The Battle of Cape St. Vincent (14 February 1797)

The battle of Cape St.Vincent was a smashing defeat to the Spanish in the French Revolutionary Wars. The British had a much smaller fleet but still managed to make off with four Spanish ships as captures. The origins of the battle lie with the British Mediterranean fleet needing to escape the Mediterranean. After Spain's declaration of war on Britain, it's position in the Mediterranean was extremely vulnerable. So their Mediterranean fleet was scampering away. Then news came of the Spanish fleet doing some manoeuvres to try and link up with the French Fleet at Brest. The British Commander; John Jervis could not resist a challenge and sailed to intercept the Spanish. He was brought news of the Spanish position by then Commodore Horatio Nelson; who had sailed right through the Spanish fleet, which had not been able to see his ship through thick fog. Jervis then made plans to attack. He formed two lines of attack, and pierced the Spanish fleet with these. The battle was easily won by the British with superior gunnery and seamanship. Nelson in particular distinguished himself by capturing two Spanish ships. He captured one by boarding from his own ship, HMS Captain, and after that one was captured, he and his boarding party jumped from the newly captured ship to another Spanish ship, and capturing it too. This manoeuvre became known as "Nelson's patent bridge for boarding enemy vessels.".