Anatomy of a Naval Disaster: The 1746 French Naval by James Pritchard

By James Pritchard

This is often an account of 1 of the main formidable and catastrophic French naval expeditions within the 18th century, leading to the deaths of as much as 8000 males. It exposes the goals and frailties of guys, the arbitrariness of luck, and the bounds of strength within the 18th century. meant as a riposte to the Anglo-American catch of Loisbourg in 1745, the so-called d'Enville day trip set out from France the next 12 months to safe Canada, recapture Acadia and Louisbourg, and ravage the hot England coast as some distance south as Boston. some of the sixty four French vessels concerned didn't go back and estimates of the lifeless reached as excessive as 8000, but the enemy used to be by no means met in conflict. James Pritchard's account of this naval fiasco sheds new gentle at the quantity of the tragedy and increases questions on the position and effectiveness of naval strength in the course of the intercolonial wars of the mid-18th century. Pritchard describes the household and overseas political conditions in France that gave upward thrust to the excursion, outlining technique and politics within the context of colonial defence and continental ambition. He reconstructs the occasions that contributed to the failure of the day trip: human and institutional weak point, climate, spoiled provisions, sickness and the loss of life of the commanding admiral.

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Extra resources for Anatomy of a Naval Disaster: The 1746 French Naval Expedition to North America

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The Battle of Toulon, which involved 15 ships of the line in company with 12 Spanish warships, was inconsequential. 57 The chief result was to increase enmity between the two Bourbon courts. Shortly before, on 6 February, an even larger French fleet of 22 ships had departed from Brest with a mission to sail up the Channel to engage the enemy, collect a formidable expeditionary force at Dunkirk, and escort it to England. But within a fortnight of its departure a hurricane dispersed the warships.

Her captain, lieutenant de vaisseau Guy-Francois Coetnempren de Kersaint, and crew had sailed alone from Chibouctou (today Halifax) some five weeks earlier. Since they had set course from Sable Island, fresh gales had driven her southeastward, and the ship's company sighted the island of Santa Maria in the Azores before the captain altered course northeastward toward France. The ship entered the Bay of Biscay in the latitude of Cape Ortegal and made for Brest. In sight of France, 15 leagues off Penmanec'h, La Renommee, 30 guns, ran straight into a British battle squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral George Anson, who was searching for her.

22 With such an interpretation and emphasis on the need for an infusion of will, there was really no need to examine the state of naval logistics, organization, and administration, to study the behaviour of individuals, or to assess the impact of domestic politics on naval affairs. This vision has largely dominated twentieth-century historiography, though a certain ambiguity remains over how such a disaster could occur during the administration of an active and enlightened naval minister. 23 But no one went beyond these conclusions.

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