War of Jenkins' Ear
British-Spanish conflict


War of Jenkins' Ear was a British-Spanish conflict. It was provoked by a series of incidents in the Americas such as border disagreements with Spain in Florida, Spanish naval hostilities and English logging activities in Honduras. When the British government decided to use colonial troops in its campaign against the Spanish provinces in the Americas, Lieutenant Governor William Gooch raised Virginia's quota of 400 men, known thereafter as "Colonel Gooch's American Regiment." They were part of a force of 3,000 colonials under the command of former Virginia governor Colonel Alexander Spotswood, quartermaster general of the forces from America. When Spotswood died in Annapolis in 1740, Gooch succeeded to his military posts. Departing in October 1740 from the Virginia capes, he led an expedition against the Spanish in Cartagena (present-day Colombia). Gooch was absent from Williamsburg for ten months, leaving the government in the hands of the Council. The attack on the Spanish at Cartagena was unsuccessful, and Gooch himself was severely wounded when he was struck by a cannonball that injured both legs. In spite of the disastrous nature of the campaign, Gooch reported that "the Virginians were mightily rejoiced at my return day and night firing guns, bonfires and illuminations."

The conflict acquired its colorful name as a result of widespread public outrage when shipmaster Robert Jenkins reported to the House of Commons that the Spanish had cut off his ear for suspected smuggling activities.

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