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Ushant, battle of

Ushant, battle of, 1778. After France's entry into the American war, Augustus Keppel was dispatched with a fleet of 30 ships to watch Brest. On 23 July he sighted a French fleet of similar size off the Breton coast under d'Orvilliers. Though manœuvring went on for four days and a good deal of damage was inflicted, the result was indecisive, no ships being captured or sunk. The political consequences were more spectacular. Keppel was a Whig hero and his opposition friends hinted that he had been betrayed by Sir Hugh Palliser, who had commanded the rear. Palliser demanded a court martial on Keppel, which he conducted. Keppel's political friends flocked to Portsmouth to give moral support and were jubilant when he was acquitted and the charges declared malicious and unfounded. It was then Palliser's turn to be court-martialled. Though acquitted, he was censured for not keeping Keppel fully informed. Meanwhile a French squadron had escaped from Toulon to America, where it gave substantial help to the rebels.

J. A. Cannon

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