Nantes, where, when?

By Gordon Frickers on April 25th, 2019

Marquis de Vaudreuil”, Built Nantes.

I am trying to find out where exactly on the Loire at Nantes Marquis de Vaudreuil was built and by whom …

Racehorse

What we do know : She was an 18 gun sloop of war, a privateer, said to be a fast ship.

Meaning she was a private ship licensed to act as a warship and intended to prey upon enemy merchant shipping.

Her length was 96 ft. 7 in (29.44 m) (overall), beam 30’ 8 “ (9,35 m), depth of hold 13’ 4” (4,06 m ).

No details have been found regarding which ship captured this privateer at time of writing.

Taken into R N service on the 28 th of April 1757

Racehorse ~ a fireship, later reconverting her into bomb vessel.

Racehorse ~ an Arctic Exploration vessel.

Thunder ~ retaken by the French on the 14 th of August 1778 74-gun ships Hector and Valliant from d’Estaing’s squadron. During the fight she was dismasted and so badly damaged, the French decided she was unusable so burnt her.

This French ship was named after nobleman Philippe de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, born 1650.

Besides being a musketeer and later governor of Montreal, he was Governor General of New France, (now Canada).

Holding the titles of knight, commander, and grand cross of the order of Saint-Louis, Rigaud died at Quebec 10 October 1725.

After her capture this French vessel was taken into dock 21 April 1757 at John Randall’s shipyard at Cuckold Point Rotherhithe (Refer note) where Randall ‘Fitted’ her for Royal Naval service.

The ship being renamed HMS Racehorse by Admiralty Order 5 May 1757.

Note: Cuckold Point, later named Nelson Dock) occupied a location on south side of the River Thames just north of Deptford near where the London Millennium Dome

The British first converted her for use as a fireship, later reconverting her into bomb vessel.

Bomb vessels were hi tech for their time.

Specially modified and strengthened, they carrier two huge mortars so were very useful in attacking ships and fortifications more conventional ships could not reach, by firing explosive shells (not cannon balls) in a high arching trajectory.

To score hits, the amount of powder used and the length the shell fuse cut was part mathematics, part art, mostly lethal for the unfortunate recipients of their skilful attention.

The ship eventually achieved immortality not as a privateer, fireship or bomb vessel but after her next conversion.

Stripped of her mortars and their massive beds, she was re strengthened for use as an Arctic Exploration vessel.

Racehorse was eventually retaken by the French on the 14 th of August 1778.

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