Friday, August 21, 2020

Fullbore Friday

First posted this over a decade ago ... but there is so much to learn from this little known (at least to Americans) battle, I wanted to post it again.

Before we start, I want you to consider the importance of agriculture. In a time of war, what if a nation cannot feed itself?

What if it does not have a merchant fleet?

What must it do to protect its merchants against a hostile power?

It's all here and ... any excuse for a Tallships FbF.
This battle is known more by the name than the place, as it was fought over 400 miles from Ushant, near Brest. [Some sources give the distance as 700 miles, which may be where the pursuit began.] There have been four battles by this name, with the last in 1944.

A British fleet under Admiral Lord Howe was escorting merchantmen to North America at about the same time as a French fleet under Rear Admiral Louis Villaret de Joyeuse was escorting 130 merchantmen loaded with grain from America to France. Admiral Howe had dropped off his charges when on May 28, 1794 the two fleets sighted each other. Because of fog, only light fighting took place between the British (24 ships) and the French (26 ships). During this time, the French managed to successfully feint and draw the British away from the merchantmen, which made it home intact.

Nonetheless, the battle cost the French 6 captured and one sunk, against no loss for the English. Eleven English and 12 French ships were dismasted. Ushant III is also famous for a savage duel between HMS Brunswick and the French Venger, which lasted four hours – a very long time for these actions. These were typically fought at point-blank range; each broadside that connected caused terrible havoc, particularly on the open decks. Captain Harvey Brunswick commanded HMS Brunswick. Wounded three times in a battle that saw 44 of his crew killed and 14 wounded, he did not survive the battle.

Overall casualties were 1500 French killed, 2000 wounded and 3000 POWs; 287 English killed and 811 wounded.

The British were too exhausted to pursue. The French claim Ushant III as their victory because the grain fleet made harbor safely.
I like this little hmmmmm as well.
.... this battle took place at the height of the Revolutionary Terror in France, with over 380 people a month executed. The French Government had a policy of executing failed commanders. Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse escaped the guillotine undoubtedly because the grain fleet came in safe. feels that many French captains continued fighting after their situation became hopeless because of the “zero-tolerance-for-failure” policy.
The wiki page here has the full fleet line up.

Not a complete Navy story though, as The Queen’s (Second) Royal Regiment of Foot was involved and so was a wee Sailor.
The third battle of Ushant, where British Admiral Lord Howe fell upon the French fleet of Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse after several days of fierce fighting and won a tactical victory, though he did not intercept a food convoy from the new world.

Aboard the HMS Tremendous, one pregnant passenger gave birth to a boy. People thought this happy event was tremendous, so the kid got the nickname "Tremendous" and a Naval General Service medal in recognition of his presence at the action (with a rating of "baby").
... and you thought ours was the first fighting navy to push them out at war? Silly goose.

On a serious note - a tactical victory for the British; but a mission success for the French. The grain got there - call it a draw.

Hat tip ADB.

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