Seeking to expand their influence and put an end to the French threat in the Indian Ocean, British frigates launched an attack to try and capture the French military base on Isle de France (present-day Mauritius) in August 1810, in what became known as the Battle of Grand Port. Taking possession of Île de la Passe, they flew the French flag in order to trick the French ships returning from a voyage, and then opened fire. The superior British navy expected an easy victory, but their attack was first foiled after gunpowder exploded on the island causing casualities and confusion, and the French ships got through into the Bay of Grand Port unharmed and ready to defend. Unfamiliar with the waters, two British ships then ran aground on the reef, and a bloody battle ensued, which ended in their surrender seven days later. The battle is commemorated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; it’s among the most famous victories of the French army, and the only naval battle the French won against the British in the Napoleonic era. French victory was short-lived, however, as the British then entered from Cap Malheureux, marched to the capital and claimed the island in December of that year, ending almost a century of French rule.

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