Siege of Fort St Philip (1756)
|Siege of Fort St. Philip|
|Part of the Seven Years' War|
Attack and capture of Fort St. Philip on the island of Menorca, 29 June 1756, after the naval battle.
|Commanders and leaders|
|William Blakeney|| Duke de Richelieu
Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière
|Casualties and losses|
|400 dead or wounded||800 dead
2,000–3,000 wounded
The Siege of Fort St Philip (commonly known in Britain as the Fall of Minorca or Siege of Minorca) took place in 1756 during the Seven Years' War.
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A French force under the command of the Duke de Richelieu landed on the island and besieged the British garrison at St. Philip's Castle, forcing them to surrender after a lengthy siege. A British relief force under Admiral John Byng sailed with the purpose of saving the island, but after the naval Battle of Minorca, Byng withdrew to Gibraltar, and the resistance of the garrison finally collapsed. Byng was later blamed for the loss of Minorca, and executed by firing squad. One involved in the British navy in this operation was Arthur Phillip, later to be first Governor of New South Wales.
The garrison's resistance had been considered lengthy and honourable enough for them to be allowed to march out carrying their arms and be shipped back home to Britain, a common convention at the time. Blakeney was absolved of any blame for the loss of the island, and was later awarded an Irish peerage in recognition of his defence of Fort St Phillip.
Hyacinthe Gaëtan de Lannion was appointed the first French Governor of Minorca. A British naval squadron led by Sir Edward Hawke sent out to replace Byng, arrived off Minorca shortly after the surrender. As Hawke did not have enough troops on board to land and mount a siege to retake the island he departed, cruising in the waters off Marseilles for three months before sailing home. He was later criticised for failing to mount a blockade of the island, which might have forced it to surrender through starvation.
The French held on to Minorca for the remainder of the war, the only British territory they were to occupy, and at the Treaty of Paris it was returned to Britain in exchange for Guadeloupe. Minorca was captured from the British again in 1781 during the Anglo-Spanish War, after which it was ceded to Spain.
- Pope p.193-94
- Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. Faber and Faber, 2000.
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- Longmate, Norman. Island Fortress: The Defence of Great Britain, 1603-1945. Harper Collins, 1993
- McLynn, Frank. 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World. Pimlico, 2005.
- Pope, Dudley. At 12 Mr Byng was shot". London, 2002 (1962).
- Rodger NAM. Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815. Penguin Books, 2006.
- Simms, Brendan. Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire. Penguin Books, 2008.