Battle of Guadeloupe (1779)

Last updated

Battle of Guadeloupe
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Date21–22 December 1779
Location 16°15′54″N61°33′3.6″W / 16.26500°N 61.551000°W / 16.26500; -61.551000 Coordinates: 16°15′54″N61°33′3.6″W / 16.26500°N 61.551000°W / 16.26500; -61.551000
Result British victory [1]
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France
Commanders and leaders
Naval Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Joshua Rowley Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg unknown
4 Ships of the line 3 Frigates
Casualties and losses
Light 3 frigates captured [2]

The Battle of Guadeloupe or the Action of 21–22 December 1779 was a naval engagement that took place off the French island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean during the American Revolutionary War between three Royal Navy ships and three French Navy frigates. [3] The Royal Navy under Joshua Rowley sighted and promptly chased the French frigates, all of which were captured after a brief fight. [4]



On 21 December 1779, HMS Magnificent along with the 74-gun ships of the line HMS Suffolk, HMS Vengeance, and the 64-gun HMS Stirling Castle under Rear-Admiral Joshua Rowley, sighted the 32-gun French frigates Fortunée and Blanche and the 28-gun Elise, off the French island of Guadeloupe. [2] The French ships had been part of the Comte d Estaing's fleet. [5]

The engagement that followed was one sided - the French ships were in disorder; their crews were weak; and they could not escape the vastly superior British force. [3] The Blanche was defeated and captured on the evening of 21 December. The Fortunée attempted to escape by throwing her quarter-deck guns overboard, but was captured on the early morning of 22 December, an hour before the Elise had struck. [5]

The Blanche and Fortunée were thus added to the British navy. [5]

Rowley then led his squadron to capture a large French convoy, which had sailed from Marseille, off Martinique. [2]

Related Research Articles

HMS <i>Magnificent</i> (1766) Ship of the line of the Royal Navy

HMS Magnificent was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built by Adam Hayes launched on 20 September 1766 at Deptford Dockyard. She was one of the Ramillies-class built to update the Navy and replace ships lost following the Seven Years' War. She served through two wars before her loss during blockade duty off the French coast.

HMS <i>Suffolk</i> (1765) Ship of the line of the Royal Navy

HMS Suffolk was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 22 February 1765 at Rotherhithe. She was designed by William Bateley, based on the principles of his earlier HMS Fame, and was the only ship built to her draught.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Faulknor the younger</span>

Robert Faulknor the younger (1763–1795) was an 18th-century Royal Navy officer, part of the Faulknor naval dynasty. He was court-martialled and died in an action off Guadeloupe in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joshua Rowley</span> British admiral

Vice-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley, 1st Baronet was a Royal Navy officer who was the fourth son of Admiral Sir William Rowley. Sir Joshua was from an ancient English family, originating in Staffordshire (England) and was born on 1 May 1734. Rowley served with distinction in a number of battles throughout his career and was highly praised by his contemporaries. Unfortunately whilst his career was often active he did not have the opportunity to command any significant engagements and always followed rather than led. His achievements have therefore been eclipsed by his contemporaries such as Keppel, Hawke, Howe and Rodney. Rowley however remains one of the stalwart commanders of the wooden walls that kept Britain safe for so long.

French ship <i>Hautpoult</i> (1807) Ship of the line of the French Navy

Hautpoult was a Téméraire class 74-gun French Navy ship of the line launched at Lorient on 2 September 1807. She was previously named L'Alcide and Le Courageux.

HMS Antigua was a French frigate launched in 1779. She became a privateer that the British captured in 1804. She served the Royal Navy as a prison ship from 1804 to 1816, when she was broken up.

Jean-François Tartu was a French Navy officer, and hero of the French Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Action of 22 January 1809</span> Minor naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars

The action of 22 January 1809 was a minor naval engagement fought off the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe during the Napoleonic Wars. The action was fought as part of the blockade of Guadeloupe and neighbouring Martinique by a large British Royal Navy squadron, which was seeking to cut the islands off from contact and supplies from France by preventing the passage of shipping from Europe to the islands. The British blockade was part of their preparation for planned invasions during the next year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Action of 10 February 1809</span> Naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars

The action of 10 February 1809 was a minor naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, in which a British Royal Navy squadron chased and captured the French frigate Junon in the Caribbean Sea. Junon was on a mission to carry trade goods from the Îles des Saintes near Guadeloupe back to France and was part of a succession of French warships sent during 1808 and the early months of 1809 in an effort to break the British blockade of the French Caribbean, which was destroying the economies and morale of the islands. Having landed supplies, Junon's return cargo was intended to improve the economic situation on Guadeloupe with much needed oceanic trade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roquebert's expedition to the Caribbean</span> Napoleonic war operation by French

Roquebert's expedition to the Caribbean, was an unsuccessful operation by a French naval squadron to transport supplies to Guadeloupe in December 1809 at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. Over the previous year, British Royal Navy squadrons had isolated and defeated the French Caribbean colonies one by one, until by the autumn Guadeloupe was the only colony remaining in French hands. Cut off from the rest of the world by British blockade squadrons that intercepted all ships coming to or from the island, Guadeloupe was in a desperate situation, facing economic collapse, food shortages and social upheaval, as well as the impending threat of British invasion. In an effort to reinforce and resupply the colony, the French government sent four vessels to the West Indies in November 1809 under Commodore François Roquebert. Two of the ships were 20-gun flûtes carrying supplies and troops. The two others were 40-gun frigates, ordered to protect the storeships on their journey from the British forces operating off both the French and Guadeloupe coasts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Samuel Sutton</span> Royal Navy officer (1760–1832)

Rear-Admiral Samuel Sutton was an officer in the Royal Navy. He entered the service shortly after the start of the American War of Independence, and spent most of his early career serving with Captain and later Admiral Joshua Rowley. He saw action at several engagements with the French fleets in the West Indies, and ended the war as a lieutenant. Left without active employment by the following years of peace, Sutton briefly returned to service during the Spanish Armament in 1790, but the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 brought him steady work. After serving in a number of ships and being present at Cornwallis's Retreat in 1795, Sutton received command of a sloop, and with it the opportunity to render a service to a member of the French aristocracy, and the future Charles X of France. Promoted for his good service, Sutton served as a flag captain to several admirals, including Horatio Nelson. He briefly commanded HMS Victory, before surrendering her to Thomas Hardy, who would go on to command Victory at Trafalgar, and be present at Nelson's death. Sutton instead took command of a frigate, and in 1804 was involved in a controversial action that saw the capture of three Spanish frigates and the destruction of a fourth. Made wealthy from the spoils, Sutton nevertheless remained in the navy, taking part in the chase of the French fleet to the West Indies in 1805. His health declined during this period, and he went ashore in October that year. He retired from active service, and served as a magistrate and local official for his community, being promoted to rear-admiral in 1821 and dying in 1832.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hugh Cloberry Christian</span> Royal Navy officer (1747–1798)

Sir Hugh Cloberry Christian KB was an officer of the Royal Navy who saw service during the American War of Independence, and the French Revolutionary Wars.

The action of 19 December 1796 was a minor naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought in the last stages of the Mediterranean campaign between two British Royal Navy frigates and two Spanish Navy frigates off the coast of Murcia. The British squadron was the last remaining British naval force in the Mediterranean, sent to transport the British garrison of Elba to safety under the command of Commodore Horatio Nelson. The Spanish under Commodore Don Jacobo Stuart were the vanguard of a much larger squadron. One Spanish frigate was captured and another damaged before Spanish reinforcements drove the British off and recaptured the lost ship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blockade of Saint-Domingue</span> Part of the Napoleonic Wars

The Blockade of Saint-Domingue was a naval campaign fought during the first months of the Napoleonic Wars in which a series of British Royal Navy squadrons blockaded the French-held ports of Cap Français and Môle-Saint-Nicolas on the northern coast of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, soon to become Haiti, after the conclusion of the Haitian Revolution on 1 January 1804. In the summer of 1803, when war broke out between the United Kingdom and the French Consulate, Saint-Domingue had been almost completely overrun by Haitian forces commanded by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. In the north of the country, the French forces were isolated in the two large ports of Cap Français and Môle-Saint-Nicolas and a few smaller settlements, all supplied by a French naval force based primarily at Cap Français.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bartholomew Rowley</span>

Admiral Sir Bartholomew Samuel Rowley was a British naval officer who served during the American, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Cape Finisterre (1761)</span> 1761 naval battle of the Seven Years War

The Battle of Cape Finisterre was a naval engagement fought off the Northern Spanish Atlantic coast near Cape Finisterre between British and French squadrons during the Seven Years' War. A British force comprising the 74-gun ship of the line HMS Bellona and 36-gun frigate HMS Brilliant was sailing from Lisbon to Britain with a cargo of specie when on 13 August they encountered a French force comprising the 74-gun Courageux and the 32-gun frigates Malicieuse and Hermine. The British ships immediately chased the French squadron, maintaining contact through the night, and on the following morning two separate engagements occurred as Brilliant fought the French frigates and Bellona battled Courageux.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Action of 17 July 1761</span> 1761 naval battle of the Seven Years War

The action of 17 July 1761 was a naval engagement fought off the Spanish port of Cádiz between a British Royal Navy squadron and a smaller French Navy squadron during the Seven Years' War. British fleets had achieved dominance in European waters over the French following heavy defeats of French fleets in 1759. To maintain this control, British battle squadrons were stationed off French ports, as well as ports in neutral but French-supporting Spain which sheltered French warships. In 1761, two French ships, the 64-gun ship of the line Achille and 32-gun frigate Bouffone were blockaded in the principal Spanish naval base of Cádiz, on the Southern Atlantic coast of Spain.

HMS <i>Ceres</i> (1777) Sloop of the Royal Navy

HMS Ceres was an 18-gun sloop launched in 1777 for the British Royal Navy that the French captured in December 1778 off Saint Lucia. The French Navy took her into service as Cérès. The British recaptured her in 1782 and renamed her HMS Raven, only to have the French recapture her again early in 1783. The French returned her name to Cérès, and she then served in the French Navy until sold at Brest in 1791.

HMS Morne Fortunee was the French privateer Regulus that British Royal Navy captured in 1804. In 1806 the Royal Navy commissioned her. She captured some small privateers and took part in a number of other engagements. She foundered in 1809.

Samuel Campbell Rowley was a politician and Royal Navy officer who was born in Ireland in 1774. Rowley attended the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth in 1785 and joined his first ship in March 1789, serving in the West Indies. He passed the lieutenant's examination in 1792 but was not promoted until January 1794, when he joined HMS Vengeance. In her, Rowley took part in the West Indies campaign under Sir John Jervis and Sir Charles Grey, and was present at the capture of Martinique, St Lucia and Guadeloupe. Rowley returned to England at the beginning of 1795 and shortly after, was appointed to the 32-gun HMS Astraea, serving in the English Channel, where, on 10 April 1795, he assisted in the taking of the French 42-gun frigate, Gloire.


  1. Marley p. 325
  2. 1 2 3 Clarke, James Stanier & McArthur, John, Naval Chronicle Vol. 4 p.186
  3. 1 2 Clowes p 47
  4. Naval Chronicle Vol. 21 p.179
  5. 1 2 3 Allen, Joseph (1852). Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1. H.G. Bohn. p. 296.