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Operations against Cartagena

Battle of Cartagena de Indias

4th March 1740/41 - May 1741
Fought at : Cartagena - Murcia
Part of : War of Jenkins' Ear (1739/10/22 - 1748/10/18)
Previous action : Capture of the Princesa 8.4.1740
Next action : Operations against Santiago 7.1741 - 10.1741

 

Spain

 
Unknown Division
Ship NameCommanderNotes
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
San Felipe (80) 1726-1741
Spanish 80 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
 
 

Great Britain

 
Unknown Division
Ship NameCommanderNotes
 
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Suffolk (70) 1739-1765
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas DaversBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1704-1746
Prince Frederick (70) 1740-1784
British 70 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
Aubrey BeauclerkBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1727-1733
Deptford (60) 1732-1767
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Savage MostynBritish
Naval Sailor
Jersey (60) 1736-1783
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Peter LawrenceBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1727-1755
Lion (60) 1738-1765
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Charles CotterelBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1747
Princess Louisa (60) 1732-1743
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
1738 Renamed "Princess Louisa"
Thomas WaterhouseBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1702-1741
,
Miles StapletonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1717-1747
Dunkirk (60) 1734-1749
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas CooperBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1746
Weymouth (60) 1736-1745
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Charles KnowlesBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1718-1770
Rippon (60) 1735-1751
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Thomas JolleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1706-1740
Tilbury (60) 1733-1742
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Robert LongBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1701-1748
Windsor (60) 1729-1742
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
George BerkeleyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1709-1745
Worcester (60) 1735-1765
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Perry MayneBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1757
Defiance (60) 1715-1749
British 60 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
John TrevorBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1695-1728
Lichfield (50) 1730-1744
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
William ClelandBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1710-1743
Falmouth (50) 1729-1747
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
William DouglasBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1727
Success (20) 1712-1743
British 20 Gun
6th Rate Ship
Daniel HoreBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1722-1762
Anglesea (40) 1725-1742
British 40 Gun
5th Rate Ship
Henry ReddishBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1705-1741
Princess Royal (18) 1739-1750
British 18 Gun
Unrated Storeship
Nathaniel TuckerBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1710-1743
Astrea (20) 1739-1743
British 20 Gun
Unrated Armed Storeship
Francis PercivalBritish
Naval Sailor
Experiment (20) 1740-1763
British 20 Gun
6th Rate Ship
James RentoneBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1718-1748
Squirrel (20) 1727-1749
British 20 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
Peter WarrenBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1716-1748
Scarborough (18) 1739-1744
British 18 Gun
Unrated Hospital Ship
William CarterBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1719-1741
Aetna (8) 1739-1746
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Benjamin FenwickBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1706-1742
Alderney (8) 1735-1742
British 8 Gun
Unrated Bomb Vessel
Henry WardBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1727-1757
Cruizer (8) 1732-1745
British 8 Gun
Unrated Sloop
Francis WakemanBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1728-1741
Cumberland (8) 1739-1742
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Thomas BrodrickBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1724-1759
Eleanor (8) 1739-1742
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Henry DennisBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1727-1757
Firebrand (8) 1739-1743
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Isaac BarnardBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1707-1742
Phaeton (8) 1739-1743
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Silvester KennedyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1697-1742
Strombolo (8) 1739-1744
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Charles HolmesBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1734-1761
Vesuvius (8) 1739-1742
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Edward GuyBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1720-1742
Vulcan (8) 1739-1743
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
Thomas PellattBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1712-1742
Terrible (6) 1730-1749
British 6 Gun
Unrated Bomb Vessel
Edward AllenBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1693-1743
 

Notes on Action


Description of the ActionE-WIKI

The battle of Cartagena pitted a British invasion force of at least 26,400, 12,000 of which were infantry, in numerous ships and veesels 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, fighting from six frigates and massive fortifications —nder 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. 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.



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. 50 ships were sunk or abandoned for lack of crew.



Sources


IDNameAuthorType
E-WIKIWikipediaVarious, Web Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by David Pleguezuelo on Friday 11th of October 2019 20:50

Some mistakes: You forgot the attack to San Felipe Fortress. It was a disaster because Lezo had digged deeper the pit around it and the british stairs then did not reach. The spanish then even counterattack and kill many british soldiers running away. Wiki spanish version is very accurate. By the way, the King, in London, tried to delete this defeat of history records as Queen Elizabeth tried with the disaster of Drake Norris Armada in 1589 or the fantasy that english navy defeated the Spanish Armada. That's is the problem with many historians that repeat lies, hide disasters or change history. Anyway, great website. Thanks.


Posted by paul muskett on Saturday 28th of September 2019 13:29

Harding's 'Amphibious Warfare' provides a defence of Wentworth and the army at Cartagena. Vernon was skilled at self-promotion.


Posted by Steve Ragnall on Wednesday 26th of September 2018 12:25

Wentworth was not "goaded by Vernon into an ill-considered, badly planned assault on Cartagena which Vernon refused to support with the fleet". Wentworth must take almost all the blame for the failure to take Cartagena. He was indecisive, dilatory and poor tactician. If he'd followed Vernon's suggestions he might well have taken the town. See Naval Records Society Vol: XCIX "The Vernon Papers".


Posted by Steve Ragnall on Wednesday 26th of September 2018 12:21

Wentworth was not "goaded by Vernon into an ill-considered, badly planned assault on Cartagena which Vernon refused to support with the fleet". Wentworth must take almost all the blame for the failure to take Cartagena. He was indecisive, dilatory and poor tactician. If he'd followed Vernon's suggestions he might well have taken the town. See Naval Records Society Vol: XCIX "The Vernon Papers".


Posted by Brian on Monday 11th of January 2016 20:48

The Gentleman's Magazine 1741 Taking of Cartagena (in part)
Admiral Vernon's line of battle - The Princess Amelia to lead with the starboard, and the Suffolk with the Larboard Tacks on Board. But if I shall find it necessary, from the different motions of the enemy, to change our order of battle, to have those who are now appointed to lead on the Starboard Tack, to continue to lead the fleet on the Larboard Tack on our going about, or those now to lead on the Larboard Tack, on the contrary to do the same, as the Exigency of the Service may require; I will with my Signal for Tacking, hoist a Dutch Jack on the flag staff, under the Union Flag, the usual signal for Tacking, when they are to continue to lead the fleets on their respective tacks accordingly.
When the Admiral would speak with the Captain of any ship undermentioned, he will raise a pendent, as against the ships name, and of the colour set above it; if a Lieutenant, the same signal with a west of the ensign; and if a boat without an officer, the west will be hoisted but half staff up. When I would have any of the Fireships, Bombs, or Tenders, taken in tow at the same time, I make the signal for the Ship that is to tow, and for the Ship that is to be tow'd I will hoist up a Flag Blue and White, at the Flag Staff of the main-top mast head. When the Ships are in Line of Battle, the Frigates, Fireships, Bombs, and Tenders, are to keep on the opposite side of the enemy, when I make the Signal in Line of Battle, for the Van of the Fleet to tack, first in order to gain the Windward of the enemy, then each ship is to tack in the head most ships weak, for losing no ground. For all other signals they are referred to the General Printed Sailing and Fighting Instructions.

Extract of a letter from Cartagena - A gentleman from onboard the Shrewsbury writes us thus. - As our ship was one of the ordered to the attack of the Forts St. ?ago and St. Philip, our cable was unluckily shot before we could bring her up, and we drove towards the mouth of the Harbour, into the midst of the enemy, having a battery of 15 guns, the forts of Bocca Chica and St. Joseph, with four men of war, all firing at us together, with about a 160 guns, which we could return with only 26. In this situation we engaged seven hours, when, to our no small joy, night coming on, put a stop to the enemies firing, and we weighed our anchor, and went about our business. We had 20 men killed and 40 wounded, 16 shot between wind and water, 250 shot in our hull and our masts, yards, and rigging shot to pieces.

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