Admiral Charles-René Magon de Médine

Charles-René Magon de Médine
Admiral who served much of his career in the Indian Ocean and was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar

Born: November 12, 1763

Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France

Died: October 21, 1805

Cause of Death: Killed in action

Place of Death: Trafalgar, Spain

Arc de Triomphe: MAGON on the south pillar


Joining the navy as a garde de la marine in 1777, Charles-René Magon de Médine first set sail in 1778 with the squadron of the Count of Orvilliers. That July he took part in the opening naval battles between France and Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War when he served at the naval Battle of Ushant. Continuing to take part in that war, Magon joined the ship Solitaire in Admiral de Guichen's squadron in 1780 and he took part in the combats of April 17th, May 15, and May 19th of that year. During that time he was also promoted to ensign of vessel. In 1781 Magon fought at the combats on August 28th, August 29th, and September 5th, and then in April of 1782 he was taken prisoner by the British in the battle of April 19th, 1782.

Magon was finally released in late 1782 and afterwards he was sent to serve in the Indian Ocean. In May of 1786 he received a promotion to lieutenant of vessel. By the time of the Revolution, Magon was still serving in southeast Asia and in 1791 he was given command of the corvette Minerve and sent to raise the tricolor at the French establishments in India. Once that mission was completed, Magon next took command of the frigate Cybèle and he served in the Indian Ocean until he was relieved of command and arrested due to his noble birth at Île de France. However, before long he was acquitted of all charges and he became the maritime aide to the governor of French establishments in India. In 1795 Magon was promoted to captain of vessel and he continued to command a frigate in the Indian Ocean, occasionally dueling with British ships.

Magon finally returned to France in 1798 and before long he was sent out again, this time to escort two ships of the Royal Company of the Philippines. During the voyage, he fought off enemy ships in combat in April and he successfully escorted the ships to their destination. In recognition of his service, the Royal Company of the Philippines awarded Magon an armor of honor. Magon next returned to France, where he was immediately relieved for having opposed agents of the Directory at Île de France in the Indian Ocean. However, Admiral Bruix used his influence to reinstate Magon's rank and then employed him in inspecting the ports. In 1801 Magon took command of the ship Mont-Blanc for the expedition to Saint-Domingue. During that expedition, he seized Fort-Dauphin in February of 1802 and then the following month he was promoted to rear admiral.

By 1803 Admiral Magon was back in France and commanding the naval forces stationed at Rochefort. The next year he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor and then placed in command of three ships. In 1805 Magon made the ship Algésiras his flagship and that May he and his ships joined Admiral Villeneuve's squadron at Fort-de-France. Magon took part in the Battle of Trafalgar later that year, serving as second in command of the reserve under Spanish Admiral Gravina. During the battle while he was engaged with the British vessel HMS Tonnant he was badly wounded in the arm and thigh. Later during the battle he was killed by a shot of grapeshot to the head.


Updated January 2017

© Nathan D. Jensen