1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gibraltar
GIBRALTAR, a British fortress and crown colony at the western entrance to the Mediterranean. The whole territory is rather less than 3 m. in length from north to south and varies in width from 1 to 3 m. Gibraltar is called after Tariq (or Tarik) ben Zaid, its name being a corruption of Jebel Tariq (Mount Tariq). Tariq invaded Andalusia in A.D. 711 with an army of 12,000 Arabs and Berbers, and in the last days of July of that year destroyed the Gothic power in a three days’ fight on the banks of the river Guadalete near where Jerez de la Frontera now stands. In order to secure his communications with Africa he ordered the building of a strong castle upon the Rock, known to the Romans as Mons Calpe. This work, begun in the year of the great battle, was completed in 742. It covered a wide area, reaching from the shores of the bay to a point half-way up the north-western slope of the rock; here the keep, a massive square tower, still stands and is known as the Moorish castle.
The Rock itself is about 21 m. in length, and at its northern end rises almost perpendicularly from the strip of flat sandy ground which connects it with the Spanish mainland. At the north end, on the crest of the Rock 1200 ft. above sea-level, is the Rock gun, famous in the great siege. Some six furlongs to the south is the signal station (1255 ft.), through which the names and messages of passing ships are cabled to all parts of the world. Rather less than 3 m. south of the signal station is O’Hara’s Tower (1408 ft.), the highest point of the Rock. South of O’Hara’s Tower the ground falls steeply to Windmill Hill, a fairly even surface about 1 of a sq. m. in area, and sloping from 400 to 300 ft. above the sea-level. South of Windmill Hill are Europa Flats, a wall-like cliff 200 ft. or more in height dividing them. Europa Flats, sloping south, end in cliffs 50 ft. high, which at and around Europa Point plunge straight down into deep water. Europa Point is the most southern point of the Rock, and is distant 111 nautical miles from the opposite African coast. On Europa Point is the lighthouse in 5° 21′ W. and 36° 6′ 30″ N. On the Mediterranean side the Rock is almost as steep and inaccessible as it is from the north. Below the signal station, at the edge of the Mediterranean, lies Catalan Bay, where there is a little village chiefly inhabited by fishermen and others who make their living upon the waters; but Catalan Bay can only be approached by land from the north or by a tunnel through the Rock from the dockyard; from Catalan Bay to Europa Point the way is barred by impassable cliffs. On the west side of the Rock the slopes are less steep, especially as they near the sea, and on this side lie the town, the Alameda or public gardens, the barracks and the dockyard.
Geology.—The rock of Gibraltar consists, for the most part, of pale grey limestone of compact and sometimes crystalline structure, generally stratified but in places apparently amorphous. Above the limestone are found layers of dark grey-blue shales with intercalated beds of grit, mudstone and limestone. Both limestone and shales are of the Lower Jurassic age. Professors A. C. Ramsay and James Geikie (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, August 1878) found also in the superficial formations of the Rock various features of interest to the students of Pleistocene geology, including massive accumulations of limestone breccia or agglomerate, bone breccias, deposits of calcareous sandstone, raised beaches and loose sands. The oldest of these superficial formations is the limestone breccia of Buena Vista, devoid of fossils and apparently formed under the stress of hard frosts, indicating conditions of climate of great severity. To account for frosts like these, it is suggested that the surface of the Rock must have been raised to an elevation much greater than its present height. In that case Europe and Africa would probably have been connected by an isthmus across some part of the present site of the Straits, and there would have been a wider area of low ground round the base of the Rock. The low ground at this, and probably at a later period, must have been clothed with a rich vegetation, necessary for the support of a varied mammalian fauna, whose remains have been found in the Genista caves. After this there would seem to have been a subsidence to a depth of some 700 ft. below the existing level. This would account for the ledges and platforms which have been formed by erosion of the sea high above the present sea-level, and for the deposits of calcareous sandstone containing sea shells of existing Mediterranean species. The extent of some of these eroded ledges shows that pauses of long duration intervened between the periods of depression. The Rock seems after this to have been raised to a level considerably above that at which it now stands; Europe and Africa would then again have been united. At a later date still the Rock sank once more to its present level.
Many caves, some of them of great extent, penetrate the interior of the rock; the best known of these are the Genista and St Michael’s caves. St Michael’s cave, about 1100 ft. above sea-level at its mouth, slopes rapidly down and extends over 400 ft. into the Rock; its extreme limits have not, however, been fully explored. It consists of a series of five or more chambers of considerable extent, connected by narrow and crooked passages. The outermost cave is 70 ft. in height and 200 in length, with massive pillars of stalactite reaching from roof to floor. The second cave was named the Victoria cave by its discoverer Captain Brome; beyond these are three caves known as the Leonora caves. “Nothing,” writes Captain Brome, “can exceed the beauty of the stalactites; they form clusters of every imaginable shape—statuettes, pillars, foliages, figures,” and he adds that American visitors have admitted that even the Mammoth cave itself could not rival these giant stalactites in picturesque beauty.
The mammalian remains of the Genista cave have been described by G. Busk (“Quaternary Fauna of Gibraltar” in Trans. of Zool. Soc. vol. x. p. 2, 1877). They were found to contain remains of a bear, probably Ursus fossilis of Goldfuss; of a hyena, H. crocuta or spelaea; of cats varying from a leopard to a wild cat in size; of a rhinoceros, resembling in species remains found in the Thames valley; two forms of ibex; the hare and rabbit. No trace has been found as yet of Rhinoceros tichorinus, of Ursus spelaeus or of the reindeer; and of the elephant only a molar tooth of Elephas antiquus.
Further details may be found in the Quarterly Journ. of Geol. Soc. (James Smith of Jordanhill), vol. ii. and in vol. xxi. (Fossil Contents of the Genista Cave, G. Busk and Hugh Falconer; reprinted in Palaeontological Memoirs, H. Falconer, London, 1868).
Flora.—The upper part of the Rock is in summer burnt up and brown, but after the first autumn rains and during the winter, spring and early summer, it abounds in wild flowers and shrubs. In the public and other gardens on the lower ground, where there is a greater depth of soil, the vegetation is luxuriant and is only limited by the supply of water available for summer irrigation. Dr E. F. Kelaart (Flora Calpensis, London, 1846) enumerates more than four hundred varieties of plants and ferns indigenous to Gibraltar, and about fifty more which have been introduced from abroad. Of the former a few are said to be species peculiar to the Rock. The stone-pine and wild-olive are perhaps the only trees found growing in a natural state. In the public and private gardens and by the roadside may be seen the pepper tree, the plane, the white poplar, the acacia, the bella-sombra (Phytolacca dioica), the eucalyptus or blue gum tree, and palms of different species; and, of fruit trees, the orange, lemon, fig, pomegranate, loquat and almond. The aloe, flowering aloe and prickly pear are common, and on the eastern side of the Rock the palmito or dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis) is abundant.
Fauna.—The fauna of Gibraltar, from want of space, is necessarily scanty. The Barbary apes, said to be the only wild monkeys in Europe, are still to be found on the upper part of the Rock, but in very reduced numbers; about the beginning of the 20th century four or five only remained, which were said to be all females; a young male, however, was brought from Africa. The last male of the original stock, an old patriarch, who had died shortly before this, is believed to have killed and, it is said, eaten all the young ones. A small variety of pigeon breeds in the steep cliffs at the north end of the Rock. A few red-legged partridges, some rabbits, two or three foxes and a badger or two will complete the list.
Climate.—The climate of Gibraltar is pleasant and healthy, mild in winter, and only moderately hot in summer; but the heat, though not excessive, is lasting. The three months of June, July and August are almost always without rain, and it is not often that rain falls in the months of May and September. The first autumn rains, however, which sometimes begin in September, are usually heavy. From October to May the climate is for the most part delightful, warm sunshine prevailing, tempered by cool breezes; the spells of bad weather, although blustering enough at times, are seldom of more than a few days’ duration. The thermometer in summer does not often reach 90° F. in the shade; from 83° to 85° may be taken to be the average maximum for July and August, and these are the hottest months of the year. The average yearly rainfall is 34.4 in., and in fifty years from 1857 to 1906 the greatest recorded rainfall was 59.35 in., and the smallest 16.75 in. The water-supply for drinking and cooking purposes is almost wholly derived from rain-water stored chiefly in underground tanks; there are very few good wells. Many of the better class of houses have their own rain-water tanks, and there are large tanks belonging to the naval and military authorities. Large storage tanks have been constructed by the sanitary commissioners with specially prepared collecting areas high up the Rock. The collecting areas cover 16 acres, and the storage tanks have a capacity of over six million gallons. The tanks are excavated in the solid rock, whereby the water is kept in the dark and cool. A large quantity of brackish water for flushing purposes and baths is pumped from the sandy flats of the north front on the Spanish side of the Rock.
The Town.—The modern town of Gibraltar is of comparatively recent date, nearly all the older buildings having been destroyed during the great siege (1779–1783). The town lies, with most of its buildings crowded together, at the north-western corner of the Rock, and covers only about one-ninth part of the whole area; only a small part of it is on level ground, and those of its narrow streets and lanes which are at right angles to the line wall, or sea front, are for the most part, except at their western ends, little more than ramps or rough stairs formed of rubble stones, contracting in places into stone steps.
The public buildings present few, if any, features of general interest. The “Convent” rebuilt upon the remains of an old Franciscan monastery is the official residence of the governor. The Anglican cathedral is a poor imitation of Moorish architecture. The garrison library has excellent reading rooms and a large number of volumes of miscellaneous interest. The civil hospital is a well-planned and roomy modern building. The courthouse and exchange buildings are suited to the needs of the town. The antiquary may here and there find the remains of a Moorish bath forming part of a stable, or fragments of a sculptured stone gateway bearing the arms of Castile or of Aragon built into the wall of a modern barrack. In a small disused graveyard, near Southport gate, lie buried a number of those who fell at Trafalgar. To the south of the town are the Alameda parade and gardens, a lunatic asylum, the dockyard, graving docks and the naval and military hospitals.
Population.—The inhabitants of Gibraltar are of mixed race; after the capture of the town by the British nearly the whole of the former Spanish population emigrated in a body and founded, 6 m. away, the little town of San Roque. Most of the native inhabitants are of Italian or Genoese descent; there are also a number of Maltese, and between two and three thousand Jews. The Jews never intermarry with other races and form a distinct society of their own. The language of the people is Spanish, not very correctly spoken. English is learnt as a foreign language and is rarely, if ever, spoken by the people in their own homes. Gibraltar being primarily a fortress and naval base, every effort, in view of war contingencies, is made by the authorities to prevent the natural increase of the population. Sanitary and building regulations, modelled upon English statutes designed with quite different objects, are administered with some ingenuity and not a little severity. In this way the house room available for the poorer classes is steadily reduced. The poor are thus being gradually pushed across the frontier into the neighbouring Spanish town of La Linea de la Concepcion, itself a mere suburb of Gibraltar, whose population, however, is nearly double that of the parent city. A large army of workers come daily from “the Lines” into Gibraltar, returning at “first evening gunfire” shortly after sunset, at which time the gates are closed and locked for the night. Aliens are not allowed to reside in Gibraltar without a special permit, which must be renewed at short intervals. By an order in council, taking effect from November 1900, the like disabilities were extended to British subjects not previously resident.
The recorded births, marriages and deaths over a period of 23 years are as follows:—
The numbers of the population from causes which have been referred to are almost stationary, showing a slight tendency to decrease. There are no available statistics later than those of a census taken in 1901, from which it appeared that the population then numbered 27,460, of whom the garrison and its families amounted to 6595, the civil population, being British subjects, to 17,818, and aliens resident under permits to 3047. The latter are chiefly working men and domestic servants.
Constitution.—Gibraltar is a crown colony. Of local government properly so called there is none. There is a sanitary commission which is vested with large powers of spending and with the control of buildings and streets and other matters managed by local authorities in England. Its members are appointed by the governor. An appeal from their decisions, so far as they affect individuals, lies to the supreme court. Apart from the garrison and civil officials there are comparatively few members of the Anglican Church. The great majority of the people belong to the Church of Rome. The Jews have four synagogues. The Protestant dissenters have two places of worship, Presbyterian and Wesleyan. Education is not compulsory for the civil population, but most of the children, if not all, receive a fair education in private or private aided schools. The number of the children on the rolls of the private and private aided schools was in 1905: boys, 1504; girls, 1733; total 3237.
Commerce.—Except in respect of alcoholic liquors and tobacco Gibraltar has been a free port since the year 1705—a distinction due, it is said, to the refusal of a sultan of Morocco to allow of much-needed exports from Morocco to Gibraltar if full liberty of trade were not granted to his subjects. During the great wars of the beginning of the 19th century trade was most active in Gibraltar, and some large fortunes were made; but trade on a large scale has almost disappeared. At the point of contact of two continents, on the direct line of ocean trade with the far East, in regular steam communication with all the great ports of Europe and with North and South America, Gibraltar, by its position, is fitted to be a trade centre of the world, but the unrest and suspicion engendered in Morocco by the intrigues and designs of the European powers, and excessive protective duties and maladministration in Spain, have done much to extinguish the trade of Gibraltar. There are, however, no trustworthy statistics of imports and exports. Before the year 1898 wine, beer and spirits were the only goods which paid duty. In that year a duty of 1d. per ℔ was for the first time put upon tobacco and produced £1444; the duty was, however, in force only for a part of the year; in 1899 the duty, at the same rate, produced £7703. In 1902 the duty on tobacco was raised to 2d. per ℔ and produced £29,311. In 1905 this duty produced £24,575. The chief business of Gibraltar is the coaling of passing steamers; this gives work to several thousand men. Goods are also landed for re-export to Morocco, but the bulk of the Morocco trade, much of which formerly came to Gibraltar, is now done by lines of steamers trading to and from Morocco direct to British, German or French ports. Nearly all the fresh meat consumed in Gibraltar comes from Morocco, also large quantities of poultry and eggs. A fair amount of retail business is done with the passengers of ocean steamers which call on their way to and from the East and from North and South America.
The steam-tonnage cleared annually since 1883 is shown in the following table:—
The main sources of revenue are (i.) duties upon wine, spirits, malt liquors and tobacco; (ii.) port and harbour dues; (iii.) tavern and other licences; (iv.) post and telegraph; (v.) ground and other rents; (vi.) stamps and miscellaneous. The returns before 1898 were made in pesetas (5 = $1). In the following table these have been converted into sterling at an average of exchange 30 = £1.
The money, weights and measures in legal use are British. Before 1898 Spanish money only was in use. The great depreciation of the Spanish currency during the war with the United States led in 1898 to the reintroduction of British currency as the legal tender money of Gibraltar. Notwithstanding this change the Spanish dollar still remains in current use; much of the retail business of the town being done with persons resident in Spain, the dollar fully holds its own.
Harbour and Fortifications.—Great changes were made in the defences of Gibraltar early in the 20th century. Guns of the newest types replaced those of older patterns. The heavier pieces instead of being at or near the sea-level, are now high up, many of them on the crest line of the Rock; their lateral range and fire area has thereby been greatly increased and their efficiency improved in combination with an elaborate system of range finding.
With the completion of the new dockyard works the value of Gibraltar as a naval base has greatly increased. It can now undertake all the ordinary repairs and coaling of a large fleet. There is an enclosed harbour in which a fleet can safely anchor secure from the attacks of torpedo boats. A mole, at first intended for commercial purposes, closes the north end of the new harbour. The Admiralty, however, soon found that their needs had outgrown the first design and the so-called Commercial Mole has been taken over for naval purposes, plans for a new commercial mole being prepared. The funds for these extensive works were provided by the Naval Works Loan Acts of 1895 and subsequent years.
The land space available for the purposes of dockyard extension being very limited, a space of about 64 acres was reclaimed from the sea in front of the Alameda and the road to Rosia; some of the land reclaimed was as much as 40 ft. under water. The large quantity of material required for this purpose was obtained by tunnelling the Rock from W. to E. and from quarries above Catalan Bay village, to which access was gained through the tunnel. The graving docks occupy the dug-out site of the former New Mole Parade. There are three of these docks, 850, 550 and 450 ft. in length respectively. The largest dock is divisible by a central caisson so that four ships can be docked at one time. The docks are all 95 ft. wide at the entrance with 35½ ft. of water over the sills at low-water spring tides. The pumping machinery can empty the largest dock, 105,000 tons of water, in five hours. There are two workshops for the chief constructor’s and chief engineer’s departments, each 407 ft. long and 322 broad. For the staff captain’s department and stores there are buildings with 250,000 ft. of floor space. At the north end of the yard are the administrative offices, slipways for destroyers, a slip for small craft, an ordnance wharf and a boat camber. The reclaimed area is faced with a wharf wall of concrete blocks for an unbroken length of 1600 ft. with 33 ft. of water alongside at low tide; on this wharf are powerful shears and cranes.
The enclosed harbour covers 440 acres, 250 of which have a minimum depth of 30 ft. at low water. It is closed on the S. and S.W. by the New Mole (1400 ft.) and the New Mole extension (2700 ft.), together 4100 ft.; on the W. by the Detached Mole (2720 ft.) and on the N. by the Commercial Mole.
The New Mole, so called to distinguish it from the Old Mole and its later extension the Devil’s Tongue at the north end of the town, is said to have been begun by the Spaniards in 1620. It was successfully assaulted by landing parties from the British fleet under Sir George Rooke at the capture of Gibraltar by the British in 1704. It was extended at different times, and before the beginning of the new works was 1400 ft. in length. The New Mole, with its latest extension, has a width at top of 102 ft. It is formed of rubble stone floated into position in barges. It has a continuous wharf wall on the harbour side 3500 ft. long, with water alongside 30 to 35 ft. deep. On the outer side coal is stacked in sheds extending nearly the whole length of the mole.
The Detached Mole is a vertical wall formed of concrete blocks, each block weighing 28 tons. These blocks were built together on the sloping block system upon a rubble foundation of stone deposited by barges and levelled by divers for the reception of the concrete blocks.
The Commercial Mole is now chiefly used by the navy as a convenient wharf for destroyers. It encloses the harbour to the north and extends westward from the end of the Devil’s Tongue. At the end nearest the town are large stores; there is also a small wharf on its outer side which is used by the tenders of ocean steamers and by the small boats which ply to Algeciras.
This mole is built of rubble, and at its western end it has an arm about 1600 ft. long running S. in the direction of the Detached Mole. Parallel with and inside the western arm are five jetties. The jetties and western arm have extensive coal sheds and are faced with a concrete wharf wall of a total length of 7000 ft. with 20 to 30 ft. of water alongside. The Devil’s Tongue was an extension of the Old Mole, constructed during the great siege 1779–1783 in order to bring a flanking fire to bear upon part of the Spanish lines. It owes its name to the success with which it played its destined part. (H. M.*)
History.—Gibraltar was known to the Greek and Roman geographers as Calpe or Alybe, the two names being probably corruptions of the same local (perhaps Phoenician) word. The eminence on the African coast near Ceuta which bears the modern English name of Apes’ Hill was then designated Abyla; and Calpe and Abyla, at least according to an ancient and widely current interpretation, formed the renowned Pillars of Hercules (Herculis columnae, Ἡρακλέους στῆλαι), which for centuries were the limits of enterprise to the seafaring peoples of the Mediterranean world. The military history of the Rock begins with its capture and fortification by Tariq in 711. In 1309 it was retaken by Alonzo Perez de Guzman for Ferdinand IV. of Castile and Leon, who, in order to attract inhabitants to the spot, offered an asylum to thieves and murderers, and promised to levy no taxes on the import or export of goods. The attack of Ismail ben Ferez in 1315 (2nd siege) was frustrated; but in 1333 Vasco Perez de Meyra, having allowed the fortifications and garrison to decay, was obliged to capitulate to Mahomet IV. (3rd siege) after a defence of five months. Alonzo’s attempts to recover possession (4th siege) were futile, though pertinacious and heroic; but after his successful attack on Algeciras in 1344 he was encouraged to try his fortune again at Gibraltar. In 1349 he invested the Rock, but the siege (5th siege) was brought to an untimely close by his death in March 1350. The next or 6th siege resulted simply in the transference of the position from the hands of the king of Morocco to those of Yussef III. of Granada (1411), and the 7th, undertaken by the Spanish count of Niebla, Enrique de Guzman, proved fatal to the besieger and his forces (1435). In 1462, however, success attended the efforts of Alonzo de Arcos (8th siege), and in August the Rock passed once more under Christian sway. The duke of Medina Sidonia, a powerful grandee who had assisted in its capture, was anxious to get possession of the fortress, and though Henry IV. at first managed to maintain the claims of the crown, the duke ultimately made good his ambition by force of arms (9th siege), and in 1469 the king was constrained to declare his son and his heirs perpetual governors of Gibraltar. In 1479 Ferdinand and Isabella made the second duke marquess of Gibraltar, and in 1492 the third duke, Don Juan, was reluctantly allowed to retain the fortress. At length in 1502 it was formally incorporated with the domains of the crown. Don Juan tried in 1506 to recover possession, and added a 10th to the list of sieges. In 1540 the garrison had to defend itself against a much more formidable attack (11th siege)—the pirates of Algiers having determined to recover the Rock for Mahomet and themselves. The conflict was severe, but resulted in the repulse of the besiegers. After this the Spaniards made great efforts to strengthen the place, and they succeeded so well that throughout Europe Gibraltar was regarded as impregnable, the engineer Daniel Speckle (1536–1589) being chiefly responsible for the design of the fortifications.
Gibraltar was taken by the allied British and Dutch forces, after a three days’ siege, on the 24th of July 1704 (see Spanish Succession, War of the). The capture was made, as the war was being fought, in the interests of Charles, archduke of Austria, but Sir George Rooke (q.v.), the British admiral, on his own responsibility caused the British flag to be hoisted, and took possession in name of Queen Anne, whose government ratified the occupation. A great number of the inhabitants of the town of Gibraltar abandoned their homes rather than recognize the authority of the invaders. The Spaniards quickly assembled an army to recapture the place, and a new siege opened in October 1704 by troops of France and Spain under the marquess of Villadarias. The activity of the British admiral, Sir John Leake, and of the military governor, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt (who had commanded the land forces in July), rendered the efforts of the besiegers useless. A notable incident of this siege was the gallant attempt made by 500 chosen volunteers to surprise the garrison (31st of October), an attempt which, at first successful, in the end failed disastrously. Finally, in April 1705 the French marshal de Tessé, who had replaced Villadarias, gave up the siege and retired. During the next twenty years there were endless negotiations for the peaceful surrender of the fortress, varied in 1720 by an abortive attempt at a coup de main, which was thwarted by the resourcefulness of the governor of Minorca (Colonel Kane), who threw reinforcements and supplies into Gibraltar at the critical moment. In 1726 the Spaniards again appealed to arms. But the count of las Torres, who had the chief command, succeeded no better than his predecessors. The place had been strengthened since 1705, and the defence of the garrison under Brigadier Clayton, the lieutenant-governor, Brigadier Kane of Minorca, and the governor, the earl of Portmore, who arrived with reinforcements, was so effective that the armistice of the 12th of June practically put a close to the siege, though two years elapsed before the general pacification ensued.
Neither in the War of the Austrian Succession nor in that of 1762 did Spain endeavour to besiege the rock, but the War of American Independence gave her better opportunities, and the great siege of 1779–1783 is justly regarded as one of Siege of Gibraltar (1779–1783). the most memorable sieges of history. The governor, General Sir George Augustus Elliot (afterwards Lord Heathfield), was informed from England on the 6th of July 1779 that hostilities had begun. A short naval engagement in the straits took place on the 11th, and General Elliot made every preparation for resistance. It was not, however, until the month of August that the Spaniards became threatening. The method of the besiegers appeared to be starvation, but the interval between strained relations and war had been well employed by the ships, and supplies were, for the time at any rate, sufficient. While the Spanish siege batteries were being constructed the fortress fired, and many useful artillery experiments were carried out by the garrison at this time and subsequently throughout the siege. On the 14th of November there took place a spirited naval action in which the privateer “Buck,” Captain Fagg, forced her way into harbour. This was one of many such incidents, which usually arose from the attempts made from time to time by vessels to introduce supplies from Tangier and elsewhere. December 1779, indeed, was a month of privation for the garrison, though of little actual fighting. In January 1780, on the rumour of an approaching convoy, the price of foods “fell more than two-thirds,” and Admiral Sir George Rodney won a great victory over De Langara and entered the harbour. Prince William Henry (afterwards King William IV.) served on board the British fleet as a midshipman during this expedition. Supplies and reinforcements were thrown into the fortress by Rodney, and the whole affair was managed with the greatest address both by the home government and the royal navy. “The garrison,” in spite of the scurvy, “might now be considered in a perfect state of defence,” says Drinkwater.
On the 7th of June took place an attack by Spanish fireships, which were successfully dealt with by the naval force in the bay under Captain Lesley of H.M. frigate “Enterprise.” Up to October the state of things within the fortress was much what it had been after Rodney’s success. “The enemy’s operations on the land side had been for many months so unimportant as scarcely to merit our attention” (Drinkwater). Scurvy was, however, prevalent (see Drinkwater, p. 121), and the supply question had again become acute. Though the enemy’s batteries did not open fire, the siege works steadily progressed, in spite of the fire from the fortress, and there were frequent small engagements at sea in which the English were not always successful. Further, the expulsion, with great harshness, of the English residents of Barbary territory put an end to a service of supply and information which had been of the greatest value to Elliot (January 1781). Three more months passed in forced inaction, which the garrison, stinted as it was, endured calmly. Then, on the 12th of April 1781, on the arrival of a British relieving squadron under Admiral Darby, the whole of the Spanish batteries opened fire. Stores were landed in the midst of a heavy bombardment, and much damage was done both to the fortifications and military buildings and to the town. At this time there was a good deal of indiscipline in the garrison, with which General Elliot dealt severely. This was in the last degree necessary, for the bombardment continued up to the 1st of June, after which the rate of the enemy’s fire decreased to 500 rounds per day. By the 12th of July it had almost ceased. In September the firing again became intense and the casualties increased, the working parties suffering somewhat heavily. In October there was less expenditure of ammunition, as both sides were now well covered, and in November the governor secretly prepared a great counterstroke. The sortie made on the night of the 26th-27th of November was brilliantly successful, and the Spanish siege works were mostly destroyed. At the close of the year the garrison was thus again in an excellent position.
Early in 1782 a new form of gun-carriage wheel, allowing of a large angle of depression being given, was invented by an officer of the Royal Artillery, and indeed throughout the siege many experiments (such as would nowadays be carried out at a school of gunnery) were made with guns, mountings, ammunition, methods of fire, &c., both in Gibraltar and in the Spanish camp. The gun-carriage referred to enabled 93% of hits to be obtained at 1400 yds. range. In April grates for heating shot were constructed by order of the governor; these were destined to be famous. At the same time it was reported that the duc de Crillon was now to command the besiegers (French and Spaniards) with D’Arçon as his chief engineer. The grand attack was now imminent, and preparations were made to repel it (July 1782). The chief feature of the attack was to be, as reported on the 26th of July, ten ships “fortified 6 or 7 ft. thick ... with green timber bolted with iron, cork and raw hides; which were to carry guns of heavy metal and be bomb-proof on the top with a descent for the shells to slide off; that these vessels ... were to be moored within half gunshot of the walls,” &c. On the other side many of the now existing rock galleries were made about this time. The count of Artois and another French prince arrived in the French lines in August to witness the culminating effort of the besiegers, and some polite correspondence passed between Crillon and the governor (reprinted in Drinkwater, p. 267). The garrison made a preliminary trial of the red-hot shot on the 8th of September, and the success of the experiment not only elated the garrison but was partly instrumental in causing Crillon to hasten the main attack. After a preliminary bombardment the famous battering ships took up their positions in broad daylight on the 13th and opened fire. The British solid shot seem to have failed absolutely to penetrate the massive wooden armour on the sides and the roofs of the battering ships, and about noon the ships had settled down to their work and were shooting coolly and accurately. But between 1 and 2 p.m. the British artillerymen began to use the red-shot freely. All day the artillery duel went on, the shore guns, though inferior in number, steadily gaining the upper hand, and the battering ships were in great distress by nightfall. The struggle continued in the dark, the garrison now shooting rapidly and well, and one by one the ten ships were set on fire. Before noon on the 14th the attack had come to an end by the annihilation of the battering fleet, every ship having been blown up or burnt to the water’s edge. Upwards of 8300 rounds were expended by the garrison though less than a hundred pieces were in action. The enemy’s bombardment was, however, resumed and partial engagements continued up to the third naval relief of the fortress by Lord Howe, who won a great victory at sea over the Spaniards. The long siege came to an end on the 6th of February 1783, when the duc de Crillon informed Elliot that the preliminaries of peace had been signed. On the 31st of March the duke visited the fortress, and many courtesies passed between the late enemies. Captain (afterwards Colonel) John Drinkwater (1762–1844), the historian of the siege, first published his work in 1785. A new edition of A History of the Siege of Gibraltar was published in 1905. The history of the four eventful years’ siege is fully detailed also in the Memoir, attached to Green’s Siege of Gibraltar (1784), of its gallant defender Sir George Augustus Elliot, afterwards Lord Heathfield, whose military skill and moral courage place him among the best soldiers and noblest men of his time.
Since 1783 the history of Gibraltar has been comparatively uneventful. In the beginning of 1801 there were rumours of a Spanish and French attack, but the Spanish ships were defeated off Algeciras in June by Admiral Saumarez. Improvements in the fortifications, maintenance of military discipline and legislation in regard to trade and smuggling, are the principal matters of recent interest.
Bibliography.—To the works which have been already mentioned may be added: I. L. de Ayala, Historia de Gibraltar (Madrid, 1792); Jas. Bell, translation of Ayala’s history (London, 1845); F. Carter, Gibraltar to Malaga (London, 1777–1780); G. Cockburn, Gibraltar, Cadiz, &c. (London, 1815); O. Debeaux and G. Dautez, Synopsis de la flore de Gibraltar (1889); E. D. Fenton, Sorties from Gibraltar, (1872); H. M. Field, Gibraltar (New York, 1888); J. Galt, Gibraltar, Sardinia, &c. (London, 1813); J. Heriot, Historical Sketch of Gibraltar (London, 1792); R. Hort, The Rock of Gibraltar (London, 1839); L. W. L. Irby, Ornithology of the Straits (London, 1875); Thos. James, History of the Herculean Straits (London, 1771); J. H. Mann, Gibraltar and its Sieges (London, 1870); Montero, Historia de Gibraltar (Cadiz, 1860); A. M. Monti, Historia de Gibraltar (Seville, 1851); J. Navarrete, Las Llaves del Estrecho (Madrid, 1882); M. S. Pasley, Wild Flowers of Gibraltar (Portsmouth, 1887); John Purdy, Gibraltar and Mediterranean Sailing Directions (London, 1840); H. J. M. Rey, Essai sur la topographie médicale de Gibraltar (Paris, 1833); Captain Sayer, History of Gibraltar (London, 1862); D. Sutherland, Gibraltar to Constantinople (London, 1790); Walker, A Year’s Insect Hunting in Gibraltar (London, 1888). (C. F. A.)