Battle of Cuddalore (1783)

The Battle of Cuddalore was a naval battle between a British fleet, under Admiral Sir Edward Hughes with Admiral L.J. Weiland, and a smaller French fleet, under the Bailli de Suffren, off the coast of India during the American Revolutionary War. This war sparked the Second Mysore War in India. In the battle, taking place near Cuddalore on 20 June 1783, Suffren commanded the engagement from the frigate Cléopâtre and won what is generally considered a victory.[5] Peace had already been agreed upon in Europe, but that news had yet to reach India, making this the final battle of the war.

Battle of Cuddalore
Part of the American Revolutionary War[1][2]
Combat naval en rade de Gondelour, 20 juin 1783.jpg
The Battle of Cuddalore, Auguste Jugelet
Date20 June 1783
Location11°45′N 79°45′E / 11.75°N 79.75°E / 11.75; 79.75
Result French victory[3]
 France  Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Pierre Suffren Edward Hughes
15 ships of the line 18 ships of the line
Casualties and losses
478 killed and wounded[4] 533 killed and wounded

On the death of French ally Hyder Ali, the British decided to retake Cuddalore. They marched troops from Madras, and began preparing for a siege. The French fleet, under Suffren, appeared at Cuddalore on 13 June. A week of fickle winds prevented either side from engaging until 20 June, when Suffren attacked. No ships were seriously damaged, but each side lost about 100 men with around 400 wounded. The British fleet retreated to Madras after the action, preventing the landing of transports carrying additional troops en route to Cuddalore to reinforce the siege. A sortie from the town weakened the British forces, and word of peace officially arrived at Cuddalore on 29 June.


Following the December 1782 death of French ally Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore and previous controller of Cuddalore, British commanders at Madras decided to attempt the recapture of Cuddalore. The army marched south from Madras, circling around the city then encamping south of it. The British fleet, eighteen ships of the line under Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, anchored to the south of Cuddalore in order to protect the army and its supply ships. By early June 1783, the Siege of Cuddalore was under way.

French Admiral Suffren was ordered on 10 June to sail with his smaller fleet of fifteen ships from Trincomalee to support the besieged city. When he arrived, Hughes, who sought to avoid battle, moved away from the city and again anchored. After five days of adverse winds, Suffren was able to anchor near the city, where he made contact with the city's commander, Sayed Sahib of Mysore. Since it appeared that the success of the siege would be decided by naval action, 1,200 troops were embarked onto Suffren's ships to increase his gunnery complement. His fleet weighed anchor on 18 June, and the two fleets began maneuvering for advantage.


An engraving of Suffren.

Both fleets were at first frustrated by light and variable winds. When a consistent west wind developed on 20 June, Hughes lined-up for battle on a northward-trending port tack and awaited Suffren's action. Lining-up in a similar formation, Suffren gave to the order to attack, and battle was engaged shortly after four in the afternoon. The action lasted about three hours resulting in no major damage to ships in either fleet, despite all ships being engaged.


Suffren's fleet anchored about 25 nautical miles north of Cuddalore after the battle, while Hughes anchored near the city. On 22 June, Hughes sighted the French fleet while he was en route to Madras; a number of his ships had been disabled, and he reported that many men were suffering from scurvy and that he was short of water.

Suffren returned to Cuddalore on 23 June, forcing the British supply fleet to withdraw. In addition to returning the 1,200 troops he had borrowed from the city's garrison, he landed an additional 2,400 men to support the defense. A sortie from the city was repelled but weakened the besieging British, and on 29 June a British ship flying under a truce flag brought news of a preliminary peace agreement between the two nations, resulting in a mutually-agreed suspension of hostilities on 2 July.

Order of battleEdit

French van squadron [6]
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Sphinx 64-gun 64   Captain du Chilleau
Brillant 64-gun 64   Lieutenant de Kersauson
Fendant 74-gun 74   Captain Thomassin de Peynier (Captain of the fleet)
Captain Armand de Saint-Félix (Flag captain)  (WIA) [7]
Flamand 54-gun 54   Lieutenant Perier de Salvert  
Ajax 64-gun 64   Captain Dupas de la Mancelière   [8]
Fine frigate 32  
French centre squadron [6]
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Petit Annibal 50-gun 50   Captain Jean André de Pas de Beaulieu
Argonaute 74-gun 74   Captain de Clavières
Héros 74-gun 74   Major de Moissac
Illustre 74-gun 74   Captain Bruyères de Chalabre
Saint Michel 60-gun 60   Captain de Beaumont-Lemaître
Cléopâtre frigate 32   Captain Suffren
French rear squadron [6]
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
Vengeur 64-gun 64   Captain de Cuverville
Sévère 64-gun 64   Lieutenant de Maurville de Langle
Annibal 74-gun 74   Captain d'Aymar
Hardi 64-gun 64   Captain Cramezel de Kerhué
Artésien 64-gun 64   Captain de Vignes d'Arrac
Consolante frigate 40   Lieutenant de Costebelle
Coventry frigate 28  
British van squadron
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties[9] Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Defence Third rate 74   Captain Thomas Newnham 7 38 45
HMS Isis Fourth rate 50   Captain Christopher Halliday 3 30 33
HMS Gibraltar Third rate 80   Commodore Bikerton
Captain Thomas Hickes (flag captain)
6 40 46
HMS Inflexible Fourth rate 64   Captain John Whitmore Chetwynd 3 30 33
HMS Exeter Fourth rate 64   Captain John Samuel Smith 4 9 13
HMS Active Frigate 32  
British centre squadron
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties[9] Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Worcester Fourth rate 64   Captain Charles Hughes 8 32 40
HMS Africa Fourth rate 64   Captain Robert McDougall 5 25 30
HMS Sultan Third rate 74   Captain Andrew Mitchell 4 20 24
HMS Superb Third rate 74   Admiral Edward Hughes
Captain Newcome (flag captain)
12 41 53
HMS Monarca Third rate 74   Captain John Gell 6 14 20
HMS Burford Fourth rate 64   Captain Peter Rainier 10 20 30
HMS Sceptre Fourth rate 64   Captain Samuel Graves 17 47 64
HMS Medea Frigate 28   Captain Erasmus Gower
British rear squadron
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties[9] Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Magnanime Fourth rate 64   Captain Thomas Mackenzie 1 16 17
HMS Eagle Fourth rate 64   Captain William Clark 4 8 12
HMS Hero Third rate 74   Commodore Richard King
Captain Theophilius Jones, flag captain
5 21 26
HMS Bristol Fourth rate 50   Captain James Burney 0 10 10
HMS Monmouth Fourth rate 64   Captain James Alms 2 19 21
HMS Cumberland Third rate 74   William Allen 2 11 13
British light ship attached[10]
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
San Carlos armed storeship 22   George Murray, William White
Harriott armed storeship 22   Thomas Stephenson
Chaser sloop 18   Edward Buller
HMS Juno Fifth rate 32   James Montagu
HMS Medea Fifth rate 28   Erasmus Gower
HMS Seahorse Fifth rate 24   John Drew
Pondicherry troop ship 18   Thomas Saunders Grove

Notes, citations, and referencesEdit



  1. ^ Mahan
  2. ^ Tucker, Pg. 772 [1]
  3. ^ Paine p.75
  4. ^ Lacour-Gayet (1910), p. 546.
  5. ^ Palmer p.161
  6. ^ a b c Cunat (1852), p. 301-302.
  7. ^ Levot (1866), p. 468—469.
  8. ^ Roche (2005), p. 28.
  9. ^ a b c The Scots magazine. Edinburgh: Alex Chapman. December 1783. p. 688.
  10. ^ "2nd Battle of Cuddalore". threedecks. Retrieved 22 April 2020.


External linksEdit