Order of battle at the Glorious First of June

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The sinking of the Vengeur du Peuple,
engraving by P. Ozanne

The Glorious First of June, (known in France as Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 and sometimes called Third Battle of Ushant) of 1794 was the first and largest naval action between the French and British fleets during the French Revolutionary Wars. The action was fought over 400 miles (640 km) west of Ushant, the most Western point on Britanny in France, deep in the Atlantic Ocean. The British fleet under Lord Howe was attempting to defeat a French fleet under Villaret de Joyeuse which was in turn attempting to lure Howe away from a grain convoy destined for France from the United States.[1] The future of the French Revolution depended on this 117 strong convoy which would save France from famine if it arrived safely. Ultimately, both admirals were successful in their ambitions; Howe defeated Villaret in open battle and took seven of his ships. Villaret managed to occupy Howe for long enough and inflict sufficient damage that the convoy escaped unscathed.[2]

Although the campaign was decided by a final major action, May 1794 saw both fleets at sea with several subordinate squadrons, both admirals conducting a complicated series of convoy, commerce raiding and fleet manoeuvre operations. Numerous merchant ships and small warships were taken or destroyed during the month-long campaign by both sides and there were also two partial fleet engagements as Howe and Villaret made first contact.[3] Both admirals suffered from wilful disobedience by a number of their officers during the battle, as well as confusion in reading signals which caused an uneven series of melees to break out rather than the unified battleline Howe had envisaged when planning the action.[4] Nevertheless, both commanders were highly praised on their return to their home ports and the battle was considered a success by both sides, with only a few dissenters amongst the naval establishments of both nations.[5]

Historians have had great trouble determining the exact dispositions of the French fleet and even more trouble assessing the casualties it suffered in the battle. During The Terror then raging in France, bureaucracy broke down and consequently records were patchy or non-existent. The French Navy was no exception and few ship's logs have survived, making an accurate order of battle difficult to discern.[6] Those estimates which are available are often the work of British naval officers at the battle whose accounts frequently differ.[7] Casualties too are almost impossible to establish exactly. French sources published after the battle give a figure of 3,000, but this number does not include those captured, which amounted to 3,500 alone. British estimates aboard captured ships alone are of 1,500 casualties and most historians agree that total French losses during the month-long campaign were around 7,000, as opposed to the British losses estimated at between 1,100 and 1,500.[8]

British fleet[edit]

28 May[edit]

Ships of Lord Howe's fleet engaged on 28 May
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain John Willett Payne 0 0 0
HMS Bellerophon Third rate 74 Rear-Admiral Thomas Pasley
Captain William Johnstone Hope
0 0 0 Damage to topmasts.
HMS Marlborough Third rate 74 Captain George Cranfield-Berkeley 0 0 0
HMS Thunderer Third rate 74 Captain Albemarle Bertie 0 0 0
HMS Leviathan Third rate 74 Captain Lord Hugh Seymour 0 0 0
HMS Audacious Third rate 74 Captain William Parker 3 19 22 Returned to Britain in a disabled state
Total casualties 3 killed, 19 wounded, 22 total

29 May[edit]

Ships of Lord Howe's fleet engaged on 29 May
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Caesar Third rate 80 Captain Anthony Molloy 3 19 22 Minor damage to rigging and hull
HMS Queen Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Alan Gardner
Captain John Hutt[9]
23 26 49 Extensive damage to masts, rigging and hull
HMS Royal George First rate 100 Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Hood
Captain William Domett
15 23 38 Minor damage to rigging and hull
HMS Invincible Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Pakenham 10 21 31 Minor damage to topmasts
HMS Royal Sovereign First rate 100 Vice-Admiral Thomas Graves
Captain Henry Nicholls
8 22 30
HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain John Willett Payne 0 0 0 Minor damage to rigging and hull.
HMS Orion Third rate 74 Captain John Thomas Duckworth 3 0 3 Minor damage to rigging.
HMS Ramillies Third rate 74 Captain Henry Harvey 3 0 3 Minor damage to rigging.
HMS Defence Third rate 74 Captain James Gambier 1 3 4 Minor damage to rigging
HMS Majestic Third rate 74 Captain Charles Cotton 1 13 14 Minor damage to rigging.
HMS Queen Charlotte First rate 100 Admiral Lord Howe
Captain Sir Roger Curtis
Captain Sir Andrew Snape Douglas
1 0 1 Minor damage to rigging.
Total casualties 68 killed, 130 wounded, 198 total

1 June[edit]

Lord Howe's fleet on the Glorious First of June
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Caesar Third rate 80 Captain Anthony Molloy 14 53 67
HMS Bellerophon Third rate 74 Rear-Admiral Thomas Pasley
Captain William Johnstone Hope
4 27 31 Extensive damage to masts and rigging.
HMS Leviathan Third rate 74 Captain Lord Hugh Seymour 11 32 43
HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain John Willett Payne 8 26 34
HMS Royal Sovereign First rate 100 Vice-Admiral Thomas Graves
Captain Henry Nicholls
14 44 58 Damage to masts and rigging
HMS Marlborough Third rate 74 Captain George Cranfield-Berkeley 29 80 109 Totally dismasted
HMS Defence Third rate 74 Captain James Gambier 17 36 53 Totally dismasted.
HMS Impregnable Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Benjamin Caldwell
Captain George Blagdon Westcott
7 24 31 Damage to masts and rigging.
HMS Tremendous Third rate 74 Captain James Pigott 3 8 11
HMS Barfleur Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral George Bowyer
Captain Cuthbert Collingwood
9 25 34
HMS Invincible Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Pakenham 4 10 14
HMS Culloden Third rate 74 Captain Isaac Schomberg 2 5 7
HMS Gibraltar Third rate 80 Captain Thomas Mackenzie 2 12 14
HMS Queen Charlotte First rate 100 Admiral Lord Howe
Captain Sir Roger Curtis
Captain Sir Andrew Snape Douglas
13 29 42 Extensive damage to masts and rigging.
HMS Brunswick Third rate 74 Captain John Harvey
Lieutenant William Edward Cracraft
45 114 159 Lost mizenmast, extensive damage to remaining masts and rigging.
HMS Valiant Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Pringle 2 9 11
HMS Orion Third rate 74 Captain John Thomas Duckworth 2 24 26 Minor damage to masts and rigging
HMS Queen Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Alan Gardner 14 40 54 Lost mainmast, damage to remaining masts and rigging
HMS Ramillies Third rate 74 Captain Henry Harvey 2 7 9
HMS Alfred Third rate 74 Captain John Bazely 0 8 8
HMS Montagu Third rate 74 Captain James Montagu 4 13 17
HMS Royal George First rate 100 Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Hood
Captain William Domett
5 49 54 Lost foremast, damage to remaining masts and rigging.
HMS Majestic Third rate 74 Captain Charles Cotton 2 5 7
HMS Glory Second rate 98 Captain John Elphinstone 13 39 52 Severe damage to masts and rigging
HMS Thunderer Third rate 74 Captain Albemarle Bertie 0 0 0
Support ships
HMS Phaeton Fifth rate 38 Captain William Bentinck 3 5 8
HMS Latona Fifth rate 38 Captain Edward Thornbrough 0 0 0
HMS Niger Fifth rate 36 Captain Arthur Kaye Legge 0 0 0
HMS Southampton Fifth rate 36 Captain Robert Forbes 0 0 0
HMS Venus Fifth rate 36 Captain William Brown 0 0 0
HMS Aquilon Fifth rate 36 Captain Robert Stopford 0 0 0
HMS Pegasus Sixth rate 28 Captain Robert Barlow 0 0 0
HMS Charon Hospital ship - Captain George Countess - - -
HMS Comet Fireship 14 Commander William Bradley - - -
HMS Incendiary Fireship 14 Commander John Cooke - - -
HMS Kingfisher Sloop 18 Captain Thomas Le Marchant Gosseyln - - -
HMS Rattler Cutter 16 Lieutenant John Winne 0 0 0
HMS Ranger Cutter 16 Lieutenant Charles Cotgrave 0 0 0
Total casualties 229 killed, 724 wounded, 953 total

Attached squadrons[edit]

Admiral Montagu's squadron
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Hector Third rate 74 Rear-Admiral George Montagu
Captain Lawrence Halstead
- - -
HMS Alexander Third rate 74 Captain Richard Rodney Bligh - - -
HMS Ganges Third rate 74 Captain William Truscott - - -
HMS Colossus Third rate 74 Captain Charles Pole - - - Attached on 4 June.
HMS Bellona Third rate 74 Captain George Wilson - - -
HMS Theseus Third rate 74 Captain Robert Calder - - -
HMS Arrogant Third rate 74 Captain Richard Lucas - - -
HMS Minotaur Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Louis - - - Attached on 4 June.
HMS Ruby Third rate 64 Captain Sir Richard Bickerton - - - Attached on 4 June.
HMS Pallas Fifth rate 32 Captain Henry Curzon - - -
HMS Concorde Fifth rate 36 Captain Sir Richard Strachan - - -
Captain Rainier's convoy escort
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Suffolk Third rate 74 Captain Peter Rainier - - - Ordered to Madras
HMS Sampson Third rate 64 - - - Detached to Saint Helena
HMS Centurion Fourth rate 50 Captain Samuel Osborne - - - Ordered to Madras
HMS Resistance Fifth Rate 44 Captain Edward Pakenham - - - Ordered to Madras
HMS Argo Fifth Rate 44 - - - Detached to Saint Helena
HMS Orpheus Fifth Rate 32 Captain Henry Newcome - - - Ordered to Madras
HMS Swift Sloop 14 - - - Ordered to Madras
Source: Parkinson, p. 68

French fleet[edit]

28 May[edit]

Ships of Villaret de Joyeuse's fleet engaged on 28 May
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Révolutionnaire First rate 110 Captain Vaudangel[10] ~400 Returned to France in a disabled state
Audacieux Third rate 74 Captain Pilastre[10] - - - Returned to France with Révolutionnaire
Although other ships were engaged during the action, their names and details are unknown.

29 May[edit]

Ships of Villaret de Joyeuse's fleet engaged on 29 May
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Montagnard Third rate 74 Captain Jean-Baptiste-François Bompard[10] Unknown Badly damaged, attached to Vanstabel's squadron.
Éole Third rate 74 Captain Bertrand Keranguen

Captain Bruix [10]

Unknown
Terrible First rate 110 Captain Pierre-Jacques Longer

Captain Bouvet[10]

Unknown
Tyrannicide Third rate 74 Captain Alain-Joseph Dordelin Unknown
Indomptable Third rate 80 Captain Lamesle
Captain Nielly[10]
Unknown Returned to France in a disabled state.
Mont Blanc ?[11] Third rate 74 Captain Thévenard - - - Returned to France with Indomptable.
Although other ships were engaged during the action, their names and details are unknown.

1 June[edit]

Vanguard (Rear-Admiral Bouvet)
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Convention Third rate 74 Captain Allary[10] Unknown
Gasparin Third rate 74 Captain Tardy[10] Unknown
America Third rate 74 Captain L'Héritier 134 110 244 Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently HMS Impétueux.
Téméraire Third rate 74 Captain Morel[10] Unknown Attached from Nielly's squadron
Terrible First rate 110 Rear-Admiral Bouvet
Captain Longer[Note 1]
Unknown Lost main and mizen masts.
Impétueux Third rate 74 Captain Douville   100 85 185 Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently destroyed in a dockyard fire.
Mucius Third rate 74 Captain Lareguy [10] Unknown Totally dismasted.
Éole Third rate 74 Captain Bertrand Keranguen  Unknown
Tourville Third rate 74 Captain Langlois[10] Unknown
Précieuse Frigate 32 Unknown
Naïade Brig-Corvette 16 Unknown
Ships ordered by position in the line of battle (Guérin, vol.6, p. 503-504)
Battle corps (Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse)
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Trajan Third rate 74 Captain Dumoutier[10] Unknown Attached from Nielly's squadron.
Tyrannicide Third rate 74 Captain Dordelin Unknown Extensive damage to masts and rigging.
Juste Third rate 80 Captain Blavet 100 145 245 Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently HMS Juste
Montagne First rate 120 Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse
Représentant en mission Jean Bon Saint-André
Flag Captain Bazire 
Captain Vignot[10]
~300
Jacobin Third rate 80 Captain Gassin Unknown
Achille Third rate 74 Captain La Villegris 36 60 66 Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently dismantled.
Northumberland Third rate 74 Captain Étienne 60 100 160 Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently dismantled.
Vengeur du Peuple Third rate 74 Captain Renaudin[10] ~200-600 Captured but sank due to severe damage.
Patriote Third rate 74 Captain Lacadou[10] Unknown Attached from Nielly's squadron.
Proserpine Frigate 38 Unknown
Tamise Frigate 32 Unknown
Papillon Corvette 12 Unknown
Ships ordered by position in the line of battle (Guérin, vol.6, p. 503-504)
Rear guard
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Entreprenant Third rate 74 Captain Lefranq[10] Unknown
Neptune Third rate 74 Captain Tiphaine[10] Unknown
Jemmappes Third rate 74 Captain Desmartis

Captain Le Roy[10]

Unknown Totally dismasted.
Trente-et-un-Mai Third rate 74 Captain Ganteaume[10] Unknown Attached to fleet 31 May.
Extensive damage to masts and rigging.
Républicain First rate 110 Rear-Admiral Nielly
Captain Lebeau
Captain Louger[10]
Unknown Totally dismasted.
Sans Pareil Third rate 80 Captain Courand[12] 260 120 380 Attached from Nielly's squadron.
Totally dismasted.
Captured, subsequently HMS Sans Pareil.
Scipion Third rate 80 Captain Huguet[10] 64 151 215 Totally dismasted.
Pelletier Third rate 74 Captain Berrade
Captain Raillard[10]
Unknown
Galathée Frigate 32 Unknown
Gentille Frigate 32 Unknown
Ships ordered by position in the line of battle (Guérin, vol.6, p. 503-504)

Attached squadrons[edit]

Admiral Vanstabel's convoy escort
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Jean-Bart Third rate 74 Rear-Admiral Pierre Vanstabel - - -
Tigre Third rate 74 - - -
Embuscade frigate 32 Lieutenant Maurice-Julien Emeriau - - -
Vanstabel's squadron was accompanied by one more frigate and a brig.
Admiral Cornic's squadron
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Majestueux First rate 110 Rear-Admiral Pierre-François Cornic - - -
Aquilon Third rate 74 Captain Thevenaut[10] - - -
Jupiter Third rate 74 - - -
Marat Third rate 74 - - -
Nestor Third rate 74 - - -
Redoutable Third rate 74 - - -
Révolution Third rate 74 - - -
Superbe Third rate 74 - - -
Cornic's squadron was accompanied by two frigates, a corvette and a cutter.

The various French units patrolling in the Bay of Biscay kept in contact through a large number of frigates and smaller craft which passed messages between the commanders. This close contact enabled the French fleets to successfully divert the British away from the convoy. Due to the turbulent situation existing in France during 1794, accurate records regarding which frigates were with which fleet and which were present at which action do not exist. Thus only an incomplete listing of French support craft can be created, based mainly on those recognised and reported by British officers.[6]

Attached frigates
Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Bellone Fifth rate 36 - - -
Seine Fifth rate - - -
Tamise Fifth rate 32 Captain Jean-Marthe-Adrien L'Hermite - - - Present at the Glorious First of June.
Galathée Fifth rate 32 - - - Present at the Glorious First of June.
Républicaine ? Corvette 20 - - - Captured and burnt 27 May.
Inconnue Corvette 16 - - - Captured and burnt 27 May.

See also[edit]

Notes, citations and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Guérin lists captain Le Ray

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Tracy, p. 89
  2. ^ Padfield, p. 39
  3. ^ Padfield, p. 16
  4. ^ Gardiner, p. 39
  5. ^ James, p. 175
  6. ^ a b James, p. 147
  7. ^ Sources on the French order of battle are patchy and sometimes contradictory, the best for the entire campaign being in William James's The Naval History of Great Britain, Volume 1, 1793-1796. This source also provides the best available casualty data for both fleets and is the source on which this list is based. Other sources have backed up James in places but none are as complete. British dispositions, although taken from James, have been confirmed by several other sources
  8. ^ French losses have been estimated by various commentators and historians with some variation: N.A.M. Rodger gives 4,200 casualties and 3,300 captured; (Rodger, p. 430) Digby Smith gives 4,270 casualties and 3,254 captured; (Smith, p. 83) Padfield lists 3,500 casualties; (Padfield, p. 39) Gardiner 3,500 casualties and the same number captured. (Gardiner, p. 38) Saint-André gave 3,000 killed and wounded in his official dispatch and James assesses total French killed, wounded and captured as not less than 7,000. (James, p. 153) British casualty returns are easier to establish due to surviving records although there are discrepancies here too. The official total was 287 killed and 811 wounded during the campaign, whilst the individual ship totals listed in James do not add up to his eventual total of 1,148. (James, p. 152) Most sources agree however that the total casualty figure is approximately 1,200.
  9. ^ Captain Hutt was mortally wounded in the action and took no further part in the campaign. He died on 30 June in Spithead.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w
  11. ^ The ship originally named Mont Blanc was in fact called Trente-un-Mai by June 1794 due to renaming a few weeks previously and the French fleet did not possess a vessel of this name in May 1794. Thus, the ship departing with Indomptable was misidentified by British sources at the time and the true identity of this vessel is unclear, although it may have been Brutus, a 42–gun razé.
  12. ^ Guérin, vol.6, p.503-504

References[edit]