Atalante (32)

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Navies >> French Navy >> Atalante (32)

Origin and History

The frigate was built by Joseph-Véronique-Charles Chapelle at Toulon and launched in 1741.

During the Seven Years' War, the frigate was under the command of:

  • in 1756: Captain du Captain du Chaffault
  • in 1759 and 1760: Jean Vauquelin

The frigate was burnt on May 17 1760 after an engagement with the British Navy near Pointe-aux-Trembles (present-day Neuville) on the Saint-Laurent river.

Service during the War

In 1756, the frigate was part of a small squadron who sailed from France to Martinique under the command of Captain d'Aubigny. Besides this frigate, the squadron consisted of the Prudent (74) and the frigate Zéphir (30). On March 11 at daybreak, this small squadron sighted the British ship of the line Warwick (60), cruising off Martinique, who bore away under a press of sail. The Warwick was a dull sailer, had less than 300 men fit for service, and was so crank that she could rarely use her lower deck guns. As there was a heavy sea running, she was unable to use them and she had to rely almost entirely on the 9-pdrs of her upper deck and quarter-deck. The Atalante was the first to come up with the chase, and, hanging on her quarter, out of reach of her weather broadside, kept up a galling fire. The wind shifted in a hard squall; both ships were taken aback; and before the Warwick, whose rigging was much cut, could pay off her head, the Prudent drew close up and opened fire. Shuldham ordered the great guns to play upon the Prudent only, and the small-arm men to keep up their fire on the Atalante; but it was still impossible to use the lower deck guns, the ship being half swamped; and after half an hour more, being defenceless and unmanageable, she struck her flag.

In March 1759, the frigate joined the flotilla of privateers and merchantmen assembled under the command of Jacques Kanon to bring powder, provisions and petty reinforcement (600 recruits) to Canada. On May 19, the frigate arrived at Québec. On June 5, when all the vessels of Kanon's squadron which had not been sacrificed to make fireships were sent for safety to Sainte-Anne-de-Batiscan near Trois-Rivières, only the frigates Atalante (32) and Pomone (30) remained at Québec.

On April 20 1760, the frigate was part of Vauquelin's small flotilla who sailed from Sorel to escort Lévis' Army in its expedition against Québec. On April 28, the flotilla reached Anse-au-Foulon while Lévis laid siege to the town. On May 3, Lévis resolved to send Vauquelin aboard the Atalante, along with an armed schooner below Québec to intercept any British transport vessels arriving at Québec. However, only the schooner managed to pass under the guns of the place. On May 9, the British relief fleet started to arrive and Lévis was forced to lift the siege. On May 16 at daybreak, in response to the expressed wishes of General Murray, Commodore Swanton gave orders to the Diana (32) and the Lowestoffe (28), soon followed by the Vanguard (70), to pass the town and to attack the French vessels in the river above. At 5:00 a.m., the 6 French vessels (2 frigates, 2 smaller armed ships, and 2 schooners), under command of the gallant Captain Vauquelin, were setting sail when the British vessels appeared. The French vessels cut their cables. The frigate Pomone (30) made a bad manoeuvre and ran aground. The two British frigates ignored her and pursued the Atalante who joined the French transport vessels at Cap-Rouge. Seeing that the British frigates were catching up with the French transport vessels, the commander of the Atalante ordered them to beach so that Lévis could salvage the provisions they transported. The Atalante then sailed upstream but was forced to run aground at Pointe-aux-Trembles. Vauquelin did not belie his reputation and fought his ship for two hours with persistent bravery till his ammunition was spent, refused even then to strike his flag, and being made prisoner, was treated by his captors with distinguished honour. Meanwhile, the Vanguard (70) did not sail farther than Saint-Michel and returned to Anse-au-Foulon, enfilading the French trenches and forcing their abandonment. She then sailed back for Québec. After the engagement, the two British frigates remained at Pointe-aux-Trembles. The destruction of his vessels was a death-blow to the hopes of Lévis, for they contained his stores of food and ammunition. Lévis resolved to wait for the night before retiring. The Atalante was so heavily damaged that the British burned her on May 17.


Technical specifications
Guns 32 (10 x 12-pdrs, 22 x 8-pdrs)
Gundeck no information available yet
Quarterdeck and Forecastle no information available yet
Crew no information available yet
Length 115 ft (35.05 m)
Width 30 ft 10 in (9.40 m)
Depth 14 ft (4.27 m)
Displacement 515 long tons (496 tonneaux)


This article contains texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Clowes, Wm. Laird, The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, p. 290

Other sources

Deschênes, Ronald: Frégates du Roy de 1682 à 1767, Avril 2001

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Vauquelin, Jean

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.