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Battle of the Saintes Part of the American War of Independence The Battle of the Saintes, 12 April 1782: surrender of the Ville de Paris by Thomas Whitcombe, painted 1783, shows Hood's Barfleur, centre, attacking the French flagship Ville de Paris, right. Date 9 April 1782 – 12 April 1782 Location Off Dominica, West Indies Result Decisive British victory[1] Belligerents  Great Britain  France Commanders and leaders Sir George Rodney Comte de Grasse  (P.O.W.) Strength 36 ships of the line 33 ships of the line Casualties and losses 243 dead, 816 wounded 4 ships of the line captured, 1 destroyed 2,000 dead or wounded, 5,000 captured v • d • e West Indies campaign 1st Nassau – Dominica – 1st St. Lucia – 2nd St. Lucia – 1st Grenada – 2nd Grenada – Martinique (1779) – Martinique (1780) – Saint Vincent – Dutch West Indies – Fort Royal – Tobago – Brimstone Hill – Frigate Bay – Demerara and Essequibo – Montserrat – The Saintes – Mona Passage – 2nd Nassau – 18 October 1782 – 6 December 1782 – Turks and Caicos – 3rd Nassau The Battle of the Saintes (known to the French as the Battle of Dominica) took place over 4 days, 9 April 1782 – 12 April 1782, during the American War of Independence, and was a victory of a British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney over a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica. The battle is named after the Saintes (or Saints), a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies. The French fleet defeated here by the Royal Navy was the same French fleet that had blockaded the British Army during the Siege of Yorktown. The battle is sometimes credited with pioneering the tactic of "breaking the line"; this is however erroneous as Danish admiral Niels Juel did this in the Battle of Køge Bay more than a hundred years earlier. Contents 1 Origins 2 Battle 3 Aftermath 4 Order of Battle 4.1 Britain 4.2 France 5 References 6 See also // Origins On 7 April 1782, the Comte de Grasse set out from Martinique with 35 ships of the line, including 2 50-gun ships and a large convoy of more than 100 cargo ships, to meet with a Spanish fleet consisting of 12 ships of the line and 15,000 troops for the purpose of capturing the British island of Jamaica. He was pursued by Rodney with 36 ships of the line. On 9 April 1782, De Grasse sent his convoy into Guadeloupe, escorted by his two fifty-gun ships (Fier and Experiment). There was an initial inconclusive clash during which the French got the better of the van division of the British fleet which had become separated from the centre and rear divisions. Two French ships of the line were damaged. Battle On 12 April, De Grasse bore up with his fleet to protect a dismasted ship (Zélé,74 guns) that was being chased by four British ships as he made for Guadeloupe. Rodney recalled his chasing ships and made the signal for line of battle. As the French line passed down the British line, a sudden shift of wind let Rodney's flagship Formidable and several other ships, including the Duke and the Bedford, break through the French line, raking the ships as they did so. The resultant confusion in the French line and the severe damage to several of the French ships including De Grasse's flagship Ville de Paris, of 104 guns, led eventually to De Grasse’s surrender and the retreat of many of his ships in disorder. This action split the French battle line into two. A general chase ensued. In all, four French ships were captured and one, César, blew up after she was taken. A 1785 engraving of de Grasse surrendering to Rodney. The British lost 243 killed and 816 wounded, and two captains out of 36 were killed. The French loss in killed and wounded has never been stated, but of captains alone, six were killed out of 30. It is estimated that the French loss may have been as much as 2,000. More than 5,000 French soldiers and sailors were captured. The large number shows what a considerable force the French were willing to put ashore with the invasion of Jamaica. Of the Ville de Paris' crew, over 400 had been killed and more than 700 were wounded. The César which blew up, killed over 400 French and 50 British sailors when her magazine exploded. Aftermath The battle frustrated French and Spanish hopes of capturing Jamaica from the British. Rodney was created a peer with £2,000 a year settled on the title in perpetuity for this victory. Hood was elevated to the peerage as well. The battle has caused controversy ever since, for three reasons: Rodney’s failure to follow up the victory by a pursuit was much criticised. Rear-Admiral Hood said that the 20 French ships would have been captured had the commander-in-chief maintained the chase. On 17 April, Hood was sent in pursuit of the enemy. He promptly captured two 64-gun ships of the line (Jason and Caton) and two smaller warships in the Battle of the Mona Passage on 19 April. One hundred and twenty years later, the Navy Records Society published the Dispatches and Letters Relating to the Blockading of Brest. In the introduction they include a small biography of Admiral William Cornwallis who commanded the Canada at the Saintes. A poem purportedly written by him includes the lines: Had a chief worthy Britain commanded our fleet, Twenty-five good French ships had been laid at our feet.[2] The battle is famous for the innovative tactic of "breaking the line", in which the British ships passed though a gap in the French line, engaging the enemy from leeward and throwing them into disorder. But there is considerable controversy about whether the tactic was intentional, and, if so, who was responsible for the idea (Rodney, his Captain-of-the-Fleet Sir Charles Douglas, or John Clerk of Eldin). On the French side, de Grasse blamed his subordinates, Vaudreuil and Bougainville, for his defeat. Order of Battle Britain Admiral Sir George Rodney's fleet Van Ship Rate Guns Commander Casualties Notes Killed Wounded Total HMS Royal Oak Third rate 74 Captain Thomas Burnett 8 30 38 HMS Alfred Third rate 74 Captain William Bayne   † 12 40 52 HMS Montagu Third rate 74 Captain George Bowen 14 29 43 HMS Yarmouth Third rate 64 Captain Anthony Parrey 14 33 47 HMS Valiant Third rate 74 Captain Samuel Granston Goodall 10 28 38 HMS Barfleur Second rate 98 Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood Captain John Knight 10 37 47 Flagship of van HMS Monarch Third rate 74 Captain Francis Reynolds 16 33 49 HMS Warrior Third rate 74 Captain Sir James Wallace 5 21 26 HMS Belliqueux Third rate 64 Captain Andrew Sutherland 4 10 14 HMS Centaur Third rate 74 Captain John Nicholson Inglefield ? ? ? No casualty returns made HMS Magnificent Third rate 74 Captain Robert Linzee 6 11 17 HMS Prince William Third rate 64 Captain George Wilkinson 0 0 0 Centre HMS Bedford Third rate 74 Commodore Edmund Affleck Captain Thomas Graves 0 17 17 HMS Ajax Third rate 74 Captain Nicholas Charrington 9 40 49 HMS Repulse Third rate 64 Captain Thomas Dumaresq 3 11 14 HMS Canada Third rate 74 Captain William Cornwallis 12 23 35 HMS St Albans Third rate 64 Captain Charles Inglis 0 6 6 HMS Namur Second rate 90 Captain Robert Fanshawe 6 25 31 HMS Formidable Second rate 98 Admiral Sir George Rodney Captain Sir Charles Douglas 2nd Captain Charles Symons 15 39 53 Flagship of centre HMS Duke Second rate 90 Captain Alan Gardner 13 60 73 HMS Agamemnon Third rate 64 Captain Benjamin Caldwell 15 23 38 HMS Resolution Third rate 74 Captain Lord Robert Manners 4 34 38 HMS Prothée Third rate 64 Captain Charles Buckner 5 25 30 HMS Hercules Third rate 74 Captain Henry Savage 6 19 25 Captain Savage wounded HMS America Third rate 64 Captain Samuel Thompson 1 1 2 Rear HMS Russell Third rate 74 Captain James Saumarez 10 29 39 HMS Fame Third rate 74 Captain Robert Barbor 3 12 15 HMS Anson Third rate 64 Captain William Blair   † 3 13 16 HMS Torbay Third rate 74 Captain John Lewis Gidoin 10 25 35 HMS Prince George Second rate 98 Captain James Williams 9 24 33 HMS Princessa Third rate 70 Rear-Admiral Francis Samuel Drake Captain Charles Knatchbull 3 22 25 Flagship of rear HMS Conqueror Third rate 74 Captain George Balfour 7 23 30 HMS Nonsuch Third rate 64 Captain William Truscott 3 3 6 HMS Alcide Third rate 74 Captain Charles Thompson ? ? ? No casualty returns made HMS Arrogant Third rate 74 Captain Samuel Pitchford Cornish 0 0 0 HMS Marlborough Third rate 74 Captain Taylor Penny 3 16 19 Total recorded casualties: 239 killed, 762 wounded (casualties for two ships unknown) Source: The London Gazette, 12 December 1782.[3] France Admiral the Comte de Grasse's fleet Ship Guns Commander Fate Ardent 64 captured Auguste 80 Louis Antoine de Bougainville Bourgogne 74 Brave 74 César 74 captured, but burnt Citoyen 74 Conquérant 74 Couronne 80 Claude Mithon de Genouilly Dauphin Royal 70 Destin 74 Diadème 74 Duc de Bourgogne 80 Éveillé 64 Glorieux 74 captured Hector 74 captured Hercule 74 Languedoc 80 Magnanime 74 Magnifique 74 Marseillais 74 Neptune 74 Northumberland 74 Palmier 74 Pluton 74 Réfléchi 64 Richemond frigate Montemart Sceptre 74 Scipion 74 Souverain 74 Triomphant 80 Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil Ville de Paris 104 François Joseph Paul de Grasse captured References ^ Black 1999, p. 141. ^ Leyland, John (1899). Dispatches and letters relating to the blockade of Brest, 1803-1805. Printed for the Navy Records Society. p. xx. http://www.archive.org/details/dispatchesandle00leylgoog.  ^ London Gazette: no. 12396, pp. 3–4, 1782-10-12. Retrieved 2010-04-08. Black, Jeremy. Warfare in the Eighteenth Century. London. Cassell. 1999. Douglas, Major-General Sir Howard; Christopher J. Valin (2010/1832). Naval Evolutions: A Memoir. Fireship Press. ISBN 1935585274.  Fullom, S.W., Life of General Sir Howard Douglas, Bart. (1865) Mahan, A.T., Major Operations of the Navies in the War of Independence (1913) Mahan, A.T., Types of Naval Officers, Drawn from the History of the British Navy (1901) Mundy, Major-General, The Life and Correspondence of the Late Admiral Lord Rodney (1830) Playfair, John. “On the Naval Tactics of the Late John Clerk, Esq. of Eldin.” The Works of John Playfair, Vol. III (1822) “Rodney’s Battle of 12 April 1782: A Statement of Some Important Facts, Supported by Authentic Documents, Relating to the Operation of Breaking the Enemy’s Line, as Practiced for the First Time in the Celebrated Battle of 12 April 1782.” Quarterly Review, vol. XLII, no. LXXXIII, January & March, 1830 Trew, Peter, Rodney and the Breaking of the Line (2006) Valin, Christopher J. (2009). Fortune's Favorite: Sir Charles Douglas and the Breaking of the Line. Fireship Press. ISBN 1934757721.  See also Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War