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Teaching Resources: Napoleonic Wars

 

British Invasions of the Spanish colonies on the River Plate

 
Connaught Rangers

 

Three separate actions as part of the one idea, undermine Spain who was then the ally of France with who Britain had been at war in what are known as the Napoleonic Wars:

  • 1806, June 26th to August 12th: Buenos Aires
  • 1806, October 29th to 1807, February 3rd: Montevideo
  • 1807, June 7th to July 5th: Buenos Aires
 

Causes of the “South American Campaign” (1806-1807)

South American colonial overtures to the British for help in overthrowing Spanish rule had fallen on deaf ears until 1806 when a small British force seized the Cape Colony from the Dutch.  Acting on his own initiative and without London's knowledge, Sir Home Popham sailed from Cape Town on 14 Apr. 1806 with a small force (1640 men) to invade the Rio Plata.

Watercolour painting of HMS Raisonable from Lt Samuel Walter's diary.
 

The British fleet was comprised of:
HMS Ardent, HMS Diadem, HMS Diadem, HMS Diomede, HMS Encounter, HMS Lancaster, HMS Leda , HMS Leda, HMS Medusa, HMS Melanton, HMS Narcissus, HMS Ocean, HMS Raisaonable, HMS Triton,
HMS Unicorn, HMS Walker, HMS Wellington

 
Chronology of the “South American Campaign” (1806-1807)
 
Sir Home Popham
Col. William Carr Beresford
Sir Samuel Auchmuty
Col. Robert Craufurd
Virrey Rafael de Sobre Monte
Santiago de Liniers
Juan Martín de Pueyrredón
St. Helena Regisment
20th Light Dragoon Officer
Royal Marine
1806.04.14: British invasion force left Cape Town for the Rio Plata
1806.06.25: invasion party under Col. William Carr Beresford landed near Buenos Aires
1806.06.27: British force captured Buenos Aires (city of 70,000 inhabitants) 
1806.08.12: the colonials, no more enthused about the British presence than they were of the Spanish, rallied and captured the whole British force; prisoners were sent deep into the interior; some married and settled there
1806.10: not knowing the fate of the first force, Sir Samuel Auchmuty sent reinforcements from the Cape
1806.10: advance force under Lt-col. Backhouse held the island of Goretti for three months until main force arrived
1807.01: main force under Auchmuty arrived
1807.02.03 main force (6300 men) Auchmuty invested Montevideo
1807.05 Lt-Gen. John Whitelock arrived to take overall command from the disgraced Popham
1807.06: Col. Robert Craufurd left England with more reinforcements (4800 men) 1807.07.05:          leaving a garrison at Montevideo, Whitelock again attacked Buenos Aires;  after losing more than half his force killed and captured, Whitelock realised it was no longer possible to seize and hold the province
1807.07.07: Whitelock signed an agreement for the mutual restoration of prisoners and the withdrawal of the British from the province within ten days
 
First Invasion:  1806, June 26th to August 12th : Buenos Aires
Battles  

Riachuelo: June 26th
Cavalry:            
20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons ???
Infantry:            
71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (McLeod's Highlanders) - 889 officers and men (plus some women and children
The St. Helena Regiment - 183 officers and men
Royal Marines - 340 men
Royal Artillery - four 6 pound cannons,2 officers and 34 men
The St. Helena Artillery - two 5 ½  inch mortars 1 officer and 102 men
Royal Navy - 10 men
Engineers and commissary - 10 men

Buenos Aires: June 27
Cavalry:           
20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons ????
Infantry:           
71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (McLeod's Highlanders)
The  St. Helena Regiment
Royal Marines

Pedriel: Aug. 1
Cavalry:             n/a
Infantry:           
71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (McLeod's Highlanders)
The St. Helena Regiment
Blandengues
Buenos Aires: Aug. 10-12
Cavalry:           
20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons ????
Infantry:           
71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (McLeod's Highlanders)
The St. Helena Regiment
Royal Marines
 

Second Invasion: 1806, October 29th to 1807, February 3rd : Montevideo

Battles:  
Maldonado: 1806, Oct. 29
Infantry:  First Battalion, 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot
Goretti: 1806, Oct. 30
Infantry:  First Battalion, 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot
Montevideo 1807, Jan. 19 - Feb. 3    
Cavalry:          
77th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge's Own)
20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
21st Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Infantry:           
First Battalion, 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot
First Battalion, 40th (the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
First Battalion, 47th (the Lancashire) Regiment of Foot
First Battalion, 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
71st (Glasgow Highland Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot  (1 coy)
First Battalion, 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot
First Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot (3 coys)
Second Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot
RN, Naval Brigades, Land Force
Artillery:Royal Regiment of Artillery (6 guns)
 
Third Invasion: 1807, June 7th to July 5th : Buenos Aires
Battles:  
San Pedro, June 7  
Cavalry:         
9th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Infantry:        
1st Battalion, 40th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot
2nd Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot (raised at Canterbury)
54th Regiment of Foot
Miserere, July 2 
Cavalry:
Infantry:
Buenos Aires, July 5 
Cavalry:           
6th Regiment of Dragoon Guards
9th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
17th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Infantry:            
1st Battalion, 5th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 36th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 38th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 40th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 45th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 47th Regiment of Foot
54th Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 87th (The Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot
1st Battalion, 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers)
1st Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot
2nd Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot

Some results of the “South American Campaign” (1806-1807)

  1. Popham and Whitelock were court-martialled. 
  2. The United Provinces of South America began a revolution in 1810, which resulted in declaration independence from Spain in 1816.

Menzies Tartan - associated with the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (McLeod's Highlanders)

 

HMS Narcissus
HMS Unicorn

 

 
 
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