Bombardment of Alicante; 35 x 53½; signed P.Monamy: Pinx: inscribed Alicant
24 ships: 10 Dutch to port, and 8 of the Blue to starboard of the central 6 of the White
The siege of Barcelona was raised on the 22nd May. After this, Sir John Leake reduced the city of Carthagena. He then proceeded to Alicante, arriving there on 26th June, and, after various delays, by July 18th it was agreed to mount an attack on Alicante. These comments are based on notes, probably by Brian Tunstall, explaining the background to the paintings.
Fourth from the left is Sir John Leake's flagship, with three ships of the Blue to the right
The bombardment of Alicante took place on the 20th of July. Byng commanded an advance squadron under Leake, who ordered him to bombard the city, which was held by General Mahoni, an Irishman fighting for Philip of Anjou. About 1,400 marines and seamen had been landed on 19th July, who had joined the beseiging land forces and were camped near the city. This is the situation illustrated by Monamy's picture, probably painted in about 1725, 18-20 years after the event. Leake's instructions on the 20th were the following:
"Whereas it is resolved at a Council of War held this day, that five English and three Dutch ships of the line be sent in to cannonade the city of Alicante. You are hereby required and directed to take the ships named in the margin under your command, and give directions to their respective commanders to get their ships in a readiness for that service, and when I hoist a red flag at my mizen topmasthead, and fire a gun: you are to take your own time and proceed and anchor with them in a line, as near the the shore as may be convenient to perform the aforesaid service, but not to go into less than five fathom water, ordering all commanders to give directions to their officers to point their guns only at the enemies' batteries, or where they see a number of men together, and after the first broadside not to fire a shot till the smoke is dispersed, that they may the better see the objects they aim at, and to leave firing, after the enemies' guns are dismounted, or the men retired from them, which is not to be repeated unless there be an absolute occasion. You are to continue upon this service as long as you think may be convenient to give our forces an opportunity to make a lodgment in the suburbs, or gaining the city: And for so doing this shall be your warrant. Dated on board the Prince George in Alicante Road, July 20th, 1706. J. Leake."
The picture notes identify the ships, 5 English, 3 Dutch, named in the margin, as below:
The annotator points out that the ships shown in the advance squadron are much of a size, and although their names are known the exact identities are presumably arbitrary, apart from the Dutch being identifiable by their flags. However, the central vessel, flying a Vice-Admiral's flag of command at the fore topmast head, has caused some perplexity. It must be the ship from which Byng directed the cannonade, and should therefore be the Royal Anne, 100 guns. This was the largest ship in the fleet, bigger than its neighbours by a 30 gun margin, yet it is represented as more or less the same size.
This might be because of the distance at which the squadron is seen, but remains surprising, since the ships in the near line are depicted in very considerable detail, with particular attention paid to their separate identities and ornate decorations, as shown in the section of Dutchmen below. It should be possible to name each ship individually by its stern, but the annotator has only identified the Vice-Admiral's flagship, without naming it.
Nevertheless he does name several of the English ships, further down the right of the line, on the basis of their sizes, positions and the flags they are flying, since he apparently was not able to identify them by their stern decorations. This produces a very curious finding, when applied to the vexed question of the identity of the central vessel in a rather better-known painting attributed to Monamy, the Signal to Anchor. See next page.
for alicante image sources see here
1706 Alicante 2
This account is based closely on notes accompanying the painting, possibly written by Brian Tunstall.
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