Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Seeing off the English in Santa Cruz

Reenactors recreate the Battle of Santa Cruz

The annual recreation of 'La Gesta del 25 de Julio' (Battle of Santa Cruz 1797, which is celebrating its 222nd anniversary), will this year pay tribute to Corporal Diego Correa, who, ill, left his detachment in the battery of La Concepción with just a handful of soldiers and managed capture 17 British soldiers, a cannon and the flag of the frigate 'Emerald'.

Diego Correa Corbalán, who belonged to the Güímar regiment, was the first to alert of the approach of the English boats. Born in La Laguna in 1772, he was promoted to the rank of Captain while serving in Cádiz in 1808. In 1820 he appeared in the United States and later was placed in Havana, Gibraltar and Madrid. In 1836 he was appointed Chief of the military administration services in the Philippines, where he died in 1843.

It is thanks to Correa, that the combat flag of the frigate Emerald, one of the most important trophies of the Gesta, is preserved. It is on display in the Military Museum, where the label on the exhibit says that it was found at dawn on 25 July 1797 in one of the launches stranded on the coast of Santa Cruz. 

The events of the recreation this year will start on Friday July 19 with the landing of British troops in the area of the ​​Castillo Negro (Black Castle) and the beginning of the battle, and will continue the next day, on Saturday 20 July, with the establishment of a camp in the Alameda del Duque de Santa Elena from midday. At that time, a cannon salute will be fired and a concert will be given by the Friends of Art of San Andrés music band. During the day, the public will be able to visit the camp where they can observe what daily life was like for the troops that defended the city in 1797. Later in the evening, from 8:30 p.m., the battle will be resumed through the main streets of the city center, such as the surroundings of La Noria, La Concepción and the Barranco de Santos, until those dastardly English sign their surrender in the former convent of Santo Domingo (Sala de arte La Recova).

On Sunday 21 July, General Antonio Gutiérrez will be honored with the laying of a wreath on his tomb (in the Church of La Concepción, Santa Cruz de Tenerife) commemorating the 220th anniversary of his death.

In addition, there will be parallel activities such as a conference on the terrace of the Casino where the locations of the battle will be described, an exhibition on characters of the era and a play and tasting of beer, cheese and wine in the Círculo de Amistad XII de Enero in memory of the exchange of gifts between General Gutiérrez and Admiral Nelson.

The great effort of the association (Asociación Histórico-Cultural Gesta del 25 de julio de 1797) to coordinate activities - with more than 50 people participating apart from the Fiestas staff - has been recognised, which, say the city council, will turn Santa Cruz this coming weekend into a "meeting point of culture and leisure" that will be a "tourist attraction" and will help to dynamize the city economically.

Not sure that "getting trounced" - or even rightfully seen off - is quite what I would term a tourist attraction for the British, but we did ought to know more about this history.

Please go along and help the reenactors sing "What shall we do with the drunken sailor?"

Recreación de la Gesta del 25 de julio