Action in Rosas Bay

31st October 1809 - 1st November 1809
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Action of 1809-10-21 21.10.1809
Next action : Actions in the Persian Gulf 13.11.1809 - 27.11.1809


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

British Squadron, Benjamin Hallowell (1761-1834)

15 dead 55 wounded

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Tigre (74) Benjamin Hallowell (1761-1834)Fleet Flagship 4 dead 10 wounded
Cumberland (74)  2 dead 15 wounded
Volontaire (38) Charles Bullen (1768-1853)2 dead 15 wounded
Apollo (36) Bridges Watkinson Taylor (d.1814)3 dead 5 wouinded
Topaze (32) Henry Hope4 dead 8 wounded
Tuscan (16) John Gourley, John Wilson2 wounded
Philomel (16) George Crawley (d.1810)
Scout (16) Alexander Renton Sharpe

Empire Français

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Lamproie (16) Bertault Le Breetreete Burnt
La Victoire (14) Garribou Burnt
La Normande (10)   Captured
Grondeur (8)   Captured
L'Affacien Rouve Burnt

Notes on Action


The remains of the convoy which Rear-Admiral Baudin had had in his charge put into Rosas Bay, and anchored under the guns of Rosas Castle, Fort Trinidad, Fort Bouton, and other batteries. This flotilla consisted of seven merchantmen, under the care of the Lamproie, 16, armed storeship, the armed bombards Victoire, 14, and Grandeur, 8, and the armed xebec Normande, 10. Learning of its whereabouts, Collingwood detached Captain Benjamin Hallowell to endeavour to take or destroy it.

The larger ships of the squadron anchored at about five miles from Rosas on the night of October 31st, the brigs remaining under way. The boats of all the vessels were at once manned and armed, and, without delay, they pushed off under command of Lieutenant John Tailour, first of the Tigre. The French had made full preparations to resist attack, and were not taken by surprise. The Lamproie was, nevertheless, quickly boarded and carried; the Victoire, Grandeur, Normande, and a felucca full of musketeers, soon shared the same fate in spite of the gallant resistance which they made, and of a heavy fire from the forts, and from troops posted on the beach; and by daylight on November 1st, every vessel in the harbour had been either burnt at her moorings, or carried out. The British loss was somewhat heavy, for fifteen (including Lieutenant Dalhousie Tait, of the Volontaire, and Master's Mate James Caldwell, of the Tigre) were killed, and fifty wounded. Among the latter were Lieutenants John Tailour (Tigre), John Forster (Apollo), Richard Stuart (Cumberland), James Begbie (Apollo), and the Hon. James Ashley Maude (Ville de Paris), Master's Mate John Webster (Cumberland), and Midshipmen Dey Richard Syer (Tigre), William Hollinshed Brady (Cumberland), and John Armstead (Ville de Paris). The French loss must have been even heavier.

The complete defeat of this attempt on the part of Rear-Admiral Baudin to succour Barcelona illustrates the great importance of command of the sea in cases where military operations are in progress on or near the seaboard; but the ease with which Baudin was detected and checkmated on this occasion causes one to feel astonishment that his previous cruise in April and May began and ended without any British interference whatsoever. Nor, on the other hand, is it possible to avoid wondering why Admiral Ganteaume, who had with him superior forces, who realised the necessity for relieving Barcelona, and who must have known that Collingwood was not the man to decline an action, did not put to sea with his fifteen French and six Russian sail of the line, and endeavour not only to force a way to the Catalonian coasts, but also to cripple for ever the enemy who sought to bar his passage thither. Napoleon, however, always loved to husband his ships; and Trafalgar had made French admirals somewhat chary of risking decisive encounters when they had in their favour a numerical advantage of not more than twenty-five per cent, or thereabouts.

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Maris Bruzgulis on Monday 15th of October 2018 10:11

Thank you all for your help.

Posted by Maris Bruzgulis on Monday 15th of October 2018 09:58

Is there a list of the names of everyone in the ships' companies, as well as of the casualties?

Posted by Charles hunt on Tuesday 9th of October 2018 20:27

This must be the action described by c s Foreter in, I think one of the stories in midshipman Hornblower where Hornblower leads a cutting out expedition and is captured and imprisoned in the castle of Rosas. Forester frequently used real locations for the actions in which his hero was involved

Posted by Cy on Tuesday 9th of October 2018 13:52

The national archives hold extant copies of the ships muster logs, which is the only place I can think of you might find them.
go to the national archives discovery site and search in ADM 36 and ADM 37 for the ships name to see if they are extant

Posted by Maris Bruzgulis on Tuesday 9th of October 2018 10:02

Is there a list of the names of everyone in the ships' companies, as well as of the casualties?

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