Battle of St. Lucia

14th December 1778 - 15th December 1778
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Action of 1778-10-20 20.10.1778
Next action : Apollo vs Oiseau 31.1.1779


Royaume de France

French squadron, Jean Baptiste Charles Henri d'Hector, comte d'Estaing (1729-1794)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Languedoc (90)  Fleet Flagship
Le Tonnant (80) Chevalier Jacques-Melchior de Barras de Saint-Laurent (1st Comte Barras de Saint-Laurent) (1720-1792)
Le César (74)  
Le Zélé (74) Chevalier Jacques-Melchior de Barras de Saint-Laurent (1st Comte Barras de Saint-Laurent) (1720-1792)
L'Hector (74)  
Le Guerrier (74) Louis Antoine Bougainville (Comte de Bougainville) (1729-1811)
Le Marseillais (74)  
Le Protecteur (74)  
Le Vaillant (64) Joseph Bernard de Chabert-Cogolin (Marquis de Chabert et Cogolin) (1724-1805)
Le Provence (64)  
Le Fantasque (64) Chevalier Pierre-Andre de Suffren (1726-1788)
Le Sagittaire (50) François Hector d'Albert (Chevalier ) (1728-1802)
L'Engageante (32)  
L'Alcmene (32)  
L'Aimable (32)  
La Chimère (30)  

Great Britain

British squadron, The Hon. Samuel Barrington (1729-1800)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Prince of Wales (74) Benjamin Hill (c.1736-1785)Fleet Flagship
Boyne (68) Herbert Sawyer (c.1731-1798)
Saint Albans (64) Richard Onslow (1741-1817)
Nonsuch (64) Samuel Reeve (c.1732-1803)
Preston (50) Samuel Uppleby (c.1733-1780)
Isis (50) John Raynor (c.1730-1784)
Centurion (50) Richard Brathwaite (c.1728-1805)
Venus (36) James Ferguson (1723-1793)
Aurora (28) James Cumming (1738-1808)
Ariadne (20) Thomas Pringle (d.1803)
Carcass (14) Edward Edwards (c.1728-1815)

Notes on Action

Description of the actionTRN3

The night was passed by the soldiers in strengthening their positions, and by the Rear-Admiral in rectifying his order to meet the expected attack. The transports, between fifty and sixty in number, were warped inside the ships of war, and the latter were most carefully disposed across the mouth of the bay. At the northern (windward) end was placed the Isis, 50, Captain John Rayner, well under the point to prevent anything from passing round her; but for further security she was supported by three frigates; the Venus, 36, Captain William Peere Williams, the Ariadne, 20, Captain Thomas Pringle, and the Aurora, 28, Captain James Gumming, anchored abreast of the interval between her and the shore. From the Isis the line extended to the southward, inclining slightly outward; the Prince of Wales, 74, Barrington's flagship, taking the southern flank, as the most exposed position. Between her and the Isis were five other ships, the Boyne, 70, Nonsuch, 64, St. Allans, 64, Preston, 50, and Centurion, 50. The works left by the French at the north and south points of the bay may have been used to support the flanks, but Barrington in his report does not say so.

D'Estaing had twelve ships of the line, and was able to land, two days after this, 7,000 troops. With such a superiority it is evident that, had he arrived twenty-four hours sooner, the British would have been stopped in the midst of their operation. To gain time, Harrington had sought to prevent intelligence reaching Fort Royal, less than fifty miles distant, by sending cruisers in advance of his squadron, to cover the approaches to St. Lucia; but, despite his care, d'Estaing had the news on the 14th. He sailed at once, and, as has been said, was off St. Lucia that evening. At daybreak of the 10th he stood in for the Cardnage; but when he came within range, a lively cannonade told him that the enemy were already in possession. He decided therefore to attack the squadron, and at 11.30 the French passed along it from north to south, firing, but without effect. A second attempt was made in the afternoon, directed upon the lee flank, but it was equally unavailing. The British had three men killed; the French loss is not given, but is said to have been slight. It is stated that the sea breeze did not penetrate far enough into the bay, that day, to admit closing.

Previous comments on this page

Posted by nolan flavien on Tuesday 12th of November 2013 21:09

i love st lucia

Posted by Douglas Raynor on Monday 21st of October 2013 00:13

Raynor not Rayner please

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