Battle of Vigo Bay

In 1702, the opening year of the War of Spanish Succession, a powerful fleet of Anglo-Dutch warships was assembled under Admiral Sir George Rooke, as Commander-in-Chief, to attack and capture Cadiz.

 

Some footholds were gained near the city but after six weeks of vacillation the allied fleet retired ignominiously on 18 September.

 

The prospect of returning empty-handed must have been daunting to Rooke. On his homeward journey he learned of a valuable Spanish treasure fleet that had anchored at Vigo Bay in north-west Spain.

 

Rooke arrived to discover that Chateaurenault, the French admiral, had laid a boom defence of masts across the inner harbour, covered by guns from sea and land, and had positioned his largest men-of-war to cover it.

 

On 23rd October, Admiral Thomas Hopsonn, aboard his flagship 'Torbay', 80 guns, was ordered to break the boom while the Duke of Ormonde's troops assaulted the forts.

 

The Anglo-Dutch fleet followed astern of Hopsonn, capturing every ship, including "Le Superbe", 70 guns, not already burnt by the French, along with considerable treasure.

Just about to break the boom in starboard-broadside view and firing her bow chasers, is the 'Torbay', followed by units of the allied fleet including the 'Zeven Provincien', 92 guns. Following the latter, however, on the left of the picture, in starboard-quarter view, is the fleet flagship 'Royal Sovereign', flying the red ensign.