On 28 August 1796 this combined Franco-Spanish squadron of 20 vessels, carrying 1,500 regular troops, appeared off the coast of Newfoundland. A boom was constructed across the harbour and three fire ships prepared, on 19 August a treaty of alliance and defensive, between France and Spain was signed at San Ildefonso, by which the latter power was to have a fleet in readiness to assist the French. The treaty was ratified in Paris on 12 September, and on 5 October a declaration of war by Spain against Great Britain was issued from Madrid, the fleet, under the command of Don Juan de Langara, put to sea from Cadiz. Against this force Vice-Admiral Wallace at St. Johns could only oppose the old Romney of 50 guns, captain Taylor, in the Andromeda, of thirty-two guns, had parted for the banks with orders to cruise there for the protection of the sea trade. On 3 September he spoke with a schooner, the master of which informed him that he had seen on the coast an enemys fleet, consisting of ships of the line.
Subsequent reports increased alarm on the mainland by telling of French landings in Conception Bay, Richery made for St. Johns, estimating that with his superior firepower, he could pound Fort Amherst into submission. Therefore, landing on the interior of the harbour was not seen as a feasible goal, outnumbered at sea, the British retired behind the forts and batteries of St. Johns and prepared to put up stiff resistance. It was the morning of 2 September 1796 when the French fleet was sighted off the coast, Wallace did not have a large garrison in St. Johns at the time, so he tried to give the impression that he had. This was intended to make the French believe that St. Johns would be too costly to try to take and he had his men erect tents on both sides of the entrance to the Narrows and marched them to and fro at Fort Amherst and below Signal Hill. Richery was handicapped by having no intelligence of the defenses of St. Johns and he had to depend for information on John Morridge, master of a fishing ship belonging to Governor Wallace, who was one of the prisoners taken at Bay Bulls.
Richerys huge fleet hove to off Cape Spear for a day observing the daunting sight, the next morning, Richery formed a battle line and drove for the harbour entrance. As they came within the range of the twenty-four pounders at Fort Amherst, tacking the great ships, he headed back out to sea. The ruse had worked and the town saved, in France, the public were informed that Richery had forced the surrender of St. Johns and captured large quantities of shipping and sent more than a thousand sailors as prisoners to Santo Domingo. Not until October did authentic information reach England, when it was learned that the French admiral had given up the plan of an assault on St. Johns and had left the coast on 29 September. On 4 September the French squadron entered Bay Bulls, the town surrendered on their approach. Admiral Richery plundered and destroyed the settlement and shipping, including the fishing-stages. 57 buildings and 47 fishing ships were captured along with more than 400 prisoners, the French commodore sent an officer with a flag of truce demanding the surrender of the town.
This was refused, but the approach of the squadron compelled the British commanding officer to destroy the fishing-stages, Richery destroyed all the buildings and fishing-stages he found at Saint Pierre and Miquelon, claiming the islands for France but leaving them unpopulated
Battle of Cape Finisterre (1805)
The fragile Peace of Amiens of 1802 had come to an end when Napoleon formally annexed the Italian state of Piedmont and on 18 May 1803 Britain was once again at war with France. Napoleon planned to end the British blockade by invading and conquering Britain, by 1805 his Armée dAngleterre was 150,000 strong and encamped at Boulogne. If this army could cross the English Channel, victory over the poorly trained and equipped militias was very likely. The plan was that the French navy would escape from the British blockades of Toulon and Brest and threaten to attack the West Indies, Villeneuve sailed from Toulon on 29 March 1805 with eleven ships of the line, six frigates and two brigs. He evaded Admiral Nelsons blockading fleet and passed the Strait of Gibraltar on 8 April, at Cádiz he drove off the British blockading squadron and was joined by six Spanish ships of the line. The combined fleet sailed for the West Indies, reaching Martinique on 12 May, Nelson was kept in the Mediterranean by westerly winds and did not pass the Strait until 7 May 1805.
The British fleet of ten ships reached Antigua on 4 June, Villeneuve waited at Martinique for Admiral Ganteaumes Brest fleet to join him, but it remained blockaded in port and did not appear. Pleas from French army officers for Villeneuve to attack British colonies went unheeded — except for the recapture of the fort of Diamond Rock — until 4 June when he set out from Martinique. While in the Antilles, the Franco-Spanish fleet ran into a British convoy worth 5 million francs escorted by the frigate Barbadoes,28 guns, Villeneuve hoisted general chase and two French frigates with the Spanish ship Argonauta,80 guns, captured all the ships but one escort. On 30 June the combined squadron captured and burned an English 14-gun privateer, the privateer was burned and the merchant was taken in tow by the French frigate Sirène. The fleet sailed back to Europe, and on 9 July the French ship Indomptable lost its main spar in a gale that damaged some other vessels slightly, the Atlantic crossings had been very difficult according to Spanish Admiral Gravina who had crossed the Atlantic eleven times.
So with some ships in bad condition, tired crews and scarce victuals, news of the returning French fleet reached Vice Admiral Robert Calder on 19 July. He was ordered to lift his blockade of the ports of Rochefort and Ferrol, the fleets sighted each other at about 11,00 on 22 July. After several hours of manoeuvring to the south-west, the action began at about 17,15 as the British fleet, with Hero in the vanguard, in poor visibility, the battle became a confused melee. After a fierce engagement in which Malta suffered five killed and forty wounded the British ship battled it out, at about 20,00 Buller forced the Spanish 80-gun San Rafael to strike, and afterwards sent the Maltas boats to take possession of the Spanish 74-gun Firme. Calder signalled to break-off the action at 20,25, aiming to continue the battle the next day, in the failing light and general confusion some ships continued to fire for another hour. Daybreak on 23 July found the fleets 27 kilometres apart, accordingly, he declined to attack and headed northeast with his prizes.
Villeneuves report claims that at first he intended to attack, but in the very light breezes it took all day to come up to the British and he decided not to risk combat late in the day
Invasion of the Cape Colony
The Invasion of the Cape Colony was a British military expedition launched in 1795 against the Dutch Cape Colony at the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Southern Africa. It therefore held vital importance, although it was otherwise economically insignificant. In the winter of 1794, during the French Revolutionary Wars, French troops entered the Dutch Republic, in response, Great Britain launched operations against the Dutch Empire to use of its facilities against the French Navy. The British expedition was led by Vice-Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone and sailed in April 1795, attempts were made to negotiate a settlement with the colony, but talks achieved nothing and an amphibious landing was made on 7 August. A short battle was fought at Muizenberg, and skirmishing between British and Dutch forces continued until September when a military force landed. With Cape Town under threat, Dutch Governor Abraham Josias Sluysken surrendered the colony, Elphinstone subsequently strengthened the garrison against counterattack and stationed a Royal Navy squadron off the port.
Almost a year a Dutch reinforcement convoy reached the only to find that it was badly outnumbered. The British occupation continued until the Peace of Amiens in 1802 when it was returned to the Dutch and this brought the war to the Indian Ocean, where both Britain and the Netherlands maintained lucrative empires. Trade from these empires was menaced by French privateers and warships operating from Île de France, the Cape Colony was administered from two towns, the larger Cape Town on the wide Table Bay facing west and smaller Simons Town on False Bay facing south. Neither bay was sheltered from Atlantic storms and both were dangerous, with winds and rocks posing considerable threats to shipping. This garrison was centered on the Castle of Good Hope and operated from a series of fortifications which protected Table Bay. False Bay was more weakly defended, covered by only two lightly armed batteries, in the winter of 1794, French soldiers invaded the Netherlands and captured Amsterdam. A larger force under General Alured Clarke was instructed to follow these squadrons on 15 May with troops and supplies for a longer campaign and Elphinstone united off the Cape on 10 June 1795 and anchored in Simons Bay.
There messages were sent to Sluysken offering an alliance against the French, the Dutch governor was inclined to resist however, evacuating the civilian population from Simons Town in early July and making preparations to raze the town. To prevent this, Craig landed 800 soldiers and Royal Marines on 14 July, for the next month the two armies observed an uneasy truce, broken by occasional patrols and sniping. During this period and Sluysken continued negotiations for the surrender of the colony and these negotiations were stalled by disputes in the colonial government regarding the legitimacy of the deposed William of Orange and suspicion concerning British intentions. While the debates continued, British envoys were permitted free movement in Cape Town, Elphinstone became concerned that the Dutch positions were too strong for his forces to overwhelm, and on 19 June he sent HMS Sphinx to request assistance from Clarkes fleet. On 7 August, with negotiations stalled, Elphinstone ordered an attack on the pass at Muizenberg, craigs forces were supplemented with 1,000 sailors from Elphinstones squadron redeployed on land under Captains Temple Hardy and John William Spranger
Action of 13 October 1796
The Mahonesa was captured after a fight lasting an hour and forty minutes. Bowen and the Terpsichore spent some time in the North Sea, until December 1795, Jervis requested Bowen to come out and take command of a squadron of small vessels operating around Gibraltar in defence of British trade and the garrison there. In early October 1796 the British squadron under Sir John Man was chased into Gibraltar by a Spanish fleet, spain having declared war against Great Britain and allied with Revolutionary France after both signed the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796. Bowen set out in Terpsichore to report this to Jervis, and having rendezvoused with HMS Pallas of Jerviss fleet on 10 October, while off Cartagena on 13 October, a frigate was spotted under full sail which was the Mahonesa. Bowens crew had been reduced by sickness, but he decided to chase down the mysterious sail, after closing on her, and determining that she was attempting to manoeuvre into a position to better fight the Terpsichore, Bowen ordered a gun be fired to test her intent.
This was instantly met with a broadside, and an action began. After an hour and forty minutes the frigate surrendered, after being outmanoeuvred and was discovered to be the Spanish Mahonesa, Terpsichore had four men wounded during the battle and none killed. Mahonesa had around 12 men killed and 20 wounded the rest being taken prisoner and she was towed into Gibraltar was taken into service with the British as HMS Mahonesa. Bowen received a piece of plate valued at 100 guineas, Bowen refitted Terpsichore and departed on another cruise, capturing several small Spanish vessels on 12 and 13 November, sending them to Gibraltar
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts, lasting from 1792 until 1802, resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French First Republic against Britain and several other monarchies and they are divided in two periods, the War of the First Coalition and the War of the Second Coalition. Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension as the political ambitions of the Revolution expanded, French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe. The Revolutionary Wars began from increasing political pressure on King Louis XVI of France to prove his loyalty to the new direction France was taking. In the spring of 1792, France declared war on Prussia and Austria, the victory rejuvenated the French nation and emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy. A series of victories by the new French armies abruptly ended with defeat at Neerwinden in the spring of 1793, by 1795, the French had captured the Austrian Netherlands and knocked Spain and Prussia out of the war with the Peace of Basel.
A hitherto unknown general called Napoleon Bonaparte began his first campaign in Italy in April 1796, in less than a year, French armies under Napoleon decimated the Habsburg forces and evicted them from the Italian peninsula, winning almost every battle and capturing 150,000 prisoners. With French forces marching towards Vienna, the Austrians sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Campo Formio, the War of the Second Coalition began with the French invasion of Egypt, headed by Napoleon, in 1798. The Allies took the opportunity presented by the French strategic effort in the Middle East to regain territories lost from the First Coalition. The war began well for the Allies in Europe, where they pushed the French out of Italy and invaded Switzerland—racking up victories at Magnano, Cassano. However, their efforts largely unraveled with the French victory at Zurich in September 1799, Napoleons forces annihilated a series of Egyptian and Ottoman armies at the battles of the Pyramids, Mount Tabor, and Abukir.
These victories and the conquest of Egypt further enhanced Napoleons popularity back in France, the Royal Navy had managed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, further strengthening British control of the Mediterranean. Napoleons arrival from Egypt led to the fall of the Directory in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon reorganized the French army and launched a new assault against the Austrians in Italy during the spring of 1800. This latest effort culminated in a decisive French victory at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, another crushing French triumph at Hohenlinden in Bavaria forced the Austrians to seek peace for a second time, leading to the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. With Austria and Russia out of the war, the United Kingdom found itself increasingly isolated and agreed to the Treaty of Amiens with Napoleons government in 1802, concluding the Revolutionary Wars. The lingering tensions proved too difficult to contain, however, in 1789–1792, the entire governmental structure of France was transformed to fall into line with the Revolutionary principles of Liberty and Fraternity.
As a result, one of the first major elements of the French state to be restructured was the army, the transformation of the army was best seen in the officer corps. Before the revolution 90% had been nobility, compared to only 3% in 1794, Revolutionary fervour was high, and was closely monitored by the Committee of Public Safety, which assigned Representatives on Mission to keep watch on generals
Second Battle of Algeciras
Arriving at Algeciras on 9 July, the combined squadron was ready to sail again on 12 July, departing Algeciras to the westwards during the evening. The British squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, having effected its own hasty repairs, finding that his ships were falling behind, Saumarez instructed his captains to separate and attack the combined squadron as best they were able to. The fastest ship was HMS Superb under Captain Richard Goodwin Keats, Superb fired on the rearmost ships, setting the 112-gun Real Carlos on fire and capturing the Saint Antoine. Unable to determine friend from foe in the darkness, Real Carlos inadvertently engaged the Spanish ship San Hermenegildo, both ships subsequently exploded with enormous loss of life. A second stage of the battle developed, as HMS Venerable took the lead of the British line. In a furious and protracted engagement, Venerable suffered heavy damage and was driven ashore, in France, despite the heavy Spanish losses, the battle was celebrated as a victory, with Troude widely praised and promoted for the defence of his ship.
In August 1798, the French Mediterranean Fleet was largely destroyed by a British fleet at the Battle of the Nile during the French invasion of Egypt. Saumarez was informed of Linoiss arrival, and turned eastwards to confront him, Saumarez attacked immediately, but found that his ships were hampered by a lack of wind. Becalmed under heavy fire, the British squadron inflicted severe damage on the French ships which withdrew into shallower water, when Saumarez ordered his ships to follow, HMS Hannibal grounded as well, trapped under a heavy barrage from the shore. With no wind with which to manoeuvre and the boats all either sunk or engaged in towing the battered HMS Pompée back to Gibraltar. The battered British squadron retired to Gibraltar, except for Hannibal, at Cadiz, le Pelley had to plead with Mazzaredo for assistance, the Spanish admiral agreeing on 8 July to send a powerful squadron under Vice-Admiral Don Juan Joaquin de Moreno to Algeciras. Morenos force consisted of two 112-gun first rate ships of the line, Real Carlos and San Hermenegildo, the 96-gun San Fernando, 80-gun Argonauta, with this force was the 74-gun French ship Saint Antoine, which a few days earlier had been the Spanish San Antonio.
With the squadron were the frigates Libre and the Spanish Sabina as well as the French lugger Vautour. The force was anchored close to Algeciras, well out of range of cannon at Gibraltar, shadowing the combined squadron was a small British force under Captain Richard Goodwin Keats on HMS Superb with the frigate HMS Thames and the brig HMS Pasley. Although part of Saumarezs squadron, Keats had been too late to take part in the first battle, when Moreno sailed, Keats was initially chased by portions of the Franco-Spanish squadron, but eluded and followed them, subsequently joining Saumarez at Gibraltar. Pompée was temporarily abandoned in the yard, her crew redistributed to work on the rest of the squadron, the arrival of a light easterly wind which would favour passage back to Cadiz encouraged both Moreno and Saumarez to prepare for departure to the Atlantic base on the following day. At 12,00 on 12 July, Caesar warped out of Gibraltar dockyard with her playing the popular song Heart of Oak to the answering strains of Britons.
From the dockside as crowds again turned out in their thousands to watch the coming battle, both Saumarez and Linois expected reinforcements sent by Lord Keith to arrive during the day, but none appeared
Action of 19 January 1799
The Action of 19 January 1799 was a minor naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars fought in waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, off Punta Europa. The British warships failed to defend the convoy, losing a gunboat sunk, the convoy lost a ship and two brigs. For this action Mourelle de la Rua was promoted to frigate captain, once the Spanish Navy realized how useful gunboats could be in naval warfare, they established a base for them at Algeciras. The deployment had two objectives, impede British naval trade with Gibraltar and second, protect Spains own commerce, during the Great Siege of Gibraltar Admiral Antonio Barceló commanded the naval forces responsible for blockading the bay that included a fleet of several xebecs and gunboats. One of his successors was Francisco Antonio Mourelle de la Rua, at 2 PM on 19 January 1799 a British merchant convoy consisting of four ships and three brigs sailed from Gibraltar escorted by a 74-gun ship of the line and an 18-gun brig of the Royal Navy.
As they left Gibraltar, three gunboats accompanied them out of the bay to defend them against the Spanish gunboats based in Algeciras. After several hours of harassment, at 7,30 PM, Mourelle managed to cut off a ship, the three British gunboats immediately came to their assistance. One of the British gunboats sank and the ones were captured. In the afternoon of 19 January, HMS Strombolo, an armed with one gun and under the command of Lieutenant William Davies. She towed Transport 55 clear of the mole at Gibraltar and returned to bring out another vessel, the activity drew the attention of the Spanish, who sent out a flotilla of gunboats and launches. Strombolo cast off her tow and moved to intercept the Spanish, eight Spanish vessels surrounded her and in the exchange of fire, a Spanish cannonball holed Strombolo at the larboard bow. She rapidly filled with water so the crew abandoned her, the Spanish picked them up from the water, the second British gunboat lost that day was HMS Wilkin, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Power.
She had towed the Esther clear of the mole when the Spanish gunboats approached and she too sailed to meet them and too found herself surrounded by eight gunboats and launches. Her long gun misfired so the crew was reduced to using arms to defend themselves. In the short engagement Wilkin lost her main topmast and mizzenmast, when the several Spanish boats came alongside, she struck her colours. Shortly thereafter, the Spanish squadron entered Algeciras towing the four prizes with 120 prisoners, none of the British countermeasures to beat the Spanish gunboats, which included the use of grapeshot from a distance, had any effect. The Spanish gunboats proved their worth in subsequent years when they defended two major merchant convoys, Mourelle de la Rúa, explorador del Pacífico, Ediciones Cultura Hispánica. Rodríguez González, Agustín Ramón Victorias por mar de los Españoles, ISBN 978-84-96281-38-7 Rodríguez González, Agustín Ramón Trafalgar y el conflicto naval anglo-español del siglo XVIII, Actas Editorial, Madrid
To reach Cadiz, the French squadron had to pass the British naval base at Gibraltar, which housed the squadron tasked with blockading the Spanish port. The British squadron was commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, on 6 July 1801, Saumarez attacked the anchored squadron, in the First Battle of Algeciras. In the aftermath of the first battle, both sides set about making urgent repairs and calling up reinforcements, a confused night action followed, in which the British ship HMS Superb cut through the disorganised allied rearguard, followed by the rest of Saumarezs force. In the confusion one French ship was captured, a Spanish frigate sank, the following morning the French ship Formidable came under attack at the rear of the combined squadron, but successfully drove off pursuit and reached Cadiz safely. On 1 August 1798, a British fleet surprised and almost completely destroyed the French Mediterranean Fleet at the Battle of the Nile in the aftermath of the successful French invasion of Egypt.
The squadron made three attempts to reach Egypt, eventually retiring to Toulon in late July 1801. The presence of force at Toulon enabled the French to plan a secondary operation using Ganteaumes new arrivals. A deal had been brokered earlier in the year between Bonaparte and Charles IV of Spain for the Spanish government to provide six ships of the line from the Cadiz fleet to the French Navy. This force of nine French ships, accompanied by six promised vessels from the Spanish fleet, was to one of two mooted plans, the first was a large scale attack on Lisbon. The other planned operation, adopted following the end of the War of the Oranges on 2 June, was for the force to resupply Egypt using soldiers stationed at Italian ports. To facilitate the transfer of the Spanish ships to French control, le Pelley arrived at the Spanish port on 13 June in the frigates Libre and Indienne with sailors to begin manning the newly purchased ships and Commodore Julien le Ray to command them. Linois sailed from Toulon on 13 June 1801 with three ships of the line and one frigate carrying 1,560 soldiers under Brigadier-General Devaux.
Therefore, the only British ships on hand when Linois emerged from the port were a few frigates, Linoiss passage was slow, facing winds from the southwest that delayed his squadron so that by the 30 June they were only off Cape de Gata in the Alboran Sea. On 1 July they were spotted from Gibraltar, although the only warship there was the 14-gun HMS Calpe under Captain George Dundas which was unable to influence their advance. Instead, Captain Dundas ordered Lieutenant Richard Janvarin to take a boat and communicate with the Cadiz blockade force of seven ships of the line, Linois passed Gibraltar on 3 July and during the night discovered the 14-gun brig HMS Speedy a short distance ahead. Cochranes initial belief that the ships were Spanish treasure vessels caused him to bring Speedy closer to the ships. Rather than surrender however, Cochrane threw all of his guns and excessive weight overboard and he attempted to cut directly between the approaching Formidable and Desaix, the small target avoiding the concentrated fire of the French ships and pulling into open water.
At this, Commodore Jean-Anne Christy-Pallière on Desaix swung his ship about and pursued, several shots damaging Speedys sails, as Speedy slowed, Desaix overtook the small brig and fired a full broadside at close range
Kingdom of Great Britain
The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. It did not include Ireland, which remained a separate realm, the unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. Also after the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the early years of the unified kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended in defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. On 1 January 1801, the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland were merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom, the name Britain descends from the Latin name for the island of Great Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons via the Old French Bretaigne and Middle English Bretayne, Breteyne. The term Great Britain was first used officially in 1474, in the instrument drawing up the proposal for a marriage between Edward IV of Englands daughter Cecily and James III of Scotlands son James.
The Treaty of Union and the subsequent Acts of Union state that England and Scotland were to be United into one Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain. However, both the Acts and the Treaty refer numerous times to the United Kingdom and the longer form, other publications refer to the country as the United Kingdom after 1707 as well. The websites of the UK parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the BBC, the term United Kingdom was found in informal use during the 18th century to describe the state. The new state created in 1707 included the island of Great Britain, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, both in existence from the 9th century, were separate states until 1707. However, they had come into a union in 1603. Each of the three kingdoms maintained its own parliament and laws and this disposition changed dramatically when the Acts of Union 1707 came into force, with a single unified Crown of Great Britain and a single unified parliament. Ireland remained formally separate, with its own parliament, until the Acts of Union 1800, legislative power was vested in the Parliament of Great Britain, which replaced both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland.
In practice it was a continuation of the English parliament, sitting at the location in Westminster. Newly created peers in the Peerage of Great Britain were given the right to sit in the Lords. Despite the end of a parliament for Scotland, it retained its own laws. As a result of Poynings Law of 1495, the Parliament of Ireland was subordinate to the Parliament of England, the Act was repealed by the Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782. The same year, the Irish constitution of 1782 produced a period of legislative freedom, the 18th century saw England, and after 1707 Great Britain, rise to become the worlds dominant colonial power, with France its main rival on the imperial stage