Battle of Lagos

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The Battle of Lagos was a sea battle fought between a fleet of the British Royal Navy commanded by Admiral Boscawen and a French fleet under Commodore de la Clue Sabran in the Bay of Lagos (far southern Portugal) in August 1759. It is described as a running battle between two fleets heading in the same direction.

The French fleet had been blockaded in the Mediterranean French port of Toulon, but made use of the British need to refit in Gibraltar by breaking out and heading out into the Atlantic on a run to southern Brittany where French troops, material and troop-barges were being concentrated prior to an attempted invasion of Britain.

They were seen at evening by one of Boscawen’s frigates; 15 ships, slipping along the north African coast; and the main British fleet left port immediately. The British had caught the French by morning, however five had parted with the main French fleet during the night and had headed for Cadiz. The British came up upon the remaining French by mid afternoon and a running fight began which then became confused as the wind died. In the battle, Boscawen’s flagship was damaged aloft and he was forced to transfer to one of the other line of battle ships.

The battle continued through the night. Two of the French ships escaped in the dark. At dawn the others were seen near the Portuguese shore. De la Clue’s flagship ran ashore, its crew was evacuated and the ship burnt. The remaining three sought shelter under the guns of the Portuguese defences but the British went in after them. Two were captured and the other burnt.

Commodore de la Clue died from wounds sustained in the battle.

In an interesting but completely unimportant piece of trivia, whilst Admiral Boscawen was being transferred to his new flagship during the battle his boat was hit by round shot and began to sink. The Admiral saved himself and crew by plugging the hole with his wig.