The Battle of Cabrita Point, sometimes referred to as the Battle of
Marbella, was a naval battle that took place while a combined
Spanish-French force besieged
Gibraltar on 10 March 1705 (21 March
1705 in the New Calendar) during the War of Spanish Succession.
The battle was an allied victory (English, Portuguese and Dutch) which
effectively ended the Franco-Spanish siege of Gibraltar.
2 The battle
The allies had conquered
Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles
of Habsburg on 1 August 1704. The Spanish besieged the city by land,
and in that year, the French had made a first failed attempt to attack
from the sea in the Battle of Vélez-Málaga.
In January 1705 Philip V of
Spain was determined to reconquer the city
and had Villadarias replaced by Marshal de Tessé. Tessé realized
Gibraltar would never be retaken as long as the allies could
access it from the sea. He therefore ordered Admiral Pointis to block
up the place by sea with his squadron of 18 ships of the line. Some of
these ships were Spanish under José Fernández de Santillán.
Gibraltar was not a permanent harbour yet for the English fleet, which
was anchored in
Lisbon at the time.
The commander of Gibraltar, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt,
despatched an express to Lisbon, desiring Sir
John Leake to sail to
his assistance. This admiral set sail immediately with five sail of
the line and a body of troops. By the morning of 10 March, he had a
squadron of 23 English, eight Portuguese ships of various sizes, and
Cabrita Point in 1843
Leake's fleet reached the Strait late on the 9th, and laid to during
the night. The next morning at about 5.30 a.m., they were within two
miles of Cabrita Point, when they saw five sail coming out of the Bay.
These proved to be the French ships Magnanime (74), Lys (86), Ardent
(66), Arrogant (60), and Marquis (66). They made at first towards the
Barbary Coast, but, finding that they were being gained upon, stood
for the Spanish coast. At 9 a.m. Sir
Thomas Dilkes in
HMS Revenge, with the Newcastle, Antelope and a Dutch man-of-war,
got within gunshot of Arrogant, which, after a slight resistance,
struck. Before 1 p.m. two Dutch ships took Ardent and Marquis;
Magnanime and Lys were driven ashore to the westward of Marbella.
Magnanime, in which De Pointis had his flag, ran ashore with so much
force that all her masts went by the board. The French subsequently
burned Magnanime and Lys.
The rest of the French squadron had been blown from their anchorage by
a gale and had taken shelter in the bay of Málaga. They now slipped
their cables and made their way to Toulon.
The Marshal de Tessé, in consequence of this disaster, turned the
Gibraltar into a blockade, and withdrew the greater part of
his forces on 31 March. Pointis retired from active service after this
Leake had not only scored a remarkable victory, but had saved
Gibraltar from attack and had enhanced his already high
^ Blackmore, David S.T. Warfare on the Mediterranean in the Age of
Sail a History, 1571-1866. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., Publishers.
p. 113. ISBN 0786457848.
^ a b Clowes, William Laird (1898). The Royal Navy: A History From the
Earliest Times to the Present. Vol. II. London: Sampson Low, Marston
& Company. pp. 406–407. Retrieved 11 Fe