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 Thomas Cochrane 
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Post Thomas Cochrane
I recently read Robert Harvey's COCHRANE - The Life and Times of a Fighting Captain.

I don't conclude that he was a saint, but I do conclude that he was misunderstood and unfairly treated.

Opinions, please?

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Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:42 am
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I guess it depends on who you believe. I haven't read enough about him to really form a solid opinion.

On another note, I just found a reference to the phrase: "Never mind maneuvers, always go at them." Apparently, this is Cochrane's phrase, not Nelson's as a certain movie would lead us to believe. LOL.

Certainly, it was Nelson's practice to "go at them"...

"So the seed must have grown, till we find the fruit in Lord Dundonald's oft-quoted phrase..."

(p. 337 of Fighting Instructions 1530–1816, edited by Julian S. Corbett and published by the Navy Records Society)

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susan


Thu May 18, 2006 5:19 pm
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I haven’t read the Harvey book but I have read (albeit some time ago) Cochrane’s "Autobiography of a Seaman" and "Lord Cochrane" by Christopher Lloyd. He seemed to me to be too complex and too human to pigeon-hole as saint or sinner. Personally, I like him.

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Thu May 18, 2006 5:39 pm
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From Narratives of State Trials in the Nineteenth Century: First Period from the Union with Ireland to the Death of George the Fourth, 1801–1830 (1882) by G. Lathom Browne:

After Cochrane was kicked out of the Order of the Bath... "on the 11th of August his armorial bearings were taken down from their place among those of his brother knights in Henry VII's Chapel, and his banner kicked down the steps by an order from Lord Sidmouth."

This book also contains a footnote that says that the £1000 note (No. 8202, dated 26 June 1815) Cochrane paid to get out of prison is still at the Bank of England. (I wonder if it's still there in the museum?) It also says that Cochrane wrote the following on the note:

"My health having suffered by long and close confinement, and my oppressors being resolved to deprive me of property or life, I submit to robbery to protect myself from murder, in the hope that I shall live to bring the delinquents to justice."

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susan


Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:06 am
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From the Telegraph, an interesting article re Lord Cochrane

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Sun Sep 02, 2007 7:13 am
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Thanks for moving the link, Liz.

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Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:05 am
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Has anyone come across letters written by Cochrane to Basil Hall during the period of time when Cochrane was with the Chilean navy? If so, what source?

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susan


Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:54 am
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Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the various books about Thomas Cochrane, so I thought I'd bump up this general thread.

Brian, perhaps you have the answer to the question in my previous post?

Also, I read somewhere (unfortunately, I can't remember where it was at the moment), that Cochrane and Hall had a bit of a disagreement and exchanged some heated words, at one point, via letter. Is this true? If so, have you run across any of those particular letters?

I think that same source said that Hall ordered his men not to communicate with the sailors on Cochrane's ship, which made them unhappy.

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Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:13 am
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Susan!

Cochrane seems to have kept every piece of paper that went across his desk (that is why it is so easy to catch him out on the distortions in his autobiographies). As a result there is a mountain of papers comprising his official (and some) personal correspondence in both English and Spanish in the National Archives of Scotland, with copies in the Archives of Chile and Brazil. The Chileans have published all of their's in (I think) 3 or 4 volumes. I have 13 reels of microfilm of the stuff.

'Cochrane in the Pacific' and 'A Frigate of King George' both feature the RN S America Squadron so I am pretty familiar with Hall's activities and relations with Cochrane. I could give a generalise response to your question here, but would prefer to go back to my notes to get the detail right. I'll respond in a day or two.

While I am at it, is there anything else you would specifically like to know?

Brian Vale


Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:48 am
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Post Cochrane, Hall and S America
Susan!

Up to 1817, the liberation of southern S America was dominated by land campaigns. With the fall of Chile, the target became the Spanish stronghold of Peru which could only be invaded by sea. Hence the creation of the Chilean Navy and the appointment of Cochrane.

The Chilean maritime strategy was to blockade Peru. This involved the interception of merchant ships carrying enemy cargoes and munitions trading with the enemy. The major trading power was Britain, so major targets for Cochrane and his (British) officers and men were British merchant ships. This brought them into conflict with RN ships whose job was to protect this commerce and make sure international law vis-a-vis blockades was observed. However since Britain was sympathatic to the revolutionaries and had large commercial interests, captains were ordered to deal with TC with kid gloves.

A basic rule was that a blockade was only legitimate if the blockaders had the power to enforce it. Unfortunately, the Chileans had declared a blockade of 1000 miles of coastline. The British argued that it was impossible for them to do this and so regarded the blockade as illegal.

Hall in HMS Conway was off Peru during 1821 and had contact with TC during this period. here was not however very much. The RN deployed between 2 and 4 ships in the Pacific (the number varying * to the urgency of the situation) and, as Conway was one of the smaller vessels, he was normally outranked by a more senior officer who did all the negotiations. Peru was in desperate straits by this time, and the British were unpopular. They were thought to be secretly supporting the revolutionaries and it was known that most of TC's officers and men were British. This caused difficulties for Hall and his colleagues, indeed in February, 2 officers from Conway were arrested in Peru and accused of being TC's men! It took months to get them released. As a result, British officers were forbidden to go ashore or hob-nob with the British officers serving Chile (many of which they knew and had previously fought with)

Incidentally, 2 of Hall's Masters Mates - that is senior and elderly midshipmen - resigned in S America and jojned the local forces. They were William Eyre and Benjamin Haydon. Both ended up as Commodores in the Brazilian Navy.

What correspondence Hall had with Cochrane (there was little for reasons I explained above) was generally brief, courteous and constituted little more than a formal protest at the detenton of merchant ships. Though cordial (Hall was an admirer of Cochane unlike Capt Searle of Hyperion who quarrelled so violently with him that he had to be recalled) Hall had to maintain neutraluty and a distance. The c-in-c, Sir Thomas Hardy was left to make more vigorous protests.

In June, Hall reported the destruction of the port of Arica by TC, and his detention of 4 British ships. He protested to TC about 2 of them in July. He also was horrifed to learn that TC was employing a new tactic - namely releasing the alleged blockade runners on payment of a ransom of 18 % of their cargoes. He reported this to Hardy but obviously said nothing to TC.. This ransoming was illegal and horrified both Hardy and the Chilean government. It also helped to gain TC his local nickname which was not (a TC claimed and his admirers repeated) ''El Diablo' the Devil, but 'El Metalico Lorde', roughly translated as 'the Marques of Money'!

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Brian Vale


Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:23 pm
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Brian Vale wrote:
'Cochrane in the Pacific' and 'A Frigate of King George' both feature the RN S America Squadron so I am pretty familiar with Hall's activities and relations with Cochrane. I could give a generalise response to your question here, but would prefer to go back to my notes to get the detail right. I'll respond in a day or two.

While I am at it, is there anything else you would specifically like to know?


Brian, in 'Cochrane in the Pacific', you debunk the story about Cochrane plotting to rescue Napoleon from St Helena and to set him up as emperor of S America. Could you tell us more about the background of that story?

Don Seltzer


Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Cochrane, Hall and S America
Hi Brian,

Thank you for your compact summary of what was going on in the region while Hall was there. Although I have read his account, I admit I have trouble placing it in context, as I haven't done very much reading about the political situation in South America at the time.

Brian Vale wrote:
They were thought to be secretly supporting the revolutionaries and it was known that most of TC's officers and men were British. This caused difficulties for Hall and his colleagues, indeed in February, 2 officers from Conway were arrested in Peru and accused of being TC's men! It took months to get them released. As a result, British officers were forbidden to go ashore or hob-nob with the British officers serving Chile (many of which they knew and had previously fought with)

Yes. Hall was nearly mobbed himself, if I remember correctly, but was fortunate in that he had made friends among the people.

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(Hall was an admirer of Cochane unlike Capt Searle of Hyperion who quarrelled so violently with him that he had to be recalled) Hall had to maintain neutraluty and a distance.

I gathered that Hall had a positive view of Cochrane, due to what he wrote about him. That's why the bit about them being on bad terms puzzled me. I'm bogged down with work at the moment :( . I hope to have a bit of free time to look for the specific passage.

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Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:36 pm
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Post Re: Cochrane, Hall and S America
Susan

I am new to this site and seem to have missed the 'specific passage.' Can you tell/remind me what it is?

Brian Vale


Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:19 pm
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Hi Brian,

It's the passage about the relationship between Cochrane and Hall. Silly me...I didn't write down which book it was in...so I will have to hunt for it. I think it was by a contemporary (but non-naval person).

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Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:30 pm
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Aha! Google is my friend!

The passage I was thinking of is related to Arica. It's from Vol. II of Travels in Chile and La Plata (1826) by John Miers.

"...the British agents, fearful of losing their commission, and of displeasing their principals at home, urged the British commodore to adopt hostile measures against the admiral of Chile. Captain Hall, of the Conway, was dispatched to Arica to precede Sir Thomas himself, and to demand explanation...The Conway had been some days in Arica when Lord Cochrane returned in the San Martin from reconnoitring the adjacent coast, and anchored his ship close to the Conway. An order was given by captain Hall to avoid any communication between his officers and crew and those of the patriot man of war. This was at least offensive, as the officers and men of both ships had hitherto treated one another with all possible cordiality, and the best harmony reigned among them. An angry correspondence now took place between captain Hall and Lord Cochrane, in which the latter, well versed in the law of nations, in the practice of the British service, and conscious, moreover, that the eyes of the world were directed towards him, showed the charges raised against him to be frivolous and untrue..."

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Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:29 pm
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