Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1747 The First Battle of Cape Finisterre

The First Battle of Cape Finisterre (14 May 1747) saw 14 British ships of the line under Admiral George Anson attack a French 30-ship convoy commanded by Admiral de la Jonquière during the War of the Austrian Succession. The British captured 4 ships of the line, 2 frigates and 7 merchantmen, in a five-hour battle in the Bay of Biscay off Cape Finisterre in northwest Spain. The other supply ships escaped.

Anson on the Prince George and Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Warren on the Devonshire had sailed from Plymouth on the 9th of April to intercept French shipping. When a large convoy was sighted Admiral Anson had made the signal to form line of battle, when Rear-Admiral Warren, suspecting the enemy to be merely manoeuvring to favour the escape of the convoy, bore down and communicated his opinion to the admiral, who thereon threw out a signal for a general chase. The Centurion , under a press of sail, was the first to come up with the rearmost French ship, which she attacked heavily and two other ships dropped astern to her support. Three more English ships coming up including the Devonshire, the action became general. The French, though much inferior in numbers, fought till seven in the evening, when all their ships were taken, as well as nine sail of East India merhantmen. The enemy lost 700 men, killed and wounded, and the British 520. Upwards of £300,000 were found on board the ships of war, which were turned into British ships.

Following his victory, Anson was promoted to Vice Admiral and raised to the peerage.

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