Construction and French career::HMS Concorde (1783)


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Construction and French career Concorde was one of a three-ship class of Concorde-class frigates built for the French Navy to a design by Henri Chevillard.[a]<ref name="Winfield">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> She was built at Rochefort between April 1777 and January 1778, being launched on 3 September 1777.<ref name="Winfield"/> She went out to the West Indies after the French entry to the American War of Independence, and reached Martinique on 17 August 1778.<ref name="Marley">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> On 28 August 1778 she came up on the 32-gun HMS Minerva, under Captain John Stott, and after two and a half hours of fighting, captured her.[b]<ref name="Marley"/> Minerva was towed to Cap Français on Saint-Domingue, where she was joined shortly afterwards by the captured HMS Active, which had been dismasted in a hurricane in late August and was taken on 1 September by the French frigates Charmante and Dédaigneuse.[c]<ref name="Coleman">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref name="Winfield2">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

In 1781 Concorde was responsible for vital transfers of personnel, funds, and communications that contributed to the allied success at Yorktown. In March 1781 she carried despatches to George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau from France. These despatches included a request from the comte de Grasse, commander of the West Indies fleet, for information on planned allied operations and the delivery of pilots familiar with the American coast. She also carried 6 million livres to support the war effort, and the new commander of the French naval squadron at Newport, Rhode Island, the comte de Barras.<ref>Dull, p. 293</ref> Following a conference of allied leaders in May, Concorde was sent to Cap-Français with despatches for de Grasse and the requested pilots.<ref>Dull, p. 242</ref> When de Grasse received these despatches, he made the critical decision to sail his fleet to the Chesapeake Bay to assist in land operations against British forces operating under the command of Charles Cornwallis in Virginia. Concorde carried de Grasse's letters for Washington, Rochambeau, and de Barras back to Newport; arrival of this news set in motion Washington's march to Virginia and the eventual entrapment of Cornwallis at Yorktown.<ref>Dull, pp. 243–245</ref>

On 7 January 1783, Concorde was in company with Nymphe. They sighted HMS Raven, which initially sailed towards them until she realized that they were not British frigates. An all-day chase ensued until about 9p.m. when one of the frigates got within pistol-shot and fired a broadside that shot away Raven‍ '​s main topgallant-mast. The chase continued until about 10:30p.m. when one of the frigates was again in range, with the other coming up rapidly. At this point, Raven, which was under the command of Commander John Wells, struck. The French Navy took Raven into service under the name Cérès, which she had born when under French colours between 1778 and 1782.

The battle between Concorde and HMS Minerva

On 15 February the 74-gun HMS Magnificent, under Captain Robert Linzee, sighted Concorde.<ref name="Allen">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Magnificent had sailed from Gros Islet Bay on 12 February on a cruise in company with the 64-gun ships HMS Prudent and HMS St Albans, and on sighting the strange sail, Magnificent gave chase. She was close enough to identify the mysterious ship as a frigate by 18:00, and by 20:00 as darkness fell Concorde opened fire on her pursuer with her stern guns.<ref name="Allen"/> Magnificent overhauled the French ship by 21:15, and after fifteen minutes forced her to strike her colours.<ref name="Allen"/> Magnificent took possession of Concorde, the latter being described as carrying 36 guns and 300 men, and being under the command of M. le Chevalier du Clesmaur. Shortly after surrendering the Concorde‍ '​s maintopsail caught fire, forcing the crew to cut away the mainmast to extinguish it.<ref name="Allen"/> Prudent and St Albans came up two hours later and Magnificent towed Concorde to St. John's, Antigua.<ref name="Allen"/>

HMS Concorde (1783) sections
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Construction and French career
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