ADMIRAL THOMAS COCHRANE, 10th EARL OF DUNDONALD, a.k.a. LE LOUP DES MERS [THE WOLF OF THE SEA] 1823 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT LETTER HANDWRITTEN BY ONE OF ENGLAND'S GREATEST NAVAL HEROES - THE MODEL FOR HORATIO HORNBLOWER AND 'LUCKY' CAPTAIN JACK AUBREY BUT KNOWN TO THE FRENCH NAVY AS THE 'WOLF OF THE SEAS'
BRAZIL [?] 1823 Very Good Manuscript
On offer is a super, original 1823 manuscript letter handwritten by Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Marquess of Maranhão, GCB, ODM (Chile) (1775-1860), styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831, was a senior British naval flag officer and radical politician. He was a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, leading the French to nickname him 'Le Loup des Mers' ('The Sea Wolf' or 'The Wolf of the Seas'). Cochrane was the model for Patrick O'Brian's 'Master and Commander' Captain Jack Aubrey Series of books. He was also believed to be the model for Horatio Hornblower. Written in the third person, signed 'Tho. Cochrane', dated March 7th, 1823, the place hard to distinguish, this short letter is dated a mere two weeks before taking command of the Brazilian Navy, Cochrane writes regarding his compliments to Captain Porter, thanking him for furnishing information of Pirate activity, having not the means to pursue the pirates and his mention of English merchants in the port. This superb 2pp., 4.25" x 7" relic of British naval and marine history in the hand of one of the most exciting, successful and decorated men that ever captained a ship will be a treasure for the right collector. Signed in ink. Fine. BIO NOTES: Thomas Cochrane was born at Annsfield, near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, the son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald and Anna Gilchrist. Cochrane joined the navy in 1793, and spent his first months at Sheerness in a Sixth-rate frigate, the 28-gun HMS Hind, commanded by his uncle, Captain Alexander Cochrane, then transferred to the 38-gun Fifth-rate HMS Thetis, also under his uncle's command. In Thetis he visited Norway then served on the North America station. There, in 1795, he was appointed acting lieutenant . The following year he was commissioned in the rank of lieutenant on 27 May 1796, after passing the examination. After several transfers in America and a return home, he found himself as 8th Lieutenant on Lord Keith's flagship HMS Barfleur in the Mediterranean Sea in 1798. In February 1800, Cochrane commanded the prize crew taking the captured French vessel Généreux to the British base at Mahón. The ship was almost lost in a storm, with Cochrane and his brother Archibald going aloft in place of a crew that were mostly ill. On 28 March 1800, Cochrane, having been promoted to commander, took command of the brig sloop HMS Speedy. Later that year, a Spanish warship disguised as a merchant ship almost captured him. He escaped by flying a Danish flag and fending off a boarding by claiming his ship was plague-ridden. Chased by an enemy frigate, and knowing it would follow him in the night by any glimmer of light from the Speedy, he placed a lantern on a barrel and let it float away. The enemy frigate followed the light and Speedy escaped. In February 1801, at Malta, he got into an argument with a French Royalist officer at a fancy dress ball. Cochrane came dressed as a common sailor, and the Royalist mistook him for one. This argument led to Cochrane's only duel. Cochrane wounded the French officer with a pistol shot but was himself unharmed. One of his most notable exploits was the capture of the Spanish xebec frigate El Gamo, on 6 May 1801. El Gamo carried 32 guns and 319 men, compared with Speedy's 14 guns and 54 men. Cochrane flew an American flag to approach so closely to El Gamo that its guns could not depress to fire on the Speedy's hull. This left the Spanish with no option but to board. However, whenever the Spanish were about to board, Cochrane would pull away briefly, and fire on the concentrated boarding parties with his ship's guns. Eventually, Cochrane boarded the Gamo, despite still being outnumbered about five to one, and captured her. In Speedy's 13-month cruise, Cochrane captured, burned, or drove ashore 53 ships before three French ships of the line under Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois captured him on 3 July 1801. During his time as a prisoner Linois often asked him for advice and Cochrane later referred to how polite he was in his autobiography. A few days later he was exchanged for the second captain of another French ship. Then, on 8 August 1801, he received a promotion to the rank of post-captain. After the Peace of Amiens, Cochrane attended the University of Edinburgh. Upon the resumption of war in 1803, St Vincent assigned him in October 1803 to command of a Sixth Rate ship which was the 22-gun HMS Arab. Cochrane alleged that the ship had poor handling, colliding with Royal Navy ships on two occasions (the Bloodhound and the Abundance), and afforded Cochrane no opportunities. In his autobiography he would compare the Arab to a collier and his first thoughts on seeing Arab being repaired at Plymouth were that she would "sail like a haystack. Despite this, he still managed to intercept and board an American merchant ship, the Chatham, and create an international incident, leading to the consignment of HMS Arab and her commander to protect Britain's important whaling fleet beyond Orkney in the North Sea. In 1804, St Vincent stood aside for the incoming new government led by William Pitt the Younger and Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville took office. In December of that year Cochrane received an appointment to command of the new 32-gun frigate HMS Pallas, in which he undertook a series of notable exploits over the following eighteen months. In August 1806, he took command of the 38-gun frigate HMS Imperieuse, formerly the Spanish frigate Medea. One of his midshipmen was Frederick Marryat, who later wrote fictionalized accounts of his adventures with Cochrane. In Imperieuse Cochrane raided the Mediterranean coast of France. In 1808, Cochrane and a Spanish guerrilla force captured the fortress of Mongat, which sat astride the road between Gerona and Barcelona. This delayed General Duhesme's French army for a month. On another raid Cochrane copied code books from a signal station, leaving behind the originals so the French would believe them uncompromised. When Imperieuse ran short of water, she sailed up the estuary of the Rhone to replenish. When a French army marched into Catalonia and besieged Rosas, Cochrane took part in the defence of the town by occupying and defending Fort Trinidad ('Castell de la Trinitat') for a number of weeks before the fall of the city forced him to leave; Cochrane was one of the last two men to quit the fort. While captain of Speedy, Pallas, and Imperieuse, Cochrane became arguably the most effective practitioner of coastal warfare during the period. Not only did he attack shore installations such as the Martello tower at Son Bou on Minorca, but captured enemy ships in harbor by leading his men in boats in "cutting out" operations. He was a meticulous planner of every operation, which limited casualties among his men and maximized the chances of success. In 1809, he commanded the attack by a flotilla of fire ships on Rochefort, as part of the Battle of the Basque Roads. The attack did considerable damage, but Cochrane blamed Admiral Gambier, the fleet commander, for missing the opportunity to destroy the French fleet. In June 1806, Cochrane stood for the House of Commons on a ticket of parliamentary reform (a movement which would later bring about the Reform Acts) for the potwalloper borough of Honiton. This was exactly the kind of borough Cochrane wished to abolish; votes were mostly sold to the highest bidder. Cochrane offered nothing and lost the election. In October 1806, he again ran for Parliament in Honiton and won. Cochrane initially denied that he paid any bribes, but Cochrane himself revealed in a Parliamentary debate ten years afterward that he had paid ten guineas (£10 10s) per voter through Mr. Townshend, local headman and banker. In May 1807, Cochrane was elected by Westminster in a more democratic election. Cochrane campaigned for parliamentary reform, allied with such Radicals as William Cobbett, Sir Francis Burdett and Henry Hunt. His outspoken criticism of the conduct of the war and the corruption in the navy made him powerful enemies in the government. His criticism of Admiral Gambier's conduct at the Battle of the Basque Roads was so severe that Gambier demanded a court-martial to clear his name. This made Cochrane important enemies in the Admiralty. Cochrane, though popular with the public, was unable to get along with his colleagues in the House of Commons, let alone the government. Usually, he had little success in promoting his causes, though there were exceptions: in 1812 he successfully confronted the Admiralty's prize court. His conviction in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814, resulted in Parliament expelling him on 5 July 1814. However, his constituents in the seat of Westminster re-elected him at the resulting by-election on 16 July. He held this seat until 1818. In 1818, Cochrane last speech in Parliament advocated parliamentary reform. Cochrane left the UK in official disgrace, but that did not end his naval career. In May 1817, at the request of Chilean leader Bernardo O'Higgins, he took command of the Chilean Navy in Chile's war of independence against Spain. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile and Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy. Accompanied by Lady Cochrane and their two children, he reached Valparaiso on 28 November 1818. Named a vice admiral, Cochrane reorganized the Chilean navy, introducing British naval customs. He took command in the frigate O'Higgins and blockaded and raided the coasts of Peru as he had those of France and Spain. On his own initiative he organized and led the capture of Valdivia, despite only having 300 men and two ships to deploy against seven large forts. However, he failed in his attempt to capture the Chiloé Archipelago for Chile. In 1820, O'Higgins ordered him to convoy the Liberation Army of General Jose de San Martin to Peru, blockade the coast and support the campaign for independence. Later, forces under Cochrane's personal command cut out and captured the frigate Esmeralda, the most powerful Spanish ship in South America. All this led to Peruvian independence, which O'Higgins considered indispensable to Chile's independence and security. Cochrane's victories in the Pacific were spectacular and important but the euphoria was almost immediately marred by accusations that he had been plotted against by subordinates and treated with contempt and denied adequate financial reward by his superiors. It is clear from the evidence that none of these accusations is true and that the root of the problem lay in Cochrane's own suspicious and uneasy personality. Cochrane is alleged to have made plans to free Napoleon from his exile on Saint Helena and make him ruler of a unified South American state. Before he could carry out his plan, Napoleon died in 1821. Cochrane left the service of the Chilean Navy on 29 November 1822. Brazil was fighting its own war of independence against Portugal. Excepting Montevideo (in today Uruguay, then Cisplatina), along the 1822, the southern provinces fell under the control of the patriots led by the Prince Regent, later Emperor Pedro I, but Portugal still controlled some north important capitals, with major garrisons and naval bases like Belém do Pará, Salvador da Bahia and São Luís do Maranhão. Cochrane took command of the Brazilian Navy on 21 March 1823 and its flagship, the 'Pedro I'. He blockaded the Portuguese in Bahia, confronted them at the Battle of May 4, and forced them to evacuate the province in a vast convoy of ships which Cochrane's men attacked as they crossed the Atlantic. Cochrane then sailed to Maranhão (then called Maranham) on his own initiative and bluffed the garrison into surrender by claiming that a vast (and mythical) Brazilian fleet and army were over the horizon. He then sent a subordinate, Captain John Pascoe Grenfell, to Belem do Pará to use the same bluff and extract a Portuguese surrender. As a result of Cochrane's efforts, Brazil was now totally de facto independent and free from any Portuguese troops. On his return to Rio de Janeiro, the Emperor Pedro I of Brazil rewarded him by making him the Marquês do Maranhão (Marquis of Maranhão). Unfortunately, as in Chile, Cochrane's joy at these successes was rapidly replaced by quarrels over pay and prize money and a totally imaginary accusation that the Brazilian authorities were plotting against him. In mid- 1824, Cochrane sailed north with a squadron to assist the Brazilian army, under General Francisco Lima e Silva, suppress a republican rebellion in the state of Pernambuco which had begun to spread to Maranhão and other northern states. The rebellion was rapidly extinguished. Cochrane then proceeded to Maranhão where he took over the administration and demanded the payment of a vast sum of prize money which he claimed was owing to himself and the squadron as a result of the recapture of the province in 1823. He took all money from the public funds and sacked all merchant ships anchored in São Luís do Maranhão. Then, defying orders to return to Rio de Janeiro, Cochrane transferred to a captured Brazilian frigate, left Brazil on 10 November 1825 and returned to Britain. Cochrane then went to Europe, where between March 1827 and December 1828 he took an active role in the campaign to secure Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, which had deployed an army raised in Egypt to suppress the Greek rebellion. Cochrane's efforts generally met with limited success due to the poor discipline of the Greek soldiers and seamen. Still, one of his subordinates, Captain Hastings, attacked Ottoman forces at the Gulf of Lepanto, which indirectly led to intervention by Great Britain, France and Russia, the destruction of the Turko-Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino, and the end of the war under mediation of the Great Powers. Greece was probably the only campaign in Cochrane's naval career in which the results of his efforts were disappointingly slight. At the end of the war he resigned and returned to England. For the first time since he was convicted for the 1814 Stock Exchange Scandal his lively nature was brought to a standstill. Despite reports to the contrary, there is little evidence to suggest that he experienced a nervous breakdown. Cochrane inherited his peerage following his father's death on 1 July 1831, becoming the 10th Earl of Dundonald. He was restored to the Royal Navy list on 2 May 1832 as a Rear Admiral of the Blue, but Cochrane's return to Royal Navy service was delayed by his refusal to take a command until his knighthood had been restored. Nevertheless, he was further promoted up the list of flag officers, as follows: Rear Admiral of the Blue on 2 May 1832; Rear Admiral of the White on 10 January 1837; Rear Admiral of the Red on 28 June 1838; Vice Admiral of the Blue on 23 November 1841; Vice Admiral of the White on 9 November 1846; Vice Admiral of the Red on 3 January 1848; Admiral of the Blue on 21 March 1851; Admiral of the White on 2 April 1853 and Admiral of the Red on 8 December 1857. On 22 May 1847 Queen Victoria reinstated him as a knight in the Order of the Bath. He then served as Commander-in-Chief of the North America and West Indies Station from 1848 to 1851. During the Crimean War, the government considered him for a command in the Baltic, but decided that there was too high a chance that he would lose his fleet in a risky attack. On 6 November 1854, he was appointed to the honorary office of Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, an office that he would retain until his death.