In 1862, the Spanish Government ordered the sending of a Scientific Commission to America on board ships of its fleet, an action that was within the guidelines of foreign policy, aimed at regaining its prestige as a power of world order, strengthen its presence and influence over its former American possessions, establishing greater commercial and economic ties, as well as counteracting the growing interest of the United States. about Cuba and Puerto Rico.
However, the sending of said commission occurred in circumstances that had occurred the European intervention in Mexico and Santo Domingo, actions that brought with it the rejection of the American nations.
It should be noted that by that time, Peru and Spain had not yet established full diplomatic relations, and they were maintained only at a consular level in both countries.
The Spanish fleet, carrying the Scientific Commission on board, began its journey through several South American ports in October 1862, arriving in Callao in July of the following year, where a series of protocol activities were carried out normally.
However, on August 4, 1863, a few days after completing the visit of the squadron to the port of Callao, an incident occurred that led to the death of a Spanish settler in the hacienda of Talambo. This would be cause and pretext for the unfortunate intervention of the Spanish diplomat Eusebio Salazar and Mazarredo, who, hiding the instructions received from his government, incited Brigadier Luis Hernández Pinzón, commanding the Spanish squadron, to capture on April 14, 1864 the Chincha islands, main guano producer center of Peru, action carried out in retaliation against the Peruvian Government for not having satisfactorily resolved the events of Talambo.
Given these facts, the Peruvian government, by then under the presidency of General Pezet, sought at all times a diplomatic solution to the impasse, also considering that the country did not have the military and naval means to confront a naval force as the Spanish. For this reason, the government of General Pezet had sent to Europe several commissions with the order to acquire armament and ships of modern design, under a strategic concept very similar to that used by the main powers of the time: large coastal defense artillery. caliber for the ports, armored ships to face a squadron, and corvettes to attack the lines of maritime communications and enemy rearguard.
However, time passed, the islands were not restored to our sovereignty and the conflict became more acute. The government of Peru, under the pressure of an ultimatum, represented by its commissioner General Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco, signed a treaty on January 27, 1865 with the Spanish Admiral José Manuel Pareja, who had replaced Pinzón in command of the fleet, a concession that was unacceptable under any point of view.
The situation was aggravated by the repudiation of the treaty by public opinion and on February 28, 1865 a revolution broke out in Arequipa led by the Prefect Colonel Mariano Ignacio Prado, who ruled against what was agreed with Spain, establishing a government of national restoration, achieving absolute power in November 1865.
While this was happening in Peru, the action of the Spanish squadron spread to Chile, a country that also produced a series of diplomatic incidents that led to an ultimatum to the Chilean government, which received a declaration of war in September. 1865
To the extent that at that time Chile did not have the necessary naval means to face the enemy squadron, it sought support in Peru, so on December 5 both countries signed a defensive alliance to face the Spanish aggression .
Finally, Peru declared war on Spain on January 14, 1866, and since Peruvian armored vehicles Huáscar and Independencia, uniquely capable of successfully confronting the Spanish fleet, were still under construction, the convenience of sending our four main ships to the south of Chile, where they had to await the arrival of the new armored vehicles to act together against the enemy force.
The Peruvian Naval Division, commanded by captain Manuel Villar Olivera, was composed of the frigates Amazonas and Apurimac and the American and Union corvettes just arrived from France, ships that arrived at the Challahué estuary, in front of the island of Abtao on the 16th. of January, place chosen as apostadero of the square integrated by the Peruvian ships and the Chilean ships Esmeralda and Covadonga. Unfortunately, the Amazon would be lost as a result of having run aground on some lowlands when entering Challahué; however, his artillery would be used as a ground defense.
Then, with the intention of searching and intercepting the allied Peruvian-Chilean fleet, the Spaniards ordered the dispatch of a division formed by the frigates Villa Madrid and Blanca, which sailed from Valparaíso on January 21, heading first to the island of Juan Fernández, continuing his search in Chiloé, Puerto Low and the channels of Calbuco, where they met with the Maipú steamer, whose crew gave him the news of the position of the Allied squadron.
Finally, on the afternoon of February 7, 1866, the Spanish ships found the Allied squadron anchored off the island of Abtao. On the occasion, in the absence of its commanding general, Chilean ship captain Juan Williams Rebolledo, the command of this had assumed the Peruvian captain Manuel Villar.
In the presence of the Spanish ships, Villar, had arranged that the ships under his command were placed in an offensive position forming a column, covering the two entrances of the Challahue channel, to avoid any attempt to break the line by the enemy . The Spanish division had nothing left but to carry out the attack at a great distance, since the draft of their ships made them run the risk of running aground.
At 15:30 hours the combat began, when the Peruvian frigate Apurimac opened fire, being answered by Blanca. The bombing intensified on both sides, with the most accurate and far-reaching shots being those of the Peruvian corvettes América and Unión, thanks to the expertise of their gunners.
This duel at a distance was maintained for almost two hours without any of the ships suffering serious damage; Of the approximately 2,000 shots fired, the Allied squadron received 14 hits and the Spanish squadron 30. During the actions, the position adopted by the Allied squadron proved adequate, since, having been located in a shallow water channel, it limited the action of the Spanish ships, which could not take advantage of its greater artillery capacity.
At the end of the afternoon and taking into consideration the unfruitfulness of the attack, the enemy naval division chose to abandon the fight without having achieved its objectives, while the Allied Squad remained unscathed with what Abtao, was a strategic victory.
This brilliant naval action was recognized by the Chilean Commander Williams Rebolledo, who congratulated Villar with the following words "... This opportunity allows me to congratulate you and the Peruvian chiefs, officers and crews for the courage and serenity that you have shown during the two hours that the combat lasted, under a fire supported by both parts, and by the favorable result that has been obtained, which is due to the squadron of Peru ".
Another aspect that should be highlighted is that this action had as protagonists many of the sailors who would fight heroically against Chile thirteen years later, and at the time, it was an evident demonstration of the expertise of the allies, which thanks to his brave and successful actions, prevented the Spanish ships from achieving the objective of destroying the ships of the Allied squadron, and a prelude to the overwhelming rejection of the Spanish squadron that occurred in Callao waters on May 2 of the same year.
"Indeed, at 8 o'clock and 15 minutes, when the" Huáscar "was within reach of the Morro canyons, this battery ruptured its fires when it was located on this monitor at a distance of four thousand meters, much higher than the maximum range of our artillery, for that I was forced to wait for the enemy to approach to offend him from the anchorage in which this ship was obliged to remain because of the bad condition of one of its boilers ... "
(Official Battle part , written by the Cdr. José Sánchez Lagomarsino, commander of "Manco Cápac." monitor. Cited in Newsletter of the Pacific War 1879-1881, 1979, pp. 607).
After the glories reached from April to October 1879 by our Navy during the Pacific War, the Chilean Navy, with the aim of consolidating its maritime domain, conducted blockade operations to the main ports of our country, including Arica, which he executed since November 1879.
In February 1880, the blocking Chilean ships the port of Arica were the monitor "Huáscar", that after the battle of Angamos flying the Chilean flag, and the corvette "Magallanes". The first had anchored in that port on the 25th of that month, as a relay of the armored "Cochrane", which was to escort the troop transport vessels from Pisagua to Ilo where a landing operation was planned.
Upon the arrival of Bolivar to Peru, the National Congress granted dictatorial powers to the Liberator. Following Colonel Casariego's takeover of the Real Felipe premises, Bolivar ordered Admiral Guise to enter Callao with the squadron and take all the ships he could and those that should not, he should burn them down and put them to the ground.
Some ships that remained in the rada in the royalists hands and under the protection of the cannons of the Real Felipe were the frigates "Resolution", "Guayas" and "Santa Rosa", as well as the brigs "Balcarce" and " Moyano. "
Vice Admiral Guise, in compliance with Bolivar's orders and making use of his personal initiative, courageously resolved to set fire to the frigate "Guayas" which was the old "Venganza" in the night on February 24, 1824. Three boats, with 56 Men in charge of the commander of the flagship frigate "Protector", D. Robert Bisset Adison, executed the surprise to the realistic frigate "Guayas" that was captured and burned down by the staff of the schooner "Protector", accompanied by the "Congress" and the "Macedonia" while by action of the strong wind the realistic frigate "Santa Rosa" was also burned next to six merchants. Previously, the commander Bisset had divided his forces so that a part was thrown on the "Santa Rosa".