Lord Rodney's glorious victory over the French fleet off Guadeloupe on 12th April 1782 is known to history as the battle of the Saintes. Towards the end of the American War of Independence, by which time both France and Spain had allied themselves to the colonists' cause in the hope of gaining territory at England's expense, the French campaign in the Caribbean had already been disturbingly successful. When, in the spring of 1782, the French made ready to mount an offensive against Jamaica, Admiral Lord Rodney realised that a full-scale fleet action was his only means of stopping them. The French fleet, under the Comte de Grasse, weighed from Fort Royal, Martinique, on 8th April; Rodney intercepted it and a partial engagement took place the following day. Outwardly De Grasse had the advantage but soon lost it and the battle developed into a running fight which lasted three days. On the morning of 12th April, Rodney brought the French to action off Les Saintes, a group of small islands in the channel between Guadaloupe and bewildered the French by piercing their line of battle in two places and throwing them into utter confusion. Before long their flagship, the 104-gun Ville de Paris, was surrounded and forced to strike her colours, and even though a number of ships managed to escape, it was nevertheless a decisive defeat for the French which saved the valuable island of Jamaica from invasion.
In this hitherto unknown pair of works, the first painting shows the opening phase of the action in which Rodney's squadron, including his flagship Formidable, turns into the wind at about 9.00 a.m. on 12th April (1782) in order to make the initial break in the French line-of-battle. The second painting shows the battle nearing its end, with the French flagship Ville de Paris striking her colours and surrendering to Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood's flagship H.M.S. Barfleur; the dismasted vessel in the right foreground is the captured French '74' Glorieux.
One of the principal artists to document the events of the American War of Independence (1775-82), as well as the French Revolutionary Wars, most of Dodd's paintings from this period were subsequently engraved. He was meticulous in his research for his battle paintings and was highly accurate in his depiction of the details of the ships. His work is strongly represented in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.