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The First Chilean Navy Squadron was the naval force that finished the Spanish colonial rule in the South West Coast of America[1](p9) and protagonaized the most important naval actions in the Latin American wars of independence. The Chilean government organized the squadron in order to carry the war to the Viceroyalty of Perú, the center of the Spanish power in South America and in this way secure the independence of Chile and Argentina. Capture of the Esmeralda in Callao, L, Colet, Club Naval, Valparaíso Contents 1 Background 2 Build up 3 The Capture of the Spanish frigate María Isabel 4 First blockade of Callao 5 Second blockade of Callao 6 Capture of Valdivia 7 Liberating Expedition to Perú 8 Cochrane sails to California 9 Capture of Chiloé 10 Decommissioning of the Squadron 11 Aftermath 12 See also 13 References Background The Napoleonic wars had crippled Spain's navy, and the French occupation had destroyed the logistical base of its dockyards. Nevertheless, from Callao, the royalist stronghold in Perú, the Spanish were able to blockade any Chilean port, to land in Talcahuano and support the advance of the royalist troops against Santiago de Chile, the main city of the revolutionary forces and crush the rebellion in Chile. Naval capacity played almost no role for the revolutionary forces in the time from the first declaration of independence 1810 to the Spanish "reconquest" of Chile 1814. Two ships bought by the patriots were defeated in a short fight off Valparaíso in May 1813.[1](p9) The Chilean patriots decided that they needed their own navy with trustworthy crews if they were to protect the long coasts of the state and to mobilize troops against the enemy. Absent a proper naval force, Chile was vulnerable to enemy landings. The major concern of the British government and the US-administration was the preservation of their trade, so both were neutral in the conflict. Still, public opinion welcomed the end of Spanish autocratic government in South America. Also, in England, end of the Napoleonic wars permitted the government to reduced the number of ships in the Royal Navy from 700 to 134 and the number of sailors from 140,000 to 23,000.[2](p19) Build up After the Battle of Chacabuco Bernardo O'Higgins remarked that "this thriumph and a hundred more will be insignificant if we do not control the sea". Consequently the Chilean government, led by O'Higgins, authorized privateers to engage as a commerce raiders, interrupting the Spanish trade off the west coast of South America (as Argentina had also donesince 1815). Although the commerce along the whole coast from Chile to Panama was interrupted, the military and naval achievements of the privateers expeditions were insignificant. O'Higgins set out to create a navy out of nothing. José Ignacio Zenteno was nominated as Minister of Marine and promulgated in November 1817 the Reglamento General de Marina, a legal framework for the new institution. Alvarez Condarco and Manuel Hermanegildo Aguirre were sent to London respective to New York to recruit men and to acquire warships.[3] Few days after the Battle of Chacabuco Chilean revolutionaries commissioned their first ship, the old US-smuggler ship Eagle, once captured by the Spaniards and now in the hand of the Chileans.[4] Eagle was first renamed Águila and then later Pueyrredón. In July 1818 the Columbus, a US-origin 18-gun brig, reached Valparaíso and was bought and renamed Araucano. The regular Chilean navy began to grow steadily and soon was able to man the East Indiaman Windham, which arrived at Valparaíso in March 1818, and Cumberland, which arrived at Valparaíso in May 1818. The Chileans had bought both in England and renamed and Lautaro and respective San Martín. As usual at the time all prizes and seized property was object of a sophisticated system of rules defining commissions and differences between property and ship captured afloat or in transit or at land.[2](p81) List of major ships of the First Chilean Navy Squadron Ship name Type ton[5] Other names Comissioned from Price Águila Brigantine 220 Eagle 1817.02 Spanish prize Lautaro East Indiaman 850 Windham 1818.03 bought in London $180,000 San Martín East Indiaman 1300 Cumberland 1818.05 bought in London $140,000 Galvarino[6] brig-sloop 398 HMS Hecate (1809) Lucy[5] 1818.10 bought in London $70,000[6](p416) O'Higgins Frigate 1220 Patrikii (Russia) María Isabel (Spain) 1818.10 Spanish prize Independencia[2](p20) Corvette 700 Curatio 1819.06 bought in USA USD300.000[3] Moctezuma Sloop 200 1819.02 Spanish prize Chacabuco Corvette[6](p59) 450[7] Coquimbo 1818.06 bought from Chilean privateer $36.000 Araucano[2](p20) Brigantine 270 Columbus 1818.06 bought in USA $33,000 The first task of the Águila was to bring home 72 patriots being held prisoner in the Juan Fernandez Islands. Later, she joined Lautaro to break the blockade of Valparaíso by the Spanish vessel Esmeralda. The Capture of the Spanish frigate María Isabel In May 1818 the Spanish frigate María Isabel (also Reina María Isabel) was sent to Perú with a convoy of twelve ships carrying 2400 men as a reinforcement to the Viceroy.[2](p13) On the way from Cadiz to Cape Horn the crew of Trinidad moutinied and put into Buenos Aires handing over orders, signals and rendevouz points. This information was inmediately handed over to the Chilean government. On 19 October 1818 the first Commander of the Chilean Squadron Manuel Blanco Encalada was ordered to set sails with San Martín, Lautaro, Chacabuco and Araucano in order to intercept the Spanish convoy. On 28 October they found the María Isabel at anchor in Talcahuano. The frigate was taken in a brisk action. With the Spanish prize the squadron sailed to Santa María Island, aproximately 30 km south of Talcahuano, where they remainded for a week until, one by one, the Spanish transports Xavier, Dolores, Magdalena, Elena, Jerezana and Carlota sailed innocently into their arms. On 12 November 1818 only four Spanish transporters, San Juan Bautista, Tagle, Comercio and Preciosa, arrived to the Spanish enclave of Valdivia and later to Callao. The Esmeralda was renamed O'Higgins and added to the Chilean Squadron. Territories controlled by Chile and the Viceroyalty of Perú after the Battle of Chacabuco. Chiloé and Valdivia were enclaves accessible only by sea. First blockade of Callao On 11 December 1818, at the request of Chilean leader Bernardo O'Higgins, Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, became a Chilean citizen, was appointed Vice Admiral, and took command of the Chilean Navy by pay and allowances of ₤ 1200[2](p38) a year. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile. Cochrane reorganized the Chilean navy, introducing British naval customs. The organization of the squadron was complete in January 1819 and the government could recruit 1400 of the 1610 officers and men it needed. Two-thirds of the seamen and almost all the officers were British or North-Americans.[8] On 14 January 1819 the squadron set sails for the first blockade of Callao. The orders were specific and detailed: to blockade the port of Callao, to cut off the maritime forces of the enemy, and other 17 clauses to lay down his task. The expedition freed 29 Chilean soldiers kept prisioners in the San Lorenzo Island, seized ships (best prizes were Moctezuma and Victoria), property, money, gold and silber but the massive batteries and Spanish passive system of defence and the refusal of their warships to come out of Callao and fight frustrated further success. On 1 June the squadron arrived to Valparaíso from the first expedition to Callao. Second blockade of Callao On 12 December 1819, the squadron set sails to renew the attack on the Viceroyalty of Perú. The orders were: to secure the command of the Pacific to find and destroy a Spanish convoy (San Telmo, Alejandro I and frigate Prueba) coming from Cadiz to attack Callao with Congreve rockets it was forbiden any hostility against Peruvian persons or properties The cost of the expedition for the Chilean state was no less than ₤80.000.[2](p60) As Cochrane found that the forts of Callao had been reinforced and the element of surprise had been lost, he was convinced that further attacks would be doomed to failure. The campaign was a cause for frustration, also because of the death of Colonel Charles and the failure of the Congreve rockets. But the Spanish reinforcement sent from Cadiz had schrunk to a fraction of its original size. The 76-gun Alejandro I had to turn back to Spain because of its bad condition and the San Telmo was lost in a severe storm rounding Cape Horn with all hands. Only the frigate Prueba reached Callao but, pursuit by the Chileans fled to Guayaquil. Capture of Valdivia Map of Corral Bay at the mouth of the river Valdivia and the location of the coastal defences. The four largest forts are marked with red Main article: Capture of Valdivia After failing to capture the Spanish fortress of Real Felipe in Callao Thomas Cochrane decided to assault the city of Valdivia, the most fortified place in South America at the time. Valdivia was considered a threat to Chilean independence as it was a stronghold and supply base for Spanish troops. Valdivia provided a safe landing site for sending reinforcements to the loyalist guerrilla fighting the Guerra a muerte in the area of La Frontera and the first landing site for ships coming from Spain after Cape Horn. Valdivia was isolated from the rest of Chile by native Mapuche territory, and the only entrance to Valdivia was via the mouth of Valdivia River; Corral Bay. The bay was fortified with several forts built to prevent pirate raids or any attack from a foreign nation. The forts of Valdivia were captured on 3 and 4 February 1820, and his fall effectively ended the last vestiges of Spanish power in mainland Chile and put big amount of materiel in the Chileans hands: 50 tons gunpowder, 10,000 cannon shot, 170,000 musket balls, small arms, 128 pieces of artillery, and the Dolores. The Chilean Intrépido was lost. Liberating Expedition to Perú Main article: Liberating Expedition to Perú The emancipation of Perú was to have been a common enterprise by Chile and Argentina[9]. Argentina, then a lose alliance of provinces, distracted by internal strife and another threat of invasion from Spain was unable to contribute for the expedition and ordered José de San Martín back to Argentina. San Martín choose to disobey (see Acta de Rancagua) and O'Higgins decided that Chile would assume the costs of the Freeing expedition to Perú.[10](p39) On 20 August 1820 the expedition sailed from Valparaíso for Paracas, near Pisco in Perú. The escort was provided by the squadron and comprised the flagship O'Higgins (under Captain Thomas Sackville Crosbie), frigate San Martín (Captain William Wilkinson), frigate Lautaro (Captain Martin Guise), the corvette Independencia (Captain Robert Forster), the brigs Galvarino (Captain John Tooker Spry), Araucano (Captain Thomas Carter), and Pueyrredón (Lieutenant William Prunier) and the schooner Moctezuma (Lieutenant George Young).[2](p98) Some 1600 men, Every expeditionary ship got a painted number in order to be identified from afar. There are discrepancy between authors about the names and number and some names of the transportes.[11] List of transporters of the Expedition to Perú Ship name Shipnumber tons Other names troops personnel or cargo Potrillo[Notes 1] 20 180 0 1400 boxes munition for infantry and artillery, 190 boxes munition for flamethrowerfor and 8 barrels powder Consecuencia 11 550 Argentina 561 Gaditana 10 250 236 6 guns Emprendedora 12 325 Empresa 319 1280 boxes musket balls, 1500 boxes supplies of tools and repair shop Golondrina 19 120 0 100 boxes munition, 190 boxes clothes, 460 sack kekse, 670 bunches jerked beef Peruana 18 250 53 hospital, physicians and 200 boxes Jerezana 15 350 461 Minerva 8 325 630 Águila[Notes 1] 14 800 not Brigantine Pueyrredón 752 7 guns Dolores[Notes 1] 9 400 395 Mackenna ? 500 0 960 boxes with weapons, armors and leather goods for infantry and cavalry. 180 quintal iron pieces Perla 16 350 140 6 guns Santa Rosa 13 240 Santa Rosa de Chacabuco or Chacabuco 372 6 guns Nancy 21 200 0 80 horses and fodder Notes ^ a b c Property of Thomas Cochrane, hired out to Chile, Brian Vale, Cochrane in the Pacific, page 144 On 8. September 1820 the liberating army disembarked 100 miles southeast of Lima: 4118 soldiers, 4000 of the were Chileans.[6](p144) On the night of 5. November Cochrane, personally, and 240 volunteers wearing white with blue armbands captured the Spanish frigate Esmeralda (1791) within the port of Callao. She was renamed Valdivia and comissioned to the Chilean Navy. Perú was not seen as an enemy territory but the occupying Spanish military forces and the commander of the expeditionary troops José de San Martín understand that the task was to neutralise the Spanish army so that the population could liberate themselves and he followed a slow and ralentless course. Cochrane sails to California Not until July 1821 the troops entered in Lima, declared Perú's independence and San Martín was acclaimed as Protector of the new state. But undefeated Spanish troops still occupied the highlands. Cochrane clashed with the cautious San Martín because of the unrealistic hope for a national rising in support of Peruvian independence and San Martín's commanders were disenchanted about his inaction. As San Martín refused to provide the squadron with funds unless it was handed over to the new government of Perú, Cochrane ordered to seize the Mint and State Treasury loaded onto the Sacramento by nightfall of 14. September. The amount loaded was, according to the Peruvians, ₤80,000 or $400,000. Capture of Chiloé 1825 a squadron commanded by Manuel Blanco Encalada landed troops under the command of Ramón Freire on Chiloé and then blockaded the island. The realists, the last bastion of Spain in South America, surrendered on January 12. 1826. Decommissioning of the Squadron In April 1826 O'Higgins's successor, Ramón Freire, reduced the active navy to a single brig. He decommissioned the rest of the navy and sold O'Higgins and Chacabuco to Argentina. Aftermath Chile's financial effort burdened with the squadron and the expedition to Perú impoverished the country, even O'Higgins and his ministers had not been paid for months.[2](p168) See also Chilean Navy List of ships of the Chilean Navy References ^ a b Lawrence Sondhaus, Naval warfare, 1815-1914, 2001, by Routledge, ISBN 0-415-21477-7, url ^ a b c d e f g h i Brian Vale, Cochrane in the Pacific, I.B. Tauris & Co ltd, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84511-446-6 ^ a b Gerardo Etcheverry Principales naves de guerra a vela hispanoamericanas., retrieved 11.01.2011 ^ There are two versions of the transference: some historians asserts that the ship was handed over to the Chileans by a Spanish captain but others say that the ship was captured in Valparaíso ^ a b David Marley, "Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present", 1998, ABC-CLIO Ltd, url, page 422 ^ a b c d Carlos Lopez Urrutia, Historia de la Marina de Chile, Editorial Andrés Bello, 1969, ^ retrieved 5. January 2011 ^ Brian Vale, Cochrane in the Pacific, I.B. Tauris & Co ltd, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84511-446-6, The author gives in pages 25 and 43 different figures of the enrolled seamen: 1200 and 1400 ^ See English translation of the Treaty in Edmund Burke, The Annual register, or, A view of the history, politics, and literature for the Year 1819, page 138 ^ Simon Collier, William F. Sater, A history of Chile, 1808-1994, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-521-56075-6 ^ We use here the list of Gerardo Etcheverry Principales naves de guerra a vela hispanoamericanas., retrieved on 21. January 2011. The Hercules, Veloz and Zaragoza are not in the list.