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Louis-Antoine-Cyprien Infernet (1757–1815) was a French Navy officer, famous for his behaviour at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Infernet was born in Nice, a relative of André Masséna.

After a career as a privateer, Infernet joined the Navy, rising to the rank of captain. He was awarded the Legion of Honour on 15 pluviôse an XII (5 February 1804). He rose to Officer of the Legion of Honour on 25 prairial (14 June 1804).

Infernet captained the Intrépide, a Spanish-built 74-gun, at the Battle of Trafalgar. She was part of Dumanoir's six-ship vanguard squadron; Nelson's plan left these ships downwind and away from the fight, and Dumanoir hesitated in answering Villeneuve's calls to engage. Eventually, Infernet ordered his ship turned into the battle and engaged the HMS Leviathan and Africa, soon rejoined by Agamemnon, Ajax, Orion and Conqueror. Pressed to surrender, Infernet answered in Nice dialect:

Not in a lifetime, my ship has just been painted fresh[1]

By then, Intrépide had lost all her masts, half her crew, and was down of the water. Infernet was allowed to fire the last shot of the battle, 20 minutes after the end of the fighting, and was taken prisoner. Intrépide was scuttled the next day to avoid recapture by Cosmao's squadron.

Infernet was taken to England and quickly exchanged. Along with captain Lucas, he was presented to Napoleon at Saint-Cloud. Napoleon stated

If all my ships had behaved like those you commanded, victory would not have been in the balance. I have made you commanders of the Legion of Honour.[2]

After the Bourbon Restoration, Infernet was made a Knight in the Order of Saint Louis on 18 August 1814.

He died in Toulon on 15 May 1815.

Legacy[]

The cruiser Infernet was named in his honour.

Source and references[]

  1. Jamai de la vida, lou miéu batéau es pintat de nòu !
  2. Si tous mes vaisseaux s’étaient conduits comme ceux que vous commandiez, la victoire n’aurait pas été incertaine. Je vous ai nommés commandeurs de la Légion-d’Honneur.
  • Charles Mullié, Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850, 1852

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