The First Cevallos expedition was a series military actions between September 1762 and April 1763, by Spanish colonial forces led by Don Pedro Antonio de Cevallos, Governor of Buenos Aires, against Portuguese colonial forces in the Banda Oriental area on the aftermath of the failed Spanish and French Invasion of Portugal, as part of the Seven Years' War.
The Portuguese territory of Colonia do Sacramento was conquered by the Spanish in September 1762; an attempt by an Anglo-Portuguese squadron to retake the city failed. At the beginning of 1763 the Spanish launched an expedition to the Rio Grande do Sul which was conquered by April. News of the end of the war however forced the Spanish to halt their advance.
In January 1762, Spain joined France against Great Britain in the Seven Years' War, in accordance with the Third Pacte de Famille. The plan was to attack Portugal, which had been neutral up to then, but which was an important economic ally of Great Britain. On May 5 Spain invaded European Portugal and also decided to attack Portugal in South America, and in particular to take the long disputed Colonia del Sacramento and the Portuguese territories beyond the right bank of Guaporé River, the nowadays Brazilian state of Rondonia (but in past was a Mato Grosso territory).
First invasion of Colonia de Sacramento
In the first days of January 1762 the frigate Victoria commanded by Carlos José de Sarriá, sailed from Cadiz to Buenos Aires with orders for the Governor of Buenos Aires, Pedro Antonio de Cevallos, to attack and take Sacramento.
He started preparations and in September 1762 he had assembled enough men and ships to launch an attack. The fleet sailed across the Rio de la Plata, and disembarked on September 14. It was a powerful army of almost 4,000 men (including 1200 Indians since September 27). The siege of the city started on October 5.
The relations between Cevallos, who commanded the army, and Sarria, who commanded the fleet, were very bad. After disembarking the army and without approval of Cevallos, Sarria sailed his fleet of sixteen ships back to Buenos Aires. Fortunately for the Spanish, the Portuguese were ill-prepared (they had only 400 infantry men plus 367 irregulars), and on October 31, 1762, Vicente da Silva, the governor of the city, capitulated.
Map of Colonia del Sacramento from 1762.
Second invasion of Colonia de Sacramento
Great Britain, which was now officially at war with Spain, did not participate in these battles, but the East India Company had plans to conquer Spanish territory in South America and bought two old warships from the British Admiralty. The biggest ship was HMS Kingston which was renamed Lord Clive and carried 60 guns, the other ship was Ambuscade which carried 40 guns.
The small squadron, under the command of Captain Robert McNamara of the East India Company left Lisbon on August 30 and was joined in Rio de Janeiro by two Portuguese warships (among which was the frigate Glória of 38 guns) transporting 500 foot soldiers, and five storeships. On November 2, the squadron sailed from Rio de Janeiro towards the mouth of the Río de la Plata to attack Buenos Aires and Montevideo, but soon abandoned the project because Spanish defenders in both cities were alerted and well prepared.
On January 6, 1763, MacDouall decided to attack and retake Colonia do Sacramento also in Spanish hands. Lord Clive, Ambuscade and the Portuguese Gloria anchored near the city and started bombardment, but they received unexpected strong resistance from the city gun battery. After three hours of fire exchange, a fire erupted on Lord Clive, it quickly extended and ship's magazine blew up and sunk immediately. There were 272 fatalities on board, including the commander Captain Robert McNamara. Ambuscade and Gloria were badly damaged too, and retired from combat.
However, while the Portuguese did not lose any ships, the Spaniards lost their main ship, the frigate Victoria. As soon as the Anglo-Portuguese fleet arrived, the Spanish fleet fled without firing a shot, into the near island of São Gabriel (Victoria, Santa Cruz and San Zenón). Here the Spaniards sank Victoria, with all its artillery and gunpowder, to avoid capture. The naval officers were immediately arrested and later tried under the accusation of cowardice in a war council (1766), by Spanish authorities.
Spanish offensive into the Rio Grande do Sul
An initial attempt to conquer the small territory still held by the Portuguese in Rio Grande (Rio Pardo and Viamão), ended with a Spanish defeat at the Battle of St. Barbara on January 1, 1763, when a force of 230 Portuguese dragoons surprised a Spanish army of 500 Spaniards and 2,000 Indians, coming from Misiones to support Cevallos: seven cannons, 9,000 heads of cattle and 5,000 horses were captured.
Still in control of Sacramento, Cevallos marched his army the following month and took the fort of Santa Teresa (with 400 defenders) on February 19, near the present-day city of Chuy on the Uruguay-Brazilian border and the little fort of San Miguel (with 30 defenders), a few days later.
In April Cevellos also conquered most of the vast and rich territory of the so-called "S.Peter´s Continent" (the present day Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul), where the Portuguese had only up to 1,000 men (soldiers and militia). São José do Norte and the capital – S. Pedro do Sul- were abandoned and occupied without a fight. Here Cevallos learned that peace had been signed and that the war was over.
The victorious Cevallos expedition contrasted with a general framework of Spanish defeat in all other theaters of the Seven Year War notably the failure of the invasion of Portugal and the loss of Havana, and Manila. As Spanish historian Manuel Fernández Álvares put it:
"In January 1762, Spain opened hostilities with England [and against Portugal on 5 May 1762]. However, the effects were very different from those expected. (…)The outcome: the Loss of Havana and Manila [and most of the Rio Negro Valley in North Brazil] while our army engaged an unfortunate ground campaign against Portugal. Only the conquest of Colónia do Sacramento by Pedro Cevallos, from Uruguay, put a positive note on the Spanish side, but however, had no influence on subsequent agreements that ended the war."
— España Y Los Españoles En Los Tiempos Modernos
As admitted by the king of Spain Carlos III when the news arrived:
" … [This victory] fills me with joy for the honor of my troops, since for everything else it is not that way. " 
— In Clima, Naturaleza y Desastre: España e Hispanoamérica durante la Edad Moderna
Colonia do Sacramento and the near territories were under Spanish control until the Treaty of Paris (1763), after which Sacramento was returned to the Portuguese while Rio Grande do Sul would be reconquered by Portugal a few years later (war of 1776–1777). Only the forts of San Miguel and Santa Teresa, in present-day Uruguay, remained Spanish.
- ^ a b c Marley p. 296
- ^ a b Marley p.295
- ^ a b The 400 Portuguese infantry men, 40 troopers, 32 gunners, 230 militiamen ... are reinforced from Rio de Janeiro by a 10-ship convoy ... although conveying only 65 soldiers... ", in Marley, David- Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present, vol. II, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2008, p. 441–442.
- ^ 700 regular infantry troops, 200 dragoons, 1,800 militiamen and 1200 Indians. See Marley, David- Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present, vol. II, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2008, p. 441.
- ^ Gómez, Santiago- Guerras entre España y Portugal en la cuenca del Río de la Plata (in Spanish)
- ^ "(...). In this 'race for the Rio Grande [territory]', the border of Rio Pardo was the only one who resisted the Spanish invasion, thanks to Barreto Pereira Pinto courage and, above all, Francisco Pinto Bandeira, which shattered the army of captain Antonio Cattani on January 1, 1763. Pinto Bandeira, with only 230 dragoons and adventurers of St. Paul, fell like a hurricane over the 2,500 enemy soldiers. 'Never saw this territory such a stampede.' (...). Cattani’s troops disbanded in panic. The commander, no time to put on the uniform, fled in underwear." In Barbosa, Fidélis D. – História do Rio Grande do Sul, Edições Est, 4th edition, Porto Alegre, 1976, p. 60.
- ^ "While the Spanish army advanced along the coast, fully reaching their goals, another enemy column, consisting of five hundred militiamen from the Corrientes Province and about 2,000 Guaranis came from the Misiones Orientales against Rio Pardo, under lieutenant colonel Antonio Cattani and fortified next to the stream of Santa Barbara..." in Vellinho, Moysés- Fronteira, Editora Globo, 1975, p. 105.
- ^ Branco, José- Obras do Barão do Rio Branco, vol. VI, Ministério das Relações exteriores, Brazil, p. 3.
- ^ Flores, Moacyr- Dicionário de história do Brasil, Edipucrs, 2004, p. 80. ISBN 9788574302096
- ^ " [Portuguese colonel] Osório built a small fort which he called Santa Teresa, where he took shelter with 400 men and little artillery (January 1763). Next April, Cevallos, who had gathered in Maldonado a well provisioned army of more than 3,000 men with much artillery, invested the Lusitanian position. After a weak resistance, Osório surrendered with the remaining 130 men. All the other had deserted." In Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul- Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul, Edições 132–134, Brazil, 1998, p. 12.
- ^ "...Osório , arrives at Castilhos on the shores of Merín Lagoon with 400 men of the Dragoon Regiment of rio Pardo, 10 small artillery pieces, plus a work column, to commence construction ... of a border keep to be called Fort Santa Tereza...", In Marley, David- Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present, vol. II, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2008, p. 441.
- ^ "Four days later, the small fort of San Miguel fell into the hands of Cevallos, abandoned by the garrison of 30 men which stayed there under cap. João Teixeira.", In Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul- Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul, Edições 132–134, Brazil, 1998, p. 12.
- ^ "In the whole region of the Rio Grande, the Portuguese government did not have more than 1,000 soldiers, including regular and militia troops, spread over several trims." In Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul- Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Sul, Edições 132–134, Brazil, 1998, p. 12.
- ^ In Álvarez, Manuel Fernàndez- España Y Los Españoles En Los Tiempos Modernos, Universidad Salamanca, Spain, 1979, p. 439.
- ^ Cayetano Mas Galvãn in Romá, Armando Alberola (coordinator)- Clima, Naturaleza y Desastre: España e Hispanoamérica durante la Edad Moderna, Publicacions Universitat de València, 2013
- ^ Marley, David- Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present, vol. II, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2008, p. 449 and p. 450
- ^ Bento, Cláudio Moreira- Brasil, conflitos externos 1500–1945 (electronic version), Academia de História Militar Terrestre do Brasil, chapter 5: As guerras no Sul 1763–77.
- ^ Ricardo Lesser- Las Orígenes de la Argentina, Editorial Biblos, 2003, see chapter El desastre", see pp. 63–72.
- ^ Bento, Cláudio Moreira- Rafael Pinto Bandeira in O Tuiuti, nr. 95, Academia de Historia Militar Terrestre do Brasil, 2013, pp. 3–18.
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