The War Of Jenkins' Ear
Puerto Bello, Cartagena, and Chagres.—As soon as war appeared inevitable, orders were despatched to Jamaica to make reprisals and Admiral Edward Vernon, in command of nine war vessels, was sent to the West Indies. Hearing that the Spanish galleons would rendezvous at Cartagena and then sail to Puerto Bello, where bullion was waiting to be exchanged for merchandise, Vernon determined to attack Puerto Bello. On November 22, 1739, the place was captured and the fortifications demolished. On March 6 and 7, 1740, Cartagena was bombarded, and a part of the fleet then attacked and captured Chagres.
The Georgia frontier.—While these events were taking place, Oglethorpe was taking measures to strengthen the Georgia frontier. Hearing that the Spanish and French were tampering with the Indians, he visited Kawita, the principal Lower Creek village, where a conference was held with chieftains of many tribes, who acknowledged the sovereignty of George II. Upon his return to Augusta, Oglethorpe was visited by Chickasaw and Cherokee chiefs, who made complaint against the traders, but he succeeded in appeasing them. By these conferences the frontier was made safe from Indian depredations in the coming war. As soon as Oglethorpe received information that a state of war existed, he recruited his forces and sent runners to the Indian villages asking for a thousand warriors to coöperate against the Spaniards. Fortifications were strengthened and vessels patrolled the coast. In November, 1739, word came that the settlement on Amelia Island had been attacked. In retaliation the Spaniards were driven from their outposts on the St. John's. On January 1, 1740, Oglethorpe proceeded against Fort Picolata on the St. John's River, surprised and captured it, and shortly afterward Fort San Francisco de Papa, only twenty-one miles from St. Augustine, was reduced but later abandoned.
Attack on St. Augustine.—Oglethorpe determined to make an attempt to capture St. Augustine. He repaired to Charleston, where he succeeded in getting the assembly to pass an act to contribute five hundred men and a schooner. The mouth of the St. John's River was to be the rendezvous for the Carolina and Georgia troops. The Indians were asked to send forces to Frederica. Oglethorpe also obtained the coöperation of nine small vessels of the British fleet. Without waiting for a complete concentration of his forces, he entered Florida in May, 1740, and soon captured the Spanish outposts. He then concentrated his forces and moved against St. Augustine. Oglethorpe expected to capture it by a combined sea and land attack, but the fleet failed to coöperate and a siege had to be instituted. The city was closely invested until June 14, when a sortie succeeded in recapturing one of the outposts. A ship of war which had been guarding the Matanzas River was withdrawn and the Spaniards took advantage of the opportunity to land reinforcements and supplies from Havana. After a consultation between the naval and military commanders, Oglethorpe decided to give up the undertaking.
Spanish and English preparations.—The Spaniards, alarmed by English activities, in July, 1740, sent out a large squadron under Admiral Don Rodrigo de Torres. France was persuaded to proclaim her close alliance with Spain and she made known her decision not to allow England to make conquests or new settlements in the West Indies, but the death of the Emperor Charles VI determined her to stay out of the war for the time being. When news of Torres' fleet reached England, twenty large vessels, several frigates and small craft, and many transports carrying nine thousand troops were sent to the West Indies, where they arrived in December. "A fleet such as had never before been assembled in the waters of the New World was now at the disposal of the British commander." Commodore George Anson was also despatched around Cape Horn to the Pacific to prey upon Spanish commerce.
English failures.—In March, 1740, the English fleet anchored before Cartagena. From March 9 to April 11 the city was besieged, but lack of harmony between the commanders of the land and sea forces, and general mismanagement coupled with sickness among the besiegers, contributed to one of the most striking failures in English naval history. After destroying the works which had been taken, the expedition sailed for Jamaica and shortly afterward eleven of the heavier vessels and five frigates were withdrawn from the West Indian station. The English ministry also hoped to conquer Cuba, but an attack on Santiago failed as dismally as that on Cartagena. In 1742 the capture of Panamá by an overland expedition from Puerto Bello was planned, but after again occupying Puerto Bello the scheme was found to be impossible of attainment. The only success of the year was the occupation of Roatan Island off Honduras Bay. In October Vernon returned to England, leaving Oglethorpe in command of the West Indian station. An expedition along the Venezuelan coast failed as completely as other English ventures on the Spanish main.
The Georgia frontier, 1742-1743.—The failures of the English made it possible for the Spanish to assume the offensive, and forces estimated at about five thousand, besides a large fleet, were collected at St. Augustine for an attack upon Georgia. The Spanish attack was launched against the fortifications on St. Simon Island, but the spirited defence disheartened the invaders and they soon withdrew to St. Augustine. In March of the following year Oglethorpe retaliated by a descent on Florida and drove the Spanish within their defences at St. Augustine, but being too weak to attack the city, withdrew again to Georgia.
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