World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Battle of Fort Royal

Battle of Fort Royal
Part of The American War of Independence
Date 29 April and 30 April 1781
Location Off Martinique, West Indies
Result French tactical victory[1]
 Great Britain  France
Commanders and leaders
Sir Samuel Hood Comte de Grasse
18 ships of the line 24 ships of the line
Casualties and losses
39 killed
162 wounded[2]
Reports vary[2]

The Battle of Fort Royal was a naval battle fought off Fort Royal, Martinique in the West Indies during the American War of Independence on 29 April 1781 between fleets of the British Royal Navy and the French Navy. After an engagement lasting four hours, the British squadron under Sir Samuel Hood broke off and retreated. De Grasse offered a desultory chase before seeing the French convoys safely to port.


  • Background 1
  • Battle 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • Order of battle 4
    • British fleet 4.1
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6


In March 1781, a large French fleet under the command of Comte de Grasse left the port of Brest. Most of this fleet was destined for the West Indies; of the 26 ships of the line, one was sent to North America, and five, under the command of the Bailli de Suffren, were destined for India. The remaining twenty arrived off Martinique on April 28. Before passing to the lee (western) side of the island, de Grasse anchored the fleet and sent someone ashore for news. He learned that a British fleet of 17 ships of the line under Samuel Hood was blockading Fort Royal, preventing the four French ships in anchored there from leaving.

Hood was under orders from the fleet's station commander, Admiral George Brydges Rodney, to maintain the blockade of the port on the lee side, in spite of his protestations that this would put him at a disadvantage in any action involving an arriving fleet. While he was disadvantaged by the position and his inferior strength, all of his ships had coppered bottoms (improving their performance), and he was not burdened with the responsibility of escorting a convoy.


De Grasse ordered his fleet to prepare for action on the morning of April 29, and sailed for Fort Royal with the convoy ships hugging the coast, and the armed ships in battle line. Hood's fleet was spotted around 8 am, slowly bearing toward them, but de Grasse held the weather gage. At about 9:20, Hood was joined by the Prince William, a 64-gun ship that had been at St. Lucia. The two fleets then continued to maneuver for advantage, but Hood's leeward position meant he was unable to prevent de Grasse from bringing the convoy to harbor, and the meeting of de Grasse's fleet and the four blockaded ships. Around 11:00, de Grasse's van began firing at long range, with no effect. By 12:30 the two fleets were aligned, but de Grasse refused to take advantage of the weather gage to close with Hood, in spite of Hood's efforts to bring the French to him. The fleets then exchanged cannonades and broadsides for the next hour, but at long range, the damage incurred was modest. The four British ships on the southern end of the line suffered the most damage, since they were targeted by eight French ships. Hood finally drew away toward St. Lucia.


Hood dispatched the Russell, which had been holed below the waterline to St. Eustatius for repairs, and to bring news of the action to Admiral Rodney. Hood spent the next day in fruitless attempts to gain the windward, and eventually made sail to the north. He met Rodney on May 11 between St. Kitts and Antigua, the latter having left St. Eustatius on May 5.

Reports of French casualties vary considerably, from as few as 74 killed and wounded to more than 250.[2]

Order of battle

British fleet

British order of battle as provided by Clowes, p. 482.


  1. ^ Castex (2004), pp. 175-76
  2. ^ a b c Clowes, p. 487


  • Castex, Jean-Claude (2004). Dictionnaire des batailles navales franco-anglaises. Presses Université Laval.  
  • Clowes, William Laird; et al. (1898). The royal navy: a history from the earliest times to the present, Volume 3. London: S. Low, Marston.  

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.