Capture of the d'Hautpoult

14th April 1809 - 17th April 1809
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Battle of the Basque Roads 11.4.1809
Next action : Bombardment of Pesaro 23.4.1809


United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

British Squadron, Alexander Inglis Cochrane (1758-1832)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Neptune (90)  Fleet Flagship 1 killed, 4 wounded
Pompee (80) Edward Pelham Brenton (1774-1839), William Charles Fahie (1763-1833)9 killed, 30 wounded
Castor (32) William Roberts (d.1811)1 killed, 6 wounded
Recruit (16) Charles John Napier (1786-1860)1 wounded
York (74) Robert Barton, Alexander Wilmot Schomberg (1775-1850)
Polyphemus (64) William Pryce Cumby (1771-1837)
Latona (38) James Athol Wood (1756-1829), Hugh Pigot (1775-1857)
Hazard (16) Hugh Cameron (d.1809)

Empire Français

French Squadron, Amable Gilles Troude (1762-1824)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Hautpoult (74)  Fleet Flagship upto 90 killed & wounded Captured
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Le Polonais (74) Hugues Oliver Mequet (1762-1824)
Le Courageux (74)  

Notes on Action

In March 1809, Commodore A. G. Troude, with the three French 74's Courageux, Polonais, and d'Hautpoult (flagship), and the storeships Furieuse and Felicite, freighted with supplies for Martinique, anchored in the harbour of the Saintes, having heard of the capture of Martinique by the British. Their appearance at that point led the British commanders on the station to determine upon an expedition for the purpose of capturing the Saintes and so driving the enemy out. On April 14th, a body of about 2500 men was landed on one of the islands. A height overlooking the harbour was seized, and from it two 8-inch howitzers were directed upon the French ships. That night the three line-of-battle ships put to sea. Their movements, however, were seen, and immediately signalled, by Commander Hugh Cameron of the Hazard, 18, to the blockading squadron, which consisted of the Neptune, 98, Captain Charles Dilkes, with Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander F. I. Cochrane's flag, York, 74, Pompee, 74, Captain William Charles Fahie, Polyphemus, 64, Recruit, 18, Commander Charles Napier, and some small craft. At about 10 P.M. the Pompee and Recruit closed with the sternmost Frenchman, the d'Hautpoult, and fired into her, without effect. The Neptune also succeeded in getting near enough to open fire; but soon the French vessels drew away from all but the Recruit. The Recruit during the whole night kept on the quarter of the d'Hautpoult, the outer ship of the line abreast which was formed by the French, and at daylight began annoying her and her consorts. More than once by her temerity she compelled the line-of-battle ships to yaw and fire broadsides at her. As the evening of the 15th came on, the Pompee had drawn so close to the French line that the three 74's scattered. The d'Hautpoult steered W.N.W., and was followed by the Pompee, while the Recruit and Neptune chased the other two. All the 16th the pursuit continued, and in the forenoon the Pompee was joined by the Latona, 38, Captain Hugh Pigot, and Castor, 32, Captain William Roberts. On the 17th, early, the Castor was near enough to the d'Hautpoult to open fire; and she delayed the French ship so much that the Pompee was able to come up and bring the enemy to close action. British ships were showing on the horizon in every direction, all standing towards the scene of action, when at 5.15 A.M. the d'Hautpoult struck, with rigging and sails cut to pieces, masts wounded, hull riddled, and between 80 and 90 killed or wounded. The British loss was 10 killed and 35 wounded, mostly on board the Pompee.

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