Battle of Fort Royal

29th April 1781 - 30th April 1781
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Battle of Porto Praya 16.4.1781
Next action : Santa Leocadia vs Canada 2.5.1781

 

Great Britain

 
British squadron, Sir Samuel Hood (1st Baronet Hood) (1724-1816)

This fleet was doing the Fort Royal port blockade.

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Barfleur (98) John Knight (1747-1831)Fleet Flagship Rear-Admiral Samuel Hood
Gibraltar (80) Charles KnatchbullSquadron Flagship Rear-Admiral Francis Samuel Drake
Torbay (74) John Lewis Gidoin (d.1796)
Alfred (74) William Bayne (1730-1782)
Alcide (74) Charles Thompson (1740-1799)
Invincible (74) Richard Hussey Bickerton (1759-1832)
Monarch (74) Lord Francis Reynolds (1739-1808)
Terrible (74) James Ferguson (1723-1793)
Ajax (74) John Symons (d.1799)
Resolution (74) Lord Robert Manners (1758-1782)
Montagu (74) George Bowen
Centaur (74) John Neale Pleydell Nott (d.1781)
Shrewsbury (74) Mark Robinson (1722-1799)
Princessa (70) Sir Thomas Rich (5th Baronet Rich) (1733-1803)
Intrepid (64) Henry Harvey (1737-1810), Anthony James Pye Molloy (d.1815)
Belliqueux (64) Thomas Fitzherbert (1727-1794), James Brine (d.1814)
Prince William (64) Stair Douglas (d.1789)
Lizard (28) Edmund Dodd (1734-1815)
 

Royaume de France

 
Escadre française, Chevalier François-Joseph Paul de Grasse (Comte de Grasse) (1722-1788)

20 ships of the line

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ville de Paris (104) Saint Cézaire (d.1782), VelleonFleet Flagship
L'Auguste (84) Pierre Joseph CastellanSquadron Flagship
Le Saint Esprit (80) Joseph Bernard Chabert
Le Languedoc (90) Hervé Louis Joseph Marie Duplessis-Parscau (Comte Duplessis-Parscau), Argelos
Pluton (74) François Hector d'Albert (Chevalier ) (1728-1802)
Sceptre (74) Chevalier Louis-Philippe de Rigaud (Comte de Vaudreuil) (1724-1802)
Le César (74) Jean Charles Régis Coriolis d'Espinouse
Le Souverain (74) Lord Jean-Baptiste de Glandevès du Castellet (Baron de Glandevès) (1728-1803)
Le Northumberland (74) de Briqueville (Marquis )
Le Diadème (74) Louis Augustin Montecerc
Magnanime (74) Le Bègue (Comte )
Le Zélé (74) Balthazar Gras-Préville
Marseillais (74) Henri-César Masjastre (Marquis de Castellane Masjastre)
Bourgogne (74) Charles Charitte (Comte de Charitte)
Scipion (74) Pierre Antoine de Clavel (Comte )
Le Hector (74) Laurent-Emanuel Renaud d'Aleins
Hercule (74) Jean Baptiste Turpin du Breuil
Le Glorieux (74) d'Escards (Vicomte )
Le Citoyen (74) Alexandre de Thy (Comte d'Ethy) (1729-1789)
Vaillant (64) Charles-René Bernard de Marigny (Chevalier )
La Médée (32) de Girardin (Chevalier )
L'Aigrette (30) de Traversay
Diligente (26) de Mortemart (Vicomte )
Alerte (18) de Chabons
Le Pandour (14) de Grasse-Limermont
 
Blockaded ships

4 ships of the line

Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Victoire (74) Joseph François Auguste Jules d'Albert de Saint-Hippolyte (1726-1799)Squadron Flagship
Caton (64) de Framond (Comte )
Refléchi (64) Jean François Emmanuel Brune de Boades (d.1781)
La Solitaire (64) Cicé-Champion (Comte de Cicé-Champion)
 
Supply Convoy

120 ships carrying 3200 troops to West Indies under Marquis de Bouillé command

Ship NameCommanderNotes
 

Notes on Action


PreludeEWIKI

In March 1781, a large French fleet under the command of Comte de Grasse left the port of Brest. Most of this fleet was destined for the West Indies; of the 26 ships of the line, one was sent to North America, and five, under the command of the Bailli de Suffren, were destined for India. The remaining twenty arrived off Martinique on April 28. Before passing to the lee (western) side of the island, de Grasse anchored the fleet and sent someone ashore for news. He learned that a British fleet of 17 ships of the line under Samuel Hood was blockading Fort Royal, preventing the four French ships in anchored there from leaving.


Hood was under orders from the fleet's station commander, Admiral George Brydges Rodney, to maintain the blockade of the port on the lee side, in spite of his protestations that this would put him at a disadvantage in any action involving an arriving fleet. While he was disadvantaged by the position and his inferior strength, all of his ships had coppered bottoms (improving their performance), and he was not burdened with the responsibility of escorting a convoy.


Description of the actionEWIKI
De Grasse ordered is fleet to prepare for action on the morning of April 29, and sailed for Fort Royal with the convoy ships hugging the coast, and the armed ships in battle line. Hood's fleet was spotted around 8 am, slowly bearing toward them, but de Grasse held the weather gage. At about 9:20, Hood was joined by the Prince William, a 64-gun ship that had been at St. Lucia. The two fleets then continued to maneuver for advantage, but Hood's leeward position meant he was unable prevent de Grasse from bringing the convoy to harbor, and the junction of de Grasse's fleet with the four blockaded ships. Around 11 de Grasse's van began firing at long range, with no effect. By 12:30 the fleets were aligned, but de Grasse refused to take advantage of the weather gage to close with Hood, in spite of Hood's efforts to bring the French to him. The fleets then exchanged cannonades and broadsides for the next hour, but at the long range, the damage incurred was modest. The four British ships on the southern end of the line suffered the most damage, since they were targeted by eight French ships. Hood finally drew away toward St. Lucia.
AftermathEWIKI

Hood dispatched the Russell, which had been holed below the waterline to St. Eustatius for repairs, and to bring news of the action to Admiral Rodney. Hood spent the next day in fruitless attempts to gain the windward, and eventually made sail to the north. He met Rodney on May 11 between St. Kitts and Antigua, the latter having left St. Eustatius on May 5.

Reports of French casualties vary considerably, from as few as 74 killed and wounded to more than 250.



Sources


IDDescriptionAuthorType
EWIKIWikipediaVariousWeb Site

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