|Action of 5 November 1813|
|Part of the Napoleonic Wars|
The Blockade of Toulon, 1810-14: Pellew's Action, 5 November 1813, Thomas Luny
|Commanders and leaders|
|Edward Pellew||Julien Cosmao|
|13 ships of the line||
5 ships of the line |
|Casualties and losses|
|15 killed and wounded||17 wounded|
The action of 5 November 1813 was a brief naval clash during the Napoleonic Wars, between part of the British Mediterranean Fleet led by Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, and a French force under Rear-Admiral Julien Cosmao-Kerjulien. The engagement took place outside the French port of Toulon.
The clash occurred when a French fleet under Vice-Admiral Maxime Julien Émeriau de Beauverger took advantage of a favourable wind and the temporary absence of the British blockading force, to leave port to carry out exercises. Émeriau abandoned the exercises when the wind changed, but while returning to port his rear came under attack from the recently returned British inshore squadron. The British attack was reinforced by newly arrived ships from the main fleet, but the French were able to escape into Toulon after exchanging cannon fire with the British. Casualties on both sides were light.
The French Mediterranean Fleet had been blockaded in their principal base at Toulon for several years. Their commander from early 1811, Vice-Admiral Maxime Julien Émeriau de Beauverger made occasional sorties from the port in order to exercise his fleet, but preferred to avoid any chance of action with the patrolling British fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew. Émeriau instead preferred to make brief sorties when the wind was in his favour and the British were absent, undertake exercises, and then return to Toulon when Pellew's fleet appeared. Pellew in turn hoped to tempt the French out and then cut them off from their homeport, forcing a decisive battle upon them. To this end he kept the main part of his fleet, including his largest ships, some distance from Toulon, and relied on a small inshore squadron composed of 74-gun ships to maintain the blockade. Strong gales in late October 1813 had forced both the inshore squadron and the main battlefleet off their stations, and Émeriau decided to make a sortie to exercise his fleet off Cape Sicié.
The French fleet, consisting of between twelve and fourteen ships of the line, six frigates and a schooner duly put to sea at 9:30 am on the morning of 5 November.[a] Émeriau, flying his flag aboard the Impérial, was assisted in his manoeuvres by a strong east-north-east wind and made for the usual exercise area. The British inshore squadron, commanded by Captain Henry Heathcote, had only arrived back on their station the night before, and the main British fleet under Sir Edward Pellew was some distance to the south. Heathcote, commanding four 74-gun ships, was observing the French movements, when at 11:30 am, the wind suddenly changed direction, shifting to the north-west. Concerned about the sudden arrival of the British and unfavourable winds, Émeriau abandoned the exercises and ordered the fleet to make for Toulon. The advanced squadron of the French fleet, commanded by Rear-Admiral Julien Cosmao-Kerjulien and consisting of five ships of the line and four heavy frigates, now found itself to leeward, beating back to port. Heathcote immediately saw a chance to cut off the French rear, and ordered his squadron to attack.
Heathcote, commanding HMS Scipion, took his ship in and at 12:34 pm passed the French rear, firing on them with her port guns, as the French stood in for Toulon on the starboard tack. The rest of the squadron, joined by the 74-gun HMS Pompee from Pellew's fleet, followed in succession. The British ships then turned about and tacked across in the opposite direction, cannonading the fleeing French with their starboard batteries. At 1:00 pm the advance ships of Pellew's fleet, HMS Caledonia, HMS San Josef and HMS Boyne arrived and opened fire on the rear-most French ship, the Wagram. The British ships tacked and wore, exchanging fire with the French until the wind carried Cosmao-Kerjulien's squadron under the safety of the shore batteries covering the approach to Toulon.
Casualties and damage on both sides were light. On the British side, twelve men were wounded by French fire, while one man was killed and another two wounded in accidents, bringing total British casualties to 15. Caledonia sustained a shot to her mainmast and three or four in her hull, as well as some damage to her shrouds and backstays. Her launch and barge were also destroyed. The French had a total of 17 men wounded to varying degrees, mostly aboard the Agamemnon, which suffered damage to her masts, hull and rigging, and had nine men wounded. The Borée had her wheel shot away, and the frigates Pénélope and Melpomène were damaged in their sails, masts and rigging. Pellew sailed for Menorca soon afterwards, reducing the inshore squadron to a minimum, but Émeriau declined to come out.
Order of battle
|Admiral Pellew's Fleet|
|HMS Caledonia||First rate||120||Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew
Rear-Admiral Israel Pellew
Captain Jeremiah Coghlan
|HMS Hibernia||First rate||110||Captain Thomas Gordon Caulfield||0||0||0||Not in action|
|HMS San Josef||First rate||112||Rear-Admiral Sir Richard King
Captain William Stewart
|HMS Royal George||First rate||100||Captain Thomas Fraser Charles Mainwaring||0||0||0||Not in action|
|HMS Boyne||Second rate||98||Captain George Burlton||0||1||1|
|HMS Prince of Wales||Second rate||98||Captain John Erskine Douglas||0||0||0||Not in action|
|HMS Union||Second rate||98||Captain Robert Rolles||0||0||0||Not in action|
|HMS Barfleur||Second rate||98||Captain John Maitland||0||0||0||Not in action|
|HMS Pompee||Third rate||74||Captain James Athol Wood||0||2||2|
|HMS Scipion||Third rate||74||Captain Henry Heathcote||1||1||2|
|HMS Mulgrave||Third rate||74||Captain Thomas James Maling||0||0||0|
|HMS Pembroke||Third rate||74||Captain James Brisbane||0||3||3|
|HMS Armada||Third rate||74||Captain Charles Grant||0||0||0|
|Casualties: 1 Killed, 14 Wounded, 15 Total|
|Rear-Admiral Cosmao-Kerjulien's Squadron|
|Wagram||First rate||118||Rear-Admiral Julien Cosmao-Kerjulien
Captain François Legras
|Agamemnon||Third rate||74||Captain Jean-Marie Letellier||0||9||9|
|Ulm||Third rate||74||Captain Charles-Jacques-César Chaunay-Duclos||0||2||2|
|Magnanime||Third rate||74||Captain Laurent Tourneur||0||0||0|
|Borée||Third rate||74||Captain Jean-Michel Mahé||0||3||3|
|Pauline||Fifth rate||40||Captain Etienne-Stanislaus Simiot||0||0||0|
|Melpomène||Fifth rate||40||Commander Charles Béville||0||1||1|
|Pénélope||Fifth rate||40||Captain Edme-Louis Simonot||0||0||0|
|Galathée||Fifth rate||40||Captain Jean-Baptiste Bonafoux-Murat||0||0||0|
|Casualties: 17 wounded|
|Sources: James, p. 155.|
- Woodman. The Victory of Seapower. p. 55.
- James. The Naval History of Great Britain. p. 153.
- James. The Naval History of Great Britain. p. 154.
- Woodman. The Victory of Seapower. p. 56.
- James. The Naval History of Great Britain. p. 155.
- James, William (1847). The Naval History of Great Britain: From the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV. Vol. 6. London: R. Bentley.
- Woodman, Richard (2005). The Victory of Seapower: Winning the Napoleonic War 1806–1814. London: Mercury Books. ISBN 1-84560-012-6.
- (in French) A propos du 118 canons le Wagram, Nicolas MIOQUE