NARRATIVE OF SERVICES IN THE LIBERATION OF CHILI, PERU, AND BRAZIL, FROM SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE DOMINATION
THOMAS, EARL OF DUNDONALD, G.C.B. Admiral of the Red; Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, etc. etc.
Brazilian and Portuguese factions—Don Pedro ordered to quit Brazil—Appointed "Perpetual Protector"—Proclaimed Emperor of Brazil—Efforts to obtain foreign officers and seamen—The naval command offered to me—Acceptation thereof—Arrival at Rio de Janeiro—Visit of inspection to the squadron—Condition of the vessels—Inferiority of seamen—Imperial affability—Attempt to evade the terms offered me—This failing, to reduce the value of my pay—Pretended commission conferred—And refused—The point argued—I decline the command—The Prime Minister gives in—Explanatory Portaria—Formal commission—Orders to blockade Bahia—Portuguese faction—Averse to me from the outset.
Attempt to cut off the enemy's ships—Disobedience to orders—Letter to the Prime Minister—Worthlessness of the men—Their treachery—Blockade established—Equipment of fireships—Enemy's supplies cut off—Portuguese untrustworthy—Demonstrations of the enemy—His pretended contempt for us—The enemy returns to port—Their consternation at the fireships—Portuguese contemplate attacking us—Flagship reconnoitres enemy at anchor—Excessive alarm at my nocturnal visit—Proclamation of the Commandant—Consternation in the city—The authorities decide on evacuating Bahia—Instructions to the Brazilian Captains—Warnings addressed to the authorities—Enemy quits Bahia—Readiness for chase—Numbers of the enemy—Capture of the Convoy—Prizes disabled—Attempt of troops to escape—Prizes sent to Pernambuco—Pursuit discontinued—Reasons for going to Maranham—Reasons for not taking more prizes—Advantages to the Empire.
Capture of the Don Miguel—Summons to the authorities—Reasons for threats held out—Proposals for capitulation—Proclamations—Terms granted to Portuguese garrison—Declaration of Independence—Portuguese troops ordered to embark—Symptoms of disobeying the order—Delight of the people on becoming free—Election of a Provisional Government—Letters to the Minister of Marine.
Captain Grenfell sent to summon Para—The Junta demands the prize property—My refusal—Imperial approval of my services—Realisation of prize property—Turi Assu sends in its adhesion—Money captured lent to the Junta—Its return to the squadron expected—Possession taken of Para—Insurrection at Para—Misconduct of the Maranham Junta—Their persecution of the Portuguese—Steps in consequence—Manifestation of the national delight—The Marquisate conferred on me—Vote of thanks by the Assemblea Geral—My arrival at Rio de Janeiro—Satisfaction with my services—Lady Cochrane joins me.
First effort to curtail the Imperial power—Portuguese intrigue—Dismissal of the Andradas—The Assembly dissolved by force—Exile of the Andradas—Letter to his Imperial Majesty—My advice partly adopted—and causes ministerial enmity towards me—Ratification of my patent—I demand the adjudication of prizes—Letter to the Minister of Marine—Offer of personal advantage to foreign claims—Squadron remained unpaid—I am appointed a Privy Councillor—The prize vessels plundered—Shameful treatment of Captain Grenfell—Troubles in Pernambuco—Hostility of the Prize Tribunal—Condemns me to the restitution of prizes—Forbids making any capture at all.
Remonstrance against decree of Prize Tribunal—Settlement of prize question by the Emperor—His Ministers refuse to conform to it—Obstacles thrown in the way of equipment—My services limited to the duration of war—My remonstrance on this breach of faith—Ministers refuse to pay the squadron anything—A fresh insult offered to me—Offer to resign the command—My resignation evaded—Letter to the Prime Minister—Letter to the Minister of Marine.
Ministerial malignity towards me—Dangers in Pernambuco—Portuguese threats—My advice thereon—Failure in Manning the squadron—Plot formed to search the flagship—Timely warning thereon—I demand his Majesty's interference—Which was promptly granted—Protest against prize decisions—My advice sought as regards Pernambuco—Letter to his Imperial Majesty—Pointing out the annoyance practised—And tendering my resignation—The Emperor's intervention—His Ministers neglect to fulfil his engagement—Confirmation of my previous patents—But with an unjustifiable reservation—Prize money devoted to advance of wages—Proofs thereof—Baseless imputations on me—Extracts from log—Further distribution of prize money.
Republican Government proclaimed at Pernambuco—Its Concordat—The President Carvalho—Threat of Bombardment—A bribe offered to me and refused—The revolt admitted of palliation—It was fast becoming general—Intimidation ineffectual—The revolutionists expect Foreign aid—Pernambuco taken possession of—- Payment of prize money—The accounts rendered in due course—Orders to put down revolt at Para—Character of the revolution—Difficulty in finding proper Governors—Revolt at Ceara—Steps taken to suppress it—They prove successful—The insurgent leader killed—Measures for preserving tranquillity.
Arrival at Maranham—Character of disturbances there—I assume the military command—Proclamation commanding surrender of arms—Condition of the people—Corruption of the authorities—Murderous propensities—Difficulty in detecting assassins—Letter to Minister of Marine—Pacification of Parahyba—Doubts as to the President's sincerity—He establishes secret agencies—Extraordinary memorials—Public complaints of the President—Bruce endeavours to intercept them—My reply to the memorialists—Letter to the Minister of Marine—Enclosing complaints of the Consuls—Bruce prepares to resist my authority—Complaints of the British Consul—He considers my presence necessary—Letter of the French Consul—Detailing shameful atrocities—Danger of collision with foreign states—Suspension of the President—Provision for future Government—Conduct of the faction at Rio de Janeiro—No instructions sent for my guidance—Letter to the Minister of Marine—The Ministry had previously deposed Bruce—But turned on me for anticipating their own act.
Misrepresentations made in England—Letter to the Emperor—Tendering my resignation—Repayment demanded from the Junta—Conduct of the Prize Tribunal—No adjudication of prizes intended—Letter to the interim President—Demanding the sums owing to the squadron—Disturbance in Para—Statement of Account to the Junta—Offer of compromise—Imperial decree—Right of the squadron to the claim.
Imperial approval—Continued enmity of the Administration—Junta refuses to pay the squadron's claim—I persevere in the demand—Junta agrees to pay the amount in bills—This refused—Arrival of a new President—But without authority for the assumption—Intrigues to establish him in office—I order him to quit the province—And send him to Para—Letter to the President of Ceara—International animosities—The squadron left to provide for itself—Abuse of authority—Explanations to Minister of Marine—Of transactions at Maranham—Letter to Carvalho e Mello—Anticipating ministerial displeasure—The Junta reimburses part of its debt.
I quit Maranham for a cruise—Bad state of the frigate—Connivance at illicit trade—We are compelled to proceed to England—The frigate reported to the Brazilian Envoy—Who cheats me of L2,000—His assumption that I had abandoned the service—My contradiction thereof—Order to return to Rio—Reasons for not doing so—Brazilian Envoy tampers with my Officer—Who acquaints me therewith—Envoy stops pay and provisions—Declares that the Brazilian Government will give me nothing!—Captain Shepherd's reply—I prepare to return to Rio—The Envoy dismisses me from the service—Without reason assigned—He declares that I voluntarily abandoned the service—Receipts for accounts transmitted to Brazil—These denied to have been sent.
I am dismissed the service by the Brazilian Government—Without any acknowledgment of my services—Inconsistency of this with former thanks—Though dismissed I am tried as a deserter—And am refused all compensation—Report of recent Commission on the subject—False representations—But partially true conclusions—My original patents never set aside—Untrue assumptions as to my dismissal—My claims founded on the original patents—Less than half the interest due paid—Opinions of eminent Brazilians thereon—My services tardily acknowledged—No act of mine had annulled them—The Estate conferred, not confirmed—Promises on account of Chili unfulfilled—The whole still my right.
Proclamation for payment of Officers and Men—Log extracts in proof thereof—The sum given up to the squadron disbursed—Denial thereof by the Brazilian Government—Though made to serve as advance of wages—The amount received at Maranham—Fully accounted for—By the receipts of the Officers—Officers' receipts—Extracts from log in further corroboration—Up to my arrival in England—All our prizes, monopolized by Brazil—The conduct of the Brazilian Government unjustifiable.
BRAZILIAN AND PORTUGUESE FACTIONS—DON PEDEO ORDERED TO QUIT BRAZIL—APPOINTED "PERPETUAL PROTECTOR"—PROCLAIMED EMPEROR OF BRAZIL—EFFORTS TO OBTAIN FOREIGN OFFICERS AND SEAMEN—THE NAVAL COMMAND OFFERED TO ME—ACCEPTATION THEREOF—ARRIVAL AT RIO DE JANEIRO—VISIT OF INSPECTION TO THE SQUADRON—CONDITION OF THE VESSELS—INFERIORITY OF SEAMEN—IMPERIAL AFFABILITY—ATTEMPT TO EVADE THE TERMS OFFERED ME—THIS FAILING, TO REDUCE THE VALUE OF MY PAY—PRETENDED COMMISSION CONFERRED—AND REFUSED—THE POINT ARGUED—I DECLINE THE COMMAND—THE PRIME MINISTER GIVES IN—EXPLANATORY FORTARIA—FORMAL COMMISSION—ORDERS TO BLOCKADE BAHIA—PORTUGUESE FACTION—AVERSE TO ME FROM THE OUTSET.
Although these memoirs relate to personal services in Brazil, it is nevertheless essential, in order to their comprehension, briefly to recapitulate a few events which more immediately led to my connection with the cause of independence in that country.
The expulsion of the Portuguese Royal Family from Lisbon, in consequence of the occupation of Portugal by the armies of the French Republic, was followed by the accession of Don John VI. to the throne of Portugal whilst resident in Rio de Janeiro.
Twelve months previous to my arrival in Brazil, His Majesty returned to Portugal, leaving his son and heir-apparent, Don Pedro, regent of the Portuguese possessions in South America, which had been for some time in a state of disaffection, arising from a growing desire throughout the various provinces for a distinct nationality. Hence two opposing interests had arisen,—a Brazilian party, which had for its object national independence; and a Portuguese party, whose aim was to prevent separation from the mother country—or, if this could not be accomplished, so to paralyse the efforts of the Brazilians, that in case of revolt it might not be difficult for Portugal to keep in subjection, at least the Northern portion of her South American Colonies. It will be necessary, in the course of the narrative, to bear these party distinctions clearly in mind.
As the Regent, Don Pedro, was supposed to evince a leaning to the Brazilian party, he gave proportionate offence to the Portuguese faction, which—though inferior in number, was, from its wealth and position, superior in influence; hence the Regent found himself involved in disputes with the latter, which in June 1821 compelled him to submit to some humiliations.
Shortly previous to this, the Cortes at Lisbon—aware of what was going on in Brazil, and disregarding the temperate views of the King—issued a declaration inviting the Brazilian municipalities to repudiate the Regent's authority at Rio de Janeiro, and to adhere to the immediate administration of the Cortes alone—thus indicating a course to be pursued by the Portuguese faction in Brazil. The result was—as had been anticipated—disunion amongst the people, consequent on the formation of petty provincial governments; each refusing to pay revenue to the central Government at Rio de Janeiro, for the alleged reason that the Regent was only waiting an opportunity to invest himself with absolute power. This opinion was eagerly adopted by the commercial class—consisting almost exclusively of native Portuguese—in the hope that the Cortes would reinvest them with their ancient trade privileges and monopolies, to the exclusion of foreigners, whom they considered as interlopers—the English especially, who, protected by a treaty of commerce, were fast undermining the former monopolists. Amidst these difficulties Don Pedro, though nominally Regent of Brazil, found himself, in reality, little more than Governor of Rio de Janeiro.
In July 1821, the Lisbon Cortes passed a decree, that thenceforth the Brazilian and Portuguese armies should form one body; the object being to ship the Brazilian troops to Portugal, and to send Portuguese troops to Brazil, thereby ensuring its subjection. The Regent was, moreover, ordered to return to Portugal.
These rash steps greatly irritated the native Brazilians, who saw in them a subversion of all their hopes of nationality. With scarcely less rashness, they issued proclamations declaring Brazil independent, with Don Pedro as Emperor; but he repudiated the act, and prepared to quit Brazil in obedience to orders.
The approaching departure of the Regent caused a general ferment, when a popular leader arose in the person of Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, vice-president of the provisional Junta at San Paulo. Summoning his colleagues at midnight, they signed an address to the Regent—to the effect that his departure would be the signal for a declaration of independence—daring the Cortes at Lisbon to promulgate laws for the dismemberment of Brazil into insignificant provinces, possessing no common centre of union; above all, daring them to dispossess Don Pedro of the authority of Regent conferred by his august father. This address was conveyed to the Prince by Bonifacio himself, and was shortly afterwards followed by others of a similar nature from the Southern provinces, and from the municipality of Rio de Janeiro—all begging him to remain and avert the consequences of the late decrees of the Cortes. On more deliberate reflection Don Pedro consented, and was shortly afterwards invested with the title of "Perpetual Protector and Defender of Brazil."
Meanwhile the Cortes, confident in their own power, were enforcing their obnoxious decrees by the despatch of ships of war and troops to the Northern provinces. As the intention of this step was unmistakeable, His Royal Highness the Protector promptly issued a manifesto, declaring the wish of Brazil to maintain an amicable union with Portugal, but at the same time calling on the Brazilians to secure their independence by force, if necessary. In furtherance of this determination, an attack was made by the Brazilian troops upon General Madeira, the Portuguese commandant at Bahia, but from want of proper military organization, it proved unsuccessful.
Despatches now arrived from Portugal, which cut off every hope of reconciliation, and on the 12th of October, Don Pedro was induced to accept the title of "Constitutional Emperor of Brazil," with Bonifacio de Andrada as his Minister of the Interior, of Justice, and of Foreign Affairs.
The Southern provinces gave in their adhesion to the Emperor, but all the Northern provinces—including Bahia, Maranham, and Para—were still held by Portuguese troops; a numerous and well appointed squadron commanding the seaboard, and effectually preventing the despatch of Brazilian forces to those localities by water; whilst by land there were neither roads, nor other facilities of communication with the Northern patriots, who were thus isolated from effectual aid, could such have been rendered from Rio de Janeiro.
His Imperial Majesty saw that, without a fleet, the dismemberment of the Empire—as regarded the Northern provinces—was inevitable; and the energy of his minister Bonifacio in preparing a squadron, was as praiseworthy as had been the Emperor's sagacity in determining upon its creation. A voluntary subscription was enthusiastically entered into; artisans flocked into the dockyard; the only ship of the line in the harbour required to be nearly rebuilt; but to man that and other available vessels with native seamen was impossible—the policy of the mother country having been to carry on even the coasting trade exclusively by Portuguese, who could not now be relied on by Brazil, in the approaching contest with their own countrymen.
Orders were consequently sent to the Brazilian charge d'affaires in London, to engage officers and seamen there; and to stimulate these, a decree was, on the 11th of December, 1822, issued by His Imperial Majesty, to sequestrate Portuguese property throughout the Empire, and also another, that all prizes taken in the war should become the property of the captors, which decrees must be borne in mind.
His Imperial Majesty, having ascertained that the War of Independence in the Pacific had been brought to a successful conclusion by the squadron under my command, ordered his minister, Bonifacio, to communicate with me, through the Brazilian Consul at Buenos Ayres; judging that, from the termination of hostilities in the Pacific, I might be at liberty to organize a naval force in Brazil, which—if properly conducted—might successfully cope with the Portuguese fleet protecting the Northern harbours of the Empire.
Accordingly, whilst residing on my estate at Quintera, in Chili, I received from Antonio Manuel Correa, the Brazilian Consul at Buenos Ayres, a letter on the part of His Imperial Majesty, inviting me to accept service under the Brazilian flag, guaranteeing moreover rank and position in no way inferior to that which I then held under the Republic of Chili; the Consul exhorting me, in addition, "to throw myself upon the munificence of the Emperor, and the undoubted probity of His Majesty's Government, which would do me justice." The following is one of the letters of invitation:—
Le Conseiller Agent du Bresil, pres le Gouvernement de Buenos Ayres a l'Amiral Lord Cochrane, Commandant-en-Chef les forces navales de la Republique du Chili.
Le Bresil, puissance du premier ordre devint un nouvel empire, une nation independente sous le legitime heritier de la monarchie, Pierre le Grand, son auguste defenseur.
C'est par son ordre—c'est de sa part, et en vertu des depeches ministeriales, que je viens de recevoir de Monseigneur Joseph Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, Ministre de l'Interieur et des Relations Exterieures du Bresil, en date du 13 Septembre dernier—que j'ai l'honneur de vous adresser cette note; en laquelle votre Grace est invitee, pour—et de part le Gouvernement du Bresil—a accepter le service de la nation Bresilienne; chez qui je suis dument autorise a vous assurer le rang et le grade nullement inferieur a celui que vous tenez de la Republique.
Abandonnez vous, Milord, a la reconnaisance Bresilienne; a la munificence du Prince; a la probite sans tache de l'actuel Gouvernement; on vous fera justice; on ne rabaissera d'un seul point la haute consideration—Rang—grade—caractere—et avantages qui vous sont dus.
(Signe) ANTONIO MANUEL CORREA DA CAMARA, Consul de l'Empire du Bresil, a Buenos Ayres, 4 Novembre, 1822.
Annoyed by the ingratitude with which my services were requited in Chili, and disliking the inaction consequent on the capture of Valdivia, followed by the annihilation of the Spanish naval force at Callao, and elsewhere in the Pacific—whereby internal peace had been obtained for Chili, and independence for Peru—I felt gratified by the further terms of invitation, contained in a second letter—"Venez, milord, l'honneur vous invite—la gloire vous appelle. Venez—donner a nos armes navales cet ordre merveilleux et discipline incomparable de puissante Albion" —and on mature consideration returned the following reply:—
Valparaiso, Nov. 29, 1832.
The war in the Pacific having been happily terminated by the total destruction of the Spanish naval force, I am, of course, free for the crusade of liberty in any other quarter of the globe.
I confess, however, that I had not hitherto directed my attention to the Brazils; considering that the struggle for the liberties of Greece—the most oppressed of modern states—afforded the fairest opportunity for enterprise and exertion.
I have to-day tendered my ultimate resignation to the Government of Chili, and am not at this moment aware that any material delay will be necessary, previous to my setting off, by way of Cape Horn, for Rio de Janeiro, calling at Buenos Ayres, where I hope to have the pleasure of meeting you, and where we may talk further on this subject; it being, in the meantime, understood that I hold myself free to decline—as well as entitled to accept—the offer which has, through you, been made to me by His Imperial Majesty. I only mention this from a desire to preserve a consistence of character, should the Government (which I by no means anticipate) differ so widely in its nature from those which I have been in the habit of supporting, as to render the proposed situation repugnant to my principles—and so justly expose me to suspicion, and render me unworthy the confidence of His Majesty and the nation.
To Don ANTONIO MANUEL COEREA DA CAMARA, His Brazilian Majesty's Consul at Buenos Ayres.
Having obtained the unqualified consent of the Chilian Government—there being now no enemy in the Pacific—- I chartered a vessel for my own conveyance, and that of several valuable officers and seamen who, preferring to serve under my command, desired to accompany me. Knowing that the Portuguese were making great efforts to re-establish their authority in Brazil, no time was lost in quitting Chili.
We reached Rio de Janeiro on the 13th of March, 1822, barely six months after the declaration of Independence. Despatching a letter to the Prime Minister Bonifacio de Andrada—reporting my arrival in conformity with the invitation which His Imperial Majesty had caused to be transmitted to me through his Consul-General at Buenos Ayres—I was honoured by the Imperial command to attend His Majesty at the house of his Minister, where a complimentary reception awaited me. The Emperor assured me that, so far as the ships themselves were concerned, the squadron was nearly ready for sea; but that good officers and seamen were wanting; adding, that, if I thought proper to take the command, he would give the requisite directions to his Minister of Marine.
On the following day, the Prime Minister—after a profusion of compliments on my professional reputation, and an entire concurrence with the invitation forwarded to me by the Consul at Buenos Ayres—which invitation he stated to have arisen from his own influence with the Emperor—desired me to communicate personally with him, upon all matters of importance, the Minister of Marine being merely appointed to transact subordinate business. As nothing more positive was said in relation to my appointment, it struck me that this also might be included amongst the subordinate duties of the Minister of Marine, to whose house I repaired; but he could say nothing on the subject, as nothing specific had been laid before him. Being desirous to come to a proper understanding, I wrote to the Prime Minister, that the officers who had accompanied me from Chili would expect the same rank, pay, and emoluments as they had there enjoyed; that, as regarded myself, I was prepared to accept the terms offered by His Imperial Majesty, through the Consul at Buenos Ayres, viz. the same position, pay, and emoluments as had been accorded to me by the Chilian Government; and that although I felt myself entitled to the customary remuneration in all well-regulated states for extraordinary, as well as ordinary, services, yet I was more anxious to learn the footing on which the naval service was to be put, than the nature of any stipulations regarding myself.
On the following day His Imperial Majesty invited me at an early hour to the palace, in order to accompany him on a visit to the ships of war, with some of which I was much pleased, as demonstrative of the exertions which must have been made within a short time to get them into such creditable condition. Great care had evidently been bestowed upon the Pedro Primiero, rated as a 74—though in the English service she would have been termed a 64. She was evidently a good sailer, and was ready for sea, with four months provisions on board, which scarcely half filled her hold, such was her capacity for stowage; I had therefore reason to be satisfied with my intended flagship.
Another showy vessel was the Maria da Gloria—a North American clipper; a class of vessels in those days little calculated to do substantial service, being built of unseasoned wood, and badly fastened. Though mounting 32 guns, she was a ship of little force, having only 24-pounder carronades, mixed with short 18-pounder guns. As a redeeming feature, she was commanded by a Frenchman, Captain Beaurepaire, who had contrived to rally round him some of his own countrymen, mingled with native Brazilians—in which he displayed considerable tact to free himself from the unpromising groups elsewhere to be selected from.
The history of this vessel was not a little curious: she had been built in North America at the expense of the Chilian Government, and sent to Buenos Ayres, where an additional 40,000 dollars was demanded by her owners. Payment of this was demurred to, when, without the slightest consideration for the expense incurred by Chili in her building and equipment, her captain suddenly got under weigh, and proceeding to Rio de Janeiro, sold her to the Brazilian Government.
I was further much pleased with the Piranga, a noble frigate mounting long 24-pounders on the main deck. Not to enter into any further details, with regard to the ships, a brief notice must be taken of the men, who, with the exception of the crew of the Maria da Gloria, were of a very questionable description,—consisting of the worst class of Portuguese, with whom the Brazilian portion of the men had an evident disinclination to mingle. On inquiry, I ascertained that their pay was only eight milreas per month, whereas in the merchant service, eighteen milreas was the current rate for good seamen,—whence it naturally followed that the wooden walls of Brazil were to be manned with the refuse of the merchant service. The worst kind of saving—false economy—had evidently established itself in the Brazilian Naval Administration.
The captains complained of the difficulties they had to contend with as regarded the crews, particularly that the marines were so much gentlemen that they considered themselves degraded by cleaning their own berths, and had demanded and obtained attendants to wait on them! whilst they could only be punished for offences by their own officers! or, to use the words of one of the captains, "They were very much their own masters, and seemed inclined to be his!" It was, indeed, evident to me that neither seamen nor marines were in any state of discipline.
Not having as yet had experience of political party in the Empire, it struck me as an anomaly that Portuguese should be employed in such numbers to fight their own countrymen, though I afterwards became but too well acquainted with the cause of a proceeding at the time beyond my comprehension. In the course of our visit of inspection, the phrase "attacking the Portuguese parliamentary force," was frequently used by the Emperor, and was no less singular, as implying that the Brazilian Government did not make war against the King or country of Portugal, but merely against the Cortes; the distinction, as regarded the conduct of hostilities, being without a difference.
A curious circumstance occurred after this visit of inspection. On landing—hundreds of people of all ages and colours, crowded round to kiss His Majesty's hands—paternally extended on both sides to rows of devoted subjects, who, under no other circumstances, could have come in such familiar contact with royalty. To this ceremony the Emperor submitted with the greatest possible good humour and affability, his equanimity not even being ruined by familiarities such as I had never before seen taken with King or Emperor.
On the 17th, a visit was paid to me by the Minister of Marine, Luiz da Cunha Moreira, relative to the terms of my appointment, he being evidently desirous that my services should be obtained at as cheap a rate as possible, notwithstanding the concurrence of the Prime Minister with the offers which had been made through the Consul-General at Buenos Ayres. The pay now offered was that of an admiral in the Portuguese service,—notoriously the worst paid in the world. On enquiring what this might be, I found it less than half what I had received in Chill! My pay there being 8000 dollars per annum, with permission from the Supreme Director to appropriate another 4000 from the Government moiety of captures made.
By way of reply, I produced a letter from the Chilian Minister of Marine, counter-signed by the Supreme Director, acknowledging the receipt of an offer subsequently made to the Chilian Government voluntarily to give up to public exigencies a portion of my pay greater than the amount now tendered—at the same time telling the Minister, that by accepting such an arrangement I should lose more annually by entering the Brazilian service than the whole sum offered to me. Without condescending to chaffer on such a subject, I added that His Imperial Majesty had invited me to Brazil on specific promises, which, if my services were required, must be strictly fulfilled; if not, it would be candid in him to say so, as it was not the amount of pay for which I contended; but the reflection, that if the first stipulations of the Brazilian Government were violated, no future confidence could be placed in its good faith. If the State were poor, I had no objection, conditionally, to surrender an equal or even a greater proportion of pay than I had tendered to the Chilian Government; but that it was no part of my intention to be placed on the footing of a Portuguese admiral, especially after the terms, which, without application on my part, had been voluntarily offered to induce me to accept service in Brazil.
The Minister of Marine seemed hurt at this, and said the State was not poor, and that the terms originally offered should be complied with, by granting me the amount I had enjoyed in Chili; a decision the more speedily arrived at, from an intimation on my part, of referring to the Prime Minister, as requested in cases of difficulty. This the Minister of Marine begged me not to do, saying that there was no occasion for it.
He next proposed that, as my Brazilian pay was to be equivalent to that which I received in Chili, it should he numerically estimated in Spanish dollars, at the rate of 800 reis per dollar—though the Brazilian mint was then actually restamping those very dollars at the rate of 960 reis! thus, by a manoeuvre, which reflected little credit on a Minister, lessening the pay agreed on by one-fifth. To this proposition I replied that there was no objection, provided my services were also revalued—as he seemed disposed to revalue his dollar; so that, setting aside the offers which had induced me to leave Chili, I would make a new offer, which should not only compensate for the difference in dispute, but leave a considerable surplus on my side into the bargain. Alarmed at the sarcasm, and perhaps judging from my manner, that I cared little for a service in which such petty expedients formed an important element, he at once gave up the false value which he had attached to the dollar, and agreed to estimate it at 960 reis—a microscopic saving, truly!
As such a mode of proceeding had been adopted towards me, it became necessary on my part to look well after the interests of the officers who had accompanied me under the assurance that their position in Brazil should be at least equal to that which they had held on the other side of the continent. This was not more a duty than a necessity, for I saw that, unless supported by officers upon whose talent and courage reliance could be placed, it would be out of my power individually to accomplish any enterprise satisfactory to myself or beneficial to Brazil. I therefore required and obtained the same stipulations with regard to their respective rank and pay as had, in my own case, been insisted on. Of these, Admiral Grenfell is the only survivor.
On the 19th, a writing on a common sheet of letter paper was forwarded to me by the Minister of Marine, purporting to be a commission, with the rank of admiral; stating, however, inaccurately the amount of pay and table money agreed upon, by transposing the one for the other,—so that the table money was figured as pay, and the pay as table money; the effect being, that when on shore, my pay would have amounted to exactly one half of the sum stipulated! This proceeding could not be tolerated, so on the following morning I returned the commission to the Minister of Marine, who hastened to assure me that it was a mistake, which should be rectified.
This pretended commission was accompanied by the following order to take command of the squadron:—
His Imperial Majesty—through the secretary for naval affairs—commands that the Admiral of the Imperial and National Marine—Lord Cochrane—shall take command of the squadron at anchor in this port, consisting of the ship Pedro Primiero; the frigates Unao, Nitherohy, and Carolina; the corvettes Maria de Gloria and Liberal; the brig Guarani, and the schooners Real and Leopoldina; hoisting his flag aboard the line-of-battle ship: the said Admiral having, at his choice, the whole—or any of the said vessels, for the purpose of the expedition about to sail.
Palace of Rio de Janeiro, March 19, 1823.
(Signed) LUIZ DA CUNHA MOREIEA.
There was, however, another point still less satisfactory. The commission conferred upon me the rank of Admiral, but of what grade was not specified. On pressing the Minister of Marine, he admitted that it was only intended to give me the rank of Junior Admiral,—there being already two Admirals in the service, whose functions would not, however, interfere with me, as their duties were confined to the ordinary administration of a Board of Admiralty. I at once told him that for me to serve under such naval administrators was out of the question. As the Minister of Marine professed want of sufficient power to warrant him in altering the commission, I announced my intention of taking it to the Prime Minister, and respectfully restoring it into his hands. The Minister of Marine again begged me not to do so, as an alteration might be made, if I would consent to go at once on board the Pedro Primiero—on board which ship my flag had been directed to be hoisted at mid-day! This, it is needless to add, was declined, not only by myself, but by the officers who had accompanied me from Chili.
The Minister of Marine affected to be surprised at my want of confidence in the Government, but I explained that this was not the case. "It was quite possible that a Congress might at any time be convened which would be less liberally inclined than the present ministry, and that acceptance of an appointment so loosely made might afford the admirals placed over me, not only a control over my movements, but an easy and convenient mode of getting rid of me after I had done their work; and this without any imputation of injustice on their proceedings. The fact, indeed, of a Cortes being about to assemble, and the possibility of their interfering with me, was sufficient to fix my determination to have nothing to do with the command, under any circumstances, save those set forth in the tender made to me by command of His Majesty."
To this the Minister replied, that, "if I could be thus dismissed, the Government must likewise fall—because to suppose that a popular assembly could dictate to His Majesty in such a case was to suppose the Government no longer in existence."
I then frankly told the Minister, that "my experience as a naval officer—founded upon many years' practical observation, had taught me that, in engagements of this nature, it was necessary to be clear and explicit in every arrangement. I did not mean to insinuate anything disrespectful to the ministers of His Brazilian Majesty, but knowing that a Senate was about to assemble, and having reason to believe that a majority of the members might differ from the ministerial views, and might—when the work was done—take a fancy to see the squadron commanded by one of their own countrymen—a step which would leave me no alternative but to quit the service—it was much better for all parties to put our mutual engagements on a firm basis."
The Minister continued to argue the point, but finding argument of no avail in altering my determination, he insinuated—though not stating as much in positive terms—that he had no prospect of any arrangement being effected regarding my rank other than that which had been tendered.
Determined to be no longer trifled with—on the following morning I waited on the Prime Minister, Bonifacio de Andrada, whom I found in high dudgeon at what he termed the unreasonableness of my demands; stating, moreover, that the Consul at Buenos Ayres had exceeded his authority by writing me a bombastic letter, though but a few days before, Andrada not only expressed his entire concurrence in its contents, but stated that the letter had been written through his influence with the Emperor!
To this I replied that, "be that as it might, it was absurd to suppose that I should have given up my position in Chili for anything less in Brazil, and that all that had been offered by the Consul, or desired by me, was simply an equivalent to my Chilian command, with adequate reimbursement of any losses I might sustain by quitting Chili so abruptly, before the settlement of my affairs with that country. This offer had been made on behalf of His Imperial Majesty, under the express authority of the Prime Minister himself, as set forth in the Consul's letters, and for this I held the Government responsible. But, at the same time, I informed the Prime Minister that if he were disinclined to fulfil his own voluntary obligations, I would at once free him from them by declining the proffered command, and therefore begged of him to take back his commission, about which I would hold no further parley."
This step was evidently unexpected, for, lowering his tone, Bonifacio assured me that "good faith was the peculiar characteristic of the Brazilian Administration;" and to prove this, he had to announce to me that a Cabinet Council had that morning been held, at which it was resolved that the newly created honour of "First Admiral of Brazil" should be conferred upon me, with the pay and emoluments of Chili, as stipulated through the Consul at Buenos Ayres. He then asked me if I was content, to which I replied in the affirmative; pointing out, however, how much better it would have been to have taken this course at first, than to have caused such contention about a matter altogether insignificant, as compared with the work in hand. He replied that, as everything had been conceded, it was not worth while to reopen the question; but to this view I demurred, telling him that nothing whatever had been conceded, the Government having only fulfilled its own stipulations, which were insignificant in comparison with obtaining the services of an officer whom it believed competent to carry out alone, what otherwise would entail great expense on the State. I further assured him that it would afford me much satisfaction to prove to him of how little importance was all that which had been the subject of dispute, and that His Imperial Majesty's Government might rest assured that my utmost exertions would be used to bring the naval war to a speedy termination.
He then requested me to hoist my flag forthwith, as the Government was very anxious on this point. Accordingly, at four o'clock in the afternoon of the 21st of March, 1823, I went on board the Pedro Primiero, and hoisted my flag, which was saluted with twenty-one guns from each ship of war, the salute being acknowledged from the flagship with an equal number.
Shortly afterwards, a portaria, dated on the same day, was sent to me, explanatory of the commission which had given rise to so much trouble, and detailing my future pay as agreed upon. By the same document I was ordered to take command of the squadron, and an intimation was given that a formal commission as "First Admiral" would forthwith be made out.
It was further acknowledged that, by accepting the Brazilian command, I had risked an admitted reward for services rendered to Chili and Peru, to the extent of more than sixty thousand dollars—and it was agreed that this amount should be repaid to me in the event of those countries not fulfilling their obligations—provided equivalent services were rendered to Brazil. For more than thirty years Chili has withheld that amount, but the Brazilian Government has never fulfilled this portion of its engagements.
Notwithstanding the praiseworthy exertions of the administration to place their navy in a creditable position as regarded the ships, the want of seamen was severely felt, and little had been done beyond shipping a number of Portuguese sailors, whose fidelity to the Imperial cause was doubtful.
In the hope of getting a more reliable class of men for the flagship, I authorised Captain Crosbie to offer from my own purse, eight dollars per man, in addition to the bounty given by the Government, and by this means procured some English and North American seamen, who, together with the men who accompanied me from Chili, sufficed to form a tolerable nucleus for a future crew; as to the rest—though far short of the ship's complement—it had never before fallen to my lot to command a crew so inefficient.
On the 26th of March, the following commission from His Imperial Majesty was presented to me:—
The valour, intelligence, activity, and other qualities of Lord Cochrane as an admiral, being well-known by the performance of various services in which he has been engaged, and seeing how advantageous it would be for the Empire to avail itself of the known qualities of an Officer so gifted, I deem it proper to confer on him a patent as "First Admiral of the National and Imperial Navy," with an annual salary of eleven contos and five hundred and twenty milreis, whether at sea or on shore; and further in table money, when embarked, five contos, seven hundred and twenty milreis, which is the same pay and table money as he received in Chili. To which favour, no admiral of the Imperial Navy shall claim succession, neither to the post of "First Admiral," which I have thought fit to create solely for this occasion, from the motives aforesaid, and from particular consideration of the merits of the said Lord Cochrane. The supreme Military Council will so understand, and shall execute the necessary despatches.
Given at the Palace of Rio de Janeiro, March 21st, 1823.
Second year of the Independence of the Empire.
(Signed) IMPERADOR. LUIZ DA CUNHA MOREIEA,
Secretary of State,
March 26th, 1823.
LEONARDO ANTONIO BASTO.
Thus was a right understanding established, my only object during the undignified contentions which had arisen, being—relinquishment of the proffered command, in order to carry out my long-entertained intention of visiting Greece, then engaged in a struggle for independence—or to obtain a definite arrangement with the Brazilian Government, which should recognise the circumstances under which I had been induced to quit Chili—confer upon me permanent rank—give me the equivalent promised with regard to pay—and be binding on both parties.
On the 29th of March, a proclamation was issued by the Imperial Government declaring Bahia in a state of blockade, the Portuguese having there assembled a combined naval and military force superior to that of Brazil, and, under ordinary circumstances, fully competent to maintain itself; as well as to put down, or at least paralyse, any movement in favour of independence.
The following orders were then communicated to me, and were of the usual kind, viz. "to capture or destroy all enemy's ships and property, whereever found:"—
His Imperial Majesty, through the Secretary of State for the Marine, commands that the First Admiral, Lord Cochrane, Commander-in-Chief of the Squadron, shall, to-morrow morning, proceed from this port with such vessels as he shall judge proper to the port of Bahia, to institute a rigorous blockade, destroying or capturing whatever Portuguese force he may fall in with—doing all possible damage to the enemies of this Empire, it being left to the discretion of the said Admiral to act as he shall deem advantageous, in order to save that city from the thraldom to which it is reduced by the enemies of the cause of Brazil; for this purpose consulting with Gen. Labatu, commanding the Army, in order to the general good of the service, and glory of the national and Imperial arms.
Palace of Rio Janeiro, March 30, 1823.
LUIZ DA CUNHA MOREIRA.
To the Brazilian party and the mass of the people generally, the approaching departure of the squadron was a matter for congratulation, but to the Portuguese faction it presented a cause for fear, as tending to destroy their hopes of re-establishing the authority of the mother country. Their influence, as has before been said, was as great, if not greater, than that of the patriots, and being more systematic, it had been effectually employed to increase the disaffection which existed in the Northern provinces to the—as yet—but partially established authority of his Imperial Majesty.
It is not my intention for a moment to impute malicious motives to the Portuguese faction in Brazil. The King of Portugal, Don John VI. had, within twelve months, quitted their shores to resume the throne of his ancestors, so that they had a right to the praise of loyalty, and the more so, as at that time few calculated on separation from the mother country. The Empire itself was not six months old, and therefore they were not to be blamed for doubting its stability. The Cortes at Lisbon had sent a large force for the protection of the more remote provinces, and in an attack upon these at Bahia, the Brazilian troops had been unsuccessful, so that no great confidence was to be reposed on any future military efforts to eject the Portuguese troops.
Where the Portuguese party was really to blame, consisted in this,—that seeing disorder everywhere more or less prevalent, they strained every nerve to increase it, hoping thereby to paralyse further attempts at independence, by exposing whole provinces to the evils of anarchy and confusion. Their loyalty also partook more of self-interest than of attachment to the supremacy of Portugal, for the commercial classes, which formed the real strength of the Portuguese faction, hoped, by preserving the authority of the mother country in her distant provinces, thereby to obtain as their reward the revival of old trade monopolies, which twelve years before had been thrown open, enabling the English traders—whom they cordially hated—to supersede them in their own markets. Being a citizen of the rival nation, their aversion to me personally was undisguised; the more so perhaps, that they believed me capable of achieving at Bahia—whither the squadron was destined—that irreparable injury to their own cause, which the Imperial troops had been unable to effect. Had I, at the time, been aware of the influence and latent power of the Portuguese party in the empire, not all the so-called concessions made by De Andrada would have induced me to accept the command of the Brazilian navy; for to contend with faction is more dangerous than to engage an enemy, and a contest of intrigue was alike foreign to my nature and inclination.
ATTEMPT TO CUT OFF THE ENEMY'S SHIPS—DISOBEDIENCE TO ORDERS—LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER—WORTHLESSNESS OF THE MEN—THEIR TREACHERY—BLOCKADE ESTABLISHED—EQUIPMENT OF FIRESHIPS—ENEMY'S SUPPLIES CUT OFF—PORTUGUESE UNTRUSTWORTHY—DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE ENEMY—HIS PRETENDED CONTEMPT FOR US—THE ENEMY RETURNS TO PORT—THEIR CONSTERNATION AT THE FIRESHIPS—PORTUGUESE CONTEMPLATE ATTACKING US—FLAGSHIP RECONNOITRES ENEMY AT ANCHOR—EXCESSIVE ALARM AT MY NOCTURNAL VISIT—PROCLAMATION OF THE COMMANDANT—CONSTERNATION IN THE CITY—THE AUTHORITIES DECIDE ON EVACUATING BAHIA—INSTRUCTIONS TO THE BRAZILIAN CAPTAINS—WARNINGS ADDRESSED TO THE AUTHORITIES—ENEMY QUITS BAHIA—READINESS FOR CHASE—NUMBERS OF THE ENEMY—CAPTURE OF THE CONVOY—PRIZES DISABLED—ATTEMPT OF TROOPS TO ESCAPE—PRIZES SENT TO PERNAMBUCO—PURSUIT DISCONTINUED—REASONS FOR GOING TO MARANHAM—REASONS FOR NOT TAKING MORE PRIZES—ADVANTAGES TO THE EMPIRE.
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. MOST ILLUSTRIOUS SIR,
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.
MOST ILLUSTRIOUS SIR,
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:—
INHABITANTS OF BAHIA,
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.
(Signed) IGNACIO LUIZ MADEIRA DE MELLA.
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.
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.
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.
MOST EXCELLENT SIR,
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.
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.