Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797)

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Battle of Cape St. Vincent
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Cleveley, Cape St Vincent.jpg
The Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797
by Robert Cleveley
Date14 February 1797
Near Cape St. Vincent, Portugal
Result British victory
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg John Jervis
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg William Waldegrave
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Charles Thompson
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg William Parker
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Horatio Nelson
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg José de Córdoba y Ramos
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Francisco Javier Morales
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Francisco Winthuysen  
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Juan Joaquín Moreno
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Conde de Amblimont  
15 ships of the line
5 frigates
1 sloop
1 cutter
24 ships of the line
7 frigates
1 brig
4 armed merchantmen
Casualties and losses
73 dead
327 wounded
4 ships of the line captured
250 dead
550 wounded
3,000 prisoners

The Battle of Cape St Vincent (14 February 1797) 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.

Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808) 1796–1808 war, part of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars

The Anglo-Spanish War was a conflict fought between 1796 and 1802, and again from 1804 to 1808, as part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The war ended when an alliance was signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain, which was now under French invasion.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.



After the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796 allying Spanish and French forces against Great Britain, the British navy blockaded Spain in 1797, impairing communications with its Spanish Empire.

The Second Treaty of San Ildefonso was signed on 19 August 1796 between Spain and the First French Republic. Based on the terms of the agreement, France and Spain would become allies and combine their forces against the British Empire.

Spanish Empire world empire from the 16th to the 19th century

The Spanish Empire, historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World, the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies" and territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It has been described as the world's most powerful empire of the 16th and 17th centuries, a description also given to other empires of the period, becoming known as "the empire on which the sun never sets" and reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century.

Admiral Sir John Jervis John Jervis, Earl of St Vincent by Lemuel Francis Abbott.jpg
Admiral Sir John Jervis

The Spanish declaration of war on Britain and Portugal in October 1796 made the British position in the Mediterranean untenable. The combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 38 ships of the line heavily outnumbered the British Mediterranean Fleet of fifteen ships of the line, forcing the British to evacuate their positions in first Corsica and then Elba.

Ship of the line type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century

A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactic known as the line of battle, which depended on the two columns of opposing warships maneuvering to fire with the cannons along their broadsides. In conflicts where opposing ships were both able to fire from their broadsides, the side with more cannons—and therefore more firepower—typically had an advantage. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time.

Corsica Region in France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Elba Mediterranean island near Italy

Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the coastal town of Piombino, and the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park, and the third largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia. It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 50 kilometres (30 mi) east of the French island of Corsica.

Early in 1797, the Spanish fleet of 27 ships of the line, which were supposed to join the French fleet at Brest lay at Cartagena, on the Mediterranean Sea, with the intention of sailing to Cádiz as an escort of a 57 merchant convoy, carrying mainly mercury—necessary for gold and silver production—which would eventually enter that Spanish harbour along with warships Neptuno, Terrible and Bahama , prior to running into the British force.

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a port city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

Cartagena, Spain Municipality in Murcia, Spain

Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2018, it has a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the Region’s second-largest municipality and the country’s sixth-largest non-Province-capital city. The metropolitan area of Cartagena, known as Campo de Cartagena, has a population of 409,586 inhabitants.

Mediterranean Sea Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.

Don José de Córdoba and the Spanish fleet left Cartagena on 1 February and might have reached Cádiz safely but for a fierce Levanter, the easterly wind, blowing between Gibraltar and Cádiz, which pushed the Spanish fleet further out into the Atlantic than intended. As the winds died down, the fleet began working its way back to Cádiz.

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

In the meantime, the British Mediterranean Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jervis, had sailed from the Tagus with ten ships of the line to try to intercept the Spanish fleet. On 6 February, Jervis was joined off Cape St. Vincent by a reinforcement of five ships of the line from the Channel Fleet under Rear-Admiral William Parker.

John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent 18th and 19th-century Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent was an admiral in the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Jervis served throughout the latter half of the 18th century and into the 19th, and was an active commander during the Seven Years' War, American War of Independence, French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars. He is best known for his victory at the 1797 Battle of Cape Saint Vincent, from which he earned his titles, and as a patron of Horatio Nelson.

Tagus Longest river in the Iberian Peninsula

The Tagus is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. It is 1,007 km (626 mi) long, 716 km (445 mi) in Spain, 47 km (29 mi) along the border between Portugal and Spain and 275 km (171 mi) in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon. It drains an area of 80,100 square kilometers (30,927 sq mi). The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course. Several dams and diversions supply drinking water to places of central Spain and Portugal, while dozens of hydroelectric stations create power. Between dams it follows a very constricted course, but after Almourol it enters a wide alluvial valley, prone to flooding. Its mouth is a large estuary near the port city of Lisbon.

Cape St. Vincent headland in the Algarve, southern Portugal

Cape St. Vincent is a headland in the municipality of Vila do Bispo, in the Algarve, southern Portugal. It is the southwesternmost point of Portugal and of mainland Europe.

On 11 February, the British frigate HMS Minerve, under the command of Commodore Horatio Nelson, passed through the Spanish fleet unseen thanks to heavy fog. Nelson reached the British fleet of fifteen ships off Spain on 13 February, and passed the location of the Spanish fleet to Jervis, commanding the fleet from his flagship Victory. Unaware of the size of his opponent's fleet—in the fog, Nelson had not been able to count them—Jervis's squadron immediately sailed to intercept.

Unaware of the British presence, the Spanish continued toward Cádiz. Early on the 14th, Jervis learnt that the Spanish fleet was 35 miles to windward.


Early morning

Plan of the fleet deployment during the Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797
by Alfred Thayer Mahan Cape st vincent battle plan.png
Plan of the fleet deployment during the Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797
by Alfred Thayer Mahan

During the night came the sounds that the British fleet had been waiting to hear – the signal guns of the Spanish ships in the fog. At 2:50 a.m. came the report that the Spanish fleet was some fifteen miles distant. By early morning, at 5:30 a.m., Niger reported them to be closer still. As the dawn came, it brought a cold and foggy February morning. In the increasing light, Jervis saw his fleet around him, formed into two lines of battle. He turned to his officers on the quarter-deck of Victory and said, "A victory to England is very essential at this moment." Jervis gave orders for the fleet to prepare for the coming action.

Captain Thomas Troubridge in Culloden was in the lead. At 6:30 a.m., Culloden signalled that she could see five enemy sail to the south east, and then with Blenheim and Prince George turned toward the Spanish ships. Jervis had no idea of the size of the fleet he was up against. As they loomed up out of the fog, a signal lieutenant in Barfleur described them as "thumpers, looming like Beachy Head in a fog."

As dawn broke, Jervis's ships were in position to engage the Spanish. On the quarter-deck of Victory, Jervis, Captain Robert Calder and Captain Benjamin Hallowell counted the ships. It was at this point Jervis discovered that he was outnumbered nearly two-to-one:

"There are eight sail of the line, Sir John"
"Very well, sir"
"There are twenty sail of the line, Sir John"
"Very well, sir"
"There are twenty five sail of the line, Sir John"
"Very well, sir"
"There are twenty seven sail of the line, Sir John"

"Enough, sir, no more of that; the die is cast, and if there are fifty sail I will go through them" [1] [2]

Jose de Cordoba Jose de Cordova y Ramos (Museo Naval de Madrid).jpg
José de Córdoba

Seeing that it would be difficult to disengage, Jervis decided to continue because the situation would only get worse were the Spanish fleet to join up with the French. Meanwhile, the Canadian Captain Hallowell became so excited that he thumped the Admiral on the back, "That's right Sir John, and, by God, we'll give them a damn good licking!" [3] [4]

As the light grew, it became obvious that the Spanish ships were formed in two loose columns, one of about 18 ships to windward and the other, of about nine ships, somewhat closer to the British. At about 10:30 a.m., the Spanish ships in the weather column were seen to wear ship and turn to port. This gave the impression that they might form a line and pass along the weather column of the British fleet, exposing the smaller British column to the fire of the larger Spanish division.

At 11:00 a.m., Jervis gave his order:

Form in a line of battle ahead and astern of Victory as most convenient.

When this order was completed the British fleet had formed a single line of battle, sailing in a southerly direction on a course to pass between the two Spanish columns.

At 11:12 a.m., Jervis made his next signal:

Engage the enemy

and then at 11:30 a.m.,

Admiral intends to pass through enemy lines

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent fleet deployment at about 12:30 p.m. Battle of Cape St Vincent 1230pm.gif
The Battle of Cape St. Vincent fleet deployment at about 12:30 p.m.

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent had begun.

11:30 a.m.

To the British advantage, the Spanish fleet was formed into two groups and was unprepared for battle, while the British were already in line. Jervis ordered the British fleet to pass between the two groups, minimising the fire they could put into him, while letting him fire in both directions

12:30 p.m.

Culloden tacked to reverse her course and take after the Spanish column. Blenheim and then Prince George did the same in succession. The Spanish lee division now put about to the port tack with the intention of breaking the British line at the point where the ships were tacking in succession. Orion came round but Colossus was in the course of going about when her foreyard and foretop yard were shot away. She was forced to wear ship instead of tack and the leading Spanish vessel came close enough to threaten her with a broadside. Saumarez in Orion saw the danger to his friends and backed his sails to give covering fire.

As Victory came to the tacking point, another attempt was made to break the British line. Victory, however, was too fast and Principe de Asturias had to tack close to Victory and received two raking broadsides as she did so. [5] "We gave them their Valentine in style," later wrote a gunner in Goliath.

As the last ship in the British line passed the Spanish, the British line had formed a U shape with Culloden in the lead and on the reverse course but chasing the rear of the Spanish. At this point the Spanish lee division bore up to make an effort to join their compatriots to windward. Had they managed to do this, the battle would have ended indecisively and with the Spanish fleet running for Cádiz. The British ships would have been left harrying their sterns in much the manner of the Armada, 1588.

1:05 p.m.

Situation around 1:05 p.m. Battle of Cape St Vincent 1305pm.gif
Situation around 1:05 p.m.

At 1:05 p.m., Jervis hoisted a signal:

Take suitable stations for mutual support and engage the enemy as coming up in succession

Nelson had returned to his own ship Captain (a seventy-four) and was now towards the rear of the British line, much closer to the larger group. He came to the conclusion that the manoeuvre could not be completed so as to allow the British to catch them. Unless the movements of the Spanish ships could be thwarted, everything so far gained would be lost. Interpreting Jervis' signal loosely, and disobeying previous orders, Nelson gave orders to Captain Ralph Miller to wear ship and to take Captain out of line while engaging the smaller group.

As soon as the seventy-four was around, Nelson directed her to pass between Diadem and Excellent and ran across the bows of the Spanish ships forming the central group of the weather division. This group included the Santísima Trinidad, the largest ship afloat at the time and mounting 130 guns, the San José, 112, Salvador del Mundo, 112, San Nicolás, 84, San Ysidro 74 and the Mexicano 112.

Nelson's decision to wear ship was significant. As a junior commander, he was subject to the orders of his Commander in Chief (Admiral Jervis); in taking this action he was acting against the "form line ahead and astern of Victory" order and using his own wide interpretation of "take suitable stations" in the later signal. Had the action failed, he would have been subject to court-martial for disobeying orders in the face of the enemy, with subsequent loss of command and disgrace.

At about 1:30 p.m., Culloden was gradually overhauling the Spanish rear and began a renewed but not very close engagement of the same group of ships. Jervis signalled his rearmost ship, Excellent to come to the wind on the larboard tack and following this order, Collingwood brought his ship round to a position ahead of Culloden. After a few more minutes, Blenheim and Prince George came up behind and the group of British ships prevented the Spanish from grouping together.

The Captain was now under fire from as many as six Spanish ships, of which three were 112-gun three-deckers and a fourth Córdoba's 130-gun flagship Santísima Trinidad. At about 2:00 p.m., Culloden had stretched so far ahead as to cover the Captain from the heavy fire poured into her by the Spanish four-decker and her companions, as they hauled up and brought their broadsides to bear. Of the respite thus afforded to her, the Captain took immediate advantage, replenishing her lockers with shot and splicing and repairing her running rigging.

At about 2:30, Excellent having been directed by signal to bear up, edged away and at 2:35, arriving abreast of the disabled Spanish three-decker Salvator del Mundo, engaged the latter on her weather bow for a few minutes; then passing on to the next Spanish ship in succession, the San Ysidro, whose three topmasts had already been shot away. This ship Captain Collingwood engaged closely until 2:50 when, after a gallant defence in her crippled state, the San Ysidro hauled down the Spanish flag.

Moments later, Excellent and Diadem commenced an attack on the Salvator del Mundo, with Excellent stationing herself on the weather bow and Diadem on the lee quarter of the Spanish three-decker. Observing that the Victory was about to pass close astern, the Salvator del Mundo, which had more or less been disabled, judiciously hauled down her flag as soon as some of Victory's bow guns came to bear.

3:00 p.m.

Battle off Cape St Vincent, 1797 by William Adolphus Knell Cape St Vincent1797 300.jpg
Battle off Cape St Vincent, 1797 by William Adolphus Knell

By about 3:00, Excellent was already in close action with San Nicolás which, with foretop mast shot away, had been in action against Captain. Excellent fired broadsides into San Nicolás and then made sail to clear ahead. To avoid Excellent, San Nicolás luffed up and ran foul of San José, which had suffered the loss of mizzen mast and other damage. Captain was by now almost uncontrollable with her wheel shot away. At this point, her foretop mast fell over the side leaving her in a completely unmanageable state and with little option but to board the Spanish vessels. Captain opened fire on the Spanish vessels with her larboard (port) side broadside and then put the helm over and hooked her larboard cat-head with the starboard quarter of San Nicolás.

Nelson receives the surrender of the San Nicholas, portrait by Richard Westall Surrender of the San Nicolas at St Vincent.jpg
Nelson receives the surrender of the San Nicholas, portrait by Richard Westall

At 3:20, with a cry of "Westminster Abbey or Glorious Victory!", Nelson ordered his boarders to cross the first Spanish ship onto the second. He later wrote,

The soldiers of the 69th, with an alacrity which will ever do them credit, and Lieutenant Pearson of the same regiment, were almost the foremost on this service – the first man who jumped into the enemy's mizen chains was Commander Berry, late my First Lieutenant (Captain Miller was in the very act of going also, but I directed him to remain); he was supported from our sprit sail yard, which hooked in the mizen rigging. A soldier of the 69th Regiment having broken the upper quarter-gallery window, I jumped in myself, and was followed by others as fast as possible. I found the cabin doors fastened, and some Spanish officers fired their pistols: but having broke open the doors the soldiers fired, and the Spanish Brigadier fell, as retreating to the quarter-deck. I pushed immediately onwards for the quarter-deck, where I found Commander Berry in possession of the poop, and the Spanish ensign hauling down. I passed with my people, and Lieutenant Pearson, on the larboard gangway, to the forecastle, where I met two or three Spanish officers, prisoners to my seamen: they delivered me their swords. A fire of pistols, or muskets, opening from the stern gallery of the San Josef, I directed the soldiers to fire into her stern; and calling to Captain Miller, ordered him to send more men into the San Nicolas; and directed my people to board the first-rate, which was done in an instant, Commander Berry assisting me into the main chains. At this moment a Spanish officer looked over the quarter deck rail, and said they surrendered. From this most welcome intelligence, it was not long before I was on the quarter deck, where the captain, with a bow, presented me his sword, and said the admiral was dying of his wounds. I asked him on his honour if the ship was surrendered. He declared she was: on which I gave him my hand, and desired him to call on his officers and ship's company and tell them of it: which he did – and on the quarter deck of a Spanish first-rate, extravagant as the story may seem, did I receive the swords of vanquished Spaniards: which as I received, I gave to William Fearney, one of my bargemen, who put them, with the greatest sang-froid, under his arm.

Both Spanish vessels were successfully captured. This manoeuvre was so unusual and so widely admired in the Royal Navy that using one enemy ship to cross to another became known facetiously as "Nelson's patent bridge for boarding enemy vessels." [6]

By the time Santísima Trinidad had struck her colours to surrender, Pelayo and San Pablo, separated from de Córdoba's group during action, having been dispatched by the commander the day before, sailed in and bore down on Diadem and Excellent. Pelayo´s captain Cayetano Valdés warned Santísima Trinidad to fly her flag again under threat she would be deemed an enemy ship and raked. The Spanish four-decker raised her flag. She was saved from being captured by the British.

By 4:00, the Spanish ship Santísima Trinidad was relieved by two of her escorts and made away from the scene. Admiral Moreno's squad put together the survivors of Córdoba's group and turned to assist the harassed Spanish sails. Jervis signalled his fleet to cover the prizes and disabled vessels and at 4:15 the frigates were directed to take the prizes in tow. At 4:39 the fleet was ordered to take station in line astern of Victory. The battle was by now almost over with only some remaining skirmishing between Britannia, Orion and the departing Spanish covering Santísima Trinidad (which was to later serve as the Spanish flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar).

End of the battle

Nelson remained on board the captured Spanish ships while they were made secure – and was cheered by the British ships as they passed. He returned to the Captain to thank Captain Miller and presented him with the sword of the captain of the San Nicolás.

At 5:00, Nelson shifted his pennant from the disabled Captain to Irresistible. The Battle of Cape St. Vincent had cost the lives of 73 men of the Royal Navy and wounded a further 227 (this figure only includes serious injuries). Casualties amongst the Spanish ships were far higher – aboard San Nicolás alone 144 were killed. Then, still black with smoke and with his uniform in shreds, Nelson went on board Victory where he was received on the quarter-deck by Admiral Jervis – "the Admiral embraced me, said he could not sufficiently thank me, and used every kind expression which could not fail to make me happy."

It was a great and welcome victory for the Royal Navy – fifteen British ships had defeated a Spanish fleet of 27, and the Spanish ships had a greater number of guns and men. But, Admiral Jervis had trained a highly disciplined force and this was pitted against an inexperienced Spanish navy under Don José Córdoba. The Spanish men fought fiercely but without direction. After the San José was captured it was found that some of her guns still had their tampions in the muzzles. The confusion amongst the Spanish fleet was so great that they were unable to use their guns without causing more damage to their own ships than to the British.


Jervis had given orders to destroy the four prizes had the action restarted. Several days later, the frigate HMS Terpsichore (32) spotted the damaged Santísima Trinidad making her way back to Spain. The captain, Orozco, now commissioned by de Cordoba, had flown his flag in frigate Diana. Terpsichore engaged but kept always out of range from the stern guns of the ship anytime Santísima Trinidad bore down on the English frigate. Terpsichore nonetheless was hit twice with those cannons in a sudden move, resulting in damage in her rigging, masts and sails as well as some impacts on her hull. Captain Richard Bowen then ordered to keep the pursuit but from a longer distance until the frigate vanished away.

The bas relief by Musgrave Watson and William F. Woodington on the west face of the plinth of Nelson's column at Trafalgar Square showing the Battle of Cape St Vincent Nelson's column - Battle of Cape St Vincent relief (Musgrave Watson).jpg
The bas relief by Musgrave Watson and William F. Woodington on the west face of the plinth of Nelson's column at Trafalgar Square showing the Battle of Cape St Vincent

In the battle as a whole, the British casualties were 73 killed, 227 badly wounded, and about 100 lightly wounded. The Spanish casualties were about 1,000 men killed or wounded. While the British fleet lay at Lagos Bay, in Portugal, the Spanish prisoners received from the four prizes, numbering about 3000, were landed.

Jervis was made Baron Jervis of Meaford and Earl St Vincent. [7] [8] [9] Nelson was knighted as a member of the Order of the Bath. [8] [10] Nelson's promotion to Rear-Admiral was not a reward for his services, but simply a happy coincidence: promotion to flag rank in the Navy of the time was based on seniority on the Captain's list and not on achievement. The now Earl St Vincent was granted a pension for life of £3,000 per year. [11] The City of London presented him with the Freedom of the City in a gold box valued at 100 guineas and awarded both him and Nelson a ceremonial sword. [12] [13] The presentation box and sword are both currently held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. The two swords awarded Jervis and Nelson were the first of their kind to be issued by the City of London. [14] [15] St Vincent was awarded the thanks of both Houses of Parliament and given a gold medal by the King. [14] The London Gazette published an advertisement in 1798 regarding the prize money that was due to the officers and men who had fought at the battle. The sum quoted was £140,000 of which, as admiral, Jervis was entitled to a sizable share. [16] In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issuance of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "St. Vincent" to all surviving claimants from the battle. [17]

Cordóba was dismissed from the Spanish navy and forbidden from appearing at court.

Jervis resumed his blockade of the Spanish fleet in Cadiz. [18] [19] [20] The continuation of the blockade for most of the following three years, largely curtailed the operations of the Spanish fleet until the Peace of Amiens in 1802.

The containment of the Spanish threat, and the further reinforcement of his command, enabled Jervis to send a squadron under Nelson back into the Mediterranean the following year. That squadron, including Saumarez's Orion, Troubridge's Culloden, and the Goliath, now under Foley, re-established British command of the Mediterranean at the Battle of the Nile.

Order of battle

British fleet

Admiral Sir John Jervis was on his flagship Victory. The British ships are listed in order from van to rear. Many of the British wounded later died.

Line of battle

Admiral Sir John Jervis’ Fleet
Ship Rate GunsCommanderCasualtiesNotes
Culloden Third rate 74Captain Thomas Troubridge
Blenheim Second rate 90Captain Thomas L. Frederick
Prince George Second rate 98Rear-Admiral William Parker;
Captain John Irwin
Orion Third rate 74Captain James Saumarez
Colossus Third rate 74Captain George Murray
Irresistible Third rate 74Captain George Martin
Victory First rate 100Admiral Sir John Jervis;
Captain of the Fleet Robert Calder;
Flag Captain George Grey
Egmont Third rate 74Captain John Sutton
Goliath Third rate 74 Charles Henry Knowles
Barfleur Second rate 98Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave;
Captain James Richard Dacres
Britannia First rate 100Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson;
Captain Thomas Foley
Namur Second rate 90 James Hawkins Whitshed
Captain Third rate 74Commodore Horatio Nelson;
Captain Ralph Willett Miller
Nelson was wounded during the action.
Diadem Third rate 64Captain George Henry Towry
Excellent Third rate 74Captain Cuthbert Collingwood
Total recorded casualties: 73 killed, 227 wounded
Source:London Gazette [21]

Other British vessels

Minerve 38Captain George Cockburn Fifth-rate frigate
Lively 32Captain Lord Garlies Fifth-rate frigate
Niger 32Captain Edward James Foote Fifth-rate frigate
Southampton 32Captain James Macnamara Fifth-rate frigate
Bonne-Citoyenne 20Commander Charles LindsayUnrated Sloop-of-war
Raven 18Commander William Prowse Unrated brig-sloop
Fox 10Lieutenant John GibsonUnrated cutter

Spanish fleet

Fleet Commander - Lieutenant-General José de Córdoba y Ramos
2nd Squadron / Vanguard - Lieutenant-General Francisco Javier Morales de los Ríos
1st Division
KilledSeriously WoundedSlightly WoundedTotal
Infante Don Pelayo Third rate74Captain Cayetano Valdés 4408
San PabloThird rate74Captain Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros ----
2nd Division
Purísima Concepción First rate112Lieutenant-General Francisco Javier Morales de los Ríos;
Flag Captain & Brigadier José Escaño
PerlaFifth rate34Commander Francisco Moyúa ----
Santo DomingoThird rate64Captain Manuel María de Torres Valdivia 2002
ConquistadorThird rate74Captain José Butler 6006
San Juan Nepomuceno Third rate74Captain Antonio Boneo ----
Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes Fifth rate34Commander José Varela----
San GenaroThird rate74Captain Agustín Villavicencio ----
1st Squadron / Battle Line - Lieutenant-General Don José de Córdoba y Ramos
3rd Division
Mejicano First rate112Brigadier Francisco de Herrera (†)254642113
Nuestra Señora de la PazFifth rate40Commander Santiago Irizarri ----
OrienteThird rate74Captain Juan Suárez 8200100
SoberanoThird rate74Flag Captain & Brigadier Juan Vicente;
Captain Francisco Ley (†)
4th Division
Santísima Trinidad First rate130Lieutenant-General Don José de Córdoba y Ramos;
Flag Captain & Brigadier Rafael Orozco;
Commander & Major-General Ciriaco Ceballos
6914192302badly damaged
VigilanteBrig12Lieutenant José de Córdoba y Rojas ----
San Nicolás de Bari Third rate80Brigadier Tomás Geraldino (†)14459-203captured
San IsidroThird rate74Captain Teodoro Argumosa 2963-92captured
Salvador del Mundo First rate112Brigadier Antonio Yepes (†)42124-166captured
San Ildefonso Third rate74Captain Rafael Maestre ----
3rd Squadron / Rearguard - Lieutenant-General Don Juan Joaquín Moreno
5th Division
Conde de Regla First rate112Commodore Claude Francois Renard de Fuchsemberg, Conde de Amblimont (†);
Flag Captain & Brigadier Jerónimo Brav
MatildeFifth rate34Captain Manuel Vitoria ----
San FermínThird rate74Captain José de Torres----
FirmeThird rate74Captain Bruno Ayala 2103
Príncipe de Asturias First rate112Lieutenant-General Juan Joaquín Moreno de Mondragón y D'Hontlier;
Flag Captain & Brigadier Antonio de Escaño
DianaFifth rate34Commander Juan José Varela----
6th Division
San AntonioThird rate74Captain Salvador Medina----
GloriosoThird rate74Captain Juan de Aguirre ----
Nuestra Señora de AtochaFifth rate40Commander Antonio Pareja ----
AtlanteThird rate74Captain Gonzálo Vallejo 64111
San Francisco de PaulaThird rate74Captain José Ussel de Guimbarda ----
San José First rate112Commodore Francisco Javier Winthuysen (†);
Flag Captain & Brigadier Pedro Pineda
CeresFifth rate40Commander Ignacio Olaeta ----
AsunciónArmed Merchantman28Lieutenant Manuel Díaz Herrera ----
Santa JustaArmed Merchantman18Lieutenant Florencio Scals ----
Santa BalbinaArmed Merchantman18Lieutenant Diego Ochandía ----
Santa PaulaArmed Merchantman20Lieutenant José Elexaga ----
Total recorded casualties: 430 killed, 661 seriously wounded and 195 slightly wounded

See also

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  1. Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXLII. Vol. LV., April, 1844 Archived 18 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Tucker. Vol. 1, p.255
  3. Marcus, Geoffrey (1971). The Age of Nelson, The Royal Navy 1793-1815 . Viking Adult. ISBN   0-670-10965-7.
  4. Tucker. Vol. 1, p.256
  5. THE BATTLE OF CAPE ST. VINCENT, the Nelson Society
  6. Coleman T, 2001. P.127
  7. Grundner
  8. 1 2 "No. 14012". The London Gazette . 23 May 1797. p. 474.
  9. Coleman T, 2001. P.130
  10. Coleman 2001, p. 130
  11. Tucker. Vol. 1, p.270
  12. Presentation small-sword from the City of London to Admiral Sir John Jervis, held in the collections of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Gold City of London Freedom Box presented to Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis, held in the collections of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. 1 2 Tucker. Vol. 1, p.271
  15. Tucker. Vol. 2, p.86
  16. "No. 14093". The London Gazette . 20 February 1798. p. 165.
  17. "No. 20939". The London Gazette . 26 January 1849. p. 238.
  18. "No. 14032". The London Gazette . 29 July 1797. p. 717.
  19. Tucker. Vol. 1, p.272
  20. The Naval Chronicle Vol. 4, p.41
  21. "No. 13987". The London Gazette . 3 March 1797. pp. 211–214.


Coordinates: 37°01′30″N8°59′40″W / 37.02500°N 8.99444°W / 37.02500; -8.99444