Bombardment of the Morro Castle, Havana, 1 July 1762

An interpretation of the Capture of Havana, the last major operation of the Seven Years War, 1756-63, which took place between June and 11 August 1762. This constituted the largest amphibious operation mounted by Britain, with over 15,000 troops involved. Late in 1761, Spain entered the Seven Years War in support of France. The British Government immediately planned offensive operations against Spain's overseas possessions, in particular Havana, which was the capital of the western dominions, with Manila the capital of the eastern. The campaign involved several members of the Keppel family, with the Earl of Albemarle in overall military command and his brother Augustus, a Commodore and second-in-command of the naval force. The chief naval command fell to Sir George Pocock, whose force consisted of 22 ships of the line, four 50s, three 40s, a dozen frigates and a dozen sloops and bombs. As well as these ships, there were troopships, storeships and hospital ships. A landing was made, without opposition, six miles east of the Morro Castle, on 7 June. On first of July, the 'Cambridge', 80 guns, 'Marlborough', 70 guns, and 'Dragon', 74 guns, were ordered to bombard the castle but they received more punishment than they inflicted and one by one had to be recalled. On 30 July a breach was made with mines in a wall of the castle and this enabled the British to take it by storm.

After the capture of the castle, the fall of Havana was only a matter of time and occurred on 11 August. In addition to stores and valuables up to the value of £3,000,000, nine Spanish ships of the line were captured and two on the stocks were burnt. In Paton's interpretation, the 'Marlborough' is on the left and the 'Dragon' is in the middle, wearing Captain Hervey's signal to attack of a red flag at the fore. The 'Cambridge' is on the right. She is wearing a red ensign in the mizzen shrouds, as a signal that her captain, William Goostrey, is dead. The boat in the foreground is taking Captain John Lindsay of the 'Trent', 28 guns, to the 'Cambridge', to assume command.

Havana is depicted in the background to the left and the Morro Castle is visible immediately behind the three principal ships. The British victory was tempered by the fact that they did not attempt a rapid surprise attack and the delay brought considerable losses. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, they also had to return the city to the Spanish in 1763.

Paton started his painting career as an assistant to a ship's painter on Sir Charles Knowles' ship, and he rose to become one of the principal painters of naval actions of the 18th century.

Object Details

ID: BHC0407
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Paton, Richard
Events: Seven Years' War: Capture of Havana, 1762
Date made: Mid 18th century
People: Royal Navy
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Frame: 911 mm x 1168 mm x 111 mm;Overall: 27.6 kg;Painting: 762 mm x 1029 mm

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