1758 - British expedition against Gorée in Senegal
The campaign lasted from October to December 1758
At the beginning of October, commodore Augustus Keppel of the Royal Navy received secret instructions to convoy lieutenant-colonel Worge with the 76th Forbes' Regiment of Foot and 2 companies of the 66th Regiment of Foot to the west coast of Africa. Keppel's squadron consisted of:
- Torbay (74) under captain Thomas Owen, Keppel's flagship
- Nassau (64) under captain James Sayer
- Fougueux (64) under captain Joseph Knight
- Dunkirk (60) under captain Robert Digby
- Lichfield (50) under captain Matthew Barton
- Prince Edward (44) under captain William Fortescue
- Experiment (24) under captain John Carter Allen
- Roman Emperor (8) under commander William Newsom
- Saltash (14) under commander Walter Stirling
- Firedrake (12) (bomb-ketch) under commander James Orrok
- Furnace (14) (bomb-ketch) under commander Jonathan Faulknor.
On October 26 1758, the troops under lieutenant-colonel Worge, who had been appointed governor of Sénégal, were embarked at Kinsale in Ireland.
On November 11, after some delay, Keppel finally sailed for Sénégal.
In the early morning of November 29, owing to an error in reckoning caused by bad weather, the Lichfield (50) ran ashore on the coast of Morocco and became a total loss. There was unfortunately some loss of life. The survivors were detained by the sultan of Morocco until ransomed, with other British subjects, for 170,000 dollars (captain Barton was tried for the loss of his ship, and honourably acquitted.). On the same occasion a transport also went to pieces.
On December 28, after having made a short stay at Santa Cruz, in the Canaries, the British squadron sighted Gorée, and at 3:00 PM anchored in the road in 18 fathoms of water, the island bearing S.W. by S. distant about 6 km. The Saltash (14) and the transports containing the troops were sent into the bay between Point Gorée and Point Barrabas.
Early on December 29, the troops from these vessels were disembarked in boats in readiness to land on the island upon signal being made by the commodore. Most of the ships gradually took up their assigned positions on the west or leeward side of Gorée and moored head and stern under a heavy fire: the Dunkirk (60), the Nassau (64), the Torbay (74) and the Fougueux (64) anchored against several batteries on the island of Gorée and, at the same time, covered the Firedrake (12) and Furnace (14) bomb-ketches by their fire. At 9:00 AM, the attack was begun by the Prince Edward (44); but the cannonade was not general until about noon, some of the vessels experiencing difficulty in taking up their stations. The bombardment was then rapidly effective. In a few hours, the British ships silenced the French batteries and made a terrible havock among the garrison. At nightfall, M. de Saint-Jean surrendered the fortress and the island. Keppel landed his marines to take possession. The garrison (about 300 men) and many Africans became prisoners of war and 110 guns and mortars were captured. The British loss was inconsiderable.
After escorting colonel Worge in Sénégal and cruising for a short time off the coast, commodore Keppel returned to Great Britain.
Therefore, with a very small investment, British had now captured the two French settlements in West Africa (Fort Louis and Gorée).
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 334
- Clowes, Wm. Laird, The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 188-189
- Fortescue J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 346-347.