The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar

The Great Siege of Gibraltar Begins

The Great Siege of Gibraltar was an attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American War of Independence. This was the largest action fought during the war in terms of numbers, particularly the Grand Assault of 18 September 1782.

At three years and seven months, this was the longest siege endured by the British Armed Forces.

On 12 April 1779, France and Spain signed the Treaty of Aranjuez wherein they agreed to aid one another in recovering lost territory from Britain. Then, in June 1779, Spain declared war on Great Britain, France having done so the year before.

One of the many guns and embrasures within the Great Siege Tunnels.

One of the many guns and embrasures within the Great Siege Tunnels.

On June 24, 1779 France and Spain sought to secure Gibraltar, which was a key link in Britain’s control of the Mediterranean Sea, and expected its capture to be relatively quick—a precursor to a Franco-Spanish invasion of Great Britain.

News of the Siege reached the Americans in dribs and drabs as shown in these short paragraphs from The Pennsylvania Gazette.

On Tuesday last Capt. Coilier arrived at Salem, in 34 days from Nantz. The letters are not yet come to town; but by a gentlemen who came passenger in this vessel we are informed, that the Spaniards continue vigorously to push the siege of Gibraltar ; that the forces which were employed for the reduction of Minorca, after possessing themselves of the whole island, to the environs of St. Philip, and carried their approaches very near that fortress, and out of the water from the garrison, which it was expected would soon surrender. That the combined fleet having cruized for some time in the Channel, where no British squadron had ventured to face it, at length separated; the French returning to Brest, and the Spanish ships to Cadiz.

Source

Collection: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Publication: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Date: November 28, 1781
Title: Boston, November 15.


One word more on politics — The recovery of Gibraltar remains the fixed object of Spain: the siege is pertinaciously kept up; new measures and a new armament are in a train for the most determined attempts; and it is not improbable but that a grand assault will take place on or about the 25th of this month.

Source

Collection: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Publication: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Date: October 30, 1782
Title: Philadelphia, October 30.


Extract of another letter from the same place, dated Oct. 20.

Since our arrival, there have been six sail of the Jamaica fleet captured and brought in here by the revolution, Captain Webb, and the Cicero, Captain Hill, both belonging to Salem N.E. — Capt. Barry, in the Alliance, has also brought in 4 sail more of the above fleet. The fleet were convoyed by the Ville de Paris of 110 guns, the Ramilies, the Glorieux, The Centaur of 74 guns each, and some other ships — they met with a very heavy gale of wind, in which a number of the convoy was lost — the Ville de Paris lost her masts — the Ramilies was also dismasted and foundered 5 days after the gale, and all the crew perished except 40 — who were brought in the prizes. The Glorieux was so leaky before the gale as to be hardly able to float, and has not since been heard of . We are since informed that the Centaur was lost at sea. — The scattered remains of this fleet had not arrived when the last accounts left England. We have had a flying report of a Prince of the blood being killed at the siege of Gibraltar , but his wants confirmation.”

Source

Collection: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Publication: The Pennsylvania Gazette
Date: December 18, 1782
Title: Philadelphia, December 17.

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