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 30.5.1795
Next action : Action of Ile Groix 23.6.1795


Great Britain

English Ships, The Hon. William Cornwallis (1744-1819)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Royal Sovereign (100) Henry Nicholls, John Whitby (d.1806)Fleet Flagship
Mars (74) Sir Charles Cotton (5th Baronet) (1753-1812)
Bellerophon (74) James Cranstoun (d.1797)
Triumph (74) Sir Erasmus Gower (1742-1814)
Brunswick (74) Charles Fitzgerald (1756-1810), William Browell (d.1831)
Phaeton (38) Robert Stopford (1768-1847)
Pallas (32) The Hon. Henry Curzon (1765-1846)
Kingfisher (18) Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin (1765-1857)

République Française

French Fleet, Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse (1748-1812)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Océan (122) Jacques AngotFleet Flagship
Redoutable (74)  Squadron Flagship
Mucius (74) Lareguy
Le Jean Bart (74) Legouardun
L'Alexandre (74) François Charles Guillemet (1749/50-1820)
Les Droits de l'Homme (74) Sébire-Beauchêne
Formidable (74) Charles Alexandre Léon Durand de Linois (Comte de Linois) (1761-1848)
Le Fougueux (74) Giot-Labrier
Le Nestor (74) Jean Gaspard Vence (1747-1808)
Le Tigre (74) Jacques Bedout (1750/51-1818)
Le Wattignies (74) Donat, Antoine René Thévenard (1766-1798)
Le Zélé (74) Aved Magnac
Le Brave (74)  
La Scévola (54)  
La Cocarde Nationale (40) Pierre Maurice Julien de Quérangal (1758-1840)
La Régénéré (40)  
La Proserpine (38) François Henri Eugène Augier (1764-1834)
La Fidèle (32)  
L'Insurgente (32)  
La Néréide (32)  

Notes on Action

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


BGThe London GazetteOfficial, Web 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.

Make a comment about this page

Recent comments to other pages

Date postedByPage
Monday 12th of April 2021 11:28peter moodyBritish Merchant east indiaman 'Duke of Richmond' (1759)
Monday 12th of April 2021 08:38guy sandersFrench Fourth Rate ship of the line 'Le Diamant' (1733) (50)
Saturday 10th of April 2021 07:37cyBritish Fourth Rate ship of the line 'Deptford' (1732) (60)
Saturday 10th of April 2021 05:08Albert ParkerBritish Fourth Rate ship of the line 'Deptford' (1732) (60)
Thursday 8th of April 2021 15:33Dr. Tony Barrow Granville Thompson (d.1818)