British Capture of Manila in 1762

I’ve heard the Seven Years War (aka the Pomeranian War or Third Silesian War in Europe, the French and Indian War in North America, and the Second Carnatic War in India) described as the first “world war”—in the sense that its battles took place all over the globe—but I hadn’t heard about the British assault on Manila until reading a review of Nicholas Tracy’s Manila Ransomed (U. Exeter Press, 1995) on

The British had conceived a bold plan to attack Manila even before Spain’s entry into the Seven Years war in January 1762. Their execution of that demonstrated their naval ascendancy and military prowess, but the aftermath highlighted the problems inherent in government through the East India Company.

The inspiration for the attack was as much dreams of loot as plans for commercial advantage or geopolitical advantage, and the expedition received limited support from the East India Company. But General William Draper and Vice Admiral Samuel Cornish managed to assemble in Madras a force of around 1750 soldiers (the 79th regiment, sepoys, and French deserters and other assorted troops), eight ships of the line, three frigates, and four store ships. Despite problems with elderly ships and the dangers of largely uncharted waters, all but two store ships arrived in Manila Bay on 23rd September 1762.

An immediate attack was a success. A landing south of Manila was followed by a bombardment and an assault, leading to a capitulation by October 7th. Acting governor Archbishop Antonio Rojo provided uninspiring leadership and surrendered the citadel and the port of Cavite as soon as the city fell.

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Filed under Philippines, U.K., war

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