Battle of Cuddalore
Part of the American Revolutionary War[1][2]

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

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.

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.
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 battle

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 de 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 Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Defence Third rate 74
Captain Thomas Newnham
HMS Isis Fourth rate 50
Captain Christopher Halliday
HMS Gibraltar Third rate 80
Commodore Bikerton
Captain Thomas Hickes (flag captain)
HMS Inflexible Fourth rate 64
Captain John Whitmore Chetwynd
HMS Exeter Fourth rate 64
Captain John Samuel Smith
HMS Active Frigate 32
British centre squadron
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Worcester Fourth rate 64
Captain Charles Hughes
HMS Africa Fourth rate 64
Captain Robert McDougall
HMS Sultan Third rate 74
Captain Andrew Mitchell
HMS Superb Third rate 74
Admiral Edward Hughes
Captain Newcome (flag captain)
HMS Monarca Third rate 74
Captain John Gell
HMS Burford Fourth rate 64
Captain Peter Rainier
HMS Sceptre Fourth rate 64
Captain Samuel Graves
HMS Medea Frigate 28
Captain Erasmus Gower
British rear squadron
Ship Rate Guns Navy Commander Casualties Notes
Killed Wounded Total
HMS Magnanime Fourth rate 64
Captain Thomas Mackenzie
HMS Eagle Fourth rate 64
Captain William Clark
HMS Hero Third rate 74
Commodore Richard King
Captain Theophilius Jones, flag captain
HMS Bristol Fourth rate 50
Captain James Burney
HMS Monmouth Fourth rate 64
Captain James Alms
HMS Cumberland Third rate 74
William Allen
British light ship attached[9]
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 references



  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. ^ "2nd Battle of Cuddalore". threedecks. Retrieved 22 April 2020.