Battle of Punta Malpelo

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Battle of Punta Malpelo
Part of Gran Colombia–Peru War
Combat de Malpelo..jpg
A painting depicting the naval battle of Malpelo, from the pictoric collection of the Peruvian Naval Museum
Date August 31, 1828
Location Punta Malpelo, near Guayaquil
Result Peruvian victory
Belligerents
 Gran Colombia  Peru
Commanders and leaders
Gran Colombia Thomas Charles Wright Peru Carlos García del Postigo
Strength
1 schooner
1 corvette
1 corvette
Casualties and losses
25 dead, 36 injured 15 dead, 28 injured

The battle of Punta Malpelo was a naval encounter between a Peruvian corvette and two Gran Colombian vessels on August 31, 1828, near the port of Guayaquil, and was the first major combat of the Peruvian Navy as an independent force of the newborn Peruvian nation.

Background[edit]

In June 1828, Gran Colombia declared a state of war on Peru under allegations that it had fomented a rebellion against Colombian forces in Bolivia. Its leader, Simon Bolivar, also demanded the payment of several million Pesos for the debt of the war of independence, and the cession of the northern provinces of Jaén and Maynas. The consequent Peruvian declaration of war against Gran Colombia occurred on July 3, 1828 when the Peruvian Government, under President Jose de La Mar, ordered a mobilization of its ground and naval forces.

The encounter[edit]

On July 2, 1828, the Peruvian corvette Libertad armed with 24 guns and a crew of 124 men under the Captain Carlos Garcia del Postigo (a Chilean-born officer under the service of the Peruvian Navy), sailed towards Guayaquil with orders to cross the Gulf and guard the entrance to the Guayaquil River. On August 31, 1828, the Peruvian vessel was intercepted by two Gran-Colombian warships, the schooner Guayaquileña and the corvette Pichincha, commanded by Irish-born Captain Thomas C. Wright. Captain Wright, aboard the Guayaquileña, inquired to the commander of Libertad about his activities in Gran-Colombian waters, but suddenly the Peruvian corvette opened fire, starting a close-quarter artillery duel, during which the Peruvians almost boarded the Guayaquileña, meanwhile, the Pichincha stayed away and didn't participate in the combat. At the peak of the struggle, the Gran-Colombians ships suddenly retreated towards Guayaquil and were pursued closely by the Libertad. The pursuit ceased when the Libertad was forced to return to tend the wounded and bury the dead. The Peruvians lost 15 men and 28 were injured, while the Gran-Colombians had 24 dead and 36 injured.

The ships involved[edit]

The Libertad was a corvette named General Brown purchased from Chile in January, 1826 for 25 thousand pesos under the name General Salom, and started its service as a transport vessel for the Peruvian Navy, and on March 6, 1827 was finally named Libertad. On January 8, 1828, the Commander-in-Chief of the Peruvian Navy, Rear Admiral José Pascual de Vivero, established a budget of 7,354 pesos to convert the Libertad into a warship, initially armed with 22 12-pounder guns taken from the corvette Limeña. On May 14, 1828 the Chilean officer Carlos García del Postigo Búlnes was assigned as commander of the vessel.

The schooner Guayaquileña was armed with twelve 12-pounder guns, and was under the command of Lieutenant Claudio Johnston. Among the officers on board were two future-Ecuadorian presidents, the ensign José María Urvina and midshipman Francisco Robles. The Pichincha was under the command of Captain Archibald Taylor.

Aftermath[edit]

After this encounter the Peruvian Navy, composed at that time of 16 warships and transports, among them the frigate Presidente and the mentioned corvette Libertad, started a naval blockade ordered by the Peruvian Government on September 19, 1828, of the entire Gran Colombian Pacific coasts. This was from Machala (Ecuador) to Panama. Thanks to this action the Gran Colombian Navy was unable to use its main ports in the Pacific.

Sources[edit]

Coordinates: 3°30′02″S 80°29′31″W / 3.5005°S 80.4920°W / -3.5005; -80.4920