French frigate Créole (1799)
|Laid down:||5 January 1794|
|Launched:||27 June 1797|
|In service:||January 1799|
|Captured:||30 June 1803 by the Royal Navy|
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Acquired:||30 June 1803|
|Fate:||Wrecked on 2 January 1804|
|Tons burthen:||700 tonnes|
|Length:||48.9 m (160 ft)|
|Beam:||11.9 m (39 ft)|
|Draught:||5.8 m (19 ft)|
28 x 18-pounder long guns
The Créole was a 40-gun frigate of the French Navy, a one-off design by Jacques-Augustin Lamothe. She served in the Brest squadron, took part in Ganteaume's expeditions of 1801 to Egypt, and was involved in the French occupation of Santo Domingo and briefly detained Toussaint Louverture before he was brought to France. She was captured off Santo Domingo by the 74-guns HMS Vanguard and Cumberland on 30 June 1803 and brought into Royal Navy service. However, she was wrecked soon afterwards during an attempt to cross to Britain, and her crew rescued.
After her launch, Créole was fitted for four months before being lent to a privateer from Nantes. She was commissioned in the Navy on 29 April 1798 and started patrolling off Brest in February 1799.
On 12 April, capitaine de vaisseau Pierre-Paulin Gourrège took command. On 26 April 1799, Créole departed Brest with the oceanic fleet and took part in Bruix' expedition of 1799 into the Mediterranean. She was detached to Oneglia, along with Romaine and Vautour, to support the French invasion of Italy.
In 1800, Créole was part of a division under contre-amiral Lacrosse, tasked to cruise off Morbihan and cut off the royalists from their British support. In order to avoid the British blockade, the squadron anchored to Camaret, but attracted the attention of the British and sailed back to harbour to avoid engagement. The division was retasked to ferry 4600 troops to Santo Domingo, but again ran into the British blockade, turned back and adjourned its mission. During the cruise, Créole sustained some damage in a collision with Fidèle.
Ganteaume's expeditions of 1801
On 27 January 1801, Créole departed Brest with a division under contre-amiral Ganteaume, tasked to ferry ammunitions and reinforcements to the Armée d'Égypte, taking part in Ganteaume's expeditions of 1801. After several false starts due to unfavourable weather or to the British blockade, Ganteaume eventually set sail on 23 February on a heavy sea which soon dispersed his squadron. The next day, Créole rejoined Indivisible, and the two ships sailed together until they finally made contact with their division.
Ganteaume reached Toulon on 18 February; Gourrège left Créole to take command of the flagship Indivisible on 9 March. The squadron set sail on 25 April. His crew much weakened by an epidemic, Ganteaume managed to establish a blockade of Elba on 1 May and bombard Portoferraio on 6 May, supporting the Siege of Porto Ferrajo, but he had to detach Formidable, Indomptable, Dessaix and Créole to ferry the sick to Livorno and return to Toulon.
On 9 January 1802, Créole departed Toulon with a division under contre-amiral Ganteaume, ferrying troops to Santo Domingo to consolidate the French occupation of Santo Domingo. After Toussaint Louverture surrendered, he was embarked on Créole before being transferred on Héros and ferried to France, where he died in prison. Boarding the frigate, Louverture stated:
|“||In overthrowing me you have cut down in Saint Domingue only the trunk of the tree of liberty; it will spring up again from the roots, for they are many and they are deep.||”|
In 1803, Créole ferried troops to Port-au-Prince under Commander Jean-Marie-Pierre Lebastard, travelling to Jean-Rabel from Cap Français with 530 soldiers under General Morgan.[notes 1] Her crew suffered from the yellow fever that was endemic to the campaign, so that only 150 men were fit and the frigate was 177 short of her usual complement. In the morning of 30 June, Créole met five British ships of the line, who closed in to investigate and gave chase. Unable to race effectively against the ships of the line, Créole was quickly rejoined and flanked on both sides by the 74-guns Vanguard and Cumberland. Vanguard opened fire, and after a single token gunshot, Créole struck to her overwhelming opponents.
In late 1803 Créole sailed for Britain with a prize crew and a numerous French prisoners. Créole was in a poor state, and on 26 December she sprang a leak. The crew and prisoners manned her pumps but were unable to prevent the accumulation of water such that by 30 December the water was rising by two feet per hour. Two leaks became evident, one forward and one aft of the hold. The crew threw her guns, shot, iron ballast and some stores overboard, and slung a sail under the hull. Still, by 2 January the pumps were again unable to prevent the accumulation of water. The crew and the prisoners were exhausted and so Bissell decided to abandon ship. Cumberland came up to take everyone off Créole. The last men left on 3 January, at which time she sank beneath the waves at 40° 42' North, 51° 24' West.
Notes and references
- Troude (Batailles navales, p.288) gives a figure of 450.
- Roche, Dictionnaire des Bâtiments, p. 134
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 155
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 157
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 188
- Fond Marine, p.237
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 228
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 229
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 230
- Quintin, Dictionnaire des capitaines, p. 157
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 231
- Clowes, p. 453
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 270
- TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE FRANÇOIS DOMINIQUE TOUSSAINT dit (1743-1803)
- Le rêve américain et caraïbe de Bonaparte : Le destin de la Louisiane française. L'expédition de Saint-Domingue, Napoleon.org
- Abbott, Elizabeth (1988). Haiti: An insider's history of the rise and fall of the Duvaliers. Simon & Schuster. p. viii ISBN 0-671-68620-8
- James, p. 188
- Troude, Batailles navales, p. 288
- Hepper (1994), p. 103.
- Clowes, William Laird (1997) . "London". The Royal Navy, A History from the Earliest Times to 1900, Volume V. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-014-0.
- Fonds Marine. Campagnes (opérations ; divisions et stations navales ; missions diverses). Inventaire de la sous-série Marine BB4. Tome premier : BB4 1 à 482 (1790-1826) 
- Hepper, David J. (1994). British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot. ISBN 0-948864-30-3.
- James, William (2002) . The Naval History of Great Britain, Volume 3, 1800–1805. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-907-7.
- Quintin, Danielle et Bernard (2003). Dictionnaire des capitaines de Vaisseau de Napoléon. S.P.M. ISBN 2-901952-42-9.
- Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours 1 1671 - 1870. p. 134. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922.
- Troude, Onésime-Joachim (1867). Batailles navales de la France 3. Challamel ainé.