These services—undertaken solely on my own responsibility—were productive of the most beneficial consequences to the future career of the Brazilian Empire, the integrity of which they secured at a blow, or it may rather be said, without a blow, for none of any magnitude was struck; the dread of the fireships and the certainty arising—from the nocturnal visit of the flagship on the 12th of June, that my plans for making use of them were completed—having determined the Portuguese Admiral to save his fleet by evacuating Bahia.
CAPTURE OF THE DON MIGUEL—SUMMONS TO THE AUTHORITIES—REASONS FOR THREATS HELD OUT—PROPOSALS FOR CAPITULATION—PROCLAMATIONS—TERMS GRANTED TO PORTUGUESE GARRISON—DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE—PORTUGUESE TROOPS ORDERED TO EMBARK—SYMPTOMS OF DISOBEYING THE ORDER—DELIGHT OF THE PEOPLE ON BECOMING FREE—ELECTION OF A PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT—LETTERS TO THE MINISTER OF MARINE.
On the 26th of July, the Pedro Primiero arrived in the river Maranhao, and—knowing from the Portuguese admiral’s instructions found in the troopships overhauled in the chase, that reinforcements were expected—we hoisted Portuguese colours, with a view of inducing a belief that the flagship belonged to that nation, and had arrived in support of its cause. The authorities, deceived by this ruse, sent off a brig of war—the Don Miguel, Captain Garcao—with despatches and congratulations upon our safe arrival! but the commander of the brig was disagreeably undeceived by finding himself upon the deck of a Brazilian ship. The despatches put me in possession of the enemy’s plans and intentions, and from them I learned that some reinforcements had already reached, independent of those which had been intercepted in the recent chase; thus shewing the great importance attached by Portugal to the preservation of the wealthy and influential province of Maranham.
To the surprise of Captain Garcao—now a prisoner of war—I offered to release him and his vessel on condition of his carrying sealed letters to the Governor and Junta in the city—a proposition gladly accepted. Previous to his departure—by a fiction held justifiable in war, and, indeed, necessary under our peculiar circumstances, as having only a single ship to reduce a province—he was duly impressed by the relation of an imaginary number of vessels of war in the offing, accompanied by transports filled with troops, which the superior sailing of the flagship had enabled her to outstrip. Captain Garcao being a seaman and well able to judge as to the sailing qualities of the Pedro Primiero, was easily impressed with this story, and returned to the city with intelligence of an irresistible force about to disembark for its reduction.
My letters to the Governor and Junta were to the same effect; for—as before noticed—having only a single ship, it was necessary to impress on their imagination—that a fleet and army were at hand to add the province to Brazil. As this is the only instance within my knowledge of a military force surrendering itself and the province which it defended, to a stratagem of this nature, I shall append the documents by which a result so desirable was effected.