On This Day

Great Siege of Gibraltar

Detailed view of combat during the siege
Detailed view of combat during the siege

Historical Context

The longest siege endured by the British Armed Forces and one of the longest sieges in history, the battle at Gibraltar was one part of the American War of Independence. Britain controlled Gibraltar, having seized it from Spain, and both the French and the Spanish saw an opportunity to inflict damage on Britain and recover colonial possessions.

The siege began in 1779 when Spain blockaded the colony, but it failed when British ships were able to get through the lines. A Spanish attempt to attack was defeated by a British assault in 1781, after which the French entered to assist their allies. A final 'grand assault' was planned by the French and Spanish, and took place on September 18, 1792, but was a catastrophic failure; 60,000 men could not defeat the 5,000 defenders. Newly invented 'floating batteries', a type of ship, were also unable to break the defenders and were sunk.

On February 7, 1783, the siege was ended after a British convoy was able to slip through the blockade. The victory was decisive for the British, even though the War of Independence was a victory overall for the Americans and their allies.

Painting Info

Artist: Unknown
Location painted: Gibraltar

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1783-02-07 Great Siege of Gibraltar launched by France and Spain against the British colony during American War of Independence is lifted after 3 years and 7 months

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