Battle of Saint Kitts

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The Battle of Saint Kitts, also known as the Battle of Frigate Bay, was a naval battle that took place on 25 and 26 January 1782 during the American Revolutionary War between a British fleet under Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and a larger French fleet under the Comte de Grasse.

Background[edit]

When Hood returned to the West Indies in late 1781 after the Battle of the Chesapeake, he was for a time in independent command owing to Rodney's absence in England. The French Admiral, the Comte de Grasse, attacked the British islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, with 7000 troops and 50 warships, including the 110 gun Ville de Paris. He started by besieging the British fortress on Brimstone Hill on 11 Jan. 1782. Hood hoping to salvage, the situation made for St Kitts, departing Antigua on 22 Jan. with 22 ships of the line compared to De Grasse's 36.[4]

Action[edit]

Battle of St Kitts by Thomas Maynard

The British fleet on 24 January consisted of twenty-two sail of the line, and was close off the south-east end of Nevis. They ran into and captured the French 16-gun cutter Espion which carried a large amount of ammunition for the besieging French forces at Brimstone Hill.

At daybreak on 25 January, the French fleet was discovered having stood to the southward of Basseterre, consisting of one 110 gun ship, twenty-eight two-decked ships, and two frigates. Hood stood towards the French fleet with the apparent intention of bringing on action, and effectively drew the French fleet off the land. No sooner had Hood effected this maneuver he was aided by a favourable change in wind and was able to guide his fleet within the anchorage of Basseterre, which the French admiral had just quit. Hood ordered his fleet in an L formation and then ordered his fleet to lay anchor. Comte de Grasse, in frustration made three distinct and vigorous attacks upon the British fleet on 26 January but was repulsed with great damage to his ships.[2]

The Pluton, commanded by D'Albert de Rions, lead the French line, "receiving the crashing broadside of ship after ship until the splintered planking flew from her off side and her rigging hung in a tangled mass." Chauvent goes on to describe the battle as "...a sulphurous hell, with cannon vomiting forth flame and death." The entire battle lasted from 7 AM to 6:30 PM, with the major action in the afternoon.[4]:97

Aftermath[edit]

Damages on both sides were heavy, though the French suffered higher casualties. However, Hood was unable to stop the French and could only observe the land action. After the successful French siege of Brimstone Hill fortress, St. Kitts and Nevis surrendered on 12 February.[4]:96-100

Hood left on the 14th and joined forces with the recently arrived Admiral George Rodney.

Order of battle[edit]

Britain[edit]

Admiral Sir Samuel Hood's fleet
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Van
HMS St Albans Third rate 64 Captain Charles Inglis
0
0
0
HMS Alcide Third rate 74 Captain Charles Thompson
2
4
6
HMS Intrepid Third rate 64 Captain Anthony James Pye Molloy
2
0
2
HMS Torbay Third rate 74 Captain Lewis Gedoin
0
0
0
HMS Princessa Third rate 70 Rear-Admiral Francis Samuel Drake
Captain Charles Knatchbull
2
4
6
Flagship of van
HMS Prince George Second rate 98 Captain James Williams
1
3
4
HMS Ajax Third rate 74 Captain Nicholas Charrington
1
12
13
Centre
HMS Prince William Third rate 64 Captain George Wilkinson
0
3
3
HMS Shrewsbury Third rate 74 Captain John Knight
3
7
10
HMS Invincible Third rate 74 Captain Charles Saxton
0
2
2
HMS Barfleur Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood
Captain Alexander Hood
9
24
33
Flagship of centre
HMS Monarch Third rate 74 Captain Francis Reynolds
2
2
4
HMS Belliqueux Third rate 64 Captain Lord Cranstoun
5
7
12
HMS Centaur Third rate 74 Captain John Nicholson Inglefield
0
12
12
HMS Alfred Third rate 74 Captain William Bayne
2
20
2
Rear
HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain Henry Edwyn Stanhope
8
29
37
HMS Resolution Third rate 74 Captain Lord Robert Manners
5
11
16
HMS Bedford Third rate 74 Rear Admiral Edmund Affleck
Captain Thomas Graves
2
15
17
Flagship of Rear
HMS Canada Third rate 74 Captain William Cornwallis
1
12
13
HMS Prudent Third rate 64 Captain Andrew Barclay
18
36
54
HMS Montagu Third rate 74 Captain George Bowen
7
23
30
HMS America Third rate 64 Captain Samuel Thompson
1
17
18
Attached frigates
Van
HMS Eurydice Sixth rate 20 Captain George Wilson
0
0
0
Centre
HMS Pegasus Sixth rate 28 Captain John Stanhope
0
0
0
HMS Fortunee Sixth rate 28 Captain Hugh Cloberry Christian
0
0
0
HMS Lizard Sixth rate 28 Captain Edmund Dod
0
0
0
HMS Champion Sixth rate 20 Captain Thomas Wells
1
1
2
To repeat signals
HMS Convert Fifth rate 32 Captain Henry Harvey
0
0
0
HMS Triton Sixth rate 28 Captain John M’Lawrin
0
0
0
Rear
HMS Sibyl Sixth rate 28 Captain John Norton
0
0
0
HMS Solebay Sixth rate 28 Captain Charles Everitt
0
0
0
Total recorded casualties: 72 killed, 244 wounded
Source: Isaac Schomberg's Naval Chronology, pp. 396–7, The London Gazette, 9 March 1782.[5]

France[edit]

Admiral the Comte de Grasse's fleet
Ship Guns Commander Fate
Ville de Paris 104 François Joseph Paul de Grasse
M. La Velleon
Auguste 80 Louis Antoine de Bougainville
Duc de Bourgogne 80 M. Espinouse
Couronne 80 Claude Mithon de Genouilly
Languedoc 80 M. d'Arros
Magnanime 74 Comte l'Basque
Northumberland 74 M de St. Cezaire
Pluton 74 M. d'Albert de Rions
Glorieux 74 Comte d'Escars
César 74 M. de Marigny
Hercule 74 M. la Clochetterie
Zélé 74 Chev. Gras Preville
Palmier 74 M. de Mortilly
Hector 74 M. le Vicomte
Souverain 74 M. de la Glendevis
Conquérant 74 M. de la Grandiere
Sceptre 74 Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil
Citoyen 74 Comte d'Ethy
Destin 74 M. de Goimpy
Neptune 74 M. Destouches
Bourgogne 74 M. Champmartin
Dauphin Royal 70 M. Montpereux
Marseillais 74 Henri-César de Castellane Majastre[6]
Diadème 74
Éveillé 64 Comte Tilly
Réfléchi 64 Chev. de Boades
Jason 64 Chev. de Villages
Ardent 64 M. Groullon
Caton 64 Comte Fremont
Source: Isaac Schomberg's Naval Chronology, p. 398

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jaques, Hood arrived and repulsed de Grasse with victory at sea off Basseterre p. 881
  2. ^ a b Allen p. 325
  3. ^ Marly p. 342
  4. ^ a b c Hubbard, Vincent (2002). A History of St. Kitts. Macmillan Caribbean. p. 95-96. ISBN 9780333747605. 
  5. ^ "No. 12277". The London Gazette. 9 March 1782. pp. 3–4. 
  6. ^ Batailles navales de la France, Onésime-Joachim Troude, Challamel ainé, 1867, vol.2, p. 215

References[edit]

Coordinates: 17°09′N 62°35′W / 17.150°N 62.583°W / 17.150; -62.583