not see the hulls of the strange sails. Thirty were counted and some of them had all their sail out upon a wind, being directly to Leeward of us. I stood upon the starboard tack with all our sail, keeping the ships collected. Upon inquiring by signal the enemy's force, Capt. Stopford answered, thirteen line of battle ships, fourteen frigates, two brigs. and a cutter; in all thirty sail. Near half of them tacked inshore in the afternoon; the wind fell very much and came round to the northward, off the land, and of course brought those ships of the enemy (which had tacked) to windward, and the others laid up for us. They were seen in the morning before it was daylight upon both quarters of the squadron.
At nine in the morning one of the front line of Battle Ships began to fire upon the Mars. Their frigates were ranged up abreast of us to windward, except one, which kept to leeward, and ran up upon the larboard quarters of the Mars, then yawed and fired, which was frequently repeated. This was the only frigate that attempted anything. The line of battle ships came up in succession, and a teasing fire, with intervals, was kept up during the whole day. In the evening they made a show of a more serious attack on the Mars, (which had gotten a little to leeward) and obliged me to bear up for her support. This was their last effort, if anything they did can deserved that appellation. Several shots were fired for two hours after, but they appeared to be drawing off, and before sunset their whole fleet had tacked and were standing from us. The Mars and Triumph being the sternmost ships were of course more exposed to the enemy's fire; and I cannot too much command the spirited conduct of Sir Charles Cotton and Sir Erasmus Gower, the Captains of those ships. Lord Charles Fitzgerald also in the Brunswick kept up a heavy good fire from the after guns, but that ship was the whole time obliged to carry every sail. The Bellerophon being nearly under the same circumstances. I was glad to keep in some measure as a reserve having reason at first to suppose there would be full occasion for the utmost exertion of us all, and being a rather ahead of me was not able to fire much, I considered that ship as a treasure in store, having heard of her former achievements and observing the spirit manifested by all on board when she passed me, joined to the activity and zeal shown by Lord Cranstoun during the whole cruise.
Little damage had been received by the ships in general, except the sterns having been very much shook by firing the guns. The Mars reports twelve men wounded, but none killed; the main mast, fore and fore-top=-sail wounded, and her rigging and sails cut a good deal. The Triumph has shifted and repaired some of her sails, but any damage she has received is so trifling, at least in the Captain's eye, that Sir Erasmus Gower had not thought it worth reporting; indeed the cool and firm conduct of that ship was such, that it appeared to me the enemy's ships dared not to come near her.

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