Battle of Cape St. Vincent

Battle of Cape St Vincent by Robert CleveleyThe Battle of Cape St. Vincent took place on the 14th  February 1797 off the coast of Portugal.

The Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jervis with 15 ships of the line defeated a Spanish fleet of 27 ships under the command of Vice-Admiral Don José de Córdoba Y Ramos.


The Spanish fleet was formed in two loose columns, one of about 18 ships to windward and the other, of about 9 ships, somewhat closer to the British. The single British steered to pass between the two Spanish columns.

The British line, led by Culloden, tacked in succession to reverse course and overhaul the larger Spanish column. The smaller Spanish division engaged the British line at the point they were tacking and some British ships were damaged and fell out of the line. As the last ship in the British line passed the end of the main Spanish line, the British line was in a U shape with Culloden in the lead and on the reverse course but chasing the rear of the Spanish. The Spanish lee division bore up in an effort to join their compatriots. Nelson, in Captain, towards the rear of the British line, disobeying previous ordered Captain Miller to take Captain out of line and engaged tthe smaller group. Other British ships from both ends of the line CullodenExcellentBlenheim and Prince George, supported this and prevented the two Spanish groups combining. The Captain was now under fire from up to as six Spanish ships, three of  112 guns and including Cordóba's flagship Santísima Trinidad (130).

San Nicolás ran foul of San José, and they were boarded and taken by Captain, whilst 2 other Spanish ships struck to the supporting ships.

Novels based around this battle.

  Ships Guns Captain Ships fate
British Fleet      
UK Culloden 74 Thomas Troubridge  
UK Blenheim 90 Thomas Lenox Frederick  
UK Prince George 98

Flag - Rear Admiral William Parker
Cptn. - John Irwin

UK Orion 74 James Saumarez  
UK Colossus 74 George Murray  
UK Irresistible 74 George Martin  
UK Victory 100 Flag - Admiral Sir John Jervis
Cptn. of the Fleet - Robert Calder
Cptn. - George Grey
UK Egmont 74 John Sutton  
UK Goliath 74 Charles H. Knowles  
UK Barfleur 98 Flag - Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave
Cptn. - James Richard Dacres
UK Brittania 100 Flag - Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson
Cptn. - Thomas Foley
UK Namur 90 James Hawkins Whitshed  
UK Captain 74 Flag - Commodore Horatio Nelson (Wounded)
Cptn. - Ralph Willett Miller
UK Diadem 64 George Henry Towry  
UK Excellent 74 Cuthbert Collingwood  
Spantish Fleet      
Spain Santísima Trinidad 130 Flag - Vice-Admiral Don José de Córdoba Y Ramos.
Cptn. - ? 
Badly damaged
Spain Conde de Regla 112 ?  
Spain Mexicano 112 Flag - Admiral P. De Cárdenas
Cptn. - F de Herrera 
Spain Principe de Asturias 112 Flag - Admiral J. Moreno
Cptn. - A. De Escaño
Spain Purísima Concepcion 112 Flag - Admiral Morales de los Ríos
Cptn. - ? 
Spain Salvador del Mundo 112 D. A. Yepes UK Captured
Spain San José 112 Flag - Admiral Francisco Javier Winthuysen
Cptn. - ? 
UK Captured
Spain Neptuno 80  
Spain San Nicolas 80 T. Geraldino UK Captured
Spain Atlante 74 G. Vallejo  
Spain Bahama 74 ?  
Spain Conquistador 74 J. Butler  
Spain Firme 74 B. Ayala  
Spain Glorioso 74 ?  
Spain Infante Pelayo 74 C. Valdés  
Spain Oriente 74 J. Suárez  
Spain San Antonia 74 S. Medina  
Spain San Domingo 74 M. De Torres  
Spain San Fermin 74 J. De Torres  
Spain San Francisco de Paula 74 J. De Guimbarda  
Spain San Genaro 74 A. de Villavicencio  
Spain San Ildefenso 74 R. Maestre  
Spain San Juan Nepomuceno 74 A. Boneo  
Spain San Pablo 74 B. de Cisneros  
Spain San Isidoro 74 T. Argumosa UK Captured
Spain Soberano 74 J. V. Yáñez  
Spain Terrible 74  
British Fleet - Also Present      
UK Minerve 38 George Cockburn  
UK Lively 32 Lord Garlies  
UK Niger 32 Edward James Foote  
UK Southampton 32 James Macnamara  
UK La Bonne Citoyenne 20 Charles Lindsay  
UK Raven 18 Commander William Prowse  
UK Fox 10 Lieutenant John Gibson  
Spanish Fleet - Also Present      
Spain Atocha 34    
Spain Ceres 34    
Spain Diana 34    
Spain Matilda 34    
Spain Mercedes 34    
Spain Perla 34    
Spain Santa Brigida 34    


Position 11:35 Position 12:30 Position 13:05