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Louis-Michel Aury was a French Corsair operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean during the early 19th century.

Aury was born in Paris, France, in around 1788. He served in the French Navy, but from 1802 served in privateer ships. By 1810 he had accumulated enough prize money to become the master of his own vessel.

He then gave his support to the Spanish colonies in South America in their fight for independence from Spain. In April 1813 he sailed from North Carolina on his own privateer ship with Venezuelan letters-of-marque to attack Spanish ships. He was then commissioned as "Commodore of the Navy of New Grenada" (Colombia), and at great expense, evacuated hundreds of people from the besieged city of Cartagena, Colombia to Haiti. He then argued with Simón Bolívar, leader of the Latin American revolutionaries over payment for his services.

He then accepted a commission from the fledgling Republic of Mexico as Civil and Military Governor of Texas, and established a privateering base on Galveston Island, Texas, in September 1816.

However while Aury was away transporting Francisco Javier Mina and his men to Mexico, Jean Lafitte took control of the base at Galveston. On his return to Texas, Aury made an ill-fated attempt to establish another base at Matagorda Bay. He finally left Texas in 1817 to assist the Scottish adventurer Gregor MacGregor, self-styled "Brigadier-General of the United Provinces of the New Granada and Venezuela and General-in-Chief of the armies of the two Floridas", in attacking Spanish Florida from Amelia Island. MacGregor left in November but Aury remained, proclaiming the island an independent republic. However, the US Army drove Aury out in December 1817.

On 4 July 1818 he captured Old Providence Island (Isla de Providencia) in the western Caribbean, and began a settlement with a thriving economy based on captured Spanish cargo, while unsuccessfully trying to rebuild good relations with Bolivar. He was thrown from a horse and killed in August 1821, though some sources claim he was living in Havana in 1845.

Aury attempts to liberate Central America

In 1820, its capital was Guatemala City so Central America was still seen under the sway of Spain, thus was open to attack from its enemies. In order attempt to secure their independence, the Colombian insurgents fitted a combined sea and land expedition to operate against the ports of Omoa and Trujillo.

On the 21st of April (1820) the watch-tower at Capiro in Trujillo Port, announced the approach of a Colombian flotilla. The port's garrison, commanded by Jose M. Palomar, at once made preparations for emergencies during the impending attack. At two o’clock afternoon, the approaching flotilla hoisted a flag with two blue bars and a white one between them showing an escutcheon in the center. Commodore Louis-Michel Aury dispatched a boat to shore to demand the port’s surrender within one hour. The town did not comply. The following day Commodore Aury moved the flotilla to the mouth of the Guaimoreto river and began bombardment. The attack started at 9 AM and lasted until 2 PM. The firing ceased when the flotilla was ordered out to sea and out of the reach of the port’s cannons. A portion of the land force then attempted to enter the town by the rear, but was detected and driven out. During the night of the 24th, the Colombian vessels dropped out of sight. On the 25th the flotilla appeared off the port of Omoa and for several days attempted to land. Commodore Aury was unsuccessful and left the area on the 6th of May. It is believed that Louis-Michel Aury died the following year, but is not recognized by any of the countries he served. Aury was perceived as a member of the Colombian fighters because of his affiliation with Simon Bolivar.

Bibliography

History of Central America, by Hubert Howe Bancroft

External links

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