Raid on Nassau

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This article is about the 1703 raid. For the 1776 American raid, see Battle of Nassau. For confused, see Battle of Nassau (1720). For other actions at Nassau, see Battle of the Bahamas (disambiguation).
Raid on Nassau
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
An old map showing the island of New Providence.
Date October 1703
Location off New Providence, Bahamas
Result Franco-Spanish victory, Nassau is briefly occupied and destroyed.[1][2]
Spain Pro-Bourbon Spain
 Kingdom of France
 Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Spain Blas Moreno de Mondragón
Kingdom of France Claude Le Chesnaye
Kingdom of England Gov. Ellis Lightwood  (POW)
2 Frigates
300~400 men
300 men
Casualties and losses
minor 13 ships taken[2]
100 prisoners[2]
100 civilian casualties[2]
22 guns taken[2]

The Raid on Nassau was a privately raised Franco-Spanish expedition during the War of the Spanish Succession led by Blas Moreno Mondragón and Clause Le Chesnaye. The joint bourbon invaders attacked Nassau, the capital of the English Bahamas at the time and an important base of privateering for English corsairs aiming to end privateering actions in the Cuban and Saint Domingue's Caribbean seas. The town of Nassau was quickly taken[3] and sacked, plundered and burnt down.[2][3][4] The fort of Nassau was dismantled, and the English governor, with all the English soldiers were carried off prisoners.[5] One year later the new English governor Sir Edward Birch landing in Nassau found the island so abandoned that he was forced to ship back home.


The officers from Spain and France, who viewed Nassau as a mutual menace raised a Franco-Spanish expedition of French boucaniers and Spanish soldiers aboard two frigates, one commanded by Blas Moreno Mondragón and the other by Claude Le Chesnaye. They surprised 250 English inhabitants at the capital of New Providence slaughtering more than 100, seizing 22 guns, throwing down all the fortifications and returning to Santiago de Cuba a few days later with 13 prizes and eighty to a hundred prisoners. Among them was the governor Ellis Lightwood.[2][5]


The English inhabitants retired to the woods till the danger was over. Returning they found the island completely ruined and reduced to a desert, they found means to remove themselves to other settlements. England had taken to little concern in the affairs of New Providence, that they did not even know of the catastrophe which had happened. Edward Birch was appointed as new governor, but when he went to Nassau found it entirely abandoned; so he was obliged to return home without having opened his commission.[6] Another enemy raid in 1706 left only twenty-seven families still cringing inside makeshift huts on New Providence Island, and no more than 400 to 500 English residents scattered considerable distress from more descents during the remainder of this conflict, while their scant overseas trade dried up and no new governors or assistance came out from England. Birch saw the inhabitants without "a shift to cover their nakedness" that he did not bother to unroll his commission before taking ship back to England.[4][7] John Graves (who had come to the Bahamas with Thomas Bridges in 1686 and served for at time as colonial secretary) reported in 1706 that the few New Providence survivors "lived scatteringly in little hutts, ready upon any assault to secure themselves in the woods."[4]


  1. ^ Baker p.21
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Marley p.226
  3. ^ a b Albury p.55
  4. ^ a b c Craton/Saunders p.103
  5. ^ a b Marley p.7
  6. ^ Sale/Psalmanazar/Bower p.290
  7. ^ Oldmixon p.21


  • Baker, P. Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Lonely Planet Publishing (2001). ISBN 1-86450-199-5
  • Oldmixon, John. The history of the Isle of Providence Providence Press (1966).
  • Albury, Paul. The Story of the BahamasSt Martins Pr publishing (1976) ISBN 0-312-76265-8
  • Marley, F. David. Historic cities of the Americas: an illustrated encyclopedia ABC-CLIO(2005) ISBN 1-57607-027-1
  • Michael Craton & Gail Saunders. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People: Volume 1: From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery. University of Georgia Press (1999). ISBN 0-8203-2122-2
  • Marley, F. David.. Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present ABC-CLIO (1998). ISBN 0-87436-837-5
  • Sale, George, Psalmanazar, George, Bower, Archibald. The modern part of A universal history, from the earliest Vol.36. Millar (1747).

Coordinates: 25°03′36″N 77°20′42″W / 25.06°N 77.345°W / 25.06; -77.345