Glorious First of June
The Glorious First of June, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ushant or, in France, as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 or Combat de Prairial, took place on 1 June 1794. The British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe attempted to prevent the passage of a vital French grain convoy from the United States. Howe defied naval convention by ordering his fleet to turn towards the French and for each of his vessels to rake and engage their immediate opponent.
About Glorious First of June in brief
The Glorious First of June, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ushant or, in France, as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 or Combat de Prairial, took place on 1 June 1794. It was the first and largest fleet action of the naval conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars. The British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe attempted to prevent the passage of a vital French grain convoy from the United States. During the battle, Howe defied naval convention by ordering his fleet to turn towards the French and for each of his vessels to rake and engage their immediate opponent. Despite losing seven of his ships of the line, Villaret had bought enough time for the French convoy to reach safety unimpeded by Howe’s fleet. However, he was also forced to withdraw his battle fleet back to port, leaving the British free to conduct a campaign of blockade for the remainder of the war. In the immediate aftermath both sides claimed victory and the outcome of the battle was seized upon by the press of both nations as a demonstration of the prowess and bravery of their respective navies. Both admirals were faced with disobedience from their captains, along with ill-discipline and poor training among their shorthanded crews, and they failed to control their fleets effectively during the height of the combat. The situation in Europe remained volatile into 1794 due to mutinied errors in provisions and pay, and the French Navy suffered greatly from effects of the Reign of Terror.
By this time, France had nowhere to turn for fresh imports of fresh provisions, and was starving because the social upheavals of the previous year had combined with a harsh winter to ruin the harvest. The only major clash was the Siege of Toulon, a confused and bloody affair in which the British force holding the town had to be evacuated by the Royal Navy to prevent its imminent defeat at the hands of the French Republican army. The aftermath of this siege was punctuated by recriminations and accusations of cowardice and betrayal among the allies, eventually resulting in Spain switching allegiance with the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso two years later. In 1793, the British and French navies undertook minor operations in Northern waters, the Mediterranean and the West and East Indies, where both nations maintained colonies. The closest the Channel Fleet had come to an engagement was when it had narrowly missed intercepting the French convoys from the Caribbean, escorted by 15 ships ofthe line on 2 August. The French Atlantic Fleet, commanded by Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse, secured a strategic success by intercepting a French convoy in the Bay of Biscay in 1793. The Battle of the Nile in 1794 was the only major naval battle of the Revolutionary Wars, taking place in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of France. The battle was the culmination of a campaign that had criss-crossed the Bay of Biscay over the previous month in which both sides had captured numerous merchant ships.