The Zambales Incident

Preface

This story covers an incident that occurred during the period of attempted British incursions into the remote Spanish East Indies Colony, one of the more obscure episodes of later 18th century colonial history. Few original records or documents about the incident still exist today.

This is partly due to the great destruction of documents during the Battle for Manila in 1945 and partly because both the Spanish and British Colonial authorities at the time decided this “Incident” should be covered up and expunged from most records.

After many years of research, the author has allowed himself the liberty of the historical fiction writer to add meat to the skeletal information available. He has, however, attempted to keep this enigmatic story as close to the known facts as possible.

The Historical Background

During the Seven Years War (1756 — 1763) in Asia, Britain fought against France, the Mughal Empire, and Spain. By 1758, the British were victorious against the French and the Mughals in India. In 1762, the British military joined with the East India Company (EIC) to send a joint expeditionary force from Madras against Manila, the capital of the Spanish East Indies. The British captured the fortified city and occupied it for two years until the end of the war.

After the war, Britain had become the dominant new naval power in Asia and The EIC began to expand its lucrative China trade. To support this trade, they wanted to establish new naval bases east of India, on the route to China. The EIC had originally agreed to join the naval expedition to Manila under the belief that, at the war’s end, Manila could be returned to Spain in exchange for its southern Philippine island of Mindanao where the EIC could establish such a new far-eastern naval and trade base.

In the complicated peace negotiations in Paris at the end of the war however, the British government negotiators agreed that in return for both Manila and Havana, Cuba (which Britain had also captured in the war), the British would instead take Spanish Florida and a large ransom in gold to pay their debts. This left the EIC frustrated and still looking for a suitable new naval base east of India.

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Published: 29 June, 2020

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