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I am currently writing series of young adult novels about the European Conflicts beginning in 1792.

Where were the major and minor French Navy ports and yards, and what was the relative strength of ships and the troops that guarded such facilities?

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I don't have details for 1792, but the following are from James' Naval History for January 1793 (so probably good enough to get an idea of the relative strengths of the fleets). These cover the principal fleets at the main naval bases.

At Brest
Ready or fitting for Sea
1 120-gun ship of the line
2 110-gun ships of the line
4 80-gun ships of the line
12 74-gun ships of the line

In good condition (but not fitted for sea)
1 80-gun ship of the line
10 74-gun ships of the line

In need of repair
3 110-gun ships of the line
2 80-gun ships of the line
10 74-gun ships of the line

At Rochfort
Ready or fitting for Sea
4 74-gun ships of the line

In good condition (but not fitted for sea)
6 74-gun ships of the line

Unserviceable
1 74-gun ship of the line

At Toulon
Ready or fitting for Sea
1 120-gun ship of the line
2 80-gun ships of the line
10 74-gun ships of the line

In good condition (but not fitted for sea)
1 120-gun ship of the line
1 80-gun ship of the line

In need of repair
8 74-gun ships of the line

In addition, the following smaller ships were listed whose condition and location, at the time, were not noted.
1 44-gun frigate
13 40-gun frigates
48 38-gun frigates
3 32-gun frigates
11 28-gun frigates

No doubt, there were many even smaller vessels (sloops/brigs/etc.) that weren't listed.

Other ports and yards used by the French Navy included; Bayonne, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Lorient, Marseilles, Nantes and St Malo.

These smaller ports also operated as bases for French privateers.

Toulon (and, consequently, its fleet) fell into the hands of the Royalist forces and its fleet was captured when the port was handed over to the British & Spanish in 1793.

With regard to troops protecting the other ports, due to the unrest and internal conflicts throughout 1792, it's almost safe to say that, effectively, there weren't any. The revolutionary fervour meant that existing officers lost control over their troops (and sometimes lost their lives). New appointees were political replacements who had little experience or training in managing military matters.

As noted in the answer to a question on the fate of the French Royal Navy, the docks and dockyards lost a great deal of effectiveness and the navy itself lost a lot of experienced officers and sailors. As a result, the figures for ship strengths (above) does not truely reflect the ability of the French to put a effective force to sea.

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  • Thank you so much, is there any way to contact you on here if I have a follow up? – Kristen Stewart Jun 13 '15 at 21:40
  • There's no direct messaging system on here but if you have follow-up questions related to the history of the period, you can post them on here and I, or other contributors here, will attempt to answer them. if you're happy that this answer fully addresses your question you can select it as the accepted answer too. – Steve Bird Jun 13 '15 at 21:52

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