Siege of Guadeloupe
Part of War of the Spanish Succession

Guadeloupe; the English landed on Basse-Terre
Date19 March – 15 May 1703 (8 March to 4 May, O.S.) [1]
Result French victory
 France  England
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Charles Auger
Kingdom of France Nicolas de Gabaret
Kingdom of England Christopher Codrington
Kingdom of England Charles Wills
1,000 - 1,800
12 ships
4,000 troops and militia
45 ships

The siege of Guadeloupe took place from March to May 1703 during the War of the Spanish Succession, when an English expeditionary force led by Christopher Codrington landed on Guadeloupe in the French West Indies, and laid siege to the capital of Basse-Terre. Charles Auger, the French governor, received reinforcements from Martinique led by Nicolas de Gabaret. The latter opted for a Fabian strategy and scorched earth tactics, destroying resources and Fort St Charles in the process. A lack of supplies and heavy losses from disease forced the English to lift the siege in May.


In March 1703, the English landed on the western part of Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies, near the main settlement of Basse-Terre. Codrington laid siege to Fort St Charles, held by a garrison under Charles Auger, while sending out parties of troops to burn and destroy houses, farms, works and plantations. They were also ordered to forage and plunder, because provisions were in short supply.[2]

Reinforcements arrived from Martinique on 3 April, led by its governor Nicolas de Gabaret who took over command, and blew up the fort. He adopted scorched earth tactics, destroying resources before falling back into the interior, then harassing the English while disease and lack supplies reduced their strength. While highly unpopular with French plantation owners, it proved extremely effective.[3]

By the end of April, disease began afflicting the soldiers ashore and Codrington was evacuated when he too fell ill. His deputy Charles Wills took over command and began evacuating the survivors in early May. Basse-Terre town was set ablaze as the fleet, taking captured guns, sailed on to St Christopher's Island.[2]


  1. ^ "High Tide of Empire (1700-1777)", in Wars of the Americas A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present, by David Marley (ABC-CLIO, 1998) p.225
  2. ^ a b Handley 2004.
  3. ^ Pritchard 2003, pp. 376–377.


16°15′00″N 61°34′59″W / 16.2500°N 61.5830°W / 16.2500; -61.5830