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Battle of Vigo Bay

Page history last edited by Cy 15 years, 4 months ago

The Battle of Vigo Bay


23rd October 1702




Rooke steered for Vigo, dispatching ahead a couple of light ships which, on the night of October 9th, returned with confirmation of the news brought by Captain Hardy, and with further intelligence to the effect that the enemy lay in Hedondela Harbour. Early on the following morning, a vessel from Sir Clowdisley Shovell's squadron also came into the fleet, reporting that Sir Clowdisley was off Cape Finisterre and had orders to join the Commander-in-Chief. On the afternoon of October 11th, in hazy weather, Rooke entered the Bay and anchored off Vigo.

M. de Chateaurenault was not unprepared. Across the narrow mouth of Redondela Harbour he had drawn a boom of masts, yards, chains, cables and casks, of great strength. He had strongly anchored it; and, near each end of it, he had moored one of his largest men-of-war, the Bourbon at one end, and the Esperance at the other. Within the boom he had moored five other large men-of-war, with their broadsides bearing upon the entrance. Covering the southern shore end of the boom were a stone fort of ten guns and a heavy improvised battery or platform mounted with more guns. Covering the northern shore end was a battery of twenty guns. The remaining French ships and the Spanish galleons, lay much farther up; and, so long as the boom remained intact, they were well out of gunshot of the Allies. Indeed, the whole position was very strong.

Upon anchoring, Rooke again called a council of war, at which it was decided that, seeing that the whole fleet could not be advantageously employed in such narrow waters, a detachment only should be sent in, unless necessity should arise for the services of the whole force; and that in the meantime the troops should be landed to co-operate on the south side.



The Anglo-Dutch Fleet
The English Division of Vice-Admiral of the Red Thomas Hopsonn
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Mary 62 Edward Hopsonn  
Grafton 70 Thomas Harlow  
Torbay 80 Andrew Leake Flagship
Kent 70 John Jennings  
Monmouth 66 John Baker  
Phoenix 8   Fireship
Vulture 8 Thomas lang Fireship
The Dutch Division of Vice-Admiral Philips van der Goes
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Dordrecht 72 Barend van der Pott  
Zeven Provincien 90 Starrenburgh Flagship
Veluwe 64    
The English Division of Rear-Admiral Stafford Fairburn
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Berwick 70 Richard Edwards  
Essex 70 John Hubbard  
Swiftsure 70 Robert Wynn  
Terrible 8 Edward Rumsey Fireship
Griffin 8 William Scaley Fireship
The English Division of Admiral George Rooke
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Ranelagh 80 Richard Fitzpatrick  
Somerset 80 Thomas Dilkes  
Bedford 70 Henry Haughton  
Hawk 8 Bennet Allen Fireship
Hunter 8 Sir Charles Rich Fireship
The Dutch Division of Rear-Admiral J.G van Wassenaar
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Slot Muyden   Schrijver  
Unie 90   Flagship
Reygersbergen   Lijnslager  
The English Division of Rear-Admiral of the Blue John Graydon
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Cambridge 80 Richard Lestock  
Northumberland 70 James Greenaway  
Orford 70 John Norris  
Pembroke 60 Thomas Hardy  
Lightning 8 Thomas Mitchell Fireship
The Dutch Division of Vice-Admiral Pieterson
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Gouda 64 Somelsiljik  
Alkmaar 74    
Catwyck   Boekman  
Ships engaging the Franco-Spanish forts
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Association 90    
Barfleur 90    
The Franco-Spanish Fleet
French Squadron of Vice-Admiral Louis Francois de Rousselet, Comte de Chateaurenault
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Forte 76   Flagship
Solide 56    
Prudent 60    
Oriflamme 64    
Dauphine 44    
Assure 60    
Prompt 70 de Beaujeu  
Ferme 66 Baffie  
Assurance 70 Aligre  
Esperance 70    
Bourbon 68 de Montbeau  
Superbe 70    
Modere 54 Autie  
Sirene 64    
Triton 42 Gouy  
Volontaire 46    
Entreprenant 24    
Merodes 8 Guarde Marine  
Favori 14 Delesealles Fireship
Spanish Squadron of Amiral Chacon
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
Jesus Maria y Jose 70   Flagship
Bufona 56    
Capitana de Assogos 56 Fernando Chacon  
Spanish Galleons
Ship's Name Guns Commander Notes
  Santo Christo de Mariacaia 40 Vicenti Alvares  
Santo Christo de Buen Vaije 36 Francisco Blanco  
Santa Cruz 36 Allonzo Ipparere  
Nostredam de Mercy 30 Cosmo Antonio Montag  
Santa Domingo 30 Michael Gamitee  
Trinidad   Ignatio Asconobritio  
Neustra Senora de Mercedes 12 Francisco Baragand  
San Juan de Babtista   Antonio Gomes de Auresia Patache
Philippo Quinto 8    
Jalashe del General   Juan Dungo  
Sacra Familia 12 Frebusia Bernardo de Vera  
Santa Cruz 30 Allonzo Lopes  
Santa Susanna 26 Martin Moguera  
Nuestra Senora de las Animas 44    
Nuestra Senora de las Angustias 24    
Nuestra Senora de las Dolores 31    
San Diego 12    


Description of the action, taken from Clowes The Royal Navy Vol II

It was also determined at the council that, in order to encourage the men, all the flag-officers should accompany the attack, shifting, if requisite, their flags for the purpose; but it would appear that circumstances afterwards arose to render it desirable for Lieutenant-Admiral van Almonde to remain off Vigo. Rooke spent most of the night of October 11th in passing from ship to ship giving orders, and inspiriting his officers and men; and he certainly did all that lay in his power by such means to ensure the success of the operations on the following day.

Early in the morning of the 12th, the Duke of Ormonde, with two or three thousand men, was landed on the south side of the Bay, and, advancing to the eastward, ultimately took the land works at the south end of the boom. In the meantime, Sir George Rooke ordered the vessels which had been selected to make the attack, to weigh. They did so, forming line in the order given in the table; but when the van had approached within gunshot of the batteries, it fell calm, and they were obliged to re-anchor. Presently, however, a brisk breeze sprang up, whereupon the Torbay, which lay nearest to the enemy, immediately cut her cable, and, making all sail, bore up for the boom, under a heavy fire from the foe. The boom gave way at the first shock, and, passing within it, Vice-Admiral Hopsonn anchored between the Bourbon and the Esperance, and resolutely engaged both of them. The other ships of his division, and the ships of the division of Vice-Admiral van der Goes, had weighed when Hopsonn cut. They came in line abreast upon the remnants of the boom, which, because it was less rigid than at first, and because the briskness of the breeze had temporarily died away, brought them up, and obliged them to laboriously hack their passage through it. But, when the breeze freshened once more, the Zeven Provincien found her way to the opening which the Torbay had made, and laid herself on board the Bourbon, which she soon forced to strike.

Vice-Admiral Hopsonn, who for some time had had a formidable opponent on each side of him, and had been practically alone, was somewhat relieved by the capture of the Bourbon; but he was still in a perilous situation, for he was attacked by a vessel which the French had improvised as a fireship, and he soon found his rigging in flames. It chanced that this vessel was laden with snuff; and when at length she blew up, although she did a great amount of damage, her cargo was thrown in such dense masses over the Torbay that it had the effect of partially extinguishing the fire. Hopsonn was further relieved by the covering fire of the Association, which had by that time brought her broadside to bear upon the land works on the north side; yet the Torbay, which had lost one hundred and fifteen men, killed or drowned, was so battered and burnt as to be almost helpless. The Vice-Admiral had subsequently to transfer his flag to the Monmouth, which entered the harbour when the fight was nearly over.

After the action had lasted for little more than half an hour, M. de Chateaurenault found his landworks on the south side carried, his boom cut to pieces, his fireship expended in vain, the Bourbon taken, and the allied fleet pouring in upon him: and, despairing of being able to make any further resistance, he ordered his captains to burn their ships, and himself set them the example. Owing, however, to the confusion and haste, the directions were not in every case carried out, and, as may be seen on reference to the table above, many ships fell into the hands of the English and Dutch. Most of the officers and men got ashore and escaped; but about four hundred fell into the hands of the victors; and among these were the Marquis de la Galissonniere, the captains of the Assure and the Volontaire, and the Spanish admiral, Don Jose Checon. The victory was most crushing, every vessel in Redonela Harbour being either taken or destroyed. Nor was it a very bloody triumph. The Torbay was the only ship of the Allies that suffered heavy loss. The other ships together seem to have lost not more than a dozen killed or wounded; and the French were little worse off. The glory of the day undoubtedly lay largely with Vice-Admiral Hopsonn, who, for his gallantry and great services, was knighted by the Queen on November 29th following, and afterwards granted a pension of 500 a year, with a reversion of 300 a year to his wife, in case she should survive him. His officers and men were also specially rewarded.

The treasure and booty taken were of enormous value, the flotilla of galleons having been the richest which had ever reached Europe from the West Indies. Some of the lading had been removed before the action; but it was estimated that gold, silver and cargo, to the value of thirteen million pieces of eight, fell into the hands of the victors or were destroyed.








Comments (4)

deslandesherve@... said

at 10:52 pm on Jan 8, 2009

the names ships are ASSURE 66 Guns = no. ASSURANCE
and FORT 76 Guns = no. FORTE
PRUDENT 64 Guns: Capitaine de Grandpré
ESPERANCE 70 Guns: Capitaine La Galissonnière
ORIFLAMME 64 Guns: Capitaine Certaines de Fricambault
ASSURE = Chef d'Escadre Aligre
FAVORI Brulot = Halis de L'Escalette

deslandesherve@... said

at 1:42 am on Jan 8, 2009

velasco tejada ( capitaine general) commandant en chef esp. : refuse d'aller a brest comme le souhaite chateaurenault.
SANTO CRISTO de BUEN VIAJE 36 guns ( galion marchand)=....
SANTA CRUZ 36 guns
SANTA CRUZ 30 guns
TRINIDAD guns ? Patache
SAN DIEGO 12 guns
SAN JUAN guns ? Patache
FELIPE V 8 guns
total= 19 Galions & patache : burnt 14 & taken 5
no the capitaine name
source : c. de la Ronciere (president de l'academie de marine before 1932)
(ancien conservateur bibliotheque nationale fr.)

Cy said

at 10:38 am on Jan 5, 2009

GALION : BUFFOONA : Amiral Chacon = Bufona 56 guns?
GALION : CAPITANE de AZOGUES : Capitaine Fernando Chacon ( brother de l'amiral) = Capitana de Assogos 56 guns?

if Amiral Chacon commanded who was Velasco y Tejada?

deslandesherve@... said

at 1:22 am on Jan 5, 2009

GALION : BUFFOONA : Amiral Chacon
GALION : CAPITANE de AZOGUES : Capitaine Fernando Chacon ( brother de l'amiral)

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