Spanish Galleys in 1740

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Cy
Admiral of the Fleet
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 1:10 pm

Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by Cy »

I have recieved the following request for information, can anyone help?

"I am tiring to find any information on the half galleys that were sent from Havana to St.Augustine in during the siege of 1740. Did the galley have names? Are their any drawings or paintings?

Thanks Jim"
OK, it was me, probably!
Navclio
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Re: Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by Navclio »

There might be some information in The Spanish Official Account of the Attack on the Colony of Georgia, in America, and of Its Defeat on St. Simons Island, Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. 7, Part 3 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1913), concerning a Spanish attack in 1742, which might possibly have made use of the "half-galleys" that defended St. Augustine in 1740. I'm sure there are no drawings of them.

Seaforth Publishing has Spanish Warships in the Age of Sail in preparation by Rif Winfield, Enrique García-Torralba Pérez, John M. Tredrea, and Manuel Blasco. I don't know whether it will include rowed warships. There is a strict embargo on any pre-publication information: one of the contributors told me he could "neither confirm nor deny" whether named navy vessels that I had found in my research on naval operations in the 1740s would be included. (The position of the principal Spanish contributor is that if he has not found a vessel, its mention elsewhere is a mistake, myth, or lie.)

About the 1740 campaign, I have written, "There was some fighting inshore between smaller British warships and their boats and Spanish 'half-galleys' and launches, but the British did not have shallow-draft boats large enough to seize control of or even contest the waters separating San Agustín from the mainland and from the barrier spit and island that the British occupied." A footnote explains, "For instance, the Spanish half galleys mounted 9-pounders but the largest pieces that could be mounted in the ships’ boats available to the British were 3-pounders." The source for this statement is James P. Herson, Jr., A Joint Opportunity Gone Awry: The 1740 Siege of St. Augustine (Fort Leavenworth, Kans.: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 1997), 21–27. I am certain that Herson did not include any drawings.

The half-galleys were probably built at Havana, where the shipyard could and did build ships of the line. They might have had plans, but they might have been built by skilled shipwrights without the extensive paraphernalia common for large sailing ships by the middle of the 18th century. If any plans were drawn and still exist, the best place to look for them would probably
be in Havana.
floridareef
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Re: Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by floridareef »

Attached an illustration from my book "More Shipwrecks of Florida" depicting a pirate galley attacking a merchant ship between Florida and Cuba, so hopefully is the type that would have been around Florida in the 1700's. I checked John Harbron's book, Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy, which has a chapter on Cuba and lists all the Spanish naval ships built at the Havana shipyard between 1700-1800, though no galleys(galeras) listed as being built there. Not to say none were built in Cuba or maybe not assigned to the Navy.
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Navclio
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Re: Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by Navclio »

I have never seen any references to Spanish navy galleys in the West Indies. There are numerous detailed studies of the shipyard at Havana, more comprehensive than Harbron: no galleys were built there, period. Note that the term "galley" was used outside the Baltic and Mediterranean for sailing ships that could also be rowed. The British navy had a number of warships named "_____ Galley" (Mary Galley, Dursely Galley etc.) They were not long, narrow ships with lots of oars, benches for the rowers, and artillery only on a platform over the bow, but conventional sailing ships that were small enough to be rowed very slowly in a calm or if dismasted. In the first half of the 18th century, British 20-gun frigates had sweeps and ports for them, and could be rowed in this manner, even if they weren't named "_____ Galley." When French frigate Volage was dismasted in an action with British 64-gun ship of the line Stirling Castle in 1746, the crew tried to row to a fairly distant shore, to no avail. So we cannot assume that anything in the Caribbean labelled a "galley" was identical to or even resembled the galleys of the Mediterranean and Baltic. Even those vessels spent most of their travel time under sail, of course, and i believe that was true of B.C. galleys as well. Rowing is an exhausting business, to be used only in battle. The French had a large number of galleys in the 1740's, before they suppressed the separate galley service and integrated its officer corps into the sailing navy, and the Spanish still had a few. Some were burned at Cannes by a British fireship attack at St. Tropez in 1742 and I think they still had a couple left over at the end of that war in 1748.
PDeclan
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Re: Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by PDeclan »

Being the topic Spanish galleys you might find interesting Abraham Nasatir's "Spanish War Vessels on the Mississippi". Even though the topic is the Spanish brown waters flotilla in the Spanish period on Louisiana, particularly in 1790's, there are at leat six row galleys cited in the text. Following their names in other sources, some of them were still in use for costal patrol outside the Mississippi, at Spanish West Florida in 1800's first decade.
This is my first post in this forum, have mercy on me if you find it too off-topic ;)
Tu regere imperius fluctus hispaniae memento
sgtfox
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Re: Spanish Galleys in 1740

Post by sgtfox »

In 1972, I wrote to the late wargame designer Dave Arneson seeking information on the Spanish Navy. He was kind enough to send me a page from "The International Wargamer." The page was his list of the vessels in the Spanish Navy for the year of 1792. Unfortunately, he didn't mention his sources. All vessels show the date of their launch, except for the entry on galleys. He showed the following: San Bruno (10), Anunciacion (8), Santa Maria Magdalena (8), San Juan Bautista (3), Chicla (14), Carlotta (10), Santa Isabel (10), Gertrudis (10), Santa Justa (3). A few years ago, I scanned the page and sent it to John Tredrea. He was mainly interested in frigates but sent his appreciation. We'll just have to wait for his book to find the answer to the mystery of Spanish galleys.
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