By Webteam - 6th January 2018 6:05am
The Battle of Jersey
was an attempt by French forces to invade Jersey and remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the American Revolutionary War. Jersey provided a base for British privateers, and France, engaged in the war as an ally of the United States, sent an expedition to gain control of the island.
The French expedition ultimately failed. Its commander, Baron Philippe de Rullecourt, died of wounds sustained in the fighting. The battle is often remembered for the death of the British officer Major Peirson, and a painting based on his final moments by John Singleton Copley.
Only 14 miles (23 km) off the coast of France, and placed on the principal sea-borne supply route to the French naval base at Brest, Jersey was a location of strategic importance during any war between Britain and France. Large numbers of privateers operated out of the island, causing chaos amongst French merchant shipping. Jersey privateers even operated off the coast of America.
The French government decided to neutralize this threat. Furthermore, at the time, Gibraltar was in the midst of the Great Siege: contemporary British newspapers reported that the attack on Jersey was an attempt to distract British attention from Gibraltar and divert military resources away from the siege.
Defences in Jersey
Aware of the military importance of Jersey, the British government had ordered that the island be heavily fortified. The Governor of Jersey, Field Marshal Henry Seymour Conway, submitted plans to Lord Weymouth for the construction of 30 round towers to forestall, or at least impede French incursions on the island. King George III granted approval and funding . Perhaps four towers had been completed by the time of the Battle of Jersey, none where the French would land. Gun batteries, forts and redoubts already existed around the coast, and were being improved and rearmed. All adult males had for centuries been required by law to serve in the Jersey Militia which comprised some 3,000 men in five regiments, including artillery and dragoons.
Regular army units--the entire 95th Regiment of Foot, five companies each of the 83rd Regiment of Foot and 72nd Regiment, Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders, and around 700 "Invalids" (semi-retired reservists)--were also present. A total force amounted to about 6,250 troops of all types were available on the island. A naval force, the "Jersey Squadron", was also based in the island, but was on a cruise against the Dutch at the time of the invasion.
The Battle of Jersey is probably not well known — but when did it take place
Click on the photo for the answer.
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