Jean Lucas

Litograph of Lucas, created c.1837 by Antoine Maurin. Original now in the public domain.

Born: 1764
Years of Service

Born 28 April, 1764, in southwestern France, Jean Jacques Étienne Lucas joined the navy in 1778. He sailed aboard the frigate Hermione during the Anglo-French War of 1778-1783, seeing action at the Battle of Cape Breton in 1781. Lucas survived the purges of the Revolution, and was a staunch supporter of Napoleon Bonaparte. By 1805, he had become captain of the 74-gun ship of the line Redoutable. he was still in command on 21 October, 1805, when he found his ship between the two columns of Nelson's fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Lucas engaged HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship, and one of the sharpshooters in Redoutable's fighting tops was responsible for Nelson's death. The crew nearly captured Victory, and Lucas was only forced to surrender when HMS Temeraire intervened. he was taken to England as a prisoner, but paroled soon after. For his action at Trafalgar, Napoleon made Lucas a Commander in the Legion of Honor. Lucas received another command, the 74-gun Régulus, and he was in command of her at the Battle of Basque Roads in 1809. Régulus forced ashore by British fire ships, and heeled over, but Lucas successfully defended her from successive waves of British boarding parties fro two weeks. Once the British gave up, he managed to get his ship patched up and brought her into port to a hero's welcome. Lucas sided with Napoleon during his brief return to power in 1815, and retired after his second defeat. he died in Brest, France, 6 November, 1819.