First Battle of Groix

First Battle of Groix
First Battle of Groix
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
First Battle of Groix PU5491.jpg
Date 17 June 1795
Location Off the West Coast of France
Result British victory
Great Britain France
Commanders and leaders
William Cornwallis Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse
5 ships of the line and 2 frigates 12 ships of the line, 18 frigates and corvettes
Casualties and losses
12 killed or wounded 29 killed or wounded

The First Battle of Groix was a naval engagement that took place on 16 and 17 June 1795 during the French Revolutionary War off the west coast of France. It is sometimes known as Cornwallis's Retreat.

Admiral William Cornwallis was cruising near Brest with five ships of the line, the HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Mars, HMS Triumph, HMS Brunswick, HMS Bellerophon, two frigates and one cutter, HMS Phaeton, Villaret Joyeuse. The odds being very greatly against him, Cornwallis was compelled to order a retreat. Unfortunately for the British, two of their ships were slow and unweatherly and fell behind the rest. The van of the French fleet began to catch the two slower British ships. The rearmost ship, the Mars, was caught and suffered severely in her rigging and was in danger of being surrounded by the French. Witnessing this, Cornwallis turned his squadron around to support her. The French admiral made the assumption that Cornwallis must have sighted a larger British force beyond his own field of vision and had turned to engage the enemy knowing that a superior force was nearby to come to their relief. The French admiral ordered his ships to disengage and Cornwallis and his small squadron retreated in order.[2] The action is evidence of the superiority which the victory of the Glorious First of June, and the known efficiency of the British crews, had given to the Royal Navy. The reputation of Cornwallis was amplified and the praise given him was no doubt the greater because he was personally very popular with officers and men.

The battle itself was not a victory for the British as such although it did improve morale amongst the British fleet and reduced morale amongst the French.

British Squadron (William Cornwallis)

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