When the Seven Years' War broke out in Europe, opportunities arose for the colonies occupied by the European powers in the east. Colonial governments in Asia mustered their forces to attack belligerent colonies for the purpose of acquiring new resources and reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the East Indies, particularly the Philippines.
The Battle of Wandiwash fought on January 22, 1760 was a decisive British victory yet it sapped the strength of their forces. Simón de Anda y Salazar, the Governor-General of the Philippines, saw this as a chance to mount an expedition against the British after securing the aid of the French forces in India.
But before de Anda y Salazar could gather his forces, a man named Diego Silang led an uprising in the northern regions of the Philippines which delayed his preparations for eight months by sending the colonial army to deal with the rebels.
The British on the other hand, saw this as a chance to attack the Spanish colony while they were preoccupied. In June 1762, Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish received secret orders to mount an expedition against the Spanish colony. According to the orders, Brigadier-General William Draper will be the over-all commander of the expedition, to be assisted by Colonel William Johnson as Second in Command, Major Stewart Scott as Adjutant-General and a Prussian named Captain Ernst Fleischer as Brigade-Major of the British East India Company. And on August 1, 1762, a fleet of twelve ships of the line, five frigates, and five store ships, sailed from Madras. The expeditionary force consisted of:
- 79th Draper's Regiment of Foot (700 men)
- Sepoy battalions (3500 men)
- Prussian volunteers (300 men)
- French Deserters (50 men)
The Battle of Manila
The British fleet arrived on September 24, entering Manila Bay and stationing themselves in Fort Cavite.
The next day, Draper landed his men 3 km south of Manila and were subsequently met with fierce resistance from a combined force of Spanish and Filipino troops numbering at around 100 men. The British fended off the attack only to be met with another as they continued their march towards the city. The same Spanish-Filipino force attacked them again as they were 2 km from the city, and this time the British successfully defeated their attackers, taking with them 46 prisoners.
September 26, the British managed to capture a loosely guarded fort 200 meters away from the main fortress of the city. From there they began to post their own artillery while their ships provided support by firing upon the Spanish-Filipino forces.
September 28, a small sapper force of Filipinos led by a Spaniard named Lt. Miguel Combés was sent to destroy the fort captured earlier by the British. In the middle of the night, under cover of darkness, Lt. Combés' group slowly made their way towards the British-held fort. By chance, they found the sentries asleep whom they quickly overpowered and taken prisoner. The group then proceeded to plant their bombs on the fort's base but were soon discovered by British soldiers. An exchange of gunfire erupts in the fort, resulting in the death of Lt. Combés and most of his men. The rest were taken away as prisoners.
September 30, the British surrounded the city therefore cutting off potential reinforcements and much-needed supplies.
October 2, after the store ships arrived bringing with it the much-need entrenching tools, the British finally finished constructing their battery. Acting in unison with their ships offshore, the British cannons opened fire on the guns defending the city. After five hours, the Spanish guns finally silenced.
October 5, the endless salvo of the British guns made a breach on the walls. Draper rallied his forces for an attack.
On the early hours of October 6, a substantial part of the Spanish-Filipino forces garrisoned in the city launched a preemptive strike against the British forces. The British, who were mostly asleep except the Sepoy soldiers, were taken by surprise. Nevertheless, the British force succeeded in driving the Filipinos back, but not before inflicting them heavy casualties.
At dawn of October 6, a battalion of Sepoys attacked the breach made earlier by their guns. The Filipino soldiers posted on the fortifications fought the attackers with fierce desperation. Draper sent his regiment to bolster the Sepoys. Still, the Filipino defenders held on. Later on that day, a British emissary arrived in Vigan, Ilocos Sur with the intent of forging an alliance with Diego Silang. The British mission succeeded.
October 7, in the midst of British bombardment, the Spanish friars preached on their parishioners to take arms and defend the city. Instilled with religious fervor, the parishioners (who were mostly Filipinos from the lower strata of society) took up arms while most (if not all) of the Spanish people fled in the apparent security of their homes. Of these Filipino militiamen one Tata Seguela will be of note, being the grandfather of the famous Papa Isio, who will lead a religious insurrection in the Visayan Islands decades later.
October 8, the British forces waved a flag of truce, asking de Anda y Salazar to surrender the city, for which the governor-general fervently refused. Realizing that de Anda y Salazar will not cede the city fortress, Draper ordered for a continued bombardment of the city. The attack killed 3,485 civilians and soldiers but still, it never deterred the governor-general.
October 9 midday, the remaining forces of de Anda y Salazar, augmented by the city's militia, mounted a final sally against the British forces who managed to secure a part of the city. de Anda y Salazar's plan is to get through the British lines and inflict as many casualties as they can, hoping that the resulting losses will make Draper reconsider. However, hours before the planned attack, a messenger from the Archbishop Manuel Rojo urged the governor-general to surrender thus preventing further slaughter.
In the afternoon of October 9, the remaining Spanish-Filipino defenders charged straight towards the British forces. Leading the attack was de Anda y Salazar himself, who was no sooner killed by a volley of musket fire. He is 60 years old.
The fight dragged on for four hours, degenerating into a fierce close quarters combat resulting in heavy casualties on both sides.
On the 11th of October, the city was finally secured and placed under the governance of Clancy Russel.
The British occupied Manila even after the end of the Seven Years' War. The British governor-general Clancy Russel demanded five million Mexican silver dollars as payment for the damages done to the expeditionary force by the Spanish-Filipino forces. The amount was quickly paid, furthered more by the capture of the Spanish treasure ship "Santísima Trinidad" with two million Mexican dollars on board.
The British suffered 1,856 dead or wounded. The total number of casualty on the Spanish-Filipino side is much higher; 5,697 dead or wounded, mostly due to the bombardment inflicted by the British.
The alliance between the British and Diego Silang continued even after the conflict, much to the anger of the Spanish colonial government who raised a complain to the British. The British, however, turned a deaf ear to the Spanish who then requested the Spanish Crown for additional troops to prepare for an impending conflict.
The tension will escalate until 1766, when the spark culminated in the Anglo-Spanish War of the Indies.
The Simón de Anda y Salazar and William Draper Duel
The governor-general was said to have sent to the British commander a fine gold-lined wooden box containing an ivory-handled pistol to settle the impending conflict through duel. Claiming that, as he is the "insulted" faction, he had the right to choose the weapon of choice, thus he sent the said pistol to Draper. The British commander was said to have accepted the offer but a subordinate of the governor-general had already issued the orders to attack the British forces marching towards the city. This may have been true as the governor-general was quoted as saying,
"Las muertes de muchos de ellos nunca se evitará ahora" meaning "The deaths of many will never be avoided now".