Protect British merchant ships
The new detainees comprised the Edward Ellis and Lord Suffield carrying wine, hardware and quicksilver from Europe,Catalina andColombia with general cargoes, Indian with earthenware and Diadem, Robert and Walsingham loaded with flour. They were sent to an assembly point at Huacho to join Rebecca andSpeculator – the latter detained not by the navy but by the commander ofthe fortat Pasamoyo. In accordance with their instructions, the Royal Navy’s captains did nothing beyond issuing formal protests and trusting that the Chilean prize courts would rectify any illegal detentions. Indeed, they not only declined to use force to protect British merchant ships, but actually told theChileans that they had no intention of doing so.
Officers ofthe United States Navy followed amore vigorous line. When the USS Macedonian left Callao at the end of November, she passedCochrane’s blockading line with five American ships under the protection of her guns –Zephyr,Pallas,Dick,PantherandSavage. By arrangement with Captain Searle of Hyperion – who fired asalute to underline this instance of Anglo-American solidarity – she was also accompanied by the British shipsEgham, Matilda and Royal Sovereign. With the American frigate cleared for action, Cochrane’s blockading squadron refrained from interfering and let them pass even though they believed that Downes was carrying Spanish aswell as neutral money. On her way home to the United States, Macedonian stopped off atHuacho on Christmas Day and, finding American merchantmanLouisadetained in the anchorage, promptly forced her release as well. Her replacement on the station, the USS Constellation, followed exactly the same policy.