Biography of Miguel Grau Seminario (1834-1879)

Maximum Hero of the Peruvian Navy and Deputy civil law. Commander of the monitor Huáscar and Chief of the naval squadron, died in the battle of Angamos in October 1879 as part of the war with Chile.

miguel Grau came into the world in Piura, in the House of the family formed by Juan Manuel Grau Berrío, criollo de Cartagena de Indias who came to Peru with the campaigns of independence, and Luisa seminar of the Castillo, of deep piurana lineage. The House was on the Mercaderes Street, then called Tacna; He was born on July 27, 1834. The father of Miguel nationalized Peruvian and settled in Piura, where he obtained the office of "View" of the customs of Paita, acceptably paid. He died in 1865, when the future hero of Angamos was 31 years old.

Grau childhood spent between the oasis of the Sechura desert, which was the small town of Piura, and the pier of the port of Paita, principal of the North coast of the country, where was born their vocation by marine life. Before reaching the age of ten, he embarked on a schooner to Panama owned by a friend of the family. The boat had problems, was about to capsize and returned to port. This home was not discouraged it.

A few years later he managed to reach Panama, the gateway to the Atlantic, when there was still the railway which crossed the isthmus and had to make the crossing on the back of a mule. He traveled to ports as far away as San Francisco, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Macao, Bordeaux, among others. When it came to Lima in 1853 (or perhaps earlier) was all a man of sea.

His education was irregular because of so many trips, but the following year joined the Navy, where the complete and perfect navigation and war issues. He was midshipman of steam Rimac, the steamer (both sail and steam ship) watchman, River steamer Ucayali, which explored the Amazon. In 1856 he obtained the degree of frigate Alférez.

The following year, Grau was involved in politics to join the revolution of Vivanco against the liberal Constitution of 1856 sworn by Castile. Bad bet was this first foray for the piurano marine. The defeat of Vivanco caused their separation from the Navy. For several years Grau had to work in the Merchant Navy. María Cristina, on route to the East was the Commander of the ship. Is account (black note in a bright path in everything else) who participated in the infamous trade of the natives of Easter Island for work in the guano Islands. In 1862 he took advantage of an amnesty and returned to the Navy of war.

It was featured at the ship Lerzundi with the rank of second lieutenant. In 1864, he traveled to Europe in the mission commanded by Aurelio García and García for the purchase of warships. He returned as Commander of the "Union", and was imprisoned in London for alleged misconduct to the British rules of enrollment. They were only two days, after which undertook the return with the newly acquired boat to Callao.

It was the year 1865; in March he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander by the Government of Pezet, and frigate captain in July by the of Diez Canseco. The debate on the Vivanco-Pareja Treaty had on spirits and used as a pretext to make more than one revolutionary launched the struggle for power. Grau stopped with the Union Corvette in Valparaíso; as head of a brand-new and therefore important ship was to take a position. He had been with Vivanco that launched the policy in the now distant 1857; but support the Treaty meant to ignore public opinion. His father, who died that same year, overtook him in Valparaíso to commit its support to the regime of Pezet.

Public opinion considered outrageous the Treaty, since that had been negotiated when the guano Islands were still occupied by the Spanish Squadron, and also repair the national flag not be had stipulated in the Treaty itself, but only in the 'Protocol', not keeping the same status. At the ceremony on 2 February the Peruvian and Spanish flags had been greeted at the same time, when Peruvians demanded that the Peruvian, Liam first since it corresponded to the offended nation. The Peru also acknowledged debt to the Spanish Treasury prior to independence.

Those who defended the Treaty argued pragmatic reasons for early unemployment of Brazilian deposits; opponents made the issue of flags literally his "flag" of fighting. Grau eventually joined the condemnation of the Treaty. He participated in the battle of Abtao on February 7, 1866 against the Spanish forces, together with the Chilean Squad, which included Arturo Prat, with whom he would return to fight in the war of 79.

In 1866 he suffered a new brief prison, by joining the rejection to the issue that the U.S. seafarer John Tucker would make the Philippines commanded by a Peruvian squad. Grau and other Peruvian sailors considered it could not put the fence under foreign command.

luis Benjamín Cisneros managed to get him out of prison. Grau returned to civilian life, taking the command of the steam "fist" of the English company of vapors. Took also the responsibility of marriage. He was 33 years old when he stood up the veil of Dolores Cavero Núñez the Sagrario de la Catedral de Lima. Until 1879 they procreated ten children, mostly boys. Witnessed their wedding the "ACEs" of the National Navy: Aurelio García, Manuel Ferreyros and Lizardo Montero.

Grau returned in 1868 to the Navy as a commander of the monitor "Huáscar". He was promoted to captain of the ship, but the charge would be effective in April of 1873. At that time the military distinguished between ranges "graduate" and "effective" (when it was square). He was in command of the monitor when exploded the rebellion of the colonels Gutiérrez. On behalf of the Navy he spoke out against the coup attempt; the National Navy proclaimed not recognized "other caudillo that the Constitution". This pronouncement was key to break the movement.

In 1874, fulfilling orders of the Brown Government, captured the "Talisman", ship where traveling the insurgents pierolistas with her boss to head. In 1876 he joined the National Congress as a member of the Civil Party by the Paita province; in spite of this, in 1877 he was again in command of the Huascar, supporting PIÉROLA uprising against the Government of Prado, occasion in which was pursued by British ships. A strange shift insufficiently investigated by his biographers.

The rebellion of Pierola was defeated, but Grau was not punished for his conduct. Far from it, he was given the post of General Commander of the Navy. In April 1879 began the war with Chile. Grau was commander of the monitor Huáscar, one of the three ships of this type that had our Navy. Also had the frigate "Independence", the Union Corvette, the gunboat Pilcomayo and four transports, one of them the Talisman. The Chilean fleet had two modern battleships, each of whom tripling the tonnage of monitors, five corvettes (some, however, quite old), a gunboat and ten transports.

The first stage of the saltpeter war was occupied by the naval campaign. The Peruvian squad came out to the South and the Chilean in the opposite direction, towards Callao; they crossed without being on the high seas, allowing the first to surprise two Chilean ships (the Corvette Esmeralda and Covadonga gunship), blocking that Peruvian port in Iquique. On 21 May the Huascar and the independence, more powerful ships, attacked enemy ships. The Covadonga, taking advantage of its lightness fled stuck to the coast, where the Peruvian frigate could not approach without danger of colliding with the sea bottom; Emerald failed to escape and was attacked by Grau. The Chilean Corvette won the beach line, so the Huáscar could not use artillery since it will damage the port. Grau decided to use RAM, then as in the old fighting in the time of the Romans. The Esmeralda was a boat of wood from the time of independence and break before the first espolonazo.

The first two attempts were not successful by the operations commander of the Esmeralda, Arturo Prat, ordered. The third gave full speed of ten nautical miles, almost the maximum of the monitor, in the Centre of the Corvette, that immediately began to sink. The Peruvian Commander ordered to pick up the castaways; remembered the cry of the Chilean Uribe: "Long live the generous Peru". Unfortunately, independence, under the command of Commander Moore, did not have the same fate. In the heat of the chase on the small Covadonga, it collided with an underwater rock and was scuttled.

History has rescued the letter Grau sent to the widow of the Commander of the Esmeralda, Arturo Prat, with the ill-fated marine clothing, and her response: "[...] I have the awareness that the distinguished head, braving the fury of ignoble passions, overexcited war today has a value, when even beat memories of Iquique, associated with my grief and put very high name and the conduct of my husband in that day, and has even rarer value of rid of a valuable trophyputting in my hands a sword that has gained an extraordinary price by the fact of not having been ever rendered; a similar head, a noble heart, has would have, I'm sure, lodged, to have been able, between the killer and his victim, and it would have saved a sacrifice so sterile to their homeland how disastrous for my heart."

The Huáscar made a number of surprising actions against a so powerful as the Chilean squad in the following months. It took transports enemies, it seized coal of Chilean ports and were constantly to Chilean vessels roamed the coast looking for. The Congress amounted to Grau to Rear Admiral grade on August 26, 1879.

The first October 1879 the Huáscar left the port of Iquique, where the transport Rimac had landed troops under its protection, in what was his last departure. He apprehended a goleta South of Huasco and was on the coast of Coquimbo, Chile, day five. The Chilean Navy had changed control panel and ordered his fleet into two divisions to hunt the famous monitor. His plan succeeded on October 8 when they discovered the Huascar at sea, opposite Punta Angamos, accompanied by the Union, in Journey North.

At dawn on Friday, October 8 the lookouts of the Huascar had spotted three smoke about ten miles away. There was hope that they were transport, but its speed fatally indicated otherwise; by Northeast you saw three more smoke. They were fenced. It was 9.40 in the morning; Grau ordered the Union removed to distract enemy, fleet what was accomplished in part because two Chilean corvettes came out in its pursuit. The Union was quicker and managed to escape; the Huáscar was instead addressed by Cochrane, who managed to pierce the shield on the helmet and the control tower with its cannons. The glorious Commander Grau died sloughed. The command passed to Elías Aguirre, who also died. Turn corresponded to the first lieutenant Melitón Rodríguez. Also dropped him, he touched the command to Lieutenant Pedro Garezón, who briefly spoke with three officers who left alive and ordered to sink the ship because it was already frozen.

Machinists opened valves, but machinery malfunctions paralyzed dip, giving time to that reached the enemy ships, addressed the monitor and halt its sinking. The Peruvian crew was incapacitated prevent them because they lacked useful weapons at that time. The Peruvian flag remained on the mast at all times. Official four survivors refused to leave the boat until the remains of the Admiral is not found. Finally a part of the right leg, foot on the same side, a part of the skull and some teeth were found.

The remains of Grau stayed in Chile, in the mausoleum of the family Viel in Valparaiso, until 1890, when they were repatriated. They were first deposited in the mausoleum of Ramón Castilla in the Presbitero Maestro cemetery. In 1908, they found their final destination in the crypt for the Heroes of the war of the Pacific which built President José Pardo. In 1946 opened the monument and square that bear his name. With the passing of the years Grau, thanks to the work of intellectuals like González Prada, José Gálvez and Jorge Basadre, among many others, became the greatest national heroes figure and symbol of national sacrifice in the war of 79.