The Moonlight Battle: the Battle off Cape St Vincent, 16 January 1780
An unusual representation of the Moonlight battle, during the War of American Independence, 1775-1783. Cape St Vincent is on the south coast of Portugal and the site of several important naval actions, including this battle. Sir George Rodney was appointed flag officer in the Leeward Island in the autumn of 1779 and it was decided to increase his squadron's size so he could convoy supplies to beleaguered Gibraltar and to Minorca. This convoy sailed from Plymouth on 29 December. On 16 January it sighted a Spanish convoy of 22 ships, west of Cape Finisterre heading for their home port of Cadiz, 100 miles to the south. This valuable convoy, which included a 64-gun ship, three frigates and a sloop were all captured, after Rodney had ordered a general chase. Battle commenced at 16:00 and at 16:40 the Spanish 'San Domingo' blew up and sank with all hands. Darkness fell soon after and the chase continued through the night, until 02:00. Despite fighting at night and in difficult, stormy conditions, Rodney did not lose any of his own fleet.
Dominic Serres, the Elder
- Image reference: BHC0430
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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