French frigate Harmonie (1796)

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Name: Harmonie
Builder: Bordeaux [1][2]
Laid down: May 1794 [1]
Launched: early 1796 [1]
Completed: May 1796 [1]
Fate: Beached and burnt to avoid capture by the British Navy in April 1797
General characteristics
Class and type: Virginie class frigate
Displacement: 720 tons (French)
Length: 47.4 m (156 ft)
Beam: 11.9 m (39 ft)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft)
Armament: 44 guns
Armour: Timber

Harmonie was a 40-gun Virginie class frigate of the French Navy. Her crew scuttled her on 17 March 1797 to avoid having the Royal Navy capture her.


On 7 June 1796, Harmonie departed Rochefort to ferry weapons and ammunition to Cap-Français, under Captain Joshua Barney.[Note 1] She then cruised in the Caribbean between Havana and Chesapeake Bay, returning to Cap-Français on 17 October.[3][4] Lieutenant Simon Billiette took command of Harmonie on 19 August 1796; he was promoted to Commander on 22 September.[5][Note 2]

In April 1797, Harmonie was ordered to escort a convoy of merchantmen waiting in Jean-Rabel. She departed Cap Français but on 16 April the ships of the line HMS Thunderer and HMS Valiant intercepted her. In the ensuing Battle of Jean-Rabel, Harmonie sought refugee in the shallow waters off le Marigot, and the ships of the line departed after firing on her with little effect for several hours.[6] The next day, however, the ships returned, and the crew of Harmonie, seeing her hopelessly cornered, scuttled her by fire.[7][8] Billiette sustained two wounds at the left leg.[5]

On 20 April, the British ships captured most of the convoy that Harmonie had been tasked to escort.[7] Billiette was court-martialled for the destruction of his frigate, and on 26 April 1798 found innocent of the loss of the ship.[5]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]

  1. ^ Barney was an American naval officer in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Between 1796 and 1802 he served in the French Navy.
  2. ^ Billiette was also called "Billiet" (Quintin, p.69)
  1. ^ a b c d Roche, p.237
  2. ^ Demerliac, p.69, no 373
  3. ^ Fonds Marine, p.153
  4. ^ Fonds Marine, p.178.
  5. ^ a b c Quintin, p.70
  6. ^ Troude, p.64
  7. ^ a b Troude, p.65
  8. ^ Fonds Marine, p.192