1705 – Campaign on the Southern Coast of Spain

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1705 – Campaign on the Southern Coast of Spain

The campaign lasted from January to December 1705


The events of 1704 had persuaded the Allies to make more serious efforts to push the war in Spain. The Duke of Schomberg was removed from the command of the troops in Portugal and replaced by the Earl of Galway, a French Huguenot exile.

For the campaign of 1705, Galway was at the head of a British contingent consisted of about 3,000 men, more specifically:

Furthermore, the Dutch contingent, under General Fagel, counted about 2,000 men; and the Portuguese army, under General de Corsana, fielded 12,000 men.

To avoid friction it was arranged that these three generals should hold command alternately for a week at a time.

The main attack was made on the east coast of Spain.

Map of Spain and Portugal circa 1700 published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain


The siege of Gibraltar continues

On 1 January 1705, seeing that the Fortress of Gibraltar was in a position to take care of itself for some little time to come, and that his ships needed refitting and cleaning, Leake sailed for Lisbon. On his passage thither, he saw nothing of the enemy.

On 9 February, the Newport and the Tartar conveyed supplies of men and ammunition to Gibraltar unhindered.

On 16 February, the Roebuck and Leopard convoyed further supplies of men and ammunition to Gibraltar.

On 18 February, the Tiger convoyed further supplies of men and ammunition to Gibraltar.

On 25 February, de Pointis sailed for the Bay of Gibraltar with part of his squadron (14 men-of-war, 2 fireships) to assist in the prosecution of the siege. News of his arrival was promptly conveyed to Sir John Leake at Lisbon.

Leake had recently been joined by Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Dilkes with 5 third-rates from England. Dilkes had brought out to him his commission as vice-admiral and commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean.

On 17 March, Leake quitted Lisbon with 23 British men-of-war, 4 Dutch men-of-war and 8 Portuguese men-of-war.

On 20 March at noon, Leake’s fleet sighted Cape Spartel and lay by to avoid discovery from the Spanish shore.

Combat of Cabrita Point

On 21 March, Leake’s fleet engaged part of de Pointis’ fleet in the Combat of Cabrita Point and defeated it. After the engagement the Allies drew off from the shore. When the rest of de Pointis’ ships learned of the result of the engagement, they cut their cables and six made for Toulon and two for Cádiz.

On 23 March, Leake’s fleet looked into Malaga Road, where the Swallow (54) and Leopard (54) chased ashore a French merchantman, which was burnt by her crew.

The wind continued westerly for some days, and, the weather being bad, Leake’s fleet was driven as far as Roquetas, where it anchored for 48 hours.

On the night of 30 to 31 March, the Maréchal de Tessé raised the siege of Gibraltar but maintained a blockade of the peninsula.

On 7 April near Cape de Gata, the Expedition (70) and Panther (54) chased ashore a French merchantman of 30 guns, and burnt her. Meanwhile, the Assurance (70) and Bedford (70) took two settees.

On 9 April, at Malaga, Leake’s fleet was joined by the Kent (70), Orford (70) and Eagle (70).

On 11 April, Leake’s fleet finally managed to get back to Gibraltar.

Leake’s fleet then returned to Lisbon.

Expedition against Barcelona

On 17 May 1705, an alliance, known as the “Pact of Genoa” was concluded between Great Britain and pro-Habsburg Catalan nobles on behalf of the Principality of Catalonia. According to the terms of this pact, Great Britain would land troops in Catalonia to fight, in conjunction with the Catalans, in favour of Archduke Charles, the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne.

On 20 June, a squadron arrived at Lisbon from England under the command of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell, who then assumed supreme command of the allied fleet. He was accompanied by Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, a nobleman who had had some naval experience in the Dutch service, but who had never commanded a British man-of-war. Peterborough had been sent with a commission to command both the fleet and the army, and to promote a rising in favour of the Habsburg, or Imperialist party. However, he devoted himself rather to the military than to the naval side of the expedition; and the management of the naval operations was left almost entirely to Sir Clowdisley. The fleet transported about 6,500 men:

After cruising for a short time between Cape Spartel and Cádiz, with a view to preventing the junction of French ships from Brest with others from Toulon, Leake’s fleet returned to Lisbon.

For the planned expedition against Barcelona, the Earl of Galway lent the 1st Royal Dragoons and the Henry Cunningham's Dragoons.

On 2 August, the allied fleet sailed for the Mediterranean, transporting Archduke Charles and about 7,000 troops on board:

The Allied expeditionary forces were under the command of the Earl of Peterborough, who was assisted by the Dutch Shrattenbach and the Imperialist Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt.

The allied fleet called at Gibraltar where Archduke Charles was formally received as the lawful King of Spain, and where 8 bns of the garrison were picked up:

N.B.: Peterborough left two of his own bns (Elliott's Foot and J. Caulfield's Foot) in their place.

On 3 August (more probably 14 August new style), the Allied fleet summoned the city of Alicante to swear allegiance to Archduke Charles. As local authorities refused to do so, the fleet bombarded the city.

The fleet then stopped to water at Altéa Bay, where Archduke Charles was proclaimed King of Spain. The Allies sparked revolt in the Principality of Valencia. The rebels were led by Juan Bautista Basset.

The Allied fleet then sailed for Barcelona. On the way up the Spanish coast a detachment was landed to to support the rebels and capture Dénia. The place soon join the Habsburg cause.

Meanwhile, the pro-Habsburg Catalan nobles, who already controlled Vic, were spreading the rebellion in Catalonia. The Nebot de Riudoms family was doing the same from Tarragona; Antoni Desvalls Marquis of Poal, from Lleida County; and Joan Esteve and Dr. Francesc Carreu, from Seo de Urgel.

On 13 August in Barcelona, the “ Council of the Hundred” (the municipal council) received information from Tortosa stating that a large Allied fleet was sailing towards the city. The council immediately offered his assistance to Viceroy Francisco Antonio Fernández de Velasco y Tovar.

On 16 August, the municipal council of Barcelona agreed to stockpile provisions and supplies to sustain a siege.

On 18 August, the municipal council of Barcelona established the “Novena de Guerra,” a commission charged of the defence of the city and granted it 3,000 Catalan pounds.

On 20 August, the municipal council of Barcelona offered to assemble the municipal militia but Viceroy Velasco considered that he already had enough troops to defend the city, preferring to postpone this measure.

On 21 August, representatives of the municipal council of Barcelona urged Viceroy Velasco to assemble the militia, which would prevent disturbances and could fight fires caused by the bombardment. However, Velasco refused once more.

On 22 August, the allied fleet (180 sail transporting 9,000 foot and 800 horse) arrived off Barcelona. Such of the ships as ventured within range of the batteries were at once fired at.

On 23 August, the Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt, who had been reconnoitring the coast in advance of the expedition, rejoined the fleet, the troops were landed at the mouth of the Besós River and took up a position to the north-east of the town with their left flank resting on the sea. However, the expected uprising against the Bourbons did not take place. The city was defended by 6,000 foot and 1,000 horse. The Castle of Montjuich was garrisoned by veteran Neapolitan troops.

The Allies then undertook the siege of Barcelona. On 13 September, they stormed the Castle of Montjuich, the Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt falling in the assault.

By October, the Catalan rebels controlled most of Catalonia with the exception of Barcelona.

On 4 October, Barcelona agreed to capitulate.

On 9 October, the terms of surrender of Barcelona were formally arranged, and a few days afterwards the place was occupied. The Earl of Peterborough and Archduke Charles remained there; a winter squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir John Leake and Rear-Admiral Baron J. G. van Wassenaer, was left in the Mediterranean; and Sir Clowdisley Shovell, with the bulk of the fleet, returned home.

On 22 October, Archduke Charles entered Barcelona. The capture of the city, and the subsequent reduction of Tarragona by the fleet, had brought practically the whole of Catalonia to the side of Archduke Charles.

After the fall of Barcelona and the capture of Tarragona, all of Catalonia and Valencia (Tortosa, Gerona, Lérida and San Mateu) joined the cause of the Habsburgs.

On 7 November, Archduke Charles, as King Charles III of Spain, swore that he would withhold the Catalan constitution and continue to convene the “Cortes.”

But now further operations were checked by lack of money and supplies. Peterborough, who saw the difficulty of supporting a large force in the field, was for dividing his little army into flying columns, and making good the deficiency of numbers by extreme mobility; but he could not gain acceptance for his views. He wrote piteous letters of his state of destitution, reviling, as his custom was, all his colleagues and subordinates with astonishing freedom.

Very soon the troops in Barcelona became so sickly that Peterborough was compelled to distribute them in the fortresses of Catalonia, leaving further operations to the Catalan guerillas.

On 7 December, Sir Clowdisley Shovell anchored at Spithead.

By the exertions of the Catalan guerillas, the close of the year saw not only Catalonia but Valencia gained over, though on no very certain footing, to the side of the Habsburg.

Leake’s squadron, very badly off for provisions, sailed soon afterwards for Lisbon to refit and fill up supplies. Owing to foul weather and other causes, it occupied no lass than 13 weeks and 3 days on the passage, having been reduced in that time to a biscuit per man a day, and sometimes to half a biscuit, and fro 3 weeks no bread at all. Captain Martin buried 50 men on board the Prince George (96), besides three times that number in a dangerous condition, for they had been sickly the whole voyage, so that, reckoning from the time he sailed with the Prince George, on 19 March 1705, from England, he had buried upwards of 300 men before his return on 27 January 1706.


All the east of Spain, the former Kingdom of Aragon, which was at all times restive under the supremacy of Castile, now pronounced more or less openly for the Imperialist party. The fall of Barcelona had given a severe shock to the Bourbon king.


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. 406-408
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 458-463
  • Quincy, Charles Sevin: Histoire militaire du règne de Louis-le-Grand, roi de France, vol 4, Paris, 1726, pp. 452-454
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 607

Other sources

Arre Caballo – Guerra de Sucesión Española. Campañas de 1.705

Pointis: “Lettre écrite par Mr. de Pointis de Marbella le 22. Mars 1705. à un de ses amis” in Journal Historique sur les matieres du temps, vol. 2, pp. 311-314