Battle of Hyères Islands

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Naval Battle of Hyères Islands
Part of the French Revolutionary War
Date 13 July 1795
Location Hyères Islands, French Mediterranean
Result British-Neapolitan victory
Belligerents
France France  Great Britain
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Naples and Sicily
Commanders and leaders
Rear Admiral Pierre Martin Vice Admiral Hotham
Strength
17 ships of the line and 6 frigates[1] 23 ships of the line, about 15 frigates and corvettes (6 ships of the line engaged)
Casualties and losses
ca 300 men killed,
1 ship of the line lost
11 killed,
28 wounded

The Naval Battle of Hyères Islands was fought on 13 July 1795 off the Hyères Islands, a group of islands off the French Mediterranean coast, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of France's main naval base in the Mediterranean, Toulon. The battle was fought between the van of a British fleet chasing the French squadron, and the French rear. The rear-most French ship, Alcide, surrendered before exploding.

Context[edit]

After the Battle of Genoa at Cape Noli, and the capture of Ça Ira and Censeur, the damaged French fleet retreated to the Hyères Islands.

The Victoire, Timoléon, and HMS Berwick, as well as the frigates Alceste and Minerve were dispatched to Toulon for repairs, leaving the squadron with only 11 ships of the line.

On 4 April 1795, a squadron of six seventy-fours supported by four frigates, under Rear-admiral Renaudin, arrived from Brest after the Croisière du Grand Hiver.

In May, a mutiny broke out in the Toulon squadron, while Renaudin's ships remained loyal. Renaudin moored his ships at the entrance of Toulon road to cover the harbour against a possible English attack. Meanwhile, Conventional Deputy Joseph Niou, formerly a naval engineer, restored order by setting the sailors against the English, and having them pledge to "wash their crimes in the blood of the enemies of the Republic".

On 7 June, the French fleet set sail.

Battle[edit]

In the afternoon of the 7 July, HMS Agamemnon made contact. By the evening, the French were in pursuit, and the next morning, Agamemnon signaled the British fleet by means of cannon fire. At 9:30, the 17-ship French squadron found the 22-ship Royal Navy squadron anchored in Fiorenzo bay, including six three-deckers.

Finding himself outnumbered and outgunned, Martin attempted to avoid battle by escaping to Fréjus bay, with the British giving chase. In the evening of the 12th, the British squadron received intelligence from two corvettes, HMS Flêche and HMS Cyclops, that the French were South of the Hyères Islands.

Contact was made again the next morning and the chase continued. The French squadron became becalmed and the rear guard was soon overtaken by the British van, comprising HMS Victory, HMS Culloden, and HMS Cumberland. Without assistance from the main body of the squadron, an artillery duel broke out, battering the rear-most French ship Alcide, damaging HMS Culloden's rigging, and almost de-masting HMS Victory. Despite the best efforts of her sister ships in the French line to protect her against overwhelming odds, Alcide struck her colours at 2:00 pm. The frigates Justice and Alceste attempted to take her in tow to safety, but were repelled by gunfire from HMS Victory.

As the main body of the French squadron prepared to intervene to rescue Alcide, a fire broke out on her fore-top. She was consumed by an explosion half an hour later, causing the loss of about 300 of her crew, while 300 survivors were rescued by the British squadron.

After the explosion of Alcide, the fighting died out, with the French retreating to Toulon and the British retreating to Leghorn, via San-Fiorenzo.

Orders of battle[edit]

French Fleet[edit]

Admiral Martin's squadron
Ship Guns Commander Notes
Orient 120 Vice-admiral Martin
Captain Lapalisse
Tonnant 80 Rear-admiral Delmotte
Captain Cosmao-Kerjulien
Victoire 80 Captain Savary
Généreux 74 Captain Louis
Heureux 74 Captain Lacaille
Barra 74 Captain Maureau
Guerrier 74 Captain Infernet Returned to harbour
Mercure 74 Captain Catteford Returned to harbour
Alcide 74 Captain Leblond Saint-Hilaire Burnt with the loss of 300 men
Timoléon 74 Captain Charbonnier
Duquesne 74 Captain Allemand
Peuple Souverain 74 Captain Lindet-Lalonde
Berwick 74 Captain Dumanoir Lepelley
Junon 32 Lieutenant Amand Leduc
Friponne Lieutenant Villeneuve[2]
Minerve 40 Lieutenant Delorme[3]
Artémise 32 Lieutenant Decasse[4]
Alceste Lieutenant Hubert
Sérieuse 32 Lieutenant Saunier[5]
Brune Ensign Deniéport[6][7]
Badine Lieutenant Testu[8]
Alerte Le Mèle
Hazard Dumay
Scout Dumeny
Source: Granier, p. 108
Admiral Renaudin's squadron
Ship Guns Commander Notes
Jemmapes 74 Rear-admiral Jean François Renaudin
Captain Laffon
Tyrannicide 74 Captain Dordelin
Jupiter 74 Captain Richery
Révolution 74 Captain Fay
Aquilon 74 Captain Laterre
Républicain 74 Captain Gantheaume
Justice 40 Captain Dalbarade
Alceste 36 Lieutenant Hubert
Embuscade 32 Lieutenant Émeriau
Félicité 32 Lieutenant Lecour
Source: Granier, p. 108

British-Neapolitan Fleet[edit]

Vice-Admiral William Hotham commanding
Ship Guns Commander Notes
Britannia 100 Vice-Admiral William Hotham
Captain John Holloway
Victory 100 Rear-Admiral Robert Mann
Captain John Knight
Princess Royal 98 Vice-Admiral Samuel Goodall
Captain John Purvis
St George 98 Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker
Captain Thomas Foley
Windsor Castle 98 Vice-Admiral Robert Linzee
Captain John Gore
Blenheim 90 Captain John Bazely
Gibraltar 80 Captain John Pakenham
Captain 74 Captain Samuel Reeve
Fortitude 74 Captain William Young
Bombay Castle 74 Captain Charles Chamberlayne
Saturn 74 Captain James Douglas
Cumberland 74 Captain Bartholomew Rowley
Terrible 74 Captain George Campbell
Defence 74 Captain Thomas Wells
Egmont 74 Captain John Sutton
Culloden 74 Captain Thomas Troubridge
Bedford 74 Captain Davidge Gould
Courageux 74 Captain Benjamin Hallowell
Audacious 74 Captain William Shield
Agamemnon 64 Commodore Horatio Nelson
Diadem 64 Captain Charles Tyler
Meleager 32 Captain George Cockburn
Cyclops 28 Captain William Hotham
Ariadne 24 Captain Robert Plampin
Comet 14
Eclair 20
Fleche 20 Commander Thomas Boys
Moselle 18 Commander Charles Brisbane
Mutine 12
Resolution cutter
Neapolitan Ships
Guiscardo 74
Sammbita 74

References[edit]

  1. ^ Les combats navals d'Alassio et des Iles d'Hyères (13 mars et 13 juillet 1795) (French)
  2. ^ Fonds Marine, p.80
  3. ^ Fonds Marine, p.133
  4. ^ Fonds Marine, p.131
  5. ^ Fonds Marine, p.137
  6. ^ Roche, p.88
  7. ^ Fonds Marine, p.81
  8. ^ Fonds Marine, p.132
  • Smith, D. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill Books, 1998.
  • Contre-amiral Hubert Granier, Histoire des marins français (1789–1815), Marines éditions, 1998

Coordinates: 43°00′00″N 6°18′17″E / 43.0000°N 6.3047°E / 43.0000; 6.3047