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Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chili, Peru and Brazil, from Spanish and Portuguese Domination
Vol 2, Chapter II


On the 3rd of April, we put to sea with a squadron of four ships only, viz. the Pedro Primiero, Captain Crosbie, Piranga, Captain Jowett, Maria de Gloria, Captain Beaurepaire, and Liberal, Captain Garcao--two others which accompanied us, viz. the Guarani, Captain de Coito, and Real, Captain de Castro, were intended as fireships. Two vessels of war, the Paraguassu and the Nitherohy, being incomplete in their equipment, were of necessity left behind.

The Nitherohy, Captain Taylor, joined on the 29th of April, and on the 1st of May we made the coast of Bahia. On the 4th, we made the unexpected discovery of thirteen sail to leeward, which proved to be the enemy's fleet leaving port with a view of preventing or raising the blockade. Shortly afterwards the Portuguese Admiral formed line of battle to receive us, his force consisting of one ship of the line, five frigates, five corvettes, a brig, and schooner.

Regularly to attack a more numerous and better trained squadron with our small force, manned by undisciplined and--as had been ascertained on the Voyage--disaffected crews, was out of the question. On board the flagship there were only a hundred and sixty English and American seamen, the remainder consisting of the vagabondage of the capital, with a hundred and thirty black marines, just emancipated from slavery. Nevertheless, observing an opening in the enemy's line, which would enable us to cut off their four rearmost ships, I made signals accordingly, and with the flagship alone gave the practical example of breaking the line, firing into their frigates as we passed. The Portuguese Admiral promptly sent vessels to the aid of the four cut off, when, hauling our wind on the larboard tack, we avoided singly a collision with the whole squadron, but endeavoured to draw the enemy's ships assisting into a position where they might be separately attacked to advantage.

Had the rest of the Brazilian squadron come down in obedience to signals, the ships cut off might have been taken or dismantled, as, with the flagship I could have kept the others at bay, and no doubt have crippled all in a position to render them assistance. To my astonishment the signals were disregarded, and--for reasons which will presently be adduced--no efforts were made to second my operations.

For some time the action was continued by the Pedro Primiero alone, but to my mortification the fire of the flagship was exceedingly ill-directed. A still more untoward circumstance occurred in the discovery that two Portuguese seamen who had been stationed to hand up powder, were not only withholding it, but had made prisoners of the powder boys who came to obtain it! This would have been serious but for the promptitude of Captain Grenfell, who, rushing upon the men, dragged them on deck; but to continue the action under such circumstances was not to be thought of; and as the enemy had more than double our numerical force, I did not consider myself warranted in further attempting, with greater hazard, what on a future opportunity might be accomplished with less. Quitting the enemy's ships cut off, we therefore hauled our wind, to join the vessels which had kept aloof, and to proceed to the station previously appointed as the rendezvous of the squadron, whither the fireships were to follow. In this affair no lives were lost.

Extremely annoyed at this failure, arising from non-fulfilment of orders, and finding, from experience on the voyage, that we had been hurried to sea, without consideration as to the materials of which the squadron was composed, a rigid inquiry was instituted, which gave me such cogent reasons for losing all confidence in it, that on the day following I considered it expedient to address the following letter to the Prime Minister, Andrada, pointing out that if prompt steps were not taken to add to our strength, by providing more efficient crews, the result might be to compromise the interests of the empire, no less than the character of the officers commanding.

(Secret) H.I.M.S. Pedro Primiero, at Sea,

May 5, 1823.


Availing myself of your permission to address you upon points of a particular nature, and referring you to my public despatches to the Minister of Marine, I beg leave to add that it was not only unfavourable winds which retarded our progress, but the extreme bad sailing of the Piranga and Liberal. Neither these ships nor the Nitherohy, which sails equally ill, are adapted to the purposes to be effected, as from their slowness, the enemy has an opportunity to force an action under any circumstances, however disadvantageous to this undisciplined squadron. The Real is no better, and her total uselessness as a ship of war, has determined me to prepare her as a fireship, there appearing no probability of the others joining.

From the defective sailing and manning of the squadron it seems, indeed, to me, that the Pedro Primiero is the only one that can assail an enemy's ship of war, or act in the face of a superior force, so as not to compromise the interests of the empire and the character of the officers commanding. Even this ship--in common-with the rest--is so ill-equipped as to be much less efficient than she otherwise would be.

This letter, you will observe, is not intended to meet the public eye, but merely to put the Government in possession of facts necessary for its information.

Our cartridges are all unfit for service, and I have been obliged to cut up every flag and ensign that could be spared, to render them serviceable, so as to prevent the men's arms being blown off whilst working the guns, and also to prevent the constant necessity of sponging, &c. which, from the time it consumes, diminishes the effective force of the ships fully one half.

The guns are without locks--which they ought to have had in order to their being efficient.

The sails of this ship are all rotten--the light and baffling airs on our way hither, having beaten one set to pieces, and the others are hourly giving way to the slightest breeze of wind.

The bed of the mortar which I received on board this ship was crushed on the first fire--being entirety rotten; the fuzes for the shells are formed of such wretched composition that it will not take fire with the discharge of the mortar, and are consequently unfit for use on board a ship where it is extremely dangerous to kindle the fuze otherwise than by the explosion; even the powder with which this ship is supplied is so bad, that six pounds will not throw our shells more than a thousand yards, instead of double that distance.

The marines neither understand gun exercise, the use of small arms, nor the sword, and yet have so high an opinion of themselves that they will not assist to wash the decks, or even to clean out their own berths, but sit and look on whilst these operations are being performed by seamen; being thus useless as marines, they are a hinderance to the seamen, who ought to be learning their duty in the tops, instead of being converted into sweepers and scavengers. I have not yet interfered in this injurious practice, because I think that reforms of the ancient practice of the service, ought to form the subject of instruction from the Government --and also, because at this moment, any alterations of mine might create dissatisfactions and dissensions even more prejudicial to the service in which we are engaged, than the evils in question.

With respect to the seamen, I would observe, that, in order to create an effective marine, young active lads of from fourteen to twenty should be selected. Almost the whole of those who constitute the crews of these vessels--with the exception of the foreign seamen, are not only totally unpractised in naval profession, but are too old to learn.

I warned the Minister of Marine, that every native of Portugal put on board the squadron--with the exception of officers of known character--would prove prejudicial to the expedition, and yesterday we had a clear proof of the fact. The Portuguese stationed in the magazine, actually withheld the powder whilst this ship was in the midst of the enemy, and I have since learned that they did so from feelings of attachment to their own countrymen. I now inclose you two letters on this subject--one just received from the officer commanding the Real, whose crew were on the point of carrying that vessel into the enemy's squadron for the purpose of delivering her up! I have also reason to believe, that the conduct of the Liberal yesterday in not bearing down upon the enemy and not complying with the signal which I had made to break the line--was owing to her being manned with Portuguese. The Maria de Gloria has also a great number of Portuguese, which is the more to be regretted, as otherwise her superior sailing, with the zeal and activity of her captain, would render her an effective vessel. To disclose to you the truth, it appears to me that one half of the squadron is necessary to watch over the other half: and, assuredly, this is a system which ought to be put an end to without delay.

A greater evil is, that this ship is one hundred and twenty seamen short of her complement and three hundred short of what I should consider an efficient crew, whilst the bad quality and ignorance of the landsmen, makes the task of managing her in action no easy matter, the incessant bawling going on rendering the voices of the officers inaudible. Had this ship yesterday been manned and equipped as she ought to have been, and free from the disadvantages stated, there is no doubt whatever in my mind, but, that singly, we could have dismantled half the ships of the enemy.

On the whole, Sir, you must perceive that I have not been supplied with any of those facilities which I requested to be placed in my hands. I am, however, aware of the difficulties under which a new Government labours, and am ready to do all in my power under any circumstances. What I have to request of you is, that you will do me the justice to feel that the predicament in which I am now placed, is somewhat analogous to your own, and that if I cannot accomplish all I wish, the deficiency arises from causes beyond my control; but I entreat you to let me have--at least this ship-- well manned, and I will answer for her rendering more efficient service than the whole squadron besides--constituted as it now is.

You will perceive by my public despatch addressed to the Minister of Marine, that although we passed through the enemy's line, and, I may add, actually brushed the nearest vessel, which we cut off--yet nothing really useful was effected, notwithstanding that the vessel we touched ought to have been sunk, and those separated to have been dismantled or destroyed. I am quite vexed at the result--which was such, however, as might have been expected from the bad manning of the squadron.

I have determined to proceed forthwith to the Moro San Paulo, and to leave there the ill-sailing vessels. I intend to remove all the effective officers and seamen from the Piranga and Nitherohy, into this ship, and with her alone, or attended only by the Maria de Gloria, to proceed to Bahia, to reconnoitre the situation of the enemy at their anchorage, and obtain the information requisite to enable me to enter on more effectual operations.

I have the honour, &c.


Ill. Exmo. Senor JOSE BONIFACIO D'ANDRADE Y SILVA, Ministro e Secretario d'Estado.

A rigorous blockade was nevertheless established, in spite of our deficiencies or the efforts made to raise or evade it--though the enemy were bold in reliance upon their numbers, and none the less so, perhaps, from considering our recent failure a defeat. They did not, however, venture to attack us, nor were we yet in a condition to meddle further with them.

The blockade of the port was not calculated to effect anything decisive, beyond paralysing the naval operations of the enemy's squadron. Even this would not prevent the Portuguese from strengthening themselves in positions on shore, and thus, by intimidating all other districts within reach,--enable them to bar the progress of independence. I therefore determined, as a force in our condition was not safe to hazard in any combination requiring prompt and implicit obedience, to adopt the step of which I had apprised the Prime Minister, and took the squadron to Moro San Paulo, where, transferring from the bad sailing frigates to the flagship, the captains, officers, and best petty officers and seamen, the Pedro Primiero was rendered more efficient than the whole together; and with her and the Maria de Gloria, I resolved to conduct further operations against the enemy--leaving the Piranga, and Nitherohy, together with all the other vessels, in charge of Captain Pio--the two senior captains having been transferred to the flagship, in charge of their officers and men.

There was, however, another reason for leaving the remainder of the squadron at Moro San Paulo. Before quitting Rio de Janeiro, I had urged on the Government the necessity of immediately forwarding fireships, as the most reliable means for destroying a superior force. These had not been supplied; but in their place a quantity of inflammable and explosive materials had been sent. As several prizes had been taken, I determined to convert them into fireships, as well as the Real schooner--a useless vessel, the crew of which had shewn that they were not to be depended upon; so that the remaining ships of the squadron, though unreliable in other respects, were well employed in carrying these objects into execution.

In order to protect the ships and men thus engaged, I directed a body of marines to be landed, for the purpose of making a show by forming and manning batteries to repel any attack, though, had such been made, neither the batteries nor their defenders would have been of much service.

The flagship, together with the Maria de Gloria, now proceeded to cruize off Bahia, with such success that all supplies were cut off by sea, notwithstanding repeated attempts to introduce vessels from San Mattheos with farinha--a dozen of which fell into our hands, in spite of the enemy's superiority.

As the Carolina had now joined us, I directed her to take under convoy the captured transports with provisions, whilst the Guarani was sent to scour the coast, with orders to avoid approaching the enemy's fleet, and to bring me information as to the progress of the fireships, upon which I now saw that I must mainly rely.

On the 21st, I considered it expedient to address the following private letter to the Minister of Marine:--

Off Bahia, N.W. 12 miles,

May 21, 1833.

Most Illustrious Sir,

In addition to my official letters of the 3rd and 4th inst. I beg to acquaint you that, being convinced--not only from the conduct of the crew of this ship during the attack on the 4th, but from what I observed in regard to the other vessels--that nothing beneficial to His Imperial Majesty's service could be effected by any attempts to combine the whole squadron in an attack against the enemy--but, on the contrary, from the imperfect and incongruous manner in which the vessels are manned-- consequences of the most serious nature would ensue from any further attempt of the kind. I have therefore determined to take the squadron to Moro San Paulo, for the adoption of other measures essential under such circumstances, viz. to take on board such officers and men from the bad sailing vessels as will render the Pedro Primiero more effective than the whole squadron as now constituted.

In the first conversation I had with you, I gave you my opinion as to the superior benefit of equipping one or two vessels well-- rather than many imperfectly, and I again beg to press on your consideration the necessity of such efficient equipment of all vessels, whether many or few. I must also remind you of the great danger that arises from the employment of Portuguese of the inferior class in active operations against their own countrymen, because they neither do nor can consider that the dispute between Brazil and the Portuguese Government, bears any similarity to warfare as ordinarily understood. I have had sufficient proof since leaving Rio de Janeiro, that there is no more trust to be placed in Portuguese, when employed to fight against their countrymen, than there was in the Spaniards, who, on the opposite side of this continent, betrayed the patriot Governments, by whom they were employed. I shall press this point no further than to say, that so long as His Imperial Majesty's ships are so manned, I shall consider them as not only wholly inefficient, but requiring to be vigilantly watched in order to prevent the most dangerous consequences.

Since making my arrangements at the Moro, where I left all the squadron except this ship and the Maria de Gloria, I have been constantly off the port of Bahia, but could see nothing of the enemy's squadron, till the 20th, when I learned from an English vessel that they had been as far down as the Abrolhos shoals, for what purpose I know not. They consist of thirteen vessels, being the number which we encountered on the 4th. I am watching an opportunity to attack them in the night, in the hope not only of being able to damage them materially by the fire of this ship, but also in the expectation that, if they are not better disciplined than the crews of this squadron, they will occasion as much damage amongst themselves, as they would sustain if they had an equal force to contend with. In the meantime we are as effectually blockading Bahia, as if the enemy did not dare to remove from his anchorage--for both this ship and the Maria de Gloria outsail them all. We have captured three Portuguese vessels, and from the letters found therein, many more are expected from Maranham and other ports to leeward, as well as from San Mattheos.

Should the enemy's squadron return to port before I can obtain a favourable opportunity of assailing them at sea, I shall endeavour to attack them at their anchorage, and the Government may be assured that no exertion shall be wanting on my part, or on that of the officers now in this ship, to effect their destruction.

I may fairly ascribe the prepared state of the enemy, and the great force in which they appeared on the 4th, and still exhibit--to the information carried by the British ship of war Tartar, which was permitted to sail from Rio so early after our departure for Bahia, and thus served them as effectually as though she had been expressly hired for the purpose.

I have the honour, &c.


To the Minister of Marine.

On the 22nd we captured another vessel, and reconnoitred the port of Bahia, the Portuguese squadron being there at anchor. Finding this to be the case, I returned to the Moro to expedite the fireships--leaving the Maria de Gloria to watch the enemy's movements.

On the 26th the Portuguese Admiral again appeared in full force, and approached towards us at the Moro San Paulo, when we prepared for action, but the hostile squadron withdrew. The same demonstration was made for several days, the enemy not venturing on an attack, whilst, from the causes previously alleged, we were in no condition to take the initiative.

On the 26th I apprised the Minister of Marine that, when the enemy returned to port, I should make an attempt on them on the first dark night with the flagship alone, pending the equipment of the fireships. At the same time I addressed the following letter to the Prime Minister, De Andrada:--

Moro San Paulo, 26th May, 1823.


With regard to the transactions of the squadron, I beg to refer you to my despatches to the Minister of Marine, but solicit your attention to a few particulars which appear to me of importance.

In the first place, you will observe from the enclosed Bahia newspaper, that the maritime force of the enemy is contrasted with that of the squadron under my command. I should be well content were the real disparity of the respective forces no greater than the statement has set forth, but unfortunately, the Brazilians, who have never before been at sea, are of little or no use, from their total want of discipline, and of any kind of nautical knowledge; whilst the Portuguese seamen in the squadron, are not only useless--but a great deal worse, for the reasons stated in my former letters.

The enemy in Bahia are in want of all kinds of fresh provisions --though they have been using every means to procure them. Some supplies they have lately had from Buenos Ayres, and even from the Cape de Verds; but the most surprising fact is that the Brazilian Governor of San Mattheos, near the Abrolhos, and the chiefs of other small Brazilian ports in that quarter have been loading vessels for the enemy's use--under the simulated destination of Rio de Janeiro. Permit me to suggest that an investigation into this matter is highly essential.

From all the information which I can collect, the enemy at Bahia are considerably distracted in their councils, which dissensions cannot fail to be increased by seeing their vessels taken in the very mouth of the harbour, and their look-out ships driven under the guns of the batteries by those of His Imperial Majesty, I may, indeed, say by two ships alone, because in the state of the other vessels and crews I have not deemed it prudent to trust them in the neighbourhood of a port occupied by the enemy.

I have no doubt of succeeding--by some means or other--in effecting our object, and that in as short a time as can reasonably be expected--for it is not to be supposed that I should all at once accomplish objects of such magnitude with a force so inferior, and in great part so inexperienced and heterogeneously composed. On this subject I beg to call your attention to the low opinion entertained of our squadron by the enemy, as expressed in the enclosed Bahia Gazette (No 65), which, on that point, is in conformity with my own opinion as previously expressed.

I have the honour, &c. COCHRANE.

To the Prime Minister.

The following proclamation from the Bahia Gazette will shew the nature of these vapourings deliberately inserted by the Bahia authorities:--

Last week the wind was Southerly, with rain, which has rendered it impossible for our squadron to get at the Rio squadron, to decide whether Brazil shall remain in the fetters of the usurper of Rio-- or enjoy constitutional liberty. Had they credited me more, we should not have seen on our bar, an enterprising man who ruined the commerce of the Pacific, and now thinks to regain the glory he lost. The conduct of Lord Cochrane verberates in our ears-- examine his conduct in the Pacific, and observe that he lost all, and was obliged to abandon everything to the Spaniards in Peru, afterwards losing his little force in attacks and tempests. The Ministry of Rio sent for him, giving him the pompous title of "Admiral of the Brazils," and great promises--thinking that he would bring with him a squadron to help the Imperial fraudulence. This is the great wonder, who has come to carry fire and blood to the trusty Bahia, bringing with him vessels manned, for the most part, with Portuguese sailors--and not leaving in Rio a single vessel, from which he did not take even the negro sailors.

It is only the Pedro Primiero that is manned with the adventurous foreigners, so that we shall fall upon the 74, and by beating her, decide the business of Brazil. Our squadron is superior in physical force, having at their head brave officers, with plenty of troops. It is commanded in chief by an Admiral who has success before him, and who wishes to regain the opinion of the public, so that we may all wait a happy result.

Commerce--the strong pillar which upholds the Constitutional edifice--has promised great recompense to the victorious fleet and their chief, and has precious gifts for those who will shew their gratitude to Bahia, and defend their liberty. Officers who distinguish themselves, will have a medal representing their victory, which will make them known to the citizens of Bahia, who will not be ungrateful.

Citizens of all classes are ready at a moment's warning to decide the great cause of our liberty, and will measure the greatness of our triumph by the sacrifices made. Constance, courage, and union, and we shall see the despotic monster raging and tearing himself to pieces.

All we look to, at this moment, is to destroy the Rio squadron. The usurper who rules in that Capital thinks that, reaching the bar with the squadron of his imaginary Empire, we should be attacked on all sides, and compelled to make a shameful capitulation. How much you are mistaken--new-born monster! We have abundant force at our disposal; but in the meantime we must overthrow the plans of the enterprising Cochrane, and wait the result of maritime prowess.

Notwithstanding that the Portuguese opinion of the Brazilian squadron, as expressed in the official gazette, is couched in terms of contempt, as compared with the efficiency of their own squadron--yet most inconsistently, they did not venture to attack us. The fact was, however, most painful to me, being aware of its truthfulness, and I wrote to the Minister of Marine, begging him to enable us to intercept the numerous vessels expected at Bahia, by procuring three fast-sailing American clippers, armed with 18 or 24-pounders, in lieu of the useless schooners with which we were encumbered. In addition to the professed contempt of the Portuguese authorities for the ships blockading Bahia--the proclamation in which these expressions were contained, termed His Imperial Majesty a "Turkish despot,"--his Prime Minister a "tyrannical vizier," and myself "a coward;" so that I had at least the satisfaction of being maligned in good company.

On the 2nd of June, to my great satisfaction, the Portuguese returned to port, and I felt certain that so soon as the fireships in preparation at the Moro San Paulo were ready, the destruction of the whole was inevitable--the Portuguese naval officers being of the same opinion, whatever might be the official boasts of the military Commandant. According to the secret correspondence which I had established with Brazilian patriots resident within the city, the Admiral's consternation on learning that fireships were nearly equipped was excessive--and being in nightly expectation of a repetition of the scene in Basque Roads; or at least of that which little more than a year previous had been enacted before Callao--every precaution was taken against surprise. He was quite right in the conjecture as to what was intended; but did not calculate--as I was obliged to do--on the general want of experience of such matters in the Brazilian service.

Our preparations being, on the 8th of June, reported to be favourably progressing, I determined to put the attack in execution so soon as the tide flowed late enough in the evening to prevent the enemy from perceiving us in time to disturb or defeat our operations. The difficulty was to find competent persons to take charge of the fireships, so as to kindle them at the proper moment--the want of which had rendered most of the fireships ineffective--as such--in the affair of Basque Roads in 1809, and had formed one of the principal obstacles when attacking Callao in 1821. Of the explosion vessel I intended myself to take charge, as I had formerly done in Basque Roads.

On the 9th of June information arrived that the enemy had resolved on an attempt to destroy the fireships in the Moro San Paulo, and that the second division of their army was being embarked in transports for that purpose. Preparations were at once made to receive them by ordering in the vessels scouring the coast, and by such other precautionary measures as were necessary for the defence of that important station.

It was, however, difficult to make a proper defence, for, with the exception of Portuguese--who could not be trusted--there were no Artillerymen in the Brazilian squadron who had any practical knowledge of their duty, even if the guns on the Moro could be made to contribute to its defence, for the place was open, and commanded by heights, of which, as we had no troops, the enemy could possess themselves by night or by day. In case they did so, before adequate preparations could be made, I directed the guns to be spiked, that they might not be turned against the ships. No attack was, however, made, the enemy being doubtless deterred by the apparent promptitude in anticipating their movements.

On the 11th of June further information was received that the contemplated attack on the Moro had been abandoned, and that the enemy were seriously deliberating on evacuating the port before the fireships were completed, I therefore ordered the Maria de Gloria to water and re-victual for three months, so as to be in readiness for anything which might occur, as, in case the rumour proved correct, our operations might take a different turn to those previously intended. The Piranga was also directed to have everything in readiness for weighing immediately, on the flagship appearing off the Moro and making signals to that effect. The whole squadron was at the same time ordered to re-victual, and to place its surplus articles in a large shed constructed of trees and branches felled in the neighbourhood of the Moro.

Whilst the other ships were thus engaged, I determined to increase the panic of the enemy with the flagship alone. The position of their fleet was about nine miles up the bay, under shelter of fortifications, so that an attack by day would have been more perilous than prudent. Nevertheless, it appeared practicable to pay them a hostile visit on the first dark night, when, if unable to effect any serious mischief, it would at least be possible to ascertain their exact position, and to judge what could be accomplished when the fireships were brought to bear upon them.

Accordingly, having during the day carefully taken bearings of the high lands at the mouth of the river--on the night of the 12th June, I decided on making the attempt, which might possibly result in the destruction of part of the enemy's fleet, in consequence of the confused manner in which the ships were anchored, and from information received that the chief officers were invited ashore to a public ball.

As soon as it became dark, we proceeded up the river, but unfortunately, when within hail of the outermost ship, the wind failed, and the tide soon after turning, our plan of attack was rendered abortive; determined, however, to complete the reconnaissance, we threaded our way amongst the outermost vessels, but dark as was the night--the presence of a strange ship under sail was discovered--and some beat to quarters, hailing to know what ship that was? The reply being "an English vessel," satisfied them, so that our investigation was made unmolested. The chief object thus accomplished, we succeeded in dropping out with the ebb tide, now rapidly running, and were enabled to steady our course stern-foremost with the stream anchor adrag, whereby we reached our former position off the mouth of the river.

Finding from the reconnaissance, that it would not be difficult to destroy the enemy's vessels, huddled together as they were amongst a crowd of merchantmen, I hastened to Moro San Paulo, to expedite the completion of the fireships. Returning immediately to Bahia, and again anchoring off the entrance of the harbour, I now learned that the alarm created by our nocturnal visit was excessive; indeed, my informants stated that the exploit had the effect of determining the Portuguese admiral to remove as quickly as possible from a locality in which he could no longer consider himself safe.

On the 29th of June, information was again forwarded to me, by persons favourable to the Imperial cause, that a council of war had been held, at which it had been resolved to withdraw the fleet to St. Catherine's or Maranham, and not the fleet alone but the troops also--thus abandoning the city and province of Bahia to the Imperial squadron; the council judging that I should be well content to permit them to pass to another part of the coast, as their departure would result in the Imperial occupation of Bahia.

The subjoined proclamation issued by General Madeira will shew the straits to which the blockading squadron had reduced the city and garrison:--


The crisis in which we find ourselves is perilous, because the means of subsistence fail us, and we cannot secure the entrance of any provisions. My duty as a soldier, and as Governor, is to make any sacrifice in order to save the city; but it is equally my duty to prevent, in an extreme case, the sacrifice of the troops I command--of the squadron--and of yourselves. I shall employ every means to fulfil both duties. Do not suffer yourselves to be persuaded that measures of foresight are always followed by disasters. You have already seen me take such once before. They alarmed you, but you were afterwards convinced that they portended nothing extraordinary. Even in the midst of formidable armies measures of precaution are daily used, because victory is not constant, and reverses should be provided against. You may assure yourselves, that the measures I am now taking, are purely precautionary, but it is necessary to communicate them to you, because if it happens that we must abandon the, city, many of you will leave it also; and I should be responsible to the nation and to the King if I had not forewarned you.


Were it dignified to allude to the cowardice imputed to me by the same authority, it would be easy to refer to the above enumeration of distresses caused by our two ships having captured all their provisions in the face of thirteen, in every way better manned and equipped.

The consternation caused by my nocturnal visit, which decided the evacuation of the city, was described as almost ludicrous. As I had been correctly informed, the Portuguese admiral and his officers were at a ball, and information of our appearance amongst the fleet was conveyed to him in the midst of the festivities. "What"--exclaimed he--"Lord Cochrane's line-of-battleship in the very midst of our fleet! Impossible --no large ship can have come up in the dark." We, however, did find our way in the dark--and did not retire till our reconnaissance was as complete as darkness would permit.

The lamentations caused by General Madeira's proclamation were no doubt faithfully chronicled in the Bahia newspapers, one of these declaring "in the last few days we have witnessed in this city a most doleful spectacle that must touch the heart even of the most insensible. A panic terror has seized on all men's minds--the city will be left without protectors--and families, whose fathers are obliged to fly, will be left orphans--a prey to the invaders," &c. &c. A prognostication not at all in accordance with my mode of carrying on warfare, which, as Portuguese families afterwards found, both at Bahia and elsewhere, was to protect the defenceless and unoffending.

The before-mentioned resolution of the council was precisely what I wished, as the evacuation of the port and province by the troops as well as the fleet, must prove more favourable to the Imperial cause than if the fleet alone had been destroyed and the military force remained. As I had, however, every reason to believe that it was General Madeira's intention to remove the troops to the Northern provinces, which would only have shifted the scene of war to another locality, I was determined at all hazards to prevent such movement.

On the 1st of July, information was brought, that, as the fireships were now known to be in readiness for the attack, the Portuguese admiral had hastily embarked the whole of the troops in transports, and that a number of merchantmen were also filled with persons who wished to leave Bahia under his protection. As it was clear that the total evacuation of the province by the enemy was preferable to an attack which might only end in destroying the ships and driving both naval and military forces on shore to renew their operations--I determined not to interfere with their retreat, till they were clear out of the harbour, when a vigilant pursuit would prevent them from again taking shelter in Brazil.

The following order was therefore issued to Captain Beaurepaire, of the Maria de Gloria, Captain Taylor, of the Nitherohy, and Captain. Thompson, of the Carolina, these being the only vessels on which I could in any degree depend:--

Having received information that the enemies of the independence of Brazil are about to evacuate the city, and quit the port of Bahia--taking under the protection of their ships of war numerous transports in which the military force and stores are embarked, together with all the moveable property, public and private--not excepting even the sacred vases appropriated to religious uses--and as it is highly expedient that the progress of the enemy should be interrupted and impeded as far as is practicable--you are required to be particularly vigilant in watching their escape, and are to endeavour to cut off such of their vessels as you can assail with safety, and are to continue in the execution of this duty so long as you can keep sight of the enemy.


Given on board the Pedro Primiero this 1st of July, 1823.

To Captain Taylor, of the Nitherohy, I gave further instructions to continue the chase as long as he considered it practicable to capture or destroy the enemy's vessels, using his utmost endeavours to disable all having troops on board; and as it was necessary to occupy Bahia after its evacuation, I directed Captains Beaurepaire and Thompson, after having captured or disabled all they could, to return forthwith to Bahia, and take possession; for which purpose the following order was issued to Captain Beaurepaire:--

After having executed the previous order, you are to return to the port of Bahia, taking upon yourself the command of the naval department afloat in my absence, and it will be your duty to ascertain the nature of the cargoes of the neutral ships now in the port of Bahia, or which may afterwards enter, as there are many neutral ships said to have embarked property to a large amount, which has been illegally transferred to such neutrals since the blockade, for the purpose of fraudulent concealment. All such vessels and all such property ought to be detained and subjected to legal investigation in the prize tribunals of His Imperial Majesty. You will have a perfect right to require this investigation, and though the neutrals may clamour, they cannot lawfully oppose your proceedings therein--advisedly taken.

A Portuguese frigate being daily expected at Bahia, as well as other vessels from Portugal and the Portuguese colonies, it will be advisable, for the better opportunity of capturing the same, to arrange with the General and Commander-in-Chief, that the Portuguese flag shall be displayed at least on the outer fort or battery on the appearance of such Portuguese vessels, or of others whose nationality is doubtful.

You are to continue on the service above pointed out until further orders from me, or from the Minister of Marine, with whom you are to communicate, and convey to him a copy of the present order.


Having learned that a great number of the more influential inhabitants were about to quit Bahia with the fleet--and not wishing to involve them in the consequences of war--I addressed the following caution to the Junta of Bahia:--


Understanding that it is in contemplation to abandon the town of Bahia, without any security being given not again to resume hostilities against the subjects and territories of His Imperial Majesty, and as you may not be aware of the difficulty of retiring--whilst hopes may have been held out to you that this is practicable--I must, for the sake of humanity, caution you against any attempt to remove yourselves by sea, unless I have a perfect understanding as to the future intentions of the naval forces which may accompany you, but to whom I have nothing to suggest.

I tell you however, that it is in my power to take advantages which may be fatal to your escape, and if, after this notice, you shall sail, you must not lay anything to my charge in the destruction of passengers, for in the obscurity of night it is impossible to discriminate ships in which they may be embarked. If, after this notice, you embark, or continue embarked, it will be to me a subject of great regret, because I have ever desired that the dangers of war should be confined to the military and naval profession.


To the Junta, Bahia,

To General Madeira, commanding the Portuguese troops, I wrote as follows:--

Understanding that you are about to embark the military forces under your command, with a view to proceed to some of the Northern provinces, humanity compels me to declare to you my duty, however painful, to take all measures within my power to dismantle whatever transports may attempt to sail from Bahia under convoy of the ships of war. That I have the means of performing this duty, in defiance of the ships of war which may endeavour to obstruct my operations, is a fact which no naval officer will doubt--but which to you as a military man may not be so apparent. If, after this warning, I am compelled to have recourse to the measures alluded to, and if numerous lives should be sacrificed thereby, I shall stand acquitted of those consequences which would otherwise press heavily on my mind.

(Signed) COCHRANE.


To the Portuguese Admiral I addressed the following note:--


I have written to the Junta and the General commanding the military force, relative to particulars which I have felt it my duty to submit to their consideration. To you, as a professional man, I have nothing to suggest or request--but merely to express my conviction that, for the sake of humanity, you will give that professional opinion on the subject of my letters--should they be referred to you--which may be expected from a naval officer of your experience.

(Signed) COCHRANE.

The Admiral of the Portuguese Squadron.

On the 2nd of July, the whole Portuguese force, naval and military, got under weigh, and steered out--the troops being embarked in the armed transports and large merchantmen, whilst other vessels were filled with Portuguese families and their property--everything moveable being put on board--with the utmost confidence in the protection of their fleet. As only the flagship and Maria de Gloria were present, we made no attempt to attack them whilst issuing from the mouth of the river, they no doubt ridiculing my warnings as communicated to the Junta and the commanding officers.

In this, however, they were mistaken; as every thing was in readiness, both on board the flagship and the Maria de Gloria, for immediate chase, so soon as the whole were clear of the port; though I had no intention--as they no doubt interpreted my letters--of attacking thirteen ships of war and numerous armed transports, with two ships alone, so long as they remained within the harbour; but when once out, the superior sailing qualities of these two ships would safely enable us to harass them with impunity.

As the merchant brig, Colonel Allen, which had conveyed us from Chili, was still with us, and as she might be made useful in looking after the prizes, I adopted her into the Brazilian navy under the name of the Bahia, appointing her master, Captain Haydon, to the rank of captain-lieutenant.

Whilst the Portuguese were passing out, I wrote and despatched by the Liberal schooner, the following letter to the Minister of Marine at Rio de Janeiro:--

Pedro Primiero, off Bahia,

July 2nd, 1833.


I have the satisfaction to acquaint your Excellency that the enemy's squadron have this day evacuated Bahia, their resources by sea being no longer available. Their ships of war, consisting of thirteen sail of different sizes, and many large merchantmen filled with troops, are now standing out of the bay. It is my intention to pursue them as long as it shall appear beneficial so to do. This ship and the Maria de Gloria are the only two in sight of the enemy, the Carolina having been obliged to return to the Moro, in consequence of having lost a topmast, and the Nitherohy not having joined. I hope in my next to be able to give you some account of the ulterior objects the enemy have in view, which, whatever they may be, I shall endeavour to frustrate.

(Signed) COCHRANE.

To the commanders of the other ships, I sent the following order on their joining the pursuit:--

It being improper to weaken the squadron, and impossible to officer and man the vessels which may fall into our hands, you are to adopt the following plan to secure them, viz. to send with the boats crews which board the enemy's vessels a sufficient number of crowbars, for the purpose of breaking up their water casks, leaving only water enough to carry them, on short allowance, into Bahia, to which port you are to order them immediately to return.

Their papers being essential to the justification of this or any other hostile act, the boarding officer will take especial care to secure them.


In addition to this, the masts of all troopships which might be boarded, were directed to be so far cut away as to prevent their escape--a written order instructing them to return forthwith to Bahia, on pain of being treated with great severity if found on any other course. Singular as the order may appear, it was in most cases obeyed, and thus the captured vessels navigated themselves into our hands.

The Portuguese squadron consisted of Don Joao, 74; Constitucao,50; Perola, 44; Princeza Real,28; Calypso, 22; Regeneracao, 26; Activa, 22; Dez de Fevereiro, 26; Audaz, 20; S. Gaulter, 26; Principe do Brazil, 26; Restauracao, 26; Canceicao, 8; with between sixty and seventy merchant vessels and transports filled with troops.

As soon as they were clear of the port, we fell upon the rearmost ships, disabling their main and mizen masts, so as to render it difficult for them to sail otherwise than before the wind, which would carry them to the Brazilian coast, and ordering them back to Bahia. The flagship and the Maria de Gloria then resumed the pursuit, but the latter being employed in looking after the prizes, on the following morning we were alone amongst the enemy's convoy.

The next day, July 3rd, the Carolina and Nitherohy came up, as did also the Colonel Allen. The frigates captured a number of merchantmen mostly filled with Portuguese families--these unfortunate people finding to their cost that my warnings were not empty threats, though they had no doubt been led to ridicule the remonstrance by a misplaced confidence in the protection of their national squadron. Many prizes were taken, and as evening closed the frigates dropped out of sight with the captured vessels.

It would have been easy for the flagship also to have taken prizes, but about this I cared nothing,--my great object being to prevent the enemy from landing troops elsewhere, and with this view I determined on closely following the ships of war and transports--leaving the Brazilian frigates to exercise their own discretion in disabling the convoy. It may be considered an act of temerity for one ship of war thus to chase thirteen; but, encumbered as they were, and, as I knew, short of provisions, I felt assured of accomplishing my object.

The enemy--being greatly annoyed at our perseverance in following, and still more so at the loss of so many of the convoy--on the morning of the 4th, gave chase to the flagship with the whole squadron, endeavouring to hem her in, and at one time we were pursued so closely inshore, that there was some danger of getting embayed, but the handling and superior sailing qualities of the Pedro Primiero enabled her to out-manoeuvre them and get clear. On seeing this, the Portuguese squadron, finding further chase unavailing, gave us a broadside which did no damage, and resumed its position in the van of the convoy, to which we immediately gave chase as before, and as soon as night set in, dashed in amongst them, firing right and left till the nearest ships brought to, when they were boarded--the topmasts cut away--the rigging disabled--the arms thrown overboard--and the officers compelled to give their parole not to serve against Brazil until regularly exchanged--an event not likely to happen.

Keeping well up with them on the 5th--as soon as night set in, this mode of attack was repeated, when we took a Russian vessel filled with Portuguese troops, and disabled her in like manner. Of the merchantmen within reach we took no notice, as it was impolitic to weaken the crew of the flagship by manning prizes, whilst, as we saw nothing of the remainder of the Brazilian squadron, there was no other means of preventing their escape.

The prudence of preserving the crew of the flagship entire, was now well exemplified. After taking possession of the Russian transport, at dusk, I observed half-a-dozen large ships detach themselves from the main body of the convoy, and suspecting some valid reason for the movement, immediately gave chase. Though they crowded all sail, we came up with them on the following morning, and singling out a large frigate-built ship, filled with troops, we fired upon her till she brought to. On boarding, we found her to be the Gran Para, containing--with the others--a division of several thousand troops, destined to maintain Portuguese authority in the province of Maranham--as, indeed, I had been informed at Bahia. The private signals and instructions of the Portuguese admiral--obtained by Flag-Lieutenant Grenfell from her captain--put me in possession of the whole arrangement, which was thus luckily frustrated.

As it was of importance not to let any of these troopships escape, Captain Grenfell was ordered to disable the Gran Para, cutting away her main and mizen masts, throwing the arms and ammunition overboard, taking possession of the regimental flags, and compelling the officers, as before, to give their parole not to serve against Brazil. This done, the other transports were successively boarded and disabled, so far as was consistent with not leaving them positive wrecks on the water; for with my single ship, to have made prisoners of so numerous a body of troops was manifestly impossible.

The brig Bahia having opportunely hove in sight, I seized four of the vessels carrying troops, and ordered Captain Haydon to convoy them to Pernambuco, to the President of which province I addressed the following letter:--

Pedro Primiero, July 7th, 1823.


The abandonment of Bahia by the enemy, in consequence of the rigours of blockade--and the capture of half of his army, ensigns, artillery, and stores, are events which you will be gratified to learn. Part of the captured officers and troops I send in for your disposal, having engaged that they shall be treated after the manner which may justly be expected from the high character of the Government of His Imperial Majesty, and the customary practice of all European states. I have to request that you will be pleased to order their disembarkation without delay.

We require seamen to finish the war. If you will be pleased to grant the bounty of 24 dollars per man, as at Rio--charging the same to the Government--you will render an essential service to your country. I do not mean Portuguese seamen--who are enemies; but able seamen of any other nation, and I need scarcely say, that from my knowledge of the character of the men, I should prefer British seamen to all others.

I shall probably have the honour of shortly making myself known to you, but that depends on circumstances over which I have no control. If we can come in, permit me to observe, that it would be conducive to the health of my crew to have ready a supply of fresh provisions and fruits, especially lemons and oranges. I hope you will excuse my freedom in mentioning these things, as the health of the men is as conducive to the interests of the empire as are the ships of war themselves.

I have the honour, &c.


Sent by the Balia, Captain Haydon.

By the same opportunity I despatched the following to the Minister of Marine:--


I have the honour to inform you that half the enemy's army, their colours, cannon, ammunition, stores, and baggage, have been taken. We are still in pursuit, and shall endeavour to intercept the remainder of the troops, and shall then look after the ships of war, which would have been my first object, but that, in pursuing this course, the military would have escaped to occasion further hostilities against the Brazilian Empire.

Such of the enemy's colours as we have had time to take away I have the honour to transmit, and to lay them at the feet of His Imperial Majesty, and shall shortly forward the remainder.

The vessels taken are large and beautiful ships, fast sailers, and resemble, in their appearance, ships of war.

The Portuguese squadron, and other vessels armed for war, I have every reason to believe are on their route for Lisbon. I have also fully ascertained that the troopships which separated from their squadron during the night were destined for Maranham.

I have the honour, &c.


The Minister of Marine.

The pursuit was now resumed, but the weather becoming hazy, we saw nothing of the enemy till the 11th, when they appeared to have recovered the Gran Para. As it became calm, nothing could be done till the 14th, when we crossed the Equator in Long. 33-30, making straight for the ships of war, but finding them well together, considered it prudent to defer an attack till they should become separated.

On the 15th they continued united, giving us no opportunity for mischief, yet not venturing to attack us, though only one ship to thirteen. At 3 A.M. on the 16th, we crowded sail and went in amongst them, firing a broadside within half musket shot at one of the frigates with evident effect, as, from the damage caused, they did not return our fire. Whilst tacking to give them the other broadside, our mainsail split in two, and night setting in, we relinquished the pursuit in 5 degrees North latitude.

My object in so doing was--that as we had only taken part of the troopships destined for Maranham, it was quite possible--as that port lay to leeward--that the remainder might even yet reach their destination; and as the Portuguese authority still existed in that--as throughout all the Northern provinces--they might again be armed and equipped. The instructions of the Portuguese admiral were, moreover, that, in case of separation, they were to rendezvous at the island of Fernando de Noronha, near which they were fallen in with some days afterwards; so that there were good grounds for anticipating the possibility of their yet reaching their original destination. Instead, therefore, of following the enemy's squadron farther, I thought we should better serve the interests of Brazil by proceeding direct to Maranham, with the double purpose of being beforehand with the enemy's troops, should the attempt be made--and, if practicable, reducing the province to the authority of the Emperor; a proceeding which, though not within my orders, was, as I conceived, nevertheless of great importance. Accordingly, quitting the Portuguese fleet and convoy, during the obscurity of night, we made straight for Maranham.

Thus were the Northern provinces entirely rescued from the designs of this armament, which--luckily for the consolidation of the empire--I had been enabled to frustrate; so that the cause of independence became free to develop itself throughout its whole extent. It is satisfactory to record the fact, that the whole military force was captured or dispersed, and its objects averted--by a single ship--without the loss of a man on our part--or the additional cost of a dollar to the Imperial Government; though, when we left Rio de Janeiro, it was believed that such objects could only be effected by costly naval and military expeditions combined.

During this chase, as I have said, it did not appear a national object to make captures, though many were secured--as officers and seamen must have been detached for the purpose, thereby diminishing our efficiency for the annexation of those provinces where the Portuguese authority was still intact; to accomplish which--though such result was not expected by the Government--I had formed plans during the pursuit. Considering that zeal for Brazilian interests would be better shewn by expelling the enemy which remained, I therefore refrained from taking possession of many valuable ships, otherwise completely at our mercy, though not having done so--then (previous to my experience of the Court of Admiralty) seemed a heavy pecuniary loss to myself, the officers, and crew. Such sacrifice should have secured us better treatment than we subsequently endured from the Administration of a country whose entire independence was thus obtained by our personal sacrifices.

The means of intimidation employed for the expulsion of the Portuguese from Bahia--the pursuit of the enemy's fleet--and the disabling of the troopships destined for Maranham--acts altogether in excess of the Imperial instructions--not only freed the Northern provinces from the enemy, but, as before stated, saved the Brazilian Government the delay, expense, and uncertainty of powerful expeditions.

These services--undertaken solely on my own responsibility--were productive of the most beneficial consequences to the future career of the Brazilian Empire, the integrity of which they secured at a blow, or it may rather be said, without a blow, for none of any magnitude was struck; the dread of the fireships and the certainty arising--from the nocturnal visit of the flagship on the 12th of June, that my plans for making use of them were completed--having determined the Portuguese Admiral to save his fleet by evacuating Bahia.

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