"Your Guide to the Inca Empire"
About Peru History

Miguel Grau

by Cesar Skeete
(Toronto)

Miguel Grau

Miguel Grau

Miguel Grau Angamos Naval Battle

(Miguel Grau Seminario, Paita, 1834 - Punta Angamos, 1879) Marino and Peruvian military, naval heroe of the Battle of Angamos.


Miguel Grau was son of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Manuel Grau Berrio, Catalan descent, and Luisa Castillo Seminar, a descendant of old families in the region. His childhood was spent in Piura and later at the port of Paita.

In 1843, still a child, the little Miguel embarked on a schooner commanded by Ramon Herrera, a friend of his father, who made a trip from Paita to Panama. Unfortunately, the schooner was wrecked and when he returned home, her mother was not willing to consent and new adventures.

When Miguel Grau was eleven years old Mrs Luisa, his mother, took him back across the oceans. Then traveled the seas for nine years, according to historian Alberto Tauro del Pino, the young Grau did sail through seas of Asia, Europe and America in various transports.

Returning to Peru in 1853, he moved to Lima, where he studied with the Spanish poet Velarde and studied to enter the Navy. On March 14, 1854 Miguel Grau became part of the Peruvian Navy.

In 1872, with the outbreak of the Gutierrez brothers revolution, Grau led the Navy's pronouncement against the dictatorship. Not being listened to reorganize and modernize the Navy, he entered politics and was elected deputy by Paita in the period between 1876 and 1878. When Chile declared war on Peru in 1879, Grau agreed to lead the Navy first division knowing the superiority that Chile had in number of ships, guns and thick armor, and knowing the poor condition of the Peruvian units.

He began his campaign in May of that year and in his first battle, he sank the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. On October 1879 the Huascar left the port of Iquique, where the transport Rimac had landed troops under his protection, in what was his final departure.

The Chilean navy had changed commanders and ordered his fleet into two divisions to hunt down the now famous Miguel Grau. Their plan succeeded in October 8, 1879 when they discovered the Huascar at sea, off Point Angamos Battle of Angamos), accompanied by the Union, traveling north.

The Chilean fleet, consisting of six vessels, all of them much better equipped, formed a circle to battle with the Peruvian navy flagship. Miguel Grau ordered the Union to sail away to distract the enemy fleet, which was achieved in part because two Chilean corvettes went in pursuit. The Union was faster and escaped, the Huascar instead was confronted by the ship Cochrane, with its massive firepower, that managed to pierce the armor of the Huascar.

Miguel Grau's body was not recovered, his remains were buried with military honours in Chile, and they were returned to Peru in 1958. His final resting place is at the Escuela Militar Naval del Peru, in El Callao, in an underground mausoleum.

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