The Spanish Convoy of 1750
Heaven's Hammer and International Diplomacy
Publication Year: 2009
Spanish flotas (convoys) traversed the Atlantic throughout the colonial period, shuttling men and goods between the Old and New Worlds. In August 1750, at the height of hurricane season, a small convoy of seven ships left Havana for Cádiz.
A fierce storm scattered the ships from North Carolina's outer banks to Maryland's eastern shore. Spanish merchants, military officers, and sailors struggled to survive, protect their valuable cargo, and, eventually, find a way home. They faced piracy, rapacious English officials, and discord among crew and passengers (including dozens of English prisoners).
Two and a half centuries later, the discovery of the wreckage of the convoy's flagship, La Galga, set off a legal battle between Spain and American treasure companies over salvage rights.
Published by: University Press of Florida
Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece, Dedication
List of Illustrations
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1. The Seven Ships
They gathered in Havana that summer, the seven ships that made up the 1750 Spanish flota.1 Not one of their captains had anticipated being part of this particular convoy of ships. Yet not one was particularly surprised at assuming a place in some sort of flota. All seven had arrived in Havana...
2. Most Holy Mary (María Santísima)
On 18 August, the small Spanish fleet put to sea from Havana.1 At least one ship may have left earlier and waited off the coast for her companions.2 Passengers and mail were still being added as late as 16 August.3 It was a dangerous...
At sea, land beckons yet threatens. All seven ships of the flota now reached the most dangerous stage of their brief voyage since leaving Havana—trying to reach safety on land. The Spanish word naufragio usually means “to be shipwrecked,” but it also...
4. Death of a Greyhound
True to her name, the
5. Our Lady Weeps from Stem to Stern
Far to the south of the Galgaon 30 August, the hurricane spit out the Guadalupe close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Under the command of a very experienced merchant sea captain, Juan Manuel de Bonilla,...
During the weeks and months following the hurricane, the crews and passengers of the ill-fated convoy struggled to return home. Some would make it soon, most would take four to six months, and Juan Manuel de Bonilla (captain of the Guadalupe)...
7. Hunting Pirates
The vast wealth of the Spanish fleet attracted dozens of men, like buzzards circling stricken prey, seeking to pick clean the goods that foreigners could not protect. At the same time, the British colonial world was a coastal culture, and many residents...
8. Closing the Books (Cuentas y Quentas)
Significant portions of the surviving documentation concerning the 1750 flota are financial accounts (spelled interchangeably in eighteenth-century Spanish as cuentas or quentas). In Spanish (as in English), the word “account” can carry a narrative as well as a...
9. La Galga—A Submarine? Fecundity, Gold Fever, Taps, Finders Keepers, and Other “Arresting” Issues
La Galga, a submarine? Obviously not, but the submerged Galga does have an amazing and intriguing life today in the history of modern treasure hunting and in the development of maritime salvage laws. True to its canine (galga is Spanish for “greyhound”) and...
About the Author, Further Reading
Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 1 b&w illustration, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2009
OCLC Number: 760091027
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Spanish Convoy of 1750