Battle of Rio Nuevo
|Battle of Rio Nuevo|
|Part of the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi||Governor Edward D'Oyley|
50 Spanish guerrillas
|700 soldiers & militia
|Casualties and losses|
|300 killed or wounded
4 ships captured
The Battle of Rio Nuevo occurred on 25 June 1658 on the island of Jamaica between Spanish forces under Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi and English forces under governor Edward D'Oyley. In the battle lasting over two days the invading Spanish were routed. It is the largest battle to be fought on Jamaica.
In 1655, an English force led by Admiral Sir William Penn, and General Robert Venables seized the island, and successfully held it against two Spanish attempts to retake it. The former Spanish governor of Jamaica, Don Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi, attempted to recapture the island with forces from Cuba in the summer of 1657, but the attack was repulsed by acting governor Colonel Edward D'Oyley.
On 20 May Isasi attempted another invasion with more men recruited from New Spain; the Tercios Mexicano (Mexican Regiment). Isasi also had at his disposal four troop transports and a number of armed ships. In total the invasion force consisted of 31 captains, 31 ensigns, 28 sergeants and 467 soldiers. While this force anchored for two days near the mouth of Rio Nuevo, three English coast guard vessels chanced upon the Spanish but were chased away by gunfire. The English scouts however reported back to Edward D'Oyley who mustered all available militia and soldiers who were fit to fight. The Spanish in the meantime fortified their camp and were joined by around 50 tattered Spanish guerrillas.
On 25 June D'Oyley mustered a total of 700 soldiers and militia and ten ships with which to transport them. The English troops were disembarked near the Rio Nuevo. The English ships then captured the Spanish transports, which sealed off any escape for the invaders. The Spanish, seeing this, attempted to make a stand behind their newly fortified redoubt. The English declined to come to grips and fired on the Spanish position with cannon and firelocks for two days. Their superior firepower had a devastating effect and the surviving Spanish attempted to break out; however most of them were killed or captured. What was left of the invasion force fled into the hills and jungle. They had lost over 300 dead and wounded, mostly killed, and 150 prisoners; as well as eleven flags, six guns and most of their arms and ammunition. English casualties were around sixty men. Most of the wounded on both sides did not survive due to tropical diseases.
The victorious English conveyed the Spanish artillery back to 'The Point' and Fort Cromwell installing it into their defences. Isassi tried to keep the struggle up until he was finally defeated in 1660, finally having to escape Tower isle and flee to Cuba by canoe with his remaining supporters. In order to dissuade further Spanish attempts to retake Jamaica the English under Christopher Myngs launched attacks on Spanish ports such as Santa Marta and Tolu which forced the Spanish onto the defensive.
The Rio Nuevo Battle Site Heritage Park & Museum was opened in August 2009.
- Marley pg. 151
- Black pg. 48-49
- Long, Edward (1774). Volume 1 of The History of Jamaica. T. Lowndes. pp. 274–77.
- V Black, Clinton, The story of Jamaica from prehistory to the present. Collins, London 1965.
- Marley, David. Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present. ABC-Clio, 1998.
- Morales Padrón, Francisco. 1953 2003. Spanish Jamaica. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers
- Anglo-Spanish War
- British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate website - The Anglo-Spanish War 1655-1660
- Opening of the Battle of Rio Nuevo battle site
- Plaque commemorating the site of the Battle of Rio Nuevo