The Navy in the River Plate, 1806-1808

By John D Grainger, published August 1995


In a misguided attempt to establish a power presence in the South Atlantic, and in South America in particular, the Royal Navy raided Spanish settlements in the River Plate, using resources drawn from the recent reconquering of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806. The failure of the operation is discussed in relation to the key personalities involved and the prevailing politics. These underlying factors are covered from an outline of events leading up to the raids, command competences (or otherwise), the tyranny of distance (vis logistical support from the Cape of Good Hope), the limitations of sea power through a lack of understanding of the local geography and a failure to establish physical control of the hinterland by the army, although there was significant co-operation between navy and army. Supplies, desertion and the concluding results of this ‘muddled affair’ are also discussed.

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Filed under: Napoleonic War | Atlantic
Subjects include: Administration | Battles & Tactics | Logistics | Manpower & Life at Sea | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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