Database:   La Vigie   Cul-de-Sac Bay   Gros Islet  

Saint Lucia.

Other names:

12-28 Dec 1778, British capture Saint Lucia. Major land action at La Vigie. Chavelier de Micoud/Adm. D'Estaing? vs. *MG Grant/Adm. Samuel Barrington
15 Dec 1778, Naval action, Grand Cul de Sac Bay, Saint Lucia, Adm. D'Estaing vs. *Adm. Samuel Barrington
10-12 May 1781 Gros Islet, French raid British-held St. Lucia. Adm. De Grasse/Marquis de Bouille vs. *British commander(?)

14.018 -60.991, La Vigie, Saint Lucia, 12-28 Dec 1778
13.989, -61.020, Grand Cul de Sac Bay, 15 Dec 1778
14.085 -60.954, Gros Islet, 10-12 May 1781

Maps: [map notes]

  • 14.018 -60.991, La Vigie, Saint Lucia, 12-28 Dec 1778, major land action
  • Google Aerial or hybrid. Zoom out 4 times.
  • Mapquest. Aerial or street view. Zoom out 1 time.
  • Confidence: 5

  • 13.989, -61.020, Grand Cul de Sac Bay, 15 Dec 1778
  • Google Aerial or hybrid. Zoom out 3 times.
  • Confidence: 5

  • 14.085, -60.954, Gros Islet, 10-12 May 1781, Adm. De Grasse vs. *British commander(?)
  • Google Aerial or hybrid. Zoom out 4 times.
  • Mapquest. Aerial or street view. Zoom out 1 time.
  • Confidence: 3


  • "St. Lucia 1778":
    "December 1778 12 ships and 6000 men attacked the French island of St. Lucia. In 2 weeks they defeated the French garrison of 13,000 men. Dividing his force, Major-General Grant selected the flank companies of 8 regiments (including from the 28th) to form a Grenadier and a Light Battalion (1,300 men) and placed them at La Vigie. It was against these men that the 12,000 French launched an attack.

    "During the battle, solid masses of French were advancing on the slender British lines, our ammunition got down to the last few rounds. Colonel Meadow gave the order "Cease fire," intending to give one final volley and then finish the battle with the bayonet. At the order, in the full heat of battle, with the enemy in vastly superior numbers advancing on them, every single soldier lowered his musket and stood, waiting for death. It was a manifestation of discipline which even amazed some of the officers present."

    With that final volley the French advanced stalled and they fell back. 1,300 men had defeated 12,000. Within 2 weeks the French had abandoned the island."

  • Boatner: 887, 1186.

  • Piers Mackesy, War for America, Published 1993, U of Nebraska Press, p.330, 508.

  • "Battles of the Atlantic (and other parts of the world) and the War for Independence", National Society Sons of the American Revolution.
    " 12/12 - 28/1778 St. Lucia West Indies". Shown as British victory.

  • "Table Summary of Movements of French Naval Fleets During the War for American Independence"". Useful site, also shows arrivals and departures.
    Loss of St. Lucia, 13 Dec. 1779 D'Estaing

  • Saint Lucia,
    "1781 - 3 Sep 1783 British occupation."

  • "West Indies Score Card":
    "ST. LUCIA, captured by British 28 Dec 1778"

  • "West Indies and Gulf Coast campaigns", Wikipedia:
    "France enters the war, 17781779

    The approach of winter made a naval campaign on the coast of North America dangerous. The operations of naval forces in the New World were largely dictated by the facts that from June to October are the hurricane months in the West Indies, while from October to June includes the stormy winter of the northern coast.

    On November 4, 1778, French Admiral Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing sailed for the West Indies, to the surprise and consternation of the Americans, who hoped to launch operations against Halifax and Newfoundland. On the same day, Commodore William Hotham was dispatched from New York to reinforce the British fleet in the West Indies. On September 7, the French governor of Martinique, the Marquis de Bouille, had surprised the British troops on Dominica. Admiral Samuel Barrington, the British admiral in the Leeward Islands, had retaliated by seizing Santa Lucia on December 13 and 14 after the arrival of Hotham from North America. D'Estaing, who followed Hotham closely, was beaten off in two feeble attacks on Barrington at the Cul-de-Sac of Santa Lucia on December 15."

    On December 13, 1778, Admiral Barrigton's reinforced squadron, with 12 transports and more than 5,000 men, entered Grand Cul-de-Sac Bay, and that same evening, Brigadier General Meadows and Prescot effected a landing.

    The Chavelier de Micoud, who was then in command of the island with only a few officers and about 60 men at Morne Fortune, was quickly driven out, although he had been able to muster two companies of militia among the inhabitants.

    Withdrawing to Morne Paix Bouche, de Micoud sent vessels to Martinique to inform Admiral Count d'Estaing of the attack.

    The French Admiral promptly responded to the appeal and arrived at the island late in the evening. However, he decided to wait until next day to start his attack upon the invaders.

    This attack started early but on three occasions it was repulsed. Despite the superiority of his forces d'Estaing eventually withdrew, after ten days of fighting.

    The colony was then surrendered to the British, and General Grant took possession on behalf of the English Crown.

    Two years later, on October 10-11, Saint Lucia was struck by a hurricane, gravely affecting its agriculture and trade, and causing many estates to be abandoned.

    In May 1781, the French made another attempt to wrest Saint Lucia from the British. With 25 men-of-war, Admiral Count de Grasse sailed from Martinique to attack the island. He was seconded by the Marquis de Bouille who, with a large body of troops, was able to make a landing at Gros Islet. But their presence was only temporary, and a restricted success, for they were all soon driven off and had to withdraw to Martinique."

  • "The Effect of the U. S. Victory at Saratoga": "Britain aligned her available forces in the Western Hemisphere by pulling General Clinton back from Philadelphia to New York so she could send 5000 of Clinton's troops to take the initiative in the West Indies.
    . . .
    Of course, George Washington gained maneuver room; but it also gave the West Indies commanders the forces needed to capture the port of St Lucia on 30 Dec 1778. With this naval base thirty miles from the French base at Fort Royal, Britain could monitor French naval activities in the West Indies.

  • Archive"Travel by Seas":
    "... in the Caribbean, where prevailing winds are from the southeast the entire year."
    Estimated travel times in days (similar to mileage charts on a road map) is interesting.

  • "Lesser Antilles vs Greater Antilles / Windward Islands vs Leeward Islands - Confused Yet?", Caribbean Magazine:
    "The terms "leeward" and "windward" are used in reference to islands in an archipelago and to the different sides of a single island. In the latter case, the windward side is that side of an island subject to the prevailing wind. The leeward side is protected by the elevation of the island from the prevailing wind, and is typically drier and less windy. Thus, leeward and windward are not only important in terms of location in the island chain but also important weather and climate terms.

    The prevailing winds in the Caribbean blow from south to north. In the case of an archipelago - or a group of islands, "windward islands" are the islands facing the oncoming wind. In the case of the Caribbean the "southern" islands get hit with the wind first..."

  • Modern map of St. Lucia.

  • ArchiveUniversity of Alabama, Historical Map Archive:
    Bowen, Thomas, Plan of St. Lucia in the West Indies Publ: [London: D. Henry, 1779].
    Use control-f and search for lucia
    Click on "Plug-in" (if you don't have Express View, it should tell you how to get it)
    Right-click on pop-up window, click on "View Full Screen"
    Right-click and click "Fit Image to Frame"
    From this point, the image can be printed, saved out to various graphical formats, or "printed" out to PDF if you have the required s/w.
    If you save it using the Mr.Sid format, you may then use your browser (with Express View plugin) and use File, Open, and have much greater control over viewing than using the above method.
    You can save or print this map but only for your personal use.
    This is an excellent map showing troop, artillery and naval locations and movements.

  • Snippet from "Thomas Jefferys, St. Lucia, 1775", Image 4723033 from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

    Grand Cul de Sac:

    Gr. Cul de Sac

    Gros Islet:

    Gros Islet

  • Snippet from Thomas Jefferys, Composite: West Indies, 1775, image 4723024 from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at

    St. Lucia:

    St. Lucia

  • Archive "Naval Battles 1776-1800", map. This action not included.

  • "Sailing Navies: Chronology - 1775 to 1799". Not found.

  • National Maritime Museum, Images:
    "Pigeon Island & Village of Gros Islet, St Lucia" 1 Feb 1837
    "Plan of St Lucia in the West Indies: shewing the Positions of the English & French Forces with the Attacks made at its Reduction in Decr 1778 | St Lucia 14 Dec 1778"
    "Vue De l'Ile Sainte Lucie, Prise le 31 Decembre 1778 par l'Admiral Barrington 1 La Flotte Angloise 2 Canot a Soldats pour descendre | St Lucia 30 Dec 1778"

  • "Tour Of The Caribbean - St. Lucia":
    "In 1778, England being again at war with France, the two fleets made for St. Lucia with all press of sail. The British arrived first. The Morne Fortune was stormed and St. Lucia was once more in the hands of the English.

    In 1781 the great French fleet under De Grasse bore down upon this unhappy settlement with no less than " twenty-five sail of the line." They landed at Gros Islet and made a desperate attempt to seize the island, but the enterprise failed. In 1783, by the treaty of Versailles, St Lucia was handed back once more to the French. "

  • RevWar75  
    listing 12/12 - 28/1778 St. Lucia. British victory.
    listing. May 1781, not shown.

    Related sites:

    Confidence level: 2