Action of 1781-07-21

21st July 1781
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Action of 1781-06-19 19.6.1781
Next action : Action of 1781-07-31 31.7.1781


Great Britain

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Charlestown (28) Henry Francis Evans (c.1741/42-1781) CO Killed 8 killed, 29 wounded
Allegiance (16) David Phipps (d.1811) 1 killed, 5 wounded
Jack (14)  Unknown Captured
Vulture (14) Rupert George 1 killed, 2 wounded
Vernon (14)   7 killed, 6 wounded

Allied (Royaume de France & Malta)

Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Astrée (32)   6 killed, 15 wounded
L'Hermione (32) Chevalier Louis René Levassor de La Touche (1745-1804) 6 killed, 15 wounded

Notes on Action

On July 21st, the two French frigates Astree, 32, Captain de La Perouse, and Hermione, 32, Captain de La Touche-Treville, whilst cruising off Cape Breton Island, perceived several sail approaching. They were a number of British merchant vessels escorted by the Charleston, 28, Captain Henry Francis Evans; Allegiance, 14, Commander David Phips; Vulture, 14, Commander Rupert George; Vernon, 14, and Jack, 14. The two last were armed ships. After a long chase the French vessels came up with them. The British formed single line ahead, the Charleston in the centre, between their enemy and the convoy, and opened fire between 7 and 8 P.M. The heavy fire of the French frigates soon began to produce effect. The Jack probably weakly built had to strike, and the French assert that the Charleston, having lost her maintopmast, struck also, but that she took advantage of the darkness to steal away. The Allegiance, Vulture, and Vernon likewise made off, but the Astree had been so damaged in her rigging during the action that she could not pursue. The British ships altered course and got safely away, whilst the French, after taking possession of their prize, returned to Boston. Since the French official account represents M. de La Perouse as fighting against odds, it is well to remember that two large and heavily-armed frigates would have a great advantage against a number of weak and small frigates, sloops, and armed ships. The British ships, if they had carronades, no doubt carried a greater weight of metal, but their scantling would be weaker, and their force was scattered in several ships.

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