Channel Fleet 1801
The Channel Fleet 1801
The sheer size of this fleet, 49 battleships each of 74 guns or more, reflects the seriousness of Napoleon’s threat to invade England. It is unlikely that the Royal Navy had ever assembled such a powerful fleet before. Under the command of Admiral the Earl of St. Vincent (see The Battle of Cape St. Vincent) the task of this fleet was to prevent the French navy from entering the English Channel. Napoleon knew that his invasion could only succeed if he gained control of the Channel for long enough to see his invasion force safely across . Elsewhere, the North Sea fleet patrolled the European coastline seeking to keep Dutch warships at bay and looking out for stray French ships.
But, where was Nelson? His name is conspicuous by its absence from Lord St. Vincent’s Fleet, which was, after all, England’s main line of defence.
Lord Nelson was heavily engaged in action against the French invasion force. The Admiralty, reacting to acute public pressure, had appointed Nelson to the command of a “Squadron for a Particular Service” consisting of dozens of frigates, gunbrigs, sloops and gunboats manned by sailors and several divisions of Marines with orders to carry out surprise attacks on enemy invasion barges and port installations. See Attack on Boulogne, which gives you a detailed contemporary account of the action.
Listed below is the Royal Navy’s Channel Fleet of 1801. The officers highlighted were friends or colleagues of Nelson’s, most of whom had fought under his command at the Battle of The Nile and some later followed him at Copenhagen and Trafalgar both of which still lay in a dim and uncharted future. Click on the highlighted officers to see short biographies. In square brackets [ ] after certain officers’ names we record the major fleet actions at which those officers were present.
Ships & (Guns)
|Ville de Paris (110)||Admiral The Earl St. Vincent KB. Commander in Chief.
Captain Sir Thomas Troubridge KB, 1st. Capt. [St. Vincent; The Nile]
Captain G. Gray 2nd. Capt.
|Royal George (100)||Vice Admiral Sir Henry Harvey Kt.
Captain Richard Brown
|Royal Sovereign (100)||Admiral Sir Hyde Parker [Copenhagen, as Commander-in-Chief]
Captain Richard Otway [Copenhagen]
|Atlas (98)||Captain T. Jones|
|Barfleur (98)||Rear Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood [St. Vincent; Trafalgar]
|Formidable (98)||Captain Richard Grinwald [Trafalgar]|
|Glory (98)||Captain T. Wells|
|London (98)||Captain J. C. Purvis|
|Neptune (98)||Captain T. Vashon|
|Prince (98)||Captain The Earl Northesk [Trafalgar]|
|Prince George (98)||Rear Admiral Sir Charles Cotton
Captain R. C. Rowley
|Prince of Wales (98)||Rear Admiral Sir Charles Calder Bt.
Captain William Prowse [Trafalgar, frigate captain]
|Princess Royal (98)||Rear Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower
Captain D. Atkins
|St. George (98)||Captain William Wolseley|
|Temeraire (98)||Rear Admiral J. H. Whitshed
Captain E. Marsh
|Windsor Castle (98)||Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell KB.|
|Captain J. Oughton|
|Caesar (80)||Rear Admiral Sir James Saumarez [The Nile]
Captain Jameel Brenton
|Gibraltar (80)||Captain W. H. Kelly|
|Juste (80)||Captain H. Sawyer|
|La Pompee (80)||Captain Charles Stirling|
|Impetueux (78)||Captain Sir Edward Pellew, Bt.|
|Achilles (74)||Captain George Murray [Copenhagen]|
|Belleisle (74)||Captain William Domett|
|Bellona (74)||Captain Sir Thomas Thompson [The Nile]|
|Canada (74)||Captain The Hon. M. de Courcy|
|Captain (74)||Captain Sir Richard Strachan|
|Centaur (74)||Captain J. Markham|
|Courageux (74)||Captain George Duff [Trafalgar, killed in action]|
|Cumberland (74)||Captain R. C. Reynolds|
|Defence (74)||Captain Lord Henry Paulet [Copenhagen]|
|Defiance (74)||Captain Richard Retalick [Copenhagen]|
|Edgar (74)||Captain E. Buller|
|Elephant (74)||Captain Thomas Foley [The Nile; Copenhagen]|
|Excellent (74)||Captain The Hon. R. Stopford|
|Ganges (74)||Captain Thomas Fremantle [Copenhagen; Trafalgar]|
|Magnificent (74)||Captain E. Bowater|
|Mars (74)||Rear Admiral E. Thornborough Captain R. Lloyd|
|Montague (74)||Captain The Hon. H. Curzon|
|Ramillies (74)||Captain R. Barlow|
|Resolution (74)||Captain A. H. Gardner|
|Robust (74)||Captain W. Brown|
|Russell (74)||Captain Sir Thomas Williams|
|Saturn (74)||Captain Charles Boyles|
|Spencer (74)||Captain Henry D’Esterre Darby [The Nile]|
|Superb (74)||Captain J. Sutton|
|Terrible (74)||Captain F. Fayerman|
|Triumph (74)||Captain Eliab Harvey [Trafalgar]|
|Venerable (74)||Captain Samuel Hood [The Nile]|
|Warrior (74)||Captain Charles Tyler [Trafalgar]|