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The Conquest of Rio de la Plata was an action undertaken by British forces commanded by General Robert McRoberts during the Anglo-Spanish War. The conquest of Rio de la Plata left the Spanish Viceroyalty in British hands as an autonomous Dominion of the British crown led by Viceroy Robert McRoberts .

Rio de la plata

Flag of the British Dominion of Rio de la Plata

Background

The British had long been interested in acquiring the Rio de la Plata region. The area contained vast riches, and was an ideal location for European settlement. Perhaps more important, British control of the region meant it could strike at Lima, the heart of Spain's new world empire. In the 1730's during one of the many Anglo-Spanish wars, the British made a bid to capture the Rio de la Plata region. Unfortunately for the British, the expedition was a complete disaster, and much of the British force was killed or taken prisoner after a failed assault on Buenos Aires. This failure deterred the British from further action for many years, until War with Spain broke out again in 1744.

The Idea to mount another invasion of the Rio de la Plata was suggested by General Robert McRoberts as part of his strategy to defeat Spain. McRoberts argued that, by taking Spanish possessions on the periphery, the British would have guaranteed gains that would be useful in counteracting possible losses in Europe. However, due to the fear of a Spanish Invasion of Hannover, no British troops were granted to McRoberts. Undeterred, McRoberts set sail to British North America, where he hoped he could use political connections to muster a British force to attack the Rio de la Plata. McRoberts managed to conjure up a force of 7,500 militiamen, and was able to obtain transportation aboard Merchant vessels to Rio de la Plata. The Invasion force landed in May of 1744.

Battle of Montevideo

On May 29, 1744, lead elements British force led by Mcroberts landed outside of the town of Teresea on the Atlantic Coast. The small town, defended by only a dozen militiamen, fell without any resistance. Mcroberts and his force waited in the town for about a week, as the rest of the expeditionary force arrived. However, by the time Mcroberts and his army set off to Montevideo, word had reached the city of his presence, and the Spanish Army had begun fortifying the city in preparation for an attack.

McRoberts and his army arrived at Montevideo late during the night of June 9, 1744, McRoberts immediately put the city under siege. The cannons found in the city of Teresea were trained on the Eastern Wall of the city, and the walls of the city were bombarded for 24 hours straight. In the middle of the night, McRoberts sent a few regiments in the middle of the night to search for a breach in the city walls. The Spanish sentinels spotted the scouts, and began firing upon the British. The Spanish inflicted heavy casualties on the British, and turned them back, but not before a regiment from North Carolina spotted a small breach in the walls.

Early in the morning, McRoberts led an assault on Montevideo. McRoberts planned to head through the breach in the walls, then open the gates of the city from within so the rest of the British force could get into the city. Heading through the breach in the wall. McRoberts and his force took heavy fire from Spanish in fortified positions, and from Spanish snipers shooting from the town Cathedral. McRoberts himself was hit in the left shoulder, and was temporarily taken out of command. Robert's lieutenant, Samuel Auchmuty took over command, and managed to seize and open the town gates. After the gates of Montevideo were opened, British forces poured into the city. Much of the city was captured by the end of June 10, except for the Cathedral and Citadel in the center of the city. The Cathedral was captured a few days later, though the Citadel held out for another week. During the night of June 18, the Spanish force in the Citadel retreated under the cover of night, and escaped the city before they could be captured.

The Capture of Montevideo allowed McRoberts to utilize the cities arsenal for his forces. The city of Montevideo also provided McRoberts a base of operations, for later campaigns. The assault on Montevideo cost the British 150 lives, Spanish dead was close to 100, with a few hundred more taken Prisoner during the Assaults on the city. After the city was pacified, and a garrison of loyal locals was established, McRoberts led his army to the town of Colonia, where the Spanish regrouped. The Battle of Colonia was a British victory, but the Spanish narrowly managed to escape before being completely cut off. The Spanish army managed to retreat to Buenos Aires, the seat of the Spanish viceroy, by destroying bridges over the Uruguay and Parana rivers, which slowed down the British advance. McRoberts resolved to press on to Buenos Aires, and capture the city for Britain.

Siege of Buenos Aires

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Assault on Corodoba

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The Conquest of the Desert

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Capture of the Falklands

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The Advance up the Rivers

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Into the Andes

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Pacification of the Pacific

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Aftermath of the Conquest

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