Military Wiki
First Cevallos expedition
Part of the Spanish-Portuguese War (1761-1763)
File:Don Francisco Javier Melgarejo.jpg
Portrait of Captain Melgarejo. The ships in the background on the left are the Lord Clive, in the moment she was blown up by the guns of the Spanish frigate Victoria, and the HMS Ambuscade.
DateSeptember 1762 - April 1763
LocationColonia del Sacramento, Buenos Aires, Montevideo (present-day Uruguay)

Decisive Spanish victory[1][2]

  • Spanish conquest of Colonia del Sacramento
Kingdom of Portugal
Flag of the British East India Company (1707).svg British East India Company
Spain Kingdom of Spain
Commanders and leaders
Vicente da Silva
Flag of the British East India Company (1707).svg Robert McNamara
Spain Pedro Antonio de Cevallos
1 frigate
1 private merchantman
3 dispatch vessels
12 gunboats
15 transports
700 infantry
200 Dragoons
1,800 militia
1,200 indians[2]
Casualties and losses
Unknown killed or wounded
2,355 prisoners
87 artillery pieces taken
26 vessels taken
1 ship of the line destroyed[1]
(272 fatalities on board)
12 killed and 200 wounded[1]

The First Cevallos expedition was a military action between September 1762 and April 1763, by the Spanish forces led by Don Pedro Antonio de Cevallos, Governor of Buenos Aires, against the Portuguese in the Banda Oriental as part of the Seven Years' War. The Portuguese territories of Colonia del Sacramento were conquered by the Spaniards and the Anglo-Portuguese forces were defeated and forced to surrender and retreat. The Colonia of Sacramento and the near territories were under Spanish control until the Treaty of Paris (1763).


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 economical ally of Great Britain. On May 9 Spain invaded Portugal, and also decided to attack Portugal in South America, and in particular to take the long disputed Colonia del Sacramento.

The expedition in 1762

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. The army was joined by a force of 1200 Indians on October 1. 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 16 ships back to Buenos Aires. Luckily for the Spanish, the Portuguese were ill prepared and on October 31, 1762 Vicente da Silva, the governor of the city, capitulated.

The sinking of the Lord Clive

Map of Colonia del Sacramento from 1762.

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 Admiralty. The biggest ship was HMS Kingston (1697) which was renamed Lord Clive (60), the other ship was the Ambuscade (40).

The small squadron, under the command of Robert McNamara left Lisbon on August 30 and was joined in Rio de Janeiro by two Portuguese warships (among which was the frigate Glória (38) 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 on both cities were fully alerted and well prepared.

On January 6, 1763, McNamara decided to attack and retake Colonia do Sacramento also in Spanish hands. 60-gun Lord Clive and the 40-gun HMS Ambuscade along with 38-gun 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 the Lord Clive, it quickly extended and ship's santabarbara blew up, it sunk immediately . There were 272 fatalities on board, including the expedition's commander Captain Robert McNamara. HMS Ambuscade and Gloria were badly damaged too, and retired from combat.

The expedition in 1763

Still in control of Sacramento, Cevallos marched his army in the spring of 1763 to the east and took on April 19 the Santa Teresa fortress, near the present-day city of Chuy on the Uruguay-Brazilian border, and Santa Tecla and San Miguel a few days later. On April 24 he arrived at Rio Grande de São Pedro only to learn that peace had been signed and that the war was over.


Sacramento and all the territory conquered by the first Cevallos expedition were given back to Portugal in the Treaty of Paris (1763). This was part of a deal to regain Cuba for the Spanish crown, which had been lost in the British expedition against Cuba and which was of much greater importance than these far-away territories.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Marley p. 296
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marley p.295


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