|Capture of the El Mosquito|
|Part of West Indies Anti-Piracy Operations, Piracy in the Caribbean|
Capture of the El Mosquito
| United States
|Roberto Cofresí's Pirates|
|Commanders and leaders|
| John D. Sloat
140 sailors and
|Casualties and losses|
1 schooner damaged
1 schooner captured
The Capture of the El Mosquito refers to an operation carried out by an alliance between the Spanish Empire forces in Puerto Rico and the United States Navy that resulted in the disabling and confiscation of Roberto Cofresí's pirate flagship, the schooner Ana (otherwise known as the second El Mosquito). The coalition employed two local ships, including a former victim of the pirates named San José y las Animas, and the USS Grampus of the West Indies Squadron. The naval engagement took place on March 2, 1825, and began with a trap set at Boca del Infierno which was followed with a blockade of Jobos Bay. Trapped within the bay and outnumbered the pirates abandoned the ship and escaped to shore, where they were later captured by Puerto Rican authorities and placed on military trial.
Confresi was one of the last pirates to be successful in Caribbean Sea and after his death piracy in the region once again declined. He commanded at least three different vessels during his career, most famous was the fast six gun schooner El Mosquito which was crewed by sixteen men in all. Late in 1824 Cofresi made his most successful attack on a fleet of eight merchant ships, one of which was American-flagged. In response the United States Navy ordered the USS Grampus under Captain John D. Sloat to search the pirates out and destroy them. Two small sloops from Puerto Rico accompanied Grampus during the battle. They were the San Jose and Las Animas, San Jose held six guns and twenty-three officers and marines under the command of Captain Francis Storer. The Las Animas carried one gun and twenty-seven officers and men under Captain Garrett. Grampus was specifically designed for fighting piracy, she was armed with two 12-pounders (5.4 kg) and sixteen 24-pounder (11 kg) carronades and had a crew of 142 officers and enlisted. She was already a veteran ship that defeated a pirate brig from Puerto Rico in 1822.
The American and Spanish flotilla searched several Puerto Rican ports before finding the pirates on March 2, cruising off Boca del Infierno, a channel leading into Jobos Bay that is located between two keys, Cayo Caribes and Cayos de Barca. Cofresi, on deck of the El Mosquito, first thought USS Grampus was a merchantman so he ordered an attack and when his schooner closed the range, the Americans raised the Navy Jack and fired a broadside at the incoming pirates. The broadside was followed by additional shots from the sloops and the pirates took to evasive maneuvers and returned fire at the Grampus. After forty-five minutes of dueling, resisting the attack proved to be pointless so Captain Cofresi decided to disengage and try to flee along the coast. The Americans, and Spanish troops on land, closely pursued the El Mosquito until the schooner was too heavily damaged. Her masts, sails and rigging were all torn to pieces by cannon fire. Cofresi then chose to abandon ship and swim to shore, all while under fire from the chasing squadron. Eventually the El Mosquito was seized and at least three pirates were killed and six others were wounded, including the captain. USS Grampus sustained only slight damage and a couple wounded.
The remaining thirteen pirates escaped to shore and headed for the jungle, American sailors landed to search for the pirates and inform the Puerto Ricans of the matter. Six pirates were captured by American forces that same night and later at about 10:30 pm, Cofresi and a few more pirates were taken by Spanish forces after a skirmish along a road leading away from the area. The Americans handed their prisoners over to the Spanish garrison of El Morro Castle and they were executed by firing squad on March 29, 1825. John Sloat later became a commodore in the United States Navy and served during the California and Pacific Coast Campaigns of the Mexican-American War.
Order of BattleEdit
United States Navy:
- El Mosquito, schooner
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2010)|
- Harold J. Liden. History of the Puerto Rican independence movement, Volume 1.
- Duany, Jorge, The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island and in the United States, University of North Carolina Press (2002) ISBN 0-8078-5372-0
- Roberto Fernández Valledor, "The Capture of Roberto Cofresi" University Editorial, University of Puerto Rico (1978) ISBN 0-8477-0556-0