Battle of Cabrita Point - Prelude


The allies had conquered Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Habsburg on 1 August 1704. The Spanish besieged the city by land, and in that year, the French had made a first failed attempt to attack from the sea in the Battle of Vélez-Málaga.

In January 1705 Philip V of Spain was determined to reconquer the city and had Villadarias replaced by Marshal de Tessé. Tessé realized that Gibraltar would never be retaken as long as the allies could access it from the sea. He therefore ordered Admiral Pointis to block up the place by sea with his squadron of 18 ships of the line. Some of these ships were Spanish under José Fernández de Santillán. Gibraltar was not a permanent harbour yet for the English fleet, which was anchored in Lisbon at the time.

The commander of Gibraltar, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, despatched an express to Lisbon, desiring Sir John Leake to sail to his assistance. This admiral set sail immediately with five sail of the line and a body of troops. By the morning of 10 March, he had a squadron of 23 English, eight Portuguese ships of various sizes, and four Dutch.

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