Talk:Action of 13 January 1797

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Featured article Action of 13 January 1797 is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on February 6, 2009.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 19, 2008 Good article nominee Listed
December 18, 2008 WikiProject peer review Reviewed
December 27, 2008 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article
WikiProject Military history (Rated FA-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions. Featured
Featured article FA This article has been rated as FA-Class on the quality assessment scale.

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Action of 13 January 1797/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

This is an interesting and well-written article. At times, I wasn't sure that the tone was encyclopedic; it can seem more like a story than an article. I wasn't sure whether to ask that this be dealt with, but I ultimately decided that I would just be asking you to make the article less engaging. That doesn't seem to be productive, so I only have a few concerns:

  1. There is inconsistency in the dates. Some are preceded by "the" while others are not. I would recommend not using "the", as this would make for better consistency with the article title.
This is still inconsistent, as it was a problem in several places throughout the article.

GaryColemanFan (talk) 20:57, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

I can't find any more (except the one in the title of the image, which is a direct quote), can you point them out?--Jackyd101 (talk) 10:17, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  1. "the men on the one the remained upright were forced to cut the rope" - I think the third "the" is supposed to be something else.
  1. "the waves stove in the stern of the ship" - is there another word for "stove" that would help make the article more accesible?
Can't think of one, what's wrong with stove?--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:53, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
It's not one that most people use. I can't remember hearing or seeing it in the past decade.

GaryColemanFan (talk) 20:57, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

I can't think of another word. To be honest, stove is acceptable in any nautical publication, used in nautical circles (among others) and I use it myself fairly frequently. I really don't see why it is a problem.--Jackyd101 (talk) 10:17, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  1. Are there no free references available that could be used in addition to the subscription ones (ie. other sites that give the same information)?
Other than the two free sources already present (24 & 35), no.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:53, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
I have read through Wikipedia:Verifiability, and I believe that this is fine, as the information is not one-sided, contentious, about a living person, or relied upon for the bulk of the article's information.
  1. The online references are formatted in a strange way. For example, is Colpoys or Laughton the author of reference 4? I recommend using Template:Cite web and Template:Cite journal for the online references.
Colpoys is in the article, he was an admiral of the period. Laughton is a noted historian (as explained at his link) and thus the author of the dictionary entry.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:53, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
I would still like to see them formatted more consistently with other articles, and I think that the templates I mentioned are the best way. GaryColemanFan (talk) 20:57, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
I've done it.
  1. It might be nice to have the images staggered left-right rather than all along the right margin. Some editors don't like the staggering, though, and the Manual of Style only says that they "can" be staggered, not that they must.
I usually do stagger them, but never after a heading as I feel a heading should always be directly followed by text. All these images come under headings and so I have chosen to put them on the right.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:53, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
On second thoughts, I have moved one.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:37, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

I will place this nomination on hold to allow these concerns to be addressed and/or discussed. Any questions or comments can e left here, as I have placed this page on my watchlist. Best wishes, GaryColemanFan (talk) 20:14, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

I think I have dealt with your concerns, but I'm not really sure what you mean by "it can seem more like a story than an article", can't it be both? To me that is the definition of excyclopedic text. Are there any points that you feel are inappropriate? Thanks for the review.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:53, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the note on the talk page and thanks for catching those problems. 1) my mistake, I copied the formatting and must have forgotten to change one of the dates 2)a mistake I copied from the image description file here. As the date is obviously incorrect, I have deleted it.--Jackyd101 (talk) 22:41, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

As for the "story" comment, I didn't phrase it well. The article is well-written, and it is very engaging. Perhaps that is what I meant to say — I've reviewed 33 nominations this month, and this one stands out as the most interesting and detailed prose. All things considered, though, I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

I am promoting the article, as I believe that it meets all six of the GA criteria. Congratulations! GaryColemanFan (talk) 23:20, 19 October 2008 (UTC)


This article had {{coord|47|56|29|N|-3|86|76|E }} for its location, which is wrong in a couple of ways. I changed the longitude numbers to the equivalent location,
47°56′29″N 4°27′16″W / 47.94139°N 4.45444°W / 47.94139; -4.45444, but maybe it was intended to be decimal degrees,
47°33′46″N 3°52′03″W / 47.5629°N 3.8676°W / 47.5629; -3.8676 (=47°33′46″N 3°52′03″W / 47.5629°N 3.8676°W / 47.5629; -3.8676)?
—WWoods (talk) 22:37, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm confused. Using the first two sets of coordinates there in conjunction with google maps, one finds oneself in the correct location, in Audierne Bay near Plovezet. Using the second two, one finds oneself much too far south. What is the problem here?--Jackyd101 (talk) 23:36, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Sometimes I see articles in which someone has interpreted decimal-degree coordinates as degree-minute-second coordinates; I wondered if 3°86'76" had started as 3°.8676. Apparentely not; good!
—WWoods (talk) 00:43, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Invasion vs Liberation[edit]

Please change the wording to Liberation of Ireland. To anyone who's not British it meant liberating Ireland from British oppresor. LV —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:52, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

We call it the Allied Invasion of Normandy to liberate Europe. An invasion is when foreign troops land on another territory. The aim may (or may not) have been liberation, but the action was invasion. Dabbler (talk) 03:01, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Liberation of Ireland is not only rather POV, (hence the more descriptive "invasion", as mentioned above), its also more tenuous. Although portions of the Irish population might have been more "free" after the French invasion, the French clearly intended to remain in Ireland (indeed, they would have had to, in order to protect the Irish (whose armies were untrained and without a clear command structure) from an immediate British counter invasion). The amount of "independance" even that proportion of the Irish population which would have welcomed an invasion might have experienced is open to significant debate.--Jackyd101 (talk) 12:05, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
"Liberation" is inherently POV because it assumes that the British are oppressors and there are people who are British. Even the more generally-used term "Liberation of Europe" in World War II is POV. Brutannica (talk) 20:35, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Droits de l'Homme[edit]

If I understand correctly, this article says that the engagement resulted "in the death of over 900 of the 1,300 persons aboard" Droits de l'Homme. French ship Droits de l'Homme (1794) however says that "between 250 and 390 men died in the wreck" and that its complement was "3 officers + 690 men". Would someone correct this inconsistency? -M.Nelson (talk) 03:14, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

The regular crew of the ship was probably around 690, though I would have thought that she would have had many more than 3 officers, a British ship of the same size would have had nearer 8-10 commissioned officers and a good number number of warrant officers and midshipmen.
In addition to the regular crew though, she carried a large number of soldiers from the invasion force which accounts for the discrepancy in numbers of people aboard. The ship was on its side stranded on a sandbank just offshore and the crew was basically hanging on to the hull, some being washed overboard and drowned and many died of exposure. People died over four days before the weather abated and boats were able to come to their rescue. The figure of 900 comes from a British prisoner Lieutenant Pipon who survived, other authorities suggest that this may have been a high figure and the actual number of deaths was less. However, most would say that the figure of French dead in the whole episode, including the battle was significantly higher than 390 rather than as low as 250. Dabbler (talk) 03:57, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Good explanation. I would also add that French sources describe approximately 300 survivors and 1,300 were estimated to be aboard at the time (including soldiers, as described above), making a likely total of 1,000 deaths in all.--Jackyd101 (talk) 12:01, 6 February 2009 (UTC)


Somebody changed the article today from being about a battle between 1 French and 2 British ships to an entire French fleet and 200 British ships, without fixing the grammar. I suspect vandalism, but subsequent minor edits have made it impossible to revert that change. Can somebody please fix?

This page keeps getting vandalized. Now it says the battle was between a croissant and two hundred scones.TheHammer24 (talk) 14:49, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah, yes, the great Pastry Wars. -- (talk) 14:10, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Is the correct number 2 or 2 hundred? The page, after being restored due to vandalism, still lists two hundred. The correct answer is likely 2.TheHammer24 (talk) 14:54, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

It should now be correct and consistent with the rest of the article - 1 French Warship, 2 British frigates. The former and one of the latter were lost in the engagement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:58, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Commanded by Lord Byron[edit]

I don't know anything of the history of this event, but I'm absoutely certain I've found a pretty mistake in what should be a perfect article.

The incident took place in 1796, the fleet that normally guarded the area was commanded by Lord Byron. The particular Lord Byron the article links to (the Romantic poet), would have still been a young child at this time. Perhaps the article means his father? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:45, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

HMS Amazing??[edit]

I agree with the previous poster's reference to article vandalism. Mention is made in this article of HMS Amazing--this is almost certainly a reference to HMS Amazon. Can somebody please fix this problem and also copy edit the entire article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:05, 6 February 2009 (UTC)


It says that Pellew "took his remaining squadron to Falmouth to telegraph a report." This is ambiguous; most people think of an electric wire telegraph like Samuel Morse's when they read the word "telegraph," which wouldn't have been invented yet. I assume this means Pellew used a semaphore? If so, the article should mention that to avoid confusion. Pirate Dan (talk) 15:39, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

I think this is just a usage of 'to telegraph' in the sense of 'broadcast' or 'remote message' - probably meaning a semaphore. In modern usage as you say it tends to imply an electric telegraph, in contemporary usage it was closer to the literal meaning of the word. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:44, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

A system called shutter telegraph was used from 1795 by the British Admiralty to communicate between London and Portsmouth. I don't know if it extended to Falmouth. This was replaced by semaphore arms which were easier to see in 1821. There are still hills on the routes called Telegraph Hill. A message from Falmouth may still have needed fast horses for part of the way.--Charles (talk) 17:40, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Very well, then, it sounds like the exact method Pellew used is uncertain (but was not a semaphore). Maybe a change to "sent word to Falmouth," would avoid confusing modern readers? Pirate Dan (talk) 20:19, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, forgot to get back on this. Henderson is quite insistent that Pellew communicated with the Admiralty from Falmouth via "semaphore telegraph" (p. 21).--Jackyd101 (talk) 22:53, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the article Semaphore line, I see that a shutter telegraph is also classed as a kind of semaphore; I didn't know that. So I propose changing the line to "took his squadron to Falmouth, sent a report to the Admiralty by semaphore telegraph, and refitted his ships." Interested or confused readers can click on the semaphore link, and everybody else can get on with the article. Pirate Dan (talk) 18:52, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good to me.--Jackyd101 (talk) 21:13, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

How did they maintain contact?[edit]

To me, one of the most remarkable things about this battle is that Pellew was able to maintain contact with Lacrosse - who wanted to avoid him, according to the article - throughout the battle, even though it should have been pitch dark from the first shot to the last. By 1730 hours, in January, the sun would already have set in the North Atlantic, right? The conclusion mentions something about alternating moonlight and darkness. Moonlight? In a driving gale? I'd like to see some discussion of why Lacrosse wasn't able to escape under cover of night. Pirate Dan (talk) 15:45, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Once engaged, Lacrosse would've had trouble breaking off from the faster Frigates. Also, at the onset he probably did not consider himself outmatched and so had no intention of disengaging (I believe the article refers to attempts to open the lower ports - which if possible would've had the French outgunning Indefatigable alone).

In the driving gale it's plausible that there were breaks in cloud cover sufficient (beyond the muzzle flashes) to spot by moonlight.

From that point onwards it was an example of great seamanship on the part of Pellew and his compatriots as they were able to disengage twice for repairs, without losing contact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:41, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Broken image[edit]

The temporary, protected copy of the image Droits de lHomme sinking.jpg is truncated meaning that the bottom portion of the image is missing: Commons has the full image. CrispMuncher (talk) 18:11, 6 February 2009 (UTC)


Thankyou very much to those that kept an eye on this article and dealt with the almost constant vandalism the article suffered during its day on the main page (I was very busy and so was unable to do more than a cursory check every now and then). I have run through the changes and incorporated those that improved the article and repaired the vandalism that slipped through (not to mention one or two questionable copyedits). The efforts of those who watched or genuinely tried to improve the article are mush appreciated.--Jackyd101 (talk) 02:04, 7 February 2009 (UTC)


I tagged a sentence with dubious; basically the detail of intentionally moving the squadron 40km off shore is not supported by the national biography citation; it doesn't specify a distance and states its unknown whether or not it was intentional. I'm guessing with access to the sources this is easily fixed. Thanks! Kirk (talk) 17:44, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Parkinson in his "Life of Exmouth" suggests far less creditable motives for Colpoys' absence, but I don't think that he gives much evidence either. Dabbler (talk) 18:53, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, how odd. I know I got that information from somewhere, I just can't remember where. I have found a source that puts Colpys 40km offshore, but not one addressing his motives. I'll keep looking for another day or two and if I can't find it I'll refactor that sentance to reflect what I can find. I honestly can't remember how / why I did this, must have been tired and put down the wrong source or missed one out or something. Sorry.--Jackyd101 (talk) 20:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Right, other sources seem to (vaguely) say that Colpoys chose to withdraw offshore, although they do not give his motives. Although what was written in the article is the only explanantion, since it is not given in the sources I have located, I have rephrased the sentance and added two other sources that cover this action. I am sure I did read the original sentance in another source (not verbatim obviously), but I cannot now locate it. I have also removed the dubious tag. Hopefully this clears up the problem, regards --Jackyd101 (talk) 23:12, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Deaths on the ship[edit]

This article says 900 drowned, but on French ship Droits de l'Homme (1794) it says 250-390. What's the actual figure? Is the other article wrong? --AW (talk) 05:34, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

The ship article doesn't give a source, while in this article a reliable (if occassionally over-patriotic) British history gives the figure of 900. In the source this was reached by subtracting the number of survivors (c. 300) and the number killed in the battle (103) from the overall number of men on the ship when it left port (c. 1300) which wouldn't have changed much in the intervening weeks. Hope this clears it up.--Jackyd101 (talk) 10:10, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Some inaccuracies[edit]


I have fixed some inaccuracies on the fr: article, but the same are on this article :

  • It is doubtfull that the french chip was drove on the shore by the frigates : ships did not know where they were and where shore was (as said in 'Shipwrecks'); frigates could not push a ship of the line full of soldiers that was trying ram them (as said in second § of 'Battle'); none of the books I have read said the wreck was deliberate; lastly, this coast is known to be dangerous and it is not suprising that two of the three boats wrecked during a beginning of a tempest.
  • The 900 casulaties is by far the most optimistic (or pessimistic, depending your country :)) I have read. The text on the Menhir (see the french article), engraved by an english survivor, indicates 600 deaths; the engraved tombstone (1937) where corpses remain indicates 400 deaths; the report of the commodore Lacrosse indicates 400 deaths as well (as many of survivors stood in the hull).

As I am not skilled enough to fix cleanly the en: article, I hope someone will do it. Deep silence (talk) 10:13, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Some of your concerns may be due to a misunderstanding of the English language. A ship is often said to be driven on shore when she is put in a position that she is unable to sail clear of the shore. The intent was to damage the ship and prevent her escape so that she ended up on the shore. In the process Amazon also was driven ashore. However, later in the article the details of how they came ashore is given.
As for the casualties, this is sourced to a history book, rather than grave markers and memorials carved many years after the event and is based on the number of original crew and troops aboard less the number rescued. Dabbler (talk) 00:10, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification of the first point. I still think the causalties are somewhat wrong: the 400 figure can be sourced with history books as well. These books are based on the C. Lacrosse's report and do the same substraction, except that the number of rescued varies :
  • 154 joined the shore by rafts,
  • 100 were rescued by several Longboats on jan. 17,
  • 300 rescued by the aiguille the same day
  • 150 rescued by the arrogante on jan. 18
  • then the last 200 by the aiguille the same day
I think anyway that explaining in the article that the casualties number varies depending the source would be better (this is what has been done on the french article, that still indicates the 900 causualties with the en: source, amoung other figures). Deep silence (talk) 10:22, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
Ihave tried to excerpt from the French article some of the figures to indicate the variance in death toll numbers. Dabbler (talk) 15:27, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks a lot. Deep silence (talk) 09:12, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

[Rights of Man] firepower[edit]

From the "Battle" §:

In fact the French ship was totally unable to open her lower deck gunports during the action: an unusual design feature had the ports 14 inches (36 cm) lower than was normal and as a result the sea poured in at any attempt to open them, preventing any gunnery at all from the lower deck and halving the ship's firepower. [emphasis added]

Unfortunately I don't have access to the work cited here, but this feels a bit vague: are we discussing the number of guns, or the weight of the broadside? --User:Badger151 -- (talk) 19:37, 13 January 2016 (UTC) The above edit was made by me, when not logged in --Badger151 (talk) 02:20, 17 January 2016 (UTC)