The Battle of Malaga

Battle of Malaga
Painting of Malaga 1704
Painting by Isaac Sailmaker
Date:24 August 1704
Outcome:Alliance Strategic Victory
SpainUnited Provinces
Comte de ToulouseGeorge Rooke
Victor Marie d'EstréesCloudesley Shovell
Vilette MursayGerard Callenburgh
Marquis de Langeron

1 Malaga and Gibraltar

The Battle of Malaga was one of the largest naval battles of the eighteenth century. It was fought over the possession of Gibraltar. Therefore the description of the events leading to the battle can start from the day the alliance conquered Gibraltar on 4 August 1704. The reasons the Battle of Malaga was fought by two full battlefleets had to do with the naval strategies for 1704. It were these strategies that brought such large fleets on the scene in 1704.

2 Naval strategy in 1704

2.1 The French naval Strategy in 1704

The French naval strategy for 1704 was determined by Portugal having changed sides in 1703. Versailles therefore sent an army to Spain and wanted to have a strong fleet in the Mediterranean to counter any designs the alliance fleet might have. On 14 May 1704 the Comte de Toulouse therefore embarked on a 30 ship fleet at Brest. He sailed to Cadiz, and reached Toulon in early June. There the Mediterranean fleet had been somewhat less effective in its armanents. It was therefore only on 22 July that the Count of Toulouse sailed from Toulon with 50 ships of the line.

2.2 The Alliance naval Strategy in 1704

The alliance naval strategy for 1704 had as a primary goal to transport an army to Portugal and so to bring it firmly into the alliance. This operation had started in January, and after some problems the fleet had finally sailed from Portsmouth on 23 February. On 7 March the fleet had arrived in Lisbon and started to disembark this army. A second goal was to bring Charles III, pretender to the Spanish crown, to Portugal. The fleet and army should then aid him in conquering mainland Spain.

3 The conquest of Gibraltar

A long string of events that is not relevant to the description of the Battle of Malaga led to the alliance lacking any success in their 1704 campaign in Portugal. By chance it then stumbled on an opportunity to conquer Gibraltar. On 4 August 1704 it succeeded in taking Gibraltar and thus established a base that controled the entrance of the Mediterranean. This conquest of Gibraltar cost a lot of ammunition, and after the conquest an Anglo-Dutch fleet with depleted ammunition stores lay anchored in the bay.

The possession of Gibraltar was such a strategic advantage for the alliance that it immediately changed the naval strategies of the belligerents. For the alliance the primary strategical objective was to hold on to Gibraltar. For the French the strategical objective was to reconquer Gibraltar. Shortly after the conquest both objectives were almost directly dependent on controlling Girbaltar's access to the sea.

4 The opposing fleets

The Battle of Malaga is often considered as a general engagement of the battle fleets. From the French perspective this might indeed be the case. From the alliance perspective however, it was just a battle by a large fleet, not by their main battle fleet. The description of the fleets shows this.

4.1 The Anglo-Dutch fleet

The Anglo-Dutch fleet was composed of several fleets and squadrons. It started with a fleet of 14 English and 9 Dutch ships under Admiral Rooke. On their arrival at Lisbon in March they were joined by the fleet that had wintered in Portugal, it contained some English and 6 Dutch ships. A few days later Vice-Admiral Leake came in with some 3 English and 3 Dutch ships and troops. All this made that Admiral Rooke was then able to make a (failed) attempt on Barcelona with about 35 ships. It next tried and failed to prevent the junction of the French fleet in Toulon, and therefore Rooke had returned to the Straits in June. Here he was joined by an English fleet of 23 ships of the line under Admiral Clowdisley Shovell.

This fleet of 58 ships then captured Gibraltar in early August. Shortly after that the Dutch Aemilia (50) of Captain Van Leeuwen and three English Frigates left for Terceira to await Portuguese ships from Brazil. RA van der Dussen left for Lisboa with the Veluwe (68), Aemilia (64), Veere (60), Overijssel (50) and Schieland (50) in order to escort a merchant fleet from there to Plymouth. From the English ships the Hampton Court (70), Tiger (50), Antelope (50) and Leopard (50) were absent because of convoy duties.

From all this one can deduce that the Anglo-Dutch had equipped a fleet to support operations in the Mediterranean, not to dispute control of the sea against the complete French fleet. The (very inexact) table below further clarifies this. The English had sent about 50% of all their 3rd rates and large 4th rates, but only 25% of their 1st and 2nd rate ships. This resulted in an Anglo-Dutch fleet with only 6 three-deckers against 15 French three-deckers. The table also shows that at the time the English thought that their larger fourth rates could fight in the line, but the smaller could not. The table does not make a fair comparison between the smaller ships. From casual evidence it's known that some French ships with 70 guns were larger than English with 80; just as some with 60 guns were just as large as small English 3rd rates, while others were a bit smaller than large 4th rates. Therefore it's not at all likely that the Anglo-Dutch had the advantage with ships in the 60-70 gun range.

Comparison of the parts of the total French and English fleets present at Malaga
English RateEnglish total English PresentDutch total Dutch presentFrench presentFrench TotalFrench rate
1st 7 0 2 3 1
2nd 13 5 8 1 13 14 1
3rd large (80) 18 10 7 10 2
3rd small (70) 26 16 19 3 3 4 2
4th large (60) 16 5 14 6 11 13 3
4th small (50) c. 75 5 18 2 11 14 3

For the Dutch fleet some further particulars are known. In accordance with their treaty the United Provinces were obliged to have 24 ships in the the Mediterranean theater. Due to the land-provinces being backward with their payments, they had send only 18, of which 12 were present at Malaga. Furthermore even the Dutch naval authorities themselves perceived the size of the ships that were sent as too small1. A simple comparison between the Dutch fleet at Vigo and that at Malaga also shows this decline in the size of the ships the Dutch equipped.

The alliance fleet had no unified command. The allies had agreed that the admiral of the English fleet would be considered as senior when the fleets operated together. Apart from that their command chains were however completely separate. The English fleet was commanded in chief by Sir George Rooke. As second he had Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell. The Dutch were commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Callenburgh. As second he had VA Baron van Wassenaer.

4.2 The French fleet

As the table shows the French were present at Malaga with almost every ship they could equip. Amongst these were 15 of their first and second rates, which were more than able to stand up to anything the alliance brought to Malaga. The other French ships were also of good quality. The same could however not be said about their crews. For years the French navy had not shown much activity and the lack of training and experience would show in the effectiveness of its gunners.

The French naval command was held by Louis Alexandre de Bourbon comte de Toulouse, legitimated son of the king. The comte de Toulouse had been born in 1678, and so on account of his young age and lack of experience he probably left the actual command to his second in command; Victor Marie comte d'Estrées

4.3 The Galleys

The Bourbon fleet also contained 24 galleys. It seems these sailed along the coast and joined the fleet on 22 August, when it was in the bay of Velez Malaga. The marquis de Roye commanded 12 French galleys. The Duke of Tursis was overall commander of the Spanish galleys and directly commanded 7 galleys of the Genoa squadron. The Count of Foncalada commanded 5 galleys of the Carthagena squadron.2

5 The Battle of Malaga

5.1 The fleets reconnoiter each other

On 22 August the French fleet anchored before Velez Malaga, three miles east of Malaga in order to replenish its water supply. Shortly after its frigates sighted the enemy. At the time there was not much wind, and so the galleys were ordered to tow the fleet to deep water. This was the French perspective.

From the allied perspective: On 20 August the fleet returned to Gibraltar after it went to the Barbary coast to restock on water, the wind bearing from the east. There it understood the enemy fleet had been sighted 10 miles upwind. A council of war was held, and it decided to sail east in order to engage the enemy. After picking up 1,000 marines in Gibraltar this course was set. On the 22nd and 23rd the enemy was sighted. Rooke was concerned that the enemy might attempt to get west of the alliance fleet with the aid of its galleys. In a council of war the allies decided that if the enemy fleet was not sighted before the evening they should return to Gibraltar.

5.2 The fleets get in each other's sight

In the afternoon of the 23rd the alliance fleet did however perceive the French fleet west of it, downwind near Cape Malaga. The alliance fleet decided to pursue during the night. On the 24th the French fleet was seen laying in wait on the allies. The French line was sailing southward and so the lines of battle were formed in that direction, with the wind from the east. This meant that the alliance had the advantage of the wind. This advantage meant two things: the alliance ships could always shorten the distance to their counterparts by choosing a course before the wind, or increase the distance by keeping a course upwind. The side that was downwind had the disadvantage of all the smoke hindering its sight and therefore the effectiveness of its artillery. In case of strong winds, being upwind could become a disadvantage if the lower gunports could not be used. The seas were rough at Malaga, but this was not the case..

5.3 The lines of battle

At 10 AM the battle of Malaga started. Various descriptions suggest that this was a battle where the traditional divisions (vanguard, center, rearguard) fought each other, and the equal number of ships on both sides seems to support this possibility. In their actual division of ships however, the French had three rather equal divisions and the alliance had a strong center and weaker vanguard and rearguard. The French reacted to this by drawing the last squadron of their vanguard and the first squadron of their rearguard to their center. When a gap appeared between the English vanguard and center, the alliance center was therefore weaker than the French center.

The galleys were divided as follows: Foncalada´s 5 galleys of the Carthagena squadron were downwind of d´Infreville first squadron of the French line. The other 7 Spanish galleys under the Duc de Tursis were downwind of Vilette, but two of these remained close to Belle-Isle's squadron. The Marquis de Roye had his 6 French galleys downwind of Toulouse's center. Forville commanded 6 French galleys downwind of the rear3.

On the map of the battle there are large and small dots representing the ships. This distinction in large and small dots has been made to distinguish the three-deckers from all other ships in the line. The reason to do this is that in general a 1704 three-decker was twice as strong as a two-decker. With the advent of the famous 74 this distinction would become neglible half a century later, but at Malaga it was relevant.

The distinction between a three-decker at Malaga and a two-decker can best be explained by some examples. For example: The Tonnant of 90 guns was an average French three-decker at Malaga. At its lowest gundeck it had 28 36 pounder guns. At its middle gun deck it had 30 18 pounder guns. on the upper deck it had 26 12 pounders. Six smaller guns were mounted even higher. If all these guns were fired at once, they shot 1018 pounds of iron. An average two-decker at Malaga was the Content of 64 guns. It had 24 24 pounders on the lower gun deck, 22 12 pounders on the upper gun deck and 8 4 pounders mounted higher. Fired all at once these shot 471 pounds of iron. Given the number of guns one might be tempted to think that the power of the Tonnant was 90/64 = 140% of the Content. In fact the difference was 1018/471 = 216%.

5.4 The alliance ammunition stores

In the official account of the battle4 there was mention of several ships of Rooke's, Byng's and Dylkes' squadrons getting forced out of the line for want of shot. 'This want of shot was occasioned by our expense at Gibraltar; and though every ship was supplied to 25 rounds two days before the battle, which was judged sufficient, and would have been so, if we could have got so near the enemy as the admiral intended; yet every ship that was on that service wanted ammunition before night'.

This want of shot began to manifest itself at about 2 o'clock. It's rather well known which ships had been used in bombarding Gibraltar. Of these the Suffolk, Essex, Ranelagh, Kingston and Burford belonged to the Byng´s and Dylkes´ squadron. The Monmouth, Grafton, Montague, Nassau and Eagle belonged to Rooke's own squadron. The Nottingham, Swiftsure, Berwick, Lenox and Yarmouth belonged to the vanguard. There had also been Dutch ships in the bombardment. Of the English ships that had been bombarding Gibraltar 5 belonged to the vanguard and 10 to the center. In the vanguard there was no problem, but there fighting kind of ceased at 2 o'clock. In the rear the Dutch also did not have a problem, but they might overall have been better supplied with shot. The claim that the participation in the bombardment had caused the lack of shot therefore seems true as a direct cause of some ships dropping out of the line.

From a citation of a court-martial at Deptford we know that at least the Montague and the Kingston dropped out of the line early for want of shot. Both of which were afterwards discovered still to have about 10 rounds. The captain of the Montague was misinformed by a lieutenant. The Kingston had water in the hold, and after that had been pumped out, about 10 rounds were found5. Both these captains were acquited, as well as the others, who we might presume indeed to have been without shot.

Somewhat further in the official English account there is an explanation of the disadvantages of the alliance fleet: '....ammunition, of which we had spent so great a store in the taking and furnishing of Gibraltar;' The word furnishing says it. It can be supposed that the allies did not take a big store of useful ammo at Gibraltar. An effective defense would then require to leave a rather huge amount of shot at Gibraltar, probably a multiple of the 25 shots that were momentarily deemed enough for a gun on the fleet. It would be my guess that the from the start the fleet had not been well supplied with shot. In that situation Rooke then took a conscious decision to use his supplies to store Gibraltar and to re-supply the ships of his bombardment fleet only to a bare minimum.

6 Description of the fight

6.1 The Vanguard

The French commander of the vanguard was Vilette Mursay in the Fier. He thought to fight Shovell in the Barfleur, but the English admiral arranged his line to neatly match the French. When the lines started to fire the Fier was therefore opposed to the Namur, and Shovell fought Du Casse's Intrepride. This initial arrangement lasted about an hour, and then the French vanguard tried to outpace the English in order to double their line. Shovell next fought the Excellent and the Sage.

Vilette left the Namur, and then fought two 70's which he stated to have damaged severely. Literally he stated that the second of the admiral thought it proper to rally to Shovell and about the others he stated 'Je les désemparay tous deux, et ils firent la mesme manoeuvre que le premier' désemparay in naval terms should be translated as crippled or disabled. Is this Vilette polishing his reputation? Probably not: Shovell would state that: 'The ships that suffered most in my division were the Lenox, Warspite, Tilbury and Swiftsure, the rest escaped pretty well... The Swiftsure, Tilbury and Lennox were indeed the 3 ships sailing in front of the Namur, so this confirms that Vilette indeed severely damaged these ships.

Next Vilette came up on another 70 that he fought briefly, but which had faced the Constant before. This was probably the Lenox of Captain Jumper, of which it was said that he single-handedly fought three enemy ships. This was a story I so far could only trace back to the Annals of Queen Anne, but it becomes likely after the Tilbury and Swiftsure dropped back. Meanwhile Shovell had a slightly different account of Vilette running to the front. He stated: I set all my sails, and towed with 3 boats a head to get alongside with the admiral of the White and Blue, but he outsailing me shunned fighting, and lay alongside of the little ships.

Finally Vilette came up on a second of Leake, probably the Boyne. It was at that moment that a shot hit the poop of the Fier and caused an explosion and fire consuming all the officer rooms, Vilette's room and the council chamber. The fire also reached a store of musket rounds which shot in all directions. The Fier was forced to quit the line in order to extinguish the fire. Unfortunately the other ships of his squadron imitated this maneuver, and so the whole of Vilette´s squadron (except the Arrogant, which stayed with d'Infreville6) left the line of battle7. In this he was also aided by the galleys of the Duke of Tursis.

This left D'Infreville's squadron isolated, with Leake upwind of him and Shovell downwind. D'infreville stayed his course, even though this incurred the risk that he would be surrounded by Leake and Shovell. At least that was his story, which could also have been an excuse, because at a certain moment there was a distance of about 6 kilometers between him and the center8. Later the galley of the Count de Foncelada would vainly attempt to tow his ship back to Vilette's squadron.

Shovell made a sound judgement of the situation. At about 2 PM or later he saw that Vilette's damaged ships were out of reach, and that several ships in the alliance center were towed out of the line. He therefore slowed down and several of the French main line shot up abreast of him. These were (parts of) Belle Isle's squadron and parts of the first squadron of the French center9.

6.2 The Center

From both sides there were statements that the center fought with 'great fury'. One can wonder what that could mean. Both sides stated they sought to get closer to the enemy. The fact that no ships were lost in the battle itself, does however point to the lines fighting each other at a moderate distance. This moderate distance and the nearly equal numbers on both sides caused that both sides kept their line intact. Therefore nothing obviously spectaculair happened except that the fight was long and continuous. In a steady rhytme the ships fired their guns and where hit by the counterparts. Over time more and more sailors were killed or wounded and the chaos on the ships increased. This up to a point that the ship might be destroyed; then it dropped out of the line, but often only to make provisional repairs and to rejoin the battle later. Because the last such battle was 14 years ago, the impression must have been overwhelming.

In the allied center there were three squadrons. Dilkes was in front, Rooke in the center, and Byng as the last. The above statement by Shovell that his squadron only met the last squadron of the French vanguard (again?) after about 2 o'clock, leads to the conclusion that there were indeed more French ships than English ships in the center. One could of course try to interpret Rooke's statement to mean that it was only applicable to his ships that immediately faced Vilette's squadron, but apart from the Warspite, that's very unlikely. The Orford, Assurance and Nottingham belong to the 7 English ships with the lowest number of casualties and therefore probably saw almost no combat in the morning.

With that and a statement from the tail of the center that Byng fought Seppeville, it's rather sure which ships were present in the center. These can then be put on a map. After the known adversaries have been marked, I've made one assumption. This is that the commanders of the biggest ships will always find an opponent. They might fight from a safe distance, but unlike those of smaller vessels, they cannot excuse themselves from fighting because they happen not to have anyone in front of them. Therefore the side that is outnumbered will always oppose the largest ships of the enemy.

Admiral Rooke noted that the enemy was strong in the center and weaker in the vanguard and rear10. He ordered the Swallow (50); Panther (50); Larke (40); Newport(24) and two fireships to be upwind in the second line in case the enemy's galleys or fireships broke through. The center then bore down upon the enenmy till about 10:15 AM, when within half gun-shot the French set sail. For Rooke this was reason to open fire.

6.3 The Center (Dilkes)

The first squadron of the allied center was that of Dilkes. He fought the last squadron of the French vanguard and some ships of Coetlogon. Of his ships the Suffolk and Burford had to leave the line for want of shot or because of damage. On the French side the Magnifique, flagship of rear admiral Belle-Isle had to leave the line, but it's not clear when that happened. Shovell's statement about this rear admiral as one of the enemy ships that had kept their line and passed him, seems to imply this was after 2 PM, but it must have been before, because in continuing his letter Shovell states that he did not get the opportunity to fire at these admirals.

It's thus rather sure that Dilkes fought closer to Rooke after 2 PM. It´s therefore probably in the afternoon that the Serieux thrice tried to board the Monck (60), because earlier they were too far apart. Even then the Monck would have needed to be in another place in Dilkes' squadron. As stated Shovel's statement implies that after 2 PM there was not much fighting in the first part of the center.

6.4 The Center (Rooke)

Rooke's squadron of 8 ships had to fight Toulouse's squadron and part of Coëtlogon's squadron, totaling 10 ships. This is what we can conlude from the map. The map and order of battle also informs us that Rooke was indeed outgunned as well as outnumbered.

At first both Admiral's ships fought each other directly, but later Rooke brought his ships somewhat more to the front11. Then Rooke on the Royal Katherine (96) fought the Vaingueur (88) behind him the Saint George (96) fought Toulouse's Foudroyant (104). Behind that it was probably the Montague (60) that had the unenviable task to fight Toulouse's second 'matelot' the Terrible (96) commanded by De Relingues. Another interesting fight we can suppose was between the two three-deckers of Coëtlogon Tonnant (92) and Orgueilleux (86) opposed by the Shrewsbury (80) and Monmouth (70).

As we know not much more than this, we have to assume that the first few hours in the center were a regular cannonade between the lines. Then the ammunition shortage and damage set in. In his journal Rooke states: But several of our ships, as well of mine as the rear-admiral of the red and white divisions, were forced to go out of the line, some being disabled, but most for want of shot, So that the body of their fleet fell very heavy upon my ship (the Royal Katherine), the St. George, Shrewsbury and Eagle, the last of which towed out of the line also, for want of shot, two hours before night, so that we were much shattered and disabled12.

The ships of Rooke's squadron that left the line early were: the Grafton, Monmouth, Nassau and Montagu13. This would indeed have left Rooke with only 4 ships to fight. The Dutch Rear Admiral van Wassenaer would write that: 'Therefore Admiral Rooke had to endure a fight against nine French ships with four of his own, but did this magnificently'14. With regard to the casualties the official dispatch referred to: 'the admiral's own ship, which for several hours, received the fire of the French admiral of 110 guns, and of his two seconds of 100 guns each.' This situation probably ended somewhere after 2 o'clock, with Shovell slowing down to reinforce the center, and the whole center getting re-arranged.

The truth of the difficulties of Rooke's squadron is demonstrated by the fact that it counted by far the largest number of killed and wounded. In the center the battle ended at about seven o'clock15.

6.5 The Center (Byng)

Byng's squadron formed the third part of the English center. Later on Byng became known as Lord Torrington and therefore 'his' memoirs were written. Byng first fought the admiral of the French rear for some time, and this lends credibility that the Dutch only came in the line somwhat later16. Later he shoved more forward, and fought the 'rear-admiral of the blew' till 5 o'clock. At that time the Ranelagh's captain (i.e. not RA Byng) had been slain on the lower gun-deck about two hours after the ship had started fighting. The ship had 24 killed and 48 wounded and 22 shots in the hull above the water-line, 6 feet of water was in the hull.

Of Byngs' squadron we can safely assume that the Triton was not in the line of Battle. For this there are multiple reasons. The Triton is often listed as 50 gun ship. In fact it was however only a 42 gun fifth rate frigate, with nine-pounders on its lower gun-deck. It would have been unusual, but also useless to put it in the line. In the memoirs of the lord Torrington, there is also mention of Rooke ordering two fourth-rates, two Frigates and two fireships to the windward. The biggest clue that the Tryton was not in the line is however that it had only 5 killed and 21 wounded, by far the lowest number of casualties in Byng's squadron. The ships of Byng's squadron leaving the line were the Essex and Kingston.

6.6 The rear

The Dutch rear in the Battle of Malaga
Squadron of Admiral (LA) Callenburgh
Ship Captain Guns Killed wounded Admiralty
Frisia 64 5 10 Frisia
Wap Utrecht 64 6 19 Noorderkwartier
Albemarle LA Visscher 64 20 45 Noorderkwartier
Vlissingen 54 3 7 Zeeland
Damiaten 52 3 5 Amsterdam
Leeuw 64 4 7 Amsterdam
Squadron of VA Wassenaer
Banier J.W. van Gent 64 17 22 Amsterdam
Nijmegen H. Lijnslager+ 72 7 25 Amsterdam
Katwijk 72 15 41 Amsterdam
Unie VA 94 6 40 Amsterdam
Dordrecht 72 4 32 Maas
Gelderland Ph. Schrijver 74 2 15 Maas

The allied rear was composed of two Dutch squadrons. The third Dutch squadron under RA Van der Dussen had left a few days before. I've found no clear source for the place of these ships in the line. Admiral Callenburgh was on a small ship. This had to do with him being Lieutenant-Admiral of the Noorderkwartier admiralty, and therefore being on one of its ships. Without a doubt the Noorderkwartier had designated the Monnikendam of 72 guns as his flagship, but due to an accident it had not sailed to Portugal.

Callenburgh mentioned that the course determined that the Dutch had the rear and Shovel the Vanguard. Some think that the Dutch fought all three squadrons of the French, but as stated above the first squadron of the French rear fought with Byng17. That leaves the French and Dutch rear evenly matched in numbers, but not in quality.

Neither in his published letter18 nor in other writing did Callenburgh give many details about the fight in his squadron. From the loss list one can deduce that it probably fought from a large distance. Whether it did not try to come closer, or the French evaded it is not clear. What is clear is that at the end of the fight Callenburgh's ship the Albemarle was so damaged that he moved his flag to the Katwijk. Nonetheless the fire of the Dutch seems to have been effective; in his letter Sourdeval mentioned that apart from the disabled Fier, the Excellent, Magnifique, Fleuron, Cheval Marin, Gaillard and the Invincible had to leave the line for a time. Of these seven ships mentioned at least two opposed Callenburgh's squadron of six ships.

Wassenaer's squadron was about as strong as its opponent. It's therefore likely that he came in somewhat closer than Callenburgh, and the loss list also suggests this. Some excerpts of Wassenaer's comments have appeared in print. About the Vice Admiral that directly opposed him Wassenaer said: 'he saw no problem in evading me thrice with all his sails, only shortly staying in the range of an 18-pounder. If I then tried to get a broadside on him he again sped up, up to the point that I began to fear the guns of my own ships that were before me in the line. If I then slowed down this 'hero' did the same19. About the second of the French admiral he said that he awaited him upwind of his admiral and did most damage to his ship, the vice admiral himself: 'shooting only at the birds in the sky.'20

The last ship in the Dutch line was the Gelderland of Captain Philip Schrijver. At a certain moment he was attacked by four galleys. Schrijver brought some guns to the back of his ship and made them retreat21. Fighting in the rear seems to have ended when it became dark, so somewhat later than in the center.

7 Losses

The losses in the alliance fleet are given as 695 killed and 1663 wounded for the English. For the Dutch it was 92 killed and 268 wounded. Therefore the Dutch had relatively few victims. On the 27th however, their most damaged ship, the Albemarle exploded. This ship had about 300 men aboard, and with only 9 surviving the Dutch got to a relatively high number of victims. Without the loss of the Albemarle the alliance had 2,718 killed and wounded.

The French would admit to 1,585 killed and wounded22. Including the loss of the Albemarle, the alliance would then have lost twice as many men as the French. Amongst the French there was however a rather large number of notable victims, i.e. 163. Amongst the English there were 39 officers victim. Part of this could be explained by the French having a detachment on board, but the alliance also had its marines. The French claims about their number of losses therefore might be true, but merit some investigation.

8 Results

The Battle of Malaga was a draw in the tactical sense; neither the Anglo-Dutch nor the French navy was significantly weakened. Furthermore no serious writer pretended that one of the fleets had proven itself to be the stronger. For France there was a small but significant advantage in that its fleet had proven that it was able to hold its own against a major fleet of the Sea Powers. Therefore its sailors could be confident in the next general engagement.

On the strategic level the battle was about the fate of the Anglo-Dutch garrison of Gibraltar. If the alliance lost it would also lose Gibraltar, that was not strong enough yet to stand a siege from land and sea. If the French lost, the alliance would reinforce Gibraltar and the Bourbon powers would face a much more difficult task. In that difficult task the Bourbon powers would fail, and so Gibraltar is British till this day. From the start of the Anglo-Dutch occupation this meant a strategic advantage for their navies and commerce. The battle of Malaga was therefore a strategic victory for the alliance.

9 Sources

The official French relation can be found in the La clef du cabinet page 249. Another general description is in a letter by Sourdeval to Pontchartain, published in Histoire de la Marine Française page 279 by Eugène Sue. The Memoires du Marquis de Sourches volume 9 page 70 under 13 September 1704 contains another general letter on the battle of Malaga. Piganiol de la Force, the writer of the Description de la ville de Paris was on board the Foudroyant and wrote a letter from Malaga on 28 August 1704, published in Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d´histoire page 970. A letter from on board the Vainqueur was published in the Mecure Galant of December 1704 page 218

By request of the Comte de Toulouse Vilette wrote a testimony of his campaigns. It's published as Mémoires de mes Campagnes de Mer in the Mémoires du Marquis de Vilette, but contains very little about the Battle of Malaga. The same book however also contains a letter by Vilette to the secretary of the navy, containing many details of the events in the vanguard. D´infreville wrote a testimony of the events in the French vanguard, published in the: Mercure Galant of February 1705. An officer of on board the Éclatant wrote a letter from Cadix, published in the Mercure Galant of November 1704 page 316.

The History of the Reign of Queen Anne contains: A general history of the events at Gibraltar and Malaga, but without a clear source. In appendix number 22 a list of the English part of the alliance fleet before the 4 English ships were detached. Also a list of the ships employed in the Battle of Gibraltar. In appendix 23 a list of the French ships present at Malaga (for which one could better consult a French source). In appendix 24 is the account published on 14 September after Captain Trevor of the Triton had arrived with an express message from Rooke dated 27 August O.S., which I refer to as the 'Official Account'. It also contains a list of losses. In appendix 25 it then has a translation of the Official French account and a letter from Madrid by the Duc de Grammont. In Appendix 26 it then has Shovell's letter, written from aboard the Barfleur. Also a letter supposedly written by somebody in the English vanguard, probably on the Swiftsure.

Excerpts of Rooke's journal were later printed in the: Biographia Navalis. The Memoirs relating to the Lord Torrington contains two pieces. The first is a work later written to honour Lord Torrington, known as George Byng at Malaga. It claims to have been directly based on his journals and other documents. The story is however very vague in what's based on what, and clearly contains things Byng cannot not have seen. Therefore its value as a source is very low. In the appendix of the book there are however notes made by Rev. Thomas Pocock on board the Ranelagh. Even though this was edited a few years later it still bears all the traces of being an original journal.

For the Dutch view of events there is the Europische Mercurius for 1704. It contains a translated version of the official French publication, though slightly different from the one in the Clef du Cabinet. It has a translation of Rooke's official message. Finally it has a letter by Callenburgh to the States General. It does not contain much detail, but had the loss list for the Dutch fleet attached.

In Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen volume 3 page 648 by J.C. de Jonge are some details about the Dutch, cited from primary sources.

For the composition of the Anglo-Dutch fleet I have used The Royal Navy, a history from the earliest times to the present by W. Laird Clowes volume II page 399.

A handy resource on individual ships in the Battle of Malaga is on Three Decks - Warships in the Age of Sail.

10 Notes

1) In reference to the ship Monnikendam (72), J. de Wildt of the Amsterdam Admiralty remarked on 15 January 1704: ..het is een van de capitaele schepen onder de vloot naer Portugal, daer lichte schepen genoegh ende niet als teveel onder zijn.' Which translates as: It's one of the capital ships of the fleet destined to Portugal, which has enough light ships, or even too many .'
2) The memoires du Marquis de Sourches contains a letter with these specifics under 13 september 1704.
3) A letter by an unknown officer in the Mercure Galant of November contains some details about the galleys.
4) The official account was published in the History of the reign of Queen Anne.
5) Court-martial cited in Memoirs of Lord Torrington, page 161.
6) D´Infreville in the Mercure Galant page 32 about the Arrogant
7) Vilette-Mursay wrote to Jéròme Phelypeaux comte de Potchartain minstre secrétaire d'État au département de la Marine on 25 August 1704, giving greater detail about the actions in the vanguard than he later gave in his memoirs.
8) D'Infreville wrote for the February 1705 Mercure Galant.
9) Shovel's 28 August 1704 letter from the Barfleur, published in the appendix of the History of the Reign of Queen Anne.
10) It's probably safe to assume that the account brought over by Captain Trevor and printed in the appendix of the reign of Queen Anne represents Rooke's view.
11) The letter by Sourdeval to Pontchartain has: 'Du comte de Toulouse, l'amiral Roock passa au vaisseau du bailli de Lorraine.'
12) This is an excerpt of Rooke's journal as printed in the Biographia Navalis page 424.
13) The ships of Rooke leaving the line taken from a note in the War of the Succession in Spain, page 63. The source of the note is not clear.
14) Wassenaer on Rooke cited by De Jong page 651: Waer door den Admiraal Rooke met vier schepen het geveght tegens negen Fransche heeft moeten uythouden, dat evenwel magnificq gedaen heeft.
15) Rooke's journal for the battle ending at seven o'clock.
16) Memoirs of the late Lord Lord Torrington, Appendix 197 about Byng first fighting the Admiral of the French rear.
17) De Jonge assumed this was the case.
18) Europische Mercurius 1704 page 275 for Callenburgh's letter
19) De Jonge published these excerpts: 'Geene zwarigheid, tot driemalen toe van mij af te loopen met alle zeilen bij, en draaide niet weder bij dan nadat even binnen het bereik van een achttienponder was; en wanneer ik alsdan met bramzeilen en fok bij, hem weder op zijde meende te komen, ging hij weder aan het afhouden, tot dat hij zoo verre kwam, dat ik bevreesd was voor het schut van onze schepen, welke voor mij gerangeerd waren, die ik dan geheel belemmerde, en waardoor ik genoodzaakt werd, alle zeilen tegen te brassen, hetgeen die held dan mede deed.'
20) De Jonge published these excerpts: 'schietende de vice-admiraal naar de vogeltjes in de lucht'
21) De Jonge for the attack with the galleys
22) Histoire de la Marine Française volume 6 page 364 points to a list by Arnoul, but I've not seen it.