The People of Gibraltar
1462 - Gibraltar - The Spanish Fortress - Part 3 
The 18th century - The Anglo-Dutch Affair 


In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces under Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt - with some help from his English naval commander Admiral George Rooke - captured Gibraltar in the name of Charles III, pretender to the throne of Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession. Later, with consequences that have survived up to the present day, Gibraltar became part of the British Empire 


 Left - Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt - Right - Admiral George Rooke 

One curious but interesting claim is that Admiral Rooke was among those trapped and fired upon in Gibraltar during the Coëtlogon affair. I doubt it as I think it is based on a misinterpretation. The merchantmen in question had indeed been part of a convoy under his protection but my view is that he and his ship managed to return to England unscathed, evading the consequences of what proved to be a major - and very expensive - disaster.

On the summer of 1704 a formidable fleet of 61 warships - including 6 Dutch frigates - sailed into the Bay of Algeciras. They were armed with 4000 cannon and were carrying 9000 infantry men and 25000 marines. 


The Anglo-Dutch fleet in the Bay of Gibraltar in 1704     (Unknown)

The squadron was commanded by the British admiral Rooke. On board was George Hesse-Darmstadt who represented the Austrian Pretender.


The Archduke of Austria on the left, Phillip V of Spain on the right

Gibraltar, as had Ceuta, had pronounced itself in favour of Philip V and was willing to defend itself - despite the lack of sufficient troops to do so. The Governor Diego de Salinas was in charge of 100 odd soldiers reinforced by 300 local militia men and 100 guns of which more than a few were unusable. 


El Ultimo de Gibraltar   (21st century - Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau)

The fellow on the horse is Diego Esteban Gómez de Salinas y Rodríguez de Villarroel - a mouthful that most British historians over the years have resolutely refused to swallow and is usually referred to simply as Diego Salinas He was appointed Alcaide by Phillip V in 1701. It is very possible that at this stage in his promotion he was still only acting as Military Governor, as Civil affairs were still managed by the Corregidor - Don Fernando  de  Villoria y Medrano.

The person responsible for this lack of preparedness on the Rock has been laid at the door of Francisco del Castillo Fajardo, Marquis of Villadarias and Captain General of Andalucía. 


Francisco del Castillo Fajardo - Marqués de Villadarias

Villadarias  had ignored requests for help from Gibraltar because he thought that the Anglo-Dutch forces were heading for Cadiz. The poor state of readiness against any enemy opting for the kind of tactics which were actually used by the enemy had already been anticipated in 1625 by the engineer Andrés Castoria.
The enemy might land its troop somewhere in the Bay out of range of the town’s artillery. They would then march during the night and entrench themselves on the sandy isthmus near the town. On the other side of the town would be guarded as if for a siege to stop any help forthcoming in this direction while the enemy ships would control the sea.

Plan of the Baluarte del Rosario - An example of the work of the engineer Andres Castoria  (1621)

What happened next has been described at length in available and extensive historical accounts written in both English and Spanish many of which persist in the idea that Salinas was in charge of an impregnable, well defended fortress with adequate naval assistance.  

The original English account suggests that despite the success of the Anglo-Dutch landings in the south and the destruction of La Torre del Tuerto, the town might have been able to hold put for longer had it not been for the hostage taking of several nuns, women and children who had taken refuge in the chapels in the south of the town, especially in that of Our Lady of Europa - an event compounded by the violations of some of the women. 


The Chapel of our Lady of Europa (1961)


When the British final took over the Rock after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the famous chapel spent most of the intervening two centuries either as a military guard House or a prison. The tall black post on the extreme left of the top photograph is a whipping pole.

Salinas accepted the surrender of the place despite the fact that its defences were still useable and that his reserves as regards armaments and gun power were still adequate. He abandoned Gibraltar in good order in the company of his soldiers and most of the civilian population. 


Diego Salinas leaves Gibraltar “in good order and in the company of his soldiers and most of the civilian population”

While the battle was still in progress the Spanish historian Ignacio Lopez de Ayala mentions an event that took place which has not as yet been resolved to everybody’s satisfaction. 
Both moles were attacked with vigour, and although the New Moles was defended with great valour. 100 sailors landed and possessed themselves of the fort contiguous (la Torre del Tuerto). The greater force, however, was directed against the Old Mole and Don Bartolomé Castaño, its commandant, seeing that resistance was in vain, resolved to abandon it giving orders to blow up Fort Leandro that protected it . . . seven of the enemy’s launches were destroyed and 300 troops, including many officers, were either killed or wounded . . . .  

Fort Leandro blowing up during the assault

Most authorities (including Sáez)  suggest that Ayala was confusing the two Moles and that Fort Leandro was in fact la Torre del Tuerto - a reasonable assumption given that the name Fort Leandro is hard to come by in the literature. But not everybody agrees. Sáez includes in his footnotes, a quote from the British engineer William Skinner which acknowledges this: 
Nor could they have taken the town without raising Batterys for making a Breach in the South Polygon (El Baluarte del Rosario - South Bastion)


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