General Eliott and the Defence of Gibraltar, 1779-1783

During the American War of Independence, writes T.H. McGuffie, Gibraltar was saved by an intrepid Commander from Franco-Spanish conquest.

On June 19th, 1779, Lieutenant-General George Augustus Eliott, Governor of Gibraltar, put on his best uniform and rode out northwards from the Land Port Gate and across the sandy isthmus to the mainland. He was accompanied by his own personal suite and officers of the five British and three Hanoverian regiments in the garrison.

Their purpose was to congratulate the Spanish Governor of the nearby town of San Roque, Don Joaquin Mendoza, on his recent promotion to Lieutenant General. But their reception was disappointing. No refreshment was offered, beyond a single cup of chocolate brought out to Eliott himself.

Mendoza appeared embarrassed; the visit was short and Eliott and his company rode back in a bad temper. Discourtesy from the most courteous of nations was not at all in character, especially when shown by a man who, with his lady and a large party, had been entertained by the British general in tremendous style only a few days earlier.

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