The Battle of San Domingo was fought on February 6, 1806, between squadrons of French and British ships of the line off the southern coast of the French-occupied San Domingo, the first colony in the New World and claimed for Spain, in the Caribbean Sea.
After the defeat of the French fleet at Trafalgar on October 20, 1805, the British Admiralty pulled back its close blockade of the primary French naval base at Brest, constructed between 1631 and 1635.
In December 1805, the French squadron, under Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues in the 118-gun Océan-class ship ‘Impérial’, had sailed from Brest. It was one of two squadrons dispatched by Napoleon, who ordered to prey on merchant shipping and avoid engaging naval forces of equal or greater strength
The mission was to raid British trade routes as part of the Atlantic campaign of 1806. Impérial was later captured by the British in 1806 at the Battle of San Domingo and burned.
After discovering the escape of the French, the Royal Navy dispatched a force of six ships of the line under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth to destroy the French.Admiral Duckworth’s force detected a French squadron of five ships of the line and two frigates near Santo Domingo in the West Indies on February 1, 1806 and Admiral Duckworth quickly gathered additional ships to his command.
Early on the morning of February 6, Admiral Duckworth made the decision to engage the French and his squadron set upon the French squadron in Santo Domingo’s harbor.
By end of the afternoon, all five of the French ships of the line had been captured or destroyed. The Royal Navy lost no ships and suffered less than a hundred killed while the French lost approximately 1,500 men.
Only the two frigates and some lesser ships of the French squadron were able to escape.The victory at Santo Domingo made Admiral Duckworth a hero in Britain and signaled the end of any effective offensive capability by the French Navy.