Saint Vincent, Cape, off
Battle of Cape St. Vincent, 16 Jan 1780
Where: 37.035 -13.372 Saint Vincent, Cape, off
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"Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1780)"
The Battle of Cape St Vincent, took place off the southern coast of Portugal on 16 January 1780 during the American War of Independence. A British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a Spanish squadron under Don Juan de Lángara. The battle is sometimes referred to as the Moonlight Battle, because it was unusual for naval battles in the Age of Sail to take place at night. It was also the first major naval victory for the British over their European enemies in the war, and proved the value of copper sheathing the hulls of warships.
Admiral Rodney was escorting a fleet of supply ships to relieve the Spanish siege of Gibraltar with a fleet of about twenty ships of the line when he encountered Lángara's squadron south of Cape St. Vincent. When Lángara saw the size of the British fleet, he attempted to make for the safety of Cadiz, but the copper-sheathed British ships chased his fleet down. In a running battle that lasted from mid-afternoon until after midnight, the British captured four Spanish ships, including Lángara's flagship. Two other ships were also captured, but their final disposition is unclear: some Spanish sources indicate they were retaken by their Spanish crews, while Rodney's report indicates the ships were grounded and destroyed.
After the battle Rodney successfully resupplied Gibraltar and Minorca before continuing on to the West Indies station. Lángara was released on parole, and was promoted to lieutenant general by King Carlos III