Battle of Barfleur

19th May 1692
Part of : War of the Grand Alliance (1688 - 1697)
Previous action : Action of 1692-02-22 22.2.1691/92
Next action : Action at Cherbourg 1.6.1692 - 2.6.1692

Having sent ahead some "frigates" the lighter and faster part of his fleet to reconnoitre the French coast and watch the motions of the enemy, Russell sailed from St Helens on May 18th. At 3 A.M. on the morning of Thursday, the 19th, when he was off Cape Barfleur, the Chester and Charles Galley, which were then scouting to the westward, fired guns, and made the best of their way towards the flag. Upon arriving within signalling distance, they reported that the enemy was in sight. The wind was S.W. and, the French being to the south-west of the Allies, Tourville had the option whether he would or would not engage. He had not received the order to avoid an action; he believed that he was expected to fight; and mortification at the manner in which his previous proceedings had been criticised inclined him to the combat. Moreover, he seems to have been at first quite ignorant as to the overwhelming strength of the Allies, and to have supposed that not more than five and forty ships were opposed to him. He therefore ordered his whole fleet to keep away together for the enemy, who, heading S.S.W., awaited him on the starboard tack in the natural order, the Dutch, that is, being in the van, and Ashby, with the Blue squadron, occupying the rear. Supposing for a short time that the French might stand to the northward, Russell had signalled his own rear to tack; but when, soon after 4 A.M., he saw the enemy standing to the southward and preparing to form line on the same tack as the Allies, he annulled the order ere Ashby had gone far towards obeying it. Tourville indeed accepted the challenge in the handsomest manner, when he might have discovered a dozen excellent reasons for declining it.


Royaume de France

Blue & White Van Squadron , André de Nesmond (1641-1702)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Bourbon (64) Barthélemy-Alexandre d'Aralle (Chevalier de Perrinet) (1650-1705)
Le Monarque (80)  Squadron Flagship
L'Aimable (70) Charles de Boscal de Mornac (Chevalier de Réals) (1645-1697)
Saint Louis (58) Jean de La Roque-Persin (1650-1711)
Le Diamant (58) Feuqières, Simon de Pas (Chevalier de Feuquières) (1655-1692)CO mortal wounded
Blue & White Main Squadron , Charles-François Davy (2nd Marquis d'Amfreville) (1640-1692)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Gaillard (66) Jacques Davy (Chevalier d'Amfreville) (d.1696)
Le Terrible (80) Jacques Kadot de Sébeville (Comte de Sébeville) (1647-1707)
Le Merveilleux (92) Joseph de Mons (1654-1731)Squadron Flagship Admiral mortal wounded
Le Tonnant (76) Jean-Baptiste d'Augustine de Septèmes (Chevalier de Septèmes) (1640-1697)
Le Saint Michel (58) de Villars (Comte de Villars) (1654-1712)
Le Vermandois (60) Louis de Lévy (1650-1703)
Blue & White Rear Squadron , Ferdinand de Relingues (Comte de Relingue) (1630-1704)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Sérieux (58) Charles de Courbon-Blénac (1st Comte de Blénac) (1622-1696)
Le Foudroyant (84) Ferdinand de Relingues (Comte de Relingue) (1630-1704)Squadron Flagship
Le Brillant (64) de Combes (1650-1717)
White Van Squadron, Phillippe Le Valois (Marquis de Villette-Mursay) (1632-1707)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Fort (56) La Rongère
L'Henri (64) Gaspard de Goussé de La Roche-Allard (1664-1745)
L'Ambitieux (80) Louis César de Campet (Chevalier de Saujon) (1666-1722)Squadron Flagship
La Couronne (80) de Montbron (Chevalier ) (1640-1693)
Le Maure (50) Jean Baptiste Achard (Chevalier des Augiers) (1650-1708)
Le Courageux (56) François de Bricqueville (Comte de la Luzerne) (1665-1746)
White Main Squadron, Anne Hilarion de Costentin (Chevalier de Tourville) (1642-1701)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
La Perle (50) Claude de Forbin (1656-1733)
Le Glorieux (64) Joseph-Charles Joubert de La Bastide (1660-1727)
Le Conquérant (84) Pierre Guérusseau (Seigneur du Magnou) (1630-1706)
Le Soleil Royal (104) Charles des Nos (Comte des Nos de Forbonest) (1645-1701)Fleet Flagship
Le Saint Philippe (82) Louis Le Roux d'Infreville-Saint-Aubin (Chevalier d'Infreville-Saint-Aubin) (1642-1712)
L'Admirable (94) de Beaujeu
White Rear Squadron , Joseph Andrault (2nd Comte de Langeron) (1649-1711)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Content (66) Chevalier Charles de Sainte-Maure (1655-1744)
Souverain (80) Joseph Andrault (2nd Comte de Langeron) (1649-1711)Squadron Flagship
Illustre (64) de Combes (1650-1717)
Le Modéré (52) d'Évry
Blue Van Squadron , Allain Emmanuel de Coëtlogon (Marquis de Coëtlogon) (1646-1730)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Excellent (60) Amatheur du Rivau-Huet (1647-1701)
Le Prince (56) Pierre de Bagneux (1650-1718)
Le Magnifique (84) Allain Emmanuel de Coëtlogon (Marquis de Coëtlogon) (1646-1730)Squadron Flagship
Le Laurier (64) Hervault
Blue Main Squadron , Jean Gabaret (Seigneur d'Angoulins) (1631-1697)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Brave (58) Jean-François-Florent de Laigle (Chevalier de Chalais) (1650-1708)
L'Entendu (60) Charles-Daniel Ricoux (Chevalier de Ricoux) (1663-1708)
Triomphant (76) Charles-François de Machault de Belmont (1640-1709)
L'Orgueilleux (90) Courbon-BlénacSquadron Flagship
Le Fier (76) François-René de Betz (Comte de La Harteloire) (1648-1726)
Le Fleuron (56) de Montgon (Marquis de Montgon) (1660-1729)
Blue Rear Squadron , François Panetié (Seigneur de la Croix) (1626-1696)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Courtisan (64) François de Colbert de Saint-Mars (1650-1722)
Le Grand (86)  Squadron Flagship
Saint Esprit (80) Rolland Barrin (Marquis de la Galissonnière) (1646-1737)
La Sirène (64) Abraham Duquesne-Guiton (1650-1724)

Allied (Dutch Republic & Kingdom of England) - Edward Russell (1653-1727)

Van - White Squadron
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Noord Holland (46)  
Zeelandia (90)  
Goes (54)  
Gelderland (72)  
Veere (60)  
Prins Willem (92)  Squadron Flagship
Eerste Edele (74)  
Stad Medemblik (64)  
Main - White Squadron, Philips van Almonde (1644-1711)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Keurvorst van Brandenburg (92)  
Westfriesland (90)  
Zeeland (64) Philip Schriver (d.1711)
Ripperda (52)  
Slot van Muiden (74)  
Elswoud (74)  
Schattershoef (52)  
Leiden (64)  
Rear - White Squadron, Jan Snellen
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Prinses Maria (92)  
Amsterdam (64)  
Stad en Lande (50)  
Veluwe (66)  
Kasteel van Medemblik (90)  
Ridderschap (72) Johan van Convent
Admiraal Generaal (84)  
Maagd van Dordrecht (68)  
De Zeven Provinciën (72)  Squadron Flagship
Van - Red Squadron, Sir Ralph Delavall (c.1641-1706/7)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Plymouth (52) John Maine
Ruby (46) George Mees (d.1697)
Cambridge (70) Richard Lestock (d.1713)
Oxford (54) James Wishart (d.1723)
Sandwich (90) Anthony Hastings (d.1692), Wolfran Cornewall (d.1719)
Royal William (100) Thomas Jennings (d.1723)Squadron Flagship
Bredah (70) David Lambert (d.1703)
Kent (70) Edward Good (d.1709/10), John Neville (d.1697)
Elizabeth (70) Stafford Fairborne (d.1716)
Saint Albans (50) Richard Fitzpatrick (d.1727)
Hampton Court (70) John Graydon (c.1666-1725/26)
Swiftsure (66) Richard Clarke
Main - Red Squadron, Edward Russell (1653-1727)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Grafton (70)  
Restoration (70) James Gother (d.1696)
Greenwich (54) Sir Richard Edwards, Andrew Pedder (d.1702)
London (96) Mathew Aylmer (1650-1720)
Britannia (100) John Fletcher (d.1704/5)Fleet Flagship
Saint Andrew (100) George Churchill (1654-1710)
Chester (50) Thomas Gillam (d.1693)
Eagle (70) John Leake (1656-1720)
Rupert (64) Mathew Aylmer (1650-1720)
Rear - Red Squadron, Sir Cloudisley Shovell (1650-1707)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Burford (70) Thomas Harlow (d.1741)
Centurion (54) Francis Wyvell (d.1729)
Captain (70) Daniel Jones (d.1693/94)
Devonshire (80) Henry Haughton (d.1703)
Royal Sovereign (100) Humphrey Sanders (d.1725/26)Squadron Flagship
Royal Katherine (84) James Gother (d.1696)
Bonaventure (52) John Hubbard (d.1723)
York (58) Robert Deane (d.1699/1700)
Lennox (70) John Munden (d.1718/19)
Saint Michael (90) Thomas Hopson (1643-1717)
Van - Blue Squadron, George Rooke (1650-1708/9)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Albemarle (90)  
Resolution (68) Edward Good (d.1709/10)
Monck (58) Benjamin Hoskins (d.1712)
Expedition (70) Edward Dover (d.1695)
Chatham (54) John Leader (d.1701/2)
Windsor Castle (90) Lord Peregrine Osborne (2nd Earl of Danby) (1659-1729)
Neptune (94) Thomas Gardner (d.1699)Squadron Flagship
Royal Oak (70) George Byng (1663/64-1732/33) Joined after the action
Advice (42) Edward Boys (d.1696)
Northumberland (70) Andrew Cotten (d.1693)
Lion (58) Robert Wiseman
Main - Blue Squadron, Sir John Ashby (d.1693)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Berwick (70) Henry Martin (d.1701/2)
Defiance (64) Edward Gurney (d.1694/95)
Montagu (58) Simon Fowkes (d.1702)
Warspite (64) Caleb Grantham (d.1698)
Adventure (42) Thomas Dilkes (d.1706)
Vanguard (90) Christopher Mason
Victory (100) Edward Stanley (d.1693)Squadron Flagship
Duchess (90) John Clements (d.1695)
Monmouth (64) Thomas Raines (d.1702), Sir Robert Robinson (d.1717/18)
Edgar (72) John Torpley (d.1699)
Rear - Blue Squadron, Richard Carter (d.1692)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Stirling Castle (70) Benjamin Walters (d.1697/98)
Dreadnought (66) Basil Beaumont (1669-1703)
Crown (50) Thomas Warren (d.1699)
Suffolk (70) Christopher Billop (1650-1725)
Woolwich (54) Christopher Myngs
Ossory (90) John Tyrrell
Duke (90) William Wright (d.1735), Thomas Jennings (d.1723)
Cornwall (80) Edward Boys (d.1696)
Essex (70) John Bridges (d.1694)
Deptford (50) William Kerr
Hope (70) Sir Henry Robinson (d.1701)
Red Squadron Fireships
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Vulcan (28) Joseph Soanes (d.1737)
Fox (28) Thomas Killingworth (d.1694)
Hound (28) Thomas Fowlis (d.1703)
Vulture (28) William Lindsey (d.1694)
Wolf (8) James Greenway (d.1703)
Strombolo (28) Thomas Urry (d.1699)
Phaeton (28) Robert Hancock (d.1707)
Spy (28) John Norris (1670-1749)
Roebuck (28) Francis Manley (d.1692)
Flame (28) James Stewart (d.1704/5)
Extravagant (10) Fleetwood Emes (d.1703)
Hopewell (8) William Jumper (d.1714/15)
Blue Squadron Fireships
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Half Moon (32) John Knapp Fireship
Charles Galley (32) Joseph Waters (d.1694)
Hunter (28) Thomas Rooke (d.1701)
Blaze (28) Thomas Heath (d.1693)
Aetna (28) Richard Carverth
Lightning (28)  
Vesuvius (28) Charles Guy (d.1697)
Speedwell (28) Thomas Symonds (d.1694)
Griffin (28) Robert Partridge (d.1692)
Cadiz Merchant (12) Robert Wynn
Thomas and Elizabeth (10) Edward Littleton (d.1695/96)
Owner's Love (10)  
Other vessels present

These vessel's joined the fleet before the battle, but are not included in the offical order of battle

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Reserve (44) Thomas Crawley
Portsmouth (32) John Bridges (d.1694)
Hawk (28) William Harman (d.1694) Fireship
Greyhound (16) John Fletcher (d.1704/5), William Kiggings (d.1698)
Saudadoes (16) William Prowther (d.1703)

Notes on Action

Description of the actionTRN2

"When," says Mahan, "they were within easy range, the French hauled their wind on the same tack, keeping the weathergauge. Tourville, being so inferior in numbers, could not wholly avoid the enemy's line extending to the rear of his own, which was also necessarily weak from its extreme length; but he avoided Torrington's error at Beachy Head, keeping his van refused, with long intervals between the ships, to check the enemy's van, and engaging closely with his centre and rear." Thus formed, the two lines headed from N.N.E. towards S.S.W. Russell was not entirely satisfied with his own line, which was completed at about 8 A.M. He calls it an "indifferent" one. Tourville's line was also ragged, but the resolute manner in which his ships bore down was remarked by all.

Russell's last order, ere the action began, took the shape of directions to Admiral van Almonde to endeavour to weather the enemy as soon as possible. It was about 10.30 A.M. when the French centre hauled its wind and opened fire on the Red squadron at three-quarter musket shot; and, it falling calm almost immediately afterwards, the Dutch could not, for the time, do much towards carrying out the desires of the commander-in-chief. Nevertheless several of their ships succeeded in getting into close action, and the Zeven Provincien, De Ruijter's famous flagship, had that day nineteen killed and fourteen badly wounded, while the Admiraal Generaal lost nine killed and thirty wounded, among the latter being Rear-Admiral van der Goes.

The hottest fighting, however, was in the centre; and at 1 P.M. Tourville, in the Soleil Royal, was observed to be towing off to windward with his sails and rigging badly damaged. At about 2 P.M. the wind, such as there was of it, shifted to N.W. by N., and five fresh and almost untouched French ships of D'Amfreville's squadron thereupon ranged themselves three ahead and two astern of the Soleil Royal, and, in the most devoted manner, endeavoured to relieve her. The chief opponents of the group thus formed were the Britannia, London, and St. Andrew; and, for an hour, these ships, and others near them in the line, were very hotly engaged. All day it had been misty, and, soon after three, a fog began to gather very thickly over the scene of action. This caused much confusion on both sides, and it was doubtless in consequence of it that the Sandwich drove through the remnants of the French line, and, in the heavy fire which was turned upon her from all sides, lost her captain, Anthony Hastings. Before the fog became so thick as to oblige all ships to cease firing, Shovell's division had doubled upon the Soleil Royal and her immediate supporters; and it is not, therefore, astonishing that when Tourville's ship next became visible she still was towing out of action to the northward. The Britannia and other vessels attempted to tow after her, the wind having again dropped; but soon the fog once more shrouded everything.

At about 5 P.M. a light breeze sprang up from the eastward, and the weather became a little less thick. The French were then discovered heading west; and as much of the allied fleet as could be communicated with was ordered in chase. There was a partial renewal of the battle until about 8 P.M., when the fog, denser than ever, put an end for the night to all combined action.

It was when this fog was at its worst that Rear-Admiral Carter's division of the allied Blue squadron by hazard fell in with the main body of the flying enemy, and, for half an hour, engaged it in the ever-growing darkness. Carter was the officer whose loyalty and good faith had been most peculiarly suspected. Other officers had been believed to be disaffected; but rumour had charged Carter with being corrupt and treacherous as well. That night he silenced for ever those who would have impeached his honour. A shot struck him, and, as he realised that death had come to him, he said to Wright, his flag-captain: " Fight the ship as long as she will swim." Later, both fleets anchored.

Previous comments on this page

Posted by regis on Monday 30th of May 2016 11:16

Brillant captain chevalier de Combes

Foudroyand captain de Relingue perdu le 2 juin

44 ships of line and 11 fireships

"mes campagnes en mer sous loius 14" de Philippe de Villette-Mursay colection In-Texte Tallandier

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