Capture of the Rosily Squadron

The Capture of the Rosily Squadron took place on 14 June 1808, in Cadiz, Spain, nearly three years after the Battle of Trafalgar, during the uprising against the French invaders. Five French ships of the line and a frigate were still in the port, having remained there since the British victory. French Admiral Rosily, after an engagement with the Spanish lasting five days, surrendered his entire squadron with the four thousand seamen then on board.[3]

Capture of the Rosily Squadron
Part of the Peninsular War
Vista de Cádiz y sus contornos hacia 1813

Map of Cádiz
Date9–14 June 1808.
Result Spanish victory, French squadron surrenders to Spain
France French Empire Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders
France François Rosily  (POW) Spain Juan Ruiz de Apodaca
Spain Tomás de Morla y Pacheco
5 ships of the line,
1 frigate,
4,000 sailors
5 ships of the line,
1 frigate
At least 2,000 sailors and militia,
Numerous gunboats
Casualties and losses
13 dead,
46 wounded,
3,676 captured,
6 ships captured[1][2]
Total: 3,735
4 dead,
50 wounded,
15 gunboats sunk
Total: 54


Under difficult circumstances, Rear-Admiral Rosily acted in the manner that was most suitable to his situation, endeavouring to gain enough time for the arrival at Cadiz of those troops which had been dispatched from Madrid to Andalusia. He took up defensive positions, beyond the reach of the land batteries, in the channel which leads to the Caracas. While anchored there, he first offered to quit the bay, in order to quiet the multitude; he next proposed to the British, who were blockading the port, to send his cannon ashore, to keep his crews on board and to conceal his flag. In exchange, he required hostages for the safety of his sick and for the French inhabitants of Cadiz, and a pledge that he should be safe from attack. The British would not consent to this.

The Spanish governor of Cadiz, Tomás Morla, refused to comply with the Rosily's demands, and instead required that he should surrender his forces. On Rosily's refusal, the Spaniards sited batteries on the Isle of Leon and near Fort Louis.

The French ships and their numbers of guns were:

Neptune 80
Héros 74
Pluton 74
Algesiras 80
Argonaute[4] 74
Cornélie 44


On 9 June, at 3 PM, a division of Spanish gun and mortar boats and the batteries erected on the Isle of Leon and at Fort Louis commenced hostilities against the French ships with steady fire, which was kept up until nightfall. The Spaniards had even requested that two ships of the line, Principe de Asturias (112) and Terrible (74), help them.

On the following morning, the 10th, the cannonade recommenced and continued until 2 PM, when the French flagship, Héros, hoisted a flag of truce. Shortly afterwards Vice-Admiral Rosily addressed a letter to Spanish governor Morla, offering to disembark his guns and ammunition, but to retain his men and not hoist any colours. These terms were considered unacceptable, the Spaniards prepared to renew the attack upon the French squadron with an increase of force. On the 14th, at 7 AM, an additional battery of 30 long 24-pounders were ready to act and numerous gun and mortar vessels took up their stations. The French ships struck their colours, which in the course of the forenoon, were replaced by those of Spain.

The British were impatient spectators of this action. Admiral Collingwood, who commanded the blockade of Cadiz, made an offer of co-operation, but his offer was refused by the Spanish. It was enough for them that the British should prevent the fleet from escaping; they were not disposed to give them any claim to a prey which would be captured without their aid.[5][6]

The French suffered little human loss, the Spaniards had only four men killed. It being impossible for the French to offer much resistance, and certain of the success of his attack, the Spanish governor, Tomás Morla, did not wish to employ more violent means of destruction, such as heated shot.


Immediately after the surrender of the French fleet, the Spanish Supreme Junta requested the British Admiral give passage in one of his vessels to the commissioners whom it wished to send for the purpose of negotiating with the Government of his Britannic Majesty for an alliance against Napoleon.

Mr George Canning, His Majesty's Foreign Secretary, stated:

"No longer remember that war has existed between Spain and Great Britain. Every nation which resists the exorbitant power of France becomes immediately, and whatever may have been its previous relations with us, the natural ally of Great Britain".[7]

During the journey of 4 July, the British government emitted an order, declaring that all hostilities between Great Britain and Spain would cease with immediate effect.

See also


  1. ^ Alfred Thayer Mahan, p. 195
  2. ^ 3,676 was the correct number of prisoners according to the Gazette of Madrid
  3. ^ Thayer Mahan, p. 195
  4. ^ (Argonaute of 1806)
  5. ^ Maximilien p. 210
  6. ^ James p. 14
  7. ^ Maximilien, p 213


  • Alfred Thayer Mahan. (1912). The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812. Little, Brown, and Company.
  • Foy, Maximilien, comte; Foy, Elisabeth Augustine, comtesse (1827). History of the war in the Peninsula, under Napoleon : to which is prefixed, a view of the political and military state of the four belligerent powers, Vol 1; London : Treuttel and Würtz.
  • James, William. Naval History of Great Britain 1793-1820 (1826) Applegath, London.

External links

Coordinates: 36°37′N 6°21′W / 36.617°N 6.350°W

1808 in Spain

Events from the year 1808 in Spain.

Enrique MacDonell

Enrique MacDonell, also spelled MacDonnell, was an Irish-Spanish navy admiral noted for his participation in several sea battles including the Battle of Trafalgar.

He was born in Pontevedra in Spain, into a prominent Irish-Spanish family, though his naval records state his origin as Irish. His father was a Spanish Army brigadier-general and colonel of the Irish Regiment of Irlanda, and his mother a lady-in-waiting to the royal household.

List of battles involving France in modern history

This is a chronological list of the battles involving France in modern history.

For earlier conflicts, see List of battles involving France. These lists do not include the battles of the French civil wars (as the Wars of Religion, the Fronde, the War in the Vendée) unless a foreign country is involved; this list includes neither the peacekeeping operations (such as Operation Artemis, Operation Licorne) nor the humanitarian missions supported by the French Armed Forces.

The list gives the name, the date, the present-day location of the battles, the French allies and enemies, and the result of these conflicts following this legend:

French military victory

French military defeat

Indecisive or unclear outcome

Ongoing conflict

List of wars involving Spain

This is a list of wars fought by the Kingdom of Spain or on Spanish territory.

Naval campaigns, operations and battles of the Napoleonic Wars

The naval campaigns, operations and battles of the Napoleonic Wars were events during the period of World-wide warfare between 1802 and 1814 that were undertaken by European powers in support of their land-based strategies. All events included in this article represent fleet actions that involved major naval commands larger than 3–4 ships of the line, and usually commanded by a flag officer.

The period commenced with the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens on the 16 May 1803. Three days later Cornwallis began the Blockade of Brest. On 10 May 1804 William Pitt was instrumental in creating the Third Coalition.

Spanish ship Montañés (1794)

The Montañés was a 74 gun third-rate Spanish ship of the line. The name ship of her class, she was built in the Ferrol shipyards and paid for by the people of Cantabria. She was built following José Romero y Fernández de Landa's system as part of the San Ildefonso class, though her were amended by Retamosa to refine her buoyancy. She was launched in May 1794 and entered service the following year. With 2400 copper plates on her hull, she was much faster than other ships of the same era, reaching 14 (rather than the average 10) knots downwind and 10 (rather than 8) knots upwind.

In 1795 she fought a French force of 8 ships of the line (including one three-decker) and 2 frigates single-handed in the bay of San Feliu de Guíxols - thanks to her superior speed, the Montañés managed to get within range of a coastal artillery battery, forcing the French to break off the chase.

In June 1805 she was put under the command of Francisco Alcedo and made part of Alcalá Galdiano's division, defending Cadiz from a possible British attack. At the battle of Trafalgar she was assigned to the second division of Gravina's squadron. Both Alcedo and his deputy Antonio Castaños were killed (with the ship's command passing to lieutenant Joaquín Gutiérrez de Rubalcava), but overall the ship lost only 20 dead and 29 wounded and was able to recapture the Santa Ana and Neptuno after their capture by the British. The Montañés returned to Cadiz on the night of 21 October 1805.

Now commanded by José Quevedo, on 14 July 1808 the Montañés took part in the capture of the Rosily Squadron at Cadiz. She also made several voyages to the Canary Islands, Balearics and Havana before being lost in a heavy storm on 10 March 1810.

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