The War of Jenkin’s Ear

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The Battle of Cartagena de Indias (1741)

War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739 – 1748)

Fought between Britain and Spain, this small-scale war took place mostly in and around the Caribbean; its latter stages became subsumed into the War of the Austrian Succession. It is regarded as a Spanish victory. The bizarre name was not used at the time but was invented in Victorian times by Thomas Carlyle; a better name for it is the Spanish version – La Guerra del Asiento (”The Asiento War”). An Asiento was licence to trade in Spanish territories in South America, but those colonies were a closed market, except for one thing – slaves. Essentially it was a licence to sell slaves to the Spanish.

Robert Jenkins of Llanelli was a master mariner whose ship was detained by a Spanish privateer La Guardia in 1731 and accused of smuggling. It is alleged that the Spanish captain Juan de León Fandiño sliced off Jenkin’s ear with a cutlass and bade him show it to King George as an example of how to deal with smugglers. Although reported at the time it attracted little attention until 7 years later it was brought up as a pretext for conflict with Spain by South Sea company interests.

The British South Sea Company was a joint-stock corporation holding a monopoly on South American trade; the British Government was a major shareholder and had established it to pay off public debt. Included in its charter was an Asiento – a licence from the Spanish government to sell African slaves in its territories. Escalating tensions between Britain and Spain led to the withdrawal of the licence; this was a key revenue stream for the company, since South America was a closed market and slaves were practically the only thing they were allowed to sell there. Its removal was a spur to war, as was the opportunity to acquire fresh colonies in the Caribbean. The Jenkins incident became the casus belli (stated reason) for the conflict but protecting and improving revenues of the South Sea Company was the underlying cause.

The war began with a British success; the capture of Porto Bello in Panama in 1739 in a surprise attack by just 6 British warships was celebrated throughout Britain and British America. Portobello Road in London, Portobello district in Edinburgh and Porto Bello in Virginia are all named after it.

After that little went right for the British. Small forces and an unfamiliarity with fighting in the tropics led to mounting losses, many from disease. In 1741 they launched a major amphibious attack on Cartagena de Indias in Columbia by 12,000 marines and 15,000 sailors in 54 ships but were bloodily repulsed with 10,000 dead and 6 ships sunk. This is noted in British histories as Britain’s worst ever defeat at sea. In 1742 a force of British American troops from Georgia failed in an attempt to capture St Augustine in Florida – the failure of Royal Navy to prevent the Spanish from re-enforcing the town was a key factor in the Spanish Victory. A Spanish attempt to invade the colony of Georgia was also defeated in the same year. In 1748, a British force ambushed a treasure fleet and its escorts as it left the harbour Havana, Cuba; it defeated the escorts, but the treasure ships got away. This was the last action of the war.

By now the conflict had become merged into the War of the Austrian Succession which had broken out in Europe, so Britain withdrew its forces from the Caribbean and combat operations ceased. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 formally ended the war, but the issue of the Asiento was not mentioned. This was finally resolved in 1750 with an agreement that Britain would renounce any claim to the Asiento in return for a payment of £100,000 and improved trading rights in South America. This turned out to be to the Company’s advantage; even with an Asiento the Company made surprisingly little money from the slave trade – there was a glut of slaves and the price was low – they made far more from smuggling goods in the slave ships, since Spanish colonies were a closed market for all other goods. Prior to the war the Company had struggled to make a profit; wild expectations of profit growth had pushed up the share price and led to the Financial crash of 1720, known as the “South Sea Bubble”. The ending of its slave trading activities and the opening up of legitimate markets led to a revival in the Company’s fortunes and it finally began to turn a profit and continued to do so until it was wound up in 1853 at the outbreak of the Crimean War.

 

Copyright ©2018 Savereo John

British Battles of the 18th Century – Land

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The Battle of Palashi (Plassey) 1757 part of the Seven Years War

Battle Year Location Troops Conflict Outcome
Siege of St. Augustine (1702) 1702 Florida 1,000 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Gibraltar 1704 Spain 2,400 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Schellenberg 1704 Bavaria 35,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Blenheim 1704 Bavaria 108,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Siege of St. John’s 1705 Newfoundland 500 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
 Siege of Barcelona 1706 Spain n/k War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Ramillies 1706 Belgium 122,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Alamansa 1707 Spain 41,000 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Oudenarde 1707 Belgium 165,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Wijnendale 1708 Belgium 30,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
St John’s 1709 Newfoundland 500 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Malplaquet 1709 France 160,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Almenar 1710 Spain 46,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Saragossa 1710 Spain 50,000 War of the Spanish Succession Allied Victory
Port Royal 1710 Nova Scotia 1,500 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Brihuega 1710 Spain 14,000 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Villaviciosa 1710 Spain 34,000 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Bloody Creek (1711) 1711 Nova Scotia 200 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Victory
Preston 1715 England 4,200 Jacobite Rebellion (1715) Hanoverian Victory
Sheriffmuir 1715 Scotland 18,000 Jacobite Rebellion (1715) Inconclusive
Glen Shiel 1719 Scotland 2,100 Jacobite Rebellion (1719) Hanoverian Victory
Porto Bello 1739 Panama n/k War of Jenkins’ Ear British Victory
St. Augustine (1740) 1740 Florida 3,800 War of Jenkin’s Ear Spanish Victory
Gully Hole Creek 1742 Georgia 600 War of Jenkin’s Ear British Victory
Bloody Marsh 1742 Georgia 850 War of Jenkin’s Ear British Victory
La Guaira 1743 Venezuela 3,400 War of Jenkin’s Ear Spanish Victory
Puerto Cabello 1743 Venezuela 6,000 War of Jenkin’s Ear Spanish Victory
Dettingen 1743 Bavaria 58,000 War of the Austrian Succession Allied Victory
Villafranca 1744 Italy 38,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Siege of Louisbourg (1745) 1745 Nova Scotia 6,500 War of the Austrian Succession Allied Victory
Fontenoy 1745 Belgium 102,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Prestonpans 1745 Scotland 4,800 Jacobite Rebellion (1745) Jacobite Victory
Falkirk Muir 1746 Scotland 15,000 Jacobite Rebellion (1745) Jacobite Victory
Culloden 1746 Scotland 15,000 Jacobite Rebellion (1745) Hanoverian Victory
Rocoux 1746 Belgium n/k War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Lauffeld 1747 Netherlands 140,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Siege of Bergen op Zoom (1747) 1747 Netherlands 40,000 War of the Austrian Succession French Victory
Jumonville Glen 1754 Pennsylvania 100 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Fort Beauséjour 1755 New Brunswick 2,500 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Monongahela Valley 1755 Pennsylvania 2,200 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Fort Bull 1756 New York 400 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Siege of Fort William Henry 1756 New York 10,500 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Fort Oswego (1756) 1756 New York 4,100 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Palashi (Plassey) 1757 Bengal 65,100 Seven Years War East India Company Victory
Hastenbeck 1757 Hanover 95,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Bloody Creek (1757) 1757 Nova Scotia 200 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Siege of Louisbourg (1758) 1758 Nova Scotia 25,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Carrilion 1758 New York 21,600 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Fort Duquesne 1758 Pennsylvania 1,200 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Fort Ligonier 1758 New York 2,600 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Bergen 1759 Hesse 63,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Ticonderoga 1759 New York 11,800 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Fort Niagara 1759 New York 5,700 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Beauport 1759 Quebec 14,000 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Minden 1759 Westphalia 77,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Plains of Abraham 1759 Quebec 7,800 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Wandiwash 1760 Tamil Nadu 11,200 Seven Years War East India Company Victory
Sainte-Foy 1760 Quebec 8,800 Seven Years War Pro-French Victory
Warburg 1760 Westphalia 36,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Thousand Islands 1760 Ontario 12,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Villinghausen 1761 Westphalia 155,000 Seven Years War Pro-British Victory
Manilla 1762 Philippines 19,600 Anglo-Spanish War British Victory
Bushy Run 1763 Pennsylvania 1,000 Pontiac’s Rebellion British Victory
Buxar 1764 Bihar 47,000 The Bengal Wars East India Company Victory
Lexington and Concord 1775 Massachusetts 5,500 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Fort Ticonderoga 1775 New York 250 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Bunker Hill 1775 Massachusetts 5,400 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Siege of Fort St. Jean 1775 Quebec 2,500 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Longue-Pointe 1775 Quebec 400 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Great Bridge 1775 Virginia 1,300 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Quebec 1775 Quebec 3,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Moore’s Creek Bridge 1776 North Carolina 1,900 American Revolutionary War American Victory
The Cedars 1776 Quebec 750 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Trois-Rivières 1776 Quebec 3,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Long Island 1776 New York 30,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Harlem Heights 1776 New York 6,800 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Pell’s Point 1776 New York 4,700 American Revolutionary War British Victory
White Plains 1776 New York 8,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Fort Cumberland 1776 New Brunswick 600 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Trenton 1776 New Jersey 4,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Assunpink Creek 1777 New Jersey 11,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Princeton 1777 New Jersey 5,700 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Bound Brook 1777 New Jersey 4,500 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Fort Ticonderoga (1777) 1777 New York 10,800 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Oriskany 1777 New York 1,300 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Bennington 1777 New York 4,100 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Brandywine 1777 Pennsylvania 21,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
1st Saratoga 1777 New York 16,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
2nd Saratoga 1777 New York 18,000 American Revolutionary War American Vcitory
Germantown 1777 Pennsylvania 20,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Crooked Billet 1778 Pennsylvania 1,200 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Monmouth 1778 New Jersey 25,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Alligator Bridge 1778 Florida 1,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Kettle Creek 1779 Georgia 1,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Siege of Fort Vincennes 1779 Indiana 400 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Brier Creek 1779 Georgia 2,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Stony Point 1779 New York 2,200 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Paulus Hook 1779 New Jersey 500 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Newtown 1779 New York 1,200 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Fort Bute 1779 Louisiana 1,400 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Baton Rouge (1779) 1779 Louisiana 1,300 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Siege of Savannah 1779 Georgia 8,200 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Fort Charlotte 1780 Alabama 1,600 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Siege of Charleston 1780 South Carolina 19,300 American Revolutionary War British Victory
St. Louis 1780 Missouri 1,300 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Springfield 1780 New Jersey 7,500 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Camden 1780 South Carolina 6,100 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Fishing Creek 1780 South Carolina 1,000 American Revolutionary War British Victory
First Pollilur 1780 Tamil Nadu 8,000 Anglo-Mysore Wars Mysore Victory
Kings Mountain 1780 South Carolina 2,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Mobile 1781 Alabama 1,000 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Cowpens 1781 South Carolina 3,000 American Revolutionary War American Victory
Guilford Court House 1781 North Carolina 6,500 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Siege of Pensacola 1781 Florida 19,000 American Revolutionary War Spanish Victory
Hobkirk’s Hill 1781 South Carolina 2,400 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Groton Heights 1781 Connecticut 1,900 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Eutaw Springs 1781 South Carolina 4,200 American Revolutionary War British Victory
Yorktown 1781 Virginia 27,900 American Revolutionary War American / French Victory
Siege of Negapatam 1781 Tamil Nadu 18,000 Anglo-Mysore Wars East India Company Victory
Second Pollilur 1782 Tamil Nadu n/k Anglo-Mysore Wars East India Company Victory
Blue Licks 1782 Kentucky 500 American Revolutionary War Loyalist / Shawnee Victory
Siege of Toulon 1783 France 50,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Hondschoote 1783 France 64,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Tourcoing 1794 France 144,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Fleurus 1794 Belgium 115,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Fallen Timbers 1794 Ohio 4,000 Northwest Indian War American Victory
Cape Colony 1795 South Africa 4,400 First Napoleonic War Allied Victory
Ballymore-Eustace 1798 Ireland 550 United Irishmen Rebellion British / Loyalist Victory
Naas 1798 Ireland 1,200 United Irishmen Rebellion British / Loyalist Victory
Kilcullen 1798 Ireland 750 United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish Victory
Carlow 1798 Ireland 1,700 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Tara Hill 1798 Ireland 4,700 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Oulart Hill 1798 Ireland 4,100 United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish Victory
Three Rocks 1798 Ireland 1,600 United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish Victory
Bunclody 1798 Ireland n/k United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Toberanierin 1798 Ireland n/k United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish Victory
New Ross 1798 Ireland 12,000 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Antrim 1798 Ireland 4,700 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Arklow 1798 Ireland 11,700 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Prosperous 1798 Ireland 650 United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish Victory
Foulksmills 1798 Ireland 6,000 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Vinegar Hill 1798 Ireland 29,000 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Castlebar 1798 Ireland 8,000 United Irishmen Rebellion United Irish / French Victory
Ballinamuck 1798 Ireland 28,000 United Irishmen Rebellion British Victory
Callantsoog 1799 Netherlands 22,000 First Napoleonic War Allied Victory
Krabbendam 1799 Netherlands 48,000 First Napoleonic War Allied Victory
Bergen (1799) 1799 Netherlands 52,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Alkmaar (1799) 1799 Netherlands 65,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory
Castricum 1799 Netherlands 52,000 First Napoleonic War French Victory

Battles of the 18th Century with British Involvement

 

Copyright ©2018 Savereo John