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Rina Prentice writes in " A Celebration of the Sea" that the earliest large scale production of maritime commemoratives came with Vernon's victory at Portobello in 1739. Speaking for the Opposition in Parliament on the subject of Spanish interference in British trade to the West Indies, Vernon had claimed that he could capture Portobello, the Spanish base on the Isthmus of Darien, "with six ships only."
He was thus sent with the six ships where he did indeed capture the town in November 1739 and the following March took the fort at Chagres in Panama. In 1741, Vernon's fleet reinforced by a squadron under the command of Sir Chaloner Ogle captured the forts at Carthagena and destroyed the Spanish squadron in the harbour.
Despite the huge popular fanfare which surrounded Vernon's success as seen by the naming of areas of London, Dublin and Edinburgh and not least Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, things did not continue to go to plan. The campaign at Carthagena ended in humiliating failure.
The British fleet of 186 ships and almost 27,000 men was defeated by a garrison of 3,500 men and six ships of the line commanded by the one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged, Spanish admiral Blas de Lezo.
The medals produced back in England rather jumped the gun and portray "Don Blas" kneeling in subjugation