England in the Mediterranean: A Study of the Rise and Influence of British Power within the Straits 1603-1713 - Vol. 2

By Julian S. Corbett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
GIBRALTAR AND MALAGA

WITH the change of front which had been forced upon Rooke and the British Government a practically new naval campaign commences. Owing to the inability of Savoy or the Imperialists in Italy to provide the necessary military element, the elaborate design which Marlborough had formed for breaking into the centre of Louis's widespread position had to go by the board. Without the co-operation of an adequate military force Rooke could do nothing. It was only on the extreme opposite flank to that upon which Marlborough was closing that this condition existed. True, the army of the allies in the Peninsula was weak and unsatisfactory enough; still, as they stood, it was the only point where naval and military co-operation could be brought into play, and it was therefore only in this quarter of the vast field of hostilities that Rooke could hope to make the enemy feel the smart of his command of the sea.

For the moment, however, that command was threatened. By the escape of the Brest squadron Rooke was in danger of finding himself in inferior force at the vital point, and his sole and immediate object became the defeat of that squadron in order to prevent its junction with that of Toulon. It was now a purely naval question, with which Rooke was quite at home, and, rightly disregarding all political and military distractions, he

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