Posts Tagged ‘south america’

STEALING STUFF – ‘Panama, Peru and the Philipines’

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

 ‘Since the Age of Elizabeth 1, the British had had global ambitions in which possession of Central America offered the prospect of opening a path between the Atlantic and Pacific’.  Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America, Yale University Press, New Haven, London 2013


‘From  the first decades of their colonizations, the British had envied the Spanish the riches of bullion and production they obtained from the World. Drake’s and Hawkin’s raids were early and brutal manifestations of envy’. Alan Frost, Arthur Phillip His Voyaging 1738 – 1814, Oxford University Press, Auckland, London, 1987


[Commodore] George Anson’s voyage of 1740-44 marked a return to the earlier, more immediately effective, approach of decisive plundering; be it too had the broader dimension of subversion and future trade.

As well as with the treasure of the annual Manila galleon, Anson returned with developed ideas of how to open a trade along the Pacific coasts of America and he sought to implement  his scheme when he joined the Board of Admiralty in 1748.

‘From this time until well into the nineteenth century, whenever Britain was at war with Spain, administrations received proposals for expeditions against Spanish America’. Alan Frost, Arthur Phillip His Voyaging, Oxford University Press, 1987 p.106

RMore *********

ddddddd[1783] ‘The place New South Wales holds on our globe might give it a very commanding influence in the policy of Europe. If a colony from Britain was established in large tract of country, and if we were at war with Holland and Spain we might powerfully annoy either state from our new settlement.

We might with equal facility invade the coast of Spanish America, and intercept the Manilla ships [galleons] laden with the treasures of the west….Sir Joseph Bank’s highest approbation of the scheme which I have proposed deserves the most respectful attention’. James Maria Matra,  [Joseph  Bank’s] Plan for Botany Bay, 23 August 1783,  Frank Murcott, Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales 1892, Nabu Public Domain Reprint

eee1787England, 3 May: When the ‘First Fleet’ sailed from Portsmouth to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia, Governor Captain Arthur Phillip RN had with him ‘secret plans’ to attack Spain’s fabled South American ‘treasure’ colonies .See: Botany Bay – Lord Sydney, Arthur Philip & ‘Hush’ Christopher Robin’ Mark 2

ggggggg‘From the moment Spain joined France and the rebellious American colonies in the war [of Independence] in mid 1779, merchants, patriots, and adventurers bombarded [Prime Minister] North’s administration with proposals for damaging the Spanish in their American colonies’. Alan Frost. op.cit.


Among first of these proposals was the1799 San Juan expedition. This was brain-child of John Dalling now the military Governor of Jamaica.

Previously, during the Seven Years’ War 1756-63, Dalling had been wounded while serving under General James Wolfe in the North American theatre of that global conflict.

zzzzzIn mid September 1759 Quebec fell to the British. This marked the beginning of France’s loss of  Arcadia, New France, now Canada.


Twenty (20) years later in 1778, a vengeful France entered America’s Revolutionary War of Independence (1775-1783) in support of General George Washington’s Patriot rebels.

‘Both France and Spain had allowed clandestine aid to flow to the Americans since [1775 when]] that fighting started, but this was proving insufficient for the scale of the conflict’. Larrie D. Ferreiro., Brothers at Arm, American Independence, France and Spain and the Men Who Saved It’. First Vintage Books, New York, 2017

After France and Spain signed a formal alliance with George Washington massive amounts of French money, men, munitions and military know-how replaced sporadic ‘clandestine aid’. 

xxxxxxxxggggg San Juan – The Back Story

zzzzIn In June 1779 Spain allied with France and entered the American War.Around this time Governor Dalling, driven no doubt by Commodore George Anson’s earlier success (1744) began to plan an attack on Spanish Nicaragua.

Dalling’s Nicaraguan strategy aimed to break Spain’s domination of Central and South America. The plan had a lot to recommend it. If successful, a narrow isthmus would  cut South America in half.

Britain could then gain easy access from the Atlantic Coast across to the Pacific Coast leaving Chile and Peru vulnerable to pincer attack from land land forces and from the Royal Navy.

[San Juan – 1799] ‘The colours of England, were, in their imagination, already in the wall of Lima’. Roger Knight, The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson, Westview Press UK

Jamaica:  At Kingston Governor Dalling tasked Major John Polson with raising troops and gave him command of the San Juan Expedition.  Most were drawn from the Jamaican garrison and others garnered from brother units.

They melded with recruited or coerced locals, black and white, with little or no experience of warfare. Once on the battle-ground Polson’s men were to combine with experienced, well-armed regulars shipped across from Britain.

Early in 1780 a young Lieutenant Horatio Nelson RN, was given command of HMS Hinchinbrooke. Nelson was to escort a flotilla of seven (7) ships with approximately 3000 marines.

1780 – Kingston Harbour, February: The squadron departed Kingston for Nicaragua on 3rd of February 1780.

London:  Dalling’s Plan, along with most plans for the American theatre, had been assessed and approved in far-off London by Lord George Germain who had been appointed secretary of state for America in November 1775.

Throughout the American conflict Germain held stubbornly to the belief that First Nation Indians, indigenous to the area, and most slaves imported from West Africa, would welcome Britain’s intervention.

As for Spanish South America Germain, later Lord Sackville, was certain the oppressed would take the opportunity to turn against their Spanish oppressors and welcome his red-coats with open arms.


Nicaragua: Despite hostile terrain the British initially had success. Later communications became difficult in the dense tropical rain-forest.

1780 – March: By early March 1780 both food and ammunition were running low by early in March.The locals were no help and when British reinforcements failed to arrive in time the campaign faltered.

In April torrential rains brought progress to a halt. Polson’s men came down with yellow fever, malaria, dysentery and died like flies.

Honduras- Omoa: Like Major William Dalrymple at Omoa the previous year, September 1779, at Omoa, Honduras on the Mosquito Coast, Governor Dalling’s Nicragurian effort was unsuccessful and few invaders survived.

‘Only 10 of the 200 crew members [survived] from the twenty-eight gun frigate HMS Hinchinbrooke,commanded by [Horatio] Nelson who was himself forced to return [from San Juan] to Jamaica where he was nursed back to life by a slave woman, Cuba Cornwallis’.  O’Shaughnessy op.cit.

Lieutenant Horatio Nelson RN lived to fight another day. Britain’s most beloved hero died, in 1805, at the at Battle of Trafalgar.

Death by suicide? The question hangs in the air.