Database:   Gracias a Dios, Cabo   Bartola Isl   Fort San Juan  

Nicaragua.

Other names:

What:
Mar 1780, Cabo Gracias a Dios, 3 weeks collecting troops
9 Apr 1780 Bartola Island, Horatio Nelson's first hand-to-hand combat.
29 Apr 1780 Fort San Juan surrendered after 6-day siege.
8 Nov 1780 Fort San Juan demolished.

Where:
14.98335, -83.16674, Mar 1780, Cabo Gracias a Dios, 3 weeks collecting troops
11.118178, -84.704321, Bartola Island, Horatio Nelson's first hand-to-hand combat.
11.1183, -84.7756, Fort San Juan, Fort San Juan surrendered after 6-day siege.
11.1183, -84.7756, Fort San Juan, Fort San Juan demolished.

Maps: [map notes]

  • 14.98335, -83.16674, Cabo Gracias a Dios, 3 weeks collecting troops
  • AcmeMap
  • Google Aerial or hybrid.
  • Mapquest. Aerial or street view. Zoom out 1 time.
  • WikiMapia.
  • Confidence: 5

  • 11.118178, -84.704321, Bartola Island, Horatio Nelson's first hand-to-hand combat. Projected 5 miles downstream from Ft. San Juan
  • AcmeMap
  • Google Aerial or hybrid.
  • Mapquest. Aerial or street view. Zoom out 1 time.
  • WikiMapia.
  • Confidence: 3

  • 11.1183, -84.7756, Fort San Juan
  • AcmeMap
  • Google Aerial or hybrid.
  • Mapquest.
  • WikiMapia.
  • Confidence: 3

Sources:

  • Boatner: p.802. Cape Gracias á Dias. 3 weeks accumulating forces.

  • Cabo Gracias a Dios, Getty Thesaurus of Geographical Names

  • Piers Mackesy, War for America, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1993, p.226. Map shows Fort San Juan at the source of San Juan River on Lake Nicaragua. A modern town, San Carlos, is located in this vicinity. See 1764 map, below. Basis for site location of Fort San Juan.

  • "West Indies and Gulf Coast campaigns", Wikipedia. See "San Juan expedition, 1780".
    After Spain entered the war, Major General John Dalling, the British governor and commander-in-chief of Jamaica, proposed in 1780 an expedition to the Spanish province of Nicaragua. The goal was to sail up the San Juan River to Lake Nicaragua and capture the town of Granada, which would effectively cut Spanish America in half as well as provide potential access to the Pacific Ocean. Because of disease and logistical problems, the expedition proved to be a costly debacle.

    The expedition sailed from Jamaica on February 3, 1780, escorted by twenty-one year-old Captain Horatio Nelson in the Hinchinbroke. Nelson was the highest ranking officer present, but his authority was limited to naval operations. The overall commander was Captain (local rank of major) John Polson of the 60th Regiment, who recognized young Nelson's abilities and worked closely with him. Polson had about three to four hundred regulars of the 60th and the 79th Regiments, about 300 men of the Loyal Irish Corps raised by Dalling, as well as several hundred local recruits, including blacks and Miskito Indians.

    After many delays, the expedition began to move up the San Juan River on March 17, 1780. On April 9, Nelson—in the first hand-to-hand combat of his career—led an assault which captured a Spanish battery on the island of Bartola. Five miles (8 km) upstream was Fort San Juan*, with about 150 armed defenders and 86 others, which was besieged beginning on April 13. Because of poor planning and lost supplies, the British soon began to run low on ammunition for the cannons as well as rations for the men. After the tropical rains started on April 20, men began to sicken and die, probably from malaria and dysentery, and perhaps typhoid fever.

    Nelson was one of the first to become ill, and he was shipped downriver on April 28, the day before the Spanish surrendered the fort. About 450 British reinforcements arrived on May 15, but the blacks and the Indians abandoned the expedition because of illness and discontentment. Although Dalling persisted in trying to gather reinforcements, sickness continued to take a heavy toll, and the expedition was abandoned on November 8, 1780. The Spanish reoccupied the fort after the British departure. In all, more than 2,500 men died, which "made the San Juan expedition the costliest British disaster of the entire war."

    * Basis for site location of Bartola Island

  • Fort San Juan region, 1764:

    Ft San Juan

  • "..chart of the West Indies", 1764, Speer, Joseph Smith, Library of Congress

  • Modern map of Nicaragua.

  • Modern map of Costa Rica.

  • Map of Nicaragua from Univ. of Texas.

  • Map of Costa Rica from Univ. of Texas.

  • Map, Archive "Naval Battles 1776-1800". Not found.

  • "Sailing Navies: Chronology - 1775 to 1799". Not listed.

  • Maps: Central America and the Caribbean

  • RevWar75   not found.

    Related sites: Black River, Rattan

    Confidence level: see above.

    12-2-16