chapter  XI
26 Pages

THE TAKING OF BUENOS AIRES BY THE ENGLISH

Giving testimony at the trial of Popham, Mr. H uskisson said:

"Mr. Pitt stated to me generally, as he had frequently stated before, the views he entertained with respect to South America; that he conceived it a most essential object for this country to use its naval superiority, and the facility that superiority afforded in extensive operations against South America, in case we should be obliged to continue the war, as he apprehended we should if the success of the confederacy then forming on the continent did not correspond with his wishes on that subject; that he thought his plan of operations most essential not only to the interests of this country separately considered, but also with a view to prevent the French themselves from doing that which he did not doubt they would do in case of any neglect, namely, getting possession of the princi-

pal positions and revenues to that extensive empire; that he therefore gave general credit to the person who furnished that plan and the information but hoped we should be beforehand with the enemy, as our naval means were so much superior to theirs." 1

"I beg leave to represent to you, that I have been three times to Buenos Aires and Montevideo; that both places have the greatest abundance of wheat, flour, and indeed every sort of provision. From my knowledge of the minds and dispositions of the inhabitants, I can assure you that his Majesty's squadron, under your command, would, with ease, take possession of either of those places; and if permanent possession could be effected, there is not the slightest doubt of procuring any quantity of flour; and to prove to you that it is not an idle sug-

gestion to mislead the British, I could have no objection to be one of five hundred men to attack either place. I am sure the inhabitants are so ridden by their government, that to prevent a shot being fired at Montevideo, if they had any threat from the men of war, they would send out any quantity of flour or buscuit, to prevent mischief; but the places may be taken as I describe; and if the trade is thrown open, all the inhabitants would willingly acquire and keep the place for the British nation without troops, which would be a mine of wealth; I hope you will not make mention of my name improperly, as it may injure me greatly. I myself, with my ship Elizabeth, are at your service to do what you please to get possession of Buenos Aires." 1

"On the 8th of June we anchored near the island of Flores; and, after passing Montevideo the following day, we detained a Portuguese schooner, by whom the intelligence we had formerly received was generally confirmed. On the I Ith we fell in with the Encounter

and Ocean transport, 1 near the south coast of the river; and on the thirteenth we joined the squadron.