Capture of the Rosily Squadron

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Capture of the Rosily Squadron
Part of the Peninsular War
Vista de Cadiz y sus contornos hacia 1813.jpg
Map of Cádiz
Date9–14 June 1808.
Location Cádiz, Spain
Result Spanish victory, French squadron surrenders to Spain
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Empire Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Spain
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg François Rosily   (POW) Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Juan Ruiz de Apodaca
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Tomás de Morla y Pacheco
Strength
5 ships of the line,
1 frigate,
4,000 sailors
5 ships of the line,
1 frigate
At least 2,000 sailors and militia,
Numerous gunboats
Casualties and losses
13 dead,
46 wounded,
3,676 captured,
6 ships captured [1] [2]
Total: 3,735
4 dead,
50 wounded,
15 gunboats sunk
Total: 54

The Capture of the Rosily Squadron took place on 14 June 1808, in Cadiz, Spain, nearly three years after the Battle of Trafalgar, during the uprising against the French invaders. Five French ships of the line and a frigate were still in the port, having remained there since the British victory. French Admiral Rosily, after an engagement with the Spanish lasting five days, surrendered his entire squadron with the four thousand seamen then on board. [3]

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain(Spanish: Reino de España), is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805 battle of the Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815).

Dos de Mayo Uprising conflict

The Dos de Mayo or Second of May Uprising of 1808 was a rebellion by the people of Madrid against the occupation of the city by French troops, provoking the repression by the French Imperial forces

Contents

Background

Under difficult circumstances, Rear-Admiral Rosily acted in the manner that was most suitable to his situation, endeavouring to gain enough time for the arrival at Cadiz of those troops which had been dispatched from Madrid to Andalusia. He took up defensive positions, beyond the reach of the land batteries, in the channel which leads to the Caracas. While anchored there, he first offered to quit the bay, in order to quiet the multitude; he next proposed to the British, who were blockading the port, to send his cannon ashore, to keep his crews on board and to conceal his flag. In exchange, he required hostages for the safety of his sick and for the French inhabitants of Cadiz, and a pledge that he should be safe from attack. The British would not consent to this.

François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros French naval commander of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars

François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros was a French naval commander of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He is notable as being chosen by Napoleon to succeed Villeneuve as commander of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Cádiz fleet, arriving to take up his appointment just after its defeat at Trafalgar. His name is inscribed on the east side of the Arc de Triomphe.

Battle of Bailén battle

The Battle of Bailén was fought in 1808 by the Spanish Army of Andalusia, led by Generals Francisco Castaños and Theodor von Reding, and the Imperial French Army's II corps d'observation de la Gironde under General Pierre Dupont de l'Étang. This battle was the first ever open field defeat of the Napoleonic army. The heaviest fighting took place near Bailén, a village by the Guadalquivir river in the Jaén province of southern Spain.

The Spanish governor of Cadiz, Tomás Morla, refused to comply with the Rosily's demands, and instead required that he should surrender his forces. On Rosily's refusal, the Spaniards sited batteries on the Isle of Leon and near Fort Louis.

Isla de León locality

Isla de León is a historical name for the piece of land between the city of Cádiz and the Iberian peninsula, in Spain.

The French ships and their numbers of guns were:

Neptune 80
Héros 74
Pluton 74
Algesiras 80
Argonaute [4] 74
Cornélie 44

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

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.

French ship <i>Héros</i> (1801)

Héros was a 74-gun French ship of the line built at Rochefort from 1795 to 1801 by engineer Roland. She was one of the numerous Téméraire class ships designed by Jacques-Noël Sané.

French ship <i>Pluton</i> (1804)

Pluton was a Téméraire class 74-gun French ship of the line built at Toulon. She was one of two prototypes for a derivative sub-class of the original design; this sub-class was specially intended for construction in some of the shipyards in states occupied by the French, where there was less depth of water than in the main French shipyards. Although the Pluton were built at Toulon, all other vessels of this sub-class were built in these overseas yards, notably at Antwerp but also at Genoa, Trieste, Venice, Amsterdam, Flushing and Rotterdam.

Battle

On 9 June, at 3 PM, a division of Spanish gun and mortar boats and the batteries erected on the Isle of Leon and at Fort Louis commenced hostilities against the French ships with steady fire, which was kept up until nightfall. The Spaniards had even requested that two ships of the line, Principe de Asturias (112) and Terrible (74), help them.

The Príncipe de Asturias was a Spanish three-deck 112-gun ship of the line, named after Ferdinand, eldest surviving son of Charles IV of Spain. She was built in Havana in 1794 to designs by Romero Landa and launched on 28 January 1794. It was owned by the Spanish Navy.

On the following morning, the 10th, the cannonade recommenced and continued until 2 PM, when the French flagship, Héros, hoisted a flag of truce. Shortly afterwards Vice-Admiral Rosily addressed a letter to Spanish governor Morla, offering to disembark his guns and ammunition, but to retain his men and not hoist any colours. These terms were considered unacceptable, the Spaniards prepared to renew the attack upon the French squadron with an increase of force. On the 14th, at 7 AM, an additional battery of 30 long 24-pounders were ready to act and numerous gun and mortar vessels took up their stations. The French ships struck their colours, which in the course of the forenoon, were replaced by those of Spain.

Striking the colors

Striking the colors—meaning lowering the flag that signifies a ship's or garrison's allegiance—is a universally recognized indication of surrender, particularly for ships at sea. For a ship, surrender is dated from the time the ensign is struck.

The British were impatient spectators of this action. Admiral Collingwood, who commanded the blockade of Cadiz, made an offer of co-operation, but his offer was refused by the Spanish. It was enough for them that the British should prevent the fleet from escaping; they were not disposed to give them any claim to a prey which would be captured without their aid. [5] [6]

The French suffered little human loss, the Spaniards had only four men killed. It being impossible for the French to offer much resistance, and certain of the success of his attack, the Spanish governor, Tomás Morla, did not wish to employ more violent means of destruction, such as heated shot.

Aftermath

Immediately after the surrender of the French fleet, the Spanish Supreme Junta requested the British Admiral give passage in one of his vessels to the commissioners whom it wished to send for the purpose of negotiating with the Government of his Britannic Majesty for an alliance against Napoleon.

Mr George Canning, His Majesty's Foreign Secretary, stated:

"No longer remember that war has existed between Spain and Great Britain. Every nation which resists the exorbitant power of France becomes immediately, and whatever may have been its previous relations with us, the natural ally of Great Britain". [7]

During the journey of 4 July, the British government emitted an order, declaring that all hostilities between Great Britain and Spain would cease with immediate effect.

See also

Notes

  1. Alfred Thayer Mahan, p. 195
  2. 3,676 was the correct number of prisoners according to the Gazette of Madrid
  3. Thayer Mahan, p. 195
  4. (Argonaute of 1806)
  5. Maximilien p. 210
  6. James p. 14
  7. Maximilien, p 213

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References

Coordinates: 36°37′N6°21′W / 36.617°N 6.350°W / 36.617; -6.350