The Battle of Jersey – La Rocque

At around 11pm, on the night of 5th January, 1781, French troops under the command of Philippe Macquart – The Baron de Rullecourt – were attempting to enter the narrow channel that led to their landing place near Platte Rocque, at La Rocque at Jersey’s south eastern corner.

It was half tide, there was a with a strong current running, and with the gravel banks and jagged rocks of the Violet Bank threatening on one side of their passage, it is not surprising that several ships never discharged their troops.

The Renard was badly damaged when it ran aground. L’Oiseau missed the entrance to the channel and returned to France. La Prudente also missed the channel entrance, but stayed offshore until the following morning.

A week later, English newspapers claimed one French vessel was lost, four others were wrecked and 200 were drowned.

The French advance party easily overcame the guards at Platte Rocque. What remained of de Rullecourt’s forces began disembarking at 2 a.m. During the chaos among the shoals of the Violet Bank, the Baron had lost almost 700 men and all his cannon.

De Rullecourt now only had 600 men; despite this he left 100 at La Rocque to act as a rear guard, and marched towards St.Helier.

Later that day, the French rear guard could see five companies of the Royal Glasgow Volunteers, with Reverend Le Couteur and his cannon, making their way toward them.

Realising that they were outnumbered, the French commander at La Rocque sent a man to parly with the advancing British troops. At the same time, the French at Platte Rocque started to turn the four cannon at the guard house towards the advancing troops.

Seeing this, Campbell broke off peace talks, and ordered Lieutenant James Robertson to attack one flank, while he led the attack on the other flank. Robertson’s order to surrender was met by fire from within the French ranks, the British attacked and the brief skirmish ended in an easy victory for the 83rd Regiment of Foot.

20 French were killed and 30 were taken prisoner for the loss of seven British troops and seven wounded. With the battery secured, and safe in the hands of Reverend Le Couteur and local Militia, Campbell returned to Fort Conway.

©Arthur Lamy

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