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Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:37 pm
by Cy
On this date a British squadron of 5 ships under Charles Saunders engaged, briefly, a squadron of French ships out of Toulon under M. de Revest.

This French squadron later reinforced Louisbourg.

Does anyone know the vessels involved on the French side, the British can be seen here ... le&id=1114

Thanks in advance

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:49 am
by Navclio
As a piece of general advice, Googling “Du Revest” “Saunders” and “1757” (with the names in quotation marks) would probably get you a hit on an account of the action, and choosing "Books" as the type of location would get you published accounts. Was Saunders out of Gibraltar, trying to intercept du Revest running through the Straits?

I happen to have O. Troude, Batailles navales de la France (4 vols.; Paris: Challamel Ainé, 1867), a good source for this kind of information, already printed out and on my shelf, but Léon Guérin, Histoire maritime de la France (6 vols.; Paris: Dufour et Mulat, 1851) would probably have it too. Troude doesn’t mention the encounter with Saunders but says (vol. I, p. 341) that du Revest showed up at Louisbourg on June 15, 1757, with
Hector, 74, Capt. Durevest (Troude spells the name as all one word)
Achille, 64, Capt. Pannat
Vaillant, 64, Capt. Sauvins Murat (I think this should be Saurins)
Sage, 64, Capt. d’Abon
Comète, 32, CO not given

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:56 am
by Navclio
Actually, on the next page Troude does have an account of an encounter on April 5 in the Strait of Gibraltar between du Revest and Saunders with Culloden, Berwick, Princess Louisa, Portland, and Guernsey. My experience with the preceding war is that everybody got what the other guys were doing or who they were wrong to some extent, by omission or commission, so writers like Beatson and Clowes should not be relied on solely to understand what happened. If one of them is the source of the Three Decks account, it is almost certainly in error in some respect, and probably not just in omitting the names of the French ships. And I wouldn't trust Troude to have the story 100% correct either (or even Guerin).☺

I think I made a wargame scenario out of this many years ago.

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:34 am
by Navclio
It turns out that all Guérin says (vol. IV, p. 360) is that du Revest joined du Bois de la Motte at Louisbourg “malgé l’opposition d’une escadre ennemie. Ce dernier [du Revest], attaqué, à l’entrée du détroit de Gibraltar, par une escadre de cinq vaisseaux, commandée par l’amiral Saunders, avait forcé, après un combat de deux heures, à lui laisser le passage libre.”

Henri Laurent Rivière, La marine française sous le règne de Louis XV (Paris & Toulon, 1859), doesn’t mention the French squadrons that assembled at Louisbourg in 1757, and E. Chevalier, Histoire de la marine française depuis les débuts de la monarchie jusqu’au traitéde paix de 1763 (Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie., 1902), p. 304, doesn’t mention du Revest’s encounter with Saunders. [Jean Marie] G[eorges Ferdinand] Lacour-Gayet, La marine militaire de la France sous la règne de Louis XV (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1902), p. 359, only says that after Bauffremont arrived at Louisbourg, “Trois semaines plus tard, le 15 juin, il y était rejoint par le capitaine Du Revest, qui était sorti de Toulon le 18 mars avec l’Hector et trois autres vaisseaux et avait heureusent franchi le détroit de Gibraltar, malgré l’escade anglaise de Saunders.” There might be other French accounts in contemporary periodicals. It wasn’t a close-range, hard-fought battle, more of a pashing brush, and so it has not received much attention.

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:24 am
by Cy
Hi Navclio

Thanks for the French references.

Yes, Saunders had sailed out of Gibraltar on April 2nd to intercept.

The original source for the British vessels is the Seven Years War project at which is as reliable as many and reasonably well researched. It list four of the French vessels as part of de Revest's squadron at Louisbourg


Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:40 pm
by Navclio
No longer any sign of Saunders vs. du Revest at kronoskaf: nothing under "Battles" for 1757, nothing on the "navies" page, no reference to du Revest on the officers or commanders page. If you want more details of the action, and Google the three search terms "Saunders" "Revest" and "1757" you can find a description in a German work, Pragmatische Staatsgeschichte des letztern Krieges bis auf den Hubertsburg Frieden, Volume 1 (1767, in German, and printed in Fraktur), §377 on page 509.

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:07 am
by Cy
The reference on Kronoskaf is in the campaigns section

Looking at it now seems to be almost verbatim from Clowes.

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:50 am
by Navclio
Yes, well, there is a lot of that going around these days.☺ I don't want to research this further myself, but if you want more details from the French side (the obvious British source is the captains' journals and any report by Saunders in the admirals' in-letters), here are some suggestions:

La Courrier d'Avignon—Published outside French censorship in Papal territory, but dependent on the French postal system for distribution. At you can select the year 1757 and then start trolling through issues beginning around April 12 or 15 (two per week).

Gazette (Paris)—Known as the Gazette de France although "de France" doesn't appear on the masthead. The official line, one of three officially sanctioned newspapers in France (weekly). The Gallica site has whatever the Bibliothèque National de France had in their collections. There were regional collections and there is a good run of the Lyon edition on line; I use it for years for which I can't find a complete run of the Paris edition.

Dutch newspapers published in French (nobody outside the Netherlands could read Dutch) might also have reports. The "Gazette de Leyde" (Leide), formally titled Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroits, semi-weekly, was in the process of earning a reputation for reliability. Some bound annual runs have made it into Google Books or other digitization projects. The Europeana site has digitized a lot from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library). Google both the title and the year to find a 1757 run.

Usually quite a long time afterwards, the British general-interest monthlies, London Magazine, Gentleman's Magazine, and Scots Magazine published letters containing personal observations of naval battles; in the 1740s this was done only for major battles, so there might not be anything except an uninformative brief notice. There's also the possibility of a London Gazette notice from a dispatch by Saunders, but that's probably what Beatson (probably Clowes' source) used, so it might not have anything more than what you already know.

Re: Action of 5th April 1757

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:01 am
by Navclio
Sorry, is for the Paris Gazette, and they do have all 53 issues from 1757. Le Courrier (Avignon) is at; click on "Consulter la gazette." The Leiden gazette is at You have to select a year, then an individual issue, and then select the pages individually, which is less convenient than a PDF of a bound volume of 53 or 105 issues that you can scroll through.