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The Action of 12 December 1779 was a minor naval engagement that took place in the Bay of Honduras during the American War of Independence between a British Royal naval Fourth-rate fifty gun ship and a fifty gun Spanish privateer.[2]

The 50-gun HMS Salisbury had sailed for Jamaica in January 1779 under the command of Charles Inglis.[3]

On 12 December she was sailing in the Bay of Honduras off the coast of the Punta Sal when at daybreak a large ship was sighted ahead.[1] Inglis gave chase, a pursuit which lasted all day until Salisbury came in range at 6.30pm. The fleeing ship hoisted Spanish colours and an action began, which last until 8.30 pm when the Spanish ship had her mainmast shot away. Having sustained heavy casualties and suffered considerable damage, she struck her colours.[1]

She was found to be the 50-gun privateer San Carlos under Don Juan Antonio Zavelleta, carrying stores; mainly 5,000 stand of arms heading from Cadiz to Fort Omoa, which had recently been captured and then abandoned by British forces.[4]

In the battle the San Carlos had a complement of 397 men with 60 men killed or wounded and the rest being captured.[1] Four men were killed on Salisbury and fourteen wounded of which five were mortal.[1] Inglis then sailed to Jamaica carrying the San Carlos in and then distributed the prize money before heading to North America by the summer of 1780.[2][3]



  • Allen, Joseph (1852). Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1. Bohn's illustrated library. ASIN B009ZMMQ56. 

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