16.06.

1779: Great Siege of Gibraltar: The Largest Battle of the American War of Independence actually Took Place in Europe

1779: Great Siege of Gibraltar: The Largest Battle of the American War of Independence actually Took Place in Europe
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 16 June 1779
  • The Great Siege of Gibraltar was the largest military action fought during the American War of Independence in terms of numbers. The Americans did not participate directly, but only their European allies, who decided to attack Great Britain at a strategic location.

On this day in the year 1779 the Great Siege of Gibraltar, a strategic promontory on the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, began.

This invasion took place during the American War of Independence, after France and Spain decided to support the Americans against the British.

The Great Siege of Gibraltar was the largest military action fought during the American War of Independence in terms of numbers (of course, the Americans did not participate directly, but only their European allies, who decided to attack Great Britain at a strategic location).

The attacking forces (French and Spanish) in the Great Siege of Gibraltar numbered about 63,000 soldiers, sailors and marines (troops disembarked from ships and into the battle).

The British at first defended Gibraltar with only about five thousand men. Of course, the besiegers blocked Gibraltar from land and sea, blocking the arrival of any outside help. This placed the defenders in a difficult situation, especially due to lack of food (scurvy began to appear).

The commander of Gibraltar’s defense was George Augustus Eliott, who was later created Lord Heathfield for his efforts. Despite the Spanish-French blockade, two British fleets managed to reach Gibraltar and bring aid to exhausted defenders.

The besiegers tried to break the defenses by launching a grand direct attack, but they failed. After about three and a half years, the siege was broken.

Although they saved Gibraltar, the British lost the war in America, and the United States achieved independence.

The British have held Gibraltar since 1704. Since they managed to defend it during the Great siege, they have kept it to this day – Gibraltar has been in British hands for more than 300 years.

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