Battle of San Domingo


Battle of San Domingo

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of San Domingo
partof=the Napoleonic Wars


caption='Duckworth's Action off San Domingo, 6 February 1806' by Nicholas Pocock
date=6 February 1806
place=Off Santo Domingo, near Hispaniola
result=British victory
combatant1=
combatant2=
commander1=Vice-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth
commander2=Rear-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues
strength1=Seven ships of the line and four others
strength2=Five ships of the line and three others
casualties1=74 dead,
264 wounded
casualties2=1,510 captured, killed or wounded
three ships captured,
two wrecked

The naval Battle of San Domingo was fought on 6 February 1806 near Santo Domingo, off the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, when a British squadron under Vice-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth defeated a smaller French squadron under Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues.

The French squadron of five ships of the line had escaped the British blockade of Brest late the previous year and been chased to the West Indies by Duckworth.

At about 10 in the morning the French ships, not quite ready to sail, and with part of their crews ashore (including Rear-Admiral Leissègues), weighed anchor after seeing the British ships approach. The British ships moved to cut them off and cross their "T".

Duckworth organised his ships into two columns, the weather column consisting of HMS "Superb" (Flag-Captain Keats), HMS "Northumberland" (Flag-Captain Morrison, Rear-Admiral Cochrane), HMS "Spencer" (Captain Stopford), HMS "Agamemnon" (Captain Sir E. Berry), while the lee column consisted of HMS "Canopus" (Flag-Captain Austin, Admiral Louis), HMS "Donegal" (Captain Malcolm) and HMS "Atlas" (Captain Pym). The columns moved to attack the French ships in line of battle accompanied by frigates HMS "Acasta" (40-guns, Captain Wood), HMS "Magicienne" (32-guns, Captain Mackenzie), HMS "King's Fisher" (18-gun ship-sloop, Commander Nathaniel Day Cochrane) [p.190, James, Chamier; this is variously described as either a sloop or a brig and with either 18 or 16 guns] and HMS "Epervier" (14-gun brig, Lieutenant James Higginson). [p.376, Stephens]

After forming columns of battle, the British ships caught up and engaged. The Superb engaged the bow of L'Alexandre which sheared off after three broadsides. [p.575, The United Service Magazine, 1831 [http://books.google.com.au/books?id=yQOe7brX3psC&pg=PA575&lpg=PA575&dq=L%27Alexandre+80+gun&source=web&ots=oPBLYS6cUU&sig=cb-Q6VoiNRmzgw__7u3dt3fH-4Q&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=10&ct=result] ]

"Donegal" initially engaged the "Brave" with several broadsides, forcing her to surrender after half an hour. Captain Malcom then moved his position to fire a few broadsides into the "Jupiter" before sending a boarding party aboard her. The crew of the "Jupiter" then surrendered her. Captain Malcom then directed the frigate HMS "Acasta" to take possession of the "Brave". After the battle, "Donegal" had lost her fore-yard and had 12 killed and 33 wounded. [ [http://www.ageofnelson.org/MichaelPhillips/info.php?ref=0763 Donegal's history] ]

After a tough fight lasting two hours, captured three of the French ships, while "Impérial" 118 and then "Diomède" 74 went aground and were wrecked, and then burnt about two days later. The three smaller French ships then escaped and weren't pursued. "Agamemnon" lagged behind for much of the battle, and the smaller British ships weren't involved.

"Jupiter" was taken into the Royal Navy and renamed "Maida", while "Brave" sank on her way back to England. The British suffered 74 killed and 264 wounded, the French suffered perhaps 1,510 casualties.

Ships involved:

Britain (John Duckworth)

Windward line
"Superb" 74 (flag) - six killed, 56 wounded
"Northumberland" 74 - Damaged, 21 killed, 79 wounded
"Spencer" 74 - Damaged, 18 killed, 50 wounded
"Agamemnon" 64 (Captain Edward Berry) - one killed, 13 wounded
Lee line ("Canopus" was abeam of "Spencer")
"Canopus" 80 (Captain Francis William Austen) - eight killed, 22 wounded
"Donegal" 74 - Damaged, 12 killed, 33 wounded
"Atlas" 74 - Damaged, eight killed, 11 wounded
Line to windward
"Acasta" 40 (frigate)
"Magicienne" 36 (frigate)
"Kingfisher" 16 (ship-sloop)
"Epervier" 14 (brig)

France (Leissègues)

Line of battle
"L'Alexandre" 84 guns (Captain Pierre-Elie Garreau) - Captured
"L'Impérial" 118 guns (flag, captain Julien-Gabriel Bigot) - Wrecked, burnt
"Le Diomède" 74 guns (Captain Henry) - Wrecked, burnt
"Le Jupitre" 74 guns (Captain Leignel?) [p.377, Stephens, however this source seems unreliable for French names] - Captured
"Le Brave" 74 guns (Captain Condé) - Captured
one other unidentified ship of the line [p.378, Stephens; Duckworth;s report says that nine sail at anchor were sighted by the "Acasto"]
Inshore line
"La Félicité" 44 guns (frigate) - escaped
"La Cornelie" 36 guns (frigate) - escaped
"La Diligente" 16 guns (ship-corvette) - escaped

Citations and notes

References

* Stephens, Alexander, "Public Characters of 1807, volume IX", R. Phillips, by T. Gillet, 1807
* James, William & Chamier, Frederick, "The Naval History of Great Britain: From the Declaration of War by France in 1793 to the Accession of George IV", Volume IV, Richard Bentley, London, 1837

External links

* [http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/Naval_History/Vol_IV/Vol_IV_P_191.htm Account]
* [http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/Heritage/1797/battle/ships.htm Information]


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