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French frigate Loire (1797)
Loire img 3184.jpg
Capture of Loire
Career (France)
Name: Loire
Builder: Nantes
Laid down: April 1794
Launched: 1795
In service: December 1797
Struck: 18 October 1798
Fate: Captured by HMS Kangaroo and Anson on 18 October 1798
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Loire
Acquired: 18 October 1798
Honours and
Naval General Service Medal with clasps 27 June 1803 Boat Service, 4 June 1805 Boat Service
Fate: Broken up in 1818
General characteristics
Displacement: 700 tonnes
Length: 46.3 m (151 ft 11 in)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: Sail
  • 26 × 18-pounder guns
  • 12 × 8-pounder guns

Loire was a 44-gun frigate of the French Navy.[1] She was captured following the Battle of Tory Island by a Royal Navy frigate squadron and subsequently taken into British service as HMS Loire.

French service and capture[edit | edit source]

She took part in the Expédition d'Irlande, and in the Battle of Tory Island, where she battled Kangaroo, Robust, and Anson . After the battle, Loire and Sémillante escaped into Blacksod Bay, where they hoped to hide until they had a clear passage back to France. However, late on 15 October, a British frigate squadron under James Newman Newman rounded the southern headland of the bay, forcing the French ships to flee to the north.[2] Pressing on sail in pursuit, Newman ordered Révolutionaire to focus on Sémillante whilst he pursued Loire in Mermaid, accompanied by the brig Kangaroo under Commander Edward Brace. Loire and Sémillante separated to divide their pursuers; Mermaid and Kangaroo lost track of Loire in the early evening, and Sémillante evaded Révolutionaire after dark. Mermaid and Kangaroo eventually found Loire on 17 October, but after an inconclusive fight that left the British unable to pursue, Loire broke off the engagement and escaped. The next day Loire again engaged Kangaroo and Anson, and was forced to strike after she ran out of ammunition. Out of the 664 men, including three artillery regiments and their Etat-Major, carried on board Loire, 48 were killed and 75 wounded. She was also found to be carrying a large store of clothing, weapons, ammunition and tools for her troops' intended operations.[3] Anson had two men killed and 13 wounded, while the Kangaroo appears to have suffered no casualties.[1]

British service[edit | edit source]

HMS Loire was commissioned by Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland at Portsmouth in October 1802.

On 27 June 1803 the Loire's boats captured the French navy brig Venteux while she was anchored close to shore batteries on the Île de Batz. Venteux had a crew of 82 men under the command of lieutenant de vaisseau Gilles-François Montfort and was armed with four 18-pounder guns and six 36-pounder brass carronades. The Loire lost her boatswain and five men badly wounded; the French lost their second captain and two men killed, and all five remaining officers, including Montfort, wounded, as well as eight other men wounded.[4] In 1847 the Admiralty recognized the action with the clasp "27 June Boat Service 1803" to the Naval General Service Medal, awarded to all surviving claimants from the action. The Royal Navy brought Venteux into service as Eagle, and next year renamed her HMS Eclipse.[5]

On 17 March 1804 Loire sighted a strange vessel on the Irish station and made all sail in pursuit. She came up with and captured what proved to be the French privateer Braave, of 14 guns and 110 men.

On 16 August 1804 Loire gave chase to a suspicious-looking sail. After a chase of 20 hours, including a running fight of a quarter of an hour, during which the British had one midshipman and five men wounded, and the French lost two men killed and five wounded, the latter hauled down her colours. She proved to be French privateer Blonde, of Bordeaux, mounting 30 guns, eight-pounders on the main deck, with a crew of 240 men; the same ship that, about five months earlier, had captured the Wolverine.[6] Loire took the prize in tow to Plymouth where the prisoners were disembarked on 31 August. On 2 June 1805 boats from Loire captured the Spanish privateer felucca Esperanza alias San Pedro in the Bay of Camarinas, east of Cape Finisterre. She was armed with three eighteen-pounders, four four-pounder brass swivels and a crew of 50 men. Loire had only three men slightly wounded. The captured Spanish crew had lost 19 of their 50 men, mostly killed, some however jumped overboard.[7]

On 4 June 1805 Loire made an attack on Muros. Two French privateer vessels were discovered lying in the bay, including the Confiance pierced for 26 guns, twelve- and nine-pounders, although not having them on board. A landing party of 50 men from Loire under first lieutenant James Lucas Yeo stormed the town's fort (which was firing its 12 eighteen-pounder guns on the ship), slaying the governor and many of the defenders (including some of the French crews) and forcing the remainder to surrender. Yeo hoisted the British colours, spiked the guns and rendered the carriages unserviceable. Loire had six men slightly wounded in the shore party (including Yeo), with a further nine injured on the ship, one dangerously. The Confiance was taken possession of and subsequently brought into service under Yeo's command[citation needed]. The second vessel, the Belier brig pierced for 20 eighteen-pounder carronades was deemed too unseaworthy to carry away, so Maitland burnt her. The clasp "4 June Boat Service 1805" was added to the Naval General Service Medal and issued to surviving claimants in respect of the action.

On 24 December 1805,[8] along with Egyptienne, captured the French Libre, and took her in tow to Plymouth. Libre was not purchased into service.

On 22 April 1806, Loire captured the Spanish privateer Princess of Peace, 14 guns, 23 men.

Loire was paid off at Deptford in October 1806.

On 21 June 1810 Loire and Erebus escorted 100 vessels through the Great Belt into the Baltic.

War of 1812[edit | edit source]

On 10 December 1813, the Loire, commanded by Thomas Smith, captured the Baltimore privateer Rolla.[9] On 18 February 1814, Loire encountered the USS President off New York. Loire escaped once she realized President was a 44-gun frigate.[10][11] Loire was part of the squadron patrolling the Chesapeake,[12] joining Rear Admiral George Cockburn on 28 April 1814.[13]

Cockburn's Chesapeake squadron, consisting of HM Ships Albion, Dragon, Loire, Jasseur, and the schooner St Lawrence, took part in a series of raids. After the British failed to destroy the American Chesapeake Bay Flotilla at the Battle of St. Jerome Creek, they conducted a number of coastal raids on the towns of Calverton, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Benedict and Lower Marlborough.[14] On 15 June 1814, a force of 30 Colonial Marines accompanied 180 Royal Marines, in 12 boats, in a raid on Benedict.[15][16] Nine days later, on 24 June, a force of 50 Colonial and 180 Royal Marines attacked an artillery battery at Chesconessex Creek, although this proved unsuccessful in preventing the escape of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, which departed from St. Leonard's Creek two days later.[14][17] Five Royal Marine casualties, from the ship's detachment, were suffered during June 1814.[18][19]

On 7 July, the Loire and the Severn were ordered to cruise the upper Chesapeake, to harass American boats in general, and to attack a steamboat in particular.[20] Although the steamboat was not intercepted, the Loire returned on 14 July with ten prizes in tow.[21] The arrival on 19 July of a battalion of Royal Marines, which had left Bermuda on 30 June, enabled the squadron to mount further expeditions ashore.[22] On the morning of 19 July, the battalion landed near Leonardtown and advanced in concert with ships of the squadron, causing the US forces to withdraw. The battalion was deployed to the south of the Potomac, moving down to Nomini.[23] The battalion was subsequently landed at St Clements Bay on 23 July,[24] Machodoc creek on 26th, and Chaptico, Maryland on 30 July.[25] The first week of August was spent raiding the entrance to the Yeocomico River, which concluded with the capture of four schooners at the town of Kinsale, Virginia. Further casualties were suffered in an engagement on 3 August 1814.[26]

The Loire sailed to Halifax, arriving on 24 October 1814. The Loire departed from Halifax, as part of a convoy, and arrived in Plymouth on 12 December 1814.[27]

Fate[edit | edit source]

On 14 October 1817 the Navy Commissioners gave notice in the London Gazette that the Loire (among other ships), then lying at Plymouth, would be offered for sale at their offices from the 30th.[28] She was eventually broken up in 1818.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "No. 15081". 17 November 1798. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15081/page/ 
  2. James, p. 137
  3. "No. 15075". 27 October 1798. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15075/page/ 
  4. "No. 15598". 2 July 1803. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15598/page/ 
  5. Winfield (2008), p.348.
  6. James, Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III, p 276
  7. London Gazette
  8. "No. 15876". 28 December 1805. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15876/page/ 
  9. Lambert, p241
  10. Roosevelt (1883), p. 286.
  11. Maclay and Smith (1898), Volume 1, p. 541.
  12. "LOG HMS Loire - 40 cannon Frigate 1798-1818". http://hms-loire.webs.com/hmsloirehistory.htm/. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  13. Crawford (ed), p61
  14. 14.0 14.1 Heidler, p95
  15. Marshall, p729: "Captain Barrie commends, in high terms, the conduct of all the officers, seamen, and marines, under his orders, as well as that of the colonial corps, composed of armed blacks."
  16. "No. 16941". 1 October 1814. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/16941/page/ 
  17. Crawford (ed), p121, quoting a letter from Captain Brown to Rear Admiral Cockburn dated 23 June 1814: 'the Party were attacked by several hundred Infantry and Cavalry with four field Pieces, a Serjeant, four Marines and one Seaman, retreating to the Boats, were cut off'
  18. "War of 1812 Casualty Database [of Crown Forces"]. Christopher McKay. http://www.1812casualties.org/. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  19. "The Last Stand of Sergeant Mayeaux, Royal Marines, 1814". Donald Graves. http://www.warof1812.ca/mayo.htm. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  20. Crawford (ed), pp151-2, quoting a letter from Rear Admiral Cockburn to Captain Barrie dated 11 July 1814
  21. Crawford (ed), pp151-2, quoting a letter from Rear Admiral Cockburn to Vice Admiral Cochrane dated 11 July 1814
  22. "No. 16941". 1 October 1814. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/16941/page/ 
  23. Crawford (ed), pp163-6, quoting a letter from Rear Admiral Cockburn to Vice Admiral Cochrane dated 21 July 1814. UK National Archives reference ADM 1/507 folios 103-6
  24. Crawford (ed), p166, quoting a letter from Rear Admiral Cockburn to Vice Admiral Cochrane dated 24 July 1814. UK National Archives reference ADM 1/507 folio 108
  25. Crawford (ed), pp168, quoting a letter from Rear Admiral Cockburn to Vice Admiral Cochrane dated 31 July 1814. UK National Archives reference ADM 1/507 folios 110-11
  26. Crawford (ed), p170, "A Return of Killed and Wounded in Yocomoco River the 3rd August 1814" mentions one seaman killed and two badly wounded. Archive reference ADM 1/507 Folio 116
  27. "Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels and a few of their movements". P. Benyon. http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/18-1900/L/02762.html. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  28. "No. 17296". 21 October 1817. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/17296/page/ 

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