The assault on Porto Bello during the so-called 'War of Jenkins' Ear', signed 'Louis Dodd' (lower right) oil on panel 46 x 74.3cm (18 1/8 x 29 1/4in).
Even before the formal declaration of war between England and Spain in October 1739, the Admiralty had despatched a fleet under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon to the Caribbean under orders to capture the fortress of Porto Bello. Situated on the north coast of the Isthmus of Darien, near modern Colon, the strongly fortified town played a vital rôle in the Spanish subjugation of Central America and, if taken, would be a severe blow to Spain's domination of the rich West Indian islands. After weeks of preparation, Vernon's fleet of nine ships sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica, and anchored off Porto Bello on 20th November 1739. The amphibious assault and bombardment began the next day and, despite a vigorous defence, the Spaniards lost heart during the night and surrendered the following morning. It was a brilliant tactical victory for Vernon and, as a result, he became a popular hero at home even though his subsequent career never lived up to this early triumph.