Battle of Hyères Islands
|Naval Battle of Hyères Islands|
|Part of the French Revolutionary War|
Naples and Sicily
|Commanders and leaders|
|Rear Admiral Pierre Martin||Vice Admiral Hotham|
|17 ships of the line and 6 frigates||23 ships of the line, about 15 frigates and corvettes (6 ships of the line engaged)|
|Casualties and losses|
ca 300 men killed,|
1 ship of the line lost
The Naval Battle of Hyères Islands was fought on 13 July 1795 off the Hyères Islands, a group of islands off the French Mediterranean coast, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of France's main naval base in the Mediterranean, Toulon. The battle was fought between the van of a British fleet chasing the French squadron, and the French rear. The rear-most French ship, Alcide, surrendered before exploding.
In May, a mutiny broke out in the Toulon squadron, while Renaudin's ships remained loyal. Renaudin moored his ships at the entrance of Toulon Roads to cover the harbour against a possible English attack. Meanwhile, Conventional Deputy Joseph Niou, formerly a naval engineer, restored order by setting the sailors against the English, and having them pledge to "wash their crimes in the blood of the enemies of the Republic".
On 7 June, the French fleet set sail.
In the afternoon of the 7 July, HMS Agamemnon made contact. By the evening, the French were in pursuit, and the next morning, Agamemnon signaled the British fleet by means of cannon fire. At 9:30, the 17-ship French squadron found the 22-ship Royal Navy squadron anchored in Fiorenzo bay, including six three-deckers.
Finding himself outnumbered and outgunned, Martin attempted to avoid battle by escaping to Fréjus bay, with the British giving chase. In the evening of the 12th, the British squadron received intelligence from two corvettes, HMS Flêche and HMS Cyclops, that the French were South of the Hyères Islands.
Contact was made again the next morning and the chase continued. The French squadron became becalmed and the rear guard was soon overtaken by the British van, comprising HMS Victory, HMS Culloden, and HMS Cumberland. Without assistance from the main body of the squadron, an artillery duel broke out, battering the rear-most French ship Alcide, damaging HMS Culloden's rigging, and almost de-masting HMS Victory. Despite the best efforts of her sister ships in the French line to protect her against overwhelming odds, Alcide struck her colours at 2:00 pm. The frigates Justice and Alceste attempted to take her in tow to safety, but were repelled by gunfire from HMS Victory.
As the main body of the French squadron prepared to intervene to rescue Alcide, a fire broke out on her fore-top. She was consumed by an explosion half an hour later, causing the loss of about 300 of her crew, while 300 survivors were rescued by the British squadron.
After the explosion of Alcide, the fighting died out, with the French retreating to Toulon and the British retreating to Leghorn, via San-Fiorenzo.
Orders of battle
|Admiral Martin's squadron|
|Orient||120|| Vice-admiral Martin
|Tonnant||80|| Rear-admiral Delmotte
|Guerrier||74||Captain Infernet||Returned to harbour|
|Mercure||74||Captain Catteford||Returned to harbour|
|Alcide||74||Captain Leblond Saint-Hylaire||Burnt with the loss of 300 men|
|Peuple Souverain||74||Captain Lindet-Lalonde|
|Berwick||74||Captain Dumanoir Lepelley|
|Junon||32||Lieutenant Amand Leduc|
|Source: Granier, p. 108|
|Admiral Renaudin's squadron|
|Jemmapes||74|| Rear-admiral Jean François Renaudin
|Source: Granier, p. 108|
|Vice-Admiral William Hotham commanding|
|Britannia||100|| Vice-Admiral William Hotham
Captain John Holloway
|Victory||100|| Rear-Admiral Robert Mann
Captain John Knight
|Princess Royal||98|| Vice-Admiral Samuel Goodall
Captain John Purvis
|St George||98|| Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker
Captain Thomas Foley
|Windsor Castle||98|| Vice-Admiral Robert Linzee
Captain John Gore
|Blenheim||90||Captain John Bazely|
|Gibraltar||80||Captain John Pakenham|
|Captain||74||Captain Samuel Reeve|
|Fortitude||74||Captain William Young|
|Bombay Castle||74||Captain Charles Chamberlayne|
|Saturn||74||Captain James Douglas|
|Cumberland||74||Captain Bartholomew Rowley|
|Terrible||74||Captain George Campbell|
|Defence||74||Captain Thomas Wells|
|Egmont||74||Captain John Sutton|
|Culloden||74||Captain Thomas Troubridge|
|Bedford||74||Captain Davidge Gould|
|Courageux||74||Captain Benjamin Hallowell|
|Audacious||74||Captain William Shield|
|Agamemnon||64||Commodore Horatio Nelson|
|Diadem||64||Captain Charles Tyler|
|Meleager||32||Captain George Cockburn|
|Cyclops||28||Captain William Hotham|
|Ariadne||24||Captain Robert Plampin|
|Fleche||20||Commander Thomas Boys|
|Moselle||18||Commander Charles Brisbane|
- Les combats navals d'Alassio et des Iles d'Hyères (13 mars et 13 juillet 1795) (French)
- Fonds Marine, p.80
- Fonds Marine, p.133
- Fonds Marine, p.131
- Fonds Marine, p.137
- Roche, p.88
- Fonds Marine, p.81
- Fonds Marine, p.132
- Smith, D. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill Books, 1998.
- Contre-amiral Hubert Granier, Histoire des marins français (1789–1815), Marines éditions, 1998