Battle of San Domingo, 1806

1808 painting of the battle by Nicholas Pocock. Original in the collections of the Royal Museums, Greenwich.

Location Santo Domingo, Caribbean

Shortly after Nelson's Masterpiece (aka the Battle of Trafalgar), the British dropped the blockade of the French coast, figuring that they wouldn't be trying to deploy a fleet so soon. Which is exactly what Napoleon did. Two squadrons were sent out, one of them wound up in the Caribbean, the other in the South Atlantic. Meanwhile, the British were scrambling to mobilize ships to hunt them down. Vice Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth decided on his own to take his blockade squadron from off Cadiz, and begin scouring the North Atlantic. He found the first French squadron off Santo Domingo on 6 February, 1806, and proceeded to engage. The Royal Navy had seven ships of the line, two frigates, and two brigs, against the French five ships of the line, two frigates, and one corvette. The French were caught off guard, but still managed to form line of battle, with the first shots being fired from HMS Superb at 10:10 am. Two of the French ships of the line were run aground on a reef, and the other three were captured, the frigates and corvette escaped. The British lost seventy-five men killed, with another 264 wounded. French losses were much higher, with around 1,500 casualties. If Duckworth hadn't performed so well, he might have been court-martialed, since he abandoned his post, which let a French frigate squadron escape Spain. Regardless, the Battle of San Domingo was the last fleet action in open water during the War of the Third Coalition, with most of the French fleets remaining holed up in port.