Action of 25 January 1797

Last updated

Action of 25 January 1797
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Asis frigates.jpg
Battle between San Francisco de Asís and three British frigates and a corvette. Oil on canvas. Naval Museum of Madrid.
Date25 January 1797
Location
Result Indecisive
Belligerents
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg  Spain
Commanders and leaders
George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway Alonso de Torres y Guerra
Strength
3 fifth-rate frigates,
1 sixth-rate sloop [1]
1 third-rate ship of line [1]
Casualties and losses
Unknown 2 killed & 12 wounded
1 ship slightly damaged [2]

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 eventually forced to withdraw. [1] [ better source needed ] 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.

Contents

Background

The winter of 1796–1797 was one of the stormiest of the 18th century. [1] The British Royal Navy lost the ships of line HMS Courageux, wrecked off Gibraltar, and HMS Bombay Castle, foundered in the shoals of the Tagus river's mouth, as well as two frigates. [2] A French expedition sent to Ireland to assist the rebel United Irishmen against the British government failed due to the storms. The Spanish navy also 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, which was anchored in the Bay of Cádiz during a mission to protect the arrival of Spanish commercial shipping from America, was hit by the storms, and having lost her anchor, she was forced to go out to open sea. [2]

Spain and Britain, which had been allies against the Revolutionary France until the Peace of Basel and had cooperated in the Siege of Toulon (1793), 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. [3] 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. [4] Among the British ships based in Lisbon, there was a division under the Earl of Galloway which comprised the frigates Lively , Niger and Meleager , and the sloops Fortune and Raven . [5] According to Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet, Second Secretary to the Admiralty for 40 years, Galloway, later known as Lord Garlies, was "an excellent man, but of a warm and sanguine temperament". [6]

Battle

George Stewart as a post-captain. Watercolour on ivory by Anne Mee. George Stewart 8th Earl of Galloway.jpg
George Stewart as a post-captain. Watercolour on ivory by Anne Mee.

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. [7] The lack of response to the signals of recognition made from the Spanish ship put on alert its crew. [7] 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, and 28 the sloop. [7] Minerve and Meleager were armed, moreover, with 24-pounder carronades. [5]

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, [7] which also hoisted their British flags. [7] The San Francisco then opened fire, and 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. [7] The Spanish ship could only return the fire with the stern chasers of its batteries, although she luffed occasionally to shoot broadsides on the British frigates, inflicting serious damage. [7] The British gunners, noted for their skill through the war, were not particularly accurate during the action, and San Francisco, already hit by the storm, didn't suffer serious damage. [5]

The British frigates left the battle at 4 pm, and although after consulting among themselves the British commanders resolved return to fight at 4:30 pm, they finally withdrew half an hour later. [7] [ dubious ] 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, however, managed to avoid the action by taking advantage of its fasteness and the darkness of the dusk. [7]

Aftermath

Rescue of the Santisima Trinidad at the Battle of Cape St Vincent, by Antonio de Brugada Vila (1804-1863). CombateDeSanVicenteElNavioPelayoAcudeEnAuxilioDelNavioSantisimaTrinidad.jpg
Rescue of the Santísima Trinidad at the Battle of Cape St Vincent, by Antonio de Brugada Vila (1804–1863).

The San Francisco de Asís had 2 men killed and 12 wounded in the action. She received a shot at the mainyard, another one awash, and minor damage to the rigging and the hull. The ship had been repaired when, on 14 February, it took part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent. 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 , which had been put out of action and was about to be taken by the British fleet. [5] The damage and casualties aboard the British division remain unknown, and the action is not mentioned in English sources, [5] [ additional citation(s) needed ] though the Spanish naval historian Cesáreo Fernández Duro states that one of Galloway's frigates lost its foretopmast. [2]

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. [8] 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 . [8] 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. [5] On the other hand, Galloway's career wasn't damaged by the result of the action, and he was chosen by Admiral Jervis to carry back to England news of the victory of St Vincent. [9]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 San Juan p. 84.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Fernández Duro p. 82.
  3. Black, Jeremy: The British Seaborne Empire. Bury St Edmunds: Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN   9780300103861, p. 150.
  4. Robson, Martin: Britain, Portugal and South America in the Napoleonic Wars: Alliances and Diplomacy in Economic Maritime Conflict. London: Palgrave Macillan, 2010. ISBN   9780857718846, pp. 36–37.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rodríguez González, Agustín Ramón: Dos combates afortunados en circunstancias desesperadas . In Revista General de Marina. June 2013, p. 792.
  6. Barrow, John (Sir): An auto-biographical memoir of Sir John Barrow, Late of the Admiralty: including reflections, observations, and reminiscences at home and abroad, from early life to advanced age . London: John Murray, 1847, p. 278.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Gaceta de Madrid: no 11, p. 105. 7 February 1797
  8. 1 2 Rodríguez González, p. 793.
  9. Anderson, William: The Scottish nation: or, The surnames, families, literature, honours, and biographical history of the people of Scotland , Vol. II. Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & co., 1867, p. 278.

Related Research Articles

Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797)

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent was one of the opening battles of the Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808), as part of the French Revolutionary Wars, where a British fleet under Admiral Sir John Jervis defeated a larger Spanish fleet under Admiral Don José de Córdoba y Ramos near Cape St. Vincent, Portugal.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1780) 1780 naval battle between Great Britain and Spain

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent was a naval battle that took place off the southern coast of Portugal on 16 January 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. A British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a Spanish squadron under Don Juan de Lángara. The battle is sometimes referred to as the Moonlight Battle because it was unusual for naval battles in the Age of Sail to take place at night. It was also the first major naval victory for the British over their European enemies in the war and proved the value of copper-sheathing the hulls of warships.

French ship <i>Neptune</i> (1803)

Neptune was a Bucentaure-class 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy. Built during the last years of the French Revolutionary Wars she was launched at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars. Her brief career with the French included several major battles, though she spent the last 12 years of her life under the Spanish flag.

Battle of Cape Passaro

The Battle of Cape Passaro, also known as Battle of Avola or Battle of Syracuse, was a major naval battle fought on 11 August 1718 between a fleet of the British Royal Navy under Admiral Sir George Byng and a fleet of the Spanish Navy under Vice-Admiral Antonio de Gaztañeta. It was fought off Cape Passaro, in the southern tip of the island of Sicily of which Spain had occupied. Spain and Britain were at peace, but Britain was already committed to supporting the ambitions of the Emperor Charles VI in southern Italy.

Spanish ship <i>Fenix</i> (1749)

Fénix was an 80-gun ship of the line (navio) of the Spanish Navy, built by Pedro de Torres at Havana in accordance with the system laid down by Antonio Gaztaneta launched in 1749. In 1759, she was sent to bring the new king, Carlos III, from Naples to Barcelona. When Spain entered the American Revolutionary War in June 1779, Fénix set sail for the English Channel where she was to join a Franco-Spanish fleet of more than 60 ships of the line under Lieutenant General Luis de Córdova y Córdova. The Armada of 1779 was an invasion force of 40,000 troops with orders to capture the British naval base at Portsmouth.

HMS Meleager was a 32-gun frigate that Greaves and Nickolson built in 1785 at the Quarry House yard in Frindsbury, Kent, England. She served during the French Revolutionary Wars until 1801, when she was wrecked in the Gulf of Mexico.

Action of 5 October 1804 Naval battle

The Battle of Cape Santa Maria was a naval engagement that took place off the southern Portuguese coast, in which a British squadron under the command of Commodore Graham Moore attacked and defeated a Spanish squadron commanded by Brigadier Don José de Bustamante y Guerra.

French brig <i>Furet</i> (1801)

Furet, launched in 1801, was an Abeille-class brig of the French Navy. HMS Hydra captured her on 27 February 1806, off Cadiz.

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, navy 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, and with the British ships taking huge fire from the Spanish forts and batteries, the British withdraw and the siege was lifted. The naval blockade, however, lasted until 1802.

The Blockade of Cadiz has been and is the completist thing in Naval History.

The Action of 19 December 1796 was a minor naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought in the last stages of the Mediterranean campaign between two British Royal Navy frigates and two Spanish Navy frigates off the coast of Murcia. The British squadron was the last remaining British naval force in the Mediterranean, sent to transport the British garrison of Elba to safety under the command of Commodore Horatio Nelson. The Spanish under Commodore Don Jacobo Stuart were the vanguard of a much larger squadron. One Spanish frigate was captured and another damaged before Spanish reinforcements drove the British off and recaptured the lost ship.

The Battle of Cape St Vincent was a minor naval engagement of the War of the Quadruple Alliance, fought on 20 December 1719 near Cape St. Vincent between a squadron of two British ships of the line and a frigate, under Commodore Philip Cavendish and a squadron of the Spanish ships of the line Conde de Tolosa, Hermione and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe under Don Rodrigo de Torres sent from Santander to Cádiz to avoid its capture by the Anglo-French forces patrolling the Bay of Biscay.

Neptuno was an 80-gun Montañes-class ship of the line of the Spanish Navy. She was built in 1795 and took part in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. She fought with the Franco-Spanish fleet in the battle of Trafalgar, and was wrecked in its aftermath.

Battle of Cape Celidonia

The battle of Cape Celidonia took place on 14 July 1616 during the Ottoman-Habsburg struggle for the control of the Mediterranean when a small Spanish fleet under the command of Francisco de Rivera y Medina cruising off Cyprus was attacked by an Ottoman fleet that vastly outnumbered it. Despite this, the Spanish ships, mostly galleons, managed to repel the Ottomans, whose fleet consisted mainly of galleys, inflicting heavy losses.

Action of 13 October 1796 Naval engagement in French Revolutionary Wars

The Action of 13 October 1796 was a minor naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought off the Mediterranean coast of Spain near Cartagena between the British Royal Navy 32-gun frigate HMS Terpsichore under Captain Richard Bowen and the Spanish Navy 34-gun frigate Mahonesa under Captain Tomás de Ayalde. The action was the first battle of the Anglo-Spanish War, coming just eight days after the Spanish declaration of war. In a battle lasting an hour and forty minutes, Mahonesa was captured.

Battle of Bordeaux (1653)

The Battle of Bordeaux was a naval engagement of the Franco-Spanish War of 1635 fought on 20 October 1653 in the Gironde estuary. A Spanish fleet under Álvaro de Bazán, 3rd Marquis of Santa Cruz, sent to relieve Bordeaux, at that time held by the nobles rose up against Louis XIV during the Fronde, encountered a great concentration of French warships belonging to Duke of Vendome's army in the channel of Blaye and captured or destroyed most of it. Shortly after a landing was made by some 1,600 soldiers of the Spanish Tercios which sacked the village of Montagne-sur-Gironde. A similar attempt in the Island of Ré was repulsed, so Santa Cruz, having accomplished his orders, returned to Spain.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1641) Military battle

The Battle of Cape St Vincent of 1641 took place on 4 November 1641 when a Spanish fleet commanded by Don Juan Alonso de Idiáquez y Robles intercepted a Dutch fleet led by Artus Gijsels during the Eighty Years' War. After a fierce battle two Dutch ships were lost but the Dutch claimed only a hundred of their men were killed; the Spanish fleet also lost two ships but over a thousand dead. The damaged Dutch fleet was forced to abandon its planned attack on the Spanish treasure fleet.

Action of 26 April 1797

The Action of 26 April 1797 was a minor naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars in which a Spanish convoy of two frigates was trapped and defeated off the Spanish town of Conil de la Frontera by British ships of the Cadiz blockade. The British vessels, the ship of the line HMS Irresistible and the Fifth-rate frigate HMS Emerald, were significantly more powerful than the Spanish frigates, which were on the last stage of a voyage carrying treasure from Havana, Cuba, to the Spanish fleet base of Cadiz.

HMS <i>Emerald</i> (1795) Frigate of the Royal Navy, in service 1795-1836

HMSEmerald was a 36-gun Amazon-class frigate that Sir William Rule designed in 1794 for the Royal Navy. The Admiralty ordered her construction towards the end of May 1794 and work began the following month at Northfleet dockyard. She was completed on 12 October 1795 and joined Admiral John Jervis's fleet in the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean campaign of 1793–1796

The Mediterranean campaign of 1793–1796 was a major theater of conflict in the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars. Fought during the War of the First Coalition, the campaign was primarily contested in the Western Mediterranean between the French Navy's Mediterranean Fleet, based at Toulon in Southern France, and the British Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet, supported by the Spanish Navy and the smaller navies of several Italian states. Major fighting was concentrated in the Ligurian Sea, and focused on British maintenance of and French resistance to a British close blockade of the French Mediterranean coast. Additional conflict spread along Mediterranean trade routes, contested by individual warships and small squadrons.

HMS <i>Romulus</i> (1785)

HMS Romulus was a 36-gun fifth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, Romulus was despatched to the Mediterranean where she became part of the fleet under Lord Hood, initially blockading, and later occupying, the port of Toulon. She played an active role during the withdrawal in December, providing covering fire while HMS Robust and HMS Leviathan removed allied troops from the waterfront.

References