The defence of trade has always been a priority for the Royal Navy. This volume details the operations of the squadrons deployed in South American waters amid the turmoil which began with the French occupation of the Iberian Peninsular and ended with the independence of Argentina, Chile, Peru and, eventually, Brazil.
British trade, ships and commercial communities found themselves threatened by the resulting conflicts. The navy’s task was to provide protection in the face of blockades of dubious legality declared by both the Royalists and the Patriot navies; while steering a neutral diplomatic course between the expectations of its old political allies, Spain and Portugal, and those of the new republican regimes, which had now become important trading partners. The situation contained an additional twist in that the republican navies were officered and manned by large numbers of formed Royal Navy personnel, led by the unpredictable Lord Cochrane.
Reproducing almost the complete correspondence between the Admiralty and its commanders in the field during the period, this volume illustrates dramatically the challenges which the navy faced in these turbulent times. It also demonstrates the skill and tact with which successive commanders-in-chief such as Michael de Courcy, William Bowles and Thomas Hardy handed the situation.