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The Colville Papers III: Cartagena 1741

Posted by Alexander Nicoll, on September 2nd, 2020


This is the final post of three on Alexander Colville, inspired by a members’ trip to the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum where we were given an exclusive preview of the Colville papers now being catalogued by the archivists. Part I, introduced by Chris Durbin, was an excerpt from his time in America in 1758, and Part II, introduced by Alexander Nicoll, came from earlier in his career, during service in the West Indies 1740-1. This post, also by Alexander Nicoll, continues his diary from that period, with particular focus on the siege of Cartagena in 1741.

In this part, Colvill’s ship, the bomb ketch Alderney, is again in the forefront of the action as the large British amphibious force attempts to bombard and storm the fort of San Lazaro (now known as the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas). Capture of the fort would have opened the way to take the nearby centre of Cartagena. The failure of the attack in 1741 hastened the fall of the government of Robert Walpole the following year and has been debated among historians ever since.

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