Action at Sables d'Olonne

27th February 1809
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Capture of the Junon 10.2.1809
Next action : Capture of the Proserpine 28.2.1809


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

British Squadron, Robert Stopford (1768-1847)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Caesar (80) Charles Richardson (d.1850)Fleet Flagship No casualties
Donegal (76) Pulteney Malcolm (1768-1838)1 killed, 6 wounded
Defiance (74) Henry Hotham (1777-1833)2 killed, 25 wounded
Amelia (38) Frederick Paul Irby (1779-1844) No casualties
Doterel (16) Anthony Abdy (d.1838)

Empire Français

French Squadron, Pierre Roch Jurien de la Graviere (1772-1849)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Italienne (44)  
La Calypso (40)  
La Cybèle (36)  

Notes on Action

Stopford, left the Amethyst, and the Emerald, 36, to observe Willaumez in the Basque Roads, and, wearing, made sail in the direction of the newcomers. These were the French 40-gun frigates Italienne, Calypso, and Cybele, which, soon after Willaumez had passed Isle Groix, had left Lorient, under Commodore Pierre Roch Jurien, with an E.N.E. wind, Troude himself, with his heavier ships, not being then able, owing to the state of the tide, to put to sea. They had already seen Beresford in the offing, and, when discovered by the Naiad, were being chased by the Amelia, 38, Captain the Hon. Frederick Paul Irby, and the Doterel, 18, Commander Anthony Abdy. As soon, therefore, as he perceived Stopford in the south-east, or nearly to windward of him, Jurien, realising that he was cut off, headed for Sables d'Olonne with the Amelia and Doterel at his heels. By 10 A.M., the Caesar, Defiance, and Donegal were also in close pursuit; and very shortly afterwards the French anchored in line of battle, with springs on their cables, immediately under the Sables d'Olonne batteries. Half an hour later, the British stood in, the Defiance leading, and being followed in order by the Caesar, Donegal, and Amelia; and at 11 A.M. fire was opened upon the enemy, who replied from the frigates as well as from the powerful forts on shore. At 11.50 A.M., the Italienne and Cybele, in flames, cut their cables and ran on to the beach, and later the Calypso drove thither stern foremost. As the tide then began to fall, Stopford ordered his ships to stand out; and the French frigates, having taken the ground nearly at the top of high water, became total wrecks. In this action the Caesar, though she, like her consorts, suffered somewhat aloft, had no one hurt. The Donegal had one killed and six wounded; and the Defiance, which was the most hotly engaged, had two killed and twenty-five wounded. The French lost twenty-four killed and fifty-one wounded, in addition to the losses which they may have sustained on shore.

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