Action off Cape Ortegal

5th July 1780
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Action off Monti Christi 20.6.1780
Next action : Flora vs Nymphe 10.8.1780


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Prudente (38) William Waldegrave (1753-1825) 17 killed, 31 wounded
Licorne (32) Thomas Cadogan (d.1782) 3 killed, 7 wounded

Royaume de France

Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Capricieuse (32)   Captured 130 killed and wounded

Notes on Action


On July 5th, the British frigates Prudente, 36, Captain the Hon. William Waldegrave, and Licorne, 32, Captain the Hon. Thomas Cadogan, captured off Cape Ortegal the Capricieuse, 32, a French frigate commanded by Captain Le Breton de Eanzanne. The Prudente saw and gave chase to the Frenchman at 10 A.M. of the 4th; at midnight she was able to bring her enemy to close action, and attacked the Capricieuse yardarm to yardarm, inflicting heavy loss upon her. The action had lasted an hour before the Licorne could come up. She then stood across the Capricieuse' 's quarter. The French ship, nevertheless, prolonged her determined resistance to overpowering odds till 4.30 A.M., when she struck, with five feet of water in her hold. The Capricieuse was a new frigate of 1100 tons, pierced for forty-four guns and mounting thirty-two, and was reduced to such a terrible condition by the British fire that no attempt was made to bring her into port. She was destroyed and her crew transferred to the British vessels. The loss of life on board her during the action was very heavy. Her captain and first lieutenant were killed, and all but two of the officers were wounded. Her crew displayed the greatest intrepidity in offering so stubborn a resistance to so superior a force.

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