Friday, November 26, 2004

French Chef d'Escadre des Rabesnières

I found that I do have some information about M. des Rabesnières, who commanded the French rear division at the Battle of Solebay. I have two sources:
  1. R.C. Anderson, Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War
  2. Julian S. Corbett, A Note on the Drawings in the Possession of the Earl of Dartmouth Illustrating The Battle of Sole Bay May 28, 1672 and The Battle of the Texel August 11, 1673
I am very fortunate to have the prints of the drawings that accompany the latter booklet, as well. In the Battle of Solebay, M. des Rabesnières flew his flag on the Superbe (70 guns), which was his flagship, as Rear-Admiral of the French Rear Division. The Superbe seems to have been the fifth ship in line in that division. M. des Rabesnières had been present at the council of war that the Duke of York had held, immediately after the French had joined the fleet. They were hoping to intercept the Dutch East Indies fleet at the Dogger Bank, and draw De Ruyter's fleet into a pitched battle. Contrary winds changed the English plans. The combined fleet eventually had to resupply and refit, and did so at anchor at Southwold Bay (Solebay). The Dutch caught them at anchor, although a French frigate, scouting to sea, gave warning so that the fleet was able to get underway. The French ended up on the opposite tack to the English squadrons, heading to the south, fighting Adriaan van Trappen Banckert's squadron. As they got underway to the south, des Rabesnières' ship, the Superbe, was second from the rear of the squadron. He was engaged with Vice-Admiral Star, although at long range. This is captured on the first print from the series. The French were seriously engaged, as des Rabesnières was killed, the Superbe heavily damaged, and the total French casualties are estimated as 450.

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