Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1797)
The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was an amphibious assault by the Royal Navy on the Spanish port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Launched by Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson on 22 July 1797, the assault was defeated, on 25 July the remains of the landing party withdrew under a truce, having lost several hundred men. Nelson himself had been wounded in the arm, subsequently amputated: a stigma that he carried to his grave as a constant reminder of his failure. In February 1797 the British defeated a Spanish fleet near Cape St. Vincent but failed to strike a solid blow against the Spanish Navy in the uneven struggle. Admiral John Jervis sailed for Lisbon after the engagement, frustrated at the escape of several valuable prizes including the Santísima Trinidad. New orders from the Admiralty demanded that he subdue and blockade the Spanish port of Cádiz, where much of the battered Spanish squadron had sought shelter; the First Sea Lord thought that the ease of Jervis' victory over José de Córdoba y Ramos guaranteed a successful attack on that southern harbour.
Events proved otherwise. Jervis' ships were repelled by unexpected Spanish resistance; the Spaniards, under Vice-Admiral Mazarredo, organized a flotilla of small gunboats converted from yachts. With a clear advantage in the harbour's shallow waters, these vessels manoeuvred in the darkness and savaged Jervis' heavy ships of the line, striking at their vulnerable areas with impunity. Coastal batteries opened fire, joined by Spanish warships anchored at harbour, drove the attackers back, causing the British to lose grip over the blockade and allowing several merchant convoys to slip in and out of the port. An air of mutiny spread over the British crews as their long stay at sea stretched on without results. In April Jervis shifted his gaze to Tenerife upon hearing that Spanish treasure convoys from America arrived at that island; the admiral sent two reconnoitring frigates which surprised and caught two French and Spanish vessels in a night-time raid. Encouraged by this success, Jervis dispatched a small squadron under promoted Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson with the aim of seizing Santa Cruz by means of an amphibious attack.
On 14 July Nelson sailed for the Canaries aboard his flagship HMS Theseus, leading a squadron composed of HMS Culloden, HMS Zealous, all 74-gun ships. HMS Leander, under Captain Thompson, joined the flotilla; the expedition counted nearly 4,000 men. They arrived in the vicinity of Santa Cruz on 17 July. At Santa Cruz, Lieutenant General Antonio Gutiérrez de Otero y Santayana, who had twice defeated the British, hastened to prepare a defence following the British raid in April. Forts were rebuilt, field works expanded, the batteries enlarged by doubling their emplacements to 91, with earth sacks piled around. From the city's soldiers, local hunters, militia and sailors from the French gun-brig Mutine, which the British had captured in May while most of her crew was ashore, General Gutiérrez scraped together a force of 1,700 men. Nelson's plan called for a night-time landing under Troubridge: The frigates would approach the shore in stealth and disembark troops with a view to falling on the Spanish batteries north east of the harbour.
Ray was to open mortar fire on the city. Nelson's ships of the line would enter the harbour at break of dawn and seize the Spanish merchant ships and their cargo. Nelson sent a note to the Spanish authorities demanding the surrender of all Spanish cargo, threatening the destruction of the city. On 20 July, Troubridge went aboard Theseus to finalize the plans; the attack would take place in two phases. The first phase involved 1000 seamen and marines landing at Valle Seco beach, some two miles north of Santa Cruz harbour, from where the troops would surround and capture Fort Paso Alto. If the city had not surrendered at this point the landing party would march on the port and launch the final attack; each ship of the line provided each frigate 100, supported by 80 artillerymen. The plan began the next evening. In the clearness of the summer Canary night, citizens realised that blurry figures were sailing towards the pier: the British boats, carrying the troops, were on their way, they were in two groups: one of 23 launches heading for the Bufadero cliff.
Authorities were updated as adverse currents held the British back. No marine bombardment was as ships could not get any closer and though frigates could, the frigates' naval guns could not be elevated sufficiently for their shot to reach the city; the British had just one mortar which, could inflict little damage. They had no howitzers, carronades too were of no use in this situation. Spanish cannons began firing on the boats, wrecking some of them; the currents were too strong and the British decided to go back to the ships. In a second attempt, boats towed frigates close to the Bufadero. Despite the Paso Alto castle firing on them, the contrary currents, the lack of animals to carry the artillery, 1,000 British soldiers landed on Valle Seco beach with some equipment. In the middle of the night, some of the boats did not reach the beach and ended up strewn around, as no British officers knew its location. During 23 July musketry duel took place. Gutiérrez managed to recrui
Capture of Minorca (1798)
In November 1798 a British expedition captured the island of Menorca from Spain. A large force under General Charles Stuart landed on the island and forced its Spanish garrison to surrender in eight days with only some bloodshed; the British occupied the island for four years, using it as a major naval base, before handing it back to Spain following the Treaty of Amiens. The island had traditionally belonged to Spain, but was captured in 1708 by the British and was subsequently ceded to Britain by Spain under Article XI of the Treaty of Utrecht; the British retained their possession until 1783 when it was returned to Spain at the Treaty of Paris. During their occupation the British had used it as a naval base, but it was vulnerable to capture by Spanish or French forces as shown by two separate sieges in 1756 and 1781. While Britain and Spain had entered the French Revolutionary War as allies, in 1796 Spain had switched to supporting France and had gone to war with Britain; the British attempted to assert their authority over the Mediterranean but had a shortage of usable bases.
After the failure to establish a British presence in Corsica, other targets such as Menorca and Elba were considered. Once the French Mediterranean Fleet had been destroyed in Aboukir Bay, Earl St Vincent was determined to restore British hegemony in the Mediterranean. To ensure this, his fleet needed a base with a well protected deep water harbour that could not be assaulted by land; the best island harbour in the Western Mediterranean was at Port Mahon on Menorca, where a large modern dockyard included a careening wharf, extensive storehouses and a purpose-built naval hospital. At the end of October St Vincent decided to send an expedition against Menorca, which departed on 19 October 1798; the expeditionary force arrived off Menorca on 7 November. On 7 November 1798 St Vincent detached three ships of the line, HMS Leviathan, HMS Orion, HMS Princess Royal three frigates and several smaller vessels and transports to the island under Rear Admiral John Thomas Duckworth, carrying a small army under Colonel Charles Stuart.
A force was put ashore at the Addya Creek and destroyed a Spanish artillery position and from there a Spanish attack was driven off. Over the next two days the army continued inland, a force of 300 men under Colonel Paget managed to gain control of Fort Charles allowing the British fleet to enter the harbour and anchor there while the main army received the surrender of town after town, including Fournella, which overlooked the island's principal protected anchorage and Mercadal. On 11 November a Spanish squadron of four frigates attempted to disrupt operations, but a swift counterattack by Duckworth's ships drove them off. Stuart had moved his army to harass Ciudadella by the 14th. On the 16th the town of Ciudadella capitulated and control of the island was ceded to British forces. Around 4,000 Spanish troops fell into British hands, as well as a large amount of supplies and weaponry. In addition, four Spanish frigates and Prosperine and Cazilda and Pomona, were captured along with their crews.
The British converted the island into one of their principal Mediterranean bases. Many expeditions were launched from the island, Thomas Cochrane, in particular, used the island as a base for his operations along the Spanish Coast. Charles Stuart served as the Governor of Menorca between 1798 and 1800, with Henry Edward Fox taking over the post thereafter; the Treaty of Amiens agreed in 1802, called for the return of Menorca to Spain as a condition as what was hoped for a lasting peace in Europe. The return of Menorca and other Mediterranean bases was bitterly opposed by many officers, including Horatio Nelson who appeared in the House of Lords to speak against the prospect. In spite of this opposition, the Treaty was concluded, the British commander Richard Bickerton oversaw the British evacuation; the peace broke down, but no effort was made to recover Menorca as major bases had been established in other ports. Harvey, Robert. Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain. Constable & Robinson, 2000.
Knight, Roger. The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievements of Horatio Nelson. Penguin Books, 2006; the Naval History of Great Britain: Capture of Minorca
Action of 16 October 1799
The Action of 16 October 1799 was a minor naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars between a squadron of British Royal Navy frigates and two frigates of the Spanish Navy close to the Spanish naval port of Vigo in Galicia. The Spanish ships were a treasure convoy, carrying silver specie and luxury trade goods across the Atlantic Ocean from the colonies of New Spain to Spain. Sighted by British frigate HMS Naiad enforcing the blockade of Vigo late on the 15 October, the Spanish ships were in the last stages of their journey. Turning to flee from Naiad, the Spanish soon found themselves surrounded as more British frigates closed in. Although they separated their ships in an effort to split their opponents, the Spanish captains were unable to escape: Thetis was captured after a short engagement with HMS Ethalion on the morning of 16 October, while Santa Brigida reached safety, only being caught on the morning of 17 October in the approaches to the safe harbour at Muros. After a short engagement amid the rocks she was captured by an overwhelming British force.
Both captured ships were taken to Britain, where their combined cargoes were transported with great fanfare to the Bank of England. The eventual value of their cargo was assessed as at least £618,040, resulting in one of the largest hauls of prize money awarded. In 1796, following the secret terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, the Kingdom of Spain reversed its position in the French Revolutionary Wars turning from an enemy of the French Republic into an ally; the Spanish declaration of war on Great Britain forced the British Mediterranean Fleet to abandon the Mediterranean Sea retreating to ports at Gibraltar and Lisbon. This force now concentrated against the Spanish Navy, most of, stationed at the main fleet base of Cádiz in Southern Spain. A British blockade fleet won a significant victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in February 1797, dissuading the Spanish fleet from playing a significant role in the ongoing war. Other Spanish ports were blockaded with the intention of limiting Spanish trade and movement and intercepting treasure convoys from the colonies of New Spain and South America.
Vast quantities of gold and valuable trade goods crossed the Atlantic in regular armed frigate convoys. To intercept and seize these shipments the Royal Navy dispatched their own frigates to patrol the Spanish coast. To encourage their sailors, the Royal Navy distributed prize money to the value of the ships and material captured and the seizure of a Spanish treasure fleet could yield spectacular amounts of money: large sums had been captured during previous wars in 1656, 1744 and 1762, but during the first three years of conflict between Great Britain and Spain only one treasure convoy had been intercepted, near Cádiz at the Action of 26 April 1797, on that occasion the treasure was smuggled ashore before the convoy was seized. On 21 August 1799, a convoy of two 34-gun frigates, Thetis under Captain Don Juan de Mendoza and Santa Brigida under Captain Don Antonio Pillon, sailed from Vera Cruz in New Spain with a cargo that included cochineal, indigo dye and sugar but which principally consisted of more than two million silver Spanish dollars.
The passage across the Atlantic was uneventful and by the afternoon of 15 October the convoy, under orders to make any Spanish port, was nearing its destination at Vigo, a fortified port city in Galicia just south of Cape Finisterre at the most northwestern point of Spain. The ports of Northern Spain were blockaded by British frigates sailing independently, crossing the approaches in search of enemy shipping and it was one such ship, the 38-gun HMS Naiad under Captain William Pierrepont, that sighted the Spanish convoy in position 41°01′N 12°35′W at 20:00 on 15 October. Turning away to the southeast, the Spanish ships made all sail northeast in search of a safe harbour, with Pierrepont in pursuit. At 03:30 on 16 October, another sail was spotted to the southwest revealed to be a second British frigate, the 38-gun HMS Ethalion under Captain James Young. Ethalion joined the chase and at dawn two more sails were sighted, the 32-gun HMS Alcmene under Captain Henry Digby to the west and 32-gun HMS Triton under Captain John Gore to the north.
With four British frigates now in full pursuit, the Spanish captains sought to split their enemy and divided, at which Pierrepont directed Ethalion, the closest British ship, to pursue the faster Thetis. Young complied, firing long-range shot in Santa Brigida's direction at 09:00, driving Pillon's ship further from his companion; as Naiad and Alcmene streamed past in pursuit of Santa Brigida, Young focused his attention on Thetis, coming within range at 11:30. Mendoza, seeing that battle was inevitable, bore up across Ethalion's bows in an effort to rake Young's ship. Young turned in order to thwart the manoeuvre and fired two rapid broadsides into Thetis, which responded in kind. For an hour the frigates exchanged running fire until Mendoza, realising escape was impossible, surrendered. Thetis had lost one man killed and nine wounded in the exchange while Ethalion had suffered no casualties; as Ethalion subdued Thetis the remainder of the British squadron continued southwards in pursuit of Santa Brigida.
Pillon was an experienced officer with a good knowledge of the Northern Spanish coast and he intended to lose his pursuers in the rocky channels of Cape Finisterre. Early on 17 October he reached Spanish coastal waters, rounding Finisterre just beyond the Monte Lora rocks. Captain Gore on Triton, in full flow at seven knots, was unaware of the obstacle and at 05:00 crashed into them, coming to a juddering halt and inflicting severe damage to his ship's hull. Gore was able however to bring Triton off soon afterwards and continued purs
Action of 25 January 1797
The Action of 25 January 1797 was a minor naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought in the Gulf of Cádiz. The Spanish third-rate ship of the line San Francisco de Asís was attacked and pursued for several hours by a British squadron of three fifth-rates frigates and a sixth-rate corvette under George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway. After an intermittent but fierce exchange of fire, the British warships, badly damaged, were forced to withdraw; the San Francisco de Asís, which suffered only minor damage, was able to return to Cádiz without difficulties. The commander of the ship, Captain Alonso de Torres y Guerra, was promoted for his success; the winter of 1796–1797 was one of the stormiests of the 18th century. The British Royal Navy lost the ships of line HMS Courageux, wrecked off Gibraltar, HMS Bombay Castle, foundered in the shoals of the Tagus river's mouth, as well as two frigates. A French expedition sent to Ireland to assist the rebel United Irishmen against the British government failed due to the storms.
The Spanish navy suffered the effects of the winter. The third-rate ship of the line San Francisco de Asís, commanded by Captain Don Alonso de Torres y Guerra, anchored in the Bay of Cádiz during a mission to protect the arrival of Spanish commercial shipping from America, was hit by the storms, having lost her anchor, she was forced to go out to open sea. Spain and Britain, allies against the Revolutionary France until the Peace of Basel and had cooperated in the Siege of Toulon, became enemies when Spain aligned itself with France by Second Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796; the British navy, on the outbreak of the war, withdrew from the Mediterranean Sea and was stationed in the Iberian Atlantic coast, from Cape Finisterre to Gibraltar. Sir John Jervis, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, took its base at Lisbon, having been ordered by the Admiralty to focus on "taking every opportunity of annoying the enemy", asides of protecting the British trade and cutting Spain from its colonies. Among the British ships based in Lisbon, there was a division under the Earl of Galloway which comprised the frigates Lively and Meleager, the sloops Fortune and Raven.
According to Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet, Second Secretary to the Admiralty for 40 years, Galloway known as Lord Garlies, was "an excellent man, but of a warm and sanguine temperament". At dawn on 25 January, the three frigates and one sloop of Galloway's division were sighted from the San Francisco de Asís sailing north-eastwards at a distance of 11 leagues from the port of Cádiz, parallel to the city; the lack of response to the signals of recognition made from the Spanish ship put on alert its crew. The British ships began to come close to the San Francisco de Asís relying on their lightness and their advantage, both in number and in artillery, as the division's ships mounted 40 pieces each of the two heaviest frigates, 34 the lesser one, 28 the sloop. Minerve and Meleager were armed, with 24-pounder carronades. At 1 pm the British division had approached enough to open fire on the San Francisco, who had hoisted its flag, ready to engage Galloway's ships, which hoisted their British flags.
The San Francisco opened fire, a running battle ensued without intermission until 4 pm. In the process, the San Francisco received the fire of two British frigates which successively shot him with grapeshot; the Spanish ship could only return the fire with the stern chasers of its batteries, although she luffed to shoot broadsides on the British frigates, inflicting serious damage. The British gunners, noted for their skill through the war, were not accurate during the action, San Francisco hit by the storm, didn't suffer serious damage; the British frigates left the battle at 4 pm, although after consulting among themselves the British commanders resolved return to fight at 4:30 pm, they withdrew half an hour later. The imminence of the nightfall and the possibility of running aground on the coast between Huelva and Ayamonte convinced Alonso de Torres y Guerra to turn back to Cádiz instead of chasing Galloway's division, but trying before to sail between the retreating British ships to shoot upon them two complete broadsides.
The British vessels, managed to avoid the action by taking advantage of its fasteness and the darkness of the dusk. The San Francisco de Asís had 12 wounded in the action, she received a shot at the mainyard, another one awash, minor damage to the rigging and the hull. The ship had been repaired; the British fleet, commanded by John Jervis, was victorious over the Spanish fleet under José de Córdoba y Ramos. The San Francisco played a role in the battle, helping at the end of the action to relieve the three-decker Santísima Trinidad, put out of action and was about to be taken by the British fleet; the damage and casualties aboard the British division remain unknown, the action is not mentioned in English sources, though the Spanish naval historian Cesáreo Fernández Duro states that one of Galloway's frigates lost its foretopmast. A success by ship of line fighting alone against a squadron of well armed frigates was not common during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. For example, in the Action of 8 March 1795, the 74-gun HMS Berwick was captured in just 15 minutes by the French frigate Alceste, supported by the frigates Minerve and Vestale.
As a reward for his victory, Captain Alonso de Torres y Guerra was given the encomienda of Corral de Caracuel in the Order of Alcántara, which included, asides of the title of knight, an income of 15.800 reales. On the other hand, Galloway's career wasn't damaged by the result of the action, h
British invasions of the River Plate
The British invasions of the River Plate were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of areas in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata that were located around the Río de la Plata in South America — in present-day Argentina and Uruguay. The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of Napoleonic France; the invasions occurred in two phases. A detachment from the British army occupied Buenos Aires for 46 days in 1806 before being expelled. In 1807, a second force stormed and occupied Montevideo, remaining for several months, a third force made a second attempt to take Buenos Aires. After several days of street fighting against the local militia and Spanish colonial army, in which half of the British forces were killed or wounded, the British were forced to withdraw; the social effects of the invasions are among the causes of the May Revolution. The criollos, who had so far been denied important positions, could get political strength through military roles.
The successful resistance with little help from Spain fostered the desire for self-determination. An open cabildo and the Royal Audience of Buenos Aires deposed the viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte and designated instead the French popular hero Santiago de Liniers, a unprecedented action: before that, the viceroy was only subject to the King of Spain himself, no one from the colonies had authority over him. Pedro de Mendoza founded the Ciudad de Nuestra Señora del Buen Ayre on 2 February 1536 as a Spanish settlement; the site was abandoned in 1541, but re-established in 1580 by Juan de Garay with the name Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Ayre, the city became one of the largest in the Americas. A Portuguese colony was founded nearby at Colonia del Sacramento in 1680. To deter Portuguese expansion, the Spanish founded Montevideo in 1726, Colonia was ceded to Spain under the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777, one year after the creation of the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, the forerunner of modern Argentina.
The South Sea Company was granted trading concessions in South America in the time of Queen Anne, under the Treaty of Utrecht. The British had long harboured ambitions in South America, considering the estuary of the Río de la Plata as the most favourable location for a British colony; the Napoleonic Wars played a key role in the Rio de la Plata conflict and since the beginning of the conquest of the Americas, England had been interested in the riches of the region. The Peace of Basel in 1795 ended the war between France. In 1796, by the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain joined France in its war with Britain, thus giving Britain cause for military action against Spanish colonies. In 1805 Britain judged it the right moment after the defeat of the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar; this battle forced Spain to reduce to a minimum its naval communications with its American colonies. Buenos Aires had been neglected by Spain, which sent most of its ships to the more economically important city of Lima.
The last time a significant Spanish military force had arrived in Buenos Aires had been in 1784. There were six Anglo-Spanish Wars from 1702 to 1783, most of which lasted for several years and Britain had long harboured interests in taking control of the region from the Spanish before the invasions. Back in 1711, John Pullen stated that the Río de la Plata was the best place in the world for making a British colony, his proposal included Santa Fe and Asunción, would have generated an agricultural area with Buenos Aires as the main port. Admiral Vernon declared the benefit of opening markets in those areas in 1741. By 1780 the British government approved a project of colonel William Fullarton to take the Americas with attacks from both the Atlantic and the Pacific; this project was cancelled. In 1789 the war between Britain and Spain seemed imminent after the Nootka Crisis; the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda took the opportunity to appear before prime Minister William Pitt with his proposal to emancipate the New World territories under Portuguese and Spanish rule and turn them into a great independent empire governed by a descendant of the Incas.
The plan presented in London requested the assistance of the United Kingdom and the United States to militarily occupy the major South American cities, ensuring that the people would greet the British cordially and would be rushing to organize sovereign governments. In return for this help, Britain would receive the benefits of unrestricted trade and usufruct of the Isthmus of Panama, in order to build a channel for the passage of ships. Pitt began to organize the expedition; the Nootka Convention in 1790 ended hostilities, the Miranda mission was canceled. Nicholas Vansittart made a new proposal in 1796: the plan was to take Buenos Aires move to Chile and attack from there the Spanish stronghold of El Callao in Peru; this proposal was canceled the following year, but was improved by Thomas Maitland in 1800 as the Maitland Plan. The new plan was to seize control of Buenos Aires with 4,000 soldiers and 1,500 cavalry, move to Mendoza, prepare a military expedition to cross the Andes and conquer Chile.
From there, the British would move from sea to seize Peru and Quito. All these proposals were discussed in 1804 by William Pitt, Lord Henry Melville, Francisco de Miranda and Sir Home Riggs Popham. Popham did not believe a complete military occupation of South America was practical but argued for taking control of key locations to allow the main objective, to open new markets for the British economy. Although there was consensus for weakening Spa
Assault on Cádiz
The Assault on Cadiz was a part of a protracted naval blockade of the Spanish port of Cadiz by the Royal Navy, which comprised the siege and the shelling of the city as well as an amphibious assault on the port itself from June to July 1797. After the battle of Cape Saint Vincent the British fleet led by Lord Jervis and Sir Horatio Nelson had appeared in the Gulf of Cadiz. During the first days of June the city was bombarded, but causing slight damage to the Spanish batteries and city. Nelson's objective was to force the Spanish admiral Jose Mazarredo to leave the harbour with the Spanish fleet. Mazarredo prepared an intelligent response and the Spaniards began to build gunboats and small ships to protect the entrance of the harbour from the British. By the first days of July, after a series of failed attacks led by Rear-Admiral Nelson, with the British ships taking huge fire from the Spanish forts and batteries, the British withdraw and the siege was lifted; the naval blockade, lasted until 1802.
In February 1797 the British routed a Spanish fleet near Cape St. Vincent but failed to strike a solid blow against the Spanish Navy in the uneven struggle. Admiral Sir John Jervis sailed for Lisbon after the engagement, frustrated at the escape of several valuable prizes including Santísima Trinidad. New orders from the Admiralty demanded him to blockade and subdue the Spanish port of Cádiz, where much of the battered Spanish fleet had sought shelter; the First Sea Lord thought that the ease of Jervis' victory over José de Córdoba y Ramos guaranteed a successful attack on that strategic harbour. Events proved otherwise; the blockade of Cadiz, begun by Sir John Jervis in 1797, had no intermission from that time until the peace of Amiens, on the renewal of the war it was recommenced with all its former rigour. The fleet was distant from the town about 15 miles. Two frigates were at the mouth of the harbour, for the purpose of intercepting any supply of provisions for the enemy. Nelson said. Having completed these arrangements, the admiral retired with the body of the fleet to the neighbourhood of Cape St. Mary's between 50 and 60 miles west of Cadiz, establishing a line of communication between himself and his advanced squadron, by means of three or four intermediate ships.
By keeping at this distance from Cadiz, Nelson prevented the enemy from acquiring any accurate knowledge of his force. Nelson was appointed to the command of the inshore squadron blockading Cadiz. An order from Sir John Jervis directed the launches and barges of two divisions of the fleet to assemble on board HMS Theseus, between 9 and 10 o'clock every night, armed with carronades, cutlasses, broad axes, chopping knives, a lamp in each boat with spikes, a sledge-hammer, a coil of small rope, to tow off any armed brig, mortar or gun-boat, that should be carrier, to follow the directions of Nelson for the night; the Spaniards had equipped a number of gun-boats and large launches, in which they rowed guard during the night, to prevent the near approach of the blockaders. On these a vigorous attack was made in the night of 3 July by the British boats, headed by Nelson himself, which pursued the Spaniards close to the walls of Cadiz, took two mortar-boats and an armed launch. In this conflict it was the admiral's fortune to encounter the barge of Don Miguel Tregoyen, the commander of the Spanish gun-boats.
The struggle that ensued was one of the most perilous in which Nelson had been engaged. He fought hand to hand with the Spanish commandant, it was his own opinion that he must have lost his life but for the devoted attachment of his faithful coxswain, John Sykes; the Spanish garrison of Cadiz at this time consisted of more than 4,000 men. On the line wall facing the bay were mounted 70 pieces of cannon and eight mortars; such was the strength of the place. The first attempt proved ineffective, as the large mortar had been materially damaged in earlier service; the second produced considerable effect in the town and among the shipping, as ten sail of the line, among them the ships carrying the flags of admirals Mazarredo and Gravina, warped out of the range of the shells with much precipitation on the following morning. On the night of 8 July, Nelson meditated another operation under his own immediate direction. On the following day, he informed Earl St. Vincent that, though he hoped enough had been done to force out the Spanish fleet, yet in case there had not, he would try them again.
The continuation of the blockade for most of the following three years curtailed the operations of the Spanish fleet from Cadiz until the Peace of Amiens in 1802, allowing the Royal Navy to establish its dominance in the Mediterranean. Nelson had some time before he proposed to the commander-in-chief an expedition against the town of Santa Cruz, in the island of Tenerife. Lord Jervis allowed Sir Horatio to select such ships and officers as he thought proper for this service; the expedition resulted in another defeat for him. The Spanish citizens of Cadiz composed a song of the victory that became popular in Spain during the 19th century: ¿De qué sirve a los ingleses tener fragatas ligeras si saben que Mazarredo tiene lanchas cañoneras? What good is for English having
Invasion of Trinidad (1797)
On February 18, 1797, a fleet of 18 warships under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby invaded and took the Island of Trinidad. Within a few days the last Spanish Governor, Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to Abercromby. Effected as a result of the signing of the treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796 by the governments of Spain and France and by virtue of which both nations became allies, turning Spain automatically into enemy of Great Britain. In retaliation, this latter country sent a fleet to the Caribbean with the intention of invading the islands of Trinidad and Puerto Rico, obtaining the surrender of the first, but being repelled in the second. Spain an ally of Great Britain, had been defeated in the War of the Pyrenees against France in 1795 and forced to sign the Peace of Basel. An alliance convention between France and Spain was signed the following year in 1796. British forces in the Caribbean in 1796 had taken French colonies such as Saint Lucia and Dutch colonies in South America.
With the Spanish now at war with Great Britain, the general Ralph Abercromby thought it was right to render Spain's colonies an immediate object of attack. His first target was the Spanish island of Trinidad which being close proximity to Tobago, captured early in the war; the island had been Spanish since the third voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1498 and since 1777 was a province of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. On the 12th of February, an expedition, composed of four sail of the line, two sloops and a bomb-vessel, under the command of Rear-Admiral Henry Harvey, in Prince of Wales, having on board his ship Lieutenant-general Sir Ralph Abercromby, as the commanding officer of the troops to be employed, quit Port-Royal, Martinique. On the 14th the rear-admiral arrived at the port of rendezvous, the island of Carriacou, was there joined by another sail of the line, the 74-gun third-rate, two frigates, three sloops, several transports, containing the troops destined for the attack. On the 15th the squadron and transports again set sail, running between the islands of Carriacou and Grenada.
On the morning of the next day the whole flotilla arrived off Trinidad and steered for the Gulf of Paria. Just as the British squadron had passed through the Great Bocas channel, a Spanish squadron was discovered at anchor in Chaguaramus Bay, consisting of the following four sail of the line and one frigate: San Vincente, Arrogante, San Damaso, Santa Cecilia, all under the command of Rear-Admiral Don Sebastian Ruiz de Apodaca; the apparent strength of the battery on Gaspar Grande island, mounting 20 cannon and two mortars and might have disputed, the entrance to the enemy's anchorage, caused Hardy to order the transports, under the protection of Arethusa and Zebra, to anchor a little further up the gulf, at the distance of about five miles from the town of Port-d'Espagne, while Alarm and Victorieuse kept under sail between the transports and Port-d'Espagne, to prevent any vessels escaping from the latter. In the mean time, the rear-admiral, with his four sail of the line, anchored, in order of battle, within random-shot of the Spanish batteries and line-of-battle ships, to be prepared in case the ships, having all their sails set and appearing to be ready for sea, should attempt during the night to escape.
The British began to observe flames bursting out from one of the Spanish ships. In a short time three others were on fire and all four continued to burn with great fury until daylight; the Spanish had set the ships on fire as most the seamen were ashore. The San-Damaso escaped the conflagration and, without any resistance, was brought off by the boats of the British squadron; the Spaniards meanwhile, had abandoned Gaspar Grande and soon after daylight a detachment of the 14th Regiment of Foot occupied the island. In the course of the day the remainder of the troops landed about three miles from Port of Spain, without the slightest opposition, on the same evening entered the town itself; this led to the Spanish governor José María Chacón offering to capitulate. Abercromby made sir Thomas Picton governor of Trinidad as a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws. On 17 April 1797, Sir Abercromby fleet invaded the island of Puerto Rico with a force of 6,000-13,000 men, which included German soldiers and Royal Marines and 60 to 64 ships.
Fierce fighting continued for the next days. Both sides suffered heavy losses. On Sunday, April 30 the British began their retreat from San Juan; the next year the British invasion force shared in the allocation of £40,000 for the proceeds of the ships taken at Trinidad and the property found on the island. The governor Picton held the island with a garrison he considered inadequate against the threats of internal unrest and of reconquest by the Spanish, he ensured order by vigorous action, viewed variously as rough-and-ready justice or as arbitrary brutality. During the peace negotiations many of the British inhabitants petitioned against the return of the island to Spain; the Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the United Kingdom. It was signed on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace laste