A very fine unique name Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, 1 Clasp: Guadaloupe, awarded to Sergeant James Reed, Royal Marines, who saw service aboard the 32 gun frigate H.M.S Castor in the West Indies, being involved in the chase of 16th to 17th April 1809 when engaged with the French Commodore Troude’s forces off the Isles des Saintes, during which the Castor was heavily engaged and rearmost French ship of the line, Hautpoult, was taken. He was then present aboard Castor for the capture of the last French possession in the Carribean, namel
A very fine unique name Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, 1 Clasp: Guadaloupe, awarded to Sergeant James Reed, Royal Marines, who saw service aboard the 32 gun frigate H.M.S Castor in the West Indies, being involved in the chase of 16th to 17th April 1809 when engaged with the French Commodore Troude’s forces off the Isles des Saintes, during which the Castor was heavily engaged and rearmost French ship of the line, Hautpoult, was taken. He was then present aboard Castor for the capture of the last French possession in the Carribean, namely the island of Guadaloupe on 5th February 1810, when a part of the naval forces under Vice-Admiral the Honourable Sir Alexander Cochrane.
Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, 1 Clasp: Guadaloupe; (JAMES REED.)
Condition: light contact wear, about Good Very Fine.
Provenance: Spink, December 1949 and October 1974.
James Reed is confirmed as having seen service as a Sergeant with the Royal Marines aboard the 32 gun fifth rate frigate H.M.S Castor, having joined her on 7th June 1808. As such, when aboard Castor under the command of Captain William Roberts, he saw service in the West Indies
With the British invasion of Martinique then ongoing, the French launched an expedition to relieve the island with a naval force commanded by Commodore Amable-Giles Troude. The French squadron departed from Lorient in February 1809 in an attempt to reach and resupply the island colony of Martinique. The force arrived much too late to affect the outcome of the successful invasion and took shelter from a British squadron in the Isles des Saintes, where they were blockaded by part of the British invasion fleet, led by Vice-Admiral the Honourable Sir Alexander Cochrane. Two weeks after the French ships arrived, British troops invaded and captured the Saintes, constructing mortar batteries to bombard the French squadron. With his position unsustainable, Commodore Troude decided to break out.
Attempting to escape under cover of darkness on 14 April, the French squadron was spotted by a number of small British ships stationed close inshore. These ships raised the alarm and the main British squadron followed in pursuit. The rearmost French ship of the line, Hautpoult, was closely followed by the small brig HMS Recruit, which succeeded in delaying Hautpoult long enough that the main British squadron was able to attack and overwhelm her in a running battle that lasted three days and ended off the coast of Puerto Rico.
During the night of 14–15 April 1809, contact was maintained with the French squadron by Recruit, Captain Charles John Napier firing on the rearmost ship Hautpoult and coming under fire from the French stern-chasers, guns situated in the rear of a ship to fire on pursuers. Shortly after 04:00, Pompee came within range and began to fire her bow-chasers, the chase continuing westwards into the Caribbean Sea. Frustrated by her inability to escape Recruit, Hautpoult eventually turned and fired a broadside at 10:45, causing severe damage but failing to dissuade Napier, who immediately counter-attacked. Hautpoult's manoeuvre caused her to lose ground to her pursuers and throughout the day the squadrons exchanged shots, neither causing significant damage but the French being driven deeper into British held waters and unable to drive off their opponents.
At 20:00, Troude ordered Hautpoult to steer to the northwest while he took Courageux and Polonais southwest in an effort to divide the pursuit. Pompee and Recruit kept with Hautpoult, while Neptune, accompanied by the brig HMS Hawk continued to follow Troude's main force. During the night however Troude outdistanced Neptune, and on the morning of 16 April Cochrane ordered all available ships to converge on Hautpoult. The lone French ship of the line had finally forced the damaged Recruit to retire, but could see Pompee and Neptune to the southeast and the newly arrived frigates HMS Latona under Captain Hugh Pigot and HMS Castor under Captain William Roberts to the northeast, with the Spanish coast of Puerto Rico directly north. During the day the chase continued, Neptune falling behind but Pompee remaining in sight and the frigates gaining on Hautpoult. At 17:00, Puerto Rico appeared on the horizon, the French forced to follow the coastline westwards. During the night, the British pursuers were confused by the overcast sky, which helped Hautpoult to partially obscure herself among the lights from shore.
At 02:45 on 17 April, Castor closed within range of Hautpoult and opened fire, exchanging broadsides with the much larger French ship for 75 minutes and slowing her sufficiently for Pompee to come within range. Sailing between Castor and the French ship, Fahie closed within 50 yards (46m) and opened fire with his broadside. Within 15 minutes Hautpoult attempted to escape by pulling forward and engaging with Castor again, but the damage done to her sails and rigging hindered the manoeuvre and Pompee pulled across her stern, threatening to rake her. With defeat inevitable, the French captain surrendered, Neptune, York, Captain, Hazard, Hawk, Recruit, Polyphemus, HMS Ethalion and HMS Ringdove all coming within sight as dawn broke, joining Pompee, Castor and Latona.
The British suffered 45 casualties, the French nearly 100. The remainder of the French squadron escaped, with the two surviving ships of the line sailing directly for France, eventually reaching Cherbourg in May.
The failure of Troude's squadron to escape the British pursuit highlights the dominance of the Royal Navy in the Atlantic by 1809. With Martinique gone, and French Guiana and San Domingo falling the same year, Guadeloupe was the only remaining French possession in the West Indies. Despite the supplies carried by Troude's ships, the situation there was desperate: food shortages and financial crisis causing a collapse in the island's morale. When a further effort to resupply the island was defeated in December 1809, the French losing two more frigates, the inhabitants had no alternative but to wait for the inevitable British invasion.
Having taken part in the chase of 16th to 17th April 1809, Reed was then present aboard Castor at the capture of Guadaloupe on 5th February 1810.
In January 1810, an expedition, consisting for a British Squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral the Honourable Sir Alexander Cochrane, and troops under Lieutenant General Sir George Beckwith, was despatched to capture Guadaloupe, the only island remaining to the French in the Caribbean Sea. A landing was effected without opposition. The French, under General Ernest, appeared in force, but their flanks were turned and they were compelled to retire. Shortly afterwards, the conquest of the island was completed on 5th February 1810. James Reed is a unique name on the medal roll. Only 2 officers and 8 other ranks of Castor later claimed the Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840, with clasp for Guadaloupe when it was belatedly issued.