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Battle of Pondicherry

Page history last edited by Cy 14 years, 5 months ago

The Battle of Pondicherry

10th September 1759


This was the third and last in a series of actions between the British under Vice-Admiral Vice-Admiral George Pocock and the French Admiral Comte d'Aché in the Indian Ocean. The other battles were Cuddalore and Negapatam.

The French squadron were actually French Compagnie des Indies vessels, not French Naval vessels.




The British Squadron - In order of sailing


Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes


Elizabeth 64 Richard Tiddeman  
Newcastle 50 Colin Michie  
Tiger 60 William Brereton  
Grafton 68 Richard Kempenfelt Flagship of Rear-Admiral of the Red Charles Stevens


Yarmouth 64 John Harrison Flagship of Vice-Admiral of the Red George Pocock


Cumberland 56 John Stukley Somerset Reduced from 66 guns


Salisbury 50 Digby Dent  
Sunderland 60 James Colville  
Weymouth 60 Sir William Baird  
Queenborough 24 Robert Kirk Not in the line


The French Squadron - In order of sailing


Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes


Actif 64 Froger de L’Éguille  
Minotaure 74 Chlr de Rhuys  
Duc d'Orleans 60 Jean-François de Surville  
St Louis 60 Louis de Joannis  
Vengeur 54 Jean Christy de La Pallière Reduced from 64 guns


Zodiaque 74   Flagship of Admiral Comte d'Aché


Comte de Provence 74 Jean-Jacques de La Chaise  
Duc de Bourgogne 60 Joseph Bouvet  
Illustre 64 de Beauchesne  
Fortune 64 Étienne Lobry  
Centaure 70 René-Louis de Surville  
Sylphide 36 Chlr de Monteil Not in the Line


Diligente 24 Macé Marion-Dufresne Not in the Line






  • At 6 A.M., however, on September 10th, the French bore S.E. by S., distant eight or nine miles, sailing in line of battle ahead on the starboard tack. Pocock, in line of battle abreast, bore down on them with the wind about N.W. by W. At 10 A.M. the enemy wore, and formed a line of battle ahead on the larboard tack; and an hour afterwards Pocock did the same, the Elizabeth leading. The action was begun on the British side by Rear-Admiral Stevens, who, in the Grafton, attacked the Zodiaque. The tactics of the day present no features of special interest; and the action is chiefly remarkable for the fury with which it was fought; for the fact that, owing to various defects, two of the British ships were able to take only a very insignificant part in the engagement; and because, in the evening, the whole of the superior French squadron bore away and stood to the S.S.E. under a crowd of sail. Most of the British ships were far too damaged to be able to pursue; and, having ordered the East India Company's frigate Revenge to observe the motions of the French, Pocock lay to on the larboard tack to enable his most shattered vessels to repair damages. At dawn on September 11th the French were seen in the S.S.E., about twelve miles away, lying to on the larboard tack, the wind being about west. On perceiving the British, they at once wore and brought to on the other tack, and so continued until evening, when they were so far off that they were almost out of sight. At that time, the wind veering to the east, Pocock signalled his ships to wear, and stood under easy sail to the south-west; the Sunderland towing the Newcastle, the Weymouth, the Tiger, and the Elizabeth the Cumberland.


    The loss sustained by the French in the engagement was, all things considered, enormous, amounting, as it did, to nearly 1500 killed and wounded. Among the killed were the captains of the Zodiaque and Centaure, and among the wounded was d'Aché himself. The French made for Pondicherry. The loss on the British side was also very heavy, being 569 killed and wounded, including 184 who were either killed outright or died of their wounds. Among the killed was captain Colin Michie of the Newcastle, and among the wounded were Captain Somerset of the Cumberland and Captain Brereton of the Tiger.






B057 British Warships In The Age Of Sail 1714-1792 Rif Winfield
B040 The Royal Navy - Vol III William Laird Clowes


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