Action of 1814-03-26

26th March 1814 - 27th March 1814
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Primrose vs Duke of Marlborough 12.3.1814
Next action : Pilot vs Légère 17.6.1815


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Hannibal (74) Michael Seymour
Hebrus (36) Edmund Palmer 13 killed, 25 wounded
Sparrow (16) Francis Erskine Loch (1788-1868) 1 killed, 1 wounded

Empire Français

Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Sultane (44) Abel Dupetit Thouars Captured
L'Étoile (44) Pierre Henry Philibert (1774-1824) Captured 40 killed, 73 wounded

Notes on Action


On March 26th, the two French frigates, the Sultane having jury topmasts and mizen mast, were about 35 miles N.W. of He Batz, making for St. Malo, in thick weather, with a S.W. breeze, when they fell in with the Hebrus, 36, Captain Edmund Palmer, and Sparrow, 16, Commander Francis Erskine Loch. The latter was so close to the enemy ere she discovered them that she received several shots from each, sustained considerable damage aloft, lost her Master, killed, and had a seaman wounded. The Hannibal, 74, Captain Sir Michael Seymour, Bart., was in the immediate neighbourhood; and the Hebrus, as she distantly engaged the Frenchmen with her starboard battery, fired her port guns in hopes of attracting the attention of her consort. At 9.40 A.M., as the fog cleared, the Hannibal was seen coming down under a cloud of canvas; and soon afterwards the Hebrus crowded sail in chase. In an hour, on the wind suddenly shifting to N.N.W., the French separated, the Sultane changing course to E. by N., and the Etoile hauling up to the S.E. Seymour signalled the Hebrus and Sparrow to chase the latter, and himself followed the Sultane.

The Hebrus soon lost sight of the Hannibal, and, later, of the Sparrow also, and, steadily gaining on the Etoile, overhauled her soon after midnight in the Eace of Alderney. At 1.45 A.M. on the 27th, as the Etoile was wearing round the Nez de Jobourg, close to the breakers, she opened fire upon the Hebrus, which was nearing her on the port quarter. The Hebrus, being within pistol-shot, replied, and then ran athwart the enemy's stern, to get between her and the shore. The British frigate thus placed herself in very shoal water; yet at 2.20 the Etoile crossed her bows to get inside her again, and, while doing so, crippled her very seriously aloft. During all this time it was nearly calm; but, at 3 o'clock, a light breeze sprang up from the land, and, taking full advantage of it, Palmer was able to rake his antagonist several times, finally knocking away her mizen mast close to the deck. At 4 A.M. the Etoile ceased firing, and hailed to say that she had struck; and, the heads of both ships having been got off shore, and a battery which, in the semi-darkness, had impartially annoyed both, having been placed out of range, the Hebrus and her prize, not without difficulty, anchored in Vauville Bay at 7 A.M., about five miles from the shore. The victor sustained her principal damages aloft, but also lost 13 killed, including Midshipman P A Crawley, and 25 wounded. The Etoile 's main injuries were in her hull; and she had, in consequence, as many as 40 killed and 73 wounded.

Captain Palmer mentions with great approval the conduct in the action of Commander William Sargent, a volunteer on board, and of Lieutenants Robert Milborne Jackson, and George Addis, as well as of other officers.

The Hannibal soon overtook the disabled Sultane, which, after very little firing, surrendered at 3.15 P.M. on the 26th. Both prizes were added to the Navy.

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