Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand Linois

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Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand Linois

Linois-Antoine Maurin-3.png

Portrait of Linois, by Antoine Maurin
Born 27 January 1761
Died 2 December 1848(1848-12-02) (aged 87)
AllegianceFlag of France (1794-1815).svg  French First Republic
Service/branchCivil and Naval Ensign of France.svg  French Navy
Rank Admiral

French Revolutionary Wars

Napoleonic Wars

Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand, Comte de Linois (27 January 1761 2 December 1848) was a French admiral during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. He won a victory over the British at the Battle of Algeciras in 1801 [1] and led an unsuccessful campaign against British trade in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea in 1803. [2] [3]

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Algeciras Campaign

The Algeciras campaign was an attempt by a French naval squadron from Toulon under Contre-Admiral Charles Linois to join a French and Spanish fleet at Cadiz during June and July 1801 during the French Revolutionary War prior to a planned operation against either Egypt or Portugal. To reach Cadiz, the French squadron had to pass the British naval base at Gibraltar, which housed the squadron tasked with blockading the Spanish port. The British squadron was commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez. After a successful voyage between Toulon and Gibraltar, in which a number of British vessels were captured, the squadron anchored at Algeciras, a fortified port city within sight of Gibraltar across Gibraltar Bay. On 6 July 1801, Saumarez attacked the anchored squadron, in the First Battle of Algeciras. Although severe damage was inflicted on all three French ships of the line, none could be successfully captured and the British were forced to withdraw without HMS Hannibal, which had grounded and was subsequently seized by the French.

Linoiss expedition to the Indian Ocean

Linois's expedition to the Indian Ocean was a commerce raiding operation launched by the French Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois was ordered to the Indian Ocean in his flagship Marengo in March 1803 accompanied by a squadron of three frigates, shortly before the end of the Peace of Amiens. When war between Britain and France broke out in September 1803, Marengo was at Pondicherry with the frigates, but escaped a British squadron sent to intercept it and reached Isle de France. The large distances between naval bases in the Indian Ocean and the limited resources available to the British commanders in the region made it difficult to concentrate sufficient forces to combat a squadron of this size, and Linois was subsequently able to sustain his campaign for three years. From Isle de France, Linois and his frigates began a series of attacks on British commerce across the Eastern Indian Ocean, specifically targeting the large convoys of East Indiamen that were vital to the maintenance of trade within the British Empire and to the British economy. Although he had a number of successes against individual merchant ships and the small British trading post of Bencoolen, the first military test of Linois squadron came at the Battle of Pulo Aura on 15 February 1804. Linois attacked the undefended British China Fleet, consisting of 16 valuable East Indiamen and 14 other vessels, but failed to press his military superiority and withdrew without capturing a single ship.



Born in Brest, Linois joined the French Navy as a volunteer in 1776, when he was 15 years old. [1] He was promoted to lieutenant in 1791 after participating in the American War of Independence. [1] From 1791 to 1793 he was posted to Isle de France (now Mauritius) where he served in the French forces in the Indian Ocean. [1]

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

Isle de France (Mauritius)

Isle de France was the name of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and its dependent territories between 1715 and 1810, when the area was under the French East India Company and part of France's empire. Under the French, the island witnessed major changes. The increasing importance of agriculture led to the importation of slaves and the undertaking of vast infrastructural works that transformed Port Louis into a major capital, port, warehousing, and commercial centre.

Mauritius Island nation in the Indian Ocean

Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres east of Mauritius, and the outer islands of Agaléga and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. The area of the country is 2,040 km2. The capital and largest city is Port Louis. The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.

After his return to France in 1794, he was based in Brest. Linois was captured by the Royal Navy at the Action of 7 May 1794 while his ship was protecting a convoy of wheat from the United States. He was exchanged and promoted to captain, taking command of the 74-gun Formidable. The following year he was captured again at the battle of Groix, where he was twice wounded and lost an eye; he was again exchanged. In 1796 he took part in the Expédition d'Irlande as a chief of division, leading a 3-ship of the line and 4-frigate squadron, with his flag on Nestor. Arrived in Bantry Bay, the generals opposed a landing, and the squadron headed back to Brest, taking three prizes on the way.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

The Action of 7 May 1794 was a minor naval action fought between a British ship of the line and a French frigate early in the French Revolutionary Wars. The French Navy sought to disrupt British trade by intercepting and capturing merchant ships with roving frigates, a strategy countered by protecting British convoys with heavier warships, particularly in European waters. On 5 May 1794, the British escorts of a convoy from Cork sighted two French ships approaching and gave chase. The ships, a frigate and a corvette, outmatched by their opponents, separated and the convoy escorts did likewise, each following one of the raiders on a separate course.

HMS <i>Belleisle</i> (1795)

Lion was a Téméraire class 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the French Navy, which later served in the Royal Navy. She was named Lion on 23 April 1790 and built at Rochefort from August 1791 until June 1794. She was renamed Marat on 28 September 1793 and then Formidable on 25 May 1795, with the changing fortunes of the French Revolution.

On 12 April 1796 he was captain of Unité when HMS Révolutionnaire captured her. Revolutionnaire had no casualties because the French had fired high, aiming for her rigging; the British fired into their quarry with the result that Unité suffered nine men killed and 11 wounded. [4]

French frigate <i>Gracieuse</i> (1787)

Gracieuse was a 32-gun Charmante-class frigate of the French Navy. Renamed to Unité in 1793, she took part in the French Revolutionary Wars. The Royal Navy captured her in 1796 off Île d'Yeu and brought her into British service as HMS Unite. She was sold in 1802

HMS <i>Révolutionnaire</i> (1794)

Révolutionnaire, was a 40-gun Seine-class frigate of the French Navy, launched in May 1794. The British captured her in October 1794 and she went on to serve with the Royal Navy until she was broken up in 1822. During this service Revolutionnaire took part in numerous actions, including three for which the Admiralty would in 1847 award clasps to the Naval General Service Medal, and captured several privateers and merchant vessels.

In 1799 Linois was promoted to Rear-Admiral (contre-amiral) and sent to the Mediterranean under Admiral Bruix. As second in command of the squadron under Admiral Ganteaume, he attacked Elba in 1801. Then in command of a small squadron based in Cadiz, he fought a larger British squadron under Sir James Saumarez in the Battle of Algeciras. His squadron prevailed during the first part of the battle, capturing HMS Hannibal, but on the return to Cadiz, two Spanish ships who had joined him were fooled into firing on each other by a British night attack and were lost.

Mediterranean Sea Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually identified as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years, the Messinian salinity crisis, before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.

Étienne Eustache Bruix French admiral

Étienne Eustache Bruix was a French Navy admiral.

Honoré Joseph Antoine Ganteaume French admiral

Count Honoré Joseph Antoine Ganteaume was a French Navy officer and Vice-admiral.

In 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte appointed him to command the French forces in the Indian Ocean and, flying his flag aboard the 74-gun-ship Marengo, he harried British merchant ships across the ocean and into the China Seas. At the Battle of Pulo Aura in 1804, a squadron of French naval ships commanded by Linois encountered the British China Fleet of lightly armed merchant ships. The British ships outnumbered Linois' forces, manoeuvred as though preparing to defend themselves, and some flew naval ensigns. The tactics of the convoy commodore Nathaniel Dance fooled Linois into believing that the British fleet was defended by naval escorts and he retired without attacking the virtually defenceless British.

French ship <i>Jean-Jacques Rousseau</i> (1795)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Téméraire class 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, active during the French Directory, French Consulate and First French Empire. Renamed Marengo in 1802, she took part in Linois' operations in the Indian Ocean before her capture by the Royal Navy.

Battle of Pulo Aura

The Battle of Pulo Aura was a minor naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, fought on 14 February 1804, in which a large convoy of Honourable East India Company (HEIC) East Indiamen, well-armed merchant ships, intimidated, drove off and chased a powerful French naval squadron. Although the French force was much stronger than the British convoy, Commodore Nathaniel Dance's aggressive tactics persuaded Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois to retire after only a brief exchange of shot. Dance then chased the French warships until his convoy was out of danger, whereupon he resumed his passage toward British India. Linois later claimed that the unescorted British merchant fleet was defended by eight ships of the line, a claim criticised by contemporary officers and later historians.

Nathaniel Dance officer of the Honourable East India Company

Sir Nathaniel Dance was an officer of the Honourable East India Company who had a long and varied career on merchant vessels, making numerous voyages to India and back with the fleets of East Indiamen. He was already aware of the risks of the valuable ships he sailed on being preyed on by foreign navies, having been captured by a Franco-Spanish fleet in 1780 during the East Indies campaign of the American War of Independence. His greatest achievement came during the Napoleonic Wars, when having been appointed commodore of one of the company's fleets, he came across a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Comte de Linois, which was raiding British shipping in the area. Through skilful seamanship and aggressive tactics he fooled the French commander into thinking that the British convoy was escorted by powerful naval forces, and the French decided not to risk attacking the convoy. Dance compounded the deception by taking his lightly armed merchants and chasing the French away, despite the considerable disparity of force. Having saved the convoy from almost certain destruction, Dance was hailed as a hero, lavishly rewarded with money and a knighthood, and spent the last years of his life in comfortable retirement.

During his squadron's return to France, Linois encountered a large British squadron under Admiral Warren off Cape Verde. In their engagement, known as the Action of 13 March 1806, Linois was wounded and captured again. Napoleon had ended the practice of exchanging officers and Linois remained a prisoner of war until Napoleon fell in 1814. In 1810, while held by the British, Linois was named comte de Linois by Napoleon.

Following the Bourbon restoration, Louis XVIII named him to be Governor of Guadeloupe but as Linois supported Napoleon during the Hundred Days he was forced to resign after the battle of Waterloo.[ citation needed ] He was court martialled but acquitted in 1816. However, he was placed in retirement and never served again, although he was appointed as an honorary Vice-Admiral (vice-amiral) in 1825. He lived in Versailles, where he died in 1848.


Linois's name as it appears on the Arc de Triomphe Arc de Triomphe mg 6867.jpg
Linois's name as it appears on the Arc de Triomphe

His name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe.

In fiction

Linois is a minor, but highly respected, character in the Aubrey–Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. Frederick Marryat describes the Battle of Pulo Aura in his 1832 novel Newton Forster, or The Merchant Service .

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Piat, Denis (2010). Mauritius on the Spice Route, 1598-1810. Editions Didier Millet. pp. 195–196. ISBN   9814260312.
  2. The Campaign of Trafalgar, Gardiner, p. 19
  3. The Campaign of Trafalgar, Gardiner, p. 26
  4. "No. 13887". The London Gazette . 26 April 1796. pp. 387–388.