Menorca, Battle of 1756

Menorca, Battle of (1756)


a naval battle fought on May 20 between an English squadron (13 ships of the line under the command of Admiral J. Byng) and a French squadron (12 ships of the line under the command of Admiral R. M. La Galissoniére) in the Seven Years’ War of 1756-63 near the Balearic Islands.

In the battle of Menorca, Byng, blindly following linear tactics patterns, was unable to deploy his ships in a line for combat and take advantage of his numerical superiority; moreover, afraid to disrupt his formation, he did not support the ships of his advance guard, which had been detached from the center and suffered heavily from French flanking fire. Having failed to fulfill its mission, the English squadron returned to Gibraltar. Since Byng did not completely carry out the British Admiralty’s hackneyed instructions, which demanded that the ships be deployed each time in a line parallel to the line of the enemy ships and that each ship be directed to engage the corresponding ship of the enemy line, he was put on trial and shot. The battle of Menorca was a manifestation of the crisis of linear tactics at sea.