Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

#201 Adventurer--Lord Admiral Cochrane

Lord Cochrane

My distant cousin, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), was an officer of the Royal Navy.  By all accounts he was adventurous and very successful.  So successful in fact that during the Napoleonic Wars that Napoleon called him Le Loup des Mers ('The Sea Wolf').

The Speedy and El Gamo
Lord Cochrane joined the British Navy at the age of 17.  He served under his uncle, Admiral Alexander Cochrane.  He was given command of his own ship, the Speedy.  Always smart, when a Spanish war ship tried to capture him, he flew the Danish flag, and turned back a boarding group by stating that the ship had many cases of the plague on board.  In addition, when followed by an enemy frigate, that night he put a barrel in the water with a candle on it.  The enemy followed the barrel and Cochrane and his ship escaped.  Lord Cochrane was well know for his capture of the Spanish frigate El Gamo in 1801. El Gamo was a large ship with 32 guns and a crew of 319.  In contrast the Speedy had 14 guns and 54 seamen.  Flying an American flag, Cochrane brought the Speedy so near to El Gamo that her guns could not fire.  While the Spanish tried to board the Speedy, Cochrane turned away and fired his guns at the Speedy.  Later Cochrane boarded and captured El Gamo even though he was outnumbered 5 to 1.

Cochrane did well with the Speedy.  He captured, burned or pushed ashore 53 ships before Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois captured him.

Lord Cochrane served as a model for several books.  C.S. Forester used him as a model for Horatio Hornblower .  He also served as the model for Jack Aubrey in thenovels by Patrick O'Brian. 

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