Action of 1741-07-24

24th July 1741
Part of : War of Jenkins' Ear (1739/10/22 - 1748/10/18)
Previous action : Operations against Santiago 7.1741 - 10.1741
Next action : Duke's attack at St Tropez 14.6.1742


Great Britain

British Squadron, Curtis Barnet (d.1746)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Dragon (60) Curtis Barnet (d.1746)Fleet Flagship
Folkestone (44) George Balchen (1717-1745)
Faversham (44) Nathaniel Watson (d.1766)

Royaume de France

French Squadron, Charles de Grimoire (Marquis de Caylus)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Borée (66) Charles de Grimoire (Marquis de Caylus)Fleet Flagship
L'Aquilon (42) de Pardaillan (d.1741) CO Killed
La Flore (26)  

Notes on Action

In July, 1741, Captain Curtis Barnet, of the Dragon, 60, was detached from Vice-Admiral Nicolas Haddock's squadron with the two 44-gun ships, Feversham and Folkestone, and with orders to cruise in the neighbourhood of the Strait of Gibraltar. Being off Cape Spartel on the 25th of the month he chased and came up with three ships, which he had reason to believe were two Spanish register ships under convoy of a frigate. The Feversham had fallen astern, and the other two ships did not come up with the strangers till after dark. Barnet hailed to know what they were, and was answered that they were Frenchmen from Martinique. He explained that he was an English man-of-war, and that it was his duty to satisfy himself that they were not Spaniards; but, to his demand that his boat should be allowed to board them, he received no response save incivilities. Finding that he could do nothing by talking, and being confirmed in his belief that the ships were really Spanish, he opened fire, after due warning. The ships were, however, really French, being the Boree, 62, the Aquilon, 46, and the Flore, 26, under the command of Captain de Caylus, in the first named. A brisk action ensued, and the British ships, as the Feversham was still far astern, being somewhat at a disadvantage, soon found themselves obliged to lie to for half an hour to knot and splice. In the morning, they and their consort again came up with the Frenchman, and a boat was sent on board the Boree under a flag of truce. The truth at once appeared; but it also appeared that the ships, being on their way from the West Indies, and knowing the state of relations between the two countries, were under the conviction that war had broken out. Barnet's lieutenant was requested to swear before the French officers whether this were the case or not, and was able to satisfy them that the two monarchies were still at peace. It is hard to say that either Barnet or De Caylus was to blame; but the trouble might have been avoided had M. de Pardaillan, the captain of the Aquilon, been less suspicious of a British ship ranging alongside cleared for action. The blame really lay with the government which, though knowing that war was inevitable, hesitated to declare it. As it was, the ships parted with mutual apologies, and with a loss in killed of eleven men on the British side, and of about thirty-five, among whom was M. de Pardaillan, on board the French ships. All the vessels, moreover, had their masts and rigging much cut.

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Posted by Brian Stephens on Tuesday 29th of April 2014 20:48

The Gentleman's magazine. v. 11 (1741).
Letter from Lisbon, Aug.12
Two ships of Admiral Haddocks squadron, one of 60 guns, Capt. Barnet, the other of 40, Capt. Balchen, met with 3 French men of war, whom they took for Spaniards, because they would return no direct answers. At last, Capt. Barnet fired a gun at them, but they still refusing satisfaction, he fired four more, and one of they returned a broadside. Upon which an engagement ensued and continued about two hours. Barnet against a 50 gun ship, and Belchen against the two others, of 36 and 64 guns. The French lost above 30 men, and one of their Captains, and thought proper to ask pardon. Our ships had 11 men killed and 14 wounded.

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