|Capture of the Rosily Squadron|
|Part of the Peninsular War|
Map of Cádiz
|Commanders and leaders|
| 5 ships of the line,|
| 5 ships of the line,|
At least 2,000 sailors and militia,
|Casualties and losses|
| 13 dead,|
6 ships captured
| 4 dead,|
15 gunboats sunk
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.
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.
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).
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
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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—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.
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.
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".
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.
HMS Bellerophon was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1786, she served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, mostly on blockades or convoy escort duties. Known to sailors as the "Billy Ruffian", she fought in three fleet actions, the Glorious First of June, the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar, and was the ship aboard which Napoleon finally surrendered, ending 22 years of nearly continuous war with France.
In the Battle of Cape Finisterre off Galicia, Spain, the British fleet under Admiral Robert Calder fought an indecisive naval battle against the combined Franco-Spanish fleet which was returning from the West Indies. Failing to prevent the joining of French Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve's fleet to the squadron of Ferrol and to strike the shattering blow that would have freed Great Britain from the danger of an invasion, Calder was later court-martialled and severely reprimanded for his failure and for avoiding the renewal of the engagement on 23 and 24 July. At the same time, in the aftermath Villeneuve elected not to continue on to Brest, where his fleet could have joined with other French ships to clear the English Channel for an invasion of Great Britain.
HMS Berwick was a 74-gun Elizabeth-class third rate of the Royal Navy, launched at Portsmouth Dockyard on 18 April 1775, to a design by Sir Thomas Slade. She fought the French at the Battle of Ushant (1778) and the Dutch at the Battle of Dogger Bank (1781). The French captured her in the Action of 8 March 1795 during the French Revolutionary Wars and she served with them with some success then and at the start of the Napoleonic Wars until the British recaptured her at the Battle of Trafalgar. Berwick sank shortly thereafter in a storm.
The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was an amphibious assault by the Royal Navy on the Spanish port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Launched by Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson on 22 July 1797, the assault was defeated, and on 25 July the remains of the landing party withdrew under a truce, having lost several hundred men. Nelson himself had been wounded in the arm, which was subsequently partially amputated: a stigma that he carried to his grave as a constant reminder of his failure.
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The 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, the 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.
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.
On February 18, 1797, a fleet of 18 warships under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby invaded and took the Island of Trinidad. Within a few days the last Spanish Governor, Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to Abercromby.
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The Action of 7 April 1800 was a minor naval engagement fought between a British squadron blockading the Spanish naval base of Cádiz and a convoy of 13 Spanish merchant vessels escorted by three frigates, bound for the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The blockade squadron consisted of the ships of the line HMS Leviathan and HMS Swiftsure and the frigate HMS Emerald, commanded by Rear-Admiral John Thomas Duckworth on Leviathan. The Spanish convoy sailed from Cádiz on 3 April 1800 and encountered Duckworth's squadron two days later. The Spanish attempted to escape; Emerald succeeded in capturing one ship early on 6 April. The British captured a brig the following morning and the British squadron divided in pursuit of the remainder.
The Algeciras campaign was an attempt by a French naval squadron from Toulon under Contre-Admiral Charles Linois to join a French and Spanish fleet at Cadiz during June and July 1801 during the French Revolutionary War prior to a planned operation against either Egypt or Portugal. 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. After a successful voyage between Toulon and Gibraltar, in which a number of British vessels were captured, the squadron anchored at Algeciras, a fortified port city within sight of Gibraltar across Gibraltar Bay. On 6 July 1801, Saumarez attacked the anchored squadron, in the First Battle of Algeciras. Although severe damage was inflicted on all three French ships of the line, none could be successfully captured and the British were forced to withdraw without HMS Hannibal, which had grounded and was subsequently seized by the French.
The First Battle of Algeciras was a naval battle fought on 6 July 1801 between a squadron of British Royal Navy ships of the line and a smaller French Navy squadron at anchor in the fortified Spanish port of Algeciras in the Strait of Gibraltar. The British outnumbered their opponents, but the French position was protected by Spanish gun batteries and the complicated shoals that obscured the entrance to Algeciras Bay. The French squadron, under Contre-Amiral Charles Linois, had stopped at Algeciras en route to the major Spanish naval base at Cadiz, where they were to form a combined French and Spanish fleet for operations against Britain and its allies in the French Revolutionary Wars. The British, under Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, sought to eliminate the French squadron before it could reach Cadiz and form a force powerful enough to overwhelm Saumarez and launch attacks against British forces in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Newfoundland expedition was a series of fleet manoeuvres and amphibious landings in the coasts of Newfoundland, Labrador and Saint Pierre and Miquelon carried out by the combined French and Spanish fleets during the French Revolutionary Wars. This expedition, composed of seven ships of the line and three frigates under the orders of Rear-Admiral Richery sailed from Cadiz in August 1796 accompanied by a much stronger Spanish squadron, commanded by General Solano, which had the aim of escorting it to the coast of Newfoundland.
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.
HMS Carmen, was the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora del Carmen, built in 1770 at Ferrol. The British Royal Navy captured her on 6 April 1800 and took her into service as HMS Carmen. She served in the Mediterranean until she returned to Britain in 1801. There the Admiralty had her laid-up in ordinary. She was sold in December.