La armada brasilera debió buscar oficiales y tripulantes en otro lado:
The subsequent loss of the schooner Maria Teresa and its convoy of transports, taken to Montevideo by a pro-Portuguese officer in January 1823, led to a general questioning of the
loyalty of naval personnel and further predisposed Brazilian patriotic circles to accept the decision to hire Cochrane and other foreign officers. By then all of the Spanish American
republics had established navies commanded primarily by British and American officers idled after 1815; indeed, the migration had been so extensive that, in the British case, it inspired Parliament to pass the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819, which among other provisions denied inactive British officers their half-pay while they were employed by another country.
The navy of Chile, which Cochrane had served since 1818, provided the most dramatic example of the decisive difference foreign naval talent could make within the context of the Latin
American Wars for Independence. Thomas, Lord Cochrane, later 10th Earl of Dundonald, was a highly decorated British veteran of the Napoleonic wars, living in exile in France (after being disgraced in a stock market scandal in 1814) when he accepted command of the Chilean navy. His brilliant campaign against the Spanish navy ranged as far north as the coast of California; the high point came in 1820–21, when his fleet transported the army of General José de San Martín to conquer Peru, the last bastion of Spanish rule in South America.
Thereafter he fell out with San Martín, who established himself as dictator of Peru and tried to lure Cochrane and his British officers and seamen into Peruvian service. Cochrane refused, but enough of his officers and men accepted seriously to cripple the Chilean navy. Once Spain had been defeated, Cochrane’s relationship with the Chilean government soured over issues of pay and prize money. As early as May 1822 Dom Pedro’s chief agent in Britain suggested Cochrane as a potential commander of the Brazilian navy. When offered the position six months later, he accepted: ‘The war in the Pacific having been happily terminated by the total destruction of the Spanish naval force, I am . . . free for the crusade of liberty in any other quarter of the globe.’
Dom Pedro accepted Cochrane’s stiff demands regarding rank and salary. A vice admiral in Chile, he received the rank of ‘first admiral’ in Brazil, with compensation at an annual rate of 11,500 milréis (£2,304) when ashore and 17,290 milréis (£3,458) while at sea, sums three times as great as the salary of any other Brazilian admiral, and £500 per year more than what he would have earned as a British admiral commanding a fleet. Cochrane brought four British officers with him from Chile, and another 47 British subjects entered the Brazilian naval officer corps during 1822–3. Six more followed in 1824, one in 1825 and two in 1826, bringing the overall total (including Cochrane) to 61. Most were young, 56 entering at the rank of lieutenant or lower. The British were neither the first nor the only foreign officers hired by Brazil. The prospect of serving under a monarchy made Brazil somewhat less attractive than the Spanish American republics in the eyes of officers from the United States, yet Captain David Jewitt, an American most recently in the service of Argentina, was the first foreigner commissioned by the Brazilian navy, in October 1822. Other early signings included Teodoro de Beaurepaire, formerly of the French navy.15 Thus the leadership of the fleet Cochrane took
into action against the Portuguese had a truly multinational character. The commanders of the nine warships that left Rio de Janeiro in April 1823 included four Brazilians, three Britons,
the American Jewitt and the Frenchman Beaurepaire; aboard Cochrane’s flagship Pedro I, the officers and staff included eight Brazilians, six Britons, two Frenchmen and one German.
Cochrane spent the next nine months campaigning against Pernambuco and its allies among the other northern provinces.
In consolidating Dom Pedro’s rule, the navy continued to place a special trust in its British officers: in midsummer 1824–5 they accounted for 57 of the 170 officers at sea and served as commanders of 13 warships. Cochrane remained an effective commander despite becoming increasingly preoccupied, even obsessed, with prize money. In a development disturbingly reminiscent of his last months in Chile, he argued constantly with the Brazilian government over the sums he felt that he and his men had earned in vanquishing the Portuguese navy during
1823. After leaving the flagship Pedro I for the frigate Piranga, in May 1825 Cochrane sailed directly from Maranhão to Britain, ostensibly to repair his ship. Having declared his sympathy with ‘the struggle for the liberties of Greece’ as early as 1822, he was receptive to an overture from the Greek navy and by August 1825 had negotiated the fabulous sum of £57,000 to serve as its commander-in-chief. After he ignored repeated appeals to return to Brazil, in April 1827 the navy formally dismissed him, one month after he finally arrived in Greece to assume his new
While the British influence remained strong, during 1825 other foreigners entered the officer corps in unprecedented numbers. The navy employed sixteen American, French and Scandinavian officers, including nine who arrived that year. During 1826 a Danish officer served as the first commander of the steamer Correio Brasileiro. After suffering no fatalities in the War for Independence, four of Brazil’s British officers lost their lives in the war against
Argentina, killed outright or mortally wounded in the action.
Just two deserted to the Argentinians; one, a lieutenant, who took a schooner with him, crossing paths during 1827 with an Argentinian British lieutenant who defected to Brazil. The
same high degree of loyalty did not hold true for the British seamen recruited into Brazilian service, at least in the Cisplatine War. Because the Argentinian navy was even more dependent
upon British manpower (for two-thirds of its officers and half of its seamen, compared to one-fifth of the officers and one-sixth of the seamen for the Brazilian navy, as of 1827), deserters
moved easily between the two navies, selling their services to the highest bidder. Captured British seamen typically accepted the offer to change sides rather than spend months idle (and
unpaid) as prisoners of war.
Over the months that followed Brazilian agents offering able seamen 13 milréis (£2.60) per month, significantly more than the £1.60 they could earn in the British navy, found no shortage
of volunteers. The first 170 British sailors reached Rio de Janeiro in March 1823, coinciding with Cochrane’s arrival from Chile. Another 250 departed from Britain in April and May, still in time to participate in the War for Independence. The next great wave of recruits left Britain for Brazil between July and November 1825, as the navy prepared for the Cisplatine War. Of 400 seamen in this cohort, 150 sailed aboard the frigate Piranga when it returned to Brazil without Cochrane. By 1827 there were between 1,000 and 1,200 British sailors in Brazilian service.