Action of 7 October 1795

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Action of 7 October 1795
Part of the French Revolutionary War
Date 7 October 1795
Location off Cape St Vincent, Portugal
Result French victory
Belligerents
France First French Republic  Kingdom of Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Rear-Admiral Richery Commodore Taylor
Strength
6 ships of the line
3 frigates[1][2]
3 ships of the line
4 frigates
31 merchantmen[3]
Casualties and losses
light 1 ship of the line captured
30 merchantmen captured[2][4]

The Action of 7 October 1795 was a naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars during which a French squadron led by Rear-Admiral Joseph de Richery captured a large British convoy of thirty-one merchant vessels. The British convoy, escorted by three ships of line and several frigates under Commodore Thomas Taylor, sailed from Gibraltar and were intercepted on 7 October by a French squadron, one of the two who managed that year to evade the British blockade of Toulon.[5] During the action the French ships captured a British 74-gun ship of line and all but one merchantmen. Shortly after, they bore his prizes triumphantly in Cadiz.[6] Strangely it was not until 1812 when the Royal Navy decided to increase the number of his escort vessels.[7]

Engagement[edit]

On the morning of 7 October, off Cape St Vincent, the British Mediterranean Fleet, which consisted of about thirty merchant ships richly laden sailing to Great Britain and convoyed by the ships of line HMS Censeur, HMS Bedford, HMS Fortitude and four frigates under Commodore Thomas Taylor’s command,[3] fell in with a French fleet led by Rear-Admiral Joseph de Richery consisting of six ships of line and three frigates. This fleet, which was being pursued unsuccessfully since two days before by a squadron of equal force sent by Admiral Hotham,[1][6] had been dispatched in mid-September by the French Admiralty from Toulon to sail to Newfoundland to attack the British fishing industry,[7] and came across with the British fleet.

As soon as the French fleet was sighted, Commodore Taylor made the signal for the convoy to disperse and ordered his ships to form a line of battle to allow time for the merchant vessels to escape.[5] The French frigates were dispatched to prevent its escape and they succeeded in capturing almost all of the convoy.[3] During the engagement HMS Censeur lost her topmasts, and with no possibility of escape, she struck her colours to three French ships of line which had cut off her retreat. HMS Bedford and HMS Fortitude, with the other warships, managed to escape.

French squadron, Joseph de Richery
Ship Guns Commander Notes
Victoire 80 Lemancq
Jupiter 74 Joseph de Richery
Barra 74 Maureau
Berwick 74 Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley
Révolution 74 Faye
Duquesne 74 Zacharie Allemand
Embuscade 32
Félicité 32
Friponne

Aftermath[edit]

Several days later the French fleet triumphantly entered the Spanish port of Cadiz. Thirty merchantmen, the entire convoy with the exception of a single vessel, had been captured,[6] and the 74-gun ship of line Censeur, taken by the British five months before during an action off Genoa, had been recaptured. The damage inflicted to the British commerce by this action, together with other attacks against British merchant convoys near Jamaica and off Rochefort, was heavy.[2] Between 1793 and 1801 the French captured 5,557 British merchant vessels,[7] inflicting desperate losses to Great Britain and forcing the British to sail in convoy and patrol the regular routes to avoid heavier losses.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cust p.307
  2. ^ a b c Castex p.93
  3. ^ a b c Kippis p.256
  4. ^ Dull p.143
  5. ^ a b James p.274
  6. ^ a b c Yonge p.471
  7. ^ a b c d Corvisier p.173

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cust, Edward (1859). Annals of the wars of the eighteenth century, compiled from the most authentic histories of the period: 1783–1795. Mitchell's Military Library.
  • Castex, Jean-Claude (2004). Dictionnaire des batailles navales franco-anglaises. Presses Université Laval. ISBN 978-2-7637-8061-0
  • Kippis, Andrew (1796). The New annual register, or, General repository of history, politics, and literature for the year .... Printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson.
  • Dull, Jonathan (2009). The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1815. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-1930-4
  • James, William; Chamier, Frederick (1860). The naval history of Great Britain, from the declaration of war by France in 1793, to the accession of George IV, Vol. 1. R. Bentley
  • Yonge, Charles Duke (1866). The history of the British navy: from the earliest period to the present time, Vol. 1. R. Bentley.
  • Corvisier, André; Childs, John (1994). A dictionary of military history and the art of war. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-16848-5
  • Batailles navales de la France, Onésime-Joachim Troude, Challamel ainé, 1867, vol.2, p. 437