Grau, Miguel (1834–1879)

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Grau, Miguel (1834–1879)

Miguel Grau (b. 1834; d. 1879), Peru's greatest naval hero, renowned for his prowess as admiral of the Peruvian navy in command of the ironclad Huáscar during the War of the Pacific (1879–1883). Born in Piura, Grau started his career as a sailor on whaling ships. In 1856 he obtained the rank of lieutenant. He participated in the caudillo struggles of the time in support of General Manuel Ignacio Vivanco against Ramón Castilla, a political decision that led to his ouster from the war navy in 1858. At the end of Castilla's second presidential term, however, Grau was back in the navy on a mission to Europe under Admiral Aurelio García y García to buy badly needed warships. In 1865, Grau supported Colonel Manuel Ignacio Prado's uprising against compliance with a forced treaty with Spain, and in 1866 he fought the bellicose Spanish fleet in the battle of Abtao.

In 1868, Grau was appointed commander of the Huáscar. He opposed the coup attempt by the Gutiérrez Brothers in 1872, after which he became commander in chief of the Peruvian navy as well as deputy for Paita (1876–1878). At the start of the War of the Pacific in 1879, Grau returned to the command of the Huáscar, one of two ironclads Peru sent against the far more numerous Chilean fleet. Grau performed legendary feats against Chilean vessels and ports trying to buy time for new warship purchases. He died in the naval battle of Angamos, which secured decisive naval superiority for Chile.

See alsoWar of the Pacific .


Jorge Basadre, Historia de la República del Perú, vol. 5 (1963).

Additional Bibliography

Moya Espinoza, Reynaldo. Grau. Cercado de Lima, Peru: Grupo Editorial Megabyte, 2003.

Ortíz Sotelo, Jorge. Miguel Grau, el hombre y el mar. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2003.

                                          Alfonso W. Quiroz