Capture of the Blanche

19th July 1805
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Action off Calais 17.7.1805 - 18.7.1805
Next action : 3rd Battle of Cape Finisterre 22.7.1805


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Blanche (36) Zachariah Mudge (1770-1852) Captured 8 killed, 15 wounded

Empire Français

Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Topaze (40) François André Baudin (1774-1842)3 killed, 9 wounded
Le Departement des Landes (22) E. J. H. Desmontils
La Faune (16) C. Brunet
La Torche (16) N. P. Dehen

Notes on Action

On July 19th, the Blanche, 36, Captain Zachary Mudge, on her way from Jamaica to Barbados with despatches for Lord Nelson, was so unfortunate as to run up against a small French squadron some distance to the north of Puerto Rico. The French ships were the Topaze, 40, Captain F. A. Baudin, Departement des Landes, 22, Lieutenant E. J. H. Desmontils, Torche, 18, Lieutenant N. P. Dehen and Faune, 16, Lieutenant C. Brunet. They had, at various times, arrived in the West Indies with despatches for Villeneuve, had missed him, and were then returning. At first sight, as the day was hazy, and as they carried British colours, Captain Mudge took them for part of the homeward-bound West India fleet, which he knew was to be expected thereabouts. But as they made no reply to his signals, and closed him fast, he took alarm, and endeavoured to make off. The Blanche was close-hauled upon the port tack, with the wind from the east. She sailed badly, owing to the damaged condition of the copper on her bottom, and was speedily overtaken by the Topaze, which had drawn ahead of her consorts. The Topaze came up on the Blanche's starboard quarter, fired a broadside, and closed to within pistol-shot, whereupon the British ship returned the fire. The two ships ran large under easy sail. On the Blanche's starboard quarter was the Departement des Landes, and astern were the other two corvettes. Both the Departement des Landes and the Torche, according to the evidence of the Blanche's officers, were firing upon the British frigate, though, if French accounts can be believed, they contributed very little to the Blanche's defeat, the first only firing eighteen shots, and the second three broadsides. After half an hour's close action, the Blanche attempted to cross the Topaze's bows and rake her, but was thwarted in that manoeuvre by the French captain's sharply luffing, grazing the Blanche's mizen shrouds, and passing under her stern, there delivering a raking fire. At 11 A.M., after two and a quarter hours' resistance, the Blanche struck, being then in a thoroughly disabled condition, with several of her guns dismounted, her sails and rigging shot to pieces, her masts badly wounded, and her hold full of water.

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