Battle of the Ushant
The Battle of Cape Ushant was an indecisive encounter on July 27th 1778 between the British under Admiral Augustus Keppel and a French fleet under Comte d'Orvilliers.
Sir Charles Douglas is recorded as captaining the Stirling Castle in the 1788 battle.
Third Battle of Ushant, June 1, 1794 [“The Glorious First of June”]
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.
Some disagreement on numbers exists between different sites. http://members.xoom.virgilio.it gives the British 24 ships of the line and the French 26. www.wargamer.com/aod/juneoob gives the British 25 ships of the line and five smaller ships; and the French 28 ships of the line plus 15 smaller ones.
Wargamer.com notes that 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. Wargamer.com feels that many French captains continued fighting after their situation became hopeless because of the “zero-tolerance-for-failure” policy.