Revolutionary War Naval Battle



Battle Summary
Details Stats Colonists/Allies British/Allies
Name: Action of 1 May 1781 (Naval Battle) Total Forces:
Date(s): 05/01/1781 Killed: 80 13
Location: Brest, France Wounded: 106
Duration (days): 1 Captured: 200
Victory: British Total Ships: 1 1
Col./Ally Cmdr.: Francisco Winthuysen Ships Lost:
Brit./Ally Cmdr.: George Collier Ships Captured: 1


The Action of 1 May 1781 was a minor naval engagement nearly 210 miles off the Port of Brest in which {HMS|Canada|1765|6}, a 74-gun third rate of the Royal Navy under Captain George Collier chased, intercepted and captured the 40-gun Spanish frigate Santa Leocadia, captained by Don Francisco de Wenthuisen.


On 30 April, the 74-gun ship HMS Canada, Captain Sir George Collier, having been detached by Vice-Admiral George Darby, commander-in-chief of the Channel Fleet, to watch the port of Brest, discovered a squadron of small ships. The squadron dispersed on her approach, upon which Canada chased the largest, the Santa Leocadia. After a pursuit of {convert|210|mi|km}, the Canada overtook the Santa Leocadia on the morning of 1 May.

==Battle and aftermath==

After a running fight, which lasted up to an hour and a half, and in heavy seas which prevented the Canada from opening her lower deck ports, the frigate surrendered. She had suffered heavy casualties, with 80 men killed and 106 wounded (nearly half her complement), including her captain, Don Francisco de Wenthuisen, who lost an arm. The Canada had one of the trunnions of a lower deck gun shot off and suffered ten casualties.

What was remarkable about Santa Leocadia is that she was noted before the battle as being a remarkably, fast-sailing ship. The discovery of that fact that she was coppered when she was captured came in some ways as a surprise. It was now known to the British Admiralty that other navies had decided to copper their ships as well as the Royal Navy. The Santa Leocadia was first in the Spanish service that was coppered, and she was added to the British navy under the same name.