The People of Gibraltar
1704 - Edward Whitaker - Hicks and Jumper Jumped the Gun

In the grand scheme of things, the assault by Anglo-Dutch forces against the Spanish defences of the South Mole during the taking of Gibraltar in 1704 could be described as a relatively minor skirmish in a rather unimportant battle - except in the sense that the eventual outcome gave rise to an important historical event that is still with us - a British Gibraltar. Whether British success in the South Mole was an essential feature of the final victory is hard to say - but it certainly helped.

The recording of this event , however, is a good example of how history is often manipulated by historians, consciously or unconsciously, so that through small additions or omissions,  historical events can be made to fit in with their own cultural perceptions and prejudices. When this happens with eye-witness or primary sources, the consequences for subsequent historians can be quite complex. 

The following is a selection of the literature that deals with the roles of the three main characters who took part in this incident - Captains Edward Whitaker, William Jumper and Hicks.

Rear Admiral of the Red George Byng, no friend of Admiral Rooke and nominally Captain Witaker's boss

From Captain Edward Whitaker to Sir Richard Haddock  - Haddock Correspondence - 1704 
July 21st we anchored here in the Bay, and about four in the afternoon landed about 2000 marines, Dutch and all. I commanded the landing with three captains more; all which was done with little opposition. About forty horse came down from the town, which was all; and they run away so soon as our guns began to play upon them. 
We landed about two miles from the town, in the Bay, and marched directly to the foot of the hill, where they posted themselves within musket shot of the gates; so cut off all manner of communication from the land. We hove into the town this evening about 17 shells. The Prince of Hesse landed with us and immediately sent a summons to the Governor, which did not return any answer till the next morning, and then the Governor said he would defend the town to the very last. 
Then Admiral Byng, who commanded the cannonading, began to draw up all his ships in a line before the town; but, it proving little wind, could not get in with them all, so that we did little this day. There was three small ships in the old mole, one of which annoyed our camp by firing amongst them, having about ten guns lying close in the mole and just under a great bastion at the north corner of the town. 
I proposed to Sir George the burning her in the night. He liked it; accordingly ordered what boats I would have to my assistance; and about 12 at night I did it effectually, with the loss of but one man. 
July 23, at four this morning, Admiral Byng began to cannonade which made a noble noise, being within half shot of the town. After about two hours continual firing, I went to Sir George and gave him my opinion that the mole might be attacked. He immediately made the signal for all the boats in the fleet, and gave me the command of the attack; but some of the boats got ashore before I could reach them, with little or no opposition.
Several of our men got into the Castle; upon which it blew up. We had killed between forty and fifty men. Most of all the boats that landed first were sunk; about a hundred or two wounded; upon which, all that remained came running down and leaped into the water, being so mightily surprised. I landed within a minute after the accident, and rallied our men. 
We went over a breach in the wall but one at a time, and took possession of a bastion of eight guns within less than half musket shot of the town wall; and there we pitched our colours. Soon after, Admiral Byng came ashore to me and sent in a drummer with a summons, who returned in about two hours with a letter in answer that they would surrender the next day; which they accordingly did. 
 I believe I had with me, at the first onset, between two and three hundred men; but we grew in a very little time to near 1000. This was the manner we took Gibraltar, which I hope we shall maintain. . . . .
HMS Dorsetshire 29th July 1704 
Understandably the way Whitaker tells it - the glory is all his. It was his idea to destroy that annoying ship off the old mole. More importantly it was also Whitaker who came up with the idea of attacking the New Mole and it was he who was in charge.

There is no mention of either Jumper or Hicks - in fact one gets the impression that he thought that whoever had got there first had jumped the gun. After the explosion he makes sure we realise that the survivors needed rallying. To repeat, the glory was all his. There is also a first mention of the pitching of the colours.

Another tower being blown to smitherines - la Torre de San Leandro - although there is precious little evidence that thi tower ever existed - Was it mistaken for la Torre del Tuerto?

A Complete History of the Most Remarkable Transactions at Sea - Josiah Burchett - 1720
The boats were then mann'd and arm'd and sent with Captain (now Sir Edward) Whitaker to possess themselves of that fort, which was very gallantly performed  . . 
It's all Whitaker, no mention of either Hicks or Jumper - but the bracketed Sir Edward gives a clue. None of the others made it up the slippery admiralty ladder and it has always been a good idea to brown-nose people at the top. Whitaker had made it to admiral and was still alive when this was written. William Jumper - an Irishman to boot - never made it past captain. In any case he was dead by 1715. 

Lives of Admirals - John Campbell - 1744
In the mean time, to amuse the enemy, Captain Whitaker was sent with some boats, who burnt a French Privateer of twelve guns at the mole.  . . after break of day the Admiral gave the signal for the cannonade . . . insomuch, that the enemy were soon beat from their guns. Whereupon the Admiral . . . ordered captain Whitaker, with all the boats to possess himself of it. 
But Captain Hicks and Captain Jumper . . had pushed ashore with their pinnaces . .  whereupon the Enemy sprung a mine hat blew up the Fortifications . . . killed two lieutenants, and about forty men . .  However our men kept possession of the great Platform which they made themselves Masters of; and Captain Whitaker landed with the rest of the seamen . . . and they took a Redoubt . . 
Hicks and Jumper are given their due with Whitaker turning up after the event. 

Drawing of the attack by an unknown officer. The Torre del Tuerto explosion is shown in the right place  ( 1704 )

James Solas Dodd - 1781
In the meanwhile in order to amuse the enemy, Captain Edward Whitaker was sent in, with a number of boats  . .  who burned a twelve gun privateer laying in the old mole.. .  
The admiral . .  ordered captain Whitaker, with all the longboats of the fleet, to go and take possession of it; on which captain Hicks and captain Jumper, lying nearest, got first on shore in their pinnacles and seized the platform; which they had no sooner done, than the enemy sprung a mine, which killed two lieutenants and forty seamen, and wounded sixty more. Undaunted at this event, the captains resolutely maintained their possession, till captain Whitaker and his party joined them . . .
Hicks and Jumper take the honours. Dodd also gives a list of the ships involved. 

Captain Whitaker was on the the Dorsetshire and was part of the first Division of 10 ships under Rear Admiral of the Red George Byng. She had 80 Guns and 500 men. 
Captain W. Jumper was on the Lennox and was part of the Fourth Division under Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral of the White. She had 70 guns and 440 men.
Captain Hicks was on the Yarmouth and was part of the Fourth Division under Sir John Leake, Vice Admiral of the Blue. She had 70 guns and 440 men.

John Drinkwater  - History of the Siege of Gibraltar - 1787
By daybreak on the 23rd, the ships appointed to cannonade the town, under admirals Byng and Vanderdussen, with those that were destined to batter the new mole, commanded by captains Hicks and Jumper, were at their several stations. The admiral made the signal to begin the cannonade, which was performed with great vivacity and effect, so that the enemy, in five or six hours, were driven from their guns, especially from the new mole head.  
The admiral, considering  that by gaining that fortification the town might sooner be reduced, ordered captain Whitaker, with the armed boats, to possess himself of it ; but captains Hicks and Jumper, who lay next the mole, pushed ashore with their pinnaces, before the rest came up ; whereupon the Spaniards sprung a mine, which blew up the fortifications, killed 2 lieutenants and 40 men, and wounded 60. The assailants nevertheless kept possession of the work, and being joined by captain Whitaker, advanced and took a small redoubt, ( the present day 8 gun battery ) half-way between the mole and the town.
Again, it is Hicks and Jumper who take the credit. Note the 'but' in 'but Captains Hicks and Jumper' - They didn't need Whitaker either to tell them how to carry out the attack - or when to do so. They did not run away after the explosion, and did not need any rallying from him. Whitaker simply joined them to press home their advantage.

The popular view ( Will's Cigarette cards )

Biographia Navalis - John Charnock - 1795

Charnock quotes the last section of Whitaker's letter as shown above and makes the following comment.
The only possible objection that can be made to the forgoing account is, that no notice appears to be taken of Captain Hicks, who certainly distinguished himself very much on this occasion. 
But  . . no mention of Captain Jumper. Elsewhere he had this to say;
This was the capture of Gibraltar in which service Captain Hicks bore a very distinguished part. A detachment of ships were put under his command . .  with orders to attack the South Mole Head.  . .  the cannonade continued with such fury  . .  the enemy were driven almost everywhere from their guns. The confusion of the enemy being apparent, Captain Whitaker was ordered to land . . . but ere he could execute these orders Captain Hicks, sustained by Captain Jumper, pushed forward with their own pinnaces  . . 
'Sustained'  . . . ?

Not la Torre del Tuerto blowing up as this painting shows Dutch and English marines on their way to  the isthmus - Again the explosion might refer to the destrction of the elusive San Leandr0    ( Unknown ) 

Naval Chronology - Isaac Schomberg - 1802
After day-light . . . the signal was given to cannonade the town  . . and . . the enemy were driven from the batteries in the New Mole which the Admiral no sooner observed than he ordered all the boats of the fleet to be manned  . . . and to proceed under the command of Captain Hicks and Jumper to take possession of the fort  . . . The Spaniards on their landing sprang a mine. By this dreadful accident  two lieutenants and forty men were killed . . . This disaster did not prevent the English from taking possession of the grand platform where they remained until reinforced by a body of seamen under captain Whitaker. . . 
In this version there is no question of Hicks and Jumper taking matters into their own hands. Whitaker is simply part of the reserves.

Naval Biography - Edward Harding  - 1809
The admiral . . . considering that by gaining the fortifications at the South Mole Head,he should of consequence reduce the town, ordered captain Whitaker, with all the boats armed, to endeavour to possess himself of it, which was performed with great vigour and success by captain Hicks, and captain Jumper, with their pinnaces and other boats ; and with the loss only of two lieutenants and forty men killed, and about sixty wounded, by the springing of a mine, that blew up the fortifications upon the Mole. 
However, the confederates kept possession of the platform, which they had made themselves masters of. The fact was, that the order was no sooner issued for captain Whitaker to arm the boats, than captain Hicks and captain Jumper, who were nearest the Mole, pushed on shore with their pinnaces, and actually seized the fortifications, before the rest could come up . . . . .
No jumping of the gun by Hicks and Jumper. It was all part of the plan. 

Diary of National Biography - John Knox Laughton - 1885-1900
On 4 Jan. 1702–3 he was appointed to the Restoration, and, a few days later, from her to the Dorsetshire, one of the fleet with Rooke in the Mediterranean in 1704. In the capture of Gibraltar Whitaker acted as aide-de-camp to Sir George Byng, ‘his ship not being upon service,’ commanded the boats in the attack, rallied the men when panic-struck by the explosion of a magazine, and hoisted the English colours on the bastion. In the battle of Malaga the Dorsetshire was one of the red squadron, and was closely engaged throughout.
A summary of Whitaker's own account - including the hoisting of the colours.

William Shaw - The Knights of England - 1906 
1704, Dec. Edward Whitaker, captain R.N. (at St. James's Palace for good services done at Gibraltar, in Spain) 
1704, Nov 21st William Jumper of Leeds Abbey, Kent, Commander of HMS Lennox ( at St James's for many good services performed against the French )
No Hicks though.

The taking of Gibraltar - 1704 ( Unknown )

War at Sea Under Queen Anne  - John Healy Owen 1938 
Some hundreds of seamen landed in the afternoon at the insistence of Captain Edward Whitaker of the Dorsetshire who had directed the landings of the marines and was now acting as 'aducon' to Rooke. 
Curious slang for 'aide-de-camp' and back to the idea that this was Whitaker's show. 
As regards modern general histories of Gibraltar, this is what they have to say.

George Hills Rock of Contention 1974
Rooke's senior captain, Whitaker, in command of the longboats which had landed the marines was now acting as liaison officer between the Commander-in-chief and Byng. Aboard the ship nearest the New Mole , a mere half-musket shot away, he saw the guns covering the mole knocked out. 
He rowed over to Byng to suggest a landing by sailors.  Byng sent Whitaker to Rooke to get his approval but in the meantime allowed Juniper (sic) and another Captain, Hicks, to launch their boats. About 200 men made for the Mole. They climbed over the ten foot wall into the Torre del Tuerto without difficulty. Moments later two lieutenants and around 40 sailors were dead and another 60 wounded. 
The fort's powder magazine had blown up; set alight either by the defenders or 'by the heedless courage of our seamen' who entered with lighted matched in their hands.' Whatever the cause, many of our boats were staved in pieces and our seamen began to retreat in great confusion imagining they were trepanned by the enemy' ( Pocock ) At this juncture, Whitaker, who had landed in Rosia Bay, arrived with fresh men and turned back the panic stricken survivors  of the explosion  . . .Whitaker 'marched further on and took the redoubt, half way between the New Mole and the town ( 1627 Half-Moon Battery ), planting there the Union Jack.
Hills returns to the original version with a vengeance adding one or two extra details for which he give no sources. It is Whitaker who notices that the guns covering the mole had been knocked out and can therefore be given the honour of having been the person who had figured a way in from the south - without which it might have proved much harder get the Spaniards to surrender. 

The survivors are 'panic stricken' after the explosion - and both Hicks and Jumper were survivors. It make one wonder why they ever bothered to call it Jumper's Bastion.

Jumper's Bastion looking South   ( 1870s - George Washington Wilson )

Gibraltar - Maurice Harvey - 2000
There were two landing parties. Captains Jumper. . and  Hicks who were nearest the New Mole, immediately launched their longboats and quickly established themselves ashore. A little later the main landing party of 3000 (sic) sailors and marines under Captain Whitaker landed to the South of the Mole in Rosia Bay . . 
Harvey avoids the problem. But the feeling is that the true heros were Jumper and Hicks. He then discusses the controversy as to whether the blowing up of the Torre del Tuerto was a deliberate act by the enemy or whether it was due to the carelessness of the British troops.

The Rock of the Gibraltarians - Sir William G.F. Jackson - 1990
This event is covered in great detail by Jackson. His description occupies an entire page and is too long to quote. However, his references are mostly from Hills, Sayer, Drinkwater and Ayala so there is no new perspective. In general terms Jackson's view is that Rooke ordered Whitaker to do the necessary. Jumper and Hicks jumped the gun, and Whitaker 'rallied the shaken survivors' after the explosion.

Admiral of the Red, Sir George Rooke ( 18th century - Michael Dahl )

Difficult to tell but I would suggest that Whitaker's original letter to Admiral Haddock had much to do with promoting his own role in this episode. Jumper - a Protestant from Bandon in Cork - was eventually honoured for his part both with a knighthood and the naming of Jumper's Bastion in his honour. 

As for Hicks - it is only recently that I found out his first name. It was Jasper.