Attack on Aix Roads

2nd July 1799
Part of : The French Revolutionary Wars (1793 - 1802)
Previous action : Capture off Cape Sicie 19.6.1799
Next action : Sparrow vs Nancy 28.7.1799


Great Britain

British Squadron, Charles Morice Pole (1757-1830)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Royal George (100) William Domett (1754-1828)Fleet Flagship
Sans Pareil (80) David Atkins (d.1811)
Venerable (74) Sir William George Fairfax (1739-1813)
Renown (74) Albemarle Bertie (1755-1824)
Ajax (74) Alexander Inglis Cochrane (1758-1832)
Robust (74) George Countess (1743-1811)
Boadicea (38) Richard Goodwin Keats (1757-1834)
Uranie (38)  
San Fiorenzo (36) Harry Burrard Neale
Unicorn (32) Philip Wilkinson
Sylph (16) John Chambers White (1770-1845)
Sulphur (10) John Wainwright
Explosion (10) Henry Samuel Butt
Volcano (10) Isaac Cotgrave

République Française

Spanish Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes

Notes on Action

Lord Bridport with ten sail of the line sailed on June 1st, for Basque road, and, on June 4th, sighted the Spanish squadron, which, as soon as it perceived him, moved to the road of Aix. The Admiral remained off Rochefort until the 8th, when he returned to England with the Royal George, 100, Atlas, 98, Achilles, 74, and Agincourt, 64, leaving, as a blockading force, the six 74-gun ships Mars (flag of Rear-Admiral the Hon. George Cranfield Berkeley), Venerable, Renown, Ajax, Ramillies, and Robust. Within the next few weeks, this squadron was joined by the Sans Pareil, 80, the Royal George, 100 (then bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Charles Morice Pole), and several bombs and small craft; and, on the other hand, the Mars and Ramillies parted company. On July 2nd, Pole made an attack upon the Spanish ships, which were moored in line ahead between the Isle of Aix and the Boyart shoal, and which were protected by a floating mortar battery; but it was soon found that the French mortars were of so much greater range than the British that, while the latter could not reach their target at all, the former threw shells well over not only the British bombs but also the covering frigates. When, therefore, the enemy, finding that he could not be injured, began to assume the offensive, and to send gunboats to inflict additional annoyance upon the attacking party, both frigates and bombs were ordered to weigh and stand out. They were followed, for a time, by the hostile gunboats; and, in consequence, the French claimed the affair as a British defeat; but the fact is that on neither side was there any loss or damage. For some time afterwards, the Spaniards were blockaded, but in the middle of September they managed to put to sea.

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