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After the Battle


On 17 October 1804, the frigate Fama arrived at the port of Portsmouth while the Medea and Clara docked two days later in Plymouth. The officers and crew of the ships were held prisoner on board because an outbreak of yellow fever had been declared. When the quarantine was lifted, the entire crew was freed and the cargo confiscated. All the funds, including the salaries of the officers and troops, were sent to the Bank of London. A total of almost three million pesos arrived there, although the list of funds, drawn up by Diego de Alvear and Miguel de Zapiain, commanders of the frigates Medea and Fama, declared that the amount they were carrying was less than that on the customs records of the port of El Callao.

Thanks to a letter from José de Anduaga, Ambassador of Spain to Great Britain, to Pedro Ceballos, Secretary of State and of the Office of State, we know the details of the meeting the Spanish ambassador had with the Minister of State, Lord Harrowby. While José de Anduaga indignantly defended the affront of the British attack on a non-hostile power, the British government argued it had given orders for the British Navy to intercept any incoming funds to Spain due to the certainty that Spain was financially supporting France. It also blamed General Bustamante for not surrendering the ships and thus causing the sinking.

There were constant appeals by the Spanish diplomatic corps seeking guarantees to respect service pay, the salaries of officers and crew, as well as any amounts of money that had been transported privately.

All negotiations were of course suspended when, on 14 December 1804, war was formally declared between Great Britain and Spain. The matter was also pending in the agreements reached by the two powers in March 1809 after the Spanish uprising against Napoleon's troops and Britain's intervention in the Peninsular War. It was not until 1824 when an order was given to pay compensation to those who had been prisoners of war prior to 1805.