Battle of San Juan (1797)

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Battle of San Juan (1797)
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
San Jeronimo aerial.jpg
The Fortín de San Gerónimo was key to the defense of San Juan.
Date17 April – 2 May 1797
Location
Result Spanish-Puerto Rican victory
Belligerents
 Great Britain Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders

Kingdom of Great Britain Ralph Abercromby

Kingdom of Great Britain Henry Harvey

Spain Ramón de Castro

Spain Francisco Díaz 
Strength
7,000 men
68 warships with 600 guns
7,000 men
376 guns and 12 gunboats
Casualties and losses

37 killed,
70 wounded,
124 captured or missing,
400 surrender[1]

Total: 631

47 killed,
28 wounded,
56 captured or missing,
18 surrender

Total: 149

The Battle of San Juan was a 1797 ill-fated British assault on the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan in Puerto Rico. The attack was carried out facing the historic town of Miramar.

Background[edit]

Spain aligned herself with France by signing the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796. Britain then targeted both country's Caribbean colonies. Admiral Sir Henry Harvey's fleet picked up Sir Ralph Abercromby's army in Barbados. Together, they captured Trinidad from the Spanish, before heading for San Juan.[2][3]

Battle[edit]

On 17 April 1797, Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby fleet of 68 vessels appeared offshore Puerto Rico with a force of 7,000, which included German auxiliaries and French émigrés. Two frigates then blocked San Juan harbor.[3][2]

The governor, Field Marshal Don Ramón de Castro y Gutiérrez, had already mobilized his 4000 militia and 200 Spanish garrison troops, which combined with 300 French privateers, 2000 armed peasantry, and paroled prisoners, brought his troop strength almost equal to the British. He also had 376 cannon, 35 mortars, 4 howitzers and 3 swivel guns amongst the island's defenses.[3][2]

Abercromby landed 3000 men on 18 April and took control of Cangrejos. Castro moved his men to Escambrón and the Spanish First Line of Defense.[3][2]

On 21 April, the British started a 7-day artillery duel with Spanish forts of San Gerónimo and San Antonio, located at the Boquerón Inlet. At the same time, the puertorriqueños put pressure on the British positions, the Spanish recaptured Martín Peña Bridge, while militia Sergeant Francisco Díaz raided behind British lines, bringing back prisoners. Then, on the 29th and 30th, the Spanish crossed the Boquerón Inlet, and forced the British to pull back.[3][2]

Aftermath[edit]

On 1 May, the Spanish learned the British were gone, leaving behind arms, stores and ammunition.[3][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marley, p. 362
  2. ^ a b c d e f Van Middeldyk, R.A. (1903). Brumbaugh, Martin, ed. The History of Puerto Rico: From the Spanish Discovery to the American Occupation. D. Appleton and Company. pp. 139–141. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Forts of Old San Juan. Washington, D.C.: Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior. 2018. pp. 68–71. ISBN 9780912627625.

Additional Reading[edit]

  • Alonso, Mariá M. and Milagros Flores (1997). The Eighteenth Century Caribbean and the British Attack on Puerto Rico in 1797. San Juan: National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas. ISBN 9781881713203
  • Marley, David (1998). Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-87436-837-6

External links[edit]