Battle of Rio Nuevo (1658)
|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 over two days on the island of Jamaica between Spanish forces under Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi and English forces under governor Edward D'Oyley. In the battle 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 Spanish attempts to retake it over the next few years. The battle of Rio Nuevo was one of these attempts, the other being Ocho Rios the year before. The Spanish were hoping to take back the island for the Spanish crown. 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 an 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, 3 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 that were fit to fight and were all assembled within a month. The Spanish in the meantime having fortified the area was joined by around 50 tattered Spanish guerrillas.
On 25 June D'Oyley mustered a total of 700 soldiers and militia and a total of ten ships with which to transport them. While they disembarked near the Rio Nuevo the Spanish transports were swiftly captured which as a result sealed off any major escape for the invaders. The Spanish seeing this, attempted to make a stand and repel the English behind their newly fortified redoubt. The English attacked and soon their firepower had a devastating effect. The Spanish were pulverized by cannon and firelocks in a pitched battle lasting two days. Suffering nearly two thirds casualties, the Spanish attempted to break out; however most of those were killed or captured. What was left of the invasion force fled into the hills and jungle. They had lost over 300 casualties of which most were killed, the English had captured 150 prisoners, eleven flags, six guns and most of their arms and ammunition. English losses were around sixty men and most of the wounded on both sides however did not survive the 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. The battle of Rio Nuevo was the last time the Spanish attempted to recapture Jamaica. The island would eventually be ceded to England by Spain in full in 1670 at the Treaty of Madrid.
- Black pg. 119
- Marley pg. 151
- Marley pg. 151
- 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