ALDANA Y ORTEGA, JOSÉ

?1759 - after 1818 from Spain


Spanish naval officer, was born in San Lucar de Barrameda, Cádiz, probably in 1759 (his age was given as 57 when an extract of his service record was issued in 1816). Aldana joined the Spanish navy as a guardiamarina on 6 May 1774. As an alférez de navío on board the snow* Marte he took part in operations against the Portuguese at the island of Santa Catarina on the south coast of Brazil and Colonia del Sacramento in the River Plate between 1776 and 1778. On returning to Spain he served in several ships in the Mediterranean, operating against Barbary pirates and, in 1781 in command of a gunboat, took part in sixteen attacks on Gibraltar, resulting in his promotion to teniente de fragata on 16 September that year. Promoted to teniente de navío on 15 November 1784, he sailed once again for the River Plate in 1785, where he joined the corvette San Gil as second-in-command under Pedro de MESA and sailed in her to Puerto de la Soledad (Port Louis). On his return to Spain he served for a time in the ship Santa Isabel. He was next appointed in command of the corvette Santa Escolástica in July 1792, sailing in her to the River Plate for the third time and in this station he continued in command of this vessel, taking over as as comandante gobernador of the Spanish settlement at Puerto de la Soledad from Pedro SANGUINETO during the first days of April 1794, until he was relieved by the same officer on 15 June 1795. Aldana relieved Sanguineto in his turn on 15 March 1796, remaining in post until 20 February 1797 when he was relieved by Luis de MEDINA. During his second term as governor he was promoted to capitán de fragata on 27 August 1796. It was also in his second term that the brig Carmen y Ánimas, commanded by Gerardo BONDAS, was forced to take shelter in the entrance to Port Salvador on 5 July 1796, having been damaged in a severe gale, her crew exhausted and short of water and provisions. In response to Bondas's urgent request for help Aldana sent six seamen overland with food and other necessities, with orders for Bondas to sail for Puerto de la Soledad. After losing an anchor in getting under way, Bondas anchored off the Spanish settlement on 13 July. The brig was given a complete overhaul with the limited resources available and Bondas sailed on 23 October, presumably to Montevideo, to report his inability to carry out the annual cruise round the islands to discover any attempt by foreigners to form settlements or to exploit the marine resources. With the benefit of his experience as second-in-command to Pedro de Mesa (1786-8) Aldana knew well the administrative peculiarities of the colony and was familiar with various localities on West Falkland. Returning to Montevideo on being relieved by Luis de Medina, Aldana remained in the the River Plate naval command until 27 February 1802, when he returned to Cádiz on board the frigate Santa Magdalena. His final promotion to capitán de navío took place on 23 February 1809. He retired from the navy on 9 February 1816.

Authors

Andrew David & Carlos Novi