The Anglo–Spanish War (Spanish: Guerra Anglo-Española) was a military conflict fought between Britain and Spain as part of the Seven Years' War. It lasted from January 1762 until February 1763 when the Treaty of Paris brought it to an end.
For most of the Seven Years' War Spain remained neutral, turning down both the French and British, but during the war's latter stages, the Spanish became alarmed at the threat posed by the British to their colonies as French losses mounted. In anticipation of the Spanish entering the war on the French side, the British attacked Spanish colonies. In August 1762 a British expedition against Cuba took Havana and western Cuba, then a month later the British seized Manila. The loss of both the capitals of the Spanish West Indies and the Spanish East Indies represented a blow to Spanish prestige. Between May and November three major Franco-Spanish invasions of Portugal were defeated and they were forced to withdraw with heavy losses inflicted by the Portuguese with British assistance. In South America the Spanish succeeded in taking a strategically important port town but otherwise the skirmishes with the Portuguese there changed little.
By the Treaty of Paris Spain handed over Florida and Menorca to Britain and returned territories in Portugal and Brazil to Portugal in exchange for British withdrawal from Cuba. As compensation for their ally's losses, the French ceded Louisiana to Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau.
When war was declared between France and Great Britain in 1756, Spain had remained neutral through most of the war. King Ferdinand VI of Spain's prime minister Ricardo Wall effectively opposed the French party who wanted to enter the war on the side of France. Britain made an attempt to persuade Spain to join the war on their side, by offering Gibraltar in exchange for Spanish help in regaining Menorca, but this was rejected by Madrid. Everything changed when Ferdinand VI died in 1759 and was succeeded by his younger brother Charles III of Spain. Charles was more ambitious than his melancholy brother. One of the main objects of Charles's policy was the survival of Spain as a colonial power and, therefore, as a power to be reckoned with in Europe. He was alarmed by the British conquest of the French Empire in North America, and feared his own empire would be Pitt's next target. He concluded the Bourbon Family Compact with France, offering them practical support.
With evidence of growing Franco-Spanish co-operation, Pitt suggested it was only a matter of time before Spain entered the war. The prospect of war with Spain shattered the cabinet unity which had existed up to that point. Pitt strongly advocated a pre-emptive strike which would allow them to capture the annual plate fleet, denying Spain of its vital resources of wealth which were shipped in. The rest of the cabinet refused, and Pitt resigned. In spite of this war with Spain swiftly became unavoidable; by 1761, France looked like it was losing the war against Great Britain. Furthermore, Spain suffered from attacks by British privateers in Spanish waters, and claimed compensation.
Fearing that a British victory over France in the Seven Years' War would upset the balance of colonial power, Charles signed the Family Compact with France (both countries were ruled by branches of the Bourbon family) in August 1761. As a result, on 4 January 1762 Britain duly declared war on Spain.
From the British point of view the most pressing issue in the war with Spain was a threatened invasion of Portugal, which although a historic British ally, had, like Spain, remained neutral through most of the conflict. France persuaded a reluctant Spain into attacking Portugal and hoped that this new front would draw away British forces then directed against France. Portugal's long but rugged border with Spain was considered by the French to be vulnerable and easy to overrun (a view not shared by the Spanish), rather than the more complex effort needed to besiege the British fortress of Gibraltar. Spanish forces massed on the Portuguese border, ready to strike. Britain moved swiftly to support their Portuguese allies, shipping in supplies and officers to help co-ordinate the defence.
The original Spanish plan was to take Almeida and then to advance towards the Alentejo and Lisbon, but they switched their target to Porto as it would strike more directly at British commerce. Under the direction of the Marquis of Sarria Spanish troops crossed from Galicia into Northern Portugal capturing several towns. However, the thrust against Porto stalled in difficult terrain and due to the flooding of the River Esla. British troops began arriving that summer with 6,000 coming from Belle Île under Lord Loudoun and a further 2,000 from Ireland. On May 9 Spain invested and captured the border fortress of Almeida. A British-Portuguese counter-attack led by John Burgoyne captured the Spanish town Valencia de Alcántara. French forces began to arrive to support the Spaniards, but like their allies they began to suffer high levels of attrition through disease and desertion. In November with problems with their lines of supply and communication the Bourbon allies withdrew and sued for peace. Despite the large numbers of forces involved, there had been no major battles.
The Seven Years' War spilled over into Portuguese-Spanish conflict in their South American colonies. The South American war involved small colonial forces taking and retaking remote frontier areas and ended in a stalemate. The only significant action involving the British was against the Cevallos expedition, in which Spanish forces took and then defended the strategically important port town on the River Plate Colony of Sacramento.
In June 1762 British forces from the West Indies landed on the island of Cuba and laid siege to Havana. Although they arrived at the height of the fever season, and previous expeditions against tropical Spanish fortresses failed due, in no small part, to tropical disease, the British government was optimistic of victory—if the troops could catch the Spanish off-guard before they had time to respond. The British commander Albemarle ordered a tunnel to be dug by his sappers so a mine could be planted under the walls of the city's fortress. British troops began to fall from disease at an alarming rate, but they were boosted by the arrival of 4,000 reinforcements from America. On 30 July Albemarle ordered the mine to be detonated, and his troops stormed the fortress.
With Havana now in their hands, the British lay poised to strike at other targets in the Spanish main should the war continue for another year. However, they had suffered 1,800 deaths and more than 4,000 casualties during the siege—almost entirely from disease—and for the moment set about consolidating their hold on the countryside around Havana. During the year of British occupation, commerce in Havana boomed, as the port was opened up to trade with the British Empire rather than the restricted monopoly with Cadiz that had existed before.
In early 1762 William Lyttelton, the British governor of Jamaica, sent an expedition to Spanish Nicaragua by raiding along the San Juan river with the primary objective of capturing the town of Granada. The British force and a large group of Miskito Sambu settlers numbering two thousand men and more than fifty boats attacked and destroyed cocoa plantations in the Matina Valley. This was followed by the villages of Jinotega, Acoyapa, Lovigüisca, San Pedro de Lóvago, the mission of Apompuá near Juigalpa and Muy Muy being pillaged and burnt. Soon after on July 26 this force laid siege to the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception; the garrison of which numbered only around a hundred. The garrison commander, Lieutenant Colonel Don José de Herrera y Sotomayor, had died over a week before, but his 19-year-old daughter Rafaela inspired the garrison who forced the British to finally lift their siege and retreat six days later.
Almost as soon as war had been declared with Spain, orders had been despatched for a British force at Madras to proceed to the Philippines and invade Manila. A combined force of 10,700 men under William Draper set off from India in late July, arriving in Manila Bay in September 1762. They had to move swiftly before the monsoon season hit. On 6 October the British stormed the city, capturing it. A large amount of plunder was taken from the city after the Battle of Manila.
Spanish forces regrouped under Simon Anda, who had escaped from Manila during the siege. Rebellions fomented by the British were sabotaged by Spanish agents and crushed by Spanish forces. The British were prevented from extending their authority beyond Manila and the nearby port of Cavite. All agreements made between the British commander and Archbishop Rojo were dismissed as illegal. Eventually the British forces started to suffer troop desertions and dissensions within the command.
News of the city's capture didn't reach Europe until after the Treaty of Paris; as such no provision was made regarding its status. During the siege, the Spanish lieutenant governor had agreed to a four million payment in silver dollars to the British known as the Manila Ransom in exchange for sparing the city. The full amount however was never paid when word of what had happened in the Philippines reached Europe. The British expedition however was rewarded after the capture of the treasure ships Filipina, carrying American silver from Acapulco, and in a battle off Cavite the Santísima Trinidad which carried China goods. The cargo was valued at $1.5 million and the ship at $3 million. The Spanish government demanded compensation for crimes committed against the residents of Manila during the occupation and the controversy over the ransom demanded by the British and the compensation demanded by the Spanish lasted many years. The twenty month occupation of Manila ended in 1764.
Britain held a dominant position at the negotiations, as they had during the last seven years seized Canada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, Pondicherry, Senegal, and Belle Île from the French and Havana and Manila from the Spanish. Only one British territory, Menorca, was in enemy hands. Despite suffering a year of defeats, Spain was prepared to fight on—something which their French allies were opposed to. Bute proposed a suggestion that France cede her remaining North American territory of Louisiana to Spain to compensate Madrid for its losses during the war. This formula was acceptable to the Spanish government, and allowed Britain and France to negotiate with more legroom. France and Spain both considered the treaty that ended the war as being closer to a temporary armistice rather than a genuine final settlement, and William Pitt described it as an "armed truce". Britain had customarily massively reduced the size of its armed forces during peacetime, but during the 1760s a large military establishment was maintained—intended as a deterrent against France and Spain.