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Date Posted: 17:42:47 08/14/16 Sun
Author: Albert Parker
In reply to: andres 's message, "REINFORCES TO DE GRASSE FLEET 1782" on 16:46:30 08/11/16 Thu

According to Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence, when the French fleet assembled at Cap François with the Spanish, the commanders decided to disperse the ships and troops. The Spanish ships of the line went back to Havana, the French ships in the worst condition took a merchant convoy (valuable sugar, etc.) to France, and Vaudreuil went to the United States for provisions and "materiel" (perhaps wood and masts for repairs). News of the Battle of the Saintes seems to have reached Versailles by May 24. Dull mentions "La Motte-Picquet's four ships of the line," not 2 × 110 + 6 × 74. Vaudreuil needed supplies from France—probably ammunition to replace what had been used at the Saintes and ships' stores that could not be obtained in the U.S. These would be escorted by ships of the line, which would not be sent until the supplies were ready, transports had been found for them, and they had been loaded.

The allocation of ships of the line was a strategic decision, approved in Britain by the Cabinet; in France and Spain it was negotiated over the winter by the two courts, including the Council of State in France. There were alliance plans for all of the ships that France and Spain had available. The French government—the Council and King Louis XVI—could renege on agreements with Spain, but that was a serious strategic decision, too. There wasn't a large number of ships in France, fitted out, victualed, and manned, available for assignment.

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