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


On the 26th of July, the Pedro Primiero arrived in the river Maranhao, and--knowing from the Portuguese admiral's instructions found in the troopships overhauled in the chase, that reinforcements were expected--we hoisted Portuguese colours, with a view of inducing a belief that the flagship belonged to that nation, and had arrived in support of its cause. The authorities, deceived by this ruse, sent off a brig of war--the Don Miguel, Captain Garcao--with despatches and congratulations upon our safe arrival! but the commander of the brig was disagreeably undeceived by finding himself upon the deck of a Brazilian ship. The despatches put me in possession of the enemy's plans and intentions, and from them I learned that some reinforcements had already reached, independent of those which had been intercepted in the recent chase; thus shewing the great importance attached by Portugal to the preservation of the wealthy and influential province of Maranham.

To the surprise of Captain Garcao--now a prisoner of war--I offered to release him and his vessel on condition of his carrying sealed letters to the Governor and Junta in the city--a proposition gladly accepted. Previous to his departure--by a fiction held justifiable in war, and, indeed, necessary under our peculiar circumstances, as having only a single ship to reduce a province--he was duly impressed by the relation of an imaginary number of vessels of war in the offing, accompanied by transports filled with troops, which the superior sailing of the flagship had enabled her to outstrip. Captain Garcao being a seaman and well able to judge as to the sailing qualities of the Pedro Primiero, was easily impressed with this story, and returned to the city with intelligence of an irresistible force about to disembark for its reduction.

My letters to the Governor and Junta were to the same effect; for--as before noticed--having only a single ship, it was necessary to impress on their imagination--that a fleet and army were at hand to add the province to Brazil. As this is the only instance within my knowledge of a military force surrendering itself and the province which it defended, to a stratagem of this nature, I shall append the documents by which a result so desirable was effected.

To Don Agostinho Antonia de Faria, the commandant, I wrote as follows:--

Pedro Primiero, July 26, 1823.


The naval and military forces under my command, leave me no room to doubt the success of the enterprise in which I am about to engage, in order to free the province of Maranham from foreign domination, and to allow the people free choice of government in the same manner as the inhabitants of Portugal have decided with regard to their constitution.

Of the flight of the Portuguese naval and military forces from Bahia you are aware. I have now to inform you of the capture of two-thirds of the transports and troops, with all their stores and ammunition.

I am anxious not to let loose the Imperial troops of Bahia upon Maranham, exasperated as they are at the injuries and cruelties exercised towards themselves and their countrymen, as well as by the plunder of the people and churches of Bahia. It is for you to decide whether the inhabitants of these countries shall be further exasperated by resistance which appears to me unavailing, and alike prejudicial to the best interests of Portugal and Brazil.

Although it is not customary amongst European nations to receive or respect flags of truce, being armed vessels, yet as a proof that we came here with objects far superior to the seizure of the brig of war just released, I have paid respect to the flag, in the hope that forbearance will facilitate that harmony which all must be desirous should exist between the government of the Royal father and that of the Imperial son; and in doing this, I only fulfil the gracious intentions of His Imperial Majesty.

Awaiting your early reply,

I have the honour, &c.



Commanding the Portuguese Forces.

The subjoined was at the same time despatched to the Provincial Junta;--


The forces of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, having freed the city and province of Bahia from the enemies of independence--in conformity with the will of His Imperial Majesty that the beautiful province of Maranham should be free also--I now hasten to offer to the oppressed inhabitants whatever aid and protection they need against a foreign yoke; desiring to accomplish their liberation and to hail them as brethren and friends.

Should there, however, be any who--from self-interested motives--oppose themselves to the deliverance of their country, let such be assured that the naval and military forces which have driven the Portuguese from the South, are again ready to draw the sword in the like just cause--and having drawn it, the result cannot be long doubtful.

The chief authorities are hereby invited to make known to me their decision, in order that the responsibility of consequences--in case of opposition--may not be imputed to any undue haste in the execution of the duty which I shall have to perform.

I have the honour, &c.


To the Illustrious and Excellent

The Provincial Junta of Maranham.

The reader may perhaps conclude, that the threats held out are somewhat inconsistent with my only having a single ship, without a soldier in her; and I must even confess to some compunction at this off-hand sketch of an imaginary fleet and army--but the matter was of the last importance. On the one hand, if my demands were vigorously pressed, there was a strong probability of obtaining them without bloodshed; but, on the other hand, if any delay took place, the enemy would, in a day or two at most, find out that the only force was the flagship, when the acquisition of Maranham would be impossible. The sensation caused by the evacuation of Bahia gave probability to my representations, and added to the despondency of the Portuguese, so that the ruse was completely successful.

Proposals of capitulation were immediately returned; but, as these were only conditional, I refused to accept them. In order to enforce the terms proffered, we entered the river--never before navigated by a line-of-battle ship--and anchored the Pedro Primiero abreast of the fort. On the following day, July 27th, the Junta, accompanied by the bishop, came on board, and gave in their adherence to the empire, after which the city, forts, and island, were unconditionally surrendered, though not without subsequent hesitation, which was dispelled by firing a shot over the town, whereupon a flag of truce was sent off, and all demands were complied with. Landing a party of marines for the maintenance of order, the Portuguese ensign was hauled down by Lieutenant Grenfell, who hoisted Brazilian colours in its place.

Thus, without military force or bloodshed, was a second great province secured to the empire, neither result being anticipated, nor even contemplated in the orders communicated to me, which were to blockade the Portuguese in Bahia, and capture or destroy all ships met with--anything beyond this not having entered the imagination of the Government.

As--considering the circumstances in which I was placed--there was no time to be lost in completing the declaration of independence, I addressed the subjoined instructions to the civil authorities:--

Pedro Primiero, July 27, 1823.


It affords me the highest satisfaction that your Excellencies have adopted a course by which all hostilities may be avoided, and the tranquillity and prosperity of this province peaceably established upon a secure and permanent basis. The declaration of the independence of Brazil under His Imperial Majesty will at once tranquillise the public mind, and give opportunity to the worthy and patriotic inhabitants to proceed afterwards with a due formality and deliberation to take the oaths, and elect their provisional government. To-morrow, therefore--being the earliest possible day--it maybe well that the said declaration shall be made taking every necessary precaution that the public peace shall not be disturbed by individuals under any pretence.

(Signed) COCHRANE.

To the inhabitants generally I issued the following proclamation:--


The auspicious day has arrived on which the worthy and public-spirited inhabitants of Maranham have it in their power at once to declare the independence of their country, and their adherence to their patriotic monarch, Pedro Primiero, whose protection has afforded them the glorious privilege of freemen--that of choosing their constitution and enacting their laws by their own representatives assembled to decide upon their own affairs in their own country.

That the glory of this day may not be tarnished by any acts of excess--even proceeding from enthusiasm for the cause in which we have embarked--must be the wish of every honourable and well-judging citizen. To these it would be superfluous to offer any advice as to their conduct; but should there be any who, from whatever motives, would disturb public tranquillity, they are hereby warned that the strictest orders are given to bring those guilty of disturbance to the punishment their crime shall deserve.

Taking the necessary oaths, and the election of civil government, are acts which must be deliberately performed, and for this, the 1st of August is selected. Citizens! let us proceed gravely and methodically, without tumult, haste, or confusion, and let the act be accomplished in a manner worthy the approbation of His Imperial Majesty, and which shall give no cause for regret, and leave no room for amendment.

Long live the Emperor, and the Independence and Constitution of Brazil.

(Signed) COCHRANE.

To the garrison of Maranham, liberty was granted to remain or depart, as they chose; in the latter case, free egress to Europe being permitted, with ensigns, arms, and military honours. Of the vessels of war we took possession, giving to the officers and men, the option of entering the service of Brazil, or accepting the conditions conceded to the army.

As the Brazilian people will naturally be interested in all that led to the completion of the integrity of the empire, the terms granted to the Portuguese garrison are subjoined.

Pedro Primiero, July 27, 1823.


In reply to your letter of this date, I beg leave to assure you, first, that my utmost endeavours shall be used to protect the persons and property of the citizens of Maranham--with the exception of such species of property as, being proved to belong to a hostile party, shall become, according to the laws of war, subject to the decision of the tribunals of His Imperial Majesty; that the same leniency with respect to all past political opinions shall be used as has been observed under the constitutional government of His Most Faithful Majesty John VI.; and that all persons desiring to remove shall be at liberty to do so, under the usual formalities.

Secondly,--You are at liberty either to depart to any other country, or to remain in this.

Thirdly,--The commanding officers, superior officers, and soldiers of the Portuguese nation, shall be free to retire to their native country, or to any other quarter; and shall be permitted to embark with their ensigns, arms, and military honours.

As independence is to be declared to-morrow, and as the vessels of war now in the port bear the ensigns of Portugal--and as I believe the necessary authority is vested in you, I have to request that you will order that ensign not to be hoisted on board the said vessels, in order that the substitution of that of Brazil may be made in the manner least offensive to the feelings of the officers--all, or any of whom may remain with their men in the service of Brazil, or may consider themselves under the third article relating to the army.

I have to express my regret at your indisposition, which has deprived me of the pleasure of seeing you; but, if circumstances permit, I shall avail myself of an early opportunity of paying you my personal respects.

(Signed) COCHRANE.


General-at-Arms of Maranhao.

On the 28th the declaration of independence was made amidst the acclamation of the inhabitants generally--those who were adverse to the measure not venturing to make any demonstration to the contrary.

Still it was important to get rid of the Portuguese troops before they found out the ruse which had been practised upon them; for, three days having now elapsed without any appearance of my reputed forces, there was some fear that they might attempt to recover their former position. Accordingly I addressed the following letter to General de Faria:--

Pedro Primiero, July 29, 1823.


The declaration of independence having been formally made, and His Imperial Majesty being declared constitutional Emperor of Brazil by acclamation of the worthy people of Maranham--which important event has happily taken place, not only without disorder, but, to the honour and credit of the inhabitants, with the greatest harmony and regularity--it now becomes my duty, as military chief under his Imperial Majesty, to take care that no military interference or intimidation shall in any way overawe or influence the choice of the inhabitants in the election of their provisional government. I have, therefore, to request that you will be pleased to direct all the Portuguese troops who intend to avail themselves of the third article of the stipulations entered into with regard to the military to repair to the place appointed, and there await the preparations which I shall immediately make for their transportation to Lisbon.

I have also to beg that you will he pleased to furnish me with a correct list of those who desire to depart, and also of those who choose to remain and take the oaths as Brazilian citizens.

I have, &c. &c.


To Gen. A.A. DE FARIA.

These instructions were promptly complied with by the Ex-Commandant, and no time was lost in providing ships for the reception of the Portuguese troops who wished to avail themselves of permission to sail for Lisbon. This leniency was scarcely deserved, for the Portuguese authorities had filled the gaols with respectable Brazilian citizens, who were treated with great severity; but, for obvious reasons, I was desirous to get rid of the Portuguese on any terms.

The next step was to provide for the proper administration of government, and this--from the factions which were afterwards found to exist--was a work of infinitely greater difficulty than had been the acquisition of the city. Some of the more influential inhabitants, however, offering their services, I formed them into a provisional Junta, until a more popular Government could be provided.

Municipal security being thus attained, the Portuguese troops were embarked, on the 1st of August, though not without some difficulty, for, from the non-arrival of my supposed fleet and army, some amongst them began to suspect that a deception had been practised, and many--backed by the militia--refused to embark. Upon this, a notice was issued that if the treaty were not instantly complied with, such steps should be taken as would render unnecessary the stipulation of safe conveyance to Europe, as I was determined that a solemn engagement should not be violated with impunity. This, as a great portion of the troops were actually on board, and within reach of the flagship's guns, produced the desired effect on the refractory troops ashore, though not till I was compelled to send Captain Crosbie with a large party to enforce compliance and to disarm the militia, both of which objects he effected without bloodshed.

The embarkation being accomplished, and the foreign portion of the militia disarmed, so as to leave the city in the hands of the civil authorities--on the 2nd of August, I issued a proclamation declaring the commerce of the coast free and uninterrupted; following this, shortly afterwards by another, declaratory of my willingness to accept from consignees and others, two-thirds of the estimated value of Portuguese property liable to confiscation--in place of sending the captured vessels to Rio de Janeiro; which--from the state of the city, as well as from want of seamen to man them--was impossible.

To the inhabitants of the city I had been careful to accord complete liberty, exacting, in return, perfect order, which was preserved, and property of all kinds respected; the delight of the inhabitants being unbounded at having been freed from a terrible system of exaction and imprisonment, which, when I entered the river, was being carried on with unrelenting rigour by the Portuguese authorities towards all suspected of a leaning to the Imperial Government. Instead of retaliating--as would have been gratifying to those so recently labouring under oppression--I directed oaths to the Constitution to be administered, not to Brazilians only, but also to all Portuguese who chose to remain and conform to the new order of things; a privilege, of which many influential persons of that nation availed themselves.

On the 1st of August the inhabitants of Alcantara made a declaration of adherence to His Imperial Majesty, notwithstanding a report sedulously circulated amongst them that the Portuguese troops at Maranham were about to recover the city. An assurance from me, that the Portuguese troops were embarked, and were under the guns of the flagship, as well as the fire of their own gunboats, which could be turned against them, and that the European militia was disarmed, speedily dispelled all grounds for alarm.

The proceedings of the temporary Provisional Junta being unsatisfactory, especially as regarded their desire for retaliation on the Portuguese, I determined to embody a more popular Government, though, as yet the election would, of necessity, be confined to the inhabitants of the city only. Accordingly on the 8th of August, in less than a fortnight after my first appearance off the port, a Provisional Government was chosen by the population, and the city and province were incorporated with Brazil, with the national advantage of adding nearly a million of dollars to the annual revenue of the empire; and this without the expense of another expedition to the Government, or the loss of time which would have been necessary, and might, had the reinforcements intercepted, gained their destination--have ended in a different result to the integrity of the empire.

The first act of the new Government was to address a congratulatory letter to His Imperial Majesty, explaining that they should long before have espoused the Imperial cause, but from fear of the Portuguese troops. The following is an extract from this letter:--

What was our joy when unexpectedly we saw the Pedro Primiero summoning our port. Oh, 26th of July, 1823! Thrice happy day, thou wilt be as conspicuous in the annals of our province, as the sentiments of gratitude and respect inspired by the illustrious admiral sent to our aid by the best and most amiable of monarchs will be deeply engraven on our hearts and on those of our posterity. Yes! august Sire! the wisdom, prudence, and gentle manners of Lord Cochrane have contributed still more to the happy issue of our political difficulties than even the fear of his force. To anchor in our port--to proclaim independence--to administer the oaths of obedience to your Majesty--to suspend hostilities throughout the province--to provide proper government--to bring the troops of the country into the town, but only in sufficient numbers to ensure order and tranquillity--to open the communication between the interior and the capital--to provide it with necessaries--and to restore navigation and commerce to their pristine state--all this, Sire, was the work of a few days. Grant Heaven, that this noble chief may end the glorious career of his political and military labours with the like felicity and success, and that your Imperial Majesty being so well served, nothing more may be necessary to immortalise that admirable commander, not only in the annals of Brazil, but in those of the whole world.

A large amount of government and public property in the several departments was seized, in conformity with the Imperial proclamation, and an addition made to the Brazilian navy of a brig-of-war, the Don Miguel, a schooner, and eight gunboats--besides merchant vessels, some of which were appropriated to the conveyance of the late garrison to Lisbon, under engagement to restore their value--a stipulation which was never fulfilled.

Everything being thus satisfactorily settled, my next step was to inform the Minister of Marine at Rio de Janeiro of the extraordinary means by which possession of the city and province of Maranham had been obtained; the subjoined letters were accordingly despatched.

(Secret.) Pedro Primiero, August 8, 1823.


Your Excellency will perceive by the official documents accompanying this, that in order to effect the objects I had in view at Maranham, I judged it expedient to create a belief amongst the people and garrison, that a large force was at my disposal, and therefore I used expressions in my public correspondence that were not borne out by the actual circumstances under which I summoned that city, as I had--in fact--no other force than this ship alone, which from the nature of the anchorage could scarcely approach within gunshot--whilst there was neither a soldier nor effective marine on board; but the fear entertained by the hostile Government of Imperial troops from Bahia, whom they understood to be off the bar with the remainder of the squadron, and the sudden appearance of so large a ship as this, produced the effect which I had anticipated, and it is with the greatest satisfaction that I now communicate the occupation of this important city and province, which has been accomplished without effusion of blood, or material disturbance.

As soon as I have completed the necessary arrangements here, I propose to return to Rio de Janeiro, and to have the honour personally to inform you of all particulars.

I have, &c.


Minister of Marine.

With this was transmitted the following official document:--

Pedro Primiero, Aug. 8, 1823.


I had the honour to inform your Excellency by letter, off Pernambuco, that we had captured transports containing a moiety of the enemy's army--that we were in pursuit of the remainder--and that I hoped for further success. I have now to acquaint your Excellency that, having followed the enemy's squadron to the fifth degree of North latitude beyond the line, until, by capture and dispersion, their convoy was so reduced that only thirteen vessels out of seventy remained with the ships of war, and as the latter were evidently steering for Lisbon, and were too strong to be attacked with success by this ship alone--for the remainder of the Brazilian squadron had separated in the chase--I judged it advantageous for the interests of His Imperial Majesty's service, to discontinue the pursuit, and to proceed, with all possible despatch, to Maranham, where I arrived on the 26th ultimo.

I have the happiness to acquaint you, for the satisfaction of the Imperial government, that Maranham is now united to the Empire, the inhabitants having proclaimed their independence of Portugal on the 28th, and elected their provisional government this day. I have embarked the Portuguese troops for Europe, and the militia are disarmed.

I have the honour to enclose a copy of the correspondence which has taken place on the occasion, with other papers and documents. We have found here a fine brig of war--a schooner--eight gunboats, and about sixteen sail of Portuguese merchant vessels. Amongst the other advantages of this important event may be mentioned, that while the expense of an express expedition has been saved, an addition of nearly a million of dollars is made to the revenue of His Imperial Majesty.

I have manned and sent the brig of war to Para, to summon that city--offering to the enemy the same terms as we have granted here. The beautiful new frigate, lately launched at Para, has not sailed for Portugal, and I am in expectation that the next account which I shall have the honour to send or bring to your Excellency, will communicate the pleasing intelligence that His Imperial Majesty has no enemy, either on shore or afloat, between the extremities of his empire.

I have, &c.


The Minister of Marine.

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