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Battle of Cartagena de Indias
Part of the War of Jenkins' Ear
Ataque Cartagena de Indias.jpg
Attack at Cartagena de Indias by the British in 1741, oil on canvas, 18th century.
Date March–May of 1741
Location Cartagena de Indias, Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Colombia)
Result Decisive Spanish victory
Belligerents
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Great Britain Bandera de España 1701-1748.svg Spain
Commanders
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Edward Vernon,
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Thomas Wentworth
Bandera de España 1701-1748.svgSebastián de Eslava,
Bandera de España 1701-1748.svg Blas de Lezo
Strength
31,400 men:[1][2]
  • 2,000 regulars
  • 9,000 marines[3]
  • 15,400 sailors
  • 5,000 merchant seamen

29 ships of the line, 157 transports and supply vessels[4]

4,000 men:[5]
  • 1,100 regulars
  • 400 marines
  • 500 militia
  • 600 natives
  • 600 sailors

6 ships of the line

Casualties and losses
8,000-11,000 dead,[6][7]
7,500 wounded,
1,500 guns lost,
50 ships lost
800 dead,
1,200 wounded,
6 ships lost

The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was the decisive battle of a massive amphibious expedition by the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon against Spain under Admiral Blas de Lezo, taking place at the city of Cartagena de Indias, in present day Colombia, starting in March 1741. It is the most significant battle in the War of Jenkins' Ear and one of the largest naval campaigns in British history, though it is now largely forgotten by the British. The war later blended into the greater conflict of the War of the Austrian Succession. The battle ended in a major defeat and heavy losses for the British: 50 ships lost and 18,000 casualties.[8]

Contents

Background

Sir Robert Walpole

The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748. Under the 1729 Treaty of Seville, the British had agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies except under extreme conditions restricted to the Annual Ship and the Asiento slave trade.[9] The commercial class in Britain demanded access to the lucrative Spanish markets of the Caribbean Basin and Spanish colonists desired British-made goods so a burgeoning Black Market had developed. By the terms of the treaty, the Spanish were permitted to board British vessels in Spanish waters. After one such boarding in 1731, Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, claimed that the Spanish coast guard had severed his ear. Jenkins exhibited his pickled ear to the House of Commons. This only served to heighten the "war fever" now developing against Spain which was also driven by the desire of commercial and military domination of the Atlantic basin. To much cheering, the British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declared war on 23 October 1739.[10] Vice-Admiral Vernon was an active and ardent supporter of war against Spain and spoke for offensive action both in Parliament and before the Admiralty.[11]

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Spanish Caribbean

The Spanish Caribbean basin trade had a network of four main ports: Vera Cruz, Cartagena, Porto Bello (now Portobelo) and the main port through which all the trade of those three came through, Havana. On 22 November 1739 one of the first actions of the War was the British capture of Portobelo which was part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The attack was part of an attempt to damage Spain's finances. The poorly defended port was attacked by six ships[12] of the line under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon.[13] The relative ease of this capture, although it was quickly recaptured by the Spanish after Vernon's fleet departed, caused jubilation in Britain and resulted in Vernon being given command of a very large naval contingent consisting of one fourth of the British Royal Navy in ships and sailors of a major land and sea amphibious expedition under the overall command of Lord Cathcart.[14] Unfortunately for British hopes Lord Cathcart died en route and it remained unclear who was then in command overall. Lord Cathcart's untimely demise would result in dissensions in the British command which would prevent the necessary coordination needed for this complex operation.

The despatch of the large fleet and troop contingent was primarily for political reasons as the government wished to gain credit for Vernon's hoped for future successes by supplying him with an overwhelming force. Vernon, himself, was not convinced that a large-scale attack on a heavily fortified city would be successful as his smaller Portobello assault had been, fearing particularly a prolonged siege would lead to heavy attrition from disease. However, he could not refuse the orders to attack a major port when he had such a large force at his command[15].

Objectives

Britain's objective was to capture and permanently retain Spain's four ports of the Caribbean basin and thereby acquire Spain's American empire.[16] However, Britain had no place to build and refit ships in the Caribbean as Spain did with the dockyards at Havana and without a dockyard no fleet could remain in the area for any length of time without breaking down. Quick capture was imperative but England's divided ministry left the course of the campaign up to Vernon and others at a Council of War held in Jamaica. They decided on Cartagena as their initial objective as it was a good port and to windward of Britain's existing Caribbean bases.

Battle

A Map of the trading part of the West Indies, created 1741 in honour of Vernon
showing Boca Chica, Cartagena - 2nd from the bottom left

The battle of Cartagena pitted a British invasion force of at least 26,400, 12,000 of which were infantry, in 186 ships[17] including: 29[18] Ships of the Line;[19] the rest of all types armed with 2,000 cannon against a force of 3,000 Spanish and colonial regulars, an unspecified number of sailors and armed townsmen and 600 Indian archers, perhaps up to 6,000 combatants,[20] fighting from six frigates and massive fortifications — under the command of the Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava, Don Melchor de Navarrete, Don Carlos Des Naux, and Don Blas de Lezo.

The British expedition arrived off Cartagena on March 4 and after a couple of weeks bombardment the initial attack made by land and sea at Boca Chica, the Little Mouth, on April 5. This channel ran between two narrow peninsulas and was defended on one side by the fort of St. Louis, Boca Chica Castle, with four bastions having some 80 cannons, on the other side of the channel an earthwork battery of 15 cannon all supported by redoubts. A boom stretched from the island of La Bomba to the southern peninsula on which was Fort St. Joseph with 21 cannon. Also supporting the entrance were the 6 Spanish line ships.[21] The British army forces on land established a battery and made a breach in the main fort while part of the fleet assisted and another part of the fleet engaged the Spanish ships which, ultimately, Lezos tried to scuttle and set on fire. Two Spanish ships partially blocked the channel and one was captured by the British before it could sink. An advance was made on the breach, however the Spanish had already retired to fortifications in the inner harbor on the March 24. The landing force re-embarked and the harbor then entered. The next council of war decided to attempt to isolate Cartagena from the land side by an assault of Fort St. Lazar. The assault failed with a loss of 600 casualties.

Blas de Lezo by unknown painter

Don Blas de Lezo's plan was that, given the overwhelming force against him, he hoped to conduct a fighting withdrawal and delay the British long enough until the start of the rainy season at the end of April. The tropical downpours would effectively end campaigning for another 2 months. Also, the longer the enemy had to remain mostly at sea and in the open the more likely it would become that insufficient supply, discomfort and especially disease would become his allies and the deadly enemies of the British. De Lezo was aided in this by the contempt that Vernon and Wentworth had for each other which prevented any further cooperation after the initial landing. Wentworth was goaded by Vernon into an ill-considered, badly planned assault on Cartagena which Vernon refused to support with the fleet making specious excuses about the depth of the harbor.

An experienced, wily and tenacious Spanish Naval commander, de Lezo, whose previous career was as daring and spectacular as any naval officer of his day, made use of every advantage, strategy and tactic available to him. Cartagena's defensive fortifications had been repaired and improved over the past year. Although De Lezo was pressed to the limit, his plan bore the hoped for fruit. The rains came and the British had to board their ships, where close quarters made disease even more deadly, and by April 25, Vernon resolved to retreat to Jamaica and by mid-May they were gone.

By honest count we lost 18,000 men dead, and according to a Spanish soldier we captured, they lost at most 200. Admiral One Leg with his excellet leadership and fire killed 9,000 of our men, General Fever killed a like number. When I last saw the harbor of Cartagena, its surface was gray with the rotting bodies of our men, who died so rapidly that we could not bury them.[22]

—John Pembroke, Cartagena 1741

The battle lasted 67 days and ended with the British fleet withdrawing in defeat, with 18,000 killed and wounded , half of them to disease[22]. 50 ships were sunk or abandoned for lack of crew.[23] Most of the American colonists who had volunteered, lured by Vernon's promises[citation needed] of mountains of gold, died of yellow fever, dysentery, and outright starvation, and those who returned home injured, including Lawrence Washington (who renamed his Virginia plantation after Admiral Vernon) had little to show for their efforts.

In the middle of the battle, when the Spanish forces had retreated from different defense points to regroup in the larger Fortress of San Felipe de Barajas, the British dispatched a messenger, Captain Laws, to England. He informed the King of their victory on May 17. A special medal was even minted in London to commemorate this "victory" with a drawing of Admiral Vernon looking down upon the "defeated" Spanish admiral, Don Blas de Lezo who appears kneeling down.[24] A contemporary song was composed by a sailor from the Shrewsbury that prematurely celebrated the victory:

VERNON'S GLORY; OR, THE SPANIARDS DEFEAT.
Being an account of the taking of Carthagena by Vice-Admiral Vernon...
"...and the town surrender[ed]
To Admiral Vernon, the scourge of Spain".[25]

Aftermath

When the embarrassing news of the outcome reached London some weeks later, the British government removed these medals and prohibited the news from being disclosed and published.[26] Following the news of the disaster Robert Walpole's government soon collapsed and Spain retained control over its very lucrative colony, and over a strategic port in the Caribbean that helped secure the defense of the Spanish Main.[27] News of Britain's defeat reached Europe at the end of June, 1741 and had immense repercussions. It caused George II of Great Britain, who had been acting as mediator between Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa supporting Austria over Prussian seizure of Silesia in December of 1740, to withdraw its guarantees of armed support for the Pragmatic Sanction. That encouraged France and Spain, the Bourbon allies, revealed to also be allied with Prussia, to move militarily against a now isolated Austria.[28] A greater and wider war, the War of the Austrian Succession, was now taking shape.

The failure to take Cartagena caused what was left of the naval forces assigned to Vernon to remain in the Caribbean longer. This resulted in the weakened Mediterranean squadron being unable to prevent the Spanish from twice convoying troops totalling 25,000 to Italy in November and December of 1741. It was not until Commodore Richard Lestock, commander of one of Vernon's divisions at Cartagena, returned to Europe with ships from the Caribbean fleet, that Britain reinforced its presence in the Mediterranean.[29]

References

  1. ^ Robert Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Appendix pp.25-27
  2. ^ A remarkable piece of Spanish intelligence on this expedition is found almost a year prior to the arrival of this fleet. The Governor of Spanish Florida learned from English colonists taken prisoner in the recapture of Fort Mose during the siege of St. Augustine that "they have learned of the preparation in England of a considerable expedition against Havanna, consisting of 30 ships of the line, and of a landing party of 10,000 men. I am sending this dispatch to give you this information as possibly of great importance to the service of the King." Letter from Governor Montiano, July 6, 1740, Collections of the Georgia Historical Society. (Vol. VII. - Part I) Published by Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Ga.
  3. ^ Including 3,000 American colonial marines—Gooch's Regiment of Marines, four battalions. Virginia Governor Gooch commander. Later the 43rd Regiment of Foot. Considered the origin of the United States Marine Corps.
  4. ^ Tobias George Smollett, David Hume, History of England, Vol. II, London, 1848, p.391, Ogle's fleet being sent to Vernon for the expedition against Cartagena is stated to be "one hundred and seventy sail" when added to Vernon's squadron something very close to 186 ships is achieved and includes the supply ships and transports not mentioned elsewhere. The author, Smollett, of course, was with this expedition as surgeon and therefore an eyewitness.
  5. ^ Francis Russel Hart, Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.146.
  6. ^ Francis Russel Hart, Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.151. "So great were the losses to the troops through disease and battle that not over one third of the land troops appear to have returned with the fleet to Jamaica." This would indicate considerably more than 8,000 dead.
  7. ^ Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1, p.123,"...so reduced was this force in two years by disaster and disease, that not a tenth part returned to England...'thus ended in shame, disappointment, and loss, the most important, most expensive, and best concerted expedition that Great Britain was ever engaged in'...".
  8. ^ The defeat is considered by some historians to be comparable to that suffered by the Spanish Armada at the hands of the British Navy. And, as with the Spanish Armada, the lost opportunity did no actual damage to the strategic position, the importance of the defeat is more in a loss of an opportunity for immense gain rather than actual damage to Britain's strategic position. David Hume, The History of England, London, 1825, pp.108-113, "The conjoined squadrons consisted of nine and twenty ships of the line...The number of seamen amounted to 15,000: that of land forces...12,000." Arthur Michael Samuel, The Mancroft Essays,1923, pp.236-242, 'Admiral Vernon, "...now reinforced by twenty-five ships of the line and 9,000 soldiers...of the six thousand that had been landed more than half were either dead or dying..". At Cartagena the British casualties are ultimately estimated at over 18,000 troops and 50 ships while the Spanish Armada lost about 10,000 troops and 63 ships. Strategically, Spain prevented British invasion and conquest of their American possessions. The British fleet and bad weather prevented the Armada's invasion and conquest of England.
  9. ^ Reed Browning The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p.21, The Asiento allowed Britain to supply 5,000 slaves a year to Caribbean colonies and one yearly trading ship to Porto Bello.
  10. ^ "War of Jenkins Ear". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/jenkins_ear.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  11. ^ Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p.124, "Destroy their settlements in America, and Spain falls. My opinion is that a strong squadron be sent to the West Indies, to distress the enemy in their very vitals, to destroy their mines, to seize their treasures, to take their ships, to ruin their settlements. Let them be attacked in as many places as possible at the same time...If once Porto-Bello and Cartagena were taken, then all will be lost to them." Vernon at the Admiralty meeting.
  12. ^ Robert Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Appendix p. 17, 3 70 guns, 2 60 guns, 1 50 guns.
  13. ^ Ruiz, Bruce. "Admiral Vernon and portobello". Panama History.com. http://www.bruce.ruiz.net/PanamaHistory/admiral_vernon.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  14. ^ Reed Browning The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p. 22, "They (the British) had over 120 ships of the line in their fleet, while France had but 50 and Spain 40. In Mitch Williamson's article, British Naval Supremacy: Some Factors Newly Considered 2002, he states the Royal Navy's War Establishment Manpower at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748 is 44,861- so Vernon's total of over 15,000 sailors represents at least 25% of Royal Navy manpower.
  15. ^ N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean, 2004, page 236
  16. ^ Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p.140, "In that way there would have been secured for Britain the whole trade with the coast of Chili (sic) and Peru, and with the western coast of Mexico, thus crippling the power of Spain..."
  17. ^ Cartagena, Caribbean Jewel - New York Times
  18. ^ Robert Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Appendix pp.25-26. List of ships of the line under Vernon is 8 of 80 guns, 5 of 70 guns, 14 of 60 guns, 2 of 50 guns and 22 frigates and other warships. Additionally, the list gives a detail breakdown of the 12,000 troops: the 15th and 24th regiments of foot, 2,000; 6,000 marines; 2,500 American and some others. Ship of the Line crews total 11,000+, no numbers are given for the frigate and transport crews on that page. On the following page a list of frigates and their crews is given for the Cartagena expedition that corresponds to that of Vernon's fleet list with a few minor variations. The total for Royal Navy sailors then (at least as paper strength, full complements) is: 15,398. This total does not include the 12,000 soldiers, nor any civilian seamen, nor the crews for the over 120 transports.
  19. ^ David Hume, The History of England, London, 1825, p.109,"...with an equal number of frigates, fire ships, and bomb ketches...". When compared with a nearly contemporary amphibious expedition described in James Pritchard, Anatomy of a Naval Disaster: The 1746 French Expedition to North America. Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995 ISBN 978-0-7735-1325-9 as: 10 Ships of the Line, 45 troop transports and some 10,000 sailors and soldiers it can be seen that Vernon's fleet has nearly three times as many Ships of the Line and nearly three times the soldiers and sailors and that by analogy Vernon's fleet would have around three times the total ships or more, i.e. at least 165 ships.
  20. ^ Lemaitre, Eduardo (1998). Breve Historia de Cartagena. Medellin: Editorial Colina. 
  21. ^ Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p.153.'
  22. ^ a b Pembroke, John (1741). True Account of Admiral Vernon’s conduit of Cartagena. 
  23. ^ Facts stranger than fiction: the story of Don Blas de Lezo :: Cartagena Colombia
  24. ^ Don Blas de Lezo
  25. ^ Navy Records Society (Great Britain) Publications of the Navy Records Society Vol. XXXIII, Naval Songs and Ballards,1907, pp.181-184, a must read, absolutely hilarious in context, it also has specific details about the fleets that correspond to other sources such as "Thirty ships of the line...", "Don Blass with six ships...".
  26. ^ Victoria, Pablo (2005). El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra : de cómo Blas de Lezo, tuerto, manco y cojo, venció en Cartagena de Indias a la otra "Armada Invencible". Barcelona: Áltera. ISBN 84-89779-68-6. 
  27. ^ For a good account of the mood of London and Vernon's enmity to Walpole see: Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication London, MCMVII, pp.141-145,"The debate in Parliament was one the most exciting and memorable ever heard...the climax lay in Walpole's alleged misconduct in relation to the war, and that, in turn, practically meant his failure to give proper support to Admiral Vernon....But Walpole's victory was of the sort that presages ultimate defeat."; p. 147, "In January, 1742, Pulteney again marshalled his forces, and moved for the appointment of a committee to examine papers capable of affording evidence as to the conduct of the war with Spain." Walpole would resign the first week of February, 1742.
  28. ^ Reed Browning, The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, pp.58-66, " 'now America must be fought for in Europe', Britain's Lord Hardwicke. If Britain could not prevail where it could muster all its maritime advantages, what fatality might await it when it engaged-as now it must-under severe disadvantages?"
  29. ^ Reed Browning, The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, pp.80-81.

Bibliography

  • Tobías Smollet (Tobias Smollett), Authentic papers related to the expedition against Carthagena, by Jorge Orlando Melo in Reportaje de la historia de Colombia, Bogotá: Planeta, 1989.
  • Lemaitre, Eduardo (1998). Breve Historia de Cartagena. Medellin: Editorial Colina. 
  • Quintero Saravia, Gonzalo M. (2002) Don Blas de Lezo: defensor de Cartagena de Indias Editorial Planeta Colombiana, Bogotá, Colombia, ISBN 958-42-0326-6, in Spanish
  • Victoria, Pablo (2005) El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra : de cómo Blas de Lezo, tuerto, manco y cojo, venció en Cartagena de Indias a la otra "Armada Invencible" Áltera, Barcelona, Spain, ISBN 84-89779-68-6
  • Pembroke, John (1741) True Account of Admiral Vernon’s conduit of Cartagena, by James A. Michener in Caribbean, Maryland (USA): Fawcet, 1990. ISBN 0-449-21749-3
  • Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5
  • Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1.
  • Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII.
  • Beatson,Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804.

External links


Battle of Cartagena de Indias
Part of the War of Jenkins' Ear
Date March–May of 1741
Location Cartagena de Indias, Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Colombia)
Result Decisive Spanish victory
Belligerents
File:Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Great Britain File:Bandera de Españ Spain
Commanders and leaders
File:Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Edward Vernon
File:Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Thomas Wentworth
File:Bandera de Españ Blas de Lezo
File:Bandera de Españ Sebastián de Eslava
Strength
27,400 military personnel:[1][2]
  • 12,000 regulars, marines and militia[3]
  • 15,398 Royal Navy sailors[4]

29 ships of the line
22 frigates[5]
135 transports and other craft[6]

4,000 military personnel:[7]
  • 2,700 regulars[8] and 400 marines
  • 600 sailors and 300 militia[9][10]
  • 600 natives

6 ships of the line and numerous shore-based guns

Casualties and losses
9,500–11,500 dead[11][12][13]
7,500 wounded and sick
1,500 guns lost[14]
6 Royal Navy ships lost[15]
17 Royal Navy ships of the line heavily damaged[13][16]
4 frigates and 27 transports lost[17]
800 dead
1,200 wounded[18]
6 ships lost
5 forts
3 batteries
395 cannon

The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was a massive amphibious military engagement, then called a 'descent', between the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon and Spain under Admiral Blas de Lezo. It took place at the city of Cartagena de Indias, population 10,000, in March 1741, in present day Colombia. It was the most significant battle in the War of Jenkins' Ear and one of the largest naval campaigns in British history, though it is now largely forgotten. The war later blended into the greater conflict of the War of the Austrian Succession. The battle ended in a major defeat and heavy losses for the British: 50 ships lost, badly damaged or abandoned for lack of crew and losses of 18,000 soldiers and sailors,[19] mainly due to disease.[20][21]

Contents

Background

The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748. Under the 1729 Treaty of Seville, the British had agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies except under extreme conditions restricted to the Annual Ship and the Asiento slave trade.[22] The commercial class in Britain demanded access to the lucrative Spanish markets of the Caribbean Basin and Spanish colonists desired British-made goods so a burgeoning black market had developed. By the terms of the treaty, the Spanish were permitted to board British vessels in Spanish waters. After one such boarding in 1731, Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, claimed that the Spanish coast guard had severed his ear. Jenkins exhibited his pickled ear to the House of Commons. This only served to heighten the "war fever" now developing against Spain which was also driven by the desire of commercial and military domination of the Atlantic basin. To much cheering, the British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declared war on October 23, 1739.[23] Vice-Admiral Vernon was an active and ardent supporter[24] of war against Spain and spoke for offensive action both in Parliament and before the Admiralty.[25]

Spanish Caribbean

The Spanish Caribbean basin trade had a network of four main ports: Vera Cruz, Cartagena, Porto Bello (now Portobelo) and the main port through which all the trade of those three came, Havana. On November 22, 1739 one of the first actions of the War was the British capture of Portobelo which was part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The attack was part of an attempt to damage Spain's finances. The poorly defended port was attacked by six ships of the line[26] under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon.[27] The relative ease of this capture, although it was quickly recaptured by the Spanish after Vernon's fleet departed, caused jubilation in Britain and resulted in Vernon being given command of a very large naval contingent consisting of one fourth of the British Royal Navy in ships and sailors of a major land and sea amphibious expedition under the overall command of Lord Cathcart.[28] The first intended objective of the expedition was to capture Havana, the most important of the Spanish ports because it had facilities where ships could be refit. Unfortunately for British hopes Lord Cathcart died en route and it remained unclear who was then in command overall. Lord Cathcart's untimely demise would result in dissensions in the British command which would prevent the necessary coordination needed for this complex operation.[29]

The despatch of the large fleet and troop contingent had been demanded by the public, led by the Duke of Newcastle[30] in Parliament and the decision to mount a large West Indies expedition was reached in December of 1739.[31] This left both Walpole, who opposed the war categorically,[32] and Vernon, who favored small squadron actions, dissatisfied with the situation. Vernon, despite his earlier failed small squadron raid on Cartagena, was not convinced that a large-scale attack on a heavily fortified city would be successful as his smaller Portobello assault had been. He feared, particularly, a prolonged siege would lead to heavy attrition from disease.[33]

Objectives

Britain's objective was to capture and permanently retain[34] Spain's four ports of the Caribbean basin and thereby acquire Spain's American empire.[35] However, Britain had no place to build and refit ships in the Caribbean as Spain did with the dockyards[36] at Havana and without a dockyard no fleet could remain in the area for any length of time without breaking down. Quick capture of Havana and its dry dock was imperative and it was the favored objective of Newcastle and Wager, but England's divided ministry left the course of the campaign up to Vernon and others at a Council of War held in Jamaica. They followed Vernon, who preferred Cartagena as their initial objective as it was a good port and to windward of Britain's existing Caribbean bases and thought Havana too well defended.[37]

Battle

shows Boca Chica, Cartagena – 2nd from the bottom left.|right|thumb|300px]]

, Prime Minister of Great Britain from the studio of Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1740.]] The Battle of Cartagena pitted a British invasion force of at least 27,400 military personnel, 12,000[38] of which were infantry including: two British regular regiments, the 15th Foot and 24th Foot, 6,000 newly raised marines[39] in 186 ships[40] including: 29[41] Ships of the Line;[42] 22 frigates, 2 hospital ships, various fire ships and bomb ketches armed with a total of some 2,000 cannon; 80 troop transports and 50 merchant ships. Included, but arriving from the North American colonies sailing on another 40 transports were some 3,600 American colonial troops.[43]

Opposed was a force of 2,700 to 3,000 Spanish regulars[44] from the regiments Aragon, España and that of Toledo, Lisboa and Navarra just arrived in October 1740, brought by Vice-admiral Torres; a colonial regiment from Cartagena; an unspecified number of sailors; 5 companies of militia and 600 Indian archers, perhaps 4,000[45] to 6,000 combatants,[46] fighting from six Ships of the Line and massive fortifications — under the command of the Captain Don Blas de Lezo, Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava, Don Melchor de Navarrete and Don Carlos Des Naux. Blas de Lezo, a Basque,[47] was an experienced, wily and tenacious Spanish Naval commander, whose previous career was as daring and spectacular as any naval officer of his day. Lezo, who had lost an arm, a leg and an eye in the service of Spain made use of every advantage, strategy and tactic available to him.[48]

Preliminary maneuvers

from Gentleman's Magazine 1740.]]

The expedition was very slow getting started from England. Initially, contrary winds delayed the sailing until most of the shipboard provisions were consumed and a steep increase of sickness[49] occurred among the ship crews. Then news of the sailing of the French squadrons and a Spanish squadron caused further delay while the British fleet was reinforced in response. The expedition suffered from manpower shortages in the navy which required drafting two full infantry regiments, the 34th and 36th, to fill crew requirements and Cathcart was ordered by the government to transfer 600 of his marines to provide marines for the men of war.[50] These delays cost the British three months of valuable campaign time. The 3,600 Americans were transported to Jamaica from New York on 40 transports escorted by some British men of war and arrived much sooner on December 3, 1740 under the command of Colonel Gooch, but found on their arrival that no arrangements had been made by the British government for their provisions.[50] The lack of provision and climate immediately began to take a toll on the Americans while the fleet from England was suffering from typhus, scurvy and dysentery so that by January 1741 the land forces had already suffered 500 dead, including Lord Cathcart the commander in chief, and 1,500 sick.[50] Additional delays before and after embarking from Jamaica cost more precious time including a brief skirmish with a French squadron. Both the British and the Spanish were well aware that with onset of the two month rainy season in May the so-called 'sickly season', which would last from May to November,[51] would also begin.[52]

The Spanish had received reinforcements but were already suffering severely from diseases as well. Similar to the British, but not as destructive to operations, there was dissension between Lezo and Eslava. In particular, Lezo favored a very strong, all out defense of Boca Chica channel and Eslava's opposition led to an under-manning of some of the forward defenses allowing an easier initial landing for the British.[53]

Attack on Fort San Luis at Boca Chica

File:Sebastián de
Sebastián de Eslava, Viceroy of New Granada.

The British expedition arrived off Cartagena on March 4 with no overall commander but with decisions being made by councils of war, with General Wentworth now commanding the land forces and Vernon the sea forces. The navy had lost so many sailors by this time as a result of the epidemics that one third of the land forces were needed to fill out the crews.[54] Although the city of Cartagena was fronted on one side by the ocean, the shore and surf were so rough as to preclude any attempt to approach it from there. The other access channel, Boca Grande, was too shallow to allow the passage of ocean-going ships. The channel of Boca Chica was the only deep draft passage into the harbor of Cartagena. It ran between two narrow peninsulas and was defended on one side by the fort of San Luis, Boca Chica Castle, with four bastions having some 49 cannons, 3 mortars and a garrison of 300 soldiers. A boom stretched from the island of La Bomba to the southern peninsula on which was Fort San Jose with 13 cannon and 150 soldiers. Also supporting the entrance were the 6 Spanish line ships.[55]

After a couple of weeks of bombardment an initial landing was to be made near the smaller access channel, Boca Chica, by 300 grenadiers. The Spanish defenders of two small, nearby forts, San Iago and San Philip, were driven off by a division of three ships of the fleet under Chaloner Ogle which suffered some 120 casualties with the Shrewsbury alone losing 100 killed and wounded as well as taking serious damage from cannon fire from Fort San Luis.[56] The grenadiers landed that evening and were followed by on March 22 by the whole of the land forces: the two regular regiments, the six regiments of marines[57] but of the Americans only 300 were allowed ashore. They were followed in a few days by the artillery. After making camp, a battery was constructed in two weeks and its 18 guns began battering the fort. A squadron of five ships, consisting of the Boyne, Prince Frederick, Hampton Court, Tilbury, and Suffolk also attempted to batter the fort into submission for two days but had the worst of it, making no impression on the fort and having many men killed and three ships heavily damaged and disabled.[58]

The British artillery on land, after three days of firing night and day, made a breach in the main fort[59] while part of the fleet assisted and another part of the fleet engaged the Spanish ships two of which, ultimately, Lezos scuttled and set another on fire. The two scuttled Spanish ships partially blocked the channel and another one, the Galicia, was captured by the British before it could sink. An attack was made by land and sea on Fort San Luis on April 5. The infantry advanced on the breach, however the Spanish had already retired to fortifications in the inner harbor. Over the following week, the landing force re-embarked and the harbor then entered. The operation against Boca Chica cost the British army 120 killed and wounded, additionally 250 died from the diseases of yellow fever and malaria and 600 sick were hospitalized.[60]

Attack on Fort San Lazaro

, portrait by an unknown painter.]] The next council of war decided to attempt to isolate Cartagena from the land side by an assault of Fort San Lazaro, called in some accounts San Felipe de Barajas. With the capture of San Luis and other outlying defensive works, the fleet passed through the Boca Chica channel into the lagoon that made up the harbor of Cartagena. The Spanish withdrew from some more untenable points concentrating their forces at fort San Lazaro and the city itself. Wentworth was goaded by Vernon into an ill-considered, badly planned assault on the fort, an outlying strong-point of Cartagena, which Vernon refused to support with the fleet making specious excuses about the depth of the harbor. The ships cleared the beach with cannon fire and Wentworth landed on April 16 at Texar de Gracias.[61]

After the British gained the inner harbor and captured some outlying forts de Lezo strengthened the last main bastion of San Luis by digging a trench around it and clearing a field of fire on the approach. It was essential that this fort be held as it commanded the city[62] and, in British hands, a bombardment would force Cartagena to surrender in a short time. Lezo also defended the trench with some 650 soldiers and garrisoned the fort with another 300 while keeping in hand a reserve of 200 marines and sailors. The British advanced from the beach and had to pass a narrow defile. There they met a Spanish force that briefly contested that passage before giving way.[63]

The only British engineer with the expedition had been killed at fort San Luis and there was no one capable of constructing a battery to breach the walls. It was then decided to storm the fort outright in a coup de main, walls unbreached during a night attack which would allow the assault of the northern side of the fort facing Cartagena. In the dark the guns of Cartagena would not be able to give supporting fire. The southern side had the lowest most vulnerable walls and the grenadiers would attempt to carry the parapets. But the attack started late and the initial advance on Lazaro was made near dawn at 4 am April 20 by a forlorn hope of 50 picked men followed by 450 grenadiers commanded by Colonel Wynyard. The main body was 1,000 men of the 15th and 24th regiments commanded by Colonel Grant, then a mixed company from the 34th and 36th regiments[64] and some Americans carrying scaling-ladders for the fort's high walls and the grenadiers' grenade packs. Finally, there was a reserve of 500 marines under Colonel Wolfe.[65]

The column was led by two Spanish deserters as guides who misled the British on the southern low walled side. Wynyard was led to a steep approach and as the grenadiers scrambled up the slope they were received with a deadly volley of musket fire at thirty yards from the Spanish in the entrenchments. The grenadiers deployed and advanced slowly trading fire. On the north face, Grant fell early and the leaderless troops traded fire with the Spanish. Most of the Americans dropped the ladders they carried and took cover. Those ladders brought forward were too short by ten feet.[66] After an hour, the sun rose and the guns of Cartagena opened fire on the British and casualties mounted. At eight o'clock a column of Spanish infantry issued from the gates of Cartagena threatening to cut the British off from their ships so Wentworth ordered a retreat. The assault failed with a loss of 600 casualties from a force of approximately 2,000. Sickness and disease increased the casualties of the expedition and during the period surrounding the attack on Fort San Lazaro Wentworth's land forces alone were reduced from 6,500 effectives to 3,200.[67][68]

British withdrawal

.]] Don Blas de Lezo's plan had been that, given the overwhelming force against him, he would attempt to conduct a fighting withdrawal and delay the British long enough until the start of the rainy season at the end of April. The tropical downpours would effectively end campaigning for another 2 months. Further, the longer the enemy had to remain mostly crowded on ships at sea and in the open on land the more likely that insufficient supply, discomfort and especially disease would become his allies and the deadly enemies of the British. De Lezo was aided in this by the contempt that Vernon and Wentworth had for each other which prevented any further cooperation after the initial landing.[69]

Another important factor in the defeat of the British force was the fact that Cartagena's defensive fortifications had been repaired and improved over the past year. Although De Lezo was pressed to the limit, his plan worked and the Spanish prevailed. The rains came and the British had to board their ships, where close quarters made disease even more deadly, and by April 25, Vernon and the council decided to retreat to Jamaica and by mid-May they were gone. By May 7, only 1,700 men of the land forces were fit for service and no more than 1,000 in condition to land against the enemy and within a month of leaving Cartagena another 1,100 died. British strength was reduced to 1,400 and American to 1,300.[70]

The expedition and fighting had lasted 67 days and ended with the British fleet withdrawing in defeat, with 18,000 dead, or incapacitated , mostly by disease.[71] In addition a total of 50 ships were lost, badly damaged, disabled or abandoned for lack of crews. There were nineteen ships of the line damaged, four frigates and twenty-seven transports lost.[72] Of the 3,600 American colonists, who had volunteered, lured by promises of land[73] and mountains of gold,[74] most died of yellow fever, dysentery, and outright starvation. Only 300[75] returned home, including Lawrence Washington, who renamed his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon after Admiral Vernon.

File:"Toma" de Cartagena por
Commemorative English medal regarding the British "victory" at Cartagena de Indias. Vernon is depicted holding a command stick and finger pointing the Spanish city, backed by his ships. The medal says "Admiral Vernon winning the town of Carthagana". Naval Museum of Madrid.
File:Medalla Lezo y
Commemorative English medal showing Vernon looking down upon the Spanish admiral Blas de Lezo (Don 'Blass'). Although actually he only had one leg, Lezo is depicted with his two legs, so he could appear knelt down, giving his sword to Vernon. The medal says "The pride of Spain humbled by ad. Vernon". Naval Museum of Madrid.

During the early stage of the battle, when the Spanish forces had retreated from different defense points to regroup in the larger fortress of San Lazaro, feeling victory in his hands Vernon dispatched a messenger, Captain Laws, to England where he informed the King of their victory on May 17. Different commemorative medals were minted in London to celebrate this "victory". In one of these medals Admiral Vernon was shown looking down upon the "defeated" Spanish admiral Don Blas de Lezo who appeared kneeling down, after the news of defeat of the Invincible British Armada reached London all the medals were ordered to be removed from circulation. A contemporary song was composed by a sailor from the Shrewsbury that prematurely celebrated the victory:

VERNON'S GLORY; OR, THE SPANIARDS DEFEAT.
Being an account of the taking of Carthagena by Vice-Admiral Vernon...
"...and the town surrender[ed]
To Admiral Vernon, the scourge of Spain".[76]

Aftermath

When the embarrassing news of the outcome reached London some weeks later, the British government removed these medals and prohibited the news from being disclosed and published.[77] Following the news of the disaster Robert Walpole's government soon collapsed and Spain retained control over its very lucrative colonies, and over a strategic port in the Caribbean that helped secure the defense of the Spanish Main.[78] News of Britain's defeat reached Europe at the end of June, 1741 and had immense repercussions. It caused George II of Great Britain, who had been acting as mediator between Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa supporting Austria over Prussian seizure of Silesia in December of 1740, to withdraw its guarantees of armed support for the Pragmatic Sanction. That encouraged France and Spain, the Bourbon allies, revealed to also be allied with Prussia, to move militarily against a now isolated Austria.[79] A greater and wider war, the War of the Austrian Succession, was now taking shape.

The staggering losses suffered by the British compromised all the subsequent actions by Vernon and Wentworth in the Caribbean and most ended in acrimonious failure[80] despite reinforcements of 1,000 troops from Jamaica and 3,000 regular infantry from England.[81] Vernon and Wentworth were both recalled to England in September of 1742, with Chaloner Ogle taking command of a very sickly fleet that had less than half its sailors fit for duty.[82] By the time the Caribbean campaign ended in May 1742 ninety percent of the army had died from combat and sickness.[83]

The failure to take Cartagena caused what was left of the naval forces assigned to Vernon to remain in the Caribbean longer. This resulted in the weakened Mediterranean squadron being unable to prevent the Spanish from twice convoying troops totalling 25,000 to Italy in November and December of 1741. It was not until Commodore Richard Lestock, commander of one of Vernon's divisions at Cartagena, returned to Europe with ships from the Caribbean fleet, that Britain reinforced its presence in the Mediterranean.[84]

References

  1. ^ Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol III, Appendix pp.25–27. Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993), p. 60, Browning gives a total overall strength as perhaps 30,000 men.
  2. ^ A remarkable piece of Spanish intelligence on this expedition is found almost a year prior to the arrival of this fleet. The Governor of Spanish Florida learned from English colonists taken prisoner in the recapture of Fort Mose during the siege of St. Augustine that "they have learned of the preparation in England of a considerable expedition against Havanna, consisting of 30 ships of the line, and of a landing party of 10,000 men. I am sending this dispatch to give you this information as possibly of great importance to the service of the King." Letter from Governor Montiano, July 6, 1740, Collections of the Georgia Historical Society. (Vol. VII. – Part I) Published by Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Ga.
  3. ^ Beatson, Hart, Duncan, Lord Mahon, Hume & other historians give a total of 12,000 land forces beginning the expedition. Including 3,000 American colonial marines—Gooch's Regiment of Marines, four battalions. Virginia Governor Gooch commander. Later the 43rd Regiment of Foot. Considered the origin of the United States Marine Corps.
  4. ^ Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol III, Appendix pp.25–26 gives Royal Navy crews total of 15,398 – he does not give crew totals for the 135 transports and supply ships which likely numbered 3000 to 5000, Reed Browning's estimate of 30,000 for the total force would leave a balance of some 2600 for transport crews. Hume, David. The History of England, London, 1825, pp.108–113, "The conjoined squadrons consisted of nine and twenty ships of the line...The number of seamen amounted to 15,000: that of land forces...12,000." Arthur Michael Samuel, The Mancroft Essays,1923, pp.236–242, 'Admiral Vernon, "...now reinforced by twenty-five ships of the line and 9,000 soldiers...".
  5. ^ Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol III, Appendix pp.25–26. List of ships of the line under Vernon is 8 of 80 guns, 5 of 70 guns, 14 of 60 guns, 2 of 50 guns and 22 frigates. Hart, as well, gives 22. p.l40.
  6. ^ Smollett, Tobias George and Hume, David. History of England, Vol. II, London, 1848, p.391, Ogle's fleet being sent to Vernon for the expedition against Cartagena is stated to be "one hundred and seventy sail" when added to Vernon's squadron something very close to 186 ships is achieved and includes the supply ships and transports not mentioned elsewhere. The author, Smollett, of course, was with this expedition as surgeon and therefore an eyewitness.
  7. ^ Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.146. Reed Browning estimates 3,000, p.60.
  8. ^ Fernández Duro, however, gives 1,100 regulars. Cesáreo Fernández Duro, Armada española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y de León, Est. tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, Madrid, 1902, Vol. VI, p. 247
  9. ^ This number is possibly underestimated in sources as the 6 Spanish ships of the line must have had crews similar to those British ships of that size had, i.e. 400–600 each, so that the total of 4,000 for garrison of Cartagena was mostly sailors.
  10. ^ Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.146. Hart gives 300 militia.
  11. ^ Geggus David. Medical History, 1979, 23:38-58., Yellow Fever in the 1790s: The British Army in occupied Saint Domingue, p. 50, "... of the 12,000 British and Americans who laid siege to Cartagena in 1741 seventy percent perished, including seventy-seven per cent of the British." therefore: 8,400 from Yellow Fever alone, over 6,000 British soldiers at the siege. Similarly, Harbon, John D..Trafalgar and the Spanish navy, Conway Maritime Press, 2004, ISBN 08700216953, p.108, "...yellow fever ... killed perhaps 9,000 sailors and troops in the British forces.". Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.151. "So great were the losses to the troops through disease and battle that not over one third of the land troops appear to have returned with the fleet to Jamaica." This would indicate considerably more than 8,000 dead. Similarly, Coxe, William. Memoirs of the kings of Spain of the House of Bourbon, Volume 3, London 1815, p.24 states that Havana is attacked by "...3,000 men, the discouraged and exhausted remnant of the troops which had been repulsed at Cartagena ...". Coxe also gives the overall loss of the expedition during the campaign as 20,000 lives lost. Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol I. p. 111, Beatson gives the army's strength as down to 3,000 in Jamaica.
  12. ^ Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1, p.123,"...so reduced was this force in two years by disaster and disease, that not a tenth part returned to England...'thus ended in shame, disappointment, and loss, the most important, most expensive, and best concerted expedition that Great Britain was ever engaged in'...". So too, Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.76. "Of the regiments that had sailed from St. Helen's under Cathcart in all the pride and confidence of strength, nine in every ten had perished.".
  13. ^ a b Cesáreo Fernández Duro, Armada española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y de León, Est. tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, Madrid, 1902, Vol. VI, p. 250
  14. ^ Don Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta un Ejemplo Del Espíritu Militar Español This article states 1500 British guns captured, lost or damaged, but this number needs to be taken with a grain of salt, however, the article does contain references.
  15. ^ "...departing May 20th, five ships were burnt due to a lack of crew. Another sank on it's way to Jamaica" [1] El desastre del ataque británico a Cartagena de Indias. Revista de Historia Naval.
  16. ^ The Hispanic American Historical Review, Volume 2, Baltimore, 1922, p. 64, gives: "... 18 of the largest... repairing considerable damage.".
  17. ^ Don Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta un Ejemplo Del Espíritu Militar Español
  18. ^ All Spanish losses from: Don Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta un Ejemplo Del Espíritu Militar Español
  19. ^ Coxe, William. Memoirs of the kings of Spain of the House of Bourbon, Volume 3, London 1815. Coxe also gives the overall loss of the expedition during the campaign as 20,000 lives lost, Reed Browning considers this "not implausible." p. 382
  20. ^ Tindal, N. The continuation of Mr. Rapin's History of England, Vol. VII, London, MDCCLIX, p. 511, "The epidemical sickness by this time had carried off not only the greatest part of the troops, but had made havock amongst the crews that had sailed from England...". Also, Harbron, John D..Trafalgar and the Spanish navy, Conway Maritime Press, 1998, ISBN 0870216953, p. 108, "... yellow fever... killed perhaps 9,000 sailors and troops in the British forces".
  21. ^ The defeat is considered by some historians (See Victoria, Pablo. El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra: de cómo Blas de Lezo, tuerto, manco y cojo, venció en Cartagena de Indias a la otra "Armada Invencible", Áltera, 2005, ISBN 84-89779-68-6, p. 11.) to be comparable to that suffered by the Spanish Armada at the hands of the British Navy. At Cartagena the British casualties are ultimately estimated at over 18,000 troops and 50 ships while the Spanish Armada lost about 10,000 troops and 63 ships. And, as with the Spanish Armada, the lost opportunity did no actual damage to the strategic position, the importance of the defeat is more in a loss of an opportunity for immense gain rather than actual damage to Britain's strategic position. Strategically, Spain and disease prevented British invasion and conquest of their American possessions. The British fleet and bad weather prevented the Armada's invasion and conquest of England.
  22. ^ Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p.21, The Asiento allowed Britain to supply 5,000 slaves a year to Caribbean colonies and one yearly trading ship to Porto Bello.
  23. ^ "War of Jenkins Ear". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/jenkins_ear.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  24. ^ Le Fevre, Peter; Harding, Richard, ed..Precursors of Nelson: British admirals of the eighteenth century, Stackpole Books, 2000, ISBN 081172901X pp.163-164
  25. ^ Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p.124, "Destroy their settlements in America, and Spain falls. My opinion is that a strong squadron be sent to the West Indies, to distress the enemy in their very vitals, to destroy their mines, to seize their treasures, to take their ships, to ruin their settlements. Let them be attacked in as many places as possible at the same time...If once Porto-Bello and Cartagena were taken, then all will be lost to them." Vernon at the Admiralty meeting.
  26. ^ Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Appendix p. 17, 3 70 guns, 2 60 guns, 1 50 guns.
  27. ^ Ruiz, Bruce. "Admiral Vernon and portobello". Panama History.com. http://www.bruce.ruiz.net/PanamaHistory/admiral_vernon.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  28. ^ Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, p. 22, "They (the British) had over 120 ships of the line in their fleet, while France had but 50 and Spain 40. In Mitch Williamson's article, British Naval Supremacy: Some Factors Newly Considered 2002, he states the Royal Navy's War Establishment Manpower at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748 is 44,861 – so Vernon's total of over 15,000 sailors represents at least 25% of Royal Navy manpower.
  29. ^ Rodger, N.A.M., The Command of the Ocean, ISBN 0393060500 New York, 2005, page 237. "... his (Vernon's) ruthless exploitation of the army, his unscrupulous skill at claiming credit for every success and blaming the soldiers for every failure, eventually destroyed any possibility of harmonious combined operations."
  30. ^ Pares, Richard. War and Trade in the West Indies, Routledge, 1963, ISBN 0714619434, p.85.
  31. ^ Rodger, N. A. M.. The Command of the Ocean, 2004, pa. 237, "The government was unable to resist the public clamor for a major expedition to the Caribbean."
  32. ^ Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, pp.143-144.
  33. ^ Rodger, N. A. M..The Command of the Ocean, 2004, p. 236
  34. ^ Pares, Richard. War and Trade in the West Indies, Routledge, 1963, ISBN 0714619434, pp. 66, 68, 92–93. Also, Le Fevre, Peter; Harding, Richard, ed..Precursors of Nelson: British admirals of the eighteenth century, Stackpole Books, 2000, ISBN 081172901X p. 168, "...by taking and holding some of her (Spain's) important colonies."
  35. ^ Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p. 140, "In that way there would have been secured for Britain the whole trade with the coast of Chili (sic) and Peru, and with the western coast of Mexico, thus crippling the power of Spain..."
  36. ^ Rodger, N. A. M.. The Command of the Ocean, 2004, p. 233.
  37. ^ Dull, Jonathan R.. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1815, University of Nebraska Press, 2009, ISBN 9780803219304, p. 46. Also, Ibañez, I.R.. Mobilizing Resources for war: the intelligence systems during the War of Jenkin's Ear, University College London, 2008, p.180.
  38. ^ Smollett, Tobias George and Hume, David. History of England, Vol. II, London, 1848, p.392
  39. ^ The Cambridge Naval and Military Series, The navy in the war of 1739–48, vol 1, p.101, "... regiments miscalled marines ..." not the marine contingents of warships therefore.
  40. ^ Brooke, James (October 8, 1995). "Cartagena, Caribbean Jewel". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  41. ^ Robert Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Appendix pp.25–26. List of ships of the line under Vernon is 8 of 80 guns, 5 of 70 guns, 14 of 60 guns, 2 of 50 guns and 22 frigates and other warships. Additionally, the list gives a detail breakdown of the 12,000 troops: the 15th and 24th regiments of foot, 2,000; 6,000 marines; 2,500 American and some others. Ship of the Line crews total 11,000+, no numbers are given for the frigate and transport crews on that page. On the following page a list of frigates and their crews is given for the Cartagena expedition that corresponds to that of Vernon's fleet list with a few minor variations. The total for Royal Navy sailors then (at least as paper strength, full complements) is: 15,398. This total does not include the 12,000 soldiers, nor any civilian seamen, nor the crews for the over 120 transports.
  42. ^ Hume, David. The History of England, London, 1825, p.109,"...with an equal number of frigates, fire ships, and bomb ketches...". When compared with a nearly contemporary amphibious expedition described in James Pritchard, Anatomy of a Naval Disaster: The 1746 French Expedition to North America. Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995 ISBN 978-0-7735-1325-9 as: 10 Ships of the Line, 45 troop transports and some 10,000 sailors and soldiers it can be seen that Vernon's fleet has nearly three times as many Ships of the Line and nearly three times the soldiers and sailors and that by analogy Vernon's fleet would have around three times the total ships or more, i.e. at least 165 ships.
  43. ^ Hart, Francis Russel . Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.139. Similarly, Clark, Walter. The State Records of North Carolina, Vol.XI, pp. 42–45, Clark states in a note that the number of companies which actually sailed was 36 containing 3,600 men. Also, Marshall, P.J. and Low, A.M..The Oxford history of the British Empire: The eighteenth century, Oxford, 2001, ISBN 0199246777, p.119 gives 3,600 and p.302. gives 3,500
  44. ^ Letter to Torres, 13 Jan. 1741, AGS, Estado Francia, Legajo 4408: “Al mismo tiempo y por propio conducto, ha participado que por carta de 28 de noviembre escrita desde Londres se daba por sujeto apreciable que se habían mudado las instrucciones de M. Carthcart que la escuadra del almirante Ogle que conduce las tropas de su cargo en lugar de ir a la Habana ira a Cartagena, por hallarse los ingleses bien informados de que no hemos enviado más de 2000 hombres y 600 reclutas”.
  45. ^ Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.146, Hart gives 4,000. Reed Browning estimates 3,000, p.60.
  46. ^ Lemaitre, Eduardo (1998). Breve Historia de Cartagena. Medellin: Editorial Colina. 
  47. ^ Harbron, John D..Trafalgar and the Spanish navy, Conway Maritime Press, 1998, ISBN 0870216953, p.108, 112.
  48. ^ Rodger N.A.M.. The Command of the Ocean, 2004, p. 238. Also: Harbon, John D..Trafalgar and the Spanish navy, Conway Maritime Press, 2004, ISBN 08700216953, pp.108 - 113.
  49. ^ Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.62, "The fleet was very sickly...". Hill, J.R., ed.. The Oxford illustrated history of the Royal Navy, Oxford, ISBN 0198605277, 1995, p.140, Baugh, D.A. Health, Victuals, Discipline and Morale, "The worst naval typhus epidemic of the century occurred between August 1739 and October 1740 ... 25,000 fell ill and were sent to hospital ships, sick quarters and hospitals; of these, 2750 died and 1976 deserted." This represents over 50% of the seamen employed by the Navy at that time, see p.135. Similarly, Rodger, The Command of the Ocean, p. 308, "A serious epidemic (of typhus) over the hard winers of 1739–41 wrecked the Navy's mobilization, with men falling sick faster than they could be recruited." Typhus was generally a cold weather disease.
  50. ^ a b c Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p. 61-62.
  51. ^ Ibañez, I.R.. Mobilizing Resources for war: the intelligence systems during the War of Jenkin's Ear, University College London, 2008, p.180, "... Vernon told Cathcart that it was crucial to avoid the sickly season, which lasted from May to November."
  52. ^ Rodger, N.A.M.. The Command of the Ocean, ISBN 0393060500 New York, 2005, page 160-61; Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p. 68. Hill, J.R., ed.. The Oxford illustrated history of the Royal Navy, Oxford, ISBN 0198605277, 1995, p.140, Baugh, D.A.. Health, Victuals, Discipline and Morale, p. 141.
  53. ^ Don Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta un Ejemplo Del Espíritu Militar Español gives details of conflict between Lezo and Eslava.
  54. ^ Dull, Jonathan R.. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1815, University of Nebraska Press, 2009, ISBN 9780803219304, p.46, "... more than a third of them were needed to fill out the crews...". Also, Le Fevre, Peter; Harding, Richard, ed..Precursors of Nelson: British admirals of the eighteenth century, Stackpole Books, 2000, ISBN 081172901X p. 169.
  55. ^ Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII, p.153.'
  56. ^ Smollett, Tobias and Roscoe,Thomas. The miscellaneous works of Tobias Smollett, London, 1844. Contains Smollett's long version of Expedition to Carthagena, p. 606.
  57. ^ Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the navy: a memoir and vindication"", London, 1907, p.154. Also, The London Gazette, Number 8015, "... the two Regiments of Harrison and Wentworth, and the six Regiments Marines landed without opposition."
  58. ^ Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol. II, pp.93-94. Also, Clowes, W. Laird. The Royal Navy, a history from the earliest times to present, London, 1898, Vol. III, p.71-72. Smollett: Micellaneous works, p.606.
  59. ^ Smollett: Micellaneous works, p.606.
  60. ^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.66
  61. ^ Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p. 66-68. Beatson, Robert., Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol. I, p.101.
  62. ^ Ibañez, I.R.. Mobilizing Resources for war: the intelligence systems during the War of Jenkin's Ear, University College London, 2008, p.179.
  63. ^ Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p. 67. Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804, Vol.I, p. 102.
  64. ^ released from duty as ships crew
  65. ^ The father of James Wolfe of Quebec fame
  66. ^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.70
  67. ^ Knowles, Charles.An Account of the expedition to Carthagena, London, 1743, p.45. Similarly, The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 11, 1741, p. 331. Also, Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p. 72.
  68. ^ The Mancroft Essays,1923, pp.236–242, 'Admiral Vernon, "...now reinforced by twenty-five ships of the line and 9,000 soldiers...of the six thousand that had been landed more than half were either dead or dying. Lord Mahon. History of England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles, Vol. III, Boston, 1853, p.64, "... he found, in less than two days, his effective force (emphasis added) dwindle from 6600 to 3200 men." Similarly, Tindal, The continuation of Mr. Rapin's History of England V.7, p.509, "... they were reduced from 6,645 to 3,200, of whom 1200 were Americans, and unfit for service."
  69. ^ Smollett, Tobias George and Hume, David. History of England, Vol. II, London, 1848, p.394, "...each proved more eager fort he disgrace of his rival than zealous for the honour of the nation.". Also, Rodger, N. A. M.. The Command of the Ocean, ISBN 0393060500 New York, 2005, page 237. "... his ruthless exploitation of the army, his unscrupulous skill at claiming credit for every success and blaming the soldiers for every failure, eventually destroyed any possibility of harmonious combined operations."
  70. ^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, pp. 73–74. Similarly, Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922, p.151. "So great were the losses to the troops through disease and battle that not over one third of the land troops appear to have returned with the fleet to Jamaica."
  71. ^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, pp. 72–79, gives a detailed account of the rapid and devastating withering away of the land forces to disease.
  72. ^ "..departing May 20th, five ships were burnt due to a lack of crew. Another sank on it's way to Jamaica". Don Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta un Ejemplo Del Espíritu Militar Español[2] gives a total of 50 ships lost.
  73. ^ Pares, Richard. War and Trade in the West Indies, Routledge, 1963 ISBN 0714619434, pp.92–93
  74. ^ Conway, Stephens. War, state, and society in mid-eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland, Oxford, 2006, ISBN 0199253757, p.230
  75. ^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.76. Also, Marshall, P.J. and Low, A.M..The Oxford history of the British Empire: The eighteenth century, Oxford, 2001, ISBN 0199246777, p. 278, gives loss as "four-fifths"
  76. ^ Navy Records Society (Great Britain) Publications of the Navy Records Society Vol. XXXIII, Naval Songs and Ballards,1907, pp.181–184, a must read, absolutely hilarious in context, it also has specific details about the fleets that correspond to other sources such as "Thirty ships of the line...", "Don Blass with six ships...".
  77. ^ Victoria, Pablo (2005). El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra : de cómo Blas de Lezo, tuerto, manco y cojo, venció en Cartagena de Indias a la otra "Armada Invencible". Barcelona: Áltera. ISBN 84-89779-68-6. 
  78. ^ For a good account of the mood of London and Vernon's enmity to Walpole see: Ford, Dougla. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication London, MCMVII, pp.141–145,"The debate in Parliament was one the most exciting and memorable ever heard...the climax lay in Walpole's alleged misconduct in relation to the war, and that, in turn, practically meant his failure to give proper support to Admiral Vernon....But Walpole's victory was of the sort that presages ultimate defeat."; p. 147, "In January, 1742, Pulteney again marshalled his forces, and moved for the appointment of a committee to examine papers capable of affording evidence as to the conduct of the war with Spain." Walpole would resign the first week of February, 1742.
  79. ^ Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, pp.58–66, " 'now America must be fought for in Europe', Britain's Lord Hardwicke. If Britain could not prevail where it could muster all its maritime advantages, what fatality might await it when it engaged-as now it must-under severe disadvantages?"
  80. ^ Dull, Jonathan R.. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1815, University of Nebraska Press, 2009, ISBN 9780803219304, p. 47
  81. ^ Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.75, Royal Scots, the 6th, the 27th foot.
  82. ^ Hill, J.R., ed.. The Oxford illustrated history of the Royal Navy, Oxford, ISBN 0198605277, 1995, p.140, Baugh, D.A. Health, Victuals, Discipline and Morale p.141, "In early 1742, only 3,000 of 6,600 on Sir Chanon Ogle's large West India squadron were fit for duty."
  83. ^ Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1, p.123,"...so reduced was this force in two years by disaster and disease, that not a tenth part returned to England...'thus ended in shame, disappointment, and loss, the most important, most expensive, and best concerted expedition that Great Britain was ever engaged in'...". So too, Fortesque, J.W.. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II, p.76. "Of the regiments that had sailed from St. Helen's under Cathcart in all the pride and confidence of strength, nine in every ten had perished.". Coxe, William. Memoirs of the kings of Spain of the House of Bourbon, Volume 3, London 1815. Coxe also gives the overall loss of the expedition during the campaign as 20,000 lives lost, Reed Browning considers this "not implausible." p. 382.
  84. ^ Browning, Reed The War of the Austrian Succession, New York, 1993 ISBN 0-312-12561-5, pp.80–81.

Bibliography

  • Beatson, Robert. Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, Vol. I; Vol. III, Appendix, London, 1804.
  • Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession St. Martin's Press, New York, (1993): ISBN 0-312-12561-5.
  • Douglas Ford, Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII.
  • Dull, Jonathan R.. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650–1815, University of Nebraska Press, 2009, ISBN 9780803219304.
  • Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1.
  • Eslava, Sebastián de. Diario de todo lo ocurrido en la expugnacion de los fuertes de Bocachica, y sitio de la ciudad de Cartagena de las Indias Madrid, 1741. [3]
  • Fernández Duro, Cesáreo. Armada española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y de León, Vol. VI. Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, Madrid, 1902.
  • Ford, Douglas. Admiral Vernon and the Navy: A Memoir and Vindication, London, MCMVII.
  • Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London, 1899, Vol. II.
  • The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, London, Vol. XI, 1741.
  • Hart, Francis Russel. Admirals of the Caribbean, Boston, 1922.
  • Hill, J.R., ed.. The Oxford illustrated history of the Royal Navy, Oxford, ISBN 0198605277, 1995.
  • Lemaitre, Eduardo (1998). Breve Historia de Cartagena. Medellin: Editorial Colina. 
  • Marley, David. Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present, ABC-CLIO (1998). ISBN 0-874-36837-5.
  • Rodger, N. A. M.. The Command of the Ocean, ISBN 0393060500 New York, 2005.
  • Quintero Saravia, Gonzalo M. (2002) Don Blas de Lezo: defensor de Cartagena de Indias Editorial Planeta Colombiana, Bogotá, Colombia, ISBN 958-42-0326-6, in Spanish.
  • Smollet, Tobias, Authentic papers related to the expedition against Carthagena, by Jorge Orlando Melo in Reportaje de la historia de Colombia, Bogotá: Planeta, 1989.
  • Smollett, Tobias and Roscoe,Thomas. The miscellaneous works of Tobias Smollett, London, 1844. Contains Smollett's long version of Expedition to Carthagena, pp. 603 – 611.
  • Victoria, Pablo (2005) El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra : de cómo Blas de Lezo, tuerto, manco y cojo, venció en Cartagena de Indias a la otra "Armada Invencible" Áltera, Barcelona, Spain, ISBN 84-89779-68-6.

Additional reading

  • Smollet, Tobias. The Adventures of Roderick Random. 1748. Historical novel based on Smollett's own experiences at Cartagena.
  • Hall, Charles W. Cartagena or the Lost Brigade. 1898. Historical novel of the North American contigent at Cartagena.
  • Michener, James A.. Caribbean, a Novel, Random House, 2005, ISBN 0812974921. Historical novel containing the John Pembroke account of Cartagena.

External links


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