1762 - Spanish expedition against Colonia del Sacramento

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War >> Campaigns >> 1762 - Spanish expedition against Colonia del Sacramento

The campaign lasted from August to October 1762


In mid April 1762, Spain, who had already concluded an alliance with France on August 15 1761 and declared war to Great Britain on January 18 1762, opened hostilities against Portugal, a British ally.

In the following months, a Spanish army attempted an invasion of Portugal. This European conflict soon spread to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies.

Indeed, in January 1762, the frigate Victoria (26), under the command of Carlos José de Sarriá, had sailed from Cadiz for Buenos Aires in South America. The frigate was bringing orders for Pedro Antonio de Cevallos y Cortés, the Spanish military governor of La Plata (a semi-autonomous region of the vice-royalty of Peru encompassing today Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia), to take possession of the Portuguese Colonia del Sacramento (in present-day Uruguay) which was located on the opposite bank of the Rio de la Plata facing Buenos Aires.


Map of Colonia del Sacramento in 1737
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
A Uncompleted redoubt
B Palace
C Guard house
D Matrix (?)
E Fort Santa Rita
F Chapel and street of Santa Rita
G College
H Frem (?)
I Chapel and Fort of Sao Pedro de Alcantara
L Tenaille
M Planned towers
N Smithy and Hospital
O Ravelin
P Newly designed defensive work
Q Cistern
R Moat
S Barracks
T Powder magazine

Description of Events

In mid August 1762, Cevallos made his preparations for the attack on Colonia del Sacramento.

By September, Cevallos had completed his preparations. The naval force, under command of Carlos José de Sarriá, consisted of:

  • Victoria (26)
  • Santa Cruz, property of the Mendinueta company
  • 3 avisos (including the San Zenón)
  • 12 gunboats
  • 15 transport vessels

...and carried the army under direct command of Cevallos and consisting of:

  • 700 regular infantry
  • 200 dragoons
  • 1,800 militia

On September 3, troops embarked aboard the fleet.

On September 4, the Spanish fleet set sail for Colonia del Sacramento.

On September 7, the Spanish troops started disembarking, 5 km from Colonia del Sacramento.

By September 14, disembarkment was completed but Cevallos was still waiting for his artillery which had been sent from Montevideo.

On September 26, the artillery was finally disembarked.

On September 27, Cevallos received a reinforcement of 1,200 Guarani Indians under father Segismundo Bauer.

On October 1, the Spanish army moved from its landing place towards Colonia del Sacramento.

On October 5, Cevallos lay siege to Colonia del Sacramento, defended by Vicente da Silva da Fonseca. Cevallos established a first parallel about 600 m from the walls and planted a battery of 19 guns.

On land, siege operations were proceeding as planned but a conflict between Cevallos and Sarriá compromised naval operations.

On October 14, 4 Portuguese brigs sailed unopposed from Colonia del Sacramento, evacuating civilians and silver.

On October 17, 3 of the brigs returned unmolested to Colonia del Sacramento with provisions and material for the defence of the place. Sarriá, at the head of 16 vessels (Victoria, Santa Cruz, 3 avisos, 8 gunboats and 3 corsairs) then retired to the cove of Barragán near Buenos Aires, leaving Cevallos alone to capture Colonia del Sacramento. Sarriá then disembarked all the guns of the Santa Cruz and some of those of the Victoria and entrenched himself. He then repeatedly ignored Cevallos orders to return to his post, pretending that he had been sent from Spain to control smuggling.

Under cover of his first batteries, Cevallos established 2 other batteries (10 guns and 8 guns) within 200 m of the walls. Soon the Spanish artillery managed to breach the walls in two places.

During the siege of Colonia del Sacramento, the Portuguese army in Brazil, foreseeing the fall of the place, decided to erect a new fort at Santa Teresa. In early October, engineer Juan Gomez de Mello was dispatched to Santa Teresa and immediately initiated the construction of a fort.

On October 29, Sarriá finally decided to obey Cevallos' orders and he set sail from the cove of Barragán for Colonia del Sacramento.

On October 31, Cevallos sent his Guarani Indians across the ditch in preparation for the final assault. His artillery then opened against the town before he summoned Fonseca a last time. The latter accepted to surrender the town. The same day, Sarriá appeared in front of the place with his naval squadron.

On November 2, the Spaniards took possession of Colonia del Sacramento.

The Spaniards also occupied the Martin Garcia and San Gabriel islands. Portuguese prisoners were sent back to Rio de Janeiro aboard their own vessels while many of the civilians were transported to Cuyo.


O'Hara, Danny, Eighteenth Century Wargaming Resources On-Line

Spanish Wikipedia, Primera expedición de Cevallos a Río Grande

Todo a babor, Guerras entre España y Portugal en la cuenca del Río de la Plata

Wikipedia, First Cevallos expedition