War Between Britain & Spain 1804

Want to learn more about the war between Britain and Spain in 1804? Read on for a historical overview of the Anglo British war of 1804…

Initially Spain and Britain had maintained relatively friendly ties with each other. However a series of unfortunate events led to a war between the two countries that was fought in Cape Santa Maria in the year 1804. The event is remembered in history as one of the most controversial naval battles that took place during the Napoleonic wars.

Spanish ships full of treasures were making their way to the country when they were intercepted by the naval forces of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom termed this strategy as a necessity of war whereas it was an act of piracy for Spain in which they lost a total of four Spanish frigates that were carrying a large amount of new world treasure. This act of the United Kingdom was bound to stir the anti-British feelings in the country. As a result of this King Carlos IV decided to declare war on the United Kingdom.

Rear-Admiral Jose de Bustamante y Guerra was the Spanish officer in command of the Spanish fleet of treasure ships. King Carlos IV was considerate enough not to blame the individual for having lost the treasure to the enemy forces. This is because the United Kingdom violated a peace agreement between the two countries and hence the Spanish officer and his crew were taken by surprise.

The United Kingdom dispatched its naval forces in order to intercept the Spanish fleet at Cadiz. The British naval forces cited the Spanish fleet of treasure ships on 5 October just off the coast of Portugal. However the Spanish had also sighted the British ships and began to make preparations to get into the line of battle.

The British Commodore dispatched Lieut. Ascott to deliver his message to the Spanish flagship Medea. The Spanish Adm. Refused to surrender without a fight and by 10 AM the first shot was fired from the British troops. In what followed both sides engaged in heavy exchange of fire and the first major loss to occur was that of the Mercedes which exploded. This was a heavy blow for the Spanish as only 40 of the total number of 240 crew members managed to survive. After half an hour of fighting, both Medea and Santa Clara had no choice but to surrender to British forces. However the Spanish Fama made an attempt to flee from the site of Battle and was pursued by the British Medusa. A few hours later the Spanish ship was captured and the three surviving frigates were taken to the port of Gosport in England.

It was this event that triggered the Spanish government to declare war on Great Britain. However the consequences of this war were devastating for Spain as they suffered a huge defeat in less than a year. The decisive battle was fought at Trafalgar in the month of October 1805.


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