1704-08-24 – Battle of Málaga

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1704-08-24 – Battle of Málaga


Prelude to the Battle

At the beginning of August 1704, during the campaign on the Southern Coast of Spain, the Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Sir George Rooke had succeeded in the capture of Gibraltar which had been left almost undefended (its garrison counting approx. 80 officers and men).

On 20 August, the Centurion (54), which was scouting to the eastward, reported that she could see a Franco-Spanish fleet to windward. This fleet, under the command of Louis Alexandre de Bourbon Comte de Toulouse (a natural son of Louis XIV), counted 50 sail-of-the-line and 24 galleys. The Comte de Toulouse, who was seconded by the Amiral d’Estrées, wanted to recapture Gibraltar.

When Rooke heard that a Franco-Spanish fleet was approaching, he left half his marines to defend Gibraltar and immediately sailed with the entire Anglo-Dutch fleet to confront the enemy.

At Málaga, 5 Spanish galleys under the Count de Fuencalada joined the Franco-Spanish fleet.

The two fleets manoeuvred for a few days and, on the morning of 24 August, the Allies saw the French in line heading as before, about 15 km ahead of them, and lying to to await the attack.

Description of Events

On 24 August at daybreak, Rooke's fleet steered down upon the Franco-Spanish fleet.

Both fleet were deployed in order of battle. The Franco-Spanish line was formed very strong in the centre, and weaker in the front and rear. This defect they endeavoured to supply by their galleys, which were, most of them, posted in those quarters.

Rooke stood in the centre of his line with 18 ships, Shovell was on the left wing with 9 ships, and Callenburgh on the right wing with 11 ships. Captain Leake with 6 ships remained downwind to prevent the French from outflanking the front line. The 9 smaller ships were left behind the line of battle.

At Shovell's request, the left wing was to turn the French right, to clear the way for the Allied fleet towards Gibraltar and to gain the wind in that direction. He would be supported by Leake’s squadron.

Around 10:30 a.m., with the two fleet almost within musket range, Rooke made the signal and began the battle. The fight was maintained on both sides with great fury for three hours.

Around 11:30 a.m., at the initiative of De Villette-Mursay, the Franco-Spanish set their sails to crowd ahead and weather of the Anglo-Dutch van.

Shovell tried to prevent the success of this manoeuvre but his own manoeuvre led to the opening out of the gap between the van and centre of the Anglo-Dutch fleet.

Seeing this gap, the Franco-Spanish tried to cut off the van. But the project failed, chiefly owing to the heaviness of the fire maintained by Shovell's squadron. A shot hit the Fier (94), causing an explosion, which forced the ship to leave the line. However, the rest of the van, with the exception of the Arrogant (58) followed the Fier.

Shovell afterwards contributed to the relief of the hard-pressed centre by backing astern; and throughout the engagement he greatly distinguished himself both as an able and as a brave officer.

Around 1:30 p.m., the Franco-Spanish van began to give way to the Anglo-Dutch van.

Several of Rooke's ships were forced to go out of the line, some being disabled, but most for want of shot, so that the body of the Franco-Spanish fleet fell very heavy upon the Royal Katherine (96), the St George (96), the Shrewsbury (80) and the Eagle (70).

Two hours before night, the Eagle (70) was towed out of the line also, for want of shot.

Meanwhile, the Allied rearguard, Callenburgh’s Dutch ships were gaining the upper hand. Several French ships had to leave the line because they were suffering damages below the waterline. Then, Vice-Admiral Langeron attacked the Graaf van Albemarle (64), Callenburgh's flagship, with the Soleil Royal (104) in such a way that the Dutch warship immediately fell on her flank. With difficulty, Callenburgh and a few men managed to escape to a smaller ship, whereupon the Graaf van Albemarle sank. Despite this loss, the Dutch ships held up so bravely that one French ship after another left the line and the French rearguard gave way.

Around 7:00 p.m., the Franco-Spanish fleet bore away, and Rooke’s Fleet drifted soutwards with the tide.


On neither side was any ship taken. The French, however, are believed to have lost the Cheval Marin (42) and two galleys during the action, and the Fier (94), Excellent (60), Fortuné (54), and Mercure (52) in consequence of it.

Most of the masts and yards in the Anglo-Dutch fleet were wounded to an irreparable degree. The fleet lay by all night repairing its defects.

The loss of the Anglo-Dutch fleet in officers and men was exceedingly heavy: 787 men killed (695 British, 92 Dutch) and 1,931 wounded (1,663 British, 268 Dutch). Two British captains fell, Sir Andrew Leake, of the Grafton (70), and John Cowe, of the Ranelagh (80). The Dutch, who fought with the greatest courage, lost Captain Lijnslager and the Graaf van Albemarle (64).

The French and Spaniards lost even more heavily. They had about 1,500 people killed, and 1,548 wounded, and among the superior officers who were killed or mortally wounded were the Bailly de Lorraine, who acted as a chef d'escadre, Counter-Admiral Belleisle-Erard, Captain Relingues, and Francois de Chateaurenault, a son of the famous Admiral and Maréchal de France.

At Malaga the Franco-Spanish fleet, though not defeated, had received sufficient damage to prevent it from then and there making its intended serious attempt to recapture Gibraltar for King Philip; and from that day until the end of the war, the French never again allowed their grand fleet to risk a general engagement.

Order of Battle

Anglo-Dutch Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Admiral Sir George Rooke

Summary: 3,614 guns and 22,543 men

  • Van under the command of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell
    • Yarmouth (70), Captain Jasper Hicks
    • Norfolk (80), Captain John Knapp
    • Berwick (70), Captain Robert Fairfax
    • Prince George (96), Captain Stephen Martin, flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir John Leake
    • Boyne (80), Captain James Lord Dursley
    • Newark (80), Captain Richard Clarke
    • Garland (42), Captain Henry Hobart
    • Firebrand (fireship), Commander Henry Turvill
    • Lenox (70), Captain William Jumper
    • Tilbury (54), Captain George Delavail
    • Swiftsure (64), Captain Robert Wynn
    • Namur (96), Captain Christopher Myngs
    • Barfleur (90), Captain James Stuart, flagship of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell
    • Orford (70), Captain John Norris
    • Assurance (70), Captain Robert Hancock
    • Nottingham (60), Captain Samuel Whitaker
    • Warspite (64), Captain Edmund Loades
    • Roebuck (42), Captain Thomas Kempthorne
    • Vulcan (fireship), Commander John Clifton
    • Griffin (fireship), Commander George Ramsey
    • Princess Anne (hospital ship), Captain Charles Guy
  • Centre under the command of Admiral of the Fleet Admiral Sir George Rooke
    • Burford (70), Captain Kerryl Roffey
    • Monck (58), Captain James Mighels
    • Cambridge (80), Captain Richard Lestock sen.
    • Kent (70), Captain Jonas Hanway, flagship of Rear-Admiral Thomas Dilkes
    • Royal Oak (70), Captain Gerard Elwes
    • Suffolk (70), Captain Robert Kirton
    • Bedford (70), Captain Sir Thomas Hardy
    • Swallow (54), Captain Richard Haddock
    • Tartar (32), Captain John Cooper
    • Lightning (fireship), Commander Archibald Hamilton
    • Shrewsbury (80), Captain Josias Crow
    • Monmouth (64), Captain John Baker
    • Eagle (70), Captain Lord Archibald Hamilton
    • Royal Katherine (96), Captain John Fletcher, flagship of the Admiral of the Fleet Admiral Sir George Rooke
    • St George (96), Captain John Jennings
    • Montagu (60), Captain William Cleveland
    • Nassau (70), Captain Francis Dove
    • Grafton (70), Captain Sir Andrew Leake
    • Panther (54), Captain Hon. Peregrine Bertie
    • Lark (42), Captain Charles Fotherby
    • Newport (24) unidentified frigate, George Paddon
    • Hunter (fireship), Commander Thomas Legg junior
    • Phoenix (fireship), Commander Edmund Hicks
    • Jefferies (hospital ship), Captain Thomas Robinson
    • Hare (bomb 10), Commander unknown
    • Terror (bomb 4), Commander Isaac Cook
    • William & Mary (yacht), John Robinson
    • Ferme (70), Captain Baron Wyld
    • Kingston (60), Captain Edward Acton
    • Centurion (54), Captain John Herne
    • Torbay (80), Captain William Caldwell
    • Ranelagh (80), Captain John Cowe, flagship of Rear-Admiral George Byng
    • Dorsetshire (80), Captain Edward Whitaker
    • Triton Prize (30), Captain Tudor Trevor
    • Essex (70), Captain John Hubbard
    • Somerset (80), Captain John Price
    • Charles Galley (36), Captain Joseph Taylor
    • Vulture (fireship), Commander George Fisher
  • Rear under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Gerard Callenburgh
    • Wapen van Friesland (58), Captain C. Middagteu
    • Wapen van Utrecht ??? (64), Captain Bolck
    • Graaf van Albemarle (64), Captain Visscher, flagship of Lieutenant-Admiral Callenburgh
    • Vlissingen (54), Captain unknown
    • Damiaten (52), Captain unknown
    • Leeuw (64), Captain unknown
    • Banier (64), Captain J. W. Van Ghent
    • Nijmegen (72), Captain H. Lijnslager
    • Katwijk op Zee (72), Captain J. C. Ockersse
    • Unie (92), Captain unknown, flagship of Vice-Admiral Baron J. G. Wassenaer
    • Gelderland (74), Captain P. Schrijver
    • Dordrecht (74), Captain unknown
    • unknown number of small crafts

The following ships were not in the line, being on convoy duties:

  • Hampton Court (70)
  • Tiger (48)
  • Antelope (54)
  • Leopard (54)

Outside the line, the Anglo-Dutch had more frigates and larger ones than their opponents.

Franco-Spanish Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Comte de Toulouse

Summary: 51 ships of the line, 6 frigates, 8 fireships and 12 galleys, for a total of 3,577 guns and 24,277 men.

  • Van under the command of Lieutenant-General de Villete-Mursay
    • Éclatant (68), De Bellefontaine
    • Éole (62), De Mons
    • Oriflamme (60), F. De Châteaurenault
    • Saint-Philippe (90), flagship of Vice-Admiral d'infreville de Saint-Aubin
    • Heureux (70), Colbert de Saint-Marc
    • Rubis (56), De Benneville
    • Arrogant (58), Des Herbiers de l'Eteuduère
    • Marquis (60), De Patoulet
    • Constant (70), De Sainte-Maure
    • Fier (94), flagship of Lieutenant-General de Villete-Mursay
    • Intrépide (84), J. R. Ducasse
    • Excellent (60), De La Roche-Alard
    • Sage (56), De Montbault
    • Écueil (68), Darigny
    • Magnifique (88), flagship or Rear-Admiral de Belleisle-Érard
    • Monarque (90), De Chabert
    • Perle (50), Le Mothure
    • Anunciada (galley)
    • Isabela (galley)
    • Santa Catalina (galley)
    • Magdelena (galley)
    • Maria (galley)
    • Teresa (galley)
    • Santa Rosalea (galley)
    • Monica (galley)
    • Étoile (30) unidentified frigate, Gonson
    • Hercule (20) unidentified frigate, De Rouvré
    • Enflammé (fireship)
    • Dangereux (fireship), Du Guay
    • Turquoise (fireship), De Soutier
  • Centre under the command of the Comte de Toulouse
    • Furieux (58), De La Roche-Courbon-Blenac
    • Vermandois (60), De Béthune
    • Parfait (76), De Château-Moraud
    • Tonnant (90), flagship of Vice-Admiral Comte de Coëtlogon
    • Orgueilleux (90), De Digein du Palais
    • Mercure (52), De Lannéon
    • Sérieux (58), Desnots de Champmeslin
    • Fleuron (56), De Grancey
    • Vainqueur (86), De Bally de Lorraine
    • Foudroyant (104), Des Francs, flagship of Admiral Comte de Toulouse
    • Terrible (100), De Bellugues
    • Entreprenant (58), d'Hautefort
    • Fortuné (54), De Bagneux
    • Henri (64), De Serquigny
    • Magnanime (74), flagship of Rear-Admiral de Pointis
    • Lys (84), De Villars
    • Fendant (58), De La Luzerne
    • Patronne (5, galley)
    • Favorite (5, galley)
    • Duchesse (5, galley)
    • Princesse (5, galley)
    • Couronne (5, galley)
    • Fidèle (5, galley)
    • Andromède (8)
    • Diligence (6)
    • Méduse (28), De La Roque-Madère
    • Rotterdam (supply ship)
    • Portefaix (supply ship)
    • Croissant (fireship), Gabaret
    • Bienvenue (fireship), De La Rochambert
    • Aigle Volant (fireship), De Kervilly
  • Rear under the command of Lieutenant-General Marquis de Langeron
    • Zélande (60), De Serville
    • Saint-Louis (60), De Beaujeu
    • Admirable (92), flagship of Vice-Admiral de Sebeville
    • Couronne (80), De Champigny
    • Cheval Marin (42), De Pontac
    • Diamant (58), De Rogne
    • Gaillard (54), D'Osmond
    • Invincible (68), Du Rouvroy
    • Soleil Royal (104), flagship of Lieutenant-General Marquis de Langeron
    • Sceptre (88), d'Hailly junior
    • Trident (60), De Modène
    • Content (60), De Phelypeaux
    • Maure (50), De Saint-Claire
    • Toulouse (62), Duquesne-Mosnier
    • Triomphant (92), flagship of Rear-Admiral de La Harteloire
    • Saint-Esprit (74), Duquesne-Guiton
    • Ardent (64), d'Aligre
    • Réale (5, galley)
    • Conquérante (5, galley)
    • Gloire (5, galley)
    • Franciscain (unidentified galley)
    • Dorothée (unidentified galley)
    • Santa Clara (galley)
    • Veragua (galley)
    • 1 unidentified galley
    • Oiseau (36), De Figuière
    • Galathée (11)
    • Sibylle (10)
    • Etna (fireship)
    • Violent (fireship)
    • Lion (fireship)

The Franco-Spanish also had a large number of galleys which, properly handled, should have been of considerable use in a conflict where the main elements of fighting force were so evenly balanced. These galleys carried from 500 to 700 men apiece; they probably mounted 4 or 6 heavy guns in the bows, and all of them were fitted for ramming. Yet they seem to have been very little employed.


This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Clowes, Wm. Laird: The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. II, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 398-402
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 6, Vienna 1879, pp. 692-695

Other sources

Arre Caballo – Guerra de Sucesión Española. Campañas en 1.704