Battle of Cape Passaro
|11th August 1718|
|San Juan Bautista||60||Francisco Guerrero|
|San Carlos||60||Prince Chalay|
|San Luis||60||Baltasar de Guevara|
|Santa Rosa||60||Antonio Gonzalez|
|The Main Body|
|San Felipe||80||Pedro Despoix||Fleet Flagship|
|Principe de Asturias||70||Squadron Flagship Captured|
|Ships not in the Line|
|Águila de Nantes||20||Lucas Masnata|
|The White Squadron, Charles Cornwall|
|Canterbury||60||Sir George Walton|
|Shrewsbury||80||John Balchen||Squadron Flagship|
|The Red Squadron|
|Barfleur||90||George Michael Saunders||Squadron Flagship|
|The Blue Squadron|
|Royal Oak||70||Thomas Kempthorne|
|Dorsetshire||80||John Furzer||Squadron Flagship|
|Charles Galley||40||Philip Vanbrugh|
|Ships not in the Line|
|Looe||42||Timothy Splaine||Hospital Ship|
|Basilisk||4||John Hubbard||Bomb vessel|
|Blast||4||James Luck||Bomb vessel|
|Notes on Action|
|Description of the action from George Byng's journal|
Note that anglisiced Spanish names have been replaced with the Spanish version i.e. St Charles by San Carlos
Early in the morning, on the thirtieth of July, as we were standing in for Messina, we saw two scouts of the Spanish fleet in the Faro, very near us; and, at the same time, a felucca, coming off from the Calabrian shore, assured us they saw from the hills the Spanish fleet lying by. Upon which the Admiral stood through the Fam after the scouts, judging they would lead us to their fleet; which they did; for, before noon, we had a fair sight of all their ships as they were drawing into line-of-battle.
On our approach, they went from us large, but in their order of battle, their fleet consisting of six and twenty men-of-war, great and small, two fireships, four bomb vessels, seven galleys, and several ships with stores and provisions.
The Admiral ordered the Kent, Superbe, Grafton, and Orford, being the best sailers in the fleet, to make what sail they could to come up with the Spaniards; and that the ships which could get headmost, and nearest to them, should carry the lights usually worn by the Admiral, that he might not lose sight of them in the night; while he made what sail he could, with the rest of the fleet, to keep up with them. It being little wind, the Spanish galleys towed their heaviest sailers all night.
The thirty-first, in the morning, as soon as it was day, they finding us pretty near up with their fleet, the galleys and smaller ships, with the fireships, bomb vessels, and storeships, separated from the admiral and bigger ships, and stood in for the shore: after whom the Admiral sent Captain Walton, in the Canterbury, with the Argyll and six ships more. As those ships were coming up with them, one of the Spaniards ' fired a broadside at the Argyll. The Admiral, seeing those ships engaged with the Spanish, which were making towards the shore, sent orders to Captain Walton to rendezvous, after the action, at Syracusa (where the Viceroy for the King of Sicily was, with a garrison). The like orders he despatched to the flags, and to as many ships as were within his reach, that place being defended against the Spaniards, and being the most proper port on that coast for the fleet to gather together again.
We held on our chase after the Spanish admiral, with three of his rear-admirals, and the biggest ships, which stayed by their flags till we came near them. The captains of the Kent, Superbe, Grafton, and Orford, having orders to make what sail they could to place themselves by the four headmost ships, were the first that came up with them. The Spaniards began, by firing their stern-chasers at them: but they, having orders not to fire unless the Spanish ships repeated their firing, made no return at first. But, the Spaniards firing again, the Orford attacked the Santa Rosa, which, some time after, she took. The San Carlos struck next without much opposition, and the Kent took possession of her. The Grafton attacked the Principe de Asturias, formerly called the Cumberland, in which was Rear-Admiral Chacon: but, the Bredah and Captain coming up, she left that ship for them to take, which they soon did; and stretched ahead after another sixty-gun ship, which was on her starboard while she was engaging the Principe de Asturias, and kept firing her stern-chase into the Grafton.
About one o'clock, the Kent and Superbe engaged the Spanish admiral, which, with two ships more, fired on them, and made a running fight until about three; when the Kent, bearing down upon her, and under her stern, gave her a broadside and went away to leeward of her. Then the Superbe, put for it, and laid the Spanish Admiral on board, falling on her weather quarter: "but the Spanish admiral shifting her helm and avoiding her, the Superbe ranged up under her lee quarter; on which she struck to her. At the same time, the Barfleur being within shot of the said Spanish admiral astern, inclining on her weather quarter, one of their rear-admirals," and another sixty-gun ship, which were to windward of the Barfleur, bore down and gave her their broadsides, and then clap'd upon a wind, standing in for the land. The Admiral, in the Barfleur, stood after them till it was almost night. But, it being little wind, and they galing from her out of reach, he left pursuing them, and stood away to the fleet again; which he joined two hours after night. The Essex took the Juno; the Montagu and Rupert took the Volante. Vice-Admiral Cornwall followed the Grafton to support her; but, it being very little wind and the night coming on, the Spaniard galed away from the Grafton.
Rear-Admiral Delavall, with the Royal Oak, chased two ships that went away more leewardly than the rest, (one of them said to be Rear-Admiral Cammock) but we, not having seen them since, know not the success. The ship which suffered most, with us, was the Grafton, the captain of which, though he had not the fortune to take any particular ship, yet was engaged with several, behaved himself very much like an officer and a seaman, and bid fair for stopping the way of those four ships that I pursued; who escaped, not through his fault, but failure of wind; and his own and rigging were much shattered.
Just now is returned one of the eight ships which the Admiral sent with Captain Walton to pursue those of Spain that went in with the shore, with a letter from that Captain, dated the fifth instant, giving an account that he, with the said ships, had taken one Spanish rear-admiral of sixty guns, one man-of-war of four and fifty, one of forty, which gave the Argyll the first broadside, one of four and twenty, one ship laden with arms, and one bomb-vessel; and had burnt one man-of-war of four and fifty guns, two of forty each, one of thirty, one fireship, one bomb-vessel, and one settee. At the writing of this letter, Captain Walton was making into Syracusa. The ship which brought this letter saw Rear-Admiial Delavall last night; who had taken the Santa Isabel, a ship of sixty guns, with which he was standing in likewise for Syracusa; to which place we are now going; and hope to get in there this night.
When the Admiral has joined the ships absent from the fleet, and which we judge are now in Syracusa with their prizes, he designs to send Vice-Admiral Cornwall, in the Argyll with seven or eight ships more, to carry the ships taken to Port Mahon, to be secured there till his Majesty's pleasure lie known. He will also put ashore, in Sicily, the Spanish admirals and commanding officers, with as many of the common prisoners as will not be necessary to help navigate the ships taken.
|Description of the action by Marques de Beretti-Landi|
On August 9th, in the morning, the English fleet was discovered off the tower of Faro. Towards night it lay by, off Cape della Metelle, opposite the tower in question. The Spanish fleet was at the time in the Strait, but was without the detachment commanded by Rear-Admiral Don Balthazar de Guevara, and some ships and frigates which had been sent to other places. As the intention of the English Admiral in thus approaching was unknown, the Spanish Admiral determined to quit the Strait, and to collect his forces off Cape Spartivento, taking with him his vessels laden with stores, his object being the better to prepare against the designs of the English, seeing that an officer who had been sent by Sir George Byng to the Marques de Lede had not returned. This officer had had orders to suggest to the Marques a suspension of hostilities for two months; but the Marques had replied that he could do nothing without directions from his Court. And although it was believed that a courier had been despatched with the suggestion to Madrid, the Spaniards were unwilling to risk a surprise from the English fleet, and a resort to such tactics as might be prompted by perfidy.
On the morning of the 10th, the English fleet advanced further into the Faro, and was saluted by all the Spanish ships and vessels lying there. It is to be here noted that although Admiral Byng had convoyed to Reggio some transports having on board troops of the Archduke, the officer who had been sent to the Marques de Lede declared that this was not for hostile purposes, but merely to secure from any insults the transports which were under his protection.
The Spanish fleet sent out two light frigates to reconnoitre the English fleet; and although these perceived that the English, whose designs were not understood, made all possible sail to close with the Spaniards, whose Admiral was ignorant whether the English came as friends or as enemies, yet the Spaniards, who were two leagues from the strangers, decided to withdraw towards Cape Passaro under easy sail, in order that there might be no pretence that they anticipated hostilities. Soon afterwards a calm supervened, and thus the ships of both fleets fell among one another; whereupon the Spanish Admiral, witnessing the danger, caused his ships of the line to be towed away from the English with a view to collecting them in one body. Vet he did not permit the galleys to commit any unfriendly act, such as they might have committed with advantage while it remained calm. When the Marques de Mari was near the land and was separated from his consorts in the rear and from the frigates and transports of his division, the weather changed, so that he strove in vain to regain the main body of the Spanish fleet. But the English, with dissimulation, held on their way, trimming their sails so as to secure the wind, and to cut off the Marquis de Man's division. When they had at length succeeded in this, they attacked him with six ships, forcing him to separate from the rest of the fleet and to retire towards the shore. As long as it was possible, the Marques defended himself against seven ships of the line, and, when he was no longer able to resist, he saved his people by running his vessels aground. Some of them were burnt under his own direction: others were taken by the enemy.
The rest of the English fleet, consisting of seventeen sail of the line, fell upon the Real San Felipe, Principe de Asturias, San Fernando, San Carlos, Santa Isabela, and San Pedro, and the frigates Santa Rosa, Perla, Juno, and Volante, which continued to make for Cape Passaro; and as, owing to their inferiority of force, they drew off in line, the English attacked their rearmost ship with four or five vessels, and cut her off. They did the same in succession with other ships, which, in spite of the fact that they made all the sail they could, were unable to avoid being captured. Thus, every Spanish vessel being separately fought by five, six, or seven of the enemy, the English finally subdued the Real San Felipe, Principe de Asturias, San Carlos, Santa Isabela, Santa Rosa, Volante, and Juno, though each offered a bloody and determined resistance.
While the Real San Felipe was engaged with the English, Rear-Admiral Don Balthazar de Guevara returned from Malta with two ships of the line, and, heading for the Real San Felipe, passed the English ships which were then alongside her, firing upon each. He then attacked such of Admiral Byng's vessels as followed the Real San Felipe. These, being very much damaged, drew off in the night, and, after the action, remained fifty leagues at sea for three or four days, not only to repair the Spanish ships which they had captured, and which were most severely mauled, but also to make good their own damages. Admiral Byng, therefore, could not enter Syracuse until August 16th or 17th, and then only with much difficulty.
After giving some account of the services of individual ships and captains, the account continues
Such is the story of the action off Abola, or the Gulf of I'Ariga, in the Malta Channel, between the Spanish and English fleets. The English ships, thanks to ill faith and superior strength, were able to beat the Spanish vessels singly, one by one : but it may be conceived, judging from the defence made by the latter, that, had they acted in unison, the battle might have ended more advantageously for them.
Immediately after the action, a captain of the English fleet, on behalf of Admiral Byng, arrived to make a complimentary excuse to the Marques de Lede, and to assure him that the Spaniards had been the aggressors, and that the battle ought not to be considered to constitute a rupture, seeing that the English did not take it as doing so. But it was replied that Spain, on the contrary, must hold it to constitute a formal rupture; and that the Spaniards would do the English all possible damage and ill, by ordering the commencement of reprisals. In pursuance of this, several Spanish vessels, and Don Guevara's division, have already seized certain English ships.
|Dispatch from Turin Aug 24||BG|
The 22nd Instant at Night a Courier arrived with Advice, that the British Fleet commanded by Sir George BYNG had attacked the Spanish in Sight of Syracusa, and after a Fight of 8 Hours had defeated it, having sunk nine Spanish Ships, burnt two, and taken four, and that 13 were fled. Yesterday in the morning another courier arrived with the same Advices from Count MASSEI, adding, that of those 13 Ships 12 had retired to Cape Passaro, where as they were refitting to put to Sea again, the British Fleet had surprised them and blocked them up; and that the Admiral had sent them Word, that they must either surrender in 2 Hours or he would burn them; the other Ship was retired towards Malta. Yesterday Morning an English officer arrived here, being sent by the Admiral, with an Account that those 12 ships had yielded at Discretion. Te Deum is to be sung here tis day in the Church of St. John for this Victory, with a triple Discharge of the Artillery.
|Dispatch Naples, August 15, OWS||BG|
Captain BYNG, the Admiral’s eldest Son, is this Day gone Express for England with the News of the entire Defeat of the Spanish Fleet, which has been received here with the greatest Acclamations of Joy. The Spaniards still attack Messina by Land, but very faintly; and German Troops are going over to reinforce the Garrison
|Hampton-Court, Aug. 31.||BG|
This morning arrived here Captain BYNG, with Letters from the Admiral his Father, containing the following Advices
|From on board the BARFLEUR off Syracusa, Aug 6||BG|
Early in the Morning on the 30th July, as we were standing in for Messina, we saw 2 Scouts of the Spanish Fleet in the Faro very near us; and at the same Time a felucca coming off from the Calabrian Shore, assured us they saw from the Hills the Spanish Fleet lying by. Upon which, the Admiral stood through the Faro after the Scouts, judging they would lead us to their Fleet; which they did, for before Noon we had a fair Sight of all their Ships, as they were drawing into Line of Battle. On our Approach they went from us large, but in their Order of Battle; their Fleet consisting of 26 Men of War, great and small, two Fire-ships, four Bomb Vessels, seven Gallies and several Ships with Stores and Provisions. The Admiral ordered the KENT, SUPERBE, GRAFTON, and ORFORD, being the best Sailers in the Fleet, to make what Sail they could to come up with the Spaniards; and that the Ship which could get headmost and nearest to them, should carry the Lights usually worn by her Admiral, that he might not lose Sight of them in the Night; and he made what Sail he could with the rest of the Fleet to keep up with them. It being little Wind, the Spanish Gallies towed their heaviest Sailers all Night.
The 31st in the Morning, as soon as it was Day, they finding us pretty near up with their Fleet, the Gallies and smaller Ships, separated from the Admiral and bigger ships, and stood in for the Shore; after whom the Admiral sent Captain WALTON in the CANTERBURY, with the ARGYLE and six Ships more: As those Ships were coming up with them, one of the Spaniards fired a Broadside at the ARGYLE. The Admiral seeing these Ships engaged with the Spanish which were making towards the Shore, sent Orders to captain WALTON to rendezvous, after the Action, at Syracusa (where the Viceroy for the King of Sicily was with a Garrison:) The like Orders he dispatched to the Flags, and to as many Ships as were within his Reach; that Place being defended against the Spaniards, and being the most proper Port on that Coast for the Fleet to gather together again.
We held on our Chace after the Spanish Admiral, with three of his Rear Admirals, and the biggest Ships, which staid by their Flags till we came near them. The Captains of the KENT, SUPERBE, GRAFTON, and ORFORD, having Orders to make what sail they could, to place themselves by the four headmost Ships, were the first that came up with them. The Spaniards began by firing their Stern-Chace at them; but they having Orders not to fire, unless the Spanish Ships repeated their Firing, made no Return at first; but the Spaniards firing again, the ORFORD attacked the SANTA ROSA, which some Time after she took. The ST. CHARLES struck next, without much Opposition, and the KENT took Possession of her. The GRAFTON attacked the PRINCE OF ASTURIAS, formerly called the CUMBERLAND, in which was Rear Admiral CHACON; but the BREDA and CAPTAIN coming up, she left that Ship for them to take, which they soon did, and stretched a-head after another 60 Gun Ship, which was on her Starboard Bow while she was engaging the PRINCE OF ASTURIAS, and kept firing her Stern-Chace into the GRAFTON. About One a Clock, the KENT and SUPERBE engaged the Spanish Admiral, which with two Ships more fired on them, and made a running Fight till about Three; when the KENT bearing down upon her, and under her Stern, gave her a Broadside and went away to leeward of her: Then the SUPERBE put for it, and laid the Spanish Admiral on board, falling on her Weather Quarter; but the Spanish Admiral shifting her Helm, and avoiding her, the SUPERBE ranged up under her Lee Quarter, on which she struck to her. At the same Time the BARFLEUR being within Shot of the said Spanish Admiral a-stern inclining on her Weather Quarter, one of the Rear Admirals, and another 60 Gun Ship, which were to Windward of the BARFLEUR, bore down and gave her their Broadsides, and clapt upon a Wind, standing in for the Land. The Admiral in the BARFLEUR stood after them till it was almost Night; but it being little Wind, and they galing from him out of Reach, he left pursuing them, and stood away to the Fleet again, which he joined two Hours after Night. The ESSEX took the JUNO, and the MOUNTAGUE and RUPERT took the VOLANTE. Vice-Admiral CORNWALL followed the GRAFTON to support her, but it being very little Wind, and the Night coming on, the Spaniards galed away from the GRAFTON. Rear Admiral DELAVAL with the ROYAL OAK chaced two Ships that went away more Leewardly that the rest (one of them said to be Rear-Admiral CAMMOCK;) but we not having seen them since, know not the Success. he Ship that suffered most with us was the GRAFTON, the Captain of which, though he had not the Fortune to take any particular Ship, yet was engaged with several, behaved himself very much like an Officer and a Seaman, and bid fair for stopping the Way of those four Ships that he pursued, who got away not through his Fault but Failure of Wind, and his own Sails and Rigging much shattered.
When the Admiral appeared off the Point of Faro on the 29th of July, the Governour of Melazzo sent off a Vessel with a Letter acquainting him, that 700 Horse which blocked up that Place, part went away that Morning for Messina, and that he believed the rest would follow the next Day; and that at the Sight of the British Fleet, the Country which had taken the Spaniards Part, appeared ready to return to their Duty.
|From on Board the BARFLEUR at Sea, Aug, 7. & 8||BG|
Just now in returned one of the eight Ships which the Admiral sent with Captain WALTON to pursue those of Spain that went in with the Shore, with a letter from the Captain dated the 5th Instant, giving an Account, that he with the said Ships had taken a Spanish Rear Admiral of 60 Guns, a Man of War of 54, 1 of 40 which gave the ARGYLE the first Broadside, 1 of 24, a Ship laden with Arms, a Bomb-Vessel; and had burnt a Man of War of 54 Guns, 2 of 40 each, 3 of 30, 1 Fireship, 1 Bomb-Vessel, 1 Sattee. At the writing of this Letter Captain WALTON was making into Syracusa. The Ship which brought this Letter saw Rear-Admiral DELAVAL last Night, who had taken the ISABELLA, a Ship of 60 Guns, with which he was standing in likewise fro Syracusa, to which Place we are now going, and hope to get in there this Night. When the Fleet, and which we judge are now in Syracusa with their Prizes, he designs to sean Vice-Admiral CORNWALL in the ARGYLE, with 7 or 8 Ships more, to carry the Ships taken to Port _________________ Pleasure be known. He will also put ashore in Sicily the Spanish Admirals and Commanding Officers, with as many of the common Prisoners as will not be necessary to help navigate the Ships taken.
A List of the Spanish Ships which were in Engagement off Cape Passaro.
|Leghorn, August 26.||BG|
On the 22d Instant arrived here the PRESTON, a British Man of War, Captain JOHNSON Commander, from Constantinople, with the Ambassadour. Mr. Wortley and his Lady; and sailed the next Day for Toulon; to perform a Quarantine there of a much less Number of Days than are usually required here. This Ship came through the Turkish and Venetian Fleets near Cape Matapan, which had engaged a few Days before; in which Engagement the Fleet of the Republick had the better, though they were very much shattered in their Rigging and Sails. This Morning the Duke of Dover came hither from Rome.
|Vienna, Aug. 31.||BG|
On the 22nd Instant the Marquess de ST. THOMAS, first Minister of the Court of Turin, arrived here. On the 23rd at Night a Courier who had been dispatched to Naples, with Advice of the Conclusion of the Peace with the Turks, returned hither with the Welcome News that on the Approach of the British Fleet that of Spain retired from before Messina.
On the 26th Baron TALMAN arrived here from Passarowitz, with the exchanged Ratification of the Treaty with the Turks. The same Day arrived Count ESTERHASI, Adjutant-General, from Naples, with Letters from the Viceroy of that Kingdom dated the 18th Instant, relating, that Sir George BYNG with the British Fleet had intirely defeated that of Spain: Which News was received here with the greatest Joy. On the 29th Instant their Imperial Majesties arrived here from the Favorita.
|From on board the BARFLEUR at Reggio, Aug 16.||BG|
On the 8th Instant Sir George BYNG went to Syracusa, the Place appointed for the Rendezvous, where he was joined by the rest of the Fleet. He there repaired the little Damage some of our Ships had suffered, and put those which were taken from the Spaniards in a Condition to proceed to Port Mahon. The Admiral having Intelligence that some Ships were seen to the Southward of the Island of Sicily, he made a Detachment from his Fleet to look after them; they are to range round the Island by Palermo, and to rejoin the Fleet off Messina or Reggio. The 12th we sailed from Syracusa, having left Vice Admiral CORNWALL there, with 10 Ships to convoy the Ships taken. Yesterday we came off of this Place. The Spaniards have still Batteries of Cannon and Mortars playing against the Citadel of Messina; but as 1000 Men of the Emperour’s Troops are lately put into the Place, it is believed that they, with the Piemontese who are in the Garrison, will be able to maintain it till they can be further relieved. There are 3000 Imperialists lying about this Place, and the Viceroy of Naples sends 4000 more which are expected in a Day or Two; and then Measures will be taken for Dislodging the Spaniards from Messina, for which Purpose Sir George BYNG has been conferring with general WERZEL who is now in this Town. Since our last; we have been able to make a more exact List of the Spanish Ships taken, burnt, and escaped which is as follows.
|BG||The London Gazette||Official||Book|