Revolta da Armada

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Brazilian Naval Revolt
Part of Federalist Revolution
A Brazilian battery at Rio de Janeiro in 1894.
Date 1893-1894
Location Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Result Government victory

Brazil First Brazilian Republic

Empire of Brazil Navy Rebel
Commanders and leaders
Brazil Floriano Peixoto
Brazil Hermes da Fonseca
Brazil Antônio César
Brazil José Jardim
Empire of Brazil Custódio de Melo
Empire of Brazil Saldanha Da Gama
Loyalist Fleet (during the Battle of Guanabara bay):
2 cruisers
1 torpedo-boat destroyer
6 torpedo boats
2 monitors
4 auxiliary cruisers
2 gunboats
Imperialist mutineers (during the Battle of Guanabara bay):
1 fort
2 coastal battleships
4 cruisers
1 monitor
1 gunboat
7 torpedo boats
9 auxiliary cruisers[1]
Casualties and losses
approximately 10,000 deaths (between rebels, loyalist and civilians)

The Brazilian Naval Revolts, or the Revoltas da Armada (in Portuguese), were armed mutinies promoted mainly by Admirals Custódio José de Melo and Saldanha Da Gama and their fleet of Brazilian Navy ships against the unconstitutional staying in power of the central government in Rio de Janeiro.

First revolt[edit]

Brazilian Army fortification, 1894

In November 1891, President Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, amid a political crisis compounded by the effects of an economic crisis, in flagrant violation of the new constitution, decided to "solve" the political crisis by ordering the closure of Congress, supported mainly by Paulista oligarchy. The Navy, still resented by circumstances and outcomes of the coup that had put an end to the monarchy in Brazil,[2] under the leadership of Admiral Custódio José de Melo, rose up and threatened to bombard the town of Rio de Janeiro, then capital of the Republic. To avoid a civil war, Marshal Deodoro resigned the presidency in November 23.[3] With the resignation of Deodoro, after just nine months from the beginning of his administration, the vice president, Floriano Peixoto, took office (1892). The 1891 Constitution, however, provided for a new election if the presidency or vice-presidency became vacant sooner than two years in office. The opposition then accused Floriano of staying as head of the nation illegally.

Second revolt[edit]

The second revolt started in March 1892, when thirteen generals sent a letter and manifesto to the President Marshal Floriano Peixoto. This document demanded new elections be called to fulfill the constitutional provision and ensure internal tranquility in the nation. Floriano harshly suppressed the movement, ordering the arrest of their leaders. Thus, not legally solved, the political tensions increased. The revolt broke out in September 1893 at Rio de Janeiro, and was suppressed only in March 1894 after a long blockade of the city.

Details of conflict[edit]

With many of the Brazilian Navy's most powerful ships either in the hands of the rebels or under repair, the Brazilian government had to improvise a new fleet to battle the rebel fleet. The "cardboard squadron" had to face off against a mutiny that had overtaken most of the powerful ships of the original navy. Local bloody conflicts in some regions of Brazil ensued. The navy's mutiny off Rio de Janeiro (Guanabara Bay) also was a challenge, and became linked to the Federalist Rebellion.

The revolt included the powerful battleship Aquidaban and a collection of small ironclads, modern cruisers and older wood 'cruiser' or steam frigate type ships. Two of the navy's major ships were overseas and supposedly away from the conflict: the battleship Riachuelo was under repairs in France, and the corvette Barrozo was on a round-the world training voyage (during which she sank). This did not leave the government with much left to challenge the mutineers, who could have controlled the seas and influenced the concurrent conflicts on land. The government basically bought itself a new naval force on the open markets, of small and sometimes unusual ships including torpedo gunboats, various medium and small torpedo boats, small armed yachts, and a transport converted to carry a Zalinsky "dynamite gun" (a pneumatic gun launching a dynamite charge of massive explosive force and marginal accuracy). Such improvised stocking up was common at that time: the US pressed a similar mix of ships into action to supplement its fleet in the 1898 war with Spain (or to buy them before Spain could), and Japan also scrambled to purchase available ships for its conflict with Russia in 1904-5. In this case, however, the new fleet was dedicated to confronting the original navy of the same country.[4]

Battle of Governador Island[edit]

It occurred the banks of the river Juquiá, the island's governor. 300 army soldiers under command of General Jão Batista da Silva attacked the naval detachment on site defended by 120 Marines and sailors rebels.

The battle ended three days later with the victory of the army troops and a high number of casualties on both sides, forcing the withdrawal of the rebels.

Battle of Armação/Niterói[edit]

Army soldiers fight the melee with rebellious sailors in the Battle of Armação, in Niterói (9 February 1894).

In February 9, 1894 requiring foothold on land, the rebel sailors decide the occupation of the city of Niterói. At Conception Island, Admiral Saldanha Da Gama formed four attack columns, with about 430 men to take the pro-government trenches at Ponta da Armação. To provide fire support that attack the ships: Liberdade, Aquidabã, Tamanbaré and Jupiter. The aerial was garrisoned by about 3,000 loyalist soldiers, troops from the Army and Police.

At 3pm naval artillery opened fire, followed by Marines and sailors landing. Initially fortification points and trenches government were conquered, guns were found with pieces firing at close range, the loyalist fortress of Gragoatá responded to fire from rebel ships. At dawn the day the rebels had won each Ponta da Armação and advancing towards the center of the city of Niteroi a bloody close combat occurred, numerous legalistic infantry soon forced the rebels to retreat. At 9am the beachhead conquered by the rebels showed itself untenable, forcing a complete withdrawal 11am.

The battle lasted about 8 hours, it ended with the legalistic victory, the losses were estimated at 250 rebel sailors and 700 soldiers loyalists.

Battle of Magé[edit]

Magé city situated inside the Guanabara bay, serving as a point of provisions for the rebel ships.

On February 22, 1894 an Army infantry battalion and a detachment of the police force was commanded by Colonel Goldophin were sent to the city to drive out the rebels. The town was defended by just over 50 rebel sailors with two artillery pieces, after a quick battle the leglistas forces retook the city with most of the rebel force put on the run.

Naval Battle of Anhatomirim[edit]

For six months, the city of Desterro, capital of Santa Catarina, was the seat of the independent republic, formed by the union of revolutionary federalists of the three southern states of the country with the military rebels also the Brazilian Navy. After the defeat, Exile was renamed Florianópolis - named after Floriano - and dozens of rebels would be persecuted, arrested and summarily executed, in one of the bloodiest chapters in Brazilian history.

Battleship Aquidabã in Guanabara bay

The decisive episode to the end of the revolt was the naval battle fought in the early hours of that April 16, among a fleet of 11 vessels loyalists and the dreaded battleship Aquidaban. Leader of the Revolt of the Armada, as it was then called the Navy of Brazil, that vessel represented the last link of resistance against the government of Floriano. It was after 11 pm when the loyalist fleet bombarded the fortress of Santa Cruz de Anhatomirim, north of the city of Desterro.

At anchor just south of Fortaleza, the Battleship Aquidaban prepared for combat. At two-thirty in the morning, the hunting Destroyer Gustavo Sampaio and three vessels of the legal fleet initiated the attack maneuvers. The battleship only became aware of the enemy torpedo as a distinguished figure at the bow, just over 200 meters. To recognize them, the Aquidaban opened fire with his powerful cannons and machine guns. However, due to the proximity of the enemy, the shots of the guns went high, missing the target and the firing of machine guns caused only a slight wound on one of his opponents. Legalistic boats retaliated the attack launching three torpedoes, however, also missed the target. Seeing fail shots, Gustavo Sampaio came around the stern of the opponent, launching a fourth torpedo, this time reaching a surefire way the bow of Aquidaban. The impact of the torpedo was quite strong, flooding the compartments of the bow. The Aquidaban tried to take to the open sea, but had to return to more shallow place where he could rest the hull in the background.

The commander and all his crew soon abandoned the damaged vessel, seeking shelter and retreat to the ground. The use of torpedoes in a naval battle had only happened on two other occasions, being the first one in Brazilian military history.

Rebel battleship Aquidaban bombarding the forts of Rio de Janeiro (drawing of Fouqueray, according to a photography, published in Le Monde Illustré, nº 1.916, 1893.).

That morning of April 16, 1894, the Aquidaban the best ship of the Brazilian Navy, was going to sink and with it the Federalist Revolution and the Revolt of the Armada in Santa Catarina. Once in Exile learned of the result of the contest, members of the revolutionary government installed in Santa Catarina island fled to the mainland. On 19 April, come to town Colonel Antonio Moreira Cesar, promoting a bloody "reckoning" with the defeated rebels.

Vessels Rebel Fleet[edit]

Rebel Light Cruiser Pereira da Cunha
  • Battleship Aquidabã (It foundered after being torpedoed during the Battle of Anhatomirim. April 16, 1894 - It was subsequently recovered)
  • Battleship Almirante Tamandaré
  • Ironclad Sete de Setembro (sank during the battle of Ponta da Armação in Niterói. February 9, 1894)
  • Cruiser Republica
  • Cruiser Trajano
  • Light Cruiser Esperança
  • Light Cruiser Pereira da Cunha (sank after attack coastal artillery fire in Battle of Guanabara Bay. February 23, 1894)
  • Light Cruiser Jupiter
  • Ligth Cruiser Urano (stranded on the Ilha Grande after heavy damage. October 14, 1893)
  • Fragata Amazonas (sank after running aground in Battle of Guanabara Bay. Fedruary, 1893)
  • Gunboat Marajó (sank during the battle of Ponta da Armação in Niterói. February 9, 1894)
  • Torpedo-boat Araguari
  • Torpedo-boat Iguatemi
  • Torpedo-boat Marcílio Dias
  • Monitor Jatai (sank during battle with coastal fortresses São João in Battle of Guanabara Bay. September 23, 1893)
  • Transport ship Madeira (sank victim of coastal artillery during the Battle of Guanabara Bay. November, 1893)

Vessels Loyalist Fleet[edit]

Loyalist torpedo-boat destroyer Gustavo Sampaio
  • Destroyer Gustavo Sampaio
  • Ironclad Alagoas
  • Ironclad Solimões (sank for unknown reasons. March, 1894)
  • Cruiser Tiradentes
  • Cruiser Andrada
  • Cruiser Parnaíba
  • Light Cruiser Niteróy
  • Gunboat Piratini
  • Gunboat Pedro Afonso
  • Torpedo-boat Bento Gonçalves (sank by human error in the brazilian northeast. December, 1893)
  • Torpedo-boat Silva Jardim
  • Torpedo-boat Silvado
  • Torpedo-boat Pedro Ivo
  • Torpedo-boat Sabino Vieira
  • Transport ship São Salvador
  • Transport ship Santos
  • Transport ship Itaipu

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brassey, Thomas Allnutt "The Naval Annual; 1894" Elibron Classics/Adamant Media Corporation 2006, Chapter XI "The Naval Revolt in Brazil"
  2. ^ Smallman; Shall C. Fear & Memory in the Brazilian Army & Society, 1889–1954 The University of North Carolina Press 2002 ISBN 0807853593 Page 20 2nd paragraph
  3. ^ Joseph Smith; Brazil and the United States: Convergence and Divergence University of Georgia Press 2010, page 38, 2nd paragraph
  4. ^