Battle of Cabrita Point

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Battle of Cabrita Point
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Date 21 March 1705
Location Marbella, Spain
Result Grand Alliance victory
Belligerents
England Kingdom of England
Kingdom of Portugal
 Dutch Republic
 Kingdom of France
Spain Bourbon Spain
Commanders and leaders
John Leake Jean-Bernard de Pointis
Strength
35 ships 18 ships
Casualties and losses
Unknown 3 ships captured
2 ships burned
The London Gazette, dated 14–17 May 1705 detailing the return of Leake from Gibraltar after the battle.

The Battle of Cabrita Point, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Marbella, was a naval battle that took place while a combined Spanish-French force besieged Gibraltar on 10 March 1705 (21 March 1705 in the New Calendar) during the War of Spanish Succession.

The battle was an allied victory (English, Dutch and Portuguese) which effectively ended the Franco-Spanish siege of Gibraltar.

Prelude[edit]

The allies had conquered Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Habsburg on 1 August 1704. The Spanish besieged the city by land, and in that year, the French had made a first failed attempt to attack from the sea in the Battle of Vélez-Málaga.

In January 1705 Philip V of Spain was determined to reconquer the city and had Villadarias replaced by Marshal de Tessé. Tessé realized that Gibraltar would never be retaken as long as the allies could access it from the sea. He therefore ordered Admiral Pointis to block up the place by sea with his squadron of 18 ships of the line. Some of these ships were Spanish under José Fernández de Santillán. Gibraltar was not a permanent harbour yet for the English fleet, which was anchored in Lisbon at the time.

The commander of Gibraltar, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, despatched an express to Lisbon, desiring Sir John Leake to sail to his assistance. This admiral set sail immediately with five sail of the line and a body of troops. By the morning of 10 March, he had a squadron of 23 English, eight Portuguese ships of various sizes, and four Dutch.

The battle[edit]

Cabrita Point in 1843

Leake's fleet reached the Strait late on the 9th, and laid to during the night. The next morning at about 5.30 a.m., they were within two miles of Cabrita Point, when they saw five sail coming out of the Bay. These proved to be the French ships Magnanime (74), Lys (86), Ardent (66), Arrogant (60), and Marquis (66). They made at first towards the Barbary Coast, but, finding that they were being gained upon, stood for the Spanish coast.[1] At 9 a.m. Sir Thomas Dilkes in HMS Revenge, with the Newcastle, Antelope and a Dutch man-of-war, got within gunshot of the Arrogant, which, after a slight resistance, struck. Before 1 p.m. the Ardent and Marquis were taken by two Dutch ships, and the Magnanime and Lys were driven ashore to the westward of Marbella. The Magnanime, in which De Pointis had his flag, ran ashore with so much force that all her masts went by the board. She and the Lys were subsequently burnt by the French.[2]

The remaining part of the French squadron had been blown from their anchorage by a gale, and taken shelter in the bay of Málaga; but now they slipped their cables and made the best of their way to Toulon.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

The Marshal de Tessé, in consequence of this disaster, turned the siege of Gibraltar into a blockade, and withdrew the greater part of his forces on 31 March. Pointis retired from active service after this battle.

Leake had not only scored a remarkable victory, but had saved Gibraltar from attack and had enhanced his already high reputation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blackmore, David S.T. Warfare on the Mediterranean in the Age of Sail a History, 1571-1866. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., Publishers. p. 113. ISBN 0786457848. 
  2. ^ a b Clowes, William Laird (1898). The Royal Navy: A History From the Earliest Times to the Present. Vol. II. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company. pp. 406–407. Retrieved 11 February 2013.